THE WHERE (we went)
Hey kids, it’s patio season again!
And this week’s pick is certainly the poster child for an evening of outdoor dining and drinks. PICK’S is a newer addition to Portage Lakes, and being that it’s located right on the waterfront of course it’s a natural crowd draw. Formerly Nicolette’s Park Place Restaurant and also the catchily named Hook, Line and Drinkers, PICK’s has new owners who remodeled and turned the building into a couple of separate-but-maybe-the-same-but-they-have-different-names-but-share-a-kitchen-but-one-is-trying-to-be-classier-than-the-other venues all under one roof and patio space.
Yet another place that probably should’ve just claimed the name Identity Crisis and been done with it. Seriously, One day we’re going to find a place that takes us up on that concept, whether by our suggestion or not.
Bet you won’t be surprised then that we had a bit of a difficult time trying to figure out just how and where to go to get ourselves a seat in this land of patios and a million names. We walked into the upstairs restaurant first (I believe that one goes by the name Table 530) – but it seemed a little fancy for the patio bar we had heard about and expected to partake in.
So we walked out and followed the noise to the back of the building, where we located a (fully seated) side bar, as well as several layers of decks over the water. And a live band.
About this point we realized we were in the right place, but needed to enlist help in order to ensure a seat. So Jason stopped a girl wearing what looked to be the same shirt that every other worker was wearing, and inquired how we go about getting a table. Her reply? “Yeah, I don’t work over here.” Hmmm. That seems highly unlikely, and more like the answer you give when you just don’t want to be bothered having to find out the real one. Awesome.
We finally flagged down another worker (wearing the same shirt, shocker) – only to have her tell us that we could just basically sit anywhere. Oh. Fabulous. Might want to share that tidbit with the girl who’s raiding your t-shirt stock. Or maybe just make a sign with that information. Just a thought.
All that to say that we ended up with a table inside and not on the patio, since we clearly weren’t the only ones with this idea tonight and we were also late to the literal party. But at least with the garage doors rolled up it was similar to being outside. And it’s only May peeps, hopefully we still have several months ahead of us to stake out that coveted patio table. Chill.
THE WHAT (we ordered)
Hey, look, all the servers are wearing t-shirts advertising White Claw, so at least we know they have it! Yay!
Yeah, just kidding. They’re sold out. Apparently that’s all anyone was drinking over the recent Memorial Day weekend? I mean, guess there’s no sense in restocking or anything.
Oh, wait, the holiday crowd also enjoys Summer Shandy, because they were all out of that also.
Ted ended up with a Guinness. Because nothing says light, summery, patio/beachy drink like a heavy dark Irish beer usually reserved for a winter holiday.
Beer twins Shane and Jason opted for draft Bud Light.
I picked some Michelob Ultra Lime thing, pretty much only because after the two strikes with White Claw and Summer Shandy, it was the most likely option not to be sold out. Well, other than Guinness.
Cassi waited to put a drink order in on that first round, since the White Claw debacle left her unsure of a Plan B. This turned out to be a bad move on her part, since it was at least an hour before the next opportunity arose for her to ask the server to put in a drink order for her.
More on that later.
The Wednesday special is a pepperoni flatbread for $7.99. So why not order that as an app to share?
And by share I mean just for two people to share, not five – so we ended up with two giant pizzas on our table just for appetizers, as well as one order of fried pickles for Ted.
Nothing new there, I know.
Cassi and I both got the Italian Grinder with chips and dip.
Jason got a burger.
Shane got garlic parm wings.
Ted got the perch sandwich and a crock of chili. I seriously think his internal calendar is a little off. I’m not even sure why chili is on a menu in late May, but I would be a little wary. Clearly Ted is a man who takes chances.
The guys also switched to buckets of beer after Ted told them he “saw a sign” stating that they were $12 each. Yeah, he forgot to read the fine print on the sign that says during UFC fights. Whoops.
Also, you’ll notice they didn’t share a bucket. They each got their own. So five beers each, on top of the ones they had ordered in the first round.
I told you Wednesdays were the new Fridays.
Ted’s disappointment was obvious when the fried pickles arrived in the form of spears instead of chips. Note to restaurant owners: stop trying to make this a thing. If we wanted to eat pickles that look like breadsticks we would just go back to Dilly D’s. We do have an unused gift card, after all.
The flatbread was probably the best part of the meal. The crust was good, it had decent flavor, and it was served nice and hot with melted cheese – which may have been the one and only reason Ted was happy he had those fried pickles, in whatever iteration they were served.
Shane liked his wings, said they were tasty.
Cassi was not a fan of the Italian sub, claiming it fell victim to the dreaded curse of the mushy bottom. It’s not just for pizza, kids. Meanwhile, I thought mine was OK. I took half home, just because when you order a meal as an appetizer you kind of end up with a lot of food.
Or at least I tried to take it home anyway. More on that shortly.
THE WHO (we saw)
We miss you. We shouldn’t have to order six buckets of beer at a time just to stay hydrated until we see you again.
Oh and we like food. I mean, we kinda wanted to put that appetizer order in when you arrived with the first round of drinks, but I guess we just didn’t look hungry enough. Our bad.
Also, I’m not sure what kind of commission you get on not handing out boxes, but it must be lucrative. For the record, “I’d love a box” – or, the less friendly derivative, “Still waiting on that box” – isn’t exactly a warm and welcoming reaction to the question “how are you guys doing here?” Staring at plates of half eaten food that we already know we aren’t planning on finishing that evening wasn’t exactly the way we had planned to spend the final hour of our time with you, but I guess you had other ideas for us.
If you want to be mad at someone for the time you bounced up all proud of yourself for bringing the box I had asked for at least four times, only to arrive at our table and see that I already had one … well, you may want to speak with your manager, who knew exactly the correct translation of my mentioned-above answer when he stopped at our table. In fact, I would wager a bet that he spoke with you after we left, so hopefully that’s all clear now.
And when you finally took our credit cards and we felt like the end of this evening may finally be in sight … nope, you marched off to the patio and collected like six more checks. Forgive our mistrust in thinking we were probably going to be paying for Shirley’s PBRs or receiving back Bearded Tom’s Mastercard in place of our own.
Sorry not sorry,
So that pretty much covers the service issue.
Aside from the fun game of rationing out our drinks and taking bets on when we thought we might actually see our server the next time, our entertainment for the evening was a guy singing beach music in the opposite corner of the patio. Well, at least we think that’s what he was singing anyway. It was probably the only time ever that the music volume was more like background noise and less like something we had to scream over to be heard at our own table.
Speaking of screaming, we heard quite of bit of that from several other tables in the vicinity. Usually when he next platter of shots arrived. Seems like vodka may be the next item on the menu to go temporarily unavailable. Just an observation.
THE HOW (much we paid)
Hey, remember those beer buckets? Looks like they were only $15. I mean, still more than the sign Ted saw, but I guess paying only $3 more than anticipated isn’t so bad. We’ll file that under the “could’ve been worse” tab.
THE WHY (we may or may not return)
We all know that service can kill a place for us. And this place definitely tops the list of worst of the worst. I think by the end of the night we had dubbed it the place for which beer buckets were invented – so you can order several beers at once and then never have to see your server again in the course of your stay.
But we also noticed that several other servers seemed to be busting their butts taking care of their patrons. There was one in particular who was mixing up drinks behind the bar as well as hustling out to tables. So I guess if we could guarantee that we were to get one of those servers, we would be more likely to put this place at the top of the return column. Because honestly the food was OK – I mean, we may order some different things, but we all agreed that we would eat there again. And the atmosphere was great, it’s definitely a place to spend a summer evening or weekend afternoon, especially with a good band that you could actually hear, and nice weather.
I happened across this little gem from about a year ago in which the new owner raves about how they are “trying hard to tackle customer service … we want to be customer service friendly.”
Yeah, keep trying there, Donnie. We may just come back again before this summer is over to see how you’re doing.
Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi