WTGW 12/10/14: Scoreboards, Northfield

Or, as the sign outside more appropriately read “SCORE OR S”. Which just happens to be near a “ESTONE” tire place. Apparently Northfield has some sort of a light bulb shortage in effect. Happy holidays?

Scoreboards is located in a strip plaza – where, if we were to return during normal business hours, we could also get a tattoo, work out at an off-name-brand gym, buy a used bedroom set, get our license renewed and score some sweet deals on secondhand clothing. Adventures abound, for sure.

There could probably be even more interesting shops in the plaza (seriously, I think all we’re missing is a liquor store and semi-shady looking massage parlor for the win) if not for the fact that Scoreboards takes up what must be three or four storefronts all in itself. For real, the place is huge inside. One side was all pool tables (and a ping pong table, just for good measure I guess) and some high tops, the other was giant space of bar and tables. I think there might’ve been a patio as well, but we didn’t venture that far into the vortex.

(Side note: it was also extremely bright on the inside for a bar – at least until about 8:35, when apparently the “mood lighting” kicked in. I’ll take the Miller Lite special with a side of ambiance please.)

The place was fairly busy, and it seemed a lot of the tables were regulars from nearby offices. Or groups of people who just really like to wear name tags in public places. Whatevs. Wednesday is also wing night, with 12 traditional or 10 boneless wings for $5 – which seemed to be the dinner of choice for most of the tables.

Scoreboards is one of those walk in and seat yourself places – or, as if you’re like us, it goes more like walk in, look around, look at one another, try to look inconspicuous, ask quietly amongst the group if we just sit down or wait, start walking toward a table, look around to see if anyone stops you,  sit down and then wonder if the waitress really did see you come in. Because putting up a sign is definitely too much hassle? Exactly.

Anyway, after all that it definitely took a hot minute for the waitress to greet us – but once she came over she was bubbly and nice, and when we said it was our first time there she quickly pointed out the specials and the drink list. She also scored major bonus points with us when she returned to take our food order, and was able to commit all of it – complete with insane last minute audibles and questions – to memory. And it actually all came out as we intended. For reals. Meanwhile I’m over here forgetting the name of the intern we’ve had at work for six months now, or how my husband of four years takes his coffee.  Awesome.

So for our meals, Amanda went with the Jack’s Philly Burger. Which by description is supposed to be like a mushroom and swiss burger, but with pepper jack cheese replacing the swiss. Except that Amanda didn’t really think they did that. She said it was a little bland. Which you don’t expect from pepper jack, so I have to believe she was right.

Once again we're trusted with large knives

Once again we’re trusted with large knives

I had the Buffalo Chicken Wrap. It wasn’t bad. It had just enough kick to make it tasty, but not too much that it left your mouth on fire. Which I’m thinking is kind of the point. Maybe if they’d put whatever sauce they used on my wrap onto Amanda’s burger we’d be on to something here.

That's cheese sauce, not mustard. Please.

That’s cheese sauce, not mustard. Please.

The boys had a lengthy discussion about what types of sharing and trade deals they could work out in order to get the most for their money (and grumbling stomachs). Because, well, boys. They ended up with two small pizzas (one veggie and one meat lovers – talk about opposite ends of the spectrum) and one and a half wing specials (12 spicy garlic and 6 Cajun BBQ) between the two of them. And a basket of mini egg rolls, which technically were meant as a appetizer but showed up with the meal instead. OK, so technically the waitress did get something wrong. Suddenly I feel a little better about my own memory. Maybe.

Probably the one thing we all agreed we liked

Probably the one thing we all agreed we liked

Unfortunately the guys pretty much struck out all around. The pizza was just plain not good. It was definitely frozen “bar pizza,” and the consensus was that we could’ve brought our own DiGiorno’s and been happier. Ted said his wings were cold, like they were the first things done and then sat under a lamp waiting for the pizza to finish up before it all came out together. Or maybe they were waiting on the appetizer egg rolls? That would be ironic. And Shane was not a fan of the sauce for his Spicy Garlic wings. At all. In fact, he even left four of them on the plate – and declined the take home box. *gasp*

The boy's side of the table

The boy’s side of the table

We're men. We like food. Grr.

We’re men. We like food. Grr.

By far the best thing about the place was the drink specials. Happy hour is until 9, and featured $2.25 large domestic drafts. Amanda and I took advantage of that and went with Miller Lites. Ted went with Christmas Ale – much to the waitress’s delight, who told him “I somehow knew you would pick that. You look like a Christmas Ale kind of guy.” I’m not sure what that means exactly, but none of us could really argue, since he does order that a lot. Shane started with a Coors Light and then switched to the Angry Orchard with the shot of fireball for his second (and final) round. He’s living dangerously for a Wednesday night.

Overall Scoreboards is probably not a place we’ll end up back at. I was the only one who didn’t really find fault with my meal, which is why I differed from the rest of the group and gave a “thumbs middle” to the rest of their “thumbs downs.” The atmosphere was no different from 27 other bar and grills we’ve been to over the years, and there really wasn’t anything impressive enough for us to put it on the must-return list. Sorry “SCORE OR S” – I don’t see us contributing to your light bulb fund again in the near future.

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda

Amanda

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks:  Mostly domestics, nothing fancy (other than Christmas Ale, which is more common than fancy in NEO this time of year anyway). Decent drink specials.
Food:
Mine was decent, but nothing worth seeking out again. The rest of the group would probably choose a lovely evening at the local McDonald’s before a return visit.
Service: A little slow when we first arrived, but overall personable and good. And props for remembering our incredibly convoluted order without writing it down.
Overall: Three thumbs down and one “eh.”

Next Pick: Steph

Scoreboards Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

WTGW 12/3/14: Moe’s, Cuyahoga Falls

It seems we’ve started a trend here of hitting all the “named” restaurants in the Akron area. First there was Frank’s. Then Larry’s. And now Moe’s. Can someone please open a Curly’s in the next few weeks? For reals.

So, I’m not exactly sure how or why, in the past 17 months of WTGW, we’ve somehow continuously overlooked Moe’s. We may have been under the impression it was too expensive. And honestly, at first glance of the menu, the dinners are a bit on the pricey side. But the sandwiches and salads are definitely reasonable, and no different really from what we’ve paid at other bars/taverns around town.

And it turns out Moe’s is well worth every penny.

Being that this was Ted’s pick, he took the liberty of making a reservation. Which kind of scared us a little, since the last time he made a reservation for a WTGW pick it turned out to be disastrous (*ahem* Gus’s Chalet *ahem*). Turns out reservations are highly recommended at Moe’s, as even on a Wednesday night the place was packed. Particularly on the bar side where we wanted to sit.

That being said, it took a minute for the waiter to come over to greet us. But we quickly forgave him when he very kindly and humorously explained that he had just had about 15 people sit in his section at nearly the exact same time, and he was sorry for not getting to us sooner. We explained that we didn’t even have our drink orders situated yet, and he seemed grateful for the chance to come back.

We liked him immediately. More on that later.

The drink menu was pretty decent, especially if you like seasonal craft beers and local varieties. And wine or martinis, but we didn’t go down that rabbit hole this evening. Amanda chose Blue Moon, I went with Breckenridge Agave Wheat, and Ted started out with Breckenridge Vanilla Porter and then went to a Christmas Ale by the last round. Not to be outdone by any of us, Shane went with … Miller Lite. He’s a man of routine, what can I say.

When the drinks came up, our server apologized profusely for not having any chilled glasses for them, as apparently they were all in use at the time. Please. We’re not picky, we can drink from bottles. He did get huge props for scrounging one up for Ted’s Christmas Ale in our last round, though.

Classy beer

Classy beer

We opted out of ordering appetizers for the table, although the boys went ahead with starter plates for themselves. Shane strangely and for no good reason reverted back to his “moderately healthy” self and started himself off with the half wedge salad. Which was plenty enough for a first course, and he seemed to like it. Ted, meanwhile, went straight for what Amanda or I would’ve considered … well … our actual meal, and ordered the pretzel bun burger sliders. He was impressed. The onion straws (which looked like plain onions from my vantage point, but turns out they were very lightly breaded) were a bit overwhelming, but lucky for him they were easy to remove.

Ted's mini-meal appetizer

Ted’s mini-meal appetizer

See also: how to make a salad unhealthy

See also: how to make a salad unhealthy

Our server brought a basket of bread to the table while we waited for our entrees, and we promptly devoured it. Because, well, we do love our carbs. And also because it came with delicious butter, which our server explained to us was made fresh daily (along with several other condiments and sides). He apparently created that particular butter blend himself, and included lots of garlic and parmesan. Did I mention it delicious? If this guy ever decides he wants to leave Moe’s he should take that recipe with him and start a butter making business on the side.

(Sidenote: he was also kind enough to tell us that “since this looks like date night, there are mints in the foyer on your way out.” And then was even kinder to be genuinely embarrassed when Amanda told him that she and Ted actually weren’t a couple. Whoops.)

Meals were steak Caesar wraps on one side of the table (Ted and Amanda) and Italian subs on the other (me and Shane). All of which was delicious. The steak was what Amanda called “some of the best she’s ever had.” The Italian subs were generously portioned but not overwhelming for a meal.

The view from the wrap side of the table

The view from the wrap side of the table

We all got the fresh made chips as sides for our sandwiches, and when I asked for a special side of the parmesan peppercorn dipping sauce that comes with the chips when ordered as an appetizer, our server said that he would just bring a large dish of it for all of us to share. Let me tell you, that dip in and of itself is reason enough for a return visit to Moe’s. I think we were all secretly reverse rationing our chips so as to make sure we weren’t the ones to end up on the empty side of the dip dish.

Not that the chips alone were a bad thing. To quote Shane: “They’re like potato flavored M&Ms – they melt in my mouth.” Put that on your menu, Moe’s. I mean, really. And is there any way we can somehow match these chips up with the “meat flavored cotton candy” that was Teschner’s steak on a stick from a few weeks ago? (Thank you to Ted for that little gem also. We’re here all week people. *drops mic*)

Another takeaway from Shane’s review, this time on he pickle that accompanied the sandwiches: “It’s an unusually tender pickle.” He’s on fire tonight, folks. (But don’t repeat that little gem out of context.)

Unusually tender pickles. If I ever have a band that will so be the name of it.

Unusually tender pickles. If I ever have a band that will so be the name of it.

We were too full to order desserts at the end of the meal, but we appreciated the server coming over to tell us about them, and for doing so with such enthusiasm that I think we all felt genuinely disappointed that we couldn’t order anything. He started out the pitch with “I’m a no pressure sales guy, but let me just tell you what we have.” And seriously, I don’t even like bread pudding, but by the end of the list I was ready to order the cherry kind that they were featuring.

(We joked that he probably sells cars at the lot outside Moe’s on his lunch break, that’s how good of a “no pressure” sales guy he is. Seriously, between that and the butter thing, if he ever leaves this place he’s certainly got some lines on useful skills for outstanding job prospects.)

Speaking of our server, if we have one regret from the evening, it’s that we didn’t get him name so that we could give him a shout out here. I thought maybe Jim? Amanda said it definitely wasn’t Michael. Matthew maybe? Our recepit just says “server #11.” Clearly we need to learn to pay better attention. Rats.

In any case, he was by far one of the absolute best attributes of our experience at Moe’s. In fact, at one point we had a serious conversation about how we could go about asking him to be our friend outside of this evening, without being the creepy stalker table that’s asked to leave before they finish their last round (“How do you approach someone? Tell them we’re currently accepting applications to be a part of our friend group? Or we’re not trying to pick you up for some weird sex thing, we truly just like you as a friend? See – it’s not like when you’re five years old and meet your BFF just from sharing a box of crayons!”) In all honesty, the guy was knowledgeable without being presumptuous or overbearing, funny without trying too hard, and just all around likable. You can tell he’s not just doing this for extra cash – he truly likes what he does and where he works. Or he’s studying to be an actor on the side, and in which case he’s got a promising future.

(Just like Shane has a promising future in torn bottle label art. But that’s neither here nor there.)

Beer label artwork. Trust me, it's going to catch on

Beer label artwork. Trust me, it’s going to catch on

WILSON!!

WILSON!!

Overall, Moe’s is a real find, and definitely one of our WTGW favorites. We were thoroughly impressed with everything, from the service to the food to the atmosphere in general. For once Ted gets a certifiable “W” with his pick. We’ll definitely be back.

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

Thumbs (or in this case, fingers?) up

Thumbs (or in this case, fingers?) up

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks:  Impressive craft beer, wine and martini list. 
Food:
Moe’s will go down in history as the place that prompted the phrases “potato flavored M&Ms” and “unusually tender pickles.” And those are both good things.
Service: Outstanding. “Server #11″ we will definitely ask for you next time.
Overall: Thumbs up all around.

Next Pick: Shane

Moe's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

WTGW 11/26/14: Larry’s Main Entrance, Akron

I guess it was only inevitable, right? I mean …

I guess if you're reading that, it's true

I guess if you’re reading that, it’s true

Consider that your warning.

Larry’s Main Entrance is located on W. Market St., right next to Ken Stewart’s Grille. Apparently this is the part of town where we just put our names on businesses instead of coming up with some catchy title. I wonder if Larry and Ken know one another? It’s like Sesame Street.

Since the place is basically a storefront on a fairly busy street, we were slightly confused on where to park upon our arrival at Larry’s. But we quickly discovered that if you look kind of lost and smile nicely at Ken’s parking attendant they just might let you park in the lot they apparently borrow from Jiffy Lube (not “Tom’s Liffy Lube”? Someone didn’t get the memo.) across the street. Seriously, I’m not sure where you’re actually supposed to park for Larry’s Main Entrance, but this worked out OK, so I’m not complaining.

Also confusing: the entrance itself.

Larry's Main Entrance

You can see how this is confusing, right?

Define irony.

Anyway.

Larry’s is another on the list of top contenders for tiniest dining establishments. We seriously have to start finding places with more than 10 tables. OK, so this place probably has at least 15, but we were still lucky to grab the very last one big enough for our party of four. Four. Thankfully our WTGW group isn’t bigger than a bobsled team.

For drinks, Amanda and I went with the Miller Lite drafts. Talls. And they came out ice cold, as in with a glacier ice cap on the top. Nice.

It's like it's wearing a hat

It’s like it’s wearing a hat

Ted went with Christmas Ale, and Shane had bottles of Angry Orchard. The beer list isn’t that extensive, although given the size of the place I’m not sure where they’d put it if they had more, so that’s probably a good thing.

Our server, upon hearing this was our first visit, highly recommended the sauerkraut balls for our appetizer. So we ordered that – because, well, we’re gullible. And also the calamari – because, well, Shane loves calamari.

No, those aren't onion rings

No, those aren’t onion rings

Neither was that outstanding. The calamari was freezer to fryer, decent taste but nothing original. Although Shane claimed the marinara was really tasty. The best word we could use to describe the sauerkraut balls was “interesting.” The sauce that accompanied them was a zesty cheesy something-or-other (yes, that is the official name of it – at least at our table), which neither helped nor hurt the flavor.

See? “Interesting.”

Larry’s is known for the burgers, so of course that’s what we ordered (see “gullible” above). Amanda had the mushroom and swiss, Ted and I both went for the Buffalo burger (a regular cheeseburger made with bison meat) and Shane had the bleu cheese. Which had real bleu cheese dressing on it, not crumbled bleu cheese. The server made that clarification when he ordered, which was probably a good thing.

The dressing, not the cheese

The dressing, not the cheese

My burger was fine, nothing special. My biggest gripe was that I specifically ordered it without onion, and got this:

"No" means "no" there onion

“No” means “no” there onion

Ted said his was OK as well. Nothing to write home about.

At least for Ted's sake the cheese didn't follow onion's lead

At least for Ted’s sake the cheese didn’t follow onion’s lead

And the same verdict from Amanda, but here’s a photo of hers just for fun also.

Larry's Main Entrance

Probably the biggest complaint of the evening came from Shane, with regards to the “doneness” of his burger. He’s on a quest to get the perfect “just right pink” burger, and had a lengthy discussion with our server about medium vs medium rare. Scarred by his “nearly eating live cow” experience at The Rail a few months back, he’s abandoned his usual rare order and now typically orders medium. And is quickly realizing that means very different things at every restaurant.  As in, some places that’s closer to well done, and others it’s practially still mooing. At Larry’s he ordered medium, and the server even made a note that he wanted some pink – but when his burger arrived it was still brown all the way through. Disappointing, and most likely greatly influenced his opinion of the place in general.

Overall Larry’s isn’t a horrible place, but there’s really nothing overwhelmingly impressive about it either. With only two small TVs over the bar, it’s not really the place to go if you want to watch sports. Also, there was a weird burning smell coming from the kitchen (or at least that’s where we hoped it was coming from anyway) at various times throughout out meal. Call me crazy, but that isn’t the most pleasant aroma when you’re awaiting your meal. Although maybe that was them chargrilling all the really well done burgers? Who knows. And did I mention it’s kind of tiny?

Plus apparently people – like the ones seated just behind us – like to bring just-barely-learned-to-walk toddlers into the place, and let them roam free while they enjoy their drinks. Because that’s fun and safe in a bar.

We did find one fun thing we liked for sure: chalkboards in the restrooms. There’s an interesting and fun (although not exactly hygienically appealing) party trick. Also the start of many “for a good time call” threats at our table.

What, no phone number?

What, no phone number?

Being the night before Thanksgiving, we had to pretend as if we weren’t a group of late 30-somethings, and go out to join the “biggest party night of the year.” I guess those crowds don’t come out until well past 10PM, because we definitely didn’t see them. Hit up the downtown Akron Barley House, and then the Red Fox, and both were moderately dead. But they did serve yummy shots, so I guess that counts for something, right?

Because shots are always a good idea

Because shots are always a good idea

See also: we may be late for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow

See also: we may be late for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow

Sidenote: we’ve decided to start a new feature on WTGW, and that’s our “Thumbs Up, Down or Middle” rating system photos. Essentially this is more for my benefit, so I can remember exactly how everyone felt about the place when I go to write this blog, but since we’ve got the photos, why not share with everyone, right? So here you go:

"Thumbs Middle"

Amanda

Thumbs Middle

Ted

Thumbs Middle

Shane

Thumbs Middle

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks:  Not a huge draft/bottle selection, but good enough for us. 
Food:
OK. Nothing overwhelmingly special, but definitely not horrible.
Service: Good. Our server seemed kind of excited that we hadn’t been there before, and was helpful.
Overall: “Thumbs middle.” If we lived down the street and this was our neighborhood bar, we would definitely go back. But overall nothing special compared to all the other places we’ve gone to, so we won’t go out of our way to go back.

Next pick: Ted

Larry's Main Entrance on Urbanspoon

 

WTGW 11/19/14: Teschner’s Tavern, Richfield

I know, I know, we’ve been gone for a few weeks. Did you miss us? You can thank my work for an event the first Wednesday, and then one of our dogs for an impromptu visit to the emergency vet the following week. He’s fine, and I think faked his way through that visit just to be an “only dog” and have an evening alone with mom and dad. Because he’s awesome like that.

I can also assure you that no place we will ever visit on a WTGW trip will rival that evening in terms of the bill at the end of the night. And if it does we better be far more hungover the next day.

Anyway, on to this week’s pick …

So I’m kind of hedging in on Shane’s “hole in the wall” category with this one. And he was bummed he missed this place for one of his picks. Well, at least he was before we went, when he thought it might be a diamond in the rough winner for top of the list.

Sorry to ruin the surprise … but yeah, no.

Since Teschner’s falls on the side of town closer to the highway than our house, it was just easier for me to meet the rest of the group there on my way home from work. I pulled into the tiny parking lot next to what I thought was Ted’s car and went inside fairly confident that I was the last to arrive. And then looked stupid when I proclaimed to the bartender that I was meeting people … who weren’t there yet. Oops.

And I definitely wouldn’t have missed them if they were there, because once again I was in a space that rivaled the size of our living room. Apparently between this place and our last adventure (Frank’s) we’re cornering a market on the tiniest dining establishments in the area. Be glad we aren’t claustrophobic.

So once I established that the people seated at any of the six available tables were not my husband and friends, I asked the bartender to go ahead and put us in for a table for four. She then asked me if I was sure I was in the right place. Well, yes, because, well, I could read the sign out front. But clearly I was a) new and b) overdressed in my work clothes. So thanks for that. She also started to tell me about the Long Island and other mixed drinks she could make, and I think was surprised when I chose an uncomplicated bottle of Miller Lite. See also: heels and scarves don’t make a girl high maintenance, thanks.

So I grabbed a bar stool and my Miller Lite and waited for the rest of the group. Meanwhile the bartender snagged the “big table” when that party got up and held it for us. Again, I’m sensing a theme over the last few weeks.

Upon arrival, Shane and Amanda also ordered Miller Lites. Because, well, that’s how we roll. Ted went for the Christmas Ale on round one, and then one of the other two craft beers on draft for round two. Because, well, that’s how Ted rolls. You all should really kind of know this by now.

Mine and Amanda's side of the table. Obviously.

Mine and Amanda’s side of the table. Obviously.

From what I’d seen online, Teschner’s is known for their burgers. And when we saw them coming out of the kitchen we realized why. They looked giant. And delicious. AND they’re $2.00 off on Wednesdays, so score.

So that’s what Shane, Amanda and I all ordered. I had the BLT burger, which doesn’t come with cheese but I added cheddar and was glad I did. It was tasty. I’m not sure what part I actually enjoyed more – the burger or the bacon. I also went with a side of onion rings, which are beer battered and delicious at well. I was not disappointed.

I'm all about the onion rings

I’m all about the onion rings

Amanda, however, had the burger with blue cheese, which she said was a bit overpowering. She also got the fries, because she thought would be fresh cut like fair fries. But when they came out as crinkle cut fries, she realized that was actually how they’re listed on the menu. Oops.

They trust us with large knives

They trust us with large knives

Although in her defense, it’s really, really dark inside Teschner’s. Like if the TV hadn’t been on above us, we might not have been able to see our menus. Because a few candles on the tables, or even some festive-year-round white Christmas lights, would infringe on the “ambiance” too much? Thank God no one tuned the TV to a CSI marathon or we’d really been out of luck.

Shane had the burger with a brandy sauce on it, which he wasn’t crazy about either. The burger patty itself was good, but the sauce made it not so much.

So basically the takeaway here is go simple on the burgers. Skip the fancy sauces and gourmet cheese, and just make a really good cheeseburger. Which they do, but then ruin it with all the elaborate fixins. Boo. 

Because the other special on Wednesdays is 10 wings for $4.50, and, well, Shane likes to eat all his daily meals in one sitting, he also had 10 of the garlic wings as well. And garlic they certainly were. Let’s just say that no vampire was coming within a 50 mile radius of our group once those wings were placed on the table. Or probably anywhere near Shane for the forseeable future, as all that garlic oozes its way out of his pores. So, lucky me.

Can I get some garlic up in here?

Can I get some garlic up in here?

Because it's too hard to wait until after the photo to sneak a bite

Because it’s too hard to wait until after the photo to sneak a bite

Ted also went with the wing special, along with sides of fries and steak-on-a-stick. If only those had been fair fries, he would’ve been reliving a summer day at the county fair over there on his side of the table. He made yummy noises all through eating the steak-on-a-stick, so he was clearly happy with it. And for like $4 how can you not be? He almost ordered another one just because.

Classy steak on a stick

Classy steak on a stick

Our server – who was also the bartender, because, well, six tables – was pretty good to start off, but then we kind of lost her after the food was delivered. Sure, I get it, we’re not top priority once the orders are up and the true alcoholics/regulars are racking up tabs at the bar … but it seriously took about 20 minutes to even catch her attention enough to get the check at the end of the night. Which may be another point in the favor of extra lighting in the place. Just sayin.

So all in all, Teschner’s wasn’t exactly the gem of a place that we were hoping for, or that we’ll necessarily go back to. Between the wierdly uncomfortable setup of the place (the restrooms are located in a hallway where I would think a front door would make more sense, and essentially back up to the bar, so you have to shimmy your way through a narrow passageway in order to get from the dining room side to the pool table/open mic night area), the lighting for those with eyes better than bats, and the strangely flavored burgers, we just weren’t overly impressed. Plus it’s just maybe a bit too much of a “regulars” hang out for those of us who can’t commit to that status. Oh well.

Because we never actually remember these, so photos are necessary

Because we never actually remember these, so photos are necessary

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph
Drinks:  Only a few beers on draft and they were craft beers. Kind of surprising for a place that also serves PBR in cans, but whatevs.  
Food:
 Keep it simple stupid might be more of a rule to live by here. The burgers themselves were delicious, but the additions were just a bit over the top and not as well thought out flavor wise as they could’ve been.
Service: Good at first, but then we kind of lost her at some point after the food was served. I think the “regulars” got more of her undivided attention.
Overall: Eh. I think I had hopes of a Muskateer’s-esque environment, and this just fell short.

Next Pick: Amanda

Teschner's Tavern on Urbanspoon

WTGW 10/29/14: Frank’s Place, Akron

So, I think Shane is trying to take the lead on discovering the most “hole in the wall hidden gems” out of our WTGW list. Or “places that look scary on the outside but surprise you once you’re inside.” Whatever you want to call it.

(I guess after a year+ of doing this, we’re slowly finding our niches. For example:  Ted has, well, all of Kent. And Shane has … places next to a scary motel, in areas of town we normally don’t travel, and that we’re dangerously close to drawing straws on who gets to open the front door first. To each his own.)

Frank’s Place definitely falls into Shane’s territory. Located on the corner of W. Market St and Merriman, across from a cemetery, we drove by once before realizing we passed the place, and then nearly again when we thought that “couldn’t possibly be it.”

Just in case we forgot where we were ...

Just in case we forgot where we were …

Our second thought after we made it into the parking lot was that we hoped half the vehicles in the lot were somehow abandoned there, because we weren’t sure how all the people they belonged to could possibly fit into that tiny building.

Tiny maybe isn’t even the correct word to describe this place. I think I’ve had living rooms bigger than this place, and I certainly haven’t resided in mansions. If most restaurants are Lincoln Navigators, Frank’s would be a Fiat. Or a Smart Car. Or maybe a Scooter.

To make it worse, we unknowingly arrived on dart night, which we discovered takes over half of the ridiculously small number of tables on the floor out of commission.

(Side note, beware of entering through the front/only door on dart night, as it’s situated smack between the two dartboards. It’s a little intimidating to open the door and find someone seemingly aiming a dart at your head.)

But before we could get discouraged, our server approached us, quickly realized we were new to the place (that lost look on all of our faces – and the fact that we tried to sit at one of the dart tables – must’ve given that away) and that we had come on a night with a reduced amount of seating. She pointed to the one table large enough to accommodate our group of five, which was at the moment taken up by a group of older folks, and kindly told us they would be leaving soon if we wanted to just get some drinks and wait it out to order food.

Deal.

And sure enough, we had barely gotten our first round of drinks before that group was gathering their things and heading out. Actually, watching our server talk to the group as they left, it was clear she’d been taking care of them there at Frank’s Place regularly for many years. We asked and she said they come a few times a month, and had been for years. Gotta love that. Especially since that will probably be our little group one day. Ha.

Frank’s has a pretty impressive list of craft beers, which was a little unexpected for a place that had the look and feel of a dive bar. We all went Miller Lite … except, of course, for Ted, because, well, Ted. I’m not sure exactly what his first pick was (probably something I couldn’t pronounce or spell anyway), but then afterward I know he went with the Smutty Pumpkin (which may or may not have been a “guilt move” after the server put some on ice for us “just in case” we’d want to try it later) and then a Vanilla Porter.

As is becoming common practice for us, we asked the server (I’m beginning to realize I really should’ve gotten her name if I’m going to be mentioning her this much) what her favorites were on the menu. And she was great – she went through and picked out an item in each section of the menu, since she “wasn’t really sure what we were all in the mood for and didn’t want to leave anything out.” Nailed it.

One of the things she raved about the most was the spicy stuffed pepper balls on the appetizer menu. As you can probably guess, that took very little twisting of our arms to order. And wow. Take everything you love about a spicy stuffed pepper, roll it into a ball, and deep fry it. I’m really not sure how exactly you can go wrong there.

You can deep fry anything and we'll eat it. For reals.

You can deep fry anything and we’ll eat it. For reals.

For dinner, Shane, Amanda and I all had burgers. I had the BBQ Bacon, Shane had the Black & Bleu, Amanda had the Bourbon. Shane and I both thought they were delicious, while Amanda said the bourbon sauce didn’t have much flavor.

Crinkle cut fries = awesome

You don’t see crinkle cut fries nearly enough anymore.

I opted for the sweet potato fries instead of the regular fries, and definitely wasn’t disappointed. Unlike the ones I had at The Game a few weeks back, these ones were truly sweet, with a cinnamon twist to them. You know, how they’re supposed to taste. Delicious.

Sweet potato fries count as a vegetable, right?

Sweet potato fries count as a vegetable, right?

On the chicken side of the table, Ted got the Cajun Chicken entree, which he really liked. He said it had the perfect blend of seasoning on it. He used the sauteed spinach as more of a condiment than a side dish, though. Jenny had the Chicken spinach wrap, which she also liked. They both said the chicken itself was really good.

The other "non-burger" plate

The other “non-burger” plate

One of these meals is healthier than the other

One of these meals is healthier than the other

Ted apparently brought his Genie lamp to dinner with us, because after we ate the conversation somehow turned to our infamous trip to the frozen yogurt bar a few weeks back, and Ted mentioned that he could actually go for something sweet or dessert-like after his meal this time around, too. We joked about not really thinking Frank’s was the type of place to have a dessert menu – unless it was of the alcohol variety.

No joke, ten minutes later our waitress shows up out of the blue with a plate of five mini apple muffins. Just drops them off at our table and walks away, no explanation. Interesting. And delicious. But interesting nonetheless.

Magic muffins

Magic muffins

The muffins get the Turtle Stamp Of Approval

The muffins get the Turtle Stamp Of Approval

Then about ten minutes after that she reappears with five pumpkin pie shots, and sets those in front of us as well. What what?

We really should start wishing for alcohol more often

We really should start wishing for alcohol more often

Our lesson here is that clearly Ted should learn to use his cosmic wishing powers on things like cars, fancy vacations and stacks of cash. But we’ll reap the benefits this time around, no worries. Thanks buddy.

But I do admit, that was such a nice gesture by our server. She was honestly one of the best parts about our visit to Frank’s Place. She clearly knew from the start that we were “virgins” to the place, and it was nice of her to make us feel so welcome the whole time. She had a great personality, and you could tell she just 100% loves the place and the people there. Whether it was the table of regulars whose kids and grandkids she probably knows all about the lives of – or the five of us who stumbled in for the first time ever – she treated everyone as if they were lifelong friends and guests in her own home. These things make a difference.

Overall Frank’s is a wonderful little (and I do emphasize little) hidden gem. Our one and only complaint about the place really is the size, but even that didn’t seem to matter once we got settled in. I would recommend trying to go on a night that they don’t have something else going on, although that seems a hearty task based on the posters on the walls advertising upcoming events. We do know that dart night is Wednesday. And apparently they do kareoke on Sundays, although we couldn’t for the life of us figure out physically where in the hell they would set that up. But I’m sure it would be entertaining.

No, we aren't members of the Dart League.

No, we aren’t members of the Dart League.

I apparently didn't get the "grey" memo

I apparently didn’t get the “grey” memo

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks: The usual suspects, plus a pretty impressive list of craft beers for such a small place. And did I mention the pumpkin shots? 
Food:
 Good. Everything was obviously made fresh. And get the stuffed pepper balls. Trust us.
Service: Outstanding. Instead of looking at us like outsiders, we were given star treatment. From making sure we had a big enough table to making honest recommendations on menu items, to the free dessert and shots – we were all rather impressed.
Overall: This place is truly a hidden gem. Aside from being super tiny, I’m not sure we really had any complaints about the place. I could definitely see us making a return appearance … or joining the dart team, whatevs.

Next Pick: Steph

Frank's Place on Market on Urbanspoon

WTGW 10/22/14: Belleria, Kent

Well hello there Kent, long time no see …

I have to admit, it felt a bit like like de ja vu for this week’s WTGW, between the drive into town and parking in the same garage as we did last week. With Ted spending some time working in the area right now, he’s apparently discovered a plethora of restaurants we haven’t visited yet. And because he can’t go to them for lunch until we’ve visited them as a group (at least if he still wants to keep it as a pick), I think it’s safe to say Ted has the Kent market covered for a little while.

Belleria is a bit hard to find – it’s tucked away on the upper level of buildings, with the entrance facing a fire escape type stairway and a teeny tiny parking lot. So I guess it’s a good thing Ted scoped it out ahead of time and could lead us right to the front door.

The restaurant is very bright on the inside, and the atmosphere is more of a family place than a college town pizza shop. In fact, I was kind of surprised they even serve alcohol.Although they don’t serve much of it – only a few on draft (Bud Lite, Yuengling, and a couple of Great Lakes specialites), domestics in bottles, and some wines.

We all went for the Miller Lite bottles – except, of course, for original Ted, who went with the Great Lakes Nosfuratu. Which is something none of us can even pronounce, much less drink. And to which we all joked “What did you order Ted? … Nostradamous? … God Bless You? … No Soup For You?” Because we’re 12.

Belleria bills itself as an Italian eatery, which it most definitely is. But they also have a very extensive menu, with everything from pizza to sandwiches to salads to pastas – so don’t rule the place out even if you aren’t actually in the mood for Italian food.

Case in point, the appetizer menu has selections seemingly from the county fair circuit. Ted got the fried zucchini sticks. Because, “that’s a vegetable, right?” Um, sure. Meanwhile, Shane ordered the fried veggie basket. We’ll get to why he regretted that later in a minute.

It's still a vegetable even if it's deep fried, right?

It’s still a vegetable even if it’s deep fried, right?

Food we clearly didn't need to order.

Food we clearly didn’t need to order.

For entrees, I went with the baked rigatoni with sausage. It was basically a bowl of rigatoni, with spicy hot sausage, covered with melted mozzerella cheese. Being that I’m not cheese-hater Ted, there really is nothing bad I can say about that. I only ate about half of it – because, well, pasta is filling – but I will admit I’m already dreaming about the leftovers for lunch or dinner.

There's pasta under there somewhere

There’s pasta under there somewhere

Amanda had the meatball sub. Which she was disappointed didn’t come with melted cheese on it, even though the waitress told her it did. Because, really, shouldn’t pretty much everything in an Italian place just be assumed to be covered in melted cheese? She also took half home.

I should've donated some cheese to Amanda's sandwich

I should’ve donated some cheese to Amanda’s sandwich

Jenny had the pulled pork sandwich. To which Shane exclaimed “who orders pulled pork at an Italian place” when she ordered it … but then was a tad bit jealous once it arrived. She said it was delicious.

Jenny takes the "original" prize for ordering off the non-Italian menu

Jenny takes the “original” prize for ordering off the non-Italian menu

The boys both got pizza. And here’s where we see why Shane really didn’t need that appetizer. Let’s just say that “healthy, moderately fun Shane” has clearly left the building. Most likely still reeling over his jealously from Ted’s double stack burger at The Game a few weeks ago, Shane wasn’t taking any chances this time around. He ordered a half sheet of the Sausage Diablo pizza – despite Ted’s “Um, do you really think that’s a good idea?” protest. And I think Ted just voiced what we all were thinking. I mean, a half sheet of pizza? For himself. For real?

But if Shane was confident, then Ted wasn’t one to be upstaged – so he also ordered a half sheet, but of the Meat Lovers. Well played.

Although Ted did once again voice his concern when they placed their orders and the waitress told them that a half sheet really was, actually, a full sheet. As in twelve square pieces. As in more than enough for two people, let alone one. As in, are you sure you don’t want to just share one?

Nonsense.

So, yeah, each pizza came served on an actual cafeteria tray, and covered the whole thing. I think all five of us could’ve shared those two pizzas and still gone home with leftovers. (Side note, Jenny was thoroughly embarrassed. To which we replied, consider this initiation. And you ain’t seen nothing yet.)

Oh look, a whole pizza just for me

Oh look, a whole pizza just for me

Seriously

Seriously

In any case, they both liked the pizza. And of course they swapped a few pieces of each, because, well, that’s what they do. They’re such a cute couple. I think they both liked the kind they ordered for themselves best though. Shane said the meat lovers had almost too much meat (insert “that’s what she said” joke here), and that the spicy sausage was, in fact, spicy – but still good (insert yet another “that’s what she said” joke here). Ted was a little too busy making yummy food noises to be reached for comment (insert another … oh, never mind).

Overall Belleria is a good place if you want a wide variety of menu selections, or are really in the mood for Italian food. Much like JoJo’s in Medina, if we lived closer I could see this being a staple for take out or a place to go on those nights when no one can agree on one specific type of food that they want to eat, since they have a little of everything on the menu. But honestly there was nothing overly special about the place that makes it worth the drive from our area. Being that Ted is working in close proximity, though, no doubt he’ll be back on his lunch in the near future. Maybe he should’ve just asked to leave his leftover pizza in the back for him to claim on his next visit?

I'm sorry, where are we again?

I’m sorry, where are we again?

Ted, honey, squirrels don't like that.

Ted, honey, squirrels don’t like that.

I'm not sure I want to ask what was really in that pizza

I’m not sure I want to ask what was really in that pizza

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks: Eh. Three or four beers on draft, regular domestics in bottles. And wine, which we didn’t try, but I guess you have to have if you’re an Italian place. 
Food:
 Impressive array on the menu, from pizza to pasta to sandwiches. If you can’t find something that at least sounds good enough to order there may be something wrong with you.
Service: Good. It wasn’t busy, so we did get plenty of attention. And in contrast to other times when we’ve had to ask repeatedly for glasses of water, this time we were given a full pitcher without even asking. Karma.
Overall: While it was good – and Ted will likely be a frequent visitor of this place for lunch while he’s working in the neighborhood – I’m not sure that it’s special enough for us to make the trip back to Kent on a regular basis.

Next Pick: Shane

WTGW 10/8/14: Newdle Bar, Kent

Ah, Kent. Thank you for reminding me that my college days, way back in the 90’s, were so much different from what the kids are enjoying these days. A sushi place close to campus? Please. In my day the closest thing we got to “ethnic” was Taco Bell on the way home from the bar. Run for the border, yo.

But yet we continue to venture out here, because it’s a close enough drive and, well, they keep opening new restaurants so really we’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t check them out. You’re welcome, world.

We thought Newdle Bar was a fairly new place, since none of us had – in all our recent travels to Kent – ever realized it existed. And, as I just mentioned, we are clearly very much on the cutting edge of dining in our area . Plus, you know, since Shane “discovered” sushi a few months ago, we’ve always kind of got one eye and ear open for new places to try.

But then I saw a flyer on the back of the restroom door advertising “New July hours!” … and right then I realized that a) they’re clearly not that new, and b) they’re clearly not all that concerned about updated marketing. Oh well.

The restaurant isn’t a huge place, but the layout is very open with a few different seating styles, so it felt bigger than what it really was. Although when we walked in and asked for a “party of 5″ the host kind of just looked at us funny and then disappeared for a minute, like he had to ask for help with seating a table that large. Clearly we stumped him.

For a place called Newdle Bar, I was surprised to find there wasn’t a huge noodle selection on the menu. Seems odd, no? Maybe I’ve been spoiled by places like Noodlecat in downtown Cleveland – which has a clever play on the title, as well as a fairly large and interesting assortment of ramens, sobas and other noodle-based dishes on the menu. The majority of Newdle Bar’s menu is actually sushi, with just a small selection of Japanese noodles or rice bowls available. Because I guess there’s no clever way to spin “sushi” into a restaurant name.

But no matter, because sushi was really what we were there for anyway. Well, most of us anyway. This week’s WTGW featured a special guest – our friend Jenny, who just moved back with her family to the area after two years in North Carolina. And while I forgot to get an introductory picture of her to share with all of you, remember her name, as she may be appearing for future WTGW adventures. In any case, Jenny, like me a few months back, had tried sushi in the past and had a bad experience. And had written it off as yucky, not to be ordered again. She was the only one of us not to actually order sushi as their meal … although Amanda did convince Jenny to try some of hers. And she didn’t spit it out, even considering it was heavily flavored with wasabi. Sushi – 1, Dietary Aversions – 0. Score.

I barely remember a time I didn't like these

I barely remember a time I didn’t like these

Another score – our server told us that Wednesday’s are $5 martini night. Although he also shared with us a story about how all of the martinis actually used to be just $5, but the price changed “because probably they really weren’t making any money on them and so they raised the prices and just made Wednesdays the special $5 night.” Um, OK. Pretty sure you weren’t supposed to be sharing that info, but thank you for that delightful little insight into your manager’s crafty business skills. And we’ll just call you TMI from now on.

So being that they were clearly a bargain – well, and that we love martinis – us girls dove right into that list. Amanda and I started with the Marilyn Monroe, which was a delicious blend of strawberry vodka, cream and chocolate sauce … and pretty much tasted just like Strawberry Nestle’s Quik. Jenny had the Tsunami, which was Bailey’s, brandy, cream and caramel. And equally as delicious. For our second round later we switched it up, with Amanda ordering the Tsunami and Jenny ordering the Marilyn. I went kamakazi and got the Key Lime Pie, which was a bit too limey for my tastes but otherwise OK.

That's $15 well spent

That’s $15 well spent

Ted had a Dogfish Head beer on tap, and Shane continued his quest to make sure that all ethnic restaurants are properly chilling their bottles of Miller Lite.

Ted ordered endame as appetizer, which be pretty much kept to himself since none of us really wanted to touch it. Amanda and I tried it and weren’t impressed. Honestly I found it confusing. I mean, do you eat the outside, or no? All the seasoning seemed to be there, but when I tried it that way it had the consistency of leather. Not a fan.

As the only one to stray from the sushi menu, Jenny ordered the rice bowl. Which ironically came out quicker than any of our fresh made sushi. Hmmm. Even TMI was slightly thrown off by that. In any case, it didn’t look to be overly seasoned and was pretty much just chicken and veggies over rice. A lot of rice. It was quite a bit of food, and Jenny ended up taking half of it home.

Jenny fills in as the "one of these things is not like the other" order

Jenny fills in as the “one of these things is not like the other” order

Shane, Amanda and I all had various selections from the 6-roll menu. Mostly Philadelphia, Alaskan and one with shrimp and avocado. They were all very good; however, as with most sushi, it just never seems to be filling enough. Seriously, can we fix that somehow? More rice, larger pieces? I mean, Amanda and I each had two orders and Shane had three – but I think we still might have come to blows over Jenny’s extra food if we hadn’t discovered a frozen yogurt place next door after our meal.

Looks like a lot but just isn't filling

Looks like a lot but just isn’t filling

To that end, Ted was maybe the smartest of the sushi eaters, ordering two of the extra large double rolls (which come in 8’s). He had the Dragon and the Black Widow, both of which he enjoyed – and politely offered to the rest of us in an attempt to keep the peace as he was still eating and we were hungrily staring down his non-empty plate. Amanda did try one and agreed that it was just as good as what we had already devoured.

Such presentation

Such presentation

Overall Newdle Bar is a good place. It definitely caters to the college crowd as far as atmosphere and kind of bare-bones decor, but the food was good and reasonably priced for a sit-down place. The wait staff is pretty much all college students, but other than the bit of oversharing that earned him his nickname at the beginning of the visit, TMI was efficient and pleasant and got everything correct. He noticed when drinks needed refilled and was quick to ask if plates could be moved out of the way.

Did I mention we were still hungry after we left? Thankfully there was a self-serve frozen yogurt place right next door, so we headed in for some dessert. The flavors were to die for – including pumpkin pie and graham cracker swirl, strawberries and cream, cake batter, waffles and about 15 others I’m blanking on right now. And the topping bar was just as long as the flavor area, with everything from healthy fruits to gummy bears to candy pieces and actual pumpkin roll. Naturally we all totally bypassed the healthy section, and went straight to the bad stuff. Because, well, we could. I mean, come on. Who puts strawberries on a sundae when you can have Reece’s Pieces and Kit Kats? For real.

None of the toppings matched the yogurt flavors, but whatevs.

None of the toppings matched the yogurt flavors, but whatevs.

Which could explain how Shane and Ted each ended up making themselves 1.5 pound sundaes. I’m not even exaggerating. 1.5 pounds. Each.

That's nearly 3 pounds of sundae between them.

That’s nearly 3 pounds of sundae between them.

Ted literally licked his bowl clean, but Shane started to deteriorate with probably about a quarter pound of yogurt left in his dish. Eyes, meet stomach. Guess who’s bigger?

He's not looking happy

He’s not looking happy

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Decent alcohol list for a Japanese place – although being in a college town I would guess that’s a must. And you always win points with us for $5 margaritas. Just sayin’.
Food:
 Not a huge selection if you’re not a fan of sushi. Honestly, for a place with a play on the word “noodle” in the title, I would’ve expected that to take up the majority of the menu, but whateves.
Service: Good.  We didn’t see our waiter a ton, but with the open setup of the place I’m assuming it’s because he could see us and assumed we didn’t need anything from him. Drinks were refilled when needed and checks brought promptly, so thumbs up.
Overall: There are less expensive sushi places closer to us, but for a fun night out this place was definitely a good pick.

Next Pick: Ted

 

Newdle Bar on Urbanspoon