The Rail review: Creative & locally sourced

In the years since I’ve visited, The Rail definitely has evolved. This restaurant is excellent, with a creative menu of locally sourced offerings that’s worth the price.

My first experience with The Rail was way back in 2012 when I’d just moved to Akron. I remember walking away from that dinner thinking that the food was good but too pricey for burgers and fries.

I’d gone a few times after that, but it was never a place I’d suggest when trying to figure out dinner plans.

That’s going to change. In the years since I’ve visited, The Rail definitely has evolved. This restaurant is excellent, with a creative menu of locally sourced offerings that’s worth the price.

My husband, Dave, and I met for dinner at The Rail in Belden Village on a snowy Thursday. I arrived minutes before the end of Happy Hour (3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays), and our server was great about getting my beer order in just in time for the $1 off discount. (Thanks, Daniel!)

The Rail boasts about its all-Ohio craft beer menu and for good reason. I love drinking local, and we both found beers we never had tried and ended up really enjoying. If beer isn’t your thing, The Rail also features a cocktail menu with plenty of Ohio-based spirits and several Ohio wines.

The restaurant is attached to Belden Village mall, nestled between Scrambler Maries and Lane Bryant, but you’d never guess that from the inside. It just doesn’t feel like a mall restaurant. It’s modern and industrial but also cozy, with lots of wood and metal features, including meat hooks hanging over the bar. We settled into a tall, leather-backed booth that felt almost private in such a busy space.

The menu is expansive. There’s at least 17 unique sandwiches and burgers ($8.50 to $18.50), and each can be customized by swapping proteins, adding toppings or switching buns for their gluten-free counterpart or a tortilla. There’s also salads, appetizers, desserts and milkshakes, sides and seasonal specials. But it’s also cohesive. Many of the same ingredients show up in different combinations throughout the menu, and everything we ordered paired well.

The truffle fries ($6.75) are tossed with white truffle oil and generous pieces of Parmesan cheese. These guys are addictive—crispy, salty and oily in the best possible way—with a subtle earthiness that doesn’t overwhelm the skinny shoestring fries. My only complaint is that they’re served packed into a metal cup, which made sharing messy.

The smoked Gouda mac ‘n’ cheese bites ($6.50) are perfectly crispy and have a great ratio of filling to breading. They taste grownup but still indulgent and greasy. It comes with a side of buffalo ranch, which is tasty but not really necessary. The bites can hold their own.

Dave ordered the Local Yokel burger ($11.75), which features thick-cut bacon, Swiss cheese and a fried egg. Both the burger and the egg were cooked perfectly and they paired well with the cheese and bacon. It’s a meaty, messy burger—maybe don’t order this one on a first date—but it’s missing something. Dave suggested more seasoning would make it perfect.

He chose to swap a side of fries for thick, crispy onion rings ($2.50 as a side swap/$4.75 a la carte) that came with a slightly spicy creamy red pepper sauce. It was a good choice. These onion rings are awesome.

I picked the Southwest Chicken Naan ($10.50)—local ancho chicken, black bean and corn salsa, roasted red pepper and Cajun sweet onion sauce wrapped in a soft naan. I loved everything about this wrap. The ratio of ingredients is generous, the chicken and salsa are flavorful, and I would quickly buy a bottle of the sauce. I swapped my fries for grilled zucchini and squash planks ($2.50 as a side swap/$5 a la carte) topped with balsamic, tomato and Parmesan. They tasted good, but the balsamic overwhelmed the more subtle flavors of the other components.

The dessert menu, which features milkshakes, pies and floats, was tempting enough that we took home a slice of scratch-made bourbon pecan pie ($6.50/$7.50 a la mode). I loved the buttery crust, and the filling’s sweetness is tempered by a heavy hit of bourbon flavor.

Wanting to try more of the menu, I grabbed takeout for lunch. The blackened chicken salad ($11) includes a generous portion of well-seasoned local chicken, blue cheese, hard-cooked egg, bacon and croutons on a bed of spinach, topped with honey vinaigrette. All of the ingredients combined to make a perfect desk lunch that I’d happily order again.