It’s Wednesday, it’s early May, and we got to sit on a patio.
Let me just let those words sink in for a minute.
Because you know how much Mother Nature tends to crap all over our plans over here on Where To Go Wednesdays, I have to believe she was way off her game this week and didn’t realize she had served up a beautiful, 80+ degree day on a Wednesday until it was too late to change things. Either that or she’s trying to extend an olive branch for all of the blizzards, tornado warnings and blustery 60 degree “we typically never get THIS kind of weather in July” Wednesdays she’s served up to us over the past nearly two years.
In which case, apology accepted. And I will cease calling her a whore … until next Wednesday rolls around and she’s back to her old tricks.
In light of all of the above, we were a little off of our own games this week – since Ted’s original choice was a pizza brew pub over in Ellet. But after stepping outside from his office for the first time at about 5:00 that day, he realized that being holed up inside and next to a brick pizza oven was not the best use of an unusually spectacular Wednesday evening. So he called an audible – albeit without a playbook – and just decided we throw rules out the window and hit the nearest patio we could.
(Honestly, I think there’s a clause in our WTGW rulebook somewhere that says we can pick a place again if it has a really awesome patio that we never got to sit on. Right?? No? Well, if that clause doesn’t exist, I’m making it right now. There. Done.)
So we headed to the Valley. Ted’s first pick was Bricco – which I know you’re all saying, wait a minute, I know you’ve been there before – but honestly Ted had never been to that location, so even though the other three of us have AND we’ve all four been to what has to be every. single. other. Bricco location in the Akron/Kent area – since Ted had never been to the Valley one and it was his pick, he was allowed to choose it.
Our rules are fuzzy, get over it.
But all that discussion was for naught anyway, since the patio at Bricco was jam packed and we definitely weren’t getting a table there. Strike one.
So next we ventured across the street to The Merchant – again, a place we’ve been, but not on the patio, and especially not since they redesigned it and make it a cool little space. I mean, it still overlooks a parking lot, but at least there’s a bit more to it now than just some tables and a makeshift fence separating you from incoming vehicles.
But we were a bit late to the party there, too, and all tables appeared to be filled. Strike two.
So as a last ditch effort, we headed back around the corner to On The Rocks – a place we’ve all had drinks at more than once, but somehow none of us have ever gotten around to trying the food. Hmm, this fits all the WTGW criteria. And their patio – another spectacular parking lot view – was virtually empty. Score.
Upon walking into the place, we realized it wasn’t just the patio that was nearly empty – the entire place was the same way. I think there may have been more people working there at that moment than there were patrons. We ordered our first round of drinks at the bar – two very large Summer Shandys for the girls, a McKensies Seasonal Reserve cider for Ted, and a very strong rum and diet for Shane – and then wandered back to the (very small) patio to settle in.
Where it seemed that not long after, the rest of the patrons on the patio also left. Hmm, way to give us a complex. We showered, we swear. Is there a curfew in this portion of the Valley that no one told us about? Oh well, more space for us. Actually, correction, more space for Shane to scoot around on the rolling office chairs that serve as patio chairs. I honestly have never seen anything like that before in my life. It was like they looked around and said “well damn, we have all of these metal patio tables, but no chairs … hey, wait, that office supply store is having a liquidation sale, lets just get chairs there!” Right, because giving drunk people rolling furniture is always a good idea.
Speaking of drunk people, let’s go back to Shane’s drink for a second. I think I mentioned it was strong? Yeah, we’re talking like rivaling Windsor Pub and their quarter-bottle-pours strong. The bartender at On The Rocks also mentioned they were out of Captain Morgan’s, so the rum they used was some kind of generic stuff called Sailor Jack. By the middle of the second drink of the night Shane was starting to look a little glassy eyed. By the end of the third one, when I asked him how he as feeling, he got that goofy grin and his head kind of swiveled back and forth like a bobble head when he tried to argue his sobriety. So that was fun. I’m thinking the Sailor is a bit stronger than the Captain in this game.
Shockingly, we decided against appetizers – I know, who are we, right? – and just ordered our meals. Although the guys kind of got apps, as they each ordered a six-pack of wings in addition to their dinners. So there’s that. Shane got the honey mustard wings, and Ted had the hot wings. They both said they were just OK. Shane’s comment was that they were “crispy” and Ted called his the “standard hot wings, nothing special.” Take that as you will.
Apparently Ted had a bone to pick with chickens this week (see what I did there?), because for his meal he opted for the chicken kabobs. He rated these much higher than the wings, saying they were very tasty. So tasty, in fact, that he practically licked his bowl clean. Hey Ted, remember when there were more people working here than dining/drinking here? I bet someone can wash that for you.
Shane went with the feta pizza. A choice which confused me because the last I knew, he despised feta cheese. Interesting, right? Just to clarify – apparently it’s gross on its own, but when heated on a pizza it’s perfectly OK and actually quite yummy.
OK, so we’re using Ted’s philosophy on cheese in general for this one. Gotcha.
Amanda had the buffalo chicken pizza. Which does not have feta, but does have bleu cheese. And maybe ranch? The verdict is still out on that one. It does have hot sauce, we know that for sure. And chicken. There was also a debate as to exactly how the pizzas were cooked, since Amanda’s and Shane’s seemed to both have a different consistency. So there’s that.
I opted for the Monster Burger, mainly because it’s served on ciabatta bread (my personal favorite) with melted provolone (another favorite) and banana peppers. Sounds like it should be a winner, right?
Yeah, not so much. I mean, unless you like dry food, because that was basically the theme of the entire meal. The “medium” burger was charred to black on the outside and very dry inside. And while I typically think ciabatta bread is a form of heaven, in this case it was by far the worst part of the meal. Wait, what? That’s a sentence I don’t think has ever come out of my mouth until now. Note to cooks everywhere: dressings, spreads – even butter, for crying out loud – were created for a reason. It helps hold the sandwich together. Melted cheese is not enough. Especially with ciabatta, which has the texture of an English muffin. The nooks and crannies are there for a reason. Please utilize them properly.
Fun side note: they actually buttered the ciabatta bread that came with Ted’s side salad, but not the stuff used for my sandwich. So, thanks.
The service was also not spectacular. We had ordered our first round and taken it out with us, but the server that ended up coming out to help us was extremely unhelpful, impersonal and just seemed to want to be rid of us. Because those are great qualities to have when you’re in the service industry. When she came out to take our orders we kind of hemmed and hawed a bit – normally servers would say something like “you know what, I’ll give you a minute and come back.” Nope, this girl was apparently on some sort of a timer. Like you’d think the kitchen was closing and we had to get our orders in right at that second, lest we never eat again.
Amanda: I’ve never felt so rushed in my entire life to just pick something to eat.
And the end of the night was the same way, there was no option to cash out, but instead a “ok, here’s your checks, you can pay me now.” Hey, thanks. It’s like she had some timer behind the bar with her that went off when we should be at different stages of the dining experience. Ding: time to order now. No, not in a minute, and you can’t come back. I said now. Ding: time to get them another round, but don’t tell them it’s the last one you’ll bring them. In fact, make as little conversation with them as possible. Ding: time to cut them off and send them on their way, closing time is a mere four hours away. No time to waste.
So, yeah, I’m not guessing even the proximity of OTR will get us back in the door – or on the patio – for dinner any time soon. Drinks, sure – especially if we want to get crocked on generic hard liquor – but we’ll make sure to eat elsewhere. By far the winner of this week’s WTGW was the weather – so, Mother Nature, if you want to bless us with nice Wednesdays for patio drinks but the trade off is that we won’t be happy with our meals, I’d like to go on the record right now and say that I’m personally OK with that.
Picked by: Ted
Drinks: Decent selection of bottles and drafts. Being able to find both McKenzies and Summer Shandy in one place is like hitting the alcoholic jackpot
Food: I think I’ll stick to the alcohol diet the next time we come here. Or get what Ted had.
Service: If you like to make choices under pressure while someone shoots daggers at you with their eyes, then this is the place for you. Oh, that makes you uncomfortable? Weird.
Overall: Because this place is so close to us, and we now know they have a patio that doesn’t get very busy, chances are we’ll be back at some point or another. But most likely only for drinks. Which we’ll order from the bar ourselves. So basically we should maybe just stay home and drink on our own patio then? Hmmm.
Next Pick: Shane