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 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 9/24/14: Papa Don’s Pub, Akron

I have to admit, we were all a little bit nervous to visit this week’s pick. Well, except, of course, the one who made the pick (Shane). And we’re not sure how exactly he discovered this place – but let’s just say that it’s definitely not in the most desirable of neighborhoods. Maybe that should tell us all a bit about how he spends his spare time? Hmmm.

Actually, Amanda admitted that she has driven through this area on her way to work, and when Shane gave her the name of the place she was thinking it was actually the building next door. Which, we realized as we drove up, is rather frightening. It turns out that Papa Don’s is only slightly less intimidating looking from the outside, but score for us that at least Shane didn’t pick that other place.

However, it’s worth mentioning that as we walked in there were two matching convertible Mercedes parked near the door, so that helped shudder our nerves a little.

Inside the bar is a whole different world, though. It’s not the most glamorous of places – just one big room filled with tables/booths and a large bar at the back, and then an enclosed patio off to the right side. The boys voted for the patio, but Amanda and I decided it was a bit chilly to go that route. Yes, we’re girls. And it is fall, after all. 60 degrees is not warm this time of year.

Wednesday nights at Papa Don’s are .50 cent wing and $1 Bud Light drafts. OK, suddenly we’ve forgotten what the exterior of the place looked like or the dark, slightly shady neighborhood it’s located in – because specials like that are hard to come by. Naturally we went with the $1 beer specials … except Ted, who likes to be different and is apparently made of money, who opted for a Great Lakes bottle.

$1.00 Bud Lights. And whatever else that sign says. Glorious.

$1.00 Bud Lights. And whatever else that sign says. Glorious.

We opted for the appetizer platter – which, for $14, includes half orders of your choice of four different appetizers. This is right up our alley, since that way instead of having to agree on something to share, we could all pretty much just pick what we liked. Nice. Our choices were mac ‘n’cheese bites (a regular staple for us), breaded mushrooms (our closest attempt at being healthy for the night), queso bites (who wouldn’t love deep fried hot cheese? Oh, right, Ted), and pizza rolls (because everyone loved Totino’s back in the day … and this is pretty much exactly what these were). Everything was good, and came out piping hot. I mean, I think Ted lost a layer of skin on the roof of his mouth from his first interaction with a pizza roll. That should teach him to be over-eager.

A tray of fried goodness

A tray of fried goodness

For our meals, Shane and I both went with wings. I had the hot garlic parm, and Shane got six each of the honey mustard, 6 pepper and regular garlic parm. Mine were good, just not as spicy as I thought they would be, especially considering they have a hot and a regular version on the menu. I guess I should’ve really stolen one of Shane’s regular ones to try them, since he voted them as #1 out of the three kinds he ordered. Although that being the case, you know he was also coveting them and not sharing. Oh well.

Leave it up to Shane to have the most food on the table.

Leave it up to Shane to have the most food on the table.

Amanda went with her tried and true order – a steak wrap with fries. She said it was good, just not the best thing she’s ever had.

Steak + cheese + wrap = good

Steak + cheese + wrap = good

On a complete curve ball, Ted ordered an actual dinner – the prime rib. He said it didn’t have much flavor. Although I’m not really sure what he expected from a neighborhood bar with wing and Bud Light specials? He also said he was glad he finished off the meal with one of Shane’s 6 pepper wings, which apparently had enough flavor to totally redeem the whole trip for him.

Ted shows off his meat ... without spilling his beans. Impressive.

Ted shows off his meat … without spilling his beans. Impressive.

Don't laugh or you'll lose it!

Don’t laugh or you’ll lose it!

Hey, wait … should I be offended that Shane shared wings with Ted and not his own wife? Hmmm.

Speaking of wings, I noticed one of the flavors on the menu was “BBQ potato chip.” I was intrigued … but then Amanda reminded me of the Taco flavored wings I had back at Ripper’s Rock House that were also “intriguing,” but not actually good. Point taken.

The service at Papa Don’s was good. The bartender was also our waiter, although throughout the night a few other bartenders must’ve come on shift because from time to time a random would also stop over to fill our drinks or see if we needed anything. Or maybe they didn’t work there but were just really concerned patrons. This place definitely had that Cheers sort of feel to it where the person behind the bar may not necessarily need to be an employee.

Side note – some of the reviews we’d read before coming in made mention of how bright the place was on the inside – you know, for a bar. And I have to admit that they weren’t lying. I mean, it wasn’t surface of the sun bright or anything, but if you’re looking for ambiance … well, let’s just say first of all that maybe you need to look up the meaning of the word before you think of this place , but there definitely aren’t any dark corners to hide in (so to speak) here either.

All in all a good visit. It didn’t skyrocket to the top 5 on our list, but they do have good specials ($1 Bud Light drafts on Wednesdays and during Browns games, $2 Blue Moon on Thursdays, etc) and the food, while not over-the-moon fabulous, was decent. And because of the insanely cheap specials, it meant that our bill rivaled that of The Big Dog a few weeks prior – so you know that made us happy. I could see us coming back to take in a game or just grab some wings and check out the crowd on another night.

$5.00 for all this.  Awesome.

$5.00 for all this. Awesome.

We so should've made him wear a hat like Don's in order to be in this picture.

We so should’ve made him wear a hat like Don’s in order to be in this picture.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks: Thank you, $1.00 Bud Light drafts, for the second under $30 bill we’ve had in the past month. Enough said. 
Food:
 Typical bar food, and Wednesdays are 50 cent wing nights. There were specials for every day on the menu, but that was the only one we actually paid attention to.
Service: Good. Despite the place having that neighborhood “Cheers” kind of feel, no records came to a screeching halt when we walked in and we weren’t ignored in favor of the regulars.
Overall: Nice little neighborhood bar in a bit of a scary neighborhood. If you can get past the exterior and the area it’s worth a chance.

Next Pick: Steph

WTGW 9/3/14: The Big Dog, Ravenna

Alternate title: The time we went out for WTGW and the bill for two people was less than $30. And that includes alcohol. And tip. Say what?!?

I have to admit, we’ve been waiting all summer for the perfect WTGW to get to The Big Dog. Two reasons: Wednesdays are 10 cent wing nights. Yes you read that correctly. And rumor was they had an amazing re-landscaped patio.

I’m happy to report those statements were 100% accurate.

Although, OK, I’ll admit it, we were a little scared driving up to the place – it’s kind of off the beaten path, and the buildings appear to be an old feed mill or collection of some sort of buildings re-purposed into the bar/restaurant. We parked across the street, by the scary-looking condemned conveyor … because, you know, why point out that there’s actually a closer (and less creepy) parking option behind the bar? But then again, had we parked there we would’ve missed the ambiance of the signs advertising Truck Night (complete with prizes for best chrome and highest lift!) as well as a nearby dumpster overflowing with used mattresses.

I think it was at about this point in the evening that Amanda and I wagered a guess that we would be the only girls in the place wearing heels.

So we walk in … and the inside of the bar kind of looked how we expected it to, given what we’d already seen. Kind of dark, large pool table in the middle of the room, stage off to one side. You know, typical biker/college/small town townie bar.

And then we walked out the door to the patio, and were greeted with this:

 

Seriously, where are we?

Seriously, where are we?

Again, say what?!?

It was like we entered some sort of drinker’s oasis or parallel universe. Huge brick patio, complete with landscaping, waterfalls, corn hole boards, a stage for a band, and an outdoor building re-purposed into a bar. Welcome to Ravenna’s version of East Eden, my friends.

Trying to discreetly photograph the other side of the patio

Trying to discreetly photograph the other side of the patio

I’m sure we stood out a bit as we entered this magical portal to drinker’s paradise, since we weren’t real sure on the protocol as far as seating and ordering. We kind of lingered next to the outdoor bar, and finally the bartender took pity on us and let us know we could seat ourselves and just come back up to order there.  We ordered the first round of drinks (bottled Miller Lites) and she gave us a menu – which, I later realized is also conveniently printed on the side of the building. Guess that’s the “large print version.”

Now, I could be mistaken, but it seems like really all they serve is wings and assorted fried foods. I’ve never seen the word fried so many times on one menu.

This place clearly has your health as a #1 priority.

This place clearly has your health as a #1 priority.

We weren’t really sure what to expect with 10 cent wings – but I’m pleased to report we were pleasantly surprised. The wings are actually good sized, and the list of sauces was somewhat impressive given the price. Little tip: you have to order the wings in increments of 10, and for every 10 wings you also have to order one beer. Um, yeah, OK, twist our arms. That’s the kind of math I actually like.

 

Ted chugs a Miller Lite. And his face pretty much sums up how he feels about it.

Ted chugs a Miller Lite. And his face pretty much sums up how he feels about it.

For the wing flavors, Amanda had 10 of the spicy ranch, as did Shane. Shane also had 10 of the regular ranch – but the spicy ranch were the clear winners there.  I’m honestly not sure why he even got the plain ranch – since he’s always all “I’ll-get-ranch-but-only-if-its-not-the-actual-ranch-dressing-and-more-like-the-packet-of-seasoning-because-I-like-that-better” picky about his flavors. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he still ate all 20. Because we don’t send wings to starving children in Africa.

 

Tale of two ranches

Tale of two ranches

Ted tried the garlic and the extra hot – because apparently he likes to visit both ends of the spectrum. The extra hot indeed lived up to their name and were just that … and not just in contrast to the blandness of the plain garlic. One for one, I guess. Although Ted disappointed us by not finishing all 20 of his wings. Blame it on the Miller Lite.

I ordered spicy garlic parmesan. But I have to believe the bartender stopped listening before I was done with my order, because I swear the wings I got were just spicy garlic, no parmesan. Not only did I not actually see the parmesan on the wings, but they didn’t have a lot of flavor. Maybe my taste buds are just overconditioned from the past year of bar food and wings, but even the “spicy” wasn’t all that spicy. They just didn’t seem to have a lot of flavor, especially after I traded with Shane to try the spicy ranch. And as much as I tried to trade his basket for mine, he wasn’t having it. He’s a lot smarter than he looks sometimes.

 

Spicy garlic parmesean, minus the parmesean

Spicy garlic parmesan, minus the parmesan

Rounding out the cholesterol fest at our table, we also ordered the fried cauliflower and a basket of fair fries. Because who needs clear arteries, right? Amanda actually tried to order the fried macaroni bites and were told they don’t make them anymore. Same with the loaded baked potato bites. Because printing and laminating new one page menus is clearly too expensive. I mean, have you seen the new patio?

Fried cauliflower still counts as a vegetable, right?

Fried cauliflower still counts as a vegetable, right?

I like that they were courteous enough to include a plastic fork with the fries

I like that they were courteous enough to include a plastic fork with the fries

Overall The Big Dog is a good pick, and I could see us going back. It would be fun to see a band there … but only if they’re outside on the patio, since honestly the inside of the place kind of scared all of us. The only downfall was that there are no lights on the patio, so once it got dark they closed the outside bar – meaning you’d have to go inside to get a drink. See my previous statement to know how we felt about that.

This was really the only light on the patio after the sun went down.

This was really the only light on the patio after the sun went down.

Actually, if it wasn’t about a 35 minute drive away I could pretty definitely see us becoming regulars for the 10 cent wing nights. Although I guess that would mean we’d have to stop finding new places to go on Wednesdays, and then in effect change this entire blog  … so I guess the universe is doing us a favor by keeping things the way they are. Thanks?

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Basic dive bar fare – bottled domestics and Bud Light on draft. Our resident “up for trying anything” craft beer guy (Ted) had to settle for Guiness in a can, if that tells you anything.
Food:
I seriously don’t know if they serve any other food than wings and assorted fried stuff. Regardless, this is a bar food type of place, so if you want a salad you’re definitely out of luck.
Service: The place is pretty much get-it-yourself as far as drinks go, but the bartender was pleasant and helpful without making us feel stupid for being virgins to the place.
Overall: 10 cent wings on Wednesdays and a great patio. That’s really all you need to know.

Next Pick: Ted

Big Dog Saloon on Urbanspoon

WTGW 8/20/14: Blue Willow Lounge, Macedonia

OK, so I know it looks like we were slackers and took a couple of weeks off. But really we did go out the last two Wednesdays, I just spared you the reviews since technically both places – Bricco in Kent and Sarah’s Vineyard in Cuyahoga Falls – were places we’ve visited previously. Granted, the Bricco location we went to was in downtown Akron, and now that I look back I realize that our Sarah’s visit was before we started the blog … so, OK, I guess I really should’ve done reviews for both places. Oops. I guess I’m the slacker then. Just me. Oh well.

Anyway, as I try to redeem myself here, let’s just move on to this week’s adventure.

It was Shane’s pick this week, and he chose the Blue Willow Lounge in Macedonia. Which he informed us on the drive there was “supposedly the oldest bar in Macedonia.” Now, I’m not exactly sure where he got this information – but let’s just say that based on that little tidbit alone I had a slightly different picture of the place painted in my mind. You know, one of those bars in a building that kind of looks like it could be someone’s house, with the same 5 cars always parked out front, and the walls faintly yellowed with the memories of pre-smoking ban years gone by.

Yeah, no, that’s not what this is. And unless they didn’t allow bars in Macedonia prior to the big strip mall building spree of the 90’s, I really have to say I kinda doubt his source on this one.

But whatever.

The inside of the Blue Willow Lounge is similar to any strip plaza bar/restaurant – large bar at the back of the room, open area with tables that can be moved out of the way to create a dance floor, TVs on the walls, and no windows other than the large ones in front. The bar area was somewhat crowded when we arrived, so we chose to sit at one of the tables – and for the rest of the evening we were pretty much the only ones NOT seated at the bar. Because we like to make it obvious we’re new to the place.

And this is definitely a “regulars” kind of place – from the bikers to the guy in a dress shirt and tie, you can tell they all frequent the place often. But that being said, we never felt unwelcome, or like that classic movie scene where the music screeches to a halt when the obvious out-of-place people enter the room.

The service was excellent, especially considering that the bartender was also the only waitress, and that meant that she had to keep leaving the bar in order to check on our lone table out on the floor. She was very personable, gave good recommendations when we said we’d never been there before and asked what was good on the menu, and even called Ted a pussy when he opted for the short beer instead of the tall in the second round. I like her spirit.

Ted learns a valuable lesson about downsizing

Ted learns a valuable lesson about downsizing

Summer Shandy was still on tap, so you know what Amanda and I ordered. Shane went with the Miller Lite, and Ted chose Christmas Ale. Which you would think might have given him a pass on that whole second round short thing, but no dice. Like I said, I like her spirit.

Wednesdays are “build a burger” nights, which basically means you can put any toppings you want on a burger for $5.95. We all elected to do this, with various toppings that I can’t keep track of now. Let’s just say that all of our burgers were delicious. These were definitely not freezer-to-grill patties – they’re made fresh with each order, and you can tell. Lots of flavor, and they definitely didn’t skimp on the toppings. All burgers come with fries, or you can get chips or waffle fries for $1.00 more. I elected for the waffle fries, because, well, why not.

Bar food at its best

Bar food at its best

Shane promptly scooped up Ted's discarded cheese. We're all friends like that.

Shane promptly scooped up Ted’s discarded cheese. We’re all friends like that.

Shane's burger, pre-extra cheese donation

Shane’s burger, pre-extra cheese donation

Waffle fries with cheese. Takes me back to college.

Waffle fries with cheese. Takes me back to college.

Our waitress had recommended the burgers (with good reason) and also mentioned everyone raves about the wings … so of course after they finished their burgers the boys ordered 12 wings to split, too. Oh yeah and we had calamari for an appetizer. Again, how we all don’t weigh 400 lbs is beyond my own personal comprehension. Thank you good metabolism.

Nothing like a little post-meal appetizer to keep the metabolism running

Nothing like a little post-meal appetizer to keep the metabolism running

She also recommended the Philly steak sandwich, but we didn’t order that. Surprisngly. And while we didn’t partake in any of the bucket/beer specials, there were about 87 different signs on the wall touting various ones, so I guess it was nice to know the option existed.

Boatloads of bucket specials. And still empty wall space for more.

Boatloads of bucket specials. And still empty wall space for more.

Overall, the Blue Willow is a great little hidden gem of a place. They played good music on the jukebox … although the randomness caught us off guard a few times (otherwise known as “how to go from Kenny Chesney to Candlebox in 2.3 seconds”). And while we didn’t go make friends at the bar, no one treated us like new people who were to be avoided. We also noticed the bar bowling machine in the corner –  one of the few left around anymore, I think, and about the only thing I noticed in the place that might’ve helped support Shane’s “oldest bar” claim. We didn’t play it, but by the time we left I think we had convinced ourselves that we should TOTALLY form a team and start a league there if they didn’t have one already. Because, you know, we always come up with our best ideas on Wednesdays after a few beers. Ha.

Our fictitious bar bowling team totally rocks!

Our fictitious bar bowling team totally rocks!

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks: Once again, I stopped listening at Summer Shandy. But the draft list wasn’t very extensive (5-6 beers I think), and we never made it to the bottle list. There were several posters on the walls advertising bucket specials on domestics though.
Food:
Burgers = awesome. Enough said.
Service: Excellent. And bonus points for calling Ted out when he ordered a short beer in the second round.
Overall: I venture to say we might be back to this one again. While it’s a bit out of our immediate area, the food and service were good enough that I could see us heading back. As long as Ted remembers his drinking shoes anyway.

Next Pick: Steph