Ripper's Rockhouse
 Akron, Ohio      Date of Visit  09/04/13

We tried to visit the older location of the local metal shrieker Tim “Ripper” Owens labeled Ripper Owens Tap House which had apparently come to some disagreement regarding their lease. We found a room of drunks being served by people who had quickly lost interest in their customers…we left. The new location has changed the name a bit and I thought we should give them a chance at redemption. The place is pretty empty at the off-hour we showed up and we were attended to by a well-tatted bar tender who was all business with a hint of friendly.



Apparently Some Rocking Goes On In The Rockhouse

 The place is dark…both in hue and feel but what would you expect for the crooner of light jazz outfits like Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Charred Walls of the Damned, Iced Earth, Dio Disciples, Hail! and Beyond Fear. The tv’s and the speaker stacks are tuned to the cable head banger music channel which would probably work better in a full dining room but was a little distracting with just the two of us chewing to Metalica’s One.

What we were really here for are the wings. It’s why we went to the old place. The story is, as he traveled the world he indulged in a passion for the chicken appendages, doused in the local goop. The story continues with him collecting the spice and heat profiles from all of these locals and bringing them home to Akron, as well as adding his own. If you eat 12 of all 36 flavors you get a little swag and an invite to a private party. We ended up trying just 6 each of 4 options from the World Tour of Wings and added a couple of sandwiches.


Sounded Like A Good Idea, But Didn't Pan Out

Bloody Mary Tastes Of Bloody Nothing

Screamers Do Bring Some Heat And Nice Vinegar

Ginger, Lime & Sesame Make Outback's The Stand Out Of Our Choices

My enjoyment of the wings varied…I suppose that’s why they have so many different options. We tried the Cheesy Sound Czech, Castle Bran’s Bloody Mary, Ripper’s Scream Machine and Outback in Black.  The cheesy sound Czech (Prague) sounded interesting and delicious but the wings dipped in alfredo sauce mixed with cheddar cheese ended up sort of a soggy mess which cried out for some heat or punch of any kind. Much better in concept than production. The Castle Bran’s Bloody Mary (Transylvania) are wings dipped in Bloody Mary mix, baked and served with bleu cheese stuffed olives. First, 6 wings require more than two olives if they are truly meant to enhance the flavor. The olives were fine, the wings needed them as they were generally bland and lacked the bit of crisp the fryer might have provided. Things did get better then.

We were split of Ripper’s Scream Machine (Akron), described as a blend of pepper and attitude. As a guy who has previously had wings doused with all kinds of hot the spice on these flappers, these surprised me a bit with both the heat and attitude. Obviously studded with crushed red pepper flakes they appeared relatively innocuous. There was some serious vinegar which I enjoyed against the peppery assault of chili flakes. Steph took a bite, her eyes went wide and then got a little wider as the true essence of the pepper became clear. They do scream, if you like more than a touch of heat, you may find yourself hearing Ripper screaming away over thundering drums and distorted guitars. Not bad. The Outback in Black (Australia) was a funky umami mix of ginger, lime and sesame, which was simply scrumptious. Imagine Thai wings hitting all of six buds simultaneously and you have it.


Lotsa Bread On Passable Philly

Hangover Burger Was As Muddled As Morning With A Hangover

The sandwiches were the Judas Priest, That’s a Monster Philly, which was on special and Micha’s Hang-Over burger.  The Philly was big but was predominated by bread and not thinly sliced ribeye. It was functional with cheese and veggies and served with passable chips…I wonder if Priest spent any time at Pat’s or Geno’s or Tony Lukes…they may have but not enough to replicate what they manage in South Philly. The burger was topped with confetti hash browns, bacon and an egg. The menu states it comes on Texas toast but this one came on a pretty standard bun. Again, the concept outpaced the performance. Serviceable components muddied the water more than building a memorable conglomeration of flavor. It’s fine but as far as burgers go, it has a way to go to measure up.

Our second trip to Ripper’s was certainly better than the first. Still, it seems based a little more on the notoriety of the proprietor than the plates overall…we may take a shot at the World Tour of Wings…there are many interesting options…and certainly some of them are outstanding, even if others aren't.




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