WTGW 1/20/16: Hodge’s Cafe, Barberton

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Ah Barberton. It’s been a while. We’ve missed you.

And by that I mean we’ve missed traveling through neighborhoods on the way to our destination that make us question our decisions on life insurance policies. Case in point, about halfway to Hodge’s we passed a totally questionable looking establishment on a street corner that was really nothing more than a small building with no name and no windows … oh wait, I take that back, there was one window, but it was taken up completely with a giant neon red OPEN sign and hours too small to be read from the street. What they were OPEN for, however, was completely up for grabs.

Shane (whose goal in life is the find the scariest place imaginable for us to visit) of course exclaims, “OH, we HAVE to go THERE.”
Me: Absolutely not.

We really need to start utilizing an “avoid ghettos” feature on Google Maps.

Anyway.

So we get to Hodge’s, and park in a somewhat less questionable parking lot, only to walk inside the place and be greeted by lighting that somewhat resembles the surface of the sun. Not quite what I was expecting from a little neighborhood dive establishment, but I guess you’ll have that. I also didn’t expect to see a Tony Stewart NASCAR themed crock pot staring at me from across the way on top of the popcorn machine, but I guess you’ll have that as well.

Anytime you can find $2 bottles of Summer Shandy in January … well, honestly it probably means that the bar just found a few cases in the back room and dusted them off mere seconds before their expiration date so they could clear the space. But if you’re me or Amanda you just chalk it up to a win and move on. We aren’t going to ask questions on this one, except for the obvious “how many do you have left in there?” Because we all know how this group has been burned on our favorite beer finds in the past.

Anytime you can find this in January life is good

Anytime you can find this in January life is good

Although in this case we didn’t have to worry, because we didn’t run out the stash. And they also had grapefruit shandy available on the specials board, too, so at least we had a backup.

Shane, meanwhile, went the tall Captain and diet route. Which he observed them pouring and commented that it contained at least four shots. And which we learned later at the end of the night was only $1.75 more each than my outdated Summer Shandy.  Oh, hello Windsor Pub redeux. Nice to meet you.

For apps we got fried pickles and clam strips. Because, dive bar and fried stuff. And us. The clam strips were more like batter strips that kind of maybe tasted a little bit like clams. Maybe they just deep fried some batter in clam juice? Who knows. The bigger pieces were OK, but a lot of the dish was just pieces parts of, well, fried batter. Yummy. And the pickles were spears instead of chips, which was not at all what any of us were expecting. Of course I had to comment that “that’s a lot of pickle at once.”

That’s what she said.

Pickles on steroids

Pickles on steroids

Despite what it says in the background, this is not meatloaf

Despite what it says in the background, this is not meatloaf

Hodge’s is known for its burgers, so naturally that’s what we all got. Plus there’s not much else of note on the menu to choose from, so that made the decision easier, too. I mean, we didn’t come all the way to Barberton for hot dogs and grilled cheese, right? Although they do also feature the random AYCE spaghetti special or veal parmesan. Those must be reserved for those “fancy” dinners like first dates and birthday celebrations.

And I’m still confused what the Tony Stewart crock pot is used for exactly.

Ted got the Italian burger with fries. Jerrid went with the Big Hodge burger with onion rings, Amanda got the mushroom and swiss burger with fries, and Shane got the black & blue burger with fries. Our server asked Shane if he wanted a small or large order of fries, to which Shane looks at me and asks “are you eating any?” I said that, well, honestly I really shouldn’t, what with trying to be a bit healthier and all – and that’s why I got a side salad with my BBQ burger.

Shane: Large then.

Thanks, honey.

Speaking of that salad …

So. Many. Comments.

So. Many. Comments.

So, yeah, be warned that Hodge’s version of a salad is really nothing more than a heap of cheese over some lettuce. So, OK. So much for the whole “healthier” thing. If I were Ted and said I didn’t want any cheese on my salad, would they have just brought me out a head of iceberg and a fork? But the best part is that wasn’t even the weirdest thing about the salad. If you look at that photo again, you’ll notice something to the side …

So. Many. Comments.

So. Many. Comments.

Yes, that’s an actual bottle of salad dressing. When I said I wanted the dressing on the side, I kind of just meant a little cup … not the entire bottle on the side of my salad. It’s almost like the cook was like, “well, hell, I don’t know how much to pour in a cup – I usually just put it on the salad directly. I can’t measure any other way. Just give her the whole bottle and let her do it herself.” Hmm. Are these people related to the folks over at the Lockview in Akron, who just gave us the plastic Helluva Good container from the corner store as part of our “house made chips and dip” order??

They also brought us an extra basket of fries after our food came out. Because they didn’t hear Shane order the “large” just for himself, I guess? Or maybe they really did think I was going to eat all of his after all. Or maybe the cook just really isn’t good on measuring fries as well as salad dressing. Who knows. But regardless, I have to admit it was a nice gesture.

Oh good, more fried stuff

Oh good, more fried stuff

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

Why is the pickle on the top? I'm confused.

Why is the pickle on the top? I’m confused.

Or it would’ve been, if they’d actually given us time to eat said fries – as well as actually refilling our beverages – in the meantime. Pretty much after the food came we didn’t see the server/bartender again. It was like they vanished into thin air after our meals hit the table. They never came to check on us, ask if we needed anything else, ask if we wanted more drinks … but when it was obvious we were finished eating suddenly they reappeared and delivered the checks to the table. It was almost like they’d been huddled around a security camera in the back room, waiting for that last morsel to leave our plates or for us to utter the words “that’s it, I’m full” so they could swoop in and clear the plates and drop the check. Again, they didn’t ask if we wanted the checks – just like they didn’t ask if we wanted anything else, or needed refills on our drinks – they just brought the checks.

Notice the empty glass. Because the server sure didn't.

Notice the empty glass. Because the server sure didn’t.

Because nothing says thanks-for-coming-but-don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out like that particular action.

By the way, lest you think we were overstaying our welcome, getting all rowdy and holding the place past closing … it was all of 8:30 PM at this time. 8:30. And what time do they close, you might ask? 9:30. A full hour later. And also not even that late, considering most places like this stay open at least until 11, if not 2AM.

At Hodge’s, clearly they’re used to locking up and heading home by 9. Because at 8:30 on a Wednesday, we were the last table left in the place. The few other tables who had been sharing the place with us earlier in the evening left about a half hour prior to our checks arriving at our table. Either there’s a curfew in effect in Barberton that we’re not aware of, or everyone locks themselves in their houses before 9:00 so they can enjoy a date with DVR’d episodes of Dr. Phil and Wheel of Fortune.

Or maybe they all hit up the OPEN place. Who knows.

In any case, that non-welcoming sense of “get the hell out now” is probably a big part of why we won’t be running to return to Hodge’s. I mean, the food was just OK. My burger seemed a bit overdone (they don’t ask how you want them, must just cook them all “medium” – because we all know how well that usually works out). And I didn’t hear anyone in our group particularly raving about theirs either. I certainly didn’t hear anyone mention their “Top 5” lists … so I can only imagine this burger wasn’t going on any of them.

Now, as far as salads with your own personal bottle of pre-opened and partially used dressing, however, this is up there …

I can't stop looking at the pile of cheese in the background

I can’t stop looking at the pile of cheese in the background

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  Of course I give props to any place I can find a Summer Shandy in January. But apparently finding one after 8:30 PM is a whole other story.
Food:
Eh. Nothing out of the ordinary from what we’ve had at other burger joints. Except of course for the salad dressing straight from the bottle.
Service: Clearly ends an hour or so before the actual closing time.
Overall: I guess if you’re a local, this would be a nice little neighborhood bar. But we aren’t, and we can get better service for the same caliper food closer to home.

Next Pick: Jerrid
Hodge's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 12/18/13: Angie’s Italian Restaurant, Barberton

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Hey wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like a sports bar?!?

That’s right, after several weeks months of Wednesday meals involving things either coming out of a fryer or served on a bun, we decided it was time to switch things up a bit and go for a place a little different. And who doesn’t love Italian food, right?

Well, in this case, Ted. But remember he has a dislike of all things cheese, so that really takes out about 95% of all things available on an Italian menu. Although that really wasn’t the root of his issues for the evening – but we’ll get to that later.

Angie’s in Barberton was recommended to Amanda by some of the guys she works with, as they said it had the best pizza around and a full bar. As you’ve probably figured out buy now, that’s enough for us to go on. And apparently we weren’t the only ones impressed by those standards, as the parking lot was nearly full. Kind of surprising for a Wednesday night, but I guess better than the alternative. Also being that it was a week before Christmas, I think this was the go-to spot for many holiday get-togethers.

Now my knowledge of Barberton isn’t all that extensive, but let’s just say that I think Angie’s might qualify as the town’s “fancy restaurant” – you know, if you’re looking for someplace to take the family for a special meal out, or to impress a date, or to have a few drinks a dinner to start off a girl’s night out, etc. I think we saw all of those occasions taking place during our meal, as well as a few early holiday parties (complete with gift exchanges). We also saw a lot of people dressed in camo, and tables with small children. Yep, definitely not a sports bar. At least not the ones we’re used to going to.

In any case, our dining experience got off to a bit of a rocky start, as we asked the waitress for a table in the bar area and were told “I don’t think there’s any open” … when we could look directly to our left and see practically all of them unfilled. OK, so it must’ve been Imaginary Friend Night at Angie’s then. Whateves.

So we were seated in the dining room, which was not exactly the atmosphere we were looking for. You do remember that we tend to scare people with our conversations, and as I already mentioned there seemed to be an abundance of small children in the establishment. Recipe for disaster. Especially when one father, in an attempt to keep his young child happy, started walking around the restaurant and stopping at several tables of complete strangers so the kid could “say hello.” I was mentally willing him to skip us, which somehow worked. Tell me again why I don’t play the lottery?

And here we get to another reason why we wanted to be seated in the bar area … the alcohol. Shocker, right? Here’s a little summary of how our drink ordering experience went: Ted had to walk over into the bar himself to find out what was on draft since it took the waitress a good 10 minutes to even get to our table; not really feeling like drinking beer with my meal (what, it’s Italian, isn’t it?) I asked about a martini I had seen on the menu online, only to be told by the waitress that she wasn’t sure that was available but she could check … well, judging on her timeliness in even getting to our table in the first place, and the fact that I was thirsty, I just opted for the old staple of Miller Lite. So much for it not being a beer night. Grrr. See why we need to be kept close to our alcohol?

That's a big mug of beer when you really wanted a martini

That’s a big mug of beer when you really wanted a martini

The food was OK. Nothing super special in my opinion, but good, and we all definitely left feeling like we needed to trade in our pants for a size bigger. As a self-proclaimed pizza connoisseur, Shane of course was looking forward to ordering an entire one for himself – especially since part of the reason we chose this place was for the pizza. He wasn’t overly disappointed, but it also didn’t make it into his “top 5” list of best pizza places.  Amanda and I both had pasta, and Ted went with the chicken parm since it was probably one of the few things on the menu not filled with cheese.

A boy and his pizza

A boy and his pizza

Wait, where's the cheese? Oh right, it's inside.

Wait, where’s the cheese? Oh right, it’s inside.

Cheese on bread. Delicious.

Cheese on bread. Delicious.

Although, according to Ted, they seemed to have replaced the cheese with what may or may not have been a stray piece of chicken that may or may not have been from someone else’s meal. Well there’s a new definition of recycling. Now, he still finished his meal, and only said something at the end of the meal to us and not the waitress – because in his words, he wasn’t “sure” that’s what it was … but he said it definitely wasn’t part of the usual order of chicken parm. Interesting. And  hence why Ted’s review of Angie’s is a little different than the rest of ours. Hmmm.

Oh, and a word of note – the house dressing for the salad is a creamy Italian, and it’s pink. Like pepto pink. That takes some getting used to.

Ted seems to have lost his face

Ted seems to have lost his face

Shane realizes this may be the best way for him to be photographed without pirate eye

Shane realizes this may be the best way for him to be photographed without pirate eye

CAPSULE

Picked by: Amanda
Drink options:  Small beer selection (both tap and bottle), and apparently the servers aren’t used to patrons ordering martinis
Food:  Typical Italian fare. And sometimes you get a “surprise”!
Service: Eh. Servers seemed young and not really overly attentive or concerned about time.
Overall: Maybe if this place was closer to us we’d think about trying it again – but I’m fairly sure we can find an Italian place closer that will be just as good if not better.

Next Pick: Ted

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