Well that’s a mouthful.
If this place looks familiar, it’s because we were actually here once before. Almost two years to the date, actually. Back when the place was known as Ripper’s Rock House. But then this little TV show called Bar Rescue came along and did a makeover, so we figured it qualified for a revisit. Especially since that specific Bar Rescue episode airs in just a few weeks, we agreed this would be the perfect time.
Ted actually called an audible on his original pick for tonight, which was some Italian place in Canton. But then we got stuck in traffic trying to get there, which gave us plenty of time to exemplify our worries that this place could be another Gus’s Chalet (a concern I had voiced to Ted in text earlier in the day, after being rather unimpressed with their website) and before we knew it we were hopping across four lanes of standstill traffic (in true “pardon-me-excuse-me-I-have-my-blinker-on-can-I-just-squeeze-my-small-vehicle-through-here” style) to get off at a random exit and Google Map our way through the non-highway and somewhat ghetto streets to Traveler’s.
But seriously, can we just for a minute about this new name? WTF. I mean, John Taffer may be a genius at firing key staff members, increasing productivity and making a place look and feel desirable again … but let’s go back to Marketing 101 here – if they can’t remember the name, they won’t come back. I mean, really. Tim Owen’s Traveler’s Tavern. It’s a tongue twister. May as well call the place “Simon Sells Seashells By the Seashore.” It sounds about the same rolling off the tongue.
I mean, I’ve been talking about this place for all of about four paragraphs now, and I already managed to shorten the name to just “Traveler’s.” I get why Tim’s name is there (former front man of Judas Priest, Akron boy, part owner of the place, etc) – but it’s just not catchy. How about “Traveler’s Tavern … by Tim Owens”? Or “Tim’s Travels?” Or “Owen’s World Tour”? I mean, really.
Hey Taffer, want to join forces? I’m only half joking.
All that being said, we were a bit disappointed to discover that the place really hasn’t changed much since the last time we were there. It’s a tad bit brighter (maybe?) and the DJ booth was moved closer to the bar (we think?), but there’s still a stage, they still do karaoke on Wednesdays (which means Shane still had to represent and once again sing his signature Adam Sandler song), and they still specialize in wings with exotic flavors from around the world.
So really, we just changed the name. Because that was the worst of our worries? Hmmm.
One thing we did notice was that they got rid of the chalkboard walls that held the names of the draft beers. The only beer list is “right up here, ” said our server, while pointing to her head. Mental note, that’s not really helpful when you aren’t a mind reader. Just sayin’.
In any case, we conjured up our secret mind powers, and ended up with Harvest Patch Shandy for me and Amanda (well, until they ran out in the 4th round, and we had to switch to the hard root beer. #notsurprised). Ted went with a Pumking, and then later a Guiness. Shane, meanwhile, was still on his “girly drink” kick … although I have to give him credit that at least he managed to pick the most manly sounding one on the list. Something containing habanero-infused pineapple juice, some type of vodka or gin, a cayenne pepper garnish on the rim, and an actual habanero pepper in the glass. So, yeah.
Although it was still served in a martini glass, so you know he caught some flack for that.
The drink definitely had some kick to it. I mean, I took one sip and – while it was tasty – ten minutes later my tongue still burned. Although I’m not as crazy as Ted, who took Shane’s dare to eat one of the actual habanero peppers submersed in the drink. His first reaction was “not bad.”
Then about ten minutes later we realized his eyes were watering and half his beer was gone.
Ted: I think that pepper is making my mouth hotter, and it’s not even there anymore.
So needless to say, after one round Shane traded in his martini glass his old favorite, Long Islands. Which he made the mistake of telling the server he wanted “something with more shots” when he ordered, so what he got was pretty much all alcohol.
Sidebar: three rounds later he certainly didn’t seem to complain about that as much. So I guess they served their purpose.
So the guys each went with their own 30-wing-and-fries platter … although Ted tried to rationalize the amount of food and say that us girls could really just eat part of their orders and we could split two 30-wing platters for the table. But that seemed like a lot of math, so we just did our own thing. Thanks anyway, smarty pants.
Each platter could do up to five sauces, so Shane went with the Wild Wasabi, Golden Garlic Bridge, Kentucky Bourbon, Mango Habanero and Little Italy (which is basically a garlic parm).
Ted had the Mango Habanero, Bloody Mary, Kentucky Bourbon, Garlic Express and El Diablo.
Amanda and I each got plates of 12; she had six of the Bloody Mary and six Little Italy, and I had six of the Kentucky Bourbon and six Wild Wasabi.
So … basically we all got various amounts of the same flavors, and the guys did take some of their huge portions home … which means that, yes, technically Ted was correct in thinking we could’ve just split the larger orders. But at the time he presented the idea, it just seemed too much like one of those “if a train leaves the station going 75 mph and another train leaves a totally different station 1800 miles away when the sun it at a 65 degree angle, how long is the shadow on person sitting in the second car of another train we haven’t even told you about yet” math word problems, and let’s face it, no one enjoys those. We enjoy beer. And the two definitely don’t go together.
Plus we like to freak people out with the insane and quite frankly gluttonous portions of food we continuously manage to cram at one table for our small group. You’re welcome.
The wings were various degrees of OK. The Little Italy were voted least liked out of all of them, as both Amanda and Shane said they had no flavor. Never in my life have I seen my husband put down a partially eaten wing and not go back to it … until he tried those. Yeah. That should tell you something. He took that batch home to “doctor up” when he reheats the left overs. Amanda got through hers only with the help of a side of blue cheese.
Shane raved about the Wasabi right off, but the first one I tried I wasn’t too thrilled with – I later realized that was because it barely had any of the sauce on it. Once I actually got one that the sauce touched, they were pretty tasty.
The Kentucky bourbon was also a favorite. The pieces of bacon on the top totally made the whole thing worth it.
Amanda said the Bloody Mary was spicy, but Ted tried his and didn’t think so. Of course he had just eaten a habanero pepper that had been immersed in habanero-infused alcohol, so he may not have had any taste buds left in his mouth at that point. Take that as you will.
All in all, Traveler’s was a fun atmosphere – and definitely and not as scary as our last visit, when some random girl tried to get Amanda to split fries with her and the started talking about her bra. I wish I was kidding. The place this time around was an interesting mix of people, everything from the hard core heavy metals group to post-work-office crowd, to the obvious barflys, to the family who looked more dressed for church than a dive-ish bar that serves wings.
And we’re happy to report that the karaoke proved to be as interesting as last time, with a whole new range of singers to scratch our heads over. I mean, really, where else will you see an 80-year-old doing Sinatra, followed by a lady completely overdoing Alanis Morissette in a nasily voice, followed by a leather jacket clad guy singing Billy Idol (see also: cliche), and topped off by a guy who looked like John Malkovich but whose voice sounded like Kermit the Frog and who kept singing Weird Al songs. All in a bar owned by a former lead singer of a heavy metal band.
Picked by: Ted
Drinks: If you’re telepathic, they have a huge beer selection. If you’re not, well, just throw a few names out there and see if something sticks. Beware of the strong pour on mixed drinks, though. Apparently John Taffer didn’t teach them well enough.
Food: If you like wings, you’re in the right place, as there’s bound to be something on the menu that pleases you. While we didn’t try anything else, the burgers and sandwiches we saw coming out to other tables looked to be on the delicious side.
Service: Gotta give props to a server who can roll with the drunk guy at the table who just finished singing an explicit Adam Sandler song to the bar. I mean, really.
Overall: Well, drunk Shane proclaimed we have to go back EVERY WEDNESDAY so he can sing. So there’s that. But even so, while the wings weren’t the best we’ve ever had (and I think that was the consensus the last time we were there as well), the change in atmosphere and clientele may just be enough to keep this place in the running for a return (or would it be return-return?) visit.
Next Pick: Shane