WTGW 2/26/20: Giovanni’s Pizza & Sports Bar, Akron

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Time for a WTGW Riddle: this week’s pick is a place that brings back quite a few memories for us on the WTGW crew, because we’ve actually been there several times in the past … although this time around it’s technically not a revisit. How is this possible?

Answer: it changes names. A lot. 

Probably the best way to immediately put a mental picture in anyone’s head of where we went this week would be to give you these two names. J Dublin’s (and our subsequent revisit), and Johnny Malloy’s. 

In Shane’s defense, he had a super scary sketch pick up lined up over in Bedford, but tonight’s “I’m not letting you get over winter that easily” snow storm kept us local. So we decided to come here and see what’s new other than the name.

Spoiler alert, nothing.

Now known as Giovanni’s, the place still serves up pizzas, wings and sandwiches. It still has the same huge and strangely arranged interior with a giant bar in the center of the large room, and tables around the edges.

And it’s still not busy.

By the time you’re done reading this you’ll probably have a pretty good idea as to why that is.  

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So, yeah, it’s a funny thing about working at a bar or restaurant, it actually helps to be nice to people. And maybe know a little bit about the place you’re working. 

We sat down at a table on the far right side of the room (it’s seat yourself, not shockingly), and our server was great about approaching us and immediately asking if we want drinks. Um, sure, but maybe here’s where a beer list, or specials board, or perhaps just use of the English language would be helpful in pointing us toward the direction of what we might like to order? 

Yeah, no such luck. We got a blank stare until Cassi asked if there were any specials (“no”) and then I countered with “Do you have White Claw or Truly?” which earned me a look as if I has just asked her to please take a plastic straw and stab me repeatedly in the eyeball. 

And don’t even get her started on ACTUALLY HAVING TO WALK TO THE COOLER TO CHECK ON FLAVORS.

I mean, the nerve. 

I’m just going to throw this out there, probably making a list of some kind could eleviate all of these issues. Just a guess. I’m not positive. 

But considering the shape of the photocopied menus in various states of sun fading or perhaps paper color choice we received when she returned with our drinks, I have to admit I’m not at all surprised that another printed listing of any kind might be an issue.

Alright then.

So we get our drinks, and the menus, and apparently we must all look like we have issues comprehending food options, because like 20 minutes later still no server has reappeared to see what we might want to order.

I should also reiterate here that it wasn’t at all busy, there were three bartenders doubling as servers, and they could all clearly see our table from their places by or behind the bar.

I mean, the girl who originally gave us our menus and was not at all pleased with having to walk over to consult the cooler to know if our drink options were in stock was clearly SUPER BUSY flirting with one of the pool players who kept appearing at the bar to order shots of Crown Royal, so I can see how that totally would take every moment of her very busy shift to handle.

I have to believe that these are the very statements that the rolling eyes emoji was created to express the emotion behind. 

So, OK, let’s fast forward to the point when we were just about to gather our things and ask for the bill for our drinks, as we consulted phone apps to see what other restaurants in the immediate area might be open and actually wanting to serve us, when one of the other bartenders I think sensed our restlessness and approached us to see if we still needed to order. 

And so we stayed. *sigh* 

I mean, at that point it was really a game of who might be able to serve us faster: another place that we would have to drive to and start all over with, or this place that was clearly already dropping the ball. Nothing like playing Russian roulette with your dinner service. 

But I’m glad to share that we did eventually get food. And of course more than a few comments to go along with it. 

Lets start with Ted. He ordered the side of jojos as an app.

So far so good. 

But then for his dinner he opted for a French dip with a side of chili.

Wow, that chili looks a lot like French Fries. I mean, call me crazy, but someone seems to have taken some cooking liberties there. 

Oh wait, there it is.

Because we always need more food at our table.

Meanwhile, Shane and I started with the southwestern egg rolls.

Shane got 15 wings. He asked the server about the Giovanni dry rub sauce, to which he was told that it was “it’s spicy, but not, but it is a dry rub.”  Oh, well, thanks. Clears that right up. Glad to have asked. 

So he ended up with five of those, along with five Cajun and five honey mustard.

I got a side salad and 10 wings, which I split between the mango habanero and spicy honey BBQ. 

Cassi and Jason got the parm puffs as an app.

Or, as Cassi renamed them after one bite, little pieces of heaven. They may want to rethink their marketing. I mean, it’s not as clear cut as a dry rub wing sauce that says so in the name, but maybe it would at least give the servers something to talk about with patrons. 

For dinner, Cassi got a side salad and a calzone. 

Jason ordered a BBQ chicken pizza.

Now, we need to talk about this pizza or a minute before I show you a picture of it – because I have a feeling this is something that may well be referenced well into eternity with this group. (wait, us beat something into the ground? Never!) But seriously, we’re talking “Russ’ Ballet” level of legacy here. 

So, when Jason was contemplating this pizza, he asked our lovely server how many slices were in each size. And was told that the small pizza is six slices, and the medium pizza is nine.

Wait, what now?

Nine? 

Um, that’s impossible.

Like, how do you equally cut a circle into nine pieces? I’m definitely no math major, but even I was scratching my head at that level of geometry. If this is possible, I think we just invented a new shape. Alert the proper authorities!

Never mind, false alarm.

Yeah, so as you can see from the picture, it actually has six slices. So, wait, is this the small pizza then? 

Well it doesn’t really matter, because we were told as we were waiting for the orders to come out that the pizza would actually be comped because the cook supposedly put the order in wrong.

So maybe it WAS supposed to be a nine slice pizza after all then? I’m so confused. 

But ironically, the pizza came out at the same time as Ted’s chili (the real bowl, not the one that looked like French Fries), which was approximately three minutes after the rest of the food. Hmmm. OK then. Could he maybe have just “misplaced” all of our orders and we could’ve just called this evening a wash? 

THE VERDICT

Well poor Ted had to eat his chili with a fork since he wasn’t offered a spoon. But considering how greasy it was, that utensil may have actually been more appropriate. 

It was definitely more helpful in terms of his sandwich, which unfortunately arrived with a large helping of cheese, and we all know how thrilled Ted of all people is about copious amounts of that particular condiment. He spent a good amount of time de-cheesing his sandwich before he could even take one bite.  

And when he did, let’s just say that it’s a good thing his avertion to cheese isn’t due to dairy intolerance, because the bread was saturated in butter. Like someone dipped it in a stick of melted margarine and let it soak up for a while.

Mmmmm. Tasty. 

Speaking of saturation, they definitely used that recipe for the wing sauce as well, at least for mine. It was like my wings had their own private swimming pool. It’s too bad the flavor seemed to be missing from the recipe when they quadrupled it to make such an abundance. I mean, it was OK. Not great. Just … OK. 

Cassi only ate one slice of her calzone, but that was more because she was so full from the “little slices of heaven” and not because it was anything awful. And she did take the rest home, so it wasn’t a complete loss. 

But I think the thing that has earned Giovanni’s a place in our minds, conversations, and as the certain brunt of many, many of our future punchlines is … you guessed it … the 9-slice pizza. Well, I mean, it wasn’t really … but that will forever be our memory of it. And, I mean, let’s face it – if they were truly forward thinking here, they would find a way to actually make that happen and market it.

Because honestly, a signature item like that may be just what this place really needs to finally give it the footing it takes to survive in this obviously cursed spot of ill-fated Italian restaurants and sports bars. Otherwise, it’s no different than the last two names that preceded it. We can get Italian food at 25 other local places, and most of them would offer us better service that didn’t have us looking for a new location 20 minutes in or making us feel like we’re greatly inconveniencing the servers and bartenders with our thirst and hunger. At this point, we don’t have any reason to go back. 

But a 9-slice pizza … I mean, come on. That’s something special right there. 

It’s also refreshing to see White Claw is basically the same price as tequila. Because, you know, they’re pretty much the same.

This post has evoked so many emoji usage options, and not in a good way.

Picked by … well, Shane, kind of. But since his hands were a little bit tied on this one, we all agreed to give him a do-over for next week. So he gets another try before Cassi takes over the following week.

WTGW 2/19/20: Clearview Inn, Bath

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So when we first heard the name of the place Jason picked for tonight – as we were in the car en route to the Clearview Inn – those of us who had heard the name of the place before may have started to contemplate whether or not they were slightly underdressed.

And by “those of us,” I may just be referring to myself. Whatevs.

But by all indications, the Clearview Inn I had heard of in passing had always been labeled as a steakhouse. And not that that label automatically makes a place fancy – hello, Outback Steakhouse – but typically a place where you can order a pretty decent cut of steak isn’t also the same place you’re likely to be welcomed walking into the joint in a hoodie and easily locating our WTGW staples of greasy bar food and cheap draft beer. 

Although Cassi was quick to point out that Clearview does have a pub area, and that area was thought to be more casual than what you would put on the barometer of a typical steakhouse. So like the sports bar version of an Outback Steakhouse, as opposed to someplace like RED or Fleming’s. OK, now we’re talking. 

Turns out we were all a little bit correct. Because while I have a feeling Clearview could’ve been fancy in it’s heyday … that day was probably well before any of us was born. 

Like take for example the strange little stage area at the end of the bar and just to the left of our table – which I thought I had taken a photo of but probably skipped in an attempt to stay somewhat inconspicuous (because we’re so good at that on  regular basis anyway, I know) – where I half expected a Sinatra impersonator to wander out with a martini in hand and start entertaining the crowd. 

Speaking of which, the crowd – and surprisingly it was crowded, particularly at the bar proper – was, well, almost as interesting as the atmosphere. There were obviously a lot of regulars there for an evening meal or nightcap. But there were also some random, out of place folks giving off a bit of an “I’m in town on business” vibe. But considering we aren’t exactly in an area known for businesses or hotels of any kind, that was somewhat weird.

Also weird: the music selection. In a span of about the first 20 minutes we heard everything from 70s rock to rap to – no joke – Somewhere Over the Rainbow. 

For real, where are we?

I don’t think our server could really answer that question, since he wasn’t much help with …. well … any question we asked him.

Take this lovely exchange, for example:
Shane: what wing flavors do you have?
Server: well, um, I don’t know, I guess whatever is listed? But like what are you looking for? Because we probably have it. Just ask me.

It’s like we opened up a dictionary to the definition of “helpful,” I know. 

WHAT WE ORDERED

Despite the steering otherwise of the server, we did stick to the menu items for our meal choices. 

Apparently the steakhouse vibe got to Ted, because he decided to be all fancy and order the seared ahi tuna for an app. 

Meanwhile the rest of the table got two orders of the smallest portion of calamari known to man. For $11. Each.

That seems a bit excessive, no? I mean, unless there’s a worldwide shortage on calamari that we’re unaware of, $11 for this portion seems a tad unreasonable. 

Perhaps to offset that disappointment, and also because someone at the table had to order either a burger or wings, Shane got not one, not two, but three orders of the Garlic Parm wings.

Cassi got a side salad – which we later discovered was basically just lettuce with a few cherry tomatoes, so we’ve clearly hit the opposite end of the fancy spectrum – and the panko crusted chicken tenders. 

Jason got the Po Boy sandwich.

I got the diablo chicken sandwich with a sweet potato.

Ted got the steak sandwich, also with a sweet potato.

After dinner, the server – in all his infinite salesmanship – tried to sell us on the desserts by telling us the best way to enjoy them was by combining like three of them together.

Um, OK. 

While the rest of us abstained from dessert, Cassi and Jason did get the cobbler. 

THE VERDICT

The calamari, while tasty, was not exactly $11-for-a-portion-that-barely-feeds-one-of-us delicious. The sauce was maybe the best part, it had some spice to it. But we really savored each bite like it was the last portion of food we might ever see.  

Meanwhile, Ted was quite happy with his fancy tuna app. He said he’s never had it with the sesame crust before, but that was a nice touch. 

However, it didn’t compare to his steak sandwich, which he claimed was “one of the best he’s ever had.” 

Sounds impressive, right? Well, until he countered with the fact that he’s only probably had one other steak sandwich on all of our WTGW outings … which makes that statement more than a little less impressive. Let’s just call this the asterisk with the tiny print that indicates “results may be skewed.”   

I asked him on a scale of one to the-fries-he-loved-at-Barrel Lodge, what’s the verdict then?

He didn’t quite answer that, except to say the steak was really good and there just happened to be bread. So do with that what you will, I guess. 

When asked, Jason said the cobbler was “just awful.” But we all quickly caught on that that was just for our benefit so we didn’t feel bad that we didn’t also order it.

Translation: it was pretty spectacular.

What a good friend. I mean, he also said the same thing about the beer that Healthy Shane couldn’t drink. Way to take one for the team. 

Our bill was close to $70, but almost half of that was alcohol, so you know, we’re obviously pretty proud of that fact.

Despite all of my pokes at our server, I will have to say that at least he was super attentive. A little spacey, sure, but he did get us what we needed when we asked, and was honest when he didn’t know the answer or didn’t care enough to go ask someone else. He also was very punctual with drink refills. Maybe too much so, as I think we all had one or two more rounds than we had intended (see above comment about our bill) … but hey, what are Wednesday nights for, right? 

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Shane

WTGW 2/12/20: Butcher & Sprout, Cuyahoga Falls

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Welcome to another cold, snowy and wintery edition of WTGW. Clearly our feud with Mother Nature is still alive and well. 

Fortunately for us, this table fire is holding strong.

Anyone up for some patio seating? No? 

Butcher & Sprout is one of the newer offerings to Cuyahoga Falls’ restaurant scene, which means that someone has been listening to us when we asked for more restaurants to open up closer to our house. It’s housed in the lower Front St building that formerly was home to The Office. 

The interior still seems somewhat similar to The Office, albeit a little brighter on the inside. There’s still a deceptively small-looking front dining room when you walk in, and then a (presumably a bit larger?) back dining area with a bar that we all seemed to forget about until we noticed people being led back there.

We think it’s a back dining room and bar, anyway. I mean, those same people did eventually emerge from said area, so I’m sticking to that conclusion. 

The concept at Butcher & Sprout is all farm to table, locally sourced, fresh foods and meats. 

Translation: probably about as healthy as you can get for a group like ours that orders things fried and in large quantity. 

We also found this on their website after Ted gave us advance notice of tonight’s pick:

To which I teased him because picking a place that doesn’t take reservations is pretty off-brand for him. But, hey, I guess not every place can be as happening as the now-shuttered place-that-shall-not-be-named-but-rhymes-with-Russ’-Ballet

Friends never let friends forget bad picks. That’s pretty much the motto of this group. 

WHAT WE ORDERED

Our meals tonight were a little bit like an episode of Oprah’s talk show:

AND YOU GET A BURGER,
AND YOU GET A BURGER,
AND YOU GET A BURGER.

You see where I’m going here. 

But, I mean, when you tout all farm raised beef, how can you not try it?

Well, I mean, I didn’t – because I was actually debating a BLT, but then opted for the turkey burger, so I guess I kind of missed that train. And the guys thought for a hot minute about ordering the plant based burgers, but then apparently remembered that’s not even something that Healthy Shane wants to spend time with on a WTGW. 

But the point is, it was burgers of some variety all around at the table this evening. 

Which, I mean, is so unlike us any other time, right? I KNOW.  

As mentioned, I had the turkey burger, but added bacon to it because that was the part of the BLT that was really stuck inside my head. 

I tried to order the seasonal veggies as my side, but was told they were out of them. Much like the black cherry White Claw that I tried to order at the top of the meal but was also told they were out of. I mean, bonus points for knowing this before the sixth or seventh trip back to the cooler (Yes, I’m looking at you, Jojo’s Sports Grille) and also they had the Truly black cherry which is honestly really just the same thing in a different can, so all good.

But the point is I was apparently not meant to be purchasing any lottery tickets anytime this evening. 

However, it was explained – for the veggies anyway – that since they buy everything fresh daily, they only have limited quantities of certain things on the menu. And apparently there was a big party in the private room that night … and of all things to run the restaurant out of, they picked the seasonal veggies. 

OK then. Thanks, healthy people. Side salad for me, I guess. 

Shane got the ‘Shroomin Burger. He tried to order it rare, but when the server kindly told him that it would be very pink and cool in the middle he thought twice of that decision and went the next level up. 

See also: the reason we still have not returned to The Rail, despite the fact that Shane is clearly still alive.

He also got truffle fries. Which may need to duel with Ted’s fries from last week, they were that amazing. 

Ted got the Breakfast Burger, and I bet you can’t guess why it has that name. 

Cassi got the burger called “You’re My Boy, Bleu,” but then subbed out the bleu cheese for cheddar. Because “You’re My Boy, Cheddar” has an even more exceptional ring to it, we know.

She got the Brussels Sprouts as a side (which clearly were NOT the seasonal vegetable, as they still had plenty of those available), and then – because apparently someone had to show Healthy Shane how it’s really done when you want to eat right – also added a side salad.

Jason got the Butcher burger, which is similar to the Breakfast burger in that it comes with bacon and cheese, but sub out the egg for BBQ sauce and pancetta.  

And lest you think we forgot appetizers, Shane and I got the pickle fries.

And Ted got the shishito peppers in ginger sauce. Fancy. 

THE VERDICT

So, yeah, pickle fries should really be a thing at more places. They were very tasty. It was like what if fried green beans and pickle spears had a child and only the best qualities were represented from each party. 

The sauce on them was a bit on the spicy side, but in a good way. Like your mouth is on fire, but you’re happy about it. 

Ted bit into the peppers and at first said they were just OK … then a few minutes later there was a quick “oh, there it is.” So unlike the quick fire from our app sauce, the peppers were more of a slow burn build up. 

They also ended up being a great condiment for his burger once that arrived. 

Speaking of burgers, they were definitely a hit. Jason commented on the flavor of the patty itself, and he and Cassi both said that you could tell the beef was fresh. Cassi was also a fan of the balsamic sauce on hers. Cassi said she would definitely put it in her Top 5, if she was one to keep one of those lists. 

While Shane didn’t exactly give it Top 5 honors, he did say it was in the Top 10.

So. Close. 

He said he would like to try the Breakfast Burger (the one Ted ordered) the next time around. And he would probably order it even further up on the “doneness scale” the next time around, which is really saying something considering he’s not at all a fan of well done meats.

So if medium rare was too undone, I can only imagine we’d be putting this place on the “we can’t ever go back there because it tried to kill me” list if he had gone ahead with that original rare order. 

Fortunately for us, though, I have a feeling a return visit will be in the cards. Perhaps when we can actually enjoy a the patio seating without fear of frostbite. 

Although judging from the photo below of Cassi, it seems maybe my fingers had already stopped functioning properly anyway well before we left the restaurant, so maybe I probably could’ve gone ahead with that challenge regardless. Hmm.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

WTGW 1/29/20: Barrel Lodge Bar & Grille, Streetsboro

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Hey, it’s January in Ohio, let’s go to … the golf course?

Well, I mean, it’s pretty much guaranteed to not be busy, right?

Also can you tell we’re a little sick of your crap, Mother Nature? One week we’re at a tiki bar, and another we’re at a golf course. If you listen carefully, you might hear us trying to tell you something.

Just a thought.

But seriously, how can you not go to Barrel Lodge Bar & Grille no matter what time of year it is, when they post amazing photos like this on their Facebook page?

Patio picture included for wishful thinking, since obviously we didn’t dine there this evening. Or even glimpse it, seeing as it gets dark at like 5:30PM these days.

Still looking at you, Mother Nature. Yes, we’re bitter. And cold.

The one décor item that we would suggest Barrel Room may want to step up, though, is their outdoor lighting game. I mean, while I get drawing attention to yourselves to stand out on the obsessively dark road this place is located on, the neon white lights they chose to frame the front windows screamed more pay-as-you-go cellular in the bad part of town than classy golf course dining establishment with a log cabin décor and this impressive chandelier and fireplace.

WHAT WE ORDERED

How did we miss the memo that Truly was coming out with new flavors? Like, seriously, I don’t know how we haven’t reached influencer status with the hard seltzer water companies by this point, but someone needs to add us to the top of that email chain regarding new product launches. We love you. Please help us help you.

And to prove that point, our first review of the Mango Lemonade flavor is a thumbs up. There.

Meanwhile, the guys opted for the new PBR Hard Coffee. Which, yes, is apparently a thing. Maybe not a thing that the world truly needed or that we care to research any further after this juncture, but, sure, it’s a thing nonetheless.

Jason was clearly not a fan, although he gave it a valiant effort. Ted remarked that he wasn’t sure if the Peanut Butter Porter he ordered afterwards was somewhere on the “beer has gone bad” scale or just tasted odd because he sipped that PBR first.

So there you go.

Cassi and Jason got the loaded tots as an app.

They were really good, due primarily to the use of real cheese and not just that goopy bright yellow fake cheese sauce you usually find on fried apps. They were also crispy, which means that real cheese makes things less soggy. Score.

Shane and I got the fried mushrooms. They were giant, and also beer battered like our perpetual favorite, that giant basket of fried veggies you get at a county fair. You know, the thing that sounds like it has the potential to be healthy until it gets dipped in batter and hits the vat of boiling oil.

Ted abstained from apps since he had already decided he would be ordering a full meal … to which we asked when that has ever stopped him in the past?

Regardless, he got the perch dinner.

So, I’m not really sure how Ted felt about the perch part of that dinner, but I can say with certainty that the French fries were the clear highlight of his meal. He was in love with them.

Like, couldn’t stop raving about them. Like, the beginning of a new relationship where every minute thing the other person does is the best thing in the universe – i.e. “you should see how well she butters a slice of bread!” or “he is the best at remembering to use a turn signal, I just love him.”

I mean, during the course of our meal the group would collectively talk around the table about three or four other topics, only to then hear Ted chime in with a sentence that had nothing to do with those topics and everything to do with his fries – like “but I think they’re, like, rosemary flavored.”

We’ll just leave him in his own little world over there and come back to him at the end of the night.

Cassi got the buffalo chicken salad. She was a fan, said it was really good. And it didn’t come with 4000 olives, like last week’s unfortunate adventure. 

I mean, clearly not “Ted’s fries” level of good, but there seem to be few things in this world that can be.

Meanwhile, lest you think we forgot to have any chicken wings on our table, this week’s appearance of Healthy Shane meant ordering only 20 wings – 10 Garlic Romano and 10 Cajun. I say “only,” because normally that would be the side to his burger, pizza, or other actual meal of some kind. I think after he placed the order we all stopped and just stared at him, waiting for there to me more words to the sentence.

And of course no Wednesday is complete without an appearance by the other WTGW staple: burgers.

Jason got the Barrel Burger, which is essentially a fancy way of saying a cheeseburger with a few different types of cheese and something called “barrel sauce.” Before you ask, no, I have no idea what that is.

My mushroom onion burger didn’t have a fancy name, but I did add bacon to it and I feel like that made it fancy regardless.

I also got a side salad, because who can let Healthy Shane have all the low calorie fun in this family? Exactly.

THE VERDICT

While I’m sure this place gets busy in the summer, what with the golfing aspect and great patio that we’ve only seen photos of on the website and all, we would totally advocate going in the winter just as well. It wasn’t busy in the least on the night we were there, the service was great, and the food was very tasty.

Particularly if you love French fries – although you may want to wait for a night when Ted isn’t there, because I think, should we return, that may be all he orders. He said that he may be one of the few in the group that doesn’t do Top Five lists … but if he did, this place would be at the top for the fries alone.

That’s high praise.

While they may not have been making any Top Five lists, the burgers did rate high with the group – and succeeded in making Shane jealous when they arrived at the table and he pronounced them more appetizing than his wings, just on sight alone. He probably would’ve given the place a full thumbs up overall had he not gotten .. well, his entire order, I guess.

We also ended up visiting during Streetsboro’s Restaurant Week – which I guess is a thing, who knew? The table tent said to mention it when we ordered to get a percentage off of our bill, although when we tried the server waved us off and said that she was already planning to give us the discount. So it sounds like those printing charges on the marketing budget were well spent.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 1/22/20: Puckers, Canton

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If we’ve been to a place before but can’t locate the review before we decide to go back, is it really a revisit?

This would be the WTGW version of the philosophical question “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Cassi said that she had tried looking up Pucker’s on this blog before she picked it for this visit, because she didn’t believe we couldn’t have missed it on all of our years of doing this. But while most places come up in a Google search with a link to our site, this one for whatever reason did not.

Guess that’s my cue to up our SEM game.

I’m not gonna lie, the name did sound familiar. The parking lot also make us stop and think that perhaps this was someplace we might’ve been before. But honestly, we’ve said that to ourselves when faced with pretty much any bar at the end of a non-descript strip plaza with other less-than-interesting tenants like a BMV, a take out pizza place, and something called “Ladies Super Fitness.”

I’m not sure what that says about us exactly, but I’m sure it’s not something we want to mention in certain crowds of people.

But it wasn’t until we got inside the front door that it all came back to me, and suddenly I could remember the exact booth we sat in and what we ordered.

Shane still wasn’t convinced, though, until we sat down (not in the same booth, but on the opposite side of the restaurant) and opened the menus, and he immediately zoned in on something called “bottle caps.” Which happen to be deep fried jalapeños.

And then it all apparently came rushing back.

Nothing like a little bit of fried pepper appetizers to jog your memory. Again, probably not something we want to mention in select company.

Once it was clear that we had actually set foot in this place previously, Shane became convinced that he must’ve been the one to discover this magical world of fried apps and burgers … to which I countered those were strong words for someone who 10 minutes prior didn’t even remember he’d even been there before in the first place.

WHAT WE ORDERED

And after all that, surprisingly no one ordered the bottle caps this time around. What?!?!?

But when asked Ted claimed it was because he didn’t see them on the menu this time around. Huh. So general blindness is the defense he’s going with, I guess.

Instead he ordered fried banana peppers. So, similar.

Shane and I started with soft pretzels.

Cassi and Jason opted for something called the Hushpuckers. Which in case you don’t speak “pucker,” are shredded potato bites covered with bacon ranch dressing.

I got the fried pickle burger – which is exactly what it sounds like, a burger with fried pickles on it – and a side salad.

Shane got the Viking burger – a patty adorned with bacon, cheddar cheese and french fries – and a side of onion rings. Because, you know, the fries are already on the sandwich, no use getting more of those.

Jason said to hell with that logic, also getting the Viking burger, but keeping the fries as a side.

Also, if you’ve noticed, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that at least moderately healthy Shane has learned to take a back seat on Wednesdays. Although he was still struggling through sipping tequila and sodas without making a bitter beer face.

Because he was “just in the mood for a chicken sandwich,” Ted got the $5.00 chicken sandwich special with the spicy garlic wing sauce.

Cassi got the spicy teriyaki boneless wings and a house salad.

THE VERDICT

My burger was good. It was done the way I asked and the fried pickles on it were really tasty. It was like getting just a taste of the app, without having to order the full thing. And since I liked the fried pickles the last time around I’m glad they haven’t changed.

The only thing I wasn’t really a fan of, though, was the bun. As someone who prides herself in using her carb calories wisely, I would’ve preferred something with more flavor.

I mean, can’t we all just agree to use ciabatta bread for all sandwiches? That would make life so much easier.

Cassi said the wings were pretty spicy, but also very good. She also got a little extra mental energy burn as she spent about five minutes extracting all of the olives that she didn’t know would be on her salad. Fun times.

In a strange twist, Ted didn’t eat all of his fried banana peppers. It was somewhat awkward when the server had to ask him if he wanted a box.

He said the chicken sandwich was OK, nothing great but nothing awful either.

After all the fuss of getting onion rings as a side, Shane found then to be the least impressive part of his meal. So he probably should’ve just stuck with the fries after all. Or maybe gone with an entirely different order all together, because the burger was “just OK.” It definitely wasn’t gaining entry onto any top 5 lists. And we all know the high honor that is Shane’s constantly evolving Top 5 list, so if you can’t make it there then you probably don’t even deserve to be called a burger.

Jason agreed.

The kicker of the evening came when our server committed the mortal error of all restaurant visits: bringing us the checks before we indicated that we were remotely ready to leave. Because nothing says “we’d love to have you stay and continue spending money on more alcohol” like dropping off the check without checking to see if we were actually finished with our evening.

Maybe in another five years we’ll once again debate how memorable our last visit was to Pucker’s as we stand in the parking lot staring at the Ladies Super Fitness. Anyone up for a takeout pizza instead?

This pick by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph
Original pick by Shane, which he was very concerned about making known

WTGW 1/8/20: Tiki Underground, Boston Heights

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Happy New Year, WTGW-ers!

Sorry for the absence, but with major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Wednesdays this year, we had to sit a few weeks out. I mean, as much as we love showcasing our functioning alcoholism and ability to continuously outsmart the odds of a heart attack with cholesterol-laded foods … OK, so really the holidays aren’t much different than any normal Wednesday for us, other than they provide an opportunity to share those qualities with our families, in the comfort of our own homes.

So there’s that.

But here we are in 2020, and nothing says crisp January evening like a tiki bar, am I right?

Tiki Underground has actually been a kind of “edge of the list” pick for the group for a bit now, ever since it opened in 2017(ish?).  I think part of the reason we were waiting to pick it was because this ill-fated location never seemed to house any sort of restaurant for too long of a time period, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up that it might be something we liked that would also stick around.

Case in point, we’ve been to this building when it was a Mexican restaurant (pre-blog) … and then when it was a sports bar called Sidelines … not on a Wednesday, but instead for an Ohio State/Michigan football Saturday after we got kicked out of another place for showing up and walking in the unlocked door 10 minutes before opening time. Seems those owners might be related to the folks who own Harmon’s Pub down in Canton?

But those places closed in a relatively short span – we’ve only been doing this since 2013, kids – and so it’s not a stretch to say that we didn’t really have high hopes for this new place, especially with a theme this specific. If a sports bar can’t make it, can we seriously hedge our bets on Hawaiian drinks and Polynesian cooking?

Apparently, we can, since it’s still open three years later. Or, someone can, anyway. It just may not be us.

Did I spoil the suspense there?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So let’s talk about the drinks first, because there’s clearly a lot going on here in that department.

That’s a lot of words that all mean “alcohol” in some way.

I mean, it is a tiki bar, after all, and drinks are kind of the main point. So I guess they’re kind of winning in that respect?

Although they may want to turn up the lighting in the place a smidge so that we can read what is in said drinks. And before you joke about calling us old – which, full disclosure, we did to Ted when he pulled his phone out to use the flashlight feature just to read the menu – we weren’t the only ones who went down that road. I mean, if you can’t tell from the photos, it was pretty unlit in this place. There were lights behind the bar, but everywhere else they were certainly more decorative than functional.

Also, who doesn’t want to see … whatever this is … more clearly? Because we all love having nightmares.

So once we could finally read the menu, we discovered lots of rum drinks – which is on brand for this whole island theme. But for those of you who prefer to avoid the hard alcohol, they do also have regular beer. In fact a whole section of “old man beers” like PBR ($2 on Wednesdays!) and Bud Lite. And White Claw and wines.

I was the only one to order something fun.

The food special for Wednesday’s is an “adult happy meal.” Which is exactly what it sounds like it should be – a burger and fries, with a beer. At $10 it’s a little more pricey than McDonald’s … but, well … beer.

Jason got that.

Ted started out with edamame as his appetizer.

If you’re thinking that looks a little odd … well, so were we. It arrived already shelled, which is not how we’re used to seeing that particular dish served. Ted said he would offer to share it with us, but it would’ve been a little strange since we would all need forks.

He also got 12 of the Thai chili wings – which I don’t have a photo of because when I looked back a them later the darkness made them just look like giant lumps – and the garlic fries

Cassi and Jason ordered the Crab Rangoon for their app. See above note as to why there is no photo of this dish.

Have we mentioned it was dark in this place?

And then Cassi got six of the boneless garlic parm buffalo wings.

If you think that photo is bad, just imagine what the one of Ted’s wings and of the crab Rangoon looked like. This is clearly not the place to be taking any magazine quality food photos.

I got the chicken soft tacos and a side salad.

Shane ordered the same thing. Yep, the exact same thing. If you’re thinking that sounds strange, and that I also didn’t mention an appetizer for us … well, now might be a good time to mention that Healthy Shane has rejoined the group, as he seems to pretty much every January. Because we all love the fun of watching him watch all of us eat completely unhealthy meals – or in this case, drool over just the smell of the crab rangoon when it arrived at the table – and drinks we actually want to taste while he complains about still being hungry and makes a bitter beer face every time he sips his tequila and soda.

THE VERDICT

Unfortunately for Shane, Cassi confirmed that the crab rangoon tasted as good as it smelled.

However, she was less impressed with the sauce that was on her wings. It was also the same sauce that was on Ted’s fries, and he wasn’t crazy about it either.

So the moral is, avoid the garlic sauce.

Although if you ask Ted, he might tell you to just avoid the whole place altogether. Between the weird edamame, wings that were breaded more than he likes and a not-so-delicious sauce on the fries, it was pretty much a strike out for him. Add to that all of the mixed drinks being laden with rum and other random mixers Ted isn’t a fan of. And most of the beers were also not-Ted-friendly, which meant the only thing he could drink was a Guinness.

So yeah, it definitely earned less than a thumbs up in his book. He said the only redeeming factor for him was the service, which was decent. Sort of.

Shane and I thought the tacos were good. They kind of had a sweet taste to them, but they were pretty tasty. But I would much rather come back on Thursdays, though, when they’re only $5 for three tacos.

The place does have some decent specials, and some of the food is better than expected. But I’m not sure the “some” here was enough to warrant us a return visit. For certain we know we don’t want to return when the band from this particular night was back on stage. And I use the term “band” lightly, as it was really just a guy with a microphone and guitar, and a really, really loud speaker system. To say it was a little bit intense for the crowd of less than 10 that was in place on this particular evening would be an understatement. We probably could’ve reversed the lighting and sound levels in the place and made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 12/21/19: Harmon’s Pub / That Christmas Bar, Canton

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Welcome to Harmon’s Pub: where the sign at the entrance says “seat yourself” but more than half of the open tables have “reserved” signs on them. How does that work, exactly? Do you have to time travel yourself into the future to get yourself a table so that you can place the sign before you actually arrive?

Hmmm.

And then when you finally do find an open table that hasn’t been previously reserved … you get legit yelled at by staff because putting a fifth person at the end of the booth would apparently be a fire hazard. Like, not a friendly “hey, I know it’s busy and you just want to grab a table but unfortunately we can’t have you sit like that.” Or a “you know what, that won’t work, but let me help you find another spot.” Nope, like screamed at because apparently our sitting in that location would cause a literal logjam to the stampede that would surely occur should someone decide to strike a match anywhere in the close vicinity.

And who says Canton isn’t hospitable? We should totally alert the CVB of a new campaign idea.

Luckily a different server saw us looking like we might just head for the hills and perhaps say something unfavorable about our experience (who, us??) and decided to step in. She found another booth on the opposite side of the restaurant in an area that seemingly supported end-of-the-table dining and asked the party of two occupying it if they would kindly switch with us.

And they did.

And we then sent them a drink.

See what being nice gets you, kids? Alcoholism. Let that be a life lesson for you.

Another good life lesson: don’t be an asshat when someone asks you is they can use one of the five unoccupied chairs from your table. Like I get that maybe other people are going to come sit with you eventually, or maybe your group of imaginary friends you’ve invited out for the evening don’t like to be crowded … but, like, our REAL LIVE friend is standing right here and kind of wanting to take a load off to enjoy the meal he’s anxiously waiting to order, so perhaps you can just calm the eff down there, Susan?

This is also how NOT to have us send you a drink as a thank you, even though you seem like you could use about 27 just to put you in any sort of enjoyable mood this evening.

It’s four days before Christmas, folks. Are you feeling festive yet? I mean, the beginning of our trip this week is kind of like the restaurant equivalent of heading to the mall during the holiday season.

WHAT WE ORDERED

But for all our troubles, at least they have White Claw! Yay!

And trivia, but that’s like a more muted yay.

Speaking of trivia, what’s one thing Ted will always order if it’s on any menu, anywhere?

If you answered meat on a stick, you’ve obviously been reading along with us for a hot minute. But yes, that’s one thing that Ted seemingly cannot resist in any restaurant setting. In this case, it was steak – but he has been known to order a lamb lollipop from time to time as well. So for future reference, pretty much meat of any kind is acceptable, as long as its on a stick.

So. Many. Jokes.

He also got the spicy garlic wings.

Fewer jokes, unless we want to go down the path of the fated burger and wing night at the Springfield Tavern.

Shane and I got the sausage dip as an app, as did Cassi and Jason.

Because you can never have enough sausage …. ok, never mind, between that and the meat on a stick story it seems we’re traveling down a dangerous road.

Anyway.

I got the bacon pretzel burger with a side salad.

Shane got the Reuben, after asking the server the age-old question of preference between that and a burger of any kind.

The server recommended the Reuben … and then in what I can only assume was an attempt to be helpful, but since she doesn’t know us at all she has no idea the implications of what she’s about to suggest … she points to me and says “well since she ordered a burger, you can always just split your orders so you each can try the other’s.”

As if. Clearly she doesn’t read this blog, or she would know that SHANE DOESN’T SHARE FOOD.

I mean, how many times do we need to share this GIF on this blog? I mean, before I revert to photoshop magic and change Joey’s face to Shane’s anyway.

I clearly need more free time in my life for these important projects.

Cassi got the wings dinner.

So it’s like wings, but with sides. Interesting concept. It seems like we’ve been ordering this in other forms for quite some time now, right? How nice of them to just make it a compact little ordering process for us.

Jason got the Western burger with fries, along with an order of BBQ wings.

Clearly we don’t have enough food here.

THE VERDICT

Remember that time just a few minutes ago when Shane almost ordered a burger? Well it’s a good thing he didn’t, because having just TWO arrive at the table – mine and Jason’s – was clearly more than our server could handle. She literally couldn’t tell them apart, and had to request assistance to do so.

I mean, I hate to state the obvious and all … but one of them is literally named a “pretzel burger,” which – in my mind anyway – would point a pretty direct finger at the burger that was positioned on a pretzel bun, and not a regular bun. Call me logical and all. But, like, you don’t even have to see the condiments or toppings to figure this part out.

Well since we’re talking about that part already, I should point out that was my favorite part of the sandwich. The actual burger was just OK. So, I guess Jason could’ve taken that part, but just saved me the bun?

Although the burger was actually was the same size as the bun, and we all know that’s a rarity.

Ted’s steak on a stick didn’t exactly rate in his Top 3, but it was still good.

The fact that he can even have a Top 3 in this category is something that should be noted here. I’m not sure what that note is, exactly, but it’s been taken.

He also said that the wings could’ve been spicier.

The jury was out on the sausage dip, with Cassi and Jason liking it, but Shane and I thinking it was a little … strange. Maybe it’s harkening back to our tailgating days where we just heated up some sausage crumbles and Velveeta in a crock pot and called it a hearty dip, but we weren’t crazy about all of the peppers and other things hanging out in this dip. We would’ve preferred just the basics.

Shane liked the Reuben a lot. So the server gets the points for that assist on that one.

Cassi liked her wing dinner, she said that the breading on the boneless wings was really good. But said that the service really soured the visit in general.

Which we would all agree was truthful. Aside from the whole “let’s yell at the new people for trying to seat themselves in an area they aren’t supposed to even though we didn’t tell them it was off limits” debacle that started the night … and the whole “let’s get the chef to come out and inspect the burger situation because I can’t tell a pretzel bun for a regular one” … our  server at our “approved” table was a bit touch and go.

For instance, when a server asks you, after you’ve placed your order for a sandwich, “fries with that?” … well, you kind of think that they’re included, right, and the server is just asking you if that’s an OK option or if you’d like to substitute out, no?

Um, no. Each of those side orders was $2-$3, which we didn’t know until we got the bill. I mean, kudos to her for upselling us, but that sales tactic is a little risky in my opinion.

On top of that, Cassi got charged for a side salad when her meal was a dinner – we’ve been over this already – and should’ve had a salad and tater tots included. So much for revolutionizing the way we order. I take it all back. We’re clearly doing just fine on our own, thank you very much.

Probably the saddest part about our disappointment at Harmon’s Pub is that we had hoped we might have made this a more frequent location, thanks to it’s proximity to That Pop-Up Bar, located across the street.

If you haven’t heard of this place yet, it’s a bar that continuously changes themes, based on the time of year. Being that we’re four days out from Christmas, we of course wanted to make a stop here while it’s themed as “That Christmas Bar.”

I mean, we had to wash the taste of Blitzen’s out of our mouth, right?

And that we did, only in Shane’s case it was replaced with the taste of … well … bourbon. And lots of it.

Let’s just say that this warning on the menu is legit,folks. 

But overall this place was worth the price of the inhospitable nature of our dinner choice across the street and the bourbon hangover that Shane will likely be facing tomorrow. From the décor to the music to the drink specials to the crowd of people under the age of 90 … this is what pop up Christmas bars should be like.

We can’t wait to see what the next theme is. This may become a game to see who can pick the best place nearby each time it changes?

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Shane