Along the waterfront of the Flats, in the heart of Cleveland, a new hybrid business has opened. Two weekends ago, this new establishment graced the people of Cleveland with its ambitious concept: a combination of a high-quality restaurant with a bar, bowling alley and an arcade to boot. To accommodate the scale, the establishment was built across a whopping 27,000 square-foot plot of land, I learned when I arrived at the hybrid restaurant last Sunday evening.
The overall look of Punch Bowl Social is a combination of industrial and modern. The bowling alley part of the restaurant consists of a few lanes in a corner of the building, which was also being used as an eatery, most likely for parties. An arcade graces the right area of Punch Bowl Social, showcasing a wide variety of different games, from “Ms. Pac-Man” to “Galaga,” an Alaskan hunting game.
Punch Bowl is comprised of two floors available to the public: One floor consists of the bowling lanes, arcade and a bar, while the second floor is comprised of another, more intricate bar, several television sets and several fanciful rest areas to boot. The main aspect of Punch Bowl Social is the restaurant on the first floor, which serves a great variety of meals, many of which you would find at a sports bar: burgers, sandwiches, wraps, tacos and a wide variety of drinks. This all fits into the “Eat. Drink. Social.” slogan that the business is trying to achieve with its hybrid, ambitious creation.
When I first arrived at Punch Bowl, I was pleasantly greeted by several waitresses, and was invited to sit anywhere I would like. The day I went, Sunday, was an open seating day, but on other days, reservations and waiter seating take precedence. I sat near the bar, although I didn’t order a drink. After sitting I was greeted immediately by my helpful waitress of the evening, Brianna, who gave me the rundown of what was available and was courteous. She also brought along some water, served from a crafty jug into water jars on the table. Brianna recommended the blueberry lemonade as the finest from the drink menu.
Following this, I ordered another recommendation from Brianna as my main course, the “Cubano,” a sandwich with pork, ham, mustard cream, gruyere cheese and pickles. The wait time was short and I was attended quickly and effectively. After a few minutes, I was greeted by both my drink and my meal, and with house-cut fries to boot. Almost immediately I fell in love with the Cubano and the blueberry lemonade. The sandwich was well-cooked, and it was a great portion of food as well, with the fries also coming off as delectable and nicely cooked. Overall I feel that the food was a godsend, along with the sweet, cool nature of the blueberry lemonade, which complimented the food nicely.
Ultimately Punch Bowl Social is a fine addition to the food and social scenes of Cleveland, and with the added benefit of accommodating parties, it could serve as a powerhouse for the area with some strong, long-lasting legs to its ambitious intentions.
Location: 1086 Old River Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Price Range: $5-$20