WTGW 12/20/17: George’s Lounge, Canton

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You know you’re officially part of the WTGW group when you get an official pick. Welcome aboard, Cassi!

The first one is always the most intimidating, because, well, us. I mean, I think there might be a photo of us next to the word ruthless in the dictionary. We get it.

But I have to say Cassi did well with her first pick. I personally was impressed straight off with the fact that she found a place I had never even heard of before. Like hadn’t even crossed my radar. And I keep a damn LIST of places for future reference. Yeah, I’m THAT guy. I know.

Although maybe this one fell to the side because the name had “Lounge” in the title. That’s right up there with “Chalet” on the list of names that probably are frequented by an age group a few demographic rungs above ours.

Fortunately for us, though, George and Gus don’t seem to have the same clientele. I mean, yes, there were older people in attendance. But also much younger than us as well. And businessmen, and guys who could’ve been bikers, and groups of millenials, and date nights … pretty much any group of people you can think of were cycled in and out of this place in the time that we were there. It was quite the interesting group of people under one roof, to say the least.

I think we probably fell under the title of “newbies” to anyone (else) looking to label people that evening, since we walked in and were obviously clueless about how things worked at George’s. Now, to our credit, it’s more than a tad confusing. Let’s do a re-enactment, shall we?

So you walk in the door and basically smack directly into the person unlucky enough to be seated at the bar with their back to the door. Hi, random stranger, nice to meet you. But while their seating location might be unfortunate, the fact that they even have a seat at all is pure luck. Because – as we found out after some awkward loitering and finally the pity of a server who noticed our huddling uncomfortably in a corner at the back and gave us the lowdown – the place is seat yourself, although no sign or person will tell you that right off. The bar is also about the size of my living room, so “seating yourself” becomes a bit of an Olympic sport when you have about 25 barstools and a handful of tables to choose from. There was a strange little back room, too, that Cassi peeked into … but it appeared to be consumed with large groups and someone I believe might’ve been squatting on all of the remaining tables for his friends who were supposedly showing up eventually. Helpful.

I think you could seriously sell “seat at George’s Tavern” online via Facebook Marketplace and make a boatload of money.

Luck smiled on us, though, as we spotted two open seats at the back of the bar … and just as we were about to at least grab those while we scoped out access to a booth (read: stared awkwardly at anyone who looked like they may leave soon), the guys to the right of those two bar seats offered up that they were about to leave and we were welcome to steal their two seats as well. Score.

Obviously they hadn’t thought about that Facebook Marketplace thing yet. You can thank me later, previously kind gentlemen.

The first thing we noticed was that the beer list was rather impressive. Like where are you keeping all of these beers when the place barely holds seating for as many people as there are names on this list?

It’s also divided into sections – $2, $3, $4 and $5 options. Beautiful. Thank you for making this easy.

Well, for us anyway. Cassi and I each chose a Ciderboys cider that we’d both had before and liked. Shane continued his Hamm’s kick (hey, $2!). Ted tried to order something that – according to the bartender – the computer said there should’ve been five left of, but then when she checked the cooler they weren’t there. Whoops. Maybe they found an open booth and were holding it down for future drinkers of their kind.

Undeterred, Ted discovered some milk stout from North High Brewery that looked appetizing, so he went with that. And then changed up to something else completely different for the next round, so I guess that tells you what he thought of that first one.

This week’s food theme seems to be “great minds think alike,” as we all ordered some variation of the same thing it seemed. Starting with apps: Shane and I got the jalapeno cheese poppers, while Cassi got the pepperoni ones.

Ted got pretzel bites, because, well, they don’t contain cheese. Although in a nasty twist of fate, they did come with a cheese dip … which Ted didn’t discover until he dipped a pretzel bite into it and smelled it, then determined it was his nemesis, cheese.

Shane was nice enough to take that one off his hands. What a friend. Of course with this group it’s probably less about friendship and more about not wasting food, especially if it tastes good.

I was a little skeptical of the poppers when they arrived, since they more resembled a Stromboli than the typical jalapenos or bread filled with cream cheese or regular cheese and pepperoni. If they hadn’t said “poppers” when they set them down in front of us I might’ve thought they got the wrong seats.

Dear poppers: you’ve changed since our last meeting

I think someone needs to get the menu writers a dictionary

Although after tasting them I don’t care if they had made them look like a plate of spaghetti, I would eat them without question.  They were that good. Ours came with ranch to dip in, and it was also some of the best ranch I’ve ever tried. I mean, I know that’s not saying much considering I don’t typically eat ranch dip in the first place so the competition isn’t fierce in that category. Whatevs. Maybe the fact that I was eating it at all was the bigger compliment.

Close-call-cheese-incident aside, Ted liked his pretzels. He was also a bit worried when they arrived, since in the “appetizer costume contest” that seemed to be going on here they chose “little deep fried balls of grease” as their cover. Interesting. But they turned out to be really good.

Do they bread the pretzels before they cook them? Do they not realize pretzels are … um … bread??

For dinner it was burgers all around. Fingers crossed I get these picutres in the right order.

Ted got the Spicy Jorge – minus the pepper jack cheese, of course. So maybe it should be renamed the “semi-spicy Jorge” then? Because that really just left some salsa and jalapenos for toppings. Although by his account the jalapenos more than made up for the lack of spicy cheese, since they were definitely of the extra-kick variety. Maybe they used the extra special “we hate cheese so don’t put it on my burger” jar for him.

That’s a lot of toppings in one little boat

Cassi got the Wednesday special burger, which I have no idea now what toppings that included, but do remember that when the server mentioned it to us it sounded pretty good. So there’s that.

No, that’s not mold on Cassi’s bun. It’s the glow from the cooler light behind us. Honestly.

She said it was good. The jalapeno jam that came with it as a spread was super hot, but also super tasty.

Side note: I think this may be the most I’ve used the word “jalapeno” in one post. Hmm.

I made my own burger, using the grass fed beef, ciabatta bread, mozzerella, bacon and mushrooms, with a garlic aioli as a spread. No jalapenos, sorry. But I just felt the need to type the word one more time.

Evil little cup of delicious-sounding condiments. And ditto from Cassi’s burger on the green hue

It was OK. For “medium” it was very, very pink on the inside. Like if I get sick before this post goes up, someone may want to pay George a little visit. Just saying. But the burger itself was still good.

Now the garlic aioli that I thought would be delicious and that I slathered my bun with … well that pretty much made it inedible. I eventually just picked out the burger and ate that – which made me sad because it meant I had to abandon the ciabatta (i.e. my favorite bread and my main reason for making my own burger, as the pre-made options that I liked didn’t come on ciabatta) virtually untouched save for a few bites.

Insert sad face here.

Shane got the Gorgeous George, which is two patties on a regular bun with a fried egg, bacon, sautéed mushrooms and onions.

I know this one is Shane’s because of the Hamm’s in the background

Now, prior to his meal being set down in front of him we were discussing the George’s Challenge, which is three of those sandwiches, along with a full basket of fries and a milkshake. And you have to eat it in 60 minutes.

Shane, inspecting his one sandwich when it arrived: “Those patties are thin, I could add one more.”
Me, not wanting to burst his bubble but knowing he was wrong: “Uh, it’s not three of those patties, it’s three of this same full sandwich. Like six patties, six buns, and all the toppings three times.”

Thus followed a somewhat lengthy discussion of both me and the bartender trying to convince him I was right. Because, well, I was.

Needless to say he didn’t try it. All of us and our health insurance provider appreciate that decision.

Instead we were treated to the show that was Shane trying to eat that giant burger without any utensils of any kind. Namely a knife. Now all of us rational people get that obviously he could’ve asked for one (I mean, I asked for a fork, and lo and behold it arrived) but I guess that was too difficult. More difficult than trying to pick the burger up and eat it on its own? Seems that way. Because he instead basically ate the one patty with the top bun and the other with the bottom bun like two different sandwiches.

He said it was OK, but the burger patties themselves didn’t have much taste. Maybe you have to eat them together to get the full effect? Just a thought.

Our group had mixed feelings on – of all things – the fries. I know they usually don’t get much play in our postings – typical side dish choice, and really, how often does a place really screw up fries?

Well, for Cassi, they didn’t. She got the regular fries “old fashioned sea salt” fries. They were large cut, seasoned well with salt, and tasty. She choose wisely.

The rest of us got the “fancy fries” and chose the “Italian festival” style, which were topped with balsalmic vinegar, garlic and parm cheese. Sounds good, right?

“Sounds” is the operative word there. Well, the guys will tell you they tasted that way as well, but I was less than thrilled. I thought the balsalmic was overwhelming. Like let’s go easy here, I don’t need an entire bottle on my order. Plus I don’t particularly enjoy soggy things, which is what toasted potatoes basically become after a few minutes of any sort of liquid sits on them. See also: why those tiny ketchup containers were invented.

(BTW, if you’re confused by any of our burgers or what these strange things called “fancy fries” really are, there are handy little illustrations on their website you might want to check out. Why don’t all places have picture menus?)

Because Ted apparently felt the need to try all the alcohol this week, he ended the night ordering one of the alcoholic milkshakes – the strawberry, which he didn’t remember what the menu said was in it after he ordered, but it sounded good. And hey, it’s alcohol, so who really cares about the specifics, right?

The server who brought it out was incredibly surprised when he came to drop it off and Ted was the one to claim it. He immediately looked to us girls, and Ted raises his hand and says “it’s mine!” That alone was worth the price.

Overall, George’s is a cute little place, with emphasis on little. The setup reminded me of kind of a step back in time to when places were just bars and didn’t serve food – so you really only needed enough seats for the town alcoholics. The whole no windows thing kind of lends to that effect also, but whatever. We noticed there’s a space up front presumably for live bands, although I can’t even imagine that noise level in this little space. You can tell this place has probably been a neighborhood bar for about forever, and at some point they had to add food in order to keep the doors open. And then once the secret got out that they had decent burgers it became a pretty hot little spot in the downtown Canton area. Now we all admitted that we’re a little ruined on burgers after the Akron adventure of a few weeks ago, so we may not be able to properly rate any others for a bit … but these would definitely rate a revisit if we ever found ourselves back in downtown Canton and needed some good bar food.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Steph

Shane

Ted

George's Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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

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

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

Another great first impression:

Aunt Mildred? Are you home?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

Onion rings or calamari? Your guess.

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

Another product of the dining room freezer of wonders

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

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

Watch out for that white hot sauce from hell

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

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

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

That classy lamp messed with my photo skills

Same burger, super sized

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shane

Ted

Steph

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph