WTGW 7/31/19: Mark & Philly’s Pizza, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

Hey, anyone remember the WTGW rules of choosing a place?

No?

Well here they are:

  • Must have food
  • Must have alcohol
  • Must be fun (or at least have potential)

Pretty simple, I know.

But that whole middle rule about alcohol actually leaves quite a few places out of our spectrum, since there are several restaurants in our area that (we’ve heard) have great take out or just a small eat-in area but just don’t cater to alcoholics such as ourselves.

Probably with good reason. But whatevs.

Enter WTGW Take Out Edition! OK, so I just made that up, it wasn’t something we necessarily planned on doing … but when your dog has to have some minor dental surgery on a Wednesday and you go full-out nervous dog mom on the situation after she gets home from the vet, this seems like a good option. Because we all still need to eat (and drink), just minus the guilt of leaving your still-somewhat-drugged-up-and-not-quite-forgiven-you-yet-for-leaving-her-at-her-most-hated-place-on-earth-for-the-day furchild at home in a kennel after a strenuous day.

See also: take notes, because chances are this situation will present itself again. We have three dogs, people.

img_2351

The patient. I don’t think we paid extra for the weird wonky stand-up ear.

And bonus: we know that we won’t have to scour coolers or wait for servers to check back 14 times just to tell us that there’s only one White Claw in the entire place and they have no idea what flavor it is.

Score.

Tonight’s take-out pick is Mark & Philly’s Pizza, which is a little family owned pizza/sub/chicken shop here in Cuyahoga Falls. Shane got a little history lesson when he picked up our order (side note, the do also deliver, we just chose to go pick it up, because, well, we were super hungry and didn’t want to take a chance that that option would take longer), as both Mark and Philly were working in the restaurant that evening. He learned that the place has been in business for over 30 years, and that Mark is in the kitchen pretty much every day helping with the cooking while Philly cashes orders out. They have a support staff, of course, but they also seem to pretty much not miss a day of work.

And they’re doing a killer job. There’s a reason why they’ve been a city staple for this many years. We placed our order via phone, and everything we ordered – three pizzas (including two deep dish), an order of fried chicken, two orders of jojo potatoes, and two salads – so, you know, enough to feed about double the amount than were in our house – was all ready in 25 minutes.

Let’s just think back to the sheer number of places recently who hadn’t gotten us so much as an appetizer, much less our entire order, by this point in our dining experience. County Line on $1 burger nights, anyone? The disaster that was Mac’s Cabana? WADSWORTH TAVERN?

Exactly.

I vote Mark and Philly to helm the next restaurant makeover reality show.

WHAT WE ORDERED:

Shane had read online that the Sicilian pizza was the way to go, with pretty much 99.9% amazingly good reviews. So that made his decision easy. He got a small.

img_2352

FYI, if you’re unaware – as I was – that Sicilian essentially translates to a type of deep dish pizza, then I’m providing that knowledge to you now. You’re welcome.

Cassi also ordered a large Sicilian for her and Jason to split, and then a side salad with cheese for her.

Mark & Philly's, Cuyahoga Falls

The same, just bigger. 

Meanwhile, Ted opted against the deep dish and just went for a regular pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. He got a large, because, well, why not.

It made Shane’s look like a baby pizza.

img_2358

Yes, this establishment also serves Truly. Carry on. 

But what you don’t see in that picture is the sheer depth of the Sicilian versus Ted’s regular pizza. The Sicilian is like a true PIE – so crust, then toppings and cheese, then another crust, then more cheese.

Translation: Ted chose wisely for himself.

On the non-pizza side of the table, I got the two chicken breast dinner, which comes with a breadstick and two sides – I chose Jojo’s and a side salad with cheese.

img_2356.jpg

AND THE VERDICT IS:

Thumbs up all around. The Sicilian stole the show, with everyone who ordered it (or, even, in my case, tried a bite of it) voting it a top favorite.

In fact, Shane went so far as to claim that he had a new favorite. Like after pretty much one bite he was ready to de-throne his previous regional fave, Farinaccis. As was Cassi to Tim’s Pizzeria.

img_2498

Shane eventually revised his statement to claim that he still liked both pizzas, but for different reasons.

Still, that’s high praise, coming from the pizza guru himself.

I was a fan of my non-pizza meal also. The chicken was good and hot, and the jojos – while not entirely my favorite out of every place I’ve had them – were still tasty. I ended up putting half the meal away for another time.

And even the price wasn’t too bad, considering all we got. Around $65 for the whole order, which really isn’t awful considering we’ve paid way more than that for just two of us on some weeks.

And to be perfectly honest, those Sicilian pizzas are worth every penny. I mean there’s probably $20 worth of cheese on those alone.

I can almost hear Ted gagging while reading that sentence.

Next pick: Steph

WTGW 12/5/18: REVISIT – Tim’s Pizzeria, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

We were just a foursome this week since Jason had to work late. And since last week’s last minute changeup means it’s technically his pick this week, we decided to just do a revisit this week.

It wasn’t until we were seated inside Tim’s that we started to ponder exactly how long it had been since our first and only visit to what remains one of our favorite pizza places in the area. Thank you, faithful blog, for being our weekly diary and allowing us to go back in time to … well, almost exactly two years ago -December 7th, 2016. Something about the holidays must scream let’s go out for pizza and pasta? Sounds logical.

Actually, once we realized the date I recalled that at that visit we had been talking about seeing a sign for an upcoming holiday party … and sure enough, fast forward back to present day, and I look up by the bar on the neon signboard to see another notice for this year’s party, taking place in a few weeks on December 17th.

Commence exact same conversation about whether or not we should attend. Welcome to WTGW, deja vu style.

To be honest, we were all pretty surprised to realize it’s been two years and that this was our first time back. I mean, the last line of the blog post from that visit reads “You can only keep Shane away from his new love for so long, right?”

But I guess when he’s also being introduced to new things like sketchy $1 burgers or places that only have two things on the menu or $7 steak specials over the course of the next two years, the fight to be the object of his affection changes weekly.

The struggle is real, folks.

Tim’s was pretty busy when we walked in around 6:45. We lucked out and got the last open table in the main bar, which means yet again we have to only wonder what the “additional seating” area looks like beyond the restroom doors. And also the patio, because, well, it’s December, and we aren’t that desperate.

Speaking of desperate, it seems that’s exactly how some of the residents in the area surrounding Tim’s are getting when it comes to protecting their lawns and driveways from patrons. There really isn’t much of a parking lot for the restaurant, so many people park down the side streets around the place. Beware of the house with the homemade sign warning you to stay 5ft away from the driveway, and the person on lookout from the window to ensure you heed the warning. Just saying.

In any case, the place started to clear out a little after about 7:30. Not completely empty by any means – but a few more tables definitely opened up. So if you want to avoid “I may have a gun or a baseball bat or just be downright cray-cray” parking monitor, maybe just come after that time.

Consider that your PSA. You’re welcome.

So while we were reminiscing about our last visit to Tim’s of course we had to check to see what dishes we liked the last time – other than the pizza of course – so we didn’t miss out on ordering them again. The breaded mushrooms were a big hit, so Shane and I opted for those again. Shane asked the server how many you get in the order and she said it was done by weight, not count.

Translation: you’re probably going to be disappointed, so just order two batches. Plus they’re only $2.50 each, so no brainer.

Ted decided not to get the three. full. meals. he ordered the last time … and instead just went with 10 hot garlic wings and an 8-cut pizza. With no cheese, of course, because that was probably the thing that endeared Ted the most to this place.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world will just be over here thinking about all the things pizza without cheese sounds just as disgusting as. Like pumpkin pie without cool whip. Or well done steak without any sort of steak sauce. Or mashed potatoes without gravy. Or bread without butter. Just, why.

So, remember how I said Ted decided to not order as much this time? Well … so, looking back it seems that last time he got a smaller 4-cut pizza along with his wings and an order of ravioli … and this time he upsized the pizza to an 8-cut but left out the ravioli. Kind of evens things out, no?

I can say it didn’t seem to buy us any more room on the table, if that counts for anything.

Shane barely had to look at the menu to decide that he was getting the same stuffed banana pepper pizza that he ordered the first time we came. It had gotten rave reviews online prior to our last visit, and he definitely added his to the long list.

I asked the server what was better – a pizza (which sounded good and I was afraid I would have food envy once everyone else at the table had one) or baked rigatoni (which I got last time and liked). She immediately responded that the rigatoni was better, so that’s what I got.

It came with a side salad and a giant basket of bread, too, neither of which you can go wrong with.

Cassi got an 8 cut pizza – pepperoni and mushroom, with banana peppers on half – and a side salad. She also got a side of the cheesy garlic bread.

Our salads arrived first, full of cheese just like we like them, along with the basket of bread.

This is more like our version of health food

The giant basket of bread is essentially the Italian restaurant version of chips and salsa

Then the mushrooms.

Smart choice on that whole two orders thing

Then the garlic bread – which smelled great from the moment it arrived at the table. Ted even commented that it smelled delicious. Although once he finally looked at it and noticed the copious amount of cheese it was covered with he changed his tune a little. It’s like walking into a house thinking someone has been baking cookies all day when it reality it’s just a few cleverly placed candles.

They should just call this plate “heaven”

Next came Ted’s wings. Which totally negated the garlic bread smell by just smelling, well, hot.

Those are bigger than some of the “jumbo” wings we’ve seen other places

I joked that it seemed like every 15-20 minutes someone was just going to show up at the table with a new plate of food for us. Like the revolving door of food options.

I know, it sounds magical, right? This is definitely a world I could get used to living in.

And at least this time each new plate was for a different person at the table. After our past experiences of late with one order being delivered in its entirety all at one time, we really weren’t complaining.

The pizzas all arrived next, one by one, as I think the servers were trying to figure out if we had enough room on the table for all of the giant plates.

One giant pizza all for one person. The lack of cheese means none of us will touch it.

Cassi’s split order

Shane’s hot banana pepper pizza. Aren’t the toppings supposed to go on top of the sauce?

And then my rigatoni.

I asked for Ted’s cheese on my dish. OK, I didn’t – but I should’ve.

Everything was so good. Cassi took one bite of her pizza and immediately declared it delicious. Over the course of the evening the rating migrated from an initial spot in her Top 5, to her Top 3 … and by the time we left she was calling it her favorite pizza in the entire Akron area.

Ted mentioned she was stealing Shane’s rating system. Although he was too engrossed in his pizza to really notice. He once again was not disappointed with his choice, which is not only tasty but also served as a great nasal decongestant due to the heat of the peppers.

There’s a commercial in there somewhere. Tim, let’s talk.

My rigatoni was really good. It was definitely straight from the oven – the layer of skin I lost with those first few bites can attest to that – but honestly it was well worth the sacrifice.

Shockingly, all of us needed to-go boxes. I know, this is new – but also keep in mind we had a lot of carbs on our table – plus the beer and other drinks – and despite our weekly training our stomachs can only take so much. And I think we made a good effort. Ted ate his entire pizza and took the wings home. Shane had a few pizza slices he couldn’t manage, and I had about half my rigatoni.

Meanwhile Cassi took home half of her pizza which I think is supposed to be a late meal for Jason after he gets home from work … but we’ll see if she actually even tells him or just hides it in the back of the fridge for her own dinner another evening.

I know what I would do. Just saying.

OK Tim, let’s make a pact not to not let another two years go by before we meet again, ‘k? We’re too good for each other not to be together. Really.

Picked by: Steph (well, kind of. I suggested the revisit. Basically we’re all out of order now, so we may just flip a coin at this point to see who goes next for picks)

WTGW 10/10/18: Bailey Rd Tavern, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

This week on WTGW we bring you … a Tale of Failed Places.

Or Third Time’s the Charm.

You decide after you read this which title is more appropriate.

This was technically supposed to be my pick this week, so our initial stop was Missing Mountain Brewery in Cuyahoga Falls. It seems the Falls have become a hotbed for new brewery action – and while I’ve learned my lesson about going to a place literally days after opening, I hoped that waiting until this one had been open for a hot minute would have a better outcome.

Yeah, well, chalk that up to a huge fail.

Here’s a tip for the MM folks: it gets cold and rainy in Ohio pretty much any time of year, but especially in the fall. While it may have seemed like sinking your cash into the gorgeous patio overlooking the river was an optimal plan in early spring and summer when you were getting up and running … you might want to turn that pocketbook toward the interior these days, and get some more seating action up inside this place. Literally. Because the short order of tables available inside was no help to our party of five that really wanted food, stat.

Also not helpful: the rope across the stairway to the upstairs. I’m not sure what hidden lair awaits at the top of that staircase, but if it had seating options and a food menu you would’ve had five satisfied customers this evening. Well, OK, so I can’t guarantee the satisfied part, since we do tend to be hard to please at times – but we still would’ve paid you even if we weren’t satisfied, so that has to count for something, no?

Anyway.

Fast forward to a quick google search of the nearby area, which did nothing more than really highlight the fact that MM clearly took an opportunity to place food in a barren part of town. Turns out there are very few sit-down restaurants with liquor licenses in the general vicinity, and even fewer that we haven’t seen the inside of for food of some kind already.

Except – oh, wait – Chelsea’s by the River! We know this place! We’ve been here for drinks after eating out at a past WTGW, and the Google reviews mention burgers, so it seems like fair game!

Yeah, no. Clearly those Google reviews were written in days of yore, because Chelsea’s no longer has a working kitchen. You can eat there – but only after ordering from Euro Gyro next door and carrying it over to the bar. Classy. Or maybe they deliver? We didn’t stick around long enough to inquire about that one.

Instead, our visit to Chelsea’s pretty much consisted of an awkward walk in, a slightly loud few moments of settling in at a table, a glance around for menus, a general wonderment amongst ourselves if maybe we missed something on the reviews that spoke of food, a rebuttal of a few side eye glances from the regulars, and then finally a silent line march out of the establishment.

That was fun.

On to stop #3 in our awkward bar hop that has thus far left us without beer or food of any kind. Because that’s an event that everyone rushes to sign up for.

And that stop was Bailey Rd Tavern, another familiar name from our early pre-blog WTGW days, back in the time when we would actually eat at one place and then hit up another for drinks on the way home. Either we started earlier in the evenings back then, or these past five years has really adulted us, because it seems we complain on nights when we’re getting home after 9PM anymore, so I’m not sure how those outings didn’t kill us.

Regardless, ever since that first stop years ago, Shane has been gently suggesting that we stop back at BRT for an actual meal. After a quick group vote – during which time Shane sensed my hesitation and offered to take my pick as his own this week because I wasn’t sure I wanted my name on the docket for this one – it was decided that we would check it out.

And that’s the long story of how Bailey Rd Tavern because Shane’s new favorite dive bar, as well as one of the cheapest WTGW on record.

We were somewhat shocked to find the place pretty packed on a Wednesday night. Well, I mean, packed for a place that really only has a handful of tables that aren’t of the pool variety, as well as seats at the bar. We ended up having to go all the way to the back of the place, behind the bar and near a weird hallway that we weren’t sure led into the bathrooms or the kitchen (or both, as we discovered later), as well as – shocker – another pool table.

The bartender/server comes over and asks if we want the “Wednesday burger special” – at which time we realized this was probably the reason that the place was so packed on this particular night – and we were like OK, yeah, that’s probably what we’ll end up with, but can we also see a menu? I mean, this table decoration is lovely and all, but maybe you have more to offer us?

Looks like someone gets the “hey, I learned how to make my own posters on the computer and laminate them myself” award

She agrees and disappears for another five minutes, during which time Shane almost chewed his own arm off out of hunger.

But the wait was definitely worth it when she returned with this.

Well that’s seen better days.

OK.

We cut her a little bit of slack, because clearly she had to break out the time machine to unearth that little piece of history. If only it could talk about the things its seen in its years hiding behind the bar.

So, yeah, $2 burger specials all around. Because although so many other things on this menu definitely intrigued us, I can honestly say it wasn’t necessarily because we wanted to order them.

Among the topics of conversation were WTF is this breakfast and movie special on Sunday mornings? And how do they make any money with prices this cheap?

Moving on.

So when the server finally came back to take our orders, we went with pitchers of beer (at her recommendation) as well as the touted $2 burger special. The guys all got two burgers each, while Cassi and I opted for just one a piece. And then of course chips and fries for sides.

I’m not going to bore you with redundancy of five pictures of the same thing. Imagine a table full of this. Enough said.

This too.

Hey, anyone remember that time we went out to a place that Shane picked and the menu only consisted of two items, burgers and wings? And we all give him crap continuously about it? Just checking.

Cassi and Jason also got onion rings. Cassi said they were the best part of her meal. I’m not sure exactly what that says about the burgers, but it says something I think.

They don’t look like much, but apparently they’re winners

That statement may mean more when you take into consideration Shane looked at his burger before biting into it and realized that the bun was actually two top buns, no bottom. Huh. Are there just like a giant pile back there on the counter, and they grab what they can?

Hopefully it’s not next to whatever drawer these ketchup packets live out their lives in.

Generically frugal

I think 1997 called, they’d like their condiments back, please. You’re giving pride a bad name by using it on that label. Although it is “fancy,” so I guess that makes up for something?

OK, I’ll stop. But I could go on for days. Trust me.

But wait! The server had an idea … instead of opening all of those packets, she should just bring us some ketchup so we won’t be so wasteful. Rejoice!

Mmmmm

Um, maybe not. That’s like a literal vat of ketchup, and lord only knows what magical condiment faucet it was poured from. We kind of thought maybe she would just bring us a bottle for ourselves, but I guess that’s not acceptable here?

We can’t be trusted with nice things. I should’ve known.

But other than not trusting us with ketchup bottles, the bartender/server was good. She checked in on us a fair amount, especially given our non-prime location and the fact that she literally had the entire place to watch at the same time. She made sure to write our names on our orders as she took them so that she could remember who got what when it arrived (although since we all got burgers, I have to ask: was it truly that difficult?). Or maybe she just wanted to be friends. I’m OK with either.

Can you tell we’ve had some pretty awful service experiences lately or what? It’s like we’re in abusive relationships and have set our excuse parameters super low. “It’s OK that she never brought us our food, she’s just crazy busy.” “Sure we all only ordered burgers, but she asked for our names and that means she must care about us, right?”

Is there therapy for this kind of situation?

So here it is time to cash out, let’s take a final tally on our bills, shall we? We did realize there was some interesting math going on, when the side orders of chips were $3 but each of the burgers were only $2. Hmmm. OK. But even so, the total bill for me and Shane combined was only $21. $21! That’s like less than what we pay for a few six packs and the fixings to grill out at home. Cassi and Jason had $26, although they also got the order of onion rings and had one extra pitcher on their bill. Ted was the big spender at $22 for just one person – but he was drinking fancy bottled Guinness instead of our cheap Bud Light pitchers, so serves him right, I guess.

So overall, it wasn’t the worst place we’ve ever been. It’s certainly not fancy – I mean, I think if you look up “dive bar” in a dictionary it may have a photo of this place instead of a description – which of course means Shane was in love with the place before we even sat down – but the food didn’t kill us and we all paid less as a collective group for the evening than we have individually at some of our adventures, so that certainly counts for something.

Plus the sign outside offers wise words of wisdom.

Aw, stop. You’re making me teary.

So when someone finds out what the movie is this weekend, give us a shout and let us know, ‘k?

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Jason

Cassi

Ted

WTGW 8/16/17: Hibachi Japan,Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

It’s Ted’s pick this week, which means that yet again we started out at one place but had our meal at another. I’m sensing a trend here.

Our first attempt this week was the HiHo Brewery in the new section of Front St in Cuyahoga Falls – which looked to have promise, as it’s in a great space (what appears to be an old garage, it seems?) with plenty of tables inside and a small patio space outside, and a decent list of handcrafted beers. However, the food list is smaller than what we could likely get at one of the food trucks we judged a few months ago. Like unless you want a cheese and meat tray or a giant soft pretzel – or a salad, because that’s what everyone craves when you’re sampling high potency beers, right? – you’re pretty much out of luck. They had one meal that looked somewhat appetizing (the pork sliders) but beyond that we were all at a loss.

So off we went. Ted didn’t even get to guzzle down a draft this time either.

His Plan B – because at least he knows he needs a second option nearby – was the hibachi place just down the street, relocated from another space a little further north on the same street. We hadn’t been to the old place, so we can’t judge based on the former property. And honestly the last time this group went to a hibachi restaurant together was years ago at Wasabi in Fairlawn, and of course since we were all starving (what!?! That’s new, right?) we didn’t want to wait for a cook table and instead just grabbed a regular table and ordered off the full menu instead of hibachi.

So in other words, this is a new experience for us as a group. If you’re keeping track, that’s four years of Wednesdays before we finally sat around a giant open grill and had someone prepare our food right in front of us. And, no, the open kitchen grill at that scary house in Solon that left us all smelling like a grease fire after only 10 minutes inside doesn’t count.

Anyway.

Hibachi Japan looks great inside, probably in part because it’s all new and shiny. And it’s ALL hibachi. Unless you want to sit in the bar and only order sushi, you have to sit at one of the cook tables. Each one seats 10, I think – although our group only ended up being the three of us, another group of three, and a late arriving pair of women. But we only waited about 10 minutes to be seated, so we weren’t complaining.

We found out later that we weren’t blessed with one of the more “fun” chefs, probably due to the fact that we had a smaller/mixed party, and also that none of us were celebrating birthdays. I guess this must be the new Wednesday celebratory hot spot, because I swear we heard no less than four iterations of that song from other tables in the few hours we were there. Just a warning to be prepared for that. And as hard as Ted to convince Shane that he SHOULD be celebrating a birthday this week, unfortunately no servers were summoned to our table for round number five. Nice try.

It goes without saying that we all got the hibachi. I mean, you don’t sit at a giant stovetop where a person is going to freshly grill up meats of various kinds for you and just eat sushi or miso soup, right? Exactly. Ted got the salmon, chicken for me, and steak and scallops for Shane. The meal also comes with soup and a salad to start, and then pineapple sorbet and a fortune cookie at the end. Not a bad haul for about $15-$25 per person.

I should also mention that, according to the menu, there was supposedly something called a “shrimp appetizer” that came with the meal … although we never actually saw that at our table. Which is probably good, seeing as Shane is allergic. And if they did sneak it in somehow then I guess the fact that he’s not dead yet means he’s somehow cleared of that condition? Hmm.

The soup must’ve been cooked in a previously unearthed lava pit near the property, because it arrived with steam pouring out of each little bowl. Mmm, taste bud killer soup. My favorite. But honesty after about 3-4 minutes it wasn’t so awful to try and eat. I think our last few weeks of fried appetizers did more damage to both my tongue and my fingertips. Or maybe they killed them off all together at this point. Hard to say.

It looks so unassuming in the photo

Shane claimed the salad was the “best salad he’s ever had.” Now, he was also really hungry, so I’m not sure how much stock you want to put into that claim. I thought it was pretty much just a small bowl of ready-salad mix poured from a bag with dressing on it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint the flavor of … but I guess when you want to eat your arm off that’s extremely tasty.

Shane’s salad standards are impeccably low

As mentioned, we didn’t have one of the loud chefs that yell and swing knives inches from your face, but he cooked our food well and really that’s what matters. Although he might want to think about speaking up a bit as he does his little show of announcing the different items he seasons each dish with, as I couldn’t hear half of what he said, so in my mind just started considering everything soy sauce and pepper. Staples of a Japanese meal, no?

But, like I said, it all got cooked and was tasty, so who am I to really complain? I don’t need ninja warrior guard wielding a sharp knife all up in my face to enjoy a meal. Just make sure my chicken isn’t questionable and won’t come back to haunt me later, please and thank you.

Tonight’s theme is things that are still partially on fire

See also, why I politely declined when the chef was looking for volunteers in his little “let me throw food at your face while you can wave around like a baby seal trying to catch it” game. Um, no thanks. I mean, that piece of shrimp launched at my face with a knife and spatula directly from a hot grill isn’t going to quench my appetite, thanks. I’ll just enjoy the food you already put on my plate.

There were a few takers, though. I think Shane was slightly disappointed he couldn’t try … but the guy was throwing around shrimp and there’s that whole lethal allergy thing. Ted tried and failed on more than one occasion. The girl at our table with the other party of three finally caught one. So it was pretty much one catch for like 10 attempts at our table. Clearly we’re gifted.

Keep the food on the table please

Speaking of allergies, the pair of ladies next to us (who ended up being a woman with her grown niece) bonded with our group – and in particular, me, since I was seated closest to them – after hearing of Shane’s affliction, since they said they are usually the ones at the table who have to give up that information. But I’m glad we made friends with them, as they are apparently regulars at this place. They gave us all the insider info:  which chefs to ask for, how to get the optimal amount of food to take home for another meal, which drinks to order, etc.

Fancy

I would share those tips here, but I kind of feel like you have to take your chances that you might sit next to these two on a random evening there and they can tell you themselves. Me telling you would ruin the fun. And trust me, a seat next to them is worthwhile, as they are hilarious.

I will share one tip, however … the yum yum sauce is the absolute bomb. If you take nothing away from this week’s post, it’s that if you go there you have to get two sides of this. And a to-go container to take home. I didn’t even have to order mine, since my new friend spoke up and got one for me when she ordered her own. New friends are amazing like that.

You may be familiar with this sauce (I’ve since spotted it at a grocery store, thus bursting my bubble that this was purely the restaurant’s own creation) but trying it at Hibachi was a first for me and Shane. If you’re out of the loop like us, it’s basically a mayo based sauce with a bit of a kick. And it’s delicious. As my new friend told me, she “puts that shit on everything.” I wonder if Red Hot would be proud she used their slogan?

Also of note: the pineapple sorbet that they serve at the end of the meal is definitely worth leaving some room in your belly for. It wasn’t too sugary sweet or overly fruity, but it was enough to give that little dessert touch to end the meal. I mean, it was no trip to the frozen yogurt place in Kent where the guys each made themselves three pound sundaes or anything like that, but it was definitely worth sticking around for after the to-go boxes were passed out.

I admit that this week it was nice to get away from the bar and grill train we’d been stuck on for a little bit now, and to try something different. The food was good, although my one gripe would be that I didn’t feel like there was a lot of meat in my meal. Next time I would go with a combination, like the chicken and shrimp or chicken and steak or something like that. What I boxed up to take home amounted to little more than basically fried rice and a few veggies, which won’t exactly make for an exciting leftover lunch.

It should be noted that Shane and Ted both finished their meals entirely, but Shane was incredibly uncomfortable on the drive home.

I definitely see us going back, although probably more for a celebration, special occasion of some sort, or maybe to take people from out of town or something like that. I don’t see it becoming a regular stop, either in our eating out mainstays or the WTGW order … unless, that is, we decide we want to give our new bffs some competition as regulars? That could prove to be an interesting endeavor. I’m not sure there’s enough yum yum sauce for that experience.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Shane

Ted

Hibachi Japan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 6/14/17: Crave Cantina, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

Wait, what, there’s a new taco joint in our backyard? Please, twist our arms to try this one.

Crave Cantina opened just a few weeks ago, a spinoff from the same owners of the Akron-based restaurant of close-to-the-same-name, Crave. We see what you did there, owners. The new Cantina is located in the old Firehouse restaurant on Front Street in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, which looks like a war zone now (note to ladies, heels may not be the best choice for navigating the walkway from any parking area to the front door, trust me on this one) but once the street renovation project is completed should be fabulous.

Speaking of parking, it took us a hot minute to find a lot and a spot – which of course caused us all to think there would be a wait for a table once we finally got into the restaurant. And the hostess didn’t help things much, as we’ve learned the hard way that being greeted with the question “do you have a reservation?” typically leads into the “well, unfortunately we currently have a wait until about 2025 if you don’t have a reservation” let down. Especially when a place is less than a month old.

But luck was on our side this evening, as our “no” to the reservation interrogation was followed with “OK, well follow me this way.” Yes, please. Gladly.

Also, it should be noted that we don’t do reservations for WTGW. Well, except if you’re Ted and you want to check out Gus’s Chalet. Just saying.

Our first observation after we were seated was that they definitely put some energy into changing the place up from its last incarnation as Firehouse. Let’s just say that our few experiences at that particular establishment were not good ones, so noticing that it was freshened up – and cleaned up – was a good sign. Although we did notice that the wall on the one side of the back area where we sat – which you’ll see in the pic of Ted later – looked a little like the street outside (maybe they’re waiting to match it to said street?), but other than that the place looks great.

Crave is also part of this new trend of “fancy” Mexican places, where instead of the generic menu-that-could-be-placed-at-any-Mexican-place-in-the-city-involving-dishes-made-from-a-combination-of-rice-and-beans-and-some-sort-of-corn-or-flour-shell-filled-item, everything is pretty much a la carte. Tacos with interesting fillings are individually purchased at $3 or $4 each, and then you can add sides if you like. There are a few entrees, and some intriguing appetizers, but the focus is more on creating combinations of your own than a standard menu.

Which also means … no free chips and salsa as soon as you sit down. This is one part of “fancy Mexican” I certainly can’t get behind.

Because of this, and the fact that (as usual) we were “hungry enough to eat the entire menu” as soon as we got there, Shane and I ordered the chips and quacamole as an app. We did the trio of three different guacs: traditional, mango, and charred corn.

Mix and match

Unfortunately it seems that we probably could’ve stuck with just one guac option, as they all tasted the same to us. And trust me, we tried really hard to make comparisons. But we honestly felt they were all extremely similar. Three bowls of green dip, with nothing much to distinguish one from the other. Well, OK, one had some chunks of mango on top. But if you closed your eyes and just did a taste test, it was very difficult to tell one from another. Also, chunks of corn are surprisingly similar to chunks of mango when placed in a green substance. Just an observation.

At least they brought us extra chips to help finish off the guac

Meanwhile, on the fancypants side of the table, Ted went with the Yellowtail Cerviche as an app. And yes, I had to consult the menu online before I typed that.

It apparently tastes better than it looks

He was far more pleased with his app than we were with ours. He gave it a thumbs up, saying that the sweet potatoes on top were tasty, and the nuts (at least that’s what he thought they were?) were a good contrast. And the dish as a whole was sweet.

You know, unlike other dishes we’ve had in the past.

Yes, I just made another Gus’s Chalet reference. It was that kind of night.

We also, of course, got margaritas. Or, at least Shane and I did – Ted made up for his highbrow appetizer by ordering a boring old beer. Boo. We shared a pitcher of passion fruit margaritas … which, strike two for us, I guess, as we weren’t thrilled with the flavor. The taste – what there was of it – was a bit tart. I probably wouldn’t go that route again.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, we still finished it. Please. But for next time we made a mental note that we should probably try something else from the drink menu. Maybe Ted was smart after all.

We also got this lovely bottle of water for the table.

Fancy water to go with the fancy food

This is awfully classy for a Wednesday night out, people. I mean, it has a cork in it. And it’s water.

Although Shane pointed out that if the bottle were plastic and not glass he would probably have thought they just recycled one of those old cheap vodka bottles with the built in handles on the sides. Point, Shane.

For meals, Ted again got something I can’t pronounce or spell, so let me consult the online menu … Pollo la Braza. Which I think must translate into “entire chicken on a bed of fried plantains.” And also without flavor, according to Ted. He said he expected it to be spicier, but if was almost like just a rotisserie chicken with rosemary flavor. And the fried plantains (wait, that’s what we were calling them all night … but it turns out after I look at the online menu those were actually yucca fries. Are they the same thing? I took German in high school, folks. Spanish is lost on me) Anyway, those were good as long as you used the sauce on the plate to dip them in. He definitely preferred his appetizer over the main dish.

Here’s your half a chicken, sir

Shane and I went the taco route. I got three total – although in retrospect I should’ve only gotten two. When we asked how big the tacos were – because at these places they can be anything from two bites to the size of a frisbee – the server told us they were about as big in diameter as one of the small plates on the table.

So either she was off on her comparison, or – more likely – I was using hangry eyes when I ordered, because the tacos we got seemed far bigger than the size of those dishes. Bigger is better? No?

In any case, I chose the chicken, the chorizo and the ground beef.

I was too hungry to note which was which. Sorry.

Shane was in the same bottomless pit of hunger boat as me, and got five total – two brisket, one chorizo, one buttermilk fried chicken and one flank steak.

Come hungry, leave happy. Wait, wrong restaurant.

I also got a completely unnecessary side of rice. Because, again, eyes bigger than stomach. I should also point out that this side was the one and only thing that I could probably walk into any Mexican place and obtain. So I wasn’t really missing out on much by not finishing that.

Extra food. Because we never have that at our table.

I liked all of my tacos. The chicken one had good flavor all around, but the other two got most of their flavor from the sauces and not the meat. That being said, I would still order them all again, but I would also really like to try some others on the menu.

Shane adamantly disagreed with me about the chorizo. He thought it was lacking in flavor overall. He thought the buttermilk fried chicken and the flank steak were the best of his – he said would’ve been happy with just those two and maybe one more as far as being full, but definitely those two in terms of flavor. The others were a disappointment in comparison.

Thus followed a conversation about the merits of eating the best food first versus last – as Shane had eaten his two best tacos first, since those were the ones he was the least sure about and thought he would like least, and then was stuck with the actual least liked ones to finish things out. See also: why I’m prone to taking a bite of each and then deciding what order to eat them in. Don’t judge.

Overall Crave Cantina is a decent place. The service was good, although we think our server may have been new to the business since she was a bit timid (I mean, come on, even though we were hungry we’re not that intimidating … usually …) but she was still OK. And while we were a bit hit and miss on our meals and drinks … the concept and the space (and the fact that they’re kind of still getting their feet wet at this location) are enough to make us want to come back and try out some different things on the menu that we passed up this time around. It reminded us of places like Bomba in Fairlawn or Barrio in downtown Cleveland, where the tacos are all interesting and different and you want to try them all since they’re all only a few dollars each. Frugal + options = a thumbs up in our group.

Shane

Steph

Ted. And I wonder if they’re taking suggestions on what to do with that wall?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Crave Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 12/7/16: Tim’s Pizzeria & Pub, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

Wait, what’s this, two places in a row in our own backyard we haven’t been to yet? It’s like Christmas.

Also, we seem to be on an Italian kick now. First two weeks of Irish, now our second week of Italian. We seem to like themes all of a sudden.

Truth be told, unlike last week’s pick, we’ve probably driven past Tim’s Pizzeria about 4 billion times, and Shane has usually been the one to exclaim that eventually he was going to pick it. But it also looks just a tad on the sketchy side from the outside, so he was a little wary. I mean, it kind of looks like a house.

Although if you’ve been reading this blog then you know that’s actually right up Shane’s alley. And you also know that that’s burned us in the past (*ahem* that place in Solon *ahem*) so he has to be careful not to become labeled as the guy who picks crappy house diners.

Good thing this pick was nothing like that.

Our group was back to a threesome this week, as Amanda wasn’t feeling well and Jerrid decided to sit this week out. Welcome to winter and cold season in NEOhio.

We started out with dark beers for Shane and Ted – Guinness and Breckenridge Vanilla Porter – and Angry Orchard for me. There’s not a huge beer selection at Tim’s. But Shane loved the glasses, which seemed to spin on the table, so I guess that makes up for it?

Yes, he’s 12.

The place is known for its pizza. Bet you couldn’t guess that from the name, right? So of course pizza connoisseur Shane had to try that. But only after quizzing the server on the eggplant parm and if it was better than the specialty pizza he had in mind to order – the stuffed banana pepper pizza. She said both choices were good, but the pizza was one of their unique specialties.

Sold.

He also got calamari as an app. Because, Shane.

if it's on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

if it’s on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

I stuck to the same pattern as last week, rigatoni. But this time it was baked, which is really just code for “loaded with cheese.”

You’re speaking my language, Tim’s.

Plus I just like to gross Ted.

It also came with a bowl-of-cheese-they-call-a-salad (I’m pretty sure I could get used to these Italian places and their definition of healthy foods) and bread.

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

And I ordered an app of fried mushrooms. Because, me. And also because they were $2.95. I mean, how can you not?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, Ted got a little smorgasbord all for himself. He said he wanted to try a bunch of different things and couldn’t decide between them.

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

So he got a 4-cut pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. And the ravioli. And to his credit, he originally only wanted to order six of the garlic hot wings (because we’ve already established that someone has to order wings – I mean, why stop the streak now?) but the server told him that they only come in orders of 10. So he was like what the hell, go with it.

Such a team player.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Our server also got huge props, as we were doing our usual joking with Ted about his dislike of cheese, and the server piped in and offered to make his pizza without it. Wait, what? You can do that? Is it still technically a pizza without cheese?

So that's what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It's so ... naked.

So that’s what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It’s so … naked.

I’m so confused.

But Ted was super happy, so that’s all that matters.

The calamari was good, just not very flavorful. The mushrooms ended up being the big hit of the appetizer portion of the meal, though. I mean, Shane even really liked them – and he normally likes mushrooms the least of any fried veggie.

Deep fried deliciousness

Deep fried deliciousness

Ted said his pizza was good. And so were the wings. But the ravioli as just OK, he said it kinda tasted store bought. Probably could’ve done without that part of his meal, if he had to pick one thing on his whole side of the table to get rid of.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

Shane was in love with his stuffed banana pepper pizza. Like so in love that I almost got jealous. He said it was a great concept, definitely unique and super tasty. The crust was good, light but crispy. And the peppers were spicy … so, you know it’s a good thing he added more crushed red pepper before he even tasted it.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

The extra red peppers were actually Ted’s suggestion. Clearly he cares a lot about Shane.

The baked rigatoni was delicious. Worlds above last week’s pasta dish. It had good sauce and flavor, wasn’t over cooked – and the crap-ton of cheese certainly didn’t suck either. In fact, word of warning, I burned my tongue on the very first bite, as I couldn’t wait to dig in and forgot about all the heat that lives under that layer of cheese. But honestly I didn’t care. It was too delicious to wait.

This is like heaven

This is like heaven

Overall, Tim’s is a great spot. It had a really good atmosphere, they were playing fun older music – and it seemed like the crowd were a mix of a lot of regulars and a few newbies like us, but yet no one made us feel like we didn’t belong there. We also saw lots of carry out orders being picked up, so that’s something I think we all filed away for later use. We also noticed a sign on the wall that they’ll be having a Christmas party in a few weeks – on a Wednesday, no less, so that seems like it was made for us. We might have to hijack that WTGW pick and come back in for that one. But even if not then, we’ll definitely be back.

I mean, you can only keep Shane away from his new love for so long, right?

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Tim's Pizzeria & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 11/30/16: Retz’s Laconis, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

Watch out, after two weeks of Irish food we’re breaking our streak and moving on to a different ethnicity … Italian.

And we all laugh as we watch Ted’s face as he attempts to avoid cheese pitfalls. Oh the fun!

So I have to ask, for real, where has this place been these past three years? I mean, I thought we’d exhausted pretty much every bar/restaurant in our own little town – hence why we sometimes travel up to 40 minutes away for a new pick. Meanwhile little did we know Retz’s Laconis was lurking on some side street we’ve apparently never ventured down before. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle of WTGW.

Hmm.

Adding to that theory, Shane and I parked outside in the back lot, next to a particularly shady Suburban that both of us were fairly certain someone was living in. But it was gone when we came out later in the evening, so I guess not. Unless it was swallowed by the Triangle?

You never know.

Also seemingly lost: the front door. When a building is on a corner, it’s helpful to label the appropriate front side so you know which door to enter. We chose the first door we saw, a not very well labeled one which fortunately for us led directly into the bar where Jerrid, Amanda and Ted were waiting. We chose wisely. Had we picked door #2 around the corner we would’ve ended up in the dining room. I only know this because several people entered through the bar door looking to do the opposite of what we did. They were not as wise.

Amanda and Jerrid were there way early (surprise!) and had ordered the bacon ranch pizza as an app. They left us a few pieces to try, and we all agreed it was OK. The crust seemed like a frozen crust, not fresh made. And it was also a little too ranch-y – and, yes, smartasses, we know the name of the dish – but let’s just say the ranch overpowered the bacon. And bacon should never be second fiddle, am I right?

This appetizer didn't look like this by the time Shane and I arrived

This appetizer didn’t look like this by the time Shane and I arrived

But when you’re hungry, it did the trick, so there’s that.

Salads came with mine, Shane and Amanda’s meals, so naturally those arrived at our table first. Although let’s be clear, by “salad” we really just mean a pile of cheese with some lettuce underneath.

This has to be the most nutritious salad ever

This has to be the most nutritious salad ever

See also: Ted’s nightmare.

I got the rigatoni with meat sauce and meatballs.

Pasta, take one

Pasta, take one

Amanda got the baked cheese ravioli.

Pasta, take two

Pasta, take two

Shane got the eggplant parm, after his interrogation of the server revealed that it’s actually rolled in ricotta cheese and deep fried. Bingo! That’s like saying the secret password to Shane. Because deep frying anything can only make it better, right?

Exactly.

This is probably even healthier than that salad, no?

This is probably even healthier than that salad, no?

He also got an order of the garlic parm wings, because we can’t seem to go a week without someone ordering wings at our table.

Wings. What a surprise.

Wings. What a surprise.

He then also tried to order another app until I made fun of him.

Me: “And I’ll also take the whole left hand side of the menu please.”
Shane: “Never mind, I’m good.”

Ted got the acid wings. Because that sounds appetizing, no? And also a burger with no cheese. Because who cares that we’re at an Italian place. You know when you see items like that on the menu and think “who comes to an Italian place and orders a burger and wings?”

Ted. Ted does.

That's the most Italian looking hamburger I've ever seen.

That’s the most Italian looking hamburger I’ve ever seen.

Non-acidic wings

Non-acidic wings

Along those same lines, Jerrid got the dark chicken meal. Pasta is clearly overrated. See also: why all of our meals took forever to arrive. It’s like New Era all over again.

Where are we again?

Where are we again?

About this time when we were ordering we also noticed our server’s t-shirt, that boasted the place has the “best balls in the Falls.” Clever.

Unfortunately, though, I have to disagree. I thought my meatballs had absolutely zero taste. Same for my rigatoni. Maybe my taste buds took the night off, although the cheese on the salad and the bread tasted OK to me. As did the crap-ton of crushed red pepper and parm cheese that I added to the pasta. But the pasta and meat, no flavor whatsoever. Boo.

Ted said his acid wings were not overly hot. He may be the only person to ever say that. Maybe his taste buds were on strike along with mine.

He only ate his wings and fries, didn’t even touch his burger because he was too full. Which seemed odd until Jerrid pointed out Ted did have two Christmas Ales, so that was kind of like having another meal all in itself.

Point taken.

Jerrid liked the chicken, said it was better than New Era. And Amanda liked her raviloi.

Shane didn’t eat his wings because he was too full. Maybe he and Ted should stop ordering basically two entrees? Just an idea. But he did try one, though – I think mainly to see if he should even bother with the to-go box – and said it was good. He said the eggplant parm was “different, but OK.”

Overall Retz’s is an OK place for a little neighborhood restaurant and bar. The bar area is pretty small, so it’s gets a little crowded – but never so much that you feel like strangers are about to seat themselves at your table and start helping themselves to your food. Our server was good and attentive for the most part, the exception being when Amanda tried about 10 times unsuccessfully to get herself a water. But then Jerrid asked and it was delivered in a second. So I guess the moral is that if you’re female and ordering something non-alcoholic you might want to be prepared to wait a bit. Interesting.

Picked by: Jerrid
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Retz's Laconi's II Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato