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 1/18/17: Melt Bar & Grilled, Fairlawn

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OK, I know what you’re thinking … how has this group never been to Melt before? I mean, we find obscure little places like Joey’s Kendal Tavern and The Caddyshack Inn … but somehow Melt – and its ever-growing list of locations across Ohio – has been off our radar?

Yeah, no. There’s actually only one person in the WTGW group who hasn’t visited one of these restaurants before. And once I say his name, I bet you’ll realize why.

Ted.

Surprised? I didn’t think so.

OK, so does it surprise you that cheese-hater, I’ve-ordered-a-pizza-without-cheese-on-it Ted actually not only voluntarily walked into a place where the menu is pretty much almost entirely made up of grilled cheese sandwiches – but he was the one who decided we should go there?

Yeah, define irony.

So for those of you who may have been living under a rock these past 10 years or so, Melt is one of those kind of iconic Cleveland restaurants – one of those like “oh, you’ve never been to our city before, you should try this place” kind of restaurants. They have several locations – the original in Lakewood, then three or four more around the Cleveland area (Cleveland Hts, Independence, Mentor), and have also recently branched out to Columbus. Clearly grilled cheese is kind of a big deal.

This location in Fairlawn is one of the newest, opening at the end of last year. In another twist of irony, we actually tried to come here for WTGW a few weeks back … specifically the week between Christmas and New Years. And being that this is a fairly new location, we expected it to be busy … but not “sure we’d love to wait an hour for grilled cheese and beer” busy. So we gave up that night.

In a related story, since we were out, it was Wednesday, we were hungry, and we’re all about going somewhere new, we tried venturing down the street to check out the newly opened Fairlawn location of Burntwood Tavern … and were greeted with the the same predicament. Apparently everyone goes out that Wednesday between the holidays to exchange gifts in restaurants and meet up with long lost friends who you sit at tables for hours talking to. Who knew?

That night eventually took us to the one place in that area we actually hadn’t been to and knew there would be no wait – Yellow Tail sushi buffet. Also now known as Shane’s version of heaven. Guess we really should’ve reviewed that one, too – but I couldn’t keep up with photographing all the plates that he and Ted kept showing up with at our table.

Anyway.

Back to this week – we arrived at Melt at about 7pm and there was no wait at all. What a difference a few weeks makes.

So, circling back to Ted, his dislike of cheese, and the irony of him picking this as his WTGW choice … when asked why he picked this place this week he pretty much stated that he got tired of everyone asking him if he’d been here before, and wanted to see what all the hype was about.

Alrighty then. Reasonable enough.

So it made perfect sense that when it came time to order his meal, he ordered his grilled cheese sandwich WITH NO CHEESE. Seriously Ted? That’s a curveball. I mean, are you truly experiencing the place if you leave out the key ingredient to their signature meals?

The best part was that instead of being outraged, surprised, or ousting him for being the cheese-hater he is, the server didn’t blink at all when he ordered. Which means there has to be someone else (or potentially even more than ONE someone else) out there who has done this same thing.

Ted may just have to start eating at Melt every night until he meets those people. They can start a club.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. To start the night we of course ordered drinks. Because you didn’t see that coming, I know. Vanilla vodka and OJ for me, Bud Light for Shane, and a Founders Breakfast Stout Nitro for Ted. Which came in the smallest glass possible for a beer.

It's a dainty beer glass

It’s so dainty

Shane was jealous I didn’t take a pic of his fancy bottled Bud Light. Because we’ve never seen one of those before.

For apps we got the fried pickles and the fried green tomatoes. Yeah, that’s a shocker. It may be a new year, but we still like to test our abilities to clog our arteries and remain on this side of the dirt apparently.

Mmm, fried goodness

Mmm, fried goodness

Both apps were tasty. And, well, they were kind of the same food, just different vegetables under the batter, so really how could we like one and not the other? Even the sauce was the same for both dishes – but that’s OK, because that was truly the best part in my opinion. Even though we still weren’t exactly certain what it was made of or where we’d tasted it before (and no, Shane, there was no ginger in it). I could probably order just a bowl of that sauce and eat it with a spoon, like soup. Because I’m sure that’s healthy. And not weird at all.

I'll dream about you, yummy orange sauce

I’ll dream about you, yummy orange sauce

Ted got the Hot Italian sandwich (ham, pepperoni, salami, garlic, provolone, romano and banana peppers) – which I already mentioned was lacking cheese. Weirdo. And fries.

But what holds it together if there's no cheese?

But what holds it together if there’s no cheese?

He said it was above average but not necessarily something he needs to have again. Also said they definitely weren’t shy with the meat (that’s what she said!) and that he struggled to finish the entire thing (that’s what she … oh, never mind) along with all of the fries – so it was definitely a lot of food.

I got a half sandwich of the Smoky Russian (smoked turkey, saurkraut, gouda and something called “zippy sauce” – I wasn’t going to ask) with a side of the vegetarian chili.

It's like a baby Melt

It’s like a baby Melt

The half was a great option, I wasn’t absolutely stuffed when I left, but full enough. Even though my sandwich had cheese, it still wasn’t held together real well (it seemed to be one of the smaller ones – and by that I mean it’s not stacked a foot high with ingredients – which was what I was looking for) but yet I still ate most of it picked apart with a fork instead of picking it up and eating it. If I were to get it again I might request a meltier cheese. Meltier? OK, so maybe that’s not really a word. A cheese that melts better. You know what I mean.

The chili was amazing. You would never guess there was no meat in it, because it was still very thick and chunky. (OK, that made me feel a little gross just typing that, but you know what I mean). It also had a lot of flavor without being too spicy.

Shane got the Purple Parma (eggplant, marinara, garlic, mozzerella and romano) with fries.

Is that parmesan cheese or powdered sugar?

Is that parmesan cheese or powdered sugar?

He ended up taking half of his home. He said it was OK but that “for all that was going on there, there didn’t seem to be much flavor.”

Overall, it’s a fun place that as mentioned is kind of a “Cleveland thing” – so you have to say you tried it at least once. Even if you’re Ted, who can now tell all those people to shove off, because even a cheese-hater can eat there. I mean, I doubt he’ll be going back anytime soon, and he especially won’t be trying the Melt Challenge, and all of it’s huge pile of fries, giant plate of cole slaw, three slices of grilled bread and TWELVE CHEESES glory. For real? I’m not sure I could even name 12 cheeses, much less know what to do with all of them lined up in front of me.  I mean, does the cook just take all the available cheese at that moment and throw it on the grill? Does he count put all twelve? Do you know if he leaves one out? And most importantly WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THAT SANDWICH COOLS AND THE CHEESE HARDENS? It could probably be considered a weapon at that point.

BTW, someone tried this insane challenge while we were there this evening. He seemed very confident he could do it. Sadly, he left with two to-go boxes full of the remnants of his $35 meal-o-cheese, some dented dignity, and what appeared to be a need for some Tums and Pepto. Ouch.

We forgot to do our usual rating system photos at the table, so had to do them by the front door before we left. Thus resulting in my husband taking what probably could be called the single worst photo of me of all time.

Steph

Steph … we think

Seriously, what’s up with the lighting? Did he not see that when he was taking the photo? I mean, Ted has taken better photos of me when the camera is in motion.

Let’s just forget we ever saw that, OK?

Shane

Shane … of course he looks normal

Cheese-hater Ted

Cheese-hater Ted

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

 
Melt Bar & Grilled Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/21/16: Burgers 2 Beer, Solon

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Holy crap, this place is packed on Wednesdays. Presumably because they have trivia, a phenomenon we had yet to run into on a Wednesday night adventure. And one I can’t quite say I fully understand the popularity of, but whatever.

Although the itty-bitty parking lot does make Burgers 2 Beer look a tad bit busier than what they actually are. They share the lot with Penn Station – the fast food sub place – so of course we joked when we were walking in that everyone was probably there. Uh, no, but nice try. Still, I don’t think anyone in this place other than us understands the meaning of the word “carpool.”

The rather extensive draft beer list was already waiting on the table when we sat down, which is always a good sign. Especially for a place that has that particular entity in its title.

The large variety of beers of course meant that Shane went with a Miller Lite. I got the Breckenridge Agave Wheat. Ted realized Breckenridge made a Christmas Ale and went with that choice. I sampled his and was a little disappointed I didn’t order that one. There’s always round two.

So being that the other half of the name of the place is burgers, you can probably guess that that involved another extensive list. Such marketing wizards with the name of the place. But this was a bit of overkill – like three pages of the menu devoted just to burgers. And some interesting concoctions – one involved truffle butter and brie cheese, one with peanut butter, one with tater tots and sloppy joe  … and one was even served on a glazed donut.

 

No calories here. Nope. None at all. Maybe they should rename this place “Heart Attacks 2 Cholesterol Levels.”

Ted started with the candied pork appetizer. It was like meat, not on a stick. Although it wasn’t quite as good as the meat on a stick he got at that place in Richfield we can never remember the actual name of that Shane would rather set himself on fire than walk into again, it was still tasty. As soon as it arrived at the table, Shane’s nose immediately singled out the garlic in it. Ted said it was spicy. Like OK for him, but probably not for everyone.

Meat, no stick

Meat, no stick

I mean, this is the guy who recently called acid wings “not hot at all,” so just keep that in mind.

For his meal, Ted got the pizza burger. Seems odd for a guy who hates cheese, but I guess this is really the safest version of pizza he could ever find, no? Well, other than the cheese-less pizza he got a few weeks ago, but that’s a bit of an anomaly.

Burger, take one

Burger, take one

He said the burger was good, but a little bland. Especially with everything that was going on there (pepperoni, peppers, marinara, onions and mushrooms – plus cheese, for normal people), it just didn’t seem to have much flavor. He still stands by his all time favorite being The Rail.

Shane: “That place that tried to kill me.”

Every. Time.

Shane got the monthly special burger for December – which I can’t remember exactly what came on that, but I do know it involved peppers and some other spicy stuff, since I was debating on getting the same one. His burger, like Ted’s, was also just OK. Said the patty itself didn’t have much flavor, but everything else on the burger was good.

Burger, take two

Burger, take two

He also got salt and vinegar wings. Is this like week #27 with wings? I’ve seriously lost count.

But he said the wings didn’t taste like salt & vinegar. Ted tried one and said they tasted like BBQ potato chips. Close? Not really. Maybe the cook just got his flavor bags from his snack packs mixed up.

They all start to look alike after a while

They all start to look alike after a while

I got the hot & bothered burger – habenero cheddar cheese, onions, siracha mayo and jalepenos. Sounds super bland, no? Yeah, it was definitely spicy. I also used the house BBQ sauce that they keep on the table as my condiment of choice to dip my tater tots in, and that had some kick to it too.

Burger, take three - plus tots

Burger, take three – plus tots

And I wonder why my taste buds sometimes revolt against me.

Amanda got the club burger (ham, turkey, bacon and gouda), which she  almost had to eat bunless, as the top of the sandwich flew off when the server brought her meal to the table. She did bring Amanda another top bun – but at least the bunless burger made for a nice photo op.

Burger, waiting for the top bun

Burger, waiting for the top bun

Amanda also agreed that the burger patty itself needed more flavor. The toppings were good, but if you just ate a piece of the burger patty it was unimpressive.

So basically the moral is that if you go, be sure get the burger with the most toppings – or at least the most flavorful ones anyway – so they can mask the taste of the actual burger patty itself. Because that seems right, considering the name of the place and all.

New name idea: “Toppings 2 Mask The Blandness.”

Service was pretty good, considering how busy it was there. The trivia was alternately interesting and annoying at the same time. It was loud, so at times we were having to shout over the host to hear one another. We also had to restrain ourselves from shouting out answers that we knew, which took a lot on our parts at times. Because, you know, restraint is definitely nowhere in our vocabularies. Have you seen the tables of food we order sometimes? Seriously.

Picked by: Amanda
Next pick: Ted

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Amanda

Amanda

B2b Burgers 2 Beer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/14/16: Loby’s Grille & Pub, Canton

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Hey look, we’re back to bar & grilles for this week’s WTGW. We can only keep up a streak of non burger-and-wing places (where we still sometimes order burgers and wings) for so long, I guess.

We’ve also run out of places in the immediate area – I’m still not sure what kind of portal opened up that enabled us to find those last two after all these years – hence why our adventures have us driving to Canton this week.

I think I found Loby’s on a Google Maps search of the area, just trying to seek out places we haven’t hit yet. Oops, giving away our trade secrets for picks here. Sorry.

The place sits in an interesting strip plaza on a corner lot. What is it with Canton and bars/restaurants in strip plazas? This one looked a bit shady (the Discount Drugmart is probably legit, but I’m not sure I want to know what goes on inside the storefront labeled “Triple 7 Fever”) but I guess compared to some of the places we’ve been in the area it’s really not that bad.

The first thing we noticed was the “seat yourself” sign when you walk in. There’s a landmine waiting to happen. Let’s just say Ted, Shane and I spent the next few minutes playing a bit of musical tables trying to find the right place to sit. It was a little like watching Sheldon on Big Bang Theory trying to find a seat in a new room.

And not entirely our fault, as the place has a bit of an odd setup. There’s a bar area when you first walk in, an open dining area to the side of that (with no wall in between), and several booths along the far walls.

If you want TVs, the bar area is your best bet, as there are almost an overload of them there. Most were tuned to sports, but some even had random Hallmark Christmas movies, so I guess we’re catering to everyone at Loby’s. But then if you go away from that area into the dining room, there’s zero atmosphere at all. And the booths along the walls have these high backs on them so you you’re pretty much secluded from everything. Kind of an odd thing to do at a place where you tell people to seat themselves, no? Like how do the servers see you sitting there and know to come over? Is there a silent buzzer on the seat that alerts someone in the kitchen? Is there a guy in the backroom just watching cameras all day to see who sits there and when? HOW??

We never really got to find out.

Of course our first attempt was to scan the bar area – as you all know that’s our preferred area to sit (and someone other than me was quite interested in the Hallmark movies) – but all the tables were full, and I think we’ve established anymore that we order way too much food to try and squeeze into spaces at the bar itself. So our next option was one of those high backed booths … until we had pretty much the same conversation outlined above, and decided we didn’t want to wait it out. So we ended up in a table in the open dining area. Which is also odd – if you sit on one side you can see some of he TVs in the bar, but if not, you get to look at a wall.

Poor Ted, he got that option.

So they still had pumpkin beer on tap – and on special, even – so Ted and I went that route. Since I kinda feel like I missed out on most of the pumpkin beers this season, this was welcome. I mean, who cares if that keg has been hooked up since October? We drink Summer Shandy in January if we still find it somewhere, and we haven’t died yet. Call us daredevils.

Shane and I ordered the fried mac & cheese bites as an app. Surprisingly Ted didn’t want to share with us. Weird.

I'll take some cheese with a side of cheese, please

I’ll take some cheese with a side of cheese, please

They came out of the kitchen super quick and were super warm – and were also super good. Not too crispy, very cheesy and gooey. They also came with a queso dip – because why not serve fried cheese with more cheese? This place is after my own heart.

I got the 1/3 lb siracha blue burger. It comes with fries, and I also got a side salad, because you know why not try to be a little healthy.

After our last few weeks of bowls of cheese disguised as salad, I was more than a bit disappointed to see this one come out looking like a real salad. Like actual lettuce and vegetables. What the hell?

What is this green stuff in my salad?

What is this green stuff in my salad?

My burger was really, really good. Lots of flavor, but very messy. I commented though that I almost didn’t taste the burger itself because of everything else that was going on there.

It's deceptively messy under that bun

It’s deceptively messy under that bun

Shane got the hot patty melt burger. He was going to get the half pound patty, but the server mentioned she could likely make that one the $5 special if he got the smaller one (I guess on Wednesdays they have a $5 build your own burger special), so he switched to that option.Economics trumps hunger sometimes.

There's a burger under that bread

There’s a burger under that bread

Plus he also got five of the hot garlic parm wings. Because, well, you know the drill on that anymore. I might need to rename this blog “Where to Go For Wings on Wednesdays.”

His wings actually came out as just hot garlic – and we knew this because Ted also ordered the hot garlic, and they looked surprisingly similar – so when we said something they took Shane’s wings back and just added parm cheese to them. At least we know that secret now.

Wings, plus parm

Wings, plus parm

Wings, minus the parm

Wings, minus the parm

Shane liked his burger, said it was really tasty. And spicy. But he didn’t really care for the wings.

Ted got the 10 oz strip steak special, plus – as mentioned – five of the hot garlic wings. The steak came with either a soup or a salad, so he opted for the soup – after the server told him that the special was the Hungarian hot pepper. Even I was intrigued by that. If I’d known my salad wouldn’t include half a bowl of cheese, I might’ve gone the soup route instead.

Don't mind the half eaten bread, it really was a full piece when it was served

Don’t mind the half eaten bread, it really was a full piece when it was served

Ted said the steak was good. He’s not usually a fan of pan seared, but said this one was good. He also liked the seasoning, said it was a touch salty but still good.

That looks so fancy

That looks so fancy

Apparently the cole slaw doesn't play well with the steak so it needs it's own bowl

Apparently the cole slaw doesn’t play well with the steak so it needs it’s own bowl

Both Shane and Ted didn’t have much to say about the wings. Especially after the ones they had last week, these were quite disappointing. Maybe we should try not ordering them every week? Like absence makes the taste buds grow fonder?

Aside from the wings, our only other complaint was the service. Our server was very brisk, and we felt like from the moment we sat down we should just be preparing ourselves to get back up again and leave. Nothing says welcome like rushing you out the door, right? She tried to take our app away when there was still one left in the basket – but at least she was polite enough to ask us if we were going to eat that last one before the basket flew off the table? She also grabbed my burger basket when there were still half of the fires left – which, I mean, let’s be honest, I didn’t want them anymore anyway, but I think I had probably come to that realization about 30 seconds before she got to the table, and it’s not like I had thrown my napkin in the basket or given any other universal signs of “I’m finished with this, thanks.” It’s like she just doesn’t like to see baskets of half eaten food on tables, regardless of if you’re actually done with them or not. And then she offered to get our bills together right as she took the last baskets away. Not “can I get you any more drinks” or “dessert, anyone?” or even “can I get you anything else” – it was “so I’ll just get your bills ready then?” At least she had the courtesy to make it a question?

Overall, the food was good for the most part, but the distance from our house and the feeling of being rushed out (maybe she knew we had a long drive home and was just trying to get us there earlier?) probably means we won’t be returning anytime soon. Unless maybe we finally decide to figure out what goes on inside the “Triple 7s” and then get hungry. Hmm.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Loby's Bar & Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/7/16: Tim’s Pizzeria & Pub, Cuyahoga Falls

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Wait, what’s this, two places in a row in our own backyard we haven’t been to yet? It’s like Christmas.

Also, we seem to be on an Italian kick now. First two weeks of Irish, now our second week of Italian. We seem to like themes all of a sudden.

Truth be told, unlike last week’s pick, we’ve probably driven past Tim’s Pizzeria about 4 billion times, and Shane has usually been the one to exclaim that eventually he was going to pick it. But it also looks just a tad on the sketchy side from the outside, so he was a little wary. I mean, it kind of looks like a house.

Although if you’ve been reading this blog then you know that’s actually right up Shane’s alley. And you also know that that’s burned us in the past (*ahem* that place in Solon *ahem*) so he has to be careful not to become labeled as the guy who picks crappy house diners.

Good thing this pick was nothing like that.

Our group was back to a threesome this week, as Amanda wasn’t feeling well and Jerrid decided to sit this week out. Welcome to winter and cold season in NEOhio.

We started out with dark beers for Shane and Ted – Guinness and Breckenridge Vanilla Porter – and Angry Orchard for me. There’s not a huge beer selection at Tim’s. But Shane loved the glasses, which seemed to spin on the table, so I guess that makes up for it?

Yes, he’s 12.

The place is known for its pizza. Bet you couldn’t guess that from the name, right? So of course pizza connoisseur Shane had to try that. But only after quizzing the server on the eggplant parm and if it was better than the specialty pizza he had in mind to order – the stuffed banana pepper pizza. She said both choices were good, but the pizza was one of their unique specialties.

Sold.

He also got calamari as an app. Because, Shane.

if it's on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

if it’s on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

I stuck to the same pattern as last week, rigatoni. But this time it was baked, which is really just code for “loaded with cheese.”

You’re speaking my language, Tim’s.

Plus I just like to gross Ted.

It also came with a bowl-of-cheese-they-call-a-salad (I’m pretty sure I could get used to these Italian places and their definition of healthy foods) and bread.

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

And I ordered an app of fried mushrooms. Because, me. And also because they were $2.95. I mean, how can you not?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, Ted got a little smorgasbord all for himself. He said he wanted to try a bunch of different things and couldn’t decide between them.

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

So he got a 4-cut pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. And the ravioli. And to his credit, he originally only wanted to order six of the garlic hot wings (because we’ve already established that someone has to order wings – I mean, why stop the streak now?) but the server told him that they only come in orders of 10. So he was like what the hell, go with it.

Such a team player.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Our server also got huge props, as we were doing our usual joking with Ted about his dislike of cheese, and the server piped in and offered to make his pizza without it. Wait, what? You can do that? Is it still technically a pizza without cheese?

So that's what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It's so ... naked.

So that’s what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It’s so … naked.

I’m so confused.

But Ted was super happy, so that’s all that matters.

The calamari was good, just not very flavorful. The mushrooms ended up being the big hit of the appetizer portion of the meal, though. I mean, Shane even really liked them – and he normally likes mushrooms the least of any fried veggie.

Deep fried deliciousness

Deep fried deliciousness

Ted said his pizza was good. And so were the wings. But the ravioli as just OK, he said it kinda tasted store bought. Probably could’ve done without that part of his meal, if he had to pick one thing on his whole side of the table to get rid of.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

Shane was in love with his stuffed banana pepper pizza. Like so in love that I almost got jealous. He said it was a great concept, definitely unique and super tasty. The crust was good, light but crispy. And the peppers were spicy … so, you know it’s a good thing he added more crushed red pepper before he even tasted it.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

The extra red peppers were actually Ted’s suggestion. Clearly he cares a lot about Shane.

The baked rigatoni was delicious. Worlds above last week’s pasta dish. It had good sauce and flavor, wasn’t over cooked – and the crap-ton of cheese certainly didn’t suck either. In fact, word of warning, I burned my tongue on the very first bite, as I couldn’t wait to dig in and forgot about all the heat that lives under that layer of cheese. But honestly I didn’t care. It was too delicious to wait.

This is like heaven

This is like heaven

Overall, Tim’s is a great spot. It had a really good atmosphere, they were playing fun older music – and it seemed like the crowd were a mix of a lot of regulars and a few newbies like us, but yet no one made us feel like we didn’t belong there. We also saw lots of carry out orders being picked up, so that’s something I think we all filed away for later use. We also noticed a sign on the wall that they’ll be having a Christmas party in a few weeks – on a Wednesday, no less, so that seems like it was made for us. We might have to hijack that WTGW pick and come back in for that one. But even if not then, we’ll definitely be back.

I mean, you can only keep Shane away from his new love for so long, right?

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Tim's Pizzeria & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 11/30/16: Retz’s Laconis, Cuyahoga Falls

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Watch out, after two weeks of Irish food we’re breaking our streak and moving on to a different ethnicity … Italian.

And we all laugh as we watch Ted’s face as he attempts to avoid cheese pitfalls. Oh the fun!

So I have to ask, for real, where has this place been these past three years? I mean, I thought we’d exhausted pretty much every bar/restaurant in our own little town – hence why we sometimes travel up to 40 minutes away for a new pick. Meanwhile little did we know Retz’s Laconis was lurking on some side street we’ve apparently never ventured down before. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle of WTGW.

Hmm.

Adding to that theory, Shane and I parked outside in the back lot, next to a particularly shady Suburban that both of us were fairly certain someone was living in. But it was gone when we came out later in the evening, so I guess not. Unless it was swallowed by the Triangle?

You never know.

Also seemingly lost: the front door. When a building is on a corner, it’s helpful to label the appropriate front side so you know which door to enter. We chose the first door we saw, a not very well labeled one which fortunately for us led directly into the bar where Jerrid, Amanda and Ted were waiting. We chose wisely. Had we picked door #2 around the corner we would’ve ended up in the dining room. I only know this because several people entered through the bar door looking to do the opposite of what we did. They were not as wise.

Amanda and Jerrid were there way early (surprise!) and had ordered the bacon ranch pizza as an app. They left us a few pieces to try, and we all agreed it was OK. The crust seemed like a frozen crust, not fresh made. And it was also a little too ranch-y – and, yes, smartasses, we know the name of the dish – but let’s just say the ranch overpowered the bacon. And bacon should never be second fiddle, am I right?

This appetizer didn't look like this by the time Shane and I arrived

This appetizer didn’t look like this by the time Shane and I arrived

But when you’re hungry, it did the trick, so there’s that.

Salads came with mine, Shane and Amanda’s meals, so naturally those arrived at our table first. Although let’s be clear, by “salad” we really just mean a pile of cheese with some lettuce underneath.

This has to be the most nutritious salad ever

This has to be the most nutritious salad ever

See also: Ted’s nightmare.

I got the rigatoni with meat sauce and meatballs.

Pasta, take one

Pasta, take one

Amanda got the baked cheese ravioli.

Pasta, take two

Pasta, take two

Shane got the eggplant parm, after his interrogation of the server revealed that it’s actually rolled in ricotta cheese and deep fried. Bingo! That’s like saying the secret password to Shane. Because deep frying anything can only make it better, right?

Exactly.

This is probably even healthier than that salad, no?

This is probably even healthier than that salad, no?

He also got an order of the garlic parm wings, because we can’t seem to go a week without someone ordering wings at our table.

Wings. What a surprise.

Wings. What a surprise.

He then also tried to order another app until I made fun of him.

Me: “And I’ll also take the whole left hand side of the menu please.”
Shane: “Never mind, I’m good.”

Ted got the acid wings. Because that sounds appetizing, no? And also a burger with no cheese. Because who cares that we’re at an Italian place. You know when you see items like that on the menu and think “who comes to an Italian place and orders a burger and wings?”

Ted. Ted does.

That's the most Italian looking hamburger I've ever seen.

That’s the most Italian looking hamburger I’ve ever seen.

Non-acidic wings

Non-acidic wings

Along those same lines, Jerrid got the dark chicken meal. Pasta is clearly overrated. See also: why all of our meals took forever to arrive. It’s like New Era all over again.

Where are we again?

Where are we again?

About this time when we were ordering we also noticed our server’s t-shirt, that boasted the place has the “best balls in the Falls.” Clever.

Unfortunately, though, I have to disagree. I thought my meatballs had absolutely zero taste. Same for my rigatoni. Maybe my taste buds took the night off, although the cheese on the salad and the bread tasted OK to me. As did the crap-ton of crushed red pepper and parm cheese that I added to the pasta. But the pasta and meat, no flavor whatsoever. Boo.

Ted said his acid wings were not overly hot. He may be the only person to ever say that. Maybe his taste buds were on strike along with mine.

He only ate his wings and fries, didn’t even touch his burger because he was too full. Which seemed odd until Jerrid pointed out Ted did have two Christmas Ales, so that was kind of like having another meal all in itself.

Point taken.

Jerrid liked the chicken, said it was better than New Era. And Amanda liked her raviloi.

Shane didn’t eat his wings because he was too full. Maybe he and Ted should stop ordering basically two entrees? Just an idea. But he did try one, though – I think mainly to see if he should even bother with the to-go box – and said it was good. He said the eggplant parm was “different, but OK.”

Overall Retz’s is an OK place for a little neighborhood restaurant and bar. The bar area is pretty small, so it’s gets a little crowded – but never so much that you feel like strangers are about to seat themselves at your table and start helping themselves to your food. Our server was good and attentive for the most part, the exception being when Amanda tried about 10 times unsuccessfully to get herself a water. But then Jerrid asked and it was delivered in a second. So I guess the moral is that if you’re female and ordering something non-alcoholic you might want to be prepared to wait a bit. Interesting.

Picked by: Jerrid
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Retz's Laconi's II Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 11/23/16: J. Dublin’s Pour House, Akron

Standard

Apparently we’re on an Irish kick these days. Because nothing says November like Irish pubs.

To be honest, Ted’s initial pick this week was Creo’s – otherwise known as “the old Gus’s Chalet.” He’s been dying to go there ever since it opened, I think just to try and wash the taste out of our mouths from the old place.

Unfortunately, however, the specialty at Creo’s is Cajun food. Hearing that caused Shane to slam the brakes on that choice, for fear of a relapse of the great “night-before-Thanksgiving-food-poisoning/allergic-reaction-incident-of-2015,” which rendered him incapacitated for the entire Thanksgiving meal. (See also: why we can’t go to Lagerhead’s ever again, and why the smell of BBQ/Cajun food sends Shane running for the door of any restaurant)

In Shane’s words, “I’ll risk puking my guts out any other night of the year, Ted, but I’m not missing Thanksgiving again.”

Point taken.

So Ted called a “medical audible” and went with his next choice, J. Dublin’s.

And since we’re still being honest, I should point out that Shane, Amanda and I have actually been inside this place before. We actually even reviewed it, a few years ago, back when it was Johnny Malloy’s. Also known as the place where Amanda and I ordered draft beer, while Shane was the recipient of a lovely colorful, fruity mixed drink.

Good times.

The place still looks the same inside. They may have changed the name, but they certainly haven’t changed the decor at all.

J. Dublin’s has a decent beer list, so we all got drafts. Which turned out to be a good choice, since after one round I tried to switch to one of their specialty cocktails on the menu, only to be told that since it involved a pumpkin beer and they were apparently all out of every pumpkin beer available they couldn’t make it. OK. Because it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, makes sense that all the fall beers are out of stock. May as well just keep up with retail and bring out the summer shandy already, eh?

For appetizers, Ted got mussels, Shane and I got the southwestern egg rolls, and Amanda and Jerrid got the tater barrels.

Meal of mussels

Meal of mussels

Something fried and phallic looking. Must be our appetizer.

Something fried and phallic looking. Must be our appetizer.

Are you gonna eat those tots?

Are you gonna eat those tots?

The mussels were really good, and you seemed to get a decent amount for something on the appetizer menu. The egg rolls were very tasty. And the tater barrels – which are essentially just tater tots with bacon on them – were also good.

Shane got the Wednesday steak special, which is a steak and potato/fries for $7.99. What a bargain! Yeah, no. Not if you’re super hungry anyway. I’m not sure how many ounces the steak was supposed to be, but when it came out it looked like a piece that someone cut off to sample and left the real meal in the back room. It was like an appetizer steak. Or something from the children’s menu. Especially for someone like Shane, who probably could’ve finished it off in about three bites if he wanted to.

Oh how cute. I think the knife is bigger than the meat it's supposed to cut.

Oh how cute. I think the knife is bigger than the meat it’s supposed to cut.

At least he was smart to get five of the garlic parm wings to go along with it. Good move.

Saving Shane from starvation

Saving Shane from starvation

Amanda and I both had the Philly cheese steak with fries. Well, to be clear, the sandwich actually doesn’t come with fries – you have to order them separate. Seems strange, no? I mean, we’ve been places where you just get sandwiches, and all of the sides are extra. And here it clearly states on the menu that all of the burgers and wraps come with fries. But I guess extending that side option to Philly cheese steaks and other assorted non-burger sandwiches was just running them dry in the budget? Sounds plausible.

Imagine how empty that plate would look without the fries

Imagine how empty that plate would look without the fries

In any case, both the sandwich and the fries were solid choices, very tasty.

Jerrid got the Mac attack burger (as well as the free fries that came with it, lucky bastard) and five of the cool ranch wings. Wait, what – cool ranch? That’s a flavor we haven’t heard before. And there was quite a bit of debate at our table about whether or not the sauce would come out tasting like Cool Ranch Doritos.

Sadly, it did not. Sorry to ruin the surprise.

Non Dorito flavored

Non Dorito flavored

Cheesy

Cheesy

Ted got the Dublin burger, which is like a reuben and a burger all rolled into one. Because we didn’t get enough corned beef last week? Right. Also, I’ll repeat myself from last week – we are in an Irish place. And since the rest of us didn’t step up like we did last Wednesday I guess he had to be the one to take one for the team and actually order something Irish on the menu. Thanks, Ted.

Wait, why does he have two condiment cups?

Wait, why does he have two condiment cups?

Although that kinda bit him in the ass, since he said the corned beef was not very good. Especially after what we had last week. Also, seems strange for an Irish place. But I guess strange is a little bit of a theme for this week, so whatever.

All in all, J. Dublin’s was a solid pick. The food was decent, the service was good, and the place is definitely large enough to host about 100 of your closest friends without disrupting any other tables, should you care to try something like that. I mean, options, people. We’re here to help with things like that. You’re welcome.

I’d also like to point out that the guys are like a who’s who of Top 10 college football in their apparel choices this week. Kinda makes you wonder how they all get along so well, no?

Representing Alabama - Shane

Representing Alabama – Shane

Representing Ohio State - Ted

Representing Ohio State – Ted

And representing Michigan - Jerrid

And representing Michigan – Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jerrid

WTGW 11/9/16: Mavis Winkles Irish Pub, Twinsburg

Standard

Sorry we’ve been away.  World Series, yo. I mean, we do live in Cleveland after all.

Which translates to Amanda’s pick being on the back burner for about a month now, since our streak of baseball watching began with the playoffs and we didn’t want to chance trying out a new place that may or may not have ample televisions tuned to the game, as well as seating options with good sight lines of said televisions.

Not that we’re needy or anything.

Also it’s ironic to note that when choosing a sports bar to head out to in order to catch the games, suddenly we seemed to forget all 157 we’ve been to in the area, and ended up texting one another things like “When did we go there again?” and “I don’t know, what kind of TV setup do they have there?” 

See also: why our blog stats shot up considerably in those few weeks, as we all frantically researched sports bars.

Anyway.

So Mavis Winkles is located in the same plaza as the Panini’s with the great outdoor bar that we discovered we loved about three years ago. And haven’t been back to since, because somewhere we read that Panini’s location closed. Yeah, it didn’t. Damn you internet and your lies.

We were seated at a high top near the bar but not really in the bar area. If that makes sense. The layout of the place is a little strange, just keep that in mind.

For drinks it was a Boddington for me (hey, it is an Irish place), Guinness for Ted (after he asked what dark beers they had, apparently forgetting we were in an Irish place), Angry Orchard for Shane and Miller Lite for Jerrid.

Our poor server came back to check on us like six times before we actually places our dinner orders. We’re chatty all of a sudden when we haven’t done this for a few weeks. But I give her points for at least trying.

For apps, Ted tried to get the calamari, but was told they were out. Which prompted Shane to start reinacting the scene in Tommy Boy where he gets the waitress to turn the fryers back on. “Are you sure? Wings would taste really good right now.”

Let’s just say it turned out better for Tommy.

So poor Ted went with zucchini planks instead. I had my money on the hummus platter being his number two choice. Dammit Ted. You let me down.

I wish I could say they tasted better than they look

I wish I could say they tasted better than they look

Shane and I got the reuben rolls. They also have reuben bites on the menu (see also: Irish place), but we went with the rolls – because, as Shane explained, rolls just sound like more real food than “bites.” Bites are dainty. And we all know by now dainty is not in the list of adjectives for us.

And the rolls were definitely real food. In fact, they were kind of like small, deep fried, wrap sandwiches. That apparently looked obscene. Shane called them “reuben dongs.”

Shane's obscene appetizer. Because he's 12.

Shane’s obscene appetizer. Because he’s 12.

That’s my husband, y’all, keepin’ it classy.

At least they were a nice juxtaposition to the side salad I got with my cabbage and corned beef dish and that arrived at the same time. Giving the appearance of healthy, as I ate what was essentially iceberg lettuce with balsamic dressing with one hand while also eating the deep fried corned beef with the other. Point, me.

Something healthy. Wait, what?

Something healthy. Wait, what?

In any case, the reuben rolls were delicious. And could’ve been a meal all in themselves, if you ordered the app just for you. The dipping sauce was also really good – and I’m usually one to skip condiments, so that’s a real compliment.

Ted said the zucchini planks were OK. He said the breading was good, but there just wasn’t enough of it. So obviously he wasn’t ordering these for the health benefits of vegetables. And he said the zucchini was cut too thick. Which prompted this conversation:

Shane: They look like they’re cut like pickle spears. Because they should be cut like bacon strips.
Ted: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

Glad we have our own language here.

Three of the five of us got something that featured corned beef. Have I mentioned we’re at an Irish place? I wasn’t sure.

I got corned beef and cabbage.

The never-ending bowl of Irish food

The never-ending bowl of Irish food

Amanda got the corned beef boxty (corned beef with potato pancakes).

Similar but different

Similar but different

Ted got the hot reuben sandwich (basically the reuben rolls without the deep frying).

Looks less obscene

Looks less obscene

We all agreed that the corned beef here was really good. As well it should be, because, well … OK, I’ll stop saying it.The corned beef was thicker shaved and very meaty, not the thinner, stringier stuff you get at some places. It had just a touch of seasoning, but not overly salty. And they give you a giant portion, no matter what form it was being served in. We all agreed we would definitely get each of our meals again.

On the non-corned beef side of the table we had Jerrid with chicken paprikash, and Shane with six of the honey mustard wings and a large order of fish and chips.

At least they didn’t order burgers?

Jerrid said the chicken paprikash was good, but was lukewarm when it arrived instead of piping hot, which he would’ve preferred. As would most normal people, I assume.

Is that a dollop of sour cream?

Is that a dollop of sour cream?

Shane’s eyes were a bit bigger than his stomach on his order. Also note, when they say large on that fish and chips order, they mean it. He had been debating on ordering the meatloaf but was worried it might not be enough food for him … meanwhile the fish and chips was too much. It’s like Goldilocks and the Various Menu Options. He took the wings home since he was so full.

Why does everything Shane eats look obscene?

Why does everything Shane eats look obscene?

Always a staple at our table

Always a staple at our table

As mentioned already, our server was very good. She put up with our “we’ve never been here before, what’s good” line of questioning when we first sat down, came back to check often on drinks and how things were going, was patient when we didn’t seem to be able to get our crap together to order, etc. We also may or may not have been her only table – but because of how strangely this place was laid out we couldn’t really be sure. Whatever. We’ll still give her credit, she was good.

Our big downer about this place, though, was the atmosphere. It was a little blah. I mean, maybe you missed my mentioning it, but it’s an Irish Pub. And I get that it’s a Wednesday night, so the good folks of Twinsburg probably weren’t exactly in the frame of mind for dancing on tables or taking 15 shots of Jameson or anything like that – but still. It could be that I think they close at like 9pm (which seems odd for a pub, no?), so of course by 8:45 we were likely about the only table left and it just seemed rather quiet. Overall the food was decent and we had good service, so I guess we might go back if we were in the area and wanted a bite and a beer … but then again with Panini’s right at the opposite end of the plaza I have to believe that might get more of the vote.

Ted

Ted

Gangsta Shane

Gangsta Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Amanda
Next pick: Ted

Mavis Winkle's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato