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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

WTGW 12/17/14: Craft Beer Bar, Cuyahoga Falls

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I’m still amazed when we find places in our tiny town of Cuyahoga Falls that we haven’t been to yet. Although Craft Beer Bar kind of gets a pass, since it just opened a few months ago. That’s the idea people. Keep opening new restaurants so we have new places to try without driving far. I like your style.

Craft is located near downtown, over by The Office. I have to admit that this winter excursion was better than our trip to the latter in the snow last year, but the parking situation was eerily similar. Seriously, do we not believe in surface lots in this part of the city? Let’s just open a restaurant and they’ll figure out where to park later. Good plan.

Craft is a relatively small-ish space, but didn’t feel as cramped as some of those we’ve visited recently. To put it in perspective, I think both Frank’s and Larry’s could fit inside this place. (That it not a sentence to be taken out of context, btw.) Loved the exposed brick and the lighting elements, they really made the place feel homey in a trendy sort of way. I think the word for that these days is “hipster,” am I correct? As in, there were also lots of beards, scarves and glasses seated at other tables around us. Also, at one point the Lumineers song “Hey Ho” came on the background music, and Shane commented that he could “totally see this place having this song on a consecutive loop all night long.” For what it’s worth.

Exposed brick will get me every time

Exposed brick will get me every time

Beer lists on chalkboards are way cool

Beer lists on chalkboards are way cool

Anyway.

The purpose of the place is – you guessed it – craft beers. Shocker, I know. And also keeping with the hipster theme. So obviously they have a pretty impressive – and ever changing – beer list. Although they do also have cans of Bud, Bud Light and Yuelingling for those completely opposed to trying something new. I’m happy to report that we actually were not one of those tables this time around. Another shocker.

Amanda and Shane had the cider (Shane diverted in one round to the Bells Winter White but then went back to his original choice – because, well, he was not a fan). I went with the Bells Winter White at first, later trying the Ommegang Witte. And Ted was all over the board with the things we thought sounded great on the menu but he knew that we wouldn’t want to drink (Obsidian, anyone?). Because, well, Ted. This was kind of his own person mecca in some ways.

Seriously, though, can we just talk for a minute about the person who writes these beer descriptions? Some of these sounded deliciously refreshing on paper … and then when they arrive it’s like a meal in a glass. “Warm and nutty with a hint of caramel and nutmeg” sounds fantastic until it arrives and has a color darker than strong coffee and the consistency of oatmeal.

Props to our server, who was patient with us when we weren’t sure what we wanted, and tried his best to suggest what “I-typically-stick-to-Miller-Lite” Shane might like, as well as bring samples of things we thought sounded good but then were glad we didn’t have to finish an entire glass of afterwards (see above paragraph). To be honest, though, Craft really needs a bigger staff to accommodate for other tables like ours – it’s not a “take your order and bring it over” kind of place, you need more time for questions and dialog, and unfortunately that means other tables get left alone for a bit longer than one would like at times.

Now let’s talk food.

Craft doesn’t have a huge menu, but definitely enough for all different pallets. Shane and I started with the Bacon Queso Dip as an app, which was very tasty. I mean, because bacon. And cheese. How can you go wrong?

The dish was a lot fuller when it arrived. Bacon and cheese don't last long with us.

The dish was a lot fuller when it arrived. Bacon and cheese don’t last long with us.

Well, unless you’re Ted, who of course hates cheese. He went a different route, and started with the salmon cakes – which he dubbed “like crab cakes but a cheap knock off.” He liked the pineapple tarter sauce, saying it was very unique.

"Cheap Crab Cakes"

“Cheap Crab Cakes”

For his meal Ted had the meatball sub that all of us eyed up on the menu at one point or another. He said the sauce was too sweet for him … which meant it actually would’ve been perfect for Shane, ironically. Ted said it was good but just not really his style, he wanted a spicier sauce.

Yes, I believe he did pick all of that cheese off

Yes, I believe he did pick all of that cheese off

In keeping with their identical drink orders, Shane and Amanda both had the brisket sandwich. It’s huge. Like size of your head huge. So huge that Shane – while he finished the chips that came with it – didn’t finish the side order of parmesan garlic fries he also ordered. Trust me, we were all as shocked as you are.

She should've put her head next to it for a true comparison

She should’ve put her head next to it for a true comparison

Uneaten fries. A rarity for sure.

Uneaten fries. A rarity for sure.

It should also be noted that sandwiches come with a pickle – but “it can’t compare to Moe’s pickle.” Cue “that’s what she said” jokes.

I had the Barbacoa Tacos, which were very good. The sauce was spicy but not overwhelmingly so (you know right now you’re envisioning that AT&T commerical with the “I like it spicy but not errrrr spicy” guy, am I right? Go ahead, google it, we’ll wait.). I could have done without the Spanish rice that comes with it, though, as that didn’t really add anything to the dish. I mean, I still ate it – but it wasn’t really the best part of the meal or anything.

Fancy tacos

Fancy tacos

It should be noted that, for about the 85th consecutive week, we found some way to reference Gus’ Chalet at some point in the meal. It’s just a matter of principle now. That place may be closed, but we definitely keep the memory alive, yo.

Overall Craft is a good place, although the beer prices make it a bit pricier than our last few WTGW stops. But it’s well worth it in my opinion, and would be a great new place to meet up with friends or even just stop for a beer or two. Shane was a little more on the fence, but I think he was just being picky. Maybe if we dress him in full out hipster garb next time he’ll feel change his opinion.

Ted

Ted

 

 

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph
Drinks:  If you don’t like craft beers you’re kind of out of luck. But then again you probably already know that. See also: obvious restaurant titles.
Food:
Good. The menu is small but mighty.
Service: A little slow, but that might’ve been more the fault of the scheduling than the actual staff. At least our server was patient with us when it came to our beer ignorances.
Overall: Since Ted is a) a craft beer junkie and b) almost in walking distance of the place, I think he’ll be back for sure … but I could see the rest of us stopping back in as well.

Next Pick: Amanda (although we’ll be on hiatus until 2015 – as much as we love you WTGW, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are not the best nights for outings)

Craft Beer Bar on Urbanspoon

 

WTGW 12/3/14: Moe’s, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

It seems we’ve started a trend here of hitting all the “named” restaurants in the Akron area. First there was Frank’s. Then Larry’s. And now Moe’s. Can someone please open a Curly’s in the next few weeks? For reals.

So, I’m not exactly sure how or why, in the past 17 months of WTGW, we’ve somehow continuously overlooked Moe’s. We may have been under the impression it was too expensive. And honestly, at first glance of the menu, the dinners are a bit on the pricey side. But the sandwiches and salads are definitely reasonable, and no different really from what we’ve paid at other bars/taverns around town.

And it turns out Moe’s is well worth every penny.

Being that this was Ted’s pick, he took the liberty of making a reservation. Which kind of scared us a little, since the last time he made a reservation for a WTGW pick it turned out to be disastrous (*ahem* Gus’s Chalet *ahem*). Turns out reservations are highly recommended at Moe’s, as even on a Wednesday night the place was packed. Particularly on the bar side where we wanted to sit.

That being said, it took a minute for the waiter to come over to greet us. But we quickly forgave him when he very kindly and humorously explained that he had just had about 15 people sit in his section at nearly the exact same time, and he was sorry for not getting to us sooner. We explained that we didn’t even have our drink orders situated yet, and he seemed grateful for the chance to come back.

We liked him immediately. More on that later.

The drink menu was pretty decent, especially if you like seasonal craft beers and local varieties. And wine or martinis, but we didn’t go down that rabbit hole this evening. Amanda chose Blue Moon, I went with Breckenridge Agave Wheat, and Ted started out with Breckenridge Vanilla Porter and then went to a Christmas Ale by the last round. Not to be outdone by any of us, Shane went with … Miller Lite. He’s a man of routine, what can I say.

When the drinks came up, our server apologized profusely for not having any chilled glasses for them, as apparently they were all in use at the time. Please. We’re not picky, we can drink from bottles. He did get huge props for scrounging one up for Ted’s Christmas Ale in our last round, though.

Classy beer

Classy beer

We opted out of ordering appetizers for the table, although the boys went ahead with starter plates for themselves. Shane strangely and for no good reason reverted back to his “moderately healthy” self and started himself off with the half wedge salad. Which was plenty enough for a first course, and he seemed to like it. Ted, meanwhile, went straight for what Amanda or I would’ve considered … well … our actual meal, and ordered the pretzel bun burger sliders. He was impressed. The onion straws (which looked like plain onions from my vantage point, but turns out they were very lightly breaded) were a bit overwhelming, but lucky for him they were easy to remove.

Ted's mini-meal appetizer

Ted’s mini-meal appetizer

See also: how to make a salad unhealthy

See also: how to make a salad unhealthy

Our server brought a basket of bread to the table while we waited for our entrees, and we promptly devoured it. Because, well, we do love our carbs. And also because it came with delicious butter, which our server explained to us was made fresh daily (along with several other condiments and sides). He apparently created that particular butter blend himself, and included lots of garlic and parmesan. Did I mention it delicious? If this guy ever decides he wants to leave Moe’s he should take that recipe with him and start a butter making business on the side.

(Sidenote: he was also kind enough to tell us that “since this looks like date night, there are mints in the foyer on your way out.” And then was even kinder to be genuinely embarrassed when Amanda told him that she and Ted actually weren’t a couple. Whoops.)

Meals were steak Caesar wraps on one side of the table (Ted and Amanda) and Italian subs on the other (me and Shane). All of which was delicious. The steak was what Amanda called “some of the best she’s ever had.” The Italian subs were generously portioned but not overwhelming for a meal.

The view from the wrap side of the table

The view from the wrap side of the table

We all got the fresh made chips as sides for our sandwiches, and when I asked for a special side of the parmesan peppercorn dipping sauce that comes with the chips when ordered as an appetizer, our server said that he would just bring a large dish of it for all of us to share. Let me tell you, that dip in and of itself is reason enough for a return visit to Moe’s. I think we were all secretly reverse rationing our chips so as to make sure we weren’t the ones to end up on the empty side of the dip dish.

Not that the chips alone were a bad thing. To quote Shane: “They’re like potato flavored M&Ms – they melt in my mouth.” Put that on your menu, Moe’s. I mean, really. And is there any way we can somehow match these chips up with the “meat flavored cotton candy” that was Teschner’s steak on a stick from a few weeks ago? (Thank you to Ted for that little gem also. We’re here all week people. *drops mic*)

Another takeaway from Shane’s review, this time on he pickle that accompanied the sandwiches: “It’s an unusually tender pickle.” He’s on fire tonight, folks. (But don’t repeat that little gem out of context.)

Unusually tender pickles. If I ever have a band that will so be the name of it.

Unusually tender pickles. If I ever have a band that will so be the name of it.

We were too full to order desserts at the end of the meal, but we appreciated the server coming over to tell us about them, and for doing so with such enthusiasm that I think we all felt genuinely disappointed that we couldn’t order anything. He started out the pitch with “I’m a no pressure sales guy, but let me just tell you what we have.” And seriously, I don’t even like bread pudding, but by the end of the list I was ready to order the cherry kind that they were featuring.

(We joked that he probably sells cars at the lot outside Moe’s on his lunch break, that’s how good of a “no pressure” sales guy he is. Seriously, between that and the butter thing, if he ever leaves this place he’s certainly got some lines on useful skills for outstanding job prospects.)

Speaking of our server, if we have one regret from the evening, it’s that we didn’t get him name so that we could give him a shout out here. I thought maybe Jim? Amanda said it definitely wasn’t Michael. Matthew maybe? Our recepit just says “server #11.” Clearly we need to learn to pay better attention. Rats.

In any case, he was by far one of the absolute best attributes of our experience at Moe’s. In fact, at one point we had a serious conversation about how we could go about asking him to be our friend outside of this evening, without being the creepy stalker table that’s asked to leave before they finish their last round (“How do you approach someone? Tell them we’re currently accepting applications to be a part of our friend group? Or we’re not trying to pick you up for some weird sex thing, we truly just like you as a friend? See – it’s not like when you’re five years old and meet your BFF just from sharing a box of crayons!”) In all honesty, the guy was knowledgeable without being presumptuous or overbearing, funny without trying too hard, and just all around likable. You can tell he’s not just doing this for extra cash – he truly likes what he does and where he works. Or he’s studying to be an actor on the side, and in which case he’s got a promising future.

(Just like Shane has a promising future in torn bottle label art. But that’s neither here nor there.)

Beer label artwork. Trust me, it's going to catch on

Beer label artwork. Trust me, it’s going to catch on

WILSON!!

WILSON!!

Overall, Moe’s is a real find, and definitely one of our WTGW favorites. We were thoroughly impressed with everything, from the service to the food to the atmosphere in general. For once Ted gets a certifiable “W” with his pick. We’ll definitely be back.

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

Thumbs (or in this case, fingers?) up

Thumbs (or in this case, fingers?) up

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks:  Impressive craft beer, wine and martini list. 
Food:
Moe’s will go down in history as the place that prompted the phrases “potato flavored M&Ms” and “unusually tender pickles.” And those are both good things.
Service: Outstanding. “Server #11” we will definitely ask for you next time.
Overall: Thumbs up all around.

Next Pick: Shane

Moe's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

WTGW 8/27/14: Darby’s on 59, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

And for once, the heavens smiled down on the WTGW crew, and we were given a nice evening for a patio dinner.

Wait, what? Can that really be true?

Yes, for once Mother Nature decided to not be an absolute whore, and actually saved the torrential downpours and/or 60 degree temperatures for another night of the week. Trust me, we were as shocked as you likely are. And to think it only took until literally the last week of August for that to happen this summer. Believe me when I say with the utmost sarcasm that Ohio summers are awesome.

Darby’s on 59 is one of those places that we’ve driven by since about last summer, always noticing the green awnings on the patio with the cute lights strung across, and for a while honestly just thought it was someone’s house that really, really likes to entertain. Especially since it, well, I think it actually did used to be someone’s house at one time. The brick structure with the front porch and paved walkway doesn’t exactly scream “we cook meals for the public here” – and I think for a while it either didn’t have a sign out front or I completely missed it on several occasions. Either of those scenerios is 100% possible.

Oh, excuse us, can we come in for dinner?

Oh, excuse us, can we come in for dinner?

Anyway, we were a party of three for this week’s WTGW, thanks to Amanda’s late day appointment for a tire replacement – which turned into a brake job – which turned into “it’s 8PM and I’m tired and poor so I’m just going home.” Stupid cars.

Speaking of cars, I have to admit we were a bit worried walking into the place, because the amount of cars in the parking lot seemed to spell trouble in terms of us getting a table. But upon walking in it seemed that pretty much we were the only people who carpooled there, because there were way more available tables for the amount of cars out there. Do people just park there and walk around the block? Are half of those leftover cars from drunken Tuesday adventures? I’m so confused.

We were also slightly confused with the seat yourself vs. wait protocol when we walked in, since there’s no signage to tell you one way or the other. And not even a waitress to yell at you to take any open table, like in a few of the classy establishments we’ve visited. I never thought I would miss that welcoming entrance.

Ted, Shane and I kind of lingered in the doorway for a few minutes with what I can only assume were looks of lost puppy dogs on our faces before one of the bartenders finally walked over and instructed us to sit anywhere. We fessed up that actually we were looking for the door to the back patio, which he pointed out was in the back corner. And when I say corner, I mean that literally. It’s pretty much right behind a server’s station, and three people had to kind of wedge themselves up against the wall for us to pass through. I don’t think any of us were ever so grateful for fresh air.

This is what summer evenings should look like

This is what summer evenings should look like

Luckily the patio wasn’t super busy either (seriously, who do all those cars belong to??) so we grabbed a table in the back corner. Where I think we then became invisible to the staff. Or maybe they were all just stuck in the doorway to the patio. Whatevs.

In any case, when we were finally able to put in our drink order, Shane went with a Stella, and Ted and I both opted for the Fat Head’s Bumbleberry … which we then had to change a few minutes later when the server came back to tell us the keg had just blown. Because of course it did – this is our group after all, and we’d had a fairly good run this summer.

So I instead chose a summer wheat, and Ted went with an IPA … although I guess the server didn’t much care what Ted wanted, because when he returned he instead had two glasses that looked eerily similar. Hmmm. Ted took one sip and – much like the infamous “it has to be sweet” comment at Gus’ Chalet – declared that was definitely not an IPA. Unfortunately it was another hot minute before we saw the server to let him know this – and Ted being Ted, he managed to finish about half the glass in that time (hey, he was thirsty) – but Ted did mention then that his beer “oddly doesn’t taste like an IPA,” and was apologized to and brought the correct beer at that time.  Although Shane noted that Ted may want to check for some extra saliva in it before he took the first sip.

IPA vs Summer Wheat. Definitely not interchangeable.

IPA vs Summer Wheat. Definitely not interchangeable.

We ordered the pub chips for appetizer, which turned out to be really good. Crispy without being overcooked, and sprinkled with just the right amount of salt, parmesan and garlic. The dip was a little thin for my taste, but honestly the chips had enough taste for me that I didn’t even need the side dip.

Basket of deliciousness

Basket of deliciousness

I ordered the tequila lime chicken wrap, which was good. The spicy mayo made it. I got roasted fingerling potatoes as my side, which were also good but I did wonder why half of them were yellow and half blue. I ate them regardless … but I at least had the common sense to wonder about it first.

Seriously, should I be worried about the color of the potatoes?

Seriously, should I be worried about the color of the potatoes?

Ted had the swordfish tacos. He also ordered one of the filet mignon sliders, because why not. As he said “I’ve never seen steak offered on a slider before, so I figure I should try it.” He’s kind of like Mikey in that respect. Unfortunately it wasn’t the greatest thing ever. He said everything was OK, but nothing special. Boo. But at least it sounds impressive I guess.

Ted's side of the table

Ted’s side of the table

Shane had the jalepeno burger, which be ordered medium to rare and was served well done. He seems to have this problem a lot, so, again, why even ask. He did say that his favorite things about the meal were his fries, and the appetizer chips. So basically as far as Shane’s review is concerned anything made with salt and potatoes was really, really good here.

Definitely NOT Ted's burger

Definitely NOT Ted’s burger

The atmosphere on the patio was great. Once the sun went down they lit the fire rocks on one of the nearby tables, which was a great touch. While I will admit we got sucked into the conversation of the obvious ladies night group that was throwing back the drinks next to us, it was still a very inviting atmosphere to sit outside and enjoy the evening. I’m not sure that we’d return once the weather turns, though, as just walking through the interior of the restaurant to get to the restroom made me a bit claustrophobic. Maybe they need to take up some of that parking lot space and build an addition. Seriously.

We really need those lights for our patio at home

We really need those lights for our patio at home

Darby's on 59CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph
Drinks: Nice mix of craft and domestic beers in bottles. The taps are all rotating craft beers, which can be good or bad depending on how you view those. Impressive wine and martini list as well. 
Food:
OK. The menu is about as large as the place, so there aren’t a ton of choices – but enough variety to please a group.
Service: A bit slow, which seemed odd considering there were a lot of people behind the bar when we walked in, and not a lot of tables or patrons in the place.
Overall: Good place for patio drinks and summer evenings hanging with friends. And I saw flyers advertising bands – which I hope to God are outside because I think a drum kit would take up half the restaurant – but that would be a fun vibe outside as well.

Next Pick: Amanda

Darby's on Urbanspoon