Former Gradkowski’s shows knack of putting together interesting flavors.
Social Gastropub in the Gateway Plaza on the University of Toledo campus got its start as Gradkowski’s Dining and Spirits. The name is different, but the food remains reliably good. The kitchen still has a knack of putting together interesting flavors.
The Secor Road Social Gastropub (there also is one in Perrysburg) was opened as Gradkowski’s in 2011 by Bruce Gradkowski and his partners, who continue to own and operate both locations. Gradkowski, a former back-up quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was a football star for the Toledo Rockets, so the West Toledo restaurant’s original décor included football memorabilia.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Address: 1440 Secor Rd. in Gateway Plaza in Toledo
Menu: New American
Hours: 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday, 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.- 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Wheelchair access: Yes
Average price: $$ - $$$
Credit cards: AE, Dis. MC, V
Web site: socialgastropub.com
Ratings: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Outstanding; ★ ★ ★ ★ Very Good; ★ ★ ★ Good; ★ ★ Fair; ★ Poor
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics’ meals.
Today the main dining room still has its three-sided bar and TVs, but the football photos are gone and the room has a new, more casual look. Booths still are along the walls, but high-top tables that can seat eight or more people now center the space.
MENU: Social Gastropub
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The website notes that the menu changes every two months, which must keep things interesting for the regulars. But our favorites remain, including the Mac’n Cheese. Here diners are invited to build their own, starting with the signature cheese blend and cavatappi pasta for $9, followed by a choice of anything from bacon and boursin to pepperoni and Tater Tots, at various prices. We’re also fans of the Maple Glazed Pork Donut appetizer ($8), a glazed doughnut with braised pork shoulder, hickory sauce, and coleslaw, which is still offered. It may not sound like it would appeal to everyone, but it would.
Appetizers we would like to sample soon are the Vermont Bacon Skewers ($8.25), slab bacon served with Vermont maple syrup and fresh pepper, and the Smoked Salmon Dip ($10), smoked in-house and served with grilled garlic flatbread.
At dinner one evening we started with the Loaded Tater Tot ($9) appetizer, which lives up to its name with Tater Tots topped with cheese, bacon, fried egg, a jalapeno-cilantro sauce, and more. We followed that up with the Brick Chicken Picatta ($15.50) and the Bone-in Ribeye ($27), rounded out by the Smokin’ Salmon ($17).
The stone-pressed chicken was terrific, with a lemon cream sauce and capers, cooked perfectly and served with honey sriracha Brussels sprouts, a nice blend of flavors. A minor complaint is that it was heavy on the capers. The 18-ounce bone-in rib-eye was ordered medium-rare and arrived cooked just right too. It was served with horseradish butter, herb roasted potatoes, and again the sriracha Brussels sprouts.
The salmon with blackening spices was deemed delicious, but our friend was very taken with the roasted creamed-corn casserole it came with. The plate also included garlic spinach.
The desserts, $8, are a real treat. We ordered two: the chocolate tart, a large slice with layers of chocolate cake and chocolate ganache, was rich but not overpowering, and everyone wanted more. We thought it was the best until we tried the torched cheesecake with bruleed sugar and raspberry coulis. The result was a mouthwatering tie. There’s also a brulee-topped cheesecake and a butter cake.
A lunchtime visit drew us to the Pick Two Combo ($10), any half-sandwich or wrap with any soup, Caesar or house salad, available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. We ordered a tomato-based soup with a hint of spice and the Ugly Chicken Salad, which was anything but ugly — grilled chicken with tomato, red onion, mozzarella, and spring mix, with a balsamic dressing. A friend ordered the Social Burger ($11), which was very good, but so juicy and saucy it was messy too, requiring a few extra napkins. The burger comes with cheddar cheese, social sauce, arugula, and the standard tomato, pickle, and onion.
The bar menu offers a dozen signature martinis and cocktails ($9), flavored margaritas ($8), from classic to raspberry, and premium infusions ($5 to $7), made in-house. There’s also a nice selection of beers and wine, and daily drink specials.
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