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The New Classic

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Published: 05/16/2012

by Patricia Nugent

 

What do you get when you combine an exquisitely restored 1886 stagecoach stop with an underground martini bar and trendy gourmet menu?

 

The historic Taverne of Richfield.

 

Owner Serena Raybould purchased the restaurant almost two years ago, after working there as a server for five years, with a mindset to breathe some fresh life into the charming century facilities.

 

A perfect example is the expansive ballroom upstairs. It probably hasn’t changed much since John D. Rockefeller stayed there on trips from Cleveland to Akron during the gilded age of the 1890s. The decorative tin ceilings are still shimmering gold and the ornate chandeliers haven’t lost their sparkle.

 

“Since it is a ballroom, after all, we started a new weekly program of tango lessons, and we offer dining specials to students before they dance the night away,” says Serena. “It’s been a big hit with people of all ages who want to learn this romantic dance.”

 

In addition to the ballroom, which seats 120, there is a medium-sized meeting area called the Rose Room that seats about 30 and a martini lounge. “Between the three we have earned a reputation as the ideal venue for weddings, graduation parties and showers,” she says. “It’s an unhurried, genteel atmosphere, perfect to make any occasion memorable.”

 

Johnson & Wales-educated Chef Dan Vernyi, Serena, and her sister Sonya, who helps run the operation, are all 30 years old and under. “We have a lot of energy and are always looking to try new ideas,” she says.

 

Some of the fresh innovations are seen on the menu—from Salt Roasted Beet Salad to Hangar Steak topped with shiitake mushrooms and a sake-soy reduction with Wasabi Mashers. But Serena also notes they still serve traditional favorites such as Schnitzel and New Zealand Lamb Rack.

 

A new lunch menu is being unveiled this month featuring gourmet “melts” (grilled cheese sandwiches) and has already been garnering rave reviews.

 

The cozy bar takes a step back in time. Its ornately carved wood backdrop is nicely complemented by the bar itself, which is fashioned from sheets of real pounded brass.

 

Stained glass rescued from an old church in southern Ohio abounds throughout the restaurant. Although the name Rebecca Akers is memorialized in one of the windows—and her friendly ghost is rumored to pop in now and again—Serena reports shehasn’t had any personal run-ins with the spirit.

 

With the weather turning from spring to summer, the Taverne’s stone patio is a welcome haven. Sunken and surrounded by antique wrought iron gates, the patio offers several tiny patios set off from the main one for intimate meals, plus a charming stone fountain. Breathtaking landscaping is courtesy of Serena’s mother, who enjoys planning and planting the beds each year.
Inside or out, the list of spirited libations is endless, from 17 specialty martinis to 10 kinds of blended and single malt scotches, mojitos and sangrias. “For the daring, we’ve introduced Kickers, which are beers or champagnes with a complementary shot of liquor dropped in,” says Serena.

 

The Underground Martini Bar was originally stables to house the horses of overnight visitors stopping on their stagecoach routes. Now, the rough-hewn beams that used to separate horses make super cool partitions to divide the sections of the bar. Serena’s dad is a musician and sometimes plays guitar downstairs.

 

“Wonderful music and terrific cooking are what Sonya and I were raised with,” says Serena, smiling. “So it’s a natural that we would offer live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to make the dining more of an experience.”

 

The Taverne of Richfield is located at 3960 Broadview Road, in Richfield. Hours are Sundays through Thursdays, 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.; Fridays, 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.; and Saturdays, 4:00-10:00 p.m. The Lounge stays open later. For more information, call 330-659-0610, or visit www.TaverneOfRichfield.com to view the fabulous menu.