WTGW 1/8/20: Tiki Underground, Boston Heights

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Happy New Year, WTGW-ers!

Sorry for the absence, but with major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Wednesdays this year, we had to sit a few weeks out. I mean, as much as we love showcasing our functioning alcoholism and ability to continuously outsmart the odds of a heart attack with cholesterol-laded foods … OK, so really the holidays aren’t much different than any normal Wednesday for us, other than they provide an opportunity to share those qualities with our families, in the comfort of our own homes.

So there’s that.

But here we are in 2020, and nothing says crisp January evening like a tiki bar, am I right?

Tiki Underground has actually been a kind of “edge of the list” pick for the group for a bit now, ever since it opened in 2017(ish?).  I think part of the reason we were waiting to pick it was because this ill-fated location never seemed to house any sort of restaurant for too long of a time period, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up that it might be something we liked that would also stick around.

Case in point, we’ve been to this building when it was a Mexican restaurant (pre-blog) … and then when it was a sports bar called Sidelines … not on a Wednesday, but instead for an Ohio State/Michigan football Saturday after we got kicked out of another place for showing up and walking in the unlocked door 10 minutes before opening time. Seems those owners might be related to the folks who own Harmon’s Pub down in Canton?

But those places closed in a relatively short span – we’ve only been doing this since 2013, kids – and so it’s not a stretch to say that we didn’t really have high hopes for this new place, especially with a theme this specific. If a sports bar can’t make it, can we seriously hedge our bets on Hawaiian drinks and Polynesian cooking?

Apparently, we can, since it’s still open three years later. Or, someone can, anyway. It just may not be us.

Did I spoil the suspense there?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So let’s talk about the drinks first, because there’s clearly a lot going on here in that department.

That’s a lot of words that all mean “alcohol” in some way.

I mean, it is a tiki bar, after all, and drinks are kind of the main point. So I guess they’re kind of winning in that respect?

Although they may want to turn up the lighting in the place a smidge so that we can read what is in said drinks. And before you joke about calling us old – which, full disclosure, we did to Ted when he pulled his phone out to use the flashlight feature just to read the menu – we weren’t the only ones who went down that road. I mean, if you can’t tell from the photos, it was pretty unlit in this place. There were lights behind the bar, but everywhere else they were certainly more decorative than functional.

Also, who doesn’t want to see … whatever this is … more clearly? Because we all love having nightmares.

So once we could finally read the menu, we discovered lots of rum drinks – which is on brand for this whole island theme. But for those of you who prefer to avoid the hard alcohol, they do also have regular beer. In fact a whole section of “old man beers” like PBR ($2 on Wednesdays!) and Bud Lite. And White Claw and wines.

I was the only one to order something fun.

The food special for Wednesday’s is an “adult happy meal.” Which is exactly what it sounds like it should be – a burger and fries, with a beer. At $10 it’s a little more pricey than McDonald’s … but, well … beer.

Jason got that.

Ted started out with edamame as his appetizer.

If you’re thinking that looks a little odd … well, so were we. It arrived already shelled, which is not how we’re used to seeing that particular dish served. Ted said he would offer to share it with us, but it would’ve been a little strange since we would all need forks.

He also got 12 of the Thai chili wings – which I don’t have a photo of because when I looked back a them later the darkness made them just look like giant lumps – and the garlic fries

Cassi and Jason ordered the Crab Rangoon for their app. See above note as to why there is no photo of this dish.

Have we mentioned it was dark in this place?

And then Cassi got six of the boneless garlic parm buffalo wings.

If you think that photo is bad, just imagine what the one of Ted’s wings and of the crab Rangoon looked like. This is clearly not the place to be taking any magazine quality food photos.

I got the chicken soft tacos and a side salad.

Shane ordered the same thing. Yep, the exact same thing. If you’re thinking that sounds strange, and that I also didn’t mention an appetizer for us … well, now might be a good time to mention that Healthy Shane has rejoined the group, as he seems to pretty much every January. Because we all love the fun of watching him watch all of us eat completely unhealthy meals – or in this case, drool over just the smell of the crab rangoon when it arrived at the table – and drinks we actually want to taste while he complains about still being hungry and makes a bitter beer face every time he sips his tequila and soda.

THE VERDICT

Unfortunately for Shane, Cassi confirmed that the crab rangoon tasted as good as it smelled.

However, she was less impressed with the sauce that was on her wings. It was also the same sauce that was on Ted’s fries, and he wasn’t crazy about it either.

So the moral is, avoid the garlic sauce.

Although if you ask Ted, he might tell you to just avoid the whole place altogether. Between the weird edamame, wings that were breaded more than he likes and a not-so-delicious sauce on the fries, it was pretty much a strike out for him. Add to that all of the mixed drinks being laden with rum and other random mixers Ted isn’t a fan of. And most of the beers were also not-Ted-friendly, which meant the only thing he could drink was a Guinness.

So yeah, it definitely earned less than a thumbs up in his book. He said the only redeeming factor for him was the service, which was decent. Sort of.

Shane and I thought the tacos were good. They kind of had a sweet taste to them, but they were pretty tasty. But I would much rather come back on Thursdays, though, when they’re only $5 for three tacos.

The place does have some decent specials, and some of the food is better than expected. But I’m not sure the “some” here was enough to warrant us a return visit. For certain we know we don’t want to return when the band from this particular night was back on stage. And I use the term “band” lightly, as it was really just a guy with a microphone and guitar, and a really, really loud speaker system. To say it was a little bit intense for the crowd of less than 10 that was in place on this particular evening would be an understatement. We probably could’ve reversed the lighting and sound levels in the place and made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 8/17/16: Cruiser’s, Boston Heights

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So, if you’ve wondered where we’ve been he last two weeks, let me give you the Cliff’s Notes version:

Week One:

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Week Two:

OK, so maybe we weren't exactly doing this, but it looks fun, right?

OK, so maybe we weren’t doing exactly this, but it looks fun, right?

So, yeah, two weeks ago was Ted’s birthday – which we celebrated at, guess where … our old favorite, Kepner’s. As you can see from the photo, a good time was had by all, and clearly we weren’t taking notes of any kind to report about later. Because, well, alcohol.

And then last week we had a freak hour-long torrential downpour/monsoon/attempt-to-turn-the-yard-into-a-pool event that caused our basement to begin to grow water through the floor cracks like a garden, so we decided to stay in and deal with that. Because the alternative of coming home at 11PM and dealing with it after a few drinks was definitely not appealing.

Anyway.

So that brings us to this week. And Shane’s pick of Cruiser’s, which is located inside the Clarion Hotel in Boston Heights. If you’ve ever driven on Rt. 8 south of 271, or gotten off the Turnpike at Rt 8, you’ve seen the Clarion Hotel. And probably wondered just how in the bloody hell you even get to it, as the only exit from the highway that seems to exist there is the one that takes you on and off of the Turnpike.

Well, we found it.

Although, honestly, I think the larger challenge became locating the actual restaurant inside of the hotel once we arrived. Little tip, don’t come in via the entrance that faces the road. Because that would be too easy, right? Instead you should drive all the way around the place until you get to the entrance that faces the highway you can’t exit to get to the hotel … and that’s where you’ll find the front entrance of the hotel, as well as the entrance to the restaurant.

Confused yet?

Wait, it gets better.

I will say that Ted, Shane and I got a lovely tour of the first floor of the Clarion Hotel in our attempt to locate the restaurant. I can now show you to the fitness center, pool or courtyard.

After dinner swim anyone?

After dinner swim anyone?

We also witnessed a group of construction workers grilling out and perhaps hosting a tailgate party for some phantom sporting event out in the roadside parking lot. So we joked that at least if the restaurant sucked we had another nearby option.

I digress.

When we finally found the restaurant we were a little confused as to if it was even open, as I think there were only about two other people inside. The bartender/server told us to pick a table … so we picked one, then moved, then almost moved again … we like musical chairs. But hey, it’s not as if we were disturbing anyone. We were just doing our research.

After she brough us the menus, we realized that the name on them wasn’t Cruisers. Huh?

Wait, where are we again?

Wait, where are we again?

Oh well, they still had Summer Shandy on draft, so we were happy. Or at least Shane and I were happy. Shandy-hater Ted got the Great Lakes Commodore Perry.

Our special guests Jerrid and Amanda showed up one-by-one a bit later – and likely after next week will be back to full time with us, yay! – and got a Yuengling and Summer Shandy.

Wednesdays happen to be 50 cent wing nights at whatever-the-name-of-this-place-is, so score for us. And chesse sticks for $5. So another score. Well, not for Ted – but the rest of us were happy about it. I think Shane and I polished those off in like five minutes flat.

There were a few more in that basket, but hungry hands are grabby hands

There were a few more in that basket, but hungry hands are grabby hands

And then the rest of the night was pretty much just a giant wing fest at our table. Here’s a close up.

Oh hey, look - wings. That's something new for us.

Oh hey, look – wings. That’s something new for us.

But this might put it in better perspective.

Because we're much better to look at than just pictures of wings that all look the same

Because we’re much better to look at than just pictures of wings that all look the same

And that photo was taken before Amanda showed up. So, yeah, all this for four people. It’s like The Big Dog all over again.

To make matters even better – for us anyway – you can change sauces with every five wings. So you know we couldn’t all just stick to simple orders, and had to try at least a few different ones. I’ll do my best to remember most of the sauces, but I can’t promise to know who ordered what beyond my own order.

Hey, it’s a lot of wings. You try being the secretary for this group.

I was intrigued by the Six Pepper Dry Rub that was on the new “specials” menu, and I thought those were actually the best ones. To be fair, I only tried my other flavor – the Sweet & Spicy Dry Rub (which we all got at least one batch of) – but definitely liked the pepper ones better. It was hotter, but not enough to be overwhelming. Very good flavor on both kinds.

Shane had the Garlic Parm (surprise) as did Amanda when she arrived a bit later. As usual, it was good. Ted got the Spicy Garlic and was thrilled with them. The boys each also got another flavor as well, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were. I know, I suck. Blame the beer.

For the record – and because we asked – the Scooter sauce on the menu is actually the same as the Sweet & Spicy but as a sauce and not a dry rub. The server also told us it was more sweet than it was spicy. Jerrid took a stab at that one.

Jerrid also actually ordered a BBQ, but when everything came out it ended up that instead he got a Sweet & Spicy Dry Rub like the rest of us. He just ran with it – because, well, at that point why argue? Plus then he got to sample firsthand the difference between the two, which seemed to be pretty accurate.

They also had baskets of fries for $2 each. So, you know, of course we got like three of those for the table. Because we needed more food. And to once again cheat our heart attack potential. I might need to change the name of this blog to “What Hasn’t Killed Us Yet Wednesday.”

Overall Cruisers/Valley Junction/Pick-A-Name-For-This-Place-Yourself is a fun little neighborhood bar, with cheap food and drinks and a very laid back atmosphere. It’s definitely nothing fancy – although they do have more than wings on the menu (sandwiches, dinners, salads, etc). I had read some reviews that mentioned service wasn’t exactly the big reason for returning – but we had an OK time of it, and I think that was more just the server’s brisk, not exactly warm & fuzzy personality than an attempt to be rude. Hey, we’re used to that at this point. And she did joke with us at times – like when Jerrid was slowly sipping his drinks and didn’t order another round with the table, her parting words were “Catch up, mustard.” Nice.

And when we’re still calling Jerrid “Musty” weeks from now, I’m sure we’ll think of her fondly.

The cook also made a few appearances to our table – first to deliver our food, at which time he told us more about the different sauces and dry rubs, how he created some of them himself, etc. You can tell he takes pride in that. And then later he came by to ask how everything was, which was nice. I mean, in all reality he was probably just bored – since I think only two other tables came into the place in the time we were there – and glad to escape the kitchen and talk to people … but whatevs. We’ll take it.

 

So, yeah, while we didn’t try anything else on the menu except things that can be put in a fryer, we would definitely give a thumbs up what we did try. And I could definitely see us coming back again on a Wednesday to try more sauces. Maybe I’ll actually remember them all that time. No promises, though.

Plus, I mean, where else can you have this much fun taking pictures on your way back to the car?

We forgot to do our usual thumbs up/down pictures inside the restaurant. So Ted got comfortable.

We forgot to do our usual thumbs up/down pictures inside the restaurant. So Ted got comfortable.

Why pose at a table when you can have this picturesque scene?

Why pose at a table when you can have this picturesque scene?

Goofball, take 1

And then … Shane. Goofball, take 1

Goofball, take 2

Goofball, take 2

I don't even know what's going on here anymore

I don’t even know what’s going on here anymore

It's like some deranged workout video

It’s like some deranged workout video

This is why we can't go anywhere nice

This is why we can’t go anywhere nice

Enough said

Enough said

Time to go home, kids. Goodnight.

Time to go home, kids. Goodnight.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph