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

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WTGW 3/8/17: Market Street Grill & Pub, Akron

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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

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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

WTGW 12/21/16: Burgers 2 Beer, Solon

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Holy crap, this place is packed on Wednesdays. Presumably because they have trivia, a phenomenon we had yet to run into on a Wednesday night adventure. And one I can’t quite say I fully understand the popularity of, but whatever.

Although the itty-bitty parking lot does make Burgers 2 Beer look a tad bit busier than what they actually are. They share the lot with Penn Station – the fast food sub place – so of course we joked when we were walking in that everyone was probably there. Uh, no, but nice try. Still, I don’t think anyone in this place other than us understands the meaning of the word “carpool.”

The rather extensive draft beer list was already waiting on the table when we sat down, which is always a good sign. Especially for a place that has that particular entity in its title.

The large variety of beers of course meant that Shane went with a Miller Lite. I got the Breckenridge Agave Wheat. Ted realized Breckenridge made a Christmas Ale and went with that choice. I sampled his and was a little disappointed I didn’t order that one. There’s always round two.

So being that the other half of the name of the place is burgers, you can probably guess that that involved another extensive list. Such marketing wizards with the name of the place. But this was a bit of overkill – like three pages of the menu devoted just to burgers. And some interesting concoctions – one involved truffle butter and brie cheese, one with peanut butter, one with tater tots and sloppy joe  … and one was even served on a glazed donut.

 

No calories here. Nope. None at all. Maybe they should rename this place “Heart Attacks 2 Cholesterol Levels.”

Ted started with the candied pork appetizer. It was like meat, not on a stick. Although it wasn’t quite as good as the meat on a stick he got at that place in Richfield we can never remember the actual name of that Shane would rather set himself on fire than walk into again, it was still tasty. As soon as it arrived at the table, Shane’s nose immediately singled out the garlic in it. Ted said it was spicy. Like OK for him, but probably not for everyone.

Meat, no stick

Meat, no stick

I mean, this is the guy who recently called acid wings “not hot at all,” so just keep that in mind.

For his meal, Ted got the pizza burger. Seems odd for a guy who hates cheese, but I guess this is really the safest version of pizza he could ever find, no? Well, other than the cheese-less pizza he got a few weeks ago, but that’s a bit of an anomaly.

Burger, take one

Burger, take one

He said the burger was good, but a little bland. Especially with everything that was going on there (pepperoni, peppers, marinara, onions and mushrooms – plus cheese, for normal people), it just didn’t seem to have much flavor. He still stands by his all time favorite being The Rail.

Shane: “That place that tried to kill me.”

Every. Time.

Shane got the monthly special burger for December – which I can’t remember exactly what came on that, but I do know it involved peppers and some other spicy stuff, since I was debating on getting the same one. His burger, like Ted’s, was also just OK. Said the patty itself didn’t have much flavor, but everything else on the burger was good.

Burger, take two

Burger, take two

He also got salt and vinegar wings. Is this like week #27 with wings? I’ve seriously lost count.

But he said the wings didn’t taste like salt & vinegar. Ted tried one and said they tasted like BBQ potato chips. Close? Not really. Maybe the cook just got his flavor bags from his snack packs mixed up.

They all start to look alike after a while

They all start to look alike after a while

I got the hot & bothered burger – habenero cheddar cheese, onions, siracha mayo and jalepenos. Sounds super bland, no? Yeah, it was definitely spicy. I also used the house BBQ sauce that they keep on the table as my condiment of choice to dip my tater tots in, and that had some kick to it too.

Burger, take three - plus tots

Burger, take three – plus tots

And I wonder why my taste buds sometimes revolt against me.

Amanda got the club burger (ham, turkey, bacon and gouda), which she  almost had to eat bunless, as the top of the sandwich flew off when the server brought her meal to the table. She did bring Amanda another top bun – but at least the bunless burger made for a nice photo op.

Burger, waiting for the top bun

Burger, waiting for the top bun

Amanda also agreed that the burger patty itself needed more flavor. The toppings were good, but if you just ate a piece of the burger patty it was unimpressive.

So basically the moral is that if you go, be sure get the burger with the most toppings – or at least the most flavorful ones anyway – so they can mask the taste of the actual burger patty itself. Because that seems right, considering the name of the place and all.

New name idea: “Toppings 2 Mask The Blandness.”

Service was pretty good, considering how busy it was there. The trivia was alternately interesting and annoying at the same time. It was loud, so at times we were having to shout over the host to hear one another. We also had to restrain ourselves from shouting out answers that we knew, which took a lot on our parts at times. Because, you know, restraint is definitely nowhere in our vocabularies. Have you seen the tables of food we order sometimes? Seriously.

Picked by: Amanda
Next pick: Ted

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Amanda

Amanda

B2b Burgers 2 Beer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 11/9/16: Mavis Winkles Irish Pub, Twinsburg

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Sorry we’ve been away.  World Series, yo. I mean, we do live in Cleveland after all.

Which translates to Amanda’s pick being on the back burner for about a month now, since our streak of baseball watching began with the playoffs and we didn’t want to chance trying out a new place that may or may not have ample televisions tuned to the game, as well as seating options with good sight lines of said televisions.

Not that we’re needy or anything.

Also it’s ironic to note that when choosing a sports bar to head out to in order to catch the games, suddenly we seemed to forget all 157 we’ve been to in the area, and ended up texting one another things like “When did we go there again?” and “I don’t know, what kind of TV setup do they have there?” 

See also: why our blog stats shot up considerably in those few weeks, as we all frantically researched sports bars.

Anyway.

So Mavis Winkles is located in the same plaza as the Panini’s with the great outdoor bar that we discovered we loved about three years ago. And haven’t been back to since, because somewhere we read that Panini’s location closed. Yeah, it didn’t. Damn you internet and your lies.

We were seated at a high top near the bar but not really in the bar area. If that makes sense. The layout of the place is a little strange, just keep that in mind.

For drinks it was a Boddington for me (hey, it is an Irish place), Guinness for Ted (after he asked what dark beers they had, apparently forgetting we were in an Irish place), Angry Orchard for Shane and Miller Lite for Jerrid.

Our poor server came back to check on us like six times before we actually places our dinner orders. We’re chatty all of a sudden when we haven’t done this for a few weeks. But I give her points for at least trying.

For apps, Ted tried to get the calamari, but was told they were out. Which prompted Shane to start reinacting the scene in Tommy Boy where he gets the waitress to turn the fryers back on. “Are you sure? Wings would taste really good right now.”

Let’s just say it turned out better for Tommy.

So poor Ted went with zucchini planks instead. I had my money on the hummus platter being his number two choice. Dammit Ted. You let me down.

I wish I could say they tasted better than they look

I wish I could say they tasted better than they look

Shane and I got the reuben rolls. They also have reuben bites on the menu (see also: Irish place), but we went with the rolls – because, as Shane explained, rolls just sound like more real food than “bites.” Bites are dainty. And we all know by now dainty is not in the list of adjectives for us.

And the rolls were definitely real food. In fact, they were kind of like small, deep fried, wrap sandwiches. That apparently looked obscene. Shane called them “reuben dongs.”

Shane's obscene appetizer. Because he's 12.

Shane’s obscene appetizer. Because he’s 12.

That’s my husband, y’all, keepin’ it classy.

At least they were a nice juxtaposition to the side salad I got with my cabbage and corned beef dish and that arrived at the same time. Giving the appearance of healthy, as I ate what was essentially iceberg lettuce with balsamic dressing with one hand while also eating the deep fried corned beef with the other. Point, me.

Something healthy. Wait, what?

Something healthy. Wait, what?

In any case, the reuben rolls were delicious. And could’ve been a meal all in themselves, if you ordered the app just for you. The dipping sauce was also really good – and I’m usually one to skip condiments, so that’s a real compliment.

Ted said the zucchini planks were OK. He said the breading was good, but there just wasn’t enough of it. So obviously he wasn’t ordering these for the health benefits of vegetables. And he said the zucchini was cut too thick. Which prompted this conversation:

Shane: They look like they’re cut like pickle spears. Because they should be cut like bacon strips.
Ted: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

Glad we have our own language here.

Three of the five of us got something that featured corned beef. Have I mentioned we’re at an Irish place? I wasn’t sure.

I got corned beef and cabbage.

The never-ending bowl of Irish food

The never-ending bowl of Irish food

Amanda got the corned beef boxty (corned beef with potato pancakes).

Similar but different

Similar but different

Ted got the hot reuben sandwich (basically the reuben rolls without the deep frying).

Looks less obscene

Looks less obscene

We all agreed that the corned beef here was really good. As well it should be, because, well … OK, I’ll stop saying it.The corned beef was thicker shaved and very meaty, not the thinner, stringier stuff you get at some places. It had just a touch of seasoning, but not overly salty. And they give you a giant portion, no matter what form it was being served in. We all agreed we would definitely get each of our meals again.

On the non-corned beef side of the table we had Jerrid with chicken paprikash, and Shane with six of the honey mustard wings and a large order of fish and chips.

At least they didn’t order burgers?

Jerrid said the chicken paprikash was good, but was lukewarm when it arrived instead of piping hot, which he would’ve preferred. As would most normal people, I assume.

Is that a dollop of sour cream?

Is that a dollop of sour cream?

Shane’s eyes were a bit bigger than his stomach on his order. Also note, when they say large on that fish and chips order, they mean it. He had been debating on ordering the meatloaf but was worried it might not be enough food for him … meanwhile the fish and chips was too much. It’s like Goldilocks and the Various Menu Options. He took the wings home since he was so full.

Why does everything Shane eats look obscene?

Why does everything Shane eats look obscene?

Always a staple at our table

Always a staple at our table

As mentioned already, our server was very good. She put up with our “we’ve never been here before, what’s good” line of questioning when we first sat down, came back to check often on drinks and how things were going, was patient when we didn’t seem to be able to get our crap together to order, etc. We also may or may not have been her only table – but because of how strangely this place was laid out we couldn’t really be sure. Whatever. We’ll still give her credit, she was good.

Our big downer about this place, though, was the atmosphere. It was a little blah. I mean, maybe you missed my mentioning it, but it’s an Irish Pub. And I get that it’s a Wednesday night, so the good folks of Twinsburg probably weren’t exactly in the frame of mind for dancing on tables or taking 15 shots of Jameson or anything like that – but still. It could be that I think they close at like 9pm (which seems odd for a pub, no?), so of course by 8:45 we were likely about the only table left and it just seemed rather quiet. Overall the food was decent and we had good service, so I guess we might go back if we were in the area and wanted a bite and a beer … but then again with Panini’s right at the opposite end of the plaza I have to believe that might get more of the vote.

Ted

Ted

Gangsta Shane

Gangsta Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Amanda
Next pick: Ted

Mavis Winkle's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 10/12/16: Tacos Mexicanos, Macedonia

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

More on that in a minute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds delightful, no?

Margaritas should not be this color. Ever.

Margaritas should not be this color. Ever.

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

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

Better color, not better flavor.

Better color, not better flavor.

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

Amanda got the burrito Mexicano.

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

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

Jerrid got the beef chimichangas.

Mexican stuff in shells with sauce and cheese, take two

Mexican stuff in shells with sauce and cheese, take two

I got the fire burrito.

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

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

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

Shane's looks like a pizza

Shane’s looks like a pizza

 

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

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

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

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

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

Am I wrong?

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

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

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

I guess the moral here is to stop thinking.

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

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

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

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

WTGW 9/7/16: New Era, Akron

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

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

Because that’s fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More fried stuff

More fried stuff

We should just bring our own deep fryer with us

We should just bring our own deep fryer with us

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

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

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

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

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

Don't let the size fool you.

Don’t let the size fool you.

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

"I'd like an extra ball, please"

“I’d like an extra ball, please”

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

Fried, fried and kinda, sorta vegetable

Fried, fried and kinda, sorta vegetable

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

Chicken, are you ready for your closeup?

Chicken, are you ready for your closeup?

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

But aside from OnionGate she said things were good.

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

Chilled chili = not as impressive

Chilled chili = not as impressive

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

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Imitating Amanda

Imitating Amanda

Ted

Ted

Imitating Shane

Imitating Shane

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

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

???

???

Practicing his cheerleading moves

Practicing his cheerleading moves?

Whatever.

Whatever.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jerrid

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