WTGW 4/19/17: REVISIT – Blue Willow Lounge, Macedonia

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It’s another “this adventure could’ve gone a totally different way” week here, as Shane originally tried to take us back to PatDees in Northfield for a revisit, but was thwarted by a road closure. Damn you ODOT!

So in a literal last second change up, here we are at the Blue Willow Lounge.

This little hidden gem is tucked away behind a gas station on a slightly-off-the-beaten-path section of Rt 82 (aka not in the land of huge strip plazas a few miles to the west) in Macedonia. Although we noticed since our last visit that the road to access the Blue Willow is now an access street to the highway ramp that was recently moved – so maybe they’re getting a little more attention these days.

Let’s hope so, because it’s well deserved.

We were genuinely surprised at how good this place was the first time we went. After Shane’s claim that the place is the “oldest bar in Macedonia” – something none of us have ever been able to substantiate, by the way – I remember being more than a little concerned for what we might be getting ourselves into. But the Blue Willow ended up having some of the best burgers we’ve ever tasted in our years of WTGW adventures, a fun atmosphere, and outstanding service (especially considering there was essentially one person manning both the bar and the tables) from a server who called Ted a pussy for downsizing his Christmas Ale in the second round.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record from last week, tell me again why we haven’t been back here more often?

Right.

We were happy to hear that Wednesdays are still $5.95 burger nights at the Blue Willow. Although it seems to have morphed from “build your own burger night” to “just pick a burger and we’ll charge you $5.95 for it night.” Maybe we were still living 2.5 years in the past, because we thought we heard a “build your own” option in there when the server was explaining it … but the list of toppings to build from seemed to be invisible on our menus. After flipping it over about 400 times, Ted finally broke down and asked where the toppings were, and the server just kind of gave him the “well, there’s no list, just, you know, whatever you want on your burger.”

Oh, OK, so just pick something that sounds good on a burger and they’ll let you know they have it, then? Perfect. Sounds great. It’s like 20 questions with condiments.

But it didn’t deter us – because, well, “burgers” seems to be a theme for us now. I mean, set aside the fact that it’s the daily special at Blue Willow, between this week and last week we seem to have turned WTGW into a tour of all the burger places we really like but haven’t been back to in ages.

Note to self: I gotta change it up with my next pick.

Anyway.

Ted got the Cajun burger – minus cheese, of course, but with lettuce and tomato. Shane also got the Cajun burger, minus lettuce and tomato – but WITH cheese.

There were more chips on that plate before I took this picture, Honest.

Ignore the crumbs. You’d think we hadn’t eaten for days or that I had to drive across the state to fetch my camera.

They’re like yin and yang, those two. This is why they’re friends.

Not wanting to copy the bromance brothers, I decided to challenge the “build your own” philosophy, with lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese and mushrooms. I think I asked for each of those items as a question, thinking at any moment she could tell me that wasn’t one of the nonexistent options.

You can’t see the toppings, but they’re there.

We all also got the homemade chips, since they were free and the fries were $1.00 more. Ironically, looking back on our first visit, it was the fries that were free and the chips that were $1.00 more. Since they’re both made from potatoes, I’m a little perplexed at the inflationary costs of one versus the other, but whatever.

Because clearly he didn’t trust the size of these burgers like he did Windsor Pub, Ted also got 12 of the Thai wings. Better to be safe than sorry, I guess.

A full meal as an appetizer. Glad to see we’re back to normal around here.

Shane and I also got breaded mushrooms. Of which Shane actually asked me before he ordered them “hey, would you eat some of these if I get them.”

Please. It’s like he hardly knows me.

They’re vegetables, so they’re still considered healthy, right?

We noticed that the food seemed to take a particularly long time to come out after we ordered. Especially considering the place wasn’t by any means packed. I mean, it should be noted that Shane continuously made the “our food is taking FOREVER” observation whilst very hungry, so take that with a grain of salt. But even those of us not about to eat our own arms did think it was a longer than usual wait time.

And when our meals finally did arrive, it was unceremoniously all at once. So much for that whole “appetizer” concept, I guess.

Now, granted there was only one server/bartender working the whole place – the large bar area (which was always very full, almost every seat taken), as well as the tables nearby (not quite as full, but just by location alone still a hassle to have to walk out from behind the bar to check on). But I don’t think it was her fault the food took a while. She was very good, coming out from behind the bar several times to check on us and even telling us to yell at her or do whatever if we needed her attention. But to be brutally honest – and I even said this the last time we were there, years ago – they could really use two people working there on any given night. I mean, the night we were there the bar was pretty full but there were only a few people seated at the tables – I couldn’t imagine if all the tables were full and there was only one person trying to do everything. Again, our server was amazing … but for her sake I wish they would staff a little better.

*exiting soapbox now*

I’m happy to say that the burgers were still as good as we remembered. They’re cooked to order, and very juicy. Shane was a bit upset that they “didn’t crumble like Windsor Pub’s,” – but regardless they still passed his test.

Now that’s a handful of meat.
Wait, what?

Word of warning, they might look small when you first see them on the plate, but they’re actually really thick. They’re tall and thick, not short and flat.

File that under: words I never thought I would utter until I started composing a food blog. Carry on.

I also really liked the homemade chips. They didn’t indicate on the menu that they were homemade, so I was expecting a handful of Lay’s or something similar on my plate with my burger – which made these a nice surprise. They were crunchy but not greasy. The only thing that would’ve made them more perfect is a french onion dip on the side. But if you add that then they would probably not be the “free side” anymore … and the cycle continues. You’re welcome, French fries.

Shane said he wished he would’ve gotten the Willow Classic burger instead of the Cajun. Once he bit into this burger he remembered that wasn’t the same one he got last time and that he wished he’d gotten that one again. But then again he also said he really didn’t taste his food since he was so hungry, so there’s that.

Ted really liked the Thai wings, although with the burger too he only ate about 10 of the 12. For shame. He said his burger was cooked well, but it didn’t really taste Cajun-y. I think he was looking for more of a blackened and seasoned taste. Although he skipped the pepper jack cheese, and we all know that makes a cajun dish, right?

If we have a complaint with the Blue Willow Lounge, it’s that the beer list is a little lacking. Case in point: Ted asked about dark beers … and ended up with a Fat Tire. So I guess “amber” is considered dark in these parts. Noted. Likewise, I asked about ciders, and the only option was Angry Orchard. Which, OK, sure, I guess I should just be happy they at least had something … but I like options, I guess. I’m a girl. Sue me.

Shane went with a rum and diet, and was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t as light in color as it was last week. Or as cheap.

I do appreciate that the server brought us cold glasses with my cider and Ted’s bottled beer. We gave them back to her, though. I mean, we drink out of bottles. We’re not classy folk.

Shane had three rum and diets, and when she came over to ask if he wanted another he answered “no, I’m driving.”

Me: Usually the answer to that is “well, I’m driving, so yes.” What’s happened to us?

All said and done, mine and Shane’s bill for the night was $38. Not too shabby for an app, two fairly large burgers with sides of chips, two ciders and three mixed drinks. In a stroke of irony, the mixed drinks were actually only .50 more than my bottled cider. Lesson learned there, I guess. For the next revisit, of course.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Ted

Steph

Shane

Blue Willow Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 4/12/17: REVISIT – Windsor Pub, Akron

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Aren’t you glad we started allowing revisits for our WTGW adventures? I know we are, because without that option I have a feeling this week’s pick could’ve taken a much different turn.

When we first got in the car to head out for WTGW, Ted announced that he was to finally going to pick Creo’s – otherwise known as “the new Gus’ Chalet” that we’ve been joking about him subjecting us to ever since it (re)opened like a year or so ago.

Great, get us in the car where we can’t run away and then make that announcement. Sneaky move, Ted.

He did allow for a fallback, though – he said his plan was to pull up to the restaurant, go peek inside to see how it looked (i.e. how many people over 70 were in attendance) and then opt out if need be. Especially if any of these people looked to be eating what we still think could’ve only been tarter sauce on triangles of bread.

Turns out we were overthinking things. As we approached Creo’s and saw literally one lonely car parked in the parking lot (OK, maybe two cars, if you count one that was parked a little ways away and we all agreed could plausibly belong to a worker) … well, Ted just kept driving. He didn’t even get to try his duck-in-and-count-heads-and-creepy-food plan, since we didn’t even pull in the lot.

And honestly none of us – Ted included – were too upset, since the backup plan was to just continue straight on down Tallmadge Ave to revisit an old favorite of ours, the Windsor Pub.

The last time we were here was just over two years ago, and the main things we retained about this place were 1) they had excellent burgers that were very filling, and 2) the heavy pour from the bartenders caused Shane to drink the equivalent of about two bottles of rum – for like $10.

Tell me why we don’t come back here more often?

I mean, the place certainly isn’t fancy, but it’s damn good. And I’m pleased to say that it seems they replaced the seat cushions since our last visit, so we weren’t fighting for booth space with the interior springwork this time around. Not that it would’ve sent us running for the door or anything, but it’s nice to see they’ve upgraded a bit.

Ted was about to start off the evening by ordering six wings to munch on before his burger arrived, until I reminded him of our last visit and how we ordered ALL THE APPS because we were clearly new and unprepared for the sheer size of the burgers. I mean, the server pretty much laughed in our faces when she heard the insane amount of food we were ordering. And we all left feeling like we were going to explode … well, except Shane, who was too sloshed on rum to really care what else was in his stomach that visit.

So, yeah, no apps this time around. See, we do pay attention. Sometimes.

Since we all had envy of Shane’s complete drunkenness for less than the price of a pizza at that last visit, this time around it was mixed drinks for everyone at our table. Jack and coke for Ted, Rum and diet for Shane and Captain and ginger ale for me.

Clearly we like to play Russian roulette on who will get us home from these adventures. If anyone affiliated with the police is reading this, please don’t search our plate numbers. We’ll call an Uber if we need to. Honest.

The pictures on this post are going to be a bit boring this week, since all three of us ordered the same thing: the Windsor burger, which comes with onions, mushrooms, cheese and mayo. I got the junior while the guys got the full 3/4 lb size. Shane got onion rings with his, Ted and I went with the potato wedges.

That’s a lot of meat.
(That’s what she said)

Interestingly, we all had different styles of eating the same burger. I cut mine in half (using Shane’s knife, as apparently junior burger eaters can’t be trusted with sharp objects), Shane went with quarters, and Ted just picked up the damn thing and ate it whole. Guess who needed the most napkins?

I’m happy to report the burgers are still as delicious as we remembered them to be. Even though they don’t ask anyone how they want their burger cooked, it doesn’t matter because whatever way they do these is perfect. Like, when another restaurant asks how I want my burger cooked, I’m tempted to answer “Windsor.” They’re crumbly without being dry, flavorful without being overly seasoned, and done enough without being overcooked.

Perfection. Seriously.

I love how the lighting gives all of our photos a red tint. It’s like we live in an Instagram filter.

Of course, as with anything good, there always has to be some way to ruin it … and at the Windsor Pub that seems to be what they call the Windsor Challenge. This involves eating three of the regular sized burgers we ordered stacked on top of one another. So basically if you took all the food at our table, upsized my burger to full size, and ate it all yourself. In 30 minutes.

Sounds delightful, no?

Yeah, surprisingly no one at our table wanted to try it. Shocking, I know.

The big prize for doing so is that your burger(s) are free if you finish the meal in 30 minutes. OK. I mean, let’s just be honest here, with the prices of things at the Windsor Pub, how much are you actually saving by doing this? Certainly not your arteries or cholesterol levels. Because, really, a junior Windsor burger is $4.99. The regular one is like $6.99. That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than open heart surgery, but I understand some people like to live dangerously. Rock on.

It maybe should be renamed the “Spin the Wheel of High Cholesterol” challenge

Speaking of prices, the burgers and mixed drinks aren’t the only things you get a lot of bang for your buck on. While we didn’t look at much else on the menu thanks to our fond memories of the burgers (that sounds weirder than it is, trust me), Shane pointed out a sign on the wall that the special for the evening was country fried steak with mashed potatoes and green beans … for $5.75.

So there’s that.

When it was all said and done, our entire bill for the evening was $42 for two people. That was for two meals and SEVEN tall mixed drinks. So like 1/8 of a cow and four bottles of liquor.

I mean, come on.

We were laughing later when we looked closer at the receipt and realized it was only $1.00 more for each drink than it was to sub in onion rings or potato wedges instead of chips as the sides with our burgers ($3.25 for drinks vs $2.25 for the “side”).

Best $3.25 you’ve ever spent

Are they making the liquor in the back room themselves? Because this can’t be economical for them.

Our server was amazing. He was working behind the bar along with one other person, but he still always found time to come over to our booth and check on us … or give us extra time and come back a million times before we placed our orders because the girl in the group couldn’t get her crap together and decide what she wanted. Whatevs. Point is, we never had empty glasses for long, and he never seemed unhappy about having to walk over the few extra steps from behind the bar to chat with us.

Maybe Hooley House should send their servers here for training? Just a thought.

I have to believe the Windsor Pub will always be one of our favorites. Despite the somewhat sketch location (Tallmadge Ave = Strip Club Alley of Eastern Akron) it’s worth the trip if you’ve never been. Just maybe bring a designated driver, especially if you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your pocket and intend to spend more than $10 on bar drinks.

You always know it’s been a good night when either we start doing shots, or we’re out later than we planned to be. No shots this time around (mainly because we had enough in our glasses, thanks) – but we did manage to head out the door later than we have in the past few weeks.

Shane: “I can’t believe we stayed out until 9:16.”
Me: “I can’t believe we’re old enough to say that.”

On another note, it’s worth mentioning that the same two cars were still parked at Creo’s when we went by on again on our way home. Like two and a half hours after our first drive-by.

Like I said, could’ve been a whole different evening.

Ted

Steph

Should I be upset that my husband wanted his picture with Ted and not me? But aren’t they adorable?

Picked by: Ted
Original pick by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Windsor Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/7/16: Tim’s Pizzeria & Pub, Cuyahoga Falls

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Wait, what’s this, two places in a row in our own backyard we haven’t been to yet? It’s like Christmas.

Also, we seem to be on an Italian kick now. First two weeks of Irish, now our second week of Italian. We seem to like themes all of a sudden.

Truth be told, unlike last week’s pick, we’ve probably driven past Tim’s Pizzeria about 4 billion times, and Shane has usually been the one to exclaim that eventually he was going to pick it. But it also looks just a tad on the sketchy side from the outside, so he was a little wary. I mean, it kind of looks like a house.

Although if you’ve been reading this blog then you know that’s actually right up Shane’s alley. And you also know that that’s burned us in the past (*ahem* that place in Solon *ahem*) so he has to be careful not to become labeled as the guy who picks crappy house diners.

Good thing this pick was nothing like that.

Our group was back to a threesome this week, as Amanda wasn’t feeling well and Jerrid decided to sit this week out. Welcome to winter and cold season in NEOhio.

We started out with dark beers for Shane and Ted – Guinness and Breckenridge Vanilla Porter – and Angry Orchard for me. There’s not a huge beer selection at Tim’s. But Shane loved the glasses, which seemed to spin on the table, so I guess that makes up for it?

Yes, he’s 12.

The place is known for its pizza. Bet you couldn’t guess that from the name, right? So of course pizza connoisseur Shane had to try that. But only after quizzing the server on the eggplant parm and if it was better than the specialty pizza he had in mind to order – the stuffed banana pepper pizza. She said both choices were good, but the pizza was one of their unique specialties.

Sold.

He also got calamari as an app. Because, Shane.

if it's on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

if it’s on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

I stuck to the same pattern as last week, rigatoni. But this time it was baked, which is really just code for “loaded with cheese.”

You’re speaking my language, Tim’s.

Plus I just like to gross Ted.

It also came with a bowl-of-cheese-they-call-a-salad (I’m pretty sure I could get used to these Italian places and their definition of healthy foods) and bread.

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

And I ordered an app of fried mushrooms. Because, me. And also because they were $2.95. I mean, how can you not?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, Ted got a little smorgasbord all for himself. He said he wanted to try a bunch of different things and couldn’t decide between them.

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

So he got a 4-cut pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. And the ravioli. And to his credit, he originally only wanted to order six of the garlic hot wings (because we’ve already established that someone has to order wings – I mean, why stop the streak now?) but the server told him that they only come in orders of 10. So he was like what the hell, go with it.

Such a team player.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Our server also got huge props, as we were doing our usual joking with Ted about his dislike of cheese, and the server piped in and offered to make his pizza without it. Wait, what? You can do that? Is it still technically a pizza without cheese?

So that's what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It's so ... naked.

So that’s what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It’s so … naked.

I’m so confused.

But Ted was super happy, so that’s all that matters.

The calamari was good, just not very flavorful. The mushrooms ended up being the big hit of the appetizer portion of the meal, though. I mean, Shane even really liked them – and he normally likes mushrooms the least of any fried veggie.

Deep fried deliciousness

Deep fried deliciousness

Ted said his pizza was good. And so were the wings. But the ravioli as just OK, he said it kinda tasted store bought. Probably could’ve done without that part of his meal, if he had to pick one thing on his whole side of the table to get rid of.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

Shane was in love with his stuffed banana pepper pizza. Like so in love that I almost got jealous. He said it was a great concept, definitely unique and super tasty. The crust was good, light but crispy. And the peppers were spicy … so, you know it’s a good thing he added more crushed red pepper before he even tasted it.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

The extra red peppers were actually Ted’s suggestion. Clearly he cares a lot about Shane.

The baked rigatoni was delicious. Worlds above last week’s pasta dish. It had good sauce and flavor, wasn’t over cooked – and the crap-ton of cheese certainly didn’t suck either. In fact, word of warning, I burned my tongue on the very first bite, as I couldn’t wait to dig in and forgot about all the heat that lives under that layer of cheese. But honestly I didn’t care. It was too delicious to wait.

This is like heaven

This is like heaven

Overall, Tim’s is a great spot. It had a really good atmosphere, they were playing fun older music – and it seemed like the crowd were a mix of a lot of regulars and a few newbies like us, but yet no one made us feel like we didn’t belong there. We also saw lots of carry out orders being picked up, so that’s something I think we all filed away for later use. We also noticed a sign on the wall that they’ll be having a Christmas party in a few weeks – on a Wednesday, no less, so that seems like it was made for us. We might have to hijack that WTGW pick and come back in for that one. But even if not then, we’ll definitely be back.

I mean, you can only keep Shane away from his new love for so long, right?

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Tim's Pizzeria & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 6/29/16: Revisit – The Big Dog, Ravenna

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Once upon a time, we went to a place in Ravenna with an amazing patio and insanely cheap wings on Wednesday nights. And ever since that time we’ve been saying we need to go back to this establishment at some point to see if it’s really still that good, or if maybe the stars just aligned and we happened to visit on a good night, or if maybe we all just drank way too many beers that particular night and beer-googled ourselves a fantastic evening.

You laugh, but I think that happens far more than we realize at the time.

Fast forward to a few months ago, in the midst of our professional-and-medically-induced hiatus, when we received a comment on the blog from Greg, a gentleman who is affiliated with The Big Dog in Ravenna. He read our review from a few years back, and invited us to return to see some of the changes they’ve made (namely a brighter, less scary interior and a more open bar area on the patio – which was already pretty great to begin with). And hence the idea came that we should dedicate at least a few WTGW trips to revisiting those that we once put at the top of the favorites list, to see if they’re still deserving of the placement.

And so, on a gorgeous summer Wednesday evening, we figured why not return to what we’ve always considered to be one of the best patio picks of all WTGW time?

Exactly.

Plus Greg was kind enough to confirm for us that they do indeed still have the 10 cent wings on Wednesdays, so as you can imagine it didn’t take much arm twisting to get us back on the road to Ravenna.

Once we arrived, we found the parking lot still as busy as it had been that day we first visited – and although we still didn’t have trouble finding an open spot, we were still slightly nervous to walk onto the patio in search of a table, as we figured it would be packed.  But luck was on our side, and we easily spotted a table for three off in the corner.

Side note: oddly enough, all of our food runners throughout the night would have a more difficult time located said table than we did finding it in the first place. But whatevs.

So Greg wasn’t lying – the outdoor bar is definitely larger and more open. It’s less like you’re walking up to the side of a shed to order your food and drinks, and more like a real bar. With TVs and everything. *gasp* Although we noticed later – like as the sun started to set later – that they still haven’t installed any more lighting on the patio. So lucky for us it doesn’t get dark in this part of the world until like 10PM at this time of year … but not sure how we feel about returning toward the end of the summer when that time frame starts to move forward considerably.

But back to the plus side – bigger bar means better beer selection, so Ted didn’t have to suffer through another Miller Lite with his wings this time around. Horray! They still have the rule of needing to purchase one beer for every 10 wings ordered in order to get the 10 cent price on Wednesdays … which, again, twist our arms. Hell, we’ll even buy beers when we aren’t ordering more wings!

Just call us rebels.

So this time around Ted opted for Loginitos IPA on draft. And Shane and I got tall cans of Summer Shandy.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Ted not drinking Miller Lite

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Summer at its best

Speaking of rules. So we noticed that they have them printed on a card on the table – primarily that none of the daily food specials are available to-go. And by to-go, they mean no food leaves the premises. Period. So no doggie bags. In fact, they even claim that taking home leftover wings on Wednesdays will get you banned for life. Wait, what? That’s kind of harsh.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

The fine print. Literally.

But regardless, we weren’t in the mood to test it – because, well, if we haven’t mentioned before, we actually like this place.

OK, so this post could also be titled “the time three people went out to dinner and ended up with 70 wings at their table.” Stop laughing. I mean, have you not learned that we like food yet? Especially when Hungry Shane is out with us, and there’s a hella long wait for food. Now granted we were prepared for the wait – both in the comments from Greg on this blog, and also in the signage on the table (the same place that warned us of banishment if we took said wings home). So Shane’s first wings hadn’t even arrived yet, and he already decided we (ahem, HE) should order 20 more.

Keep in mind he had ordered 20 the first time. And I got 10. And Ted got 20. So, yeah, it’s logical that we needed 20 more. Right.

Oh yeah, and a basket of fries and an order of pepper jack bites. Because, more food. Jesus. I think I gained 10 pounds just typing all that out again. We seriously are tempting the fates of the cholesterol gods every single time we go out on a Wednesday night.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Fried food. Because the wings weren’t enough.

So here’s what we got: Shane’s original wing order was 10 salt & vinegar, and 10 dry rub ranch; my 10 were the chipotle chili pepper; and Ted’s were 10 mango habenero and 10 spicy garlic. And then the additional 20 were 10 Jamaican Jerk and 10 sweet red chili.

Got all that?

At least the two apps – fries and cheese bites – came out way before any of the wings. Which pacified Hungry Shane for a bit. But, I mean, not enough that he didn’t still go order the extra 20 wings after that food was gone and he continued to wait for his original order.

At least he tried to rationalize it with “what’s the worst that happens? We only eat 4 wings out of the 20? And we’re out what, $1.60?”

Well, when you put it that way … I mean, we’ll just try not to think of the starving children in Africa as we toss baskets of perfectly good wings into the trash and all. No biggie.

As far as the apps go, the cheese bites were good, but I thought the fries could’ve used some salt. And before anyone gets lippy on me – yes, I looked on the table. And no there was none available.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Also known as: the only thing that kept Shane from starving to death

Now if I’d have held out – or, rather, wrestled some of the fries away from Hungry Shane’s grip and saved them for about another hour – I could’ve found some salt when Shane’s wings finally arrived at the table. We were all slightly surprised to discover that the salt & vinegar wings were apparently “some assembly requried” – as they arrived with about 30 packets of salt, and a little plastic cup of vinegar. Which is odd enough in itself, but even more so when we re-consulted the menu and found those wing were supposed to be a dry rub. Hmm.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Salt & Vinegar wings

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Wing chef Shane in action

Ironically, though, those wings turned out to be one of the best we ordered, at least from the first batch of 50 that hit our table. The other winners were Ted’s mango habenero, which turned out to me more sweet than hot. If you order that same flavor in other places like BW3 or Quaker Steak, you can’t feel your mouth after a few. At least that’s what I’ve been told – because I’ve never had one at one of those joints. Call me crazy, but I don’t care for the feeling of sweating just from ingesting seasoning. But I tried a few of Ted’s, and could eat them easily – so you know there wasn’t much heat to them at all. Not that that’s a bad thing – just different from other places, and something to keep in mind when ordering.

That being said, my original 10 wings (chipotle) were probably the spiciest of the bunch, but the odd thing was that you didn’t necessarily taste the heat as you were eating them. They kind of tasted burnt. But then afterwards your mouth kinda warmed up. It’s like starting out with a little campfire, which you can manage, and then suddenly some a-hole walks past and pours a gallon of gasoline over top of it. And then, poof, it’s a forest fire.

As far as the other flavors, Ted said the spicy garlic weren’t really spicy, just garlicky. But he still liked them. And Shane’s dry rub ranch was not a big hit.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Wonder what kind those are?

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Dry ranch wings. Or just dry wings. Whatevs

Ironically the last two batches we ordered were perhaps the biggest winners of the night, at least to Ted and I. They had just the right amount of heat, and great flavor. Ted ranked all the wings he tried as Jamaican jerk first, then garlic, then mango and then the sweet chili. I liked the sweet hot chili best, then the mango and then the jerk.

Shane still claimed that he liked the salt & vinegar best … but who knows if he’ll put them together the same way next time? It will be a gamble.

We all agreed that while some of the flavors were good, none of them really had any heat. Ted said the next time he would just ask for the spiciest ones on the menu and then tell them to make them twice as hot.

As far as the award for “majority of wings that could’ve been sent to African children but instead ended up in the trash” – well, that went to the chipotle. I stopped eating them when I realized we had 20 more wings coming, and since I wasn’t really crazy about these ones then I might as well save my appetite for ones that I might like better. Sometimes I’m a smart cookie like that.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Sorry chipotle wings – you were not our winner tonight

But even so, we were too full to finish them all. Shane commented that Wednesdays are the time to come try all the different flavors – because, really, for 10 cents each it does offer a good chance to experiment, if you can stand the wait. Although then he said that once he found the ones he really liked his plan would be to just order “like, a million of those” – and hence really make the special go further. He’s economical like that, that one.

Which is what makes The Big Dog still one of our favorite WTGW picks. Aside from the gorgeous, spacious patio area – you never leave this place hungry. In fact, I think Shane was about to explode by the time the final 20 wings arrived, and then even more so after he attempted to eat a few of each of them. And the bills were insanely cheap. Ted paid $12 for 20 wings and two draft IPAs. Shane and I had 50 wings, six tall cans of Summer Shandy, and two apps – and our bill was $36.

$36.

For real? I mean, that’s like the cost of one entree and a drink at our last week’s pick.

And that’s why we definitely still wish we lived closer (or they would open another location closer to us, hint hint) so we could come more often. I mean, although this blog may just end up being called “What Wings Did We Order Wednesdays” because I have a feeling we would give up on other places and just end up visiting here about every Wednesday. But we definitely would like to try visiting on another evening, too, since we noticed they have great specials on about every night of the week – $3 half pound burgers on Fridays, $2.50 for three sliders on Tuesdays, $4 Philly cheesesteaks on Saturdays, etc. How can you go wrong? Well, I mean, other than maybe gaining about 50 pounds and perhaps clogging a few arteries … but when has that ever stopped us before. Technicalities.

Are we glad we revisited? Of course (although Shane’s stomach may have not shared that opinion with us the next morning – but that’s his fault, not the establishment’s. Ha)

And will we return again? A resounding yes.

Original visit: 9/3/14

Big Dog Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 2/17/16: Joey’s Kendal Tavern, Massillon

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There are times in your life that you drive 40 minutes for a good burger. This, my friends, would be one of them.

So, I should point out that in reading reviews before picking Joey’s Kendal Tavern this week, I noticed two themes: it’s a great little hometown bar, and they have fantastic burgers.

Check and check.

It’s like someone gift wrapped a WTGW pick for our group. Well, except for the whole my-commute-to-work-downtown-is-actually-shorter-than-the-drive-here thing … but whatever. Have hunger, will travel. That’s kind of one of our unspoken mottos.

So tonight we were a few men down, thanks to a freak garbage disposal accident that put Amanda and Jerrid in kitchen cleanup mode for the evening. Boo. But rest assured the remaining three of us still managed to eat like we were a party of five tonight, so there’s that.

When you walk into Kendal’s you have to make a quick decision about which side of the restaurant you want to sit on. There’s one side with a bar and TVs, and another side with a bunch of tables and no TVs – with a giant wall right smack in between the areas. Hmm. Bet you can’t guess which side we picked, right? It’s like letting a kid chose between sitting in the living room and watching cartoons while eating dinner, or climbing up to the formal adult dining table and listening to the folks talk about work and stock prospects.

In fact, I think that – if I were to go all “Bar Rescue” on this place for just a moment – they would actually be better served to just take that giant wall out and open up the entire space into just one big room, so that way the dining area wasn’t so lonely and quiet. But then again that dividing wall probably holds up the entire upstairs … so maybe they’re being smart there after all.

Anyway.

Kendal’s claims to be Massillon’s oldest bar. Which, when you look around the place, you can totally buy that statement. The paint and wallpaper are a bit outdated, there’s definitely nothing fancy about the place, and it very much has the “old bar” stale smell. Not that any of those are necessarily a bad thing – just observations.

Also, there’s no draft beer. Interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a bar that didn’t have at least two or three staples on tap. I didn’t venture over to the cooler to check out the bottle selection, and instead just went with a basic Miller Lite – which fortunately they did have. Shane went his usual liquor route, rum & diet. Also available.

Meanwhile, Ted asked for the darkest beer they had in bottles. And was served a beer that literally said “dark” on the label.

Well, we have "dark" ... it's, um, dark ...

Well, we have “dark” … it’s, um, dark …

At least the marketing doesn’t lie on this one. After all the descriptions like “made with fresh cinnamon and vanilla with hints of peanut butter and coffee” that we’ve read on beer menus over the years (which, by the way, are complete lies – a beer like that one mentioned above sounds delicious, but really would come out tasting like lima beans and cigarette smoke. You know I’m right. And you’re all thinking of the one beer that duped you in the past. Don’t lie.) – it was a bit refreshing to just have one call it like it is.

Ted’s beer order also got the owners attention, and  – in true Ted fashion – made us a new friend for the evening. The owner – whose name is Joey, I presume – sat at the end of the bar the entire time we were there … but not in a creepy, “I’m-going-to-hover-over-my-employees-and-customers-until-they-think-I-might-be-a-stalker-that-follows-them-home” kind of way. It was more of a take-pride-in-your-establishment-and-truly-care-how-everyone’s-experience-is kind of thing. Every now and then throughout the course of the evening he would overhear part of a conversation and make a comment, or bellow over to ask us how our food was.

And he definitely knew his regulars, of which there were a few who wandered in over the course of the evening. My personal favorite was the guy who walked in, chatted with the owner for a second and barely had his coat off before the bartender opened a can of beer and set in on the bar in front of him.

Shane: Now that’s a regular.
Bartender: Yeah, I just hope as I open that beer he hasn’t changed his mind about his favorite beverage.
Me: Isn’t that the unspoken rule of being a regular, you aren’t allowed to switch without permission?

The bartender got our attention right away with the words “the cheese sticks are handmade.” Yes, we’re easy like that. So naturally Shane and I ordered them as an app – and we were not disappointed. They were delicious. You could definitely could tell they were made fresh, not just string cheese dipped in bread crumbs and frozen until time for deep frying.

Ted:I had no idea until this moment that that’s how cheese sticks are made.

See, that’s what happens when you hate cheese, people. Blasphemy.

There was one more there before I took this photo. Sir Grabby Hands strikes again.

There was one more there before I took this photo. Sir Grabby Hands strikes again.

So, since Joey’s is known for their burgers, of course that’s what we ordered. Yes, we follow the crowd well, thank you. And yes, there’s a reason why people say this about the place.

I got the mushroom Swiss burger with fries. Shane got the Joey burger – which is really the same as my burger but with added onions and two cheeses (Shane chose pepper jack and provolone) instead of one – and also which illicited a “good choice” from the owner at the end of the bar.I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that burger is named after him. Just a thought.

Two cheeses and a burger, please

Two cheeses and a burger, please

There's a burger under all that cheese. Really.

There’s a burger under all that cheese. Really.

Shane completed his order with six of the garlic parm dry rub wings – but only after Ted and I balked that a burger was really ALL the food he was going to order?? I mean, really? Who is this guy?

Very fancy for what basically amounts to tiny fried chicken.

Very fancy for what basically amounts to tiny fried chicken.

Truthfully Ted had every right to give Shane a hard time … after he ordered both a spicy cajun burger (no cheese, of course) AND a full pork chop dinner, which included rice and asparagus as well as a large chop. He could’ve added a second chop for only $4, but decided to hold off on that since … well … you know, he also ordered another entire meal.

Me: so that means one of those meals is technically your appetizer, then, right?

Our bartender just laughed.

All the burgers were delicious. They are definitely freshly made, cooked to order on a nice slightly toasted bun. The “medium” 10 oz patty was still slightly pink inside, which of course made Shane happier than, well, than most people should ever actually get about food. He was even making yummy noises. Usually that’s just Ted’s department.

Ted said that, for being advertised as a “cajun” burger, he did think his could’ve been seasoned a bit better – and that even that giant green hot pepper on the top of it didn’t help the heat much.

Two meals, straight up

Two meals, straight up

BTW, I had to ask WTF that pepper was, because a) you don’t typically see burgers with green coloring on top, and b) from my seat it kind of looked like a large slice of green cheese. Which being that Ted hates cheese – and also that green cheese is, well, disgusting, I was a little intrigued. And was rather relieved to hear it was just a pepper.

But in any case, he said it was still tasty. He actually ended up taking the last few bites home in a box (at the owner’s insistence, who kept referring to it as “tomorrow’s breakfast”) because, well, ordering a pork chop dinner as an appetizer will kind of have that effect, I guess.

Although he did mention on the way home that if he had just had the dinner and not the burger, he would probably still be hungry. So I guess it all worked out then.

The pork chop looks a little less impressive without all the side dishes.

The pork chop looks a little less impressive without all the side dishes.

Meanwhile, the girl in the group barely got through the burger. The only thing that allowed me to eat the last few bites of meat was removing it from the bun. Which kind of killed me, actually, because, well by now you know about my love for carbs.

Burger, bun on

Burger, bun on

And chalk up another week of cheap eats for our group, too – mine and Shane’s tab for this one was only $42. Now granted we didn’t have quite as much food as last week’s meat-and-fried-food-extravaganza at Caddyshack, and I think we each had one less drink than last week, too … but still. Less money spent on food and drinks means more money left over for shoes and purses.

Yes, this is how females think.

All in all, Joey’s Kendal Tavern is a great little neighborhood place. And the best testament to that is that it seems like the actual neighborhood definitely frequents the place.But it wasn’t like everyone turned their attention on the regulars and kicked us new people to the curb when they arrived, either. We never felt out of place, or like we were the outsiders who weren’t invited to the party. In fact, I think once we admitted we had never been in before the owner made it his personal mission to make sure we were having a good time, enjoying our food, and planning to return at some point. Even when we left – it was clearly a group of regulars all sitting at the bar as we were walking out, and they all said “goodbye” and “hope to see you again” as we left – like we’d all been friends for years and not just sharing a space at the bar for a few hours.

Now can you just move the place into our actual neighborhood instead?

Ted

Ted

Steph (and "that guy" apparently)

Steph (and “that guy” apparently)

Shaney happy

Shaney happy

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  It’s a little strange to find a place that doesn’t have draft anything, but I guess when you’re the oldest bar around maybe that just means you’ve been there since before carbonation was invented? In any case, at least they had other beers and hard alcohol, so we definitely weren’t disappointed.
Food: The owner said to us at one point that “you don’t leave my place hungry.” No sir, you definitely do not. Especially if you order a burger.
Service: Excellent. We may have lucked out with the combination of sitting at the bar and being almost the only people in place … but even so, I would venture to guess this is the type of place where no one goes unnoticed or unhelped for long.
Overall: Oh Kendal’s, if only you weren’t over a half hour away. For real. Who can build a homey dive bar with good food right down the street from our house?

Next Pick: Amanda

Joey's Kendal Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 2/3/16: Caddyshack Inn, Hinckley

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This week’s WTGW takes us into the previously unchartered territory of Hinckley. Which Shane then proclaimed on the drive over as “his” town, and said we better not pick any other place we see around. Which, just judging from the outside of this place as we drove up – and also the bar/grille/neon-signs-must’ve-been-on-sale building on the corner nearby (which ironically, will probably be Shane’s next pick, as he saw the name of it and claimed it was in close competition with his pick for this week) – we didn’t think we’d have to worry.

Now, after actually tasting the food at Caddyshack Inn, as well as talking to a few of the people there … well, I think we all agreed that he may actually be on to something here.

I’ll be honest, though, as we pulled up to Caddyshack I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to think that things felt just a tad bit on the side of sketch. First of all, the place looks like a house. Because apparently it’s Shane’s life goal to eat at every house-turned-bar establishment in NE Ohio. Lest we forget the place in Aurora that we walked into for ten minutes, couldn’t get served at, and left clouded in the smell of burger grease that to this day is probably still ingrained in our clothing. And the place in Portage Lakes that, while actually pretty awesome, was so far embedded in an actual neighborhood that we thought we were just going to a new friend’s house for dinner.

Seriously, one of these times we are going to end up walking into someone’s real house and sitting down at their kitchen table for dinner – because Shane “heard somewhere” that it was a great hometown dive bar.

Fortunately for us, this time around we still ended up at an actual establishment, and not sharing plates with someone’s Aunt Millie before reading bedtime stories to their children.

Anyway.

So for drinks, it was Miller Lites and Kentucky Bourbun Ales all around. Amanda actually started out drinking Miller Lite and then traded it in for a Bourbon Ale after the first round.

Wait, that beer isn't light enough to be a Miller Lite?!?

Wait, that beer isn’t light enough to be a Miller Lite?!?

Ted was quite proud, as he is anytime anyone chooses anything other than a light domestic beer.

Shane and I got the sampler platter for an appetizer. Because we like fried things. And we weren’t disappointed, because it turns out the sampler is really basically just a bunch of random fried things like cheese sticks, onion rings, chicken tenders, fried mushrooms and jalepeno poppers on one plate together. Come to think of it, maybe they should actually change the name on the menu to “plate of random fried things.” It has a nice ring to it.

Plate of random fried stuff

Plate of random fried stuff

Whatever, it was $7, and kind of a meal all in itself.

Speaking of $7, that was also the price of a dozen wings. Yay frugality!

Shane was the first to order his meal, but by the time we worked around the table and he heard everything else that was being ordered he changed his mind. Because servers love that, right? His original order was just 18 wings … but then after he heard the other guys ordering burgers he realized he would have major food envy if he didn’t get a chance to try one himself. So he scaled back his wing order to 12, and then also got the Dawg Burger … which is a double patty, full pound burger with bacon on it. Because heart health is apparently extremely overrated.

And so that’s how this arrived at the table.

Did you order a heart attack? Because it's here on this plate

Did you order a heart attack? Because it’s here on this plate

I’ll just go ahead and say it, because I know you all are thinking it: W. T. F.

Jerrid ordered the other double burger on the menu, the name of which eludes me now … but just know it was the other full pound burger, with different toppings. But still just as huge.

It looks so unassuming from this angle

It looks so unassuming from this angle

That’s what she said.

We should also point out that there was a huge discussion at our table about just how in the living holy hell they were going to attack those burgers … because, well, this clearly isn’t a job for the faint-hearted. Or anyone who thinks they are going to not be messy about it. Jerrid just went right in, didn’t cut his in half or anything, just picked up the burger whole and started eating his way through it. Shane meanwhile daintily cut his into quarters. But remember this is also the guy who eats his pizza with a knife and fork, so take that as you will I guess.

In any case, that’s the massive burger side of the table.

Oh, and PS: those giant burgers were only like $8.95 each. Just let that sink in for a bit – as I put this picture here yet again.

I think that burger will eat you if you're not careful with it

I think that burger will eat you if you’re not careful with it

OK, moving on.

Jerrid and Amanda also shared 12 wings – six garlic parm and six Kentucky bourbon – as an app. Amanda ordered the black & blue steak wrap for her meal. Which I don’t think had quite a full pound of steak inside of it, but was probably close. 

It's like a whole steak in a little blanket

It’s like a whole steak in a little blanket

Oh good, chunks of garlic. Vampires be gone

Oh good, chunks of garlic. Vampires be gone

Ted got a pound of mussels as an app, then 12 wings (Kentucky bourbon and “just plain hot,” as he called them). And also one of the single patty, half pound burgers.

This is the most healthy thing on our table

This is the most healthy thing on our table

The single actually looks smaller than the bun. Weird

The single actually looks smaller than the bun. Weird

I think this might’ve been the point in the ordering process where our server openly laughed at the insane amount of food five people thought they might possibly be able to eat. And suggested pulling over another table to help hold it.

I got the cheeseburger wrap, mainly because it came with chips and a french onion dip. I think we were all waiting to see if it arrived in a plastic container from the gas station down the road, ala the Lockview.

This is like the healthy version of that other burger. Which isn't saying a whole lot.

This is like the healthy version of that other burger. Which isn’t saying a whole lot.

But alas, no, it was actually homemade. And actually really good. Amanda also got the chips and dip with her meal, and commented that it was the closest to our “gold standard” in house-made chip dips, the stuff we used to get at our old hangout Slim & Jumbo’s in Garrettsville. Yes, we have a rating system on chip dips. Just like our group has a top five on pretty much everything else in this world. These things really shouldn’t surprise you at this point.

So, yeah, if you put all of those photos above together … you can see that our server had more than enough reason to laugh at us when we ordered all of it. Because clearly she knew what was in store for us. It must be like initiation for her when new people come in and think that they are “hungry enough” to finish all of that. Lesson learned.

Well, maybe. Shane eventually surrendered his draft beer and switched to rum and diet because he was getting so full on his burger that he figured that would help to “save stomach space.” Of course I benefited from that by taking the rest of his beer when the first mixed drink came. Thanks honey.

Although I think he regretted his choice as soon as he took the first sip of said drink … and realized it was pretty much just all rum. I joked that they knew he was saving space so they were trying to help by taking out the carbonation.

Ted meanwhile was still giggling about the ridiculousness of specifying diet pop in a drink when we had about four million calories of food sitting in front of us.

Touche.

Ted finished his burger, although his single burger was tiny in comparison to Jerrid’s and Shane’s doubles. Jerrid also got the clean plate award. Shane meanwhile left just under a very-neatly-cut quarter of his on his plate. Who is this guy? Please tell me moderately healthy Shane is not making a return.

Everyone said the wings were really good. And they were big, too – for the insanely low price of $7/dozen, you’d expect them to be smaller, but they were actually decent sized. Amanda and Jerrid were big fans of the Kentucky bourbon ones, but Ted rated the hot sauce better in his book. Although he really only somewhat sampled the hot wings, and then ended up taking most of them home. Since, well, let’s be honest, he already had about three full meals before he got to that item on his personal menu.

One third of Ted's meal

One third of Ted’s meal

Shane also took his wings home. Because, well, giant burger. It was strange to see the guys leaving with doggy bags and not the girls this time around.

So, after all was said and done in this evening, I feel it’s necessary to mention that mine and Shane’s final tab, for the two of us, was $47. Total. To recap, that’s for a huge appetizer, a giant double burger with chips, a wrap with chips, a dozen wings, five miller lite drafts and three tall rum and diets – which were potent enough that Shane had to use the elementary school method of “carrying the one” on the paper when doing math on the final tab before we left.

I’m not sure what kind of alternate cheap dive bar universe we stumbled into here, but we may just never leave. For real.

Especially when we discovered that the Caddyshack Inn also hosts karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights – and that there was a small possibility that the bartenders working those evenings might let “Shane Newton” stand actually ON the bar while drunkenly belting out Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar.” In fact, our server/bartender – who we absolutely loved, and who was fantastic at both her job and keeping up with our high level of sarcastic requests and comments – actually recommended that we come back in two weeks for karaoke.

Us (since she had already told us she doesn’t work weekends): Why, will you be here that night?
Her: Well, if THAT’S happening then I definitely will be

Yes.

How many more visits until we can become regulars? Because I think we may have just found our new life’s goal. Just sayin.

Shane (aka Popeye)

Shane (aka Popeye)

Bromance

Bromance

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  I think the Windsor Pub may have a rival for amount of rum that can fit in one tall glass while still calling it a mixed drink. 
Food:
We definitely learned our lesson about ordering appetizers and meals here. Pick one or the other. But regardless you won’t be disappointed.
Service: You know how much we enjoy servers with a sense of humor, and this was no exception. And for manning both the bar and the floor tables, she was exceptional.
Overall: It may be a good thing this place isn’t closer to us, because WTGW may just turn into Caddyshack Everynight. And we would then either be 400 lbs, or die of heart attacks within a month. But it may be worth it.

Next Pick: Steph

WTGW 11/11/15: Kevin O’Bryan’s, Akron

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So in contrast to last week, when it was the smaller than normal group of three (just me, Shane and Ted) … this week we had a larger than normal group of seven, with a few special guests and friends who wanted to join us to check out this particular spot. Apparently we’ve latched onto the Goldilocks and the Three Bears scale of dining groups. Maybe next week we’ll hit “just right?”

Kevin O’Bryan’s is a place that’s been on my radar for a little while now, but for some reason I just never pulled the trigger on actually picking it. Maybe because when you zoom out on the google map, the area of town is just a tad bit on the side of shady. I mean, not that that’s necessarily stopped us from visiting places in the past (Papa Don‘s, anyone?) … but let’s just say that as we approached the place – which turned out to be a non-descript block building with few windows across from a Family Dollar which we realized later had one of the world’s last working pay phones out front – I was only slightly nervous about what we were getting ourselves into.

Although everyone else tried to make me feel better by pointing out that there was another pub on the opposite corner of the street that seemed to be almost a carbon copy (from the outside anyway), so we could probably just hop back and forth if my place sucked. Thanks, guys.

But I’m happy to report that we had absolutely nothing to be worried about. This place is definitely a hidden gem. And we already can’t wait to go back.

Our server in particular was outstanding. You have to love someone who basically just lets you walk in and start pushing the tables around to however you want in order to accommodate your big group. I mean, there weren’t a ton of other people in the bar, and I’ll admit we can be kind of pushy as a group in general sometimes … but still. It was nice of him to not approach us with a “WTF do you think you’re doing there, new people I’ve never seen before in my life?” attitude.

He also took note of Shane’s Cleveland hoodie and commented that he could use Shane’s help to basically push out another group of not-Cleveland fans that were planning to watch the game there this coming weekend.  In his words “so, they’re Steelers fans, and I mean, I can’t kick them out all together … because, let’s face it, I still want their money … but I just don’t want them to have this great of a table. I’d rather you guys – Cleveland fans – had it.”

Ah, rivalry.

The beer list on the table was outdated, although the server mentioned that the new one was on his computer at home. Because that helps us not at all – unless we’re road tripping to go pick it up – but whatever. I noticed the tap for McKensie’s Cider at the bar and asked if they had the seasonal reserve – which they did – so I went with that, as did Amanda.

Although in true us fashion, that lasted two rounds and then we ran out the keg. It’s like they see us coming.

The server brought over another cider to try after that – I think maybe it was also from McKenzie’s(?), and I know he specifically said it was something with chamomile in it (he said he had to write the name down before he brought me the sample – “I’m usually good remembering this stuff but even I had to write it down, the name is jacked.”) So of course I liked it, but now have no idea now what the name of it actually was. Except the chamomile part. And that just makes me confused, like is it tea or is it cider? I mean, really. It wasn’t awful – to be honest, it tasted kind of like the seasonal reserve, minus the cinnamon and nutmeg. But note to companies – how about we stop trying to have 50 flavors that are all just OK and instead focus on making five or six that are really, amazingly good? Just a thought.

Speaking of really, amazingly good alcoholic beverages, Jerrid started the night drinking what is probably the exact opposite of that … Bud Light. Well, at least, anyway, until he mentioned wanting to do shots and the server recommended the “PB&J” – which is basically just a shot of Jameson (“J”) served along side a tall boy can of PBR (“PB”). For $6.50.

Shane: So really that’s a $6 shot and a $.50 can of beer then?

Note to anyone going out with our group: sometimes it’s easier to just not admit you’re a fan of certain beers, lest you be ridiculed until your dying day about them.

So since Kevin O’Bryan’s is known for it’s burgers (their website touts “Best Burgers in Akron!”), that’s what most of the table ended up getting. Although honestly, we had to admit the breadth and variety of the menu was a bit surprising to us. For a place that looks like a little dive bar on the outside, they really offer some interesting foods – not just your typical wings, frozen burger patties and random chicken sandwich selections. I mean, how many other bars serve fried green tomatoes as an app? (keeping in mind we’re in Ohio here, not anywhere near the southern U.S.)  Or buffalo calamari? Or a burger with pimento cheese and remoulade? Exactly.

But in any case, back to the burgers. So when I asked about the whole “Best in Akron” label on the website, the server told me that that was, in fact, the case – in his words, the only place that might compare to them is Swenson’s. Which I admittedly have heard of and driven past several times, but have never actually tried.

Server: You’ve never been to Swenson’s? Do you not live around here?
Me: No, we live in Cuyahoga Falls.
Server: Then how is it possible you’ve never been to Swenson’s? They’re, like, famous around here. You found us but you haven’t been there?
Me: But Swenson’s doesn’t serve alcohol.
Server: Point taken. Yeah, we’re definitely better than them then.

I like him.

Shane meanwhile took that opportunity to stir up the great “Burger Wellness Scale Interrogation” that we seem to go through at, well, every place we even think about ordering burgers. I’m beginning to think he should just create and carry some sort of a photographic reference that he can point each server to when describing to the level of pinkness he would like his burger to contain. Because in over two years, we still have yet to reach a universal similarity to the words “rare,” “medium rare,” and “somewhat rare.”

The struggle is real, y’all.

Amanda and I kept up our twinning routine and ordered the exact same entrees – the blue cheese burger with an added topping of sauteed mushrooms, and tater tots on the side. And we were not disappointed.

Can I have some of your tots?

Can I have some of your tots?

Not to be outdone, Shane and Lou also went the twinsies route and got the Livie Burger (the one with the pimento cheese referenced above) and fried green tomatoes as a side. They were also very satisfied with their choices.

Shane also got an order of wings – because, well, Shane. He chose the Irish Dew sauce, which is a house specialty. I only somewhat overheard the conversation about what it was made of (I clearly skipped the class toward my journalism degree called “paying attention when people talk”) but I do know it involved boiling down Tullamore Dew whisky as a base, and then mixing it with spices. In any case, Shane thought it was excellent.

Burgers and wings. The WTGW staples.

Burgers and wings. The WTGW staples.

Ted also got wings – because, again, that’s how the boys of WTGW roll – but he went with the hot garlic. Which he said kind of missed the mark on the whole “hot” part. He also got the Wednesday Special, a strip steak with potatoes and fried green beans.

That looks like a real meal.

That looks like a real meal.

The steak comes with a hot pepper on top of it … and you know of course Ted ate it. He didn’t regret it quite as much as the time he ate the pepper out of Shane’s drink at Tim Owen’s Traveler’s Tavern a few weeks ago … but it was definitely close. You know, like when you eat all the cookies you were supposed to take to your company holiday party, so now you don’t have anything to take with you and your stomach is really upset with you … but the cookies were super delicious, so it was actually kind of worth it. That level of regret.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

He later asked the server what kind of pepper it was, and was told it was just a fried banana pepper. Which apparently had been farmed on the surface of the sun, according to Ted’s reaction. When Ted told the server that the pepper was hotter than his entire batch of hot garlic wings, the server’s reaction was “well, I guess that means we need to step those wings up a notch then, thanks for letting me know.”

That’s what we’re here for, folks. Saving the world from bad and/or wrongly labeled foods, one entree at a time.

Jerrid ordered a burger with tater tots, and the full appetizer order of the fried green tomatoes instead of just the side. He kept trying to get everyone at the table to try the fried green tomatoes – and in particular the sauce they came with. There’s only so many times you can hear “you need to get more of the sauce” before your mind just naturally goes to a dark place.

Again, don’t pretend you don’t get it.

Fried green tomatoes. Fancy.

Fried green tomatoes. Fancy.

Shanda, meanwhile, had a salad as big as my head. Does that still mean it’s healthy? And is that even allowed at our table of fried sin and burger deliciousness? The jury is still out.

Is that healthy food? Who allowed this order?

Is that healthy food? Who allowed this order?

So the overall opinion here was that everything was delicious – I don’t think there was anything we weren’t happy with, except maybe the fact that they ran out of our cider after about 30 minutes … but, hey, we’re used to that, no harm done there. Our server kept up well with what we admittedly realize can be a loud, demanding and over zealous group (especially once Jerrid and Ted decided it was o’shot-thirty … because that always ends well) … and did so with a sense of humor, more patience than I probably would be able to muster and a smile the entire time. We all admitted we were a bit nervous about the location and the exterior of the place, but the staff and the food are well worth getting past all of that. Plus that Family Dollar I mentioned was visible just outside the front window behind us – and who knew a pay phone could be so popular? – so we were afforded constant entertainment all evening. We’ll definitely be back. I mean, Shane even gave it his “dive bar stamp of approval” … which if nothing else just made me super glad I picked it before he had a chance to.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda and Shanda

Amanda and Shanda

Ted and Jerrid. And shots. Obviously.

Ted and Jerrid. And shots. Obviously.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  When the list is updated, it’s pretty impressive. But judging from the outdated list, what they had over the summer looked delicious too. Quite a few crafts on draft, and bottles ranging from craft to PBR. What’s not to love.
Food:
Delicious. They aren’t kidding about it being the best burgers in town. They are definitely cooked to order. Shane didn’t even have to reference his power point presentation.
Service: Awesome. Again, we know we can be a demanding bunch (and there were more of us than usual this time) but we were definitely always well taken care of.
Overall: We’ll be back, whether to kick out rival fans for a Browns game or to maybe check out the Thursday night karaoke scene. Shane Newton needs new audiences …

Next Pick: Amanda
Kevin O'Bryan's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato