WTGW 3/26/19: Hillside Tavern, Mogodore

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey we’re back on the east side again! At another place that’s literally a house in the middle of some farmlands. Cool.

Word of warning: beware of typing the address into Google Maps, as it will first drop you off on Waterloo Road and tell you to make a u-turn straight into the parking lot of a shopping center equipped with not much more than a Giant Eagle and a Johnny J’s … neither of which seemed to be places we wished to dine at this evening.

It only took the work of five educated adults on iPhones to realize that you instead have to keep driving east out to nearly Rt 44. We’re still not really sure how we outsmarted Siri, GoogleMaps and Waze to come to this conclusion, but I feel as though it should be deserving of some kind of a medal.

Our reward instead was The Hillside Tavern, which is quite literally a house, only instead of a front yard it’s a parking lot you just kind of turn into and find a spot.

We’ve been to worse places, trust me.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

I think Jason and Shane would actually say that the real reward lay inside the Hillside Tavern, in the form of the largest beer we think we’ve ever been allowed to order on a WTGW outing.

That’s 34oz of Bud Lite for the drinking. When the server asked what size he wanted, Jason jokingly asked if there was anything larger than 16 oz. And I think we all thought she was joking right back when she replied that there was.

Much like Shane’s answer to the great “that must be sweet” question of 2014 … nope.

Ted’s IPA that only came in 16oz looks like a baby in comparison.

And to think the one on the left is a “tall” in some establishments

In the world of “everything here is supersized,” Cassi and I each got actual soda glasses of tequila and soda. Barware be damned!

It took Ted about 3.7 seconds to glance at the menu and announce that he’s getting the mini corn dogs. OK then.

Less decisively, Shane and I got nachos, while Cassi and Jason got loaded fries. They also followed Ted’s lead on the mini corn dogs. I mean, he was quickly sold so that must mean something, right?

Apparently that half a keg of Bud Lite went to Jason’s head rather quickly, because when Ted’s order arrives at the table, Jason grabs one, saying they look really good and he just has to try one. Like totally forgot his order would be about about two minutes later.

We’ve never claimed to be patient, folks.

We also never officially claimed to prefer warm cheese on our nachos, but I’d like to make that statement right now. Because we learned firsthand that cold nacho cheese is not preferrable in any sense. Our app was pretty much like a big basket of tortilla chips with some cold cheese and a little bit of sour cream. Oh, and “bacon” that seemed more like chip chopped ham than the crispy bacon pieces I believe we were both envisioning. Like, you do know you need to cook that first before serving it, right?

It seemed like something drunk Steph might’ve concocted in her college apartment at about 3AM after stupidly passing on a trip to Taco Bell on the way home from the bar.

We chose poorly.

Oh, and the loaded fries? Yeah, samsies, just replace the chips with fries.

Oh the variety. I can hardly stand it.

So they’re big on originality here. Noted.

Next time, mini corn dogs for everyone. They were the clear winner of the appetizer party this evening.

Who would’ve guessed little breaded hot dogs would make us so happy?

Moving on.

Cassi was the odd man out this evening, ordering a steak Philly.

There’s meat under all that cheese. I hope.

The rest of us went with wings.

I got 12 of the garlic parm. They were, um, interesting.

Let’ just say that I’ve never seen a garlic parm sauce to be quite so creamy. Or white.

*insert obvious off-color joke here*

But really, WTF? Part of me wants to ask how this was created, while part of me, well, just tried not to think about it and actually eat my meal.

I also got chips. They were like someone poured them out of a bag but them added seasoning to them so it was like they “made” them in house. Eh, OK.

But if you put seasoning on them, it makes them “fancy”

I mean, at least they could’ve given me a tub of store bought French Onion dip to go along with them.

Shane got 12 of the “dry rub” which, when asked, was explained that it’s kind of a spicy Cajun. Which begs the question, why not just put that on the menu then?

Details.

Ted got hot garlic.

Jason got honey mustard, but only six.

The guys also decided that they needed coney dogs to go along with their wings. Because if it’s not wings and burgers with this group, it may as well be wings and hot dogs covered in chili, right?

I mean clearly it’s been established already that it’s a night for variety.

Shane and Jason each got two, and Ted – full on mini corn dogs, apparently – just decided on one.

So when the wings arrive and they’re quite literally on the jumbo side, Ted announces that he’s really glad he didn’t opt for two coney dogs. And Jason was glad he only got six wings, instead of 12.

Shane: Me too. Oh … wait.

Let’s just say that the size of the wings may have been their best quality. The taste was just OK. Shane and I – who had already decided to split our wing orders because we were both indecisive on the same flavors – kind of ended up with a Goldilocks situation, as my wings didn’t seem to have enough flavor, while Shane’s had too much seasoning.

We finally determined that if we just took them home and mixed them together we’d probably get the best result. I think I ate five wings total between the two flavors, and Shane maybe had about the same amount, as did Ted. If not less – because, well, coney dogs.

And did we mention the size of the wings?

THE WHO (we saw)

Our server wasn’t exactly winning our hearts and friendships this evening with her briskness and – well – non-masked annoyance to our questions. She seemed irritated that we didn’t know our order five minutes after we sat down in a place we’ve never been to before. Sorry, our bad. Forgive us for being new and not harnessing our telepathic abilities to pre-read the menu that you don’t have available on a website anywhere. I mean, it’s only 2019. No need to put yourself out there on a platform that most people use to advertise their businesses these days. Cool.

It didn’t help that the food was delivered in batches as it was cooked – so she was probably none too thrilled to have to continue returning to our table when the little “food’s up” bell rang every two minutes for a good stretch of time. Again, sorry. We like food.

But her demeanor was contradicted by a group of guys standing outside who greeted us with a hello and welcome, as well as a guy behind the bar (an owner, perhaps? he seemed to know everyone there) who gave us the same greeting as we were choosing our table, and also yelled a goodbye and thanks for coming in when we left. So that’s a bit of a confusing vibe for a newbie.

I mean, lets all understand – Hillside Tavern is definitely a locals kind of place. The crowd dress code was almost exclusively hoodies and work boots, and I can imagine it being the type of place that boasts a parking lot full of snowmobiles rather than shutting the doors when we get hit with a foot of northeast Ohio snow. But part of that is due to location. I mean, it’s almost like your neighbor throwing a big party. And charging you for food and drinks.

Which brings me to …

THE HOW (much we paid)

Seems a little pricey for essentially wings and beer, no? Well, and the coney dogs, and the college frat party nacho app. But still.

I think we can all agree that the best deal of the night was the giant 34oz beers for only … wait, what’s that? $5 each?!? OK, that’s a steal.

I mean, knowing now the size of the wings and the deliciousness of the mini corn dogs, I bet we could come back and just get those two things, plus about six giant beers, and walk out spending less than we did this evening.

THE WHY (they may not see us again)

So the food was OK, the atmosphere the same (minus the crabby waitress) – but to go that far again for food that we had to take home to doctor up may not be in our cards. Plus GoogleMaps may be on to us now and never let us find the place again.

But, I mean, those $5 giant beers.

The best solution may be to make this a stop for a last call drink whenever we end up out this way for another pick. It’s like a reward for our travels.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

When your table is near the men’s room and we start doing photos while you’re inside. Sorry.

Steph

Ted

Jason

Cassi

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WTGW 9/27/16: The Basement, Sagamore Hills

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Once upon a time (like last summer), in a land far, far away (OK, not really) Ted pulled up lame for his turn to pick, and chose the newly opened Fairlawn location of Ray’s Place, when we had just visited the Kent location like a year and a half earlier.

And of course was teased, mercilessly and mostly by Shane, for his complete lack of originality.

I mean, not as much he’s been teased for his notorious Gus’s pick – I doubt anything can truly top that beating – but still.

Anyway, fast forward to now … and note the irony of Shane choosing the Sagamore Hills location of The Basement, a place we last visited a different location of … oh wait, what’s this? … yep, about a year and a half earlier.

Hi, Pot? Meet my friend Kettle. I think you might have some things to say to one another.

So, the last time we went to The Basement, it had been Amanda’s pick, and we visited the Waterloo location in Akron. I remember we all liked the place, and in true us fashion we all vowed we would go back soon … but then promptly forgot all about the place every time one of us asked another where we should go to eat.

Story of our lives, people. For reals.

Although, truth be told, as I think back on it now really the only things I can recall about that particular pick were that 1) it was really dark inside the place with total Dance Party USA lighting going on at 7pm on a Wednesday, and 2) they had funnel cake fries.

Oooh, funnel cake fries. Hmm, maybe we can forgive this pick after all.

We’ll get back to that in a minute.

So the first thing I noticed at the Sagamore Hills location is that it’s missing the neon swirly lights and cavernous darkness of the Waterloo location. It’s still kind of dark – but hey, it’s a sports bar so really you’ll have that. We don’t need gymnasium lighting at a place that serves drinks until 2am. Seriously.

Ted, Shane and I got there after Jerrid and Amanda (no surprise), which meant we had some catching up to do in the drinking department. Especially when Jerrid had been drinking Jack & Cokes prior to our arrival. But at least that translated to him being on good terms with the bartender by that point, so there’s that.

We also had the luck of sitting at the cool round table attached to the end of the bar. I’ve never seen anything like this anywhere else but I have to admit it’s brilliant. It’s like if the bar had an open air gazebo built on the end of it. Or like the bar and a high top table had a baby. Or like someone just took a round high top table and glued it to the corner of the bar. Or like …. yeah, I’m out of comparisons. Just know that it was cool, and really pretty much a creation I’m surprised one of us hasn’t proposed anywhere else yet. We’re clearly slackers.

The special was buckets of five domestic bottles for $8, so that of course got mine and Shane’s attention. We should mention that this was also Shane’s first time drinking beer since his return from Vegas last week (see also, why we didn’t go anyplace new last week), where his body apparently hit the “full” meter on acceptance of malt beverages.

Glad to see that finally reversed itself. We were worried.

Ted got the Lagerheads Octoberfest on draft. Ah, Lagerheads. I miss that place. I think we all miss that place. Well, except Shane, who curses that place like the devil after something he ate there didn’t play nice with his stomach on our second visit back. Needless to say, we haven’t been able to return since it rendered him completely incapacitated for Thanksgiving 2015.

Anyway.

We took forever to place our orders because – as usual – everything on the menu looked freaking amazing. Cue Amanda’s “I’m so hungry, I’m eating everything” line.

Ted decided on the mini corn dogs for an app. Because who doesn’t love bite sized fair food? IT’s brilliant, really. Although when he ordered, the server corrected him that the real name of the food is “Mini Ha Has.” Um, OK. WTF does that even mean? Why are corn dogs funny? Why not just name them what they are instead of trying to be cute?

Who doesn't love fair food?

Who doesn’t love fair food?

Whatever, they were good, that’s all we need to know.

I got the fried mushrooms for an app. Because someone else had to represent with the fried food. I mean, come on. What’s happened to us and our old tableful of fried appetizers? For shame.

It's not a WTGW without deep fried stuff

It’s not a WTGW without deep fried stuff

For dinner Ted got the Twice Baked Hot Hand Kaluger Wings. Try saying that five times fast. Again – can we stop with the complicated names here? In any case, while I’m still not really sure what all of that means,Ted was happy to have ordered them, and said they were delicious.

But what does the twice baked really do?

They look like regular wings, no?

I guess the whole “twice baked” thing is some special way of cooking the wings (I’m gonna bet they put them in the fryer again once the sauce is on them, but that’s just me trying to be logical) – but whatever it is I guess it’s worth the wait and the extra charge for doing so. So, score.

I built my own flatbread (ambitious, I know) with pepperoni, mushrooms, banana peppers and cheese. It was good, but a touch too crispy for my liking. I prefer a little more doughy. But that’s just me.

A lovely pizza all for me

A lovely pizza all for me

Shane got the “Vito Corleone” pizza – which, in keeping with the themes of complicated names, really translates to “pizza with a lot of crap on it.” Seriously. Like four kinds of meat, some banana peppers, olives, onions … I think there was some dough and sauce involved, too, but I honestly couldn’t see it underneath all the other stuff.

There's a lot of meat going on there

There’s a lot of meat going on there

He also got six of the Sweet Heat Boneless wings – because, you know, we strive for ordering enough food to feed not only our group but also the immediate tables around us. (Case in point, the server actually started to walk away before Amanda put her order in – I guess he assumed we’d pretty much over-ordered already, even though there was still one person who hadn’t spoken yet). In any case, Shane had gotten those same flavor of wings the last time we went to The Basement, and remembered he liked them a lot. But alas, he was not so much a fan this time around. Maybe it’s because the last time he got the regular and not boneless … but this time he said they just didn’t have much flavor.

Dry rub + boneless = pass

Dry rub + boneless = pass

But he did eat them all – because, I mean, really, we don’t waste food here. But he did end up taking half the pizza home. So that makes two weeks in a row with doggie bags. Who is this person?

Jerrid got the Kaluger Chicken Flatbread Pizza and the Parm Ranch wings. He was a big fan of the Kaluger sauce on the pizza, as well as the wings. Although he also joined the “eyes bigger than stomach” club for the evening, throwing the last few pieces of his flatbread into Shane’s take home box.

Wait, is that melted cheese? I'm confused

Wait, is that melted cheese? I’m confused

Props for the presentation

Props for the presentation

Amanda got the Meatball Philly. It was good, but huge. Also, in looking back to the last time we visited, it appears that was the same thing Ted ordered that time around … only the photos look quite a bit different. Ironically his main gripe then was that the sandwich had too much cheese – which, I mean, this is Ted, so really ANY cheese is too much cheese – but looking at Amanda’s it doesn’t seem like they piled it on like they did with Ted’s … or really at all. Hmmm.

Meatball sub, circa 2015 and another location

Meatball sub, circa 2015 and another location

Meatball sub, a year and a half - and much less cheese - later

Meatball sub, a year and a half – and much less cheese – later

Maybe they read this blog and heeded Ted’s complaint? Interesting. I mean, of all the things we’ve complained about over the years, THAT’S the one thing that someone changed? NEVER TAKE AWAY CHEESE. Seriously people. That’s like rule #1 of life in general.

So remember how I mentioned the funnel cake fries being one of the main things we raved about from our last visit, and how much we were all looking forward to them this time around? Yeah, we never got around to ordering them.

I KNOW, RIGHT!?!?!

WTF is wrong with us? I mean, that was half the reason Shane put himself in the line of fire and chose a repeat place.

We’re seriously slipping.

So I guess just based on that alone, we have to put this place on the revisit list, right? I mean, it’s only fair.

But even funnel cake fries aside, The Basement is still a great sports bar, and I for one liked this location much better than the other one we visited. There were lots of TVs for sports, our bartender was great and the prices were good. What more can you ask for?

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane (is he picking his nose?)

Shane (is he picking his nose?)

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Update – maybe it was because we mentioned the place in this post, but the night we got home from The Basement Shane was stricken with the same stomach bug he came down with last time we ate at Lagerheads – the one that still makes him shudder every time we even mention the name of the place. He was up all night throwing up, and even had to go into work late so he could get some sleep after visiting the bathroom floor for most of the night. Ick. So I guess he and I are at least off the return invite list for this place. Rats.

Funnel cake fries, I’ll miss you. Send postcards.