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Published: Thursday, 11/10/2005

Restaurant review: Maumee Bay Brewing Co. **

The Maumee Bay Brewing Co. is one of several establishments
in the historic Oliver House.
The Maumee Bay Brewing Co. is one of several establishments in the historic Oliver House.

The Oliver House on the edge of downtown Toledo is not only one of the city s historic landmarks, it s also home to two restaurants, a sports bar, and a museum that celebrates the bubbly pleasures of beer.

Everywhere you turn in the Maumee Bay Brewing Company & Restaurant, located upstairs in the splendidly renovated 19th century building, there are beer bottles and cans by the hundreds, plus caps, trays, trinkets, church keys, drinking glasses, posters, and slick ads extolling the virtues of beer.

Particular emphasis is given to Toledo s own Buckeye Beer, which has been brewed in the city since 1838. A section of the sprawling museum features a Toledo Brewing Hall of Fame honoring local beermakers over the years.

James and Patricia Appold, who own the raw-brick and wood-beamed former hotel, also make their own microbrews in gleaming tanks and copper kettles housed behind glass. Among the choices, naturally, is a light lager named Buckeye, inspired by and brewed from the original Buckeye recipe.

But if beer steals most of the attention in the brewpub, the restaurants also attract customers with a hunger for steaks, seafood, and pizzas baked in a brick oven. The upscale Rockwell s delivers the most pleasure per plate with its prime steaks; Mutz is a peanuts and popcorn sports bar, and the original Maumee Bay restaurant, reviewed here, falls somewhere in between.

On several recent visits, the Maumee Bay food ranged from fair to disappointing, with some dishes worth going back for and others that left us wanting.

Among the delights were a cup of cheddar beer soup ($1.99) and beer cheese fries ($4.99) with the soup as topping. A tingling appetizer of shrimp jammers ($6.99) combined breaded shrimp with stuffed jalapeno peppers and a berry dipping sauce, and the crispy house salad featured hard-boiled egg slices and real bacon.

A seafood scampi pizza ($9.29) with lobster and shrimp went down well, as did a thick cut of Brewpub steak ($16.99). Served with wonderful roasted potatoes, it was dutifully pink and flavorful, but somewhat dry.

Dryness also interfered with the taste of a beer-battered white pollack sandwich ($5.99), while the pan-seared halibut ($11.95) was mushy, flavorless, and marred by a thick rope of connective tissue. Also, the half-pound burger ($5.99), supposedly made from Angus beef, tasted as if had been pre-formed and frozen before it hit the grill.

By way of beverage, $4.50 will buy a Brewer s Sampler of six microbrews, ranging from a light Buckeye to a medium dark rye to a black, butter Russian imperial stout. To my taste, Buckeye won the day.

• Correction: Last week s review of Ansara s Steakhouse listed a wrong phone number. The correct number is 419-472-4482.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com

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