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 Day trip to Akron

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Day trip to Akron Tue, 12/25/07 10:56 AM (permalink)
My cousin Johnny is visiting over the holidays, so we decided to make the 1 1/2 hour drive to Akron, Ohio for the day on Sunday.

The first stop was The West Point Market, which is a gourmet grocery store. Inside the store is the wonderful Beside the Point Cafe.

They don't open until 10:00 on Sundays and Johnny and I arrived shortly after. This place always has really good interesting soups. My favorite from past visits is the pumpkin paprika. This time, I went for the sherry mushroom

and Johnny tried the French onion

As expected, both were quite good! For our main meal, I ordered the Cuban sandwich.

Although this isn't as good as ones I've had in Florida, this is still a really good sandwich. They use quality meat and cheese, first-rate bread and hot pickles from Tony Packo's in Toledo, which really elevate the sandwich.
Johnny had the club sandwich, which he also enjoyed.

Another thing I like about the Beside the Point Cafe is the beverages. Their unsweetened ice tea (passionfruit flavored) is the best I have ever had. And even though it is no longer listed as a beverage choice, I love their jet tea smoothies, which they will make if you request. These two are strawberry.

We were both quite happy with our meal, but there was one disappointment. I had been talking up their macaroni & cheese to Johnny, but they were out on the morning of our visit.

Now, it was time to do some shopping in the grocery store. I bought some ham salad and bean casserole from the deli case, a half-gallon of Graeter's black raspberry chip ice cream (this is the closest place I know to where I live that sells Graeter's) and headed for the bakery. The choices in the bakery section are staggering and even though I have been here a half dozen times, I haven't come close to trying everything I have wanted. Here is a pic of just a small section of the choices.

We bought a dozen assorted cookies (which disappeared in no time) and some of their famous killer brownies.

My favorite was the apricot blondie, in the upper left corner.

From here, we headed just a little bit down the street to the original Swenson's location.

The first thing you have to love about this small drive-in chain is that the young guys who take your order actually run to your car. And even though it was raining pretty good while we were here, they were still very friendly as always.

Both Johnny and I went for galley boys, which are double burgers with two special sauces. We both loved our delicious burgers.

Being the big eater of the two, Johnny also got a sloppy joe, which are full of big, meaty flavor.

We split sides of fried zucchini

and onion rings (photo didn't turn out).

This is another place I really like the beverage choices. They have a big selection of malt and milkshake flavors, but since we knew we were getting ice cream at least once later in the day, we decided to skip the shakes. I really like their Californias, which is 1/2 ginger ale and half grape soda. Johnny went for the Florida, which is 1/2 ginger ale and 1/2 Orange soda. Odd sounding, but delicious!
What I wouldn't do to have a Swenson's in my neighborhood!

Next, we headed to Mary Coyle's, which is an old fashioned ice cream and candy store that dates back to 1937. I ate here once before and I really enjoyed my hot fudge sundae. But when we arrived, we found out they don't open until 3:00PM.

Vowing to try and make it back, we headed to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. Since neither one of us are shoppers, we were in and out within a couple of hours. Needing more time before our big meal of the day, I remembered a co-worker telling me about a beautiful old mansion in the Akron area. Thanks to the GPS, we quickly figured out it was Stan Hywet Hall.

Built by the original founder of Goodyear tire, this place is an incredible Tudor mansion. The fact that it was decorated for Christmas made this place even more impressive. Unfortunately, no photos could be taken on the inside, but here are a few from the outside, which fail to show just how immense this place really is.

The tour guide was well informed and did a wonderful job during our 1 1/2 hour tour. After all the walking, we had built up enough of an appetite for our big meal of the day.

More to come.....

    RE: Day trip to Akron Tue, 12/25/07 11:14 AM (permalink)
    Thanks ... Excellent report ... Everything looks great.

      RE: Day trip to Akron Tue, 12/25/07 12:14 PM (permalink)
      Sunday December 23 cont.

      Now with healthy appetites back, we drove to the small city of Barberton, just southwest of Akron. Barberton is famous for their own unique style of chicken, known as Barberton chicken. The originator of this is Belgrade Gardens, so that is where Johnny and I headed.

      I ate here for the first time about two months ago and I knew I would like the place as soon as I saw the sign outside. It read "Congrats Maja and Milos". I figured if people named Maja and Milos are eating here, then this place must be good!

      Belgrade Gardens is a big place and has more of a comfortable family restaurant feel to it. There is a smattering of chicken figurines and paintings around the building, but the entire place isn't decorated with them like some other Roadfood restaurants I have visited.

      Since it was such a cold, windy day, we decided to start with some soups. I had the chicken noodle and Johnny had the chicken dumpling.

      As good as the soups at the other place were, these were clearly better and were the perfect way to start the meal.

      The last time I was here, I ate the Barberton chicken and took home an order of the chicken paprikash to my mother, who raved about it. This time I was determined to get the chicken paprikash myself and it blew me away how good it was.

      Covered in big tasty dumplings, the chicken itself was fall of the bone tender. The sauce was spicier than I was used to in chicken paprikash (the waitress warned us it was hotter than usual today), but it couldn't have been more delicious.

      Johnny was thrilled with his order of chicken and called it the best chicken he has ever had.

      The exterior of the chicken has a reddish brown crust

      and is incredibly moist and juicy when you bite into it. Typically, Johnny much prefers dark meat, since the white meat is usually too dry. But he thought the white meat here was excellent, too.

      The sides at Belgrade Gardens are also worth mentioning. The cole slaw is vinegary (perfect for me, but Johnny prefers a sweet cole slaw) and comes shaped in a tower.

      Johnny really liked his real mashed potatoes and green beans, but the best side is what they call hot sauce.

      This is stewed tomatoes, that are both hot (but not overly hot) and sweet at the same time. This stuff could become seriously addictive!

      On the way out, we picked up an order of the chicken paprikash to take back to my mother. When we walked outside, the weather had turned colder and it had started to lightly snow. Since we still had a nice little drive home, we decided to skip going back to Mary Coyle's. But, still needing some dessert, we headed to Strickland's. This is a small chain of frozen custard stands that started in the Akron area and the Cuyahoga Falls location is open year round.

      They always have vanilla and chocolate along with two flavors of the day. On Sunday, it was butter pecan and one of my favorites, peppermint. So, I had a hot fudge sundae with two scoops of peppermint custard. Johnny had his sundae with one scoop of chocolate and one of vanilla.


      From there, we headed for the turnpike and were home by 7:30.

        • Total Posts: 6695
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        RE: Day trip to Akron Tue, 12/25/07 1:50 PM (permalink)
        I'M STUFFED!
        You take such good pics of your food.
        That close up of the Cuban really made me long for one in Cocoa Beach at Robertos!...
        Being from Miami, I miss a good Cuban sandwich.

        But I got one question, where is the cheese on the French Onion soup?
        And, is that Thousand Island dressing on the club?..
        Everything looks so good, and makes me so hungry...
          mr chips

          • Total Posts: 4715
          • Joined: 2/19/2003
          • Location: portland, OR
          RE: Day trip to Akron Tue, 12/25/07 6:31 PM (permalink)
          Great photos and a great report. I lived in Akron for 4 and half years in the 80's and thought it a wonderful city. Somehow i missed the Belgade which saddens me. Thanks for bringing up memories and I envy you that you are a lot closer to the city than I am.
            ann peeples

            • Total Posts: 8317
            • Joined: 5/21/2006
            • Location: West Allis, Wisconsin
            RE: Day trip to Akron Tue, 12/25/07 7:21 PM (permalink)
            All the pics look wonderful, but especially the food from the Belgrade..thanks for letting us join you!

              • Total Posts: 64
              • Joined: 6/20/2004
              • Location: Wooster, OH
              RE: Day trip to Akron Tue, 12/25/07 9:17 PM (permalink)
              I started reading your story to my husband sitting here (as we don't live too far away) and when I got to the part where you said you were getting ready for your big meal of the day, my husband blurted out "Barberton Chicken!" and as I kept scrolling, I saw he was right!
              He loves the stuff, and esp, the hotsauce (me, not really), but his favorite place is Hopocan Gardens, says it has better hotsauce.
     Nice story and pics!

                RE: Day trip to Akron Wed, 12/26/07 6:18 AM (permalink)
                I thought the same thing about the French Onion soup at Beside the Point Cafe. I am used to seeing the cheese on top. But Johnny really enjoyed his soup, so apparently he didn't miss it too much.

                I also asked Johnny if that was 1,000 island dressing on his club sandwich and he didn't think so. He says it was more spicy than sweet, but he couldn't quite place what it was. Sorry, I couldn't be more help!
                  Earl of Sandwich

                  • Total Posts: 600
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                  • Location: hamilton, OH
                  RE: Day trip to Akron Thu, 12/27/07 7:15 AM (permalink)
                  Wow! What a trip down memory lane for me. I used to love Akron and NE Ohio in general, I don't get up up there with the frequency I used to enjoy. Thanks so much. great photos.

                    • Total Posts: 2835
                    • Joined: 3/14/2003
                    • Location: Fox River Valley, IL
                    RE: Day trip to Akron Thu, 12/27/07 10:50 AM (permalink)
                    Thanks for the great post and photos! This is a part of the country I'm not real familiar with so it was interesting to me. Keep 'em up!

                      • Total Posts: 6317
                      • Joined: 7/6/2006
                      • Location: Live at Saint Clair
                      • Roadfood Insider
                      RE: Day trip to Akron Thu, 12/27/07 5:37 PM (permalink)

                      Another awesome trip, thanks for sharing your journey

                        • Total Posts: 2187
                        • Joined: 5/7/2003
                        • Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
                        RE: Day trip to Akron Thu, 12/27/07 6:06 PM (permalink)
                        Great trip - thanks for inviting us. That chicken looks terrific!

                          • Total Posts: 29
                          • Joined: 8/16/2006
                          • Location: Ft. Worth, TX
                          RE: Day trip to Akron Thu, 12/27/07 10:15 PM (permalink)
                          Wow, what a great report. I've never been to that area, so it was nice for you to share it with us. I would love to try that Barberton Chicken, it looks wonderful!

                            RE: Day trip to Akron Fri, 12/28/07 2:18 PM (permalink)
                            Thanks to annpeeples and everyone else for reading my trip reports and I genuinely appreciate the nice comments.

                            Being a local, I am especially interested in your comments. I did eat at Hopocan Gardens in 2003, but I wasn't particularly impressed. If your husband prefers it, maybe I should give it another try. How does their chicken compare to Belgrade Gardens.

                            I know about White House.....what other places specialize in Barberton chicken?

                              RE: Day trip to Akron Sat, 12/29/07 11:30 AM (permalink)
                              BB - Great photos as always! In the old college days, we would roadtrip every so often to Akron and dine at Swenson's (good to see they are still at it) and Skyway. Is Skyway still around and if my memory is correct, they has a similar menu to Swenson's. Burgers, onion rings and cherry malts seem to stand out in my mind.

                                RE: Day trip to Akron Sat, 12/29/07 5:44 PM (permalink)
                                Where did you go college that Akron was within reasonable driving distance?

                                The Sky-Way Drive in is still there. In fact, I drove past it again today and they were doing a brisk business. I haven't tried it yet, but after reading several on here rave about it, it will be a "must eat" the next time I am in the area.


                                  RE: Day trip to Akron Sat, 12/29/07 6:38 PM (permalink)
                                  My mother's favorite department store is Dillard's and we don't have them in Pittsburgh. The closest one is in Akron. I gave her a gift card to Dillard's for Christmas and she asked me to take her today. So, I was off to Akron again this morning.

                                  After shopping at the Summit Mall, I took her to Belgrade Gardens for lunch. Everything was excellent (I had the Barberton chicken and she had the chicken paprikash, which wasn't nearly as spicy today) and we had a great meal.

                                  And we did visit Mary Coyle for dessert.

                                  This is a nice old fashioned ice cream parlor with a big menu of different flavors and sundaes. She had a small marshmallow sundae with vanilla ice cream

                                  and I had a butterscotch sundae with peppermint chip ice cream.

                                  Yeah, I realize these sundaes don't look that impressive, but trust me.....this is excellent ice cream. I think I like this even better than Strickland's.


                                    • Total Posts: 64
                                    • Joined: 6/20/2004
                                    • Location: Wooster, OH
                                    RE: Day trip to Akron Sat, 12/29/07 9:24 PM (permalink)
                                    Well Buffetbuster, my husband says the Barberton chicken is basically the same at all the places, it is the hot sauce that makes the difference, and his preference for the hot sauce is Hopacan. One other place I can think of not mentioned is Milichi's, not his favorite either. There is a place here in Wooster advertising they are doing Barberton chicken now, he's going to try that real soon.

                                      RE: Day trip to Akron Sun, 12/30/07 11:13 AM (permalink)
                                      Buffetbuster - I attended John Carroll from '73-'77. One of my good friends grew up in Akron and ocasionallly we would come down for some home cooking...and a few burgers. Sky-Way was the family favorite and we would stop by sometimes twice in one day and consume large quantities of burgers, rings, fries, shakes, etc.

                                        RE: Day trip to Akron Sun, 12/30/07 11:25 AM (permalink)
                                        Buffetbuster - BTW - the Cuban is among my top 5 sandwich picks. I am always trying them out and had one yesterday but it was no where near your photo. I had the Cuban at La Teresita near Tampa last April and it was the best in recent memory. To me, the bread is key followed by tender ingredients. If each bite ends up in a chewing contest or a tug of war, it sorta spoils the flavors.

                                          • Total Posts: 3531
                                          • Joined: 5/1/2004
                                          • Location: Egg Harbor Township, NJ
                                          RE: Day trip to Akron Sun, 12/30/07 10:41 PM (permalink)
                                          Now we've got to take a Roadfood trip to Barberton , Ohio!!
                                          What do you say, guys ?!?!!

                                          p.s. Appreciate the close-up pic of the fried chicken.

                                            RE: Day trip to Akron Mon, 12/31/07 7:03 AM (permalink)
                                            I'm with you on the Cubans.....I love them and order them as often as I can. And La Teresita makes probably the best I have had.

                                            For me, the pickles are usually an afterthought, but those hot Tony Packo pickles made the Beside the Point Cafe's Cuban exceptional.

                                            Thanks for the tip on Milichi's. And please report back on how you and your husband like the place in Wooster.

                                              • Total Posts: 6257
                                              • Joined: 3/22/2003
                                              • Location: Gahanna, OH
                                              RE: Day trip to Akron Mon, 12/31/07 12:32 PM (permalink)
                                              Great trip report and luscious photos! Awesome!

                                                • Total Posts: 6317
                                                • Joined: 7/6/2006
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                                                • Roadfood Insider
                                                RE: Day trip to Akron Tue, 01/1/08 5:50 PM (permalink)

                                                WOW what a combo

                                                butterscotch with peppermint ice cream - You have either had this before or wanted to experiment???


                                                  RE: Day trip to Akron Tue, 01/1/08 6:19 PM (permalink)
                                                  Yeah, I know.....a rather odd combination. But, I love peppermint ice cream and you usually can only get it near the holidays, so I try and eat it as much as I can, when I can. And since I tried the hot fudge at Mary Coyle last time, I wanted to try a different topping. By the way, the young man who took our order gave me an odd look. I might have been the first with this combination.

                                                  I know you love banana desserts as much as I do. Does that extend to banana ice cream, too? I bought a half-gallon of their banana ice cream to bring home, but haven't tried it yet. I will let you know how it is.


                                                    RE: Day trip to Akron Sat, 04/12/08 9:03 PM (permalink)
                                                    Since there are so many restaurants in the area I like, I have been looking for a chance to go back to Akron. I finally did today. After seeing that there is a place in the new Roadfood book that I haven't been to before, I made that my first stop.

                                                    In the book, it is called Flury's Sandwich Shop, but the name is now Flury's Cafe.

                                                    I'm so glad I didn't try and eat at PetSnips instead!

                                                    Located in a residential neighborhood in Cuyahoga Falls, this place may be the smallest Roadfood restaurant with interior seating, that I have been to. I think it is even smaller than Kitchen Little in CT.

                                                    Even though I got there just before noon, since the review recommended the pancakes, I went for that. You can order them in all kinds of different varieties and I settled for the pumpkin pancakes.

                                                    On the thin side with a strong pumpkin taste, I especially liked the crusty edges. Delicious! But even better was the sausage.

                                                    I saw on the menu they offered hand dipped milkshakes and I couldn't resist. Here is my banana milkshake:

                                                    Since I had the Roadfood book with me, the others at the counter wanted to know what I was reading and soon the book was getting passed around. The owner Kim had no idea they were in the book and was especially pleased. I had a very enjoyable time talking with everyone else sitting at the counter and the lady next to me even asked if I wanted to photograph her western omelet. I think we all know what the answer to that question is!

                                                    Everyone I talked to was a regular and it is obvious that this place has a devoted local following.

                                                    I will definitely go back, hopefully for lunch next time.

                                                    I also went food shopping at West Point Market and had dinner at Belgrade Gardens. Since I have talked about those places several times before, there is no need to rehash them. But I did like my close-up photo of the skin of my Barberton chicken at Belgrade Gardens, which shows off the crunchy red skin.

                                                      • Total Posts: 4468
                                                      • Joined: 1/17/2006
                                                      • Location: Pittston, PA
                                                      RE: Day trip to Akron Sun, 04/13/08 7:06 PM (permalink)
                                                      Now thats an omelet! Nice and chunky, eggs beaten not whipped.

                                                        RE: Day trip to Akron Mon, 04/14/08 8:13 AM (permalink)
                                                        I agree, that is a fine looking omelet. If the next time I go back it is during breakfast hours, that is what I am going to order. The very nice lady offered me a bite of it and her hashbrowns, but I passed. I had enough food in front of me.

                                                          RE: Day trip to Akron Mon, 07/12/10 2:31 PM (permalink)
                                                          Bringing back an oldie, but a goodie.....

                                                          My original plan for the weekend was a drive to Dayton to visit with several college buddies.  But my car broke down Thursday night and I don't have enough confidence in my old beater car to take a long drive.  So, I switched to plan B, which was an afternoon of eating hot dogs in northern West Virginia with my buddy Mike.  Unfortunately, he woke up Saturday morning not feeling well and begged off.  So, it was on to Plan C!

                                                          It is about 1 1/2 hours for me to get to Akron and I showed up at the recently reviewed New Era Cafe just a few minutes after noon.  Located next to the interstate, this place has been serving Eastern European comfort food since 1937.  As you can tell from the photo,

                                                          this is not their original building.  This looks more like a jewelry store to me and lacks any kind of charm.  While I was there, the waitress showed me photos of the old place, which was a stones throw away and it was easy to tell that it had lots of character. 

                                                          From reading the Stern's review, there was no doubt that I was going to get the chicken paprikash, which the menu described as a 75 year old family recipe.  But, I always check the menu out, just in case there is something else unusual.  When the waitress came over, I asked her what Gibletsad Dumplings were. 

                                                          Turns out, it was a printing error and it was simply giblets and dumplings.  Not even five minutes later, I overheard the waitress being asked the same question by a nearby booth.  They really need to get that fixed!

                                                          My chicken paprikash

                                                          arrived in a shockingly short amount of time.  Like the review states, the juice is very thin and the dish is less hearty than what I am used to.  But, the incredibly tender chicken meat fell right off the bone and the dumplings were wonderful.  The one complaint was that I would have preferred more dumplings.  You do get one side with the dish and I selected the creamy, sweet cole slaw. 

                                                          Instead, I should have chosen the extra dumplings.  I used the thick, soft bread to mop up the extra paprikash juice.

                                                          A slice of the homemade strudel comes with your meal and I took the apple

                                                          over the cheese.  The powdered sugar, the sweet fruit filling and the flaky shell combined into an excellent dessert.

                                                          When I got up to pay and tried to take a photo of the long strudels in the case, the woman volunteered to bring it out for a better photo. 

                                                          She then gave me a tour of the place and told some stories of the restaurant's history.  They are really nice people here.

                                                          New Era Cafe
                                                          10 Massillon Road
                                                          Akron, OH


                                                          In a little less than a half hour, I was walking into my next stop, Kennedy's B.B.Q.

                                                          in Canton.  This local institution has been around since 1922!  The inside

                                                          is very small, but still has room for counter seats, tables and booths.  Looking for natural light, I grabbed the first booth as you enter.  They do have a menu board on the back wall, but there is also a little menu stand

                                                          on each table.  I would have loved to have tried a couple of sandwiches, but knowing I only had room for one, went with the ham.  When I hesitated after she asked me if I wanted the relish, she told me that was definitely the way to go.  Here is the sandwich.

                                                          They really load you up on the meat, which was very juicy and flavorful.  The relish was made of finely shredded cabbage and had a little bit of an extra zing to it. 

                                                          The ham/relish combination made for a really good sandwich.

                                                          They do have signs

                                                          on the wall advertising the local Amish-made Troyer pies and although tempted by the elderberry, I passed.  There were a couple of customers who came in just to order a pound or two of bbq meat to go.

                                                          A man came out of the kitchen and checked on each of the dining customers.  When he got to my table, I told him I recognized him from an internet photo.  His name is Ernie Schott

                                                          and he had just bought Kennedy's B.B.Q. about a year ago.  Since he was the successful owner of Taggart's Ice Cream, a short distance away, he was approached about buying it after the previous owner of Kennedy's passed away and no one else stepped up to keep it going.  The only thing he changed was they are now open longer hours.  He also told me some great stories about all the pro football players and owners he has met, (Canton is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame) although I am still skeptical about the one where Al Davis comes across as a nice person!  We spoke a good 20 mintues before duties pulled him away.  Another really good guy!

                                                          Kennedy's B.B.Q.
                                                          1420 7th Street NW
                                                          Canton, OH

                                                          <message edited by buffetbuster on Mon, 07/12/10 2:41 PM>

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                                                            RE: Day trip to Akron Mon, 07/12/10 2:46 PM (permalink)
                                                            So the relish is like pickled cole slaw?  That sounds yummy.
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