WTGW 7/25/18: Wil’s Grille & Pub, Barberton

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That feeling when someone else picks a place that has been on your list for a while but you just never got around to picking … and then it turns out to be really good.

Cassi’s choice this week was Wil’s Grill & Pub in Barberton. Not to be confused with Ted’s sushi & pub pick of a few months ago. As if. Wil’s Grill & Pub (I keep saying it because rhyming is fun, step off) a little unassuming building in that middle of the nowhere region that is partway between Barberton and Portage Lakes.

Shane, as we pull up: This has me written all over it.

Apparently tiny buildings with no windows and an uncertainly marked entryway are right up his alley. Noted.

Inside they definitely make the most of the tiny space. There were several tables, but only a few that would hold a group our size that weren’t already occupied. There appeared to be a family dinner taking place in the middle of the space, which required several tables to be pushed together. This is for sure the kind of place that I could see regulars holding their weekly family get togethers.

As we settle in at the table, Shane makes a beeline for the restroom … and returns shortly afterwards. As in, not in enough time for him to actually have used the facilities. To which we all assume means they were uninhabitable.

Nope, just that when he opened the main door he heard a tiny child’s voice announcing to the unknown visitor “I’m pooping.” That was enough for Shane to decide he could hold it for a bit longer, and to just exit quietly.

That frank openness kind of set the tone for the rest of our stay at Wil’s.

To say that the place is friendly is an understatement. From the time we sat down until …. well, the rest of the evening … we were welcomed or given a friendly “hey guys!” by pretty much every single one of the staff members. And some people who cross the line between actual staff and regulars who occasionally wander behind the bar. I’m kind of surprised the other patrons didn’t raise their hands in friendly salutes as well. It was like dining in Mayberry.

Once the server found out we were newbies, she pretty much ran through the entire menu to tell us what the best things were to order. Of course that impressed our resident interrogator, Shane, who usually takes pleasure in prodding those details out of the staff.

Of highest recommendation where the burgers, the chicken sandwich that was on special for the evening, and the weekly steak special. Which were pretty much all the items our group  had been looking at ordering already. Thanks for nothing, kind server who loves her job and her restaurant.

One choice that wasn’t too difficult was our drink order, due largely to the fact that they only have two beers on draft: Miller Lite, and Amber Bock. So basically light and dark. Bet you can’t guess who ordered which one?

Bonus points if you sensed the trick question and guessed that the girls skipped beer altogether to go with tequila and sodas.

Cassi and Jason ordered the potato skins for their app, after the server described them as “little potato cups of cheesey goodness.”

Ted, of course, was repulsed.

The server did not lie, the potato skins ended up arriving at the table looking exactly as the server described them. Read: amazing. The potatoes are cut in half instead of longways like most potato skins, and therefore do create these little cup-like devices that are perfect to fill with a copious amount of cheese. Cassi and Jason definitely enjoyed them. And will continue to enjoy them in the days following our visit, as there were far too many for even our whole table to share (well, minus the cheese-hater). They were truly enough to be a meal all on their own.

This must be what they serve in heaven

Shane and I ordered the breaded mushrooms.I guess this is our thing now, despite the fact that Shane usually has to let them cool to less than room temperature so as not to be the victim of the hot oil disaster that is biting in too soon.

Hot oil time bombs

They were just OK. Really nothing special from any other place we’ve ever ordered them from in our lifetime. To be fair, I’m not really sure what exactly would make a breaded mushroom stand out in that fashion, but it seems we’ll continue to try them until we figure that out.

Ted got the “Firey Fingers.” Which didn’t arrive on fire (boooo) but instead were basically just chicken fingers with a spicy breading and/or sauce. Thanks for the letdown. Plus when I asked Ted which substance was responsible for the nomenclature, he admitted he wasn’t really clear on that based on the description in the menu, and had to do a bit of A/B testing once the dish arrived in order to determine it.

This is probably the only dish where you could confuse chicken for jojo potatoes

It turns out it was the sauce. Which was basically a cocktail sauce with a slightly spicy hint to it. So “firey” might be a tad misleading in the adjective department, but points for trying.

I really think they should go with the whole lighting it on fire idea. I mean, that would make it stand out for sure.

For meals I was on the fence between my usual affinity for a mushroom swiss burger and the special chicken sandwich of the day consisting of chicken, Swiss, bacon and guacamole on ciabatta bread. So, again, I’d like to thank the server and her seal of “yep, both of those are outstanding, can’t go wrong either way” for assisting in my decision. Ted was actually my tipping point, when I mentioned being in a conundrum and he said to me that when he heard what was involved with the chicken sandwich it sounded to him like it was made just for me.

I’m not sure how I got such complimentary friends in my life.I mean, I hope all of you have people surrounding you who think of you when certain foods are mentioned. *tear*

Needless to say, I wasn’t unhappy with my decision. I mean, first of all … ciabatta bread. Need I say more? But I also don’t order chicken much anymore, thanks to the issue at the Hooley House years ago where the cook was apparently trying to make medium rare poultry a thing (spin the salmonella wheel and see if you’re a winner! yum!). But my risk was rewarded this time around.

Even if I only ate the bread, this would be a win

That’s a very geometrically correct salad

Ted got the strip steak special with jojo potatoes – and also the cole slaw, which the server recommended as “really good.” Upon eating it, Ted rephrased that to  “adequate.” Not exactly high praise, but I guess it’s better than “effing disgusting,” so there’s that. Maybe if he’d eaten the jojos first, since they were apparently hot enough to remove layers of skin/taste buds and he may not have been able to taste the cole slaw by that point?

Chivalrous potato wedges trying to save the meat from the oncoming knife

How can you screw up shredded vegetables?

Ted said his whole meal was “solidly good.” He wouldn’t necessarily put anything he ate in his Top 10, but he would rate it all as very good.

Hey, speaking of Top 10’s, anyone remember that time Shane ordered a steak special for under $10, and it was a way better value than the one offered *insert place we’re currently eating at here*? No? That’s weird, because he uses literally every other steak special in the universe to reminisce about that fateful day last summer when all his food dreams came true.

This is my plea to all the places we go on Wednesdays to stop advertising steak specials on that particular night of the week, unless you can beat the one offered at the Dougout.

Moving on.

Since OBVIOUSLY this steak special didn’t meet his expectations, Shane followed the server’s recommendation that the burgers were outstanding and ordered the Bourbon Burger. As did Jason. To prove they weren’t twinsies, Shane got onion rings, and Jason got fries. Cassi also went with a burger – the bacon Swiss – with sweet potato fries.

I have bread envy

Take two, change of side

Our table sure did their part to ensure the dairy industry stays in business

And just like everything else the server told us about, they were not disappointed. Shane said his burger was very good. He typically doesn’t like all the embellishments (read: healthy things like lettuce and tomato) but on this one he didn’t pick it off, and said it actually gave the burger more flavor. Both of the guys agreed that the sauce on the Bourbon burger was really good, too.

Since we ordered pretty much everything that the server had recommended to us, are you surprised when we ended up with dessert as well? Right. I also blame Ted, who was talking up how he would give up patio weather in favor of the season in which all things pumpkin return to NEOhio … which of course brought us to the deliciousness that is pumpkin love at 3 Brothers … which made us all hungry for sweets right about the time the server came over to ask if we’d saved room for dessert.

Cohoots, I tell you.

Cassi and Jason opted for the chocolate bundt cake, Ted got the brownie with ice cream, and Shane and I shared the caramel apple pie and ice cream. I have to believe that was literally one of everything on the dessert menu.

Tell me again why we don’t order dessert more often?

I mean, how can you go wrong?

A lovely little sundae, all for Ted

Ted, five minutes after finishing his dessert: I’m probably going to regret that, but damn was it good.

Spoiler alert: that entire statement was in fact truth.

But being over-full was pretty much the only regret we could muster from Wil’s. This place is definitely a favorite, with a menu almost as big as the place itself, and amazing service. Plus it’s super cheap – mine and Shane’s bill was under $60, which covered three drinks each, an app, two complete dinners and a dessert. Well, truth be told, we could’ve gotten out with a tab under $10 … thanks to a mistake by the server when she manually keyed in the amount to the credit card machine, thus resulting in our card only getting charged $5.69 instead of the correct price of $55.69. But of course we couldn’t take advantage of the situation, and told her about the mistake – for which she was super appreciative. Because, well, despite what you might think of our ratings toward some of our picks and my fluent use of the sarcastic tongue, we aren’t complete jerks. Please.

And we definitely want to come back here. Wil’s really one of those little gems you kind of wish you lived next door to, except for the rampant alcoholism and high cholesterol levels that visiting far too often would likely predispose us to. It’s great to go into a place that clearly has regulars, and be welcomed as a new group. And maybe it’s because Shane threw out the “we’re food bloggers” statement like a shield at the top of the visit, but throughout our visit we were never at a loss for people stopping by our table to say hello or check to see if we needed anything. The server even gave us a copy of the specials for the month, which was reminiscent of the lunch menus we used to bring home from grade school so we knew what days to pack our lunches, and what days we would be begging our moms to pay for a slice of cardboard covered in cheese that they tried to tell us was pizza.

If that last sentence means nothing to you then just put down the blog and walk away slowly, never mentioning how old you think we must be because of it. Seriously.

Next pick: Ted

Ted

Jason

Shane

Steph

Cassi

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WTGW 5/23/18: Fatheads Brewery, Canton

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Hey look, we’re in a strip plaza in Canton again! Surprise!

We’re probably some of the few people in the Cleveland area who haven’t been to Fatheads’ original location, out in North Olmstead. I know I’ve enjoyed their bumbleberry beer on more than one occasion, but never at an actual facility. That location is probably within our radius for WTGW choices, but being that they recently opened a secondary location in our more familiar territory of Canton, Ted thought this one was worth a pick.

There, I’ve opened the can of worms for someone else to “pull a Ted” and pick another location of an already chosen mini-chain. Let the bets begin on how soon that happens.

Anyway.

The Canton location is pretty big once you get inside – especially considering it’s at the end of an aforementioned strip plaza. Typically I don’t expect much from a space that could’ve instead been built out to house a DSW or Bath & Body Works if this lease somehow fell through. There’s also a large, open patio in the front, and giant doors that open up the entire front of the restaurant to that area. Way to capitalize on the approximately 2.5 weeks worth of patio-worthy weather we actually receive here in NEO. Score.

Fatheads Brewery is, indeed, a brewery (imagine that), so of course they primarily serve their craft beers in house. Which translated to us needing a hot minute to read the full menu of deceptive descriptions before we could order anything. Also, thinking that five people could read the one beer menu provided by the hostess in the 5.2 seconds before the server reached the table was a lofty expectation at best. Unless you’re printing those things on gold leaves, maybe it’s time to shake up the budget and print a few more to allow for a greater table-to-menu dispersion. Just sayin.

We were all a little thrown when Shane was the one to order the darkest beer at the table. What now? Usually the “can’t see through my beer because it’s the color of the darkest night” award goes to Ted. This is new.

I wish I could remember the names of the beers we ordered, but unfortunately, well, I’m blonde and I didn’t write them down, so that information is lost by this point. Sorry. If it helps, they do rotate taps with some new selections and seasonal flavors, so chances are whatever we ordered isn’t available by the time you’re reading this anyway. So really I’m just saving you the trouble of getting all excited about ordering something they may not have by the time you visit. Yeah. That.

I will say that we enjoyed most of the beers we tried throughout the evening. Jason in particular, as we were all a little shocked when he finished his first beer before we even ordered our meals.

Shane: I know this is a big menu and all, but, seriously, just how long have I been looking at it?

It was another fried appetizer feast for our crew this week. Shane and I ordered the breaded mushrooms, while Ted, Cassi and Jason tempted the 3 Brothers gods and tried the fried pickles.

Newsflash: they weren’t as good. But they were close. They weren’t the thinly cut ones like our favorites, but they were crispy and came with a tasty sauce that definitely had a kick to it. Cassi declared that she could eat a whole plate of the pickles and be happy.

We are destined to order these everywhere now

Meanwhile it took Shane and I a bit to get through our basket of 4,000 breaded mushrooms. Some places we’ve ordered those for an app an it comes out as a handful of button mushrooms caked in batter to make them appear large enough to fill a basket. But here it was like the never-ending fugus bowl. The only thing I wasn’t a particular fan of was the horseradish sauce that came with them – but I think I was in the minority on that sentiment.

We won’t talk about the number of mushrooms that had to die for this order alone

For meals, both Jason and I kept the mushroom theme going by ordering the mushroom Swiss burger. To quote Ted, it must’ve been a “fungi-kind-of-night.”

That sounds bad.

Conversely, the burger was pretty good. Jason said that his was cooked perfectly. He wouldn’t exactly put it on his Top 5 burger list, although if he wanted to adopt Shane’s newly minted Top 7 rating system then maybe it would make the cut.

Actual table conversations, folks. I can’t make this stuff up.

I also thought the burger itself was good, but the giant bun kind of ruined things for me. It was too much unflavored bread, and I abandoned it about halfway through in favor of just eating the inner portion. When you love bread as much as I do, that kills me just a little bit inside – but life is too short to waste on bread that’s not ciabatta.

Once again I apologize to the mushroom gods

Shane also gave up on the bread for his Triple Bypass Burger, because he said it was cutting up his mouth with each bite. That seems like it should be the least of your worries with a sandwich by that name, but whatevs. Instead he ate his burger with a knife and fork, like a sophisticated person.

Stop laughing.

I appreciate the vegetables on the side for the attempt at healthfulness

On the non-burger side of the table, Cassi ordered a side salad and the Green Monster pizza, which she was not a fan of. She said that the chicken on it was dry, and that the pesto didn’t taste as good as she had hoped it would. But at least the bottom wasn’t mushy, so there’s a plus.

See also: the exact opposite of what Shane ordered

Looks better than it tastes. Move along.

Ted won the “I could feed the entire table with my order if we were normal people and ate normal sized portions” award with his pastrami sandwich. Or “headwich,” as it’s called on the menu, as they say that it’s “roughly the size of your head.” Yeah, they aren’t kidding about that. Eating it was definitely a two-handed affair. And watching him eat it was similar to watching him devour the grease-filled burger at The Game a few years back.

Side note: remember Healthy Shane? Those were dark days, my friends.

In any case, Ted finished the entire sandwich … because it tasted really, really good … and of course immediately regretted it, claiming that the last few bites were “under protest.” And he no longer wanted dessert. I think even the server coming over to ask us if we were interested in it made him a tad nauseous.

It’s oozing out of the bun

If you’re noticing in the photos that all of us have fries with our burgers and Ted is the odd man out with chips next to his pastrami sandwich – first of all, kudos for being super observant – but also I feel the need to mention that that wasn’t something we had any control over. Fathead’s is a little bit bossy about their side dish selection. To quote the menu: “House-made chips accompany all Headwiches and sandwiches, fresh-cut fries come with all burgers. It’s just a hassle for our kitchen to switch them around. We don’t want to be dictators but no substitutions. Thanks.”

Um, maybe its just me, but that seems a little harsh. Like what if I’m adverse to potatoes? I mean, that’s tragic all in itself, but far be it from someone to force them onto my plate, right? What if Shane had wanted to be “partially healthy Shane” and order a salad to go with his “hit you in the arteries” burger? It’s like the equivalent of Seinfeld’s soup-Nazi working in the back kitchen on the potato slicer. “No chips for you!”

They also could use a little more focus on the sports bar aspect of most breweries, and less on the “let’s put plants in strange places just to give it a little bit of decoration.” This assessment was made as we all attempted to watch the Cavs game through some foliage that was strategically blocking the bar televisions from our booth sightlines. I mean, if you’re going to serve beer in a midwestern city, isn’t prime access to sports-based TV watching a given? Again, just thinking out loud here.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Cassi

Jason

Shane

Steph

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I still argue that fried vegetables are still vegetables

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

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

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

Picked from the non-spicy side of the garden

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

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

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

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

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

Take two

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

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

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

An unusual sight at our table

So green and non-fried

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

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

That one chop looks so lonely

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

Picked by: Cassi

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 3/28/18: Paramount Pub, Akron

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

Confused yet? We sure are.

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

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

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

Um, what now?

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

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

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

Spelling 101

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry, we’ve already judged you

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

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

They look pretty

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

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

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

That’s some mad skills on the dragon, though

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

Shane’s first round of food

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

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

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

He looks so … natural

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

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

I think there’s a salad under all that cheese

That tree would be prettier without the iPhone shadow across it

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

One of these things is not like the other

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

*gasp*

Right?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me: Because nothing says Asian food like crushed up Doritos

But with this place, who knows.

Orange toppings make Shane think of snack foods

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

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

 

Picked by: Ted

Steph

Shane

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

Cassi

 

WTGW 3/21/18: South End Tavern, Northfield

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Remember that time we passed by a super sketch place called Johnny T’s and I vowed never to let Shane pick it for Fun Wednesday?

Well Shane certainly does.

That same place is now called South End Tavern, and I’m guessing have new owners? Or maybe they just thought a name change was in order? They certainly didn’t think cleaning up the junkyard of old cars out in back of the place was a task worth undertaking. The same old ghetto limo was still parked under a pile of snow at the far back of the parking lot, and they still have the same strange fenced in area in the middle of the lot that we think might be a sand volleyball court? Or just a really high caged in patio – which seems odd, but whatever.

We have nothing to compare the inside to, since – as Shane reminded us on the way in – I’d vowed we would never set foot in the place. But if they did get new owners, I can’t imagine they opened their pocketbooks to do much to the inside. Or I was justified in never wanting to walk into the place if how it is now could be considered “spruced up.”

Anyway.

Wednesdays are apparently trivia nights – we speculated that this may be a newfound marketing scheme along with the name change to bring in more of a crowd. And it worked, because the place was busy … until about 8:30pm. Which, considering the crowd, could potentially be when some of them went to bed. Or maybe the place started to clear out because the first round of trivia took upwards of 90 minutes. Granted we don’t usually partake in trivia, so we don’t know what normal time usually is, but that seemed excessively long, no? We joked that we had no idea how many rounds there were, but there was a good possibility we could pull an all-nighter staying for all of them.

Sidenote: we also overheard someone announce “there’s our competition” when our group walked in clearly looking like we’d never seen the inside of the place before and scouting out a table. Being that we had no clue at that point that it was trivia night, that was definitely taken out of context.

But then Cassi read the words “Trivia Night” on the super fancy mirror of specials along the back wall, and we were set straight. I feel sorry for whoever they borrowed lipstick from to write all of that. Also, 1984 called and would like it’s communication devices back.

We ended up sitting at the bar – because even though the place is fairly spacious inside it only has like three actual tables. Because that’s helpful. I think we all came up with some interior design rendition in our heads that could’ve both eleviated that problem and helped with business, but what do we know.

It’s also worth noting that sitting at the bar – in close proximity to the one bartender who is responsible for the entire place – doesn’t necessarily ensure faster service. So there’s that.

Beers for the guys (they actually have a decent draft list, lots of local crafts) and tequila and soda for me and Cassi. And when I say that, I mean that I think Cassi and I shared an entire bottle of well tequila between our two short glasses. A whole forest of lime trees couldn’t save that disaster.

So needless to say we only had one round of those, and switched to beer.

Obviously we had to get in the jokes about how – given the size and look of the place – we were a bit apprehensive about the menu options. Shane actually hoped they would only be serving wings and burgers, since he’s still trying to redeem himself from that place in Ellet. Cassi admitted she was crossing her fingers that we didn’t manage to sink below that pick to a place that only serves bar snacks and jerky sticks.

But then the bartender hands us these:

Wait, where are we?

I mean, come on

Two sided! Look at all the options!

We also took those pictures of the menus because you’ll be hard pressed to find any mention of the menu online anywhere. So, you’re welcome.

Cassi and Jason got loaded tots for an app, while Shane and I got loaded nachos. For once no one lost in this app war. Cassi really liked the loaded tots – exclaiming after one bite that they were very good. She called them “crispy and delicious.”

How can you go wrong with tiny fried potatoes and cheese?

So no soggy bottoms tonight. Check.

The nachos may not have gotten that rave of a review, but they were still good. The salsa had good flavor, and the toppings were abundant – although I’ll admit it didn’t really look like it when we first got the dish, but then once we dug in it seemed to be bottomless.

Sour cream, anyone?

Ted ordered his usual two whole meals, so who really needs apps? I’ll give the bartender credit, though, as she tried to make sure Ted’s wings came out with our apps, so that we all had food in front of us at the same time. The only problem is that she got Ted’s and Shane’s wing flavors mixed up, so when the Smokehouse wings showed up and Shane claimed those, it meant that Shane had an app and his entire meal, while Ted still had nothing.

Of course we were all more concerned about the fact that Shane ONLY ordered wings – no burger, so pizza, nothing else. What’s wrong with him? Is he trying to starve himself?

He said the wings were just OK. We all commented that they looked like tiny pieces of fried chicken. Which seems like it would be good – but Shane said that they didn’t have much flavor.

It’s like KFC Jr.

Ted got the Carribean jerk wings – which, after the bartender realized her mistake, she worked really hard to get out quickly. Kudos for that. Ted also agreed that the flavor was lacking a bit.

Times two

He also got the BBQ bacon burger. As did Jason. Hmmm, maybe Shane has some competition in the bromance department?

Ted thought the sauce on the burger was sweet – like unexpectedly sweet – and that the bacon was very tough. I mean, not wings from a pizza pub tough, but still. Meanwhile Jason thought the sweet sauce was exactly what made the burger good.

So maybe they’re not food soulmates after all. We tried to make them fight it out but they didn’t go for that idea.

The burger that breaks up friendships

I got the southwest burger with tots. Cassi was right – the tots were delicious. And the burger was very good. Good flavor, toppings not overwhelming but enough to give it something more than just the taste of meat and bread.

Crispy tots for the win

Cassi got the steak philly with sweet ptato fries. She said it was excellent. She would come back just to get that sandwich again, it was that good.

I’ll take things we didn’t expect to come out of the kitchen here for $1,000 please

Overall the crowd was odd, the mixed drinks weren’t good, and the bartender was nice but more than a little flaky … but the food was surprisingly very good and they had a decent draft list so I guess if that’s what you’re in the mood for, you’re golden. They also have a large projection TV facing into the odd little room across from the bar so at least while sitting where we were at the bar we were entertained – but note that two of the space’s three existing tables are also right there in the path of the projection (and they’re high tops to boot), so if you decide to sit there you may end up either being part of the show or wondering why everyone keeps staring at you as you try to eat your sandwich. And there may be a patio out back – I mean, aside from the large high-fenced in area – so we might have to return when Mother Nature finally decides to grace spring upon northeast Ohio and check that out.

We forgot to take our photos before we left, so you’ll have to survive without seeing our smiling faces this week. Instead I’ll just leave this here, and you can use your imagination.Picked by: Cassi

 

WTGW 3/14/18: Stowaway Pub, Stow

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There’s just something about that bar/restaurant wedged into a strip plaza between a flower shop and a “checks cashed here” storefront, tucked back from the main road behind a couple of chain fast food joints, that screams “welcome on in, random stranger, I’m sure you’re going to love it here.”

No? Really? Oh, well … OK then. Carry on.

As Shane announced the name of this week’s destination, Ted and I both nodded our heads, since I think this has been on everyone’s list of “maybe” places since about the beginning of Fun Wednesdays. We’ve driven past it approximately 1,000 times, and I think we’ve all uttered the sentence “well I was going to pick the Stowaway Pub, but then I saw this place instead …” at some point in time or another. And somehow we just never made it inside.

Well now is finally your time, Stowaway Pub.

The first thing we noticed on entry was that the place is super small on the inside. Which, I mean, it’s in a strip plaza so it’s not like we expected the place to open into a room the size of a Costco or anything, but still. There were a few high tops near the door, and about 4-5 booths along the wall, and then seats at the bar.

So, good thing we aren’t claustrophobic.

We at first veered toward a high top at the front of the bar, but then collectively realized that it probably wouldn’t hold all of our food. Because, well, us. I mean, come on. At least we heed our lessons and learn from them.

Another lesson we’ve learned … it makes total sense to order ALL. THE. APPS. as soon as we sit down, and before ordering a full meal.

I know, we just ooze brilliance in this group.

Shane had heard/read somewhere that the onion rings were the bomb, so he definitely wanted those. Cassi followed suit and also got an order for herself. And then add to that an order of J-Bombs (which is really just a fancy way to say “jalepeno popper,” it seems) for me and Shane. Who needs healthy cholesterol levels and good, strong arteries?

The onion rings were definitely a good choice. They were lightly breaded, which I believe is onion ring code for not retaining pockets of grease and cake-like pieces of batter as onion rings can often be known to do. Our biggest gripe seemed to be that they only give you like 5-6 rings in the basket. For like $5. Um. OK. I mean, I realize I’m no math wizard or anything, but when you’re looking at about $1 an onion ring I kind of start to scrutinize a tad more.

Too bad these don’t spontaneously multiply on their own

Cassi – well, I finished my first basket, now what am i going to do?

Sadly the J-Bombs were a dull consolation prize. But we did offer.

It looks like the one on the bottom is trying to hatch

Ted ordered calamari – because after Shane’s perpetual year of research in how different places prepare the dish (and by that I really mean ordering it everywhere just because it was on the menu), Ted pointed out that we actually haven’t had it for a while.

And guess what? We’ll have to wait a little longer, because the server returned to the table a few minutes after we put in the order to let us know that they were all out. Bummer.

Ted was so upset that he ended up passing on the appetizer course of the evening altogether. Well, and also because he already decided that he was getting an order of wings with his meal.

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll recognize this move as what we’d like to call moderation.

The economical nonsense of the onion rings carried over into our burger selection, as Cassi speculated aloud whether to get the 1/4 lb burger or the 1/2 lb. I reasoned that for $1.50 more you’re better to off to just get the larger one. I mean, really. Double the size for $1.50 more? That seems to be a no-brainer.

Ted: Impressive sales pitch.

I mean, I am in marketing after all.

But it worked, as I got the half pound mushroom Swiss burger, while Cassi got the half pound Stowaway burger.

There’s a burger under there somewhere. Honest.

It looks like it’s wearing a hat

They aren’t playing around

The burgers ended up being really good. They use fresh, large patties, that seemed to be well seasoned and not over-loaded on toppings. Well, unless you consider grease a topping, in which case they kind of out did themselves on that front. We’re not talking Shane’s wings creating an oil slick on the table kind of greasy, but let’s just say it was enough that Cassi had the unfortunate luck of another week dealing with a mushy bottom.

We really should trademark these things.

While us girls were over here enjoying our giant burgers, the guys decided to get all dainty on us and order mini-burgers. Or, as places now like to call them, sliders. Which I’ve always thought just makes them sound somewhat gross, but whatever, clearly it’s only me that feels this way because it now seems to be industry standard to speak about a meal as if it’s taking a joyride right down your throat.

See? You’re thinking about it now, and I’m not all that crazy.

Anyway, sliders are on special at Stowaway Pub on Wednesday nights, $1.00 each with seemingly no limit. Of course Shane interrogated the server with his usual 20 questions about the size and shape and texture and color and toppings and how many should he order … because, well, Shane. He was pretty well decided on ordering five, until the server (a small blonde girl) claimed she could eat that many, so Shane upped it to 7. And then proceeded to pick about 17 different cheeses for them.

It’s like a small army of hamburgers

Ted also got four of the sliders, and made up for Shane’s complicated cheese order by ordering his with no cheese at all.

Sparing so expense on the condiments obviously

The sliders turned out to be pretty good. I mean, you don’t expect much for $1.00, but compared to the burgers that Cassi and I had ordered, these were pretty much kind of like cute little replicas. They were made fresh just like the larger burgers, and cooked just right. Shane’s one complaint was that he said there seemed to be too much bread, given the smaller patties. But I guess if you really care that much you could just take all the patties off of the bread, mush them together into one big burger and eat them that way. It wouldn’t be pretty – and in Shane’s case you’d be mixing cheese like a boss – but it solves that whole bread conundrum.

Ted also got the Spicy Garlic Cajun wings – which inspired a convo about that combination and whether it’s the perfect combination of seasonings, or really just too much going on in one wing order.

Please, share your thoughts with us.

I’ll start …  according to Ted, it may have been the perfect combination, if only they had actually used all three parts of it. Needless to say, he was somewhat disappointed. The wings were big, but they had no spice to them. (that’s what she said … I know, these things just write themselves sometimes, don’t they?) The Garlic and Cajun flavors were there, but the “spicy” part of the combination seemed to somehow skip town before the plate hit the table. He thought it would’ve been better if they would’ve added hot sauce or something at the end to make them spicier. Or maybe just take that part out of the title and call them Garlic Cajun wings. Whatevs.

I’ll take the personality crisis wings, please

When we finished the onion rings earlier, Shane had claimed we should’ve gotten another basket, since they were so good. As much as I balked about the $1/ring scam they were running, my response was that really we could get another basket, since he only ordered sliders and that meant that his meal was only a grand total of $7.00.

Shane – anyone remember my last great meal for $7?

Hint – it’s the infamous steak dinner at The Dougout. How could you possibly forget? He only brings it up every time someone talks about a bargain meal.

And in return, the rest of the group takes any opportunity possible to bring up Shane’s pick where the menu consisted of two simple items: wings and burgers. I think we’re on about a two-month streak now of mentioning that every time we all get together. That quite possibly beats the old Gus’s Chalet beating we gave Ted for many consecutive months.

Although this time I had to laugh, as I looked around our table, and realized that, given an entire menu of options, what did we gravitate to? Burgers and wings. Huh.

Keeping on the economical theme of the evening, Shane switched from his first round of Jameson and ginger ale to the Long Islands that were on special on Wednesdays for $3.50. Which was a bad move. They turned out to definitely only be worth $3.50, and Shane definitely only had one of them.

You win some, you lose some, I guess.

We noticed at some point in the evening that the high top tables we had almost seated ourselves at earlier in the night had been taken over by people playing in a dart league. Which spurred a conversation about our affinity for finding places where dart leagues meet on Wednesday evenings, and how we may or may not eventually get hit by a sharp object as we attempt to walk in the door. Who’s up for a revisit to Franks Place?

Picked by: Shane

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Pirate Shane

Happy Shane

Stop Taking Pictures of Me Shane

Stowaway Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampires beware

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

Edible wings

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

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

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

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

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

I feel like this is a circular conversation.

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

Dripping with melted cheese

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

Bun close up

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

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

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

Ted

Shane

Steph

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