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

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

Well, I think we finally met our match.

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

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

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

Must. Train. Better. Next. Time.

Anyway.

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

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

Everyone knows when you have a clipboard you’re official

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

Seriously, So. Much. Food.

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

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

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

This is only my corner of the table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This pretty much describes my feeling about desserts

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

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

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

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

It’s like having a drink with a friend

I mean, come on. How cute is that?

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

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

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

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

Keep ’em coming

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

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

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

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

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

Do we look full? Because we are.

WTGW 5/24/17: Streets Tavern, Streetsboro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBQ sauce = bring extra napkins

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

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

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

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

It’s not delivery OR Digiorno’s

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

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

Guess which ones are done all the way

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

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

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

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

Is this the WTGW version of Groundhog Day?

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

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

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

Yeah, we’ll be back.

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

Shane and the rare double thumbs up

Uh Ted, is the wall on fire behind you?

Steph

WTGW 4/19/17: REVISIT – Blue Willow Lounge, Macedonia

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It’s another “this adventure could’ve gone a totally different way” week here, as Shane originally tried to take us back to PatDees in Northfield for a revisit, but was thwarted by a road closure. Damn you ODOT!

So in a literal last second change up, here we are at the Blue Willow Lounge.

This little hidden gem is tucked away behind a gas station on a slightly-off-the-beaten-path section of Rt 82 (aka not in the land of huge strip plazas a few miles to the west) in Macedonia. Although we noticed since our last visit that the road to access the Blue Willow is now an access street to the highway ramp that was recently moved – so maybe they’re getting a little more attention these days.

Let’s hope so, because it’s well deserved.

We were genuinely surprised at how good this place was the first time we went. After Shane’s claim that the place is the “oldest bar in Macedonia” – something none of us have ever been able to substantiate, by the way – I remember being more than a little concerned for what we might be getting ourselves into. But the Blue Willow ended up having some of the best burgers we’ve ever tasted in our years of WTGW adventures, a fun atmosphere, and outstanding service (especially considering there was essentially one person manning both the bar and the tables) from a server who called Ted a pussy for downsizing his Christmas Ale in the second round.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record from last week, tell me again why we haven’t been back here more often?

Right.

We were happy to hear that Wednesdays are still $5.95 burger nights at the Blue Willow. Although it seems to have morphed from “build your own burger night” to “just pick a burger and we’ll charge you $5.95 for it night.” Maybe we were still living 2.5 years in the past, because we thought we heard a “build your own” option in there when the server was explaining it … but the list of toppings to build from seemed to be invisible on our menus. After flipping it over about 400 times, Ted finally broke down and asked where the toppings were, and the server just kind of gave him the “well, there’s no list, just, you know, whatever you want on your burger.”

Oh, OK, so just pick something that sounds good on a burger and they’ll let you know they have it, then? Perfect. Sounds great. It’s like 20 questions with condiments.

But it didn’t deter us – because, well, “burgers” seems to be a theme for us now. I mean, set aside the fact that it’s the daily special at Blue Willow, between this week and last week we seem to have turned WTGW into a tour of all the burger places we really like but haven’t been back to in ages.

Note to self: I gotta change it up with my next pick.

Anyway.

Ted got the Cajun burger – minus cheese, of course, but with lettuce and tomato. Shane also got the Cajun burger, minus lettuce and tomato – but WITH cheese.

There were more chips on that plate before I took this picture, Honest.

Ignore the crumbs. You’d think we hadn’t eaten for days or that I had to drive across the state to fetch my camera.

They’re like yin and yang, those two. This is why they’re friends.

Not wanting to copy the bromance brothers, I decided to challenge the “build your own” philosophy, with lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese and mushrooms. I think I asked for each of those items as a question, thinking at any moment she could tell me that wasn’t one of the nonexistent options.

You can’t see the toppings, but they’re there.

We all also got the homemade chips, since they were free and the fries were $1.00 more. Ironically, looking back on our first visit, it was the fries that were free and the chips that were $1.00 more. Since they’re both made from potatoes, I’m a little perplexed at the inflationary costs of one versus the other, but whatever.

Because clearly he didn’t trust the size of these burgers like he did Windsor Pub, Ted also got 12 of the Thai wings. Better to be safe than sorry, I guess.

A full meal as an appetizer. Glad to see we’re back to normal around here.

Shane and I also got breaded mushrooms. Of which Shane actually asked me before he ordered them “hey, would you eat some of these if I get them.”

Please. It’s like he hardly knows me.

They’re vegetables, so they’re still considered healthy, right?

We noticed that the food seemed to take a particularly long time to come out after we ordered. Especially considering the place wasn’t by any means packed. I mean, it should be noted that Shane continuously made the “our food is taking FOREVER” observation whilst very hungry, so take that with a grain of salt. But even those of us not about to eat our own arms did think it was a longer than usual wait time.

And when our meals finally did arrive, it was unceremoniously all at once. So much for that whole “appetizer” concept, I guess.

Now, granted there was only one server/bartender working the whole place – the large bar area (which was always very full, almost every seat taken), as well as the tables nearby (not quite as full, but just by location alone still a hassle to have to walk out from behind the bar to check on). But I don’t think it was her fault the food took a while. She was very good, coming out from behind the bar several times to check on us and even telling us to yell at her or do whatever if we needed her attention. But to be brutally honest – and I even said this the last time we were there, years ago – they could really use two people working there on any given night. I mean, the night we were there the bar was pretty full but there were only a few people seated at the tables – I couldn’t imagine if all the tables were full and there was only one person trying to do everything. Again, our server was amazing … but for her sake I wish they would staff a little better.

*exiting soapbox now*

I’m happy to say that the burgers were still as good as we remembered. They’re cooked to order, and very juicy. Shane was a bit upset that they “didn’t crumble like Windsor Pub’s,” – but regardless they still passed his test.

Now that’s a handful of meat.
Wait, what?

Word of warning, they might look small when you first see them on the plate, but they’re actually really thick. They’re tall and thick, not short and flat.

File that under: words I never thought I would utter until I started composing a food blog. Carry on.

I also really liked the homemade chips. They didn’t indicate on the menu that they were homemade, so I was expecting a handful of Lay’s or something similar on my plate with my burger – which made these a nice surprise. They were crunchy but not greasy. The only thing that would’ve made them more perfect is a french onion dip on the side. But if you add that then they would probably not be the “free side” anymore … and the cycle continues. You’re welcome, French fries.

Shane said he wished he would’ve gotten the Willow Classic burger instead of the Cajun. Once he bit into this burger he remembered that wasn’t the same one he got last time and that he wished he’d gotten that one again. But then again he also said he really didn’t taste his food since he was so hungry, so there’s that.

Ted really liked the Thai wings, although with the burger too he only ate about 10 of the 12. For shame. He said his burger was cooked well, but it didn’t really taste Cajun-y. I think he was looking for more of a blackened and seasoned taste. Although he skipped the pepper jack cheese, and we all know that makes a cajun dish, right?

If we have a complaint with the Blue Willow Lounge, it’s that the beer list is a little lacking. Case in point: Ted asked about dark beers … and ended up with a Fat Tire. So I guess “amber” is considered dark in these parts. Noted. Likewise, I asked about ciders, and the only option was Angry Orchard. Which, OK, sure, I guess I should just be happy they at least had something … but I like options, I guess. I’m a girl. Sue me.

Shane went with a rum and diet, and was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t as light in color as it was last week. Or as cheap.

I do appreciate that the server brought us cold glasses with my cider and Ted’s bottled beer. We gave them back to her, though. I mean, we drink out of bottles. We’re not classy folk.

Shane had three rum and diets, and when she came over to ask if he wanted another he answered “no, I’m driving.”

Me: Usually the answer to that is “well, I’m driving, so yes.” What’s happened to us?

All said and done, mine and Shane’s bill for the night was $38. Not too shabby for an app, two fairly large burgers with sides of chips, two ciders and three mixed drinks. In a stroke of irony, the mixed drinks were actually only .50 more than my bottled cider. Lesson learned there, I guess. For the next revisit, of course.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Ted

Steph

Shane

Blue Willow Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 4/5/17: Arnie’s Public House, Akron

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Today’s lesson is in marketing. Specifically, what to name your restaruant that makes it sound inviting and like a place you might want to spend an evening with friends.

Arnie’s Standing Room Only: sounds like a place where we’d be lucky to get in the door, and then stand around awkwardly looking at each other and trying not to spill our beers.

Arnie’s Public House: less like a place you’re going to get jostled around in, but all I can think of is a “bath house” at the lake … and that’s not a very pretty picture either.

OK, so maybe it still falls a bit short of the mark, but progress.

We’ve never been inside this place when it was Arnie’s SRO – although Ted swears to the darkest side of the sun that we at least talked about going here more than once. Hmm. Personally I know I had to look it up in Google maps just to make sure it was where I was thinking it was, so I’m guessing those must be his other friends he’s referring to.

Dammit Ted, we don’t talk about other friends on WTGW. This is our night.

So I read some reviews and everyone agreed that Arnie’s PH was a much improved version of SRO. From what I can gather, they added a new menu/chef, as well as tables and booths for (gasp) seating options. Again, progress.

The place is still small, wedged into the side of a strip plaza. It probably only fits 50-75 people if I had to guess. This proved beneficial when we walked all the way through from what we thought was the front entrance on the patio to the actual front entrance at the back of the place (see also: irony) – only to find a “please seat yourself” sign. Well at least we had already walked past the available tables, and since the place was small we didn’t go too far out of our way.

The bartender helped us to a booth anyway, and explained that there were two bartenders, as well as one server – and she was new, but doing OK, so just give her a chance.

Because that sounds like a setup for eventual disappointment, no? Like “hey, here’s a great car … it looks nice, but it has 400,000 miles, no brakes and is missing a tire, so if you just park it in your driveway and look at it from the side with both tires, it’s really awesome.”

Also, since the bar is considerably smaller – and pouring drinks seems like sometimes it can be less work than waiting tables – it appeared the scales may have been tipped a little bit out of the new girl’s favor there, but whatever.

The beer list seemed decent, although Ted went to order one of his dark beers on tap only to be told it had been replaced with Summer Shandy. I’m liking that the “we’re out of the beer you like” curse has been moved out of my corner for a bit.

In any case, he went with a Thirsty Dog Twisted Kilt, I decided on Angry Orchard, and Shane – in a twist to shock us all – grabbed the Summer Shandy over his usual Bud Light. Color us surprised.

The menu is a mix of things that sound fancy (siracha brussel sprouts, Hungarian stuffed peppers, chicken and waffles) and things that you’d think a bar would have (burgers, chips and dip, sliders, pretzel sticks).

We’ve been on a pretzel stick kick the last few weeks, so we switched it up and went with the hush puppies this time around. Although a bit later – before our hush puppy app arrived – the server approached our table mistakenly with a plate of – what else? – pretzel sticks.

It’s like they knew we’d broken up with them and they were stalking us out to see our new love.

And I guess maybe in some ways they were warning us we were going to be sorry, because the hush puppies ended up not being the best choice. For something that has jalepeno in them – and you could see the actual jalepeno bits – there was zero flavor. Shane commented that normal, non-jalepeno hush puppies have more flavor than these did. This was just like eating a huge ball of cornmeal mush with some green flecks in it – something we all find incredibly delectable, I know.

“Those are some balls” – Shane, as they arrived on the table. Keeping it classy, folks.

The sauce was the only thing that made them even edible, but even that wasn’t anything impressive – I think it just seemed so amazing because it kept the hush puppies from turning your mouth into the Sahara desert and gave the dry bread crumb consistency at least a little bit of flavor. You can tell we didn’t care for them so much when we left one hush puppy on the plate – and even after we were done with our meals still no one touched it. That never happens.

Sorry, pretzels. We never should have doubted you. Please don’t hold it against us.

Shane got the Red Eye burger for his meal, along with a side of the housemade chips and dill dip for his side.

Mmmm … meat

He liked the burger, but because he got it his usual medium rare (and they actually cooked it that way) it was very difficult to eat. It fell apart as soon as he bit into it, so he pretty much had to go the knife and fork route at that point.

Good thing we weren’t still “standing room only” or that could’ve gotten messy.

I got the chicken tacos for my meal, only replaced the tortillas with a lettuce wrap. I guess I’ll be playing the part of “healthy Shane” this evening. Although I did get the homemade chips and dill dip as my side, too, so there’s that.

It looks pretty until you attempt to eat it

The chicken was really good, it was broken up into small pieces and very well seasoned with a little spicy kick. Lettuce wraps are a bit tricky to navigate, so I eventually resorted to fork bites also – which meant I kind of just ate the lettuce separately and could’ve just asked them to heap the chicken, cheese and filling from the tacos right onto my plate – but whatever, it was still good.

I will say both of us were disappointed in the chips, though. They were flimsy, and tasted more like the oil they were cooked in than the actual potato. Maybe slice them a bit thicker in the future. I mean, some of us actually like the taste of potato and not just air and oil, thanks.  And the dip was just OK. We’re more French Onion people than dill folks, I guess.

Ted got the special for the evening, which was a pasta dish with shrimp and sausage. He said he was about halfway down the menu and had a few items in mind that he was considering when the server came over to tell us about the specials, and once he heard that one he decided it cancelled all the other options out.

Because “pasta special” sounds less goofy than “goulash”

He really liked the pasta dish, even though he said that it was essentially goulash. He commented that he hadn’t realized the place had a bit of a Hungarian theme going on, but once he ate that and remembered things like the stuffed peppers on theh menu, it made sense. But overall he was happy, his meal was very good.

I guess all in all, Arnie’s isn’t a bad place … it just wasnt the best, either. It seems like even though the transition to this new restaurant with more seating isn’t a brand new thing, they’re still working out some of the kinks. And I know our server was new, but she was still exceptionally slow. I mean, there were three, maybe four tables total that she was handling – but it just seemed like she wasn’t getting the hang of timing for everyone.

Case in point:  when she came around asking if we wanted a third round of drinks, and we said no … she scampered away before we could ask for the checks, and then took forever to reappear to finally ask if we did, in fact, want them. No, we’d just like to sit here and stare at one another over empty glasses, please. I mean, usually being done with your meal and refusing another round of drinks is a universal sign for “we’re pretty much ready to head out, thanks.” But it was like she read some manual for how to be a server, and had time slots she had to fill for each of those questions. “OK they said no to more drinks, now avoid them and wait the appropriate 10 minutes before returning to ask if they want the check so they don’t feel rushed out.”

And the bartenders who warned us about her newness also weren’t going out of their way to help her, either. We know she put in our order for our second round of drinks, and we watched the one bartender pour said drinks … but rather than walk them over to our table (as we already mentioned, the place is pretty small so I’m fairly sure those 20 steps wouldn’t cause him to break a sweat, plus I know he saw our empty glasses lined up on the edge of our table) – he waited for her to come pick them up. All the while bartender #2 was too busy doing shots with someone who appeared to be either the owner or manager and his little group of friends at the bar to even notice us at all. Nice.

As Shane would say “John Taffer would be disappointed.”

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

Ted

Shane – trying to hide so no one saw his grade

Steph

Arnie's Standing Room Only Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 3/22/17: R Shea’s Brewery / Diamond Deli, Merriman Valley

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We’ve all been itching to try R Shea’s Brewery ever since it opened a year or so ago and we noticed the bevy of cars parked outside pretty much every evening. Always busy usually means the place probably doesn’t suck, right? Plus we know we like beer, and the few craft breweries we’ve visited in the area have been good to us. In particular we know that we love Akron’s Hoppin Frog brewery, and R Shea’s seemed like a nice alternative that wouldn’t involve a 60-minute round trip drive … 30 minutes of which always occurred after ingesting some high potency beers.

See also: reasons why things like Uber were invented.

The one caveat that held us back from trying R Shea’s this long? They didn’t serve food. Other than the occasional food truck we would see parked outside on random evenings. And that seemed to be stretching the WTGW rules just a tad.

But then we heard that they were teaming up with Diamond Deli, a decade-plus downtown Akron institution known for overstuffed sandwiches with creative names, to start serving sammies and select apps at the brewery.

Now we’re talking. Game on.

Apparently it’s a winning combo, as the place is still always busy. Every. Time. We. Drive. By. And as evidenced by our visit, when at 6:45 on a Wednesday night we managed to grab what I have to believe from my brief scan of the room was the last remaining table in the place. Which we then had to steal a chair from the bar to place on the end of just so it could hold all three of us.

If you know us, you know at that point we were already calculating how we would fit the copious amounts of food and beer we were about to order onto this tiny space. I won’t lie, it was tight. But, hey, all those years playing Tetris finally amounted to something I guess.

R Shea’s offers flights of five 6oz beers for $10 – which is a great way to try a few of the 15 or so beers on the list. In fact, we had trouble picking just five each to try. It’s also a great way to get relatively buzzed without meaning to, if you’re like us and forget that most of these beers are, well, a tad bit over the usual Bud Light alcohol percentage.

Beyond that the 13oz stouts and 16oz regular beers are just $5 for a pint, which is still extremely reasonable. And still continuing the “ways to get totally crocked without meaning to and not really discovering you are until you get up to walk to the restroom” experiment.

Not that any of us did that or anything. Just saying.

I took a picture of the beer menu since I knew I would never remember the names, much less the descriptions, of all the beers we tried. Thank you, technology.

Ignore the iPhone shadow. Photo taken for memory and not art.

Shane got the Uncommon Blonde, Orange-Mango Citra Shandy, Towpath Pale Ale, Chocolate Coffee Stout and The Elvis.

My flight started out looking just like Shane’s, with the Uncommon Blonde and Citra Shandy. But then I moved to the the Merriman Mild, Snicker Dude and Pecan Pie Milk Stout.

I actually was stuck on a decision between the Merriman Mild and the Pale Ale, but decided on the Mild because Ted told me it would have more of a coffee taste and be less bitter. Fortunately for him he was right.

Not surprisingly, Ted ignored the lighter beers completely and started off with the Shea’s Irish Red, and then the Belgian Quadrupel, Snicker Dude, The Elvis and Pecan Pie Milk Stout.

My flight at the bottom, Shane’s at the left and Ted’s at the top

So we had some crossover, but we each also got at least one that no one else tried. This is why we’re friends.

Ted told us the proper way to taste a flight is to start with the lightest first and move to the darker ones next. Something to do with the flavor and boldness, and saving the heavier ones for last so as not to ruin your palate.

Taking his words to heart, Shane and I proceeded to take a sip out of each of our five beers at first just to try them. We then worked oppositely – Shane drank the ones he liked best first, while I saved the ones I liked best for last.

Clearly we’re good students.

You’ll probably find this hard to believe, but we all agreed that ALL of the beers we tried were good. I know that sounds like a joke – I mean, come on, we each tried five new beers and there wasn’t ONE any of us wanted to spit out? Honestly, no. Of course we all had our preferences and favorites out of our tasters, but there wasn’t one anyone tried that earned a wrinkled nose and a group search for a drain to pour the glass out into instead of downing it.

Even the darker beers were winners in our books – and “Mr. Bud Light” and I usually don’t go that route. Shane’s favorite was actually not one that he got on his flight, but one that he and Ted ordered full 13oz sizes of after finishing the sample sizes … the weekly rotating beer called the “Lab Rat,” (or, as Shane kept calling it by the end of the evening, the “Family Rodent” – whatevs) which this week was a stout with flavors of chocolate, coconut and lemongrass. It was very smooth, not heavy or bitter at all.

Who knew lemongrass and coconut made a good beer match?

Needless to say, Ted was quite proud.

Ted: A guy who usually orders a Bud Light just enjoyed a stout. This is a great day.

He was less impressed with me, as my faves were the Blonde and the Shandy. Old habits die hard, sorry. I mean, the darker ones were good – and those are not words that come out of my mouth often with regards to craft beers, so that means something. The flavors were unique. But I’m just not sure I could’ve ordered a full 13 oz glass of any one of them. The sample size glasses were perfect for me.

Ted loved the Snicker Dude the best, followed closely by the Elvis. I sampled The Elvis from his flight (I didn’t order it on mine) and it was pretty tasty. I was kind of wishing I’d picked that over my Snicker Dude. But once again I was suckered in by the promising description (cinnamon! sugar! tastes like a cookie!).

I swear the people who write beer descriptions are right up there with meteorologists on the list of jobs that can be wrong 97.5% of the time and yet remain employed.

Because we had such a large table, of course we decided appetizers were in order. Ted got hummus, which came with veggies and pita. He didn’t say much about it – but he finished it, so that must count for something.

I also forgot to take a picture of it, but really, you’ve all seen hummus and vegetables before, so I think we’re OK there. Chill.

Shane and I ordered the pretzels with beer cheese dip, which I have to believe arrived at our table directly via teleportation from the oven, because I think I gave myself second degree burns just trying to pick one up. But it was worth it, because they were delicious. The cheese dip wasn’t as flavorful as I would’ve thought, especially since it’s made with beer from the brewery, but that’s OK because the pretzels alone were tasty enough.

My heaven is filled with hot soft pretzels. Don’t judge.

And it’s a good thing we ordered that appetizer, because it may have saved us from starvation … or, OK, on a less dramatic note, at least utter alcoholic obliteration … while we waited for our actual meals to arrive.

Ted’s sandwich arrived first. He got the “Chad’s Wait Til You Hear This Story” – which if it’s not obvious from the name is corned beef, pastrami, Swiss and spicy mustard on rye.

I mean, you knew that, right? Come on.

You have no idea how long we all stared at this sandwich

And then we waited for our other two sandwiches. My Italian Sub (pretty self explanatory) …

The “I don’t have a real name” Italian sub

and Shane’s Boxty (basically a reuben on a potato pancake).

You definitely need a fork for this one

Maybe it’s because we ordered boring sandwiches without fun names, but somehow mine and Shane’s orders seemed to get lost somewhere. We didn’t really notice it at first – I mean, we were drinking new flavored beers, first of all, so food wasn’t exactly top of mind. And truthfully we were kind of grateful for the chance to finish our apps and move some glasses around before more plates arrived on our itty bitty table.

But like 15 minutes later, we started to think they really had forgotten us. And that finally Ted was getting redemption for last week, when the server clearly hated him. So we asked one of the servers, and sure enough our two tickets had gotten lost. I give R Shea’s a ton of credit – they were super nice about the whole thing, and as soon as they realized what had happened they got our orders in right away, so our food arrived very shortly after. It was truly great customer service.

If it were our server from last week be probably would’ve just blamed Ted for our missing food and walked away.

Our sandwiches were all very good. Make no mistake – the sandwiches may seem simple on paper, but they’re very well done, and enough food to definitely qualify as a meal. Each sandwich came with a small handful of chips – which I have to admit that I was mildly disappointed to see such a small pile of on my plate … until I ate my sandwich and was grateful I hadn’t eaten anything more than what I had. Truthfully I probably should’ve stopped at only eating half my sandwich, because that was filling enough. But, well, I blame the beer for clouding my judgement.

Like we’ve all never used that line before. Probably for worse things than eating half a sandwich.

R Shea’s will definitely be a place we make a return trip to. Partially because the atmosphere, food, beer and people are all great, and partially because they also tweak and add to their beer menu weekly, so while you’re sure to find a favorite on there you can also try something new each time you come in. It’s a place you could do a full meal at, or just stop in for beers and an app – and because the beers are so filling, you’ll still leave happy. The only downside is that if you come at the busiest time you may be standing around for a while awkwardly looking at people who you hope to steal the tables of once they leave … but, hey, you can still have drinks while you do that, so it’s all good in the long run, right?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

To-Go Ted

That’s Shane’s gang sign for “thumbs up times two”

WTGW 1/18/17: Melt Bar & Grilled, Fairlawn

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OK, I know what you’re thinking … how has this group never been to Melt before? I mean, we find obscure little places like Joey’s Kendal Tavern and The Caddyshack Inn … but somehow Melt – and its ever-growing list of locations across Ohio – has been off our radar?

Yeah, no. There’s actually only one person in the WTGW group who hasn’t visited one of these restaurants before. And once I say his name, I bet you’ll realize why.

Ted.

Surprised? I didn’t think so.

OK, so does it surprise you that cheese-hater, I’ve-ordered-a-pizza-without-cheese-on-it Ted actually not only voluntarily walked into a place where the menu is pretty much almost entirely made up of grilled cheese sandwiches – but he was the one who decided we should go there?

Yeah, define irony.

So for those of you who may have been living under a rock these past 10 years or so, Melt is one of those kind of iconic Cleveland restaurants – one of those like “oh, you’ve never been to our city before, you should try this place” kind of restaurants. They have several locations – the original in Lakewood, then three or four more around the Cleveland area (Cleveland Hts, Independence, Mentor), and have also recently branched out to Columbus. Clearly grilled cheese is kind of a big deal.

This location in Fairlawn is one of the newest, opening at the end of last year. In another twist of irony, we actually tried to come here for WTGW a few weeks back … specifically the week between Christmas and New Years. And being that this is a fairly new location, we expected it to be busy … but not “sure we’d love to wait an hour for grilled cheese and beer” busy. So we gave up that night.

In a related story, since we were out, it was Wednesday, we were hungry, and we’re all about going somewhere new, we tried venturing down the street to check out the newly opened Fairlawn location of Burntwood Tavern … and were greeted with the the same predicament. Apparently everyone goes out that Wednesday between the holidays to exchange gifts in restaurants and meet up with long lost friends who you sit at tables for hours talking to. Who knew?

That night eventually took us to the one place in that area we actually hadn’t been to and knew there would be no wait – Yellow Tail sushi buffet. Also now known as Shane’s version of heaven. Guess we really should’ve reviewed that one, too – but I couldn’t keep up with photographing all the plates that he and Ted kept showing up with at our table.

Anyway.

Back to this week – we arrived at Melt at about 7pm and there was no wait at all. What a difference a few weeks makes.

So, circling back to Ted, his dislike of cheese, and the irony of him picking this as his WTGW choice … when asked why he picked this place this week he pretty much stated that he got tired of everyone asking him if he’d been here before, and wanted to see what all the hype was about.

Alrighty then. Reasonable enough.

So it made perfect sense that when it came time to order his meal, he ordered his grilled cheese sandwich WITH NO CHEESE. Seriously Ted? That’s a curveball. I mean, are you truly experiencing the place if you leave out the key ingredient to their signature meals?

The best part was that instead of being outraged, surprised, or ousting him for being the cheese-hater he is, the server didn’t blink at all when he ordered. Which means there has to be someone else (or potentially even more than ONE someone else) out there who has done this same thing.

Ted may just have to start eating at Melt every night until he meets those people. They can start a club.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. To start the night we of course ordered drinks. Because you didn’t see that coming, I know. Vanilla vodka and OJ for me, Bud Light for Shane, and a Founders Breakfast Stout Nitro for Ted. Which came in the smallest glass possible for a beer.

It's a dainty beer glass

It’s so dainty

Shane was jealous I didn’t take a pic of his fancy bottled Bud Light. Because we’ve never seen one of those before.

For apps we got the fried pickles and the fried green tomatoes. Yeah, that’s a shocker. It may be a new year, but we still like to test our abilities to clog our arteries and remain on this side of the dirt apparently.

Mmm, fried goodness

Mmm, fried goodness

Both apps were tasty. And, well, they were kind of the same food, just different vegetables under the batter, so really how could we like one and not the other? Even the sauce was the same for both dishes – but that’s OK, because that was truly the best part in my opinion. Even though we still weren’t exactly certain what it was made of or where we’d tasted it before (and no, Shane, there was no ginger in it). I could probably order just a bowl of that sauce and eat it with a spoon, like soup. Because I’m sure that’s healthy. And not weird at all.

I'll dream about you, yummy orange sauce

I’ll dream about you, yummy orange sauce

Ted got the Hot Italian sandwich (ham, pepperoni, salami, garlic, provolone, romano and banana peppers) – which I already mentioned was lacking cheese. Weirdo. And fries.

But what holds it together if there's no cheese?

But what holds it together if there’s no cheese?

He said it was above average but not necessarily something he needs to have again. Also said they definitely weren’t shy with the meat (that’s what she said!) and that he struggled to finish the entire thing (that’s what she … oh, never mind) along with all of the fries – so it was definitely a lot of food.

I got a half sandwich of the Smoky Russian (smoked turkey, saurkraut, gouda and something called “zippy sauce” – I wasn’t going to ask) with a side of the vegetarian chili.

It's like a baby Melt

It’s like a baby Melt

The half was a great option, I wasn’t absolutely stuffed when I left, but full enough. Even though my sandwich had cheese, it still wasn’t held together real well (it seemed to be one of the smaller ones – and by that I mean it’s not stacked a foot high with ingredients – which was what I was looking for) but yet I still ate most of it picked apart with a fork instead of picking it up and eating it. If I were to get it again I might request a meltier cheese. Meltier? OK, so maybe that’s not really a word. A cheese that melts better. You know what I mean.

The chili was amazing. You would never guess there was no meat in it, because it was still very thick and chunky. (OK, that made me feel a little gross just typing that, but you know what I mean). It also had a lot of flavor without being too spicy.

Shane got the Purple Parma (eggplant, marinara, garlic, mozzerella and romano) with fries.

Is that parmesan cheese or powdered sugar?

Is that parmesan cheese or powdered sugar?

He ended up taking half of his home. He said it was OK but that “for all that was going on there, there didn’t seem to be much flavor.”

Overall, it’s a fun place that as mentioned is kind of a “Cleveland thing” – so you have to say you tried it at least once. Even if you’re Ted, who can now tell all those people to shove off, because even a cheese-hater can eat there. I mean, I doubt he’ll be going back anytime soon, and he especially won’t be trying the Melt Challenge, and all of it’s huge pile of fries, giant plate of cole slaw, three slices of grilled bread and TWELVE CHEESES glory. For real? I’m not sure I could even name 12 cheeses, much less know what to do with all of them lined up in front of me.  I mean, does the cook just take all the available cheese at that moment and throw it on the grill? Does he count put all twelve? Do you know if he leaves one out? And most importantly WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THAT SANDWICH COOLS AND THE CHEESE HARDENS? It could probably be considered a weapon at that point.

BTW, someone tried this insane challenge while we were there this evening. He seemed very confident he could do it. Sadly, he left with two to-go boxes full of the remnants of his $35 meal-o-cheese, some dented dignity, and what appeared to be a need for some Tums and Pepto. Ouch.

We forgot to do our usual rating system photos at the table, so had to do them by the front door before we left. Thus resulting in my husband taking what probably could be called the single worst photo of me of all time.

Steph

Steph … we think

Seriously, what’s up with the lighting? Did he not see that when he was taking the photo? I mean, Ted has taken better photos of me when the camera is in motion.

Let’s just forget we ever saw that, OK?

Shane

Shane … of course he looks normal

Cheese-hater Ted

Cheese-hater Ted

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane
Melt Bar & Grilled Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/21/16: Burgers 2 Beer, Solon

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Holy crap, this place is packed on Wednesdays. Presumably because they have trivia, a phenomenon we had yet to run into on a Wednesday night adventure. And one I can’t quite say I fully understand the popularity of, but whatever.

Although the itty-bitty parking lot does make Burgers 2 Beer look a tad bit busier than what they actually are. They share the lot with Penn Station – the fast food sub place – so of course we joked when we were walking in that everyone was probably there. Uh, no, but nice try. Still, I don’t think anyone in this place other than us understands the meaning of the word “carpool.”

The rather extensive draft beer list was already waiting on the table when we sat down, which is always a good sign. Especially for a place that has that particular entity in its title.

The large variety of beers of course meant that Shane went with a Miller Lite. I got the Breckenridge Agave Wheat. Ted realized Breckenridge made a Christmas Ale and went with that choice. I sampled his and was a little disappointed I didn’t order that one. There’s always round two.

So being that the other half of the name of the place is burgers, you can probably guess that that involved another extensive list. Such marketing wizards with the name of the place. But this was a bit of overkill – like three pages of the menu devoted just to burgers. And some interesting concoctions – one involved truffle butter and brie cheese, one with peanut butter, one with tater tots and sloppy joe  … and one was even served on a glazed donut.

 

No calories here. Nope. None at all. Maybe they should rename this place “Heart Attacks 2 Cholesterol Levels.”

Ted started with the candied pork appetizer. It was like meat, not on a stick. Although it wasn’t quite as good as the meat on a stick he got at that place in Richfield we can never remember the actual name of that Shane would rather set himself on fire than walk into again, it was still tasty. As soon as it arrived at the table, Shane’s nose immediately singled out the garlic in it. Ted said it was spicy. Like OK for him, but probably not for everyone.

Meat, no stick

Meat, no stick

I mean, this is the guy who recently called acid wings “not hot at all,” so just keep that in mind.

For his meal, Ted got the pizza burger. Seems odd for a guy who hates cheese, but I guess this is really the safest version of pizza he could ever find, no? Well, other than the cheese-less pizza he got a few weeks ago, but that’s a bit of an anomaly.

Burger, take one

Burger, take one

He said the burger was good, but a little bland. Especially with everything that was going on there (pepperoni, peppers, marinara, onions and mushrooms – plus cheese, for normal people), it just didn’t seem to have much flavor. He still stands by his all time favorite being The Rail.

Shane: “That place that tried to kill me.”

Every. Time.

Shane got the monthly special burger for December – which I can’t remember exactly what came on that, but I do know it involved peppers and some other spicy stuff, since I was debating on getting the same one. His burger, like Ted’s, was also just OK. Said the patty itself didn’t have much flavor, but everything else on the burger was good.

Burger, take two

Burger, take two

He also got salt and vinegar wings. Is this like week #27 with wings? I’ve seriously lost count.

But he said the wings didn’t taste like salt & vinegar. Ted tried one and said they tasted like BBQ potato chips. Close? Not really. Maybe the cook just got his flavor bags from his snack packs mixed up.

They all start to look alike after a while

They all start to look alike after a while

I got the hot & bothered burger – habenero cheddar cheese, onions, siracha mayo and jalepenos. Sounds super bland, no? Yeah, it was definitely spicy. I also used the house BBQ sauce that they keep on the table as my condiment of choice to dip my tater tots in, and that had some kick to it too.

Burger, take three - plus tots

Burger, take three – plus tots

And I wonder why my taste buds sometimes revolt against me.

Amanda got the club burger (ham, turkey, bacon and gouda), which she  almost had to eat bunless, as the top of the sandwich flew off when the server brought her meal to the table. She did bring Amanda another top bun – but at least the bunless burger made for a nice photo op.

Burger, waiting for the top bun

Burger, waiting for the top bun

Amanda also agreed that the burger patty itself needed more flavor. The toppings were good, but if you just ate a piece of the burger patty it was unimpressive.

So basically the moral is that if you go, be sure get the burger with the most toppings – or at least the most flavorful ones anyway – so they can mask the taste of the actual burger patty itself. Because that seems right, considering the name of the place and all.

New name idea: “Toppings 2 Mask The Blandness.”

Service was pretty good, considering how busy it was there. The trivia was alternately interesting and annoying at the same time. It was loud, so at times we were having to shout over the host to hear one another. We also had to restrain ourselves from shouting out answers that we knew, which took a lot on our parts at times. Because, you know, restraint is definitely nowhere in our vocabularies. Have you seen the tables of food we order sometimes? Seriously.

Picked by: Amanda
Next pick: Ted

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Amanda

Amanda

B2b Burgers 2 Beer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato