WTGW 11/26/19: Kepner’s / Blitzen’s, Hudson

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Happy Night Before Thanksgiving!

Or, depending on your preference …

Happy Biggest Going Out Night of the Year!

So, you know, no pressure on this pick to be – wait for it – legendary or anything.

I think we’ve all had our rounds at having to choose on this night, seeing as it’s the one “holiday” that always falls on our favorite night of the week. We’ve seen the night Shane got food poisoning and left me to cook my first ever 22lb turkey for his entire family the next day, the night we all got into a heated discussion about the type of breading used on a fish dinner and then made Ted sit in a stack of booster seats (yes, at a bar), the night of many shots, and of course last year’s epic choice of the strangest cabana we’ve ever sat in.

Which brings us to 2019, and our visit to Kepner’s. We had a lengthy conversation about whether this should actually be classified as a revisit, since honestly we’ve been to this place about 4 billion times over the years. Most notably, we celebrated Ted’s birthday here one year (not on a Wednesday), and it’s the place where previous WTGW team members Amanda and Jerrid actually met for the first time (on a Wednesday but when I was out of town so it wasn’t an “official” outing).

But somehow, despite all these visits and feeling like this is one of our go-to divey bars on this side of town – and honestly probably the only one allowed within Hudson city limits –  we just never managed to officially review it.

So here we are.

I specifically chose Kepner’s not only to finally make them WTGW official, but also because we’d heard that there was a new Christmas-themed popup bar called Blitzen’s that was celebrating their opening night this same night. And what says Happy Night Before Thanksgiving like an entire bar dedicated to holiday decorations, music and themed drinks?

We’ll come back to that later. First, let’s eat.

WHAT WE ORDERED

One of the things we love most about Kepner’s is that despite being small and having a divey, neighborhoody feel, they actually have a decent list of craft beers and ciders in bottles/cans, and things other than Bud Light on draft.

In fact, when Shane literally tried to get a Bud Light on draft, he was told that they only have it in bottles, and that Miller Lite was the domestic draft of choice.

So there’s that.

Cassi and I both settled on bottles of a mango habenero cider that according to the description was also aged in a tequila barrel. Well now that just seems like a lot of things all thrown together in one big pot to stew, now doesn’t it?  But, because we all love starting the night with complicated alcohols, we took a chance.

I’m happy to say it was worth it.

Ted, Cassi and I all went through the same progression of thought on what to order for our meals:
Choice #1, the turkey club. Which sounded good under normal circumstances, but then again maybe starting on the turkey consumption 24 hours before Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t the best choice. I mean, given that we also would also be staring at leftovers for much of the forseeable future.
OK, so Choice #2, wings. But again with the poultry.
So then we’re at Choice #3, burgers. But that came with a sidebar a) which burger, since each specialty option had at least one condiment included on the list that we weren’t crazy about.

Yep, this is us, folks. Making dinner as complicated as possible since 2013.

And yet also so simple at the same time … anyone shocked that two of those items on the list were burgers and wings? Anyone? Bueller?

Didn’t think so.

Shane and Ted remembered a burger being on the menu during one of our previous visits that they really loved (called the Clocktower, maybe?), but it seemed to have gone MIA this time around. Because you know how much we love when that happens.

Almost as much as we love when there are things available in the kitchen that aren’t on any of the menus, so we have to rely on the server to maybe – or not – tell us about them. And then maybe – or not – change our minds about what to order after we’ve already scoured the menu for 10 minutes trying to decide what to order. That’s a fun game.

Which we played on this evening, as Jason was all set to order the Ohio State burger, until the server mentioned to us that there was this special “non-menu” burger, which I can’t remember the name of but the description of had something to do with two burger patties being dusted with brown sugar and grilled, then topped with bacon and cheese.

Jason caved and ordered that.

I was surprised Shane didn’t follow suit. He claimed it was because of Thanksgiving being tomorrow, and that he didn’t want to eat that much tonight. Um, who is this person and what have you done with my husband? Anyone remember the full sheet pizza incident?

Instead he got the Unreserved burger, along with, well everyone else at the table except for Jason.

Side note, in case you’re wondering, the house sauce is actually Worcestershire. That will save you the question that we asked the server. Because calling it a “house sauce” when it’s really a simple and already known condiment is always way less complicated than just putting said condiment in the menu description, no?

Ted also got six of the dry rub Cajun wings.

Cassi and Jason got the chorizo stuffed mushrooms as an app, which arrived looking like mini sausage patties. I think “stuffed” should be replaced with “overflowing.”

Cassi joked that they came served on her Grandma’s china. So Thanksgiving came a little early here at Kepner’s.

THE VERDICT

Cassi thought the texture of the stuffed mushrooms was a little strange, but luckily Jason liked them a lot and was willing to clean up what she didn’t want.

Ted said the wings didn’t have a lot of flavor. And his sweet potato fries were salty, which was a new thing that he didn’t remember from our past visits. Or, really, any visit anywhere. Who puts salt on sweet potato fries?

Well other than Cassi, but that’s a whole other thing.

In any case, Ted felt bad giving Kepner’s a bad review, since this is probably the first time it’s ever fallen under that category for us. Our notariety must have come off the radar this time and they caved under the pressure of our first “real” visit.

I almost wrote that without laughing.

But don’t worry, it wasn’t all off-kilter this time around, as the burgers were truly the usual deliciousness we’ve come to expect from this place. I mean, Jason even threw out the words “Top Three” when referencing that special burger. And we all know that’s high praise.

