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

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WTGW 3/1/17: REVISIT – Kevin O’Bryan’s, Akron

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Where did February go? For reals, the shortest month of the year was apparently the one we tried to cram everything into – except WTGW outings, obviously. Between travel, work commitments and unexpected illness (thanks, flu germs, for not skipping our house this year), we ended up with zero Wednesdays that we were able to venture out for food and drinks.

WTF. That’s just unacceptable.

But we’re back now. Rejoice.

And we decided to change up the rules a little bit now that we’re back on a (hopefully) more consistent schedule. Since we’re pretty much back to a Party of Three these days (sidebar:  congrats to Amanda and Jerrid on the birth of their son – who missed being born on a Wednesday by about two hours) – and it’s been getting a little more difficult to find new places that don’t take us an hour to get to, we decided our options now can include a return to any of the diverse catalog of places we’ve already visited once before. Maybe we liked it then, maybe we didn’t. But after three+ years of doing this, it’s only fair we do a few revisits and see how things have changed, no?

(Well, it’s our blog and our Wednesday fun, so honestly you all don’t get a say in the matter, but hopefully that made you feel more included.)

We’ll still have new places in the mix, too, so all two or three of you who look to us for your latest dining out inspirations won’t be disappointed. Chill.

Anyway, all of that was just a long-winded introduction as to why we went back to neighborhood bar Kevin O’Bryan’s for this week’s WTGW pick.

The last time we visited KOB was November 2015. We had a much larger group that time – seven in total, which is apparently the magic number for Ted to forget he was even along for the ride that time around. He said the place looked vaguely familiar when we walked in, but it also kind of resembled about five other places we’ve been to over the years also.

Story of our lives, people.

KOB had been my pick the first time around, and while we were slightly discouraged by the exterior and the somewhat sketchy vibe of the area, we were thrilled with what we found inside. The food was fantastic. They had a good beer list, and specials for certain members of our group who enjoy the finer things in life like PBR in a can. They let us start moving tables around to accommodate our somewhat loud and uncontrollable group. The server was attentive and fun, and never made us feel like the new people who tried to wreck the regular’s fun.

In a nutshell, we always said we’d return, but – like so many places we’ve been to over the years – somehow just never quite got around to it.

Until now. Yay!

First of all, I’m going to answer the question I’m sure everyone is asking themselves after re-reading the post on the initial visit to KOB …

Yes, the last working pay phone in the world – or at least this part of Ohio – is still across the street, in front of the ever-popular Family Dollar.

It’s a thing of beauty. Well, not really. More like puzzlement and a teeny bit sketch.

You can all breathe easier now.

Ted even joked that he was going to run over and call us from it. But seeing as neither Shane or I answer unfamiliar numbers on our phones, that little experiment would just result in Ted watching us not answer his call from across the street as we sat next to the front windows of the bar. And that’s just mean.

But someday, who knows, we just may have enough drinks at KOB to decide it’s time to make prank calls from a pay phone with a number no one in a million years would recognize.

Tonight was, sadly, not that night. Give it time. I mean, it only took us just over a year to return. Let’s not rush things.

KOB was semi-busy when we arrived, a few of the other tables had groups at them (including one with two small children – who knew a dive bar could be family-friendly at 7PM on a random Wednesday?) and the bar seats were also fairly full. The bartender is also the server for all of the tables, which can sometimes be horrible but in this case she was good and attentive. Not quite as personable as our server from our last visit, but we couldn’t complain.

Ted got the Founders Ale. It was as dark in the glass as the atmosphere inside KOB. (side note, if you can’t see very well, reading the menu may be a challenge in this place. Unless you own a miner’s hat.) So there’s that. Shane got Bud Light. Thus proving that even though we haven’t been out for WTGW for a few weeks he hasn’t changed his preferences at all. I had to be different and go with a vanilla vodka and coke. Wasn’t feeling the beer route tonight.

Shane ordered fried green tomatoes as an app. So I guess this is going to be a thing now? Sorry calamari, guess you’ve been replaced.

Do fried vegetables still count as being healthier?

Also noted, this was the only app on our table this evening. WTF has happened to us? From a tablefull of pre-dinner food to one lonely appetizer? This is strange and unpredictable behavior. We really are out of practice.

Wednesday nights are still steak special nights at KOB, which means you can get a 10oz steak with fries and a vegetable for $8.99. We all know that sometimes those specials can go either way – I mean, it’s not like you expect a giant, perfectly cooked ribeye to show up on your plate for under $10, but there have been times they tell you it’s an 8 or 10oz steak and then it arrives looking about the size of a jelly bean and about five times more well done than the typical confines of “medium” or “medium rare.”

This time, though, both Shane and Ted were happy with their choices. The steaks came out looking decent – Shane got his medium and Ted got medium well, which he said was “still moist even with the more well-done-ness” (is that a word?). The fries were good, and as a bonus Shane got to use the wooden temperature marker from his steak as a vehicle to get said fries into his mouth.

The man refuses to use chopsticks, but give him what essentially equates to one half of a pair and he turns it into a spear. Nice.

Who needs forks?

Meat and fries, take two

Ted added a salad with his meal – missing the customary mound of cheese that most people would find welcoming, of course – while Shane passed on that option. Because the fried vegetable app trumps fresh chopped veggies in a bowl apparently.

That would probably taste better if it still had the cheese that was supposed to be on it.

Ironically Ted had also gotten the steak special on our last visit, although looking back it seems they have changed the mashed potatoes to fries, the green beans to broccoli, and eliminated the hot pepper on top of the steak. Maybe Ted’s complaint that the pepper was hotter than his hot garlic wings had something to do with that?

Keeping with the meat theme of the night, I got the steak wrap. The server mentioned it was new on the menu (so new, in fact, that you won’t find it on the wraps section of their online menu – but really, it does exist) and she eats it like every other day. Which usually when a server admits they like something enough to eat it that often I expect the meal to be pretty spectacular … but this one was just OK. I blame that rating purely on the overly crunchy bacon pieces that I didn’t realize I would find dumped into the middle of the wrap. It was like someone spilled half a bottle of Bac-O’s into my sandwich, which – for me anyway – was a very unwelcome surprise. And which also proves I really should start reading menu descriptions more carefully, I guess. But the steak itself and the tortilla were good. I tried picking out most of the bacon … but, well, see the comment above about needing a miner’s hat to see very well inside the place, and you can figure out just how well that worked for me.

Meat, in a different form and with chips. We’re so original

Also the “kettle chips” that were supposed to come with the wrap really turned out to be just regular chips poured from a bag of Lay’s — but whatever. I’m not picky when it comes to snack foods. I mean, if only there was a tub of plastic chip dip to go along with them, I might’ve been a bit happier – but we can’t all be a classy as The Lockview, right?

Now there’s a place we need to revisit. If only just to see if this famed store-bought-tub-of-chip-dip-delivered-to-your-table-straight-from-the-convenience-store-down-the-street still exists.

Anyway, overall we couldn’t complain about our revisit to Kevin O’Bryan’s. And we would definitely return again. I know, we said that already, like, over a year ago – but truly, this is one of those neighborhood bar & grills that you’re glad you know about and can easily get to when you’re in that part of town. The menu was a little different from what we remembered at our last visit, and the atmosphere seemed a little more subdued this time around, but still definitely a good pick to keep on the “hey, isn’t that place on this side of town – we should go back” list. And yes, we really do have one of those lists. Sort of.

Picked by: Shane
Originally picked by: Steph
Next pick: Steph

Ted

Shane

Steph

Kevin O'Bryan's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato