WTGW 2/12/20: Butcher & Sprout, Cuyahoga Falls

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Welcome to another cold, snowy and wintery edition of WTGW. Clearly our feud with Mother Nature is still alive and well. 

Fortunately for us, this table fire is holding strong.

Anyone up for some patio seating? No? 

Butcher & Sprout is one of the newer offerings to Cuyahoga Falls’ restaurant scene, which means that someone has been listening to us when we asked for more restaurants to open up closer to our house. It’s housed in the lower Front St building that formerly was home to The Office. 

The interior still seems somewhat similar to The Office, albeit a little brighter on the inside. There’s still a deceptively small-looking front dining room when you walk in, and then a (presumably a bit larger?) back dining area with a bar that we all seemed to forget about until we noticed people being led back there.

We think it’s a back dining room and bar, anyway. I mean, those same people did eventually emerge from said area, so I’m sticking to that conclusion. 

The concept at Butcher & Sprout is all farm to table, locally sourced, fresh foods and meats. 

Translation: probably about as healthy as you can get for a group like ours that orders things fried and in large quantity. 

We also found this on their website after Ted gave us advance notice of tonight’s pick:

To which I teased him because picking a place that doesn’t take reservations is pretty off-brand for him. But, hey, I guess not every place can be as happening as the now-shuttered place-that-shall-not-be-named-but-rhymes-with-Russ’-Ballet

Friends never let friends forget bad picks. That’s pretty much the motto of this group. 

WHAT WE ORDERED

Our meals tonight were a little bit like an episode of Oprah’s talk show:

AND YOU GET A BURGER,
AND YOU GET A BURGER,
AND YOU GET A BURGER.

You see where I’m going here. 

But, I mean, when you tout all farm raised beef, how can you not try it?

Well, I mean, I didn’t – because I was actually debating a BLT, but then opted for the turkey burger, so I guess I kind of missed that train. And the guys thought for a hot minute about ordering the plant based burgers, but then apparently remembered that’s not even something that Healthy Shane wants to spend time with on a WTGW. 

But the point is, it was burgers of some variety all around at the table this evening. 

Which, I mean, is so unlike us any other time, right? I KNOW.  

As mentioned, I had the turkey burger, but added bacon to it because that was the part of the BLT that was really stuck inside my head. 

I tried to order the seasonal veggies as my side, but was told they were out of them. Much like the black cherry White Claw that I tried to order at the top of the meal but was also told they were out of. I mean, bonus points for knowing this before the sixth or seventh trip back to the cooler (Yes, I’m looking at you, Jojo’s Sports Grille) and also they had the Truly black cherry which is honestly really just the same thing in a different can, so all good.

But the point is I was apparently not meant to be purchasing any lottery tickets anytime this evening. 

However, it was explained – for the veggies anyway – that since they buy everything fresh daily, they only have limited quantities of certain things on the menu. And apparently there was a big party in the private room that night … and of all things to run the restaurant out of, they picked the seasonal veggies. 

OK then. Thanks, healthy people. Side salad for me, I guess. 

Shane got the ‘Shroomin Burger. He tried to order it rare, but when the server kindly told him that it would be very pink and cool in the middle he thought twice of that decision and went the next level up. 

See also: the reason we still have not returned to The Rail, despite the fact that Shane is clearly still alive.

He also got truffle fries. Which may need to duel with Ted’s fries from last week, they were that amazing. 

Ted got the Breakfast Burger, and I bet you can’t guess why it has that name. 

Cassi got the burger called “You’re My Boy, Bleu,” but then subbed out the bleu cheese for cheddar. Because “You’re My Boy, Cheddar” has an even more exceptional ring to it, we know.

She got the Brussels Sprouts as a side (which clearly were NOT the seasonal vegetable, as they still had plenty of those available), and then – because apparently someone had to show Healthy Shane how it’s really done when you want to eat right – also added a side salad.

Jason got the Butcher burger, which is similar to the Breakfast burger in that it comes with bacon and cheese, but sub out the egg for BBQ sauce and pancetta.  

And lest you think we forgot appetizers, Shane and I got the pickle fries.

And Ted got the shishito peppers in ginger sauce. Fancy. 

THE VERDICT

So, yeah, pickle fries should really be a thing at more places. They were very tasty. It was like what if fried green beans and pickle spears had a child and only the best qualities were represented from each party. 

The sauce on them was a bit on the spicy side, but in a good way. Like your mouth is on fire, but you’re happy about it. 

Ted bit into the peppers and at first said they were just OK … then a few minutes later there was a quick “oh, there it is.” So unlike the quick fire from our app sauce, the peppers were more of a slow burn build up. 

They also ended up being a great condiment for his burger once that arrived. 

Speaking of burgers, they were definitely a hit. Jason commented on the flavor of the patty itself, and he and Cassi both said that you could tell the beef was fresh. Cassi was also a fan of the balsamic sauce on hers. Cassi said she would definitely put it in her Top 5, if she was one to keep one of those lists. 

While Shane didn’t exactly give it Top 5 honors, he did say it was in the Top 10.

So. Close. 

He said he would like to try the Breakfast Burger (the one Ted ordered) the next time around. And he would probably order it even further up on the “doneness scale” the next time around, which is really saying something considering he’s not at all a fan of well done meats.

So if medium rare was too undone, I can only imagine we’d be putting this place on the “we can’t ever go back there because it tried to kill me” list if he had gone ahead with that original rare order. 

Fortunately for us, though, I have a feeling a return visit will be in the cards. Perhaps when we can actually enjoy a the patio seating without fear of frostbite. 

Although judging from the photo below of Cassi, it seems maybe my fingers had already stopped functioning properly anyway well before we left the restaurant, so maybe I probably could’ve gone ahead with that challenge regardless. Hmm.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

WTGW 1/29/20: Barrel Lodge Bar & Grille, Streetsboro

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Hey, it’s January in Ohio, let’s go to … the golf course?

Well, I mean, it’s pretty much guaranteed to not be busy, right?

Also can you tell we’re a little sick of your crap, Mother Nature? One week we’re at a tiki bar, and another we’re at a golf course. If you listen carefully, you might hear us trying to tell you something.

Just a thought.

But seriously, how can you not go to Barrel Lodge Bar & Grille no matter what time of year it is, when they post amazing photos like this on their Facebook page?

Patio picture included for wishful thinking, since obviously we didn’t dine there this evening. Or even glimpse it, seeing as it gets dark at like 5:30PM these days.

Still looking at you, Mother Nature. Yes, we’re bitter. And cold.

The one décor item that we would suggest Barrel Room may want to step up, though, is their outdoor lighting game. I mean, while I get drawing attention to yourselves to stand out on the obsessively dark road this place is located on, the neon white lights they chose to frame the front windows screamed more pay-as-you-go cellular in the bad part of town than classy golf course dining establishment with a log cabin décor and this impressive chandelier and fireplace.

WHAT WE ORDERED

How did we miss the memo that Truly was coming out with new flavors? Like, seriously, I don’t know how we haven’t reached influencer status with the hard seltzer water companies by this point, but someone needs to add us to the top of that email chain regarding new product launches. We love you. Please help us help you.

And to prove that point, our first review of the Mango Lemonade flavor is a thumbs up. There.

Meanwhile, the guys opted for the new PBR Hard Coffee. Which, yes, is apparently a thing. Maybe not a thing that the world truly needed or that we care to research any further after this juncture, but, sure, it’s a thing nonetheless.

Jason was clearly not a fan, although he gave it a valiant effort. Ted remarked that he wasn’t sure if the Peanut Butter Porter he ordered afterwards was somewhere on the “beer has gone bad” scale or just tasted odd because he sipped that PBR first.

So there you go.

Cassi and Jason got the loaded tots as an app.

They were really good, due primarily to the use of real cheese and not just that goopy bright yellow fake cheese sauce you usually find on fried apps. They were also crispy, which means that real cheese makes things less soggy. Score.

Shane and I got the fried mushrooms. They were giant, and also beer battered like our perpetual favorite, that giant basket of fried veggies you get at a county fair. You know, the thing that sounds like it has the potential to be healthy until it gets dipped in batter and hits the vat of boiling oil.

Ted abstained from apps since he had already decided he would be ordering a full meal … to which we asked when that has ever stopped him in the past?

Regardless, he got the perch dinner.

So, I’m not really sure how Ted felt about the perch part of that dinner, but I can say with certainty that the French fries were the clear highlight of his meal. He was in love with them.

Like, couldn’t stop raving about them. Like, the beginning of a new relationship where every minute thing the other person does is the best thing in the universe – i.e. “you should see how well she butters a slice of bread!” or “he is the best at remembering to use a turn signal, I just love him.”

I mean, during the course of our meal the group would collectively talk around the table about three or four other topics, only to then hear Ted chime in with a sentence that had nothing to do with those topics and everything to do with his fries – like “but I think they’re, like, rosemary flavored.”

We’ll just leave him in his own little world over there and come back to him at the end of the night.

Cassi got the buffalo chicken salad. She was a fan, said it was really good. And it didn’t come with 4000 olives, like last week’s unfortunate adventure. 

I mean, clearly not “Ted’s fries” level of good, but there seem to be few things in this world that can be.

Meanwhile, lest you think we forgot to have any chicken wings on our table, this week’s appearance of Healthy Shane meant ordering only 20 wings – 10 Garlic Romano and 10 Cajun. I say “only,” because normally that would be the side to his burger, pizza, or other actual meal of some kind. I think after he placed the order we all stopped and just stared at him, waiting for there to me more words to the sentence.

And of course no Wednesday is complete without an appearance by the other WTGW staple: burgers.

Jason got the Barrel Burger, which is essentially a fancy way of saying a cheeseburger with a few different types of cheese and something called “barrel sauce.” Before you ask, no, I have no idea what that is.

My mushroom onion burger didn’t have a fancy name, but I did add bacon to it and I feel like that made it fancy regardless.

I also got a side salad, because who can let Healthy Shane have all the low calorie fun in this family? Exactly.

THE VERDICT

While I’m sure this place gets busy in the summer, what with the golfing aspect and great patio that we’ve only seen photos of on the website and all, we would totally advocate going in the winter just as well. It wasn’t busy in the least on the night we were there, the service was great, and the food was very tasty.

Particularly if you love French fries – although you may want to wait for a night when Ted isn’t there, because I think, should we return, that may be all he orders. He said that he may be one of the few in the group that doesn’t do Top Five lists … but if he did, this place would be at the top for the fries alone.

That’s high praise.

While they may not have been making any Top Five lists, the burgers did rate high with the group – and succeeded in making Shane jealous when they arrived at the table and he pronounced them more appetizing than his wings, just on sight alone. He probably would’ve given the place a full thumbs up overall had he not gotten .. well, his entire order, I guess.

We also ended up visiting during Streetsboro’s Restaurant Week – which I guess is a thing, who knew? The table tent said to mention it when we ordered to get a percentage off of our bill, although when we tried the server waved us off and said that she was already planning to give us the discount. So it sounds like those printing charges on the marketing budget were well spent.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 1/22/20: Puckers, Canton

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If we’ve been to a place before but can’t locate the review before we decide to go back, is it really a revisit?

This would be the WTGW version of the philosophical question “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Cassi said that she had tried looking up Pucker’s on this blog before she picked it for this visit, because she didn’t believe we couldn’t have missed it on all of our years of doing this. But while most places come up in a Google search with a link to our site, this one for whatever reason did not.

Guess that’s my cue to up our SEM game.

I’m not gonna lie, the name did sound familiar. The parking lot also make us stop and think that perhaps this was someplace we might’ve been before. But honestly, we’ve said that to ourselves when faced with pretty much any bar at the end of a non-descript strip plaza with other less-than-interesting tenants like a BMV, a take out pizza place, and something called “Ladies Super Fitness.”

I’m not sure what that says about us exactly, but I’m sure it’s not something we want to mention in certain crowds of people.

But it wasn’t until we got inside the front door that it all came back to me, and suddenly I could remember the exact booth we sat in and what we ordered.

Shane still wasn’t convinced, though, until we sat down (not in the same booth, but on the opposite side of the restaurant) and opened the menus, and he immediately zoned in on something called “bottle caps.” Which happen to be deep fried jalapeños.

And then it all apparently came rushing back.

Nothing like a little bit of fried pepper appetizers to jog your memory. Again, probably not something we want to mention in select company.

Once it was clear that we had actually set foot in this place previously, Shane became convinced that he must’ve been the one to discover this magical world of fried apps and burgers … to which I countered those were strong words for someone who 10 minutes prior didn’t even remember he’d even been there before in the first place.

WHAT WE ORDERED

And after all that, surprisingly no one ordered the bottle caps this time around. What?!?!?

But when asked Ted claimed it was because he didn’t see them on the menu this time around. Huh. So general blindness is the defense he’s going with, I guess.

Instead he ordered fried banana peppers. So, similar.

Shane and I started with soft pretzels.

Cassi and Jason opted for something called the Hushpuckers. Which in case you don’t speak “pucker,” are shredded potato bites covered with bacon ranch dressing.

I got the fried pickle burger – which is exactly what it sounds like, a burger with fried pickles on it – and a side salad.

Shane got the Viking burger – a patty adorned with bacon, cheddar cheese and french fries – and a side of onion rings. Because, you know, the fries are already on the sandwich, no use getting more of those.

Jason said to hell with that logic, also getting the Viking burger, but keeping the fries as a side.

Also, if you’ve noticed, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that at least moderately healthy Shane has learned to take a back seat on Wednesdays. Although he was still struggling through sipping tequila and sodas without making a bitter beer face.

Because he was “just in the mood for a chicken sandwich,” Ted got the $5.00 chicken sandwich special with the spicy garlic wing sauce.

Cassi got the spicy teriyaki boneless wings and a house salad.

THE VERDICT

My burger was good. It was done the way I asked and the fried pickles on it were really tasty. It was like getting just a taste of the app, without having to order the full thing. And since I liked the fried pickles the last time around I’m glad they haven’t changed.

The only thing I wasn’t really a fan of, though, was the bun. As someone who prides herself in using her carb calories wisely, I would’ve preferred something with more flavor.

I mean, can’t we all just agree to use ciabatta bread for all sandwiches? That would make life so much easier.

Cassi said the wings were pretty spicy, but also very good. She also got a little extra mental energy burn as she spent about five minutes extracting all of the olives that she didn’t know would be on her salad. Fun times.

In a strange twist, Ted didn’t eat all of his fried banana peppers. It was somewhat awkward when the server had to ask him if he wanted a box.

He said the chicken sandwich was OK, nothing great but nothing awful either.

After all the fuss of getting onion rings as a side, Shane found then to be the least impressive part of his meal. So he probably should’ve just stuck with the fries after all. Or maybe gone with an entirely different order all together, because the burger was “just OK.” It definitely wasn’t gaining entry onto any top 5 lists. And we all know the high honor that is Shane’s constantly evolving Top 5 list, so if you can’t make it there then you probably don’t even deserve to be called a burger.

Jason agreed.

The kicker of the evening came when our server committed the mortal error of all restaurant visits: bringing us the checks before we indicated that we were remotely ready to leave. Because nothing says “we’d love to have you stay and continue spending money on more alcohol” like dropping off the check without checking to see if we were actually finished with our evening.

Maybe in another five years we’ll once again debate how memorable our last visit was to Pucker’s as we stand in the parking lot staring at the Ladies Super Fitness. Anyone up for a takeout pizza instead?

This pick by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph
Original pick by Shane, which he was very concerned about making known

WTGW 1/8/20: Tiki Underground, Boston Heights

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Happy New Year, WTGW-ers!

Sorry for the absence, but with major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Wednesdays this year, we had to sit a few weeks out. I mean, as much as we love showcasing our functioning alcoholism and ability to continuously outsmart the odds of a heart attack with cholesterol-laded foods … OK, so really the holidays aren’t much different than any normal Wednesday for us, other than they provide an opportunity to share those qualities with our families, in the comfort of our own homes.

So there’s that.

But here we are in 2020, and nothing says crisp January evening like a tiki bar, am I right?

Tiki Underground has actually been a kind of “edge of the list” pick for the group for a bit now, ever since it opened in 2017(ish?).  I think part of the reason we were waiting to pick it was because this ill-fated location never seemed to house any sort of restaurant for too long of a time period, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up that it might be something we liked that would also stick around.

Case in point, we’ve been to this building when it was a Mexican restaurant (pre-blog) … and then when it was a sports bar called Sidelines … not on a Wednesday, but instead for an Ohio State/Michigan football Saturday after we got kicked out of another place for showing up and walking in the unlocked door 10 minutes before opening time. Seems those owners might be related to the folks who own Harmon’s Pub down in Canton?

But those places closed in a relatively short span – we’ve only been doing this since 2013, kids – and so it’s not a stretch to say that we didn’t really have high hopes for this new place, especially with a theme this specific. If a sports bar can’t make it, can we seriously hedge our bets on Hawaiian drinks and Polynesian cooking?

Apparently, we can, since it’s still open three years later. Or, someone can, anyway. It just may not be us.

Did I spoil the suspense there?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So let’s talk about the drinks first, because there’s clearly a lot going on here in that department.

That’s a lot of words that all mean “alcohol” in some way.

I mean, it is a tiki bar, after all, and drinks are kind of the main point. So I guess they’re kind of winning in that respect?

Although they may want to turn up the lighting in the place a smidge so that we can read what is in said drinks. And before you joke about calling us old – which, full disclosure, we did to Ted when he pulled his phone out to use the flashlight feature just to read the menu – we weren’t the only ones who went down that road. I mean, if you can’t tell from the photos, it was pretty unlit in this place. There were lights behind the bar, but everywhere else they were certainly more decorative than functional.

Also, who doesn’t want to see … whatever this is … more clearly? Because we all love having nightmares.

So once we could finally read the menu, we discovered lots of rum drinks – which is on brand for this whole island theme. But for those of you who prefer to avoid the hard alcohol, they do also have regular beer. In fact a whole section of “old man beers” like PBR ($2 on Wednesdays!) and Bud Lite. And White Claw and wines.

I was the only one to order something fun.

The food special for Wednesday’s is an “adult happy meal.” Which is exactly what it sounds like it should be – a burger and fries, with a beer. At $10 it’s a little more pricey than McDonald’s … but, well … beer.

Jason got that.

Ted started out with edamame as his appetizer.

If you’re thinking that looks a little odd … well, so were we. It arrived already shelled, which is not how we’re used to seeing that particular dish served. Ted said he would offer to share it with us, but it would’ve been a little strange since we would all need forks.

He also got 12 of the Thai chili wings – which I don’t have a photo of because when I looked back a them later the darkness made them just look like giant lumps – and the garlic fries

Cassi and Jason ordered the Crab Rangoon for their app. See above note as to why there is no photo of this dish.

Have we mentioned it was dark in this place?

And then Cassi got six of the boneless garlic parm buffalo wings.

If you think that photo is bad, just imagine what the one of Ted’s wings and of the crab Rangoon looked like. This is clearly not the place to be taking any magazine quality food photos.

I got the chicken soft tacos and a side salad.

Shane ordered the same thing. Yep, the exact same thing. If you’re thinking that sounds strange, and that I also didn’t mention an appetizer for us … well, now might be a good time to mention that Healthy Shane has rejoined the group, as he seems to pretty much every January. Because we all love the fun of watching him watch all of us eat completely unhealthy meals – or in this case, drool over just the smell of the crab rangoon when it arrived at the table – and drinks we actually want to taste while he complains about still being hungry and makes a bitter beer face every time he sips his tequila and soda.

THE VERDICT

Unfortunately for Shane, Cassi confirmed that the crab rangoon tasted as good as it smelled.

However, she was less impressed with the sauce that was on her wings. It was also the same sauce that was on Ted’s fries, and he wasn’t crazy about it either.

So the moral is, avoid the garlic sauce.

Although if you ask Ted, he might tell you to just avoid the whole place altogether. Between the weird edamame, wings that were breaded more than he likes and a not-so-delicious sauce on the fries, it was pretty much a strike out for him. Add to that all of the mixed drinks being laden with rum and other random mixers Ted isn’t a fan of. And most of the beers were also not-Ted-friendly, which meant the only thing he could drink was a Guinness.

So yeah, it definitely earned less than a thumbs up in his book. He said the only redeeming factor for him was the service, which was decent. Sort of.

Shane and I thought the tacos were good. They kind of had a sweet taste to them, but they were pretty tasty. But I would much rather come back on Thursdays, though, when they’re only $5 for three tacos.

The place does have some decent specials, and some of the food is better than expected. But I’m not sure the “some” here was enough to warrant us a return visit. For certain we know we don’t want to return when the band from this particular night was back on stage. And I use the term “band” lightly, as it was really just a guy with a microphone and guitar, and a really, really loud speaker system. To say it was a little bit intense for the crowd of less than 10 that was in place on this particular evening would be an understatement. We probably could’ve reversed the lighting and sound levels in the place and made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 12/21/19: Harmon’s Pub / That Christmas Bar, Canton

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Welcome to Harmon’s Pub: where the sign at the entrance says “seat yourself” but more than half of the open tables have “reserved” signs on them. How does that work, exactly? Do you have to time travel yourself into the future to get yourself a table so that you can place the sign before you actually arrive?

Hmmm.

And then when you finally do find an open table that hasn’t been previously reserved … you get legit yelled at by staff because putting a fifth person at the end of the booth would apparently be a fire hazard. Like, not a friendly “hey, I know it’s busy and you just want to grab a table but unfortunately we can’t have you sit like that.” Or a “you know what, that won’t work, but let me help you find another spot.” Nope, like screamed at because apparently our sitting in that location would cause a literal logjam to the stampede that would surely occur should someone decide to strike a match anywhere in the close vicinity.

And who says Canton isn’t hospitable? We should totally alert the CVB of a new campaign idea.

Luckily a different server saw us looking like we might just head for the hills and perhaps say something unfavorable about our experience (who, us??) and decided to step in. She found another booth on the opposite side of the restaurant in an area that seemingly supported end-of-the-table dining and asked the party of two occupying it if they would kindly switch with us.

And they did.

And we then sent them a drink.

See what being nice gets you, kids? Alcoholism. Let that be a life lesson for you.

Another good life lesson: don’t be an asshat when someone asks you is they can use one of the five unoccupied chairs from your table. Like I get that maybe other people are going to come sit with you eventually, or maybe your group of imaginary friends you’ve invited out for the evening don’t like to be crowded … but, like, our REAL LIVE friend is standing right here and kind of wanting to take a load off to enjoy the meal he’s anxiously waiting to order, so perhaps you can just calm the eff down there, Susan?

This is also how NOT to have us send you a drink as a thank you, even though you seem like you could use about 27 just to put you in any sort of enjoyable mood this evening.

It’s four days before Christmas, folks. Are you feeling festive yet? I mean, the beginning of our trip this week is kind of like the restaurant equivalent of heading to the mall during the holiday season.

WHAT WE ORDERED

But for all our troubles, at least they have White Claw! Yay!

And trivia, but that’s like a more muted yay.

Speaking of trivia, what’s one thing Ted will always order if it’s on any menu, anywhere?

If you answered meat on a stick, you’ve obviously been reading along with us for a hot minute. But yes, that’s one thing that Ted seemingly cannot resist in any restaurant setting. In this case, it was steak – but he has been known to order a lamb lollipop from time to time as well. So for future reference, pretty much meat of any kind is acceptable, as long as its on a stick.

So. Many. Jokes.

He also got the spicy garlic wings.

Fewer jokes, unless we want to go down the path of the fated burger and wing night at the Springfield Tavern.

Shane and I got the sausage dip as an app, as did Cassi and Jason.

Because you can never have enough sausage …. ok, never mind, between that and the meat on a stick story it seems we’re traveling down a dangerous road.

Anyway.

I got the bacon pretzel burger with a side salad.

Shane got the Reuben, after asking the server the age-old question of preference between that and a burger of any kind.

The server recommended the Reuben … and then in what I can only assume was an attempt to be helpful, but since she doesn’t know us at all she has no idea the implications of what she’s about to suggest … she points to me and says “well since she ordered a burger, you can always just split your orders so you each can try the other’s.”

As if. Clearly she doesn’t read this blog, or she would know that SHANE DOESN’T SHARE FOOD.

I mean, how many times do we need to share this GIF on this blog? I mean, before I revert to photoshop magic and change Joey’s face to Shane’s anyway.

I clearly need more free time in my life for these important projects.

Cassi got the wings dinner.

So it’s like wings, but with sides. Interesting concept. It seems like we’ve been ordering this in other forms for quite some time now, right? How nice of them to just make it a compact little ordering process for us.

Jason got the Western burger with fries, along with an order of BBQ wings.

Clearly we don’t have enough food here.

THE VERDICT

Remember that time just a few minutes ago when Shane almost ordered a burger? Well it’s a good thing he didn’t, because having just TWO arrive at the table – mine and Jason’s – was clearly more than our server could handle. She literally couldn’t tell them apart, and had to request assistance to do so.

I mean, I hate to state the obvious and all … but one of them is literally named a “pretzel burger,” which – in my mind anyway – would point a pretty direct finger at the burger that was positioned on a pretzel bun, and not a regular bun. Call me logical and all. But, like, you don’t even have to see the condiments or toppings to figure this part out.

Well since we’re talking about that part already, I should point out that was my favorite part of the sandwich. The actual burger was just OK. So, I guess Jason could’ve taken that part, but just saved me the bun?

Although the burger was actually was the same size as the bun, and we all know that’s a rarity.

Ted’s steak on a stick didn’t exactly rate in his Top 3, but it was still good.

The fact that he can even have a Top 3 in this category is something that should be noted here. I’m not sure what that note is, exactly, but it’s been taken.

He also said that the wings could’ve been spicier.

The jury was out on the sausage dip, with Cassi and Jason liking it, but Shane and I thinking it was a little … strange. Maybe it’s harkening back to our tailgating days where we just heated up some sausage crumbles and Velveeta in a crock pot and called it a hearty dip, but we weren’t crazy about all of the peppers and other things hanging out in this dip. We would’ve preferred just the basics.

Shane liked the Reuben a lot. So the server gets the points for that assist on that one.

Cassi liked her wing dinner, she said that the breading on the boneless wings was really good. But said that the service really soured the visit in general.

Which we would all agree was truthful. Aside from the whole “let’s yell at the new people for trying to seat themselves in an area they aren’t supposed to even though we didn’t tell them it was off limits” debacle that started the night … and the whole “let’s get the chef to come out and inspect the burger situation because I can’t tell a pretzel bun for a regular one” … our  server at our “approved” table was a bit touch and go.

For instance, when a server asks you, after you’ve placed your order for a sandwich, “fries with that?” … well, you kind of think that they’re included, right, and the server is just asking you if that’s an OK option or if you’d like to substitute out, no?

Um, no. Each of those side orders was $2-$3, which we didn’t know until we got the bill. I mean, kudos to her for upselling us, but that sales tactic is a little risky in my opinion.

On top of that, Cassi got charged for a side salad when her meal was a dinner – we’ve been over this already – and should’ve had a salad and tater tots included. So much for revolutionizing the way we order. I take it all back. We’re clearly doing just fine on our own, thank you very much.

Probably the saddest part about our disappointment at Harmon’s Pub is that we had hoped we might have made this a more frequent location, thanks to it’s proximity to That Pop-Up Bar, located across the street.

If you haven’t heard of this place yet, it’s a bar that continuously changes themes, based on the time of year. Being that we’re four days out from Christmas, we of course wanted to make a stop here while it’s themed as “That Christmas Bar.”

I mean, we had to wash the taste of Blitzen’s out of our mouth, right?

And that we did, only in Shane’s case it was replaced with the taste of … well … bourbon. And lots of it.

Let’s just say that this warning on the menu is legit,folks. 

But overall this place was worth the price of the inhospitable nature of our dinner choice across the street and the bourbon hangover that Shane will likely be facing tomorrow. From the décor to the music to the drink specials to the crowd of people under the age of 90 … this is what pop up Christmas bars should be like.

We can’t wait to see what the next theme is. This may become a game to see who can pick the best place nearby each time it changes?

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Shane

WTGW 11/26/19: Kepner’s / Blitzen’s, Hudson

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Happy Night Before Thanksgiving!

Or, depending on your preference …

Happy Biggest Going Out Night of the Year!

So, you know, no pressure on this pick to be – wait for it – legendary or anything.

I think we’ve all had our rounds at having to choose on this night, seeing as it’s the one “holiday” that always falls on our favorite night of the week. We’ve seen the night Shane got food poisoning and left me to cook my first ever 22lb turkey for his entire family the next day, the night we all got into a heated discussion about the type of breading used on a fish dinner and then made Ted sit in a stack of booster seats (yes, at a bar), the night of many shots, and of course last year’s epic choice of the strangest cabana we’ve ever sat in.

Which brings us to 2019, and our visit to Kepner’s. We had a lengthy conversation about whether this should actually be classified as a revisit, since honestly we’ve been to this place about 4 billion times over the years. Most notably, we celebrated Ted’s birthday here one year (not on a Wednesday), and it’s the place where previous WTGW team members Amanda and Jerrid actually met for the first time (on a Wednesday but when I was out of town so it wasn’t an “official” outing).

But somehow, despite all these visits and feeling like this is one of our go-to divey bars on this side of town – and honestly probably the only one allowed within Hudson city limits –  we just never managed to officially review it.

So here we are.

I specifically chose Kepner’s not only to finally make them WTGW official, but also because we’d heard that there was a new Christmas-themed popup bar called Blitzen’s that was celebrating their opening night this same night. And what says Happy Night Before Thanksgiving like an entire bar dedicated to holiday decorations, music and themed drinks?

We’ll come back to that later. First, let’s eat.

WHAT WE ORDERED

One of the things we love most about Kepner’s is that despite being small and having a divey, neighborhoody feel, they actually have a decent list of craft beers and ciders in bottles/cans, and things other than Bud Light on draft.

In fact, when Shane literally tried to get a Bud Light on draft, he was told that they only have it in bottles, and that Miller Lite was the domestic draft of choice.

So there’s that.

Cassi and I both settled on bottles of a mango habenero cider that according to the description was also aged in a tequila barrel. Well now that just seems like a lot of things all thrown together in one big pot to stew, now doesn’t it?  But, because we all love starting the night with complicated alcohols, we took a chance.

I’m happy to say it was worth it.

Ted, Cassi and I all went through the same progression of thought on what to order for our meals:
Choice #1, the turkey club. Which sounded good under normal circumstances, but then again maybe starting on the turkey consumption 24 hours before Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t the best choice. I mean, given that we also would also be staring at leftovers for much of the forseeable future.
OK, so Choice #2, wings. But again with the poultry.
So then we’re at Choice #3, burgers. But that came with a sidebar a) which burger, since each specialty option had at least one condiment included on the list that we weren’t crazy about.

Yep, this is us, folks. Making dinner as complicated as possible since 2013.

And yet also so simple at the same time … anyone shocked that two of those items on the list were burgers and wings? Anyone? Bueller?

Didn’t think so.

Shane and Ted remembered a burger being on the menu during one of our previous visits that they really loved (called the Clocktower, maybe?), but it seemed to have gone MIA this time around. Because you know how much we love when that happens.

Almost as much as we love when there are things available in the kitchen that aren’t on any of the menus, so we have to rely on the server to maybe – or not – tell us about them. And then maybe – or not – change our minds about what to order after we’ve already scoured the menu for 10 minutes trying to decide what to order. That’s a fun game.

Which we played on this evening, as Jason was all set to order the Ohio State burger, until the server mentioned to us that there was this special “non-menu” burger, which I can’t remember the name of but the description of had something to do with two burger patties being dusted with brown sugar and grilled, then topped with bacon and cheese.

Jason caved and ordered that.

I was surprised Shane didn’t follow suit. He claimed it was because of Thanksgiving being tomorrow, and that he didn’t want to eat that much tonight. Um, who is this person and what have you done with my husband? Anyone remember the full sheet pizza incident?

Instead he got the Unreserved burger, along with, well everyone else at the table except for Jason.

Side note, in case you’re wondering, the house sauce is actually Worcestershire. That will save you the question that we asked the server. Because calling it a “house sauce” when it’s really a simple and already known condiment is always way less complicated than just putting said condiment in the menu description, no?

Ted also got six of the dry rub Cajun wings.

Cassi and Jason got the chorizo stuffed mushrooms as an app, which arrived looking like mini sausage patties. I think “stuffed” should be replaced with “overflowing.”

Cassi joked that they came served on her Grandma’s china. So Thanksgiving came a little early here at Kepner’s.

THE VERDICT

Cassi thought the texture of the stuffed mushrooms was a little strange, but luckily Jason liked them a lot and was willing to clean up what she didn’t want.

Ted said the wings didn’t have a lot of flavor. And his sweet potato fries were salty, which was a new thing that he didn’t remember from our past visits. Or, really, any visit anywhere. Who puts salt on sweet potato fries?

Well other than Cassi, but that’s a whole other thing.

In any case, Ted felt bad giving Kepner’s a bad review, since this is probably the first time it’s ever fallen under that category for us. Our notariety must have come off the radar this time and they caved under the pressure of our first “real” visit.

I almost wrote that without laughing.

But don’t worry, it wasn’t all off-kilter this time around, as the burgers were truly the usual deliciousness we’ve come to expect from this place. I mean, Jason even threw out the words “Top Three” when referencing that special burger. And we all know that’s high praise.

I mean, it almost doesn’t seem fair to other burgers, am I right?

Although because it also wasn’t technically on the menu, we all know that also means we should be get too attached to it, lest it be gone forever after tonight. But here’s hoping.

And here’s also hoping that the service we got tonight was more like Ted’s wings – an abnormality from what we’re used to – than the new norm. Because it was … well … let’s just say it wasn’t good. It was very inconsistent, and while I get that the upstairs area was busy, it’s also only like 10 tables worth of customers so it’s not like even if every table is full we’re talking about a giant crowd or anything.

We also need to talk about the pricing for a minute. Remember that draft Miller Lite that Shane begrudgingly ordered? Yeah, it was $5.50. For a draft domestic, and not in a giant glass like we’ve happily encountered at other locales. And those interesting sounding ciders that Cassi and I ordered? $7 each. For bottled ciders. So, yeah. I switched to a different one after the first round, but that only saved me $1 a bottle. Guess apples really are going out of season?

Ted and Jason were the smartest ones at the table, getting something called the “House IPA” for $3 each. Which if we’re taking a cue from the “house sauce” revelation, was probably just a Lagunitas served with a fancy name.

So speaking of things in disguise … let’s move in to the visit to that holiday themed pop up bar, Blitzen’s, next door.

Yeah, I’m not even sure what to say about this place, other than that our group was horribly out of place there. Like, imagine a bar that’s trying to be cool and trendy with the whole popup holiday thing that seems to be the rage right now … but like 95% of the people in the place were probably approaching their teenage years when the original It’s a Wonderful Life first came out.

Because nothing says trendy like sharing a space at the bar next to your Grandma.

And the drinks – while very tasty – just honestly didn’t seem worth the $8 – $10 each that they were charging. I’m pretty positive had we stayed there for more than one round we probably could’ve easily spent more on just drinks than we did collectively on both meals and drinks next door.

But we did get these cool holiday headbands, though

Shane apparently took the holiday camoflauge option, as he looks like he’s blending into the background. But only facing that direction. Had the other direction been the backdrop what you would’ve seen was pretty much just the restaurant Hudson’s – who holds the liquor license for Blitzen’s – with some sparse holiday decorations thrown up. And more folks seemingly out way too late for the dinner service for their age group. Is the group tour bus late in picking everyone up?

And so we left, and ended the annual “night of more than one stop since we’re apparently pretending we don’t have family get togethers tomorrow” at Bailey Rd Tavern. Where all great nights end up, am I right?

I mean, how much more proof do you need?

And next year, this post will likely be classified as the night we hit two dive bars, with a stop for some expensive cocktails with our grandparents in between. Good times.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 11/13/19: Two Bucks Food & Spirits, Parma

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This week’s pick brought to you by a distant relative of the genius behind the naming of retail chains like Five Below and Dollar General.

Well not really. But I think you see where I’m going here.

So Two Bucks takes it’s name, presumably, because several of the items on the menu are only $2. Like sliders, fries, domestic beers and more shots than you would think it’s advisable to offer for only a few dollars each. On top of that, several liquors, like Tito’s, are only $3, including mixers.

Alternate name: Let’s Get Sloppy Drunk for $20. But I suppose that doesn’t fit well on a storefront sign.

But speaking of signage, the interior of the place is decorated with posters advertising all kinds of specialty drinks and liquors, the most intriguing of which was probably a peanut butter whisky called Screwball. Jason was so curious that he got a shot of it (hey, it was only $4!), which we all ended up sampling after it was proclaimed to be surprisingly delicious.

They also feature a large specialty cocktail list. Because nothing goes better with alcohol than lots and lots of written words.

So, all that being said, it would make total sense that the specialty food for Two Bucks is … Mac and cheese?

Wait, what?

Yeah, not exactly what you’d expect in a place adorned in alcohol advertisements and table tents touting under $5 drink specials. But according to the menus and website, it’s been cited a “Cleveland Best” in that category.

Mac and cheese, that is. Not bad decor or drink pricing. In case that wasn’t obvious. But I’m sure we could offer some suggestions for either category, no?

Anyway.

WHAT WE ORDERED

It’s probably not surprising, then, that when we asked the server what she recommended on the menu, the top item was the Mac and Cheese. I mean, it has won major awards and all.

But that menu item was closely followed in the server’s book by … well … pretty much almost everything else on the menu. So that’s helpful.

Cassi and Jason decided to start with pretzels and beer cheese.

Ted got the cauliflower wings with the teriyaki sauce. Thus proving there always have to be wings in some form or another on our table.

Shane and I got the “two buck” fries, and – even though it was clearly stated that the pickles were served in the form of spears and not chips – the fried pickles.

We take our chances in this group. Nothing like living on the edge.

Shane also initially wanted to order the fries along with the onion tanglers, I think because they were the only two apps on the menu under the “two buck” category. OK, like I totally get the desire to be economical, but – as Cassi said – there’s a million other good sounding things on the menu and that’s what you go for?

Exactly.

Moving on to meals, Cassi got the Chicken Philly with a side of the Mac and Cheese.

Jason got the Bucket Burger – the distinctive factor of which is that it has a fried egg on it – as well as onion straws and cheese.

Ted got the same thing. Minus the cheese. Of course.

I got the Steak Philly, and also chose the Mac and Cheese as a side.

But then because I wanted a side salad also, I asked if I could just get a small salad to go along with the meal … which then turned into a whole discussion about how the Mac and Cheese only comes in one size, so really getting it as an add-on side wasn’t any different than getting the side salad as an add-on side.

So wait, what now? The side and the meal are the same size? This seems odd, no?

There was already a lot of confusion at the table after that discussion, so we decided to just trust that the server knew what she was talking about and I wouldn’t end up paying $15 for a side salad.

Apparently not sensing the confusion already at the table, Shane gets the complicated order award with his choice of the “meal” of Mac and Cheese – not the plain kind that Cassi and I would be getting as the “side” order, but the special Three Way style (which, yes, we all giggled at when he ordered, because we’re 12) – along with two of the smoked kielbasa sliders and one BBQ bacon slider.

Yes, we were all pleasantly surprised when everything arrived at our table as ordered. Because we all know that could be its own separate award category.

THE VERDICT

After all the talk about the Mac and Cheese, you’ll be happy to know that it was good. I mean, I’m not sure we agree with all of the awards – Cassi stated that it certainly wasn’t her favorite ever – but it was definitely tasty.  I thought even the “plain” version had really good flavor. And in retrospect I really could’ve just ordered that and a salad and avoided the steak philly altogether, since the sandwiches were the least favorite part of both mine and Cassi’s meals. Cassi said her chicken was super dry. And while my steak was OK, it was nothing I ever need to eat again.

I ended up taking half of my sandwich and half of the mac and cheese home. And already I think we all know that only one of those halves will actually get eaten.

Cassi liked the pretzels, but said that they could’ve used salt. Color us all as shocked about that as we are when Ted orders something without cheese.

But speaking of cheese, make sure you don’t pull a Ted and skip the cheese with the pretzels. It was delicious.

Ted said the cauliflower was good, but that it really wasn’t spicy at all. Cassi tried one and said that’s what she should’ve ordered as her meal, so presumably she enjoyed that one piece more than Ted did the entire order.

Shane actually liked the fried pickles in the spear form (can we all just agree that it’s normal to start singing a Brittany Spears song everytime that word is read or typed?). But then said he added that he was really hungry, so that could’ve affected his decision. So that’s helpful.

I thought they didn’t have much flavor. The breading wasn’t overwhelming – which was a plus – but overall they could’ve used some seasoning. On a scale of Three Brothers to Dilly D’s, it was somewhere in the middle.

Apparently another specialty of the place is a new kind of French Fry that should probably be called “scraps” or “bottom of the barrell,” as they seemed to be fashioned after the tiny bits of potato chips you find at the very bottom of the chip bag. We thought when our app came out with those little pieces that maybe we were just unlucky enough to get the end of the bag of frozen bits dumped into the fryer … but then the fries that came with Jason’s and Ted’s burgers arrived looking exactly the same, so I guess that’s just how they make them? Either that or someone in the kitchen got mad at the frozen potatoes and ran them all over with their truck out back before bringing them into the kitchen? I mean, I’d take option one out of those two, but who knows at this point. Especially with all of these $2 drink specials.

Our bill was really good considering all the food we ordered. Both apps together came to just $5.50, which is less than we pay for one at most places. And my mixed drinks off of the specialty drink menu were only $4 each, which seemed super cheap. The actual meals were the most expensive things – which may be the most logical sentence I’ve typed in this entire review. Oh, wait, Ted’s beers actually beat the cost of most of our individual meals, as it was a full third of his final bill.

Even as we left, we were all still scratching our heads at the whole vibe of this place. Like the name and the drink specials pretty blatantly scream dive bar. But the touting of the award winning, “gourmet” Mac and Cheese along with the atmosphere in the place definitely screams a need to want to be more upscale than that. It’s like the bar version of the movie Pretty Woman.

The playlist also fluctuated somewhere between 70’s rock and tech dance club, which is a grey area I’m sure no one has thought necessary to give a genre name to yet, but I have to imagine this is what would happen if Bad Company and David Guetta suddenly decided to tour together. So there’s that.

We all agreed that while Two Bucks didn’t serve up the best food we‘ve ever had – Ted summed it up perfectly when he said that everything tasted good, but nothing had a ton of flavor to it – it was still tasty and we would eat here again.

And also, cheap drinks. I’ll take Things We Will Never Complain About for $1000 please, Alex. Because we never said we couldn’t be bought.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi