WTGW 10/18/17: Jilly’s Music Room, Akron

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We really should’ve had an inkling about what this night would hold when we had to get around two road closures and a near miss accident just to arrive at Jilly’s Music Room. Because all great nights start with cheating death, no?

So once we finally got there imagine our disappointment to find that the place was packed and we weren’t able to even get in the door.

Just kidding. We were actually the only ones there. At 7PM on a Wednesday. We had to ask as we walked in if, in fact, they were actually open, because we were a bit surprised to find not a single soul sitting at the bar or at any of the many tables. I mean, I get that the place is a “music room,” so they host bands, open mic nights, special events, etc – and I get that those things start later in the evening. But they also serve food, so we thought it odd that at dinner time they were completely vacant.

Spoiler alert: there’s a very good reason for that. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

So we were told to sit anywhere. Uh, thanks for that. We’ll do our best not to take all of the choice locations, what with the line following behind us and all.

All this being said, imagine our surprise when it took a hot minute for someone to come around with menus. Let’s see, we’re the only patrons here, you talked to us as we came in, you watched us sit down, you know there are no menus of any kind on the table … but yeah, sure, take your time coming around with menus at a place we’ve clearly never visited. Good plan.

Drinks were rather expensive. At least the specialty mixed drinks were anyway. But then again that turned out to be the theme of the evening. Foreshadowing, I guess.

Ted went with an IPA, Cassi got a tequila and soda, Shane went with a Jameson and ginger, and I chose a cider.

Oh, wait, scratch that, they “forgot to order more,” so no cider for me. Guess that curse falls back in my lap.

So the server brings back the drink menu along with everyone’s round of drinks so that I can pick something else … and then pretty much everyone was ready for round two by the time she came back to check if I’d picked anything else out. I must not look thirsty.

After these past few weeks, I have to believe we’ve been cursed by the spirit of awful servers.

So Jilly’s, I believe, falls under the “fancy” category of our WTGW choices. Not only is it a music place, it also features “all gluten free fare.” That’s a far cry from our usual greasy burgers, cheesy pizzas and deep fried wings. Leave it up to Ted to discover this strange world. How did they allow us inside this place anyway?

Shane and I got the potato chips and breaded mushrooms (yes, gluten free breading) as apps.

Gluten free breading does not photograph well

We almost didn’t get the mushrooms, as it seemed a bit much to order two appetizers – even for us. But let me just tell you how glad we were that we did. Because heed this little tip, even though the server will tell you that the potato chips are enough to serve two … well, she’s lying. Or she means two people who only eat one potato chip a piece. I guess people who eat gluten free also eat smaller portions?

Fancy chips not made for two

Cassi got the fried pickles (which, like last week, still aren’t magically free) and a caprese salad. Both were embarrassingly small. Five seconds after those items arrived at the table she was already planning to order more food.

At least they give you both chips AND spears.

The smallest salad in the universe. For $7.00

The curse of “not having things you want to order” quickly passes on from me to Shane, as he chose the kielbasa for his dinner – but then had to re-pick after the server reappeared and said that unfortunately they couldn’t serve that tonight because “it was still too frozen to cook.” Um, what now? Is this the first night this place is open? Were they not expecting people to eat and drink tonight?

They offered him the steak skewers instead. Which sounds OK, but turned out to be the size of a small appetizer.

Far from Ted’s meat on a stick

He also got the signature wings. And while you know how I like to pick on the boys for always ordering enough food for a small army, this time it was well warranted – and still not enough food to even begin to constitute a real dinner.

I mean, look at these wings.

Dainty little wings

Did these come off of specially bred miniature chickens? Were they meant for a children’s menu? I’m so confused.

Ted got the buffalo chicken slider and the steak slider. OK, so you know how sliders are like cute, mini-burgers? Well, these were like mini-sliders. I swear they were each one bite. Because that’s a meal.

That little thing that looks like a charcoal briquette is actually a slider. Yes, seriously.

It’s also worth mentioning that that plate pictured above is $12. For two (mini) sliders. Anyone going to get a meal at Jilly;s should keep that photo above at the front of their brain. Also, I feel the need to relive the $7 steak special story right here for some reason.

Ted also got the red chili wings. You already know where this is going. He said were good, but he needed like seven orders of them to constitute a meal.

Put some meat on those bones, chickens

I got the street tacos. Which when they arrived looked to be the most food out of anyone at the table – including Cassi, who later ordered a brie flatbread just to actually not starve her way through the evening.

Third order is the charm for Cassi, I guess

But they just weren’t that good. Gluten free tacos should not be a thing, I’ll just say that right now. They tasted burnt. The salsa was tasty, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about the meal.

There are tacos under all that greenery, I swear

So let’s recap: anything decent tasting arrived in a portion size fit for an anorexic model, and the one item that looked to be enough food to be considered a dinner portion was awful. We’re totally winning at this week’s pick, no?

Back to my mixed drink that I was finally able to order … it ended up being way too sweet. It sounded really good on the menu (black cherry juice, sage syrup, vodka), but it was like drinking a glass of straight fruit laden with sugar. I guess maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that by the time it arrived there at the table there was really only time for one round on my end?

Cassi and Shane did say that their mixed drinks were well made. That was pretty much the only good thing we could say for the evening. Well, and that we stopped at Dante’s Game Day Grille on the way home to get real beer (for under $5 a glass) and some French fries (a giant basket for just $4! We felt like we’d just hit the lottery) just to redeem the evening.

Overall the presentation at Jilly’s is really good – the food looked gorgeous when it arrived at the table, but the taste and the portion size just don’t even come close to matching the price. It’s definitely far overpriced for what you get – I mean, come on, $7 for a bite sized slider? – and unfortunately the “atmosphere” isn’t enough to redeem that.

Sorry, Jilly’s – you definitely aren’t music to this group’s ears.

Picked by: Ted

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Ted

Jilly's Music Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 10/4/17: Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern, Solon

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Hey kids, today is National Taco Day! Which means we took WTGW … someplace that totally doesn’t sell tacos. Right.

We switched up special guests this week, since my Uncle Dan is in town from Arizona and requested a chance to join our esteemed group for a WTGW out. Or, uh, something like that.

You might have noticed we switched up the picking order this week, as it was supposed to be Ted’s week this week. But with Dan staying in Eastlake, we decided to try to keep things a little more central – so Shane and Ted switched up picks this week since Shane was going toward something in Solon for his next pick anyway.

Technical details, I know.

Speaking of, I tried to tell Shane that he had actually been to the Rusty Bucket before – many years ago, on our way to a football game in Cleveland, we stopped here with some friends. He didn’t remember, until we pulled into the lot in front of the restaurant and suddenly it all started coming back to him. Sort of. So I guess this is a bit of an unorthodox pick, but whatever.

Anyway.

The very bubbly and young hostess told us as we walked in that this was her second day. So of course we countered back that this was our first time ever visiting (well, OK, considering what I just told you technically that was a lie, but just run with it). And so the hostess says to us “well be sure to tell your server it’s your first time here when she greets you, because you can get an order of free pickle chips.”

You have our attention.

Or HAD our attention, until we realized that our young, new hostess may want to clarify that statement with the server before she makes those kinds of promises. More on that later.

Our drinks took forever. It was like they were brewing the beer themselves in the back room. And then what Ted and Dan thought would arrive in draft form actually arrived as bottles. I mean, it’s nice of them to go through the motions of transferring the beer into bottles, but really the draft would’ve been preferred.

I got the Blueberry Bella drink – which, while very good, wasn’t really worth the seven hours it seemed to take to arrive. Are we waiting for the blueberries to harvest and be carted in from the family farm or something?

It takes a long time to make yourself this pretty I guess

The server also told us that Wednesdays are “Whiskey Wednesdays,” which means any whiskey for $7.00. Shane got super excited … but then realized he should’ve really specified the kind of whiskey he wanted in his drink and not just ordered a generic “whiskey and ginger ale” – since he probably didn’t get much out of that deal seeing as some whiskies aren’t exactly even worth $7.00 to begin with.

Ted got hummus as an app. He said it was OK. It probably would’ve been better if he’d had some sliverware to actually get the hummus onto the pita chips instead of having to facilitate a system of scooping it up with other pieces of pita. Again, technicalities.

Little stingy on the pita, no?

Shane told the server what the hostess told us about the fried pickle chips – he was like “so, we were told by the hostess that if we say it’s our first time here then we get free pickle chips” The server just stared at him, so Shane was like “you know, wink wink … ”

Yeah, turns out they were $8.49. Guess Shane needs to work on his wink. And the servers and hostesses need to work on their communication skills.

Also, they were more like spears. Not chips. Maybe we need to get this place a dictionary, and underline the words “free” and “chips.”

Not chips and not free

Being that it’s national taco day and I’d already gotten tacos for lunch, I went wth the taco salad. Which turned out to be more like a mexican pizza. I guess we can add another word to that dictionary we need to work on. The “salad” was a flat tortilla with beef and beans spread over it, and then lettuce, sour cream and cheese on top.

Fancier than Taco Bell

It was OK. I didn’t eat all of it. I mean, it looks pretty and all, but after consuming about half of it it just didn’t seem worth the effort or calories anymore.

And that, my friends, seems to be the theme of the evening: pretty, but not really worth the wait.

Shane asked our server his usual questions about the best thing on the menu, and was told pizza. Sold. Because, Shane.

It turned out to be just OK. I mean, he ate the entire thing – this wasn’t last week, where everything was made of salt – but he said it wasn’t anything special.

Hey Shane got a pizza. That’s new

Ted got the Wednesday special of beef stroganoff. He said it was good up until about the last few bites, when he ended up with a bite that involved a huge chunk of fat. Mmmm. Nothing says that’s a good dish like the fatty part of some beef. We’re not going for the old 96er here folks.

Those may be the widest noodles I’ve ever seen

Dan got chicken fingers and fries. He pretty much felt the same as Shane.

There are fries under there somewhere

Our service was awful. Our server disappeared for long stretches of time and for no good reason, as there were hardly any other tables in the place. We didn’t even see her helping other tables, she was just plain gone from the floor. Maybe she was in the back chewing out the new hostess who probably sat us in her section when she was about to go home – which, whatever, do what you have to, but maybe just giving the table away to another server is the better option? Just a thought. But then again, she also just didn’t seem interested in interacting with anyone, or being there I general. Because that’s a personality plus.

Compound that with the bar, which took seemingly hours to make one round of drinks. I mean, I could see if it was super busy – but we were nearly the last ones there. Did everyone invite their imaginary friends to dine with them tonight? I must’ve missed that memo.

Case in point: Shane and I ask for another round, as does Dan. Meanwhile, Ted asks for the draft list. Which one would assume means he would like to order something different than what he already has, no? Well so the server comes back with another drink for me and Dan, plus a bottle of what Ted had in the first round (whie he’s still looking over the draft list) and nothing for Shane. Um, OK. Seems something got lost in translation there, no?

So basically, let’s review: the food being nothing particularly memorable, plus bad service … means the Rusty Bucket probably won’t end up on the revisit list. I mean, it seems they fixed up the place since the time years ago when Shane and I last visited .. and it’s certainly no house-turned-bar-that-reeked-of-burger-grease like one of our other previous Solon adventures – but they obviously at still a little, as their name implies, rusty.

Geez I crack myself up.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Dan

Ted

Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/27/17: John’s Bar & Grille, Canton

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I didn’t have a lot of time to do my usual scan of all of the review sites prior to picking a place this week, so I was taking a bit of a leap of faith by choosing John’s Bar. Of course after last week’s limited menu fiasco I figured I couldn’t really do so bad, right?

Eh, not so fast. I started to rethink that philosophy pretty much as soon as we walked into this place, and were hit by the smell of … well, the only way to describe it is “old people” Did we get the door to the nursing home instead? Is John’s Bar really just John’s house and he’s been inviting people over for 80 years?

It was also super quiet, even in the bar area. Another indication that we could easily be the youngest people in the place by a good many decades. I was beginning to get nervous that we were on the level of a certain place that starts with a “G” and we try to avoid naming anymore.

Redemption came in the form of a giant list of craft beers. Whew. At least Ted was happy. He got something so dark that later there was a debate about whether a bug had fallen into his drink … and we couldn’t say for certain if it had or not.

Shane, coming off a weekend where he overindulged in that same substance (minus the potential extra protein from bugs), not so much. He went with a Captain and ginger ale. And later switched to my drink of choice, the ginger peach mule, once he relized mine was yummy and that his mixed drink came in a glass clearly made for people with smaller liver capacity.

Our server started out impressing us when she announced she would bring us some waters while we perused the drink menus … and then, noting the crestfalled looks on our faces, announced “screw water, let’s get the drinks in.” That’s the spirit. And she brought the alcohol out BEFORE the waters, another smart move. Although I messed with her when she dropped the waters off by saying “well FINALLY, there’s those waters we’ve been waiting for” – which made her laugh.

Clearly our alcoholism is worn on our sleeves.

It seemed for a bit that this place had Ted written all over it – first the craft beers, then, on the app menu: steak on a stick. Because we all know Ted loves a meat lollipop.

Wait, that sounds bad.

It took us a hot minute to decide on orders. Because that’s what happens when you have a full menu and not two items like last week.

FYI, that probably won’t get old for a while, so you should probably get used to those jokes now.

Shane and I got the chips and dip for an app.

More dip than chips. Well done

It was good, we were impressed with the fact that they give you more than enough dip for the chips – and we’re generous with our dipping, but still had some left over. The dip had really good flavor to it, but some of the chips were soggy and could’ve been cooked longer.

Cassi got the beer cheese and pretzels. She said it was OK. The pretzels were basically the kind you can buy in a box at the grocery store and microwave for 90 seconds after wetting them down and spreading salt on them. For a place that touts making their own pizza dough that seemed a little odd, no?

These took a little longer than 90 seconds to cook

Ted opted for the calamari with peppers. Which unexpectedly came with cheese baked on top – that’s new, and of course cheese-hater Ted was overly thrilled. It was a fun game watching him scrape that off with each bite.

Never thought to ask for no cheese

But he liked it nonetheless. He said it was spicy and the peppers were especially tasty.

Also noted that there were more items in Ted’s calamari than there were on the entire menu last week. Welcome to the new Gus’s joke. See, I told you this won’t get old for a bit

Shane was less amused than all of us. Clearly.

Speaking of Shane, he had ordered wings as part of his meal, and those were also delivered along with the apps, which of course he wasn’t complaining about. Until he tried them, and proclaimed them the saltiest wings he’d ever eaten. Like saltier than the “salt and vinegar flavored wings he occasionally gets at other wing places. Like he may as well have just dipped his finger in a salt shaker and sucked on that instead.

The high blood pressure special

Mmmmm.

Good thing he had that tiny glass of a mixed drink – and no sign of the server for what seemed like an eternity. It’s like the perfect storm of thirst.

Of course I made fun of Shane when he was complaining about having no drink … as there actually was a full mason jar of water sitting in front of him, that just wasn’t what he wanted to drink. That came back to bite me later, when both Cassi and I ordered round two of our drinks … and hers arrived while mine didn’t. For a very long time. Alcoholic karma.

Shane got a pizza as the rest of his meal, which came with a side salad. Shane’s word for the salad was “mushy.” That’s a new one. And the worst part was that he was actually looking forward to that salad – which may be a first, especially when this wasn’t even at a time when he’s being “healthy Shane.” And then it was disappointing that it was so awful.

Mmm, wilted lettuce. My favorite

Cassi and I each got the “Big John” angus burgers. Which didn’t seem all that big when they actually arrived. Interesting. They were also missing cheese. I guess maybe Ted’s request of no cheese translated to all of us? Yeah, no. The server took them back, and they added cheese to the burgers … and stuck the plates under a hot lamp to melt it. Which kind of ruined the burger by making it more well done and dry, and the bread taste weird. I didn’t eat the bread at all, which if you’ve been following along here you know is something you hardly ever hear from me.

Looks great until you lift the lid and notice it’s missing cheese

Ditto

But at least the fries – which were lukewarm to begin with – then became the proper temperature. Score?

Ted ordered the Grecian burger, which he thought was to be made with lamb meat, but he said tasted just like regular meat. OK. But at least he was happy about the lack of cheese on his. He did say it lacked spices, though.

The not-Greek burger. With no cheese. Or salt.

Which apparently was because they all went to Shane, who said that the pizza – just like the wings – was the saltiest pizza he’d ever eaten. OK, either Shane’s taste buds are tuned to “salt” tonight, or this place just likes to play chicken with people’s salt intakes.

Looks better than it tastes

I mean, why in the world would you put salt on a pizza, of all things? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say “I’ll take the ‘triple your salt intake pizza,’ please.” Shane was convinced that he may not be able to open his eyes in the morning due to the swelling.

Although we had to laugh because when the server came back to check on us and asked specifically how the pizza was (since Shane had asked her if it was a specialty there at John’s and she made a big deal about how they make their own dough), Shane could’ve won an Academy Award for the exuberance with which he gushed about how much he liked it. He even took a few pieces home in a to-go box. Which, if you’re playing along at home – the fact that he didn’t finish his (relatively small) pizza there in the restaurant was a clue that he didn’t like it, so I’m surprised he even bothered to take it home. Guess he wants to give high blood pressure another chance to set in? Awesome.

Remember what I said about 80 year olds frequenting the place? So aside from the weird smells and the quiet and the table of old men behind us clearly having their weekly guy’s night dinner out, there was this exchange at the end of the meal:

Server, pointing to the bread basket on the table with thick slices of Italian bread still in it: So, do you want to take the bread home?
(quizzical looks from around the table)
Server, looking at me an Cassi: Maybe you want to make your husbands french toast in the morning?
(more quizzical looks)
Server: We get a lot of older ladies in and they fight over taking that bread home so they can make french toast for their husbands.
Me: Uh, yeah, if my husband wants french toast he can make it his own damn self
Cassi, after the server walked away: Can we just talk about how many things are wrong with that statement? Like, first of all, we have jobs?

I’ll take questionably sexist bread for 1,000 please

Sorry John – your bar won’t be a revisit.

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Shane and his now least favorite condiment

Cassi

Ted

 

John's Bar & Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/20/17: Springfield Tavern, Ellet

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You guys. You know how we’re always joking around that we’re going to go to a place and order ALL THE FOOD because we’re so freaking hungry?

This week we did just that. That’s right – we actually ordered every. single. thing. they had on the menu.

You’ll be far less impressed, I’m sure, when you hear exactly what that entailed. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So Shane didn’t venture far this week from his last amazing pick of Theo’s. Although I guess we can just be glad that at least this time there wasn’t an elderly person’s walker greeting us as we walked in. A slightly intimidating maze of doors, sure, but no walkers or sloppily drunk women trying to find their way out.

The Springfield Tavern is smaller on the inside than what it looks. You don’t hear that very often, right? Maybe it’s all the doors. I only needed one hand to count all the tables in the place. And even though they were larger tables, this didn’t seem like exactly the type of place that welcomes strangers to just plop down beside you at the same table a share a meal.

There are seats at the bar, too, but those seemed to be reserved for people barely able to open their eyes.

Sounds delightful so far, no? And we haven’t even touched on the patio outside where we pretty much witnessed soft porn as we drove into the parking lot.

Ah, Fun Wednesdays, you never disappoint. Especially considering this was the first time out for our special guest Cassi. I won’t be surprised if she opts to never accept an invitation from us on this day of the week ever again.

There’s no draft beer at this place. Slightly surprising, but we all do enjoy a mixed drink so at least there’s that. Ted orders a captain and ginger ale, the rest of us order our other mixed drinks … and the bartender (who is also the server, because, well, I think my living room is bigger than this entire bar) as she walks away recites our order back to us … and has Ted’s as a captain and coke. Ted seemed unfazed.

Cassi: You know you’re getting a Captain and Coke right?
Ted: Really? I don’t think so.

Sure enough, as soon as she makes the captain and coke she yells over “wait, was that coke or ginger ale?”

Cassi: Told you so.

So she makes the right drink – and of course she and the other bartender (who may or may not have actually been on shift, or perhaps was just there hanging out? We never really figured that one out) didn’t let the captain and coke go to waste. Guess those hard of hearing skills can be put to some good use after all.

More evidence that this is definitely a drinker’s establishment: Cassi and I had ordered tequila and sodas, and they asked which kind of tequila. Cassi asked for Don Julio, and they responded that they aren’t allowed to keep that one at the bar anymore because they usually are the ones to drink it all.

Classy.

So here comes the part where we ask for menus … and are told that they are currently “redoing the menu.” Um, OK. But no fear, we were instead directed to the neon dry erase board above the bar showcasing the two options for food at the Springfield Tavern: burgers (two, with fries, for $7.99), and wings (10 for $9.99). That’s it.

Granted those are usually our staples anyway, but it’s funny how once you’re presented with those as the ONLY options, you kind of don’t want them anymore.

Well, except for Ted apparently, who – when Shane looked around the table and asked if we were OK with this (since obviously his extensive google searching for reviews on this place failed to alert him to this conundrum) – promptly replies “Sure, sounds great to me!”

Well great. Now the rest of us look like jackasses if we say we don’t want to stay. Thanks, Ted.

And so, yeah, we ordered everything on the menu. Shane and Ted – not surprisingly – each got both the burgers AND the wings for themselves, while Cassi and I each opted for wings with a side of fries.

Wings, take one: Hot

Wings, take two: Arizona Ranch

Wings, take three: BBQ

And last but not least, Mild

The wings were just OK. They were pretty large, so that was a nice revelation. So large that Cassi and I each left a few of our 10 in the basket by the time our meals were over. Probably could’ve done without the fries, in that case, but honestly I kind of thought those were the best part of the meal.

I’m a sucker for good fries fresh from the fryer

I thought the mild wings had some kick to them – and I’m usually in the “yes, I like spicy things” camp. Cassi said her BBQ wings had some heat to them also, which is unusual.

Although maybe we were both just being babies that night, because Ted buzzed through his Hot wings like they were pretzel sticks. Guess they didn’t have the same habenero peppers in them that the place formerly known as Ripper’s Rock House  uses in their drinks.

Shane didn’t say anything about his wings, which leads me to believe they weren’t that great.

The burgers were sold to us by the server as being “smallish” -and so that’s why you get two of them with the meal. So I guess I was kind of expecting sliders to show up at our table. Yeah, no. They were actually more like the size of a McDonald’s regular hamburger. Not huge, but definitely bigger than sliders. Like I couldn’t probably eaten one burger with fries and been happy. But that’s just me. Of course the boys placed their entries for the clean plate club, as usual.

Basic burger and bun, repeat

The guys said they were definitely frozen patties, not fresh – again, not really a surprise given the locale and the vibe of the place. But they also said weren’t cardboard flavored. Score? And also that something about the bun made them “sweet.”

Yeah, I don’t get it either, just reporting back what they said. Don’t shoot the blog writer.

We had to ask about the giant prize wheel they have behind the bar, which we could see but not make out the actual prize selections up for grabs. The server told us that it’s $1.00 to spin, and you can win such fabulous prizes as “free parking” (in the lot that we certainly didn’t pay to park in), “$2 fireball shots” (is it still winning if you have to shell out more money to claim it? It’s like those emails promising 45 billion dollars in a South African bank account in your name if only you provide your social security number, birth date and a check for $1,000), and “free beer yesterday” (slight time/space continuum issue there in claiming that, I think). Finally, a place that appreciates sarcasm as much as I do.

Although I think she may have glossed over what happens to the $1.00 you donate to spin. If I had to guess I’d say perhaps it goes the same route as the two “accidental” Captain and cokes she made Ted over the course of the evening.

Feeling lucky that day, Ted threw in $1 to spin. He won free beer yesterday, which he assured us tasted fantastic.

We all agreed that there was decent people watching … and by that I mean there was lots of epic facial hair, and what I can only assume to be regulars that we were glad left well before we also ventured back out onto the roadways. Maybe getting rid of that menu wasn’t such a good choice after all. I should also mention that while the story about “currently redoing the menu” made it sound like this is a temporary situation, the server seemed pretty happy about the fact that there were only two options up for grabs. So who knows if that will actually change back. Or maybe they just need to start offering “free bread and water” on that magic prize wheel of theirs.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Shane

Ted

Steph

Cassi

WTGW 9/7/16: New Era, Akron

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

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

Because that’s fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More fried stuff

More fried stuff

We should just bring our own deep fryer with us

We should just bring our own deep fryer with us

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

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

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

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

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

Don't let the size fool you.

Don’t let the size fool you.

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

"I'd like an extra ball, please"

“I’d like an extra ball, please”

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

Fried, fried and kinda, sorta vegetable

Fried, fried and kinda, sorta vegetable

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

Chicken, are you ready for your closeup?

Chicken, are you ready for your closeup?

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

But aside from OnionGate she said things were good.

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

Chilled chili = not as impressive

Chilled chili = not as impressive

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

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Imitating Amanda

Imitating Amanda

Ted

Ted

Imitating Shane

Imitating Shane

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

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

???

???

Practicing his cheerleading moves

Practicing his cheerleading moves?

Whatever.

Whatever.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jerrid

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

WTGW 3/23/16: Memories Fine Food & Spirits, Richfield

Standard

“Mem-ries … light the corners of my mind … Misty water-colored mem-ries … of the way we were …”

Yeah, just try to get that out of your head for the next day or so. And join the club.

And I think the memories of this restaurant will fade far sooner than that song takes to leave any of our minds. “Not Memorable” woud’ve been a better name for the place.

Oh wait, did I give away the ending of this review too soon? Rats.

So none of us are really sure how we missed picking Memories until now, because it didn’t seem like we recently missed a grand opening, and the building itself clearly isn’t new. In fact, as we drove through the parking lot I believe Shane’s words were “oh look, it’s an old Arby’s.” Because we know how comfortable he is in converted fast food joints. We could only hope they would have booster seats … but alas, we were disappointed.

It wouldn’t be the last time of the evening, just FYI.

Because this is, in fact, an old fast food establishment, it translates into a strange set up for a bar & grille. You walk in on the side of the place – like you do for most fast food places – which means you immediately face the giant horseshoe bar with seats all around and a few small tables to the sides. So basically if you’re like us and have anything over a group of four, you’re out of luck for seating in the bar area and get stuck over in the “dining room.”

I mean, unless you want to be really mean and make one person from your group sit my themselves at another table. Or are lucky enough to score five or six seats together at the bar. We clearly are not that cruel or resourceful. *sigh*

And let’s face it, the dining room is just not so fun. Just calling it the dining room, instead of the bar, is like telling us we’re sitting at the kid’s table with plastic silverware while all the cool adults get to have fun with sharp knives in the other room. In this case, the fine amenities in Memories dining room include small TVs with no sound, and servers who apparently aren’t happy to be there.

Yay us!

The next thing we noticed about Memories is that the menu is all over the place. Like there are no specialties here, or one particular type of food that they feature prominently. They’ve got a few burgers and sandwiches. Ok. And then there was probably the largest selection of salads I think I’ve ever seen in any of our WTGW picks … not to mention an actual salad bar. There’s a first. Then you’ve got your pizza and pasta (so the Italian section), seafood, Mexican (including an insert to the menu touting new Chipotle-esque rice bowls and burritos), and what’s a good bar and grille without a fine selection of German food?

Right.

So since we were all a bit confused, of course Shane does his customary “what’s good here?” ask of the server, to get a feel for what people usually order, or what she recommends.

Her response: “Yeah, the food’s good.”

Um, OK. Points for being super helpful, thanks.

When pressed she finally admitted that the German stuff was good. And all of the new Mexican dishes. Oh, and the burgers.

So, wait … what did we leave out exactly?

Also, as she noticed me looking at the beer list on the back of the menu trying to figure out what to order she announced “Oh, yeah, that’s outdated. They’re printing new ones soon.” Which you would think would be followed up with a helpful “But let me just tell you what we do have instead.”

But you would be wrong.

So naturally Shane and I went the easy route and just blurted out Miller Lites as our drink. Ted asked for dark beer and ordered one she said they had … but then she came back and said they didn’t have it anymore. And of course didn’t offer an alternative … because, well, her. So Ted basically just told her to bring him the darkest beer she could find.

Are you picking up on the fact that really our server wasn’t exactly the highlight of our evening? Not the most personable, that one. It’s like someone forgot to tell her that being a server does in fact involve actually talking to the customers.

Jerrid and Amanda were late to the party since Amanda started a new job and works later hours now. So Shane, Ted and I went ahead and started with apps. Which included a veggie basket for Shane and I – which sounds way healthier than it is since they leave the “fried” out of the title (but it was in the description so don’t think we were horribly surprised – please, do you really you think Shane would actually order a huge plate of plain vegetables?) and also six of the cajun wings for each of the boys.

Ted’s first comment upon trying the wing was that they tasted like breadcrumbs mixed with cayenne pepper. Because that sounds appealing. They didn’t have a lot of flavor at all. I mean, the guys still ate them anyway (please) – but they definitely weren’t the best ever.

Mmm, breadcrumbs. Delicious.

Mmm, breadcrumbs. Delicious.

Meanwhile I picked up a fried veggie and lost about 10 layers of skin on the roof of my mouth when I bit in. Were these cooked on the surface of the sun? For real. Also interesting – the fried veggies come served on a bed of french fries. Because why leave out potatoes? Or more things fried? Seriously. But the fries were actually really, really good. Like so good that I would’ve traded some of the breadcrumb-laden-and-deep-fried veggies for more fries.

Just dump a bunch of stuff in the fryer and cook it at 1,000 degrees

Just dump a bunch of stuff in the fryer and cook it at 1,000 degrees

We ordered before the other two arrived, and our food got there just as they showed up. Which proved slightly helpful for them when the annoyed-because-two-more-people-just-showed-up-that-she-now-had-to-converse-with server came by about two seconds after they sat down to ask what they wanted.

Shane ordered the eggplant parm, one of his usual favorites at Italian places so he thought why not try it at this non-descript bar & grille. Good plan. And it looked promising when it arrived, as a giant plate of food appeared in front of him. So of course he was super excited … until he tasted it. And then he was extremely sad that he had this much food sitting in front of him that, while he was hungry, he wasn’t excited at all to eat. He said the noodles were very greasy, and overall just not good. Now, I’m not sure how you make noodles greasy, but apparently somehow they managed.

Lots of food. Not a lot of taste.

Lots of food. Not a lot of taste.

He actually even had to switch to diet coke (without rum, gasp!) because the beer was not mixing well with the giant plate of grease noodles.

Ted got the German sampler platter, which is goulash, spitzel, wiener schnitzel, cabbage, and probably a few other really German sounding things – because it also was a huge plate of food. Ted said the best thing on his plate was the red cabbage, which should tell you something.

The view from the German side of the table. Prost!

The view from the German side of the table. Prost!

Ted: As goulash these noodles are terrible. But as beef stroganoff it’s actually pretty good.

Take that as you will.

Rounding out the ethnicity of our table, I got the taco salad. Which my had far too little cheese. Did they think I was Ted and take it all out? I also think I discovered a carrot in there. Because nothing says Mexican food like carrots. So basically to sum up my meal, they just put some bagged salad in the fried shell, topped it with some grade E meat, some super spicy salsa and just a tiny pinch of cheese. Ole!

Maybe they just made this at the salad bar before bringing it over

Maybe they just made this at the salad bar before bringing it over

As mentioned, Jerrid and Amanda arrived just as we were being served our food – as Jerrid laid eyes on Shane’s huge plate of food he was like, yes, that’s what I want, looks great. But fortunately Shane warned him of the greasy noodles … so Jerrid ordered the chicken parm instead. OK. Um, didn’t really avoid the noodles, but way to be different.

Taken with the "extra greasy" photo filter

Taken with the “extra greasy” photo filter

You’ll be glad to know it wasn’t any better. Jerrid rated it mediocre at best.

Amanda got the buffalo chicken sandwich with fries. She agreed that the fries were good. And she said that the sandwich wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t particularly memorable either. Which, when the name of your place is Memories, maybe you need to rethink your menu just a tad. Or hire a new cook. Whatever.

Just eat the fries. Trust us here.

Just eat the fries. Trust us here.

So, yeah, as you can probably already tell, this was definitely not high on our list of best places ever. From the weird atmosphere (who has TVs with no sound when there’s not even a jukebox or other music playing overtop to help drown out the silence?), to the brisk and unhelpful service (just order something, who cares if it’s good?). to the not so great food … well, let’s just say this is one memory we won’t be reliving any time soon.

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Unabomber ... I mean Jerrid

Unabomber … I mean Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks: They have some, but good luck figuring out what they are if you’re stuck sitting in the dining room. Back to the old college “go basic” rule, I guess.
Food: They have that, too, but I really wouldn’t recommend ordering any of it.
Service: Strike three.
Overall: I think what we’ve learned here is that the whole “fine food and spirits” line on the sign is severely misleading. Perhaps “Unmemorable in all ways” might be a better tagline?

Next Pick: Amanda

Memories Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/23/15: Prestier Pub, Canton

Standard

Apparently we’re on a Canton kick lately. Hey Cuyahoga Falls peeps, build some new places!

So, fair warning, Prestier Pub is way shady looking from the outside. Like beyond most of the places we’ve visited in the past, and that’s really saying a lot. It’s located at the tail end of a strip plaza (hey, another one! surprise!) that I think has more available spaces than rented ones. And those that are occupied are filled with things like a church (because God preaches best in a former empty storefront), a dollar store (duh, that’s a strip plaza staple) and a place advertising “real human hair extensions” (enough said).

Keepin it classy, Canton.

Plus if you come in the back way – like we did, thanks Google Maps – you’ll be looking at the very side end of the building and not the front of it … which isn’t the best view. Give that a minute to seep in, considering what I just told you about this plaza. We actually drove all the way around the back of the building just to park in the lot out front. I think we’re all feeling fortunate it was still daylight when this part of the adventure occurred.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because as an avid reader of restaurant reviews myself, I felt like I was at least somewhat prepared for these sights upon arrival, just based on what, well, essentially everyone in the known universe (or the Akron/Canton area, whateves) had said about Prestier already. I believe the most common phrase was something to the effect of Prestier being the epitome of dive bar … but that the food was really good, so it was worth the adventure.

I’m not sure we’d all use the words “really good” to describe the meals we had here … but I think we’d all agree that the menu was definitely a surprise compared to what you would think a place like this would serve you. Dive bar usually means bar food: greasy burgers, frozen chicken wings, deep fried anything. Instead we had actual meals. Like pasta with seafood. And garlic bread. And dinner salads.

Hmm.

We sat out on the front patio on our visit – partially because 1.) it seemed pretty packed and non air-conditioned inside the bar, 2.) we weren’t really certain how the whole seat yourself vs wait for a hostess to seat you situation was played out there, and 3.) it was actually nice enough to sit outside. Did you hear that Mother Nature?? It’s mid-September, and we still sat out on a patio. It may have gotten dark about 3.2 seconds after we sat down, and of course there wasn’t much to help illuminate the table other than the giant “OPEN” sign on the door (ambiance, be damned) – but we were still on a patio. So there. Guess we haven’t done that for so long that you forgot that you’re supposed to crap all over us weather-wise on Wednesdays, eh? Ha ha. Tricked ya.

Although, side note, my mention above about the darkness of the patio should be taken into consideration when viewing the photos from this visit. Then again, it kind of just looks like we lived inside of an Instagram filter for the evening. Take that, hipsters.

In any case, whether it was because we essentially sat ourselves out there or because the patio is apparently not commonly used for meals on September evenings after dark, it took a hot minute for our server to come find us. In fact I think Ted actually had to go inside at one point and just alert someone – anyone – that we were, in fact, sitting out there. But once she finally was able to come greet us it was all good from there.

The Harvest Pumpkin Shandy from last week has become the new group favorite, as me, Ted and Amanda all jumped on that as soon as we saw it on the seasonal list. One of us clearly needs to buy stock in Leininkugel Brewing Company. And hard alcohol of some kind, too, as Shane is apparently still in his “sissy drink” phase. Which equated to  two Long Islands (which he swore later were actually whiskey sours) and then a switch to rum and diet. Or just rum. It was hard to say.

We had a special guest with our group this week, Amanda’s boyfriend Jerrid. Who ironically enough actually has a history with our group and the whole WTGW experience, as that’s how the two of them met. I know, right? It’s a story for another time, folks, but let’s just say that if they ever get married I have a strong feeling I know where the reception might be. Ha.

Since we were now a group of five, clearly that was just begging us to order more food. I mean, really. We hardly ever order enough for just us, and now there’s another mouth at the table? For real. I think we miscounted, though, because the sheer number of appetizers alone was probably enough to feed us and half the people gathered around the cool-ass bar inside Prestier. We joked that we probably should just pull another table over near ours and make an appetizer buffet that we could all graze through over the course of the evening.

It’s really too bad that most of the apps and wing orders came out at a different time than the other actual meals or else the picture of the entire table covered in just plates of food would’ve been spectacular. Or sad. Whatever.

Jerrid ordered the Southwest egg rolls, which sounded weird but were actually really good. They were like tiny bean burritos rolled up in a shell and deep fried. So, really, how can you go wrong there?

Tiny fried burritos

Tiny fried burritos

Ted jumped on ordering the calamari, after he nearly fell out of his chair in shock that Shane didn’t do so himself. We all tried some of it, and agreed it was excellent. It definitely had a spicy kick to it, but that just made it better. And the garlic sauce that came with it was equally fantastic – so much so that we made a point to ask what kind of sauce it was.

It's definitely fresh

It’s definitely fresh

Side note – had we waited until the end of our meals, we wouldn’t have had to ask. I’m going to break some glass for everyone reading this: the not-so-secret ingredient in everything at Prestier is garlic. And salt. Or maybe garlic salt. In any case, I’m not sure we had one item this evening that didn’t have garlic of some kind in it.

I kind of feel like there should really be a giant vampire in a red circle with a slash across it on the front door of this place. It seems like a lost marketing opportunity somehow.

The guys all also ordered wings as apps – because, clearly, wings aren’t just enough to be meals on their own anymore. My bad. Plus a dozen wings were only $5.99. Wait, what? Exactly. It’s like they had to order them just on principle after seeing that.

To the same point, Ted ordered two pork chops – because, well, to order just one chop was only $4.00 less than ordering two, so why the hell not? Clearly we need a lot of fancy marketing to encourage this group. His meal came with mashed potatoes and asparagus, all of which he said was really good, but just very salty. See comments above on that one.

Not the presentation you'd expect from a dive bar

Not the presentation you’d expect from a dive bar

Jerrid got a cheeseburger with “all the cheeses.” That’s not actually the name of it, or how it’s prepared … but when the waitress gave him three cheese options to choose from, Jerrid’s response was just “yes.” So if you like cheese, remember that’s apparently an option.

All the cheeses, please

All the cheeses, please

Also, Jerrid is essentially the exact opposite of Ted. It’s like finding your reverse doppleganger.

Amanda and I were both a bit ready to take a break from burgers and wings and all things deep fried, and went the pasta route this week. I had the Seafood Pasta in the olive oil (not creamy) sauce. Which was good, but almost had too much going on in one dish. Two big pieces of shrimp, 4 or 5 mussels, scallops, large mushrooms, spinach … and of course pasta. Because nothing in that list sounds filling at all, thanks. Amanda also was pushing the last remnants of her meal – the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken – around her plate for a while, trying to find room to fit it all into her stomach.

Seafood extravaganza

Seafood extravaganza

You know what we did leave on our plates, though? The full cloves of garlic. It only takes biting into one of those once to realize you want to do your best to avoid that experience again. Which, as mentioned previously, is easier said than done in this particular establishment.

Cooked with love. And garlic

Cooked with love. And garlic

Shane took advantage of some of the group’s previously mentioned mad review-reading skills, and ordered the full rack of ribs off the “specials” menu. Because, in addition to warning us on the shadiness of the place, everything we read in advance also said that if the ribs were available on special, you should definitely order them. And, knowing Shane, you know that ordering ribs doesn’t require much arm twisting. So there’s that. They came with two sides, so he got the garlic mashed potatoes and the garlic toast. Which really could’ve just been called “mashed potatoes” and “toast,” because I think at this point the garlic is just implied in everything.

No, that's not a smoker's lung

No, that’s not a smoker’s lung

Also, his wing flavor from his appetizer? Honey garlic. Which was completely gross. I mean, he still powered through – this is WTGW after all, we don’t waste food. But still. Enough already. There’s a nearby garlic farm somewhere that stays well in business just from this place alone. 

Honey + garlic = no thank you

Honey + garlic = no thank you

So all in all, Prestier isn’t horrible. I mean, on our rating scale, it’s definitely no Gus’ Chalet. But it’s also not up to what the 4.5 – 5-star ratings we saw on the other reviews would imply.  While it’s definitely a nice change to be able to get more “dinner-ish” type meals than sandwiches and fries – especially at a dive bar – it wasn’t something any of us were running back to rave to our friends about, either. And the novelty of ordering meals like that in a place like this will really only get you so far if the actual food quality isn’t there. Wings aside, some of the meals – particularly my pasta dish, and basically anything involving seafood – were really a bit pricey, especially considering the atmosphere. Also, our bottles of beer were warm – and while she did realize this and bring us cold glasses with the first round, those glasses weren’t replenished along with the new (still warm) bottles. I’d have to say that even if I found myself in this area again – which, I mean, let’s be honest, unless I have a sudden desire to invest in some “real hair extensions,” is probably a resounding not-a-chance-in-hell – I’m not sure this would be the first name to come to mind on my list of must re-visits.

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane. And the infamous “OPEN” sign lighting the patio

Ted

Ted, whose thumb blends into his shirt

Amanda

Amanda

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  If warm seasonal beer and mixed drinks that may or may not be what you actually ordered are your thing, then you’re in the right place. 
Food:
Vampires beware. And whatever is repulsed by salt. Those may be the only two spices this place owns.
Service: OK. I mean, yes, we did kind of seat ourselves. And I realize the patio isn’t all that appealing after dark. But to say we felt ignored at first would be an understatement.
Overall: I’m puzzled at how this place gets decent reviews. While I’ll admit it was different getting real meals in a dive bar atmosphere, that novelty doesn’t appeal enough to any of us to warrant a return trip.

Next Pick:  Amanda