WTGW 4/15/15: Papous Tap & Grille, Aurora

So the theme of this week’s WTGW adventure really should be 20 Questions. And really not enough answers.

The burning question, of course, is a basic one … how the heck do you pronounce the name of this place?? Papaya? Papa’s? Papoose? Platypus? WHERE ARE WE?

And once you get past that question, the second one should be, literally, where the heck are we? Located at the end of a somewhat interestingly placed strip plaza, Papous Tap & Grille isn’t the easiest establishment to spot. If you don’t know it’s there, you probably won’t find it, because it’s not one of those places you just “happen” past.

To that end, I’m not sure how Shane discovered it. I want to say maybe it was a recommendation from someone at work? Because that worked out so well for Ted in the case of the infamous Gus’s referral. Clearly we haven’t learned from our mistakes.

Upon arrival at Papous the questions continued. Before we even walked inside we were intrigued by the neon orange sign on the door touting their “HOT” corned beef. Um, OK. What does that mean? Why the quotation marks? Is it maybe warmed up, and maybe served cold? Is it kind of spicy? Or do you just simply not know how to use quotation marks properly? WHAT???

The mystery remains unsolved to this day.

We walked in and immediately declared ourselves as first time patrons when we loitered around awkwardly trying to decide if we should just seat ourselves or wait for someone to seat us. Again, a question: is it really that hard to put up a sign?

We finally threw caution to the wind and just seated ourselves in the bar area. The place has king of a strange layout, with the bar area immediately to the left as you walk in, and then a whole other are to the back that maybe looked like it could’ve been more like a less bar-y dining room? But we didn’t actually venture back there, so it’s hard to say for sure. We just gravitated close to the bar. You know, in typical us style.

The decor is kind of like a Quaker Steak and Lube knockoff. Only far less cool. The sides of the bar were covered in a checkered pattern, items like car parts and race memorabilia adorned the walls and hung from the ceiling, and a really cool front half of a classic car was mounted over the far wall. OK then. But why stop there? I mean, why have one motif when you can mix in a little bit of a sports theme (framed jerseys, neon sports signs, photos), a splash of typical bar theme (more neon signs, this time with beer names) and – just for fun – some random antique items like croquet sets and old bicycles? Sure.

But at least the menu matched the motif – I mean, if you’re going for the confused, 25-personality, just throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks theme, may as well go all out, no? There were just a lot of options. Not 17 pages of menu options, just a lot of different kinds of food in one place kinds of options. Which made it really difficult to tell what they really specialize in. Is it greek? They have gyros, Mediterranean dips, pitas, and chicken souvlaki. OK. Or is it Italian? There’s a whole page for pizza. Or typical bar foods? You know, burgers, sandwiches, salads, wraps – check. Or maybe higher end American restaurant? Because there’s also steaks, duck, and a variety of seafood dishes. Hmmm.

My personal favorite, though, was the Wednesday special, which included a whole half chicken, rice and a vegetable, for the bargain price of … wait for it … $4.99. I’m sorry, what? How is that possible? I’m not even sure you can get a McChicken Meal for $4.99 these days.

Which immediately screams to me less “special” and more “take your chance on chicken we’re about to throw out anyway.” But that’s just me.

BTW, are you counting the questions so far? I think we’re well over 20 at this point. And we haven’t even ordered yet.

Speaking of ordering, our waitress wasn’t much help when it came to deciphering the specialties or making recommendations, either. If you ask her – and we did – what she recommended, everything there is “good.” Because that’s helpful. We asked what they’re known for, and she responded that everything they made there was good. OK. Shane asked about the pizza … “it’s really good.” Ted asked about the corned beef, and we all heard her tell him that it’s thin sliced and “good” … but when Ted mentioned he’s picky about his corned beef, and that he likes it thick sliced and flavorful, her response was “oh you’ll really like the corned beef here then, it always has really good flavor and comes thick sliced.” Um, OK. You do know that thick and thin are complete opposites of one another, right? And that you just used both of them to describe the same dish? Right.

So there’s that.

Add to that a paper beer list classily taped to the wall (that’s a new one) that wasn’t completely accurate (super helpful). Amanda and I thought we might score Summer Shandy – and not just leftover ones from last season, as has happened to us a few times already this year – because we saw it on the list. Yeah, no. The waitress informed us they were out of that. Because printing a new paper list and re-taping it to the wall would be too much trouble, I guess?

So for my second choice I decided to try for a Not Your Father’s Root Beer – which was also on the list … and was told she would check, because she wasn’t sure if those were in stock or not. OK, great. I’ll cross my fingers. It’s like a game show – spin the wheel of alcohol and hope you come up with a winner. Yay!

In this case, I did luck out with the NYFRB, so score for me. And, really, the rest of our group, because after the first round they all followed my lead and ordered the same thing. Yes, it’s just that good. And surprisingly we didn’t manage to drink the bar out of it, so I guess it really was our lucky night. In that respect anyway.

The preferred drink of this week's WTGW

The preferred drink of this week’s WTGW

Although it is worth mentioning that Ted’s first round was perhaps the lightest beer I’ve ever seen him drink willingly and without wincing. It’s no wonder he switched.

Shane's mixed drink and Ted's beer haven't been the same color since the Windsor Pub

Shane’s mixed drink and Ted’s beer haven’t been the same color since the Windsor Pub

So, anyway, back to food. Shane shocked us all and for once didn’t immediately stop reading the appetizer list at the word calamari – instead he wanted to get the Mediterranean dip. Which turned out to be an excellent choice. It was like a spinach artichoke dip with extra spices, cheeses and olives, and served with crispy pita chips. Delicious.

On a side note, we tried to get Ted to try it by telling him that you really couldn’t pick out the cheese taste in it, although it only took one bite for him to immediately disagree with us. Oops.

But we didn’t feel bad for him for too long, because he had his own delicious appetizer on his side of the table, the almond crusted duck. The breading was amazing, and the sauce that came with it was really, really good. It was almost like a teryaki, but with a ginger-y flair. And we all remember how much Shane loves ginger.

Delicious apps

Delicious apps

The dip was so good Shane literally licked the bowl clean. Classy.

The dip was so good Shane literally licked the bowl clean. Classy.

For my meal, I went with the Kobe burger. Which looked great when it arrived, but unfortunately didn’t taste as good as I’d hoped. It was very salty, and the mozzerella cheese had a weird seasoning on it that I couldn’t quite decipher. I guess we’re keeping with the guessing game theme in this regard, too. Awesome. At least the fries were good, even though they were pretty much no different than the frozen steak fries you get at the grocery store. So there’s that.

The burger that almost turned me into a cheese-hater like Ted

The burger that almost turned me into a cheese-hater like Ted

Amanda had the roast beef french dip. She said it was good, although she did point our that usually that’s a really difficult sandwich to truly mess up. So take that as you will, I guess.

The other "beef" on the table

The other “beef” on the table

Whether it was to truly fact-check the waitress or because he just had a taste for it, Ted went ahead and ordered the corned beef. He likes to live on the edge. Aside from nearly burning a layer of skin off of his mouth and fingers with the first bite of his fires, he thought the meal was just OK. And we still don’t know if the corned beef was technically thick or thin cut, but he did say it was a little salty. That must be the only seasoning they have in the back. Well, that and whatever it was that they put on the slice of cheese on my burger.

Are the fries thicker than the corned beef?

Are the fries thicker than the corned beef?

Shane decided to go with an old standby, the build-your-own pizza. He chose pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and extra cheese. The waitress had told him when he ordered that the sauce was “kind of sweet”  and … wait for it … “good.” But according to Shane, it was neither of those things. Hmmm. He said it was more like canned spaghetti sauce than anything else. And definitely not sweet. But also not salty, so I just they missed his meal with the seasoning de jour somehow.

We also joked when he got the pizza that the “extra cheese” looked strangely like a random few pieces of shaved Parmesan thrown on the top of the pie. As Ted put it, “that’s the only extra cheese pizza I’d actually eat!”

Look at all that "extra" cheese!

Look at all that “extra” cheese!

But despite not really liking it, Shane still ate the entire large by himself. Way to muster on, soldier.

All in all, we weren’t that impressed with Papous/Papyas/Poppyseeds/Pocketbooks/Papas/whatever-the-heck-the-actual-name-is. Even if it was closer to us, I don’t think we’d be running to make a return visit. The atmosphere was nothing special (despite trying to be a whole lot of different things at once), our waitress didn’t really seem like she wanted to be there (even if everything was supposed to be so “good”) and the food was just OK. Plus pondering so many questions is just exhausting.

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks:   It’s like Russian Roulette with the drink list. Don’t get your heart set on anything until it actually arrives at your table. 
Food:
Chances are you’ll see something on the menu that you want to order, since they have a very wide variety of options. But will you like it? That’s another gamble.
Service: It’s not as “good” as she claims everything on the menu to be. Ironic, no?
Overall: I’m going to wager a guess that we won’t see the inside of Papous again. Which is probably good, considering we still don’t know how to pronounce it. “Where are you?” “We have no idea.”

Next Pick: Steph

Papous Tap & Grille on Urbanspoon

WTGW 4/1/15: Blue Rock Cafe, Hudson

Full disclosure here, we were all a little bit worried about this week’s pick, being that 1) it fell on April Fool’s Day, 2) it was the one year anniversary of our ill-fated trip to the place that serves tarter sauce on toast and 3) it was once again Ted’s pick.

So you see how this had the possibility to end badly.

Luckily, our trip to the Blue Rock Cafe was about 1,386 times better than our last beginning of April adventure. Whew.

I had actually had this place my ever-evolving list of possibilities a while back, but then when I went to check them out again online prior to my week at bat I realized they had closed down for a few months for renovations. Thank you, internet. And then honestly I just kind of forgot about finding out when they would open again.

But then Ted was out with a friend picking something up at a shop in the same plaza, and lo-and-behold his nose led him straight to Blue Rock. Literally. Like he walked in and asked what it was that smelled so good.

And so here we are.

I’ll admit, my first impression upon walking in what that the place was just a touch on the edge of scary. Especially being that it was almost 7PM, and there was only one table of people eating, a few stragglers at the bar, and a guy singing cover tunes with a guitar and a mike on the bare stage. You know, all things that scream “this place is awesome.”

About this point in time I vaguely remembered that my previous search of this place online had revealed a website that catered (you see what I did there?) more toward the bands and other featured entertainment of the space than the actual menu. Hmm.

But not to fear, Ted’s nose was correct – the Blue Rock Cafe serves up some good food. We definitely left happy. And full. There’s little to complain about there for sure.

Our waiter for the evening was also the owner of the establishment, and was definitely very personable. Imagine that chatty coworker you know you all have who loves to tell you the story behind every poster on her wall, or sweater she wears, or lunch that she brings in … that’s this guy. Only not annoying. Maybe that’s because he’s also allowing you to consume alcohol while he talks, but whatevs.

Guess who had the mixed drink?

Guess who had the mixed drink?

So needless to say, the owner/waiter essentially picked out our meals for us that evening. Actually, in all honesty the four of us were pretty much set on ordering the exact same meal – one of this month’s specialty burgers – after this guy talked it up so much … but then Shane insisted that we should really try something else on the menu so we could get an overall feel for the place. OK, valid point. So Amanda and I obliged … and then Shane and Ted proceeded to order the same burger we were all salivating over. So basically he meant that just the girls needed to order something else. Thanks, honey.

In any case, that burger was the BB King burger. Which is infused with bacon. Yeah, you read that right. And I bet your reaction is about the same as ours was when we first heard it, which is that it sounds freaking delicious. It also doesn’t come with cheese (because why ruin the carnivorous theme you’ve already got going on there), so it’s really no wonder that Ted gravitated to it. And technically that alone should’ve made him the rightful owner of it under the “individuality clause” Shane tried to invoke, but whatever.

No cheese. On purpose

No cheese. On purpose

Anyway, needless to say, the boys were not disappointed. The burger was cooked perfectly for Shane, without him even having to order it that way. In fact, the owner explained to us that all of the burgers are actually seared on the griddle, so the outside is crispy while the inside is a bit more rare. Shane and Ted both agreed that this gave it lots of different flavors.

This = happy Shane

This = happy Shane

After being banished from the bacon burger ordering crew, Amanda instead turned to the other specialty burger this month, the Reuben burger. And while it was about 6,000 times messier than the burger the boys ordered, it was still just as good. It was basically a burger and a Reuben smashed onto one bun – so you can see how the messiness figures in. But she raved about the coleslaw, which the owner told us was homemade daily.

It's like two sandwiches in one

It’s like two sandwiches in one

I went with the Philly steak. I must have looked a bit indecisive – and like I was trying to be somewhat healthy – when I was ordering, because the owner tried to sell me on two different chicken options (a new tomato basil wrap he’s putting on the new menus that debut next week and then a grilled chicken sandwich with chipotle mayo). But after last week’s slab of potentially undercooked and definitely flavorless chicken I was still a little wary of that particular meat. Fortunately the Philly steak was a good choice. It’s made with chopped up ribeye steak, not glorified steak-ums, so it’s very flavorful and tender.

Seriously, those fries

Seriously, those fries

We all ended up with fries as our sides, following a story about some 90-year old who never takes food home from restaurants with her, but specifically asked for a to-go box just for the fries. I mean, really, how can you not try them after that sales pitch? Shane didn’t even need ketchup, they were so good. His comment was that they were “like an anorexic chip” – while Ted said it was “like a chip and a fry had a baby.”

You can probably see now why neither of them are in product marketing.

Because we clearly hadn’t had enough food yet, and because Ted had been voyeuristically salivating over it as it was being made in the kitchen behind us, the boys also decided to try the carrot cake that had been brought out on a platter and placed under a glass case on the bar a la the rose in Beauty and the Beast. And as you probably already guessed, there was a story behind this item as well: the owner said that the cook (his wife) makes it fresh daily, and people call ahead on the weekends to reserve slices of the cake because it goes so fast. Apparently there’s a secret limit on carrot cake production per venue in Hudson? Why not just make more cake? Right. In any case, they were glad they tried it and agreed that it was delicious. Maybe not call ahead reservation delicious, but still.

If it has carrots in it, it has to be healthy, right?

If it has carrots in it, it has to be healthy, right?

Dessert and alcohol, how can you go wrong?

Dessert and alcohol, how can you go wrong?

All in all, the Blue Rock is a winner in our books. While the decor and layout of the space is definitely geared toward concerts or open mic nights (which we had the joy of experiencing on our visit … we likened it to karaoke with instruments. And learned quickly that some are definitely better to endure than others) – and that seems to be what they’re getting known for in the area, as it definitely got busier as the night went on and we officially entered open mic hours – don’t let that deter you from trying out something on the menu. Because they definitely take pride in their creations. And you can tell the owner is extremely proud (and rightly so) of the space and the business he’s built there. I should actually say he and his family, as not only is the owner the bartender/waiter, but his wife cooks, and they both come up with recipes. And what we assumed to be their teen-aged daughters were camped out on couches at the back of the room watching TV and playing on their phones. Because I’m sure that’s a fun way to spend most evenings.

To that end, note that the Blue Rock is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays – which I’m pretty sure is just a tactful way of saying that they need to actually enjoy their own home at least a few nights a week. Smart move.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks:   Decent variety on draft and bottles. 
Food:
Menu is small but mighty. We’ll be interested to see how much it changes with the new items that the owner referenced. You can tell he definitely takes pride in his work and the items he comes up with.
Service: Good, although it definitely got a bit slower as we finished our meals and the place got busier. I’m hoping they have reinforcements for the busier times on weekends.
Overall: Definitely worth a return visit. If nothing else for the fries alone.

Next Pick: Shane

Blue Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

WTGW 3/25/15: Hooley House, Montrose

**sigh** Oh, Hooley House, we had such high hopes for you. I mean, really – you specialize in Irish food, bar food and beer. How hard is that to screw up?

Read on, my friends, and you shall see.

So the Hooley House is relatively new to the Fairlawn area, and located in the area just west of Rt 77 that we all seem to forget exists. That highway is like a moat.

Regardless, we were all pretty excited for an excuse to continue celebrating St. Patrick’s Day when Amanda announced this place as her pick for the week. We arrived at HH and noticed an open table in what we thought was the bar area – I mean, it had a large bar, and we all know that’s our usual gravitation point in any restaurant – to the left as soon as we walked in, so we asked to be sat there. It wasn’t until we were seated that we realized there was actually a giant dining room on the right side of the hostess station that had at least one more bar, and far more activity. Translation: we chose poorly, and were actually on the “quiet” side of the place. Also known as the “invisible” side, but we’ll get to that later.

I will say that things got off to a decent start. HH has great drink specials – Wednesdays are $4 Guinness and martinis, so that’s pretty much custom made for three out of four members of our group. Although Ted did save his Guinness for round two of the evening, starting out the night with a (very dark) vanilla porter. Maybe they should re-think that name. After much scouring of the martini list – because, let’s face it, they all sounded absolutely delicious – Amanda started with a birthday cake martini, while I went with the apple pie.

Not one to jump on a bandwagon, Shane went with a rum and diet. Drink specials be damned.

Small to tall, dark to light

Small to tall, dark to light

So we got our first round of drinks, and took a few minutes to check out the rather large menu. Seriously, this thing was like a small novel. And while I appreciate a good selection, sometimes by the time you get to page 8 it just seems rather overwhelming. Where was the sandwich page? How many different pastas do they offer? What sides come with those? It’s like studying for the freaking SAT’s just to be prepared when they come back to take your order.

We finally passed the test and put in our orders, and sat back to enjoy our drinks while we waited for our appetizers to arrive. And that’s when things started go downhill. And also when we learned the number one cardinal rule of dining at Hooley House: order a drink anytime you see your waitress. Any. Time. If she walks past the table. Or you catch a quick glimpse of her seven tables away. Or you run into her in the restroom. I don’t care where you see her, if your paths cross you need to take advantage of it. Because you never know when you might see her again.

Had we known this, we would’ve put in our order for our second round of drinks when we ordered our food – which was about two sips into our first round, just FYI. Instead, our first round of drink glasses sat empty for at least 15 minutes, with no sign of our servers whatsoever and despite Shane making loud slurpy noises with his straw in the empty glass like a 5-year old. Our apps were delivered by someone who was clearly not our server and who also scurried away immediately after dropping off the plates as if she knew we would ask for more drinks and she wasn’t able to get them for us.

So, OK, strike one.

But let’s just talk for a minute about the appetizers, which were so good they almost made us forget that we didn’t have any liquids remaining at our table to wash them down with. We had ordered the onion rings, which were hand battered but not so much so that they weighed 10 tons and dropped like a ball of grease into your stomach. Delicious.

Onions count as a vegetable, right?

Onions count as a vegetable, right?

We also got an order of the Irish Egg Rolls, which quite frankly may be the best item on the menu. The corned beef was sliced just right, and even though they were deep fried it wasn’t like they just dipped them in grease and threw them on a plate. They were less like egg rolls and more like little mini deep-fried corned beef sandwiches. Or pockets of heaven, whatever. Tomato, tomahto.

Pita pockets of tastiness

Pita pockets of tastiness

Plus if you order anything there and it says it comes with “hooley sauce,” consider yourself lucky because it’s to die for. Seriously. I think I could eat a bowl of that stuff by itself with a spoon.

Speaking of spoons, it’s a good thing we didn’t need an extra one for anything. Or any condiments. Or anything, really, to go with our appetizers (I mean, aside from the obvious drinks – we’re well past that at this point), because we were finished with our apps by the time we saw our servers again. And yes, I did mean to use the plural there, as our table was the lucky recipient of a “shadowing trainee” for the evening.  Who was apparently learning the fine art of avoidance, but whatevs. In any case, the next time we saw our waitress(es) was when our meals were delivered. I’m pretty sure we all burst out laughing when she asked us if there was anything else she could get us at that point. Oh, yes, please, a little more air for my empty glass would be perfection. Thank you.

So, OK, on to our meals. As usual we did our pre-meal interrogation of our servers prior to ordering, and were told that the burgers and the “bakes” (essentially specialty mac’n’cheese) were the best things on the menu. I guess maybe I should’ve listened to them and gone that route, as both the Irish bake and the Buffalo Chicken bake had caught my eye. But I was afraid that either of those options would be way too heavy, so I tried to make it a bit healthier and went with the Cajun Chicken Melt sandwich instead. It was billed as a “grilled cheese sandwich with extras.” Um, yeah, no. Typically grilled cheese involves, well, cheese, right? Yeah, that ingredient was basically non-existent. Like so much so that I think even Ted could’ve eaten this sandwich without complaining (gasp!). Conversely, the chicken breast was cut way too thick – to the point that the texture was a bit iffy and even though it looked to be cooked all the way through there just wasn’t enough flavor to it to make you feel comfortable finishing it.

At least the tater tots weren't going to kill me

At least the tater tots weren’t going to kill me

As usual, my love of carbs enabled me to finish off the bread, but that’s about all. Because it’s always best to order “healthy” and then eat only the part of the meal with the worst nutritional value. I should’ve just had a vat of the hooley sauce.

Amanda, Ted and Shane all ordered burgers. So, considering Shane’s pickiness and how this visit is going so far, I’m guessing you probably already realize that’s going to be an issue. Sure enough, despite asking the waitress and being told that they cook to order, Shane’s Jalepeno burger was still well done. And you know how much he loves that.

There's a well done burger under all those chips somewhere

There’s a well done burger under all those chips somewhere

Meanwhile Amanda’s Mushroom Swiss burger, while ordered medium, was pink inside. Because that seems normal.

Shane said if it had been cooked properly then it probably would’ve been a good burger. But this time around, unfortunately, the pepper jack cheese on his burger was the best part of the sandwich. Which ultimately doesn’t bode well for Ted, who got the same burger, sans cheese. He did say it was decent – he liked the mix of sweet and sour with the honey bun and pickles. But it wasn’t anything to write home about.

The bun blends in with the plate

The bun blends in with the plate

We did like the sides we had with our orders, which included chips, fries and tater tots. Amanda and I got the garlic parm seasoning on ours (I had tots and she had fries) and it was delicious. We would both highly recommend it.

Can we seriously just get sides and apps next time?

Can we seriously just get sides and apps next time?

But overall I have to say that the service really killed this place for us. We might’ve been more forgiving of the food if we also would’ve seen more of the wait staff. Or at least had full drinks to wash down the over-done burger and questionable chicken. We realized that part of the problem seemed to be that instead of assigning one server to just our section – which seemed to be further removed from the kitchen and the main bar area – they had at least four or five different servers working the eight or so tables in our area, in addition to holding down tables in the main section. No wonder they forgot to check on us. Our section was the Alaska to the rest of the bar’s Lower 48.

Several times we almost walked up to the bar near us and ordered rounds there, just to see if it would take less time to do it that way than wait for our waitress(es) – but watching the bartender behind the bar take her time with orders she received basically answered that question for us and made us just decide to stay comfortably in our seats instead of jostling for position at the bar. We were told – when we finally did see our waitress(es) and they took our order for a second round – that the main bar was “really backed up” … keep in mind, we were not apologized to, just told that. So hence why we ordered our third round when the second round arrived. Which I think at first the waitress wasn’t sure we were serious about. Clearly she has no idea who we are, or how much we typically drink in one sitting. So thanks for saving us money, I guess?

Lining up the beverages in case our waitress pulls a David Copperfield again

Lining up the beverages in case our waitress pulls a David Copperfield again

 

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks:   Good specials and variety. We’d be able to give more of an opinion on them if we were served more of them, though.  
Food:
The menu is huge, lots of Irish fare but also the typical bar food, too. We really, really wanted to like it. And if we would’ve just stuck to appetizers I have a feeling we would’ve.
Service: Houston, we have a problem. Namely that our entire section of the bar seemed to go invisible for a while.
Overall: In an area where bar and grille esque places – even those with an Irish theme – seem to be a dime a dozen, this place did nothing to make itself stand out.

Next Pick: Ted

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

It's like oil and water

It’s like oil and water

Times two

Times two

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

Shane: oh, that’s pretty smart.

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

Maybe some Tostito's scoops for next time?

Maybe some Tostito’s scoops for next time?

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

Probably the healthiest appetizer ever to grace our table

Probably the healthiest appetizer ever to grace our table

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

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

Uh huh.

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

Let’s recap our orders:

Steph: one Volcano roll and one Tempura Asparagus roll

It's like a painting

It’s like a painting

Amanda:  two Philadelphia rolls and one Spicy Crab roll

One of these things is not like the other

One of these things is not like the other

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

A+ for presentation

A+ for presentation

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

"Buttload" of Philly rolls

Who needs variety?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

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

Next Pick: Amanda

Twiisted • Sushi• Grill• Bar on Urbanspoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think Shane almost turned the car around right there.

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

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

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

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

Well then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not-quite-meat-flavored-cotton-candy

Not-quite-meat-flavored-cotton-candy

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

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

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

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

Second to Slyman's, Impressive

Second to Slyman’s, Impressive

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

 

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

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

Half of Shane's meal

Half of Shane’s meal

And the other half

And the other half

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

Can't beat good fries

Can’t beat good fries

Burger, medium

Burger, medium

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

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

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

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

So there’s that.

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

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

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

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

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Next Pick: Steph

Station 43 on Urbanspoon

Annex Bar and Grille on Urbanspoon

WTGW 2/25/15: Windsor Pub, Akron

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

Your sign has a bit of an ego

Your sign has a bit of an ego

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

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

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

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

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

And we’ll get to the bartending skills later.

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

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

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

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

Unnecessary onion rings

Unnecessary onion rings

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

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

See also: gluttony.

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

Hee hee.

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

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

Cheese-less burger

Cheese-less burger

Have some burger with your mayo

Have some burger with your mayo

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

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

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

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

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

Burger, from afar

Burger, from afar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or an alcoholic’s version of heaven. Whateves.

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

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

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

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

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

Next Pick: Shane

Windsor Pub on Urbanspoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dark - light scale. With citrus this week.

Dark – light scale. With citrus this week.

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

Ted was very proud.

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

At least the label was cool

At least the label was cool

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

A staple of WTGW apps

A staple of WTGW apps

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

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

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

Fireworks, pre-detonation

Fireworks, pre-detonation

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

Sweet potato fries for the win

Sweet potato fries for the win

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

See, there's a lot of open space there

See, there’s a lot of open space there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda

Amanda

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

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

Next Pick: Ted

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