Friday, August 31, 2012

Bar #8: Red Rose Cafe

I used to see her on a regular basis. We liked to go bowling. She always made me this pop corn that was that addicting combination of slightly stale and a bit extra salty. Then one day she decided I should sing every time I saw her. I was out of there. It's been a few years. It's time to see her again. This week's bar is one of my ex-regular bars. My ex is Bar #8, the Red Rose Cafe, and I think we can be friends.

We ended up meeting up with John and Katie at the Red Rose at 7:25. This is important because the cheap burgers and kitchen in general both ended at 7:30. The burger and fries were fine, I had
 no complaints about them whatsoever. I also need to go back for the deep fried Oreos; I've never had them and I need to. There was no pop corn.

My beer of choice was Dortmunder breaking my Great Lakes seal on this blog. I'm still optimistic that I'll be able to have a different beer at every bar. I like Great Lakes Brewing Company, regardless of what beer I get from them I'm sure it'll be good. Kelly got a Blue Moon. She was mocked by some chick in sweat pants for her “fancy beer” when she asked for an orange with it.

As for ambiance, it looks like a generic dive bar with a skinny yet effective patio in the back. However, what makes the Red Rose Cafe awesome requires some quarters. They have a Pac-Man/Ms Pac-Man/Galaga arcade game. I didn't play it. I will when I go back for my Oreos. What we did play for hours was the best bowling machine I've found in Cuyahoga county. It uses real wooden balls and has a bunch of settings. These includes FLASH-O-MATIC, everything is better when it's made o-matic. It even has a built in drinking game.
 A note of warning. If you bring a bunch of nerdy guys to a bar they will act exactly the same except for one difference. No matter how stupid your logic is, if you are the loudest you must be correct. Luckily, due a genetic advantage I'm always right.

I originally left because of one of the Red Rose Cafe's improvements, karaoke. I think it helped their business but it's not what I want on a normal bar night. Since then, they've added a patio and a kitchen. I approve of the new Red Rose Cafe. You should go eat deep fried Oreos and play bar bowling because you have no excuse not to.

Awesome: Deep Fried Oreos, Bar Bowling

14810 Madison Ave

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In Search of a Wing Man

 A week ago I went for a magical four mile walk and every time I went into a bar they gave me free wings. Yes, I was one of the celebrity judges at this year's Pillars Wing Crawl. Last month I was asked to be one of the celebrity judges and asked for an interview for the Cleveland Scene. 4000 hits on my blog and 26 wings later has lead you to read this blog and me to have indigestion.

I met Lakewood's Colin McEwen at Around the Corner. We planned to make a straight line down Detroit catching all the bars as we go. The only curves on a trip were to pick up the random things Colin left behind at most of the bars. Around the Corner had real good wings, especially their black pepper wings that stood out ahead of most of the wings of the day. They were also able to keep table service going at a reasonable rate too.
Next we made our way to the Harry Buffalo. The service was fast even though the bar was packed. I really liked their wings. They weren't the best or the most original, but I they stood out as wings I'd want to eat again. Their buffalo wings made my top 3.

After our first back track for Colin's voting sheet we went to the Riverwood Cafe. The wings and service were good. We also stole the booth from the principal of Lakewood Highschool. Luckily, we were able to finish our wings before they got theirs and quickly departed. We then quickly came back and picked up Colin's glasses.

Our next stop was Guys Pizza. The service was slow, we didn't get napkins and the batch of wings we got were almost too freezer burnt to eat. I hope, normally the wings and service are good but we were there at the wrong time.
The Booth has been one of my favorite bars that I've gone to during my blog so far. My expectations were high and I had no complaints about their wings. I especially enjoyed their Sriracha wings but I try and put cock (rooster) sauce on any food I can. Service wise the bartender was friendly and helpful and this was the only bar that trusted us to get our own wings (as a good thing.)

Next I went to the Local. I enjoyed both wings and gave them a solid score. I was disappointed that the kickin BBQ wasn't hotter but you can lose points with some people for being too spicy. I did like that my wing experience was enhanced with a fog machine!
Another one of my blogged bars was the Plank Road Tavern. Their moroccan dry rub wing was my favorite taste of the crawl and I will be back for more later. They also had the smallest wings of the crawl, which goes to show that good things can come in small packages.
This was my first time inside of Eddy & Iggy's. We spent an intermission here playing foosball. Word of advise the slim side has a gravity advantage. Also, I'm no good at foosball and lost both matches. We had real good service. The bartender took time to talk to me about their beer even though they were being hammered with crawlers. I really liked their buffalo wing, it held to a much more classic style instead of going for fancy and they hit a home run with it.

Merry Arts' wings tasted good, but their service didn't keep up. It took us a couple minutes to figure out how to get the wings (from the cook.) But since the cook was busy cooking, by the time I got the wings that were sitting out they were cold. I wasn't allowed to grab them on my own because I was informed that “You don't steal from a pimp.” The citric taste of their second wing complemented its cool temperature, honestly.
Jammy Buggers had the best actual wing meat of any of the bars we went to. I gave their buffalo wing my highest rating for that genre. They put a ton of work into their Top Secret Recipe #6 wings and it was really good but it was also a bit nutty and I don't like nutty. It was definitely an improvement over their Top Secret Recipe #5 wings that were a bit squirrelly and mildly triangle.

Last but not least was Deagans as the reigning champs (and as I am late on getting this blog done, the still reigning champs) my expectations were high. They were great. The wings were a high quality, though my batch was a little over cooked. The buffalo wings were the hottest wings of the day, I really liked them. But, even though we were sitting to the right of the taps behind the register we couldn't get anything to drink. After watching 5 different people walk in and immediately get service I decided I would raise my hand because that's what I was taught in school. Colin said he could get someone to wait on us instead. So, he tried his talking to people way and I tried mine. I won. Deagan's second specialty was real good as well.
We then trekked all the way back to our cars at Around the Corner. We wanted to hand our votes to the Pillar people because we didn't feel comfortable giving our votes directly to the bars. We stopped at the Root Cafe on the way back across town. Everybody knew Colin there and they probably have the nicest bathroom in town.

I'd like to thank the 11 bars that made wings for us and the Lakewood Pillars that put all their hard work into making a great Lakewood event. Also, thanks to Shawn Juris who invited me as a celebrity judge! It was a great day and I ate a lot of good wings. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bar #7 Around the Corner

Every bar isn't right for every person. There are bars that specialize in sports, age groups, sexual preferences and even beer. Obviously everyone won't want to go to every bar or at least won't like them all. But Bar #7 doesn't give you that choice. I was going to put it off, the normal crowd is too young and wears too much Axe Body Spray. I instead have been there three times in the last month and it's right Around the Corner.

Around the Corner is a huge bar that's a combination of three bars with two places for live bands and a stage. It's part tavern. It's part dance club. It also has a large patio. They've put a lot of work into making it a nice looking tri-bar. The service is usually good and deals with its crowds well.

The food is good. Get the pizza, it will make you happy. As many of you saw this last weekend their wings are some of the best in town. The black pepper wings can stand up to just about any wing you're going to find.

They have a good enough beer selection. My plastic cup of Yuengling costed $4.50 which would be pricey if they were just a bar. Around the Corner is more of dance club/special events location and they are priced accordingly. Except of course when their event is cheap beer (like I said they have a reason everyone will visit.) That's why you are going to come here; there is always something awesome going on and you'll have great things to eat and drink.

A recap of my adventures:

All Dog's Heaven's Chili Cook Off. There was a lot of good chili. The best was made by an orthodontist that spent 3 days cooking his to perfection. The only down side to the event was that a hand full of the cooks ran out before I got my chili.

2012 Body Paint Fashion Show. On a downside, it started over an hour late and some drunk dude decided that the proper place to watch from was directly behind me with his excited junk pressed up against me (I quickly moved to a new location.) On a upside, there were a bunch of mostly naked painted women walking about and showing off their artist’s work. A friend of mine, Brian of Rockport Woodworks, also got the difficult job of being a judge and had invited me out.

Fireside Concert and Lakewood High School Soccer Fundraiser. The band played a lot of good classic rock and it looked like the fundraiser had a good turnout. Sadly, we didn't win anything. John and Katy had invited some friends out with us including two of John's colleagues from Taiwan. I learned that the dragon eye ball soup I had when I was in Taiwan, that includes rice dough balls that resemble a soft white rubber, is a dessert soup. Hutta means cheers. Also Katie is a vegetable but in a good way.

2012 Pillars Wing Crawl. I was one of the first people in line and it was my first bar of the day. Their black pepper wings exceeded expectation and their service was on the ball.

On those rare days when something isn't going on then the bar is still busy and the dance club is running. I have passed that invisible line where you suddenly realize that this is all sweaty and awkward. In my early 20s I think it was still awkward and sweaty but being younger, drunker and singler let me ignore that. After the Fireside concert and soccer benefit we got to watch the pain of the first people on the dance floor. That time when some brave and/or drunk people break the seal of the empty dance floor and are stuck being on display reminiscent of middle school dances. The girls just jump between barely dancing and the “dancing as if nobody's watching,.” The guys however, are all obviously aware that they are more in the spot light then they want to be. They dance in three ways:
You have your standard slightly move and hope nobody is paying attention.

You have the guys that only move if in direction contact with a woman, like those Pepsi cans that start dancing when the music plays.

Lastly, you have the funny guys, they take over the spot light by dancing poorly but in a funny way. This is usually to hide that if they weren't being funny they would probably still be dancing poorly....I was of the third category.

I have had a good time every time I've been to Around the Corner. If this sounds like the bar for you, then you need to go there. Everyone else, you'll have to go there eventually too and you'll like it.

Awesome: Events, Patio, Dancing, Size, Live Music

18616 Detroit Ave

*Pictures that I didn't take are from Around the Corner's Facebook page.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saturday Celebartion!

Get ready for one of Lakewood's biggest bar event weekends. Every Bar in Lakewood has been invited to four different events this Saturday. There's a wing crawl, a classic car and music show, a pot luck, and a wedding reception (congratulations Steve and Beth!) This should be a great weekend for you to make a dent in our list of all the bars.

First off is the Pillars Wing Crawl. You'll be able to get 4 wings at each of the 11 bars participating. You'll also get to ride around in the shuttles. The cost is $20 presold, you can buy them online or at the partipating bars. You get five bucks off if you are part of the Pillars. The bars are Around the Corner, Avenue Tap House, Midtown Booths, Deagans, Eddy and Iggy's, Harry Buffalo, Jammy Buggars, the Local Bar, Merry Arts, Plank Road Tavern and the Riverwood Cafe. If you buy online you can pick up the passes tomorrow at the Local between 12:30 and 2pm. The crawl will last from 1 pm till 7 pm. Come out and try some of the best chicken wings in Lakewood and vote whose is the best. Drink beer, eat wings, it's the democratic thing to do!

That's not all, Madison Avenue will be rocking all day long as Lakewood throws it's 10th annual Car Kulture Show. The show runs from 10 am till 6pm. You'll get to see plenty of classic cars, including hot rods, vintage race cars and even custom made. There will also be plenty of chopper and bobber style motorcycles. There will be vendors offering everything you can think for the hot rod and cycle enthusiasts. Music will be outdoors for most of the day and move into the Screaming Rooster with the Straight 8s at 3:20. After the show ends you can catch more rock-a-billy playing Straight 8s at 9pm back at the Rooster. The Red Hot Heathens Burlesque Troupe will be performing between their sets. During the day don't forget to stop in the Rooster, Mars Bar and Beer Engine they helped sponsor this fantastic event. Make sure you stop on by, it'll be running before the crawl and it's free!

What's missing from all this awesome? Togas! The Tarrymore Tavern will be having a toga potluck party starting at 1pm on Saturday. Stop on by in your best sheet (maybe not best) and share some food, fun and buy some cheap beer. You are guaranteed to have a good time!

Today's official bar is Around the Corner! Also, don't forget to buy a t-shirt from our shop, they'll be needed for a contest we'll be starting soon. Have a great weekend and go enjoy Lakewood!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Week 6: Plank Road Tavern

There are some bars that always seem to have a new owner and names. Now, I need to decided, should I add the bar to my list with each incarnation or am I just going by address?  If I'm sitting on the same stool drinking the same Coors, does the fact that the name's been scraped off the mirror so many times that its been painted on the wall behind now, mean that it's a different bar? Bar #6 The Plank Road Tavern aka the Riviera aka Panini's says otherwise.

The Plank Road Tavern was the closest bar to my house and that made it an easy decision. Well, that and I couldn't figure out if the original bar I was going to would be open. Upon entering the bar had a wide open woody feel. Their beer list is drawn with chalk on the walls. Their use of plank wood flooring helped match the bar's name. There was even a fake wood fire place mounted to the wall. The most obvious piece of ambiance to the bar was the Irish band that seemed to make the music up as they went (but in a good way.) The staff was friendly, but did split the table service between the cook and the bartender.

The food was great. You get to design your burger with multiple types of meat and many toppings. I went with the chorizo burger that was a really great burger without being overwhelming. The fries were pretty good. They were a kind of hybrid between potato chips and french fries. The beer selection was wide and mainly craft allowing everyone to get a beer they really like.

Luckily, I did walk to the Tavern. I have a genetic tell, that shows when I am drunk. I come from an Italian family. We live up to a hand full of stereotypes. One is my Noni (grandmother) still makes spaghetti for the whole family every Thursday. The next two are apparent during our holidays. One is our love of food which quickly looks like a plague of locusts eating all food in sight. The second is that we are loud. Not all at once, we are like a thunder storm ruling in off the lake. A little uproar here and there and then suddenly (especially if alcohol is present) we are thunder. Part of this is how each speaker is selected; every time a new person talks they are slightly louder. One hour later, we are all happily yelling at the top of our lungs about childhood anarchy, causing any new husbands or girlfriends of cousins visiting our Christmas for the first time to end up in a food coma/shell shock induced fetal position. I am the same way at the bar regardless of competition. A couple hours into the night and I'm talking in at the decibel level of a 747 for no apparent reason and suddenly my wife takes my keys away. Which is fine because I don't believe in DUI and you can't talk your way out of a ticket when you are screaming at the cop at the top of your lungs how you are just tired.

Near the end of my evening I decided to head to the patio to take a picture for the blog and found the other half of the bar. There is a huge patio out back, big enough to play a long distance game of corn hole while having plenty of room for everyone else. In the back was a kickball team that included one the owners/parents of one of my dog school students. It turns out they aren't simply big fans of my classes but also of my blog, as they quickly introduced me to anyone from their team they could drag over to me. They own a 6 month old goldadoodle named Luke that is trying very hard to earn his Canine Good Citizen despite the handicap of also being part Muppet.

The Plank Road Tavern is a comfortable bar with good service, food or beer. It's a great place to meet your friends or other people's without feeling claustrophobic or stuffy. There was nothing to complain about even if I wanted to. Make sure you stop by while the weather's still nice and check out that huge patio in the back.

The final lesson of the evening that my friend John learned was, after me coaxing his drunk self to find out, you can't join an acoustic Irish folk band with an electric base guitar. This week I'll both be attending the VIP grand opening party for Quaker Steak and Lube tonight and I'll be a celebrity judge for the Pillars of Lakewood Wing Crawl this Saturday. Hope to see you all at one or the other!

Awesome: Food, atmosphere, Music, Craft Beer
16719 Detroit Ave
216-221- 5900
*All photos are from Plank Road Tavern's Facebook page as my camera phone fail me.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 5: Tarrymore Inn

One of my earliest fans was actually one of the bars in Lakewood. They continued to support me as the weeks went on; leading me to want to visit them early on my list. I made the decision to visit after I used up my initial reasons of going to the first bars: secret bowling party, a possible shivving, boobs and of course the possibility of a drunken Santa showing up (he didn't). The time had come, on Wednesday Every Bar in Lakewood went to a bar without clever name, a cook or even a website (they have a fairly active Facebook page). Bar # 5 is the Tarrymore Inn and it is awesome.

The first thing you notice when arriving at the Tarrymore Inn is that their parking lot has plenty of space. Upon entering, I was warmly greeted by Cheryl the bar keeper and one of my clients from my daycare, whom I'll refer to as Cookie's Mom. The Inn had your normal assortment of random things, promotional beer items, giant I-Phone, video gambling machines, and dart boards. The beer is cheap. There were two beers on tap one light, one not. I chose to the dark side with my first Genesee. It wasn't bad. It had that slightly bitter old-man beer taste. I approved and drank them all evening. My Genesees were upgraded by being served in glasses straight from the freezer.

Now that we were beered, Cheryl and Cookie's Mom gave us a tour of the bar. First we were brought to the secret free party room. It has additional tvs, seating, dart boards and a unisex bathroom. To get all this for free you just have to get your beverages from the bar.

 We then moved out to the Tarrymore Beer Garden. There are many patios in Lakewood but I believe there is only one oasis like this. There is a variety of different seating and notables in the garden. The patio collects decorations including a hidden Santa, a gnome, even a tomb stone. The Tarrymore has also grown a cover over some of its seating to protect against the sun and rain.

The giant I Pod was actually a combination mp3 playing jukebox and boothless photo booth. We had fun with both.

I won at darts. The boards were in good condition. The darts were nicely weighted. You throw across the width of the bar creating the exciting possibility that if a quiet drunk person stumbled by at the wrong time my stainless steel dart would give them a new orifice. Today's lesson, always look both ways before crossing a bar.

The Tarrymore Inn historically was a mill bar. People would come in during their off time or on their way home and grab a beer and a shot. They and their fellows were tired and just happy to get something cold and relaxing into them. The Inn is still that sort of bar. The patrons of the Inn, come here to get a couple drinks and enjoys each other's company. Also, for the machines and the dart tournaments. All the regulars have nicknames for each other and are friendly to the new people coming in (myself included.)

I met a nice woman named Pat in the Hat. She is the Inn's version of Norm, minus any physical resemblance. She has her stool, that it is unanimously agreed, will be buried with her some day if the occasion arises. But she is nice and welcoming, would never kick a person off of her stool. It is always given up to her regardless. She says she is another brick in the wall, perhaps a brick before there was a wall.

The Tarrymore isn't special because of the building or the beer it carries. The Tarrymore Inn is worth visiting because it's built with the people that visit and work there. Where they know your name, treat you right, and post your birthday on the wall. You'll leave happy, nuff said.

Awesome: Bar Family, Frosted Mugs, Customer Service, Photo Booth, Amazing Patio

13356 Madison Ave