WTGW 12/2/15: Rush Hour Grille, Twinsburg

Standard

Thank you, Google Maps, for alerting us that this week’s pick sits pretty much directly across a plaza entrance from another recent WTGW Twinsburg pick, Sassy’s. Although thankfully this place is not just a different shade of neon on the inside. So at least that’s not an ongoing theme in this area.

Although I will admit that – while I don’t advocate neon – Rush Hour Grille could use a bit of some kind of an update on the interior. The inside kind of looks like someone just took an empty warehouse space or garage, stuck a bar in the center and then scattered some tables around the perimeter. Because, why not? Especially considering the neighboring spaces include a public safety firearms space, daycare center and Jehovah’s witness church. All of which scream to have a bar within walking distance, no?

Anyway.

As usual – and since, I mean, there’s a bar in the middle of the space, just begging for our attention – we started with drinks. Ted was happy to hear that the “Beer of the Month” was large Christmas Ales for $5.00 … which is either a lucky find or glutton for punishment, depending on how you look at it. Speaking of lucky finds, Amanda and I discovered that they still had Pumpkin Shandy on draft, so score for us. Or not, depending on how long those kegs have actually been sitting around, but whatever. The important part is that for once we found they still had a beer we liked and it didn’t run out after one round. That honor instead belonged to Jerrid this time, who was happily enjoying Oktoberfest until he was told that, alas, there was no more.

Welcome to our group, buddy. It’s like Russian Roulette of beer taps with us.

So after his drink of choice ran out he switched to Jack & cokes – partially because Shane was enjoying rum & diets out of a mason jar, and Jerrid decided he liked that glass. He even asked the server if the drink would, in fact, come served in that same type of glass.

Server: I can put in in whatever cup you want. Coffee cup. Martini glass. Large draft glass. Doesn’t matter to me.
Shane: I like her.

Sidenote: I think that likability was mutual, because after a little issue with food orders later in the evening, the server brought Shave over his next drink and told him it was on the house – even though it was actually my entire order that got messed up, and only part of his. But thanks for that. I mean, even though we said we were together in the check doesn’t technically mean he should get a free drink by proxy. But whatevs.

Anyway, speaking of food, we of course ordered enough to feed a small country and still have leftovers. I seriously think if you look up gluttony in the dictionary there’s a picture of us at one of our WTGW outings.

Ted ordered the mussels – which he knew I would share some of with him – and then six wings, AND the Italian sandwich. The last additon was just because the server said it was one of her favorite things there. And you know we’re about as easily swayed as a flower basket in the wind.

This sandwich was server approved and recommended

This sandwich was server approved and recommended

Not to be outdone, Shane ordered six of the dry dusted ranch boneless wings and a burger with chips. Because, again, boys order two meals at our table I guess. I got 12 of the garlic parm boneless wings, Amanda got the nacho burger and fries, and Jerrid got the catfish po’boy sandwich with onion rings. Upon hearing the discussion about onion rings, Shane and I then had to order them ourselves, because for one they sounded delicious, and also because I felt inadequate that I was the only one at the table to not technically order more than one food item.

Sandwiches and wings. Our staples of life.

Sandwiches and wings. Our staples of life.

As usual, Shane performed his “burger doneness and pinkness level interrogation” on the server before everyone ordered – to which she replied that all burgers are cooked to order. Ok, cool. So then like 30 seconds later Shane places his order, and the server asks him what temperature he wants his burger … Shane’s answer is “what do you mean?” Hmmm. Way to pay attention there, honey.

And then after all that, Amanda’s burger came out pinker than Shane’s, even though he ordered medium rare, and she ordered medium. So I guess there it was the server’s turn to pay attention.

Even more so when she ended up mixing up mine and Shane’s wing orders, so he got 12 of the ranch wings (he only ordered six) and I only got six of the garlic parm (I ordered 12). When we finally flagged down the server and pointed that out, she took away both of our wing orders and said she would bring out fresh. Interesting. Wouldn’t you just leave what was there, and just bring out six more of mine? What happened to that extra six of Shane’s? And why did you have to make new, when really there were just some missing – the actual flavors were right? I’ve never seen that happen before.

Shane's original 12

Shane’s original 12

Thank god for the onion rings, or else I’d had nothing to at least pick at while everyone else nearly finished their dinners.

And then – because apparently it just wasn’t my night all around – I ended up really regretting those first six wings disappeared, because at least I would’ve had something decent to call my meal. The replacement wings she brought out for me were all garlic, no parm. And by all garlic, I think they were dipped in garlic juice, breaded in garlic bread crumbs, fried in garlic oil and then showered with whole cloves of garlic. Not only could I smell the garlic as soon as the wings hit the table, what I thought might be parmesan on the wings turned out to actually be cloves of garlic. Overkill much? If there were any vampires within 100 miles of this place I think they all perished as soon as those wings came out of the fryer.

I even tried picking the breading off half of them just to make them edible – since I think my taste buds were completely dead by that point and I was still really hungry – but even that couldn’t mask the taste. *sigh*

It's never a good sign when you can see the garlic as much as you can smell it

It’s never a good sign when you can see the garlic as much as you can smell it

Meanwhile, Shane’s new wings were perfect. As was his free drink. And his burger. But that’s cool.

And you know, honestly, I really liked our server at first – she has charisma, sarcasm, character – you know, all the qualities I usually praise in someone who can put up with our somewhat crazy group. But right about the point that she basically threw me to the curb in favor of Shane, I kind of changed my tune.

But other than that, though, everything else about the place and our meals was good. The mussels were really tasty. And while I thought the onion rings were a bit too crispy and not doughy enough for my liking, everyone else really liked them. Even though Shane’s burger wasn’t cooked exactly to his liking, he rated it very high on his list of good burgers. Amanda could barely finish her burger because she was so stuffed – but she tried since it was so good. The fries didn’t get the same love, just because there was no room left at the inn.

Hope those fries reheat well

Hope those fries reheat well

Rush Hour Grille, Twinsburg

Once again on our scale of how much we like a place, if we end up sticking around for drinks after the actual meals are boxed up and taken away, it has to be at least somewhat OK in our book. So, Shane returns from the restrooms and notices the sign in the lobby that Salted Caramel Mocha Martinis are on special … so of course we had to finish out the evening with those. Because, well, us. Shane said the bartender looked scared when he went up and ordered them, like she had no idea how to make them. And it did take her a hot minute to get five of them done … but upon tasting them she apparently figured out that at least one ingredient in them is, well, any and all liquors available behind the bar, because they were strong as could be.

Well at least it looks pretty

Well at least it looks pretty

Shane: Wow, I guess I should’ve tipped her more.

Maybe it was the final round of martinis, or the lingering smell of garlic from my wings making everyone a bit delirious, but somehow we ended up in a spirited debate about something called the Rice & Beans Gang that Shane swore was real. Like a real, actual gang that you should be scared of. Like one that could rival the Bloods or Crips. Um? Seriously? Even Google and Siri thought we were insane when we tried to validate that one. But this is what we call entertainment when we start drinking, folks.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Although we realized after we got home that this was the first time in about the last 8,000 outings that we didn’t manage to tease Ted about his infamous pick, Gus’ Chalet. And just like that, the streak is broken. It definitely must’ve been the martinis. Or maybe the Rice & Beans Gang secretly infiltrated the bar and drugged us. Whatever.

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  For once us girls found a beer we liked and it didn’t run out after one round, so score for us. Jerrid was not so lucky. Welcome to our group, buddy. 
Food:
I think I was the only one to not really care for my food – and that’s only because I don’t moonlight as a vampire killer, so really the over-abundance of garlic was a bit unnecessary.
Service: If your name was Shane, it was awesome. For the rest of us at the table, it was just OK.
Overall: Eh. I would pick this place over the counterpart on the other side of the plaza (Sassy’s), but that’s not saying it’s really worth our trek back to Twinsburg. Unless of course we’re being chased by vampires, in which case this is exactly where I’m headed.

Next Pick: Ted

WTGW 10/21/15: Tim Owen’s Travelers Tavern, Akron

Standard

Well that’s a mouthful.

If this place looks familiar, it’s because we were actually here once before. Almost two years to the date, actually. Back when the place was known as Ripper’s Rock House. But then this little TV show called Bar Rescue came along and did a makeover, so we figured it qualified for a revisit. Especially since that specific Bar Rescue episode airs in just a few weeks, we agreed this would be the perfect time.

Ted actually called an audible on his original pick for tonight, which was some Italian place in Canton. But then we got stuck in traffic trying to get there, which gave us plenty of time to exemplify our worries that this place could be another Gus’s Chalet (a concern I had voiced to Ted in text earlier in the day, after being rather unimpressed with their website) and before we knew it we were hopping across four lanes of standstill traffic (in true “pardon-me-excuse-me-I-have-my-blinker-on-can-I-just-squeeze-my-small-vehicle-through-here” style) to get off at a random exit and Google Map our way through the non-highway and somewhat ghetto streets to Traveler’s.

But seriously, can we just for a minute about this new name? WTF. I mean, John Taffer may be a genius at firing key staff members, increasing productivity and making a place look and feel desirable again … but let’s go back to Marketing 101 here – if they can’t remember the name, they won’t come back. I mean, really. Tim Owen’s Traveler’s Tavern. It’s a tongue twister. May as well call the place “Simon Sells Seashells By the Seashore.” It sounds about the same rolling off the tongue.

I mean, I’ve been talking about this place for all of about four paragraphs now, and I already managed to shorten the name to just “Traveler’s.” I get why Tim’s name is there (former front man of Judas Priest, Akron boy, part owner of the place, etc) – but it’s just not catchy. How about “Traveler’s Tavern … by Tim Owens”? Or “Tim’s Travels?” Or “Owen’s World Tour”? I mean, really.

Hey Taffer, want to join forces? I’m only half joking.

Anyway.

All that being said, we were a bit disappointed to discover that the place really hasn’t changed much since the last time we were there. It’s a tad bit brighter (maybe?) and the DJ booth was moved closer to the bar (we think?), but there’s still a stage, they still do karaoke on Wednesdays (which means Shane still had to represent and once again sing his signature Adam Sandler song), and they still specialize in wings with exotic flavors from around the world.

It's a tad bit overwhelming

The wing list. It’s still a tad bit overwhelming

So really, we just changed the name. Because that was the worst of our worries? Hmmm.

One thing we did notice was that they got rid of the chalkboard walls that held the names of the draft beers. The only beer list is “right up here, ” said our server, while pointing to her head. Mental note, that’s not really helpful when you aren’t a mind reader. Just sayin’.

In any case, we conjured up our secret mind powers, and ended up with Harvest Patch Shandy for me and Amanda (well, until they ran out in the 4th round, and we had to switch to the hard root beer. #notsurprised). Ted went with a Pumking, and then later a Guiness. Shane, meanwhile, was still on his “girly drink” kick … although I have to give him credit that at least he managed to pick the most manly sounding one on the list. Something containing habanero-infused pineapple juice, some type of vodka or gin, a cayenne pepper garnish on the rim, and an actual habanero pepper in the glass. So, yeah.

Although it was still served in a martini glass, so you know he caught some flack for that.

Fancy

Fancy

The drink definitely had some kick to it.  I mean, I took one sip and – while it was tasty – ten minutes later my tongue still burned. Although I’m not as crazy as Ted, who took Shane’s dare to eat one of the actual habanero peppers submersed in the drink. His first reaction was “not bad.”

"It's not hot ... yet."

“It’s not hot … yet.”

Then about ten minutes later we realized his eyes were watering and half his beer was gone.

Ted: I think that pepper is making my mouth hotter, and it’s not even there anymore.

So needless to say, after one round Shane traded in his martini glass his old favorite, Long Islands. Which he made the mistake of telling the server he wanted “something with more shots” when he ordered, so what he got was pretty much all alcohol.

Sidebar: three rounds later he certainly didn’t seem to complain about that as much. So I guess they served their purpose.

Shane, three Long Islands later

Shane, three Long Islands after “fancy.”

So the guys each went with their own 30-wing-and-fries platter … although Ted tried to rationalize the amount of food and say that us girls could really just eat part of their orders and we could split two 30-wing platters for the table. But that seemed like a lot of math, so we just did our own thing. Thanks anyway, smarty pants.

Each platter could do up to five sauces, so Shane went with the Wild Wasabi, Golden Garlic Bridge, Kentucky Bourbon, Mango Habanero and Little Italy (which is basically a garlic parm).

Ted had the Mango Habanero, Bloody Mary, Kentucky Bourbon, Garlic Express and El Diablo.

Amanda and I each got plates of 12; she had six of the Bloody Mary and six Little Italy, and I had six of the Kentucky Bourbon and six Wild Wasabi.

So … basically we all got various amounts of the same flavors, and the guys did take some of their huge portions home … which means that, yes, technically Ted was correct in thinking we could’ve just split the larger orders. But at the time he presented the idea, it just seemed too much like one of those  “if a train leaves the station going 75 mph and another train leaves a totally different station 1800 miles away when the sun it at a 65 degree angle, how long is the shadow on person sitting in the second car of another train we haven’t even told you about yet” math word problems, and let’s face it, no one enjoys those. We enjoy beer. And the two definitely don’t go together.

Plus we like to freak people out with the insane and quite frankly gluttonous portions of food we continuously manage to cram at one table for our small group. You’re welcome.

One plate of 30 ...

One plate of 30 …

Two plates of 30 ...

Two plates of 30 …

That makes 104 wings on our table. 104.

That makes 104 wings on our table. 104.

Did I mention 104?

DID I MENTION 104?!?!?

Enough said.

The wings were various degrees of OK. The Little Italy were voted least liked out of all of them, as both Amanda and Shane said they had no flavor. Never in my life have I seen my husband put down a partially eaten wing and not go back to it … until he tried those. Yeah. That should tell you something. He took that batch home to “doctor up” when he reheats the left overs. Amanda got through hers only with the help of a side of blue cheese.

Shane raved about the Wasabi right off, but the first one I tried I wasn’t too thrilled with – I later realized that was because it barely had any of the sauce on it. Once I actually got one that the sauce touched, they were pretty tasty.

The Kentucky bourbon was also a favorite. The pieces of bacon on the top totally made the whole thing worth it.

Amanda said the Bloody Mary was spicy, but Ted tried his and didn’t think so. Of course he had just eaten a habanero pepper that had been immersed in habanero-infused alcohol, so he may not have had any taste buds left in his mouth at that point. Take that as you will.

The presentation is nice

At least the presentation is nice

All in all, Traveler’s was a fun atmosphere – and definitely and not as scary as our last visit, when some random girl tried to get Amanda to split fries with her and the started talking about her bra. I wish I was kidding. The place this time around was an interesting mix of people, everything from the hard core heavy metals group to post-work-office crowd, to the obvious barflys, to the family who looked more dressed for church than a dive-ish bar that serves wings.

And we’re happy to report that the karaoke proved to be as interesting as last time, with a whole new range of singers to scratch our heads over. I mean, really, where else will you see an 80-year-old doing Sinatra, followed by a lady completely overdoing Alanis Morissette in a nasily voice, followed by a leather jacket clad guy singing Billy Idol (see also: cliche), and topped off by a guy who looked like John Malkovich but whose voice sounded like Kermit the Frog and who kept singing Weird Al songs. All in a bar owned by a former lead singer of a heavy metal band.

Exactly.

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane, take one

Shane, take one

Shane, take two

Shane, take two

I have a feeling I use this look a lot

I have a feeling I use this look a lot when “three martini Shane” makes an appearance. 

If you ever wondered what it's like to sit across from us on WTGW, this is probably a pretty good representation

If you ever wondered what it’s like to sit across from us on WTGW, this is probably a pretty good representation

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:   If you’re telepathic, they have a huge beer selection. If you’re not, well, just throw a few names out there and see if something sticks. Beware of the strong pour on mixed drinks, though. Apparently John Taffer didn’t teach them well enough.
Food:
If you like wings, you’re in the right place, as there’s bound to be something on the menu that pleases you. While we didn’t try anything else, the burgers and sandwiches we saw coming out to other tables looked to be on the delicious side.
Service: Gotta give props to a server who can roll with the drunk guy at the table who just finished singing an explicit Adam Sandler song to the bar. I mean, really.
Overall: Well, drunk Shane proclaimed we have to go back EVERY WEDNESDAY so he can sing. So there’s that. But even so, while the wings weren’t the best we’ve ever had (and I think that was the consensus the last time we were there as well), the change in atmosphere and clientele may just be enough to keep this place in the running for a return (or would it be return-return?) visit.

Next Pick: Shane

Rippers Rock House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato