Rm. 727's beer game is very strong, with 27 curated craft drafts and three rotating nitro lines.

AKRON  After nearly four years of writing weekly restaurant reviews, finding new spots is increasingly a challenge. My eyes and ears are always open.

It was on Facebook that I came across a promising place called Rm. 727 Gastropub. Its menus of small plates and craft cocktails had me eager for a visit.

Last Saturday, which was gray and drizzly and also Kentucky Derby day, I enlisted a friend for a mid-afternoon road trip. Rm. 727, at 231 Darrow Road in Goodyear Heights, was easily reached from the Gilchrist Road exit off I-76 East.

Everything about this place, open almost a year, was inviting. There is one large, open and high-ceiling room with a long bar, wooden floor, lots of natural light and a rustic-modern vibe including a stone fireplace and antler chandelier. Even the men's room was memorable -- the urinal is crafted from a beer keg. There is an appealing (and dog-friendly) patio outside, with a bocce court and cornhole.

Our server, Leslie, welcomed us warmly, visited our table often and knew the food and drink menus inside and out, with enthusiastic recommendations and a fun energy.

I started with a spicy and potent jalapeño margarita, made with mezcal ($9). My friend opted for the orange blossom mule ($10). The sharp-dressed owner, Ethan Moore, was busy behind the bar mixing drinks and muddling mint for derby-themed mint juleps. Rm. 727's beer game is very strong, with 27 curated craft drafts and three rotating nitro lines.

Settling in for a leisurely visit, we ordered a pizza and three shareable tapas, which arrived in steady succession as requested. The Fungus Amongus pizza ($12), 10-inch in diameter with six slices, was divine. The thin, chewy crust crust is made with spent spelt grain from Madcap Brew Co. in Kent, and topped with three varieties of fresh mushrooms (enoki, oyster, shiitake), brie and drizzled with house-made truffle aioli.

Also newsworthy are the Prince Edward Island mussels ($12), an "astonishing portion" (my friend's description) of soft, tender and perfect mussels cooked in butter, Blue Moon Belgian White, coriander and orange zest, and served with caramelized onions and grilled, house-made focaccia bread for soaking up the delectable juice. This could function as an entree, or a shareable appetizer for three or four people. Quite possibly the best mussels I've ever eaten.

Our relaxed grazing also included an aromatic order of smoky hot sausage (made in-house), sauteed bell peppers and sweet tomato sauce, topped with melted mozzarella ($10), served in an iron skillet. The only negative about the pillow-like pierogies ($8), topped with sweet caramelized onion and served with fresh-dill sour cream, was when they were gone and we were craving more.

Other small plates include roasted cauliflower in choice of three flavors with green goddess dressing ($8); Southern sliders with local beef, fried gouda, caramelized onions and house BBQ sauce ($10 for three), and (our server's favorite) deep-fried kraut bombs ($8) filled with house-made kielbasa, sauerkraut and cheddar.

Rm. 727's executive chef, Loretta Smith, is 27 and formerly of Dante Boccuzzi Akron. She is committed to making everything on premises and using local ingredients whenever possible.

The quality of cuisine is high, with obvious attention to detail. The popular smoked pork chop ($16), she explained, is brined overnight, then broiled with a brushed-on pomegranate gastrique and served with a jalapeño-peach chutney. The fried pickle spears ($8) in a tempura batter seasoned with paprika and cayenne, are served with housemade spicy ranch dip. The slider buns, pretzel bites, and mustards and jams on the charcuterie plate are all made in house.

For people with an appreciation for chef-driven food and craft beers, and a desire to discover someplace new, Rm. 727 is a recommended destination. I'm eager to return.

Reach Dan at 330-580-8306 or dan.kane@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @dkaneREP