WTGW 3/29/17: Hooley House, Fairlawn – REVISIT

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Oh, Hooley House. I remember when we first met, two years ago (almost to the day, ironically – what does it say about our timing when we continuously pick an Irish place in the weeks following St Patrick’s Day?) – we were so excited to finally get there, so filled with promise for what you could be for us … and then we left disappointed.

In remembering that first visit, or main contention was … well … pretty much everything. The service was extremely slow, our glasses were left empty for 20+ minutes at a time – even when we were seated essentially right next to the auxillary bar, the burgers weren’t cooked to our individual specifications, and my chicken sandwich may or may not have been trying to kill me.

But the apps were good, so score one for them there, I guess.

At the time, we chalked it up to the fact that they hadn’t been open long, so they were probably still working out some kinks. Plus we also chose poorly on our seating for the evening, not realizing that there was another full bar and dining area with far more seating – and that was consistently beating us in the loudness and “sounds like fun is happening over there” departments – opposite from where we were sitting.

But even with all those negatives, we still always talked about going back to give it another chance. Because we’re fair like that.

This time around we knew right off the bat not to make the same mistakes in the seating department, and requested to head for the opposite site – otherwise known as the “East Eden” to our last visit’s quieter side. And while it was definitely an improvement, we also weren’t instantly in heaven.

Maybe it was because we also happened to be there on trivia that night. And I think we’re learning that’s a whole different crowd on those nights … who don’t particularly care for people talking loudly when they’re trying to be all smart and stuff, and who shoot us looks of death when we have our cell phones on the table. Hey, listen, we’re taking pictures of food for important research, not googling your answers. Well, OK, maybe we’re doing that, too … but don’t worry, we heard the rules, and we’re not playing your little game anyway. We just like to pretend to be smart, too.

Also, the girl hosting the trivia on this particular night had an amazingly monotone, still-not-loud-enough-even-with-a-microphone voice that was putting me to sleep. Because that’s good for bar business.

So clearly we’re off to an amazing start already.

But nevertheless, we ordered beer, because, well, that always seems like a good place to change the tides for the better. Ted started off with a Guinness. I asked which Leininkugel’s seasonal was on tap, since their “winter specials” table tents said Cranberry Ginger, but it’s after St. Patrick’s Day so that technically means spring in Ohio, and usually the Summer Shandy is out by now.

The server’s answer pretty much ambiguously implied it could be either. Oh, OK. Well luckily I like either one, so whatever, I guess, just give me what pours out of that tap, please.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered something from the same “winter specials” flyer that involved Guinness mixed with the seasonal Cranberry Leininkugel’s.

Me: You know, if they don’t have that cranberry beer anymore, they won’t be able to make that drink.
Shane: Oh, good point, you’re probably right.

Sure enough, about two minutes later our server appeared with mine and Ted’s beers, and that exact message for Shane.

Just call me Miss Cleo.

So Shane ended up with a Michelob Ultra. Probably tasted exactly the same.

Speedy Ted wasted no time and tried jumping right to appetizers as we were putting in the drink order, so Shane and I scrambled and just came up with our usual of late – pretzel sticks.

Because really, if you mess those up we should probably just leave.

My addiction to bread continues

Fortunately we didn’t have to chug our drinks and bolt for the door, as these pretzels were delicious. They were done just right so they were slightly crispy on the outside but still doughy inside. And straight from the oven just like last week at R Shea’s – only this week it was Shane who lost a few layers of skin just trying to eat them. He tried about four times to pick one up, each time about 30 seconds from the last, and continued to declare them “still hot.”

Catches on quick, that one.

Meanwhile Speedy Gonzalez over there had been so impatient to order because he had his eye on the Maple Glazed Bacon app – which he had spotted on another menu somewhere not WTGW related but never got to order then, so he was all about ordering it now. The app is really just what the name suggests – bacon strips cooked and coated in candied maple syrup. So basically kind of like your entire breakfast served in one cute little bar glass, and without the carbs of pancakes.

The perfect breakfast in a glass

And he wasn’t disappointed. To quote Ted, “It’s like you soaked your bacon in maple syrup. And come on, it’s maple and bacon, what’s not to like.”

We don’t ask for much, people. Really.

As I mentioned already, we were once again coming off the corned beef fest that is an Irish holiday, so we may have been just a tad burnt out to order anything remotely Irish on the menu. Shane and I actually ended up with a bit of a southwestern theme between us – he ordered the beef quesadilla, which I made fun of him for ordering at an Irish place … and then I promptly turned around and ordered a spicy black bean burger.

Don’t judge.

On the other side of the table, Ted ordered the BBQ bacon burger, thus proving that apparently his theme for the night was just “whatever has bacon on it.”

And just like our last visit to HH, the apps were better than the actual meals. We all thought our food was just OK. Ted thought his burger was alright, but that the tater tots were too salty. I also was not a fan of the tots – and that’s not a sentence I say many times. But I also just had really good tots at a restaurant in Chicago a few weeks ago, so that memory may have infringed on my opinion here.

Look at those tots. Just look, though, because eating them isn’t recommended.

My burger was OK, I liked that it had lots of avacado, and my bread loving self was of course a fan of the soft bun (that’s what she said …). But I could’ve done without the overload of onions that seemed to not want to be evicted from the sandwich.

Ignore my half eaten pretzel stick, that didn’t come with the entree

Shane said his quesadilla was also just OK, nothing special.

Mex-Irish

Our server was good, very talkative and sweet, although she did disappear a few times when glasses were empty and not reappear until we were about ready to go up to the bar and order for ourselves. Do they teach that tick to all of the servers here? I seem to remember that disappearing act happening a lot on our last visit. But she also tried to give Ted an extra Guinness at the end of the night, so maybe that was her way of making up for it? I’d like to say we’ll return to find out, but that’s probably pretty doubtful at this point. The way things have been going with this place so far, the third time is either the charm … or one of us ends up with food poisoning. That’s a game of Russian roulette I’m not sure any of us are willing to play.

Re-picked by: Shane
Original pick by: Amanda
Next pick: Steph

Steph

Ted

Shane

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 11/23/16: J. Dublin’s Pour House, Akron

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Apparently we’re on an Irish kick these days. Because nothing says November like Irish pubs.

To be honest, Ted’s initial pick this week was Creo’s – otherwise known as “the old Gus’s Chalet.” He’s been dying to go there ever since it opened, I think just to try and wash the taste out of our mouths from the old place.

Unfortunately, however, the specialty at Creo’s is Cajun food. Hearing that caused Shane to slam the brakes on that choice, for fear of a relapse of the great “night-before-Thanksgiving-food-poisoning/allergic-reaction-incident-of-2015,” which rendered him incapacitated for the entire Thanksgiving meal. (See also: why we can’t go to Lagerhead’s ever again, and why the smell of BBQ/Cajun food sends Shane running for the door of any restaurant)

In Shane’s words, “I’ll risk puking my guts out any other night of the year, Ted, but I’m not missing Thanksgiving again.”

Point taken.

So Ted called a “medical audible” and went with his next choice, J. Dublin’s.

And since we’re still being honest, I should point out that Shane, Amanda and I have actually been inside this place before. We actually even reviewed it, a few years ago, back when it was Johnny Malloy’s. Also known as the place where Amanda and I ordered draft beer, while Shane was the recipient of a lovely colorful, fruity mixed drink.

Good times.

The place still looks the same inside. They may have changed the name, but they certainly haven’t changed the decor at all.

J. Dublin’s has a decent beer list, so we all got drafts. Which turned out to be a good choice, since after one round I tried to switch to one of their specialty cocktails on the menu, only to be told that since it involved a pumpkin beer and they were apparently all out of every pumpkin beer available they couldn’t make it. OK. Because it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, makes sense that all the fall beers are out of stock. May as well just keep up with retail and bring out the summer shandy already, eh?

For appetizers, Ted got mussels, Shane and I got the southwestern egg rolls, and Amanda and Jerrid got the tater barrels.

Meal of mussels

Meal of mussels

Something fried and phallic looking. Must be our appetizer.

Something fried and phallic looking. Must be our appetizer.

Are you gonna eat those tots?

Are you gonna eat those tots?

The mussels were really good, and you seemed to get a decent amount for something on the appetizer menu. The egg rolls were very tasty. And the tater barrels – which are essentially just tater tots with bacon on them – were also good.

Shane got the Wednesday steak special, which is a steak and potato/fries for $7.99. What a bargain! Yeah, no. Not if you’re super hungry anyway. I’m not sure how many ounces the steak was supposed to be, but when it came out it looked like a piece that someone cut off to sample and left the real meal in the back room. It was like an appetizer steak. Or something from the children’s menu. Especially for someone like Shane, who probably could’ve finished it off in about three bites if he wanted to.

Oh how cute. I think the knife is bigger than the meat it's supposed to cut.

Oh how cute. I think the knife is bigger than the meat it’s supposed to cut.

At least he was smart to get five of the garlic parm wings to go along with it. Good move.

Saving Shane from starvation

Saving Shane from starvation

Amanda and I both had the Philly cheese steak with fries. Well, to be clear, the sandwich actually doesn’t come with fries – you have to order them separate. Seems strange, no? I mean, we’ve been places where you just get sandwiches, and all of the sides are extra. And here it clearly states on the menu that all of the burgers and wraps come with fries. But I guess extending that side option to Philly cheese steaks and other assorted non-burger sandwiches was just running them dry in the budget? Sounds plausible.

Imagine how empty that plate would look without the fries

Imagine how empty that plate would look without the fries

In any case, both the sandwich and the fries were solid choices, very tasty.

Jerrid got the Mac attack burger (as well as the free fries that came with it, lucky bastard) and five of the cool ranch wings. Wait, what – cool ranch? That’s a flavor we haven’t heard before. And there was quite a bit of debate at our table about whether or not the sauce would come out tasting like Cool Ranch Doritos.

Sadly, it did not. Sorry to ruin the surprise.

Non Dorito flavored

Non Dorito flavored

Cheesy

Cheesy

Ted got the Dublin burger, which is like a reuben and a burger all rolled into one. Because we didn’t get enough corned beef last week? Right. Also, I’ll repeat myself from last week – we are in an Irish place. And since the rest of us didn’t step up like we did last Wednesday I guess he had to be the one to take one for the team and actually order something Irish on the menu. Thanks, Ted.

Wait, why does he have two condiment cups?

Wait, why does he have two condiment cups?

Although that kinda bit him in the ass, since he said the corned beef was not very good. Especially after what we had last week. Also, seems strange for an Irish place. But I guess strange is a little bit of a theme for this week, so whatever.

All in all, J. Dublin’s was a solid pick. The food was decent, the service was good, and the place is definitely large enough to host about 100 of your closest friends without disrupting any other tables, should you care to try something like that. I mean, options, people. We’re here to help with things like that. You’re welcome.

I’d also like to point out that the guys are like a who’s who of Top 10 college football in their apparel choices this week. Kinda makes you wonder how they all get along so well, no?

Representing Alabama - Shane

Representing Alabama – Shane

Representing Ohio State - Ted

Representing Ohio State – Ted

And representing Michigan - Jerrid

And representing Michigan – Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jerrid

WTGW 10/12/16: Tacos Mexicanos, Macedonia

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Alternate title to this post: always judge a Mexican place on their ability to make margaritas.

More on that in a minute.

So, since Ted was enjoying a week in Florida and didn’t even consider the option of flying back just to participate in WTGW (boo, hiss), I took advantage of his absence to choose one of the lesser chosen WTGW ethnic foods – Mexican. You know, because they usually slather everything in cheese, and we all know by now that’s like Ted’s version of hell.

I was told about Tacos Mexicanos by a coworker, who said she drives past it every night on her way home and that it was always packed – particularly on $1.00 “Taco Tuesdays.”

Needless to say, since tonight was not a Tuesday, nor were the tacos $1.00, it was a little less packed this evening. Just keep that in mind as you read on.

I noticed on the specials board as we entered that they were featuring a pumpkin margarita. My initial reaction was that that sounded kind of interestingly gross … but then I thought what the hell, it is fall after all, and if they can pumpkin out everything from cream cheese to potato chips, I may as well give it a shot.

Let’s just day I should’ve trusted my first instinct.

The best way I can possibly describe this drink is that is looks like butternut squash soup, but tastes like tequila with a bit of a spice aftertaste.

Sounds delightful, no?

Margaritas should not be this color. Ever.

Margaritas should not be this color. Ever.

Shane and Jerrid both opted for the mango strawberry margaritas. And I was extremely jealous … until Shane eventually took pity on me sitting there sullenly stirring my margarita and traded his mango strawberry for my pumpkin. Not because he thought mine was good, mind you, but more because he was worried I would waste alcohol. Priorities.

Yeah, well, the mango strawberry isn’t much better. It was basically a crapload of tequila, with a little bit of some fruit flavor that tasted neither like strawberries or mangoes.

Better color, not better flavor.

Better color, not better flavor.

So that begs the question, how can you trust a Mexican place that can’t make a good margarita? It’s like sacriligious.

It was about this time that Amanda realized she and Jerrid had actually been to Tacos Mexicanos once before, back when the place first opened … and they didn’t have their liquor license yet so they couldn’t serve alcohol.

I might suggest they go back to that idea until they hire a bartender that knows more about mixing drinks. Until then it seems they’re just wasting cheap tequila.

Anyway.

So onto food. Since all the pictures kind of look alike (as you’ll have at a Mexican place), I’ll try to keep these straight.

Amanda got the burrito Mexicano.

Mexican stuff in a shell with sauce and cheese, take one

Mexican stuff in a shell with sauce and cheese, take one

Jerrid got the beef chimichangas.

Mexican stuff in shells with sauce and cheese, take two

Mexican stuff in shells with sauce and cheese, take two

I got the fire burrito.

Mexican stuff in a shell with sauce and cheese, take three. No wonder they only have like three things photographed on the menus

Mexican stuff in a shell with sauce and cheese, take three. No wonder they only have like three things photographed on the menus

Shane got the quesadilla skillet – after much debate since they didn’t have his usual fajita quesadilla.

Shane's looks like a pizza

Shane’s looks like a pizza

 

All of the above was just OK. None of us really had anything much specific to say about it – I mean, it was typical Mexican food. Put lots of meat, sauce and cheese into or on top of a tortilla shell, then serve with rice, beans, more sauce and more cheese. Repeat.

Shane did mention that his quesadilla could’ve used more filling. And I will say that I agree with that. Mine in particular was pretty much just shredded chicken inside the shell, no veggies or sauce or anything. Because that screams flavorful.

Although somehow that did make it super hot. Must’ve been the sauce on the top – and maybe I should be glad there was none inside, because wherever this heat was coming from, it was most certainly enough. And before all you smartasses point it out, yes, I know that I ordered the “fire burrito.” Clearly they got one thing right in this place with that title. Just one.

Also, the irony of the lack of a good margarita to wash this down was not lost on me.

So already we have two strikes … let’s just add one more with the service. For starters, part of the reason we – and I assume about half of America – go to Mexican restaurants is for the promise of never-ending free basket of chips and salsa that just seems to regenerate at your table nonstop all night long.

Am I wrong?

Well, let’s just say don’t arrive here hungry.

As usual, Amanda and Jerrid had been there for a little bit before Shane and I arrived, and were almost through the first basket of chips and bowl of salsa when we sat down. So you’d think when the server noticed two new people joined the table they would bring more, right? Yeah, no. We waited. And waited. And ordered our drinks. And waited. And ordered our meals. And got our crappy drinks. And then FINALLY someone asked if we wanted more chips and salsa. Um, yes. Was it that fact that we were pretty much fighting over the tiny scraps and crumbs at that point that tipped you off?

And then one our food arrived, Shane was waiting on his side of guac for almost as long as the refreshment of chips – and keep in mind he won’t start eating his food until he has it, so you’d think the fact that one plate was untouched at our table would be cause for a server to stop and ask how we were doing. But once again, you’d be wrong.

I guess the moral here is to stop thinking.

So by about 7:30PM, the place was pretty empty, only us and about two other tables. And yet the service didn’t get any better, considering they had fewer tables to check on. Did they send the servers home with the guests? Were there bartending lessons going on somewhere? (that I might be able to forgive, just sayin) Do they keep the actual good margaritas in the back and the servers go back and get sloshed on them after 7:00?

It’s a mystery, folks. And one I’m not interested in going back to find out the answer to.

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Amanda
Tacos Mexicanos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/7/16: New Era, Akron

Standard

Ah, New Era. Otherwise known as a place that maybe should have the word “Chalet” in the title. We may have figured out where at least some of those former patrons defected to after good ole Gus’s closed a while back.

Which may also explain why the place was nearly empty when we arrived just before 7PM. And why by 8:15PM we were getting the “I really hope they leave soon so we can all go home” glances from the staff.

Because that’s fun.

OK, full disclosure – Shane and I have actually eaten here before, not all that long ago, when his parents invited us out to eat with them. And I think both of us were in silent agreement that while the place wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t our scene. Maybe because we aren’t over the age of 50. Whatevs.

So considering Ted’s track record with picking places for that age bracket, it didn’t really surprise us when he announced this as his pick. And since it is, in fact, Ted’s pick and he hasn’t been here before then it’s still within the WTGW group visit rules.

Yes, we have rules. We take this very seriously. Please.

Just in case it would provide us with a different experience this time around, we opted for seating in the bar area instead of the dining room. Plus we like beer, and it’s best to be closer to it in these instances. I mean, priorities.

We could’ve brought about 87 of our closest friends into the bar area with us, too, BTW. When the bartender told us to take a seat anywhere, I think all of our eyes immediately drifted to the banquet room style area just past the actual bar. It was like showing up to a wedding reception on the wrong night.

So that explains why we sat at the bar. Well, that and the “we like beer” line from a few paragraphs ago. Try to keep up. We were also the only ones in the room, save for the bartender and one other bar stool warmer, who I only heard utter two sentences the entire time we shared the same air: “Another beer please,” and “Can I get a bag of chips?”

Clearly his entertaining budget is minimal. But at least he’s polite.

Now, when I say bar, know that that word is used in kind of a satirical form here. Meaning that I think we have more variety of beer in our fridge right now than they do here. There’s three beers on draft – Miller lite, Bud light and Molson. Wait, Molson? That’s something you don’t see everyday. I’m not guessing there’s a huge influx of Canadians in this part of Akron. Must be their version of a “fancy” beer.

Ted inquired about any dark beers in bottles .. and ended up with a Killians. So no then. The rest of us just went the simple lite draft route. Because, simplicity.

But honestly, this place is really more of an ethnic, family restaurant than a true bar and grille. Which is a nice change for our group in some ways … but it also translates to “instead of grease, you’ll eat a lot of heavy comfort food.” Pick your poison, I guess.

In an effort to stick as close to our usual bar & grille roots as possible, though, we all ordered something fried for appetizers. See also: we love to test the fate of our arteries. Shane and I got the mozzarella sticks, Ted got breaded mushrooms, and Jerrid and Amanda gt the jalepeno poppers. All of which were good – because, well let’s face it, if they screwed those up then there was really no hope for our actual meals.

I'm not sure why we even take pictures of these, they look the same everywhere

I’m not sure why we even take pictures of these, they look the same everywhere

More fried stuff

More fried stuff

We should just bring our own deep fryer with us

We should just bring our own deep fryer with us

They also brought out a basket of bread, and a plate of something they referred to as sweet raisin bread. You could’ve called it “heaven on a plate,” because I think we all proclaimed that bread to be the real winner of the evening. It was warm, and you didn’t even need butter, it was that sweet.

There’s a joke there. I’ll let you all use your imaginations.

The lone survivor. Which I think disappeared about five minutes after this photo.

The lone survivor. Which I think disappeared about five minutes after this photo.

OK, so the special on Wednesdays is stuffed peppers. Which Ted was all over. Although once the pepper – yes, single pepper – arrived in front of him he was almost visibly disappointed that there was only one on the plate. But after he started eating it he said he knew that two would’ve been way too much food. And if you’ve been following along you know those are not words we throw around lightly in this group. He said it was super filling and really good.

Don't let the size fool you.

Don’t let the size fool you.

Shane got the spaghetti and meatballs. Well, OK, the actual dish is spaghetti and meatball – singular, what is it with lonely food at this place? – but this is Shane so you know he wouldn’t be happy with just one. He ordered a second one for $1.50, which ended up being just enough.

"I'd like an extra ball, please"

“I’d like an extra ball, please”

Jerrid got the all dark meat fried chicken. Because he apparently wanted to hold up all of our orders coming out of the kitchen at the same time, since we were told that the chicken takes the longest to make. Dammit Jerrid.

Fried, fried and kinda, sorta vegetable

Fried, fried and kinda, sorta vegetable

He said it was good, no complaints. Well, other than trying to get the parmesan cheese to pour out of the container onto his side dishes, but that’s besides the point.

Chicken, are you ready for your closeup?

Chicken, are you ready for your closeup?

On a related note, that was what Shane and I had gotten the last time we were there – I got the all white meat, and Shane got mixed – and we thought it was just OK. Not a lot of flavor to it, although that may have been because our taste buds were burned off after it was delivered to us at a scalding, hotter-than-the-sun remperature. I swear I couldn’t feel my fingertips for the next day and a half after picking those pieces up.

But I digress.

Amanda and I were almost twinsies with our orders this week, as I got the chili and a grilled ham and cheese – and Amanda also got chili but had to one-up me in the healthy department with a chef salad. Thanks. Although joke was on her because they sneakily put onions on the salad, which didn’t make her happy.

Wait, this isn't fried ... is that allowed?

Wait, this isn’t fried … is that allowed?

But aside from OnionGate she said things were good.

I was disappointed that my chili was cold (did they turn down the temp on everything since our last visit? WTH.) but the sandwich was good.

Chilled chili = not as impressive

Chilled chili = not as impressive

Will we go back? Eh. I mean, the food was OK, but nothing I absolutely have to have again … as evidenced when Ted announced his pick on our drive over and Shane and I just kind of looked at each other like he had told us he was taking us for an evening of bowling with a pack of housecats. I mean, it’s certainly not horrible – on the one-to-Gus’s meter (with Gus’s being the worst, obviously) I would give it about a seven. But honestly that’s more for the atmosphere than for the food itself. We’re lively people, and being able to hear a pin drop in the bar, or feel like you might scare the old grandmother-turned-chef in the back of the kitchen if you cheer during the ballgame isn’t exactly our idea of a fun night. Granted it was a cheap night – less than $50 for drinks, an app and meals for both Shane and I … but that also was partially because the “we’re locking the door behind you as soon as you walk out of it” stares from the employees also meant we left before the sun even went down.

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Imitating Amanda

Imitating Amanda

Ted

Ted

Imitating Shane

Imitating Shane

Shane's new nickname should just be "the blur"

Shane’s new nickname should just be “the blur”

???

???

Practicing his cheerleading moves

Practicing his cheerleading moves?

Whatever.

Whatever.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jerrid

New Era Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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

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

Must. Not. Break. Down.

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

Well at least "Lagunitas" sounds Mexican, no?

Well at least “Lagunitas” sounds Mexican, no?

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

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

I should know by now not to trust descriptions

I should know by now not to trust descriptions

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

Check out the size of that berry!

Check out the size of that berry!

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

Winner winner chicken dinner

Winner winner chicken dinner

And for Amanda … water. Boo.

No rum for you!

No rum for you!

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

That's not a hot dog. Really.

That’s not a hot dog. Really.

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

Fun to say, good to eat

Fun to say, good to eat

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

We like our guac non-fancy, just tasty

We like our guac non-fancy, just tasty

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

Good times.

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

Toast and salsa?

Toast and salsa?

Moving on.

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

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

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

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

That rice was a meal in itself

That rice was a meal in itself

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

Same shells, different filling

Same shells, different filling

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

Ted's side dish was apparently an extra taco

Ted’s side dish was apparently an extra taco

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

They're all starting to look the same

They’re all starting to look the same

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

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

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

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

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

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

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

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