Who are we?

Sticky

Just a group of friends making the mid-week blues better by trying new out new places to eat and drink every Wednesday. From dive bars to classy establishments and everything in between, we’re not afraid to check it out, take some random photos, and share with you our experiences.

Want to know more about us and how this all started? Read our first post here.

WTGW 1/20/16: Hodge’s Cafe, Barberton

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Ah Barberton. It’s been a while. We’ve missed you.

And by that I mean we’ve missed traveling through neighborhoods on the way to our destination that make us question our decisions on life insurance policies. Case in point, about halfway to Hodge’s we passed a totally questionable looking establishment on a street corner that was really nothing more than a small building with no name and no windows … oh wait, I take that back, there was one window, but it was taken up completely with a giant neon red OPEN sign and hours too small to be read from the street. What they were OPEN for, however, was completely up for grabs.

Shane (whose goal in life is the find the scariest place imaginable for us to visit) of course exclaims, “OH, we HAVE to go THERE.”
Me: Absolutely not.

We really need to start utilizing an “avoid ghettos” feature on Google Maps.

Anyway.

So we get to Hodge’s, and park in a somewhat less questionable parking lot, only to walk inside the place and be greeted by lighting that somewhat resembles the surface of the sun. Not quite what I was expecting from a little neighborhood dive establishment, but I guess you’ll have that. I also didn’t expect to see a Tony Stewart NASCAR themed crock pot staring at me from across the way on top of the popcorn machine, but I guess you’ll have that as well.

Anytime you can find $2 bottles of Summer Shandy in January … well, honestly it probably means that the bar just found a few cases in the back room and dusted them off mere seconds before their expiration date so they could clear the space. But if you’re me or Amanda you just chalk it up to a win and move on. We aren’t going to ask questions on this one, except for the obvious “how many do you have left in there?” Because we all know how this group has been burned on our favorite beer finds in the past.

Anytime you can find this in January life is good

Anytime you can find this in January life is good

Although in this case we didn’t have to worry, because we didn’t run out the stash. And they also had grapefruit shandy available on the specials board, too, so at least we had a backup.

Shane, meanwhile, went the tall Captain and diet route. Which he observed them pouring and commented that it contained at least four shots. And which we learned later at the end of the night was only $1.75 more each than my outdated Summer Shandy.  Oh, hello Windsor Pub redeux. Nice to meet you.

For apps we got fried pickles and clam strips. Because, dive bar and fried stuff. And us. The clam strips were more like batter strips that kind of maybe tasted a little bit like clams. Maybe they just deep fried some batter in clam juice? Who knows. The bigger pieces were OK, but a lot of the dish was just pieces parts of, well, fried batter. Yummy. And the pickles were spears instead of chips, which was not at all what any of us were expecting. Of course I had to comment that “that’s a lot of pickle at once.”

That’s what she said.

Pickles on steroids

Pickles on steroids

Despite what it says in the background, this is not meatloaf

Despite what it says in the background, this is not meatloaf

Hodge’s is known for its burgers, so naturally that’s what we all got. Plus there’s not much else of note on the menu to choose from, so that made the decision easier, too. I mean, we didn’t come all the way to Barberton for hot dogs and grilled cheese, right? Although they do also feature the random AYCE spaghetti special or veal parmesan. Those must be reserved for those “fancy” dinners like first dates and birthday celebrations.

And I’m still confused what the Tony Stewart crock pot is used for exactly.

Ted got the Italian burger with fries. Jerrid went with the Big Hodge burger with onion rings, Amanda got the mushroom and swiss burger with fries, and Shane got the black & blue burger with fries. Our server asked Shane if he wanted a small or large order of fries, to which Shane looks at me and asks “are you eating any?” I said that, well, honestly I really shouldn’t, what with trying to be a bit healthier and all – and that’s why I got a side salad with my BBQ burger.

Shane: Large then.

Thanks, honey.

Speaking of that salad …

So. Many. Comments.

So. Many. Comments.

So, yeah, be warned that Hodge’s version of a salad is really nothing more than a heap of cheese over some lettuce. So, OK. So much for the whole “healthier” thing. If I were Ted and said I didn’t want any cheese on my salad, would they have just brought me out a head of iceberg and a fork? But the best part is that wasn’t even the weirdest thing about the salad. If you look at that photo again, you’ll notice something to the side …

So. Many. Comments.

So. Many. Comments.

Yes, that’s an actual bottle of salad dressing. When I said I wanted the dressing on the side, I kind of just meant a little cup … not the entire bottle on the side of my salad. It’s almost like the cook was like, “well, hell, I don’t know how much to pour in a cup – I usually just put it on the salad directly. I can’t measure any other way. Just give her the whole bottle and let her do it herself.” Hmm. Are these people related to the folks over at the Lockview in Akron, who just gave us the plastic Helluva Good container from the corner store as part of our “house made chips and dip” order??

They also brought us an extra basket of fries after our food came out. Because they didn’t hear Shane order the “large” just for himself, I guess? Or maybe they really did think I was going to eat all of his after all. Or maybe the cook just really isn’t good on measuring fries as well as salad dressing. Who knows. But regardless, I have to admit it was a nice gesture.

Oh good, more fried stuff

Oh good, more fried stuff

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

Why is the pickle on the top? I'm confused.

Why is the pickle on the top? I’m confused.

Or it would’ve been, if they’d actually given us time to eat said fries – as well as actually refilling our beverages – in the meantime. Pretty much after the food came we didn’t see the server/bartender again. It was like they vanished into thin air after our meals hit the table. They never came to check on us, ask if we needed anything else, ask if we wanted more drinks … but when it was obvious we were finished eating suddenly they reappeared and delivered the checks to the table. It was almost like they’d been huddled around a security camera in the back room, waiting for that last morsel to leave our plates or for us to utter the words “that’s it, I’m full” so they could swoop in and clear the plates and drop the check. Again, they didn’t ask if we wanted the checks – just like they didn’t ask if we wanted anything else, or needed refills on our drinks – they just brought the checks.

Notice the empty glass. Because the server sure didn't.

Notice the empty glass. Because the server sure didn’t.

Because nothing says thanks-for-coming-but-don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out like that particular action.

By the way, lest you think we were overstaying our welcome, getting all rowdy and holding the place past closing … it was all of 8:30 PM at this time. 8:30. And what time do they close, you might ask? 9:30. A full hour later. And also not even that late, considering most places like this stay open at least until 11, if not 2AM.

At Hodge’s, clearly they’re used to locking up and heading home by 9. Because at 8:30 on a Wednesday, we were the last table left in the place. The few other tables who had been sharing the place with us earlier in the evening left about a half hour prior to our checks arriving at our table. Either there’s a curfew in effect in Barberton that we’re not aware of, or everyone locks themselves in their houses before 9:00 so they can enjoy a date with DVR’d episodes of Dr. Phil and Wheel of Fortune.

Or maybe they all hit up the OPEN place. Who knows.

In any case, that non-welcoming sense of “get the hell out now” is probably a big part of why we won’t be running to return to Hodge’s. I mean, the food was just OK. My burger seemed a bit overdone (they don’t ask how you want them, must just cook them all “medium” – because we all know how well that usually works out). And I didn’t hear anyone in our group particularly raving about theirs either. I certainly didn’t hear anyone mention their “Top 5” lists … so I can only imagine this burger wasn’t going on any of them.

Now, as far as salads with your own personal bottle of pre-opened and partially used dressing, however, this is up there …

I can't stop looking at the pile of cheese in the background

I can’t stop looking at the pile of cheese in the background

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  Of course I give props to any place I can find a Summer Shandy in January. But apparently finding one after 8:30 PM is a whole other story.
Food:
Eh. Nothing out of the ordinary from what we’ve had at other burger joints. Except of course for the salad dressing straight from the bottle.
Service: Clearly ends an hour or so before the actual closing time.
Overall: I guess if you’re a local, this would be a nice little neighborhood bar. But we aren’t, and we can get better service for the same caliper food closer to home.

Next Pick: Jerrid
Hodge's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 1/13/16: BJ’s Brewhouse, Fairlawn

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You know we’ve hit a lot of restaurants in the area when we see one being built and in the back of our minds we’re all kind of thinking about whose pick is going to line up with the week of the opening. BJ’s Brewhouse is a fairly recent addition to the Fairlawn food landscape, located in the southeastern corner of the Summit Mall parking lot. Construction began around the middle of the summer, I think, and then all of a sudden, bam, it was open. I know Shane and I were invited to meet another couple there a few months back, which must’ve been right after the opening because the wait was like, two hours, on a Saturday night. Um, no thanks. I mean, you’d think there were absolutely no other places to eat within a 10 mile radius or something. Please.

So anyway, fast forward to this week, when we think the hype may have died down a little, and Amanda announces this is her WTGW pick. When I texted Ted to tell him the news, his response was “well, dammit. that was going to be my next pick.” So I’m thinking we can all assume that at least some of Ted’s Google searches for the next week will involve area restaurants. Just some. *wink, wink*

And either the good word of mouth is spreading about BJ’s (can we all just talk for a minute about how places need to stop choosing this horrible name for their establishments?) or there are still a number of people in the Summit County area who haven’t tried it yet and were, like us, waiting for the first wave of patrons to cycle through (overachievers) … because even with going on a Wednesday late evening there was still a wait for a table. Only about 20 minutes, but still. Impressive. Amanda and Jerrid were the first to arrive, so they got to be the lucky ones to wait – but, hey, with a place that has the word “brewhouse” in the title it’s not hard to find a way to occupy that amount of time, right?

Anyway.

So we’re seated, and the first thing we notice is that the menus weigh about six pounds each. And, just like last week, flipping through them is similar to reading a short story. While I appreciate the variety, sometimes maybe you can find the few things you want to specialize in and just stick to that, no? Or at least a certain nationality of food? I mean, it’s like you kind of have to just narrow it down to the basic type of food you think you might want and then just stare at those 2-3 pages until you decide on the actual item to order. Because one more flip, and before you know it you’re back on the winding road of delicious sounding food options.

At least the drinks were a tad bit easier for us. BJ’s (seriously, I giggle every time I type that) brews their own beers, but they do also offer a pretty impressive selection of other domestic and craft beers as well.

So, you know, it makes perfect sense that Shane and Amanda both chose Miller Lite.

Ted, Jerrid and I were a bit more adventurous. I got the Hefeweizen (which I’ve found to be my “go to” pretty much any place that offers it), Ted got the house made IPA, and while Jerrid didn’t go with one the house made beers he still went with a craft, the Magic Hat #9.

And I think this is the first time in months we’ve all ordered beer. WTF?

Ted ordered the wings for an appetizer, while Shane pretended to not know what he wanted until I mentioned they had calamari. Surprise!

Because we never order this

Because we never order this

Or this

Or this

Both apps were good. We all agreed that we really liked the aioli sauce that came with the calamari. And Ted called the calamari “tender.” Which he later clarified as “not over cooked.” Just in case we were confused that it may have been emotionally fragile or something like that instead. The wings were a siracha dry rub. They were kind of sweet and kind of spicy, with enough flavor to give them a kick without being so hot that you need a bucket of water to wash down every bite.

And good thing, too, because asking for water with our server was somewhat like asking a cat to, well, do whatever it is you want a cat to do. Shane asked three times for a glass of water – and despite taking our alcohol orders, bringing those drinks, bringing the apps … and asking each time what else we needed (to which Shane responded “a glass of water would be great”) – she still didn’t bring it.

Then Jerrid casually mentions “hey, can we get a couple of waters here?” … and suddenly like seven glasses appear at our table.

Is anyone thirsty? I'm parched.

Is anyone thirsty? I’m parched.

Clearly this time Jerrid was the magic name in our group, not Shane. Payback for the Rush Hour Grille incident maybe?

For meals, Amanda and I ordered off the “light menu” – she got the seared ahi salad and I had the blackened barbacoa chicken. Amanda said the salad was so tasty, she would almost order another one to take home. She particularly mentioned the dressing as being really good, and although the tuna could’ve used a bit more seasoning on it, it it was overall a really delicious meal. And it was enough to be filling – something that doesn’t always happen with those tricky “light” menu items  (I mean, really, just because we’re trying to eat healthier and lose weight doesn’t mean we want to starve, am I right?) – but she didn’t feel stuffed.

Healthy eating can be pretty

Healthy eating can be pretty

Mine was also really good, and filling as well. It was a bit on the spicy side … but thankfully we had a crap ton of water if I’d needed it, so crisis averted there.

It's strange to not see fries on this plate

It’s strange to not see fries on this plate

Ted got the ribeye steak with asparagus and rice pilaf. He said, and I quote ” the asparagus was good, rice was good, steak was … good.” Hmm, seems like there’s some hesitation there perhaps? But he said if he had to rate it, all in all he would give it a solid 7 out of 10. He said he had actually been deciding between like three different things on the menu (and, I mean, with that menu that’s totally understandable) – so he would definitely come back to try something else. Particularly the crispy jaelepeno burger, that’s the next thing on his list.

That's a nutritious looking meal. And a sharp looking knife.

That’s a nutritious looking meal. And a sharp looking knife.

In case we weren’t all sick of their continuing antics yet, Shane and Jerrid kept the bromance alive and actually split a dinner. Really guys? People are going to talk. In any case, they shared probably one of the most typically non-shared foods, a full rack of ribs, paired with a very easily shared food, the medium BJ’s special pizza (and again, see what I mean about the name? That just isn’t good marketing). Jerrid said his food was good, although Shane likened the pizza to that which you get at Pizza Hut. They also weren’t a huge fan of the ribs, which they said were just average.

Hi, Pizza Hut? We found one of your pizzas here.

Hi, Pizza Hut? We found one of your pizzas here.

There's a rack of ribs under those fries somwhere

There’s a rack of ribs under those fries somewhere

Although maybe Shane just was too watered down at that point to taste anything, what with the 18 glasses of water and all?

I have to say, our server was definitely not the most personable. Or loud. And that’s a bit of a problem, since the place is actually pretty loud inside, thanks to the openness and the high ceilings and all. So half the time I wasn’t sure if she was actually talking to us or just mumbling under her breath about something. Maybe about the high cost of tap water and how wasteful patrons like us insist on asking for it? Who knows.

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane (he must be water-drunk?)

Shane (he must be water-drunk?)

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  The house brewed beers are good, with an impressive variety. I’d be willing to try a few more on the list just to see what else they have to offer. But I guess being a “brewhouse” means the water tap is selectively broken. This is one WTGW where it didn’t pay to be named Shane for once. 
Food:
Not a bad selection – they offer anything from pizza to sandwiches to salads and lighter fare. And you’ll be extra hungry after you get done reading the short novel that is the menu.
Service: As long as you aren’t craving water – or a personality of some kind – it’s not bad.
Overall: This place was pretty much middle of the road for the entire group. It wasn’t horrible by any means, and I think we would go again if we happened to be in the area. But if we get the same server again I think Shane may sneak in his own flask of water.

Next Pick: Ted

WTGW 1/6/16: Danny Boy’s, North Canton

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Happy New Year!

And what better way to just basically continue the food-and-drink-fest-that-is-the-holiday-season than by hitting up an Italian restaurant with huge portions and potent drinks? We know how to live, folks. I mean, until we all die of heart attacks, liver damage and high cholesterol, that is. Yay cheese and carbs!

So, yes, the first WTGW of 2016 takes us to the North Canton location of Danny Boy’s. There are actually four other locations in the Cleveland/Akron area – Rocky River, Chesterland, Sandusky and Broadview Heights. Their website says the chain started at the Rocky River location in 1991 – which shocked the hell out of me, because the interior of the North Canton location seemed to be dated well before that time. I mean, it’s not quite Gus’s Chalet … but it’s also not the sports bar they appear to be on some of the photos on their website by any means.

(Gotta be sure to start out the new year with our weekly digs at good ole Gus’s Chalet. It just doesn’t seem right otherwise)

But seriously, the place is way smaller on the inside than I thought it would be – both from the photos online and also just from the outside of the building. It’s like you walk in expecting a large dining room and separate bar area … and what you get instead is a room divided down the middle by a short wall and a glass partition, with the dark bar area on one side, and an even darker dining room on the other. Cozy. So, I wonder, what are they using all the space in the back of the building for? I mean, unless the kitchen is the size of a small yacht, I have to think there’s some giant dance floor/gym area back there that the staff is using between orders.

Also, if you don’t like the ambiance of Sinatra music with your meal, you might want to dine elsewhere. Or bring headphones.

Anyway, Danny Boy’s is known for their pizza and Italian food – but keep in mind that they menu is far more than that. Like 18 pages more than that. In the mood for calzones or stromboli? Got it. A big salad? Yep. Sandwiches, subs and appetizers? Sure thing. Burgers or ribs? No worries. Something called a “Woogie Melt”? Yeah, I have absolutely no idea what that is, but it’s on the menu.

Eventually I think we all got to the point where we were just kind of flipping the pages aimlessly and figured we would just point to an entree on whatever page we were resting on when the server next came to our table.

Amanda and Jerrid had gotten there early and had a drink and appetizer at the bar before the rest of us arrived, then just migrated to a nearby larger table in the same area once we got there. They had started with Captain and cokes for drinks … which Jerrid promptly switched away from after Shane ordered a Long Island and Jerrid saw it was served in a “cool” mason jar. It was like a repeat of Rush Hour Grille.

Jerrid finally gets his drink in a mason glass

Jerrid finally gets his drink in the cool kids glass

Ah, bromance.

Ted also started with Captain and coke, until it occurred to him that they were super tasty and he would drink them too fast … and since he was our driver and we were a good half hour from home then maybe wasn’t the best plan. Smart guy, that one. He switched to beer, even though the primarily domestic non-craft beer list was somewhat difficult for him to navigate. Because we all know Ted doesn’t enjoy Miller Lite.

We started out with an order of breadsticks for the table … which, let’s be honest here, these things they call bread sticks are more like bread pillows. And they were heavenly. Shane’s comment was that they’re “just the right kind of soft dough.” Whatever that means. All it translates to me is that I could eat just a full plate of these if left alone with them. Delicious.

Heavenly little bread pillows

Heavenly little carb-and-butter-laden pillows

For our meals, it was the tale of two orders at our table: the pizzas vs the pastas. It’s like the Jets vs the Sharks, but without the music. Or stellar choreography.

Representing the pizzas we had Shane with a NY style pizza with pepperoni and sweet red peppers, and Ted with a Chicago style deep dish.

On the pasta side, Amanda got the “Spotlight Peppers and Pasta,” I had the “Guys and Dolls Baked Penne,”and Jerrid got the “Old Blue Eyes Mac & Cheese.”

I think you’re probably sensing by now that the whole Sinatra theme goes far beyond the choice of music.

Sausage, peppers and pasta, oh my

Sausage, peppers and pasta, oh my

Carb and cheese overload

Carb and cheese overload

More pasta, different color

More pasta, different color

Everyone ended up being relatively happy with their orders. Ted for once got a pizza that he didn’t have to pick the cheese off the top of before consuming. Although the cheese does come baked on the inside of the pizza – a fact that at least he was aware of beforehand or else that first bite could’ve been ugly. He ended up taking about 1/3 of his pizza home with him, because a medium was way too much. And judging by the take home box that I lifted as we were walking out, I can’t say I blame him.

Ted finally gets his wish of a cheese-less pizza (on top anyway)

Ted – no cheese, this looks perfect!

Shane wasn’t as crazy about the sauce on his pizza – he likes a sweeter sauce, and this wasn’t that. But he still ate his entire medium pizza by himself. I’m not sure exactly what that says other than he was hungry and it’s still pizza, so he wasn’t going to waste it.

Now that's a pizza

Now that’s a pizza

And he was the only one without a to-go box when we left, as Amanda, Jerrid and I all took at least half of our meals home with us. It was all good – but it was like we each had some weird strain of regenerating pasta in our bowls that grew back as soon as we took a few bites. Seriously, after at least 20 minutes of eating it looked like we had just really been using our forks to mix things around in each of our bowls and not transporting any of the contents to our mouths.

I, mean, really – compare these to the pasta photos above.

I swear I was eating it. Honest.

Hmmm, seems very similar

Twenty minutes and umpteen forkfuls later ... and it looks like it was never touched.

It just won’t go away!

**update** Just a note, those left overs ended up being one large and two small meals for me after this trip. What? That means there are easily three to four portions served there. In one bowl. If anyone can finish that in one sitting I imagine a wheelbarrow is necessary to get them to the car afterwards. I’m not sure if I would be proud or horrified of that person. 

All in all Danny Boy’s was a good place for huge portions of Italian food … but just not the dining atmosphere we typically gravitate to. The service was OK – although, let’s face it, after last week’s inability to get beverages – or really attention of any kind – our server here really just had to show up more than twice all night and we would be impressed. They should thank Mason Jar for totally lowering our expectations.

But I do actually kind of wish there was a location closer to our house just so we could do carry out – with the huge menu and the amount of food you get for your money, I think this could easily become a go-to staple for quick no-hassle dinners. Or do you think we could convince them to just deliver us orders of bread pillows like once a week?

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Photobomb by Shane

Photobomb by Shane

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  While the beer list wasn’t overly impressive, the specialty cocktails were a hit at our table. Although, let’s be honest, after last week’s issues we were just happy to have beverages of any kind this time around. 
Food:
Come hungry. And bring 15 of your friends to help you eat one meal. I think Shane was the only one at the table who didn’t leave with a to-go box … because, well, Shane.
Service: Something else we were just happy to have at all after last week’s pick. Danny Boy’s should give a huge thank you nod to Mason Jar for making regular things like checking in a table seem awesome.
Overall: Another example of how one part of the place can kill it for a few people in the group. While the food was good and the service decent – the atmosphere at this location just wasn’t what a group like ours would return for.

Next Pick: Amanda

Danny Boys Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/30/15: The Mason Jar, Aurora

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Our last WTGW of 2015 takes us to a place that definitely has potential … with a little work. And by work we really mean workers.

These are the fun ones, my friends.

So, The Mason Jar is located right on one of the main roads in Aurora, and the first thing we noticed is that they need way more parking. Especially since they share a lot with a building that seems to host all sorts of fitness classes – which, can we just talk about that little ploy for a second? Either it’s an unfortunate lease on the side of Mason Jar, or brilliance on the side of the fitness place – because nothing says “yes, let’s go eat huge burgers and heavy appetizers” like seeing people getting fit on the other side of a very large window. Especially during an already precarious time of holiday food shaming.

Thanks, ladies in the window doing Zumba or Jazzercise or whatever the hell it was you were doing. You’re awesome.

Anyway.

So once you avert your eyes, shove down the shame and get inside, the place is actually pretty cute. And by cute I mean it’s got charm, but not a lot of space to show it off. Great decor, definitely potential for a great atmosphere and gathering place … for about 10 of your closest friends anyway. It seems like there are only really a few tables, and especially when groups larger than four come in that really fills up the place in a rather hot second. Like when the party of eight arrived and claimed the only big high top table that would fit all of them … and then a party of two other complete strangers to that group had to try and sit at the two open seats at the end of said big table without seeming like awkward, creepy eavesdroppers.

Good times.

Although we had to admit by the end of the evening that it was probably a blessing that the place wasn’t bigger or had more tables, since the wait staff seemed severely overwhelmed with just the ones they did have. And here we have our group’s biggest complaint about The Mason Jar … the service is SUPER slow. Like slower than molasses slow. Like slower than a race between one-legged turtles slow.

Like order a drink and wait for it for the next 20 minutes slow. *gasp* THE HORROR!

And let’s not pretend that it took the bartender that long to make the drink because it was super complex, or that everyone in the place rushed the bar with orders, or that it was new bartender day and the person was all Tom Cruise in Cocktail when he first starts bartending and can’t make a martini. OK, part of it was that there was only one bartender, and she also had to serve some of the tables in the place. But honestly, even so, we could’ve walked over and picked the drinks up off the end of the bar, where they were just chilling out for about 15 of those 20 minutes, waiting for our server to notice them and deliver them to the table.

Amanda and Ted were actually the smart ones, ordering beer right from the start. Easier to pour = the server can actually just hang out and wait for the few seconds it takes to get the liquid in the glass. Done.

Shane and I win the idiot awards for the week, as we decided to choose from the “specialty drink menu” (i.e., a nice way of saying “girly drinks”). We both started with Hazy Mojitos. Which, once we received them, were deemed really tasty … and as such, we determined that they were served in way too small of a glass for the amount of time it takes to actually drink them. I mean, we sucked them down in less time than we waited for them to arrive. And then waited for the server to notice the empty glasses and ask if we wanted more.

And waited.

And waited.

Looks pretty ... until it disappears two seconds later

Looks pretty … until it disappears two seconds later

Meanwhile, Ted had put in and order of Diablo Mussels for an app when we put in our drink orders. Shane and I were going to put in an app order also, but the server ran away before we could make a snap decision on what we wanted. Like literally ran away.

That was the only time she seemed to move quickly with regards to our table all night. Just sayin’.

Needless to say, Ted’s app was pretty much on it’s way to the table before we even got the chance to put our order in for the appetizer portion of Mason Fries. Because that’s helpful.

So anyway, the mussels come out, and they’re served covered in some sort of spicy marinara sauce. OK, interesting. We all agreed we’d never seen that presentation before on that particular dish, but whatever.

Ted, upon trying it: I take that back, it’s a spicy pepper sauce, not marinara.

Well still, it’s different.

I wasn’t particularly crazy about it over the mussels. I think we all agreed that the mussels were good, the sauce was good … but they should be served separately. Like maybe over pasta, that sauce would be fantastic. Or pasta with the mussels de-shelled and mixed in. Or basically any  combination that was not how it arrived at our table that evening.

If that was pasta we might've been happier

If that was pasta we might’ve been happier

So the specialty at Mason jar is stuffed burgers. And of course that’s what 3/4 of the table got. Amanda had the Greenman (essentially her usual mushroom and swiss – just with the toppings inside the burger instead of on top), Capri for me (fresh mozzerella, spinach and tomato inside), Smokehouse for Shane (BBQ fillings).

Ted, back to his trend of having to be the different one in the group, went with the Jumbalaya. Showoff. 

Meanwhile … we’re still waiting for round two on the drinks. Due to the small aforementioned small amount of tasty liquor in tiny glasses that take too long to arrive, Shane and I decided to switch it up – he went with the Long Island, which is on special on Wednesdays for $4.00. I asked if perhaps the Mojito could just be served in a bigger glass – like make it a double and just charge me appropriately? Yeah, no, that can’t happen. Although it took, like, 10 minutes for her to find out. And then there was a debacle about cancelling the order for the Mojito  (when really I thought hadn’t actually ordered that drink, I’d asked if it could be made in a bigger glass?) – so Ted just said to leave the drink and charge it to his bill, he would take it. Which still caused confusion about how she was going to change it around to add to his bill.

Really? Is this day one?

Ted, after she left: I don’t even want that drink, I just figured it was easier to keep it somewhere on one of our bills.

We agreed that we would just put it in the center of the table as a “gimme” for whoever finished the next round of drinks first and needed refreshment. Kind of like a twisted form of alcoholic Russian Roulette.

Meanwhile, this exchange occurs:
Server, to Shane, for the third time: What was it you ordered to drink, sweetie?

I had to respond “Long Island” for him for fear that his head would explode if he opened his mouth.

I switched to a Fat Tire beer, because, well, it was just easier. And as I suspected, it arrived to the table long before Shane’s Long Island – which he had ordered long before I did.

Ironically, that drink-that-no-one-wanted-but-Ted-still-kept-on-his-bill-to-help-the-server-not-fall-apart also still came out a full 10 minutes before the Long Island Shane tried ordering three times. Hmm.

Obviously, we have some issues to work out here, ya think?

Anyway.

On to the best part of our visit – our actual meals. Once they actually arrived, that is.

Ted’s jumbalaya was very good. It was served over bowtie pasta instead of rice, which he said was a nice change actually. The peppers in it gave it really good heat. He also liked that it had lots of different meats in it – chicken, shrimp, and sausage. And we all know how the guys in this group revert to caveman status when faced with meat on a plate.

Odd man out. And there's that pasta we were looking for earlier.

Odd man out. And there’s that pasta we were looking for earlier.

Amanda raved about the seasoning on the burgers, saying that alone put the burger in her “top five.” Ted tried a bit of it and immediately said it was Cajun seasoning. Amanda said she didn’t care what it was, it was good. So there.

You can't see the seasoning here, but trust us it's good

You can’t see the seasoning here, but trust us it’s good

Although can we just take a minute to ponder that it’s kind of strange to be raving about what’s ON the burgers instead of what’s IN them … when the restaurant specialty is stuffed burgers? No? Well, whatevs.

I agreed, though, the seasoning was good. And actually much better than the stuffing, at least in my case. I took the burger off of the bun after eating half of it – as I often do, it’s a thing, get over it – and the bunless half kind of dried up and lost it’s stuffing. Huh. I mean, it might’ve just been the particular kind of burger that I chose – fresh mozzerella and spinach don’t exactly like to stay put when not melted, I guess. But anyway.

This looks healthier than it really is

This looks healthier than it really is

Along that same lines, I was somewhat intrigued by the burger with mac and cheese in the middle. If that has the same issues, there’s something wrong.

Remember that app we ordered – the mason fries? Yeah, well, the kitchen eventually did, too – so we got it pretty much at the same time as our meals. We weren’t really impressed, though. I mean, it seemed like just regular fries with a bit of bacon and scallops on them. And a tiny drizzle of cheese. Underwhelming.

Kind of like regular fries, but different

Kind of like regular fries, but different

Hey, guess what? Shane’s drink finally arrived! Yay!

Shane didn’t say much about his burger, other than that it was good. He was too upset about the service to really talk much at that point. Or maybe his mouth was just too dry from going so long without a drink.

Hope those fries aren't too salty, what with the lack of beverages and all

Hope those fries aren’t too salty, what with the lack of beverages and all

Ted, after Shane finished his Long Island and was slurping the watery bits at the bottom for some regreshment: Did you want another?
Shane: No, I’d like to get home before midnight.

So all in all – and as if you couldn’t already tell – our main gripe about the place was the service, which was even more underwhelming than the mason fries.  The food definitely is good, and the place has strong potential – if they would just have more than one server and one bartender/extremely chatty server working.  I mean, come on, let’s be honest here … you’ve read about our shenanigans long enough now to know that we’re drinkers. We would’ve spent way more money here if we would’ve gotten drinks in a timely fashion. How often do we go somewhere and only have one or two rounds of drinks? Exactly. I think we could’ve driven ourselves down to the nearest corner store (hint, there’s not one anywhere remotely close by) and come back with a 12-pack in less time than it took to have one round of our two specialty drinks delivered to the table. I have to believe at the end of every night there are still like four drinks just hanging out at the end of the bar that were made but never quite made it to their rightful owners. Maybe Shane can go back next week and pick up that final Long Island, drive-thru style. That might be the only thing that could redeem this place for him.

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane, not one for mincing emotions

Shane, not one for mincing emotions

Ted

Ted

Same rating, different hand. Just testing.

Same rating, different hand. Just testing.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  When you finally get them, they’re good. But don’t come thirsty, because the bar is apparently located about a two mile walk away for the amount of time it took to get each drink. And then when you do get your drink, enjoy it slowly. Or order five at once. Your call.
Food:
Very good. In fact, the only good thing we took away from this place. But again, don’t come hungry, because nothing is arriving at your table quickly.
Service: If you like repeating your drink order several times and practically chasing down servers to put in appetizer orders then this is the place for you. If you like good service, then best to look elsewhere.
Overall: Yeah, sorry, the service lost this one for us. Can we just show up and make our own food and drinks with the stuff provided? That may be the best way to win us back.

Next Pick: Steph
Mason Jar Grill & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/16/15: Lemongrass Grill Thai Restaurant and Bar, Monroe Falls

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Here goes Ted, trying to make us more ethnic again.

Apparently this place used to be a cupcake place. Ted came in one day trying to buy cupcakes a few months back, and was immediately disappointed because clearly there were no cupcakes anymore. But then he was happy because he realized they had food and a bar and so it could become a WTGW pick. We’re a simple group to please.

Speaking of the bar – it’s kind of the first thing you see when you walk into Lemongrass. It’s where Amanda and Jerrid were waiting for us when we first walked in. And where Ted got handed a beer from the owner (I think? Or maybe just some random guy from the back room? We don’t ask or judge) just for stopping and looking at the beer list on the wall on his way to the table. So score for him, I guess.

And while we’re on the subject – because, well, let’s be honest, how many of these reviews actually don’t start out talking about alcohol, right? – be warned that the drinks at Lemongrass are poured rather generously. And that the server could likely be your bartender, as we experienced. Shane and I both went for the “girly drink” section of the menu, but what we were treated with was something more suited to sailors. The menu is basically like 15 variations on a Long Island, but with prettier names. They should all just be called “a mix of 10 liquors” and you just point to the one that sounds least offensive to your tastes. I mean, the server actually told us that someone passed out in the bathroom after drinking one of the kind of drink that Shane ordered (the Scorpion). I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of or something that maybe should make you send your bartender off for some additional training.

It looks so innocent

It looks so innocent

Amanda smartly stuck to a rum and coke – or, more appropriately, rum with a bit of coke flavor. Jerrid had something called the Man-Hat-San (bourbon and some sort of cherry drink). Ted stuck to a myriad of beers whose names I can’t even begin to recall, but I know one of them had the work “sucks” in it. That’s a different marketing tactic.

As usual, we filled the table with appetizers – because, well, us. Shane and I got the Thai spring rolls and crab rangoon. Ted got the meat skewers – reminiscent of the time he ordered meat lollipops from The Merchant, but different. Amanda and Jerrid got the Lemongrass Bundle – which is basically the fancy Thai way of saying “sampler platter.” It included meat skewers, shrimp, crab rangoon, and something that they thought (and then later asked the server and it was confirmed) had a peanut butter sauce on it. That’s, well, weird. Even by our tastes.

Peanut butter does not belong on chicken. Just saying.

Peanut butter does not belong on chicken. Just saying.

There were two when this plate arrived. Someone got grabby.

There were two when this plate arrived. Someone got grabby.

Oh wait, there's the other egg roll. In front of Shane. Weird.

Oh wait, there’s the other egg roll. In front of Shane. Weird.

As you can probably already anticipate, the meat skewers were a big hit. The guys all agreed those were very tasty.

There’s a joke in there somewhere. I’ll let you all find it.

Everyone loved the meat. Hee hee

Everyone loved the meat. Hee hee

The crab rangoon was good, but the cheese sauce inside was different from any other time I’ve had that particular food anywhere else. It was almost a sweeter, creamier version. I mean, I’m not kicking these ones to the curb or anything, but they were definitely different.

Jerrid got the Pad See Ew with shrimp. Which judging from the picture on the website is kind of like Moo Goo Gai Pan at a Chinese place. And honestly, isn’t it all really just some combination of rice, meat and veggies? Exactly. Regardless, he didn’t seem to complain. He ate all of it, so if it sucked that’s a new way of dealing with it, I guess.

That plate would kill Shane

That plate would kill Shane

Ted got the monsoon chicken with jasmine rice. Yummy noises and clean plate award on this side of the table, too.

That rice didn't come with the big chunk taken out of the top of it, honest.

That rice didn’t come with the big chunk taken out of the top of it, honest.

I got the Drunken stir fry with chicken and brown rice. Now, we all know the little chili pepper icon next to any dish on the menu means “watch out, it’s spicy.” Well this entree had two, which I took to mean “beware, this is stuff only crazy people eat.” Not really. In fact, I’m glad the waitress brought out the additional plastic cup of “hot oil” that she said we could add to make the dishes spicier.

Drunken = spicy. There's a joke in there somewhere.

Drunken = spicy. There’s a joke in there somewhere.

Although, fair warning – that hot oil stuff should have like 100 chili pepper icons next to it. Because, damn. Let’s just say a little bit goes a long way. And when I say little I mean like microscopic. And it sneaks up on you. Ask Amanda, who drizzled a tiny bit on her meal and claimed it wasn’t bad … until a few minutes later when it finally kicked in and nearly took her breath away. I’m somewhat surprised trying to douse it with the amount of alcohol in our drinks didn’t just set the entire table on fire.

So there’s that.

Amanda got the Pad Thai. She was looking at a few other options but decided to play it safe. And she was not disappointed. We should also note that both she and I took half of our meals home. As with most Asian restaurants, they serve very large portions here. Clearly, they don’t mess around.

No peanut allergies here

No peanut allergies in this group

Shane had the pineapple chicken fried rice, along with the meat skewers. Yes, that was his third appetizer order of the evening.He joked about just ordering his entire meal directly from the appetizer menu – which, honestly, if some of them hadn’t included shrimp he very well may have done.

Vegetables, fruit and protein. That's a well balanced meal.

Vegetables, fruit and protein. That’s a well balanced meal.

So, back to alcohol – because, really, doesn’t it always come back to that with this group? – when I went to order my second drink I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Because, well, I wasn’t sure what the lesser was of all the liver killers I was facing on the drink menu. Sensing my conflict, the server asked if I wanted her to surprise me. Because that’s never dangerous, especially in a place that already seems to just throw an entire bottle of liquor in a glass and call it a drink, right? She asked if I liked cherry, I haltingly said yes …. and I’m happy to report that the drink I got was definitely that. Although what exactly gave it that flavor remains to be determined. I’m not sure if it was stronger than my first drink or not, but when I asked what was in it, she would only say it was “like five different vodkas … and then some other stuff.” Like what, roofies? That’s a dangerous game to play with the customers, lady. I almost felt like her goal was to get everyone smashed before they left. Again, playing with fire, no? Do we like calling cabs and cleaning out restroom stalls for our guests? I’m not sure I understand what the end goal is here.

All in all a good place, and it was definitely nice to change things up a bit by getting away from the burgers and fries places we’ve been visiting lately and branch out to something different. Although I think all of our livers might disagree.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  Don’t be fooled by the paper umbrellas and fruit on skewers. These boat drinks will sink your battleship if you try to drink them too fast. 
Food:
As with most Asian places, beware of huge portions. And misrepresented chili pepper icons. But it was definitely all tasty.
Service: It was a little cumbersome having the server also mix our drinks – and when the meals came out it was one at a time, not a big tray with everyone’s orders. But she was attentive and pleasant. Or maybe she was just in a running bet with the guys in the back as to which of us would fall over first from the strong drinks.
Overall: There’s not really a ton of Thai places in the area, so I don’t have much to compare this one to – but we would likely go back if we were in the mood for that type of food again.

Next Pick: Shane

WTGW 12/2/15: Rush Hour Grille, Twinsburg

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Thank you, Google Maps, for alerting us that this week’s pick sits pretty much directly across a plaza entrance from another recent WTGW Twinsburg pick, Sassy’s. Although thankfully this place is not just a different shade of neon on the inside. So at least that’s not an ongoing theme in this area.

Although I will admit that – while I don’t advocate neon – Rush Hour Grille could use a bit of some kind of an update on the interior. The inside kind of looks like someone just took an empty warehouse space or garage, stuck a bar in the center and then scattered some tables around the perimeter. Because, why not? Especially considering the neighboring spaces include a public safety firearms space, daycare center and Jehovah’s witness church. All of which scream to have a bar within walking distance, no?

Anyway.

As usual – and since, I mean, there’s a bar in the middle of the space, just begging for our attention – we started with drinks. Ted was happy to hear that the “Beer of the Month” was large Christmas Ales for $5.00 … which is either a lucky find or glutton for punishment, depending on how you look at it. Speaking of lucky finds, Amanda and I discovered that they still had Pumpkin Shandy on draft, so score for us. Or not, depending on how long those kegs have actually been sitting around, but whatever. The important part is that for once we found they still had a beer we liked and it didn’t run out after one round. That honor instead belonged to Jerrid this time, who was happily enjoying Oktoberfest until he was told that, alas, there was no more.

Welcome to our group, buddy. It’s like Russian Roulette of beer taps with us.

So after his drink of choice ran out he switched to Jack & cokes – partially because Shane was enjoying rum & diets out of a mason jar, and Jerrid decided he liked that glass. He even asked the server if the drink would, in fact, come served in that same type of glass.

Server: I can put in in whatever cup you want. Coffee cup. Martini glass. Large draft glass. Doesn’t matter to me.
Shane: I like her.

Sidenote: I think that likability was mutual, because after a little issue with food orders later in the evening, the server brought Shave over his next drink and told him it was on the house – even though it was actually my entire order that got messed up, and only part of his. But thanks for that. I mean, even though we said we were together in the check doesn’t technically mean he should get a free drink by proxy. But whatevs.

Anyway, speaking of food, we of course ordered enough to feed a small country and still have leftovers. I seriously think if you look up gluttony in the dictionary there’s a picture of us at one of our WTGW outings.

Ted ordered the mussels – which he knew I would share some of with him – and then six wings, AND the Italian sandwich. The last additon was just because the server said it was one of her favorite things there. And you know we’re about as easily swayed as a flower basket in the wind.

This sandwich was server approved and recommended

This sandwich was server approved and recommended

Not to be outdone, Shane ordered six of the dry dusted ranch boneless wings and a burger with chips. Because, again, boys order two meals at our table I guess. I got 12 of the garlic parm boneless wings, Amanda got the nacho burger and fries, and Jerrid got the catfish po’boy sandwich with onion rings. Upon hearing the discussion about onion rings, Shane and I then had to order them ourselves, because for one they sounded delicious, and also because I felt inadequate that I was the only one at the table to not technically order more than one food item.

Sandwiches and wings. Our staples of life.

Sandwiches and wings. Our staples of life.

As usual, Shane performed his “burger doneness and pinkness level interrogation” on the server before everyone ordered – to which she replied that all burgers are cooked to order. Ok, cool. So then like 30 seconds later Shane places his order, and the server asks him what temperature he wants his burger … Shane’s answer is “what do you mean?” Hmmm. Way to pay attention there, honey.

And then after all that, Amanda’s burger came out pinker than Shane’s, even though he ordered medium rare, and she ordered medium. So I guess there it was the server’s turn to pay attention.

Even more so when she ended up mixing up mine and Shane’s wing orders, so he got 12 of the ranch wings (he only ordered six) and I only got six of the garlic parm (I ordered 12). When we finally flagged down the server and pointed that out, she took away both of our wing orders and said she would bring out fresh. Interesting. Wouldn’t you just leave what was there, and just bring out six more of mine? What happened to that extra six of Shane’s? And why did you have to make new, when really there were just some missing – the actual flavors were right? I’ve never seen that happen before.

Shane's original 12

Shane’s original 12

Thank god for the onion rings, or else I’d had nothing to at least pick at while everyone else nearly finished their dinners.

And then – because apparently it just wasn’t my night all around – I ended up really regretting those first six wings disappeared, because at least I would’ve had something decent to call my meal. The replacement wings she brought out for me were all garlic, no parm. And by all garlic, I think they were dipped in garlic juice, breaded in garlic bread crumbs, fried in garlic oil and then showered with whole cloves of garlic. Not only could I smell the garlic as soon as the wings hit the table, what I thought might be parmesan on the wings turned out to actually be cloves of garlic. Overkill much? If there were any vampires within 100 miles of this place I think they all perished as soon as those wings came out of the fryer.

I even tried picking the breading off half of them just to make them edible – since I think my taste buds were completely dead by that point and I was still really hungry – but even that couldn’t mask the taste. *sigh*

It's never a good sign when you can see the garlic as much as you can smell it

It’s never a good sign when you can see the garlic as much as you can smell it

Meanwhile, Shane’s new wings were perfect. As was his free drink. And his burger. But that’s cool.

And you know, honestly, I really liked our server at first – she has charisma, sarcasm, character – you know, all the qualities I usually praise in someone who can put up with our somewhat crazy group. But right about the point that she basically threw me to the curb in favor of Shane, I kind of changed my tune.

But other than that, though, everything else about the place and our meals was good. The mussels were really tasty. And while I thought the onion rings were a bit too crispy and not doughy enough for my liking, everyone else really liked them. Even though Shane’s burger wasn’t cooked exactly to his liking, he rated it very high on his list of good burgers. Amanda could barely finish her burger because she was so stuffed – but she tried since it was so good. The fries didn’t get the same love, just because there was no room left at the inn.

Hope those fries reheat well

Hope those fries reheat well

Rush Hour Grille, Twinsburg

Once again on our scale of how much we like a place, if we end up sticking around for drinks after the actual meals are boxed up and taken away, it has to be at least somewhat OK in our book. So, Shane returns from the restrooms and notices the sign in the lobby that Salted Caramel Mocha Martinis are on special … so of course we had to finish out the evening with those. Because, well, us. Shane said the bartender looked scared when he went up and ordered them, like she had no idea how to make them. And it did take her a hot minute to get five of them done … but upon tasting them she apparently figured out that at least one ingredient in them is, well, any and all liquors available behind the bar, because they were strong as could be.

Well at least it looks pretty

Well at least it looks pretty

Shane: Wow, I guess I should’ve tipped her more.

Maybe it was the final round of martinis, or the lingering smell of garlic from my wings making everyone a bit delirious, but somehow we ended up in a spirited debate about something called the Rice & Beans Gang that Shane swore was real. Like a real, actual gang that you should be scared of. Like one that could rival the Bloods or Crips. Um? Seriously? Even Google and Siri thought we were insane when we tried to validate that one. But this is what we call entertainment when we start drinking, folks.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Although we realized after we got home that this was the first time in about the last 8,000 outings that we didn’t manage to tease Ted about his infamous pick, Gus’ Chalet. And just like that, the streak is broken. It definitely must’ve been the martinis. Or maybe the Rice & Beans Gang secretly infiltrated the bar and drugged us. Whatever.

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  For once us girls found a beer we liked and it didn’t run out after one round, so score for us. Jerrid was not so lucky. Welcome to our group, buddy. 
Food:
I think I was the only one to not really care for my food – and that’s only because I don’t moonlight as a vampire killer, so really the over-abundance of garlic was a bit unnecessary.
Service: If your name was Shane, it was awesome. For the rest of us at the table, it was just OK.
Overall: Eh. I would pick this place over the counterpart on the other side of the plaza (Sassy’s), but that’s not saying it’s really worth our trek back to Twinsburg. Unless of course we’re being chased by vampires, in which case this is exactly where I’m headed.

Next Pick: Ted

WTGW 11/11/15: Kevin O’Bryan’s, Akron

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So in contrast to last week, when it was the smaller than normal group of three (just me, Shane and Ted) … this week we had a larger than normal group of seven, with a few special guests and friends who wanted to join us to check out this particular spot. Apparently we’ve latched onto the Goldilocks and the Three Bears scale of dining groups. Maybe next week we’ll hit “just right?”

Kevin O’Bryan’s is a place that’s been on my radar for a little while now, but for some reason I just never pulled the trigger on actually picking it. Maybe because when you zoom out on the google map, the area of town is just a tad bit on the side of shady. I mean, not that that’s necessarily stopped us from visiting places in the past (Papa Don‘s, anyone?) … but let’s just say that as we approached the place – which turned out to be a non-descript block building with few windows across from a Family Dollar which we realized later had one of the world’s last working pay phones out front – I was only slightly nervous about what we were getting ourselves into.

Although everyone else tried to make me feel better by pointing out that there was another pub on the opposite corner of the street that seemed to be almost a carbon copy (from the outside anyway), so we could probably just hop back and forth if my place sucked. Thanks, guys.

But I’m happy to report that we had absolutely nothing to be worried about. This place is definitely a hidden gem. And we already can’t wait to go back.

Our server in particular was outstanding. You have to love someone who basically just lets you walk in and start pushing the tables around to however you want in order to accommodate your big group. I mean, there weren’t a ton of other people in the bar, and I’ll admit we can be kind of pushy as a group in general sometimes … but still. It was nice of him to not approach us with a “WTF do you think you’re doing there, new people I’ve never seen before in my life?” attitude.

He also took note of Shane’s Cleveland hoodie and commented that he could use Shane’s help to basically push out another group of not-Cleveland fans that were planning to watch the game there this coming weekend.  In his words “so, they’re Steelers fans, and I mean, I can’t kick them out all together … because, let’s face it, I still want their money … but I just don’t want them to have this great of a table. I’d rather you guys – Cleveland fans – had it.”

Ah, rivalry.

The beer list on the table was outdated, although the server mentioned that the new one was on his computer at home. Because that helps us not at all – unless we’re road tripping to go pick it up – but whatever. I noticed the tap for McKensie’s Cider at the bar and asked if they had the seasonal reserve – which they did – so I went with that, as did Amanda.

Although in true us fashion, that lasted two rounds and then we ran out the keg. It’s like they see us coming.

The server brought over another cider to try after that – I think maybe it was also from McKenzie’s(?), and I know he specifically said it was something with chamomile in it (he said he had to write the name down before he brought me the sample – “I’m usually good remembering this stuff but even I had to write it down, the name is jacked.”) So of course I liked it, but now have no idea now what the name of it actually was. Except the chamomile part. And that just makes me confused, like is it tea or is it cider? I mean, really. It wasn’t awful – to be honest, it tasted kind of like the seasonal reserve, minus the cinnamon and nutmeg. But note to companies – how about we stop trying to have 50 flavors that are all just OK and instead focus on making five or six that are really, amazingly good? Just a thought.

Speaking of really, amazingly good alcoholic beverages, Jerrid started the night drinking what is probably the exact opposite of that … Bud Light. Well, at least, anyway, until he mentioned wanting to do shots and the server recommended the “PB&J” – which is basically just a shot of Jameson (“J”) served along side a tall boy can of PBR (“PB”). For $6.50.

Shane: So really that’s a $6 shot and a $.50 can of beer then?

Note to anyone going out with our group: sometimes it’s easier to just not admit you’re a fan of certain beers, lest you be ridiculed until your dying day about them.

So since Kevin O’Bryan’s is known for it’s burgers (their website touts “Best Burgers in Akron!”), that’s what most of the table ended up getting. Although honestly, we had to admit the breadth and variety of the menu was a bit surprising to us. For a place that looks like a little dive bar on the outside, they really offer some interesting foods – not just your typical wings, frozen burger patties and random chicken sandwich selections. I mean, how many other bars serve fried green tomatoes as an app? (keeping in mind we’re in Ohio here, not anywhere near the southern U.S.)  Or buffalo calamari? Or a burger with pimento cheese and remoulade? Exactly.

But in any case, back to the burgers. So when I asked about the whole “Best in Akron” label on the website, the server told me that that was, in fact, the case – in his words, the only place that might compare to them is Swenson’s. Which I admittedly have heard of and driven past several times, but have never actually tried.

Server: You’ve never been to Swenson’s? Do you not live around here?
Me: No, we live in Cuyahoga Falls.
Server: Then how is it possible you’ve never been to Swenson’s? They’re, like, famous around here. You found us but you haven’t been there?
Me: But Swenson’s doesn’t serve alcohol.
Server: Point taken. Yeah, we’re definitely better than them then.

I like him.

Shane meanwhile took that opportunity to stir up the great “Burger Wellness Scale Interrogation” that we seem to go through at, well, every place we even think about ordering burgers. I’m beginning to think he should just create and carry some sort of a photographic reference that he can point each server to when describing to the level of pinkness he would like his burger to contain. Because in over two years, we still have yet to reach a universal similarity to the words “rare,” “medium rare,” and “somewhat rare.”

The struggle is real, y’all.

Amanda and I kept up our twinning routine and ordered the exact same entrees – the blue cheese burger with an added topping of sauteed mushrooms, and tater tots on the side. And we were not disappointed.

Can I have some of your tots?

Can I have some of your tots?

Not to be outdone, Shane and Lou also went the twinsies route and got the Livie Burger (the one with the pimento cheese referenced above) and fried green tomatoes as a side. They were also very satisfied with their choices.

Shane also got an order of wings – because, well, Shane. He chose the Irish Dew sauce, which is a house specialty. I only somewhat overheard the conversation about what it was made of (I clearly skipped the class toward my journalism degree called “paying attention when people talk”) but I do know it involved boiling down Tullamore Dew whisky as a base, and then mixing it with spices. In any case, Shane thought it was excellent.

Burgers and wings. The WTGW staples.

Burgers and wings. The WTGW staples.

Ted also got wings – because, again, that’s how the boys of WTGW roll – but he went with the hot garlic. Which he said kind of missed the mark on the whole “hot” part. He also got the Wednesday Special, a strip steak with potatoes and fried green beans.

That looks like a real meal.

That looks like a real meal.

The steak comes with a hot pepper on top of it … and you know of course Ted ate it. He didn’t regret it quite as much as the time he ate the pepper out of Shane’s drink at Tim Owen’s Traveler’s Tavern a few weeks ago … but it was definitely close. You know, like when you eat all the cookies you were supposed to take to your company holiday party, so now you don’t have anything to take with you and your stomach is really upset with you … but the cookies were super delicious, so it was actually kind of worth it. That level of regret.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

He later asked the server what kind of pepper it was, and was told it was just a fried banana pepper. Which apparently had been farmed on the surface of the sun, according to Ted’s reaction. When Ted told the server that the pepper was hotter than his entire batch of hot garlic wings, the server’s reaction was “well, I guess that means we need to step those wings up a notch then, thanks for letting me know.”

That’s what we’re here for, folks. Saving the world from bad and/or wrongly labeled foods, one entree at a time.

Jerrid ordered a burger with tater tots, and the full appetizer order of the fried green tomatoes instead of just the side. He kept trying to get everyone at the table to try the fried green tomatoes – and in particular the sauce they came with. There’s only so many times you can hear “you need to get more of the sauce” before your mind just naturally goes to a dark place.

Again, don’t pretend you don’t get it.

Fried green tomatoes. Fancy.

Fried green tomatoes. Fancy.

Shanda, meanwhile, had a salad as big as my head. Does that still mean it’s healthy? And is that even allowed at our table of fried sin and burger deliciousness? The jury is still out.

Is that healthy food? Who allowed this order?

Is that healthy food? Who allowed this order?

So the overall opinion here was that everything was delicious – I don’t think there was anything we weren’t happy with, except maybe the fact that they ran out of our cider after about 30 minutes … but, hey, we’re used to that, no harm done there. Our server kept up well with what we admittedly realize can be a loud, demanding and over zealous group (especially once Jerrid and Ted decided it was o’shot-thirty … because that always ends well) … and did so with a sense of humor, more patience than I probably would be able to muster and a smile the entire time. We all admitted we were a bit nervous about the location and the exterior of the place, but the staff and the food are well worth getting past all of that. Plus that Family Dollar I mentioned was visible just outside the front window behind us – and who knew a pay phone could be so popular? – so we were afforded constant entertainment all evening. We’ll definitely be back. I mean, Shane even gave it his “dive bar stamp of approval” … which if nothing else just made me super glad I picked it before he had a chance to.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda and Shanda

Amanda and Shanda

Ted and Jerrid. And shots. Obviously.

Ted and Jerrid. And shots. Obviously.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  When the list is updated, it’s pretty impressive. But judging from the outdated list, what they had over the summer looked delicious too. Quite a few crafts on draft, and bottles ranging from craft to PBR. What’s not to love.
Food:
Delicious. They aren’t kidding about it being the best burgers in town. They are definitely cooked to order. Shane didn’t even have to reference his power point presentation.
Service: Awesome. Again, we know we can be a demanding bunch (and there were more of us than usual this time) but we were definitely always well taken care of.
Overall: We’ll be back, whether to kick out rival fans for a Browns game or to maybe check out the Thursday night karaoke scene. Shane Newton needs new audiences …

Next Pick: Amanda
Kevin O'Bryan's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato