WTGW 10/18/17: Jilly’s Music Room, Akron

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We really should’ve had an inkling about what this night would hold when we had to get around two road closures and a near miss accident just to arrive at Jilly’s Music Room. Because all great nights start with cheating death, no?

So once we finally got there imagine our disappointment to find that the place was packed and we weren’t able to even get in the door.

Just kidding. We were actually the only ones there. At 7PM on a Wednesday. We had to ask as we walked in if, in fact, they were actually open, because we were a bit surprised to find not a single soul sitting at the bar or at any of the many tables. I mean, I get that the place is a “music room,” so they host bands, open mic nights, special events, etc – and I get that those things start later in the evening. But they also serve food, so we thought it odd that at dinner time they were completely vacant.

Spoiler alert: there’s a very good reason for that. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

So we were told to sit anywhere. Uh, thanks for that. We’ll do our best not to take all of the choice locations, what with the line following behind us and all.

All this being said, imagine our surprise when it took a hot minute for someone to come around with menus. Let’s see, we’re the only patrons here, you talked to us as we came in, you watched us sit down, you know there are no menus of any kind on the table … but yeah, sure, take your time coming around with menus at a place we’ve clearly never visited. Good plan.

Drinks were rather expensive. At least the specialty mixed drinks were anyway. But then again that turned out to be the theme of the evening. Foreshadowing, I guess.

Ted went with an IPA, Cassi got a tequila and soda, Shane went with a Jameson and ginger, and I chose a cider.

Oh, wait, scratch that, they “forgot to order more,” so no cider for me. Guess that curse falls back in my lap.

So the server brings back the drink menu along with everyone’s round of drinks so that I can pick something else … and then pretty much everyone was ready for round two by the time she came back to check if I’d picked anything else out. I must not look thirsty.

After these past few weeks, I have to believe we’ve been cursed by the spirit of awful servers.

So Jilly’s, I believe, falls under the “fancy” category of our WTGW choices. Not only is it a music place, it also features “all gluten free fare.” That’s a far cry from our usual greasy burgers, cheesy pizzas and deep fried wings. Leave it up to Ted to discover this strange world. How did they allow us inside this place anyway?

Shane and I got the potato chips and breaded mushrooms (yes, gluten free breading) as apps.

Gluten free breading does not photograph well

We almost didn’t get the mushrooms, as it seemed a bit much to order two appetizers – even for us. But let me just tell you how glad we were that we did. Because heed this little tip, even though the server will tell you that the potato chips are enough to serve two … well, she’s lying. Or she means two people who only eat one potato chip a piece. I guess people who eat gluten free also eat smaller portions?

Fancy chips not made for two

Cassi got the fried pickles (which, like last week, still aren’t magically free) and a caprese salad. Both were embarrassingly small. Five seconds after those items arrived at the table she was already planning to order more food.

At least they give you both chips AND spears.

The smallest salad in the universe. For $7.00

The curse of “not having things you want to order” quickly passes on from me to Shane, as he chose the kielbasa for his dinner – but then had to re-pick after the server reappeared and said that unfortunately they couldn’t serve that tonight because “it was still too frozen to cook.” Um, what now? Is this the first night this place is open? Were they not expecting people to eat and drink tonight?

They offered him the steak skewers instead. Which sounds OK, but turned out to be the size of a small appetizer.

Far from Ted’s meat on a stick

He also got the signature wings. And while you know how I like to pick on the boys for always ordering enough food for a small army, this time it was well warranted – and still not enough food to even begin to constitute a real dinner.

I mean, look at these wings.

Dainty little wings

Did these come off of specially bred miniature chickens? Were they meant for a children’s menu? I’m so confused.

Ted got the buffalo chicken slider and the steak slider. OK, so you know how sliders are like cute, mini-burgers? Well, these were like mini-sliders. I swear they were each one bite. Because that’s a meal.

That little thing that looks like a charcoal briquette is actually a slider. Yes, seriously.

It’s also worth mentioning that that plate pictured above is $12. For two (mini) sliders. Anyone going to get a meal at Jilly;s should keep that photo above at the front of their brain. Also, I feel the need to relive the $7 steak special story right here for some reason.

Ted also got the red chili wings. You already know where this is going. He said were good, but he needed like seven orders of them to constitute a meal.

Put some meat on those bones, chickens

I got the street tacos. Which when they arrived looked to be the most food out of anyone at the table – including Cassi, who later ordered a brie flatbread just to actually not starve her way through the evening.

Third order is the charm for Cassi, I guess

But they just weren’t that good. Gluten free tacos should not be a thing, I’ll just say that right now. They tasted burnt. The salsa was tasty, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about the meal.

There are tacos under all that greenery, I swear

So let’s recap: anything decent tasting arrived in a portion size fit for an anorexic model, and the one item that looked to be enough food to be considered a dinner portion was awful. We’re totally winning at this week’s pick, no?

Back to my mixed drink that I was finally able to order … it ended up being way too sweet. It sounded really good on the menu (black cherry juice, sage syrup, vodka), but it was like drinking a glass of straight fruit laden with sugar. I guess maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that by the time it arrived there at the table there was really only time for one round on my end?

Cassi and Shane did say that their mixed drinks were well made. That was pretty much the only good thing we could say for the evening. Well, and that we stopped at Dante’s Game Day Grille on the way home to get real beer (for under $5 a glass) and some French fries (a giant basket for just $4! We felt like we’d just hit the lottery) just to redeem the evening.

Overall the presentation at Jilly’s is really good – the food looked gorgeous when it arrived at the table, but the taste and the portion size just don’t even come close to matching the price. It’s definitely far overpriced for what you get – I mean, come on, $7 for a bite sized slider? – and unfortunately the “atmosphere” isn’t enough to redeem that.

Sorry, Jilly’s – you definitely aren’t music to this group’s ears.

Picked by: Ted

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Ted

Jilly's Music Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 10/4/17: Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern, Solon

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Hey kids, today is National Taco Day! Which means we took WTGW … someplace that totally doesn’t sell tacos. Right.

We switched up special guests this week, since my Uncle Dan is in town from Arizona and requested a chance to join our esteemed group for a WTGW out. Or, uh, something like that.

You might have noticed we switched up the picking order this week, as it was supposed to be Ted’s week this week. But with Dan staying in Eastlake, we decided to try to keep things a little more central – so Shane and Ted switched up picks this week since Shane was going toward something in Solon for his next pick anyway.

Technical details, I know.

Speaking of, I tried to tell Shane that he had actually been to the Rusty Bucket before – many years ago, on our way to a football game in Cleveland, we stopped here with some friends. He didn’t remember, until we pulled into the lot in front of the restaurant and suddenly it all started coming back to him. Sort of. So I guess this is a bit of an unorthodox pick, but whatever.

Anyway.

The very bubbly and young hostess told us as we walked in that this was her second day. So of course we countered back that this was our first time ever visiting (well, OK, considering what I just told you technically that was a lie, but just run with it). And so the hostess says to us “well be sure to tell your server it’s your first time here when she greets you, because you can get an order of free pickle chips.”

You have our attention.

Or HAD our attention, until we realized that our young, new hostess may want to clarify that statement with the server before she makes those kinds of promises. More on that later.

Our drinks took forever. It was like they were brewing the beer themselves in the back room. And then what Ted and Dan thought would arrive in draft form actually arrived as bottles. I mean, it’s nice of them to go through the motions of transferring the beer into bottles, but really the draft would’ve been preferred.

I got the Blueberry Bella drink – which, while very good, wasn’t really worth the seven hours it seemed to take to arrive. Are we waiting for the blueberries to harvest and be carted in from the family farm or something?

It takes a long time to make yourself this pretty I guess

The server also told us that Wednesdays are “Whiskey Wednesdays,” which means any whiskey for $7.00. Shane got super excited … but then realized he should’ve really specified the kind of whiskey he wanted in his drink and not just ordered a generic “whiskey and ginger ale” – since he probably didn’t get much out of that deal seeing as some whiskies aren’t exactly even worth $7.00 to begin with.

Ted got hummus as an app. He said it was OK. It probably would’ve been better if he’d had some sliverware to actually get the hummus onto the pita chips instead of having to facilitate a system of scooping it up with other pieces of pita. Again, technicalities.

Little stingy on the pita, no?

Shane told the server what the hostess told us about the fried pickle chips – he was like “so, we were told by the hostess that if we say it’s our first time here then we get free pickle chips” The server just stared at him, so Shane was like “you know, wink wink … ”

Yeah, turns out they were $8.49. Guess Shane needs to work on his wink. And the servers and hostesses need to work on their communication skills.

Also, they were more like spears. Not chips. Maybe we need to get this place a dictionary, and underline the words “free” and “chips.”

Not chips and not free

Being that it’s national taco day and I’d already gotten tacos for lunch, I went wth the taco salad. Which turned out to be more like a mexican pizza. I guess we can add another word to that dictionary we need to work on. The “salad” was a flat tortilla with beef and beans spread over it, and then lettuce, sour cream and cheese on top.

Fancier than Taco Bell

It was OK. I didn’t eat all of it. I mean, it looks pretty and all, but after consuming about half of it it just didn’t seem worth the effort or calories anymore.

And that, my friends, seems to be the theme of the evening: pretty, but not really worth the wait.

Shane asked our server his usual questions about the best thing on the menu, and was told pizza. Sold. Because, Shane.

It turned out to be just OK. I mean, he ate the entire thing – this wasn’t last week, where everything was made of salt – but he said it wasn’t anything special.

Hey Shane got a pizza. That’s new

Ted got the Wednesday special of beef stroganoff. He said it was good up until about the last few bites, when he ended up with a bite that involved a huge chunk of fat. Mmmm. Nothing says that’s a good dish like the fatty part of some beef. We’re not going for the old 96er here folks.

Those may be the widest noodles I’ve ever seen

Dan got chicken fingers and fries. He pretty much felt the same as Shane.

There are fries under there somewhere

Our service was awful. Our server disappeared for long stretches of time and for no good reason, as there were hardly any other tables in the place. We didn’t even see her helping other tables, she was just plain gone from the floor. Maybe she was in the back chewing out the new hostess who probably sat us in her section when she was about to go home – which, whatever, do what you have to, but maybe just giving the table away to another server is the better option? Just a thought. But then again, she also just didn’t seem interested in interacting with anyone, or being there I general. Because that’s a personality plus.

Compound that with the bar, which took seemingly hours to make one round of drinks. I mean, I could see if it was super busy – but we were nearly the last ones there. Did everyone invite their imaginary friends to dine with them tonight? I must’ve missed that memo.

Case in point: Shane and I ask for another round, as does Dan. Meanwhile, Ted asks for the draft list. Which one would assume means he would like to order something different than what he already has, no? Well so the server comes back with another drink for me and Dan, plus a bottle of what Ted had in the first round (whie he’s still looking over the draft list) and nothing for Shane. Um, OK. Seems something got lost in translation there, no?

So basically, let’s review: the food being nothing particularly memorable, plus bad service … means the Rusty Bucket probably won’t end up on the revisit list. I mean, it seems they fixed up the place since the time years ago when Shane and I last visited .. and it’s certainly no house-turned-bar-that-reeked-of-burger-grease like one of our other previous Solon adventures – but they obviously at still a little, as their name implies, rusty.

Geez I crack myself up.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Dan

Ted

Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/27/17: John’s Bar & Grille, Canton

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I didn’t have a lot of time to do my usual scan of all of the review sites prior to picking a place this week, so I was taking a bit of a leap of faith by choosing John’s Bar. Of course after last week’s limited menu fiasco I figured I couldn’t really do so bad, right?

Eh, not so fast. I started to rethink that philosophy pretty much as soon as we walked into this place, and were hit by the smell of … well, the only way to describe it is “old people” Did we get the door to the nursing home instead? Is John’s Bar really just John’s house and he’s been inviting people over for 80 years?

It was also super quiet, even in the bar area. Another indication that we could easily be the youngest people in the place by a good many decades. I was beginning to get nervous that we were on the level of a certain place that starts with a “G” and we try to avoid naming anymore.

Redemption came in the form of a giant list of craft beers. Whew. At least Ted was happy. He got something so dark that later there was a debate about whether a bug had fallen into his drink … and we couldn’t say for certain if it had or not.

Shane, coming off a weekend where he overindulged in that same substance (minus the potential extra protein from bugs), not so much. He went with a Captain and ginger ale. And later switched to my drink of choice, the ginger peach mule, once he relized mine was yummy and that his mixed drink came in a glass clearly made for people with smaller liver capacity.

Our server started out impressing us when she announced she would bring us some waters while we perused the drink menus … and then, noting the crestfalled looks on our faces, announced “screw water, let’s get the drinks in.” That’s the spirit. And she brought the alcohol out BEFORE the waters, another smart move. Although I messed with her when she dropped the waters off by saying “well FINALLY, there’s those waters we’ve been waiting for” – which made her laugh.

Clearly our alcoholism is worn on our sleeves.

It seemed for a bit that this place had Ted written all over it – first the craft beers, then, on the app menu: steak on a stick. Because we all know Ted loves a meat lollipop.

Wait, that sounds bad.

It took us a hot minute to decide on orders. Because that’s what happens when you have a full menu and not two items like last week.

FYI, that probably won’t get old for a while, so you should probably get used to those jokes now.

Shane and I got the chips and dip for an app.

More dip than chips. Well done

It was good, we were impressed with the fact that they give you more than enough dip for the chips – and we’re generous with our dipping, but still had some left over. The dip had really good flavor to it, but some of the chips were soggy and could’ve been cooked longer.

Cassi got the beer cheese and pretzels. She said it was OK. The pretzels were basically the kind you can buy in a box at the grocery store and microwave for 90 seconds after wetting them down and spreading salt on them. For a place that touts making their own pizza dough that seemed a little odd, no?

These took a little longer than 90 seconds to cook

Ted opted for the calamari with peppers. Which unexpectedly came with cheese baked on top – that’s new, and of course cheese-hater Ted was overly thrilled. It was a fun game watching him scrape that off with each bite.

Never thought to ask for no cheese

But he liked it nonetheless. He said it was spicy and the peppers were especially tasty.

Also noted that there were more items in Ted’s calamari than there were on the entire menu last week. Welcome to the new Gus’s joke. See, I told you this won’t get old for a bit

Shane was less amused than all of us. Clearly.

Speaking of Shane, he had ordered wings as part of his meal, and those were also delivered along with the apps, which of course he wasn’t complaining about. Until he tried them, and proclaimed them the saltiest wings he’d ever eaten. Like saltier than the “salt and vinegar flavored wings he occasionally gets at other wing places. Like he may as well have just dipped his finger in a salt shaker and sucked on that instead.

The high blood pressure special

Mmmmm.

Good thing he had that tiny glass of a mixed drink – and no sign of the server for what seemed like an eternity. It’s like the perfect storm of thirst.

Of course I made fun of Shane when he was complaining about having no drink … as there actually was a full mason jar of water sitting in front of him, that just wasn’t what he wanted to drink. That came back to bite me later, when both Cassi and I ordered round two of our drinks … and hers arrived while mine didn’t. For a very long time. Alcoholic karma.

Shane got a pizza as the rest of his meal, which came with a side salad. Shane’s word for the salad was “mushy.” That’s a new one. And the worst part was that he was actually looking forward to that salad – which may be a first, especially when this wasn’t even at a time when he’s being “healthy Shane.” And then it was disappointing that it was so awful.

Mmm, wilted lettuce. My favorite

Cassi and I each got the “Big John” angus burgers. Which didn’t seem all that big when they actually arrived. Interesting. They were also missing cheese. I guess maybe Ted’s request of no cheese translated to all of us? Yeah, no. The server took them back, and they added cheese to the burgers … and stuck the plates under a hot lamp to melt it. Which kind of ruined the burger by making it more well done and dry, and the bread taste weird. I didn’t eat the bread at all, which if you’ve been following along here you know is something you hardly ever hear from me.

Looks great until you lift the lid and notice it’s missing cheese

Ditto

But at least the fries – which were lukewarm to begin with – then became the proper temperature. Score?

Ted ordered the Grecian burger, which he thought was to be made with lamb meat, but he said tasted just like regular meat. OK. But at least he was happy about the lack of cheese on his. He did say it lacked spices, though.

The not-Greek burger. With no cheese. Or salt.

Which apparently was because they all went to Shane, who said that the pizza – just like the wings – was the saltiest pizza he’d ever eaten. OK, either Shane’s taste buds are tuned to “salt” tonight, or this place just likes to play chicken with people’s salt intakes.

Looks better than it tastes

I mean, why in the world would you put salt on a pizza, of all things? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say “I’ll take the ‘triple your salt intake pizza,’ please.” Shane was convinced that he may not be able to open his eyes in the morning due to the swelling.

Although we had to laugh because when the server came back to check on us and asked specifically how the pizza was (since Shane had asked her if it was a specialty there at John’s and she made a big deal about how they make their own dough), Shane could’ve won an Academy Award for the exuberance with which he gushed about how much he liked it. He even took a few pieces home in a to-go box. Which, if you’re playing along at home – the fact that he didn’t finish his (relatively small) pizza there in the restaurant was a clue that he didn’t like it, so I’m surprised he even bothered to take it home. Guess he wants to give high blood pressure another chance to set in? Awesome.

Remember what I said about 80 year olds frequenting the place? So aside from the weird smells and the quiet and the table of old men behind us clearly having their weekly guy’s night dinner out, there was this exchange at the end of the meal:

Server, pointing to the bread basket on the table with thick slices of Italian bread still in it: So, do you want to take the bread home?
(quizzical looks from around the table)
Server, looking at me an Cassi: Maybe you want to make your husbands french toast in the morning?
(more quizzical looks)
Server: We get a lot of older ladies in and they fight over taking that bread home so they can make french toast for their husbands.
Me: Uh, yeah, if my husband wants french toast he can make it his own damn self
Cassi, after the server walked away: Can we just talk about how many things are wrong with that statement? Like, first of all, we have jobs?

I’ll take questionably sexist bread for 1,000 please

Sorry John – your bar won’t be a revisit.

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Shane and his now least favorite condiment

Cassi

Ted

 

John's Bar & Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/20/17: Springfield Tavern, Ellet

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You guys. You know how we’re always joking around that we’re going to go to a place and order ALL THE FOOD because we’re so freaking hungry?

This week we did just that. That’s right – we actually ordered every. single. thing. they had on the menu.

You’ll be far less impressed, I’m sure, when you hear exactly what that entailed. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So Shane didn’t venture far this week from his last amazing pick of Theo’s. Although I guess we can just be glad that at least this time there wasn’t an elderly person’s walker greeting us as we walked in. A slightly intimidating maze of doors, sure, but no walkers or sloppily drunk women trying to find their way out.

The Springfield Tavern is smaller on the inside than what it looks. You don’t hear that very often, right? Maybe it’s all the doors. I only needed one hand to count all the tables in the place. And even though they were larger tables, this didn’t seem like exactly the type of place that welcomes strangers to just plop down beside you at the same table a share a meal.

There are seats at the bar, too, but those seemed to be reserved for people barely able to open their eyes.

Sounds delightful so far, no? And we haven’t even touched on the patio outside where we pretty much witnessed soft porn as we drove into the parking lot.

Ah, Fun Wednesdays, you never disappoint. Especially considering this was the first time out for our special guest Cassi. I won’t be surprised if she opts to never accept an invitation from us on this day of the week ever again.

There’s no draft beer at this place. Slightly surprising, but we all do enjoy a mixed drink so at least there’s that. Ted orders a captain and ginger ale, the rest of us order our other mixed drinks … and the bartender (who is also the server, because, well, I think my living room is bigger than this entire bar) as she walks away recites our order back to us … and has Ted’s as a captain and coke. Ted seemed unfazed.

Cassi: You know you’re getting a Captain and Coke right?
Ted: Really? I don’t think so.

Sure enough, as soon as she makes the captain and coke she yells over “wait, was that coke or ginger ale?”

Cassi: Told you so.

So she makes the right drink – and of course she and the other bartender (who may or may not have actually been on shift, or perhaps was just there hanging out? We never really figured that one out) didn’t let the captain and coke go to waste. Guess those hard of hearing skills can be put to some good use after all.

More evidence that this is definitely a drinker’s establishment: Cassi and I had ordered tequila and sodas, and they asked which kind of tequila. Cassi asked for Don Julio, and they responded that they aren’t allowed to keep that one at the bar anymore because they usually are the ones to drink it all.

Classy.

So here comes the part where we ask for menus … and are told that they are currently “redoing the menu.” Um, OK. But no fear, we were instead directed to the neon dry erase board above the bar showcasing the two options for food at the Springfield Tavern: burgers (two, with fries, for $7.99), and wings (10 for $9.99). That’s it.

Granted those are usually our staples anyway, but it’s funny how once you’re presented with those as the ONLY options, you kind of don’t want them anymore.

Well, except for Ted apparently, who – when Shane looked around the table and asked if we were OK with this (since obviously his extensive google searching for reviews on this place failed to alert him to this conundrum) – promptly replies “Sure, sounds great to me!”

Well great. Now the rest of us look like jackasses if we say we don’t want to stay. Thanks, Ted.

And so, yeah, we ordered everything on the menu. Shane and Ted – not surprisingly – each got both the burgers AND the wings for themselves, while Cassi and I each opted for wings with a side of fries.

Wings, take one: Hot

Wings, take two: Arizona Ranch

Wings, take three: BBQ

And last but not least, Mild

The wings were just OK. They were pretty large, so that was a nice revelation. So large that Cassi and I each left a few of our 10 in the basket by the time our meals were over. Probably could’ve done without the fries, in that case, but honestly I kind of thought those were the best part of the meal.

I’m a sucker for good fries fresh from the fryer

I thought the mild wings had some kick to them – and I’m usually in the “yes, I like spicy things” camp. Cassi said her BBQ wings had some heat to them also, which is unusual.

Although maybe we were both just being babies that night, because Ted buzzed through his Hot wings like they were pretzel sticks. Guess they didn’t have the same habenero peppers in them that the place formerly known as Ripper’s Rock House  uses in their drinks.

Shane didn’t say anything about his wings, which leads me to believe they weren’t that great.

The burgers were sold to us by the server as being “smallish” -and so that’s why you get two of them with the meal. So I guess I was kind of expecting sliders to show up at our table. Yeah, no. They were actually more like the size of a McDonald’s regular hamburger. Not huge, but definitely bigger than sliders. Like I couldn’t probably eaten one burger with fries and been happy. But that’s just me. Of course the boys placed their entries for the clean plate club, as usual.

Basic burger and bun, repeat

The guys said they were definitely frozen patties, not fresh – again, not really a surprise given the locale and the vibe of the place. But they also said weren’t cardboard flavored. Score? And also that something about the bun made them “sweet.”

Yeah, I don’t get it either, just reporting back what they said. Don’t shoot the blog writer.

We had to ask about the giant prize wheel they have behind the bar, which we could see but not make out the actual prize selections up for grabs. The server told us that it’s $1.00 to spin, and you can win such fabulous prizes as “free parking” (in the lot that we certainly didn’t pay to park in), “$2 fireball shots” (is it still winning if you have to shell out more money to claim it? It’s like those emails promising 45 billion dollars in a South African bank account in your name if only you provide your social security number, birth date and a check for $1,000), and “free beer yesterday” (slight time/space continuum issue there in claiming that, I think). Finally, a place that appreciates sarcasm as much as I do.

Although I think she may have glossed over what happens to the $1.00 you donate to spin. If I had to guess I’d say perhaps it goes the same route as the two “accidental” Captain and cokes she made Ted over the course of the evening.

Feeling lucky that day, Ted threw in $1 to spin. He won free beer yesterday, which he assured us tasted fantastic.

We all agreed that there was decent people watching … and by that I mean there was lots of epic facial hair, and what I can only assume to be regulars that we were glad left well before we also ventured back out onto the roadways. Maybe getting rid of that menu wasn’t such a good choice after all. I should also mention that while the story about “currently redoing the menu” made it sound like this is a temporary situation, the server seemed pretty happy about the fact that there were only two options up for grabs. So who knows if that will actually change back. Or maybe they just need to start offering “free bread and water” on that magic prize wheel of theirs.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Shane

Ted

Steph

Cassi

WTGW 8/23/17: Theo’s Bar & Grill, Ellet

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So as we pulled up to this week’s pick, I made a comment that I think it may well be the smallest building we’ve ever been to. It was like Red Riding Hood walking up to her Grandmother’s cabin in the woods.

It may also potentially be the only place we’ve visited for dinner that you can buy a bag of ice from one of those weird cooler machines located just outside the front door. You know, in case those leftovers need some refrigeration on the drive home, I guess.

Another great first impression:

Aunt Mildred? Are you home?

This was what greeted us as we walked through the front door. Which almost caused Shane to turn and run in the opposite direction, lest his pick be the dive bar version of our infamous Gus’s Chalet. And of course he can’t have that on his record.

Continuing the “we’re just trying to get inside the front door” obstacle course: an older man steering a very drunk, teetering on the edge of passing out older woman through the front door past us.

So far we’re painting a lovely picture, I know. But at least things got better.

The place is definitely tiny inside. But homey, as Shane called it. Maybe in part thanks to these lovely purple-ish table lamps on half of the tables in the place. Classy.

It’s like drinking at your Uncle Joe’s house

I mean, I’m sure they were like $5 each at Big Lots or something like that, but it’s the thought that counts?

Anyway.

We were greeted by quite possibly the softest spoken bartender we’ve ever encountered. It was like she was whispering most of the time. Or maybe we’re going deaf. Either of those are a good possibility. She was super nice, though, and always checked on us when our drinks were low throughout the course of the evening – but every time she left I think we felt like we were on the Seinfeld episode with the low talker.Ted asked about dark beer, and was told there was Shiner Bock, or Yingling, which is “kind of darker.” So, no then. He started with a Shiner and then switched to a jack and coke after the first round.

Shane got a Bud Light and I went with a tequila and soda. Two things to note: they have no draft beer, only botttles … and they pour heavy. I mean, we’re not talking Windsor Pub heavy, but still more than I was expecting.

The menu was bigger than the entire interior of the restaurant, I  think. Very unexpected for a little dive bar. Although when we saw the cook come out of the kitchen and retrieve items from a freezer strategically placed on the other side of the dining room it kind of put things back into perspective a bit.

We tried to order the breaded mushrooms as an app, but were told they were all out. Actually we knew they were all out prior to the low talking server coming to tell us, because we saw the cook consult the freezer, then call the server over to have a little chat. So at least we had time to prepare ourselves for the disappointing news and decide on an alternative. We chose the poppers instead. And calamari. Because, well, all the apps were like $4 each, and we clearly like food, so why not.

The calamari was OK. It was definitely straight from that freezer in the corner, as all the pieces looked like onion rings. And after eating a few of them I identified the breading as being the same as what they use on cheese sticks. So in a way they were really just some onion-ring-cheese-stick-with-no-onion-or-cheese hybrid. Interesting. Kudos to the server for asking us if we wanted some sauce to dip them in, as they usually don’t come with anything. She suggested marinara. I’m thinking after enough requests for that she must have this down pat.

Onion rings or calamari? Your guess.

We were hopeful that maybe the poppers might be homemade instead of frozen, since they arrived looking a bit ununiform – but alas we were wrong. They honestly didn’t have much flavor, which was disappointing. But at least the breading wasn’t the same as the calamari. So there’s that.

Another product of the dining room freezer of wonders

Ted was tempted to order the tilapia entree, since he thought something other than burgers sounded good. But then he noticed the line “if it smells like fish, eat it” on the menu above the seafood section, and that kind of changed his mind a bit. Interesting marketing. If our table was any indication, they may want to rework that.

He went with the Blazin Burger instead. Which the name apparantely doesn’t lie on. He said it was super spicy, that whatever the white sauce was on it (which I think we all thought originally would be some sort of cheese sauce) was really super hot. And that it may even make him sweat. That’s a tall order from someone who once ate a habereno pepper and tried to play it off like it was no big deal

Watch out for that white hot sauce from hell

We asked the server about two burgers on the menu – the Theo’s Best and the Bad Kitty – since both of the descriptions included “lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese and mushrooms.” Like, OK, what’s the difference? Other than a 75 cent price differential anyway. She said one is bigger. And that people always ask her about that. Well, of course, why change the menus, let’s just keep answering questions. Duh.

So I got one and Shane got the other. Mine (supposedly the smaller one) arrived on a regular bun, while Shane’s (supposedly the larger one) was on a hoagie. And when you looked at his from the side you could tell there was more meat in his … but not by much. Like maybe mine was 1/4 lb patty and his was 1/3 lb or something like that.

I mean, it’s 75 cents that separates one from the other, so we get that it wouldn’t be a whole other patty included … but still. It seemed like such a small difference to even warrant two separate line items on the menu. Not to mention stocking two separate sizes of buns. But OK.

That classy lamp messed with my photo skills

Same burger, super sized

We all pretty much agreed that overall the burgers weren’t big enough. I mean, they’re also like $5 each – so I guess we shouldn’t be too picky – but it seemed like they could up the size of the patties overall just a bit. As Ted said, the actual burger was almost secondary to all of the other stuff going on in there. Like you need more meat to compete with all of the toppings. (that’s what she said) He said that he would be willing to pay an extra $2.50 or so to get a whole other patty on the same sandwich, or at least have some sort of option like that for all of the different burgers on the menu. Because, you know, we’re kind of experts on this stuff by now and all.

We also all agreed that the crinkle cut fries (added on for another like $1.25 or $1.50 to each sandwich) were perfect, though. I’m partial to crinkle cuts to begin with, but these ones were done exactly right, crispy on the outside without being mushy on the inside. And they were hot. Perks of a small place, I guess – not much time from kitchen to table.

Theo’s is another of the many places that now has one of those Queen of Hearts drawings on Wednesdays nights (ah, the joys of marketing), so we each ponied up some cash to join in. None of us won, but a guy at the bar has his ticket pulled and the card he turned over earned him $100, so he did want any good alcoholic does … spent his winnings on more booze.

Who knew a little piece of plastic could make people so happy

That worked out well for us, as he announced he was buying the whole bar a round of drinks. Which sounds impressive, until you consider that there were eight people total he was buying for, including himself and his wife. Well, 10 if you count the cook and the server, who also helped themselves to a drink of choice. But hey, we weren’t complaining, and Ted turned around and bought a drink for the winner and his wife in return also to say thank you from our group.

Of course that extra drink left us all a little bit cheerier as we left Theo’s – and it was in some ways a cool little place, but again, as with so many places we visit, not sure if it’s worth the drive to return all that often. However, mine and Shane’s tab, for two mixed drinks, two bottles of beer, two apps and two burgers with fries: $38.75. This is why we love dive bars, folks. We’re cheap dates.

Shane

Ted

Steph

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

 

WTGW 8/16/17: Hibachi Japan,Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

It’s Ted’s pick this week, which means that yet again we started out at one place but had our meal at another. I’m sensing a trend here.

Our first attempt this week was the HiHo Brewery in the new section of Front St in Cuyahoga Falls – which looked to have promise, as it’s in a great space (what appears to be an old garage, it seems?) with plenty of tables inside and a small patio space outside, and a decent list of handcrafted beers. However, the food list is smaller than what we could likely get at one of the food trucks we judged a few months ago. Like unless you want a cheese and meat tray or a giant soft pretzel – or a salad, because that’s what everyone craves when you’re sampling high potency beers, right? – you’re pretty much out of luck. They had one meal that looked somewhat appetizing (the pork sliders) but beyond that we were all at a loss.

So off we went. Ted didn’t even get to guzzle down a draft this time either.

His Plan B – because at least he knows he needs a second option nearby – was the hibachi place just down the street, relocated from another space a little further north on the same street. We hadn’t been to the old place, so we can’t judge based on the former property. And honestly the last time this group went to a hibachi restaurant together was years ago at Wasabi in Fairlawn, and of course since we were all starving (what!?! That’s new, right?) we didn’t want to wait for a cook table and instead just grabbed a regular table and ordered off the full menu instead of hibachi.

So in other words, this is a new experience for us as a group. If you’re keeping track, that’s four years of Wednesdays before we finally sat around a giant open grill and had someone prepare our food right in front of us. And, no, the open kitchen grill at that scary house in Solon that left us all smelling like a grease fire after only 10 minutes inside doesn’t count.

Anyway.

Hibachi Japan looks great inside, probably in part because it’s all new and shiny. And it’s ALL hibachi. Unless you want to sit in the bar and only order sushi, you have to sit at one of the cook tables. Each one seats 10, I think – although our group only ended up being the three of us, another group of three, and a late arriving pair of women. But we only waited about 10 minutes to be seated, so we weren’t complaining.

We found out later that we weren’t blessed with one of the more “fun” chefs, probably due to the fact that we had a smaller/mixed party, and also that none of us were celebrating birthdays. I guess this must be the new Wednesday celebratory hot spot, because I swear we heard no less than four iterations of that song from other tables in the few hours we were there. Just a warning to be prepared for that. And as hard as Ted to convince Shane that he SHOULD be celebrating a birthday this week, unfortunately no servers were summoned to our table for round number five. Nice try.

It goes without saying that we all got the hibachi. I mean, you don’t sit at a giant stovetop where a person is going to freshly grill up meats of various kinds for you and just eat sushi or miso soup, right? Exactly. Ted got the salmon, chicken for me, and steak and scallops for Shane. The meal also comes with soup and a salad to start, and then pineapple sorbet and a fortune cookie at the end. Not a bad haul for about $15-$25 per person.

I should also mention that, according to the menu, there was supposedly something called a “shrimp appetizer” that came with the meal … although we never actually saw that at our table. Which is probably good, seeing as Shane is allergic. And if they did sneak it in somehow then I guess the fact that he’s not dead yet means he’s somehow cleared of that condition? Hmm.

The soup must’ve been cooked in a previously unearthed lava pit near the property, because it arrived with steam pouring out of each little bowl. Mmm, taste bud killer soup. My favorite. But honesty after about 3-4 minutes it wasn’t so awful to try and eat. I think our last few weeks of fried appetizers did more damage to both my tongue and my fingertips. Or maybe they killed them off all together at this point. Hard to say.

It looks so unassuming in the photo

Shane claimed the salad was the “best salad he’s ever had.” Now, he was also really hungry, so I’m not sure how much stock you want to put into that claim. I thought it was pretty much just a small bowl of ready-salad mix poured from a bag with dressing on it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint the flavor of … but I guess when you want to eat your arm off that’s extremely tasty.

Shane’s salad standards are impeccably low

As mentioned, we didn’t have one of the loud chefs that yell and swing knives inches from your face, but he cooked our food well and really that’s what matters. Although he might want to think about speaking up a bit as he does his little show of announcing the different items he seasons each dish with, as I couldn’t hear half of what he said, so in my mind just started considering everything soy sauce and pepper. Staples of a Japanese meal, no?

But, like I said, it all got cooked and was tasty, so who am I to really complain? I don’t need ninja warrior guard wielding a sharp knife all up in my face to enjoy a meal. Just make sure my chicken isn’t questionable and won’t come back to haunt me later, please and thank you.

Tonight’s theme is things that are still partially on fire

See also, why I politely declined when the chef was looking for volunteers in his little “let me throw food at your face while you can wave around like a baby seal trying to catch it” game. Um, no thanks. I mean, that piece of shrimp launched at my face with a knife and spatula directly from a hot grill isn’t going to quench my appetite, thanks. I’ll just enjoy the food you already put on my plate.

There were a few takers, though. I think Shane was slightly disappointed he couldn’t try … but the guy was throwing around shrimp and there’s that whole lethal allergy thing. Ted tried and failed on more than one occasion. The girl at our table with the other party of three finally caught one. So it was pretty much one catch for like 10 attempts at our table. Clearly we’re gifted.

Keep the food on the table please

Speaking of allergies, the pair of ladies next to us (who ended up being a woman with her grown niece) bonded with our group – and in particular, me, since I was seated closest to them – after hearing of Shane’s affliction, since they said they are usually the ones at the table who have to give up that information. But I’m glad we made friends with them, as they are apparently regulars at this place. They gave us all the insider info:  which chefs to ask for, how to get the optimal amount of food to take home for another meal, which drinks to order, etc.

Fancy

I would share those tips here, but I kind of feel like you have to take your chances that you might sit next to these two on a random evening there and they can tell you themselves. Me telling you would ruin the fun. And trust me, a seat next to them is worthwhile, as they are hilarious.

I will share one tip, however … the yum yum sauce is the absolute bomb. If you take nothing away from this week’s post, it’s that if you go there you have to get two sides of this. And a to-go container to take home. I didn’t even have to order mine, since my new friend spoke up and got one for me when she ordered her own. New friends are amazing like that.

You may be familiar with this sauce (I’ve since spotted it at a grocery store, thus bursting my bubble that this was purely the restaurant’s own creation) but trying it at Hibachi was a first for me and Shane. If you’re out of the loop like us, it’s basically a mayo based sauce with a bit of a kick. And it’s delicious. As my new friend told me, she “puts that shit on everything.” I wonder if Red Hot would be proud she used their slogan?

Also of note: the pineapple sorbet that they serve at the end of the meal is definitely worth leaving some room in your belly for. It wasn’t too sugary sweet or overly fruity, but it was enough to give that little dessert touch to end the meal. I mean, it was no trip to the frozen yogurt place in Kent where the guys each made themselves three pound sundaes or anything like that, but it was definitely worth sticking around for after the to-go boxes were passed out.

I admit that this week it was nice to get away from the bar and grill train we’d been stuck on for a little bit now, and to try something different. The food was good, although my one gripe would be that I didn’t feel like there was a lot of meat in my meal. Next time I would go with a combination, like the chicken and shrimp or chicken and steak or something like that. What I boxed up to take home amounted to little more than basically fried rice and a few veggies, which won’t exactly make for an exciting leftover lunch.

It should be noted that Shane and Ted both finished their meals entirely, but Shane was incredibly uncomfortable on the drive home.

I definitely see us going back, although probably more for a celebration, special occasion of some sort, or maybe to take people from out of town or something like that. I don’t see it becoming a regular stop, either in our eating out mainstays or the WTGW order … unless, that is, we decide we want to give our new bffs some competition as regulars? That could prove to be an interesting endeavor. I’m not sure there’s enough yum yum sauce for that experience.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Shane

Ted

Hibachi Japan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 8/2/17: The Dougout, Richfield

Standard

Ah, The Dougout. Why have we avoided you all this time? I’m sure we had a reason at some point … and if I had to guess I would say it had something to do with a rumor we heard somewhere when we mentioned the name of the place, probably accompanied by that weird scrunchy face people make when we speak the name of some bar/restaurant they wouldn’t set foot in. But, hey, we’re rebels like that. And I have to admit we’ve visited some rather undesirable locations over the years (including places where shootings happen a few weeks after our visit), so we’ve seen that look a lot. But we’re still alive, so our choices can’t be all that bad, right?

Yeah, maybe don’t answer that.

In any case, at this point we’re wiping the slate clean on The Dougout. And we will rebuke your scrunchy face if you try to make it at us.

Let’s just start out by mentioning that Shane and Ted were on board with the place before we ever walked in the door, as the sign outside touting a 10oz steak for $7.00 got their full and immediate attention. Always a sucker for the frugal meat specials, those two.

Speaking of meat specials, this table tent got Ted’s attention as soon as we sat down. We all know he loves “meat on a stick.” 

We know where to find Ted on Fridays from here on out

So The Dougout is definitely a small place. And while none of us were expecting the Ritz by any means, I think we were all pleasantly surprised at what met us beyond the front door. There’s nothing to scrunch your face at. It’s basically your run of the mill dive bar, complete with a large bar on one side of the room and a handful of scattered tables on the other.

It’s seat yourself, and the place was fairly busy so we snagged a 4-top near the door. The server came around quickly to get our drink orders, at which point Ted did his usual “tell me about your dark beers” interrogation. He was told there was nothing dark on tap (options there included Miller Lite, Miller High Life and something else unimpressive to Ted), but he was welcome to walk up and peruse the cooler for bottles, which he happily did and settled on an Edmund Fitzgerald.

Surprisingly Shane bypassed the can of Hamm’s for $1.00 and chose the large draft of Miller Lite. But he was clearly happy to have discovered the sign.

He loves him some Hamms

Meanwhile, I went with a mixed drink, which arrived in a large plastic cup similar to what you normally get soft drinks in. I like this place already.

On to food. This exchange says a lot:
Shane to Ted, as they perused the menu: What are you ordering?
Ted: Uh, I think the steak special and wings
Me: My god, you two are like twins

So, yeah, it’s obviously no surprise that they each got the steak special – that was established before we even got out of the car. They also each got six wings – garlic pepper parm for Shane and Cajun BBQ for Ted.

$7 worth of happiness

Twinsies

Can we just talk for a minute about these plates? Old. School. Like between all of us, you know someone has eaten off plates similar to these at their Grandma’s house at some point in their lives. Admit it. I believe the kids call that “retro” these days … but really we’re pretty sure this place has probably just had those same plates in circulation since about 1984.

And maybe the years of constant steak delivery have helped build a marinade of sorts, as both Ted and Shane agreed that their steaks had good flavor. Especially for less than the cost of a side dish at some fancy steakhouses. The steaks did look a touch on the small side – I mean, I’m not sure they actually throw them on a scale to be sure each one is a full 10oz, but hey, at $7 you could order two and still pay less than what you would at some other places.

Shane: that was the best $7 steak I’ve ever had
Ted: I’ll drink to that

That’s high praise, folks.

Once the red meat and fries were out of the way, the boys moved on to the wings. Ted thought the sauce on his wings was good. He described it as “sweet and a little bit spicy.” But he also said that the meat was tough and a bit hard to bite into and chew. His usual “three bites and swallow” technique apparently didn’t work this time around.

Glazed and confused

For the record, this is the first I heard about Ted having a designated technique for wing consumption, but you know I’m going to be watching him a little more closely from here on out.

Ted did give them the benefit of the doubt, though, and said maybe the wait time of eating that portion of the meal last had caused the BBQ sauce to congeal a touch, thus upping the difficulty level. He’s thoughtful like that.

Shane didn’t really give an opinion on his meal(s) since he was so hungry that he pretty much inhaled his food without actually tasting it. But he said he was “pretty sure it was good.” He did say he didn’t agree with Ted on the wing texture, though, saying that his were easy to eat and the sauce was good. Although he probably devoured them a good 10 minutes before Ted even touched his, so Ted’s theory may have some weight after all.

Apparently these tasted better than they looked

I got the Favorite Burger, which was a burger covered in mushrooms, onions and Swiss cheese. It was very good, definitely hand made, although perhaps just a little overdone for my requested “medium.” I didn’t like that the bun was overly toasted, so I gave that to bottomless-pit-Shane to buzz through. But the flavor of the burger was definitely good, as long as I remember to ask for medium rare next time.

Also, while I didn’t get one of Grandma’s plates, the fact that the burger arrived to our table so fresh from the grill that when I cut it in half about five minutes later steam poured from the middle of the sandwich was enough to make up for that.

This meal clearly isn’t fancy enough for a plate

We also started off with breaded cauliflower for our appetizer. We probably should’ve gotten the breaded mushrooms, too, since the order of cauliflower turned out to be a bit smaller than anticipated, and each order was only like $4 – but live and learn I guess. Let our failure be your advantage.

Shane thought the breading was a little hard – but I also think the technique here was more “pour from a bag kept in the freezer” than “hand dipped and breaded,” so there’s probably not much that could’ve been done about that. Ted’s comment upon trying one was “well, it’s fried cauliflower, what really do you want from it?” Take that as you will.

Our favorite kind of “health” food

All in all, The Doug Out is a fun place that we’ll definitely return to. They had baseball on the TV, although without sound … and honestly until someone started up the jukebox the atmosphere was more like we were actually dining in the home that those plates belonged during a family dinner than the raucous dive/motorcycle bar we’d always thought the place to be. But once the jukebox finally started up the atmosphere improved 1000%.

Also, as if Shane couldn’t be any happier with his $7 steak and a giant beer(s) … the almost entirely country music song list may have just put him into an “I’m never leaving this bar” state of euphoria.

One word of caution for all the guys out there … the location of the door to the men’s room falls under the category of something that might be one of the world’s greatest mysteries. To this day, I can’t tell you where it is, and I was told of the general direction to look as I made my way to the (very clearly marked) ladies room. If you can find it on the first try without asking a server or regular, I think maybe you get a prize. Or at least you should. Perhaps a mismatched set of salt and pepper shakers?

One of these things is not like the other

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

Doug Out Pub & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato