WTGW 10/24/18: Green Diamond Grille, Barberton

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OK kids, so after a few weeks of the diviest of dive bars, we definitely classed it up a bit more this week. For one thing, no one had to go on a scavenger hunt for menus – it was actually assumed that we would be eating, and menus were handed to us as we were seated. And then the options inside said menus were a bit more complex than dinner than McDonalds.

I’m not sure how we know how to act in these here fancy places anymore.

Although I think we all had our doubts on the drive in, as the main street leading up to the Green Diamond Grille was more than a little sketch. I mean, it was better than the universe of back roads we found ourselves in last week – but, well, that’s not really so difficult to beat, so that may not really even be worth mentioning.

Anyway.

We were greeted immediately after we walked in, and were told that we could sit in the room behind the main bar or in the dining room. Because we’re allergic to dining rooms, naturally we chose the room by the bar.

Started out with beers all around, although Ted tried to steal mine when it was set down because he couldn’t believe I also ordered a Kentucky Bourbon Ale like he did. I know, my penchant for beers I can actually see through usually diverts me to other choices, but it had been a while since I’d had one of these and it just sounded good. Shane picked up my slack with a Miller Lite, and Jason took advantage of the waning days of fall beer season and ordered a Pumpking. Meanwhile Cassi abstained from alcohol, thanks to a new Whole 30 diet.

This also meant Cassi couldn’t order anything with dairy or carbs – which of course Ted was thrilled to hear about, because for once he wouldn’t be the only one at the table ordering his famous “cheeseburger, hold the cheese.”

It doesn’t make it any less weird, though. Let’s just keep that point clear.

Shane of course asked the server his famous two part questionnaire: what’s good here, and how much food do you get with the order (alternate text: what order gets you the most food for your money).

In response, our server pointed out that the Wednesday special is something called “hunky night” – which, because, I mean, I’m sure it’s totally obvious what that means and all but I’ll explain It anyway, translates to getting the choice a couple of things that have hunks of some sort of meat in it – like sausage or chicken.

Um, OK.

The marketing person at me was screaming at her to please, for the love of all things holy, change the name of that special before you start attracting bachelorette parties and lonely single women thinking a special showing of Magic Mike is on tap for the evening, but I wisely kept these thoughts to myself.

She left us to continue contemplating the menu, and it took all of about 15 seconds for Ted to snap his menu shut, cross his arms across his chest, and declare that this evening was going to be quite expensive on his end.

Well, I mean, in all fairness, for the past two weeks he’s been getting essentially two entrees for under $5, so take that declaration with a bit of a grain of salt.

Ted was apparently won over by this oddly named Wednesday special, so that was what he ordered. He chose the hunky chicken and dumplings … with sausage … and butter noodles … and a cabbage roll … and green beans. I’m about 97.5% certain that he didn’t realize at least three of those things would be included in his meal until the plate came out.

Because he also got mussels to start.

Sounds about right.

But it worked out OK, because the mussels were definitely worth it. Ted said they may have been some of the best he’s ever had.

This could be a meal all in itself

While the rest of the meal didn’t encourage those highest of accolades, it at least didn’t disappoint. He said that the cabbage roll was good and – to use his word – “dense.” I’m not sure exactly how to rate that description, but it seems to live up to Shane’s quest to find the most food on a plate, so there’s that.

He did mention that the rest of the meal had a bit of an identity crisis going on, though, as the sausage tasted of garlic, the hunky chicken contained a little too much sour cream, and the butter noodles ended up actually being cabbage and noodles.

Not that any of those things are necessarily bad, per se – and he still finished his entire meal, so it definitely wasn’t that awful. Maybe they should just change the already-awful name of the dish to “chicken surprise” instead? Just a thought.

That’s like six different meals all put together in one

Cassi did go ahead with her order of the usual “Ted Special” (a.k.a. the burger sans cheese). And then also had to remove the bun once it arrived – which was a shame because it was grilled and not at all mushy – but the things we do for diets, I guess.

Burger, uncovered

She also got a plain baked potato, and side salad – which ended up being just basically lettuce and a few tomatoes because cheese was the other major component to this bowl of supposed vegetables. The server tried to be helpful and asked if she wanted to add on croutons – because I’m guessing no one has actually ever asked to remove all of the non-healthy items before so she wasn’t sure what the novelty was in even ordering it – but of course that was a big no. I think she left the table slightly bewildered.

Mmm, vegetables

Jason got potato skins, after casually mentioning his craving for some fried pickles – another of Cassi’s non-edibles – which of course caused Cassi to bring up that time at Dilly D’s a few months back when she wanted them and he vetoed that choice. Although I said he was kind of saving her back then because those ones were disgusting.

Much better than fried pickle spears

Shane and I went with the pretzel sticks for our app. Shocker, I know. But hit a win on these ones, as they were fried but not too crispy, and very doughy on the inside.

