WTGW 10/16/19: DeLuca’s Pizza Pub, Green

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Friends, if you will, indulge us for a moment for a story.

Once upon a time a group of food testing friends came across a bar that had everything they were looking for. There were drinks. There was food. And there was a lot of fun with some new friends, which culminated in a far later night out than folks of their age should likely indulge in, but that’s neither here nor there.

And they rejoiced.

I mean, doesn’t that look like fun?

It should also be noted that we only really know about four people in all of those photos.

The name of this magical place was Howie’s. It was situated next to a lake, the likes of which they didn’t see that evening because it was a chilly spring evening, and, well, occasionally this group makes smart choices.

But they vowed to return.

And they did, once or twice, on a few weekends and one particular 4th of a July.

But then the place closed. And they were sad for taking its existence for granted.

But wait! Thanks to the power of social media, it was learned that the owners opened a new place! A pizza pub, in nearby Green, called Deluca’s Pizza Pub.

An anxious wait followed, carefully watching social media for the eventual opening and the rave reviews that followed.

And so the group finally went to check it out. And discovered … well … first and foremost, that it was really difficult to find. Because the plaza lacks signage and lighting and, well, basically the look of actually being a habitat for real human life of any sort. Maybe we should work on making the theme more “great place to come eat” and less “we’re suffering from a permanent power outage,” no?

But beyond that observation, the next thing that became blatantly obvious was, well, it’s not Howie’s. Which is not to say it’s bad … but, well, it’s not Howies.

Read on …

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, pizza? Duh.

But first, ALL THE BREAD AND OIL. Like seriously, entire wheat fields were sacrificed to bring this spread to our table this evening.

Yes, that’s three orders of bread and oil on one table. Because who needs variety? And also:

Ok, now that we’re past that, let’s move on to the pizzas, since that is the specialty here after all. They have all sorts of specialty flavored pizza, but they for the most part are all NY style. So it you’re looking for deep dish, this is probably not your scene.

Shane got his own pizza – the Wise Guy – because, well, see the photo above.

For clarity’s sake, this is a 10 inch pizza. Which we all took one look at upon arrival and knew would barely be enough for Shane alone, so fortunately I was wise enough to order my own meal.

Cassi and Jason got the much larger Meatball pizza to share.

That’s more like it.

Cassi also got a side salad.

Ted got a pizza he made himself with toppings, not a specialty one. Well, by “made himself” I mean he picked out the toppings, not that he actually went back into the kitchen and cooked it himself – which I would think is obvious, but just clarifying. I mean, could you imagine the outrage? We got bent out of shape when we had to go up and order our own food last week, let’s not even talk about what kind of world it would be if they expected us to enter the kitchen and cook something.

Anyway.

He chose sausage, pepperoni and meatballs. It had minimal cheese, by the server’s admission because of all the meats covering it. To which we all replied in a resounding chorus that that’s exactly how Ted likes it.

I got a calzone with mushrooms and sausage, and a side salad

THE VERDICT

So overall, taste-wise, everything was good. The flavors in the pizza and the calzone were both delicious. The dough especially was amazing, and you could tell it’s all fresh made – even without the note in the menu mentioning the lack of freezers or fryers in the back kitchen. In fact, if all four pieces could’ve been as doughy as the end two slices I might not have been able to hold myself back from eating the whole thing and getting rolled out the back door to the parking lot.

Which, fortunately is shrouded in darkness so at least no one would’ve seen. Maybe we’ve cracked the code on this while lighting situation after all.

Admittedly Shane was somewhat disappointed that the pizzas were thin crust, because he would’ve rather enjoyed the doughier version. Or at least probably been less hungry when we left.

Our bounty of bread and oil was arguably the best part of the meal. Props to the server who told us to smash the garlic cloves into the oil rather than out previous method of attempting to eat them an entire clove at a time. And the bread was really flavorful. While it didn’t soak up the oil entirely, the taste of the bread alone made up for that. It was like those pita crisp crackers turned into a full piece of bread.

Cassi liked her salad so much that she claimed she wanted them to pack her a salad for tomorrow’s lunch. Oh, hey, thank you to-go menu. That worked out well.

But in particular the cheese on the salad was amazing. You could tell it was fresh, not packaged from the Market District grocery down the street.

And the homemade sausage in my calzone was to die for.

So, if you’re following along here, so far on taste one we’re giving DeLucas a five-thumbs-up rating.

But here are our biggest issues with the place, and the reason for us saying it’s not Howie’s – and it won’t get the stellar overall rating that we gave that place. For one, the atmosphere. Look, I get the reasoning behind wanting to make the move from rowdy “let’s all do shots at 7PM” waterfront bar to classier pizza pub where mixed drinks are called “handcrafted cocktails” and seasonal pumpkin cider is served on draft.

But, well, this leap may just be a little too much for this particular area. I mean, let’s look around … by 7:30PM, we were literally the only people in the place that couldn’t walk into the kitchen without being told we didn’t belong there.

Which may dovetail into our second issue … price. I mean, we get the whole fresh-made thing. And we both enjoy and appreciate that. But, well, paying $14 for a just a step above personal pan pizza and $6 for a draft cider was a little bit disheartening. Maybe in NYC that flies, but not in Green, Ohio.

So chances are that as much as we may have enjoyed the pizzas and other bread and cheese products here … we won’t be sitting here a few years from now retelling the story of how much we love Deluca’s. At least not in the same way we loved Howie’s, anyway.

*sigh*

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

WTGW 6/19/19: Wadsworth Tavern, Wadsworth

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THE WHERE (we went)

To the place where dreams are crushed.

Not really.

But, well, yeah, kinda.

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

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

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

Also apparently whatever this is, happens next door.

Um, OK. I’m not sure I want to know.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

Truth.

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

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

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

Sounds great, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that’s fun.

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

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

Pickle wings

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

Moving on …

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

The healthier version of French fries

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

Just, no

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

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

Kids, it just goes downhill from here.

Ted got the meatball sub.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

Um.

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

Eight.

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

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

So nine.

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

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

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

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

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

Silly us.

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

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

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

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

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

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

Cassi

Ted

Shane

Steph

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

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

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

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

Anyway.

THE WHERE (we went)

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

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

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

I kid.

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

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

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

Sold.

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

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

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

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

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

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

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

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

Either way, we thank you.

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

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

Right round round round.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its very fancy

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

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

OK, keep talking.

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

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

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

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

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

Clearly we are top notch on the food tasting chain.

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

**end shameless plug**

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

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

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

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

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

So. Torn.

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

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

THE WHY (they may see us again)

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

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

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Ted

Jason

Steph

Cassi

Interrupting Shane’s fictitious dart game

WTGW 4/25/18: Niko’s, North Royalton

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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

WTGW 11/29/17: Akron City / Stray Dog Tavern

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Shane got all excited this week when I announced that I was picking a place in North Hill. Because, well, potentially slightly scary places are intriguing to him. Even when they aren’t bars run out of houses.

There’s also this:

Nothing like testing your willpower by attending the AA meeting across the street from a bar

Because that seems wise.

Anyway.

History lesson time: I guess this place is the old The Office – which moved to Cuyahoga Falls a while back. We visited that location a few years ago, and were underwhelmed. I believe this original location just reopened with a new name and menu about a year ago.

Spoiler alert: we were far more impressed with this new place than the original-in-a-new-building.

Although – and here’s where my magical marketing hat of common sense comes into play … there seems to be some discrepancy with the name of this new place, as it can be found under either Akron City Tavern, or Stray Dog Tavern. Meanwhile, the website title shows up in the bar as The Office City Tavern. I’ll take the identity crisis special with a side of you might want to just choose one brand new name and stick with it, please. It seriously took me about 20 minutes of googling to make sure that all of these names were, in fact, leading me to the exact same place.

I feel like I should get some sort of prize for completing that scavenger hunt.

In reality what they should name the place is the Tiny Little Two-Topped Tavern, because the place is super small inside. And has very few table options for parties larger than two or four. Which bodes well for our party of five, no? We ended up at the only table big enough to accommodate us, right at the front in the window. But at least the bartender came over and turned on the overhead light fixture just for us. Point one for hospitality.

Now is probably also a good time to mention that the place wasn’t busy at all. Like it was just two other people and the bartender inside when we walked in – so our group of five essentially more than doubled the population of the place. I think the other two people were also friends of the bartender’s, not actual paying customers. So there’s that.

It should be no surprise that the first thing Jason and Shane noticed was that they had Hamm’s. Cheap beer connoiseurs, these ones.

Shane: Ah, it tastes like a dive bar in Chicago.

MMMMMMM.

For apps, Ted went with mussels, Shane and I went with the veggie spring rolls, and Cassi and Jason decided on the chips and dip.

The chips and dip ended up being the big winner. The dip was excellent. We think it may have been Lawson’s chip dip, but without the plastic container actually on the table in front of us it’s hard to say for sure.

This looks more impressive than last week’s Pound of Chips debacle

The mussels also ended up being very good. They had just enough garlic without being overwhelming. When we raved about them, the bartender told us that the key is that the cook starts the sauce with garlic and beer ahead of time, then throws the mussels in later. I’m no chef, but I can say for certain that whatever he’s doing is certainly working. Also, I’m not sure the chef appreciates you giving out his secrets, but thanks?

I’ll take the Keep The Vampires Away special, please

Shane wasn’t thrilled with the veggie spring rolls. I thought they were OK – but nothing I needed to order again.

At first you’re disappointed there are only three. Until you try them.

I’d read that no matter what name you call this place, burgers are a big speciality here. So of course that’s what we all ordered. Hey, how else are we supposed to confirm that if we don’t try them? I mean, seriously.

Food twins Jason and Shane both got the Danny Boy’s – which includes a fried egg and corned beef on top of the burger. I guess this particular one also won the top award at the National Hamburger Festival in downtown Akron this past summer. So, you know, no big pressure to be amazing or anything.

Breakfast for dinner

Shane debated over adding a second 7oz patty to his sandwich, but the bartender talked him out of it. Apparently he doesn’t read this blog. And of course Shane said later he could’ve actually used it. Not only because it tasted pretty damn good, but also because 7oz of meat is really not a lot for someone who eats like he does.

**insert 15 year old humor here**

Good thing he got that sidecar of fries

Ted got the Caprese burger.  As in, essentially a Caprese salad on top of a burger. My guess is that this was less an attempt to be healthy and more an effort – as in all of Ted’s endeavors – to avoid cheese.

The only burger on the table without anything fried or melted on top of it

The chef came over to the table as the food was delivered, and apologized for not having enough shaved mozzerella cheese on it. Little did he know that he hit the right person with that sentence. I think Ted about fell off of his chair trying to stop him when the chef said he would go back and get more for him, since he had already actually donated what was there to Shane. Such a good friend.

#friendshipgoals

Cassi got the bacon cheeseburger. I’m going to guess you’re intelligent enough to guess what was on that one. She said it was delicious. And that this was probably the best food she’s had in all the weeks she’s been out with us. #winning

The cheese seems to have overthrown the bacon for seniority here

I got the Akron Burger, which was a burger topped with grilled chip-chopped ham, chips and Lawson’s French onion dip. Because nothing says Akron like chip-chopped ham and Lawson’s chip dip, I take it? I clearly haven’t lived here long enough to learn these connections.

That’s one way to get chips AND fries with your meal

Everyone agreed that the burgers were amazing. They’re all freshly cooked, no frozen patties here. And cooked to order, so you know that won Shane over. All the various toppings added to the burger instead of taking over and overpowering the meat itself. And even the buns were good.

So. Many. Jokes. in those last two sentences. Must restrain.

But in all seriousness, Shane put the burgers in his Top Two. And then later said they may actually be his favorite. That’s high praise, folks.

I mean, we all know those famous Shane numerical order lists are written in stone … for at least like a week.

The fries were the only slight disappointment, at least in my opinion. They weren’t horrible, but after I had the chips and dip I wished I had gotten the chips as my side instead. I will say that the portion was still good – what looked like a small amount when they arrived turned out to be just enough to be filling … without being like hey, I just ate about 15 fried potatoes so please roll me out the door.

But to kind of balance that out, there were homemade pickles with the burgers. Right? Homemade. Like not out of a jar butter chips. Clearly Lawson’s trumps Vlassic in Akron.

The place also has great service. I mean, granted, we were the only ones there – but still the bartender/server was very attentive, and instead of just yelling over the bar at us (because let’s face it, we weren’t that far away) he would actually walk around and come check on us, ask us if we needed refills, etc. He also encouraged us to just yell at him if we needed anything at all. Just like home.

Another plus: when Cassi and I ran out the keg of cider we were both drinking, he gave me the last half glass that was poured (since he had no other ciders on tap or bottle) at no charge. And seemingly felt really bad about not having any other selection. Now, if we go back down the road and there’s more than one cider selection on the menu then I’ll really be impressed. Even more so if they wanted to name it after us. Just a thought.

Although, had I seen this sign, maybe I would’ve gone with this special:

Liningoogles? That’s new

Must be a new competitor to the more well known Leinenkugel’s. We’ll see how that fares.

We also noticed a special for $5 classic burger and a 16oz can of Hamm’s during all Cleveland sports games. Shane said he would be in for like three of those. Somehow I think he just means three of the burgers, and far more of the Hamm’s.

I have to admit, while we weren’t sure what to expect when we walked in – it’s small, it was practically empty, and it’s in a somewhat sketch neighborhood – Akron City/Stray Dog/The Bar Formerly Known As The Office Tavern turned out to be a really good pick. Cassi said it may be the best since she’s started coming out with us – although to be fair, it is up against places that smelled like Grandmas house and only have two items on the menu. But we all agreed this place is a hidden gem. Really good food, great service, and decent prices. I mean, what more can you ask for, right? Don’t let the location scare you, because it’s definitely worth the trip. I for one would love to see this one thrive, and not have a party of five be the biggest thing to show up on a Wednesday night. That being said, if we show up in a few months and there’s a line for our window table I might be a little bit irritated. Just sayin.

Picked by: Steph

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Shane and his new BFF

Steph


Akron City Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 11/22/17: REVISIT – Mike’s Place, Kent

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This year’s Night Before Thanksgiving visit comes to us courtesy of the motto “safety first,” lest we try a new place and have another Shane food poisoning incident like the Thanksgiving of 2014. *shudder*

And what better safe bet to go with than Mike’s Place in Kent. Good call, Ted. I mean, they do quite literally have a litte bit of everything. Breakfast all day? Sure – do you want pancakes, waffles, eggs, or bacon? In the mood for sandwiches? They have about 75. Dinners? Yep, pick anything from Italian to Chinese to Southern BBQ. Really craving something you once had at Applebee’s? It’s probably the dish labeled “I Stole This Item From a Chain Restaurant.” I mean, I can’t say 100%, but that’s how I read that one anyway.

It’s also one of those places we could probably come to every night for an entire year and still not order every single item on the menu. I mean, take a look online. It’s like a short novel. I think I’ve read Cliff’s Notes booklets with fewer words. I honestly don’t think I’ve even read the whole thing yet. It’s like at some point you have to just kind of find something you like and stick with it, or else three hours later you’ll still be reading. And hungrier.

Although we did notice that they changed the menu since our last visit in the summer of 2015. Well, I mean, they changed the layout anyway. If they added or deleted anything we’d never know. Because rest assured it still has just as many words. You know there’s a lot to choose from when we all go silent for about 15 minutes just trying to figure out what we want to order.

To that point, our server comes back over like 10 minutes after we sit down and asks if we need more time before we order. Um, that’s a giant hell yes. Who doesn’t? Come on. I was barely past the appetizers.

At least the drink menus were easy to decipher. Ciders all around except for Ted, who had to quiz the server on nitro taps and other fancy sounding things before he could determine which beer he wanted to order.

He was very confident about his appetizer choice, though, announcing to the table that he’s ordering the “pound of chips.” Hmm, any guesses on what that entails, exactly? I mean, way to beat around the bush on that title.

But then they arrived.

Do they count the basket and sauce cup in the weight?

Is it just us, or did that name lead to a far more impressive picture in your head than this? Me thinks the scale might be broken at your place, Mike. But kudos on the marketing genius in your naming. Sold us.

We all ended up with side salads, either as a side option to our meal, or because we were trying to keep up at least a facade of somewhat healthy eating on the eve of the biggest food holiday of the year. Well, everyone except Ted, who shunned the salad in favor of enjoying a lovely cup of applesauce instead. Mmmmm.

It’s so dainty

Also note that in the background of my salad photo you can clearly see Shane slathering his healthy salad in completely unhealthy blue cheese dressing. Because, Shane.

Which of these would you rather eat?

While I’d like to blame our ordering of enough food for an army on our indecision over the novel of a menu … but who am I kidding. You all know by now that this is just something we do. Well, I mean, as long as there’s more than two items on the menu to choose from anyway.

Sorry Shane, that still hasn’t gotten old.

Anyway, my point is that when the server arrived with our meals of course there wasn’t enough room on the table for all of the plates, so Ted tried to be helpful by removing the tiny cup that had held his applesauce. Because that was what was holding things up for sure. Especially when he was then was given a similar sized cup of cole slaw. Fail.

Ted and his collection of tiny cups

Ted’s main meal was the ribs and chicken dinner – which is a half rack of ribs and a few pieces of chicken. He ate it all, and said he was “very full” by the time we left. Must’ve been all that applesauce and cole slaw.

Shane’s favorite part of Ted’s meal was his moist towelettes, which he insisted he had to have a photo with.

Shane would like to remind everyone about the importance of having MOIST towelettes at the table

Did we mention MOIST?

Anyway.

Shane ordered six of the Italian parm wings and the blue bomber burger. And of course that side salad.

That’s a knife in the top of the burger, in case you’re wondering

He said the burger wasn’t so great. It was OK, but a little well done for his taste – and he had specified medium rare. Apparently whoever cooks the burgers also measures the chips?

But at least the other half of his meal – the wings – were excellent. I tried one of them, too, and agreed that they were delicious. The sauce was like Italian dressing with parm cheese – which I guess makes sense given the that they are Italian parm wings – but, you know, we’ve been burned on names already so given the chip debacle these could’ve come out slathered in BBQ sauce for all we knew. But it was a nice change from the usual garlic parm sauce that most every win place offers.

These might’ve been some of the most flavorful wings I’ve ever tasted

Cassi ordered the pierogis and an 8-slice pizza, proclaiminig that if she didn’t finish it all then she would take it home to Jason.

Shane, upon hearing her order: Huh, I don’t think I’ve ever tried the pizza here. That’s odd.
The rest of the table, all of our readers, and pretty much anyone who knows Shane: Huh, yeah, I agree, that is odd.

Turns out he must’ve somehow known to stay away, since Cassi proclaimed the crust to be “doughy.” Which is pretty much the only kind of pizza crust that Shane doesn’t enjoy. Shane’s psychic powers are strong when it comes to food sometimes.

Looks better than it tastes apparently

She did say that the pierogis were good, though. Guess what Jason isn’t getting in his leftover package.

Little pillows of happiness

I got the Mucho Meat Melt sandwich – which of course made everyone laugh when I ordered it, because we’re 12. It was just OK. There was almost too much going on there – between the pepperoni, salami, and actual cut links of Italian sausage. Unlike the pound of chips, the name of this sandwich was about as true as you could get. It was more than enough food to make me full, and I didn’t even finish all of it.

I know, there’s a joke in there. I’m not missing it, I’m just choosing to ignore it.

My knife is a little less strategically placed

Overall we’ll all agree that Mike’s is a great place. It’s a great place to take guests or large groups, since there will always be something for everyone on the menu. Can’t decide between sandwiches, wings, BBQ, Italian or Chinese? Yeah, its all here. We joked that we could start a whole other evening out just going there once a week and trying something new. Mike’s Place Mondays? Maybe I should register the website now just in case.

Picked by Ted

Ted

Shane

Cassi

Steph

 

WTGW 4/19/17: REVISIT – Blue Willow Lounge, Macedonia

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It’s another “this adventure could’ve gone a totally different way” week here, as Shane originally tried to take us back to PatDees in Northfield for a revisit, but was thwarted by a road closure. Damn you ODOT!

So in a literal last second change up, here we are at the Blue Willow Lounge.

This little hidden gem is tucked away behind a gas station on a slightly-off-the-beaten-path section of Rt 82 (aka not in the land of huge strip plazas a few miles to the west) in Macedonia. Although we noticed since our last visit that the road to access the Blue Willow is now an access street to the highway ramp that was recently moved – so maybe they’re getting a little more attention these days.

Let’s hope so, because it’s well deserved.

We were genuinely surprised at how good this place was the first time we went. After Shane’s claim that the place is the “oldest bar in Macedonia” – something none of us have ever been able to substantiate, by the way – I remember being more than a little concerned for what we might be getting ourselves into. But the Blue Willow ended up having some of the best burgers we’ve ever tasted in our years of WTGW adventures, a fun atmosphere, and outstanding service (especially considering there was essentially one person manning both the bar and the tables) from a server who called Ted a pussy for downsizing his Christmas Ale in the second round.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record from last week, tell me again why we haven’t been back here more often?

Right.

We were happy to hear that Wednesdays are still $5.95 burger nights at the Blue Willow. Although it seems to have morphed from “build your own burger night” to “just pick a burger and we’ll charge you $5.95 for it night.” Maybe we were still living 2.5 years in the past, because we thought we heard a “build your own” option in there when the server was explaining it … but the list of toppings to build from seemed to be invisible on our menus. After flipping it over about 400 times, Ted finally broke down and asked where the toppings were, and the server just kind of gave him the “well, there’s no list, just, you know, whatever you want on your burger.”

Oh, OK, so just pick something that sounds good on a burger and they’ll let you know they have it, then? Perfect. Sounds great. It’s like 20 questions with condiments.

But it didn’t deter us – because, well, “burgers” seems to be a theme for us now. I mean, set aside the fact that it’s the daily special at Blue Willow, between this week and last week we seem to have turned WTGW into a tour of all the burger places we really like but haven’t been back to in ages.

Note to self: I gotta change it up with my next pick.

Anyway.

Ted got the Cajun burger – minus cheese, of course, but with lettuce and tomato. Shane also got the Cajun burger, minus lettuce and tomato – but WITH cheese.

There were more chips on that plate before I took this picture, Honest.

Ignore the crumbs. You’d think we hadn’t eaten for days or that I had to drive across the state to fetch my camera.

They’re like yin and yang, those two. This is why they’re friends.

Not wanting to copy the bromance brothers, I decided to challenge the “build your own” philosophy, with lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese and mushrooms. I think I asked for each of those items as a question, thinking at any moment she could tell me that wasn’t one of the nonexistent options.

You can’t see the toppings, but they’re there.

We all also got the homemade chips, since they were free and the fries were $1.00 more. Ironically, looking back on our first visit, it was the fries that were free and the chips that were $1.00 more. Since they’re both made from potatoes, I’m a little perplexed at the inflationary costs of one versus the other, but whatever.

Because clearly he didn’t trust the size of these burgers like he did Windsor Pub, Ted also got 12 of the Thai wings. Better to be safe than sorry, I guess.

A full meal as an appetizer. Glad to see we’re back to normal around here.

Shane and I also got breaded mushrooms. Of which Shane actually asked me before he ordered them “hey, would you eat some of these if I get them.”

Please. It’s like he hardly knows me.

They’re vegetables, so they’re still considered healthy, right?

We noticed that the food seemed to take a particularly long time to come out after we ordered. Especially considering the place wasn’t by any means packed. I mean, it should be noted that Shane continuously made the “our food is taking FOREVER” observation whilst very hungry, so take that with a grain of salt. But even those of us not about to eat our own arms did think it was a longer than usual wait time.

And when our meals finally did arrive, it was unceremoniously all at once. So much for that whole “appetizer” concept, I guess.

Now, granted there was only one server/bartender working the whole place – the large bar area (which was always very full, almost every seat taken), as well as the tables nearby (not quite as full, but just by location alone still a hassle to have to walk out from behind the bar to check on). But I don’t think it was her fault the food took a while. She was very good, coming out from behind the bar several times to check on us and even telling us to yell at her or do whatever if we needed her attention. But to be brutally honest – and I even said this the last time we were there, years ago – they could really use two people working there on any given night. I mean, the night we were there the bar was pretty full but there were only a few people seated at the tables – I couldn’t imagine if all the tables were full and there was only one person trying to do everything. Again, our server was amazing … but for her sake I wish they would staff a little better.

*exiting soapbox now*

I’m happy to say that the burgers were still as good as we remembered. They’re cooked to order, and very juicy. Shane was a bit upset that they “didn’t crumble like Windsor Pub’s,” – but regardless they still passed his test.

Now that’s a handful of meat.
Wait, what?

Word of warning, they might look small when you first see them on the plate, but they’re actually really thick. They’re tall and thick, not short and flat.

File that under: words I never thought I would utter until I started composing a food blog. Carry on.

I also really liked the homemade chips. They didn’t indicate on the menu that they were homemade, so I was expecting a handful of Lay’s or something similar on my plate with my burger – which made these a nice surprise. They were crunchy but not greasy. The only thing that would’ve made them more perfect is a french onion dip on the side. But if you add that then they would probably not be the “free side” anymore … and the cycle continues. You’re welcome, French fries.

Shane said he wished he would’ve gotten the Willow Classic burger instead of the Cajun. Once he bit into this burger he remembered that wasn’t the same one he got last time and that he wished he’d gotten that one again. But then again he also said he really didn’t taste his food since he was so hungry, so there’s that.

Ted really liked the Thai wings, although with the burger too he only ate about 10 of the 12. For shame. He said his burger was cooked well, but it didn’t really taste Cajun-y. I think he was looking for more of a blackened and seasoned taste. Although he skipped the pepper jack cheese, and we all know that makes a cajun dish, right?

If we have a complaint with the Blue Willow Lounge, it’s that the beer list is a little lacking. Case in point: Ted asked about dark beers … and ended up with a Fat Tire. So I guess “amber” is considered dark in these parts. Noted. Likewise, I asked about ciders, and the only option was Angry Orchard. Which, OK, sure, I guess I should just be happy they at least had something … but I like options, I guess. I’m a girl. Sue me.

Shane went with a rum and diet, and was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t as light in color as it was last week. Or as cheap.

I do appreciate that the server brought us cold glasses with my cider and Ted’s bottled beer. We gave them back to her, though. I mean, we drink out of bottles. We’re not classy folk.

Shane had three rum and diets, and when she came over to ask if he wanted another he answered “no, I’m driving.”

Me: Usually the answer to that is “well, I’m driving, so yes.” What’s happened to us?

All said and done, mine and Shane’s bill for the night was $38. Not too shabby for an app, two fairly large burgers with sides of chips, two ciders and three mixed drinks. In a stroke of irony, the mixed drinks were actually only .50 more than my bottled cider. Lesson learned there, I guess. For the next revisit, of course.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Ted

Steph

Shane

Blue Willow Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato