WTGW 9/19/18: Wolf Creek Tavern, Norton

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Hey, it’s mid-September and we’re still reveling in patio weather here in NEOhio. Three cheers for a freakishly warm fall! Horray!

Although this week’s patio didn’t provide the same scenery as some of our other adventures this summer – I mean, sitting next to a busy street being “entertained” by children at the ice cream place across said street trying to get cars to honk at them doesn’t exactly compare to the time we sat next to a lake, or the time we technically sat outside but were in the basement of patios – but hey, we had giant lifeguard chairs at this one so that counts for something, right?

Sure.

Especially when the alternative to sitting on the patio was to sit inside in a dining room that kind of reminded us of grandma’s unused formal parlor. Or a long-in-need-of-a-remodel country club.

I think you’re drawing a picture in your head, and I’m sure whatever it is, it’s not unlike what you would actually encounter here.

Anyway.

Let’s start with drinks, because that’s really how every Wednesday evening does (and deservedly so should) begin.

Wolf Creek Tavern has a pretty impressive craft beer list, including several that I for one was unfamiliar with. Cassi and Ted ordered the house brew beer, I got something that had peach in it, and Jason ordered something that started with a W and was basically unpronounceable so I’m not about to try and recreate the name now.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered got a gingertini, because, well, when your name is on the menu then you are pretty much obligated to order whatever it is that’s named after you.

They named the most masculine drink after Shane

Pinkies out!

He said it tasted like Hawaiian Punch. That can’t be a bad thing. Unless, of course, you’re trying to drink slowly, I guess.

Remember when I said it’s been a warm fall? Well, apparently that season is recreating itself inside the coolers at Wolf Creek Tavern, because our beer – both bottled and draft – was somewhat on the lukewarm spectrum. Which is an issue that a chilled glass would probably solve … although those glasses are usually kept in a cooler either the same as or in close proximity to where the bottled beer is kept, so in this case that probably wouldn’t help.

#firstworldproblems

So if there are fried green tomatoes on the menu, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Shane will order them – even if they don’t have his name on them like certain fruit punch tasting drinks.

They should just rename this dish universally to “Shane’s Preferred Appetizer”

He was happy with them.

Meanwhile Cassi and Jason ordered the pierogi stack, and Ted opted for the Korean BBQ wings.

Comfort food for the win

Fancy wings

The pierogis were good. The wings, however, were a bit dry. It’s not really unusual for Ted to offer up his food to the rest of the table for sharing after it arrives, but when he’s on like the third round of “no, really, I don’t mind sharing, please help yourself” we all start to put the puzzle pieces together on why he really wants to get the plate out from in front of him.

Speaking of third rounds, that seemed to be about how many times it took before our server actually registered something we said to her. Case in point, Ted had ordered the house brew, but then when we put in our apps he also asked her about the other beers that were on tap aside from that one. She said she would check and let him know. But then we never saw the server again until the apps were delivered. So Ted tried asking again, and she acted like he had never asked in the first place. And again told him that she would go check and let him know.

Ted, after she left: You all did hear me ask the first time, right? That wasn’t just, like, in my head?

Fortunately she did return this time, only slightly before Ted was ready to just go wander behind the bar himself and start investigating on his own. Maybe we should’ve let him – I mean, he probably could’ve fixed the coolers while he was back there.

There also seemed to be some disconnect with doing more than one thing at a time whenever our server was at the table. I mean, most servers use each touch point as a chance to kind of kill two birds with one stone, so to speak – so visit once, get drink orders … visit again to drop off drinks, take app orders … visit again to check on drinks and take dinner orders … you get the idea. It’s pretty straightforward. I mean, if you’ve eaten in a restaurant, well, ever, then there’s no deep-shrouded mystery in how the dining out process works in most situations. I’m sure no one reading this blog has just been sitting in their house for the past 20+ years thinking to themselves, “I wonder how servers manage to find out what it is that you want to eat and when the appropriate time is to inquire about this.”

If that is the case, then you and our server would get along famously. And take her with you whenever you go out in search of the great meaning of dining out, because she could use a few pointers.

Although she did mention to us that this was her first night back from vacation. If I’m not mistaken, that was the whole reason why she said she had to go check on the draft list that Ted kept asking about – because she had been away somewhere and was just coming back to work that night.

Clearly, wherever she went, she’s still there in spirit.

It pretty much became a game of how many things we could say to her each time she came to the table, because our time with her was limited and then it would be another 20+ minutes before she would return again.

See also, why the photos of our apps and our dinners look like they were taken on two separate days, because we finished said apps and the sun had quite literally set on the day before we even had a chance to put our dinner orders in.

But hey, at least by the time our dinners arrived the ice cream place across the street was closed, so therefore all the small children yelling at cars to get them to honk their horns were home safely in bed by that point, and we could eat the remainder of our meal in relative silence.

Small victories.

Three of the five of us ordered the fish and chips for dinner. I only took one picture, because, well, you can figure that much out. I mean, unless you’re our server, in which case I’m probably giving you way too much credit. But that’s neither here nor there.

This, x3

It was just OK. Shane called it greasy. Which I get, but also kind of figure that comes with the batter-dipped, deep-fried territory, no?

I mean, he still ate the whole thing, too, so it couldn’t be that bad. Or maybe since it was like 9pm by this point and we felt like we had been sitting there through two days and three seasons, he was just hungry enough not to care.

The other two members of our party – one of whom was Jason and for once the other wasn’t his food-twin Shane – ordered burgers.

Look, we’ve been here so long we’re eating breakfast now, too

Excuse me, sir, but is your burger wearing a hat?

Jason’s burger was supposed to come with jalapenos in addition to the fried egg, but he wasn’t having any part of that condiment. Not one to see hot peppers cast off as useless, Ted asked for the jalapenos that Jason didn’t want to be placed on his burger instead. They brought them in a little cup, which he shared with Shane. And all was well with the world.

Because nothing tastes better after a few sweet, fruity drinks that some lukewarm beer, Shane decided to switch things up after a few rounds and order the “Mystery Beer” that they advertised on the menu (or maybe it was just because he was at this point still holding his menu because she still hadn’t come around to take our dinner orders yet, and he just for once had time to read the. entire. thing.) In any case, the gimmick is that they bring you a beer that could be anything on their craft menu, and if you guess it correctly it’s only $2.00. If not, you pay full price.

Which we learned was a lot more than $2, since Shane did not guess correctly. He guessed vanilla porter, and it turned out to be an oatmeal stout. He also wasn’t a fan. Which means he paid far more than he had hoped for a beer that he didn’t care for.

So that experiment played out well.

Hey, I finally got a cold drink! Well, it’s only because they put actual ice cubes in my glass before they poured my cider. Apparently we’ve been at this place long enough for new bartending trends to develop now?

Overall, if you haven’t guessed, the service killed this place for us. I mean, the food was OK – nothing off the charts outstanding, but nothing I wouldn’t necessarily order again either. But the service – or, rather, lack thereof – was just awful. And the worst part is that there was no reason for it to be that way. The patio had at most two other tables filled in the course of our meal, and one of them was looked after by another server. I mean, look, we can be understanding if the place is jam-packed, or if you tell us that there’s a table of 25 on the polar opposite side of the space that you’re also responsible for. Give us some credit – we’re not complete jerks who don’t understand the hinderances and complications of the restaurant world. Tell us that your co-worker is a biotch who called off hungover at the last minute and left you to fend for yourself. Rat out the horrible hostess who quadruple sat you within the past 10 minutes. We get it. But when you disappear for long stretches and then return with no explanation while only giving us the grace of your attention for like two minutes before you Houdini yourself to the nether lands again? Nope.

We determined on the drive home that somewhere somehow we annoyed the restaurant gods, and our penance now is bad service for the forseeable future. Our past few visits out it just seems to get progressively worse. Which of course brought up tales of awful service of WTGW pasts … anyone remember The Annex? The one place we actually walked out of without being served? … but were graced with the lingering smell of grilled hamburger grease on our clothes and hair for the remainder of the night?

Please, for the love of all things edible, let this curse be broken before we hit that point again.

Also, we had to go inside to take our photos, lest we revisit the incident of Tinkers Creek Tavern a few weeks ago. So, no, we didn’t sneak off to the local golf club just to take a few pictures. But this just further explains why we will probably only return on patio-worthy evenings.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Steph

Shane

Jason

Ted

Someone trapped the fooseball players under glass! They can’t breathe in there!

Wolf Creek Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 8/15/18: Tinkers Creek Rd Tavern, Northfield

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It’s a rite of passage this week, as this marks Jason’s first official pick as part of our WTGW crew. Because after a certain number of weeks dining out with the group you’re forced to stop freeloading and take responsibility for some of the sketchy choices we’ve made over the years, as well as the judgmental, sarcastic commentary that follows.

Needless to say he was a little nervous.

His nerves certainly weren’t calmed on the drive to Tinkers Creek Road Tavern, as we all at one point or another commented that, while we weren’t far from our homes in terms of mileage, we sure were in terms of civilization. This place is quite literally in the middle of absolute nowhere. Or, technically, the middle of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Which led to speculation that Jason’s search for this place must’ve essentially consisted of Googling “places to go for a beer when lost in the forest.”

Boy Scouts would be proud.

Once we finally found the place the concern switched to whether or not we would actually get a table prior to the 9PM closing time, as the parking lot looked packed and the building looked way too tiny to hold all of the people that would’ve arrived in said vehicles.

It turns out that the building is deceptively small looking, and they probably want to think about expanding that parking lot.

Upon entering we realized that the easiest way to a hostess’ heart is to tell them you have no preference between indoor or outdoor seating, as she proclaimed she loved us after that statement. We figured that given the number of cars in the parking lot and the vacancy of the indoor areas, we would most likely not see the likes of a patio this evening.

We were wrong. The hostess led us outside to the patio, where we discovered not only the owners of most of those cars in the parking lot, but also an amazingly beautiful patio situated next to what I’m assuming must be the namesake Tinker’s Creek.

Well this certainly doesn’t suck for background atmosphere

It was like being in a whole other world. Or on vacation somewhere not in northeast Ohio. Which, with Ted in the driver’s seat, isn’t all that difficult a proposition. How long were we in the car, exactly?

We showed our appreciation for our new environment from the very beginning, as we became what I can only assume were the most agreeable table ever to set foot on this particular patio. Drink menus? Yep, hand them over. Waters for everyone? Sure! With lemon? Why not!?!

Cassi put the brakes on our enthusiasm train when she realized that the extensive drink menu didn’t include pricing, and had to ask the server how much the various cocktails and craft beers were going for. All heed the lesson of Shane and the unknowingly overpriced craft beers of a few months ago.

While we weren’t fans of the price guessing game, we will give kudos to the server for not only unbegrudgingly going to check on them for us, but also actually knowing the differences in the various beers on the menu. When Jason asked about the flavors of the different IPAs, she gave real references, not just the generic “they all taste like beer, what more do you want?” conversation we’ve had in some establishments.

Of course we ordered appetizers, because we were happily agreeing to everything … and also, well, because we’re us.

Following the food envy of the potato cups at Wil’s Grill a few weeks ago, I lobbied Shane to order those.

I’m not sure who made potato cups a thing, but I’d like to hug that person

They were good. Not overwhelmingly so, and they didn’t have the “holy crap that’s a lot of melted cheese” wow factor that the ones at Wil’s had … but I would order them again.

Cassi and Jason ordered the fried mozzarella. It was tasty. Cassi said she would rate it higher than her old favorite – although she kindly didn’t mention the restaurant where that dish resided. I’m not sure when we suddenly got so courteous.

Not on Ted’s list of any kind

Ted, in spite of voicing his disappointment that no one decided to order the eggplant stack, opted for calamari.

That’s like the exact opposite of eggplant

He then proceeded to rave about it for the rest of the time it was on the table. Apparently his sorrow over not getting to try the eggplant stack was quickly forgotten. He said he’s not really one for top five lists – a statement that seems like it could factor into a severe punishment from certain members of this group – but if he was then this calamari would be on it. It was breaded well, and the sauce was an excellent compliment to the flavor.

With an endorsement like that, of course we all tried a bit of it when offered. Shane thought it might’ve been a bit of a trick, since it seemed like if Ted was truly a fan then he shouldn’t have been willingly sharing it so much with everyone.

Regardless, we agreed, it was really good.

We also agreed not to use any unnecessary dishes, as the stack of side plates that the server brought prior to the apps sat unused off to the side of the table throughout the course of our preliminary food binge. While this was nothing new to us, the server noticed and asked “so, I take it you don’t need these then?”

Shane: No, we’re savages.

OK then.

Also not new to us, but likely an intro course for our server: Shane’s obligatory firing range of questions related to the best items on the menu. I’m happy to report she survived the assault, listing several dishes that she personally enjoys, from the mac and cheese, to the salmon, the pulled pork sandwich, the salmon salad and the brisket sandwich.

Now if she truly wanted to be a member of our group she would say that she once ordered all of those items in one sitting just so she could compare them all and come up with a final true winner. But, alas, that food challenge never happened.

Something to think about, though.

Shane followed up that interrogation by ordering nothing that she recommended, and instead asking how large the portion size was on the eggplant parmesan. Because we all know how much size matters in these instances.

Get your mind out of the gutter, kids. Especially for when I tell you that her response was that it’s giant, and Shane’s response was that he would take it.

So there’s that.

But at least she wasn’t lying. When the food arrived, I think we all had our own “holy crap, I’m supposed to eat all of that in one sitting” moment as the plates were set in front of us.

This photo doesn’t do justice to the size of the bowl. Although the sheer amount of cheese displayed here should give some indication.

Let’s just say that Shane immediately regretted letting his hunger take the reigns and ordering the extra side of onion rings to accompany his eggplant parm – ironically not because those two things usually are never ordered together as one meal, but because he could barely make it through the actual dinner portion of his meal without being overly full.

His eagerness at the question “would you like a box for those?” was very much diminished from the reaction to the questions at the beginning of our meal.

I’ll take things we didn’t need to order for $1,000, please

Speaking of side orders of things that didn’t get eaten in their entirety, I spent a few minutes dispelling the advances of Ted and his overly aggressive forcing of his wee basket of tater tots into my face. Little did I realize he was just trying to make sure they got their proper photographic documentation, and not trying to force feed them to me.

When tots attack

Me: Put your tots away, Ted, I don’t want any
Ted: If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that

The joys of being the official photographer. More on that later.

In the category of foods Ted didn’t try to shove in my face, Ted also got the smoked chicken sandwich. He said it was good. His rating system on his meal this evening pretty much went as follows: Chips just OK, sandwich and tots good, calamari excellent.

At least he kept that plate on his side of the table

Use that information as you will. In true girl fashion, I give bonus points to the tots for being contained in one of those cute miniature fry baskets – which of course we all tried to convince Ted he should just walk out of the restaurant with instead of asking for a box for his remaining tots.

He did neither. Which makes me think they weren’t as good as he said they were, and he also clearly doesn’t appreciate interesting servingware.

Jason got the baked cod sandwich. He liked it, saying that the fish was very moist. Although part of that verdict may have just been so that he could use that particular word and annoy the hell out of his fiance, who has on more than one occasion announced her dislike of it.

Ah, true love.

It looks less moist from this angle

Cassi and I both ordered the tacos – I got the grilled steak tacos with chips and salsa, while Cassi got the tilapia tacos with sweet potato fries.

Tacos take one

And two

We both said they were really good. And we agreed with the table sentiment that the server was not incorrect in her statement that no one will leave hungry, since each meal came with three large tacos, plus a generous portion of the side. We each took one of our tacos home.

In retrospect, we probably could’ve done without all of the apps at the top of the meal. I’m making that note for our eventual return visit, although I already know we won’t heed it.

Remember when I mentioned that the place closes at 9:00? Yeah, that’s not a typo. The place definitely starts emptying out after the early dinner rush, and by 8:30 we were one of only a couple tables left. I know this for certain because any table not inhabited was bring cleaned and upturned and pretty much sending a solid message that diners arriving at 8:55PM might have technically still arrived prior to closing time, but also were more likely to be served in a less than appreciative manner. Just speculation, of course, but I for one am not willing to test that theory.

Another thing we decided against testing: our ability to read a very large sign on a gate stating “NOT AN EXIT,” and the server’s patience when said sign is blatantly ignored. We watched in amusement as one couple tempted fate in this manner and was scolded openly – and righteously, in my opinion, as I mean … come on … there’s a sign. It’s pretty clear that just because the gate opens doesn’t mean they want any random person using it. The reasoning may not be clear, but the sign is … and that’s what matters.

(Keep in mind these words are coming to you from someone who a mere few paragraphs ago was vying for the pilfering of a miniature fry basket from our table. Priorities.)

But aside from the early closing time and the questionable use of lighting on both the patio and the parking areas, I would give this place a high thumbs up. You wouldn’t know it, though, because these are the only photos we attempted before giving in to the questionable lighting gods and admitting defeat.

Now whose turn is it to find the worst lighting possible?

Clearly adding the flash doesn’t help things. Now we can just better see Ted’s inability to keep his eyes open

Well this obviously isn’t working

No thanks. I’ll just stick to words to tell the story. The service was good, the portions were huge and tasty – and the patio really is a great space to spend a nice summer evening. They even brought us citronella candles for the table after we mentioned our dining experience was quickly creating a feast for various bugs as well (sitting near water + humidity = mosquitoes. It’s just science).

And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even spot this strange creature in the parking lot on your way out.

Look kids, it’s the elusive parking lot gnome

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Steph

Tinkers Creek Road Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 8/8/18: The Upper Deck, Portage Lakes

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I’m not sure how we’ve been doing this for 5 years now – with 3-4 months out of every year pretty much solely devoted to a continuous and seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect patio space – and yet this is the first time we’ve managed to end up at The Upper Deck. I mean, this place appears to have all of our criteria. Alcohol? Check. Bar food? Check. Decent sized patio? Check – and given bonus points for a view overlooking a lake. Great service? Well, OK, you got us there. You can’t win ’em all I guess.

But have I mentioned the view?

Are we on vacation?

I mean, really.

Ted was actually going to pick an Italian place in Ravenna, but once he realized Mother Nature was going to play along and give us a nice evening he called an audible and went with this place instead. Because we can sit inside and eat pasta in December. Or the next time Shane’s pick rolls around, since he claimed “dibs” on that restaurant as soon as Ted mentioned he was giving it up for this week.

It’s cutthroat around these parts.

As we pulled into the parking lot for The Upper Deck it became painfully obvious that we weren’t the only ones smart enough to realize Mother Nature only stops being a whore for so long, and that we really should drop everything to take advantage of the ability to have cocktails outdoors on a nice evening. We found a parking spot, but Ted wanted to run inside to make sure we could secure a table on the patio without having to wait until after dark to actually sit at it.

Because we never get enough of lists within this group, I proudly give to you The Top Five Reasons Not to Leave The Rest of the Group Alone in a Running Car:
1.) Someone will mention re-parking the car before Ted returns
2.) Someone will mention driving the car very close to the edge of the lake or boat ramp and leaving it there
3.) Someone will mention all of us getting out of the car, leaving it running, and hiding nearby to see Ted’s look of confusion when he returns to an empty vehicle
4.) Someone will mention all of us getting out of the car, leaving it running, hiding nearby … and all of us having to run after it as it gets stolen
5.) All of us will come close to forgetting to turn off the car and take the keys with us when Ted finally texts us that he has a table on the patio an we should just go meet him there

Yes, we’re 12. That’s been established repeatedly by this point.

Anyway.

The patio was decently busy, although not as much as one might think for an evening with little humidity and only a slight chance of rain. Ted mentioned that if the patio hadn’t worked we definitely could’ve been seated inside, since there were only about two claimed tables.

We don’t want to be friends with those people.

The server arrived with a drink for Ted before the rest of us even had a chance to look at the drink menu, which prompted us to wonder exactly how long we’d really been waiting in the car after all. Or if Ted was really a regular there and his celebrity status was showing through.

We ended up ordering beers all around, except for Cassi who got a tequila and soda. And then a Truly hard sparkling water after her mixed drink arrived with more than one fruit fly taking an alcohol bath in the glass. John Taffer would not be pleased.

Side note, that Truly almost arrived as a Truth beer, when the server didn’t hear her correctly and asked about Cassi wanting it on draft. Luckily we’re seasoned drinkers and questioned the ability to get hard sparkling water on draft at this point in its young alcoholic shelf life. Life skills, people. Don’t let anyone tell you street smarts aren’t important.

The server started off taking our app orders, and both Cassi and Jason, and Shane and myself ordered the app platters. Which, can I just add, I have a bone to pick with pretty much every other establishment out there for not giving this option more often. It’s like the ultimate slice of heaven for people who like every. single. item. on the app menu. Can’t decide between cheese sticks, onion rings and fried peppers? Now you can have a few of each! I mean, seriously, they all just get thrown into a deep fryer, it’s not like there’s some elaborate cooking skill being exuded here.

Although it does end up sounding like a boatload of food, as Cassi and Jason picked out the mac & cheese bites, soft pretzels and pizza rolls for their platter, while Shane and I chose the same offerings – just switching out the pretzels for a basket of fried peppers. Because clearly we don’t share food.

Ted: Um, I thought we were just ordering apps?
Shane: We are. Duh.

I mean, really, who are we if we aren’t ordering an entire tableful of food for four people? Come on.

Not that it mattered, because even though Ted avoided appetizers in favor of getting wings AND a meal, he was ready to order all the food anyway, so we just went back around the table after his order and put our meals in. I think the server was slightly perplexed.

Newsflash: it wouldn’t be the first time.

Our turn at the perplexed wheel came a few minutes later, when a different server stopped by and dropped off a basket of potato chips at our table. Uh, we didn’t order these? Are they complimentary? Did they have extra and they could tell we were hungry? Did our original server mistakenly tell that other server to take them to our table, and meanwhile someone else is missing out?

I bet you’re not surprised that we ate them without actually uttering any of those questions to the universe. OK maybe someone wondered aloud if they were really free. But we still ate them before asking answers of someone who could actually provide them.

And then the apps arrived, and we thought maybe someone was just watching us to see how gluttonous we could really be when surrounded by plates of food. Uh, have you met us? We eat anything and everything you put in front of us.

One half of the appetizer party at our table

The other half of the fried goodness

The pizza rolls were by far the crowd favorite out of all of the apps in our respective platters. To be honest, I think all of us were expecting a basket of knock off frozen Totino’s to appear in front of us – but these were actually little crispy roll-ups filled with pepperoni and melted cheese. So more taquito than Totino.

They should really put that on the menu. And I should really be in marketing. Oh, wait.

The second runner up was the fried pepper basket, which was seemingly never-ending in addition to being tasty. I made a comment that the ranch dip was kind of spicy, to which Cassi reminded me that I was dipping fried hot banana peppers into it, so that might be more of where the spice was coming from. Noted.

Ted got Cajun wings as his “appetizer”, and then the grilled shrimp dinner with fries and cole slaw for his dinner. Although they all arrived at the same time, so really that was just Ted’s specifications and not ones made public.

It’s like a gradual healthy to non-healthy progression

Ted said the wings were good. He thought they probably would’ve been too hot for most normal people, but to someone who only sweats when eating an actual habenero pepper then they were just fine. He also said the shrimp was grilled perfectly.

I got the Italian sub with onion rings, which was all good. The onion rings were still hot when they hit the table, and they had just the right amount of batter without being all breading. I took home half of the meal, because, well, as I’ve already mentioned, we had a crapload of food at our table already.

Oh look, lunch tomorrow

Shane got the Bleu Cheese Burger. Not to be confused with a blue cheeseburger. Grammar and enunciation is important, kids. One of those things sounds pretty tasty, while the other sounds like something you find in the back of the fridge a few months after you forgot you brought home leftovers.

Meat and fried vegetables. How can you go wrong?

There were no leftovers in this case – Shane liked his burger, as well as the onion rings – so we don’t have to worry about this burger morphing into the other in the depths of our home fridge.

Jason also went the burger route, choosing the Deck Burger with fries. He liked his as well. The photo definitely doesn’t do it justice.

There’s meat under that bun, I swear

Cassi got the portabella salad, which she was impressed with.

Served on the fanciest of disposable plates

What she was not impressed with was our service throughout the evening. This declaration may or may not have come right around the time we tried ordering another round of drinks and completely perplexed the server because we all pretty much said at once that we were ready for another (insert name of our respective drink here). Usually – because let’s be honest, we aren’t always the most polite bunch, so this happens frequently – the server just nods and says something like “so another round” or “so another one for everyone then?” But this time it was like we had just announced that the sky was turning orange and a giant monster was clamoring out of the lake toward us, because she looked equally as if she wanted to ask questions but also run screaming for her life.

Good times.

Despite that, I have to believe we’ll be back to the Upper Deck at some point. Overall our experience was positive: the patio really is pretty great, and while the food was nothing special we haven’t seen elsewhere (well, outside of the pizza rolls anyway – those alone are enough of a reason to come back. Can we just order the sampler platter with three orders of those?), the simple act of enjoying it on a tiered deck next to an outdoor bar and overlooking a lake definitely elevates the standings.

Picked by: Ted

OH – and stay tuned for next week, as Jason may get his very first WTGW pick. He’s not nearly as excited about this as everyone else.

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi’s vote for the food

Cassi’s vote for service

 

WTGW 7/25/18: Wil’s Grille & Pub, Barberton

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That feeling when someone else picks a place that has been on your list for a while but you just never got around to picking … and then it turns out to be really good.

Cassi’s choice this week was Wil’s Grill & Pub in Barberton. Not to be confused with Ted’s sushi & pub pick of a few months ago. As if. Wil’s Grill & Pub (I keep saying it because rhyming is fun, step off) a little unassuming building in that middle of the nowhere region that is partway between Barberton and Portage Lakes.

Shane, as we pull up: This has me written all over it.

Apparently tiny buildings with no windows and an uncertainly marked entryway are right up his alley. Noted.

Inside they definitely make the most of the tiny space. There were several tables, but only a few that would hold a group our size that weren’t already occupied. There appeared to be a family dinner taking place in the middle of the space, which required several tables to be pushed together. This is for sure the kind of place that I could see regulars holding their weekly family get togethers.

As we settle in at the table, Shane makes a beeline for the restroom … and returns shortly afterwards. As in, not in enough time for him to actually have used the facilities. To which we all assume means they were uninhabitable.

Nope, just that when he opened the main door he heard a tiny child’s voice announcing to the unknown visitor “I’m pooping.” That was enough for Shane to decide he could hold it for a bit longer, and to just exit quietly.

That frank openness kind of set the tone for the rest of our stay at Wil’s.

To say that the place is friendly is an understatement. From the time we sat down until …. well, the rest of the evening … we were welcomed or given a friendly “hey guys!” by pretty much every single one of the staff members. And some people who cross the line between actual staff and regulars who occasionally wander behind the bar. I’m kind of surprised the other patrons didn’t raise their hands in friendly salutes as well. It was like dining in Mayberry.

Once the server found out we were newbies, she pretty much ran through the entire menu to tell us what the best things were to order. Of course that impressed our resident interrogator, Shane, who usually takes pleasure in prodding those details out of the staff.

Of highest recommendation where the burgers, the chicken sandwich that was on special for the evening, and the weekly steak special. Which were pretty much all the items our group  had been looking at ordering already. Thanks for nothing, kind server who loves her job and her restaurant.

One choice that wasn’t too difficult was our drink order, due largely to the fact that they only have two beers on draft: Miller Lite, and Amber Bock. So basically light and dark. Bet you can’t guess who ordered which one?

Bonus points if you sensed the trick question and guessed that the girls skipped beer altogether to go with tequila and sodas.

Cassi and Jason ordered the potato skins for their app, after the server described them as “little potato cups of cheesey goodness.”

Ted, of course, was repulsed.

The server did not lie, the potato skins ended up arriving at the table looking exactly as the server described them. Read: amazing. The potatoes are cut in half instead of longways like most potato skins, and therefore do create these little cup-like devices that are perfect to fill with a copious amount of cheese. Cassi and Jason definitely enjoyed them. And will continue to enjoy them in the days following our visit, as there were far too many for even our whole table to share (well, minus the cheese-hater). They were truly enough to be a meal all on their own.

This must be what they serve in heaven

Shane and I ordered the breaded mushrooms.I guess this is our thing now, despite the fact that Shane usually has to let them cool to less than room temperature so as not to be the victim of the hot oil disaster that is biting in too soon.

Hot oil time bombs

They were just OK. Really nothing special from any other place we’ve ever ordered them from in our lifetime. To be fair, I’m not really sure what exactly would make a breaded mushroom stand out in that fashion, but it seems we’ll continue to try them until we figure that out.

Ted got the “Firey Fingers.” Which didn’t arrive on fire (boooo) but instead were basically just chicken fingers with a spicy breading and/or sauce. Thanks for the letdown. Plus when I asked Ted which substance was responsible for the nomenclature, he admitted he wasn’t really clear on that based on the description in the menu, and had to do a bit of A/B testing once the dish arrived in order to determine it.

This is probably the only dish where you could confuse chicken for jojo potatoes

It turns out it was the sauce. Which was basically a cocktail sauce with a slightly spicy hint to it. So “firey” might be a tad misleading in the adjective department, but points for trying.

I really think they should go with the whole lighting it on fire idea. I mean, that would make it stand out for sure.

For meals I was on the fence between my usual affinity for a mushroom swiss burger and the special chicken sandwich of the day consisting of chicken, Swiss, bacon and guacamole on ciabatta bread. So, again, I’d like to thank the server and her seal of “yep, both of those are outstanding, can’t go wrong either way” for assisting in my decision. Ted was actually my tipping point, when I mentioned being in a conundrum and he said to me that when he heard what was involved with the chicken sandwich it sounded to him like it was made just for me.

I’m not sure how I got such complimentary friends in my life.I mean, I hope all of you have people surrounding you who think of you when certain foods are mentioned. *tear*

Needless to say, I wasn’t unhappy with my decision. I mean, first of all … ciabatta bread. Need I say more? But I also don’t order chicken much anymore, thanks to the issue at the Hooley House years ago where the cook was apparently trying to make medium rare poultry a thing (spin the salmonella wheel and see if you’re a winner! yum!). But my risk was rewarded this time around.

Even if I only ate the bread, this would be a win

That’s a very geometrically correct salad

Ted got the strip steak special with jojo potatoes – and also the cole slaw, which the server recommended as “really good.” Upon eating it, Ted rephrased that to  “adequate.” Not exactly high praise, but I guess it’s better than “effing disgusting,” so there’s that. Maybe if he’d eaten the jojos first, since they were apparently hot enough to remove layers of skin/taste buds and he may not have been able to taste the cole slaw by that point?

Chivalrous potato wedges trying to save the meat from the oncoming knife

How can you screw up shredded vegetables?

Ted said his whole meal was “solidly good.” He wouldn’t necessarily put anything he ate in his Top 10, but he would rate it all as very good.

Hey, speaking of Top 10’s, anyone remember that time Shane ordered a steak special for under $10, and it was a way better value than the one offered *insert place we’re currently eating at here*? No? That’s weird, because he uses literally every other steak special in the universe to reminisce about that fateful day last summer when all his food dreams came true.

This is my plea to all the places we go on Wednesdays to stop advertising steak specials on that particular night of the week, unless you can beat the one offered at the Dougout.

Moving on.

Since OBVIOUSLY this steak special didn’t meet his expectations, Shane followed the server’s recommendation that the burgers were outstanding and ordered the Bourbon Burger. As did Jason. To prove they weren’t twinsies, Shane got onion rings, and Jason got fries. Cassi also went with a burger – the bacon Swiss – with sweet potato fries.

I have bread envy

Take two, change of side

Our table sure did their part to ensure the dairy industry stays in business

And just like everything else the server told us about, they were not disappointed. Shane said his burger was very good. He typically doesn’t like all the embellishments (read: healthy things like lettuce and tomato) but on this one he didn’t pick it off, and said it actually gave the burger more flavor. Both of the guys agreed that the sauce on the Bourbon burger was really good, too.

Since we ordered pretty much everything that the server had recommended to us, are you surprised when we ended up with dessert as well? Right. I also blame Ted, who was talking up how he would give up patio weather in favor of the season in which all things pumpkin return to NEOhio … which of course brought us to the deliciousness that is pumpkin love at 3 Brothers … which made us all hungry for sweets right about the time the server came over to ask if we’d saved room for dessert.

Cohoots, I tell you.

Cassi and Jason opted for the chocolate bundt cake, Ted got the brownie with ice cream, and Shane and I shared the caramel apple pie and ice cream. I have to believe that was literally one of everything on the dessert menu.

Tell me again why we don’t order dessert more often?

I mean, how can you go wrong?

A lovely little sundae, all for Ted

Ted, five minutes after finishing his dessert: I’m probably going to regret that, but damn was it good.

Spoiler alert: that entire statement was in fact truth.

But being over-full was pretty much the only regret we could muster from Wil’s. This place is definitely a favorite, with a menu almost as big as the place itself, and amazing service. Plus it’s super cheap – mine and Shane’s bill was under $60, which covered three drinks each, an app, two complete dinners and a dessert. Well, truth be told, we could’ve gotten out with a tab under $10 … thanks to a mistake by the server when she manually keyed in the amount to the credit card machine, thus resulting in our card only getting charged $5.69 instead of the correct price of $55.69. But of course we couldn’t take advantage of the situation, and told her about the mistake – for which she was super appreciative. Because, well, despite what you might think of our ratings toward some of our picks and my fluent use of the sarcastic tongue, we aren’t complete jerks. Please.

And we definitely want to come back here. Wil’s really one of those little gems you kind of wish you lived next door to, except for the rampant alcoholism and high cholesterol levels that visiting far too often would likely predispose us to. It’s great to go into a place that clearly has regulars, and be welcomed as a new group. And maybe it’s because Shane threw out the “we’re food bloggers” statement like a shield at the top of the visit, but throughout our visit we were never at a loss for people stopping by our table to say hello or check to see if we needed anything. The server even gave us a copy of the specials for the month, which was reminiscent of the lunch menus we used to bring home from grade school so we knew what days to pack our lunches, and what days we would be begging our moms to pay for a slice of cardboard covered in cheese that they tried to tell us was pizza.

If that last sentence means nothing to you then just put down the blog and walk away slowly, never mentioning how old you think we must be because of it. Seriously.

I bet Shane is glad we didn’t come on Shrimp Kabob day

Next pick: Ted

Ted

Jason

Shane

Steph

Cassi


Wil's Grille & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/11/18: TD’s Tailgate Grill, North Canton – REVISIT

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Welcome to the summer months of WTGW, where we spend copious amounts of time screwing up the stats on our blog because we’re all scouring it trying to find the last good patio we went to so that we can pay it a revisit. Yay technology!

Shane claimed he had anther good pick lined up for this week (read: super scary dive bar that we probably would be intimidated to actually eat in), but a consultation to the weather channel over the weekend reminded us that we need to take advantage of these nice weekday evenings while they still exist. And so the quest to remember a good patio began.

Sidenote to our web designer: make the patio category easier to search. Oh wait, that’s me. Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

Anyway, that’s the long-winded explanation of how we ended up at TD’s Tailgate Grill for this week’s pick. It’s been three years since our last visit, at which we were forced to grab seats at the bar since all the tables were full upon our arrival, and Ted decided he wanted friends outside of our circle so he started a conversation with a regular who kept raving about the fish tacos.

Sounds spectacular. Tell me again why it’s taken us this long to return?

This time around we were able to snag a table for the five of us – but just in the nick of time, it seems, as the rest of them filled quickly behind us. With families. Explain this one to me, if you will: since when did sports bars become the happening place for families with packs of small children? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this phenomenon. Because nothing says “family atmosphere” like a place with 27 beers on tap and a whole page of fried food on the menu.

But I digress.

The beginning of our visit was like a story I’d like to call “Shane and the Three Beers.” The first one he tried to order – Shock Top Lemon Shandy – was one he knew he liked, but I turns out they were sold out. The second one he asked for – an IPA that Ted warned him he wasn’t going to like but Shane said he wanted to try anyway – was promptly declared a big old hell no after a sample was brought to the table and he took one sip (while Ted laughed). The third one – a Bud Light, because by this point he was just really thirsty and wanted a beer – was just right. Well, more like just “this will have to do,” but you get the idea.

Meanwhile Ted and Jason were enjoying their Christmas Ale (it’s Christmas in July season again!), Cassi had a mixed drink, and I had a delicious Berry Shandy that the server recommended when she delivered the bad news about the Lemon Shandy being gone.

We ordered four apps for five people. Because of course we did. Hey, what did I say in my last post about the food truck event? We’re training for next year already. Step off the judgement train, please and thank you.

Shane and I ordered the fried pickles. Why we continue to think we should order such things after we’ve had the deliciousness that is 3 Brothers is beyond me, but whatever. Especially when these ones arrive and they’re breaded spears, not actual chips. How the hell are you supposed to eat those? These were clearly created by the same person who invented the hot oil time bombs that are breaded mushrooms. But at least the dipping sauce was really tasty.

Excuse me, our pickles are trying to act like potato wedges

Ted got the coconut shrimp, the plate of which Shane wouldn’t even touch as it grazed over his portion of the table on it’s way to Ted. All fear the shrimp allergy. Unlike our decisively tasty pickle dipping sauce, the dip for the shrimp was somewhat unremarkable.

I’ll take Things That Would Kill My Husband for $1,000 please

Cassi and Jason ordered the chips and dip, along with an order of the hot tots. Note to restaurants: can we please start portioning things correctly when it comes to dips and the vehicles by which said dips must make it into our bellies? It makes no sense to have an entire bowl of dip if there are only about 8.5 chips available to dip into it. Seems to me you’d be better served to give away a whole platter of chips – because, I mean, those seem pretty simple to make (Get potato. Peel. Slice. Throw in deep fryer.) in comparison to the variety of measuring and mixing that presumably needs to go into a homemade dip.

But what do I know.

Is there a potato shortage we aren’t aware of?

Anyway.

Ted was quite fond of the fish tacos that his new friend highly recommended on our last visit, so I latched onto the dual recommendation and went with those this time, as did Cassi. Cassi got hers with a side of the homemade ranch sauce because, well, to quote her “I will order that anytime I see it on a menu.”

Ted will dream of this plate for another three years

Ted definitely had food envy when he heard our orders – because he also remembered fondly the goodness that was a good fish taco (why did I feel dirty just typing that?) – but he said he wanted to try something new, so he got the voodoo chicken with the drunken beans as a side.

Hey, remember that time Ted ordered something that sounded like the name of an opening band at some Mardi Gras festival? Well, he probably won’t long after this visit. Let’s just say he definitely wished he’d ordered the tacos.

Not that his meal was bad, by pre-I’ve-tasted-the-fish-tacos-and-am-judging-everything-else-by-those standards. But the fact that he still remembered how good those were (did I mention it’s been three years?) combined with them literally surrounding his food on the table once mine and Cassi’s meals arrived caused a bit of a letdown in comparison. He said his sandwich was just OK. The drunken beans – which were described as spicy and probably could be so to anyone else, well, on the planet – were no match for Ted’s taste buds that can’t detect spice unless it’s in the form of a raw habanero pepper.

The name is fancy, but it’s really just something your Aunt Marge would serve up at the annual family picnic

Shane got the triple stack grilled cheese and a pound of garlic Parmesan wings. I know it sounds like I’m judging his wing order sarcastically, but it literally was a pound of wings. Because some places prefer that as a measurement to just counting them out. I can’t for the life of me figure out which is actually better on the eating side of things.

If you’re going to base it on weight, it should be served on the scale

Again, I ask about the potato shortage, because that seems like a ridiculously small amount of fries

He tried to consult me on what his opinion had been of the mango habenero wings the last time around, but Ted spoke up instead – you know, just like he had with regards to Shane’s IPA choice. Uh, boys? Should I be worried about this bromance extending past the food level? If Ted starts reminding you that you’re almost out of soap or that it might be time to replace a few pairs of socks I may have to intervene.

Where’s the bun?

Jason ordered the crunchy fish sandwich, which he liked. Cassi and I also put our stamp of approval on the fish tacos. I was super full by the end of my meal and ended up having to get a box for one of my tacos – well, after offering it to Ted, who regretted having to turn it down because he was full as well.

There are a whole bunch of jokes in that last paragraph, but I’m trying really hard to use my adult voice and not point them out.

Anyway.

So probably the biggest downfall we can give TD’s this time around was that the service was a bit sketch. I mean, our server was super nice, and we definitely appreciate that. The issue was that she wasn’t around much … literally and figuratively. When we did see her we about pounced on her to try and order more drinks, which then backfired on us because she would get so flustered she would forget one or more of them. Case in point, when we ordered another round for the table, and then she returned with three drinks. There’s five of us. That’s like Math 101. I’m so glad we’re trusting you with our credit cards at the end of the evening.

And while the tables around us did fill up, we didn’t necessarily see her waiting on all of them as well as us, so I can’t buy the “give her a break, I’m sure she was super busy” reasoning that I’m sure half of you are saying to your screens right now. Also, one walk to the restroom was all it took to realize that we weren’t the only ones with the “it’s super nice out, let’s find a patio” thought bubbles over our heads this evening. The inside of the place may as well have turned out the lights and hung up the closed sign. Definitely a change from three years ago.

Hey, remember when we all said we were full after our dinners? Just kidding! It seems this group will find room for dessert these days, especially when it comes in the form of fried cookie dough balls. Yes, you read that right. Cookie dough, rolled into little balls, and deep fried. Listen, I don’t care if you have to unbutton your jeans in public just to breathe, if you explain that it’s due to this little slice of heaven in a basket then all is forgiven. We got an order (and by we of course I mean me, Shane and Ted, because, well, refer back a few paragraphs to our newfound coupledom), as did Cassi and Jason. And for a brief moment, everyone forgot that they couldn’t possibly eat another bite of their real meals like five minutes previously.

I think we each needed our own basket. For dinner.

Move over fish tacos, these are the best thing on the menu. Hands down.

Four of us, as we walk out to the car: Man, I’m really stuffed now. Like the cookie dough was good, but it really put me over the top.
Shane: Oooh, look, a Dairy Queen.

Seriously?

Next pick: Cassi

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph

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

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