When doughy is a good thing

We also rounded out the burger orders at the table. I got the half pound specialty burger – it had a name, but that escapes me now, all I remember was that it was supposed to come with some sort of parm ranch sauce that I asked for on the side. Because that sounds like something even an adult can’t ingest on a sandwich without wearing a bib of some kind.

Burger, covered

Turns out I never got that side of whatever sauce was left off of my burger. But that’s OK, because instead I ended up with a side of applesauce that I’m not sure ever was actually supposed to come with my meal, as well as this delicious side bowl of goodness:

Maybe pick a different color for the bowl you’re going to fill with cheese next time, no?

That’s right, ask for a side of cheese to dip your fries in, and get something that rivals bowls of soup I’ve had at other restaurants. Score.

Jason and Shane each ordered the one pound burger. So essentially two of the burgers pictured above that I ordered – for each of them. You know its a good meal when the server’s response to that is, “yeah, we don’t sell many of those.”

Hmmm.

Challenge accepted, I guess. I’m not sure if she realized what she did by making that statement. Although her later statement when she came to deliver the checks was that she thought we may have run the kitchen out of burgers just with our table. So there’s that.

The onion ring seems slightly unnecessary

Shane: dreams are made of this

But you know what, we definitely shouldn’t be the only ones ordering the burgers at this place, though, because they were delicious. They were definitely fresh made – I ordered mine medium and it was still pretty pink inside, while Shane ordered his medium rare and it was just past the dead and warmed up stage. So just the way he likes it. It’s been a hot minute since we’ve been to a place that actually cooked them to order like that.

Shane, of course, was in love.

Shane: I’m not sure where to start eating, it’s just so beautiful.

OK.

The Green Diamond Grille is another of those places that falls under the “list of places we wish weren’t over 30 minutes away because we would likely visit them more often.” The food was good, and the service and atmosphere were both decent. It would be an interesting place to check out during a game. Or maybe just any night other than “hunky night.” Because I still can’t believe someone thought this was a good idea, but whatevs. Points for originality?

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Jason

Shaney likey

Ted

Steph

Green Diamond Grille & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 9/26/18: DelCiello’s, Ravenna

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Note to restaurant owners out there: if you don’t want us to come review your place, you’re best not to even mention that you have anything to do with the restaurant business.

This week is a perfect case in point to that, as Ted has been talking about picking Delciello’s ever since we met the owner at our celebrity judging gig at Aurora Farms this past summer. When Ted said that this would be our place of choice for this week, we kind of thought that meant he would pick the new spot just opened up in Aurora, because hearing the owner talk it seemed like it would have more of our younger, bar-y vibe about it.

But instead Ted threw us for a loop and picked the original location in Ravenna. Which the words “younger” and “bar-y” won’t really come within a three block radius of.

This, from the same person who brought us to Gus’ Chalet. I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Although at first glance it had some potential, as it’s literally situated in a house. Wait, isn’t this Shane’s territory?

Oh, wait, there’s a big long history lesson involved here about why this house is still around. The website references the “historic Jennings House,” which I guess some Ravenna residents refer to as the area’s “white house.”

That’s about as far as I got before I felt myself reverting to 9th grade history class and slowly zoning out.

We didn’t leave it smelling like burger grease and fryers like some of our other house ventures, though, so I guess that counts for something.

So I guess the owners are a husband and wife team, one of which is German and one is Italian. So their idea was to have a restaurant that serves both specialties.

Once again, brought to you by the same person who took us to “Sushi and Bar.” I’m not sure what kind of a reputation Ted is building for himself here.

In any case, at least each specialty has its own menu here, so if you can’t have gluten and don’t want to even tempt yourself with pasta you can just request the German menu … likewise if anything beginning or ending in the word schnitzel just makes you giggle (guilty!) then you can politely hand back the German entree list.

And then there’s also a drink menu. So as you can imagine no one in our group even picked that one up.

I couldn’t even type that without laughing. Please.

It took us a bit to get situated, not only in the proper table but also with the array of menus. The table situation was because, well, since as I mentioned the place is a literal home turned into dining area with a bar smacked down in the center … and it’s a bit more on the “fancy” than “bar food” side, which means it’s usually smaller groups and couples dining together … so there aren’t exactly easy places for a group of five to just slide in without moving some things around.

But you know already we aren’t shy about that.

Anyway.

Opening the menus is a bit like settling in to read a short story to a toddler. Lots of words, and a pretty font to boot. That’s always fun. Cassi admitted she was a tad overwhelmed. I mean, we’ve come a long way from one of her first official WTGW outings, when the place we ended up at only had two things to choose from … and now this.

Anyone need a bedtime story?

Ted of course takes about three seconds to scan the various menus before closing them all in a pile and folding his arms across his chest in the universally Ted sign of “I’ve made my selection.” He then proceeded to try to dive right in ordering apps when we’ve all barely had a chance to scan the 10 page drink menu.

Fortunately we could choose quickly, especially Jason and Shane, who went the route of the bottled Bud Lites for only $2.50. Cassi and I had a more difficult time, since it was a rather steep jump from that to the $8.50 mixed drinks.

Apparently “middle ground” are also words not in this place’s vocabulary.

We quickly got our crap together for the appetizer order, since of course Ted was well ahead of us and impatiently trying to order his entire meal before the drinks even arrived. Ted ordered the Tuscan calamari, which I later learned was named as such because it comes with peppers, tomatoes and olive oil in it. Apparently calling it “Tuscan” instead of “Fancy” is preferred.

Calamari, embellished

Cassi and Jason got just plain old calamari. Which is like the cheese pizza of calamari, especially compared to Ted’s deluxe order.

There’s an irony there. Don’t worry, I see it too.

Calamari, plain

Irony #2: Ted wasn’t so much a fan of the Tuscan calamari. Turns out they kind of went overboard with the oil, which drowned out the taste of everything else. Ted said he would’ve preferred it was just more peppers and tomatoes along with the calamari.

Cassi and Jason also ordered cheese sticks, which sounded good enough to Shane and I that we got an order also. I mean, it’s fried cheese. How can you go wrong. Well, I mean, for at least four out of the five people at the table anyway.

Fried things for the win

While these may just look like regular old “remove from freezer and throw into the deep fryer” cheese sticks, Shane claimed the breading on them was phenomenal. He was also in love with the marinara sauce that came with them. I think he would’ve eaten it by itself like some form of chunky tomato soup if we had just given him a spoon.

We didn’t. Shocking.

In this week’s edition of Shane Interrogates Our Server, we discussed portion sizes, and what meals would easily feed an entire rugby team just after a championship match. Well, OK, not in those exact words, but that seemed to be the implication.

Caught slightly off-guard, our poor server could at least reference the fact that we were dealing with two nationalities of food that don’t tend to do portion control well, so pretty much anything on the menu should come close to those expectations. But the two that stood out the most to him would probably be the lasagna or the Jagerschnitzel.

Shane chose the Jagerschnitzel, making him the only person in our group to attempt the German menu. Although he kept calling it Jagerbomb Schnitzel, which I’m not sure the kitchen would agree with creating (and even if they would, does anyone think adding Red Bull to a meal is really the best culinary choice?), even though the server tried to write it down as such after hearing Shane reference it so many times.

Even without the added jolt of “bomb,” Shane was happy with his meal. Maybe not as happy as he was with the cheese sticks and marina soup, but close. He said it was delicious. And while it was undeniably a large portion, he still managed to leave the table as a member of the clean plate club.

One of these things is not like the other

Well, except for the side of peas and carrots that came with his meal, those got pushed in my direction. Stupid imaginary vegetable allergy.

Jason admittedly was jealous of the mushroom gravy. He had also been regretting his meatball sub choice after the server walked away from taking our orders, thinking that he would have a case of food envy bigger than Shane’s hunger once all of our giant plates of pasta and whatever-oversized-entree-Shane-ordered arrived at the table. But once his plate was set in front of him he immediately felt more confident that he chose wisely.

Probably the most American thing on the Italian German menu

He said the sub was very good. The chips alone made the rest of us kind of look at our plates like bald men stared at 80’s rock band icons back in the day.

Especially me, who was not happy with my Pasta Palermo. Admittedly I ordered it because of the alluring “baked under an layer of cheese” description … because, well, those words are definitely music to the ears of pretty much anyone who isn’t Ted. And first glance definitely gave me hope that I’d picked something delicious.

Ted was thrilled to be sitting across from this gooey mess

But honestly the whole cooking then baking thing really just made the pasta too well done. And soft pasta mush is, well, about as pleasant to taste as those exact words imply.

Cassi got the vodka tomato pasta with angel hair. She didn’t say much about it, and left 3/4 of it on her plate after the meal was finished, so I’m going to use my super-sleuth powers to suppose that it was about as tasty as my baked cheesy mush.

It’s hard to screw up spaghetti, right? One would think.

At least Ted was a happy pasta customer. He ordered the clam linguine, and said it was very tasty … despite containing what had to be some of the smallest clams I’ve ever seen. It’s like they found some clam pipeline from Munchkinland.

You feel like a giant picking up one of these tiny clams

We actually passed on ordering dessert – which is strange for us considering lately we’ve been ordering it if they have it on the menu. But I guess given the portion sizes it’s not that surprising, honestly.

The final consensus seemed to be that if you were hungry and you didn’t order overdone pasta, you could leave this place a happy camper. But I doubt we’ll see the inside of this place on another Wednesday anytime soon, just because it’s not our usual Wednesday vibe. The quiet inside the place was somewhat intimidating. And I think our group brought the median age down by at least a generation and a half. Which of course means that our table conversations – carried well across the church-like quiet of the place – weren’t really meant for the ears that they then landed on. Apologies to the table of two women in the same room as us who came out for a nice dinner and probably left more schooled in strangers’ bathroom habits and the antics of a group of randoms during their last drinking adventure than they had bargained for.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Pirate Shane

Steph

Cassi

Jason

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

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

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

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

Technical details, I know.

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

Anyway.

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

You have our attention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Little stingy on the pita, no?

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

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

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

Not chips and not free

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

Fancier than Taco Bell

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

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

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

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

Hey Shane got a pizza. That’s new

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

Those may be the widest noodles I’ve ever seen

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

There are fries under there somewhere

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

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

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

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

Geez I crack myself up.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Dan

Ted

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

WTGW 4/5/17: Arnie’s Public House, Akron

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Today’s lesson is in marketing. Specifically, what to name your restaruant that makes it sound inviting and like a place you might want to spend an evening with friends.

Arnie’s Standing Room Only: sounds like a place where we’d be lucky to get in the door, and then stand around awkwardly looking at each other and trying not to spill our beers.

Arnie’s Public House: less like a place you’re going to get jostled around in, but all I can think of is a “bath house” at the lake … and that’s not a very pretty picture either.

OK, so maybe it still falls a bit short of the mark, but progress.

We’ve never been inside this place when it was Arnie’s SRO – although Ted swears to the darkest side of the sun that we at least talked about going here more than once. Hmm. Personally I know I had to look it up in Google maps just to make sure it was where I was thinking it was, so I’m guessing those must be his other friends he’s referring to.

Dammit Ted, we don’t talk about other friends on WTGW. This is our night.

So I read some reviews and everyone agreed that Arnie’s PH was a much improved version of SRO. From what I can gather, they added a new menu/chef, as well as tables and booths for (gasp) seating options. Again, progress.

The place is still small, wedged into the side of a strip plaza. It probably only fits 50-75 people if I had to guess. This proved beneficial when we walked all the way through from what we thought was the front entrance on the patio to the actual front entrance at the back of the place (see also: irony) – only to find a “please seat yourself” sign. Well at least we had already walked past the available tables, and since the place was small we didn’t go too far out of our way.

The bartender helped us to a booth anyway, and explained that there were two bartenders, as well as one server – and she was new, but doing OK, so just give her a chance.

Because that sounds like a setup for eventual disappointment, no? Like “hey, here’s a great car … it looks nice, but it has 400,000 miles, no brakes and is missing a tire, so if you just park it in your driveway and look at it from the side with both tires, it’s really awesome.”

Also, since the bar is considerably smaller – and pouring drinks seems like sometimes it can be less work than waiting tables – it appeared the scales may have been tipped a little bit out of the new girl’s favor there, but whatever.

The beer list seemed decent, although Ted went to order one of his dark beers on tap only to be told it had been replaced with Summer Shandy. I’m liking that the “we’re out of the beer you like” curse has been moved out of my corner for a bit.

In any case, he went with a Thirsty Dog Twisted Kilt, I decided on Angry Orchard, and Shane – in a twist to shock us all – grabbed the Summer Shandy over his usual Bud Light. Color us surprised.

The menu is a mix of things that sound fancy (siracha brussel sprouts, Hungarian stuffed peppers, chicken and waffles) and things that you’d think a bar would have (burgers, chips and dip, sliders, pretzel sticks).

We’ve been on a pretzel stick kick the last few weeks, so we switched it up and went with the hush puppies this time around. Although a bit later – before our hush puppy app arrived – the server approached our table mistakenly with a plate of – what else? – pretzel sticks.

It’s like they knew we’d broken up with them and they were stalking us out to see our new love.

And I guess maybe in some ways they were warning us we were going to be sorry, because the hush puppies ended up not being the best choice. For something that has jalepeno in them – and you could see the actual jalepeno bits – there was zero flavor. Shane commented that normal, non-jalepeno hush puppies have more flavor than these did. This was just like eating a huge ball of cornmeal mush with some green flecks in it – something we all find incredibly delectable, I know.

“Those are some balls” – Shane, as they arrived on the table. Keeping it classy, folks.

The sauce was the only thing that made them even edible, but even that wasn’t anything impressive – I think it just seemed so amazing because it kept the hush puppies from turning your mouth into the Sahara desert and gave the dry bread crumb consistency at least a little bit of flavor. You can tell we didn’t care for them so much when we left one hush puppy on the plate – and even after we were done with our meals still no one touched it. That never happens.

Sorry, pretzels. We never should have doubted you. Please don’t hold it against us.

Shane got the Red Eye burger for his meal, along with a side of the housemade chips and dill dip for his side.

Mmmm … meat

He liked the burger, but because he got it his usual medium rare (and they actually cooked it that way) it was very difficult to eat. It fell apart as soon as he bit into it, so he pretty much had to go the knife and fork route at that point.

Good thing we weren’t still “standing room only” or that could’ve gotten messy.

I got the chicken tacos for my meal, only replaced the tortillas with a lettuce wrap. I guess I’ll be playing the part of “healthy Shane” this evening. Although I did get the homemade chips and dill dip as my side, too, so there’s that.

It looks pretty until you attempt to eat it

The chicken was really good, it was broken up into small pieces and very well seasoned with a little spicy kick. Lettuce wraps are a bit tricky to navigate, so I eventually resorted to fork bites also – which meant I kind of just ate the lettuce separately and could’ve just asked them to heap the chicken, cheese and filling from the tacos right onto my plate – but whatever, it was still good.

I will say both of us were disappointed in the chips, though. They were flimsy, and tasted more like the oil they were cooked in than the actual potato. Maybe slice them a bit thicker in the future. I mean, some of us actually like the taste of potato and not just air and oil, thanks.  And the dip was just OK. We’re more French Onion people than dill folks, I guess.

Ted got the special for the evening, which was a pasta dish with shrimp and sausage. He said he was about halfway down the menu and had a few items in mind that he was considering when the server came over to tell us about the specials, and once he heard that one he decided it cancelled all the other options out.

Because “pasta special” sounds less goofy than “goulash”

He really liked the pasta dish, even though he said that it was essentially goulash. He commented that he hadn’t realized the place had a bit of a Hungarian theme going on, but once he ate that and remembered things like the stuffed peppers on theh menu, it made sense. But overall he was happy, his meal was very good.

I guess all in all, Arnie’s isn’t a bad place … it just wasnt the best, either. It seems like even though the transition to this new restaurant with more seating isn’t a brand new thing, they’re still working out some of the kinks. And I know our server was new, but she was still exceptionally slow. I mean, there were three, maybe four tables total that she was handling – but it just seemed like she wasn’t getting the hang of timing for everyone.

Case in point:  when she came around asking if we wanted a third round of drinks, and we said no … she scampered away before we could ask for the checks, and then took forever to reappear to finally ask if we did, in fact, want them. No, we’d just like to sit here and stare at one another over empty glasses, please. I mean, usually being done with your meal and refusing another round of drinks is a universal sign for “we’re pretty much ready to head out, thanks.” But it was like she read some manual for how to be a server, and had time slots she had to fill for each of those questions. “OK they said no to more drinks, now avoid them and wait the appropriate 10 minutes before returning to ask if they want the check so they don’t feel rushed out.”

And the bartenders who warned us about her newness also weren’t going out of their way to help her, either. We know she put in our order for our second round of drinks, and we watched the one bartender pour said drinks … but rather than walk them over to our table (as we already mentioned, the place is pretty small so I’m fairly sure those 20 steps wouldn’t cause him to break a sweat, plus I know he saw our empty glasses lined up on the edge of our table) – he waited for her to come pick them up. All the while bartender #2 was too busy doing shots with someone who appeared to be either the owner or manager and his little group of friends at the bar to even notice us at all. Nice.

As Shane would say “John Taffer would be disappointed.”

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

Ted

Shane – trying to hide so no one saw his grade

Steph

Arnie's Standing Room Only Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/7/16: Tim’s Pizzeria & Pub, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

Wait, what’s this, two places in a row in our own backyard we haven’t been to yet? It’s like Christmas.

Also, we seem to be on an Italian kick now. First two weeks of Irish, now our second week of Italian. We seem to like themes all of a sudden.

Truth be told, unlike last week’s pick, we’ve probably driven past Tim’s Pizzeria about 4 billion times, and Shane has usually been the one to exclaim that eventually he was going to pick it. But it also looks just a tad on the sketchy side from the outside, so he was a little wary. I mean, it kind of looks like a house.

Although if you’ve been reading this blog then you know that’s actually right up Shane’s alley. And you also know that that’s burned us in the past (*ahem* that place in Solon *ahem*) so he has to be careful not to become labeled as the guy who picks crappy house diners.

Good thing this pick was nothing like that.

Our group was back to a threesome this week, as Amanda wasn’t feeling well and Jerrid decided to sit this week out. Welcome to winter and cold season in NEOhio.

We started out with dark beers for Shane and Ted – Guinness and Breckenridge Vanilla Porter – and Angry Orchard for me. There’s not a huge beer selection at Tim’s. But Shane loved the glasses, which seemed to spin on the table, so I guess that makes up for it?

Yes, he’s 12.

The place is known for its pizza. Bet you couldn’t guess that from the name, right? So of course pizza connoisseur Shane had to try that. But only after quizzing the server on the eggplant parm and if it was better than the specialty pizza he had in mind to order – the stuffed banana pepper pizza. She said both choices were good, but the pizza was one of their unique specialties.

Sold.

He also got calamari as an app. Because, Shane.

if it's on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

if it’s on the menu, it will likely be on our table.

I stuck to the same pattern as last week, rigatoni. But this time it was baked, which is really just code for “loaded with cheese.”

You’re speaking my language, Tim’s.

Plus I just like to gross Ted.

It also came with a bowl-of-cheese-they-call-a-salad (I’m pretty sure I could get used to these Italian places and their definition of healthy foods) and bread.

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

Another delicious salad made the way they should be made

And I ordered an app of fried mushrooms. Because, me. And also because they were $2.95. I mean, how can you not?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, Ted got a little smorgasbord all for himself. He said he wanted to try a bunch of different things and couldn’t decide between them.

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

A small 3-course meal just for Ted

So he got a 4-cut pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. And the ravioli. And to his credit, he originally only wanted to order six of the garlic hot wings (because we’ve already established that someone has to order wings – I mean, why stop the streak now?) but the server told him that they only come in orders of 10. So he was like what the hell, go with it.

Such a team player.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Oh look, wings. What a surprise.

Our server also got huge props, as we were doing our usual joking with Ted about his dislike of cheese, and the server piped in and offered to make his pizza without it. Wait, what? You can do that? Is it still technically a pizza without cheese?

So that's what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It's so ... naked.

So that’s what a cheese-less pizza looks like. It’s so … naked.

I’m so confused.

But Ted was super happy, so that’s all that matters.

The calamari was good, just not very flavorful. The mushrooms ended up being the big hit of the appetizer portion of the meal, though. I mean, Shane even really liked them – and he normally likes mushrooms the least of any fried veggie.

Deep fried deliciousness

Deep fried deliciousness

Ted said his pizza was good. And so were the wings. But the ravioli as just OK, he said it kinda tasted store bought. Probably could’ve done without that part of his meal, if he had to pick one thing on his whole side of the table to get rid of.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

These seem naked, too. Poor pasta.

Shane was in love with his stuffed banana pepper pizza. Like so in love that I almost got jealous. He said it was a great concept, definitely unique and super tasty. The crust was good, light but crispy. And the peppers were spicy … so, you know it’s a good thing he added more crushed red pepper before he even tasted it.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

Watch it pizza, I can totally take you.

The extra red peppers were actually Ted’s suggestion. Clearly he cares a lot about Shane.

The baked rigatoni was delicious. Worlds above last week’s pasta dish. It had good sauce and flavor, wasn’t over cooked – and the crap-ton of cheese certainly didn’t suck either. In fact, word of warning, I burned my tongue on the very first bite, as I couldn’t wait to dig in and forgot about all the heat that lives under that layer of cheese. But honestly I didn’t care. It was too delicious to wait.

This is like heaven

This is like heaven

Overall, Tim’s is a great spot. It had a really good atmosphere, they were playing fun older music – and it seemed like the crowd were a mix of a lot of regulars and a few newbies like us, but yet no one made us feel like we didn’t belong there. We also saw lots of carry out orders being picked up, so that’s something I think we all filed away for later use. We also noticed a sign on the wall that they’ll be having a Christmas party in a few weeks – on a Wednesday, no less, so that seems like it was made for us. We might have to hijack that WTGW pick and come back in for that one. But even if not then, we’ll definitely be back.

I mean, you can only keep Shane away from his new love for so long, right?

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Tim's Pizzeria & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 11/30/16: Retz’s Laconis, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

Watch out, after two weeks of Irish food we’re breaking our streak and moving on to a different ethnicity … Italian.

And we all laugh as we watch Ted’s face as he attempts to avoid cheese pitfalls. Oh the fun!

So I have to ask, for real, where has this place been these past three years? I mean, I thought we’d exhausted pretty much every bar/restaurant in our own little town – hence why we sometimes travel up to 40 minutes away for a new pick. Meanwhile little did we know Retz’s Laconis was lurking on some side street we’ve apparently never ventured down before. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle of WTGW.

Hmm.

Adding to that theory, Shane and I parked outside in the back lot, next to a particularly shady Suburban that both of us were fairly certain someone was living in. But it was gone when we came out later in the evening, so I guess not. Unless it was swallowed by the Triangle?

You never know.

Also seemingly lost: the front door. When a building is on a corner, it’s helpful to label the appropriate front side so you know which door to enter. We chose the first door we saw, a not very well labeled one which fortunately for us led directly into the bar where Jerrid, Amanda and Ted were waiting. We chose wisely. Had we picked door #2 around the corner we would’ve ended up in the dining room. I only know this because several people entered through the bar door looking to do the opposite of what we did. They were not as wise.

Amanda and Jerrid were there way early (surprise!) and had ordered the bacon ranch pizza as an app. They left us a few pieces to try, and we all agreed it was OK. The crust seemed like a frozen crust, not fresh made. And it was also a little too ranch-y – and, yes, smartasses, we know the name of the dish – but let’s just say the ranch overpowered the bacon. And bacon should never be second fiddle, am I right?

This appetizer didn't look like this by the time Shane and I arrived

This appetizer didn’t look like this by the time Shane and I arrived

But when you’re hungry, it did the trick, so there’s that.

Salads came with mine, Shane and Amanda’s meals, so naturally those arrived at our table first. Although let’s be clear, by “salad” we really just mean a pile of cheese with some lettuce underneath.

This has to be the most nutritious salad ever

This has to be the most nutritious salad ever

See also: Ted’s nightmare.

I got the rigatoni with meat sauce and meatballs.

Pasta, take one

Pasta, take one

Amanda got the baked cheese ravioli.

Pasta, take two

Pasta, take two

Shane got the eggplant parm, after his interrogation of the server revealed that it’s actually rolled in ricotta cheese and deep fried. Bingo! That’s like saying the secret password to Shane. Because deep frying anything can only make it better, right?

Exactly.

This is probably even healthier than that salad, no?

This is probably even healthier than that salad, no?

He also got an order of the garlic parm wings, because we can’t seem to go a week without someone ordering wings at our table.

Wings. What a surprise.

Wings. What a surprise.

He then also tried to order another app until I made fun of him.

Me: “And I’ll also take the whole left hand side of the menu please.”
Shane: “Never mind, I’m good.”

Ted got the acid wings. Because that sounds appetizing, no? And also a burger with no cheese. Because who cares that we’re at an Italian place. You know when you see items like that on the menu and think “who comes to an Italian place and orders a burger and wings?”

Ted. Ted does.

That's the most Italian looking hamburger I've ever seen.

That’s the most Italian looking hamburger I’ve ever seen.

Non-acidic wings

Non-acidic wings

Along those same lines, Jerrid got the dark chicken meal. Pasta is clearly overrated. See also: why all of our meals took forever to arrive. It’s like New Era all over again.

Where are we again?

Where are we again?

About this time when we were ordering we also noticed our server’s t-shirt, that boasted the place has the “best balls in the Falls.” Clever.

Unfortunately, though, I have to disagree. I thought my meatballs had absolutely zero taste. Same for my rigatoni. Maybe my taste buds took the night off, although the cheese on the salad and the bread tasted OK to me. As did the crap-ton of crushed red pepper and parm cheese that I added to the pasta. But the pasta and meat, no flavor whatsoever. Boo.

Ted said his acid wings were not overly hot. He may be the only person to ever say that. Maybe his taste buds were on strike along with mine.

He only ate his wings and fries, didn’t even touch his burger because he was too full. Which seemed odd until Jerrid pointed out Ted did have two Christmas Ales, so that was kind of like having another meal all in itself.

Point taken.

Jerrid liked the chicken, said it was better than New Era. And Amanda liked her raviloi.

Shane didn’t eat his wings because he was too full. Maybe he and Ted should stop ordering basically two entrees? Just an idea. But he did try one, though – I think mainly to see if he should even bother with the to-go box – and said it was good. He said the eggplant parm was “different, but OK.”

Overall Retz’s is an OK place for a little neighborhood restaurant and bar. The bar area is pretty small, so it’s gets a little crowded – but never so much that you feel like strangers are about to seat themselves at your table and start helping themselves to your food. Our server was good and attentive for the most part, the exception being when Amanda tried about 10 times unsuccessfully to get herself a water. But then Jerrid asked and it was delivered in a second. So I guess the moral is that if you’re female and ordering something non-alcoholic you might want to be prepared to wait a bit. Interesting.

Picked by: Jerrid
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Retz's Laconi's II Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/7/16: New Era, Akron

Standard

Ah, New Era. Otherwise known as a place that maybe should have the word “Chalet” in the title. We may have figured out where at least some of those former patrons defected to after good ole Gus’s closed a while back.

Which may also explain why the place was nearly empty when we arrived just before 7PM. And why by 8:15PM we were getting the “I really hope they leave soon so we can all go home” glances from the staff.

Because that’s fun.

OK, full disclosure – Shane and I have actually eaten here before, not all that long ago, when his parents invited us out to eat with them. And I think both of us were in silent agreement that while the place wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t our scene. Maybe because we aren’t over the age of 50. Whatevs.

So considering Ted’s track record with picking places for that age bracket, it didn’t really surprise us when he announced this as his pick. And since it is, in fact, Ted’s pick and he hasn’t been here before then it’s still within the WTGW group visit rules.

Yes, we have rules. We take this very seriously. Please.

Just in case it would provide us with a different experience this time around, we opted for seating in the bar area instead of the dining room. Plus we like beer, and it’s best to be closer to it in these instances. I mean, priorities.

We could’ve brought about 87 of our closest friends into the bar area with us, too, BTW. When the bartender told us to take a seat anywhere, I think all of our eyes immediately drifted to the banquet room style area just past the actual bar. It was like showing up to a wedding reception on the wrong night.

So that explains why we sat at the bar. Well, that and the “we like beer” line from a few paragraphs ago. Try to keep up. We were also the only ones in the room, save for the bartender and one other bar stool warmer, who I only heard utter two sentences the entire time we shared the same air: “Another beer please,” and “Can I get a bag of chips?”

Clearly his entertaining budget is minimal. But at least he’s polite.

Now, when I say bar, know that that word is used in kind of a satirical form here. Meaning that I think we have more variety of beer in our fridge right now than they do here. There’s three beers on draft – Miller lite, Bud light and Molson. Wait, Molson? That’s something you don’t see everyday. I’m not guessing there’s a huge influx of Canadians in this part of Akron. Must be their version of a “fancy” beer.

Ted inquired about any dark beers in bottles .. and ended up with a Killians. So no then. The rest of us just went the simple lite draft route. Because, simplicity.

But honestly, this place is really more of an ethnic, family restaurant than a true bar and grille. Which is a nice change for our group in some ways … but it also translates to “instead of grease, you’ll eat a lot of heavy comfort food.” Pick your poison, I guess.

In an effort to stick as close to our usual bar & grille roots as possible, though, we all ordered something fried for appetizers. See also: we love to test the fate of our arteries. Shane and I got the mozzarella sticks, Ted got breaded mushrooms, and Jerrid and Amanda gt the jalepeno poppers. All of which were good – because, well let’s face it, if they screwed those up then there was really no hope for our actual meals.

I'm not sure why we even take pictures of these, they look the same everywhere

I’m not sure why we even take pictures of these, they look the same everywhere

More fried stuff

More fried stuff

We should just bring our own deep fryer with us

We should just bring our own deep fryer with us

They also brought out a basket of bread, and a plate of something they referred to as sweet raisin bread. You could’ve called it “heaven on a plate,” because I think we all proclaimed that bread to be the real winner of the evening. It was warm, and you didn’t even need butter, it was that sweet.

There’s a joke there. I’ll let you all use your imaginations.

The lone survivor. Which I think disappeared about five minutes after this photo.

The lone survivor. Which I think disappeared about five minutes after this photo.

OK, so the special on Wednesdays is stuffed peppers. Which Ted was all over. Although once the pepper – yes, single pepper – arrived in front of him he was almost visibly disappointed that there was only one on the plate. But after he started eating it he said he knew that two would’ve been way too much food. And if you’ve been following along you know those are not words we throw around lightly in this group. He said it was super filling and really good.

Don't let the size fool you.

Don’t let the size fool you.

Shane got the spaghetti and meatballs. Well, OK, the actual dish is spaghetti and meatball – singular, what is it with lonely food at this place? – but this is Shane so you know he wouldn’t be happy with just one. He ordered a second one for $1.50, which ended up being just enough.

"I'd like an extra ball, please"

“I’d like an extra ball, please”

Jerrid got the all dark meat fried chicken. Because he apparently wanted to hold up all of our orders coming out of the kitchen at the same time, since we were told that the chicken takes the longest to make. Dammit Jerrid.

Fried, fried and kinda, sorta vegetable

Fried, fried and kinda, sorta vegetable

He said it was good, no complaints. Well, other than trying to get the parmesan cheese to pour out of the container onto his side dishes, but that’s besides the point.

Chicken, are you ready for your closeup?

Chicken, are you ready for your closeup?

On a related note, that was what Shane and I had gotten the last time we were there – I got the all white meat, and Shane got mixed – and we thought it was just OK. Not a lot of flavor to it, although that may have been because our taste buds were burned off after it was delivered to us at a scalding, hotter-than-the-sun remperature. I swear I couldn’t feel my fingertips for the next day and a half after picking those pieces up.

But I digress.

Amanda and I were almost twinsies with our orders this week, as I got the chili and a grilled ham and cheese – and Amanda also got chili but had to one-up me in the healthy department with a chef salad. Thanks. Although joke was on her because they sneakily put onions on the salad, which didn’t make her happy.

Wait, this isn't fried ... is that allowed?

Wait, this isn’t fried … is that allowed?

But aside from OnionGate she said things were good.

I was disappointed that my chili was cold (did they turn down the temp on everything since our last visit? WTH.) but the sandwich was good.

Chilled chili = not as impressive

Chilled chili = not as impressive

Will we go back? Eh. I mean, the food was OK, but nothing I absolutely have to have again … as evidenced when Ted announced his pick on our drive over and Shane and I just kind of looked at each other like he had told us he was taking us for an evening of bowling with a pack of housecats. I mean, it’s certainly not horrible – on the one-to-Gus’s meter (with Gus’s being the worst, obviously) I would give it about a seven. But honestly that’s more for the atmosphere than for the food itself. We’re lively people, and being able to hear a pin drop in the bar, or feel like you might scare the old grandmother-turned-chef in the back of the kitchen if you cheer during the ballgame isn’t exactly our idea of a fun night. Granted it was a cheap night – less than $50 for drinks, an app and meals for both Shane and I … but that also was partially because the “we’re locking the door behind you as soon as you walk out of it” stares from the employees also meant we left before the sun even went down.

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Imitating Amanda

Imitating Amanda

Ted

Ted

Imitating Shane

Imitating Shane

Shane's new nickname should just be "the blur"

Shane’s new nickname should just be “the blur”

???

???

Practicing his cheerleading moves

Practicing his cheerleading moves?

Whatever.

Whatever.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jerrid

New Era Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato