For our second anniversary, my husband made reservations for us at Alley Cat Oyster Bar. There are a lot of new restaurants in the area, but Alley Cat is the king of the Cuyahoga, perched seductively along the river, loaded with windows that open wide to catch the breezes and multiple levels of decks to take full advantage of of it's prime location.
It was a Monday night but the restaurant was packed. (Pro tip: Make reservations well ahead of time if you want to eat during prime time.) They have a lot of outdoor dining space and have a rooftop level with a separate bar area.
They have a nice selection of specialty cocktails - I tried the Crooked River Punch (2 rums, mango, guava and lime) and the Cat's Pajamas (house made lemonade with Tito's vodka, strawberry and jalapeno.) Both were well balanced and not too sweet.
The hush puppies we ordered weren't such a success. They were flavorless except for the odd cumin scented cream sauce served with them and were greasy. Definitely order something else.
Thankfully the entrees were nothing like the hush puppies. We both opted for a catch of the day. Mark chose the halibut served in a dashi broth with foraged mushrooms and an assortment of summer squashes. He was very grateful when one of the many waiters we had thought to bring him a spoon so he could scoop up the earthy broth.
I almost ordered the Thai whole red snapper but changed my mind at the last minute - I was not disappointed! I opted for the walleye served over smashed cauliflower, with carrots and asparagus and a cherry port sauce. Wow! The fish was perfect but the sides really made this dish. It was one of the best fish dishes I've had. The menu changes regularly so if this is still on there, order it. You won't be sorry.
The atmosphere was great except for the noise. The music was way too loud and this was made even worse because we were sitting under a speaker. One of my biggest pet peeves is having to yell across a table at dinner. After some tables opened up, I requested to move to get away from the speaker at least. The waiter was very accommodating and said that he also felt that it was too loud and had already asked management to turn down the volume. After the move and the blaring music being taken care of, just in time for our entrees to arrive, it was perfect.
Service was very good, but we had at least 4 or 5 servers during our visit. Each of them were really nice and did a great job - I think we had so many because a couple were being trained.
When you go, be sure to take a stroll along the boardwalk. We went before dinner to catch the sunset and then after to walk off all the food we ate.
Overall, we loved Alley Cat. We both commented that we felt like we were on vacation because of the venue and location. The food was fantastic and there are a lot of options for people who don't like seafood or oysters too. I want to go back and try the lobster roll, baked oysters, green papaya and roasted chicken salad and the charred broccoli caesar. I will not be trying the $15 grilled cheese (yikes!) Check out the complete menu here.
Happy hour is daily from 3-6pm:
BARBECUE WINGS 7
CRISPY OYSTERS 8
SHRIMP COCKTAIL 2.5 each
OYSTERS 2 each
LATIN LOADED FRIES 7
POPCORN SHRIMP 7
RED & WHITE WINE 4
TECATE CAN 2
Alley Cat Oyster Bar • 1056 Old River Road • Cleveland • 216-574-9999