WTGW 5/30/18: REVISIT – Caston & Main, Portage Lakes

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Thank you to whichever one of us decided we could exercise our option on revisits during our week to pick, as I didn’t have time to research a new place this week. In my defense, we’re coming off of a holiday weekend which included a Jimmy Buffett concert, and I tacked on an additional vacation day after that … so when your week starts on a Wednesday that feels like a Monday then you kind of forget what day of the week it really is. Oops.

You’ve all been there at some point, so let’s stop the judgement.

My laziness was apparently forgiven, as we ended up heading back to a place that we haven’t been in nearly two years, Caston & Main down in Portage Lakes. The two things we remembered most from that previous visit were the incredibly delicious raspberry mules that Shane ordered and that Ted and I eventually gave in and switched to after sampling Shane’s … and the “entertainment” we endured from a guy with a guitar and a sound system with levels meant to drown out anything from dinner conversations to televisions to the possibility of a helicopter landing in the middle of the dining room.

Imagine our surprise to learn that neither of those things exist any longer at Caston & Main. I’ll let you use your imagination to discern our feelings on this discovery.

It actually seems they’ve made several changes in our two year absence. Not really to the place itself – although we speculated that they were putting in a patio (and as of this posting that has been confirmed, so yay us for our intuition) – but inside it’s still the same set up of bar-to-the-left-of-you, dining-room-to-the-right-of-you as you walk in the door, and large tables perfect for groups like us that enjoy ordering an entire menu of food.

Our first discovery as we sat down was the realization that we could actually hear ourselves think, so apparently Wednesdays are no longer entertainment nights. God bless them for that decision. I have to believe we weren’t the only ones to file some sort of opinion on our attempts to hold a conversation amidst the decibel levels of a monster truck night rally.

Coming in a close second on the discovery list was when we found the novel-sized drink menu had been parred down to a more manageable short-story-ish selection. Which usually we wouldn’t applaud, but when taking the time to peruse it impedes on our ability to get alcohol served in a timely manner we tend to get a little bit bitter.

Maybe not as bitter as when we realized the beloved and much applauded raspberry mule didn’t make the cut, but whatever. They seem to now focus on more local craft beers, and just a few specialty cocktails. Cassi and I decided to try out the margarita mule that was on special, which ended up just being OK. By the end of the evening we both switched to a bottled pear cider that was far more delicious, not to mention less expensive.

Speaking of, Shane learned the hard way the age old lesson of “if there are no prices listed, it’s probably because you don’t want to know,” as the bill at the end of the evening revealed that the craft beers he had been enjoying turned out to be $9 each. That’s an unpleasant surprise. Especially when both of our meals were less than his $27 worth of cocktails.

Ouch.

While the drink menu has gotten smaller, the food menu seems to have expanded since our last visit. This made us happy, because, well, we like food – and more of it is never a bad thing with this group. In fact, we actually tried to convince our server that she should work on commission when it comes to serving our group, since we’re not only going to already order a stupid amount of food but we’re also pretty easy to sell when it comes to adding on more.

On thing that hasn’t changed in our absence is that Wednesdays are still 3 for $6 slider nights. Ted and Shane had tried them on our last visit and found them tasty, so they decided on getting them again this time around.

Shane also got the steak tacos, which inspired this exchange:

Shane: How many tacos come in the order?
Server: Three
Shane: Ok, good. I’ll take that. Three.
Me: Um, do you want one order of three, or three full orders?

I think the server thought I was crazy for clarifying this, but as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, that one really could’ve gone either way.

Thankfully, it was only the one order of three tacos. And one order of the slider special.

The use of multiplication tables was involved in this order

Tiny sandwiches

I got the roast beef philly, with the chips and French onion dip as a side.

Points for presentation

And we got nachos for an app.

There seems to be way more nachos than toppings here, no?

So that covers one side of the table. I think by this point the server might’ve realized we were on to something with that whole commission thing.

Ted waited for me to tell him which sliders he had ordered last time, then went with the chicken salad, Rueben and BLT sliders. Times two, because you know one meal isn’t enough in this group. He also got chips and dip for an app.

You’re not seeing double

Anyone else think that’s a lot of dip for that amount of chips?

Cassi and Jason got pretzel bites as app.

Carb overload

After getting the server’s opinion on which was better, the crab BLT or the chorizo tacos, Cassi took her suggestion and ordered the crab BLT.

Hopefully its a good idea to trust the server

Jason ordered the invisible patty melt. Well, OK, that’s not really what it’s called, but that’s the name we gave to it when all of our food orders came out of the kitchen and his never appeared.

At least the server came over and admitted it was her fault, she “never does this” but somehow she had forgotten to put it in as part of the order, but that she let the kitchen know what had happened and it would only take a minute to come out.

Jason thought it was karma for making fun of the pimento cheese app as we were first reading the menu … and then ordering a burger featuring the same cheese on it. Touche. Meanwhile we all proceeded to make yummy noises while he was forced to just sit and watch us eat. Because we’re twelve.

Shane’s steak tacos were admittedly the best looking item on the table. I had been eyeing them up on the menu and almost ordered them, but made a last minute switch to the roast beef. I definitely was #foodjealous. Not to say that I didn’t like my sandwich –  it actually was really good, the peppers and cheese were a nice addition – but I wish it had been a tad hotter by the time it arrived at the table. Although considering Jason’s situation I guess I should just be glad it arrived at all. So there’s that.

Speaking of, it seems the long awaited patty melt didn’t turn out to particularly worth the extra anticipation, but Jason ate it anyway. I mean, by that point he was just extra hungry and probably would’ve eaten a grilled shoe if it was set in front of him.

We waited all that time for this?

He did end up getting a discount on the meal because of its tardiness to the table – not a full “I’m sorry this was my fault so it’s on the house” discount, but at least it was something.

I think Shane was hoping for a “we never printed the prices and therefore there was no way to tell that each of your drinks would be the same cost as a full meal” discount on our bill, but that never materialized either.

Overall, outside of sandwiches that don’t arrive on time and therefore might have been assembled with a little less love, the food is decent. Ted still gave a thumbs up to the sliders (rating them in order: BLT, chicken salad and Reuben), Cassi and I enjoyed our sandwiches, and Shane’s steak tacos were worthy of every bit of the food envy we all had. The apps were good – although they seemed to have a Goldilocks and the Three Bears thing going on with the accompanying dips (the pretzels had too many bites and not enough dip, the chips had too few chips and an overload of dip, the nachos had an abundance of tortilla chips with too few toppings). Our server was on our good side until she forgot about Jason. I mean, points for owning up to the mistake, albeit begrudgingly (does “I’m not sure how this happened, but I guess it was my fault” really count as an apology?) – but after that point she also seemed to avoid our table a bit more, as if the very sight of us brought up memories of a failed relationship. If only she’d avoided us long enough for Shane to save another $9 on that last drink …

Picked by: Steph
Originally picked by: Ted

Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted, who could care less what anyone else thought of the place, he liked it

Shane, before the bill arrived

Shane, after seeing that empty glass cost him $9

 

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WTGW 5/23/18: Fatheads Brewery, Canton

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Hey look, we’re in a strip plaza in Canton again! Surprise!

We’re probably some of the few people in the Cleveland area who haven’t been to Fatheads’ original location, out in North Olmstead. I know I’ve enjoyed their bumbleberry beer on more than one occasion, but never at an actual facility. That location is probably within our radius for WTGW choices, but being that they recently opened a secondary location in our more familiar territory of Canton, Ted thought this one was worth a pick.

There, I’ve opened the can of worms for someone else to “pull a Ted” and pick another location of an already chosen mini-chain. Let the bets begin on how soon that happens.

Anyway.

The Canton location is pretty big once you get inside – especially considering it’s at the end of an aforementioned strip plaza. Typically I don’t expect much from a space that could’ve instead been built out to house a DSW or Bath & Body Works if this lease somehow fell through. There’s also a large, open patio in the front, and giant doors that open up the entire front of the restaurant to that area. Way to capitalize on the approximately 2.5 weeks worth of patio-worthy weather we actually receive here in NEO. Score.

Fatheads Brewery is, indeed, a brewery (imagine that), so of course they primarily serve their craft beers in house. Which translated to us needing a hot minute to read the full menu of deceptive descriptions before we could order anything. Also, thinking that five people could read the one beer menu provided by the hostess in the 5.2 seconds before the server reached the table was a lofty expectation at best. Unless you’re printing those things on gold leaves, maybe it’s time to shake up the budget and print a few more to allow for a greater table-to-menu dispersion. Just sayin.

We were all a little thrown when Shane was the one to order the darkest beer at the table. What now? Usually the “can’t see through my beer because it’s the color of the darkest night” award goes to Ted. This is new.

I wish I could remember the names of the beers we ordered, but unfortunately, well, I’m blonde and I didn’t write them down, so that information is lost by this point. Sorry. If it helps, they do rotate taps with some new selections and seasonal flavors, so chances are whatever we ordered isn’t available by the time you’re reading this anyway. So really I’m just saving you the trouble of getting all excited about ordering something they may not have by the time you visit. Yeah. That.

I will say that we enjoyed most of the beers we tried throughout the evening. Jason in particular, as we were all a little shocked when he finished his first beer before we even ordered our meals.

Shane: I know this is a big menu and all, but, seriously, just how long have I been looking at it?

It was another fried appetizer feast for our crew this week. Shane and I ordered the breaded mushrooms, while Ted, Cassi and Jason tempted the 3 Brothers gods and tried the fried pickles.

Newsflash: they weren’t as good. But they were close. They weren’t the thinly cut ones like our favorites, but they were crispy and came with a tasty sauce that definitely had a kick to it. Cassi declared that she could eat a whole plate of the pickles and be happy.

We are destined to order these everywhere now

Meanwhile it took Shane and I a bit to get through our basket of 4,000 breaded mushrooms. Some places we’ve ordered those for an app an it comes out as a handful of button mushrooms caked in batter to make them appear large enough to fill a basket. But here it was like the never-ending fugus bowl. The only thing I wasn’t a particular fan of was the horseradish sauce that came with them – but I think I was in the minority on that sentiment.

We won’t talk about the number of mushrooms that had to die for this order alone

For meals, both Jason and I kept the mushroom theme going by ordering the mushroom Swiss burger. To quote Ted, it must’ve been a “fungi-kind-of-night.”

That sounds bad.

Conversely, the burger was pretty good. Jason said that his was cooked perfectly. He wouldn’t exactly put it on his Top 5 burger list, although if he wanted to adopt Shane’s newly minted Top 7 rating system then maybe it would make the cut.

Actual table conversations, folks. I can’t make this stuff up.

I also thought the burger itself was good, but the giant bun kind of ruined things for me. It was too much unflavored bread, and I abandoned it about halfway through in favor of just eating the inner portion. When you love bread as much as I do, that kills me just a little bit inside – but life is too short to waste on bread that’s not ciabatta.

Once again I apologize to the mushroom gods

Shane also gave up on the bread for his Triple Bypass Burger, because he said it was cutting up his mouth with each bite. That seems like it should be the least of your worries with a sandwich by that name, but whatevs. Instead he ate his burger with a knife and fork, like a sophisticated person.

Stop laughing.

I appreciate the vegetables on the side for the attempt at healthfulness

On the non-burger side of the table, Cassi ordered a side salad and the Green Monster pizza, which she was not a fan of. She said that the chicken on it was dry, and that the pesto didn’t taste as good as she had hoped it would. But at least the bottom wasn’t mushy, so there’s a plus.

See also: the exact opposite of what Shane ordered

Looks better than it tastes. Move along.

Ted won the “I could feed the entire table with my order if we were normal people and ate normal sized portions” award with his pastrami sandwich. Or “headwich,” as it’s called on the menu, as they say that it’s “roughly the size of your head.” Yeah, they aren’t kidding about that. Eating it was definitely a two-handed affair. And watching him eat it was similar to watching him devour the grease-filled burger at The Game a few years back.

Side note: remember Healthy Shane? Those were dark days, my friends.

In any case, Ted finished the entire sandwich … because it tasted really, really good … and of course immediately regretted it, claiming that the last few bites were “under protest.” And he no longer wanted dessert. I think even the server coming over to ask us if we were interested in it made him a tad nauseous.

It’s oozing out of the bun

If you’re noticing in the photos that all of us have fries with our burgers and Ted is the odd man out with chips next to his pastrami sandwich – first of all, kudos for being super observant – but also I feel the need to mention that that wasn’t something we had any control over. Fathead’s is a little bit bossy about their side dish selection. To quote the menu: “House-made chips accompany all Headwiches and sandwiches, fresh-cut fries come with all burgers. It’s just a hassle for our kitchen to switch them around. We don’t want to be dictators but no substitutions. Thanks.”

Um, maybe its just me, but that seems a little harsh. Like what if I’m adverse to potatoes? I mean, that’s tragic all in itself, but far be it from someone to force them onto my plate, right? What if Shane had wanted to be “partially healthy Shane” and order a salad to go with his “hit you in the arteries” burger? It’s like the equivalent of Seinfeld’s soup-Nazi working in the back kitchen on the potato slicer. “No chips for you!”

They also could use a little more focus on the sports bar aspect of most breweries, and less on the “let’s put plants in strange places just to give it a little bit of decoration.” This assessment was made as we all attempted to watch the Cavs game through some foliage that was strategically blocking the bar televisions from our booth sightlines. I mean, if you’re going to serve beer in a midwestern city, isn’t prime access to sports-based TV watching a given? Again, just thinking out loud here.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Cassi

Jason

Shane

Steph

WTGW 4/25/18: Niko’s, North Royalton

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Alternate title: that time we took a 45 minute road trip to basically sit in a place the size of my living room with wall decor reminiscent of an Applebee’s on steroids, where we waited another 45 minutes before consuming gyros the size of our heads.

So for those of you too busy to read the rest of this post, you pretty much get the gist of what happened this week. You’re welcome. Carry on.

North Royalton is a new branch on our city tree, although its really no further away than some places we’ve visited in the past. So of course Shane immediately declared everything in the immediate vicinity “his” for picking.

(Hint: it wasn’t much. Unless we want to go tanning or order some take out Chinese food, neither of which fit the WTGW protocol)

Shane was reluctant to give any of us the name of the place in advance, lest we tease him about going all ethnic like we did with Ted a few weeks ago.

Me, after finally learning the name and looking it up online: so a few weeks ago we gave Ted crap for picking “sushi and bar,’ but this week we’re supposed to be OK with “Greek and bar”?

Sounds reasonable.

Niko’s would be a great place to hang out if it was like four times the size with about half the regulars taking up all of the tables. Granted there was a Cavs game on tonight, so that meant people hung around drinking a little longer than they (maybe?) usually would … and the large patio (from which you could see the TV screens) was underused thanks to the 50-ish degree air temp outside … but still. Even our vulcan stare-down moves on those with to-go boxes sitting in front of them weren’t causing people to budge from their seats. Tough crowd.

But the host told us when we put our party of five on the wait list that it “shouldn’t be long.” Uh, in dog years, maybe. Five minutes turned into 10 … we ordered drinks from the bar to pacify ourselves … 10 minutes turned to 20 … Shane took to loudly claiming he was about to eat his arm off while staring creepily at those who were finished with their meals … 20 minutes turned to 30 … I resorted to Google Maps to research any place at all that might serve something that resembled food within a five-mile radius …

Well at least they made it easy to spot while we waited

And they had this

It was during this waiting period that I realized we could probably implement some sort of a friendly challenge between this place and Gasoline Alley just to see which one is a) overall smaller, b) has more random crap per square inch of wall space, and c) has the least available and most awkward waiting area for those unlucky enough to have a table.

Anyone?

At about 40 minutes we resigned ourselves to leaving and heading to the nearby Brew Garden just to salvage some portion of the evening before we passed out from low blood sugar. But just as we were assembling ourselves to head out, we were called to sit.

Hallalujah!

And from there the evening got a lot better. Let’s just say that if future me could go back and give a bit of advice to impatiently waiting me, it would be that it was totally worth it and you would’ve been sorry that you left.

Also, how do I get a future me? Because having that kind of angel on my shoulder sounds a tad awesome.

Anyway.

This place definitely deserved to be Shane’s pick once we heard from the server that the portions were huge. FYI, that tip came after Shane unabashedly asked her what he should order to get the most bang for his buck when he’s super hungry and wants a lot of food.

We ask the tough questions here at WTGW. Again, you’re welcome.

The server also greeted our admission of being newbies to Niko’s with “Oooh! New People!” Which had us slightly nervous about what kind of initiation process we might be facing as the evening wore on.

She did, however, tell the guys about the pineapple IPAs that were on special for $3.00 that evening – a little secret the bartender apparently didn’t share when the guys went to the bar during our waiting period and ordered drinks. Cassi and I stuck with our ciders.

For apps both Jason and Cassi and Shane and I got the fried cheese. Which is basically like saying a giant “screw you, get your own appetizer” to Ted. Oops.

But he had his sights set on the Thai chili wings as his app, so I don’t think he was super disappointed. His excitement only grew when, after they arrived, he discovered that they were served with carrots … but not like carrot sticks – like giant silver dollars.

The carrots are nearly as big as the wings

Go carrot fork yourself? That doesn’t make sense

This is something new. And apparently exciting, as you can tell from his face in that photo.

The fried cheese arrived looking somewhat like a slice of pizza. Which we were warned was about as hot as the surface of the sun on the inside, so leave it the hell alone for a few minutes before trying to dig in. Well, OK, so maybe those exact words weren’t used, but we inferred based on past experience with really warm edible things.

Cheese and bread. See also: the only food groups necessary for survival.

And the wait was worth it. It was delicious. Not to mention the extra fun of causing Ted personal trauma as he had to watch us pull the melted cheese through the air to break it.

What are friends for, right?

We also learned that there’s a thin line between waiting for the cheese to cool and letting it sit long enough that it resembles a pale yellow brick on the plate in front of you.

Shane, in reference to the cheese sitting for too long: It’s starting to get hard.
Me: Then eat it.

So many comments followed that little interlude that I don’t feel are appropriate for printing. Use your imagination, kids.

Anyway.

Perhaps in fear of our initiation process that may or may not have been on tap with the server, we gave her a little one of our own in the period between when we ordered and when the food arrived. Thanks to a strange arrangement that left the couples sitting diagonal to one another (don’t ask, it was like a game of duck, duck, goose when we finally made it to at the table and we all rushed for seats – I blame the hunger), once the appetizers arrived we thought it might be a little strange for us to have to reach over one another to share fried cheese, so Jason and Shane switched places to be sitting across from Cassi and me, respectively. Our server did a quick double take, then adjusted the orders accordingly so they still ended up in front of the appropriate person.

She passed. Not that I know what would’ve happened if she hadn’t, but let’s just be thankful we didn’t have to resort to that.

Of course we all ordered gyros, because, well, let’s be honest, the large table of obviously Greek men who regularly frequent Niko’s seated next to us were slightly intimidating and we didn’t want to insult them … and also, the variety on the menu was intriguing. But maybe slightly more the first reason. At least in my case.

Ted got the salmon gyro, which he said was good. And after eating all of that plus the nine wings that came in his appetizer, he admitted he was “kind of full.” So there’s that.

It’s like a fish taco, but better. And Greeker.

Cassi and Jason each got the chicken club gyro. They both agreed that it could’ve used more chicken and less of the other filler toppings, but overall still pretty good. They would probably try something else if we were to return, though.

Chicken bacon, minus too much chicken

Times two

I got the stuffed cheeseburger gyro. Stuffed is a good word to use, not only because the filling was an entire burger patty with cheese stuffed inside of it, but also because that’s definitely how I felt after eating it. Seriously, so much food.

Oh look, more cheese

Undeterred by all the fancy options, Shane got the traditional gyro. It kind of fell apart on him as he was eating it, so it became just another in a long list of foods he has been known to eat with a knife and fork. He commented that there were way too many onions on the sandwich, and that he probably won’t be able to stop tasting them for days.

I’m a lucky girl, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks, Niko’s.

You can’t see the onions, but trust us, we all know they’re there

Remember earlier how I compared this place to Gasoline Alley? I give you the following conversation as more proof:

Jason: Where are the restrooms?
Ted (who had already scoped this situation out during our wait time): In the kitchen.

Sadly, he wasn’t joking. You have to go through a portion of the kitchen to access the men’s restroom. Always appetizing, no? And it’s just a one stall room, so that makes waiting a tad awkward. Like, hey, you need some help assembling those sandwiches while I stand here looking creepily over your shoulder? No? Weird. The women’s restrooms are at least on the other side of the room, but still across from the sand alone freezer. Here, let me toss you some frozen fries while I bide my time waiting. Just trying to be helpful.

Aside from that strangeness, Niko’s is a decent place. We never endured an initiation (that we know of … if something was slipped into that fried cheese before it arrived at our table I’m at least still alive to speak about it), but our server was always good at checking on us, and we never went long with empty glasses. Well, until Jason ordered a water, anyway, but I guess that was a bit out of character for our table by that point. Once we decided it was time to cash out and give up our table the server seemed to turn invisible (seriously, do they teach that in server training or something?) but aside from that I give any server willing to put up with us with a good sense of humor a bit of extra credit. 

The crowd is an interesting mix of older regulars – like the table of men next to us, who clearly frequent the place – and younger couples/groups – like the table on the other side of us, who I think were taking up space just to drink a beer and visit with one of their friends who was working as a server. See also: people we stared at prior to being seated, and who endured similar stares from the undying crowd in the waiting area still waiting for tables well past 9PM. I would definitely recommend arriving before you’re actually hungry, since waiting seems to be a regular occurrence.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Niko's Bar & Gyros Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/27/17: Dewey’s Pizza, Fairlawn

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‘Twas the week between Christmas and New Years, and once again it’s Ted’s pick. And once again he takes us to a busy place near the mall in Fairlawn. Anyone remember last year when we tried visiting two different new places, only to find them both full of holiday celebrations .. and finally ending up at the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet down the road?

Yeah, you may not, because I didn’t write a post for that evening. Mainly because I couldn’t keep up with the guys filling their plates in their seemingly never-ending quest to be full of sushi.

So instead this year we get to witness their never-ending quest to be full of pizza. The only thing Shane may like more than sushi in this entire huge world of food.

Spoiler alert: at one point in our evening at Dewey’s our group of five adults had four pizzas and a calzone on the table in front of us. No, we don’t overindulge when we eat. No way.

And before anyone points it out, yes, we get the irony of Ted being the one to pick a place that specializes in things covered in or filled with cheese. He did this to us last year with Melt, too. I think it’s his way of keeping us on our toes. Or maybe we really are running out of places to pick after 3+ years of doing this.

Anyway.

The wait at Dewey’s actually wasn’t too long when we arrived, and I think the fact that we had to wait at all had more to do with us being a large group of five in a place that’s pretty small for a local chain restaurant. It’s set up pretty similar to the ones in the Cleveland area, but this one is kind of like dollhouse sized compared to their regular adult sizes.

I’m not sure why they have a bar at the back of this one, either. Seems like wasted space where they could’ve – I don’t know – put more tables. Or something. Just a thought. I mean, you only serve like six craft beers and some select wines, do you really need a horseshoe of barstools around the cooler? Are people seriously just saying “Hey, let’s pop into Dewey’s and get one of these six beers that I’ve really been craving today?” Or are there people out there who can’t enjoy alcohol and food unless they actually sit at a bar to partake in it?

So. Many. Questions.

On the topic of poor design … so originally our group ended up being crammed into a booth, I believe maybe just for the sake of seating us and getting our orders in since pizza can take a hot minute to prepare. Or maybe we looked like the type that would cause trouble in the waiting area if left alone for too long. Who knows. But I think as soon as the server heard our order of enough food to feed an entire youth football team, she knew this seating arrangement wasn’t going to be a good fit. Or rather a fit at all. Simple math tells you that four pizzas that are each 11 inches or larger do not fit on a booth table. Hell, we barely even fit in the booth ourselves – as it was Ted was moored to the end of the table by a single chair. We joked that he might have to set up his dinner on the stack of high chairs off to his right. Because that seems appealing.

It was also about a billion degrees in that corner. Or maybe it was just the body heat of all of us crammed in there. I mean, I appreciate a tropical island temperature as much as the next person, but not when I’m dressed for the -10 wind chill that is NE Ohio in late December.

In any case, we enjoyed our first round of beers on this, our own little tropical oasis, as well as mine and Cassi’s peppercorn ranch side salads that we ordered as appetizers. Or, rather, one large salad that we ended up splitting after the server suggested it would be cheaper for us to just to that than get our own individuals. Good call. I appreciate frugality. Especially when we’re on this tropical vacation and all.

I promise this is the last photo of anything healthy you’ll see on this post

Hey, a bigger table opened up! So what if maybe the server had to obviously stare down another large group, or inconspicuously whisper to them that they would offer up a handful of gift certificates to make them leave and make room or us, since the laws of physics weren’t going to allow us to eat in our current situation without one of us placing their meal on the floor. I can only say that I’m somewhat surprised we didn’t topple our current table as we all jumped to our feet at once as soon as another server arrived at our table and announced that we could move if we wished.

Let’s just say that was a true blessing, because this new, larger table still came close to almost causing one of us to eat out of our laps. I mean, we could probably create one of those math word problems just to figure out the exact size of our table (“If five people order four pizzas and they cover the entire width of the table, how large must the table and the pizzas be if the sizes can only be 11, 13 and 17 inches?”) But I don’t like math, so we won’t go there.

A nice feature of Dewey’s is that they have an entire menu of specialty pizzas, and you can split any pizza in half, no matter the size, so that you can try a few different specialty pizzas at once. Or plausabily split one pizza with a larger group who may disagree on what they want to order. But we wouldn’t know anything about that theory. Obviously.

So with all those options, it makes total sense that Ted got a full Don Corleone pizza. Just one kind for all 13 inches. No splitsville for him. At least he’s definitive.

Ted and his meat pie. Wait, that sounds bad

Jason got the half southwest BBQ and half Bronx Bomber. His was a 13 inch as well.

I guess I lied before. Here’s a few more vegetables.

Not wanting to play favorites on who would be his “food soul mate” for this trip, Shane chose half of his as the Don Corleone, and half Bronx Bomber. So if you’re following along, that’s half of half of Jason’s and half of Ted’s.

Wait, I think we’ve seen these already

Remember that whole thing I mentioned about being able to split pizzas when people at the same table want the same order?

This also explains why all of our pizzas look somewhat similar. Trust me, I’m trying to keep up, too.

Well, OK, so you can tell which one is Shane’s pizza because someone (read: me) convinced him to get the 17 inch. You know, the largest one. For himself.

This is what good wives do, people. Take notes.

Cassi got the 11 inch half porky fig and half caprice. Hers is the baby pizza on the table.

Look at all that cheese. It’s probably good this was on the complete opposite side of the table from Ted.

Meanwhile I got a calzone with pepperoni, mushrooms and banana peppers. Partially because even though – as I’ve already stated – I don’t do math, my numbers-hating brain could deduce that another pizza was not fitting on this table.

Still dough and cheese – just in a more compact form

We all agreed everything was good. Perhaps the best praise of the night was when Ted said it was “one of the better pizzas he’s ever had.” And that’s even with cheese, people. *gasp* Of course he had to refute the cheese comment by saying that there was so much meat on the pie and it pretty much overpowered anything else … so there’s that. Loopholes.

Although he later changed his story, and claimed this was actually “in his Top 5 pizzas.” Not that he really knows what other ones would be on that list, though, since we all know this isn’t exactly his favorite meal. Maybe he just felt like Shane shouldn’t be the only one holding court in the list market.

You can also judge our fondness for a place by how much we leave on our plates at the end of the night. In this case, all but one of us were all winners of clean plate awards for the evening. Jason was the first to finish his whole pizza. Cassi was going to save one slice of hers, but once Jason finished his off and there wasn’t going to be a take home box she just decieded to eat her last one and save the need. Ted also accepted the challenge and ate his whole pizza. But the last two slices were tough, and probably should’ve gone home with him.

Shane was the odd man out, taking four pieces of his pizza home for later. That couldn’t at all be because someone convinced him to get the larger size or anything. Nope.

It was about the time that they were clearing away our plates that I looked over and noticed another group of five at a table not far from us being delivered one 17 inch pizza for them all to share. Um, really? ONE pizza? They’re clearly amateurs.

I think the place has potential – but unlike the other Dewey’s up in Cleveland, this one seems pared down a little and definitely caters to the “we’re shopping at the mall and want pizza but not from the food court because I want to have a beer with it” crowd. The ambiance isn’t so great, either. Our tropical corner booth aside, it just seems a bit sterile and uninviting. There’s no memorable background music or sporting events on large TVs – and with a large open space that kind of makes it seem cavernous when it’s just snippets of conversations rising up to fill the air. It definitely has an air of “eat and get out,” not “hang out and have another beer” to it – which, again, is why the bar is a bit baffling. But the pizzas are good, and I would definitely think of them as an option for take out after a shopping trip or on the way home from work. Just don’t make me do the math to figure out how many will fit into my car comfortably.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Shane

Steph

 

 

WTGW 11/1/17: The Brew Kettle, Hudson

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

Mmm, a whole loaf of bread just for us

Beer cheese overflowing

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

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

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

This place clearly believes that foods should not touch one another

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

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

Fried goodness

How can pasta and cheese ever not be good together?

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

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

Now that’s a sandwich

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

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

Triple pig + sides, stacked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are all of Shane’s beers that dark?

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

Picked by: Shane

Steph

Cassi

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

Jason

Ted

Shane

WTGW 7/19/17: ATTEMPT – Woody’s / REVISIT – The Lockview, Akron

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Alternate title: The Night We Struck Out At Pretty Much Everything.

Sounds fun, right?

Ironically the evening started out pretty promising. Ted’s choice for this week was a new place that had just opened up in downtown Akron called Woody’s Bar. He said it was so new, there were only like five reviews available for it online … but all of them were positive, so that has to be good, right?

Now … he also admitted that there was a possibility that the stellar reviews came from the owner’s friends, relatives and fellow workers … but whatever, if the owner hasn’t poisoned those people yet then it seems like a good chance we would at least walk away unscathed.

So we pull up in front of Woody’s, just as the two parking spaces on the street immediately in front of the place open up. Jack. Pot. It was like watching the heavens opening to reveal a glorious rainbow. Well, at least to a girl like me, anyway, who sports heels for 97% of our Wednesday adventures and was having visions of walking five miles from a parking deck to access this place.

Ladies, you know the feeling.

In any case, we thought we had won the WTGW lottery. I mean, how can this NOT be a good night?

Ha.

So we walk in – and the place looks great. It’s definitely small, but there are plenty of TVs, what appeared to be a door to a patio at the far back of the space, and lots of beer on tap/in the coolers. Although, at this point I will say that my one complaint would be that they didn’t offer much in bottles or drafts outside of beer. Full bar, yes, and plenty of local craft beers … but when I asked about ciders they only had what I refer to as the “Bud Light of Ciders” (not to be confused with the Champagne of Beers, mind you), Angry Orchard. Booo. I swear bars only stock that so that they can point to it when asked if they have anything other than beer. Is it so much to ask for a Mackenzie’s or a Crispin every now and then?

Sorry, rant over.

Anyway, Ted orders his beer, and while Shane and I are figuring out what we want to drink (refer to the soapbox above), Ted asks for menus.

This, folks, is where the night took a sharp turn. One minute you think you’ve lucked out by getting a parking spot on the street right in front of the establishment and seats at the uncrowded bar … and then ten minutes the bartender utters the sentence that changes the course of the night …

“Our kitchen doesn’t open until 9:00.”

Wait, what now? That seems an odd time to begin serving food, no? I mean, I’m all about places that keep their kitchens open late – especially in a college town – but just beginning dinner service at 9PM seems a bit peculiar.

Well, by stroke of (our incredibly bad) luck, it seems that the one night we picked to visit was the same night that one of the cooks chose to call off. Lucky us! It’s like finding out you won the lottery and are handed a fistful of Monopoly money instead of real cash.

Also, can we just talk for a minute about the staffing at this place? I mean, you’re new, I get that … but if your lunch cook is there at the time that your 4PM cook calls off, and you have another one scheduled to come in at 9PM … can you not work it out somehow so that lunch guy stays over and 9PM comes in early, and then you don’t miss out on the dinner crowd? I mean, that seems to me to be about the most important time to have someone in the kitchen serving up the burgers and chips that Ted said he saw rave reviews about.

Especially since there are huge signs and banners outside the restaurant saying “NOW SERVING FOOD.” Maybe we should’ve helped him out and put a “T” over the “W” on those, just for this evening.

Anyway, since it was only 7PM and of course we were too hungry to wait two hours to even think about eating, Ted gulped his beer and off we went. We’ll call this Strike #1 of the evening. I won’t ruin the surprise with the number we ended up at by the time we headed home.

And thus how we ended up at Plan B for tonight:  The Lockview, a place we visited back once again in the age before this blog – I believe the week after we’d initially visited Whitey’s. 2013 was a pretty happening summer, y’all. 

I mean, come on. We’re wearing paper umbrellas in our hair. That came from our sandwiches, not our drinks. #cuttingedge

Here’s what we took away from that visit back in 2013: The Lockview was really dark inside, we heard rumor that there was a great rooftop patio but when we visited it was too cold to go up (thus proving that Mother Nature and I have been locked in battle for quite some time now) … but by far the most reminisced memory was this:

WTF

That’s right, when we ordered the chips and dip from the menu, they literally set down in front of us a basket of chips poured from a bag and a plastic tub of Lawson’s chip dip. It’s like being at Grandma’s house and she serves up a snack for you and your friends after school. The joke became what poor soul had to make the trip down to the convenience store to pick up tubs of dip because they forgot to make more.

And we always said we would go back, if nothing else just to see if that was truly the case, or if serving dip straight from the container was just their “thing.”

And the verdict is …

Do they have stock in this brand or what?

Yep, it must be a thing, because four years later this is still the way it arrives at your table. Although we did notice that the menu now specifically says you get a “tub of real Lawson’s chip dip,” so I have to believe we weren’t the only patrons to think it was a little odd.

Also, the server told us she was leaving the lid so we could “take home whatever dip was left over.” Please. Clearly you’ve never met us. As if.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

We still didn’t get to check out the aforementioned and critically acclaimed “fantastic patio” on this visit, since once again Mother Nature has confused Ohio with the tropics and delivered us 90 degree heat with 1000% humidity on a Wednesday. Awesome, thanks.

But being inside kind of felt like outside at least, since this time around they actually seemed to find the light switch to the dining room. Cheers to that. That was the first thing we noticed that was different about the place since 2013.

The second thing was that The Lockview seemed to have transformed into a hipster joint in the past four years since our initial visit, complete with crazy loud jazzy music and an entire novel of craft beer on the menu.

Fantastic. (Be sure you read that in your sarcastic voice.)

The server irritated us right from the start, when we said we needed A minute to look at the novel of a drink menu after we sat down … and he gave us about 20. We’re confused, not illiterate, thanks. He even made a show of fluffing tablecloths at the table behind us instead of coming over to take our orders, when ample time had passed for us to have made our decisions. OK, showoff. I get that you’re super important and we disrupted your flow of order taking. Calm it.

Finally he graced us with his presence, and Ted ordered something he had gone up and tasted at the bar (yes, Ted had time to go do his own personal beer tasting at the bar – that should help put a time stamp on the moments that elapsed between his first greeting of us and when he returned from his tablecloth straightening adventures). I tried to order a raspberry wheat that was on the “draught” board … and was told they were all out of that, but the replacement was some strawberry shortcake something or other. Fine, whatever. I’m just thirsty at this point.

Although that’s technically strike #2 for the evening.

Shane ordered the grapefruit shandy, and the server walked away … only to return a few minutes later to say they were out of that, too. And thus followed strikes #3 through about #27 as Shane attempted to order a drink.

Remember how I said last week that Ted was the new curse holder for the “sorry we’re out of that” line? Yeah, it somehow must’ve transferred to Shane in the past week. With a vengeance.

I took a tiny bit of solice in the fact that I think a part of our hipster server’s soul died a little when Shane tried to just be simple and pick a Bud Light – which of course they don’t serve there (the server noted to us rather haughtily). Right. Silly commoners. Fine. Shane finally settled with a Brooklyn Summer Ale, although he didn’t really know what it was he was ordering and may have been just closing his eyes and pointing to a name on the menu at that point. Let’s just say it wasn’t his favorite.

Moving on to food (which we ordered at the same time as the drinks, because we knew by now that it could be another three hours before we saw the server again) – in addition to the legendary chips and dip, we also got an order of the sweet potato fries.

Probably the healthiest thing on our table this evening

They were hot and well seasoned – you don’t even need the butter and cinnamon sugar dipping sauce that most places serve them with … which is a good thing, because they don’t serve that dip with these fries here. Because why would they.

Lockview is known for their grilled cheese, and there is little else on the menu other than that. Umm … someone else please tell me they see the irony in Ted being the one in the group to choose not only this place but also Melt – the two places in the area that feature predominantly cooked cheese on the menu? I think he secretly eats blocks of cheese at home but just pretends to hate it when we’re out.

I got the #7, which was grilled cheese with roasted red peppers and portabello mushrooms. And of course, I opted for tater tots as a side – because, well, me.

I seem to remember wearing that paper umbrella last visit

It was pretty good. I mean, these sandwiches definitely don’t go the way of Melt’s presentation where a giant sandwich dripping with cheese and fillings arrives in front of you and you have to figure out how to tackle it … but it was definitely enough to fill me up. The bread was good, with just enough butter on it and not too overdone, and the veggies inside were toasted just right. I could’ve done without the tots, though – which is something you very rarely hear me say. They were too crispy. You know when I leave some on the plate at the end of the meal I was not thrilled with them.

Shane got the #2,  which included pepper jack cheese and sliced jalapenos. Seems like a solid combination. He got his with fries.

It looks so small and unassuming. Also note the beer list in the background that remained on our table the entire evening.

He really liked the sandwich. He said his was overly buttered, which is just the way he likes it. Healthy Shane has apparently left the building.

Ted, of course, kept up his cheese-hating front and ordered one of the seven or so sandwich options that are not grilled cheese, the panko crusted chicken sandwich. He also chose the tots.

I don’t think he even had to ask for no cheese on this one

His sandwich was good – he thought he remembered that that was exactly what he got the last time we came (of course he can remember, probably because it was one of the few items without cheese) and it was still just as good. And he liked the sweet potato fries. But that was about all he liked about the evening.

Shane’s beer woes continued, so much so that I lost count of how many strikes we were up to by mid-way through our meals. It became like a game of fetch – Shane would pick out the name of a beer, the server would look concerned and go back to check to see if they were out, then return and usually say try again.

He finally won with a habenero ale. Which, while that sounds delightful all in itself, was made even more so by the fact that the bottle arrived at a lovely room temperature. Mmmm. Warm spicy ale. Delicious. I guess even though the server claimed it was one of the last ones and that they don’t restock it that often because (surprise!) not many people order it, instead of chilling out at the very back of some cooler it instead seems to get exiled to the stock shelf with the cans of real habeneros. Sure, that’s a plan. I mean, at least the server did bring over a chilled glass, although that probably breaks some hipster server code of ethics – but whatever, nice attempt anyway.

Warm beer that tastes like hot peppers. I can’t believe this isn’t flying off the shelves.

Me – so you have jalapenos on your sandwich and habaneros in your beer?
Shane – yeah, that’s probably not the best choice

Of course we all had to try this mysterious beer – which definitely had a spicy kick to it. I mean, it wasn’t Ted after the “hey, eat this habanero” incident of a few years ago … but it gets you. Let’s just say it’s not something you want to guzzle a six pack of after a hard day or anything like that. One was enough.

Speaking of enough, we’d had about all we could take of the blaring hipster jazz music about 10 minutes after we sat down. Either Shaft was playing DJ for the night, or someone’s Dad is going to be upset when he realizes he’s missing the “funky 70’s car chase music” album from his collection.

Strike #4,869.

Which, as you can probably guess, leads to The Lockview pretty much adding up to one giant strikeout for us. Even the novelty of the Lawson’s plastic tub of chip dip couldn’t save it for us this time around. While our sandwiches were decent, it was nothing we absolutely would have a reason to come back for – especially considering the other factors of awful service, horrible atmosphere and numerous unavailable beverages. I mean, at what point do you just suck it up and print a new menu? Or re-write the listing on the wall above the bar? Or maybe, just maybe, order some new stock?

The one thing Ted did commend our server on was warning Shane on the price when he tried to take a chance and order some interesting sounding, and I think fruit flavored, mead – which of course they were out of anyway, shocker – but a $14.50 charge for a can of beer would’ve been rather unexpected and unwelcome had that actually been one of the ones that did show up at our table. But beyond that, we weren’t impressed.

This sign still exists at The Lockview, as does my original caption that “the kitchen may be open, but the staff unfortunately was not.”

We even had to make a stop at Insomnia Cookies on the way out of downtown, just to try and end the evening with a win by drowning our experience in ice cream and sugar. Or maybe we were just trying to relive the three pounds of frozen yogurt evening in downtown Kent. Because all memorable evenings end with mixing copious amounts of sugar and dairy with alcohol, no?

But hey – it was about 9PM by then, and Woody’s was across the street from Insomnia Cookies … maybe we shoud’ve just restarted the whole evening over by going in there again and trying to order another dinner? It could be like Groundhog Day, WTGW style.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Shane

Steph

Ted

 

The Lockview Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 3/22/17: R Shea’s Brewery / Diamond Deli, Merriman Valley

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We’ve all been itching to try R Shea’s Brewery ever since it opened a year or so ago and we noticed the bevy of cars parked outside pretty much every evening. Always busy usually means the place probably doesn’t suck, right? Plus we know we like beer, and the few craft breweries we’ve visited in the area have been good to us. In particular we know that we love Akron’s Hoppin Frog brewery, and R Shea’s seemed like a nice alternative that wouldn’t involve a 60-minute round trip drive … 30 minutes of which always occurred after ingesting some high potency beers.

See also: reasons why things like Uber were invented.

The one caveat that held us back from trying R Shea’s this long? They didn’t serve food. Other than the occasional food truck we would see parked outside on random evenings. And that seemed to be stretching the WTGW rules just a tad.

But then we heard that they were teaming up with Diamond Deli, a decade-plus downtown Akron institution known for overstuffed sandwiches with creative names, to start serving sammies and select apps at the brewery.

Now we’re talking. Game on.

Apparently it’s a winning combo, as the place is still always busy. Every. Time. We. Drive. By. And as evidenced by our visit, when at 6:45 on a Wednesday night we managed to grab what I have to believe from my brief scan of the room was the last remaining table in the place. Which we then had to steal a chair from the bar to place on the end of just so it could hold all three of us.

If you know us, you know at that point we were already calculating how we would fit the copious amounts of food and beer we were about to order onto this tiny space. I won’t lie, it was tight. But, hey, all those years playing Tetris finally amounted to something I guess.

R Shea’s offers flights of five 6oz beers for $10 – which is a great way to try a few of the 15 or so beers on the list. In fact, we had trouble picking just five each to try. It’s also a great way to get relatively buzzed without meaning to, if you’re like us and forget that most of these beers are, well, a tad bit over the usual Bud Light alcohol percentage.

Beyond that the 13oz stouts and 16oz regular beers are just $5 for a pint, which is still extremely reasonable. And still continuing the “ways to get totally crocked without meaning to and not really discovering you are until you get up to walk to the restroom” experiment.

Not that any of us did that or anything. Just saying.

I took a picture of the beer menu since I knew I would never remember the names, much less the descriptions, of all the beers we tried. Thank you, technology.

Ignore the iPhone shadow. Photo taken for memory and not art.

Shane got the Uncommon Blonde, Orange-Mango Citra Shandy, Towpath Pale Ale, Chocolate Coffee Stout and The Elvis.

My flight started out looking just like Shane’s, with the Uncommon Blonde and Citra Shandy. But then I moved to the the Merriman Mild, Snicker Dude and Pecan Pie Milk Stout.

I actually was stuck on a decision between the Merriman Mild and the Pale Ale, but decided on the Mild because Ted told me it would have more of a coffee taste and be less bitter. Fortunately for him he was right.

Not surprisingly, Ted ignored the lighter beers completely and started off with the Shea’s Irish Red, and then the Belgian Quadrupel, Snicker Dude, The Elvis and Pecan Pie Milk Stout.

My flight at the bottom, Shane’s at the left and Ted’s at the top

So we had some crossover, but we each also got at least one that no one else tried. This is why we’re friends.

Ted told us the proper way to taste a flight is to start with the lightest first and move to the darker ones next. Something to do with the flavor and boldness, and saving the heavier ones for last so as not to ruin your palate.

Taking his words to heart, Shane and I proceeded to take a sip out of each of our five beers at first just to try them. We then worked oppositely – Shane drank the ones he liked best first, while I saved the ones I liked best for last.

Clearly we’re good students.

You’ll probably find this hard to believe, but we all agreed that ALL of the beers we tried were good. I know that sounds like a joke – I mean, come on, we each tried five new beers and there wasn’t ONE any of us wanted to spit out? Honestly, no. Of course we all had our preferences and favorites out of our tasters, but there wasn’t one anyone tried that earned a wrinkled nose and a group search for a drain to pour the glass out into instead of downing it.

Even the darker beers were winners in our books – and “Mr. Bud Light” and I usually don’t go that route. Shane’s favorite was actually not one that he got on his flight, but one that he and Ted ordered full 13oz sizes of after finishing the sample sizes … the weekly rotating beer called the “Lab Rat,” (or, as Shane kept calling it by the end of the evening, the “Family Rodent” – whatevs) which this week was a stout with flavors of chocolate, coconut and lemongrass. It was very smooth, not heavy or bitter at all.

Who knew lemongrass and coconut made a good beer match?

Needless to say, Ted was quite proud.

Ted: A guy who usually orders a Bud Light just enjoyed a stout. This is a great day.

He was less impressed with me, as my faves were the Blonde and the Shandy. Old habits die hard, sorry. I mean, the darker ones were good – and those are not words that come out of my mouth often with regards to craft beers, so that means something. The flavors were unique. But I’m just not sure I could’ve ordered a full 13 oz glass of any one of them. The sample size glasses were perfect for me.

Ted loved the Snicker Dude the best, followed closely by the Elvis. I sampled The Elvis from his flight (I didn’t order it on mine) and it was pretty tasty. I was kind of wishing I’d picked that over my Snicker Dude. But once again I was suckered in by the promising description (cinnamon! sugar! tastes like a cookie!).

I swear the people who write beer descriptions are right up there with meteorologists on the list of jobs that can be wrong 97.5% of the time and yet remain employed.

Because we had such a large table, of course we decided appetizers were in order. Ted got hummus, which came with veggies and pita. He didn’t say much about it – but he finished it, so that must count for something.

I also forgot to take a picture of it, but really, you’ve all seen hummus and vegetables before, so I think we’re OK there. Chill.

Shane and I ordered the pretzels with beer cheese dip, which I have to believe arrived at our table directly via teleportation from the oven, because I think I gave myself second degree burns just trying to pick one up. But it was worth it, because they were delicious. The cheese dip wasn’t as flavorful as I would’ve thought, especially since it’s made with beer from the brewery, but that’s OK because the pretzels alone were tasty enough.

My heaven is filled with hot soft pretzels. Don’t judge.

And it’s a good thing we ordered that appetizer, because it may have saved us from starvation … or, OK, on a less dramatic note, at least utter alcoholic obliteration … while we waited for our actual meals to arrive.

Ted’s sandwich arrived first. He got the “Chad’s Wait Til You Hear This Story” – which if it’s not obvious from the name is corned beef, pastrami, Swiss and spicy mustard on rye.

I mean, you knew that, right? Come on.

You have no idea how long we all stared at this sandwich

And then we waited for our other two sandwiches. My Italian Sub (pretty self explanatory) …

The “I don’t have a real name” Italian sub

and Shane’s Boxty (basically a reuben on a potato pancake).

You definitely need a fork for this one

Maybe it’s because we ordered boring sandwiches without fun names, but somehow mine and Shane’s orders seemed to get lost somewhere. We didn’t really notice it at first – I mean, we were drinking new flavored beers, first of all, so food wasn’t exactly top of mind. And truthfully we were kind of grateful for the chance to finish our apps and move some glasses around before more plates arrived on our itty bitty table.

But like 15 minutes later, we started to think they really had forgotten us. And that finally Ted was getting redemption for last week, when the server clearly hated him. So we asked one of the servers, and sure enough our two tickets had gotten lost. I give R Shea’s a ton of credit – they were super nice about the whole thing, and as soon as they realized what had happened they got our orders in right away, so our food arrived very shortly after. It was truly great customer service.

If it were our server from last week be probably would’ve just blamed Ted for our missing food and walked away.

Our sandwiches were all very good. Make no mistake – the sandwiches may seem simple on paper, but they’re very well done, and enough food to definitely qualify as a meal. Each sandwich came with a small handful of chips – which I have to admit that I was mildly disappointed to see such a small pile of on my plate … until I ate my sandwich and was grateful I hadn’t eaten anything more than what I had. Truthfully I probably should’ve stopped at only eating half my sandwich, because that was filling enough. But, well, I blame the beer for clouding my judgement.

Like we’ve all never used that line before. Probably for worse things than eating half a sandwich.

R Shea’s will definitely be a place we make a return trip to. Partially because the atmosphere, food, beer and people are all great, and partially because they also tweak and add to their beer menu weekly, so while you’re sure to find a favorite on there you can also try something new each time you come in. It’s a place you could do a full meal at, or just stop in for beers and an app – and because the beers are so filling, you’ll still leave happy. The only downside is that if you come at the busiest time you may be standing around for a while awkwardly looking at people who you hope to steal the tables of once they leave … but, hey, you can still have drinks while you do that, so it’s all good in the long run, right?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

To-Go Ted

That’s Shane’s gang sign for “thumbs up times two”