Who are we?

Sticky

Just a group of friends making the mid-week blues better by trying new out new places to eat and drink every Wednesday. From dive bars to classy establishments and everything in between, we’re not afraid to check it out, take some random photos, and share with you our experiences.

Want to know more about us and how this all started? Read our first post here.

WTGW 8/9/19: Blue Heron Brewpub, Medina

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Thank you social media for the never ending inspiration for WTGW picks. I had seen a friend post about this place – you know, the awesome Instagram or Facebook (or aren’t they really just the same thing anymore?) post, where they’re sitting out on the patio enjoying beer and flatbreads on a perfect evening. And so of course it looked cool.

And so equally of course, you know I mentally bookmarked this as a potential place to visit.

Or maybe I actually physically wrote it down on a real list of possibilities that I keep in my purse. Whatever. I’m a dork like that. But as I’ve explained before, this whole weekly pick thing is no joke. It’s cutthroat out here, kids.

Anyway.

Apparently the Blue Heron used to be the country club or private club or some sort of fancy, schmancy pairing to the houses in the area – houses which you have to pass trying to get to the place, as it’s situated at the very back of a whole neighborhood’s worth of streets, and you definitely get the sense that these folks do well for themselves.

Dive bar this is not.

Unfortunately it was another of the famous Ohio Wednesday nights, in which we have about a 50/50 chance of getting drenched white t-shirt contest style if we hit up a patio, so we opted to stay inside. But we admired the patio area from the window.

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And patted ourselves on the back when the five minute rain shower occurred mere minutes after we got settled into our (indoor) table. Perhaps we have learned something over all these years after all.

I mean, probably not. But sometimes I try to give us the benefit of the doubt.

So Blue Heron is a craft brewery … BUT … they haven’t exactly yet gotten the license to do make their own beer yet. I mean, they’re ready – you can see the room holding the tanks where that will happen eventually – but there’s the whole legality thing and all to contend with. Details.

In the meantime they have a full bar and other local craft beers on tap. And a full kitchen.

Because, obviously. Why else are we here?

WHAT WE ORDERED:

We love Wednesday night specials! Especially when they involve things we like to eat and drink, like beer flights for $5 and half off on wings (which equates to 7 wings for $6 … not the best bargain ever, but, hey, we aren’t super picky … well … OK, nevermind)

The server came over to greet us, and walked away with our drink order and the words “I’ll be right back with your complimentary bowl of pork rinds.”

Well there’s a sentence we don’t hear often. We were all like did she just say “pork rinds?”

Yes, she did. And they were delicious. Keep those coming please.

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Special shout out to our server, she was excellent. She passed our please-make-it-easy-on-us-and-tell-us-what-we-should-order-so-we-don’t-have-to-decide-for-ourselves inquisition with flying colors. When we asked her what was good she gave us several options – including the crab cake sandwich, wings (which she made a point to say that she would personally be ordering for dinner that night) and one of the flatbreads. But then she also took it a step further and told us what she didn’t like on the menu – most of which were due almost exclusively to her not liking olives, but still we appreciate the honesty.

She was also a good sales person. Cassi has barely asked her what she recommended when the words “crab cake sandwich” exited her mouth – which the server didn’t know was the main item in the menu that Cassi had been considering. Her affinity for it was enough to make Cassi’s decision easier than sweating on a 100% humidity day.

So that worked.

She also sold me on the steak tip hoagie after I asked her if it was any good. It wasn’t one of her “top faves” on the menu, but she was still able to give me a variety of reasons why my leaning toward ordering it was a good idea.

Meanwhile the guys took the wings suggestion to heart – well, and the Wednesday night special didn’t hurt either. Shane got an order of the garlic and an order of the Sweet Memphis dry rub, while Ted got garlic butter.

Oh, and Ted also got the sausage sandwich. Because if it can’t be burgers and wings, I guess just anything on a bun along with wings would be sufficient?

Noted.

Hey, you know how usually we have an issue with ordering food and it takes about the length of the movie Titanic to get to us? Yeah, complete opposite here. The food was impressively quick arriving at our table. Like I almost thought they had confused our order for another table’s … except that if one of the other five tables in this place had placed the exact same order as us then we really should be spending time getting to know them because we’re clearly food soulmates.

Also part of this opposite world scenario: for once it seemed like we had not enough food on the table. I mean, usually we have a hard time finding a place for all of the various plates and dishes without moving them to our laps, or are rushing to shove the last crumbs of an appetizer down our throats before the main course plates are set in front of us. But this time … well .. I actually thought to myself as I looked around “is this going to be enough food?”

Although one thing I can tell you we definitely had enough of was carbs. In the bread variety. And not bread in a basket, but bread that our sandwiches came on. Like the ratio of bread to the portion of the sandwich we really wanted to eat (and the reason for which we ordered it) was very, very lopsided.

Personally, I was not a fan of the pretzel bun that the steak hoagie came on. I thought it was too dry, and that honestly it just kind of tasted burnt. But the steak tips were excellent. So naturally I picked those off, along with the peppers, and just left the bread.

Cassi said similar – that her crab cake was good, but that there was just way too much bun. She wished there was more filler to the sandwich to make it a little bigger. Or at least so the meat covers the bread.

And at $16 that not-so-large crab cake was a little expensive for what you got. I mean, unless buns are now on the worldwide shortage listing.

We also both had asparagus – the vegetable of choice for the day – which we liked.

I mean, maybe not $16 liked … but you get the picture.

Shane said he wouldn’t get the wings again. He said he thought they had good flavor, but that they were very dry. There was a lengthy debate about whether or not they might be baked, and not fried – which would lend to that dryness more so than being dipped in oil.

Yes, I know, we discuss all the important topics on Wednesday nights.

But while the wings weren’t top of the list, both Shane and Ted said that they would like to come back and try a burger.

Shocking, I know.

THE VERDICT:

So we were definitely on pointe with our observation on the upscale neighborhood, as evidenced by our check this evening.

If you look at that and think it’s not so bad, keep in mind that the wings and the flights were both on special. Those $8.50 charges are the individual beers that Shane and I had after finishing off our flights.

It would be worth it if we got to keep the cool glass

And, I mean, I’m all for chef’s specialties and upscale meals – it’s to be expected as a pairing to the craft beer, plus we realize life is such that we can’t entirely survive off of $5 burgers and giant pizzas. But considering the amount of actual specialty food you get, the prices did seem a little steep.

Nothing a little adjustment couldn’t fix, but still.

The place has a good atmosphere, a good mix of the neighborhood locals frequenting (many of whom scootered over in their golf carts) and curious folks like us who heard good things and wanted to see what the hype was about.

The service was good – our server was very knowledgeable and fun, something that seems simple but shockingly we’ve hit a wall on that front more times than we like to admit.

I think we all agree that while this visit didn’t exactly knock our socks off, the place definitely had potential. We’d love to go back sometime when we know that Mother Nature isn’t being a giant tease and we could guarantee an evening on the patio without looking like drowned rats. Especially once that in-house beer production finally gets underway.

Just hopefully none of us develop a gluten allergy in the interim.

Picked by: Steph

Next pick: Ted

WTGW 7/31/19: Mark & Philly’s Pizza, Cuyahoga Falls

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Hey, anyone remember the WTGW rules of choosing a place?

No?

Well here they are:

  • Must have food
  • Must have alcohol
  • Must be fun (or at least have potential)

Pretty simple, I know.

But that whole middle rule about alcohol actually leaves quite a few places out of our spectrum, since there are several restaurants in our area that (we’ve heard) have great take out or just a small eat-in area but just don’t cater to alcoholics such as ourselves.

Probably with good reason. But whatevs.

Enter WTGW Take Out Edition! OK, so I just made that up, it wasn’t something we necessarily planned on doing … but when your dog has to have some minor dental surgery on a Wednesday and you go full-out nervous dog mom on the situation after she gets home from the vet, this seems like a good option. Because we all still need to eat (and drink), just minus the guilt of leaving your still-somewhat-drugged-up-and-not-quite-forgiven-you-yet-for-leaving-her-at-her-most-hated-place-on-earth-for-the-day furchild at home in a kennel after a strenuous day.

See also: take notes, because chances are this situation will present itself again. We have three dogs, people.

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The patient. I don’t think we paid extra for the weird wonky stand-up ear.

And bonus: we know that we won’t have to scour coolers or wait for servers to check back 14 times just to tell us that there’s only one White Claw in the entire place and they have no idea what flavor it is.

Score.

Tonight’s take-out pick is Mark & Philly’s Pizza, which is a little family owned pizza/sub/chicken shop here in Cuyahoga Falls. Shane got a little history lesson when he picked up our order (side note, the do also deliver, we just chose to go pick it up, because, well, we were super hungry and didn’t want to take a chance that that option would take longer), as both Mark and Philly were working in the restaurant that evening. He learned that the place has been in business for over 30 years, and that Mark is in the kitchen pretty much every day helping with the cooking while Philly cashes orders out. They have a support staff, of course, but they also seem to pretty much not miss a day of work.

And they’re doing a killer job. There’s a reason why they’ve been a city staple for this many years. We placed our order via phone, and everything we ordered – three pizzas (including two deep dish), an order of fried chicken, two orders of jojo potatoes, and two salads – so, you know, enough to feed about double the amount than were in our house – was all ready in 25 minutes.

Let’s just think back to the sheer number of places recently who hadn’t gotten us so much as an appetizer, much less our entire order, by this point in our dining experience. County Line on $1 burger nights, anyone? The disaster that was Mac’s Cabana? WADSWORTH TAVERN?

Exactly.

I vote Mark and Philly to helm the next restaurant makeover reality show.

WHAT WE ORDERED:

Shane had read online that the Sicilian pizza was the way to go, with pretty much 99.9% amazingly good reviews. So that made his decision easy. He got a small.

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FYI, if you’re unaware – as I was – that Sicilian essentially translates to a type of deep dish pizza, then I’m providing that knowledge to you now. You’re welcome.

Cassi also ordered a large Sicilian for her and Jason to split, and then a side salad with cheese for her.

Mark & Philly's, Cuyahoga Falls

The same, just bigger. 

Meanwhile, Ted opted against the deep dish and just went for a regular pizza with pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms. He got a large, because, well, why not.

It made Shane’s look like a baby pizza.

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Yes, this establishment also serves Truly. Carry on. 

But what you don’t see in that picture is the sheer depth of the Sicilian versus Ted’s regular pizza. The Sicilian is like a true PIE – so crust, then toppings and cheese, then another crust, then more cheese.

Translation: Ted chose wisely for himself.

On the non-pizza side of the table, I got the two chicken breast dinner, which comes with a breadstick and two sides – I chose Jojo’s and a side salad with cheese.

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AND THE VERDICT IS:

Thumbs up all around. The Sicilian stole the show, with everyone who ordered it (or, even, in my case, tried a bite of it) voting it a top favorite.

In fact, Shane went so far as to claim that he had a new favorite. Like after pretty much one bite he was ready to de-throne his previous regional fave, Farinaccis. As was Cassi to Tim’s Pizzeria.

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Shane eventually revised his statement to claim that he still liked both pizzas, but for different reasons.

Still, that’s high praise, coming from the pizza guru himself.

I was a fan of my non-pizza meal also. The chicken was good and hot, and the jojos – while not entirely my favorite out of every place I’ve had them – were still tasty. I ended up putting half the meal away for another time.

And even the price wasn’t too bad, considering all we got. Around $65 for the whole order, which really isn’t awful considering we’ve paid way more than that for just two of us on some weeks.

And to be perfectly honest, those Sicilian pizzas are worth every penny. I mean there’s probably $20 worth of cheese on those alone.

I can almost hear Ted gagging while reading that sentence.

Next pick: Steph

WTGW 7/24/19: El Tren Mexican Restaurant, Tallmadge

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This week’s adventure begs the question: if there’s a national holiday for a beverage but yet the place you’re eating at doesn’t offer a special on it, is it really a holiday?

Technically El Tren is a revisit for 3/5 of this group, but let’s take a moment to break down the numbers: two of us have never been here before at all, three of us have been before but it was when the place was called Nuevo Acapulco (we think? there was some issue on that visit discerning exactly what website was used to find this magical place that supposedly had towers of margaritas but then no one knew what the hell we were talking about when we inquired about them), and out of those three, two have been back since it changed over to El Tren.

Confused yet?

Admittedly the two of us who had returned after the name change didn’t have the best luck, but we pretty much just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best this time around.

Because … National Tequila Day. And it was nice enough to sit on the patio.

So in the broad spectrum I guess we can consider this a win? I mean, even though … well … I’ll let you decide.

The What (we ordered)

So as I mentioned, it’s National Tequila Day, which means it’s just a tad sacrilegious to choose anything other than Mexican food, no? I mean even Ted gets a margarita on this holy day.

We’ll take all the tequila, please

Meanwhile Shane gets a rum and coke. OK.

For meals, we can break this down again into fractions, as 3/5 of the table chose the fajita quesadilla. Shane and Jason opted for steak, while Cassi chose chicken.

There seems to be a lot of math so far this week. Sorry about that. I’ll just leave you with one more little equation: 0% of those who ordered this dish got what they were expecting once the meals came out.

Like, what is that? Did they hear “appetizer quesadilla” and not “fajita quesadilla”? That looks like something you order at Applebee’s. I mean, being married to Shane for as long as I have been now, I can attest that this dish is his go-to order at any Mexican restaurant. And never once has it looked like this.

Except, well, the last time we came here. Oops. Shane said he forgot about that until the plate arrived in front of him. Like “hey what was that place that serves the child-sized portion of fajita quesadilla? Oh, right, this place.”

I got the chicken fajitas. Not the fajita quesadilla, just the regular fajitas. Otherwise known as that dish that gets delivered to the table basically still cooking on the plate so pretty much the entire restaurant can hear, see and smell it arriving at the correct table.

FYI, that didn’t happen here. But, you know, by the end of the evening that wasn’t exactly a shocker to us, since we were kind of just impressed that we got food of some kind brought out.

More on that later.

The chicken fajitas were ok – there was a lot of chicken with the onions and peppers – but it was a touch on the dry side. I eventually got some extra salsa to help with that, but let’s just say I was too hungry to wait as long as I would’ve needed to if I wanted it for the whole meal.

And then there Ted, getting some type of burrito.  I missed the name of the dish because I was paying too much attention to the special inquisition he was involved in with the server regarding the type of sauce inside the burrito and the possibility of it being cheese-based. Here the server was trying to educate Ted on the level of spiciness involved with the sauce, when really all he truly cared about was “is it made of cheese?”

That’s right, around Ted things can be spicy to the 1000th degree (habenero peppers, anyone?), just for the love of God don’t let it be made with or include any sort of cheese products.

Ted said his burrito was also really dry. And the sauce definitely had cheese in it. So that worked out well for him.

He also thought his meal should’ve come with rice and beans on the side. Because doesn’t pretty much every meal at a Mexican restaurant? Frankly I think we were shorted like three plates of rice and beans, but, again, at some point we just all agreed I think to be happy we were served anything with the rate at which we both saw our server and had things we ordered or asked for brought out to us.

Shane and I also ordered the tableside guacamole, because we remembered that being like the one thing that went well on any of our previous visits to this place. And I will say that once again, that was the best part of the meal. I mean, on one hand, for $9.95 it better be. But who can really complain when it’s made fresh next to your table and it comes in one of these awesome and much heavier than you think it would be bowls?

Cassi and Jason got the churry queso. I think in part to taunt Ted after the great cheese inquisition of 2019 during our orders. Because we all know that the one thing Ted loves more than asking to not have it placed anywhere near his meal is to sit at a table next to a vat of gooey, melted cheese, right?

Ironically, after these appetizers arrived, and after we asked twice, it still took a hot minute to get a few more baskets of chips. Because there’s only five of us at the table and two apps that require chips to be consumed. But sure.

The Who (we saw)

We have to admit we were shocked to arrive and find the patio surprisingly empty. Especially considering it was a beautiful night. And they do have a pretty great space outside. And, did we mention tequila holiday?

I’m going to attribute this to everyone else hearing of a tequila special we didn’t and going there instead. Dammit. Next time shoot us an invitation. I mean, why else do you think we joined social media after all these years?

(shameless plug, find us on Instagram @wheretogowednesdays and on Twitter @where_wednesday)

But at least it made for a nice quiet evening on the patio for us. Oh wait, until the gang of children started running around the patio full tilt. So it doubles as a playground, I guess? Good to know.

Because children running uncontrolled in places where adults are consuming alcohol seems like a splendid plan. I can’t imagine any possible scenario where that might be an issue.

For those of us who have visited El Tren before, our main complaint in the past has been the service. Hey, guess what? That hasn’t changed. Hats off to management for keeping stability in the lousiest of arenas. Kudos.

Drinks take approximately six hours each to arrive, so I can only assume they charter a plane and make a quick trip to Mexico to grab that tequila fresh each time someone orders something from the bar.

And then there was this fun little sitcom that took place with my order … so when meals arrived I was served a plate of chicken and peppers/onions, with no rice, beans or fajitas. Not really what I was expecting, but sure I’m trying to be a bit healthier here so thanks for reading my mind, not trusting me on my own and just removing the carbs from my field of vision.

But then about 10 minutes later some guy who wasn’t our server arrived with a package of fajitas to hand to me. Not wanting to be wasteful, I said thanks anyway but actually I’ll skip the fajitas, and can you just bring over some more salsa instead? He said sure … and then disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of the restaurant, never to be seen again. Maybe he got called oto that Mexico charter for more tequila? Who knows.

So like 15 minutes later when our server finally made her way over to ask how things were, I asked again about some extra salsa. And that ask put me on the receiving end of not one, but two extra bowls of salsa … and another attempt at being delivered a package of fajitas.

Perhaps what we have is a lapse in communication. And they really, really wanted me to have those damn fajitas after all.

But the worst of it happened even later, when the server committed the epic fail for our group: trying to bring us our bills without asking if we needed anything else and just assuming we were ready to go. Because nothing says “I’ve loved taking care of you, please tip me kindly” like shoving customers out the door.

So we ordered another round just because. And the server was clearly annoyed. But the joke was on her because it took about 20 minutes to get that last round (fill up the plane, boys, we’ve got another round of drinks to get!), during which time all we did was calculate the ways her tip was getting smaller, while she still had to keep coming out to check on us.

Good times.

Ted thinks it all went downhill when we forgot to tip the guacamole guy. I think that may be solid logic.

The How (much we paid)

So, yeah, this was an expensive one, kids. Almost $90 for two people. Hey $5 burger specials from a week ago, we really, really miss you. Now granted about $40 of this week’s tab was alcohol … so, um, what was I saying about no tequila specials?

Also our server, in all her helpfulness to get us our bills promptly before we’d asked for them and essentially shove us out the door, of course got the bills all messed up. Seems the queen of assumptions, in her haste to be rid of us, thought she should split split the guacamole amongst the table, when it was clearly Shane and I who had ordered it and wasn’t about to subject the cost to the rest of the group. So we had her change that, but then when we got the bill back after that we also had Cassi and Jason’s meals instead of our own, plus their app. So they paid for one fajita quesadilla and my chicken fajitas instead of two fajita quesadillas, but we got two fajita quesadillas and both apps.

But our alcohol was right, so I guess that counts for something? I mean, usually that’s the part where people get confused, just because of the sheer amount that gets ordered.

What was I saying about the math portion of this post being finished? Oops.

The Why (they probably won’t see us again)

Well, I mean, unless we’re desperate. Or once again forget our past experiences. This one pretty much got an “eh” all around from our group. Well, except Jason, whose thumbs up makes me think perhaps he either wandered off to join another group for a while or maybe his drinks were made with the extra special tequila shipment.

I will admit that the patio atmosphere was perhaps worth the price of admission … or maybe at least the price of the guac and a couple of rounds of drinks. But then factor in the great invasion of the children and the amazingly awful service, and, well, let’s just say it would need to be a perfect storm of being on that side of town, not being very hungry and just wanting to sit on a patio that may or not be peaceful for us to actually consider going back there.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick:  Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph

WTGW 7/17/19: Old Stone Jail, Norton

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THE WHERE (we went)

Remember my last pick, when I mentioned that Jimmy’s was chosen solely on the need to be out on a patio that evening? Yeah, well … this was the place that got edged out.

The plus side of that deal is that at least we got to experience Jimmy’s – and drool over Ted’s delicious giant burger – before it closed forever. But the crap side is that Shane will gloat about the Old Stone Jail being his awesome pick for about the next 47 years.

Such is life in the WTGW crew, kids. It’s pretty cutthroat.

To be fair, the Old Stone Jail does have a patio, but I think it’s about the size of my bathroom. Because eating in tiny, enclosed spaces makes everyone happy, right?

It must, because the inside of the place really isn’t much bigger. Like were talking about as many tables as Wadsworth Tavern, of both the pool and the seating variety. So once again we ended up seated at the bar.  Three cheers for easy access!

Plus Ted realized early on that his seat included a view of the cook making fresh cut French fries in the kitchen – county fair trailer style – so score one for free entertainment. And yes, sometimes we are just that easily amused.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

When there’s an obvious sign advertising Truly and White Claw then Cassi and I know that already things are looking good for a win this evening. And not like the “yes the servers are all wearing the t-shirts but that doesn’t mean we actually have any left in stock” debacle that was our evening at Pick’s.

Heaven in a can

Also, places offering burger specials on Wednesdays are like the new Taco Tuesday. I’ll give $1.00 to the first marketing genius who can come up with the tagline that ties “burger” and “Wednesday” cleverly into one catchy slogan.

Go on, I’ll wait.

In the meantime, we’ll just be over here enjoying a myriad of $5 burger and fry combo deals.

Which is exactly what Shane, Cassi and Jason all did on this fine evening.

Because all of the wing flavors sounded freaking delicious – think lots of things involving bourbon, peppers, chipotle and siracha, because nothing bad ever comes from flavors with those elements, right? – Shane also got six of the Maple Bourbon dry rub wings.

Ted also got wings – the Xtra Hot flavor – and one of the specialty burgers that weren’t part of the $5 deal, but included fun toppings so seemed to be worth the extra $2.50. Ted opted for the Breakfast Burger, which I’m sure if I gave you three guesses you could correctly identify all of the toppings included in order to deserve that name.

You’re smart people. I know.

I got the Warden burger – also not on special, but sounded less threatening than the Death Row burger or the Shake Down burger – but unlike Ted’s burger wasn’t as obvious in the naming rights. The Warden is apparently fond of the bacon cheeseburgers, though, because this burger was exactly that – bacon and Swiss – with an extra bonus of mushrooms. Score.

If you’re thinking that burger looks awful lonely on that plate, that’s because I was the only one in the group to skip the fries in favor of a side salad. Early warning, we just booked a beach vacation for early September, so I’m going to be serving as your health food poster child for a bit. Well, I mean, kind of. Because I was still eating a giant burger.

Balance.

Everyone who got the burger special said that the burger was a little over cooked, but that it was still good overall so they were willing to overlook that little misstep. Which, if any of you remember Shane’s bout of testing all burgers to the n-th degree of cooked medium rare from a few years back, will know that’s actually high praise on the flavor of the patties and the seasonings used.

My burger seemed to be cooked a little less well done – think true medium in most places – so my guess would be that maybe the non-special burgers are a little thicker than the patties that they make for the $5 Wednesday specials? But regardless it had really good flavor. And the bacon was real, so there’s always that.

It’s sad that I now have to make sure to note that, no? #saynotofacon #cantfoolmetwice

Ted preferred the wings over his burger. He said it’s been a while since he’s had an order of good hot wings. No specialty flavor, no dry rub, just a good, hot sauce. Maybe not “xtra” hot like the menu promised – at least to Ted’s “I can eat a habenero and not be affected” taste buds – but still very good.

Remember those fries that Ted was entralled with watching the cook prepare? Yeah, well, according to the rest of the group, apparently it would’ve been worth whatever extra cash we would’ve had to pay by holding off a week on booking that beach trip, just to have the opportunity to try those instead of a salad. To quote Cassi, “if I’m going to kill calories on French fries, these are exactly what I would want them to taste like.”

There’s always next time?

Or, for all of your sake, just don’t be Steph. Get the damn fries.

Cassi and Jason has also ordered breaded mushrooms, but when they hadn’t arrived in front of us by the time the rest of the food had been served up, they finally asked the bartender about them … who admitted that she totally forgot to put the order in. And then she pushed the order to the front of the line, ahead of everyone else who had orders in after our group. And then when they came up she said she wouldn’t charge them for the order.

Now, friends, that’s what I call good customer service. I mean, is it really so hard?

THE WHO (we saw)

Aside from our friend the good bartender – who was the only person working out on the floor or behind the bar to serve up both food and drinks – there was just one equally as overworked person in the kitchen. I mean, we’ve already covered the point that it’s a small place, so I do get it. But between the Wednesday burger special, and a group like the five of us who show up together and like to eat as if the world will run out of food tomorrow – well, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a quick turnaround on the food-to-table process. And you know how much we love it when food arrives in stages. But in this case we kind of couldn’t fault the staff. Especially when we even heard the bartender tell the cook at one point that she really thought it was time to think about getting someone else to help in the kitchen on nights when they have specials like this. So, yeah, we get it.

Although, which nights do you pick when there seems to be a special on all of them?

Also, there seemed to be about 15 more cars (or, check that, trucks) in the parking lot than there were people in the place. So either there was a big party going on in the back of the kitchen, or no one here knows the meaning of the word carpool. Or maybe the entire city of Norton parks here and gets bused to their homes after dinner. Whatevs.

And special shout out to the poor group who were unlucky enough to have chosen the table directly in front of the photo op wall to try and have a nice meal, when we interrupted and asked if they would mind taking our photo.  I have to believe they truly had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to be a partner in crime (see what I did there?) to that process.

Let’s just say that this photo is the only one I feel comfortable publishing in a public forum.

But you’re welcome for the laughs. I’m sure they lasted well into the time after the door hit our group in the ass on the way out.

THE HOW (much we paid)

Well that was cheap. Except for the $4 Trulys, the rest of the bill was super reasonable.

Our bill

Cassi and Jason’s bill

But to be honest, the menu really does have decent prices. Most apps are $3-$6. Wraps and basic sandwiches are $4.75, or $6.25 with a side of chips or fries, and some of the heartier sandwiches like philly cheesteaks or grilled chicken with bacon and ranch were $7.75, including fries.

The wings were the only things that seemed to be a little bit expensive, as an order of six was $7, or an order of 12 for $13. But I guess be sure to stop in on Thursdays, when they’re only 50 cents each.

THE WHY (they will likely see us again)

This was definitely a fun little neighborhood dive bar. We didn’t get treated like outsiders when we walked in, despite the fact that you could tell this was definitely a Cheers-esque “everyone knows your name” kind of place. And the table we asked to be our photographers didn’t throw drinks at us and make us climb over their table to get a silly photo, so that’s a plus. I’m not sure if we could really ever use this one as a patio revisit pick – especially considering now that we know how understaffed they are on a busy night, and that we would likely have to go in and pretty much pick up the orders from the bar ourselves if we ever wanted to eat. But the wait for the fries alone might be worth it. Just so long as we schedule that visit well out of the time frame of any fantasies any of us have about eating somewhat healthy, ‘k?

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 7/3/19: REVISIT – Jojo’s Sports Grille, Medina

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THE WHERE (we went)

So riddle me this: is it really a revisit if the person who picked it said they didn’t remember going there?

Our last time at Jojo’s Sports Grille was back in July of 2014 – which, sidebar, anyone else completely amazed that that was FIVE WHOLE YEARS ago already? I mean, WTH, universe – but it was also before we devised our revolutionary thumbs up/down rating system, so I mean, really how do we even remember what we thought of a place without that?

Exactly.

But honestly, it seems like Jojo’s really hasn’t changed much over the past half decade. They’re still in the same building, just away from the square in downtown Medina. And still connected – and by connected I mean sharing the building with – Domenics Italian Restaurant. So I guess that relationship is still going strong,

Jojo’s has a patio – but being that it was a nice evening in early summer, it’s no surprise that we weren’t able to find an open table for four. Or one, even. Guess this is the place to be, Medina.

The place is also still seat yourself – which I don’t remember working out so well for us the last time we visited, so I’m super excited they still haven’t found a better way of doing things. Because that fun walk of shame with a group of four people through the bar onto the patio, making a large circle and then retracing your steps back again will never be awkward.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

It’s too bad we didn’t take a hot second to look at the beer taps or coolers when we did our patio walk through, because our server wasn’t super up to speed on what was available. She was slightly knowledgeable with the beer options, so Ted was quick to choose the Truth on tap – although to be fair I think it was Cassi that had actually spotted that handle on our little walk. And Shane opted for a Bud Light – because, well, that’s usually a given that most places will have that on tap.

So maybe I’m actually giving the server a little too much unwarranted credit.

I chose Summer Shandy after learning the only cider option was Angry Orchard, which is essentially the PBR of ciders. No thanks. But then Cassi asked about White Claw or Truly, and was told they have both – specifically the Mango WC and the Berry Truly – so I changed my answer.

Just kidding. Our server returns to our table a little bit later with the beer for the guys, and one raspberry White Claw. Which is 1) neither of the flavors that she had said previously she was certain they had, and 2) one can less than what we ordered. Hmm.

I mean, if this is the last one left in the whole building just tell us straight up because we’ve found ourselves in this situation before and it’s not entirely pleasant.

She says they do have more, but she isn’t sure what flavors. Because, although you know we had specifically asked you about what was available, apparently you just closed your eyes and grabbed up a can at random out of the cooler? Did someone hand it to you relay race style as you passed by the bar and screamed “give me a hard sparkling water, stat!”

Doubtful.

Regardless, we told her to surprise us. It’s like Russian Roulette with alcoholic beverages. Live dangerously.

So there’s at least two flavors back there

Cool.

Another thing we remembered from our last visit was that Jojo’s had a very large and diverse menu. And that definitely hasn’t changed at all.

Shane looked up the old post, and the photos of the pizzas were enough to make his ordering decision on this visit slightly easier. The only debate he had was the eternal choice in toppings or specialty pizza. He was leaning toward the NY Style simply for the fact that it was a larger pizza, but then once he would’ve added literally ALL THE TOPPINGS it would’ve been about as much for his pizza as the bills for the entire table.

So he ordered the Domenic’s Deluxe instead. Which, let’s face it, was still pretty large, so I’d consider that a win.

A giant pizza, all for Shane

He also got a side order of jojo potatoes. Because, Jojo’s. Can you go to eat there and NOT order them?

I have to believe we made that same joke five years ago, too.

And clearly it was enough food for him, because he ended up taking three pieces home. And one slice of Cassi’s, after she declared she was not at all thrilled about her choice. And Shane wasn’t going to see it go to waste.

No one throws out pizza on Shane’s watch.

Cassi’s choice was the Veggie Pizza, with a side salad. She took one bite and gave it an “F” grade, victim of the dreaded mushy bottom. She said the toppings were good, but the crust killed it for her. And it was nothing like Tim’s, which is the standard by which all pizzas in her world will now be judged.

#notTim’s

This also spurred a lively debate between her and Shane regarding the merits of vegetables on pizza and how that affects crust moisture.

We take on the hard topics on Wednesday nights, folks.

Meanwhile, Ted and I were just over here enjoying our non-pizza meals, which included ten Sweet Chili Thai wings and an overstuffed Italian Panini for Ted.

And the Firecracker Panini for me, which – because the name doesn’t really make it obvious – was turkey, pepper jack cheese, and breaded jalepenos. And no, I wasn’t just going for the Independence Day theme. I was actually considering the turkey bacon panini, but I still have PTSD from a few weeks ago. Damn you, Wadsworth Tavern.

I think Ted loved the pickle the best out of his whole meal, if that tells you anything. Not to pick on the Wadsworth Tavern again – but, I mean, we will, because let’s face it they deserve it – but Ted said that pickle had more flavor than the supposedly pickle flavored wings he waited a year and a half for on that visit.

He wasn’t impressed with his Panini, saying it “wasn’t quite as advertised.” And by that he means that the menu calls it oversized, but his wasn’t much thicker than my regular panini.

I, on the other hand, really liked my regular old non-overstuffed sandwich. It definitely had a kick to it. My side salad, however, was essentially nothing more than a bowl of iceberg lettuce with some cheese, so I’m super glad I opted for that.

Especially since ordering it meant I had to almost draw a photo diagram for the server to describe what I was wanting to order with my sandwich. So, I wanted to keep the chips that came with the sandwich, AND add a side salad. Not substitute. Not remove one. Not bring one as an appetizer.

Because apparently no one has ever ordered two sides with a sandwich before. #trendsetter.

THE WHO (we saw)

Judging from the crowd when we walked in, all of Medina. It is a holiday eve after all. And nothing says “Night Before Independence Day” like eating Italian food, right?

Although about 25 minutes after our arrival we started seeing things clear out a little, at least in the dining room area. We guessed we were at the tail end of the dinner rush, so that was probably part of it – but then also judging from the huge crowd we saw sitting in the dark on lawn chairs in the park down the street on our drive home, it was probably also an easy dinner placement prior to the city fireworks display.

I mean, good thing we put that whole fireworks thing together or else that image could’ve been a little bit creepy, no?

Anyway.

Someone we didn’t see much of was – shocker – our server. Because her expertise with the bar beverages didn’t set that one up for you at all, I’m sure. Her visits were sporadic and not always productive, something we seemed to remember about the service on our last visit. So clearly they’re working on that.

THE HOW (much we spent)

Well, I’m glad lettuce and cheese is $3.49. That seems acceptable.

Overall, though, considering the amount of food we had, that tab isn’t horrible. If two people were to share a pizza along with some drinks it would be a pretty cheap night out.

But we all know how this group feels about sharing food, so there’s that.

THE WHY (they will probably see us again)

Despite the slow service and the fun game of dining table musical chairs you have to submit yourself to just to try and get a place to park yourself for your meal, Jojo’s does have a large menu and some decent options. And clearly their system is working for them, as they haven’t gotten any less busy in the five years between out visits. We said it last time and we’ll say it again – it would be a solid option for a take out place, since there’s always something new to try on the menu and you don’t have to take your chances on tables or bar drinks in the process. But really what fun is that?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

(We forgot to take our photos at the restaurant before we left, so thankfully Ted was making a stop for gas at the GetGo down the street. You’re welcome to the other drivers who got to witness our seemingly random photo session with the pizza box)

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Shane

WTGW 6/26/19: Jimmy’s on Portage, North Canton

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THE WHERE (we went)

Welcome to summer, kids, when our weekly picks are sometimes based solely on the ability to sit on a patio we haven’t been to yet.

I think we all have to have two options as we go into each week – someplace that fits the previous statement, and a “Plan B” for if Mother Nature decides to be a whore and throw some thunderstorms or 1200% humidity in our direction about 10 minutes before we set out the door.

Gotta love you, Ohio.

Anyway, Jimmy’s on Portage does in fact have a decent sized patio, and you can tell that that’s where the crowd gravitates on nice evenings since they essentially shut down the interior portion of the restaurant in order to cater to that section. As in, when you enter you’re greeted with a sign directing you down the hallway to the patio. It’s like being invited over for a party and finding out the hosts didn’t want to clean the house in advance of people arriving so they just hang a sign on the front door directing everyone to the backyard.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Have we mentioned before how much we love servers who are able to actually tell us things they like on he menu, instead of just cheerfully replying that “everything is good”? We have? Well, OK then, I’ll mention it again, because our server at Jimmy’s was on the ball in this arena. Maybe she’s just used to answering this question – although, from the looks of the crowd, I’m guessing their clientele are primarily regulars and that a group of newbies like us is a true rarity – or maybe she was just wanting to be done with us and therefore just picking items out of thin air – but she honestly had a quick response that included something from every section of the menu. So regardless of her reasons, well, she chose wisely.

Her recommendations included crab cakes for apps, strawberry field salad under the lighter options, and the spicy signature burger for a sandwich. She also let us know that they were out of pizzas for the night, a tidbit that I think made the decisions of about half of our group slightly easier.

Ted took her suggestion on the signature burger, which he ordered with no cheese (shocker) and a side of baked beans. Apparently Ted is in the mood for a backyard barbeque this evening.

This is what arrived.

Now that’s a burger

Holy hell.

He was a bit unsure how to tackle eating this monstrosity. I mean, I think I would be more shocked at anyone who didn’t feel that way. But he did it. I have a video of the event, but I think I’ll save everyone that image and just post this as proof instead.

So that worked.

A guy across the bar later came over to commend Ted n his skills handling that burger, as he wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out when he saw Ted first picking it up.

Ted: Me either.

It should be noted that when we placed our orders he has also seriously been contemplating ordering a second sandwich – the grilled sausage sandwich – because he said it looked really good.

After what arrived in front of him in the form of that specialty burger, I’m going to go on record as saying it was probably a solid choice not to add that on to this order.

Maybe next time. Or maybe he’ll be better at persuading one of us to order it instead, something he tried REALLY HARD to do on this visit but to no avail.

Due in part because aside from this insane specialty three-burgers-in-one montrosity, the rest of the regular burger menu is only $5 on Wednesdays. And anyone who knows our group knows that we take frugality almost as seriously as we take our food choices.

So that’s what Shane opted for. Along with two Coney dogs. And an order of the sloppy taco nachos that he and I were sharing.

I think the server was impressed. Or scared. It’s hard to tell, those emotions can look similar when dealing with people who order their weight’s worth of food in one sitting.

Spoiler alert, Shane was cursing frugality once the meals arrived, because he was insanely jealous of Ted’s giant burger. i mean, not quite as jealous as the time at The Game when Ted ate a giant grease-dripping-from-every-edge burger while “healthy Shane” sat across from him eating some veggie nachos or quesadillas or something that wasn’t a salad bit that he chose in an attempt to not inhale a heart attack on a plate … but still. It was a close second.

I can’t imagine why Ted wouldn’t trade his giant burger for that bowl of liquid cheese that they call nachos here

I think Shane said at least five times that he really should’ve ordered that instead of the spread he ended up with. As impressive as it was.

Over on the “we don’t overdo it” side of the table, Cassi got the Italian sub, minus the peppercinis, and a side salad.

I got the BLT. Just kidding. I think I’m scarred for life on those after the Great Fakon Incident of 2019. Instead I opted for the $5 burger special with a side salad.

Are we even at the same table?

Remember how we were all excited because the server was great and knew everything on the menu and we thought this showed real potential because that’s something we LOVE about places we visit? Well, not to be outdone, Jimmy’s then turned around and hit us with the complete opposite, the thing we HATE most about restaurants … the dreaded mass food arrival.

When we’d been there for an hour and three rounds of drinks, and still hadn’t even seen the appetizers or salads, we kind of knew things were headed down this dark path. And then bam, here come three people out of the kitchen with literally ALL THE PLATES.

And people wonder why we always gravitate toward the largest table in the place?

I believe the words being spoken with a hand gesture here are “look at all this food!”

THE WHO (we saw)

So how do I put this gently … it was kind of like dining on the set of the movie Cocoon up in this place. I mean, on one hand, it’s nice to be in our 30s/40s and look around and feel like the youngest people on the patio. Well, I mean, other than the couple of people who were just a tiny bit younger than us and literally there with their parents. But then again, the last time we ended up at a place with a crowd this far out of our age range I think we were served the infamous tarter toast and not-sweet bean salad.

But that being said, this crowd wasn’t taking getting old sitting down. Or really, much of anything sitting down. There was a band on the patio this evening, and I think we were actually one of the few tables to not get up and rush the concrete area in front of the stage that was being used as a dance floor every time a new song started up.

That, folks, was worth the price of admission all in itself. Cuz some of those folks got moves.

THE HOW (much we paid)

$58 for an app, two burger specials, coney dogs, and eight draft beers (that’s three for me and five for Shane, if anyone is keeping track). Not too shabby.

Plus, I mean, the entertainment. Say no more.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

So the patio is actually pretty nice. There’s no view of a lake, or a golf course, or .. well … anything, really, since the patio is actually just a fenced in portion of the parking lot … but still. It’s spacious enough for several tables, a large bar, a stage and a dance floor. Compared with places that put like three cabaret tables in the middle of a public sidewalk and call that patio seating, I’d say this is a win.

And the food was honestly far better than expected given the idea I think we all got of Jimmy’s when we drove up (read: it obviously used to be a drive-thru restaurant of some kind – Arby’s maybe? – in a previous life). I mean, that burger Ted got was something else. I think we’ll be referencing that one as a burger by which other burgers should be compared against – even if it’s just in size alone – for some time to come. I have a feeling we’ll find ourselves here again down the road.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Jason … but since he’s on hiatus at the moment due to scheduling conflicts, we defer to Ted

Steph

Cassi

Shane

Ted

*****UPDATE******

So as I was going in a few weeks later to put the finishing touches on this post, I discovered an article saying that Jimmy’s would actually be closing just a few days from now, on July 19th.
The Curse of Gus’ strikes again, perhaps? I guess it was foreshadowing that that restaurant was referenced in this post long before we knew the fate that Jimmy’s would take just a few weeks after our visit.
In any case, thanks for the fun night, Jimmy’s. We’re sorry we won’t get the chance to return.
And let’s have a brief moment of silence for this burger we’ll unfortunately never have the chance to experience again. At least we – or, well, Ted, anyway – had this one opportunity.
Sorry, Shane.

Special Event – 4th Annual Scruptious Showdown, Aurora Farms

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Alright kids, here it is: our annual reminder that food judging is harder than it looks.

No really.

All eye rolling aside (you can stop already, I know you’re doing it), we were honored to be asked by the good folks out at Aurora Farms to once again come out at the beginning of June and lend our stomachs and taste buds to the annual Scrumptious Showdown food truck event. The event is in its 4th year, three of which Shane, Ted and I have tested our stomach capacity and will to keep standing upright with all of the buttons still done on our pants like civilized people while sampling some 20 food options over the course of 90 minutes.

So, basically, in less time than it took us to get our entire meals at the Wadsworth Tavern, we were able to try 20 different items.

Twenty.

#perspective.

Thanks – I think – in part to Ted’s general hatred and overall aversion to cheese, we were selected as the group to test all of the meat entries this year. The other group of judges had all of the vegetarian dishes, and then all of us joined together to try all of the desserts. Because it’s just not fair to keep anyone from dessert.

Our day of carnivorous dining was divided into two categories: all things just containing meat in general (read: lots of BBQ and assorted meats of the pulled variety), and then wraps.

Our very first sampling came from the Slop Truck – who apparently think that an entire entrée of pulled pork with a side of ribs and Mac’n’Cheese was sample sized. Perhaps they read this blog and know what kind of portions we treat ourselves to on a regular basis, so thanks, I guess?

Although if they read this blog, then they should also know better than to serve one of the three of us in this group a side dish where cheese is not only one of the main ingredients but also in the title. I have to believe they lost points for that.

After that we tried two variations of hot dogs: the “Polish Girl” from Jones Bones, which was topped with fries and cole slaw, and an unnamed selection from Top Dawg which featured chili, potato straws and mac’n’cheese as toppings.

Wait, what? Because clearly we’re just lazy enough now that we have to eat all the side dishes on top of the hot dog instead of separately?

For those who like to eat their whole meal at one time

Spoiler alert: it still eventually involved a fork, so are we really saving anything here?

Also, I’m sure you noticed that Ted’s nemesis strikes again, so this clearly wasn’t his day.

The amazingness that is the DiLaura’s Wood Fired Pizza truck was back again, serving up the pepperoni pizza with hot honey sauce. If you haven’t seen this marvel of a trailer that heats up to about 4 billion degrees and cooks a pizza in 90 seconds check out the photos from last year’s food truck judging. Seriously. If there was a category for coolest food truck out there they would win hands down every time.

And rounding out the group was Smoke This with a pulled brisket slider which Shane claimed he would eat 15 of if he could. But thankfully he didn’t, because, well, we still had about 15 other things to sample before the afternoon was over.

Full yet?

Don’t worry, only four wraps to go. And dessert. NBD.

In the wraps category, our first sampling was from Funky Truckeria, with a tequila chicken taco.

The second truck I had to go back and try to find the name of on the wrap-up email (see what I did there?) from our friends at Aurora Farms, because, well, let’s just say that that the entrée they served us was just as unmemorable as their name. We were unimpressed. Also, the name wasn’t included because clearly they didn’t win anything. Shocker.

So we’ll just leave it at that.

The third sample was a giant chicken burrito that must’ve weighed as much as my head. Normally this would be a selling point for our group, but honestly it seemed like this one just had altogether way too much going on inside for us to deem it delicious. So much so that I can’t recount any one thing that was in there, just that there was a lot mixed together. It’s like when you’re decorating your living room and can’t decide between beach, cottage, and southwestern themes, so you just try to mash them together and tell everyone it works.

Newsflash: it doesn’t. Stop trying.

Our final wrap was the annual gyro from George’s. A tried and true favorite on its own, but this year they spiced it up a little with some new toppings and some flavor that really made it stand out.

And that’s saying a lot considering which we barely got two bites of it before dessert came around. But hey, it was enough for them to win the category, so good for them.

Shane, as we boxed up the gyros and did a few mental jumping jacks to prepare ourselves for the final round of the afternoon: Hey, I think I’m finally starting to get that full feeling.
Me: well good thing there’s only seven desserts left to go.

Which is why next year I vote that we turn things on their heads and start with dessert. Because, seriously, I think that category just doesn’t get a fair shake having to be judged after we’ve eaten literally everything else in the parking lot.

Although I have to admit that the fact that we could still enjoy these delicacies after everything else we just stuffed ourselves with really does say a lot for the quality of these items.

Take all that as you will.

And they certainly did not disappoint. We started out right back at George’s, with a piece of baclava swimming in ice cream. I say swimming, because, well, remember it was about a billion degrees out there on the blacktop, and so we had to devour this one quick so as to actually enjoy it.

Because I feel about baclava about the same depth that Ted feels about cheese … well … you can guess this wasn’t my favorite in this category. But Shane and Ted were crazy over it, so there’s your benchmark, I guess.

I was more partial to the Italian cherry soda float from Cookery. I mean, if I haven’t already mentioned, it was a little on the hot side out there, and a beverage filled with fruit flavor and whipped cream was somewhat delightful in my opinion. I may have been the only one in our group to think that, but, hey, guess it kind of balances out the baclava debate, right?

In the categories of things you don’t really think would be dessert options, we had fried naan from the Chapati Indian truck, and apricot pierogis from Pierogi Joe’s. Neither of those really wowed anyone in our group. Which is odd, because I seem to remember the fried naan being a favorite from last year. Hmm.

Naan and baclava and iced drinks and WE NEED BIGGER TABLES

What  happens when you let a catering truck give you dessert? Well, let’s just say you definitely get points for presentation and originality. Robestos served us up a little platter of delightfulness, including tiny bite sized portions of yogurt, peaches, waffles and a sidecar of syrup. And guys, tiny plasticware. I mean, come on.

Finally (seriously how many of you thought we HAD to be done by this point? Yeah, us too. Us. Too.) we ended the dessert category with mint chocolate chip custard from Stoddards, and a sundae from East Coast Custard that thankfully Shane and I got to share since there was no way we were going to eat the whole thing ourselves by that point.

Remember what I said at the top of this post about how this whoe food judging thing is harder than it looks. WHO’S ROLLING THEIR EYES NOW, EH?

Exactly.

So to recap, the winners for the day – as voted on by our groups of judges – were:
George’s Gyros – Best Wrap
Smoke This – Best with Meat
DiLaura’s Pizza – Best without Meat (the other group’s pick, as they tried the cheese only slice)
Robesto’s – Best Dessert (I’m telling you, it was the tiny plasticware that won everyone over)
And the Fan Favorite, voted on by those actually paying to purchase food that afternoon: George’s Gyros

Thanks again to the good folks at Aurora Farms for still considering us celebrity status enough to come back out and judge once again, as well as all of the participating trucks for supplying us with enough food to not go hungry for about a week after the event.

So the next time you read a post and think we’ve outdone ourselves eating enough food for a small army … just tell yourself it’s training for this event next year. I mean, that’s what we do.

And stay tuned for the date of Scrumptious Showdown 2020 – we’d love to see you there!

Group shot of all the judges

 

Someone roll us to the car, please