WTGW 11/7/18: 91 Wood Fired Oven, Canton

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Hey, remember a few weeks ago when we were visiting dive bars and our entire group’s collective bill was like $50?

Yeah, we’ve clearly moved up in the world.

That doesn’t look like a canned beer

It’s like when you get your first real adult apartment and try to compare it to your college place that classified as an apartment pretty much only by the verdict that it had four walls, a door, and functioning plumbing.

91 Wood Fired Oven is owned by the same people who have a few of our other Canton-area picks: 3 Brothers, and Table 6. I know, we all see what they did there with the numbers. Ted has been holding onto this pick for a bit now waiting to finish out the trifecta.

Wednesday brings us a short list of $6 martini specials until 9pm (again, numbers. What is it with these people and multiples of three?), so at least that gave things a promising start. I got the melon.

Spoiler alert: it looked and sounded more promising than it tasted. The fact that I only had one should speak for itself.

Moving on.

Since they didn’t have Shane’s signature namesake martini at this place, he went with a Blue Moon (future me says wise choice on that one, bud), while Ted and Jason got whatever porter was on draft.

For the second week in a row Ted looked at the menu for about five seconds and then declared this was going to be a expensive meal – and not just because he got used to our weeks of entrees for $1 each. Instead it was due to his decision that he would forgo an appetizer in order to actually get two dinners – a meat lovers pizza, and the grilled tenderloin skewer.

Because we all know Ted loves meat on a stick.

Ah, that never gets old.

Well those are definitely bite sized

Meanwhile on the other side of the table, Jason got the pretzel bite app all for himself, along with a BBQ chicken pizza – since Cassi was still abstaining from all things alcoholic, carb-loaded and topped with cheese.

Which makes a pizza place a real treat, I know.

She ended up with the Brussels Sprout Salad.

Which just by name alone seems that it should fit more in a photo frame with my martini glass than the appetizer that Shane and I got: the double chip platter, half covered in blue cheese and half covered in bacon and cheddar.

You can put it on a classy plate all you want – it’s still chips covered in cheese

You can hand a girl a martini glass, but you can’t make her drink it with something other than true bar food. True story.

OK, I admit, I did go back up a notch with my dinner order of Smoked Gouda Risotto. So there’s that.

Shane, meanwhile, copied half of Ted’s dual dinner and ordered the meat lovers pizza.

OK, so now that you know what was supposed to come to the table this evening … let’s talk about what we really ended up with.

Cassi’s salad arrives looking like literally just lettuce. Seems a bit of a red flag that something called Brussels Sprout salad wouldn’t have even one of said item on it, no? Exactly.

Oh good, a plate of something I could’ve bought in a bag at the grocery store for $3

So we called the server over and he confirmed that it was definitely not the right salad. He took it to the back and returned a few minutes later with what appeared to be the same plate, just with some Brussels Sprouts as garish.

Oh look, they added … more green stuff

Interesting.

My risotto arrived looking more like a meat entrée. Which was weird considering that chicken, while mentioned in the description of the dish, wasn’t anywhere in the title. So, yeah, it should certainly look like two giant pieces of chicken in a bowl instead of … well … a bowl of risotto with maybe some chicken pieces in it. OK.

That brown risotto is ruining the rest of the dish

And it didn’t take more than a few bites for me to realize that not only would I prefer the visual of said dish prepared in that fashion, but the taste also. I mean, the risotto was good – it was rich, so I probably couldn’t have eaten more than what I had anyway – but the chicken really killed it for me. Not only were the pieces too thick, giving me flashbacks to the time Hooley House tried to serve up a salmonella sandwich for one … but the taste was just not great.

On the pizza front, Shane spent a few moments trying to figure out why they forgot to put cheese on his. Did Ted call ahead and tell them we were all allergic, as a joke? Had they heard us talking about Cassi’s diet and figured the rest of the group would want to be sympathetic?

Nope, that’s just how they come here.

Did the cheese evaporate when you sprinkled the special shrinking dust on it?

It’s also missing about half the size we’re used to for pizzas in this group. It’s like when you put a sweater in the dryer by accident and it comes out looking like something that now fits your dog or 4-year old niece.

It looks so small and sad

And it wasn’t just the pizzas that seemed small. Ted thought he would have leftovers, being that he did order two full entrees … but because the pizza was microwave sized and the meat on a stick was taken from special cows bred to be about the same size as chickens, well, lets just say he reached the point of “it’s not worth it to waste a to-go box on what won’t end up being a full meal anyway,” and just let that last slice of pizza stay with the plate.

The knife is bigger than the meat lollipop

That’s not to say he wasn’t full, though. I think out of all of us, he was the one most likely to say no to a support stop at Taco Bell on the way home.

Or to a dessert menu. Of course we had to tease Ted when the desserts were mentioned, because when we were at both of this establishment’s sister restaurants we thought we were full and then we went ahead with dessert anyway because they sounded so delicious. And we weren’t disappointed.

I mean need to talk about pumpkin love again? Especially when it is that season right now and it’s likely we won’t get back there before they take it off the seasonal menu again. Someone needs to make a note right now to schedule a revisit every fall just so we can go there and fill up on fried pickles and pumpkin love.

There’s a sentence that shouldn’t be read out of context.

Overall, this was a bit of a disappointing pick. It was definitely our least favorite restaurant from their umbrella, and I have to believe the one we would be least likely to head back to anytime soon. Not to say this place is awful by any means – but if you have the choice of 3, 6 or 9 … let’s just say that less is more where these places are concerned.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Shane – with a non-Ted backdrop

Steph

Jason

Cassi

91 Wood Fired Oven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 9/26/18: DelCiello’s, Ravenna

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Note to restaurant owners out there: if you don’t want us to come review your place, you’re best not to even mention that you have anything to do with the restaurant business.

This week is a perfect case in point to that, as Ted has been talking about picking Delciello’s ever since we met the owner at our celebrity judging gig at Aurora Farms this past summer. When Ted said that this would be our place of choice for this week, we kind of thought that meant he would pick the new spot just opened up in Aurora, because hearing the owner talk it seemed like it would have more of our younger, bar-y vibe about it.

But instead Ted threw us for a loop and picked the original location in Ravenna. Which the words “younger” and “bar-y” won’t really come within a three block radius of.

This, from the same person who brought us to Gus’ Chalet. I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Although at first glance it had some potential, as it’s literally situated in a house. Wait, isn’t this Shane’s territory?

Oh, wait, there’s a big long history lesson involved here about why this house is still around. The website references the “historic Jennings House,” which I guess some Ravenna residents refer to as the area’s “white house.”

That’s about as far as I got before I felt myself reverting to 9th grade history class and slowly zoning out.

We didn’t leave it smelling like burger grease and fryers like some of our other house ventures, though, so I guess that counts for something.

So I guess the owners are a husband and wife team, one of which is German and one is Italian. So their idea was to have a restaurant that serves both specialties.

Once again, brought to you by the same person who took us to “Sushi and Bar.” I’m not sure what kind of a reputation Ted is building for himself here.

In any case, at least each specialty has its own menu here, so if you can’t have gluten and don’t want to even tempt yourself with pasta you can just request the German menu … likewise if anything beginning or ending in the word schnitzel just makes you giggle (guilty!) then you can politely hand back the German entree list.

And then there’s also a drink menu. So as you can imagine no one in our group even picked that one up.

I couldn’t even type that without laughing. Please.

It took us a bit to get situated, not only in the proper table but also with the array of menus. The table situation was because, well, since as I mentioned the place is a literal home turned into dining area with a bar smacked down in the center … and it’s a bit more on the “fancy” than “bar food” side, which means it’s usually smaller groups and couples dining together … so there aren’t exactly easy places for a group of five to just slide in without moving some things around.

But you know already we aren’t shy about that.

Anyway.

Opening the menus is a bit like settling in to read a short story to a toddler. Lots of words, and a pretty font to boot. That’s always fun. Cassi admitted she was a tad overwhelmed. I mean, we’ve come a long way from one of her first official WTGW outings, when the place we ended up at only had two things to choose from … and now this.

Anyone need a bedtime story?

Ted of course takes about three seconds to scan the various menus before closing them all in a pile and folding his arms across his chest in the universally Ted sign of “I’ve made my selection.” He then proceeded to try to dive right in ordering apps when we’ve all barely had a chance to scan the 10 page drink menu.

Fortunately we could choose quickly, especially Jason and Shane, who went the route of the bottled Bud Lites for only $2.50. Cassi and I had a more difficult time, since it was a rather steep jump from that to the $8.50 mixed drinks.

Apparently “middle ground” are also words not in this place’s vocabulary.

We quickly got our crap together for the appetizer order, since of course Ted was well ahead of us and impatiently trying to order his entire meal before the drinks even arrived. Ted ordered the Tuscan calamari, which I later learned was named as such because it comes with peppers, tomatoes and olive oil in it. Apparently calling it “Tuscan” instead of “Fancy” is preferred.

Calamari, embellished

Cassi and Jason got just plain old calamari. Which is like the cheese pizza of calamari, especially compared to Ted’s deluxe order.

There’s an irony there. Don’t worry, I see it too.

Calamari, plain

Irony #2: Ted wasn’t so much a fan of the Tuscan calamari. Turns out they kind of went overboard with the oil, which drowned out the taste of everything else. Ted said he would’ve preferred it was just more peppers and tomatoes along with the calamari.

Cassi and Jason also ordered cheese sticks, which sounded good enough to Shane and I that we got an order also. I mean, it’s fried cheese. How can you go wrong. Well, I mean, for at least four out of the five people at the table anyway.

Fried things for the win

While these may just look like regular old “remove from freezer and throw into the deep fryer” cheese sticks, Shane claimed the breading on them was phenomenal. He was also in love with the marinara sauce that came with them. I think he would’ve eaten it by itself like some form of chunky tomato soup if we had just given him a spoon.

We didn’t. Shocking.

In this week’s edition of Shane Interrogates Our Server, we discussed portion sizes, and what meals would easily feed an entire rugby team just after a championship match. Well, OK, not in those exact words, but that seemed to be the implication.

Caught slightly off-guard, our poor server could at least reference the fact that we were dealing with two nationalities of food that don’t tend to do portion control well, so pretty much anything on the menu should come close to those expectations. But the two that stood out the most to him would probably be the lasagna or the Jagerschnitzel.

Shane chose the Jagerschnitzel, making him the only person in our group to attempt the German menu. Although he kept calling it Jagerbomb Schnitzel, which I’m not sure the kitchen would agree with creating (and even if they would, does anyone think adding Red Bull to a meal is really the best culinary choice?), even though the server tried to write it down as such after hearing Shane reference it so many times.

Even without the added jolt of “bomb,” Shane was happy with his meal. Maybe not as happy as he was with the cheese sticks and marina soup, but close. He said it was delicious. And while it was undeniably a large portion, he still managed to leave the table as a member of the clean plate club.

One of these things is not like the other

Well, except for the side of peas and carrots that came with his meal, those got pushed in my direction. Stupid imaginary vegetable allergy.

Jason admittedly was jealous of the mushroom gravy. He had also been regretting his meatball sub choice after the server walked away from taking our orders, thinking that he would have a case of food envy bigger than Shane’s hunger once all of our giant plates of pasta and whatever-oversized-entree-Shane-ordered arrived at the table. But once his plate was set in front of him he immediately felt more confident that he chose wisely.

Probably the most American thing on the Italian German menu

He said the sub was very good. The chips alone made the rest of us kind of look at our plates like bald men stared at 80’s rock band icons back in the day.

Especially me, who was not happy with my Pasta Palermo. Admittedly I ordered it because of the alluring “baked under an layer of cheese” description … because, well, those words are definitely music to the ears of pretty much anyone who isn’t Ted. And first glance definitely gave me hope that I’d picked something delicious.

Ted was thrilled to be sitting across from this gooey mess

But honestly the whole cooking then baking thing really just made the pasta too well done. And soft pasta mush is, well, about as pleasant to taste as those exact words imply.

Cassi got the vodka tomato pasta with angel hair. She didn’t say much about it, and left 3/4 of it on her plate after the meal was finished, so I’m going to use my super-sleuth powers to suppose that it was about as tasty as my baked cheesy mush.

It’s hard to screw up spaghetti, right? One would think.

At least Ted was a happy pasta customer. He ordered the clam linguine, and said it was very tasty … despite containing what had to be some of the smallest clams I’ve ever seen. It’s like they found some clam pipeline from Munchkinland.

You feel like a giant picking up one of these tiny clams

We actually passed on ordering dessert – which is strange for us considering lately we’ve been ordering it if they have it on the menu. But I guess given the portion sizes it’s not that surprising, honestly.

The final consensus seemed to be that if you were hungry and you didn’t order overdone pasta, you could leave this place a happy camper. But I doubt we’ll see the inside of this place on another Wednesday anytime soon, just because it’s not our usual Wednesday vibe. The quiet inside the place was somewhat intimidating. And I think our group brought the median age down by at least a generation and a half. Which of course means that our table conversations – carried well across the church-like quiet of the place – weren’t really meant for the ears that they then landed on. Apologies to the table of two women in the same room as us who came out for a nice dinner and probably left more schooled in strangers’ bathroom habits and the antics of a group of randoms during their last drinking adventure than they had bargained for.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Pirate Shane

Steph

Cassi

Jason

WTGW 8/22/18: Lock 15 Brewing Company, Akron

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There are two types of people in this world: those who rush out to see a movie the first weekend it’s open, even though it means fighting crowds and sitting in an extremely full theater … and those who avoid that situation like the plague, even if it means usually forgetting the movie exists until well after its hit the 2nd year of availability on Netflix.

I fall into the latter category. I’m not one to flock to the latest thing just because it’s the latest thing, or to rush through the open doors of a new restaurant/bar/store five minutes after they’re unlocked for the first time.

Which makes perfect sense as to why we’re here at Lock 15 Brewing Company on only the second day of its existence. And that it was my choice.

See also: things I vow to never do again, because clearly the universe was trying to punish me for this decision this time around.

More on that later.

So Lock 15 Brewing Company is a brand new space located in the newly renovated Cascade Lofts building, just on the edge of downtown Akron. I’d been watching the space’s social media accounts, which I thought had hinted to the opening actually being earlier this summer. I’m not sure exactly why, but it seems this was instead pushed back to the end of August. Technically still summer, although closer to “end of” than “early in.”

I hesitated on the pick when I looked online and noticed that their online reservation system showed no openings for private tables between 7 – 7:30PM. But knowing that they had several “common tables” (read: long tables you might end up sharing with other guests) I wasn’t overly concerned that we wouldn’t find a place to seat ourselves. Also, reservations are a bit taboo in this group anyway. We all remember the last time we tried making one of those, only to end up eating tarter toast and not-sweet bean salad in a room that clearly was not going to be standing room only.

So, yeah, I’m not sure if they only take four reservations per half hour time slot, or if literally all of those people who made online reservations ditched out at the last minute, but we had zero problem getting a table when we walked in reservation-less at a little before 7PM. Because the place is one big open room and we could clearly see the door and any line that did or didn’t form at the entrance area, I can also tell you that the time periods of 7:30 and 8:00 would’ve been free of any mad rush for seating as well.

The place itself is pretty nice. You can definitely tell they put some money into the renovations and the decor of the space. Which apparently they are trying to get back via the cost of food. Snacks and starters range from $7 – $13 – with  wings being among the most expensive item on the section. Hmmm, not our typical ballpark, but OK. Sandwiches are in the $15 average range. The dinners actually seemed surprisingly low in comparison, with most running around the same price or just a little more than most of the sandwiches.

The menu is also pretty much what our group would consider to be “fancy,” especially when served in combination with beer. I mean, they have the staples like burgers and salads, but they throw you off with culinary vocabulary like “spent grain bun,” “Vegan brioche bun,” and “pork belly croutons.” In particular the Arugula Goat Cheese Toast Salad sounds like something my fried-food-loving body would run screaming in the opposite direction of, but whatevs. But then they also have highly intriguing – read: sounds less healthy – things like a Pork Belly BLT, Ghost Pepper Mac and Cheese, and Nashville Hot Chicken. Huh.

But let’s start with the beers.

Horray for beer!

I got the Hefe, IPA for Jason, Porter for Shane, Pilsner for Cassi … and nothing for Ted, who had a work event this evening, but didn’t tell us until like 5:00 so we couldn’t make alternative revisit arrangements. Bad Ted.

Apparently they also have flights of beer, so you can try samples of the different offerings before you commit to a giant 16oz glass of something that maybe tastes like burnt coffee and motor oil. But we weren’t aware of this until we saw one getting carried away from the bar to a neighboring table. File that under: things we wish they had advertised in some way.

Of course, on the night I leave my “telepathy for beginners” manual at home. Never fails.

For apps, Cassi and Jason got the nachos, while Shane and I opted to carb load with a giant pretzel.

Chippy nachos

Proof that looks can be deceiving

The nachos ended up being the winner here. Wait, what? How is that possible? I mean, did you not see the photo?

Yeah, well, let’s just call this pretzel the appetizer equivalent of that person across the bar who you think is totally hot until they walk over and open their mouth to reveal an IQ that gerbils would be embarrassed about.

At first sight it looks amazing. But then you take a bite, and realize it’s drier than pool towels left out in the sun all day, with about as much flavor. It’s like eating a loaf of bread made entirely of heel slices.

Let that thought sink in a little bit.

The cheese and mustard dipping sauces might’ve helped … had they given us a larger portion. You can’t baste a turkey with an eyedropper, but thanks for trying.

I mean, come on. WTF are we supposed to do with this?

Meanwhile the nachos were actually made from potato chips instead of tortilla chips, and had tons of toppings. #appetizerenvy

I’d like to say things improved for us from this point, but I don’t want to lie to you. I think I’m safe to say that the nachos were the highlight of the evening. Getting our apps and drinks was definitely the epitome of our service for the night, because after that it seemed to take longer and longer for our server to appear anywhere close to the proximity of our table. And, again, the place is one giant room, so we would’ve seen if she had been busy with tables on the other side of the space or something like that. But no, she just would seemingly get kidnapped into the back for like 19 minutes out of every 20. Because that’s helpful.

In any case, I guess it’s good that we were done with the appetizers before she even took our meal orders, because there was no way all of that food would’ve fit along with the app plates. As it was the meals for four people barely left us with any table space to set our drinks.

If it looks like we’re sitting on each other’s laps … well we almost are

Shane and Jason both ordered burgers. I know you’re shocked about that. Shane got the Black and Blue burger, while Jason opted for the Lock 15.

It looks like a breakfast sandwich

Filed under ultra-messy

I tried to order the chili … but was informed they were all out. On day two?  Either that was the crowd favorite on the official opening the night before, or maybe cheese and mustard aren’t the only things that are portion sized into eyedroppers around here.

So I got the pork belly BLT instead.

FYI, bread with holes in it should not be used to contain items that spew grease

Cassi ordered the hush puppies. And then sat and watched us start to eat our food, since apparently there was also a run on those early in the restaurant’s short lifespan, as she was informed as our food was being delivered that hers would take a bit longer due to just having been started.

I would say something to the effect of letting us know that not long after we ordered would’ve been helpful, but let’s just say that by this point we were just thrilled that someone who worked there came out of hiding long enough to even approach our table and deliver most of the meal. Be very still and don’t scare them away too quickly.

How long does it really take to make this many hush puppies?

All of us were genuinely disappointed in the food. It arrived looking great, but when you tasted it … well … it just didn’t overwhelm any of us. Shane said his burger was just OK, but nothing special that he would feel the need to return for. Cassi said the hush puppies might’ve been better with a different breading, but that in their current state they just don’t have much flavor. Seems to be a theme here with things of the carb-laden variety,

Meanwhile I was channeling Cassi’s pizza experience of a few months ago with a mushy bottomed sandwich. I blame poor bread choice on this one. Seems to me something sturdier than holey sour dough might be in order when you’re dealing with a pork product, no?

The items making up the “T” portion of my sandwich were also weird. I don’t have a better word to describe them than that. Weird. Take that as you will.

The consensus seemed to be that the giant pretzel should really just be the mascot of the entire menu. Looks great when it arrives, but they need to learn to deliver the taste to the table as well.

(Side note, if you pull up Lock 15’s menu online, the photo at the top is that of the pretzel. Which made me giggle, because while I didn’t notice that until after I wrote this review, clearly we’re on to something here.)

In any case, the non-flavorful food is a real shame, because we had high hopes for this place. The space is great – and will be made even better once the outdoor patio opens, since we could see where it’s intended to be and were slightly jealous we couldn’t be seated there already. It’s also nice to see a local brewery with a full bar to offer for those who aren’t in the mood to for gluten heavy drinks. I do think overall it still has potential, but that there are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out.

One of which is this:

I don’t imagine these can be re-used

If you’re going to seat people in close quarters and give them cold glasses of beer, I hope either there’s a large line item on the budget for reams of paper, or part of your staff also moonlights at the local Kinko’s. As Cassi stated when she pointed this debacle out: “that will never work.”

Oh – and you’re going to have to go another week without our smiling faces, since we once again forgot to take photos before we left the restaurant. And we’ve learned that dark parking lots are not the venue for this either. I think we’re all still having nightmares about the last time we tried this

 

 

WTGW 8/15/18: Tinkers Creek Rd Tavern, Northfield

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It’s a rite of passage this week, as this marks Jason’s first official pick as part of our WTGW crew. Because after a certain number of weeks dining out with the group you’re forced to stop freeloading and take responsibility for some of the sketchy choices we’ve made over the years, as well as the judgmental, sarcastic commentary that follows.

Needless to say he was a little nervous.

His nerves certainly weren’t calmed on the drive to Tinkers Creek Road Tavern, as we all at one point or another commented that, while we weren’t far from our homes in terms of mileage, we sure were in terms of civilization. This place is quite literally in the middle of absolute nowhere. Or, technically, the middle of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Which led to speculation that Jason’s search for this place must’ve essentially consisted of Googling “places to go for a beer when lost in the forest.”

Boy Scouts would be proud.

Once we finally found the place the concern switched to whether or not we would actually get a table prior to the 9PM closing time, as the parking lot looked packed and the building looked way too tiny to hold all of the people that would’ve arrived in said vehicles.

It turns out that the building is deceptively small looking, and they probably want to think about expanding that parking lot.

Upon entering we realized that the easiest way to a hostess’ heart is to tell them you have no preference between indoor or outdoor seating, as she proclaimed she loved us after that statement. We figured that given the number of cars in the parking lot and the vacancy of the indoor areas, we would most likely not see the likes of a patio this evening.

We were wrong. The hostess led us outside to the patio, where we discovered not only the owners of most of those cars in the parking lot, but also an amazingly beautiful patio situated next to what I’m assuming must be the namesake Tinker’s Creek.

Well this certainly doesn’t suck for background atmosphere

It was like being in a whole other world. Or on vacation somewhere not in northeast Ohio. Which, with Ted in the driver’s seat, isn’t all that difficult a proposition. How long were we in the car, exactly?

We showed our appreciation for our new environment from the very beginning, as we became what I can only assume were the most agreeable table ever to set foot on this particular patio. Drink menus? Yep, hand them over. Waters for everyone? Sure! With lemon? Why not!?!

Cassi put the brakes on our enthusiasm train when she realized that the extensive drink menu didn’t include pricing, and had to ask the server how much the various cocktails and craft beers were going for. All heed the lesson of Shane and the unknowingly overpriced craft beers of a few months ago.

While we weren’t fans of the price guessing game, we will give kudos to the server for not only unbegrudgingly going to check on them for us, but also actually knowing the differences in the various beers on the menu. When Jason asked about the flavors of the different IPAs, she gave real references, not just the generic “they all taste like beer, what more do you want?” conversation we’ve had in some establishments.

Of course we ordered appetizers, because we were happily agreeing to everything … and also, well, because we’re us.

Following the food envy of the potato cups at Wil’s Grill a few weeks ago, I lobbied Shane to order those.

I’m not sure who made potato cups a thing, but I’d like to hug that person

They were good. Not overwhelmingly so, and they didn’t have the “holy crap that’s a lot of melted cheese” wow factor that the ones at Wil’s had … but I would order them again.

Cassi and Jason ordered the fried mozzarella. It was tasty. Cassi said she would rate it higher than her old favorite – although she kindly didn’t mention the restaurant where that dish resided. I’m not sure when we suddenly got so courteous.

Not on Ted’s list of any kind

Ted, in spite of voicing his disappointment that no one decided to order the eggplant stack, opted for calamari.

That’s like the exact opposite of eggplant

He then proceeded to rave about it for the rest of the time it was on the table. Apparently his sorrow over not getting to try the eggplant stack was quickly forgotten. He said he’s not really one for top five lists – a statement that seems like it could factor into a severe punishment from certain members of this group – but if he was then this calamari would be on it. It was breaded well, and the sauce was an excellent compliment to the flavor.

With an endorsement like that, of course we all tried a bit of it when offered. Shane thought it might’ve been a bit of a trick, since it seemed like if Ted was truly a fan then he shouldn’t have been willingly sharing it so much with everyone.

Regardless, we agreed, it was really good.

We also agreed not to use any unnecessary dishes, as the stack of side plates that the server brought prior to the apps sat unused off to the side of the table throughout the course of our preliminary food binge. While this was nothing new to us, the server noticed and asked “so, I take it you don’t need these then?”

Shane: No, we’re savages.

OK then.

Also not new to us, but likely an intro course for our server: Shane’s obligatory firing range of questions related to the best items on the menu. I’m happy to report she survived the assault, listing several dishes that she personally enjoys, from the mac and cheese, to the salmon, the pulled pork sandwich, the salmon salad and the brisket sandwich.

Now if she truly wanted to be a member of our group she would say that she once ordered all of those items in one sitting just so she could compare them all and come up with a final true winner. But, alas, that food challenge never happened.

Something to think about, though.

Shane followed up that interrogation by ordering nothing that she recommended, and instead asking how large the portion size was on the eggplant parmesan. Because we all know how much size matters in these instances.

Get your mind out of the gutter, kids. Especially for when I tell you that her response was that it’s giant, and Shane’s response was that he would take it.

So there’s that.

But at least she wasn’t lying. When the food arrived, I think we all had our own “holy crap, I’m supposed to eat all of that in one sitting” moment as the plates were set in front of us.

This photo doesn’t do justice to the size of the bowl. Although the sheer amount of cheese displayed here should give some indication.

Let’s just say that Shane immediately regretted letting his hunger take the reigns and ordering the extra side of onion rings to accompany his eggplant parm – ironically not because those two things usually are never ordered together as one meal, but because he could barely make it through the actual dinner portion of his meal without being overly full.

His eagerness at the question “would you like a box for those?” was very much diminished from the reaction to the questions at the beginning of our meal.

I’ll take things we didn’t need to order for $1,000, please

Speaking of side orders of things that didn’t get eaten in their entirety, I spent a few minutes dispelling the advances of Ted and his overly aggressive forcing of his wee basket of tater tots into my face. Little did I realize he was just trying to make sure they got their proper photographic documentation, and not trying to force feed them to me.

When tots attack

Me: Put your tots away, Ted, I don’t want any
Ted: If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that

The joys of being the official photographer. More on that later.

In the category of foods Ted didn’t try to shove in my face, Ted also got the smoked chicken sandwich. He said it was good. His rating system on his meal this evening pretty much went as follows: Chips just OK, sandwich and tots good, calamari excellent.

At least he kept that plate on his side of the table

Use that information as you will. In true girl fashion, I give bonus points to the tots for being contained in one of those cute miniature fry baskets – which of course we all tried to convince Ted he should just walk out of the restaurant with instead of asking for a box for his remaining tots.

He did neither. Which makes me think they weren’t as good as he said they were, and he also clearly doesn’t appreciate interesting servingware.

Jason got the baked cod sandwich. He liked it, saying that the fish was very moist. Although part of that verdict may have just been so that he could use that particular word and annoy the hell out of his fiance, who has on more than one occasion announced her dislike of it.

Ah, true love.

It looks less moist from this angle

Cassi and I both ordered the tacos – I got the grilled steak tacos with chips and salsa, while Cassi got the tilapia tacos with sweet potato fries.

Tacos take one

And two

We both said they were really good. And we agreed with the table sentiment that the server was not incorrect in her statement that no one will leave hungry, since each meal came with three large tacos, plus a generous portion of the side. We each took one of our tacos home.

In retrospect, we probably could’ve done without all of the apps at the top of the meal. I’m making that note for our eventual return visit, although I already know we won’t heed it.

Remember when I mentioned that the place closes at 9:00? Yeah, that’s not a typo. The place definitely starts emptying out after the early dinner rush, and by 8:30 we were one of only a couple tables left. I know this for certain because any table not inhabited was bring cleaned and upturned and pretty much sending a solid message that diners arriving at 8:55PM might have technically still arrived prior to closing time, but also were more likely to be served in a less than appreciative manner. Just speculation, of course, but I for one am not willing to test that theory.

Another thing we decided against testing: our ability to read a very large sign on a gate stating “NOT AN EXIT,” and the server’s patience when said sign is blatantly ignored. We watched in amusement as one couple tempted fate in this manner and was scolded openly – and righteously, in my opinion, as I mean … come on … there’s a sign. It’s pretty clear that just because the gate opens doesn’t mean they want any random person using it. The reasoning may not be clear, but the sign is … and that’s what matters.

(Keep in mind these words are coming to you from someone who a mere few paragraphs ago was vying for the pilfering of a miniature fry basket from our table. Priorities.)

But aside from the early closing time and the questionable use of lighting on both the patio and the parking areas, I would give this place a high thumbs up. You wouldn’t know it, though, because these are the only photos we attempted before giving in to the questionable lighting gods and admitting defeat.

Now whose turn is it to find the worst lighting possible?

Clearly adding the flash doesn’t help things. Now we can just better see Ted’s inability to keep his eyes open

Well this obviously isn’t working

No thanks. I’ll just stick to words to tell the story. The service was good, the portions were huge and tasty – and the patio really is a great space to spend a nice summer evening. They even brought us citronella candles for the table after we mentioned our dining experience was quickly creating a feast for various bugs as well (sitting near water + humidity = mosquitoes. It’s just science).

And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even spot this strange creature in the parking lot on your way out.

Look kids, it’s the elusive parking lot gnome

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Steph

Tinkers Creek Road Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

 

WTGW 10/18/17: Jilly’s Music Room, Akron

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We really should’ve had an inkling about what this night would hold when we had to get around two road closures and a near miss accident just to arrive at Jilly’s Music Room. Because all great nights start with cheating death, no?

So once we finally got there imagine our disappointment to find that the place was packed and we weren’t able to even get in the door.

Just kidding. We were actually the only ones there. At 7PM on a Wednesday. We had to ask as we walked in if, in fact, they were actually open, because we were a bit surprised to find not a single soul sitting at the bar or at any of the many tables. I mean, I get that the place is a “music room,” so they host bands, open mic nights, special events, etc – and I get that those things start later in the evening. But they also serve food, so we thought it odd that at dinner time they were completely vacant.

Spoiler alert: there’s a very good reason for that. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

So we were told to sit anywhere. Uh, thanks for that. We’ll do our best not to take all of the choice locations, what with the line following behind us and all.

All this being said, imagine our surprise when it took a hot minute for someone to come around with menus. Let’s see, we’re the only patrons here, you talked to us as we came in, you watched us sit down, you know there are no menus of any kind on the table … but yeah, sure, take your time coming around with menus at a place we’ve clearly never visited. Good plan.

Drinks were rather expensive. At least the specialty mixed drinks were anyway. But then again that turned out to be the theme of the evening. Foreshadowing, I guess.

Ted went with an IPA, Cassi got a tequila and soda, Shane went with a Jameson and ginger, and I chose a cider.

Oh, wait, scratch that, they “forgot to order more,” so no cider for me. Guess that curse falls back in my lap.

So the server brings back the drink menu along with everyone’s round of drinks so that I can pick something else … and then pretty much everyone was ready for round two by the time she came back to check if I’d picked anything else out. I must not look thirsty.

After these past few weeks, I have to believe we’ve been cursed by the spirit of awful servers.

So Jilly’s, I believe, falls under the “fancy” category of our WTGW choices. Not only is it a music place, it also features “all gluten free fare.” That’s a far cry from our usual greasy burgers, cheesy pizzas and deep fried wings. Leave it up to Ted to discover this strange world. How did they allow us inside this place anyway?

Shane and I got the potato chips and breaded mushrooms (yes, gluten free breading) as apps.

Gluten free breading does not photograph well

We almost didn’t get the mushrooms, as it seemed a bit much to order two appetizers – even for us. But let me just tell you how glad we were that we did. Because heed this little tip, even though the server will tell you that the potato chips are enough to serve two … well, she’s lying. Or she means two people who only eat one potato chip a piece. I guess people who eat gluten free also eat smaller portions?

Fancy chips not made for two

Cassi got the fried pickles (which, like last week, still aren’t magically free) and a caprese salad. Both were embarrassingly small. Five seconds after those items arrived at the table she was already planning to order more food.

At least they give you both chips AND spears.

The smallest salad in the universe. For $7.00

The curse of “not having things you want to order” quickly passes on from me to Shane, as he chose the kielbasa for his dinner – but then had to re-pick after the server reappeared and said that unfortunately they couldn’t serve that tonight because “it was still too frozen to cook.” Um, what now? Is this the first night this place is open? Were they not expecting people to eat and drink tonight?

They offered him the steak skewers instead. Which sounds OK, but turned out to be the size of a small appetizer.

Far from Ted’s meat on a stick

He also got the signature wings. And while you know how I like to pick on the boys for always ordering enough food for a small army, this time it was well warranted – and still not enough food to even begin to constitute a real dinner.

I mean, look at these wings.

Dainty little wings

Did these come off of specially bred miniature chickens? Were they meant for a children’s menu? I’m so confused.

Ted got the buffalo chicken slider and the steak slider. OK, so you know how sliders are like cute, mini-burgers? Well, these were like mini-sliders. I swear they were each one bite. Because that’s a meal.

That little thing that looks like a charcoal briquette is actually a slider. Yes, seriously.

It’s also worth mentioning that that plate pictured above is $12. For two (mini) sliders. Anyone going to get a meal at Jilly;s should keep that photo above at the front of their brain. Also, I feel the need to relive the $7 steak special story right here for some reason.

Ted also got the red chili wings. You already know where this is going. He said were good, but he needed like seven orders of them to constitute a meal.

Put some meat on those bones, chickens

I got the street tacos. Which when they arrived looked to be the most food out of anyone at the table – including Cassi, who later ordered a brie flatbread just to actually not starve her way through the evening.

Third order is the charm for Cassi, I guess

But they just weren’t that good. Gluten free tacos should not be a thing, I’ll just say that right now. They tasted burnt. The salsa was tasty, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about the meal.

There are tacos under all that greenery, I swear

So let’s recap: anything decent tasting arrived in a portion size fit for an anorexic model, and the one item that looked to be enough food to be considered a dinner portion was awful. We’re totally winning at this week’s pick, no?

Back to my mixed drink that I was finally able to order … it ended up being way too sweet. It sounded really good on the menu (black cherry juice, sage syrup, vodka), but it was like drinking a glass of straight fruit laden with sugar. I guess maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that by the time it arrived there at the table there was really only time for one round on my end?

Cassi and Shane did say that their mixed drinks were well made. That was pretty much the only good thing we could say for the evening. Well, and that we stopped at Dante’s Game Day Grille on the way home to get real beer (for under $5 a glass) and some French fries (a giant basket for just $4! We felt like we’d just hit the lottery) just to redeem the evening.

Overall the presentation at Jilly’s is really good – the food looked gorgeous when it arrived at the table, but the taste and the portion size just don’t even come close to matching the price. It’s definitely far overpriced for what you get – I mean, come on, $7 for a bite sized slider? – and unfortunately the “atmosphere” isn’t enough to redeem that.

Sorry, Jilly’s – you definitely aren’t music to this group’s ears.

Picked by: Ted

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Ted

Jilly's Music Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right.

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please. It’s like he hardly knows me.

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

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

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

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

*exiting soapbox now*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Ted

Steph

Shane

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