Once upon a time, when we were very first starting out on on WTGW adventures and long before we ever started this little blog (so last summer, to be exact), we paid a visit to a little place in Akron called the Ido Lounge. That place has lived in infamy all these months later, not because it was the best place we’d ever been to … but because it was hands down the very worst of our WTGW adventures. Aside from paying $5 for a had-to-be-less-than-12-oz mug of beer (and not realizing this until we got the bills at the end of the night, because apparently our invisible ink decoder rings didn’t work on these menus), the service was sketchy at best and the atmosphere was more “night at the senior center” than “fun Wednesday.”
Now, I mention this only because … ladies and gentlemen … as of this week’s WTGW, the Ido Lounge has been overthrown from its last place slot.
To be fair, we probably should have considered the name of the place somewhat of a warning sign that we were getting into dangerous territory. And it should be known that from here on out, any place with the name “Chalet” in the title is hereby considered exempt from consideration.
This was Ted’s pick, and he actually called an audible since his initial pick was Beef O’Brady’s in Stow – which Amanda, Shane and myself had already been to at one point in time or another, but we were grandfathering in simply because we all know its a rarity that Ted is the one person out of the group who actually hasn’t been somewhere. But since none of us were really all that impressed with that place, he decided to go ahead with this pick instead.
Let’s just say I think we all would’ve eaten at Beef O’Brady’s for a week straight before we’d ever set foot in Gus’ again.
This place is straight out of 1956. Which probably was when it was built, and when all of the current staff started working there. And therein lies the problem: nothing, and I mean NOTHING, has changed since that time. I should’ve taken some pictures so we would have evidence of this … but I was afraid that the time warp vacuum we were in might just cause my iPhone camera to self destruct.
And not to say that the staff wasn’t pleasant. They were very nice … in that same way that stopping by your grandma’s and having her serve you up a dinner made from the canned goods she’s been saving up in her basement in case of the apocalypse is nice. It’s that kind of comfortable.
I think we all knew we were in trouble when we walked in and realized within seconds that we were clearly the youngest people in the place. You could comfortably fit at least a generation or two between our group and who we thought to be the youngest people in the place – and, despite our love of weeknight beers and occasional over indulgences, we have to admit that we aren’t exactly spring chickens ourselves. So that should give you a pretty good idea of what we’re dealing with here. Shane later referred to the Gus’ as “the place where Cocoon was filmed.” Again, just trying to give you a good visual reference.
Even the hostess kind of looked us up and down when we first walked in, like she knew we couldn’t possibly be in the right place. And then when she realized we were the ones with reservations, I think that was a dead giveaway that we were first-and-likely-only timers. PS – while I give Gus’ kudos for having a website, they may want to update it to let people know that reservations are really, really not necessary. Really. At all.
So where do I even begin here when it comes to our orders? I guess alcohol – always start with alcohol, right? I think that was especially our group’s thought when we realized we were past the “too late to bail out now” portion of the evening and were going to have to suffer through this one.
I think Ted knew he was in trouble when the server got all the way through the beer list and it was primarily things ending in the word “lite.” Turns out the only dark beer available was Guinness. In a bottle. OK. The rest of us went with the standard Miller Lite. And I have to think none of use would’ve really been that surprised if the server had come back with beers in packaging resembling the “throwback” cans they’re touting now … except they would really be from that era. That didn’t happen – but I have to there’s a strong possibility those cans do exist somewhere in that establishment.
As far as our entrees, Ted ordered the filet with mashed potatoes, Amanda had the chicken parm, Shane had eggplant parm and I had salmon with baked potato. I don’t really have much of anything to say about any of those things. They were edible, but nothing special.
Now the appetizers, however …
Let me preface this by saying that we didn’t actually order the appetizers. And when the server brought them over I can’t even imagine the confused looks on our faces. I think Amanda was the first one to whisper “did we order these? did she get the wrong table?” as the server walked away – but we were all thinking it. Turns out that Gus’ offers these free “house appetizers” with every meal. Let this just be a lesson to you that the words “free isn’t always better” have never rang truer than at this place.
So what was this exactly?
1.) Raw carrots and celery. OK, this was edible. Can’t really screw that up.
2.) Sauerkraut balls. Again, not horrible. Deep frying anything pretty much always makes it at least tolerable.
3.) Some sort of “bean salad.” You know, like potato salad. Except with beans. And straight mayo. Together. As the only ingredients. Also, word to the wise, the bean salad is NOT sweet. Just ask Shane, whose pondering aloud as the spoon was on its way to his mouth, “is it sweet?” nearly choked all of us as he quickly answered himself with a resounding “nope” as soon as it hit his tongue.
4.) (and here’s where it really gets good … and by good I mean downright strange …) Something we can only describe as “tarter toast.” Seriously. It was triangles of toast with tarter sauce on them. And then baked. Which, jokes on us, because presenting it like this made it look deceptively like melted cheese. So we assumed it was cheesy garlic bread. But definitely wasn’t. At all. Again, head our warning here. We suffer so you don’t have to.
And I can already tell this particular item will be the punchline of many jokes within our group for a very long time.
So basically, to summarize, the “house appetizers” are in essence foods assembled by a drunk person with the munchies and very little food in their house. You could probably get the same items by rolling a few miles to the east and hitting a frat house on the KSU campus. Just sayin.
So, yeah, that pretty much sums up our night at Gus’. We didn’t even stay for another round of drinks after dinner – well, a) because they were probably ready to close the place down, considering it was all of 8PM and I’m sure their dinner rush happens at about 4:30, and b) because we were all bursting by this point with jokes about the place, but couldn’t say anything at the table because it was so quiet in there and we already felt like we were being watched since we were super young newbies. Kind of like being at the kids table at your grandparent’s house. Although one side note, we observed – through the silence – that the background music in the dining room was a blend of country and Top 40. I guess the elders love them some Taylor Swift.
Because it was only 8PM when we left – and because we had to redeem the evening somehow – we ended the evening with drinks at our old faithful, Johnny J’s in the Valley. Summer shandy is back on tap kids. Bring on the patio weather.
Picked by: Ted
Drinks: What did they serve at bars in 1956? Because that’s pretty much what they probably still have here.
Food: Two words: tartar toast. Knowing that comes free with every meal kind of shapes the way you think about the place as a whole.
Service: Everyone was pleasant, and things were served in a timely fashion. By someone who could’ve been my grandmother.
Overall: The next time any of us see the inside of this place, we better be on the other side of the 70 year mark. And even then it’s debatable.
Next Pick: Shane