Our last WTGW of 2015 takes us to a place that definitely has potential … with a little work. And by work we really mean workers.
These are the fun ones, my friends.
So, The Mason Jar is located right on one of the main roads in Aurora, and the first thing we noticed is that they need way more parking. Especially since they share a lot with a building that seems to host all sorts of fitness classes – which, can we just talk about that little ploy for a second? Either it’s an unfortunate lease on the side of Mason Jar, or brilliance on the side of the fitness place – because nothing says “yes, let’s go eat huge burgers and heavy appetizers” like seeing people getting fit on the other side of a very large window. Especially during an already precarious time of holiday food shaming.
Thanks, ladies in the window doing Zumba or Jazzercise or whatever the hell it was you were doing. You’re awesome.
So once you avert your eyes, shove down the shame and get inside, the place is actually pretty cute. And by cute I mean it’s got charm, but not a lot of space to show it off. Great decor, definitely potential for a great atmosphere and gathering place … for about 10 of your closest friends anyway. It seems like there are only really a few tables, and especially when groups larger than four come in that really fills up the place in a rather hot second. Like when the party of eight arrived and claimed the only big high top table that would fit all of them … and then a party of two other complete strangers to that group had to try and sit at the two open seats at the end of said big table without seeming like awkward, creepy eavesdroppers.
Although we had to admit by the end of the evening that it was probably a blessing that the place wasn’t bigger or had more tables, since the wait staff seemed severely overwhelmed with just the ones they did have. And here we have our group’s biggest complaint about The Mason Jar … the service is SUPER slow. Like slower than molasses slow. Like slower than a race between one-legged turtles slow.
Like order a drink and wait for it for the next 20 minutes slow. *gasp* THE HORROR!
And let’s not pretend that it took the bartender that long to make the drink because it was super complex, or that everyone in the place rushed the bar with orders, or that it was new bartender day and the person was all Tom Cruise in Cocktail when he first starts bartending and can’t make a martini. OK, part of it was that there was only one bartender, and she also had to serve some of the tables in the place. But honestly, even so, we could’ve walked over and picked the drinks up off the end of the bar, where they were just chilling out for about 15 of those 20 minutes, waiting for our server to notice them and deliver them to the table.
Amanda and Ted were actually the smart ones, ordering beer right from the start. Easier to pour = the server can actually just hang out and wait for the few seconds it takes to get the liquid in the glass. Done.
Shane and I win the idiot awards for the week, as we decided to choose from the “specialty drink menu” (i.e., a nice way of saying “girly drinks”). We both started with Hazy Mojitos. Which, once we received them, were deemed really tasty … and as such, we determined that they were served in way too small of a glass for the amount of time it takes to actually drink them. I mean, we sucked them down in less time than we waited for them to arrive. And then waited for the server to notice the empty glasses and ask if we wanted more.
Looks pretty … until it disappears two seconds later
Meanwhile, Ted had put in and order of Diablo Mussels for an app when we put in our drink orders. Shane and I were going to put in an app order also, but the server ran away before we could make a snap decision on what we wanted. Like literally ran away.
That was the only time she seemed to move quickly with regards to our table all night. Just sayin’.
Needless to say, Ted’s app was pretty much on it’s way to the table before we even got the chance to put our order in for the appetizer portion of Mason Fries. Because that’s helpful.
So anyway, the mussels come out, and they’re served covered in some sort of spicy marinara sauce. OK, interesting. We all agreed we’d never seen that presentation before on that particular dish, but whatever.
Ted, upon trying it: I take that back, it’s a spicy pepper sauce, not marinara.
Well still, it’s different.
I wasn’t particularly crazy about it over the mussels. I think we all agreed that the mussels were good, the sauce was good … but they should be served separately. Like maybe over pasta, that sauce would be fantastic. Or pasta with the mussels de-shelled and mixed in. Or basically any combination that was not how it arrived at our table that evening.
If that was pasta we might’ve been happier
So the specialty at Mason jar is stuffed burgers. And of course that’s what 3/4 of the table got. Amanda had the Greenman (essentially her usual mushroom and swiss – just with the toppings inside the burger instead of on top), Capri for me (fresh mozzerella, spinach and tomato inside), Smokehouse for Shane (BBQ fillings).
Ted, back to his trend of having to be the different one in the group, went with the Jumbalaya. Showoff.
Meanwhile … we’re still waiting for round two on the drinks. Due to the small aforementioned small amount of tasty liquor in tiny glasses that take too long to arrive, Shane and I decided to switch it up – he went with the Long Island, which is on special on Wednesdays for $4.00. I asked if perhaps the Mojito could just be served in a bigger glass – like make it a double and just charge me appropriately? Yeah, no, that can’t happen. Although it took, like, 10 minutes for her to find out. And then there was a debacle about cancelling the order for the Mojito (when really I thought hadn’t actually ordered that drink, I’d asked if it could be made in a bigger glass?) – so Ted just said to leave the drink and charge it to his bill, he would take it. Which still caused confusion about how she was going to change it around to add to his bill.
Really? Is this day one?
Ted, after she left: I don’t even want that drink, I just figured it was easier to keep it somewhere on one of our bills.
We agreed that we would just put it in the center of the table as a “gimme” for whoever finished the next round of drinks first and needed refreshment. Kind of like a twisted form of alcoholic Russian Roulette.
Meanwhile, this exchange occurs:
Server, to Shane, for the third time: What was it you ordered to drink, sweetie?
I had to respond “Long Island” for him for fear that his head would explode if he opened his mouth.
I switched to a Fat Tire beer, because, well, it was just easier. And as I suspected, it arrived to the table long before Shane’s Long Island – which he had ordered long before I did.
Ironically, that drink-that-no-one-wanted-but-Ted-still-kept-on-his-bill-to-help-the-server-not-fall-apart also still came out a full 10 minutes before the Long Island Shane tried ordering three times. Hmm.
Obviously, we have some issues to work out here, ya think?
On to the best part of our visit – our actual meals. Once they actually arrived, that is.
Ted’s jumbalaya was very good. It was served over bowtie pasta instead of rice, which he said was a nice change actually. The peppers in it gave it really good heat. He also liked that it had lots of different meats in it – chicken, shrimp, and sausage. And we all know how the guys in this group revert to caveman status when faced with meat on a plate.
Odd man out. And there’s that pasta we were looking for earlier.
Amanda raved about the seasoning on the burgers, saying that alone put the burger in her “top five.” Ted tried a bit of it and immediately said it was Cajun seasoning. Amanda said she didn’t care what it was, it was good. So there.
You can’t see the seasoning here, but trust us it’s good
Although can we just take a minute to ponder that it’s kind of strange to be raving about what’s ON the burgers instead of what’s IN them … when the restaurant specialty is stuffed burgers? No? Well, whatevs.
I agreed, though, the seasoning was good. And actually much better than the stuffing, at least in my case. I took the burger off of the bun after eating half of it – as I often do, it’s a thing, get over it – and the bunless half kind of dried up and lost it’s stuffing. Huh. I mean, it might’ve just been the particular kind of burger that I chose – fresh mozzerella and spinach don’t exactly like to stay put when not melted, I guess. But anyway.
This looks healthier than it really is
Along that same lines, I was somewhat intrigued by the burger with mac and cheese in the middle. If that has the same issues, there’s something wrong.
Remember that app we ordered – the mason fries? Yeah, well, the kitchen eventually did, too – so we got it pretty much at the same time as our meals. We weren’t really impressed, though. I mean, it seemed like just regular fries with a bit of bacon and scallops on them. And a tiny drizzle of cheese. Underwhelming.
Kind of like regular fries, but different
Hey, guess what? Shane’s drink finally arrived! Yay!
Shane didn’t say much about his burger, other than that it was good. He was too upset about the service to really talk much at that point. Or maybe his mouth was just too dry from going so long without a drink.
Hope those fries aren’t too salty, what with the lack of beverages and all
Ted, after Shane finished his Long Island and was slurping the watery bits at the bottom for some regreshment: Did you want another?
Shane: No, I’d like to get home before midnight.
So all in all – and as if you couldn’t already tell – our main gripe about the place was the service, which was even more underwhelming than the mason fries. The food definitely is good, and the place has strong potential – if they would just have more than one server and one bartender/extremely chatty server working. I mean, come on, let’s be honest here … you’ve read about our shenanigans long enough now to know that we’re drinkers. We would’ve spent way more money here if we would’ve gotten drinks in a timely fashion. How often do we go somewhere and only have one or two rounds of drinks? Exactly. I think we could’ve driven ourselves down to the nearest corner store (hint, there’s not one anywhere remotely close by) and come back with a 12-pack in less time than it took to have one round of our two specialty drinks delivered to the table. I have to believe at the end of every night there are still like four drinks just hanging out at the end of the bar that were made but never quite made it to their rightful owners. Maybe Shane can go back next week and pick up that final Long Island, drive-thru style. That might be the only thing that could redeem this place for him.
Shane, not one for mincing emotions
Same rating, different hand. Just testing.
Picked by: Shane
Drinks: When you finally get them, they’re good. But don’t come thirsty, because the bar is apparently located about a two mile walk away for the amount of time it took to get each drink. And then when you do get your drink, enjoy it slowly. Or order five at once. Your call.
Food: Very good. In fact, the only good thing we took away from this place. But again, don’t come hungry, because nothing is arriving at your table quickly.
Service: If you like repeating your drink order several times and practically chasing down servers to put in appetizer orders then this is the place for you. If you like good service, then best to look elsewhere.
Overall: Yeah, sorry, the service lost this one for us. Can we just show up and make our own food and drinks with the stuff provided? That may be the best way to win us back.
Next Pick: Steph