WTGW 4/4/18: Iron Grill, Akron

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This week I took a chance and picked a place in Shane’s self-professed neighborhood of Ellet. So of course we all crossed our fingers that there would be more than two items on the menu.

Are you sick of that joke yet? Shane sure is.

Despite the giant sign on the side of the main road advertising Iron Grill, the place is a bit challenging to find. We pulled into what we thought was the strip plaza that the sign was advertising, only to discover three other restaurants (that Shane of course instantly declared were “his” and he was picking if they had alcohol – so expect to see those here sometime soon if any of us can actually remember the names of them) … but no Iron Grill. OK. So we pulled back out onto the busy street across four lanes of traffic, only to look over and realize it was around the corner on the other side of the plaza, and that the parking lot could’ve led us there. Oh.

The Iron Grill is … interesting … on the inside. Let’s just say that you don’t usually expect to find chandeliers in an establishment situated at the end of a strip plaza. Or really in this part of town in general. I mean, just a few miles down the road there’s a bar with purple dollar store lamps on every table.

Choose wisely.

The four of us sat in the bar area at a high top meant for six – because, well, you know by now that we order a lot of food. And last week Shane had no place to put his arms, so we took the liberty of spreading out a little this time around.

The first thing that caught our attention (other than the fancy chandeliers) was the impressive list of interesting craft cocktails for only $7.50 each. Keep talking to us, Iron Grill. We’re listening.

And I say listening because reading was rather difficult in some instances, thanks to what appeared to be a low ink cartridge issue at the time of menu printing. Way to mess with people BEFORE they start consuming alcohol. Maybe trade in one of those big lighting fixtures for some new cartridges, no?

Speaking of the menu, can we all just agree that using paper on a clipboard is a trend that should be voted off the island please? It’s like the time we went to The Merchant years ago and the only sound at the table for like 10 minutes was the rustling of pages as we all flipped around furiously trying to figure out our orders. Where did you see that entrée? Flip over the third page … no, wait, that was my third page, yours weren’t in that same order … refer to the yellow paper … oh, you don’t have that one? well, you can borrow mine …

I mean, seriously. It’s like a game of paper Go Fish just to figure out your meal.

Anyway, back to cocktails. So Cassi and Shane ordered the Orange Fire cocktail, which included “house infused jalapeno tequila.” Hmm. Interesting. I got an Iron Grill Sangria, just out of sheer curiousity as to why you would put Jameson in sangria.

Ever the adventurer, Ted got an arrogant bastard beer.

The drinks took long enough to prepare that our server and her trainee shadow (otherwise known as “the person who follows our server around and never utters a word”) could come back over and get our orders before the first round even arrived. That’s highly inconvenient. Did we somehow make our way back to that Mason Jar place in Aurora? Do places not realize that the quicker you provide us with drinks, the more we’re likely to consume, and thus pay for? Unless you’re against making money – in which case perhaps you should take a hard look at your priorities – this seems to be a pretty common sense business model.

You’d also think that after taking half a light year to prepare the drinks, they would at least be correct. *sigh* I guess the universe had an inkling that I wouldn’t enjoy the taste of Jameson in my sangria after all, because my drink arrived as the same order that Cassi and Shane had placed. And because I had been slightly intrigued by that one as well – and also I didn’t want to wait another decade for the bartender to handcraft the correct drink – I just stuck with that one instead of pointing out the mistake.

And it wasn’t awful. I mean, I don’t have the original drink to compare it to, but I wasn’t displeased with this one at all either. We all agreed that our drinks were spicy, but good. Jalapeno infused tequila definitely has a kick to it. I mean, as one would expect.

They had calamari as an app, so of course Shane had to order it, especially after we were denied at the Stowaway a few weeks ago. And, well, we kind of felt like we were denied it here as well, since the dish that appeared in front of us only had about half the amount that one of us would consider an appropriate appetizer portion.

Um, excuse me, why can we still see the plate with a full order?

It looked and smelled great, but overall it was pretty disappointing. The sauce was the same red stuff that you get with an order of egg rolls from the local Chinese take out place.  The sausage mixed in with the calamari was a nice touch and added to the flavor (that’s what she said) but without it we agreed that the dish would’ve been just mediocre, and really nothing different than what we’ve seen other places. In retrospect, maybe it’s a good thing that we didn’t have that much of it after all.

Shane: I expected more of this place.

See what putting chandeliers in your establishment does? Raises the bar, people.

Cassi got the loaded chips, which took forever to come out of the kitchen (do they have the potatoes special delivered fresh from Idaho for every order?) but were well worth it once they finally hit the table.

If you order anything on the menu here, pick these

The chips were crunchy and the toppings added to the overall flavor without just taking over the dish. And unlike the calamari dish, that bowl was seemingly bottomless.

Ted got the hummus, after I declared that I finally managed to change my taste buds somehow and like hummus again after all these years.

Ted – maybe now I own’t get made fun of for ordering it.

Not likely.

So healthy. Is this allowed?

Another nice presentation with the hummus platter. The pita was super soft, like biting into a cloud. And again, far more food than the calamari. Just FYI. I mean, if you’re keeping score.

Hey, remember that time Ted and Shane ordered a steak special on a Wednesday night? No? I’m shocked, because I have to believe it happens at least once a month. Although I’m not sure why they even try anymore, since nothing will seemingly ever beat The Doug Out.

Yes, that is a challenge to all you restaurants out there. Just sayin.

Anyway, Iron Grill has an 8oz steak for $12 with two sides. Not as economical as many of their Wednesday specials … and seemingly not very filling, seeing as Ted was done with his in like two minutes flat. It’s like we all looked down at our own plates for a moment and then looked up and there was Ted setting down his knife and fork on a clean plate.

I think Ted ordered the St. Patrick’s Day special

They also didn’t have a very good selection for the sides to go with the steak. Ted picked brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. Shane got fries, then shocked us all by ordering a side salad as his second option. What are these vegetables that you speak of arriving at our table in front of the guy who loves fried foods? This was new. But he pointed out that all of the other side options were either vegetables, other types or fries or something else potato based. Good point.

I’ll take “things you usually don’t see in front of Shane” for $1000 please

There’s some meat behind those fries. Honest.

Over on the not-dead-cow side of the table, Cassi and I opted for sandwiches. I got the Hot Italian (because that’s just fun to say), and Cassi got the Philly. Both came with fries.

The guys were immediately jealous when our meals arrived because it seemed like a lot more food on the plates than what their steaks and sides were.

We chose correctly

See, this fills a plate. And a belly.

My sandwich was good. Cassi didn’t seem quite as excited about her food, she only ate about half of half of her sandwich and took the rest home. I probably should’ve stopped eating at half of my sandwich, because I was crazy full after eating the entire thing – but it was so good that I didn’t want to put it down.

Word of wisdom, save yourself the extra $2 and just get the regular fries instead of the special “parmesan truffle fries.” I mean, call me crazy, but $2.00 seems a lot to pay for just a shake of parm cheese and some extra seasoning. I mean, for that price you can run to the local Aldi and get a whole container of cheese that you can just throw in your purse and add on your own. Because, let’s face it, it’s not like the wait staff was anywhere nearby to notice those kinds of shenanigans.

Which leads me to what was probably our biggest gripe about the Iron Grill … the service. Everyone on staff seemed to be moving in slow motion. It was like living in one of those stop action films where things get slowed down to a fraction of the pace for effect. We when the server wasn’t near the table they seemed to magically disappear into some mystic portal where they were oblivious to having tables to check on. Seriously, they were nowhere to be found. I mean, I get that our server was also training someone, but that seems to be the exact opposite of how you would want them to learn, no? Like hey, so you have these tables over here but make sure you hide out in the back when you aren’t specifically bringing something to one of them, so that they can’t find you if they need anything. Just don’t be in sight. Be stealthy like that.

Note taken, Iron Grill. With that philosophy, I’m guessing we won’t be in your sight again for a hot minute, either.

Picked by: Steph

Ted

Cassi

Shane

Steph

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WTGW 3/28/18: Paramount Pub, Akron

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At least we think that’s the name of this place. See if you can follow along in this fantastic lesson in what-not-to-do-in-marketing … the website says the name is The Paramount, but the directions led us to a place with a sign out front that reads The Hyde Out. OK. But the location is actually the old Grille on Waterloo that we went to about four years ago. Also if you look closely at the web page address for The Paramount, thegrilleonwaterloo.com is still the domain.

Confused yet? We sure are.

… at the place where nobody knows your name … or really even what the name of the place is …

Which is why, from here on out, I’m going to give this place a new name: The Identity Crisis Café. As you read on I’m fairly confident that name will be one of the few things that makes a clear amount of practical sense with regards to this place.

Let’s start with the menu – which I should point out says Hyde Out on the front cover, so I’m starting to catch on to the name they seem to think they want to use here. Too bad they’re going to have to change it after this review. Anyway, it starts out with a few pages of sports bar-esque American food (burgers, wings, salads, sandwiches, fried apps) followed by several pages of Asian dishes (sushi, hibachi, bento boxes, fried rice).

Um, what now?

Because those are two types of food I would probably never think to prominently feature together. I have to believe they’ve cornered the market on this specialty.

Cassi: I don’t know what to do – I mean, there are pickle chips and Crab Rangoon offered in the same place? Where are we? Why can I order both?

Also – why is every instance of the word “crab” spelled with a K in this menu?

Spelling 101

So. Many. Questions. And we haven’t even ordered yet.

As we were perusing the menu we started to tune into the background music of the place – which really should just be referred to as “music” because we were practically shouting at one another over it. It was like being in the back of a club during a concert … except there’s no band I can think of that plays a primary music catalog containing lots of 70s rock songs that go on for like 10 minutes of heavy guitar solos, then busts out an occasional Sublime hit from the 90s, followed by “Hey Jude” by the Beatles or John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

It’s like what if my dad, my grandma and 1990s college-aged, flannel-wearing me all took a road trip together and fought over the radio stations. Good times.

Hey, remember Cassi’s comment about the apps? Yeah, so, turns out we didn’t have to decide between pickle chips and crab (sorry, Krab) rangoon, because that’s exactly what we ended up with. Shane opted for bar food, while Cassi ventured into the Asian appetizer menu.

The pickle chips were OK. I mean, let’s face it, we’re ruined now after 3 Brothers. I don’t know why we even order them other places anymore since we already know it won’t live up to that standard.

Sorry, we’ve already judged you

Cassi wasn’t really a fan of the C(K)rab Rangoon, saying that she thought it was too sweet. Shane and I each tried one and thought they were OK  And then relived Shane’s last experience with something he tasted that he thought was going to be sweet.

Ah, Gus’ Chalet, you live on in infamy.

They look pretty

Most of us went with the Asian menu for our dinners – I think just because we were tired of bar food and enjoyed the change-up this week. It certainly wasn’t because we particularly trusted the freshness of any of the ingredients at this place. No raw fish for anyone at this table, thanks. We enjoy keeping our food inside our bodies as it digests. Crazy, I know.

As evidenced when Cassi ordered the Angel Hair Roll, and the server tried to talk her into the Angry Birds Roll instead because he thought it was better. One look at the ingredients – which included something raw, of course – and she was like no way, I’m sticking to my original order.

Plus who orders something named after an iPhone fad game from like six years ago? That just sounds sketch.

That’s some mad skills on the dragon, though

Shane got the General Tsos Chicken Bento Box and a side order of one Philadelphia Roll. Once again proving that even though it’s a different nationality of food, you still need more than one main dish on the table.

Shane’s first round of food

That plate is meant for those of us who don’t like their food to touch

Shane said his drawing made him think of Taco Bell. Because that’s what you want at a sushi bar.

And large dishes at that, as Shane was quite uncomfortable trying to find a place to rest his arm once all of his plates arrived on the table.

He looks so … natural

Because we all like to dangle our fork from windowsills during meals, no?

I really shouldn’t be throwing stones, though, since I ordered an Alaska Roll, a Spicy Tuna Roll and a small house salad. But while that sounds like a lot of food, at least two of those things arrived on the same plate. And I have to think that this actually may be the healthiest WTGW ever in my book. I mean, vegetables that aren’t fried? WTF. Another week like this and I might get kicked out of the group.

I think there’s a salad under all that cheese

That tree would be prettier without the iPhone shadow across it

Not one to play favorites, Ted got a Crazy Roll … and an American hamburger, no cheese. You know, because he could. He said he felt the need to make sure both menus were represented equally.

One of these things is not like the other

I think the whole “identity crisis” theme must’ve rubbed off on Shane a little bit, as evidenced by the fact that he actually … wait for it … willingly offered some of his food to me.

*gasp*

Right?!?

Now granted it was so I could taste his spring roll (that he didn’t realize came with his meal – along with that round one soup and salad) so I could make sure it didn’t have shrimp in it that might kill him, thanks to his allergy. (spoiler alert, it didn’t) But still. I think we’re all still picking ourselves up off the floor a bit from that shocker.

Speaking of shockers, Shane reported that his General Tso’s chicken – that he specifically asked the server if they could make “extra spicy” – was … drumroll, please … really spicy. Like he was struggling really spicy.

Be careful what you wish for at The Identity Crisis Cafe, folks.

Meanwhile, on the American menu side of the table, Ted had a struggle of his own going on, which involved ways to choke down an extremely dry burger. Like dip it in your water to make the patty edible kind of dry burger. Which let me be clear he didn’t actually do, but in hindsight it may have helped things a bit. When we suggested that that’s what the cheese is usually for on burgers, he said that he might be willing to try that if he thought it would help things at all, but he was pretty sure there was no saving this one.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s a bit odd that the burger was so overcooked and not moist, when it was one of the first meals to arrive at our table. Rather than bringing things out all at once, this place seems to subscribe to the Table 6 philosophy of just bringing plates out as they’re ready … except they’re like that friend everyone has who is like four subjects behind in a group conversation and never seems to know how to keep up so they just jump in whenever they think of something. The food was dropped off at odd intervals, with the burger arriving as one of the first actual meals, and the sushi as last. Which seems strange considering that’s supposed to be the most fresh, not cooked portion of our orders, but whatever.

We all pretty much thought the sushi was just OK. I mean, it was edible, but nothing you can’t find anywhere else. Ted liked his a little more than any of us … but, I mean, when you consider the other part of his meal was a sawdust patty on bread, you kind of figure that’s a no brainer.

We also had an enlightening discussion about the orange crunchy topping on some of the sushi, which involved more than one of us checking Google for an answer, and Shane declaring that he always figured it was crushed up Doritos.

Me: Because nothing says Asian food like crushed up Doritos

But with this place, who knows.

Orange toppings make Shane think of snack foods

Another fun discussion involved trying to size up the crowd, and how or why each of them found their way to this bar on a random Wednesday night. A couple wandered in at one point that seemed like they might have been on a date … except she was wearing lounge pants and actual slippers. Because nothing screams “I really just wanted to order in and I’m not happy about this whole going out in public thing” like wearing your pajamas to a restaurant. And then over closer to the bar there was a group of obvious bros all crowded around a table taking shots and watching basketball. Which begs the question … is there no BW3 within a 20 mile radius of this place? Do they all live upstairs and just migrate down for the alcohol? I mean, granted, nothing says let’s go get lit and watch some Final Four action like heading to the sushi bar in a somewhat sketch neighborhood … no?

At least no one could see us watching them, as we picked an unfortunate table next to the windows that seemed OK when we first arrived, but then was cloaked in darkness after the sun slipped behind the horizon. Which, because it’s still winter here in Ohio, happens at like 3PM these days. See also: the color difference in the pictures of our appetizers versus the color of our meals. Sorry, kids. It should also be pointed out that there were canister lights above our heads … that were missing the bulbs. Guess we know now what had to get cut from the budget in order to add that whole Asian side to the menu.

 

Picked by: Ted

Steph

Shane

Dual menu, dual rating. Thumbs up for sushi, thumbs not-so-up for the burger

Cassi

 

WTGW 1/31/18: Menches Brothers, Green

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When I first heard about Menches Brothers and their claim of being the ones to have invented the hamburger, I was like

I mean, OK, suuuurrrre you did. If that’s the case then I’m going to start calling my witty remarks the first insurgence of sarcasm.

But then I googled “who invented the hamburger” … and sure enough, there are their names. Color me surprised. Well, I mean, it’s not cut and dried, there’s some dispute … but at least their story is listed. And we all know that if something is on the internet it must be true, right?

As if all this fame business wasn’t enough to make us curious about the place, let’s add another marketing ploy to the list: Wednesday is burger day, which means $3 off all burgers. Perfection. Also $4 Long Islands. Which normally Shane would be all over, but he’s being all healthy these days and five different alcohols in one glass just screams calories.

I know, I’m not sure how to take that either.

Anyway,

So back to the burgers. They have 50 different kinds on their menu. Fifty. Who knew there were so many possibilities for two pieces of bread and some grilled meat? But I guess when you invent the dish, you can also take some liberties at the creativity.

Shane: I wonder how the pizza is here?

I have to be honest, though, fifty burgers with descriptions makes the menu a tad overwhelming. Not Cheesecake Factory short novel overwhelming … more like “I’ve been asked to read through my 10-year-old niece’s book report on a book I don’t know or care a thing about” kind of overwhelming. Exactly. It was enough that I was so engrossed with the burger descriptions that I completely forgot to look at the drink menu and draft beer list before the first time the server came over to take our drink orders. Fail.

Healthy Shane passed on the Long Island special, and instead ordered a tequila and soda. This is new.

He then proceeded to order breaded mushrooms as an app. Seriously, who is this guy?

Meanwhile, Cassi got pretzels. In the rock/paper/scissors game of app choices, she’s the perpetual winner of our group, as this is what appeared in front of us:

Appetizer win

And failure

Once again we chose poorly. Our mushrooms – normally little bombs of oil that take off the roof of your mouth with the first bite – were lukewarm with very little flavor. They also came out with cocktail sauce, leading the server to believe that maybe the cook got confused and thought they were actually sourkraut balls. Because that’s a logical mistake.

Meanwhile the pretzels were cooked perfectly with a slightly spicy cheese sauce for dipping.

I give up.

Ted ordered six Cajun hot wings, and told the server that he didn’t care if they came out with his meal or with the other apps. She brought them halfway in between. That works.

Wings: the perfect in-between meal

After actually asking about the pizza and getting a nonchalant response from the server, Shane opted for the Babbalouie burger. It was the biggest one on the menu, with double patties, bacon, two kinds of cheese, onions and mushrooms.

There’s a lot going on there

Good thing he’s drinking that low cal mixed drink.

He thought it was good. And as it should be – they tout it as the winner of awards at the National Hamburger Festival. The only fault he could really find was that it could’ve used more of the signature Menches sauce on it.

Ted, who at one point stated that it seemed like perhaps getting two burgers with wings might be too much, opted for the Pepper Spice burger.

Things just look lonelier without cheese

He said it was very spicy. Like he knew the name implied that and all, but so often that doesn’t really account for much so he was pretty shocked that it was actually true. Plus Ted’s taste buds are somewhat more inclined to taste fires than normal people’s, so when Ted says things are “very spicy” the rest of us might want to read that as “order only if you want to have an inferno in your mouth for about the next three days.”

Although that doesn’t really explain why he seemed to need a nipple on his beer. Props to our server for stopping over repeatedly to harass him about that after Shane made a comment when Ted passed on the second round. We always enjoy a server who doesn’t mind jumping onto our sarcasm bandwagons.

Speaking of the server, I deferred to her opinion for my meal, as I was torn between the Bacon Mushroom burger, the Chili Cheese burger and the Chipotle Ranch burger. I suck at decision making, I know. But our server offered no hesitation before choosing the Chipotle Ranch. Perfect. Sounds trustworthy.

Chip seasoning for the win

I’m happy to report that she wasn’t wrong. The chipotle ranch sauce was tasty and the toppings weren’t overpowering. Also I was glad I went with the chips as a side, because the seasoning on them – a sort of mix between a bbq and Lowry’s seasoned salt – was delicious.

Cassi also asked for the server’s option, between the Bacon Egg and Cheese burger and the Pizza burger. That one stumped the server, though, so Cassi was somewhat on her own there. She must’ve used up all of her decision-making skills with mine and Shane’s indecisiveness. Sorry about that one. In any case, Cassi went with the Bacon Egg and Cheese.

The bun with the olive looks like a little hat

And she wasn’t disappointed. She said that even though it was more well done than what she usually prefers for a burger, it wasn’t dry. And the toppings, again, were just enough to add to the burger without taking over.

Menches definitely earned thumbs up all around from us. While it’s a little bit bright inside – it definitely can’t be mistaken for a dive bar with drinking regulars who hate the light of day – the drinks were well made, the food was very tasty, and the service was top notch. I feel like it’s the type of place you could go back to several times just to try different burgers – I mean, there are 50 total, even with four of us at least 12 visits just to try all of the different options on the menu (hey, I can do math). Not to mention they also have other items, as well as specials on other nights of the week – $3 off pizzas on Tuesdays, and an Italian night on Saturdays with a choice of pasta entrees for $9.99, and 50 cent wing night on Thursdays … which is also the same night as the “kids eat for $1” special, which seems like it could make for quite the adverse crowd. I think we’ll skip that one, thanks. We knew we picked Wednesdays for a reason.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Ted

Shane

Steph

 
Menches Brothers Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 1/24/18: REVISIT – Sammie’s, Tallmadge

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Ever invited your new neighbors over for dinner as a friendly gesture … and then five minutes into the evening you realize you have zero in common with them, but no matter what you do or say they just won’t get the hint and leave?

That pretty much sums up this week’s revisit to Sammie’s. Hint: we’ll be playing the part of the new neighbors.

Sounds fun, right?

We were a party of three tonight, as Ted was on a work trip in Vegas … that he didn’t remember was actually this week until we were discussing it last week. Oops. Who forgets about a trip to Vegas, of all places, even if it is a work thing? Perhaps we need to get him a better calendar.

So since we were man down this week we decided to make this a revisit week. And gave Cassi a WTGW initiation with the responsibility to choose a place from all of the places we’ve been. Oh, the pressure.

Now, if you read our original post on Sammie’s from 2014, you’ll see why she thought this would be a good pick for the evening. Great service. Wednesday burger specials. And, most of all, $1.00 bottled beers. Seriously, how could you go wrong? I’m surprised we ever went anywhere else after we discovered this find back then.

Except that it seems all of those things have disappeared since that first visit. Or at least no one is talking about them anyway. There was no $1 beer special. And no mention of a burger special. And definitely no great service.

Bummer.

To be honest, we’ve been to Sammie’s on a few other non-Wednesday occasions since our original visit of almost four years ago, and every time I think we leave pretty much scratching our heads at how we liked it so much the first time we visited. It was like we hit some sort of oasis of WTGW amazingness that first time.

This week we were seated at a high top in the bar area, which is usually our perfect spot. In fact, when the hostess asked us if that table would work for us, all three of us answered “yes” in unison. However, if we’d known that we would soon be playing a game of Jenga with our dinner dishes we probably would’ve rethought our eagerness to accept that seating. More on that later.

Also, the decor in the bar could use some updating. To quote Cassi, “Are there always Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling, or are we just still celebrating the holidays here?”

Good question.

For drinks, Shane ordered a rum and diet while I got a tequila and soda. Or at least that’s what we thought we ordered. Apparently what the server heard was “just bring over half a bottle of rum and half a bottle of tequila in small rocks glasses with a tiny splash of mixer for coloring.” Awesome. Either that, or the bartender from Windsor Pub has a new job over here at Sammie’s these days.

Needless to say, we couldn’t flag down the server fast enough to order a few waters along with our appetizers, primarily so that we could dilute our 15 shots of alcohol in one glass. Mmmmm.

Shane was super hungry when we arrived, which translated to him wanting to order ALL THE APPS as soon as he opened the menu. We eventually agreed that just the mozzarella triangles would be sufficient. Cassi got the fried zucchini.

Little pillows of cheese heaven

Fried vegetables are still healthy, right?

It didn’t take long for our apps to come out, which is always a plus, especially when one member of your party keeps drooling over food that keeps getting delivered to neighboring tables. But we soon learned that having Speedy Gonzales as master chef back there isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

So being that bringing the apps over was the first time we had seen our server since she took that order, naturally we figured putting in our meal orders at that time was advised. And thus begins an interesting study in time management versus square footage of a table. Because it was only a few minutes later that the side salads we ordered arrived … while the apps were still on the table. OK, a touch cramped, but we got this.

Ok, I guess this might be healthier

But then literally five minutes after that, our meals showed up. Um, yeah, a little help here please? For real.

Also, for the record, the “help” I’m referring to isn’t a to-go box. Which is what the server showed up with when I was LITERALLY three bites into my dinner. Remember what I said earlier about feeling like someone no longer enjoyed your company? Like seriously, I get that maybe your shift ends in five minutes and you want to get the hell out the door (it didn’t, just FYI, because she was still waiting on just-seated tables as we were leaving a bit later), but maybe rushing us into taking our meals to-go isn’t the best way to increase your tipping percentage, or encourage patrons to revisit. Just saying.

Also, I realize I’m quite liberally using the word “literally” in this post – but trust me, it’s justified.

Anyway, let’s discuss this copious amount of food we had in front of us.

Shane was having a hard time deciding between ordering the spaghetti and meatballs, or the cod dinner. Which are, like, the two things on the menu that if you’d asked me I never in a million years would think he would even be considering, much less caught in a hot debate over. Who is this person?

He eventually ended up with the cod. I would pretend to be surprised, but, well, whatever at this point.

There’s fish under there somewhere

He said it was OK. He particularly liked the tarter sauce, which seemed to be homemade and was very tasty.

I ordered the meatball sub.

The anti-Ted meal. Also, note the leftover app chilling out on the edge of my plate.

I thought it was really good. Some people might disagree with me on this, since the sandwich was really just three large meatballs, giant sheets of cheese, and about a tablespoon of sauce on a roll. But for me, that was perfect. I will gladly choose cheese over sauce any day, especially since soggy bread pretty much skeeves me out.

Yeah, I know, it’s weird. Get over it.

Cassi got the portabella wrap. She really liked it, said it was very flavorful.

Points for presentation

So yeah, the food definitely wasn’t the issue here. If you’re looking for a decent meal, Sammie’s is still a solid choice. And if you’re the type who likes to feel like you’re being rushed through your meal, likes to see if you can finish an appetizer in two minutes flat, or likes to drink your weight in alcohol in just one drink, then I guess this is the place for you, too. But us, not so much. Sorry Sammie’s – let us know when the $1 beer specials return and our particular server isn’t racing through her shift, and maybe we’ll see each other again then. Until then, there are probably better places to spend our Wednesday evenings.

Shane

Steph

Cassi

 

WTGW 12/27/17: Dewey’s Pizza, Fairlawn

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‘Twas the week between Christmas and New Years, and once again it’s Ted’s pick. And once again he takes us to a busy place near the mall in Fairlawn. Anyone remember last year when we tried visiting two different new places, only to find them both full of holiday celebrations .. and finally ending up at the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet down the road?

Yeah, you may not, because I didn’t write a post for that evening. Mainly because I couldn’t keep up with the guys filling their plates in their seemingly never-ending quest to be full of sushi.

So instead this year we get to witness their never-ending quest to be full of pizza. The only thing Shane may like more than sushi in this entire huge world of food.

Spoiler alert: at one point in our evening at Dewey’s our group of five adults had four pizzas and a calzone on the table in front of us. No, we don’t overindulge when we eat. No way.

And before anyone points it out, yes, we get the irony of Ted being the one to pick a place that specializes in things covered in or filled with cheese. He did this to us last year with Melt, too. I think it’s his way of keeping us on our toes. Or maybe we really are running out of places to pick after 3+ years of doing this.

Anyway.

The wait at Dewey’s actually wasn’t too long when we arrived, and I think the fact that we had to wait at all had more to do with us being a large group of five in a place that’s pretty small for a local chain restaurant. It’s set up pretty similar to the ones in the Cleveland area, but this one is kind of like dollhouse sized compared to their regular adult sizes.

I’m not sure why they have a bar at the back of this one, either. Seems like wasted space where they could’ve – I don’t know – put more tables. Or something. Just a thought. I mean, you only serve like six craft beers and some select wines, do you really need a horseshoe of barstools around the cooler? Are people seriously just saying “Hey, let’s pop into Dewey’s and get one of these six beers that I’ve really been craving today?” Or are there people out there who can’t enjoy alcohol and food unless they actually sit at a bar to partake in it?

So. Many. Questions.

On the topic of poor design … so originally our group ended up being crammed into a booth, I believe maybe just for the sake of seating us and getting our orders in since pizza can take a hot minute to prepare. Or maybe we looked like the type that would cause trouble in the waiting area if left alone for too long. Who knows. But I think as soon as the server heard our order of enough food to feed an entire youth football team, she knew this seating arrangement wasn’t going to be a good fit. Or rather a fit at all. Simple math tells you that four pizzas that are each 11 inches or larger do not fit on a booth table. Hell, we barely even fit in the booth ourselves – as it was Ted was moored to the end of the table by a single chair. We joked that he might have to set up his dinner on the stack of high chairs off to his right. Because that seems appealing.

It was also about a billion degrees in that corner. Or maybe it was just the body heat of all of us crammed in there. I mean, I appreciate a tropical island temperature as much as the next person, but not when I’m dressed for the -10 wind chill that is NE Ohio in late December.

In any case, we enjoyed our first round of beers on this, our own little tropical oasis, as well as mine and Cassi’s peppercorn ranch side salads that we ordered as appetizers. Or, rather, one large salad that we ended up splitting after the server suggested it would be cheaper for us to just to that than get our own individuals. Good call. I appreciate frugality. Especially when we’re on this tropical vacation and all.

I promise this is the last photo of anything healthy you’ll see on this post

Hey, a bigger table opened up! So what if maybe the server had to obviously stare down another large group, or inconspicuously whisper to them that they would offer up a handful of gift certificates to make them leave and make room or us, since the laws of physics weren’t going to allow us to eat in our current situation without one of us placing their meal on the floor. I can only say that I’m somewhat surprised we didn’t topple our current table as we all jumped to our feet at once as soon as another server arrived at our table and announced that we could move if we wished.

Let’s just say that was a true blessing, because this new, larger table still came close to almost causing one of us to eat out of our laps. I mean, we could probably create one of those math word problems just to figure out the exact size of our table (“If five people order four pizzas and they cover the entire width of the table, how large must the table and the pizzas be if the sizes can only be 11, 13 and 17 inches?”) But I don’t like math, so we won’t go there.

A nice feature of Dewey’s is that they have an entire menu of specialty pizzas, and you can split any pizza in half, no matter the size, so that you can try a few different specialty pizzas at once. Or plausabily split one pizza with a larger group who may disagree on what they want to order. But we wouldn’t know anything about that theory. Obviously.

So with all those options, it makes total sense that Ted got a full Don Corleone pizza. Just one kind for all 13 inches. No splitsville for him. At least he’s definitive.

Ted and his meat pie. Wait, that sounds bad

Jason got the half southwest BBQ and half Bronx Bomber. His was a 13 inch as well.

I guess I lied before. Here’s a few more vegetables.

Not wanting to play favorites on who would be his “food soul mate” for this trip, Shane chose half of his as the Don Corleone, and half Bronx Bomber. So if you’re following along, that’s half of half of Jason’s and half of Ted’s.

Wait, I think we’ve seen these already

Remember that whole thing I mentioned about being able to split pizzas when people at the same table want the same order?

This also explains why all of our pizzas look somewhat similar. Trust me, I’m trying to keep up, too.

Well, OK, so you can tell which one is Shane’s pizza because someone (read: me) convinced him to get the 17 inch. You know, the largest one. For himself.

This is what good wives do, people. Take notes.

Cassi got the 11 inch half porky fig and half caprice. Hers is the baby pizza on the table.

Look at all that cheese. It’s probably good this was on the complete opposite side of the table from Ted.

Meanwhile I got a calzone with pepperoni, mushrooms and banana peppers. Partially because even though – as I’ve already stated – I don’t do math, my numbers-hating brain could deduce that another pizza was not fitting on this table.

Still dough and cheese – just in a more compact form

We all agreed everything was good. Perhaps the best praise of the night was when Ted said it was “one of the better pizzas he’s ever had.” And that’s even with cheese, people. *gasp* Of course he had to refute the cheese comment by saying that there was so much meat on the pie and it pretty much overpowered anything else … so there’s that. Loopholes.

Although he later changed his story, and claimed this was actually “in his Top 5 pizzas.” Not that he really knows what other ones would be on that list, though, since we all know this isn’t exactly his favorite meal. Maybe he just felt like Shane shouldn’t be the only one holding court in the list market.

You can also judge our fondness for a place by how much we leave on our plates at the end of the night. In this case, all but one of us were all winners of clean plate awards for the evening. Jason was the first to finish his whole pizza. Cassi was going to save one slice of hers, but once Jason finished his off and there wasn’t going to be a take home box she just decieded to eat her last one and save the need. Ted also accepted the challenge and ate his whole pizza. But the last two slices were tough, and probably should’ve gone home with him.

Shane was the odd man out, taking four pieces of his pizza home for later. That couldn’t at all be because someone convinced him to get the larger size or anything. Nope.

It was about the time that they were clearing away our plates that I looked over and noticed another group of five at a table not far from us being delivered one 17 inch pizza for them all to share. Um, really? ONE pizza? They’re clearly amateurs.

I think the place has potential – but unlike the other Dewey’s up in Cleveland, this one seems pared down a little and definitely caters to the “we’re shopping at the mall and want pizza but not from the food court because I want to have a beer with it” crowd. The ambiance isn’t so great, either. Our tropical corner booth aside, it just seems a bit sterile and uninviting. There’s no memorable background music or sporting events on large TVs – and with a large open space that kind of makes it seem cavernous when it’s just snippets of conversations rising up to fill the air. It definitely has an air of “eat and get out,” not “hang out and have another beer” to it – which, again, is why the bar is a bit baffling. But the pizzas are good, and I would definitely think of them as an option for take out after a shopping trip or on the way home from work. Just don’t make me do the math to figure out how many will fit into my car comfortably.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Shane

Steph

 

 

WTGW 12/13/17: REVISIT – Pat Dee’s, Northfield

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In tonight’s episode of “let’s face intense weather conditions just to go out to a dive bar and enjoy food and drinks,” Mother Nature throws a giant snowstorm in our faces. So obviously we still are not friends.

For the record, I have to believe there are more subtle ways to remind us of this, but whatever.

In light of that, Shane was supposed to be choosing someplace close to home Which totally explains how we ended up in Northfield. Good call.

The last time we went to Pat Dees, Shane was working late so Ted and I drove separate and met him there, along with Amanda and Jerrid. That night there was a driving downpour rainstorm. So I guess the moral is that we can apparently only visit this place when some sort of precipitation is falling from the sky.

Which is also fun because each visit seems to bring a giant debate about how exactly we get inside the building. Because loitering around outside in rain and snow is a super fun way to start an evening. There’s a door at the very front of the building, and another hidden behind the covered patio that is hardly visible from the parking lot. Guess which was the right one?

I mean, why make it obvious.

The place also sort of resembles a house from the outside. What is it with Shane and these places?

Cassi, as we’re entering:  “Are we going to my Grandma’s house?”

And once we’re in, there’s everything from groups of people younger than us, to hard core drinking regulars, to families. OK then. The marketing slogan must be “something for everyone.”

Shane orders a rum and coke, Ted gets a Christmas Ale (after his usual dark beer inquisition) and Cassi and I get tequila and sodas. Hers arrived with the extra bonus of a dead fruit fly floating in the glass. Thanks for the extra free protein, but maybe ask next time before just assuming it’s what we wanted, k?

For apps it was breaded mushrooms for Ted and for Shane and me, with Cassi choosing tater tots.

Fried potato goodness

It’s still a vegetable, right?

The mushrooms were apparently cooked directly on the surface of the sun. I picked one up and promptly lost a layer of skin on my fingers. I then tried to caution Shane – since he usually needs his food of any kind to be chilled to almost ice cream level – but he was in the middle of a story and ignored my sign language warnings … so he ate one anyway.

I wish I had a picture of his face as that happened.

But regardless, no longer having taste buds didn’t deter us from ordering and eating enough food for us and our 15 imaginary friends.

I got the battered fish dinner, after debating between that and the corned beef. Truth be told I probably should’ve gone the other way. The fish was just OK. And I probably would’ve preferred real tarter sauce to the packets they provided me with. Because after the fruit fly incident, who knows how long those have been lying around.

Almost everything on that plate is the same color

I also remembered quickly what I didn’t like about our last visit to Pat Dees … the battered French fries. Because we need to make them more unhealthy?

Ted got 12 of the Cajun wings and a hamburger. The burger was average, according to Ted. I have to be honest that it looked a little less so from my side of the table – also especially considering what we ate on our last WTGW evening out. But he seemed happy enough with it.

Mmm, charcoal briquettes on a bun

The wings were another story, though, as he had ordered them “wet,” and they arrived actually as dry wings but covered in some sort of grease. Or maybe motor oil?

Thick, gelatinous liquid at the bottom of the basket is always a good sign, no?

Cassi got a pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms. She really liked it, and said that she thought the crust in particular was really good. Her only complaint was that the sauce was a bit too sweet, and there seemed to be too much of it on the pizza. How come there’s never too much of something we really like on pizza? Like cheese? I mean, just sayin.

Looks tasty

Shane also opted for pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms – and also added Italian sausage. He disagreed with Cassi’s observation that the sauce was too sweet, but agreed that it was pretty good overall.

The bigger one must be Shane’s

Side note – we later heard a new table behind us try to order a pizza and they were told the place ran out of pepperoni. I think we may need to take responsibility for that one.

Shane also got six garlic parm wings, a decision he regretted later not only because he was too full after eating only half of the pizza to even touch the wings … but, well, he realized there was some sort of science experiment happening with his wing basket about halfway through our meal.

I can feel my arteries hardening just looking at this

Seriously, what the hell is that?

It’s escaped, and it’s coming for us

Oh good, it hardened. That’s helpful.

By the time the server came over to see if we needed any boxes, Shane’s wings were pretty much glued to the table. She was slightly disapproving and judgemental about the grease slick when Shane pointed to it saying he needed a box.

Shane – it leaked
Server – Mmm hmm

Something tells me this isn’t the first time she’s seen this, so maybe she sould redirect that burning judgement to ownership in purchasing some heavier duty wing baskets.

So basically the moral here is that if you choose wings, you either get them in motor oil (Ted) or Crisco (Shane). Interesting flavor choices. I can see why they didn’t list them on the menu.

Ted, regarding the grease imprisionment of Shanes wings: Well, of all the places we’ve been we can say weve never seen THAT before.

True story.

So basically the consensus is that Pat Dee’s wasn’t our favorite place the first time around, and it’s still holding court at that spot now after a revisit. I’m not exactly sure what Shane was remembering that made him want to return. Maybe he found another door somewhere to a better place?

Picked by: Shane

Rockstar Shane

Ted

Cassi

Steph

 

 

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