(Grilled cheese & tomato soup. © 2008, Robin.)

Friday evening M and I went to Akron to return some fabric swatches (we’re looking to replace the futon we’re giving to M the Younger), and to enjoy a night out.

During the summer months free concerts are held at Lock 3 in Akron so before dinner we stopped to hear the JiMiller Band. They were good and we enjoyed their music.   They’re a jam band, a little Grateful Dead-ish.  We didn’t stay for the whole set as we wanted to have dinner in between the early and late rush. The restaurants tend to get crowded early with the pre-baseball game (the Akron Aeros) crowds and then again after 8:00 or 9:00pm with the club crowds. This particular Friday night was busy with the baseball crowds, many of whom were in the area for the All American Soap Box Derby taking place on Saturday.

We had dinner at Crave. M has been there before for business dinners. This was my first time.

The service was great, and the food was excellent. We started with the pan fried, buttermilk dipped, green tomatoes that were served with tomatillo salsa, crab meat, and a poblano chili sour cream. This photo, I’m afraid, does not do it justice as we’d already dug in by the time I thought to take a photo:

The tomatoes were warm and crispy on the outside, wonderfully tart and tasty on the inside. I particularly liked the tomatillo salsa that was served with them. M enjoyed the crab meat (also quite good).

My mother used to make fried tomatoes. Not always green, as they’re quite good when they’re almost ripe. She uses a simple recipe of flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the tomatoes in the mixture and then fry them up in hot oil. The frying can be messy business, one of the reasons I don’t make them very often. They’re served with parmesan cheese.

I like trying out the different fried green tomato recipes, especially when I don’t have to be the one making the mess to do so.

We followed the appetizer with a cup of the grilled cheese and tomato soup for me and the grilled Granny Smith apple salad for M. We more or less shared both dishes. The soup, I gather, is one of their signature dishes. Grilled cheese and tomato is comfort food to me (probably to a lot of people). The dish was a nice mix of comfort and contemporary, and very tasty.

The salad was fresh with a wonderful variety of flavors coming together in the apples, the bleu cheese, and the spicy candied walnuts. The dressing was light and just right, not overpowering the other flavors in the salad. In fact, I think it enhanced them.

For our main course we decided on sandwiches. M had the polento crusted blackened catfish poboy. I had the grilled zucchini, golden tomato, and marinated artichoke panini. The smoked goat cheese and hot pepper jelly went well with the veggies. Delicious! I can’t tell you about the taste of M’s sandwich as I’m not a fan of catfish (meaning I didn’t try it), but can tell you he thoroughly enjoyed it so it must have been good.

We walked back down to Lock 3 after our dinner, but didn’t stay for the Bon Jovi tribute band (Bad Medicine).  In spite of the fact that I’m from New Jersey, I’m not a Bon Jovi fan, and I’ve never been a big fan of tribute bands.  Sometimes they’re fun.  Mostly I’d rather see/hear the real deal if possible.  When it’s not possible, then a tribute band will do.

Lock 3 is located near the Akron Civic Theater, said to be haunted.  You can read about it here if you’re interested.

I don’t think you can see it too well in that photo, but the street was lined with motorcycles.  The only thing I can figure is that bikers are fans of Bon Jovi, or Bon Jovi tribute bands.  Or maybe they were just enjoying the lovely summer weather and it was a good night to come to Akron.  Either way, there was quite a gathering.  And some very interesting looking bikes.