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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once again our lives resemble this show

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

Anyway.

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

No camouflage here

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

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

Now that’s a cold beer

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

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

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

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

Too few and too soft

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

This is how you wrap up deliciousness

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

These were pointless

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

Right.

Moving on.

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

There’s a burger under that bun, I swear

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

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

Looks similar to last week’s breaded cauliflower

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

Sweet not spicy

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

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

That almost looks healthy. Almost

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

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

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

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

Cold hard truth

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

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

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

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

Ted

Shane

Steph

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WTGW 7/19/17: ATTEMPT – Woody’s / REVISIT – The Lockview, Akron

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Alternate title: The Night We Struck Out At Pretty Much Everything.

Sounds fun, right?

Ironically the evening started out pretty promising. Ted’s choice for this week was a new place that had just opened up in downtown Akron called Woody’s Bar. He said it was so new, there were only like five reviews available for it online … but all of them were positive, so that has to be good, right?

Now … he also admitted that there was a possibility that the stellar reviews came from the owner’s friends, relatives and fellow workers … but whatever, if the owner hasn’t poisoned those people yet then it seems like a good chance we would at least walk away unscathed.

So we pull up in front of Woody’s, just as the two parking spaces on the street immediately in front of the place open up. Jack. Pot. It was like watching the heavens opening to reveal a glorious rainbow. Well, at least to a girl like me, anyway, who sports heels for 97% of our Wednesday adventures and was having visions of walking five miles from a parking deck to access this place.

Ladies, you know the feeling.

In any case, we thought we had won the WTGW lottery. I mean, how can this NOT be a good night?

Ha.

So we walk in – and the place looks great. It’s definitely small, but there are plenty of TVs, what appeared to be a door to a patio at the far back of the space, and lots of beer on tap/in the coolers. Although, at this point I will say that my one complaint would be that they didn’t offer much in bottles or drafts outside of beer. Full bar, yes, and plenty of local craft beers … but when I asked about ciders they only had what I refer to as the “Bud Light of Ciders” (not to be confused with the Champagne of Beers, mind you), Angry Orchard. Booo. I swear bars only stock that so that they can point to it when asked if they have anything other than beer. Is it so much to ask for a Mackenzie’s or a Crispin every now and then?

Sorry, rant over.

Anyway, Ted orders his beer, and while Shane and I are figuring out what we want to drink (refer to the soapbox above), Ted asks for menus.

This, folks, is where the night took a sharp turn. One minute you think you’ve lucked out by getting a parking spot on the street right in front of the establishment and seats at the uncrowded bar … and then ten minutes the bartender utters the sentence that changes the course of the night …

“Our kitchen doesn’t open until 9:00.”

Wait, what now? That seems an odd time to begin serving food, no? I mean, I’m all about places that keep their kitchens open late – especially in a college town – but just beginning dinner service at 9PM seems a bit peculiar.

Well, by stroke of (our incredibly bad) luck, it seems that the one night we picked to visit was the same night that one of the cooks chose to call off. Lucky us! It’s like finding out you won the lottery and are handed a fistful of Monopoly money instead of real cash.

Also, can we just talk for a minute about the staffing at this place? I mean, you’re new, I get that … but if your lunch cook is there at the time that your 4PM cook calls off, and you have another one scheduled to come in at 9PM … can you not work it out somehow so that lunch guy stays over and 9PM comes in early, and then you don’t miss out on the dinner crowd? I mean, that seems to me to be about the most important time to have someone in the kitchen serving up the burgers and chips that Ted said he saw rave reviews about.

Especially since there are huge signs and banners outside the restaurant saying “NOW SERVING FOOD.” Maybe we should’ve helped him out and put a “T” over the “W” on those, just for this evening.

Anyway, since it was only 7PM and of course we were too hungry to wait two hours to even think about eating, Ted gulped his beer and off we went. We’ll call this Strike #1 of the evening. I won’t ruin the surprise with the number we ended up at by the time we headed home.

And thus how we ended up at Plan B for tonight:  The Lockview, a place we visited back once again in the age before this blog – I believe the week after we’d initially visited Whitey’s. 2013 was a pretty happening summer, y’all. 

I mean, come on. We’re wearing paper umbrellas in our hair. That came from our sandwiches, not our drinks. #cuttingedge

Here’s what we took away from that visit back in 2013: The Lockview was really dark inside, we heard rumor that there was a great rooftop patio but when we visited it was too cold to go up (thus proving that Mother Nature and I have been locked in battle for quite some time now) … but by far the most reminisced memory was this:

WTF

That’s right, when we ordered the chips and dip from the menu, they literally set down in front of us a basket of chips poured from a bag and a plastic tub of Lawson’s chip dip. It’s like being at Grandma’s house and she serves up a snack for you and your friends after school. The joke became what poor soul had to make the trip down to the convenience store to pick up tubs of dip because they forgot to make more.

And we always said we would go back, if nothing else just to see if that was truly the case, or if serving dip straight from the container was just their “thing.”

And the verdict is …

Do they have stock in this brand or what?

Yep, it must be a thing, because four years later this is still the way it arrives at your table. Although we did notice that the menu now specifically says you get a “tub of real Lawson’s chip dip,” so I have to believe we weren’t the only patrons to think it was a little odd.

Also, the server told us she was leaving the lid so we could “take home whatever dip was left over.” Please. Clearly you’ve never met us. As if.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

We still didn’t get to check out the aforementioned and critically acclaimed “fantastic patio” on this visit, since once again Mother Nature has confused Ohio with the tropics and delivered us 90 degree heat with 1000% humidity on a Wednesday. Awesome, thanks.

But being inside kind of felt like outside at least, since this time around they actually seemed to find the light switch to the dining room. Cheers to that. That was the first thing we noticed that was different about the place since 2013.

The second thing was that The Lockview seemed to have transformed into a hipster joint in the past four years since our initial visit, complete with crazy loud jazzy music and an entire novel of craft beer on the menu.

Fantastic. (Be sure you read that in your sarcastic voice.)

The server irritated us right from the start, when we said we needed A minute to look at the novel of a drink menu after we sat down … and he gave us about 20. We’re confused, not illiterate, thanks. He even made a show of fluffing tablecloths at the table behind us instead of coming over to take our orders, when ample time had passed for us to have made our decisions. OK, showoff. I get that you’re super important and we disrupted your flow of order taking. Calm it.

Finally he graced us with his presence, and Ted ordered something he had gone up and tasted at the bar (yes, Ted had time to go do his own personal beer tasting at the bar – that should help put a time stamp on the moments that elapsed between his first greeting of us and when he returned from his tablecloth straightening adventures). I tried to order a raspberry wheat that was on the “draught” board … and was told they were all out of that, but the replacement was some strawberry shortcake something or other. Fine, whatever. I’m just thirsty at this point.

Although that’s technically strike #2 for the evening.

Shane ordered the grapefruit shandy, and the server walked away … only to return a few minutes later to say they were out of that, too. And thus followed strikes #3 through about #27 as Shane attempted to order a drink.

Remember how I said last week that Ted was the new curse holder for the “sorry we’re out of that” line? Yeah, it somehow must’ve transferred to Shane in the past week. With a vengeance.

I took a tiny bit of solice in the fact that I think a part of our hipster server’s soul died a little when Shane tried to just be simple and pick a Bud Light – which of course they don’t serve there (the server noted to us rather haughtily). Right. Silly commoners. Fine. Shane finally settled with a Brooklyn Summer Ale, although he didn’t really know what it was he was ordering and may have been just closing his eyes and pointing to a name on the menu at that point. Let’s just say it wasn’t his favorite.

Moving on to food (which we ordered at the same time as the drinks, because we knew by now that it could be another three hours before we saw the server again) – in addition to the legendary chips and dip, we also got an order of the sweet potato fries.

Probably the healthiest thing on our table this evening

They were hot and well seasoned – you don’t even need the butter and cinnamon sugar dipping sauce that most places serve them with … which is a good thing, because they don’t serve that dip with these fries here. Because why would they.

Lockview is known for their grilled cheese, and there is little else on the menu other than that. Umm … someone else please tell me they see the irony in Ted being the one in the group to choose not only this place but also Melt – the two places in the area that feature predominantly cooked cheese on the menu? I think he secretly eats blocks of cheese at home but just pretends to hate it when we’re out.

I got the #7, which was grilled cheese with roasted red peppers and portabello mushrooms. And of course, I opted for tater tots as a side – because, well, me.

I seem to remember wearing that paper umbrella last visit

It was pretty good. I mean, these sandwiches definitely don’t go the way of Melt’s presentation where a giant sandwich dripping with cheese and fillings arrives in front of you and you have to figure out how to tackle it … but it was definitely enough to fill me up. The bread was good, with just enough butter on it and not too overdone, and the veggies inside were toasted just right. I could’ve done without the tots, though – which is something you very rarely hear me say. They were too crispy. You know when I leave some on the plate at the end of the meal I was not thrilled with them.

Shane got the #2,  which included pepper jack cheese and sliced jalapenos. Seems like a solid combination. He got his with fries.

It looks so small and unassuming. Also note the beer list in the background that remained on our table the entire evening.

He really liked the sandwich. He said his was overly buttered, which is just the way he likes it. Healthy Shane has apparently left the building.

Ted, of course, kept up his cheese-hating front and ordered one of the seven or so sandwich options that are not grilled cheese, the panko crusted chicken sandwich. He also chose the tots.

I don’t think he even had to ask for no cheese on this one

His sandwich was good – he thought he remembered that that was exactly what he got the last time we came (of course he can remember, probably because it was one of the few items without cheese) and it was still just as good. And he liked the sweet potato fries. But that was about all he liked about the evening.

Shane’s beer woes continued, so much so that I lost count of how many strikes we were up to by mid-way through our meals. It became like a game of fetch – Shane would pick out the name of a beer, the server would look concerned and go back to check to see if they were out, then return and usually say try again.

He finally won with a habenero ale. Which, while that sounds delightful all in itself, was made even more so by the fact that the bottle arrived at a lovely room temperature. Mmmm. Warm spicy ale. Delicious. I guess even though the server claimed it was one of the last ones and that they don’t restock it that often because (surprise!) not many people order it, instead of chilling out at the very back of some cooler it instead seems to get exiled to the stock shelf with the cans of real habeneros. Sure, that’s a plan. I mean, at least the server did bring over a chilled glass, although that probably breaks some hipster server code of ethics – but whatever, nice attempt anyway.

Warm beer that tastes like hot peppers. I can’t believe this isn’t flying off the shelves.

Me – so you have jalapenos on your sandwich and habaneros in your beer?
Shane – yeah, that’s probably not the best choice

Of course we all had to try this mysterious beer – which definitely had a spicy kick to it. I mean, it wasn’t Ted after the “hey, eat this habanero” incident of a few years ago … but it gets you. Let’s just say it’s not something you want to guzzle a six pack of after a hard day or anything like that. One was enough.

Speaking of enough, we’d had about all we could take of the blaring hipster jazz music about 10 minutes after we sat down. Either Shaft was playing DJ for the night, or someone’s Dad is going to be upset when he realizes he’s missing the “funky 70’s car chase music” album from his collection.

Strike #4,869.

Which, as you can probably guess, leads to The Lockview pretty much adding up to one giant strikeout for us. Even the novelty of the Lawson’s plastic tub of chip dip couldn’t save it for us this time around. While our sandwiches were decent, it was nothing we absolutely would have a reason to come back for – especially considering the other factors of awful service, horrible atmosphere and numerous unavailable beverages. I mean, at what point do you just suck it up and print a new menu? Or re-write the listing on the wall above the bar? Or maybe, just maybe, order some new stock?

The one thing Ted did commend our server on was warning Shane on the price when he tried to take a chance and order some interesting sounding, and I think fruit flavored, mead – which of course they were out of anyway, shocker – but a $14.50 charge for a can of beer would’ve been rather unexpected and unwelcome had that actually been one of the ones that did show up at our table. But beyond that, we weren’t impressed.

This sign still exists at The Lockview, as does my original caption that “the kitchen may be open, but the staff unfortunately was not.”

We even had to make a stop at Insomnia Cookies on the way out of downtown, just to try and end the evening with a win by drowning our experience in ice cream and sugar. Or maybe we were just trying to relive the three pounds of frozen yogurt evening in downtown Kent. Because all memorable evenings end with mixing copious amounts of sugar and dairy with alcohol, no?

But hey – it was about 9PM by then, and Woody’s was across the street from Insomnia Cookies … maybe we shoud’ve just restarted the whole evening over by going in there again and trying to order another dinner? It could be like Groundhog Day, WTGW style.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Shane

Steph

Ted

 

The Lockview Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I’ll pass.

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

Any winners? I’ll make you a ribbon.

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

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

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

My fingers will never forget you, egg rolls

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

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

Fryer still works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll see you in our dreams, burger

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The only proof of that evening are these amazing photos.

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

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

Obviously they’ve matured in four years.

I’m kicking myself for not reenacting this photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s clearly suffering

*sigh*

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

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

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

It looks so small and unassuming

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

Because we like to kill off tastebuds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any salad is healthy, no?

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

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

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

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

So. Lonely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table 23. Where your thirst lives on.

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

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

 

WTGW 4/12/17: REVISIT – Windsor Pub, Akron

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Aren’t you glad we started allowing revisits for our WTGW adventures? I know we are, because without that option I have a feeling this week’s pick could’ve taken a much different turn.

When we first got in the car to head out for WTGW, Ted announced that he was to finally going to pick Creo’s – otherwise known as “the new Gus’ Chalet” that we’ve been joking about him subjecting us to ever since it (re)opened like a year or so ago.

Great, get us in the car where we can’t run away and then make that announcement. Sneaky move, Ted.

He did allow for a fallback, though – he said his plan was to pull up to the restaurant, go peek inside to see how it looked (i.e. how many people over 70 were in attendance) and then opt out if need be. Especially if any of these people looked to be eating what we still think could’ve only been tarter sauce on triangles of bread.

Turns out we were overthinking things. As we approached Creo’s and saw literally one lonely car parked in the parking lot (OK, maybe two cars, if you count one that was parked a little ways away and we all agreed could plausibly belong to a worker) … well, Ted just kept driving. He didn’t even get to try his duck-in-and-count-heads-and-creepy-food plan, since we didn’t even pull in the lot.

And honestly none of us – Ted included – were too upset, since the backup plan was to just continue straight on down Tallmadge Ave to revisit an old favorite of ours, the Windsor Pub.

The last time we were here was just over two years ago, and the main things we retained about this place were 1) they had excellent burgers that were very filling, and 2) the heavy pour from the bartenders caused Shane to drink the equivalent of about two bottles of rum – for like $10.

Tell me why we don’t come back here more often?

I mean, the place certainly isn’t fancy, but it’s damn good. And I’m pleased to say that it seems they replaced the seat cushions since our last visit, so we weren’t fighting for booth space with the interior springwork this time around. Not that it would’ve sent us running for the door or anything, but it’s nice to see they’ve upgraded a bit.

Ted was about to start off the evening by ordering six wings to munch on before his burger arrived, until I reminded him of our last visit and how we ordered ALL THE APPS because we were clearly new and unprepared for the sheer size of the burgers. I mean, the server pretty much laughed in our faces when she heard the insane amount of food we were ordering. And we all left feeling like we were going to explode … well, except Shane, who was too sloshed on rum to really care what else was in his stomach that visit.

So, yeah, no apps this time around. See, we do pay attention. Sometimes.

Since we all had envy of Shane’s complete drunkenness for less than the price of a pizza at that last visit, this time around it was mixed drinks for everyone at our table. Jack and coke for Ted, Rum and diet for Shane and Captain and ginger ale for me.

Clearly we like to play Russian roulette on who will get us home from these adventures. If anyone affiliated with the police is reading this, please don’t search our plate numbers. We’ll call an Uber if we need to. Honest.

The pictures on this post are going to be a bit boring this week, since all three of us ordered the same thing: the Windsor burger, which comes with onions, mushrooms, cheese and mayo. I got the junior while the guys got the full 3/4 lb size. Shane got onion rings with his, Ted and I went with the potato wedges.

That’s a lot of meat.
(That’s what she said)

Interestingly, we all had different styles of eating the same burger. I cut mine in half (using Shane’s knife, as apparently junior burger eaters can’t be trusted with sharp objects), Shane went with quarters, and Ted just picked up the damn thing and ate it whole. Guess who needed the most napkins?

I’m happy to report the burgers are still as delicious as we remembered them to be. Even though they don’t ask anyone how they want their burger cooked, it doesn’t matter because whatever way they do these is perfect. Like, when another restaurant asks how I want my burger cooked, I’m tempted to answer “Windsor.” They’re crumbly without being dry, flavorful without being overly seasoned, and done enough without being overcooked.

Perfection. Seriously.

I love how the lighting gives all of our photos a red tint. It’s like we live in an Instagram filter.

Of course, as with anything good, there always has to be some way to ruin it … and at the Windsor Pub that seems to be what they call the Windsor Challenge. This involves eating three of the regular sized burgers we ordered stacked on top of one another. So basically if you took all the food at our table, upsized my burger to full size, and ate it all yourself. In 30 minutes.

Sounds delightful, no?

Yeah, surprisingly no one at our table wanted to try it. Shocking, I know.

The big prize for doing so is that your burger(s) are free if you finish the meal in 30 minutes. OK. I mean, let’s just be honest here, with the prices of things at the Windsor Pub, how much are you actually saving by doing this? Certainly not your arteries or cholesterol levels. Because, really, a junior Windsor burger is $4.99. The regular one is like $6.99. That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than open heart surgery, but I understand some people like to live dangerously. Rock on.

It maybe should be renamed the “Spin the Wheel of High Cholesterol” challenge

Speaking of prices, the burgers and mixed drinks aren’t the only things you get a lot of bang for your buck on. While we didn’t look at much else on the menu thanks to our fond memories of the burgers (that sounds weirder than it is, trust me), Shane pointed out a sign on the wall that the special for the evening was country fried steak with mashed potatoes and green beans … for $5.75.

So there’s that.

When it was all said and done, our entire bill for the evening was $42 for two people. That was for two meals and SEVEN tall mixed drinks. So like 1/8 of a cow and four bottles of liquor.

I mean, come on.

We were laughing later when we looked closer at the receipt and realized it was only $1.00 more for each drink than it was to sub in onion rings or potato wedges instead of chips as the sides with our burgers ($3.25 for drinks vs $2.25 for the “side”).

Best $3.25 you’ve ever spent

Are they making the liquor in the back room themselves? Because this can’t be economical for them.

Our server was amazing. He was working behind the bar along with one other person, but he still always found time to come over to our booth and check on us … or give us extra time and come back a million times before we placed our orders because the girl in the group couldn’t get her crap together and decide what she wanted. Whatevs. Point is, we never had empty glasses for long, and he never seemed unhappy about having to walk over the few extra steps from behind the bar to chat with us.

Maybe Hooley House should send their servers here for training? Just a thought.

I have to believe the Windsor Pub will always be one of our favorites. Despite the somewhat sketch location (Tallmadge Ave = Strip Club Alley of Eastern Akron) it’s worth the trip if you’ve never been. Just maybe bring a designated driver, especially if you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your pocket and intend to spend more than $10 on bar drinks.

You always know it’s been a good night when either we start doing shots, or we’re out later than we planned to be. No shots this time around (mainly because we had enough in our glasses, thanks) – but we did manage to head out the door later than we have in the past few weeks.

Shane: “I can’t believe we stayed out until 9:16.”
Me: “I can’t believe we’re old enough to say that.”

On another note, it’s worth mentioning that the same two cars were still parked at Creo’s when we went by on again on our way home. Like two and a half hours after our first drive-by.

Like I said, could’ve been a whole different evening.

Ted

Steph

Should I be upset that my husband wanted his picture with Ted and not me? But aren’t they adorable?

Picked by: Ted
Original pick by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Windsor Pub 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 3/29/17: Hooley House, Fairlawn – REVISIT

Standard

Oh, Hooley House. I remember when we first met, two years ago (almost to the day, ironically – what does it say about our timing when we continuously pick an Irish place in the weeks following St Patrick’s Day?) – we were so excited to finally get there, so filled with promise for what you could be for us … and then we left disappointed.

In remembering that first visit, or main contention was … well … pretty much everything. The service was extremely slow, our glasses were left empty for 20+ minutes at a time – even when we were seated essentially right next to the auxillary bar, the burgers weren’t cooked to our individual specifications, and my chicken sandwich may or may not have been trying to kill me.

But the apps were good, so score one for them there, I guess.

At the time, we chalked it up to the fact that they hadn’t been open long, so they were probably still working out some kinks. Plus we also chose poorly on our seating for the evening, not realizing that there was another full bar and dining area with far more seating – and that was consistently beating us in the loudness and “sounds like fun is happening over there” departments – opposite from where we were sitting.

But even with all those negatives, we still always talked about going back to give it another chance. Because we’re fair like that.

This time around we knew right off the bat not to make the same mistakes in the seating department, and requested to head for the opposite site – otherwise known as the “East Eden” to our last visit’s quieter side. And while it was definitely an improvement, we also weren’t instantly in heaven.

Maybe it was because we also happened to be there on trivia that night. And I think we’re learning that’s a whole different crowd on those nights … who don’t particularly care for people talking loudly when they’re trying to be all smart and stuff, and who shoot us looks of death when we have our cell phones on the table. Hey, listen, we’re taking pictures of food for important research, not googling your answers. Well, OK, maybe we’re doing that, too … but don’t worry, we heard the rules, and we’re not playing your little game anyway. We just like to pretend to be smart, too.

Also, the girl hosting the trivia on this particular night had an amazingly monotone, still-not-loud-enough-even-with-a-microphone voice that was putting me to sleep. Because that’s good for bar business.

So clearly we’re off to an amazing start already.

But nevertheless, we ordered beer, because, well, that always seems like a good place to change the tides for the better. Ted started off with a Guinness. I asked which Leininkugel’s seasonal was on tap, since their “winter specials” table tents said Cranberry Ginger, but it’s after St. Patrick’s Day so that technically means spring in Ohio, and usually the Summer Shandy is out by now.

The server’s answer pretty much ambiguously implied it could be either. Oh, OK. Well luckily I like either one, so whatever, I guess, just give me what pours out of that tap, please.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered something from the same “winter specials” flyer that involved Guinness mixed with the seasonal Cranberry Leininkugel’s.

Me: You know, if they don’t have that cranberry beer anymore, they won’t be able to make that drink.
Shane: Oh, good point, you’re probably right.

Sure enough, about two minutes later our server appeared with mine and Ted’s beers, and that exact message for Shane.

Just call me Miss Cleo.

So Shane ended up with a Michelob Ultra. Probably tasted exactly the same.

Speedy Ted wasted no time and tried jumping right to appetizers as we were putting in the drink order, so Shane and I scrambled and just came up with our usual of late – pretzel sticks.

Because really, if you mess those up we should probably just leave.

My addiction to bread continues

Fortunately we didn’t have to chug our drinks and bolt for the door, as these pretzels were delicious. They were done just right so they were slightly crispy on the outside but still doughy inside. And straight from the oven just like last week at R Shea’s – only this week it was Shane who lost a few layers of skin just trying to eat them. He tried about four times to pick one up, each time about 30 seconds from the last, and continued to declare them “still hot.”

Catches on quick, that one.

Meanwhile Speedy Gonzalez over there had been so impatient to order because he had his eye on the Maple Glazed Bacon app – which he had spotted on another menu somewhere not WTGW related but never got to order then, so he was all about ordering it now. The app is really just what the name suggests – bacon strips cooked and coated in candied maple syrup. So basically kind of like your entire breakfast served in one cute little bar glass, and without the carbs of pancakes.

The perfect breakfast in a glass

And he wasn’t disappointed. To quote Ted, “It’s like you soaked your bacon in maple syrup. And come on, it’s maple and bacon, what’s not to like.”

We don’t ask for much, people. Really.

As I mentioned already, we were once again coming off the corned beef fest that is an Irish holiday, so we may have been just a tad burnt out to order anything remotely Irish on the menu. Shane and I actually ended up with a bit of a southwestern theme between us – he ordered the beef quesadilla, which I made fun of him for ordering at an Irish place … and then I promptly turned around and ordered a spicy black bean burger.

Don’t judge.

On the other side of the table, Ted ordered the BBQ bacon burger, thus proving that apparently his theme for the night was just “whatever has bacon on it.”

And just like our last visit to HH, the apps were better than the actual meals. We all thought our food was just OK. Ted thought his burger was alright, but that the tater tots were too salty. I also was not a fan of the tots – and that’s not a sentence I say many times. But I also just had really good tots at a restaurant in Chicago a few weeks ago, so that memory may have infringed on my opinion here.

Look at those tots. Just look, though, because eating them isn’t recommended.

My burger was OK, I liked that it had lots of avacado, and my bread loving self was of course a fan of the soft bun (that’s what she said …). But I could’ve done without the overload of onions that seemed to not want to be evicted from the sandwich.

Ignore my half eaten pretzel stick, that didn’t come with the entree

Shane said his quesadilla was also just OK, nothing special.

Mex-Irish

Our server was good, very talkative and sweet, although she did disappear a few times when glasses were empty and not reappear until we were about ready to go up to the bar and order for ourselves. Do they teach that tick to all of the servers here? I seem to remember that disappearing act happening a lot on our last visit. But she also tried to give Ted an extra Guinness at the end of the night, so maybe that was her way of making up for it? I’d like to say we’ll return to find out, but that’s probably pretty doubtful at this point. The way things have been going with this place so far, the third time is either the charm … or one of us ends up with food poisoning. That’s a game of Russian roulette I’m not sure any of us are willing to play.

Re-picked by: Shane
Original pick by: Amanda
Next pick: Steph

Steph

Ted

Shane