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 7/12/14: 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

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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

WTGW 4/19/17: REVISIT – Blue Willow Lounge, Macedonia

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It’s another “this adventure could’ve gone a totally different way” week here, as Shane originally tried to take us back to PatDees in Northfield for a revisit, but was thwarted by a road closure. Damn you ODOT!

So in a literal last second change up, here we are at the Blue Willow Lounge.

This little hidden gem is tucked away behind a gas station on a slightly-off-the-beaten-path section of Rt 82 (aka not in the land of huge strip plazas a few miles to the west) in Macedonia. Although we noticed since our last visit that the road to access the Blue Willow is now an access street to the highway ramp that was recently moved – so maybe they’re getting a little more attention these days.

Let’s hope so, because it’s well deserved.

We were genuinely surprised at how good this place was the first time we went. After Shane’s claim that the place is the “oldest bar in Macedonia” – something none of us have ever been able to substantiate, by the way – I remember being more than a little concerned for what we might be getting ourselves into. But the Blue Willow ended up having some of the best burgers we’ve ever tasted in our years of WTGW adventures, a fun atmosphere, and outstanding service (especially considering there was essentially one person manning both the bar and the tables) from a server who called Ted a pussy for downsizing his Christmas Ale in the second round.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record from last week, tell me again why we haven’t been back here more often?

Right.

We were happy to hear that Wednesdays are still $5.95 burger nights at the Blue Willow. Although it seems to have morphed from “build your own burger night” to “just pick a burger and we’ll charge you $5.95 for it night.” Maybe we were still living 2.5 years in the past, because we thought we heard a “build your own” option in there when the server was explaining it … but the list of toppings to build from seemed to be invisible on our menus. After flipping it over about 400 times, Ted finally broke down and asked where the toppings were, and the server just kind of gave him the “well, there’s no list, just, you know, whatever you want on your burger.”

Oh, OK, so just pick something that sounds good on a burger and they’ll let you know they have it, then? Perfect. Sounds great. It’s like 20 questions with condiments.

But it didn’t deter us – because, well, “burgers” seems to be a theme for us now. I mean, set aside the fact that it’s the daily special at Blue Willow, between this week and last week we seem to have turned WTGW into a tour of all the burger places we really like but haven’t been back to in ages.

Note to self: I gotta change it up with my next pick.

Anyway.

Ted got the Cajun burger – minus cheese, of course, but with lettuce and tomato. Shane also got the Cajun burger, minus lettuce and tomato – but WITH cheese.

There were more chips on that plate before I took this picture, Honest.

Ignore the crumbs. You’d think we hadn’t eaten for days or that I had to drive across the state to fetch my camera.

They’re like yin and yang, those two. This is why they’re friends.

Not wanting to copy the bromance brothers, I decided to challenge the “build your own” philosophy, with lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese and mushrooms. I think I asked for each of those items as a question, thinking at any moment she could tell me that wasn’t one of the nonexistent options.

You can’t see the toppings, but they’re there.

We all also got the homemade chips, since they were free and the fries were $1.00 more. Ironically, looking back on our first visit, it was the fries that were free and the chips that were $1.00 more. Since they’re both made from potatoes, I’m a little perplexed at the inflationary costs of one versus the other, but whatever.

Because clearly he didn’t trust the size of these burgers like he did Windsor Pub, Ted also got 12 of the Thai wings. Better to be safe than sorry, I guess.

A full meal as an appetizer. Glad to see we’re back to normal around here.

Shane and I also got breaded mushrooms. Of which Shane actually asked me before he ordered them “hey, would you eat some of these if I get them.”

Please. It’s like he hardly knows me.

They’re vegetables, so they’re still considered healthy, right?

We noticed that the food seemed to take a particularly long time to come out after we ordered. Especially considering the place wasn’t by any means packed. I mean, it should be noted that Shane continuously made the “our food is taking FOREVER” observation whilst very hungry, so take that with a grain of salt. But even those of us not about to eat our own arms did think it was a longer than usual wait time.

And when our meals finally did arrive, it was unceremoniously all at once. So much for that whole “appetizer” concept, I guess.

Now, granted there was only one server/bartender working the whole place – the large bar area (which was always very full, almost every seat taken), as well as the tables nearby (not quite as full, but just by location alone still a hassle to have to walk out from behind the bar to check on). But I don’t think it was her fault the food took a while. She was very good, coming out from behind the bar several times to check on us and even telling us to yell at her or do whatever if we needed her attention. But to be brutally honest – and I even said this the last time we were there, years ago – they could really use two people working there on any given night. I mean, the night we were there the bar was pretty full but there were only a few people seated at the tables – I couldn’t imagine if all the tables were full and there was only one person trying to do everything. Again, our server was amazing … but for her sake I wish they would staff a little better.

*exiting soapbox now*

I’m happy to say that the burgers were still as good as we remembered. They’re cooked to order, and very juicy. Shane was a bit upset that they “didn’t crumble like Windsor Pub’s,” – but regardless they still passed his test.

Now that’s a handful of meat.
Wait, what?

Word of warning, they might look small when you first see them on the plate, but they’re actually really thick. They’re tall and thick, not short and flat.

File that under: words I never thought I would utter until I started composing a food blog. Carry on.

I also really liked the homemade chips. They didn’t indicate on the menu that they were homemade, so I was expecting a handful of Lay’s or something similar on my plate with my burger – which made these a nice surprise. They were crunchy but not greasy. The only thing that would’ve made them more perfect is a french onion dip on the side. But if you add that then they would probably not be the “free side” anymore … and the cycle continues. You’re welcome, French fries.

Shane said he wished he would’ve gotten the Willow Classic burger instead of the Cajun. Once he bit into this burger he remembered that wasn’t the same one he got last time and that he wished he’d gotten that one again. But then again he also said he really didn’t taste his food since he was so hungry, so there’s that.

Ted really liked the Thai wings, although with the burger too he only ate about 10 of the 12. For shame. He said his burger was cooked well, but it didn’t really taste Cajun-y. I think he was looking for more of a blackened and seasoned taste. Although he skipped the pepper jack cheese, and we all know that makes a cajun dish, right?

If we have a complaint with the Blue Willow Lounge, it’s that the beer list is a little lacking. Case in point: Ted asked about dark beers … and ended up with a Fat Tire. So I guess “amber” is considered dark in these parts. Noted. Likewise, I asked about ciders, and the only option was Angry Orchard. Which, OK, sure, I guess I should just be happy they at least had something … but I like options, I guess. I’m a girl. Sue me.

Shane went with a rum and diet, and was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t as light in color as it was last week. Or as cheap.

I do appreciate that the server brought us cold glasses with my cider and Ted’s bottled beer. We gave them back to her, though. I mean, we drink out of bottles. We’re not classy folk.

Shane had three rum and diets, and when she came over to ask if he wanted another he answered “no, I’m driving.”

Me: Usually the answer to that is “well, I’m driving, so yes.” What’s happened to us?

All said and done, mine and Shane’s bill for the night was $38. Not too shabby for an app, two fairly large burgers with sides of chips, two ciders and three mixed drinks. In a stroke of irony, the mixed drinks were actually only .50 more than my bottled cider. Lesson learned there, I guess. For the next revisit, of course.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Ted

Steph

Shane

Blue Willow Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato