WTGW 3/16/16: Foster’s Tavern, Hinckley

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead
Standard

Twas the night before St. Patrick’s Day, and we ended up at … well, not a Irish place. Because it’s not St. Patricks’s Day yet. Try to follow along here kids.

Although when I texted Ted the name of Shane’s pick for this week, his comment was “Fosters? Is that Australian for bar?” Good memory of 90’s alcohol commercials, Ted.

My comment back was that I just hoped it was American for “we have alcohol and good food.”

We really don’t ask for much. I mean, come on.

Anyway, as I mentioned it was Shane’s pick this week, so of course that explains why we’re back in his new favorite town of Hinckley. Because if any of us pick a place there I think he might challenge us to a duel over it, medieval times style. I will say that at least arriving in town during the daylight hours didn’t make it seem quite as scary as the last time we ventured there.Thanks, daylight savings time.

And as long as we’re checking items off the Shane “Must Have” checklist … we also think this place was a house at one time. Seriously, how does he find these places? Its like he plugs variables into a Google search: Is it a house? Is it in Hinckley? Does it get it somewhat questionable reviews? Awesome, I’ll pick it.

Amanda and Jerrid got there first, settled in at a table in the bar and ordered the fried mushrooms as an app. Before we even got there Jerrid was texting Shane pictures of the appetizer. Because it was like $7 for the app, which turned out to be like six mushrooms. Ok, maybe seven – at most. Let’s just say it filled a small appetizer plate, if that tells you anything. And for that price, it makes the mushrooms like a dollar a piece. Now I mean, I’m no vegetable expert or anything, but I’ve seen what a container of mushrooms sells for in the grocery store, and that’s a hell of a markup. Unless the breading made from shredded up $100 bills and gold shavings, which is highly doubtful.

Anyway.

So the first thing I noticed when we arrived at our table was that there was a beer cooler conveniently located directly behind our table – and, more appropriately, my seat at the table. Like an actual refrigerator sized, sliding glass cooler. That actually opened, was unlocked, and functioned as one of two working beer coolers for the bar. Two things about this: 1) seems an odd placement being that far away from the bartender, and 2) so, serve yourself, then? Score!

It's like having a drive thru inside the restaurant

It’s like having a drive thru inside the restaurant

OK, so the server actually did come over and take our beer orders. But at least she didn’t have far to go to bring them over to us. And FYI, Summer Shandy is out already, folks. ‘Tis the season.

Ted got the mussels as an app. Jerrid and Amanda immediately high-fived when he ordered, as they had talked amongst themselves when they saw mussels on the menu that that’s what Ted would choose.

I like that we’ve reached the point in our adventures that we’re running sideboards on the predictability of our menu choices.

Although if those are the rules we’re playing by then I’m slightly disappointed that no one cheered when Shane and I got the cheese sticks. I mean, come on. Something fried with cheese? It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Side note on the cheese sticks: they must use the same breading on those as the mushrooms, because that order was also $7 for like six sticks. I’m seeing a pattern here. Hmm.

Cheese sticks breaded in shaved gold?

Cheese sticks breaded in shaved gold?

The mussels were super garlicky. Like more so than the pizza at Brick Oven – which may now be the standard by which we rate all things garlic. You could smell the garlic on the mussels as the dish was being set on the table, and actually see the minced pieces of garlic in the sauce and over the shells. It was honestly a bit much for me – I tried two of them and couldn’t stomach any more.

Can we get some mussels with this garlic please?

Can we get some mussels with this garlic please?

Ted, on the other hand, loved them. He ate them up like he hadn’t touched food in about a week and a half. And then stacked the shells very neatly.

Mussels with a side of OCD please

Mussels with a side of OCD please

Shane – OK Rain Man, nice job.

But even though Ted was really the only one to consume more than two or four mussels, our vampire-safe status was solidified when the server came back to grab the (what she thought was empty) dish … and proceeded to tip it way too far to one side and cover the table in garlic juice. Because that creates an attractive smell. She apologized profusely while she cleaned it up … although my take on it was that really she just saved all of us from DUIs since if we were to get pulled over we’d certainly smell more of garlic than beer.

Once again, score.

Oh, hey, speaking of which … remember that whole how-great-would-it-be-to-just-help-yourself-to-the-beer-cooler thing? Well we joked about it to the server, and she was like “yeah, that’s fine, just let me know what you take.” Um, OK. Of course we took her up on that. Jerrid and I both took turns getting rounds out of the cooler throughout the course of the night.

There’s something about getting up from your seat and announcing “I’m getting another beer, anyone need anything?” as you place your hand on on the cooler door that just makes you feel right at home. In a bar. That used to be a house.

Right.

Shane and I both got burgers for our meals. The burgers at Foster’s can be either half pound or full pound patties, and they’re fresh made. The only difference in our orders was the toppings (lettuce, tomato, mushroom and swiss for me, and mushroom, onion and swiss for Shane) and the way we had them cooked (pink for him, not so pink for me). We were both impressed that our server managed to remember everything – correctly – without writing it down. Nice.

Because if you can't have garlic, onions are the next best thing

Because if you can’t have garlic, onions are the next best thing

Sorry, Ted, but all that cheese just looks delicious

Sorry, Ted, but all that cheese just looks delicious

We were definitely not disappointed, either. The burgers at Foster’s are great. They are definitely fresh made and cooked to order, as evidenced here:

Rare burger. Otherwise known as, could possibly still be alive.

Rare burger. Otherwise known as, could possibly still be alive.

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead

We each got the half pound burgers, and each of them were huge. Which means I can’t even imagine what trying to eat the full pound burger that they offer must be like. I mean, beyond the obvious “well, imagine eating twice the burger you had in your hand.” … seriously, it’s like here’s your side of cow on a bun, enjoy? I have to imagine it’s probably something close to what we experienced at the Caddyshack Inn down the road a few weeks ago, that’s about the best I can come up with.

Hinckley – home of the massive hamburgers. Who says a town doesn’t need a tagline?

Amanda got the steak sandwich on the warm pretzel bun. She said the bun was what sold her on it, since she had actually just had steak for dinner the night before and wasn’t overly crazy about eating it again. Just goes to show you that pretzel buns are charming little m-fers.

You had me at "pretzel bun"

You had me at “pretzel bun”

In any case, at least it was good, so she didn’t regret her decision. The only bad part was that the charming little bun – in true pretzel fashion – actually had a touch too much salt on it. I looked over once and did a double take at her scraping giant pieces of salt off the top of her sandwich – which, if you can believe, is something that doesn’t happen so often at our table (shocker, right?), so it caught my attention. But other than that her meal was very tasty.

Jerrid and Ted both ordered the triple chicken sandwich. And of course we were all intrigued by the name, and had to discuss what exactly it was that could possibly make it “triple” chicken? Is it three chicken patties on one sandwich? Is it breaded in three times the amount of batter? (after experiencing the appetizer mathematics lesson from earlier in the evening, we already knew the answer to that one) Do they flip it three times before they know it’s done? WHAT??? TELL US?

The great Triple Chicken Mystery of 2016

The great Triple Chicken Mystery of 2016

Sadly, we still have no idea. The sandwiches came out looking like, well, pretty much any other chicken sandwich we’ve ever seen, anywhere. The guys said they were good, though. The chicken was thin, but moist. Which even further confuses the whole “triple” concept (triple moisture maybe? I give up) but whatever.

And BTW, I’d like to point out that there was no cheer for Ted on his sandwich order, because that was completely out of left field for him. I mean, when did he last order anything chicken … that wasn’t in wing form? Fish – check. Steak – check. Burgers – check. Pizza – check. But chicken? This is new.

Although it was still specified to be without cheese, so at least that was consistent. Whew.

Triple the chicken, no cheese

Triple the chicken, minus the cheese

After dinner – and our third round of “let’s open the cooler for more beer” – we got our arms twisted into ordering the Oreo cheesecake for dessert. Because, well, beer and sugar attract one another, I think. In any case, we didn’t regret our choice. First of all – while they weren’t LagerHead’s carrot cake sized pieces, they were still pretty ginormous. And second of all, well, they were just pretty damn delicious. The cook actually delivered the slices to the table herself, and mentioned when she dropped it off that she had made it earlier in the day. Well that’s good to hear. Because who wants two week old cheesecake? Am I right?

Why don't we order dessert more? Especially when it tastes like this?

Why don’t we order dessert more? Especially when it tastes like this?

It’s not every day we get a visit by the cook. Wait, hey – dammit, why didn’t we ask her about the chicken? Stupid delicious cheesecake and beers clouding our judgement. Argh!

Overall Foster’s is a pretty cool little place. It’s definitely “homey” on the inside (see what I did there?) – there are tables kind of tucked into corners, and under stairs, and wedged in next to coolers, and close to the bar … so I can only imagine when it gets crowded in there that it’s a bit snug. There is a whole other room – looks like they may have built on an addition on the one side, as an attempt to fix the whole space issue –  but that space is also, well, a bit boring. No TVs, no bar, no one else sitting over there – so they may want to work on jazzing that area up a bit more if they want to entice people to venture over there.

We all agreed that it was a tad on the pricey side, just given the environment – I mean, you can’t charge steakhouse prices in a dive bar atmosphere – at least the food is good and the people are nice.  did read some reviews that mentioned that the place is not fond of new people or “outsiders” – but fortunately we never experienced any bad service or side eye glances. Unless the real reason the cook came out was to check on how we were feeling after she spit in all of our food … but I’m thinking that was highly unlikely.

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks: Serve yourself beer is a fun concept. Definitely beats straining to see the taps behind the bar, or reading outdated menu listings.
Food: Avoid the appetizers and just order the main course. And if you figure out WTF makes the chicken “triple” please let us know.
Service: Some may say getting beer out of the cooler yourself means the servers are being lazy, but I give them kudos because we never waited for a drink. And bonus points to the server for allowing us to try the new “garlic heaven” perfume they must be debuting here.
Overall: I could definitely see us going back. Although being just down the street from the Caddyshack does create a conundrum. Shane might be on to something with this whole cornering the Hinckley market idea.

Next Pick: Steph
Foster's Tavern of Hinckley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 2/24/16: Pat Dee’s Tavern, Northfield

Standard

OK, so first of all, if you’re going to have a front door, placed strategically underneath your establishment’s sign and with a path from the parking lot leading straight to it, said door should probably be functional, no? I mean, call me crazy and all, but it doesn’t seem that out of reason. That was just our initial thought, anyway … as Ted and I were adventurously touring the exterior of the building trying to find the way in. So that was fun.

Because nothing screams “we’re new here” like walking around buildings in the pouring rain looking for the entrance.

(And, in case you’re wondering, the door is actually right by said path from the parking lot, next to the patio. Learn from our mistakes.)

So, the inside of Pat Dee’s is kind of like a rec hall. Or a church basement. If church basements had bars, anyway. The dining room is essentially random sized tables strewn about and covered with plastic tablecloths. I was kind of having flashbacks to any wedding or child’s birthday party ever attended from 1982 through 1990 – a.k.a. before things got all “fancy.”

To Amanda’s credit, she had her eye on the large circular table with the pretty floral tablecloth, but, alas, it was taken – so we were stuck with a rectangular table draped in plain white. So much for ambiance.

While we’re talking about the layout of the place, I should mention the other thing we found slightly weird – which is the placement of the restrooms. In the exact center of the room. Hmm. It kind of reminded us of that dark and somewhat scary place in Richfield where Ted got the meat on the stick.

(And, yes, this is how we talk about places after we’ve visited them. After almost three years and this many restaurants visited, references really do come down to “the place with the meat on a stick,” “the place we did shot-skis” and “that place where a stranger asked Amanda to share French fries.” At least this little weekly adventure makes for good stories.)

Anyway.

Shane was working late this week, so we kind of showed up to Pat Dee’s in shifts – Amanda and Jerrid first, Ted and me second and then Shane.

Amanda and Jerrid already had their Miller Lites when Ted and I arrived, which is where I landed on the drink scale as well. Ted went with a Jack & coke because, well, it was just easier than asking our soft spoken and semi-hard-of-hearing waitress anything about the types of beer they actually had there.

Jerrid and Amanda decided to share a pizza, as they heard it was supposed to be one of the specialties – and since they don’t live far from the place, it could potentially end up as a good carry out option in the future. They went with the make-your-own option, choosing pepperoni, mushrooms and black olives.

One side of the oven is clearly a bit hotter than the other, no?

One side of the oven is clearly a bit hotter than the other, no?

Amanda commented that the pizza was definitely fresh – and not frozen with just some extra cheese thrown on it like that place we went to in Solon that to this day we still can’t pronounce. Also, in the great “is the sauce sweet or not” debate (second only to the “are your burgers made fresh and how thick are they?” quiz in frequently discussed topics by our group) she said this one was not, but that it was still very good. They both agreed that the take out option was very likely. So, score.

Jerrid also got six of the garlic wings. Which came out with actual chunks of garlic on them. How is it we continuously find these places that serve garlic in this fashion? I think by this point with the sheer amount of garlic this group has consumed this way we would pretty much be immune if some sort of vampire apocolypse occurs.

Alternate name of these wings: Vampire Killers

Alternate name of these wings: Vampire Killers

He saved one for Shane, because he knew it would be right up Shane’s alley. And, well, bromance.

Ted got six of the cajun wings … in addition to the full ribeye steak dinner. Because, well, that’s how we roll in this group. The wings were quite large, especially for the price, and he said they were good. He didn’t say as much about the steak, but he did slather it in A-1 as he was eating it, so I can only assume the wings were the better part of that particular meal.

I'll take some chicken in a bath of cajun, please

I’ll take some chicken in a bath of cajun, please

Meat and potatoes

Meat and potatoes

I got the half pound burger with Swiss cheese and mushrooms. I was surprised to find when it came out that it was served on ciabatta bread – which anyone who knows me or reads this blog by now knows you may as well have served that burger to me on a stack of $100 bills, because that’s how rich I felt at that moment. Ciabatta bread = a special slice of heaven for Steph. Usually I eat the burger but surrender the bun halfway through when I don’t have room in my belly to finish the meal … but in this case I was really torn. The burger was really good, very well seasoned and definitely made fresh. But I did leave just under half of it on my plate because … well, ciabatta.

I like the rogue mushrooms on top of the cheese

I like the rogue mushrooms on top of the cheese

I was really having an internal debate with my stomach at the end of my meal for not just being a team player and letting me finish all of it.

It's like a burger sub

It’s like a burger sub

Shane arrived just as we were starting to eat – he took one look at Ted’s steak dinner and ordered one for himself on the spot. He was going to order the garlic wings, too, after trying the one Jerrid saved for him – but then decided he should really not since he “didn’t need that much food.”

So it makes perfect sense that the next time the server came around he asked for an order of cheddar poppers, too. There’s the Shane we all know and love!

Fried cheese trumps wings

Fried cheese trumps wings

Steak dinner x 2

Steak dinner x 2

Shane didn’t say much about his meal – but, like Ted, also used an unusual amount of steak sauce with his dinner, so I’m guessing the steak was a bit on the dry and overcooked side. However, it was cheap, so that helped him choke it down a bit easier I think. For the third WTGW in a row we came in at a record low tab for the amount of food we consumed, with mine and Shane’s just barely reaching $45.

Shane: “That’s for a burger, an app, a complete steak dinner, three huge draft beers and like 27 mixed drinks. Not bad.”

All in all, Pat Dee’s is a great little neighborhood bar. You can tell there are definitely regulars, and Jerrid and Amanda said when they arrived it was busier and it seemed like those people were served a little quicker. But I don’t think it was done with malice – more like just that the waitress knew what those people wanted and got it out of the way first before they got upset with her. Better to take care of the people who will never let you forget how long it took to get their food when they come in the next week than some randoms who you may never see again, right? There’s a reasoning to that, I imagine. But that being said, we weren’t treated as outsiders, or judged because we sat at someone’s particular table. Which, speaking of, I wonder how many times we have to come back before we can reserve the circle table with the festive tablecloth? Just a thought.

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Evolution of a photobomb: part 1

Evolution of a photobomb: part 1

Evolution of a photobomb: part 2 See also: why is there a hand growing out of my back and a head attached to the side of my face?

Evolution of a photobomb: part 2
See also: why is there a hand growing out of my back and a head attached to the side of my face?

Evolution of a photobomb: part 3 Can we just talk for a moment about how Shane looks the same in all three photos?

Evolution of a photobomb: part 3
Can we just talk for a moment about how Shane looks the same in all three photos?

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  If you like domestic beer and mixed drinks, you’ll do well here. If you’re looking for something fancier, well, yeah, you’re definitely in the wrong place. For many reasons.
Food: The menu isn’t huge, but it does have a little bit of everything. Although if you want anything healthy you might want to follow the craft beer drinkers right back out the un-clearly marked front door.
Service: Unfortunately for us we aren’t fluent in “mumble,” so our server – while very nice – was a bit difficult to understand.
Overall: While I think our group brought the median age of thier patrons down a few notches, this is definitely a great little neighborhood place for a quick meal or drinks with friends.

Next Pick: Ted

Pat Dees Pub & Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 2/17/16: Joey’s Kendal Tavern, Massillon

Standard

There are times in your life that you drive 40 minutes for a good burger. This, my friends, would be one of them.

So, I should point out that in reading reviews before picking Joey’s Kendal Tavern this week, I noticed two themes: it’s a great little hometown bar, and they have fantastic burgers.

Check and check.

It’s like someone gift wrapped a WTGW pick for our group. Well, except for the whole my-commute-to-work-downtown-is-actually-shorter-than-the-drive-here thing … but whatever. Have hunger, will travel. That’s kind of one of our unspoken mottos.

So tonight we were a few men down, thanks to a freak garbage disposal accident that put Amanda and Jerrid in kitchen cleanup mode for the evening. Boo. But rest assured the remaining three of us still managed to eat like we were a party of five tonight, so there’s that.

When you walk into Kendal’s you have to make a quick decision about which side of the restaurant you want to sit on. There’s one side with a bar and TVs, and another side with a bunch of tables and no TVs – with a giant wall right smack in between the areas. Hmm. Bet you can’t guess which side we picked, right? It’s like letting a kid chose between sitting in the living room and watching cartoons while eating dinner, or climbing up to the formal adult dining table and listening to the folks talk about work and stock prospects.

In fact, I think that – if I were to go all “Bar Rescue” on this place for just a moment – they would actually be better served to just take that giant wall out and open up the entire space into just one big room, so that way the dining area wasn’t so lonely and quiet. But then again that dividing wall probably holds up the entire upstairs … so maybe they’re being smart there after all.

Anyway.

Kendal’s claims to be Massillon’s oldest bar. Which, when you look around the place, you can totally buy that statement. The paint and wallpaper are a bit outdated, there’s definitely nothing fancy about the place, and it very much has the “old bar” stale smell. Not that any of those are necessarily a bad thing – just observations.

Also, there’s no draft beer. Interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a bar that didn’t have at least two or three staples on tap. I didn’t venture over to the cooler to check out the bottle selection, and instead just went with a basic Miller Lite – which fortunately they did have. Shane went his usual liquor route, rum & diet. Also available.

Meanwhile, Ted asked for the darkest beer they had in bottles. And was served a beer that literally said “dark” on the label.

Well, we have "dark" ... it's, um, dark ...

Well, we have “dark” … it’s, um, dark …

At least the marketing doesn’t lie on this one. After all the descriptions like “made with fresh cinnamon and vanilla with hints of peanut butter and coffee” that we’ve read on beer menus over the years (which, by the way, are complete lies – a beer like that one mentioned above sounds delicious, but really would come out tasting like lima beans and cigarette smoke. You know I’m right. And you’re all thinking of the one beer that duped you in the past. Don’t lie.) – it was a bit refreshing to just have one call it like it is.

Ted’s beer order also got the owners attention, and  – in true Ted fashion – made us a new friend for the evening. The owner – whose name is Joey, I presume – sat at the end of the bar the entire time we were there … but not in a creepy, “I’m-going-to-hover-over-my-employees-and-customers-until-they-think-I-might-be-a-stalker-that-follows-them-home” kind of way. It was more of a take-pride-in-your-establishment-and-truly-care-how-everyone’s-experience-is kind of thing. Every now and then throughout the course of the evening he would overhear part of a conversation and make a comment, or bellow over to ask us how our food was.

And he definitely knew his regulars, of which there were a few who wandered in over the course of the evening. My personal favorite was the guy who walked in, chatted with the owner for a second and barely had his coat off before the bartender opened a can of beer and set in on the bar in front of him.

Shane: Now that’s a regular.
Bartender: Yeah, I just hope as I open that beer he hasn’t changed his mind about his favorite beverage.
Me: Isn’t that the unspoken rule of being a regular, you aren’t allowed to switch without permission?

The bartender got our attention right away with the words “the cheese sticks are handmade.” Yes, we’re easy like that. So naturally Shane and I ordered them as an app – and we were not disappointed. They were delicious. You could definitely could tell they were made fresh, not just string cheese dipped in bread crumbs and frozen until time for deep frying.

Ted:I had no idea until this moment that that’s how cheese sticks are made.

See, that’s what happens when you hate cheese, people. Blasphemy.

There was one more there before I took this photo. Sir Grabby Hands strikes again.

There was one more there before I took this photo. Sir Grabby Hands strikes again.

So, since Joey’s is known for their burgers, of course that’s what we ordered. Yes, we follow the crowd well, thank you. And yes, there’s a reason why people say this about the place.

I got the mushroom Swiss burger with fries. Shane got the Joey burger – which is really the same as my burger but with added onions and two cheeses (Shane chose pepper jack and provolone) instead of one – and also which illicited a “good choice” from the owner at the end of the bar.I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that burger is named after him. Just a thought.

Two cheeses and a burger, please

Two cheeses and a burger, please

There's a burger under all that cheese. Really.

There’s a burger under all that cheese. Really.

Shane completed his order with six of the garlic parm dry rub wings – but only after Ted and I balked that a burger was really ALL the food he was going to order?? I mean, really? Who is this guy?

Very fancy for what basically amounts to tiny fried chicken.

Very fancy for what basically amounts to tiny fried chicken.

Truthfully Ted had every right to give Shane a hard time … after he ordered both a spicy cajun burger (no cheese, of course) AND a full pork chop dinner, which included rice and asparagus as well as a large chop. He could’ve added a second chop for only $4, but decided to hold off on that since … well … you know, he also ordered another entire meal.

Me: so that means one of those meals is technically your appetizer, then, right?

Our bartender just laughed.

All the burgers were delicious. They are definitely freshly made, cooked to order on a nice slightly toasted bun. The “medium” 10 oz patty was still slightly pink inside, which of course made Shane happier than, well, than most people should ever actually get about food. He was even making yummy noises. Usually that’s just Ted’s department.

Ted said that, for being advertised as a “cajun” burger, he did think his could’ve been seasoned a bit better – and that even that giant green hot pepper on the top of it didn’t help the heat much.

Two meals, straight up

Two meals, straight up

BTW, I had to ask WTF that pepper was, because a) you don’t typically see burgers with green coloring on top, and b) from my seat it kind of looked like a large slice of green cheese. Which being that Ted hates cheese – and also that green cheese is, well, disgusting, I was a little intrigued. And was rather relieved to hear it was just a pepper.

But in any case, he said it was still tasty. He actually ended up taking the last few bites home in a box (at the owner’s insistence, who kept referring to it as “tomorrow’s breakfast”) because, well, ordering a pork chop dinner as an appetizer will kind of have that effect, I guess.

Although he did mention on the way home that if he had just had the dinner and not the burger, he would probably still be hungry. So I guess it all worked out then.

The pork chop looks a little less impressive without all the side dishes.

The pork chop looks a little less impressive without all the side dishes.

Meanwhile, the girl in the group barely got through the burger. The only thing that allowed me to eat the last few bites of meat was removing it from the bun. Which kind of killed me, actually, because, well by now you know about my love for carbs.

Burger, bun on

Burger, bun on

And chalk up another week of cheap eats for our group, too – mine and Shane’s tab for this one was only $42. Now granted we didn’t have quite as much food as last week’s meat-and-fried-food-extravaganza at Caddyshack, and I think we each had one less drink than last week, too … but still. Less money spent on food and drinks means more money left over for shoes and purses.

Yes, this is how females think.

All in all, Joey’s Kendal Tavern is a great little neighborhood place. And the best testament to that is that it seems like the actual neighborhood definitely frequents the place.But it wasn’t like everyone turned their attention on the regulars and kicked us new people to the curb when they arrived, either. We never felt out of place, or like we were the outsiders who weren’t invited to the party. In fact, I think once we admitted we had never been in before the owner made it his personal mission to make sure we were having a good time, enjoying our food, and planning to return at some point. Even when we left – it was clearly a group of regulars all sitting at the bar as we were walking out, and they all said “goodbye” and “hope to see you again” as we left – like we’d all been friends for years and not just sharing a space at the bar for a few hours.

Now can you just move the place into our actual neighborhood instead?

Ted

Ted

Steph (and "that guy" apparently)

Steph (and “that guy” apparently)

Shaney happy

Shaney happy

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  It’s a little strange to find a place that doesn’t have draft anything, but I guess when you’re the oldest bar around maybe that just means you’ve been there since before carbonation was invented? In any case, at least they had other beers and hard alcohol, so we definitely weren’t disappointed.
Food: The owner said to us at one point that “you don’t leave my place hungry.” No sir, you definitely do not. Especially if you order a burger.
Service: Excellent. We may have lucked out with the combination of sitting at the bar and being almost the only people in place … but even so, I would venture to guess this is the type of place where no one goes unnoticed or unhelped for long.
Overall: Oh Kendal’s, if only you weren’t over a half hour away. For real. Who can build a homey dive bar with good food right down the street from our house?

Next Pick: Amanda

Joey's Kendal Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 2/3/16: Caddyshack Inn, Hinckley

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This week’s WTGW takes us into the previously unchartered territory of Hinckley. Which Shane then proclaimed on the drive over as “his” town, and said we better not pick any other place we see around. Which, just judging from the outside of this place as we drove up – and also the bar/grille/neon-signs-must’ve-been-on-sale building on the corner nearby (which ironically, will probably be Shane’s next pick, as he saw the name of it and claimed it was in close competition with his pick for this week) – we didn’t think we’d have to worry.

Now, after actually tasting the food at Caddyshack Inn, as well as talking to a few of the people there … well, I think we all agreed that he may actually be on to something here.

I’ll be honest, though, as we pulled up to Caddyshack I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to think that things felt just a tad bit on the side of sketch. First of all, the place looks like a house. Because apparently it’s Shane’s life goal to eat at every house-turned-bar establishment in NE Ohio. Lest we forget the place in Aurora that we walked into for ten minutes, couldn’t get served at, and left clouded in the smell of burger grease that to this day is probably still ingrained in our clothing. And the place in Portage Lakes that, while actually pretty awesome, was so far embedded in an actual neighborhood that we thought we were just going to a new friend’s house for dinner.

Seriously, one of these times we are going to end up walking into someone’s real house and sitting down at their kitchen table for dinner – because Shane “heard somewhere” that it was a great hometown dive bar.

Fortunately for us, this time around we still ended up at an actual establishment, and not sharing plates with someone’s Aunt Millie before reading bedtime stories to their children.

Anyway.

So for drinks, it was Miller Lites and Kentucky Bourbun Ales all around. Amanda actually started out drinking Miller Lite and then traded it in for a Bourbon Ale after the first round.

Wait, that beer isn't light enough to be a Miller Lite?!?

Wait, that beer isn’t light enough to be a Miller Lite?!?

Ted was quite proud, as he is anytime anyone chooses anything other than a light domestic beer.

Shane and I got the sampler platter for an appetizer. Because we like fried things. And we weren’t disappointed, because it turns out the sampler is really basically just a bunch of random fried things like cheese sticks, onion rings, chicken tenders, fried mushrooms and jalepeno poppers on one plate together. Come to think of it, maybe they should actually change the name on the menu to “plate of random fried things.” It has a nice ring to it.

Plate of random fried stuff

Plate of random fried stuff

Whatever, it was $7, and kind of a meal all in itself.

Speaking of $7, that was also the price of a dozen wings. Yay frugality!

Shane was the first to order his meal, but by the time we worked around the table and he heard everything else that was being ordered he changed his mind. Because servers love that, right? His original order was just 18 wings … but then after he heard the other guys ordering burgers he realized he would have major food envy if he didn’t get a chance to try one himself. So he scaled back his wing order to 12, and then also got the Dawg Burger … which is a double patty, full pound burger with bacon on it. Because heart health is apparently extremely overrated.

And so that’s how this arrived at the table.

Did you order a heart attack? Because it's here on this plate

Did you order a heart attack? Because it’s here on this plate

I’ll just go ahead and say it, because I know you all are thinking it: W. T. F.

Jerrid ordered the other double burger on the menu, the name of which eludes me now … but just know it was the other full pound burger, with different toppings. But still just as huge.

It looks so unassuming from this angle

It looks so unassuming from this angle

That’s what she said.

We should also point out that there was a huge discussion at our table about just how in the living holy hell they were going to attack those burgers … because, well, this clearly isn’t a job for the faint-hearted. Or anyone who thinks they are going to not be messy about it. Jerrid just went right in, didn’t cut his in half or anything, just picked up the burger whole and started eating his way through it. Shane meanwhile daintily cut his into quarters. But remember this is also the guy who eats his pizza with a knife and fork, so take that as you will I guess.

In any case, that’s the massive burger side of the table.

Oh, and PS: those giant burgers were only like $8.95 each. Just let that sink in for a bit – as I put this picture here yet again.

I think that burger will eat you if you're not careful with it

I think that burger will eat you if you’re not careful with it

OK, moving on.

Jerrid and Amanda also shared 12 wings – six garlic parm and six Kentucky bourbon – as an app. Amanda ordered the black & blue steak wrap for her meal. Which I don’t think had quite a full pound of steak inside of it, but was probably close. 

It's like a whole steak in a little blanket

It’s like a whole steak in a little blanket

Oh good, chunks of garlic. Vampires be gone

Oh good, chunks of garlic. Vampires be gone

Ted got a pound of mussels as an app, then 12 wings (Kentucky bourbon and “just plain hot,” as he called them). And also one of the single patty, half pound burgers.

This is the most healthy thing on our table

This is the most healthy thing on our table

The single actually looks smaller than the bun. Weird

The single actually looks smaller than the bun. Weird

I think this might’ve been the point in the ordering process where our server openly laughed at the insane amount of food five people thought they might possibly be able to eat. And suggested pulling over another table to help hold it.

I got the cheeseburger wrap, mainly because it came with chips and a french onion dip. I think we were all waiting to see if it arrived in a plastic container from the gas station down the road, ala the Lockview.

This is like the healthy version of that other burger. Which isn't saying a whole lot.

This is like the healthy version of that other burger. Which isn’t saying a whole lot.

But alas, no, it was actually homemade. And actually really good. Amanda also got the chips and dip with her meal, and commented that it was the closest to our “gold standard” in house-made chip dips, the stuff we used to get at our old hangout Slim & Jumbo’s in Garrettsville. Yes, we have a rating system on chip dips. Just like our group has a top five on pretty much everything else in this world. These things really shouldn’t surprise you at this point.

So, yeah, if you put all of those photos above together … you can see that our server had more than enough reason to laugh at us when we ordered all of it. Because clearly she knew what was in store for us. It must be like initiation for her when new people come in and think that they are “hungry enough” to finish all of that. Lesson learned.

Well, maybe. Shane eventually surrendered his draft beer and switched to rum and diet because he was getting so full on his burger that he figured that would help to “save stomach space.” Of course I benefited from that by taking the rest of his beer when the first mixed drink came. Thanks honey.

Although I think he regretted his choice as soon as he took the first sip of said drink … and realized it was pretty much just all rum. I joked that they knew he was saving space so they were trying to help by taking out the carbonation.

Ted meanwhile was still giggling about the ridiculousness of specifying diet pop in a drink when we had about four million calories of food sitting in front of us.

Touche.

Ted finished his burger, although his single burger was tiny in comparison to Jerrid’s and Shane’s doubles. Jerrid also got the clean plate award. Shane meanwhile left just under a very-neatly-cut quarter of his on his plate. Who is this guy? Please tell me moderately healthy Shane is not making a return.

Everyone said the wings were really good. And they were big, too – for the insanely low price of $7/dozen, you’d expect them to be smaller, but they were actually decent sized. Amanda and Jerrid were big fans of the Kentucky bourbon ones, but Ted rated the hot sauce better in his book. Although he really only somewhat sampled the hot wings, and then ended up taking most of them home. Since, well, let’s be honest, he already had about three full meals before he got to that item on his personal menu.

One third of Ted's meal

One third of Ted’s meal

Shane also took his wings home. Because, well, giant burger. It was strange to see the guys leaving with doggy bags and not the girls this time around.

So, after all was said and done in this evening, I feel it’s necessary to mention that mine and Shane’s final tab, for the two of us, was $47. Total. To recap, that’s for a huge appetizer, a giant double burger with chips, a wrap with chips, a dozen wings, five miller lite drafts and three tall rum and diets – which were potent enough that Shane had to use the elementary school method of “carrying the one” on the paper when doing math on the final tab before we left.

I’m not sure what kind of alternate cheap dive bar universe we stumbled into here, but we may just never leave. For real.

Especially when we discovered that the Caddyshack Inn also hosts karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights – and that there was a small possibility that the bartenders working those evenings might let “Shane Newton” stand actually ON the bar while drunkenly belting out Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar.” In fact, our server/bartender – who we absolutely loved, and who was fantastic at both her job and keeping up with our high level of sarcastic requests and comments – actually recommended that we come back in two weeks for karaoke.

Us (since she had already told us she doesn’t work weekends): Why, will you be here that night?
Her: Well, if THAT’S happening then I definitely will be

Yes.

How many more visits until we can become regulars? Because I think we may have just found our new life’s goal. Just sayin.

Shane (aka Popeye)

Shane (aka Popeye)

Bromance

Bromance

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  I think the Windsor Pub may have a rival for amount of rum that can fit in one tall glass while still calling it a mixed drink. 
Food:
We definitely learned our lesson about ordering appetizers and meals here. Pick one or the other. But regardless you won’t be disappointed.
Service: You know how much we enjoy servers with a sense of humor, and this was no exception. And for manning both the bar and the floor tables, she was exceptional.
Overall: It may be a good thing this place isn’t closer to us, because WTGW may just turn into Caddyshack Everynight. And we would then either be 400 lbs, or die of heart attacks within a month. But it may be worth it.

Next Pick: Steph

WTGW 1/20/16: Hodge’s Cafe, Barberton

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Ah Barberton. It’s been a while. We’ve missed you.

And by that I mean we’ve missed traveling through neighborhoods on the way to our destination that make us question our decisions on life insurance policies. Case in point, about halfway to Hodge’s we passed a totally questionable looking establishment on a street corner that was really nothing more than a small building with no name and no windows … oh wait, I take that back, there was one window, but it was taken up completely with a giant neon red OPEN sign and hours too small to be read from the street. What they were OPEN for, however, was completely up for grabs.

Shane (whose goal in life is the find the scariest place imaginable for us to visit) of course exclaims, “OH, we HAVE to go THERE.”
Me: Absolutely not.

We really need to start utilizing an “avoid ghettos” feature on Google Maps.

Anyway.

So we get to Hodge’s, and park in a somewhat less questionable parking lot, only to walk inside the place and be greeted by lighting that somewhat resembles the surface of the sun. Not quite what I was expecting from a little neighborhood dive establishment, but I guess you’ll have that. I also didn’t expect to see a Tony Stewart NASCAR themed crock pot staring at me from across the way on top of the popcorn machine, but I guess you’ll have that as well.

Anytime you can find $2 bottles of Summer Shandy in January … well, honestly it probably means that the bar just found a few cases in the back room and dusted them off mere seconds before their expiration date so they could clear the space. But if you’re me or Amanda you just chalk it up to a win and move on. We aren’t going to ask questions on this one, except for the obvious “how many do you have left in there?” Because we all know how this group has been burned on our favorite beer finds in the past.

Anytime you can find this in January life is good

Anytime you can find this in January life is good

Although in this case we didn’t have to worry, because we didn’t run out the stash. And they also had grapefruit shandy available on the specials board, too, so at least we had a backup.

Shane, meanwhile, went the tall Captain and diet route. Which he observed them pouring and commented that it contained at least four shots. And which we learned later at the end of the night was only $1.75 more each than my outdated Summer Shandy.  Oh, hello Windsor Pub redeux. Nice to meet you.

For apps we got fried pickles and clam strips. Because, dive bar and fried stuff. And us. The clam strips were more like batter strips that kind of maybe tasted a little bit like clams. Maybe they just deep fried some batter in clam juice? Who knows. The bigger pieces were OK, but a lot of the dish was just pieces parts of, well, fried batter. Yummy. And the pickles were spears instead of chips, which was not at all what any of us were expecting. Of course I had to comment that “that’s a lot of pickle at once.”

That’s what she said.

Pickles on steroids

Pickles on steroids

Despite what it says in the background, this is not meatloaf

Despite what it says in the background, this is not meatloaf

Hodge’s is known for its burgers, so naturally that’s what we all got. Plus there’s not much else of note on the menu to choose from, so that made the decision easier, too. I mean, we didn’t come all the way to Barberton for hot dogs and grilled cheese, right? Although they do also feature the random AYCE spaghetti special or veal parmesan. Those must be reserved for those “fancy” dinners like first dates and birthday celebrations.

And I’m still confused what the Tony Stewart crock pot is used for exactly.

Ted got the Italian burger with fries. Jerrid went with the Big Hodge burger with onion rings, Amanda got the mushroom and swiss burger with fries, and Shane got the black & blue burger with fries. Our server asked Shane if he wanted a small or large order of fries, to which Shane looks at me and asks “are you eating any?” I said that, well, honestly I really shouldn’t, what with trying to be a bit healthier and all – and that’s why I got a side salad with my BBQ burger.

Shane: Large then.

Thanks, honey.

Speaking of that salad …

So. Many. Comments.

So. Many. Comments.

So, yeah, be warned that Hodge’s version of a salad is really nothing more than a heap of cheese over some lettuce. So, OK. So much for the whole “healthier” thing. If I were Ted and said I didn’t want any cheese on my salad, would they have just brought me out a head of iceberg and a fork? But the best part is that wasn’t even the weirdest thing about the salad. If you look at that photo again, you’ll notice something to the side …

So. Many. Comments.

So. Many. Comments.

Yes, that’s an actual bottle of salad dressing. When I said I wanted the dressing on the side, I kind of just meant a little cup … not the entire bottle on the side of my salad. It’s almost like the cook was like, “well, hell, I don’t know how much to pour in a cup – I usually just put it on the salad directly. I can’t measure any other way. Just give her the whole bottle and let her do it herself.” Hmm. Are these people related to the folks over at the Lockview in Akron, who just gave us the plastic Helluva Good container from the corner store as part of our “house made chips and dip” order??

They also brought us an extra basket of fries after our food came out. Because they didn’t hear Shane order the “large” just for himself, I guess? Or maybe they really did think I was going to eat all of his after all. Or maybe the cook just really isn’t good on measuring fries as well as salad dressing. Who knows. But regardless, I have to admit it was a nice gesture.

Oh good, more fried stuff

Oh good, more fried stuff

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

I think they missed the cheese on half that burger?

Why is the pickle on the top? I'm confused.

Why is the pickle on the top? I’m confused.

Or it would’ve been, if they’d actually given us time to eat said fries – as well as actually refilling our beverages – in the meantime. Pretty much after the food came we didn’t see the server/bartender again. It was like they vanished into thin air after our meals hit the table. They never came to check on us, ask if we needed anything else, ask if we wanted more drinks … but when it was obvious we were finished eating suddenly they reappeared and delivered the checks to the table. It was almost like they’d been huddled around a security camera in the back room, waiting for that last morsel to leave our plates or for us to utter the words “that’s it, I’m full” so they could swoop in and clear the plates and drop the check. Again, they didn’t ask if we wanted the checks – just like they didn’t ask if we wanted anything else, or needed refills on our drinks – they just brought the checks.

Notice the empty glass. Because the server sure didn't.

Notice the empty glass. Because the server sure didn’t.

Because nothing says thanks-for-coming-but-don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out like that particular action.

By the way, lest you think we were overstaying our welcome, getting all rowdy and holding the place past closing … it was all of 8:30 PM at this time. 8:30. And what time do they close, you might ask? 9:30. A full hour later. And also not even that late, considering most places like this stay open at least until 11, if not 2AM.

At Hodge’s, clearly they’re used to locking up and heading home by 9. Because at 8:30 on a Wednesday, we were the last table left in the place. The few other tables who had been sharing the place with us earlier in the evening left about a half hour prior to our checks arriving at our table. Either there’s a curfew in effect in Barberton that we’re not aware of, or everyone locks themselves in their houses before 9:00 so they can enjoy a date with DVR’d episodes of Dr. Phil and Wheel of Fortune.

Or maybe they all hit up the OPEN place. Who knows.

In any case, that non-welcoming sense of “get the hell out now” is probably a big part of why we won’t be running to return to Hodge’s. I mean, the food was just OK. My burger seemed a bit overdone (they don’t ask how you want them, must just cook them all “medium” – because we all know how well that usually works out). And I didn’t hear anyone in our group particularly raving about theirs either. I certainly didn’t hear anyone mention their “Top 5” lists … so I can only imagine this burger wasn’t going on any of them.

Now, as far as salads with your own personal bottle of pre-opened and partially used dressing, however, this is up there …

I can't stop looking at the pile of cheese in the background

I can’t stop looking at the pile of cheese in the background

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  Of course I give props to any place I can find a Summer Shandy in January. But apparently finding one after 8:30 PM is a whole other story.
Food:
Eh. Nothing out of the ordinary from what we’ve had at other burger joints. Except of course for the salad dressing straight from the bottle.
Service: Clearly ends an hour or so before the actual closing time.
Overall: I guess if you’re a local, this would be a nice little neighborhood bar. But we aren’t, and we can get better service for the same caliper food closer to home.

Next Pick: Jerrid
Hodge's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 11/11/15: Kevin O’Bryan’s, Akron

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So in contrast to last week, when it was the smaller than normal group of three (just me, Shane and Ted) … this week we had a larger than normal group of seven, with a few special guests and friends who wanted to join us to check out this particular spot. Apparently we’ve latched onto the Goldilocks and the Three Bears scale of dining groups. Maybe next week we’ll hit “just right?”

Kevin O’Bryan’s is a place that’s been on my radar for a little while now, but for some reason I just never pulled the trigger on actually picking it. Maybe because when you zoom out on the google map, the area of town is just a tad bit on the side of shady. I mean, not that that’s necessarily stopped us from visiting places in the past (Papa Don‘s, anyone?) … but let’s just say that as we approached the place – which turned out to be a non-descript block building with few windows across from a Family Dollar which we realized later had one of the world’s last working pay phones out front – I was only slightly nervous about what we were getting ourselves into.

Although everyone else tried to make me feel better by pointing out that there was another pub on the opposite corner of the street that seemed to be almost a carbon copy (from the outside anyway), so we could probably just hop back and forth if my place sucked. Thanks, guys.

But I’m happy to report that we had absolutely nothing to be worried about. This place is definitely a hidden gem. And we already can’t wait to go back.

Our server in particular was outstanding. You have to love someone who basically just lets you walk in and start pushing the tables around to however you want in order to accommodate your big group. I mean, there weren’t a ton of other people in the bar, and I’ll admit we can be kind of pushy as a group in general sometimes … but still. It was nice of him to not approach us with a “WTF do you think you’re doing there, new people I’ve never seen before in my life?” attitude.

He also took note of Shane’s Cleveland hoodie and commented that he could use Shane’s help to basically push out another group of not-Cleveland fans that were planning to watch the game there this coming weekend.  In his words “so, they’re Steelers fans, and I mean, I can’t kick them out all together … because, let’s face it, I still want their money … but I just don’t want them to have this great of a table. I’d rather you guys – Cleveland fans – had it.”

Ah, rivalry.

The beer list on the table was outdated, although the server mentioned that the new one was on his computer at home. Because that helps us not at all – unless we’re road tripping to go pick it up – but whatever. I noticed the tap for McKensie’s Cider at the bar and asked if they had the seasonal reserve – which they did – so I went with that, as did Amanda.

Although in true us fashion, that lasted two rounds and then we ran out the keg. It’s like they see us coming.

The server brought over another cider to try after that – I think maybe it was also from McKenzie’s(?), and I know he specifically said it was something with chamomile in it (he said he had to write the name down before he brought me the sample – “I’m usually good remembering this stuff but even I had to write it down, the name is jacked.”) So of course I liked it, but now have no idea now what the name of it actually was. Except the chamomile part. And that just makes me confused, like is it tea or is it cider? I mean, really. It wasn’t awful – to be honest, it tasted kind of like the seasonal reserve, minus the cinnamon and nutmeg. But note to companies – how about we stop trying to have 50 flavors that are all just OK and instead focus on making five or six that are really, amazingly good? Just a thought.

Speaking of really, amazingly good alcoholic beverages, Jerrid started the night drinking what is probably the exact opposite of that … Bud Light. Well, at least, anyway, until he mentioned wanting to do shots and the server recommended the “PB&J” – which is basically just a shot of Jameson (“J”) served along side a tall boy can of PBR (“PB”). For $6.50.

Shane: So really that’s a $6 shot and a $.50 can of beer then?

Note to anyone going out with our group: sometimes it’s easier to just not admit you’re a fan of certain beers, lest you be ridiculed until your dying day about them.

So since Kevin O’Bryan’s is known for it’s burgers (their website touts “Best Burgers in Akron!”), that’s what most of the table ended up getting. Although honestly, we had to admit the breadth and variety of the menu was a bit surprising to us. For a place that looks like a little dive bar on the outside, they really offer some interesting foods – not just your typical wings, frozen burger patties and random chicken sandwich selections. I mean, how many other bars serve fried green tomatoes as an app? (keeping in mind we’re in Ohio here, not anywhere near the southern U.S.)  Or buffalo calamari? Or a burger with pimento cheese and remoulade? Exactly.

But in any case, back to the burgers. So when I asked about the whole “Best in Akron” label on the website, the server told me that that was, in fact, the case – in his words, the only place that might compare to them is Swenson’s. Which I admittedly have heard of and driven past several times, but have never actually tried.

Server: You’ve never been to Swenson’s? Do you not live around here?
Me: No, we live in Cuyahoga Falls.
Server: Then how is it possible you’ve never been to Swenson’s? They’re, like, famous around here. You found us but you haven’t been there?
Me: But Swenson’s doesn’t serve alcohol.
Server: Point taken. Yeah, we’re definitely better than them then.

I like him.

Shane meanwhile took that opportunity to stir up the great “Burger Wellness Scale Interrogation” that we seem to go through at, well, every place we even think about ordering burgers. I’m beginning to think he should just create and carry some sort of a photographic reference that he can point each server to when describing to the level of pinkness he would like his burger to contain. Because in over two years, we still have yet to reach a universal similarity to the words “rare,” “medium rare,” and “somewhat rare.”

The struggle is real, y’all.

Amanda and I kept up our twinning routine and ordered the exact same entrees – the blue cheese burger with an added topping of sauteed mushrooms, and tater tots on the side. And we were not disappointed.

Can I have some of your tots?

Can I have some of your tots?

Not to be outdone, Shane and Lou also went the twinsies route and got the Livie Burger (the one with the pimento cheese referenced above) and fried green tomatoes as a side. They were also very satisfied with their choices.

Shane also got an order of wings – because, well, Shane. He chose the Irish Dew sauce, which is a house specialty. I only somewhat overheard the conversation about what it was made of (I clearly skipped the class toward my journalism degree called “paying attention when people talk”) but I do know it involved boiling down Tullamore Dew whisky as a base, and then mixing it with spices. In any case, Shane thought it was excellent.

Burgers and wings. The WTGW staples.

Burgers and wings. The WTGW staples.

Ted also got wings – because, again, that’s how the boys of WTGW roll – but he went with the hot garlic. Which he said kind of missed the mark on the whole “hot” part. He also got the Wednesday Special, a strip steak with potatoes and fried green beans.

That looks like a real meal.

That looks like a real meal.

The steak comes with a hot pepper on top of it … and you know of course Ted ate it. He didn’t regret it quite as much as the time he ate the pepper out of Shane’s drink at Tim Owen’s Traveler’s Tavern a few weeks ago … but it was definitely close. You know, like when you eat all the cookies you were supposed to take to your company holiday party, so now you don’t have anything to take with you and your stomach is really upset with you … but the cookies were super delicious, so it was actually kind of worth it. That level of regret.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

He later asked the server what kind of pepper it was, and was told it was just a fried banana pepper. Which apparently had been farmed on the surface of the sun, according to Ted’s reaction. When Ted told the server that the pepper was hotter than his entire batch of hot garlic wings, the server’s reaction was “well, I guess that means we need to step those wings up a notch then, thanks for letting me know.”

That’s what we’re here for, folks. Saving the world from bad and/or wrongly labeled foods, one entree at a time.

Jerrid ordered a burger with tater tots, and the full appetizer order of the fried green tomatoes instead of just the side. He kept trying to get everyone at the table to try the fried green tomatoes – and in particular the sauce they came with. There’s only so many times you can hear “you need to get more of the sauce” before your mind just naturally goes to a dark place.

Again, don’t pretend you don’t get it.

Fried green tomatoes. Fancy.

Fried green tomatoes. Fancy.

Shanda, meanwhile, had a salad as big as my head. Does that still mean it’s healthy? And is that even allowed at our table of fried sin and burger deliciousness? The jury is still out.

Is that healthy food? Who allowed this order?

Is that healthy food? Who allowed this order?

So the overall opinion here was that everything was delicious – I don’t think there was anything we weren’t happy with, except maybe the fact that they ran out of our cider after about 30 minutes … but, hey, we’re used to that, no harm done there. Our server kept up well with what we admittedly realize can be a loud, demanding and over zealous group (especially once Jerrid and Ted decided it was o’shot-thirty … because that always ends well) … and did so with a sense of humor, more patience than I probably would be able to muster and a smile the entire time. We all admitted we were a bit nervous about the location and the exterior of the place, but the staff and the food are well worth getting past all of that. Plus that Family Dollar I mentioned was visible just outside the front window behind us – and who knew a pay phone could be so popular? – so we were afforded constant entertainment all evening. We’ll definitely be back. I mean, Shane even gave it his “dive bar stamp of approval” … which if nothing else just made me super glad I picked it before he had a chance to.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda and Shanda

Amanda and Shanda

Ted and Jerrid. And shots. Obviously.

Ted and Jerrid. And shots. Obviously.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  When the list is updated, it’s pretty impressive. But judging from the outdated list, what they had over the summer looked delicious too. Quite a few crafts on draft, and bottles ranging from craft to PBR. What’s not to love.
Food:
Delicious. They aren’t kidding about it being the best burgers in town. They are definitely cooked to order. Shane didn’t even have to reference his power point presentation.
Service: Awesome. Again, we know we can be a demanding bunch (and there were more of us than usual this time) but we were definitely always well taken care of.
Overall: We’ll be back, whether to kick out rival fans for a Browns game or to maybe check out the Thursday night karaoke scene. Shane Newton needs new audiences …

Next Pick: Amanda
Kevin O'Bryan's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 10/28/15: Dante’s Game Day Grille, Akron

Standard

Another week, another perfect example of the rule “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I’m almost thinking we should change the name of this blog to something along that lines. Because we visit some shady looking places, y’all. And have yet to be shot at, kicked out of or completely disappointed in – well – most of them. Not too shabby.

So, yeah, Dante’s is definitely a bit shady on the outside. Like we drove right past it at first because we weren’t sure a) that was the place, and b) it was open. We finally realized there must be parking behind the building, since there were zero cars on the street. However, that lot was really no less daunting than the front of the building. As we parked, Shane noticed a light on above the creepy looking basement door.

Shane: what’s up with that basement?
Me: that’s where people go to die. You watch enough horror movies, that should be obvious to you.

We then had a lengthy discussion about how I would most definitely be the first one of us to die, since I was the only girl in the group for the night (Amanda was home sick, boo) and I was wearing 4-inch heels. So there’s that.

Anyway.

Dante’s is way tiny inside. Like small enough that the whole “put a mirror up on one wall to make it look bigger” trick almost works. But it’s small in a good way, in that it just makes it feel homey. Like a neighborhood bar, which really is exactly what the place truly is. I mean, it even has the stale smell of old neighborhood bars. You know what I’m talking about … the smell of about 57 years worth of nicotine and spilled beer in a place that can never open a window. And it hits you like a wall as soon as you walk in. But in a good way.

All that being said, you might expect the records to screech to a halt and the regulars to stare us down as soon as us “newbies” walk through the door. But that’s one of the best things about Dante’s, we realized … everyone there is treated like they’ve been coming to the place for ages, regardless if that’s truly the case, or if they just walked in for the first time. Our server/bartender was the first to greet us, and she did so with a smile and wave as if we were old friends. Maybe we are? I mean, we’ve been to a lot of places these past few years. Hmm.

And in fact we trusted her as if she were an old friend – it seemed that everything she old us to order we jumped on like a kid in a bouncy house. She was great at giving suggestions once we told her it was our first time there, and didn’t judge us one bit for saying we were slightly afraid to come in to the place before this night. Although she did judge Shane, who was switching things up and ordering a vodka & Red Bull for his drink (since the Long Islands effectively kicked his ass last week) and, when asked what kind of vodka he wanted, just replied “I don’t care, well is fine.” You’d have thought she was just told to go shoot puppies out back and use their blood in his drink by the way she feigned shock. She replied that “I’m Ukrainian, we don’t believe in well vodka. I can’t serve you that, I have to give you something with at least a name.” Well played.

Meanwhile Ted went the complete opposite route and ordered an IPA (Pine something, maybe?) solely on her recommendation. So he’s clearly still on her good side.

I went with the Woodchuck, since there was nothing on the beer list that necessarily sounded good to me.

Ted: You don’t know how proud it makes me that the beer list included Miller, Coors and Bud, and you said that “nothing sounded good.”

I seriously thought he might cry.

So for food, we all went with burgers, since the server told us that’s one of their specialties. I think at this point we might’ve ordered a pile of old boots deep fried in motor oil, that’s how much we trusted her recommendations. Ted ordered the Chuckie (which has salami on it), Shane got the Hot Pepper Burger (guess what that has on it?) and I had the standard Game Day Burger, with added mushrooms. The guys also got wings (Jamaican Jerk and Garlic Butter), because, well them.

Burger, fries and a drink. Our version of a happy meal.

Burger, fries and a drink. Our version of a happy meal.

Shane also ordered the Game Day Fries – another of the specialties and high recommendations of our server. These are basically regular fries covered in melted cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing. A combination which is music to the ears of my ranch-loving husband … but somehow that Midwestern gene skipped me. I also – thanks to an incident with a sink full of dirty dishes and a wet cracker from when I was about 8 years old – can’t stand soggy things, which is exactly how those fries end up after the cheese gets cold and the ranch seeps into them. But that’s just me. Which meant more for him, and he was perfectly OK with that.

There are fries under there somewhere. Honest.

There are fries under there somewhere. Honest.

The burgers were good. I was stuffed full after only half of mine, and about 1.5 onion rings. Shane said his hot peppers on his burger weren’t especially hot, but there was some sort of sauce on the sandwich that was made from one level of the surface of the sun, so that helped balance it out. Ted commented that he thought Dante’s must get their burger meat from the same place that supplies the Windsor Pub, because they tasted very similar.

Do they put ranch dressing on everything here?

Do they put ranch dressing on everything here?

About three onions had to die to make this side dish

About three onions had to die to make this side dish

The wings were OK – Ted said he thought that the Jamaican ones would’ve had more of a kick to them, but they were actually more like a sweet BBQ. And they were very salty. He said they weren’t bad … just “different.” He likened them to eating a bag of BBQ potato chips. Only the chips were made of chicken. So there’s that.

BBQ chip wings. I think we may be on to something here

BBQ chip wings. I think we may be on to something here

One thing we did be sure to note – we noticed it on a card on our tables and had to ask our server to be sure we weren’t seeing it wrong – Thursdays are $1.00 burger nights. $1.00. Right?? We didn’t believe it either. I mean, that’s like a holy offering to food lovers like us. Now granted they are 1/4 pound burgers (every other night – including the ones we had – they’re 1/2 pound), but still … I mean, it’s $1.00. You can buy four of them, mask them together and make a one pounder … and you’d still have change from a $5 bill. It’s kind of a no brainer.

Half of this for $1.00 on Thursdays. Not a bad deal

Half of this for $1.00 on Thursdays. Not a bad deal

So all in all, Dante’s is a nice little neighborhood bar. It’s definitely no frills, just a great little dive bar with lots of TVs tuned to the latest games and a few regulars keeping the bartender company after the dinner rush. It’s one of those places you almost want to become a regular in, just because you can tell there’s a good atmosphere and people are fun to be around. Like most dives, there’s not an overly impressive beer list, but they have the basics and it’s cheap and just a cool place to hang out. Just steer clear of the basement. I mean, even now that we’ve been inside the place I still don’t want to know why that light is on.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  Not a very impressive list, unless you have trouble deciding between Miller Lite, Coors Lite and Bud Light. Then you’re in the right place for sure. 
Food:
Typical dive bar fare – burgers, wings, anything you can make in a deep fryer. But a few surprises and specialties, like the game day fries. We took note of the $1 burgers on Thursdays. Because we like burgers, and that’s cheaper than McDonald’s. For real.
Service: Excellent. You know I love a server who can give any of us a run for our sarcastic and/or idiot sense of humor selves, while still doing a good job getting orders correct and giving suggestions. This was no exception.
Overall: Now that we know it’s not nearly as scary on the inside as it looks from a quick drive-by outside, I’m sure we’ll go back.

Next Pick: Steph

Dantes Gameday Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato