As summer wanes, Toledo-area residents and restaurateurs will fire up their grills, pour a cold beer, and tune into the American sports tradition that is football.
What better place to celebrate this tradition than the brewpub Inside the Five in Sylvania, where the ever-changing list of microbrews pair well with the fare.
A comical tale on Inside the Five's website shows how a relationship bloomed between punter Brandon Fields and offensive lineman Chris Morris at Michigan State University. (Both played in the National Football League). Long story short, the two formed a bond over craft beer and opened Inside the Five in downtown Sylvania, with its 18 taps, a full bar, a full-service kitchen, and a name paying homage to America's game, a decade later.
Address: 5703 Main St., Sylvania
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$$
Credit Cards: MC, V, D, AE.
On our first trip to Sylvania, we started with chicken wings smothered in an ale chipotle sauce ($11). The 10 wings, served with a sweet cherry pepper, had a deep red hue in presentation. The balance of chipotle and ale was level, and the spice wasn’t overbearing. It's a mild, sweet heat that paired well with the Megaphone ($5.50), Inside the Five’s Irish Red Ale sitting at a frothy 4.5 percent alcohol by volume.
For the main course, I ordered the pico burger ($10) with fries ($1 upgrade). Now, I've had tastier pico de gallo at Mexican restaurants in the Toledo area, but that isn’t selling Inside the Five’s salsa short. It added a freshness to the medium-cooked hunk of ground beef pinned between a brioche bun with a cherry pepper on top. Add melted pepper jack cheese, fried onions, lime cilantro aioli, and the meal is quite a treat. The Pooch Punt pilsner ($5.50) at 5.2 percent abv was my least favorite of the beers sampled at Inside the Five. I felt it was a bit bland. But if that's the worst, Inside the Five is still doing beer right.
My friend ordered the saison-glazed salmon ($18). The fresh, tender fish from the North Atlantic was also glazed in honey. The sweetness was light enough that it didn't dominate the dish.
The chive oil, blue cheese crumbles, flash-fried leeks, and blistered tomato complemented the sweetness of the salmon. Finally, fried brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic worked well as a side.
He also had a cup of potato leek soup ($3), which pleased the palate. Not too thick, not too light. Refreshing.
His beer choice with the salmon was the Devil Wears Hoodies ($7.50), which sits at 5.6 percent abv. Hazy and juicy, it worked with the meal.
On our next visit, we started with the bacon-wrapped jalapenos ($8). The fresh jalapenos and bacon were fried with herbed cream cheese and Gouda. The lime cilantro aioli made its return as a dipping sauce. We were disappointed with the number of pieces; we felt six for $8 was a bit overpriced.
The southwest ranch salad ($8) is a mix of greens with sweet corn, tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, and black beans, layered separately on top of the greens with a cup of chipotle ranch. The presentation gives the diner the ability to mix and match with every forkful. Our waitress recommended adding the salmon for $4 extra. But because my friend ordered the fish on our previous visit, he went with the shrimp. The shrimp was $4 for four pieces. He should’ve listened to the waitress.
Chicken is an extra $3. Portabella is an extra $2 as well.
He enjoyed the hoppy Hop Shield IPA ($6, 6.9 percent abv) with the salad.
Chicken and waffles ($12) is a harmony of salty and sweet. Inside the Five does the dish well. A deep-fried piece of buttermilk chicken is smothered with cheddar cheese. The chicken is then placed on a pearl sugar waffle. Cups of porter syrup and honey mustard round out the dish and provide different directions of sweetness. The light, fluffy sugary waffles were excellent. Pour or dip either sauce as well and here is a hearty meal with tender chicken. Highly recommended.
My beer choice was the Boss stout ($5.50). A 5.2 percent abv oatmeal stout did not distract from the chicken and waffles.
We rounded out our meals with the delicious Mocha, Mocha, Mocha ($6, 7 percent abv), which as the name implies is a tasty chocolate coffee IPA. And I chose the I Couldn't Carmel Less ($6, 5.2 percent abv) a stout with carmel and peanuts. Both were a great way to end the meal.
So while Sylvania may have lost some restaurants in the last few years, the city certainly picked up a treat with Inside the Five.
Contact Bill of Fare at: email@example.com.
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