By Anthony M. FUDA
We took a little stroll back to the Roaring ’20s and found a tasty burger along the way.
Our destination was The Speakeasy Lounge, located beneath the Best Western, on courthouse square, in Warren. As we entered the beautifully renovated, 123-year-old historical building, we felt like we were in an old Speakeasy, looking for the right person to give us a tip of the cap, or wink and finger gesture telling us where to go.
Something told us to head downstairs. After walking down the steps we found what we were looking for – a large bar area with two sections for shooting dice and playing numbers... er, I mean having a great burger and an ice cold brew.
Pam and Tony Schofer own this fine establishment and Tony said they opened the bar a couple years ago so he had something to do while Pam was at work. Tony added, “This is an older crowd bar where you can come in for a drink and relax, and on the weekends listen to some really good local music.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Speakeasy Lounge, 136 N. Park Ave., Warren
Hours: Sun-Mon: closed; Tuesday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday: 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday: 4 p.m.-1 a.m.
Menu: Four burgers ($9.50-$11)
Grade: 4 1/2 stars
On the night we went, it was trivia night – so much for the gangsters coming in and raiding a numbers’ racket – unless answers on trivia cards count in the illegal numbers game.
While we were deciding which burgers to order, we tried the pulled pork nachos. Delicious is the word that comes to mind about the rather large appetizer. The four of us finished off this beast and saved room for the main attraction – the burgers.
We took a gander at the menu and saw the mobster theme in the half-pound burgers. The burgers are a proprietary blend of steak, chuck, brisket and short ribs from local sourced Midwestern grain-fed beef. The burgers are sided with hand cut fries or homemade chips.
The menu offers:
Lucky Luciano (blackened burger, bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo)
Bugsy Segal (mushrooms, caramelized onions, Ohio Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo)
Meyer Lansky (burger with pulled pork, Ohio Swiss cheese, Asian slaw, mayo)
One Eyed Jake (bacon, cheddar cheese, egg, served on a grilled glazed donut, topped with Maple Aioli)
Build Your Own (multiple toppings ranging from Free to $2)
I tipped my fedora and ordered the Bugsy Segal. It was cooked perfectly with a nice line of pink in the center, The beef was tender and juicy and the toppings were fresh like they were grown just for me. With each bite, the caramelized onions and mushrooms brought you into the burger and the melted Swiss cheese continued the flavor blast. The lettuce, tomato and onion tasted like they were picked from the garden and hand- placed on my burger. The overall flavor was very good with all the toppings working well with each other leading you on to each next bite. The only thing that could have made this already delicious burger better would have been two strips of bacon, but then again bacon makes everything better. I went with the hand-cut fries and they were just like fair fries, which, for me, take a burger to the next level. I snuck some of the French onion dip from the chips the other guys had to dip my fries, and really enjoyed the perfect addition to an already great burger.
Eric looked over the menu a couple times before making his final decision, noting, “Seeing the words pulled pork as an ingredient for a burger was enough to tempt me into selecting the Meyer Lansky. Next to burgers, I feel no one should ever pass up a good pulled pork sandwich. When it was delivered to the table I knew I was in for a treat. The burger itself dwarfed the plate it sat upon. Then my first bite came and I knew I made the right decision. Each bite that followed seemed to leave me clamoring for another. If you have a big appetite, there’s no doubt this burger will appease it.”
Scott, our resident bleu cheese connoisseur saw the Lucky Luciano and gave it a try, noting, “the beef was cooked a perfect medium just the way I like it, and as for the bleu cheese, I like a good bleu cheese burger and this burger was a good one. There was a nice balance of bleu cheese and burger, it was perfect! The toppings just accentuated this burger.”
JT, who finished his burger in no time flat, offered his commentary, “Being a fan of egg on a burger, I went with The Speakeasy’s version of a breakfast burger, The One Eyed Jake. It was an absolutely fantastic burger! The two things that set this burger apart from other breakfast burgers I’ve had are the maple aioli and the donuts used as the bun. I was hesitant about the aioli but it really worked with this sandwich because, as Tony explained to us, the plain donuts are actually grilled in a waffle maker! They looked just like two small Belgium waffles with a pinch of powdered sugar. The combination of sweet and savory was truly remarkable. Definitely a top shelf burger on my scorecard. I will have to return to give the ‘Al Capone’ a try.”
Tony says the best selling sandwich is the Al Capone. It is not technically a burger, but it fits all the criteria – sliced prime rib, provolone cheese, with horseradish sour cream sauce served on a soft and tender roll.
You don’t need to know a password at the Speakeasy, or even bribe the doorman to get in. All you have to do is head to the Square in downtown Warren and take a few steps downstairs to find a delicious burger to tickle your fancy.
Keep reading the Valley food section each Wednesday for the best food the Valley has to offer.
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