WTGW 6/29/16: Revisit – The Big Dog, Ravenna

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Once upon a time, we went to a place in Ravenna with an amazing patio and insanely cheap wings on Wednesday nights. And ever since that time we’ve been saying we need to go back to this establishment at some point to see if it’s really still that good, or if maybe the stars just aligned and we happened to visit on a good night, or if maybe we all just drank way too many beers that particular night and beer-googled ourselves a fantastic evening.

You laugh, but I think that happens far more than we realize at the time.

Fast forward to a few months ago, in the midst of our professional-and-medically-induced hiatus, when we received a comment on the blog from Greg, a gentleman who is affiliated with The Big Dog in Ravenna. He read our review from a few years back, and invited us to return to see some of the changes they’ve made (namely a brighter, less scary interior and a more open bar area on the patio – which was already pretty great to begin with). And hence the idea came that we should dedicate at least a few WTGW trips to revisiting those that we once put at the top of the favorites list, to see if they’re still deserving of the placement.

And so, on a gorgeous summer Wednesday evening, we figured why not return to what we’ve always considered to be one of the best patio picks of all WTGW time?

Exactly.

Plus Greg was kind enough to confirm for us that they do indeed still have the 10 cent wings on Wednesdays, so as you can imagine it didn’t take much arm twisting to get us back on the road to Ravenna.

Once we arrived, we found the parking lot still as busy as it had been that day we first visited – and although we still didn’t have trouble finding an open spot, we were still slightly nervous to walk onto the patio in search of a table, as we figured it would be packed.  But luck was on our side, and we easily spotted a table for three off in the corner.

Side note: oddly enough, all of our food runners throughout the night would have a more difficult time located said table than we did finding it in the first place. But whatevs.

So Greg wasn’t lying – the outdoor bar is definitely larger and more open. It’s less like you’re walking up to the side of a shed to order your food and drinks, and more like a real bar. With TVs and everything. *gasp* Although we noticed later – like as the sun started to set later – that they still haven’t installed any more lighting on the patio. So lucky for us it doesn’t get dark in this part of the world until like 10PM at this time of year … but not sure how we feel about returning toward the end of the summer when that time frame starts to move forward considerably.

But back to the plus side – bigger bar means better beer selection, so Ted didn’t have to suffer through another Miller Lite with his wings this time around. Horray! They still have the rule of needing to purchase one beer for every 10 wings ordered in order to get the 10 cent price on Wednesdays … which, again, twist our arms. Hell, we’ll even buy beers when we aren’t ordering more wings!

Just call us rebels.

So this time around Ted opted for Loginitos IPA on draft. And Shane and I got tall cans of Summer Shandy.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Ted not drinking Miller Lite

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Summer at its best

Speaking of rules. So we noticed that they have them printed on a card on the table – primarily that none of the daily food specials are available to-go. And by to-go, they mean no food leaves the premises. Period. So no doggie bags. In fact, they even claim that taking home leftover wings on Wednesdays will get you banned for life. Wait, what? That’s kind of harsh.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

The fine print. Literally.

But regardless, we weren’t in the mood to test it – because, well, if we haven’t mentioned before, we actually like this place.

OK, so this post could also be titled “the time three people went out to dinner and ended up with 70 wings at their table.” Stop laughing. I mean, have you not learned that we like food yet? Especially when Hungry Shane is out with us, and there’s a hella long wait for food. Now granted we were prepared for the wait – both in the comments from Greg on this blog, and also in the signage on the table (the same place that warned us of banishment if we took said wings home). So Shane’s first wings hadn’t even arrived yet, and he already decided we (ahem, HE) should order 20 more.

Keep in mind he had ordered 20 the first time. And I got 10. And Ted got 20. So, yeah, it’s logical that we needed 20 more. Right.

Oh yeah, and a basket of fries and an order of pepper jack bites. Because, more food. Jesus. I think I gained 10 pounds just typing all that out again. We seriously are tempting the fates of the cholesterol gods every single time we go out on a Wednesday night.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Fried food. Because the wings weren’t enough.

So here’s what we got: Shane’s original wing order was 10 salt & vinegar, and 10 dry rub ranch; my 10 were the chipotle chili pepper; and Ted’s were 10 mango habenero and 10 spicy garlic. And then the additional 20 were 10 Jamaican Jerk and 10 sweet red chili.

Got all that?

At least the two apps – fries and cheese bites – came out way before any of the wings. Which pacified Hungry Shane for a bit. But, I mean, not enough that he didn’t still go order the extra 20 wings after that food was gone and he continued to wait for his original order.

At least he tried to rationalize it with “what’s the worst that happens? We only eat 4 wings out of the 20? And we’re out what, $1.60?”

Well, when you put it that way … I mean, we’ll just try not to think of the starving children in Africa as we toss baskets of perfectly good wings into the trash and all. No biggie.

As far as the apps go, the cheese bites were good, but I thought the fries could’ve used some salt. And before anyone gets lippy on me – yes, I looked on the table. And no there was none available.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Also known as: the only thing that kept Shane from starving to death

Now if I’d have held out – or, rather, wrestled some of the fries away from Hungry Shane’s grip and saved them for about another hour – I could’ve found some salt when Shane’s wings finally arrived at the table. We were all slightly surprised to discover that the salt & vinegar wings were apparently “some assembly requried” – as they arrived with about 30 packets of salt, and a little plastic cup of vinegar. Which is odd enough in itself, but even more so when we re-consulted the menu and found those wing were supposed to be a dry rub. Hmm.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Salt & Vinegar wings

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Wing chef Shane in action

Ironically, though, those wings turned out to be one of the best we ordered, at least from the first batch of 50 that hit our table. The other winners were Ted’s mango habenero, which turned out to me more sweet than hot. If you order that same flavor in other places like BW3 or Quaker Steak, you can’t feel your mouth after a few. At least that’s what I’ve been told – because I’ve never had one at one of those joints. Call me crazy, but I don’t care for the feeling of sweating just from ingesting seasoning. But I tried a few of Ted’s, and could eat them easily – so you know there wasn’t much heat to them at all. Not that that’s a bad thing – just different from other places, and something to keep in mind when ordering.

That being said, my original 10 wings (chipotle) were probably the spiciest of the bunch, but the odd thing was that you didn’t necessarily taste the heat as you were eating them. They kind of tasted burnt. But then afterwards your mouth kinda warmed up. It’s like starting out with a little campfire, which you can manage, and then suddenly some a-hole walks past and pours a gallon of gasoline over top of it. And then, poof, it’s a forest fire.

As far as the other flavors, Ted said the spicy garlic weren’t really spicy, just garlicky. But he still liked them. And Shane’s dry rub ranch was not a big hit.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Wonder what kind those are?

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Dry ranch wings. Or just dry wings. Whatevs

Ironically the last two batches we ordered were perhaps the biggest winners of the night, at least to Ted and I. They had just the right amount of heat, and great flavor. Ted ranked all the wings he tried as Jamaican jerk first, then garlic, then mango and then the sweet chili. I liked the sweet hot chili best, then the mango and then the jerk.

Shane still claimed that he liked the salt & vinegar best … but who knows if he’ll put them together the same way next time? It will be a gamble.

We all agreed that while some of the flavors were good, none of them really had any heat. Ted said the next time he would just ask for the spiciest ones on the menu and then tell them to make them twice as hot.

As far as the award for “majority of wings that could’ve been sent to African children but instead ended up in the trash” – well, that went to the chipotle. I stopped eating them when I realized we had 20 more wings coming, and since I wasn’t really crazy about these ones then I might as well save my appetite for ones that I might like better. Sometimes I’m a smart cookie like that.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Sorry chipotle wings – you were not our winner tonight

But even so, we were too full to finish them all. Shane commented that Wednesdays are the time to come try all the different flavors – because, really, for 10 cents each it does offer a good chance to experiment, if you can stand the wait. Although then he said that once he found the ones he really liked his plan would be to just order “like, a million of those” – and hence really make the special go further. He’s economical like that, that one.

Which is what makes The Big Dog still one of our favorite WTGW picks. Aside from the gorgeous, spacious patio area – you never leave this place hungry. In fact, I think Shane was about to explode by the time the final 20 wings arrived, and then even more so after he attempted to eat a few of each of them. And the bills were insanely cheap. Ted paid $12 for 20 wings and two draft IPAs. Shane and I had 50 wings, six tall cans of Summer Shandy, and two apps – and our bill was $36.

$36.

For real? I mean, that’s like the cost of one entree and a drink at our last week’s pick.

And that’s why we definitely still wish we lived closer (or they would open another location closer to us, hint hint) so we could come more often. I mean, although this blog may just end up being called “What Wings Did We Order Wednesdays” because I have a feeling we would give up on other places and just end up visiting here about every Wednesday. But we definitely would like to try visiting on another evening, too, since we noticed they have great specials on about every night of the week – $3 half pound burgers on Fridays, $2.50 for three sliders on Tuesdays, $4 Philly cheesesteaks on Saturdays, etc. How can you go wrong? Well, I mean, other than maybe gaining about 50 pounds and perhaps clogging a few arteries … but when has that ever stopped us before. Technicalities.

Are we glad we revisited? Of course (although Shane’s stomach may have not shared that opinion with us the next morning – but that’s his fault, not the establishment’s. Ha)

And will we return again? A resounding yes.

Original visit: 9/3/14

Big Dog Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 9/3/14: The Big Dog, Ravenna

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Alternate title: The time we went out for WTGW and the bill for two people was less than $30. And that includes alcohol. And tip. Say what?!?

I have to admit, we’ve been waiting all summer for the perfect WTGW to get to The Big Dog. Two reasons: Wednesdays are 10 cent wing nights. Yes you read that correctly. And rumor was they had an amazing re-landscaped patio.

I’m happy to report those statements were 100% accurate.

Although, OK, I’ll admit it, we were a little scared driving up to the place – it’s kind of off the beaten path, and the buildings appear to be an old feed mill or collection of some sort of buildings re-purposed into the bar/restaurant. We parked across the street, by the scary-looking condemned conveyor … because, you know, why point out that there’s actually a closer (and less creepy) parking option behind the bar? But then again, had we parked there we would’ve missed the ambiance of the signs advertising Truck Night (complete with prizes for best chrome and highest lift!) as well as a nearby dumpster overflowing with used mattresses.

I think it was at about this point in the evening that Amanda and I wagered a guess that we would be the only girls in the place wearing heels.

So we walk in … and the inside of the bar kind of looked how we expected it to, given what we’d already seen. Kind of dark, large pool table in the middle of the room, stage off to one side. You know, typical biker/college/small town townie bar.

And then we walked out the door to the patio, and were greeted with this:

 

Seriously, where are we?

Seriously, where are we?

Again, say what?!?

It was like we entered some sort of drinker’s oasis or parallel universe. Huge brick patio, complete with landscaping, waterfalls, corn hole boards, a stage for a band, and an outdoor building re-purposed into a bar. Welcome to Ravenna’s version of East Eden, my friends.

Trying to discreetly photograph the other side of the patio

Trying to discreetly photograph the other side of the patio

I’m sure we stood out a bit as we entered this magical portal to drinker’s paradise, since we weren’t real sure on the protocol as far as seating and ordering. We kind of lingered next to the outdoor bar, and finally the bartender took pity on us and let us know we could seat ourselves and just come back up to order there.  We ordered the first round of drinks (bottled Miller Lites) and she gave us a menu – which, I later realized is also conveniently printed on the side of the building. Guess that’s the “large print version.”

Now, I could be mistaken, but it seems like really all they serve is wings and assorted fried foods. I’ve never seen the word fried so many times on one menu.

This place clearly has your health as a #1 priority.

This place clearly has your health as a #1 priority.

We weren’t really sure what to expect with 10 cent wings – but I’m pleased to report we were pleasantly surprised. The wings are actually good sized, and the list of sauces was somewhat impressive given the price. Little tip: you have to order the wings in increments of 10, and for every 10 wings you also have to order one beer. Um, yeah, OK, twist our arms. That’s the kind of math I actually like.

 

Ted chugs a Miller Lite. And his face pretty much sums up how he feels about it.

Ted chugs a Miller Lite. And his face pretty much sums up how he feels about it.

For the wing flavors, Amanda had 10 of the spicy ranch, as did Shane. Shane also had 10 of the regular ranch – but the spicy ranch were the clear winners there.  I’m honestly not sure why he even got the plain ranch – since he’s always all “I’ll-get-ranch-but-only-if-its-not-the-actual-ranch-dressing-and-more-like-the-packet-of-seasoning-because-I-like-that-better” picky about his flavors. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he still ate all 20. Because we don’t send wings to starving children in Africa.

 

Tale of two ranches

Tale of two ranches

Ted tried the garlic and the extra hot – because apparently he likes to visit both ends of the spectrum. The extra hot indeed lived up to their name and were just that … and not just in contrast to the blandness of the plain garlic. One for one, I guess. Although Ted disappointed us by not finishing all 20 of his wings. Blame it on the Miller Lite.

I ordered spicy garlic parmesan. But I have to believe the bartender stopped listening before I was done with my order, because I swear the wings I got were just spicy garlic, no parmesan. Not only did I not actually see the parmesan on the wings, but they didn’t have a lot of flavor. Maybe my taste buds are just overconditioned from the past year of bar food and wings, but even the “spicy” wasn’t all that spicy. They just didn’t seem to have a lot of flavor, especially after I traded with Shane to try the spicy ranch. And as much as I tried to trade his basket for mine, he wasn’t having it. He’s a lot smarter than he looks sometimes.

 

Spicy garlic parmesean, minus the parmesean

Spicy garlic parmesan, minus the parmesan

Rounding out the cholesterol fest at our table, we also ordered the fried cauliflower and a basket of fair fries. Because who needs clear arteries, right? Amanda actually tried to order the fried macaroni bites and were told they don’t make them anymore. Same with the loaded baked potato bites. Because printing and laminating new one page menus is clearly too expensive. I mean, have you seen the new patio?

Fried cauliflower still counts as a vegetable, right?

Fried cauliflower still counts as a vegetable, right?

I like that they were courteous enough to include a plastic fork with the fries

I like that they were courteous enough to include a plastic fork with the fries

Overall The Big Dog is a good pick, and I could see us going back. It would be fun to see a band there … but only if they’re outside on the patio, since honestly the inside of the place kind of scared all of us. The only downfall was that there are no lights on the patio, so once it got dark they closed the outside bar – meaning you’d have to go inside to get a drink. See my previous statement to know how we felt about that.

This was really the only light on the patio after the sun went down.

This was really the only light on the patio after the sun went down.

Actually, if it wasn’t about a 35 minute drive away I could pretty definitely see us becoming regulars for the 10 cent wing nights. Although I guess that would mean we’d have to stop finding new places to go on Wednesdays, and then in effect change this entire blog  … so I guess the universe is doing us a favor by keeping things the way they are. Thanks?

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Basic dive bar fare – bottled domestics and Bud Light on draft. Our resident “up for trying anything” craft beer guy (Ted) had to settle for Guiness in a can, if that tells you anything.
Food:
I seriously don’t know if they serve any other food than wings and assorted fried stuff. Regardless, this is a bar food type of place, so if you want a salad you’re definitely out of luck.
Service: The place is pretty much get-it-yourself as far as drinks go, but the bartender was pleasant and helpful without making us feel stupid for being virgins to the place.
Overall: 10 cent wings on Wednesdays and a great patio. That’s really all you need to know.

Next Pick: Ted

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