Food is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Cedar Point.
The Sandusky amusement park is setting out to change all that.
Its latest food addition pays homage to the park’s past and a continued investment in things that don’t spin you around or race down a hill at a breakneck speed.
The new Grand Pavilion at the park is throwback to a building with the same name that was built back in 1888 when the main attraction was the beach and Lake Erie.
It’s only fitting that this latest incarnation is nestled right by the beach and the park’s new Boardwalk section that features some classic midway rides and the new throwback Wild Mouse roller coaster.
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Like its predecessor, the Grand Pavilion offers plenty of spaces to take in the park and the lake.
And the food ain’t too shabby either.
If you are looking for a corndog − you’ll have to go elsewhere in the park. Sure they are still deep-frying things here, but the offerings at the Grand Pavilion are a bit more refined and a bit surprising.
The Grand Pavilion is surprisingly large and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. The indoor seating is much needed at a park that is subject to whims of Lake Erie where a chilly breeze or a thunderstorm can seemingly pop up out of nowhere.
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What’s the bar like at Cedar Point’s new Grand Pavilion?
The two-level building has outdoor seating on the second level along with a long indoor bar and even a snack bar that serves up pub fare like pizza ($13.99) and wings ($13.99).
The full bar has some signature drinks like the Boardwalk Blueberry Lemonade ($14.99) that comes with fresh blueberries and mint and is made with Minute Maid lemonade and vodka. A mocktail version is available for $7.99.
The Watermelon Summer Sensation ($14.99) comes with fresh watermelon slices and is made with vodka, Minute Maid lemonade, cherry and mint.
Cedar Point has taken great care to recapture the elegance of the original Grand Pavilion, from the jaunty, old-timey music that is piped in to the historic images of the park on the walls to a grand topiary inside.
And the restrooms might be the nicest ones found anywhere in the park.
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What’s on the menu at Cedar Point’s new Grand Pavilion?
This is still an amusement park, so customers line up in a queue to wait their turn to order food buffet-style.
It is included in the park’s meal plan, but if you chose to eat on your own debit/credit card (Cedar Point is now cash-free) it is $19.49 for one entrée, a side and a dinner roll. You can an additional side for $6.99.
There are six entrées, from the typical chicken tenders to pork tenderloin to beer battered fish to a rotisserie chicken sandwich.
I thought the slow-roasted turkey breast was particularly tasty and full of flavor.
But my favorite was a bit of a surprise and a bit strange.
The funnel cake fried shrimp was outstanding.
The smell of the funnel cake batter was like taking a memorable stroll through a county fair, and its coating on the shrimp and then deep fried brought it all home.
While the entrées are supposed to dominate the plate, which is served atop a faux newspaper, the side dishes did not disappoint.
You can pick from the typical − like steak fries or a tropical fried rice − to the bit more ambitious Syracuse salt potatoes.
I personally enjoyed the chilled offerings.
The cold noodle salad was very good, as was the marinated cucumber salad.
But the shaved Brussel slaw − aside from the funnel cake fried shrimp − was a real highlight of the meal.
As the coasters get higher and higher and the rides spin faster and faster at Cedar Point and I get older and older, it is nice to have a place to escape to relax and take in what has made this place a destination for more than 150 years − the waves of Lake Erie lapping at the shore.
Craig Webb, who will never give up on his lobbying for a dark ride at Cedar Point, can be reached at email@example.com.