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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

It looks so unassuming in the photo

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

Shane’s salad standards are impeccably low

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

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

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

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

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

Keep the food on the table please

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

Fancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Shane

Ted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mix and match

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

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

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

It apparently tastes better than it looks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fancy water to go with the fancy food

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

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

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

Here’s your half a chicken, sir

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

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

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

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

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

Come hungry, leave happy. Wait, wrong restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shane

Steph

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

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

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

 

WTGW 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