WTGW 12/12/18: Block 7 Bar & Grille, Barberton

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OK, here it is – the pick we’ve waited two weeks for. So, I mean, no pressure or anything, but this better be good.

Although in the interim we ended up realizing a place nearby had really good food, and rediscovering that Tim’s is still some of the best pizza around … so I guess those weeks count for something. But still.

So of course we were totally pumped when we walked into Block 7 Bar & Grille … and were greeted with almost total silence. Like we weren’t sure for a moment that the place was even open because we were literally the only people in the entire restaurant. Well, I mean, aside from the bartender, and someone I can only presume to be the cook who was sitting at the end of the bar talking with her until we sat down – because he then disappeared.

Sweet. At least the service should be good?

Sadly, with our group it seems even this isn’t a guarantee.

*sigh*

We were even more surprised to find out that Wednesdays are wing nights – all bone-in wings are 49 cents each – so yeah, still unclear on this whole empty restaurant thing. Does all of Barberton know something we don’t?

Maybe it’s that Block 7’s real name should more appropriately be “Ice Block,” or “7 Degrees from Freezing,” because that’s how we were feeling for the majority of our visit. When even the guys don’t want to take their coats off you know we’ve reached frigid levels. I mean, I get that business isn’t exactly booming – but maybe account for the lack of bodies in the place by turning the heat up just a smidge so we actually want to stay a while, no?

Instead we just started ordering up the alcohol. Which come to think of it may be a solid business tactic for them also, so kudos on that.

The guys went with beers, while I got a spiked peach drink from their cocktail menu that was their own specialty – and it was very tasty. I would definitely get it again.

Meanwhile Cassi asked the server about drink prices and was told that a tequila and soda was “probably around $6.00.” Huh. OK. That’s helpful. I take it no one ever orders those here?

Also helpful, on about our second or third round of re-orders the server finally mentioned that they have “those White Claw spiked selzers, and they’re only $3.25, if that’s of interest to you.” It’s like we said some code word and graduated to some sort of secret level of alcohol allowance. Thanks?

Hey, remember how we were cold? Well, Cassi and Jason’s fried pickle appetizer helped warm things up a little bit, since taking a bite of each of those little spears of fire pretty much raised the body temperature about 15 degrees.

Tiny delicious hand warmers

Ted tried one and had to blow on it for like 10 minutes before he could take a second bite. But at least they were better than the breading disaster that was Dilly D’s, so that made it worth the lost layers of skin.

Shane and I ordered the southwestern egg rolls, which arrived slightly less than a billion degrees – but no less tasty. The chipotle ranch dipping sauce was spicy but not overwhelming, and the rolls themselves were nice and crispy without being burnt. Score.

You could pretty much put anything in an egg roll wrapper and I would call it delicious

Hey, look, another couple has joined us in the bar for dinner. Just when we were getting used to having the whole place as our own personal dining room. Hopefully this means the service won’t diminish?

Spoiler alert: it would. There was a time later in the evening where I was basically slurping my empty drink through my straw in a not-so-subtle just universally recognized attempt to get the bartender to realize I needed another drink … yeah, nothing. Oh well.

So since it was wing night, I bet you can’t guess what we all ordered? Yeah, we aren’t predictable or anything. I mean, I’ll admit, I was torn between a burger and the wings. Because, again, that never happens. We also never go places that only have those two things on the menu, either.

Never. Gets. Old.

So I got both. I mean, if you’ve learned nothing from this group, it’s that anything that can be considered an appetizer, including things that normally are classified as meals.

Trendsetters, we are. I know.

And I wasn’t the only one to be torn on this decision – in fact, Shane was the only one out of the five of us tonight to actually ONLY get wings, and no other food. But he did get 20 wings – 10 mango habanero, 5 Cajun and 5 honey mustard – so I guess that counts for something.

Shane’s side of the table

I got the mushroom Swiss burger and 5 of the lemon pepper wings. Plus the server said I could add “a handful” of fries for only $1.00 – and who would pass up that bargain? Not me.

There are five there, I swear

Um, the burger doesn’t seem to fit the bun. This is a problem.

Although I would later regret that fry option – as would Cassi – when our handful of fries proved to have been sitting under the heat lamps since about the last time a customer was probably in the building, while Jason was served up a nice piping hot fresh batch. Favorites, much?

Can we trade ours in for these, please?

Cassi had wanted to get the Block burger, but said it sounded like a heart attack on a plate so she decided against it. The description actually reminded me of the Romanburger from Mr. Hero – which I’ve always thought to be delicious, back from the times growing up when that particular fast food was considered a special “dining out treat” by my parents. Thanks for the risk of early heart disease, Mom and Dad. No wonder I feel the need to overindulge on salads in my adult years.

But I digress.

Cassi ended up bypassing the heart attack burger (see what I did there?) and ordering the mushroom Swiss burger – with a special addition of carmelized onions – along with 5 of the sweet and spicy wings.

Hey look, more wings! Do they all look the same yet?

Jason decided on the Shirley burger, plus 5 of the teriyaki wings and 5 of the sweet and spicy wings.

Shurely you have some cheddar cheese on your burger

Ted, meanwhile, ordered like four meals, which was apropos considering we’d just had a conversation about his tendency to do so. He got the chicken Caesar wrap, along with three sets of wings – spicy glazed, sweet and spicy, and Cajun.

Ted’s wings. I’m not sure I want to know just how many chickens had to die just for our table alone.

I’m also fully aware that I think I missed getting pictures of some of the wings. Sorry. They just kept showing up at our table, it was a little difficult to keep up.

With all this talk of wings, you’re probably wondering what the scale of hotness is, no? Well, we were, and since this is our blog we’re going to talk about it, so you can just scroll along if you don’t care. We actually asked the bartender, because the menu listing and the names didn’t seem to give any clear indications on what order they should fall. Well except the Blazin’ – as expected, that’s the hottest. Then the spicy glazed, then mango habanero to round out the top three. And the spicy sweet is supposed to be more sweet than spicy, so maybe they need to rethink the order of those words in the name there.

End PSA. You’re welcome.

All of the wings came out first, so I guess we were thinking correctly when we said they would be our second course of appetizers.

And yes, that could totally be a thing. Remember, trendsetters.

We were all really happy with the wings. All of the various sauces were delicious, and the wings were pretty large for being on special at only 49 cents each. We’ve paid more for much smaller at other places.

That’s what she said. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

But definitely, if you go to Block 7, the wings are the way to go. I don’t think any of us had a sauce we didn’t like, and they were definitely filling.

The burgers, on the other hand, were disappointing. Especially in comparison to the wings. I ended up eating mine without the bun because the bread was pretty plain – and there was far more of it than there was burger – but even so, the patty, while seasoned, just didn’t seem to have much taste to it.

Cassi disagreed with me, she thought the burger was good. But she also admitted that she usually only eats boneless wings, so she was less thrilled with the wings than the rest of the table.

On the non-burger front, Ted’s aversion to cheese finally proved problematic in his eyes, as apparently in this restaurant saying “no cheese” also causes the cook to omit the dressing. And when you take the dressing out of a Caesar wrap, you pretty much just have … well … a tortilla filled with chicken.

I’m craving a giant glass of water just writing that.

That looks … plain

Good thing all of his wing orders meant he had about 16 ranch dressing cups sitting on the table that he could use to help him out … but even so, it was a bit of a struggle to get through.

He did it, though – along with 13 of his 15 wings. And then said he pretty much didn’t think he needed to eat again until next Wednesday.

Meanwhile Shane was proud of himself for only ordering wings, after hearing all of us talk about how much we preferred them to the other options on the table. He ended up finishing off 19 of his 20 wings. He tried to do the last one, but was so uncomfortably full that he just couldn’t force himself to do it. Jason ended up finishing that one for him.

That’s friendship, folks.

Picked by: Jason

Jason

Cassi (note the winter attire – obviously it didn’t get any warmer)

Ted

Steph. Thumbs up for wings and down for burgers

Shane

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WTGW Special Edition – Second Annual Scrumptious Showdown 6/3/17

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OK, so you know how we often go into places and declare we’re ordering ALL THE FOOD because we’re so hungry? Or how many times the guys end up getting two full meals and an appetizer each, which prompts comments from me about the copious amounts of food we have at one table?

Well, I think we finally met our match.

A month or so ago I was contacted by one of the lovely marketing peeps at Aurora Farms Premium Outlets about our team from WTGW being food judges for their Second Annual Scrumptious Showdown – an event at the outdoor shopping center that invites various local food trucks to not only sell food to patrons but also be judged by a panel for the opportunity to win bragging rights and gift cards to Aurora Farms.

So of course we said yes – because, I mean, hello, have you met us? You want us to come out and eat stuff then tell you what we thought of it? Clearly we have no clue how that concept works.

Although I think we can all admit now that, while we know food, the concept we were a little clueless on was food judging. To say we were slightly unprepared for what we were getting ourselves into is like the astronauts of Apollo 13 telling Houston they have a problem. I mean, we obviously like food. But I don’t think in my whole life I have ever eaten so much in one 90 minute time span.

Must. Train. Better. Next. Time.

Anyway.

When we arrived on a beautiful, sunny Saturday we met not only our hosts from Aurora Farms, but also the rest of the judges. They had invited six judges total – all area food and event bloggers – and split us up into two sets of three for the judging so that all of us didn’t have to judge every category. Which at first we were like, wait, why, we got this. Uh, no. See above comment about ill-preparedness. Because about 45 minutes into the competition I realized the organizers were actually really smart people.

So our group had four categories to judge: best wrap, best vegetarian dish, best cold dessert, and best sweet treat. The other group had both the cold and sweet desserts along with us, and then “best between two buns,” which was sandwiches that weren’t wraps.

Everyone knows when you have a clipboard you’re official

At first I kinda thought we got the worse end of that deal – why do they get burgers and sandwiches while we get boring wraps? But in the end I think we lucked out, because not only were the wraps we tried far from boring, but also all of our trucks gave us so much food that we ended up filling several take home containers.

Seriously, So. Much. Food.

That’s right, back off, you ordinary people. Our gluttony will take over this table.

There were six entries in the wraps category alone. Six. Now, granted, it’s not like we had to eat a full wrap from each truck – but you’d be surprised how quickly a few bites of each flour tortilla filled sandwich can fill you up. Especially when what’s on the inside of those tortillas includes things like meats, cheeses (sorry, Ted) and even pasta. Um, OK.

So the six wraps we tried included a BBQ chicken mac & cheese wrap from Wrap It Up, a slow roasted beef and cheese wrap from Hatfield’s Goode Grub, a chicken wrap from Wholly Frijoles Mexican Street Food, an Open Faced Cuban wrap from Off the GRIDdle, Ahi Tuna Tacos from The Beachcomber Truck, and a gyro from Gyro George.

This is only my corner of the table

The three of us individually scored each item based not only on the taste, but also on things like the uniqueness and presentation. Hatfield’s scored the best on all of our sheets for the wraps – the flavor was out of this world, plus they were the only truck to actually send someone over to talk to us about the dish and how it was prepared, so that definitely scored them points for presentation. They ended up winning the category.

As far as other standouts, the mac and cheese burrito definitely got points for originality. And it should be noted that Ted The Cheese Hater’s first words were “well that cheese isn’t so awful,” which anyone who reads this blog regularly knows to be a compliment. This was also the first item we were presented with after we’d pretty much starved ourselves all morning to be ready for this event, so we had to remember to pace ourselves and not eat the entire thing at once. In the words of a wise person being interviewed by a TV station at a Browns tailgate (i.e.: me), “it’s a marathon not a sprint.”

Hmm, I want mac and cheese … no, I want a buffalo chicken wrap. Let’s put them together!

The Cuban got points for originality, but the meat was slightly dry. The chicken burrito was good, but lacked the uniqueness of some of the other wraps – if you’ve been to Chipotle, you’ve had this item. Ted liked the ahi tuna wrap … but Shane and I thought it lacked flavor. Although I do think mine was missing a lot of the pineapple-y sauce that Ted raved about, so there’s that. And the gyro was very tasty – but, again, it’s not that original (I mean, really, how can you change up a gyro?). But we did appreciate that he gave each of the three of us an entire gyro meal – a sandwich, cheesy fries and baklava – so you now that was going down as dinner later. Thanks, Gyro George. You may not have won the vote, but you won a special place in my stomach for that move.

In the vegetarian category we only had three entries – a stuffed mushroom served in a cute little mini martini glass from Robesto’s Catering, black bean tater tots with a dipping sauce from Off the GRIDdle, and a vegetarian taco from Wrap It Up. The guys were wowed by the mushroom – or maybe just the tiny doll sized martini glasses, it’s hard to say exactly, but they couldn’t stop raving about it. Meanwhile, I was more of a fan of the veggie taco. The sauce on it was so flavorful and a touch spicy without blowing your mouth up. We all thought the tots were super original – and also really good. Personally I would order those in any restaurant. So we were all across the board individually in our scoring, but after the votes were tabulated later it seemed the mushroom in the tiny glass took the prize.

Damn you boys. No more getting wowed by plastic ware. I mean, come on, I didn’t even take a picture of it so it couldn’t be THAT impressive. Sheesh.

So by now you’re probably hungry after reading all that – but we definitely weren’t after eating it. Which means we were absolutely thrilled to find out we still had two categories left to judge. Yay!

And of course it’s my favorite – desserts. Can we please do these FIRST next time? I mean, seriously. I need to leave more room for these things.

This pretty much describes my feeling about desserts

They split the desserts up into two categories: cold, and, well, basically not cold. Personally I think that was just a ploy to get us to walk around a bit more and try to work out a corner of our stomachs for all of the remaining food – but hey, they’ve been smart so far, so I didn’t question them on this either.

For cold desserts there was a turtle sundae from East Coast Custard, iced coffee from Floured Apron, and a cherry chunk custard from Stoddards‘.

I was a fan of the cherry custard – I thought it had good flavor, with just the right amount of chunks in it (that sounds way more disgusting that it meant to, really). A lot of the other judges seemed to like the sundae, but for me there were too many nuts involved. And yes, before you say it, the guys didn’t miss out on the opportunity to joke about that sentence once I made the mistake of letting it fall from my mouth.

But overall in that category it was the iced coffee that won. It was very good, and we did get a nice explanation from the owner about the type of coffee she uses and how it’s brewed. And I have to believe the pink flamingo straw played a big part into presentation.

It’s like having a drink with a friend

I mean, come on. How cute is that?

After we cleansed our palettes with cool treats, it was time for the final category of the day – sweet desserts. At which point the organizers said to us “OK, it’s time for the sweets category, let’s all head over to Jackpot Chicken for our first entry …” Wait, what now? Did you just say “desserts” and “chicken” in the same sentence? That’s like saying let’s go pick out some shoes from Pet Supplies Plus. Hmm.

Turns out they were serving warm apple empanadas. Which were somewhat tasty, although really sticky and difficult to eat until someone chased us down some plastic silverware. Negative points for presentation, thank you very much.

We all also had a laugh when one of the other judges from the other team approached the chicken truck to ask what the shells of the empanadas were mad of, since they were orange and that’s slightly unusual. The answer was this stellar and clearly well rehearsed marketing line: “I don’t know, we buy them frozen.” Genius. Maybe those people should be here showcasing their product instead of you. Just a thought.

After that it was two kinds of cupcakes, a buckeye cupcake from the Sweet Mobile Cupcakery, and a S’mores cupcake from Floured Apron.

Keep ’em coming

While they were both tasty and very well presented (including talks from the owners of both trucks about how the cupcakes are made and why they chose those particular flavors to have us judge), Floured Apron took the majority of the vote to win that category.

Get out the brooms, folks, because that’s a SWEEP for Floured Apron in desserts. Nice job, ladies.

In addition to our judging, people purchasing food from the trucks had the opportunity to place votes for the day’s “Fan Favorite” – which ended up going to Gyro George.

Overall it was a great event. Whoever put the order in for the weather must be better friends with Mother Nature than I am, because we had a picture perfect day to be walking around outside. And regardless of what our stomachs might have to say to us on the subject, we all thought it was fun to be judges. Even as we were unceremoniously stuffing those last bites of cupcake into our mouths, we still realized we were lucky to have been asked to be a part of this fun and interesting event.  Thank you to Aurora Farms for inviting us, and for trusting our sometimes super picky food tastes to judge these trucks and their amazing dishes. We’ll definitely do it again!

That being said, does that give us an excuse to keep ordering ALL THE FOOD so that we can stay “in shape” until next year? I mean, if we tell our doctors we’re “training” for something, that makes the weight we’re sure to gain acceptable, right? 

Do we look full? Because we are.