WTGW 8/9/17: Brewster’s Tavern, Munroe Falls

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Once upon a time we visited a place called Brewsters, tucked back just off Rt 91 in Twinsburg. This is not the same place. But oddly this Brewsters (with no website, just a Facebook page) is also on Rt 91, just further south, a few towns away. I wonder if they’re friends. Or if people in that area just are really, really unoriginal with names.

This Brewsters is also just down the road from Lemongrass Grill, which is another place I had semi-forgotten about but that seriously begs a revisit from us. It was also my backup plan if this Brewsters had looked a little sketch from the moment we entered the parking lot.

Fortunately we didn’t have to worry. While it didn’t end up at the top of our must-revisit list, Brewsters is one of those places that I could see us stopping in at if we happened to be in the area and wanted to grab a quick bite or a drink. We joked that if we lived in the house next door – whose side windows face the open kitchen door – we would likely just yell our orders over every evening. And weigh 400lbs, but that’s a whole other story.

This place is very small – in fact, it reminded me immediately of my last pick, Manchester Tavern. Is it bad that all my picks are starting to resemble one another? I may need to get off of the bar and grill train.

In any case, like Manchester Tavern, the place is sort of split between two areas – at the front, a bar area with seats around it and a small area for high top tables, and at the back a secluded dining room that no one seems to ever actually use. In between are the kitchen, restrooms – and in the case of Brewsters, a series of doors we aren’t really certain on the purpose of.

It’s like they’re trying to make wood paneling out of doors

Ted even tried on our way out to open all three of them. They were locked. Secrets build walls, people. Also, don’t tempt drunk people to procure their own lock pickers.

Once again our lives resemble this show

There’s also a door that leads out to the parking lot and patio, as well as a totally separate door about 5 feet to the side of it that leads also to the patio … and parking lot. I mean, it’s a small patio. Two doors is a bit overkill. But compared to the three on the opposite wall inside that lead to nowhere, I guess it works.

Anyway.

While we’re noticing doors, Shane was quick to point out that at least the men’s room was very clearly marked. I think this will begin to be a part of the rating curve after last week.

No camouflage here

There was a decent mix of crafts and domestics on draft. Shane got his usual Bud Lite, I had the Fat Head’s Bumbleberry, and Ted went with something called Truth. Take that as you will.

All beers arrived in glasses so cold they had ice forming on the side. Another plus on Shane’s list.

Now that’s a cold beer

Once again we flabbergasted (or maybe just annoyed?) a server with the amount of food three people can order and attempt to fit on one small table. We’re getting good at this. I think as we kept adding more and more to our order she was mentally contemplating the ratio of the number of sheets remaining on her pad of paper versus what remained on the menu that we may still want to shovel down our throats.

The aftermath. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew

Shane and I started out with breaded mushrooms – which, honestly, arrived seemingly missing a few pieces. There just didn’t seem to be as many in the basket as I had anticipated or imagined in my head that there would be. But they did arrive straight from that oven strategically placed on the surface of the sun, so score for us I guess. And of course I let hunger cloud my judgement in reaching for one a mere two minutes after they were set on the table in front of me. I’d like to say I learned my lesson and won’t do that again … but we all know that’s not true. Stay tuned next week for another exciting episode of “what will idiot Steph scald the roof of her mouth with this week.”

Even worse, that pain wasn’t even for something amazing. The mushrooms were just OK. My main gripe was with the breading, which I was glad was not as hard as last week’s adventure with cauliflower, but conversely it seemed a little on the mushy side. It’s like we’re stuck in some Goldilocks and the Three Bears vortex of fried vegetables. Fingers crossed that next week will be the “just right” we’ve been waiting for.

Too few and too soft

I got the Big Daddy Wrap, which is basically two burger patties inside a wrap – not chopped up, mind you, but just laid on the wrap and rolled up, which seemed odd – along with lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles and sauce. I’m a sucker for these kind of warps, and I’m happy to say this one didn’t disappoint. It was very filling – like I was physically uncomfortable after eating the whole thing – and the flavor was delicious. It was messy, but most good things are, right?

This is how you wrap up deliciousness

I also got a basket of fries, which were totally unnecesary considering the size of the wrap and also the fact that we had an app as well. Can we just talk for a moment about how to some degree it should be the server’s job to potentially warn us against these things? Like maybe she could warn me that the wrap is really like eating two thin burger patties in one sitting, and maybe I should take my hunger vision off for a minute and contemplate what that really means? Or, when I specifically ask if the wrap comes with anything as a side, she could mention that no, because you won’t need all that food, sweetie? Just a thought. I mean, do a girl a solid here. Unless you want to be in charge of rolling me out one of the myriad of doors later.

These were pointless

Also, so I ask if the sandwich comes with anything and she says no … so I order a basket of fries from the app menu. It’s $2.95, whatever. Well later, upon further inspection of the menu, I see that you can add a side of fries to any wrap or burger for like $1.50. So, OK, that slipped your mind when I asked? Like why have me order a whole separate basket, when you could say hey, pigalicious, maybe you just want the side for $1.50 (and about 4 billion calories) less?

Right.

Moving on.

Shane got the Blue Bacon Burger. I’ll give you three guesses what was on that, and if you don’t say bacon or bleu cheese then you should probably just leave this blog right now and never come back. He said it was very good. So in case you lost your “Shane’s Scale of Deliciousness” decoder ring, that means he really liked it. To translate, Shane’s rating system has three levels: good, very good, or Top 5. So this was a step above the usual, but not so good that it made his ubiquitous Top 5.

There’s a burger under that bun, I swear

He also said that even though they hadn’t asked how he wanted it cooked (usually a telltale sign that either it’s a frozen patty and will be very thin – which this wasn’t – or that they just cook everything medium well to avoid having to put anything back on the grill for those that freak out at the sight of red meat) – but it was still done just how he likes it.

He also got 10 of the boneless wings, which were on special (along with a side of fries) for $6.95. He chose cajun as the seasoning. He said they were OK, nothing special.

Looks similar to last week’s breaded cauliflower

His food twin Ted was only going to get five of the regular wings, but once he heard Shane was getting 10 he couldn’t be outdone and had to change his order. He got 10 of the sweet spicy chili, which he said were OK but didn’t have a lot in the way of spice. The sweet was there, but it appears that the spice missed its Uber on the way to the party. He actually thought maybe they would be better off being renamed “sweet and sticky” wings, since by the end of the meal he ended up with bits of napkin stuck to his hands after vigorous attempts to remove the sauce from his fingers. He had to go wash his hands so as not to glue himself to the table.

Sweet not spicy

Good thing that restroom was clearly marked. I mean, you don’t want hands like that touching all those random doorknobs around the place.

Sadly, the twinsies broke tradition of matching food orders this week, as Ted bypassed the burger in favor of a Cajun Chicken Wrap – saying just that he’d been eating a lot of burgers lately and needed something different. Understandable.

That almost looks healthy. Almost

He said it was good, but just like me he was a bit mystified about the lack of a side – or even the offer from the server to add anything on to the sandwich. Clearly someone needs to train her on the art of upselling. I mean, hello, we’re already ordering ALL THE FOOD, you think $1.50 for a side of fries is going to scare us off? Please.

Let’s look at that table again. Do you think you have to twist our arms to order food here?

At some point in the meal the cook appeared from the kitchen and walked over by our table, then through the door on the wall right next to us. Yet another mystery door in this place. Which we noticed was adorned with a sign advertising Ted’s beer.

Turns out it was just the walk-in cooler, but it sounds better to say that the “door to truth” comes with a cool draft as it closes, no?

Cold hard truth

Brewster’s is a decent little (emphasis on little) place. Ted said that he thought it would make a great lunch spot as opposed to dinner. He cited the fact that you have to add on sides to the burgers and wraps, and how you have to order multiple things just to get a full meal … which apparently in his world would be less annoying at an earlier meal of the day. OK.

But regardless, it’s one of those nice neighborhood bars, where you know the people from the houses and streets nearby stop in to grab a quick bite or watch a game with friends. FYI, that pretty much makes it the template for a place I would like to have appear at the end of our street or in our immediate neighborhood. Just putting that out in the universe.

Which, while that wouldn’t be easy on our waistlines, it would be relatively easy on our wallets, considering our experience tonight. Mine and Shane’s bill was $41, which included a burger, a wrap, a side of fries, a basket of 10 wings with fries, an app, two bud lite drafts and one craft beer draft. Not too shabby. I mean, Shane and Ted were both quick to point out that it was no $7.00 10oz steak special like last week … but then again few places can rival that frugality in our book. Don’t be surprised if Shane’s weekly picks now rotate between revisits to The Dougout, Caddyshack Inn and a random pizza parlor. Mark my words.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

Ted

Shane

Steph

WTGW 8/2/17: The Dougout, Richfield

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Ah, The Dougout. Why have we avoided you all this time? I’m sure we had a reason at some point … and if I had to guess I would say it had something to do with a rumor we heard somewhere when we mentioned the name of the place, probably accompanied by that weird scrunchy face people make when we speak the name of some bar/restaurant they wouldn’t set foot in. But, hey, we’re rebels like that. And I have to admit we’ve visited some rather undesirable locations over the years (including places where shootings happen a few weeks after our visit), so we’ve seen that look a lot. But we’re still alive, so our choices can’t be all that bad, right?

Yeah, maybe don’t answer that.

In any case, at this point we’re wiping the slate clean on The Dougout. And we will rebuke your scrunchy face if you try to make it at us.

Let’s just start out by mentioning that Shane and Ted were on board with the place before we ever walked in the door, as the sign outside touting a 10oz steak for $7.00 got their full and immediate attention. Always a sucker for the frugal meat specials, those two.

Speaking of meat specials, this table tent got Ted’s attention as soon as we sat down. We all know he loves “meat on a stick.” 

We know where to find Ted on Fridays from here on out

So The Dougout is definitely a small place. And while none of us were expecting the Ritz by any means, I think we were all pleasantly surprised at what met us beyond the front door. There’s nothing to scrunch your face at. It’s basically your run of the mill dive bar, complete with a large bar on one side of the room and a handful of scattered tables on the other.

It’s seat yourself, and the place was fairly busy so we snagged a 4-top near the door. The server came around quickly to get our drink orders, at which point Ted did his usual “tell me about your dark beers” interrogation. He was told there was nothing dark on tap (options there included Miller Lite, Miller High Life and something else unimpressive to Ted), but he was welcome to walk up and peruse the cooler for bottles, which he happily did and settled on an Edmund Fitzgerald.

Surprisingly Shane bypassed the can of Hamm’s for $1.00 and chose the large draft of Miller Lite. But he was clearly happy to have discovered the sign.

He loves him some Hamms

Meanwhile, I went with a mixed drink, which arrived in a large plastic cup similar to what you normally get soft drinks in. I like this place already.

On to food. This exchange says a lot:
Shane to Ted, as they perused the menu: What are you ordering?
Ted: Uh, I think the steak special and wings
Me: My god, you two are like twins

So, yeah, it’s obviously no surprise that they each got the steak special – that was established before we even got out of the car. They also each got six wings – garlic pepper parm for Shane and Cajun BBQ for Ted.

$7 worth of happiness

Twinsies

Can we just talk for a minute about these plates? Old. School. Like between all of us, you know someone has eaten off plates similar to these at their Grandma’s house at some point in their lives. Admit it. I believe the kids call that “retro” these days … but really we’re pretty sure this place has probably just had those same plates in circulation since about 1984.

And maybe the years of constant steak delivery have helped build a marinade of sorts, as both Ted and Shane agreed that their steaks had good flavor. Especially for less than the cost of a side dish at some fancy steakhouses. The steaks did look a touch on the small side – I mean, I’m not sure they actually throw them on a scale to be sure each one is a full 10oz, but hey, at $7 you could order two and still pay less than what you would at some other places.

Shane: that was the best $7 steak I’ve ever had
Ted: I’ll drink to that

That’s high praise, folks.

Once the red meat and fries were out of the way, the boys moved on to the wings. Ted thought the sauce on his wings was good. He described it as “sweet and a little bit spicy.” But he also said that the meat was tough and a bit hard to bite into and chew. His usual “three bites and swallow” technique apparently didn’t work this time around.

Glazed and confused

For the record, this is the first I heard about Ted having a designated technique for wing consumption, but you know I’m going to be watching him a little more closely from here on out.

Ted did give them the benefit of the doubt, though, and said maybe the wait time of eating that portion of the meal last had caused the BBQ sauce to congeal a touch, thus upping the difficulty level. He’s thoughtful like that.

Shane didn’t really give an opinion on his meal(s) since he was so hungry that he pretty much inhaled his food without actually tasting it. But he said he was “pretty sure it was good.” He did say he didn’t agree with Ted on the wing texture, though, saying that his were easy to eat and the sauce was good. Although he probably devoured them a good 10 minutes before Ted even touched his, so Ted’s theory may have some weight after all.

Apparently these tasted better than they looked

I got the Favorite Burger, which was a burger covered in mushrooms, onions and Swiss cheese. It was very good, definitely hand made, although perhaps just a little overdone for my requested “medium.” I didn’t like that the bun was overly toasted, so I gave that to bottomless-pit-Shane to buzz through. But the flavor of the burger was definitely good, as long as I remember to ask for medium rare next time.

Also, while I didn’t get one of Grandma’s plates, the fact that the burger arrived to our table so fresh from the grill that when I cut it in half about five minutes later steam poured from the middle of the sandwich was enough to make up for that.

This meal clearly isn’t fancy enough for a plate

We also started off with breaded cauliflower for our appetizer. We probably should’ve gotten the breaded mushrooms, too, since the order of cauliflower turned out to be a bit smaller than anticipated, and each order was only like $4 – but live and learn I guess. Let our failure be your advantage.

Shane thought the breading was a little hard – but I also think the technique here was more “pour from a bag kept in the freezer” than “hand dipped and breaded,” so there’s probably not much that could’ve been done about that. Ted’s comment upon trying one was “well, it’s fried cauliflower, what really do you want from it?” Take that as you will.

Our favorite kind of “health” food

All in all, The Doug Out is a fun place that we’ll definitely return to. They had baseball on the TV, although without sound … and honestly until someone started up the jukebox the atmosphere was more like we were actually dining in the home that those plates belonged during a family dinner than the raucous dive/motorcycle bar we’d always thought the place to be. But once the jukebox finally started up the atmosphere improved 1000%.

Also, as if Shane couldn’t be any happier with his $7 steak and a giant beer(s) … the almost entirely country music song list may have just put him into an “I’m never leaving this bar” state of euphoria.

One word of caution for all the guys out there … the location of the door to the men’s room falls under the category of something that might be one of the world’s greatest mysteries. To this day, I can’t tell you where it is, and I was told of the general direction to look as I made my way to the (very clearly marked) ladies room. If you can find it on the first try without asking a server or regular, I think maybe you get a prize. Or at least you should. Perhaps a mismatched set of salt and pepper shakers?

One of these things is not like the other

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

Doug Out Pub & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/19/17: ATTEMPT – Woody’s / REVISIT – The Lockview, Akron

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Alternate title: The Night We Struck Out At Pretty Much Everything.

Sounds fun, right?

Ironically the evening started out pretty promising. Ted’s choice for this week was a new place that had just opened up in downtown Akron called Woody’s Bar. He said it was so new, there were only like five reviews available for it online … but all of them were positive, so that has to be good, right?

Now … he also admitted that there was a possibility that the stellar reviews came from the owner’s friends, relatives and fellow workers … but whatever, if the owner hasn’t poisoned those people yet then it seems like a good chance we would at least walk away unscathed.

So we pull up in front of Woody’s, just as the two parking spaces on the street immediately in front of the place open up. Jack. Pot. It was like watching the heavens opening to reveal a glorious rainbow. Well, at least to a girl like me, anyway, who sports heels for 97% of our Wednesday adventures and was having visions of walking five miles from a parking deck to access this place.

Ladies, you know the feeling.

In any case, we thought we had won the WTGW lottery. I mean, how can this NOT be a good night?

Ha.

So we walk in – and the place looks great. It’s definitely small, but there are plenty of TVs, what appeared to be a door to a patio at the far back of the space, and lots of beer on tap/in the coolers. Although, at this point I will say that my one complaint would be that they didn’t offer much in bottles or drafts outside of beer. Full bar, yes, and plenty of local craft beers … but when I asked about ciders they only had what I refer to as the “Bud Light of Ciders” (not to be confused with the Champagne of Beers, mind you), Angry Orchard. Booo. I swear bars only stock that so that they can point to it when asked if they have anything other than beer. Is it so much to ask for a Mackenzie’s or a Crispin every now and then?

Sorry, rant over.

Anyway, Ted orders his beer, and while Shane and I are figuring out what we want to drink (refer to the soapbox above), Ted asks for menus.

This, folks, is where the night took a sharp turn. One minute you think you’ve lucked out by getting a parking spot on the street right in front of the establishment and seats at the uncrowded bar … and then ten minutes the bartender utters the sentence that changes the course of the night …

“Our kitchen doesn’t open until 9:00.”

Wait, what now? That seems an odd time to begin serving food, no? I mean, I’m all about places that keep their kitchens open late – especially in a college town – but just beginning dinner service at 9PM seems a bit peculiar.

Well, by stroke of (our incredibly bad) luck, it seems that the one night we picked to visit was the same night that one of the cooks chose to call off. Lucky us! It’s like finding out you won the lottery and are handed a fistful of Monopoly money instead of real cash.

Also, can we just talk for a minute about the staffing at this place? I mean, you’re new, I get that … but if your lunch cook is there at the time that your 4PM cook calls off, and you have another one scheduled to come in at 9PM … can you not work it out somehow so that lunch guy stays over and 9PM comes in early, and then you don’t miss out on the dinner crowd? I mean, that seems to me to be about the most important time to have someone in the kitchen serving up the burgers and chips that Ted said he saw rave reviews about.

Especially since there are huge signs and banners outside the restaurant saying “NOW SERVING FOOD.” Maybe we should’ve helped him out and put a “T” over the “W” on those, just for this evening.

Anyway, since it was only 7PM and of course we were too hungry to wait two hours to even think about eating, Ted gulped his beer and off we went. We’ll call this Strike #1 of the evening. I won’t ruin the surprise with the number we ended up at by the time we headed home.

And thus how we ended up at Plan B for tonight:  The Lockview, a place we visited back once again in the age before this blog – I believe the week after we’d initially visited Whitey’s. 2013 was a pretty happening summer, y’all. 

I mean, come on. We’re wearing paper umbrellas in our hair. That came from our sandwiches, not our drinks. #cuttingedge

Here’s what we took away from that visit back in 2013: The Lockview was really dark inside, we heard rumor that there was a great rooftop patio but when we visited it was too cold to go up (thus proving that Mother Nature and I have been locked in battle for quite some time now) … but by far the most reminisced memory was this:

WTF

That’s right, when we ordered the chips and dip from the menu, they literally set down in front of us a basket of chips poured from a bag and a plastic tub of Lawson’s chip dip. It’s like being at Grandma’s house and she serves up a snack for you and your friends after school. The joke became what poor soul had to make the trip down to the convenience store to pick up tubs of dip because they forgot to make more.

And we always said we would go back, if nothing else just to see if that was truly the case, or if serving dip straight from the container was just their “thing.”

And the verdict is …

Do they have stock in this brand or what?

Yep, it must be a thing, because four years later this is still the way it arrives at your table. Although we did notice that the menu now specifically says you get a “tub of real Lawson’s chip dip,” so I have to believe we weren’t the only patrons to think it was a little odd.

Also, the server told us she was leaving the lid so we could “take home whatever dip was left over.” Please. Clearly you’ve never met us. As if.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

We still didn’t get to check out the aforementioned and critically acclaimed “fantastic patio” on this visit, since once again Mother Nature has confused Ohio with the tropics and delivered us 90 degree heat with 1000% humidity on a Wednesday. Awesome, thanks.

But being inside kind of felt like outside at least, since this time around they actually seemed to find the light switch to the dining room. Cheers to that. That was the first thing we noticed that was different about the place since 2013.

The second thing was that The Lockview seemed to have transformed into a hipster joint in the past four years since our initial visit, complete with crazy loud jazzy music and an entire novel of craft beer on the menu.

Fantastic. (Be sure you read that in your sarcastic voice.)

The server irritated us right from the start, when we said we needed A minute to look at the novel of a drink menu after we sat down … and he gave us about 20. We’re confused, not illiterate, thanks. He even made a show of fluffing tablecloths at the table behind us instead of coming over to take our orders, when ample time had passed for us to have made our decisions. OK, showoff. I get that you’re super important and we disrupted your flow of order taking. Calm it.

Finally he graced us with his presence, and Ted ordered something he had gone up and tasted at the bar (yes, Ted had time to go do his own personal beer tasting at the bar – that should help put a time stamp on the moments that elapsed between his first greeting of us and when he returned from his tablecloth straightening adventures). I tried to order a raspberry wheat that was on the “draught” board … and was told they were all out of that, but the replacement was some strawberry shortcake something or other. Fine, whatever. I’m just thirsty at this point.

Although that’s technically strike #2 for the evening.

Shane ordered the grapefruit shandy, and the server walked away … only to return a few minutes later to say they were out of that, too. And thus followed strikes #3 through about #27 as Shane attempted to order a drink.

Remember how I said last week that Ted was the new curse holder for the “sorry we’re out of that” line? Yeah, it somehow must’ve transferred to Shane in the past week. With a vengeance.

I took a tiny bit of solice in the fact that I think a part of our hipster server’s soul died a little when Shane tried to just be simple and pick a Bud Light – which of course they don’t serve there (the server noted to us rather haughtily). Right. Silly commoners. Fine. Shane finally settled with a Brooklyn Summer Ale, although he didn’t really know what it was he was ordering and may have been just closing his eyes and pointing to a name on the menu at that point. Let’s just say it wasn’t his favorite.

Moving on to food (which we ordered at the same time as the drinks, because we knew by now that it could be another three hours before we saw the server again) – in addition to the legendary chips and dip, we also got an order of the sweet potato fries.

Probably the healthiest thing on our table this evening

They were hot and well seasoned – you don’t even need the butter and cinnamon sugar dipping sauce that most places serve them with … which is a good thing, because they don’t serve that dip with these fries here. Because why would they.

Lockview is known for their grilled cheese, and there is little else on the menu other than that. Umm … someone else please tell me they see the irony in Ted being the one in the group to choose not only this place but also Melt – the two places in the area that feature predominantly cooked cheese on the menu? I think he secretly eats blocks of cheese at home but just pretends to hate it when we’re out.

I got the #7, which was grilled cheese with roasted red peppers and portabello mushrooms. And of course, I opted for tater tots as a side – because, well, me.

I seem to remember wearing that paper umbrella last visit

It was pretty good. I mean, these sandwiches definitely don’t go the way of Melt’s presentation where a giant sandwich dripping with cheese and fillings arrives in front of you and you have to figure out how to tackle it … but it was definitely enough to fill me up. The bread was good, with just enough butter on it and not too overdone, and the veggies inside were toasted just right. I could’ve done without the tots, though – which is something you very rarely hear me say. They were too crispy. You know when I leave some on the plate at the end of the meal I was not thrilled with them.

Shane got the #2,  which included pepper jack cheese and sliced jalapenos. Seems like a solid combination. He got his with fries.

It looks so small and unassuming. Also note the beer list in the background that remained on our table the entire evening.

He really liked the sandwich. He said his was overly buttered, which is just the way he likes it. Healthy Shane has apparently left the building.

Ted, of course, kept up his cheese-hating front and ordered one of the seven or so sandwich options that are not grilled cheese, the panko crusted chicken sandwich. He also chose the tots.

I don’t think he even had to ask for no cheese on this one

His sandwich was good – he thought he remembered that that was exactly what he got the last time we came (of course he can remember, probably because it was one of the few items without cheese) and it was still just as good. And he liked the sweet potato fries. But that was about all he liked about the evening.

Shane’s beer woes continued, so much so that I lost count of how many strikes we were up to by mid-way through our meals. It became like a game of fetch – Shane would pick out the name of a beer, the server would look concerned and go back to check to see if they were out, then return and usually say try again.

He finally won with a habenero ale. Which, while that sounds delightful all in itself, was made even more so by the fact that the bottle arrived at a lovely room temperature. Mmmm. Warm spicy ale. Delicious. I guess even though the server claimed it was one of the last ones and that they don’t restock it that often because (surprise!) not many people order it, instead of chilling out at the very back of some cooler it instead seems to get exiled to the stock shelf with the cans of real habeneros. Sure, that’s a plan. I mean, at least the server did bring over a chilled glass, although that probably breaks some hipster server code of ethics – but whatever, nice attempt anyway.

Warm beer that tastes like hot peppers. I can’t believe this isn’t flying off the shelves.

Me – so you have jalapenos on your sandwich and habaneros in your beer?
Shane – yeah, that’s probably not the best choice

Of course we all had to try this mysterious beer – which definitely had a spicy kick to it. I mean, it wasn’t Ted after the “hey, eat this habanero” incident of a few years ago … but it gets you. Let’s just say it’s not something you want to guzzle a six pack of after a hard day or anything like that. One was enough.

Speaking of enough, we’d had about all we could take of the blaring hipster jazz music about 10 minutes after we sat down. Either Shaft was playing DJ for the night, or someone’s Dad is going to be upset when he realizes he’s missing the “funky 70’s car chase music” album from his collection.

Strike #4,869.

Which, as you can probably guess, leads to The Lockview pretty much adding up to one giant strikeout for us. Even the novelty of the Lawson’s plastic tub of chip dip couldn’t save it for us this time around. While our sandwiches were decent, it was nothing we absolutely would have a reason to come back for – especially considering the other factors of awful service, horrible atmosphere and numerous unavailable beverages. I mean, at what point do you just suck it up and print a new menu? Or re-write the listing on the wall above the bar? Or maybe, just maybe, order some new stock?

The one thing Ted did commend our server on was warning Shane on the price when he tried to take a chance and order some interesting sounding, and I think fruit flavored, mead – which of course they were out of anyway, shocker – but a $14.50 charge for a can of beer would’ve been rather unexpected and unwelcome had that actually been one of the ones that did show up at our table. But beyond that, we weren’t impressed.

This sign still exists at The Lockview, as does my original caption that “the kitchen may be open, but the staff unfortunately was not.”

We even had to make a stop at Insomnia Cookies on the way out of downtown, just to try and end the evening with a win by drowning our experience in ice cream and sugar. Or maybe we were just trying to relive the three pounds of frozen yogurt evening in downtown Kent. Because all memorable evenings end with mixing copious amounts of sugar and dairy with alcohol, no?

But hey – it was about 9PM by then, and Woody’s was across the street from Insomnia Cookies … maybe we shoud’ve just restarted the whole evening over by going in there again and trying to order another dinner? It could be like Groundhog Day, WTGW style.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Shane

Steph

Ted

 

The Lockview Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/12/14: Manchester Tavern, Portage Lakes

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This place has been on my radar for a little bit now, thanks to a finely tuned and ultra precise choosing mechanism I use at times called Google Maps. Cutting edge, all day long here, folks.

Or maybe I just have too much time on my hands some days and am at a loss for a new pick. You decide.

Manchester Tavern doesn’t have a website, which is usually a bit of a deterrent … because, you know, you hate to drive 25 minutes to a place only to discover they’ve converted it into a senior citizens’ billiards hall or a throwback 70’s disco club sometime since the last Yelp review. Not that either one of those couldn’t be awesome, but when you’re expecting a good bar burger and some wings it’s a bit of a letdown to have to play a round of pool with Uncle Johnny before you’re allowed to leave and find a real restaurant.

But since Manchester Tavern does have a recently updated Facebook page, and a wealth of good reviews from within the past few months, I figured it was safe.

There were several cars and motorcycles in the lot when we pulled up, although the place is so tiny that really it seems now like a rather disproportionate number and I’m not sure where all of those people could’ve been hiding. Perhaps on the large patio space – I swear it could be bigger than the actual interior – which we avoided since it was about four billion percent humidity outside with a slight threat of rain.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for once again turning NEOhio into a tropical rain forest on the one evening of the week we actually venture out in search of great patios. You’re awesome.

The menu at Manchester Tavern is relatively small (which makes it somewhat baffling as to why it’s not available online anywhere, since it wouldn’t take up much space) and mostly bar food – wings, burgers, fried appetizers and a few other sandwiches. There’s also the random steak dinner, fish dinner … and my favorite, the 21-piece shrimp platter. Because nothing says living on the edge quite like trusting raw seafood served out of a bar kitchen that primarily consists of deep fryers, no?

Yeah, I’ll pass.

Not surprisingly, the drink menu was even smaller than the food menu, so Shane went back to his standard Bud Light draft, and I went with a tequila and soda. Ted ordered an IPA that the server suggested … but was out of luck when she returned a few minutes later saying they unfortunately were all out. Jack and coke it is. And I guess Ted is now the proud owner of the “sorry, we ran out of that drink” curse. Sorry, my friend.

There was a debate at our table about who would order what appetizer, as we all gravitated to the southwestern egg rolls – but of course we can’t all logistically share one appetizer, because, well, we all like food too much. So Ted said if we ordered that one then he apparently had a “back up plan.” Shane and I jumped on that offer and ordered the egg rolls as our app. Ted’s backup plan, meanwhile, was apparently a whole meal – 12 wings. Because, of course it was.

Let’s just say that the server was never really sure when she could safely put her notepad away while we were ordering because we just kept adding on more food. Shocking, I know.

Let’s tally it up … our final total for the table was five meals (two orders of wings, a sandwich, a burger, and the steak dinner) and an app (the egg rolls). Plus the dinner salad that came with the steak dinner. Totally logical for three people, no?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thank you metabolism for not making any or all of us individually 400+ pounds yet thanks to these adventures.

Anyway.

In case you were taking guesses on who ordered what above, let’s play a little game to see how well you know your WTGW crew, shall we? I own up to the sandwich, which was the Tavern Hoagie. We already know that Ted got 12 wings (Cajun), and he also ordered the burger, which was called the “Brunch Burger.” That leaves Shane with the other order of wings (garlic parm, but only six … he’s trying to cut back), and the 10oz steak dinner.

Any winners? I’ll make you a ribbon.

Shane:  We’re on the high protein diet
Server:  What will you do with all the bread then?
Shane:  No, I’m kidding, we just like food

We joked when the girl came out from the kitchen with all of our meals that she was probably expecting to see about six people sitting at our table. Surprise!

The egg rolls turned out to be an excellent choice. Although I think they were delivered straight from the surface of the non-existent sun outside, as I about lost two fingertips when I hungrily reached for them too quickly after they first arrived. Clearly the fryers are set to the right temperature. But they were worth the wait for them to cool off – and the momentary loss of feeling in my fingers – as the taste was excellent. The chipotle ranch dipping sauce made it even better.

My fingers will never forget you, egg rolls

The Tavern Hoagie was pretty good. It’s basically copied straight from the Mr. Hero Romanburger playbook – a few thinner burger patties, ham, salami, lettuce, tomato, etc on a sub bun. Or, in this case, a glorified hot dog bun, but whatevs. It wasn’t quite the same as it’s fast food counterpart, but still tasty. The patties were pretty thin, but there was enough other stuff on the sub to make that kind of unnoticeable.

I also got my sandwich with jojos instead of regular French fries, which was an excellent choice – even thought they appeared to be cooked in the same seven billion degree setting as the egg rolls. But again it was worth the wait, as they were perfectly cooked – crispy on the outside and mushy on the inside.

Fryer still works

Ted was two bites into his burger when he declared that he “wasn’t sure if it was necessarily Top Five material, but it had to be at least close.” In case you haven’t been following along with us, that’s high praise right there, kids. I’m not sure I even knew Ted had a Top Five list until that moment, but to have this burger show up and walk right into the midst before he was even halfway done eating it is pretty much the equivalent of getting your first driver’s license and then heading over to the track to take the crown at the Indy 500.

Seated across from Ted, Shane was slightly jealous of all of the grease flowing off of the burger at every bite. Kind of like when we went to The Game and Ted got the giant heart attack on a plate that they call a burger while “healthy Shane” essentially ate a salad.

Speaking of salad, Shane’s meal came with one, but he dug into it before I was able to even get a hand on my camera to take a photo of it. He may have been a little hungry. Or maybe he was just tired of rules after our adventures last week. Regardless, it looked pretty standard – you know, lettuce and vegetables in a bowl. Kinda hard to mess that up … but yet manage to create one of Ted’s favorite burgers of all time, ya think?

And maybe it was jealousy over the burger, but Shane said his steak was just OK. I mean, we are in a bar, too, so expect what you will for an $11 steak.

There’s a steak under all those fries, I promise

As for the wings, Ted said his were OK – but they definitely didn’t match up to the burger. He had asked the server for the hottest ones on the menu, and she told him to go at first with the Buffalo – but then switched to Cajun because something about them being breaded and grilled then fried … I think? I didn’t quite hear the full explanation clearly, but whatever it was it persuaded Ted, so there’s that. Unfortunately they weren’t the hottest he’d ever had by a long shot. Maybe she thought he meant hot as in temperature, not flavor … and that whole grilling and frying thing seemed like it would make them hotter that way? Just speculating.

Meanwhile, Shane took offense to the menu declaration of “the best wings in town” and was slightly glad he didn’t live in a town with such low standards. Clearly his wings were not his favorite part of the meal. They, like his steak, were just OK.

Ted definitely thought the burgers were under-marketed, and that they should be pushing that item as the “best in town” instead of the wings. Or else point us in the direct of the place in town that holds that title, because we want to try those burgers. I actually think Shane may lose sleep over the regret he was feeling for not ordering a burger at Manchester Tavern. We’ll see how that plays out.

We’ll see you in our dreams, burger

While our meals may not have been the best bar food we’ve ever tasted, I do have to say that the service was great. Our server greeted us as soon as we walked in, even though she was in the midst of counting out Queen of Hearts tickets that were being sold at the table behind us for a drawing that was under an hour away. She came right over to take our drink orders, was friendly to us even though we were clearly not regulars (and all the regulars were pretty obvious, as they were greeted by name by both our server and the other bartender … and the other patrons … let’s just say we were definitely in the minority for not knowing anyone’s names). She apologized when she hadn’t been over for a bit to check on us, too.

Maybe we’re just scarred from last week, but we were definitely impressed.

Overall Manchester Tavern is a great little neighborhood bar. It’s definitely a Portage Lakes equivalent of Cheers, and because it was Queen of Hearts drawing night it got quite busy for a hot minute around the actual drawing (which was something out of a John Taffer highlight reel as the bartender yelled at everyone to shut the eff up so that the number could be heard) – but then thinned out shortly after. Or maybe everyone was just out on the patio. We did notice quite a crowd standing at the front railing just watching traffic go by when we left, kind of like it was someone’s large front porch. I guess that’s high entertainment in these parts?

The setup is a little cramped – there’s a room in the back with a pool table and more seating tables, but you’re definitely secluded from everyone else and I’m not sure how fantastic the service would be there. Out of sight, out of mind, perhaps – especially since the two bartenders/servers seemed pretty busy taking care of the area near the bar as well as the patio. The guys mentioned that the men’ s room “could use a little work on the infrastructure” – but it also wasn’t the worst they’ve ever seen. I guess that’s saying something.

We were too engrossed with watching the Classic MTV (with real music videos!) that was playing on the TV over the bar, as well as the World Series of Poker that was on the TV by our table, and forgot to take our usual photos before we left … but I would call it a thumbs up visit. It might be a little too far out of our radius to return fairly often … but if we do make it back I have a feeling a burger will be the one thing we all make a point to order.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

 

Manchester Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 7/5/17: REVISIT – Whitey’s, Richfield

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So, if you’ve been reading WTGW long enough – or, well, really if you just read the part about how we got started – you know that the staples of our food adventures include three things: food, alcohol, and fun. I know, we’re easy to please, right? In the summer we often expand that list to include one more element: patio space. Because we only get about 7.4 nice days out of the year here in Ohio, and if we’re lucky enough to have a few of them fall on Wednesdays (i.e. when Mother Nature decides to play nice and not be a whore) then we’re certainly not prone to want to waste them sitting inside a dark bar with no windows.

I mean, come on, that’s what Mondays are for. And pretty much all of February.

Hence how I think we first stumbled upon Whitey’s four years ago, back in the first summer that WTGW was born. Patio + burgers & beer + nice summer evening = the elusive trifecta. Or, wait, that’s actually four things. The fourfecta? Can that be a thing?

Whatever, the point is, we thought we’d hit the jackpot.

Except that we didn’t. I think we left the place that night kind of feeling like children who had gotten scolded one too many times for running in an open field that had all the makings of a great playground but was on someone else’s property.

Now before you go scouring the archives for that post, let me save you the trouble … it doesn’t exist. Nearly a year of our existence is what we like to refer to as “pre-blog.” Yes, kids, there was life before you came along.

The only proof of that evening are these amazing photos.

2013 was clearly the time before selfies. This camera blows.

This exact pitcher may or may not be in my house at this moment.

Obviously they’ve matured in four years.

I’m kicking myself for not reenacting this photo

Ah, youth. Now the only photos we seem to take in the dark are when the lighting is too low in a restaurant, not because the sun has set while we’re still out.

Anyway, while we may look like we were having fun in those pictures, let me assure you that’s because it was the end of the night and we had been consuming alcohol since long before the sun went down. Because, really, what we remember most from that night four years ago, is that Whitey’s is a place of rules. Lots of them. And they weren’t so up front about them, nor were they the friendliest when we pointed ourselves out as non-regulars by asking.

Here’s the short list of what we remember from that experience:
1) there was a great patio … that you can’t eat on
2) there’s a large bar area … that you also can’t eat IN
3) the dining area is relatively small in comparison – and this is where you eat
4) there’s usually a wait for a table in said eating area
5) they weren’t exactly all Oprah-giving-free-cars-out-to-the-audience when it came to explaining all of the above

Sounds delightful, no? And you wonder why it’s been four years since we’ve been back.

Although even with all of the above we somehow managed to take this photo without being kicked out.

Four years later and I can honestly say this is the only photo we’ve ever taken with a harp

Anyway.

We’re sad to report that things haven’t changed much in our four year absence. I mean, we remembered the rules from last time, and good thing because there really isn’t any signage when you enter through the bar area telling you where to go if you want to eat, drink, or sit and do none of the above outside. Thanks for that helpfulness. Let me just get my mind reading capabilities in order before I enter next time.

So Ted and I grabbed a hightop table in the bar area while Shane went to ask about a table for the purposes of food consumption. He was told you can eat AT the bar, but not IN the bar area. Good lesson in prepositions, kids.

We were told it would be about a 30 minute wait, during which time we got some drinks FROM the bar and proceeded to watch what we can only believe was drone racing on TV (how is this a thing?) and some people setting up in the bar area for a welcome home party. I’m not sure which was more entertaining.

Sidenote, it was another perfect night for the patio, but because we haven’t gotten to the section of the rule book that covers the whole “how to hear your name when it’s called from the outside” debacle, we stayed inside to avoid the disaster that would be missing our table and having to eat our own arms.

So finally we got our table (yay!) and it turned out it was off in it’s own little cubbyhole of an area adjacent to the main dining room. Good thing we aren’t claustrophobic?

Well, whatever, now that we got the seating out of the way, we could finally concentrate on the food. I don’t remember too much about the food last time (see photos above for a bit of explanation on that), but I did my homework enough to know that Whitey’s is known for their chili (which is also served in several other restaurants around NEOhio), and burgers. Yes and yes.

Because they were on special this evening, we started off with an order of the “hottzerella” sticks – which are mozzerella sticks breaded in a jalapeno flavored breading. The Wednesday special was 47 cents each, which may be the first time we’ve ever been offered an option to decide the quantity of fried cheese we want to arrive on the table in front of us. I mean, is 37 too many? Maybe? OK, we’ll just go with 8.

You’ll notice Ted’s hands are tucked safely away from the fried cheese.

They were tasty. They came out quickly and were definitely straight from the fryer. The breading had a noticeable kick to it, but not in a bad way – although it was spicy enough to leave your mouth burning for a hot minute after eating one. (see what I did there?)

See also: why we were so annoyed that they server continuously walked past our table without asking if we wanted refills on the drinks we had brought over with us from the bar. Did we miss the rule that said you can only use the bar glasses IN the bar area, and that they can’t travel to the dining room? Do you have to go back to the bar to order more? That question was answered when the server checked in on a table that was sat well after us and he immediately asked them if they needed any drinks from the bar. OK. So I guess it was just us, then. I mean, we ordered our meals, we saw the server pass by several more times … and yet this poor, lonely glass just sat on the edge of the table waiting to be asked to hold another beer.

It’s clearly suffering

*sigh*

It should also be noted that we weren’t even asked if we wanted water, either. It’s like they were employing the age-old interrogation technique of “let’s give them super spicy and filling food without anything to wash it down with.” Crowd pleaser, for sure. Was this a newcomer initiation of some sort?

But yet we mustered on. We’re professionals, people. We don’t let a little dry mouth and buzz kill spoil our evening. Plus, we’re hungry.

For his meal, Ted opted for the Italian Stallion burger with a side of “bottle caps,” which are sliced jalapenos that are then breaded and deep fried. I see a trend here. Ted also apparently likes to live on the edge considering our lack of beverages.

It looks so small and unassuming

Not surprisingly, he liked all of it. He said his chief complaint was the excessive amount of cheese (he forgot to have them make it without, and then was stuck pulling it off the burger like a magician pulling scarves from his sleeves) – but really that’s something only cheese-haters like Ted would complain about. He thought the flavor was outstanding. It was messy, definitely a “knife and fork” burger (at one point I think he just picked the plate up along with the burger to try and hold everything together while he took a bite) – but the trouble was worth it.

Because we like to kill off tastebuds

Shane got the Dagwood burger. Which arrived looking suspiciously like a pile of mushrooms. Is it Halloween in burgertown?

Excuse me, sir, but I’m not a vegetarian. You don’t have to disguise the meat.

Shane: I wonder how many mushrooms had to die in order to make this burger?

But even so, it was excellent. I mean, the ginormous pile of mushrooms was a tad overkill, and Shane ended up eating most of them with a fork before even getting to the sandwich – but the burger itself was delicious. He said that there seemed to be a little bit of relish mixed in with the mayo, and that gave it some sweetness. He had to cut it into four pieces to attempt to eat it, but again, like Ted, the struggle was worthwhile.

We also know how picky Shane is about the un-done-ness of his burgers, and Whitey’s is one of those places that doesn’t give you a choice in the matter, but warns you when you order that they cook them all “medium well.” Which I think made Shane cringe at a little just hearing. But he took a chance, and wasn’t disappointed. The burger was definitely on the done side, with no pink in the middle, but still moist and flavorful.

I got the garden chili, which is essentially a helping of chili on lettuce instead of in a bowl. Novel.

Any salad is healthy, no?

I had been debating between a burger with a cup of chili, or this salad – and decided to go the slightly more healthy route (ahem, “healthy,” she says … after downing four hottzerella sticks just moments prior. I realize the irony.). But then I have to be honest, when that salad arrived in front of me and I first looked at it I felt a tiny pang of regret, because I thought there was no way that was going to be enough food to make me happy. I think my internal conversation went something like this:

“Nice choice, idiot. Guess you’ll be grabbing up a few more 47 cent cheese sticks after you devour this salad in like five minutes flat.Haven’t you learned not to order healthy food on WTGW?”
“You’re the idiot, that’s totally enough food for your dinner. Stop being a baby.”
“But look at the burgers the guys got. They chose wisely.”
“Shane’s is all mushrooms. If you’re still hungry, eat the leftover cheese that Ted keeps pulling off his sandwich. And thank me later when you’re completely full without hands that smell of burger grease.”

Yeah, that voice of reason was totally correct – the salad was plenty enough for my meal. If you have that same internal debate over potential disappointment from a salad, just keep in mind that that dish is far deeper than it looks. And the chili is hearty. By the time we were finished I thought I might have to be rolled to the door. And I wasn’t even drinking beer.

(Neither was Shane, BTW … this glass sat here until well into our meals)

So. Lonely.

You’e seeing it about half as many times as our server did.

Anyway, I thought the salad was good. The chili didn’t seem to have a ton of flavor, but a little salt and pepper helped fix that problem a touch. I think some red pepper flakes and garlic powder would’ve done wonders. I’m not sure what that says about the death of my taste buds over the years.

You can also choose one of the four flavors of chili to go on the salad – I just chose the original, but I think next time I would try one of the other options, which include white chicken chili, chipotle garden vegetarian chili, and a beanless jalapeno chili.

It seems like mushrooms and jalapenos are something they go through a lot of in this place. Just an observation.

Overall, we had a difficult time ranking Whitey’s on this visit. One one hand, the food was excellent. If we were just talking about the food alone, this would be a two thumbs up experience, no doubt. I mean, the burger was in Shane’s fabled “Top 5 Burger” list … along with … um … well … we aren’t really sure who exactly is on that list anymore, since it seems to change more often than Kylie Jenner’s hair color . If I had a dollar for every time I heard something in Shane’s life was on a Top 5 list … well, let’s just say I’d be making my own “Top 5 Islands I Would Like To Purchase And Live On” list. But for now, just consider it a compliment. He means well.

But other things dragged the score down, including the service. I mean, I realize there were about eight tables in our section, but probably only about half of them were full at any given time during our visit. And our server seemed less than thrilled with any of the tables he was waiting on – so I guess maybe we should be thankful we weren’t the only ones he hated? Yay us! But we were the only ones in our section who seemed to be noticeably suffering through the Great Drought of 2017, so there’s that.

Table 23. Where your thirst lives on.

And there are still just so many rules to be followed here. We were going to go out on the patio after we ate – since we actually did have full drinks at that point, finally, after we had to ask for refills during our meal – but then Shane reminded us that we couldn’t take glasses out there. Well, crap. I mean, given the ordeal we went through to just get these drinks in the first place, we didn’t want to push our luck asking to switch to plastic cups. We might have been exiled to the basement to finish our drinks.

Another “no” to add to the list … credit cards. Luckily we had researched this in advance and had cash with us (a rarity for us, honestly). But really? It’s 2017. You can pretty much pay your car payment with a retinal scan at this point, but, please, make sure you have paper currency to use to purchase your chili and fried cheese.

So will we return? I’m not sure. On one hand, the food is enough to say yes. And the place just has so much potential for fun. They have leagues for sand volleyball, darts and cornhole … and the place is always packed, so clearly it’s a crowd favorite. But it’s also a bit like visiting a playground enforced by the National Guard. In the desert.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

Whitey's Booze n' Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 6/7/17: REVISIT – J. Dublin’s Pour House, Akron

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Well, aren’t we lucky – Game Three of the NBA Finals falls on a Wednesday! Now if only we knew of a decent sports bar to go watch the game …

You think I’m kidding.

I mean, part of the reason we started this blog was for this very scenerio – so that when we need to pick a location on the fly we can easily catalog all the great places we’ve been dying to go back to. But in reality all it seems to do is remind us that all of those great places are nowhere close to our neighborhood. Seriously, people? TD’s Tailgate Grille? Too far. Muskateers? Too far and probably already crowded in the bar at 4PM. Delanie’s? Howie’s? See above. Windsor Pub? We were just there not long ago. Can someone please open something less than a 20 minute drive away that resembles one of these amazing places? For the love.

In any case, welcome to the long-winded explanation as to how we ended up at J. Dublin’s Pour House this week.

And not to say we hate this place … just more so that none of us were overly impressed with it the last time around … or the time before that, when it was Johnny Malloy’s.

So is this a revisit-revisit? I’m confused.

The reason we finally picked this place was two-fold. 1) it’s huge, so we knew we wouldn’t have a hard time getting a table. And 2) they also have about one TV per square inch of the property, so we wouldn’t have to worry about not being in the sight line of the game, either.

Priorities, people. These games only come around once a year.

As soon as Shane and I arrived (about 90 minutes prior to game time) it was obvious we could’ve waited a bit, as we were practically the only people there. I guess not everyone was as prepared as we were for crowd control. But I will say that it only took about an hour for the place to fill up – although if the crowd when we first arrived was any indication of what a normal non-championship-game night is like at J. Dub’s, let’s just say it’s a sure bet for that category of “we’re super hungry and want to make sure we don’t have to wait for a table.”

Which worked out well for Ted, who arrived about ten minutes after us and immediately declared his hunger to be like that of needing the food truck competition again to quench it. We had already ordered drinks (game specials were 5 for $10 buckets of tall Coors or Labatts cans) but as soon as the server re-appeared we went ahead and threw together a food order, too. Because nobody likes a hangry Ted.

Thanks to the pretty picture in the top corner of the menu, Shane gravitated toward the crispy bacon wrapped sausage as an app.

The picture on the menu was more convincing than this one.

And when it arrived, this bromance moment happened:

Ted: I don’t normally dig into your apps, but that looks delicious.
Shane: Are you saying you want my sausage?
Ted: Yes, I can’t wait to put your sasuage in my mouth

I asked if they wanted me to leave the table so they could be alone.

All 15-year old boy jokes aside, the sausage was really good. (That’s what she said. Boom!) It wasn’t spicy at all, but had a lot of flavor. As Ted put it, “it’s kielbasa wrapped in bacon and served with a side of stadium mustard. How can you go wrong?”

For meals, super-hungry-Ted got the Big J Burger – which when it arrived I realized was basically not one, but two burgers under one bun. Clearly he wasn’t messing around, nor was he lying about that whole hunger thing.

He also of course ordered it with no cheese, which caused the server to literally stop writing, put down her pen and stare at him to ask “Did you just say no cheese? That’s the best part.”

See, Ted, we aren’t the only ones who think you’re strange.

But I will give our server credit, because for all of her harassment about Ted’s hatred of cheese, she still told us later – when mine and Shane’s food came out, but yet Ted’s was somehow missing (because that always happens to the hungriest one, right?) – that she had sent the burger back before bringing it out to us because they had – take a guess? – put cheese on it by mistake. Nice catch.

Lots of meat, no cheese

In addition to solving cheese catastrophes before they occur, our server was also a mastermind at up-selling. Shane ordered a pizza for his meal, and was only going to get a medium … but when he asked about how big it was she just said “it’s actually a better deal to get the large.” No size comparison, no wishy-washy “well how hungry are you / are you splitting it with someone / do you want leftovers” schpeels … nope, just straight to the point, BAM, you look like you should order a full large pizza, sir, because you’re hungry AND frugal, and this is the better deal.

And of course Shane was sold, because clearly you need to twist his arm to get MORE food. Does she read this blog?

To make it even better, as he’s adding 8 billion toppings to his now large pizza, she tells him “You know, at this point you’re better off just to get the deluxe instead of paying for all these extra toppings.”

I like her.

It’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

For my meal, I got the chicken quesadilla and a large order of mixed vegetables. Which may possibly be the strangest combination of food I’ve ever ordered at a restaurant, but whatevs. I wasn’t super hungry, and I needed my vegetables. Done.

And the server didn’t have anything to say about MY order, so it couldn’t have been so bad.

Ted said his burger was just OK. He said it really didn’t have much flavor. Now maybe that verdict was reached just because he was so hungry that he shoveled it into his mouth without even touching his taste buds … OR maybe, just maybe, that’s where the cheese comes in, Ted. But in any case, I noticed he pretty much kept one hand on the pepper shaker so he could season every bite, so I asked him about there not being any seasoning on the burger.

His response? “It’s not that, it’s just a lot of meat, so that’s all I taste.”

We’re on fire tonight, folks. I don’t even have to write the jokes. They just fall out of our mouths. Ba-dum-bum.

My veggies were good – although, I mean, how can you really screw up freezer vegetables that were dumped from a bag and heated up, the same way I do at home? Don’t answer that. I’m just glad they were all cooked, there were no still-frozen pieces, and they didn’t season them with anything so I didn’t have to worry about them being overly salted or soaked in butter.

WHO ORDERS HEALTHY FOOD ON WTGW? I’m not sure this is allowed.

The quesadilla was very good. It had parm cheese baked on the top, which was unexpected in a pleasant way. And it was huge – 8 pieces total – which I didn’t mean to eat all of necessarily, but since we were there for like five hours watching the game I kept nibbling as the night wore on. It came with sour cream and guacamole on the side, but no salsa. What now? Who serves Mexican food of any kind without salsa? For real, people. And the containers holding the sour cream and salsa were like Barbie-doll sized bowls to boot. Sure, here’s your tablespoon of sour cream, to go with your eight pieces of tortilla and cheese … yeah, that makes total sense. I mean, my waistline definitely thanks you for the rationing, but maybe next time we can spare a tiny bit more? 

Is there a guac shortage I’m unaware of?

Meanwhile, it’s a good thing we were there for the better portion of the evening, because it was approximately 30 minutes between the time Shane’s pizza hit the table and his first actual bite. Ted finished his burger, I made my way through my veggies and half of my quesadilla, and yet here’s Shane’s full large pizza, still taking up 3/4 of the table. He has a thing about protecting his mouth from heat. Or maybe he just prefers congealed, rock hard cheese to the gooeyness you see on all the Domino’s commercials. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

But once he did eat it, he said it was good. And while the large was definitely more food than what he needed – he was glad to be able to take some home for leftovers. He had contemplated getting the steak special – which he got the last time we were there and he enjoyed – but he was glad to have opted for the pizza when it was all said and done.

Overall, J. Dub’s is a good place to watch a game. The drink specials were good – well, if you like Coors or Labatt’s, I guess, otherwise you were kind of screwed … but hey, sometimes beer is beer, and something is better than nothing. There were more than enough TVs to watch, and the crowd was really into cheering on the hometown team (much to the dismay of Shane, who was decked out in gear supporting the opposing team … but he lived to tell about it at least) Although we all agreed that they could take the volume down a notch since the place is pretty cavernous and the echos just made it all just sound like gibberish anyway. The biggest negative was that our server seemed to forget about checking on us about halfway through the game – after we’d eaten, but were clearly still hanging out to see the rest of the game. That move didn’t much affect the guys and their buckets of beer, but this girl and her mixed drinks were stranded with a downed soldier on more than one occasion. Maybe she knew I was driving home and was just looking out for me? Yeah, let’s go with that.

**we aren’t really counting this as anyone’s pick since we just needed a good, close place to watch the game … but we’ll resume with Ted’s choice next week”

WTGW 5/24/17: Streets Tavern, Streetsboro

Standard

Sorry about that little hiatus, kids. Between vacation and some work travel, the month of May has pretty much been a blur. In fact, I almost forgot it was my pick this week. Thankfully I have this handy little blog to remind me where we were last. I knew we started this thing for a reason.

So after a week in the Caribbean with fancy resort food, and then another week in NYC eating mainly Italian and Mexican food (for no other reason than it was what we happened to find the most of when we were hungry), I was ready for some good old fashioned bar food.

I have to admit, Streets Tavern scared us just a little bit as we pulled into the parking lot. Call me crazy, but giant “FOR RENT” signs in the front window of the building don’t really scream “come on in and enjoy some food and drinks.” But we continued on toward the back of the small parking lot, and noticed the restaurant sign – and presumably the front door to the establishment – facing the building next door.

File that one under: non-intrusive marketing. Maybe they should think about renting that front half of the building, if nothing else than for a giant sign advertising their place? Just a thought.

Shane immediately picked up on the 15 large trucks in the parking lot and the country music that was playing from the time we walked in the door, and questioned how he had never picked this place. Hey, you win some, you lose some. Sorry buddy,

It seems like the place could use a bit of a remodeling overhaul. There’s a large bar at the back of the space, two pool tables at the far end near the door to the patio (which we didn’t get to check out tonight since it downpoured for most of our visit. Obviously Mother Nature and I are going to continue to not be friends again this patio season), surprisingly few tables, and then this giant space off to the side with a stage and disco lights. Which, I mean, when you have a band – as it seems they often do on weekend evenings – I can see that being valuable. But on a random no-band Wednesday, maybe you could turn off the spinny red laser lights and add a few more tables for those of us taking advantage of the .35 wing dine-in special? Again, just thinking out loud here.

We realized quickly that this is another of those places where the bartender is also the server for the tables, but not for any bad reason. In fact, she was great. Greeted us right away and came over to take our drink orders moments after we sat down at a table. Streets seemed to have a decent beer list for a smaller bar, although Ted was the only one to go that route. I chose the only cider they had – Angry Orchard – and Shane went with rum and diets. We’re very well-rounded in the alcohol sampling department these days.

As I mentioned, Wednesdays are 35 cent wing nights. And not ones to miss out on a special, that’s the route we all went. #frugal

I got the Spicy BBQ, Shane got the Garlic Parm and Ted just asked the server to bring him “the hottest ones you have.” Because, well, Ted.

But wait, we aren’t done yet … Ted also ordered the Streets Burger, and Shane got a pizza full of random toppings that he created himself for like $6. And we shared the “three-peat” appetizer, which we chose to include breaded mushrooms, breaded cauliflower and onion rings.

Clearly we’ve only gotten more healthy in our time away.

Fun story, after we placed our orders, some random guy approached our table on his way out of the place with a to-go bag, and asked us why we hadn’t gotten our food yet. Well, um, kind sir, we just ordered it like 5 minutes ago, so maybe the kitchen actually needs time to cook it? I mean, we appreciated his concern, but clearly none of us are starving here, we were happily enjoying our drinks … and we also knew we ordered a lot of food, so we weren’t expecting it lighting fast. We’re good, thanks.

He seemed to be happy with that answer, and ambled out the door with his meal. But then like 10 minutes later, he was back – minus the to-go bag – and it was like de ja vu as he inquired again what was taking them so long to bring our food out.

By this point we’re realizing either he’s the owner/manager of the place, or he’s just a bar regular who is holding some sort of competition in his own head as to whether or not tables will receive their food orders before becoming nothing more than a pile of skeletal remains.

The answer later started to lean toward the former, as he eventually told us that “whatever his girls were making for us back there was worth the wait.” And then proceeded to try and coerce us into joining a game of tabletop Jenga. Because that seems like what people should do while obviously teetering on the brink of starvation.

Ted: “Maybe he recognizes us and is trying to butter us up for a good review.”

Me, after the food arrived a bit later and the guy scampered over to make sure everything looked OK, then proclaimed that we weren’t kidding, we do order a lot of food: “That comment proves that he has no idea who we are.”

And we were OK with the wait, because for the most part, our meals were definitely worth it.

The wings were good sized for the 35 cent price. We all know that “weekly bar special” can sometimes mean they pull out the smallest pieces that seems to be taken from pigeons or half starved chickens … but these were instead quite meaty and well seasoned.

They aren’t really that color. Or at least we think not anyway, It was really dark in there.

BBQ sauce = bring extra napkins

My Spicy BBQ wings had a little kick to them, and Ted said whatever explosively hot wings he ordered were good also – but probably contributed to his idea that the burger was a little thin and bland in comparison.

Ted prefers wings cooked in whatever sauce drips directly off the surface of the sun

There’s a cheese-less, taste-less burger under there somewhere

Shane made it through all of his wings – as he said, they’re dine-in only, so he couldn’t waste any of those – but had to take a few slices of the pizza home because it was a little much for him. A little much? I mean, it’s only TWO FULL meals. WTF, quitter.

It’s not delivery OR Digiorno’s

But he did say that for a bar pizza – which sometimes can mean nothing more than throwing a frozen disc of cardboard coated in sauce and cheese into a toaster oven – this one was really good. All the toppings looked fresh, and the crust was done just to the perfect combination of crisp and dough-y.

Our appetizer was the only thing we were a bit disappointed in. Ironic that probably the easiest thing out of all of our meals to make – just throw stuff in the fryer – was the least liked. A few of the mushrooms and cauliflower were cold in the middle. And the pieces of cauliflower were really itty bitty, not like the kind you get with fried veggies at the fair. And clearly carnival food is the gold standard in terms of all things fried.

Guess which ones are done all the way

Probably the thing we liked the best about the app was the Streets Sauce that came with it for dipping, that was really tasty. Side note on that, that sauce is actually listed under the options for wings, and when I asked about it the server told us it was kind of a spicy, horseradish-y, mayo-y concoction, and she didn’t recommend it for wings. I can see now why. Just use it as a dipping sauce. Trust us on this one.

Our server was amazing. I know I said this already, but it definitely bears repeating for the great service we got from her. Case in point – how many times have you been somewhere where the server walks by you like 10 times and never takes stock of the level of your drink, and then when you flag them down to get a refill they act surprised? Yeah, not here. We were all impressed when, not long after our food arrived, she noticed from behind the bar that Ted’s glass was empty … and instead of coming over to ask if he wanted another one, then going back to pour it … she just arrived with another beer, and was like “I took a chance … I hope you want this …”

I think Ted almost asked her to marry him at that moment.

She also did her best to save us from our new BFF of the evening – the owner/concerned regular/random getting-drunker-each-time-he-approached-us observer who made it his mission to make sure we were having a good night in his establishment – when he came over at the end of the night to trap us … I mean, tell us a story about riding his Harley to work, then dropping the bike thanks to his recent double knee surgery (not alcohol, of course) that his insurance company is making him pay out of pocket for … and then the story started all started over again.

Is this the WTGW version of Groundhog Day?

But other than that small distraction, and the overall kind of weirdness of the setup of the space, the place has a great atmosphere. It’s definitely the Streetsboro version of “Cheers,” as everyone seemed to know or be related to everyone who came into the place … but no one made us feel like we had invaded the family reunion and shouldn’t be there. Word of warning about the music, though … we were happy with the new country selections we were hearing throughout most of our evening, but then around 9PM it was like the subscription to that playlist ran out and there was an abrupt switch to this mix of strange and unfamiliar 70’s love ballads that seemed to be controlled via the phone belonging to one of the owner’s friends. So that was a bit uncool. But other than that it was a fun place with what seemed to be cool people.

And cheap food. Other than wing night, we noticed a board touting specials like country fried steak with potato and vegetable for $6.99, a 5oz steak and potato for $5, and my favorite, the 7-9AM 35 cent wing special on Friday mornings. Because sometimes you just wake up with a hankering for chicken wings, folks. And now you know where to get them for cheap.

Speaking of cheap, our tab for the night – including Shane’s five mixed drinks, my four bottled ciders, an app, a pizza, and 20 wings, was right around $50.

Yeah, we’ll be back.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted
(note that thanks to another Cavs/Warriors showdown in the NBA Finals, the next few weeks could be hiatus for us while we recover from random late night game watching on other nights of the week. Hey, we’re old. And we have jobs. Adulthood is hard sometimes.)

Shane and the rare double thumbs up

Uh Ted, is the wall on fire behind you?

Steph