WTGW 3/4/20: Tommy’s Bar & Grille, Akron

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Oh Tommy’s, where have you been all of our existence? Or, at the very least, where were you last week as we were experiencing the thrill of unreliable service and feeling like we inconvenienced bartenders as we asked them to let us know what the White Claw flavors might be? 

Ironically, as it turns out, we were pretty much right around the corner. Just going to show that it’s amazing what different worlds exist probably not even a half mile away from one another.

I mean, there’s still pizza. But that was pretty much the only similarity. 

Speaking of pizza, do you think that symbol next to the numbers 9, 12 and 16 denotes the size of the pie, or the number of slices?

Because we heard nine slice pizzas are kind of a thing now, especially on this side of town. 

If you don’t get that last line, I implore you to go read last week’s post. It will make more sense than you want it to after that. And quite honestly if you’re going to continue to read this blog, you probably want to be in on this little inside joke, as chances are this isn’t by any means the last time we’ll reference it. We like to beat these things into the ground with this group.

I mean, anyone up for a trip to Gus’ Chalet? No? 

Anyway.

Tommy’s is definitely off the radar, and by that I mean it seems we might be about the only people who realized it was open on a Wednesday night. Well, I take that back – there were a few people who came in to pick up take out orders. They definitely seem to be busier at the to-go counter than on the bar side of the space. But other than the five minutes or so each of those customers stayed in the place to grab their orders and pay, it was pretty much just our own little private party with the bartender.

Not that anything is wrong with that, of course. Again, if you want to reference last week, when we couldn’t get the attention of not one, not two, but three different bartenders … it was a relatively nice change of pace to be the sole apple of this person’s eye for a few hours. 

 

WHAT WE ORDERED

Pizza. Duh. It’s apparently the new “burgers and wings” of this group. 

Jason, Shane and Ted all decided to take their chances for another week with this option, even though the nine slice pie was apparently not something they acknowledge at this particular locale. 

Ted got the Road Kill pizza, which is just basically a less fancy way of saying “give me a pizza with every kind of meat possible on top of it.”

Shane got the Deluxe Pizza.

He got a smaller size pizza because he also wanted to get six of the Jumbo Garlic wings. Old habits die hard.

I don’t think there was a fancy name for Jason’s pizza because he just picked the size and added the toppings himself. His had pepperoni, sausage and mushroom on it.

Jason and Cassi also got the garlic bread to start off with. They opted for the small order, which is only four slices. FYI, the large is eight slices. Which sounds excessive but I guess for $11.95 it better be.

They look like tiny little French bread pizzas, no? Points just for cuteness factor alone.

Cassi and I both got Italian subs for our meals, after Cassi took over for Shane in the usual bartender inquisition of the menu and asked what he liked best. He was adamant about the Italian sub being his absolute favorite on the menu, so despite throwing a bit of a wrench in the plans since that wasn’t something either of us were even considering before he said it, we both decided to try it. I mean, what the hell, right? 

I also got a side of fries, since the menu stated they were “fresh cut,” and we all know that’s like advertising that they’re made with liquid gold. Also the guys were talking about McDonald’s fries on the drive over, so in full disclosure that may have influenced my decision just a tad as well.

Taking over for my husband in the category of “trying to order as many items on the menu as possible,” I rounded out the order with an attempt to be healthy by also getting … you guessed it … a side salad. Which I debated about because it was $5.95, a seemingly somewhat exorbatant price for a salad meant to accompany your meal and not be the only item on it. When I asked if it was giant, that was because I was slightly scared of what might arrive.

It certainly wasn’t giant – which may have made me slightly put off about the price, except that the pepperoni, mozzarella and black olives wore me down. I mean, $5.95 for just some lettuce and cucumbers would’ve been disappointing, but this was by far more acceptable. 

 

THE VERDICT

Hey, here’s a fun question that I bet you’ve probably never truly pondered before … what would you do for fresh, delicious, soft bread? 

You’re welcome for the new party ice breaker. 

But I ask that, because I think it’s pretty clear in this group that some of us would probably be convinced to jump from a tall building or walk through a pit of fire if that prize were awaiting us at the other end. 

Fortunately in the case of Tommy’s, no one is requiring American Ninja Warrior style heroics just to get our food, but I think we would all agree that some lengths would be unquestionably scaled in the future for anything that arrived in front of us in some sort of carb-laden form after this visit.

From the garlic bread to the pizza dough to the piece of bread that came with my salad, we were definitely ready to gobble up anything doughy that came near our table. 

I think I called my salad roll “fluffy like a cloud.” So, you know, there’s that. 

Shane was happy because the wings that were advertised as “jumbo” on the menu most definitely arrived looking so, so that was a win. We also won’t have to worry about being visited by vampires any time soon, because I think the amount of garlic they were made with will keep us all under cover for some time. That scent certainly wafted to the opposite end of the table pretty quickly.

And since we all left with to-go boxes at the end of the evening, we weren’t complaining at all about the size of the meals for the prices that we paid.

Also now that we’re tried and deemed the bread and wings truly delicious, this item on the menu that’s actually named the “delicious chicken dinner” holds a lot of street cred. Who volunteers to get that the next time we come in?

I’m sure that Tommy’s will be seeing us again sometime soon. Everything we tried was good, and the service was excellent. I mean, I realize we were practically the only ones there, so it would be interesting to go back when it’s busy and see if that changes things – but honestly I don’t think it will. It seems like the kind of place that just takes care of people no matter what.

Plus, bread-things. Enough said. 

Picked by: Shane (as his “make-good” for the forced pick of awfulness from last week)
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 2/26/20: Giovanni’s Pizza & Sports Bar, Akron

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Time for a WTGW Riddle: this week’s pick is a place that brings back quite a few memories for us on the WTGW crew, because we’ve actually been there several times in the past … although this time around it’s technically not a revisit. How is this possible?

Answer: it changes names. A lot. 

Probably the best way to immediately put a mental picture in anyone’s head of where we went this week would be to give you these two names. J Dublin’s (and our subsequent revisit), and Johnny Malloy’s. 

In Shane’s defense, he had a super scary sketch pick up lined up over in Bedford, but tonight’s “I’m not letting you get over winter that easily” snow storm kept us local. So we decided to come here and see what’s new other than the name.

Spoiler alert, nothing.

Now known as Giovanni’s, the place still serves up pizzas, wings and sandwiches. It still has the same huge and strangely arranged interior with a giant bar in the center of the large room, and tables around the edges.

And it’s still not busy.

By the time you’re done reading this you’ll probably have a pretty good idea as to why that is.  

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So, yeah, it’s a funny thing about working at a bar or restaurant, it actually helps to be nice to people. And maybe know a little bit about the place you’re working. 

We sat down at a table on the far right side of the room (it’s seat yourself, not shockingly), and our server was great about approaching us and immediately asking if we want drinks. Um, sure, but maybe here’s where a beer list, or specials board, or perhaps just use of the English language would be helpful in pointing us toward the direction of what we might like to order? 

Yeah, no such luck. We got a blank stare until Cassi asked if there were any specials (“no”) and then I countered with “Do you have White Claw or Truly?” which earned me a look as if I has just asked her to please take a plastic straw and stab me repeatedly in the eyeball. 

And don’t even get her started on ACTUALLY HAVING TO WALK TO THE COOLER TO CHECK ON FLAVORS.

I mean, the nerve. 

I’m just going to throw this out there, probably making a list of some kind could eleviate all of these issues. Just a guess. I’m not positive. 

But considering the shape of the photocopied menus in various states of sun fading or perhaps paper color choice we received when she returned with our drinks, I have to admit I’m not at all surprised that another printed listing of any kind might be an issue.

Alright then.

So we get our drinks, and the menus, and apparently we must all look like we have issues comprehending food options, because like 20 minutes later still no server has reappeared to see what we might want to order.

I should also reiterate here that it wasn’t at all busy, there were three bartenders doubling as servers, and they could all clearly see our table from their places by or behind the bar.

I mean, the girl who originally gave us our menus and was not at all pleased with having to walk over to consult the cooler to know if our drink options were in stock was clearly SUPER BUSY flirting with one of the pool players who kept appearing at the bar to order shots of Crown Royal, so I can see how that totally would take every moment of her very busy shift to handle.

I have to believe that these are the very statements that the rolling eyes emoji was created to express the emotion behind. 

So, OK, let’s fast forward to the point when we were just about to gather our things and ask for the bill for our drinks, as we consulted phone apps to see what other restaurants in the immediate area might be open and actually wanting to serve us, when one of the other bartenders I think sensed our restlessness and approached us to see if we still needed to order. 

And so we stayed. *sigh* 

I mean, at that point it was really a game of who might be able to serve us faster: another place that we would have to drive to and start all over with, or this place that was clearly already dropping the ball. Nothing like playing Russian roulette with your dinner service. 

But I’m glad to share that we did eventually get food. And of course more than a few comments to go along with it. 

Lets start with Ted. He ordered the side of jojos as an app.

So far so good. 

But then for his dinner he opted for a French dip with a side of chili.

Wow, that chili looks a lot like French Fries. I mean, call me crazy, but someone seems to have taken some cooking liberties there. 

Oh wait, there it is.

Because we always need more food at our table.

Meanwhile, Shane and I started with the southwestern egg rolls.

Shane got 15 wings. He asked the server about the Giovanni dry rub sauce, to which he was told that it was “it’s spicy, but not, but it is a dry rub.”  Oh, well, thanks. Clears that right up. Glad to have asked. 

So he ended up with five of those, along with five Cajun and five honey mustard.

I got a side salad and 10 wings, which I split between the mango habanero and spicy honey BBQ. 

Cassi and Jason got the parm puffs as an app.

Or, as Cassi renamed them after one bite, little pieces of heaven. They may want to rethink their marketing. I mean, it’s not as clear cut as a dry rub wing sauce that says so in the name, but maybe it would at least give the servers something to talk about with patrons. 

For dinner, Cassi got a side salad and a calzone. 

Jason ordered a BBQ chicken pizza.

Now, we need to talk about this pizza or a minute before I show you a picture of it – because I have a feeling this is something that may well be referenced well into eternity with this group. (wait, us beat something into the ground? Never!) But seriously, we’re talking “Russ’ Ballet” level of legacy here. 

So, when Jason was contemplating this pizza, he asked our lovely server how many slices were in each size. And was told that the small pizza is six slices, and the medium pizza is nine.

Wait, what now?

Nine? 

Um, that’s impossible.

Like, how do you equally cut a circle into nine pieces? I’m definitely no math major, but even I was scratching my head at that level of geometry. If this is possible, I think we just invented a new shape. Alert the proper authorities!

Never mind, false alarm.

Yeah, so as you can see from the picture, it actually has six slices. So, wait, is this the small pizza then? 

Well it doesn’t really matter, because we were told as we were waiting for the orders to come out that the pizza would actually be comped because the cook supposedly put the order in wrong.

So maybe it WAS supposed to be a nine slice pizza after all then? I’m so confused. 

But ironically, the pizza came out at the same time as Ted’s chili (the real bowl, not the one that looked like French Fries), which was approximately three minutes after the rest of the food. Hmmm. OK then. Could he maybe have just “misplaced” all of our orders and we could’ve just called this evening a wash? 

THE VERDICT

Well poor Ted had to eat his chili with a fork since he wasn’t offered a spoon. But considering how greasy it was, that utensil may have actually been more appropriate. 

It was definitely more helpful in terms of his sandwich, which unfortunately arrived with a large helping of cheese, and we all know how thrilled Ted of all people is about copious amounts of that particular condiment. He spent a good amount of time de-cheesing his sandwich before he could even take one bite.  

And when he did, let’s just say that it’s a good thing his avertion to cheese isn’t due to dairy intolerance, because the bread was saturated in butter. Like someone dipped it in a stick of melted margarine and let it soak up for a while.

Mmmmm. Tasty. 

Speaking of saturation, they definitely used that recipe for the wing sauce as well, at least for mine. It was like my wings had their own private swimming pool. It’s too bad the flavor seemed to be missing from the recipe when they quadrupled it to make such an abundance. I mean, it was OK. Not great. Just … OK. 

Cassi only ate one slice of her calzone, but that was more because she was so full from the “little slices of heaven” and not because it was anything awful. And she did take the rest home, so it wasn’t a complete loss. 

But I think the thing that has earned Giovanni’s a place in our minds, conversations, and as the certain brunt of many, many of our future punchlines is … you guessed it … the 9-slice pizza. Well, I mean, it wasn’t really … but that will forever be our memory of it. And, I mean, let’s face it – if they were truly forward thinking here, they would find a way to actually make that happen and market it.

Because honestly, a signature item like that may be just what this place really needs to finally give it the footing it takes to survive in this obviously cursed spot of ill-fated Italian restaurants and sports bars. Otherwise, it’s no different than the last two names that preceded it. We can get Italian food at 25 other local places, and most of them would offer us better service that didn’t have us looking for a new location 20 minutes in or making us feel like we’re greatly inconveniencing the servers and bartenders with our thirst and hunger. At this point, we don’t have any reason to go back. 

But a 9-slice pizza … I mean, come on. That’s something special right there. 

It’s also refreshing to see White Claw is basically the same price as tequila. Because, you know, they’re pretty much the same.

This post has evoked so many emoji usage options, and not in a good way.

Picked by … well, Shane, kind of. But since his hands were a little bit tied on this one, we all agreed to give him a do-over for next week. So he gets another try before Cassi takes over the following week.

WTGW 12/11/19: Missing Falls Brewery, Akron

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Here’s a quick lesson in how to be confusing: open two breweries within a relatively short span of time from one another, in neighboring areas about eight miles apart … and then give them very similar sounding names.

Good thinking.

Which is the story behind how our GPS was trying to direct us to Missing Mountain Brewery in Cuyahoga Falls – which we’ve tried to go to at least three times now (including this magical night) but haven’t seemed to find the secret password needed in order to get a table in their seat yourself environment – when really we wanted to go to Missing Falls Brewery – which is located in the same building as R. Shea’s newest location near downtown Akron, and Ted’s pick this week.

Seriously, was there some sort of rule that came out in 2018 that all new breweries had to have the word “missing” in them? Does no one own a thesaurus?

OK then.

Side note, we were at the new R Shea’s location a few months ago for a Saturday night out, and we really liked it. I mean, we’re still partial to the original location in the Valley, but with the same great beer selection and expanded food options, we definitely enjoyed visiting this location as well.

Missing Falls looks very similar inside to R. Shea’s – the open industrial look showcasing that the building was once a factory, a big room with a bar in the center and several tables scattered around. There’s also a patio space outside, but since it was about 20 degrees on this December evening, we wisely opted to stay indoors.

And in this case it was also wise because being outdoors would’ve made it that much harder to get to the bar every time we needed to order something. That’s right, Missing Falls features our least favorite system of ordering, where instead of having servers, you have to go up to the bar and place your orders yourself. Because that always bodes well for us.

Here’s looking at you, Erie St Kitchen. Oh the memories.

We also walked into the space in the midst of some sort of card game at several of the tables. A look at the website after the fact confirms it was a euchre tournament. But without that knowledge in the moment it was kind of walking what you thought would be just a house party, and discovering it’s really a championship game night … and that you had forgotten to bring the game board, team, and rule book. So we’ll just drink and eat all the food then, I guess. Cool. I mean, that’s really kind of our usual thing anyway.

WHAT WE ORDERED

So the beer specialty at Missing Falls seems to be of the IPA variety, which Shane somehow glossed over when reading the descriptions and ended up ordering a few of as part of his flight. And we can l guess just how happy that made him, no?

Oops.

I think part of the reason he missed that, though, was because we were all super excited to see that there were about five different varieties of chips offered on the menu. Flavored potato chips?  And not just BBQ, exotic sounding things like Maui Onion, Sriracha Honey, and whatever the hell Hai Poke Wonton might be? Yes please, sign us up.

Gentle PSA: this is what arrives when you order those.

I mean, they are the advertised flavors. And full disclosure, they are still awesome. But I kind of feel like they were cheating a bit with the product description here. The menu specifically points out that all chips are gluten free, cholesterol free, kosher, cooked in peanut oil, come in these tasty flavors … that, oh yeah, let’s not bother to mention, we didn’t make here ourselves. Our bad.

Or maybe they should just team up with The Lockview, home of the Lawson’s French Onion dip served at our table in the actual plastic tub like they just bought it at the corner store down the street.

Because we seem to be in a groove recenty of everyone at the table ordering the same thing, it makes sense that Shane, Cassi and Ted all got the same sandwich, The Hitman.

Before you think maybe you’ve had too many beers through the wonder of osmosis and this post, those really are three different pictures of the same sandwich, just with different chips.

See also: making up for the times I forgot to take photos of things with a million pictures of one sandwich. Whatevs.

I got the El Dorado pizza.

Just one photo, although it kind of almost doesn’t fit, so I guess I could’ve taken two?

Jason got the BBQ wrap with the BBQ chips.

Cassi and Jason also ordered the pretzels as an app, and were predictably thrilled when it showed up with their meals instead of ahead of time as the word appetizer would imply.

THE VERDICT

So if you like the feeling of your mouth being engulfed in flames, you should definitely order exactly what I did. Sriracha chips paired with a pizza featuring sriracha sauce drizzled on top may have been slight overkill. Or at least a killer on my taste buds. But what they tasted before dying out was definitely enjoyable.

The pretzels were also winners of the evening. I commented that they looked delicious, to which Cassi relied that “oh they sure are.” And everyone said that they liked the sandwiches also. I didn’t hear any notes about Top 5 material or anything like that, but perhaps that’s just because that list isn’t as easily maintained as the burger and wings lists, since, you know, we typically order those every week.

(If you haven’t guessed, Missing Falls doesn’t offer burgers or wings, so therefore that’s why this was a rare week with neither option showcased on our table. I’m sure we’ll be back to normal next week.)

But even though the food was decent, we all had to agree that the beers were a disappointment – and probably the biggest hinderance to a revisit decision in the future for us. Of course we’ve all learned by now that product descriptions are misleading – I’ve been suckered in far too many times by the words “hints of caramel and chocolate,” only then to be served a glass of something the consistency of motor oil that tastes like tree bark. But even so, there’s still usually one or two on a flight that we order on a whim and end up surprising us.

And even though Shane was struggling through this paradise of IPAs, you would think that Jason and Ted – who typically enjoy variations of them – would find something they enjoyed.

Nope. There just wasn’t a clear standout, despite ordering across the board and trying things we usually lean toward.

And this was where the location of Missing Falls Brewery may be a hinderance to them … because we all agreed after we finished our meals that, to be perfectly honest, if we were going to be in downtown Akron – and in the same literal building as R. Shea’s – we would just rather go there, and have beers that we already know we enjoy.

And so that’s where we ended the night. We still like the location in the Valley better than the one downtown, but it was still a better option than the wealth of IPAs and tree bark flavored motor oil we would’ve continued with at Missing Falls.

I think we discovered what the “missing” stands for in this instance. We’ll bring you a few flavor suggestions along with that thesaurus next time around.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

WTGW 9/18/19: REVISIT – Frank’s Place on Market, Akron

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As mentioned in our last post, we’re on a revisit month here at WTGW, while we all take turns rotating out for work and life commitments. Because clearly we’re still not a big enough deal for the rest of our lives to catch up and realize this is what we do on Wednesday nights.

This week we’re missing Ted, who was out of state for a family wedding.

After our difficulty finding a place in Cuyahoga Falls to revisit last week, we thought it best to branch out to nearby Akron for this week. And it’s been more than a hot minute since our last visit to Frank’s Place (five years!) – but of course we remember we liked it because we got free booze and desserts the last time we were here.

Yes, we’re that easy. Have we not all realized this by now?

Our other memory was that we nearly got nailed by sharp objects as we walked in the front door, thanks to dart leauges on an already busy night and some improperly placed dartboards. Which seemed slightly sketch and maybe not the best way to make a good impression on folks as they try to come in and enjoy a beer and some dinner. But whatevs.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Well as much as we’d like an appetizer of a trip to Jamaica, that seemed somewhat unfeasible and a little much to splurge on for a Wednesday night. But thanks for giving it a page in the menu, that was fun to read.

Shane and I opted for the spicy hot pepper balls instead. Because that’s almost the same.

Cassi and Jason got the chips and dip, after a lengthy discussion about not being able to get the special dip when you get the chips as a side – only as an app. Anyone else think this is weird? Like what makes this dip so special that it only comes as part of the app?

Hey Shane got a burger and wings. Anyone shocked? No? Didn’t think so. He got the regular burger with pepper jack cheese.

Cassi got the same, just a different cheese and a side salad instead of that side of fries that seems to be so popular with our group.

I got the wise guy burger with a side salad.

Jason got the cowboy burger with crinkle cut fries.

Also while they did have Black Cherry White Claw, we opted for the Natural Light hard seltzer – because who doesn’t feel classy drinking a form of Natty Light at a place where the evening’s dinner special is salmon?

THE VERDICT

So I ordered my burger cooked medium, and was served one that was very much looking like it was the color of the inside of a grapefruit. Hmm. I’ve seen those color charts on the chain steakhouse menu that basically depict “grilling colors for dummies,” and that doesn’t seem to match up. Might’ve wanted to leave that one on the grill a bit longer there, chief.

That made Shane nervous to even cut into his, which he ordered medium rare. And we all know how he feels about places that serve burgers that seems to have just been killed fresh in the backyard.

See also: why we haven’t been back to The Rail in, well, ever.

Let’s just say that if you’re reading this then that means that neither of us died from some sort of food-borne undercooked meat disease, and that might be something short of a miracle.

Fingers crossed.

Cassi ordered hers well done, and that seemed to have been the best choice on the non-sketch scale. So the moral of the story here seems to be that you should take into consideration the color you want your burger to be, and order about two levels up on the cooking scale for this place.

Apparently the special you-can-only-get-it-as-part-of-the-appetizer chip dip was the bomb. So let’s just go back to this, because we’re still a bit perplexed about why they can’t make this available as a part of any other order of chips on the menu? I mean, here’s an idea, why not sell it as a side with the chips that you’re already making people upsell to get as a side dish. $2.00 for chips, $2.00 for the dip.

I’m not saying we’re brilliant or anything, but if you try that for a year and then cut us a check for that extra compensation maybe it will make it more obvious just how smart this really is?

The salads were good. Croutons were a hit. And the crinkle cut fries were hot and delicious also.

Plus who doesn’t love getting a receipt with a line item for an $8 order of “balls”?

Overall a good little gem of a place that it’s surprising it took us five whole years to return to. It seems that Wednesdays are no longer dart nights, a change that means not only is it easier to get a table this time around, but your chances of getting impaled by a dart upon entry have greatly decreased as well.

Although if impalement is your thing, you can take your chances that you may have a sharp knife rolled in your silverware setting. Or it may be a butter knife. Who knows? You could make a drinking game out of guessing which one you might uncover.

If you haven’t learned by now, we definitely make our own fun wherever we go, kids. Whether that’s playing with sharp objects or ordering slightly sketch meats.

Good times.

But we did miss getting free desserts and shots here this time around. That’s something you shouldn’t take away, ever.

Restaurant owners, take note.

WTGW 3/20/19: Thirsty Dog Taphouse, Akron

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey, look kids, it’s someplace that’s not a half hour away in the middle of nowhere!

Which makes it all the more surprising that we haven’t been to Thirsty Dog Taphouse prior to this visit. While the brewery itself has been around for a while (and we’ve definitely sampled their beer offerings at other locations around the area over the years), the taphouse with food offerings is fairly new. Maybe it opened last summer? You’d think a group like ours would know these things, right? And especially when it’s this close to home, we’re usually quicker to jump on them. Instead we’re busy fleshing out spots on backroads in Massilon. Whateves.

Another plus – TDT not only serves their own craft beers, but also has a full bar available. So those nights you’re just not feeling the 12% porter, go ahead and get yourself a few stiff shots of Jameson instead.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Flights of beer. Duh.

High tech post it note abbreviation system

That was all me, Shane and Ted. On the other side of the table, Cassi stuck with the raspberry ale, while Jason tried a couple of different full sized glasses.

On the food side of things, it seems our table was decisively either Team Sliders

Pulled pork, meatball and sausage. It’s hard to tell which is which, but they’re all there.

or Team Pizza

Cassi’s pepperoni and banana pepper

Ted’s jalapeno and sausage

My sausage, mushroom and extra cheese

Well, except Jason, who had to be different and get the pulled pork.

And Shane, who apparently just couldn’t get enough of sandwiches this evening, so he added a full kielbasa to his order of sliders.

That’s a lot of bread

And Ted got both the sliders and pizza. Way to be impartial.

So there’s that.

We also got a few orders of pretzels for apps, because we obviously had no idea how many carbs were about to arrive at this table.

