WTGW 5/29/19: PICK’S at PLX, Portage Lakes

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey kids, it’s patio season again!

And this week’s pick is certainly the poster child for an evening of outdoor dining and drinks. PICK’S is a newer addition to Portage Lakes, and being that it’s located right on the waterfront of course it’s a natural crowd draw. Formerly Nicolette’s Park Place Restaurant and also the catchily named Hook, Line and Drinkers, PICK’s has new owners who remodeled and turned the building into a couple of separate-but-maybe-the-same-but-they-have-different-names-but-share-a-kitchen-but-one-is-trying-to-be-classier-than-the-other venues all under one roof and patio space.

Yet another place that probably should’ve just claimed the name Identity Crisis and been done with it. Seriously, One day we’re going to find a place that takes us up on that concept, whether by our suggestion or not.

Bet you won’t be surprised then that we had a bit of a difficult time trying to figure out just how and where to go to get ourselves a seat in this land of patios and a million names. We walked into the upstairs restaurant first (I believe that one goes by the name Table 530) – but it seemed a little fancy for the patio bar we had heard about and expected to partake in.

So we walked out and followed the noise to the back of the building, where we located a (fully seated) side bar, as well as several layers of decks over the water. And a live band.

About this point we realized we were in the right place, but needed to enlist help in order to ensure a seat. So Jason stopped a girl wearing what looked to be the same shirt that every other worker was wearing, and inquired how we go about getting a table. Her reply? “Yeah, I don’t work over here.” Hmmm. That seems highly unlikely, and more like the answer you give when you just don’t want to be bothered having to find out the real one. Awesome.

We finally flagged down another worker (wearing the same shirt, shocker) – only to have her tell us that we could just basically sit anywhere. Oh. Fabulous. Might want to share that tidbit with the girl who’s raiding your t-shirt stock. Or maybe just make a sign with that information. Just a thought.

All that to say that we ended up with a table inside and not on the patio, since we clearly weren’t the only ones with this idea tonight and we were also late to the literal party.  But at least with the garage doors rolled up it was similar to being outside. And it’s only May peeps, hopefully we still have several months ahead of us to stake out that coveted patio table. Chill.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Hey, look, all the servers are wearing t-shirts advertising White Claw, so at least we know they have it! Yay!

Yeah, just kidding. They’re sold out. Apparently that’s all anyone was drinking over the recent Memorial Day weekend? I mean, guess there’s no sense in restocking or anything.

Oh, wait, the holiday crowd also enjoys Summer Shandy, because they were all out of that also.

Ted ended up with a Guinness. Because nothing says light, summery, patio/beachy drink like a heavy dark Irish beer usually reserved for a winter holiday.

Beer twins Shane and Jason opted for draft Bud Light.

I picked some Michelob Ultra Lime thing, pretty much only because after the two strikes with White Claw and Summer Shandy, it was the most likely option not to be sold out. Well, other than Guinness.

Cassi waited to put a drink order in on that first round, since the White Claw debacle left her unsure of a Plan B. This turned out to be a bad move on her part, since it was at least an hour before the next opportunity arose for her to ask the server to put in a drink order for her.

More on that later.

The Wednesday special is a pepperoni flatbread for $7.99. So why not order that as an app to share?

And by share I mean just for two people to share, not five – so we ended up with two giant pizzas on our table just for appetizers, as well as one order of fried pickles for Ted.

Nothing new there, I know.

Cassi and I both got the Italian Grinder with chips and dip.

Jason got a burger.

Shane got garlic parm wings.

Ted got the perch sandwich and a crock of chili. I seriously think his internal calendar is a little off. I’m not even sure why chili is on a menu in late May, but I would be a little wary. Clearly Ted is a man who takes chances.

The guys also switched to buckets of beer after Ted told them he “saw a sign” stating that they were $12 each. Yeah, he forgot to read the fine print on the sign that says during UFC fights. Whoops.

Also, you’ll notice they didn’t share a bucket. They each got their own. So five beers each, on top of the ones they had ordered in the first round.

I told you Wednesdays were the new Fridays.

Ted’s disappointment was obvious when the fried pickles arrived in the form of spears instead of chips. Note to restaurant owners: stop trying to make this a thing. If we wanted to eat pickles that look like breadsticks we would just go back to Dilly D’s. We do have an unused gift card, after all.

The flatbread was probably the best part of the meal. The crust was good, it had decent flavor, and it was served nice and hot with melted cheese – which may have been the one and only reason Ted was happy he had those fried pickles, in whatever iteration they were served.

Shane liked his wings, said they were tasty.

Cassi was not a fan of the Italian sub, claiming it fell victim to the dreaded curse of the mushy bottom. It’s not just for pizza, kids. Meanwhile, I thought mine was OK. I took half home, just because when you order a meal as an appetizer you kind of end up with a lot of food.

Or at least I tried to take it home anyway. More on that shortly.

THE WHO (we saw)

Dear server,

We miss you. We shouldn’t have to order six buckets of beer at a time just to stay hydrated until we see you again.

Oh and we like food. I mean, we kinda wanted to put that appetizer order in when you arrived with the first round of drinks, but I guess we just didn’t look hungry enough. Our bad.

Also, I’m not sure what kind of commission you get on not handing out boxes, but it must be lucrative. For the record, “I’d love a box” – or, the less friendly derivative, “Still waiting on that box” – isn’t exactly a warm and welcoming reaction to the question “how are you guys doing here?” Staring at plates of half eaten food that we already know we aren’t planning on finishing that evening wasn’t exactly the way we had planned to spend the final hour of our time with you, but I guess you had other ideas for us.

If you want to be mad at someone for the time you bounced up all proud of yourself for bringing the box I had asked for at least four times, only to arrive at our table and see that I already had one … well, you may want to speak with your manager, who knew exactly the correct translation of my mentioned-above answer when he stopped at our table. In fact, I would wager a bet that he spoke with you after we left, so hopefully that’s all clear now.

And when you finally took our credit cards and we felt like the end of this evening may finally be in sight … nope, you marched off to the patio and collected like six more checks. Forgive our mistrust in thinking we were probably going to be paying for Shirley’s PBRs or receiving back Bearded Tom’s Mastercard in place of our own.

Sorry not sorry,
Us.

So that pretty much covers the service issue.

Aside from the fun game of rationing out our drinks and taking bets on when we thought we might actually see our server the next time, our entertainment for the evening was a guy singing beach music in the opposite corner of the patio. Well, at least we think that’s what he was singing anyway. It was probably the only time ever that the music volume was more like background noise and less like something we had to scream over to be heard at our own table.

Speaking of screaming, we heard quite of bit of that from several other tables in the vicinity. Usually when he next platter of shots arrived. Seems like vodka may be the next item on the menu to go temporarily unavailable. Just an observation.

THE HOW (much we paid)

Hey, remember those beer buckets? Looks like they were only $15. I mean, still more than the sign Ted saw, but I guess paying only $3 more than anticipated isn’t so bad. We’ll file that under the “could’ve been worse” tab.

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

We all know that service can kill a place for us. And this place definitely tops the list of worst of the worst. I think by the end of the night we had dubbed it the place for which beer buckets were invented – so you can order several beers at once and then never have to see your server again in the course of your stay.

But we also noticed that several other servers seemed to be busting their butts taking care of their patrons. There was one in particular who was mixing up drinks behind the bar as well as hustling out to tables. So I guess if we could guarantee that we were to get one of those servers, we would be more likely to put this place at the top of the return column. Because honestly the food was OK – I mean, we may order some different things, but we all agreed that we would eat there again. And the atmosphere was great, it’s definitely a place to spend a summer evening or weekend afternoon, especially with a good band that you could actually hear, and nice weather.

I happened across this little gem from about a year ago in which the new owner raves about how they are “trying hard to tackle customer service … we want to be customer service friendly.”

Yeah, keep trying there, Donnie. We may just come back again before this summer is over to see how you’re doing.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi

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WTGW 5/22/19: M&M’s Taphouse, Barberton

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Did you miss us? Come on, you can admit it.

Sorry kids, for some reason it seems like between the five of us we had ALL THE LIFE COMMITMENTS happening on Wednesday nights these past few weeks. I mean, WTF, universe? Don’t you realize who we are? It’s not Where To Go Tuesdays, people. That just sounds lame.

Anyway.

THE WHERE (we went)

So our first Wednesday night out in damn near a month takes us back to the lovely city of Barberton. Specifically, back across the street from our old friend Block 7. We’d have stopped back in to say hello, but I’m not sure any of us were wearing enough layers, what with it finally being summer outside and I’m sure it still being arctic in there and all.

Instead, we head across the street, to M&M’s Taphouse. Which is either located in an old bank building, or someone just thought it would be fun to install a heavy grade vault door on the back storeroom for the hell of it. I mean, whatever floats your boat. Or fills your doorway, I guess, in this instance.

As the name suggests, the specialty at M&M’s is candy flavored beers.

I kid.

It’s actually a rotating stock of craft beers – both on draft and in cans/bottles. They also have a small-ish menu of primarily sliders, flatbreads and shareable apps.

And apparently they’ve jumped on the “keep the drinking crowd entertained and they’ll stay longer and drink more” bar game craze that seems to have found its way to 90% of the places we visit on Wednesday nights these days. From trivia to name that tune, I feel like we’re getting smarter just by leaving the house midweek anymore.

M&M’s variety is something called Beer Bingo, which is pretty much a cooler version of the game played by the 70+ crowd across America, because it involves drinking and getting prizes from local brewery (and one of our recent visits) Thirsty Dog.

Sold.

The only problem was that since the small-ish main area was pretty full of people enjoying this game, and there was a lack of seating options for parties over four who also order a crapload of food, our group ended up in the back room. Which resembled a cross between the local dive bar and the basement of every cool kid we all ever knew in high school.

Admit it, everyone knew someone with this basement. Well, probably minus the vault door

Pinball? Ping pong? Arcade games? Darts? Nintendo?

We may never leave. Seriously. Check that couch in a week or so and we may all be sitting there fighting over the controller for our turn at Tetris.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

You mean other than a few rolls of quarters to play all the pinball we could ever want?

Right. Because we actually aren’t 12 (all the time), and if you’ve read this blog before I bet you won’t be surprised to know we were all hungry and thirsty.

It took us a hot minute to figure out how to go about ordering, as the place is still kind of new and hence still figuring that system out themselves. One of the workers passing by on his way to the backroom must’ve been wearing his newbie radar – or we just had looks on our faces that gave away the fact that we were hungry and a bit clueless on how things worked there – because he was nice enough to stop by to tell us that we should go up to the bar to order, as apparently that’s where the beer list resides (on a TV monitor, we soon learned … so pro tip, maybe invest in another TV for the lack room? Just a thought).

Or maybe his radar was more of the “these people look like they could be taking notes on the place” variety, since he also made a point to tell us that he “didn’t want us to have to wait and therefore have a bad experience.”

Either way, we thank you.

But then as half the table was about to mosey on up to the bar to place some orders, a woman appeared, introduced herself as one of the owners, passed around some menus … and told us that she would be happy to take our orders … again, so we didn’t have to wait.

Well now we’re a little confused. I mean, I appreciate all of the consideration for our time and happiness, but now I can’t get that 80’s Dead or Alive song about spinning right round like a record, baby, out of my head.

Right round round round.

So, yeah, we ended up visiting the bar for drinks, but putting our food orders in via the owner/server. There, everyone wins.

Plus Shane, Ted and I opted to do beer flights, and those were definitely easier to order up at the bar.

By the way, can we just pause for a moment to say a heartfelt thank you to the person who invented the flight of beers? I mean, what a way to cater to those of us whose indecisiveness and alcoholism sometimes wager a war against one another.

Even though by this photo it looks as though I chose four of the same beer.

I realize they’re all the same color. But it’s actually two ciders, a Hefeweizen, and a blueberry shandy. So there.

Teds and Shane’s each had a little more variety.

Meanwhile on the non-flight side of the table, Jason was drinking the Thirsty Dog Blood Orange and Cassi had the dry cider – before eventually switching to White Claw.

We also heard a rumor that they were coming around with beer samples … but despite all of us hearing the bingo host say this and also seeing the bar rep pour an entire tray of samples … somehow we missed that train. Booo.

Both Cassi and Jason and Shane and I ordered the pretzel sticks for apps. They arrived straight from the surface of the sun, so that was pretty awesome for our fingers and the roof of our mouths.

And you know what goes well with a burnt mouth? About 1900lbs of salt, which is a pretty exact measurement of what was on each pretzel stick. I mean, we know one person in the group who at least was fond of that. But the rest of us did a fair amount of scraping to make them to our liking.

Beyond the salt mine, though, they were pretty tasty. And doughy. And hot without being burnt. Score, score and score again. Also, the cheese tasted way better than it looked. Just putting that out there.

You know how we love to order wings and burgers? Yeah, well, mark this one down as a moment in history, because there were actually none of either of those on our table. Which in effect breaks our (I think?) 5 or 6 week streak of having at least one order of wings on the table on a Wednesday night. Sad face.

But really it’s only because I don’t think they were offered on the menu at all, so that could be a technicality. Regardless, tonight’s table specialties were sliders and chips. Well, and Jason’s pizza.

Its very fancy

So the sliders are always two for $8, and that comes with one side. If you just want one, they’re $3.50 each ala cart, without a side.

And the chips aren’t just any old rippled regular chips poured out of a bag – they come in interesting flavors like sour cream and chive or salt and vinegar.

OK, keep talking.

Cassi got two of the Italian sliders, paired with the sour cream and chive chips.

I got the avocado BLT and the Italian, along with a side salad and another side order of sour cream and chive chips.

Ted got two orders of sliders, and tried basically everything on the slider menu except the avocado BLT. Which means the Italian, two kinds of chicken (BBQ and buffalo), and the brisket. And chips and cole slaw.

Shane also went the two order route, with the avocado BLT and Italian, and then – because he assumed from the start that he would just love it the best – two of the brisket. He also sampled both the salt and vinegar and the sour cream and chive chips.

Guess who ended up liking the brisket the best? Not Shane – who voted the Italian as the best of the bunch – but Ted. Although he admitted he might be a little bit biased, since that was the one he ate last.

Clearly we are top notch on the food tasting chain.

(Which means it makes perfect sense that we’ll once again be featured as “celebrity food judges,” for the 4th Annual Scrumptious Showdown at Aurora Farms Outlets on Saturday, June 1st, between 12-3PM. Come out and join Ted, Shane and I as we break out our most comfortable pants that can be worn in public and test the limits of our stomachs by sampling items from 10-15 different food trucks in about an hour’s time. We may or may not have learned a few things over the years of doing this – but you can take notes on us while eating a few of your favorites for yourself. See you there!)

**end shameless plug**

Cassi and I also voted the Italian sliders as winners, although truthfully I liked both of the ones I tried. And the sour cream were the clear winner out of the various chips.

But honestly, everything was good. I guess the best way to say it is that there wasn’t anything that we wouldn’t order again, although some items were preferred over others.

Probably our biggest complaint about the meals – and this is something we’ve actually been seeing quite a bit lately, but would like to put out there that we’re not a fan of it becoming the industry standard – was that rather than having the food come out for the table as a whole, it was delivered as it was finished. And because it’s a small kitchen, that means there can be several minutes between service. I mean, we’re not talking the proportions of the New Milford Café or anything, but still. It’s only slightly awkward when four other really hungry people all circle around like vultures to the only one at the table to have food delivered.

Speaking of things being delivered … we finally got a visit from the beer sample fairy! She brought us tiny glasses of … well, if I’m being honest we didn’t all care so much for the beer – but it was just nice to be remembered, so props.

THE WHO (we saw)

Well, from our kid’s table in the back room, no one, really. Perhaps our reputation of loudly discussing topics that shouldn’t be discussed over meals preceded us?

I mean, on one had that means someone is actually reading this blog. But then again, that’s not exactly the picture I hope to paint of us.

So. Torn.

But wait, we did actually talk to the owners of M&M’s a bit during this visit. There was the woman who took our orders and came back to check on us several times over the course of the night, and then also the guy who was running the beer bingo, who checked into the back room in an attempt to coerce us into playing the game and in the process ended up telling us a bit about the history of the place. I guess that would be a backfire for him, but win for sure for us.

THE HOW (much we paid)

About $60 before tip. Not bad. Honestly, the beer prices were cheaper than some of the divier bars we’ve been to lately. And these are craft beers, not Bud Lite. $8 for a flight seems reasonable, likewise for a 16oz craft at $4.50 – $5.00.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

So all in all M&M’s is a good place. The food was good, they had a great selection of interesting beer – plus several ciders on tap that weren’t named Angry Orchard, which will always get my attention. The games were a nice touch (although maybe offer free play for the pinball and arcade games on weeknights when it’s not too busy, because who really carries cash much anymore?)  And it’s always nice when people go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

Our biggest complaint is probably that they really could use a new seating configuration in the non-game room, or at least more space for parties larger than 2 or 4. As the group who always asks to be seated in the bar and not the dining area, being relegated to the back room with no TVs and no way of interacting with anyone definitely made us feel like we were being punished in some way. We probably could’ve moved into the main room after finishing our meals – by the time we left around 9:30 the front room had cleared out a bit with more places to fit our group – but at the peak time the only option for that would’ve probably involved sitting on laps of strangers, and I’m not sure anyone would be comfortable with that. I mean, I think that whole friendly vibe only goes so far.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Ted

Jason

Steph

Cassi

Interrupting Shane’s fictitious dart game

WTGW 4/17/19: Romeo’s OT Sports Grille, Medina

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THE WHERE (we went)

Oh hey, Granger Road, we remember you. Well, I mean, it’s difficult to forget you when the GPS continuously tells us to turn onto you, but whatever. How can you turn three different directions and yet still be on the same road?

It’s a mystery we attempt to solve every time our travels take us to the northwest side of Medina.

Which, honestly, it’s been a hot minute since we’ve made our way in that direction. But when Jason’s pick is actually in existence and open – and, yes, he called in advance to make sure – then it’s time to do it.

Romeo’s is a sports bar and grille operated by the same place that runs the – you guessed it – Romeo’s pizza chain. Anyone want to take bets on what they specialize in?

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Yay for Mango White Claw! You can pretty much rest assured anytime they have that someplace then one or both of us girls will order this. And two of the three guys will order Bud Light, as that seems to be Jason and Shane’s drink of choice these days.

Word to the wise: they try to class up the White Claws by pouring them into a glass with ice … but since the entire can doesn’t quite fit into the glass, you end up also getting the can anyway. With like two sips of alcohol left in it. Both Cassi and I thought for a hot minute that the server had just brought us glasses of water and someone else’s nearly empty drinks.

That’s a mean trick, Romeo

I’m sure you can imagine how happy we were to believe that.

Ted asked for a dark beer, and after the server came back and told him sorry, he had actually ordered something that they no longer offered (shocker, I know), Ted decided to take a chance on something aptly called “I’m feeling dangerous” instead.

It arrived looking like a mimosa. Which actually is pretty dangerous if you’re Ted.

Cassi and Jason got the loaded cheesy bread as an app.

Appetizers 101: how NOT to share with Ted

It definitely lived up to its title, being both cheesy and bread-y. Beyond that I don’t have much information, except that they had to stop eating it if they wished to also finish their meals, which would consist of more of the same ingredients.

Meanwhile Shane and I got the tower of onion rings. Which was more like a small bungalow than a tower but whatever.

As already mentioned, Romeo’s specializes in all things Italian. So it makes perfect sense that Ted ordered the Western Chicken Sandwich, with sweet potato fries and a side of chili.

But hey, it was a way to avoid all things associated with cheese, so I guess we can’t fault him there.

He was a big fan of the honey sauce that came with the sweet potato fries, saying it was “interesting … in a good way.” He was expecting a cinnamon sauce, so this was a surprise – but at least not an unwelcome one.

He said the sandwich was surprisingly good, especially considering what some might find to be an odd mix of flavors combined together between two buns. According to Ted, the mix was something like putting Doritos, spicy ranch sauce and jalepenos on top of chicken. And adding bread. So kind of like a taco salad as a sandwich. Or something a drunk college student might put together if they missed out on that Taco Bell stop on the way home.

While Ted was enjoying his own little Mexican meal on a plate, the rest of us definitely took Romeo’s up on their extensive fast-Italian offerings. It was a whole lotta pizza and Stromboli around our end of the table.

Well, and wings. Because if a Wednesday night goes by and at least one person doesn’t order wings, was it really a Wednesday night?

Exactly.

Shane’s Cajun on the left, and Jason’s honey mustard on the right

Jason also ordered the Texas BBQ chicken pizza. Which has exactly what you’d expect as a topping … sausage.

I kid. It’s Texas BBQ chicken. You guys are too smart for me.

Shane opted for the Butcher Block pizza. The alternate name of which could be A Vegetarian’s Nightmare.

They both said it was OK. Like it definitely wasn’t at the head of Shane’s Top (insert number of the week here) List, but it also wasn’t anything they would leave behind if there were leftovers.

Cassi and I both started our meals out with a giant pile of pungent onions on some lettuce. Or, as they call it at Romeo’s, a side salad.

How many onions were killed in the making of this salad?

Good thing we’re all friends at this table.

She and I also represented Team Stromboli this week. Cassi got a Veggie, with our favorite form of condiment math: minus the onions but plus the banana peppers.

I got the Pepperoni Feast, which kind of leaves nothing to the imagination as to what is included inside of it. I also added mushrooms, and extra cheese – just to be different. And because I like to add extra assurance that Ted will not steal my food.

Not that you can tell how mine is any different from Cassi’s, but I took the picture so why not post it.

The Stromboli was good. And portion-wise it was just enough: not so big that it left you feeling as stuffed as the turkey on Thanksgiving, but enough that you were definitely no longer wanting to eat anything else.

THE WHO (we saw)

The place is pretty busy on Wednesday nights, thanks to a little thing they do called Music Trivia. Which we figured out after observing a few rounds was like if regular bar trivia and the app Shazam had a baby. And of course we dominated the first game of the night that we were just observing, and kind of fell off the bus a little during the game that actually mattered.

But it’s worth it to once again hear someone with a microphone mention the Moist Towlettes to the entire bar.

And on screen presence even!

We’re singular this week. Think anyone still knew it was us?

At least we apparently DO know Muzak, or at least more than that team does anyway

Hey, we actually got a server who wasn’t also pouring our drinks behind the bar! That’s a welcome development.

Or it would’ve been, if only it had helped getting things out to us quicker. Our server – who, I have to believe, thought we would never stop ordering things when it came time to take our food orders – and you would think take a cue from that to check on us often for drinks … well … didn’t.

Case in point, the time we ordered another round for the table, and she assumed that apparently that meant everyone except Jason, because his beer took about 10 extra minutes to make its way to our table. And did I mention he was drinking the same thing as Shane? Must’ve fresh brewed that Bud Light just for him. Thanks?

THE HOW (much we paid)

Not too bad, considering the amount of very filling food we ordered. Although I do take offense to charging $3.99 for that pile onions and cheese they called a salad. I mean, for $2 more I should’ve just been less healthy and gotten wings.

THE WHY (they may not see us again)

Well, I mean, as much as we love Granger Road … it was kind of a far drive for wings and pizza the same caliber of which we could find closer to home. Would we go there if in Medina and looking for a decent meal? Yeah, probably not – especially given other options nearby that we have rated far higher than this. Ted was the only one who really seemed overly thrilled with his meal. I guess maybe that should tell us something about the items this place is actually known for?

The one thing we might think about returning for would be the music trivia, as that was more fun than the bar trivia – and I say this as a team that didn’t even come close to winning.

Speaking of which … who’s up for that return visit to cash in our winnings at Dilly D’s? That gift card can’t last forever.

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Ted

Jason

Cassi

Shane. Is that and “O” for OK?

Steph

Ted

WTGW 3/20/19: Thirsty Dog Taphouse, Akron

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey, look kids, it’s someplace that’s not a half hour away in the middle of nowhere!

Which makes it all the more surprising that we haven’t been to Thirsty Dog Taphouse prior to this visit. While the brewery itself has been around for a while (and we’ve definitely sampled their beer offerings at other locations around the area over the years), the taphouse with food offerings is fairly new. Maybe it opened last summer? You’d think a group like ours would know these things, right? And especially when it’s this close to home, we’re usually quicker to jump on them. Instead we’re busy fleshing out spots on backroads in Massilon. Whateves.

Another plus – TDT not only serves their own craft beers, but also has a full bar available. So those nights you’re just not feeling the 12% porter, go ahead and get yourself a few stiff shots of Jameson instead.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Flights of beer. Duh.

High tech post it note abbreviation system

That was all me, Shane and Ted. On the other side of the table, Cassi stuck with the raspberry ale, while Jason tried a couple of different full sized glasses.

On the food side of things, it seems our table was decisively either Team Sliders

Pulled pork, meatball and sausage. It’s hard to tell which is which, but they’re all there.

or Team Pizza

Cassi’s pepperoni and banana pepper

Ted’s jalapeno and sausage

My sausage, mushroom and extra cheese

Well, except Jason, who had to be different and get the pulled pork.

And Shane, who apparently just couldn’t get enough of sandwiches this evening, so he added a full kielbasa to his order of sliders.

That’s a lot of bread

And Ted got both the sliders and pizza. Way to be impartial.

So there’s that.

We also got a few orders of pretzels for apps, because we obviously had no idea how many carbs were about to arrive at this table.

The pretzels were really good. We all liked them, and the cheese and mustard dipping sauces were all good, too – if not completely inappropriately portioned to the amount of pretzel that came with them.

Oh, and Cassi also got a salad.

Everything was very good. The pizzas were tasty, and giant – so definitely enough for a take home container. I was glad to have splurged on the extra cheese as a topping, it was well worth the $2.00 upcharge.

Ted voted the pulled pork slider the best of his trio, with the meatball coming in second and the sausage last. When he threw this vote out, Shane had only eaten the meatball. Because, you know, he had that whole kielbasa sandwich to get through first. Technicality. So he saved his pulled pork slider for last, based on Ted’s vote.

So trusting.

But it worked out for him, he was I agreement that that was the best of the three. So maybe Jason was on to something with just ordering that full sandwich from the get go, eh?

THE WHO (we saw)

Hey, Wednesday night, thanks for bringing your party to the Taphouse! In March, no less. Not too shabby of a crowd for the middle of the week – or maybe we’re just scarred from last week with the old timers and melancholy jukebox hero from Wil’s. In any case, tonight we were joined by a few other full tables of folks, plus a couple of groups at the bar.

All this, and they’re only open until 9pm.

Wait, what now? That seems a tad Cinderella-ish to close down the party that early in the evening. Let’s just say we were the last table out the door, and they were literally locking it behind us. At 8:55.

Huh. Noted.

Our server was also the only bartender on staff this evening. So considering what I just mentioned, they really could’ve used more than one person, no? It took her a hot minute to come get our drink orders after we arrived, which she told us was because someone had come in wanting to fill a growler. Well OK then.

And when she finally did take our food order she was not at all impressed with how much of the menu we selected. Bonus points for when I inquired about what she recommended in the battle of the pizza vs. sliders … and her reply was the old classic “they’re both good.” Bravo. We all know how much this group finds that answer super helpful and not at all dismissive.

We also found ourselves in another “you ordered last so you get to watch everyone else eat” situation. When she brought Shane’s and Jason’s sandwiches she warned us it would still be a full five minutes on the last pizza. Oh, cool. That might’ve been better information to have when I ordered, but thanks.

THE HOW (much we spent)

In case you can’t read the fine print, that’s $75 before tip. So almost $90 total out the door.

Ouch.

That definitely makes this one of our more expensive nights out in a while. And it’s not like we got steaks and bottle service. Also, the menu itself isn’t even that extensive. I think approximately half of the available items ended up on our table at some point in the evening.

It did seem like the pizzas were kind of pricey, but I’m guessing they probably expected groups of people to split those. Little did they know that this table is more like

THE WHY (they may see us again)

Cool vibe, although literally rolling up the sidewalks at 8:55 was a bit of a downer. The food was pretty good and so was the beer. And it’s close to home, which is always something we’re searching for. But the hefty price tag may make us rethink this as a crowd favorite.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Steph

Shane

WTGW 2/13/19: Conestoga Grille, Canton

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THE WHERE (we went)

Conestoga Grille, in the heart of Downtown Canton. Which felt like a million miles away since of course we were all hungry. Shocker, I know. Then we had to warn Ted about a divided highway after last week’s adventure. Because this is definitely the group to be around when it comes to forgetting past mistakes.

See also: Gus’ Chalet, the place with two things on the menu, and a very aptly named but memorable-for-the-wrong-reasons place in Richfield.

The front of the Conestoga Grille pretty much immediately screams dive bar, thanks in part to a dark street and a wildly  flickering sign in the front window. And that was even before we saw they have cans of Hamm’s on special.

Insider tip, once again the window table will look alluring, but unless you want to wear your coat or not feel your nose throughout the meal you may want to rethink that seating option.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

If you don’t like IPAs you’ll want to steer clear of the draft beer options. But they did have White Claw, so there’s that. And of course Hamm’s.

In this week’s edition of let’s interrogate the server about the menu, we learned that the pizza and the wings are good, and the burgers are a top seller. When Jason upped the ante and asked for a further definition of what was better between the burgers and the pizza, she claimed that was a tough call because, well, she personally likes the pizza … but they sell a lot of burgers … but she’s never actually tried one of the burgers there before so she couldn’t really give us an honest opinion.

OK then. If you can make sense of this then you get a medal. Or a burger. We’re not really sure.

Jason ended up getting the Bacon BBQ burger. If that tells you anything.

Looks like a winner

Meanwhile Cassi got the 9 inch pepperoni pizza with a side salad. If that also tells you anything.

Where’s the middle? It’s like they baked this on the smallest pan ever

In what I suppose was an attempt to be helpful, the server turned to Jason after Cassi ordered and basically said “well, there you go, since she ordered a pizza and you got a burger then it seems you can try them both after all.”

Cassi: Uh, nope.

And thus the server learned a very important lesson about how this group doesn’t necessarily share food.

Although it worked out OK, because they each liked their respective orders.

I chose the other on the list of best sellers, the wings. I got 10 of the garlic parm wings.

So far so good

And they didn’t disappoint. They were decent sized, and had good flavor.

I also got a side salad, which was, well, a side salad. There’s not much to say about vegetables in this group.

Shane got the pizza, which he customized with about a billion toppings following an explanation of the menu pricing for such that went a little like the scene at the end of the movie Clue where they’re trying to count the number of bullets left in the gun

He also got 10 wings. And a basket of fries, which supposedly he was only getting because I was sharing with him but I barely got out the first consonant of “yes” before he decided to order.

Which probably confused the hell out of the server when it comes to our stance on that whole food sharing thing, but whatevs.

I’ll take a pizza with all crust pieces and a zillion toppings, please

Ted got the jalepeno wings. Here’s something fun, they were actually jalepeno parm wings, but the menu failed to mention that whole parm thing. Fun, right? I mean, especially for someone who hates cheese. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ted recoil from a plate of food before, but this certainly warranted that reaction. I think he might’ve reacted less if you’d set down a platter of snakes in front of him.

Which may say something about Ted. Just saying.

But he was a champ and tried them anyway. And admitted that they actually weren’t too horrible. He said the jalepeno was far more evident of a flavor than the cheese, and since the parm was more of a shaving/dusting situation than a giant melted mess, he wasn’t all that disappointed.

Those look … green?

But for future reference, they may want to note that on the menu. Also because the rest of the table was a little jealous when they saw what was served and admitted they may have tried that flavor if they’d known parm was involved.

Ted also got the Dr. Seuss burger. In keeping with the theme of his dinner, it arrived with a giant jalepeno on it, the likes of which had a scent that definitely carried across the table. But for his sake, at least that meal was sans cheese.

And Ted really liked it. He said that the ham on it was super salty, but the flavor of that combined with the egg and the peppers made it all work. He’s never had something with that many flavors going on – well, that still managed to taste good anyway.

THE WHO (we saw)

Let’s just say that having two bartenders/servers on the schedule for the evening may have been a little overzealous on the scheduler’s part. There may have been about five other people in the bar along with us this Wednesday evening, and two of them were getting paid to be there. But the trade off to that was that we got decent service, and our server was super nice.

THE HOW (much we paid)

So remember that whole “this is kind of a dive bar” and “awesome, they serve Hamm’s in cans” feel from the start of the evening. Yeah, not to much after the bill arrived. I’m not sure in what world the 12oz cans of Hamms should be $3 each, because that seems a little pricey. And $5 for a White Claw? Someone please visit the local supermarket and let them know the case of six cans is – well, let’s just say no one would be paying $30 for that.

Oh, and the pic of our receipt is incorrect, since Jason and Cassi got one of our wing orders on their bill, so that final number should be $10 more. All total, we ended up at like $77 after tip. At a dive bar. Seems a little pricey, no?

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

All that being said, if we find ourselves in the downtown Canton area again I believe we would revisit. The food was really good, one of those rare evenings where everyone liked their meals – which is saying something considering Ted’s unwelcome surprise. And being that the place wasn’t busy so we got great service – even before Shane outed us as bloggers. Dude, we’re trying to keep things low key here. I mean, we’re already celebrity judges for food truck events. Before we know it people will start asking to be in our pictures with us. I’m not sure we’re ready for that status yet.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi

Conestoga Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 12/5/18: REVISIT – Tim’s Pizzeria, Cuyahoga Falls

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We were just a foursome this week since Jason had to work late. And since last week’s last minute changeup means it’s technically his pick this week, we decided to just do a revisit this week.

It wasn’t until we were seated inside Tim’s that we started to ponder exactly how long it had been since our first and only visit to what remains one of our favorite pizza places in the area. Thank you, faithful blog, for being our weekly diary and allowing us to go back in time to … well, almost exactly two years ago -December 7th, 2016. Something about the holidays must scream let’s go out for pizza and pasta? Sounds logical.

Actually, once we realized the date I recalled that at that visit we had been talking about seeing a sign for an upcoming holiday party … and sure enough, fast forward back to present day, and I look up by the bar on the neon signboard to see another notice for this year’s party, taking place in a few weeks on December 17th.

Commence exact same conversation about whether or not we should attend. Welcome to WTGW, deja vu style.

To be honest, we were all pretty surprised to realize it’s been two years and that this was our first time back. I mean, the last line of the blog post from that visit reads “You can only keep Shane away from his new love for so long, right?”

But I guess when he’s also being introduced to new things like sketchy $1 burgers or places that only have two things on the menu or $7 steak specials over the course of the next two years, the fight to be the object of his affection changes weekly.

The struggle is real, folks.

Tim’s was pretty busy when we walked in around 6:45. We lucked out and got the last open table in the main bar, which means yet again we have to only wonder what the “additional seating” area looks like beyond the restroom doors. And also the patio, because, well, it’s December, and we aren’t that desperate.

Speaking of desperate, it seems that’s exactly how some of the residents in the area surrounding Tim’s are getting when it comes to protecting their lawns and driveways from patrons. There really isn’t much of a parking lot for the restaurant, so many people park down the side streets around the place. Beware of the house with the homemade sign warning you to stay 5ft away from the driveway, and the person on lookout from the window to ensure you heed the warning. Just saying.

In any case, the place started to clear out a little after about 7:30. Not completely empty by any means – but a few more tables definitely opened up. So if you want to avoid “I may have a gun or a baseball bat or just be downright cray-cray” parking monitor, maybe just come after that time.

Consider that your PSA. You’re welcome.

So while we were reminiscing about our last visit to Tim’s of course we had to check to see what dishes we liked the last time – other than the pizza of course – so we didn’t miss out on ordering them again. The breaded mushrooms were a big hit, so Shane and I opted for those again. Shane asked the server how many you get in the order and she said it was done by weight, not count.

Translation: you’re probably going to be disappointed, so just order two batches. Plus they’re only $2.50 each, so no brainer.

Ted decided not to get the three. full. meals. he ordered the last time … and instead just went with 10 hot garlic wings and an 8-cut pizza. With no cheese, of course, because that was probably the thing that endeared Ted the most to this place.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world will just be over here thinking about all the things pizza without cheese sounds just as disgusting as. Like pumpkin pie without cool whip. Or well done steak without any sort of steak sauce. Or mashed potatoes without gravy. Or bread without butter. Just, why.

So, remember how I said Ted decided to not order as much this time? Well … so, looking back it seems that last time he got a smaller 4-cut pizza along with his wings and an order of ravioli … and this time he upsized the pizza to an 8-cut but left out the ravioli. Kind of evens things out, no?

I can say it didn’t seem to buy us any more room on the table, if that counts for anything.

Shane barely had to look at the menu to decide that he was getting the same stuffed banana pepper pizza that he ordered the first time we came. It had gotten rave reviews online prior to our last visit, and he definitely added his to the long list.

I asked the server what was better – a pizza (which sounded good and I was afraid I would have food envy once everyone else at the table had one) or baked rigatoni (which I got last time and liked). She immediately responded that the rigatoni was better, so that’s what I got.

It came with a side salad and a giant basket of bread, too, neither of which you can go wrong with.

Cassi got an 8 cut pizza – pepperoni and mushroom, with banana peppers on half – and a side salad. She also got a side of the cheesy garlic bread.

Our salads arrived first, full of cheese just like we like them, along with the basket of bread.

This is more like our version of health food

The giant basket of bread is essentially the Italian restaurant version of chips and salsa

Then the mushrooms.

Smart choice on that whole two orders thing

Then the garlic bread – which smelled great from the moment it arrived at the table. Ted even commented that it smelled delicious. Although once he finally looked at it and noticed the copious amount of cheese it was covered with he changed his tune a little. It’s like walking into a house thinking someone has been baking cookies all day when it reality it’s just a few cleverly placed candles.

They should just call this plate “heaven”

Next came Ted’s wings. Which totally negated the garlic bread smell by just smelling, well, hot.

Those are bigger than some of the “jumbo” wings we’ve seen other places

I joked that it seemed like every 15-20 minutes someone was just going to show up at the table with a new plate of food for us. Like the revolving door of food options.

I know, it sounds magical, right? This is definitely a world I could get used to living in.

And at least this time each new plate was for a different person at the table. After our past experiences of late with one order being delivered in its entirety all at one time, we really weren’t complaining.

The pizzas all arrived next, one by one, as I think the servers were trying to figure out if we had enough room on the table for all of the giant plates.

One giant pizza all for one person. The lack of cheese means none of us will touch it.

Cassi’s split order

Shane’s hot banana pepper pizza. Aren’t the toppings supposed to go on top of the sauce?

And then my rigatoni.

I asked for Ted’s cheese on my dish. OK, I didn’t – but I should’ve.

Everything was so good. Cassi took one bite of her pizza and immediately declared it delicious. Over the course of the evening the rating migrated from an initial spot in her Top 5, to her Top 3 … and by the time we left she was calling it her favorite pizza in the entire Akron area.

Ted mentioned she was stealing Shane’s rating system. Although he was too engrossed in his pizza to really notice. He once again was not disappointed with his choice, which is not only tasty but also served as a great nasal decongestant due to the heat of the peppers.

There’s a commercial in there somewhere. Tim, let’s talk.

My rigatoni was really good. It was definitely straight from the oven – the layer of skin I lost with those first few bites can attest to that – but honestly it was well worth the sacrifice.

Shockingly, all of us needed to-go boxes. I know, this is new – but also keep in mind we had a lot of carbs on our table – plus the beer and other drinks – and despite our weekly training our stomachs can only take so much. And I think we made a good effort. Ted ate his entire pizza and took the wings home. Shane had a few pizza slices he couldn’t manage, and I had about half my rigatoni.

Meanwhile Cassi took home half of her pizza which I think is supposed to be a late meal for Jason after he gets home from work … but we’ll see if she actually even tells him or just hides it in the back of the fridge for her own dinner another evening.

I know what I would do. Just saying.

OK Tim, let’s make a pact not to not let another two years go by before we meet again, ‘k? We’re too good for each other not to be together. Really.

Picked by: Steph (well, kind of. I suggested the revisit. Basically we’re all out of order now, so we may just flip a coin at this point to see who goes next for picks)

WTGW 11/7/18: 91 Wood Fired Oven, Canton

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Hey, remember a few weeks ago when we were visiting dive bars and our entire group’s collective bill was like $50?

Yeah, we’ve clearly moved up in the world.

That doesn’t look like a canned beer

It’s like when you get your first real adult apartment and try to compare it to your college place that classified as an apartment pretty much only by the verdict that it had four walls, a door, and functioning plumbing.

91 Wood Fired Oven is owned by the same people who have a few of our other Canton-area picks: 3 Brothers, and Table 6. I know, we all see what they did there with the numbers. Ted has been holding onto this pick for a bit now waiting to finish out the trifecta.

Wednesday brings us a short list of $6 martini specials until 9pm (again, numbers. What is it with these people and multiples of three?), so at least that gave things a promising start. I got the melon.

Spoiler alert: it looked and sounded more promising than it tasted. The fact that I only had one should speak for itself.

Moving on.

Since they didn’t have Shane’s signature namesake martini at this place, he went with a Blue Moon (future me says wise choice on that one, bud), while Ted and Jason got whatever porter was on draft.

For the second week in a row Ted looked at the menu for about five seconds and then declared this was going to be a expensive meal – and not just because he got used to our weeks of entrees for $1 each. Instead it was due to his decision that he would forgo an appetizer in order to actually get two dinners – a meat lovers pizza, and the grilled tenderloin skewer.

Because we all know Ted loves meat on a stick.

Ah, that never gets old.

Well those are definitely bite sized

Meanwhile on the other side of the table, Jason got the pretzel bite app all for himself, along with a BBQ chicken pizza – since Cassi was still abstaining from all things alcoholic, carb-loaded and topped with cheese.

Which makes a pizza place a real treat, I know.

She ended up with the Brussels Sprout Salad.

Which just by name alone seems that it should fit more in a photo frame with my martini glass than the appetizer that Shane and I got: the double chip platter, half covered in blue cheese and half covered in bacon and cheddar.

You can put it on a classy plate all you want – it’s still chips covered in cheese

You can hand a girl a martini glass, but you can’t make her drink it with something other than true bar food. True story.

OK, I admit, I did go back up a notch with my dinner order of Smoked Gouda Risotto. So there’s that.

Shane, meanwhile, copied half of Ted’s dual dinner and ordered the meat lovers pizza.

OK, so now that you know what was supposed to come to the table this evening … let’s talk about what we really ended up with.

Cassi’s salad arrives looking like literally just lettuce. Seems a bit of a red flag that something called Brussels Sprout salad wouldn’t have even one of said item on it, no? Exactly.

Oh good, a plate of something I could’ve bought in a bag at the grocery store for $3

So we called the server over and he confirmed that it was definitely not the right salad. He took it to the back and returned a few minutes later with what appeared to be the same plate, just with some Brussels Sprouts as garish.

Oh look, they added … more green stuff

Interesting.

My risotto arrived looking more like a meat entrée. Which was weird considering that chicken, while mentioned in the description of the dish, wasn’t anywhere in the title. So, yeah, it should certainly look like two giant pieces of chicken in a bowl instead of … well … a bowl of risotto with maybe some chicken pieces in it. OK.

That brown risotto is ruining the rest of the dish

And it didn’t take more than a few bites for me to realize that not only would I prefer the visual of said dish prepared in that fashion, but the taste also. I mean, the risotto was good – it was rich, so I probably couldn’t have eaten more than what I had anyway – but the chicken really killed it for me. Not only were the pieces too thick, giving me flashbacks to the time Hooley House tried to serve up a salmonella sandwich for one … but the taste was just not great.

On the pizza front, Shane spent a few moments trying to figure out why they forgot to put cheese on his. Did Ted call ahead and tell them we were all allergic, as a joke? Had they heard us talking about Cassi’s diet and figured the rest of the group would want to be sympathetic?

Nope, that’s just how they come here.

Did the cheese evaporate when you sprinkled the special shrinking dust on it?

It’s also missing about half the size we’re used to for pizzas in this group. It’s like when you put a sweater in the dryer by accident and it comes out looking like something that now fits your dog or 4-year old niece.

It looks so small and sad

And it wasn’t just the pizzas that seemed small. Ted thought he would have leftovers, being that he did order two full entrees … but because the pizza was microwave sized and the meat on a stick was taken from special cows bred to be about the same size as chickens, well, lets just say he reached the point of “it’s not worth it to waste a to-go box on what won’t end up being a full meal anyway,” and just let that last slice of pizza stay with the plate.

The knife is bigger than the meat lollipop

That’s not to say he wasn’t full, though. I think out of all of us, he was the one most likely to say no to a support stop at Taco Bell on the way home.

Or to a dessert menu. Of course we had to tease Ted when the desserts were mentioned, because when we were at both of this establishment’s sister restaurants we thought we were full and then we went ahead with dessert anyway because they sounded so delicious. And we weren’t disappointed.

I mean need to talk about pumpkin love again? Especially when it is that season right now and it’s likely we won’t get back there before they take it off the seasonal menu again. Someone needs to make a note right now to schedule a revisit every fall just so we can go there and fill up on fried pickles and pumpkin love.

There’s a sentence that shouldn’t be read out of context.

Overall, this was a bit of a disappointing pick. It was definitely our least favorite restaurant from their umbrella, and I have to believe the one we would be least likely to head back to anytime soon. Not to say this place is awful by any means – but if you have the choice of 3, 6 or 9 … let’s just say that less is more where these places are concerned.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Shane – with a non-Ted backdrop

Steph

Jason

Cassi

91 Wood Fired Oven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato