WTGW 7/15/15: Eldorado’s Pizza Pub, Kent

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So, we’re back in Kent, and it’s a place Ted hasn’t been to or picked yet. What’s this all about?

Honestly, Eldorado’s has been on both Amanda and Shane’s radar for a bit now – but neither of them wanted to pick it because they weren’t sure exactly where it was located. Until last week, as we were driving to Mike’s and Shane spotted it on a side street, tucked behind a gas station. Because that shouts slightly shady, but OK.

Let me clarify, Eldorado actually not shady at all – but at first glance, I can see how one would get that impression.

Anyway.

This time of year there’s a lot of places running these “Christmas in July” specials, and Eldorado’s is no exception. Which means that of course Ted went with the Christmas Ale on special. Just as predictably, Amanda and I ordered Summer Shandy. And Shane was elated to find a bar serving the Shock Top Summer Shandy, which he swears is better than the Leinenkugel that us girls enjoy so much.

And that, my friends, is what you call a group of happy alcoholics.

Eldorado’s is known for their stromboli, which definitely sounded delicious, so that’s the direction Amanda and I went with our orders. I got the meatball (Italian meatballs and provolone cheese), and Amanda ordered the All-American (pepperoni and sausage with shredded cheese). I’m not really sure how the cheese thing was different, except that mine seemed to have sauce on the inside of it, too. Which they didn’t mention on the menu. And was slightly weird – not to mention unfortunate for me since I don’t really care for sauce as much. Amanda’s on the other hand had more cheese and no sauce inside. So basically we should’ve swapped.

And not that we couldn’t have done so. Because – and here’s our PSA on this place … portions are HUGE, particularly for the stromboli. When you look at the menu, the size options are small, large, and extra large. Seems normal, no?

For the love of all things holy, only order the extra large if you intend to feed half the population of a small country. Or you want to be the poster child for the word “gluttonous.” Because Amanda and I each ordered a large size – one size smaller than the extra large – and I think just one of our meals would’ve been enough to feed the entire table. Well, if the entire table was just four people like me and Amanda anyway. Or maybe one Ted, or one Shane. You get the idea. Freaking huge.

It doesn't look so big until you realize that plate underneath is like 2ft across

It doesn’t look so big until you realize that plate underneath is like 2ft across

I mean, it’s embarrassing when for once the guys had less food on their side of the table. Yeah. For real.

Also embarrassing: seeing the two ladies at the table next to us sharing one small pizza, and then leaving with leftovers. Thanks for that.

Ted got the Wednesday special of a $5.00 small one item pizza. He chose pepperoni for his one item. And then he ordered a meatball sub – you know, on the side. Right. Because that’s what people order as a “side,” Ted. At least he passed on the fries.

That's a whole lot of cheese there, Ted

That’s a whole lot of cheese there, Ted

Reminder: he still had less food in front of him than either Amanda or me.

Shane ordered a NY style pizza with pepperoni, sausage and hot peppers. He was hoping to get a 16 inch, but was told that the NY style only comes in 12 inch. You could see obvious disappointment when the server informed him of this.

The entire table: Oh, that won’t be nearly enough food for you.

Needless to say, we kept a menu in case he needed to supplement his order later.

Meanwhile, on Shane's plate ...

Meanwhile, on Shane’s plate …

Our server – who was also the bartender – was seemingly shocked by the shear amount of food that would be arriving at our table shortly: “Boy, you’re all hungry, aren’t you?”

Now, in all fairness, she could’ve warned me and Amanda about the size of the stromboli. But I’m sure it was more fun for her to laugh at us from behind the bar. So, once again, thanks for that.

Luckily Shane never had to order more food, as I had enough stromboli to feed, well, everyone in the bar. I think Amanda and I made it through about a quarter of each of our meals before throwing in the towel. Which, honestly, was probably still a lesser portion than what the small size of that particular food works out to be, but whatever. It was really tasty, but just a lot of food. Even with Shane’s help, I think I’ll still be eating leftovers until next WTGW.

Hopefully Ted doesn’t pick Italian next week.

Seriously. How many cows were involved in the making of the cheese that went on this?

Seriously. How many cows were involved in the making of the cheese that went on this?

Amanda joked that she was so hungry she was going to eat all of it … ala the Merchant challenge from a while back – but backed down once money was put on the table. Smart woman. We also of course had to bring up the Belleria trip and how the boys ordered entire sheet pizzas each, and our friend and guest diner for the evening, Jenny, was utterly embarrassed to be seen with us.

Good times.

Shane thought the pizza was excellent. The sauce was sweet, which is right up his alley. He joked that since Ted works in Kent a lot he’ll need to start a delivery service just from this place to our house after work.

Ted, meanwhile, was busy for a bit picking off all of the cheese he forgot to request not be put onto his meatball sub. I think he’s been ordering the meatball splash sub at the aforementioned Belleria for so long now that he’s clearly forgotten that he actually has to specify. Once that task was finished, he got to work double-fisting the meatball sub and slices of pizza. Because why finish one first when you can mix flavors like that?

But he said they were both delicious, so the strategy must’ve worked.

All in all, the atmosphere was good at Eldorado’s, and other than the slight judgement we might’ve gotten for our food gluttony, we never felt like outsiders or newbies in a “regulars-only” kind of place. Our server was very nice, and very much on top of service – especially considering it was only her behind the bar to deal with bar patrons, table and patio … and people like us who clearly misunderstand portion sizes and make her carry party-sized platters out of the kitchen to our tables.

The music selection was somewhat of an enigma to us, though … it started with country (OK), then eventually we heard 80’s rock (still up our alley), then Lionel Ritchie (wait, what?), then something resembling show tunes (um, you’re losing us), then back to country. If one person was controlling those selections I think they might want to seek help for multiple personality disorder.

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Um, Shane?  I don't know what symbol that is.

Um, Shane? I don’t know what symbol that is.

Take two. Your guess is as good as mine.

