WTGW 7/11/18: TD’s Tailgate Grill, North Canton – REVISIT

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Welcome to the summer months of WTGW, where we spend copious amounts of time screwing up the stats on our blog because we’re all scouring it trying to find the last good patio we went to so that we can pay it a revisit. Yay technology!

Shane claimed he had anther good pick lined up for this week (read: super scary dive bar that we probably would be intimidated to actually eat in), but a consultation to the weather channel over the weekend reminded us that we need to take advantage of these nice weekday evenings while they still exist. And so the quest to remember a good patio began.

Sidenote to our web designer: make the patio category easier to search. Oh wait, that’s me. Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

Anyway, that’s the long-winded explanation of how we ended up at TD’s Tailgate Grill for this week’s pick. It’s been three years since our last visit, at which we were forced to grab seats at the bar since all the tables were full upon our arrival, and Ted decided he wanted friends outside of our circle so he started a conversation with a regular who kept raving about the fish tacos.

Sounds spectacular. Tell me again why it’s taken us this long to return?

This time around we were able to snag a table for the five of us – but just in the nick of time, it seems, as the rest of them filled quickly behind us. With families. Explain this one to me, if you will: since when did sports bars become the happening place for families with packs of small children? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this phenomenon. Because nothing says “family atmosphere” like a place with 27 beers on tap and a whole page of fried food on the menu.

But I digress.

The beginning of our visit was like a story I’d like to call “Shane and the Three Beers.” The first one he tried to order – Shock Top Lemon Shandy – was one he knew he liked, but I turns out they were sold out. The second one he asked for – an IPA that Ted warned him he wasn’t going to like but Shane said he wanted to try anyway – was promptly declared a big old hell no after a sample was brought to the table and he took one sip (while Ted laughed). The third one – a Bud Light, because by this point he was just really thirsty and wanted a beer – was just right. Well, more like just “this will have to do,” but you get the idea.

Meanwhile Ted and Jason were enjoying their Christmas Ale (it’s Christmas in July season again!), Cassi had a mixed drink, and I had a delicious Berry Shandy that the server recommended when she delivered the bad news about the Lemon Shandy being gone.

We ordered four apps for five people. Because of course we did. Hey, what did I say in my last post about the food truck event? We’re training for next year already. Step off the judgement train, please and thank you.

Shane and I ordered the fried pickles. Why we continue to think we should order such things after we’ve had the deliciousness that is 3 Brothers is beyond me, but whatever. Especially when these ones arrive and they’re breaded spears, not actual chips. How the hell are you supposed to eat those? These were clearly created by the same person who invented the hot oil time bombs that are breaded mushrooms. But at least the dipping sauce was really tasty.

Excuse me, our pickles are trying to act like potato wedges

Ted got the coconut shrimp, the plate of which Shane wouldn’t even touch as it grazed over his portion of the table on it’s way to Ted. All fear the shrimp allergy. Unlike our decisively tasty pickle dipping sauce, the dip for the shrimp was somewhat unremarkable.

I’ll take Things That Would Kill My Husband for $1,000 please

Cassi and Jason ordered the chips and dip, along with an order of the hot tots. Note to restaurants: can we please start portioning things correctly when it comes to dips and the vehicles by which said dips must make it into our bellies? It makes no sense to have an entire bowl of dip if there are only about 8.5 chips available to dip into it. Seems to me you’d be better served to give away a whole platter of chips – because, I mean, those seem pretty simple to make (Get potato. Peel. Slice. Throw in deep fryer.) in comparison to the variety of measuring and mixing that presumably needs to go into a homemade dip.

But what do I know.

Is there a potato shortage we aren’t aware of?

Anyway.

Ted was quite fond of the fish tacos that his new friend highly recommended on our last visit, so I latched onto the dual recommendation and went with those this time, as did Cassi. Cassi got hers with a side of the homemade ranch sauce because, well, to quote her “I will order that anytime I see it on a menu.”

Ted will dream of this plate for another three years

Ted definitely had food envy when he heard our orders – because he also remembered fondly the goodness that was a good fish taco (why did I feel dirty just typing that?) – but he said he wanted to try something new, so he got the voodoo chicken with the drunken beans as a side.

Hey, remember that time Ted ordered something that sounded like the name of an opening band at some Mardi Gras festival? Well, he probably won’t long after this visit. Let’s just say he definitely wished he’d ordered the tacos.

Not that his meal was bad, by pre-I’ve-tasted-the-fish-tacos-and-am-judging-everything-else-by-those standards. But the fact that he still remembered how good those were (did I mention it’s been three years?) combined with them literally surrounding his food on the table once mine and Cassi’s meals arrived caused a bit of a letdown in comparison. He said his sandwich was just OK. The drunken beans – which were described as spicy and probably could be so to anyone else, well, on the planet – were no match for Ted’s taste buds that can’t detect spice unless it’s in the form of a raw habanero pepper.

The name is fancy, but it’s really just something your Aunt Marge would serve up at the annual family picnic

Shane got the triple stack grilled cheese and a pound of garlic Parmesan wings. I know it sounds like I’m judging his wing order sarcastically, but it literally was a pound of wings. Because some places prefer that as a measurement to just counting them out. I can’t for the life of me figure out which is actually better on the eating side of things.

If you’re going to base it on weight, it should be served on the scale

Again, I ask about the potato shortage, because that seems like a ridiculously small amount of fries

He tried to consult me on what his opinion had been of the mango habenero wings the last time around, but Ted spoke up instead – you know, just like he had with regards to Shane’s IPA choice. Uh, boys? Should I be worried about this bromance extending past the food level? If Ted starts reminding you that you’re almost out of soap or that it might be time to replace a few pairs of socks I may have to intervene.

Where’s the bun?

Jason ordered the crunchy fish sandwich, which he liked. Cassi and I also put our stamp of approval on the fish tacos. I was super full by the end of my meal and ended up having to get a box for one of my tacos – well, after offering it to Ted, who regretted having to turn it down because he was full as well.

There are a whole bunch of jokes in that last paragraph, but I’m trying really hard to use my adult voice and not point them out.

Anyway.

So probably the biggest downfall we can give TD’s this time around was that the service was a bit sketch. I mean, our server was super nice, and we definitely appreciate that. The issue was that she wasn’t around much … literally and figuratively. When we did see her we about pounced on her to try and order more drinks, which then backfired on us because she would get so flustered she would forget one or more of them. Case in point, when we ordered another round for the table, and then she returned with three drinks. There’s five of us. That’s like Math 101. I’m so glad we’re trusting you with our credit cards at the end of the evening.

And while the tables around us did fill up, we didn’t necessarily see her waiting on all of them as well as us, so I can’t buy the “give her a break, I’m sure she was super busy” reasoning that I’m sure half of you are saying to your screens right now. Also, one walk to the restroom was all it took to realize that we weren’t the only ones with the “it’s super nice out, let’s find a patio” thought bubbles over our heads this evening. The inside of the place may as well have turned out the lights and hung up the closed sign. Definitely a change from three years ago.

Hey, remember when we all said we were full after our dinners? Just kidding! It seems this group will find room for dessert these days, especially when it comes in the form of fried cookie dough balls. Yes, you read that right. Cookie dough, rolled into little balls, and deep fried. Listen, I don’t care if you have to unbutton your jeans in public just to breathe, if you explain that it’s due to this little slice of heaven in a basket then all is forgiven. We got an order (and by we of course I mean me, Shane and Ted, because, well, refer back a few paragraphs to our newfound coupledom), as did Cassi and Jason. And for a brief moment, everyone forgot that they couldn’t possibly eat another bite of their real meals like five minutes previously.

I think we each needed our own basket. For dinner.

Move over fish tacos, these are the best thing on the menu. Hands down.

Four of us, as we walk out to the car: Man, I’m really stuffed now. Like the cookie dough was good, but it really put me over the top.
Shane: Oooh, look, a Dairy Queen.

Seriously?

Next pick: Cassi

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph

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WTGW 5/30/18: REVISIT – Caston & Main, Portage Lakes

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Thank you to whichever one of us decided we could exercise our option on revisits during our week to pick, as I didn’t have time to research a new place this week. In my defense, we’re coming off of a holiday weekend which included a Jimmy Buffett concert, and I tacked on an additional vacation day after that … so when your week starts on a Wednesday that feels like a Monday then you kind of forget what day of the week it really is. Oops.

You’ve all been there at some point, so let’s stop the judgement.

My laziness was apparently forgiven, as we ended up heading back to a place that we haven’t been in nearly two years, Caston & Main down in Portage Lakes. The two things we remembered most from that previous visit were the incredibly delicious raspberry mules that Shane ordered and that Ted and I eventually gave in and switched to after sampling Shane’s … and the “entertainment” we endured from a guy with a guitar and a sound system with levels meant to drown out anything from dinner conversations to televisions to the possibility of a helicopter landing in the middle of the dining room.

Imagine our surprise to learn that neither of those things exist any longer at Caston & Main. I’ll let you use your imagination to discern our feelings on this discovery.

It actually seems they’ve made several changes in our two year absence. Not really to the place itself – although we speculated that they were putting in a patio (and as of this posting that has been confirmed, so yay us for our intuition) – but inside it’s still the same set up of bar-to-the-left-of-you, dining-room-to-the-right-of-you as you walk in the door, and large tables perfect for groups like us that enjoy ordering an entire menu of food.

Our first discovery as we sat down was the realization that we could actually hear ourselves think, so apparently Wednesdays are no longer entertainment nights. God bless them for that decision. I have to believe we weren’t the only ones to file some sort of opinion on our attempts to hold a conversation amidst the decibel levels of a monster truck night rally.

Coming in a close second on the discovery list was when we found the novel-sized drink menu had been parred down to a more manageable short-story-ish selection. Which usually we wouldn’t applaud, but when taking the time to peruse it impedes on our ability to get alcohol served in a timely manner we tend to get a little bit bitter.

Maybe not as bitter as when we realized the beloved and much applauded raspberry mule didn’t make the cut, but whatever. They seem to now focus on more local craft beers, and just a few specialty cocktails. Cassi and I decided to try out the margarita mule that was on special, which ended up just being OK. By the end of the evening we both switched to a bottled pear cider that was far more delicious, not to mention less expensive.

Speaking of, Shane learned the hard way the age old lesson of “if there are no prices listed, it’s probably because you don’t want to know,” as the bill at the end of the evening revealed that the craft beers he had been enjoying turned out to be $9 each. That’s an unpleasant surprise. Especially when both of our meals were less than his $27 worth of cocktails.

Ouch.

While the drink menu has gotten smaller, the food menu seems to have expanded since our last visit. This made us happy, because, well, we like food – and more of it is never a bad thing with this group. In fact, we actually tried to convince our server that she should work on commission when it comes to serving our group, since we’re not only going to already order a stupid amount of food but we’re also pretty easy to sell when it comes to adding on more.

On thing that hasn’t changed in our absence is that Wednesdays are still 3 for $6 slider nights. Ted and Shane had tried them on our last visit and found them tasty, so they decided on getting them again this time around.

Shane also got the steak tacos, which inspired this exchange:

Shane: How many tacos come in the order?
Server: Three
Shane: Ok, good. I’ll take that. Three.
Me: Um, do you want one order of three, or three full orders?

I think the server thought I was crazy for clarifying this, but as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, that one really could’ve gone either way.

Thankfully, it was only the one order of three tacos. And one order of the slider special.

The use of multiplication tables was involved in this order

Tiny sandwiches

I got the roast beef philly, with the chips and French onion dip as a side.

Points for presentation

And we got nachos for an app.

There seems to be way more nachos than toppings here, no?

So that covers one side of the table. I think by this point the server might’ve realized we were on to something with that whole commission thing.

Ted waited for me to tell him which sliders he had ordered last time, then went with the chicken salad, Rueben and BLT sliders. Times two, because you know one meal isn’t enough in this group. He also got chips and dip for an app.

You’re not seeing double

Anyone else think that’s a lot of dip for that amount of chips?

Cassi and Jason got pretzel bites as app.

Carb overload

After getting the server’s opinion on which was better, the crab BLT or the chorizo tacos, Cassi took her suggestion and ordered the crab BLT.

Hopefully its a good idea to trust the server

Jason ordered the invisible patty melt. Well, OK, that’s not really what it’s called, but that’s the name we gave to it when all of our food orders came out of the kitchen and his never appeared.

At least the server came over and admitted it was her fault, she “never does this” but somehow she had forgotten to put it in as part of the order, but that she let the kitchen know what had happened and it would only take a minute to come out.

Jason thought it was karma for making fun of the pimento cheese app as we were first reading the menu … and then ordering a burger featuring the same cheese on it. Touche. Meanwhile we all proceeded to make yummy noises while he was forced to just sit and watch us eat. Because we’re twelve.

Shane’s steak tacos were admittedly the best looking item on the table. I had been eyeing them up on the menu and almost ordered them, but made a last minute switch to the roast beef. I definitely was #foodjealous. Not to say that I didn’t like my sandwich –  it actually was really good, the peppers and cheese were a nice addition – but I wish it had been a tad hotter by the time it arrived at the table. Although considering Jason’s situation I guess I should just be glad it arrived at all. So there’s that.

Speaking of, it seems the long awaited patty melt didn’t turn out to particularly worth the extra anticipation, but Jason ate it anyway. I mean, by that point he was just extra hungry and probably would’ve eaten a grilled shoe if it was set in front of him.

We waited all that time for this?

He did end up getting a discount on the meal because of its tardiness to the table – not a full “I’m sorry this was my fault so it’s on the house” discount, but at least it was something.

I think Shane was hoping for a “we never printed the prices and therefore there was no way to tell that each of your drinks would be the same cost as a full meal” discount on our bill, but that never materialized either.

Overall, outside of sandwiches that don’t arrive on time and therefore might have been assembled with a little less love, the food is decent. Ted still gave a thumbs up to the sliders (rating them in order: BLT, chicken salad and Reuben), Cassi and I enjoyed our sandwiches, and Shane’s steak tacos were worthy of every bit of the food envy we all had. The apps were good – although they seemed to have a Goldilocks and the Three Bears thing going on with the accompanying dips (the pretzels had too many bites and not enough dip, the chips had too few chips and an overload of dip, the nachos had an abundance of tortilla chips with too few toppings). Our server was on our good side until she forgot about Jason. I mean, points for owning up to the mistake, albeit begrudgingly (does “I’m not sure how this happened, but I guess it was my fault” really count as an apology?) – but after that point she also seemed to avoid our table a bit more, as if the very sight of us brought up memories of a failed relationship. If only she’d avoided us long enough for Shane to save another $9 on that last drink …

Picked by: Steph
Originally picked by: Ted

Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted, who could care less what anyone else thought of the place, he liked it

Shane, before the bill arrived

Shane, after seeing that empty glass cost him $9

 

WTGW 5/23/18: Fatheads Brewery, Canton

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Hey look, we’re in a strip plaza in Canton again! Surprise!

We’re probably some of the few people in the Cleveland area who haven’t been to Fatheads’ original location, out in North Olmstead. I know I’ve enjoyed their bumbleberry beer on more than one occasion, but never at an actual facility. That location is probably within our radius for WTGW choices, but being that they recently opened a secondary location in our more familiar territory of Canton, Ted thought this one was worth a pick.

There, I’ve opened the can of worms for someone else to “pull a Ted” and pick another location of an already chosen mini-chain. Let the bets begin on how soon that happens.

Anyway.

The Canton location is pretty big once you get inside – especially considering it’s at the end of an aforementioned strip plaza. Typically I don’t expect much from a space that could’ve instead been built out to house a DSW or Bath & Body Works if this lease somehow fell through. There’s also a large, open patio in the front, and giant doors that open up the entire front of the restaurant to that area. Way to capitalize on the approximately 2.5 weeks worth of patio-worthy weather we actually receive here in NEO. Score.

Fatheads Brewery is, indeed, a brewery (imagine that), so of course they primarily serve their craft beers in house. Which translated to us needing a hot minute to read the full menu of deceptive descriptions before we could order anything. Also, thinking that five people could read the one beer menu provided by the hostess in the 5.2 seconds before the server reached the table was a lofty expectation at best. Unless you’re printing those things on gold leaves, maybe it’s time to shake up the budget and print a few more to allow for a greater table-to-menu dispersion. Just sayin.

We were all a little thrown when Shane was the one to order the darkest beer at the table. What now? Usually the “can’t see through my beer because it’s the color of the darkest night” award goes to Ted. This is new.

I wish I could remember the names of the beers we ordered, but unfortunately, well, I’m blonde and I didn’t write them down, so that information is lost by this point. Sorry. If it helps, they do rotate taps with some new selections and seasonal flavors, so chances are whatever we ordered isn’t available by the time you’re reading this anyway. So really I’m just saving you the trouble of getting all excited about ordering something they may not have by the time you visit. Yeah. That.

I will say that we enjoyed most of the beers we tried throughout the evening. Jason in particular, as we were all a little shocked when he finished his first beer before we even ordered our meals.

Shane: I know this is a big menu and all, but, seriously, just how long have I been looking at it?

It was another fried appetizer feast for our crew this week. Shane and I ordered the breaded mushrooms, while Ted, Cassi and Jason tempted the 3 Brothers gods and tried the fried pickles.

Newsflash: they weren’t as good. But they were close. They weren’t the thinly cut ones like our favorites, but they were crispy and came with a tasty sauce that definitely had a kick to it. Cassi declared that she could eat a whole plate of the pickles and be happy.

We are destined to order these everywhere now

Meanwhile it took Shane and I a bit to get through our basket of 4,000 breaded mushrooms. Some places we’ve ordered those for an app an it comes out as a handful of button mushrooms caked in batter to make them appear large enough to fill a basket. But here it was like the never-ending fugus bowl. The only thing I wasn’t a particular fan of was the horseradish sauce that came with them – but I think I was in the minority on that sentiment.

We won’t talk about the number of mushrooms that had to die for this order alone

For meals, both Jason and I kept the mushroom theme going by ordering the mushroom Swiss burger. To quote Ted, it must’ve been a “fungi-kind-of-night.”

That sounds bad.

Conversely, the burger was pretty good. Jason said that his was cooked perfectly. He wouldn’t exactly put it on his Top 5 burger list, although if he wanted to adopt Shane’s newly minted Top 7 rating system then maybe it would make the cut.

Actual table conversations, folks. I can’t make this stuff up.

I also thought the burger itself was good, but the giant bun kind of ruined things for me. It was too much unflavored bread, and I abandoned it about halfway through in favor of just eating the inner portion. When you love bread as much as I do, that kills me just a little bit inside – but life is too short to waste on bread that’s not ciabatta.

Once again I apologize to the mushroom gods

Shane also gave up on the bread for his Triple Bypass Burger, because he said it was cutting up his mouth with each bite. That seems like it should be the least of your worries with a sandwich by that name, but whatevs. Instead he ate his burger with a knife and fork, like a sophisticated person.

Stop laughing.

I appreciate the vegetables on the side for the attempt at healthfulness

On the non-burger side of the table, Cassi ordered a side salad and the Green Monster pizza, which she was not a fan of. She said that the chicken on it was dry, and that the pesto didn’t taste as good as she had hoped it would. But at least the bottom wasn’t mushy, so there’s a plus.

See also: the exact opposite of what Shane ordered

Looks better than it tastes. Move along.

Ted won the “I could feed the entire table with my order if we were normal people and ate normal sized portions” award with his pastrami sandwich. Or “headwich,” as it’s called on the menu, as they say that it’s “roughly the size of your head.” Yeah, they aren’t kidding about that. Eating it was definitely a two-handed affair. And watching him eat it was similar to watching him devour the grease-filled burger at The Game a few years back.

Side note: remember Healthy Shane? Those were dark days, my friends.

In any case, Ted finished the entire sandwich … because it tasted really, really good … and of course immediately regretted it, claiming that the last few bites were “under protest.” And he no longer wanted dessert. I think even the server coming over to ask us if we were interested in it made him a tad nauseous.

It’s oozing out of the bun

If you’re noticing in the photos that all of us have fries with our burgers and Ted is the odd man out with chips next to his pastrami sandwich – first of all, kudos for being super observant – but also I feel the need to mention that that wasn’t something we had any control over. Fathead’s is a little bit bossy about their side dish selection. To quote the menu: “House-made chips accompany all Headwiches and sandwiches, fresh-cut fries come with all burgers. It’s just a hassle for our kitchen to switch them around. We don’t want to be dictators but no substitutions. Thanks.”

Um, maybe its just me, but that seems a little harsh. Like what if I’m adverse to potatoes? I mean, that’s tragic all in itself, but far be it from someone to force them onto my plate, right? What if Shane had wanted to be “partially healthy Shane” and order a salad to go with his “hit you in the arteries” burger? It’s like the equivalent of Seinfeld’s soup-Nazi working in the back kitchen on the potato slicer. “No chips for you!”

They also could use a little more focus on the sports bar aspect of most breweries, and less on the “let’s put plants in strange places just to give it a little bit of decoration.” This assessment was made as we all attempted to watch the Cavs game through some foliage that was strategically blocking the bar televisions from our booth sightlines. I mean, if you’re going to serve beer in a midwestern city, isn’t prime access to sports-based TV watching a given? Again, just thinking out loud here.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Cassi

Jason

Shane

Steph

WTGW 5/9/18: Meyer’s Landing Bar & Grill, Canton

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Ok, so we’ve been doing this for long enough now that every so often we have to ask ourselves “wait did we go there before?” as we pass a place. Or “what was the name of that place we went to in (insert town here) with (insert strange characteristic here)?”

Or, in this week’s case, “this road looks familiar, didn’t we go to another place over this way before … it was at the end of a sketch shopping plaza … we sat on the patio …”

But this was the first time we realized as we pulled into the parking lot that we were actually at that same place, just with a different name.

Now in Cassi’s defense, she wasn’t with us the first time we came to Meyer’s Landing, which was known as Prestier Pub back in the fall of 2015. And as she described the place to us on the drive there – “it looks like it’s near a lake in Canton” – it didn’t sound like a place we’d been to before. But as Shane, Ted and I walked into this place we immediately remembered our evening on the huge front patio that lacked acceptable lighting, watching people go inside to the large bar that’s actually sunk into the ground so that everyone sitting at it kind of looks like munchkins, and remarking that we would definitely be safe from any roving bands of vampires we encountered on the drive home, thanks to everything on the menu being basked in some sort of garlic.

I found an article online that said the name and menu changed back in December 2017, but other than that everything seems exactly the same. Well, the church next door in the plaza finally has an official sign. So there’s that.

We opted for an indoor table this time around, since even though the temperature was patio friendly, the grey skies and threat of rain on the radar were not. Thanks, Mother Nature, for a perfect representation of my comments about last week’s seating arrangement. In any case, we picked a table just inside the doorway, since the name upgrade at Meyer’s apparently didn’t include an upgrade on the AC unit, which is still nonexistent. At least the doorway offered a bit of airflow. And large bees, which the guys worked to liberate from the windowsill after we sat down so we didn’t have to eat dinner to the sound of a buzzsaw attempting to pass through the window behind their heads.

Surprise, we ordered appetizers! I know you’re shocked.

Shane and I got the onion rings. They weren’t Stowaway Pub quality, but they were OK.

I still argue that fried vegetables are still vegetables

Cassi and Jason got the loaded potato skins. Also really nothing to write home about, but at least edible, so score.

You know we’ve eaten at some shady places when being edible is cause for celebration

Ted got the fried banana pepper rings. Which he said didn’t have much flavor, so they were apparently not picked from the same garden as the extra spicy banana peppers that adorned my pizza last week.

Picked from the non-spicy side of the garden

Ted, as he sets his menu down with an air of finality: I’m getting the pork chops.
Me, as I’m ignoring the menu in favor of reading our post about Prestier Pub and what we ordered on that visit: That’s odd, since you ordered those the last time.

Which is when we realized an unfortunate change in the past three years … pricing. Last time around Ted was able to add a second pork chop to his order for the bargain price of only $4. Now if you want to add another chop it will run you $8. Ouch.

Disappointment rounded the table after that, as Shane discovered while placing his order that Wednesdays are no longer 50 cent wing nights. He had to take a moment to rethink his strategy after that news. He ended up with the meatball pizza, which was on the specials menu for the evening. Because that’s similar. But it is pizza, so not all that much of a shocker.

If it looks like pizza, it usually ends up in front of Shane

Cassi also got the meatball pizza. Both of them gave it a thumbs up. No “top 5” lists were mentioned, so it wasn’t one of the more memorable ones – but it did have good flavor.

Take two

Jason got a burger, which he liked, and wings, which he didn’t. He said they tasted like chicken tenders thrown in some sauce. I’m not really sure what else they’re supposed to taste like, but apparently this was not what he was expecting.

Ignore the wings in the foreground. They aren’t worth your time.

I win the healthy dish award for this week (something we don’t actually give out, but considering the wealth of fried food that usually adorns our table and the state all of our arteries are probably in at this point, might be a good idea), going with the steak stir fry and a side salad. Wait – is it still considered healthy if it’s a giant portion? I vote yes, but whatever.

An unusual sight at our table

So green and non-fried

Anyway, it was really good. The steak was very tender and flavorful. And as mentioned already, very filling.

Ted did in fact order the mango habanero pork chop – only one, because, well, $8 is a whole other meal – which he said later that he wasn’t sure how to rate. To quote Shane, if you have to think about it, it wasn’t that good.

That one chop looks so lonely

And I think that’s a lesson we could actually utilize for this place in general. Being that it took three of us a good few minutes to realize we actually had been there in the past (and it wasn’t really until I looked up the post that I think Ted and Shane truly believed me) that says something about the impression that was left on us the last time. Or maybe it was just because we couldn’t see very well on our last visit, thanks to the unlit patio. But in any case, I’m not sure that this one will top the list of intentional revisits, unless another name change tricks us into returning. Although our detour to a nearby gas station on the way home led us past a very shady modular-home-with-deck-lights-and-neon-beer-signs-in-window-that-may-or-may-not-be-a-public-or-private-bar that of course Shane declared we were coming back to someday (sidebar: no, we aren’t) so that alone may be the number one reason why we remember this particular evening out at Meyer’s Landing. We may have to flip a coin on which place we actually choose to walk into first.

Picked by: Cassi

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 5/2/18: REVISIT – The Twisted Olive, Green

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When Northeast Ohio graces you with a summerlike evening in early May – bonus points for it being on a Wednesday – you go in search of the best patio you can think of first and ask questions later.

Well, I mean, OK, yes – we did ask one question, which was, of course, “which one should we go to.” As cool as it would be, we all didn’t just look at each other and telepathically infer one particular patio we should visit. Although I think that approach might’ve been easier than us attempting to remember the best area patios in the ten minutes before we walked out the door. Crazy how we can visit so many restaurants, but ask us for a recommendation for a specific type of place – because, I mean, you would think a group of people who go out every week to different places would be good folks to know these types of things – but instead suddenly our memories empty and we become deer in headlights.

Try it the next time you see us.

In any case, Ted finally stepped up to the plate and decided on a revisit to The Twisted Olive – which we all agree does have one of the best patios in the area, albeit a little fancier fare than our usual WTGW options. And it’s been a hot minute – or I guess really about two years worth of hot minutes – since our last visit so it was definitely worth another try.

We requested patio seating when we arrived (duh), and ended up on the downstairs patio this time round, as the hostesses mentioned that the upstairs one “wasn’t full,” but that the server was “a bit overwhelmed.” Um, OK. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but if it means we’ll get better service on a different patio then I’m all for it.

By the end of the night I think we all agreed that hadn’t exactly been the case, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Also, side note – does a place really need three hostesses for a Wednesday night? I mean, I get a weekend. And sure, it was probably a bit busier than usual with the summery weather. But three? Seems maybe the extra person might’ve been better served assisting the overwhelmed server on the upstairs patio, but what do we know.

Anyway.

Turns out that the downstairs patio doesn’t have quite the view of its upstairs sibling. I mean, for one, it’s not elevated at all – so instead of being able to overlook the water and nature area that are behind the restaurant, you kind of just get a lateral view of it. And, spoiler alert, it’s not all that enticing. It’s kind of like having dinner at that friend’s house who has a really nice backyard.

And then also because, well, its literally beneath the upper patio. So instead of truly dining outside, it was more like we just kind of ended up hanging out in an Italian garage. Awesome.

Although mental note to keep this option in mind for those evenings when the temperature is decent and you’d really love to sit outside, but are deterred thanks to the threat of a random passing rain shower.

So there’s that.

We remembered The Twisted Olive being on the fancier end of things from the last time we visited – which we all know equates to lesser amounts of food arriving on your plate in a fancifully arranged way. So as we were looking over the menu I pulled up the post from our 2016 visit to take a look at what we’d ordered last time around.

Shane, moments before I read to him what he ordered at that visit: Oh, scallops, those look delicious.
Me, reading from the 2016 post: “… and then was instantly disappointed as soon as his plate was set in front of him. His comment after the server left was that he was waiting for someone else to walk up and bring him his main course instead of the appetizer portion.”
Shane: So maybe pizza then.

This blog clearly exists if for nothing else than to remind us of our previous dining mistakes.

While we waited on the jury to reconvene in the matter of our main meals, we of course opted for appetizers. Because, well, us. I mean, really. Like any explanation is needed.

Ted got the hummus. He said it was just OK. Probably because it came with salsa mixed in – which some might consider a bonus, but Ted clearly did not. I didn’t try it, but I agreed that it did seem to be a strange pairing. Also, a little warning next time maybe? But the veggies and chips were tasty.

Why is the hummus hiding behind salsa?

Cassi went with the calamari, which Shane had of course ordered on our last visit (surprise!) and seemed to be OK with. However, after careful consideration this time around we all agreed that the dish now seemed to have a special ingredient not mentioned on the menu … pine needles. Sounds weird, I know, but go ahead and order it, take one bite, and tell us we’re wrong about this. I dare you.

Maybe someone just rubbed an air freshener over it

Maybe we shouldn’t have said last time that it “there was really nothing special or different about the dish to distinguish it from any other place we’ve had it before.” I feel like the chef took that as a personal challenge to come up with something we definitely would remember. Too far, chef guy. Too far.

Shane and I won the app lottery with the loaded chips, though. No hidden pine needles or salsa in this dish. Just the right amount of delicious toppings.

There are chips under there, we swear

We also remembered from our last visit that the basket of complimentary rolls set on the table with the appetizers were one of our favorite things about The Twisted Olive. Too bad this time they rolled them in chicken wing grease and coasted them in finely diced onions before serving them.

I kid. They were exactly the same as the last visit. Thank god they didn’t go the “calamari challenge” route on those, or else I think Ted, Shane and I would’ve legit cried when we tried them. I think we all had like four each.

We may or may not have had two more baskets of these. Don’t judge.

For his meal, Ted got the Apple and Fig side salad to go with his crab cake sliders. He had the salad come out ahead of the sandwich. Or at least we think that’s what happened. We saw the server set it down, but then before I could pick up my camera to get a photo of it, it seemed to mysteriously disappear.

Perhaps they should’ve called it the “so good you’ll devour it in two minutes flat” salad

Clearly he hated it.

About two seconds after this photo he also used a piece of bread to clean all of the dressing remnants off the plate, which left it looking like it went through the dishwasher. I think the server was slightly surprised when he came around to collect plates and found a shiny clean one sitting in front of Ted.

Ted commented that he could order the full sized salad and have it be a filling meal. He also said he wasn’t exactly sure what all was in the dish, but it was good. So good, in fact, that he didn’t even take a sip of beer until the salad was gone. Which we all know is not how things operate in our group.

Shane: Something wrong with your beer there, buddy?

And then by the time his crab cake sliders arrived – which Ted had passed up on our last visit because they sounded like they would be too small and not filling enough – he said he was almost too full from his hummus salsa and salad to eat them. Seriously, what is happening here? What parallel universe are we living in where Ted leaves most of the fries on his plate and barely manages to eat two mini-sandwiches?

That wouldn’t be enough food without the other two courses already consumed

It’s like we hardly know this new person.

Cassi meanwhile also got the crab cake sliders, but because her app tasted like a Christmas tree and she skipped the invisible salad course, she was able to enjoy her entire meal. She got the mac and cheese as a side, and declared it delicious after just one bite. That’s high praise.

Shane said the sliders looked like baby sandwiches. I think that’s the idea, but good call.

Over on mine and Shane’s side of the table we had a little pizza party going, as we both went with that for our meals. Truth be told the two of us most definitely could’ve just shared one pie, but we all know by now how Shane feels about the notion of sharing food, so I didn’t even broach that topic.

Instead we each got one of the two pizzas on the menu with the word “Spicy!” next to them: the Twisted for me (pepperoni and banana peppers), and the Sicilian for Shane (sausage).

And when they arrived I suddenly had flashbacks of the great sheet pizza debacle of Belleria a few years back.

It actually looks bigger in person

They picked those banana peppers off the spicy tree for sure

Needless to say we each ended up taking several slices home. Well, I took several home. Shane took a few.

Something else Shane would’ve taken a few of were beverages, while we were still sitting at the table eating of course. But our server – you know, the one who was NOT supposed to be “a bit overwhelmed” – kind of seemed to forget about the world underneath the main patio, and was pretty much non-existent outside of dropping off plates at our table. Or miraculously whenever Ted’s drink was empty – which, as we’ve already established after the salad incident, wasn’t all that often.

I will say, though, that we were highly entertained by one of the other two tables seated in the underworld with us … three teacher-slash-moms who openly discussed their dating lives at a volume that might have been less obtrusive had there not been more than a few empty cocktail glasses on their table. The 35+ minute conversation about the merit of baths and showers was especially stimulating. We were all a bit sad to see them leave, although giggling quietly to ourselves was becoming increasingly difficult.

Cassi

Steph

Shane, whose rating is indicative of his lack of beer throughout the evening

Ted, who probably should’ve given a higher rating since his beer was full more often than anyone’s

 

WTGW 2/14/18: Eldorado’s Pizza Pub, Ellet

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Welcome to an exciting Valentine’s Day edition of WTGW.

Given the date, I figured I’d better pick a place that wouldn’t be full of date night couples for Valentine’s Day. So naturally a divey pizza pub seemed like a good choice, no?

Plus I wanted to reunite Ted with his forever love, cheese. Because that’s what friends do.

This is also kind of a revisit for Shane, Ted and me, since we’ve been to the Eldorados in Kent. Or, rather, the place forever known as the home of the gigantic Stromboli and the Judgey McJudgerson waitress that asked Amanda and me if we were “sure” we wanted to each order a large stromboli, but didn’t give us any indication that once they arrived we could pretty much split them with an entire small European country.

Not that I’m holding a grudge or anything.

I don’t think any of us realized until recently that there was another Eldorado’s location in Ellet. And apparently GoogleMaps doesn’t, either, since the address I put into the app didn’t match up to where we actually ended up. If we followed the directions we would’ve kept going on down the street … but the sign in front of the building tipped us off that maybe we should stop there. Nice marketing, sign guys.

Speaking of the building – it’s clear that this was once a Lawson’s convenience store. Because it’s always fun to eat dinner where the chip aisle used to be, right? Too bad they don’t serve Lawson’s chip dip at Eldorado’s, it could’ve all come full circle.

Anyway.

We sat down and were brought menus … and Shane gets the menu without the pizza page. That’s pretty much the very definition of irony.

The Wednesday special at Eldorado’s is a 10 inch pizza with one topping for $5. Not bad. Honestly, it’s been a bit since we visited the one in Kent, but the menu at this location seems bigger than the menu at that location. Because aside from pizza, stromboli, meatball subs and other Italian fare, they also serve up burgers, sandwiches and wings … all of which I don’t remember being available at the other location. Because it seems like part of the reason we haven’t been back in a few years is out of respect for Ted and his inability to order anything there without having to discard half of the meal that’s been tainted by cheese.

Needless to say Ted was ecstatic about this new development. And immediately offered up a trade for Shane’s pizza-less menu. Because if you’re ever asked the question “who goes into a pizza place and orders a burger and wings?” … well, the answer is Ted. Just FYI.

He got the Blazin burger – or, well, that was his name for it, the real title is Nuclear burger. Which is why the server was slightly flustered when trying to take his order. Food synonyms are confusing.

This is what a cheese-less pizza looks like in Ted’s world

He also got 12 of the Louisiana hot wings.

Pizza for the lactose intolerant?

I got the small Spicy Piggy Stromboli. Which is slightly embarrassing to say but sounds delicious when you read the description in the menu. I also heeded the lessons learned at the Kent location and only ordered the small. Sometimes we do pay attention, even when alcohol is involved.

Whoever came up with the sizing here still needs a lesson in portion control

Cassi got the Wednesday $5 pizza special with pepperoni and mushrooms.

Not so special Wednesday special

Shane got the meat sweats pizza. Or meat lovers. Whatevs. The server asked if he wanted the $5 special instead, but he was under too much pressure flipping through the menu to decide on toppings that he just stayed with his original. Plus he would’ve had to figure out an order of wings, too, because we all know a 10 inch pizza wouldn’t be enough for him. So he stuck with his original order. #firstworldproblems

That pepperoni is very symmetrical

Shane and I also ordered the sausage jalepeno bites as an app, while Cassi got the smothered tots.

I’ll be the first to admit that the sausage bites looked thoroughly disgusting when they arrived at our table. I think our initial reaction was like, oh, cool, someone cut up a hot dog and deep fried it. Scrumptious. But if you can get past the look of it, it actually tastes really good. It has the kind of spicy bite that sneaks up on you after you’re done chewing it. But in a good way. Trust me.

Winner of the “Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover” category

Cassi’s appetizer tots arrived with the rest of the meals. Because I guess if you want something to come out as an appetizer here you have to particularly specify that. I had said it when we ordered the sausage bites, more out of habit than anything else, but I guess the server didn’t take the hint on Cassi’s order. OK. To make matters worse, the tots were soggy and not good. Like I get that they’re smothered in a sauce, and the laws of physics state that crispiness will usually falter in that state. But maybe if they hadn’t spent some time hanging out under a heat lamp while the rest of the meals were cooking they might’ve arrived more resembling tots with sauce than just a pile of mush. As appetizing as that sounds.

These do taste as bad as they look

Maybe Table 6 visited this place before they started their “no heat lamps” policy. Or maybe that’s why they were supposed to be an appetizer. Tough call.

It’s also worth noting that we had like three different servers in the first 20 minutes of our visit. Like are they all just stopping by to gawk at the non-regulars, and then draw straws in the back to see who actually gets to wait on us? My favorite was the one who came over to specifically ask Cassi and me if we needed more drinks, since ours were about a quarter of the way to being empty … meanwhile after she walks away Shane holds up his completely empty glass that she totally overlooked. Whoops.

Ted said that sauce on his wings was good, but the actual wings were not, and may in fact be made from a rubber chicken instead of a real one. To clarify: we all witnessed a sort of reenactment of the dinner scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation while watching Ted try to chew his way through them. He calculated that it was approximately five minutes of chewing per wing. Which if he were to eat all 12, that would equal out to about an hour’s worth of mouth exercises just to complete his meal. So it was no surprise that he left most of them on the table.

Chalk up one point in the argument against ordering something non-pizza at a pizza place. Noted.

Although Ted did say that his burger was good. Shane also commented that it had his version of a perfectly toasted bun, which means that it was completely soaked in butter. So much so that you could see a visible line on the side of the bun. Mmmm, heart disease.

Shane might’ve had food jealousy at that point, if not for the fact that he was completely in love with his pizza. Like disgustingly in love. Fitting for Valentine’s Day, I guess. I’m glad as his wife I could introduce him to this new true love. To quote Shane: “it almost gives me a boner just looking at it.” Beause we all needed to know that, Shane. Sharing is caring, I guess. He then went on to say that the cheese alone almost pushed him over the edge. I feel like we all know a little too much about him now.

Meanwhile, since we’re sharing, Cassi said that her bottom was mushy. So there’s that.

My Stromboli was good … kind of. The dough was good, and it was brushed with a garlic butter that gave it a lot of flavor. But there wasn’t enough cheese – like Ted could’ve lived with this one, there was so little cheese – and the sausage was the exact same as what was in our app, so I was kind of over it by that point. I ended up picking a lot of it out just because I didn’t want any more.

Yes, I was full of sausage. Bring on all the jokes.

Meawhile Shane was still on the other side of the table raving loudly about his pizza. We felt like we should’ve given them some time alone.

I think it was in searching for an escape route from Shane and his new date that we discovered this apparently adults-only patio nearby:

So. Many. Questions.

Seems maybe someone has cracked the “hey, under-agers, just wait out on the patio and I’ll attempt to inconspicuously buy four rounds of drinks within five minutes and come out to deliver them to you. be cool” code?

We continued the dessert kick again this week, with an order of cinnamon bread. Which also suffers from the “tastes better than it looks” issue. I guess at least they’re consistent? In any case, it was just OK. Personally I thought it tasted more “burnt” than “cinnamon.” Picked the wrong crayon to color that one there, chef, but thanks for trying. But you definitely get a generous portion, although the less-than-stellar presentation could use some work.

Here’s your sheet pan of dessert bread. Enjoy.

And at least this server clarified Ted’s order with “you’re only getting one, right? Because it will be more than enough for the four of you.” Maybe she needs to go give lessons to the staff down in Kent.

Overall this Eldroado’s is a decent place. The people watching was great, especially on this particular holiday. Plus we got to watch something on TV that can only be described as “House Hunters for Camping.” Seriously. I have no idea what the real name of show is, I think that description gives you enough to go on. I guess that’s a new marker as to “you know you’re in a dive bar when …”

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Cassi

Bromance. At least he stepped away from the pizza long enough to take this photo

Ted

Eldorado's Pizza & Sports Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

WTGW 9/20/17: Springfield Tavern, Ellet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cassi: Told you so.

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

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

Classy.

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

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

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

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

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

Wings, take one: Hot

Wings, take two: Arizona Ranch

Wings, take three: BBQ

And last but not least, Mild

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic burger and bun, repeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Shane

Ted

Steph

Cassi