WTGW 8/9/17: Brewster’s Tavern, Munroe Falls

Standard

Once upon a time we visited a place called Brewsters, tucked back just off Rt 91 in Twinsburg. This is not the same place. But oddly this Brewsters (with no website, just a Facebook page) is also on Rt 91, just further south, a few towns away. I wonder if they’re friends. Or if people in that area just are really, really unoriginal with names.

This Brewsters is also just down the road from Lemongrass Grill, which is another place I had semi-forgotten about but that seriously begs a revisit from us. It was also my backup plan if this Brewsters had looked a little sketch from the moment we entered the parking lot.

Fortunately we didn’t have to worry. While it didn’t end up at the top of our must-revisit list, Brewsters is one of those places that I could see us stopping in at if we happened to be in the area and wanted to grab a quick bite or a drink. We joked that if we lived in the house next door – whose side windows face the open kitchen door – we would likely just yell our orders over every evening. And weigh 400lbs, but that’s a whole other story.

This place is very small – in fact, it reminded me immediately of my last pick, Manchester Tavern. Is it bad that all my picks are starting to resemble one another? I may need to get off of the bar and grill train.

In any case, like Manchester Tavern, the place is sort of split between two areas – at the front, a bar area with seats around it and a small area for high top tables, and at the back a secluded dining room that no one seems to ever actually use. In between are the kitchen, restrooms – and in the case of Brewsters, a series of doors we aren’t really certain on the purpose of.

It’s like they’re trying to make wood paneling out of doors

Ted even tried on our way out to open all three of them. They were locked. Secrets build walls, people. Also, don’t tempt drunk people to procure their own lock pickers.

Once again our lives resemble this show

There’s also a door that leads out to the parking lot and patio, as well as a totally separate door about 5 feet to the side of it that leads also to the patio … and parking lot. I mean, it’s a small patio. Two doors is a bit overkill. But compared to the three on the opposite wall inside that lead to nowhere, I guess it works.

Anyway.

While we’re noticing doors, Shane was quick to point out that at least the men’s room was very clearly marked. I think this will begin to be a part of the rating curve after last week.

No camouflage here

There was a decent mix of crafts and domestics on draft. Shane got his usual Bud Lite, I had the Fat Head’s Bumbleberry, and Ted went with something called Truth. Take that as you will.

All beers arrived in glasses so cold they had ice forming on the side. Another plus on Shane’s list.

Now that’s a cold beer

Once again we flabbergasted (or maybe just annoyed?) a server with the amount of food three people can order and attempt to fit on one small table. We’re getting good at this. I think as we kept adding more and more to our order she was mentally contemplating the ratio of the number of sheets remaining on her pad of paper versus what remained on the menu that we may still want to shovel down our throats.

The aftermath. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew

Shane and I started out with breaded mushrooms – which, honestly, arrived seemingly missing a few pieces. There just didn’t seem to be as many in the basket as I had anticipated or imagined in my head that there would be. But they did arrive straight from that oven strategically placed on the surface of the sun, so score for us I guess. And of course I let hunger cloud my judgement in reaching for one a mere two minutes after they were set on the table in front of me. I’d like to say I learned my lesson and won’t do that again … but we all know that’s not true. Stay tuned next week for another exciting episode of “what will idiot Steph scald the roof of her mouth with this week.”

Even worse, that pain wasn’t even for something amazing. The mushrooms were just OK. My main gripe was with the breading, which I was glad was not as hard as last week’s adventure with cauliflower, but conversely it seemed a little on the mushy side. It’s like we’re stuck in some Goldilocks and the Three Bears vortex of fried vegetables. Fingers crossed that next week will be the “just right” we’ve been waiting for.

Too few and too soft

I got the Big Daddy Wrap, which is basically two burger patties inside a wrap – not chopped up, mind you, but just laid on the wrap and rolled up, which seemed odd – along with lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles and sauce. I’m a sucker for these kind of warps, and I’m happy to say this one didn’t disappoint. It was very filling – like I was physically uncomfortable after eating the whole thing – and the flavor was delicious. It was messy, but most good things are, right?

This is how you wrap up deliciousness

I also got a basket of fries, which were totally unnecesary considering the size of the wrap and also the fact that we had an app as well. Can we just talk for a moment about how to some degree it should be the server’s job to potentially warn us against these things? Like maybe she could warn me that the wrap is really like eating two thin burger patties in one sitting, and maybe I should take my hunger vision off for a minute and contemplate what that really means? Or, when I specifically ask if the wrap comes with anything as a side, she could mention that no, because you won’t need all that food, sweetie? Just a thought. I mean, do a girl a solid here. Unless you want to be in charge of rolling me out one of the myriad of doors later.

These were pointless

Also, so I ask if the sandwich comes with anything and she says no … so I order a basket of fries from the app menu. It’s $2.95, whatever. Well later, upon further inspection of the menu, I see that you can add a side of fries to any wrap or burger for like $1.50. So, OK, that slipped your mind when I asked? Like why have me order a whole separate basket, when you could say hey, pigalicious, maybe you just want the side for $1.50 (and about 4 billion calories) less?

Right.

Moving on.

Shane got the Blue Bacon Burger. I’ll give you three guesses what was on that, and if you don’t say bacon or bleu cheese then you should probably just leave this blog right now and never come back. He said it was very good. So in case you lost your “Shane’s Scale of Deliciousness” decoder ring, that means he really liked it. To translate, Shane’s rating system has three levels: good, very good, or Top 5. So this was a step above the usual, but not so good that it made his ubiquitous Top 5.

There’s a burger under that bun, I swear

He also said that even though they hadn’t asked how he wanted it cooked (usually a telltale sign that either it’s a frozen patty and will be very thin – which this wasn’t – or that they just cook everything medium well to avoid having to put anything back on the grill for those that freak out at the sight of red meat) – but it was still done just how he likes it.

He also got 10 of the boneless wings, which were on special (along with a side of fries) for $6.95. He chose cajun as the seasoning. He said they were OK, nothing special.

Looks similar to last week’s breaded cauliflower

His food twin Ted was only going to get five of the regular wings, but once he heard Shane was getting 10 he couldn’t be outdone and had to change his order. He got 10 of the sweet spicy chili, which he said were OK but didn’t have a lot in the way of spice. The sweet was there, but it appears that the spice missed its Uber on the way to the party. He actually thought maybe they would be better off being renamed “sweet and sticky” wings, since by the end of the meal he ended up with bits of napkin stuck to his hands after vigorous attempts to remove the sauce from his fingers. He had to go wash his hands so as not to glue himself to the table.

Sweet not spicy

Good thing that restroom was clearly marked. I mean, you don’t want hands like that touching all those random doorknobs around the place.

Sadly, the twinsies broke tradition of matching food orders this week, as Ted bypassed the burger in favor of a Cajun Chicken Wrap – saying just that he’d been eating a lot of burgers lately and needed something different. Understandable.

That almost looks healthy. Almost

He said it was good, but just like me he was a bit mystified about the lack of a side – or even the offer from the server to add anything on to the sandwich. Clearly someone needs to train her on the art of upselling. I mean, hello, we’re already ordering ALL THE FOOD, you think $1.50 for a side of fries is going to scare us off? Please.

Let’s look at that table again. Do you think you have to twist our arms to order food here?

At some point in the meal the cook appeared from the kitchen and walked over by our table, then through the door on the wall right next to us. Yet another mystery door in this place. Which we noticed was adorned with a sign advertising Ted’s beer.

Turns out it was just the walk-in cooler, but it sounds better to say that the “door to truth” comes with a cool draft as it closes, no?

Cold hard truth

Brewster’s is a decent little (emphasis on little) place. Ted said that he thought it would make a great lunch spot as opposed to dinner. He cited the fact that you have to add on sides to the burgers and wraps, and how you have to order multiple things just to get a full meal … which apparently in his world would be less annoying at an earlier meal of the day. OK.

But regardless, it’s one of those nice neighborhood bars, where you know the people from the houses and streets nearby stop in to grab a quick bite or watch a game with friends. FYI, that pretty much makes it the template for a place I would like to have appear at the end of our street or in our immediate neighborhood. Just putting that out in the universe.

Which, while that wouldn’t be easy on our waistlines, it would be relatively easy on our wallets, considering our experience tonight. Mine and Shane’s bill was $41, which included a burger, a wrap, a side of fries, a basket of 10 wings with fries, an app, two bud lite drafts and one craft beer draft. Not too shabby. I mean, Shane and Ted were both quick to point out that it was no $7.00 10oz steak special like last week … but then again few places can rival that frugality in our book. Don’t be surprised if Shane’s weekly picks now rotate between revisits to The Dougout, Caddyshack Inn and a random pizza parlor. Mark my words.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

Ted

Shane

Steph

WTGW 8/2/17: The Dougout, Richfield

Standard

Ah, The Dougout. Why have we avoided you all this time? I’m sure we had a reason at some point … and if I had to guess I would say it had something to do with a rumor we heard somewhere when we mentioned the name of the place, probably accompanied by that weird scrunchy face people make when we speak the name of some bar/restaurant they wouldn’t set foot in. But, hey, we’re rebels like that. And I have to admit we’ve visited some rather undesirable locations over the years (including places where shootings happen a few weeks after our visit), so we’ve seen that look a lot. But we’re still alive, so our choices can’t be all that bad, right?

Yeah, maybe don’t answer that.

In any case, at this point we’re wiping the slate clean on The Dougout. And we will rebuke your scrunchy face if you try to make it at us.

Let’s just start out by mentioning that Shane and Ted were on board with the place before we ever walked in the door, as the sign outside touting a 10oz steak for $7.00 got their full and immediate attention. Always a sucker for the frugal meat specials, those two.

Speaking of meat specials, this table tent got Ted’s attention as soon as we sat down. We all know he loves “meat on a stick.” 

We know where to find Ted on Fridays from here on out

So The Dougout is definitely a small place. And while none of us were expecting the Ritz by any means, I think we were all pleasantly surprised at what met us beyond the front door. There’s nothing to scrunch your face at. It’s basically your run of the mill dive bar, complete with a large bar on one side of the room and a handful of scattered tables on the other.

It’s seat yourself, and the place was fairly busy so we snagged a 4-top near the door. The server came around quickly to get our drink orders, at which point Ted did his usual “tell me about your dark beers” interrogation. He was told there was nothing dark on tap (options there included Miller Lite, Miller High Life and something else unimpressive to Ted), but he was welcome to walk up and peruse the cooler for bottles, which he happily did and settled on an Edmund Fitzgerald.

Surprisingly Shane bypassed the can of Hamm’s for $1.00 and chose the large draft of Miller Lite. But he was clearly happy to have discovered the sign.

He loves him some Hamms

Meanwhile, I went with a mixed drink, which arrived in a large plastic cup similar to what you normally get soft drinks in. I like this place already.

On to food. This exchange says a lot:
Shane to Ted, as they perused the menu: What are you ordering?
Ted: Uh, I think the steak special and wings
Me: My god, you two are like twins

So, yeah, it’s obviously no surprise that they each got the steak special – that was established before we even got out of the car. They also each got six wings – garlic pepper parm for Shane and Cajun BBQ for Ted.

$7 worth of happiness

Twinsies

Can we just talk for a minute about these plates? Old. School. Like between all of us, you know someone has eaten off plates similar to these at their Grandma’s house at some point in their lives. Admit it. I believe the kids call that “retro” these days … but really we’re pretty sure this place has probably just had those same plates in circulation since about 1984.

And maybe the years of constant steak delivery have helped build a marinade of sorts, as both Ted and Shane agreed that their steaks had good flavor. Especially for less than the cost of a side dish at some fancy steakhouses. The steaks did look a touch on the small side – I mean, I’m not sure they actually throw them on a scale to be sure each one is a full 10oz, but hey, at $7 you could order two and still pay less than what you would at some other places.

Shane: that was the best $7 steak I’ve ever had
Ted: I’ll drink to that

That’s high praise, folks.

Once the red meat and fries were out of the way, the boys moved on to the wings. Ted thought the sauce on his wings was good. He described it as “sweet and a little bit spicy.” But he also said that the meat was tough and a bit hard to bite into and chew. His usual “three bites and swallow” technique apparently didn’t work this time around.

Glazed and confused

For the record, this is the first I heard about Ted having a designated technique for wing consumption, but you know I’m going to be watching him a little more closely from here on out.

Ted did give them the benefit of the doubt, though, and said maybe the wait time of eating that portion of the meal last had caused the BBQ sauce to congeal a touch, thus upping the difficulty level. He’s thoughtful like that.

Shane didn’t really give an opinion on his meal(s) since he was so hungry that he pretty much inhaled his food without actually tasting it. But he said he was “pretty sure it was good.” He did say he didn’t agree with Ted on the wing texture, though, saying that his were easy to eat and the sauce was good. Although he probably devoured them a good 10 minutes before Ted even touched his, so Ted’s theory may have some weight after all.

Apparently these tasted better than they looked

I got the Favorite Burger, which was a burger covered in mushrooms, onions and Swiss cheese. It was very good, definitely hand made, although perhaps just a little overdone for my requested “medium.” I didn’t like that the bun was overly toasted, so I gave that to bottomless-pit-Shane to buzz through. But the flavor of the burger was definitely good, as long as I remember to ask for medium rare next time.

Also, while I didn’t get one of Grandma’s plates, the fact that the burger arrived to our table so fresh from the grill that when I cut it in half about five minutes later steam poured from the middle of the sandwich was enough to make up for that.

This meal clearly isn’t fancy enough for a plate

We also started off with breaded cauliflower for our appetizer. We probably should’ve gotten the breaded mushrooms, too, since the order of cauliflower turned out to be a bit smaller than anticipated, and each order was only like $4 – but live and learn I guess. Let our failure be your advantage.

Shane thought the breading was a little hard – but I also think the technique here was more “pour from a bag kept in the freezer” than “hand dipped and breaded,” so there’s probably not much that could’ve been done about that. Ted’s comment upon trying one was “well, it’s fried cauliflower, what really do you want from it?” Take that as you will.

Our favorite kind of “health” food

All in all, The Doug Out is a fun place that we’ll definitely return to. They had baseball on the TV, although without sound … and honestly until someone started up the jukebox the atmosphere was more like we were actually dining in the home that those plates belonged during a family dinner than the raucous dive/motorcycle bar we’d always thought the place to be. But once the jukebox finally started up the atmosphere improved 1000%.

Also, as if Shane couldn’t be any happier with his $7 steak and a giant beer(s) … the almost entirely country music song list may have just put him into an “I’m never leaving this bar” state of euphoria.

One word of caution for all the guys out there … the location of the door to the men’s room falls under the category of something that might be one of the world’s greatest mysteries. To this day, I can’t tell you where it is, and I was told of the general direction to look as I made my way to the (very clearly marked) ladies room. If you can find it on the first try without asking a server or regular, I think maybe you get a prize. Or at least you should. Perhaps a mismatched set of salt and pepper shakers?

One of these things is not like the other

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

Doug Out Pub & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/12/14: Manchester Tavern, Portage Lakes

Standard

This place has been on my radar for a little bit now, thanks to a finely tuned and ultra precise choosing mechanism I use at times called Google Maps. Cutting edge, all day long here, folks.

Or maybe I just have too much time on my hands some days and am at a loss for a new pick. You decide.

Manchester Tavern doesn’t have a website, which is usually a bit of a deterrent … because, you know, you hate to drive 25 minutes to a place only to discover they’ve converted it into a senior citizens’ billiards hall or a throwback 70’s disco club sometime since the last Yelp review. Not that either one of those couldn’t be awesome, but when you’re expecting a good bar burger and some wings it’s a bit of a letdown to have to play a round of pool with Uncle Johnny before you’re allowed to leave and find a real restaurant.

But since Manchester Tavern does have a recently updated Facebook page, and a wealth of good reviews from within the past few months, I figured it was safe.

There were several cars and motorcycles in the lot when we pulled up, although the place is so tiny that really it seems now like a rather disproportionate number and I’m not sure where all of those people could’ve been hiding. Perhaps on the large patio space – I swear it could be bigger than the actual interior – which we avoided since it was about four billion percent humidity outside with a slight threat of rain.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for once again turning NEOhio into a tropical rain forest on the one evening of the week we actually venture out in search of great patios. You’re awesome.

The menu at Manchester Tavern is relatively small (which makes it somewhat baffling as to why it’s not available online anywhere, since it wouldn’t take up much space) and mostly bar food – wings, burgers, fried appetizers and a few other sandwiches. There’s also the random steak dinner, fish dinner … and my favorite, the 21-piece shrimp platter. Because nothing says living on the edge quite like trusting raw seafood served out of a bar kitchen that primarily consists of deep fryers, no?

Yeah, I’ll pass.

Not surprisingly, the drink menu was even smaller than the food menu, so Shane went back to his standard Bud Light draft, and I went with a tequila and soda. Ted ordered an IPA that the server suggested … but was out of luck when she returned a few minutes later saying they unfortunately were all out. Jack and coke it is. And I guess Ted is now the proud owner of the “sorry, we ran out of that drink” curse. Sorry, my friend.

There was a debate at our table about who would order what appetizer, as we all gravitated to the southwestern egg rolls – but of course we can’t all logistically share one appetizer, because, well, we all like food too much. So Ted said if we ordered that one then he apparently had a “back up plan.” Shane and I jumped on that offer and ordered the egg rolls as our app. Ted’s backup plan, meanwhile, was apparently a whole meal – 12 wings. Because, of course it was.

Let’s just say that the server was never really sure when she could safely put her notepad away while we were ordering because we just kept adding on more food. Shocking, I know.

Let’s tally it up … our final total for the table was five meals (two orders of wings, a sandwich, a burger, and the steak dinner) and an app (the egg rolls). Plus the dinner salad that came with the steak dinner. Totally logical for three people, no?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thank you metabolism for not making any or all of us individually 400+ pounds yet thanks to these adventures.

Anyway.

In case you were taking guesses on who ordered what above, let’s play a little game to see how well you know your WTGW crew, shall we? I own up to the sandwich, which was the Tavern Hoagie. We already know that Ted got 12 wings (Cajun), and he also ordered the burger, which was called the “Brunch Burger.” That leaves Shane with the other order of wings (garlic parm, but only six … he’s trying to cut back), and the 10oz steak dinner.

Any winners? I’ll make you a ribbon.

Shane:  We’re on the high protein diet
Server:  What will you do with all the bread then?
Shane:  No, I’m kidding, we just like food

We joked when the girl came out from the kitchen with all of our meals that she was probably expecting to see about six people sitting at our table. Surprise!

The egg rolls turned out to be an excellent choice. Although I think they were delivered straight from the surface of the non-existent sun outside, as I about lost two fingertips when I hungrily reached for them too quickly after they first arrived. Clearly the fryers are set to the right temperature. But they were worth the wait for them to cool off – and the momentary loss of feeling in my fingers – as the taste was excellent. The chipotle ranch dipping sauce made it even better.

My fingers will never forget you, egg rolls

The Tavern Hoagie was pretty good. It’s basically copied straight from the Mr. Hero Romanburger playbook – a few thinner burger patties, ham, salami, lettuce, tomato, etc on a sub bun. Or, in this case, a glorified hot dog bun, but whatevs. It wasn’t quite the same as it’s fast food counterpart, but still tasty. The patties were pretty thin, but there was enough other stuff on the sub to make that kind of unnoticeable.

I also got my sandwich with jojos instead of regular French fries, which was an excellent choice – even thought they appeared to be cooked in the same seven billion degree setting as the egg rolls. But again it was worth the wait, as they were perfectly cooked – crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside.

Fryer still works

Ted was two bites into his burger when he declared that he “wasn’t sure if it was necessarily Top Five material, but it had to be at least close.” In case you haven’t been following along with us, that’s high praise right there, kids. I’m not sure I even knew Ted had a Top Five list until that moment, but to have this burger show up and walk right into the midst before he was even halfway done eating it is pretty much the equivalent of getting your first driver’s license and then heading over to the track to take the crown at the Indy 500.

Seated across from Ted, Shane was slightly jealous of all of the grease flowing off of the burger at every bite. Kind of like when we went to The Game and Ted got the giant heart attack on a plate that they call a burger while “healthy Shane” essentially ate a salad.

Speaking of salad, Shane’s meal came with one, but he dug into it before I was able to even get a hand on my camera to take a photo of it. He may have been a little hungry. Or maybe he was just tired of rules after our adventures last week. Regardless, it looked pretty standard – you know, lettuce and vegetables in a bowl. Kinda hard to mess that up … but yet manage to create one of Ted’s favorite burgers of all time, ya think?

And maybe it was jealousy over the burger, but Shane said his steak was just OK. I mean, we are in a bar, too, so expect what you will for an $11 steak.

There’s a steak under all those fries, I promise

As for the wings, Ted said his were OK – but they definitely didn’t match up to the burger. He had asked the server for the hottest ones on the menu, and she told him to go at first with the Buffalo – but then switched to Cajun because something about them being breaded and grilled then fried … I think? I didn’t quite hear the full explanation clearly, but whatever it was it persuaded Ted, so there’s that. Unfortunately they weren’t the hottest he’d ever had by a long shot. Maybe she thought he meant hot as in temperature, not flavor … and that whole grilling and frying thing seemed like it would make them hotter that way? Just speculating.

Meanwhile, Shane took offense to the menu declaration of “the best wings in town” and was slightly glad he didn’t live in a town with such low standards. Clearly his wings were not his favorite part of the meal. They, like his steak, were just OK.

Ted definitely thought the burgers were under-marketed, and that they should be pushing that item as the “best in town” instead of the wings. Or else point us in the direct of the place in town that holds that title, because we want to try those burgers. I actually think Shane may lose sleep over the regret he was feeling for not ordering a burger at Manchester Tavern. We’ll see how that plays out.

We’ll see you in our dreams, burger

While our meals may not have been the best bar food we’ve ever tasted, I do have to say that the service was great. Our server greeted us as soon as we walked in, even though she was in the midst of counting out Queen of Hearts tickets that were being sold at the table behind us for a drawing that was under an hour away. She came right over to take our drink orders, was friendly to us even though we were clearly not regulars (and all the regulars were pretty obvious, as they were greeted by name by both our server and the other bartender … and the other patrons … let’s just say we were definitely in the minority for not knowing anyone’s names). She apologized when she hadn’t been over for a bit to check on us, too.

Maybe we’re just scarred from last week, but we were definitely impressed.

Overall Manchester Tavern is a great little neighborhood bar. It’s definitely a Portage Lakes equivalent of Cheers, and because it was Queen of Hearts drawing night it got quite busy for a hot minute around the actual drawing (which was something out of a John Taffer highlight reel as the bartender yelled at everyone to shut the eff up so that the number could be heard) – but then thinned out shortly after. Or maybe everyone was just out on the patio. We did notice quite a crowd standing at the front railing just watching traffic go by when we left, kind of like it was someone’s large front porch. I guess that’s high entertainment in these parts?

The setup is a little cramped – there’s a room in the back with a pool table and more seating tables, but you’re definitely secluded from everyone else and I’m not sure how fantastic the service would be there. Out of sight, out of mind, perhaps – especially since the two bartenders/servers seemed pretty busy taking care of the area near the bar as well as the patio. The guys mentioned that the men’ s room “could use a little work on the infrastructure” – but it also wasn’t the worst they’ve ever seen. I guess that’s saying something.

We were too engrossed with watching the Classic MTV (with real music videos!) that was playing on the TV over the bar, as well as the World Series of Poker that was on the TV by our table, and forgot to take our usual photos before we left … but I would call it a thumbs up visit. It might be a little too far out of our radius to return fairly often … but if we do make it back I have a feeling a burger will be the one thing we all make a point to order.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

 

Manchester Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 7/5/17: REVISIT – Whitey’s, Richfield

Standard

So, if you’ve been reading WTGW long enough – or, well, really if you just read the part about how we got started – you know that the staples of our food adventures include three things: food, alcohol, and fun. I know, we’re easy to please, right? In the summer we often expand that list to include one more element: patio space. Because we only get about 7.4 nice days out of the year here in Ohio, and if we’re lucky enough to have a few of them fall on Wednesdays (i.e. when Mother Nature decides to play nice and not be a whore) then we’re certainly not prone to want to waste them sitting inside a dark bar with no windows.

I mean, come on, that’s what Mondays are for. And pretty much all of February.

Hence how I think we first stumbled upon Whitey’s four years ago, back in the first summer that WTGW was born. Patio + burgers & beer + nice summer evening = the elusive trifecta. Or, wait, that’s actually four things. The fourfecta? Can that be a thing?

Whatever, the point is, we thought we’d hit the jackpot.

Except that we didn’t. I think we left the place that night kind of feeling like children who had gotten scolded one too many times for running in an open field that had all the makings of a great playground but was on someone else’s property.

Now before you go scouring the archives for that post, let me save you the trouble … it doesn’t exist. Nearly a year of our existence is what we like to refer to as “pre-blog.” Yes, kids, there was life before you came along.

The only proof of that evening are these amazing photos.

2013 was clearly the time before selfies. This camera blows.

This exact pitcher may or may not be in my house at this moment.

Obviously they’ve matured in four years.

I’m kicking myself for not reenacting this photo

Ah, youth. Now the only photos we seem to take in the dark are when the lighting is too low in a restaurant, not because the sun has set while we’re still out.

Anyway, while we may look like we were having fun in those pictures, let me assure you that’s because it was the end of the night and we had been consuming alcohol since long before the sun went down. Because, really, what we remember most from that night four years ago, is that Whitey’s is a place of rules. Lots of them. And they weren’t so up front about them, nor were they the friendliest when we pointed ourselves out as non-regulars by asking.

Here’s the short list of what we remember from that experience:
1) there was a great patio … that you can’t eat on
2) there’s a large bar area … that you also can’t eat IN
3) the dining area is relatively small in comparison – and this is where you eat
4) there’s usually a wait for a table in said eating area
5) they weren’t exactly all Oprah-giving-free-cars-out-to-the-audience when it came to explaining all of the above

Sounds delightful, no? And you wonder why it’s been four years since we’ve been back.

Although even with all of the above we somehow managed to take this photo without being kicked out.

Four years later and I can honestly say this is the only photo we’ve ever taken with a harp

Anyway.

We’re sad to report that things haven’t changed much in our four year absence. I mean, we remembered the rules from last time, and good thing because there really isn’t any signage when you enter through the bar area telling you where to go if you want to eat, drink, or sit and do none of the above outside. Thanks for that helpfulness. Let me just get my mind reading capabilities in order before I enter next time.

So Ted and I grabbed a hightop table in the bar area while Shane went to ask about a table for the purposes of food consumption. He was told you can eat AT the bar, but not IN the bar area. Good lesson in prepositions, kids.

We were told it would be about a 30 minute wait, during which time we got some drinks FROM the bar and proceeded to watch what we can only believe was drone racing on TV (how is this a thing?) and some people setting up in the bar area for a welcome home party. I’m not sure which was more entertaining.

Sidenote, it was another perfect night for the patio, but because we haven’t gotten to the section of the rule book that covers the whole “how to hear your name when it’s called from the outside” debacle, we stayed inside to avoid the disaster that would be missing our table and having to eat our own arms.

So finally we got our table (yay!) and it turned out it was off in it’s own little cubbyhole of an area adjacent to the main dining room. Good thing we aren’t claustrophobic?

Well, whatever, now that we got the seating out of the way, we could finally concentrate on the food. I don’t remember too much about the food last time (see photos above for a bit of explanation on that), but I did my homework enough to know that Whitey’s is known for their chili (which is also served in several other restaurants around NEOhio), and burgers. Yes and yes.

Because they were on special this evening, we started off with an order of the “hottzerella” sticks – which are mozzerella sticks breaded in a jalapeno flavored breading. The Wednesday special was 47 cents each, which may be the first time we’ve ever been offered an option to decide the quantity of fried cheese we want to arrive on the table in front of us. I mean, is 37 too many? Maybe? OK, we’ll just go with 8.

You’ll notice Ted’s hands are tucked safely away from the fried cheese.

They were tasty. They came out quickly and were definitely straight from the fryer. The breading had a noticeable kick to it, but not in a bad way – although it was spicy enough to leave your mouth burning for a hot minute after eating one. (see what I did there?)

See also: why we were so annoyed that they server continuously walked past our table without asking if we wanted refills on the drinks we had brought over with us from the bar. Did we miss the rule that said you can only use the bar glasses IN the bar area, and that they can’t travel to the dining room? Do you have to go back to the bar to order more? That question was answered when the server checked in on a table that was sat well after us and he immediately asked them if they needed any drinks from the bar. OK. So I guess it was just us, then. I mean, we ordered our meals, we saw the server pass by several more times … and yet this poor, lonely glass just sat on the edge of the table waiting to be asked to hold another beer.

It’s clearly suffering

*sigh*

It should also be noted that we weren’t even asked if we wanted water, either. It’s like they were employing the age-old interrogation technique of “let’s give them super spicy and filling food without anything to wash it down with.” Crowd pleaser, for sure. Was this a newcomer initiation of some sort?

But yet we mustered on. We’re professionals, people. We don’t let a little dry mouth and buzz kill spoil our evening. Plus, we’re hungry.

For his meal, Ted opted for the Italian Stallion burger with a side of “bottle caps,” which are sliced jalapenos that are then breaded and deep fried. I see a trend here. Ted also apparently likes to live on the edge considering our lack of beverages.

It looks so small and unassuming

Not surprisingly, he liked all of it. He said his chief complaint was the excessive amount of cheese (he forgot to have them make it without, and then was stuck pulling it off the burger like a magician pulling scarves from his sleeves) – but really that’s something only cheese-haters like Ted would complain about. He thought the flavor was outstanding. It was messy, definitely a “knife and fork” burger (at one point I think he just picked the plate up along with the burger to try and hold everything together while he took a bite) – but the trouble was worth it.

Because we like to kill off tastebuds

Shane got the Dagwood burger. Which arrived looking suspiciously like a pile of mushrooms. Is it Halloween in burgertown?

Excuse me, sir, but I’m not a vegetarian. You don’t have to disguise the meat.

Shane: I wonder how many mushrooms had to die in order to make this burger?

But even so, it was excellent. I mean, the ginormous pile of mushrooms was a tad overkill, and Shane ended up eating most of them with a fork before even getting to the sandwich – but the burger itself was delicious. He said that there seemed to be a little bit of relish mixed in with the mayo, and that gave it some sweetness. He had to cut it into four pieces to attempt to eat it, but again, like Ted, the struggle was worthwhile.

We also know how picky Shane is about the un-done-ness of his burgers, and Whitey’s is one of those places that doesn’t give you a choice in the matter, but warns you when you order that they cook them all “medium well.” Which I think made Shane cringe at a little just hearing. But he took a chance, and wasn’t disappointed. The burger was definitely on the done side, with no pink in the middle, but still moist and flavorful.

I got the garden chili, which is essentially a helping of chili on lettuce instead of in a bowl. Novel.

Any salad is healthy, no?

I had been debating between a burger with a cup of chili, or this salad – and decided to go the slightly more healthy route (ahem, “healthy,” she says … after downing four hottzerella sticks just moments prior. I realize the irony.). But then I have to be honest, when that salad arrived in front of me and I first looked at it I felt a tiny pang of regret, because I thought there was no way that was going to be enough food to make me happy. I think my internal conversation went something like this:

“Nice choice, idiot. Guess you’ll be grabbing up a few more 47 cent cheese sticks after you devour this salad in like five minutes flat.Haven’t you learned not to order healthy food on WTGW?”
“You’re the idiot, that’s totally enough food for your dinner. Stop being a baby.”
“But look at the burgers the guys got. They chose wisely.”
“Shane’s is all mushrooms. If you’re still hungry, eat the leftover cheese that Ted keeps pulling off his sandwich. And thank me later when you’re completely full without hands that smell of burger grease.”

Yeah, that voice of reason was totally correct – the salad was plenty enough for my meal. If you have that same internal debate over potential disappointment from a salad, just keep in mind that that dish is far deeper than it looks. And the chili is hearty. By the time we were finished I thought I might have to be rolled to the door. And I wasn’t even drinking beer.

(Neither was Shane, BTW … this glass sat here until well into our meals)

So. Lonely.

You’e seeing it about half as many times as our server did.

Anyway, I thought the salad was good. The chili didn’t seem to have a ton of flavor, but a little salt and pepper helped fix that problem a touch. I think some red pepper flakes and garlic powder would’ve done wonders. I’m not sure what that says about the death of my taste buds over the years.

You can also choose one of the four flavors of chili to go on the salad – I just chose the original, but I think next time I would try one of the other options, which include white chicken chili, chipotle garden vegetarian chili, and a beanless jalapeno chili.

It seems like mushrooms and jalapenos are something they go through a lot of in this place. Just an observation.

Overall, we had a difficult time ranking Whitey’s on this visit. One one hand, the food was excellent. If we were just talking about the food alone, this would be a two thumbs up experience, no doubt. I mean, the burger was in Shane’s fabled “Top 5 Burger” list … along with … um … well … we aren’t really sure who exactly is on that list anymore, since it seems to change more often than Kylie Jenner’s hair color . If I had a dollar for every time I heard something in Shane’s life was on a Top 5 list … well, let’s just say I’d be making my own “Top 5 Islands I Would Like To Purchase And Live On” list. But for now, just consider it a compliment. He means well.

But other things dragged the score down, including the service. I mean, I realize there were about eight tables in our section, but probably only about half of them were full at any given time during our visit. And our server seemed less than thrilled with any of the tables he was waiting on – so I guess maybe we should be thankful we weren’t the only ones he hated? Yay us! But we were the only ones in our section who seemed to be noticeably suffering through the Great Drought of 2017, so there’s that.

Table 23. Where your thirst lives on.

And there are still just so many rules to be followed here. We were going to go out on the patio after we ate – since we actually did have full drinks at that point, finally, after we had to ask for refills during our meal – but then Shane reminded us that we couldn’t take glasses out there. Well, crap. I mean, given the ordeal we went through to just get these drinks in the first place, we didn’t want to push our luck asking to switch to plastic cups. We might have been exiled to the basement to finish our drinks.

Another “no” to add to the list … credit cards. Luckily we had researched this in advance and had cash with us (a rarity for us, honestly). But really? It’s 2017. You can pretty much pay your car payment with a retinal scan at this point, but, please, make sure you have paper currency to use to purchase your chili and fried cheese.

So will we return? I’m not sure. On one hand, the food is enough to say yes. And the place just has so much potential for fun. They have leagues for sand volleyball, darts and cornhole … and the place is always packed, so clearly it’s a crowd favorite. But it’s also a bit like visiting a playground enforced by the National Guard. In the desert.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

Whitey's Booze n' Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 6/14/17: Crave Cantina, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

Wait, what, there’s a new taco joint in our backyard? Please, twist our arms to try this one.

Crave Cantina opened just a few weeks ago, a spinoff from the same owners of the Akron-based restaurant of close-to-the-same-name, Crave. We see what you did there, owners. The new Cantina is located in the old Firehouse restaurant on Front Street in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, which looks like a war zone now (note to ladies, heels may not be the best choice for navigating the walkway from any parking area to the front door, trust me on this one) but once the street renovation project is completed should be fabulous.

Speaking of parking, it took us a hot minute to find a lot and a spot – which of course caused us all to think there would be a wait for a table once we finally got into the restaurant. And the hostess didn’t help things much, as we’ve learned the hard way that being greeted with the question “do you have a reservation?” typically leads into the “well, unfortunately we currently have a wait until about 2025 if you don’t have a reservation” let down. Especially when a place is less than a month old.

But luck was on our side this evening, as our “no” to the reservation interrogation was followed with “OK, well follow me this way.” Yes, please. Gladly.

Also, it should be noted that we don’t do reservations for WTGW. Well, except if you’re Ted and you want to check out Gus’s Chalet. Just saying.

Our first observation after we were seated was that they definitely put some energy into changing the place up from its last incarnation as Firehouse. Let’s just say that our few experiences at that particular establishment were not good ones, so noticing that it was freshened up – and cleaned up – was a good sign. Although we did notice that the wall on the one side of the back area where we sat – which you’ll see in the pic of Ted later – looked a little like the street outside (maybe they’re waiting to match it to said street?), but other than that the place looks great.

Crave is also part of this new trend of “fancy” Mexican places, where instead of the generic menu-that-could-be-placed-at-any-Mexican-place-in-the-city-involving-dishes-made-from-a-combination-of-rice-and-beans-and-some-sort-of-corn-or-flour-shell-filled-item, everything is pretty much a la carte. Tacos with interesting fillings are individually purchased at $3 or $4 each, and then you can add sides if you like. There are a few entrees, and some intriguing appetizers, but the focus is more on creating combinations of your own than a standard menu.

Which also means … no free chips and salsa as soon as you sit down. This is one part of “fancy Mexican” I certainly can’t get behind.

Because of this, and the fact that (as usual) we were “hungry enough to eat the entire menu” as soon as we got there, Shane and I ordered the chips and quacamole as an app. We did the trio of three different guacs: traditional, mango, and charred corn.

Mix and match

Unfortunately it seems that we probably could’ve stuck with just one guac option, as they all tasted the same to us. And trust me, we tried really hard to make comparisons. But we honestly felt they were all extremely similar. Three bowls of green dip, with nothing much to distinguish one from the other. Well, OK, one had some chunks of mango on top. But if you closed your eyes and just did a taste test, it was very difficult to tell one from another. Also, chunks of corn are surprisingly similar to chunks of mango when placed in a green substance. Just an observation.

At least they brought us extra chips to help finish off the guac

Meanwhile, on the fancypants side of the table, Ted went with the Yellowtail Cerviche as an app. And yes, I had to consult the menu online before I typed that.

It apparently tastes better than it looks

He was far more pleased with his app than we were with ours. He gave it a thumbs up, saying that the sweet potatoes on top were tasty, and the nuts (at least that’s what he thought they were?) were a good contrast. And the dish as a whole was sweet.

You know, unlike other dishes we’ve had in the past.

Yes, I just made another Gus’s Chalet reference. It was that kind of night.

We also, of course, got margaritas. Or, at least Shane and I did – Ted made up for his highbrow appetizer by ordering a boring old beer. Boo. We shared a pitcher of passion fruit margaritas … which, strike two for us, I guess, as we weren’t thrilled with the flavor. The taste – what there was of it – was a bit tart. I probably wouldn’t go that route again.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, we still finished it. Please. But for next time we made a mental note that we should probably try something else from the drink menu. Maybe Ted was smart after all.

We also got this lovely bottle of water for the table.

Fancy water to go with the fancy food

This is awfully classy for a Wednesday night out, people. I mean, it has a cork in it. And it’s water.

Although Shane pointed out that if the bottle were plastic and not glass he would probably have thought they just recycled one of those old cheap vodka bottles with the built in handles on the sides. Point, Shane.

For meals, Ted again got something I can’t pronounce or spell, so let me consult the online menu … Pollo la Braza. Which I think must translate into “entire chicken on a bed of fried plantains.” And also without flavor, according to Ted. He said he expected it to be spicier, but if was almost like just a rotisserie chicken with rosemary flavor. And the fried plantains (wait, that’s what we were calling them all night … but it turns out after I look at the online menu those were actually yucca fries. Are they the same thing? I took German in high school, folks. Spanish is lost on me) Anyway, those were good as long as you used the sauce on the plate to dip them in. He definitely preferred his appetizer over the main dish.

Here’s your half a chicken, sir

Shane and I went the taco route. I got three total – although in retrospect I should’ve only gotten two. When we asked how big the tacos were – because at these places they can be anything from two bites to the size of a frisbee – the server told us they were about as big in diameter as one of the small plates on the table.

So either she was off on her comparison, or – more likely – I was using hangry eyes when I ordered, because the tacos we got seemed far bigger than the size of those dishes. Bigger is better? No?

In any case, I chose the chicken, the chorizo and the ground beef.

I was too hungry to note which was which. Sorry.

Shane was in the same bottomless pit of hunger boat as me, and got five total – two brisket, one chorizo, one buttermilk fried chicken and one flank steak.

Come hungry, leave happy. Wait, wrong restaurant.

I also got a completely unnecessary side of rice. Because, again, eyes bigger than stomach. I should also point out that this side was the one and only thing that I could probably walk into any Mexican place and obtain. So I wasn’t really missing out on much by not finishing that.

Extra food. Because we never have that at our table.

I liked all of my tacos. The chicken one had good flavor all around, but the other two got most of their flavor from the sauces and not the meat. That being said, I would still order them all again, but I would also really like to try some others on the menu.

Shane adamantly disagreed with me about the chorizo. He thought it was lacking in flavor overall. He thought the buttermilk fried chicken and the flank steak were the best of his – he said would’ve been happy with just those two and maybe one more as far as being full, but definitely those two in terms of flavor. The others were a disappointment in comparison.

Thus followed a conversation about the merits of eating the best food first versus last – as Shane had eaten his two best tacos first, since those were the ones he was the least sure about and thought he would like least, and then was stuck with the actual least liked ones to finish things out. See also: why I’m prone to taking a bite of each and then deciding what order to eat them in. Don’t judge.

Overall Crave Cantina is a decent place. The service was good, although we think our server may have been new to the business since she was a bit timid (I mean, come on, even though we were hungry we’re not that intimidating … usually …) but she was still OK. And while we were a bit hit and miss on our meals and drinks … the concept and the space (and the fact that they’re kind of still getting their feet wet at this location) are enough to make us want to come back and try out some different things on the menu that we passed up this time around. It reminded us of places like Bomba in Fairlawn or Barrio in downtown Cleveland, where the tacos are all interesting and different and you want to try them all since they’re all only a few dollars each. Frugal + options = a thumbs up in our group.

Shane

Steph

Ted. And I wonder if they’re taking suggestions on what to do with that wall?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Crave Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW Special Edition – Second Annual Scrumptious Showdown 6/3/17

Standard

OK, so you know how we often go into places and declare we’re ordering ALL THE FOOD because we’re so hungry? Or how many times the guys end up getting two full meals and an appetizer each, which prompts comments from me about the copious amounts of food we have at one table?

Well, I think we finally met our match.

A month or so ago I was contacted by one of the lovely marketing peeps at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets about our team from WTGW being food judges for their Second Annual Scrumptious Showdown – an event at the outdoor shopping center that invites various local food trucks to not only sell food to patrons but also be judged by a panel for the opportunity to win bragging rights and gift cards to Aurora Farms.

So of course we said yes – because, I mean, hello, have you met us? You want us to come out and eat stuff then tell you what we thought of it? Clearly we have no clue how that concept works.

Although I think we can all admit now that, while we know food, the concept we were a little clueless on was food judging. To say we were slightly unprepared for what we were getting ourselves into is like the astronauts of Apollo 13 telling Houston they have a problem. I mean, we obviously like food. But I don’t think in my whole life I have ever eaten so much in one 90 minute time span.

Must. Train. Better. Next. Time.

Anyway.

When we arrived on a beautiful, sunny Saturday we met not only our hosts from Aurora Farms, but also the rest of the judges. They had invited six judges total – all area food and event bloggers – and split us up into two sets of three for the judging so that all of us didn’t have to judge every category. Which at first we were like, wait, why, we got this. Uh, no. See above comment about ill-preparedness. Because about 45 minutes into the competition I realized the organizers were actually really smart people.

So our group had four categories to judge: best wrap, best vegetarian dish, best cold dessert, and best sweet treat. The other group had both the cold and sweet desserts along with us, and then “best between two buns,” which was sandwiches that weren’t wraps.

Everyone knows when you have a clipboard you’re official

At first I kinda thought we got the worse end of that deal – why do they get burgers and sandwiches while we get boring wraps? But in the end I think we lucked out, because not only were the wraps we tried far from boring, but also all of our trucks gave us so much food that we ended up filling several take home containers.

Seriously, So. Much. Food.

That’s right, back off, you ordinary people. Our gluttony will take over this table.

There were six entries in the wraps category alone. Six. Now, granted, it’s not like we had to eat a full wrap from each truck – but you’d be surprised how quickly a few bites of each flour tortilla filled sandwich can fill you up. Especially when what’s on the inside of those tortillas includes things like meats, cheeses (sorry, Ted) and even pasta. Um, OK.

So the six wraps we tried included a BBQ chicken mac & cheese wrap from Wrap It Up, a slow roasted beef and cheese wrap from Hatfield’s Goode Grub, a chicken wrap from Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food, an Open Faced Cuban wrap from Off the GRIDdle, Ahi Tuna Tacos from The Beachcomber Truck, and a gyro from Gyro George.

This is only my corner of the table

The three of us individually scored each item based not only on the taste, but also on things like the uniqueness and presentation. Hatfield’s scored the best on all of our sheets for the wraps – the flavor was out of this world, plus they were the only truck to actually send someone over to talk to us about the dish and how it was prepared, so that definitely scored them points for presentation. They ended up winning the category.

As far as other standouts, the mac and cheese burrito definitely got points for originality. And it should be noted that Ted The Cheese Hater’s first words were “well that cheese isn’t so awful,” which anyone who reads this blog regularly knows to be a compliment. This was also the first item we were presented with after we’d pretty much starved ourselves all morning to be ready for this event, so we had to remember to pace ourselves and not eat the entire thing at once. In the words of a wise person being interviewed by a TV station at a Browns tailgate (i.e.: me), “it’s a marathon not a sprint.”

Hmm, I want mac and cheese … no, I want a buffalo chicken wrap. Let’s put them together!

The Cuban got points for originality, but the meat was slightly dry. The chicken burrito was good, but lacked the uniqueness of some of the other wraps – if you’ve been to Chipotle, you’ve had this item. Ted liked the ahi tuna wrap … but Shane and I thought it lacked flavor. Although I do think mine was missing a lot of the pineapple-y sauce that Ted raved about, so there’s that. And the gyro was very tasty – but, again, it’s not that original (I mean, really, how can you change up a gyro?). But we did appreciate that he gave each of the three of us an entire gyro meal – a sandwich, cheesy fries and baklava – so you now that was going down as dinner later. Thanks, Gyro George. You may not have won the vote, but you won a special place in my stomach for that move.

In the vegetarian category we only had three entries – a stuffed mushroom served in a cute little mini martini glass from Robesto’s Catering, black bean tater tots with a dipping sauce from Off the GRIDdle, and a vegetarian taco from Wrap It Up. The guys were wowed by the mushroom – or maybe just the tiny doll sized martini glasses, it’s hard to say exactly, but they couldn’t stop raving about it. Meanwhile, I was more of a fan of the veggie taco. The sauce on it was so flavorful and a touch spicy without blowing your mouth up. We all thought the tots were super original – and also really good. Personally I would order those in any restaurant. So we were all across the board individually in our scoring, but after the votes were tabulated later it seemed the mushroom in the tiny glass took the prize.

Damn you boys. No more getting wowed by plastic ware. I mean, come on, I didn’t even take a picture of it so it couldn’t be THAT impressive. Sheesh.

So by now you’re probably hungry after reading all that – but we definitely weren’t after eating it. Which means we were absolutely thrilled to find out we still had two categories left to judge. Yay!

And of course it’s my favorite – desserts. Can we please do these FIRST next time? I mean, seriously. I need to leave more room for these things.

This pretty much describes my feeling about desserts

They split the desserts up into two categories: cold, and, well, basically not cold. Personally I think that was just a ploy to get us to walk around a bit more and try to work out a corner of our stomachs for all of the remaining food – but hey, they’ve been smart so far, so I didn’t question them on this either.

For cold desserts there was a turtle sundae from East Coast Custard, iced coffee from Floured Apron, and a cherry chunk custard from Stoddards‘.

I was a fan of the cherry custard – I thought it had good flavor, with just the right amount of chunks in it (that sounds way more disgusting that it meant to, really). A lot of the other judges seemed to like the sundae, but for me there were too many nuts involved. And yes, before you say it, the guys didn’t miss out on the opportunity to joke about that sentence once I made the mistake of letting it fall from my mouth.

But overall in that category it was the iced coffee that won. It was very good, and we did get a nice explanation from the owner about the type of coffee she uses and how it’s brewed. And I have to believe the pink flamingo straw played a big part into presentation.

It’s like having a drink with a friend

I mean, come on. How cute is that?

After we cleansed our palettes with cool treats, it was time for the final category of the day – sweet desserts. At which point the organizers said to us “OK, it’s time for the sweets category, let’s all head over to Jackpot Chicken for our first entry …” Wait, what now? Did you just say “desserts” and “chicken” in the same sentence? That’s like saying let’s go pick out some shoes from Pet Supplies Plus. Hmm.

Turns out they were serving warm apple empanadas. Which were somewhat tasty, although really sticky and difficult to eat until someone chased us down some plastic silverware. Negative points for presentation, thank you very much.

We all also had a laugh when one of the other judges from the other team approached the chicken truck to ask what the shells of the empanadas were mad of, since they were orange and that’s slightly unusual. The answer was this stellar and clearly well rehearsed marketing line: “I don’t know, we buy them frozen.” Genius. Maybe those people should be here showcasing their product instead of you. Just a thought.

After that it was two kinds of cupcakes, a buckeye cupcake from the Sweet Mobile Cupcakery, and a S’mores cupcake from Floured Apron.

Keep ’em coming

While they were both tasty and very well presented (including talks from the owners of both trucks about how the cupcakes are made and why they chose those particular flavors to have us judge), Floured Apron took the majority of the vote to win that category.

Get out the brooms, folks, because that’s a SWEEP for Floured Apron in desserts. Nice job, ladies.

In addition to our judging, people purchasing food from the trucks had the opportunity to place votes for the day’s “Fan Favorite” – which ended up going to Gyro George.

Overall it was a great event. Whoever put the order in for the weather must be better friends with Mother Nature than I am, because we had a picture perfect day to be walking around outside. And regardless of what our stomachs might have to say to us on the subject, we all thought it was fun to be judges. Even as we were unceremoniously stuffing those last bites of cupcake into our mouths, we still realized we were lucky to have been asked to be a part of this fun and interesting event.  Thank you to Aurora Farms for inviting us, and for trusting our sometimes super picky food tastes to judge these trucks and their amazing dishes. We’ll definitely do it again!

That being said, does that give us an excuse to keep ordering ALL THE FOOD so that we can stay “in shape” until next year? I mean, if we tell our doctors we’re “training” for something, that makes the weight we’re sure to gain acceptable, right? 

Do we look full? Because we are.

WTGW 5/24/17: Streets Tavern, Streetsboro

Standard

Sorry about that little hiatus, kids. Between vacation and some work travel, the month of May has pretty much been a blur. In fact, I almost forgot it was my pick this week. Thankfully I have this handy little blog to remind me where we were last. I knew we started this thing for a reason.

So after a week in the Caribbean with fancy resort food, and then another week in NYC eating mainly Italian and Mexican food (for no other reason than it was what we happened to find the most of when we were hungry), I was ready for some good old fashioned bar food.

I have to admit, Streets Tavern scared us just a little bit as we pulled into the parking lot. Call me crazy, but giant “FOR RENT” signs in the front window of the building don’t really scream “come on in and enjoy some food and drinks.” But we continued on toward the back of the small parking lot, and noticed the restaurant sign – and presumably the front door to the establishment – facing the building next door.

File that one under: non-intrusive marketing. Maybe they should think about renting that front half of the building, if nothing else than for a giant sign advertising their place? Just a thought.

Shane immediately picked up on the 15 large trucks in the parking lot and the country music that was playing from the time we walked in the door, and questioned how he had never picked this place. Hey, you win some, you lose some. Sorry buddy,

It seems like the place could use a bit of a remodeling overhaul. There’s a large bar at the back of the space, two pool tables at the far end near the door to the patio (which we didn’t get to check out tonight since it downpoured for most of our visit. Obviously Mother Nature and I are going to continue to not be friends again this patio season), surprisingly few tables, and then this giant space off to the side with a stage and disco lights. Which, I mean, when you have a band – as it seems they often do on weekend evenings – I can see that being valuable. But on a random no-band Wednesday, maybe you could turn off the spinny red laser lights and add a few more tables for those of us taking advantage of the .35 wing dine-in special? Again, just thinking out loud here.

We realized quickly that this is another of those places where the bartender is also the server for the tables, but not for any bad reason. In fact, she was great. Greeted us right away and came over to take our drink orders moments after we sat down at a table. Streets seemed to have a decent beer list for a smaller bar, although Ted was the only one to go that route. I chose the only cider they had – Angry Orchard – and Shane went with rum and diets. We’re very well-rounded in the alcohol sampling department these days.

As I mentioned, Wednesdays are 35 cent wing nights. And not ones to miss out on a special, that’s the route we all went. #frugal

I got the Spicy BBQ, Shane got the Garlic Parm and Ted just asked the server to bring him “the hottest ones you have.” Because, well, Ted.

But wait, we aren’t done yet … Ted also ordered the Streets Burger, and Shane got a pizza full of random toppings that he created himself for like $6. And we shared the “three-peat” appetizer, which we chose to include breaded mushrooms, breaded cauliflower and onion rings.

Clearly we’ve only gotten more healthy in our time away.

Fun story, after we placed our orders, some random guy approached our table on his way out of the place with a to-go bag, and asked us why we hadn’t gotten our food yet. Well, um, kind sir, we just ordered it like 5 minutes ago, so maybe the kitchen actually needs time to cook it? I mean, we appreciated his concern, but clearly none of us are starving here, we were happily enjoying our drinks … and we also knew we ordered a lot of food, so we weren’t expecting it lighting fast. We’re good, thanks.

He seemed to be happy with that answer, and ambled out the door with his meal. But then like 10 minutes later, he was back – minus the to-go bag – and it was like de ja vu as he inquired again what was taking them so long to bring our food out.

By this point we’re realizing either he’s the owner/manager of the place, or he’s just a bar regular who is holding some sort of competition in his own head as to whether or not tables will receive their food orders before becoming nothing more than a pile of skeletal remains.

The answer later started to lean toward the former, as he eventually told us that “whatever his girls were making for us back there was worth the wait.” And then proceeded to try and coerce us into joining a game of tabletop Jenga. Because that seems like what people should do while obviously teetering on the brink of starvation.

Ted: “Maybe he recognizes us and is trying to butter us up for a good review.”

Me, after the food arrived a bit later and the guy scampered over to make sure everything looked OK, then proclaimed that we weren’t kidding, we do order a lot of food: “That comment proves that he has no idea who we are.”

And we were OK with the wait, because for the most part, our meals were definitely worth it.

The wings were good sized for the 35 cent price. We all know that “weekly bar special” can sometimes mean they pull out the smallest pieces that seems to be taken from pigeons or half starved chickens … but these were instead quite meaty and well seasoned.

They aren’t really that color. Or at least we think not anyway, It was really dark in there.

BBQ sauce = bring extra napkins

My Spicy BBQ wings had a little kick to them, and Ted said whatever explosively hot wings he ordered were good also – but probably contributed to his idea that the burger was a little thin and bland in comparison.

Ted prefers wings cooked in whatever sauce drips directly off the surface of the sun

There’s a cheese-less, taste-less burger under there somewhere

Shane made it through all of his wings – as he said, they’re dine-in only, so he couldn’t waste any of those – but had to take a few slices of the pizza home because it was a little much for him. A little much? I mean, it’s only TWO FULL meals. WTF, quitter.

It’s not delivery OR Digiorno’s

But he did say that for a bar pizza – which sometimes can mean nothing more than throwing a frozen disc of cardboard coated in sauce and cheese into a toaster oven – this one was really good. All the toppings looked fresh, and the crust was done just to the perfect combination of crisp and dough-y.

Our appetizer was the only thing we were a bit disappointed in. Ironic that probably the easiest thing out of all of our meals to make – just throw stuff in the fryer – was the least liked. A few of the mushrooms and cauliflower were cold in the middle. And the pieces of cauliflower were really itty bitty, not like the kind you get with fried veggies at the fair. And clearly carnival food is the gold standard in terms of all things fried.

Guess which ones are done all the way

Probably the thing we liked the best about the app was the Streets Sauce that came with it for dipping, that was really tasty. Side note on that, that sauce is actually listed under the options for wings, and when I asked about it the server told us it was kind of a spicy, horseradish-y, mayo-y concoction, and she didn’t recommend it for wings. I can see now why. Just use it as a dipping sauce. Trust us on this one.

Our server was amazing. I know I said this already, but it definitely bears repeating for the great service we got from her. Case in point – how many times have you been somewhere where the server walks by you like 10 times and never takes stock of the level of your drink, and then when you flag them down to get a refill they act surprised? Yeah, not here. We were all impressed when, not long after our food arrived, she noticed from behind the bar that Ted’s glass was empty … and instead of coming over to ask if he wanted another one, then going back to pour it … she just arrived with another beer, and was like “I took a chance … I hope you want this …”

I think Ted almost asked her to marry him at that moment.

She also did her best to save us from our new BFF of the evening – the owner/concerned regular/random getting-drunker-each-time-he-approached-us observer who made it his mission to make sure we were having a good night in his establishment – when he came over at the end of the night to trap us … I mean, tell us a story about riding his Harley to work, then dropping the bike thanks to his recent double knee surgery (not alcohol, of course) that his insurance company is making him pay out of pocket for … and then the story started all started over again.

Is this the WTGW version of Groundhog Day?

But other than that small distraction, and the overall kind of weirdness of the setup of the space, the place has a great atmosphere. It’s definitely the Streetsboro version of “Cheers,” as everyone seemed to know or be related to everyone who came into the place … but no one made us feel like we had invaded the family reunion and shouldn’t be there. Word of warning about the music, though … we were happy with the new country selections we were hearing throughout most of our evening, but then around 9PM it was like the subscription to that playlist ran out and there was an abrupt switch to this mix of strange and unfamiliar 70’s love ballads that seemed to be controlled via the phone belonging to one of the owner’s friends. So that was a bit uncool. But other than that it was a fun place with what seemed to be cool people.

And cheap food. Other than wing night, we noticed a board touting specials like country fried steak with potato and vegetable for $6.99, a 5oz steak and potato for $5, and my favorite, the 7-9AM 35 cent wing special on Friday mornings. Because sometimes you just wake up with a hankering for chicken wings, folks. And now you know where to get them for cheap.

Speaking of cheap, our tab for the night – including Shane’s five mixed drinks, my four bottled ciders, an app, a pizza, and 20 wings, was right around $50.

Yeah, we’ll be back.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted
(note that thanks to another Cavs/Warriors showdown in the NBA Finals, the next few weeks could be hiatus for us while we recover from random late night game watching on other nights of the week. Hey, we’re old. And we have jobs. Adulthood is hard sometimes.)

Shane and the rare double thumbs up

Uh Ted, is the wall on fire behind you?

Steph