So when you see a place repeatedly advertising on Groupon, it can mean one of two things – either the place is new and they’re trying to get their name out to prospective patrons, or that, well, maybe they should just stick to the alcohol side of things. I kept seeing The Grille on Waterloo in my weekly Groupon email deals, and after checking out their menu online was willing to give them a whirl.

The verdict? We’re honestly not sure.

I gotta admit, the area is even slightly more intimidating than the creepy we’re-not-in-business-but-we-are motel we encountered last week. Especially after Amanda informed us over dinner that there was a high profile shooting a few years back at the Rally’s like two doors down. I know, “high profile” and “Rally’s” really aren’t words that belong in the same sentence, but in some ways that just makes this all the more intriguing. But I digress.

So anyway, right off the bat we realize that all four of us have slightly different menus. Huh. That’s a new marketing concept. Then the waitress comes over and further confuses us, as she starts talking about monthly specials … which were completely different from the monthly specials that were featured in one of the menus. Now I realize we’re in the beginning of the month and all, but being that our table could literally count all of the patrons in the bar without using all eight of our hands, I think they had some time to maybe switch that out.

The food was decent – nothing over the top to rave about, but at least edible (which is more than we can say for some of the places we’ve been to). I’m not sure if we’ve stated this yet or not, but Ted is not a fan of anything that includes cheese – I KNOW, RIGHT? – so this was definitely one of those places where his appetizer choices were limited. We ended up with an array of fried foods, all typical of what you’d consider standard bar food: fried mushrooms, deep fried mac n cheese bites, fried cheese ravioli and a 6-er of the pepper wings. Guess which two of those Ted loved the most, ha.

For dinner the boys both had steak, which apparently comes out cooked the same way regardless of whether you tell the waitress medium rare or well. That’s one way to cut down on erroneous orders, I guess. Although they both agreed that the we-must’ve-drenched-this-in-butter-before-cooking-it garlic bread kind of made them forget about the steak. I had the Grille Burger, which even though it was served standard on my favorite bread of all time (ciabatta), I was so full from the appetizers and beer that I wasn’t able to finish it.  Amanda ordered the Cowboy Burger, and was in the same boat as me. I think we were all in agreement that we need to stop ordering so much food.

And of course focus more on the alcohol.

You can't see through Ted's beers
You can’t see through Ted’s beers
Unlike mine.
Unlike mine.

This was also one of those places that won’t ever get accused of hosting after-hours parties, as they pretty much tried to shove us out the door as soon as we had empty plates in front of us. Seriously, I must’ve missed the 27 other parties waiting impatiently for our particular table, because the waitress couldn’t have been quicker to bring our checks. Now I completely understand it being the end of her shift, and wanting to get the hell out and on the way home … but the bar was still open, correct? There’s still someone about 10 feet away from us perfectly capable of pouring beers and opening bottles? Exactly. And I mean, it was all of 8:30 – it’s not like we were keeping anyone until the wee hours of the morning or anything. But whatevs. Point being, if you have people willing to stay and keep spending money – especially when they’re one of only a handful of people in the whole place – I would welcome that. Call me crazy.

See, don't we look crazy?
See, don’t we look crazy?

It may have been because of that treatment – or, who are we kidding, it was because of the beer (as always) that we started talking about all of the great places we’ve been to over the past nearly 5 months that we’ve been doing this. And of course we discussed that the only downfall to our “new place every week” rule is that we’ve not been able to really get back to some of the places we’ve discovered that are actually pretty awesome. So, we decided to start a new adventure … Flashback Fridays. Because, yes, everything has to have a catchy name. Basically one Friday a month we’re going to head back to one of the top places, as decided by a blind draw.

Ted choosing the winner of Flashback Friday
Ted choosing the winner of Flashback Friday

Each of us throws two names in a hat (or basket, or jar, or whatever might be readily available in whatever establishment we happen to be at at the time) – and the one picked is where we go. We’ll be starting this week, with a trip back to the Hoppin Frog Brewery – place we visited back in August. (check out the photos in the “Places we visited pre-blog” gallery on the home page)

Fingers crossed that it’s as good as we remember it …

Picked by: Steph
Drink selection:
The place touts themselves in having a ton of beer on tap. They aren’t lying. Although your server may not know what they are.
Food: OK. Typical bar flair, nothing special.
Service: Could use some work.
Overall: Not sure this one will make the “Friday Flashback” selection basket. 

Next pick – Amanda