WTGW 3/28/18: Paramount Pub, Akron

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At least we think that’s the name of this place. See if you can follow along in this fantastic lesson in what-not-to-do-in-marketing … the website says the name is The Paramount, but the directions led us to a place with a sign out front that reads The Hyde Out. OK. But the location is actually the old Grille on Waterloo that we went to about four years ago. Also if you look closely at the web page address for The Paramount, thegrilleonwaterloo.com is still the domain.

Confused yet? We sure are.

… at the place where nobody knows your name … or really even what the name of the place is …

Which is why, from here on out, I’m going to give this place a new name: The Identity Crisis Café. As you read on I’m fairly confident that name will be one of the few things that makes a clear amount of practical sense with regards to this place.

Let’s start with the menu – which I should point out says Hyde Out on the front cover, so I’m starting to catch on to the name they seem to think they want to use here. Too bad they’re going to have to change it after this review. Anyway, it starts out with a few pages of sports bar-esque American food (burgers, wings, salads, sandwiches, fried apps) followed by several pages of Asian dishes (sushi, hibachi, bento boxes, fried rice).

Um, what now?

Because those are two types of food I would probably never think to prominently feature together. I have to believe they’ve cornered the market on this specialty.

Cassi: I don’t know what to do – I mean, there are pickle chips and Crab Rangoon offered in the same place? Where are we? Why can I order both?

Also – why is every instance of the word “crab” spelled with a K in this menu?

Spelling 101

So. Many. Questions. And we haven’t even ordered yet.

As we were perusing the menu we started to tune into the background music of the place – which really should just be referred to as “music” because we were practically shouting at one another over it. It was like being in the back of a club during a concert … except there’s no band I can think of that plays a primary music catalog containing lots of 70s rock songs that go on for like 10 minutes of heavy guitar solos, then busts out an occasional Sublime hit from the 90s, followed by “Hey Jude” by the Beatles or John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

It’s like what if my dad, my grandma and 1990s college-aged, flannel-wearing me all took a road trip together and fought over the radio stations. Good times.

Hey, remember Cassi’s comment about the apps? Yeah, so, turns out we didn’t have to decide between pickle chips and crab (sorry, Krab) rangoon, because that’s exactly what we ended up with. Shane opted for bar food, while Cassi ventured into the Asian appetizer menu.

The pickle chips were OK. I mean, let’s face it, we’re ruined now after 3 Brothers. I don’t know why we even order them other places anymore since we already know it won’t live up to that standard.

Sorry, we’ve already judged you

Cassi wasn’t really a fan of the C(K)rab Rangoon, saying that she thought it was too sweet. Shane and I each tried one and thought they were OK  And then relived Shane’s last experience with something he tasted that he thought was going to be sweet.

Ah, Gus’ Chalet, you live on in infamy.

They look pretty

Most of us went with the Asian menu for our dinners – I think just because we were tired of bar food and enjoyed the change-up this week. It certainly wasn’t because we particularly trusted the freshness of any of the ingredients at this place. No raw fish for anyone at this table, thanks. We enjoy keeping our food inside our bodies as it digests. Crazy, I know.

As evidenced when Cassi ordered the Angel Hair Roll, and the server tried to talk her into the Angry Birds Roll instead because he thought it was better. One look at the ingredients – which included something raw, of course – and she was like no way, I’m sticking to my original order.

Plus who orders something named after an iPhone fad game from like six years ago? That just sounds sketch.

That’s some mad skills on the dragon, though

Shane got the General Tsos Chicken Bento Box and a side order of one Philadelphia Roll. Once again proving that even though it’s a different nationality of food, you still need more than one main dish on the table.

Shane’s first round of food

That plate is meant for those of us who don’t like their food to touch

Shane said his drawing made him think of Taco Bell. Because that’s what you want at a sushi bar.

And large dishes at that, as Shane was quite uncomfortable trying to find a place to rest his arm once all of his plates arrived on the table.

He looks so … natural

Because we all like to dangle our fork from windowsills during meals, no?

I really shouldn’t be throwing stones, though, since I ordered an Alaska Roll, a Spicy Tuna Roll and a small house salad. But while that sounds like a lot of food, at least two of those things arrived on the same plate. And I have to think that this actually may be the healthiest WTGW ever in my book. I mean, vegetables that aren’t fried? WTF. Another week like this and I might get kicked out of the group.

I think there’s a salad under all that cheese

That tree would be prettier without the iPhone shadow across it

Not one to play favorites, Ted got a Crazy Roll … and an American hamburger, no cheese. You know, because he could. He said he felt the need to make sure both menus were represented equally.

One of these things is not like the other

I think the whole “identity crisis” theme must’ve rubbed off on Shane a little bit, as evidenced by the fact that he actually … wait for it … willingly offered some of his food to me.

*gasp*

Right?!?

Now granted it was so I could taste his spring roll (that he didn’t realize came with his meal – along with that round one soup and salad) so I could make sure it didn’t have shrimp in it that might kill him, thanks to his allergy. (spoiler alert, it didn’t) But still. I think we’re all still picking ourselves up off the floor a bit from that shocker.

Speaking of shockers, Shane reported that his General Tso’s chicken – that he specifically asked the server if they could make “extra spicy” – was … drumroll, please … really spicy. Like he was struggling really spicy.

Be careful what you wish for at The Identity Crisis Cafe, folks.

Meanwhile, on the American menu side of the table, Ted had a struggle of his own going on, which involved ways to choke down an extremely dry burger. Like dip it in your water to make the patty edible kind of dry burger. Which let me be clear he didn’t actually do, but in hindsight it may have helped things a bit. When we suggested that that’s what the cheese is usually for on burgers, he said that he might be willing to try that if he thought it would help things at all, but he was pretty sure there was no saving this one.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s a bit odd that the burger was so overcooked and not moist, when it was one of the first meals to arrive at our table. Rather than bringing things out all at once, this place seems to subscribe to the Table 6 philosophy of just bringing plates out as they’re ready … except they’re like that friend everyone has who is like four subjects behind in a group conversation and never seems to know how to keep up so they just jump in whenever they think of something. The food was dropped off at odd intervals, with the burger arriving as one of the first actual meals, and the sushi as last. Which seems strange considering that’s supposed to be the most fresh, not cooked portion of our orders, but whatever.

We all pretty much thought the sushi was just OK. I mean, it was edible, but nothing you can’t find anywhere else. Ted liked his a little more than any of us … but, I mean, when you consider the other part of his meal was a sawdust patty on bread, you kind of figure that’s a no brainer.

We also had an enlightening discussion about the orange crunchy topping on some of the sushi, which involved more than one of us checking Google for an answer, and Shane declaring that he always figured it was crushed up Doritos.

Me: Because nothing says Asian food like crushed up Doritos

But with this place, who knows.

Orange toppings make Shane think of snack foods

Another fun discussion involved trying to size up the crowd, and how or why each of them found their way to this bar on a random Wednesday night. A couple wandered in at one point that seemed like they might have been on a date … except she was wearing lounge pants and actual slippers. Because nothing screams “I really just wanted to order in and I’m not happy about this whole going out in public thing” like wearing your pajamas to a restaurant. And then over closer to the bar there was a group of obvious bros all crowded around a table taking shots and watching basketball. Which begs the question … is there no BW3 within a 20 mile radius of this place? Do they all live upstairs and just migrate down for the alcohol? I mean, granted, nothing says let’s go get lit and watch some Final Four action like heading to the sushi bar in a somewhat sketch neighborhood … no?

At least no one could see us watching them, as we picked an unfortunate table next to the windows that seemed OK when we first arrived, but then was cloaked in darkness after the sun slipped behind the horizon. Which, because it’s still winter here in Ohio, happens at like 3PM these days. See also: the color difference in the pictures of our appetizers versus the color of our meals. Sorry, kids. It should also be pointed out that there were canister lights above our heads … that were missing the bulbs. Guess we know now what had to get cut from the budget in order to add that whole Asian side to the menu.

 

Picked by: Ted

Steph

Shane

Dual menu, dual rating. Thumbs up for sushi, thumbs not-so-up for the burger

Cassi

 

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WTGW 12/16/15: Lemongrass Grill Thai Restaurant and Bar, Monroe Falls

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Here goes Ted, trying to make us more ethnic again.

Apparently this place used to be a cupcake place. Ted came in one day trying to buy cupcakes a few months back, and was immediately disappointed because clearly there were no cupcakes anymore. But then he was happy because he realized they had food and a bar and so it could become a WTGW pick. We’re a simple group to please.

Speaking of the bar – it’s kind of the first thing you see when you walk into Lemongrass. It’s where Amanda and Jerrid were waiting for us when we first walked in. And where Ted got handed a beer from the owner (I think? Or maybe just some random guy from the back room? We don’t ask or judge) just for stopping and looking at the beer list on the wall on his way to the table. So score for him, I guess.

And while we’re on the subject – because, well, let’s be honest, how many of these reviews actually don’t start out talking about alcohol, right? – be warned that the drinks at Lemongrass are poured rather generously. And that the server could likely be your bartender, as we experienced. Shane and I both went for the “girly drink” section of the menu, but what we were treated with was something more suited to sailors. The menu is basically like 15 variations on a Long Island, but with prettier names. They should all just be called “a mix of 10 liquors” and you just point to the one that sounds least offensive to your tastes. I mean, the server actually told us that someone passed out in the bathroom after drinking one of the kind of drink that Shane ordered (the Scorpion). I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud of or something that maybe should make you send your bartender off for some additional training.

It looks so innocent

It looks so innocent

Amanda smartly stuck to a rum and coke – or, more appropriately, rum with a bit of coke flavor. Jerrid had something called the Man-Hat-San (bourbon and some sort of cherry drink). Ted stuck to a myriad of beers whose names I can’t even begin to recall, but I know one of them had the work “sucks” in it. That’s a different marketing tactic.

As usual, we filled the table with appetizers – because, well, us. Shane and I got the Thai spring rolls and crab rangoon. Ted got the meat skewers – reminiscent of the time he ordered meat lollipops from The Merchant, but different. Amanda and Jerrid got the Lemongrass Bundle – which is basically the fancy Thai way of saying “sampler platter.” It included meat skewers, shrimp, crab rangoon, and something that they thought (and then later asked the server and it was confirmed) had a peanut butter sauce on it. That’s, well, weird. Even by our tastes.

Peanut butter does not belong on chicken. Just saying.

Peanut butter does not belong on chicken. Just saying.

There were two when this plate arrived. Someone got grabby.

There were two when this plate arrived. Someone got grabby.

Oh wait, there's the other egg roll. In front of Shane. Weird.

Oh wait, there’s the other egg roll. In front of Shane. Weird.

As you can probably already anticipate, the meat skewers were a big hit. The guys all agreed those were very tasty.

There’s a joke in there somewhere. I’ll let you all find it.

Everyone loved the meat. Hee hee

Everyone loved the meat. Hee hee

The crab rangoon was good, but the cheese sauce inside was different from any other time I’ve had that particular food anywhere else. It was almost a sweeter, creamier version. I mean, I’m not kicking these ones to the curb or anything, but they were definitely different.

Jerrid got the Pad See Ew with shrimp. Which judging from the picture on the website is kind of like Moo Goo Gai Pan at a Chinese place. And honestly, isn’t it all really just some combination of rice, meat and veggies? Exactly. Regardless, he didn’t seem to complain. He ate all of it, so if it sucked that’s a new way of dealing with it, I guess.

That plate would kill Shane

That plate would kill Shane

Ted got the monsoon chicken with jasmine rice. Yummy noises and clean plate award on this side of the table, too.

That rice didn't come with the big chunk taken out of the top of it, honest.

That rice didn’t come with the big chunk taken out of the top of it, honest.

I got the Drunken stir fry with chicken and brown rice. Now, we all know the little chili pepper icon next to any dish on the menu means “watch out, it’s spicy.” Well this entree had two, which I took to mean “beware, this is stuff only crazy people eat.” Not really. In fact, I’m glad the waitress brought out the additional plastic cup of “hot oil” that she said we could add to make the dishes spicier.

Drunken = spicy. There's a joke in there somewhere.

Drunken = spicy. There’s a joke in there somewhere.

Although, fair warning – that hot oil stuff should have like 100 chili pepper icons next to it. Because, damn. Let’s just say a little bit goes a long way. And when I say little I mean like microscopic. And it sneaks up on you. Ask Amanda, who drizzled a tiny bit on her meal and claimed it wasn’t bad … until a few minutes later when it finally kicked in and nearly took her breath away. I’m somewhat surprised trying to douse it with the amount of alcohol in our drinks didn’t just set the entire table on fire.

So there’s that.

Amanda got the Pad Thai. She was looking at a few other options but decided to play it safe. And she was not disappointed. We should also note that both she and I took half of our meals home. As with most Asian restaurants, they serve very large portions here. Clearly, they don’t mess around.

No peanut allergies here

No peanut allergies in this group

Shane had the pineapple chicken fried rice, along with the meat skewers. Yes, that was his third appetizer order of the evening.He joked about just ordering his entire meal directly from the appetizer menu – which, honestly, if some of them hadn’t included shrimp he very well may have done.

Vegetables, fruit and protein. That's a well balanced meal.

Vegetables, fruit and protein. That’s a well balanced meal.

So, back to alcohol – because, really, doesn’t it always come back to that with this group? – when I went to order my second drink I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Because, well, I wasn’t sure what the lesser was of all the liver killers I was facing on the drink menu. Sensing my conflict, the server asked if I wanted her to surprise me. Because that’s never dangerous, especially in a place that already seems to just throw an entire bottle of liquor in a glass and call it a drink, right? She asked if I liked cherry, I haltingly said yes …. and I’m happy to report that the drink I got was definitely that. Although what exactly gave it that flavor remains to be determined. I’m not sure if it was stronger than my first drink or not, but when I asked what was in it, she would only say it was “like five different vodkas … and then some other stuff.” Like what, roofies? That’s a dangerous game to play with the customers, lady. I almost felt like her goal was to get everyone smashed before they left. Again, playing with fire, no? Do we like calling cabs and cleaning out restroom stalls for our guests? I’m not sure I understand what the end goal is here.

All in all a good place, and it was definitely nice to change things up a bit by getting away from the burgers and fries places we’ve been visiting lately and branch out to something different. Although I think all of our livers might disagree.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  Don’t be fooled by the paper umbrellas and fruit on skewers. These boat drinks will sink your battleship if you try to drink them too fast. 
Food:
As with most Asian places, beware of huge portions. And misrepresented chili pepper icons. But it was definitely all tasty.
Service: It was a little cumbersome having the server also mix our drinks – and when the meals came out it was one at a time, not a big tray with everyone’s orders. But she was attentive and pleasant. Or maybe she was just in a running bet with the guys in the back as to which of us would fall over first from the strong drinks.
Overall: There’s not really a ton of Thai places in the area, so I don’t have much to compare this one to – but we would likely go back if we were in the mood for that type of food again.

Next Pick: Shane