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

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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

WTGW 12/12/18: Block 7 Bar & Grille, Barberton

Standard

OK, here it is – the pick we’ve waited two weeks for. So, I mean, no pressure or anything, but this better be good.

Although in the interim we ended up realizing a place nearby had really good food, and rediscovering that Tim’s is still some of the best pizza around … so I guess those weeks count for something. But still.

So of course we were totally pumped when we walked into Block 7 Bar & Grille … and were greeted with almost total silence. Like we weren’t sure for a moment that the place was even open because we were literally the only people in the entire restaurant. Well, I mean, aside from the bartender, and someone I can only presume to be the cook who was sitting at the end of the bar talking with her until we sat down – because he then disappeared.

Sweet. At least the service should be good?

Sadly, with our group it seems even this isn’t a guarantee.

*sigh*

We were even more surprised to find out that Wednesdays are wing nights – all bone-in wings are 49 cents each – so yeah, still unclear on this whole empty restaurant thing. Does all of Barberton know something we don’t?

Maybe it’s that Block 7’s real name should more appropriately be “Ice Block,” or “7 Degrees from Freezing,” because that’s how we were feeling for the majority of our visit. When even the guys don’t want to take their coats off you know we’ve reached frigid levels. I mean, I get that business isn’t exactly booming – but maybe account for the lack of bodies in the place by turning the heat up just a smidge so we actually want to stay a while, no?

Instead we just started ordering up the alcohol. Which come to think of it may be a solid business tactic for them also, so kudos on that.

The guys went with beers, while I got a spiked peach drink from their cocktail menu that was their own specialty – and it was very tasty. I would definitely get it again.

Meanwhile Cassi asked the server about drink prices and was told that a tequila and soda was “probably around $6.00.” Huh. OK. That’s helpful. I take it no one ever orders those here?

Also helpful, on about our second or third round of re-orders the server finally mentioned that they have “those White Claw spiked selzers, and they’re only $3.25, if that’s of interest to you.” It’s like we said some code word and graduated to some sort of secret level of alcohol allowance. Thanks?

Hey, remember how we were cold? Well, Cassi and Jason’s fried pickle appetizer helped warm things up a little bit, since taking a bite of each of those little spears of fire pretty much raised the body temperature about 15 degrees.

Tiny delicious hand warmers

Ted tried one and had to blow on it for like 10 minutes before he could take a second bite. But at least they were better than the breading disaster that was Dilly D’s, so that made it worth the lost layers of skin.

Shane and I ordered the southwestern egg rolls, which arrived slightly less than a billion degrees – but no less tasty. The chipotle ranch dipping sauce was spicy but not overwhelming, and the rolls themselves were nice and crispy without being burnt. Score.

You could pretty much put anything in an egg roll wrapper and I would call it delicious

Hey, look, another couple has joined us in the bar for dinner. Just when we were getting used to having the whole place as our own personal dining room. Hopefully this means the service won’t diminish?

Spoiler alert: it would. There was a time later in the evening where I was basically slurping my empty drink through my straw in a not-so-subtle just universally recognized attempt to get the bartender to realize I needed another drink … yeah, nothing. Oh well.

So since it was wing night, I bet you can’t guess what we all ordered? Yeah, we aren’t predictable or anything. I mean, I’ll admit, I was torn between a burger and the wings. Because, again, that never happens. We also never go places that only have those two things on the menu, either.

Never. Gets. Old.

So I got both. I mean, if you’ve learned nothing from this group, it’s that anything that can be considered an appetizer, including things that normally are classified as meals.

Trendsetters, we are. I know.

And I wasn’t the only one to be torn on this decision – in fact, Shane was the only one out of the five of us tonight to actually ONLY get wings, and no other food. But he did get 20 wings – 10 mango habanero, 5 Cajun and 5 honey mustard – so I guess that counts for something.

Shane’s side of the table

I got the mushroom Swiss burger and 5 of the lemon pepper wings. Plus the server said I could add “a handful” of fries for only $1.00 – and who would pass up that bargain? Not me.

There are five there, I swear

Um, the burger doesn’t seem to fit the bun. This is a problem.

Although I would later regret that fry option – as would Cassi – when our handful of fries proved to have been sitting under the heat lamps since about the last time a customer was probably in the building, while Jason was served up a nice piping hot fresh batch. Favorites, much?

Can we trade ours in for these, please?

Cassi had wanted to get the Block burger, but said it sounded like a heart attack on a plate so she decided against it. The description actually reminded me of the Romanburger from Mr. Hero – which I’ve always thought to be delicious, back from the times growing up when that particular fast food was considered a special “dining out treat” by my parents. Thanks for the risk of early heart disease, Mom and Dad. No wonder I feel the need to overindulge on salads in my adult years.

But I digress.

Cassi ended up bypassing the heart attack burger (see what I did there?) and ordering the mushroom Swiss burger – with a special addition of carmelized onions – along with 5 of the sweet and spicy wings.

Hey look, more wings! Do they all look the same yet?

Jason decided on the Shirley burger, plus 5 of the teriyaki wings and 5 of the sweet and spicy wings.

Shurely you have some cheddar cheese on your burger

Ted, meanwhile, ordered like four meals, which was apropos considering we’d just had a conversation about his tendency to do so. He got the chicken Caesar wrap, along with three sets of wings – spicy glazed, sweet and spicy, and Cajun.

Ted’s wings. I’m not sure I want to know just how many chickens had to die just for our table alone.

I’m also fully aware that I think I missed getting pictures of some of the wings. Sorry. They just kept showing up at our table, it was a little difficult to keep up.

With all this talk of wings, you’re probably wondering what the scale of hotness is, no? Well, we were, and since this is our blog we’re going to talk about it, so you can just scroll along if you don’t care. We actually asked the bartender, because the menu listing and the names didn’t seem to give any clear indications on what order they should fall. Well except the Blazin’ – as expected, that’s the hottest. Then the spicy glazed, then mango habanero to round out the top three. And the spicy sweet is supposed to be more sweet than spicy, so maybe they need to rethink the order of those words in the name there.

End PSA. You’re welcome.

All of the wings came out first, so I guess we were thinking correctly when we said they would be our second course of appetizers.

And yes, that could totally be a thing. Remember, trendsetters.

We were all really happy with the wings. All of the various sauces were delicious, and the wings were pretty large for being on special at only 49 cents each. We’ve paid more for much smaller at other places.

That’s what she said. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

But definitely, if you go to Block 7, the wings are the way to go. I don’t think any of us had a sauce we didn’t like, and they were definitely filling.

The burgers, on the other hand, were disappointing. Especially in comparison to the wings. I ended up eating mine without the bun because the bread was pretty plain – and there was far more of it than there was burger – but even so, the patty, while seasoned, just didn’t seem to have much taste to it.

Cassi disagreed with me, she thought the burger was good. But she also admitted that she usually only eats boneless wings, so she was less thrilled with the wings than the rest of the table.

On the non-burger front, Ted’s aversion to cheese finally proved problematic in his eyes, as apparently in this restaurant saying “no cheese” also causes the cook to omit the dressing. And when you take the dressing out of a Caesar wrap, you pretty much just have … well … a tortilla filled with chicken.

I’m craving a giant glass of water just writing that.

That looks … plain

Good thing all of his wing orders meant he had about 16 ranch dressing cups sitting on the table that he could use to help him out … but even so, it was a bit of a struggle to get through.

He did it, though – along with 13 of his 15 wings. And then said he pretty much didn’t think he needed to eat again until next Wednesday.

Meanwhile Shane was proud of himself for only ordering wings, after hearing all of us talk about how much we preferred them to the other options on the table. He ended up finishing off 19 of his 20 wings. He tried to do the last one, but was so uncomfortably full that he just couldn’t force himself to do it. Jason ended up finishing that one for him.

That’s friendship, folks.

Picked by: Jason

Jason

Cassi (note the winter attire – obviously it didn’t get any warmer)

Ted

Steph. Thumbs up for wings and down for burgers

Shane

WTGW 11/28/18: The Getaway Pub, Merriman Valley

Standard

This week we have another tale of failed places to start our journey, thanks to an accident on the highway that made me extremely late getting home from work (why is it that people seem to always forget how to drive on Wednesday evenings?) – and since Jason’s pick was going to be in the far-off-land of Barberton we decided to put that one off a week because it was so late and we were all, of course, starving. Shocker, I know.

On to Plan B: Cassi had a pick on deck in the Valley – The Noisy Oyster – so we thought we’d just try there since it was close … but apparently that’s the new hot spot on Wednesday nights, thanks to trivia. Who knew. So since we couldn’t get a table – or even really more than two seats at the bar there – we took a strike on that one and adjourned to the car to try and figure out our next move.

Just as we were about to settle with a revisit to Pub Bricco or The Merchant, we remembered there was actually another little place in the Valley that we’d driven past 1,000 times but never actually set foot in … The Getaway.

Commence “are we sure we really want to try this place” vs “how much longer can we wait for food before we chew our own limbs” debate.

After a brief online search to confirm that yes, they do actually serve food, The Getaway wins. Let’s hear it for Plan C!

Given our past history with menu scavenger hunts, Ted made a beeline for the bar as soon as we walked in, managing to request menus and memorize the draft list before any of us even got ourselves situated at a table. Which means he already worked harder for Jason’s tip than the server we had last week, so score there.

This turned out to be a good move, because Ted also learned on his round-the-bar travels that The Getaway doesn’t have servers – everything is done directly at the bar with the one employee that was on duty for the evening. Good to know. Although on the flip side of things, I have to believe Ted began to regret showing so much initiative once we named him honorary employee and started fielding all of our random menu questions his way.

For drinks, Jason and Ted opted for the Rhinegeist Truth in cans. Which makes them the smart ones, as the rest of us took one sip of our mixed drinks and instantly wished we’d ordered something we might somehow recognize the taste of. Shane was pretty much drinking straight Jameson, while an entire bottle of tequila might’ve died for the combination of mine and Cassi’s drinks. Apparently the bartender here graduated from the Windsor Pub school of mixology?

I also got a lemon with my drink, which I realize starts with the same letter as the lime that was asked for, so points for being somewhat close there.

Jason switched to the (cheaper) Hamm’s tall boy can after the first round. The can arrived pretty dented and scratched, leading us to believe it had lived a life before it got to Jason’s hands. Oh the stories I’m sure it could tell … you know, if only beer cans could talk.

That’s a somewhat terrifying thought.

Anyway.

For a place that we didn’t really realize actually served food, the menu looked pretty promising. I was in favor of the appetizer list actually telling us how many pieces came with each order. Especially since Ted wasn’t really answering Shane’s questions about which order he would get the most food out of.

It’s like a Sesame Street episode

Server-wannabe Ted won him back, though, when he made a point to make Shane aware of the note on the menu that indicated all of the burgers would be cooked to the taste of cardboard.

OK, so really it said “due to food borne illness all burgers are cooked well done – unless otherwise requested by the customer.” But since well done is not how any of us prefer our burgers, we definitely appreciated the warning.

Here’s a fun fact: even though I think we were the only ones in the whole place doing more than drinking, it still took forever to get our food. Jason joked that maybe they just had a small George Foreman Grill in the back and had to cook one burger at a time.

We also started having flashbacks to our recent adventure to the dive bar in the middle of nowhere, in that the food arrived at our table order by order based on how they were placed. Hence, I give you a timeline of our dinner:

7:50pm (20 minutes after ordering)

Ted’s Spicy Garlic Wings arrive, along with the “Sean’s Stinger” Burger – which is the unfortunate name for a burger topped with Jalapeños and marinara – and usually also pepper jack cheese, but of course Ted requested that be omitted.

No vampires will be coming near this table

Ted decided this was a 1/3 pound patty. And since he apparently works here, we believe him.

8:05pm

Cassi and Jason’s potato skins arrive. OK, at least they got their app before the meal, this seems promising.

Loaded and baked, just as promised

8:17pm

Cassi and Jason’s meals show up. Denny Burger (grilled onions, mushrooms, and cheese) with bacon for Cassi, and the Andy Boy Burger (cheese, lettuce, pickle and tarter sauce) for Jason. Yes, I said tarter sauce. We all thought it was strange, too – and I think that was part of the reason he ordered it.

There are toppings under that bun, honest

All I see is lettuce

8:18pm

Oh, hey look, here’s Cassi and Jason’s pretzel sticks that they also had ordered as an app. Oops. I take back that promising comment from a few minutes ago. It’s almost like someone forgot the pretzel sticks were part of their order, and brought them out thinking that maybe they were ahead of the game on the next group of orders. Yeah, no, still them.

When they said “2” on the menu they probably should’ve mentioned they were gigantic

Table update: about 50 minutes after ordering, Ted is halfway through his wings, and has finished all of his fries … Cassi and Jason have an app, their meals, and another late-game app … and Shane and I still don’t even have any food, including that onion ring app we ordered.

Just as Shane and I were discussing the extreme similarities to the New Milford Café – no menus, having to go to the bar ourselves, watching the rest of the table devour their meals before even our app arrived – we looked over to the bar and noticed the (male) bartender doing shots with the patrons sitting at the bar. It’s like we stumbled upon the city cousin to that farmtown bar. What weird portal do we need to close in order to get back to normal service?

Meanwhile, a band started up. Let’s just say we wished they hadn’t.

Shane and I eventually followed Jason’s lead and switched to cans of Hamm’s – primarily because we didn’t think consuming entire bottles of liquor was wise on our empty stomachs.

8:27pm

Hey, our onion rings finally showed up! Along with Shane’s Frisco Melt (2 burger patties with cheese on Texas toast with tangy fresco sauce). Cool. I mean, you know, appetizer first would’ve been great, but at this point we’ll take anything that comes to the table with our names on it.

Apparently the deep fryer only works when the George Foreman gets unplugged?

It’s like a burger sandwich

So at this point we’re just missing my food. To catch you up on the rest of the table, Ted has finished his wings and fries, but still had a whole burger to tackle. Cassie was halfway through both her burger and her fries, and Jason has about 1/4 burger and three fries left.

8:33pm

Finally, my ill-cut Steak Sandwich with fries arrives. Good thing I wasn’t sharing with anyone.

Someone failed fractions in school

Please remind me to make Shane tackle everyone else out of the way the next time we have to order at the bar, so we don’t go last. Ever. Again.

To recap, it was pretty much just over a full hour from the moment we sat down until all of the plates finally arrived at the table. And while I’m sure we’ve waited longer for our meals at other places, at least we all had small plates of food to hold us over. I mean, isn’t that really the concept of appetizers? This whole system of an entire order arriving at once before the other parties at the table even get an appetizer maybe could use some refining.

But we had to admit that at least these burgers were worth waiting for, and – unlike our adventure a few weeks ago – we didn’t sit for an hour just to eventually be served burgers smaller than those you can get at McDonald’s, topped with some chicklet onions. Everyone who ordered one said it was delicious. Cassi only took one bite before declaring it one of the better burgers she’s had. She said it was obvious that it was a handmade patty, not frozen, and that it was seasoned well.

Shane rated it in his Top 7. I’m not sure what position it takes, or who exactly that knocks out, since that list rotates about every time he eats a good burger, but I guess putting on the list means something?

Sure.

Ted didn’t give it a place on any list, but did say it was tasty.

My sandwich was also very good. I realize when you order a steak sandwich you could get anything from steak-um’s to an actual slab of meat on a bun, so I was happy to see this arrive as very thinly sliced steak with lots of toppings and flavor.

We also had to give props to the bartender, who – despite his shot rounds at the bar – did manage to bring us over all of our meals and deliver them to the correct people, as well as walking back over after we were finished to collect our plates. And he was really nice – as he was picking up our plates he apologized for how long it took to get our food, saying that he wasn’t sure what the issue was and that it’s usually not like that. Shane made sure to tell him that “if that’s what it takes for something that good then we’re OK.”

Shane mentioned to our group after the bartender walked away that we’re probably the first people to order food there in like two years, so really we should be glad that it all at least came out edible. Also, it’s not like we’re just one or two people ordering a sandwich. There’s five of us, and we all know we order enough food for whoever is cooking back there to probably think that the place just got his with a surprise birthday party.

Also, mine and Shane’s bill totaled up to just $38 before tip. So only $5 more than the much referenced but ill-fated dive bar $1 burger night excursion – and although we do have a few questions (how are the onion rings almost as much as our sandwiches? why is Jose Cuervo so much cheaper than Jameson?) this time we each had strongly poured mixed drinks along with much better food, so I’d say that $5 was well spent.

Two Hamm’s for the price of one Jameson. What were we thinking?

All in all, The Getaway is a nice local neighborhood bar, with good food and a decent atmosphere. We weren’t treated like total outsiders because we were new, which is always a plus on the side of coming back again in the future. Honestly the food delivery timing was about our only complaint with the place. Oh, and the strong pour. Which we realize not everyone will see as a checkmark in the “con” column, so take that as you will.

Picked by: Cassi (we gave her the option and she actually did claim this as her pick, which is an endorsement all in itself)

Cassi – the thumbs up is for the food, the thumbs down is for the drinks

Steph

Shane

Ted, with a Vegas-style background. We’ll have to come back after Christmas to see if those lights are up year round?

Jason