WTGW 11/22/17: REVISIT – Mike’s Place, Kent

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This year’s Night Before Thanksgiving visit comes to us courtesy of the motto “safety first,” lest we try a new place and have another Shane food poisoning incident like the Thanksgiving of 2014. *shudder*

And what better safe bet to go with than Mike’s Place in Kent. Good call, Ted. I mean, they do quite literally have a litte bit of everything. Breakfast all day? Sure – do you want pancakes, waffles, eggs, or bacon? In the mood for sandwiches? They have about 75. Dinners? Yep, pick anything from Italian to Chinese to Southern BBQ. Really craving something you once had at Applebee’s? It’s probably the dish labeled “I Stole This Item From a Chain Restaurant.” I mean, I can’t say 100%, but that’s how I read that one anyway.

It’s also one of those places we could probably come to every night for an entire year and still not order every single item on the menu. I mean, take a look online. It’s like a short novel. I think I’ve read Cliff’s Notes booklets with fewer words. I honestly don’t think I’ve even read the whole thing yet. It’s like at some point you have to just kind of find something you like and stick with it, or else three hours later you’ll still be reading. And hungrier.

Although we did notice that they changed the menu since our last visit in the summer of 2015. Well, I mean, they changed the layout anyway. If they added or deleted anything we’d never know. Because rest assured it still has just as many words. You know there’s a lot to choose from when we all go silent for about 15 minutes just trying to figure out what we want to order.

To that point, our server comes back over like 10 minutes after we sit down and asks if we need more time before we order. Um, that’s a giant hell yes. Who doesn’t? Come on. I was barely past the appetizers.

At least the drink menus were easy to decipher. Ciders all around except for Ted, who had to quiz the server on nitro taps and other fancy sounding things before he could determine which beer he wanted to order.

He was very confident about his appetizer choice, though, announcing to the table that he’s ordering the “pound of chips.” Hmm, any guesses on what that entails, exactly? I mean, way to beat around the bush on that title.

But then they arrived.

Do they count the basket and sauce cup in the weight?

Is it just us, or did that name lead to a far more impressive picture in your head than this? Me thinks the scale might be broken at your place, Mike. But kudos on the marketing genius in your naming. Sold us.

We all ended up with side salads, either as a side option to our meal, or because we were trying to keep up at least a facade of somewhat healthy eating on the eve of the biggest food holiday of the year. Well, everyone except Ted, who shunned the salad in favor of enjoying a lovely cup of applesauce instead. Mmmmm.

It’s so dainty

Also note that in the background of my salad photo you can clearly see Shane slathering his healthy salad in completely unhealthy blue cheese dressing. Because, Shane.

Which of these would you rather eat?

While I’d like to blame our ordering of enough food for an army on our indecision over the novel of a menu … but who am I kidding. You all know by now that this is just something we do. Well, I mean, as long as there’s more than two items on the menu to choose from anyway.

Sorry Shane, that still hasn’t gotten old.

Anyway, my point is that when the server arrived with our meals of course there wasn’t enough room on the table for all of the plates, so Ted tried to be helpful by removing the tiny cup that had held his applesauce. Because that was what was holding things up for sure. Especially when he was then was given a similar sized cup of cole slaw. Fail.

Ted and his collection of tiny cups

Ted’s main meal was the ribs and chicken dinner – which is a half rack of ribs and a few pieces of chicken. He ate it all, and said he was “very full” by the time we left. Must’ve been all that applesauce and cole slaw.

Shane’s favorite part of Ted’s meal was his moist towelettes, which he insisted he had to have a photo with.

Shane would like to remind everyone about the importance of having MOIST towelettes at the table

Did we mention MOIST?

Anyway.

Shane ordered six of the Italian parm wings and the blue bomber burger. And of course that side salad.

That’s a knife in the top of the burger, in case you’re wondering

He said the burger wasn’t so great. It was OK, but a little well done for his taste – and he had specified medium rare. Apparently whoever cooks the burgers also measures the chips?

But at least the other half of his meal – the wings – were excellent. I tried one of them, too, and agreed that they were delicious. The sauce was like Italian dressing with parm cheese – which I guess makes sense given the that they are Italian parm wings – but, you know, we’ve been burned on names already so given the chip debacle these could’ve come out slathered in BBQ sauce for all we knew. But it was a nice change from the usual garlic parm sauce that most every win place offers.

These might’ve been some of the most flavorful wings I’ve ever tasted

Cassi ordered the pierogis and an 8-slice pizza, proclaiminig that if she didn’t finish it all then she would take it home to Jason.

Shane, upon hearing her order: Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever tried the pizza here. That’s odd.
The rest of the table, all of our readers, and pretty much anyone who knows Shane: Huh, yeah, I agree, that is odd.

Turns out he must’ve somehow known to stay away, since Cassi proclaimed the crust to be “doughy.” Which is pretty much the only kind of pizza crust that Shane doesn’t enjoy. Shane’s psychic powers are strong when it comes to food sometimes.

Looks better than it tastes apparently

She did say that the pierogis were good, though. Guess what Jason isn’t getting in his leftover package.

Little pillows of happiness

I got the Mucho Meat Melt sandwich – which of course made everyone laugh when I ordered it, because we’re 12. It was just OK. There was almost too much going on there – between the pepperoni, salami, and actual cut links of Italian sausage. Unlike the pound of chips, the name of this sandwich was about as true as you could get. It was more than enough food to make me full, and I didn’t even finish all of it.

I know, there’s a joke in there. I’m not missing it, I’m just choosing to ignore it.

My knife is a little less strategically placed

Overall we’ll all agree that Mike’s is a great place. It’s a great place to take guests or large groups, since there will always be something for everyone on the menu. Can’t decide between sandwiches, wings, BBQ, Italian or Chinese? Yeah, its all here. We joked that we could start a whole other evening out just going there once a week and trying something new. Mike’s Place Mondays? Maybe I should register the website now just in case.

Picked by Ted

Ted

Shane

Cassi

Steph

 

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WTGW 11/1/17: The Brew Kettle, Hudson

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

Mmm, a whole loaf of bread just for us

Beer cheese overflowing

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

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

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

This place clearly believes that foods should not touch one another

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

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

Fried goodness

How can pasta and cheese ever not be good together?

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

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

Now that’s a sandwich

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

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

Triple pig + sides, stacked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are all of Shane’s beers that dark?

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

Picked by: Shane

Steph

Cassi

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

Jason

Ted

Shane

WTGW 9/27/17: John’s Bar & Grille, Canton

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I didn’t have a lot of time to do my usual scan of all of the review sites prior to picking a place this week, so I was taking a bit of a leap of faith by choosing John’s Bar. Of course after last week’s limited menu fiasco I figured I couldn’t really do so bad, right?

Eh, not so fast. I started to rethink that philosophy pretty much as soon as we walked into this place, and were hit by the smell of … well, the only way to describe it is “old people” Did we get the door to the nursing home instead? Is John’s Bar really just John’s house and he’s been inviting people over for 80 years?

It was also super quiet, even in the bar area. Another indication that we could easily be the youngest people in the place by a good many decades. I was beginning to get nervous that we were on the level of a certain place that starts with a “G” and we try to avoid naming anymore.

Redemption came in the form of a giant list of craft beers. Whew. At least Ted was happy. He got something so dark that later there was a debate about whether a bug had fallen into his drink … and we couldn’t say for certain if it had or not.

Shane, coming off a weekend where he overindulged in that same substance (minus the potential extra protein from bugs), not so much. He went with a Captain and ginger ale. And later switched to my drink of choice, the ginger peach mule, once he relized mine was yummy and that his mixed drink came in a glass clearly made for people with smaller liver capacity.

Our server started out impressing us when she announced she would bring us some waters while we perused the drink menus … and then, noting the crestfalled looks on our faces, announced “screw water, let’s get the drinks in.” That’s the spirit. And she brought the alcohol out BEFORE the waters, another smart move. Although I messed with her when she dropped the waters off by saying “well FINALLY, there’s those waters we’ve been waiting for” – which made her laugh.

Clearly our alcoholism is worn on our sleeves.

It seemed for a bit that this place had Ted written all over it – first the craft beers, then, on the app menu: steak on a stick. Because we all know Ted loves a meat lollipop.

Wait, that sounds bad.

It took us a hot minute to decide on orders. Because that’s what happens when you have a full menu and not two items like last week.

FYI, that probably won’t get old for a while, so you should probably get used to those jokes now.

Shane and I got the chips and dip for an app.

More dip than chips. Well done

It was good, we were impressed with the fact that they give you more than enough dip for the chips – and we’re generous with our dipping, but still had some left over. The dip had really good flavor to it, but some of the chips were soggy and could’ve been cooked longer.

Cassi got the beer cheese and pretzels. She said it was OK. The pretzels were basically the kind you can buy in a box at the grocery store and microwave for 90 seconds after wetting them down and spreading salt on them. For a place that touts making their own pizza dough that seemed a little odd, no?

These took a little longer than 90 seconds to cook

Ted opted for the calamari with peppers. Which unexpectedly came with cheese baked on top – that’s new, and of course cheese-hater Ted was overly thrilled. It was a fun game watching him scrape that off with each bite.

Never thought to ask for no cheese

But he liked it nonetheless. He said it was spicy and the peppers were especially tasty.

Also noted that there were more items in Ted’s calamari than there were on the entire menu last week. Welcome to the new Gus’s joke. See, I told you this won’t get old for a bit

Shane was less amused than all of us. Clearly.

Speaking of Shane, he had ordered wings as part of his meal, and those were also delivered along with the apps, which of course he wasn’t complaining about. Until he tried them, and proclaimed them the saltiest wings he’d ever eaten. Like saltier than the “salt and vinegar flavored wings he occasionally gets at other wing places. Like he may as well have just dipped his finger in a salt shaker and sucked on that instead.

The high blood pressure special

Mmmmm.

Good thing he had that tiny glass of a mixed drink – and no sign of the server for what seemed like an eternity. It’s like the perfect storm of thirst.

Of course I made fun of Shane when he was complaining about having no drink … as there actually was a full mason jar of water sitting in front of him, that just wasn’t what he wanted to drink. That came back to bite me later, when both Cassi and I ordered round two of our drinks … and hers arrived while mine didn’t. For a very long time. Alcoholic karma.

Shane got a pizza as the rest of his meal, which came with a side salad. Shane’s word for the salad was “mushy.” That’s a new one. And the worst part was that he was actually looking forward to that salad – which may be a first, especially when this wasn’t even at a time when he’s being “healthy Shane.” And then it was disappointing that it was so awful.

Mmm, wilted lettuce. My favorite

Cassi and I each got the “Big John” angus burgers. Which didn’t seem all that big when they actually arrived. Interesting. They were also missing cheese. I guess maybe Ted’s request of no cheese translated to all of us? Yeah, no. The server took them back, and they added cheese to the burgers … and stuck the plates under a hot lamp to melt it. Which kind of ruined the burger by making it more well done and dry, and the bread taste weird. I didn’t eat the bread at all, which if you’ve been following along here you know is something you hardly ever hear from me.

Looks great until you lift the lid and notice it’s missing cheese

Ditto

But at least the fries – which were lukewarm to begin with – then became the proper temperature. Score?

Ted ordered the Grecian burger, which he thought was to be made with lamb meat, but he said tasted just like regular meat. OK. But at least he was happy about the lack of cheese on his. He did say it lacked spices, though.

The not-Greek burger. With no cheese. Or salt.

Which apparently was because they all went to Shane, who said that the pizza – just like the wings – was the saltiest pizza he’d ever eaten. OK, either Shane’s taste buds are tuned to “salt” tonight, or this place just likes to play chicken with people’s salt intakes.

Looks better than it tastes

I mean, why in the world would you put salt on a pizza, of all things? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say “I’ll take the ‘triple your salt intake pizza,’ please.” Shane was convinced that he may not be able to open his eyes in the morning due to the swelling.

Although we had to laugh because when the server came back to check on us and asked specifically how the pizza was (since Shane had asked her if it was a specialty there at John’s and she made a big deal about how they make their own dough), Shane could’ve won an Academy Award for the exuberance with which he gushed about how much he liked it. He even took a few pieces home in a to-go box. Which, if you’re playing along at home – the fact that he didn’t finish his (relatively small) pizza there in the restaurant was a clue that he didn’t like it, so I’m surprised he even bothered to take it home. Guess he wants to give high blood pressure another chance to set in? Awesome.

Remember what I said about 80 year olds frequenting the place? So aside from the weird smells and the quiet and the table of old men behind us clearly having their weekly guy’s night dinner out, there was this exchange at the end of the meal:

Server, pointing to the bread basket on the table with thick slices of Italian bread still in it: So, do you want to take the bread home?
(quizzical looks from around the table)
Server, looking at me an Cassi: Maybe you want to make your husbands french toast in the morning?
(more quizzical looks)
Server: We get a lot of older ladies in and they fight over taking that bread home so they can make french toast for their husbands.
Me: Uh, yeah, if my husband wants french toast he can make it his own damn self
Cassi, after the server walked away: Can we just talk about how many things are wrong with that statement? Like, first of all, we have jobs?

I’ll take questionably sexist bread for 1,000 please

Sorry John – your bar won’t be a revisit.

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Shane and his now least favorite condiment

Cassi

Ted

 

John's Bar & Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/20/17: Springfield Tavern, Ellet

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You guys. You know how we’re always joking around that we’re going to go to a place and order ALL THE FOOD because we’re so freaking hungry?

This week we did just that. That’s right – we actually ordered every. single. thing. they had on the menu.

You’ll be far less impressed, I’m sure, when you hear exactly what that entailed. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So Shane didn’t venture far this week from his last amazing pick of Theo’s. Although I guess we can just be glad that at least this time there wasn’t an elderly person’s walker greeting us as we walked in. A slightly intimidating maze of doors, sure, but no walkers or sloppily drunk women trying to find their way out.

The Springfield Tavern is smaller on the inside than what it looks. You don’t hear that very often, right? Maybe it’s all the doors. I only needed one hand to count all the tables in the place. And even though they were larger tables, this didn’t seem like exactly the type of place that welcomes strangers to just plop down beside you at the same table a share a meal.

There are seats at the bar, too, but those seemed to be reserved for people barely able to open their eyes.

Sounds delightful so far, no? And we haven’t even touched on the patio outside where we pretty much witnessed soft porn as we drove into the parking lot.

Ah, Fun Wednesdays, you never disappoint. Especially considering this was the first time out for our special guest Cassi. I won’t be surprised if she opts to never accept an invitation from us on this day of the week ever again.

There’s no draft beer at this place. Slightly surprising, but we all do enjoy a mixed drink so at least there’s that. Ted orders a captain and ginger ale, the rest of us order our other mixed drinks … and the bartender (who is also the server, because, well, I think my living room is bigger than this entire bar) as she walks away recites our order back to us … and has Ted’s as a captain and coke. Ted seemed unfazed.

Cassi: You know you’re getting a Captain and Coke right?
Ted: Really? I don’t think so.

Sure enough, as soon as she makes the captain and coke she yells over “wait, was that coke or ginger ale?”

Cassi: Told you so.

So she makes the right drink – and of course she and the other bartender (who may or may not have actually been on shift, or perhaps was just there hanging out? We never really figured that one out) didn’t let the captain and coke go to waste. Guess those hard of hearing skills can be put to some good use after all.

More evidence that this is definitely a drinker’s establishment: Cassi and I had ordered tequila and sodas, and they asked which kind of tequila. Cassi asked for Don Julio, and they responded that they aren’t allowed to keep that one at the bar anymore because they usually are the ones to drink it all.

Classy.

So here comes the part where we ask for menus … and are told that they are currently “redoing the menu.” Um, OK. But no fear, we were instead directed to the neon dry erase board above the bar showcasing the two options for food at the Springfield Tavern: burgers (two, with fries, for $7.99), and wings (10 for $9.99). That’s it.

Granted those are usually our staples anyway, but it’s funny how once you’re presented with those as the ONLY options, you kind of don’t want them anymore.

Well, except for Ted apparently, who – when Shane looked around the table and asked if we were OK with this (since obviously his extensive google searching for reviews on this place failed to alert him to this conundrum) – promptly replies “Sure, sounds great to me!”

Well great. Now the rest of us look like jackasses if we say we don’t want to stay. Thanks, Ted.

And so, yeah, we ordered everything on the menu. Shane and Ted – not surprisingly – each got both the burgers AND the wings for themselves, while Cassi and I each opted for wings with a side of fries.

Wings, take one: Hot

Wings, take two: Arizona Ranch

Wings, take three: BBQ

And last but not least, Mild

The wings were just OK. They were pretty large, so that was a nice revelation. So large that Cassi and I each left a few of our 10 in the basket by the time our meals were over. Probably could’ve done without the fries, in that case, but honestly I kind of thought those were the best part of the meal.

I’m a sucker for good fries fresh from the fryer

I thought the mild wings had some kick to them – and I’m usually in the “yes, I like spicy things” camp. Cassi said her BBQ wings had some heat to them also, which is unusual.

Although maybe we were both just being babies that night, because Ted buzzed through his Hot wings like they were pretzel sticks. Guess they didn’t have the same habenero peppers in them that the place formerly known as Ripper’s Rock House  uses in their drinks.

Shane didn’t say anything about his wings, which leads me to believe they weren’t that great.

The burgers were sold to us by the server as being “smallish” -and so that’s why you get two of them with the meal. So I guess I was kind of expecting sliders to show up at our table. Yeah, no. They were actually more like the size of a McDonald’s regular hamburger. Not huge, but definitely bigger than sliders. Like I couldn’t probably eaten one burger with fries and been happy. But that’s just me. Of course the boys placed their entries for the clean plate club, as usual.

Basic burger and bun, repeat

The guys said they were definitely frozen patties, not fresh – again, not really a surprise given the locale and the vibe of the place. But they also said weren’t cardboard flavored. Score? And also that something about the bun made them “sweet.”

Yeah, I don’t get it either, just reporting back what they said. Don’t shoot the blog writer.

We had to ask about the giant prize wheel they have behind the bar, which we could see but not make out the actual prize selections up for grabs. The server told us that it’s $1.00 to spin, and you can win such fabulous prizes as “free parking” (in the lot that we certainly didn’t pay to park in), “$2 fireball shots” (is it still winning if you have to shell out more money to claim it? It’s like those emails promising 45 billion dollars in a South African bank account in your name if only you provide your social security number, birth date and a check for $1,000), and “free beer yesterday” (slight time/space continuum issue there in claiming that, I think). Finally, a place that appreciates sarcasm as much as I do.

Although I think she may have glossed over what happens to the $1.00 you donate to spin. If I had to guess I’d say perhaps it goes the same route as the two “accidental” Captain and cokes she made Ted over the course of the evening.

Feeling lucky that day, Ted threw in $1 to spin. He won free beer yesterday, which he assured us tasted fantastic.

We all agreed that there was decent people watching … and by that I mean there was lots of epic facial hair, and what I can only assume to be regulars that we were glad left well before we also ventured back out onto the roadways. Maybe getting rid of that menu wasn’t such a good choice after all. I should also mention that while the story about “currently redoing the menu” made it sound like this is a temporary situation, the server seemed pretty happy about the fact that there were only two options up for grabs. So who knows if that will actually change back. Or maybe they just need to start offering “free bread and water” on that magic prize wheel of theirs.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Shane

Ted

Steph

Cassi

WTGW 9/13/17: 3 Brothers Corner Tavern, Canton

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I kind of curse Ted this week, since this is one of those places I’ve had on my “possibilities” list forever but never got around to making the drive back to Canton to pick. And of course it couldn’t be a place we end up hating. I mean, I know he’s still redeeming himself from Gus’s Chalet, so guess I should let him have this one … but still.

Anyway.

I can’t actually tell you where in Canton we were, since Google Maps directions took us off the highway what seemed to be about 20 miles too early, and we were then left wandering through farm country back roads until we got to the place. Shane of course revived the running joke about us going to dinner at someone’s house.

I have to admit that given the appearance of many of the houses we drove past in this area, it wouldn’t have been a completely unwelcome idea. At least not on our end anyway. Those whose driveway we might’ve turned down would probably have differing opinions. You’ll have that, I guess.

So 3 Brothers is owned by the same people who own a couple of other Canton establishments like Table Six and 91 Wood Fired Pizza Grille. It seems they have a thing with numbers?

And while the place looked great from the outside – located on the corner end of a strip plaza – the giant group of senior citizens leaving as we were pulling up gave us all a reason to cross glances and comment on what this place could potentially be like inside.

The Gus’s sting still runs hard, folks.

Although despite two comments about good old Gus’s already in this post, I assure you there were no other similarities between these two places to tell you about. In fact, I think Ted finally redeemed himself.

3 Brothers is really nice on the inside – basically an upscale sports bar. Lots of TVs on the walls and around the bar in the center of the space, and each booth also comes equipped with its own TV (and they even trust us with the remote – take that Dante’s, who wouldn’t even leave me alone with more than one rocks glass).

Our server came over to take our drink order, and when we asked about draft beers she nicely read us the draft list on the wall instead of just pointing to it for us to read and telling us to pay attention. She may have been saying those words to us inside her head, but her tact in keeping them to herself was noted and appreciated.

Ted went with something dark-ish, and Shane and I opted for summer shandy. Because when you can still get that in the middle of September (otherwise known as the start of “pumpkin everything” season) you capitalize on it.

Although, side note, the guys later sampled and then ordered the Atomic Pumpkin beer that was on tap, and I was slightly upset that I hadn’t gotten that one also. It was my favorite type of pumpkin beer – the kind where it doesn’t taste like you’re drinking beer that’s been mellowing out inside of a giant hollowed out pumpkin, but instead has a more subtle pumpkin flavor with some cinnamon and nutmeg. Pie trumps jack o’lantern anyday.

So the first thing we noticed on the menu was the prices:

Is this new math?

See anything odd there? I think I’m on to something with that numbers theme that the owners seem to have going on. I mean, why end your prices in the industry standard of zeros or fives or nines when you can instead go with threes? That’s simple.

PS – we see what you did there. I’m going to be disappointed if 91 Grille doesn’t have prices ending in “91” and Table Six features meals ending in “6.” Just sayin.

After asking our server to read us the beer board, we thought it only fair to also quiz her on here favorite items on the menu. We’re funny like that. But she was prepared for our kind, and her immediate answer was the fish tacos. She followed that with the fish sandwich, the burgers, and the quesadilla … but the tacos stuck with Ted. Sold.

And at least there was nothing on the menu noting that “if they smell like fish, eat them” like a few weeks ago. A little safer venue for seafood, it seems.

So Ted got those, as well as hot garlic wings. And the fried pickles as an app. Because … oh, come on, I really shouldn’t have to justify this to you anymore, kids. We like food.

He also warned the server that he would want to order the Smores pie for dessert, at which time she let us know there was a new dessert not on the menu yet called “pumpkin love.” Um, what now? Please, tell us more. It seems it’s something with pumpkin pie filling, cinnamon, vanilla ice cream … and I stopped listening after that because I was already sold.

But we’ll get to that later.

Shane and I got the sausage dip as an app. I got the polar bear burger (which comes with fried peppers and pepper jack cheese on it) with tater tots, and Shane got the Elvis burger (with bacon and fried egg on it) plus fries. Not to be outdone by Ted, he also got six of the boneless dry cajun rub wings.

First one to say there are starving children in Africa gets smacked

Now seems like as good a time to remind you that we’re only a table of three people. Three. Who all like to play a little game of attempting to cheat death by clogged arteries and high blood pressure. Good times.

The pickle chips were the clear winner of the apps. The sausage dip was good – liked that it came with both pita and tortilla chips, and it was good and cheesy with lots of big chunks of sausage … although eat it when its warm because once it chillls the cheese makes it difficult to scoop out of the bowl. Learn from our mistakes.

You’ll notice Ted’s hands are nowhere near this one

But back to the pickle chips, the breading on them was so light and thin that you hardly noticed it. And the pickles weren’t overly salty, so they didn’t just take them from a jar and fry them. They seemed homemade, like someone is taking huge pickles from a jar in the back and slicing them up themselves. I can’t confirm that, but in our heads that’s what was happening.

Can you teach other restaurants the secret to making these? Pretty please?

My burger was excellent. I got medium and it was done just perfect. The bun was also really good, not a specialty bread but not dry like regular buns. The fried peppers weren’t too soggy, but not burnt either. Delicious.

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the tots. *gasp!* I mean, by now you all know I’m a bit of a tot connoisseur, and rarely ever do I leave one on my plate after a meal. But these just weren’t up to par. They weren’t crispy enough. It was like eating a half cooked hash brown. I left most of them on my plate.

Ted said his wings were really good, they were hot but not so much so that your mouth felt like you had 1000 habereno peppers chilling out in there.

I think we’re missing one there?

His taco was – in his words – “the best he’s ever had.” That’s high praise there, folks. He said the combination of the ginger rings and the jalepeno salsa that they had on the side was amazing.

Server’s suggestion for the win

He let us try that salsa and I would’ve eaten a full appetizer of that with chips, it was that damn good.

Following on the high praise train, Shane declared this one of his top three burger places. Wait, what? Those are big words, especially since 3 Brothers wasn’t a Shane pick. He ordered his burger rare and it was definitely pink on the inside, which he claims is exactly how he likes it.

It may not look like much but it made Shane’s list

I’m still not sure how he was OK with this one but yet the one from the Rail years ago was trying to kill him, but whatever.

Our service was excellent. At one point Ted set his empty plates on the corner of the table just to get them out of the way, and within about two seconds the server swooped in and grabbed them out of nowhere. Like, none of us even saw her nearby. Ted was like, was she just lurking there waiting? Shane put a few more plates in the same spot as an experiment, and lo and behold it was the same effect. It was like a giant hand from god swooped in and cleared them away, if we hadn’t been paying attention we never would’ve seen it.

We’re also suckers for a good sense of humor. I give you this exchange as an example:

Me, to a very full Shane: I’ll give you $5 if you eat this leftover packet of Hellman’s mayo
Shane: No way, I’m about to explode
Ted: I’ll throw in another $5
Shane: Seriously, I think I may vomit
Server, who approached as we were still taunting him: I’m in for another $5. You should totally take this one.

He didn’t, by the way. But it was nice that she was more concerned with jumping in on our bet than the potential vomit she may have to clean up if he had.

But I think the real reason we liked her so much was that she let us in on that little secret about that pumpkin dessert that wasn’t printed on the menu. I mean, as if we didn’t like this place enough already, but damn. We ended up getting two – one for Ted, and one for me and Shane to split (which – for those of you who know the usual rule that “Shane doesn’t share food”- he only agreed to this since he was already uncomfortably full and didn’t think he could eat the whole thing, although once he tasted it I think he wished he’d left more room to hoard one all to himself). Seriously, if you go in the fall and don’t see this on the menu, ask about it, and then order it. Ted had originally really wanted the smores, but once she talked about this one he knew he would regret not getting it. We rationalized it saying that the smores is always there, but this is special for now.

They don’t put the word “love” in the title for nothing, folks

We may be using that rationale a lot as we find reasons to go back pretty much every week throughout fall just to be able to order it continuously.

We were all super stuffed when we left, but it was so wroth it. Also, mine and Shane’s bill was only $55 – which for an app, two burgers, wings, three beers and an amazingly delicious dessert, isn’t too shabby.

And while we may still not exactly let you live down Gus’s, Ted … this could buy you at least a few weeks of us not teasing you mercilessly for it.

Shane (do you think he liked it?)

Ted

Steph

 

3 Brothers Corner Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 8/30/17: Dante’s County Line Saloon, Brecksville

Standard

I remember seeing this place years ago when Shane and I stopped in at the country western shop across the street (which, can we just talk for a moment about the randomness of a country western shop – we’re talking cowboy hats, boots, horse riding gear, all the bells and whistles – being across the street from a place with “saloon” in the title? In the middle of northeastern Ohio? It’s like this intersection stepped into 1950s Texas) Anyway, we weren’t sure back then if this place was actually open – and even after looking at reviews prior to tonight’s visit I have to admit I still wasn’t 100% sure. Because that speaks well for business, no?

Also, a sidenote on said reviews …. if you happen to look up Dante’s it seems that either they are talking about two very different places on the same review site, or this Dante’s has been redecorated fairly recently. And neither of those ideas really seem plausible, since the “new” decor doesn’t really look like a recent renovation (unless there’s a new decorating trend to make things look worse than before?) … and also the chances of two places being a name that uses the word “saloon” in the title are less than likely. But OK.

Shane was mad I picked this place, because as soon as we pulled up he knew it had “him” written all over it. I mean, “saloon.” Of course.

There were plenty of cars parked outside – leading us to  assume correctly that it actually was open – but then we walked inside and there’s this teeny tiny interior. Like so small we wondered where all the people driving those cars were hiding. Did we miss a secret entrance to a side room somewhere? Is everyone in the kitchen with the cook? Do half those cars not even run and are just parked there to help people like us believe it’s a real place? Interesting marketing strategy, if that’s the case.

In addition to the small bar and dining room area, there was a giant covered patio out back (which looked more like a park pavilion than a patio) but it also wasn’t too full there. Hmmm.

But back to the inside … there are 12 tables. I counted. And it’s definitely a regulars kind of place. The guys sitting at the table nearest the door weren’t officially bouncers, but they may as well been given the looks they shot us newcomers as we walked in.

There are no draft beers at Dantes, only bottles. That was a touch surprising. Add it to the list, I guess.

I had read that the burgers were good, so I went with the mushroom swiss. I found it odd that the menu gave a description of that particular burger, when it seems pretty obvious by the title. I mean, the saloon burger? Sure, that needs an explanation. The fiesta burger? Again, could use some help here. But the mushroom swiss burger? I think I got this one, thanks.

Ready for your close up there mushrooms?

Anyway, it comes with a side, so I got fries, and then also ordered a small side salad. Balance.

Don’t be fooled, this healthiness will change soon

Shane got the same burger, only he mistakenly got the fritters as a side because he thought the burger automatically came with fries and he was adding on the fritters.

OK, so maybe those explanations are helpful after all.

He also got a pound of the garlic parm wings. Because clearly our table was going to be bare.

When you can see the garlic that’s usually not a good sign for anyone else at the table

Ted got a pound of the Jamaican jerk wings, and also the “Maui steak.” Which spurred a debate later, as I thought that was under the salad portion of the menu, but ted thought it was just a steak prepared “Maui style.” Which he had never had before (quick poll: has anyone ever even heard of that as a way to prepare steak? No? Weird), but was excited to try.

Yeah, I was right, it was a salad. But the presentation was lovey, and he did say later that it was fine, because it turned out to be delicious. It actually earned the distinction as like one of three places he would admit to being happy about ordering a salad from, since it was that good. It should be noted that the other salads that he listed in his top favorites were horribly unhealthy and included toppings like fries and fatty dressings. So score for this place that a real, bona fide, healthy salad made the list.

This is not usually what we see in front of Ted

But going back to our usual array of unhealthy entrees … the wings were huge. And apparently baked on the surface of the sun, as Ted discovered the hard way. Both Ted and Shane agreed that the wings were too salty. The Jamaican jerk was OK as a seasoning, Ted said he wasn’t used to that being a dry rub but it was alright. Shane said his wings were definitely garlicky and he’d not be able to get that taste out of his mouth for some time.

My those at large wings you have there

As far as the burgers, Shane said his didn’t have much flavor and that it wasn’t as big as he was expecting it to be. But I thought it was OK. It was done as ordered, but it wasn’t overly flavorful. Maybe they should put that in the description? I mean, that seems to be the less obvious point about that particular burger anyway.

We did observe that, for tiny, hole-in-the-wall place, though, it looked like there was a real chef in the little kitchen in the back. Like the kind that wears the fancy jacket and all. And he seemed to take real pride in his work. There was no “I went to culinary school and now all I get to cook are obviously described burgers at a saloon” attitude about him. He actually came out once as he was leaving and asked a table how things were, and genuinely cared about the answer.

Dante’s is definitely a place of regulars, but not completely unwelcome. Well, once you get past that initial bouncer table anyway. Although we did notice a difference in the level of service for us versus the regulars. Like, for instance, the server  wouldn’t bring me a second drink until I finished my first. It was  like she didn’t trust me with the glassware. I mean, OK, if you open up our cupboard of glasses at home you would probably notice a few with special bar emblems or sports team schedules printed on them – so, yes, we’ve been known to sneak out a glass from time to time. But these were nothing special. So basically don’t flatter yourselves, Dantes. Please.

Overall I’d say I’m not sure it’s worth the trip back. I mean, if we were in the area and wanted to try out the pavilion area in the back, or if Ted’s in the mood for some healthy greens, then sure. But beyond that, let’s just say it seems we’re better off riding into the sunset toward greener pastures there partners. Yee haw.

Steph … and creepy Shane

Shane

Ted

WTGW 8/23/17: Theo’s Bar & Grill, Ellet

Standard

So as we pulled up to this week’s pick, I made a comment that I think it may well be the smallest building we’ve ever been to. It was like Red Riding Hood walking up to her Grandmother’s cabin in the woods.

It may also potentially be the only place we’ve visited for dinner that you can buy a bag of ice from one of those weird cooler machines located just outside the front door. You know, in case those leftovers need some refrigeration on the drive home, I guess.

Another great first impression:

Aunt Mildred? Are you home?

This was what greeted us as we walked through the front door. Which almost caused Shane to turn and run in the opposite direction, lest his pick be the dive bar version of our infamous Gus’s Chalet. And of course he can’t have that on his record.

Continuing the “we’re just trying to get inside the front door” obstacle course: an older man steering a very drunk, teetering on the edge of passing out older woman through the front door past us.

So far we’re painting a lovely picture, I know. But at least things got better.

The place is definitely tiny inside. But homey, as Shane called it. Maybe in part thanks to these lovely purple-ish table lamps on half of the tables in the place. Classy.

It’s like drinking at your Uncle Joe’s house

I mean, I’m sure they were like $5 each at Big Lots or something like that, but it’s the thought that counts?

Anyway.

We were greeted by quite possibly the softest spoken bartender we’ve ever encountered. It was like she was whispering most of the time. Or maybe we’re going deaf. Either of those are a good possibility. She was super nice, though, and always checked on us when our drinks were low throughout the course of the evening – but every time she left I think we felt like we were on the Seinfeld episode with the low talker.Ted asked about dark beer, and was told there was Shiner Bock, or Yingling, which is “kind of darker.” So, no then. He started with a Shiner and then switched to a jack and coke after the first round.

Shane got a Bud Light and I went with a tequila and soda. Two things to note: they have no draft beer, only botttles … and they pour heavy. I mean, we’re not talking Windsor Pub heavy, but still more than I was expecting.

The menu was bigger than the entire interior of the restaurant, I  think. Very unexpected for a little dive bar. Although when we saw the cook come out of the kitchen and retrieve items from a freezer strategically placed on the other side of the dining room it kind of put things back into perspective a bit.

We tried to order the breaded mushrooms as an app, but were told they were all out. Actually we knew they were all out prior to the low talking server coming to tell us, because we saw the cook consult the freezer, then call the server over to have a little chat. So at least we had time to prepare ourselves for the disappointing news and decide on an alternative. We chose the poppers instead. And calamari. Because, well, all the apps were like $4 each, and we clearly like food, so why not.

The calamari was OK. It was definitely straight from that freezer in the corner, as all the pieces looked like onion rings. And after eating a few of them I identified the breading as being the same as what they use on cheese sticks. So in a way they were really just some onion-ring-cheese-stick-with-no-onion-or-cheese hybrid. Interesting. Kudos to the server for asking us if we wanted some sauce to dip them in, as they usually don’t come with anything. She suggested marinara. I’m thinking after enough requests for that she must have this down pat.

Onion rings or calamari? Your guess.

We were hopeful that maybe the poppers might be homemade instead of frozen, since they arrived looking a bit ununiform – but alas we were wrong. They honestly didn’t have much flavor, which was disappointing. But at least the breading wasn’t the same as the calamari. So there’s that.

Another product of the dining room freezer of wonders

Ted was tempted to order the tilapia entree, since he thought something other than burgers sounded good. But then he noticed the line “if it smells like fish, eat it” on the menu above the seafood section, and that kind of changed his mind a bit. Interesting marketing. If our table was any indication, they may want to rework that.

He went with the Blazin Burger instead. Which the name apparantely doesn’t lie on. He said it was super spicy, that whatever the white sauce was on it (which I think we all thought originally would be some sort of cheese sauce) was really super hot. And that it may even make him sweat. That’s a tall order from someone who once ate a habereno pepper and tried to play it off like it was no big deal

Watch out for that white hot sauce from hell

We asked the server about two burgers on the menu – the Theo’s Best and the Bad Kitty – since both of the descriptions included “lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese and mushrooms.” Like, OK, what’s the difference? Other than a 75 cent price differential anyway. She said one is bigger. And that people always ask her about that. Well, of course, why change the menus, let’s just keep answering questions. Duh.

So I got one and Shane got the other. Mine (supposedly the smaller one) arrived on a regular bun, while Shane’s (supposedly the larger one) was on a hoagie. And when you looked at his from the side you could tell there was more meat in his … but not by much. Like maybe mine was 1/4 lb patty and his was 1/3 lb or something like that.

I mean, it’s 75 cents that separates one from the other, so we get that it wouldn’t be a whole other patty included … but still. It seemed like such a small difference to even warrant two separate line items on the menu. Not to mention stocking two separate sizes of buns. But OK.

That classy lamp messed with my photo skills

Same burger, super sized

We all pretty much agreed that overall the burgers weren’t big enough. I mean, they’re also like $5 each – so I guess we shouldn’t be too picky – but it seemed like they could up the size of the patties overall just a bit. As Ted said, the actual burger was almost secondary to all of the other stuff going on in there. Like you need more meat to compete with all of the toppings. (that’s what she said) He said that he would be willing to pay an extra $2.50 or so to get a whole other patty on the same sandwich, or at least have some sort of option like that for all of the different burgers on the menu. Because, you know, we’re kind of experts on this stuff by now and all.

We also all agreed that the crinkle cut fries (added on for another like $1.25 or $1.50 to each sandwich) were perfect, though. I’m partial to crinkle cuts to begin with, but these ones were done exactly right, crispy on the outside without being mushy on the inside. And they were hot. Perks of a small place, I guess – not much time from kitchen to table.

Theo’s is another of the many places that now has one of those Queen of Hearts drawings on Wednesdays nights (ah, the joys of marketing), so we each ponied up some cash to join in. None of us won, but a guy at the bar has his ticket pulled and the card he turned over earned him $100, so he did want any good alcoholic does … spent his winnings on more booze.

Who knew a little piece of plastic could make people so happy

That worked out well for us, as he announced he was buying the whole bar a round of drinks. Which sounds impressive, until you consider that there were eight people total he was buying for, including himself and his wife. Well, 10 if you count the cook and the server, who also helped themselves to a drink of choice. But hey, we weren’t complaining, and Ted turned around and bought a drink for the winner and his wife in return also to say thank you from our group.

Of course that extra drink left us all a little bit cheerier as we left Theo’s – and it was in some ways a cool little place, but again, as with so many places we visit, not sure if it’s worth the drive to return all that often. However, mine and Shane’s tab, for two mixed drinks, two bottles of beer, two apps and two burgers with fries: $38.75. This is why we love dive bars, folks. We’re cheap dates.

Shane

Ted

Steph

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph