WTGW 3/4/20: Tommy’s Bar & Grille, Akron

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Oh Tommy’s, where have you been all of our existence? Or, at the very least, where were you last week as we were experiencing the thrill of unreliable service and feeling like we inconvenienced bartenders as we asked them to let us know what the White Claw flavors might be? 

Ironically, as it turns out, we were pretty much right around the corner. Just going to show that it’s amazing what different worlds exist probably not even a half mile away from one another.

I mean, there’s still pizza. But that was pretty much the only similarity. 

Speaking of pizza, do you think that symbol next to the numbers 9, 12 and 16 denotes the size of the pie, or the number of slices?

Because we heard nine slice pizzas are kind of a thing now, especially on this side of town. 

If you don’t get that last line, I implore you to go read last week’s post. It will make more sense than you want it to after that. And quite honestly if you’re going to continue to read this blog, you probably want to be in on this little inside joke, as chances are this isn’t by any means the last time we’ll reference it. We like to beat these things into the ground with this group.

I mean, anyone up for a trip to Gus’ Chalet? No? 

Anyway.

Tommy’s is definitely off the radar, and by that I mean it seems we might be about the only people who realized it was open on a Wednesday night. Well, I take that back – there were a few people who came in to pick up take out orders. They definitely seem to be busier at the to-go counter than on the bar side of the space. But other than the five minutes or so each of those customers stayed in the place to grab their orders and pay, it was pretty much just our own little private party with the bartender.

Not that anything is wrong with that, of course. Again, if you want to reference last week, when we couldn’t get the attention of not one, not two, but three different bartenders … it was a relatively nice change of pace to be the sole apple of this person’s eye for a few hours. 

 

WHAT WE ORDERED

Pizza. Duh. It’s apparently the new “burgers and wings” of this group. 

Jason, Shane and Ted all decided to take their chances for another week with this option, even though the nine slice pie was apparently not something they acknowledge at this particular locale. 

Ted got the Road Kill pizza, which is just basically a less fancy way of saying “give me a pizza with every kind of meat possible on top of it.”

Shane got the Deluxe Pizza.

He got a smaller size pizza because he also wanted to get six of the Jumbo Garlic wings. Old habits die hard.

I don’t think there was a fancy name for Jason’s pizza because he just picked the size and added the toppings himself. His had pepperoni, sausage and mushroom on it.

Jason and Cassi also got the garlic bread to start off with. They opted for the small order, which is only four slices. FYI, the large is eight slices. Which sounds excessive but I guess for $11.95 it better be.

They look like tiny little French bread pizzas, no? Points just for cuteness factor alone.

Cassi and I both got Italian subs for our meals, after Cassi took over for Shane in the usual bartender inquisition of the menu and asked what he liked best. He was adamant about the Italian sub being his absolute favorite on the menu, so despite throwing a bit of a wrench in the plans since that wasn’t something either of us were even considering before he said it, we both decided to try it. I mean, what the hell, right? 

I also got a side of fries, since the menu stated they were “fresh cut,” and we all know that’s like advertising that they’re made with liquid gold. Also the guys were talking about McDonald’s fries on the drive over, so in full disclosure that may have influenced my decision just a tad as well.

Taking over for my husband in the category of “trying to order as many items on the menu as possible,” I rounded out the order with an attempt to be healthy by also getting … you guessed it … a side salad. Which I debated about because it was $5.95, a seemingly somewhat exorbatant price for a salad meant to accompany your meal and not be the only item on it. When I asked if it was giant, that was because I was slightly scared of what might arrive.

It certainly wasn’t giant – which may have made me slightly put off about the price, except that the pepperoni, mozzarella and black olives wore me down. I mean, $5.95 for just some lettuce and cucumbers would’ve been disappointing, but this was by far more acceptable. 

 

THE VERDICT

Hey, here’s a fun question that I bet you’ve probably never truly pondered before … what would you do for fresh, delicious, soft bread? 

You’re welcome for the new party ice breaker. 

But I ask that, because I think it’s pretty clear in this group that some of us would probably be convinced to jump from a tall building or walk through a pit of fire if that prize were awaiting us at the other end. 

Fortunately in the case of Tommy’s, no one is requiring American Ninja Warrior style heroics just to get our food, but I think we would all agree that some lengths would be unquestionably scaled in the future for anything that arrived in front of us in some sort of carb-laden form after this visit.

From the garlic bread to the pizza dough to the piece of bread that came with my salad, we were definitely ready to gobble up anything doughy that came near our table. 

I think I called my salad roll “fluffy like a cloud.” So, you know, there’s that. 

Shane was happy because the wings that were advertised as “jumbo” on the menu most definitely arrived looking so, so that was a win. We also won’t have to worry about being visited by vampires any time soon, because I think the amount of garlic they were made with will keep us all under cover for some time. That scent certainly wafted to the opposite end of the table pretty quickly.

And since we all left with to-go boxes at the end of the evening, we weren’t complaining at all about the size of the meals for the prices that we paid.

Also now that we’re tried and deemed the bread and wings truly delicious, this item on the menu that’s actually named the “delicious chicken dinner” holds a lot of street cred. Who volunteers to get that the next time we come in?

I’m sure that Tommy’s will be seeing us again sometime soon. Everything we tried was good, and the service was excellent. I mean, I realize we were practically the only ones there, so it would be interesting to go back when it’s busy and see if that changes things – but honestly I don’t think it will. It seems like the kind of place that just takes care of people no matter what.

Plus, bread-things. Enough said. 

Picked by: Shane (as his “make-good” for the forced pick of awfulness from last week)
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 2/26/20: Giovanni’s Pizza & Sports Bar, Akron

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Time for a WTGW Riddle: this week’s pick is a place that brings back quite a few memories for us on the WTGW crew, because we’ve actually been there several times in the past … although this time around it’s technically not a revisit. How is this possible?

Answer: it changes names. A lot. 

Probably the best way to immediately put a mental picture in anyone’s head of where we went this week would be to give you these two names. J Dublin’s (and our subsequent revisit), and Johnny Malloy’s. 

In Shane’s defense, he had a super scary sketch pick up lined up over in Bedford, but tonight’s “I’m not letting you get over winter that easily” snow storm kept us local. So we decided to come here and see what’s new other than the name.

Spoiler alert, nothing.

Now known as Giovanni’s, the place still serves up pizzas, wings and sandwiches. It still has the same huge and strangely arranged interior with a giant bar in the center of the large room, and tables around the edges.

And it’s still not busy.

By the time you’re done reading this you’ll probably have a pretty good idea as to why that is.  

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So, yeah, it’s a funny thing about working at a bar or restaurant, it actually helps to be nice to people. And maybe know a little bit about the place you’re working. 

We sat down at a table on the far right side of the room (it’s seat yourself, not shockingly), and our server was great about approaching us and immediately asking if we want drinks. Um, sure, but maybe here’s where a beer list, or specials board, or perhaps just use of the English language would be helpful in pointing us toward the direction of what we might like to order? 

Yeah, no such luck. We got a blank stare until Cassi asked if there were any specials (“no”) and then I countered with “Do you have White Claw or Truly?” which earned me a look as if I has just asked her to please take a plastic straw and stab me repeatedly in the eyeball. 

And don’t even get her started on ACTUALLY HAVING TO WALK TO THE COOLER TO CHECK ON FLAVORS.

I mean, the nerve. 

I’m just going to throw this out there, probably making a list of some kind could eleviate all of these issues. Just a guess. I’m not positive. 

But considering the shape of the photocopied menus in various states of sun fading or perhaps paper color choice we received when she returned with our drinks, I have to admit I’m not at all surprised that another printed listing of any kind might be an issue.

Alright then.

So we get our drinks, and the menus, and apparently we must all look like we have issues comprehending food options, because like 20 minutes later still no server has reappeared to see what we might want to order.

I should also reiterate here that it wasn’t at all busy, there were three bartenders doubling as servers, and they could all clearly see our table from their places by or behind the bar.

I mean, the girl who originally gave us our menus and was not at all pleased with having to walk over to consult the cooler to know if our drink options were in stock was clearly SUPER BUSY flirting with one of the pool players who kept appearing at the bar to order shots of Crown Royal, so I can see how that totally would take every moment of her very busy shift to handle.

I have to believe that these are the very statements that the rolling eyes emoji was created to express the emotion behind. 

So, OK, let’s fast forward to the point when we were just about to gather our things and ask for the bill for our drinks, as we consulted phone apps to see what other restaurants in the immediate area might be open and actually wanting to serve us, when one of the other bartenders I think sensed our restlessness and approached us to see if we still needed to order. 

And so we stayed. *sigh* 

I mean, at that point it was really a game of who might be able to serve us faster: another place that we would have to drive to and start all over with, or this place that was clearly already dropping the ball. Nothing like playing Russian roulette with your dinner service. 

But I’m glad to share that we did eventually get food. And of course more than a few comments to go along with it. 

Lets start with Ted. He ordered the side of jojos as an app.

So far so good. 

But then for his dinner he opted for a French dip with a side of chili.

Wow, that chili looks a lot like French Fries. I mean, call me crazy, but someone seems to have taken some cooking liberties there. 

Oh wait, there it is.

Because we always need more food at our table.

Meanwhile, Shane and I started with the southwestern egg rolls.

Shane got 15 wings. He asked the server about the Giovanni dry rub sauce, to which he was told that it was “it’s spicy, but not, but it is a dry rub.”  Oh, well, thanks. Clears that right up. Glad to have asked. 

So he ended up with five of those, along with five Cajun and five honey mustard.

I got a side salad and 10 wings, which I split between the mango habanero and spicy honey BBQ. 

Cassi and Jason got the parm puffs as an app.

Or, as Cassi renamed them after one bite, little pieces of heaven. They may want to rethink their marketing. I mean, it’s not as clear cut as a dry rub wing sauce that says so in the name, but maybe it would at least give the servers something to talk about with patrons. 

For dinner, Cassi got a side salad and a calzone. 

Jason ordered a BBQ chicken pizza.

Now, we need to talk about this pizza or a minute before I show you a picture of it – because I have a feeling this is something that may well be referenced well into eternity with this group. (wait, us beat something into the ground? Never!) But seriously, we’re talking “Russ’ Ballet” level of legacy here. 

So, when Jason was contemplating this pizza, he asked our lovely server how many slices were in each size. And was told that the small pizza is six slices, and the medium pizza is nine.

Wait, what now?

Nine? 

Um, that’s impossible.

Like, how do you equally cut a circle into nine pieces? I’m definitely no math major, but even I was scratching my head at that level of geometry. If this is possible, I think we just invented a new shape. Alert the proper authorities!

Never mind, false alarm.

Yeah, so as you can see from the picture, it actually has six slices. So, wait, is this the small pizza then? 

Well it doesn’t really matter, because we were told as we were waiting for the orders to come out that the pizza would actually be comped because the cook supposedly put the order in wrong.

So maybe it WAS supposed to be a nine slice pizza after all then? I’m so confused. 

But ironically, the pizza came out at the same time as Ted’s chili (the real bowl, not the one that looked like French Fries), which was approximately three minutes after the rest of the food. Hmmm. OK then. Could he maybe have just “misplaced” all of our orders and we could’ve just called this evening a wash? 

THE VERDICT

Well poor Ted had to eat his chili with a fork since he wasn’t offered a spoon. But considering how greasy it was, that utensil may have actually been more appropriate. 

It was definitely more helpful in terms of his sandwich, which unfortunately arrived with a large helping of cheese, and we all know how thrilled Ted of all people is about copious amounts of that particular condiment. He spent a good amount of time de-cheesing his sandwich before he could even take one bite.  

And when he did, let’s just say that it’s a good thing his avertion to cheese isn’t due to dairy intolerance, because the bread was saturated in butter. Like someone dipped it in a stick of melted margarine and let it soak up for a while.

Mmmmm. Tasty. 

Speaking of saturation, they definitely used that recipe for the wing sauce as well, at least for mine. It was like my wings had their own private swimming pool. It’s too bad the flavor seemed to be missing from the recipe when they quadrupled it to make such an abundance. I mean, it was OK. Not great. Just … OK. 

Cassi only ate one slice of her calzone, but that was more because she was so full from the “little slices of heaven” and not because it was anything awful. And she did take the rest home, so it wasn’t a complete loss. 

But I think the thing that has earned Giovanni’s a place in our minds, conversations, and as the certain brunt of many, many of our future punchlines is … you guessed it … the 9-slice pizza. Well, I mean, it wasn’t really … but that will forever be our memory of it. And, I mean, let’s face it – if they were truly forward thinking here, they would find a way to actually make that happen and market it.

Because honestly, a signature item like that may be just what this place really needs to finally give it the footing it takes to survive in this obviously cursed spot of ill-fated Italian restaurants and sports bars. Otherwise, it’s no different than the last two names that preceded it. We can get Italian food at 25 other local places, and most of them would offer us better service that didn’t have us looking for a new location 20 minutes in or making us feel like we’re greatly inconveniencing the servers and bartenders with our thirst and hunger. At this point, we don’t have any reason to go back. 

But a 9-slice pizza … I mean, come on. That’s something special right there. 

It’s also refreshing to see White Claw is basically the same price as tequila. Because, you know, they’re pretty much the same.

This post has evoked so many emoji usage options, and not in a good way.

Picked by … well, Shane, kind of. But since his hands were a little bit tied on this one, we all agreed to give him a do-over for next week. So he gets another try before Cassi takes over the following week.

WTGW 1/8/20: Tiki Underground, Boston Heights

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Happy New Year, WTGW-ers!

Sorry for the absence, but with major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Wednesdays this year, we had to sit a few weeks out. I mean, as much as we love showcasing our functioning alcoholism and ability to continuously outsmart the odds of a heart attack with cholesterol-laded foods … OK, so really the holidays aren’t much different than any normal Wednesday for us, other than they provide an opportunity to share those qualities with our families, in the comfort of our own homes.

So there’s that.

But here we are in 2020, and nothing says crisp January evening like a tiki bar, am I right?

Tiki Underground has actually been a kind of “edge of the list” pick for the group for a bit now, ever since it opened in 2017(ish?).  I think part of the reason we were waiting to pick it was because this ill-fated location never seemed to house any sort of restaurant for too long of a time period, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up that it might be something we liked that would also stick around.

Case in point, we’ve been to this building when it was a Mexican restaurant (pre-blog) … and then when it was a sports bar called Sidelines … not on a Wednesday, but instead for an Ohio State/Michigan football Saturday after we got kicked out of another place for showing up and walking in the unlocked door 10 minutes before opening time. Seems those owners might be related to the folks who own Harmon’s Pub down in Canton?

But those places closed in a relatively short span – we’ve only been doing this since 2013, kids – and so it’s not a stretch to say that we didn’t really have high hopes for this new place, especially with a theme this specific. If a sports bar can’t make it, can we seriously hedge our bets on Hawaiian drinks and Polynesian cooking?

Apparently, we can, since it’s still open three years later. Or, someone can, anyway. It just may not be us.

Did I spoil the suspense there?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So let’s talk about the drinks first, because there’s clearly a lot going on here in that department.

That’s a lot of words that all mean “alcohol” in some way.

I mean, it is a tiki bar, after all, and drinks are kind of the main point. So I guess they’re kind of winning in that respect?

Although they may want to turn up the lighting in the place a smidge so that we can read what is in said drinks. And before you joke about calling us old – which, full disclosure, we did to Ted when he pulled his phone out to use the flashlight feature just to read the menu – we weren’t the only ones who went down that road. I mean, if you can’t tell from the photos, it was pretty unlit in this place. There were lights behind the bar, but everywhere else they were certainly more decorative than functional.

Also, who doesn’t want to see … whatever this is … more clearly? Because we all love having nightmares.

So once we could finally read the menu, we discovered lots of rum drinks – which is on brand for this whole island theme. But for those of you who prefer to avoid the hard alcohol, they do also have regular beer. In fact a whole section of “old man beers” like PBR ($2 on Wednesdays!) and Bud Lite. And White Claw and wines.

I was the only one to order something fun.

The food special for Wednesday’s is an “adult happy meal.” Which is exactly what it sounds like it should be – a burger and fries, with a beer. At $10 it’s a little more pricey than McDonald’s … but, well … beer.

Jason got that.

Ted started out with edamame as his appetizer.

If you’re thinking that looks a little odd … well, so were we. It arrived already shelled, which is not how we’re used to seeing that particular dish served. Ted said he would offer to share it with us, but it would’ve been a little strange since we would all need forks.

He also got 12 of the Thai chili wings – which I don’t have a photo of because when I looked back a them later the darkness made them just look like giant lumps – and the garlic fries

Cassi and Jason ordered the Crab Rangoon for their app. See above note as to why there is no photo of this dish.

Have we mentioned it was dark in this place?

And then Cassi got six of the boneless garlic parm buffalo wings.

If you think that photo is bad, just imagine what the one of Ted’s wings and of the crab Rangoon looked like. This is clearly not the place to be taking any magazine quality food photos.

I got the chicken soft tacos and a side salad.

Shane ordered the same thing. Yep, the exact same thing. If you’re thinking that sounds strange, and that I also didn’t mention an appetizer for us … well, now might be a good time to mention that Healthy Shane has rejoined the group, as he seems to pretty much every January. Because we all love the fun of watching him watch all of us eat completely unhealthy meals – or in this case, drool over just the smell of the crab rangoon when it arrived at the table – and drinks we actually want to taste while he complains about still being hungry and makes a bitter beer face every time he sips his tequila and soda.

THE VERDICT

Unfortunately for Shane, Cassi confirmed that the crab rangoon tasted as good as it smelled.

However, she was less impressed with the sauce that was on her wings. It was also the same sauce that was on Ted’s fries, and he wasn’t crazy about it either.

So the moral is, avoid the garlic sauce.

Although if you ask Ted, he might tell you to just avoid the whole place altogether. Between the weird edamame, wings that were breaded more than he likes and a not-so-delicious sauce on the fries, it was pretty much a strike out for him. Add to that all of the mixed drinks being laden with rum and other random mixers Ted isn’t a fan of. And most of the beers were also not-Ted-friendly, which meant the only thing he could drink was a Guinness.

So yeah, it definitely earned less than a thumbs up in his book. He said the only redeeming factor for him was the service, which was decent. Sort of.

Shane and I thought the tacos were good. They kind of had a sweet taste to them, but they were pretty tasty. But I would much rather come back on Thursdays, though, when they’re only $5 for three tacos.

The place does have some decent specials, and some of the food is better than expected. But I’m not sure the “some” here was enough to warrant us a return visit. For certain we know we don’t want to return when the band from this particular night was back on stage. And I use the term “band” lightly, as it was really just a guy with a microphone and guitar, and a really, really loud speaker system. To say it was a little bit intense for the crowd of less than 10 that was in place on this particular evening would be an understatement. We probably could’ve reversed the lighting and sound levels in the place and made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 10/16/19: DeLuca’s Pizza Pub, Green

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Friends, if you will, indulge us for a moment for a story.

Once upon a time a group of food testing friends came across a bar that had everything they were looking for. There were drinks. There was food. And there was a lot of fun with some new friends, which culminated in a far later night out than folks of their age should likely indulge in, but that’s neither here nor there.

And they rejoiced.

I mean, doesn’t that look like fun?

It should also be noted that we only really know about four people in all of those photos.

The name of this magical place was Howie’s. It was situated next to a lake, the likes of which they didn’t see that evening because it was a chilly spring evening, and, well, occasionally this group makes smart choices.

But they vowed to return.

And they did, once or twice, on a few weekends and one particular 4th of a July.

But then the place closed. And they were sad for taking its existence for granted.

But wait! Thanks to the power of social media, it was learned that the owners opened a new place! A pizza pub, in nearby Green, called Deluca’s Pizza Pub.

An anxious wait followed, carefully watching social media for the eventual opening and the rave reviews that followed.

And so the group finally went to check it out. And discovered … well … first and foremost, that it was really difficult to find. Because the plaza lacks signage and lighting and, well, basically the look of actually being a habitat for real human life of any sort. Maybe we should work on making the theme more “great place to come eat” and less “we’re suffering from a permanent power outage,” no?

But beyond that observation, the next thing that became blatantly obvious was, well, it’s not Howie’s. Which is not to say it’s bad … but, well, it’s not Howies.

Read on …

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, pizza? Duh.

But first, ALL THE BREAD AND OIL. Like seriously, entire wheat fields were sacrificed to bring this spread to our table this evening.

Yes, that’s three orders of bread and oil on one table. Because who needs variety? And also:

Ok, now that we’re past that, let’s move on to the pizzas, since that is the specialty here after all. They have all sorts of specialty flavored pizza, but they for the most part are all NY style. So it you’re looking for deep dish, this is probably not your scene.

Shane got his own pizza – the Wise Guy – because, well, see the photo above.

For clarity’s sake, this is a 10 inch pizza. Which we all took one look at upon arrival and knew would barely be enough for Shane alone, so fortunately I was wise enough to order my own meal.

Cassi and Jason got the much larger Meatball pizza to share.

That’s more like it.

Cassi also got a side salad.

Ted got a pizza he made himself with toppings, not a specialty one. Well, by “made himself” I mean he picked out the toppings, not that he actually went back into the kitchen and cooked it himself – which I would think is obvious, but just clarifying. I mean, could you imagine the outrage? We got bent out of shape when we had to go up and order our own food last week, let’s not even talk about what kind of world it would be if they expected us to enter the kitchen and cook something.

Anyway.

He chose sausage, pepperoni and meatballs. It had minimal cheese, by the server’s admission because of all the meats covering it. To which we all replied in a resounding chorus that that’s exactly how Ted likes it.

I got a calzone with mushrooms and sausage, and a side salad

THE VERDICT

So overall, taste-wise, everything was good. The flavors in the pizza and the calzone were both delicious. The dough especially was amazing, and you could tell it’s all fresh made – even without the note in the menu mentioning the lack of freezers or fryers in the back kitchen. In fact, if all four pieces could’ve been as doughy as the end two slices I might not have been able to hold myself back from eating the whole thing and getting rolled out the back door to the parking lot.

Which, fortunately is shrouded in darkness so at least no one would’ve seen. Maybe we’ve cracked the code on this while lighting situation after all.

Admittedly Shane was somewhat disappointed that the pizzas were thin crust, because he would’ve rather enjoyed the doughier version. Or at least probably been less hungry when we left.

Our bounty of bread and oil was arguably the best part of the meal. Props to the server who told us to smash the garlic cloves into the oil rather than out previous method of attempting to eat them an entire clove at a time. And the bread was really flavorful. While it didn’t soak up the oil entirely, the taste of the bread alone made up for that. It was like those pita crisp crackers turned into a full piece of bread.

Cassi liked her salad so much that she claimed she wanted them to pack her a salad for tomorrow’s lunch. Oh, hey, thank you to-go menu. That worked out well.

But in particular the cheese on the salad was amazing. You could tell it was fresh, not packaged from the Market District grocery down the street.

And the homemade sausage in my calzone was to die for.

So, if you’re following along here, so far on taste one we’re giving DeLucas a five-thumbs-up rating.

But here are our biggest issues with the place, and the reason for us saying it’s not Howie’s – and it won’t get the stellar overall rating that we gave that place. For one, the atmosphere. Look, I get the reasoning behind wanting to make the move from rowdy “let’s all do shots at 7PM” waterfront bar to classier pizza pub where mixed drinks are called “handcrafted cocktails” and seasonal pumpkin cider is served on draft.

But, well, this leap may just be a little too much for this particular area. I mean, let’s look around … by 7:30PM, we were literally the only people in the place that couldn’t walk into the kitchen without being told we didn’t belong there.

Which may dovetail into our second issue … price. I mean, we get the whole fresh-made thing. And we both enjoy and appreciate that. But, well, paying $14 for a just a step above personal pan pizza and $6 for a draft cider was a little bit disheartening. Maybe in NYC that flies, but not in Green, Ohio.

So chances are that as much as we may have enjoyed the pizzas and other bread and cheese products here … we won’t be sitting here a few years from now retelling the story of how much we love Deluca’s. At least not in the same way we loved Howie’s, anyway.

*sigh*

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 9/11/19: REVISIT – Retz’s Laconi, Cuyahoga Falls

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So we’re down a person this week, with Cassi out on a work trip. Which means it’s revisit time for the rest of the group.

A feat which was slightly more difficult than you would think. We were trying to stay close to home, so once we filed through some of our nearby favs, we opted for the Noisy Oyster. But forgot that Wednesdays are trivia nights, and apparently ALL OF CUYAHOGA FALLS shows up to vie for the 20 tables available on this place.

So, yeah, that didn’t work out.

Special shout out to the non-helpful man sitting outside who told us on our way back to the car that next time we should try arriving before 5:30 if we want to get a table on trivia night. Thanks, mister. I’ll be sure to pass that along to my boss as an excuse as to why I need to leave my job early the next time we want to go there on a Wednesday night.

Back to the drawing board. Our usual revisit go-to, R. Shea’s, looked packed, and even though I’m sure we could get a table at The Getaway, we likely wouldn’t be served our food until about 10pm. Hmm, where else haven’t we been for a while?

Ah, Retz Laconi. It’s been almost three years since our last visit to this little tucked away neighborhood bar and restaurant, so we were well overdue for a revisit.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Of course Shane demanded a storytime presentation of the blog post from the last visit so he knew what to order this time around. I’m glad my phone is the only one that seems to work for these ventures?

But we did learn that Shane chose the eggplant parm in that last visit, partially for the intriguing aspect of the eggplant being rolled in cheese and deep fried.

Because that sounds nothing like anything any of our total health but selves would ever order, right?

And Ted of course bypassed the Italian menu completely and ordered our group staple of a burger (served Ted-stye, minus the cheese) with wings.

Shocking, I know.

This time around, the guys all opted for their own personal pizzas, combined with orders of wings. So clearly Shane learned his lesson from last time when he ordered an entree and wings but then couldn’t eat the wings because he was too full.

We truly are creatures of habit in this group.

Anyway.

Back to 2019, where, as mentioned, we have a theme for tonight of pizza and wings. No burgers this time around. Surprisingly.

Ted got 12 hot wings and a medium meat lovers pizza.

Jason got six garlic parm wings, six honey mustard wings, and a medium sweet BBQ chicken pizza.

Shane got 12 garlic parm wings, and a small meat lovers pizza.

I kept with the wing night theme, but decided on a side salad instead of a full pizza to go along with them. One of these things is not like the other in this group.

And that unlike thing is also something I seemingly forgot to take a photo of, so you’ll just have to use your imagination on my order. Just picture the wings from those photos above, and replace the large circle of carbs, gluten and meat covered in melted cheese with a small bowl of something green covered in non-melted cheese. Done.

THE VERDICT

The guys gave the pizzas a thumbs up. Although Ted took half of his home – because, well, if you haven’t noticed there was a crapload of food on our table. And he also ordered a medium pizza all for himself.

Shane said he would eat the pizza first next time so he’s not as full by the time he gets to that portion of the meal. So if you’re keeping track here, note that he didn’t say he would order less food, just that he would change the order in which he consumed it so as to make sure he got to try everything.

Also we all know how Shane needs to let his food cool to the temperature of a hardwood floor in winter, so Im also noting that if we have to wait for him to eat his pizza first then maybe we should call ahead and have them prepare it before we arrive so we aren’t still there at midnight waiting for it to cool down.

Mine and Shane’s bill was $46 before tip. Jason’s and Ted’s bills were each around $35 before tip. That damn medium pizza was definitely the kicker.

Also my mixed drinks were the same price as Shane’s beers ($4) … and being that all I tasted was cherry I can only assume that there was definitely more rum than coke involved with those. For once I may have actually won the drink lottery and chosen wisely.

Side note – we’re on hiatus from new picks for most of this month, as every week we seem to have at least one member of the group with a work or vacation conflict. So check back for more revisits, and we’ll see you in October for the next new pick.

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

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

No?

Well here they are:

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

Pretty simple, I know.

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

Probably with good reason. But whatevs.

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

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

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

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

Score.

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

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

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

Exactly.

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

WHAT WE ORDERED:

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

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

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

Mark & Philly's, Cuyahoga Falls

The same, just bigger. 

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

It made Shane’s look like a baby pizza.

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Yes, this establishment also serves Truly. Carry on. 

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

Translation: Ted chose wisely for himself.

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

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AND THE VERDICT IS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can almost hear Ted gagging while reading that sentence.

Next pick: Steph

WTGW 7/24/19: El Tren Mexican Restaurant, Tallmadge

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This week’s adventure begs the question: if there’s a national holiday for a beverage but yet the place you’re eating at doesn’t offer a special on it, is it really a holiday?

Technically El Tren is a revisit for 3/5 of this group, but let’s take a moment to break down the numbers: two of us have never been here before at all, three of us have been before but it was when the place was called Nuevo Acapulco (we think? there was some issue on that visit discerning exactly what website was used to find this magical place that supposedly had towers of margaritas but then no one knew what the hell we were talking about when we inquired about them), and out of those three, two have been back since it changed over to El Tren.

Confused yet?

Admittedly the two of us who had returned after the name change didn’t have the best luck, but we pretty much just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best this time around.

Because … National Tequila Day. And it was nice enough to sit on the patio.

So in the broad spectrum I guess we can consider this a win? I mean, even though … well … I’ll let you decide.

The What (we ordered)

So as I mentioned, it’s National Tequila Day, which means it’s just a tad sacrilegious to choose anything other than Mexican food, no? I mean even Ted gets a margarita on this holy day.

We’ll take all the tequila, please

Meanwhile Shane gets a rum and coke. OK.

For meals, we can break this down again into fractions, as 3/5 of the table chose the fajita quesadilla. Shane and Jason opted for steak, while Cassi chose chicken.

There seems to be a lot of math so far this week. Sorry about that. I’ll just leave you with one more little equation: 0% of those who ordered this dish got what they were expecting once the meals came out.

Like, what is that? Did they hear “appetizer quesadilla” and not “fajita quesadilla”? That looks like something you order at Applebee’s. I mean, being married to Shane for as long as I have been now, I can attest that this dish is his go-to order at any Mexican restaurant. And never once has it looked like this.

Except, well, the last time we came here. Oops. Shane said he forgot about that until the plate arrived in front of him. Like “hey what was that place that serves the child-sized portion of fajita quesadilla? Oh, right, this place.”

I got the chicken fajitas. Not the fajita quesadilla, just the regular fajitas. Otherwise known as that dish that gets delivered to the table basically still cooking on the plate so pretty much the entire restaurant can hear, see and smell it arriving at the correct table.

FYI, that didn’t happen here. But, you know, by the end of the evening that wasn’t exactly a shocker to us, since we were kind of just impressed that we got food of some kind brought out.

More on that later.

The chicken fajitas were ok – there was a lot of chicken with the onions and peppers – but it was a touch on the dry side. I eventually got some extra salsa to help with that, but let’s just say I was too hungry to wait as long as I would’ve needed to if I wanted it for the whole meal.

And then there Ted, getting some type of burrito.  I missed the name of the dish because I was paying too much attention to the special inquisition he was involved in with the server regarding the type of sauce inside the burrito and the possibility of it being cheese-based. Here the server was trying to educate Ted on the level of spiciness involved with the sauce, when really all he truly cared about was “is it made of cheese?”

That’s right, around Ted things can be spicy to the 1000th degree (habenero peppers, anyone?), just for the love of God don’t let it be made with or include any sort of cheese products.

Ted said his burrito was also really dry. And the sauce definitely had cheese in it. So that worked out well for him.

He also thought his meal should’ve come with rice and beans on the side. Because doesn’t pretty much every meal at a Mexican restaurant? Frankly I think we were shorted like three plates of rice and beans, but, again, at some point we just all agreed I think to be happy we were served anything with the rate at which we both saw our server and had things we ordered or asked for brought out to us.

Shane and I also ordered the tableside guacamole, because we remembered that being like the one thing that went well on any of our previous visits to this place. And I will say that once again, that was the best part of the meal. I mean, on one hand, for $9.95 it better be. But who can really complain when it’s made fresh next to your table and it comes in one of these awesome and much heavier than you think it would be bowls?

Cassi and Jason got the churry queso. I think in part to taunt Ted after the great cheese inquisition of 2019 during our orders. Because we all know that the one thing Ted loves more than asking to not have it placed anywhere near his meal is to sit at a table next to a vat of gooey, melted cheese, right?

Ironically, after these appetizers arrived, and after we asked twice, it still took a hot minute to get a few more baskets of chips. Because there’s only five of us at the table and two apps that require chips to be consumed. But sure.

The Who (we saw)

We have to admit we were shocked to arrive and find the patio surprisingly empty. Especially considering it was a beautiful night. And they do have a pretty great space outside. And, did we mention tequila holiday?

I’m going to attribute this to everyone else hearing of a tequila special we didn’t and going there instead. Dammit. Next time shoot us an invitation. I mean, why else do you think we joined social media after all these years?

(shameless plug, find us on Instagram @wheretogowednesdays and on Twitter @where_wednesday)

But at least it made for a nice quiet evening on the patio for us. Oh wait, until the gang of children started running around the patio full tilt. So it doubles as a playground, I guess? Good to know.

Because children running uncontrolled in places where adults are consuming alcohol seems like a splendid plan. I can’t imagine any possible scenario where that might be an issue.

For those of us who have visited El Tren before, our main complaint in the past has been the service. Hey, guess what? That hasn’t changed. Hats off to management for keeping stability in the lousiest of arenas. Kudos.

Drinks take approximately six hours each to arrive, so I can only assume they charter a plane and make a quick trip to Mexico to grab that tequila fresh each time someone orders something from the bar.

And then there was this fun little sitcom that took place with my order … so when meals arrived I was served a plate of chicken and peppers/onions, with no rice, beans or fajitas. Not really what I was expecting, but sure I’m trying to be a bit healthier here so thanks for reading my mind, not trusting me on my own and just removing the carbs from my field of vision.

But then about 10 minutes later some guy who wasn’t our server arrived with a package of fajitas to hand to me. Not wanting to be wasteful, I said thanks anyway but actually I’ll skip the fajitas, and can you just bring over some more salsa instead? He said sure … and then disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of the restaurant, never to be seen again. Maybe he got called oto that Mexico charter for more tequila? Who knows.

So like 15 minutes later when our server finally made her way over to ask how things were, I asked again about some extra salsa. And that ask put me on the receiving end of not one, but two extra bowls of salsa … and another attempt at being delivered a package of fajitas.

Perhaps what we have is a lapse in communication. And they really, really wanted me to have those damn fajitas after all.

But the worst of it happened even later, when the server committed the epic fail for our group: trying to bring us our bills without asking if we needed anything else and just assuming we were ready to go. Because nothing says “I’ve loved taking care of you, please tip me kindly” like shoving customers out the door.

So we ordered another round just because. And the server was clearly annoyed. But the joke was on her because it took about 20 minutes to get that last round (fill up the plane, boys, we’ve got another round of drinks to get!), during which time all we did was calculate the ways her tip was getting smaller, while she still had to keep coming out to check on us.

Good times.

Ted thinks it all went downhill when we forgot to tip the guacamole guy. I think that may be solid logic.

The How (much we paid)

So, yeah, this was an expensive one, kids. Almost $90 for two people. Hey $5 burger specials from a week ago, we really, really miss you. Now granted about $40 of this week’s tab was alcohol … so, um, what was I saying about no tequila specials?

Also our server, in all her helpfulness to get us our bills promptly before we’d asked for them and essentially shove us out the door, of course got the bills all messed up. Seems the queen of assumptions, in her haste to be rid of us, thought she should split split the guacamole amongst the table, when it was clearly Shane and I who had ordered it and wasn’t about to subject the cost to the rest of the group. So we had her change that, but then when we got the bill back after that we also had Cassi and Jason’s meals instead of our own, plus their app. So they paid for one fajita quesadilla and my chicken fajitas instead of two fajita quesadillas, but we got two fajita quesadillas and both apps.

But our alcohol was right, so I guess that counts for something? I mean, usually that’s the part where people get confused, just because of the sheer amount that gets ordered.

What was I saying about the math portion of this post being finished? Oops.

The Why (they probably won’t see us again)

Well, I mean, unless we’re desperate. Or once again forget our past experiences. This one pretty much got an “eh” all around from our group. Well, except Jason, whose thumbs up makes me think perhaps he either wandered off to join another group for a while or maybe his drinks were made with the extra special tequila shipment.

I will admit that the patio atmosphere was perhaps worth the price of admission … or maybe at least the price of the guac and a couple of rounds of drinks. But then factor in the great invasion of the children and the amazingly awful service, and, well, let’s just say it would need to be a perfect storm of being on that side of town, not being very hungry and just wanting to sit on a patio that may or not be peaceful for us to actually consider going back there.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick:  Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph