The Rose Café

The deck of this beachside restaurant hovers over the sand. The food’s not bad either.

The deck at the Rose Cafe allows diners a view of the lake from right over the sand.

There are plenty of places to grab a burger or hot dog around the lake. And, sure, there are even a few fine-dining options overlooking the water. What’s harder to find is the middle ground — a fresh salad, a nice wrap, maybe some pasta in a casual, but not too casual, setting.

The Rose Café at Lakeview Beach in Lorain, Ohio, neatly fills this void. But it offers even more. During the winter, diners can watch the icy lake from their cozy perch by the stone fireplace. And in summer a wide deck hovers right over the sand, offering one of the best alfresco views around.

We visit on a 70-degree day for lunch. Our bustling party of three moms and eight little kids storms the deck, pushing three tables together and making a clatter until everyone’s settled in. The servers accommodate us, and the other diners don’t seem to mind either. It’s that kind of place.

We order and devour both of the day’s soups, Italian wedding and roasted red pepper. The Greek wrap (grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, feta and black olives, $6.59) is declared a winner. So is the Italian grilled cheese (provolone, salami, roasted red peppers, banana peppers and basil, $6.79), although we were disappointed that the kitchen forgot the basil, which would have contrasted nicely with its cured and pickled companions. The tuna salad wrap (tuna, Swiss, lettuce and tomato in a garlic herb tortilla, $6.59) is too big to finish, but good.

The children’s menu is the only less-than-perfect note. The same thick bread used for the panini is used for the grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But when it’s not pressed in a grill the bread is too thick and crumbly for those classic kids dishes. You’re better off, as some of the kids in our party did, to order from the adult menu and split entrees.

The breakfast menu is simple but interesting. There’s a frittata of the day ($3.79) as well as a nice wrap (scrambled eggs, green peppers, bacon and cheddar, $3.79).

Smaller and more traditional than the lunch menu (which is served all day), the dinner menu includes prime rib ($14), pork chops ($13.50) and spaghetti and meatballs ($11).

The Rose Café opened in 2008 in what had been a dilapidated bathhouse after the Lorain County Metroparks took over the building and the northern portion of Lakeview Park. The bathhouse was turned into the Rose Café, which is operated by DeLuca’s in the Park, a popular Lorain reception hall that’s been in business for 50 years.

“It’s done very well,” says owner Len DeLuca. “It’s a lovely setting. First-timers are kind of awe-struck by it.”

Inside, the Rose Café is airy and bright with floor-to-ceiling windows, a vaulted ceiling with wood beams and a large stone fireplace.

Still, the best time to come here is summer, and the best place to sit is the deck. The food is good and the prices are more than reasonable.

After we finish eating, we head down to the beach and hit the two playgrounds right on the sand. Then the kids run through the historic rose garden (for which the restaurant is named). Paths of concentric circles are lined with more than a thousand roses, creating a wonderland for gardeners and children. Ours chase each other and hide behind the hedges. We end the outing with a walk over to the fountain.

It was a good lunch in a gorgeous setting — and the lake breeze didn’t cost a thing.

Info to Go
The Rose Café
1800 W. Erie Ave.
Lorain, Ohio

The restaurant is open year-round, but dinner is only served from Memorial Day to Labor Day.