I mean, it almost doesn’t seem fair to other burgers, am I right?

Although because it also wasn’t technically on the menu, we all know that also means we should be get too attached to it, lest it be gone forever after tonight. But here’s hoping.

And here’s also hoping that the service we got tonight was more like Ted’s wings – an abnormality from what we’re used to – than the new norm. Because it was … well … let’s just say it wasn’t good. It was very inconsistent, and while I get that the upstairs area was busy, it’s also only like 10 tables worth of customers so it’s not like even if every table is full we’re talking about a giant crowd or anything.

We also need to talk about the pricing for a minute. Remember that draft Miller Lite that Shane begrudgingly ordered? Yeah, it was $5.50. For a draft domestic, and not in a giant glass like we’ve happily encountered at other locales. And those interesting sounding ciders that Cassi and I ordered? $7 each. For bottled ciders. So, yeah. I switched to a different one after the first round, but that only saved me $1 a bottle. Guess apples really are going out of season?

Ted and Jason were the smartest ones at the table, getting something called the “House IPA” for $3 each. Which if we’re taking a cue from the “house sauce” revelation, was probably just a Lagunitas served with a fancy name.

So speaking of things in disguise … let’s move in to the visit to that holiday themed pop up bar, Blitzen’s, next door.

Yeah, I’m not even sure what to say about this place, other than that our group was horribly out of place there. Like, imagine a bar that’s trying to be cool and trendy with the whole popup holiday thing that seems to be the rage right now … but like 95% of the people in the place were probably approaching their teenage years when the original It’s a Wonderful Life first came out.

Because nothing says trendy like sharing a space at the bar next to your Grandma.

And the drinks – while very tasty – just honestly didn’t seem worth the $8 – $10 each that they were charging. I’m pretty positive had we stayed there for more than one round we probably could’ve easily spent more on just drinks than we did collectively on both meals and drinks next door.

But we did get these cool holiday headbands, though

Shane apparently took the holiday camoflauge option, as he looks like he’s blending into the background. But only facing that direction. Had the other direction been the backdrop what you would’ve seen was pretty much just the restaurant Hudson’s – who holds the liquor license for Blitzen’s – with some sparse holiday decorations thrown up. And more folks seemingly out way too late for the dinner service for their age group. Is the group tour bus late in picking everyone up?

And so we left, and ended the annual “night of more than one stop since we’re apparently pretending we don’t have family get togethers tomorrow” at Bailey Rd Tavern. Where all great nights end up, am I right?

I mean, how much more proof do you need?

And next year, this post will likely be classified as the night we hit two dive bars, with a stop for some expensive cocktails with our grandparents in between. Good times.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 11/20/19: Revisit – 3 Brothers, North Canton

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This revisit pick is only about a billion years in the making. Cassi has been holding this pick for just the right time, after listening to me, Ted and Shane rave about the desserts and pickles pretty much every other time we all get together. I mean, it’s only the top of the scale by which all other fried pickles in our lives have been compared since our first visit in (look up year). And she had to choose carefully on the season, since pumpkin love is only available in dessert form in the fall.

And so begins the story of how Shane and I spent our anniversary amidst fried pickles, fish tacos, and pumpkin love. Because that’s a sentence you like to lead with and then walk away with little to no explanation.

We were slightly shocked when we walked into 3 Brothers and found the place not at all busy. That point will be relevant later, I promise.

But other than that the place seemed to be pretty much everything we remembered.  Right down to the strange “everything ends in 3’s” theme on the menu pricing, and most of the options available.

WHAT WE ORDERED

About 3.2 seconds after sitting down we placed our order(s) for pickles. Yep, that’s right, we ordered three separate orders, for a group of five people. Because 3/5 of the table already knew the magic that would be arriving at the table, and that we wouldn’t want to share.

We also usually take offense to servers that ask about food before we’ve even had a chance to remove our coats and open a menu, but in this case I think we all pretty much just screamed the word pickles at the poor girl as she approached the table, since that was a good portion of the reason we were even dining here this evening. And of course she should know that, right?

So that’s a fun way to start the night.

We spent far more time with the drink menu, which we were still perusing when the server arrived and we jumped down her throat about pickles. They didn’t have much in the way of ciders (say it one more time for the people in the back, Angry Orchard is not enough of an option) or craft beers, and the mixed specialty drinks seemed a tad on the expensive side.

Cassi and I ended up with mixed drinks, which we promptly swapped out after the first round, and the guys all went with draft beers.

In addition to the pickles, Cassi and Jason also got the loaded fries as an app.

Jason got six of the BBQ wings and something called the Bat Boy fish sandwich. Which sounds weird when you don’t know that the menu has a sports theme.

Cassi was still kind of wanting to order a Philly after last week’s less than satisfying experience with the sandwich she ordered at Two Bucks, but decided instead to go with the fish tacos after Ted raved about how good they were the last time he got them here.

I also chose the fish tacos and a side salad.

Keeping with the fish theme, Ted went with the blackened salmon.

Shane got the shortstop sliders and six of the Cajun wings. Which arrived looking like a meal for a tiny person, so of course we all had to ask him if he would be OK with just that amount of food.

He responded that he was of course leaving room for the infamous dessert of all desserts, pumpkin love. Well that seems logical enough.

But we ordered it and relative to our food it took about a year longer to come to the table. It was weird because someone other than our server took the order then our server came over to ask if we needed anything and we said someone else just ok our smdessert order and she explained he’s training … and then they all disappeared.

THE VERDICT

Cassi commented after about two bites that the pickles were everything we made them out to be.

I mean, we did make her think long and hard in comparison to the experience at Dilly D’s, but it still took longer for me to type that sentence than it did for her to exclaim that these were so much better.

Although it should be noted that at the end of the meal we saw Ted give up a plate to the server that still had some pickles on it, and of course we all had to roast him for being wasteful.

In contrast to the pickles, Cassi was not a fan of the fish tacos. Ted was shocked to hear that, since it was his recommendation that pushed her to order them in the first place, so obviously his memory was a much better one.

Cassi’s big complaint was they they’re served cold. I had the kind of opposite complaint, in that one of mine had a burnt shell so I had to abandon that one. Would’ve been nice to have a bit more flavor though.

Ted said the salmon was good. It was well seasoned and it was a large piece for a sandwich – like it could’ve been a dinner except it was on a bun.

And now for the most disappointing portion of the trip … the pumpkin love.

I had to go back and read the last review, as I’m not sure what we were thinking that made it the best dessert ever. Because this time around it was, well, overly disappointing. Like if we’d ordered that the last time, we definitely wouldn’t have ordered it again, much less raved about it for years.

Yeah, I’m not sure what happened in the few years we’ve been away, but things seem to have gone downhill.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

WTGW 11/13/19: Two Bucks Food & Spirits, Parma

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This week’s pick brought to you by a distant relative of the genius behind the naming of retail chains like Five Below and Dollar General.

Well not really. But I think you see where I’m going here.

So Two Bucks takes it’s name, presumably, because several of the items on the menu are only $2. Like sliders, fries, domestic beers and more shots than you would think it’s advisable to offer for only a few dollars each. On top of that, several liquors, like Tito’s, are only $3, including mixers.

Alternate name: Let’s Get Sloppy Drunk for $20. But I suppose that doesn’t fit well on a storefront sign.

But speaking of signage, the interior of the place is decorated with posters advertising all kinds of specialty drinks and liquors, the most intriguing of which was probably a peanut butter whisky called Screwball. Jason was so curious that he got a shot of it (hey, it was only $4!), which we all ended up sampling after it was proclaimed to be surprisingly delicious.

They also feature a large specialty cocktail list. Because nothing goes better with alcohol than lots and lots of written words.

So, all that being said, it would make total sense that the specialty food for Two Bucks is … Mac and cheese?

Wait, what?

Yeah, not exactly what you’d expect in a place adorned in alcohol advertisements and table tents touting under $5 drink specials. But according to the menus and website, it’s been cited a “Cleveland Best” in that category.

Mac and cheese, that is. Not bad decor or drink pricing. In case that wasn’t obvious. But I’m sure we could offer some suggestions for either category, no?

Anyway.

WHAT WE ORDERED

It’s probably not surprising, then, that when we asked the server what she recommended on the menu, the top item was the Mac and Cheese. I mean, it has won major awards and all.

But that menu item was closely followed in the server’s book by … well … pretty much almost everything else on the menu. So that’s helpful.

Cassi and Jason decided to start with pretzels and beer cheese.

Ted got the cauliflower wings with the teriyaki sauce. Thus proving there always have to be wings in some form or another on our table.

Shane and I got the “two buck” fries, and – even though it was clearly stated that the pickles were served in the form of spears and not chips – the fried pickles.

We take our chances in this group. Nothing like living on the edge.

Shane also initially wanted to order the fries along with the onion tanglers, I think because they were the only two apps on the menu under the “two buck” category. OK, like I totally get the desire to be economical, but – as Cassi said – there’s a million other good sounding things on the menu and that’s what you go for?

Exactly.

Moving on to meals, Cassi got the Chicken Philly with a side of the Mac and Cheese.

Jason got the Bucket Burger – the distinctive factor of which is that it has a fried egg on it – as well as onion straws and cheese.

Ted got the same thing. Minus the cheese. Of course.

I got the Steak Philly, and also chose the Mac and Cheese as a side.

But then because I wanted a side salad also, I asked if I could just get a small salad to go along with the meal … which then turned into a whole discussion about how the Mac and Cheese only comes in one size, so really getting it as an add-on side wasn’t any different than getting the side salad as an add-on side.

So wait, what now? The side and the meal are the same size? This seems odd, no?

There was already a lot of confusion at the table after that discussion, so we decided to just trust that the server knew what she was talking about and I wouldn’t end up paying $15 for a side salad.

Apparently not sensing the confusion already at the table, Shane gets the complicated order award with his choice of the “meal” of Mac and Cheese – not the plain kind that Cassi and I would be getting as the “side” order, but the special Three Way style (which, yes, we all giggled at when he ordered, because we’re 12) – along with two of the smoked kielbasa sliders and one BBQ bacon slider.

Yes, we were all pleasantly surprised when everything arrived at our table as ordered. Because we all know that could be its own separate award category.

THE VERDICT

After all the talk about the Mac and Cheese, you’ll be happy to know that it was good. I mean, I’m not sure we agree with all of the awards – Cassi stated that it certainly wasn’t her favorite ever – but it was definitely tasty.  I thought even the “plain” version had really good flavor. And in retrospect I really could’ve just ordered that and a salad and avoided the steak philly altogether, since the sandwiches were the least favorite part of both mine and Cassi’s meals. Cassi said her chicken was super dry. And while my steak was OK, it was nothing I ever need to eat again.

I ended up taking half of my sandwich and half of the mac and cheese home. And already I think we all know that only one of those halves will actually get eaten.

Cassi liked the pretzels, but said that they could’ve used salt. Color us all as shocked about that as we are when Ted orders something without cheese.

But speaking of cheese, make sure you don’t pull a Ted and skip the cheese with the pretzels. It was delicious.

Ted said the cauliflower was good, but that it really wasn’t spicy at all. Cassi tried one and said that’s what she should’ve ordered as her meal, so presumably she enjoyed that one piece more than Ted did the entire order.

Shane actually liked the fried pickles in the spear form (can we all just agree that it’s normal to start singing a Brittany Spears song everytime that word is read or typed?). But then said he added that he was really hungry, so that could’ve affected his decision. So that’s helpful.

I thought they didn’t have much flavor. The breading wasn’t overwhelming – which was a plus – but overall they could’ve used some seasoning. On a scale of Three Brothers to Dilly D’s, it was somewhere in the middle.

Apparently another specialty of the place is a new kind of French Fry that should probably be called “scraps” or “bottom of the barrell,” as they seemed to be fashioned after the tiny bits of potato chips you find at the very bottom of the chip bag. We thought when our app came out with those little pieces that maybe we were just unlucky enough to get the end of the bag of frozen bits dumped into the fryer … but then the fries that came with Jason’s and Ted’s burgers arrived looking exactly the same, so I guess that’s just how they make them? Either that or someone in the kitchen got mad at the frozen potatoes and ran them all over with their truck out back before bringing them into the kitchen? I mean, I’d take option one out of those two, but who knows at this point. Especially with all of these $2 drink specials.

Our bill was really good considering all the food we ordered. Both apps together came to just $5.50, which is less than we pay for one at most places. And my mixed drinks off of the specialty drink menu were only $4 each, which seemed super cheap. The actual meals were the most expensive things – which may be the most logical sentence I’ve typed in this entire review. Oh, wait, Ted’s beers actually beat the cost of most of our individual meals, as it was a full third of his final bill.

Even as we left, we were all still scratching our heads at the whole vibe of this place. Like the name and the drink specials pretty blatantly scream dive bar. But the touting of the award winning, “gourmet” Mac and Cheese along with the atmosphere in the place definitely screams a need to want to be more upscale than that. It’s like the bar version of the movie Pretty Woman.

The playlist also fluctuated somewhere between 70’s rock and tech dance club, which is a grey area I’m sure no one has thought necessary to give a genre name to yet, but I have to imagine this is what would happen if Bad Company and David Guetta suddenly decided to tour together. So there’s that.

We all agreed that while Two Bucks didn’t serve up the best food we‘ve ever had – Ted summed it up perfectly when he said that everything tasted good, but nothing had a ton of flavor to it – it was still tasty and we would eat here again.

And also, cheap drinks. I’ll take Things We Will Never Complain About for $1000 please, Alex. Because we never said we couldn’t be bought.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 10/30/19: Tailgator’s, Wadsworth

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If only I had $1.00 for all the times one of us asked if we were going to someone’s house as a WTGW pick.

But, I mean, let’s be real here, restaurant owners. Can we stop putting places so far out of the way that we have to ask ourselves these things? I mean, seriously, we shouldn’t have to get off the highway and traverse across an entire town of ranch houses before we find your sports pub. And even then it’s like an oasis of fun and beer waiting for us on a dark fall evening.

But I guess at least it’s easy to know we’ve arrived. Because, let’s face it, where this particular place is located it was either Tailgator’s, the Salvation Army (which may or may not be serving food) or something called the Minit Mart (not Mini Mart, mind you – Minit Mart) across the street … which if I had to guess likely had some sort of hot dog special.

I think we chose wisely.

In fact, this was a place that had been on my neverending list of eventual choices. It can be either a blessing or a curse when someone else picks a place you have your eye on, folks. The bullet you dodge can be full of regret of many forms.

The jury is still kind of out on which instance this falls under.

So the inside of Tailgater’s is like what if you put a sports bar in the middle of a hunting lodge in the heart of Minnesota. There’s a lot of wood paneling and brick juxtaposed by posters for sports teams and beer specials.

There also must’ve been some sort of a berry air freshener plugged in nearby to our table, because I got a good whiff of it every time I turned my head.

I mean, there are worse things, I suppose?

We also noticed a patio out back – well, OK, really just part of the parking lot that was fenced in and provided tables to make it an outdoor seating/dining area … but hey, you can hang lights over anything and it immediately makes it fancy, right?

Regardless, it was raining – because we’ve already established that Mother Nature is a whore on Wednesdays (see also why it took me over an hour to get home before heading out to Wadsworth for this venture) so we couldn’t sit out there. But good to know it exists.

WHAT WE ORDERED

So, the theme of Tailgator’s is, appropriately, alligator. Clever. Which means that they do have actual alligator meat cooked into various apps and meals. But then part of the theme is also just the names of some of the meals and drinks. Like, for instance, something called Gator Juice, which from the description sounds kind of like it might just be a fancy themed name for a midori sour.

Asked if he would rather drink that or a PBR out of a can, Ted chose the Gator Juice. I’m not really sure what to make of that exactly, but just something to note.

Hey, remember those times when we ask the server what to order and then actually take their recommendations? Well, if not, then you’re in for a treat, because this is one of those times.

The server raved about the wings (kind of a given) and also the Reuben.

Ask and you shall receive.

In particular Shane, who went all in on that suggestion. He already knew he would be ordering the Erie Island wings, since that’s his most favorite seasoning, like, in the entire world. But he changed up his patented “burger and wings” order to a Reuben and wings.

Shane and I also split the pepper cheese balls for our app. Because for all the times Ted shuns cheese, you can pretty much guarantee that Shane and I will order it in some form or another.

While he did pass on the Gator Juice, Ted couldn’t get away without ordering something on theme, and so he got the gator bites as an app.

So if you’ve ever wondered what fried alligator looks like … well … kind of like a cross between clam strips and chicken fingers.

Mmmmmm.

Cassi and Jason got something called Gator Tots, which may or may not have had actually fried alligator on them or just been named for the theme. I forgot to ask. But they did include beans, a little fact that Cassi missed in the description and was not entirely thrilled about. But fortunately they also got the buffalo cheese dip, which definitely did not include alligator or beans.

I got six of the Erie Island wings and 6 of the Hot Garlic Parm wings, plus a side salad

Admittedly I should’ve stuck with just six wings and a salad, but when you can’t decide between flavors and you’re also about to eat your arm off out of hunger, this is what happens.

Fair warning.

Jason got onion rings and three orders of six wings – the honey mustard, the honey bbq and the honey bourbon

Cassi got 12 of the Hot Garlic Parm boneless wings

Ted got fries and six of the Six Pepper wings, plus six of the Honey Hot wings.

THE VERDICT

Our apps came out quickly and all at the same time, so that’s a plus. At least it wouldn’t be another of those instances where the unlucky last person to order has to wait about half an evening watching others cure their stomach grumbles.

Once we got to the wings things got a little more complicated, since the kitchen was obviously backed up dealing with the nightly special. So Shane’s Rueben arrived first along with Ted’s fries and Jason’s onion rings – and an apologetic server saying that she just didn’t want to hold those up and let them get cold while the fryers worked overtime.

We barely refrained from telling her we loved her. Barely. She had no idea how much those words mean to us.

The wings were good. The Erie Island was just as good as Shane remembered from the years when we used to order that same seasoning at Cleats. Ted wasn’t so much a fan of the six pepper, but did like the hot honey – which he said was the perfect mix of hot and sweet. And Cassi and I both agreed that the hot garlic parm really has some kick to it.

The chips were also really good. They were crispy without being burnt, a real plus.

Shane ate about half of his wings and then decided to save the rest for a take home bag and start on his sandwich. But then he ended up taking half of that home too. Not because it wasn’t good, but because he said he was just too full.

So if you’re playing along at home, a burger and wings is enough for one meal – but a Reuben and wings is too much. Noted.

In fact, out of the group Ted was the only one who finished his meal on site. Or, more appropriately, the only one who knew their limits on food intake.

And overall it was a pretty cheap night – $51 for me and Shane, which includes an app and basically two meals for him plus my one … and essentially a lunch for each of us for another time, too. The fact that it was wing night also helped – each pack of six wings was just over $4 – and then each of our beers was $4 – and the app was around $4 … hmm, maybe we should’ve stopped and played fours in the lotto at that Minit Mart across the street on the way home?

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Shane

WTGW 8/27/19: The Basement, Cuyahoga Falls

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Oh hey, Basement, it’s been a hot minute. Or, well, three years and four and a half years, I guess – but who’s counting.

Allowing Shane to pick the new Cuyahoga Falls location of The Basement is really kind of a technicality, because not only have we a) been to the restaurant twice already, but b) he was the one to pick it the last time we visited.

I have to think that Ted might want to jump in to give Shane a little bit of hell for this, no?

But seeing as that last visit pretty much, in Shane’s (perhaps somewhat dramatic) words, tried to kill him, I guess if he wants to be the one to take his chances and return to the scene of the near poisoning, well, who are we to stop him? Especially when we already know we like the food there and have kind of just been avoiding it as a favor to him?

Clearly we’re good friends. I know.

Anyway.

So here we are again, as mentioned at the new location that has recently opened in Cuyahoga Falls. Either the opening hasn’t really been publicized all that much yet, or several others in the area have been victimized by wings and pizza in the same way Shane was after our last visit, because it wasn’t very busy inside when we arrived.

WHAT WE ORDERED

The menu is still just a few words short of War and Peace, so be sure to plan a few extra minutes in the battle of your hunger vs. your entire party’s ability to choose an entrée in a timely manner when visiting this place. Likewise, maybe don’t visit with people you haven’t seen for a while and need time to catch up with before even opening the menu. Or anyone prone to indecisiveness.

At some point you just have to pretty much commit to one particular page and then point to something before you have a chance to change your mind again.

Our group eventually unanimously agreed with taking few moments of silence just so we could all peruse uninterrupted and make a decision in a timely manner before someone bit off a finger out of hunger.

Of course even though we already made our choices, we still had to do the weekly server inquisition to see if what we chose lined up with what she recommended. She voted for the wings, hands down, and also the philly sandwiches. Which is apparently what The Basement is known for? How did I miss that somewhere in the last two visits?

Oh, wait, I think I know how … funnel cake fries. Those bastards always stole the show, even when we didn’t actually order them because we were too full by the end of the meal to do so.

Which is why Ted learned from his mistakes and ordered them right away as an appetizer.

You’ll be happy to know that they still do not disappoint.

Unlike the pizza rolls, which claim to be a “party in your mouth.” I mean, they were good and all, but that seems to be a bit of false advertising.

Samsies on the cheesy tots that Jason and Cassi got as an appetizer, which were more like non-cheese tots. Or Ted-stye Tots, as I guess they could more aptly be called.

Following his dessert-for-appetizer pick, Ted chose the chicken parm sandwich and six Louisiana licker wings for his meal.

I followed the server’s recommendation and got 12 chili lime wings and a side salad.

Of course I also ordered a black cherry white claw (which I thought they had thanks to a super helpful TV screen showing all of the drink options) … but then was treated to the dreaded return of the server telling me that they were all out. So mango it was then. At least they had another flavor choice, so score.

Shane got six pepper parm wings – which seems like a new sauce combination, no? Considering anything with pepper or parm are the two most likely for Shane to order, it’s almost like they discovered a way to give him a little peace offering for his near death experience a few years back.

He also got a basket of two sliders, I guess just in case the wings started to go south quickly?

Cassi got 12 boneless mild wings.

Jason got nine of the Kaluger wings – which apparently is the somewhat non-appetite-inducing name of their special housemade sauce. I mean, I’m sure it’s named after someone and so I shouldn’t make fun of it, but then again when has that ever stopped us? The server described it for us but clearly it wasn’t very memorable, since I can’t seem to remember now what she said it tasted like.

AND THE VERDICT IS 

After we put our orders in we were warned that the kitchen was “totally slammed” so it could be up to 45 minutes to get our food. Hmm. OK. I mean, on one hand we appreciate the warning – but then again after taking a look around and noticing about 10 other full tables in the place with us that was slightly concerning that they could be that backed up. Are they taking a cue from Wadsworth Tavern and cooking everything in two Easy Bake Ovens in the back? Seems logical.

They did get all of the apps out pretty quickly though, so that was a plus.

But when the actual meals finally started to funnel out we quickly realized that Ted’s sandwich was not among them, and quite frankly nowhere to be found. So we waited … and waited … and eventually was able to flag down the server to go check in the back to see what was up. Turns out there was a miscommunication – which was never really clarified, but we’re assuming is code for “the order was never put in.”

However, a manager did eventually appear to say they would comp his meal for him, so that was a nice gesture.

And that comp was definitely appreciated, especially when the bills came and it was discovered that Ted spent almost $20 on two beers.

Wait, what now?

Yeah, Ted’s Guinness and the first round of craft IPSs that Ted and Jason got were $8.75 each.

Yikes. Clearly they need to revise that TV screen technology to also include pricing.

And remember that White Claw I ordered? Yeah, it was $4.00. Meanwhile Shane’s tall mixed drink was only $4.25. Clearly I chose poorly. Or someone is just using a pick-the-price-out-of-thin-air scale behind the bar.

Overall, it seems like they’ve got a few kinks to work out since opening – and let’s hope they do so before any major sporting events like Browns football Sundays or perhaps Indians postseason start really filling the place up. The food was still just as good as we remember it from the other locations, but service and pricing could stand to be upgraded in order to warrant another visit in our future.

This is what we get when we ask for places we like to open up in our neighborhood, I guess. *sigh*

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi … after a brief hiatus for vacation

WTGW 8/14/19: Nathan’s Patio Bar & Grille, North Canton

Standard

So full disclosure, we’ve all technically been here before, but only for drinks, and not food. On a night a few summers back we returned to a previous WTGW spot, The Ignorant Owl, to check out a band … which was so awful that it literally drove us across the street in search of better times elsewhere.

We ended up on the patio at Nathan’s, enjoying several cocktails and a much better band. So essentially we credit Nathan’s for turning that evening around for us.

Well, and the ensuing 3AM Taco Bell run, which involved Ted knocking on the window of the drive thru as we pulled up after placing our order and emphatically declaring that we were “gonna need some orders of cinnamon twists.”

But that’s a story for another time.

Back to this week’s adventure (spoiler alert, it did not end at Taco Bell, or at 3AM for that matter). We tried to once again visit the patio area of Nathan’s but as we walked out to that area we looked around to discover that there were only about a handful of very small tables that maybe would’ve fit about 1/4 of our usual food order. So that was disappointing.

I mean, I guess we could’ve all four just sat by ourselves and yelled from table to table. But that would’ve probably gotten annoying to the other patrons at the bar area out there, and we kind of didn’t feel like getting beat up that evening.

And we didn’t see menus anywhere, or anyone else eating on the patio … so by our secret decoder ring settings that usually implies that they don’t serve food in that part of the establishment.

Boooo.

So back inside we went. We grabbed a table along the far wall, and studied the helpful calendar of specials.

Hey look, it’s $4 burger night! And you know this group typically doesn’t turn down a burger. Or wings.

What are we on, like week #427 of mentioning that now?

Plus, trivia. I mean, granted we were down one member of the Moist Towlettes trivia team, but of course we weren’t about to let that stop us.

However, our general lack of knowledge for pretty much anything pertaining to this particular game of trivia did stop us from winning any portion of the game, but that’s neither here nor there.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, duh. I pretty much already gave this one away. Even someone as awful as we were at trivia that evening could guess the answer to that question.

So Nathan’s classifies their burgers into categories: regular, super, mega, etc. Seems someone was a little overly concerned with size when they put this menu together, no?

I have to give props to our server, as she was a giant help in placing our orders. No complacent “everything here is good, can’t go wrong” answers from this one. She basically ordered Cassi’s entire meal for her, and had quick answers to the firing range of questions that were thrown at her during that process: which burger is better, mushroom or Italian? what’s better, fries or onion rings? which fries, steak or regular?

It was like watching an eye doctor go through the “which is better, one or two?” portion of the eye test, but at like 100x the normal speed. And some would argue with greater consequences.

BTW, the answers to those questions were Italian, fries and steak. Which is exactly what Cassi ordered.

I went for the lesser of the server’s choices in Cassi’s scenario, the mushroom Swiss burger. And the side salad, which no one asked about. Because, well, we all know this group doesn’t do vegetables well.

Ted got the mega-sized Big Piggy burger. Which was delivered looking just as unhealthy as it sounds.But it did come with its own very sharp utensil, so I guess I really should watch what I say about it.

Shane got the regular burger … and also the kielbasa burger. Because, why not? Clearly I’m eating all the vegetables in our family, so he has to take on some of the bad habits to make up for my health, right?

We should point out Shane was shocked to see that both of his sandwiches contained a burger patty. Wait, what now?

Yeah, he thought he was just ordering one burger, and the other would just be kielbasa on a bun. Ok. That might’ve made sense had that sandwich not also been listed under the section called “burgers.” But sure. Guess that extra meat was just bonus.

That what she … oh never mind.

We also started out with a nice big bowl of queso with tortilla chips, just for Ted.

Just kidding. That was for the entire table, minus Ted. He opted for fried pickles.

Let’s just talk for a moment about that sauce for the pickles, shall we? Oh wait, we couldn’t, because it was so spicy that all we could do after first trying it was gulp down about a gallon of water or whatever other beverage might have been sitting in front of us at that moment. Even habanero-eating Ted declared it to be “pretty spicy.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was also good. Just consider this more a word of warning to like not even think about trying it if your glass is almost empty.

Also, maybe don’t order the queso in the same sitting, or else you’ll leave thinking it had zero flavor. I’m sure it did have at least a little, but it was like just putting a bit of squashed, unseasoned cauliflower on a tortilla chip in comparison to the pickle sauce.

Plus we could’ve used about another whole serving of chips with the queso.

Oh, and in our never-ending quest to get hard seltzer at every single bar we visit, we were thrilled to discover they have both White Claw and Truly. But – in true “us” fashion – of course the flavors are held under top secret clearance until the server makes about 15 trips to our table. This evening our server was convinced there was a raspberry back there, until she returned holding mango.

So. Close.

AND THE VERDICT IS:

The burgers were really good. They were cooked to order, and actually stayed pretty close to those specifications. So Shane wasn’t going to die this time.

Always a plus. The Rail will clearly never be forgiven for their murderous attempts. Of like 5 years ago. But whatever.

Cassi thought her burger was a little too done for what was supposed to be medium well, and mine was just past well done for what was supposed to be medium – but regardless they still had good flavor.

I ended up not eating the bun because it was a little too toasted for my liking. Meanwhile, on the other side of the opposite train, Cassi thought hers had a mushy bottom.

This was also definitely one of the cheaper nights out for us in a while.

Cassi’s bill for herself was only $14. She spent more on alcohol ($4 each for each White Claw?!) than her $5 burger and $1 upgrade to fries.

#pride

Our bill was $39, which breaks down to two rum and cokes, two white claw, three burgers, and one app.

Not too shabby.

The service was far better than I think we expected to see when we walked into the place. Our server was always nearby and super friendly, greeted us promptly, and gave helpful recommendations.

Oh how our standards have fallen over the years, right? Like basically just pay attention to us and be friendly and we’ll love you forever. We’re like a group of stray puppies.

Which is what I’m sure you’d rather look at as opposed to the usual pictures of our group at the end of our posts … and since we forgot to take our pictures this week anyway, here you go.

You’re welcome.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason’s back in rotation

WTGW 7/3/19: REVISIT – Jojo’s Sports Grille, Medina

Standard
THE WHERE (we went)

So riddle me this: is it really a revisit if the person who picked it said they didn’t remember going there?

Our last time at Jojo’s Sports Grille was back in July of 2014 – which, sidebar, anyone else completely amazed that that was FIVE WHOLE YEARS ago already? I mean, WTH, universe – but it was also before we devised our revolutionary thumbs up/down rating system, so I mean, really how do we even remember what we thought of a place without that?

Exactly.

But honestly, it seems like Jojo’s really hasn’t changed much over the past half decade. They’re still in the same building, just away from the square in downtown Medina. And still connected – and by connected I mean sharing the building with – Domenics Italian Restaurant. So I guess that relationship is still going strong,

Jojo’s has a patio – but being that it was a nice evening in early summer, it’s no surprise that we weren’t able to find an open table for four. Or one, even. Guess this is the place to be, Medina.

The place is also still seat yourself – which I don’t remember working out so well for us the last time we visited, so I’m super excited they still haven’t found a better way of doing things. Because that fun walk of shame with a group of four people through the bar onto the patio, making a large circle and then retracing your steps back again will never be awkward.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

It’s too bad we didn’t take a hot second to look at the beer taps or coolers when we did our patio walk through, because our server wasn’t super up to speed on what was available. She was slightly knowledgeable with the beer options, so Ted was quick to choose the Truth on tap – although to be fair I think it was Cassi that had actually spotted that handle on our little walk. And Shane opted for a Bud Light – because, well, that’s usually a given that most places will have that on tap.

So maybe I’m actually giving the server a little too much unwarranted credit.

I chose Summer Shandy after learning the only cider option was Angry Orchard, which is essentially the PBR of ciders. No thanks. But then Cassi asked about White Claw or Truly, and was told they have both – specifically the Mango WC and the Berry Truly – so I changed my answer.

Just kidding. Our server returns to our table a little bit later with the beer for the guys, and one raspberry White Claw. Which is 1) neither of the flavors that she had said previously she was certain they had, and 2) one can less than what we ordered. Hmm.

I mean, if this is the last one left in the whole building just tell us straight up because we’ve found ourselves in this situation before and it’s not entirely pleasant.

She says they do have more, but she isn’t sure what flavors. Because, although you know we had specifically asked you about what was available, apparently you just closed your eyes and grabbed up a can at random out of the cooler? Did someone hand it to you relay race style as you passed by the bar and screamed “give me a hard sparkling water, stat!”

Doubtful.

Regardless, we told her to surprise us. It’s like Russian Roulette with alcoholic beverages. Live dangerously.

So there’s at least two flavors back there

Cool.

Another thing we remembered from our last visit was that Jojo’s had a very large and diverse menu. And that definitely hasn’t changed at all.

Shane looked up the old post, and the photos of the pizzas were enough to make his ordering decision on this visit slightly easier. The only debate he had was the eternal choice in toppings or specialty pizza. He was leaning toward the NY Style simply for the fact that it was a larger pizza, but then once he would’ve added literally ALL THE TOPPINGS it would’ve been about as much for his pizza as the bills for the entire table.

So he ordered the Domenic’s Deluxe instead. Which, let’s face it, was still pretty large, so I’d consider that a win.

A giant pizza, all for Shane

He also got a side order of jojo potatoes. Because, Jojo’s. Can you go to eat there and NOT order them?

I have to believe we made that same joke five years ago, too.

And clearly it was enough food for him, because he ended up taking three pieces home. And one slice of Cassi’s, after she declared she was not at all thrilled about her choice. And Shane wasn’t going to see it go to waste.

No one throws out pizza on Shane’s watch.

Cassi’s choice was the Veggie Pizza, with a side salad. She took one bite and gave it an “F” grade, victim of the dreaded mushy bottom. She said the toppings were good, but the crust killed it for her. And it was nothing like Tim’s, which is the standard by which all pizzas in her world will now be judged.

#notTim’s

This also spurred a lively debate between her and Shane regarding the merits of vegetables on pizza and how that affects crust moisture.

We take on the hard topics on Wednesday nights, folks.

Meanwhile, Ted and I were just over here enjoying our non-pizza meals, which included ten Sweet Chili Thai wings and an overstuffed Italian Panini for Ted.

And the Firecracker Panini for me, which – because the name doesn’t really make it obvious – was turkey, pepper jack cheese, and breaded jalepenos. And no, I wasn’t just going for the Independence Day theme. I was actually considering the turkey bacon panini, but I still have PTSD from a few weeks ago. Damn you, Wadsworth Tavern.

I think Ted loved the pickle the best out of his whole meal, if that tells you anything. Not to pick on the Wadsworth Tavern again – but, I mean, we will, because let’s face it they deserve it – but Ted said that pickle had more flavor than the supposedly pickle flavored wings he waited a year and a half for on that visit.

He wasn’t impressed with his Panini, saying it “wasn’t quite as advertised.” And by that he means that the menu calls it oversized, but his wasn’t much thicker than my regular panini.

I, on the other hand, really liked my regular old non-overstuffed sandwich. It definitely had a kick to it. My side salad, however, was essentially nothing more than a bowl of iceberg lettuce with some cheese, so I’m super glad I opted for that.

Especially since ordering it meant I had to almost draw a photo diagram for the server to describe what I was wanting to order with my sandwich. So, I wanted to keep the chips that came with the sandwich, AND add a side salad. Not substitute. Not remove one. Not bring one as an appetizer.

Because apparently no one has ever ordered two sides with a sandwich before. #trendsetter.

THE WHO (we saw)

Judging from the crowd when we walked in, all of Medina. It is a holiday eve after all. And nothing says “Night Before Independence Day” like eating Italian food, right?

Although about 25 minutes after our arrival we started seeing things clear out a little, at least in the dining room area. We guessed we were at the tail end of the dinner rush, so that was probably part of it – but then also judging from the huge crowd we saw sitting in the dark on lawn chairs in the park down the street on our drive home, it was probably also an easy dinner placement prior to the city fireworks display.

I mean, good thing we put that whole fireworks thing together or else that image could’ve been a little bit creepy, no?

Anyway.

Someone we didn’t see much of was – shocker – our server. Because her expertise with the bar beverages didn’t set that one up for you at all, I’m sure. Her visits were sporadic and not always productive, something we seemed to remember about the service on our last visit. So clearly they’re working on that.

THE HOW (much we spent)

Well, I’m glad lettuce and cheese is $3.49. That seems acceptable.

Overall, though, considering the amount of food we had, that tab isn’t horrible. If two people were to share a pizza along with some drinks it would be a pretty cheap night out.

But we all know how this group feels about sharing food, so there’s that.

THE WHY (they will probably see us again)

Despite the slow service and the fun game of dining table musical chairs you have to submit yourself to just to try and get a place to park yourself for your meal, Jojo’s does have a large menu and some decent options. And clearly their system is working for them, as they haven’t gotten any less busy in the five years between out visits. We said it last time and we’ll say it again – it would be a solid option for a take out place, since there’s always something new to try on the menu and you don’t have to take your chances on tables or bar drinks in the process. But really what fun is that?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

(We forgot to take our photos at the restaurant before we left, so thankfully Ted was making a stop for gas at the GetGo down the street. You’re welcome to the other drivers who got to witness our seemingly random photo session with the pizza box)

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Shane