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 7/27/16: Caston & Main Brew Yard, Portage Lakes

Reuben, meatball and BLT
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Sorry to desert you last week, but since it was a super nice night out we decided to call a patio audible and opt for a former pick that we knew had good food and a nice outdoor area to enjoy it. Because, well, summer only lasts so long around these parts, people. We have to do what we can to cherish it. Which last week meant a return visit to Delanie’s in Tallmadge, a place we’ve visited several times since our original pick … but oddly enough never tried out the patio. And let’s just say we were not disappointed.

I would’ve done a revisit post, but, well, I think we were all about halfway through our meals before I realized we hadn’t taken any photos. And I know that’s really what you all look at here anyway. Oops.

Anyway, that pushed Ted’s pick for a new spot off to this week, and he actually managed to find a place that neither me nor Shane had even heard of before. Impressive. Apparently it’s a somewhat newer place (opened last fall, I believe) in the Lakes area. In full disclosure, Ted had actually already visited Caston & Main once with another friend of his (yes, we are allowed to have other friends, shush) – but adamantly refused to try any of the food because he wanted to be able to legit pick it as a WTGW choice. Smart man.

I mean, this may seem like all fun and games here, but we do have to keep some rules. Come on.

This place is another of those that either has a deceptively small parking area, or only serves customers that don’t know the meaning of carpooling. Because looking at the packed lot you would think we would’ve had a long wait for a table … but yet when we walked inside there were about 6 or 7 large open tables. Hmm. My smart ass observation was that everyone there must’ve somehow managed to drive two cars to dinner that evening. Which is rather impressive.

So there’s a bar area when you first walk in, but neither Shane nor I really had a chance to actually see it, as Ted made a quick right and beelined it to a table in the dining area. Uh, that’s slightly out of character. Have you met us, Ted? We like bars. Dining rooms are boring. Remember Memories, anyone?

Yeah, we’re trying to forget, too.

But regardless, we knew Ted had been there before, and thought maybe he that made him privy to some special inside info about best seating practices. Yeah, no. I mean, the table was fine, the service was good, once the place started to fill in it never seemed overly packed … but, well, let’s just say that the entertainment provided in the main dining area left something to be desired. A lot of something. Like the ability to hold a regular conversation, think quietly, or ever hear some songs the same way again. I guess Wednesdays are “acoustic night” at Caston & Main … and this little one-man-band electric guitarist that was playing on this particular Wednesday was, well, perhaps deaf. And I’m not saying that so much to be mean as I am to imply that we think he really had no idea how loud his guitar playing actually was. So, like, you know when you go out to eat and there’s music, you kind of want it to be background to your conversation, right? Not this guy. It seemed like the louder everyone talked, the more he upped the volume on the amp, or made some weird screechy sounds with his guitar that I have to believe forced more than a few of my brain cells to spontaneously combust. It was like one of those “anything you can do I can do better” competitions. And the end result was something akin to attempting to maintain a dinner conversation while your neighbor hosts a tractor pull in the backyard. Because that’s way fun.

Needless to say, we relished the few breaks that were taken. And silently cursed Ted for not just picking a seat in the way opposite back corner of the bar.

So there’s that.

Another tip – be sure to bring your reading glasses. Because the beer list for this place is about four pages long. Which amounts to lots of words.

Conversely, the food list is only about two pages. We see your priorities, and we like them.

Always one for choosing a beer with a good name, Ted went with the Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro to start. Bravo. I pretty much just stuck my finger somewhere on the beer list and ended up with the Jackie O’s Razz Wheat. Which came in a really neat glass, so that was a plus.

If it has raspberry puree in it, does it make it healthy?

If it has raspberry puree in it, does it make it healthy?

Where's Amanda and her big purse when you need her?

Where’s Amanda and her big purse when you need her?

But Shane won the drink lottery with the Crabbie’s Raspberry Mule. We were a little worried about his order after our – or rather Ted’s – experience with a “mule” at Burntwood Tavern a few years ago. But looking back maybe Ted was just unfortunate enough to have had an awful bartender that evening who just threw some alcohol in a copper mug and called it a mule. Because by the end of this particular evening at C&M all three of us had switched to the drink Shane picked. Delicious.

Shane and I got the chips and dip as an app. Which did not come in a plastic Lawson’s container – boooo – but was equally as delicious. – yay! I have to think it’s one of the best we’ve tried. Shane said his only complaint was that it was a little too runny, but other than that the taste was great.

No, it didn't come served with a chip imprint in the middle of the dip. Thanks, Shane.

No, it didn’t come served with a chip imprint in the middle of the dip. Thanks, Shane.

Ted got the homemade guac with pita chips for an app. And immediately commented that no one was going to kiss him that night, as it definitely had a lot of onion in it. If it’s not garlic, it’s onion with this group. How we are all still allowed to eat in public is beyond me sometimes. Regardless, he said the guac was still good.

Props for presentation

Props for presentation

For dinner, I got the Hot Italian Sub, with a side salad. I know, I know, first fruit in my beer and now vegetables with my meal? I’m slipping here. But it was all very good. The sandwich was large, but not overwhelming (that’s what she said … oh come on, you know I couldn’t resist) and was toasted just enough to be warm but not at all burnt. Thumbs up.

I'm not sure this is allowed on Wednesdays

I’m not sure this is allowed on Wednesdays

You had me at "soft bread"

You had me at “soft bread”

The guys went with the Wednesday special, which is three sliders for $6. They have a list of options you can choose from, including reuben, BLT, chorizo sausage, meatball, veggie, and chicken salad – and you pick any three of those to make up your $6 meal. Between the two of them they sampled all of the options except one, and I’ll give you one guess as to which one that was that neither of them picked …

Hint: it starts with a “v” and ends with “that sounds too healthy.”

Instead they went all out on the meat train, with Shane ordering the rueben, meatball and chorizo, while Ted decided on the reuben, meatball and BLT. Sometimes they’re so similar it’s almost scary.

Reuben, meatball and BLT

Reuben, meatball and BLT

Reuben, meatball, and chorizo.

Reuben, meatball, and chorizo.

Ted said he liked the BLT slider the best. They both thought the rueben was good, but said it was almost too toasted – Shane claimed to have lost a layer of skin on the roof of his mouth from biting into the crispy bread. Keeping on our theme from last week, Shane also said the chorizo needs more flavor (have they made some changes to this type of meat that we should know about?), and the meatball kinda did too.

But of course they didn’t let that didn’t stop them from ordering more. I mean, come on. We all know by now that one dinner is not enough to fill up our boys.

So for the second round Shane switched out his chorizo for a BLT, and Ted switched out his reuben for a chicken salad.

Hold the phone here … um, what? Chicken salad? Seems an odd choice, right? I mean, aside from the whole bordering on healthy thing, that’s also just not a slider option you see often. Which may be why Ted ordered it. Regardless, he said it was sweeter than anticipated – thanks to raisins in the mix that surprised him – but probably should’ve had a different bread, as it was the same bread from the rueben one he was trying to avoid. Oops.

After round two, Ted was sticking with the BLT as the favorite. And after trying it for himself in that same round, Shane agreed that it was the definite winner. And that, folks, will conclude this week’s unofficial best slider competition.

All in all C&M is a cool little place, with a crapload of alcohol selections and small but definitely delicious menu. The drink list kind of reminded us of what we said about the food menu at Mike’s Place in Kent – you could come back every day for a month and still not try everything on the menu. But hey, we like options, so we’re cool with that. I will say that as far as service, once it got busy we did wait a bit longer for our server to get around to us – but that’s to be expected anywhere they only have one or two people covering the space. Overall I could see us going back.

Well, as long as that guitar guy isn’t there anyway. Can someone new please volunteer to be the entertainment? Maybe Shane could just do this strange little interpretive dance he was doing in the parking lot as we were leaving. We’ll call this “the Mexican Jumping Bean.” I’m just going to leave these right here …

Take one

Take one

Take two

Take two

Take three

Take three

Take four

Take four

Are you laughing yet?

Are you laughing yet?

Is it over?

Take seven billion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final verdict:
Two double thumbs up, and one one up/one down

Shane

Shane

Ted. The thumbs up is for the place and food. The thumbs down is for the music.

Ted. The thumbs up is for the place and food. The thumbs down is for the music.

Steph ... and creepy background Shane. At least he stopped jumping.

Steph … and creepy background Shane. At least he stopped jumping.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

WTGW 7/13/16: The Ignorant Owl, Canton

Are margaritas on tap? That's new
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After a few weeks of revisits (The Big Dog, and also Dante’s Game Day, which we didn’t post about – because, well, we’ve been there more than a few times since our initial visit. Oops.), it was time for something new.

Plus I had a Groupon. I mean, we’re also thrifty here at WTGW. Seriously.

And, let’s face it – the name is just fun. How can you not love a place called The Ignorant Owl? It’s just fun to say. Try it. How can you not smile when you say that? It’s like The Happy Moose. Which, really, they should think about some sort of collaboration project. Just sayin’.

Although if your name is Shane, you might call it everything else under the sun than what the actual name is. He knew it was an Owl, but the adjective threw him off. I think I heard Intelligent, Interesting, Obvious, Odd … you get the idea.

Anyway.

So as we drove up, we were a little worried that this place would be one of those tiny restaurants that takes pictures from odd angles to put on the website and make it look spacious, but really there’s like four tables and a bar the size of my desk. Because it definitely doesn’t look as big on the outside as it is once you walk in.

There’s also a small patio outside that we saw from the parking lot, but we decided against that option since it was about 9 billion degrees outside this evening. Thanks for being awesome, Ohio summer.

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

Are margaritas on tap? That’s new

We quickly discovered that there is a good draft beer selection – yay! – so I ended up with a Summer Shandy, and Ted opted for the 2xSmash. And I have to give our server credit, as she was able to answer Ted’s questions about that particular beer – at least enough to mention it was 8.1% alcohol, and super hoppy. Although I think Ted missed the 8.1% part, because he had like three tall drafts.

And he was our driver this evening. So we may be super thrifty, but not always entirely smart. Point taken.

Shane ignored the draft list completely and got a rum and diet. Because, well, Shane.

The whole place definitely keeps with the concept of the name. There are owl statues or wall art everywhere you look. And several menu items give nod to the name in one way or another – “Nocturnal Nachos,” “Hootin House Salad,” “Owl You Want in a Quesadilla” – you get the idea. Although not every menu item, which is a bit strange in my opinion. I mean, why should the quesadillas get a fun name, but not the spaghetti and meatballs? It just seems unfair.

Because we like fun names, Shane and I got the Ignorant Chorizo Dip as an app. It’s advertised as cheese and chorizo sausage with spices and pita/tortilla chips. Ted of course moved as far away from it as possible. And honestly he kind of had the right idea, because the dip turned out to be just OK. It definitely didn’t have as much flavor as we’d hoped for. I mean, usually when you see something with chorizo in it you expect a bit of a kick to the flavor – at least most food dishes I’ve sampled anyway. But it was like they ground it up instead of using actual chunks of chorizo, which of course led to less flavor. And even the cheese – which there was an abundance of – seems rather bland. Boo.

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

Maybe they think the chives are actually chorizo? Because there were more of those for sure.

For dinner I got the chili and chicken tenders – I’m sorry, “Ignorant Chili” and “Screeching Talons” – and was promptly made fun of for ordering chili when it’s 9 billion degrees out. Hey, it sounded good, what can I say.

Ted got the “Build Your Own Owl Burger,” which is on special for &5.99 on Wednesdays. Shane was going to do the same, except that you couldn’t get the special with the groupon, so he decided instead to try something else – and ended up with “Screeching Wings” and a “Build Your Own Ignorant Hot Dog.” And what was one of his toppings on said hot dog? Chili. Say what? I thought it was too hot for chili Mr. Smartypants?

Exactly.

And apparently I didn’t have to worry anyway, because it seemed like the chili came out a bit cold. Not like ice cold, so I didn’t send it back – but I also like my food to be about the temperature of a roaring fire, so I have to admit I was a bit disappointed there. But it was hot in the spicy sense, so that sorta made up for it. Maybe they should put that chili in the chorizo dip. Just a thought.

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

There’s those chives again

Still taking a cue from our nothing-is-spicy-enough experience at Big Dog last week, I had my chicken tenders tossed in the hot sauce, which was definitely warm but not unbearable. The server had likened the sauce to a Frank’s Red Hot taste, which was pretty appropriate.

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

Tenders. Talons. Close enough

Ted looked a little disappointed when his burger came out, as it did seem a bit on the small side. And he then promptly put in an order of wings as soon as the server came back to check on us. I think he was also slightly jealous of Shane’s wings, too, but whatevs.

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

No cheese. Must be Ted’s

But he did say that other than the size, the burger was actually really good. He had it done medium, and it was very juicy. He said Shane probably would’ve been happy with both the doneness and the taste. Which, we all know Shane’s burger standards by now, those are not words to toss around lightly.

In direct contrast to Ted’s meal, Shane said the hot dog was actually much bigger than he thought it would be. We’re like the Goldilocks and the Three Bears of meat orders over here. Shane actually didn’t even eat the bun, just focusing on the meat and chili so he could eat it all without getting too full. Hey, that’s usually my trick.

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

There’s a hot dog under there somewhere

His BBQ wings were also good – although he was a bit salty about having ordered that flavor. The menu only listed three sauces: hot, extra hot, and BBQ … but when Ted ordered his wings later on and asked the server about the sauces, she also included a garlic and oil flavor. And we all know how Shane feels about anything garlic.

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

Shane’s poor substitute for garlic wings

Ted got the extra hot wings – again, scarred by the Big Dog – and still managed to eat all but two of them. He said they were good, he was just full. Fair enough – I mean, he did technically have two whole dinners.

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

Ted’s second meal

All in all The Ignorant Owl is a nice place, but nothing out of the ordinary that would make us have to come back anytime soon. It’s another one of those “if we lived closer we might go back, but there’s nothing special enough to make the 30+ minute drive” kind of places.

Consensus: Two thumbs up and a thumbs middle

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

Ted

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

Steph

The Ignorant Owl, 7/13/16

Shane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picked by:  Steph
Next Pick: Ted

 

WTGW 6/29/16: Revisit – The Big Dog, Ravenna

Chunks of garlic vs chunks of spice
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Once upon a time, we went to a place in Ravenna with an amazing patio and insanely cheap wings on Wednesday nights. And ever since that time we’ve been saying we need to go back to this establishment at some point to see if it’s really still that good, or if maybe the stars just aligned and we happened to visit on a good night, or if maybe we all just drank way too many beers that particular night and beer-googled ourselves a fantastic evening.

You laugh, but I think that happens far more than we realize at the time.

Fast forward to a few months ago, in the midst of our professional-and-medically-induced hiatus, when we received a comment on the blog from Greg, a gentleman who is affiliated with The Big Dog in Ravenna. He read our review from a few years back, and invited us to return to see some of the changes they’ve made (namely a brighter, less scary interior and a more open bar area on the patio – which was already pretty great to begin with). And hence the idea came that we should dedicate at least a few WTGW trips to revisiting those that we once put at the top of the favorites list, to see if they’re still deserving of the placement.

And so, on a gorgeous summer Wednesday evening, we figured why not return to what we’ve always considered to be one of the best patio picks of all WTGW time?

Exactly.

Plus Greg was kind enough to confirm for us that they do indeed still have the 10 cent wings on Wednesdays, so as you can imagine it didn’t take much arm twisting to get us back on the road to Ravenna.

Once we arrived, we found the parking lot still as busy as it had been that day we first visited – and although we still didn’t have trouble finding an open spot, we were still slightly nervous to walk onto the patio in search of a table, as we figured it would be packed.  But luck was on our side, and we easily spotted a table for three off in the corner.

Side note: oddly enough, all of our food runners throughout the night would have a more difficult time located said table than we did finding it in the first place. But whatevs.

So Greg wasn’t lying – the outdoor bar is definitely larger and more open. It’s less like you’re walking up to the side of a shed to order your food and drinks, and more like a real bar. With TVs and everything. *gasp* Although we noticed later – like as the sun started to set later – that they still haven’t installed any more lighting on the patio. So lucky for us it doesn’t get dark in this part of the world until like 10PM at this time of year … but not sure how we feel about returning toward the end of the summer when that time frame starts to move forward considerably.

But back to the plus side – bigger bar means better beer selection, so Ted didn’t have to suffer through another Miller Lite with his wings this time around. Horray! They still have the rule of needing to purchase one beer for every 10 wings ordered in order to get the 10 cent price on Wednesdays … which, again, twist our arms. Hell, we’ll even buy beers when we aren’t ordering more wings!

Just call us rebels.

So this time around Ted opted for Loginitos IPA on draft. And Shane and I got tall cans of Summer Shandy.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Ted not drinking Miller Lite

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Summer at its best

Speaking of rules. So we noticed that they have them printed on a card on the table – primarily that none of the daily food specials are available to-go. And by to-go, they mean no food leaves the premises. Period. So no doggie bags. In fact, they even claim that taking home leftover wings on Wednesdays will get you banned for life. Wait, what? That’s kind of harsh.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

The fine print. Literally.

But regardless, we weren’t in the mood to test it – because, well, if we haven’t mentioned before, we actually like this place.

OK, so this post could also be titled “the time three people went out to dinner and ended up with 70 wings at their table.” Stop laughing. I mean, have you not learned that we like food yet? Especially when Hungry Shane is out with us, and there’s a hella long wait for food. Now granted we were prepared for the wait – both in the comments from Greg on this blog, and also in the signage on the table (the same place that warned us of banishment if we took said wings home). So Shane’s first wings hadn’t even arrived yet, and he already decided we (ahem, HE) should order 20 more.

Keep in mind he had ordered 20 the first time. And I got 10. And Ted got 20. So, yeah, it’s logical that we needed 20 more. Right.

Oh yeah, and a basket of fries and an order of pepper jack bites. Because, more food. Jesus. I think I gained 10 pounds just typing all that out again. We seriously are tempting the fates of the cholesterol gods every single time we go out on a Wednesday night.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Fried food. Because the wings weren’t enough.

So here’s what we got: Shane’s original wing order was 10 salt & vinegar, and 10 dry rub ranch; my 10 were the chipotle chili pepper; and Ted’s were 10 mango habenero and 10 spicy garlic. And then the additional 20 were 10 Jamaican Jerk and 10 sweet red chili.

Got all that?

At least the two apps – fries and cheese bites – came out way before any of the wings. Which pacified Hungry Shane for a bit. But, I mean, not enough that he didn’t still go order the extra 20 wings after that food was gone and he continued to wait for his original order.

At least he tried to rationalize it with “what’s the worst that happens? We only eat 4 wings out of the 20? And we’re out what, $1.60?”

Well, when you put it that way … I mean, we’ll just try not to think of the starving children in Africa as we toss baskets of perfectly good wings into the trash and all. No biggie.

As far as the apps go, the cheese bites were good, but I thought the fries could’ve used some salt. And before anyone gets lippy on me – yes, I looked on the table. And no there was none available.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Also known as: the only thing that kept Shane from starving to death

Now if I’d have held out – or, rather, wrestled some of the fries away from Hungry Shane’s grip and saved them for about another hour – I could’ve found some salt when Shane’s wings finally arrived at the table. We were all slightly surprised to discover that the salt & vinegar wings were apparently “some assembly requried” – as they arrived with about 30 packets of salt, and a little plastic cup of vinegar. Which is odd enough in itself, but even more so when we re-consulted the menu and found those wing were supposed to be a dry rub. Hmm.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Salt & Vinegar wings

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Wing chef Shane in action

Ironically, though, those wings turned out to be one of the best we ordered, at least from the first batch of 50 that hit our table. The other winners were Ted’s mango habenero, which turned out to me more sweet than hot. If you order that same flavor in other places like BW3 or Quaker Steak, you can’t feel your mouth after a few. At least that’s what I’ve been told – because I’ve never had one at one of those joints. Call me crazy, but I don’t care for the feeling of sweating just from ingesting seasoning. But I tried a few of Ted’s, and could eat them easily – so you know there wasn’t much heat to them at all. Not that that’s a bad thing – just different from other places, and something to keep in mind when ordering.

That being said, my original 10 wings (chipotle) were probably the spiciest of the bunch, but the odd thing was that you didn’t necessarily taste the heat as you were eating them. They kind of tasted burnt. But then afterwards your mouth kinda warmed up. It’s like starting out with a little campfire, which you can manage, and then suddenly some a-hole walks past and pours a gallon of gasoline over top of it. And then, poof, it’s a forest fire.

As far as the other flavors, Ted said the spicy garlic weren’t really spicy, just garlicky. But he still liked them. And Shane’s dry rub ranch was not a big hit.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Wonder what kind those are?

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Dry ranch wings. Or just dry wings. Whatevs

Ironically the last two batches we ordered were perhaps the biggest winners of the night, at least to Ted and I. They had just the right amount of heat, and great flavor. Ted ranked all the wings he tried as Jamaican jerk first, then garlic, then mango and then the sweet chili. I liked the sweet hot chili best, then the mango and then the jerk.

Shane still claimed that he liked the salt & vinegar best … but who knows if he’ll put them together the same way next time? It will be a gamble.

We all agreed that while some of the flavors were good, none of them really had any heat. Ted said the next time he would just ask for the spiciest ones on the menu and then tell them to make them twice as hot.

As far as the award for “majority of wings that could’ve been sent to African children but instead ended up in the trash” – well, that went to the chipotle. I stopped eating them when I realized we had 20 more wings coming, and since I wasn’t really crazy about these ones then I might as well save my appetite for ones that I might like better. Sometimes I’m a smart cookie like that.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Sorry chipotle wings – you were not our winner tonight

But even so, we were too full to finish them all. Shane commented that Wednesdays are the time to come try all the different flavors – because, really, for 10 cents each it does offer a good chance to experiment, if you can stand the wait. Although then he said that once he found the ones he really liked his plan would be to just order “like, a million of those” – and hence really make the special go further. He’s economical like that, that one.

Which is what makes The Big Dog still one of our favorite WTGW picks. Aside from the gorgeous, spacious patio area – you never leave this place hungry. In fact, I think Shane was about to explode by the time the final 20 wings arrived, and then even more so after he attempted to eat a few of each of them. And the bills were insanely cheap. Ted paid $12 for 20 wings and two draft IPAs. Shane and I had 50 wings, six tall cans of Summer Shandy, and two apps – and our bill was $36.

$36.

For real? I mean, that’s like the cost of one entree and a drink at our last week’s pick.

And that’s why we definitely still wish we lived closer (or they would open another location closer to us, hint hint) so we could come more often. I mean, although this blog may just end up being called “What Wings Did We Order Wednesdays” because I have a feeling we would give up on other places and just end up visiting here about every Wednesday. But we definitely would like to try visiting on another evening, too, since we noticed they have great specials on about every night of the week – $3 half pound burgers on Fridays, $2.50 for three sliders on Tuesdays, $4 Philly cheesesteaks on Saturdays, etc. How can you go wrong? Well, I mean, other than maybe gaining about 50 pounds and perhaps clogging a few arteries … but when has that ever stopped us before. Technicalities.

Are we glad we revisited? Of course (although Shane’s stomach may have not shared that opinion with us the next morning – but that’s his fault, not the establishment’s. Ha)

And will we return again? A resounding yes.

Original visit: 9/3/14

Big Dog Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 6/22/16: The Twisted Olive, Green

WTGW gets fancy
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Wait, what’s this? A new post? Don’t lie, I know you missed us. And trust me, we’ve missed you. But unfortunately work commitments, travel, and some unexpected health complications kept us from our usual Wednesday night shenanigans these past – wait, WTF, has it really been three straight months now? Holy crap. OK, we’re officially slackers. 

Honestly, we have gotten together on a few Wednesdays these past months – because, you know, we like to eat and drink, and that’s a long time to not leave our houses. But for whatever reason we ended up forsaking new places for the comfort and ease of old favorites like Panini’s or Moe’s. Because sometimes you just need to go someplace close to home where you know you can get cold drinks and good food, and not drive an hour out of your way to take chances.

So basically we just spent three months completely negating the entire premise of this blog. Our bad.

That also means that the wheel has been stuck on Ted’s pick this entire time. And he’s had it in his head that he wanted to choose The Twisted Olive in Green as his next pick. Which is like 30 minutes from our house. And some of those Wednesdays that was just too far to drive after part of the group got out of work late, or weren’t feeling the greatest. As it was we had to go just as a threesome tonight – no Amanda or Jared – because, well, basically in the forseeable future unless the place is close to Amanda’s workplace of Hudson, she probably won’t make it out to meet us with the way her new work schedule is. Boo.

Being an adult is crap, kids. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

So anyway, back to tonight, as the three of us were contemplating driving over to Kent to visit a former pick with a nice patio, I commented that if we were going to go all the way over there, why not drive the same distance and get back to our original plan of trying new places – especially when one of the reasons Ted wanted to visit this one was for the patio?

Point taken.

So that’s the long-winded story of how Shane, Ted and I ended up here tonight. And I have to be honest, the patio was definitely worth the wait.

Although waiting was exactly what we had to do for a patio seat once we got there – but judging from the number of cars we saw in the parking lot on our way in, we actually weren’t overly surprised. I think we were more surprised that the wait was only like 15 minutes. So we sat in the lobby for a few minutes, which gave us time to look around and notice that the place is really huge. And everything decorating it is huge. Huge fireplace. Huge lighting fixtures in the main dining room. Huge patio outside the doors. It’s like the place was decorated by the design firm Giants ‘R Us.

And when we got bored sitting in the lobby (which, let’s be honest, took all of about 2.5 seconds), we followed the huge “BAR” sign with an arrow down the huge curved staircase to get a few drinks to pass the time. Side note, the bar area really could’ve been included on that whole “huge” memo, as it’s a little crowded and difficult to order from when there’s people sitting at most of the seats. Also, the bartender didn’t seem especially helpful or friendly, which is always super fun. But whatevs.

Impressed with the various Bloody Marys on the menu, Shane decided to try the Citrus version. I went with a Mojito – which Ted ordered for me because he just thought the word was fun – and Ted got a beer called Siberian Night, which – surprise, surprise – was the color of, well, complete darkness.

Ted: Yep, I can’t see through it, that’s a good thing.

At least we haven’t changed much these past three months.

We were still working on those drinks when we got a text a few minutes later that our table was ready. And also to close out our bar tabs before returning to the hostess stand. Nice touch.

(And on a side note, thank you to this place for doing away with the annoying buzz-and-light-contraptions that most restaurants use. They always reminded me of that stupid Simon Says light-up memory game from the 80s.)

Anyway, we headed to our table on the patio – which, as I already mentioned, was spectacular. It’s a great atmosphere, and the view is amazing. According to the little story on the menu, the restaurant is situated on a 10-acre nature preserve, and is actually affiliated with Gervasi Vineyards in Canton.

See, I pay attention sometimes.

So, being that we’re predictable folks and haven’t changed our ways in the last three months, care to take a guess at what Shane ordered off the appetizer menu?

If you guessed calamari, you’re correct! Ding, ding, ding!

Perhaps because there were no mussels on the app menu, Ted went way off the predictable path and ordered the Italian flatbread. He requested no olives on it, and the server mentioned that everyone seemed to be requesting it that way this evening.

Ted: Seems odd at a place called The Twisted Olive, no?

Touche.

The calamari was OK. The sauce that came with it – which I’m going to guess from the color involved some portioning of wasabi – had a nice little kick to it. But other than that there was really nothing special or different about the dish to distinguish it from any other place we’ve had it before. And it certainly didn’t appear to be a very generous helping when the plate arrived at the table. I think this was Shane’s first reminder that we were at one of the “fancier” WTGW picks on our list, and presentation would trump portion sizes.

That's like an appetizer for Shane's usual appetizer

That’s like an appetizer for Shane’s usual appetizer

The flatbread was really crispy and really good. I said it was like eating one layer of a mexican pizza. Ted made a comment about the sausage on it that I won’t repeat, nor will I repeat Shane’s comment back – but I’m sure if you’ve read any of our reviews before you can figure out where that’s all headed. Yes, we’re still 15.

This isn't Taco Bell

This isn’t Taco Bell

Perhaps that’s why for the next round of drinks Shane and Ted decided to switch things up and both ordered the “Manly Mary” Bloody Mary – which involved horseradish, tobasco and a bunch of other ingredients that only hinted at how hot it probably was. They were surprised to see it also included a slice of bacon as a garnish as well. Not upset, just surprised. And since Shane was still hungry following the tiny portion of calamari, I can assume he was probably also grateful.

Ted and I both flipped on our original dinner orders and got the Ahi tuna steak that was on special that night. We were both wavering on our decision – we were both intrigued when the server mentioned she had tried it and it was delicious – but Ted’s turning point came when he gave the server his original order of the crab cake sliders, and the server mentioned that you only get two sliders and they were kind of small. You could see Ted’s face fall at that statement. And he quickly changed his mind and went with the Ahi tuna.

Now I had the opposite problem, as I was going to get a pizza, but saw one delivered to the table next to us and that then basically three people ended up sharing it … and realized that would be way too much food for me.

We’re like the Goldilocks of food ordering.

I will say, though, that neither one of us was disappointed in the Ahi tuna. It was tasty, as were the potatoes and bok choi/carrots that came with it. The server had mentioned that it’s always prepared rare, which was delicious. And while it didn’t look like a lot of food on the plate, I was definitely full. Ted said he wasn’t completely full, but he definitely wasn’t hungry either. I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

WTGW gets fancy

WTGW gets fancy

Shane, on the other hand … well, let’s just say that out of any of us at the table, he should’ve ordered the pizza. He actually had thought about it, but then talked himself out of it, as he’d already eaten pizza for dinner two of the last three nights. But if you’ve kept up on this blog you’ll know that really shouldn’t have stopped him, as pizza is one of his favorite foods. I mean, anyone recall the half sheet pizza incident? Right.

But he also loves scallops, and since we don’t often go out on WTGW to places that serve those, he opted for that as his meal. And then was instantly disappointed as soon as his plate was set in front of him. His comment after the server left was that he was waiting for someone else to walk up and bring him his main course instead of the appetizer portion.

We obviously don’t go to fancy places much, folks. Grease and heart attacks on plates are more our style.

Now, he did say that the scallops were good. But just not at all filling. Because you only get like five. He also said they went a little crazy with all the “stuff” on top of the scallops – I don’t know what that “stuff” was, that’s just what he called it. “Stuff.” So basically overall everything was very good, there just wasn’t enough of it. I have to believe he would’ve traded all the “fancy” in exchange for just more basic scallops.

Why is there so much white space on this plate?

Why is there so much white space on this plate?

So I guess the tip is, someone order the pizza. Chances are someone at the table will still be hungry enough to finish it if you can’t. If I would’ve then I probably could’ve given my leftovers to Shane. And he would’ve been happier.

Although the server did mention that if you come for lunch the pizza is cheaper and more sized for one person, so that’s also something to keep in mind. Same pizza, just more manageable for one person (whose name isn’t Shane anyway). Not sure what exactly cheaper means, but the dinner portions are $14-$17, just to give you an idea.

Another tip, eat the bread and butter they bring to the table. Delicious.

Little pockets of heaven

Little pockets of heaven

This was definitely one of our pricier WTGW adventures – but then again this was far from a dive bar with food that comes from a fryer. They do have reasonably priced sandwiches on the menu ($11-$14) and also bottled domestic beers for $3-$5 each – but of course we went all out with mixed drinks, apps, and actual meal choices. I mean, it has been three months, y’all. Come on.

But by comparison, for the price of one of our meals at The Twisted Olive we could’ve gone to The Windsor Pub and gotten three giant burgers, fries and pretty much an entire bottle of rum contained within three mixed drinks. But we also would’ve been sitting in a booth with ripped plastic seats and no windows to look out of. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. Just giving it some perspective.

Anyway, I could definitely see us coming back here for a bottle of wine and apps on the patio, as it’s a great atmosphere for that and we definitely had a wonderful summer night to be out there. Service was great, the food was delicious (if only there was more of it) and the patio is most certainly a huge selling point. We’re definitely glad to be back to WTGW adventures, though, and this was a great way to start … even if we did miss our two other partners in crime …

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks: Mixed drinks were good, and the guys were of course wowed by the various Bloody Mary options. Saw several folks with martinis but I opted not to go down that road.
Food: This is a “fancy” food place – so be prepared for smaller portions that are more about presentation than volume.
Service: Personable, funny and quick – three of our favorite things.
Overall: This is one of those places I could see us going back to for a special occasion dinner, or just to have a glass of wine on the patio on a summer night. As long as we feed Shane elsewhere beforehand.

Next Pick: Shane

The Twisted Olive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 3/23/16: Memories Fine Food & Spirits, Richfield

Unabomber ... I mean Jerrid
Standard

“Mem-ries … light the corners of my mind … Misty water-colored mem-ries … of the way we were …”

Yeah, just try to get that out of your head for the next day or so. And join the club.

And I think the memories of this restaurant will fade far sooner than that song takes to leave any of our minds. “Not Memorable” woud’ve been a better name for the place.

Oh wait, did I give away the ending of this review too soon? Rats.

So none of us are really sure how we missed picking Memories until now, because it didn’t seem like we recently missed a grand opening, and the building itself clearly isn’t new. In fact, as we drove through the parking lot I believe Shane’s words were “oh look, it’s an old Arby’s.” Because we know how comfortable he is in converted fast food joints. We could only hope they would have booster seats … but alas, we were disappointed.

It wouldn’t be the last time of the evening, just FYI.

Because this is, in fact, an old fast food establishment, it translates into a strange set up for a bar & grille. You walk in on the side of the place – like you do for most fast food places – which means you immediately face the giant horseshoe bar with seats all around and a few small tables to the sides. So basically if you’re like us and have anything over a group of four, you’re out of luck for seating in the bar area and get stuck over in the “dining room.”

I mean, unless you want to be really mean and make one person from your group sit my themselves at another table. Or are lucky enough to score five or six seats together at the bar. We clearly are not that cruel or resourceful. *sigh*

And let’s face it, the dining room is just not so fun. Just calling it the dining room, instead of the bar, is like telling us we’re sitting at the kid’s table with plastic silverware while all the cool adults get to have fun with sharp knives in the other room. In this case, the fine amenities in Memories dining room include small TVs with no sound, and servers who apparently aren’t happy to be there.

Yay us!

The next thing we noticed about Memories is that the menu is all over the place. Like there are no specialties here, or one particular type of food that they feature prominently. They’ve got a few burgers and sandwiches. Ok. And then there was probably the largest selection of salads I think I’ve ever seen in any of our WTGW picks … not to mention an actual salad bar. There’s a first. Then you’ve got your pizza and pasta (so the Italian section), seafood, Mexican (including an insert to the menu touting new Chipotle-esque rice bowls and burritos), and what’s a good bar and grille without a fine selection of German food?

Right.

So since we were all a bit confused, of course Shane does his customary “what’s good here?” ask of the server, to get a feel for what people usually order, or what she recommends.

Her response: “Yeah, the food’s good.”

Um, OK. Points for being super helpful, thanks.

When pressed she finally admitted that the German stuff was good. And all of the new Mexican dishes. Oh, and the burgers.

So, wait … what did we leave out exactly?

Also, as she noticed me looking at the beer list on the back of the menu trying to figure out what to order she announced “Oh, yeah, that’s outdated. They’re printing new ones soon.” Which you would think would be followed up with a helpful “But let me just tell you what we do have instead.”

But you would be wrong.

So naturally Shane and I went the easy route and just blurted out Miller Lites as our drink. Ted asked for dark beer and ordered one she said they had … but then she came back and said they didn’t have it anymore. And of course didn’t offer an alternative … because, well, her. So Ted basically just told her to bring him the darkest beer she could find.

Are you picking up on the fact that really our server wasn’t exactly the highlight of our evening? Not the most personable, that one. It’s like someone forgot to tell her that being a server does in fact involve actually talking to the customers.

Jerrid and Amanda were late to the party since Amanda started a new job and works later hours now. So Shane, Ted and I went ahead and started with apps. Which included a veggie basket for Shane and I – which sounds way healthier than it is since they leave the “fried” out of the title (but it was in the description so don’t think we were horribly surprised – please, do you really you think Shane would actually order a huge plate of plain vegetables?) and also six of the cajun wings for each of the boys.

Ted’s first comment upon trying the wing was that they tasted like breadcrumbs mixed with cayenne pepper. Because that sounds appealing. They didn’t have a lot of flavor at all. I mean, the guys still ate them anyway (please) – but they definitely weren’t the best ever.

Mmm, breadcrumbs. Delicious.

Mmm, breadcrumbs. Delicious.

Meanwhile I picked up a fried veggie and lost about 10 layers of skin on the roof of my mouth when I bit in. Were these cooked on the surface of the sun? For real. Also interesting – the fried veggies come served on a bed of french fries. Because why leave out potatoes? Or more things fried? Seriously. But the fries were actually really, really good. Like so good that I would’ve traded some of the breadcrumb-laden-and-deep-fried veggies for more fries.

Just dump a bunch of stuff in the fryer and cook it at 1,000 degrees

Just dump a bunch of stuff in the fryer and cook it at 1,000 degrees

We ordered before the other two arrived, and our food got there just as they showed up. Which proved slightly helpful for them when the annoyed-because-two-more-people-just-showed-up-that-she-now-had-to-converse-with server came by about two seconds after they sat down to ask what they wanted.

Shane ordered the eggplant parm, one of his usual favorites at Italian places so he thought why not try it at this non-descript bar & grille. Good plan. And it looked promising when it arrived, as a giant plate of food appeared in front of him. So of course he was super excited … until he tasted it. And then he was extremely sad that he had this much food sitting in front of him that, while he was hungry, he wasn’t excited at all to eat. He said the noodles were very greasy, and overall just not good. Now, I’m not sure how you make noodles greasy, but apparently somehow they managed.

Lots of food. Not a lot of taste.

Lots of food. Not a lot of taste.

He actually even had to switch to diet coke (without rum, gasp!) because the beer was not mixing well with the giant plate of grease noodles.

Ted got the German sampler platter, which is goulash, spitzel, wiener schnitzel, cabbage, and probably a few other really German sounding things – because it also was a huge plate of food. Ted said the best thing on his plate was the red cabbage, which should tell you something.

The view from the German side of the table. Prost!

The view from the German side of the table. Prost!

Ted: As goulash these noodles are terrible. But as beef stroganoff it’s actually pretty good.

Take that as you will.

Rounding out the ethnicity of our table, I got the taco salad. Which my had far too little cheese. Did they think I was Ted and take it all out? I also think I discovered a carrot in there. Because nothing says Mexican food like carrots. So basically to sum up my meal, they just put some bagged salad in the fried shell, topped it with some grade E meat, some super spicy salsa and just a tiny pinch of cheese. Ole!

Maybe they just made this at the salad bar before bringing it over

Maybe they just made this at the salad bar before bringing it over

As mentioned, Jerrid and Amanda arrived just as we were being served our food – as Jerrid laid eyes on Shane’s huge plate of food he was like, yes, that’s what I want, looks great. But fortunately Shane warned him of the greasy noodles … so Jerrid ordered the chicken parm instead. OK. Um, didn’t really avoid the noodles, but way to be different.

Taken with the "extra greasy" photo filter

Taken with the “extra greasy” photo filter

You’ll be glad to know it wasn’t any better. Jerrid rated it mediocre at best.

Amanda got the buffalo chicken sandwich with fries. She agreed that the fries were good. And she said that the sandwich wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t particularly memorable either. Which, when the name of your place is Memories, maybe you need to rethink your menu just a tad. Or hire a new cook. Whatever.

Just eat the fries. Trust us here.

Just eat the fries. Trust us here.

So, yeah, as you can probably already tell, this was definitely not high on our list of best places ever. From the weird atmosphere (who has TVs with no sound when there’s not even a jukebox or other music playing overtop to help drown out the silence?), to the brisk and unhelpful service (just order something, who cares if it’s good?). to the not so great food … well, let’s just say this is one memory we won’t be reliving any time soon.

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Unabomber ... I mean Jerrid

Unabomber … I mean Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks: They have some, but good luck figuring out what they are if you’re stuck sitting in the dining room. Back to the old college “go basic” rule, I guess.
Food: They have that, too, but I really wouldn’t recommend ordering any of it.
Service: Strike three.
Overall: I think what we’ve learned here is that the whole “fine food and spirits” line on the sign is severely misleading. Perhaps “Unmemorable in all ways” might be a better tagline?

Next Pick: Amanda

Memories Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 3/16/16: Foster’s Tavern, Hinckley

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead
Standard

Twas the night before St. Patrick’s Day, and we ended up at … well, not a Irish place. Because it’s not St. Patricks’s Day yet. Try to follow along here kids.

Although when I texted Ted the name of Shane’s pick for this week, his comment was “Fosters? Is that Australian for bar?” Good memory of 90’s alcohol commercials, Ted.

My comment back was that I just hoped it was American for “we have alcohol and good food.”

We really don’t ask for much. I mean, come on.

Anyway, as I mentioned it was Shane’s pick this week, so of course that explains why we’re back in his new favorite town of Hinckley. Because if any of us pick a place there I think he might challenge us to a duel over it, medieval times style. I will say that at least arriving in town during the daylight hours didn’t make it seem quite as scary as the last time we ventured there.Thanks, daylight savings time.

And as long as we’re checking items off the Shane “Must Have” checklist … we also think this place was a house at one time. Seriously, how does he find these places? Its like he plugs variables into a Google search: Is it a house? Is it in Hinckley? Does it get it somewhat questionable reviews? Awesome, I’ll pick it.

Amanda and Jerrid got there first, settled in at a table in the bar and ordered the fried mushrooms as an app. Before we even got there Jerrid was texting Shane pictures of the appetizer. Because it was like $7 for the app, which turned out to be like six mushrooms. Ok, maybe seven – at most. Let’s just say it filled a small appetizer plate, if that tells you anything. And for that price, it makes the mushrooms like a dollar a piece. Now I mean, I’m no vegetable expert or anything, but I’ve seen what a container of mushrooms sells for in the grocery store, and that’s a hell of a markup. Unless the breading made from shredded up $100 bills and gold shavings, which is highly doubtful.

Anyway.

So the first thing I noticed when we arrived at our table was that there was a beer cooler conveniently located directly behind our table – and, more appropriately, my seat at the table. Like an actual refrigerator sized, sliding glass cooler. That actually opened, was unlocked, and functioned as one of two working beer coolers for the bar. Two things about this: 1) seems an odd placement being that far away from the bartender, and 2) so, serve yourself, then? Score!

It's like having a drive thru inside the restaurant

It’s like having a drive thru inside the restaurant

OK, so the server actually did come over and take our beer orders. But at least she didn’t have far to go to bring them over to us. And FYI, Summer Shandy is out already, folks. ‘Tis the season.

Ted got the mussels as an app. Jerrid and Amanda immediately high-fived when he ordered, as they had talked amongst themselves when they saw mussels on the menu that that’s what Ted would choose.

I like that we’ve reached the point in our adventures that we’re running sideboards on the predictability of our menu choices.

Although if those are the rules we’re playing by then I’m slightly disappointed that no one cheered when Shane and I got the cheese sticks. I mean, come on. Something fried with cheese? It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Side note on the cheese sticks: they must use the same breading on those as the mushrooms, because that order was also $7 for like six sticks. I’m seeing a pattern here. Hmm.

Cheese sticks breaded in shaved gold?

Cheese sticks breaded in shaved gold?

The mussels were super garlicky. Like more so than the pizza at Brick Oven – which may now be the standard by which we rate all things garlic. You could smell the garlic on the mussels as the dish was being set on the table, and actually see the minced pieces of garlic in the sauce and over the shells. It was honestly a bit much for me – I tried two of them and couldn’t stomach any more.

Can we get some mussels with this garlic please?

Can we get some mussels with this garlic please?

Ted, on the other hand, loved them. He ate them up like he hadn’t touched food in about a week and a half. And then stacked the shells very neatly.

Mussels with a side of OCD please

Mussels with a side of OCD please

Shane – OK Rain Man, nice job.

But even though Ted was really the only one to consume more than two or four mussels, our vampire-safe status was solidified when the server came back to grab the (what she thought was empty) dish … and proceeded to tip it way too far to one side and cover the table in garlic juice. Because that creates an attractive smell. She apologized profusely while she cleaned it up … although my take on it was that really she just saved all of us from DUIs since if we were to get pulled over we’d certainly smell more of garlic than beer.

Once again, score.

Oh, hey, speaking of which … remember that whole how-great-would-it-be-to-just-help-yourself-to-the-beer-cooler thing? Well we joked about it to the server, and she was like “yeah, that’s fine, just let me know what you take.” Um, OK. Of course we took her up on that. Jerrid and I both took turns getting rounds out of the cooler throughout the course of the night.

There’s something about getting up from your seat and announcing “I’m getting another beer, anyone need anything?” as you place your hand on on the cooler door that just makes you feel right at home. In a bar. That used to be a house.

Right.

Shane and I both got burgers for our meals. The burgers at Foster’s can be either half pound or full pound patties, and they’re fresh made. The only difference in our orders was the toppings (lettuce, tomato, mushroom and swiss for me, and mushroom, onion and swiss for Shane) and the way we had them cooked (pink for him, not so pink for me). We were both impressed that our server managed to remember everything – correctly – without writing it down. Nice.

Because if you can't have garlic, onions are the next best thing

Because if you can’t have garlic, onions are the next best thing

Sorry, Ted, but all that cheese just looks delicious

Sorry, Ted, but all that cheese just looks delicious

We were definitely not disappointed, either. The burgers at Foster’s are great. They are definitely fresh made and cooked to order, as evidenced here:

Rare burger. Otherwise known as, could possibly still be alive.

Rare burger. Otherwise known as, could possibly still be alive.

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead

We each got the half pound burgers, and each of them were huge. Which means I can’t even imagine what trying to eat the full pound burger that they offer must be like. I mean, beyond the obvious “well, imagine eating twice the burger you had in your hand.” … seriously, it’s like here’s your side of cow on a bun, enjoy? I have to imagine it’s probably something close to what we experienced at the Caddyshack Inn down the road a few weeks ago, that’s about the best I can come up with.

Hinckley – home of the massive hamburgers. Who says a town doesn’t need a tagline?

Amanda got the steak sandwich on the warm pretzel bun. She said the bun was what sold her on it, since she had actually just had steak for dinner the night before and wasn’t overly crazy about eating it again. Just goes to show you that pretzel buns are charming little m-fers.

You had me at "pretzel bun"

You had me at “pretzel bun”

In any case, at least it was good, so she didn’t regret her decision. The only bad part was that the charming little bun – in true pretzel fashion – actually had a touch too much salt on it. I looked over once and did a double take at her scraping giant pieces of salt off the top of her sandwich – which, if you can believe, is something that doesn’t happen so often at our table (shocker, right?), so it caught my attention. But other than that her meal was very tasty.

Jerrid and Ted both ordered the triple chicken sandwich. And of course we were all intrigued by the name, and had to discuss what exactly it was that could possibly make it “triple” chicken? Is it three chicken patties on one sandwich? Is it breaded in three times the amount of batter? (after experiencing the appetizer mathematics lesson from earlier in the evening, we already knew the answer to that one) Do they flip it three times before they know it’s done? WHAT??? TELL US?

The great Triple Chicken Mystery of 2016

The great Triple Chicken Mystery of 2016

Sadly, we still have no idea. The sandwiches came out looking like, well, pretty much any other chicken sandwich we’ve ever seen, anywhere. The guys said they were good, though. The chicken was thin, but moist. Which even further confuses the whole “triple” concept (triple moisture maybe? I give up) but whatever.

And BTW, I’d like to point out that there was no cheer for Ted on his sandwich order, because that was completely out of left field for him. I mean, when did he last order anything chicken … that wasn’t in wing form? Fish – check. Steak – check. Burgers – check. Pizza – check. But chicken? This is new.

Although it was still specified to be without cheese, so at least that was consistent. Whew.

Triple the chicken, no cheese

Triple the chicken, minus the cheese

After dinner – and our third round of “let’s open the cooler for more beer” – we got our arms twisted into ordering the Oreo cheesecake for dessert. Because, well, beer and sugar attract one another, I think. In any case, we didn’t regret our choice. First of all – while they weren’t LagerHead’s carrot cake sized pieces, they were still pretty ginormous. And second of all, well, they were just pretty damn delicious. The cook actually delivered the slices to the table herself, and mentioned when she dropped it off that she had made it earlier in the day. Well that’s good to hear. Because who wants two week old cheesecake? Am I right?

Why don't we order dessert more? Especially when it tastes like this?

Why don’t we order dessert more? Especially when it tastes like this?

It’s not every day we get a visit by the cook. Wait, hey – dammit, why didn’t we ask her about the chicken? Stupid delicious cheesecake and beers clouding our judgement. Argh!

Overall Foster’s is a pretty cool little place. It’s definitely “homey” on the inside (see what I did there?) – there are tables kind of tucked into corners, and under stairs, and wedged in next to coolers, and close to the bar … so I can only imagine when it gets crowded in there that it’s a bit snug. There is a whole other room – looks like they may have built on an addition on the one side, as an attempt to fix the whole space issue –  but that space is also, well, a bit boring. No TVs, no bar, no one else sitting over there – so they may want to work on jazzing that area up a bit more if they want to entice people to venture over there.

We all agreed that it was a tad on the pricey side, just given the environment – I mean, you can’t charge steakhouse prices in a dive bar atmosphere – at least the food is good and the people are nice.  did read some reviews that mentioned that the place is not fond of new people or “outsiders” – but fortunately we never experienced any bad service or side eye glances. Unless the real reason the cook came out was to check on how we were feeling after she spit in all of our food … but I’m thinking that was highly unlikely.

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks: Serve yourself beer is a fun concept. Definitely beats straining to see the taps behind the bar, or reading outdated menu listings.
Food: Avoid the appetizers and just order the main course. And if you figure out WTF makes the chicken “triple” please let us know.
Service: Some may say getting beer out of the cooler yourself means the servers are being lazy, but I give them kudos because we never waited for a drink. And bonus points to the server for allowing us to try the new “garlic heaven” perfume they must be debuting here.
Overall: I could definitely see us going back. Although being just down the street from the Caddyshack does create a conundrum. Shane might be on to something with this whole cornering the Hinckley market idea.

Next Pick: Steph
Foster's Tavern of Hinckley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 3/9/16: The Pit Stop Bar & Grille, Sagamore Hills

Steak and potatoes, in a different form
Standard

Don’t you just love when you walk into a place and it smells so fantastic, and that makes you really hungry? And then you get all excited about ordering that particular thing that smells so good you can almost taste it, because it smells so delicious? And then you look over the menu, and realize the thing you’re hungry for – the thing you smell … actually isn’t even available there, because it’s really just the scent wafting in from the carry out place next door.

Well rats.

Such is the case with The Pit Stop Bar & Grille, which is unfortunately situated right next to a Gionino’s Pizzeria, a local carry-out chain that just happens to be one of our favorites.

Perhaps they should maybe think about offering a delivery service next door. Just a thought.

Although, side note, we would not recommend that same service from the place located on the opposite side of The Pit Stop, a little convenience store with what looks to be handmade lettering on the roadside sign out front. We noted that the sign touts “free air.” Right after lottery, fresh bait and tackle, and beer. So, if you ever need a place to, well, breathe … keep that one in mind?

Anyway.

The inside of The Pit Stop is much larger than it appears to be from the outside. I’m not sure how far back the building actually goes, but the “Patio” sign above the long hallway heading toward the kitchen infers perhaps pretty far.

The vastness of the space also inferred that perhaps they should have more than one person working the tables on the floor. However, the evening of our WTGW visit the bartender was apparently pulling double duty as the one-and-only server – which immediately garnered our sympathy, especially since Wednesdays are trivia nights at Pit Stop and the place seemed particularly busy. That being said, I will say that she handled our table well – although there was most certainly a briskness about her, as well as an underlying and unspoken sense of “I’m asking you now what you want because you may not see me again for a while” every time she approached our table. Clearly she was not in the mood for sarcasm or dawdling. Noted.

So for that reason, and since there was no beer list on the menu or table, I tried desperately to scan the taps behind the bar from our table as everyone else was ordering drinks … and then ended up giving up and just ordering a Miller Lite. Sometimes ease of ordering trumps taste.

Also known as, every bar experience in my college days.

Ted asked if they had any dark beers, and was told that they had Guinness and something called Big Butt. Which of course Ted, lover of all drinks with weird names, agreed to sample. BTW, regardless of the server’s attitude, there’s something about their arrival at the table with the words “here’s your sample of Big Butt” that can’t help but make you giggle.

Yes, we’re 15. This has already been established.

Although after that sample we never had the pleasure of hearing those words again, as Ted opted for the Guinness as his actual drink. So I guess Ted and Sir Mix A Lot will never be besties. Because clearly Ted does NOT like Big Butt … and he cannot lie.

Sorry, I had to.

Amanda rounded out the beer orders with a Blue Moon. Shane, who must’ve gotten his fill of beer with the Brick Oven Brew Pub last week, went back to his usual Rum & Diet. Jerrid went the Jack & Coke route – although at one point he made Ted taste his drink because he was convinced the coke was non-existent. According to Ted, it was there, just very subtle.

And we found out at the end of the evening when the bills came that apparently that was because the bartender was pouring Jerrid doubles. Which are apparently $4.50/shot. So for $9 a drink, it definitely should be primarily alcohol. Again, noted.

The server’s return to take food orders pretty much mirrored the level of urgency of her arrival for our drink orders, so we didn’t mess around there. Also since Ted started off the ordering chain – and must’ve been particularly intimidated by the bartender/server, because he kind of just ordered all of his food at once, instead of separating it into appetizers and then meals. So there’s that. Thanks, overachiever.

But I guess if we had ordered apps, Ted’s would’ve been six of the Caribbean Jerk Wings, mine and Shane’s would’ve been the Reuben Quesadilla, and Jerrid and Amanda’s would’ve been the popcorn shrimp. But really since everything came out at once they all just ended up being large side dishes to our main meals. Yay for tables full of food!

Jerrid got the philly cheese steak sandwich with lug nuts – which is “Pit Stop speak” for tater tots. I see what you did there. Clever. Regardless, they were good.

Steak and potatoes, in a different form

Steak and potatoes, in a different form

Amanda tried to order the rueben sandwich as a wrap, and was told the quesadilla was pretty much the same thing (um, well, no, but whatever) so she just went with that. Again, the “don’t stall or argue” persona of our bartender was in full effect.

Can we consider this prep for St Patrick's Day?

Can we consider this prep for St Patrick’s Day?

Since Shane and I also had Amanda’s meal as our “app side,” we all agreed that the Rueben quesadilla was just OK. It’s an interesting twist on a sandwich or the egg rolls we’ve tried other places … but nothing so overwhelmingly wonderful that we have to have it again sometime soon.

Ted got the beer battered cod sandwich, and also opted for the lug nuts on the side. Which he later said were by far the best part of his meal. Hmmm. He also said that it’s pretty difficult to screw up fried fish … but somehow they managed to. Ouch.

When someone asks why we all have clogged arteries, I'm pointing to this picture of fried-ness

When someone asks why we all have clogged arteries, I’m pointing to this picture of fried-ness

Wings from the Carribbean

Wings from the Carribbean

I got six of the Cajun dry rub wings and a basket of fries. I’ll second Ted’s opinion that the side – in my case the fries – was by far the best part of the meal. I mean, the wings were OK – they had decent flavor, but they were just “eh.”

Wings, southern style

Wings, southern style

Shane got 18 wings – 12 garlic and six Caribbean Jerk dry rub. Now, if you’ve been following our adventures, then you know by now that when “I’m hungry and will eat this table if food doesn’t arrive soon” Shane starts offering up the remnants of his meal, that means he wasn’t happy with it. And such was the case with his garlic wings -of all things! – because, well, he claimed they didn’t have enough garlic taste to them. I guess after so many times being served wings with actual chunks of garlic residing on top of them, just getting wings cooked in a garlic sauce was more than a slight disappointment.

Although, just for reference, if you’ll go back to last week’s dinner, Shane was the one complaining that the pizza had too much garlic on it. He’s like the Goldilocks of garlic tastings.

How can they be garlic wings if there are no visible traces of garlic?

How can they be garlic wings if there are no visible traces of garlic?

In any case, this week he left four dead soldiers that no one would claim and he didn’t even take a box for. I actually tried one of the non-garlic garlic wings, and truthfully they didn’t have much flavor. He aslo wasn’t crazy about the carribbean jerk wings, but they were better than the garlic.

All in all, The Pit Stop earned a “thumbs medium” from the group – between the somewhat harsh/rushed service (not really her fault if they were just short staffed, but if that’s how it is all the time I’d be a little worried about the management skills of the owners), Jerrid’s extravagant prices for mixed drinks and the mediocre food, it’s just not a place I think we’ll head back to anytime soon. Also, having Trivia there that evening – something that should’ve at least deferred our attention from all of the factors above – actually didn’t make much of an impression on us either. Particularly since the guy hosting it kind of faded into the background noise of the bar in general instead of rallying the crowd. Maybe don’t quit your day job there mister.

(Sidebar: the lighting in this place was so especially awful – neon! bright spotlights! bar signs! – that I couldn’t do much to doctor up the pictures of us. So you get black & white instead. Let’s call it “artsy.”)

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Jerrid

Drinks: Is it so hard to put a beer list on a table? Related – is it so hard to tell someone when they’re about to be charged $9 for a Jack & Coke? Like maybe before they order their fourth one?
Food: Eh. Maybe we were set up for disappointment from the start with that delicious pizza smell. I’m telling you, that whole Gionino’s carry out idea has legs.
Service: Every order felt like part of the lightning round on a game show. So if you’re indecisive and can’t make a quick decision, this is not the place for you.
Overall: When the fries and tater tots are the highlights of a meal, it’s a pretty clear indication that we won’t be rushing to return.

Next Pick: Shane