WTGW 3/18/15: Twiisted Sushi, Grill and Bar, Medina

Alternate title: the time we ate enough sushi to make it about as unhealthy as a burger and fries.

Wait, what? Us over-order food? Yeah, that never happens. Weird.

So, by luck of the calendar, I was bestowed the illustrious honor of picking a place for the evening after St. Patrick’s Day. Because, no pressure there. Who doesn’t love going out on the town again the night after indulging in green beer and corned beef? And essentially just having more of the same? Um, yeah, no. I had already kind of thought that we needed a break from sports bar / pub places (and what seemed to have become the search for Shane’s perfectly cooked burger), so I was trying to think of someplace a little different when it came to our menu options.

Twiisted is one of those places that we’ve actually talked about going to for a few months now – because, well, by now you know Shane’s love affair with sushi rivals that of my love affair for all things carbs. In all fairness, I have to give credit to Shane for first discovering and researching this place, as it should’ve been his pick about two rounds ago. But since it’s a good half hour drive away we needed to wait for the weather to break before we could visit.

Because, you know, Mother Nature clearly saves all inclement weather for Wednesday evenings. Whore.

Anyway.

After a lovely drive through the back country roads of Medina and Summit counties (tip: if you’re ever coming from the east and get lost on your way there, just look for Granger Road, as that seemed to be the only road we drove on for the majority of the journey, despite the navigation system instructing us to turn about 57 times), we arrived at Twiisted – which is located in the smack middle of what I believe must be the shopping hub of northern Medina. Just look for Target. Trust us on this one.

Once inside, we were greeted by a very personable hostess – who I suspect must be a part owner or something because she seemed way too invested in the tables throughout the whole time we were there to just be the person who sat them there. Or maybe she was just bored. Whatever. In any case, it was nice to see a cheerful face as soon as we walked in.

We sat in the bar area – because, well, us. The place wasn’t too busy at all, just a few other tables with groups and a few people at the bar. I’m not sure if this is typical for a Wednesday night – especially the one right after a major alcoholic holiday – but we all agreed it would be interesting to see what weekend crowds are like.

Amanda and I won the lightest drink award this week, going with Crispin cider. Once again, refer back to the calendar and the whole St Patrick’s Day being the day before thing for explanation. Ted went the exact opposite route and ordered probably the darkest thing on the drink menu, a left handed porter. I didn’t check to make sure he did, in fact, use his left hand to drink it. Shane once again tested the rum-to-diet ratio, and found it more drinkable but ultimately less affordable than the alcoholic’s heaven that is the Windsor Pub.

It's like oil and water

It’s like oil and water

Times two

Times two

We started with crab rangoon dip as an appetizer. Which was delicious, although we all agreed that the chips were a bit flimsy and broke way too easily in the extremely hearty dip. I eventually got fed up and started using my fork to spoon the dip onto the chips instead of using the chips as the vessel to pick up dip.

Shane: oh, that’s pretty smart.

What can I say, folks. Don’t let the blonde hair fool you.

Maybe some Tostito's scoops for next time?

Maybe some Tostito’s scoops for next time?

It’s also worth mentioning that they bring you a free appetizer of endamame for the table also. I guess that’s like the chips and salsa of sushi places?

Probably the healthiest appetizer ever to grace our table

Probably the healthiest appetizer ever to grace our table

For dinner, we all went the sushi route – although if you’ve never been to Twiisted then you should definitely keep in mind that the menu features so much more. Burgers, steaks, sandwiches, salads … basically most of the things a normal bar & grille type establishment would feature on a menu. Which is a great idea for groups where one or two people maybe want sushi, and the others don’t like it, or are afraid of it, determined that they won’t like it, etc.

You know, like Shane when we visited Wasabi House last January. Although, if you ask him, he was the one who first “discovered” sushi and introduced it to our WTGW group.

Uh huh.

Anyway, back to dinner. So we all ordered sushi – and, brace yourselves, this is the part where we ordered enough food to feed a small European nation. What? Us? No!

Let’s recap our orders:

Steph: one Volcano roll and one Tempura Asparagus roll

It's like a painting

It’s like a painting

Amanda:  two Philadelphia rolls and one Spicy Crab roll

One of these things is not like the other

One of these things is not like the other

Ted: one Medina Bee roll, one Crab Apple roll and one Spicy Crab roll

A+ for presentation

A+ for presentation

Shane: three Philadelphia rolls (which, for future reference, can also be referenced by the technical terminology of “a buttload of Philly rolls” – as the hostess called the order when she helped deliver the meals to our table. Noted.)

"Buttload" of Philly rolls

Who needs variety?

So that’s 11 orders of sushi at one table of four people. I’m not very good at math, but that seems like a pretty big sushi-to-people ratio.

Now, in our defense, we’ve been burned by sushi orders before. Like the time Shane and Ted had to eat three pounds of frozen yogurt after our meal just to finally feel full. And most places we’ve ordered from in the past have featured rolls of six small-ish pieces. Twiisted’s rolls are eight medium-sized pieces. And the pieces on the specialty rolls (like the Volcano, Median Bee and Crab Apple) are even larger. Filed under: things we were not aware of.

Hence why we left Twiisted feeling extremely full. Like roll you out to the car and unbutton your pants kind of full. I actually left a few pieces of my Volcano roll behind, and Amanda surrendered about five pieces of her order to the boys – who gladly ate them (after devouring all of their own) but instantly regretted that decision once the realization sunk in that they weren’t at home yet and couldn’t just kick back on the couch in sweat pants.

Ted was also particularly upset that meant he didn’t have any room left to sample some of the desserts that were featured on the table as we first walked in – which looked delicious at that time, but the thought of stuffing another morsel into our bodies at the end of the meal made us all avoid making eye contact with that table like kids who don’t want to be called on by the teacher by the time we were on the way out.

We may have to start a dessert tour of these places we’ve been to just to get to try that menu. Or, order less food.

Yeah, I think we all know which of those options has more of a likelihood of happening.

In any case, as you can probably guess by our gluttony, everything was delicious. Amanda said that the Spicy Crab rolls were some of the best she’s ever had. Shane enjoyed his “buttload” of Philly rolls enough that he didn’t want to try anything else, and ate the rest of Amanda’s rolls when she declared them dead soldiers. I liked the Tempura Asparagus better than the Volcano – which was definitely tasty, but just seemed to have a lot going on what with the pile of spicy crawfish meat on top of the actual rolls. And the wasabi aioli on the Tempura rolls actually seemed to be hotter than any of the sauces on the Volcano roll, so there’s that.

Ted had by far the most creative and interesting order on the table. We were all particularly intrigued by his thoughts on the Crab Apple rolls, as we weren’t sure what to expect of sushi that contained both crab meat and slices of apples. Leave it up to Ted to once again order something that contains ingredients not usually found together in, well, anywhere. But he said that one was actually his favorite, as it started out sweet and then basically kicked you in the teeth at the end with a spice you don’t expect. So he said that – while his entire order was quite tasty – if he had to rank them it would go something like this: Spicy Crab, good; Medina Bee, very good; Crab Apple, really, REALLY good. I know that’s a very technical rating system and all, but try to keep up.

All in all, we had a great time at Twiisted. While I’ll admit the service was a little slow at first – we waited a hot minute for our drinks and to place our orders, but after that it definitely seemed to improve. The hostess was actually better than our waiter, as she seemed to have more of both a sense of urgency and a personality. But overall, I think this is a place we could definitely see ourselves returning to. And if it were closer – or at the very least on someone’s route home – we would probably consistently use it as a go-to for take out orders. Anyone want to convince them to open a Cuyahoga Falls location?

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph
Drinks:   Decent beer and wine list, plus full bar. 
Food:
Known for sushi, so that menu is very large and diverse. But even if you aren’t a fan there are plenty of other options – burgers, steaks, wraps, etc. Portion sizes are also large, something we learned the hard way.
Service: Slow to start, but got better as the night went on. Our waiter wasn’t as chatty as some of the ones we’ve seen at other places recently, but that was probably good here since we seemed to do just fine over-ordering on our own.
Overall: Good. Sushi was delicious and reasonably priced, atmosphere was a little less fun than I would’ve hoped but then again it is a Wednesday night just after St Patrick’s Day, so we can’t expect too much. Would definitely go back for the sushi alone.

Next Pick: Amanda

Twiisted • Sushi• Grill• Bar on Urbanspoon

WTGW 3/11/15: The Annex / Station 43 Tavern, Solon

Today we bring you the tale of two WTGW locations, all for the price of one. And also a good lesson in back-up plans.

First let’s rewind a few days, when Shane – reluctantly and under extreme interrogation from me and Amanda – finally gave up the name of the place he was choosing for this week’s pick. Before we had a chance to Google it on our own, he was showing us pictures of what looked like an actual house, and claimed that there was a real bar inside. Where real paying customers went to eat and drink. Yeah, um, that sounds a little shady. And probably not the best way to sell the place to us, BTW.

So over the course of the next few days I did a little bit of research into this mythical “house of alcohol,” and, after reading some admittedly surprisingly favorable reviews, decided that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t going to be so bad after all. I think my exact text to Shane was something along the lines of “I think we only have about a 40% chance of getting shot there, so let’s give it a try.” Life on the edge, folks. 

Fast forward to the drive there, where you could visibly see Shane’s anxiety level rising as we got closer and the jokes about any one of the shacks we passed potentially being our actual destination escaladed. And then this conversation happened:

Amanda: “Well the place does have a website, so it has to be kind of OK, right?”

Me: “Yeah, but did you see the part of the website that said it was actually created by some random super fan of the place, and not anyone actually affiliated with it?”

I think Shane almost turned the car around right there.

But we soldiered on, and eventually found The Annex in Solon. And they aren’t lying, it truly is a house. And not a very big one at that. But there were cars in the parking lot, and we could hear music coming from inside through the open window, so I think at that point we all figured it couldn’t be nearly as bad as we were making it out to be.

Let’s just say this much: The Annex is billed as “Solon’s best kept secret.” And I guess it will stay a secret to our group, because –  for the first time in WTGW history – we ditched out before we could even order anything. But not for lack of trying, though.

The place was packed, so we grabbed the first (and I think only) empty table available, right by the door. We waited for a few minutes, then finally realized that, for all the people in the place, only two of them were actually working there. There was one bartender behind the bar, and then one cook – who we could clearly see grilling up burgers in the back corner of the house. Call me crazy, but it seemed a bit unsafe (and potentially slightly unsanitary) to have someone cooking with fire and grease right out there in the open inches from the bar, no? I mean, I like open concept and all, but that was a bit much.

So the boys went up to the bar to get drinks, and that’s when we realized the real “best kept secret” about The Annex: you only get served if you’re a regular. Not once but twice they were very obviously overlooked in favor of someone who walked up after them and who the bartender clearly knew the order for.

Well then.

So we left. Because there’s no need to give money to a place who clearly cares not if you’re there. And also the whole chance that we might contract salmonella from the insane kitchen setup – but that was really reason #2 in our book. Because, well let’s face it, if we haven’t died yet from some of the places we’ve eaten in, chances are this wouldn’t have killed us either.

Although I can say the place definitely followed us, as it only took about two seconds in the car for us to realize that we all smelled like one giant collective grease trap. Awesome.

Fortunately Shane had a back up plan for the evening, which should probably tell you something about the place right from the get-go, but whatevs. We headed a few miles down the road, and arrived at Station 43. A place which not only acknowledged us when we walked in the front door, but seated us promptly, and served us drinks. And also didn’t reek of animal fat. What?

Of course we started out with drinks – in what seems to have become our new regular order, it was a Fat Tire for me and Ted, Miller Lite for Amanda, and rum and diet for Shane. Which was considerably darker than last week. And not $2.25.

Now that's a much better rum-to-coke ratio

Now that’s a much better rum-to-coke ratio

It's more difficult to do the color test when bottles are involved

It’s more difficult to do the color test when bottles are involved

For appetizers we went with calamari – because, well, Shane – and steak bites – because, well, Ted. Both of the apps were outstanding. The presentation was nice on the calamari, and the sauce was really tasty. The steak bites, while not exactly the “meat flavored cotton candy” we’d experienced at Teschner’s a while back, were still tender and delicious.

If there's calamari on the menu, chances are Shane will order it

If there’s calamari on the menu, chances are Shane will order it

Not-quite-meat-flavored-cotton-candy

Not-quite-meat-flavored-cotton-candy

Our waitress (Allie?) was great. She clearly loves the place and taking care of her customers. She was chatty and funny and just overall personable, which – call me crazy – seems to be a good quality for anyone in the service industry. And the exact opposite of what we’d just encountered at The Annex, so there’s that.

We all had kind of decided what we wanted for our dinners, but when Allie (I’ve pretty much decided that’s her name, my apologies if it’s really Susan or something not even close) came to take our order we of course asked what she recommended – and she was such a good salesperson that I think 3/4 of the table changed their minds.

Case in point, Ted was the first of us to set down his menu and declare his order (perch platter) but after hearing Allie’s recommendations he did a 180 and went with the Rueben sandwich instead.  As did Amanda, who had been wavering between that and a burger, and made her decision after Allie’s proclamation that she could eat it like every other day.

And I’m happy to report that neither of them were disappointed by their sandwiches. The corned beer was thinly sliced, and not salty at all. Ted said it was second only to Slyman’s – which anyone from the Cleveland area will know is quite the compliment.

Second to Slyman's, Impressive

Second to Slyman’s, Impressive

Shane had had his heart set on a burger, especially after staring hungrily at the plate of the woman seated at the table next to us, and noticing that the burger she had was done pretty much the exact way he liked them cooked. I mean, we didn’t bring out the photo from the Happy Moose a few weeks ago for reference or anything crazy like that, but it seemed pretty spot on. However, by the time Allie was done with us Shane had switched up to a full rack of ribs and a 6-pack of garlic parmesan wings … which had started out as only garlic, Allie suggested adding the parm … and as you can guess it was a done deal.

 

I swear, I think she could’ve sold us oceanfront property in Oklahoma at that point. Maybe she’s related to the guy from Moe’s?

Regardless, Shane was not disappointed either. Full, yes – but disappointed, not at all.

Half of Shane's meal

Half of Shane’s meal

And the other half

And the other half

I had the Solon Grande burger, which I also decided on via the plate of the stranger sitting at the table next to us, so thanks for that. Mine was cooked medium, and it was still pink inside – which means Shane really probably would’ve been just as happy with his order if he’d gone that route. It was delicious. And the fries. Fresh cut, thick fries. Yum.

Can't beat good fries

Can’t beat good fries

Burger, medium

Burger, medium

Seriously, how we all don’t weigh about 400 pounds is beyond my realm of comprehension some days.

Even though we were all nearly bursting and complaining about how full we were, our used-car-salesman-turned-waitress almost sold us on desserts, just because they sounded insanely good. Pumpkin roll? Carrot cake? Apple pie? Good lord. I think we finally had to shoo poor Allie away from the table before she sweet talked us into anything else.

Ted: Those desserts sounded really good. I want one but I literally just can’t eat it. Why am I so full?

Amanda: Well you did just basically eat a sandwich and a steak.

So there’s that.

All in all, I think we ended up at the much better place. Station 43 has great decor – it’s all done in a fire station theme, and we loved the canister lights made out of re-purposed air canisters, as well as the various photos and other fun wall decorations.

I don't think they sell those at Lowe's

I don’t think they sell those at Lowe’s

We were fortunate enough to score a fun and personable waitress, and the food was terrific. I mean, it even scored the ever-rare double-thumbs-up from Shane, so you know that speaks volumes all in itself. Hopefully they didn’t judge us from the grease smell we still carried with us from our first choice of the evening. Or maybe they get people in our situation a lot and are used to it by now. Hmm.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE (… for Station 43. Because I think you pretty much already get the jist of our feelings towards The Annex)

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks: Mostly craft beers on tap, and the usual suspects in bottles. While the sticker shock was a bit much after last week’s pick, that says more to the fact that last week’s place was just dirt cheap.  
Food:
It’s a good sign when we’re stuffed but yet we can’t stop eating because it’s so good. And we’re tempted to order more just because we know it will continue to be delicious.
Service: Let’s be honest, after our first attempt of the evening it really wasn’t going to take much to impress us. But even without that in the equation we still would’ve been impressed here.
Overall: Another on the list of “why are you a half hour away?” Seriously, is there some way we can just get all of the places we really like to move to within a 5-7 mile radius of us?

Next Pick: Steph

Station 43 on Urbanspoon

Annex Bar and Grille on Urbanspoon

WTGW 2/25/15: Windsor Pub, Akron

So there’s a sign outside of the Windsor Pub that proclaims they have “the best burgers on this Earth.” And since we’ve been on a burger streak lately I guess it’s only fitting that we venture in and find out how close to reality that statement is.

Your sign has a bit of an ego

Your sign has a bit of an ego

Although, side note, “this” Earth? What other Earth might we be talking about here? I mean, in fairness, that sign looks like it’s been up for a hot minute, so maybe at that time we really were into the “life on other planets” debate. And god forbid we insult their burgers, I guess.

Anyway, I have to admit that the Windsor Pub isn’t much to look at – from the inside or outside. It’s on a stretch of road where a lot of the bars are actually semi-seedy strip clubs. And those that aren’t are, well, pretty much like this one:  dive bars with a base clientele that haven’t been updated in 20 years.

Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. I love me a good dive bar, and I think we all secretly wish for the Cheers-esque greeting whenever we enter one. I grew up frequenting a similar place with my dad, sitting at the bar drinking Pepsi and getting schooled in the finer points of billiards and Atari baseball with stick figures.

(BTW, these days spending the afternoon at the neighborhood bar with your friends and your 4-year old would probably be considered bad parenting. But in the 80’s that was just called “babysitting.”)

However, the irony of the Windsor Pub having a floor mat at the front door advertising the new season of Bar Rescue was not lost on any of us, as I think we all agreed that this place would probably be a prime candidate for that show. Not that I think it’s necessarily hurting for business – there seemed to be a good crowd of regulars there at 7:00 on a Wednesday night – but just the overall decor begs for a bit of an upgrade. Like seats with springs that aren’t trying to reach out and steal fries from the table next to you.

And we’ll get to the bartending skills later.

As with most dive bars, there’s a very small list of beers on tap. Here this included all the usual domestics and then Fat Tire, which Ted and I both went with. Amanda had Miller Lite. And Shane ordered Rum and diet … which in a strange twist actually ended up being lighter in color than any of our beers. So there’s that.

Which is lighter, the beer or the rum and diet?

Which is lighter, the beer or the rum and diet?

We ordered appetizers, because, well, us. But this was clearly a rookie mistake, as I’m sure anyone who has ever eaten at this place will tell you. You either order apps, or a meal. Never both. I don’t care if you haven’t eaten for three days, or if this is your last meal before a starvation diet. Just trust us on this.

Unnecessary onion rings

Unnecessary onion rings

Now, to be fair, our waitress warned us that the actual meals – and in particular the burgers – were giant. But this was after we had already put in our appetizer order and she had come back to take our meal orders, so no take-backsey’s. And thanks for the head’s up. We had ordered pretzel sticks and onion rings, and basically should’ve just taken that money we paid for those and fed it to the hungry springs in the seats underneath us because we barely even touched either of them.

OK, I’ll admit I had a pretzel stick – because, well, I love carbs. But the onion rings in particular were way too greasy and heavy to even think about eating – especially since our meals arrived about two minutes after the apps, and we about passed out from the amount of food we were staring at on our table after that.

See also: gluttony.

Since burgers were the specialty, and we had to test the validity of the outdoor sign, naturally that’s what we all ordered. There are two sizes on the menu for the burgers – a regular and a junior – and  the waitress was nice enough to explain to us that she can only just barely finish the latter of those options. Amanda and I both appreciated her telling us that, because in all honesty “junior” sounds like the kid’s version, and we all know that both of us girls can handle our meat.

Hee hee.

We ended up with three Windsor burgers (which include onions, mushrooms, mayo and cheese) and one Rocket burger (which has salami, pepper rings and ranch dressing. And usually cheese, but this one was without – because, well, it was Ted’s). Boys had regular size and girls went with juniors.

(Interesting side note: when the meals arrived, only the regular size gets a knife to cut them with. #discrimination)

Cheese-less burger

Cheese-less burger

Have some burger with your mayo

Have some burger with your mayo

So as we were placing our orders, the waitress didn’t ask how we wanted the burgers cooked, something all of us overlooked. Except Shane. Of course. So naturally Mr. Particular asked if he could do his medium rare – and she said no, all the burgers are done well. And that there was a reason for that but she couldn’t remember what that reason was.

I could tell Shane was scared, but he wasn’t going to back down.

And he was glad he didn’t. Because the burgers are delicious. They’re large, fresh made – they crumble apart but not because they’re dry. They have really good flavor. And they’re so, so filling. Almost too filling. I really wanted to eat the last of the potato wedges I’d gotten with my burger, but I literally couldn’t fit another thing in me. Even beer was a challenge. And that was on the junior size burger. I can’t even imagine if I had ordered the regular size.

It's still a potato, but somehow the wedges make it fancy

It’s still a potato, but somehow the wedges make it fancy

Burger, from afar

Burger, from afar

Or, better yet, the “Windsor Challenge,” which we saw a sign promoting on our table. What’s this, you ask? Oh let’s see, just THREE of the regular sized Windsor burgers stacked on top of one another. Three. That has to be, like, an entire cow. And if you can eat it in 30 minutes you get it for free. Along with a side of heart disease and high cholesterol.

Hey Ted, doesn't all that cheese look appetizing?

Hey Ted, doesn’t all that cheese look appetizing?

So, remember Shane’s rum and diet that was lighter than our beer? Yeah, by the end of the night we were marveling at the fact that his drinks only seemed to get clearer. By the time we watched the bartender pour his third drink, I think one of us was ready to pull out our phone and get John Taffer from Bar Rescue on speed dial. Three long pours and a splash of coke in a tall, skinny glass. What? You may as well just give him the bottle of rum and a straw at that point.

Although when we got out bill at the end of the night, we realized that the waitress had forgotten to charge us for two of those tall drinks. Which we promptly pointed out to her, because a) we’re honest and b) it was only going to add $4.50 onto our bill. That’s right, the one drink she did charge us for was $2.25. Holy crap.

To quote Shane: “Nine shots for $6.75? That’s a bargain!”

Or an alcoholic’s version of heaven. Whateves.

In any case, I’m fairly positive this won’t be our last trip to the Windsor Pub. While the decor and ambiance leave a little to be desired, the food was excellent and the prices are definitely worth it. I mean, for under $10 you can get a giant burger, fries and a draft beer (or half a bottle of rum, take your pick). How can you complain about that?

That burger is half a ten dollar bill. Size and money-wise.

That burger is half a ten dollar bill. Size and money-wise.

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane (noting that his rating is based on the giant burger)

Shane (noting that his rating is based on the giant burger)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks: There’s nothing special about the beer list, but it’s cheap so you don’t complain. If you’re an alcoholic, though, definitely go with the mixed drinks. Because you get about a quarter of the bottle of rum in a tall drink. For $2.25.  
Food:
We can only speak for the burgers, but we dare say that sign out front is damn close to the truth.
Service: Good. I mean, forgetting to charge you for drinks is far better than overcharging, so there’s that.
Overall: This is another of those “we really wish this place was closer to our homes” examples. Great low-key, dive bar atmosphere with good food and cheap drinks.

Next Pick: Shane

Windsor Pub on Urbanspoon

WTGW 2/18/15: The Galaxy Sports Bar, Wadsworth

So I have to admit I wasn’t sure what to expect with this week’s adventure. First of all, it’s in Wadsworth, which is new territory for the WTGW crew. And second, when Shane asked one of his co-workers if they had ever been to this place before, they replied yes … after a funeral. Um. Say what? Either this was one of the best funerals of the year, or we had reason to be a little worried about the clientele we were about to encounter.

And when I say worried, I mean like Gus’s Chalet kind of worried. Like we might be the only people there under 60 and be handed complimentary appetizers that taste like feet kind of worried.

But it turns out we didn’t have to be. Apparently The Galaxy is kind of like a three-for-one special – it’s a steakhouse, a sports bar and a banquet center all together. Oh, wait, make that four -for-one … a quick glance at the website also touts a wine room. Hey, overachievers – want to add a hotel, too? Oh, wait, no need – there are two within walking distance. So there’s that.

I have to note that the only similarity we really noted to Gus’ was the older man making conversation with the hostess when we first entered. And that she very clearly was looking for a reason to escape from. I’m not sure if she was more thankful for us coming in and saving her, or if we were just as thankful for the extremely prompt seating.

So of course given all of the options, we chose to visit the sports bar … because, well, us. The place has kind of an interesting atmosphere. It looks small when you first walk in, but after kind of settling in and taking it all in a little, we realized there really were a lot of tables in the space, and no one seemed to be cramped or climbing over one another to move around. The Galaxy definitely fits the sports bar mold, with plenty of TVs. Including ones on the tables. And complete with your own remote. Which basically translates to this place giving you a projectile should you be watching the game and a fan of the opposing team is sitting near you. Noted.

The beer list at The Galaxy was pleasantly surprising – especially the draft list, which featured several craft beers. Unfortunately we missed the laminated list on our table when the server first came over to take our drink orders, so that prolonged our ordering a bit. Well, except for Shane, who, after I said we would probably need a minute since it was likely to be beers all around, promptly ordered a rum and diet. Thanks honey.

We ended up with a Blue Moon for Amanda, Hoegarden for me, and Horny Goat Chocolate PB Porter for Ted. This week I win the lightest beer award.

Dark - light scale. With citrus this week.

Dark – light scale. With citrus this week.

Mustering our bravery, Amanda and I both actually tried Ted’s beer, even though it was roughly the color of a dark roast coffee and smelled immensely like a peanut butter sandwich. But we had to admit it wasn’t bad. I mean, it wasn’t “order me up a tall glass of this deliciousness” good – but it was at least decent. For a dark beer.

Ted was very proud.

I eventually switched to the locally brewed Spider Monkey Orange Barrel Ale, thanks to the sign on the chalkboard specials board across the room that intrigued me. I wish I hadn’t been so damn curious, as it wasn’t as good as my first pick. Oh well.

At least the label was cool

At least the label was cool

We chose the Thai calamari for our appetizer. We had it in our heads even before the server proclaimed it to be the best app on the menu – because, well, Shane loves calamari. It was definitely good. Only complaint was that we needed a side of the sauce in addition to what was drizzled over top, because it was by far what made the dish.

A staple of WTGW apps

A staple of WTGW apps

Once again we had the pre-meal interrogation of our server, asking what she liked best, top sellers, what the restaurant is known for, etc. She was quick to point out the steaks and burgers, and said that they actually raise their own beef about 20 miles from the restaurant, so it’s all fresh. Which basically eliminated that option from my choice list, since as much as I love burgers, I like to pretend they come from a tree somewhere and not hand raised just for us to eat them.

But that didn’t stop the rest of the table, who all ignored mental images of Bessie the cow living peacefully down the road and went the beef route.

Shane went all-in, and had the ranch hand steak. And he was not disappointed. If you know Shane, you know how much he loves to rank things – which means its a distinct honor to be listed in his “Top 10 of Steaks.” He said the steak was flavorful and seasoned to perfection. I believe the quote of the night was “fireworks in my mouth” – which could be really bad if taken out of context, so we’ll just leave that here.

Fireworks, pre-detonation

Fireworks, pre-detonation

Amanda had the bleu moon burger, which was this month’s special. It had bleu cheese and a portabella mushroom, and she said it was delicious. And that you could tell it was fresh. Although she ordered it medium and it was a bit more on the well side, so Shane should be glad he didn’t go the burger route this time around. Amanda only ate the burger, and gave the fries to Ted since she was too full. Which she said was a shame, because sweet potato fries are always delicious.

Sweet potato fries for the win

Sweet potato fries for the win

Ted had the fire pit burger, which he mistakenly forgot to ask for without cheese, so he had to spend a few minutes scraping that condiment off before he could even begin to eat it. But even regardless of that, he just said it was OK. Not only did the presentation leave something to be desired – Ted likened it to Steak’n’Shake – but the burger itself just looked extremely teeny tiny compared to the last few burgers he’s devoured. Seriously, asking this to follow up a burger served on French toast is like asking your brother’s high school band to play on the same stage after Bon Jovi finishes up a set.

See, there's a lot of open space there

See, there’s a lot of open space there

And I have to say I agree. I mean, there’s definitely something to be said for plain white plates … but if you’re going to serve sandwiches that look a bit on the small side, you need to at least match the serving size to the plate. Normal-sized burger on a tiny plate suddenly makes it look larger. Or spread out the fries so they cover the remainder of the open space. I thought everyone knew this by now.

I had the smokey all-American melt. Which, much like Ted’s sandwich, was just OK. It was way too heavy on the honey mustard. I mean, I’m not a giant fan of mustard to begin with, but in moderation it’s bearable and can give a sandwich a good flavor. This was like they soaked the bun in a vat of honey mustard before grilling it. And speaking of the bun – and knowing my love of carbs – let’s just say I was far from impressed. I guess from the description I thought this sandwich would be more like a large toasted sub, when in reality it’s basically a grilled cheese with meat on a glorified hot dog bun. Which, no.

If I could've had the entire sandwich on that piece of buttered bread I think I would've been happier

If I could’ve had the entire sandwich on that piece of buttered bread I think I would’ve been happier

We noted – and the boys spent a good amount of time discussing – the “Cowboy Challenge” that The Galaxy offers. It’s a 48 oz steak, with potatoes and broccoli (really, we’re concerned with adding a vegetable here?) for $65. And if you finish it all I think you get your name on the wall of fame, and maybe a t-shirt. Make sure you order that shirt a size larger than what you normally wear if you plan to don it the same evening, btw. Because, wow, that seems like a lot of food.

But I think Ted was seriously tempted. And even more so after his disappointing burger.

They also have an AYCE Sunday brunch, which includes crab legs. That got Shane’s attention for sure.

All in all, not sure that we’d go back to The Galaxy. Our table was equally divided on the thumbs up/thumbs middle consensus. I was disappointed in my food, but the service was decent and the atmosphere was OK. I think we all agreed we’d be interested to check out the patio and the Sunday brunch … but this place also isn’t a quick jaunt around the corner, so whether or not we’ll actually make the drive again is kind of a toss up.

Amanda

Amanda

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Surprisingly more craft beers on tap than what I would’ve expected from a place like this. Filed under: looks can be deceiving.   
Food:
I think the lesson we learned is stick to the dinners, not the sandwiches. And don’t come looking for presentation.
Service: Nice enough but nothing out of this world. At the Galaxy. Out of this world. Get it? Oh never mind.
Overall: I think we all agreed that we would be interested to see what the crowd is like at this place on a weekend. Or what the AYCE Sunday Brunch is all about. But are we interested enough to make the 30 minute drive back? That remains to be seen.

Next Pick: Ted

The Galaxy Restaurant on Urbanspoon

WTGW 2/11/15: Happy Moose Bar & Grille, Streetsboro

Miss us?

So, yeah, we skipped WTGW last week because Mother Nature is a giant whore who graced us with a late afternoon snowstorm that tripled my commute time home and made it treacherous to even think about leaving the house again once I finally got there. Thanks for that. But because we’re alcoholics with no food in the house not about to let the weather get the best of us, we did venture out … only we kept it close to home and and just ended up at the semi-new Panini’s in Stow. But we didn’t think we should write about it because, well, it’s Panini’s. And everyone has been to a Panini’s before. So there’s that.

Anyway.

I stumbled upon Happy Moose the same way I find quite a few of my picks, in a random Google search for new places. Pretty high tech, I know. There’s a Mentor location that has been open for a little bit now, but the Streetsboro location is still fairly new. I read somewhere that it’s an old Eat n’Park. So even before we got there we knew it was an upgrade. And that we would have fun, because, let’s face it, “The Happy Moose” is just fun to say. I mean, come on. How can you not smile just saying it? Who can be grumpy when you ask them if they want to go to a place called the Happy Moose? It’s Happy for Pete’s sake. The first thing that comes to mind is a giant, grinning Bullwinkle greeting you at the door when you walk in.

Which, let me be clear, doesn’t happen. Yet. But you’re welcome for the idea, owners.

Right away we were impressed when we walked in. The place is huge inside, basically just one big space – but I like that it’s not jam packed with tables in every available inch. I hate when you practically have to crawl over a neighboring table full of strangers just to go use the restroom. There’s a giant bar in the middle of the space, and plenty of high top tables and booths. Also lots of TV screens, which immediately made me think we will be coming back to check out a sporting event of some sort there at some point. We asked our server later in the night what the atmosphere is like for games, and he said that unfortunately they really haven’t been open through any major sporting seasons yet to be able to judge. But I definitely think it has potential.

HM (for those of you scratching your heads right now, that stands for Happy Moose. Yes, I’m getting lazy) has an array of daily specials: Wing Night, Rib Night, Bucket Specials, Appetizer Specials … you get the idea. Wednesdays happen to be $3.50 tall domestic beer nights, so score for us. Although I have to admit we were intrigued by the Thursday “Buy your burger and we’ll buy your beer” special. I think we may need a “Throwback Thursday” visit back to HM just to see how that works exactly.

Beers all around for our drinks. Coors Light for Shane, Miller Lite for Amanda, Fat Tire for me and Irish Setter for Ted. For the second week in a row, Ted was surprised and impressed with the color of my beer. Hey, I’m not ready to go to the dark side with him yet, but I have graduated past the “see thru beer” stage.

Beer scale: See thru - wall of darkness

Beer scale: See thru – wall of darkness

It took us a hot minute to decide what to order for our meals, since the menu was full of delicious sounding options. And we actually didn’t jump right to appetizers this week, either. Say what? Who are we? Yep, the holidays are definitely over folks. It’s time to start thinking about those beach abs. You know, as we order burgers, fries and lots of beer. Good call.

As has become customary on WTGW, we asked our server what his favorite thing was on the menu. He recommended the burgers and the wings – which honestly didn’t help us, really, since both of those options sounded equally delicious. We all seemed to be torn between two choices on the menu.

I was torn between a burger and the steak philly. The bread on the steak philly almost won me over, because, well, I’m a sucker for anything different than a regular old bun, and the words “French baguette” are like a love song when it comes to my choice of carbohydrates. But once our server started talking about how good the burgers are I caved and went that route. And I’m happy to say I was not disappointed. I had the Moosey Burger, which aside from being fun to say, was downright delicious. It was messy as all hell, but so, so good. Bacon. Garlic aioli sauce. Cheese. Sauteed onions. Yum, yum, yum and yum.

I also opted for the sweet potato fries, which were good as well. Hey, say what you will, that’s my attempt at healthy when paired with a giant burger.

The lettuce counts as a partial salad, right?

The lettuce counts as a partial salad, right?

Ted was pretty solid on his decision to get the Tsunami burger – even though he was perplexed by the pineapple and claimed “that’s a lot going on on one burger.” (PS – let’s just remember this is coming from the guy who ate that giant heart attack on a plate at The Game.) But then, after hearing a story from our server about how the Big Foot burger sounds like something you wouldn’t possibly considering eating but is actually really good, Ted flipped his game and went with that option instead.

Somehow I managed to get all of that guy on the TV in the background in the shot, but only half of Ted

Somehow I managed to get all of that guy on the TV in the background in the shot, but only half of Ted

For the record, the Big Foot burger includes all of the following: a burger, 2 fried eggs, fries, bacon, cheese, peanut butter … oh, and it’s on French Toast instead of a bun. As Shane said, it’s essentially all three of your daily meals in one (eggs, bacon and french toast = breakfast, peanut butter – lunch, burger = dinner). It’s kind of like the McGriddle. Only on steroids.

Ted is most certainly going to die an early death.

But he did say it was good, so at least I guess he’ll die happy. He said it was definitely interesting – every bite was something different, he never once got all of the flavors together. One bite would be peanut butter and french toast, the next would be burger and egg, the next would be peanut butter and egg (which, um, ew? But whatever). Maybe he finished it all just to see how many flavor combinations he could come up with? You know, kind of like a high-calorie version of the “how many licks to get to the center of the lollipop” game.

That looks like ... well ... um ... oh hell, I don't even know

That looks like … well … um … oh hell, I don’t even know

Amanda was the only one of us that didn’t waiver from her choice. She stuck with the Cuban – her “safety net of sandwiches” as she calls it. I have to admit I was slightly jealous of that damn French baguette that it came out on, and it did have me doubting my choice until I took a bite of my burger. Amanda said she thought the Cuban was outstanding. It was very filling, with great flavor. And since she’s tried them at a lot of places, her stamp of approval definitely carries weight.

(BTW, those last few sentences really, really shouldn’t be taken out of context, lest they become a giant “that’s what she said” joke)

The non-burger plate at the table

The non-burger plate at the table

Shane was stuck in the age-old conundrum of burger vs. wings – and hearing the server say they were both good didn’t help him in the least. Shane also threw a rib option in there, too, but I think he was just trying to mix things up a bit. And hence began the intensive pre-meal interrogation of the server: “How are the ribs?” “How hot is the wing sauce?” And the age-old and ever popular, “How thick are your burgers?” Good times for sure.

He finally landed on the Inferno Burger, which has jalepenos, pepper jack cheese, and a fiery mango habenero sauce. So, the name is definitely appropriate. Shane said the sauce definitely had some heat to it. Actually, a lot of heat. About five minnutes after he finished his burger he said his lips were still burning. Thinking back, that could explain how his second beer was gone before any of us barely drank our way a quarter into ours.

I still can't believe people trust us with large knives

I still can’t believe people trust us with large knives

He also really liked the burger, as evidenced by the fact that 1.) he cleaned his plate before any of the rest of us even touched our second half of our sandwiches and 2.) for about the second time in WTGW history, his burger was actually done exactly as he wanted. Rare enough to not be burnt and dry, but done enough to not still be half alive. Praise Jesus.

And finally, we have a reference point for all of Shane’s future burger orders. Behold: the perfect rare burger.

I have a feeling we will reference this picture many times in WTGWs to come

I have a feeling we will reference this picture many times in WTGWs to come

Actually, quick sidebar: even if you have no intention of ever going to HM, the burger menu is worth looking at online just for fun. We commented that it’s like the “Melt” of burger places. I’m not sure what kind of high-level chef meetings go on behind the scenes to come up with this stuff, but some of those combinations are interesting and truly ah-maz-ing.

Our server (whose name, we later discovered, was Steve – thanks to the random, non-regular patron seated near us who managed to achieve first name basis with him after about two hours and eight beers) was great. He was professional but still super friendly, and we all truly appreciate someone with a sense of humor. Especially one that matches ours. Case in point: when Shane inhaled his burger before the rest of us made it through half our meals, Steve stopped over and quipped “So you hated it then.” I ask for more napkins, he just says “no” and walks away. He comes over to ask about a third round and gives Amanda crap when she tries to wuss out – I believe his exact words were “Oh come on, it’s MILLER LITE.”

BTW, Ted was thrilled that for once he wasn’t the one being called a pansy for not drinking enough.

So you can always tell we really like a place when it’s past 9:00 and we’re still there. And when the words “let’s do shots” start getting thrown around. By 10:00 we were three round of shots deep and had befriended the random, non-regular patron mentioned above who told us Steve’s name. He was visiting the area for work, and his buddy/co-worker had abandoned him at the bar right about the time we ordered our first round of shots. In fact, I think he paid for our first round of shots. Which, by the way, were the tasitest. We were going to order Pumpkin Pie, but Steve talked us into Apple Pie, which is a house made special. And by far the better choice. Steve does not lie.

And we either should’ve just kept doing those, or stopped doing shots all together, because they just went downhill from there. The flowchart goes something like this: Apple Pie>pumpkin pie> White gummy bear > Russian Fruit Basket. Learn from our mistakes.

This was NOT the apple pie shot, Which means it looks way more fun than it tasted.

This was NOT the apple pie shot, Which means it looks way more fun than it tasted.

Unfortunately the night ended on a bit of a sour note, after conversations with our new random transient friend crossed into highly opinionated and loaded subject matter not intended to be discussed after four rounds of shots. Its like breaking one of the cardinal rules of new bar friendships. By 11:00 we had broken up with him and left the bar – but we’re not letting the ending of the night influence our overall thoughts on the place. We will definitely be back.

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane, with the rare double thumbs up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph
Drinks: Apple. Pie Shots. And $3.50 tall domestic drafts on Wednesdays. Enough said.  
Food:
Outstanding. The server wasn’t lying when he said the burgers were out of this world.
Service: You have to appreciate a server who is serious enough to memorize your order without screwing it up but also witty enough to tastefully bust your chops when it comes to ordering another round. And although we think Steve whispered a “they’re going to write a review” in his manager’s ear, having said manager stop by a few times to check on us didn’t hurt our feelings at all.
Overall: This is the first place in a while to earn a high thumbs up all across the board, including a double from Shane. We’ll definitely be back. We just may not be as talkative to strangers after the second round of shots.

Next Pick: Amanda

Happy Moose Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

WTGW 1/28/15: Longhitano’s, Kent

Wait, someone picked a Kent place and it wasn’t Ted? Is that allowed?

Longhitano’s is one of those places we always drove past on our way into or out of Kent proper, noticed the neon signs and tinted windows, and thought “hey, I wonder what that place is like.” Which, as you probably know by now, is the premise of the entire WTGW experience. So it was only a matter of time before we actually ended up inside.

And, on this particular evening, it turned out that we were members of a small but mighty group inside the place. We were one of only about five tables that rotated throughout the evening, and there were a handful of people at the bar. So not at all busy. But I get it, it’s a cold and snowy Wednesday in January. Only crazies like us actually enjoy going out on nights like this.

Of course one of the first things we always notice is the drink list, which in this case was listed on a chalkboard near the bar and included a somewhat impressive list of bottled beers. Ted went with Guinness, and the rest of us had already ordered our standard Miller Lite drafts before Amanda and I read all the way to the end of the list and noticed they still had bottles of Summer Shandy included. Wait, what now? It’s clearly no longer summer. So, thinking it must be a mistake, we inquired … and sure enough they had it. Now I’m not sure if places just remembered Summer Shandy’s popularity from last year, and therefore over ordered it this season or what, but that’s two places this month that have still had it. In January. A full half year past summer. A few years ago we couldn’t even find it when it was STILL SUMMER. Hmm.

The food at Longhitano’s is one of those “something for everyone” kind of varieties – everything from bar food like burgers and sandwiches, to entrees like steaks, ribs and pasta, to seafood dishes, to salads. For real if you can’t find something on the menu that at least piques your interest, then maybe you should just not venture out for meals.

So as you can assume, we had no issues finding something we all liked here. And I’m glad to see we’re back to our old habits of ordering enough appetizers for an army. On this particular evening, breaded mushrooms, fried mac’n’cheese bites and mozzarella sticks all found their way to our table. Because the holidays are a full month past us at this point, let’s just be sure to keep all that extra weight securely on our bodies.

The fried cheese side of the table

The fried cheese side of the table

Ted's side of the table

Ted’s side of the table

For dinner, I went with the Italian Sub. It was huge – and since I had been at Cleveland’s Hofbrauhaus earlier in the day celebrating a retirement (and thus enjoying heavy beer, pretzels and other carb-loaded snacks) I could only eat less than a third of it. But I most definitely packaged up the rest in a to-go box and am already looking forward to the day I’ll enjoy it. I did finish all of the fries, which were fresh cut and fabulous.

Now that's a sub

Now that’s a sub

Full disclosure: I ordered the sub partially because I read on the menu that it came on Italian bread, which I’m a sucker for. The rest of the table ordered burgers, and when they all came out on the same bread I have to admit I was a bit surprised and slightly disappointed – since the bread had been my deciding factor in sub vs. burger. Longhitano’s: 1, Steph: 0.

Ted had the jalepeno burger. He had been set on Cajun pasta, but after reading about that partiluar burger (rather, after I read aloud the description for that particular burger, because I couldn’t believe they put that much heat on one sandwich) he called an audible. Amanda had the bullseye burger, which has onion rings and bacon, so how can you really go wrong? Plus did I mention the bread?

There's a burger under that bread

There’s a burger under that bread

Onion rings on burgers = delicious

Onion rings on burgers = delicious

And now for Shane’s ongoing saga of “let’s-see-if-this-place-can-cook-my-burger-the-way-I-like-it.” What is this, you ask? Well, let me explain:

Step One: Ask the server “how thick are the burgers” – complete with a visual aid of his thumb/forefinger measurement. I swear we need to start bringing a ruler out with us.

Step Two: The answer to step one will determine if he will order the burger medium rare (thick patty) or rare (thin/frozen patty).

Step Three: Wait for burger to arrive.

Step Four: Examine burger upon arrival, and most likely be disappointed because it’s either too well done (see also: well, pretty much everywhere we’ve ever eaten, save for 6-7 places) or because he thinks they’re trying to kill him with a burger so rare the cow may have just died out back (see also: The Rail)

Sounds fun, right?

On this occasion Shane went with the Salami burger, and I’m happy to report that it was actually cooked just about right. Which puts Longhitano’s in an elite group of places that can actually cook a burger Shane will enjoy. Yay! He asked for medium rare, and his burger was definitely cooked, but still very pink inside. Which is far better than the alternatives of charred or nearly alive. Success.

The properly cooked Salami Burger

The properly cooked Salami Burger

Side note: we later noticed our server eating her dinner at the bar near us, and her burger was even pinker than Shane’s. Apparently one of the guys sitting near her at the bar also noticed this, because we also overheard their conversation about how she’s particular and likes her burgers very rare. So maybe it takes one to know one when it comes to ordering properly. Shane may want to change his opening line.

Overall Longhitano’s isn’t a bad place, but on the flip side there was nothing really special about it either. I would go back just because they use Italian bread with everything, so I may not be the best judge on this one. And, well, you know Shane’s opinion on the food. But I would be curious to try one of the pastas just to see how it is. I did like that there’s a nice menu selection – something for everyone, so if you’re going out with a group and no one has a particular taste for something it would be a good choice for “one stop shopping.” And while it was relatively quiet during our visit, there are also TVs on every table, so you do have to wonder if the sporting events bring out the crowds. Might be worth a venture back at some point to check it out.

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No teeth Shane

No teeth Shane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks: Hey, any bar that can give us Summer Shandy in January is OK in our book. Impressive bottled beer list, and the martinis we spotted on the neon sign behind the bar sounded delicious. 
Food:
Anything from pasta to seafood to typical bar fare. Nice choice for a group that can’t decide what they’re in the mood for. So, you know, us.
Service: Good. The place was pretty much empty, though, so I’d be pretty disappointed if we weren’t taken care of. Our one complaint was that the waitress was too busy eating her own meal and talking to a regular at the bar to even say goodbye to us. And again, it’s not like we were lost in a crowd on our way out.
Overall: Good. Nothing overly impressive, but nothing bad either. And, hey, since they can get Shane’s burger cooked properly there’s a good chance we might return.

Next Pick: Steph

 

WTGW 1/21/15: Laziza, Kent

Well, it’s Ted’s week to pick, so not surprising we’re back in Kent. And he’s had this place on his radar for a while now, thanks to our rule that you can’t pick a place for a WTGW outing if you’ve eaten there. And I guess he wanted to enjoy this experience with us. I know, it’s all very sweet.

Laziza features primarily Mediterranean foods – which, wait, what? Be still my heart. Two non-bar/grille places to start the year? We are certainly setting the bar high in 2015.

In any case.

Laziza has a nice atmosphere, it’s a large place with an upstairs seating area as well as some tables downstairs by the bar – which, if you know us, you know already this is where we sat. We just feel most comfortable next to a bar. Judge away.

Obligatory abstract mirror photo

Obligatory abstract mirror photo

At least we ended up with a window table. Because we’re special like that. Well, and because there were only like three other parties in the place – but I like the “special” reason better.

The drink list was on the table when we sat down, which I consider to be a good sign. Seriously, why don’t more places do this? It seems to save the whole “make the server run through 1800 choices and then they still have to come back because we haven’t had time to process all of that yet.” It’s just good business, people. For real.

*rant over*

Of course, I was wooed by the martini list right off the bat. I mean, with options like Bananas Foster, Peppermint Patty and Salted Caramel Macchiato, how can you ignore that? But the prices seemed a bit steep (most were around $8.00 each), so the romance was short lived. Especially once the server came over and told us they were featuring $1.00 off all draft beers, and that they had just tapped a Blue Moon Peach. Balance shift.

Our group reverted back to our three-against-one strategy of drinking, with Amanda, Shane and I all opting for the Blue Moon Peach, while Ted went with an IPA. And for once our beers were darker than Ted’s. Because it’s an evening of new adventures all around.

It's hard to tell from this photo, but my beer is actually darker than Ted's. What?

The color in this photo does not do it justice

Maybe out of embarrassment for that fact, Ted eventually switched to a Banana Fosters martini for his second round – which we all got a nice laugh out of when it actually made the server do a double take. Like a for real “wait, what?” double take. I’m guessing not too many people go IPA to martini in one round flat. But to give Ted credit, he also didn’t seem to regret his choice – and, having tasted said martini, I have to say I can’t really blame him. Delicious.

You want a what now, sir?

You want a what now, sir?

Meanwhile, Shane ordered coffee for his second round. Because he’s 97. And us girls stuck to beer. I’m not entirely sure what these choices say about our group.

Yes folks, that's my husband drinking coffee. Because he's apparently 97.

Yes folks, that’s my husband drinking coffee. Can we get a senior citizen discount?

For food, I should preface this by saying we had two people at the table who have at least eaten Mediterranean food before (me and Ted), and two who were kind of flying blind (Shane and Amanda). I have a feeling you’ll notice that our reviews of our meals reflect this fact, so I thought it best to at least put it out there.

Ted and I took over appetizer ordering, since we already kind of knew what we had our eyes on. I ordered the Dawali for an appetizer, and Ted went with the Fried Kibbie. I’m surprised Shane, after discovering hummus last summer and eating it about every day, didn’t order that – but then again maybe he’s had his fill. We did get him and Amanda to try the Dawali, although neither of them were that impressed. Ted had the Kibbie all to himself, although Shane did try the cucumber sauce that came with it. Which prompted memories of the “this has to be sweet … nope” taste test from Gus’s Chalet. And gave us a chance to mention that place for about the 85th straight week in a row. The streak continues.

Those aren't sausages

Those aren’t sausages

And that's not a corn dog. This ethnic food is hard.

And that’s not a corn dog. This ethnic food is hard.

The basket of pita and rolls that was brought out for the table was a mixed review: the rolls were buttery and very good, while the pita was too thin and had no flavor. The oil that came with it for dipping seemed to separate and left all the spices at the bottom … so really it only worked when you dipped the bread into it, not when you tried to be civil to your group an pour your own portion on your plate so you don’t accidentally double dip. So good thing we’re all friends here I guess.

As far as dinner, I’m thinking we had to be one of the easiest tables the server had all night. Girls had Shish Kabobs, while guys had Beef Shawarma. Thankfully, unlike last week’s server who promptly forgot our margarita orders two seconds after he left our table, our server at Laziza managed to keep this incredibly complicated order on pointe. Well done sir.

Meat on sticks

Meat on sticks

Meat, not on sticks

Meat, not on sticks

I thought it was all very good. Everything had good flavor, and the portions were extremely large. The only thing I noticed was that the meat was all over the board in terms of done-ness. Some chunks were a little drier and well done, while others looked to be just barely past the fresh-killed stage. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be prepared, but I have to admit that inconsistency was slightly unnerving. Amanda agreed – she said there were certain pieces of meat that were tough and not well seasoned, and then there were others were so tender they pretty much melted in your mouth. Which was not unlike Ted’s description of “meat flavored cotton candy” from a few months back, so I guess that’s a good thing.

Also unnerving: attempting to cut those less tender chunks of meat with the butter knife I was given with my meal. No joke. I mean, I think back to all those times we were given Ginzu steak knives to cut through hamburgers on plain buns, and then here I am trying to saw through nearly raw steak with a delicate knife meant for spreads. It was like at any moment I either expected the table to cave underneath me due to all the sawing motion, or that scene to play out from Pretty Woman when the escargot goes flying across the room at the fancy restaurant. Slippy little suckers.

Ted was happy with his meal. I think the place lived up to his expectations and was well worth the wait in trying it. And I’m sure he’ll be returning – in fact, he may even have done so by the time I post this review.

We also noted that, in the 18+ months that we’ve been doing this, this place was almost certainly the first place in which no cheese whatsoever was on our table over the course of the meal. RIGHT!?!? None. Zero. Zip. Which is absolutely unheard of for us. And could also explain why Ted likes Mediterranean food so much. *glass broken*

Shane, on the other hand, was not a fan. He said the rice was greasy (also one of Amanda’s complaints – I agree that it is oily, but no more so than rice I’ve had at other Mediterranean places). He didn’t like the beef on his Shawarma, said he thought it needed more seasoning and flavor. OK Negative Nancy. Between this week and last – when he also claimed his food was flavorless – maybe he’s ruined his taste buds somehow? It’s something to look into. Now granted, Shane also didn’t have a frame of reference for this type of food, as he’d never tried it before – but somehow I doubt it made such an impression that he’ll be eager to try it again.

So I guess the final verdict was that the half of the group who had tried this type of food before would vote in favor of a return, while the other half I think would be more inclined to vote for burgers and fries over this type of food in the future. But at least they tried it, so that’s something. And they didn’t order a wrap or something American-ized (which there is a lot of on the menu – everything from surf & turf to steaks to burgers to buffalo chicken wraps) so bonus points there.

But something also tells me when next week’s pick rolls around, Shane will be picking a good ole bar and grill for his choice. It’s time.

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Shane

Shane

 

 

 

 


CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks: The martini list looked fantastic, although the prices did not. Besides, they had us at “$1.00 off draft beers on Wednesdays.”  
Food:
If you like Mediterranean food, you’ll like Laziza. If you don’t … well, then, maybe you should think of a new place to go. Honestly, though, they do have a few burgers, steaks and a nice selection of wraps on the menu, so if someone in your group is “all-American-food-all-the-time” they should still be able to find something they like here.
Service: Excellent. Particularly the part where he was taken aback by Ted’s martini order. And he called us fun, so bonus points for that.
Overall: Those of us who had had this type of food before enjoyed it more than those in the group who hadn’t. So take that as you will.

Next Pick: Shane

Laziza on Urbanspoon