Fracas gatropub opened a couple months ago in the old Centrum theater building in Coventry on Euclid Heights Blvd. The menu and space both looked interesting, so we thought we’d give it a try.

We arrived at a little after six on a dark, snowy Saturday, and the large space was relatively empty. The ceilings were many stories high, and the movie theater screen was still there, albeit closed off by a curtain.

Their beer list is good but not as extensive as Winking Lizard’s down the street. I started with a Brew Kettle Old 21 Imperial IPA on draft, which was a good floral mix of strong hops and a hint of sweet malt. The waiter insisted that Dogfish’s 60 minute IPA was better, but I said that I wanted a beer I hadn’t tried before.

Fracas has a large list of tempting appetizers. We were waffling between pretzels w/ smoked cheddar fondue and chips w/dip, and we chose the latter. These were the best chip / dip combination in recent memory, fresh fried potato chips of the perfect thickness combined with house-made bacon and onion dip. This was the kind of food where you start watching your arms moving forward for more and have to restrain yourself to make sure you have appetite for an entrée.

For a main course Sarah and Jonathan split the half-roasted free range chicken with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and green beans. The chicken was tender and flavorful, and the green beans were nicely cooked and seasoned. Sarah thought the potatoes were overmixed, but I enjoyed them and felt the somewhat unique texture was due to the lower starch content of Yukon Golds.

I couldn’t resist their unique charcuterie plate, which included salmon pastrami, so I ordered it for my entrée. The cheeses were quite good and included a unique grassy-flavored cheese and some Gouda. The inclusion of a perfectly dressed salad and grilled bread was nice as well. The salmon tasted just smoked rather than pastrami spiced, which was a bit disappointing, and the pâté was a tad bland. I paired the plate with a bottle of Wooden Shoe Bock, a good, hoppy lager brewed downstate that I’d never seen before.

In order to get a fuller experience we decided to get some dessert to go, the “Sin” ice cream made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, bacon, and tobacco brittle (I asked the waiter to repeat the flavor because I thought I must have misheard that last ingredient). It was unbelievably good, permanently soft because of the alcohol content, and sweetness balanced by the savory bacon. The brittle was a nice touch, too, a couple slabs of mostly clear rock-candy style sugar with only a hint of tobacco flavor.

Our service was good, although it took a little while to get the check because they started getting busier as we were leaving.

The only real suggestion we’d have would be to add some décor to make the space better fit with the restaurant. The food at Fracas is adventurous with plenty of unusual touches, e.g. Red Ale mustard, “Beeramisu,” Duck Confit Risotto (which I almost ordered) and Roquefort Salad w/Magic Hat #9 Vinaigrette. The background music also was unique, two Modest Mouse songs (including “Polar Opposites,” my all-time favorite drinking song) and a lot of songs that sounded like Modest Mouse. The formality of the space, though, is somewhat in opposition to this vibe (and even their name). Sarah pointed out that this aspect is likely a low priority because of budget. It would be great, though, to see people streaming out of the Grog Shop and into Fracas. One could also eat cheaply with $5-$10 generously portioned apps and sandwiches around the $12 range (w/fries).

We definitely look forward to a return visit, considering the quality of this one and the number of good-looking menu items we have yet to try.

Fracas on Urbanspoon

  • Dineomite

    I’m afraid it’s going to be an uphill climb for these guys. While I myself am not a huge fan of the food at Winking Lizard, many people are. Unfortunately, they’re going after a lot of the same customers. I wish them luck, but the location isn’t the most visible (except for the marquee).

    My favorite beer drinking song? A dimly lit patio in the summer with Radiohead’s “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” spinning in the background. Love it.

  • Brad of Cleveland Food and Brews

    I am looking forward to trying Fracas. Old 21 is a good one to try too! 60min is much lighter than the old 21. 90min would be more on the Old 21’s level of ABV and Hops.

  • Ben

    I wouldn’t say they’re going after Winking Lizard customers (or at least they shouldn’t be, based on their food). Despite the “gastropub” moniker, they’re forte is their food, which reminds me a bit of Amp 150’s, i.e. locally sourced, moderately upscale in an unusual venue. Their food strikes me as a bit more interesting, though, and if they could get a PR machine anything like Amp 150’s they’d be in great shape. I genuinely wish them well.

    I need to listen to IN RAINBOWS more often–and have been meaning to try out the OK COMPUTER / RAINBOWS mix suggested at