WTGW 11/22/17: REVISIT – Mike’s Place, Kent

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This year’s Night Before Thanksgiving visit comes to us courtesy of the motto “safety first,” lest we try a new place and have another Shane food poisoning incident like the Thanksgiving of 2014. *shudder*

And what better safe bet to go with than Mike’s Place in Kent. Good call, Ted. I mean, they do quite literally have a litte bit of everything. Breakfast all day? Sure – do you want pancakes, waffles, eggs, or bacon? In the mood for sandwiches? They have about 75. Dinners? Yep, pick anything from Italian to Chinese to Southern BBQ. Really craving something you once had at Applebee’s? It’s probably the dish labeled “I Stole This Item From a Chain Restaurant.” I mean, I can’t say 100%, but that’s how I read that one anyway.

It’s also one of those places we could probably come to every night for an entire year and still not order every single item on the menu. I mean, take a look online. It’s like a short novel. I think I’ve read Cliff’s Notes booklets with fewer words. I honestly don’t think I’ve even read the whole thing yet. It’s like at some point you have to just kind of find something you like and stick with it, or else three hours later you’ll still be reading. And hungrier.

Although we did notice that they changed the menu since our last visit in the summer of 2015. Well, I mean, they changed the layout anyway. If they added or deleted anything we’d never know. Because rest assured it still has just as many words. You know there’s a lot to choose from when we all go silent for about 15 minutes just trying to figure out what we want to order.

To that point, our server comes back over like 10 minutes after we sit down and asks if we need more time before we order. Um, that’s a giant hell yes. Who doesn’t? Come on. I was barely past the appetizers.

At least the drink menus were easy to decipher. Ciders all around except for Ted, who had to quiz the server on nitro taps and other fancy sounding things before he could determine which beer he wanted to order.

He was very confident about his appetizer choice, though, announcing to the table that he’s ordering the “pound of chips.” Hmm, any guesses on what that entails, exactly? I mean, way to beat around the bush on that title.

But then they arrived.

Do they count the basket and sauce cup in the weight?

Is it just us, or did that name lead to a far more impressive picture in your head than this? Me thinks the scale might be broken at your place, Mike. But kudos on the marketing genius in your naming. Sold us.

We all ended up with side salads, either as a side option to our meal, or because we were trying to keep up at least a facade of somewhat healthy eating on the eve of the biggest food holiday of the year. Well, everyone except Ted, who shunned the salad in favor of enjoying a lovely cup of applesauce instead. Mmmmm.

It’s so dainty

Also note that in the background of my salad photo you can clearly see Shane slathering his healthy salad in completely unhealthy blue cheese dressing. Because, Shane.

Which of these would you rather eat?

While I’d like to blame our ordering of enough food for an army on our indecision over the novel of a menu … but who am I kidding. You all know by now that this is just something we do. Well, I mean, as long as there’s more than two items on the menu to choose from anyway.

Sorry Shane, that still hasn’t gotten old.

Anyway, my point is that when the server arrived with our meals of course there wasn’t enough room on the table for all of the plates, so Ted tried to be helpful by removing the tiny cup that had held his applesauce. Because that was what was holding things up for sure. Especially when he was then was given a similar sized cup of cole slaw. Fail.

Ted and his collection of tiny cups

Ted’s main meal was the ribs and chicken dinner – which is a half rack of ribs and a few pieces of chicken. He ate it all, and said he was “very full” by the time we left. Must’ve been all that applesauce and cole slaw.

Shane’s favorite part of Ted’s meal was his moist towelettes, which he insisted he had to have a photo with.

Shane would like to remind everyone about the importance of having MOIST towelettes at the table

Did we mention MOIST?

Anyway.

Shane ordered six of the Italian parm wings and the blue bomber burger. And of course that side salad.

That’s a knife in the top of the burger, in case you’re wondering

He said the burger wasn’t so great. It was OK, but a little well done for his taste – and he had specified medium rare. Apparently whoever cooks the burgers also measures the chips?

But at least the other half of his meal – the wings – were excellent. I tried one of them, too, and agreed that they were delicious. The sauce was like Italian dressing with parm cheese – which I guess makes sense given the that they are Italian parm wings – but, you know, we’ve been burned on names already so given the chip debacle these could’ve come out slathered in BBQ sauce for all we knew. But it was a nice change from the usual garlic parm sauce that most every win place offers.

These might’ve been some of the most flavorful wings I’ve ever tasted

Cassi ordered the pierogis and an 8-slice pizza, proclaiminig that if she didn’t finish it all then she would take it home to Jason.

Shane, upon hearing her order: Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever tried the pizza here. That’s odd.
The rest of the table, all of our readers, and pretty much anyone who knows Shane: Huh, yeah, I agree, that is odd.

Turns out he must’ve somehow known to stay away, since Cassi proclaimed the crust to be “doughy.” Which is pretty much the only kind of pizza crust that Shane doesn’t enjoy. Shane’s psychic powers are strong when it comes to food sometimes.

Looks better than it tastes apparently

She did say that the pierogis were good, though. Guess what Jason isn’t getting in his leftover package.

Little pillows of happiness

I got the Mucho Meat Melt sandwich – which of course made everyone laugh when I ordered it, because we’re 12. It was just OK. There was almost too much going on there – between the pepperoni, salami, and actual cut links of Italian sausage. Unlike the pound of chips, the name of this sandwich was about as true as you could get. It was more than enough food to make me full, and I didn’t even finish all of it.

I know, there’s a joke in there. I’m not missing it, I’m just choosing to ignore it.

My knife is a little less strategically placed

Overall we’ll all agree that Mike’s is a great place. It’s a great place to take guests or large groups, since there will always be something for everyone on the menu. Can’t decide between sandwiches, wings, BBQ, Italian or Chinese? Yeah, its all here. We joked that we could start a whole other evening out just going there once a week and trying something new. Mike’s Place Mondays? Maybe I should register the website now just in case.

Picked by Ted

Ted

Shane

Cassi

Steph

 

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WTGW 10/25/17: Rooster’s Wings, Canton

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OK, kids. We’re definitely due for a decent place, after about the last – what? – four weeks of near misses. Four weeks? I think that’s quite possibly the longest thumbs down streak in WTGW history.

See also: the amount of time that Cassi has been spending her Wednesday nights with our group. I’m somewhat surprised she hasn’t given up on us in favor of other more lucrative hobbies. Like watching paint dry. I guess she figured it was only a matter of time before we found our footing again on the great ladder of fried appetizers and alcoholism. Or hoped, anyway, lest she be labeled the curse and shunned from our adventures.

Anyway.

Roosters is one of those places that I’m sure we passed by on another of our other Canton adventures – most recently, I believe, on the way home from our favorite 3 Brothers Tavern. And trust me, the subject of stopping back there for more “pumpkin love” to end the evening definitely came up.

Please read that blog post before you pass judgement on that last sentence.

Upon entering Roosters, we were greeted by a hostess, who promptly told us to seat ourselves, before going back to wiping down menu books. OK then. I’m not really sure what her job entails for more than, like, 10 minutes, but sure.

We found a spot in the bar area … although, truth be told, this place is pretty open, so almost any table is technically in the “bar area.” But we found a high top with space to spread out and more than plentiful views of the many TVs. I’m guessing this place must rock on a college/pro football weekend or during playoff games.

Remember how I said we were due for a decent place? Well, let’s just say that Rooster’s was off to a good start as soon as we opened the menu, as there were more pages to the book than there were options on the menu at Shane’s place a few weeks ago.

This won’t ever get old. Trust me.

Ted was the only one to get a beer, mixed drinks for everyone else. And I’m happy to say that mine was 100 times more drinkable than that organic fruit juice and alcohol nightmare I ordered last week.

No apps for anyone at the table this week. Wait, what? What the hell is wrong with us? We must still be scarred from last week and the gluten free debacle that was breaded mushrooms and fried pickles. *shiver*

The specialty at Rooster’s is, as the name implies, wings. So it makes perfect sense that I ordered an Italian sub with zesty potato wedges. Living dangerously.

My sandwich is Ted’s worst nightmare

And I wasn’t disappointed, because the sub was really good. It was just enough to be filling, without making me feel like I had to barrel roll myself out to the car afterwards. The potato wedges didn’t have much “zest” to them, they were kind of just like regular jojo potatoes – but they were still good.

I’d also like to point out how the lighting in this place makes everything look like we’re living inside an Instagram filter. Carry on.

Shane got five of the Sweet Thai Chili wings and a Works pizza. Well, OK, he started out ordering five wings … but then when Ted ordered 10 wings and a Cajun chicken sandwich, Shane had to up his wing order to 10. Because, guys.

Let’s just take a moment to compare this week’s wings:

Now those are wings.

with last week’s wings:

Dainty little wings

It’s like when you accidentally put a sweater in the dryer for too long and it comes out two sizes too small. Or when you put what you think is a nice fat hamburger on the grill and it shrinks up to the size of a slider – but not Ted’s slider from last week, a real slider. Hell, I don’t even think there can be an appropriate metaphor here. Rooster’s is just what wings are supposed to look like. This is why we prefer sports bars to fancy places, people.

Moving on.

Shane was a fan of the pizza, especially the crusty pepperoni on top.

There’s a lot going on there

He also said that the wings were really good. He even took a few home. This is new. I mean, no appetizers, AND a to-go box? Please tell me Healthy Shane isn’t making a comeback.

Ted also really liked the wings. But his chicken sandwich, on the other hand, was a little thin.

That’s the saddest chicken sandwich I think I’ve ever seen

Cassi and I agreed that from our vantage point on the other side of the table it didn’t look like there was much going on there. But that could’ve also just been the lack of cheese to hold things together. I mean, look back at my sandwich, and then at Ted’s. Who got the better deal here?

Yeah, I thought so.

Cassi got five of the boneless Sweet Thai Chili wings, a mushroom and pepperoni pizza and an order of curly fries. Either she was still reeling from last week’s tiny portion debacle, or she’s finally learning how to order like one of us now, am I right?

That’s so much goodness in one photo

Or she was also being nice and planning to take home half of the food to her fiancé, Jason, who goes to school on Wednesday evenings and can’t be a part of WTGW. Sometimes the logical answer wins. Gotcha.

In any case, Cassi liked the pizza and the wings, which she even ordered more of to take home. After all the hype, I stole one of Shane’s wings that he was planning to take home – and I agree, they were really good. The sauce was excellent.

The boneless wings are like twice the size of the regular wings from last week

Overall, Rooster’s is pretty much like any other sports bar inside. But the good selection of food at a decent price, a wait staff that didn’t makes us want for drinks and an amazing amount of televisions makes this place a winner. I could definitely see us going back. Better yet, can someone franchise this place closer than a 35 minute drive?

Picked by: Steph

Ted

This is an unusual look for Cassi – her first thumb’s up!

Steph

Shane

Rooster's Wings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 10/4/17: Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern, Solon

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Hey kids, today is National Taco Day! Which means we took WTGW … someplace that totally doesn’t sell tacos. Right.

We switched up special guests this week, since my Uncle Dan is in town from Arizona and requested a chance to join our esteemed group for a WTGW out. Or, uh, something like that.

You might have noticed we switched up the picking order this week, as it was supposed to be Ted’s week this week. But with Dan staying in Eastlake, we decided to try to keep things a little more central – so Shane and Ted switched up picks this week since Shane was going toward something in Solon for his next pick anyway.

Technical details, I know.

Speaking of, I tried to tell Shane that he had actually been to the Rusty Bucket before – many years ago, on our way to a football game in Cleveland, we stopped here with some friends. He didn’t remember, until we pulled into the lot in front of the restaurant and suddenly it all started coming back to him. Sort of. So I guess this is a bit of an unorthodox pick, but whatever.

Anyway.

The very bubbly and young hostess told us as we walked in that this was her second day. So of course we countered back that this was our first time ever visiting (well, OK, considering what I just told you technically that was a lie, but just run with it). And so the hostess says to us “well be sure to tell your server it’s your first time here when she greets you, because you can get an order of free pickle chips.”

You have our attention.

Or HAD our attention, until we realized that our young, new hostess may want to clarify that statement with the server before she makes those kinds of promises. More on that later.

Our drinks took forever. It was like they were brewing the beer themselves in the back room. And then what Ted and Dan thought would arrive in draft form actually arrived as bottles. I mean, it’s nice of them to go through the motions of transferring the beer into bottles, but really the draft would’ve been preferred.

I got the Blueberry Bella drink – which, while very good, wasn’t really worth the seven hours it seemed to take to arrive. Are we waiting for the blueberries to harvest and be carted in from the family farm or something?

It takes a long time to make yourself this pretty I guess

The server also told us that Wednesdays are “Whiskey Wednesdays,” which means any whiskey for $7.00. Shane got super excited … but then realized he should’ve really specified the kind of whiskey he wanted in his drink and not just ordered a generic “whiskey and ginger ale” – since he probably didn’t get much out of that deal seeing as some whiskies aren’t exactly even worth $7.00 to begin with.

Ted got hummus as an app. He said it was OK. It probably would’ve been better if he’d had some sliverware to actually get the hummus onto the pita chips instead of having to facilitate a system of scooping it up with other pieces of pita. Again, technicalities.

Little stingy on the pita, no?

Shane told the server what the hostess told us about the fried pickle chips – he was like “so, we were told by the hostess that if we say it’s our first time here then we get free pickle chips” The server just stared at him, so Shane was like “you know, wink wink … ”

Yeah, turns out they were $8.49. Guess Shane needs to work on his wink. And the servers and hostesses need to work on their communication skills.

Also, they were more like spears. Not chips. Maybe we need to get this place a dictionary, and underline the words “free” and “chips.”

Not chips and not free

Being that it’s national taco day and I’d already gotten tacos for lunch, I went wth the taco salad. Which turned out to be more like a mexican pizza. I guess we can add another word to that dictionary we need to work on. The “salad” was a flat tortilla with beef and beans spread over it, and then lettuce, sour cream and cheese on top.

Fancier than Taco Bell

It was OK. I didn’t eat all of it. I mean, it looks pretty and all, but after consuming about half of it it just didn’t seem worth the effort or calories anymore.

And that, my friends, seems to be the theme of the evening: pretty, but not really worth the wait.

Shane asked our server his usual questions about the best thing on the menu, and was told pizza. Sold. Because, Shane.

It turned out to be just OK. I mean, he ate the entire thing – this wasn’t last week, where everything was made of salt – but he said it wasn’t anything special.

Hey Shane got a pizza. That’s new

Ted got the Wednesday special of beef stroganoff. He said it was good up until about the last few bites, when he ended up with a bite that involved a huge chunk of fat. Mmmm. Nothing says that’s a good dish like the fatty part of some beef. We’re not going for the old 96er here folks.

Those may be the widest noodles I’ve ever seen

Dan got chicken fingers and fries. He pretty much felt the same as Shane.

There are fries under there somewhere

Our service was awful. Our server disappeared for long stretches of time and for no good reason, as there were hardly any other tables in the place. We didn’t even see her helping other tables, she was just plain gone from the floor. Maybe she was in the back chewing out the new hostess who probably sat us in her section when she was about to go home – which, whatever, do what you have to, but maybe just giving the table away to another server is the better option? Just a thought. But then again, she also just didn’t seem interested in interacting with anyone, or being there I general. Because that’s a personality plus.

Compound that with the bar, which took seemingly hours to make one round of drinks. I mean, I could see if it was super busy – but we were nearly the last ones there. Did everyone invite their imaginary friends to dine with them tonight? I must’ve missed that memo.

Case in point: Shane and I ask for another round, as does Dan. Meanwhile, Ted asks for the draft list. Which one would assume means he would like to order something different than what he already has, no? Well so the server comes back with another drink for me and Dan, plus a bottle of what Ted had in the first round (whie he’s still looking over the draft list) and nothing for Shane. Um, OK. Seems something got lost in translation there, no?

So basically, let’s review: the food being nothing particularly memorable, plus bad service … means the Rusty Bucket probably won’t end up on the revisit list. I mean, it seems they fixed up the place since the time years ago when Shane and I last visited .. and it’s certainly no house-turned-bar-that-reeked-of-burger-grease like one of our other previous Solon adventures – but they obviously at still a little, as their name implies, rusty.

Geez I crack myself up.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Dan

Ted

Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/27/17: John’s Bar & Grille, Canton

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I didn’t have a lot of time to do my usual scan of all of the review sites prior to picking a place this week, so I was taking a bit of a leap of faith by choosing John’s Bar. Of course after last week’s limited menu fiasco I figured I couldn’t really do so bad, right?

Eh, not so fast. I started to rethink that philosophy pretty much as soon as we walked into this place, and were hit by the smell of … well, the only way to describe it is “old people” Did we get the door to the nursing home instead? Is John’s Bar really just John’s house and he’s been inviting people over for 80 years?

It was also super quiet, even in the bar area. Another indication that we could easily be the youngest people in the place by a good many decades. I was beginning to get nervous that we were on the level of a certain place that starts with a “G” and we try to avoid naming anymore.

Redemption came in the form of a giant list of craft beers. Whew. At least Ted was happy. He got something so dark that later there was a debate about whether a bug had fallen into his drink … and we couldn’t say for certain if it had or not.

Shane, coming off a weekend where he overindulged in that same substance (minus the potential extra protein from bugs), not so much. He went with a Captain and ginger ale. And later switched to my drink of choice, the ginger peach mule, once he relized mine was yummy and that his mixed drink came in a glass clearly made for people with smaller liver capacity.

Our server started out impressing us when she announced she would bring us some waters while we perused the drink menus … and then, noting the crestfalled looks on our faces, announced “screw water, let’s get the drinks in.” That’s the spirit. And she brought the alcohol out BEFORE the waters, another smart move. Although I messed with her when she dropped the waters off by saying “well FINALLY, there’s those waters we’ve been waiting for” – which made her laugh.

Clearly our alcoholism is worn on our sleeves.

It seemed for a bit that this place had Ted written all over it – first the craft beers, then, on the app menu: steak on a stick. Because we all know Ted loves a meat lollipop.

Wait, that sounds bad.

It took us a hot minute to decide on orders. Because that’s what happens when you have a full menu and not two items like last week.

FYI, that probably won’t get old for a while, so you should probably get used to those jokes now.

Shane and I got the chips and dip for an app.

More dip than chips. Well done

It was good, we were impressed with the fact that they give you more than enough dip for the chips – and we’re generous with our dipping, but still had some left over. The dip had really good flavor to it, but some of the chips were soggy and could’ve been cooked longer.

Cassi got the beer cheese and pretzels. She said it was OK. The pretzels were basically the kind you can buy in a box at the grocery store and microwave for 90 seconds after wetting them down and spreading salt on them. For a place that touts making their own pizza dough that seemed a little odd, no?

These took a little longer than 90 seconds to cook

Ted opted for the calamari with peppers. Which unexpectedly came with cheese baked on top – that’s new, and of course cheese-hater Ted was overly thrilled. It was a fun game watching him scrape that off with each bite.

Never thought to ask for no cheese

But he liked it nonetheless. He said it was spicy and the peppers were especially tasty.

Also noted that there were more items in Ted’s calamari than there were on the entire menu last week. Welcome to the new Gus’s joke. See, I told you this won’t get old for a bit

Shane was less amused than all of us. Clearly.

Speaking of Shane, he had ordered wings as part of his meal, and those were also delivered along with the apps, which of course he wasn’t complaining about. Until he tried them, and proclaimed them the saltiest wings he’d ever eaten. Like saltier than the “salt and vinegar flavored wings he occasionally gets at other wing places. Like he may as well have just dipped his finger in a salt shaker and sucked on that instead.

The high blood pressure special

Mmmmm.

Good thing he had that tiny glass of a mixed drink – and no sign of the server for what seemed like an eternity. It’s like the perfect storm of thirst.

Of course I made fun of Shane when he was complaining about having no drink … as there actually was a full mason jar of water sitting in front of him, that just wasn’t what he wanted to drink. That came back to bite me later, when both Cassi and I ordered round two of our drinks … and hers arrived while mine didn’t. For a very long time. Alcoholic karma.

Shane got a pizza as the rest of his meal, which came with a side salad. Shane’s word for the salad was “mushy.” That’s a new one. And the worst part was that he was actually looking forward to that salad – which may be a first, especially when this wasn’t even at a time when he’s being “healthy Shane.” And then it was disappointing that it was so awful.

Mmm, wilted lettuce. My favorite

Cassi and I each got the “Big John” angus burgers. Which didn’t seem all that big when they actually arrived. Interesting. They were also missing cheese. I guess maybe Ted’s request of no cheese translated to all of us? Yeah, no. The server took them back, and they added cheese to the burgers … and stuck the plates under a hot lamp to melt it. Which kind of ruined the burger by making it more well done and dry, and the bread taste weird. I didn’t eat the bread at all, which if you’ve been following along here you know is something you hardly ever hear from me.

Looks great until you lift the lid and notice it’s missing cheese

Ditto

But at least the fries – which were lukewarm to begin with – then became the proper temperature. Score?

Ted ordered the Grecian burger, which he thought was to be made with lamb meat, but he said tasted just like regular meat. OK. But at least he was happy about the lack of cheese on his. He did say it lacked spices, though.

The not-Greek burger. With no cheese. Or salt.

Which apparently was because they all went to Shane, who said that the pizza – just like the wings – was the saltiest pizza he’d ever eaten. OK, either Shane’s taste buds are tuned to “salt” tonight, or this place just likes to play chicken with people’s salt intakes.

Looks better than it tastes

I mean, why in the world would you put salt on a pizza, of all things? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say “I’ll take the ‘triple your salt intake pizza,’ please.” Shane was convinced that he may not be able to open his eyes in the morning due to the swelling.

Although we had to laugh because when the server came back to check on us and asked specifically how the pizza was (since Shane had asked her if it was a specialty there at John’s and she made a big deal about how they make their own dough), Shane could’ve won an Academy Award for the exuberance with which he gushed about how much he liked it. He even took a few pieces home in a to-go box. Which, if you’re playing along at home – the fact that he didn’t finish his (relatively small) pizza there in the restaurant was a clue that he didn’t like it, so I’m surprised he even bothered to take it home. Guess he wants to give high blood pressure another chance to set in? Awesome.

Remember what I said about 80 year olds frequenting the place? So aside from the weird smells and the quiet and the table of old men behind us clearly having their weekly guy’s night dinner out, there was this exchange at the end of the meal:

Server, pointing to the bread basket on the table with thick slices of Italian bread still in it: So, do you want to take the bread home?
(quizzical looks from around the table)
Server, looking at me an Cassi: Maybe you want to make your husbands french toast in the morning?
(more quizzical looks)
Server: We get a lot of older ladies in and they fight over taking that bread home so they can make french toast for their husbands.
Me: Uh, yeah, if my husband wants french toast he can make it his own damn self
Cassi, after the server walked away: Can we just talk about how many things are wrong with that statement? Like, first of all, we have jobs?

I’ll take questionably sexist bread for 1,000 please

Sorry John – your bar won’t be a revisit.

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Shane and his now least favorite condiment

Cassi

Ted

 

John's Bar & Grille 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 3/8/17: Market Street Grill & Pub, Akron

Standard

You guys. I’m not even going to make you wait until halfway through the post to tell you the best thing about this place. Seriously. It’s that good.

Free chips and dip.

What’s that now?

I’ll say it again … Free. Chips. And. Dip.

WHAT?!?!?!

So, yeah, you know how Mexican places are known for placing a basket of free tortilla chips and salsa on your table about 3.2 seconds after you sit down? Well, this place essentially does the same thing, only the basket is full of homemade potato chips and a side of french onion dip.

O.M.G.

Well, OK, so a few things, they don’t bring the basket out mere moments after your butt hits the seat – at least not in our experience – although that might’ve just been our server, who we discovered over the course of the evening was not of the most friendly or knowledgeable nature. Whatevs. Also, it doesn’t appear to be never-endingly-refillable, as the Mexican places are. When our basket was empty – and after much debate at our table about what the fate of said empty basket would be – the server simply cleared it away. Booo.

But still. It exists, and that’s what’s important.

It also explains the note that was paper-clipped to the menu regarding how you can “by popular demand, purchase chip dip to take home!” This was slightly confusing to us since 1) our magical free basket hadn’t yet made its appearance at our table, and 2) there didn’t seem to be an option to order chips and dip anywhere on the menu. But I get it now. Mystery solved.

I’m still not sure what the “white french” is but I’m glad the chip dip mystery has been solved

CSI: WTGW style.

So I guess by now you’re assuming that this alone at least put Market Street Grill & Pub in the “somewhat OK” category for our weekly adventures. And I guess that would be correct. Sadly, however, the free chips and dip was about the only thing we were overly thrilled with.

Let’s back up, shall we?

So there’s been a bit of an ongoing debate on who would pick the Market Street Grill & Pub, ever since we drove past it and Shane spotted the pretty neon signs and exclaimed that “whatever that place is, I’m totally picking it.” And then never did. I mean, you guys, we were on our way to New Era when he first spotted this place. New Era. That was like last summer. I waited patiently for him to pick it, but weeks went by with no action. I even gave him a warning, announcing one night that it would be my choice … to which Shane got all huffy like I just stole his birthday away from him, so I relented. And still, have we been there yet? No. So no more being nice. Enough time has gone by, I hereby declare it no longer his pick.

And so here we are. You’re welcome for that little peek behind the scenes in our decision making processes. It’s cutthroat.

The parking situation at Market Street Grill & Pub was a little bit tricky, as we kind of had to drive the wrong way partially up a one-way hill/street – after making an illegal turn at a light – just to access the parking lot. And there also may or may not have been an older gentleman chain smoking in the van we parked next to who was still there when we came out after dinner a few hours later. Bouncer? Parking attendant? Paying off the cops who come after those of us who have to ensue a few traffic violations just to park?

Another mystery. We only have time for so many here, folks, so I’ll save that one for another time.

The place has an interesting set up inside. It’s definitely bigger than I would’ve guessed by looking at the outside. But the tables are also kind of close together and the the bar area is in a weird configuration when you first walk in. But it works. Sort of.

The beer list is an actual part of the menu, which is a welcome touch. Unfortunately Ted drew the short straw that usually belongs to me when it comes to ordering beers they no longer have – he asked for a Guinness, but was told they were out. Our server – who I already mentioned clearly wasn’t feeling his job this evening – didn’t offer a replacement, so we spent an awkward few minutes while Ted searched desperately for another dark beer to order. And ended up with a Killian’s. Hmmm. And no glass. Which, to Ted’s point, he probably wouldn’t have used anyway, but an offer still would’ve been nice. You know, like when that annoying co-worker keeps asking you to go to lunch with them, and you know you’ll never go but it’s still nice to be thought of anyway.

On the “hey we actually have your beer” side of the table, Shane got his customary Bud Light, and I got the craft beer of the month, which was the Leininkugel’s cranberry ginger. I’m assuming since that’s usually a winter/holiday beer, they must be trying to empty the last out the kegs before the summer shandy comes in, but whatevs. I mean, we’ve had summer shandy that’s been sitting around for far longer, and we’re still here to talk about it.

Ted ordered calamari as an app – because, hey, if Shane doesn’t love it anymore, at least someone in the group does. It came out with the usual marinara dipping sauce, and another one which we described as “Thai sweet & sour.” I’m not sure that’s the “official” name for it, but that was our best guess. Ted tried it first and claimed it had a bit of s a kick to it. I tried it and thought he was crazy – until a few minutes later when my throat was burning. Sneaks up on you, kids.

A pile of fried yumminess

For his meal, Ted got the flame burger. With no cheese, of course. He called it the fire burger, and the server not so gently corrected him with “you mean the flame burger.”

I’m beginning to think this server was not a fan of Ted.

Which is OK, because Ted was not so much a fan of the meal that the server brought him, either. He said the burger was decent, but definitely not a favorite. And the fries weren’t very good, he wished there had been other side options, but the server didn’t offer those up any more than he did that invisible glass.

It should be known that Ted later rearranged those jalepenos so that they covered the burger instead of just sat there in a pile. It’s all about flavor control, people

The wing menu had a sauce called “Erie island smoke” – which is the name of a dry rub we used to get at the Cleats near our old house in Warren years ago. Shane was all over that, ordering six of those wings, as well as the $5 Wednesday burger special (burger and fries for $5). The server told him that the burger only came with pickles, onion and mayo. Shane was like “yeah whatever, it’s $5, I don’t need to be fancy.”

Also, pickles, onions and mayo may be the strangest combination of “basic” burger condiments ever. What happened to lettuce, tomato and ketchup? What parallel universe is this? First free chips and dip, and now odd burger toppings. I’m a little worried.

Same burger, different green condiment

Shane also said that his burger was decent – he gave it slightly higher marks than Ted, but that may have had something to do with it being only $5, so his bar was already set a little low. And seeing as he’s usually picky about the done-ness of his burger and wasn’t offered a voice in the matter with the server, this could’ve gone bad quickly – so I’ll consider “decent” a win here. Shane agreed with Ted that the fries were not good (seriously, how do you screw up fries?). He actually thought the meal would come with chips, but – again – no choice was really offered.

I got six of the Erie island wings and a bowl of chili. The wings seemed a bit saltier than I remembered – although Shane said they were dead on to how he remembered them, so maybe my taste buds are just off this week. Regardless, they were still good … but the chili, not so much. It didn’t really have any flavor. Which is probably to be expected since the mixture seemed to pretty much just consist of kidney beans, bits of tomatoes and a random few chunks of ground beef. Ever heard of spices, people? Or even some onions and green peppers? Or perhaps chili beans?

Parallel universe. I’m telling ya.

Long lost wing favorite

I wish I could say it tasted better than it looked

When the server approached us about dessert, Ted asked – for curiousity’s sake, and also because our menus were long gone – what they had for dessert options. The server named off a few items like cheesecake and tiramisu, and then mentioned something called a “cookie bake.” We all stared blankly at the server until Ted finally stepped up and asked just what exactly that was … and was informed in a rather harsh and condescending tone by the server that it’s a fresh baked cookie topped with ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Because I can’t imagine we were the first ones to ask that question? No need to shame Ted over a cookie bake, buddy.

I told you the server hated him.

Aside from being the subject of the server’s unrelenting hatred toward patrons, Ted’s biggest complaint was that the beer selection was lacking, especially when they’ve managed to run out of Guinness a week before St. Patrick’s Day.

Shane: I’m looking around, and this really doesn’t seem like the Guinness drinking crowd.
Ted: Yeah, but yet they’re out of it so what does that tell you?

Touche.

Overall I think the biggest winners of the night were the Thai sauce for the calamari, the Erie island wings – and of course the free chips and dip. I would go back and just see if they would refill my chips and dip basket a few times, and take that as a meal. But really, I can get chips and dip at the store and eat them on the comfort of my own couch, so I probably wouldn’t go for that option.

I have to say that our server definitely didn’t help our opinion of the place at all, either. As as we were pulling out of the parking lot we saw him leaving for the night, so that might explain something – but still, your hot date is not a reason to be rude. Just be glad we didn’t opt for the cookie bake there, pal.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

Shane

Steph

Ted

WTGW 1/18/17: Melt Bar & Grilled, Fairlawn

Standard

OK, I know what you’re thinking … how has this group never been to Melt before? I mean, we find obscure little places like Joey’s Kendal Tavern and The Caddyshack Inn … but somehow Melt – and its ever-growing list of locations across Ohio – has been off our radar?

Yeah, no. There’s actually only one person in the WTGW group who hasn’t visited one of these restaurants before. And once I say his name, I bet you’ll realize why.

Ted.

Surprised? I didn’t think so.

OK, so does it surprise you that cheese-hater, I’ve-ordered-a-pizza-without-cheese-on-it Ted actually not only voluntarily walked into a place where the menu is pretty much almost entirely made up of grilled cheese sandwiches – but he was the one who decided we should go there?

Yeah, define irony.

So for those of you who may have been living under a rock these past 10 years or so, Melt is one of those kind of iconic Cleveland restaurants – one of those like “oh, you’ve never been to our city before, you should try this place” kind of restaurants. They have several locations – the original in Lakewood, then three or four more around the Cleveland area (Cleveland Hts, Independence, Mentor), and have also recently branched out to Columbus. Clearly grilled cheese is kind of a big deal.

This location in Fairlawn is one of the newest, opening at the end of last year. In another twist of irony, we actually tried to come here for WTGW a few weeks back … specifically the week between Christmas and New Years. And being that this is a fairly new location, we expected it to be busy … but not “sure we’d love to wait an hour for grilled cheese and beer” busy. So we gave up that night.

In a related story, since we were out, it was Wednesday, we were hungry, and we’re all about going somewhere new, we tried venturing down the street to check out the newly opened Fairlawn location of Burntwood Tavern … and were greeted with the the same predicament. Apparently everyone goes out that Wednesday between the holidays to exchange gifts in restaurants and meet up with long lost friends who you sit at tables for hours talking to. Who knew?

That night eventually took us to the one place in that area we actually hadn’t been to and knew there would be no wait – Yellow Tail sushi buffet. Also now known as Shane’s version of heaven. Guess we really should’ve reviewed that one, too – but I couldn’t keep up with photographing all the plates that he and Ted kept showing up with at our table.

Anyway.

Back to this week – we arrived at Melt at about 7pm and there was no wait at all. What a difference a few weeks makes.

So, circling back to Ted, his dislike of cheese, and the irony of him picking this as his WTGW choice … when asked why he picked this place this week he pretty much stated that he got tired of everyone asking him if he’d been here before, and wanted to see what all the hype was about.

Alrighty then. Reasonable enough.

So it made perfect sense that when it came time to order his meal, he ordered his grilled cheese sandwich WITH NO CHEESE. Seriously Ted? That’s a curveball. I mean, are you truly experiencing the place if you leave out the key ingredient to their signature meals?

The best part was that instead of being outraged, surprised, or ousting him for being the cheese-hater he is, the server didn’t blink at all when he ordered. Which means there has to be someone else (or potentially even more than ONE someone else) out there who has done this same thing.

Ted may just have to start eating at Melt every night until he meets those people. They can start a club.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. To start the night we of course ordered drinks. Because you didn’t see that coming, I know. Vanilla vodka and OJ for me, Bud Light for Shane, and a Founders Breakfast Stout Nitro for Ted. Which came in the smallest glass possible for a beer.

It's a dainty beer glass

It’s so dainty

Shane was jealous I didn’t take a pic of his fancy bottled Bud Light. Because we’ve never seen one of those before.

For apps we got the fried pickles and the fried green tomatoes. Yeah, that’s a shocker. It may be a new year, but we still like to test our abilities to clog our arteries and remain on this side of the dirt apparently.

Mmm, fried goodness

Mmm, fried goodness

Both apps were tasty. And, well, they were kind of the same food, just different vegetables under the batter, so really how could we like one and not the other? Even the sauce was the same for both dishes – but that’s OK, because that was truly the best part in my opinion. Even though we still weren’t exactly certain what it was made of or where we’d tasted it before (and no, Shane, there was no ginger in it). I could probably order just a bowl of that sauce and eat it with a spoon, like soup. Because I’m sure that’s healthy. And not weird at all.

I'll dream about you, yummy orange sauce

I’ll dream about you, yummy orange sauce

Ted got the Hot Italian sandwich (ham, pepperoni, salami, garlic, provolone, romano and banana peppers) – which I already mentioned was lacking cheese. Weirdo. And fries.

But what holds it together if there's no cheese?

But what holds it together if there’s no cheese?

He said it was above average but not necessarily something he needs to have again. Also said they definitely weren’t shy with the meat (that’s what she said!) and that he struggled to finish the entire thing (that’s what she … oh, never mind) along with all of the fries – so it was definitely a lot of food.

I got a half sandwich of the Smoky Russian (smoked turkey, saurkraut, gouda and something called “zippy sauce” – I wasn’t going to ask) with a side of the vegetarian chili.

It's like a baby Melt

It’s like a baby Melt

The half was a great option, I wasn’t absolutely stuffed when I left, but full enough. Even though my sandwich had cheese, it still wasn’t held together real well (it seemed to be one of the smaller ones – and by that I mean it’s not stacked a foot high with ingredients – which was what I was looking for) but yet I still ate most of it picked apart with a fork instead of picking it up and eating it. If I were to get it again I might request a meltier cheese. Meltier? OK, so maybe that’s not really a word. A cheese that melts better. You know what I mean.

The chili was amazing. You would never guess there was no meat in it, because it was still very thick and chunky. (OK, that made me feel a little gross just typing that, but you know what I mean). It also had a lot of flavor without being too spicy.

Shane got the Purple Parma (eggplant, marinara, garlic, mozzerella and romano) with fries.

Is that parmesan cheese or powdered sugar?

Is that parmesan cheese or powdered sugar?

He ended up taking half of his home. He said it was OK but that “for all that was going on there, there didn’t seem to be much flavor.”

Overall, it’s a fun place that as mentioned is kind of a “Cleveland thing” – so you have to say you tried it at least once. Even if you’re Ted, who can now tell all those people to shove off, because even a cheese-hater can eat there. I mean, I doubt he’ll be going back anytime soon, and he especially won’t be trying the Melt Challenge, and all of it’s huge pile of fries, giant plate of cole slaw, three slices of grilled bread and TWELVE CHEESES glory. For real? I’m not sure I could even name 12 cheeses, much less know what to do with all of them lined up in front of me.  I mean, does the cook just take all the available cheese at that moment and throw it on the grill? Does he count put all twelve? Do you know if he leaves one out? And most importantly WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THAT SANDWICH COOLS AND THE CHEESE HARDENS? It could probably be considered a weapon at that point.

BTW, someone tried this insane challenge while we were there this evening. He seemed very confident he could do it. Sadly, he left with two to-go boxes full of the remnants of his $35 meal-o-cheese, some dented dignity, and what appeared to be a need for some Tums and Pepto. Ouch.

We forgot to do our usual rating system photos at the table, so had to do them by the front door before we left. Thus resulting in my husband taking what probably could be called the single worst photo of me of all time.

Steph

Steph … we think

Seriously, what’s up with the lighting? Did he not see that when he was taking the photo? I mean, Ted has taken better photos of me when the camera is in motion.

Let’s just forget we ever saw that, OK?

Shane

Shane … of course he looks normal

Cheese-hater Ted

Cheese-hater Ted

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane
Melt Bar & Grilled Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato