WTGW 11/11/15: Kevin O’Bryan’s, Akron

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So in contrast to last week, when it was the smaller than normal group of three (just me, Shane and Ted) … this week we had a larger than normal group of seven, with a few special guests and friends who wanted to join us to check out this particular spot. Apparently we’ve latched onto the Goldilocks and the Three Bears scale of dining groups. Maybe next week we’ll hit “just right?”

Kevin O’Bryan’s is a place that’s been on my radar for a little while now, but for some reason I just never pulled the trigger on actually picking it. Maybe because when you zoom out on the google map, the area of town is just a tad bit on the side of shady. I mean, not that that’s necessarily stopped us from visiting places in the past (Papa Don‘s, anyone?) … but let’s just say that as we approached the place – which turned out to be a non-descript block building with few windows across from a Family Dollar which we realized later had one of the world’s last working pay phones out front – I was only slightly nervous about what we were getting ourselves into.

Although everyone else tried to make me feel better by pointing out that there was another pub on the opposite corner of the street that seemed to be almost a carbon copy (from the outside anyway), so we could probably just hop back and forth if my place sucked. Thanks, guys.

But I’m happy to report that we had absolutely nothing to be worried about. This place is definitely a hidden gem. And we already can’t wait to go back.

Our server in particular was outstanding. You have to love someone who basically just lets you walk in and start pushing the tables around to however you want in order to accommodate your big group. I mean, there weren’t a ton of other people in the bar, and I’ll admit we can be kind of pushy as a group in general sometimes … but still. It was nice of him to not approach us with a “WTF do you think you’re doing there, new people I’ve never seen before in my life?” attitude.

He also took note of Shane’s Cleveland hoodie and commented that he could use Shane’s help to basically push out another group of not-Cleveland fans that were planning to watch the game there this coming weekend.  In his words “so, they’re Steelers fans, and I mean, I can’t kick them out all together … because, let’s face it, I still want their money … but I just don’t want them to have this great of a table. I’d rather you guys – Cleveland fans – had it.”

Ah, rivalry.

The beer list on the table was outdated, although the server mentioned that the new one was on his computer at home. Because that helps us not at all – unless we’re road tripping to go pick it up – but whatever. I noticed the tap for McKensie’s Cider at the bar and asked if they had the seasonal reserve – which they did – so I went with that, as did Amanda.

Although in true us fashion, that lasted two rounds and then we ran out the keg. It’s like they see us coming.

The server brought over another cider to try after that – I think maybe it was also from McKenzie’s(?), and I know he specifically said it was something with chamomile in it (he said he had to write the name down before he brought me the sample – “I’m usually good remembering this stuff but even I had to write it down, the name is jacked.”) So of course I liked it, but now have no idea now what the name of it actually was. Except the chamomile part. And that just makes me confused, like is it tea or is it cider? I mean, really. It wasn’t awful – to be honest, it tasted kind of like the seasonal reserve, minus the cinnamon and nutmeg. But note to companies – how about we stop trying to have 50 flavors that are all just OK and instead focus on making five or six that are really, amazingly good? Just a thought.

Speaking of really, amazingly good alcoholic beverages, Jerrid started the night drinking what is probably the exact opposite of that … Bud Light. Well, at least, anyway, until he mentioned wanting to do shots and the server recommended the “PB&J” – which is basically just a shot of Jameson (“J”) served along side a tall boy can of PBR (“PB”). For $6.50.

Shane: So really that’s a $6 shot and a $.50 can of beer then?

Note to anyone going out with our group: sometimes it’s easier to just not admit you’re a fan of certain beers, lest you be ridiculed until your dying day about them.

So since Kevin O’Bryan’s is known for it’s burgers (their website touts “Best Burgers in Akron!”), that’s what most of the table ended up getting. Although honestly, we had to admit the breadth and variety of the menu was a bit surprising to us. For a place that looks like a little dive bar on the outside, they really offer some interesting foods – not just your typical wings, frozen burger patties and random chicken sandwich selections. I mean, how many other bars serve fried green tomatoes as an app? (keeping in mind we’re in Ohio here, not anywhere near the southern U.S.)  Or buffalo calamari? Or a burger with pimento cheese and remoulade? Exactly.

But in any case, back to the burgers. So when I asked about the whole “Best in Akron” label on the website, the server told me that that was, in fact, the case – in his words, the only place that might compare to them is Swenson’s. Which I admittedly have heard of and driven past several times, but have never actually tried.

Server: You’ve never been to Swenson’s? Do you not live around here?
Me: No, we live in Cuyahoga Falls.
Server: Then how is it possible you’ve never been to Swenson’s? They’re, like, famous around here. You found us but you haven’t been there?
Me: But Swenson’s doesn’t serve alcohol.
Server: Point taken. Yeah, we’re definitely better than them then.

I like him.

Shane meanwhile took that opportunity to stir up the great “Burger Wellness Scale Interrogation” that we seem to go through at, well, every place we even think about ordering burgers. I’m beginning to think he should just create and carry some sort of a photographic reference that he can point each server to when describing to the level of pinkness he would like his burger to contain. Because in over two years, we still have yet to reach a universal similarity to the words “rare,” “medium rare,” and “somewhat rare.”

The struggle is real, y’all.

Amanda and I kept up our twinning routine and ordered the exact same entrees – the blue cheese burger with an added topping of sauteed mushrooms, and tater tots on the side. And we were not disappointed.

Can I have some of your tots?

Can I have some of your tots?

Not to be outdone, Shane and Lou also went the twinsies route and got the Livie Burger (the one with the pimento cheese referenced above) and fried green tomatoes as a side. They were also very satisfied with their choices.

Shane also got an order of wings – because, well, Shane. He chose the Irish Dew sauce, which is a house specialty. I only somewhat overheard the conversation about what it was made of (I clearly skipped the class toward my journalism degree called “paying attention when people talk”) but I do know it involved boiling down Tullamore Dew whisky as a base, and then mixing it with spices. In any case, Shane thought it was excellent.

Burgers and wings. The WTGW staples.

Burgers and wings. The WTGW staples.

Ted also got wings – because, again, that’s how the boys of WTGW roll – but he went with the hot garlic. Which he said kind of missed the mark on the whole “hot” part. He also got the Wednesday Special, a strip steak with potatoes and fried green beans.

That looks like a real meal.

That looks like a real meal.

The steak comes with a hot pepper on top of it … and you know of course Ted ate it. He didn’t regret it quite as much as the time he ate the pepper out of Shane’s drink at Tim Owen’s Traveler’s Tavern a few weeks ago … but it was definitely close. You know, like when you eat all the cookies you were supposed to take to your company holiday party, so now you don’t have anything to take with you and your stomach is really upset with you … but the cookies were super delicious, so it was actually kind of worth it. That level of regret.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

He later asked the server what kind of pepper it was, and was told it was just a fried banana pepper. Which apparently had been farmed on the surface of the sun, according to Ted’s reaction. When Ted told the server that the pepper was hotter than his entire batch of hot garlic wings, the server’s reaction was “well, I guess that means we need to step those wings up a notch then, thanks for letting me know.”

That’s what we’re here for, folks. Saving the world from bad and/or wrongly labeled foods, one entree at a time.

Jerrid ordered a burger with tater tots, and the full appetizer order of the fried green tomatoes instead of just the side. He kept trying to get everyone at the table to try the fried green tomatoes – and in particular the sauce they came with. There’s only so many times you can hear “you need to get more of the sauce” before your mind just naturally goes to a dark place.

Again, don’t pretend you don’t get it.

Fried green tomatoes. Fancy.

Fried green tomatoes. Fancy.

Shanda, meanwhile, had a salad as big as my head. Does that still mean it’s healthy? And is that even allowed at our table of fried sin and burger deliciousness? The jury is still out.

Is that healthy food? Who allowed this order?

Is that healthy food? Who allowed this order?

So the overall opinion here was that everything was delicious – I don’t think there was anything we weren’t happy with, except maybe the fact that they ran out of our cider after about 30 minutes … but, hey, we’re used to that, no harm done there. Our server kept up well with what we admittedly realize can be a loud, demanding and over zealous group (especially once Jerrid and Ted decided it was o’shot-thirty … because that always ends well) … and did so with a sense of humor, more patience than I probably would be able to muster and a smile the entire time. We all admitted we were a bit nervous about the location and the exterior of the place, but the staff and the food are well worth getting past all of that. Plus that Family Dollar I mentioned was visible just outside the front window behind us – and who knew a pay phone could be so popular? – so we were afforded constant entertainment all evening. We’ll definitely be back. I mean, Shane even gave it his “dive bar stamp of approval” … which if nothing else just made me super glad I picked it before he had a chance to.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda and Shanda

Amanda and Shanda

Ted and Jerrid. And shots. Obviously.

Ted and Jerrid. And shots. Obviously.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  When the list is updated, it’s pretty impressive. But judging from the outdated list, what they had over the summer looked delicious too. Quite a few crafts on draft, and bottles ranging from craft to PBR. What’s not to love.
Food:
Delicious. They aren’t kidding about it being the best burgers in town. They are definitely cooked to order. Shane didn’t even have to reference his power point presentation.
Service: Awesome. Again, we know we can be a demanding bunch (and there were more of us than usual this time) but we were definitely always well taken care of.
Overall: We’ll be back, whether to kick out rival fans for a Browns game or to maybe check out the Thursday night karaoke scene. Shane Newton needs new audiences …

Next Pick: Amanda
Kevin O'Bryan's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 10/28/15: Dante’s Game Day Grille, Akron

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Another week, another perfect example of the rule “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I’m almost thinking we should change the name of this blog to something along that lines. Because we visit some shady looking places, y’all. And have yet to be shot at, kicked out of or completely disappointed in – well – most of them. Not too shabby.

So, yeah, Dante’s is definitely a bit shady on the outside. Like we drove right past it at first because we weren’t sure a) that was the place, and b) it was open. We finally realized there must be parking behind the building, since there were zero cars on the street. However, that lot was really no less daunting than the front of the building. As we parked, Shane noticed a light on above the creepy looking basement door.

Shane: what’s up with that basement?
Me: that’s where people go to die. You watch enough horror movies, that should be obvious to you.

We then had a lengthy discussion about how I would most definitely be the first one of us to die, since I was the only girl in the group for the night (Amanda was home sick, boo) and I was wearing 4-inch heels. So there’s that.

Anyway.

Dante’s is way tiny inside. Like small enough that the whole “put a mirror up on one wall to make it look bigger” trick almost works. But it’s small in a good way, in that it just makes it feel homey. Like a neighborhood bar, which really is exactly what the place truly is. I mean, it even has the stale smell of old neighborhood bars. You know what I’m talking about … the smell of about 57 years worth of nicotine and spilled beer in a place that can never open a window. And it hits you like a wall as soon as you walk in. But in a good way.

All that being said, you might expect the records to screech to a halt and the regulars to stare us down as soon as us “newbies” walk through the door. But that’s one of the best things about Dante’s, we realized … everyone there is treated like they’ve been coming to the place for ages, regardless if that’s truly the case, or if they just walked in for the first time. Our server/bartender was the first to greet us, and she did so with a smile and wave as if we were old friends. Maybe we are? I mean, we’ve been to a lot of places these past few years. Hmm.

And in fact we trusted her as if she were an old friend – it seemed that everything she old us to order we jumped on like a kid in a bouncy house. She was great at giving suggestions once we told her it was our first time there, and didn’t judge us one bit for saying we were slightly afraid to come in to the place before this night. Although she did judge Shane, who was switching things up and ordering a vodka & Red Bull for his drink (since the Long Islands effectively kicked his ass last week) and, when asked what kind of vodka he wanted, just replied “I don’t care, well is fine.” You’d have thought she was just told to go shoot puppies out back and use their blood in his drink by the way she feigned shock. She replied that “I’m Ukrainian, we don’t believe in well vodka. I can’t serve you that, I have to give you something with at least a name.” Well played.

Meanwhile Ted went the complete opposite route and ordered an IPA (Pine something, maybe?) solely on her recommendation. So he’s clearly still on her good side.

I went with the Woodchuck, since there was nothing on the beer list that necessarily sounded good to me.

Ted: You don’t know how proud it makes me that the beer list included Miller, Coors and Bud, and you said that “nothing sounded good.”

I seriously thought he might cry.

So for food, we all went with burgers, since the server told us that’s one of their specialties. I think at this point we might’ve ordered a pile of old boots deep fried in motor oil, that’s how much we trusted her recommendations. Ted ordered the Chuckie (which has salami on it), Shane got the Hot Pepper Burger (guess what that has on it?) and I had the standard Game Day Burger, with added mushrooms. The guys also got wings (Jamaican Jerk and Garlic Butter), because, well them.

Burger, fries and a drink. Our version of a happy meal.

Burger, fries and a drink. Our version of a happy meal.

Shane also ordered the Game Day Fries – another of the specialties and high recommendations of our server. These are basically regular fries covered in melted cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing. A combination which is music to the ears of my ranch-loving husband … but somehow that Midwestern gene skipped me. I also – thanks to an incident with a sink full of dirty dishes and a wet cracker from when I was about 8 years old – can’t stand soggy things, which is exactly how those fries end up after the cheese gets cold and the ranch seeps into them. But that’s just me. Which meant more for him, and he was perfectly OK with that.

There are fries under there somewhere. Honest.

There are fries under there somewhere. Honest.

The burgers were good. I was stuffed full after only half of mine, and about 1.5 onion rings. Shane said his hot peppers on his burger weren’t especially hot, but there was some sort of sauce on the sandwich that was made from one level of the surface of the sun, so that helped balance it out. Ted commented that he thought Dante’s must get their burger meat from the same place that supplies the Windsor Pub, because they tasted very similar.

Do they put ranch dressing on everything here?

Do they put ranch dressing on everything here?

About three onions had to die to make this side dish

About three onions had to die to make this side dish

The wings were OK – Ted said he thought that the Jamaican ones would’ve had more of a kick to them, but they were actually more like a sweet BBQ. And they were very salty. He said they weren’t bad … just “different.” He likened them to eating a bag of BBQ potato chips. Only the chips were made of chicken. So there’s that.

BBQ chip wings. I think we may be on to something here

BBQ chip wings. I think we may be on to something here

One thing we did be sure to note – we noticed it on a card on our tables and had to ask our server to be sure we weren’t seeing it wrong – Thursdays are $1.00 burger nights. $1.00. Right?? We didn’t believe it either. I mean, that’s like a holy offering to food lovers like us. Now granted they are 1/4 pound burgers (every other night – including the ones we had – they’re 1/2 pound), but still … I mean, it’s $1.00. You can buy four of them, mask them together and make a one pounder … and you’d still have change from a $5 bill. It’s kind of a no brainer.

Half of this for $1.00 on Thursdays. Not a bad deal

Half of this for $1.00 on Thursdays. Not a bad deal

So all in all, Dante’s is a nice little neighborhood bar. It’s definitely no frills, just a great little dive bar with lots of TVs tuned to the latest games and a few regulars keeping the bartender company after the dinner rush. It’s one of those places you almost want to become a regular in, just because you can tell there’s a good atmosphere and people are fun to be around. Like most dives, there’s not an overly impressive beer list, but they have the basics and it’s cheap and just a cool place to hang out. Just steer clear of the basement. I mean, even now that we’ve been inside the place I still don’t want to know why that light is on.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  Not a very impressive list, unless you have trouble deciding between Miller Lite, Coors Lite and Bud Light. Then you’re in the right place for sure. 
Food:
Typical dive bar fare – burgers, wings, anything you can make in a deep fryer. But a few surprises and specialties, like the game day fries. We took note of the $1 burgers on Thursdays. Because we like burgers, and that’s cheaper than McDonald’s. For real.
Service: Excellent. You know I love a server who can give any of us a run for our sarcastic and/or idiot sense of humor selves, while still doing a good job getting orders correct and giving suggestions. This was no exception.
Overall: Now that we know it’s not nearly as scary on the inside as it looks from a quick drive-by outside, I’m sure we’ll go back.

Next Pick: Steph

Dantes Gameday Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 9/30/15: Beer & Belly Sports Bar, Northfield

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Hey, we’re not in Canton this week!?! What?

But we did still visit a place located in a strip plaza, if that makes you feel any better. Redemption.

Amanda had noticed this place while driving by with Jerrid one day, and apparently immediately exclaimed that she was picking it for WTGW. Unfortunately Jerrid is still relatively new to the “rules” of WTGW – like how it’s perfectly acceptable to yell out “I’m picking it!” when you see a random dive bar or new restaurant in passing – so she was kind of jumping the gun a bit on that one. It’s like when you’re on a long, boring car ride and suddenly decide to play “slug bug” with someone who clearly didn’t know they were part of the game.

We seemed to show up in shifts for this week’s adventure, with Amanda and Jerrid arriving first, Ted and I next in line, and then my over-achieving and workaholic husband arriving last. That being said, Shane had some catching up to do on drinking when he got there, and went straight for the Long Islands. Well played.

Meanwhile it was Harvest Patch shandy for the rest of us (hey, it’s only available through October, we have to take advantage while we can!) and Jerrid went with a Jack & Coke.

Our server was honestly one of the best parts of our visit to Beer & Belly. Her personality had just the right mix of sass and sarcasm (which is a true compliment from someone who strives to achieve that balance pretty much every day of her life), without going overboard and making you feel like you just sat down to dinner with the Plastics from Mean Girls.

Case in point, when we ordered our beers:

Server: Do you want talls?
Entire table: Of course.
Server: I would hope so, our motto around her is go big or go home … and I’d hate to ask you to leave so soon.

Or, when Shane was grilling her on the specials and asking her opinion on the best food on the menu:

Server, looking directly at Ted: The Cowboy Burger is delicious. It has this pepper jack cheese on it that really gives it a good, spicy kick, really amazing.
Entire table: Um, yeah, you’re telling the wrong person. Ted hates cheese.
Server: What the hell is wrong with you? Who doesn’t like cheese? That’s insane. I don’t even know what to think about you.

If we were 10 years old and back in the 5th grade, at that moment I think we all would’ve been fighting over who got to claim her as their BFF.

Although it should be noted that her sass didn’t sway Ted from actually ordering that very burger, so I guess there’s a twist of irony there. Actually, he had had his order all picked out, but then once Shane began the interrogation process and our server started listing all kinds of other yummy things he hadn’t bothered to take the time to consider … Ted got befuddled and just picked the cowboy burger. Minus cheese. On a pretzel bun. With tater tots.

That's a lot of tots

That’s a lot of tots

Whew. Close one.

He also ordered wings, because, well, not only are Wednesdays 50 cent wing days – but if you’ve been paying attention these last few weeks you’ll notice that the boys in our group seem to consider them the ideal “first course” for a meal. You know, some people do side salads or soup to start off, these guys do wings. Whatevs.

This group's version of a "dinner salad."

This group’s version of a “dinner salad.”

In any case. Ted got the Hot Garlic, which was apparently really, really good because he nearly licked the plate clean once he finished the actual wings. Maybe we really are 10 year olds.

Shane ordered the ribs (twist his arm yet again), after hearing from our server that they were “very good, not fatty at all, very meaty.” You could practically see Shane’s face light up when he heard that. He got onion rings as a side. And for his wing option, he chose the garlic parm. Which, once again, if you’re following along here at home, you probably realize is nearly an exact clone of his order last week. Well, except swap the “parm” on the wings with “honey.” Which would of course make them disgusting in the process, so no thanks.

I have a feeling “honey garlic” is going to become the new “tarter toast” within our group. Just sayin’.

I think some restaurant somewhere should just start calling this the "Shane Special"

I think some restaurant somewhere should just start calling this the “Shane Special”

Rounding out the guys orders, Jerrid went with the Belly Boy burger, which the server likened it to a Big Mac – right down to the special sauce. And tater tots instead of fries. Clearly we’re exercising all of our side dish options at the table this evening. He also chose the garlic parm wings. And mozzarella planks – which, if you’re wondering, are really just mozzarella sticks that look like they were run over by a steamroller.

Flattened fried cheese

Flattened fried cheese

The secret sauce is what makes it

The secret sauce is what makes it

Clearly his appetite alone causes him to fit in well with this group.

Us girls went the burger and no wings route for our orders this time around. Although I actually have to credit my choice – the Sicilian Burger – to Ted, who had questioned it during the server interrogation portion of the evening. His question was something along the lines of “does all that stuff come on top of the burger? Because it kind of seems to have a lot going on on it’s own without even throwing a burger underneath all those toppings.” So out of sheer curiousity it ended up as my meal. I mean, as a kid I used to love Roman Burgers at Mr. Hero – and this sounded pretty similar. And since we’re apparently reverting back to our 10-year-old selves with this week’s adventure, I guess it was only fair to choose that as my meal.

FYI, the Sicilian Burger actually wasn’t all that similar to the Roman Burger – other than that whole Italian name thing anyway – but it was still OK. I got it on the Italian garlic bread – you can choose that, a pretzel bun or regular brioche bun – and I mean, I figured if we’re going for a theme here then that just makes sense, no? Plus by now you know how easily I can be swayed by delicious sounding carbs.

Unfortunately, I choose poorly. I imagined this to be like Texas toast, but in reality it was just plain old thin sliced Italian bread with garlic seasoning. Definitely not sturdy enough to even hold the burger in. I ended up eating just the burger (which was good) without the bread and all the meat toppings – which kind of did have “a lot going on there,” to quote Ted.

You deceived me, Italian bread

You deceived me, Italian bread

But the sweet potato waffle fries were good, so there’s that. And I salivated over Amanda’s pretzel bun, which thoroughly contained her Bacon Bleu Shroom Burger that she proclaimed to be delicious. For her side she opted for the cheesy tots. Well played.

I'm jealous of your bun. And I mean that in a totally non-perverse way.

I’m jealous of your bun. And I mean that in a totally non-perverse way.

All in all, Beer & Belly is a pretty cool place with a good atmosphere and great service. We also took note of their daily specials, which include everything from the 50 cent wings (Mondays and Wednesdays), $5.99 burgers (Thursdays), and a decent steak special whose price I don’t remember but it sounded decent (Saturdays). Given those specials and his home’s proximity to this place, I think we may know where to find Jerrid on any given night that he’s not actually at home. And I don’t think you’d have to twist our arms to go join him at all.

Amanda

Amanda

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Sometimes you have to zoom out to get the full picture with this group ...

Sometimes you have to zoom out to get the full picture with this group …

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  Decent options. Just make sure you get the tall beers, lest you be ridiculed for not hanging with the cool crowd.  
Food:
Good bar food, decent specials and portions. Figure out what type of food you like and match it to the day that has that special and you’re golden.
Service: I wish we’d gotten our girl’s name, because I would easily request her every time we go into this place. Anyone who can dole out the sarcasm along with a cold beer is a winner in my book.
Overall: Great little gem tucked into a strip plaza that I’m sure many people have driven past without even taking note of. Which works out well for those of us who have been there and liked it.

Next Pick: Ted

 

 

WTGW 9/16/15: Pucker’s Sports Pub & Grille, North Canton

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This week’s episode of WTGW brought to you by the phenomenon known as deja vu … and an overwhelming feeling we’re on some sort of quest to visit every single sports bar contained in a strip plaza in the Akron/Canton area.

We had all taken mental note of Pucker’s Pub on a recent visit to yet another North Canton sports bar, TD’S Tailgate Grille, located just down the street … ironically enough, in another strip plaza. Shocker. But as soon as we pulled into the parking lot of Pucker’s Shane started having flashbacks to yet another of his illustrious sports bar picks from a few months back, Sassy’s in Twinsburg.

The rest of us all did a collective “ooooh” as soon as he said it,  as we couldn’t deny it either. Great. We’re now conjuring up similar restaurants in different towns. Because that’s a skill to be proud of for sure.

Although once we got inside I have to say we were far more impressed with the decor than we were with Sassy’s. Maybe it was the absence of anything Miami-Vice-esque-neon-purple? Hard to say. The layout was somewhat similar but definitely brighter and more definitive of a sports bar (read: lots of TVs). So there’s that.

It took a hot minute for us to get seated, so much so that we almost just went about seating ourselves before someone strolled out leisurely from the back and asked if we needed a table. No, thanks, we just like to stand awkwardly in the tiny entryway of restaurants we’ve never eaten at before. No biggie. And it’s not like we were the first ones there, either. Plus there’s that thing about it being dinner time. But whatevs.

But standing in the entryway also gave us time to notice all the signs around the place for McKenzies pumpkin cider – which of course piqued our interest, since we are already huge fans of McKenzies seasonal reserve cider. So as soon as the server came over we all gushed about how we couldn’t wait to try it … and were basically told that we’ll still have to continue waiting, since they just ran out. Great. So now we’re even striking out with the fall beers, and so early in the season, too? *sigh*

The beer gods apparently hate us.

But it actually ended up OK, because our server suggested we try Leininkugel’s Harvest Patch Shandy instead – and that turned out to be absolutely freaking delicious. It’s seriously like pumpkin pie in a beer glass. I was the guinea pig to order it first … but then after everyone sampled mine 3/4 of our table ended up trading in their drinks on the second round to join my bandwagon.

The only hold out was Shane, who is apparently sticking to his guns on this whole sissy drink thing. I’ll refrain from further comment.

Our appetizers on this visit were courtesy of the deep fryer – fried pickles and fried jalepenos. You know, because we’re the poster children for good health choices. Both were good, although I was the only one to prefer the fried pickles to the jalepenos. So, more for me. Yay.

Pickle chips should really be more of a thing than they are

Pickle chips should really be more of a thing than they are

Seriously, the world would be a sad place without deep fryers

Seriously, the world would be a sad place without deep fryers

Everyone in our group opted for burgers for dinner – except me. I went with the Chipotle BBQ wings and a side order of chips. The wings were good, but very spicy – at least to me. I had seven of my 12 and was super full, so Shane and Ted had to step up and help me out. Because, well, that’s what boys are for, right? Exactly.

A well balanced bar meal

A well balanced bar meal

Shane and Amanda both ordered the Black Jack Guacamole burger. Which they almost sent back even before biting into, because, well, first they couldn’t find the guacamole on it (only the main ingredient that factored into their decision to order that particular burger – and, well, you know, part of the name), and also because Amanda didn’t remember seeing jalepenos in the description for the burger, either. Turns out, the guac is hiding under the burger patty. And the jalepenos are, in fact, part of the ingredient listing. Crisis averted. They both said the burger was good, but definitely spicy – both from the jalepenos (weird, right?) and also the guac itself was a bit zesty as well.

So basically, if you order this burger, do so with a side of water. And gum.

Shane also got six of the zesty ranch wings. Because, well, Shane. He wasn’t all that impressed with them – or, really, the extra wings that he ate off my plate, too. Boo.

This looks familiar

This looks familiar

Ted had the Aloha burger and six of the Louisiana Cajun wings – which are supposedly at the top of the “holy crap I’ll never be able to use my tastebuds again” scale, but Ted said they weren’t that bad. Now I didn’t try them – because honestly I cant’t imagine eating anything hotter than the ones that I had (which weren’t even close to the top of the scale) – but Ted has definitely had his fair share of wings at various establishments, so I’ll take his word for it. He definitely liked them, saying that even though they lacked the hotness he was expecting, they still definitely had good flavor.

Twinsies

Twinsies

Once again the boys shared some of their meals, since Ted forgot to ask the server to not put cheese on his burger and Shane wasn’t about to let that go to waste. It’s a good thing they have each other.

Although the Fried Apple Rings sounded delicious, the group opted out of dessert this week. Maybe we were still scarred by the giant slice of carrot cake that graced our table last week? I feel like that thing will haunt us for a while.

Our server was wonderful.  Although we were teasing her, because at least three different times she managed to somehow drop one of those little plastic cups of ketchup somewhere in our vicinity. It’s like we had some kind of ketchup force field that caused it to fly out of her hands every time she came near us with it and splatter all over the floor. But she had a great sense of humor about it, kept apologizing profusely every time it happened … and even climbed under the table to clean some of the spatter off of my shoe. Now that’s service.

Oh look, that ketchup is still on the plate

Oh look, that ketchup is still on the plate

Because this was a sports bar, naturally we asked about any sports team groups that watch games there regularly, and if the place gets pretty packed for games, etc. She had us on the line to come check out a Browns game there … until she mentioned there’s a big Steelers backers group that also watches there. And no. Sorry, that’s a deal breaker for us. But, hey, until they put football games on Wednesday nights, it’s still fair territory – so at least we had fun while we were there.

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  Notice to beer reps: if you’re going to drop off signage for your new seasonal product, you might also want to make sure you drop off enough of the actual product to serve to patrons. Just a thought. But no worries, what they did have in stock was just as good. 
Food:
Good burgers and wings. I mean, really, what more do you need?
Service: Great. I mean, what else can you say about someone who has a sense of humor while cleaning ketchup off your shoe under the table? But beware you might wait a hot minute to get seated. Server, good; Hostess, bad.
Overall: Decent place but really nothing overly special. Especially once she said the words “Steelers Backers.” Enough said.

Next Pick:  Steph

Pucker's Sports Bar & Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW: Special Saturday Sports Edition

Standard

OK, so I’m breaking protocol here, but I kind of feel like every time the four of us visit a new place together we have to review it now. Because, well, why not.

So this story actually starts out with a little lesson in customer service … in the form of how NOT to treat potential new patrons to your establishment. This past Saturday was the annual Ohio State/Michigan football game, which anyone from Ohio knows is almost bigger than a Bowl game for our fans. Plus we’re Browns fans, so usually by this point in the season this is about the only thing we have to look forward to in terms of football. But don’t get me started on that.

So anyway, off we go to Firehouse Pub in downtown Cuyahoga Falls … and back we went to the car about 10 minutes later. Because nothing says “welcoming environment” like having he bartender rudely yell “WAIT OUTSIDE, WE DON’T OPEN TIL NOON” at you as you walk in the front door. Funny, the website said you open at 11. It’s 11:40, and the big game starts in 20 minutes. And your front door was unlocked. But silly us, we’ll definitely stand out in the 25 degree cold for the next 20 minutes waiting for you to finish setting the place up. Was there a wild kegger bash in there the night before that you’re still cleaning up from? Were you getting brand spanking new tables and chairs delivered and they still needed assembled? Because last I checked, “setting up” a restaurant for customers in a sports bar really just involved making sure they were clean and maybe had some silverware. God forbid we can’t witness that.

(Sidenote, rest assured once we got settled in our actual spot for the game I wasted no time in tracking down their Facebook page, where I discovered a post about “make sure you come out and see us for the big game” and commented on how we tried to do so and were turned away. I give them credit for actually replying to said post and having a nice exchange with me about the time they open and apologizing for the bartender’s behavior. It doesn’t make me want to run back any time soon, but I at least appreciate the gesture.)

So with that bad taste in our mouths we set off on a search for another place that would let us spend our money eating their food and drinking their beer. I know, you wouldn’t think this would be super difficult, right? Unfortunately the biggest hurdle we faced was that other people had been smarter than us and planned further ahead (hey, we tried!) and with time running out before kickoff most places were already standing room only. We thought we’d be either forced to eat wings standing up near the door to one of these establishments, or actually try the food at someplace a bit on the shady side like the Melody Inn.

Until Shane remembered Sidelines. **and the sky parts**

Located on State Rd just south of the Rt 8/Rt 303 interchange, Sidelines is a little spot that has been no less than three other names in the past 18 or so months that we’ve lived in the area. It was a sports bar, then I think another sports bar, then most recently a Mexican restaurant. And each time we would exclaim, “Oh, that place on State Rd is open again now as (insert name here). We should go check that out!” And by the time we got around to remembering that, it would close again. I’m not sure what the curse is that’s on the building, but I hope for Sidelines sake it’s been lifted.

Because this place is actually pretty cool.

First of all, it’s bigger than it looks from the outside. Although it I owned the place I would open up the big room in the back with some sort of roll-up windows or something so that when patio season hits it makes it a better spot for those of us trying to enjoy the few months a year we can actually be outside without coats – but that’s just me. There is a tiny patio on the front of the building, but – much like our favorite Muskateer’s – it faces a rather shady looking rent-by-the-week motel. Now that I type that, I’m beginning to get a complex that all the places we like the most seem to be located fairly close to this type of establishment. Hmmm.

Other than the view from the patio, one of the first things we noticed about this place was that they served extremely cold beer. Like ice crystals forming on the top of the glass cold.  Certainly there are worse ways to get our attention. The waitress was very cheerful and helpful, and put up with us being indecisive about our seating arrangements so that we all had a view of the game. Even though the place did start to fill up a bit as the day wore on, she was still attentive and easy to catch for refills of ice beer. We did sample our usual round of fried appetizers, burgers and wings – and while the food was nothing particularly out of this world, it wasn’t bad by any means – especially considering the place is still getting it’s feet wet in terms of serving customers. We were a little confused in that the menus we were given didn’t seem to have a lot of options, but claimed they were still under a “soft opening” and would be expanding the menu soon … but when we asked our waitress she said they had in fact had the grand opening already and the menu would remain as printed. OK. All that being said, I do think it would be worth a trip back just to see if they did expand the menu later and to check on how things are going after a few months of being open. And hopefully the sign still has the same name on it at that point.

"I don't always pose with cardboard cutouts, but when I do ..."

“I don’t always pose with cardboard cutouts, but when I do …”

So all in all I think we ended up salvaging a pretty good day, despite our rocky start. It’s strange to be kicked out of a bar at the beginning of the day and not the end. Some time after the game ended we left Sidelines and actually somehow ended up enjoying a few rounds back at one of our WTGW picks from the summer – River City Bar & Grille over in Stow. While not quite as memorable of an experience as the last time we were there, it was still a good place for a few drinks and some good conversations. And then, in true alcoholic fashion, we ended the night by picking up munchie food to take home – although instead of our usual run to Sheetz, we ended up at a specialty popcorn shop. What? Does this mean we’re real adults now? Ha.

But in all seriousness, Metropolis Popcorn, located in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, is truly one of the hidden gems of the area . I had never even heard of it – other than driving by the downtown area and seeing the name on the side of the building – until about a week ago when Shane and I decided to meander through the downtown district on a rare day off. We popped in (see what I did there?) and after a few samples we were hooked. And started telling everyone we knew about the place. The flavors are incredible, and they’ve come up with ones that I wouldn’t think would taste good but are actually truly amazing. Hello, Dill Pickle? And the Thin Mint made us all go “oh wow” – and not just thanks to the alcohol we already had in our system. Seriously, good stuff.