Take two. Your guess is as good as mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  Decent draft selection, especially for a smaller bar. 
Food:
 It’s all Italian fare, so if you’re not in the mood for sauce and cheese it’s probably best to move on. And if I haven’t mentioned it enough already, the portions are huge. So come hungry. Or bring 20 of your closest friends. Whatever.
Service:  Very good. We appreciated her not openly mocking us for the amount of food that ended up on our table, and for keeping the beer coming to help us wash it down.
Overall: We’ll definitely be back, or at the very least requesting Ted pick up carry out orders before he returns home from the jobsite.

Next Pick:  Ted

 

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WTGW 7/8/15: Mike’s Place, Kent

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What can you really say about a place that has an X-wing fighter sitting outside the front door, an old trolley car on the patio and sections of the building that look like they were just kind of dropped in the same area by a tornado and then fused together Frankenstein-style by some architect mad scientist?

Um, that it’s awesome.

I feel like we're walking into a cartoon

I feel like we’re walking into a cartoon

Mike’s Place is pretty much legend – wait for it – ary to the Kent area, especially to those that went to college there. But since that excludes all but one of us, that’s probably how we went this long without discovering it. And even though one of us had technically been there like 700 times before, it was still a safe WTGW choice … because we all know Ted’s long-time affiliation with the area grants him a pass, as long as he isn’t the one who actually picks the place.

Hey, they’re our rules, get over it.

In any case, I checked in at Mike’s on Facebook and immediately heard from friends who had gone to Kent and hadn’t been back in years, wondering how the placed had changed (or not). From the reactions as I posted pictures, the majority seemed to think it’s pretty much remained the same.

Which, let me say again, is pretty much awesome.

So, the first thing you’ll notice as you settle into your seat at Mike’s: there’s a lot to look at. Like, a lot. No really. It’s like a Ruby Tuesday’s on steroids. I never knew there were enough nails in the world to put up this many wall decorations.

The second thing you notice: they like words. Maybe more than they like unique wall decorations. The menu is just a tad overwhelming. I mean, honestly, I think I’ve seen college textbooks that are smaller than this menu.  Or short stories. Or books of poetry. Seriously. Although I can only imagine how much larger the menu would be if they hadn’t used the absolute smallest font imaginable and probably permissible by printing standards to write the entire thing. I mean, for real. It’s like they’re trying to fit a novel on a postage stamp here.

Words. So. Many. Words.

Words. So. Many. Words.

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad – but still, I think the entire table – well, except Ted, of course, who had probably just been there for lunch like three days ago – spent about a half hour flipping and turning and reading. Because the awkward sound of pages turning as we all search in silence for something delicious to jump off the menu at us is a fun dinner game.

Luckily they must get this a lot, as the waitress gave us plenty of time to study the menu once she heard we were newbies. But for real, if you’re craving something and you can’t find it on the menu, chances are it doesn’t really exist. And you probably shouldn’t eat out that often. 

So we decide on meals, the server takes our menus, and I think we’re all done with the required reading for the day … and then I see these on the table …

Oh, look, more words

Oh, look, more words

The place mats are also full of words. For real, when do we stop reading??? My head hurts.

Trying to remedy that with alcohol wasn’t an easy task at Mike’s, as there wasn’t much of note on the drink list. Especially once they crossed out Summer Shandy, indicating they had run out. Blasphemy. And clearly they were not expecting us. Boo. I ended up with an Angry Orchard, Amanda got a Blue Moon, and Ted had a Murphy’s Stout.

Shane skipped the first round of alcohol (which makes perfect sense seeing as this was one of only like three times ever that I’ve driven on WTGW. Thanks honey.) – but later cracked and ordered a Bloody Mary. He was a bit intimidated by the description on the menu that said it was like a meal, but really when has ordering two or three entrees really deterred him? Exactly.

We got pretzel sticks for an appetizer. Or, as Shane kept referring to them, horse cocks. And maybe it was because Shane insisted on repeating those words, but I wasn’t thrilled with the app. I mean, they were just OK, nothing special. Admittedly I think I’m pretty much over this pretzel-sticks-as-an-appetizer fad that seemed to have blossomed over the last few years. Because, really, they’re just predictable. You can’t screw them up, but you can’t make them interesting either.

But, in any case, they were edible – and once again we were hungry enough to start eating them before I took a pic. Dammit.

Once again, I wasn't fast enough with the camera

Once again, I wasn’t fast enough with the camera

After pretty much just closing my eyes and putting my finger on a spot on the menu because I was tired of reading everything looked good, I ended up with The Roast Beast (roast beef) and a basket of sweet potato fries. It was really good. The sandwich was covered in cheese, so you know Ted hated even sitting across from it – but I liked it that way. And the cinnamon sugar dip for the sweet potato fries was to die for.

I think the picture alone might make  cheese-hater Ted vomit

I think the picture alone might make cheese-hater Ted vomit

Amanda got The Corny Dagwood (corned beef, in case you haven’t found your secret decoder ring yet), which I had been eyeing also. She said it was really good. It was very – although we all detest the use of that word, it was the best one we could come up with to describe it – moist. Yes, bring on the HIMYM references.

"And that was just the first 20 minutes of the show ..."

“And that was just the first 20 minutes of the show …”

Anyway. She got the regular fries and they were good also.

At least it's covering all of the words

At least it’s covering all of the words

Shane had the full rack of ribs. Our server told him he got two sides with his dinner, which discouraged him because he thought he was going to have to wade back into the dictionary of a menu to find his choices. So we joked that if you just say something you want, it’s probably on the list of side dishes, so try that first. Fries and cole slaw, check and check. How did he guess?

He said the ribs were good, and the cole slaw was peppery but not too much so, and also just a touch spicy. Said he could taste “a hint of cilantro.” Thanks Master Chef. At least it wasn’t ginger again.

Meat and sides of choice

Meat and sides of choice

Ted got the AYCE fish. And probably made the cook angry, as he was ordering his next plate every time one arrived at our table. Although we commended him for being so healthy, since he was eating the broiled fish, and as his two sides he chose mashed potatoes and broccoli. What? Where does he think he is? Other than far away from cheese of any kind, that is.

This kind of health food doesn't belong on our table

This kind of health food doesn’t belong on our table

So after three rounds of broiled fish – and a small amount of harassment from the peanut gallery – Ted then decided to mix it up with one round of fried Fish. And that was his downfall. That plate of breaded, battered and deep fried what-might-be-fish-underneath-it-all did him in before he could even get through one piece. We of course joked that that was the only way the cook could get him to stop eating. Well, that, and by scalding the remaining bits of the roof of his mouth into oblivion.

Ted:  “I think they cooked this on the furnace of hell.”

Finally. That healthy stuff was getting old.

Finally. That healthy stuff was getting old.

We had a little scare this evening, as we nearly saw the return of Healthy Shane – who, if you remember from last year – brought the party to a standstill when he tried to avoid burgers, ribs, and basically anything fried on our WTGW outings. We started to get nervous when he didn’t finish all of his fries.

Me: “Who the hell are you?”
Shane: “I’m changing my ways.”
Me: “You’re not bringing back Moderately Healthy Shane, are you? We don’t like him.”

I then reminded him how it felt to sit across from Ted at The Game last year and watch him eat that massive burger with grease dripping down his hands, while Shane essentially ate two different versions of tortilla chips.

He then proceeded to finish off the pretzel sticks and the cinnamon dip that came with my sweet potato fries. So that worked.

All in all Mike’s is a really fun place. After we ate, Ted put on his tour guide hat and showed us the different areas of the restaurant:  the bar area is the inside of the castle,  you can dine in the captain’s quarters of a ship, or inside a bus overlooking the patio.

Which way to go?

Which way to go?

Hey, there's a lady on your boat ...

Hey, there’s a lady on your boat …

Why didn't we use our bus like this?

Why didn’t we use our bus like this?

Inside the boat

Inside the boat

The men's room was "sausages." Clever.

The men’s room was “sausages.” Clever.

Patio, as seen from the bus

Patio, as seen from the bus

Speaking of the patio, it actually looked way fun – but, par for the WTGW course, it was too chilly to get out there this time. Which just means we have to add this one to the list of places to revisit just to see what things are like in a different section of the place. Actually, we joked that we could come back every WTGW for the next year and still never see everything – or order the same thing. I may have to invest in some reading glasses if we’ll be frequenting this place that often.

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  For all the words on the menu, there aren’t nearly enough of them that fall under the “alcoholic” category. Some of the specialty mixed drinks sounded intriguing, though.  
Food:
 Seriously, if it’s not on the menu here, I doubt that it actually exists. Pancakes? Check. Ribs? Check. Pizza? Check. Swordfish? I didn’t see it, but that’s not to say it’s not there and I just didn’t read that far. You get the idea.
Service:  Good. I give her bonus points for actually knowing even 3/4 of that menu and being knowledgeable enough to talk about it. She must be good on exam days.
Overall: Good food, interesting atmosphere, fun place. I feel like everytime you go it could potentially be a completely different experience, just based on where you sit and what you order.

Next Pick:  Amanda

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WTGW 1/28/15: Longhitano’s, Kent

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Wait, someone picked a Kent place and it wasn’t Ted? Is that allowed?

Longhitano’s is one of those places we always drove past on our way into or out of Kent proper, noticed the neon signs and tinted windows, and thought “hey, I wonder what that place is like.” Which, as you probably know by now, is the premise of the entire WTGW experience. So it was only a matter of time before we actually ended up inside.

And, on this particular evening, it turned out that we were members of a small but mighty group inside the place. We were one of only about five tables that rotated throughout the evening, and there were a handful of people at the bar. So not at all busy. But I get it, it’s a cold and snowy Wednesday in January. Only crazies like us actually enjoy going out on nights like this.

Of course one of the first things we always notice is the drink list, which in this case was listed on a chalkboard near the bar and included a somewhat impressive list of bottled beers. Ted went with Guinness, and the rest of us had already ordered our standard Miller Lite drafts before Amanda and I read all the way to the end of the list and noticed they still had bottles of Summer Shandy included. Wait, what now? It’s clearly no longer summer. So, thinking it must be a mistake, we inquired … and sure enough they had it. Now I’m not sure if places just remembered Summer Shandy’s popularity from last year, and therefore over ordered it this season or what, but that’s two places this month that have still had it. In January. A full half year past summer. A few years ago we couldn’t even find it when it was STILL SUMMER. Hmm.

The food at Longhitano’s is one of those “something for everyone” kind of varieties – everything from bar food like burgers and sandwiches, to entrees like steaks, ribs and pasta, to seafood dishes, to salads. For real if you can’t find something on the menu that at least piques your interest, then maybe you should just not venture out for meals.

So as you can assume, we had no issues finding something we all liked here. And I’m glad to see we’re back to our old habits of ordering enough appetizers for an army. On this particular evening, breaded mushrooms, fried mac’n’cheese bites and mozzarella sticks all found their way to our table. Because the holidays are a full month past us at this point, let’s just be sure to keep all that extra weight securely on our bodies.

The fried cheese side of the table

The fried cheese side of the table

Ted's side of the table

Ted’s side of the table

For dinner, I went with the Italian Sub. It was huge – and since I had been at Cleveland’s Hofbrauhaus earlier in the day celebrating a retirement (and thus enjoying heavy beer, pretzels and other carb-loaded snacks) I could only eat less than a third of it. But I most definitely packaged up the rest in a to-go box and am already looking forward to the day I’ll enjoy it. I did finish all of the fries, which were fresh cut and fabulous.

Now that's a sub

Now that’s a sub

Full disclosure: I ordered the sub partially because I read on the menu that it came on Italian bread, which I’m a sucker for. The rest of the table ordered burgers, and when they all came out on the same bread I have to admit I was a bit surprised and slightly disappointed – since the bread had been my deciding factor in sub vs. burger. Longhitano’s: 1, Steph: 0.

Ted had the jalepeno burger. He had been set on Cajun pasta, but after reading about that partiluar burger (rather, after I read aloud the description for that particular burger, because I couldn’t believe they put that much heat on one sandwich) he called an audible. Amanda had the bullseye burger, which has onion rings and bacon, so how can you really go wrong? Plus did I mention the bread?

There's a burger under that bread

There’s a burger under that bread

Onion rings on burgers = delicious

Onion rings on burgers = delicious

And now for Shane’s ongoing saga of “let’s-see-if-this-place-can-cook-my-burger-the-way-I-like-it.” What is this, you ask? Well, let me explain:

Step One: Ask the server “how thick are the burgers” – complete with a visual aid of his thumb/forefinger measurement. I swear we need to start bringing a ruler out with us.

Step Two: The answer to step one will determine if he will order the burger medium rare (thick patty) or rare (thin/frozen patty).

Step Three: Wait for burger to arrive.

Step Four: Examine burger upon arrival, and most likely be disappointed because it’s either too well done (see also: well, pretty much everywhere we’ve ever eaten, save for 6-7 places) or because he thinks they’re trying to kill him with a burger so rare the cow may have just died out back (see also: The Rail)

Sounds fun, right?

On this occasion Shane went with the Salami burger, and I’m happy to report that it was actually cooked just about right. Which puts Longhitano’s in an elite group of places that can actually cook a burger Shane will enjoy. Yay! He asked for medium rare, and his burger was definitely cooked, but still very pink inside. Which is far better than the alternatives of charred or nearly alive. Success.

The properly cooked Salami Burger

The properly cooked Salami Burger

Side note: we later noticed our server eating her dinner at the bar near us, and her burger was even pinker than Shane’s. Apparently one of the guys sitting near her at the bar also noticed this, because we also overheard their conversation about how she’s particular and likes her burgers very rare. So maybe it takes one to know one when it comes to ordering properly. Shane may want to change his opening line.

Overall Longhitano’s isn’t a bad place, but on the flip side there was nothing really special about it either. I would go back just because they use Italian bread with everything, so I may not be the best judge on this one. And, well, you know Shane’s opinion on the food. But I would be curious to try one of the pastas just to see how it is. I did like that there’s a nice menu selection – something for everyone, so if you’re going out with a group and no one has a particular taste for something it would be a good choice for “one stop shopping.” And while it was relatively quiet during our visit, there are also TVs on every table, so you do have to wonder if the sporting events bring out the crowds. Might be worth a venture back at some point to check it out.

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No teeth Shane

No teeth Shane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks: Hey, any bar that can give us Summer Shandy in January is OK in our book. Impressive bottled beer list, and the martinis we spotted on the neon sign behind the bar sounded delicious. 
Food:
Anything from pasta to seafood to typical bar fare. Nice choice for a group that can’t decide what they’re in the mood for. So, you know, us.
Service: Good. The place was pretty much empty, though, so I’d be pretty disappointed if we weren’t taken care of. Our one complaint was that the waitress was too busy eating her own meal and talking to a regular at the bar to even say goodbye to us. And again, it’s not like we were lost in a crowd on our way out.
Overall: Good. Nothing overly impressive, but nothing bad either. And, hey, since they can get Shane’s burger cooked properly there’s a good chance we might return.

Next Pick: Steph

 

WTGW 1/21/15: Laziza, Kent

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Well, it’s Ted’s week to pick, so not surprising we’re back in Kent. And he’s had this place on his radar for a while now, thanks to our rule that you can’t pick a place for a WTGW outing if you’ve eaten there. And I guess he wanted to enjoy this experience with us. I know, it’s all very sweet.

Laziza features primarily Mediterranean foods – which, wait, what? Be still my heart. Two non-bar/grille places to start the year? We are certainly setting the bar high in 2015.

In any case.

Laziza has a nice atmosphere, it’s a large place with an upstairs seating area as well as some tables downstairs by the bar – which, if you know us, you know already this is where we sat. We just feel most comfortable next to a bar. Judge away.

Obligatory abstract mirror photo

Obligatory abstract mirror photo

At least we ended up with a window table. Because we’re special like that. Well, and because there were only like three other parties in the place – but I like the “special” reason better.

The drink list was on the table when we sat down, which I consider to be a good sign. Seriously, why don’t more places do this? It seems to save the whole “make the server run through 1800 choices and then they still have to come back because we haven’t had time to process all of that yet.” It’s just good business, people. For real.

*rant over*

Of course, I was wooed by the martini list right off the bat. I mean, with options like Bananas Foster, Peppermint Patty and Salted Caramel Macchiato, how can you ignore that? But the prices seemed a bit steep (most were around $8.00 each), so the romance was short lived. Especially once the server came over and told us they were featuring $1.00 off all draft beers, and that they had just tapped a Blue Moon Peach. Balance shift.

Our group reverted back to our three-against-one strategy of drinking, with Amanda, Shane and I all opting for the Blue Moon Peach, while Ted went with an IPA. And for once our beers were darker than Ted’s. Because it’s an evening of new adventures all around.

It's hard to tell from this photo, but my beer is actually darker than Ted's. What?

The color in this photo does not do it justice

Maybe out of embarrassment for that fact, Ted eventually switched to a Banana Fosters martini for his second round – which we all got a nice laugh out of when it actually made the server do a double take. Like a for real “wait, what?” double take. I’m guessing not too many people go IPA to martini in one round flat. But to give Ted credit, he also didn’t seem to regret his choice – and, having tasted said martini, I have to say I can’t really blame him. Delicious.

You want a what now, sir?

You want a what now, sir?

Meanwhile, Shane ordered coffee for his second round. Because he’s 97. And us girls stuck to beer. I’m not entirely sure what these choices say about our group.

Yes folks, that's my husband drinking coffee. Because he's apparently 97.

Yes folks, that’s my husband drinking coffee. Can we get a senior citizen discount?

For food, I should preface this by saying we had two people at the table who have at least eaten Mediterranean food before (me and Ted), and two who were kind of flying blind (Shane and Amanda). I have a feeling you’ll notice that our reviews of our meals reflect this fact, so I thought it best to at least put it out there.

Ted and I took over appetizer ordering, since we already kind of knew what we had our eyes on. I ordered the Dawali for an appetizer, and Ted went with the Fried Kibbie. I’m surprised Shane, after discovering hummus last summer and eating it about every day, didn’t order that – but then again maybe he’s had his fill. We did get him and Amanda to try the Dawali, although neither of them were that impressed. Ted had the Kibbie all to himself, although Shane did try the cucumber sauce that came with it. Which prompted memories of the “this has to be sweet … nope” taste test from Gus’s Chalet. And gave us a chance to mention that place for about the 85th straight week in a row. The streak continues.

Those aren't sausages

Those aren’t sausages

And that's not a corn dog. This ethnic food is hard.

And that’s not a corn dog. This ethnic food is hard.

The basket of pita and rolls that was brought out for the table was a mixed review: the rolls were buttery and very good, while the pita was too thin and had no flavor. The oil that came with it for dipping seemed to separate and left all the spices at the bottom … so really it only worked when you dipped the bread into it, not when you tried to be civil to your group an pour your own portion on your plate so you don’t accidentally double dip. So good thing we’re all friends here I guess.

As far as dinner, I’m thinking we had to be one of the easiest tables the server had all night. Girls had Shish Kabobs, while guys had Beef Shawarma. Thankfully, unlike last week’s server who promptly forgot our margarita orders two seconds after he left our table, our server at Laziza managed to keep this incredibly complicated order on pointe. Well done sir.

Meat on sticks

Meat on sticks

Meat, not on sticks

Meat, not on sticks

I thought it was all very good. Everything had good flavor, and the portions were extremely large. The only thing I noticed was that the meat was all over the board in terms of done-ness. Some chunks were a little drier and well done, while others looked to be just barely past the fresh-killed stage. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be prepared, but I have to admit that inconsistency was slightly unnerving. Amanda agreed – she said there were certain pieces of meat that were tough and not well seasoned, and then there were others were so tender they pretty much melted in your mouth. Which was not unlike Ted’s description of “meat flavored cotton candy” from a few months back, so I guess that’s a good thing.

Also unnerving: attempting to cut those less tender chunks of meat with the butter knife I was given with my meal. No joke. I mean, I think back to all those times we were given Ginzu steak knives to cut through hamburgers on plain buns, and then here I am trying to saw through nearly raw steak with a delicate knife meant for spreads. It was like at any moment I either expected the table to cave underneath me due to all the sawing motion, or that scene to play out from Pretty Woman when the escargot goes flying across the room at the fancy restaurant. Slippy little suckers.

Ted was happy with his meal. I think the place lived up to his expectations and was well worth the wait in trying it. And I’m sure he’ll be returning – in fact, he may even have done so by the time I post this review.

We also noted that, in the 18+ months that we’ve been doing this, this place was almost certainly the first place in which no cheese whatsoever was on our table over the course of the meal. RIGHT!?!? None. Zero. Zip. Which is absolutely unheard of for us. And could also explain why Ted likes Mediterranean food so much. *glass broken*

Shane, on the other hand, was not a fan. He said the rice was greasy (also one of Amanda’s complaints – I agree that it is oily, but no more so than rice I’ve had at other Mediterranean places). He didn’t like the beef on his Shawarma, said he thought it needed more seasoning and flavor. OK Negative Nancy. Between this week and last – when he also claimed his food was flavorless – maybe he’s ruined his taste buds somehow? It’s something to look into. Now granted, Shane also didn’t have a frame of reference for this type of food, as he’d never tried it before – but somehow I doubt it made such an impression that he’ll be eager to try it again.

So I guess the final verdict was that the half of the group who had tried this type of food before would vote in favor of a return, while the other half I think would be more inclined to vote for burgers and fries over this type of food in the future. But at least they tried it, so that’s something. And they didn’t order a wrap or something American-ized (which there is a lot of on the menu – everything from surf & turf to steaks to burgers to buffalo chicken wraps) so bonus points there.

But something also tells me when next week’s pick rolls around, Shane will be picking a good ole bar and grill for his choice. It’s time.

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Shane

Shane

 

 

 

 


CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks: The martini list looked fantastic, although the prices did not. Besides, they had us at “$1.00 off draft beers on Wednesdays.”  
Food:
If you like Mediterranean food, you’ll like Laziza. If you don’t … well, then, maybe you should think of a new place to go. Honestly, though, they do have a few burgers, steaks and a nice selection of wraps on the menu, so if someone in your group is “all-American-food-all-the-time” they should still be able to find something they like here.
Service: Excellent. Particularly the part where he was taken aback by Ted’s martini order. And he called us fun, so bonus points for that.
Overall: Those of us who had had this type of food before enjoyed it more than those in the group who hadn’t. So take that as you will.

Next Pick: Shane

Laziza on Urbanspoon

WTGW 10/22/14: Belleria, Kent

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Well hello there Kent, long time no see …

I have to admit, it felt a bit like like de ja vu for this week’s WTGW, between the drive into town and parking in the same garage as we did last week. With Ted spending some time working in the area right now, he’s apparently discovered a plethora of restaurants we haven’t visited yet. And because he can’t go to them for lunch until we’ve visited them as a group (at least if he still wants to keep it as a pick), I think it’s safe to say Ted has the Kent market covered for a little while.

Belleria is a bit hard to find – it’s tucked away on the upper level of buildings, with the entrance facing a fire escape type stairway and a teeny tiny parking lot. So I guess it’s a good thing Ted scoped it out ahead of time and could lead us right to the front door.

The restaurant is very bright on the inside, and the atmosphere is more of a family place than a college town pizza shop. In fact, I was kind of surprised they even serve alcohol.Although they don’t serve much of it – only a few on draft (Bud Lite, Yuengling, and a couple of Great Lakes specialites), domestics in bottles, and some wines.

We all went for the Miller Lite bottles – except, of course, for original Ted, who went with the Great Lakes Nosfuratu. Which is something none of us can even pronounce, much less drink. And to which we all joked “What did you order Ted? … Nostradamous? … God Bless You? … No Soup For You?” Because we’re 12.

Belleria bills itself as an Italian eatery, which it most definitely is. But they also have a very extensive menu, with everything from pizza to sandwiches to salads to pastas – so don’t rule the place out even if you aren’t actually in the mood for Italian food.

Case in point, the appetizer menu has selections seemingly from the county fair circuit. Ted got the fried zucchini sticks. Because, “that’s a vegetable, right?” Um, sure. Meanwhile, Shane ordered the fried veggie basket. We’ll get to why he regretted that later in a minute.

It's still a vegetable even if it's deep fried, right?

It’s still a vegetable even if it’s deep fried, right?

Food we clearly didn't need to order.

Food we clearly didn’t need to order.

For entrees, I went with the baked rigatoni with sausage. It was basically a bowl of rigatoni, with spicy hot sausage, covered with melted mozzerella cheese. Being that I’m not cheese-hater Ted, there really is nothing bad I can say about that. I only ate about half of it – because, well, pasta is filling – but I will admit I’m already dreaming about the leftovers for lunch or dinner.

There's pasta under there somewhere

There’s pasta under there somewhere

Amanda had the meatball sub. Which she was disappointed didn’t come with melted cheese on it, even though the waitress told her it did. Because, really, shouldn’t pretty much everything in an Italian place just be assumed to be covered in melted cheese? She also took half home.

I should've donated some cheese to Amanda's sandwich

I should’ve donated some cheese to Amanda’s sandwich

Jenny had the pulled pork sandwich. To which Shane exclaimed “who orders pulled pork at an Italian place” when she ordered it … but then was a tad bit jealous once it arrived. She said it was delicious.

Jenny takes the "original" prize for ordering off the non-Italian menu

Jenny takes the “original” prize for ordering off the non-Italian menu

The boys both got pizza. And here’s where we see why Shane really didn’t need that appetizer. Let’s just say that “healthy, moderately fun Shane” has clearly left the building. Most likely still reeling over his jealously from Ted’s double stack burger at The Game a few weeks ago, Shane wasn’t taking any chances this time around. He ordered a half sheet of the Sausage Diablo pizza – despite Ted’s “Um, do you really think that’s a good idea?” protest. And I think Ted just voiced what we all were thinking. I mean, a half sheet of pizza? For himself. For real?

But if Shane was confident, then Ted wasn’t one to be upstaged – so he also ordered a half sheet, but of the Meat Lovers. Well played.

Although Ted did once again voice his concern when they placed their orders and the waitress told them that a half sheet really was, actually, a full sheet. As in twelve square pieces. As in more than enough for two people, let alone one. As in, are you sure you don’t want to just share one?

Nonsense.

So, yeah, each pizza came served on an actual cafeteria tray, and covered the whole thing. I think all five of us could’ve shared those two pizzas and still gone home with leftovers. (Side note, Jenny was thoroughly embarrassed. To which we replied, consider this initiation. And you ain’t seen nothing yet.)

Oh look, a whole pizza just for me

Oh look, a whole pizza just for me

Seriously

Seriously

In any case, they both liked the pizza. And of course they swapped a few pieces of each, because, well, that’s what they do. They’re such a cute couple. I think they both liked the kind they ordered for themselves best though. Shane said the meat lovers had almost too much meat (insert “that’s what she said” joke here), and that the spicy sausage was, in fact, spicy – but still good (insert yet another “that’s what she said” joke here). Ted was a little too busy making yummy food noises to be reached for comment (insert another … oh, never mind).

Overall Belleria is a good place if you want a wide variety of menu selections, or are really in the mood for Italian food. Much like JoJo’s in Medina, if we lived closer I could see this being a staple for take out or a place to go on those nights when no one can agree on one specific type of food that they want to eat, since they have a little of everything on the menu. But honestly there was nothing overly special about the place that makes it worth the drive from our area. Being that Ted is working in close proximity, though, no doubt he’ll be back on his lunch in the near future. Maybe he should’ve just asked to leave his leftover pizza in the back for him to claim on his next visit?

I'm sorry, where are we again?

I’m sorry, where are we again?

Ted, honey, squirrels don't like that.

Ted, honey, squirrels don’t like that.

I'm not sure I want to ask what was really in that pizza

I’m not sure I want to ask what was really in that pizza

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks: Eh. Three or four beers on draft, regular domestics in bottles. And wine, which we didn’t try, but I guess you have to have if you’re an Italian place. 
Food:
 Impressive array on the menu, from pizza to pasta to sandwiches. If you can’t find something that at least sounds good enough to order there may be something wrong with you.
Service: Good. It wasn’t busy, so we did get plenty of attention. And in contrast to other times when we’ve had to ask repeatedly for glasses of water, this time we were given a full pitcher without even asking. Karma.
Overall: While it was good – and Ted will likely be a frequent visitor of this place for lunch while he’s working in the neighborhood – I’m not sure that it’s special enough for us to make the trip back to Kent on a regular basis.

Next Pick: Shane

WTGW 10/8/14: Newdle Bar, Kent

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Ah, Kent. Thank you for reminding me that my college days, way back in the 90’s, were so much different from what the kids are enjoying these days. A sushi place close to campus? Please. In my day the closest thing we got to “ethnic” was Taco Bell on the way home from the bar. Run for the border, yo.

But yet we continue to venture out here, because it’s a close enough drive and, well, they keep opening new restaurants so really we’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t check them out. You’re welcome, world.

We thought Newdle Bar was a fairly new place, since none of us had – in all our recent travels to Kent – ever realized it existed. And, as I just mentioned, we are clearly very much on the cutting edge of dining in our area . Plus, you know, since Shane “discovered” sushi a few months ago, we’ve always kind of got one eye and ear open for new places to try.

But then I saw a flyer on the back of the restroom door advertising “New July hours!” … and right then I realized that a) they’re clearly not that new, and b) they’re clearly not all that concerned about updated marketing. Oh well.

The restaurant isn’t a huge place, but the layout is very open with a few different seating styles, so it felt bigger than what it really was. Although when we walked in and asked for a “party of 5” the host kind of just looked at us funny and then disappeared for a minute, like he had to ask for help with seating a table that large. Clearly we stumped him.

For a place called Newdle Bar, I was surprised to find there wasn’t a huge noodle selection on the menu. Seems odd, no? Maybe I’ve been spoiled by places like Noodlecat in downtown Cleveland – which has a clever play on the title, as well as a fairly large and interesting assortment of ramens, sobas and other noodle-based dishes on the menu. The majority of Newdle Bar’s menu is actually sushi, with just a small selection of Japanese noodles or rice bowls available. Because I guess there’s no clever way to spin “sushi” into a restaurant name.

But no matter, because sushi was really what we were there for anyway. Well, most of us anyway. This week’s WTGW featured a special guest – our friend Jenny, who just moved back with her family to the area after two years in North Carolina. And while I forgot to get an introductory picture of her to share with all of you, remember her name, as she may be appearing for future WTGW adventures. In any case, Jenny, like me a few months back, had tried sushi in the past and had a bad experience. And had written it off as yucky, not to be ordered again. She was the only one of us not to actually order sushi as their meal … although Amanda did convince Jenny to try some of hers. And she didn’t spit it out, even considering it was heavily flavored with wasabi. Sushi – 1, Dietary Aversions – 0. Score.

I barely remember a time I didn't like these

I barely remember a time I didn’t like these

Another score – our server told us that Wednesday’s are $5 martini night. Although he also shared with us a story about how all of the martinis actually used to be just $5, but the price changed “because probably they really weren’t making any money on them and so they raised the prices and just made Wednesdays the special $5 night.” Um, OK. Pretty sure you weren’t supposed to be sharing that info, but thank you for that delightful little insight into your manager’s crafty business skills. And we’ll just call you TMI from now on.

So being that they were clearly a bargain – well, and that we love martinis – us girls dove right into that list. Amanda and I started with the Marilyn Monroe, which was a delicious blend of strawberry vodka, cream and chocolate sauce … and pretty much tasted just like Strawberry Nestle’s Quik. Jenny had the Tsunami, which was Bailey’s, brandy, cream and caramel. And equally as delicious. For our second round later we switched it up, with Amanda ordering the Tsunami and Jenny ordering the Marilyn. I went kamakazi and got the Key Lime Pie, which was a bit too limey for my tastes but otherwise OK.

That's $15 well spent

That’s $15 well spent

Ted had a Dogfish Head beer on tap, and Shane continued his quest to make sure that all ethnic restaurants are properly chilling their bottles of Miller Lite.

Ted ordered endame as appetizer, which be pretty much kept to himself since none of us really wanted to touch it. Amanda and I tried it and weren’t impressed. Honestly I found it confusing. I mean, do you eat the outside, or no? All the seasoning seemed to be there, but when I tried it that way it had the consistency of leather. Not a fan.

As the only one to stray from the sushi menu, Jenny ordered the rice bowl. Which ironically came out quicker than any of our fresh made sushi. Hmmm. Even TMI was slightly thrown off by that. In any case, it didn’t look to be overly seasoned and was pretty much just chicken and veggies over rice. A lot of rice. It was quite a bit of food, and Jenny ended up taking half of it home.

Jenny fills in as the "one of these things is not like the other" order

Jenny fills in as the “one of these things is not like the other” order

Shane, Amanda and I all had various selections from the 6-roll menu. Mostly Philadelphia, Alaskan and one with shrimp and avocado. They were all very good; however, as with most sushi, it just never seems to be filling enough. Seriously, can we fix that somehow? More rice, larger pieces? I mean, Amanda and I each had two orders and Shane had three – but I think we still might have come to blows over Jenny’s extra food if we hadn’t discovered a frozen yogurt place next door after our meal.

Looks like a lot but just isn't filling

Looks like a lot but just isn’t filling

To that end, Ted was maybe the smartest of the sushi eaters, ordering two of the extra large double rolls (which come in 8’s). He had the Dragon and the Black Widow, both of which he enjoyed – and politely offered to the rest of us in an attempt to keep the peace as he was still eating and we were hungrily staring down his non-empty plate. Amanda did try one and agreed that it was just as good as what we had already devoured.

Such presentation

Such presentation

Overall Newdle Bar is a good place. It definitely caters to the college crowd as far as atmosphere and kind of bare-bones decor, but the food was good and reasonably priced for a sit-down place. The wait staff is pretty much all college students, but other than the bit of oversharing that earned him his nickname at the beginning of the visit, TMI was efficient and pleasant and got everything correct. He noticed when drinks needed refilled and was quick to ask if plates could be moved out of the way.

Did I mention we were still hungry after we left? Thankfully there was a self-serve frozen yogurt place right next door, so we headed in for some dessert. The flavors were to die for – including pumpkin pie and graham cracker swirl, strawberries and cream, cake batter, waffles and about 15 others I’m blanking on right now. And the topping bar was just as long as the flavor area, with everything from healthy fruits to gummy bears to candy pieces and actual pumpkin roll. Naturally we all totally bypassed the healthy section, and went straight to the bad stuff. Because, well, we could. I mean, come on. Who puts strawberries on a sundae when you can have Reece’s Pieces and Kit Kats? For real.

None of the toppings matched the yogurt flavors, but whatevs.

None of the toppings matched the yogurt flavors, but whatevs.

Which could explain how Shane and Ted each ended up making themselves 1.5 pound sundaes. I’m not even exaggerating. 1.5 pounds. Each.

That's nearly 3 pounds of sundae between them.

That’s nearly 3 pounds of sundae between them.

Ted literally licked his bowl clean, but Shane started to deteriorate with probably about a quarter pound of yogurt left in his dish. Eyes, meet stomach. Guess who’s bigger?

He's not looking happy

He’s not looking happy

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Decent alcohol list for a Japanese place – although being in a college town I would guess that’s a must. And you always win points with us for $5 margaritas. Just sayin’.
Food:
 Not a huge selection if you’re not a fan of sushi. Honestly, for a place with a play on the word “noodle” in the title, I would’ve expected that to take up the majority of the menu, but whateves.
Service: Good.  We didn’t see our waiter a ton, but with the open setup of the place I’m assuming it’s because he could see us and assumed we didn’t need anything from him. Drinks were refilled when needed and checks brought promptly, so thumbs up.
Overall: There are less expensive sushi places closer to us, but for a fun night out this place was definitely a good pick.

Next Pick: Ted

 

Newdle Bar on Urbanspoon

WTGW 3/26/14: Ray’s Place, Kent

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This week’s pick is one of those places I’ve always heard the name of – primarily from Kent State alumni or those who frequented the campus – but I really had no idea where it was or anything about it. Truth be told, I think I was expecting Ray’s Place to be more bar and less restaurant – but then again many of the people I’ve had mention the place also graduated some time ago, so maybe over the years it’s changed.

Regardless, Ray’s does have that kind of small town / college bar charm – it’s a bit cramped on the inside, with lots of tables in an area that probably shouldn’t have quite as many, if you know what I mean. But, hey, apparently that means business is booming so good for them.

We did, thank you very much.

We did, thank you very much.

Of course we migrated to a table in the back that was big enough for the four of us plus about four of our friends. But then again we also order a crapload of food for just four people, so it probably pretty much looked like a group of eight was sitting there by the time we got our meals. My bad.

Wednesdays feature Miller Lites on special for $2.75, so of course you know what three of us at the table were drinking. As usual, Ted ordered something different, which I didn’t catch the name of. But it’s good to be back to our “three sames and one of these things is not like the other” ordering pattern.

The other special on Wednesdays is wings, which again just seems like someone made the weekly specials specifically with Shane in mind. He ordered the wings with the “pig rub,” – which sounds disgusting, so he asked about in advance and was told was “sweet and salty.” One wing in, and he was proclaiming them to be in his Top 5, thus dethroning the “amazing” breaded wings from Louie’s last week. He claims he finally sees the error of his ways and really was just craving fried chicken last week, which was why those wings seemed so spectacular. Take that as you will.

A lot of chickens are now wingless because of us.

A lot of chickens are now wingless because of us.

Ted, on the other hand, tried two flavors of wings – the Wasabi and the Caribbean Jerk – and said he honestly wasn’t that impressed with either one. He even left about half a basket or so on the table when we left the place, if that tells you anything (the horror!).

I had the Garlic finger wrap, which is way more awkward to say than anything else. It’s chicken fingers in garlic wing sauce in a garlic wrap with veggies and cheese.  That’s a lot of garlic, folks. It was tasty, but I’m sure I’m gonna regret eating the other half for lunch at the office in a few days and then having to talk to people afterwards. I also had a side order of fries, which were excellent.

No, that's not a burrito.

No, that’s not a burrito.

Amanda had the cuban, which is served on a flatbread and looks oddly like a quesadilla. She said it was delicious. And filling, as she also only ate half of her sandwich. She got the onion rings, too – a small order, which when they arrived looked more like enough to feed the whole table, so we were a little scared what the large order must look like.

And that's not a quesadilla. How do the pictures make it looks like our side of the table went to a Mexican restaurant?

And that’s not a quesadilla. How do the pictures make it looks like our side of the table went to a Mexican restaurant?

On an educational note, we did learn something on this WTGW, after a nice debate over whether or not the Caribbean Jerk wing spice includes ginger. Since Shane apparently is a ginger connoiseur after all the sushi we’ve been enjoying since our trip to Wasabi House many months ago. We even asked one of the guys working, who was nice enough to check in the back to try and settle our bet. The first response from the kitchen was that the seasoning wasn’t labeled, so the results were inconclusive. However, because I guess he must not be able to just let things lie, the guy later came back to say that one of the other cooks looked it up online and ginger *could* be included. He obviously doesn’t know Shane and how much he will continue to gloat about his super skills tastebuds now. Thanks a lot for that one, overachiever.

That may be why we didn’t feel funny going back to the same guy a bit later to ask about the drinks that the guys at the table next to us were drinking – a light beer that foamed up in the glass similar to the way a draft Guinness does. We grabbed Shane’s new spicemaster friend and inquired what they were drinking, and he knew right off the top of his head that it was Boddingtons – and without skipping a beat a passing waitress chimed in “the cream soda of beers.” Impressive teamwork. And we definitely have to remember that one to try down the line somewhere. We tried daring Shane to walk over to the strangers and ask if he could try a sip of theirs … but he claimed he wasn’t drunk enough yet. If not for his 4AM wake up call the next morning, we might’ve just stayed until that milestone was achieved. Maybe.

The boys in a heated discussion about Dexter. Because that's good dinner conversation.

The boys in a heated discussion about Dexter. Because that’s good dinner conversation.

CAPSULE

Picked by: Amanda
Drinks: Seriously impressive beer cooler, similar to the one at Baxter’s in downtown Akron. When I was in college all we knew how to order was Bud Lite vs. Miller Lite, so obviously things have changed.
Food: 
Good, although once again we ate way too much.
Service: Our server wasn’t extremely personable, but the other guy (who was likely an owner or manager) gets points for putting up with all of our questions. Although he lost points for returning to make Shane right about the whole ginger thing. Seriously, do you have any idea how long we’ll have to hear about that now?
Overall: Definitely worth a return visit. Maybe on a Friday or Saturday night when we want to relive our youth and do the college bar crawl afterwards.

Next Pick: Ted

Ray's Place on Urbanspoon