Who are we?

Sticky

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

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

WTGW 1/22/20: Puckers, Canton

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If we’ve been to a place before but can’t locate the review before we decide to go back, is it really a revisit?

This would be the WTGW version of the philosophical question “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Cassi said that she had tried looking up Pucker’s on this blog before she picked it for this visit, because she didn’t believe we couldn’t have missed it on all of our years of doing this. But while most places come up in a Google search with a link to our site, this one for whatever reason did not.

Guess that’s my cue to up our SEM game.

I’m not gonna lie, the name did sound familiar. The parking lot also make us stop and think that perhaps this was someplace we might’ve been before. But honestly, we’ve said that to ourselves when faced with pretty much any bar at the end of a non-descript strip plaza with other less-than-interesting tenants like a BMV, a take out pizza place, and something called “Ladies Super Fitness.”

I’m not sure what that says about us exactly, but I’m sure it’s not something we want to mention in certain crowds of people.

But it wasn’t until we got inside the front door that it all came back to me, and suddenly I could remember the exact booth we sat in and what we ordered.

Shane still wasn’t convinced, though, until we sat down (not in the same booth, but on the opposite side of the restaurant) and opened the menus, and he immediately zoned in on something called “bottle caps.” Which happen to be deep fried jalapeños.

And then it all apparently came rushing back.

Nothing like a little bit of fried pepper appetizers to jog your memory. Again, probably not something we want to mention in select company.

Once it was clear that we had actually set foot in this place previously, Shane became convinced that he must’ve been the one to discover this magical world of fried apps and burgers … to which I countered those were strong words for someone who 10 minutes prior didn’t even remember he’d even been there before in the first place.

WHAT WE ORDERED

And after all that, surprisingly no one ordered the bottle caps this time around. What?!?!?

But when asked Ted claimed it was because he didn’t see them on the menu this time around. Huh. So general blindness is the defense he’s going with, I guess.

Instead he ordered fried banana peppers. So, similar.

Shane and I started with soft pretzels.

Cassi and Jason opted for something called the Hushpuckers. Which in case you don’t speak “pucker,” are shredded potato bites covered with bacon ranch dressing.

I got the fried pickle burger – which is exactly what it sounds like, a burger with fried pickles on it – and a side salad.

Shane got the Viking burger – a patty adorned with bacon, cheddar cheese and french fries – and a side of onion rings. Because, you know, the fries are already on the sandwich, no use getting more of those.

Jason said to hell with that logic, also getting the Viking burger, but keeping the fries as a side.

Also, if you’ve noticed, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that at least moderately healthy Shane has learned to take a back seat on Wednesdays. Although he was still struggling through sipping tequila and sodas without making a bitter beer face.

Because he was “just in the mood for a chicken sandwich,” Ted got the $5.00 chicken sandwich special with the spicy garlic wing sauce.

Cassi got the spicy teriyaki boneless wings and a house salad.

THE VERDICT

My burger was good. It was done the way I asked and the fried pickles on it were really tasty. It was like getting just a taste of the app, without having to order the full thing. And since I liked the fried pickles the last time around I’m glad they haven’t changed.

The only thing I wasn’t really a fan of, though, was the bun. As someone who prides herself in using her carb calories wisely, I would’ve preferred something with more flavor.

I mean, can’t we all just agree to use ciabatta bread for all sandwiches? That would make life so much easier.

Cassi said the wings were pretty spicy, but also very good. She also got a little extra mental energy burn as she spent about five minutes extracting all of the olives that she didn’t know would be on her salad. Fun times.

In a strange twist, Ted didn’t eat all of his fried banana peppers. It was somewhat awkward when the server had to ask him if he wanted a box.

He said the chicken sandwich was OK, nothing great but nothing awful either.

After all the fuss of getting onion rings as a side, Shane found then to be the least impressive part of his meal. So he probably should’ve just stuck with the fries after all. Or maybe gone with an entirely different order all together, because the burger was “just OK.” It definitely wasn’t gaining entry onto any top 5 lists. And we all know the high honor that is Shane’s constantly evolving Top 5 list, so if you can’t make it there then you probably don’t even deserve to be called a burger.

Jason agreed.

The kicker of the evening came when our server committed the mortal error of all restaurant visits: bringing us the checks before we indicated that we were remotely ready to leave. Because nothing says “we’d love to have you stay and continue spending money on more alcohol” like dropping off the check without checking to see if we were actually finished with our evening.

Maybe in another five years we’ll once again debate how memorable our last visit was to Pucker’s as we stand in the parking lot staring at the Ladies Super Fitness. Anyone up for a takeout pizza instead?

This pick by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph
Original pick by Shane, which he was very concerned about making known

WTGW 1/8/20: Tiki Underground, Boston Heights

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Happy New Year, WTGW-ers!

Sorry for the absence, but with major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Wednesdays this year, we had to sit a few weeks out. I mean, as much as we love showcasing our functioning alcoholism and ability to continuously outsmart the odds of a heart attack with cholesterol-laded foods … OK, so really the holidays aren’t much different than any normal Wednesday for us, other than they provide an opportunity to share those qualities with our families, in the comfort of our own homes.

So there’s that.

But here we are in 2020, and nothing says crisp January evening like a tiki bar, am I right?

Tiki Underground has actually been a kind of “edge of the list” pick for the group for a bit now, ever since it opened in 2017(ish?).  I think part of the reason we were waiting to pick it was because this ill-fated location never seemed to house any sort of restaurant for too long of a time period, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up that it might be something we liked that would also stick around.

Case in point, we’ve been to this building when it was a Mexican restaurant (pre-blog) … and then when it was a sports bar called Sidelines … not on a Wednesday, but instead for an Ohio State/Michigan football Saturday after we got kicked out of another place for showing up and walking in the unlocked door 10 minutes before opening time. Seems those owners might be related to the folks who own Harmon’s Pub down in Canton?

But those places closed in a relatively short span – we’ve only been doing this since 2013, kids – and so it’s not a stretch to say that we didn’t really have high hopes for this new place, especially with a theme this specific. If a sports bar can’t make it, can we seriously hedge our bets on Hawaiian drinks and Polynesian cooking?

Apparently, we can, since it’s still open three years later. Or, someone can, anyway. It just may not be us.

Did I spoil the suspense there?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So let’s talk about the drinks first, because there’s clearly a lot going on here in that department.

That’s a lot of words that all mean “alcohol” in some way.

I mean, it is a tiki bar, after all, and drinks are kind of the main point. So I guess they’re kind of winning in that respect?

Although they may want to turn up the lighting in the place a smidge so that we can read what is in said drinks. And before you joke about calling us old – which, full disclosure, we did to Ted when he pulled his phone out to use the flashlight feature just to read the menu – we weren’t the only ones who went down that road. I mean, if you can’t tell from the photos, it was pretty unlit in this place. There were lights behind the bar, but everywhere else they were certainly more decorative than functional.

Also, who doesn’t want to see … whatever this is … more clearly? Because we all love having nightmares.

So once we could finally read the menu, we discovered lots of rum drinks – which is on brand for this whole island theme. But for those of you who prefer to avoid the hard alcohol, they do also have regular beer. In fact a whole section of “old man beers” like PBR ($2 on Wednesdays!) and Bud Lite. And White Claw and wines.

I was the only one to order something fun.

The food special for Wednesday’s is an “adult happy meal.” Which is exactly what it sounds like it should be – a burger and fries, with a beer. At $10 it’s a little more pricey than McDonald’s … but, well … beer.

Jason got that.

Ted started out with edamame as his appetizer.

If you’re thinking that looks a little odd … well, so were we. It arrived already shelled, which is not how we’re used to seeing that particular dish served. Ted said he would offer to share it with us, but it would’ve been a little strange since we would all need forks.

He also got 12 of the Thai chili wings – which I don’t have a photo of because when I looked back a them later the darkness made them just look like giant lumps – and the garlic fries

Cassi and Jason ordered the Crab Rangoon for their app. See above note as to why there is no photo of this dish.

Have we mentioned it was dark in this place?

And then Cassi got six of the boneless garlic parm buffalo wings.

If you think that photo is bad, just imagine what the one of Ted’s wings and of the crab Rangoon looked like. This is clearly not the place to be taking any magazine quality food photos.

I got the chicken soft tacos and a side salad.

Shane ordered the same thing. Yep, the exact same thing. If you’re thinking that sounds strange, and that I also didn’t mention an appetizer for us … well, now might be a good time to mention that Healthy Shane has rejoined the group, as he seems to pretty much every January. Because we all love the fun of watching him watch all of us eat completely unhealthy meals – or in this case, drool over just the smell of the crab rangoon when it arrived at the table – and drinks we actually want to taste while he complains about still being hungry and makes a bitter beer face every time he sips his tequila and soda.

THE VERDICT

Unfortunately for Shane, Cassi confirmed that the crab rangoon tasted as good as it smelled.

However, she was less impressed with the sauce that was on her wings. It was also the same sauce that was on Ted’s fries, and he wasn’t crazy about it either.

So the moral is, avoid the garlic sauce.

Although if you ask Ted, he might tell you to just avoid the whole place altogether. Between the weird edamame, wings that were breaded more than he likes and a not-so-delicious sauce on the fries, it was pretty much a strike out for him. Add to that all of the mixed drinks being laden with rum and other random mixers Ted isn’t a fan of. And most of the beers were also not-Ted-friendly, which meant the only thing he could drink was a Guinness.

So yeah, it definitely earned less than a thumbs up in his book. He said the only redeeming factor for him was the service, which was decent. Sort of.

Shane and I thought the tacos were good. They kind of had a sweet taste to them, but they were pretty tasty. But I would much rather come back on Thursdays, though, when they’re only $5 for three tacos.

The place does have some decent specials, and some of the food is better than expected. But I’m not sure the “some” here was enough to warrant us a return visit. For certain we know we don’t want to return when the band from this particular night was back on stage. And I use the term “band” lightly, as it was really just a guy with a microphone and guitar, and a really, really loud speaker system. To say it was a little bit intense for the crowd of less than 10 that was in place on this particular evening would be an understatement. We probably could’ve reversed the lighting and sound levels in the place and made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 12/21/19: Harmon’s Pub / That Christmas Bar, Canton

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Welcome to Harmon’s Pub: where the sign at the entrance says “seat yourself” but more than half of the open tables have “reserved” signs on them. How does that work, exactly? Do you have to time travel yourself into the future to get yourself a table so that you can place the sign before you actually arrive?

Hmmm.

And then when you finally do find an open table that hasn’t been previously reserved … you get legit yelled at by staff because putting a fifth person at the end of the booth would apparently be a fire hazard. Like, not a friendly “hey, I know it’s busy and you just want to grab a table but unfortunately we can’t have you sit like that.” Or a “you know what, that won’t work, but let me help you find another spot.” Nope, like screamed at because apparently our sitting in that location would cause a literal logjam to the stampede that would surely occur should someone decide to strike a match anywhere in the close vicinity.

And who says Canton isn’t hospitable? We should totally alert the CVB of a new campaign idea.

Luckily a different server saw us looking like we might just head for the hills and perhaps say something unfavorable about our experience (who, us??) and decided to step in. She found another booth on the opposite side of the restaurant in an area that seemingly supported end-of-the-table dining and asked the party of two occupying it if they would kindly switch with us.

And they did.

And we then sent them a drink.

See what being nice gets you, kids? Alcoholism. Let that be a life lesson for you.

Another good life lesson: don’t be an asshat when someone asks you is they can use one of the five unoccupied chairs from your table. Like I get that maybe other people are going to come sit with you eventually, or maybe your group of imaginary friends you’ve invited out for the evening don’t like to be crowded … but, like, our REAL LIVE friend is standing right here and kind of wanting to take a load off to enjoy the meal he’s anxiously waiting to order, so perhaps you can just calm the eff down there, Susan?

This is also how NOT to have us send you a drink as a thank you, even though you seem like you could use about 27 just to put you in any sort of enjoyable mood this evening.

It’s four days before Christmas, folks. Are you feeling festive yet? I mean, the beginning of our trip this week is kind of like the restaurant equivalent of heading to the mall during the holiday season.

WHAT WE ORDERED

But for all our troubles, at least they have White Claw! Yay!

And trivia, but that’s like a more muted yay.

Speaking of trivia, what’s one thing Ted will always order if it’s on any menu, anywhere?

If you answered meat on a stick, you’ve obviously been reading along with us for a hot minute. But yes, that’s one thing that Ted seemingly cannot resist in any restaurant setting. In this case, it was steak – but he has been known to order a lamb lollipop from time to time as well. So for future reference, pretty much meat of any kind is acceptable, as long as its on a stick.

So. Many. Jokes.

He also got the spicy garlic wings.

Fewer jokes, unless we want to go down the path of the fated burger and wing night at the Springfield Tavern.

Shane and I got the sausage dip as an app, as did Cassi and Jason.

Because you can never have enough sausage …. ok, never mind, between that and the meat on a stick story it seems we’re traveling down a dangerous road.

Anyway.

I got the bacon pretzel burger with a side salad.

Shane got the Reuben, after asking the server the age-old question of preference between that and a burger of any kind.

The server recommended the Reuben … and then in what I can only assume was an attempt to be helpful, but since she doesn’t know us at all she has no idea the implications of what she’s about to suggest … she points to me and says “well since she ordered a burger, you can always just split your orders so you each can try the other’s.”

As if. Clearly she doesn’t read this blog, or she would know that SHANE DOESN’T SHARE FOOD.

I mean, how many times do we need to share this GIF on this blog? I mean, before I revert to photoshop magic and change Joey’s face to Shane’s anyway.

I clearly need more free time in my life for these important projects.

Cassi got the wings dinner.

So it’s like wings, but with sides. Interesting concept. It seems like we’ve been ordering this in other forms for quite some time now, right? How nice of them to just make it a compact little ordering process for us.

Jason got the Western burger with fries, along with an order of BBQ wings.

Clearly we don’t have enough food here.

THE VERDICT

Remember that time just a few minutes ago when Shane almost ordered a burger? Well it’s a good thing he didn’t, because having just TWO arrive at the table – mine and Jason’s – was clearly more than our server could handle. She literally couldn’t tell them apart, and had to request assistance to do so.

I mean, I hate to state the obvious and all … but one of them is literally named a “pretzel burger,” which – in my mind anyway – would point a pretty direct finger at the burger that was positioned on a pretzel bun, and not a regular bun. Call me logical and all. But, like, you don’t even have to see the condiments or toppings to figure this part out.

Well since we’re talking about that part already, I should point out that was my favorite part of the sandwich. The actual burger was just OK. So, I guess Jason could’ve taken that part, but just saved me the bun?

Although the burger was actually was the same size as the bun, and we all know that’s a rarity.

Ted’s steak on a stick didn’t exactly rate in his Top 3, but it was still good.

The fact that he can even have a Top 3 in this category is something that should be noted here. I’m not sure what that note is, exactly, but it’s been taken.

He also said that the wings could’ve been spicier.

The jury was out on the sausage dip, with Cassi and Jason liking it, but Shane and I thinking it was a little … strange. Maybe it’s harkening back to our tailgating days where we just heated up some sausage crumbles and Velveeta in a crock pot and called it a hearty dip, but we weren’t crazy about all of the peppers and other things hanging out in this dip. We would’ve preferred just the basics.

Shane liked the Reuben a lot. So the server gets the points for that assist on that one.

Cassi liked her wing dinner, she said that the breading on the boneless wings was really good. But said that the service really soured the visit in general.

Which we would all agree was truthful. Aside from the whole “let’s yell at the new people for trying to seat themselves in an area they aren’t supposed to even though we didn’t tell them it was off limits” debacle that started the night … and the whole “let’s get the chef to come out and inspect the burger situation because I can’t tell a pretzel bun for a regular one” … our  server at our “approved” table was a bit touch and go.

For instance, when a server asks you, after you’ve placed your order for a sandwich, “fries with that?” … well, you kind of think that they’re included, right, and the server is just asking you if that’s an OK option or if you’d like to substitute out, no?

Um, no. Each of those side orders was $2-$3, which we didn’t know until we got the bill. I mean, kudos to her for upselling us, but that sales tactic is a little risky in my opinion.

On top of that, Cassi got charged for a side salad when her meal was a dinner – we’ve been over this already – and should’ve had a salad and tater tots included. So much for revolutionizing the way we order. I take it all back. We’re clearly doing just fine on our own, thank you very much.

Probably the saddest part about our disappointment at Harmon’s Pub is that we had hoped we might have made this a more frequent location, thanks to it’s proximity to That Pop-Up Bar, located across the street.

If you haven’t heard of this place yet, it’s a bar that continuously changes themes, based on the time of year. Being that we’re four days out from Christmas, we of course wanted to make a stop here while it’s themed as “That Christmas Bar.”

I mean, we had to wash the taste of Blitzen’s out of our mouth, right?

And that we did, only in Shane’s case it was replaced with the taste of … well … bourbon. And lots of it.

Let’s just say that this warning on the menu is legit,folks. 

But overall this place was worth the price of the inhospitable nature of our dinner choice across the street and the bourbon hangover that Shane will likely be facing tomorrow. From the décor to the music to the drink specials to the crowd of people under the age of 90 … this is what pop up Christmas bars should be like.

We can’t wait to see what the next theme is. This may become a game to see who can pick the best place nearby each time it changes?

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Shane

WTGW 12/11/19: Missing Falls Brewery, Akron

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Here’s a quick lesson in how to be confusing: open two breweries within a relatively short span of time from one another, in neighboring areas about eight miles apart … and then give them very similar sounding names.

Good thinking.

Which is the story behind how our GPS was trying to direct us to Missing Mountain Brewery in Cuyahoga Falls – which we’ve tried to go to at least three times now (including this magical night) but haven’t seemed to find the secret password needed in order to get a table in their seat yourself environment – when really we wanted to go to Missing Falls Brewery – which is located in the same building as R. Shea’s newest location near downtown Akron, and Ted’s pick this week.

Seriously, was there some sort of rule that came out in 2018 that all new breweries had to have the word “missing” in them? Does no one own a thesaurus?

OK then.

Side note, we were at the new R Shea’s location a few months ago for a Saturday night out, and we really liked it. I mean, we’re still partial to the original location in the Valley, but with the same great beer selection and expanded food options, we definitely enjoyed visiting this location as well.

Missing Falls looks very similar inside to R. Shea’s – the open industrial look showcasing that the building was once a factory, a big room with a bar in the center and several tables scattered around. There’s also a patio space outside, but since it was about 20 degrees on this December evening, we wisely opted to stay indoors.

And in this case it was also wise because being outdoors would’ve made it that much harder to get to the bar every time we needed to order something. That’s right, Missing Falls features our least favorite system of ordering, where instead of having servers, you have to go up to the bar and place your orders yourself. Because that always bodes well for us.

Here’s looking at you, Erie St Kitchen. Oh the memories.

We also walked into the space in the midst of some sort of card game at several of the tables. A look at the website after the fact confirms it was a euchre tournament. But without that knowledge in the moment it was kind of walking what you thought would be just a house party, and discovering it’s really a championship game night … and that you had forgotten to bring the game board, team, and rule book. So we’ll just drink and eat all the food then, I guess. Cool. I mean, that’s really kind of our usual thing anyway.

WHAT WE ORDERED

So the beer specialty at Missing Falls seems to be of the IPA variety, which Shane somehow glossed over when reading the descriptions and ended up ordering a few of as part of his flight. And we can l guess just how happy that made him, no?

Oops.

I think part of the reason he missed that, though, was because we were all super excited to see that there were about five different varieties of chips offered on the menu. Flavored potato chips?  And not just BBQ, exotic sounding things like Maui Onion, Sriracha Honey, and whatever the hell Hai Poke Wonton might be? Yes please, sign us up.

Gentle PSA: this is what arrives when you order those.

I mean, they are the advertised flavors. And full disclosure, they are still awesome. But I kind of feel like they were cheating a bit with the product description here. The menu specifically points out that all chips are gluten free, cholesterol free, kosher, cooked in peanut oil, come in these tasty flavors … that, oh yeah, let’s not bother to mention, we didn’t make here ourselves. Our bad.

Or maybe they should just team up with The Lockview, home of the Lawson’s French Onion dip served at our table in the actual plastic tub like they just bought it at the corner store down the street.

Because we seem to be in a groove recenty of everyone at the table ordering the same thing, it makes sense that Shane, Cassi and Ted all got the same sandwich, The Hitman.

Before you think maybe you’ve had too many beers through the wonder of osmosis and this post, those really are three different pictures of the same sandwich, just with different chips.

See also: making up for the times I forgot to take photos of things with a million pictures of one sandwich. Whatevs.

I got the El Dorado pizza.

Just one photo, although it kind of almost doesn’t fit, so I guess I could’ve taken two?

Jason got the BBQ wrap with the BBQ chips.

Cassi and Jason also ordered the pretzels as an app, and were predictably thrilled when it showed up with their meals instead of ahead of time as the word appetizer would imply.

THE VERDICT

So if you like the feeling of your mouth being engulfed in flames, you should definitely order exactly what I did. Sriracha chips paired with a pizza featuring sriracha sauce drizzled on top may have been slight overkill. Or at least a killer on my taste buds. But what they tasted before dying out was definitely enjoyable.

The pretzels were also winners of the evening. I commented that they looked delicious, to which Cassi relied that “oh they sure are.” And everyone said that they liked the sandwiches also. I didn’t hear any notes about Top 5 material or anything like that, but perhaps that’s just because that list isn’t as easily maintained as the burger and wings lists, since, you know, we typically order those every week.

(If you haven’t guessed, Missing Falls doesn’t offer burgers or wings, so therefore that’s why this was a rare week with neither option showcased on our table. I’m sure we’ll be back to normal next week.)

But even though the food was decent, we all had to agree that the beers were a disappointment – and probably the biggest hinderance to a revisit decision in the future for us. Of course we’ve all learned by now that product descriptions are misleading – I’ve been suckered in far too many times by the words “hints of caramel and chocolate,” only then to be served a glass of something the consistency of motor oil that tastes like tree bark. But even so, there’s still usually one or two on a flight that we order on a whim and end up surprising us.

And even though Shane was struggling through this paradise of IPAs, you would think that Jason and Ted – who typically enjoy variations of them – would find something they enjoyed.

Nope. There just wasn’t a clear standout, despite ordering across the board and trying things we usually lean toward.

And this was where the location of Missing Falls Brewery may be a hinderance to them … because we all agreed after we finished our meals that, to be perfectly honest, if we were going to be in downtown Akron – and in the same literal building as R. Shea’s – we would just rather go there, and have beers that we already know we enjoy.

And so that’s where we ended the night. We still like the location in the Valley better than the one downtown, but it was still a better option than the wealth of IPAs and tree bark flavored motor oil we would’ve continued with at Missing Falls.

I think we discovered what the “missing” stands for in this instance. We’ll bring you a few flavor suggestions along with that thesaurus next time around.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

WTGW 11/26/19: Kepner’s / Blitzen’s, Hudson

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Happy Night Before Thanksgiving!

Or, depending on your preference …

Happy Biggest Going Out Night of the Year!

So, you know, no pressure on this pick to be – wait for it – legendary or anything.

I think we’ve all had our rounds at having to choose on this night, seeing as it’s the one “holiday” that always falls on our favorite night of the week. We’ve seen the night Shane got food poisoning and left me to cook my first ever 22lb turkey for his entire family the next day, the night we all got into a heated discussion about the type of breading used on a fish dinner and then made Ted sit in a stack of booster seats (yes, at a bar), the night of many shots, and of course last year’s epic choice of the strangest cabana we’ve ever sat in.

Which brings us to 2019, and our visit to Kepner’s. We had a lengthy conversation about whether this should actually be classified as a revisit, since honestly we’ve been to this place about 4 billion times over the years. Most notably, we celebrated Ted’s birthday here one year (not on a Wednesday), and it’s the place where previous WTGW team members Amanda and Jerrid actually met for the first time (on a Wednesday but when I was out of town so it wasn’t an “official” outing).

But somehow, despite all these visits and feeling like this is one of our go-to divey bars on this side of town – and honestly probably the only one allowed within Hudson city limits –  we just never managed to officially review it.

So here we are.

I specifically chose Kepner’s not only to finally make them WTGW official, but also because we’d heard that there was a new Christmas-themed popup bar called Blitzen’s that was celebrating their opening night this same night. And what says Happy Night Before Thanksgiving like an entire bar dedicated to holiday decorations, music and themed drinks?

We’ll come back to that later. First, let’s eat.

WHAT WE ORDERED

One of the things we love most about Kepner’s is that despite being small and having a divey, neighborhoody feel, they actually have a decent list of craft beers and ciders in bottles/cans, and things other than Bud Light on draft.

In fact, when Shane literally tried to get a Bud Light on draft, he was told that they only have it in bottles, and that Miller Lite was the domestic draft of choice.

So there’s that.

Cassi and I both settled on bottles of a mango habenero cider that according to the description was also aged in a tequila barrel. Well now that just seems like a lot of things all thrown together in one big pot to stew, now doesn’t it?  But, because we all love starting the night with complicated alcohols, we took a chance.

I’m happy to say it was worth it.

Ted, Cassi and I all went through the same progression of thought on what to order for our meals:
Choice #1, the turkey club. Which sounded good under normal circumstances, but then again maybe starting on the turkey consumption 24 hours before Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t the best choice. I mean, given that we also would also be staring at leftovers for much of the forseeable future.
OK, so Choice #2, wings. But again with the poultry.
So then we’re at Choice #3, burgers. But that came with a sidebar a) which burger, since each specialty option had at least one condiment included on the list that we weren’t crazy about.

Yep, this is us, folks. Making dinner as complicated as possible since 2013.

And yet also so simple at the same time … anyone shocked that two of those items on the list were burgers and wings? Anyone? Bueller?

Didn’t think so.

Shane and Ted remembered a burger being on the menu during one of our previous visits that they really loved (called the Clocktower, maybe?), but it seemed to have gone MIA this time around. Because you know how much we love when that happens.

Almost as much as we love when there are things available in the kitchen that aren’t on any of the menus, so we have to rely on the server to maybe – or not – tell us about them. And then maybe – or not – change our minds about what to order after we’ve already scoured the menu for 10 minutes trying to decide what to order. That’s a fun game.

Which we played on this evening, as Jason was all set to order the Ohio State burger, until the server mentioned to us that there was this special “non-menu” burger, which I can’t remember the name of but the description of had something to do with two burger patties being dusted with brown sugar and grilled, then topped with bacon and cheese.

Jason caved and ordered that.

I was surprised Shane didn’t follow suit. He claimed it was because of Thanksgiving being tomorrow, and that he didn’t want to eat that much tonight. Um, who is this person and what have you done with my husband? Anyone remember the full sheet pizza incident?

Instead he got the Unreserved burger, along with, well everyone else at the table except for Jason.

Side note, in case you’re wondering, the house sauce is actually Worcestershire. That will save you the question that we asked the server. Because calling it a “house sauce” when it’s really a simple and already known condiment is always way less complicated than just putting said condiment in the menu description, no?

Ted also got six of the dry rub Cajun wings.

Cassi and Jason got the chorizo stuffed mushrooms as an app, which arrived looking like mini sausage patties. I think “stuffed” should be replaced with “overflowing.”

Cassi joked that they came served on her Grandma’s china. So Thanksgiving came a little early here at Kepner’s.

THE VERDICT

Cassi thought the texture of the stuffed mushrooms was a little strange, but luckily Jason liked them a lot and was willing to clean up what she didn’t want.

Ted said the wings didn’t have a lot of flavor. And his sweet potato fries were salty, which was a new thing that he didn’t remember from our past visits. Or, really, any visit anywhere. Who puts salt on sweet potato fries?

Well other than Cassi, but that’s a whole other thing.

In any case, Ted felt bad giving Kepner’s a bad review, since this is probably the first time it’s ever fallen under that category for us. Our notariety must have come off the radar this time and they caved under the pressure of our first “real” visit.

I almost wrote that without laughing.

But don’t worry, it wasn’t all off-kilter this time around, as the burgers were truly the usual deliciousness we’ve come to expect from this place. I mean, Jason even threw out the words “Top Three” when referencing that special burger. And we all know that’s high praise.

I mean, it almost doesn’t seem fair to other burgers, am I right?

Although because it also wasn’t technically on the menu, we all know that also means we should be get too attached to it, lest it be gone forever after tonight. But here’s hoping.

And here’s also hoping that the service we got tonight was more like Ted’s wings – an abnormality from what we’re used to – than the new norm. Because it was … well … let’s just say it wasn’t good. It was very inconsistent, and while I get that the upstairs area was busy, it’s also only like 10 tables worth of customers so it’s not like even if every table is full we’re talking about a giant crowd or anything.

We also need to talk about the pricing for a minute. Remember that draft Miller Lite that Shane begrudgingly ordered? Yeah, it was $5.50. For a draft domestic, and not in a giant glass like we’ve happily encountered at other locales. And those interesting sounding ciders that Cassi and I ordered? $7 each. For bottled ciders. So, yeah. I switched to a different one after the first round, but that only saved me $1 a bottle. Guess apples really are going out of season?

Ted and Jason were the smartest ones at the table, getting something called the “House IPA” for $3 each. Which if we’re taking a cue from the “house sauce” revelation, was probably just a Lagunitas served with a fancy name.

So speaking of things in disguise … let’s move in to the visit to that holiday themed pop up bar, Blitzen’s, next door.

Yeah, I’m not even sure what to say about this place, other than that our group was horribly out of place there. Like, imagine a bar that’s trying to be cool and trendy with the whole popup holiday thing that seems to be the rage right now … but like 95% of the people in the place were probably approaching their teenage years when the original It’s a Wonderful Life first came out.

Because nothing says trendy like sharing a space at the bar next to your Grandma.

And the drinks – while very tasty – just honestly didn’t seem worth the $8 – $10 each that they were charging. I’m pretty positive had we stayed there for more than one round we probably could’ve easily spent more on just drinks than we did collectively on both meals and drinks next door.

But we did get these cool holiday headbands, though

Shane apparently took the holiday camoflauge option, as he looks like he’s blending into the background. But only facing that direction. Had the other direction been the backdrop what you would’ve seen was pretty much just the restaurant Hudson’s – who holds the liquor license for Blitzen’s – with some sparse holiday decorations thrown up. And more folks seemingly out way too late for the dinner service for their age group. Is the group tour bus late in picking everyone up?

And so we left, and ended the annual “night of more than one stop since we’re apparently pretending we don’t have family get togethers tomorrow” at Bailey Rd Tavern. Where all great nights end up, am I right?

I mean, how much more proof do you need?

And next year, this post will likely be classified as the night we hit two dive bars, with a stop for some expensive cocktails with our grandparents in between. Good times.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 11/20/19: Revisit – 3 Brothers, North Canton

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This revisit pick is only about a billion years in the making. Cassi has been holding this pick for just the right time, after listening to me, Ted and Shane rave about the desserts and pickles pretty much every other time we all get together. I mean, it’s only the top of the scale by which all other fried pickles in our lives have been compared since our first visit in (look up year). And she had to choose carefully on the season, since pumpkin love is only available in dessert form in the fall.

And so begins the story of how Shane and I spent our anniversary amidst fried pickles, fish tacos, and pumpkin love. Because that’s a sentence you like to lead with and then walk away with little to no explanation.

We were slightly shocked when we walked into 3 Brothers and found the place not at all busy. That point will be relevant later, I promise.

But other than that the place seemed to be pretty much everything we remembered.  Right down to the strange “everything ends in 3’s” theme on the menu pricing, and most of the options available.

WHAT WE ORDERED

About 3.2 seconds after sitting down we placed our order(s) for pickles. Yep, that’s right, we ordered three separate orders, for a group of five people. Because 3/5 of the table already knew the magic that would be arriving at the table, and that we wouldn’t want to share.

We also usually take offense to servers that ask about food before we’ve even had a chance to remove our coats and open a menu, but in this case I think we all pretty much just screamed the word pickles at the poor girl as she approached the table, since that was a good portion of the reason we were even dining here this evening. And of course she should know that, right?

So that’s a fun way to start the night.

We spent far more time with the drink menu, which we were still perusing when the server arrived and we jumped down her throat about pickles. They didn’t have much in the way of ciders (say it one more time for the people in the back, Angry Orchard is not enough of an option) or craft beers, and the mixed specialty drinks seemed a tad on the expensive side.

Cassi and I ended up with mixed drinks, which we promptly swapped out after the first round, and the guys all went with draft beers.

In addition to the pickles, Cassi and Jason also got the loaded fries as an app.

Jason got six of the BBQ wings and something called the Bat Boy fish sandwich. Which sounds weird when you don’t know that the menu has a sports theme.

Cassi was still kind of wanting to order a Philly after last week’s less than satisfying experience with the sandwich she ordered at Two Bucks, but decided instead to go with the fish tacos after Ted raved about how good they were the last time he got them here.

I also chose the fish tacos and a side salad.

Keeping with the fish theme, Ted went with the blackened salmon.

Shane got the shortstop sliders and six of the Cajun wings. Which arrived looking like a meal for a tiny person, so of course we all had to ask him if he would be OK with just that amount of food.

He responded that he was of course leaving room for the infamous dessert of all desserts, pumpkin love. Well that seems logical enough.

But we ordered it and relative to our food it took about a year longer to come to the table. It was weird because someone other than our server took the order then our server came over to ask if we needed anything and we said someone else just ok our smdessert order and she explained he’s training … and then they all disappeared.

THE VERDICT

Cassi commented after about two bites that the pickles were everything we made them out to be.

I mean, we did make her think long and hard in comparison to the experience at Dilly D’s, but it still took longer for me to type that sentence than it did for her to exclaim that these were so much better.

Although it should be noted that at the end of the meal we saw Ted give up a plate to the server that still had some pickles on it, and of course we all had to roast him for being wasteful.

In contrast to the pickles, Cassi was not a fan of the fish tacos. Ted was shocked to hear that, since it was his recommendation that pushed her to order them in the first place, so obviously his memory was a much better one.

Cassi’s big complaint was they they’re served cold. I had the kind of opposite complaint, in that one of mine had a burnt shell so I had to abandon that one. Would’ve been nice to have a bit more flavor though.

Ted said the salmon was good. It was well seasoned and it was a large piece for a sandwich – like it could’ve been a dinner except it was on a bun.

And now for the most disappointing portion of the trip … the pumpkin love.

I had to go back and read the last review, as I’m not sure what we were thinking that made it the best dessert ever. Because this time around it was, well, overly disappointing. Like if we’d ordered that the last time, we definitely wouldn’t have ordered it again, much less raved about it for years.

Yeah, I’m not sure what happened in the few years we’ve been away, but things seem to have gone downhill.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

WTGW 11/13/19: Two Bucks Food & Spirits, Parma

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This week’s pick brought to you by a distant relative of the genius behind the naming of retail chains like Five Below and Dollar General.

Well not really. But I think you see where I’m going here.

So Two Bucks takes it’s name, presumably, because several of the items on the menu are only $2. Like sliders, fries, domestic beers and more shots than you would think it’s advisable to offer for only a few dollars each. On top of that, several liquors, like Tito’s, are only $3, including mixers.

Alternate name: Let’s Get Sloppy Drunk for $20. But I suppose that doesn’t fit well on a storefront sign.

But speaking of signage, the interior of the place is decorated with posters advertising all kinds of specialty drinks and liquors, the most intriguing of which was probably a peanut butter whisky called Screwball. Jason was so curious that he got a shot of it (hey, it was only $4!), which we all ended up sampling after it was proclaimed to be surprisingly delicious.

They also feature a large specialty cocktail list. Because nothing goes better with alcohol than lots and lots of written words.

So, all that being said, it would make total sense that the specialty food for Two Bucks is … Mac and cheese?

Wait, what?

Yeah, not exactly what you’d expect in a place adorned in alcohol advertisements and table tents touting under $5 drink specials. But according to the menus and website, it’s been cited a “Cleveland Best” in that category.

Mac and cheese, that is. Not bad decor or drink pricing. In case that wasn’t obvious. But I’m sure we could offer some suggestions for either category, no?

Anyway.

WHAT WE ORDERED

It’s probably not surprising, then, that when we asked the server what she recommended on the menu, the top item was the Mac and Cheese. I mean, it has won major awards and all.

But that menu item was closely followed in the server’s book by … well … pretty much almost everything else on the menu. So that’s helpful.

Cassi and Jason decided to start with pretzels and beer cheese.

Ted got the cauliflower wings with the teriyaki sauce. Thus proving there always have to be wings in some form or another on our table.

Shane and I got the “two buck” fries, and – even though it was clearly stated that the pickles were served in the form of spears and not chips – the fried pickles.

We take our chances in this group. Nothing like living on the edge.

Shane also initially wanted to order the fries along with the onion tanglers, I think because they were the only two apps on the menu under the “two buck” category. OK, like I totally get the desire to be economical, but – as Cassi said – there’s a million other good sounding things on the menu and that’s what you go for?

Exactly.

Moving on to meals, Cassi got the Chicken Philly with a side of the Mac and Cheese.

Jason got the Bucket Burger – the distinctive factor of which is that it has a fried egg on it – as well as onion straws and cheese.

Ted got the same thing. Minus the cheese. Of course.

I got the Steak Philly, and also chose the Mac and Cheese as a side.

But then because I wanted a side salad also, I asked if I could just get a small salad to go along with the meal … which then turned into a whole discussion about how the Mac and Cheese only comes in one size, so really getting it as an add-on side wasn’t any different than getting the side salad as an add-on side.

So wait, what now? The side and the meal are the same size? This seems odd, no?

There was already a lot of confusion at the table after that discussion, so we decided to just trust that the server knew what she was talking about and I wouldn’t end up paying $15 for a side salad.

Apparently not sensing the confusion already at the table, Shane gets the complicated order award with his choice of the “meal” of Mac and Cheese – not the plain kind that Cassi and I would be getting as the “side” order, but the special Three Way style (which, yes, we all giggled at when he ordered, because we’re 12) – along with two of the smoked kielbasa sliders and one BBQ bacon slider.

Yes, we were all pleasantly surprised when everything arrived at our table as ordered. Because we all know that could be its own separate award category.

THE VERDICT

After all the talk about the Mac and Cheese, you’ll be happy to know that it was good. I mean, I’m not sure we agree with all of the awards – Cassi stated that it certainly wasn’t her favorite ever – but it was definitely tasty.  I thought even the “plain” version had really good flavor. And in retrospect I really could’ve just ordered that and a salad and avoided the steak philly altogether, since the sandwiches were the least favorite part of both mine and Cassi’s meals. Cassi said her chicken was super dry. And while my steak was OK, it was nothing I ever need to eat again.

I ended up taking half of my sandwich and half of the mac and cheese home. And already I think we all know that only one of those halves will actually get eaten.

Cassi liked the pretzels, but said that they could’ve used salt. Color us all as shocked about that as we are when Ted orders something without cheese.

But speaking of cheese, make sure you don’t pull a Ted and skip the cheese with the pretzels. It was delicious.

Ted said the cauliflower was good, but that it really wasn’t spicy at all. Cassi tried one and said that’s what she should’ve ordered as her meal, so presumably she enjoyed that one piece more than Ted did the entire order.

Shane actually liked the fried pickles in the spear form (can we all just agree that it’s normal to start singing a Brittany Spears song everytime that word is read or typed?). But then said he added that he was really hungry, so that could’ve affected his decision. So that’s helpful.

I thought they didn’t have much flavor. The breading wasn’t overwhelming – which was a plus – but overall they could’ve used some seasoning. On a scale of Three Brothers to Dilly D’s, it was somewhere in the middle.

Apparently another specialty of the place is a new kind of French Fry that should probably be called “scraps” or “bottom of the barrell,” as they seemed to be fashioned after the tiny bits of potato chips you find at the very bottom of the chip bag. We thought when our app came out with those little pieces that maybe we were just unlucky enough to get the end of the bag of frozen bits dumped into the fryer … but then the fries that came with Jason’s and Ted’s burgers arrived looking exactly the same, so I guess that’s just how they make them? Either that or someone in the kitchen got mad at the frozen potatoes and ran them all over with their truck out back before bringing them into the kitchen? I mean, I’d take option one out of those two, but who knows at this point. Especially with all of these $2 drink specials.

Our bill was really good considering all the food we ordered. Both apps together came to just $5.50, which is less than we pay for one at most places. And my mixed drinks off of the specialty drink menu were only $4 each, which seemed super cheap. The actual meals were the most expensive things – which may be the most logical sentence I’ve typed in this entire review. Oh, wait, Ted’s beers actually beat the cost of most of our individual meals, as it was a full third of his final bill.

Even as we left, we were all still scratching our heads at the whole vibe of this place. Like the name and the drink specials pretty blatantly scream dive bar. But the touting of the award winning, “gourmet” Mac and Cheese along with the atmosphere in the place definitely screams a need to want to be more upscale than that. It’s like the bar version of the movie Pretty Woman.

The playlist also fluctuated somewhere between 70’s rock and tech dance club, which is a grey area I’m sure no one has thought necessary to give a genre name to yet, but I have to imagine this is what would happen if Bad Company and David Guetta suddenly decided to tour together. So there’s that.

We all agreed that while Two Bucks didn’t serve up the best food we‘ve ever had – Ted summed it up perfectly when he said that everything tasted good, but nothing had a ton of flavor to it – it was still tasty and we would eat here again.

And also, cheap drinks. I’ll take Things We Will Never Complain About for $1000 please, Alex. Because we never said we couldn’t be bought.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi