WTGW 11/1/17: The Brew Kettle, Hudson

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Hey, we remember this place, only the last time we were here it was called Varsity. And that was, like, a year ago. When did that place close? I missed that memo somehow.

Needless to say The Brew Kettle – which has locations in Strongsville and Amherst that have been in operation for some time – has only been open in Hudson for a hot minute. They even still had the Grand Opening signage up, although we all know in restaurant terms the time span of a “grand opening” is similar to some stores starting to promote Christmas just after Labor Day.

We were a party of five tonight as Cassi’s fiancé Jason had a rare night off school. With the larger party, it was somewhat impressive that it only took us about 20 minutes to get seated – not bad considering: 1) this is still a new place, and 2) it’s fairly small inside. Like smaller than the time we were here when it was Varsity. I’m not certain, but it seems like they actually eliminated seating since those days. Interesting business move, no?

I mean, there’s still the same big bar in the middle of the room, but the number and placement of tables seemed all different – like they eliminated a whole room or something. And, I mean, sure, the last time we were there it didn’t seem like all of the seating was necessary – judging from the sparse crowd on our visit, anyway … and, well, from the fact that that place closed, so clearly those crowds didn’t increase. But looking around at the more than full crowd on a random Wednesday night shortly after opening … let’s just say that they might eventually want to rethink that decision.

Anyway.

At least we were able to get drinks from the bar while we waited. There are lots of craft beers here, many of them their own brews. Shane chose a chocolate milk stout that – for once – actually lived up to the delicious-sounding-ness of it’s name. I avoided beer altogether and chose a pumpkin cider. Hey, it’s officially “pumpkin everything” season, and I haven’t really taken the time to fully appreciate that yet. Step off.

Only thing to note – when you’re in the bar area, the only way to see the names of the beers on tap is to watch the TV screens above the bar. I get that this is a super efficient way of keeping up with an ever-changing menu without having to print new one every week, and I also may be a bit older and not one to pass an eye test with flying colors on a normal day … but seriously can you not print things on tiny screens in miniscule lettering, especially when we’re consuming alcohol? Just a thought.

Once we were finally seated, the server apologized profusely for our wait. Which was nice – I mean, 20 minutes wasn’t super long, but thanks for acknowledging that we weren’t able to just stride right in and sit down to dinner? OK. Guess that says something about the usual wait time there on a weeknight. Or maybe we just looked like starved wolves who haven’t had a meal in weeks, since she said more than once that “we must be hungry” and “I’ll get your food orders in quick to make up for the table wait.” Thanks??

Since we had to live up to our ravenous reputation, Shane and I went for jalepeno corn bread as an app, while Cassi and Jason opted for the pretzels. Ted ordered … nothing. Wait, what? Who is this imposter allowed to infringe on our table?

In retrospect, that was a wise decision. More on that later.

Mmm, a whole loaf of bread just for us

Beer cheese overflowing

The Brew Kettle features lots of different things on the menu that you don’t see other places. Like barbequed spaghetti. That’s a new one. Or burgers made from either bison, lamb or chorizo. Again, not your standard brewery fare.

Shane asked the server what was good on the menu and she actually listed off a numer of things she liked, instead of just the generic “everything is good.” She specifically mentioned the various BBQ items, as well as the different types of burgers.

I decided to try out one of those different burgers – the chorizo one – and chose for my side the “potato de jour,” which tonight was a creamy red potato with some sauce that I’m not sure now what exactly it was, but it sounded good when it was described to me.

This place clearly believes that foods should not touch one another

And it was. Far better than the burger, if I’m being honest. I’m not sure if it was because it was made with chorizo – which usually I love as a compliment to pasta or pizza – or because it was charred on the outside, but the whole sandwich just tasted burnt. I mean, it was spicy, like chorizo is meant to be … and the few internal pieces I dug out seemed to taste OK. But by the time it was all said and done it wasn’t worth doing surgery on my dinner just to extract a few edible morsels.

Cassi ordered the fish and chips, with sweet potato fries and an extra side of mac and cheese. She said the fries and the mac and cheese were her favorite things.

Fried goodness

How can pasta and cheese ever not be good together?

So far we’re 0-2 on our main courses. Maybe this is another of those places where we need to come and just order apps and sides, and forget sandwiches and dinners?

Jason got the chicken parm sandwich with the sweet potato fries. He didn’t say much about either of those things, but he did finish them so I guess that says something, no?

Now that’s a sandwich

Rounding out the bunch, food twins Shane and Ted opted for the Triple Pig sandwich. Which is a 12-inch sandwich full of smoked pork loin, pulled pork and bacon. And then grilled up Cuban style.

I’m honestly a bit full just thinking about all of that.

Triple pig + sides, stacked

I’m trying not to think about how many pigs were killed to make both Shane’s and Ted’s meal

Shane also got the fried green beans as a side, and then tried to order something called “Santana fries,” which he swore that Cassi had just ordered with her meal. Uh, yeah, that was “sweet potato,” but close.