The pretzels were really good. We all liked them, and the cheese and mustard dipping sauces were all good, too – if not completely inappropriately portioned to the amount of pretzel that came with them.

Oh, and Cassi also got a salad.

Everything was very good. The pizzas were tasty, and giant – so definitely enough for a take home container. I was glad to have splurged on the extra cheese as a topping, it was well worth the $2.00 upcharge.

Ted voted the pulled pork slider the best of his trio, with the meatball coming in second and the sausage last. When he threw this vote out, Shane had only eaten the meatball. Because, you know, he had that whole kielbasa sandwich to get through first. Technicality. So he saved his pulled pork slider for last, based on Ted’s vote.

So trusting.

But it worked out for him, he was I agreement that that was the best of the three. So maybe Jason was on to something with just ordering that full sandwich from the get go, eh?

THE WHO (we saw)

Hey, Wednesday night, thanks for bringing your party to the Taphouse! In March, no less. Not too shabby of a crowd for the middle of the week – or maybe we’re just scarred from last week with the old timers and melancholy jukebox hero from Wil’s. In any case, tonight we were joined by a few other full tables of folks, plus a couple of groups at the bar.

All this, and they’re only open until 9pm.

Wait, what now? That seems a tad Cinderella-ish to close down the party that early in the evening. Let’s just say we were the last table out the door, and they were literally locking it behind us. At 8:55.

Huh. Noted.

Our server was also the only bartender on staff this evening. So considering what I just mentioned, they really could’ve used more than one person, no? It took her a hot minute to come get our drink orders after we arrived, which she told us was because someone had come in wanting to fill a growler. Well OK then.

And when she finally did take our food order she was not at all impressed with how much of the menu we selected. Bonus points for when I inquired about what she recommended in the battle of the pizza vs. sliders … and her reply was the old classic “they’re both good.” Bravo. We all know how much this group finds that answer super helpful and not at all dismissive.

We also found ourselves in another “you ordered last so you get to watch everyone else eat” situation. When she brought Shane’s and Jason’s sandwiches she warned us it would still be a full five minutes on the last pizza. Oh, cool. That might’ve been better information to have when I ordered, but thanks.

THE HOW (much we spent)

In case you can’t read the fine print, that’s $75 before tip. So almost $90 total out the door.

Ouch.

That definitely makes this one of our more expensive nights out in a while. And it’s not like we got steaks and bottle service. Also, the menu itself isn’t even that extensive. I think approximately half of the available items ended up on our table at some point in the evening.

It did seem like the pizzas were kind of pricey, but I’m guessing they probably expected groups of people to split those. Little did they know that this table is more like

THE WHY (they may see us again)

Cool vibe, although literally rolling up the sidewalks at 8:55 was a bit of a downer. The food was pretty good and so was the beer. And it’s close to home, which is always something we’re searching for. But the hefty price tag may make us rethink this as a crowd favorite.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Steph

Shane

WTGW 2/6/19: Fire and Ice, Akron

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THE WHERE (we went)

Fire and Ice, which is located … well, to hell if I really know. With the dense fog and darkness it could’ve honestly been the set of every horror movie, ever.

I do know we encountered an unusual number of roundabouts, and Ted also made a wrong turn onto a divided highway – so for a brief time we were literally that famous scene from the movie  Planes Trains and Automobiles.

And then trying to get to the parking lot was one giant never ending u-turn. You know it’s going to be a good night when you almost get killed getting there, right?

THE WHAT (we ordered)

A whole lot of pretzels to start with, as everyone but Ted enjoyed those as an appetizer.

Double take

They were tasty. And good enough to somewhat distract Cassi from her annoyance that the soda she had mixed with her tequila was flat.

I got the mushroom Swiss burger with onion rings.

Why is my burger wearing a pickle hat?

It was good. The bottom bun was toasted but the top wasn’t so that made it a little interesting. But overall it was a decent burger.

Shane got 12 wings, on recommendation of the bartender. More on that in a minute. She listed the mango habanero and sweet Thai chili as the best flavors for sauces, so he trusted her judgement and selected those, so six and six.

I’m not sure why Shane seems armed to punch someone in this photo. Maybe they stepped too close to his wings.

It should be noted that we all just stared at Shane after this portion of the order, as we expected it to be followed with the order of a burger, or a pizza, or hell at this point even a salad … just something else to accompany his meager 12 wing dinner. When he announced that was all for him and the server could move on to the next person, we all immediately expressed our concern that he might quite literally suffer from starvation with such a light dinner.

You all need friends like this in your lives. Take note.

But he liked all of the wings, so at least his gamble on only getting one meal worked in his favor. He said there wasn’t too much difference between the two flavors, but at least they both tasted good so it didn’t much matter.

Ted got The Godfather, which is this place’s fancy name for an Italian sub.

Colorful

This earned him a coveted “good choice” from the server – which, can we just sidebar here for a minute so we can all agree that hearing these words makes you feel like you just picked the lucky menu item whenever that happens? Like balloons should drop from the ceiling and you should get to pose for a picture holding one of those giant checks that just reads “GOOD CHOICE” on the front of it. No matter what mood you’re in, hearing a server tell you that you picked a winner on the menu is like scratching off the lucky symbol on a lottery ticket that already exposed two identical sums of money.

Anyway.

Because he’s not on the Shane diet this evening, Ted also got six of the Cajun dry rub and six mango habanero wings. The Cajun were the clear winners in his book. He said the others were just OK, and that they didn’t have a lot of flavor to them – especially compared to the Cajun.

He liked the sandwich, too, but maybe not as much as the server did.

Jason got the Fire and Ice burger with fries, which he seemed to like well enough. I think his word was “decent,” so take that as you will.

Another pickle hat. Maybe someone should tell them the condiments belong on the other side of the bun.

Last at the table to order, Cassi got the Chicken Philly, with onion rings.If Ted won the award for best choice at the table, Cassi took home the test of your patience prize, as she watched all of our food get delivered and then suffered through a good awkward pause before the server reappeared and asked us if we needed anything else. Uh, the fifth meal for the table? Just a thought.

They swore it was just taking longer to cook the chicken, but we think they legit just straight up forgot about her order. Although once it arrived she said it was well worth the wait – that the bun was toasted and there was a ton of chicken included on it, so she was more than happy. Definitely a better outcome than waiting all that time for crap.

THE WHO (we saw)

First of all, watch out for this guy.

The bouncer looks a bit … stiff

I can’t speak for the group but I know personally that mannequin was the cause of a few startled moments in my evening.

Our server was also the bartender, and she did a pretty good job considering she was the only person handling the entire floor and bar area. Now granted it’s not as if the place was totally packed … but I’m guessing the crowd was somewhat significant for where and what this place is on a random Wednesday evening.

In any case, she was super nice, although perhaps not exactly overly excited about answering our varied and substantial menu questions. Case in point: when Shane asks her which she prefers, the burgers or wings (because, you know, that’s all we ever order), she says without hesitation that the wings are better. OK. Seems reasonable. But then later as the rest of the group is giving their orders she lets it slip that she’s actually not a burger person. Like that she usually doesn’t even ever eat them. So that kind of negates her instant and definite pick for the wings, now doesn’t it? I mean, because obviously she’s not choosing the burger in that scenerio. It’s like saying “hey, there’s a gun to your head, you can choose the thing you’re horribly allergic to, or the other thing I haven’t said yet but obviously I’ve left you no choice but to select.”

In a perfect world, she could’ve prefaced her recommendation with “well I don’t really like burgers, so obviously I would take the wings … but given the choice between [insert menu item she really likes here] and wings, I would choose …”

So there’s that.

Also, special shout out to the kitchen girl who announced in the exact opposite of a library voice that The Godfather and the wings would be coming out at some point after the burgers. So, you know, at least Shane was prepared when his curse of getting his food after most people at the table continued. But still, probably could’ve done without human megaphone announcing that to the entire bar.

Wednesdays are also pool league nights, or we just happened to pick the night to share the bar with all of the intensely serious pool players who bring their own pool sticks in carrying cases. In any case, we definitely weren’t venturing away from our group with a table full of what could be considered legit weapons sitting nearby.

THE HOW (much we spent)

The $4 mixed drinks were a hit, as were the far cheaper Bud Lights. I think the app was a bit pricey at $6, even if it was delicious I’m not sure it should’ve been basically the same price as six of the wings. But overall still not a bad evening out. Maybe Shane needs to only order one meal for dinner more often.

THE WHY (they may/may not see us again)

Overall the service was good – I mean, other than the whole forgetting one of our meals thing, but at least the sandwich she was eventually served was literally hot off the grill, and wasn’t just lost to the heat lamp in the back corner because they didn’t realize it belonged at our table. But over the course of the evening we found the bartender was quick to make eye contact with one of us at the table to get a feel for who needed drink refills before she walked over, so that she could arrive with the next round when she came to check on us. Keeping us full on alcohol is always a good pitstop on the path to our hearts.

I think we would return. If we could find it again on a map anyway.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Cassi

Steph

Jason

Ted

WTGW 1/15/19: Craft Cantina, Merriman Valley

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THE WHERE (we went)

That’s a question best answered by first telling you where we didn’t go: Springfield, Ohio. As is 180 miles away from us. Not Springfield Township, where we’ve been frequently. Jason learned an important lesson in checking the directions before thinking the place was too good to be true.

But, you know, if we ever are 180 miles away, the Hickory Inn sounds like an amazing pick. Just sayin’.

So we ended up with a collective vote to check out Craft Cantina in the Valley, after throwing out around 27 other options and driving aimlessly around Cuyahoga Falls for about 15 minutes. But at least that drive was educational, in that we learned the old Barmacy space in the Valley is currently uninhabited, and a sketch place in Akron that Shane has been eyeing doesn’t have food, so that was out as a pick.

Using our time wisely, folks.

Craft Cantina is also the younger and smaller sister to Crave Cantina, which we visited a while back when the then-new downtown Cuyahoga Falls location opened. So this isn’t exactly a revisit, more like just choosing another location of a chain, something some of us in the group are prone to doing every now and again. Not naming any names or anything.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Drinks of course and foremost … because, well, you should know that about us by now. Plus we had just been driving around for what felt like an eternity so we had to make up for lost time.

Cassi and I went with mixed drinks. I highly recommend the Tiki Mojito. It was delicious.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered a beer, which Ted at least had the courtesy to wait until the server walked away before announcing that Shane would definitely not enjoy drinking.

Newsflash: Ted was right. His prize was Shane’s beer.

For apps Cassi and Jason got the Disco Fries. Which did not arrive with a tiny mirror ball attached to the plate, so I feel a little cheated and like that was a marketing opportunity completely lost.

So. Many. Possibilities.

Regardless, they said they were delicious. I guess that’s more important.

Shane and I got the queso dip with jalepenos. Or Rotel. Or something that gave it some chunkiness without a lot of spice. Which I realize sounds disgusting but trust me it was tasty. The chips were also really good – they had some sort of dusting on them, kind of like Dorito’s in training.

All of us did some fashion of the make your own tacos or bowls – the ordering system of which pretty much confused the hell out of most of us, but somehow we powered through. I mean, I get that this is the new trend for Mexican and Latin American restaurants, but some direction might be helpful. From the server. Or the menu itself. Or, well, anywhere really.

I did the make your own bowl with steak.

It was just OK. The steak wasn’t very good, and the bowl overall just didn’t seem to have a ton of flavor. Maybe that goes back to the whole guidance on ordering thing, as I could’ve probably used some in the area of “sauces-that-add-flavor-without-sacrificing-every-one-of-your-taste-buds-or-your-will-to-live.”

Jason made his own giant burrito with brisket and pineapple. Let’s just say that they aren’t kidding about that giant thing.

This photo seems aggressive

This was something Shane probably would’ve preferred to know before he placed his order – which was not only a create-your-own flank steak burrito, but also one of the fried chicken tacos.

One of these things is unnecessary

Shane ate his taco first, something that probably contributed to his later taking half of his burrito home with him. Because we all know how it pains anyone at this table to ask for a to-go box.

Jason ate his entire burrito, but was a bit regretful of that afterwards.

Ted got three tacos – one of the Buttermilk Fried Chicken tacos from the House Specialties section of the menu, and then two tacos that he created himself – a blackened chicken with pineapple, and a fried chicken with Verde sauce.

He liked the fried chicken the best. He said they were all good, bit that was the favorite.

Just to be clear, I’m still not exactly certain how the fried chicken and the buttermilk fried chicken are different from one another. I mean, aside from the absence of buttermilk in one of them and all. Come on now. But like who knew there were two ways to make fried chicken that goes on tacos?

He also got a side of dirty rice. Because there clearly wasn’t enough food already on the table.


Cassi made her own tacos – one with chorizo and one with fish.

She liked one better than the other. I could let you guess, but let’s just say that the one that rhymed with “dish” was the clear winner.

We also got orders of house made fresh guacamole – pico for me and Shane, cotija cheese for Cassi and Jason. And yes I had to consult the menu in order to get the spelling of that cheese correct. Listening to Shane try to pronounce it resulted in several variations that aren’t suitable for print.

It pains me to even have to say this, but the guacamole was a little disappointing. Shane said it had too much lemon. The rest of us thought it didn’t have too much of anything, except maybe avacados.

We also had to order the entire large side order just so that Shane could have guac as a side for his burrito – since this whole fresh-made system means you can’t just get a small portion slapped into a tiny side container like in regular Mexican restaurants. That seems excessive, no?

I mean, I’m only sort of complaining, because you really do’t have to twist my arm to eat guac. Even when it’s not to tasty. And of course there were more of those Dorito-ish chips, because we definitely could’ve eaten our weight in those throughout the course of the evening. And don’t think we didn’t try.

THE WHO (we saw)

No one. Literally no one.

Well, OK, the server like two or three times. And one other group at the bar. But in the dining room, yeah, well, we were kind of it.

We also think Elton John might’ve been there in spirit, as the jukebox literally never stopped playing his songs. So either someone before us played the joke of programming the next five hours of songs on their way out the door, or one of the staff members really, really likes his work. Or maybe they got a deal on the machine since it can only play his music. We may never know.

THE HOW (much we spent)

Well I forgot to note the receipt, so it’s hard to answer that one in this post. It’s a new concept for the blog, it takes some getting used to. Stop badgering me.

THE WHY (they will/won’t see us again)

Well I’m sure they would like for us to come back, since it seemed like they could use the business. And I think we all would go back, just maybe order something slightly different than what we got this time around. Shane and Jason said they would just get the tacos again, but not the burritos. They said they “were too much.” And those are definitely not words that get thrown around lightly in this group. I would get a bowl again, but not the steak and definitely with more spicy sauce of some kind.

Of course, given the ordering system, we might try to order something different and then end up with the exact same thing we got this time without even trying. Hard to say.

Picked by: Jason

Jason

Jason, mid-decision

Cassi

Ted

Shane

Steph