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

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

Sounds fun, right?

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

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

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

Ladies, you know the feeling.

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

Ha.

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

Sorry, rant over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WTF

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

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

And the verdict is …

Do they have stock in this brand or what?

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

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

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probably the healthiest thing on our table this evening

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

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

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

I seem to remember wearing that paper umbrella last visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strike #4,869.

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Shane

Steph

Ted

 

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

WTGW 1/18/17: Melt Bar & Grilled, Fairlawn

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OK, I know what you’re thinking … how has this group never been to Melt before? I mean, we find obscure little places like Joey’s Kendal Tavern and The Caddyshack Inn … but somehow Melt – and its ever-growing list of locations across Ohio – has been off our radar?

Yeah, no. There’s actually only one person in the WTGW group who hasn’t visited one of these restaurants before. And once I say his name, I bet you’ll realize why.

Ted.

Surprised? I didn’t think so.

OK, so does it surprise you that cheese-hater, I’ve-ordered-a-pizza-without-cheese-on-it Ted actually not only voluntarily walked into a place where the menu is pretty much almost entirely made up of grilled cheese sandwiches – but he was the one who decided we should go there?

Yeah, define irony.

So for those of you who may have been living under a rock these past 10 years or so, Melt is one of those kind of iconic Cleveland restaurants – one of those like “oh, you’ve never been to our city before, you should try this place” kind of restaurants. They have several locations – the original in Lakewood, then three or four more around the Cleveland area (Cleveland Hts, Independence, Mentor), and have also recently branched out to Columbus. Clearly grilled cheese is kind of a big deal.

This location in Fairlawn is one of the newest, opening at the end of last year. In another twist of irony, we actually tried to come here for WTGW a few weeks back … specifically the week between Christmas and New Years. And being that this is a fairly new location, we expected it to be busy … but not “sure we’d love to wait an hour for grilled cheese and beer” busy. So we gave up that night.

In a related story, since we were out, it was Wednesday, we were hungry, and we’re all about going somewhere new, we tried venturing down the street to check out the newly opened Fairlawn location of Burntwood Tavern … and were greeted with the the same predicament. Apparently everyone goes out that Wednesday between the holidays to exchange gifts in restaurants and meet up with long lost friends who you sit at tables for hours talking to. Who knew?

That night eventually took us to the one place in that area we actually hadn’t been to and knew there would be no wait – Yellow Tail sushi buffet. Also now known as Shane’s version of heaven. Guess we really should’ve reviewed that one, too – but I couldn’t keep up with photographing all the plates that he and Ted kept showing up with at our table.

Anyway.

Back to this week – we arrived at Melt at about 7pm and there was no wait at all. What a difference a few weeks makes.

So, circling back to Ted, his dislike of cheese, and the irony of him picking this as his WTGW choice … when asked why he picked this place this week he pretty much stated that he got tired of everyone asking him if he’d been here before, and wanted to see what all the hype was about.

Alrighty then. Reasonable enough.

So it made perfect sense that when it came time to order his meal, he ordered his grilled cheese sandwich WITH NO CHEESE. Seriously Ted? That’s a curveball. I mean, are you truly experiencing the place if you leave out the key ingredient to their signature meals?

The best part was that instead of being outraged, surprised, or ousting him for being the cheese-hater he is, the server didn’t blink at all when he ordered. Which means there has to be someone else (or potentially even more than ONE someone else) out there who has done this same thing.

Ted may just have to start eating at Melt every night until he meets those people. They can start a club.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. To start the night we of course ordered drinks. Because you didn’t see that coming, I know. Vanilla vodka and OJ for me, Bud Light for Shane, and a Founders Breakfast Stout Nitro for Ted. Which came in the smallest glass possible for a beer.

It's a dainty beer glass

It’s so dainty

Shane was jealous I didn’t take a pic of his fancy bottled Bud Light. Because we’ve never seen one of those before.

For apps we got the fried pickles and the fried green tomatoes. Yeah, that’s a shocker. It may be a new year, but we still like to test our abilities to clog our arteries and remain on this side of the dirt apparently.

Mmm, fried goodness

Mmm, fried goodness

Both apps were tasty. And, well, they were kind of the same food, just different vegetables under the batter, so really how could we like one and not the other? Even the sauce was the same for both dishes – but that’s OK, because that was truly the best part in my opinion. Even though we still weren’t exactly certain what it was made of or where we’d tasted it before (and no, Shane, there was no ginger in it). I could probably order just a bowl of that sauce and eat it with a spoon, like soup. Because I’m sure that’s healthy. And not weird at all.

I'll dream about you, yummy orange sauce

I’ll dream about you, yummy orange sauce

Ted got the Hot Italian sandwich (ham, pepperoni, salami, garlic, provolone, romano and banana peppers) – which I already mentioned was lacking cheese. Weirdo. And fries.

But what holds it together if there's no cheese?

But what holds it together if there’s no cheese?

He said it was above average but not necessarily something he needs to have again. Also said they definitely weren’t shy with the meat (that’s what she said!) and that he struggled to finish the entire thing (that’s what she … oh, never mind) along with all of the fries – so it was definitely a lot of food.

I got a half sandwich of the Smoky Russian (smoked turkey, saurkraut, gouda and something called “zippy sauce” – I wasn’t going to ask) with a side of the vegetarian chili.

It's like a baby Melt

It’s like a baby Melt

The half was a great option, I wasn’t absolutely stuffed when I left, but full enough. Even though my sandwich had cheese, it still wasn’t held together real well (it seemed to be one of the smaller ones – and by that I mean it’s not stacked a foot high with ingredients – which was what I was looking for) but yet I still ate most of it picked apart with a fork instead of picking it up and eating it. If I were to get it again I might request a meltier cheese. Meltier? OK, so maybe that’s not really a word. A cheese that melts better. You know what I mean.

The chili was amazing. You would never guess there was no meat in it, because it was still very thick and chunky. (OK, that made me feel a little gross just typing that, but you know what I mean). It also had a lot of flavor without being too spicy.

Shane got the Purple Parma (eggplant, marinara, garlic, mozzerella and romano) with fries.

Is that parmesan cheese or powdered sugar?

Is that parmesan cheese or powdered sugar?

He ended up taking half of his home. He said it was OK but that “for all that was going on there, there didn’t seem to be much flavor.”

Overall, it’s a fun place that as mentioned is kind of a “Cleveland thing” – so you have to say you tried it at least once. Even if you’re Ted, who can now tell all those people to shove off, because even a cheese-hater can eat there. I mean, I doubt he’ll be going back anytime soon, and he especially won’t be trying the Melt Challenge, and all of it’s huge pile of fries, giant plate of cole slaw, three slices of grilled bread and TWELVE CHEESES glory. For real? I’m not sure I could even name 12 cheeses, much less know what to do with all of them lined up in front of me.  I mean, does the cook just take all the available cheese at that moment and throw it on the grill? Does he count put all twelve? Do you know if he leaves one out? And most importantly WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THAT SANDWICH COOLS AND THE CHEESE HARDENS? It could probably be considered a weapon at that point.

BTW, someone tried this insane challenge while we were there this evening. He seemed very confident he could do it. Sadly, he left with two to-go boxes full of the remnants of his $35 meal-o-cheese, some dented dignity, and what appeared to be a need for some Tums and Pepto. Ouch.

We forgot to do our usual rating system photos at the table, so had to do them by the front door before we left. Thus resulting in my husband taking what probably could be called the single worst photo of me of all time.

Steph

Steph … we think

Seriously, what’s up with the lighting? Did he not see that when he was taking the photo? I mean, Ted has taken better photos of me when the camera is in motion.

Let’s just forget we ever saw that, OK?

Shane

Shane … of course he looks normal

Cheese-hater Ted

Cheese-hater Ted

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane
Melt Bar & Grilled Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato