WTGW 1/2/19: The Noisy Oyster, Merriman Valley

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Happy New Year!

To kick off the new year, we’re trying a bit of a simpler format for this little blog here. I’m calling it a little more just the facts, and a little less let’s write a novel about a place where we had a meal.

Because, you know, we’ve all thought we found the perfect recipe online and when we click through instead we’re treated to 17 paragraphs about how their Aunt Rose’s love of pancakes, pineapples and visiting flea markets on Saturdays is in some way connected to this amazing FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GINA, I HAVE GUESTS SHOWING UP AT MY HOUSE IN 45 MINUTES AND I JUST NEED TO KNOW WHAT TEMPERATURE TO PREHEAT THE OVEN. Damn.

But don’t worry, one thing that won’t change is the sass. Obviously. Because I still speak fluent sarcasm, people, no matter the length of the speech. I don’t think I know how to exist without that element.

Anyway.

THE WHERE (we went)

The Noisy Oyster, a place in the Valley we have all driven past about 2,874 times but honestly were a little afraid to walk inside of.

See also:  about 87% of the places we’ve been to over the past 5+ years. So, you know, just another Wednesday night with this group.

We actually did walk into the Noisy Oyster a few weeks ago, but realized that Wednesday nights are apparently “you-can’t-get-a-seat-if-you-arrive-after-7” nights, a.k.a. trivia nights. But since it’s still the holidays and the late arriver home (me) was still on vacation, we were actually able to get out to dinner at 5pm, where we found a completely different atmosphere.

Cue jokes about the Golden Buckeye Card Holders and 4PM Early Bird Dinner Specials.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that the parking lot was deceptively full for the three occupied tables inside. Apparently it was laundry night for all of the other cars parked in the shared lot.

Insider tip – the view by the windows will seem enticing, but unless you enjoy chilly drafts and giant spiders I would recommend going elsewhere. Trust us on this one. Jason tried a few times to fix the draftiness, but we were concerned his efforts might actually just push the window into the stream below. Which would also bring us closer to the giant scary spiders hibernating on the other side of the glass.

We finally just gave up and moved to an open high top toward the back of the bar. Sometimes we’re smart.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

The guys started out the evening attempting to order their old friend, the $2.00 16oz Hamms special. I’m sure you can already tell by the tone of that sentence how far that got them. The server blamed New Year’s Eve for the empty Hamm’s cooler, a statement which may tell you more about this place than this entire review.

We ended up with DownEast ciders for three of us, and a draft IPA for Jason. Fashionably late, Ted also opted for the IPA when he arrived.

The menu features a lot of seafood, which I know is shocking given the name of the restaurant. Given Shane’s allergy to shrimp (which he for some reason hates for us to talk about so, shhhh, keep it a secret between us, ‘k?) we of course hoped that Shane didn’t order anything that might be cooked in the same oils, fryers or grills as the element that might kill him.

Living on the edge to start 2019, kids.

And we can definitely trust a place which still has placards on the table advertising a seasonal cocktail that appears to be left over from summer.

Did we travel to the Southern Hemisphere?

Cassi and Jason got an app of calamari.

Fresh from the freezer, not the ocean.

Cassi started off with a side salad, which I’m not sure what it’s usually served on the side of, but it was about as big as the regular salad I ordered.

This is a very generous side salad, no?

Then she had the breaded shrimp platter with waffle sweet potato fries for her meal.

This looks like the unhealthy version of what Ted ordered

Jason got the honey mustard wing dings

Along with the mushroom Swiss burger with fries

Ted got smoked oysters to start

Anyone else not picture oysters looking this way in their minds? No, just me?

And the Cajun shrimp

This looks too healthy to be at our table

I got the garden salad, with six of the Thai chili regular wings

I think the primary difference between the side salad and the real salad is the two dressings

Shane got a regular cheeseburger with cheddar cheese and the Saratoga chips

And six garlic parm wing dings

Garlic parm with extra breading please

I’m sure the million dollar question on your mind right now is “what the eff is a wing ding, and how is it different from a regular wing,” right? Well, it should be, because if it’s that obvious and we didn’t know then I feel pretty stupid right about now.

According to the server, the wing dings have more breading than the regular wings. Um, OK. Which seems a little unusual then that they are actually done faster than regular wings. Like 15 minutes faster.

Must be some new quick bake breading they invented.

In any case, I’m not sure we determined which kind were better. But the good news is that we liked both kinds, so I guess that counts for something? I really liked the regular wings, the sauce was tasty. Jason gave the wing dings a thumbs up. Shane really liked his, too, claiming that he could eat 25 of them. He was done with his before mine even hit the table – which I guess really isn’t that much of a shock, but still.

THE WHO (we saw)

The crowd was … well … interesting. We’ve already established that is was definitely much older, and that the majority cleared out after the early bird dinner hour was over but before the beginning of Jeopardy. Trivia brought in a few younger folks to fill those empty seats, but not enough to make us not feel like we were still the youngest ones there.

On another note, the group tried their hands at trivia again. Unlike the last time we tried this endeavor, we were in 5th place going into the final question – which meant we maybe had a real shot at winning.

Yeah, not even close.

So the streak of the Moist Towelettes is over. Well, I mean, if you can call one win a streak. Which I believe the guys did.

THE HOW (much we paid) 

Who doesn’t love paying $4.75 for a can of cider? This group.

Plus when the $2 beers were gone, there was really nothing on the menu close to being able to replace that. Shane got a $3 Modelo draft … but said that wasn’t exactly the same. Or the preference.

Sorry Modelo. You just got rated lower than a $2 can of Hamm’s. Ouch.

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

I think a return visit may come down to us deciding we need to go someplace close by on a night when we are able to eat dinner at the hour of the 80 year olds. The food was good – both kinds of wings got a thumbs up, as did both kinds of shrimp. Ted wasn’t really impressed with the oysters, but said he wouldn’t let that deter him from returning. Jason mentioned that although he always gets nervous when he orders a burger and they don’t ask how he wants it cooked, this time the gamble paid off in his favor.

I think overall the consensus was that the food would be worth a repeat trip, but the interesting crowd (including the spiders) and a losing trivia experience kind of put a sour note on things – making this a sold “maybe.”

Like I said, living on the edge.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Steph

Shane

Jason

Ted

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WTGW 11/28/18: The Getaway Pub, Merriman Valley

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This week we have another tale of failed places to start our journey, thanks to an accident on the highway that made me extremely late getting home from work (why is it that people seem to always forget how to drive on Wednesday evenings?) – and since Jason’s pick was going to be in the far-off-land of Barberton we decided to put that one off a week because it was so late and we were all, of course, starving. Shocker, I know.

On to Plan B: Cassi had a pick on deck in the Valley – The Noisy Oyster – so we thought we’d just try there since it was close … but apparently that’s the new hot spot on Wednesday nights, thanks to trivia. Who knew. So since we couldn’t get a table – or even really more than two seats at the bar there – we took a strike on that one and adjourned to the car to try and figure out our next move.

Just as we were about to settle with a revisit to Pub Bricco or The Merchant, we remembered there was actually another little place in the Valley that we’d driven past 1,000 times but never actually set foot in … The Getaway.

Commence “are we sure we really want to try this place” vs “how much longer can we wait for food before we chew our own limbs” debate.

After a brief online search to confirm that yes, they do actually serve food, The Getaway wins. Let’s hear it for Plan C!

Given our past history with menu scavenger hunts, Ted made a beeline for the bar as soon as we walked in, managing to request menus and memorize the draft list before any of us even got ourselves situated at a table. Which means he already worked harder for Jason’s tip than the server we had last week, so score there.

This turned out to be a good move, because Ted also learned on his round-the-bar travels that The Getaway doesn’t have servers – everything is done directly at the bar with the one employee that was on duty for the evening. Good to know. Although on the flip side of things, I have to believe Ted began to regret showing so much initiative once we named him honorary employee and started fielding all of our random menu questions his way.

For drinks, Jason and Ted opted for the Rhinegeist Truth in cans. Which makes them the smart ones, as the rest of us took one sip of our mixed drinks and instantly wished we’d ordered something we might somehow recognize the taste of. Shane was pretty much drinking straight Jameson, while an entire bottle of tequila might’ve died for the combination of mine and Cassi’s drinks. Apparently the bartender here graduated from the Windsor Pub school of mixology?

I also got a lemon with my drink, which I realize starts with the same letter as the lime that was asked for, so points for being somewhat close there.

Jason switched to the (cheaper) Hamm’s tall boy can after the first round. The can arrived pretty dented and scratched, leading us to believe it had lived a life before it got to Jason’s hands. Oh the stories I’m sure it could tell … you know, if only beer cans could talk.

That’s a somewhat terrifying thought.

Anyway.

For a place that we didn’t really realize actually served food, the menu looked pretty promising. I was in favor of the appetizer list actually telling us how many pieces came with each order. Especially since Ted wasn’t really answering Shane’s questions about which order he would get the most food out of.

It’s like a Sesame Street episode

Server-wannabe Ted won him back, though, when he made a point to make Shane aware of the note on the menu that indicated all of the burgers would be cooked to the taste of cardboard.

OK, so really it said “due to food borne illness all burgers are cooked well done – unless otherwise requested by the customer.” But since well done is not how any of us prefer our burgers, we definitely appreciated the warning.

Here’s a fun fact: even though I think we were the only ones in the whole place doing more than drinking, it still took forever to get our food. Jason joked that maybe they just had a small George Foreman Grill in the back and had to cook one burger at a time.

We also started having flashbacks to our recent adventure to the dive bar in the middle of nowhere, in that the food arrived at our table order by order based on how they were placed. Hence, I give you a timeline of our dinner:

7:50pm (20 minutes after ordering)

Ted’s Spicy Garlic Wings arrive, along with the “Sean’s Stinger” Burger – which is the unfortunate name for a burger topped with Jalapeños and marinara – and usually also pepper jack cheese, but of course Ted requested that be omitted.

No vampires will be coming near this table

Ted decided this was a 1/3 pound patty. And since he apparently works here, we believe him.

8:05pm

Cassi and Jason’s potato skins arrive. OK, at least they got their app before the meal, this seems promising.

Loaded and baked, just as promised

8:17pm

Cassi and Jason’s meals show up. Denny Burger (grilled onions, mushrooms, and cheese) with bacon for Cassi, and the Andy Boy Burger (cheese, lettuce, pickle and tarter sauce) for Jason. Yes, I said tarter sauce. We all thought it was strange, too – and I think that was part of the reason he ordered it.

There are toppings under that bun, honest

All I see is lettuce

8:18pm

Oh, hey look, here’s Cassi and Jason’s pretzel sticks that they also had ordered as an app. Oops. I take back that promising comment from a few minutes ago. It’s almost like someone forgot the pretzel sticks were part of their order, and brought them out thinking that maybe they were ahead of the game on the next group of orders. Yeah, no, still them.

When they said “2” on the menu they probably should’ve mentioned they were gigantic

Table update: about 50 minutes after ordering, Ted is halfway through his wings, and has finished all of his fries … Cassi and Jason have an app, their meals, and another late-game app … and Shane and I still don’t even have any food, including that onion ring app we ordered.

Just as Shane and I were discussing the extreme similarities to the New Milford Café – no menus, having to go to the bar ourselves, watching the rest of the table devour their meals before even our app arrived – we looked over to the bar and noticed the (male) bartender doing shots with the patrons sitting at the bar. It’s like we stumbled upon the city cousin to that farmtown bar. What weird portal do we need to close in order to get back to normal service?

Meanwhile, a band started up. Let’s just say we wished they hadn’t.

Shane and I eventually followed Jason’s lead and switched to cans of Hamm’s – primarily because we didn’t think consuming entire bottles of liquor was wise on our empty stomachs.

8:27pm

Hey, our onion rings finally showed up! Along with Shane’s Frisco Melt (2 burger patties with cheese on Texas toast with tangy fresco sauce). Cool. I mean, you know, appetizer first would’ve been great, but at this point we’ll take anything that comes to the table with our names on it.

Apparently the deep fryer only works when the George Foreman gets unplugged?

It’s like a burger sandwich

So at this point we’re just missing my food. To catch you up on the rest of the table, Ted has finished his wings and fries, but still had a whole burger to tackle. Cassie was halfway through both her burger and her fries, and Jason has about 1/4 burger and three fries left.

8:33pm

Finally, my ill-cut Steak Sandwich with fries arrives. Good thing I wasn’t sharing with anyone.

Someone failed fractions in school

Please remind me to make Shane tackle everyone else out of the way the next time we have to order at the bar, so we don’t go last. Ever. Again.

To recap, it was pretty much just over a full hour from the moment we sat down until all of the plates finally arrived at the table. And while I’m sure we’ve waited longer for our meals at other places, at least we all had small plates of food to hold us over. I mean, isn’t that really the concept of appetizers? This whole system of an entire order arriving at once before the other parties at the table even get an appetizer maybe could use some refining.

But we had to admit that at least these burgers were worth waiting for, and – unlike our adventure a few weeks ago – we didn’t sit for an hour just to eventually be served burgers smaller than those you can get at McDonald’s, topped with some chicklet onions. Everyone who ordered one said it was delicious. Cassi only took one bite before declaring it one of the better burgers she’s had. She said it was obvious that it was a handmade patty, not frozen, and that it was seasoned well.

Shane rated it in his Top 7. I’m not sure what position it takes, or who exactly that knocks out, since that list rotates about every time he eats a good burger, but I guess putting on the list means something?

Sure.

Ted didn’t give it a place on any list, but did say it was tasty.

My sandwich was also very good. I realize when you order a steak sandwich you could get anything from steak-um’s to an actual slab of meat on a bun, so I was happy to see this arrive as very thinly sliced steak with lots of toppings and flavor.

We also had to give props to the bartender, who – despite his shot rounds at the bar – did manage to bring us over all of our meals and deliver them to the correct people, as well as walking back over after we were finished to collect our plates. And he was really nice – as he was picking up our plates he apologized for how long it took to get our food, saying that he wasn’t sure what the issue was and that it’s usually not like that. Shane made sure to tell him that “if that’s what it takes for something that good then we’re OK.”

Shane mentioned to our group after the bartender walked away that we’re probably the first people to order food there in like two years, so really we should be glad that it all at least came out edible. Also, it’s not like we’re just one or two people ordering a sandwich. There’s five of us, and we all know we order enough food for whoever is cooking back there to probably think that the place just got his with a surprise birthday party.

Also, mine and Shane’s bill totaled up to just $38 before tip. So only $5 more than the much referenced but ill-fated dive bar $1 burger night excursion – and although we do have a few questions (how are the onion rings almost as much as our sandwiches? why is Jose Cuervo so much cheaper than Jameson?) this time we each had strongly poured mixed drinks along with much better food, so I’d say that $5 was well spent.

Two Hamm’s for the price of one Jameson. What were we thinking?

All in all, The Getaway is a nice local neighborhood bar, with good food and a decent atmosphere. We weren’t treated like total outsiders because we were new, which is always a plus on the side of coming back again in the future. Honestly the food delivery timing was about our only complaint with the place. Oh, and the strong pour. Which we realize not everyone will see as a checkmark in the “con” column, so take that as you will.

Picked by: Cassi (we gave her the option and she actually did claim this as her pick, which is an endorsement all in itself)

Cassi – the thumbs up is for the food, the thumbs down is for the drinks

Steph

Shane

Ted, with a Vegas-style background. We’ll have to come back after Christmas to see if those lights are up year round?

Jason

 

WTGW 11/21/18: Mac’s Cabana #9, Akron

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Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and … well, we were out eating and drinking, because it’s always a Wednesday night.

It’s only been five years now, folks. Pay attention.

Shane had a special request to take on this year’s annual pick, so we shuffled things around a bit to give him the honor. And let me tell you, what an honor it was.

Mac’s Cabana #9 is … well … about the furthest thing you can get from a cabana, ever. I think from the name we were picturing something resembling a tiki bar, perhaps, or maybe something beach themed. Yeah, no. It’s clearly just another dive bar, which happen to be in an old Lawson’s or Dairy Mart or whatever convenience store you most align with. Because that screams “welcome to our beach bar,” no?

No.

Although you have to wonder right off about a place that has a number sign in the title. Yes, kids, I said NUMBER SIGN – because long before # was called a hashtag, it was used to denote numbers. But, like, why is it #9? Is this the ninth attempt and they finally feel they got it right? Are there eight more somewhere else? Does Mac just like nines the best? WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

In our case I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it means “9 times out of 10 we won’t choose to return here.”

Not that I think any of the regulars would be upset about that, since we pretty much heard the record screech and the deafening silence after our group of newbies entered. That was after we passed a guy on the way in who stopped dead in his tracks to stare at our group, and said aloud “Oh, well, OK then.”

Good to see you as well.

Moving on … we find a table for the group, and realize we’re actually out early enough for happy hour. Yay! Hey, nice bartender lady, what specials might we be able to take advantage of?

Yeah, she had no idea. Super.

Instead, she asked if we were eating, and then – in what has become a somewhat weekly and definitely unwelcome game – she had to go search out some menus. All three of them. And when we asked about any food specials she pointed and said “whatever is on the board over there.”

Oh, wait, you mean the board that we couldn’t see from our table because there was a giant crowd of bar patrons standing in front of it? That’s helpful. Why can’t you just walk over and read them to us? Or maybe glance at it enough times to perhaps have committed a few of them to memory? I mean, you do pass it every time you have to come to our table and all.

But then again we also asked her what beers she had on draft, and were basically told to read the handles ourselves. So even though she’s behind the bar all the time, she didn’t know. Or couldn’t remember. Or just didn’t want to tell us. DO YOU EVEN WORK HERE?

I’m not sure if all of this is painting a better picture of her personality or the place in general.

Wisely, Shane didn’t even bother asking her what meals were good there. By this point I think we were all starting to realize that no one really eats at Mac’s. Or talks to strangers. Or knows how to do their jobs.

So this seems promising.

But hey, since the whole point of this is to try new places, of course we stuck it out and put in our food orders. And then just crossed our fingers that they arrived at the table correctly.

So far so good on the appetizers. Although when you order an array of fried things, you kind of hope that falls on the difficult to screw up list. Shane and I ordered mozzarella sticks, and Ted got the fried green beans.

Looks normal

The only acceptable way to eat vegetables in our group

Ted liked his app. He said the breading was Italian seasoned, and they were crunchy without being overdone.

Ours were, well, cheese sticks. I mean, there’s really nothing new I can say about them except that they tasted like breaded cheese, so at least we know we got the right thing.

Cassi and Jason were a little more adventurous, choosing the bacon cheddar fries. They didn’t say much about them, but did eat them, so I’m going to assume they were acceptable.

Just proving you can add cheese to anything to make it better

For meals, it was burgers for four out of five of us. Because, you know, even when given the choice to pick anything off of a menu that has more than two things, that’s typically still our go to option.

Ah, that joke never gets old. Right, Shane?

Anyway.

I got the Bacon, Mushroom and Swiss burger with onion rings.

The real toppings are hiding apparently, because this looks a lot like just a lettuce and onion burger

Ted got the Cabana Burger, which was like my burger, but it had the seasoning baked into it and was topped with a wasabi mayo. According to Ted, it was “just different enough that he had to order it.”

It sure doesn’t look different. Maybe we should’ve turned the flash on?

Shane got the Bacon Cheeseburger Special with fries. So did Jason. Try to hide your surprise on that one. Instead focus on the fact that something from the specials menu actually did exist.

OK, never mind on that flash. Some things are more appetizing in the dark. It is a dive bar, after all.

Meanwhile, the only non-burger order of the group goes to Cassi, who chose the BLT with egg and cheese, along with a side of onion rings.

One of these things is not like the other

Shane also got six of the Sriacha Bourbon jumbo wings. Or at least that’s what the menu called them. They arrived looking strangely like just normal sized wings.

Cassi: Those are jumbo?
Shane: I guess to some people.

Must’ve gotten the runt of the “jumbo” chicken group

The food was … well … about as impressive as the service at this place, which should tell you about everything you need to know at this point. But I’ll elaborate anyway.

The burgers were dry. Which I guess we should’ve known was coming – because, as Jason pointed out, when they don’t ask anyone how they want the burgers cooked, we should pretty much assume that means they’ll arrive more well done than those hot dogs you see that have clearly been on the gas station roaster for the past 24 hours.

Ted’s was slightly better because all of the seasoning was baked into it – which is saying something considering his also had no cheese holding it together – so I guess his attempt at ordering something different paid off in this case. But by slightly better that also doesn’t necessarily mean it was by any means good, so take that as you will.

According to Shane, the only reason to order that burger again would be if there was a battery acid spill somewhere nearby that needed cleaned up. Because that’s a raving endorsement, no?

We did agree that the bun – which was buttered and toasted – was by far the best part of the sandwich. So I guess if you’re in the mood to pay $9 for some bread then this is your place. Although to that I’d say that a full bag of hamburger buns – even the fancy kind – and a stick of butter are far less expensive at the grocery store, and you’ll probably also get better service, so maybe just go that route.

Hey, speaking of, let’s check back in with that server who didn’t know the specials, or the beers, or really anything about the place other than how to serve drinks to the regulars crowded around the bar, shall we? Yeah, well, we’d love to, but we haven’t seen her since our food arrived at the table, so guess we’re on our own here. Jason was waiting for ketchup for pretty much the entirety of our meal – which makes the time we asked for ketchup and got a boatful of it sound pretty appealing in retrospect. The next time we saw our delightful server was when she happened to glance over and take a cue that we were ready to make our way out the door, so she thought best to bring our checks before we disappeared.

And – shocker – she also managed to screw those up. Our check had Jason’s name on it, while Cassi and Jason’s had Shane’s on it. I get that they ordered the same thing, but really they are different people. And Ted even took the time to walk the server through who was on what checks before she went to draw them up.

Hi, my name is ______

*sigh*

It wasn’t until she tried to run Jason’s card that she realized the mistake she had made with the names on the checks. Oh, hi there reality, welcome to the party. She came back over and admitted her mistake, because apparently the computers were down – after our card and Ted’s were both run with no problems, so that’s kind of weird, but whatever. Since we were more than ready to get out of this non-Cabana by this point, Jason just gave her cash … and then we waited for her to return with change. And waited. And discussed where to go next to get more drinks, since it was still early and this place was not worthy of any more of our money.

But wait … apparently our server thought she was just that, as it soon became obvious that “do you need change” was a question of the rhetorical variety in her book. Because as we watched, she went back about serving patrons at the bar, clearly thinking we were about to just be out of her life forever without another thought. Um, no. See, funny story, you only get to keep that amount of money if you actually pay attention to your patrons. You know, like those regulars at the bar that you definitely prefer talking to – they probably tip you well. And it’s probably well deserved, considering the number of shots you’re convincing them to buy, and the quickness with which you refill their beers. But us new people at the table who don’t know the beer handles by heart … well, let’s just say we don’t tip ghosts over here.

After an awkward confrontation in which Jason had to approach her and explain that no, really, you aren’t worth all of the extra money left over from the bill, we naturally got the hell out of there faster than a gang of bank robbers. Which means we forgot to take our photos first, because, well let’s just say we all enjoy NOT getting into bar fights, especially early in the evening before a holiday.

While Mac’s was a bust, that’s not to say the entire evening was a wash, as we ended up getting a few rounds of drinks down at the new South Point Tavern in Green (which only serves drinks, no food, so it was worth a stop as a #2 on an already-number-themed WTGW) and then ended the evening with an epic karaoke session at The Clubhouse – where we almost did see a bar fight – over napkins, apparently, of all things – but it had nothing to do with our group so it made it far more acceptable. And since we didn’t eat there, it’s still a solid choice for someone down the road, so I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of this place for the WTGW crew. Just putting that out there.

We’ll bring our own napkins, though, just in case.

Picked by: Shane

WTGW 8/22/18: Lock 15 Brewing Company, Akron

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There are two types of people in this world: those who rush out to see a movie the first weekend it’s open, even though it means fighting crowds and sitting in an extremely full theater … and those who avoid that situation like the plague, even if it means usually forgetting the movie exists until well after its hit the 2nd year of availability on Netflix.

I fall into the latter category. I’m not one to flock to the latest thing just because it’s the latest thing, or to rush through the open doors of a new restaurant/bar/store five minutes after they’re unlocked for the first time.

Which makes perfect sense as to why we’re here at Lock 15 Brewing Company on only the second day of its existence. And that it was my choice.

See also: things I vow to never do again, because clearly the universe was trying to punish me for this decision this time around.

More on that later.

So Lock 15 Brewing Company is a brand new space located in the newly renovated Cascade Lofts building, just on the edge of downtown Akron. I’d been watching the space’s social media accounts, which I thought had hinted to the opening actually being earlier this summer. I’m not sure exactly why, but it seems this was instead pushed back to the end of August. Technically still summer, although closer to “end of” than “early in.”

I hesitated on the pick when I looked online and noticed that their online reservation system showed no openings for private tables between 7 – 7:30PM. But knowing that they had several “common tables” (read: long tables you might end up sharing with other guests) I wasn’t overly concerned that we wouldn’t find a place to seat ourselves. Also, reservations are a bit taboo in this group anyway. We all remember the last time we tried making one of those, only to end up eating tarter toast and not-sweet bean salad in a room that clearly was not going to be standing room only.

So, yeah, I’m not sure if they only take four reservations per half hour time slot, or if literally all of those people who made online reservations ditched out at the last minute, but we had zero problem getting a table when we walked in reservation-less at a little before 7PM. Because the place is one big open room and we could clearly see the door and any line that did or didn’t form at the entrance area, I can also tell you that the time periods of 7:30 and 8:00 would’ve been free of any mad rush for seating as well.

The place itself is pretty nice. You can definitely tell they put some money into the renovations and the decor of the space. Which apparently they are trying to get back via the cost of food. Snacks and starters range from $7 – $13 – with  wings being among the most expensive item on the section. Hmmm, not our typical ballpark, but OK. Sandwiches are in the $15 average range. The dinners actually seemed surprisingly low in comparison, with most running around the same price or just a little more than most of the sandwiches.

The menu is also pretty much what our group would consider to be “fancy,” especially when served in combination with beer. I mean, they have the staples like burgers and salads, but they throw you off with culinary vocabulary like “spent grain bun,” “Vegan brioche bun,” and “pork belly croutons.” In particular the Arugula Goat Cheese Toast Salad sounds like something my fried-food-loving body would run screaming in the opposite direction of, but whatevs. But then they also have highly intriguing – read: sounds less healthy – things like a Pork Belly BLT, Ghost Pepper Mac and Cheese, and Nashville Hot Chicken. Huh.

But let’s start with the beers.

Horray for beer!

I got the Hefe, IPA for Jason, Porter for Shane, Pilsner for Cassi … and nothing for Ted, who had a work event this evening, but didn’t tell us until like 5:00 so we couldn’t make alternative revisit arrangements. Bad Ted.

Apparently they also have flights of beer, so you can try samples of the different offerings before you commit to a giant 16oz glass of something that maybe tastes like burnt coffee and motor oil. But we weren’t aware of this until we saw one getting carried away from the bar to a neighboring table. File that under: things we wish they had advertised in some way.

Of course, on the night I leave my “telepathy for beginners” manual at home. Never fails.

For apps, Cassi and Jason got the nachos, while Shane and I opted to carb load with a giant pretzel.

Chippy nachos

Proof that looks can be deceiving

The nachos ended up being the winner here. Wait, what? How is that possible? I mean, did you not see the photo?

Yeah, well, let’s just call this pretzel the appetizer equivalent of that person across the bar who you think is totally hot until they walk over and open their mouth to reveal an IQ that gerbils would be embarrassed about.

At first sight it looks amazing. But then you take a bite, and realize it’s drier than pool towels left out in the sun all day, with about as much flavor. It’s like eating a loaf of bread made entirely of heel slices.

Let that thought sink in a little bit.

The cheese and mustard dipping sauces might’ve helped … had they given us a larger portion. You can’t baste a turkey with an eyedropper, but thanks for trying.

I mean, come on. WTF are we supposed to do with this?

Meanwhile the nachos were actually made from potato chips instead of tortilla chips, and had tons of toppings. #appetizerenvy

I’d like to say things improved for us from this point, but I don’t want to lie to you. I think I’m safe to say that the nachos were the highlight of the evening. Getting our apps and drinks was definitely the epitome of our service for the night, because after that it seemed to take longer and longer for our server to appear anywhere close to the proximity of our table. And, again, the place is one giant room, so we would’ve seen if she had been busy with tables on the other side of the space or something like that. But no, she just would seemingly get kidnapped into the back for like 19 minutes out of every 20. Because that’s helpful.

In any case, I guess it’s good that we were done with the appetizers before she even took our meal orders, because there was no way all of that food would’ve fit along with the app plates. As it was the meals for four people barely left us with any table space to set our drinks.

If it looks like we’re sitting on each other’s laps … well we almost are

Shane and Jason both ordered burgers. I know you’re shocked about that. Shane got the Black and Blue burger, while Jason opted for the Lock 15.

It looks like a breakfast sandwich

Filed under ultra-messy

I tried to order the chili … but was informed they were all out. On day two?  Either that was the crowd favorite on the official opening the night before, or maybe cheese and mustard aren’t the only things that are portion sized into eyedroppers around here.

So I got the pork belly BLT instead.

FYI, bread with holes in it should not be used to contain items that spew grease

Cassi ordered the hush puppies. And then sat and watched us start to eat our food, since apparently there was also a run on those early in the restaurant’s short lifespan, as she was informed as our food was being delivered that hers would take a bit longer due to just having been started.

I would say something to the effect of letting us know that not long after we ordered would’ve been helpful, but let’s just say that by this point we were just thrilled that someone who worked there came out of hiding long enough to even approach our table and deliver most of the meal. Be very still and don’t scare them away too quickly.

How long does it really take to make this many hush puppies?

All of us were genuinely disappointed in the food. It arrived looking great, but when you tasted it … well … it just didn’t overwhelm any of us. Shane said his burger was just OK, but nothing special that he would feel the need to return for. Cassi said the hush puppies might’ve been better with a different breading, but that in their current state they just don’t have much flavor. Seems to be a theme here with things of the carb-laden variety,

Meanwhile I was channeling Cassi’s pizza experience of a few months ago with a mushy bottomed sandwich. I blame poor bread choice on this one. Seems to me something sturdier than holey sour dough might be in order when you’re dealing with a pork product, no?

The items making up the “T” portion of my sandwich were also weird. I don’t have a better word to describe them than that. Weird. Take that as you will.

The consensus seemed to be that the giant pretzel should really just be the mascot of the entire menu. Looks great when it arrives, but they need to learn to deliver the taste to the table as well.

(Side note, if you pull up Lock 15’s menu online, the photo at the top is that of the pretzel. Which made me giggle, because while I didn’t notice that until after I wrote this review, clearly we’re on to something here.)

In any case, the non-flavorful food is a real shame, because we had high hopes for this place. The space is great – and will be made even better once the outdoor patio opens, since we could see where it’s intended to be and were slightly jealous we couldn’t be seated there already. It’s also nice to see a local brewery with a full bar to offer for those who aren’t in the mood to for gluten heavy drinks. I do think overall it still has potential, but that there are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out.

One of which is this:

I don’t imagine these can be re-used

If you’re going to seat people in close quarters and give them cold glasses of beer, I hope either there’s a large line item on the budget for reams of paper, or part of your staff also moonlights at the local Kinko’s. As Cassi stated when she pointed this debacle out: “that will never work.”

Oh – and you’re going to have to go another week without our smiling faces, since we once again forgot to take photos before we left the restaurant. And we’ve learned that dark parking lots are not the venue for this either. I think we’re all still having nightmares about the last time we tried this

 

 

WTGW 4/4/18: Iron Grill, Akron

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This week I took a chance and picked a place in Shane’s self-professed neighborhood of Ellet. So of course we all crossed our fingers that there would be more than two items on the menu.

Are you sick of that joke yet? Shane sure is.

Despite the giant sign on the side of the main road advertising Iron Grill, the place is a bit challenging to find. We pulled into what we thought was the strip plaza that the sign was advertising, only to discover three other restaurants (that Shane of course instantly declared were “his” and he was picking if they had alcohol – so expect to see those here sometime soon if any of us can actually remember the names of them) … but no Iron Grill. OK. So we pulled back out onto the busy street across four lanes of traffic, only to look over and realize it was around the corner on the other side of the plaza, and that the parking lot could’ve led us there. Oh.

The Iron Grill is … interesting … on the inside. Let’s just say that you don’t usually expect to find chandeliers in an establishment situated at the end of a strip plaza. Or really in this part of town in general. I mean, just a few miles down the road there’s a bar with purple dollar store lamps on every table.

Choose wisely.

The four of us sat in the bar area at a high top meant for six – because, well, you know by now that we order a lot of food. And last week Shane had no place to put his arms, so we took the liberty of spreading out a little this time around.

The first thing that caught our attention (other than the fancy chandeliers) was the impressive list of interesting craft cocktails for only $7.50 each. Keep talking to us, Iron Grill. We’re listening.

And I say listening because reading was rather difficult in some instances, thanks to what appeared to be a low ink cartridge issue at the time of menu printing. Way to mess with people BEFORE they start consuming alcohol. Maybe trade in one of those big lighting fixtures for some new cartridges, no?

Speaking of the menu, can we all just agree that using paper on a clipboard is a trend that should be voted off the island please? It’s like the time we went to The Merchant years ago and the only sound at the table for like 10 minutes was the rustling of pages as we all flipped around furiously trying to figure out our orders. Where did you see that entrée? Flip over the third page … no, wait, that was my third page, yours weren’t in that same order … refer to the yellow paper … oh, you don’t have that one? well, you can borrow mine …

I mean, seriously. It’s like a game of paper Go Fish just to figure out your meal.

Anyway, back to cocktails. So Cassi and Shane ordered the Orange Fire cocktail, which included “house infused jalapeno tequila.” Hmm. Interesting. I got an Iron Grill Sangria, just out of sheer curiousity as to why you would put Jameson in sangria.

Ever the adventurer, Ted got an arrogant bastard beer.

The drinks took long enough to prepare that our server and her trainee shadow (otherwise known as “the person who follows our server around and never utters a word”) could come back over and get our orders before the first round even arrived. That’s highly inconvenient. Did we somehow make our way back to that Mason Jar place in Aurora? Do places not realize that the quicker you provide us with drinks, the more we’re likely to consume, and thus pay for? Unless you’re against making money – in which case perhaps you should take a hard look at your priorities – this seems to be a pretty common sense business model.

You’d also think that after taking half a light year to prepare the drinks, they would at least be correct. *sigh* I guess the universe had an inkling that I wouldn’t enjoy the taste of Jameson in my sangria after all, because my drink arrived as the same order that Cassi and Shane had placed. And because I had been slightly intrigued by that one as well – and also I didn’t want to wait another decade for the bartender to handcraft the correct drink – I just stuck with that one instead of pointing out the mistake.

And it wasn’t awful. I mean, I don’t have the original drink to compare it to, but I wasn’t displeased with this one at all either. We all agreed that our drinks were spicy, but good. Jalapeno infused tequila definitely has a kick to it. I mean, as one would expect.

They had calamari as an app, so of course Shane had to order it, especially after we were denied at the Stowaway a few weeks ago. And, well, we kind of felt like we were denied it here as well, since the dish that appeared in front of us only had about half the amount that one of us would consider an appropriate appetizer portion.

Um, excuse me, why can we still see the plate with a full order?

It looked and smelled great, but overall it was pretty disappointing. The sauce was the same red stuff that you get with an order of egg rolls from the local Chinese take out place.  The sausage mixed in with the calamari was a nice touch and added to the flavor (that’s what she said) but without it we agreed that the dish would’ve been just mediocre, and really nothing different than what we’ve seen other places. In retrospect, maybe it’s a good thing that we didn’t have that much of it after all.

Shane: I expected more of this place.

See what putting chandeliers in your establishment does? Raises the bar, people.

Cassi got the loaded chips, which took forever to come out of the kitchen (do they have the potatoes special delivered fresh from Idaho for every order?) but were well worth it once they finally hit the table.

If you order anything on the menu here, pick these

The chips were crunchy and the toppings added to the overall flavor without just taking over the dish. And unlike the calamari dish, that bowl was seemingly bottomless.

Ted got the hummus, after I declared that I finally managed to change my taste buds somehow and like hummus again after all these years.

Ted – maybe now I own’t get made fun of for ordering it.

Not likely.

So healthy. Is this allowed?

Another nice presentation with the hummus platter. The pita was super soft, like biting into a cloud. And again, far more food than the calamari. Just FYI. I mean, if you’re keeping score.

Hey, remember that time Ted and Shane ordered a steak special on a Wednesday night? No? I’m shocked, because I have to believe it happens at least once a month. Although I’m not sure why they even try anymore, since nothing will seemingly ever beat The Doug Out.

Yes, that is a challenge to all you restaurants out there. Just sayin.

Anyway, Iron Grill has an 8oz steak for $12 with two sides. Not as economical as many of their Wednesday specials … and seemingly not very filling, seeing as Ted was done with his in like two minutes flat. It’s like we all looked down at our own plates for a moment and then looked up and there was Ted setting down his knife and fork on a clean plate.

I think Ted ordered the St. Patrick’s Day special

They also didn’t have a very good selection for the sides to go with the steak. Ted picked brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. Shane got fries, then shocked us all by ordering a side salad as his second option. What are these vegetables that you speak of arriving at our table in front of the guy who loves fried foods? This was new. But he pointed out that all of the other side options were either vegetables, other types or fries or something else potato based. Good point.

I’ll take “things you usually don’t see in front of Shane” for $1000 please

There’s some meat behind those fries. Honest.

Over on the not-dead-cow side of the table, Cassi and I opted for sandwiches. I got the Hot Italian (because that’s just fun to say), and Cassi got the Philly. Both came with fries.

The guys were immediately jealous when our meals arrived because it seemed like a lot more food on the plates than what their steaks and sides were.

We chose correctly

See, this fills a plate. And a belly.

My sandwich was good. Cassi didn’t seem quite as excited about her food, she only ate about half of half of her sandwich and took the rest home. I probably should’ve stopped eating at half of my sandwich, because I was crazy full after eating the entire thing – but it was so good that I didn’t want to put it down.

Word of wisdom, save yourself the extra $2 and just get the regular fries instead of the special “parmesan truffle fries.” I mean, call me crazy, but $2.00 seems a lot to pay for just a shake of parm cheese and some extra seasoning. I mean, for that price you can run to the local Aldi and get a whole container of cheese that you can just throw in your purse and add on your own. Because, let’s face it, it’s not like the wait staff was anywhere nearby to notice those kinds of shenanigans.

Which leads me to what was probably our biggest gripe about the Iron Grill … the service. Everyone on staff seemed to be moving in slow motion. It was like living in one of those stop action films where things get slowed down to a fraction of the pace for effect. We when the server wasn’t near the table they seemed to magically disappear into some mystic portal where they were oblivious to having tables to check on. Seriously, they were nowhere to be found. I mean, I get that our server was also training someone, but that seems to be the exact opposite of how you would want them to learn, no? Like hey, so you have these tables over here but make sure you hide out in the back when you aren’t specifically bringing something to one of them, so that they can’t find you if they need anything. Just don’t be in sight. Be stealthy like that.

Note taken, Iron Grill. With that philosophy, I’m guessing we won’t be in your sight again for a hot minute, either.

Picked by: Steph

Ted

Cassi

Shane

Steph

WTGW 3/28/18: Paramount Pub, Akron

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At least we think that’s the name of this place. See if you can follow along in this fantastic lesson in what-not-to-do-in-marketing … the website says the name is The Paramount, but the directions led us to a place with a sign out front that reads The Hyde Out. OK. But the location is actually the old Grille on Waterloo that we went to about four years ago. Also if you look closely at the web page address for The Paramount, thegrilleonwaterloo.com is still the domain.

Confused yet? We sure are.

… at the place where nobody knows your name … or really even what the name of the place is …

Which is why, from here on out, I’m going to give this place a new name: The Identity Crisis Café. As you read on I’m fairly confident that name will be one of the few things that makes a clear amount of practical sense with regards to this place.

Let’s start with the menu – which I should point out says Hyde Out on the front cover, so I’m starting to catch on to the name they seem to think they want to use here. Too bad they’re going to have to change it after this review. Anyway, it starts out with a few pages of sports bar-esque American food (burgers, wings, salads, sandwiches, fried apps) followed by several pages of Asian dishes (sushi, hibachi, bento boxes, fried rice).

Um, what now?

Because those are two types of food I would probably never think to prominently feature together. I have to believe they’ve cornered the market on this specialty.

Cassi: I don’t know what to do – I mean, there are pickle chips and Crab Rangoon offered in the same place? Where are we? Why can I order both?

Also – why is every instance of the word “crab” spelled with a K in this menu?

Spelling 101

So. Many. Questions. And we haven’t even ordered yet.

As we were perusing the menu we started to tune into the background music of the place – which really should just be referred to as “music” because we were practically shouting at one another over it. It was like being in the back of a club during a concert … except there’s no band I can think of that plays a primary music catalog containing lots of 70s rock songs that go on for like 10 minutes of heavy guitar solos, then busts out an occasional Sublime hit from the 90s, followed by “Hey Jude” by the Beatles or John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

It’s like what if my dad, my grandma and 1990s college-aged, flannel-wearing me all took a road trip together and fought over the radio stations. Good times.

Hey, remember Cassi’s comment about the apps? Yeah, so, turns out we didn’t have to decide between pickle chips and crab (sorry, Krab) rangoon, because that’s exactly what we ended up with. Shane opted for bar food, while Cassi ventured into the Asian appetizer menu.

The pickle chips were OK. I mean, let’s face it, we’re ruined now after 3 Brothers. I don’t know why we even order them other places anymore since we already know it won’t live up to that standard.

Sorry, we’ve already judged you

Cassi wasn’t really a fan of the C(K)rab Rangoon, saying that she thought it was too sweet. Shane and I each tried one and thought they were OK  And then relived Shane’s last experience with something he tasted that he thought was going to be sweet.

Ah, Gus’ Chalet, you live on in infamy.

They look pretty

Most of us went with the Asian menu for our dinners – I think just because we were tired of bar food and enjoyed the change-up this week. It certainly wasn’t because we particularly trusted the freshness of any of the ingredients at this place. No raw fish for anyone at this table, thanks. We enjoy keeping our food inside our bodies as it digests. Crazy, I know.

As evidenced when Cassi ordered the Angel Hair Roll, and the server tried to talk her into the Angry Birds Roll instead because he thought it was better. One look at the ingredients – which included something raw, of course – and she was like no way, I’m sticking to my original order.

Plus who orders something named after an iPhone fad game from like six years ago? That just sounds sketch.

That’s some mad skills on the dragon, though

Shane got the General Tsos Chicken Bento Box and a side order of one Philadelphia Roll. Once again proving that even though it’s a different nationality of food, you still need more than one main dish on the table.

Shane’s first round of food

That plate is meant for those of us who don’t like their food to touch

Shane said his drawing made him think of Taco Bell. Because that’s what you want at a sushi bar.

And large dishes at that, as Shane was quite uncomfortable trying to find a place to rest his arm once all of his plates arrived on the table.

He looks so … natural

Because we all like to dangle our fork from windowsills during meals, no?

I really shouldn’t be throwing stones, though, since I ordered an Alaska Roll, a Spicy Tuna Roll and a small house salad. But while that sounds like a lot of food, at least two of those things arrived on the same plate. And I have to think that this actually may be the healthiest WTGW ever in my book. I mean, vegetables that aren’t fried? WTF. Another week like this and I might get kicked out of the group.

I think there’s a salad under all that cheese

That tree would be prettier without the iPhone shadow across it

Not one to play favorites, Ted got a Crazy Roll … and an American hamburger, no cheese. You know, because he could. He said he felt the need to make sure both menus were represented equally.

One of these things is not like the other

I think the whole “identity crisis” theme must’ve rubbed off on Shane a little bit, as evidenced by the fact that he actually … wait for it … willingly offered some of his food to me.

*gasp*

Right?!?

Now granted it was so I could taste his spring roll (that he didn’t realize came with his meal – along with that round one soup and salad) so I could make sure it didn’t have shrimp in it that might kill him, thanks to his allergy. (spoiler alert, it didn’t) But still. I think we’re all still picking ourselves up off the floor a bit from that shocker.

Speaking of shockers, Shane reported that his General Tso’s chicken – that he specifically asked the server if they could make “extra spicy” – was … drumroll, please … really spicy. Like he was struggling really spicy.

Be careful what you wish for at The Identity Crisis Cafe, folks.

Meanwhile, on the American menu side of the table, Ted had a struggle of his own going on, which involved ways to choke down an extremely dry burger. Like dip it in your water to make the patty edible kind of dry burger. Which let me be clear he didn’t actually do, but in hindsight it may have helped things a bit. When we suggested that that’s what the cheese is usually for on burgers, he said that he might be willing to try that if he thought it would help things at all, but he was pretty sure there was no saving this one.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s a bit odd that the burger was so overcooked and not moist, when it was one of the first meals to arrive at our table. Rather than bringing things out all at once, this place seems to subscribe to the Table 6 philosophy of just bringing plates out as they’re ready … except they’re like that friend everyone has who is like four subjects behind in a group conversation and never seems to know how to keep up so they just jump in whenever they think of something. The food was dropped off at odd intervals, with the burger arriving as one of the first actual meals, and the sushi as last. Which seems strange considering that’s supposed to be the most fresh, not cooked portion of our orders, but whatever.

We all pretty much thought the sushi was just OK. I mean, it was edible, but nothing you can’t find anywhere else. Ted liked his a little more than any of us … but, I mean, when you consider the other part of his meal was a sawdust patty on bread, you kind of figure that’s a no brainer.

We also had an enlightening discussion about the orange crunchy topping on some of the sushi, which involved more than one of us checking Google for an answer, and Shane declaring that he always figured it was crushed up Doritos.

Me: Because nothing says Asian food like crushed up Doritos

But with this place, who knows.

Orange toppings make Shane think of snack foods

Another fun discussion involved trying to size up the crowd, and how or why each of them found their way to this bar on a random Wednesday night. A couple wandered in at one point that seemed like they might have been on a date … except she was wearing lounge pants and actual slippers. Because nothing screams “I really just wanted to order in and I’m not happy about this whole going out in public thing” like wearing your pajamas to a restaurant. And then over closer to the bar there was a group of obvious bros all crowded around a table taking shots and watching basketball. Which begs the question … is there no BW3 within a 20 mile radius of this place? Do they all live upstairs and just migrate down for the alcohol? I mean, granted, nothing says let’s go get lit and watch some Final Four action like heading to the sushi bar in a somewhat sketch neighborhood … no?

At least no one could see us watching them, as we picked an unfortunate table next to the windows that seemed OK when we first arrived, but then was cloaked in darkness after the sun slipped behind the horizon. Which, because it’s still winter here in Ohio, happens at like 3PM these days. See also: the color difference in the pictures of our appetizers versus the color of our meals. Sorry, kids. It should also be pointed out that there were canister lights above our heads … that were missing the bulbs. Guess we know now what had to get cut from the budget in order to add that whole Asian side to the menu.

 

Picked by: Ted

Steph

Shane

Dual menu, dual rating. Thumbs up for sushi, thumbs not-so-up for the burger

Cassi

 

WTGW 2/14/18: Eldorado’s Pizza Pub, Ellet

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Welcome to an exciting Valentine’s Day edition of WTGW.

Given the date, I figured I’d better pick a place that wouldn’t be full of date night couples for Valentine’s Day. So naturally a divey pizza pub seemed like a good choice, no?

Plus I wanted to reunite Ted with his forever love, cheese. Because that’s what friends do.

This is also kind of a revisit for Shane, Ted and me, since we’ve been to the Eldorados in Kent. Or, rather, the place forever known as the home of the gigantic Stromboli and the Judgey McJudgerson waitress that asked Amanda and me if we were “sure” we wanted to each order a large stromboli, but didn’t give us any indication that once they arrived we could pretty much split them with an entire small European country.

Not that I’m holding a grudge or anything.

I don’t think any of us realized until recently that there was another Eldorado’s location in Ellet. And apparently GoogleMaps doesn’t, either, since the address I put into the app didn’t match up to where we actually ended up. If we followed the directions we would’ve kept going on down the street … but the sign in front of the building tipped us off that maybe we should stop there. Nice marketing, sign guys.

Speaking of the building – it’s clear that this was once a Lawson’s convenience store. Because it’s always fun to eat dinner where the chip aisle used to be, right? Too bad they don’t serve Lawson’s chip dip at Eldorado’s, it could’ve all come full circle.

Anyway.

We sat down and were brought menus … and Shane gets the menu without the pizza page. That’s pretty much the very definition of irony.

The Wednesday special at Eldorado’s is a 10 inch pizza with one topping for $5. Not bad. Honestly, it’s been a bit since we visited the one in Kent, but the menu at this location seems bigger than the menu at that location. Because aside from pizza, stromboli, meatball subs and other Italian fare, they also serve up burgers, sandwiches and wings … all of which I don’t remember being available at the other location. Because it seems like part of the reason we haven’t been back in a few years is out of respect for Ted and his inability to order anything there without having to discard half of the meal that’s been tainted by cheese.

Needless to say Ted was ecstatic about this new development. And immediately offered up a trade for Shane’s pizza-less menu. Because if you’re ever asked the question “who goes into a pizza place and orders a burger and wings?” … well, the answer is Ted. Just FYI.

He got the Blazin burger – or, well, that was his name for it, the real title is Nuclear burger. Which is why the server was slightly flustered when trying to take his order. Food synonyms are confusing.

This is what a cheese-less pizza looks like in Ted’s world

He also got 12 of the Louisiana hot wings.

Pizza for the lactose intolerant?

I got the small Spicy Piggy Stromboli. Which is slightly embarrassing to say but sounds delicious when you read the description in the menu. I also heeded the lessons learned at the Kent location and only ordered the small. Sometimes we do pay attention, even when alcohol is involved.

Whoever came up with the sizing here still needs a lesson in portion control

Cassi got the Wednesday $5 pizza special with pepperoni and mushrooms.

Not so special Wednesday special

Shane got the meat sweats pizza. Or meat lovers. Whatevs. The server asked if he wanted the $5 special instead, but he was under too much pressure flipping through the menu to decide on toppings that he just stayed with his original. Plus he would’ve had to figure out an order of wings, too, because we all know a 10 inch pizza wouldn’t be enough for him. So he stuck with his original order. #firstworldproblems

That pepperoni is very symmetrical

Shane and I also ordered the sausage jalepeno bites as an app, while Cassi got the smothered tots.

I’ll be the first to admit that the sausage bites looked thoroughly disgusting when they arrived at our table. I think our initial reaction was like, oh, cool, someone cut up a hot dog and deep fried it. Scrumptious. But if you can get past the look of it, it actually tastes really good. It has the kind of spicy bite that sneaks up on you after you’re done chewing it. But in a good way. Trust me.

Winner of the “Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover” category

Cassi’s appetizer tots arrived with the rest of the meals. Because I guess if you want something to come out as an appetizer here you have to particularly specify that. I had said it when we ordered the sausage bites, more out of habit than anything else, but I guess the server didn’t take the hint on Cassi’s order. OK. To make matters worse, the tots were soggy and not good. Like I get that they’re smothered in a sauce, and the laws of physics state that crispiness will usually falter in that state. But maybe if they hadn’t spent some time hanging out under a heat lamp while the rest of the meals were cooking they might’ve arrived more resembling tots with sauce than just a pile of mush. As appetizing as that sounds.

These do taste as bad as they look

Maybe Table 6 visited this place before they started their “no heat lamps” policy. Or maybe that’s why they were supposed to be an appetizer. Tough call.

It’s also worth noting that we had like three different servers in the first 20 minutes of our visit. Like are they all just stopping by to gawk at the non-regulars, and then draw straws in the back to see who actually gets to wait on us? My favorite was the one who came over to specifically ask Cassi and me if we needed more drinks, since ours were about a quarter of the way to being empty … meanwhile after she walks away Shane holds up his completely empty glass that she totally overlooked. Whoops.

Ted said that sauce on his wings was good, but the actual wings were not, and may in fact be made from a rubber chicken instead of a real one. To clarify: we all witnessed a sort of reenactment of the dinner scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while watching Ted try to chew his way through them. He calculated that it was approximately five minutes of chewing per wing. Which if he were to eat all 12, that would equal out to about an hour’s worth of mouth exercises just to complete his meal. So it was no surprise that he left most of them on the table.

Chalk up one point in the argument against ordering something non-pizza at a pizza place. Noted.

Although Ted did say that his burger was good. Shane also commented that it had his version of a perfectly toasted bun, which means that it was completely soaked in butter. So much so that you could see a visible line on the side of the bun. Mmmm, heart disease.

Shane might’ve had food jealousy at that point, if not for the fact that he was completely in love with his pizza. Like disgustingly in love. Fitting for Valentine’s Day, I guess. I’m glad as his wife I could introduce him to this new true love. To quote Shane: “it almost gives me a boner just looking at it.” Beause we all needed to know that, Shane. Sharing is caring, I guess. He then went on to say that the cheese alone almost pushed him over the edge. I feel like we all know a little too much about him now.

Meanwhile, since we’re sharing, Cassi said that her bottom was mushy. So there’s that.

My Stromboli was good … kind of. The dough was good, and it was brushed with a garlic butter that gave it a lot of flavor. But there wasn’t enough cheese – like Ted could’ve lived with this one, there was so little cheese – and the sausage was the exact same as what was in our app, so I was kind of over it by that point. I ended up picking a lot of it out just because I didn’t want any more.

Yes, I was full of sausage. Bring on all the jokes.

Meawhile Shane was still on the other side of the table raving loudly about his pizza. We felt like we should’ve given them some time alone.

I think it was in searching for an escape route from Shane and his new date that we discovered this apparently adults-only patio nearby:

So. Many. Questions.

Seems maybe someone has cracked the “hey, under-agers, just wait out on the patio and I’ll attempt to inconspicuously buy four rounds of drinks within five minutes and come out to deliver them to you. be cool” code?

We continued the dessert kick again this week, with an order of cinnamon bread. Which also suffers from the “tastes better than it looks” issue. I guess at least they’re consistent? In any case, it was just OK. Personally I thought it tasted more “burnt” than “cinnamon.” Picked the wrong crayon to color that one there, chef, but thanks for trying. But you definitely get a generous portion, although the less-than-stellar presentation could use some work.

Here’s your sheet pan of dessert bread. Enjoy.

And at least this server clarified Ted’s order with “you’re only getting one, right? Because it will be more than enough for the four of you.” Maybe she needs to go give lessons to the staff down in Kent.

Overall this Eldroado’s is a decent place. The people watching was great, especially on this particular holiday. Plus we got to watch something on TV that can only be described as “House Hunters for Camping.” Seriously. I have no idea what the real name of show is, I think that description gives you enough to go on. I guess that’s a new marker as to “you know you’re in a dive bar when …”

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Cassi

Bromance. At least he stepped away from the pizza long enough to take this photo

Ted

Eldorado's Pizza & Sports Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato