WTGW 1/17/18: Mantua Corners Bar & Grille

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Alternate title: that time Shane dragged us out to a could-be house in the middle of nowhere and then tried to show off his carpentry skills.

Or: that time we couldn’t find the door to the place and had to semi-stalk a couple of potential regulars who pulled into the parking lot after us on the off chance that they might know how to get in.

Both sound like a super fun night, right? Let’s dig in.

BTW, the door is actually very well lit, and marked with this sign:

Thank you, incredibly obvious sign, for your help this evening

You can see how we were confused.

The place is seat yourself, which seems fairly obvious for some odd reason even though there’s no sign or anything saying as much. Although it should be mentioned that seating ourselves would be easier to do if any of the tables were actually clean, but whatever. Particularly those further away from the entrance door when it’s 10 degrees outside and that air tends to follow people inside every. single. time. the door opens. But, again, whatever.

We asked the server if there was a draft list (beer, that is, not a count on the number of times we might feel a draft from the open door – although that could’ve been useful, too), and she pointed out that it’s written on a giant chalkboard over by the far wall. OK. Ted immediately bolts over to check it out, and was so engrossed in it that he had no idea I was standing right next to him until he turned to walk back. I’m stealthy like that.

We both settled on a salted caramel ale – which for once actually tasted like the name implies. Trust me, I was shocked, too. I’m typically prepared for craft beers with names or descriptions like that to actually end up tasting like battery acid. Mmmm.

Citing his new “healthy” game plan, Shane went with a rum and diet. When you see what he ordered for dinner later you’ll better understand why I imply sarcasm at the use of healthy as an adjective. Cassi, also on a healthy diet plan, ordered an iced tea. As in, non-alcoholic. As in, I think we may have to remind her of the unspoken oath you take when you officially become part of the WTGW crew: your liver suffers for the good of the group. I mean, really.

While we were all deciding on our dinners, Shane decided to take it upon himself to try to fix the incredibly annoyingly wobbly table we were seated at. With coins. Handy guy, that one. Except that it didn’t work, and really just succeeded in making us talk about the obscene things it looked like he was doing under the table.

Thankfully he eventually gave up and went back to studying the menu. But every time one of us moved and the table jerked back in the opposite direction I have to believe it took every ounce of concentration in his brain not to try again.

By now I think you have a good feeling of the ambiance of the place, so let’s move on to food, shall we?

Shane of course gave the server the third degree about what was good on the menu, and the first words out of her mouth were Reuben rolls. Guess what we ordered?

Just give me seven plates of these, please

Fortunately we weren’t disappointed. Just as the server implied, they were were excellent. They were crispy on the outside, and I still have all of the skin on the roof of my mouth after biting into one for the first time, so score.

Everyone else might’ve tried them, too, had Shane not announced with his first bite that he would be double dipping in the sauce. Courteous, I guess? I mean, at least he gave fair warning. Now, that didn’t scare me off from eating them … but then again I am married to the guy, I think that might be part of our vows by this point.

Ted ordered fried pickles, which he was a fan of. We all tried them (no double dipping on that side of the table) and agreed they were very good. I mean, they weren’t 3 Brothers Tavern quality, but then again I don’t think we’ll replicate that anywhere else. Ever. Is it too soon for a revisit just for appetizers there?

We’re ruined on these forever.

Cassi got the veggie quesadilla, which she didn’t say much about, but it looked good from where I was sitting.

If it has vegetables in it, it’s healthy, right?

After a somewhat lengthy internal debate between a burger, the fish dinner and the Italian sub – #thestruggleisreal – I landed on the Upper Deck burger for my meal. It’s a half pound burger smothered in onions, mushrooms and cheese – also known as my burger of choice. It was just OK. As usual I ended up surrendering the bun so I could focus on the meat and toppings … but even then it wasn’t overly impressive. It definitely screamed of frozen patty and not fresh. Booo.

I also opted for the tater tots, which were also just OK. Bummer.

Can I just smother every meal in cheese, please?

Shane got the Corner burger. When he ordered it the server issued the warning that “it’s huge.” Which is like music to Shane’s ears when it comes to food portions.

And this is what arrived:

I’m not sure how that knife is even helpful here

Remember that “healthy” thing? Right.

That sandwich is two half pound patties triple-deckered between three slices of Texas toast. That meal is as much the equivalent of healthy as using a lit tanning bed to get your 8-hours of beauty sleep.

I should also mention that when his food was delivered the girl who set this monstrosity in front of Shane casually mentioned to him something called the Grilled Cheese burger – which she said was literally two grilled cheese sandwiches used as buns for a burger. Oh good Lord. Something more unhealthy than what he had sitting in front of him.

Needless to say he was slightly disappointed he hadn’t been told of that one to begin with.

Although we may be safe on Shane picking this as a revisit just to try that other burger, since he said there wasn’t much flavor to the one he had. He was particularly disappointed in the Texas toast – which I should mention was one of the main deciding factors in ordering that specific sandwich (well, other than the obvious fact that it seemed like the most food on the menu) – as it wasn’t buttered. Come again? How do you not butter Texas toast? I mean, can you even really call it Texas toast without an obscene amount of butter? Otherwise its really just thick bread. And that’s no fun to eat, especially in triplicate.

Meanwhile on the actual healthy side of the table, Cassi went with a Garden salad and six boneless wings.

What the eff is this?

Shane was seriously about to revoke her WTGW card when she ordered the salad … but said that the wings saved her. Barely.

She was happy with the salad. I mean, as happy as you can be with a plate of vegetables while everyone around you consumes something that touched a deep fryer – but whatevs.

In the time-honored battle between steak and AYCE fish (which they apparently offer as a menu item every day here?) Ted decided on steak. Specifically the steak special, which is a 6 oz steak plus choice of potato and a salad for $6. And of course a side of six wings, because, well, there wasn’t enough food at our table already.

It was well worth the $6 just to see Ted painstakingly picking the thinly shredded cheese off his side salad piece by piece.

It looks so dainty

And Shane picking it up after him to eat it.

Beware of the cheese stealer

There is definitely not a picture of Shane under the word “discrete” in the dictionary

The steak, however, was definitely not enough to share.

Is it wrong when the mashed potatoes are bigger than the meat?

Shane: that looks like a maxi pad.
Ted: there’s our quote of the evening.

Now Ted did say the steak was pretty good, despite the thinness. And, I mean, what do you really want for $6 anyway?

He wasn’t as much of a fan of the wings, though, saying they tasted overdone. Cassi agreed. She took most of those home. Sorry, Jason.

Those wings may also be bigger than that steak.

Overall the place isn’t awful, but maybe not at the top of the revisit list. It’s strangely laid out – the room we ate in was this big open room with little house-sized light/fan combos as the only lighting … helpful … then there was a bar past that … and maybe another room? – but none of us ventured that far. In discussion about what the building might’ve been before it became a dining establishment, it seemed it could possibly have been a house? Which wouldn’t be surprising, considering Shane’s track record. And which also of course brought up a recap of other “houses” we’ve eaten in, most of which leaned toward the sketch side. Maybe we need a sketch house tour? We could probably sell tickets to that event.

Also, we nearly forgot to do our photos before we left, so we improvised and did them in the vestibule, much to the entertainment of the folks seated just inside the window. You’re welcome.

Picked by: Shane

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Shane

 

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WTGW 12/20/17: George’s Lounge, Canton

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You know you’re officially part of the WTGW group when you get an official pick. Welcome aboard, Cassi!

The first one is always the most intimidating, because, well, us. I mean, I think there might be a photo of us next to the word ruthless in the dictionary. We get it.

But I have to say Cassi did well with her first pick. I personally was impressed straight off with the fact that she found a place I had never even heard of before. Like hadn’t even crossed my radar. And I keep a damn LIST of places for future reference. Yeah, I’m THAT guy. I know.

Although maybe this one fell to the side because the name had “Lounge” in the title. That’s right up there with “Chalet” on the list of names that probably are frequented by an age group a few demographic rungs above ours.

Fortunately for us, though, George and Gus don’t seem to have the same clientele. I mean, yes, there were older people in attendance. But also much younger than us as well. And businessmen, and guys who could’ve been bikers, and groups of millenials, and date nights … pretty much any group of people you can think of were cycled in and out of this place in the time that we were there. It was quite the interesting group of people under one roof, to say the least.

I think we probably fell under the title of “newbies” to anyone (else) looking to label people that evening, since we walked in and were obviously clueless about how things worked at George’s. Now, to our credit, it’s more than a tad confusing. Let’s do a re-enactment, shall we?

So you walk in the door and basically smack directly into the person unlucky enough to be seated at the bar with their back to the door. Hi, random stranger, nice to meet you. But while their seating location might be unfortunate, the fact that they even have a seat at all is pure luck. Because – as we found out after some awkward loitering and finally the pity of a server who noticed our huddling uncomfortably in a corner at the back and gave us the lowdown – the place is seat yourself, although no sign or person will tell you that right off. The bar is also about the size of my living room, so “seating yourself” becomes a bit of an Olympic sport when you have about 25 barstools and a handful of tables to choose from. There was a strange little back room, too, that Cassi peeked into … but it appeared to be consumed with large groups and someone I believe might’ve been squatting on all of the remaining tables for his friends who were supposedly showing up eventually. Helpful.

I think you could seriously sell “seat at George’s Tavern” online via Facebook Marketplace and make a boatload of money.

Luck smiled on us, though, as we spotted two open seats at the back of the bar … and just as we were about to at least grab those while we scoped out access to a booth (read: stared awkwardly at anyone who looked like they may leave soon), the guys to the right of those two bar seats offered up that they were about to leave and we were welcome to steal their two seats as well. Score.

Obviously they hadn’t thought about that Facebook Marketplace thing yet. You can thank me later, previously kind gentlemen.

The first thing we noticed was that the beer list was rather impressive. Like where are you keeping all of these beers when the place barely holds seating for as many people as there are names on this list?

It’s also divided into sections – $2, $3, $4 and $5 options. Beautiful. Thank you for making this easy.

Well, for us anyway. Cassi and I each chose a Ciderboys cider that we’d both had before and liked. Shane continued his Hamm’s kick (hey, $2!). Ted tried to order something that – according to the bartender – the computer said there should’ve been five left of, but then when she checked the cooler they weren’t there. Whoops. Maybe they found an open booth and were holding it down for future drinkers of their kind.

Undeterred, Ted discovered some milk stout from North High Brewery that looked appetizing, so he went with that. And then changed up to something else completely different for the next round, so I guess that tells you what he thought of that first one.

This week’s food theme seems to be “great minds think alike,” as we all ordered some variation of the same thing it seemed. Starting with apps: Shane and I got the jalapeno cheese poppers, while Cassi got the pepperoni ones.

Ted got pretzel bites, because, well, they don’t contain cheese. Although in a nasty twist of fate, they did come with a cheese dip … which Ted didn’t discover until he dipped a pretzel bite into it and smelled it, then determined it was his nemesis, cheese.

Shane was nice enough to take that one off his hands. What a friend. Of course with this group it’s probably less about friendship and more about not wasting food, especially if it tastes good.

I was a little skeptical of the poppers when they arrived, since they more resembled a Stromboli than the typical jalapenos or bread filled with cream cheese or regular cheese and pepperoni. If they hadn’t said “poppers” when they set them down in front of us I might’ve thought they got the wrong seats.

Dear poppers: you’ve changed since our last meeting

I think someone needs to get the menu writers a dictionary

Although after tasting them I don’t care if they had made them look like a plate of spaghetti, I would eat them without question.  They were that good. Ours came with ranch to dip in, and it was also some of the best ranch I’ve ever tried. I mean, I know that’s not saying much considering I don’t typically eat ranch dip in the first place so the competition isn’t fierce in that category. Whatevs. Maybe the fact that I was eating it at all was the bigger compliment.

Close-call-cheese-incident aside, Ted liked his pretzels. He was also a bit worried when they arrived, since in the “appetizer costume contest” that seemed to be going on here they chose “little deep fried balls of grease” as their cover. Interesting. But they turned out to be really good.

Do they bread the pretzels before they cook them? Do they not realize pretzels are … um … bread??

For dinner it was burgers all around. Fingers crossed I get these picutres in the right order.

Ted got the Spicy Jorge – minus the pepper jack cheese, of course. So maybe it should be renamed the “semi-spicy Jorge” then? Because that really just left some salsa and jalapenos for toppings. Although by his account the jalapenos more than made up for the lack of spicy cheese, since they were definitely of the extra-kick variety. Maybe they used the extra special “we hate cheese so don’t put it on my burger” jar for him.

That’s a lot of toppings in one little boat

Cassi got the Wednesday special burger, which I have no idea now what toppings that included, but do remember that when the server mentioned it to us it sounded pretty good. So there’s that.

No, that’s not mold on Cassi’s bun. It’s the glow from the cooler light behind us. Honestly.

She said it was good. The jalapeno jam that came with it as a spread was super hot, but also super tasty.

Side note: I think this may be the most I’ve used the word “jalapeno” in one post. Hmm.

I made my own burger, using the grass fed beef, ciabatta bread, mozzerella, bacon and mushrooms, with a garlic aioli as a spread. No jalapenos, sorry. But I just felt the need to type the word one more time.

Evil little cup of delicious-sounding condiments. And ditto from Cassi’s burger on the green hue

It was OK. For “medium” it was very, very pink on the inside. Like if I get sick before this post goes up, someone may want to pay George a little visit. Just saying. But the burger itself was still good.

Now the garlic aioli that I thought would be delicious and that I slathered my bun with … well that pretty much made it inedible. I eventually just picked out the burger and ate that – which made me sad because it meant I had to abandon the ciabatta (i.e. my favorite bread and my main reason for making my own burger, as the pre-made options that I liked didn’t come on ciabatta) virtually untouched save for a few bites.

Insert sad face here.

Shane got the Gorgeous George, which is two patties on a regular bun with a fried egg, bacon, sautéed mushrooms and onions.

I know this one is Shane’s because of the Hamm’s in the background

Now, prior to his meal being set down in front of him we were discussing the George’s Challenge, which is three of those sandwiches, along with a full basket of fries and a milkshake. And you have to eat it in 60 minutes.

Shane, inspecting his one sandwich when it arrived: “Those patties are thin, I could add one more.”
Me, not wanting to burst his bubble but knowing he was wrong: “Uh, it’s not three of those patties, it’s three of this same full sandwich. Like six patties, six buns, and all the toppings three times.”

Thus followed a somewhat lengthy discussion of both me and the bartender trying to convince him I was right. Because, well, I was.

Needless to say he didn’t try it. All of us and our health insurance provider appreciate that decision.

Instead we were treated to the show that was Shane trying to eat that giant burger without any utensils of any kind. Namely a knife. Now all of us rational people get that obviously he could’ve asked for one (I mean, I asked for a fork, and lo and behold it arrived) but I guess that was too difficult. More difficult than trying to pick the burger up and eat it on its own? Seems that way. Because he instead basically ate the one patty with the top bun and the other with the bottom bun like two different sandwiches.

He said it was OK, but the burger patties themselves didn’t have much taste. Maybe you have to eat them together to get the full effect? Just a thought.

Our group had mixed feelings on – of all things – the fries. I know they usually don’t get much play in our postings – typical side dish choice, and really, how often does a place really screw up fries?

Well, for Cassi, they didn’t. She got the regular fries “old fashioned sea salt” fries. They were large cut, seasoned well with salt, and tasty. She choose wisely.

The rest of us got the “fancy fries” and chose the “Italian festival” style, which were topped with balsalmic vinegar, garlic and parm cheese. Sounds good, right?

“Sounds” is the operative word there. Well, the guys will tell you they tasted that way as well, but I was less than thrilled. I thought the balsalmic was overwhelming. Like let’s go easy here, I don’t need an entire bottle on my order. Plus I don’t particularly enjoy soggy things, which is what toasted potatoes basically become after a few minutes of any sort of liquid sits on them. See also: why those tiny ketchup containers were invented.

(BTW, if you’re confused by any of our burgers or what these strange things called “fancy fries” really are, there are handy little illustrations on their website you might want to check out. Why don’t all places have picture menus?)

Because Ted apparently felt the need to try all the alcohol this week, he ended the night ordering one of the alcoholic milkshakes – the strawberry, which he didn’t remember what the menu said was in it after he ordered, but it sounded good. And hey, it’s alcohol, so who really cares about the specifics, right?

The server who brought it out was incredibly surprised when he came to drop it off and Ted was the one to claim it. He immediately looked to us girls, and Ted raises his hand and says “it’s mine!” That alone was worth the price.

Overall, George’s is a cute little place, with emphasis on little. The setup reminded me of kind of a step back in time to when places were just bars and didn’t serve food – so you really only needed enough seats for the town alcoholics. The whole no windows thing kind of lends to that effect also, but whatever. We noticed there’s a space up front presumably for live bands, although I can’t even imagine that noise level in this little space. You can tell this place has probably been a neighborhood bar for about forever, and at some point they had to add food in order to keep the doors open. And then once the secret got out that they had decent burgers it became a pretty hot little spot in the downtown Canton area. Now we all admitted that we’re a little ruined on burgers after the Akron adventure of a few weeks ago, so we may not be able to properly rate any others for a bit … but these would definitely rate a revisit if we ever found ourselves back in downtown Canton and needed some good bar food.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Steph

Shane

Ted

George's Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 12/13/17: REVISIT – Pat Dee’s, Northfield

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In tonight’s episode of “let’s face intense weather conditions just to go out to a dive bar and enjoy food and drinks,” Mother Nature throws a giant snowstorm in our faces. So obviously we still are not friends.

For the record, I have to believe there are more subtle ways to remind us of this, but whatever.

In light of that, Shane was supposed to be choosing someplace close to home Which totally explains how we ended up in Northfield. Good call.

The last time we went to Pat Dees, Shane was working late so Ted and I drove separate and met him there, along with Amanda and Jerrid. That night there was a driving downpour rainstorm. So I guess the moral is that we can apparently only visit this place when some sort of precipitation is falling from the sky.

Which is also fun because each visit seems to bring a giant debate about how exactly we get inside the building. Because loitering around outside in rain and snow is a super fun way to start an evening. There’s a door at the very front of the building, and another hidden behind the covered patio that is hardly visible from the parking lot. Guess which was the right one?

I mean, why make it obvious.

The place also sort of resembles a house from the outside. What is it with Shane and these places?

Cassi, as we’re entering:  “Are we going to my Grandma’s house?”

And once we’re in, there’s everything from groups of people younger than us, to hard core drinking regulars, to families. OK then. The marketing slogan must be “something for everyone.”

Shane orders a rum and coke, Ted gets a Christmas Ale (after his usual dark beer inquisition) and Cassi and I get tequila and sodas. Hers arrived with the extra bonus of a dead fruit fly floating in the glass. Thanks for the extra free protein, but maybe ask next time before just assuming it’s what we wanted, k?

For apps it was breaded mushrooms for Ted and for Shane and me, with Cassi choosing tater tots.

Fried potato goodness

It’s still a vegetable, right?

The mushrooms were apparently cooked directly on the surface of the sun. I picked one up and promptly lost a layer of skin on my fingers. I then tried to caution Shane – since he usually needs his food of any kind to be chilled to almost ice cream level – but he was in the middle of a story and ignored my sign language warnings … so he ate one anyway.

I wish I had a picture of his face as that happened.

But regardless, no longer having taste buds didn’t deter us from ordering and eating enough food for us and our 15 imaginary friends.

I got the battered fish dinner, after debating between that and the corned beef. Truth be told I probably should’ve gone the other way. The fish was just OK. And I probably would’ve preferred real tarter sauce to the packets they provided me with. Because after the fruit fly incident, who knows how long those have been lying around.

Almost everything on that plate is the same color

I also remembered quickly what I didn’t like about our last visit to Pat Dees … the battered French fries. Because we need to make them more unhealthy?

Ted got 12 of the Cajun wings and a hamburger. The burger was average, according to Ted. I have to be honest that it looked a little less so from my side of the table – also especially considering what we ate on our last WTGW evening out. But he seemed happy enough with it.

Mmm, charcoal briquettes on a bun

The wings were another story, though, as he had ordered them “wet,” and they arrived actually as dry wings but covered in some sort of grease. Or maybe motor oil?

Thick, gelatinous liquid at the bottom of the basket is always a good sign, no?

Cassi got a pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms. She really liked it, and said that she thought the crust in particular was really good. Her only complaint was that the sauce was a bit too sweet, and there seemed to be too much of it on the pizza. How come there’s never too much of something we really like on pizza? Like cheese? I mean, just sayin.

Looks tasty

Shane also opted for pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms – and also added Italian sausage. He disagreed with Cassi’s observation that the sauce was too sweet, but agreed that it was pretty good overall.

The bigger one must be Shane’s

Side note – we later heard a new table behind us try to order a pizza and they were told the place ran out of pepperoni. I think we may need to take responsibility for that one.

Shane also got six garlic parm wings, a decision he regretted later not only because he was too full after eating only half of the pizza to even touch the wings … but, well, he realized there was some sort of science experiment happening with his wing basket about halfway through our meal.

I can feel my arteries hardening just looking at this

Seriously, what the hell is that?

It’s escaped, and it’s coming for us

Oh good, it hardened. That’s helpful.

By the time the server came over to see if we needed any boxes, Shane’s wings were pretty much glued to the table. She was slightly disapproving and judgemental about the grease slick when Shane pointed to it saying he needed a box.

Shane – it leaked
Server – Mmm hmm

Something tells me this isn’t the first time she’s seen this, so maybe she sould redirect that burning judgement to ownership in purchasing some heavier duty wing baskets.

So basically the moral here is that if you choose wings, you either get them in motor oil (Ted) or Crisco (Shane). Interesting flavor choices. I can see why they didn’t list them on the menu.

Ted, regarding the grease imprisionment of Shanes wings: Well, of all the places we’ve been we can say weve never seen THAT before.

True story.

So basically the consensus is that Pat Dee’s wasn’t our favorite place the first time around, and it’s still holding court at that spot now after a revisit. I’m not exactly sure what Shane was remembering that made him want to return. Maybe he found another door somewhere to a better place?

Picked by: Shane

Rockstar Shane

Ted

Cassi

Steph

 

 

WTGW 9/20/17: Springfield Tavern, Ellet

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You guys. You know how we’re always joking around that we’re going to go to a place and order ALL THE FOOD because we’re so freaking hungry?

This week we did just that. That’s right – we actually ordered every. single. thing. they had on the menu.

You’ll be far less impressed, I’m sure, when you hear exactly what that entailed. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So Shane didn’t venture far this week from his last amazing pick of Theo’s. Although I guess we can just be glad that at least this time there wasn’t an elderly person’s walker greeting us as we walked in. A slightly intimidating maze of doors, sure, but no walkers or sloppily drunk women trying to find their way out.

The Springfield Tavern is smaller on the inside than what it looks. You don’t hear that very often, right? Maybe it’s all the doors. I only needed one hand to count all the tables in the place. And even though they were larger tables, this didn’t seem like exactly the type of place that welcomes strangers to just plop down beside you at the same table a share a meal.

There are seats at the bar, too, but those seemed to be reserved for people barely able to open their eyes.

Sounds delightful so far, no? And we haven’t even touched on the patio outside where we pretty much witnessed soft porn as we drove into the parking lot.

Ah, Fun Wednesdays, you never disappoint. Especially considering this was the first time out for our special guest Cassi. I won’t be surprised if she opts to never accept an invitation from us on this day of the week ever again.

There’s no draft beer at this place. Slightly surprising, but we all do enjoy a mixed drink so at least there’s that. Ted orders a captain and ginger ale, the rest of us order our other mixed drinks … and the bartender (who is also the server, because, well, I think my living room is bigger than this entire bar) as she walks away recites our order back to us … and has Ted’s as a captain and coke. Ted seemed unfazed.

Cassi: You know you’re getting a Captain and Coke right?
Ted: Really? I don’t think so.

Sure enough, as soon as she makes the captain and coke she yells over “wait, was that coke or ginger ale?”

Cassi: Told you so.

So she makes the right drink – and of course she and the other bartender (who may or may not have actually been on shift, or perhaps was just there hanging out? We never really figured that one out) didn’t let the captain and coke go to waste. Guess those hard of hearing skills can be put to some good use after all.

More evidence that this is definitely a drinker’s establishment: Cassi and I had ordered tequila and sodas, and they asked which kind of tequila. Cassi asked for Don Julio, and they responded that they aren’t allowed to keep that one at the bar anymore because they usually are the ones to drink it all.

Classy.

So here comes the part where we ask for menus … and are told that they are currently “redoing the menu.” Um, OK. But no fear, we were instead directed to the neon dry erase board above the bar showcasing the two options for food at the Springfield Tavern: burgers (two, with fries, for $7.99), and wings (10 for $9.99). That’s it.

Granted those are usually our staples anyway, but it’s funny how once you’re presented with those as the ONLY options, you kind of don’t want them anymore.

Well, except for Ted apparently, who – when Shane looked around the table and asked if we were OK with this (since obviously his extensive google searching for reviews on this place failed to alert him to this conundrum) – promptly replies “Sure, sounds great to me!”

Well great. Now the rest of us look like jackasses if we say we don’t want to stay. Thanks, Ted.

And so, yeah, we ordered everything on the menu. Shane and Ted – not surprisingly – each got both the burgers AND the wings for themselves, while Cassi and I each opted for wings with a side of fries.

Wings, take one: Hot

Wings, take two: Arizona Ranch

Wings, take three: BBQ

And last but not least, Mild

The wings were just OK. They were pretty large, so that was a nice revelation. So large that Cassi and I each left a few of our 10 in the basket by the time our meals were over. Probably could’ve done without the fries, in that case, but honestly I kind of thought those were the best part of the meal.

I’m a sucker for good fries fresh from the fryer

I thought the mild wings had some kick to them – and I’m usually in the “yes, I like spicy things” camp. Cassi said her BBQ wings had some heat to them also, which is unusual.

Although maybe we were both just being babies that night, because Ted buzzed through his Hot wings like they were pretzel sticks. Guess they didn’t have the same habenero peppers in them that the place formerly known as Ripper’s Rock House  uses in their drinks.

Shane didn’t say anything about his wings, which leads me to believe they weren’t that great.

The burgers were sold to us by the server as being “smallish” -and so that’s why you get two of them with the meal. So I guess I was kind of expecting sliders to show up at our table. Yeah, no. They were actually more like the size of a McDonald’s regular hamburger. Not huge, but definitely bigger than sliders. Like I couldn’t probably eaten one burger with fries and been happy. But that’s just me. Of course the boys placed their entries for the clean plate club, as usual.

Basic burger and bun, repeat

The guys said they were definitely frozen patties, not fresh – again, not really a surprise given the locale and the vibe of the place. But they also said weren’t cardboard flavored. Score? And also that something about the bun made them “sweet.”

Yeah, I don’t get it either, just reporting back what they said. Don’t shoot the blog writer.

We had to ask about the giant prize wheel they have behind the bar, which we could see but not make out the actual prize selections up for grabs. The server told us that it’s $1.00 to spin, and you can win such fabulous prizes as “free parking” (in the lot that we certainly didn’t pay to park in), “$2 fireball shots” (is it still winning if you have to shell out more money to claim it? It’s like those emails promising 45 billion dollars in a South African bank account in your name if only you provide your social security number, birth date and a check for $1,000), and “free beer yesterday” (slight time/space continuum issue there in claiming that, I think). Finally, a place that appreciates sarcasm as much as I do.

Although I think she may have glossed over what happens to the $1.00 you donate to spin. If I had to guess I’d say perhaps it goes the same route as the two “accidental” Captain and cokes she made Ted over the course of the evening.

Feeling lucky that day, Ted threw in $1 to spin. He won free beer yesterday, which he assured us tasted fantastic.

We all agreed that there was decent people watching … and by that I mean there was lots of epic facial hair, and what I can only assume to be regulars that we were glad left well before we also ventured back out onto the roadways. Maybe getting rid of that menu wasn’t such a good choice after all. I should also mention that while the story about “currently redoing the menu” made it sound like this is a temporary situation, the server seemed pretty happy about the fact that there were only two options up for grabs. So who knows if that will actually change back. Or maybe they just need to start offering “free bread and water” on that magic prize wheel of theirs.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Shane

Ted

Steph

Cassi

WTGW 8/30/17: Dante’s County Line Saloon, Brecksville

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I remember seeing this place years ago when Shane and I stopped in at the country western shop across the street (which, can we just talk for a moment about the randomness of a country western shop – we’re talking cowboy hats, boots, horse riding gear, all the bells and whistles – being across the street from a place with “saloon” in the title? In the middle of northeastern Ohio? It’s like this intersection stepped into 1950s Texas) Anyway, we weren’t sure back then if this place was actually open – and even after looking at reviews prior to tonight’s visit I have to admit I still wasn’t 100% sure. Because that speaks well for business, no?

Also, a sidenote on said reviews …. if you happen to look up Dante’s it seems that either they are talking about two very different places on the same review site, or this Dante’s has been redecorated fairly recently. And neither of those ideas really seem plausible, since the “new” decor doesn’t really look like a recent renovation (unless there’s a new decorating trend to make things look worse than before?) … and also the chances of two places being a name that uses the word “saloon” in the title are less than likely. But OK.

Shane was mad I picked this place, because as soon as we pulled up he knew it had “him” written all over it. I mean, “saloon.” Of course.

There were plenty of cars parked outside – leading us to  assume correctly that it actually was open – but then we walked inside and there’s this teeny tiny interior. Like so small we wondered where all the people driving those cars were hiding. Did we miss a secret entrance to a side room somewhere? Is everyone in the kitchen with the cook? Do half those cars not even run and are just parked there to help people like us believe it’s a real place? Interesting marketing strategy, if that’s the case.

In addition to the small bar and dining room area, there was a giant covered patio out back (which looked more like a park pavilion than a patio) but it also wasn’t too full there. Hmmm.

But back to the inside … there are 12 tables. I counted. And it’s definitely a regulars kind of place. The guys sitting at the table nearest the door weren’t officially bouncers, but they may as well been given the looks they shot us newcomers as we walked in.

There are no draft beers at Dantes, only bottles. That was a touch surprising. Add it to the list, I guess.

I had read that the burgers were good, so I went with the mushroom swiss. I found it odd that the menu gave a description of that particular burger, when it seems pretty obvious by the title. I mean, the saloon burger? Sure, that needs an explanation. The fiesta burger? Again, could use some help here. But the mushroom swiss burger? I think I got this one, thanks.

Ready for your close up there mushrooms?

Anyway, it comes with a side, so I got fries, and then also ordered a small side salad. Balance.

Don’t be fooled, this healthiness will change soon

Shane got the same burger, only he mistakenly got the fritters as a side because he thought the burger automatically came with fries and he was adding on the fritters.

OK, so maybe those explanations are helpful after all.

He also got a pound of the garlic parm wings. Because clearly our table was going to be bare.

When you can see the garlic that’s usually not a good sign for anyone else at the table

Ted got a pound of the Jamaican jerk wings, and also the “Maui steak.” Which spurred a debate later, as I thought that was under the salad portion of the menu, but ted thought it was just a steak prepared “Maui style.” Which he had never had before (quick poll: has anyone ever even heard of that as a way to prepare steak? No? Weird), but was excited to try.

Yeah, I was right, it was a salad. But the presentation was lovey, and he did say later that it was fine, because it turned out to be delicious. It actually earned the distinction as like one of three places he would admit to being happy about ordering a salad from, since it was that good. It should be noted that the other salads that he listed in his top favorites were horribly unhealthy and included toppings like fries and fatty dressings. So score for this place that a real, bona fide, healthy salad made the list.

This is not usually what we see in front of Ted

But going back to our usual array of unhealthy entrees … the wings were huge. And apparently baked on the surface of the sun, as Ted discovered the hard way. Both Ted and Shane agreed that the wings were too salty. The Jamaican jerk was OK as a seasoning, Ted said he wasn’t used to that being a dry rub but it was alright. Shane said his wings were definitely garlicky and he’d not be able to get that taste out of his mouth for some time.

My those at large wings you have there

As far as the burgers, Shane said his didn’t have much flavor and that it wasn’t as big as he was expecting it to be. But I thought it was OK. It was done as ordered, but it wasn’t overly flavorful. Maybe they should put that in the description? I mean, that seems to be the less obvious point about that particular burger anyway.

We did observe that, for tiny, hole-in-the-wall place, though, it looked like there was a real chef in the little kitchen in the back. Like the kind that wears the fancy jacket and all. And he seemed to take real pride in his work. There was no “I went to culinary school and now all I get to cook are obviously described burgers at a saloon” attitude about him. He actually came out once as he was leaving and asked a table how things were, and genuinely cared about the answer.

Dante’s is definitely a place of regulars, but not completely unwelcome. Well, once you get past that initial bouncer table anyway. Although we did notice a difference in the level of service for us versus the regulars. Like, for instance, the server  wouldn’t bring me a second drink until I finished my first. It was  like she didn’t trust me with the glassware. I mean, OK, if you open up our cupboard of glasses at home you would probably notice a few with special bar emblems or sports team schedules printed on them – so, yes, we’ve been known to sneak out a glass from time to time. But these were nothing special. So basically don’t flatter yourselves, Dantes. Please.

Overall I’d say I’m not sure it’s worth the trip back. I mean, if we were in the area and wanted to try out the pavilion area in the back, or if Ted’s in the mood for some healthy greens, then sure. But beyond that, let’s just say it seems we’re better off riding into the sunset toward greener pastures there partners. Yee haw.

Steph … and creepy Shane

Shane

Ted

WTGW 8/23/17: Theo’s Bar & Grill, Ellet

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So as we pulled up to this week’s pick, I made a comment that I think it may well be the smallest building we’ve ever been to. It was like Red Riding Hood walking up to her Grandmother’s cabin in the woods.

It may also potentially be the only place we’ve visited for dinner that you can buy a bag of ice from one of those weird cooler machines located just outside the front door. You know, in case those leftovers need some refrigeration on the drive home, I guess.

Another great first impression:

Aunt Mildred? Are you home?

This was what greeted us as we walked through the front door. Which almost caused Shane to turn and run in the opposite direction, lest his pick be the dive bar version of our infamous Gus’s Chalet. And of course he can’t have that on his record.

Continuing the “we’re just trying to get inside the front door” obstacle course: an older man steering a very drunk, teetering on the edge of passing out older woman through the front door past us.

So far we’re painting a lovely picture, I know. But at least things got better.

The place is definitely tiny inside. But homey, as Shane called it. Maybe in part thanks to these lovely purple-ish table lamps on half of the tables in the place. Classy.

It’s like drinking at your Uncle Joe’s house

I mean, I’m sure they were like $5 each at Big Lots or something like that, but it’s the thought that counts?

Anyway.

We were greeted by quite possibly the softest spoken bartender we’ve ever encountered. It was like she was whispering most of the time. Or maybe we’re going deaf. Either of those are a good possibility. She was super nice, though, and always checked on us when our drinks were low throughout the course of the evening – but every time she left I think we felt like we were on the Seinfeld episode with the low talker.Ted asked about dark beer, and was told there was Shiner Bock, or Yingling, which is “kind of darker.” So, no then. He started with a Shiner and then switched to a jack and coke after the first round.

Shane got a Bud Light and I went with a tequila and soda. Two things to note: they have no draft beer, only botttles … and they pour heavy. I mean, we’re not talking Windsor Pub heavy, but still more than I was expecting.

The menu was bigger than the entire interior of the restaurant, I  think. Very unexpected for a little dive bar. Although when we saw the cook come out of the kitchen and retrieve items from a freezer strategically placed on the other side of the dining room it kind of put things back into perspective a bit.

We tried to order the breaded mushrooms as an app, but were told they were all out. Actually we knew they were all out prior to the low talking server coming to tell us, because we saw the cook consult the freezer, then call the server over to have a little chat. So at least we had time to prepare ourselves for the disappointing news and decide on an alternative. We chose the poppers instead. And calamari. Because, well, all the apps were like $4 each, and we clearly like food, so why not.

The calamari was OK. It was definitely straight from that freezer in the corner, as all the pieces looked like onion rings. And after eating a few of them I identified the breading as being the same as what they use on cheese sticks. So in a way they were really just some onion-ring-cheese-stick-with-no-onion-or-cheese hybrid. Interesting. Kudos to the server for asking us if we wanted some sauce to dip them in, as they usually don’t come with anything. She suggested marinara. I’m thinking after enough requests for that she must have this down pat.

Onion rings or calamari? Your guess.

We were hopeful that maybe the poppers might be homemade instead of frozen, since they arrived looking a bit ununiform – but alas we were wrong. They honestly didn’t have much flavor, which was disappointing. But at least the breading wasn’t the same as the calamari. So there’s that.

Another product of the dining room freezer of wonders

Ted was tempted to order the tilapia entree, since he thought something other than burgers sounded good. But then he noticed the line “if it smells like fish, eat it” on the menu above the seafood section, and that kind of changed his mind a bit. Interesting marketing. If our table was any indication, they may want to rework that.

He went with the Blazin Burger instead. Which the name apparantely doesn’t lie on. He said it was super spicy, that whatever the white sauce was on it (which I think we all thought originally would be some sort of cheese sauce) was really super hot. And that it may even make him sweat. That’s a tall order from someone who once ate a habereno pepper and tried to play it off like it was no big deal

Watch out for that white hot sauce from hell

We asked the server about two burgers on the menu – the Theo’s Best and the Bad Kitty – since both of the descriptions included “lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese and mushrooms.” Like, OK, what’s the difference? Other than a 75 cent price differential anyway. She said one is bigger. And that people always ask her about that. Well, of course, why change the menus, let’s just keep answering questions. Duh.

So I got one and Shane got the other. Mine (supposedly the smaller one) arrived on a regular bun, while Shane’s (supposedly the larger one) was on a hoagie. And when you looked at his from the side you could tell there was more meat in his … but not by much. Like maybe mine was 1/4 lb patty and his was 1/3 lb or something like that.

I mean, it’s 75 cents that separates one from the other, so we get that it wouldn’t be a whole other patty included … but still. It seemed like such a small difference to even warrant two separate line items on the menu. Not to mention stocking two separate sizes of buns. But OK.

That classy lamp messed with my photo skills

Same burger, super sized

We all pretty much agreed that overall the burgers weren’t big enough. I mean, they’re also like $5 each – so I guess we shouldn’t be too picky – but it seemed like they could up the size of the patties overall just a bit. As Ted said, the actual burger was almost secondary to all of the other stuff going on in there. Like you need more meat to compete with all of the toppings. (that’s what she said) He said that he would be willing to pay an extra $2.50 or so to get a whole other patty on the same sandwich, or at least have some sort of option like that for all of the different burgers on the menu. Because, you know, we’re kind of experts on this stuff by now and all.

We also all agreed that the crinkle cut fries (added on for another like $1.25 or $1.50 to each sandwich) were perfect, though. I’m partial to crinkle cuts to begin with, but these ones were done exactly right, crispy on the outside without being mushy on the inside. And they were hot. Perks of a small place, I guess – not much time from kitchen to table.

Theo’s is another of the many places that now has one of those Queen of Hearts drawings on Wednesdays nights (ah, the joys of marketing), so we each ponied up some cash to join in. None of us won, but a guy at the bar has his ticket pulled and the card he turned over earned him $100, so he did want any good alcoholic does … spent his winnings on more booze.

Who knew a little piece of plastic could make people so happy

That worked out well for us, as he announced he was buying the whole bar a round of drinks. Which sounds impressive, until you consider that there were eight people total he was buying for, including himself and his wife. Well, 10 if you count the cook and the server, who also helped themselves to a drink of choice. But hey, we weren’t complaining, and Ted turned around and bought a drink for the winner and his wife in return also to say thank you from our group.

Of course that extra drink left us all a little bit cheerier as we left Theo’s – and it was in some ways a cool little place, but again, as with so many places we visit, not sure if it’s worth the drive to return all that often. However, mine and Shane’s tab, for two mixed drinks, two bottles of beer, two apps and two burgers with fries: $38.75. This is why we love dive bars, folks. We’re cheap dates.

Shane

Ted

Steph

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

 

WTGW 8/9/17: Brewster’s Tavern, Munroe Falls

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Once upon a time we visited a place called Brewsters, tucked back just off Rt 91 in Twinsburg. This is not the same place. But oddly this Brewsters (with no website, just a Facebook page) is also on Rt 91, just further south, a few towns away. I wonder if they’re friends. Or if people in that area just are really, really unoriginal with names.

This Brewsters is also just down the road from Lemongrass Grill, which is another place I had semi-forgotten about but that seriously begs a revisit from us. It was also my backup plan if this Brewsters had looked a little sketch from the moment we entered the parking lot.

Fortunately we didn’t have to worry. While it didn’t end up at the top of our must-revisit list, Brewsters is one of those places that I could see us stopping in at if we happened to be in the area and wanted to grab a quick bite or a drink. We joked that if we lived in the house next door – whose side windows face the open kitchen door – we would likely just yell our orders over every evening. And weigh 400lbs, but that’s a whole other story.

This place is very small – in fact, it reminded me immediately of my last pick, Manchester Tavern. Is it bad that all my picks are starting to resemble one another? I may need to get off of the bar and grill train.

In any case, like Manchester Tavern, the place is sort of split between two areas – at the front, a bar area with seats around it and a small area for high top tables, and at the back a secluded dining room that no one seems to ever actually use. In between are the kitchen, restrooms – and in the case of Brewsters, a series of doors we aren’t really certain on the purpose of.

It’s like they’re trying to make wood paneling out of doors

Ted even tried on our way out to open all three of them. They were locked. Secrets build walls, people. Also, don’t tempt drunk people to procure their own lock pickers.

Once again our lives resemble this show

There’s also a door that leads out to the parking lot and patio, as well as a totally separate door about 5 feet to the side of it that leads also to the patio … and parking lot. I mean, it’s a small patio. Two doors is a bit overkill. But compared to the three on the opposite wall inside that lead to nowhere, I guess it works.

Anyway.

While we’re noticing doors, Shane was quick to point out that at least the men’s room was very clearly marked. I think this will begin to be a part of the rating curve after last week.

No camouflage here

There was a decent mix of crafts and domestics on draft. Shane got his usual Bud Lite, I had the Fat Head’s Bumbleberry, and Ted went with something called Truth. Take that as you will.

All beers arrived in glasses so cold they had ice forming on the side. Another plus on Shane’s list.

Now that’s a cold beer

Once again we flabbergasted (or maybe just annoyed?) a server with the amount of food three people can order and attempt to fit on one small table. We’re getting good at this. I think as we kept adding more and more to our order she was mentally contemplating the ratio of the number of sheets remaining on her pad of paper versus what remained on the menu that we may still want to shovel down our throats.

The aftermath. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew

Shane and I started out with breaded mushrooms – which, honestly, arrived seemingly missing a few pieces. There just didn’t seem to be as many in the basket as I had anticipated or imagined in my head that there would be. But they did arrive straight from that oven strategically placed on the surface of the sun, so score for us I guess. And of course I let hunger cloud my judgement in reaching for one a mere two minutes after they were set on the table in front of me. I’d like to say I learned my lesson and won’t do that again … but we all know that’s not true. Stay tuned next week for another exciting episode of “what will idiot Steph scald the roof of her mouth with this week.”

Even worse, that pain wasn’t even for something amazing. The mushrooms were just OK. My main gripe was with the breading, which I was glad was not as hard as last week’s adventure with cauliflower, but conversely it seemed a little on the mushy side. It’s like we’re stuck in some Goldilocks and the Three Bears vortex of fried vegetables. Fingers crossed that next week will be the “just right” we’ve been waiting for.

Too few and too soft

I got the Big Daddy Wrap, which is basically two burger patties inside a wrap – not chopped up, mind you, but just laid on the wrap and rolled up, which seemed odd – along with lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles and sauce. I’m a sucker for these kind of warps, and I’m happy to say this one didn’t disappoint. It was very filling – like I was physically uncomfortable after eating the whole thing – and the flavor was delicious. It was messy, but most good things are, right?

This is how you wrap up deliciousness

I also got a basket of fries, which were totally unnecesary considering the size of the wrap and also the fact that we had an app as well. Can we just talk for a moment about how to some degree it should be the server’s job to potentially warn us against these things? Like maybe she could warn me that the wrap is really like eating two thin burger patties in one sitting, and maybe I should take my hunger vision off for a minute and contemplate what that really means? Or, when I specifically ask if the wrap comes with anything as a side, she could mention that no, because you won’t need all that food, sweetie? Just a thought. I mean, do a girl a solid here. Unless you want to be in charge of rolling me out one of the myriad of doors later.

These were pointless

Also, so I ask if the sandwich comes with anything and she says no … so I order a basket of fries from the app menu. It’s $2.95, whatever. Well later, upon further inspection of the menu, I see that you can add a side of fries to any wrap or burger for like $1.50. So, OK, that slipped your mind when I asked? Like why have me order a whole separate basket, when you could say hey, pigalicious, maybe you just want the side for $1.50 (and about 4 billion calories) less?

Right.

Moving on.

Shane got the Blue Bacon Burger. I’ll give you three guesses what was on that, and if you don’t say bacon or bleu cheese then you should probably just leave this blog right now and never come back. He said it was very good. So in case you lost your “Shane’s Scale of Deliciousness” decoder ring, that means he really liked it. To translate, Shane’s rating system has three levels: good, very good, or Top 5. So this was a step above the usual, but not so good that it made his ubiquitous Top 5.

There’s a burger under that bun, I swear

He also said that even though they hadn’t asked how he wanted it cooked (usually a telltale sign that either it’s a frozen patty and will be very thin – which this wasn’t – or that they just cook everything medium well to avoid having to put anything back on the grill for those that freak out at the sight of red meat) – but it was still done just how he likes it.

He also got 10 of the boneless wings, which were on special (along with a side of fries) for $6.95. He chose cajun as the seasoning. He said they were OK, nothing special.

Looks similar to last week’s breaded cauliflower

His food twin Ted was only going to get five of the regular wings, but once he heard Shane was getting 10 he couldn’t be outdone and had to change his order. He got 10 of the sweet spicy chili, which he said were OK but didn’t have a lot in the way of spice. The sweet was there, but it appears that the spice missed its Uber on the way to the party. He actually thought maybe they would be better off being renamed “sweet and sticky” wings, since by the end of the meal he ended up with bits of napkin stuck to his hands after vigorous attempts to remove the sauce from his fingers. He had to go wash his hands so as not to glue himself to the table.

Sweet not spicy

Good thing that restroom was clearly marked. I mean, you don’t want hands like that touching all those random doorknobs around the place.

Sadly, the twinsies broke tradition of matching food orders this week, as Ted bypassed the burger in favor of a Cajun Chicken Wrap – saying just that he’d been eating a lot of burgers lately and needed something different. Understandable.

That almost looks healthy. Almost

He said it was good, but just like me he was a bit mystified about the lack of a side – or even the offer from the server to add anything on to the sandwich. Clearly someone needs to train her on the art of upselling. I mean, hello, we’re already ordering ALL THE FOOD, you think $1.50 for a side of fries is going to scare us off? Please.

Let’s look at that table again. Do you think you have to twist our arms to order food here?

At some point in the meal the cook appeared from the kitchen and walked over by our table, then through the door on the wall right next to us. Yet another mystery door in this place. Which we noticed was adorned with a sign advertising Ted’s beer.

Turns out it was just the walk-in cooler, but it sounds better to say that the “door to truth” comes with a cool draft as it closes, no?

Cold hard truth

Brewster’s is a decent little (emphasis on little) place. Ted said that he thought it would make a great lunch spot as opposed to dinner. He cited the fact that you have to add on sides to the burgers and wraps, and how you have to order multiple things just to get a full meal … which apparently in his world would be less annoying at an earlier meal of the day. OK.

But regardless, it’s one of those nice neighborhood bars, where you know the people from the houses and streets nearby stop in to grab a quick bite or watch a game with friends. FYI, that pretty much makes it the template for a place I would like to have appear at the end of our street or in our immediate neighborhood. Just putting that out in the universe.

Which, while that wouldn’t be easy on our waistlines, it would be relatively easy on our wallets, considering our experience tonight. Mine and Shane’s bill was $41, which included a burger, a wrap, a side of fries, a basket of 10 wings with fries, an app, two bud lite drafts and one craft beer draft. Not too shabby. I mean, Shane and Ted were both quick to point out that it was no $7.00 10oz steak special like last week … but then again few places can rival that frugality in our book. Don’t be surprised if Shane’s weekly picks now rotate between revisits to The Dougout, Caddyshack Inn and a random pizza parlor. Mark my words.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Ted

Ted

Shane

Steph