WTGW 8/20/14: Blue Willow Lounge, Macedonia

OK, so I know it looks like we were slackers and took a couple of weeks off. But really we did go out the last two Wednesdays, I just spared you the reviews since technically both places – Bricco in Kent and Sarah’s Vineyard in Cuyahoga Falls – were places we’ve visited previously. Granted, the Bricco location we went to was in downtown Akron, and now that I look back I realize that our Sarah’s visit was before we started the blog … so, OK, I guess I really should’ve done reviews for both places. Oops. I guess I’m the slacker then. Just me. Oh well.

Anyway, as I try to redeem myself here, let’s just move on to this week’s adventure.

It was Shane’s pick this week, and he chose the Blue Willow Lounge in Macedonia. Which he informed us on the drive there was “supposedly the oldest bar in Macedonia.” Now, I’m not exactly sure where he got this information – but let’s just say that based on that little tidbit alone I had a slightly different picture of the place painted in my mind. You know, one of those bars in a building that kind of looks like it could be someone’s house, with the same 5 cars always parked out front, and the walls faintly yellowed with the memories of pre-smoking ban years gone by.

Yeah, no, that’s not what this is. And unless they didn’t allow bars in Macedonia prior to the big strip mall building spree of the 90’s, I really have to say I kinda doubt his source on this one.

But whatever.

The inside of the Blue Willow Lounge is similar to any strip plaza bar/restaurant – large bar at the back of the room, open area with tables that can be moved out of the way to create a dance floor, TVs on the walls, and no windows other than the large ones in front. The bar area was somewhat crowded when we arrived, so we chose to sit at one of the tables – and for the rest of the evening we were pretty much the only ones NOT seated at the bar. Because we like to make it obvious we’re new to the place.

And this is definitely a “regulars” kind of place – from the bikers to the guy in a dress shirt and tie, you can tell they all frequent the place often. But that being said, we never felt unwelcome, or like that classic movie scene where the music screeches to a halt when the obvious out-of-place people enter the room.

The service was excellent, especially considering that the bartender was also the only waitress, and that meant that she had to keep leaving the bar in order to check on our lone table out on the floor. She was very personable, gave good recommendations when we said we’d never been there before and asked what was good on the menu, and even called Ted a pussy when he opted for the short beer instead of the tall in the second round. I like her spirit.

Ted learns a valuable lesson about downsizing

Ted learns a valuable lesson about downsizing

Summer Shandy was still on tap, so you know what Amanda and I ordered. Shane went with the Miller Lite, and Ted chose Christmas Ale. Which you would think might have given him a pass on that whole second round short thing, but no dice. Like I said, I like her spirit.

Wednesdays are “build a burger” nights, which basically means you can put any toppings you want on a burger for $5.95. We all elected to do this, with various toppings that I can’t keep track of now. Let’s just say that all of our burgers were delicious. These were definitely not freezer-to-grill patties – they’re made fresh with each order, and you can tell. Lots of flavor, and they definitely didn’t skimp on the toppings. All burgers come with fries, or you can get chips or waffle fries for $1.00 more. I elected for the waffle fries, because, well, why not.

Bar food at its best

Bar food at its best

Shane promptly scooped up Ted's discarded cheese. We're all friends like that.

Shane promptly scooped up Ted’s discarded cheese. We’re all friends like that.

Shane's burger, pre-extra cheese donation

Shane’s burger, pre-extra cheese donation

Waffle fries with cheese. Takes me back to college.

Waffle fries with cheese. Takes me back to college.

Our waitress had recommended the burgers (with good reason) and also mentioned everyone raves about the wings … so of course after they finished their burgers the boys ordered 12 wings to split, too. Oh yeah and we had calamari for an appetizer. Again, how we all don’t weigh 400 lbs is beyond my own personal comprehension. Thank you good metabolism.

Nothing like a little post-meal appetizer to keep the metabolism running

Nothing like a little post-meal appetizer to keep the metabolism running

She also recommended the Philly steak sandwich, but we didn’t order that. Surprisngly. And while we didn’t partake in any of the bucket/beer specials, there were about 87 different signs on the wall touting various ones, so I guess it was nice to know the option existed.

Boatloads of bucket specials. And still empty wall space for more.

Boatloads of bucket specials. And still empty wall space for more.

Overall, the Blue Willow is a great little hidden gem of a place. They played good music on the jukebox … although the randomness caught us off guard a few times (otherwise known as “how to go from Kenny Chesney to Candlebox in 2.3 seconds”). And while we didn’t go make friends at the bar, no one treated us like new people who were to be avoided. We also noticed the bar bowling machine in the corner –  one of the few left around anymore, I think, and about the only thing I noticed in the place that might’ve helped support Shane’s “oldest bar” claim. We didn’t play it, but by the time we left I think we had convinced ourselves that we should TOTALLY form a team and start a league there if they didn’t have one already. Because, you know, we always come up with our best ideas on Wednesdays after a few beers. Ha.

Our fictitious bar bowling team totally rocks!

Our fictitious bar bowling team totally rocks!

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane
Drinks: Once again, I stopped listening at Summer Shandy. But the draft list wasn’t very extensive (5-6 beers I think), and we never made it to the bottle list. There were several posters on the walls advertising bucket specials on domestics though.
Food:
Burgers = awesome. Enough said.
Service: Excellent. And bonus points for calling Ted out when he ordered a short beer in the second round.
Overall: I venture to say we might be back to this one again. While it’s a bit out of our immediate area, the food and service were good enough that I could see us heading back. As long as Ted remembers his drinking shoes anyway.

Next Pick: Steph

WTGW 7/30/14: The Rail, Fairlawn

So tonight’s WTGW Wednesday location was, once again, supposed to be a patio. With 10 cent wings. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Yeah, well, apparently Mother Nature thought so, too, because for about the millionth time this summer she gave us crap weather on a Wednesday night. Six other evenings of the week it’s sunny and 75 outside – but I would almost put money on the fact that every Wednesday from now until the snow starts flying it will be rainy and/or 60 degrees. Yay us!

I was meeting the group at the restaurant (our quick change rain location, not the place with the patio – we’ve learned by now to always have a place on standby), and I swear I drove through a freaking monsoon just to get there. By the time I got to Fairlawn I was a poster child for one of those “turn around, don’t drown” PSAs. And of course my umbrella was in the car I didn’t drive, although luckily my quick MacGuyver search of the car turned up Shane’s well-worn Carhart that’s been in the car since winter, and I was able to use that as a traveling shelter. Thanks honey. Ted apparently also played in the ginormous puddle outside the restaurant, because he proudly showed off where his jeans were soaked up to his knees. If I hadn’t been afraid of waterlogging my phone I would’ve grabbed a picture.

Did I mention Mother Nature hates us?

Anyway.

The Rail is located at the Summit Mall – but don’t let that deter you, since it’s not truly inside the mall, but instead part of a row of restaurants on the the mall’s south edge. Which is good because last I checked you can’t serve alcohol as part of the food court, can you? If that’s changed then I may need to make more visits to the mall.

Um, your cow is upside down. Just sayin'.

Um, your cow is upside down. Just sayin’.

The place is pretty tiny inside, so it did take a minute to get a table. Which worked out well for me, since I was busy floating my car down the highway for most of the wait time. And, no, Ted, just because we had to wait for a table here does not mean that FlipSide is back on the option list.

The specialty at The Rail is burgers – using Ohio grown meat and ingredients. They also serve local craft beers, as well as alcoholic milkshakes. Which we oddly enough didn’t order right away. Weird. Shane and I went for the Griffin hard cider, Amanda had the margarita (because it was on special for $3 on Wednesdays), and Ted had the Mt. Caramel Nut Brown Ale.

Shane was very excited about ordering fried green tomatoes as an appetizer, only to be told that they were out of them. Which is odd since the burger of the month features them on it, but whatevs. So instead we settled on the fried pretzel bites. Because we’ll pretty much eat anything with the word “fried” in it. I thought they were good, but I think Shane’s heart was set on the fried tomaotes and they just couldn’t live up to that.

Shane goes in for the first pretzel

Shane goes in for the first pretzel

Because we can’t just have one appetizer for a table of four, Ted ordered the chips and bacon salsa. Which was delicious. I’m really not sure how the bacon salsa differes from regular salsa, as I didn’t see any bacon actually in it – but who cares, it was yummy regardless.

Colorful. And tasty.

Colorful. And tasty.

For our meals, I went with the Naked Burger, since I usually just toss half the bun anyway – and it was great. I chose pepperjack cheese and mushrooms as my “embellishments” – and then added bacon, too, because, well who wouldn’t add bacon if asked?

A burger without a bun. And as you can see we put quite a dent in the chips and salsa.

A burger without a bun. And as you can see we put quite a dent in the chips and salsa.

Ted decided to be adventurous and build his own burger, with mushrooms, truffle butter and jalepeno peppers. He called it a completely experimental combination – especially since we had to ask what truffle butter was – but he said it worked out and he was happy with it.

Ted's creation

Ted’s creation

Amanda had the Greenwich Pig, which she proclaimed to be one of the best burgers she’d ever eaten. Shane had the 7th Heaven, and while he said it was good, he didn’t share Amanda’s love of it – although she claimed that was must because he’s loyal to his #1 pick, Muskateers. As you can see we take this ranking business very seriously.

Bleu cheese and bacon. I can see nothing wrong with this at all.

Bleu cheese and bacon. I can see nothing wrong with this at all.

After the disappointment of no fried green tomatoes, The Rail served up yet another black mark for Shane, in that the fries don’t come with the burger. We tried to explain that many places do it this way now so that you can just choose your side item, if you want one at all, instead of wasting the fries that would normally just automatically accompany the burger. He was the only one at the table truly bothered by this. But still ordered chips with his burger. So really that little experiment worked perfectly, honestly.

Shane's burger and chips combo

Shane’s burger and chips combo

After the meal we had dessert … in the form of alcoholic milkshakes.

Yes please

Yes please

Amanda and I both had the White Russian, and Ted had the Ohio Apple one. When the waitress came up tot he table she held Ted’s out with an approving look and asked who the “smartest person at the table” was who had ordered that one. One sip of his shake and we instantly wished we were as smart as he was. Not that our White Russians were bad – but the Apple one was 1,000 times better. Yum. And while at first we were off put by the small glass – it was actually the perfect amount.

Clearly we should've been cut off long before this last drink order

Clearly we should’ve been cut off long before this last drink order

Beershakes = awesome

Clearly we aren’t as excited about our alcohol.

I know we said his milkshake was the best, but this might be overkill

I know we said his milkshake was the best, but this might be overkill

He's like a cat

He’s like a cat

The service at The Rail was good. Our water wasn’t overly talkative or attentive – and maybe we were just so scarred from last week’s horrible waitress at JoJo’s, but he was still a good waiter. Although for the second week in a row I did get passed up when it came to drink reorders. I really have to to stop wearing my invisible mask out to dinner I guess.

Overall a good place for a burger if you’re in the area. Not sure I’d go out of my way to go back – especially if you also plan to do some drinking, since this is more of an eat and go place than a sit and watch a game with a beer kind of joint – but I could defiitely see us going back.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Good selection of Ohio based craft beers and house-made specialty cocktails. And try the alcoholic apple milkshake. Trust us on this one.
Food: 
Good. The menu isn’t huge, and if you aren’t a fan of burgers then this probably won’t be at the top of your list. But since we are, we were definitely happy.
Service: Decent. It’s a small place and I think they have as many people working there as they do eating, so things definitely arrived in a timely fashion.
Overall: Since the places that make our “must revisit” list usually are more likely neighborhood bars where we can hang out and have a few drinks while watching a game, I don’t see us putting this at the top of the pile. But I definitely wouldn’t rule out stopping here again if we’re in the neighborhood and in search of a decent meal.

Next Pick: Ted

The Rail on Urbanspoon

Happy Anniversary to Us!

One year ago this week we began this little adventure we like to call Where To Go Wednesdays.

The night it all started - $1.00 beer night at a AAA baseball stadium, July 2013

July 2013. We definitely look like we’re on the cusp of a big idea, don’t we?

What started out with back-to-back evenings at the local county fair and a $1.00 beer night at the local AAA baseball field spawned the inevitable “hey, we should do fun things like this every week, why the hell aren’t we?” question … and here we are a year later, still challenging ourselves to find new and exciting places to go and things to do on a weekly basis.

(If you want the full story on who we are and how all this came to be, check out my first post.)

In honor of this anniversary, here’s a quick recap of all the places we’ve been over the past year. Many of these were pre-blog, so they unfortunately don’t have reviews … but trust me we can definitely remember something about each of them if you ask us.

In chronological order:

7/24/13: Summit County Fair / Akron Aeros baseball game
7/31/13: Sarah’s Vineyard, Cuyahoga Falls
8/7/13: Domenic’s / On The Rocks, Cuyahoga Falls
8/14/13: Hoppin Frog Brewery, Akron
8/21/13: IDO Lounge, Akron
8/28/13: River City Bar & Grille / Bailey Rd Tavern, Cuyahoga Falls
9/4/13: Whitey’s, Richfield
9/11/13: Lockview / Barley House / 69 Taps, Akron
9/18/13: El Campesino, Stow
9/25/13: Burntwood Tavern, Cuyahoga Falls
10/2/13: Cashmere Cricket, Cuyahoga Falls
10/9/13: Fisher’s Pub, Penninsula
10/16/13: Gasoline Alley, Bath
10/23/13: Baxter’s Pub, Akron
10/30/13: Muskateer’s Pub, Richfield
11/6/13: Grille on Waterloo, Akron
11/13/13: Ripper’s Rock House, Akron
11/27/13: The Boulevard / The Red Fox / Jimmy Bigg’s / Domenic’s
12/4/13: Tavern of Stow, Stow
12/11/13: David B’s Grille, Fairlawn
12/18/13: Angie’s Italian Restaurant, Barberton
1/8/14: Wasabi House, Fairlawn
1/15/14: El Ranchero Mexican Restaurant, Cuyahoga Falls
1/22/14: Bar 145, Kent
1/29/14: The Merchant Tavern, Merriman Valley
2/5/14: The Office Bistro, Cuyahoga Falls
2/12/14: Bricco, Akron
2/19/14: Delanie’s Tavern, Tallmadge
2/26/14: Johnny Malloy’s, Akron
3/6/14: 3 Palms Pizzeria / Kepner’s Tavern, Hudson
3/13/14: Max McQ’s, Merriman Valley
3/19/14: Louie’s Bar, Akron
3/26/14: Ray’s Place, Kent
4/2/14: Gus’ Chalet, Akron
4/9/14: Sammie’s Bar & Grille, Tallmadge
4/16/14: Brewster’s, Twinsburg
4/23/14: Cilantro Thai and Sushi, Akron
4/30/14: Beef O’Brady’s, Stow
5/21/14: Treichel’s Grille, Cuyahoga Falls
5/28/14: Pancho & Lefty’s, Stow
6/4/14: Legend’s Sports Bar, Green
7/9/14: One Red Door / Kepner’s Tavern, Hudson
7/16/14: Red Stone, Akron (review coming soon)
7/23/14: JoJos Sports Bar & Grille, Medina

Well that was a nice little walk down memory lane.

Got a place you think we should visit that we haven’t hit yet? Let us know!

WTGW 7/23/14: JoJo’s Sports Bar & Grille, Medina

So this week’s pick was a bit out of our immediate area – about a 30-35 minute drive to the west of us – but, hey, after a year of doing this let’s just say we’re running out of decent local options. *ahem* Maybe it’s time for someone to jump on that and open new places. *ahem* I’m just saying. I mean, when Shane is already eagerly awaiting the opening of the new Paninis at Steels Corners and Rt. 8 – and has already called dibs for his pick after it opens – that should really tell you something.

In any case, it was a lovely rainy night for a drive, so off we went to Medina, just off the main square at the center of town. JoJo’s Sports Bar actually shares a building with Dominic’s Italian Restaurant – which I have to admit threw us off a little since the Google Map woman was insisting we had arrived at our destination but yet we didn’t see any sign for the place. Hmmm. Because I guess placing said sign at the back of the building facing only a parking lot is the best way to let people know where you’re located. Must be a new “Reverse Marketing” approach.

However, JoJo’s quickly redeemed themselves with the large sign just inside the lobby reading “SUMMER SHANDY ON TAP.” And all is well with the world.

The other sign in the lobby, however, was a bit less welcoming.

That doesn't really seem that special, now does it?

That doesn’t really seem that special, now does it?

So we did as we were told, and found a booth in the restaurant area (the bar was full, booo). Despite a good number of waitresses and other staff members walking past us, we definitely waited more than a hot minute before some random kid walked past and asked if we’d been helped yet. While he was carrying a pizza box, we actually weren’t sure at first if he really worked there or was just on his way out the door with a to-go order and felt bad for us because we looked thirsty. Regardless, we were grateful for the menus he brought us, and the fact that he also sent over a waitress to help us.

Although I will admit that I wish he’d picked a different person to tell about us, because I think we got the least attentive waitress ever. Yay us!

We started out with drinks, and I’m glad the sign in the lobby had already told me what I wanted because the waitress really wasn’t much help in the “what do you have on tap” department. Because that’s awesome. Shane went with the usual Miller Lite, and Ted ordered whatever IPA that was on draft – which may officially be the lightest colored beer I’ve ever seen him a) drink willingly, and b) for more than one round.

The best part about JoJo’s is the extensive menu. They seriously seem to serve everything there. Burgers, wings and bar food? Check. Salads? You got it. Paninis and subs? Sure. Pasta, pizza and calzones? Why not? I think we all sat at the table in almost complete silence for the better part of our first 20 minutes there, just flipping the menu back and forth as we took in all the options. I guess the one good thing I can say about the slow service was that it gave us plenty of time to make our decision. Although, side note – when we asked the waitress what she recommended, or what the place was known for, she gave us a deer-in-headlights stare and replied “it’s all good.” Wow, thanks Captain Specific, we’re sure glad we asked. Because that was super helpful.

For appetizers we finally settled on the sausage stuffed peppers, the loaded jojos (because you can’t go to a place called JoJos and NOT order them, right?) and fried zucchini. If you can’t tell, it looks like we’re back on the “let’s order enough food for an entire small country and just hoard it at our table of 4″ meal plan for WTGW. Because clear arteries and low cholesterol are highly overrated.

If you fry a vegetable it still counts as a vegetable, right?

If you fry a vegetable it still counts as a vegetable, right?

Anyway, all of the appetizers were OK, but nothing great. The chili on the loaded jojos was clearly out of a can, as was the cheese sauce. I had high hopes for better. The stuffed peppers were OK, good portion size – but they really had no flavor, and definitely no spice. I was expecting something more like the ones at Bricco with the spicy chorizo sausage, and this was the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

Nothing says appetizers like cheese out of a can and non-spicy sausage.

Nothing says appetizers like cheese out of a can and non-spicy sausage.

For our dinners, Amanda had the Cuban Panini, which she definitely enjoyed. She took half of it home – whether that was from the portion size of the sandwich and chips, or because of the 8,000 calories worth of appetizers we consumed minutes before, I’m not really sure.

There really were more than four chips on the plate when it arrived.

There really were more than four chips on the plate when it arrived.

I had the Stromboli – because, as I stated to the table, “I’m a sucker for a good Stromboli” (cue “that’s what she said” jokes). And I was not disappointed (ba dum bum). The homemade dough was excellent, and you can tell it was made fresh. My only gripe was that I do wish you could choose the ingredients. The menu only gave one option – which they claimed to be “a local Medina favorite” – but apparently all the local have a penchant for onions and peppers, because the stromboli included a bit too much of that department for my tastes. I’d have gone simpler, with just sausage, mushrooms and cheese. But, hey, I guess maybe that’s why I don’t live in Medina.

You can't see the onions and peppers. They're sneaky like that

You can’t see the onions and peppers. They’re sneaky like that

Shane and Ted both ended up with pizza. Ted got the spicy chicken jalepeno, which was indeed spicy, but not so much that he couldn’t eat it. After a lengthy internal debate over pizza vs. ribs – and of course no help from our non-talkative waitress – Shane got the meat lovers pizza. Both really liked their choices. They also did the infamous trade deal, so they could try a slice of each other’s pies.

That sounded so much dirtier than it really should’ve.

And for the first time in WTGW history, the girls weren’t the only ones leaving the restaurant with to-go containers, as the boys each only finished half of their respective pizzas. What, what?

Meat.

Meat.

Ted so wants to be Vanna White

Ted so wants to be Vanna White

So I think our general consensus was that if this place was closer it would be a great go-to for to-go orders – that all purpose place that has a little of something no matter what you’re in the mood for. Shane and I had a place like that down the street from our old house in Howland, and we just haven’t found anything yet that compares. But we aren’t driving a half hour out of the way for a to-go order, and I doubt they deliver that far. Boo.

Also, while the food was good and there are other items on the menu that I would love to try – the service really put a black mark on our experience there. When you have to flag down the waitress to get another beer, or seem to be bothering her by asking her option on menu items, that’s not a very welcoming atmosphere that you want to return to. And it’s not even as if they were off the hook busy, either. By the time we left there were several open tables, and yet the service never got better. Maybe we just got the lady having a bad day, or the one that really should be cutting up potatoes for jojos in the back kitchen as opposed to serving customers – but in any case, I’m not sure our experience this time around equates to making another half hour+ return drive.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph
Drinks: Summer Shandy. I realize the days are numbered that we’ll still be able to find this, so it still excites me. 
Food: 
Good. Very large and diverse menu for a sports bar. And I’m not just saying that because we were all really, really hungry.
Service: Here’s where things fall apart. Our server seemed flustered, rushed and not overly attentive. When you walk past and ignore empty glasses, that’s not a good sign. Nor is ignoring the hands of three people waving at you to get your attention.
Overall: If it were closer, I could definitely see us going back just to try other items on the menu – or at least snagging a menu for to-go orders.

Next Pick: Amanda

Jojo's Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

WTGW 7/9/14: One Red Door, Hudson

Hey, did you miss us? Yes, it’s been a month since the last WTGW adventure. We’ve been busy, yo. And by busy, I really mean we’ve been on trips to Vegas, Chicago and a Jimmy Buffett concert … but whatevs. Don’t hate. Hello, summer!

Anyway.

So we’re back – and back in style, apparently, as this week’s adventure takes us to One Red Door in Hudson.

Honestly, full disclosure here, ORD was a second choice for us, after yet another failed attempt to visit it’s neighboring restaurant, FlipSide. Because Ted really, really wants to go there – you might remember we tried this before, a few months back, and ended up at the pizza place across the street – and is bound and determined that one of these days we will find the magical less-than-one-hour wait time at that establishment.

However, sadly this was not that day. Boooo.

So here we are.

One Red Door is a bit more upscale than we usually do for WTGW. And it’s definitely a far cry from our last adventure at Legends. I mean, not only were there no drink specials, but the place was suspiciously free of mullets and tie dyed clothing as well. What the hell happened in our month away? Ridiculous.

Also the prices were a bit more than we usually look for on a WTGW place – $17 or $19 for a burger? Granted it’s gourmet, but still. I mean, we couldn’t help but notice that they share part of the service area with the coveted FlipSide staff next door – and those burgers are considerably cheaper. Can’t they just pass some of the supplies over? I mean, really.

Speaking of prices, the beer list was a bit of a shocker as well. We’re talking Summer Shandy in a bottle for $5. What, are we back in Vegas? But of course you know we ordered it anyway. Because, well, we’re suckers I guess.

Shane got a hard cider that was served in a can, and was very dry. He only had one, but I think it was $8 so I guess that’s really a blessing in disguise. Ted had the Kentucky Bourbon Ale, which he tried to get all of us to taste and we promptly refused. I’m not sure how much that was, but with something as fancy as “Bourbon” in the title – plus the fact that they actually had to pour it and not just open the can/bottle – I’m going to to out on a limb and guess we’re talking double digits.

Probably because we messed up our usual 3:1 ratio with drinks, we (unintentionally, I swear) ended up keeping that tradition with our food orders instead. Ted had the salmon, while the rest of the table ordered the pizza. I decided to take the Wild Mushroom Pizza and add Italian Sausage to it – and the idea caught on like wildfire, as the rest of the table followed suit. And I have to admit it was pretty tasty. The waitress even complimented my idea to add the sausage – which I was kind of surprised she hadn’t had anyone do before – or maybe she had and was just trying to bump up her tip with the compliment – but whatever. I ate about half my pizza (3 slices), then donated the rest to Shane, who you know was not full after an entire 6-slice pie.

It's like looking into a mirror

It’s like looking into a mirror

Someone was too hungry to wait for pictures

Someone was too hungry to wait for pictures

Ted devoured his salmon in half the time it took me to eat half my pizza, but that was probably partially because this was one of those places that cares more about arrangement of the food on the plate and less about actual quantity of said food. Ted’s comment on his meal was something to the effect of  “there’s a lot of things together on this plate that I wouldn’t normally think would go together, but it seems to work.” So, score.

Overall, One Red Door has a nice atmosphere and our food was definitely tasty – although I think we all agreed it was a bit pricey and more for a nice evening out than a WTGW pick. The service was good, we didn’t feel like the loudest people in the place – which is good, considering the wide array of topics we tend to cover during our dinner discussions. We were seated on the restaurant side – back near the kitchen, so I guess we already had that look of “problem table” about us maybe? – so not sure if the atmosphere would’ve been a bit different on the bar side or not.

Being a “fancier” WTGW pick, we didn’t think we’d get anything to take our weekly funny picture of … until Ted noticed the frame o’ skeleton keys on the wall on the way out. Nice call. I’d have given him more props if he’d actually taken one of the keys with him after we took the picture – but I’m guessing he might actually want to return to that establishment again at some point, and the disapproving look the hostess gave us from across the way while we were taking the picture was probably warning enough that we were already taking things a step too far. Oh well.

Ted chooses the keys to Door #4

Ted chooses the keys to Door #4

So, since it was all of 8:15 when we left, we decided to head around the block for a repeat visit to Kepner’s Tavern for drinks. This is another place we last visited on the first failed FlipSide trip – and, as Ted joked on the drive over, it was difficult to find this time around without the caravan with the open side door parked out front like last time. Guess in the summer they button things back down a little. Anyway, our visit to Kepner’s was much better this time around than the last – maybe due to the younger crowd (probably attributed to summer vacation and kids being back in town from all the expensive colleges far away), and maybe due to the more pleasant bartender that actually spoke to us instead of watching TV the whole time. It’s the little things that impress us, apparently.

We each had a couple beers and the guys tried the wings (because, surprise, a few beers and a few hours later, they were hungry again). If we can take away one thing from the evening, it’s that the biggest difference between a regular Cajun seasoning and a Louisiana Cajun seasoning is … well … a whole hell of a lot of spice. I hope the bartender wrote down that note, because when the guys asked her she wasn’t sure. And I think they regretted ordering the “Louisiana” the moment the first wing touched their lips. I mean, Shane only had three out of the order of 12, if that tells you anything (I know, right?!?) Let that be our public service announcement. You’re welcome.

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted. And he’s been told Flipside is officially off the list.
Drinks: Extensive wine list, decent beer list. Not impressed by the prices. 
Food: 
The pizza was very tasty, and one of the most economical things on the menu at $12.50. I think we got both of our pizzas for the price of Ted’s salmon, but his meal was devoured in half the time.
Service: Good. Nothing special, but our drinks were kept full and the meals arrived promptly, so there’s that.
Overall: OK. Again, probably better for a special occasion or night out than a WTGW visit, but I would definitely go back if nothing else for the pizza.

Next Pick: Shane

One Red Door on Urbanspoon

WTGW 6/4/14: Legend’s Sports Bar, Greene

Our WTGW crew was a man down this week, as Ted was off in the Big Apple for work. Nevertheless, Shane, Amanda and I were still up for the challenge. Full disclosure, Legends lured us in with the pictures of the patio on their website. Because, as we’ve mentioned already, a good patio is high on the list of WTGW priorities this time of year. And this one looked looked particularly enticing, with an abundance of tables, fake palm trees, an outdoor bar and very tiki-bar-esque feel.

However, it looks like we’ll have to come back another time to visit this mystical land of patio awesomeness. Because, unfortunately for us, Wednesday evening was a complete downpour. Yay summer!

(By the way, if any of you questioned my name calling of Mother Nature in the last post, I think you’re getting the idea why I feel that way.)

In any case, we were already there, so we figured we may as well see if the food and drinks were worth making the trip back just to enjoy again in an outdoor setting. The verdict? Maybe.

WAIT FOR IT ...

Let’s start off with the pros:

Legend’s is a sports bar, so their beer list was pretty decent. They had Summer Shandy, so you know Amanda and I were happy. Shane went with the Wednesday $2.99 Long Island special – but only had one since he said it was a little too sweet for his tastes. He then switched to Miller Lite instead. Which I’m sure tasted exactly as it was supposed to.

I'm a little confused on the marketing genius at work here.

I’m a little confused on the marketing genius at work here.

We ordered pretzel bites as an appetizer. Maybe it was just because they were so good we didn’t want to see them end, but it seemed like you didn’t really get a lot of them in the order. Bummer. For our meals, Amanda has the French Dip and I had the Italian Hoagie, both of which were tasty. They were also huge, so we both ended up taking half our sandwiches home with us. Not such a bad deal. I particularly liked the bread my sandwich was served on – I’m fairly certain they don’t bake it fresh there (I mean, it’s not Subway after all. Ha), but it tasted like they did.

There's a salad under all that cheese in the background.

There’s a salad under all that cheese in the background.

Is that ketchup to go?

Is that ketchup to go?

Shane ordered 10 wings, split into five each of the Spicy Bleu Cheese and the Buttery Garlic. Amanda and I were in awe that the guy who usually orders two full meals at these types of places actually expected to be full after 10 wings … but then we discovered it was really  just strategy on his part to basically taste test the two flavors and decide which one he wanted more of. Because asking for a sample is apparently too complicated, but whatevs.

There are wings under that sauce. But no spice.

There are wings under that sauce. But no spice.

In any case, the Buttery Garlic won hands down, and he ordered another 10 just of those. His main complaint about the Spicy Bleu Cheese ones was that while he could clearly pick out the bleu cheese flavor, they seemed to forget the “spice” that makes up the rest of the name. Kind of an important detail. Now I tried one of his Buttery Garlic wings and they didn’t seem to have much taste to me – but Shane thought they were the bomb diggity, so take that as you will.

The servers at Legends are great. The place is one of those where no one seems to have complete ownership over any of the tables, and while one person in particular takes your initial order, other waitresses will refill your drinks if they see you’re low or ask if you need anything else, etc.

Now for the cons:

Let’s just say that this place didn’t have quite the crowd we were expecting for the area and the type of bar the photos seemed to promise online. Maybe it was due to the weather, but the crowd inside the bar that evening seemed more “can’t wait for the annual tractor pull” than “let’s go hang out at the tiki bar.” We were easily some of the youngest people in the bar (other than the servers of course), and we were definitely on the opposite end of the redneck scale, if you know what I mean. Among our favorites in the people watching fun for the evening was the guy with a mullet who also believed that nothing says classy like sporting a Spiderman leather coat, and the long haired, tie-dyed t-shirt wearing guy who we were fairly certain wasn’t aware that his (male) co-worker didn’t share his opinion on “going out for drinks after work” being classified as a date.

Deep thoughts by Legends Bar ...

Deep thoughts by Legends Bar …

I think the concensus was that we need to come back on a weekend evening, when the weather is good, and see if not only this magical patio oasis exists, but also if the crowd is different beyond those open doors. Not that we don’t enjoy some good people watching, but this was a little much for even our tastes. We really, really wanted to like this place – and the food was good, they had decent drink specials, etc – but at least on this visit anyway the atmosphere was more than a little blah.

I think he's in pain

I think he’s in pain

Look less at pirate eye, and more at the mullet guy eating a burger in the background

Look less at pirate eye, and more at the mullet guy eating a burger in the background

I seriously don't know what's wrong with him,

I seriously don’t know what’s wrong with him,

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Decent list of regular and craft beers, as well as other drinks. Shane was not a fan of the long islands that were on special, though.
Food:
Keeping in mind this was a sports bar, the menu was pretty diverse. Other than the ommission of the spice on the spicy bleu cheese wings, we didn’t have any complaints.
Service: Excellent. More than once we had multiple inquieres about whether or not we needed refills or if the table could be cleared around us.
Overall: While the people watching was pretty good and the food decent, I think the prospect of this hidden fabulous patio is what will bring us back.

Next Pick: Ted

WTGW 5/28/14: Pancho & Lefty’s, Stow

Now that it’s summer, one of our big requirements for WTGW spots becomes patio space. Because after all this is Ohio, and you know we only get about 4.25 days of real summer weather … so we have to make the most of them.

However, it seems that Mother Nature is going to make damn sure that none of those days fall on a Wednesday. Because she’s a whore.

So this means that a couple of places I was thinking about for this week’s WTGW got pushed back to later weeks this summer, since it was threatening rain this week and I didn’t want to chance us getting soaked. Pancho & Lefty’s actually has a decent – albeit small – patio space that we could’ve sat on had the weather cleared up. But since the skies were still iffy when we arrived, we decided to play it safe and sit inside. Let it be noted that it didn’t rain during our meal – but I’m certain that if we’d sat outside there would’ve been a downpour as soon as our meals arrived. Because – you guessed it – Mother Nature is a whore.

Anyway.

Pancho & Lefty's, Stow

The place is tiny inside, but it never felt cramped or overly loud. It was more homey than anything else. Maybe that’s because it wasn’t ever super crazy busy, but still. The server was very pleasant and always quick with drinks and chip refills.

Pancho & Lefty’s menu features traditional Mexican fare but also more “American” things like burgers, steaks, salads, wraps, etc. It’s nice to have options. Part of why I picked this place was because I thought that would help Ted – you know, with his dislike of cheese and all. But he ordered a burrito covered in cheese anyway, then proceeded to try and scrape it all off. You’re welcome, Ted.

We asked about drink specials – since Mexican places always seem to have them – and were told they ended at 6. What working person can enjoy a happy hour that ends at 6:00? Hmmm.

Regardless, we were intrigued by the long list of flavored margaritas – many of which we’d never heard of (pineapple? grape? cherry?) – so of course we made it our mission to try as many as possible. We even convinced Ted to break his “I have to be different” rule after his first beer and come to the dark side with us.

3:1. Guess which is Ted's?

3:1. Guess which is Ted’s?

 

Overall among the group we tried the orange dreamsicle, cherry, strawberry banana, watermelon, peach, mango, pineapple and – after a lengthy debate of what it could actually be – blue moon (FYI, it’s blue raspberry, not blue moon beer flavored. I lost that bet.). The orange one had the majority vote until Ted got the pineapple on the last round, and we were all sorry then that we didn’t get that one. Chalk one up for the guy who usually only drinks beer.

Post Memorial Day patriotism ... at a Mexican restaurant

Post Memorial Day patriotism … at a Mexican restaurant

The food at Panchos was good and portions were large. I had the taco salad with shredded chicken, which was mixed with refried beans and spread onto the outer edge of the bowl instead of just dropped by dallop in the middle. I liked that better. But it was frigging huge, so I couldn’t finish it.

Filed under: "trying to be healthy at a Mexican restaurant"

Filed under: “trying to be healthy at a Mexican restaurant”

Amanda had the shredded beef chimichanga, which was good but also way too much food for her to finish. Ted had the aforementioned cheese covered chicken grande burrito. Shane was disappointed that his usual fajita quesidilla wasn’t on the menu, so he asked the server what he would get the most food by ordering … and ended up with a steak grande burrito. I think there was an actual whole steak on the inside. He obviously wasn’t disappointed.

Action shot of Shane digging in

Action shot of Shane digging in

And this was after he scraped the cheese off.

And this was after he scraped the cheese off.

Chips and salsa were plentiful and quickly refilled. Although word of warning, the chips here are covered in some seasoning, which inspired a lengthy discussion among our group as to what exactly it was. The best we could come up with was that it was “like Doritos but different.” Because I’m sure those are professional culinary terms. In any case, the concensus at the table was that the guys liked them, but the girls didn’t. That’s OK, we saved our calories for margaritas.

If tortilla chips and Doritos had a baby, it would be these chips

If tortilla chips and Doritos had a baby, it would be these chips

While it’s a little further of a drive than some of the other Mexican places we’ve been to, I’m sure we’ll visit Pancho & Lefty’s again (which, side note,  Shane kept trying to call the place Lefty Ponchos. I’m not really sure what to do with that.). If nothing else than for the impressive flavored margarita list, and the excellent service. Case in point, you know you’re in a good place when the server 1) agrees to serve as your group photographer, and 2) even has the good sense to take additional photos when she realized Shane was being stupid. I think she got an extra tip just for that.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag ..."

“I pledge allegiance to the flag …”

Really, Shane?

Really, Shane?

Ted kind of looks like he fits into the mural

Ted kind of looks like he fits into the mural

Oh, those weren't non-alcoholic margaritas? Weird.

Oh, those weren’t non-alcoholic margaritas? Weird.

Since it was 8:30 when we left the Mexican place, we decided to stop in at Chelsea’s down the road for one drink on the way back home … where it became evident very quickly that we were clearly not part of the “regular” crowd. Amanda and I also made fools of ourselves waiting for the restroom when there’s more than one stall. That might’ve pointed us out on the non-regular list. We also tried the charging stations at the tables, which would’ve been a nice gesture if they worked. Oh well.

Hello, is this thing working?

Hello, is this thing working?

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph
Drinks: The list of margarita flavors is impressive. And you know that because we even got Ted to give up his beer and try one. Go with the pineapple. Trust us. 
Food: 
Good.Large portions are par for the course at a Mexican restaurant, and Pancho’s didn’t disappoint. My only disappointment was the chips, although the guys raved about them, so I guess you have to try for yourself and give us the verdict in your house.
Service: As I mentioned, any server willing to take extra photos of the group because she realized one of us was being stupid is OK in my book.
Overall: I’m sure we’ll be back – if nothing else to sit on the patio and drink margaritas. Can I bring my own chips?

Next Pick: Amanda

Pancho & Lefty's on Urbanspoon