Yes folks, this week we have yet another in the list of places that epitomize “reasons why WTGW was created.” These are places we drive past about 64.8 times and somehow never get around to going into, despite saying “hey, we should go there sometime” every. single. time. we drive past.
In the case of Varsity, part of the issue was that it really doesn’t look like a sports bar from the outside. Nothing about the boring, blue, block letter sign on the nondescript concrete building screams “come inside and enjoy a nice cold drink while watching sports on 500 TVs.” In fact, for the longest time when we passed by I kind of figured it was some new sporting goods store, until I got a flyer in the mail one day announcing weekly specials. Huh. So direct mail isn’t dead.
But still, change the sign. Or the building. Or something.
Also, just because direct mail is apparently front and center on your marketing plan, let’s not completely go back to 1998 and forget one of the biggest assets to any company today … a website. Seriously people. It’s 2016. I’m shocked by the number of restaurants that won’t pony up the money for a decent webpage. You know, with a menu that people can look at in advance, and maybe your daily specials, along with your location. See also: ways to convince people to come into your establishment.
Because, assuming you know that Varsity is, in fact, a bar and grill, naturally you do a quick Google search to find out more about what they serve. And if you type “Varsity Hudson” into Google, and click on the 4th option down – because the URL looks promising – you might be pleased.
But then at some point you realize it’s actually a website for a bar & grill in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Not Hudson, Ohio. I spend damn near 15 minutes picking out a meal and dreaming about Wednesday being $3 Captain mixer day before I realized this was a tad out of our WTGW travel zone.
And I say this only to help our friend Varsity, because the place really does have potential on the inside. First off, the space is huge. There are giant big screen TVs over the bar – as you would expect for a place called Varsity (once you actually realize it’s a bar anyway). And there’s a giant bar in the middle of the place with seating for several – again, as you would expect from a place that wants to be a hangout for sporting event viewing. And they have a patio. With a fire pit.
These are all things that scream of success in sports-driven, game-watching, we-want-to-be-outdoors-when-its-nice-out Northeastern Ohio. **sigh**
Speaking of the bar, that’s where we sat. Again. Apparently we’re back to this being our thing.
Angry Orchard was on special – we weren’t clear if it was just for that day, or all Wednesdays, or the month of September in general (*ahem* I bet a website would tell us that *ahem*) – but whatever, sign Shane and me up. Ted got the BumbleBerry from FatHead’s, and immediately made Jerrid jealous with his choice. He ditched his Stella after the next round and switched to the BumbleBerry.
See also: bromance.
So the menu – like everything else in the space – is huge. And it has a lot of variety. It’s not your typical sports bar that only serves burgers and wings – they have pizza, ribs, sandwiches, salads, soups – you name it. And maybe I was just hungry, but everything looked really, really good.
Which could explain why Shane and I gravitated toward the “limitless chips & salsa” as our app. Because diving into anything limitless just before you eat a real meal is really just proper planning on our part, right?
If you know us, you know the correct answer to that is yes.
Jerrid and Amanda got the loaded tater tots. Because, again, how can you go wrong there? Tots and cheese and yummy toppings. They were definitely pleased with their decision.
While we weren’t clear if Angry Orchard was a Wednesday special, we did discover that wings definitely were, at 59 cents/wing on Wednesdays. Not bad. Although the only one in our group to take advantage of that was Ted, who got six of the dry rub Jamaican Jerk wings to go along with his Breakfast Burger – which, as the name implies, comes with bacon and a fried egg of top.
He said the burger was juicy but kind of bland. Which is surprising for something called a “breakfast burger.” Maybe they need to add some maple syrup or flavored bacon to the mix. Or go the McDonald’s route and put it in between pancakes. Because clearly that would help.
Ted didn’t say anything about the wings, which probably means there wasn’t much to say. Ouch.
Keeping up our twinsie routine from last week, Amanda and I both got the Buckeye Burger – which is a fancy way of saying “Mushroom and Swiss Burger” at Varsity. Big surprise we both gravitated to that one, I know.
Unfortunately our burgers didn’t fall under the “juicy” category like Ted’s burger did. I guess maybe his burger got all the juice, because both of ours were dryer than the Nevada desert in the middle of August. And barely pink inside, which we all know is not typically how, well, really any of us in this group like our burgers.
Although honestly I don’t remember the server asking how I wanted my burger done, so I guess “almost well” is just the standard here? Awesome.
I got tater tots with my burger – because, hello, they’re delicious, and not always a staple on menus like fries are, so grab them when you can. But these particular ones were a bit too salty. And I like salt. But these were overkill.
Jerrid got the capreze pizza and a side of fries. He said the pizza was very good. And he even took some of it home. Wait, what now? Is this allowed?
Shane also belonged to the doggie bag club this evening, as he only ate about half of his full rack of ribs. Must’ve been that limitless chips and salsa that set him back. He said the ribs were OK, but he wasn’t a huge fan of the sauce. Which, I mean, is kind of an important component to ribs, no? Without sauce it’s really just the same cooked meat with no taste that you could make at home by yourself. Fantastic.
The service was great. I mean, we did sit at the bar, so that helped … but even so our bartender/server was very attentive and made sure our drinks were never empty and plates were taken away quickly. Although we did notice she was a bit soft spoken for a loud, cavernous place like this, so they may want to consider holding future interviews inside the restaurant with the music on just to test the voice decibel levels of servers down the road. But aside from having to concentrate to hear her, she was great. She even let us move outside to the patio fire pit (see, told you we enjoy these things) later in the evening without worrying we would take off without paying, or holding us up to cash out bills, etc. I mean, there were also only about 10 other people in the whole place, so I’m assuming she figured she could chase us down if need be, but still.
So I guess overall Varsity has a ton of potential … but they need work on perfecting their brand, as well as several of the food options. Like I mentioned, there’s a giant menu – and when we first looked through it we were all pointing out about 150 things that looked good … but afterwards none of us were so overly thrilled with what we’d tried that we felt compelled to schedule another visit in the immediate future to try anything we didn’t have a chance to. Perhaps they should take the menu down a few pages and work on just perfecting those items, rather than having a selection the size of a Cheesecake Factory menu. Just a thought.
Picked by: Jerrid
Next pick: Amanda