If you know anything about me, you know I love my city, Lakewood. Over the past year, I have witnessed the transformation that has been taking place in Uptown Lakewood. Ever since the Madison Avenue was repaved last year, the street has really come to life. Nearly every month I've noticed a new bar or restaurant pop up nearby. Yuzu opened this summer, and The Bar League couldn't wait to check out this fun looking joint.
One of the reasons I added Yuzu to The Bar League's Summer Bucket List was simply out of curiosity. The unusual name, global menu, Godzilla Facebook photos, and 2am late night service had me fascinated. I gave Yuzu's owner, David Bumba, a heads up that we were coming, and had the opportunity to learn more about his inspiration for Yuzu.
David is well traveled and has many years of restaurant experience. He knew he found the perfect place to open his restaurant concept as soon as Bonnie & Clyde's shut down. He quickly transformed the space from a dirty dive into a sparkling new bar, dining room, and patio. His biggest challenge in the transformation? Getting a sign hung up out front! David mentioned that he was relieved that after a month, they finally had a new sign hung out front to announce their presence.
When David and I spoke, we discussed how Lakewood has many cheap dive bars, and excellent high-end restaurants, but there's a pretty big gap in the middle. Yuzu aims to fill that gap. Their menu is stacked with reasonably priced bites meant to be mixed and matched. I ordered the Tandoori chicken & a fried chicken skewer, along with a plate of Yuzu fries to share with the The League. Everyone must've been as hungry as I was-- no leftovers were in sight after a few minutes! Delish.
I usually go for beer when we are on Bar League outings, but I couldn't possibly resist the cocktails on Yuzu's menu. I went for the "3am Snap Stories," crafted with Tequila, Coconut Rum, Pineapple, Allspice, and Blue Curaçao. Also tempting: "Straight Outta Pinterest," made with Cognac, Yuzu Sake, Peach, Blue Curaçao, Lemonade & Swedish Fish. But the humorous drink names don't stop with cocktails! The beer & shot combos cracked me up with names like "Netflix & Chili" and "The Thrift Store."
Our Bar League mascot, Bella, thoroughly enjoyed the dog menu. She ordered a "flight of biscuits," the tenderloin, and even had a dog beer. So cute. Our server was so friendly to all of us, and including Bella, who he made sure had water in her bowl at all times. Yuzu is very dog friendly-- read Amanda's recap on her blog, Dog Life in CLE. Bella seemed to enjoy the patio... but wasn't so sure what to think when Godzilla made an appearance!
Godzilla showing up on the patio pretty much sums up what makes Yuzu special-- the team there is having fun with this place. The hospitality industry can be so stressful and tough, but you'd never sense that from this crew. It's wonderful to see a group of people truly enjoying what they do. From their clever drink descriptions, to their funny events (Disney princess karaoke, anyone?), to their friendly Godzilla mascot, there is humor and joy everywhere here. That is what makes this unusual joint so attractive, and it's the reason that I will return soon. Thanks to David & his team for a great first experience at Yuzu!
13603 Madison Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107