Before you go eat at The Club Room at The Clyde, make sure you check The Clyde Theatre's website. I didn't and there was no way I was getting in for dinner because there was a show that night and the place was slammed.
Even on the nights there weren't shows, the restaurant was busy, however, because having it as part of the Clyde landscape makes it the kind of place you want to check out, even non-music fans. It, like the theater, is trendy, and some may just want to go so they can say they have been there.
Even though the place was super cool, had a hip vibe and felt like the kind of place the cool people hang out at, I was more interested in what things looked like on the plate and not how the people mingling at the bar looked on Friday night.
There were trendy choices for sure – lobster corn dogs and Korean street tacos, for example – but much of the menu was far from fancy with selections one might hope to nosh on before or after a show.
Chicken strips are far from haute cuisine especially when they are coated with a breading made from Cap'n Crunch cereal. The Cereal Killer Crispy Chicken Strips were headliners for sure. The finely ground breading clung to them well and made them super crunchy. That breading also had a nice savory flavor – a surprise given the sugary cereal. The chicken was cooked perfectly, so it was juicy, and what truly made them worth going back for was the enticing sauces.
I chose two off-the-wall sauces and found they really worked well together. The Peanut Butter and Jelly (Thai peanut sauce with savory raspberry jelly drizzle) was fun and flavorful, but I felt like it needed some heat. Luckily, I also chose the Clyde Hot Sauce and found it to be decent on its own. But when I mixed some of it with the PB&J, the strips had that perfect level of heat and sweet.
The Club Room's pizza was perfect. My Mediterranean had a nicely charred, thin crust and the balance between the olive oil as its sauce, the cheese and the fresh spinach and vegetable toppings – roasted garlic, marinated artichoke hearts, ripe sliced tomatoes, red onions and Kalamata olives – was just right. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar brought it all together, and the only thing that could have made it better was a little feta cheese and some fresh herbs.
Cheese Curds are starting to become one of those snacks I am tired of seeing everywhere, but the Club Room's were spot on. They had a coarse breading that had a crunchy texture much different – and better – than standard-issue battered curds. And the zesty mayo for dipping would be good on about anything.
A pair of seafood starters were suitable for an upscale restaurant and won favor. The Grill and Chill Shrimp was a cocktail with jumbo shrimp that had been nicely kissed on the grill and then chilled. The cocktail sauce had a wonderfully pungent horseradish kick while still being sweet and well-rounded. Not only was it perfect with the chilled seafood, it was also great for the cheese curds.
The Lobster Corn Dogs were nicely fried and were a fun, playful starter – anything served on a stick usually is. The remoulade was better than the whole-grain mustard as a dip, but they did not scream lobster to me probably because they were made from lobster and shrimp.
The fried avocado wedges were warm and creamy inside, but their crunchy exterior was extremely salty, and there was not enough zesty mayo or lime ranch dressing to hide it.
The “loaded” Gouda Mac & Cheese variations were hard to choose from because they all sounded great. I made a wise choice with the Korean barbecued beef as it was tender and perfectly sauced. The macaroni was al dente, the blend of cheeses was nice, and I would like to try more versions.
I will not be having the breaded tenderloin again. It was strongly suggested by a friend, but I found its batter to be rather bland. It was thick and meaty, but that was not enough to make up for the lack of seasoning.
The broccoli slaw side and Chicken Florentine soup were also too bland to be ordered again. But those were really the only bland things about The Club Room.
Its setting is comfortable and casual, and its smattering of colorful music-themed art is delightful with the highlight being a large mural in the main dining room. If you follow the snazzy bar that runs along a corridor to the back room, you will find the impressive live music venue for smaller crowds.
The service at The Club Room was impressive, too. The staff members had a solid knowledge of the menu and were willing to make suggestions, and I never felt neglected or overlooked.
When you add it all up, it is a smash hit and should draw the crowds even when The Clyde Theatre is empty.
Restaurant: The Club Room at The Clyde
Address: 1806 Bluffton Road
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Alcohol: Full bar
Credit cards: Yes
Menu: Cheese curds ($8), avocado wedges ($8), Grill & Chill Shrimp ($9), lobster corn dogs ($10 for 3; $13 for 4), soup ($3 cup; $6 bowl), tenderloin ($11), chicken strips ($11), mac and cheese ($10; loaded $13), Mediterranean Pizza ($15)
Rating breakdown: Food: ★★ (3-star maximum); atmosphere: ★ (1 maximum), service: ★ (1 maximum)
Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org; call at 461-8130. Past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. Follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuVall.
The Club Room
Out of a possible five