WTGW 10/23/19: Ohio Brewing Company, Cuyahoga Falls

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How many times have we lamented that all the new places keep opening anywhere else but in our town?

Which explains not at all why it took us so long to visit this new brewery, seeing as it has been open since at least the beginning of the summer by now. And also that by “new brewery,” we actually mean the new location of a brewery that has been in existence for a few years now.

But no matter either way, because this is the first time we’ve visited either iteration. Oops.

Clearly we’re slackers.

In any case, Ohio Brewing Company actually used to be in Akron, but recently relocated to a remodeled building on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls. It’s one of a handful of new places that have popped up in the newly rebuilt downtown area. (Nod to OBC neighbor Leo’s Social Kitchen – don’t think you aren’t on one of our collective lists for a future visit)

Ted assumed one of us would’ve jumped on this OBC pick long before now, and I guess was waiting to give one of us the opportunity, but finally decided to “be selfish” and pick it for himself if for no other reason than to be able to go there on his lunch break from work.

You’re welcome for the look inside the minds of the WTGW Crew, folks. It’s a whole lot of “strategery” hard at work.

Ohio Brewing Company is relatively large inside, with a bar along one side and lots of tables in the rest of the space. Word of warning to the ladies … or, I guess, any guys out there who my want to wear a kilt for a fancy night out … many of the tables are of the picnic variety, so if you want to have an easier time of entering and exiting the table area, you might want to take another look at your wardrobe.

There’s also an area downstairs with ping pong tables and other games. Not quite M&M Taproom in Barberton, where we basically had an entire late 90’s rich family’s basement at our disposal throughout our evening – but I see what they’re going for here.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Well, it’s a brewery, so it only makes sense that we started out with flights of beer, no? Bonus that they arrive on really cool wooden Ohio-shaped plates. Which then afford us the opportunity to pass judgement on various portions of the state based on the type of beer that was placed in that part of the plate.

The southeastern portion of Ohio was particularly good to me.

That may be the only time I utter that sentence.

Ted got 12 of the Cajun wings, along with the OBC burger, which is a burger topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese and a spicy onion ring. But of course Ted ordered his sans cheese, which I guess makes it an OB burger?

Oh, wait, that’s not what they were doing there. Got it.

Shane got the same burger but kept the cheese – obviously, because the rest of the world prefers their burgers with cheese, Ted – and also chips.

Well, let me clarify, what Shane ordered was fries with the burger and then a side of chips. But clearly that’s not what arrived. What he ended up getting was chips as a side and then an entire basket of fries later.

There it is.

I got the Swiss and Shroom burger with a side salad.

Well isn’t that pretty?

We also got the Hungarian stuffed peppers as an app.

Taking a cue from Shane’s non-food-sharing philosophy, Cassi and Jason got both the pretzel sticks and fried pickles as apps.

Jason got same burger as me, with chips as his side, while Cassi got grilled cheese and a side salad.

BTW that piece of lettuce and tomato wasn’t the side salad Cassi ordered. Just clarifying. I mean, I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to do with some side lettuce and tomato in terms of a grilled cheese – as kind of the whole point of the sandwich involves the cheese gluing the bread together – so it seems like the time for adding something to that mixture has already passed us by at this point, no?

THE VERDICT

Our apps all scored a thumbs up. Shane and I both thought the peppers were really good. They weren’t super spicy, but the sausage and cheese filling was a really good mix of flavors. The pretzels were voted “delicious.” And the pickles, while in spear form and not the chips that Cassi usually enjoys more, were probably not the best of the bunch – the breading was just a touch too thick – but still decent.

I mean, after we’ve had pickles at Dilly D’s, how can we really ever truly complain?

Ted’s wings arrived and Shane was in full regret mode for the fact that he didn’t order any for himself just on sight alone.

Ted said that as wings go they were good – large wings, decent flavor … but that they weren’t spicy at all.

My burger was OK. It was done correctly – medium – meanwhile Jason’s and Shane’s medium rare burgers looked like they had just been freshly killed out back, so perhaps they unknowingly ordered that elusive side of salmonella with their meals?

Russian roulette of food borne illnesses. Our favorite game.

Regardless we all agreed that they weren’t the best burgers any of us have ever eaten. With or without the 50/50 chance of potential death.

I also gave up on my bun halfway through. As a lover of good carbs, that hurts my heart just a little bit to say.

Cassi took half of her grilled cheese home, saying it was just too filling for one sitting.

Overall, OBC is a cool place. The menu was a bit small, and quite honestly we all thought that it was one of those times when everything on the apps menu looked better than the actual dinners. Case in point, Shane said he would get an order of the fire onion rings just based on the one that topped his burger.

But our one gripe – because you know we have to have one, right? We’re judgey like that, I know – was that the beer … well … was not our favorite, by local brewery standards. I mean some were of course better than others, and Ted seemed to be the one out of the group to be the most agreeable to the majority of them. And we all know Shane and Jason could really be happy with Bud Light, so it’s not like our standards are super high. But I guess when compared to other local places like our old favorite R Shea’s … it’s really no contest.

And it was a little pricey, especially when it came to the sides and apps. The stuffed pepper app was as much as a burger. And those “extra” fries that Shane actually wanted subbed as the side with his burger were another $4. Yikes.

But will we return? Most likely. Given the proximity to home and the fact that we did for the most part like the food options, I could see it being an easy revisit for those nights when we need a nearby locale.

Or maybe we’ll convince OBC to start a new trend of bar table tennis leagues. I mean, if skew ball leagues are a thing, then it could catch on … right?

Only one way to find out …

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

WTGW 10/16/19: DeLuca’s Pizza Pub, Green

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Friends, if you will, indulge us for a moment for a story.

Once upon a time a group of food testing friends came across a bar that had everything they were looking for. There were drinks. There was food. And there was a lot of fun with some new friends, which culminated in a far later night out than folks of their age should likely indulge in, but that’s neither here nor there.

And they rejoiced.

I mean, doesn’t that look like fun?

It should also be noted that we only really know about four people in all of those photos.

The name of this magical place was Howie’s. It was situated next to a lake, the likes of which they didn’t see that evening because it was a chilly spring evening, and, well, occasionally this group makes smart choices.

But they vowed to return.

And they did, once or twice, on a few weekends and one particular 4th of a July.

But then the place closed. And they were sad for taking its existence for granted.

But wait! Thanks to the power of social media, it was learned that the owners opened a new place! A pizza pub, in nearby Green, called Deluca’s Pizza Pub.

An anxious wait followed, carefully watching social media for the eventual opening and the rave reviews that followed.

And so the group finally went to check it out. And discovered … well … first and foremost, that it was really difficult to find. Because the plaza lacks signage and lighting and, well, basically the look of actually being a habitat for real human life of any sort. Maybe we should work on making the theme more “great place to come eat” and less “we’re suffering from a permanent power outage,” no?

But beyond that observation, the next thing that became blatantly obvious was, well, it’s not Howie’s. Which is not to say it’s bad … but, well, it’s not Howies.

Read on …

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, pizza? Duh.

But first, ALL THE BREAD AND OIL. Like seriously, entire wheat fields were sacrificed to bring this spread to our table this evening.

Yes, that’s three orders of bread and oil on one table. Because who needs variety? And also:

Ok, now that we’re past that, let’s move on to the pizzas, since that is the specialty here after all. They have all sorts of specialty flavored pizza, but they for the most part are all NY style. So it you’re looking for deep dish, this is probably not your scene.

Shane got his own pizza – the Wise Guy – because, well, see the photo above.

For clarity’s sake, this is a 10 inch pizza. Which we all took one look at upon arrival and knew would barely be enough for Shane alone, so fortunately I was wise enough to order my own meal.

Cassi and Jason got the much larger Meatball pizza to share.

That’s more like it.

Cassi also got a side salad.

Ted got a pizza he made himself with toppings, not a specialty one. Well, by “made himself” I mean he picked out the toppings, not that he actually went back into the kitchen and cooked it himself – which I would think is obvious, but just clarifying. I mean, could you imagine the outrage? We got bent out of shape when we had to go up and order our own food last week, let’s not even talk about what kind of world it would be if they expected us to enter the kitchen and cook something.

Anyway.

He chose sausage, pepperoni and meatballs. It had minimal cheese, by the server’s admission because of all the meats covering it. To which we all replied in a resounding chorus that that’s exactly how Ted likes it.

I got a calzone with mushrooms and sausage, and a side salad

THE VERDICT

So overall, taste-wise, everything was good. The flavors in the pizza and the calzone were both delicious. The dough especially was amazing, and you could tell it’s all fresh made – even without the note in the menu mentioning the lack of freezers or fryers in the back kitchen. In fact, if all four pieces could’ve been as doughy as the end two slices I might not have been able to hold myself back from eating the whole thing and getting rolled out the back door to the parking lot.

Which, fortunately is shrouded in darkness so at least no one would’ve seen. Maybe we’ve cracked the code on this while lighting situation after all.

Admittedly Shane was somewhat disappointed that the pizzas were thin crust, because he would’ve rather enjoyed the doughier version. Or at least probably been less hungry when we left.

Our bounty of bread and oil was arguably the best part of the meal. Props to the server who told us to smash the garlic cloves into the oil rather than out previous method of attempting to eat them an entire clove at a time. And the bread was really flavorful. While it didn’t soak up the oil entirely, the taste of the bread alone made up for that. It was like those pita crisp crackers turned into a full piece of bread.

Cassi liked her salad so much that she claimed she wanted them to pack her a salad for tomorrow’s lunch. Oh, hey, thank you to-go menu. That worked out well.

But in particular the cheese on the salad was amazing. You could tell it was fresh, not packaged from the Market District grocery down the street.

And the homemade sausage in my calzone was to die for.

So, if you’re following along here, so far on taste one we’re giving DeLucas a five-thumbs-up rating.

But here are our biggest issues with the place, and the reason for us saying it’s not Howie’s – and it won’t get the stellar overall rating that we gave that place. For one, the atmosphere. Look, I get the reasoning behind wanting to make the move from rowdy “let’s all do shots at 7PM” waterfront bar to classier pizza pub where mixed drinks are called “handcrafted cocktails” and seasonal pumpkin cider is served on draft.

But, well, this leap may just be a little too much for this particular area. I mean, let’s look around … by 7:30PM, we were literally the only people in the place that couldn’t walk into the kitchen without being told we didn’t belong there.

Which may dovetail into our second issue … price. I mean, we get the whole fresh-made thing. And we both enjoy and appreciate that. But, well, paying $14 for a just a step above personal pan pizza and $6 for a draft cider was a little bit disheartening. Maybe in NYC that flies, but not in Green, Ohio.

So chances are that as much as we may have enjoyed the pizzas and other bread and cheese products here … we won’t be sitting here a few years from now retelling the story of how much we love Deluca’s. At least not in the same way we loved Howie’s, anyway.

*sigh*

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 8/21/19: The Ramp, Portage Lakes

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In our next edition of let’s soak up as much of summer as we can before we begin the season in which Mother Nature unleashes her fury of five feet of snow in one hour, we visit The Ramp, a new restaurant on the water in Portage Lakes.

I believe I read somewhere that the marina owners decided to build a new restaurant on their property because they heard people saying there weren’t enough restaurants on that side of the lakes.

But I could also be totally making that up, so don’t quote me on that. I’m blonde. Strange ideas take up residence inside my head sometimes.

Anyway.

Um, I don’t think you’re supposed to park the boat inside the bar

The place was surprisingly not busy considering the location, great patio and fantastic weather. 

I mean, come on. In northeast Ohio, this is about as good as it gets.

I’d also heard from others in the area that conversely there’s a wait list about a mile long to get a table on the weekends, so I guess maybe we are a little bit smart on this whole Wednesday planning deal after all.

WHAT WE ORDERED

In the great Summer Quest for White Claw 2019, this place is in the “yes” category. Score.

We all took one look at the menu and knew Ted was going to order the lamb lollipops for appetizers. I mean, not that he’s predictable or anything, but serve up some sort of meat on a stick and it will definitely makes it’s way to his plate.

He said they were perfect. And that the slaw served with them was spicy AND sweet.

Oh, Gus’ Chalet, you live on in our hearts.

Shane and I got the fried pickles.

They were good. The breading was rather heavy, but in a good way. If you’ve read this blog enough you understand how that makes sense.

Word of warning: the sauce that accompanied the pickles is super spicy. Again, in a good way, but just be advised not to let your drink run dry before taking a bite. It was like eat one pickle with sauce and drink half a beer to make up for it.

Cassi and Jason got the Brussels sprouts.

They weren’t the greatest.

So there’s that.

On the dinner side of things, I got the beer battered cod with baked potato and salad.

Shane got the Reuben with onion rings.

Cassi got the smothered chicken with side salad and baked potato.

Jason got the Reuben with the sidewinder fries.

Ted got the ahi tuna wrap, also with sidewinder fries.

Overall the consensus was that everything was pretty good. The special sidewinder fries were probably the biggest hit of the meal, everyone who tried them gave those a huge thumbs up. It’s hard to describe what makes them so much better than regular fries – I mean, other than the funky shape and all – but I guess you’ll just have to just trust our well traveled taste buds on this one.

Shane said the Panko breading on the onion rings was exceptionally good. And my cod was very tasty also.

The only one who wasn’t quite as happy with his meal was Ted, but basically that was because the wrap just wasn’t as good as his meat-on-a-stick appetizer. Like he should’ve gotten the app as his actual meal, and ordered something else as the app.

And Cassi might’ve enjoyed her baked potato more had she gotten the extra butter she asked the server for about four times.

So, you know, there’s that.

Wait … please tell me someone out there reading this noticed that no one in our group ordered burgers OR wings?!?!? And yes, they were on the menu.

We’re slipping. Might have to go back to the Springfield Tavern just to redeem ourselves.

THE VERDICT

Overall The Ramp isn’t a bad place. You can definitely tell that it hasn’t been open very long and that they’re still working out some of the kinks … you know, like taking an entire meal to bring extra butter or boxes for leftovers, even though there’s only about five other tables filled in the entire place … but it seems like it has great potential. I mean, the location alone is amazing. Just needs to make a few adjustments and it could really be great.

Like, for one: entertainment. So they have all those TVs on the patio, how about turning them on? Or hitting up a band or even some Pandora station for background music? Did someone misplace ALL of the remotes?

I mean I get that you don’t want to re-create the party atmosphere or reputation that some of the places on the Lakes have. But when the alternative is letting your patrons be entertained by some kids across the lake doing the poor mans water park and jumping in the water from a rope swing whilst making a ton of noise, or a great blue heron stalking its dinner in the water from the boat docks … well let’s just say that even the Golf Channel begins to look appealing given those alternatives.

There’s a lot of ground between wet t-shirt contest and real live nature channel, and finding the middle certainly shouldn’t be such an impossible concept.

I hear that the weekends find the place full, but on a Wednesday night at dinner time it was not even close to being standing room only. In fact the only standing was done by the staff, who quite possible outnumbered the patrons. At least in the dining room anyway.

Which, again, offers no explanation for the great butter debacle. But I digress.

Plus they have White Claw for $3.75, which all in itself is a great marketing asset considering the limbs we’ve lost paying for it at other local establishments.

I have to think we’d give it another try. And we’re definitely adding it to the “amazing patio” list. So we can be prepared on, you know, the possible four times a year that nice weather and Wednesday actually collide.

Picked by: Jason

Next pick: Shane

WTGW 4/10/19: Gamble’s Vintage Sports Pub and Grille, Doylestown

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THE WHERE (we went)

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Doylestown?!

Yeah, well, I sure hadn’t. I’m not sure where this magical land of shockingly more than one bar & grill appeared like an oasis suddenly in my Google Maps search, but OK. We’ll start at Gamble’s, and leave the others up my sleeve for future picks.

But I can’t guarantee I won’t think of this scene in Billy Madison every time we visit.

Shane hit the nail on the head when he said this place immediately reminded him of the Green Diamond Grille in Barberton. Can places have dopplegangers like people? Asking for a friend.

Just like Green Diamond, the walls at Gamble’s are full of sports memorabilia. But its more of a “man cave basement” feel than a local frat house motif. Which is always more desirable, in every sense of the comparison.

And we all know the best furniture compliment to sports memorabilia is a nice granite-looking tabletop and giant comfy office/lounge chairs that you literally have to climb into, no?

Uh.

Sure.

There was also one giant table at the very front of the place that I have to assume is reserved for some sort of royalty. Or mafia meetings. Because, really, how well do we know you, Doylestown?

Exactly.

It definitely wasn’t set aside for the local fantasy football group, whose meeting on this Wednesday had the unfortunate luck of being designated to the back of the bar. And if those guys can’t get the royalty table in a sports bar, of all places, then what is wrong with the world?

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Hey guess what’s on special on Wednesdays? Wings!

I bet you’ll be shocked to hear that that’s what we ordered. Special shout out to places for making specials on the things we eat the most on the nights when we go out. You’re the best.

Although, I mean, admittedly it’s not the best special we’ve ever encountered: wings are 75 cents each, ordered in increments of six. Just a note, Gamble’s, at some places we’ve been, that 75 cents will get you 7.5 wings. Just sayin’.

(And mental note made to put The Big Dog Wing Night on our list of summer patio revisits for this summer.)

Ted admitted, though, that he was a bit conflicted … because it was wing night and so he felt compelled to try the wings … but he also wanted a burger.

Please don’t fall out of your uncomfortably high swivel chair and hit your head on the granite tabletop as you read that. I know it’s a bit of a shock. Who likes burgers and wings in this group? Please.

(And mental note made to check back in on our friends at the Springfield Tavern to see how that two-option menu revision is coming along.)

But jokes aside, we really were a little torn about just opting for the wing special – since, as Jason pointed out, the menu, while small, actually had quite a bit of variety, and sandwiches/meals that sounded pretty appealing.

And if you were hoping I would give you an example of that variety … well, you’d be out of luck, unfortunately, since I can’t seem to remember anything in particular and of course the menu isn’t found anywhere online. But just trust us on this one. I mean, how often have we failed you in the past?

Don’t answer that.

Our apps came in the form of all things loaded: pub chips for Cassi and Jason, and nachos for me and Shane.

Anyone else feel like you’re seeing double? Or playing one of those bar games where you have to spot the differences between two photos?

Yeah, not much variety here. It seems the only difference we noticed was that one has a base of homemade potato chips while the other rests on store bought tortilla chips. And neither option is particularly appealing, TBH.

So if you’re looking to share a few apps with the table then you probably want to only pick one of these, and then pretty much anything else on the app menu that doesn’t begin with the word “loaded.” Just a tip.

Cassi got a salad, and 12 of the hot boneless wings. Which came in two separate order baskets, because apparently they didn’t realize the breadth of our order and think space would be at a premium on our table.

Jason got two orders of wings – six honey mustard and six teriyaki – and the Jeep Davis burger. Which, if I was doing my job correctly, I would be able to give you some detail about what was included with that (since I realize “Jeep Davis” really doesn’t seem to offer a lot in the descriptive category) – but since I didn’t we’ll just say that judging by the photo it has cheese and some onions. Close enough.

Ted got two orders of wings – mango habenero and sweet chili. And the BLT burger – because when you can’t decide in this group, you order both. Duh.

If you can’t tell from the photo, Ted’s was probably the one burger on the menu that didn’t feature cheese as a condiment. Another shocker for the evening, I know.

Shane got three orders of wings – honey mustard, sweet chili and garlic parm.

I got two orders of wings – mango habenero and garlic parm. And a side order of steak fries.

Ted: I feel like this is one of those nights when we might need a picture of the whole table with all the food on it.

At least I didn’t fail on that one. Ta Da!

So, yeah, there’s that. I have to wonder if they ran out of wing baskets after serving our table.

Perhaps the best summary on our meals is this: the steak fries were the best part of my meal.

Ouch.

While that kind of says everything you need to know, I’m obviously not one to ever be at a loss for words, so I’ll explain.

First off, the wings were small. I mean, I get that it’s a wing special night … but given the price I think we were all still kinda surprised at just how small they were.

That’s what she said.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Anyway.

I’m just gonna put it out there that the wings we’ve had for ten cents each at some other places (*ahem* The Big Dog *ahem*) have been considerably larger than these.

The mango habanero, which you expect from the name to be somewhat spicy, just – well – weren’t. They honestly didn’t have much flavor to them. Ted said the sweet chili was his favorite. Shane said he liked the garlic parm the best … but I tried one and thought they also lacked flavor. Maybe my taste buds were broken?

On the burger side of things, Jason thought his was a little dry, and Ted’s was missing any sort of seasoning.

Sounds delicious.

Cassi was not a fan of her salad, which she said had mushy cucumbers. Not to be confused with mushy pizza bottoms. She also pushed her water glass to the side after just one sip, and Jason agreed it did not taste good. Sorry, Doylestown, we’ll take bottled when we visit the next time.

Speaking of glasses, apparently Gamble’s needs to do an inventory of their barware at some point, as it seems they only have two tall beer glasses available. What?

We found this out when Shane and Jason ordered the kind and size of beer, but Shane’s arrived in a tall glass while Jason was served a considerably smaller one. I also was the lucky winner of a tall glass, but mine was full of a different kind of beer. The server explained that it was because I ordered the Summer Shandy, which is what the glasses are actually for.

But wait, Shane ordered Bud Light. How did he get a special glass?

*insert shrugging emoji here*

Well once we discovered we were the proud owners of the only two true tall glasses in the bar, of course we didn’t want to give them up. It’s like when you get grandfathered in with a real glass on a patio full of people forced to use plastic cups, and you do everything you can to make sure the bartender doesn’t find out. I’m an adult, dammit. I can be trusted with real barware.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that if you’re strategic about your alcohol consumption, you too can have the special glass.

Yeah, Shane gave up on that strategy after a few rounds, when it became obvious that timing his drink to run out when the server came over to take the order for the next round also meant he was then without alcohol for, well, a really long time until she returned with a full glass. That’s like playing a drinking game with the goal of who can get the soberist the fastest. No thanks.

THE WHO (we saw)

I bet you won’t be surprised when I tell you that our server was also the only bartender working this evening also. Seems to be a trend these days.

It’s also a trend that places seems to be a little too busy for that. Owners, please take note.

Getting our menus after we were told to “sit anywhere” took about a few seconds shy of forever. And then our first round of drinks eventually arrived but refills were slow – oh, and then we had to wait to put our orders in because she had to check on all of the other tables before she could come back over to us.

When we first walked in I remember thinking there weren’t many tables in this place. But then when it came time for her to check on every. single. one. of. them. it suddenly seemed like there were about 1,000.

So that’s fun.

The entertainment showed up about halfway through our meals, in the form of some random drunk girl who placed herself at the end of the bar near the door and was for some god-forsaken reason given control of the remote to the jukebox. About five songs later we were suddenly surrounded by dance club level decibels of country music, which I assure you isn’t necessary in any form while you’re trying to eat dinner.

THE HOW (much we paid)

$60 bill, so $72 with tip.

Seems a little pricey for wings and beer – especially when they’re supposedly on special. And you have to continuously reuse your beer glass.

THE WHY (they may not see us again)

Well, first off, the wings weren’t really stellar enough for a return visit, especially given the length of drive we have to get us here. The atmosphere – other than the drunken wannabe and apparently deaf DJ – was OK. I mean, the tables and the look of the place seemed promising when we arrived, but we all know that decor and furniture don’t exactly carry a place in our circles.

Plus – seriously – how do you only have two tall beer glasses?? That mafia idea is becoming even more realistic.

But don’t forget the name of the town. We will definitely be back in this general vicinity.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Cassi

Steph (with a special appearance by Shane’s side eye)

Shane

Ted

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 12/19/18: Bison Street Burgers and Brews, Massillon

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Our trek to Bison Street Burgers and Brews began by driving for about a year and a half to get to the place, between Ted’s directionally challenged map advisor and the fact that this is pretty much the other side of the world from our house. The final leg of the drive also involved meandering through some residential neighborhoods – thanks for the holiday light displays, people of Massillon – so of course we were totally convinced that this week’s pick would actually end up being at someone’s house.

I joke because it’s happened before. Ok, well not really, but this certainly isn’t the first time we’ve had these thoughts.

Finally we’re here! And it’s not a house!  Yeah, no, instead it’s some giant building that looks like it should be a commercial trucking company or pool chemical distributor.

Welcoming. Where have you brought us, Ted?

There’s also some sort of strange maze of concrete pilons all over the parking lot. Seems an odd choice for a place that advertises “brews” in the name, no? Is this their version of sobriety testing before you can head home?

If not for the giant banner on the side of the building announcing “Now open to the public!” we may have second guessed this choice, cut our losses, and tried to find our way back to civilization before searching out some food and drinks.

Thankfully we all had our adventurous pants on this evening, and ventured ahead into the mysterious giant building.

And – spoiler alert – we were not at all sorry. This place is definitely a hidden gem. Emphasis on hidden.

The inside of Bison St made us all think perhaps the place used to be a private club of some sort – you know, Eagles, Moose, Lions, whatever animal seemed to be a good name for a club that popped up in pretty much every small town in Ohio at one time or another. It’s a giant room, with a decent sized bar at one side and tables throughout. Also, lighting. Which sounds strange to say, but given the darkness we’ve eaten in over the past few weeks it was actually kind of nice to be able to see our food for a change.

Given the name of the place, of course we all ordered beers with our meals. I had just gotten home from a quick overnight work trip to NYC – which of course involved personal challenges to close down bars that stay open until 4AM – so alcohol was about the furthest thing from my mind. And then naturally I ordered a Christmas Ale. Logical, I know.

Our server came over and let us know that all of the apps were half off. I can’t remember if this was because it was Wednesday or because we were there during happy hour, though, so don’t quote me on being able to get this special ever again. Did I mention I didn’t get much sleep the night before?

There were two apps that weren’t part of the special – the loaded fries, and something called The Titan, which turned out to be a giant one pound pretzel. We saw one of these delivered to a nearby table before we placed our orders, and we can vouch that it is aptly named. But we didn’t order it – because, hello, there were a wealth of other items to choose from that sounded just as delicious but were part of whatever special we were told about.

Frugality is a strong point of this group. You should know this by now.

Speaking of things you should know by now, Cassi and Jason ordered the fried pickles as their appetizer. Ted also decided to get his own order as well.

Where did they find such skinny spears?

Shane and I opted for the cream cheese poppers, because they sounded delicious. And also the onion rings, because after the special they were $2. I mean, seriously.

Why don’t we order these more often?

Definitely not from the same “small veggie” garden that the pickles are grown in

Perhaps because we’ve been slacking on our normal menu inquisition of our dear servers, we decided to try our luck on that line of questioning again this time. To which we were greeted with the time-honored and oh-so-helpful answer of “everything.”

Uh oh. We’ve been down this road before.

But then she mentioned that the place is known for its burgers – which, come on, you’re not really going out on a limb with that one considering it’s in. the. name. of. the. establishment. – and also the gourmet grilled cheeses. OK, now we’re getting somewhere.

Then she went on to say that the flatbreads are also good. And that the Cowboy burger is the best seller.

OK, we get it. Just stop before you creatively manage to reinforce your initial statement about everything on the menu being worth ordering.

Have we mentioned The Titan yet? Yeah, well, so did she. We’re beginning to be sorry we asked.

Hey, Ted managed to pick one of the few items on the menu that the server didn’t point out! He chose the strip steak with mashed potatoes, claiming he had been having recent cravings for a good steak.

Obviously he was also having cravings for just food in general, since Ted literally didn’t speak to the group the entire time he was eating. It was like we weren’t even there. At one point I think the other four of us actually stopped eating so that we could just watch him clean up every morsel of food on any plate that was in front of him.

It wasn’t until the server arrived to take the plates from the table that he seemed to look up and realize he was among a group and could rejoin us again.

So clearly he hated it.

I’m surprised I was able to get a photo of this before it disappeared

I kid. He said that it was delicious, and actually it was one of the better steaks he’s had in some time. The meat wasn’t overly seasoned, but because it was cooked to perfection it had a ton of flavor.

It wasn’t until he paid it the highest compliment of saying he liked it “as much, if not a lot more” than that infamous steak special at the Dougout that Shane’s ears perked up.

I already see a revisit, just so Shane can order this entree and try it for himself.

Jason got the aforementioned Cowboy Burger, and also an order of Coney dogs. The server explained – probably as she realized Jason was essentially ordering two full meals just for himself – that the Coney dogs weren’t anything to sneeze at, the order was actually two large-ish dogs and a full order of fries. So, yeah, a crapload of food.

But hey, he still went for it. Because when have statements like these really ever stopped us? It’s more like a challenge.

And clearly she doesn’t read this blog.

Plus Cassi stepped up to say that she would eat some of the fries. This is how marriages succeed, people.

The one stipulation was that she needed to be able to get a side of beer cheese to dip the fries in. And while what showed up wasn’t quite the swimming pool’s worth of melted goodness that arrived on the table at that place in Barberton, it was definitely close.

Maybe it’s a good thing Ted never looked up long enough to see this giant bowl of cheese?

The Coney dogs turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. They definitely looked better than they tasted – which seems to be an oxymoron of a statement all on its own, being that Coney dogs are made to look like a bit of a hot mess on a bun – so I guess what you can read into that is that we were all far more excited to see them arrive on the table than Jason was to eat all of them. Jason said they weren’t horrible, per se, but mainly that the chili was too sweet.

Proof that looks can be deceiving

I mean, he still he still ate everything, though, so take that as you will. He just thought maybe the value was more at a $3 level instead of the $5 they charged.

Yes, this is the level we’ve hit, folks. You know you’re pro when you can play The Price is Right with menu items.

Lest you think fries with cheese sauce were Cassi’s only source of nourishment for the evening, she also got the half pesto flatbread and six spicy garlic boneless wings. And it only took about a bite and a half of each one before she said she wished she had nixed the flatbread and just gotten a double order of wings. The wings were small, but the flavor was outstanding … while the flatbread was the exact opposite of both of those things

But at least it’s pretty?

I think Cassi wished this was one of those never ending baskets

Because I apparently wasn’t paying attention during the part of the evening when we realized that the server was going to be not helpful in the least when it came to decision making, I pushed my luck and inquired which was better: the Philly grilled cheese or the Ranch burger made with Bison meat.

I bet you already can’t guess how influential this was to my decision.

So I chose the burger … at which point Shane says “hey, you know what? we always get burgers when we go out. maybe you should try something new.” … so I crossed back over into the grilled cheese camp.  And vowed to Shane that if my meal sucked I was holding him personally responsible.

This is also how marriages succeed. We should totally teach a course.

What was that we said about looks being deceiving?

I’m glad to say Shane was allowed to live, because my meal didn’t suck … but it also wasn’t so great that I didn’t kind of still half wish I’d ordered the burger instead. It’s like the Sliding Doors of food orders. The sandwich was just OK. It was made from braised short rib – which the server did tell me going into the order, so I wasn’t expecting processed Philly steak like other sandwiches. Maybe that’s why I had higher expectations. And, I mean, it tasted good … but it just wasn’t at the top of the list of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Maybe it was the sourdough bread, which usually I love but in this case just didn’t seem to go with the sandwich.

Thumbs way up on the fries, though. I got the steak fries (compared to the rest of the table’s fresh cut) and was not disappointed there.

Shane got the Flaming Hot Burger, which he wasted no time in exclaiming how amazing it was. Per the previous few paragraphs, I wasted no time in not pretending that didn’t annoy me at least a little bit.

I like that they hide the hot peppers under a sheet of cheese. Tricky.

Mine and Shane’s bill was $35, which got us two appetizers, two Bud lights for Shane, one Christmas ale for me (which was the Beer of the Month, so cheaper than usual), and two full meals – of which I ended up taking half of my sandwich home, probably thanks to the two apps worth of fried stuff we started out the meal enjoying. Not too shabby at all.

Plus the place had a cool atmosphere on the inside – and despite the fact that the server wasn’t the best at giving solid recommendations, the service was great. I mean, it’s better when the server can’t decide what to recommend because she honestly loves everything they make, and not because she doesn’t care or hasn’t been there long enough to have really even opened a menu.

I could definitely see us making a return visit to Bison St. Especially after we noticed on our way out that there seems to be a fairly large covered patio area outside, so it will be interesting to see if they have bands there, or just make it into a cool outdoor area for the summer. It only it weren’t over the river and through the woods away from our house … but at least in the summer it stays light out longer, so maybe it won’t feel like midnight before we even make it into the concrete-hazard-laden parking lot. Can y’all leave the Christmas lights up for us?

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Shane, decked out in his holiday finest

Steph

Jason

Cassi – up for wings, down for flatbreads

WTGW 11/7/18: 91 Wood Fired Oven, Canton

Standard

Hey, remember a few weeks ago when we were visiting dive bars and our entire group’s collective bill was like $50?

Yeah, we’ve clearly moved up in the world.

That doesn’t look like a canned beer

It’s like when you get your first real adult apartment and try to compare it to your college place that classified as an apartment pretty much only by the verdict that it had four walls, a door, and functioning plumbing.

91 Wood Fired Oven is owned by the same people who have a few of our other Canton-area picks: 3 Brothers, and Table 6. I know, we all see what they did there with the numbers. Ted has been holding onto this pick for a bit now waiting to finish out the trifecta.

Wednesday brings us a short list of $6 martini specials until 9pm (again, numbers. What is it with these people and multiples of three?), so at least that gave things a promising start. I got the melon.

Spoiler alert: it looked and sounded more promising than it tasted. The fact that I only had one should speak for itself.

Moving on.

Since they didn’t have Shane’s signature namesake martini at this place, he went with a Blue Moon (future me says wise choice on that one, bud), while Ted and Jason got whatever porter was on draft.

For the second week in a row Ted looked at the menu for about five seconds and then declared this was going to be a expensive meal – and not just because he got used to our weeks of entrees for $1 each. Instead it was due to his decision that he would forgo an appetizer in order to actually get two dinners – a meat lovers pizza, and the grilled tenderloin skewer.

Because we all know Ted loves meat on a stick.

Ah, that never gets old.

Well those are definitely bite sized

Meanwhile on the other side of the table, Jason got the pretzel bite app all for himself, along with a BBQ chicken pizza – since Cassi was still abstaining from all things alcoholic, carb-loaded and topped with cheese.

Which makes a pizza place a real treat, I know.

She ended up with the Brussels Sprout Salad.

Which just by name alone seems that it should fit more in a photo frame with my martini glass than the appetizer that Shane and I got: the double chip platter, half covered in blue cheese and half covered in bacon and cheddar.

You can put it on a classy plate all you want – it’s still chips covered in cheese

You can hand a girl a martini glass, but you can’t make her drink it with something other than true bar food. True story.

OK, I admit, I did go back up a notch with my dinner order of Smoked Gouda Risotto. So there’s that.

Shane, meanwhile, copied half of Ted’s dual dinner and ordered the meat lovers pizza.

OK, so now that you know what was supposed to come to the table this evening … let’s talk about what we really ended up with.

Cassi’s salad arrives looking like literally just lettuce. Seems a bit of a red flag that something called Brussels Sprout salad wouldn’t have even one of said item on it, no? Exactly.

Oh good, a plate of something I could’ve bought in a bag at the grocery store for $3

So we called the server over and he confirmed that it was definitely not the right salad. He took it to the back and returned a few minutes later with what appeared to be the same plate, just with some Brussels Sprouts as garish.

Oh look, they added … more green stuff

Interesting.

My risotto arrived looking more like a meat entrée. Which was weird considering that chicken, while mentioned in the description of the dish, wasn’t anywhere in the title. So, yeah, it should certainly look like two giant pieces of chicken in a bowl instead of … well … a bowl of risotto with maybe some chicken pieces in it. OK.

That brown risotto is ruining the rest of the dish

And it didn’t take more than a few bites for me to realize that not only would I prefer the visual of said dish prepared in that fashion, but the taste also. I mean, the risotto was good – it was rich, so I probably couldn’t have eaten more than what I had anyway – but the chicken really killed it for me. Not only were the pieces too thick, giving me flashbacks to the time Hooley House tried to serve up a salmonella sandwich for one … but the taste was just not great.

On the pizza front, Shane spent a few moments trying to figure out why they forgot to put cheese on his. Did Ted call ahead and tell them we were all allergic, as a joke? Had they heard us talking about Cassi’s diet and figured the rest of the group would want to be sympathetic?

Nope, that’s just how they come here.

Did the cheese evaporate when you sprinkled the special shrinking dust on it?

It’s also missing about half the size we’re used to for pizzas in this group. It’s like when you put a sweater in the dryer by accident and it comes out looking like something that now fits your dog or 4-year old niece.

It looks so small and sad

And it wasn’t just the pizzas that seemed small. Ted thought he would have leftovers, being that he did order two full entrees … but because the pizza was microwave sized and the meat on a stick was taken from special cows bred to be about the same size as chickens, well, lets just say he reached the point of “it’s not worth it to waste a to-go box on what won’t end up being a full meal anyway,” and just let that last slice of pizza stay with the plate.

The knife is bigger than the meat lollipop

That’s not to say he wasn’t full, though. I think out of all of us, he was the one most likely to say no to a support stop at Taco Bell on the way home.

Or to a dessert menu. Of course we had to tease Ted when the desserts were mentioned, because when we were at both of this establishment’s sister restaurants we thought we were full and then we went ahead with dessert anyway because they sounded so delicious. And we weren’t disappointed.

I mean need to talk about pumpkin love again? Especially when it is that season right now and it’s likely we won’t get back there before they take it off the seasonal menu again. Someone needs to make a note right now to schedule a revisit every fall just so we can go there and fill up on fried pickles and pumpkin love.

There’s a sentence that shouldn’t be read out of context.

Overall, this was a bit of a disappointing pick. It was definitely our least favorite restaurant from their umbrella, and I have to believe the one we would be least likely to head back to anytime soon. Not to say this place is awful by any means – but if you have the choice of 3, 6 or 9 … let’s just say that less is more where these places are concerned.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Shane – with a non-Ted backdrop

Steph

Jason

Cassi

91 Wood Fired Oven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 10/24/18: Green Diamond Grille, Barberton

Standard

OK kids, so after a few weeks of the diviest of dive bars, we definitely classed it up a bit more this week. For one thing, no one had to go on a scavenger hunt for menus – it was actually assumed that we would be eating, and menus were handed to us as we were seated. And then the options inside said menus were a bit more complex than dinner than McDonalds.

I’m not sure how we know how to act in these here fancy places anymore.

Although I think we all had our doubts on the drive in, as the main street leading up to the Green Diamond Grille was more than a little sketch. I mean, it was better than the universe of back roads we found ourselves in last week – but, well, that’s not really so difficult to beat, so that may not really even be worth mentioning.

Anyway.

We were greeted immediately after we walked in, and were told that we could sit in the room behind the main bar or in the dining room. Because we’re allergic to dining rooms, naturally we chose the room by the bar.

Started out with beers all around, although Ted tried to steal mine when it was set down because he couldn’t believe I also ordered a Kentucky Bourbon Ale like he did. I know, my penchant for beers I can actually see through usually diverts me to other choices, but it had been a while since I’d had one of these and it just sounded good. Shane picked up my slack with a Miller Lite, and Jason took advantage of the waning days of fall beer season and ordered a Pumpking. Meanwhile Cassi abstained from alcohol, thanks to a new Whole 30 diet.

This also meant Cassi couldn’t order anything with dairy or carbs – which of course Ted was thrilled to hear about, because for once he wouldn’t be the only one at the table ordering his famous “cheeseburger, hold the cheese.”

It doesn’t make it any less weird, though. Let’s just keep that point clear.

Shane of course asked the server his famous two part questionnaire: what’s good here, and how much food do you get with the order (alternate text: what order gets you the most food for your money).

In response, our server pointed out that the Wednesday special is something called “hunky night” – which, because, I mean, I’m sure it’s totally obvious what that means and all but I’ll explain It anyway, translates to getting the choice a couple of things that have hunks of some sort of meat in it – like sausage or chicken.

Um, OK.

The marketing person at me was screaming at her to please, for the love of all things holy, change the name of that special before you start attracting bachelorette parties and lonely single women thinking a special showing of Magic Mike is on tap for the evening, but I wisely kept these thoughts to myself.

She left us to continue contemplating the menu, and it took all of about 15 seconds for Ted to snap his menu shut, cross his arms across his chest, and declare that this evening was going to be quite expensive on his end.

Well, I mean, in all fairness, for the past two weeks he’s been getting essentially two entrees for under $5, so take that declaration with a bit of a grain of salt.

Ted was apparently won over by this oddly named Wednesday special, so that was what he ordered. He chose the hunky chicken and dumplings … with sausage … and butter noodles … and a cabbage roll … and green beans. I’m about 97.5% certain that he didn’t realize at least three of those things would be included in his meal until the plate came out.

Because he also got mussels to start.

Sounds about right.

But it worked out OK, because the mussels were definitely worth it. Ted said they may have been some of the best he’s ever had.

This could be a meal all in itself

While the rest of the meal didn’t encourage those highest of accolades, it at least didn’t disappoint. He said that the cabbage roll was good and – to use his word – “dense.” I’m not sure exactly how to rate that description, but it seems to live up to Shane’s quest to find the most food on a plate, so there’s that.

He did mention that the rest of the meal had a bit of an identity crisis going on, though, as the sausage tasted of garlic, the hunky chicken contained a little too much sour cream, and the butter noodles ended up actually being cabbage and noodles.

Not that any of those things are necessarily bad, per se – and he still finished his entire meal, so it definitely wasn’t that awful. Maybe they should just change the already-awful name of the dish to “chicken surprise” instead? Just a thought.

That’s like six different meals all put together in one

Cassi did go ahead with her order of the usual “Ted Special” (a.k.a. the burger sans cheese). And then also had to remove the bun once it arrived – which was a shame because it was grilled and not at all mushy – but the things we do for diets, I guess.

Burger, uncovered

She also got a plain baked potato, and side salad – which ended up being just basically lettuce and a few tomatoes because cheese was the other major component to this bowl of supposed vegetables. The server tried to be helpful and asked if she wanted to add on croutons – because I’m guessing no one has actually ever asked to remove all of the non-healthy items before so she wasn’t sure what the novelty was in even ordering it – but of course that was a big no. I think she left the table slightly bewildered.

Mmm, vegetables

Jason got potato skins, after casually mentioning his craving for some fried pickles – another of Cassi’s non-edibles – which of course caused Cassi to bring up that time at Dilly D’s a few months back when she wanted them and he vetoed that choice. Although I said he was kind of saving her back then because those ones were disgusting.

Much better than fried pickle spears

Shane and I went with the pretzel sticks for our app. Shocker, I know. But hit a win on these ones, as they were fried but not too crispy, and very doughy on the inside.

When doughy is a good thing

We also rounded out the burger orders at the table. I got the half pound specialty burger – it had a name, but that escapes me now, all I remember was that it was supposed to come with some sort of parm ranch sauce that I asked for on the side. Because that sounds like something even an adult can’t ingest on a sandwich without wearing a bib of some kind.

Burger, covered

Turns out I never got that side of whatever sauce was left off of my burger. But that’s OK, because instead I ended up with a side of applesauce that I’m not sure ever was actually supposed to come with my meal, as well as this delicious side bowl of goodness:

Maybe pick a different color for the bowl you’re going to fill with cheese next time, no?

That’s right, ask for a side of cheese to dip your fries in, and get something that rivals bowls of soup I’ve had at other restaurants. Score.

Jason and Shane each ordered the one pound burger. So essentially two of the burgers pictured above that I ordered – for each of them. You know its a good meal when the server’s response to that is, “yeah, we don’t sell many of those.”

Hmmm.

Challenge accepted, I guess. I’m not sure if she realized what she did by making that statement. Although her later statement when she came to deliver the checks was that she thought we may have run the kitchen out of burgers just with our table. So there’s that.

The onion ring seems slightly unnecessary

Shane: dreams are made of this

But you know what, we definitely shouldn’t be the only ones ordering the burgers at this place, though, because they were delicious. They were definitely fresh made – I ordered mine medium and it was still pretty pink inside, while Shane ordered his medium rare and it was just past the dead and warmed up stage. So just the way he likes it. It’s been a hot minute since we’ve been to a place that actually cooked them to order like that.

Shane, of course, was in love.

Shane: I’m not sure where to start eating, it’s just so beautiful.

OK.

The Green Diamond Grille is another of those places that falls under the “list of places we wish weren’t over 30 minutes away because we would likely visit them more often.” The food was good, and the service and atmosphere were both decent. It would be an interesting place to check out during a game. Or maybe just any night other than “hunky night.” Because I still can’t believe someone thought this was a good idea, but whatevs. Points for originality?

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Jason

Shaney likey

Ted

Steph

Green Diamond Grille & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato