Have you heard of for years about much talked about restaurants that you’ve never ever been to yet you practically go past it more than once? Well, for me, that would be a place called Pickle Bill’s Lobster House. This place, located in Grand River, Ohio, is within walking distance of not only Mentor Headlands Beach State Park but my Dad’s sister-in-law’s condo so it’s not off the beaten path. I’ve heard a mixed bag of reviews about this seafood place from utterly terrible to, as one young lady put it today, “awesome!”. So, returning north from a county fair in another county, I decided to check out the place.
This is not Chez Francois, in Vermillion Ohio, but people heading to Pickle Bill’s aren’t looking for fine French cuisine either. PIckle’ Bill’s is not hard to miss driving up to it I must say. The front desk is located in what looked like a nautical rummage sale with all the fishing paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling and along the walls. Funky, even tacky, comes to mind when I entered the restaurant and saw the stuffed alligator and deer on display. However, this is what apparently gives Pickle Bill’s it’s charm, and I can see why the parking lot was packed.
The main draw was the outdoor patios and the ‘barge’ a structure in the river connected by a small bridge to the pier. It has a big bar and its own separate menu. The ducks and geese gathering along the edges looking for bread are, admittedly, very amusing. I sat in the covered patio part of the restaurant which looked out at the Barge and riverfront. My server was very good and everyone seemed helpful. I had the Atlantic Cod with salad and baked potato ($15.95) which wasn’t too bad price wise and the fish was delicious. I would only suggest that they order bigger potatoes but that’s trivial since the salad and the cod were nice portions. This place has a wide selections, which one can see online at their website, including a whole lobster for dinner if you wish. The dessert, and drinks, menu looked rather tempting but I settled for a soft-drink. Overall, I think I would go back again, but with friends and try to get into that barge.
On a different note, as I looked out at the river and, later, walked on their pier, I kept thinking how different Grand River is from Vermillion. Seeing the mounds of salt downriver and the empty shore across the way, I am surprised a developer or two hasn’t descended on this spot by now. There is plenty of boat traffic and it’s only a few minutes from the freeway into Cleveland. Grand River and Fairport Harbor across the river are small towns with a lot of history, and right now much potential for development. It will be interesting what the view of the riverfront from Pickle Bill’s will look like in the decades ahead.