WTGW 4/25/18: Niko’s, North Royalton

Standard

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

Advertisements

WTGW 3/14/18: Stowaway Pub, Stow

Standard

There’s just something about that bar/restaurant wedged into a strip plaza between a flower shop and a “checks cashed here” storefront, tucked back from the main road behind a couple of chain fast food joints, that screams “welcome on in, random stranger, I’m sure you’re going to love it here.”

No? Really? Oh, well … OK then. Carry on.

As Shane announced the name of this week’s destination, Ted and I both nodded our heads, since I think this has been on everyone’s list of “maybe” places since about the beginning of Fun Wednesdays. We’ve driven past it approximately 1,000 times, and I think we’ve all uttered the sentence “well I was going to pick the Stowaway Pub, but then I saw this place instead …” at some point in time or another. And somehow we just never made it inside.

Well now is finally your time, Stowaway Pub.

The first thing we noticed on entry was that the place is super small on the inside. Which, I mean, it’s in a strip plaza so it’s not like we expected the place to open into a room the size of a Costco or anything, but still. There were a few high tops near the door, and about 4-5 booths along the wall, and then seats at the bar.

So, good thing we aren’t claustrophobic.

We at first veered toward a high top at the front of the bar, but then collectively realized that it probably wouldn’t hold all of our food. Because, well, us. I mean, come on. At least we heed our lessons and learn from them.

Another lesson we’ve learned … it makes total sense to order ALL. THE. APPS. as soon as we sit down, and before ordering a full meal.

I know, we just ooze brilliance in this group.

Shane had heard/read somewhere that the onion rings were the bomb, so he definitely wanted those. Cassi followed suit and also got an order for herself. And then add to that an order of J-Bombs (which is really just a fancy way to say “jalepeno popper,” it seems) for me and Shane. Who needs healthy cholesterol levels and good, strong arteries?

The onion rings were definitely a good choice. They were lightly breaded, which I believe is onion ring code for not retaining pockets of grease and cake-like pieces of batter as onion rings can often be known to do. Our biggest gripe seemed to be that they only give you like 5-6 rings in the basket. For like $5. Um. OK. I mean, I realize I’m no math wizard or anything, but when you’re looking at about $1 an onion ring I kind of start to scrutinize a tad more.

Too bad these don’t spontaneously multiply on their own

Cassi – well, I finished my first basket, now what am i going to do?

Sadly the J-Bombs were a dull consolation prize. But we did offer.

It looks like the one on the bottom is trying to hatch

Ted ordered calamari – because after Shane’s perpetual year of research in how different places prepare the dish (and by that I really mean ordering it everywhere just because it was on the menu), Ted pointed out that we actually haven’t had it for a while.

And guess what? We’ll have to wait a little longer, because the server returned to the table a few minutes after we put in the order to let us know that they were all out. Bummer.

Ted was so upset that he ended up passing on the appetizer course of the evening altogether. Well, and also because he already decided that he was getting an order of wings with his meal.

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll recognize this move as what we’d like to call moderation.

The economical nonsense of the onion rings carried over into our burger selection, as Cassi speculated aloud whether to get the 1/4 lb burger or the 1/2 lb. I reasoned that for $1.50 more you’re better to off to just get the larger one. I mean, really. Double the size for $1.50 more? That seems to be a no-brainer.

Ted: Impressive sales pitch.

I mean, I am in marketing after all.

But it worked, as I got the half pound mushroom Swiss burger, while Cassi got the half pound Stowaway burger.

There’s a burger under there somewhere. Honest.

It looks like it’s wearing a hat

They aren’t playing around

The burgers ended up being really good. They use fresh, large patties, that seemed to be well seasoned and not over-loaded on toppings. Well, unless you consider grease a topping, in which case they kind of out did themselves on that front. We’re not talking Shane’s wings creating an oil slick on the table kind of greasy, but let’s just say it was enough that Cassi had the unfortunate luck of another week dealing with a mushy bottom.

We really should trademark these things.

While us girls were over here enjoying our giant burgers, the guys decided to get all dainty on us and order mini-burgers. Or, as places now like to call them, sliders. Which I’ve always thought just makes them sound somewhat gross, but whatever, clearly it’s only me that feels this way because it now seems to be industry standard to speak about a meal as if it’s taking a joyride right down your throat.

See? You’re thinking about it now, and I’m not all that crazy.

Anyway, sliders are on special at Stowaway Pub on Wednesday nights, $1.00 each with seemingly no limit. Of course Shane interrogated the server with his usual 20 questions about the size and shape and texture and color and toppings and how many should he order … because, well, Shane. He was pretty well decided on ordering five, until the server (a small blonde girl) claimed she could eat that many, so Shane upped it to 7. And then proceeded to pick about 17 different cheeses for them.

It’s like a small army of hamburgers

Ted also got four of the sliders, and made up for Shane’s complicated cheese order by ordering his with no cheese at all.

Sparing so expense on the condiments obviously

The sliders turned out to be pretty good. I mean, you don’t expect much for $1.00, but compared to the burgers that Cassi and I had ordered, these were pretty much kind of like cute little replicas. They were made fresh just like the larger burgers, and cooked just right. Shane’s one complaint was that he said there seemed to be too much bread, given the smaller patties. But I guess if you really care that much you could just take all the patties off of the bread, mush them together into one big burger and eat them that way. It wouldn’t be pretty – and in Shane’s case you’d be mixing cheese like a boss – but it solves that whole bread conundrum.

Ted also got the Spicy Garlic Cajun wings – which inspired a convo about that combination and whether it’s the perfect combination of seasonings, or really just too much going on in one wing order.

Please, share your thoughts with us.

I’ll start …  according to Ted, it may have been the perfect combination, if only they had actually used all three parts of it. Needless to say, he was somewhat disappointed. The wings were big, but they had no spice to them. (that’s what she said … I know, these things just write themselves sometimes, don’t they?) The Garlic and Cajun flavors were there, but the “spicy” part of the combination seemed to somehow skip town before the plate hit the table. He thought it would’ve been better if they would’ve added hot sauce or something at the end to make them spicier. Or maybe just take that part out of the title and call them Garlic Cajun wings. Whatevs.

I’ll take the personality crisis wings, please

When we finished the onion rings earlier, Shane had claimed we should’ve gotten another basket, since they were so good. As much as I balked about the $1/ring scam they were running, my response was that really we could get another basket, since he only ordered sliders and that meant that his meal was only a grand total of $7.00.

Shane – anyone remember my last great meal for $7?

Hint – it’s the infamous steak dinner at The Dougout. How could you possibly forget? He only brings it up every time someone talks about a bargain meal.

And in return, the rest of the group takes any opportunity possible to bring up Shane’s pick where the menu consisted of two simple items: wings and burgers. I think we’re on about a two-month streak now of mentioning that every time we all get together. That quite possibly beats the old Gus’s Chalet beating we gave Ted for many consecutive months.

Although this time I had to laugh, as I looked around our table, and realized that, given an entire menu of options, what did we gravitate to? Burgers and wings. Huh.

Keeping on the economical theme of the evening, Shane switched from his first round of Jameson and ginger ale to the Long Islands that were on special on Wednesdays for $3.50. Which was a bad move. They turned out to definitely only be worth $3.50, and Shane definitely only had one of them.

You win some, you lose some, I guess.

We noticed at some point in the evening that the high top tables we had almost seated ourselves at earlier in the night had been taken over by people playing in a dart league. Which spurred a conversation about our affinity for finding places where dart leagues meet on Wednesday evenings, and how we may or may not eventually get hit by a sharp object as we attempt to walk in the door. Who’s up for a revisit to Franks Place?

Picked by: Shane

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Pirate Shane

Happy Shane

Stop Taking Pictures of Me Shane

Stowaway Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 2/28/18: River City Grille, Cuyahoga Falls – REVISIT

Standard

With Cassi in Texas for a conference this week we decided it was a good time for a revisit to someplace we haven’t been for some time. Which is how we ended up back at River City Grille. I honestly think this place was one of Ted’s first official WTGW outings with us. So that had to of been at least, like, 4 years ago now? Maybe longer?

Well, because that was pre-blog, there’s no real way to fact-check, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

Let’s just say that it’s been long enough that we completely forgot how small the menu is. I mean, it’s your typical small bar food menu – burgers, wings, a few sandwich/wrap options, random fried apps … but that’s it. Not a lot of creativity or things that don’t involve cooking via a fryer or grill top. Which as you all know doesn’t really bother us – except that in this case we seemed to remember the menu being a bit more extensive at one time. Shane seemed to remember getting ribs, and that maybe Ted had a pork chop? But maybe it was just a random weekly special. Or we could totally be thinking of someplace else – because, you know, it’s not like we see the insides of a lot of places that seem eerily similar in a lot of ways or anything

Or, you know, maybe after four years things change. I guess that’s allowed.

Also, Ted and I were quick to point out that at least the menu wasn’t “we only serve two things here so I hope you like one of them” small. Because not many places can have that honorable distinction. Thankfully.

Anyway.

Because we gravitate to all things fried, even if they are vegetables, Shane and I ordered the fried veggie sampler as an app. He tried to say that was my idea, but I also know he’s the one who makes a beeline for that particular food stand at any county fair or festival that we go to.

Always eat your vegetables. Especially if they’re fried.

Of course they arrive at our table straight from the furnace of hell … and of course we still reached into the basket two seconds later and tried to eat them straight away. Remember the old thing about making kids learn about the stove being hot by letting them go ahead and touch it, because “they’ll only do THAT once”? Yeah, clearly we skipped that day of life lesson training.

Ted just laughed at us. Some days I think he’s the brains of this operation.

I thought they were pretty good – even going so far as to state that they were county fair quality. Shane quickly disagreed. Because obviously he’s the expert there.

Wednesdays are 50 cent wing nights, so of course Ted and Shane both jumped on that special. Because who are they to let a good wing night pass them by, especially when who knows how long it will be before we see another one?

A quick search of “wings” under the “stuff we’ve tried” tab on this blog will probably totally bring out the sarcasm in that last sentence quicker than any further explaining I might be able to type here. Just FYI.

Anyway, Ted ended up with 12 of the hot garlic wings, while Shane ordered 12 of the Cajun.

Vampires beware

The wings were big, especially for being on special. Bonus that they were also tasty. Because that’s helpful. And don’t forget being edible – because, after last week and Ted’s epic four hour chewing exercise, that’s apparently a new category by which we need to be giving judgement.

Edible wings

The guys also got burgers. Because, well, them. Come on, don’t act surprised.

Ted asked what the “Fuzzbuster” burger was. At least I think that’s the name of it. I should really start paying better attention. Anyway … whatever the name was, the server said it’s basically their version of the Big Mac. OK. So that means it’s a burger, with special sauce and an extra piece of a bun in the middle? Sure.

Low and behold, it arrives and we’ll all be damned if it doesn’t look just like a Big Mac. Only like the promotional pictures of a Big Mac and not what you actually get when you order one. Or at least one without any cheese on it. So there’s that.

Look at how the burger just slides off the bun without any cheese

Ted said basically if you don’t like pickles you shouldn’t get this burger. Or grease. Because that’s about all it consists of. I mean, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Unless you don’t like those flavors.

I feel like this is a circular conversation.

Shane got the River City burger. Which I think is their fancy way of saying “here’s a cheeseburger with some pickles on it.” Or, here’s the fancy burger Ted ordered but without the extra piece of bread in the middle. But whatever, to each his own I guess.

Dripping with melted cheese

I got the mushroom Swiss burger, and a side of waffle fries with cheese sauce. It’s like the most unhealthy things on the menu just jump in front of me.

Bun close up

We all liked the burgers. They were definitely fresh made, big for the price ($6-$7 a burger) and had good flavor for them. The waffle fries were enough to share with the whole table, and maybe the table next to us. Clearly I couldn’t eat all of those myself. But they were good, so I gave it a valiant effort.

More fried vegetables. And cheese. Really the only food groups one needs, am I right?

All in all River City isn’t a bad place. My indifference in the vote was with the small menu – but now that I remember the burgers are super good I’ll at least know to stick to that option when ordering and not flip the menu back to front 8 billion times in the universal sign of “I can’t figure out what I want even though there are only like 10 things to choose from” like we all did tonight. Ted liked the wings and also was also surprisingly happy with the dark beer selection, which he thought had grown since the last time we’d been there. The place was fairly busy for a Wednesday night, with a lot of the clientele seemingly regulars. I’m not sure that we’ll ever achieve that status there – I mean, I guess we’d have to come back more than once every four years, right? – but I could see us coming back when we’re in a pinch for a relatively close place to get a good burger.

Ted

Shane

Steph

 
River City Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 1/31/18: Menches Brothers, Green

Standard

When I first heard about Menches Brothers and their claim of being the ones to have invented the hamburger, I was like

I mean, OK, suuuurrrre you did. If that’s the case then I’m going to start calling my witty remarks the first insurgence of sarcasm.

But then I googled “who invented the hamburger” … and sure enough, there are their names. Color me surprised. Well, I mean, it’s not cut and dried, there’s some dispute … but at least their story is listed. And we all know that if something is on the internet it must be true, right?

As if all this fame business wasn’t enough to make us curious about the place, let’s add another marketing ploy to the list: Wednesday is burger day, which means $3 off all burgers. Perfection. Also $4 Long Islands. Which normally Shane would be all over, but he’s being all healthy these days and five different alcohols in one glass just screams calories.

I know, I’m not sure how to take that either.

Anyway,

So back to the burgers. They have 50 different kinds on their menu. Fifty. Who knew there were so many possibilities for two pieces of bread and some grilled meat? But I guess when you invent the dish, you can also take some liberties at the creativity.

Shane: I wonder how the pizza is here?

I have to be honest, though, fifty burgers with descriptions makes the menu a tad overwhelming. Not Cheesecake Factory short novel overwhelming … more like “I’ve been asked to read through my 10-year-old niece’s book report on a book I don’t know or care a thing about” kind of overwhelming. Exactly. It was enough that I was so engrossed with the burger descriptions that I completely forgot to look at the drink menu and draft beer list before the first time the server came over to take our drink orders. Fail.

Healthy Shane passed on the Long Island special, and instead ordered a tequila and soda. This is new.

He then proceeded to order breaded mushrooms as an app. Seriously, who is this guy?

Meanwhile, Cassi got pretzels. In the rock/paper/scissors game of app choices, she’s the perpetual winner of our group, as this is what appeared in front of us:

Appetizer win

And failure

Once again we chose poorly. Our mushrooms – normally little bombs of oil that take off the roof of your mouth with the first bite – were lukewarm with very little flavor. They also came out with cocktail sauce, leading the server to believe that maybe the cook got confused and thought they were actually sourkraut balls. Because that’s a logical mistake.

Meanwhile the pretzels were cooked perfectly with a slightly spicy cheese sauce for dipping.

I give up.

Ted ordered six Cajun hot wings, and told the server that he didn’t care if they came out with his meal or with the other apps. She brought them halfway in between. That works.

Wings: the perfect in-between meal

After actually asking about the pizza and getting a nonchalant response from the server, Shane opted for the Babbalouie burger. It was the biggest one on the menu, with double patties, bacon, two kinds of cheese, onions and mushrooms.

There’s a lot going on there

Good thing he’s drinking that low cal mixed drink.

He thought it was good. And as it should be – they tout it as the winner of awards at the National Hamburger Festival. The only fault he could really find was that it could’ve used more of the signature Menches sauce on it.

Ted, who at one point stated that it seemed like perhaps getting two burgers with wings might be too much, opted for the Pepper Spice burger.

Things just look lonelier without cheese

He said it was very spicy. Like he knew the name implied that and all, but so often that doesn’t really account for much so he was pretty shocked that it was actually true. Plus Ted’s taste buds are somewhat more inclined to taste fires than normal people’s, so when Ted says things are “very spicy” the rest of us might want to read that as “order only if you want to have an inferno in your mouth for about the next three days.”

Although that doesn’t really explain why he seemed to need a nipple on his beer. Props to our server for stopping over repeatedly to harass him about that after Shane made a comment when Ted passed on the second round. We always enjoy a server who doesn’t mind jumping onto our sarcasm bandwagons.

Speaking of the server, I deferred to her opinion for my meal, as I was torn between the Bacon Mushroom burger, the Chili Cheese burger and the Chipotle Ranch burger. I suck at decision making, I know. But our server offered no hesitation before choosing the Chipotle Ranch. Perfect. Sounds trustworthy.

Chip seasoning for the win

I’m happy to report that she wasn’t wrong. The chipotle ranch sauce was tasty and the toppings weren’t overpowering. Also I was glad I went with the chips as a side, because the seasoning on them – a sort of mix between a bbq and Lowry’s seasoned salt – was delicious.

Cassi also asked for the server’s option, between the Bacon Egg and Cheese burger and the Pizza burger. That one stumped the server, though, so Cassi was somewhat on her own there. She must’ve used up all of her decision-making skills with mine and Shane’s indecisiveness. Sorry about that one. In any case, Cassi went with the Bacon Egg and Cheese.

The bun with the olive looks like a little hat

And she wasn’t disappointed. She said that even though it was more well done than what she usually prefers for a burger, it wasn’t dry. And the toppings, again, were just enough to add to the burger without taking over.

Menches definitely earned thumbs up all around from us. While it’s a little bit bright inside – it definitely can’t be mistaken for a dive bar with drinking regulars who hate the light of day – the drinks were well made, the food was very tasty, and the service was top notch. I feel like it’s the type of place you could go back to several times just to try different burgers – I mean, there are 50 total, even with four of us at least 12 visits just to try all of the different options on the menu (hey, I can do math). Not to mention they also have other items, as well as specials on other nights of the week – $3 off pizzas on Tuesdays, and an Italian night on Saturdays with a choice of pasta entrees for $9.99, and 50 cent wing night on Thursdays … which is also the same night as the “kids eat for $1” special, which seems like it could make for quite the adverse crowd. I think we’ll skip that one, thanks. We knew we picked Wednesdays for a reason.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Ted

Shane

Steph

 
Menches Brothers Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 1/24/18: REVISIT – Sammie’s, Tallmadge

Standard

Ever invited your new neighbors over for dinner as a friendly gesture … and then five minutes into the evening you realize you have zero in common with them, but no matter what you do or say they just won’t get the hint and leave?

That pretty much sums up this week’s revisit to Sammie’s. Hint: we’ll be playing the part of the new neighbors.

Sounds fun, right?

We were a party of three tonight, as Ted was on a work trip in Vegas … that he didn’t remember was actually this week until we were discussing it last week. Oops. Who forgets about a trip to Vegas, of all places, even if it is a work thing? Perhaps we need to get him a better calendar.

So since we were man down this week we decided to make this a revisit week. And gave Cassi a WTGW initiation with the responsibility to choose a place from all of the places we’ve been. Oh, the pressure.

Now, if you read our original post on Sammie’s from 2014, you’ll see why she thought this would be a good pick for the evening. Great service. Wednesday burger specials. And, most of all, $1.00 bottled beers. Seriously, how could you go wrong? I’m surprised we ever went anywhere else after we discovered this find back then.

Except that it seems all of those things have disappeared since that first visit. Or at least no one is talking about them anyway. There was no $1 beer special. And no mention of a burger special. And definitely no great service.

Bummer.

To be honest, we’ve been to Sammie’s on a few other non-Wednesday occasions since our original visit of almost four years ago, and every time I think we leave pretty much scratching our heads at how we liked it so much the first time we visited. It was like we hit some sort of oasis of WTGW amazingness that first time.

This week we were seated at a high top in the bar area, which is usually our perfect spot. In fact, when the hostess asked us if that table would work for us, all three of us answered “yes” in unison. However, if we’d known that we would soon be playing a game of Jenga with our dinner dishes we probably would’ve rethought our eagerness to accept that seating. More on that later.

Also, the decor in the bar could use some updating. To quote Cassi, “Are there always Christmas ornaments hanging from the ceiling, or are we just still celebrating the holidays here?”

Good question.

For drinks, Shane ordered a rum and diet while I got a tequila and soda. Or at least that’s what we thought we ordered. Apparently what the server heard was “just bring over half a bottle of rum and half a bottle of tequila in small rocks glasses with a tiny splash of mixer for coloring.” Awesome. Either that, or the bartender from Windsor Pub has a new job over here at Sammie’s these days.

Needless to say, we couldn’t flag down the server fast enough to order a few waters along with our appetizers, primarily so that we could dilute our 15 shots of alcohol in one glass. Mmmmm.

Shane was super hungry when we arrived, which translated to him wanting to order ALL THE APPS as soon as he opened the menu. We eventually agreed that just the mozzarella triangles would be sufficient. Cassi got the fried zucchini.

Little pillows of cheese heaven

Fried vegetables are still healthy, right?

It didn’t take long for our apps to come out, which is always a plus, especially when one member of your party keeps drooling over food that keeps getting delivered to neighboring tables. But we soon learned that having Speedy Gonzales as master chef back there isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

So being that bringing the apps over was the first time we had seen our server since she took that order, naturally we figured putting in our meal orders at that time was advised. And thus begins an interesting study in time management versus square footage of a table. Because it was only a few minutes later that the side salads we ordered arrived … while the apps were still on the table. OK, a touch cramped, but we got this.

Ok, I guess this might be healthier

But then literally five minutes after that, our meals showed up. Um, yeah, a little help here please? For real.

Also, for the record, the “help” I’m referring to isn’t a to-go box. Which is what the server showed up with when I was LITERALLY three bites into my dinner. Remember what I said earlier about feeling like someone no longer enjoyed your company? Like seriously, I get that maybe your shift ends in five minutes and you want to get the hell out the door (it didn’t, just FYI, because she was still waiting on just-seated tables as we were leaving a bit later), but maybe rushing us into taking our meals to-go isn’t the best way to increase your tipping percentage, or encourage patrons to revisit. Just saying.

Also, I realize I’m quite liberally using the word “literally” in this post – but trust me, it’s justified.

Anyway, let’s discuss this copious amount of food we had in front of us.

Shane was having a hard time deciding between ordering the spaghetti and meatballs, or the cod dinner. Which are, like, the two things on the menu that if you’d asked me I never in a million years would think he would even be considering, much less caught in a hot debate over. Who is this person?

He eventually ended up with the cod. I would pretend to be surprised, but, well, whatever at this point.

There’s fish under there somewhere

He said it was OK. He particularly liked the tarter sauce, which seemed to be homemade and was very tasty.

I ordered the meatball sub.

The anti-Ted meal. Also, note the leftover app chilling out on the edge of my plate.

I thought it was really good. Some people might disagree with me on this, since the sandwich was really just three large meatballs, giant sheets of cheese, and about a tablespoon of sauce on a roll. But for me, that was perfect. I will gladly choose cheese over sauce any day, especially since soggy bread pretty much skeeves me out.

Yeah, I know, it’s weird. Get over it.

Cassi got the portabella wrap. She really liked it, said it was very flavorful.

Points for presentation

So yeah, the food definitely wasn’t the issue here. If you’re looking for a decent meal, Sammie’s is still a solid choice. And if you’re the type who likes to feel like you’re being rushed through your meal, likes to see if you can finish an appetizer in two minutes flat, or likes to drink your weight in alcohol in just one drink, then I guess this is the place for you, too. But us, not so much. Sorry Sammie’s – let us know when the $1 beer specials return and our particular server isn’t racing through her shift, and maybe we’ll see each other again then. Until then, there are probably better places to spend our Wednesday evenings.

Shane

Steph

Cassi

 

WTGW 11/1/17: The Brew Kettle, Hudson

Standard

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 10/18/17: Jilly’s Music Room, Akron

Standard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gluten free breading does not photograph well

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

Fancy chips not made for two

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

At least they give you both chips AND spears.

The smallest salad in the universe. For $7.00

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

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

Far from Ted’s meat on a stick

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

I mean, look at these wings.

Dainty little wings

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

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

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

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

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

Put some meat on those bones, chickens

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

Third order is the charm for Cassi, I guess

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

There are tacos under all that greenery, I swear

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Ted

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Ted

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