WTGW 8/8/18: The Upper Deck, Portage Lakes

Standard

I’m not sure how we’ve been doing this for 5 years now – with 3-4 months out of every year pretty much solely devoted to a continuous and seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect patio space – and yet this is the first time we’ve managed to end up at The Upper Deck. I mean, this place appears to have all of our criteria. Alcohol? Check. Bar food? Check. Decent sized patio? Check – and given bonus points for a view overlooking a lake. Great service? Well, OK, you got us there. You can’t win ’em all I guess.

But have I mentioned the view?

Are we on vacation?

I mean, really.

Ted was actually going to pick an Italian place in Ravenna, but once he realized Mother Nature was going to play along and give us a nice evening he called an audible and went with this place instead. Because we can sit inside and eat pasta in December. Or the next time Shane’s pick rolls around, since he claimed “dibs” on that restaurant as soon as Ted mentioned he was giving it up for this week.

It’s cutthroat around these parts.

As we pulled into the parking lot for The Upper Deck it became painfully obvious that we weren’t the only ones smart enough to realize Mother Nature only stops being a whore for so long, and that we really should drop everything to take advantage of the ability to have cocktails outdoors on a nice evening. We found a parking spot, but Ted wanted to run inside to make sure we could secure a table on the patio without having to wait until after dark to actually sit at it.

Because we never get enough of lists within this group, I proudly give to you The Top Five Reasons Not to Leave The Rest of the Group Alone in a Running Car:
1.) Someone will mention re-parking the car before Ted returns
2.) Someone will mention driving the car very close to the edge of the lake or boat ramp and leaving it there
3.) Someone will mention all of us getting out of the car, leaving it running, and hiding nearby to see Ted’s look of confusion when he returns to an empty vehicle
4.) Someone will mention all of us getting out of the car, leaving it running, hiding nearby … and all of us having to run after it as it gets stolen
5.) All of us will come close to forgetting to turn off the car and take the keys with us when Ted finally texts us that he has a table on the patio an we should just go meet him there

Yes, we’re 12. That’s been established repeatedly by this point.

Anyway.

The patio was decently busy, although not as much as one might think for an evening with little humidity and only a slight chance of rain. Ted mentioned that if the patio hadn’t worked we definitely could’ve been seated inside, since there were only about two claimed tables.

We don’t want to be friends with those people.

The server arrived with a drink for Ted before the rest of us even had a chance to look at the drink menu, which prompted us to wonder exactly how long we’d really been waiting in the car after all. Or if Ted was really a regular there and his celebrity status was showing through.

We ended up ordering beers all around, except for Cassi who got a tequila and soda. And then a Truly hard sparkling water after her mixed drink arrived with more than one fruit fly taking an alcohol bath in the glass. John Taffer would not be pleased.

Side note, that Truly almost arrived as a Truth beer, when the server didn’t hear her correctly and asked about Cassi wanting it on draft. Luckily we’re seasoned drinkers and questioned the ability to get hard sparkling water on draft at this point in its young alcoholic shelf life. Life skills, people. Don’t let anyone tell you street smarts aren’t important.

The server started off taking our app orders, and both Cassi and Jason, and Shane and myself ordered the app platters. Which, can I just add, I have a bone to pick with pretty much every other establishment out there for not giving this option more often. It’s like the ultimate slice of heaven for people who like every. single. item. on the app menu. Can’t decide between cheese sticks, onion rings and fried peppers? Now you can have a few of each! I mean, seriously, they all just get thrown into a deep fryer, it’s not like there’s some elaborate cooking skill being exuded here.

Although it does end up sounding like a boatload of food, as Cassi and Jason picked out the mac & cheese bites, soft pretzels and pizza rolls for their platter, while Shane and I chose the same offerings – just switching out the pretzels for a basket of fried peppers. Because clearly we don’t share food.

Ted: Um, I thought we were just ordering apps?
Shane: We are. Duh.

I mean, really, who are we if we aren’t ordering an entire tableful of food for four people? Come on.

Not that it mattered, because even though Ted avoided appetizers in favor of getting wings AND a meal, he was ready to order all the food anyway, so we just went back around the table after his order and put our meals in. I think the server was slightly perplexed.

Newsflash: it wouldn’t be the first time.

Our turn at the perplexed wheel came a few minutes later, when a different server stopped by and dropped off a basket of potato chips at our table. Uh, we didn’t order these? Are they complimentary? Did they have extra and they could tell we were hungry? Did our original server mistakenly tell that other server to take them to our table, and meanwhile someone else is missing out?

I bet you’re not surprised that we ate them without actually uttering any of those questions to the universe. OK maybe someone wondered aloud if they were really free. But we still ate them before asking answers of someone who could actually provide them.

And then the apps arrived, and we thought maybe someone was just watching us to see how gluttonous we could really be when surrounded by plates of food. Uh, have you met us? We eat anything and everything you put in front of us.

One half of the appetizer party at our table

The other half of the fried goodness

The pizza rolls were by far the crowd favorite out of all of the apps in our respective platters. To be honest, I think all of us were expecting a basket of knock off frozen Totino’s to appear in front of us – but these were actually little crispy roll-ups filled with pepperoni and melted cheese. So more taquito than Totino.

They should really put that on the menu. And I should really be in marketing. Oh, wait.

The second runner up was the fried pepper basket, which was seemingly never-ending in addition to being tasty. I made a comment that the ranch dip was kind of spicy, to which Cassi reminded me that I was dipping fried hot banana peppers into it, so that might be more of where the spice was coming from. Noted.

Ted got Cajun wings as his “appetizer”, and then the grilled shrimp dinner with fries and cole slaw for his dinner. Although they all arrived at the same time, so really that was just Ted’s specifications and not ones made public.

It’s like a gradual healthy to non-healthy progression

Ted said the wings were good. He thought they probably would’ve been too hot for most normal people, but to someone who only sweats when eating an actual habenero pepper then they were just fine. He also said the shrimp was grilled perfectly.

I got the Italian sub with onion rings, which was all good. The onion rings were still hot when they hit the table, and they had just the right amount of batter without being all breading. I took home half of the meal, because, well, as I’ve already mentioned, we had a crapload of food at our table already.

Oh look, lunch tomorrow

Shane got the Bleu Cheese Burger. Not to be confused with a blue cheeseburger. Grammar and enunciation is important, kids. One of those things sounds pretty tasty, while the other sounds like something you find in the back of the fridge a few months after you forgot you brought home leftovers.

Meat and fried vegetables. How can you go wrong?

There were no leftovers in this case – Shane liked his burger, as well as the onion rings – so we don’t have to worry about this burger morphing into the other in the depths of our home fridge.

Jason also went the burger route, choosing the Deck Burger with fries. He liked his as well. The photo definitely doesn’t do it justice.

There’s meat under that bun, I swear

Cassi got the portabella salad, which she was impressed with.

Served on the fanciest of disposable plates

What she was not impressed with was our service throughout the evening. This declaration may or may not have come right around the time we tried ordering another round of drinks and completely perplexed the server because we all pretty much said at once that we were ready for another (insert name of our respective drink here). Usually – because let’s be honest, we aren’t always the most polite bunch, so this happens frequently – the server just nods and says something like “so another round” or “so another one for everyone then?” But this time it was like we had just announced that the sky was turning orange and a giant monster was clamoring out of the lake toward us, because she looked equally as if she wanted to ask questions but also run screaming for her life.

Good times.

Despite that, I have to believe we’ll be back to the Upper Deck at some point. Overall our experience was positive: the patio really is pretty great, and while the food was nothing special we haven’t seen elsewhere (well, outside of the pizza rolls anyway – those alone are enough of a reason to come back. Can we just order the sampler platter with three orders of those?), the simple act of enjoying it on a tiered deck next to an outdoor bar and overlooking a lake definitely elevates the standings.

Picked by: Ted

OH – and stay tuned for next week, as Jason may get his very first WTGW pick. He’s not nearly as excited about this as everyone else.

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi’s vote for the food

Cassi’s vote for service

 

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