WTGW 3/26/14: Ray’s Place, Kent

This week’s pick is one of those places I’ve always heard the name of – primarily from Kent State alumni or those who frequented the campus – but I really had no idea where it was or anything about it. Truth be told, I think I was expecting Ray’s Place to be more bar and less restaurant – but then again many of the people I’ve had mention the place also graduated some time ago, so maybe over the years it’s changed.

Regardless, Ray’s does have that kind of small town / college bar charm – it’s a bit cramped on the inside, with lots of tables in an area that probably shouldn’t have quite as many, if you know what I mean. But, hey, apparently that means business is booming so good for them.

We did, thank you very much.

We did, thank you very much.

Of course we migrated to a table in the back that was big enough for the four of us plus about four of our friends. But then again we also order a crapload of food for just four people, so it probably pretty much looked like a group of eight was sitting there by the time we got our meals. My bad.

Wednesdays feature Miller Lites on special for $2.75, so of course you know what three of us at the table were drinking. As usual, Ted ordered something different, which I didn’t catch the name of. But it’s good to be back to our “three sames and one of these things is not like the other” ordering pattern.

The other special on Wednesdays is wings, which again just seems like someone made the weekly specials specifically with Shane in mind. He ordered the wings with the “pig rub,” – which sounds disgusting, so he asked about in advance and was told was “sweet and salty.” One wing in, and he was proclaiming them to be in his Top 5, thus dethroning the “amazing” breaded wings from Louie’s last week. He claims he finally sees the error of his ways and really was just craving fried chicken last week, which was why those wings seemed so spectacular. Take that as you will.

A lot of chickens are now wingless because of us.

A lot of chickens are now wingless because of us.

Ted, on the other hand, tried two flavors of wings – the Wasabi and the Caribbean Jerk – and said he honestly wasn’t that impressed with either one. He even left about half a basket or so on the table when we left the place, if that tells you anything (the horror!).

I had the Garlic finger wrap, which is way more awkward to say than anything else. It’s chicken fingers in garlic wing sauce in a garlic wrap with veggies and cheese.  That’s a lot of garlic, folks. It was tasty, but I’m sure I’m gonna regret eating the other half for lunch at the office in a few days and then having to talk to people afterwards. I also had a side order of fries, which were excellent.

No, that's not a burrito.

No, that’s not a burrito.

Amanda had the cuban, which is served on a flatbread and looks oddly like a quesadilla. She said it was delicious. And filling, as she also only ate half of her sandwich. She got the onion rings, too – a small order, which when they arrived looked more like enough to feed the whole table, so we were a little scared what the large order must look like.

And that's not a quesadilla. How do the pictures make it looks like our side of the table went to a Mexican restaurant?

And that’s not a quesadilla. How do the pictures make it looks like our side of the table went to a Mexican restaurant?

On an educational note, we did learn something on this WTGW, after a nice debate over whether or not the Caribbean Jerk wing spice includes ginger. Since Shane apparently is a ginger connoiseur after all the sushi we’ve been enjoying since our trip to Wasabi House many months ago. We even asked one of the guys working, who was nice enough to check in the back to try and settle our bet. The first response from the kitchen was that the seasoning wasn’t labeled, so the results were inconclusive. However, because I guess he must not be able to just let things lie, the guy later came back to say that one of the other cooks looked it up online and ginger *could* be included. He obviously doesn’t know Shane and how much he will continue to gloat about his super skills tastebuds now. Thanks a lot for that one, overachiever.

That may be why we didn’t feel funny going back to the same guy a bit later to ask about the drinks that the guys at the table next to us were drinking – a light beer that foamed up in the glass similar to the way a draft Guinness does. We grabbed Shane’s new spicemaster friend and inquired what they were drinking, and he knew right off the top of his head that it was Boddingtons – and without skipping a beat a passing waitress chimed in “the cream soda of beers.” Impressive teamwork. And we definitely have to remember that one to try down the line somewhere. We tried daring Shane to walk over to the strangers and ask if he could try a sip of theirs … but he claimed he wasn’t drunk enough yet. If not for his 4AM wake up call the next morning, we might’ve just stayed until that milestone was achieved. Maybe.

The boys in a heated discussion about Dexter. Because that's good dinner conversation.

The boys in a heated discussion about Dexter. Because that’s good dinner conversation.

CAPSULE

Picked by: Amanda
Drinks: Seriously impressive beer cooler, similar to the one at Baxter’s in downtown Akron. When I was in college all we knew how to order was Bud Lite vs. Miller Lite, so obviously things have changed.
Food: 
Good, although once again we ate way too much.
Service: Our server wasn’t extremely personable, but the other guy (who was likely an owner or manager) gets points for putting up with all of our questions. Although he lost points for returning to make Shane right about the whole ginger thing. Seriously, do you have any idea how long we’ll have to hear about that now?
Overall: Definitely worth a return visit. Maybe on a Friday or Saturday night when we want to relive our youth and do the college bar crawl afterwards.

Next Pick: Ted

Ray's Place on Urbanspoon

 

WTGW 3/19/14: Louie’s Bar, Akron

It feels good to be back to our regular Wednesdays. Yay!

Here’s pretty much how all of our thoughts about Louie’s Bar have gone in the past:  drive past, mention we should go there sometime but argue that it looks kind of shady from the outside, look it up online and discover they don’t have a website (seriously?) but find instead four million amazingly awesome reviews (well that means something, right?), let that sway you and vow to actually go sometime … and repeat the cycle.

I know, we always seem to be drawn to these types of places, right? I’m not sure what that says about us.

In any case, thankfully we have Where To Go Wednesdays to force us right through the front door of those places we would be too chicken to walk into unless it was our week to pick and we hadn’t had time to really think about what options were out there.

Ha.

Seriously, though, I’m really glad we made it to Louie’s, because it’s another of those hidden gems we’ve overturned on this adventure. It’s a great neighborhood bar – super tiny on the inside, and all of the reviews warned that getting a table can be difficult, but luckily it wasn’t too busy the night we tried it out. We showed up about 7 and snagged the last table (side note, the “Please wait to be seated” sign actually means “Please wait for the waitress to yell over that you can sit at that empty table” – so be prepared when that happens) – but we must have hit the end of the dinner rush, because the place only got emptier as the night went on.

Louie’s specializes in burgers, which somehow Ted missed the memo on before we arrived, and upon hearing that made him switch his original order of the Walleye Sandwich. Smart man.

We all got burgers except Shane, who was playing the role of “the one who orders something different” this time. He got wings, and was almost really, really disappointed when he saw all of our food come out. I thought he might cry. No, not really. Well, maybe.

But then he tried his wings – and if he was crying, suddenly it was tears of joy, because he was so in love with them.  He had six each of the Honey BBQ, Garlic Parm, and Spicy BBQ (p.s. – watch out for that one on the menu, as the spacing looks like you can just order the flavor “spicy” … which Shane tried to do, and the waitress had to ask “spicy what?” Learn from our laughable mistakes.)

Anyway, the wings have some sort of breading on them, which I likened to boneless wings but Amanda said tasted just like the fried chicken from Gioninos that Shane loves so much. This may explain why he proclaimed them the Best Wings He’s Ever Had In His Life. And I’m not exaggerating. He really said that. I mean, we aren’t even talking #1 in a Top 5 list – these went straight to the all time hall of fame. Impressive.

The new love of Shane's life. I've been replaced.

The new love of Shane’s life. I’ve been replaced.

Meanwhile, while the rest of us may not have been elevating our burgers on that kind of a pedestal, we did agree that they were pretty tasty. Amanda had the mushroom burger on a pretzel bun (which is pretty self-explanatory), I had the Mile High (which is basically a mushroom burger with bacon), and Ted had the modified Texas Red (which is a burger smothered in chili – of course he ordered it without cheese and onions – because, well, he’s Ted – but he also added jalepenos). Let’s just say that Ted needed a knife and fork to eat his. I gave up on the bun after a while – not because it wasn’t good, but mainly because I was getting full and wanted to concentrate on the goodness that was burger and bacon. Amanda was so full after half her burger that she traded Shane the other half for three wings, which I think we’re all kind of surprised he gave up, but honestly I think it’s just because he was trying to figure out what the breading was made of. Plus did I mention he got half a burger in return? I seriously don’t know how that man doesn’t weigh 400 lbs.

How exactly do you bite into that?

How exactly do you bite into that?

Pretzel buns make everything better. That just sounds dirty.

Pretzel buns make everything better. That just sounds dirty.

There's a burger under there somewhere. I think.

There’s a burger under there somewhere. I think.

In any case, it was all delicious. And filling. I’m not sure how we didn’t have to be rolled out of the place, and we even stayed for another beer just to let things settle.

Speaking of beer, this is one of those places that sticks to the basics. The fanciest thing on the draft list was Guinness. So of course Ted had that, and we all had Miller Lite.

Service was good. Our waitress was friendly, and quick to refill drinks and take orders. Although there are only like ten tables in the place, and two waitresses were working plus a bartender – so the ratio was kind of in our favor that we would be taken care of. Or maybe just after our last few experiences with slow service I may be a bit easily swayed.

Louie’s definitely just has that cool neighborhood bar feel that you don’t find in chains or a lot of the bigger places. Right down to the old, non-working, non-flat screen (yes, kids, there was a time when those screens were encased in a big box!)  black and white TV in the corner, and all the mirrors one the one wall (which prompted Shane, upon walking in, to ask the group – “Hey, this place isn’t so small. Can we sit over there? Oh, wait …”).

It would only be more impressive if it actually worked.

It would only be more impressive if it actually worked.

We definitely will go back … just maybe we won’t eat for two days beforehand.

Shane trying to impersonate the infamous "turtle" picture from our very first WTGW.

Shane trying to impersonate the infamous “turtle” picture from our very first WTGW.

Still not quite it. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Still not quite it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

CAPSULE

Picked by: Steph
Drinks: Typical small bar list – 4 or 5 drafts, small domestic bottle selection. 
Food:
Seriously, we may not eat again until next Wednesday. Large portions, delicious … what more can you ask for, really?
Service: Good. Despite the “neighborhood bar” atmosphere, we didn’t feel like we were ignored because we we’re regulars.
Overall: While it’s a little too far out of our neighborhood for us to become regulars, and they don’t have a patio so I’m not sure it will be on our summer hot list – but we will definitely be back.

Next Pick: Amanda

Louie's Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

WTGT 3/13/14: Max McQ’s, Akron

In yet another “this is why WTGW was created” pick, this week’s spot is another of those that we’ve driven by 1,500 times, usually on our way to another restaurant/bar that we’ve gone to way more than once, and someone would throw out the “hey, we should go there sometime” line. And then we kept driving.

But not this week.

I’ll be honest that I was more than a little bit suspicious about this place, just given its location in a tucked-away little strip plaza and the somewhat shady looking large sign out front touting specials like $5 pizzas and $3.99 hamburgers. And karaoke. Hmm.

Honestly, Max McQ’s is way bigger on the inside than I expected it to be. It’s a little choppy in it’s layout, but there’s definitely space to move around. While it’s not really billed as a sports bar, there were more than enough TVs in the place for all the different college basketball games that were going on that evening. Side note on that, props to the random guy who later wandered over to us with a remote in his hand and actually asked us before changing the channel on the giant TV above our table. He seemed friendly, but maybe that’s just because we let him turn on whatever game he wanted. But at least he asked nicely first.

Speaking of seeming friendly, I can say the same about our waitress, once we actually saw her long enough to get to know her a little bit. Quite honestly, we almost walked out of Max McQ’s before we even had a chance to try anything on the menu, since it took well over 20 minutes just to get our drinks. And I’m not exaggerating. We started timing her. We also made many jokes about them having Ted’s Guinness special ordered from across the pond and making the vodka for our martinis from scratch in the back room, but that’s neither here nor there at this point in time. Let’s just say that we were quickly losing patience, especially since Amanda and I were trying to get in as many martinis as possible during the 5-8PM happy hour special. Priorities, folks.

Cheap martinis are my favorite kind

Cheap martinis are my favorite kind

But lo and behold, she did finally return, apologizing and explaining to us that apparently not only did no one realize there was a huge Akron/Ohio U basketball game on that night that people might want to watch (hello, how did I – the one who doesn’t even like basketball – know that?), but also a huge 20-person party in the back room. And only two people – her and the bartender – working the floor. Ouch.

So, knowing this, we tried to keep an open mind for the rest of the visit. And by that I mean we basically just grabbed the waitress every time she was in our near vicinity and ordered something, anything, even if we weren’t quite ready for a refill. I will give huge props to the waitress, who rolled with the punches the best she could and kept a sense of humor while running her butt off for the evening – even though I’m sure she probably went in the back room every 15 minutes and punched a wall or downed a beer or did whatever she had to in order to keep her sanity.

Anyway, so as I mentioned we kept ordering things just to stay on the radar, which means I think we basically tried almost all of the martinis on the $5 Thursday special happy hour list. We also kept drinking them long after the 8PM cutoff time for the $5 special price, since we found out that they were normally only $6.50. Or $5.75 if you’re Ted. The winners were the Chocolate and the Dirty Girl Scout (which Ted may or may not have followed up his initial Guinness with, I can’t say for sure). Shane went with mixed drinks, and discovered that they certainly don’t skimp on the alcohol. Although, word to the wise, stay away from the “cheap” rum. Just trust us. 

You're not fooling anyone, Ted

You’re not fooling anyone, Ted

According to Ted, that's the way a real man holds a martini.

According to Ted, that’s the way a real man holds a martini.

Due to the circumstances, we kind of knew we wouldn’t see our dinners for a while – although I will say that our appetizer (nachos) arrived quicker than expected. Maybe they saw the amount of alcohol we were consuming and decided we needed something to tide us over so we weren’t sleeping on the table by the time our real food arrived? Smart people.

They know how to keep us happy

They know how to keep us happy

The food was decent. At first glance the portions didn’t look very big on the plate, but that must’ve just been presentation, because we all were very full by the time we left. Shane and Ted went with burgers. Ted had The Afterburner, which on the menu includes the statement (HOT!!!) after the title – that’s three exclamation points, so you know they mean business. It boasts cajun, extreme buffalo sauce, jalepenos, and – for people other than non-cheese-eating-Ted – pepper jack cheese. He said it was definitely spicy, so I guess it was made properly. Shane had the Goodfella, which means that for the second week in a row he had something with spicy salami on it. There’s still a joke in there somewhere.

It really did come with more than two onion rings. Gotta learn to be quicker with Shane's plate.

It really did come with more than two onion rings. Gotta learn to be quicker with Shane’s plate.

I had the cheese steak, which I was happy with. Just like the one Amanda had at Delanies  few weeks ago, it was made with real steak, not steak-ums or some sort of steak product. Amanda had a sub sandwich, which she kept saying really shouldn’t have taken that long to make – but I’m guessing she was brought down by all of us and our grilled meat. Sorry. 

I like how the martini totally classes this picture up

I like how the martini totally classes this picture up

All in all it was a fun night. The place definitely has a good atmosphere with friendly people, and I’ll admit that even though you can tell it has that “neighborhood-bar-with-locals” feel to it, it was nice to not get stared at like we had the plague as soon as we walked in the front door. I’m glad we got past our initial annoyance with the service enough to at least find out the reason behind the slow orders – because I think we would probably go here again, if nothing else just to give it a fair second chance.

A little something to look forward to from the WTGW group … during our Max McQ’s visit we started working on something we like to call the “Summer Bucket List” – so basically just fun stuff we want to make sure we do in those precious three months or so that we don’t call ourselves complete idiots for choosing to reside in the state of Ohio. Add to that the fact that we’ll be hitting the one year anniversary of WTGW in July – I know, right?!? – and it’s sure to be a fun summer on the horizon. Now if Mother Nature would only stop being a whore and let it finally get here …

The beginning of the Summer Bucket List. To Be Continued ...

The beginning of the Summer Bucket List. To Be Continued …

CAPSULE

Picked by: Shane
Drinks: Good selection of bar drinks and beer. Not the best martinis we’ve ever had, but for $5 you can’t really complain. Although they really need to rethink some of the names. Just sayin. 
Food:
Typical bar fare. Portions don’t look like a lot on the plate, but we all commented that we were full when we left.
Service: We were there on a night when they were definitely understaffed, so we can’t hold that against them. At least the waitress had a sense of humor – and I think if she hadn’t been responsible for a huge party and, well, the rest of the bar area then she actually would’ve been really fun.
Overall: Not bad. The service at first really turned us off, so we may have to try it again just to give it a fair chance without all the other factors.

Next Pick: Steph

MaxMcQ's Sports Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

Flashback Friday 12/27/13: Muskateer’s

That’s right, it’s time for a re-review of the hands down best find we’ve come across in all our WTGW adventures.

So I have to admit I was a tiny bit disappointed that we arrived after dark this time and therefore didn’t get a chance to sample some of the stellar entertainment that we witnessed last time at the motel next door. There weren’t even many cars in the motel parking lot this time around. The holidays must be their off season.

Muskateer’s, on the other hand, was hopping. The parking lot was full, and when we walked in we quickly realized 7:00 was apparently well past the prime time to get a seat in the bar area, because the place was packed. There were still tables in the dining area, though, so we were seated there. Full disclosure: despite the fact that really all that separates the dining area and the bar is some air and a bend in the wall, it makes a huge difference. I think all of us realized that the moment we were seated. It just didn’t have the same “fun” feeling in that area. And it’s not like it’s a whole different world – there are still a million TVs with sports on to watch, the walls are just as jam packed with sports and area memorabilia (again with the Applebee’s School of Interior Restaurant Design), the lighting is just as dim … but the atmosphere is just, well, different.

For one thing, the wait staff for the dining room can’t compare to the bartender we had the last time we were there. Hands down, that guy was just “on” – from knowing the extensive draft list from memory to getting our somewhat convaluded orders straight without writing them down to checking in on us at the right times while still managing the patrons at the bar – he was just all over a great server. With a great attitude. And maybe it’s an unfair comparison, and we’re giving this girl we had on Friday too tall of an order to fill, but she just wasn’t what we were expecting. We knew this from the very beginning, when Ted inquired about the draft list, and she looked puzzled before rattling off about half the number of taps we remember them having the last time we were there. Yikes.

That being said, our return trip to Muskateers did provide one thing for which we may forever be grateful: it introduced us to McKenzie’s Hard Cider. And oh my word, we may never be the same again. Amanda, Shane and I ordered it on a whim – after hearing the words “hard cider” in a sea of “seasonal Christmas Ales” during the list of taps our waitress provided. It turns out that this particular one was their Seasonal Reserve, which is like hard cider with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Or in other words, apple pie in a glass. Or in other words, delicious.

Thank you Muskateer’s.

The rest of the meal was relatively uneventful. Since we were having the same drink, Amanda, Shane and I decided to keep the theme and all ordered the garlic parm wings – which were still as filling and delicious as the last time we were there. Shane also ordered a burger – because of course he did – which was very appropriately named the “Hellofvamess.” And that it was, with pretty much everything they cold find in the kitchen included on it (cheese, two or three varieties – check, bacon – check, cole salw – check, mayo and other condiments – check, sunny side up egg – check). I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone cut a burger into eighths and eat it with a fork, but that’s what my lovely husband did this evening. He’s dainty like that. Ted ordered a burger, which was one of two that had jalepenos and may or may not have been the same one he ordered the last time , but who can tell when you ask them to leave off the cheese? Ha.

All in all, even though this visit wasn’t exactly the glowing “ahh-haa” moment of our first time at Muskateer’s – it didn’t completely revolt us for future visits either. We’ll be back, for sure. I think this may become one of those “staples” where we’ll end up on a random night if we can’t think of anywhere else we want to head out to. Maybe we’ll even become regulars. But I still refuse to go to an after party at the scary motel. No sir.

WTGW 11/27/13: ‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

We’re back!

Sorry for the week off, but it was kind of necessary seeing as Shane and I were celebrating our anniversary last Wednesday. And while we love Amanda and Ted, it seemed a little awkward to invite them along and share a bottle of wine with them for that particular occasion. We actually did go to a couple of new places that evening, and maybe eventually I’ll post about them – although I’m ashamed to admit that we didn’t take one photo throughout the evening, not even of the two of us (I know, us, of all people, right?!) so it might be rather boring. Because that’s a big change from the other posts, I know.

Anyway, let’s move on to this week, which was Ted’s choice. And lucky him to get the night before Thanksgiving, which most of you probably know carries the notorious title of “biggest bar night of the year.” No pressure or anything, Ted.

We may not have visited the busiest places, but we set a new record for the WTGW crew that night : most places visited in one evening. It was kind of like our own little Cuyahoga Falls bar hop … showcasing the least busiest places on the most busy night of the year. Yay us!

Stop #1: The Boulevard
OK, I’ll be honest, I had never even heard of this place before. As we were walking in Ted mentioned that he had been there once before, just for drinks, and in conjunction with a visit to a bar “next door” – a place with no windows or noticeable sign, the name of which still isn’t clear and the entrance to which I still can’t locate, and, after hearing Ted talk about it, seemed to just get shadier as the stories wore on. Thankfully he didn’t suggest we eat there instead.

The Boulevard 11/27/13

Guess which one of these drinks is Ted’s

The Boulevard is one of those places that is just OK. Not a lot as far a beer selection (no Miller Lite on draft? But yet they had Christmas Ale, so Ted was happy), the menu didn’t have an overwhelming amount of options, the service was fine but nothing special. We probably should’ve been tipped off when we googled it and didn’t find an actual website for the place. Really? Hi, 1998 called, they’d like their marketing plan back please.

Three of the four of us ended up with the Fish Special, which was tasty – and during the meal led to a lengthy discussion about what the “secret ingredient” was for the breading. When asked, the waitress obviously couldn’t give up the secret, but could confirm it was NOT Ritz Crackers, nor a breakfast cereal of any kind. That did not help our discussion.

So basically this was one of those places we probably won’t see the inside of again. Unless of course we end up at previously mentioned “bar” next door and need some food to soak up the alcohol with. Or an escape route.

The Boulevard 11/27/13

Shane wishes his burger was a tad bit taller

The Boulevard 11/27/13

The fish dinner with the conversation starting breading

Stop #2: The Red Fox
So after discovering The Boulevard wasn’t exactly the type of place that keeps the party going past the dinner hour, we decided to “see where the night took us” and just start hitting up places on the path from there to (somewhat close to) our house. Being that it was still Ted’s night to pick the place, it was only fitting that he seemed to be the only one throwing out suggestions of places to stop. Well, that, and he had already visited most of them at one point or another (we warned you he would be the most difficult one to keep to that “never been there before” rule, just thanks to being the longest resident of the area).

I don’t expect much from bars located in strip plazas. Especially strip plazas whose other tenants include a Goodwill, dollar store, comedy club and some sort of video or game store (those still exist?). But The Red Fox was surprisingly, um, different inside than what I expected. I can’t really say if that’s different good, or different bad … just different.  The place is huge inside, with two really large bars in the center of the space. On one side there’s a dance floor and DJ area … and then on the other side there’s a whole area of couches, leather chairs, tables and TV screens displaying fake fireplaces. It’s kind of like South Beach meets ski lodge, albeit with a clientele more of the West Virginia persuasion. See why different is the best way I can describe this?

We only stayed for one drink, during which time Ted explained to Amanda and I some of his shenanigans as a former “regular” of the place, while my husband was chatted up by some random woman at the bar – who he later swore we encountered a few months back during a pre-WTGW adventure to a much shadier bar, The Melody Inn.  Yeah, we get around. At some point I heard the works “breast milk” within the context of their conversation, and decided it was best to just stay the hell out of that one. Besides, I think by then we’d discovered the lone guy who was enjoying using every inch of the available dance floor space for his own episode of DancePartyUSA, and that was far more entertaining.

Stop #3: Jimmy Bigg’s
Also known to Shane as: the bar inside the former Arby’s. Ted swears it was an Arthur Treachers, but Shane wasn’t having any part of that discussion. The name of this place will forever be “Old Arby’s” to him. Regardless, let me just

You don’t dare Ted to do something unless you actually want it done.

go on record saying that making a bar out of a former fast-food restaurant location – especially when you do very little to change or otherwise disguise the former interior – is not good. Case in point, we found a stack of booster seats in the corner of the former dining area. You don’t leave props lying around for drunk people to play with. That has to be in a “guide to owning a bar” handbook somewhere.

Another big “don’t” on the list? An open discussion about how the establishment next door was robbed less than an hour prior. And the probability of said robber returning to the area to knock off this place. Hmmm. I think we were all silently willing each other to drink our beers faster.

But Ted swears they have really good burgers there. Although if he picks that place on his next WTGW round we will all certainly veto it. Unless it’s take out. During daylight hours. And he also steals a booster seat.

Stop #4: Domenic’s
Domenic’s was actually the second official WTGW stop when we started this whole crazy journey – long before the blog – as a pick by Shane back in in July because he googled “Wednesday wing nights” and they were, well, somewhere on the list. Unfortunately for him this place became better known as the only place in history where Shane hasn’t finished an order of wings – primarily because we discovered that they heavily batter their wings before frying them, therefore making nice little grease envelopes between the seasoning and the actual meat. I know, how does that not sound tasty, right?

So since that left a bit of a bad taste in our mouths (see what I did there?) we just never quite made it back. Maybe it was because it was nearing closing time and we were quite a few beers in at this point, or maybe because we just had low standards by this point and were charmed by any place where no one spoke of robberies or served us from behind what still obviously looked like a fast food counter, but I think as long as we avoided the wings we would give this place another shot – even if it’s just a drinking establishment.

The Boulevard 11/27/13

Being goofy

The Boulevard 11/27/13

Sometimes we turn out OK

Next Pick: Shane

WTGW 11/13/13: Ripper’s Rock House, Akron

When we heard that one of the former members of the band Judas Priest owns a restaurant in Akron, naturally we were intrigued … as much by the restaurant as the band, because we’ll be the first to admit we could name, um, zero songs that Judas Priest is famous for. OK, maybe Ted might’ve known a few. He’s kind of a wild card like that. Honestly, reading the Wikipedia page just now gave me a “huh” moment when I realized that I think I might actually recognize two songs. Or three. From like 1982.  But apparently the owner of this restaurant wasn’t with the band when they were recorded. Look at that – I learned something today.

Anyway.

Ripper’s Rock House is apparently in a new(er) location, having moved from the building that housed last week’s WTGW adventure, The Grille on Waterloo. And ironically we didn’t realize that until after both choices had been made. It’s like a game of Six Degrees Of Where To Go Wednesdays. When that becomes popular, you can say you heard it here first, kids.

So right away one of the first things I noticed was that I was insanely overdressed for this establishment. “Business casual” are probably two words never uttered by 85% of the regulars in this place. And none of us remembered to wear our chains connecting our wallets to our belt loops. Or anything leather. Dammit!

That’s OK, the place was so dimly lit that maybe no one saw us anyway. Oh, wait, no – scratch that – there was a time when we wished we could hide but couldn’t. More on that in a minute.

So remember last week when we said we were going to stop ordering appetizers because we got so full we couldn’t finish our dinners? Clearly we stuck to that rule.

What, there's only three appetizers there. For four people.

What, there’s only three appetizers there. For four people.

But we justified it by only ordering wings afterwards. Well, and onion rings. Stop laughing.

The boys had to openly discuss their wing choices, as they needed to make sure they both ordered three different flavors each so that they could trade between them. Or try to pawn off the ones they didn’t like in favor of ones that the other seemed to be enjoying. I wasn’t sure at times if they were talking about fantasy football or their meals.

The fine art of wing trading in action

The fine art of wing trading in action

So here’s the deal with the wings – I guess Ole “Rip,” having traveled the world, wanted to bring the best flavors from his adventures back home and into his restaurant – and therefore named each of the wings after a place and type of dish there. Interesting concept. I have to say I wasn’t particularly impressed with mine, which were of the “taco” variety. I know, sounds intriguing, right? Eh. They were edible, but just *meh*. Shane ordered the ones that were about 4th from the top in terms of heat factor, but said they didn’t compare to wings of the same name/spiciness at chain places like BW3. Hmm.

Another interesting thing: the menu. More specifically, the prices. They were all something weird, like a grilled chicken sandwich for $8.16. Or BLT for $8.27. Or 12 wings for $9.36. Huh? Did he just feel like prices that end in the number 5 or 9 get way too much play in menus and wanted to spread the love to 4’s and 2’s and 6’s? Do those numbers actually mean something? If you’re going to take an inside joke outside, you might want to provide some explanation. Just sayin’.

We even asked the waitress, and got this answer: “Yeah, I thought that was weird too. But it’s only my second day, so I haven’t had a chance to ask about it yet.” BTW, this news about it being her second day on the job came after she told Ted that the type of wings he ordered were he absolute favorite and she orders them all the time. Kind of lost some credibility there, honey. Oh, and speaking of lost … we actually lost the waitress later on in the night – as in, she just disappeared, and some other girl started waiting on us instead. So, um, guess your shift is over, have a nice night then? OK.

Regardless, by far the best part of our evening at the Rock House was when we realized Wednesdays are …

KARAOKE NIGHTS.

Because you have not lived until you hear a grown woman with a voice like Lisa Simpson sing heavy metal. It’s like the listening to “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” as performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks. I will never be able to un-hear that. Oh – and sidebar for a moment on that one person: when she wasn’t singing, she was pacing. And headbanging. Or asking random tables of strangers if they want to share an order of fries. Or using our table’s accidental eye contact as a reason to come over and tell a 15 minute story none of us could really hear but we think had something to do with a cheating boyfriend and her current underwear – complete with visual aids. Remember that part I mentioned earlier about wanting to hide from certain people in the dim lighting? Yeah.

Of course she wasn’t the only singer – there was a table of people who were clearly regulars / friends of the DJ, and they covered the karaoke standards like Bon Jovi and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” Although props to the guy who stole MeatLoaf’s look and voice, and performed some eerily similar renditions of his songs. Like close your eyes and think it’s the same thing on the stage similar. Wow. And of course our own table made a contribution, as “Shane Newton” came out of his almost-year-long hiatus to serenade me as always with his ever popular “At a Medium Pace” by Adam Sandler. Yes, I’m serious. Props to my husband for pointing me out before he started singing. I would’ve taken pictures if I hadn’t been so busy intercepting quizzical glances from just about every patron in the bar. Good thing I’m used to that, having heard him sing this well over 50 times in the past five years. It’s hard being married to a celebrity.

This was as close as Amanda was getting to karaoke. Love the action shot of the singer behind her though.

This was as close as Amanda was getting to karaoke. Love the action shot of the singer behind her though.

CAPSULE
Picked by: Amanda
Drink options: Interesting variety of craft beers, although we struck out with more than one that we Ted asked for that they didn’t have in stock. 20 oz Miller Lites were the drink of choice for 3/4 of the table.
Food:  The appetizers definitely upstaged the wings.
Service: Good. Even though our waitress left without telling us, at least she told someone – so we weren’t forgotten entirely.
Overall: The appetizers, idea of trying something on the menu other than wings, and of course the entertainment value of karaoke night may just get us back there again.

Next Pick: The WTGW crew will be on hiatus next week, as Shane and I celebrate our anniversary that evening. However, if we end up out somewhere new, it may just make it to a review here. We’ll return to regularly scheduled programming on 11/27 with Ted’s pick.

Rippers Rock House on Urbanspoon

WTGW 11/6/13: The Grille on Waterloo, Akron

So when you see a place repeatedly advertising on Groupon, it can mean one of two things – either the place is new and they’re trying to get their name out to prospective patrons, or that, well, maybe they should just stick to the alcohol side of things. I kept seeing The Grille on Waterloo in my weekly Groupon email deals, and after checking out their menu online was willing to give them a whirl.

The verdict? We’re honestly not sure.

I gotta admit, the area is even slightly more intimidating than the creepy we’re-not-in-business-but-we-are motel we encountered last week. Especially after Amanda informed us over dinner that there was a high profile shooting a few years back at the Rally’s like two doors down. I know, “high profile” and “Rally’s” really aren’t words that belong in the same sentence, but in some ways that just makes this all the more intriguing. But I digress.

So anyway, right off the bat we realize that all four of us have slightly different menus. Huh. That’s a new marketing concept. Then the waitress comes over and further confuses us, as she starts talking about monthly specials … which were completely different from the monthly specials that were featured in one of the menus. Now I realize we’re in the beginning of the month and all, but being that our table could literally count all of the patrons in the bar without using all eight of our hands, I think they had some time to maybe switch that out.

The food was decent – nothing over the top to rave about, but at least edible (which is more than we can say for some of the places we’ve been to). I’m not sure if we’ve stated this yet or not, but Ted is not a fan of anything that includes cheese – I KNOW, RIGHT? – so this was definitely one of those places where his appetizer choices were limited. We ended up with an array of fried foods, all typical of what you’d consider standard bar food: fried mushrooms, deep fried mac n cheese bites, fried cheese ravioli and a 6-er of the pepper wings. Guess which two of those Ted loved the most, ha.

For dinner the boys both had steak, which apparently comes out cooked the same way regardless of whether you tell the waitress medium rare or well. That’s one way to cut down on erroneous orders, I guess. Although they both agreed that the we-must’ve-drenched-this-in-butter-before-cooking-it garlic bread kind of made them forget about the steak. I had the Grille Burger, which even though it was served standard on my favorite bread of all time (ciabatta), I was so full from the appetizers and beer that I wasn’t able to finish it.  Amanda ordered the Cowboy Burger, and was in the same boat as me. I think we were all in agreement that we need to stop ordering so much food.

And of course focus more on the alcohol.

You can't see through Ted's beers

You can’t see through Ted’s beers

Unlike mine.

Unlike mine.

This was also one of those places that won’t ever get accused of hosting after-hours parties, as they pretty much tried to shove us out the door as soon as we had empty plates in front of us. Seriously, I must’ve missed the 27 other parties waiting impatiently for our particular table, because the waitress couldn’t have been quicker to bring our checks. Now I completely understand it being the end of her shift, and wanting to get the hell out and on the way home … but the bar was still open, correct? There’s still someone about 10 feet away from us perfectly capable of pouring beers and opening bottles? Exactly. And I mean, it was all of 8:30 – it’s not like we were keeping anyone until the wee hours of the morning or anything. But whatevs. Point being, if you have people willing to stay and keep spending money – especially when they’re one of only a handful of people in the whole place – I would welcome that. Call me crazy.

See, don't we look crazy?

See, don’t we look crazy?

It may have been because of that treatment – or, who are we kidding, it was because of the beer (as always) that we started talking about all of the great places we’ve been to over the past nearly 5 months that we’ve been doing this. And of course we discussed that the only downfall to our “new place every week” rule is that we’ve not been able to really get back to some of the places we’ve discovered that are actually pretty awesome. So, we decided to start a new adventure … Flashback Fridays. Because, yes, everything has to have a catchy name. Basically one Friday a month we’re going to head back to one of the top places, as decided by a blind draw.

Ted choosing the winner of Flashback Friday

Ted choosing the winner of Flashback Friday

Each of us throws two names in a hat (or basket, or jar, or whatever might be readily available in whatever establishment we happen to be at at the time) – and the one picked is where we go. We’ll be starting this week, with a trip back to the Hoppin Frog Brewery – place we visited back in August. (check out the photos in the “Places we visited pre-blog” gallery on the home page)

Fingers crossed that it’s as good as we remember it …

CAPSULE
Picked by: Steph
Drink selection:
The place touts themselves in having a ton of beer on tap. They aren’t lying. Although your server may not know what they are.
Food: OK. Typical bar flair, nothing special.
Service: Could use some work.
Overall: Not sure this one will make the “Friday Flashback” selection basket. 

Next pick – Amanda

WTGW 10/30/13: Muskateers, Richfield

If ever there was a place that underscored the premise of Where To Go Wednesdays, it’s Muskateers Bar in Richfield. It’s one of those places everyone seems to know and totally rave about … but then you drive past it and have to do a double take because you’re certain that the unassuming building with no windows positioned next to the skeevy looking must-be-pay-by-the-hour-with-sheets-on-the-windows-as-curtains motel cannot possibly dish up the best burgers and wings in the area.

Does that say Bates Motel? No?

Does that say Bates Motel? No?

Do you use the "good" sheets on the bed or the windows? I'm confused ...

Do you use the “good” sheets on the bed or the windows? I’m confused …

Not that I’m judging, because we totally did that exact same thing. And I’ll admit my image of the place kind of seemed confirmed when, after parking my car, I then spent the next 15 minutes completely entranced with watching a guy mosey over four different times to the dumpster located about 10 steps outside his motel room (did he ask for the end room for that reason? is it more expensive for the “dumpster view?”), each time reaching in and selecting a black, seemingly-not-empty back pack, and carrying it off into his motel room like a bag of groceries. Um, what now? It was like watching my own live episode of CSI. I was just hoping I wasn’t the poor person who gets killed off before the opening song.

But anyway, believe me when I say that even if live-action dumpster diving documentaries don’t intrigue you, if you skip Muskateers just because of what’s next door then YOU’RE. MISSING. OUT. Seriously.

Because, after 4 months of never visiting the same place twice, Muskateers just managed to elevate itself into the coveted position of “place we would gladly visit every single evening.” I wonder how much those rooms next door really rent for?

First of all, the service was fabulous. We sat at a table in the bar area, which meant that the lone bartender was also our server. Sometimes this can be a recipe for disaster, but the young man working that evening as spot on. Not only was he able to rattle off the impressive tap list, he was able to remember our drink and food orders correctly without writing them down, came back often and at the right moments to get our refills, and was pleasant and smiling the whole time. Two thumbs up.

And then the food. Fan-freaking-tastic. Just take a look.

Those are wings underneath all that cheese. Say what?

Those are wings underneath all that cheese. Say what?

A table of appetizers. It's like heaven

A table of appetizers. It’s like heaven

I think we ordered enough food to feed the entire bar – and that was just appetizers. How long can we do this before we all weigh 350 pounds each? Not to mention there was a random pizza sitting out on a table near the bar – which, when we asked our friendly bartender, he said that they put out a couple of pizzas at happy hour, and it’s kind of a free for all until they’re gone. Huh. We didn’t try any of it – because, seriously, have you seen the amount of food we ordered – but it’s nice to know if you get the happy hour munchies and don’t want a full meal, there are options. 

Rueben. Delicious.

Rueben. Delicious.

Ted's expression speaks for itself

Ted’s expression speaks for itself

While Shane enjoyed the food, the decor was more his style

While Shane enjoyed the food, the decor was more his style

We fully intend to come back to this place on another night of the week – or on Browns away game Sundays – to make sure we have the same glowing experience. Hell, we may even become regulars – in which case we’ll have to start a new category on this blog just for all of our evenings there. Muskateers Mondays? It’s got a nice ring to it.

Although if we befriend the dumpster guy from next door and end up getting invited to his holiday party in his motel room please check back here the next week to make sure we make it back for another adventure … 

CAPSULE
Picked by: Shane
Drink selection:
 Impressive. Seriously.
Food: See above.
Service: See above.
Overall: I might not be kidding about that whole living in the motel next door thing. We’ll definitely be back.

Next pick – Steph

Musketeers Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

WTGW 10/9/13: Fisher’s Cafe and Pub, Penninsula

So after a couple of weeks of “classy” establishments, we decided we needed to try something that was more along the lines of a burger & beer joint. Which I guess is kind of just a nicer way to say “dive bar,” but whatever. At first glance Fisher’s Cafe and Pub seemed to fit the bill – notice Exhibit A:

Keepin it classy

Keepin it classy

And also Exhibit B, which shows how us resourceful people used the wine and martini list to fix a table more crooked than Lily and Marshall’s apartment in season three of How I Met Your Mother.

This was really all the wine and mixed drink list was good for

This was really all the wine and mixed drink list was good for

One of the waitresses was also sporting a look that included a combination of New Jersey bump-it and about a gallon of hair gel. I would post the grainy, out-of-focus photo that we tried to take inconspicuously (which I’m sure four people who have been drinking for a few hours TOTALLY pulled off), but I don’t want to incriminate myself lest I end up in that area again. I mean, she was talking to what is probably the one-and-only cop in that tiny village (who was bellied up to the bar drinking what I hope was a milkshake for part of our stay), so clearly she knows people.

Anyway.

Wednesdays at Fisher’s are LobsterFest, which the guys took part in – and clearly Ted enjoyed himself.

WTGW10913 003 WTGW10913 004

The Claw! The Claw!

Shane was less than thrilled, and I think would’ve made a stop at Sheetz on the way home if there had been a way to route us that way without being obvious. As for me, I’m just going to go on the record and say that if you like your chicken sandwiches of the “fresh from the freezer and probably made from the same processed pieces parts as chicken McNuggets” variety, then this is definitely the place for you. But at least the fries were good.

I will say that I’m glad we were seated in the back bar area and not the front “cafe” portion of the establishment – mainly because I don’t think any of us remembered to bring the fake IDs that get us Golden Buckeye discounts so we would fit in with the rest of that crowd. Ousted. And if it had been just a smidge warmer the outdoor bar/patio area looks like it would’ve been a fun spot. We made a note to put it on the list of places for patio drinks next summer … just as long as we remember to leave before any of us get hungry.

You can always tell when we’re more in this for the alcohol than the food, because we end up just taking pictures of ourselves.

Shane thinks he's Barney Stinson

Shane thinks he’s Barney Stinson

We're not as good at posing

We’re not as good at posing

My only wish is that the bump-it waitress would've been walking behind us during this photo shoot

My only wish is that the bump-it waitress would’ve been walking behind us during this photo shoot

Don't let Shane's hand gesture give you the wrong idea about our general impression of this place

Don’t let Shane’s hand gesture give you the wrong idea about our general impression of this place

CAPSULE
Picked by: Steph
Drink selection:
 The basics
Food: No thank you. Not impressed.
Service: Once again, not impressed. Although the entertainment value was better than the actual service.
Overall: I doubt we’ll see the inside of this place again.

Next pick – Amanda