WTGW 5/2/18: REVISIT – The Twisted Olive, Green

Standard

When Northeast Ohio graces you with a summerlike evening in early May – bonus points for it being on a Wednesday – you go in search of the best patio you can think of first and ask questions later.

Well, I mean, OK, yes – we did ask one question, which was, of course, “which one should we go to.” As cool as it would be, we all didn’t just look at each other and telepathically infer one particular patio we should visit. Although I think that approach might’ve been easier than us attempting to remember the best area patios in the ten minutes before we walked out the door. Crazy how we can visit so many restaurants, but ask us for a recommendation for a specific type of place – because, I mean, you would think a group of people who go out every week to different places would be good folks to know these types of things – but instead suddenly our memories empty and we become deer in headlights.

Try it the next time you see us.

In any case, Ted finally stepped up to the plate and decided on a revisit to The Twisted Olive – which we all agree does have one of the best patios in the area, albeit a little fancier fare than our usual WTGW options. And it’s been a hot minute – or I guess really about two years worth of hot minutes – since our last visit so it was definitely worth another try.

We requested patio seating when we arrived (duh), and ended up on the downstairs patio this time round, as the hostesses mentioned that the upstairs one “wasn’t full,” but that the server was “a bit overwhelmed.” Um, OK. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but if it means we’ll get better service on a different patio then I’m all for it.

By the end of the night I think we all agreed that hadn’t exactly been the case, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Also, side note – does a place really need three hostesses for a Wednesday night? I mean, I get a weekend. And sure, it was probably a bit busier than usual with the summery weather. But three? Seems maybe the extra person might’ve been better served assisting the overwhelmed server on the upstairs patio, but what do we know.

Anyway.

Turns out that the downstairs patio doesn’t have quite the view of its upstairs sibling. I mean, for one, it’s not elevated at all – so instead of being able to overlook the water and nature area that are behind the restaurant, you kind of just get a lateral view of it. And, spoiler alert, it’s not all that enticing. It’s kind of like having dinner at that friend’s house who has a really nice backyard.

And then also because, well, its literally beneath the upper patio. So instead of truly dining outside, it was more like we just kind of ended up hanging out in an Italian garage. Awesome.

Although mental note to keep this option in mind for those evenings when the temperature is decent and you’d really love to sit outside, but are deterred thanks to the threat of a random passing rain shower.

So there’s that.

We remembered The Twisted Olive being on the fancier end of things from the last time we visited – which we all know equates to lesser amounts of food arriving on your plate in a fancifully arranged way. So as we were looking over the menu I pulled up the post from our 2016 visit to take a look at what we’d ordered last time around.

Shane, moments before I read to him what he ordered at that visit: Oh, scallops, those look delicious.
Me, reading from the 2016 post: “… and then was instantly disappointed as soon as his plate was set in front of him. His comment after the server left was that he was waiting for someone else to walk up and bring him his main course instead of the appetizer portion.”
Shane: So maybe pizza then.

This blog clearly exists if for nothing else than to remind us of our previous dining mistakes.

While we waited on the jury to reconvene in the matter of our main meals, we of course opted for appetizers. Because, well, us. I mean, really. Like any explanation is needed.

Ted got the hummus. He said it was just OK. Probably because it came with salsa mixed in – which some might consider a bonus, but Ted clearly did not. I didn’t try it, but I agreed that it did seem to be a strange pairing. Also, a little warning next time maybe? But the veggies and chips were tasty.

Why is the hummus hiding behind salsa?

Cassi went with the calamari, which Shane had of course ordered on our last visit (surprise!) and seemed to be OK with. However, after careful consideration this time around we all agreed that the dish now seemed to have a special ingredient not mentioned on the menu … pine needles. Sounds weird, I know, but go ahead and order it, take one bite, and tell us we’re wrong about this. I dare you.

Maybe someone just rubbed an air freshener over it

Maybe we shouldn’t have said last time that it “there was really nothing special or different about the dish to distinguish it from any other place we’ve had it before.” I feel like the chef took that as a personal challenge to come up with something we definitely would remember. Too far, chef guy. Too far.

Shane and I won the app lottery with the loaded chips, though. No hidden pine needles or salsa in this dish. Just the right amount of delicious toppings.

There are chips under there, we swear

We also remembered from our last visit that the basket of complimentary rolls set on the table with the appetizers were one of our favorite things about The Twisted Olive. Too bad this time they rolled them in chicken wing grease and coasted them in finely diced onions before serving them.

I kid. They were exactly the same as the last visit. Thank god they didn’t go the “calamari challenge” route on those, or else I think Ted, Shane and I would’ve legit cried when we tried them. I think we all had like four each.

We may or may not have had two more baskets of these. Don’t judge.

For his meal, Ted got the Apple and Fig side salad to go with his crab cake sliders. He had the salad come out ahead of the sandwich. Or at least we think that’s what happened. We saw the server set it down, but then before I could pick up my camera to get a photo of it, it seemed to mysteriously disappear.

Perhaps they should’ve called it the “so good you’ll devour it in two minutes flat” salad

Clearly he hated it.

About two seconds after this photo he also used a piece of bread to clean all of the dressing remnants off the plate, which left it looking like it went through the dishwasher. I think the server was slightly surprised when he came around to collect plates and found a shiny clean one sitting in front of Ted.

Ted commented that he could order the full sized salad and have it be a filling meal. He also said he wasn’t exactly sure what all was in the dish, but it was good. So good, in fact, that he didn’t even take a sip of beer until the salad was gone. Which we all know is not how things operate in our group.

Shane: Something wrong with your beer there, buddy?

And then by the time his crab cake sliders arrived – which Ted had passed up on our last visit because they sounded like they would be too small and not filling enough – he said he was almost too full from his hummus salsa and salad to eat them. Seriously, what is happening here? What parallel universe are we living in where Ted leaves most of the fries on his plate and barely manages to eat two mini-sandwiches?

That wouldn’t be enough food without the other two courses already consumed

It’s like we hardly know this new person.

Cassi meanwhile also got the crab cake sliders, but because her app tasted like a Christmas tree and she skipped the invisible salad course, she was able to enjoy her entire meal. She got the mac and cheese as a side, and declared it delicious after just one bite. That’s high praise.

Shane said the sliders looked like baby sandwiches. I think that’s the idea, but good call.

Over on mine and Shane’s side of the table we had a little pizza party going, as we both went with that for our meals. Truth be told the two of us most definitely could’ve just shared one pie, but we all know by now how Shane feels about the notion of sharing food, so I didn’t even broach that topic.

Instead we each got one of the two pizzas on the menu with the word “Spicy!” next to them: the Twisted for me (pepperoni and banana peppers), and the Sicilian for Shane (sausage).

And when they arrived I suddenly had flashbacks of the great sheet pizza debacle of Belleria a few years back.

It actually looks bigger in person

They picked those banana peppers off the spicy tree for sure

Needless to say we each ended up taking several slices home. Well, I took several home. Shane took a few.

Something else Shane would’ve taken a few of were beverages, while we were still sitting at the table eating of course. But our server – you know, the one who was NOT supposed to be “a bit overwhelmed” – kind of seemed to forget about the world underneath the main patio, and was pretty much non-existent outside of dropping off plates at our table. Or miraculously whenever Ted’s drink was empty – which, as we’ve already established after the salad incident, wasn’t all that often.

I will say, though, that we were highly entertained by one of the other two tables seated in the underworld with us … three teacher-slash-moms who openly discussed their dating lives at a volume that might have been less obtrusive had there not been more than a few empty cocktail glasses on their table. The 35+ minute conversation about the merit of baths and showers was especially stimulating. We were all a bit sad to see them leave, although giggling quietly to ourselves was becoming increasingly difficult.

Cassi

Steph

Shane, whose rating is indicative of his lack of beer throughout the evening

Ted, who probably should’ve given a higher rating since his beer was full more often than anyone’s

 

Advertisements

WTGW 4/4/18: Iron Grill, Akron

Standard

This week I took a chance and picked a place in Shane’s self-professed neighborhood of Ellet. So of course we all crossed our fingers that there would be more than two items on the menu.

Are you sick of that joke yet? Shane sure is.

Despite the giant sign on the side of the main road advertising Iron Grill, the place is a bit challenging to find. We pulled into what we thought was the strip plaza that the sign was advertising, only to discover three other restaurants (that Shane of course instantly declared were “his” and he was picking if they had alcohol – so expect to see those here sometime soon if any of us can actually remember the names of them) … but no Iron Grill. OK. So we pulled back out onto the busy street across four lanes of traffic, only to look over and realize it was around the corner on the other side of the plaza, and that the parking lot could’ve led us there. Oh.

The Iron Grill is … interesting … on the inside. Let’s just say that you don’t usually expect to find chandeliers in an establishment situated at the end of a strip plaza. Or really in this part of town in general. I mean, just a few miles down the road there’s a bar with purple dollar store lamps on every table.

Choose wisely.

The four of us sat in the bar area at a high top meant for six – because, well, you know by now that we order a lot of food. And last week Shane had no place to put his arms, so we took the liberty of spreading out a little this time around.

The first thing that caught our attention (other than the fancy chandeliers) was the impressive list of interesting craft cocktails for only $7.50 each. Keep talking to us, Iron Grill. We’re listening.

And I say listening because reading was rather difficult in some instances, thanks to what appeared to be a low ink cartridge issue at the time of menu printing. Way to mess with people BEFORE they start consuming alcohol. Maybe trade in one of those big lighting fixtures for some new cartridges, no?

Speaking of the menu, can we all just agree that using paper on a clipboard is a trend that should be voted off the island please? It’s like the time we went to The Merchant years ago and the only sound at the table for like 10 minutes was the rustling of pages as we all flipped around furiously trying to figure out our orders. Where did you see that entrée? Flip over the third page … no, wait, that was my third page, yours weren’t in that same order … refer to the yellow paper … oh, you don’t have that one? well, you can borrow mine …

I mean, seriously. It’s like a game of paper Go Fish just to figure out your meal.

Anyway, back to cocktails. So Cassi and Shane ordered the Orange Fire cocktail, which included “house infused jalapeno tequila.” Hmm. Interesting. I got an Iron Grill Sangria, just out of sheer curiousity as to why you would put Jameson in sangria.

Ever the adventurer, Ted got an arrogant bastard beer.

The drinks took long enough to prepare that our server and her trainee shadow (otherwise known as “the person who follows our server around and never utters a word”) could come back over and get our orders before the first round even arrived. That’s highly inconvenient. Did we somehow make our way back to that Mason Jar place in Aurora? Do places not realize that the quicker you provide us with drinks, the more we’re likely to consume, and thus pay for? Unless you’re against making money – in which case perhaps you should take a hard look at your priorities – this seems to be a pretty common sense business model.

You’d also think that after taking half a light year to prepare the drinks, they would at least be correct. *sigh* I guess the universe had an inkling that I wouldn’t enjoy the taste of Jameson in my sangria after all, because my drink arrived as the same order that Cassi and Shane had placed. And because I had been slightly intrigued by that one as well – and also I didn’t want to wait another decade for the bartender to handcraft the correct drink – I just stuck with that one instead of pointing out the mistake.

And it wasn’t awful. I mean, I don’t have the original drink to compare it to, but I wasn’t displeased with this one at all either. We all agreed that our drinks were spicy, but good. Jalapeno infused tequila definitely has a kick to it. I mean, as one would expect.

They had calamari as an app, so of course Shane had to order it, especially after we were denied at the Stowaway a few weeks ago. And, well, we kind of felt like we were denied it here as well, since the dish that appeared in front of us only had about half the amount that one of us would consider an appropriate appetizer portion.

Um, excuse me, why can we still see the plate with a full order?

It looked and smelled great, but overall it was pretty disappointing. The sauce was the same red stuff that you get with an order of egg rolls from the local Chinese take out place.  The sausage mixed in with the calamari was a nice touch and added to the flavor (that’s what she said) but without it we agreed that the dish would’ve been just mediocre, and really nothing different than what we’ve seen other places. In retrospect, maybe it’s a good thing that we didn’t have that much of it after all.

Shane: I expected more of this place.

See what putting chandeliers in your establishment does? Raises the bar, people.

Cassi got the loaded chips, which took forever to come out of the kitchen (do they have the potatoes special delivered fresh from Idaho for every order?) but were well worth it once they finally hit the table.

If you order anything on the menu here, pick these

The chips were crunchy and the toppings added to the overall flavor without just taking over the dish. And unlike the calamari dish, that bowl was seemingly bottomless.

Ted got the hummus, after I declared that I finally managed to change my taste buds somehow and like hummus again after all these years.

Ted – maybe now I own’t get made fun of for ordering it.

Not likely.

So healthy. Is this allowed?

Another nice presentation with the hummus platter. The pita was super soft, like biting into a cloud. And again, far more food than the calamari. Just FYI. I mean, if you’re keeping score.

Hey, remember that time Ted and Shane ordered a steak special on a Wednesday night? No? I’m shocked, because I have to believe it happens at least once a month. Although I’m not sure why they even try anymore, since nothing will seemingly ever beat The Doug Out.

Yes, that is a challenge to all you restaurants out there. Just sayin.

Anyway, Iron Grill has an 8oz steak for $12 with two sides. Not as economical as many of their Wednesday specials … and seemingly not very filling, seeing as Ted was done with his in like two minutes flat. It’s like we all looked down at our own plates for a moment and then looked up and there was Ted setting down his knife and fork on a clean plate.

I think Ted ordered the St. Patrick’s Day special

They also didn’t have a very good selection for the sides to go with the steak. Ted picked brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. Shane got fries, then shocked us all by ordering a side salad as his second option. What are these vegetables that you speak of arriving at our table in front of the guy who loves fried foods? This was new. But he pointed out that all of the other side options were either vegetables, other types or fries or something else potato based. Good point.

I’ll take “things you usually don’t see in front of Shane” for $1000 please

There’s some meat behind those fries. Honest.

Over on the not-dead-cow side of the table, Cassi and I opted for sandwiches. I got the Hot Italian (because that’s just fun to say), and Cassi got the Philly. Both came with fries.

The guys were immediately jealous when our meals arrived because it seemed like a lot more food on the plates than what their steaks and sides were.

We chose correctly

See, this fills a plate. And a belly.

My sandwich was good. Cassi didn’t seem quite as excited about her food, she only ate about half of half of her sandwich and took the rest home. I probably should’ve stopped eating at half of my sandwich, because I was crazy full after eating the entire thing – but it was so good that I didn’t want to put it down.

Word of wisdom, save yourself the extra $2 and just get the regular fries instead of the special “parmesan truffle fries.” I mean, call me crazy, but $2.00 seems a lot to pay for just a shake of parm cheese and some extra seasoning. I mean, for that price you can run to the local Aldi and get a whole container of cheese that you can just throw in your purse and add on your own. Because, let’s face it, it’s not like the wait staff was anywhere nearby to notice those kinds of shenanigans.

Which leads me to what was probably our biggest gripe about the Iron Grill … the service. Everyone on staff seemed to be moving in slow motion. It was like living in one of those stop action films where things get slowed down to a fraction of the pace for effect. We when the server wasn’t near the table they seemed to magically disappear into some mystic portal where they were oblivious to having tables to check on. Seriously, they were nowhere to be found. I mean, I get that our server was also training someone, but that seems to be the exact opposite of how you would want them to learn, no? Like hey, so you have these tables over here but make sure you hide out in the back when you aren’t specifically bringing something to one of them, so that they can’t find you if they need anything. Just don’t be in sight. Be stealthy like that.

Note taken, Iron Grill. With that philosophy, I’m guessing we won’t be in your sight again for a hot minute, either.

Picked by: Steph

Ted

Cassi

Shane

Steph