Shane got all excited this week when I announced that I was picking a place in North Hill. Because, well, potentially slightly scary places are intriguing to him. Even when they aren’t bars run out of houses.
There’s also this:
Because that seems wise.
History lesson time: I guess this place is the old The Office – which moved to Cuyahoga Falls a while back. We visited that location a few years ago, and were underwhelmed. I believe this original location just reopened with a new name and menu about a year ago.
Spoiler alert: we were far more impressed with this new place than the original-in-a-new-building.
Although – and here’s where my magical marketing hat of common sense comes into play … there seems to be some discrepancy with the name of this new place, as it can be found under either Akron City Tavern, or Stray Dog Tavern. Meanwhile, the website title shows up in the bar as The Office City Tavern. I’ll take the identity crisis special with a side of you might want to just choose one brand new name and stick with it, please. It seriously took me about 20 minutes of googling to make sure that all of these names were, in fact, leading me to the exact same place.
I feel like I should get some sort of prize for completing that scavenger hunt.
In reality what they should name the place is the Tiny Little Two-Topped Tavern, because the place is super small inside. And has very few table options for parties larger than two or four. Which bodes well for our party of five, no? We ended up at the only table big enough to accommodate us, right at the front in the window. But at least the bartender came over and turned on the overhead light fixture just for us. Point one for hospitality.
Now is probably also a good time to mention that the place wasn’t busy at all. Like it was just two other people and the bartender inside when we walked in – so our group of five essentially more than doubled the population of the place. I think the other two people were also friends of the bartender’s, not actual paying customers. So there’s that.
It should be no surprise that the first thing Jason and Shane noticed was that they had Hamm’s. Cheap beer connoiseurs, these ones.
Shane: Ah, it tastes like a dive bar in Chicago.
For apps, Ted went with mussels, Shane and I went with the veggie spring rolls, and Cassi and Jason decided on the chips and dip.
The chips and dip ended up being the big winner. The dip was excellent. We think it may have been Lawson’s chip dip, but without the plastic container actually on the table in front of us it’s hard to say for sure.
The mussels also ended up being very good. They had just enough garlic without being overwhelming. When we raved about them, the bartender told us that the key is that the cook starts the sauce with garlic and beer ahead of time, then throws the mussels in later. I’m no chef, but I can say for certain that whatever he’s doing is certainly working. Also, I’m not sure the chef appreciates you giving out his secrets, but thanks?
Shane wasn’t thrilled with the veggie spring rolls. I thought they were OK – but nothing I needed to order again.
I’d read that no matter what name you call this place, burgers are a big speciality here. So of course that’s what we all ordered. Hey, how else are we supposed to confirm that if we don’t try them? I mean, seriously.
Food twins Jason and Shane both got the Danny Boy’s – which includes a fried egg and corned beef on top of the burger. I guess this particular one also won the top award at the National Hamburger Festival in downtown Akron this past summer. So, you know, no big pressure to be amazing or anything.
Shane debated over adding a second 7oz patty to his sandwich, but the bartender talked him out of it. Apparently he doesn’t read this blog. And of course Shane said later he could’ve actually used it. Not only because it tasted pretty damn good, but also because 7oz of meat is really not a lot for someone who eats like he does.
**insert 15 year old humor here**
Ted got the Caprese burger. As in, essentially a Caprese salad on top of a burger. My guess is that this was less an attempt to be healthy and more an effort – as in all of Ted’s endeavors – to avoid cheese.
The chef came over to the table as the food was delivered, and apologized for not having enough shaved mozzerella cheese on it. Little did he know that he hit the right person with that sentence. I think Ted about fell off of his chair trying to stop him when the chef said he would go back and get more for him, since he had already actually donated what was there to Shane. Such a good friend.
Cassi got the bacon cheeseburger. I’m going to guess you’re intelligent enough to guess what was on that one. She said it was delicious. And that this was probably the best food she’s had in all the weeks she’s been out with us. #winning
I got the Akron Burger, which was a burger topped with grilled chip-chopped ham, chips and Lawson’s French onion dip. Because nothing says Akron like chip-chopped ham and Lawson’s chip dip, I take it? I clearly haven’t lived here long enough to learn these connections.
Everyone agreed that the burgers were amazing. They’re all freshly cooked, no frozen patties here. And cooked to order, so you know that won Shane over. All the various toppings added to the burger instead of taking over and overpowering the meat itself. And even the buns were good.
So. Many. Jokes. in those last two sentences. Must restrain.
But in all seriousness, Shane put the burgers in his Top Two. And then later said they may actually be his favorite. That’s high praise, folks.
I mean, we all know those famous Shane numerical order lists are written in stone … for at least like a week.
The fries were the only slight disappointment, at least in my opinion. They weren’t horrible, but after I had the chips and dip I wished I had gotten the chips as my side instead. I will say that the portion was still good – what looked like a small amount when they arrived turned out to be just enough to be filling … without being like hey, I just ate about 15 fried potatoes so please roll me out the door.
But to kind of balance that out, there were homemade pickles with the burgers. Right? Homemade. Like not out of a jar butter chips. Clearly Lawson’s trumps Vlassic in Akron.
The place also has great service. I mean, granted, we were the only ones there – but still the bartender/server was very attentive, and instead of just yelling over the bar at us (because let’s face it, we weren’t that far away) he would actually walk around and come check on us, ask us if we needed refills, etc. He also encouraged us to just yell at him if we needed anything at all. Just like home.
Another plus: when Cassi and I ran out the keg of cider we were both drinking, he gave me the last half glass that was poured (since he had no other ciders on tap or bottle) at no charge. And seemingly felt really bad about not having any other selection. Now, if we go back down the road and there’s more than one cider selection on the menu then I’ll really be impressed. Even more so if they wanted to name it after us. Just a thought.
Although, had I seen this sign, maybe I would’ve gone with this special:
Must be a new competitor to the more well known Leinenkugel’s. We’ll see how that fares.
We also noticed a special for $5 classic burger and a 16oz can of Hamm’s during all Cleveland sports games. Shane said he would be in for like three of those. Somehow I think he just means three of the burgers, and far more of the Hamm’s.
I have to admit, while we weren’t sure what to expect when we walked in – it’s small, it was practically empty, and it’s in a somewhat sketch neighborhood – Akron City/Stray Dog/The Bar Formerly Known As The Office Tavern turned out to be a really good pick. Cassi said it may be the best since she’s started coming out with us – although to be fair, it is up against places that smelled like Grandmas house and only have two items on the menu. But we all agreed this place is a hidden gem. Really good food, great service, and decent prices. I mean, what more can you ask for, right? Don’t let the location scare you, because it’s definitely worth the trip. I for one would love to see this one thrive, and not have a party of five be the biggest thing to show up on a Wednesday night. That being said, if we show up in a few months and there’s a line for our window table I might be a little bit irritated. Just sayin.
Picked by: Steph