WTGW 4/5/17: Arnie’s Public House, Akron

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Today’s lesson is in marketing. Specifically, what to name your restaruant that makes it sound inviting and like a place you might want to spend an evening with friends.

Arnie’s Standing Room Only: sounds like a place where we’d be lucky to get in the door, and then stand around awkwardly looking at each other and trying not to spill our beers.

Arnie’s Public House: less like a place you’re going to get jostled around in, but all I can think of is a “bath house” at the lake … and that’s not a very pretty picture either.

OK, so maybe it still falls a bit short of the mark, but progress.

We’ve never been inside this place when it was Arnie’s SRO – although Ted swears to the darkest side of the sun that we at least talked about going here more than once. Hmm. Personally I know I had to look it up in Google maps just to make sure it was where I was thinking it was, so I’m guessing those must be his other friends he’s referring to.

Dammit Ted, we don’t talk about other friends on WTGW. This is our night.

So I read some reviews and everyone agreed that Arnie’s PH was a much improved version of SRO. From what I can gather, they added a new menu/chef, as well as tables and booths for (gasp) seating options. Again, progress.

The place is still small, wedged into the side of a strip plaza. It probably only fits 50-75 people if I had to guess. This proved beneficial when we walked all the way through from what we thought was the front entrance on the patio to the actual front entrance at the back of the place (see also: irony) – only to find a “please seat yourself” sign. Well at least we had already walked past the available tables, and since the place was small we didn’t go too far out of our way.

The bartender helped us to a booth anyway, and explained that there were two bartenders, as well as one server – and she was new, but doing OK, so just give her a chance.

Because that sounds like a setup for eventual disappointment, no? Like “hey, here’s a great car … it looks nice, but it has 400,000 miles, no brakes and is missing a tire, so if you just park it in your driveway and look at it from the side with both tires, it’s really awesome.”

Also, since the bar is considerably smaller – and pouring drinks seems like sometimes it can be less work than waiting tables – it appeared the scales may have been tipped a little bit out of the new girl’s favor there, but whatever.

The beer list seemed decent, although Ted went to order one of his dark beers on tap only to be told it had been replaced with Summer Shandy. I’m liking that the “we’re out of the beer you like” curse has been moved out of my corner for a bit.

In any case, he went with a Thirsty Dog Twisted Kilt, I decided on Angry Orchard, and Shane – in a twist to shock us all – grabbed the Summer Shandy over his usual Bud Light. Color us surprised.

The menu is a mix of things that sound fancy (siracha brussel sprouts, Hungarian stuffed peppers, chicken and waffles) and things that you’d think a bar would have (burgers, chips and dip, sliders, pretzel sticks).

We’ve been on a pretzel stick kick the last few weeks, so we switched it up and went with the hush puppies this time around. Although a bit later – before our hush puppy app arrived – the server approached our table mistakenly with a plate of – what else? – pretzel sticks.

It’s like they knew we’d broken up with them and they were stalking us out to see our new love.

And I guess maybe in some ways they were warning us we were going to be sorry, because the hush puppies ended up not being the best choice. For something that has jalepeno in them – and you could see the actual jalepeno bits – there was zero flavor. Shane commented that normal, non-jalepeno hush puppies have more flavor than these did. This was just like eating a huge ball of cornmeal mush with some green flecks in it – something we all find incredibly delectable, I know.

“Those are some balls” – Shane, as they arrived on the table. Keeping it classy, folks.

The sauce was the only thing that made them even edible, but even that wasn’t anything impressive – I think it just seemed so amazing because it kept the hush puppies from turning your mouth into the Sahara desert and gave the dry bread crumb consistency at least a little bit of flavor. You can tell we didn’t care for them so much when we left one hush puppy on the plate – and even after we were done with our meals still no one touched it. That never happens.

Sorry, pretzels. We never should have doubted you. Please don’t hold it against us.

Shane got the Red Eye burger for his meal, along with a side of the housemade chips and dill dip for his side.

Mmmm … meat

He liked the burger, but because he got it his usual medium rare (and they actually cooked it that way) it was very difficult to eat. It fell apart as soon as he bit into it, so he pretty much had to go the knife and fork route at that point.

Good thing we weren’t still “standing room only” or that could’ve gotten messy.

I got the chicken tacos for my meal, only replaced the tortillas with a lettuce wrap. I guess I’ll be playing the part of “healthy Shane” this evening. Although I did get the homemade chips and dill dip as my side, too, so there’s that.

It looks pretty until you attempt to eat it

The chicken was really good, it was broken up into small pieces and very well seasoned with a little spicy kick. Lettuce wraps are a bit tricky to navigate, so I eventually resorted to fork bites also – which meant I kind of just ate the lettuce separately and could’ve just asked them to heap the chicken, cheese and filling from the tacos right onto my plate – but whatever, it was still good.

I will say both of us were disappointed in the chips, though. They were flimsy, and tasted more like the oil they were cooked in than the actual potato. Maybe slice them a bit thicker in the future. I mean, some of us actually like the taste of potato and not just air and oil, thanks.  And the dip was just OK. We’re more French Onion people than dill folks, I guess.

Ted got the special for the evening, which was a pasta dish with shrimp and sausage. He said he was about halfway down the menu and had a few items in mind that he was considering when the server came over to tell us about the specials, and once he heard that one he decided it cancelled all the other options out.

Because “pasta special” sounds less goofy than “goulash”

He really liked the pasta dish, even though he said that it was essentially goulash. He commented that he hadn’t realized the place had a bit of a Hungarian theme going on, but once he ate that and remembered things like the stuffed peppers on theh menu, it made sense. But overall he was happy, his meal was very good.

I guess all in all, Arnie’s isn’t a bad place … it just wasnt the best, either. It seems like even though the transition to this new restaurant with more seating isn’t a brand new thing, they’re still working out some of the kinks. And I know our server was new, but she was still exceptionally slow. I mean, there were three, maybe four tables total that she was handling – but it just seemed like she wasn’t getting the hang of timing for everyone.

Case in point:  when she came around asking if we wanted a third round of drinks, and we said no … she scampered away before we could ask for the checks, and then took forever to reappear to finally ask if we did, in fact, want them. No, we’d just like to sit here and stare at one another over empty glasses, please. I mean, usually being done with your meal and refusing another round of drinks is a universal sign for “we’re pretty much ready to head out, thanks.” But it was like she read some manual for how to be a server, and had time slots she had to fill for each of those questions. “OK they said no to more drinks, now avoid them and wait the appropriate 10 minutes before returning to ask if they want the check so they don’t feel rushed out.”

And the bartenders who warned us about her newness also weren’t going out of their way to help her, either. We know she put in our order for our second round of drinks, and we watched the one bartender pour said drinks … but rather than walk them over to our table (as we already mentioned, the place is pretty small so I’m fairly sure those 20 steps wouldn’t cause him to break a sweat, plus I know he saw our empty glasses lined up on the edge of our table) – he waited for her to come pick them up. All the while bartender #2 was too busy doing shots with someone who appeared to be either the owner or manager and his little group of friends at the bar to even notice us at all. Nice.

As Shane would say “John Taffer would be disappointed.”

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

Ted

Shane – trying to hide so no one saw his grade

Steph

Arnie's Standing Room Only Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 3/22/17: R Shea’s Brewery / Diamond Deli, Merriman Valley

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We’ve all been itching to try R Shea’s Brewery ever since it opened a year or so ago and we noticed the bevy of cars parked outside pretty much every evening. Always busy usually means the place probably doesn’t suck, right? Plus we know we like beer, and the few craft breweries we’ve visited in the area have been good to us. In particular we know that we love Akron’s Hoppin Frog brewery, and R Shea’s seemed like a nice alternative that wouldn’t involve a 60-minute round trip drive … 30 minutes of which always occurred after ingesting some high potency beers.

See also: reasons why things like Uber were invented.

The one caveat that held us back from trying R Shea’s this long? They didn’t serve food. Other than the occasional food truck we would see parked outside on random evenings. And that seemed to be stretching the WTGW rules just a tad.

But then we heard that they were teaming up with Diamond Deli, a decade-plus downtown Akron institution known for overstuffed sandwiches with creative names, to start serving sammies and select apps at the brewery.

Now we’re talking. Game on.

Apparently it’s a winning combo, as the place is still always busy. Every. Time. We. Drive. By. And as evidenced by our visit, when at 6:45 on a Wednesday night we managed to grab what I have to believe from my brief scan of the room was the last remaining table in the place. Which we then had to steal a chair from the bar to place on the end of just so it could hold all three of us.

If you know us, you know at that point we were already calculating how we would fit the copious amounts of food and beer we were about to order onto this tiny space. I won’t lie, it was tight. But, hey, all those years playing Tetris finally amounted to something I guess.

R Shea’s offers flights of five 6oz beers for $10 – which is a great way to try a few of the 15 or so beers on the list. In fact, we had trouble picking just five each to try. It’s also a great way to get relatively buzzed without meaning to, if you’re like us and forget that most of these beers are, well, a tad bit over the usual Bud Light alcohol percentage.

Beyond that the 13oz stouts and 16oz regular beers are just $5 for a pint, which is still extremely reasonable. And still continuing the “ways to get totally crocked without meaning to and not really discovering you are until you get up to walk to the restroom” experiment.

Not that any of us did that or anything. Just saying.

I took a picture of the beer menu since I knew I would never remember the names, much less the descriptions, of all the beers we tried. Thank you, technology.

Ignore the iPhone shadow. Photo taken for memory and not art.

Shane got the Uncommon Blonde, Orange-Mango Citra Shandy, Towpath Pale Ale, Chocolate Coffee Stout and The Elvis.

My flight started out looking just like Shane’s, with the Uncommon Blonde and Citra Shandy. But then I moved to the the Merriman Mild, Snicker Dude and Pecan Pie Milk Stout.

I actually was stuck on a decision between the Merriman Mild and the Pale Ale, but decided on the Mild because Ted told me it would have more of a coffee taste and be less bitter. Fortunately for him he was right.

Not surprisingly, Ted ignored the lighter beers completely and started off with the Shea’s Irish Red, and then the Belgian Quadrupel, Snicker Dude, The Elvis and Pecan Pie Milk Stout.

My flight at the bottom, Shane’s at the left and Ted’s at the top

So we had some crossover, but we each also got at least one that no one else tried. This is why we’re friends.

Ted told us the proper way to taste a flight is to start with the lightest first and move to the darker ones next. Something to do with the flavor and boldness, and saving the heavier ones for last so as not to ruin your palate.

Taking his words to heart, Shane and I proceeded to take a sip out of each of our five beers at first just to try them. We then worked oppositely – Shane drank the ones he liked best first, while I saved the ones I liked best for last.

Clearly we’re good students.

You’ll probably find this hard to believe, but we all agreed that ALL of the beers we tried were good. I know that sounds like a joke – I mean, come on, we each tried five new beers and there wasn’t ONE any of us wanted to spit out? Honestly, no. Of course we all had our preferences and favorites out of our tasters, but there wasn’t one anyone tried that earned a wrinkled nose and a group search for a drain to pour the glass out into instead of downing it.

Even the darker beers were winners in our books – and “Mr. Bud Light” and I usually don’t go that route. Shane’s favorite was actually not one that he got on his flight, but one that he and Ted ordered full 13oz sizes of after finishing the sample sizes … the weekly rotating beer called the “Lab Rat,” (or, as Shane kept calling it by the end of the evening, the “Family Rodent” – whatevs) which this week was a stout with flavors of chocolate, coconut and lemongrass. It was very smooth, not heavy or bitter at all.

Who knew lemongrass and coconut made a good beer match?

Needless to say, Ted was quite proud.

Ted: A guy who usually orders a Bud Light just enjoyed a stout. This is a great day.

He was less impressed with me, as my faves were the Blonde and the Shandy. Old habits die hard, sorry. I mean, the darker ones were good – and those are not words that come out of my mouth often with regards to craft beers, so that means something. The flavors were unique. But I’m just not sure I could’ve ordered a full 13 oz glass of any one of them. The sample size glasses were perfect for me.

Ted loved the Snicker Dude the best, followed closely by the Elvis. I sampled The Elvis from his flight (I didn’t order it on mine) and it was pretty tasty. I was kind of wishing I’d picked that over my Snicker Dude. But once again I was suckered in by the promising description (cinnamon! sugar! tastes like a cookie!).

I swear the people who write beer descriptions are right up there with meteorologists on the list of jobs that can be wrong 97.5% of the time and yet remain employed.

Because we had such a large table, of course we decided appetizers were in order. Ted got hummus, which came with veggies and pita. He didn’t say much about it – but he finished it, so that must count for something.

I also forgot to take a picture of it, but really, you’ve all seen hummus and vegetables before, so I think we’re OK there. Chill.

Shane and I ordered the pretzels with beer cheese dip, which I have to believe arrived at our table directly via teleportation from the oven, because I think I gave myself second degree burns just trying to pick one up. But it was worth it, because they were delicious. The cheese dip wasn’t as flavorful as I would’ve thought, especially since it’s made with beer from the brewery, but that’s OK because the pretzels alone were tasty enough.

My heaven is filled with hot soft pretzels. Don’t judge.

And it’s a good thing we ordered that appetizer, because it may have saved us from starvation … or, OK, on a less dramatic note, at least utter alcoholic obliteration … while we waited for our actual meals to arrive.

Ted’s sandwich arrived first. He got the “Chad’s Wait Til You Hear This Story” – which if it’s not obvious from the name is corned beef, pastrami, Swiss and spicy mustard on rye.

I mean, you knew that, right? Come on.

You have no idea how long we all stared at this sandwich

And then we waited for our other two sandwiches. My Italian Sub (pretty self explanatory) …

The “I don’t have a real name” Italian sub

and Shane’s Boxty (basically a reuben on a potato pancake).

You definitely need a fork for this one

Maybe it’s because we ordered boring sandwiches without fun names, but somehow mine and Shane’s orders seemed to get lost somewhere. We didn’t really notice it at first – I mean, we were drinking new flavored beers, first of all, so food wasn’t exactly top of mind. And truthfully we were kind of grateful for the chance to finish our apps and move some glasses around before more plates arrived on our itty bitty table.

But like 15 minutes later, we started to think they really had forgotten us. And that finally Ted was getting redemption for last week, when the server clearly hated him. So we asked one of the servers, and sure enough our two tickets had gotten lost. I give R Shea’s a ton of credit – they were super nice about the whole thing, and as soon as they realized what had happened they got our orders in right away, so our food arrived very shortly after. It was truly great customer service.

If it were our server from last week be probably would’ve just blamed Ted for our missing food and walked away.

Our sandwiches were all very good. Make no mistake – the sandwiches may seem simple on paper, but they’re very well done, and enough food to definitely qualify as a meal. Each sandwich came with a small handful of chips – which I have to admit that I was mildly disappointed to see such a small pile of on my plate … until I ate my sandwich and was grateful I hadn’t eaten anything more than what I had. Truthfully I probably should’ve stopped at only eating half my sandwich, because that was filling enough. But, well, I blame the beer for clouding my judgement.

Like we’ve all never used that line before. Probably for worse things than eating half a sandwich.

R Shea’s will definitely be a place we make a return trip to. Partially because the atmosphere, food, beer and people are all great, and partially because they also tweak and add to their beer menu weekly, so while you’re sure to find a favorite on there you can also try something new each time you come in. It’s a place you could do a full meal at, or just stop in for beers and an app – and because the beers are so filling, you’ll still leave happy. The only downside is that if you come at the busiest time you may be standing around for a while awkwardly looking at people who you hope to steal the tables of once they leave … but, hey, you can still have drinks while you do that, so it’s all good in the long run, right?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

To-Go Ted

That’s Shane’s gang sign for “thumbs up times two”

WTGW 8/31/16: Bomba Rum & Tacos, Fairlawn

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OK, let’s be honest, do I even need to write a review here? I mean, this place has the words “tacos” (delicious) and “rum” (even more delicious) right in the title. Could anything be more up our alley? It’s like someone fashioned a WTGW oasis just to lure our group into its clutches. The only thing more appealing to us might be if someone opened a place just called “Cheap Wings and Beer.” I mean, really.

So it’s probably no surprise that both Shane and I had been eyeing this place up since it opened a few months back. On many occasions we’ve been in the area and almost just broke down and stopped in for dinner, but were trying to hold out to use it as a pick.

Must. Not. Break. Down.

The struggle is real, kids.Bomba Tacos and Rum, Fairlawn

Bomba is located in the old Hudson’s Restaurant space in the Montrose Center in Fairlawn. Having been to Hudson’s a few times, I can say Bomba definitely gutted the place when they moved in, as it’s barely recognizable now that it’s been redone. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, Hudson’s was OK – but I always thought parts of it needed more lighting. Like they were going for that romantic date spot, but when a few of the tables around us had like four kids with them then the darkness just kinda came off as a bit creepy. No wonder the kids are crying, they can’t see what you’re feeding them.

Anyway.

In contrast, Bomba has a great atmosphere, very open and much brighter. There was also patio seating, although we didn’t opt for that since it looked like the skies might open at any moment. And you know our luck there.

So when you’re in a place that has the word “rum” in the title, it makes perfect sense that Ted gets a beer. Because, well, Ted.

Well at least "Lagunitas" sounds Mexican, no?

Well at least “Lagunitas” sounds Mexican, no?

I mean, he did redeem himself later by switching to a mojito, but sheesh. Damage done.

I got the Tropical Mango White Sangria, which sounded delicious on the menu but ended up tasting a little less so when I actually tried it. Kinda like those deceptive beer descriptions I always want to volunteer to compose.

I should know by now not to trust descriptions

I should know by now not to trust descriptions

Jerrid got the Brazilian Red Sangria – which also sounded delicious – and he was far happier with that one than I was with mine.

Check out the size of that berry!

Check out the size of that berry!

But it was Shane who once again won the drink lottery with the Blackberry Ginger Mojito. One sip and I knew that’s what I would be switching to next. It was similar to the mules we had at Caston & Main a few weeks back. He’s on fire with his choices lately.

Winner winner chicken dinner

Winner winner chicken dinner

And for Amanda … water. Boo.

No rum for you!

No rum for you!

For appetizers, Shane and I picked the bacon wrapped jalepenos – which Shane liked but I wasn’t crazy about. I didn’t think they had much flavor. So either I got the lame pepper with no taste, or my taste buds are permanently scarred from weeks of hot wings.

That's not a hot dog. Really.

That’s not a hot dog. Really.

Jerrid and Amanda got the beef empanadas. Which, aside from just being fun to say, were tasty.

Fun to say, good to eat

Fun to say, good to eat

We also got an order of the fire-roasted salsa for the table (this is one of those “fancy” Mexican places where you have to order the chips & salsa/guac, they don’t just bring it to the table automatically) as well as the house made guac. Because it’s made fresh when you order it, they have stuff you can add in to make it your own custom mix. Our server was kind enough to suggest a few things that he usually adds to his … but we just went with plain for our first try. Because, honestly, some of the add-ins seem a bit strange. Candied pumpkin seeds? Chipotle honey? Goat cheese? We’re simple folks. Just bring us the green stuff to dip our chips in. For reals.

We like our guac non-fancy, just tasty

We like our guac non-fancy, just tasty

Speaking of chips, this might be a good time to mention that they’re also on the fancy side. The chip baskets include four different kinds of chips – yucca, plantain, malanga (five dollars to the first person who can tell me what that actually is – without googling it), and regular corn – so of course the new table game became “guess what strange toasted substance you’re using as a vehicle to get the salsa/guac into your mouth.”

Good times.

At least I’m happy to say that we chose wisely, and the plain guac was really very good. As was the salsa. And most of the chips. Although I honestly can’t tell you which ones we liked least, because, as I mentioned, I still don’t think we really knew what we were eating.

Toast and salsa?

Toast and salsa?

Moving on.

To tacos. So, remember what our table looked like last week at Cruiser’s with our little wing fest? Well, just picture that same thing for this week, but with tacos.

So the gist of this place is that basically they have a bunch of different kinds of tacos, and they’re all a la carte, so you can mix & match. They’re all like $3 or $4 each, and they recommend 2-3 per person.

And now comes the part of the review where I test my own memory and ability to take notes, since, well, let’s face it, pretty much all tacos look the same in pictures.

I got the potato chorizo, braised beef and spicy shrimp, along with a side of mango cilantro rice. The spicy shrimp was definitely my favorite, it was for reals spicy – but in a you’re-killing-your-taste-buds-for-good-reason kind of way. I thought I would like the beef the best but when it turned out that it was primarily jalepenos, I decided that wasn’t so much a winner. The rice was delicious.

That rice was a meal in itself

That rice was a meal in itself

Amanda had the blackened fish, potato chorizo and chipotle ground beef. She liked the chorizo the best. She and Jerrid also got a side of the adobo fries, which she hardly touched because the three tacos were enough to make her quite full.

Same shells, different filling

Same shells, different filling

Ted went with the blackened fish (the server highly recommended this one and said that was his favorite … can you tell?), crispy fish, smoked brisket and slow braised duck. He said the dusk was his favorite. He thought the blackened fish didn’t have much flavor (in your face, server). The other two were OK but the definite winner for him was the duck.

Ted's side dish was apparently an extra taco

Ted’s side dish was apparently an extra taco

Jerrid had blackened fish (seriously, I’m getting tired of typing that), bbq pork and smoked brisket. Agreed that the fish wasn’t the best. He liked the pork and brisket though.

They're all starting to look the same

They’re all starting to look the same

And then there’s Shane … who went the “Ted’s getting a beer” route for his meal, ordering the Smoked Brisket Torta (that’s a fancy way of saying sandwich – I only know that from reading it on the menu) with adobo fries. Or adobE fries, as he called them. Like the photoshop software. Because who doesn’t like a little lesson in filters and levels while they eat french fries. Whatevs. He said the brisket was a little dry, and he compared the bread to an English muffin. Hmm, that’s not so tasty.

That doesn't look like tacos. Where are we Shane?

That doesn’t look like tacos. Where are we Shane?

He did mention that he thought it would’ve been better with some guac on it. Because woudn’t everything really?

Overall Bomba is a fun place with great options if you’re in the mood for tacos and don’t want the cookie-cutter options at the local Mexican joint. It’s a little pricy, but the a la carte is nice so you can try different things – or get a whole bunch of the one thing you try and decide you like. They had rice bowls that looked intriguing also, I would be willing to return to try one of those at some point. The chips and salsa/guac were good – although I’m still not sold on the list of additional add-ins, but that’s just me and my somewhat uncultured taste buds, perhaps. And I’m not a fan of straight-up rum without some type of mixer, but if you’re into that kind of thing they also have a ton of flights and sampling options for you to find the one that suits you best. I could see this being a good spot for a late night snack and drinks, or maybe a midday late lunch with day drinking. Because who doesn’t love cocktails at like 2PM? I mean, other than your boss when you’re supposed to be at work … but that’s a whole other blog there I suppose …

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Amanda asked for a week off, since she just started this new job that puts her on a regular schedule and back to being with us on Wednesdays. So Ted’s up next week.

Bomba Tacos & Rum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/27/16: Caston & Main Brew Yard, Portage Lakes

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Sorry to desert you last week, but since it was a super nice night out we decided to call a patio audible and opt for a former pick that we knew had good food and a nice outdoor area to enjoy it. Because, well, summer only lasts so long around these parts, people. We have to do what we can to cherish it. Which last week meant a return visit to Delanie’s in Tallmadge, a place we’ve visited several times since our original pick … but oddly enough never tried out the patio. And let’s just say we were not disappointed.

I would’ve done a revisit post, but, well, I think we were all about halfway through our meals before I realized we hadn’t taken any photos. And I know that’s really what you all look at here anyway. Oops.

Anyway, that pushed Ted’s pick for a new spot off to this week, and he actually managed to find a place that neither me nor Shane had even heard of before. Impressive. Apparently it’s a somewhat newer place (opened last fall, I believe) in the Lakes area. In full disclosure, Ted had actually already visited Caston & Main once with another friend of his (yes, we are allowed to have other friends, shush) – but adamantly refused to try any of the food because he wanted to be able to legit pick it as a WTGW choice. Smart man.

I mean, this may seem like all fun and games here, but we do have to keep some rules. Come on.

This place is another of those that either has a deceptively small parking area, or only serves customers that don’t know the meaning of carpooling. Because looking at the packed lot you would think we would’ve had a long wait for a table … but yet when we walked inside there were about 6 or 7 large open tables. Hmm. My smart ass observation was that everyone there must’ve somehow managed to drive two cars to dinner that evening. Which is rather impressive.

So there’s a bar area when you first walk in, but neither Shane nor I really had a chance to actually see it, as Ted made a quick right and beelined it to a table in the dining area. Uh, that’s slightly out of character. Have you met us, Ted? We like bars. Dining rooms are boring. Remember Memories, anyone?

Yeah, we’re trying to forget, too.

But regardless, we knew Ted had been there before, and thought maybe he that made him privy to some special inside info about best seating practices. Yeah, no. I mean, the table was fine, the service was good, once the place started to fill in it never seemed overly packed … but, well, let’s just say that the entertainment provided in the main dining area left something to be desired. A lot of something. Like the ability to hold a regular conversation, think quietly, or ever hear some songs the same way again. I guess Wednesdays are “acoustic night” at Caston & Main … and this little one-man-band electric guitarist that was playing on this particular Wednesday was, well, perhaps deaf. And I’m not saying that so much to be mean as I am to imply that we think he really had no idea how loud his guitar playing actually was. So, like, you know when you go out to eat and there’s music, you kind of want it to be background to your conversation, right? Not this guy. It seemed like the louder everyone talked, the more he upped the volume on the amp, or made some weird screechy sounds with his guitar that I have to believe forced more than a few of my brain cells to spontaneously combust. It was like one of those “anything you can do I can do better” competitions. And the end result was something akin to attempting to maintain a dinner conversation while your neighbor hosts a tractor pull in the backyard. Because that’s way fun.

Needless to say, we relished the few breaks that were taken. And silently cursed Ted for not just picking a seat in the way opposite back corner of the bar.

So there’s that.

Another tip – be sure to bring your reading glasses. Because the beer list for this place is about four pages long. Which amounts to lots of words.

Conversely, the food list is only about two pages. We see your priorities, and we like them.

Always one for choosing a beer with a good name, Ted went with the Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro to start. Bravo. I pretty much just stuck my finger somewhere on the beer list and ended up with the Jackie O’s Razz Wheat. Which came in a really neat glass, so that was a plus.

If it has raspberry puree in it, does it make it healthy?

If it has raspberry puree in it, does it make it healthy?

Where's Amanda and her big purse when you need her?

Where’s Amanda and her big purse when you need her?

But Shane won the drink lottery with the Crabbie’s Raspberry Mule. We were a little worried about his order after our – or rather Ted’s – experience with a “mule” at Burntwood Tavern a few years ago. But looking back maybe Ted was just unfortunate enough to have had an awful bartender that evening who just threw some alcohol in a copper mug and called it a mule. Because by the end of this particular evening at C&M all three of us had switched to the drink Shane picked. Delicious.

Shane and I got the chips and dip as an app. Which did not come in a plastic Lawson’s container – boooo – but was equally as delicious. – yay! I have to think it’s one of the best we’ve tried. Shane said his only complaint was that it was a little too runny, but other than that the taste was great.

No, it didn't come served with a chip imprint in the middle of the dip. Thanks, Shane.

No, it didn’t come served with a chip imprint in the middle of the dip. Thanks, Shane.

Ted got the homemade guac with pita chips for an app. And immediately commented that no one was going to kiss him that night, as it definitely had a lot of onion in it. If it’s not garlic, it’s onion with this group. How we are all still allowed to eat in public is beyond me sometimes. Regardless, he said the guac was still good.

Props for presentation

Props for presentation

For dinner, I got the Hot Italian Sub, with a side salad. I know, I know, first fruit in my beer and now vegetables with my meal? I’m slipping here. But it was all very good. The sandwich was large, but not overwhelming (that’s what she said … oh come on, you know I couldn’t resist) and was toasted just enough to be warm but not at all burnt. Thumbs up.

I'm not sure this is allowed on Wednesdays

I’m not sure this is allowed on Wednesdays

You had me at "soft bread"

You had me at “soft bread”

The guys went with the Wednesday special, which is three sliders for $6. They have a list of options you can choose from, including reuben, BLT, chorizo sausage, meatball, veggie, and chicken salad – and you pick any three of those to make up your $6 meal. Between the two of them they sampled all of the options except one, and I’ll give you one guess as to which one that was that neither of them picked …

Hint: it starts with a “v” and ends with “that sounds too healthy.”

Instead they went all out on the meat train, with Shane ordering the rueben, meatball and chorizo, while Ted decided on the reuben, meatball and BLT. Sometimes they’re so similar it’s almost scary.

Reuben, meatball and BLT

Reuben, meatball and BLT

Reuben, meatball, and chorizo.

Reuben, meatball, and chorizo.

Ted said he liked the BLT slider the best. They both thought the rueben was good, but said it was almost too toasted – Shane claimed to have lost a layer of skin on the roof of his mouth from biting into the crispy bread. Keeping on our theme from last week, Shane also said the chorizo needs more flavor (have they made some changes to this type of meat that we should know about?), and the meatball kinda did too.

But of course they didn’t let that didn’t stop them from ordering more. I mean, come on. We all know by now that one dinner is not enough to fill up our boys.

So for the second round Shane switched out his chorizo for a BLT, and Ted switched out his reuben for a chicken salad.

Hold the phone here … um, what? Chicken salad? Seems an odd choice, right? I mean, aside from the whole bordering on healthy thing, that’s also just not a slider option you see often. Which may be why Ted ordered it. Regardless, he said it was sweeter than anticipated – thanks to raisins in the mix that surprised him – but probably should’ve had a different bread, as it was the same bread from the rueben one he was trying to avoid. Oops.

After round two, Ted was sticking with the BLT as the favorite. And after trying it for himself in that same round, Shane agreed that it was the definite winner. And that, folks, will conclude this week’s unofficial best slider competition.

All in all C&M is a cool little place, with a crapload of alcohol selections and small but definitely delicious menu. The drink list kind of reminded us of what we said about the food menu at Mike’s Place in Kent – you could come back every day for a month and still not try everything on the menu. But hey, we like options, so we’re cool with that. I will say that as far as service, once it got busy we did wait a bit longer for our server to get around to us – but that’s to be expected anywhere they only have one or two people covering the space. Overall I could see us going back.

Well, as long as that guitar guy isn’t there anyway. Can someone new please volunteer to be the entertainment? Maybe Shane could just do this strange little interpretive dance he was doing in the parking lot as we were leaving. We’ll call this “the Mexican Jumping Bean.” I’m just going to leave these right here …

Take one

Take one

Take two

Take two

Take three

Take three

Take four

Take four

Are you laughing yet?

Are you laughing yet?

Is it over?

Take seven billion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final verdict:
Two double thumbs up, and one one up/one down

Shane

Shane

Ted. The thumbs up is for the place and food. The thumbs down is for the music.

Ted. The thumbs up is for the place and food. The thumbs down is for the music.

Steph ... and creepy background Shane. At least he stopped jumping.

Steph … and creepy background Shane. At least he stopped jumping.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

WTGW 6/22/16: The Twisted Olive, Green

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Wait, what’s this? A new post? Don’t lie, I know you missed us. And trust me, we’ve missed you. But unfortunately work commitments, travel, and some unexpected health complications kept us from our usual Wednesday night shenanigans these past – wait, WTF, has it really been three straight months now? Holy crap. OK, we’re officially slackers. 

Honestly, we have gotten together on a few Wednesdays these past months – because, you know, we like to eat and drink, and that’s a long time to not leave our houses. But for whatever reason we ended up forsaking new places for the comfort and ease of old favorites like Panini’s or Moe’s. Because sometimes you just need to go someplace close to home where you know you can get cold drinks and good food, and not drive an hour out of your way to take chances.

So basically we just spent three months completely negating the entire premise of this blog. Our bad.

That also means that the wheel has been stuck on Ted’s pick this entire time. And he’s had it in his head that he wanted to choose The Twisted Olive in Green as his next pick. Which is like 30 minutes from our house. And some of those Wednesdays that was just too far to drive after part of the group got out of work late, or weren’t feeling the greatest. As it was we had to go just as a threesome tonight – no Amanda or Jared – because, well, basically in the forseeable future unless the place is close to Amanda’s workplace of Hudson, she probably won’t make it out to meet us with the way her new work schedule is. Boo.

Being an adult is crap, kids. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

So anyway, back to tonight, as the three of us were contemplating driving over to Kent to visit a former pick with a nice patio, I commented that if we were going to go all the way over there, why not drive the same distance and get back to our original plan of trying new places – especially when one of the reasons Ted wanted to visit this one was for the patio?

Point taken.

So that’s the long-winded story of how Shane, Ted and I ended up here tonight. And I have to be honest, the patio was definitely worth the wait.

Although waiting was exactly what we had to do for a patio seat once we got there – but judging from the number of cars we saw in the parking lot on our way in, we actually weren’t overly surprised. I think we were more surprised that the wait was only like 15 minutes. So we sat in the lobby for a few minutes, which gave us time to look around and notice that the place is really huge. And everything decorating it is huge. Huge fireplace. Huge lighting fixtures in the main dining room. Huge patio outside the doors. It’s like the place was decorated by the design firm Giants ‘R Us.

And when we got bored sitting in the lobby (which, let’s be honest, took all of about 2.5 seconds), we followed the huge “BAR” sign with an arrow down the huge curved staircase to get a few drinks to pass the time. Side note, the bar area really could’ve been included on that whole “huge” memo, as it’s a little crowded and difficult to order from when there’s people sitting at most of the seats. Also, the bartender didn’t seem especially helpful or friendly, which is always super fun. But whatevs.

Impressed with the various Bloody Marys on the menu, Shane decided to try the Citrus version. I went with a Mojito – which Ted ordered for me because he just thought the word was fun – and Ted got a beer called Siberian Night, which – surprise, surprise – was the color of, well, complete darkness.

Ted: Yep, I can’t see through it, that’s a good thing.

At least we haven’t changed much these past three months.

We were still working on those drinks when we got a text a few minutes later that our table was ready. And also to close out our bar tabs before returning to the hostess stand. Nice touch.

(And on a side note, thank you to this place for doing away with the annoying buzz-and-light-contraptions that most restaurants use. They always reminded me of that stupid Simon Says light-up memory game from the 80s.)

Anyway, we headed to our table on the patio – which, as I already mentioned, was spectacular. It’s a great atmosphere, and the view is amazing. According to the little story on the menu, the restaurant is situated on a 10-acre nature preserve, and is actually affiliated with Gervasi Vineyards in Canton.

See, I pay attention sometimes.

So, being that we’re predictable folks and haven’t changed our ways in the last three months, care to take a guess at what Shane ordered off the appetizer menu?

If you guessed calamari, you’re correct! Ding, ding, ding!

Perhaps because there were no mussels on the app menu, Ted went way off the predictable path and ordered the Italian flatbread. He requested no olives on it, and the server mentioned that everyone seemed to be requesting it that way this evening.

Ted: Seems odd at a place called The Twisted Olive, no?

Touche.

The calamari was OK. The sauce that came with it – which I’m going to guess from the color involved some portioning of wasabi – had a nice little kick to it. But other than that there was really nothing special or different about the dish to distinguish it from any other place we’ve had it before. And it certainly didn’t appear to be a very generous helping when the plate arrived at the table. I think this was Shane’s first reminder that we were at one of the “fancier” WTGW picks on our list, and presentation would trump portion sizes.

That's like an appetizer for Shane's usual appetizer

That’s like an appetizer for Shane’s usual appetizer

The flatbread was really crispy and really good. I said it was like eating one layer of a mexican pizza. Ted made a comment about the sausage on it that I won’t repeat, nor will I repeat Shane’s comment back – but I’m sure if you’ve read any of our reviews before you can figure out where that’s all headed. Yes, we’re still 15.

This isn't Taco Bell

This isn’t Taco Bell

Perhaps that’s why for the next round of drinks Shane and Ted decided to switch things up and both ordered the “Manly Mary” Bloody Mary – which involved horseradish, tobasco and a bunch of other ingredients that only hinted at how hot it probably was. They were surprised to see it also included a slice of bacon as a garnish as well. Not upset, just surprised. And since Shane was still hungry following the tiny portion of calamari, I can assume he was probably also grateful.

Ted and I both flipped on our original dinner orders and got the Ahi tuna steak that was on special that night. We were both wavering on our decision – we were both intrigued when the server mentioned she had tried it and it was delicious – but Ted’s turning point came when he gave the server his original order of the crab cake sliders, and the server mentioned that you only get two sliders and they were kind of small. You could see Ted’s face fall at that statement. And he quickly changed his mind and went with the Ahi tuna.

Now I had the opposite problem, as I was going to get a pizza, but saw one delivered to the table next to us and that then basically three people ended up sharing it … and realized that would be way too much food for me.

We’re like the Goldilocks of food ordering.

I will say, though, that neither one of us was disappointed in the Ahi tuna. It was tasty, as were the potatoes and bok choi/carrots that came with it. The server had mentioned that it’s always prepared rare, which was delicious. And while it didn’t look like a lot of food on the plate, I was definitely full. Ted said he wasn’t completely full, but he definitely wasn’t hungry either. I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

WTGW gets fancy

WTGW gets fancy

Shane, on the other hand … well, let’s just say that out of any of us at the table, he should’ve ordered the pizza. He actually had thought about it, but then talked himself out of it, as he’d already eaten pizza for dinner two of the last three nights. But if you’ve kept up on this blog you’ll know that really shouldn’t have stopped him, as pizza is one of his favorite foods. I mean, anyone recall the half sheet pizza incident? Right.

But he also loves scallops, and since we don’t often go out on WTGW to places that serve those, he opted for that as his meal. And then was instantly disappointed as soon as his plate was set in front of him. His comment after the server left was that he was waiting for someone else to walk up and bring him his main course instead of the appetizer portion.

We obviously don’t go to fancy places much, folks. Grease and heart attacks on plates are more our style.

Now, he did say that the scallops were good. But just not at all filling. Because you only get like five. He also said they went a little crazy with all the “stuff” on top of the scallops – I don’t know what that “stuff” was, that’s just what he called it. “Stuff.” So basically overall everything was very good, there just wasn’t enough of it. I have to believe he would’ve traded all the “fancy” in exchange for just more basic scallops.

Why is there so much white space on this plate?

Why is there so much white space on this plate?

So I guess the tip is, someone order the pizza. Chances are someone at the table will still be hungry enough to finish it if you can’t. If I would’ve then I probably could’ve given my leftovers to Shane. And he would’ve been happier.

Although the server did mention that if you come for lunch the pizza is cheaper and more sized for one person, so that’s also something to keep in mind. Same pizza, just more manageable for one person (whose name isn’t Shane anyway). Not sure what exactly cheaper means, but the dinner portions are $14-$17, just to give you an idea.

Another tip, eat the bread and butter they bring to the table. Delicious.

Little pockets of heaven

Little pockets of heaven

This was definitely one of our pricier WTGW adventures – but then again this was far from a dive bar with food that comes from a fryer. They do have reasonably priced sandwiches on the menu ($11-$14) and also bottled domestic beers for $3-$5 each – but of course we went all out with mixed drinks, apps, and actual meal choices. I mean, it has been three months, y’all. Come on.

But by comparison, for the price of one of our meals at The Twisted Olive we could’ve gone to The Windsor Pub and gotten three giant burgers, fries and pretty much an entire bottle of rum contained within three mixed drinks. But we also would’ve been sitting in a booth with ripped plastic seats and no windows to look out of. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. Just giving it some perspective.

Anyway, I could definitely see us coming back here for a bottle of wine and apps on the patio, as it’s a great atmosphere for that and we definitely had a wonderful summer night to be out there. Service was great, the food was delicious (if only there was more of it) and the patio is most certainly a huge selling point. We’re definitely glad to be back to WTGW adventures, though, and this was a great way to start … even if we did miss our two other partners in crime …

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks: Mixed drinks were good, and the guys were of course wowed by the various Bloody Mary options. Saw several folks with martinis but I opted not to go down that road.
Food: This is a “fancy” food place – so be prepared for smaller portions that are more about presentation than volume.
Service: Personable, funny and quick – three of our favorite things.
Overall: This is one of those places I could see us going back to for a special occasion dinner, or just to have a glass of wine on the patio on a summer night. As long as we feed Shane elsewhere beforehand.

Next Pick: Shane

The Twisted Olive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 1/13/16: BJ’s Brewhouse, Fairlawn

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You know we’ve hit a lot of restaurants in the area when we see one being built and in the back of our minds we’re all kind of thinking about whose pick is going to line up with the week of the opening. BJ’s Brewhouse is a fairly recent addition to the Fairlawn food landscape, located in the southeastern corner of the Summit Mall parking lot. Construction began around the middle of the summer, I think, and then all of a sudden, bam, it was open. I know Shane and I were invited to meet another couple there a few months back, which must’ve been right after the opening because the wait was like, two hours, on a Saturday night. Um, no thanks. I mean, you’d think there were absolutely no other places to eat within a 10 mile radius or something. Please.

So anyway, fast forward to this week, when we think the hype may have died down a little, and Amanda announces this is her WTGW pick. When I texted Ted to tell him the news, his response was “well, dammit. that was going to be my next pick.” So I’m thinking we can all assume that at least some of Ted’s Google searches for the next week will involve area restaurants. Just some. *wink, wink*

And either the good word of mouth is spreading about BJ’s (can we all just talk for a minute about how places need to stop choosing this horrible name for their establishments?) or there are still a number of people in the Summit County area who haven’t tried it yet and were, like us, waiting for the first wave of patrons to cycle through (overachievers) … because even with going on a Wednesday late evening there was still a wait for a table. Only about 20 minutes, but still. Impressive. Amanda and Jerrid were the first to arrive, so they got to be the lucky ones to wait – but, hey, with a place that has the word “brewhouse” in the title it’s not hard to find a way to occupy that amount of time, right?

Anyway.

So we’re seated, and the first thing we notice is that the menus weigh about six pounds each. And, just like last week, flipping through them is similar to reading a short story. While I appreciate the variety, sometimes maybe you can find the few things you want to specialize in and just stick to that, no? Or at least a certain nationality of food? I mean, it’s like you kind of have to just narrow it down to the basic type of food you think you might want and then just stare at those 2-3 pages until you decide on the actual item to order. Because one more flip, and before you know it you’re back on the winding road of delicious sounding food options.

At least the drinks were a tad bit easier for us. BJ’s (seriously, I giggle every time I type that) brews their own beers, but they do also offer a pretty impressive selection of other domestic and craft beers as well.

So, you know, it makes perfect sense that Shane and Amanda both chose Miller Lite.

Ted, Jerrid and I were a bit more adventurous. I got the Hefeweizen (which I’ve found to be my “go to” pretty much any place that offers it), Ted got the house made IPA, and while Jerrid didn’t go with one the house made beers he still went with a craft, the Magic Hat #9.

And I think this is the first time in months we’ve all ordered beer. WTF?

Ted ordered the wings for an appetizer, while Shane pretended to not know what he wanted until I mentioned they had calamari. Surprise!

Because we never order this

Because we never order this

Or this

Or this

Both apps were good. We all agreed that we really liked the aioli sauce that came with the calamari. And Ted called the calamari “tender.” Which he later clarified as “not over cooked.” Just in case we were confused that it may have been emotionally fragile or something like that instead. The wings were a siracha dry rub. They were kind of sweet and kind of spicy, with enough flavor to give them a kick without being so hot that you need a bucket of water to wash down every bite.

And good thing, too, because asking for water with our server was somewhat like asking a cat to, well, do whatever it is you want a cat to do. Shane asked three times for a glass of water – and despite taking our alcohol orders, bringing those drinks, bringing the apps … and asking each time what else we needed (to which Shane responded “a glass of water would be great”) – she still didn’t bring it.

Then Jerrid casually mentions “hey, can we get a couple of waters here?” … and suddenly like seven glasses appear at our table.

Is anyone thirsty? I'm parched.

Is anyone thirsty? I’m parched.

Clearly this time Jerrid was the magic name in our group, not Shane. Payback for the Rush Hour Grille incident maybe?

For meals, Amanda and I ordered off the “light menu” – she got the seared ahi salad and I had the blackened barbacoa chicken. Amanda said the salad was so tasty, she would almost order another one to take home. She particularly mentioned the dressing as being really good, and although the tuna could’ve used a bit more seasoning on it, it it was overall a really delicious meal. And it was enough to be filling – something that doesn’t always happen with those tricky “light” menu items  (I mean, really, just because we’re trying to eat healthier and lose weight doesn’t mean we want to starve, am I right?) – but she didn’t feel stuffed.

Healthy eating can be pretty

Healthy eating can be pretty

Mine was also really good, and filling as well. It was a bit on the spicy side … but thankfully we had a crap ton of water if I’d needed it, so crisis averted there.

It's strange to not see fries on this plate

It’s strange to not see fries on this plate

Ted got the ribeye steak with asparagus and rice pilaf. He said, and I quote ” the asparagus was good, rice was good, steak was … good.” Hmm, seems like there’s some hesitation there perhaps? But he said if he had to rate it, all in all he would give it a solid 7 out of 10. He said he had actually been deciding between like three different things on the menu (and, I mean, with that menu that’s totally understandable) – so he would definitely come back to try something else. Particularly the crispy jaelepeno burger, that’s the next thing on his list.

That's a nutritious looking meal. And a sharp looking knife.

That’s a nutritious looking meal. And a sharp looking knife.

In case we weren’t all sick of their continuing antics yet, Shane and Jerrid kept the bromance alive and actually split a dinner. Really guys? People are going to talk. In any case, they shared probably one of the most typically non-shared foods, a full rack of ribs, paired with a very easily shared food, the medium BJ’s special pizza (and again, see what I mean about the name? That just isn’t good marketing). Jerrid said his food was good, although Shane likened the pizza to that which you get at Pizza Hut. They also weren’t a huge fan of the ribs, which they said were just average.

Hi, Pizza Hut? We found one of your pizzas here.

Hi, Pizza Hut? We found one of your pizzas here.

There's a rack of ribs under those fries somwhere

There’s a rack of ribs under those fries somewhere

Although maybe Shane just was too watered down at that point to taste anything, what with the 18 glasses of water and all?

I have to say, our server was definitely not the most personable. Or loud. And that’s a bit of a problem, since the place is actually pretty loud inside, thanks to the openness and the high ceilings and all. So half the time I wasn’t sure if she was actually talking to us or just mumbling under her breath about something. Maybe about the high cost of tap water and how wasteful patrons like us insist on asking for it? Who knows.

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane (he must be water-drunk?)

Shane (he must be water-drunk?)

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  The house brewed beers are good, with an impressive variety. I’d be willing to try a few more on the list just to see what else they have to offer. But I guess being a “brewhouse” means the water tap is selectively broken. This is one WTGW where it didn’t pay to be named Shane for once. 
Food:
Not a bad selection – they offer anything from pizza to sandwiches to salads and lighter fare. And you’ll be extra hungry after you get done reading the short novel that is the menu.
Service: As long as you aren’t craving water – or a personality of some kind – it’s not bad.
Overall: This place was pretty much middle of the road for the entire group. It wasn’t horrible by any means, and I think we would go again if we happened to be in the area. But if we get the same server again I think Shane may sneak in his own flask of water.

Next Pick: Ted

WTGW 12/30/15: The Mason Jar, Aurora

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Our last WTGW of 2015 takes us to a place that definitely has potential … with a little work. And by work we really mean workers.

These are the fun ones, my friends.

So, The Mason Jar is located right on one of the main roads in Aurora, and the first thing we noticed is that they need way more parking. Especially since they share a lot with a building that seems to host all sorts of fitness classes – which, can we just talk about that little ploy for a second? Either it’s an unfortunate lease on the side of Mason Jar, or brilliance on the side of the fitness place – because nothing says “yes, let’s go eat huge burgers and heavy appetizers” like seeing people getting fit on the other side of a very large window. Especially during an already precarious time of holiday food shaming.

Thanks, ladies in the window doing Zumba or Jazzercise or whatever the hell it was you were doing. You’re awesome.

Anyway.

So once you avert your eyes, shove down the shame and get inside, the place is actually pretty cute. And by cute I mean it’s got charm, but not a lot of space to show it off. Great decor, definitely potential for a great atmosphere and gathering place … for about 10 of your closest friends anyway. It seems like there are only really a few tables, and especially when groups larger than four come in that really fills up the place in a rather hot second. Like when the party of eight arrived and claimed the only big high top table that would fit all of them … and then a party of two other complete strangers to that group had to try and sit at the two open seats at the end of said big table without seeming like awkward, creepy eavesdroppers.

Good times.

Although we had to admit by the end of the evening that it was probably a blessing that the place wasn’t bigger or had more tables, since the wait staff seemed severely overwhelmed with just the ones they did have. And here we have our group’s biggest complaint about The Mason Jar … the service is SUPER slow. Like slower than molasses slow. Like slower than a race between one-legged turtles slow.

Like order a drink and wait for it for the next 20 minutes slow. *gasp* THE HORROR!

And let’s not pretend that it took the bartender that long to make the drink because it was super complex, or that everyone in the place rushed the bar with orders, or that it was new bartender day and the person was all Tom Cruise in Cocktail when he first starts bartending and can’t make a martini. OK, part of it was that there was only one bartender, and she also had to serve some of the tables in the place. But honestly, even so, we could’ve walked over and picked the drinks up off the end of the bar, where they were just chilling out for about 15 of those 20 minutes, waiting for our server to notice them and deliver them to the table.

Amanda and Ted were actually the smart ones, ordering beer right from the start. Easier to pour = the server can actually just hang out and wait for the few seconds it takes to get the liquid in the glass. Done.

Shane and I win the idiot awards for the week, as we decided to choose from the “specialty drink menu” (i.e., a nice way of saying “girly drinks”). We both started with Hazy Mojitos. Which, once we received them, were deemed really tasty … and as such, we determined that they were served in way too small of a glass for the amount of time it takes to actually drink them. I mean, we sucked them down in less time than we waited for them to arrive. And then waited for the server to notice the empty glasses and ask if we wanted more.

And waited.

And waited.

Looks pretty ... until it disappears two seconds later

Looks pretty … until it disappears two seconds later

Meanwhile, Ted had put in and order of Diablo Mussels for an app when we put in our drink orders. Shane and I were going to put in an app order also, but the server ran away before we could make a snap decision on what we wanted. Like literally ran away.

That was the only time she seemed to move quickly with regards to our table all night. Just sayin’.

Needless to say, Ted’s app was pretty much on it’s way to the table before we even got the chance to put our order in for the appetizer portion of Mason Fries. Because that’s helpful.

So anyway, the mussels come out, and they’re served covered in some sort of spicy marinara sauce. OK, interesting. We all agreed we’d never seen that presentation before on that particular dish, but whatever.

Ted, upon trying it: I take that back, it’s a spicy pepper sauce, not marinara.

Well still, it’s different.

I wasn’t particularly crazy about it over the mussels. I think we all agreed that the mussels were good, the sauce was good … but they should be served separately. Like maybe over pasta, that sauce would be fantastic. Or pasta with the mussels de-shelled and mixed in. Or basically any  combination that was not how it arrived at our table that evening.

If that was pasta we might've been happier

If that was pasta we might’ve been happier

So the specialty at Mason jar is stuffed burgers. And of course that’s what 3/4 of the table got. Amanda had the Greenman (essentially her usual mushroom and swiss – just with the toppings inside the burger instead of on top), Capri for me (fresh mozzerella, spinach and tomato inside), Smokehouse for Shane (BBQ fillings).

Ted, back to his trend of having to be the different one in the group, went with the Jumbalaya. Showoff. 

Meanwhile … we’re still waiting for round two on the drinks. Due to the small aforementioned small amount of tasty liquor in tiny glasses that take too long to arrive, Shane and I decided to switch it up – he went with the Long Island, which is on special on Wednesdays for $4.00. I asked if perhaps the Mojito could just be served in a bigger glass – like make it a double and just charge me appropriately? Yeah, no, that can’t happen. Although it took, like, 10 minutes for her to find out. And then there was a debacle about cancelling the order for the Mojito  (when really I thought hadn’t actually ordered that drink, I’d asked if it could be made in a bigger glass?) – so Ted just said to leave the drink and charge it to his bill, he would take it. Which still caused confusion about how she was going to change it around to add to his bill.

Really? Is this day one?

Ted, after she left: I don’t even want that drink, I just figured it was easier to keep it somewhere on one of our bills.

We agreed that we would just put it in the center of the table as a “gimme” for whoever finished the next round of drinks first and needed refreshment. Kind of like a twisted form of alcoholic Russian Roulette.

Meanwhile, this exchange occurs:
Server, to Shane, for the third time: What was it you ordered to drink, sweetie?

I had to respond “Long Island” for him for fear that his head would explode if he opened his mouth.

I switched to a Fat Tire beer, because, well, it was just easier. And as I suspected, it arrived to the table long before Shane’s Long Island – which he had ordered long before I did.

Ironically, that drink-that-no-one-wanted-but-Ted-still-kept-on-his-bill-to-help-the-server-not-fall-apart also still came out a full 10 minutes before the Long Island Shane tried ordering three times. Hmm.

Obviously, we have some issues to work out here, ya think?

Anyway.

On to the best part of our visit – our actual meals. Once they actually arrived, that is.

Ted’s jumbalaya was very good. It was served over bowtie pasta instead of rice, which he said was a nice change actually. The peppers in it gave it really good heat. He also liked that it had lots of different meats in it – chicken, shrimp, and sausage. And we all know how the guys in this group revert to caveman status when faced with meat on a plate.

Odd man out. And there's that pasta we were looking for earlier.

Odd man out. And there’s that pasta we were looking for earlier.

Amanda raved about the seasoning on the burgers, saying that alone put the burger in her “top five.” Ted tried a bit of it and immediately said it was Cajun seasoning. Amanda said she didn’t care what it was, it was good. So there.

You can't see the seasoning here, but trust us it's good

You can’t see the seasoning here, but trust us it’s good

Although can we just take a minute to ponder that it’s kind of strange to be raving about what’s ON the burgers instead of what’s IN them … when the restaurant specialty is stuffed burgers? No? Well, whatevs.

I agreed, though, the seasoning was good. And actually much better than the stuffing, at least in my case. I took the burger off of the bun after eating half of it – as I often do, it’s a thing, get over it – and the bunless half kind of dried up and lost it’s stuffing. Huh. I mean, it might’ve just been the particular kind of burger that I chose – fresh mozzerella and spinach don’t exactly like to stay put when not melted, I guess. But anyway.

This looks healthier than it really is

This looks healthier than it really is

Along that same lines, I was somewhat intrigued by the burger with mac and cheese in the middle. If that has the same issues, there’s something wrong.

Remember that app we ordered – the mason fries? Yeah, well, the kitchen eventually did, too – so we got it pretty much at the same time as our meals. We weren’t really impressed, though. I mean, it seemed like just regular fries with a bit of bacon and scallops on them. And a tiny drizzle of cheese. Underwhelming.

Kind of like regular fries, but different

Kind of like regular fries, but different

Hey, guess what? Shane’s drink finally arrived! Yay!

Shane didn’t say much about his burger, other than that it was good. He was too upset about the service to really talk much at that point. Or maybe his mouth was just too dry from going so long without a drink.

Hope those fries aren't too salty, what with the lack of beverages and all

Hope those fries aren’t too salty, what with the lack of beverages and all

Ted, after Shane finished his Long Island and was slurping the watery bits at the bottom for some regreshment: Did you want another?
Shane: No, I’d like to get home before midnight.

So all in all – and as if you couldn’t already tell – our main gripe about the place was the service, which was even more underwhelming than the mason fries.  The food definitely is good, and the place has strong potential – if they would just have more than one server and one bartender/extremely chatty server working.  I mean, come on, let’s be honest here … you’ve read about our shenanigans long enough now to know that we’re drinkers. We would’ve spent way more money here if we would’ve gotten drinks in a timely fashion. How often do we go somewhere and only have one or two rounds of drinks? Exactly. I think we could’ve driven ourselves down to the nearest corner store (hint, there’s not one anywhere remotely close by) and come back with a 12-pack in less time than it took to have one round of our two specialty drinks delivered to the table. I have to believe at the end of every night there are still like four drinks just hanging out at the end of the bar that were made but never quite made it to their rightful owners. Maybe Shane can go back next week and pick up that final Long Island, drive-thru style. That might be the only thing that could redeem this place for him.

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane, not one for mincing emotions

Shane, not one for mincing emotions

Ted

Ted

Same rating, different hand. Just testing.

Same rating, different hand. Just testing.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  When you finally get them, they’re good. But don’t come thirsty, because the bar is apparently located about a two mile walk away for the amount of time it took to get each drink. And then when you do get your drink, enjoy it slowly. Or order five at once. Your call.
Food:
Very good. In fact, the only good thing we took away from this place. But again, don’t come hungry, because nothing is arriving at your table quickly.
Service: If you like repeating your drink order several times and practically chasing down servers to put in appetizer orders then this is the place for you. If you like good service, then best to look elsewhere.
Overall: Yeah, sorry, the service lost this one for us. Can we just show up and make our own food and drinks with the stuff provided? That may be the best way to win us back.

Next Pick: Steph
Mason Jar Grill & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato