WTGW 12/11/19: Missing Falls Brewery, Akron

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Here’s a quick lesson in how to be confusing: open two breweries within a relatively short span of time from one another, in neighboring areas about eight miles apart … and then give them very similar sounding names.

Good thinking.

Which is the story behind how our GPS was trying to direct us to Missing Mountain Brewery in Cuyahoga Falls – which we’ve tried to go to at least three times now (including this magical night) but haven’t seemed to find the secret password needed in order to get a table in their seat yourself environment – when really we wanted to go to Missing Falls Brewery – which is located in the same building as R. Shea’s newest location near downtown Akron, and Ted’s pick this week.

Seriously, was there some sort of rule that came out in 2018 that all new breweries had to have the word “missing” in them? Does no one own a thesaurus?

OK then.

Side note, we were at the new R Shea’s location a few months ago for a Saturday night out, and we really liked it. I mean, we’re still partial to the original location in the Valley, but with the same great beer selection and expanded food options, we definitely enjoyed visiting this location as well.

Missing Falls looks very similar inside to R. Shea’s – the open industrial look showcasing that the building was once a factory, a big room with a bar in the center and several tables scattered around. There’s also a patio space outside, but since it was about 20 degrees on this December evening, we wisely opted to stay indoors.

And in this case it was also wise because being outdoors would’ve made it that much harder to get to the bar every time we needed to order something. That’s right, Missing Falls features our least favorite system of ordering, where instead of having servers, you have to go up to the bar and place your orders yourself. Because that always bodes well for us.

Here’s looking at you, Erie St Kitchen. Oh the memories.

We also walked into the space in the midst of some sort of card game at several of the tables. A look at the website after the fact confirms it was a euchre tournament. But without that knowledge in the moment it was kind of walking what you thought would be just a house party, and discovering it’s really a championship game night … and that you had forgotten to bring the game board, team, and rule book. So we’ll just drink and eat all the food then, I guess. Cool. I mean, that’s really kind of our usual thing anyway.

WHAT WE ORDERED

So the beer specialty at Missing Falls seems to be of the IPA variety, which Shane somehow glossed over when reading the descriptions and ended up ordering a few of as part of his flight. And we can l guess just how happy that made him, no?

Oops.

I think part of the reason he missed that, though, was because we were all super excited to see that there were about five different varieties of chips offered on the menu. Flavored potato chips?  And not just BBQ, exotic sounding things like Maui Onion, Sriracha Honey, and whatever the hell Hai Poke Wonton might be? Yes please, sign us up.

Gentle PSA: this is what arrives when you order those.

I mean, they are the advertised flavors. And full disclosure, they are still awesome. But I kind of feel like they were cheating a bit with the product description here. The menu specifically points out that all chips are gluten free, cholesterol free, kosher, cooked in peanut oil, come in these tasty flavors … that, oh yeah, let’s not bother to mention, we didn’t make here ourselves. Our bad.

Or maybe they should just team up with The Lockview, home of the Lawson’s French Onion dip served at our table in the actual plastic tub like they just bought it at the corner store down the street.

Because we seem to be in a groove recenty of everyone at the table ordering the same thing, it makes sense that Shane, Cassi and Ted all got the same sandwich, The Hitman.

Before you think maybe you’ve had too many beers through the wonder of osmosis and this post, those really are three different pictures of the same sandwich, just with different chips.

See also: making up for the times I forgot to take photos of things with a million pictures of one sandwich. Whatevs.

I got the El Dorado pizza.

Just one photo, although it kind of almost doesn’t fit, so I guess I could’ve taken two?

Jason got the BBQ wrap with the BBQ chips.

Cassi and Jason also ordered the pretzels as an app, and were predictably thrilled when it showed up with their meals instead of ahead of time as the word appetizer would imply.

THE VERDICT

So if you like the feeling of your mouth being engulfed in flames, you should definitely order exactly what I did. Sriracha chips paired with a pizza featuring sriracha sauce drizzled on top may have been slight overkill. Or at least a killer on my taste buds. But what they tasted before dying out was definitely enjoyable.

The pretzels were also winners of the evening. I commented that they looked delicious, to which Cassi relied that “oh they sure are.” And everyone said that they liked the sandwiches also. I didn’t hear any notes about Top 5 material or anything like that, but perhaps that’s just because that list isn’t as easily maintained as the burger and wings lists, since, you know, we typically order those every week.

(If you haven’t guessed, Missing Falls doesn’t offer burgers or wings, so therefore that’s why this was a rare week with neither option showcased on our table. I’m sure we’ll be back to normal next week.)

But even though the food was decent, we all had to agree that the beers were a disappointment – and probably the biggest hinderance to a revisit decision in the future for us. Of course we’ve all learned by now that product descriptions are misleading – I’ve been suckered in far too many times by the words “hints of caramel and chocolate,” only then to be served a glass of something the consistency of motor oil that tastes like tree bark. But even so, there’s still usually one or two on a flight that we order on a whim and end up surprising us.

And even though Shane was struggling through this paradise of IPAs, you would think that Jason and Ted – who typically enjoy variations of them – would find something they enjoyed.

Nope. There just wasn’t a clear standout, despite ordering across the board and trying things we usually lean toward.

And this was where the location of Missing Falls Brewery may be a hinderance to them … because we all agreed after we finished our meals that, to be perfectly honest, if we were going to be in downtown Akron – and in the same literal building as R. Shea’s – we would just rather go there, and have beers that we already know we enjoy.

And so that’s where we ended the night. We still like the location in the Valley better than the one downtown, but it was still a better option than the wealth of IPAs and tree bark flavored motor oil we would’ve continued with at Missing Falls.

I think we discovered what the “missing” stands for in this instance. We’ll bring you a few flavor suggestions along with that thesaurus next time around.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait, what?

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

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

Anyway.

WHAT WE ORDERED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE VERDICT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 8/27/19: The Basement, Cuyahoga Falls

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Oh hey, Basement, it’s been a hot minute. Or, well, three years and four and a half years, I guess – but who’s counting.

Allowing Shane to pick the new Cuyahoga Falls location of The Basement is really kind of a technicality, because not only have we a) been to the restaurant twice already, but b) he was the one to pick it the last time we visited.

I have to think that Ted might want to jump in to give Shane a little bit of hell for this, no?

But seeing as that last visit pretty much, in Shane’s (perhaps somewhat dramatic) words, tried to kill him, I guess if he wants to be the one to take his chances and return to the scene of the near poisoning, well, who are we to stop him? Especially when we already know we like the food there and have kind of just been avoiding it as a favor to him?

Clearly we’re good friends. I know.

Anyway.

So here we are again, as mentioned at the new location that has recently opened in Cuyahoga Falls. Either the opening hasn’t really been publicized all that much yet, or several others in the area have been victimized by wings and pizza in the same way Shane was after our last visit, because it wasn’t very busy inside when we arrived.

WHAT WE ORDERED

The menu is still just a few words short of War and Peace, so be sure to plan a few extra minutes in the battle of your hunger vs. your entire party’s ability to choose an entrée in a timely manner when visiting this place. Likewise, maybe don’t visit with people you haven’t seen for a while and need time to catch up with before even opening the menu. Or anyone prone to indecisiveness.

At some point you just have to pretty much commit to one particular page and then point to something before you have a chance to change your mind again.

Our group eventually unanimously agreed with taking few moments of silence just so we could all peruse uninterrupted and make a decision in a timely manner before someone bit off a finger out of hunger.

Of course even though we already made our choices, we still had to do the weekly server inquisition to see if what we chose lined up with what she recommended. She voted for the wings, hands down, and also the philly sandwiches. Which is apparently what The Basement is known for? How did I miss that somewhere in the last two visits?

Oh, wait, I think I know how … funnel cake fries. Those bastards always stole the show, even when we didn’t actually order them because we were too full by the end of the meal to do so.

Which is why Ted learned from his mistakes and ordered them right away as an appetizer.

You’ll be happy to know that they still do not disappoint.

Unlike the pizza rolls, which claim to be a “party in your mouth.” I mean, they were good and all, but that seems to be a bit of false advertising.

Samsies on the cheesy tots that Jason and Cassi got as an appetizer, which were more like non-cheese tots. Or Ted-stye Tots, as I guess they could more aptly be called.

Following his dessert-for-appetizer pick, Ted chose the chicken parm sandwich and six Louisiana licker wings for his meal.

I followed the server’s recommendation and got 12 chili lime wings and a side salad.

Of course I also ordered a black cherry white claw (which I thought they had thanks to a super helpful TV screen showing all of the drink options) … but then was treated to the dreaded return of the server telling me that they were all out. So mango it was then. At least they had another flavor choice, so score.

Shane got six pepper parm wings – which seems like a new sauce combination, no? Considering anything with pepper or parm are the two most likely for Shane to order, it’s almost like they discovered a way to give him a little peace offering for his near death experience a few years back.

He also got a basket of two sliders, I guess just in case the wings started to go south quickly?

Cassi got 12 boneless mild wings.

Jason got nine of the Kaluger wings – which apparently is the somewhat non-appetite-inducing name of their special housemade sauce. I mean, I’m sure it’s named after someone and so I shouldn’t make fun of it, but then again when has that ever stopped us? The server described it for us but clearly it wasn’t very memorable, since I can’t seem to remember now what she said it tasted like.

AND THE VERDICT IS 

After we put our orders in we were warned that the kitchen was “totally slammed” so it could be up to 45 minutes to get our food. Hmm. OK. I mean, on one hand we appreciate the warning – but then again after taking a look around and noticing about 10 other full tables in the place with us that was slightly concerning that they could be that backed up. Are they taking a cue from Wadsworth Tavern and cooking everything in two Easy Bake Ovens in the back? Seems logical.

They did get all of the apps out pretty quickly though, so that was a plus.

But when the actual meals finally started to funnel out we quickly realized that Ted’s sandwich was not among them, and quite frankly nowhere to be found. So we waited … and waited … and eventually was able to flag down the server to go check in the back to see what was up. Turns out there was a miscommunication – which was never really clarified, but we’re assuming is code for “the order was never put in.”

However, a manager did eventually appear to say they would comp his meal for him, so that was a nice gesture.

And that comp was definitely appreciated, especially when the bills came and it was discovered that Ted spent almost $20 on two beers.

Wait, what now?

Yeah, Ted’s Guinness and the first round of craft IPSs that Ted and Jason got were $8.75 each.

Yikes. Clearly they need to revise that TV screen technology to also include pricing.

And remember that White Claw I ordered? Yeah, it was $4.00. Meanwhile Shane’s tall mixed drink was only $4.25. Clearly I chose poorly. Or someone is just using a pick-the-price-out-of-thin-air scale behind the bar.

Overall, it seems like they’ve got a few kinks to work out since opening – and let’s hope they do so before any major sporting events like Browns football Sundays or perhaps Indians postseason start really filling the place up. The food was still just as good as we remember it from the other locations, but service and pricing could stand to be upgraded in order to warrant another visit in our future.

This is what we get when we ask for places we like to open up in our neighborhood, I guess. *sigh*

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi … after a brief hiatus for vacation

WTGW 5/22/19: M&M’s Taphouse, Barberton

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Did you miss us? Come on, you can admit it.

Sorry kids, for some reason it seems like between the five of us we had ALL THE LIFE COMMITMENTS happening on Wednesday nights these past few weeks. I mean, WTF, universe? Don’t you realize who we are? It’s not Where To Go Tuesdays, people. That just sounds lame.

Anyway.

THE WHERE (we went)

So our first Wednesday night out in damn near a month takes us back to the lovely city of Barberton. Specifically, back across the street from our old friend Block 7. We’d have stopped back in to say hello, but I’m not sure any of us were wearing enough layers, what with it finally being summer outside and I’m sure it still being arctic in there and all.

Instead, we head across the street, to M&M’s Taphouse. Which is either located in an old bank building, or someone just thought it would be fun to install a heavy grade vault door on the back storeroom for the hell of it. I mean, whatever floats your boat. Or fills your doorway, I guess, in this instance.

As the name suggests, the specialty at M&M’s is candy flavored beers.

I kid.

It’s actually a rotating stock of craft beers – both on draft and in cans/bottles. They also have a small-ish menu of primarily sliders, flatbreads and shareable apps.

And apparently they’ve jumped on the “keep the drinking crowd entertained and they’ll stay longer and drink more” bar game craze that seems to have found its way to 90% of the places we visit on Wednesday nights these days. From trivia to name that tune, I feel like we’re getting smarter just by leaving the house midweek anymore.

M&M’s variety is something called Beer Bingo, which is pretty much a cooler version of the game played by the 70+ crowd across America, because it involves drinking and getting prizes from local brewery (and one of our recent visits) Thirsty Dog.

Sold.

The only problem was that since the small-ish main area was pretty full of people enjoying this game, and there was a lack of seating options for parties over four who also order a crapload of food, our group ended up in the back room. Which resembled a cross between the local dive bar and the basement of every cool kid we all ever knew in high school.

Admit it, everyone knew someone with this basement. Well, probably minus the vault door

Pinball? Ping pong? Arcade games? Darts? Nintendo?

We may never leave. Seriously. Check that couch in a week or so and we may all be sitting there fighting over the controller for our turn at Tetris.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

You mean other than a few rolls of quarters to play all the pinball we could ever want?

Right. Because we actually aren’t 12 (all the time), and if you’ve read this blog before I bet you won’t be surprised to know we were all hungry and thirsty.

It took us a hot minute to figure out how to go about ordering, as the place is still kind of new and hence still figuring that system out themselves. One of the workers passing by on his way to the backroom must’ve been wearing his newbie radar – or we just had looks on our faces that gave away the fact that we were hungry and a bit clueless on how things worked there – because he was nice enough to stop by to tell us that we should go up to the bar to order, as apparently that’s where the beer list resides (on a TV monitor, we soon learned … so pro tip, maybe invest in another TV for the lack room? Just a thought).

Or maybe his radar was more of the “these people look like they could be taking notes on the place” variety, since he also made a point to tell us that he “didn’t want us to have to wait and therefore have a bad experience.”

Either way, we thank you.

But then as half the table was about to mosey on up to the bar to place some orders, a woman appeared, introduced herself as one of the owners, passed around some menus … and told us that she would be happy to take our orders … again, so we didn’t have to wait.

Well now we’re a little confused. I mean, I appreciate all of the consideration for our time and happiness, but now I can’t get that 80’s Dead or Alive song about spinning right round like a record, baby, out of my head.

Right round round round.

So, yeah, we ended up visiting the bar for drinks, but putting our food orders in via the owner/server. There, everyone wins.

Plus Shane, Ted and I opted to do beer flights, and those were definitely easier to order up at the bar.

By the way, can we just pause for a moment to say a heartfelt thank you to the person who invented the flight of beers? I mean, what a way to cater to those of us whose indecisiveness and alcoholism sometimes wager a war against one another.

Even though by this photo it looks as though I chose four of the same beer.

I realize they’re all the same color. But it’s actually two ciders, a Hefeweizen, and a blueberry shandy. So there.

Teds and Shane’s each had a little more variety.

Meanwhile on the non-flight side of the table, Jason was drinking the Thirsty Dog Blood Orange and Cassi had the dry cider – before eventually switching to White Claw.

We also heard a rumor that they were coming around with beer samples … but despite all of us hearing the bingo host say this and also seeing the bar rep pour an entire tray of samples … somehow we missed that train. Booo.

Both Cassi and Jason and Shane and I ordered the pretzel sticks for apps. They arrived straight from the surface of the sun, so that was pretty awesome for our fingers and the roof of our mouths.

And you know what goes well with a burnt mouth? About 1900lbs of salt, which is a pretty exact measurement of what was on each pretzel stick. I mean, we know one person in the group who at least was fond of that. But the rest of us did a fair amount of scraping to make them to our liking.

Beyond the salt mine, though, they were pretty tasty. And doughy. And hot without being burnt. Score, score and score again. Also, the cheese tasted way better than it looked. Just putting that out there.

You know how we love to order wings and burgers? Yeah, well, mark this one down as a moment in history, because there were actually none of either of those on our table. Which in effect breaks our (I think?) 5 or 6 week streak of having at least one order of wings on the table on a Wednesday night. Sad face.

But really it’s only because I don’t think they were offered on the menu at all, so that could be a technicality. Regardless, tonight’s table specialties were sliders and chips. Well, and Jason’s pizza.

Its very fancy

So the sliders are always two for $8, and that comes with one side. If you just want one, they’re $3.50 each ala cart, without a side.

And the chips aren’t just any old rippled regular chips poured out of a bag – they come in interesting flavors like sour cream and chive or salt and vinegar.

OK, keep talking.

Cassi got two of the Italian sliders, paired with the sour cream and chive chips.

I got the avocado BLT and the Italian, along with a side salad and another side order of sour cream and chive chips.

Ted got two orders of sliders, and tried basically everything on the slider menu except the avocado BLT. Which means the Italian, two kinds of chicken (BBQ and buffalo), and the brisket. And chips and cole slaw.

Shane also went the two order route, with the avocado BLT and Italian, and then – because he assumed from the start that he would just love it the best – two of the brisket. He also sampled both the salt and vinegar and the sour cream and chive chips.

Guess who ended up liking the brisket the best? Not Shane – who voted the Italian as the best of the bunch – but Ted. Although he admitted he might be a little bit biased, since that was the one he ate last.

Clearly we are top notch on the food tasting chain.

(Which means it makes perfect sense that we’ll once again be featured as “celebrity food judges,” for the 4th Annual Scrumptious Showdown at Aurora Farms Outlets on Saturday, June 1st, between 12-3PM. Come out and join Ted, Shane and I as we break out our most comfortable pants that can be worn in public and test the limits of our stomachs by sampling items from 10-15 different food trucks in about an hour’s time. We may or may not have learned a few things over the years of doing this – but you can take notes on us while eating a few of your favorites for yourself. See you there!)

**end shameless plug**

Cassi and I also voted the Italian sliders as winners, although truthfully I liked both of the ones I tried. And the sour cream were the clear winner out of the various chips.

But honestly, everything was good. I guess the best way to say it is that there wasn’t anything that we wouldn’t order again, although some items were preferred over others.

Probably our biggest complaint about the meals – and this is something we’ve actually been seeing quite a bit lately, but would like to put out there that we’re not a fan of it becoming the industry standard – was that rather than having the food come out for the table as a whole, it was delivered as it was finished. And because it’s a small kitchen, that means there can be several minutes between service. I mean, we’re not talking the proportions of the New Milford Café or anything, but still. It’s only slightly awkward when four other really hungry people all circle around like vultures to the only one at the table to have food delivered.

Speaking of things being delivered … we finally got a visit from the beer sample fairy! She brought us tiny glasses of … well, if I’m being honest we didn’t all care so much for the beer – but it was just nice to be remembered, so props.

THE WHO (we saw)

Well, from our kid’s table in the back room, no one, really. Perhaps our reputation of loudly discussing topics that shouldn’t be discussed over meals preceded us?

I mean, on one had that means someone is actually reading this blog. But then again, that’s not exactly the picture I hope to paint of us.

So. Torn.

But wait, we did actually talk to the owners of M&M’s a bit during this visit. There was the woman who took our orders and came back to check on us several times over the course of the night, and then also the guy who was running the beer bingo, who checked into the back room in an attempt to coerce us into playing the game and in the process ended up telling us a bit about the history of the place. I guess that would be a backfire for him, but win for sure for us.

THE HOW (much we paid)

About $60 before tip. Not bad. Honestly, the beer prices were cheaper than some of the divier bars we’ve been to lately. And these are craft beers, not Bud Lite. $8 for a flight seems reasonable, likewise for a 16oz craft at $4.50 – $5.00.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

So all in all M&M’s is a good place. The food was good, they had a great selection of interesting beer – plus several ciders on tap that weren’t named Angry Orchard, which will always get my attention. The games were a nice touch (although maybe offer free play for the pinball and arcade games on weeknights when it’s not too busy, because who really carries cash much anymore?)  And it’s always nice when people go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

Our biggest complaint is probably that they really could use a new seating configuration in the non-game room, or at least more space for parties larger than 2 or 4. As the group who always asks to be seated in the bar and not the dining area, being relegated to the back room with no TVs and no way of interacting with anyone definitely made us feel like we were being punished in some way. We probably could’ve moved into the main room after finishing our meals – by the time we left around 9:30 the front room had cleared out a bit with more places to fit our group – but at the peak time the only option for that would’ve probably involved sitting on laps of strangers, and I’m not sure anyone would be comfortable with that. I mean, I think that whole friendly vibe only goes so far.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Ted

Jason

Steph

Cassi

Interrupting Shane’s fictitious dart game

WTGW 3/20/19: Thirsty Dog Taphouse, Akron

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey, look kids, it’s someplace that’s not a half hour away in the middle of nowhere!

Which makes it all the more surprising that we haven’t been to Thirsty Dog Taphouse prior to this visit. While the brewery itself has been around for a while (and we’ve definitely sampled their beer offerings at other locations around the area over the years), the taphouse with food offerings is fairly new. Maybe it opened last summer? You’d think a group like ours would know these things, right? And especially when it’s this close to home, we’re usually quicker to jump on them. Instead we’re busy fleshing out spots on backroads in Massilon. Whateves.

Another plus – TDT not only serves their own craft beers, but also has a full bar available. So those nights you’re just not feeling the 12% porter, go ahead and get yourself a few stiff shots of Jameson instead.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Flights of beer. Duh.

High tech post it note abbreviation system

That was all me, Shane and Ted. On the other side of the table, Cassi stuck with the raspberry ale, while Jason tried a couple of different full sized glasses.

On the food side of things, it seems our table was decisively either Team Sliders

Pulled pork, meatball and sausage. It’s hard to tell which is which, but they’re all there.

or Team Pizza

Cassi’s pepperoni and banana pepper

Ted’s jalapeno and sausage

My sausage, mushroom and extra cheese

Well, except Jason, who had to be different and get the pulled pork.

And Shane, who apparently just couldn’t get enough of sandwiches this evening, so he added a full kielbasa to his order of sliders.

That’s a lot of bread

And Ted got both the sliders and pizza. Way to be impartial.

So there’s that.

We also got a few orders of pretzels for apps, because we obviously had no idea how many carbs were about to arrive at this table.

The pretzels were really good. We all liked them, and the cheese and mustard dipping sauces were all good, too – if not completely inappropriately portioned to the amount of pretzel that came with them.

Oh, and Cassi also got a salad.

Everything was very good. The pizzas were tasty, and giant – so definitely enough for a take home container. I was glad to have splurged on the extra cheese as a topping, it was well worth the $2.00 upcharge.

Ted voted the pulled pork slider the best of his trio, with the meatball coming in second and the sausage last. When he threw this vote out, Shane had only eaten the meatball. Because, you know, he had that whole kielbasa sandwich to get through first. Technicality. So he saved his pulled pork slider for last, based on Ted’s vote.

So trusting.

But it worked out for him, he was I agreement that that was the best of the three. So maybe Jason was on to something with just ordering that full sandwich from the get go, eh?

THE WHO (we saw)

Hey, Wednesday night, thanks for bringing your party to the Taphouse! In March, no less. Not too shabby of a crowd for the middle of the week – or maybe we’re just scarred from last week with the old timers and melancholy jukebox hero from Wil’s. In any case, tonight we were joined by a few other full tables of folks, plus a couple of groups at the bar.

All this, and they’re only open until 9pm.

Wait, what now? That seems a tad Cinderella-ish to close down the party that early in the evening. Let’s just say we were the last table out the door, and they were literally locking it behind us. At 8:55.

Huh. Noted.

Our server was also the only bartender on staff this evening. So considering what I just mentioned, they really could’ve used more than one person, no? It took her a hot minute to come get our drink orders after we arrived, which she told us was because someone had come in wanting to fill a growler. Well OK then.

And when she finally did take our food order she was not at all impressed with how much of the menu we selected. Bonus points for when I inquired about what she recommended in the battle of the pizza vs. sliders … and her reply was the old classic “they’re both good.” Bravo. We all know how much this group finds that answer super helpful and not at all dismissive.

We also found ourselves in another “you ordered last so you get to watch everyone else eat” situation. When she brought Shane’s and Jason’s sandwiches she warned us it would still be a full five minutes on the last pizza. Oh, cool. That might’ve been better information to have when I ordered, but thanks.

THE HOW (much we spent)

In case you can’t read the fine print, that’s $75 before tip. So almost $90 total out the door.

Ouch.

That definitely makes this one of our more expensive nights out in a while. And it’s not like we got steaks and bottle service. Also, the menu itself isn’t even that extensive. I think approximately half of the available items ended up on our table at some point in the evening.

It did seem like the pizzas were kind of pricey, but I’m guessing they probably expected groups of people to split those. Little did they know that this table is more like

THE WHY (they may see us again)

Cool vibe, although literally rolling up the sidewalks at 8:55 was a bit of a downer. The food was pretty good and so was the beer. And it’s close to home, which is always something we’re searching for. But the hefty price tag may make us rethink this as a crowd favorite.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Steph

Shane

WTGW 9/19/18: Wolf Creek Tavern, Norton

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Hey, it’s mid-September and we’re still reveling in patio weather here in NEOhio. Three cheers for a freakishly warm fall! Horray!

Although this week’s patio didn’t provide the same scenery as some of our other adventures this summer – I mean, sitting next to a busy street being “entertained” by children at the ice cream place across said street trying to get cars to honk at them doesn’t exactly compare to the time we sat next to a lake, or the time we technically sat outside but were in the basement of patios – but hey, we had giant lifeguard chairs at this one so that counts for something, right?

Sure.

Especially when the alternative to sitting on the patio was to sit inside in a dining room that kind of reminded us of grandma’s unused formal parlor. Or a long-in-need-of-a-remodel country club.

I think you’re drawing a picture in your head, and I’m sure whatever it is, it’s not unlike what you would actually encounter here.

Anyway.

Let’s start with drinks, because that’s really how every Wednesday evening does (and deservedly so should) begin.

Wolf Creek Tavern has a pretty impressive craft beer list, including several that I for one was unfamiliar with. Cassi and Ted ordered the house brew beer, I got something that had peach in it, and Jason ordered something that started with a W and was basically unpronounceable so I’m not about to try and recreate the name now.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered got a gingertini, because, well, when your name is on the menu then you are pretty much obligated to order whatever it is that’s named after you.

They named the most masculine drink after Shane

Pinkies out!

He said it tasted like Hawaiian Punch. That can’t be a bad thing. Unless, of course, you’re trying to drink slowly, I guess.

Remember when I said it’s been a warm fall? Well, apparently that season is recreating itself inside the coolers at Wolf Creek Tavern, because our beer – both bottled and draft – was somewhat on the lukewarm spectrum. Which is an issue that a chilled glass would probably solve … although those glasses are usually kept in a cooler either the same as or in close proximity to where the bottled beer is kept, so in this case that probably wouldn’t help.

#firstworldproblems

So if there are fried green tomatoes on the menu, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Shane will order them – even if they don’t have his name on them like certain fruit punch tasting drinks.

They should just rename this dish universally to “Shane’s Preferred Appetizer”

He was happy with them.

Meanwhile Cassi and Jason ordered the pierogi stack, and Ted opted for the Korean BBQ wings.

Comfort food for the win

Fancy wings

The pierogis were good. The wings, however, were a bit dry. It’s not really unusual for Ted to offer up his food to the rest of the table for sharing after it arrives, but when he’s on like the third round of “no, really, I don’t mind sharing, please help yourself” we all start to put the puzzle pieces together on why he really wants to get the plate out from in front of him.

Speaking of third rounds, that seemed to be about how many times it took before our server actually registered something we said to her. Case in point, Ted had ordered the house brew, but then when we put in our apps he also asked her about the other beers that were on tap aside from that one. She said she would check and let him know. But then we never saw the server again until the apps were delivered. So Ted tried asking again, and she acted like he had never asked in the first place. And again told him that she would go check and let him know.

Ted, after she left: You all did hear me ask the first time, right? That wasn’t just, like, in my head?

Fortunately she did return this time, only slightly before Ted was ready to just go wander behind the bar himself and start investigating on his own. Maybe we should’ve let him – I mean, he probably could’ve fixed the coolers while he was back there.

There also seemed to be some disconnect with doing more than one thing at a time whenever our server was at the table. I mean, most servers use each touch point as a chance to kind of kill two birds with one stone, so to speak – so visit once, get drink orders … visit again to drop off drinks, take app orders … visit again to check on drinks and take dinner orders … you get the idea. It’s pretty straightforward. I mean, if you’ve eaten in a restaurant, well, ever, then there’s no deep-shrouded mystery in how the dining out process works in most situations. I’m sure no one reading this blog has just been sitting in their house for the past 20+ years thinking to themselves, “I wonder how servers manage to find out what it is that you want to eat and when the appropriate time is to inquire about this.”

If that is the case, then you and our server would get along famously. And take her with you whenever you go out in search of the great meaning of dining out, because she could use a few pointers.

Although she did mention to us that this was her first night back from vacation. If I’m not mistaken, that was the whole reason why she said she had to go check on the draft list that Ted kept asking about – because she had been away somewhere and was just coming back to work that night.

Clearly, wherever she went, she’s still there in spirit.

It pretty much became a game of how many things we could say to her each time she came to the table, because our time with her was limited and then it would be another 20+ minutes before she would return again.

See also, why the photos of our apps and our dinners look like they were taken on two separate days, because we finished said apps and the sun had quite literally set on the day before we even had a chance to put our dinner orders in.

But hey, at least by the time our dinners arrived the ice cream place across the street was closed, so therefore all the small children yelling at cars to get them to honk their horns were home safely in bed by that point, and we could eat the remainder of our meal in relative silence.

Small victories.

Three of the five of us ordered the fish and chips for dinner. I only took one picture, because, well, you can figure that much out. I mean, unless you’re our server, in which case I’m probably giving you way too much credit. But that’s neither here nor there.

This, x3

It was just OK. Shane called it greasy. Which I get, but also kind of figure that comes with the batter-dipped, deep-fried territory, no?

I mean, he still ate the whole thing, too, so it couldn’t be that bad. Or maybe since it was like 9pm by this point and we felt like we had been sitting there through two days and three seasons, he was just hungry enough not to care.

The other two members of our party – one of whom was Jason and for once the other wasn’t his food-twin Shane – ordered burgers.

Look, we’ve been here so long we’re eating breakfast now, too

Excuse me, sir, but is your burger wearing a hat?

Jason’s burger was supposed to come with jalapenos in addition to the fried egg, but he wasn’t having any part of that condiment. Not one to see hot peppers cast off as useless, Ted asked for the jalapenos that Jason didn’t want to be placed on his burger instead. They brought them in a little cup, which he shared with Shane. And all was well with the world.

Because nothing tastes better after a few sweet, fruity drinks that some lukewarm beer, Shane decided to switch things up after a few rounds and order the “Mystery Beer” that they advertised on the menu (or maybe it was just because he was at this point still holding his menu because she still hadn’t come around to take our dinner orders yet, and he just for once had time to read the. entire. thing.) In any case, the gimmick is that they bring you a beer that could be anything on their craft menu, and if you guess it correctly it’s only $2.00. If not, you pay full price.

Which we learned was a lot more than $2, since Shane did not guess correctly. He guessed vanilla porter, and it turned out to be an oatmeal stout. He also wasn’t a fan. Which means he paid far more than he had hoped for a beer that he didn’t care for.

So that experiment played out well.

Hey, I finally got a cold drink! Well, it’s only because they put actual ice cubes in my glass before they poured my cider. Apparently we’ve been at this place long enough for new bartending trends to develop now?

Overall, if you haven’t guessed, the service killed this place for us. I mean, the food was OK – nothing off the charts outstanding, but nothing I wouldn’t necessarily order again either. But the service – or, rather, lack thereof – was just awful. And the worst part is that there was no reason for it to be that way. The patio had at most two other tables filled in the course of our meal, and one of them was looked after by another server. I mean, look, we can be understanding if the place is jam-packed, or if you tell us that there’s a table of 25 on the polar opposite side of the space that you’re also responsible for. Give us some credit – we’re not complete jerks who don’t understand the hinderances and complications of the restaurant world. Tell us that your co-worker is a biotch who called off hungover at the last minute and left you to fend for yourself. Rat out the horrible hostess who quadruple sat you within the past 10 minutes. We get it. But when you disappear for long stretches and then return with no explanation while only giving us the grace of your attention for like two minutes before you Houdini yourself to the nether lands again? Nope.

We determined on the drive home that somewhere somehow we annoyed the restaurant gods, and our penance now is bad service for the forseeable future. Our past few visits out it just seems to get progressively worse. Which of course brought up tales of awful service of WTGW pasts … anyone remember The Annex? The one place we actually walked out of without being served? … but were graced with the lingering smell of grilled hamburger grease on our clothes and hair for the remainder of the night?

Please, for the love of all things edible, let this curse be broken before we hit that point again.

Also, we had to go inside to take our photos, lest we revisit the incident of Tinkers Creek Tavern a few weeks ago. So, no, we didn’t sneak off to the local golf club just to take a few pictures. But this just further explains why we will probably only return on patio-worthy evenings.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Steph

Shane

Jason

Ted

Someone trapped the fooseball players under glass! They can’t breathe in there!

Wolf Creek Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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