WTGW 6/19/19: Wadsworth Tavern, Wadsworth

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THE WHERE (we went)

To the place where dreams are crushed.

Not really.

But, well, yeah, kinda.

I’m just going to leave this right here, with the disclaimer that all things are not exactly as they seem at the Wadsworth Tavern.

Looks impressive, right? Specials every day! And not just any specials – super fun things like a $5 taco/nacho buffet, a Bloody Mary Bar, and $2 Long Islands (!!). And what’s that at the bottom about a FREE chili and hot dog buffet? SAY WHAT?!?!? Sign. Us. Up.

Or, well, don’t. I mean … well … more on that in a bit.

Also apparently whatever this is, happens next door.

Um, OK. I’m not sure I want to know.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Let’s start with drinks, because – spoiler alert – that’s about the only thing that lives up to our expectations at this place. Cassi picked the Wadsworth Tavern this week not only because apparently choosing dive bars is her new forte, but because she saw a picture of some 20-ish taps, and thought that was right up our alley.

Truth.

We asked the bartender about ciders and were recommended some peach one on draft that turned out to be delicious. Three of the four of us chose that.

The other – who I may have mentioned in a previous post seems to be having a bit of an issue with his internal seasonal calendar – chose a maple ale. Because who needs to celebrate those short three months we call summer in Ohio when you can just go straight to the autumnal beverages?

The WT has a larger menu than what we expected to see when we walked in, although I think after viewing the specials board we maybe were already changing our tune a bit from our first impression. We also chatted extensively with the bartender, who gave us a lot of insight into the menu, the specials, the history of the place, what we should order, and so on.

Sounds great, right?

Yeah, let’s just say that if we had left after a few rounds and maybe just the appetizers we ordered, we might be writing a very different review right now. I can say for sure that we would’ve shaved a few hours off of our home arrival time, since the Wadsworth Tavern apparently only has four small ovens in the back room that they call a kitchen. Four. Small. Ovens. No fryers. No large stovetop. It’s like cooking everything college dorm style, with an electric hot plate and a toaster oven.

We discovered this as the bartender was taking our orders – and at least she had the sense to warn us, as we were placing our usual orders large enough to feed the small army we morph into on Wednesdays – that things were going to take a while to come out. Especially wings. Because, no fryer.

But yet we forged on. Because we’re glutton for punishment. And because we were hungry, and the menu looked good, and so far the drinks tasted great, and it’s Wednesday wing special night.

But mostly the punishment thing, I think. Because here’s the time when our final dishes of food – the wings – hit the bartop in front of us:

We’re going to be up past our bedtimes, kids.

9:10 people. Past sundown in any other season than summer. Bedtime for small children, and people over 80. The time we usually think about packing it in and trudging the 30-ish minutes home, since, you know, we all have to work in the morning. But sure, let’s get a good portion of our dinner at that time. Sounds great.

So that’s fun.

But, I mean, we’d had several stages of food delivered to us by this point (well, except Cassi, who had only ordered two different kinds of wings and some fries – so she was about to Shane’s stage of “I WILL EAT MY ARM IF THE FOOD DOESN’T COME OUT SOON” hunger), so really at least we could just package those last items up at that point and take them home for another day.

Unfortunately they were the items we were most looking forward to, a new flavor of wings called pickleback – which, when described, sounded pretty much like what it a deep fried pickle and a chicken wing had a baby.

Pickle wings

(Yeah, so, after everyone tried them later on, we can say that really wasn’t the best representation after all. Disappointingly, the flavor wasn’t there. The dill was there, but not the pickle flavor. Jason ate Cassi’s leftovers after drowning them in ranch dressing, if that tells you anything.)

Moving on …

So, as mentioned, the food came out in stages. You know by now this is a trend we are particularly unfond of. But, I mean, apps first is customarily OK in our books, so the arrival of fried green beans for Ted and potato skins for Shane and I was met with some celebration.

The healthier version of French fries

The potato skins came with a just the other side of sketch squeeze packet of sour cream that maybe would cover one potato. Thanks anyway.

Just, no

And both of those items were good. The green beans had a decent flavor to them and were crispy enough, and the potato skins had all the right toppings (well other than the sketchy dairy side product).

Next out were the sandwiches, in a very one at a time fashion.

Kids, it just goes downhill from here.

Ted got the meatball sub.

Shane decided on the chicken parm sandwich, which came highly recommended by the bartender in the usual inquisition of items we should be ordering.

I got the BLT and fries. I was given three bread choices: wrap, rye or texas toast. Looking at the picture below, what would you say I had picked?

Yeah, so, apparently in Wadsworth the definitely of “Texas Toast” is “plain white bread, non-toasted.” Noted.

Also, can we just talk for a minute about fake bacon, and why this should never, ever, be a thing on a sandwich? Especially a sandwich where it’s the main ingredient? The menu description called this sandwich a “bacon lover’s dream.” More like nightmare. I’m not sure what piece of cardboard was sacrificed and sprayed with bacon flavored cooking spray to make this delicacy, but if you’re trying to turn people to vegetarianism this is a poor way to do so.

The moral here is: if you’re going to offer something with bacon, you need a stovetop to cook it on. Not a microwave. Not a toaster oven. Not a candle and a campfire skillet or whatever Frontiersman-esque cooking device we were convinced by the end of our visit was actually back in the kitchen area.

I also traded my fries with Shane, and ate his chips instead. Again, since they are without a fryer, the fries are cooked in an oven – which means they have this odd breading over them and are less crispy and more like a breaded potato. Which worked for the green beans – but not so much the fries in my opinion. Ted also recognized the seasoning on them as Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Such originality.

Cassi (who ordered a basket of them to go along with her wings, thankfully) and Shane seemed to like them ok, but I would definitely add those to my never-order-again list.

Although, that meant that Shane’s chips really became the highlight of my meal – because, well, compared to fake bacon and white bread and Lawry’s flavored breaded French fries, that was the one thing they really couldn’t screw up. Open bag, pour into tray. Done.

Considering the rest of the evening’s debacle, though, I’m somewhat surprised they didn’t throw a bunch of random but common spices on them – onion salt! garlic powder! oregano! – and try to call them something fancy.

THE WHO (we saw)

Um.

So counting us, there were a grand total of 8 people inside the Wadsworth Tavern this evening.

Eight.

Four of them were our group, two were a couple who roamed in to have a few drinks, one was the bartender, and one was presumably her friend – who was sitting at the bar talking to her when we came in, then left when we got settled at the bar, only to return later on.

OH! I almost forgot about the second bartender, who arrived to relieve the first bartender at the end of her shift … only she couldn’t leave yet, because she was still cooking our food over a half hour after she was supposed to be gone.

So nine.

No, considering how long it took us to get our food, I guess we should be super glad that no one else was there to make the bartender busier and less focused on the task at hand. Or to order more food. I mean could you imagine? Anyone who ordered anything after us would probably still be there waiting for it to be served to them.

Now, we did talk to bartender #1 quite a bit throughout the evening – presumably because we were literally the only ones there, and we’re also not quiet.

So that’s how we found out that she had been a chef at several upscale restaurants before coming here. She’s the kitchen manager at Wadsworth Tavern, but picked up a few bar shifts to help out, which was how she was the only one working there that evening.

And yes, she was very knowledgeable about food. She answered our myriad of questions about the menu, talked a lot about how they are trying to revamp the menu to make more sense for the establishment that they are (her comments about why a small bar in the middle of a small town needs four different salads on the menu were hilarious and spot on), and you could tell she clearly loved working in a kitchen.

Which is why we had such hope after talking to her. Why, when she explained the kitchen situatioin to us and told us it would take at least 30 minutes to get our french fries because of that, we naively thought “well, that’s OK, because it will be worth it.”

Silly us.

THE HOW (much we paid)

I forgot to get a pic of the receipt (sorry, I was half asleep by that point in the night) – but I do remember it was $59 for Shane and I, before tip. That covers an order of wings, two sandwiches, an app, and six draft ciders.

I don’t think this would’ve been too bad if we’d been happy with the quality of the meal. But when the wings are on special and the bacon is made in the microwave, I kind of expect a better bargain.

Now if we’re paying rent on our barstools, though, I’d say we got a great deal. I mean, not that anyone was exactly waiting in line to kick us off of them – but still.

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

You guys. It was such a roller coaster for us this week. Let’s just recap:

– Pull into completely empty parking lot, take in the strange sign next door … and think we might be taking our lives into our own hands walking into this place.
– But it’s nice inside! And daily specials! And lots of different kinds of beer! And HOT DOG BAR ON SUNDAYS!!! WE ARE TOTALLY NEVER LEAVING!!!
– Oh wait, we’re the only ones here. Cue ominous music.
– Hey, I’m your friendly bartender and I have a ton of experience being a chef other places, so you can totally trust that this will be a great night. GUYS, WE SHOULD TOTALLY TAKE A WEEK OF VACATION AND GET A HOUSE IN WADSWORTH AND JUST COME HERE EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.
– Just kidding, it turns out said bartender is making all of our food in an Easy Bake Oven circa 1974, so it will be about next Tuesday before she’ll get it all brought out to us. Try not to starve! Oh, and trust her nose to tell her when it’s ready. Because I’m sure that’s taught in chef school.
– Have several more delicious ciders, and enjoy the music selection that’s just slightly younger than the oven.
– But seriously, can we just get those wings to go? Because we actually didn’t rent that house, and do have to work tomorrow.
– Fake bacon on white bread will never be something we can get excited about. Nor should we.

Cassi

Ted

Shane

Steph

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

WTGW 5/6/15: On The Rocks, Merriman Valley

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It’s Wednesday, it’s early May, and we got to sit on a patio.

Let me just let those words sink in for a minute.

Because you know how much Mother Nature tends to crap all over our plans over here on Where To Go Wednesdays, I have to believe she was way off her game this week and didn’t realize she had served up a beautiful, 80+ degree day on a Wednesday until it was too late to change things. Either that or she’s trying to extend an olive branch for all of the blizzards, tornado warnings and blustery 60 degree “we typically never get THIS kind of weather in July” Wednesdays she’s served up to us over the past nearly two years.

In which case, apology accepted. And I will cease calling her a whore … until next Wednesday rolls around and she’s back to her old tricks.

Thank you Mother Nature. Today you are not a whore.

Thank you Mother Nature. Today we are friends.

Anyway.

In light of all of the above, we were a little off of our own games this week – since Ted’s original choice was a pizza brew pub over in Ellet. But after stepping outside from his office for the first time at about 5:00 that day, he realized that being holed up inside and next to a brick pizza oven was not the best use of an unusually spectacular Wednesday evening. So he called an audible – albeit without a playbook – and just decided we throw rules out the window and hit the nearest patio we could.

(Honestly, I think there’s a clause in our WTGW rulebook somewhere that says we can pick a place again if it has a really awesome patio that we never got to sit on. Right?? No? Well, if that clause doesn’t exist, I’m making it right now. There. Done.)

So we headed to the Valley. Ted’s first pick was Bricco – which I know you’re all saying, wait a minute, I know you’ve been there before – but honestly Ted had never been to that location, so even though the other three of us have AND we’ve all four been to what has to be every. single. other. Bricco location in the Akron/Kent area – since Ted had never been to the Valley one and it was his pick, he was allowed to choose it.

Our rules are fuzzy, get over it.

But all that discussion was for naught anyway, since the patio at Bricco was jam packed and we definitely weren’t getting a table there. Strike one.

So next we ventured across the street to The Merchant – again, a place we’ve been, but not on the patio, and especially not since they redesigned it and make it a cool little space. I mean, it still overlooks a parking lot, but at least there’s a bit more to it now than just some tables and a makeshift fence separating you from incoming vehicles.

But we were a bit late to the party there, too, and all tables appeared to be filled. Strike two.

So as a last ditch effort, we headed back around the corner to On The Rocks – a place we’ve all had drinks at more than once, but somehow none of us have ever gotten around to trying the food. Hmm, this fits all the WTGW criteria. And their patio – another spectacular parking lot view – was virtually empty. Score.

Upon walking into the place, we realized it wasn’t just the patio that was nearly empty – the entire place was the same way. I think there may have been more people working there at that moment than there were patrons. We ordered our first round of drinks at the bar – two very large Summer Shandys for the girls, a McKensies Seasonal Reserve cider for Ted, and a very strong rum and diet for Shane – and then wandered back to the (very small) patio to settle in.

Uh, Ted? Your bottle is invisible.

Uh, Ted? Your bottle is invisible.

Where it seemed that not long after, the rest of the patrons on the patio also left. Hmm, way to give us a complex. We showered, we swear. Is there a curfew in this portion of the Valley that no one told us about? Oh well, more space for us. Actually, correction, more space for Shane to scoot around on the rolling office chairs that serve as patio chairs. I honestly have never seen anything like that before in my life. It was like they looked around and said “well damn, we have all of these metal patio tables, but no chairs … hey, wait, that office supply store is having a liquidation sale, lets just get chairs there!” Right, because giving drunk people rolling furniture is always a good idea.

Are we in a meeting? Or sitting on a patio?

Are we in a meeting? Or sitting on a patio?

Speaking of drunk people, let’s go back to Shane’s drink for a second. I think I mentioned it was strong? Yeah, we’re talking like rivaling Windsor Pub and their quarter-bottle-pours strong. The bartender at On The Rocks also mentioned they were out of Captain Morgan’s, so the rum they used was some kind of generic stuff called Sailor Jack. By the middle of the second drink of the night Shane was starting to look a little glassy eyed. By the end of the third one, when I asked him how he as feeling, he got that goofy grin and his head kind of swiveled back and forth like a bobble head when he tried to argue his sobriety. So that was fun. I’m thinking the Sailor is a bit stronger than the Captain in this game.

Anyway.

Shockingly, we decided against appetizers – I know, who are we, right? – and just ordered our meals. Although the guys kind of got apps, as they each ordered a six-pack of wings in addition to their dinners. So there’s that. Shane got the honey mustard wings, and Ted had the hot wings. They both said they were just OK.  Shane’s comment was that they were “crispy” and Ted called his the “standard hot wings, nothing special.” Take that as you will.

Shane's personal appetizer

Shane’s personal appetizer

The unhealthy way to eat chicken

The unhealthy way to eat chicken

Apparently Ted had a bone to pick with chickens this week (see what I did there?), because for his meal he opted for the chicken kabobs. He rated these much higher than the wings, saying they were very tasty. So tasty, in fact, that he practically licked his bowl clean. Hey Ted, remember when there were more people working here than dining/drinking here? I bet someone can wash that for you.

The healthier way to eat chicken

The healthier way to eat chicken

Shane went with the feta pizza. A choice which confused me because the last I knew, he despised feta cheese. Interesting, right? Just to clarify – apparently it’s gross on its own, but when heated on a pizza it’s perfectly OK and actually quite yummy.

OK, so we’re using Ted’s philosophy on cheese in general for this one. Gotcha.

Apparently feta is acceptable only on pizza

Apparently feta is acceptable only on pizza

Amanda had the buffalo chicken pizza. Which does not have feta, but does have bleu cheese. And maybe ranch? The verdict is still out on that one. It does have hot sauce, we know that for sure. And chicken. There was also a debate as to exactly how the pizzas were cooked, since Amanda’s and Shane’s seemed to both have a different consistency. So there’s that.

A lovely pizza just for me

A lovely pizza just for me

I opted for the Monster Burger, mainly because it’s served on ciabatta bread (my personal favorite) with melted provolone (another favorite) and banana peppers. Sounds like it should be a winner, right?

It looks promising enough

It looks promising enough

Yeah, not so much. I mean, unless you like dry food, because that was basically the theme of the entire meal. The “medium” burger was charred to black on the outside and very dry inside. And while I typically think ciabatta bread is a form of heaven, in this case it was by far the worst part of the meal. Wait, what? That’s a sentence I don’t think has ever come out of my mouth until now. Note to cooks everywhere: dressings, spreads – even butter, for crying out loud – were created for a reason. It helps hold the sandwich together. Melted cheese is not enough. Especially with ciabatta, which has the texture of an English muffin. The nooks and crannies are there for a reason. Please utilize them properly.

This is not something you typically see on my plate

This is not something you typically see on my plate

Fun side note: they actually buttered the ciabatta bread that came with Ted’s side salad, but not the stuff used for my sandwich. So, thanks.

The service was also not spectacular. We had ordered our first round and taken it out with us, but the server that ended up coming out to help us was extremely unhelpful, impersonal and just seemed to want to be rid of us. Because those are great qualities to have when you’re in the service industry. When she came out to take our orders we kind of hemmed and hawed a bit – normally servers would say something like “you know what, I’ll give you a minute and come back.” Nope, this girl was apparently on some sort of a timer. Like you’d think the kitchen was closing and we had to get our orders in right at that second, lest we never eat again.

Amanda: I’ve never felt so rushed in my entire life to just pick something to eat.

And the end of the night was the same way, there was no option to cash out, but instead a “ok, here’s your checks, you can pay me now.” Hey, thanks. It’s like she had some timer behind the bar with her that went off when we should be at different stages of the dining experience. Ding: time to order now. No, not in a minute, and you can’t come back. I said now. Ding: time to get them another round, but don’t tell them it’s the last one you’ll bring them. In fact, make as little conversation with them as possible. Ding: time to cut them off and send them on their way, closing time is a mere four hours away. No time to waste.

So, yeah, I’m not guessing even the proximity of OTR will get us back in the door – or on the patio – for dinner any time soon. Drinks, sure – especially if we want to get crocked on generic hard liquor – but we’ll make sure to eat elsewhere. By far the winner of this week’s WTGW was the weather – so, Mother Nature, if you want to bless us with nice Wednesdays for patio drinks but the trade off is that we won’t be happy with our meals, I’d like to go on the record right now and say that I’m personally OK with that.

Hopefully this is the first of many photos like this over the next few months

Hopefully this is the first of many photos like this over the next few months

Yay for patio weather

Yay for patio weather

Ted

Ted

 

Amanda

Amanda

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  Decent selection of bottles and drafts. Being able to find both McKenzies and Summer Shandy in one place is like hitting the alcoholic jackpot 
Food:
 I think I’ll stick to the alcohol diet the next time we come here. Or get what Ted had.
Service: If you like to make choices under pressure while someone shoots daggers at you with their eyes, then this is the place for you. Oh, that makes you uncomfortable? Weird.
Overall: Because this place is so close to us, and we now know they have a patio that doesn’t get very busy, chances are we’ll be back at some point or another. But most likely only for drinks. Which we’ll order from the bar ourselves. So basically we should maybe just stay home and drink on our own patio then? Hmmm.

Next Pick:  Shane

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