WTGW 5/2/18: REVISIT – The Twisted Olive, Green

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When Northeast Ohio graces you with a summerlike evening in early May – bonus points for it being on a Wednesday – you go in search of the best patio you can think of first and ask questions later.

Well, I mean, OK, yes – we did ask one question, which was, of course, “which one should we go to.” As cool as it would be, we all didn’t just look at each other and telepathically infer one particular patio we should visit. Although I think that approach might’ve been easier than us attempting to remember the best area patios in the ten minutes before we walked out the door. Crazy how we can visit so many restaurants, but ask us for a recommendation for a specific type of place – because, I mean, you would think a group of people who go out every week to different places would be good folks to know these types of things – but instead suddenly our memories empty and we become deer in headlights.

Try it the next time you see us.

In any case, Ted finally stepped up to the plate and decided on a revisit to The Twisted Olive – which we all agree does have one of the best patios in the area, albeit a little fancier fare than our usual WTGW options. And it’s been a hot minute – or I guess really about two years worth of hot minutes – since our last visit so it was definitely worth another try.

We requested patio seating when we arrived (duh), and ended up on the downstairs patio this time round, as the hostesses mentioned that the upstairs one “wasn’t full,” but that the server was “a bit overwhelmed.” Um, OK. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but if it means we’ll get better service on a different patio then I’m all for it.

By the end of the night I think we all agreed that hadn’t exactly been the case, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Also, side note – does a place really need three hostesses for a Wednesday night? I mean, I get a weekend. And sure, it was probably a bit busier than usual with the summery weather. But three? Seems maybe the extra person might’ve been better served assisting the overwhelmed server on the upstairs patio, but what do we know.

Anyway.

Turns out that the downstairs patio doesn’t have quite the view of its upstairs sibling. I mean, for one, it’s not elevated at all – so instead of being able to overlook the water and nature area that are behind the restaurant, you kind of just get a lateral view of it. And, spoiler alert, it’s not all that enticing. It’s kind of like having dinner at that friend’s house who has a really nice backyard.

And then also because, well, its literally beneath the upper patio. So instead of truly dining outside, it was more like we just kind of ended up hanging out in an Italian garage. Awesome.

Although mental note to keep this option in mind for those evenings when the temperature is decent and you’d really love to sit outside, but are deterred thanks to the threat of a random passing rain shower.

So there’s that.

We remembered The Twisted Olive being on the fancier end of things from the last time we visited – which we all know equates to lesser amounts of food arriving on your plate in a fancifully arranged way. So as we were looking over the menu I pulled up the post from our 2016 visit to take a look at what we’d ordered last time around.

Shane, moments before I read to him what he ordered at that visit: Oh, scallops, those look delicious.
Me, reading from the 2016 post: “… 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.”
Shane: So maybe pizza then.

This blog clearly exists if for nothing else than to remind us of our previous dining mistakes.

While we waited on the jury to reconvene in the matter of our main meals, we of course opted for appetizers. Because, well, us. I mean, really. Like any explanation is needed.

Ted got the hummus. He said it was just OK. Probably because it came with salsa mixed in – which some might consider a bonus, but Ted clearly did not. I didn’t try it, but I agreed that it did seem to be a strange pairing. Also, a little warning next time maybe? But the veggies and chips were tasty.

Why is the hummus hiding behind salsa?

Cassi went with the calamari, which Shane had of course ordered on our last visit (surprise!) and seemed to be OK with. However, after careful consideration this time around we all agreed that the dish now seemed to have a special ingredient not mentioned on the menu … pine needles. Sounds weird, I know, but go ahead and order it, take one bite, and tell us we’re wrong about this. I dare you.

Maybe someone just rubbed an air freshener over it

Maybe we shouldn’t have said last time that it “there was really nothing special or different about the dish to distinguish it from any other place we’ve had it before.” I feel like the chef took that as a personal challenge to come up with something we definitely would remember. Too far, chef guy. Too far.

Shane and I won the app lottery with the loaded chips, though. No hidden pine needles or salsa in this dish. Just the right amount of delicious toppings.

There are chips under there, we swear

We also remembered from our last visit that the basket of complimentary rolls set on the table with the appetizers were one of our favorite things about The Twisted Olive. Too bad this time they rolled them in chicken wing grease and coasted them in finely diced onions before serving them.

I kid. They were exactly the same as the last visit. Thank god they didn’t go the “calamari challenge” route on those, or else I think Ted, Shane and I would’ve legit cried when we tried them. I think we all had like four each.

We may or may not have had two more baskets of these. Don’t judge.

For his meal, Ted got the Apple and Fig side salad to go with his crab cake sliders. He had the salad come out ahead of the sandwich. Or at least we think that’s what happened. We saw the server set it down, but then before I could pick up my camera to get a photo of it, it seemed to mysteriously disappear.

Perhaps they should’ve called it the “so good you’ll devour it in two minutes flat” salad

Clearly he hated it.

About two seconds after this photo he also used a piece of bread to clean all of the dressing remnants off the plate, which left it looking like it went through the dishwasher. I think the server was slightly surprised when he came around to collect plates and found a shiny clean one sitting in front of Ted.

Ted commented that he could order the full sized salad and have it be a filling meal. He also said he wasn’t exactly sure what all was in the dish, but it was good. So good, in fact, that he didn’t even take a sip of beer until the salad was gone. Which we all know is not how things operate in our group.

Shane: Something wrong with your beer there, buddy?

And then by the time his crab cake sliders arrived – which Ted had passed up on our last visit because they sounded like they would be too small and not filling enough – he said he was almost too full from his hummus salsa and salad to eat them. Seriously, what is happening here? What parallel universe are we living in where Ted leaves most of the fries on his plate and barely manages to eat two mini-sandwiches?

That wouldn’t be enough food without the other two courses already consumed

It’s like we hardly know this new person.

Cassi meanwhile also got the crab cake sliders, but because her app tasted like a Christmas tree and she skipped the invisible salad course, she was able to enjoy her entire meal. She got the mac and cheese as a side, and declared it delicious after just one bite. That’s high praise.

Shane said the sliders looked like baby sandwiches. I think that’s the idea, but good call.

Over on mine and Shane’s side of the table we had a little pizza party going, as we both went with that for our meals. Truth be told the two of us most definitely could’ve just shared one pie, but we all know by now how Shane feels about the notion of sharing food, so I didn’t even broach that topic.

Instead we each got one of the two pizzas on the menu with the word “Spicy!” next to them: the Twisted for me (pepperoni and banana peppers), and the Sicilian for Shane (sausage).

And when they arrived I suddenly had flashbacks of the great sheet pizza debacle of Belleria a few years back.

It actually looks bigger in person

They picked those banana peppers off the spicy tree for sure

Needless to say we each ended up taking several slices home. Well, I took several home. Shane took a few.

Something else Shane would’ve taken a few of were beverages, while we were still sitting at the table eating of course. But our server – you know, the one who was NOT supposed to be “a bit overwhelmed” – kind of seemed to forget about the world underneath the main patio, and was pretty much non-existent outside of dropping off plates at our table. Or miraculously whenever Ted’s drink was empty – which, as we’ve already established after the salad incident, wasn’t all that often.

I will say, though, that we were highly entertained by one of the other two tables seated in the underworld with us … three teacher-slash-moms who openly discussed their dating lives at a volume that might have been less obtrusive had there not been more than a few empty cocktail glasses on their table. The 35+ minute conversation about the merit of baths and showers was especially stimulating. We were all a bit sad to see them leave, although giggling quietly to ourselves was becoming increasingly difficult.

Cassi

Steph

Shane, whose rating is indicative of his lack of beer throughout the evening

Ted, who probably should’ve given a higher rating since his beer was full more often than anyone’s

 

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WTGW 4/4/18: Iron Grill, Akron

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

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

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

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

Choose wisely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ever the adventurer, Ted got an arrogant bastard beer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shane: I expected more of this place.

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

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

If you order anything on the menu here, pick these

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

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

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

Not likely.

So healthy. Is this allowed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s some meat behind those fries. Honest.

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

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

We chose correctly

See, this fills a plate. And a belly.

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Steph

Ted

Cassi

Shane

Steph

WTGW 2/7/13: Table 6, North Canton

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So it turns out that tonight’s pick, Table 6, is a sister restaurant to 3 Brothers. As in the same 3 Brothers that we contemplated returning to as a revisit one week after we first visited, since the fried pickles and desserts were things of our dreams. When Ted mentioned in a group text that he was considering Table 6 as his pick for tonight, both Cassi and I immediately went to their website to check out the menu … and as soon as the words “Brothers fried pickles” floated past my eyes on the appetizer menu I fired back a text warning everyone to eat a light lunch.

Meanwhile Cassi – who officially joined our weekly group the week after said visit – exclaimed that it made her week to finally get to try something we’re all been talking about forever. Group goals.

So then imagine our disappointment when we get to the restaurant and find out that they aren’t the same dish.

OK, I’m kidding, that didn’t happen. But imagine how awful that would’ve been.

Spoiler alert – we got three orders of said pickles. For four people.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Table 6 is very nice on the inside. It’s like the sophisticated older sister to 3 Brothers’ Sporty Spice tomboy. There’s a giant bar in the center of the building, with seating and tables all around. We chose a 4-top near what I believe were the patio doors – which obviously stayed closed on this February evening.

Our server was great. As soon as he heard it was our first time here he went through pretty much the whole menu with us. Literally. The. Entire. Menu. He was so thorough that even Shane couldn’t come up with any questions. And we all know that like never happens.

He also explained that the concept of the place is more small plates that are meant to be split amongst the table than giant entrees for one. So of course it makes sense that we then started off by ordering six appetizers … including three of the same thing.

We apparently missed the lesson on sharing in kindergarten.

As mentioned, we each got an order of the pickles. Well, Cassi and Ted each got their own, while I made Shane share with me. Much to his disappointment. Because we all know Shane hates sharing food.

You definitely don’t get the generous portion of pickles here that you get at 3 Brothers. Which seems somewhat contrary to the whole “sharing plates” thing, no? OK. But they’re still the same thin cut, lightly breaded and very tasty treats we remembered from our other visit.

We’ve been dreaming about you, pickles

Ted also got an app of the buffalo cauliflower bites, pretty much out of sheer curiousity. His first few bites definitely didn’t win him over, but he kept going back for more, and later said that the more he ate them the better the seasoning was.

When healthy meets sports bar

Cassi got the pretzels. I bet you’re shocked to hear that. But it was a good decision, as they were very good. Crispy on the outside, but extremely doughy on the inside.

Conveniently cut for sharing

Shane and I also added on a late order of fried cheese curds, I think after the pickles came out and Shane realized he was going to have to share a miserably small amount of food with me. Shane had never had fried cheese curds before – which seems odd given his love of both cheese and all things fried – but then again now that I think about it the only time I’ve ever had them was on a work trip to Minnesota, where they seem to be bountiful.

I want to kiss whoever invented these

And now we may have to move there … because Shane’s words after trying them were something to the effect that “these are effing delicious.” I can’t disagree.

Although I will disagree on his love of the sauce that came with them. He thought it was just as delicious as the fried cheese, while Cassi and I said it deterred from the taste of cheese.

Ted didn’t have an opinion. Shocker.

We were warned that our meals may not come out at the same time, since they don’t have heat lamps in the kitchen and they just bring each of the dishes out as they’re finished. Fair enough. I mean, why make us all starve and then eat things that taste like heated rubber just because someone ordered a complicated dish like fried chicken that takes extra time to prepare?

Ted got the pastrami sandwich. A sound choice that I think all of us mulled over after reading the description on the menu.

Now that’s a sandwich

And we about had to roll him out of the restaurant at the end of the night. I mean, that’s a lot of meat.

Meat-wich

That’s what she said.

Cassi got the shrimp and grits, which was one of the specials on the menu during our visit. She got a “good choice” from the server when she ordered it … but unfortunately she didn’t share his sentiment after trying it. She said it was ok, but the sauce on the shrimp was overpowering ad made it so you really couldn’t taste anything else but that. So it was kind of just like a bowl of sauce with some lumps in it. Sounds scrumptious.

A bowl of bad flavoring

I ordered the fish and chips. They were good, but just like Ted’s sandwich, it was a pretty large order. I, however, wasn’t up for a trip on the “fill your stomach to the point of explosion” train, and ended up leaving most of the fries behind after I devoured the fish and cole slaw. Cassi also thought I was leaving the fish breading behind, as when I first cut into a piece it all flaked apart.

Cassi: I know you sometimes eat the insides out of a sandwich when you start getting full, but eating the fish out of the breading seems like a new low.

I’ll take everything you can put in a deep fryer please

Also, they aren’t kidding about that whole “we don’t use heat lamps” thing, since my fish was basically a little volcano of steam when I first cut into it. Noted under: things that should make me wait a moment before I start eating them. But as we’ve seen many times prior, I’m clearly not that smart. *sigh*

Shane had debated over ordering the pastrami, the street tacos and the sliders. After a lengthy chat with the server, he ended up with the short rib sliders and the lobster tacos. And was slightly food jealous when Ted’s pastrami sandwich arrived, as that was the one thing he declined.

These look too healthy to be in front of Shane

Head shadow

But he definitely wasn’t disappointed in the two meals he did choose. He said the sliders could’ve used a little bit of BBQ sauce, but they were still good. He was also definitely glad he ordered both meals, as one alone wouldn’t have been enough for his bottomless hunger.

So this was like the fancy version of ordering a burger AND wings.

Remember how I’ve mentioned numerous times now that we were all, like, super full as we finished eating? Makes perfect sense then that we all nodded when the server asked if we might like to consider dessert, no?

Let’s just say that if we ha never been to 3 Brothers, we most certainly would’ve passed on dessert. But thanks to our visit there and our near-miss at passing on what turned out to be the Best. Dessert. Ever. we’ve learned our lesson. I mean, Cassi wasn’t even on that WTGW trip and she knew better than to walk away dessert-less here.

Although Shane, in his quest to be “healthy,” declined and said he was going to get on the treadmill when we got home. Um, OK. Maybe next time just don’t order two meals and all the fried apps, but whatever. He definitely missed out.

Ted Cassi and I ended up with mini dessert jars. And I think the “pumpkin love” from 3 Brothers should be nervous about competition in the dessert category, because wow.

I got chocolate chip cookie. Cassi got the same minus the ice cream. Ted got the mocha mudslide and the warm molten brownie.

Cookie dough with ice cream

And without

I don’t know which of Ted’s is which but who cares, it was all amazing

Um, yeah. Cassi said it might be the best dessert she’s every had. Those little jars were the perfect amount of heaven. I mean, if I hadn’t just eaten a huge dinner and appetizers I might be able to eat more than one. Oh, who am I kidding, if this place weren’t a half hour away I would probably stop on my way home from work every night just to get like 8 of these to go.

For once maybe I’m glad a good pick is a little further away. My closet thanks you.

But we will definitely be back. I mean, it’s worth it even if just for the pickles and dessert.

Hey wait, I think I’ve said this before.

Picked by: Ted

If there’s bad lighting in a place, I’ll find it

Ted

Bromance

Cassi


Table Six Kitchen + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 1/24/18: REVISIT – Sammie’s, Tallmadge

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Ever invited your new neighbors over for dinner as a friendly gesture … and then five minutes into the evening you realize you have zero in common with them, but no matter what you do or say they just won’t get the hint and leave?

That pretty much sums up this week’s revisit to Sammie’s. Hint: we’ll be playing the part of the new neighbors.

Sounds fun, right?

We were a party of three tonight, as Ted was on a work trip in Vegas … that he didn’t remember was actually this week until we were discussing it last week. Oops. Who forgets about a trip to Vegas, of all places, even if it is a work thing? Perhaps we need to get him a better calendar.

So since we were man down this week we decided to make this a revisit week. And gave Cassi a WTGW initiation with the responsibility to choose a place from all of the places we’ve been. Oh, the pressure.

Now, if you read our original post on Sammie’s from 2014, you’ll see why she thought this would be a good pick for the evening. Great service. Wednesday burger specials. And, most of all, $1.00 bottled beers. Seriously, how could you go wrong? I’m surprised we ever went anywhere else after we discovered this find back then.

Except that it seems all of those things have disappeared since that first visit. Or at least no one is talking about them anyway. There was no $1 beer special. And no mention of a burger special. And definitely no great service.

Bummer.

To be honest, we’ve been to Sammie’s on a few other non-Wednesday occasions since our original visit of almost four years ago, and every time I think we leave pretty much scratching our heads at how we liked it so much the first time we visited. It was like we hit some sort of oasis of WTGW amazingness that first time.

This week we were seated at a high top in the bar area, which is usually our perfect spot. In fact, when the hostess asked us if that table would work for us, all three of us answered “yes” in unison. However, if we’d known that we would soon be playing a game of Jenga with our dinner dishes we probably would’ve rethought our eagerness to accept that seating. More on that later.

Also, the decor in the bar could use some updating. To quote Cassi, “Are there always Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling, or are we just still celebrating the holidays here?”

Good question.

For drinks, Shane ordered a rum and diet while I got a tequila and soda. Or at least that’s what we thought we ordered. Apparently what the server heard was “just bring over half a bottle of rum and half a bottle of tequila in small rocks glasses with a tiny splash of mixer for coloring.” Awesome. Either that, or the bartender from Windsor Pub has a new job over here at Sammie’s these days.

Needless to say, we couldn’t flag down the server fast enough to order a few waters along with our appetizers, primarily so that we could dilute our 15 shots of alcohol in one glass. Mmmmm.

Shane was super hungry when we arrived, which translated to him wanting to order ALL THE APPS as soon as he opened the menu. We eventually agreed that just the mozzarella triangles would be sufficient. Cassi got the fried zucchini.

Little pillows of cheese heaven

Fried vegetables are still healthy, right?

It didn’t take long for our apps to come out, which is always a plus, especially when one member of your party keeps drooling over food that keeps getting delivered to neighboring tables. But we soon learned that having Speedy Gonzales as master chef back there isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

So being that bringing the apps over was the first time we had seen our server since she took that order, naturally we figured putting in our meal orders at that time was advised. And thus begins an interesting study in time management versus square footage of a table. Because it was only a few minutes later that the side salads we ordered arrived … while the apps were still on the table. OK, a touch cramped, but we got this.

Ok, I guess this might be healthier

But then literally five minutes after that, our meals showed up. Um, yeah, a little help here please? For real.

Also, for the record, the “help” I’m referring to isn’t a to-go box. Which is what the server showed up with when I was LITERALLY three bites into my dinner. Remember what I said earlier about feeling like someone no longer enjoyed your company? Like seriously, I get that maybe your shift ends in five minutes and you want to get the hell out the door (it didn’t, just FYI, because she was still waiting on just-seated tables as we were leaving a bit later), but maybe rushing us into taking our meals to-go isn’t the best way to increase your tipping percentage, or encourage patrons to revisit. Just saying.

Also, I realize I’m quite liberally using the word “literally” in this post – but trust me, it’s justified.

Anyway, let’s discuss this copious amount of food we had in front of us.

Shane was having a hard time deciding between ordering the spaghetti and meatballs, or the cod dinner. Which are, like, the two things on the menu that if you’d asked me I never in a million years would think he would even be considering, much less caught in a hot debate over. Who is this person?

He eventually ended up with the cod. I would pretend to be surprised, but, well, whatever at this point.

There’s fish under there somewhere

He said it was OK. He particularly liked the tarter sauce, which seemed to be homemade and was very tasty.

I ordered the meatball sub.

The anti-Ted meal. Also, note the leftover app chilling out on the edge of my plate.

I thought it was really good. Some people might disagree with me on this, since the sandwich was really just three large meatballs, giant sheets of cheese, and about a tablespoon of sauce on a roll. But for me, that was perfect. I will gladly choose cheese over sauce any day, especially since soggy bread pretty much skeeves me out.

Yeah, I know, it’s weird. Get over it.

Cassi got the portabella wrap. She really liked it, said it was very flavorful.

Points for presentation

So yeah, the food definitely wasn’t the issue here. If you’re looking for a decent meal, Sammie’s is still a solid choice. And if you’re the type who likes to feel like you’re being rushed through your meal, likes to see if you can finish an appetizer in two minutes flat, or likes to drink your weight in alcohol in just one drink, then I guess this is the place for you, too. But us, not so much. Sorry Sammie’s – let us know when the $1 beer specials return and our particular server isn’t racing through her shift, and maybe we’ll see each other again then. Until then, there are probably better places to spend our Wednesday evenings.

Shane

Steph

Cassi

 

WTGW 11/29/17: Akron City / Stray Dog Tavern

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Shane got all excited this week when I announced that I was picking a place in North Hill. Because, well, potentially slightly scary places are intriguing to him. Even when they aren’t bars run out of houses.

There’s also this:

Nothing like testing your willpower by attending the AA meeting across the street from a bar

Because that seems wise.

Anyway.

History lesson time: I guess this place is the old The Office – which moved to Cuyahoga Falls a while back. We visited that location a few years ago, and were underwhelmed. I believe this original location just reopened with a new name and menu about a year ago.

Spoiler alert: we were far more impressed with this new place than the original-in-a-new-building.

Although – and here’s where my magical marketing hat of common sense comes into play … there seems to be some discrepancy with the name of this new place, as it can be found under either Akron City Tavern, or Stray Dog Tavern. Meanwhile, the website title shows up in the bar as The Office City Tavern. I’ll take the identity crisis special with a side of you might want to just choose one brand new name and stick with it, please. It seriously took me about 20 minutes of googling to make sure that all of these names were, in fact, leading me to the exact same place.

I feel like I should get some sort of prize for completing that scavenger hunt.

In reality what they should name the place is the Tiny Little Two-Topped Tavern, because the place is super small inside. And has very few table options for parties larger than two or four. Which bodes well for our party of five, no? We ended up at the only table big enough to accommodate us, right at the front in the window. But at least the bartender came over and turned on the overhead light fixture just for us. Point one for hospitality.

Now is probably also a good time to mention that the place wasn’t busy at all. Like it was just two other people and the bartender inside when we walked in – so our group of five essentially more than doubled the population of the place. I think the other two people were also friends of the bartender’s, not actual paying customers. So there’s that.

It should be no surprise that the first thing Jason and Shane noticed was that they had Hamm’s. Cheap beer connoiseurs, these ones.

Shane: Ah, it tastes like a dive bar in Chicago.

MMMMMMM.

For apps, Ted went with mussels, Shane and I went with the veggie spring rolls, and Cassi and Jason decided on the chips and dip.

The chips and dip ended up being the big winner. The dip was excellent. We think it may have been Lawson’s chip dip, but without the plastic container actually on the table in front of us it’s hard to say for sure.

This looks more impressive than last week’s Pound of Chips debacle

The mussels also ended up being very good. They had just enough garlic without being overwhelming. When we raved about them, the bartender told us that the key is that the cook starts the sauce with garlic and beer ahead of time, then throws the mussels in later. I’m no chef, but I can say for certain that whatever he’s doing is certainly working. Also, I’m not sure the chef appreciates you giving out his secrets, but thanks?

I’ll take the Keep The Vampires Away special, please

Shane wasn’t thrilled with the veggie spring rolls. I thought they were OK – but nothing I needed to order again.

At first you’re disappointed there are only three. Until you try them.

I’d read that no matter what name you call this place, burgers are a big speciality here. So of course that’s what we all ordered. Hey, how else are we supposed to confirm that if we don’t try them? I mean, seriously.

Food twins Jason and Shane both got the Danny Boy’s – which includes a fried egg and corned beef on top of the burger. I guess this particular one also won the top award at the National Hamburger Festival in downtown Akron this past summer. So, you know, no big pressure to be amazing or anything.

Breakfast for dinner

Shane debated over adding a second 7oz patty to his sandwich, but the bartender talked him out of it. Apparently he doesn’t read this blog. And of course Shane said later he could’ve actually used it. Not only because it tasted pretty damn good, but also because 7oz of meat is really not a lot for someone who eats like he does.

**insert 15 year old humor here**

Good thing he got that sidecar of fries

Ted got the Caprese burger.  As in, essentially a Caprese salad on top of a burger. My guess is that this was less an attempt to be healthy and more an effort – as in all of Ted’s endeavors – to avoid cheese.

The only burger on the table without anything fried or melted on top of it

The chef came over to the table as the food was delivered, and apologized for not having enough shaved mozzerella cheese on it. Little did he know that he hit the right person with that sentence. I think Ted about fell off of his chair trying to stop him when the chef said he would go back and get more for him, since he had already actually donated what was there to Shane. Such a good friend.

#friendshipgoals

Cassi got the bacon cheeseburger. I’m going to guess you’re intelligent enough to guess what was on that one. She said it was delicious. And that this was probably the best food she’s had in all the weeks she’s been out with us. #winning

The cheese seems to have overthrown the bacon for seniority here

I got the Akron Burger, which was a burger topped with grilled chip-chopped ham, chips and Lawson’s French onion dip. Because nothing says Akron like chip-chopped ham and Lawson’s chip dip, I take it? I clearly haven’t lived here long enough to learn these connections.

That’s one way to get chips AND fries with your meal

Everyone agreed that the burgers were amazing. They’re all freshly cooked, no frozen patties here. And cooked to order, so you know that won Shane over. All the various toppings added to the burger instead of taking over and overpowering the meat itself. And even the buns were good.

So. Many. Jokes. in those last two sentences. Must restrain.

But in all seriousness, Shane put the burgers in his Top Two. And then later said they may actually be his favorite. That’s high praise, folks.

I mean, we all know those famous Shane numerical order lists are written in stone … for at least like a week.

The fries were the only slight disappointment, at least in my opinion. They weren’t horrible, but after I had the chips and dip I wished I had gotten the chips as my side instead. I will say that the portion was still good – what looked like a small amount when they arrived turned out to be just enough to be filling … without being like hey, I just ate about 15 fried potatoes so please roll me out the door.

But to kind of balance that out, there were homemade pickles with the burgers. Right? Homemade. Like not out of a jar butter chips. Clearly Lawson’s trumps Vlassic in Akron.

The place also has great service. I mean, granted, we were the only ones there – but still the bartender/server was very attentive, and instead of just yelling over the bar at us (because let’s face it, we weren’t that far away) he would actually walk around and come check on us, ask us if we needed refills, etc. He also encouraged us to just yell at him if we needed anything at all. Just like home.

Another plus: when Cassi and I ran out the keg of cider we were both drinking, he gave me the last half glass that was poured (since he had no other ciders on tap or bottle) at no charge. And seemingly felt really bad about not having any other selection. Now, if we go back down the road and there’s more than one cider selection on the menu then I’ll really be impressed. Even more so if they wanted to name it after us. Just a thought.

Although, had I seen this sign, maybe I would’ve gone with this special:

Liningoogles? That’s new

Must be a new competitor to the more well known Leinenkugel’s. We’ll see how that fares.

We also noticed a special for $5 classic burger and a 16oz can of Hamm’s during all Cleveland sports games. Shane said he would be in for like three of those. Somehow I think he just means three of the burgers, and far more of the Hamm’s.

I have to admit, while we weren’t sure what to expect when we walked in – it’s small, it was practically empty, and it’s in a somewhat sketch neighborhood – Akron City/Stray Dog/The Bar Formerly Known As The Office Tavern turned out to be a really good pick. Cassi said it may be the best since she’s started coming out with us – although to be fair, it is up against places that smelled like Grandmas house and only have two items on the menu. But we all agreed this place is a hidden gem. Really good food, great service, and decent prices. I mean, what more can you ask for, right? Don’t let the location scare you, because it’s definitely worth the trip. I for one would love to see this one thrive, and not have a party of five be the biggest thing to show up on a Wednesday night. That being said, if we show up in a few months and there’s a line for our window table I might be a little bit irritated. Just sayin.

Picked by: Steph

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Shane and his new BFF

Steph


Akron City Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 10/18/17: Jilly’s Music Room, Akron

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We really should’ve had an inkling about what this night would hold when we had to get around two road closures and a near miss accident just to arrive at Jilly’s Music Room. Because all great nights start with cheating death, no?

So once we finally got there imagine our disappointment to find that the place was packed and we weren’t able to even get in the door.

Just kidding. We were actually the only ones there. At 7PM on a Wednesday. We had to ask as we walked in if, in fact, they were actually open, because we were a bit surprised to find not a single soul sitting at the bar or at any of the many tables. I mean, I get that the place is a “music room,” so they host bands, open mic nights, special events, etc – and I get that those things start later in the evening. But they also serve food, so we thought it odd that at dinner time they were completely vacant.

Spoiler alert: there’s a very good reason for that. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

So we were told to sit anywhere. Uh, thanks for that. We’ll do our best not to take all of the choice locations, what with the line following behind us and all.

All this being said, imagine our surprise when it took a hot minute for someone to come around with menus. Let’s see, we’re the only patrons here, you talked to us as we came in, you watched us sit down, you know there are no menus of any kind on the table … but yeah, sure, take your time coming around with menus at a place we’ve clearly never visited. Good plan.

Drinks were rather expensive. At least the specialty mixed drinks were anyway. But then again that turned out to be the theme of the evening. Foreshadowing, I guess.

Ted went with an IPA, Cassi got a tequila and soda, Shane went with a Jameson and ginger, and I chose a cider.

Oh, wait, scratch that, they “forgot to order more,” so no cider for me. Guess that curse falls back in my lap.

So the server brings back the drink menu along with everyone’s round of drinks so that I can pick something else … and then pretty much everyone was ready for round two by the time she came back to check if I’d picked anything else out. I must not look thirsty.

After these past few weeks, I have to believe we’ve been cursed by the spirit of awful servers.

So Jilly’s, I believe, falls under the “fancy” category of our WTGW choices. Not only is it a music place, it also features “all gluten free fare.” That’s a far cry from our usual greasy burgers, cheesy pizzas and deep fried wings. Leave it up to Ted to discover this strange world. How did they allow us inside this place anyway?

Shane and I got the potato chips and breaded mushrooms (yes, gluten free breading) as apps.

Gluten free breading does not photograph well

We almost didn’t get the mushrooms, as it seemed a bit much to order two appetizers – even for us. But let me just tell you how glad we were that we did. Because heed this little tip, even though the server will tell you that the potato chips are enough to serve two … well, she’s lying. Or she means two people who only eat one potato chip a piece. I guess people who eat gluten free also eat smaller portions?

Fancy chips not made for two

Cassi got the fried pickles (which, like last week, still aren’t magically free) and a caprese salad. Both were embarrassingly small. Five seconds after those items arrived at the table she was already planning to order more food.

At least they give you both chips AND spears.

The smallest salad in the universe. For $7.00

The curse of “not having things you want to order” quickly passes on from me to Shane, as he chose the kielbasa for his dinner – but then had to re-pick after the server reappeared and said that unfortunately they couldn’t serve that tonight because “it was still too frozen to cook.” Um, what now? Is this the first night this place is open? Were they not expecting people to eat and drink tonight?

They offered him the steak skewers instead. Which sounds OK, but turned out to be the size of a small appetizer.

Far from Ted’s meat on a stick

He also got the signature wings. And while you know how I like to pick on the boys for always ordering enough food for a small army, this time it was well warranted – and still not enough food to even begin to constitute a real dinner.

I mean, look at these wings.

Dainty little wings

Did these come off of specially bred miniature chickens? Were they meant for a children’s menu? I’m so confused.

Ted got the buffalo chicken slider and the steak slider. OK, so you know how sliders are like cute, mini-burgers? Well, these were like mini-sliders. I swear they were each one bite. Because that’s a meal.

That little thing that looks like a charcoal briquette is actually a slider. Yes, seriously.

It’s also worth mentioning that that plate pictured above is $12. For two (mini) sliders. Anyone going to get a meal at Jilly;s should keep that photo above at the front of their brain. Also, I feel the need to relive the $7 steak special story right here for some reason.

Ted also got the red chili wings. You already know where this is going. He said were good, but he needed like seven orders of them to constitute a meal.

Put some meat on those bones, chickens

I got the street tacos. Which when they arrived looked to be the most food out of anyone at the table – including Cassi, who later ordered a brie flatbread just to actually not starve her way through the evening.

Third order is the charm for Cassi, I guess

But they just weren’t that good. Gluten free tacos should not be a thing, I’ll just say that right now. They tasted burnt. The salsa was tasty, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about the meal.

There are tacos under all that greenery, I swear

So let’s recap: anything decent tasting arrived in a portion size fit for an anorexic model, and the one item that looked to be enough food to be considered a dinner portion was awful. We’re totally winning at this week’s pick, no?

Back to my mixed drink that I was finally able to order … it ended up being way too sweet. It sounded really good on the menu (black cherry juice, sage syrup, vodka), but it was like drinking a glass of straight fruit laden with sugar. I guess maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that by the time it arrived there at the table there was really only time for one round on my end?

Cassi and Shane did say that their mixed drinks were well made. That was pretty much the only good thing we could say for the evening. Well, and that we stopped at Dante’s Game Day Grille on the way home to get real beer (for under $5 a glass) and some French fries (a giant basket for just $4! We felt like we’d just hit the lottery) just to redeem the evening.

Overall the presentation at Jilly’s is really good – the food looked gorgeous when it arrived at the table, but the taste and the portion size just don’t even come close to matching the price. It’s definitely far overpriced for what you get – I mean, come on, $7 for a bite sized slider? – and unfortunately the “atmosphere” isn’t enough to redeem that.

Sorry, Jilly’s – you definitely aren’t music to this group’s ears.

Picked by: Ted

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Ted

Jilly's Music Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 10/4/17: Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern, Solon

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Hey kids, today is National Taco Day! Which means we took WTGW … someplace that totally doesn’t sell tacos. Right.

We switched up special guests this week, since my Uncle Dan is in town from Arizona and requested a chance to join our esteemed group for a WTGW out. Or, uh, something like that.

You might have noticed we switched up the picking order this week, as it was supposed to be Ted’s week this week. But with Dan staying in Eastlake, we decided to try to keep things a little more central – so Shane and Ted switched up picks this week since Shane was going toward something in Solon for his next pick anyway.

Technical details, I know.

Speaking of, I tried to tell Shane that he had actually been to the Rusty Bucket before – many years ago, on our way to a football game in Cleveland, we stopped here with some friends. He didn’t remember, until we pulled into the lot in front of the restaurant and suddenly it all started coming back to him. Sort of. So I guess this is a bit of an unorthodox pick, but whatever.

Anyway.

The very bubbly and young hostess told us as we walked in that this was her second day. So of course we countered back that this was our first time ever visiting (well, OK, considering what I just told you technically that was a lie, but just run with it). And so the hostess says to us “well be sure to tell your server it’s your first time here when she greets you, because you can get an order of free pickle chips.”

You have our attention.

Or HAD our attention, until we realized that our young, new hostess may want to clarify that statement with the server before she makes those kinds of promises. More on that later.

Our drinks took forever. It was like they were brewing the beer themselves in the back room. And then what Ted and Dan thought would arrive in draft form actually arrived as bottles. I mean, it’s nice of them to go through the motions of transferring the beer into bottles, but really the draft would’ve been preferred.

I got the Blueberry Bella drink – which, while very good, wasn’t really worth the seven hours it seemed to take to arrive. Are we waiting for the blueberries to harvest and be carted in from the family farm or something?

It takes a long time to make yourself this pretty I guess

The server also told us that Wednesdays are “Whiskey Wednesdays,” which means any whiskey for $7.00. Shane got super excited … but then realized he should’ve really specified the kind of whiskey he wanted in his drink and not just ordered a generic “whiskey and ginger ale” – since he probably didn’t get much out of that deal seeing as some whiskies aren’t exactly even worth $7.00 to begin with.

Ted got hummus as an app. He said it was OK. It probably would’ve been better if he’d had some sliverware to actually get the hummus onto the pita chips instead of having to facilitate a system of scooping it up with other pieces of pita. Again, technicalities.

Little stingy on the pita, no?

Shane told the server what the hostess told us about the fried pickle chips – he was like “so, we were told by the hostess that if we say it’s our first time here then we get free pickle chips” The server just stared at him, so Shane was like “you know, wink wink … ”

Yeah, turns out they were $8.49. Guess Shane needs to work on his wink. And the servers and hostesses need to work on their communication skills.

Also, they were more like spears. Not chips. Maybe we need to get this place a dictionary, and underline the words “free” and “chips.”

Not chips and not free

Being that it’s national taco day and I’d already gotten tacos for lunch, I went wth the taco salad. Which turned out to be more like a mexican pizza. I guess we can add another word to that dictionary we need to work on. The “salad” was a flat tortilla with beef and beans spread over it, and then lettuce, sour cream and cheese on top.

Fancier than Taco Bell

It was OK. I didn’t eat all of it. I mean, it looks pretty and all, but after consuming about half of it it just didn’t seem worth the effort or calories anymore.

And that, my friends, seems to be the theme of the evening: pretty, but not really worth the wait.

Shane asked our server his usual questions about the best thing on the menu, and was told pizza. Sold. Because, Shane.

It turned out to be just OK. I mean, he ate the entire thing – this wasn’t last week, where everything was made of salt – but he said it wasn’t anything special.

Hey Shane got a pizza. That’s new

Ted got the Wednesday special of beef stroganoff. He said it was good up until about the last few bites, when he ended up with a bite that involved a huge chunk of fat. Mmmm. Nothing says that’s a good dish like the fatty part of some beef. We’re not going for the old 96er here folks.

Those may be the widest noodles I’ve ever seen

Dan got chicken fingers and fries. He pretty much felt the same as Shane.

There are fries under there somewhere

Our service was awful. Our server disappeared for long stretches of time and for no good reason, as there were hardly any other tables in the place. We didn’t even see her helping other tables, she was just plain gone from the floor. Maybe she was in the back chewing out the new hostess who probably sat us in her section when she was about to go home – which, whatever, do what you have to, but maybe just giving the table away to another server is the better option? Just a thought. But then again, she also just didn’t seem interested in interacting with anyone, or being there I general. Because that’s a personality plus.

Compound that with the bar, which took seemingly hours to make one round of drinks. I mean, I could see if it was super busy – but we were nearly the last ones there. Did everyone invite their imaginary friends to dine with them tonight? I must’ve missed that memo.

Case in point: Shane and I ask for another round, as does Dan. Meanwhile, Ted asks for the draft list. Which one would assume means he would like to order something different than what he already has, no? Well so the server comes back with another drink for me and Dan, plus a bottle of what Ted had in the first round (whie he’s still looking over the draft list) and nothing for Shane. Um, OK. Seems something got lost in translation there, no?

So basically, let’s review: the food being nothing particularly memorable, plus bad service … means the Rusty Bucket probably won’t end up on the revisit list. I mean, it seems they fixed up the place since the time years ago when Shane and I last visited .. and it’s certainly no house-turned-bar-that-reeked-of-burger-grease like one of our other previous Solon adventures – but they obviously at still a little, as their name implies, rusty.

Geez I crack myself up.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Dan

Ted

Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato