Located on scenic Route 6, Conneaut Lake is a popular destination year round, although the summer months are by far the busiest. From fishing and swimming to sunbathing and dining, there is something for everyone. Many of the water’s edge restaurants are seasonal, but last night, I got to eat at Mary O’s at Pelican Plaza which is open throughout the year. Friends Whitney and Justin Catalano joined us again for dinner around 7 o’clock. Though it is not on the lake, they have a great outdoor patio with a small pond and fountain for added ambiance. Our server, Teresa, took our drink and appetizer order and left us to our menus. When she returned, she told us about the daily specials and offered some suggestions from multiple areas of the menu. It is easiest to judge the quality of a restaurant chef based on how he cooks chicken, so Amanda decided to stay simple with the Marinated Grilled Chicken Salad. Theresa told me about one of the house signature dishes, the Pelican Pasta, so I ordered that on her recommendation.
For an appetizer, there was a Lobster Flatbread Pizza on special which sounded amazing. A twelve inch piece of flatbread was topped with chunks of lobster meat, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, olives, a sprinkling of cheese, and a balsamic vinegar reduction. After being placed under the broiler, the pizza was crispy and hot and absolutely delicious. The lobster was buttery and paired well with the sweet, chewy sundried tomatoes. The acid from both the artichokes and the vinegar made the overall taste of the dish very well balanced. I would have gladly ordered a full sized version of this for my entrée, had it been available.
Whitney and Justin ordered Bang Bang Shrimp as their appetizer. A plate of a dozen or more large, quickly fried shrimp was covered in their version of bang bang sauce as well as a drizzle of the same balsamic reduction that was on the lobster flatbread. Typically, the sauce combines sweet Thai chili sauce, Sriracha Sauce, vinegar, and mayonnaise. They left out the fatty mayo which kept the shrimp surprisingly light even though they’d also been fried. The shrimp started out with the sweetness from the sauce, but finished with the bold, flavorful heat of the Sriracha. Even the bed of mixed greens was a great with the bits of fried goodness and the leftover sauce.
Our entrees arrived at the table shortly after we finished our appetizers. Amanda’s Chicken Salad was pretty standard. A bowl was filled with a beautiful mix of greens, far beyond the usual iceberg, and sliced vegetables, topped with wedge-cut French fries and a large 8oz. marinated grilled chicken breast. The chicken was moist and loaded with flavor from the marinade. The fries, which you find on many salads in our region, not only added to the taste, but also to the texture. The warm chicken and fries were a great contract to the cool, crisp veggies.
My Pelican pasta dish was a combination of chicken breast and sweet sausage that was sautéed with mushrooms,tomatoes, red onion and garlic. It was served over linguine in a white wine sauce. Teresa came back to the table shortly after us placing our order to inform me that they happened to be out of sausage. She offered to substitute shrimp in the dish which I was more than okay with. An entire chicken breast as well as four large shrimp was more than filling. Everything was cooked to perfection and the flavors all played well off of each other. The dish was a little heavy on the red onion, but I personally didn’t mind. The white wine sauce was seasoned perfectly and provided just the right balance with the pasta and all of the toppings.
Unlike the last two weeks, we did not have a lakefront view, but the food more than made up for it. Fantastic food combined with great service on a beautiful July night, all for $40, was well worth the drive to Conneaut Lake. Thank you to Teresa and the kitchen staff for an enjoyable evening.
Andrew — Beard vs. Food