Monday, September 19, 2011

Restaurant Review: Maumee Bay Brewing Company

Maumee Bay Brewing Company
Maumee Bay Brewing Company

The Oliver House
27 Broadway; Toledo, Ohio 43604
(419) 243-1302
Mon – Thurs 3 PM - 10 PM
Fri - Sat 3 PM - 11 PM
Closed Sunday
Maumee Bay Brewing Company

Although I've eaten many times at Maumee Bay Brewing I've never given it a review, mainly because I'm lazy.  Big Mike and I customarily eat a late lunch at Maumee Bay after shooting at The Bullet Stop, there being few things that go together as nicely as lunch after shooting.  In short, Maumee Bay is a micro brewery, producing two products and offering a third that both of us enjoy.  So generally, there isn't much of an argument about where we go after we finish shooting.  Note that I said generally, because recently things got bad enough that I considered mounting a serious objection to Maumee Bay.

Maumee Bay Brewing Co.
 Maumee Bay produces several different kinds of beer and ale that I enjoy, but their stellar product is non-alcoholic: Root beer.  For those of you that haven't tried it, take it from me it's worth a special trip to Maumee Bay Brewing Co. just to get a growler of root beer to take home with you.  This is brewed on site using a special secret recipe passed along to the Master Brewer by someone or other whose name is unknown to the author.  Anyway, we saw it on the menu some months back and decided to try a sample of the root beer.  Both of us left with a growler, although mom ended up drinking most of mine.  I generally like the India Pale Ale and the Total Eclipse Breakfast Stout.  Big Mike favors the Amarillo Brillo.

Amarillo Brillo

India Pale Ale
I'm something of a brass magnet and as such will often find a few spent casings lodged in my clothing.  Here are three from either Betsy or Big Nose Kate.  I tend to think they were from Betsy, as Kate throws her red hot empties over the partition on the shooter's right side and onto whomever occupies the neighboring booth. 

If you haven't sampled these wares, I urge a little caution.  None of these brews have a typical alcohol content.  The Breakfast Stout is around 9%, and the Brillo is about 8% as is the IPA.  By comparison Budweiser is about 5% alcohol - so figure two Buds to one Brillo.  Also remember that the police are serious about this drunk driving stuff.  Back in the 1950s you might have been turned loose with a warning to 'be more careful', these days you'll be cuffed and stuffed as one more statistic for MADD, SADD, GLADD and DAMM.  Do you really want to be a statistic?  No?  So ends the standard disclaimer.

Cheddar Cheese Beer Soup
This food at Maumee Bay is good.  The place serves large portions and the quality is better than average.  I've had the French Dip sandwich and various other bar foods, but I'm hooked on the cheddar cheese beer soup.  Big Mike usually gets a pretzel which is home made and fired in the oven, but the quality of this item has dropped a little recently.  Both of us have eaten and enjoyed the various burgers, which are gigantic and large enough for two or three meals.  So, if you're taking your main lady with you, you might want to split most entrees just because of the size.  If you're in the mood for desert, be sure to try the root beer float with the local root beer - it is outstanding!

The ambiance at Maumee Bay is nice.  It could be a little quieter, but I'm not complaining.  The place is advertised as a brew pub, and it succeeds at this.  You can come and sit at the bar or get a table, enjoy a conversation with your friends and watch the game on one of four televisions as it pleases you.  The room is well lit and the temperature is controlled.  I've never found it too hot or too cold, and the tables are far enough apart so that people can sit comfortably.  Nor will you find an elite cadre of obnoxious drunks at Maumee Bay; it isn't that kind of place and I don't think the management would tolerate their behavior - although the management is very tolerant of the staff's behavior.

The bad part about the Maumee Bay Brewing Company is the service.  When Big Mike and I first started showing up at Maumee Bay, we met Anthony the ace bartender.  Anthony took good care of us and we left him a generous gratuity, and all was well with the world.  Anthony was happy to see us come in - we're low maintenance, easy to please and generous.  Then Anthony left and all that changed.  Three weeks ago Big Mike and I arrived at Maumee Bay around 4:00 PM, hungry and thirsty - and we couldn't get anyone to wait on us.  I counted five (5, the number between four and six) waitresses who congregated along the bar and not one would so much as look in our direction.  Not even when I waved at them.  After five minutes of this I decided I'd had enough and walked over to the bar to place our beer order.  The bartender was talking to the only other person at the bar and refused to pay any attention to me, even when I announced I'd like a beer.  Nope, I was studiously ignored.  As I turned away, two wait staff came out of the back.  A tall, thin young man announced that he'd wait on us, and he acted like he'd just drawn the short straw.  We ordered drinks and food, and explained that we were unhappy about the service and why we were unhappy.  He said he'd pass that along to the manager, to which I added that I'd like to speak to the manager personally.  Eventually we got our beer, and shortly after that our food order was delivered.  The manager didn't show up until after we were served and had a chance to finish lunch.  And no, that isn't a coincidence.  The manager knows, and I know that people are much more irritable when they're hungry and thirsty, and she was hoping that the edge would be taken off.

The manager (for all I know she is the owner/manager) arrived and listened patiently as we explained just how and why we were unhappy with the service.  When she started to defend the bartender, I objected.  Waitresses should never ignore a customer, but realistically anyone can be a waitress at the Maumee Bay Brewing Company.  It isn't neurosurgery, no experience is necessary and on the job training is provided.  The bartender is different.  Not everyone can be a bartender.  It takes a combination of real skill and personality.  Frequently the bartender actually has to run the dining room and provide the final word in customer service.  When the bartender willfully ignores paying customers, there is a serious problem.  The manager made placating noises and failed to offer us any free drinks or food by way of compensation for the extremely poor service.  She did, however, promise to have a talk with her staff and her bartender and correct the problem.  On the way out Big Mike wondered if she actually would correct the behavior.  I thought it was likely, but I didn't much care.  I didn't want to return to Maumee Bay.  Mike thought we should try it again, so one week later we did.

I have no idea if the manager fired a bunch of people and hired some new staff or just provided some training, but I can tell you that we did not have the same annoying bartender we had before.  The woman behind the bar clearly knew what she was doing, as did our waitress.  I would say that the service went from a dead loss to the best you could reasonably expect in a brew pub.  I intend to return and see if things remain consistent.
The Entrance to Maumee Bay
I enjoy the Maumee Bay Brewing Company and I intend to continue my patronage.  I also recommend it as a place to go and enjoy yourself in a very casual atmosphere.  The thing that most people don't know and should know is that their root beer is absolutely outstanding.  You won't find any better soft drink East of the Mississippi and North of the Mason-Dixon.  I rate the Maumee Bay Brewing Company as follows:

  • Ambiance: 7
  • Service: 8 (on my last visit - we'll see what the future holds)
  • Food: 7 (root beer is a 10)

Overall rating: 7


Stephanie Lorée said...

I have a couple friends who are really into local brews. They've been drinking a lot of Great Lakes recently. I'm not much of a beer person myself, but I could be persuaded to try a root beer.

Will definitely check this place out. Thanks for the review!

Mad Jack said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it.