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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what do I know.

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

Anyway.

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

Ted will dream of this plate for another three years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s the bun?

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously?

Next pick: Cassi

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph

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WTGW Special Event – Second Annual Scrumptuous Showdown, Aurora 6/2/18

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Folks, if you ever wonder to yourselves why we keep up this little food blog – I mean, other than to remind ourselves of the various mistakes we’ve made in our picks over the past 4+ years and all of the reasons why we should all truly be dead of heart attacks by this point – let this annual post serve as a reminder of the true reasoning behind our actions.

Food. Truck. Judging.

For the second consecutive year we were honored to be invited to serve as judges for the annual Scrumptious Showdown at Aurora Farms Outlet, a free event that offers a space for various local food trucks to open and sell food to patrons for few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Several awards are given out at the conclusion of the event (that’s where we come in), including a fan favorite voted on by the public (the one category we are not invited to judge). This is the event’s third year, and our second year serving as judges.

Celebrity status: activated.

Back off, commoners

The weather for this year’s event was cool and overcast, which was much more conducive to spending a few hours standing on blacktop stuffing ourselves silly than last year’s blazing hot sun and high 80 degree temperatures. I think we’re still trying to blame last year’s water intake for our stuffed-as-a-sausage feeling by the end of the day – even though in reality we know it was really our inexperience with the “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” philosophy that should accompany any event asking you to sample more than 20 foods in one short time span.

I know, it sounds great until the first time you do it. Trust me on this one.

Once again we were separated into two judging groups, with Shane, Ted and I serving as one team. Because we were return judges and hadn’t had the opportunity to eat our way through the “meat” category last year, the event organizers this year gave us that one to start with. We had six entries to judge in that group (while the other group of three judges worked their way through all of the “non-meat” sandwiches). Then the six of us judges combined forces to judge wraps (four entries) and desserts (four entries).

Just in case you don’t feel like using your math skills, that equals 14 samples in the course of about 90 minutes.

Hungry yet?

Now, if you’re like we were last year, you’re probably foolishly thinking that doesn’t sound like much. Don’t let the term “samples” throw you off. Several of these places are known to give out entire sandwiches, thus leaving it up to us to use the word “sample” as a verb of our own accord.

Can we just talk for a minute about how food you have to eat standing up could maybe be a little less messy?

Let’s just say we definitely learned last year to take the organizers up on their generous offering of to-go boxes.

So in this year’s meat category we tried a BBQ chicken sandwich from Jackpot Chicken, a “Judas beef” sandwich from Smokin’ Rock ‘n’ Roll, a sloppy joe from Hatfield’s, all-American burgers from Robesto’s, and a hot honey pepperoni pizza from DiLauro’s Pizzeria.

Our favorite – and winner of the category – was the Judas Beef. It was very tasty, the meat was smoked just to perfection and pretty much melted in your mouth.

Although we have to give props to Robesto’s for the presentation involved with their burgers. Mini root beer floats? Please.

This looks like something I would pin on Instagram under a ridiculously titled and never used board like “picnic goals.”

And special mention also goes out to DiLauro’s, for the amazingness that was their wood fired oven in a trailer. Let me say that again, in case you missed it: a full fledged wood fired pizza oven in the confines of trailer that gets hitched to the back of a truck. The entire group of judges made a pilgrimage to their truck to learn more about this engineering marvel that cooks a personal sized pizza in 90 seconds at 1000 degrees. Apparently it takes three hours to heat up, and then 4-5 DAYS to cool down. That’s right, while you’re at work for an entire week, this trailer is just literally chilling out, waiting to get back to normal temperature. But it’s fully insulated, so after the event they could just close up the sides and drive off. Like, oh here, let me just close up my giant oven and take it back to grandma’s house to park. Cool.

Engineers are smart people.

Pizza truck genius

I mean, come on. It’s a giant oven on wheels. How is that not amazing?

In the wraps category, we sampled a chorizo meatloaf wrap from Wrap It Up, chorizo balls with goat cheese from The Funky Truckeria and a gyro from Gyro George.

While I could appreciate the goal of putting together something different with the meatloaf wrap, honestly there was just way too much going on in that one. Tater tots, corn, sausage = overload. Like, hey, let’s put an entire meal into one flour tortilla and save ourselves the steps of having to actually take out a fork and eat it separately. Ted liked it, but probably more so because his other options were a basic gyro (that Shane was a bit salty this year skimped out on the entire meal of fries and baklava) and something filled with cheese.

Newsflash: the cheese item won. Because the rest of the group can appreciate a tasty cheese-filled item wrapped up and deep fried. Sorry, Ted.

On to dessert, where we were given fried naan from Chopati (who had already won over the non-meat group with their Indian sampling earlier), banana pudding from Hatfield’s, chocolate covered strawberry frozen yogurt from The Little Penguin, and strawberry custard from Stoddard’s.

Side note: can we only judge this category next year? Or at least do it first? Because it’s a little unfair to give us things like ice cream that are impossible to box up and save for later AFTER we’re already full from sampling the rest of the categories. Just sayin.

The Little Penguin truck was definitely the most original of the bunch, since it was essentially a mobilized soft serve frozen yogurt shop. Instead of paying by weight you just pay by container size, then step up to the side of the truck and fill the container yourself from the soft serve taps, then add a variety of toppings.

Where was this place when Ted and Shane had the famous 8 lb sundaes? Because it seems this route might’ve saved us some money.

The group was divided on the winner of the dessert category. It really came down to a toss up in the first two desserts (the naan and the banana pudding), since they were both delicious. Commence internal struggle. I think my pen hovered over the scorecard for what seemed like eternity as I tried to decide which to score higher.

By vote of whole group the naan took it.

Fried dough will always be a winner in my book

But we will surely see you in our dreams, banana pudding. Until we meet again.

I felt slightly less upset about the great banana pudding upset when Hatfield’s took home the fan favorite award, though. At least they got some recognition for their deliciousness.

So another fun year under our belts, and as always we are grateful to the presenters of the event for inviting us back and trusting our love of food as the basis of prestigious awards. Be sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, June 1, 2019, to come check out the fourth annual Scrumptious Showdown at Aurora Farms Outlets along with us. And definitely say hello if you see us there.

Do we look stuffed? Because we are.

In the meantime, if you see us out and about with giant tables of food in front of us, let;s just all agree that we’ll be considering it “training.”  Stop laughing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ouch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The use of multiplication tables was involved in this order

Tiny sandwiches

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

Points for presentation

And we got nachos for an app.

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

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

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

You’re not seeing double

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

Cassi and Jason got pretzel bites as app.

Carb overload

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

Hopefully its a good idea to trust the server

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

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

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

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

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

We waited all that time for this?

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

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

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

Picked by: Steph
Originally picked by: Ted

Steph

Cassi

Jason

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

Shane, before the bill arrived

Shane, after seeing that empty glass cost him $9

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I still argue that fried vegetables are still vegetables

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

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

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

Picked from the non-spicy side of the garden

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

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

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

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

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

Take two

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

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

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

An unusual sight at our table

So green and non-fried

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

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

That one chop looks so lonely

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

Picked by: Cassi

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi

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

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

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

Try it the next time you see us.

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

So there’s that.

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

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

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

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

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

Why is the hummus hiding behind salsa?

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

Maybe someone just rubbed an air freshener over it

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

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

There are chips under there, we swear

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

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

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

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

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

Clearly he hated it.

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

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

Shane: Something wrong with your beer there, buddy?

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

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

It’s like we hardly know this new person.

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

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

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

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

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

It actually looks bigger in person

They picked those banana peppers off the spicy tree for sure

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

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

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

Cassi

Steph

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

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

 

WTGW 3/28/18: Paramount Pub, Akron

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At least we think that’s the name of this place. See if you can follow along in this fantastic lesson in what-not-to-do-in-marketing … the website says the name is The Paramount, but the directions led us to a place with a sign out front that reads The Hyde Out. OK. But the location is actually the old Grille on Waterloo that we went to about four years ago. Also if you look closely at the web page address for The Paramount, thegrilleonwaterloo.com is still the domain.

Confused yet? We sure are.

… at the place where nobody knows your name … or really even what the name of the place is …

Which is why, from here on out, I’m going to give this place a new name: The Identity Crisis Café. As you read on I’m fairly confident that name will be one of the few things that makes a clear amount of practical sense with regards to this place.

Let’s start with the menu – which I should point out says Hyde Out on the front cover, so I’m starting to catch on to the name they seem to think they want to use here. Too bad they’re going to have to change it after this review. Anyway, it starts out with a few pages of sports bar-esque American food (burgers, wings, salads, sandwiches, fried apps) followed by several pages of Asian dishes (sushi, hibachi, bento boxes, fried rice).

Um, what now?

Because those are two types of food I would probably never think to prominently feature together. I have to believe they’ve cornered the market on this specialty.

Cassi: I don’t know what to do – I mean, there are pickle chips and Crab Rangoon offered in the same place? Where are we? Why can I order both?

Also – why is every instance of the word “crab” spelled with a K in this menu?

Spelling 101

So. Many. Questions. And we haven’t even ordered yet.

As we were perusing the menu we started to tune into the background music of the place – which really should just be referred to as “music” because we were practically shouting at one another over it. It was like being in the back of a club during a concert … except there’s no band I can think of that plays a primary music catalog containing lots of 70s rock songs that go on for like 10 minutes of heavy guitar solos, then busts out an occasional Sublime hit from the 90s, followed by “Hey Jude” by the Beatles or John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

It’s like what if my dad, my grandma and 1990s college-aged, flannel-wearing me all took a road trip together and fought over the radio stations. Good times.

Hey, remember Cassi’s comment about the apps? Yeah, so, turns out we didn’t have to decide between pickle chips and crab (sorry, Krab) rangoon, because that’s exactly what we ended up with. Shane opted for bar food, while Cassi ventured into the Asian appetizer menu.

The pickle chips were OK. I mean, let’s face it, we’re ruined now after 3 Brothers. I don’t know why we even order them other places anymore since we already know it won’t live up to that standard.

Sorry, we’ve already judged you

Cassi wasn’t really a fan of the C(K)rab Rangoon, saying that she thought it was too sweet. Shane and I each tried one and thought they were OK  And then relived Shane’s last experience with something he tasted that he thought was going to be sweet.

Ah, Gus’ Chalet, you live on in infamy.

They look pretty

Most of us went with the Asian menu for our dinners – I think just because we were tired of bar food and enjoyed the change-up this week. It certainly wasn’t because we particularly trusted the freshness of any of the ingredients at this place. No raw fish for anyone at this table, thanks. We enjoy keeping our food inside our bodies as it digests. Crazy, I know.

As evidenced when Cassi ordered the Angel Hair Roll, and the server tried to talk her into the Angry Birds Roll instead because he thought it was better. One look at the ingredients – which included something raw, of course – and she was like no way, I’m sticking to my original order.

Plus who orders something named after an iPhone fad game from like six years ago? That just sounds sketch.

That’s some mad skills on the dragon, though

Shane got the General Tsos Chicken Bento Box and a side order of one Philadelphia Roll. Once again proving that even though it’s a different nationality of food, you still need more than one main dish on the table.

Shane’s first round of food

That plate is meant for those of us who don’t like their food to touch

Shane said his drawing made him think of Taco Bell. Because that’s what you want at a sushi bar.

And large dishes at that, as Shane was quite uncomfortable trying to find a place to rest his arm once all of his plates arrived on the table.

He looks so … natural

Because we all like to dangle our fork from windowsills during meals, no?

I really shouldn’t be throwing stones, though, since I ordered an Alaska Roll, a Spicy Tuna Roll and a small house salad. But while that sounds like a lot of food, at least two of those things arrived on the same plate. And I have to think that this actually may be the healthiest WTGW ever in my book. I mean, vegetables that aren’t fried? WTF. Another week like this and I might get kicked out of the group.

I think there’s a salad under all that cheese

That tree would be prettier without the iPhone shadow across it

Not one to play favorites, Ted got a Crazy Roll … and an American hamburger, no cheese. You know, because he could. He said he felt the need to make sure both menus were represented equally.

One of these things is not like the other

I think the whole “identity crisis” theme must’ve rubbed off on Shane a little bit, as evidenced by the fact that he actually … wait for it … willingly offered some of his food to me.

*gasp*

Right?!?

Now granted it was so I could taste his spring roll (that he didn’t realize came with his meal – along with that round one soup and salad) so I could make sure it didn’t have shrimp in it that might kill him, thanks to his allergy. (spoiler alert, it didn’t) But still. I think we’re all still picking ourselves up off the floor a bit from that shocker.

Speaking of shockers, Shane reported that his General Tso’s chicken – that he specifically asked the server if they could make “extra spicy” – was … drumroll, please … really spicy. Like he was struggling really spicy.

Be careful what you wish for at The Identity Crisis Cafe, folks.

Meanwhile, on the American menu side of the table, Ted had a struggle of his own going on, which involved ways to choke down an extremely dry burger. Like dip it in your water to make the patty edible kind of dry burger. Which let me be clear he didn’t actually do, but in hindsight it may have helped things a bit. When we suggested that that’s what the cheese is usually for on burgers, he said that he might be willing to try that if he thought it would help things at all, but he was pretty sure there was no saving this one.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s a bit odd that the burger was so overcooked and not moist, when it was one of the first meals to arrive at our table. Rather than bringing things out all at once, this place seems to subscribe to the Table 6 philosophy of just bringing plates out as they’re ready … except they’re like that friend everyone has who is like four subjects behind in a group conversation and never seems to know how to keep up so they just jump in whenever they think of something. The food was dropped off at odd intervals, with the burger arriving as one of the first actual meals, and the sushi as last. Which seems strange considering that’s supposed to be the most fresh, not cooked portion of our orders, but whatever.

We all pretty much thought the sushi was just OK. I mean, it was edible, but nothing you can’t find anywhere else. Ted liked his a little more than any of us … but, I mean, when you consider the other part of his meal was a sawdust patty on bread, you kind of figure that’s a no brainer.

We also had an enlightening discussion about the orange crunchy topping on some of the sushi, which involved more than one of us checking Google for an answer, and Shane declaring that he always figured it was crushed up Doritos.

Me: Because nothing says Asian food like crushed up Doritos

But with this place, who knows.

Orange toppings make Shane think of snack foods

Another fun discussion involved trying to size up the crowd, and how or why each of them found their way to this bar on a random Wednesday night. A couple wandered in at one point that seemed like they might have been on a date … except she was wearing lounge pants and actual slippers. Because nothing screams “I really just wanted to order in and I’m not happy about this whole going out in public thing” like wearing your pajamas to a restaurant. And then over closer to the bar there was a group of obvious bros all crowded around a table taking shots and watching basketball. Which begs the question … is there no BW3 within a 20 mile radius of this place? Do they all live upstairs and just migrate down for the alcohol? I mean, granted, nothing says let’s go get lit and watch some Final Four action like heading to the sushi bar in a somewhat sketch neighborhood … no?

At least no one could see us watching them, as we picked an unfortunate table next to the windows that seemed OK when we first arrived, but then was cloaked in darkness after the sun slipped behind the horizon. Which, because it’s still winter here in Ohio, happens at like 3PM these days. See also: the color difference in the pictures of our appetizers versus the color of our meals. Sorry, kids. It should also be pointed out that there were canister lights above our heads … that were missing the bulbs. Guess we know now what had to get cut from the budget in order to add that whole Asian side to the menu.

 

Picked by: Ted

Steph

Shane

Dual menu, dual rating. Thumbs up for sushi, thumbs not-so-up for the burger

Cassi

 

WTGW 2/28/18: River City Grille, Cuyahoga Falls – REVISIT

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With Cassi in Texas for a conference this week we decided it was a good time for a revisit to someplace we haven’t been for some time. Which is how we ended up back at River City Grille. I honestly think this place was one of Ted’s first official WTGW outings with us. So that had to of been at least, like, 4 years ago now? Maybe longer?

Well, because that was pre-blog, there’s no real way to fact-check, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Let’s just say that it’s been long enough that we completely forgot how small the menu is. I mean, it’s your typical small bar food menu – burgers, wings, a few sandwich/wrap options, random fried apps … but that’s it. Not a lot of creativity or things that don’t involve cooking via a fryer or grill top. Which as you all know doesn’t really bother us – except that in this case we seemed to remember the menu being a bit more extensive at one time. Shane seemed to remember getting ribs, and that maybe Ted had a pork chop? But maybe it was just a random weekly special. Or we could totally be thinking of someplace else – because, you know, it’s not like we see the insides of a lot of places that seem eerily similar in a lot of ways or anything

Or, you know, maybe after four years things change. I guess that’s allowed.

Also, Ted and I were quick to point out that at least the menu wasn’t “we only serve two things here so I hope you like one of them” small. Because not many places can have that honorable distinction. Thankfully.

Anyway.

Because we gravitate to all things fried, even if they are vegetables, Shane and I ordered the fried veggie sampler as an app. He tried to say that was my idea, but I also know he’s the one who makes a beeline for that particular food stand at any county fair or festival that we go to.

Always eat your vegetables. Especially if they’re fried.

Of course they arrive at our table straight from the furnace of hell … and of course we still reached into the basket two seconds later and tried to eat them straight away. Remember the old thing about making kids learn about the stove being hot by letting them go ahead and touch it, because “they’ll only do THAT once”? Yeah, clearly we skipped that day of life lesson training.

Ted just laughed at us. Some days I think he’s the brains of this operation.

I thought they were pretty good – even going so far as to state that they were county fair quality. Shane quickly disagreed. Because obviously he’s the expert there.

Wednesdays are 50 cent wing nights, so of course Ted and Shane both jumped on that special. Because who are they to let a good wing night pass them by, especially when who knows how long it will be before we see another one?

A quick search of “wings” under the “stuff we’ve tried” tab on this blog will probably totally bring out the sarcasm in that last sentence quicker than any further explaining I might be able to type here. Just FYI.

Anyway, Ted ended up with 12 of the hot garlic wings, while Shane ordered 12 of the Cajun.

Vampires beware

The wings were big, especially for being on special. Bonus that they were also tasty. Because that’s helpful. And don’t forget being edible – because, after last week and Ted’s epic four hour chewing exercise, that’s apparently a new category by which we need to be giving judgement.

Edible wings

The guys also got burgers. Because, well, them. Come on, don’t act surprised.

Ted asked what the “Fuzzbuster” burger was. At least I think that’s the name of it. I should really start paying better attention. Anyway … whatever the name was, the server said it’s basically their version of the Big Mac. OK. So that means it’s a burger, with special sauce and an extra piece of a bun in the middle? Sure.

Low and behold, it arrives and we’ll all be damned if it doesn’t look just like a Big Mac. Only like the promotional pictures of a Big Mac and not what you actually get when you order one. Or at least one without any cheese on it. So there’s that.

Look at how the burger just slides off the bun without any cheese

Ted said basically if you don’t like pickles you shouldn’t get this burger. Or grease. Because that’s about all it consists of. I mean, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Unless you don’t like those flavors.

I feel like this is a circular conversation.

Shane got the River City burger. Which I think is their fancy way of saying “here’s a cheeseburger with some pickles on it.” Or, here’s the fancy burger Ted ordered but without the extra piece of bread in the middle. But whatever, to each his own I guess.

Dripping with melted cheese

I got the mushroom Swiss burger, and a side of waffle fries with cheese sauce. It’s like the most unhealthy things on the menu just jump in front of me.

Bun close up

We all liked the burgers. They were definitely fresh made, big for the price ($6-$7 a burger) and had good flavor for them. The waffle fries were enough to share with the whole table, and maybe the table next to us. Clearly I couldn’t eat all of those myself. But they were good, so I gave it a valiant effort.

More fried vegetables. And cheese. Really the only food groups one needs, am I right?

All in all River City isn’t a bad place. My indifference in the vote was with the small menu – but now that I remember the burgers are super good I’ll at least know to stick to that option when ordering and not flip the menu back to front 8 billion times in the universal sign of “I can’t figure out what I want even though there are only like 10 things to choose from” like we all did tonight. Ted liked the wings and also was also surprisingly happy with the dark beer selection, which he thought had grown since the last time we’d been there. The place was fairly busy for a Wednesday night, with a lot of the clientele seemingly regulars. I’m not sure that we’ll ever achieve that status there – I mean, I guess we’d have to come back more than once every four years, right? – but I could see us coming back when we’re in a pinch for a relatively close place to get a good burger.

Ted

Shane

Steph

 
River City Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato