WTGW 9/27/16: The Basement, Sagamore Hills

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Once upon a time (like last summer), in a land far, far away (OK, not really) Ted pulled up lame for his turn to pick, and chose the newly opened Fairlawn location of Ray’s Place, when we had just visited the Kent location like a year and a half earlier.

And of course was teased, mercilessly and mostly by Shane, for his complete lack of originality.

I mean, not as much he’s been teased for his notorious Gus’s pick – I doubt anything can truly top that beating – but still.

Anyway, fast forward to now … and note the irony of Shane choosing the Sagamore Hills location of The Basement, a place we last visited a different location of … oh wait, what’s this? … yep, about a year and a half earlier.

Hi, Pot? Meet my friend Kettle. I think you might have some things to say to one another.

So, the last time we went to The Basement, it had been Amanda’s pick, and we visited the Waterloo location in Akron. I remember we all liked the place, and in true us fashion we all vowed we would go back soon … but then promptly forgot all about the place every time one of us asked another where we should go to eat.

Story of our lives, people. For reals.

Although, truth be told, as I think back on it now really the only things I can recall about that particular pick were that 1) it was really dark inside the place with total Dance Party USA lighting going on at 7pm on a Wednesday, and 2) they had funnel cake fries.

Oooh, funnel cake fries. Hmm, maybe we can forgive this pick after all.

We’ll get back to that in a minute.

So the first thing I noticed at the Sagamore Hills location is that it’s missing the neon swirly lights and cavernous darkness of the Waterloo location. It’s still kind of dark – but hey, it’s a sports bar so really you’ll have that. We don’t need gymnasium lighting at a place that serves drinks until 2am. Seriously.

Ted, Shane and I got there after Jerrid and Amanda (no surprise), which meant we had some catching up to do in the drinking department. Especially when Jerrid had been drinking Jack & Cokes prior to our arrival. But at least that translated to him being on good terms with the bartender by that point, so there’s that.

We also had the luck of sitting at the cool round table attached to the end of the bar. I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else but I have to admit it’s brilliant. It’s like if the bar had an open air gazebo built on the end of it. Or like the bar and a high top table had a baby. Or like someone just took a round high top table and glued it to the corner of the bar. Or like …. yeah, I’m out of comparisons. Just know that it was cool, and really pretty much a creation I’m surprised one of us hasn’t proposed anywhere else yet. We’re clearly slackers.

The special was buckets of five domestic bottles for $8, so that of course got mine and Shane’s attention. We should mention that this was also Shane’s first time drinking beer since his return from Vegas last week (see also, why we didn’t go anyplace new last week), where his body apparently hit the “full” meter on acceptance of malt beverages.

Glad to see that finally reversed itself. We were worried.

Ted got the Lagerheads Octoberfest on draft. Ah, Lagerheads. I miss that place. I think we all miss that place. Well, except Shane, who curses that place like the devil after something he ate there didn’t play nice with his stomach on our second visit back. Needless to say, we haven’t been able to return since it rendered him completely incapacitated for Thanksgiving 2015.

Anyway.

We took forever to place our orders because – as usual – everything on the menu looked freaking amazing. Cue Amanda’s “I’m so hungry, I’m eating everything” line.

Ted decided on the mini corn dogs for an app. Because who doesn’t love bite sized fair food? IT’s brilliant, really. Although when he ordered, the server corrected him that the real name of the food is “Mini Ha Has.” Um, OK. WTF does that even mean? Why are corn dogs funny? Why not just name them what they are instead of trying to be cute?

Who doesn't love fair food?

Who doesn’t love fair food?

Whatever, they were good, that’s all we need to know.

I got the fried mushrooms for an app. Because someone else had to represent with the fried food. I mean, come on. What’s happened to us and our old tableful of fried appetizers? For shame.

It's not a WTGW without deep fried stuff

It’s not a WTGW without deep fried stuff

For dinner Ted got the Twice Baked Hot Hand Kaluger Wings. Try saying that five times fast. Again – can we stop with the complicated names here? In any case, while I’m still not really sure what all of that means,Ted was happy to have ordered them, and said they were delicious.

But what does the twice baked really do?

They look like regular wings, no?

I guess the whole “twice baked” thing is some special way of cooking the wings (I’m gonna bet they put them in the fryer again once the sauce is on them, but that’s just me trying to be logical) – but whatever it is I guess it’s worth the wait and the extra charge for doing so. So, score.

I built my own flatbread (ambitious, I know) with pepperoni, mushrooms, banana peppers and cheese. It was good, but a touch too crispy for my liking. I prefer a little more doughy. But that’s just me.

A lovely pizza all for me

A lovely pizza all for me

Shane got the “Vito Corleone” pizza – which, in keeping with the themes of complicated names, really translates to “pizza with a lot of crap on it.” Seriously. Like four kinds of meat, some banana peppers, olives, onions … I think there was some dough and sauce involved, too, but I honestly couldn’t see it underneath all the other stuff.

There's a lot of meat going on there

There’s a lot of meat going on there

He also got six of the Sweet Heat Boneless wings – because, you know, we strive for ordering enough food to feed not only our group but also the immediate tables around us. (Case in point, the server actually started to walk away before Amanda put her order in – I guess he assumed we’d pretty much over-ordered already, even though there was still one person who hadn’t spoken yet). In any case, Shane had gotten those same flavor of wings the last time we went to The Basement, and remembered he liked them a lot. But alas, he was not so much a fan this time around. Maybe it’s because the last time he got the regular and not boneless … but this time he said they just didn’t have much flavor.

Dry rub + boneless = pass

Dry rub + boneless = pass

But he did eat them all – because, I mean, really, we don’t waste food here. But he did end up taking half the pizza home. So that makes two weeks in a row with doggie bags. Who is this person?

Jerrid got the Kaluger Chicken Flatbread Pizza and the Parm Ranch wings. He was a big fan of the Kaluger sauce on the pizza, as well as the wings. Although he also joined the “eyes bigger than stomach” club for the evening, throwing the last few pieces of his flatbread into Shane’s take home box.

Wait, is that melted cheese? I'm confused

Wait, is that melted cheese? I’m confused

Props for the presentation

Props for the presentation

Amanda got the Meatball Philly. It was good, but huge. Also, in looking back to the last time we visited, it appears that was the same thing Ted ordered that time around … only the photos look quite a bit different. Ironically his main gripe then was that the sandwich had too much cheese – which, I mean, this is Ted, so really ANY cheese is too much cheese – but looking at Amanda’s it doesn’t seem like they piled it on like they did with Ted’s … or really at all. Hmmm.

Meatball sub, circa 2015 and another location

Meatball sub, circa 2015 and another location

Meatball sub, a year and a half - and much less cheese - later

Meatball sub, a year and a half – and much less cheese – later

Maybe they read this blog and heeded Ted’s complaint? Interesting. I mean, of all the things we’ve complained about over the years, THAT’S the one thing that someone changed? NEVER TAKE AWAY CHEESE. Seriously people. That’s like rule #1 of life in general.

So remember how I mentioned the funnel cake fries being one of the main things we raved about from our last visit, and how much we were all looking forward to them this time around? Yeah, we never got around to ordering them.

I KNOW, RIGHT!?!?!

WTF is wrong with us? I mean, that was half the reason Shane put himself in the line of fire and chose a repeat place.

We’re seriously slipping.

So I guess just based on that alone, we have to put this place on the revisit list, right? I mean, it’s only fair.

But even funnel cake fries aside, The Basement is still a great sports bar, and I for one liked this location much better than the other one we visited. There were lots of TVs for sports, our bartender was great and the prices were good. What more can you ask for?

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane (is he picking his nose?)

Shane (is he picking his nose?)

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Update – maybe it was because we mentioned the place in this post, but the night we got home from The Basement Shane was stricken with the same stomach bug he came down with last time we ate at Lagerheads – the one that still makes him shudder every time we even mention the name of the place. He was up all night throwing up, and even had to go into work late so he could get some sleep after visiting the bathroom floor for most of the night. Ick. So I guess he and I are at least off the return invite list for this place. Rats.

Funnel cake fries, I’ll miss you. Send postcards.

 

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WTGW 3/9/16: The Pit Stop Bar & Grille, Sagamore Hills

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Don’t you just love when you walk into a place and it smells so fantastic, and that makes you really hungry? And then you get all excited about ordering that particular thing that smells so good you can almost taste it, because it smells so delicious? And then you look over the menu, and realize the thing you’re hungry for – the thing you smell … actually isn’t even available there, because it’s really just the scent wafting in from the carry out place next door.

Well rats.

Such is the case with The Pit Stop Bar & Grille, which is unfortunately situated right next to a Gionino’s Pizzeria, a local carry-out chain that just happens to be one of our favorites.

Perhaps they should maybe think about offering a delivery service next door. Just a thought.

Although, side note, we would not recommend that same service from the place located on the opposite side of The Pit Stop, a little convenience store with what looks to be handmade lettering on the roadside sign out front. We noted that the sign touts “free air.” Right after lottery, fresh bait and tackle, and beer. So, if you ever need a place to, well, breathe … keep that one in mind?

Anyway.

The inside of The Pit Stop is much larger than it appears to be from the outside. I’m not sure how far back the building actually goes, but the “Patio” sign above the long hallway heading toward the kitchen infers perhaps pretty far.

The vastness of the space also inferred that perhaps they should have more than one person working the tables on the floor. However, the evening of our WTGW visit the bartender was apparently pulling double duty as the one-and-only server – which immediately garnered our sympathy, especially since Wednesdays are trivia nights at Pit Stop and the place seemed particularly busy. That being said, I will say that she handled our table well – although there was most certainly a briskness about her, as well as an underlying and unspoken sense of “I’m asking you now what you want because you may not see me again for a while” every time she approached our table. Clearly she was not in the mood for sarcasm or dawdling. Noted.

So for that reason, and since there was no beer list on the menu or table, I tried desperately to scan the taps behind the bar from our table as everyone else was ordering drinks … and then ended up giving up and just ordering a Miller Lite. Sometimes ease of ordering trumps taste.

Also known as, every bar experience in my college days.

Ted asked if they had any dark beers, and was told that they had Guinness and something called Big Butt. Which of course Ted, lover of all drinks with weird names, agreed to sample. BTW, regardless of the server’s attitude, there’s something about their arrival at the table with the words “here’s your sample of Big Butt” that can’t help but make you giggle.

Yes, we’re 15. This has already been established.

Although after that sample we never had the pleasure of hearing those words again, as Ted opted for the Guinness as his actual drink. So I guess Ted and Sir Mix A Lot will never be besties. Because clearly Ted does NOT like Big Butt … and he cannot lie.

Sorry, I had to.

Amanda rounded out the beer orders with a Blue Moon. Shane, who must’ve gotten his fill of beer with the Brick Oven Brew Pub last week, went back to his usual Rum & Diet. Jerrid went the Jack & Coke route – although at one point he made Ted taste his drink because he was convinced the coke was non-existent. According to Ted, it was there, just very subtle.

And we found out at the end of the evening when the bills came that apparently that was because the bartender was pouring Jerrid doubles. Which are apparently $4.50/shot. So for $9 a drink, it definitely should be primarily alcohol. Again, noted.

The server’s return to take food orders pretty much mirrored the level of urgency of her arrival for our drink orders, so we didn’t mess around there. Also since Ted started off the ordering chain – and must’ve been particularly intimidated by the bartender/server, because he kind of just ordered all of his food at once, instead of separating it into appetizers and then meals. So there’s that. Thanks, overachiever.

But I guess if we had ordered apps, Ted’s would’ve been six of the Caribbean Jerk Wings, mine and Shane’s would’ve been the Reuben Quesadilla, and Jerrid and Amanda’s would’ve been the popcorn shrimp. But really since everything came out at once they all just ended up being large side dishes to our main meals. Yay for tables full of food!

Jerrid got the philly cheese steak sandwich with lug nuts – which is “Pit Stop speak” for tater tots. I see what you did there. Clever. Regardless, they were good.

Steak and potatoes, in a different form

Steak and potatoes, in a different form

Amanda tried to order the rueben sandwich as a wrap, and was told the quesadilla was pretty much the same thing (um, well, no, but whatever) so she just went with that. Again, the “don’t stall or argue” persona of our bartender was in full effect.

Can we consider this prep for St Patrick's Day?

Can we consider this prep for St Patrick’s Day?

Since Shane and I also had Amanda’s meal as our “app side,” we all agreed that the Rueben quesadilla was just OK. It’s an interesting twist on a sandwich or the egg rolls we’ve tried other places … but nothing so overwhelmingly wonderful that we have to have it again sometime soon.

Ted got the beer battered cod sandwich, and also opted for the lug nuts on the side. Which he later said were by far the best part of his meal. Hmmm. He also said that it’s pretty difficult to screw up fried fish … but somehow they managed to. Ouch.

When someone asks why we all have clogged arteries, I'm pointing to this picture of fried-ness

When someone asks why we all have clogged arteries, I’m pointing to this picture of fried-ness

Wings from the Carribbean

Wings from the Carribbean

I got six of the Cajun dry rub wings and a basket of fries. I’ll second Ted’s opinion that the side – in my case the fries – was by far the best part of the meal. I mean, the wings were OK – they had decent flavor, but they were just “eh.”

Wings, southern style

Wings, southern style

Shane got 18 wings – 12 garlic and six Caribbean Jerk dry rub. Now, if you’ve been following our adventures, then you know by now that when “I’m hungry and will eat this table if food doesn’t arrive soon” Shane starts offering up the remnants of his meal, that means he wasn’t happy with it. And such was the case with his garlic wings -of all things! – because, well, he claimed they didn’t have enough garlic taste to them. I guess after so many times being served wings with actual chunks of garlic residing on top of them, just getting wings cooked in a garlic sauce was more than a slight disappointment.

Although, just for reference, if you’ll go back to last week’s dinner, Shane was the one complaining that the pizza had too much garlic on it. He’s like the Goldilocks of garlic tastings.

How can they be garlic wings if there are no visible traces of garlic?

How can they be garlic wings if there are no visible traces of garlic?

In any case, this week he left four dead soldiers that no one would claim and he didn’t even take a box for. I actually tried one of the non-garlic garlic wings, and truthfully they didn’t have much flavor. He aslo wasn’t crazy about the carribbean jerk wings, but they were better than the garlic.

All in all, The Pit Stop earned a “thumbs medium” from the group – between the somewhat harsh/rushed service (not really her fault if they were just short staffed, but if that’s how it is all the time I’d be a little worried about the management skills of the owners), Jerrid’s extravagant prices for mixed drinks and the mediocre food, it’s just not a place I think we’ll head back to anytime soon. Also, having Trivia there that evening – something that should’ve at least deferred our attention from all of the factors above – actually didn’t make much of an impression on us either. Particularly since the guy hosting it kind of faded into the background noise of the bar in general instead of rallying the crowd. Maybe don’t quit your day job there mister.

(Sidebar: the lighting in this place was so especially awful – neon! bright spotlights! bar signs! – that I couldn’t do much to doctor up the pictures of us. So you get black & white instead. Let’s call it “artsy.”)

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Jerrid

Drinks: Is it so hard to put a beer list on a table? Related – is it so hard to tell someone when they’re about to be charged $9 for a Jack & Coke? Like maybe before they order their fourth one?
Food: Eh. Maybe we were set up for disappointment from the start with that delicious pizza smell. I’m telling you, that whole Gionino’s carry out idea has legs.
Service: Every order felt like part of the lightning round on a game show. So if you’re indecisive and can’t make a quick decision, this is not the place for you.
Overall: When the fries and tater tots are the highlights of a meal, it’s a pretty clear indication that we won’t be rushing to return.

Next Pick: Shane