WTGW 8/27/19: The Basement, Cuyahoga Falls

Standard

Oh hey, Basement, it’s been a hot minute. Or, well, three years and four and a half years, I guess – but who’s counting.

Allowing Shane to pick the new Cuyahoga Falls location of The Basement is really kind of a technicality, because not only have we a) been to the restaurant twice already, but b) he was the one to pick it the last time we visited.

I have to think that Ted might want to jump in to give Shane a little bit of hell for this, no?

But seeing as that last visit pretty much, in Shane’s (perhaps somewhat dramatic) words, tried to kill him, I guess if he wants to be the one to take his chances and return to the scene of the near poisoning, well, who are we to stop him? Especially when we already know we like the food there and have kind of just been avoiding it as a favor to him?

Clearly we’re good friends. I know.

Anyway.

So here we are again, as mentioned at the new location that has recently opened in Cuyahoga Falls. Either the opening hasn’t really been publicized all that much yet, or several others in the area have been victimized by wings and pizza in the same way Shane was after our last visit, because it wasn’t very busy inside when we arrived.

WHAT WE ORDERED

The menu is still just a few words short of War and Peace, so be sure to plan a few extra minutes in the battle of your hunger vs. your entire party’s ability to choose an entrée in a timely manner when visiting this place. Likewise, maybe don’t visit with people you haven’t seen for a while and need time to catch up with before even opening the menu. Or anyone prone to indecisiveness.

At some point you just have to pretty much commit to one particular page and then point to something before you have a chance to change your mind again.

Our group eventually unanimously agreed with taking few moments of silence just so we could all peruse uninterrupted and make a decision in a timely manner before someone bit off a finger out of hunger.

Of course even though we already made our choices, we still had to do the weekly server inquisition to see if what we chose lined up with what she recommended. She voted for the wings, hands down, and also the philly sandwiches. Which is apparently what The Basement is known for? How did I miss that somewhere in the last two visits?

Oh, wait, I think I know how … funnel cake fries. Those bastards always stole the show, even when we didn’t actually order them because we were too full by the end of the meal to do so.

Which is why Ted learned from his mistakes and ordered them right away as an appetizer.

You’ll be happy to know that they still do not disappoint.

Unlike the pizza rolls, which claim to be a “party in your mouth.” I mean, they were good and all, but that seems to be a bit of false advertising.

Samsies on the cheesy tots that Jason and Cassi got as an appetizer, which were more like non-cheese tots. Or Ted-stye Tots, as I guess they could more aptly be called.

Following his dessert-for-appetizer pick, Ted chose the chicken parm sandwich and six Louisiana licker wings for his meal.

I followed the server’s recommendation and got 12 chili lime wings and a side salad.

Of course I also ordered a black cherry white claw (which I thought they had thanks to a super helpful TV screen showing all of the drink options) … but then was treated to the dreaded return of the server telling me that they were all out. So mango it was then. At least they had another flavor choice, so score.

Shane got six pepper parm wings – which seems like a new sauce combination, no? Considering anything with pepper or parm are the two most likely for Shane to order, it’s almost like they discovered a way to give him a little peace offering for his near death experience a few years back.

He also got a basket of two sliders, I guess just in case the wings started to go south quickly?

Cassi got 12 boneless mild wings.

Jason got nine of the Kaluger wings – which apparently is the somewhat non-appetite-inducing name of their special housemade sauce. I mean, I’m sure it’s named after someone and so I shouldn’t make fun of it, but then again when has that ever stopped us? The server described it for us but clearly it wasn’t very memorable, since I can’t seem to remember now what she said it tasted like.

AND THE VERDICT IS 

After we put our orders in we were warned that the kitchen was “totally slammed” so it could be up to 45 minutes to get our food. Hmm. OK. I mean, on one hand we appreciate the warning – but then again after taking a look around and noticing about 10 other full tables in the place with us that was slightly concerning that they could be that backed up. Are they taking a cue from Wadsworth Tavern and cooking everything in two Easy Bake Ovens in the back? Seems logical.

They did get all of the apps out pretty quickly though, so that was a plus.

But when the actual meals finally started to funnel out we quickly realized that Ted’s sandwich was not among them, and quite frankly nowhere to be found. So we waited … and waited … and eventually was able to flag down the server to go check in the back to see what was up. Turns out there was a miscommunication – which was never really clarified, but we’re assuming is code for “the order was never put in.”

However, a manager did eventually appear to say they would comp his meal for him, so that was a nice gesture.

And that comp was definitely appreciated, especially when the bills came and it was discovered that Ted spent almost $20 on two beers.

Wait, what now?

Yeah, Ted’s Guinness and the first round of craft IPSs that Ted and Jason got were $8.75 each.

Yikes. Clearly they need to revise that TV screen technology to also include pricing.

And remember that White Claw I ordered? Yeah, it was $4.00. Meanwhile Shane’s tall mixed drink was only $4.25. Clearly I chose poorly. Or someone is just using a pick-the-price-out-of-thin-air scale behind the bar.

Overall, it seems like they’ve got a few kinks to work out since opening – and let’s hope they do so before any major sporting events like Browns football Sundays or perhaps Indians postseason start really filling the place up. The food was still just as good as we remember it from the other locations, but service and pricing could stand to be upgraded in order to warrant another visit in our future.

This is what we get when we ask for places we like to open up in our neighborhood, I guess. *sigh*

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi … after a brief hiatus for vacation

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

Standard

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 3/20/19: Thirsty Dog Taphouse, Akron

Standard

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 5/30/18: REVISIT – Caston & Main, Portage Lakes

Standard

Thank you to whichever one of us decided we could exercise our option on revisits during our week to pick, as I didn’t have time to research a new place this week. In my defense, we’re coming off of a holiday weekend which included a Jimmy Buffett concert, and I tacked on an additional vacation day after that … so when your week starts on a Wednesday that feels like a Monday then you kind of forget what day of the week it really is. Oops.

You’ve all been there at some point, so let’s stop the judgement.

My laziness was apparently forgiven, as we ended up heading back to a place that we haven’t been in nearly two years, Caston & Main down in Portage Lakes. The two things we remembered most from that previous visit were the incredibly delicious raspberry mules that Shane ordered and that Ted and I eventually gave in and switched to after sampling Shane’s … and the “entertainment” we endured from a guy with a guitar and a sound system with levels meant to drown out anything from dinner conversations to televisions to the possibility of a helicopter landing in the middle of the dining room.

Imagine our surprise to learn that neither of those things exist any longer at Caston & Main. I’ll let you use your imagination to discern our feelings on this discovery.

It actually seems they’ve made several changes in our two year absence. Not really to the place itself – although we speculated that they were putting in a patio (and as of this posting that has been confirmed, so yay us for our intuition) – but inside it’s still the same set up of bar-to-the-left-of-you, dining-room-to-the-right-of-you as you walk in the door, and large tables perfect for groups like us that enjoy ordering an entire menu of food.

Our first discovery as we sat down was the realization that we could actually hear ourselves think, so apparently Wednesdays are no longer entertainment nights. God bless them for that decision. I have to believe we weren’t the only ones to file some sort of opinion on our attempts to hold a conversation amidst the decibel levels of a monster truck night rally.

Coming in a close second on the discovery list was when we found the novel-sized drink menu had been parred down to a more manageable short-story-ish selection. Which usually we wouldn’t applaud, but when taking the time to peruse it impedes on our ability to get alcohol served in a timely manner we tend to get a little bit bitter.

Maybe not as bitter as when we realized the beloved and much applauded raspberry mule didn’t make the cut, but whatever. They seem to now focus on more local craft beers, and just a few specialty cocktails. Cassi and I decided to try out the margarita mule that was on special, which ended up just being OK. By the end of the evening we both switched to a bottled pear cider that was far more delicious, not to mention less expensive.

Speaking of, Shane learned the hard way the age old lesson of “if there are no prices listed, it’s probably because you don’t want to know,” as the bill at the end of the evening revealed that the craft beers he had been enjoying turned out to be $9 each. That’s an unpleasant surprise. Especially when both of our meals were less than his $27 worth of cocktails.

Ouch.

While the drink menu has gotten smaller, the food menu seems to have expanded since our last visit. This made us happy, because, well, we like food – and more of it is never a bad thing with this group. In fact, we actually tried to convince our server that she should work on commission when it comes to serving our group, since we’re not only going to already order a stupid amount of food but we’re also pretty easy to sell when it comes to adding on more.

On thing that hasn’t changed in our absence is that Wednesdays are still 3 for $6 slider nights. Ted and Shane had tried them on our last visit and found them tasty, so they decided on getting them again this time around.

Shane also got the steak tacos, which inspired this exchange:

Shane: How many tacos come in the order?
Server: Three
Shane: Ok, good. I’ll take that. Three.
Me: Um, do you want one order of three, or three full orders?

I think the server thought I was crazy for clarifying this, but as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, that one really could’ve gone either way.

Thankfully, it was only the one order of three tacos. And one order of the slider special.

The use of multiplication tables was involved in this order

Tiny sandwiches

I got the roast beef philly, with the chips and French onion dip as a side.

Points for presentation

And we got nachos for an app.

There seems to be way more nachos than toppings here, no?

So that covers one side of the table. I think by this point the server might’ve realized we were on to something with that whole commission thing.

Ted waited for me to tell him which sliders he had ordered last time, then went with the chicken salad, Rueben and BLT sliders. Times two, because you know one meal isn’t enough in this group. He also got chips and dip for an app.

You’re not seeing double

Anyone else think that’s a lot of dip for that amount of chips?

Cassi and Jason got pretzel bites as app.

Carb overload

After getting the server’s opinion on which was better, the crab BLT or the chorizo tacos, Cassi took her suggestion and ordered the crab BLT.

Hopefully its a good idea to trust the server

Jason ordered the invisible patty melt. Well, OK, that’s not really what it’s called, but that’s the name we gave to it when all of our food orders came out of the kitchen and his never appeared.

At least the server came over and admitted it was her fault, she “never does this” but somehow she had forgotten to put it in as part of the order, but that she let the kitchen know what had happened and it would only take a minute to come out.

Jason thought it was karma for making fun of the pimento cheese app as we were first reading the menu … and then ordering a burger featuring the same cheese on it. Touche. Meanwhile we all proceeded to make yummy noises while he was forced to just sit and watch us eat. Because we’re twelve.

Shane’s steak tacos were admittedly the best looking item on the table. I had been eyeing them up on the menu and almost ordered them, but made a last minute switch to the roast beef. I definitely was #foodjealous. Not to say that I didn’t like my sandwich –  it actually was really good, the peppers and cheese were a nice addition – but I wish it had been a tad hotter by the time it arrived at the table. Although considering Jason’s situation I guess I should just be glad it arrived at all. So there’s that.

Speaking of, it seems the long awaited patty melt didn’t turn out to particularly worth the extra anticipation, but Jason ate it anyway. I mean, by that point he was just extra hungry and probably would’ve eaten a grilled shoe if it was set in front of him.

We waited all that time for this?

He did end up getting a discount on the meal because of its tardiness to the table – not a full “I’m sorry this was my fault so it’s on the house” discount, but at least it was something.

I think Shane was hoping for a “we never printed the prices and therefore there was no way to tell that each of your drinks would be the same cost as a full meal” discount on our bill, but that never materialized either.

Overall, outside of sandwiches that don’t arrive on time and therefore might have been assembled with a little less love, the food is decent. Ted still gave a thumbs up to the sliders (rating them in order: BLT, chicken salad and Reuben), Cassi and I enjoyed our sandwiches, and Shane’s steak tacos were worthy of every bit of the food envy we all had. The apps were good – although they seemed to have a Goldilocks and the Three Bears thing going on with the accompanying dips (the pretzels had too many bites and not enough dip, the chips had too few chips and an overload of dip, the nachos had an abundance of tortilla chips with too few toppings). Our server was on our good side until she forgot about Jason. I mean, points for owning up to the mistake, albeit begrudgingly (does “I’m not sure how this happened, but I guess it was my fault” really count as an apology?) – but after that point she also seemed to avoid our table a bit more, as if the very sight of us brought up memories of a failed relationship. If only she’d avoided us long enough for Shane to save another $9 on that last drink …

Picked by: Steph
Originally picked by: Ted

Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted, who could care less what anyone else thought of the place, he liked it

Shane, before the bill arrived

Shane, after seeing that empty glass cost him $9

 

WTGW 5/2/18: REVISIT – The Twisted Olive, Green

Standard

When Northeast Ohio graces you with a summerlike evening in early May – bonus points for it being on a Wednesday – you go in search of the best patio you can think of first and ask questions later.

Well, I mean, OK, yes – we did ask one question, which was, of course, “which one should we go to.” As cool as it would be, we all didn’t just look at each other and telepathically infer one particular patio we should visit. Although I think that approach might’ve been easier than us attempting to remember the best area patios in the ten minutes before we walked out the door. Crazy how we can visit so many restaurants, but ask us for a recommendation for a specific type of place – because, I mean, you would think a group of people who go out every week to different places would be good folks to know these types of things – but instead suddenly our memories empty and we become deer in headlights.

Try it the next time you see us.

In any case, Ted finally stepped up to the plate and decided on a revisit to The Twisted Olive – which we all agree does have one of the best patios in the area, albeit a little fancier fare than our usual WTGW options. And it’s been a hot minute – or I guess really about two years worth of hot minutes – since our last visit so it was definitely worth another try.

We requested patio seating when we arrived (duh), and ended up on the downstairs patio this time round, as the hostesses mentioned that the upstairs one “wasn’t full,” but that the server was “a bit overwhelmed.” Um, OK. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but if it means we’ll get better service on a different patio then I’m all for it.

By the end of the night I think we all agreed that hadn’t exactly been the case, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Also, side note – does a place really need three hostesses for a Wednesday night? I mean, I get a weekend. And sure, it was probably a bit busier than usual with the summery weather. But three? Seems maybe the extra person might’ve been better served assisting the overwhelmed server on the upstairs patio, but what do we know.

Anyway.

Turns out that the downstairs patio doesn’t have quite the view of its upstairs sibling. I mean, for one, it’s not elevated at all – so instead of being able to overlook the water and nature area that are behind the restaurant, you kind of just get a lateral view of it. And, spoiler alert, it’s not all that enticing. It’s kind of like having dinner at that friend’s house who has a really nice backyard.

And then also because, well, its literally beneath the upper patio. So instead of truly dining outside, it was more like we just kind of ended up hanging out in an Italian garage. Awesome.

Although mental note to keep this option in mind for those evenings when the temperature is decent and you’d really love to sit outside, but are deterred thanks to the threat of a random passing rain shower.

So there’s that.

We remembered The Twisted Olive being on the fancier end of things from the last time we visited – which we all know equates to lesser amounts of food arriving on your plate in a fancifully arranged way. So as we were looking over the menu I pulled up the post from our 2016 visit to take a look at what we’d ordered last time around.

Shane, moments before I read to him what he ordered at that visit: Oh, scallops, those look delicious.
Me, reading from the 2016 post: “… and then was instantly disappointed as soon as his plate was set in front of him. His comment after the server left was that he was waiting for someone else to walk up and bring him his main course instead of the appetizer portion.”
Shane: So maybe pizza then.

This blog clearly exists if for nothing else than to remind us of our previous dining mistakes.

While we waited on the jury to reconvene in the matter of our main meals, we of course opted for appetizers. Because, well, us. I mean, really. Like any explanation is needed.

Ted got the hummus. He said it was just OK. Probably because it came with salsa mixed in – which some might consider a bonus, but Ted clearly did not. I didn’t try it, but I agreed that it did seem to be a strange pairing. Also, a little warning next time maybe? But the veggies and chips were tasty.

Why is the hummus hiding behind salsa?

Cassi went with the calamari, which Shane had of course ordered on our last visit (surprise!) and seemed to be OK with. However, after careful consideration this time around we all agreed that the dish now seemed to have a special ingredient not mentioned on the menu … pine needles. Sounds weird, I know, but go ahead and order it, take one bite, and tell us we’re wrong about this. I dare you.

Maybe someone just rubbed an air freshener over it

Maybe we shouldn’t have said last time that it “there was really nothing special or different about the dish to distinguish it from any other place we’ve had it before.” I feel like the chef took that as a personal challenge to come up with something we definitely would remember. Too far, chef guy. Too far.

Shane and I won the app lottery with the loaded chips, though. No hidden pine needles or salsa in this dish. Just the right amount of delicious toppings.

There are chips under there, we swear

We also remembered from our last visit that the basket of complimentary rolls set on the table with the appetizers were one of our favorite things about The Twisted Olive. Too bad this time they rolled them in chicken wing grease and coasted them in finely diced onions before serving them.

I kid. They were exactly the same as the last visit. Thank god they didn’t go the “calamari challenge” route on those, or else I think Ted, Shane and I would’ve legit cried when we tried them. I think we all had like four each.

We may or may not have had two more baskets of these. Don’t judge.

For his meal, Ted got the Apple and Fig side salad to go with his crab cake sliders. He had the salad come out ahead of the sandwich. Or at least we think that’s what happened. We saw the server set it down, but then before I could pick up my camera to get a photo of it, it seemed to mysteriously disappear.

Perhaps they should’ve called it the “so good you’ll devour it in two minutes flat” salad

Clearly he hated it.

About two seconds after this photo he also used a piece of bread to clean all of the dressing remnants off the plate, which left it looking like it went through the dishwasher. I think the server was slightly surprised when he came around to collect plates and found a shiny clean one sitting in front of Ted.

Ted commented that he could order the full sized salad and have it be a filling meal. He also said he wasn’t exactly sure what all was in the dish, but it was good. So good, in fact, that he didn’t even take a sip of beer until the salad was gone. Which we all know is not how things operate in our group.

Shane: Something wrong with your beer there, buddy?

And then by the time his crab cake sliders arrived – which Ted had passed up on our last visit because they sounded like they would be too small and not filling enough – he said he was almost too full from his hummus salsa and salad to eat them. Seriously, what is happening here? What parallel universe are we living in where Ted leaves most of the fries on his plate and barely manages to eat two mini-sandwiches?

That wouldn’t be enough food without the other two courses already consumed

It’s like we hardly know this new person.

Cassi meanwhile also got the crab cake sliders, but because her app tasted like a Christmas tree and she skipped the invisible salad course, she was able to enjoy her entire meal. She got the mac and cheese as a side, and declared it delicious after just one bite. That’s high praise.

Shane said the sliders looked like baby sandwiches. I think that’s the idea, but good call.

Over on mine and Shane’s side of the table we had a little pizza party going, as we both went with that for our meals. Truth be told the two of us most definitely could’ve just shared one pie, but we all know by now how Shane feels about the notion of sharing food, so I didn’t even broach that topic.

Instead we each got one of the two pizzas on the menu with the word “Spicy!” next to them: the Twisted for me (pepperoni and banana peppers), and the Sicilian for Shane (sausage).

And when they arrived I suddenly had flashbacks of the great sheet pizza debacle of Belleria a few years back.

It actually looks bigger in person

They picked those banana peppers off the spicy tree for sure

Needless to say we each ended up taking several slices home. Well, I took several home. Shane took a few.

Something else Shane would’ve taken a few of were beverages, while we were still sitting at the table eating of course. But our server – you know, the one who was NOT supposed to be “a bit overwhelmed” – kind of seemed to forget about the world underneath the main patio, and was pretty much non-existent outside of dropping off plates at our table. Or miraculously whenever Ted’s drink was empty – which, as we’ve already established after the salad incident, wasn’t all that often.

I will say, though, that we were highly entertained by one of the other two tables seated in the underworld with us … three teacher-slash-moms who openly discussed their dating lives at a volume that might have been less obtrusive had there not been more than a few empty cocktail glasses on their table. The 35+ minute conversation about the merit of baths and showers was especially stimulating. We were all a bit sad to see them leave, although giggling quietly to ourselves was becoming increasingly difficult.

Cassi

Steph

Shane, whose rating is indicative of his lack of beer throughout the evening

Ted, who probably should’ve given a higher rating since his beer was full more often than anyone’s

 

WTGW 3/14/18: Stowaway Pub, Stow

Standard

There’s just something about that bar/restaurant wedged into a strip plaza between a flower shop and a “checks cashed here” storefront, tucked back from the main road behind a couple of chain fast food joints, that screams “welcome on in, random stranger, I’m sure you’re going to love it here.”

No? Really? Oh, well … OK then. Carry on.

As Shane announced the name of this week’s destination, Ted and I both nodded our heads, since I think this has been on everyone’s list of “maybe” places since about the beginning of Fun Wednesdays. We’ve driven past it approximately 1,000 times, and I think we’ve all uttered the sentence “well I was going to pick the Stowaway Pub, but then I saw this place instead …” at some point in time or another. And somehow we just never made it inside.

Well now is finally your time, Stowaway Pub.

The first thing we noticed on entry was that the place is super small on the inside. Which, I mean, it’s in a strip plaza so it’s not like we expected the place to open into a room the size of a Costco or anything, but still. There were a few high tops near the door, and about 4-5 booths along the wall, and then seats at the bar.

So, good thing we aren’t claustrophobic.

We at first veered toward a high top at the front of the bar, but then collectively realized that it probably wouldn’t hold all of our food. Because, well, us. I mean, come on. At least we heed our lessons and learn from them.

Another lesson we’ve learned … it makes total sense to order ALL. THE. APPS. as soon as we sit down, and before ordering a full meal.

I know, we just ooze brilliance in this group.

Shane had heard/read somewhere that the onion rings were the bomb, so he definitely wanted those. Cassi followed suit and also got an order for herself. And then add to that an order of J-Bombs (which is really just a fancy way to say “jalepeno popper,” it seems) for me and Shane. Who needs healthy cholesterol levels and good, strong arteries?

The onion rings were definitely a good choice. They were lightly breaded, which I believe is onion ring code for not retaining pockets of grease and cake-like pieces of batter as onion rings can often be known to do. Our biggest gripe seemed to be that they only give you like 5-6 rings in the basket. For like $5. Um. OK. I mean, I realize I’m no math wizard or anything, but when you’re looking at about $1 an onion ring I kind of start to scrutinize a tad more.

Too bad these don’t spontaneously multiply on their own

Cassi – well, I finished my first basket, now what am i going to do?

Sadly the J-Bombs were a dull consolation prize. But we did offer.

It looks like the one on the bottom is trying to hatch

Ted ordered calamari – because after Shane’s perpetual year of research in how different places prepare the dish (and by that I really mean ordering it everywhere just because it was on the menu), Ted pointed out that we actually haven’t had it for a while.

And guess what? We’ll have to wait a little longer, because the server returned to the table a few minutes after we put in the order to let us know that they were all out. Bummer.

Ted was so upset that he ended up passing on the appetizer course of the evening altogether. Well, and also because he already decided that he was getting an order of wings with his meal.

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll recognize this move as what we’d like to call moderation.

The economical nonsense of the onion rings carried over into our burger selection, as Cassi speculated aloud whether to get the 1/4 lb burger or the 1/2 lb. I reasoned that for $1.50 more you’re better to off to just get the larger one. I mean, really. Double the size for $1.50 more? That seems to be a no-brainer.

Ted: Impressive sales pitch.

I mean, I am in marketing after all.

But it worked, as I got the half pound mushroom Swiss burger, while Cassi got the half pound Stowaway burger.

There’s a burger under there somewhere. Honest.

It looks like it’s wearing a hat

They aren’t playing around

The burgers ended up being really good. They use fresh, large patties, that seemed to be well seasoned and not over-loaded on toppings. Well, unless you consider grease a topping, in which case they kind of out did themselves on that front. We’re not talking Shane’s wings creating an oil slick on the table kind of greasy, but let’s just say it was enough that Cassi had the unfortunate luck of another week dealing with a mushy bottom.

We really should trademark these things.

While us girls were over here enjoying our giant burgers, the guys decided to get all dainty on us and order mini-burgers. Or, as places now like to call them, sliders. Which I’ve always thought just makes them sound somewhat gross, but whatever, clearly it’s only me that feels this way because it now seems to be industry standard to speak about a meal as if it’s taking a joyride right down your throat.

See? You’re thinking about it now, and I’m not all that crazy.

Anyway, sliders are on special at Stowaway Pub on Wednesday nights, $1.00 each with seemingly no limit. Of course Shane interrogated the server with his usual 20 questions about the size and shape and texture and color and toppings and how many should he order … because, well, Shane. He was pretty well decided on ordering five, until the server (a small blonde girl) claimed she could eat that many, so Shane upped it to 7. And then proceeded to pick about 17 different cheeses for them.

It’s like a small army of hamburgers

Ted also got four of the sliders, and made up for Shane’s complicated cheese order by ordering his with no cheese at all.

Sparing so expense on the condiments obviously

The sliders turned out to be pretty good. I mean, you don’t expect much for $1.00, but compared to the burgers that Cassi and I had ordered, these were pretty much kind of like cute little replicas. They were made fresh just like the larger burgers, and cooked just right. Shane’s one complaint was that he said there seemed to be too much bread, given the smaller patties. But I guess if you really care that much you could just take all the patties off of the bread, mush them together into one big burger and eat them that way. It wouldn’t be pretty – and in Shane’s case you’d be mixing cheese like a boss – but it solves that whole bread conundrum.

Ted also got the Spicy Garlic Cajun wings – which inspired a convo about that combination and whether it’s the perfect combination of seasonings, or really just too much going on in one wing order.

Please, share your thoughts with us.

I’ll start …  according to Ted, it may have been the perfect combination, if only they had actually used all three parts of it. Needless to say, he was somewhat disappointed. The wings were big, but they had no spice to them. (that’s what she said … I know, these things just write themselves sometimes, don’t they?) The Garlic and Cajun flavors were there, but the “spicy” part of the combination seemed to somehow skip town before the plate hit the table. He thought it would’ve been better if they would’ve added hot sauce or something at the end to make them spicier. Or maybe just take that part out of the title and call them Garlic Cajun wings. Whatevs.

I’ll take the personality crisis wings, please

When we finished the onion rings earlier, Shane had claimed we should’ve gotten another basket, since they were so good. As much as I balked about the $1/ring scam they were running, my response was that really we could get another basket, since he only ordered sliders and that meant that his meal was only a grand total of $7.00.

Shane – anyone remember my last great meal for $7?

Hint – it’s the infamous steak dinner at The Dougout. How could you possibly forget? He only brings it up every time someone talks about a bargain meal.

And in return, the rest of the group takes any opportunity possible to bring up Shane’s pick where the menu consisted of two simple items: wings and burgers. I think we’re on about a two-month streak now of mentioning that every time we all get together. That quite possibly beats the old Gus’s Chalet beating we gave Ted for many consecutive months.

Although this time I had to laugh, as I looked around our table, and realized that, given an entire menu of options, what did we gravitate to? Burgers and wings. Huh.

Keeping on the economical theme of the evening, Shane switched from his first round of Jameson and ginger ale to the Long Islands that were on special on Wednesdays for $3.50. Which was a bad move. They turned out to definitely only be worth $3.50, and Shane definitely only had one of them.

You win some, you lose some, I guess.

We noticed at some point in the evening that the high top tables we had almost seated ourselves at earlier in the night had been taken over by people playing in a dart league. Which spurred a conversation about our affinity for finding places where dart leagues meet on Wednesday evenings, and how we may or may not eventually get hit by a sharp object as we attempt to walk in the door. Who’s up for a revisit to Franks Place?

Picked by: Shane

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Pirate Shane

Happy Shane

Stop Taking Pictures of Me Shane

Stowaway Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 2/7/13: Table 6, North Canton

Standard

So it turns out that tonight’s pick, Table 6, is a sister restaurant to 3 Brothers. As in the same 3 Brothers that we contemplated returning to as a revisit one week after we first visited, since the fried pickles and desserts were things of our dreams. When Ted mentioned in a group text that he was considering Table 6 as his pick for tonight, both Cassi and I immediately went to their website to check out the menu … and as soon as the words “Brothers fried pickles” floated past my eyes on the appetizer menu I fired back a text warning everyone to eat a light lunch.

Meanwhile Cassi – who officially joined our weekly group the week after said visit – exclaimed that it made her week to finally get to try something we’re all been talking about forever. Group goals.

So then imagine our disappointment when we get to the restaurant and find out that they aren’t the same dish.

OK, I’m kidding, that didn’t happen. But imagine how awful that would’ve been.

Spoiler alert – we got three orders of said pickles. For four people.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Table 6 is very nice on the inside. It’s like the sophisticated older sister to 3 Brothers’ Sporty Spice tomboy. There’s a giant bar in the center of the building, with seating and tables all around. We chose a 4-top near what I believe were the patio doors – which obviously stayed closed on this February evening.

Our server was great. As soon as he heard it was our first time here he went through pretty much the whole menu with us. Literally. The. Entire. Menu. He was so thorough that even Shane couldn’t come up with any questions. And we all know that like never happens.

He also explained that the concept of the place is more small plates that are meant to be split amongst the table than giant entrees for one. So of course it makes sense that we then started off by ordering six appetizers … including three of the same thing.

We apparently missed the lesson on sharing in kindergarten.

As mentioned, we each got an order of the pickles. Well, Cassi and Ted each got their own, while I made Shane share with me. Much to his disappointment. Because we all know Shane hates sharing food.

You definitely don’t get the generous portion of pickles here that you get at 3 Brothers. Which seems somewhat contrary to the whole “sharing plates” thing, no? OK. But they’re still the same thin cut, lightly breaded and very tasty treats we remembered from our other visit.

We’ve been dreaming about you, pickles

Ted also got an app of the buffalo cauliflower bites, pretty much out of sheer curiousity. His first few bites definitely didn’t win him over, but he kept going back for more, and later said that the more he ate them the better the seasoning was.

When healthy meets sports bar

Cassi got the pretzels. I bet you’re shocked to hear that. But it was a good decision, as they were very good. Crispy on the outside, but extremely doughy on the inside.

Conveniently cut for sharing

Shane and I also added on a late order of fried cheese curds, I think after the pickles came out and Shane realized he was going to have to share a miserably small amount of food with me. Shane had never had fried cheese curds before – which seems odd given his love of both cheese and all things fried – but then again now that I think about it the only time I’ve ever had them was on a work trip to Minnesota, where they seem to be bountiful.

I want to kiss whoever invented these

And now we may have to move there … because Shane’s words after trying them were something to the effect that “these are effing delicious.” I can’t disagree.

Although I will disagree on his love of the sauce that came with them. He thought it was just as delicious as the fried cheese, while Cassi and I said it deterred from the taste of cheese.

Ted didn’t have an opinion. Shocker.

We were warned that our meals may not come out at the same time, since they don’t have heat lamps in the kitchen and they just bring each of the dishes out as they’re finished. Fair enough. I mean, why make us all starve and then eat things that taste like heated rubber just because someone ordered a complicated dish like fried chicken that takes extra time to prepare?

Ted got the pastrami sandwich. A sound choice that I think all of us mulled over after reading the description on the menu.

Now that’s a sandwich

And we about had to roll him out of the restaurant at the end of the night. I mean, that’s a lot of meat.

Meat-wich

That’s what she said.

Cassi got the shrimp and grits, which was one of the specials on the menu during our visit. She got a “good choice” from the server when she ordered it … but unfortunately she didn’t share his sentiment after trying it. She said it was ok, but the sauce on the shrimp was overpowering ad made it so you really couldn’t taste anything else but that. So it was kind of just like a bowl of sauce with some lumps in it. Sounds scrumptious.

A bowl of bad flavoring

I ordered the fish and chips. They were good, but just like Ted’s sandwich, it was a pretty large order. I, however, wasn’t up for a trip on the “fill your stomach to the point of explosion” train, and ended up leaving most of the fries behind after I devoured the fish and cole slaw. Cassi also thought I was leaving the fish breading behind, as when I first cut into a piece it all flaked apart.

Cassi: I know you sometimes eat the insides out of a sandwich when you start getting full, but eating the fish out of the breading seems like a new low.

I’ll take everything you can put in a deep fryer please

Also, they aren’t kidding about that whole “we don’t use heat lamps” thing, since my fish was basically a little volcano of steam when I first cut into it. Noted under: things that should make me wait a moment before I start eating them. But as we’ve seen many times prior, I’m clearly not that smart. *sigh*

Shane had debated over ordering the pastrami, the street tacos and the sliders. After a lengthy chat with the server, he ended up with the short rib sliders and the lobster tacos. And was slightly food jealous when Ted’s pastrami sandwich arrived, as that was the one thing he declined.

These look too healthy to be in front of Shane

Head shadow

But he definitely wasn’t disappointed in the two meals he did choose. He said the sliders could’ve used a little bit of BBQ sauce, but they were still good. He was also definitely glad he ordered both meals, as one alone wouldn’t have been enough for his bottomless hunger.

So this was like the fancy version of ordering a burger AND wings.

Remember how I’ve mentioned numerous times now that we were all, like, super full as we finished eating? Makes perfect sense then that we all nodded when the server asked if we might like to consider dessert, no?

Let’s just say that if we ha never been to 3 Brothers, we most certainly would’ve passed on dessert. But thanks to our visit there and our near-miss at passing on what turned out to be the Best. Dessert. Ever. we’ve learned our lesson. I mean, Cassi wasn’t even on that WTGW trip and she knew better than to walk away dessert-less here.

Although Shane, in his quest to be “healthy,” declined and said he was going to get on the treadmill when we got home. Um, OK. Maybe next time just don’t order two meals and all the fried apps, but whatever. He definitely missed out.

Ted Cassi and I ended up with mini dessert jars. And I think the “pumpkin love” from 3 Brothers should be nervous about competition in the dessert category, because wow.

I got chocolate chip cookie. Cassi got the same minus the ice cream. Ted got the mocha mudslide and the warm molten brownie.

Cookie dough with ice cream

And without

I don’t know which of Ted’s is which but who cares, it was all amazing

Um, yeah. Cassi said it might be the best dessert she’s every had. Those little jars were the perfect amount of heaven. I mean, if I hadn’t just eaten a huge dinner and appetizers I might be able to eat more than one. Oh, who am I kidding, if this place weren’t a half hour away I would probably stop on my way home from work every night just to get like 8 of these to go.

For once maybe I’m glad a good pick is a little further away. My closet thanks you.

But we will definitely be back. I mean, it’s worth it even if just for the pickles and dessert.

Hey wait, I think I’ve said this before.

Picked by: Ted

If there’s bad lighting in a place, I’ll find it

Ted

Bromance

Cassi


Table Six Kitchen + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato