WTGW 9/20/17: Springfield Tavern, Ellet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cassi: Told you so.

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

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

Classy.

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

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

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

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

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

Wings, take one: Hot

Wings, take two: Arizona Ranch

Wings, take three: BBQ

And last but not least, Mild

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic burger and bun, repeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Shane

Ted

Steph

Cassi

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WTGW 9/13/17: 3 Brothers Corner Tavern, Canton

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I kind of curse Ted this week, since this is one of those places I’ve had on my “possibilities” list forever but never got around to making the drive back to Canton to pick. And of course it couldn’t be a place we end up hating. I mean, I know he’s still redeeming himself from Gus’s Chalet, so guess I should let him have this one … but still.

Anyway.

I can’t actually tell you where in Canton we were, since Google Maps directions took us off the highway what seemed to be about 20 miles too early, and we were then left wandering through farm country back roads until we got to the place. Shane of course revived the running joke about us going to dinner at someone’s house.

I have to admit that given the appearance of many of the houses we drove past in this area, it wouldn’t have been a completely unwelcome idea. At least not on our end anyway. Those whose driveway we might’ve turned down would probably have differing opinions. You’ll have that, I guess.

So 3 Brothers is owned by the same people who own a couple of other Canton establishments like Table Six and 91 Wood Fired Pizza Grille. It seems they have a thing with numbers?

And while the place looked great from the outside – located on the corner end of a strip plaza – the giant group of senior citizens leaving as we were pulling up gave us all a reason to cross glances and comment on what this place could potentially be like inside.

The Gus’s sting still runs hard, folks.

Although despite two comments about good old Gus’s already in this post, I assure you there were no other similarities between these two places to tell you about. In fact, I think Ted finally redeemed himself.

3 Brothers is really nice on the inside – basically an upscale sports bar. Lots of TVs on the walls and around the bar in the center of the space, and each booth also comes equipped with its own TV (and they even trust us with the remote – take that Dante’s, who wouldn’t even leave me alone with more than one rocks glass).

Our server came over to take our drink order, and when we asked about draft beers she nicely read us the draft list on the wall instead of just pointing to it for us to read and telling us to pay attention. She may have been saying those words to us inside her head, but her tact in keeping them to herself was noted and appreciated.

Ted went with something dark-ish, and Shane and I opted for summer shandy. Because when you can still get that in the middle of September (otherwise known as the start of “pumpkin everything” season) you capitalize on it.

Although, side note, the guys later sampled and then ordered the Atomic Pumpkin beer that was on tap, and I was slightly upset that I hadn’t gotten that one also. It was my favorite type of pumpkin beer – the kind where it doesn’t taste like you’re drinking beer that’s been mellowing out inside of a giant hollowed out pumpkin, but instead has a more subtle pumpkin flavor with some cinnamon and nutmeg. Pie trumps jack o’lantern anyday.

So the first thing we noticed on the menu was the prices:

Is this new math?

See anything odd there? I think I’m on to something with that numbers theme that the owners seem to have going on. I mean, why end your prices in the industry standard of zeros or fives or nines when you can instead go with threes? That’s simple.

PS – we see what you did there. I’m going to be disappointed if 91 Grille doesn’t have prices ending in “91” and Table Six features meals ending in “6.” Just sayin.

After asking our server to read us the beer board, we thought it only fair to also quiz her on here favorite items on the menu. We’re funny like that. But she was prepared for our kind, and her immediate answer was the fish tacos. She followed that with the fish sandwich, the burgers, and the quesadilla … but the tacos stuck with Ted. Sold.

And at least there was nothing on the menu noting that “if they smell like fish, eat them” like a few weeks ago. A little safer venue for seafood, it seems.

So Ted got those, as well as hot garlic wings. And the fried pickles as an app. Because … oh, come on, I really shouldn’t have to justify this to you anymore, kids. We like food.

He also warned the server that he would want to order the Smores pie for dessert, at which time she let us know there was a new dessert not on the menu yet called “pumpkin love.” Um, what now? Please, tell us more. It seems it’s something with pumpkin pie filling, cinnamon, vanilla ice cream … and I stopped listening after that because I was already sold.

But we’ll get to that later.

Shane and I got the sausage dip as an app. I got the polar bear burger (which comes with fried peppers and pepper jack cheese on it) with tater tots, and Shane got the Elvis burger (with bacon and fried egg on it) plus fries. Not to be outdone by Ted, he also got six of the boneless dry cajun rub wings.

First one to say there are starving children in Africa gets smacked

Now seems like as good a time to remind you that we’re only a table of three people. Three. Who all like to play a little game of attempting to cheat death by clogged arteries and high blood pressure. Good times.

The pickle chips were the clear winner of the apps. The sausage dip was good – liked that it came with both pita and tortilla chips, and it was good and cheesy with lots of big chunks of sausage … although eat it when its warm because once it chillls the cheese makes it difficult to scoop out of the bowl. Learn from our mistakes.

You’ll notice Ted’s hands are nowhere near this one

But back to the pickle chips, the breading on them was so light and thin that you hardly noticed it. And the pickles weren’t overly salty, so they didn’t just take them from a jar and fry them. They seemed homemade, like someone is taking huge pickles from a jar in the back and slicing them up themselves. I can’t confirm that, but in our heads that’s what was happening.

Can you teach other restaurants the secret to making these? Pretty please?

My burger was excellent. I got medium and it was done just perfect. The bun was also really good, not a specialty bread but not dry like regular buns. The fried peppers weren’t too soggy, but not burnt either. Delicious.

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the tots. *gasp!* I mean, by now you all know I’m a bit of a tot connoisseur, and rarely ever do I leave one on my plate after a meal. But these just weren’t up to par. They weren’t crispy enough. It was like eating a half cooked hash brown. I left most of them on my plate.

Ted said his wings were really good, they were hot but not so much so that your mouth felt like you had 1000 habereno peppers chilling out in there.

I think we’re missing one there?

His taco was – in his words – “the best he’s ever had.” That’s high praise there, folks. He said the combination of the ginger rings and the jalepeno salsa that they had on the side was amazing.

Server’s suggestion for the win

He let us try that salsa and I would’ve eaten a full appetizer of that with chips, it was that damn good.

Following on the high praise train, Shane declared this one of his top three burger places. Wait, what? Those are big words, especially since 3 Brothers wasn’t a Shane pick. He ordered his burger rare and it was definitely pink on the inside, which he claims is exactly how he likes it.

It may not look like much but it made Shane’s list

I’m still not sure how he was OK with this one but yet the one from the Rail years ago was trying to kill him, but whatever.

Our service was excellent. At one point Ted set his empty plates on the corner of the table just to get them out of the way, and within about two seconds the server swooped in and grabbed them out of nowhere. Like, none of us even saw her nearby. Ted was like, was she just lurking there waiting? Shane put a few more plates in the same spot as an experiment, and lo and behold it was the same effect. It was like a giant hand from god swooped in and cleared them away, if we hadn’t been paying attention we never would’ve seen it.

We’re also suckers for a good sense of humor. I give you this exchange as an example:

Me, to a very full Shane: I’ll give you $5 if you eat this leftover packet of Hellman’s mayo
Shane: No way, I’m about to explode
Ted: I’ll throw in another $5
Shane: Seriously, I think I may vomit
Server, who approached as we were still taunting him: I’m in for another $5. You should totally take this one.

He didn’t, by the way. But it was nice that she was more concerned with jumping in on our bet than the potential vomit she may have to clean up if he had.

But I think the real reason we liked her so much was that she let us in on that little secret about that pumpkin dessert that wasn’t printed on the menu. I mean, as if we didn’t like this place enough already, but damn. We ended up getting two – one for Ted, and one for me and Shane to split (which – for those of you who know the usual rule that “Shane doesn’t share food”- he only agreed to this since he was already uncomfortably full and didn’t think he could eat the whole thing, although once he tasted it I think he wished he’d left more room to hoard one all to himself). Seriously, if you go in the fall and don’t see this on the menu, ask about it, and then order it. Ted had originally really wanted the smores, but once she talked about this one he knew he would regret not getting it. We rationalized it saying that the smores is always there, but this is special for now.

They don’t put the word “love” in the title for nothing, folks

We may be using that rationale a lot as we find reasons to go back pretty much every week throughout fall just to be able to order it continuously.

We were all super stuffed when we left, but it was so wroth it. Also, mine and Shane’s bill was only $55 – which for an app, two burgers, wings, three beers and an amazingly delicious dessert, isn’t too shabby.

And while we may still not exactly let you live down Gus’s, Ted … this could buy you at least a few weeks of us not teasing you mercilessly for it.

Shane (do you think he liked it?)

Ted

Steph

 

3 Brothers Corner Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 8/30/17: Dante’s County Line Saloon, Brecksville

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I remember seeing this place years ago when Shane and I stopped in at the country western shop across the street (which, can we just talk for a moment about the randomness of a country western shop – we’re talking cowboy hats, boots, horse riding gear, all the bells and whistles – being across the street from a place with “saloon” in the title? In the middle of northeastern Ohio? It’s like this intersection stepped into 1950s Texas) Anyway, we weren’t sure back then if this place was actually open – and even after looking at reviews prior to tonight’s visit I have to admit I still wasn’t 100% sure. Because that speaks well for business, no?

Also, a sidenote on said reviews …. if you happen to look up Dante’s it seems that either they are talking about two very different places on the same review site, or this Dante’s has been redecorated fairly recently. And neither of those ideas really seem plausible, since the “new” decor doesn’t really look like a recent renovation (unless there’s a new decorating trend to make things look worse than before?) … and also the chances of two places being a name that uses the word “saloon” in the title are less than likely. But OK.

Shane was mad I picked this place, because as soon as we pulled up he knew it had “him” written all over it. I mean, “saloon.” Of course.

There were plenty of cars parked outside – leading us to  assume correctly that it actually was open – but then we walked inside and there’s this teeny tiny interior. Like so small we wondered where all the people driving those cars were hiding. Did we miss a secret entrance to a side room somewhere? Is everyone in the kitchen with the cook? Do half those cars not even run and are just parked there to help people like us believe it’s a real place? Interesting marketing strategy, if that’s the case.

In addition to the small bar and dining room area, there was a giant covered patio out back (which looked more like a park pavilion than a patio) but it also wasn’t too full there. Hmmm.

But back to the inside … there are 12 tables. I counted. And it’s definitely a regulars kind of place. The guys sitting at the table nearest the door weren’t officially bouncers, but they may as well been given the looks they shot us newcomers as we walked in.

There are no draft beers at Dantes, only bottles. That was a touch surprising. Add it to the list, I guess.

I had read that the burgers were good, so I went with the mushroom swiss. I found it odd that the menu gave a description of that particular burger, when it seems pretty obvious by the title. I mean, the saloon burger? Sure, that needs an explanation. The fiesta burger? Again, could use some help here. But the mushroom swiss burger? I think I got this one, thanks.

Ready for your close up there mushrooms?

Anyway, it comes with a side, so I got fries, and then also ordered a small side salad. Balance.

Don’t be fooled, this healthiness will change soon

Shane got the same burger, only he mistakenly got the fritters as a side because he thought the burger automatically came with fries and he was adding on the fritters.

OK, so maybe those explanations are helpful after all.

He also got a pound of the garlic parm wings. Because clearly our table was going to be bare.

When you can see the garlic that’s usually not a good sign for anyone else at the table

Ted got a pound of the Jamaican jerk wings, and also the “Maui steak.” Which spurred a debate later, as I thought that was under the salad portion of the menu, but ted thought it was just a steak prepared “Maui style.” Which he had never had before (quick poll: has anyone ever even heard of that as a way to prepare steak? No? Weird), but was excited to try.

Yeah, I was right, it was a salad. But the presentation was lovey, and he did say later that it was fine, because it turned out to be delicious. It actually earned the distinction as like one of three places he would admit to being happy about ordering a salad from, since it was that good. It should be noted that the other salads that he listed in his top favorites were horribly unhealthy and included toppings like fries and fatty dressings. So score for this place that a real, bona fide, healthy salad made the list.

This is not usually what we see in front of Ted

But going back to our usual array of unhealthy entrees … the wings were huge. And apparently baked on the surface of the sun, as Ted discovered the hard way. Both Ted and Shane agreed that the wings were too salty. The Jamaican jerk was OK as a seasoning, Ted said he wasn’t used to that being a dry rub but it was alright. Shane said his wings were definitely garlicky and he’d not be able to get that taste out of his mouth for some time.

My those at large wings you have there

As far as the burgers, Shane said his didn’t have much flavor and that it wasn’t as big as he was expecting it to be. But I thought it was OK. It was done as ordered, but it wasn’t overly flavorful. Maybe they should put that in the description? I mean, that seems to be the less obvious point about that particular burger anyway.

We did observe that, for tiny, hole-in-the-wall place, though, it looked like there was a real chef in the little kitchen in the back. Like the kind that wears the fancy jacket and all. And he seemed to take real pride in his work. There was no “I went to culinary school and now all I get to cook are obviously described burgers at a saloon” attitude about him. He actually came out once as he was leaving and asked a table how things were, and genuinely cared about the answer.

Dante’s is definitely a place of regulars, but not completely unwelcome. Well, once you get past that initial bouncer table anyway. Although we did notice a difference in the level of service for us versus the regulars. Like, for instance, the server  wouldn’t bring me a second drink until I finished my first. It was  like she didn’t trust me with the glassware. I mean, OK, if you open up our cupboard of glasses at home you would probably notice a few with special bar emblems or sports team schedules printed on them – so, yes, we’ve been known to sneak out a glass from time to time. But these were nothing special. So basically don’t flatter yourselves, Dantes. Please.

Overall I’d say I’m not sure it’s worth the trip back. I mean, if we were in the area and wanted to try out the pavilion area in the back, or if Ted’s in the mood for some healthy greens, then sure. But beyond that, let’s just say it seems we’re better off riding into the sunset toward greener pastures there partners. Yee haw.

Steph … and creepy Shane

Shane

Ted

WTGW 8/23/17: Theo’s Bar & Grill, Ellet

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So as we pulled up to this week’s pick, I made a comment that I think it may well be the smallest building we’ve ever been to. It was like Red Riding Hood walking up to her Grandmother’s cabin in the woods.

It may also potentially be the only place we’ve visited for dinner that you can buy a bag of ice from one of those weird cooler machines located just outside the front door. You know, in case those leftovers need some refrigeration on the drive home, I guess.

Another great first impression:

Aunt Mildred? Are you home?

This was what greeted us as we walked through the front door. Which almost caused Shane to turn and run in the opposite direction, lest his pick be the dive bar version of our infamous Gus’s Chalet. And of course he can’t have that on his record.

Continuing the “we’re just trying to get inside the front door” obstacle course: an older man steering a very drunk, teetering on the edge of passing out older woman through the front door past us.

So far we’re painting a lovely picture, I know. But at least things got better.

The place is definitely tiny inside. But homey, as Shane called it. Maybe in part thanks to these lovely purple-ish table lamps on half of the tables in the place. Classy.

It’s like drinking at your Uncle Joe’s house

I mean, I’m sure they were like $5 each at Big Lots or something like that, but it’s the thought that counts?

Anyway.

We were greeted by quite possibly the softest spoken bartender we’ve ever encountered. It was like she was whispering most of the time. Or maybe we’re going deaf. Either of those are a good possibility. She was super nice, though, and always checked on us when our drinks were low throughout the course of the evening – but every time she left I think we felt like we were on the Seinfeld episode with the low talker.Ted asked about dark beer, and was told there was Shiner Bock, or Yingling, which is “kind of darker.” So, no then. He started with a Shiner and then switched to a jack and coke after the first round.

Shane got a Bud Light and I went with a tequila and soda. Two things to note: they have no draft beer, only botttles … and they pour heavy. I mean, we’re not talking Windsor Pub heavy, but still more than I was expecting.

The menu was bigger than the entire interior of the restaurant, I  think. Very unexpected for a little dive bar. Although when we saw the cook come out of the kitchen and retrieve items from a freezer strategically placed on the other side of the dining room it kind of put things back into perspective a bit.

We tried to order the breaded mushrooms as an app, but were told they were all out. Actually we knew they were all out prior to the low talking server coming to tell us, because we saw the cook consult the freezer, then call the server over to have a little chat. So at least we had time to prepare ourselves for the disappointing news and decide on an alternative. We chose the poppers instead. And calamari. Because, well, all the apps were like $4 each, and we clearly like food, so why not.

The calamari was OK. It was definitely straight from that freezer in the corner, as all the pieces looked like onion rings. And after eating a few of them I identified the breading as being the same as what they use on cheese sticks. So in a way they were really just some onion-ring-cheese-stick-with-no-onion-or-cheese hybrid. Interesting. Kudos to the server for asking us if we wanted some sauce to dip them in, as they usually don’t come with anything. She suggested marinara. I’m thinking after enough requests for that she must have this down pat.

Onion rings or calamari? Your guess.

We were hopeful that maybe the poppers might be homemade instead of frozen, since they arrived looking a bit ununiform – but alas we were wrong. They honestly didn’t have much flavor, which was disappointing. But at least the breading wasn’t the same as the calamari. So there’s that.

Another product of the dining room freezer of wonders

Ted was tempted to order the tilapia entree, since he thought something other than burgers sounded good. But then he noticed the line “if it smells like fish, eat it” on the menu above the seafood section, and that kind of changed his mind a bit. Interesting marketing. If our table was any indication, they may want to rework that.

He went with the Blazin Burger instead. Which the name apparantely doesn’t lie on. He said it was super spicy, that whatever the white sauce was on it (which I think we all thought originally would be some sort of cheese sauce) was really super hot. And that it may even make him sweat. That’s a tall order from someone who once ate a habereno pepper and tried to play it off like it was no big deal

Watch out for that white hot sauce from hell

We asked the server about two burgers on the menu – the Theo’s Best and the Bad Kitty – since both of the descriptions included “lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese and mushrooms.” Like, OK, what’s the difference? Other than a 75 cent price differential anyway. She said one is bigger. And that people always ask her about that. Well, of course, why change the menus, let’s just keep answering questions. Duh.

So I got one and Shane got the other. Mine (supposedly the smaller one) arrived on a regular bun, while Shane’s (supposedly the larger one) was on a hoagie. And when you looked at his from the side you could tell there was more meat in his … but not by much. Like maybe mine was 1/4 lb patty and his was 1/3 lb or something like that.

I mean, it’s 75 cents that separates one from the other, so we get that it wouldn’t be a whole other patty included … but still. It seemed like such a small difference to even warrant two separate line items on the menu. Not to mention stocking two separate sizes of buns. But OK.

That classy lamp messed with my photo skills

Same burger, super sized

We all pretty much agreed that overall the burgers weren’t big enough. I mean, they’re also like $5 each – so I guess we shouldn’t be too picky – but it seemed like they could up the size of the patties overall just a bit. As Ted said, the actual burger was almost secondary to all of the other stuff going on in there. Like you need more meat to compete with all of the toppings. (that’s what she said) He said that he would be willing to pay an extra $2.50 or so to get a whole other patty on the same sandwich, or at least have some sort of option like that for all of the different burgers on the menu. Because, you know, we’re kind of experts on this stuff by now and all.

We also all agreed that the crinkle cut fries (added on for another like $1.25 or $1.50 to each sandwich) were perfect, though. I’m partial to crinkle cuts to begin with, but these ones were done exactly right, crispy on the outside without being mushy on the inside. And they were hot. Perks of a small place, I guess – not much time from kitchen to table.

Theo’s is another of the many places that now has one of those Queen of Hearts drawings on Wednesdays nights (ah, the joys of marketing), so we each ponied up some cash to join in. None of us won, but a guy at the bar has his ticket pulled and the card he turned over earned him $100, so he did want any good alcoholic does … spent his winnings on more booze.

Who knew a little piece of plastic could make people so happy

That worked out well for us, as he announced he was buying the whole bar a round of drinks. Which sounds impressive, until you consider that there were eight people total he was buying for, including himself and his wife. Well, 10 if you count the cook and the server, who also helped themselves to a drink of choice. But hey, we weren’t complaining, and Ted turned around and bought a drink for the winner and his wife in return also to say thank you from our group.

Of course that extra drink left us all a little bit cheerier as we left Theo’s – and it was in some ways a cool little place, but again, as with so many places we visit, not sure if it’s worth the drive to return all that often. However, mine and Shane’s tab, for two mixed drinks, two bottles of beer, two apps and two burgers with fries: $38.75. This is why we love dive bars, folks. We’re cheap dates.

Shane

Ted

Steph

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

 

WTGW 8/16/17: Hibachi Japan,Cuyahoga Falls

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It’s Ted’s pick this week, which means that yet again we started out at one place but had our meal at another. I’m sensing a trend here.

Our first attempt this week was the HiHo Brewery in the new section of Front St in Cuyahoga Falls – which looked to have promise, as it’s in a great space (what appears to be an old garage, it seems?) with plenty of tables inside and a small patio space outside, and a decent list of handcrafted beers. However, the food list is smaller than what we could likely get at one of the food trucks we judged a few months ago. Like unless you want a cheese and meat tray or a giant soft pretzel – or a salad, because that’s what everyone craves when you’re sampling high potency beers, right? – you’re pretty much out of luck. They had one meal that looked somewhat appetizing (the pork sliders) but beyond that we were all at a loss.

So off we went. Ted didn’t even get to guzzle down a draft this time either.

His Plan B – because at least he knows he needs a second option nearby – was the hibachi place just down the street, relocated from another space a little further north on the same street. We hadn’t been to the old place, so we can’t judge based on the former property. And honestly the last time this group went to a hibachi restaurant together was years ago at Wasabi in Fairlawn, and of course since we were all starving (what!?! That’s new, right?) we didn’t want to wait for a cook table and instead just grabbed a regular table and ordered off the full menu instead of hibachi.

So in other words, this is a new experience for us as a group. If you’re keeping track, that’s four years of Wednesdays before we finally sat around a giant open grill and had someone prepare our food right in front of us. And, no, the open kitchen grill at that scary house in Solon that left us all smelling like a grease fire after only 10 minutes inside doesn’t count.

Anyway.

Hibachi Japan looks great inside, probably in part because it’s all new and shiny. And it’s ALL hibachi. Unless you want to sit in the bar and only order sushi, you have to sit at one of the cook tables. Each one seats 10, I think – although our group only ended up being the three of us, another group of three, and a late arriving pair of women. But we only waited about 10 minutes to be seated, so we weren’t complaining.

We found out later that we weren’t blessed with one of the more “fun” chefs, probably due to the fact that we had a smaller/mixed party, and also that none of us were celebrating birthdays. I guess this must be the new Wednesday celebratory hot spot, because I swear we heard no less than four iterations of that song from other tables in the few hours we were there. Just a warning to be prepared for that. And as hard as Ted to convince Shane that he SHOULD be celebrating a birthday this week, unfortunately no servers were summoned to our table for round number five. Nice try.

It goes without saying that we all got the hibachi. I mean, you don’t sit at a giant stovetop where a person is going to freshly grill up meats of various kinds for you and just eat sushi or miso soup, right? Exactly. Ted got the salmon, chicken for me, and steak and scallops for Shane. The meal also comes with soup and a salad to start, and then pineapple sorbet and a fortune cookie at the end. Not a bad haul for about $15-$25 per person.

I should also mention that, according to the menu, there was supposedly something called a “shrimp appetizer” that came with the meal … although we never actually saw that at our table. Which is probably good, seeing as Shane is allergic. And if they did sneak it in somehow then I guess the fact that he’s not dead yet means he’s somehow cleared of that condition? Hmm.

The soup must’ve been cooked in a previously unearthed lava pit near the property, because it arrived with steam pouring out of each little bowl. Mmm, taste bud killer soup. My favorite. But honesty after about 3-4 minutes it wasn’t so awful to try and eat. I think our last few weeks of fried appetizers did more damage to both my tongue and my fingertips. Or maybe they killed them off all together at this point. Hard to say.

It looks so unassuming in the photo

Shane claimed the salad was the “best salad he’s ever had.” Now, he was also really hungry, so I’m not sure how much stock you want to put into that claim. I thought it was pretty much just a small bowl of ready-salad mix poured from a bag with dressing on it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint the flavor of … but I guess when you want to eat your arm off that’s extremely tasty.

Shane’s salad standards are impeccably low

As mentioned, we didn’t have one of the loud chefs that yell and swing knives inches from your face, but he cooked our food well and really that’s what matters. Although he might want to think about speaking up a bit as he does his little show of announcing the different items he seasons each dish with, as I couldn’t hear half of what he said, so in my mind just started considering everything soy sauce and pepper. Staples of a Japanese meal, no?

But, like I said, it all got cooked and was tasty, so who am I to really complain? I don’t need ninja warrior guard wielding a sharp knife all up in my face to enjoy a meal. Just make sure my chicken isn’t questionable and won’t come back to haunt me later, please and thank you.

Tonight’s theme is things that are still partially on fire

See also, why I politely declined when the chef was looking for volunteers in his little “let me throw food at your face while you can wave around like a baby seal trying to catch it” game. Um, no thanks. I mean, that piece of shrimp launched at my face with a knife and spatula directly from a hot grill isn’t going to quench my appetite, thanks. I’ll just enjoy the food you already put on my plate.

There were a few takers, though. I think Shane was slightly disappointed he couldn’t try … but the guy was throwing around shrimp and there’s that whole lethal allergy thing. Ted tried and failed on more than one occasion. The girl at our table with the other party of three finally caught one. So it was pretty much one catch for like 10 attempts at our table. Clearly we’re gifted.

Keep the food on the table please

Speaking of allergies, the pair of ladies next to us (who ended up being a woman with her grown niece) bonded with our group – and in particular, me, since I was seated closest to them – after hearing of Shane’s affliction, since they said they are usually the ones at the table who have to give up that information. But I’m glad we made friends with them, as they are apparently regulars at this place. They gave us all the insider info:  which chefs to ask for, how to get the optimal amount of food to take home for another meal, which drinks to order, etc.

Fancy

I would share those tips here, but I kind of feel like you have to take your chances that you might sit next to these two on a random evening there and they can tell you themselves. Me telling you would ruin the fun. And trust me, a seat next to them is worthwhile, as they are hilarious.

I will share one tip, however … the yum yum sauce is the absolute bomb. If you take nothing away from this week’s post, it’s that if you go there you have to get two sides of this. And a to-go container to take home. I didn’t even have to order mine, since my new friend spoke up and got one for me when she ordered her own. New friends are amazing like that.

You may be familiar with this sauce (I’ve since spotted it at a grocery store, thus bursting my bubble that this was purely the restaurant’s own creation) but trying it at Hibachi was a first for me and Shane. If you’re out of the loop like us, it’s basically a mayo based sauce with a bit of a kick. And it’s delicious. As my new friend told me, she “puts that shit on everything.” I wonder if Red Hot would be proud she used their slogan?

Also of note: the pineapple sorbet that they serve at the end of the meal is definitely worth leaving some room in your belly for. It wasn’t too sugary sweet or overly fruity, but it was enough to give that little dessert touch to end the meal. I mean, it was no trip to the frozen yogurt place in Kent where the guys each made themselves three pound sundaes or anything like that, but it was definitely worth sticking around for after the to-go boxes were passed out.

I admit that this week it was nice to get away from the bar and grill train we’d been stuck on for a little bit now, and to try something different. The food was good, although my one gripe would be that I didn’t feel like there was a lot of meat in my meal. Next time I would go with a combination, like the chicken and shrimp or chicken and steak or something like that. What I boxed up to take home amounted to little more than basically fried rice and a few veggies, which won’t exactly make for an exciting leftover lunch.

It should be noted that Shane and Ted both finished their meals entirely, but Shane was incredibly uncomfortable on the drive home.

I definitely see us going back, although probably more for a celebration, special occasion of some sort, or maybe to take people from out of town or something like that. I don’t see it becoming a regular stop, either in our eating out mainstays or the WTGW order … unless, that is, we decide we want to give our new bffs some competition as regulars? That could prove to be an interesting endeavor. I’m not sure there’s enough yum yum sauce for that experience.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Shane

Ted

Hibachi Japan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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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

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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