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 6/22/16: The Twisted Olive, Green

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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

 

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

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“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

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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

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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

WTGW 3/2/16: Brick Oven Brew Pub, Ellet

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I think Ted and I were unknowingly in a silent competition for who would pick this place first. I vaguely remember him mentioning a brick oven pizza place this past summer, but if I’m not mistaken that turned out to be one of the first nice evenings of the season – and thus we ended up at a patio in the Valley instead. Then I came across it in my searches for new places, and considered it … but the combination of knowing they only serve beer and having a husband who’s prone to rum-and-diet binges didn’t fare well for me to make that pick.

And so the ball fell back into Ted’s court. Which, to his credit, he mentioned that the person who suggested Brick Oven Brew Pub to him as one of our picks did warn him that they don’t have air conditioning … and since the food is made via a giant wood fired brick oven, you can guess how comfortable that might be on a 90+ degree day. Thus why he had to pick it while it was still 30 degrees outside, lest we wait for next winter to roll around.

Upon arriving at BOBP I can completely see how it would be about nine billion degrees in there on a hot summer’s day. The place is literally a small storefront space in a plaza just off the street, and at least half of the space is completely taken up with the giant brick oven and the beer brewing machines. So that leaves one tiny area for tables. Actually, I’m not sure tiny even is the best word to describe the space. Minuscule? Minute? Microscopic? I think you get the idea. I mean, I didn’t count, but if I had to guess I would say there were like 12 or 14 two-top tables configured within the room to accommodate anywhere from dates of two to parties of six.

I’ll let you do the math on just how many people you can feed at one time based on those numbers. Because, well, I’m the writer. We don’t do math in my circles.

Luckily Amanda and Jerrid got there first and let them know we’d be a party of five. So we didn’t have to wait too long for a table – but they did kind of have to rearrange things to make room for us with the other parties that were already dining.

So the takeaway here is if you have a large party, this may not be the place for you to spend an evening. Even if you are good at math.

There’s also a small area partitioned off at the back of the space with a few high tops and some stools at … well .. it’s really not a bar, it’s more like a counter. You could call it a bar only because it faces the beer taps. But, yeah, it’s a counter. I think I’ve seen more dedicated bar space in people’s basements.

So there’s that.

As mentioned, the place brews their own beer. And there’s not a huge selection – I think it changes from time to time, and they may have a few seasonals that appear at different times also. But the night we were there they had four on tap: Cream Ale, Black IPA, German Witte, and Oatmeal Stout.

We started off all with a round of the lightest one, the cream ale. Well, except I-always-have-to-be-different-Ted, who went the complete opposite end to the dark side and got the oatmeal stout. I was intrigued by the description of it … you know, the usual “hints of coffee and chocolate” – which make it sound absolutely delightful – until you get handed something that actually tastes like motor oil and vinegar.

But I asked to try Ted’s when it arrived, and was pleasantly surprised. For once those descriptions actually didn’t lie. There really were hints of coffee and chocolate. And it was very smooth. I approved. And was actually torn between which one I liked better – the lighter cream ale, or the oatmeal stout.

Ted, of course, was incredibly proud.

Since there was success with two of the four beers, for the next round both Ted and I opted for the $5 flight – which is a smaller sampler glass of all four beers. And again, pleasantly surprised. We kind of passed them all around a little to let everyone try, and the opinion was pretty much the same: we liked all of them except the Black IPA. It wasn’t awful – a bit bitter starting out, but no aftertaste like a lot of other IPAs have. Ted said the same – it wasn’t his favorite, but it was better than some of the other IPAs he’s had at other craft breweries. The Witte was also really good, it was a bit citrusy and also very light like the Cream Ale.

Light, dark, repeat

Light, dark, repeat

So the consensus on the alcohol side of things: three out of four beers we would order without hesitation. I’d consider that a win.

I think the guys all had their hearts set on the deep dish pizza, until I pointed out on the menu where it said it was an hour wait. Um, yeah, never mind. Another time maybe.

So instead we ended up with two Sicilian regular crust pizzas, one Sicilian thin crust pizza, and a Supreme regular crust pizza. They really do have more options than that – but, well, I guess the rule about ordering something different for the sake of trying a bit of everything kind of went out the window somewhere in these past 2.5 years.

Four pizzas for five people? Seems totally reasonable.

Four pizzas for five people? Seems totally reasonable.

Shane ordered first and got the large Sicilian on a thin crust – for himself.

Me: well I guess we aren’t sharing then, thanks honey.

So I got the small Supreme. Just for me. Take that.

One of these things is not like the other

One of these things is not like the other

Jerrid and Amanda shared the large Sicilian regular crust (see, they can share), and Ted also got the same thing just for himself.

The popular pizza choice of the evening.

The popular pizza choice of the evening.

For appetizers – because I guess we thought entire pizzas wouldn’t be enough food … oh, wait, it’s us, that makes total sense – Jerrid and Amanda also got cheese sticks, and Shane and I got the dough sticks, which are essentially just pieces of their dough rolled into sticks and fired in the oven. We were really happy with them – while they weren’t as soft and “pillowy” as some places we’ve tried, they weren’t hard as a rock either. Balance is good.

Oh look, a plate of carbs. Yippee!

Oh look, a plate of carbs. Yippee!

Ted's favorite meal! Ha.

Ted’s favorite meal! Ha.

None of us ordered the stromboli, but we noticed that another couple at a table near us (which, really, means they were practically sitting with us, given the size of the place) each got one, and they looked delicious. And huge. Not that one place in Kent where the waitress looked at Amanda and I like we were crazy for each ordering a large one for ourselves kind of huge – but still really big nonetheless.

Everyone really liked the pizza here at BOBP. It had good flavor, good sauce, and just enough on the toppings without going overboard.

Ted actually said he liked the pizza so much, he said he would put it in his Top Five. Wow. I mean, if you follow us enough then by now you realize just how much of a compliment that is.

The only Debbie Downer of the bunch was Shane. Mr. Garlic King himself actually said it was TOO garlicky for him. Wait, what? I didn’t realize such a thing existed. I mean, this is the guy who orders French fries and wings that are soaked in garlic, which actual cloves on the top. I’m half surprised he hasn’t asked a place yet to just deep fry a bulb of garlic and serve it to him. But yet this pizza was “too much.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong – he still ate it. He just thought it was a bit much. Hmm.

Pizza, artistic style

Pizza, artistic style

Maybe it was the alcohol, or just because everyone other than me had the garlic pizza and had to cleanse their palates, but when Jerrid noticed the note on the specials chalk board for “S’mores dessert pizza” we all jumped on it like it was the next rendition of sliced bread. Shane and I got one to take home, as did Amanda and Jerrid.

Did someone say dessert to go?

Did someone say dessert to go?

We actually tried a slice each when we got home … and I have to say that we were not very impressed. I feel like this pizza was their rendition of the tricky beer descriptions – the S’mores pizza sounded and looked so much better than how it actually tasted. We agreed that it was actually the crust that ruined it for us. The toppings were good … but they put them on the same crust as what they use for all of the pizzas at BOBP. Which is good for actual pizza … but for dessert pizza, you almost need like a graham cracker crust, or cookie crust, or cinnamon … something other than just plain dough with some chocolate sauce and melted marshmallows on it. Boo.

But other than that, all in all, Brick Oven Brew Pub was a win for our group. The beers were good – for being home brewed, they were all very smooth and definitely easily drinkable. And the pizzas – while it’s a bit of a wait to get them to the table – are definitely worth it. It would be great to see them expand their dining facilities so that you don’t have to wait forever for a table for a group of more than two people – I mean, we were there on a Wednesday, and it was packed (well, “packed” for a place that only serves … well, whatever number you math geniuses came up with earlier in this post) – so I can’t imagine how it is on a Friday or Saturday. I mean, if it’s a really cold night, could you just get the special “inside the oven” seating maybe? Asking for a friend.

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Shane, the only downer of the group

Shane, the only downer of the group

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  So, if you don’t like beer you’re out of luck. Although with a name that ends in “brew pub” you should probably have known this already.
Food: Likewise, if you don’t like Italian food – primarily pizza or stromboli – your review of this place will be vastly different than ours.
Service: I think perhaps our table was probably one of the neediest – at least in terms of alcohol – that they’ve seen for a bit … but they kept up well. And by “they” I mean the one person working all the tables.
Overall: Great little place. But if you’re anything more than a party of two it the size of the place lends itself more to just getting a few pizzas and a growler to go.

Next Pick: Jerrid

Brickoven Brewpub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

WTGW 2/24/16: Pat Dee’s Tavern, Northfield

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OK, so first of all, if you’re going to have a front door, placed strategically underneath your establishment’s sign and with a path from the parking lot leading straight to it, said door should probably be functional, no? I mean, call me crazy and all, but it doesn’t seem that out of reason. That was just our initial thought, anyway … as Ted and I were adventurously touring the exterior of the building trying to find the way in. So that was fun.

Because nothing screams “we’re new here” like walking around buildings in the pouring rain looking for the entrance.

(And, in case you’re wondering, the door is actually right by said path from the parking lot, next to the patio. Learn from our mistakes.)

So, the inside of Pat Dee’s is kind of like a rec hall. Or a church basement. If church basements had bars, anyway. The dining room is essentially random sized tables strewn about and covered with plastic tablecloths. I was kind of having flashbacks to any wedding or child’s birthday party ever attended from 1982 through 1990 – a.k.a. before things got all “fancy.”

To Amanda’s credit, she had her eye on the large circular table with the pretty floral tablecloth, but, alas, it was taken – so we were stuck with a rectangular table draped in plain white. So much for ambiance.

While we’re talking about the layout of the place, I should mention the other thing we found slightly weird – which is the placement of the restrooms. In the exact center of the room. Hmm. It kind of reminded us of that dark and somewhat scary place in Richfield where Ted got the meat on the stick.

(And, yes, this is how we talk about places after we’ve visited them. After almost three years and this many restaurants visited, references really do come down to “the place with the meat on a stick,” “the place we did shot-skis” and “that place where a stranger asked Amanda to share French fries.” At least this little weekly adventure makes for good stories.)

Anyway.

Shane was working late this week, so we kind of showed up to Pat Dee’s in shifts – Amanda and Jerrid first, Ted and me second and then Shane.

Amanda and Jerrid already had their Miller Lites when Ted and I arrived, which is where I landed on the drink scale as well. Ted went with a Jack & coke because, well, it was just easier than asking our soft spoken and semi-hard-of-hearing waitress anything about the types of beer they actually had there.

Jerrid and Amanda decided to share a pizza, as they heard it was supposed to be one of the specialties – and since they don’t live far from the place, it could potentially end up as a good carry out option in the future. They went with the make-your-own option, choosing pepperoni, mushrooms and black olives.

One side of the oven is clearly a bit hotter than the other, no?

One side of the oven is clearly a bit hotter than the other, no?

Amanda commented that the pizza was definitely fresh – and not frozen with just some extra cheese thrown on it like that place we went to in Solon that to this day we still can’t pronounce. Also, in the great “is the sauce sweet or not” debate (second only to the “are your burgers made fresh and how thick are they?” quiz in frequently discussed topics by our group) she said this one was not, but that it was still very good. They both agreed that the take out option was very likely. So, score.

Jerrid also got six of the garlic wings. Which came out with actual chunks of garlic on them. How is it we continuously find these places that serve garlic in this fashion? I think by this point with the sheer amount of garlic this group has consumed this way we would pretty much be immune if some sort of vampire apocolypse occurs.

Alternate name of these wings: Vampire Killers

Alternate name of these wings: Vampire Killers

He saved one for Shane, because he knew it would be right up Shane’s alley. And, well, bromance.

Ted got six of the cajun wings … in addition to the full ribeye steak dinner. Because, well, that’s how we roll in this group. The wings were quite large, especially for the price, and he said they were good. He didn’t say as much about the steak, but he did slather it in A-1 as he was eating it, so I can only assume the wings were the better part of that particular meal.

I'll take some chicken in a bath of cajun, please

I’ll take some chicken in a bath of cajun, please

Meat and potatoes

Meat and potatoes

I got the half pound burger with Swiss cheese and mushrooms. I was surprised to find when it came out that it was served on ciabatta bread – which anyone who knows me or reads this blog by now knows you may as well have served that burger to me on a stack of $100 bills, because that’s how rich I felt at that moment. Ciabatta bread = a special slice of heaven for Steph. Usually I eat the burger but surrender the bun halfway through when I don’t have room in my belly to finish the meal … but in this case I was really torn. The burger was really good, very well seasoned and definitely made fresh. But I did leave just under half of it on my plate because … well, ciabatta.

I like the rogue mushrooms on top of the cheese

I like the rogue mushrooms on top of the cheese

I was really having an internal debate with my stomach at the end of my meal for not just being a team player and letting me finish all of it.

It's like a burger sub

It’s like a burger sub

Shane arrived just as we were starting to eat – he took one look at Ted’s steak dinner and ordered one for himself on the spot. He was going to order the garlic wings, too, after trying the one Jerrid saved for him – but then decided he should really not since he “didn’t need that much food.”

So it makes perfect sense that the next time the server came around he asked for an order of cheddar poppers, too. There’s the Shane we all know and love!

Fried cheese trumps wings

Fried cheese trumps wings

Steak dinner x 2

Steak dinner x 2

Shane didn’t say much about his meal – but, like Ted, also used an unusual amount of steak sauce with his dinner, so I’m guessing the steak was a bit on the dry and overcooked side. However, it was cheap, so that helped him choke it down a bit easier I think. For the third WTGW in a row we came in at a record low tab for the amount of food we consumed, with mine and Shane’s just barely reaching $45.

Shane: “That’s for a burger, an app, a complete steak dinner, three huge draft beers and like 27 mixed drinks. Not bad.”

All in all, Pat Dee’s is a great little neighborhood bar. You can tell there are definitely regulars, and Jerrid and Amanda said when they arrived it was busier and it seemed like those people were served a little quicker. But I don’t think it was done with malice – more like just that the waitress knew what those people wanted and got it out of the way first before they got upset with her. Better to take care of the people who will never let you forget how long it took to get their food when they come in the next week than some randoms who you may never see again, right? There’s a reasoning to that, I imagine. But that being said, we weren’t treated as outsiders, or judged because we sat at someone’s particular table. Which, speaking of, I wonder how many times we have to come back before we can reserve the circle table with the festive tablecloth? Just a thought.

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Evolution of a photobomb: part 1

Evolution of a photobomb: part 1

Evolution of a photobomb: part 2 See also: why is there a hand growing out of my back and a head attached to the side of my face?

Evolution of a photobomb: part 2
See also: why is there a hand growing out of my back and a head attached to the side of my face?

Evolution of a photobomb: part 3 Can we just talk for a moment about how Shane looks the same in all three photos?

Evolution of a photobomb: part 3
Can we just talk for a moment about how Shane looks the same in all three photos?

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  If you like domestic beer and mixed drinks, you’ll do well here. If you’re looking for something fancier, well, yeah, you’re definitely in the wrong place. For many reasons.
Food: The menu isn’t huge, but it does have a little bit of everything. Although if you want anything healthy you might want to follow the craft beer drinkers right back out the un-clearly marked front door.
Service: Unfortunately for us we aren’t fluent in “mumble,” so our server – while very nice – was a bit difficult to understand.
Overall: While I think our group brought the median age of thier patrons down a few notches, this is definitely a great little neighborhood place for a quick meal or drinks with friends.

Next Pick: Ted

Pat Dees Pub & Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 2/17/16: Joey’s Kendal Tavern, Massillon

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There are times in your life that you drive 40 minutes for a good burger. This, my friends, would be one of them.

So, I should point out that in reading reviews before picking Joey’s Kendal Tavern this week, I noticed two themes: it’s a great little hometown bar, and they have fantastic burgers.

Check and check.

It’s like someone gift wrapped a WTGW pick for our group. Well, except for the whole my-commute-to-work-downtown-is-actually-shorter-than-the-drive-here thing … but whatever. Have hunger, will travel. That’s kind of one of our unspoken mottos.

So tonight we were a few men down, thanks to a freak garbage disposal accident that put Amanda and Jerrid in kitchen cleanup mode for the evening. Boo. But rest assured the remaining three of us still managed to eat like we were a party of five tonight, so there’s that.

When you walk into Kendal’s you have to make a quick decision about which side of the restaurant you want to sit on. There’s one side with a bar and TVs, and another side with a bunch of tables and no TVs – with a giant wall right smack in between the areas. Hmm. Bet you can’t guess which side we picked, right? It’s like letting a kid chose between sitting in the living room and watching cartoons while eating dinner, or climbing up to the formal adult dining table and listening to the folks talk about work and stock prospects.

In fact, I think that – if I were to go all “Bar Rescue” on this place for just a moment – they would actually be better served to just take that giant wall out and open up the entire space into just one big room, so that way the dining area wasn’t so lonely and quiet. But then again that dividing wall probably holds up the entire upstairs … so maybe they’re being smart there after all.

Anyway.

Kendal’s claims to be Massillon’s oldest bar. Which, when you look around the place, you can totally buy that statement. The paint and wallpaper are a bit outdated, there’s definitely nothing fancy about the place, and it very much has the “old bar” stale smell. Not that any of those are necessarily a bad thing – just observations.

Also, there’s no draft beer. Interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a bar that didn’t have at least two or three staples on tap. I didn’t venture over to the cooler to check out the bottle selection, and instead just went with a basic Miller Lite – which fortunately they did have. Shane went his usual liquor route, rum & diet. Also available.

Meanwhile, Ted asked for the darkest beer they had in bottles. And was served a beer that literally said “dark” on the label.

Well, we have "dark" ... it's, um, dark ...

Well, we have “dark” … it’s, um, dark …

At least the marketing doesn’t lie on this one. After all the descriptions like “made with fresh cinnamon and vanilla with hints of peanut butter and coffee” that we’ve read on beer menus over the years (which, by the way, are complete lies – a beer like that one mentioned above sounds delicious, but really would come out tasting like lima beans and cigarette smoke. You know I’m right. And you’re all thinking of the one beer that duped you in the past. Don’t lie.) – it was a bit refreshing to just have one call it like it is.

Ted’s beer order also got the owners attention, and  – in true Ted fashion – made us a new friend for the evening. The owner – whose name is Joey, I presume – sat at the end of the bar the entire time we were there … but not in a creepy, “I’m-going-to-hover-over-my-employees-and-customers-until-they-think-I-might-be-a-stalker-that-follows-them-home” kind of way. It was more of a take-pride-in-your-establishment-and-truly-care-how-everyone’s-experience-is kind of thing. Every now and then throughout the course of the evening he would overhear part of a conversation and make a comment, or bellow over to ask us how our food was.

And he definitely knew his regulars, of which there were a few who wandered in over the course of the evening. My personal favorite was the guy who walked in, chatted with the owner for a second and barely had his coat off before the bartender opened a can of beer and set in on the bar in front of him.

Shane: Now that’s a regular.
Bartender: Yeah, I just hope as I open that beer he hasn’t changed his mind about his favorite beverage.
Me: Isn’t that the unspoken rule of being a regular, you aren’t allowed to switch without permission?

The bartender got our attention right away with the words “the cheese sticks are handmade.” Yes, we’re easy like that. So naturally Shane and I ordered them as an app – and we were not disappointed. They were delicious. You could definitely could tell they were made fresh, not just string cheese dipped in bread crumbs and frozen until time for deep frying.

Ted:I had no idea until this moment that that’s how cheese sticks are made.

See, that’s what happens when you hate cheese, people. Blasphemy.

There was one more there before I took this photo. Sir Grabby Hands strikes again.

There was one more there before I took this photo. Sir Grabby Hands strikes again.

So, since Joey’s is known for their burgers, of course that’s what we ordered. Yes, we follow the crowd well, thank you. And yes, there’s a reason why people say this about the place.

I got the mushroom Swiss burger with fries. Shane got the Joey burger – which is really the same as my burger but with added onions and two cheeses (Shane chose pepper jack and provolone) instead of one – and also which illicited a “good choice” from the owner at the end of the bar.I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that burger is named after him. Just a thought.

Two cheeses and a burger, please

Two cheeses and a burger, please

There's a burger under all that cheese. Really.

There’s a burger under all that cheese. Really.

Shane completed his order with six of the garlic parm dry rub wings – but only after Ted and I balked that a burger was really ALL the food he was going to order?? I mean, really? Who is this guy?

Very fancy for what basically amounts to tiny fried chicken.

Very fancy for what basically amounts to tiny fried chicken.

Truthfully Ted had every right to give Shane a hard time … after he ordered both a spicy cajun burger (no cheese, of course) AND a full pork chop dinner, which included rice and asparagus as well as a large chop. He could’ve added a second chop for only $4, but decided to hold off on that since … well … you know, he also ordered another entire meal.

Me: so that means one of those meals is technically your appetizer, then, right?

Our bartender just laughed.

All the burgers were delicious. They are definitely freshly made, cooked to order on a nice slightly toasted bun. The “medium” 10 oz patty was still slightly pink inside, which of course made Shane happier than, well, than most people should ever actually get about food. He was even making yummy noises. Usually that’s just Ted’s department.

Ted said that, for being advertised as a “cajun” burger, he did think his could’ve been seasoned a bit better – and that even that giant green hot pepper on the top of it didn’t help the heat much.

Two meals, straight up

Two meals, straight up

BTW, I had to ask WTF that pepper was, because a) you don’t typically see burgers with green coloring on top, and b) from my seat it kind of looked like a large slice of green cheese. Which being that Ted hates cheese – and also that green cheese is, well, disgusting, I was a little intrigued. And was rather relieved to hear it was just a pepper.

But in any case, he said it was still tasty. He actually ended up taking the last few bites home in a box (at the owner’s insistence, who kept referring to it as “tomorrow’s breakfast”) because, well, ordering a pork chop dinner as an appetizer will kind of have that effect, I guess.

Although he did mention on the way home that if he had just had the dinner and not the burger, he would probably still be hungry. So I guess it all worked out then.

The pork chop looks a little less impressive without all the side dishes.

The pork chop looks a little less impressive without all the side dishes.

Meanwhile, the girl in the group barely got through the burger. The only thing that allowed me to eat the last few bites of meat was removing it from the bun. Which kind of killed me, actually, because, well by now you know about my love for carbs.

Burger, bun on

Burger, bun on

And chalk up another week of cheap eats for our group, too – mine and Shane’s tab for this one was only $42. Now granted we didn’t have quite as much food as last week’s meat-and-fried-food-extravaganza at Caddyshack, and I think we each had one less drink than last week, too … but still. Less money spent on food and drinks means more money left over for shoes and purses.

Yes, this is how females think.

All in all, Joey’s Kendal Tavern is a great little neighborhood place. And the best testament to that is that it seems like the actual neighborhood definitely frequents the place.But it wasn’t like everyone turned their attention on the regulars and kicked us new people to the curb when they arrived, either. We never felt out of place, or like we were the outsiders who weren’t invited to the party. In fact, I think once we admitted we had never been in before the owner made it his personal mission to make sure we were having a good time, enjoying our food, and planning to return at some point. Even when we left – it was clearly a group of regulars all sitting at the bar as we were walking out, and they all said “goodbye” and “hope to see you again” as we left – like we’d all been friends for years and not just sharing a space at the bar for a few hours.

Now can you just move the place into our actual neighborhood instead?

Ted

Ted

Steph (and "that guy" apparently)

Steph (and “that guy” apparently)

Shaney happy

Shaney happy

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  It’s a little strange to find a place that doesn’t have draft anything, but I guess when you’re the oldest bar around maybe that just means you’ve been there since before carbonation was invented? In any case, at least they had other beers and hard alcohol, so we definitely weren’t disappointed.
Food: The owner said to us at one point that “you don’t leave my place hungry.” No sir, you definitely do not. Especially if you order a burger.
Service: Excellent. We may have lucked out with the combination of sitting at the bar and being almost the only people in place … but even so, I would venture to guess this is the type of place where no one goes unnoticed or unhelped for long.
Overall: Oh Kendal’s, if only you weren’t over a half hour away. For real. Who can build a homey dive bar with good food right down the street from our house?

Next Pick: Amanda

Joey's Kendal Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato