WTGW 2/12/20: Butcher & Sprout, Cuyahoga Falls

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Welcome to another cold, snowy and wintery edition of WTGW. Clearly our feud with Mother Nature is still alive and well. 

Fortunately for us, this table fire is holding strong.

Anyone up for some patio seating? No? 

Butcher & Sprout is one of the newer offerings to Cuyahoga Falls’ restaurant scene, which means that someone has been listening to us when we asked for more restaurants to open up closer to our house. It’s housed in the lower Front St building that formerly was home to The Office. 

The interior still seems somewhat similar to The Office, albeit a little brighter on the inside. There’s still a deceptively small-looking front dining room when you walk in, and then a (presumably a bit larger?) back dining area with a bar that we all seemed to forget about until we noticed people being led back there.

We think it’s a back dining room and bar, anyway. I mean, those same people did eventually emerge from said area, so I’m sticking to that conclusion. 

The concept at Butcher & Sprout is all farm to table, locally sourced, fresh foods and meats. 

Translation: probably about as healthy as you can get for a group like ours that orders things fried and in large quantity. 

We also found this on their website after Ted gave us advance notice of tonight’s pick:

To which I teased him because picking a place that doesn’t take reservations is pretty off-brand for him. But, hey, I guess not every place can be as happening as the now-shuttered place-that-shall-not-be-named-but-rhymes-with-Russ’-Ballet

Friends never let friends forget bad picks. That’s pretty much the motto of this group. 

WHAT WE ORDERED

Our meals tonight were a little bit like an episode of Oprah’s talk show:

AND YOU GET A BURGER,
AND YOU GET A BURGER,
AND YOU GET A BURGER.

You see where I’m going here. 

But, I mean, when you tout all farm raised beef, how can you not try it?

Well, I mean, I didn’t – because I was actually debating a BLT, but then opted for the turkey burger, so I guess I kind of missed that train. And the guys thought for a hot minute about ordering the plant based burgers, but then apparently remembered that’s not even something that Healthy Shane wants to spend time with on a WTGW. 

But the point is, it was burgers of some variety all around at the table this evening. 

Which, I mean, is so unlike us any other time, right? I KNOW.  

As mentioned, I had the turkey burger, but added bacon to it because that was the part of the BLT that was really stuck inside my head. 

I tried to order the seasonal veggies as my side, but was told they were out of them. Much like the black cherry White Claw that I tried to order at the top of the meal but was also told they were out of. I mean, bonus points for knowing this before the sixth or seventh trip back to the cooler (Yes, I’m looking at you, Jojo’s Sports Grille) and also they had the Truly black cherry which is honestly really just the same thing in a different can, so all good.

But the point is I was apparently not meant to be purchasing any lottery tickets anytime this evening. 

However, it was explained – for the veggies anyway – that since they buy everything fresh daily, they only have limited quantities of certain things on the menu. And apparently there was a big party in the private room that night … and of all things to run the restaurant out of, they picked the seasonal veggies. 

OK then. Thanks, healthy people. Side salad for me, I guess. 

Shane got the ‘Shroomin Burger. He tried to order it rare, but when the server kindly told him that it would be very pink and cool in the middle he thought twice of that decision and went the next level up. 

See also: the reason we still have not returned to The Rail, despite the fact that Shane is clearly still alive.

He also got truffle fries. Which may need to duel with Ted’s fries from last week, they were that amazing. 

Ted got the Breakfast Burger, and I bet you can’t guess why it has that name. 

Cassi got the burger called “You’re My Boy, Bleu,” but then subbed out the bleu cheese for cheddar. Because “You’re My Boy, Cheddar” has an even more exceptional ring to it, we know.

She got the Brussels Sprouts as a side (which clearly were NOT the seasonal vegetable, as they still had plenty of those available), and then – because apparently someone had to show Healthy Shane how it’s really done when you want to eat right – also added a side salad.

Jason got the Butcher burger, which is similar to the Breakfast burger in that it comes with bacon and cheese, but sub out the egg for BBQ sauce and pancetta.  

And lest you think we forgot appetizers, Shane and I got the pickle fries.

And Ted got the shishito peppers in ginger sauce. Fancy. 

THE VERDICT

So, yeah, pickle fries should really be a thing at more places. They were very tasty. It was like what if fried green beans and pickle spears had a child and only the best qualities were represented from each party. 

The sauce on them was a bit on the spicy side, but in a good way. Like your mouth is on fire, but you’re happy about it. 

Ted bit into the peppers and at first said they were just OK … then a few minutes later there was a quick “oh, there it is.” So unlike the quick fire from our app sauce, the peppers were more of a slow burn build up. 

They also ended up being a great condiment for his burger once that arrived. 

Speaking of burgers, they were definitely a hit. Jason commented on the flavor of the patty itself, and he and Cassi both said that you could tell the beef was fresh. Cassi was also a fan of the balsamic sauce on hers. Cassi said she would definitely put it in her Top 5, if she was one to keep one of those lists. 

While Shane didn’t exactly give it Top 5 honors, he did say it was in the Top 10.

So. Close. 

He said he would like to try the Breakfast Burger (the one Ted ordered) the next time around. And he would probably order it even further up on the “doneness scale” the next time around, which is really saying something considering he’s not at all a fan of well done meats.

So if medium rare was too undone, I can only imagine we’d be putting this place on the “we can’t ever go back there because it tried to kill me” list if he had gone ahead with that original rare order. 

Fortunately for us, though, I have a feeling a return visit will be in the cards. Perhaps when we can actually enjoy a the patio seating without fear of frostbite. 

Although judging from the photo below of Cassi, it seems maybe my fingers had already stopped functioning properly anyway well before we left the restaurant, so maybe I probably could’ve gone ahead with that challenge regardless. Hmm.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

WTGW 1/8/20: Tiki Underground, Boston Heights

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Happy New Year, WTGW-ers!

Sorry for the absence, but with major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Wednesdays this year, we had to sit a few weeks out. I mean, as much as we love showcasing our functioning alcoholism and ability to continuously outsmart the odds of a heart attack with cholesterol-laded foods … OK, so really the holidays aren’t much different than any normal Wednesday for us, other than they provide an opportunity to share those qualities with our families, in the comfort of our own homes.

So there’s that.

But here we are in 2020, and nothing says crisp January evening like a tiki bar, am I right?

Tiki Underground has actually been a kind of “edge of the list” pick for the group for a bit now, ever since it opened in 2017(ish?).  I think part of the reason we were waiting to pick it was because this ill-fated location never seemed to house any sort of restaurant for too long of a time period, so we didn’t want to get our hopes up that it might be something we liked that would also stick around.

Case in point, we’ve been to this building when it was a Mexican restaurant (pre-blog) … and then when it was a sports bar called Sidelines … not on a Wednesday, but instead for an Ohio State/Michigan football Saturday after we got kicked out of another place for showing up and walking in the unlocked door 10 minutes before opening time. Seems those owners might be related to the folks who own Harmon’s Pub down in Canton?

But those places closed in a relatively short span – we’ve only been doing this since 2013, kids – and so it’s not a stretch to say that we didn’t really have high hopes for this new place, especially with a theme this specific. If a sports bar can’t make it, can we seriously hedge our bets on Hawaiian drinks and Polynesian cooking?

Apparently, we can, since it’s still open three years later. Or, someone can, anyway. It just may not be us.

Did I spoil the suspense there?

WHAT WE ORDERED

So let’s talk about the drinks first, because there’s clearly a lot going on here in that department.

That’s a lot of words that all mean “alcohol” in some way.

I mean, it is a tiki bar, after all, and drinks are kind of the main point. So I guess they’re kind of winning in that respect?

Although they may want to turn up the lighting in the place a smidge so that we can read what is in said drinks. And before you joke about calling us old – which, full disclosure, we did to Ted when he pulled his phone out to use the flashlight feature just to read the menu – we weren’t the only ones who went down that road. I mean, if you can’t tell from the photos, it was pretty unlit in this place. There were lights behind the bar, but everywhere else they were certainly more decorative than functional.

Also, who doesn’t want to see … whatever this is … more clearly? Because we all love having nightmares.

So once we could finally read the menu, we discovered lots of rum drinks – which is on brand for this whole island theme. But for those of you who prefer to avoid the hard alcohol, they do also have regular beer. In fact a whole section of “old man beers” like PBR ($2 on Wednesdays!) and Bud Lite. And White Claw and wines.

I was the only one to order something fun.

The food special for Wednesday’s is an “adult happy meal.” Which is exactly what it sounds like it should be – a burger and fries, with a beer. At $10 it’s a little more pricey than McDonald’s … but, well … beer.

Jason got that.

Ted started out with edamame as his appetizer.

If you’re thinking that looks a little odd … well, so were we. It arrived already shelled, which is not how we’re used to seeing that particular dish served. Ted said he would offer to share it with us, but it would’ve been a little strange since we would all need forks.

He also got 12 of the Thai chili wings – which I don’t have a photo of because when I looked back a them later the darkness made them just look like giant lumps – and the garlic fries

Cassi and Jason ordered the Crab Rangoon for their app. See above note as to why there is no photo of this dish.

Have we mentioned it was dark in this place?

And then Cassi got six of the boneless garlic parm buffalo wings.

If you think that photo is bad, just imagine what the one of Ted’s wings and of the crab Rangoon looked like. This is clearly not the place to be taking any magazine quality food photos.

I got the chicken soft tacos and a side salad.

Shane ordered the same thing. Yep, the exact same thing. If you’re thinking that sounds strange, and that I also didn’t mention an appetizer for us … well, now might be a good time to mention that Healthy Shane has rejoined the group, as he seems to pretty much every January. Because we all love the fun of watching him watch all of us eat completely unhealthy meals – or in this case, drool over just the smell of the crab rangoon when it arrived at the table – and drinks we actually want to taste while he complains about still being hungry and makes a bitter beer face every time he sips his tequila and soda.

THE VERDICT

Unfortunately for Shane, Cassi confirmed that the crab rangoon tasted as good as it smelled.

However, she was less impressed with the sauce that was on her wings. It was also the same sauce that was on Ted’s fries, and he wasn’t crazy about it either.

So the moral is, avoid the garlic sauce.

Although if you ask Ted, he might tell you to just avoid the whole place altogether. Between the weird edamame, wings that were breaded more than he likes and a not-so-delicious sauce on the fries, it was pretty much a strike out for him. Add to that all of the mixed drinks being laden with rum and other random mixers Ted isn’t a fan of. And most of the beers were also not-Ted-friendly, which meant the only thing he could drink was a Guinness.

So yeah, it definitely earned less than a thumbs up in his book. He said the only redeeming factor for him was the service, which was decent. Sort of.

Shane and I thought the tacos were good. They kind of had a sweet taste to them, but they were pretty tasty. But I would much rather come back on Thursdays, though, when they’re only $5 for three tacos.

The place does have some decent specials, and some of the food is better than expected. But I’m not sure the “some” here was enough to warrant us a return visit. For certain we know we don’t want to return when the band from this particular night was back on stage. And I use the term “band” lightly, as it was really just a guy with a microphone and guitar, and a really, really loud speaker system. To say it was a little bit intense for the crowd of less than 10 that was in place on this particular evening would be an understatement. We probably could’ve reversed the lighting and sound levels in the place and made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

WTGW 10/9/19: Erie St. Kitchen, Kent

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Did you miss us? Because we sure missed you, friends.

Or, well, let’s be honest, we missed going new places with you. Yes, we realize it’s been a hot minute of revisits since our last true pick. It seems like the past month has been a game of tag within our group, as each week brought a new reason for one or the other of us to not be available.

See also: life. Adulting is hard sometimes.

Anyway.

So, since it’s been a good amount of time since we had a real pick, I bet you’re assuming that we have a real good one lined up for our first week back to normal, right?

Well, we all know what happens when we assume.

There’s your set up, folks. Read the rest at your own risk.

On a positive note, I can say that at first glance, Erie St Kitchen showed quite a bit of potential. Cassi had looked up the menu online before picking it (duh, who doesn’t? Oh, well, us, sometimes, I guess – but really I think that’s more the establishment’s fault for not having a website in the first place) and was confident about her findings. And as we were sitting in the booth staring at the printed menus, we agreed. The specialty seems to be a lot of southern style food like jambalaya, plantains, gumbo, po boys and so forth. And when you can get Nashville style hot chicken in Kent, Ohio, you can’t pass that up, can you?

Um. Well. We’ll get back to that one, but let’s just save everyone some time and say that the answer, apparently, is yes, yes you can.

We should’ve realized our misstep when we sat down in the booth at the far corner, and in assessing the lay of the land, realized that we would need to get up and visit the bar for a drink, and the kitchen window for the food. Hmmm. OK. So basically this is just one step above a drive thru, then? Nice. I mean, they do bring the food over to you, you don’t have to get back up and pick it up from the window. But still. That’s like saying when you order fries at McDonald’s from the drive thru and they tell you that they just ran out but are making a fresh batch, and instead of making you come in to claim them you just have to pull over to the side and wait for someone to run them outside to your car. Cool.

Or not. Not cool at all, Erie St Kitchen.

Well, while we’re waiting for our food and not conversing with wait staff at all, let’s look around and try to figure out the vibe, shall we? I mean, we’re in a college town, so obviously we expect to see students around us. OK, check. But then there were also several tables of folks old enough to be our parents. OK. Professors, maybe? Townies? Parents of students in town for that elusive and probably not entirely welcome mid-week surprise visit? It’s a mystery.

Interesting.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Ted went full southern on us, ordering the fried plantains and jambalaya.

All of which arrived in front of him approximately 3.2 seconds after he ordered it. Like I don’t even think Jason and Shane were back from placing our respective orders yet by the time Ted’s arrived at the table. And his plate was almost clean before ours even left the kitchen.

So let this be your takeaway: if you’re hungry, apparently plantains and jambalaya are the salsa and chips of this place. So place that order and have no worries about hitting that hangry phase before your food arrives.

You’re welcome.

Cassi and Jason ordered what may be one of the strangest items ever to grace an appetizer menu: deviled eggs.

Because nothing screams bar kitchen like some eggs filled with mayo and mustard. I mean, it’s not tarter toast. But. Well. You get where I’m going here.

Anyway.

Cassi got the Nashville chicken dinner with the pimento mac & cheese. She also subbed the cole slaw for a side salad.

Yes, you read that right – pimento mac & cheese. That alone almost swayed my decision in that favor. But instead I went with the Nashville chicken “snack,” which is apparently a code word for “chicken tenders.” I also opted for a side salad.

Shane and I started off with a basket of tots.

On the “we love burgers” side of the table, Shane got the bacon blue burger with a side of fries and Jason got the goat cheese burger.

THE VERDICT

Ted gave a big thumbs up to the plantains, saying that the sauce was a little bit spicy but the plantains themselves were sweet.

He was not as vocal about the jambalaya, calling it just OK.

The deviled eggs got that same verdict.

Shane was not a fan of the burger. He said it had zero flavor at all. He had to douse it in some of the sirachi mayo that came with my chicken tenders just to make it edible.

Although I think I would take no flavor over the flavor I’ll lovingly call “WTF” that was all over my tenders. The chicken was spicy, sure – as Nashville hot chicken should be, duh – but the initial taste was more like a vinegary floury … mess.

Because that’s what you want in a product description, no?

I couldn’t even eat them.

Thank god for the smallest bowl of lettuce ever and a crapton of tater tots, I guess. Dinner of champions.

Cassi’s chicken was much better, which was strange because, well, essentially it was supposed to be pretty much the same thing as what I ordered. Hmmm. We eventually deduced that hers came with sauce on it and mine came with the sauce on the side, so perhaps the five alarm fire hot sauce was just masking the initial taste?

The only salvageable thing for me was the white peach margarita I had, although the amount of sugar in it probably equals about 75 candy bars.

Overall I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we won’t be returning to the Erie St Kitchen. I mean we could basically get the same service if we go get takeout and bring it back to our own kitchen to eat. And at least then there’s also ingredients there to doctor it up when it’s not edible too.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

WTGW 9/11/19: REVISIT – Retz’s Laconi, Cuyahoga Falls

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So we’re down a person this week, with Cassi out on a work trip. Which means it’s revisit time for the rest of the group.

A feat which was slightly more difficult than you would think. We were trying to stay close to home, so once we filed through some of our nearby favs, we opted for the Noisy Oyster. But forgot that Wednesdays are trivia nights, and apparently ALL OF CUYAHOGA FALLS shows up to vie for the 20 tables available on this place.

So, yeah, that didn’t work out.

Special shout out to the non-helpful man sitting outside who told us on our way back to the car that next time we should try arriving before 5:30 if we want to get a table on trivia night. Thanks, mister. I’ll be sure to pass that along to my boss as an excuse as to why I need to leave my job early the next time we want to go there on a Wednesday night.

Back to the drawing board. Our usual revisit go-to, R. Shea’s, looked packed, and even though I’m sure we could get a table at The Getaway, we likely wouldn’t be served our food until about 10pm. Hmm, where else haven’t we been for a while?

Ah, Retz Laconi. It’s been almost three years since our last visit to this little tucked away neighborhood bar and restaurant, so we were well overdue for a revisit.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Of course Shane demanded a storytime presentation of the blog post from the last visit so he knew what to order this time around. I’m glad my phone is the only one that seems to work for these ventures?

But we did learn that Shane chose the eggplant parm in that last visit, partially for the intriguing aspect of the eggplant being rolled in cheese and deep fried.

Because that sounds nothing like anything any of our total health but selves would ever order, right?

And Ted of course bypassed the Italian menu completely and ordered our group staple of a burger (served Ted-stye, minus the cheese) with wings.

Shocking, I know.

This time around, the guys all opted for their own personal pizzas, combined with orders of wings. So clearly Shane learned his lesson from last time when he ordered an entree and wings but then couldn’t eat the wings because he was too full.

We truly are creatures of habit in this group.

Anyway.

Back to 2019, where, as mentioned, we have a theme for tonight of pizza and wings. No burgers this time around. Surprisingly.

Ted got 12 hot wings and a medium meat lovers pizza.

Jason got six garlic parm wings, six honey mustard wings, and a medium sweet BBQ chicken pizza.

Shane got 12 garlic parm wings, and a small meat lovers pizza.

I kept with the wing night theme, but decided on a side salad instead of a full pizza to go along with them. One of these things is not like the other in this group.

And that unlike thing is also something I seemingly forgot to take a photo of, so you’ll just have to use your imagination on my order. Just picture the wings from those photos above, and replace the large circle of carbs, gluten and meat covered in melted cheese with a small bowl of something green covered in non-melted cheese. Done.

THE VERDICT

The guys gave the pizzas a thumbs up. Although Ted took half of his home – because, well, if you haven’t noticed there was a crapload of food on our table. And he also ordered a medium pizza all for himself.

Shane said he would eat the pizza first next time so he’s not as full by the time he gets to that portion of the meal. So if you’re keeping track here, note that he didn’t say he would order less food, just that he would change the order in which he consumed it so as to make sure he got to try everything.

Also we all know how Shane needs to let his food cool to the temperature of a hardwood floor in winter, so Im also noting that if we have to wait for him to eat his pizza first then maybe we should call ahead and have them prepare it before we arrive so we aren’t still there at midnight waiting for it to cool down.

Mine and Shane’s bill was $46 before tip. Jason’s and Ted’s bills were each around $35 before tip. That damn medium pizza was definitely the kicker.

Also my mixed drinks were the same price as Shane’s beers ($4) … and being that all I tasted was cherry I can only assume that there was definitely more rum than coke involved with those. For once I may have actually won the drink lottery and chosen wisely.

Side note – we’re on hiatus from new picks for most of this month, as every week we seem to have at least one member of the group with a work or vacation conflict. So check back for more revisits, and we’ll see you in October for the next new pick.

WTGW 8/14/19: Nathan’s Patio Bar & Grille, North Canton

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So full disclosure, we’ve all technically been here before, but only for drinks, and not food. On a night a few summers back we returned to a previous WTGW spot, The Ignorant Owl, to check out a band … which was so awful that it literally drove us across the street in search of better times elsewhere.

We ended up on the patio at Nathan’s, enjoying several cocktails and a much better band. So essentially we credit Nathan’s for turning that evening around for us.

Well, and the ensuing 3AM Taco Bell run, which involved Ted knocking on the window of the drive thru as we pulled up after placing our order and emphatically declaring that we were “gonna need some orders of cinnamon twists.”

But that’s a story for another time.

Back to this week’s adventure (spoiler alert, it did not end at Taco Bell, or at 3AM for that matter). We tried to once again visit the patio area of Nathan’s but as we walked out to that area we looked around to discover that there were only about a handful of very small tables that maybe would’ve fit about 1/4 of our usual food order. So that was disappointing.

I mean, I guess we could’ve all four just sat by ourselves and yelled from table to table. But that would’ve probably gotten annoying to the other patrons at the bar area out there, and we kind of didn’t feel like getting beat up that evening.

And we didn’t see menus anywhere, or anyone else eating on the patio … so by our secret decoder ring settings that usually implies that they don’t serve food in that part of the establishment.

Boooo.

So back inside we went. We grabbed a table along the far wall, and studied the helpful calendar of specials.

Hey look, it’s $4 burger night! And you know this group typically doesn’t turn down a burger. Or wings.

What are we on, like week #427 of mentioning that now?

Plus, trivia. I mean, granted we were down one member of the Moist Towlettes trivia team, but of course we weren’t about to let that stop us.

However, our general lack of knowledge for pretty much anything pertaining to this particular game of trivia did stop us from winning any portion of the game, but that’s neither here nor there.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, duh. I pretty much already gave this one away. Even someone as awful as we were at trivia that evening could guess the answer to that question.

So Nathan’s classifies their burgers into categories: regular, super, mega, etc. Seems someone was a little overly concerned with size when they put this menu together, no?

I have to give props to our server, as she was a giant help in placing our orders. No complacent “everything here is good, can’t go wrong” answers from this one. She basically ordered Cassi’s entire meal for her, and had quick answers to the firing range of questions that were thrown at her during that process: which burger is better, mushroom or Italian? what’s better, fries or onion rings? which fries, steak or regular?

It was like watching an eye doctor go through the “which is better, one or two?” portion of the eye test, but at like 100x the normal speed. And some would argue with greater consequences.

BTW, the answers to those questions were Italian, fries and steak. Which is exactly what Cassi ordered.

I went for the lesser of the server’s choices in Cassi’s scenario, the mushroom Swiss burger. And the side salad, which no one asked about. Because, well, we all know this group doesn’t do vegetables well.

Ted got the mega-sized Big Piggy burger. Which was delivered looking just as unhealthy as it sounds.But it did come with its own very sharp utensil, so I guess I really should watch what I say about it.

Shane got the regular burger … and also the kielbasa burger. Because, why not? Clearly I’m eating all the vegetables in our family, so he has to take on some of the bad habits to make up for my health, right?

We should point out Shane was shocked to see that both of his sandwiches contained a burger patty. Wait, what now?

Yeah, he thought he was just ordering one burger, and the other would just be kielbasa on a bun. Ok. That might’ve made sense had that sandwich not also been listed under the section called “burgers.” But sure. Guess that extra meat was just bonus.

That what she … oh never mind.

We also started out with a nice big bowl of queso with tortilla chips, just for Ted.

Just kidding. That was for the entire table, minus Ted. He opted for fried pickles.

Let’s just talk for a moment about that sauce for the pickles, shall we? Oh wait, we couldn’t, because it was so spicy that all we could do after first trying it was gulp down about a gallon of water or whatever other beverage might have been sitting in front of us at that moment. Even habanero-eating Ted declared it to be “pretty spicy.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was also good. Just consider this more a word of warning to like not even think about trying it if your glass is almost empty.

Also, maybe don’t order the queso in the same sitting, or else you’ll leave thinking it had zero flavor. I’m sure it did have at least a little, but it was like just putting a bit of squashed, unseasoned cauliflower on a tortilla chip in comparison to the pickle sauce.

Plus we could’ve used about another whole serving of chips with the queso.

Oh, and in our never-ending quest to get hard seltzer at every single bar we visit, we were thrilled to discover they have both White Claw and Truly. But – in true “us” fashion – of course the flavors are held under top secret clearance until the server makes about 15 trips to our table. This evening our server was convinced there was a raspberry back there, until she returned holding mango.

So. Close.

AND THE VERDICT IS:

The burgers were really good. They were cooked to order, and actually stayed pretty close to those specifications. So Shane wasn’t going to die this time.

Always a plus. The Rail will clearly never be forgiven for their murderous attempts. Of like 5 years ago. But whatever.

Cassi thought her burger was a little too done for what was supposed to be medium well, and mine was just past well done for what was supposed to be medium – but regardless they still had good flavor.

I ended up not eating the bun because it was a little too toasted for my liking. Meanwhile, on the other side of the opposite train, Cassi thought hers had a mushy bottom.

This was also definitely one of the cheaper nights out for us in a while.

Cassi’s bill for herself was only $14. She spent more on alcohol ($4 each for each White Claw?!) than her $5 burger and $1 upgrade to fries.

#pride

Our bill was $39, which breaks down to two rum and cokes, two white claw, three burgers, and one app.

Not too shabby.

The service was far better than I think we expected to see when we walked into the place. Our server was always nearby and super friendly, greeted us promptly, and gave helpful recommendations.

Oh how our standards have fallen over the years, right? Like basically just pay attention to us and be friendly and we’ll love you forever. We’re like a group of stray puppies.

Which is what I’m sure you’d rather look at as opposed to the usual pictures of our group at the end of our posts … and since we forgot to take our pictures this week anyway, here you go.

You’re welcome.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason’s back in rotation

WTGW 1/15/19: Craft Cantina, Merriman Valley

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THE WHERE (we went)

That’s a question best answered by first telling you where we didn’t go: Springfield, Ohio. As is 180 miles away from us. Not Springfield Township, where we’ve been frequently. Jason learned an important lesson in checking the directions before thinking the place was too good to be true.

But, you know, if we ever are 180 miles away, the Hickory Inn sounds like an amazing pick. Just sayin’.

So we ended up with a collective vote to check out Craft Cantina in the Valley, after throwing out around 27 other options and driving aimlessly around Cuyahoga Falls for about 15 minutes. But at least that drive was educational, in that we learned the old Barmacy space in the Valley is currently uninhabited, and a sketch place in Akron that Shane has been eyeing doesn’t have food, so that was out as a pick.

Using our time wisely, folks.

Craft Cantina is also the younger and smaller sister to Crave Cantina, which we visited a while back when the then-new downtown Cuyahoga Falls location opened. So this isn’t exactly a revisit, more like just choosing another location of a chain, something some of us in the group are prone to doing every now and again. Not naming any names or anything.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Drinks of course and foremost … because, well, you should know that about us by now. Plus we had just been driving around for what felt like an eternity so we had to make up for lost time.

Cassi and I went with mixed drinks. I highly recommend the Tiki Mojito. It was delicious.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered a beer, which Ted at least had the courtesy to wait until the server walked away before announcing that Shane would definitely not enjoy drinking.

Newsflash: Ted was right. His prize was Shane’s beer.

For apps Cassi and Jason got the Disco Fries. Which did not arrive with a tiny mirror ball attached to the plate, so I feel a little cheated and like that was a marketing opportunity completely lost.

So. Many. Possibilities.

Regardless, they said they were delicious. I guess that’s more important.

Shane and I got the queso dip with jalepenos. Or Rotel. Or something that gave it some chunkiness without a lot of spice. Which I realize sounds disgusting but trust me it was tasty. The chips were also really good – they had some sort of dusting on them, kind of like Dorito’s in training.

All of us did some fashion of the make your own tacos or bowls – the ordering system of which pretty much confused the hell out of most of us, but somehow we powered through. I mean, I get that this is the new trend for Mexican and Latin American restaurants, but some direction might be helpful. From the server. Or the menu itself. Or, well, anywhere really.

I did the make your own bowl with steak.

It was just OK. The steak wasn’t very good, and the bowl overall just didn’t seem to have a ton of flavor. Maybe that goes back to the whole guidance on ordering thing, as I could’ve probably used some in the area of “sauces-that-add-flavor-without-sacrificing-every-one-of-your-taste-buds-or-your-will-to-live.”

Jason made his own giant burrito with brisket and pineapple. Let’s just say that they aren’t kidding about that giant thing.

This photo seems aggressive

This was something Shane probably would’ve preferred to know before he placed his order – which was not only a create-your-own flank steak burrito, but also one of the fried chicken tacos.

One of these things is unnecessary

Shane ate his taco first, something that probably contributed to his later taking half of his burrito home with him. Because we all know how it pains anyone at this table to ask for a to-go box.

Jason ate his entire burrito, but was a bit regretful of that afterwards.

Ted got three tacos – one of the Buttermilk Fried Chicken tacos from the House Specialties section of the menu, and then two tacos that he created himself – a blackened chicken with pineapple, and a fried chicken with Verde sauce.

He liked the fried chicken the best. He said they were all good, bit that was the favorite.

Just to be clear, I’m still not exactly certain how the fried chicken and the buttermilk fried chicken are different from one another. I mean, aside from the absence of buttermilk in one of them and all. Come on now. But like who knew there were two ways to make fried chicken that goes on tacos?

He also got a side of dirty rice. Because there clearly wasn’t enough food already on the table.


Cassi made her own tacos – one with chorizo and one with fish.

She liked one better than the other. I could let you guess, but let’s just say that the one that rhymed with “dish” was the clear winner.

We also got orders of house made fresh guacamole – pico for me and Shane, cotija cheese for Cassi and Jason. And yes I had to consult the menu in order to get the spelling of that cheese correct. Listening to Shane try to pronounce it resulted in several variations that aren’t suitable for print.

It pains me to even have to say this, but the guacamole was a little disappointing. Shane said it had too much lemon. The rest of us thought it didn’t have too much of anything, except maybe avacados.

We also had to order the entire large side order just so that Shane could have guac as a side for his burrito – since this whole fresh-made system means you can’t just get a small portion slapped into a tiny side container like in regular Mexican restaurants. That seems excessive, no?

I mean, I’m only sort of complaining, because you really do’t have to twist my arm to eat guac. Even when it’s not to tasty. And of course there were more of those Dorito-ish chips, because we definitely could’ve eaten our weight in those throughout the course of the evening. And don’t think we didn’t try.

THE WHO (we saw)

No one. Literally no one.

Well, OK, the server like two or three times. And one other group at the bar. But in the dining room, yeah, well, we were kind of it.

We also think Elton John might’ve been there in spirit, as the jukebox literally never stopped playing his songs. So either someone before us played the joke of programming the next five hours of songs on their way out the door, or one of the staff members really, really likes his work. Or maybe they got a deal on the machine since it can only play his music. We may never know.

THE HOW (much we spent)

Well I forgot to note the receipt, so it’s hard to answer that one in this post. It’s a new concept for the blog, it takes some getting used to. Stop badgering me.

THE WHY (they will/won’t see us again)

Well I’m sure they would like for us to come back, since it seemed like they could use the business. And I think we all would go back, just maybe order something slightly different than what we got this time around. Shane and Jason said they would just get the tacos again, but not the burritos. They said they “were too much.” And those are definitely not words that get thrown around lightly in this group. I would get a bowl again, but not the steak and definitely with more spicy sauce of some kind.

Of course, given the ordering system, we might try to order something different and then end up with the exact same thing we got this time without even trying. Hard to say.

Picked by: Jason

Jason

Jason, mid-decision

Cassi

Ted

Shane

Steph

WTGW 1/9/19: 44Sharp, Randolph

Standard

THE WHERE (we went)

To a place really far away, with not a whole lot else around. Which is always the best choice for a night wraught with consistent blinding snowstorms, right?

Yeah, we thought so, too.

44Sharp looks to be a relatively newer place over somewhere to the east of Spingfield. Which, of course, brought up Shane’s favorite “let’s head back to the place with only two things on the menu” conversation.

I know you all are on pins and needles for that revisit. Well, OK, maybe everyone except Shane. Unless of course they were serious about that whole reworking the menu thing, in which case he keeps insisting we’ll be sorry for making fun of it then.

Time will tell.

Anyway.

It seems that 44Sharp hosts a lot of bands on the weekends. Or maybe they just like to have people stand around being taller than the rest of the crowd at certain times. But probably more so the band thing.

Hella sponsorship of that stage area there Budweiser

Also, the entire place just has a lot of free space in general. There’s also a room with pinball and other bar games, a bar by the door to what we assumed was probably the outdoor patio, and another room with pool tables. It’s like the middle of nowhere equivalent of a Dave & Buster’s.

Of course it also helped that we were five of about the collective ten people in the place for the evening, so, you know, size is relative when you’re not exactly fighting your way through a crowd to get a table, I guess.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Hey guess what, we ordered burgers and wings. Shocker. Maybe we should’ve just stopped a half hour sooner back in Springfield after all.

On his first visit to the table, the bartender shared with us that Wednesdays are burger night – which equates to $2 off all burgers. He also made a point to tell us that the best one is the Rodeo burger. Nice to see recommendations before we had to ask. This is definitely something new.

Although we noticed as we put our orders in that they didn’t ask how we wanted the burgers to be cooked, which we all know by now could be the curse that later delivers condiment-laded charcoal briquettes to our table. Oh, the suspense!

Cassi and Jason got breaded mushrooms as their app.

Little hot oil bombs

No one else ordered an app, although the guys all got wings to go with their burgers so I guess that’s kind of the same thing. Ted got Cajun, while Shane and Jason both used their food soulmate powers to pick BBQ.

It’s like the Sahara desert up in here

The BBQ was a dry rub, which ended up being a bit regretful. Better luck next time.

They also both got the Rodeo Burger. See, I’m not kidding about that soulmate thing. Except Jason got his with cheddar cheese, while Shane kept it with the menu-allotted pepper jack.

When the server delivered Jason’s he made a point to call it the “almost Rodeo burger.”
We appreciate sass from servers. It makes us feel like they’re one of the group.

We also appreciate when they look out for us, as was the case when Ted ordered the Brunch burger, sans cheese (of course) … and it later arrived looking like this:


Yeah, that’s cheese. I mean, it’s a fried egg, too, but the burger was definitely covered in melted cheese. And we all know how thrilled that makes our friend Ted, who immediately started in trying to rid the dish of it before it got cold and congealed to any portion of the sandwich.

The server was quite concerned when he saw Ted furiously scraping cheese from the top of the patty.

Server: Dude, what’s this? I put the order in for no cheese. I can send it back. I’m sorry. Are you allergic?
Ted: No, I just don’t like cheese.
Server: Well fuck then, you’ve got this.

Turns out Shane was all too happy to take the scraped off cheese remnants for part of his own meal.

Well if that doesn’t look appetizing

This is true friendship, people. And they aren’t even the food soulmates.

Meanwhile, on the non-drama side of the table, I got the Firecracker burger with additional mushrooms.
The sauce was spicy. Not a bad spicy, definitely a good spicy, but spicy nonetheless.

I just like saying spicy apparently.

And Cassi got the BLT burger.
So remember when I mentioned the distinct possibility for well-done charcoal briquettes? Yeah, that’s kind of what we ended up with here. The burgers were definitely on the burnt side. Even Cassi – who hardly ever admits to things being well done – couldn’t deny that these were bordering on the edge of left in front of the flame thrower a bit too long.

Especially because her burger had no sauce on it, so it somewhat resembled the consistency of a tumbleweed rolling through the desert. The rest of us agreed that if not for the abundance of condiments on ours, we would probably feel the same way. The sauces were good, the meat not so much.

THE WHO (we saw)

Well, I can tell you who we didn’t see, and that’s many other patrons. As mentioned already, there were probably only five other people in the place throughout the course of the evening. Not five groups, literally five other individuals. I mean, I get that it was a Wednesday night, and a crappy weather one at that. But there’s also not seemingly a whole lot else around the area, so it’s not like there’s an Olive Garden down the road just teaming with people who wanted a hot meal in the middle of the week.

I would definitely be intrigued to see the place on a weekend. And what kind of crowd a band brings in. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there’s a lot of line dancing that happens when they move these dinner tables out of the dance floor space.

Anyway.

Perhaps the trade off to this is that we did see the bartender/server quite frequently. In fact, I’d go on record to say that this may have been some of the best service we’ve ever had.

Ever.

That’s strong language.

I mean, granted it’s not like he had a ton of other people to keep him busy – but it’s also not like we haven’t been to places before where we’ve been close to the only table there and still gone long stretches between visits from the server.

Jilly’s, I’m looking at you while I say this. Don’t pretend you don’t see the stare.

But at 44Sharp, the bartender came right over to greet us as we walked in, came back with the first round of drinks and menus quickly, and stopped back frequently to check on us. Bonus points for noticing when drinks were almost empty while delivering food to the table, and asking if we wanted refills – as well as not taking the nearly empty drink away when the new one was set down.

Which I didn’t even realize was something I had to be worried about until my half full mixed drink was whisked out of sight and replaced with a new one at another establishment a few weeks ago. Unless you’re planning to magically make half of the cost disappear off my final bill, that’s not cool.

THE HOW (much we paid)

Three tequilas and sodas were $12.75, thanks in part to a Wednesday ladies night special that equated to $1 off mixed drinks. Which we definitely appreciated. Maybe better luck getting the girls out in droves for that one in the summer, though.

But then I think I made the difference back on my meal. So here’s a little restaurant math lesson for you … if burgers are $5 on the Wednesday night special, but then I paid 75 cents for the “extra mushrooms” and another $1.99 for tots that I thought actually came with the meal, am I not just back to the original price again before the Wednesday special?

The answer is almost. A burger with tots or fries is normally $8.99, plus the 75 cents would be 9.74, then take away $2 for the Wednesday special … oh hell, I’m over it by now. Did I mention there was also tequila?
THE WHY (they will/won’t see us again)

They definitely get an A+ for service. I mean, granted for a portion of the evening we were the only people in the place – but honestly given our group’s track record I sometimes think that makes us even more invisible. The bartender/server here was great, though. Also, they have a weekend steak special – a 12 oz for $9.99 – so that obviously intrigued Shane and Ted. I’d put this as a solid maybe. If the right band was playing. And it wasn’t snowing. And we didn’t order burgers.

Did I make that clear enough?

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

Cassi

Jason