WTGW 2/27/19: County Line Bar & Grille, Hartville

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THE WHERE (we went)

If you google County Line Bar & Grille, you’ll actually come up with two options within our usual WTGW driving radius. One of them, to the east, is in Hartville. And the other one, to the west, is in Rittman.

Hey, remember Rittman?

Yeah, we passed the latter of those options last week on our way to BG’s Main Event. And let’s just say that after that drive I can now see why the place has the nickname “the shack by the tracks.”

See also: why that County Line was not the one we ended up at this evening. Even Shane admitted to that one being far to the side of his sketch meter. Which says probably more than I can ever attempt to here.

Instead we ventured out to Hartville, a few miles to the south of my previous pick of 44Sharp. The drive was far more enjoyable this week without being inundated by blinding snow.

When we finally came up on the place – which is aptly named since it quite literally sits right on the county line – we found the parking lot to be packed. It was like an oasis of parked cars amidst the farm fields.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Who would’ve thought that a little dive bar in the middle of nowhere has the newest trend in hard sparkling waters, Truly? No us, that’s for sure. And even the newest line of tropical flavors. Color us surprised.

Ted asked about dark beer and was found to be drinking this.

Um?

Yeah, exactly. If Sam Adams Cold Snap is a dark beer then Guinness must be like a black hole of liquid death. But Ted said it was either stick with that or go to a Jack and Coke … and since he’s our driver we all agreed to just trust this decision.

Our first observation upon looking at the food menu was that it was super cheap. I mean, burgers for $5.50? Sold.

Shane tried to make the claim that “this may be the cheapest pick ever.” Uh, no. The place with that title is about 10 miles directly north of here. And their burgers come with a generous topping of chiclet onions and a free side of “I can’t believe you’re making me do my job” attitude.

Not taking any chances, though, Shane and I ordered first. You know, just in case this place was in any way a distant cousin of that place to the north.

We started off with the sampler platter, in which you get to choose three items from the appetizer menu, for the bargain price of $9. We chose the breaded mushrooms, onion rings and cheese sticks. None of those items should be a surprise to anyone.

I’ll take an order of everything fried, please

For meals, I got the steak Philly with fries.

Shane got the burger with sautéed mushrooms.

And also 12 wings, because we all know a meal isn’t complete for the guys in this group unless you order two things. When he asked about the type of ranch sauce (dressing vs dry rub) that was on the wings, the server recommended a special concoction that she often orders for herself: something called “spicy ranch,” which included the ranch dressing with a spicy dry rub sprinkled on over top.

Sold.

Onion rings were the only thing in that whole mix that I wasn’t crazy about. The other items on the app platter were good, as was my sandwich – although I did eventually just eat all of the steak and cheese off of the bun, but at least it was just because it was too much food and not because it didn’t taste good. And I used a fork, I’m not a complete heathen.

Shane was a big fan of the server’s special wing concoction. It was just the right amount of spicy.

Cassi, however, didn’t share the same enthusiasm about her wings – six of the spicy garlic boneless wings. She said they had a strange texture, and the flavor wasn’t that great.

Maybe because they look more like chicken nuggets than wings? Just a thought.

Fortunately she also got a regular burger with lettuce, tomato and cheese – which she enjoyed.

There’s definitely lettuce on that one

Jason got the same order as Shane. Because, well, them. He and Cassi also got the fried pickles as an app, and then a little later – after realizing the pickles only came a few to the order – the breaded mushrooms.Which also arrived seemingly a little on the skimpy side portion-wise, but I guess for under $5 you really can’t complain all that much.

I mean, unless you’re us anyway.

There’s a lot of empty space in that basket

Can we all just agree spears of any kind (pickle, Brittany, large throwing objects) are not good?

The other order of fried pickles in the group belonged to Ted. It’s like Dilly D’s all over again up in here. Well, I mean, except that these pickles were actually edible.

Ouch.

Ted also got the strip steak with fries. And a little side car of cole slaw that showed up after the pickles like a second course of the meal.

There’s meat under there somewhere

Our server came back a little while into our meals and asked if we were missing another side of wings. Because three baskets of them on the table along with five actual meals didn’t seem like enough, I guess.

Uh, no room at the inn, sorry.

We told her no, they weren’t ours … but in true us fashion we of course offered to give them a good home. Because, I mean, when do you know this group to refuse food?

So she brought them over. Chalk up some more points, server lady. We already thought you were great, but this sealed the deal.

And of course we ate them. When there was one left in the basket we all played the “who’s the least full” game until Jason took one for the team and consumed it – but not before cursing us all loudly.

THE WHO (we saw)

This is maybe best answered by putting myself into the shoes of a regular at the County Line Bar & Grille on this Wednesday evening, who, if they were writing a similar blog post about the place, would say this:

So this group of people obviously new to the bar showed up at what quite possibly is the busiest time of the evening. They opened the door and spilled into the unexpectedly small-ish room, then had no idea where to go after the door closed behind them. Seeing all the tables full and fewer spots than needed open at the bar, they all just kind of spun around each other like human planets in orbit trying to determine the next move. 

So that was fun.

Fortunately two guys at a table – actual regulars, if I had to guess – took pity on us and offered up their table as they were leaving. Or, as they were done eating and opted to just move to the bar to keep drinking, as I think was more likely the case.

Regardless, we were very appreciative.

We were also appreciative of the server, who was super nice and not at all judgmental that we were not only new to the place but also never seemed to run out of questions. She gets the credit for recommending the “secret” off-menu wing flavor that the guys enjoyed, as well as recognizing when it wasn’t done correctly and sending it back for the kitchen to fix.

Bonus points for the time she showed up carrying an entire round for five people in one trip. Without a serving tray.

Shane was willing to go on record saying if that things kept up in that fashion then she may vault to the top of the list of best servers ever. And we all know we don’t throw those words around lightly in this group.

THE HOW (much we spent)

So that’s $55, for an app platter, two sandwiches, an order of wings, and three rounds of drinks each. I consider that a win.

Another win: Truly for $3.25 a can. In a small dive bar in the middle of nowhere, that seems like a good deal. Also we now judge these drinks on the high $5 price tag we encountered a few weeks ago, so anything below that will get a thumbs up in this group.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

I’d venture to say we would return. The food was decent, the prices cheap, and the service great … so really what more can we ask for? Well, I mean besides the obvious and impossible task of making it closer to home, but you’ll have that.

We also noticed they seem to have a decent sized patio out back, so I would be interested in returning in the summer months to check that out.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Jason

Steph

Shane

Ted, under my curse of bad lighting

Cassi

Jason

 

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