Shane said his sandwich was very dry. He was looking around the table for basically any condiment he could find to put on the meat. I thought at one point he might just dip it directly into his beer or water glass. He ate almost half, then took the rest home – where undoubtedly he’ll empty the fridge of any BBQ sauce we own as he tries to finish it off.

He also said the fried green beans had too much breading. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Shane complain that he wanted MORE vegetable and LESS fried stuff, so this is definitely new.

Ted, on the other hand, ate his whole sandwich. The entire thing. And his cole slaw side. And then admitted later that maybe this wasn’t the best choice, since he was uncomfortably full by the time we left the restaurant.

Guess he knew what he was doing when he skipped out on that whole appetizer thing, though.

Overall, The Brew Kettle is a nice little brewery, although probably more our style for just apps and drinks in the future than for a full meal. They offer flights of beers so that you can try several of the crafts – and the tables have actual papers with descriptions so that you don’t have to rely on those TV screens once you sit down away from the bar. Although it seems they could use a little bit of guidance on how to deliver the flights, since no one at our table – including the server – seemed to be able to clearly identify the small glasses of beer upon arrival. I mean, everyone still drank them, of course – but if you’re encouraging patrons to drink more of a certain kind that they like, you might want to make it easier to identify. Just a thought.

Beer flights. I can’t remember who ordered what – although neither really could anyone

Why are all of Shane’s beers that dark?

I’d be curious to visit after The Brew Kettle is open for a bit and see if it’s still as busy as it was the evening we were there. Or if they do add more seating. Or if this place falls prey to the curse of that location that has already gobbled up at least two other businesses since we’ve lived in this area. Time will tell, I guess.

Picked by: Shane

Steph

Cassi

If you give Jason a minute, he apparently changes his vote

Jason

Ted

Shane

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WTGW 9/9/15: Lager Head’s BBQ Smokehouse & Brewery, Medina

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So, let’s just start this by saying that I’m not sure if it’s a blessing or a punishment that the places we really, really like are no where near our house.

Honestly, though, Lager Head’s is pretty much nowhere near anything. Except horses, large open spaces, and country roads that for once aren’t named “Granger.” This place is seriously like a farmland oasis of BBQ and beer, rising up out of the pastures and cornfields. But very well worth the find.

As the full name suggests, Lager Head’s has their own brewery – so you can expect a seasonally rotating list of craft beers. But they also have bottles of the domestics like Miller Lite and Budweiser, as well as some ciders. And also a full bar and a decent list of seasonal specialty mixed drinks.

I’m sure you’re already seeing why we wish this place was, like, next door to us.

We sat in the bar (duh) and after taking a few minutes to digest the drink menus opted for pretty much going all over the board in our selections. Amanda played it safe and stuck to bottles of Woodchuck Cider. Ted tried a tall High Five IPA, later switching to a short glass of the Bed Head Red. Shane and I chose off of the specialty drink menu, with Shane taking the Southern Tea (described as their version of a Long Island Iced Tea), while I went with the Ginger Hive Five Shandy. My drink was interesting, you could definitely taste the ginger but then the bitters come in on the end and smack you.

Shane’s comment on his drink was just “it’s fucking delicious.”

When it comes in a mason jar, you know it means business

When it comes in a mason jar, you know it means business

Just be forewarned, though, that the prices are not on the drink menus. Ted ended up putting out $14 for that first tall beer, and each of our drinks were like $7. Not saying it wasn’t worth it, but just be warned.

Our server was outstanding. His name was Zach (although Shane swore he heard “Brandon” somehow?? Because we can all see how they’re similar). In any case, he was extremely knowledgeable. When we outed ourselves as virgins to the place, he made a point to tell us how much he loved it there, that it’s one of the best places he’s ever worked (and he said that he’s “worked in a lot of steakhouses”) and that the training program was wonderful. And it obviously worked, because anything we asked him about he had a great response for. You honestly have to love a server who can give honest recommendations and truly tell you about the food instead of just giving the blanket “yeah that’s really good” or “well if you like lettuce then you should probably order a salad” kind of responses.

Now, granted, I will say that Zach’s answer to a lot of “how is the …” questions did come in some form of “really good, one of the best I’ve ever had” – but we didn’t think he was just telling us that to get us to order it, he actually meant it. We actually asked him at one point what he didn’t like there because then we’d know honestly what not to order.

(And just FYI, that would be the fish, the cajun chicken pasta, and basically any salad – because, well, he prefers meat to vegetables if given the choice. So there’s that.)

For an appetizer we chose pretzel sticks. Somewhat hastily, I might add, because we were definitely disappointed later on when Zach was talking about different things on the menu and mentioned something called Boars Tails, which just sounded unique and, quite honestly, amazing. Damn us for gravitating to our safety net pretzel sticks. But at least they were tasty, so while we were disappointed at not trying something new, at least we did like what we got. The sauces were especially delicious. I liked the bier cheese the best, while Shane preferred the spicy mustard.

And this is why we’re married folks. Balance.

His & hers sauces

His & hers sauces

For meals, Ted continued his trend of trying out the “Wednesday special,” and opted for the half chicken dinner. He also got a sampler of the ribs. Because, well, when you’re in a BBQ place it’s almost expected I guess. He said everything was outstanding. And that the only part he couldn’t beleive was that he still watned to eat more after he was done, given what he had just ate.

BBQ heaven

BBQ heaven

Shane got the sampler platter, after hearing Zach describe it and asking him if it would be enough for him to just eat himself as a meal (it’s technically on the appetizer menu). It wasn’t, FYI, but that could be because – well – you’ve seen the caliber of food that man puts away on most WTGW outings. A little bit of ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken wings (so meat, with three sides of meat) actually is an appetizer in comparison to his usual order of a burger and wings. Or an entire cafeteria tray sized pizza. I mean, come on.

But just because it didn’t fill him up didn’t mean he left unhappy. He said it was all delicious. The wings in particular were very good, made so by the hot sauce they were bathed in. He actually saved those for last after sampling the sauce. Also, note that when we talk about wings, these are the actual wings of the chicken. Like the kind you usually see in fried chicken baskets. Buffalo got nothing on these babies.

Plate o' meat

Plate o’ meat

 

Amanda got the brisket sandwich, which was delicious but huge. She also loved the house BBQ sauce, found in bottles on the tables, and doused her sandwich in it. I got the lager melt, which was essentially Amanda’s sandwich but with mushrooms, onions and cheese sauce. It was good but messy – especially after I also added the house BBQ sauce. I had to eat it with a fork, since there was no way I could even begin to think about picking it up.

Are those gang signs in the background?

Are those gang signs in the background?

Look, no deep fried food!

Look, no deep fried food!

I tried to go a tad bit healthier and got the veggies as a side … which was immediately negated by also ordering a side of cornbread. Hey, corn = vegetable, right? Yeah, not in that form. I swear that small cake of cornbread weighed more than a full large mug of beer. Or a small dog.

So that backfired.

 

But, hey, speaking of cake – and since the guys were still hungry after their meals of meat – they actually took Zach up on his offer when he came over asking if anyone wanted dessert. Maybe regrettably so. Before I tell you what they ordered, I’m just going to put this here.

Seriously. It's like David and Goliath.

Seriously. It’s like David and Goliath.

What in the actual hell.

So, yeah, that would be a slice of the malted chocolate caramel pie on the right (ordered by Shane), dwarfed in the shadow of the GIGANTIC SLICE OF CARROT CAKE on the left (ordered by Ted). Now, we all know how much Ted loves carrot cake, evidenced by our visits to both Blue Rock and Gasoline Alley. And to be fair, Zach warned him that the slice was “massive.” But we were in no way prepared for the monstrosity that arrived on the table.

How many carrots were harmed in the making of this cake?

How many carrots were harmed in the making of this cake?

For real.

For real.

Even with Amanda and Shane helping – I only picked at he frosting since I don’t actually like carrot cake – Ted still had enough left over when he threw in the towel to warrant a take home box.

This is what Ted took home. You know, otherwise known as a normal sized slice of cake.

This is what Ted took home. You know, otherwise known as a normal sized slice of cake.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was all very good. Obviously. But wow. I mean, how big is the cake that that thing was born from? The size of our table? How do you even make something that gigantic? Is Andre the Giant back in the kitchen crafting baked goods for people his size? Seriously.

All in all, Lager Head’s is a must visit. And revisit. Ted hit a home run with this one, although it didn’t stop us from reminding him about the Gus’s Chalet Incident for the 8 billionth time. But you’ll have that with this group. I definitely see us going back, especially since we took special note of the Saturday prime rib special, which Zach noted is so popular that it usually sells out withing 30-45 minutes of offering (dinner specials on Saturdays begin at 5:00). I see an afternoon of college football capped off with prime rib dinners in our near future. If any of you all beat us to a table – and don’t let us join you as a thank you for the recommendation – we’re going to have words.

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane, with the super rare Tebow Stamp of Approval

Shane, with the super rare Tebow Stamp of Approval

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  Would like to try the beers, although they didn’t have anything on the fall seasonal list that I was crazy about. I had seen a few online that I thought I would like to try, but they didn’t have them on tap anymore. Stupid fall. 
Food:
Delicious. Although vegetarians probably should just keep driving. I mean, I saw salads on the menu – but who goes to a BBQ restaurant for salad? Really.
Service: Outstanding. It’s refreshing to meet a server who has actually sampled most of the menu, instead of just sight judging what they deliver on plates to other customers. And he had a personality to boot. I feel like we discovered a rarity here.
Overall: Yes. I don’t see myself as a “living in the extreme farmland country” kind of girl, but I kind of think if the house next door to this place came on the market, we might have to seriously consider buying it, just to be near this place every day.

Next Pick:  Shane

Lagerheads Smokehouse & Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato