WTGW 10/24/18: Green Diamond Grille, Barberton

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OK kids, so after a few weeks of the diviest of dive bars, we definitely classed it up a bit more this week. For one thing, no one had to go on a scavenger hunt for menus – it was actually assumed that we would be eating, and menus were handed to us as we were seated. And then the options inside said menus were a bit more complex than dinner than McDonalds.

I’m not sure how we know how to act in these here fancy places anymore.

Although I think we all had our doubts on the drive in, as the main street leading up to the Green Diamond Grille was more than a little sketch. I mean, it was better than the universe of back roads we found ourselves in last week – but, well, that’s not really so difficult to beat, so that may not really even be worth mentioning.

Anyway.

We were greeted immediately after we walked in, and were told that we could sit in the room behind the main bar or in the dining room. Because we’re allergic to dining rooms, naturally we chose the room by the bar.

Started out with beers all around, although Ted tried to steal mine when it was set down because he couldn’t believe I also ordered a Kentucky Bourbon Ale like he did. I know, my penchant for beers I can actually see through usually diverts me to other choices, but it had been a while since I’d had one of these and it just sounded good. Shane picked up my slack with a Miller Lite, and Jason took advantage of the waning days of fall beer season and ordered a Pumpking. Meanwhile Cassi abstained from alcohol, thanks to a new Whole 30 diet.

This also meant Cassi couldn’t order anything with dairy or carbs – which of course Ted was thrilled to hear about, because for once he wouldn’t be the only one at the table ordering his famous “cheeseburger, hold the cheese.”

It doesn’t make it any less weird, though. Let’s just keep that point clear.

Shane of course asked the server his famous two part questionnaire: what’s good here, and how much food do you get with the order (alternate text: what order gets you the most food for your money).

In response, our server pointed out that the Wednesday special is something called “hunky night” – which, because, I mean, I’m sure it’s totally obvious what that means and all but I’ll explain It anyway, translates to getting the choice a couple of things that have hunks of some sort of meat in it – like sausage or chicken.

Um, OK.

The marketing person at me was screaming at her to please, for the love of all things holy, change the name of that special before you start attracting bachelorette parties and lonely single women thinking a special showing of Magic Mike is on tap for the evening, but I wisely kept these thoughts to myself.

She left us to continue contemplating the menu, and it took all of about 15 seconds for Ted to snap his menu shut, cross his arms across his chest, and declare that this evening was going to be quite expensive on his end.

Well, I mean, in all fairness, for the past two weeks he’s been getting essentially two entrees for under $5, so take that declaration with a bit of a grain of salt.

Ted was apparently won over by this oddly named Wednesday special, so that was what he ordered. He chose the hunky chicken and dumplings … with sausage … and butter noodles … and a cabbage roll … and green beans. I’m about 97.5% certain that he didn’t realize at least three of those things would be included in his meal until the plate came out.

Because he also got mussels to start.

Sounds about right.

But it worked out OK, because the mussels were definitely worth it. Ted said they may have been some of the best he’s ever had.

This could be a meal all in itself

While the rest of the meal didn’t encourage those highest of accolades, it at least didn’t disappoint. He said that the cabbage roll was good and – to use his word – “dense.” I’m not sure exactly how to rate that description, but it seems to live up to Shane’s quest to find the most food on a plate, so there’s that.

He did mention that the rest of the meal had a bit of an identity crisis going on, though, as the sausage tasted of garlic, the hunky chicken contained a little too much sour cream, and the butter noodles ended up actually being cabbage and noodles.

Not that any of those things are necessarily bad, per se – and he still finished his entire meal, so it definitely wasn’t that awful. Maybe they should just change the already-awful name of the dish to “chicken surprise” instead? Just a thought.

That’s like six different meals all put together in one

Cassi did go ahead with her order of the usual “Ted Special” (a.k.a. the burger sans cheese). And then also had to remove the bun once it arrived – which was a shame because it was grilled and not at all mushy – but the things we do for diets, I guess.

Burger, uncovered

She also got a plain baked potato, and side salad – which ended up being just basically lettuce and a few tomatoes because cheese was the other major component to this bowl of supposed vegetables. The server tried to be helpful and asked if she wanted to add on croutons – because I’m guessing no one has actually ever asked to remove all of the non-healthy items before so she wasn’t sure what the novelty was in even ordering it – but of course that was a big no. I think she left the table slightly bewildered.

Mmm, vegetables

Jason got potato skins, after casually mentioning his craving for some fried pickles – another of Cassi’s non-edibles – which of course caused Cassi to bring up that time at Dilly D’s a few months back when she wanted them and he vetoed that choice. Although I said he was kind of saving her back then because those ones were disgusting.

Much better than fried pickle spears

Shane and I went with the pretzel sticks for our app. Shocker, I know. But hit a win on these ones, as they were fried but not too crispy, and very doughy on the inside.

When doughy is a good thing

We also rounded out the burger orders at the table. I got the half pound specialty burger – it had a name, but that escapes me now, all I remember was that it was supposed to come with some sort of parm ranch sauce that I asked for on the side. Because that sounds like something even an adult can’t ingest on a sandwich without wearing a bib of some kind.

Burger, covered

Turns out I never got that side of whatever sauce was left off of my burger. But that’s OK, because instead I ended up with a side of applesauce that I’m not sure ever was actually supposed to come with my meal, as well as this delicious side bowl of goodness:

Maybe pick a different color for the bowl you’re going to fill with cheese next time, no?

That’s right, ask for a side of cheese to dip your fries in, and get something that rivals bowls of soup I’ve had at other restaurants. Score.

Jason and Shane each ordered the one pound burger. So essentially two of the burgers pictured above that I ordered – for each of them. You know its a good meal when the server’s response to that is, “yeah, we don’t sell many of those.”

Hmmm.

Challenge accepted, I guess. I’m not sure if she realized what she did by making that statement. Although her later statement when she came to deliver the checks was that she thought we may have run the kitchen out of burgers just with our table. So there’s that.

The onion ring seems slightly unnecessary

Shane: dreams are made of this

But you know what, we definitely shouldn’t be the only ones ordering the burgers at this place, though, because they were delicious. They were definitely fresh made – I ordered mine medium and it was still pretty pink inside, while Shane ordered his medium rare and it was just past the dead and warmed up stage. So just the way he likes it. It’s been a hot minute since we’ve been to a place that actually cooked them to order like that.

Shane, of course, was in love.

Shane: I’m not sure where to start eating, it’s just so beautiful.

OK.

The Green Diamond Grille is another of those places that falls under the “list of places we wish weren’t over 30 minutes away because we would likely visit them more often.” The food was good, and the service and atmosphere were both decent. It would be an interesting place to check out during a game. Or maybe just any night other than “hunky night.” Because I still can’t believe someone thought this was a good idea, but whatevs. Points for originality?

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Jason

Shaney likey

Ted

Steph

Green Diamond Grille & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 10/3/18: Little City Grill, Kent

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This week’s visit is proof positive that marketing works, folks. And the inventor of the table tent should be damn proud of himself for that stellar invention.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Little City Grill is one of those places that I feel like a few of us have mentioned over the years since its opening, but somehow we just never made it in the door until now. I know I for one have received several Groupon emails with this place as a feature – which, just to give you a little insight into how my consumer mind works when it comes to these emails, can be somewhat intriguing (oh, hey, a new place opened up, making a note to go try it sometime) until it crosses the line into daunting (oh hey, that not-so-new place is STILL getting themselves the featured spot on the Groupon newsletter, maybe business isn’t so good and I should probably read some reviews to see why).

Fascinating, I know. Restaurants, take note.

Space is definitely at a premium inside Little City Grille, so I guess their name is appropriate. The host started to put us at a table in the back room, which would’ve essentially secluded us from the rest of the restaurant – thus making us believe that perhaps our reputation preceded us following last week’s not-made-for-dinner-conversations at the fancy house restaurant.

But then they remembered there was actually at table near the front that would hold the five of us, so we were stationed there instead. Probably a better choice, because I have to believe if you give us our own room where we think no one can hear us then we’ll probably just end up being even louder. We’re like kindergarteners in that respect.

And in several other respects, too, but that’s a tale for another time.

The place has a pretty decent craft beer list, which to my delight also included several ciders. Although – less to my delight – it seems that my curse of ordering the one thing on the menu that they *just* ran out of still holds true. Awesome. I tried to get a cucumber ginger cider – just because, well, it sounded intriguing and I really just wanted to say I tried it … but of course they didn’t have it. I’d like to think that was because it’s probably hideous and the universe was just saving me to trouble of figuring that out on my own. Also, at least the server warned me when I placed the order that he wasn’t sure he had any left so at least I could give him a backup option.

And it wasn’t this.

Spooky beer

Hey, surprise, Shane asked the server what he should order! Shocking, I know. The server didn’t really point out any specifics, but instead mentioned that all of their food was known for including “quality ingredients.”

I’m not sure any of us knew how that would affect our orders. We pretty much just smiled and nodded our way through that conversation.

And then proceeded to ask the server about the one thing that probably has nothing to do with “quality ingredients” on the menu … OK, technically, it wasn’t on the menu – but instead a lovely photographic table tent ad that made them look downright delicious … or maybe we were just hungry … in any case, the one thing on our minds as soon as the server asked if we knew what we wanted was the Flaming Hot Onion Rings.

AM I RIGHT? I mean, you haven’t even seen a photo of these yet and already I know you’re thinking to yourself, damn, that WTGW group sure knows how to find the best food in town.

Well, don’t hold your breath on that photo. Apparently my curse has now extended into the food side of things, since they also were out of those as well. Or, rather, I think they technically HAD them … but the server didn’t advise us to order them. He said the breading “didn’t hold together as well as they had hoped” – and so the creation was nixed.

Ted pointed out that they may want to remove the ad from the tables then. Seems logical, no?

The server laughed … but left the table tent.

OK then.

Shane and I were too disappointed to order another appetizer. Well, OK, that’s only partially true – we didn’t order an app, but more so because we didn’t see anything else on the menu we had to have, so we just went straight to our main orders.

Cassi and Jason picked their heads up out of the sea of disappointment and ordered the tater tots. They arrived in a pitcher, which threw us all off.

That’s an odd drink choice

We’re not sure if this was just to try and make us laugh again after our onion ring letdown, or if this is truly how they’re always served. In any case, it achieved a goal of being one of the stranger things we’ve ever seen, if that’s at all what they were going for.

For meals it was burgers for 3/5 of the table, with Cassi getting the Gourmet Burger, and Shane and Jason both getting the “Curteous” Burger. I’m guessing it’s named after a “Curt” who either created it, or ordered it once and wouldn’t stop raving about it, or orders it every week, or some backstory that the Little City Grill clearly doesn’t think us important enough to be privy to, so I’m just going to make up something on my own, thank you very much.

Burger with a backstory

Really the biggest different between the guys’ burgers and Cassi’s was that theirs came with more toppings. Guess that Curt guy doesn’t care for the plain.

They all said that the burgers were good, although maybe just a touch well done. Shane of course knew this was going to be an issue when the server walked away without asking anyone how they liked their burgers cooked. I mean, not enough of an issue for him to change his order, or even eat less than the entire burger … but at least he saw it coming.

Cassi also commented that her bun was a bit too big for the burger itself – but that it was grilled so that helped lessen the disappointment a little. And it also wasn’t mushy, so there’s that.

It does look a little top heavy

She got a side salad with her sandwich, as did Ted with his meal. If you had to guess, who would you say this salad belonged to?

I’ll take things we don’t see often at our table for $1000 please

Does it make it easier if I mention that the salad is supposed to come with cheese?

There we go. Gave that one away, I know.

Anyway.

The cheese-less salad wasn’t the only thing that Ted ate at Little City Grill – he also got the lamb chop dinner. Classy, right? And here we were trying to order flaming hot onion rings at this same establishment.

Ted fancies up our Fun Wednesday

Ted liked the lamb chops themselves. His issue was with the potatoes that came with his dinner, which he said were cooked in too much oil. He even made a point to show us all how it pooed on his plate after he was finished with the meal.

To which I pointed out that it wasn’t as bad as the oil spill tht followed the Great Northfield Wing Incident a few months back, if that was any consolation.

I still shudder thinking about that. Or dry heave. Whatevs.

I got the Philly cheesesteak with tater tots.

Bar food done right

It was pretty good. The bun was grilled but still soft without being mushy, and the steak was well seasoned and very tasty. The tots were probably my least favorite part of the meal, and you know that means a lot coming from me.

Also, can we just talk for a moment about how that picture of my sub with Ted’s dinner in the background looks like we’re eating at two different places while at the same table? Thanks, Ted. Even his plate is fancier.

Hey, remember the table tent that tried to sell us an imaginary food? The server must’ve felt bad for that incident, because he brought over another table tent as we were finishing up our meal – this time advertising a Black Raspberry Ombre Cake that he assured us actually was available to order.

For once something actually looks like the advertisement photo

I mean, how can you look at this and NOT order it? It’s almost too pretty to even believe it’s real.

Oh, but it is.

GIVE ME ALL THE SUGAR. NOM NOM NOM

We ended up with two orders of that – one for me and Shane, and one for Cassi and Jason. Not one to be deterred by pretty colorful photos, Ted chose the Chocolate Banana Cake from the picture-less traditional menu that the server read off to us. Clearly he’s the one out of the group who doesn’t need the instruction manuals with photo assistance.

No pretty colors here.

The pretty purple cake was good … and while I hate to point out anything wrong with it because it was just so pretty … we all agreed that we felt it could’ve been a little more moist. And no, I’m not just saying that as an excuse to use a word that about 96.7% of the population (myself included) absolutely hates. I mean, the only thing good to come from that word is the HIMYM episode where they all have to go watch Barney’s crappy play about robots.

Also – I mean, as long as we’re going to go ahead and point out things that we didn’t like about the insanely beautiful piece of basked goodness – the icing was pretty much pure sugar. Which, I mean, seems a strange thing to complain about, so I guess I’m not exactly complaining about it … other than to say it was kind of a lot. Maybe the little sugar balls on the frosting that dissolved in your mouth when you bit into them could’ve gone away. Maybe. If I had to choose something.

Although, all complaining aside here, let’s be sure to point our that of course we all still finished it. We’re not amateurs. Please.

Although it’s probably safe to say we didn’t like ours as much as Ted liked his … given that I looked over after like two bites of ours – that two of us were sharing, mind you – and his was nearly gone.

We all agreed that this was the best service we’ve had for a while now. Like we couldn’t remember the last time we had service even remotely close to as good as this. Let’s see … the time we waited past finishing our appetizers to even order our dinners? Nope. Or maybe the time we got newbie server on literally her first day who had never tried anything on the menu? Points for honesty, but no thanks. Or, oh, maybe the time the server seemed to get kidnapped for the majority of our visit? Fun, but not effective. You get the idea. Our server at Little City was very attentive, especially taking into account that he was also working behind the bar as well as handling the tables. Maybe we’ve broken the curse?

Picked by: Jason

Jason, apparently seated in the Halloween section

Steph

Cassi

Shane

Ted

Little City Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/26/18: DelCiello’s, Ravenna

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Note to restaurant owners out there: if you don’t want us to come review your place, you’re best not to even mention that you have anything to do with the restaurant business.

This week is a perfect case in point to that, as Ted has been talking about picking Delciello’s ever since we met the owner at our celebrity judging gig at Aurora Farms this past summer. When Ted said that this would be our place of choice for this week, we kind of thought that meant he would pick the new spot just opened up in Aurora, because hearing the owner talk it seemed like it would have more of our younger, bar-y vibe about it.

But instead Ted threw us for a loop and picked the original location in Ravenna. Which the words “younger” and “bar-y” won’t really come within a three block radius of.

This, from the same person who brought us to Gus’ Chalet. I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Although at first glance it had some potential, as it’s literally situated in a house. Wait, isn’t this Shane’s territory?

Oh, wait, there’s a big long history lesson involved here about why this house is still around. The website references the “historic Jennings House,” which I guess some Ravenna residents refer to as the area’s “white house.”

That’s about as far as I got before I felt myself reverting to 9th grade history class and slowly zoning out.

We didn’t leave it smelling like burger grease and fryers like some of our other house ventures, though, so I guess that counts for something.

So I guess the owners are a husband and wife team, one of which is German and one is Italian. So their idea was to have a restaurant that serves both specialties.

Once again, brought to you by the same person who took us to “Sushi and Bar.” I’m not sure what kind of a reputation Ted is building for himself here.

In any case, at least each specialty has its own menu here, so if you can’t have gluten and don’t want to even tempt yourself with pasta you can just request the German menu … likewise if anything beginning or ending in the word schnitzel just makes you giggle (guilty!) then you can politely hand back the German entree list.

And then there’s also a drink menu. So as you can imagine no one in our group even picked that one up.

I couldn’t even type that without laughing. Please.

It took us a bit to get situated, not only in the proper table but also with the array of menus. The table situation was because, well, since as I mentioned the place is a literal home turned into dining area with a bar smacked down in the center … and it’s a bit more on the “fancy” than “bar food” side, which means it’s usually smaller groups and couples dining together … so there aren’t exactly easy places for a group of five to just slide in without moving some things around.

But you know already we aren’t shy about that.

Anyway.

Opening the menus is a bit like settling in to read a short story to a toddler. Lots of words, and a pretty font to boot. That’s always fun. Cassi admitted she was a tad overwhelmed. I mean, we’ve come a long way from one of her first official WTGW outings, when the place we ended up at only had two things to choose from … and now this.

Anyone need a bedtime story?

Ted of course takes about three seconds to scan the various menus before closing them all in a pile and folding his arms across his chest in the universally Ted sign of “I’ve made my selection.” He then proceeded to try to dive right in ordering apps when we’ve all barely had a chance to scan the 10 page drink menu.

Fortunately we could choose quickly, especially Jason and Shane, who went the route of the bottled Bud Lites for only $2.50. Cassi and I had a more difficult time, since it was a rather steep jump from that to the $8.50 mixed drinks.

Apparently “middle ground” are also words not in this place’s vocabulary.

We quickly got our crap together for the appetizer order, since of course Ted was well ahead of us and impatiently trying to order his entire meal before the drinks even arrived. Ted ordered the Tuscan calamari, which I later learned was named as such because it comes with peppers, tomatoes and olive oil in it. Apparently calling it “Tuscan” instead of “Fancy” is preferred.

Calamari, embellished

Cassi and Jason got just plain old calamari. Which is like the cheese pizza of calamari, especially compared to Ted’s deluxe order.

There’s an irony there. Don’t worry, I see it too.

Calamari, plain

Irony #2: Ted wasn’t so much a fan of the Tuscan calamari. Turns out they kind of went overboard with the oil, which drowned out the taste of everything else. Ted said he would’ve preferred it was just more peppers and tomatoes along with the calamari.

Cassi and Jason also ordered cheese sticks, which sounded good enough to Shane and I that we got an order also. I mean, it’s fried cheese. How can you go wrong. Well, I mean, for at least four out of the five people at the table anyway.

Fried things for the win

While these may just look like regular old “remove from freezer and throw into the deep fryer” cheese sticks, Shane claimed the breading on them was phenomenal. He was also in love with the marinara sauce that came with them. I think he would’ve eaten it by itself like some form of chunky tomato soup if we had just given him a spoon.

We didn’t. Shocking.

In this week’s edition of Shane Interrogates Our Server, we discussed portion sizes, and what meals would easily feed an entire rugby team just after a championship match. Well, OK, not in those exact words, but that seemed to be the implication.

Caught slightly off-guard, our poor server could at least reference the fact that we were dealing with two nationalities of food that don’t tend to do portion control well, so pretty much anything on the menu should come close to those expectations. But the two that stood out the most to him would probably be the lasagna or the Jagerschnitzel.

Shane chose the Jagerschnitzel, making him the only person in our group to attempt the German menu. Although he kept calling it Jagerbomb Schnitzel, which I’m not sure the kitchen would agree with creating (and even if they would, does anyone think adding Red Bull to a meal is really the best culinary choice?), even though the server tried to write it down as such after hearing Shane reference it so many times.

Even without the added jolt of “bomb,” Shane was happy with his meal. Maybe not as happy as he was with the cheese sticks and marina soup, but close. He said it was delicious. And while it was undeniably a large portion, he still managed to leave the table as a member of the clean plate club.

One of these things is not like the other

Well, except for the side of peas and carrots that came with his meal, those got pushed in my direction. Stupid imaginary vegetable allergy.

Jason admittedly was jealous of the mushroom gravy. He had also been regretting his meatball sub choice after the server walked away from taking our orders, thinking that he would have a case of food envy bigger than Shane’s hunger once all of our giant plates of pasta and whatever-oversized-entree-Shane-ordered arrived at the table. But once his plate was set in front of him he immediately felt more confident that he chose wisely.

Probably the most American thing on the Italian German menu

He said the sub was very good. The chips alone made the rest of us kind of look at our plates like bald men stared at 80’s rock band icons back in the day.

Especially me, who was not happy with my Pasta Palermo. Admittedly I ordered it because of the alluring “baked under an layer of cheese” description … because, well, those words are definitely music to the ears of pretty much anyone who isn’t Ted. And first glance definitely gave me hope that I’d picked something delicious.

Ted was thrilled to be sitting across from this gooey mess

But honestly the whole cooking then baking thing really just made the pasta too well done. And soft pasta mush is, well, about as pleasant to taste as those exact words imply.

Cassi got the vodka tomato pasta with angel hair. She didn’t say much about it, and left 3/4 of it on her plate after the meal was finished, so I’m going to use my super-sleuth powers to suppose that it was about as tasty as my baked cheesy mush.

It’s hard to screw up spaghetti, right? One would think.

At least Ted was a happy pasta customer. He ordered the clam linguine, and said it was very tasty … despite containing what had to be some of the smallest clams I’ve ever seen. It’s like they found some clam pipeline from Munchkinland.

You feel like a giant picking up one of these tiny clams

We actually passed on ordering dessert – which is strange for us considering lately we’ve been ordering it if they have it on the menu. But I guess given the portion sizes it’s not that surprising, honestly.

The final consensus seemed to be that if you were hungry and you didn’t order overdone pasta, you could leave this place a happy camper. But I doubt we’ll see the inside of this place on another Wednesday anytime soon, just because it’s not our usual Wednesday vibe. The quiet inside the place was somewhat intimidating. And I think our group brought the median age down by at least a generation and a half. Which of course means that our table conversations – carried well across the church-like quiet of the place – weren’t really meant for the ears that they then landed on. Apologies to the table of two women in the same room as us who came out for a nice dinner and probably left more schooled in strangers’ bathroom habits and the antics of a group of randoms during their last drinking adventure than they had bargained for.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Pirate Shane

Steph

Cassi

Jason

WTGW 9/19/18: Wolf Creek Tavern, Norton

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Hey, it’s mid-September and we’re still reveling in patio weather here in NEOhio. Three cheers for a freakishly warm fall! Horray!

Although this week’s patio didn’t provide the same scenery as some of our other adventures this summer – I mean, sitting next to a busy street being “entertained” by children at the ice cream place across said street trying to get cars to honk at them doesn’t exactly compare to the time we sat next to a lake, or the time we technically sat outside but were in the basement of patios – but hey, we had giant lifeguard chairs at this one so that counts for something, right?

Sure.

Especially when the alternative to sitting on the patio was to sit inside in a dining room that kind of reminded us of grandma’s unused formal parlor. Or a long-in-need-of-a-remodel country club.

I think you’re drawing a picture in your head, and I’m sure whatever it is, it’s not unlike what you would actually encounter here.

Anyway.

Let’s start with drinks, because that’s really how every Wednesday evening does (and deservedly so should) begin.

Wolf Creek Tavern has a pretty impressive craft beer list, including several that I for one was unfamiliar with. Cassi and Ted ordered the house brew beer, I got something that had peach in it, and Jason ordered something that started with a W and was basically unpronounceable so I’m not about to try and recreate the name now.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered got a gingertini, because, well, when your name is on the menu then you are pretty much obligated to order whatever it is that’s named after you.

They named the most masculine drink after Shane

Pinkies out!

He said it tasted like Hawaiian Punch. That can’t be a bad thing. Unless, of course, you’re trying to drink slowly, I guess.

Remember when I said it’s been a warm fall? Well, apparently that season is recreating itself inside the coolers at Wolf Creek Tavern, because our beer – both bottled and draft – was somewhat on the lukewarm spectrum. Which is an issue that a chilled glass would probably solve … although those glasses are usually kept in a cooler either the same as or in close proximity to where the bottled beer is kept, so in this case that probably wouldn’t help.

#firstworldproblems

So if there are fried green tomatoes on the menu, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Shane will order them – even if they don’t have his name on them like certain fruit punch tasting drinks.

They should just rename this dish universally to “Shane’s Preferred Appetizer”

He was happy with them.

Meanwhile Cassi and Jason ordered the pierogi stack, and Ted opted for the Korean BBQ wings.

Comfort food for the win

Fancy wings

The pierogis were good. The wings, however, were a bit dry. It’s not really unusual for Ted to offer up his food to the rest of the table for sharing after it arrives, but when he’s on like the third round of “no, really, I don’t mind sharing, please help yourself” we all start to put the puzzle pieces together on why he really wants to get the plate out from in front of him.

Speaking of third rounds, that seemed to be about how many times it took before our server actually registered something we said to her. Case in point, Ted had ordered the house brew, but then when we put in our apps he also asked her about the other beers that were on tap aside from that one. She said she would check and let him know. But then we never saw the server again until the apps were delivered. So Ted tried asking again, and she acted like he had never asked in the first place. And again told him that she would go check and let him know.

Ted, after she left: You all did hear me ask the first time, right? That wasn’t just, like, in my head?

Fortunately she did return this time, only slightly before Ted was ready to just go wander behind the bar himself and start investigating on his own. Maybe we should’ve let him – I mean, he probably could’ve fixed the coolers while he was back there.

There also seemed to be some disconnect with doing more than one thing at a time whenever our server was at the table. I mean, most servers use each touch point as a chance to kind of kill two birds with one stone, so to speak – so visit once, get drink orders … visit again to drop off drinks, take app orders … visit again to check on drinks and take dinner orders … you get the idea. It’s pretty straightforward. I mean, if you’ve eaten in a restaurant, well, ever, then there’s no deep-shrouded mystery in how the dining out process works in most situations. I’m sure no one reading this blog has just been sitting in their house for the past 20+ years thinking to themselves, “I wonder how servers manage to find out what it is that you want to eat and when the appropriate time is to inquire about this.”

If that is the case, then you and our server would get along famously. And take her with you whenever you go out in search of the great meaning of dining out, because she could use a few pointers.

Although she did mention to us that this was her first night back from vacation. If I’m not mistaken, that was the whole reason why she said she had to go check on the draft list that Ted kept asking about – because she had been away somewhere and was just coming back to work that night.

Clearly, wherever she went, she’s still there in spirit.

It pretty much became a game of how many things we could say to her each time she came to the table, because our time with her was limited and then it would be another 20+ minutes before she would return again.

See also, why the photos of our apps and our dinners look like they were taken on two separate days, because we finished said apps and the sun had quite literally set on the day before we even had a chance to put our dinner orders in.

But hey, at least by the time our dinners arrived the ice cream place across the street was closed, so therefore all the small children yelling at cars to get them to honk their horns were home safely in bed by that point, and we could eat the remainder of our meal in relative silence.

Small victories.

Three of the five of us ordered the fish and chips for dinner. I only took one picture, because, well, you can figure that much out. I mean, unless you’re our server, in which case I’m probably giving you way too much credit. But that’s neither here nor there.

This, x3

It was just OK. Shane called it greasy. Which I get, but also kind of figure that comes with the batter-dipped, deep-fried territory, no?

I mean, he still ate the whole thing, too, so it couldn’t be that bad. Or maybe since it was like 9pm by this point and we felt like we had been sitting there through two days and three seasons, he was just hungry enough not to care.

The other two members of our party – one of whom was Jason and for once the other wasn’t his food-twin Shane – ordered burgers.

Look, we’ve been here so long we’re eating breakfast now, too

Excuse me, sir, but is your burger wearing a hat?

Jason’s burger was supposed to come with jalapenos in addition to the fried egg, but he wasn’t having any part of that condiment. Not one to see hot peppers cast off as useless, Ted asked for the jalapenos that Jason didn’t want to be placed on his burger instead. They brought them in a little cup, which he shared with Shane. And all was well with the world.

Because nothing tastes better after a few sweet, fruity drinks that some lukewarm beer, Shane decided to switch things up after a few rounds and order the “Mystery Beer” that they advertised on the menu (or maybe it was just because he was at this point still holding his menu because she still hadn’t come around to take our dinner orders yet, and he just for once had time to read the. entire. thing.) In any case, the gimmick is that they bring you a beer that could be anything on their craft menu, and if you guess it correctly it’s only $2.00. If not, you pay full price.

Which we learned was a lot more than $2, since Shane did not guess correctly. He guessed vanilla porter, and it turned out to be an oatmeal stout. He also wasn’t a fan. Which means he paid far more than he had hoped for a beer that he didn’t care for.

So that experiment played out well.

Hey, I finally got a cold drink! Well, it’s only because they put actual ice cubes in my glass before they poured my cider. Apparently we’ve been at this place long enough for new bartending trends to develop now?

Overall, if you haven’t guessed, the service killed this place for us. I mean, the food was OK – nothing off the charts outstanding, but nothing I wouldn’t necessarily order again either. But the service – or, rather, lack thereof – was just awful. And the worst part is that there was no reason for it to be that way. The patio had at most two other tables filled in the course of our meal, and one of them was looked after by another server. I mean, look, we can be understanding if the place is jam-packed, or if you tell us that there’s a table of 25 on the polar opposite side of the space that you’re also responsible for. Give us some credit – we’re not complete jerks who don’t understand the hinderances and complications of the restaurant world. Tell us that your co-worker is a biotch who called off hungover at the last minute and left you to fend for yourself. Rat out the horrible hostess who quadruple sat you within the past 10 minutes. We get it. But when you disappear for long stretches and then return with no explanation while only giving us the grace of your attention for like two minutes before you Houdini yourself to the nether lands again? Nope.

We determined on the drive home that somewhere somehow we annoyed the restaurant gods, and our penance now is bad service for the forseeable future. Our past few visits out it just seems to get progressively worse. Which of course brought up tales of awful service of WTGW pasts … anyone remember The Annex? The one place we actually walked out of without being served? … but were graced with the lingering smell of grilled hamburger grease on our clothes and hair for the remainder of the night?

Please, for the love of all things edible, let this curse be broken before we hit that point again.

Also, we had to go inside to take our photos, lest we revisit the incident of Tinkers Creek Tavern a few weeks ago. So, no, we didn’t sneak off to the local golf club just to take a few pictures. But this just further explains why we will probably only return on patio-worthy evenings.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Steph

Shane

Jason

Ted

Someone trapped the fooseball players under glass! They can’t breathe in there!

Wolf Creek Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 8/15/18: Tinkers Creek Rd Tavern, Northfield

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It’s a rite of passage this week, as this marks Jason’s first official pick as part of our WTGW crew. Because after a certain number of weeks dining out with the group you’re forced to stop freeloading and take responsibility for some of the sketchy choices we’ve made over the years, as well as the judgmental, sarcastic commentary that follows.

Needless to say he was a little nervous.

His nerves certainly weren’t calmed on the drive to Tinkers Creek Road Tavern, as we all at one point or another commented that, while we weren’t far from our homes in terms of mileage, we sure were in terms of civilization. This place is quite literally in the middle of absolute nowhere. Or, technically, the middle of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Which led to speculation that Jason’s search for this place must’ve essentially consisted of Googling “places to go for a beer when lost in the forest.”

Boy Scouts would be proud.

Once we finally found the place the concern switched to whether or not we would actually get a table prior to the 9PM closing time, as the parking lot looked packed and the building looked way too tiny to hold all of the people that would’ve arrived in said vehicles.

It turns out that the building is deceptively small looking, and they probably want to think about expanding that parking lot.

Upon entering we realized that the easiest way to a hostess’ heart is to tell them you have no preference between indoor or outdoor seating, as she proclaimed she loved us after that statement. We figured that given the number of cars in the parking lot and the vacancy of the indoor areas, we would most likely not see the likes of a patio this evening.

We were wrong. The hostess led us outside to the patio, where we discovered not only the owners of most of those cars in the parking lot, but also an amazingly beautiful patio situated next to what I’m assuming must be the namesake Tinker’s Creek.

Well this certainly doesn’t suck for background atmosphere

It was like being in a whole other world. Or on vacation somewhere not in northeast Ohio. Which, with Ted in the driver’s seat, isn’t all that difficult a proposition. How long were we in the car, exactly?

We showed our appreciation for our new environment from the very beginning, as we became what I can only assume were the most agreeable table ever to set foot on this particular patio. Drink menus? Yep, hand them over. Waters for everyone? Sure! With lemon? Why not!?!

Cassi put the brakes on our enthusiasm train when she realized that the extensive drink menu didn’t include pricing, and had to ask the server how much the various cocktails and craft beers were going for. All heed the lesson of Shane and the unknowingly overpriced craft beers of a few months ago.

While we weren’t fans of the price guessing game, we will give kudos to the server for not only unbegrudgingly going to check on them for us, but also actually knowing the differences in the various beers on the menu. When Jason asked about the flavors of the different IPAs, she gave real references, not just the generic “they all taste like beer, what more do you want?” conversation we’ve had in some establishments.

Of course we ordered appetizers, because we were happily agreeing to everything … and also, well, because we’re us.

Following the food envy of the potato cups at Wil’s Grill a few weeks ago, I lobbied Shane to order those.

I’m not sure who made potato cups a thing, but I’d like to hug that person

They were good. Not overwhelmingly so, and they didn’t have the “holy crap that’s a lot of melted cheese” wow factor that the ones at Wil’s had … but I would order them again.

Cassi and Jason ordered the fried mozzarella. It was tasty. Cassi said she would rate it higher than her old favorite – although she kindly didn’t mention the restaurant where that dish resided. I’m not sure when we suddenly got so courteous.

Not on Ted’s list of any kind

Ted, in spite of voicing his disappointment that no one decided to order the eggplant stack, opted for calamari.

That’s like the exact opposite of eggplant

He then proceeded to rave about it for the rest of the time it was on the table. Apparently his sorrow over not getting to try the eggplant stack was quickly forgotten. He said he’s not really one for top five lists – a statement that seems like it could factor into a severe punishment from certain members of this group – but if he was then this calamari would be on it. It was breaded well, and the sauce was an excellent compliment to the flavor.

With an endorsement like that, of course we all tried a bit of it when offered. Shane thought it might’ve been a bit of a trick, since it seemed like if Ted was truly a fan then he shouldn’t have been willingly sharing it so much with everyone.

Regardless, we agreed, it was really good.

We also agreed not to use any unnecessary dishes, as the stack of side plates that the server brought prior to the apps sat unused off to the side of the table throughout the course of our preliminary food binge. While this was nothing new to us, the server noticed and asked “so, I take it you don’t need these then?”

Shane: No, we’re savages.

OK then.

Also not new to us, but likely an intro course for our server: Shane’s obligatory firing range of questions related to the best items on the menu. I’m happy to report she survived the assault, listing several dishes that she personally enjoys, from the mac and cheese, to the salmon, the pulled pork sandwich, the salmon salad and the brisket sandwich.

Now if she truly wanted to be a member of our group she would say that she once ordered all of those items in one sitting just so she could compare them all and come up with a final true winner. But, alas, that food challenge never happened.

Something to think about, though.

Shane followed up that interrogation by ordering nothing that she recommended, and instead asking how large the portion size was on the eggplant parmesan. Because we all know how much size matters in these instances.

Get your mind out of the gutter, kids. Especially for when I tell you that her response was that it’s giant, and Shane’s response was that he would take it.

So there’s that.

But at least she wasn’t lying. When the food arrived, I think we all had our own “holy crap, I’m supposed to eat all of that in one sitting” moment as the plates were set in front of us.

This photo doesn’t do justice to the size of the bowl. Although the sheer amount of cheese displayed here should give some indication.

Let’s just say that Shane immediately regretted letting his hunger take the reigns and ordering the extra side of onion rings to accompany his eggplant parm – ironically not because those two things usually are never ordered together as one meal, but because he could barely make it through the actual dinner portion of his meal without being overly full.

His eagerness at the question “would you like a box for those?” was very much diminished from the reaction to the questions at the beginning of our meal.

I’ll take things we didn’t need to order for $1,000, please

Speaking of side orders of things that didn’t get eaten in their entirety, I spent a few minutes dispelling the advances of Ted and his overly aggressive forcing of his wee basket of tater tots into my face. Little did I realize he was just trying to make sure they got their proper photographic documentation, and not trying to force feed them to me.

When tots attack

Me: Put your tots away, Ted, I don’t want any
Ted: If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that

The joys of being the official photographer. More on that later.

In the category of foods Ted didn’t try to shove in my face, Ted also got the smoked chicken sandwich. He said it was good. His rating system on his meal this evening pretty much went as follows: Chips just OK, sandwich and tots good, calamari excellent.

At least he kept that plate on his side of the table

Use that information as you will. In true girl fashion, I give bonus points to the tots for being contained in one of those cute miniature fry baskets – which of course we all tried to convince Ted he should just walk out of the restaurant with instead of asking for a box for his remaining tots.

He did neither. Which makes me think they weren’t as good as he said they were, and he also clearly doesn’t appreciate interesting servingware.

Jason got the baked cod sandwich. He liked it, saying that the fish was very moist. Although part of that verdict may have just been so that he could use that particular word and annoy the hell out of his fiance, who has on more than one occasion announced her dislike of it.

Ah, true love.

It looks less moist from this angle

Cassi and I both ordered the tacos – I got the grilled steak tacos with chips and salsa, while Cassi got the tilapia tacos with sweet potato fries.

Tacos take one

And two

We both said they were really good. And we agreed with the table sentiment that the server was not incorrect in her statement that no one will leave hungry, since each meal came with three large tacos, plus a generous portion of the side. We each took one of our tacos home.

In retrospect, we probably could’ve done without all of the apps at the top of the meal. I’m making that note for our eventual return visit, although I already know we won’t heed it.

Remember when I mentioned that the place closes at 9:00? Yeah, that’s not a typo. The place definitely starts emptying out after the early dinner rush, and by 8:30 we were one of only a couple tables left. I know this for certain because any table not inhabited was bring cleaned and upturned and pretty much sending a solid message that diners arriving at 8:55PM might have technically still arrived prior to closing time, but also were more likely to be served in a less than appreciative manner. Just speculation, of course, but I for one am not willing to test that theory.

Another thing we decided against testing: our ability to read a very large sign on a gate stating “NOT AN EXIT,” and the server’s patience when said sign is blatantly ignored. We watched in amusement as one couple tempted fate in this manner and was scolded openly – and righteously, in my opinion, as I mean … come on … there’s a sign. It’s pretty clear that just because the gate opens doesn’t mean they want any random person using it. The reasoning may not be clear, but the sign is … and that’s what matters.

(Keep in mind these words are coming to you from someone who a mere few paragraphs ago was vying for the pilfering of a miniature fry basket from our table. Priorities.)

But aside from the early closing time and the questionable use of lighting on both the patio and the parking areas, I would give this place a high thumbs up. You wouldn’t know it, though, because these are the only photos we attempted before giving in to the questionable lighting gods and admitting defeat.

Now whose turn is it to find the worst lighting possible?

Clearly adding the flash doesn’t help things. Now we can just better see Ted’s inability to keep his eyes open

Well this obviously isn’t working

No thanks. I’ll just stick to words to tell the story. The service was good, the portions were huge and tasty – and the patio really is a great space to spend a nice summer evening. They even brought us citronella candles for the table after we mentioned our dining experience was quickly creating a feast for various bugs as well (sitting near water + humidity = mosquitoes. It’s just science).

And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even spot this strange creature in the parking lot on your way out.

Look kids, it’s the elusive parking lot gnome

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Steph

Tinkers Creek Road Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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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

 

WTGW 7/25/18: Wil’s Grille & Pub, Barberton

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That feeling when someone else picks a place that has been on your list for a while but you just never got around to picking … and then it turns out to be really good.

Cassi’s choice this week was Wil’s Grill & Pub in Barberton. Not to be confused with Ted’s sushi & pub pick of a few months ago. As if. Wil’s Grill & Pub (I keep saying it because rhyming is fun, step off) a little unassuming building in that middle of the nowhere region that is partway between Barberton and Portage Lakes.

Shane, as we pull up: This has me written all over it.

Apparently tiny buildings with no windows and an uncertainly marked entryway are right up his alley. Noted.

Inside they definitely make the most of the tiny space. There were several tables, but only a few that would hold a group our size that weren’t already occupied. There appeared to be a family dinner taking place in the middle of the space, which required several tables to be pushed together. This is for sure the kind of place that I could see regulars holding their weekly family get togethers.

As we settle in at the table, Shane makes a beeline for the restroom … and returns shortly afterwards. As in, not in enough time for him to actually have used the facilities. To which we all assume means they were uninhabitable.

Nope, just that when he opened the main door he heard a tiny child’s voice announcing to the unknown visitor “I’m pooping.” That was enough for Shane to decide he could hold it for a bit longer, and to just exit quietly.

That frank openness kind of set the tone for the rest of our stay at Wil’s.

To say that the place is friendly is an understatement. From the time we sat down until …. well, the rest of the evening … we were welcomed or given a friendly “hey guys!” by pretty much every single one of the staff members. And some people who cross the line between actual staff and regulars who occasionally wander behind the bar. I’m kind of surprised the other patrons didn’t raise their hands in friendly salutes as well. It was like dining in Mayberry.

Once the server found out we were newbies, she pretty much ran through the entire menu to tell us what the best things were to order. Of course that impressed our resident interrogator, Shane, who usually takes pleasure in prodding those details out of the staff.

Of highest recommendation where the burgers, the chicken sandwich that was on special for the evening, and the weekly steak special. Which were pretty much all the items our group  had been looking at ordering already. Thanks for nothing, kind server who loves her job and her restaurant.

One choice that wasn’t too difficult was our drink order, due largely to the fact that they only have two beers on draft: Miller Lite, and Amber Bock. So basically light and dark. Bet you can’t guess who ordered which one?

Bonus points if you sensed the trick question and guessed that the girls skipped beer altogether to go with tequila and sodas.

Cassi and Jason ordered the potato skins for their app, after the server described them as “little potato cups of cheesey goodness.”

Ted, of course, was repulsed.

The server did not lie, the potato skins ended up arriving at the table looking exactly as the server described them. Read: amazing. The potatoes are cut in half instead of longways like most potato skins, and therefore do create these little cup-like devices that are perfect to fill with a copious amount of cheese. Cassi and Jason definitely enjoyed them. And will continue to enjoy them in the days following our visit, as there were far too many for even our whole table to share (well, minus the cheese-hater). They were truly enough to be a meal all on their own.

This must be what they serve in heaven

Shane and I ordered the breaded mushrooms.I guess this is our thing now, despite the fact that Shane usually has to let them cool to less than room temperature so as not to be the victim of the hot oil disaster that is biting in too soon.

Hot oil time bombs

They were just OK. Really nothing special from any other place we’ve ever ordered them from in our lifetime. To be fair, I’m not really sure what exactly would make a breaded mushroom stand out in that fashion, but it seems we’ll continue to try them until we figure that out.

Ted got the “Firey Fingers.” Which didn’t arrive on fire (boooo) but instead were basically just chicken fingers with a spicy breading and/or sauce. Thanks for the letdown. Plus when I asked Ted which substance was responsible for the nomenclature, he admitted he wasn’t really clear on that based on the description in the menu, and had to do a bit of A/B testing once the dish arrived in order to determine it.

This is probably the only dish where you could confuse chicken for jojo potatoes

It turns out it was the sauce. Which was basically a cocktail sauce with a slightly spicy hint to it. So “firey” might be a tad misleading in the adjective department, but points for trying.

I really think they should go with the whole lighting it on fire idea. I mean, that would make it stand out for sure.

For meals I was on the fence between my usual affinity for a mushroom swiss burger and the special chicken sandwich of the day consisting of chicken, Swiss, bacon and guacamole on ciabatta bread. So, again, I’d like to thank the server and her seal of “yep, both of those are outstanding, can’t go wrong either way” for assisting in my decision. Ted was actually my tipping point, when I mentioned being in a conundrum and he said to me that when he heard what was involved with the chicken sandwich it sounded to him like it was made just for me.

I’m not sure how I got such complimentary friends in my life.I mean, I hope all of you have people surrounding you who think of you when certain foods are mentioned. *tear*

Needless to say, I wasn’t unhappy with my decision. I mean, first of all … ciabatta bread. Need I say more? But I also don’t order chicken much anymore, thanks to the issue at the Hooley House years ago where the cook was apparently trying to make medium rare poultry a thing (spin the salmonella wheel and see if you’re a winner! yum!). But my risk was rewarded this time around.

Even if I only ate the bread, this would be a win

That’s a very geometrically correct salad

Ted got the strip steak special with jojo potatoes – and also the cole slaw, which the server recommended as “really good.” Upon eating it, Ted rephrased that to  “adequate.” Not exactly high praise, but I guess it’s better than “effing disgusting,” so there’s that. Maybe if he’d eaten the jojos first, since they were apparently hot enough to remove layers of skin/taste buds and he may not have been able to taste the cole slaw by that point?

Chivalrous potato wedges trying to save the meat from the oncoming knife

How can you screw up shredded vegetables?

Ted said his whole meal was “solidly good.” He wouldn’t necessarily put anything he ate in his Top 10, but he would rate it all as very good.

Hey, speaking of Top 10’s, anyone remember that time Shane ordered a steak special for under $10, and it was a way better value than the one offered *insert place we’re currently eating at here*? No? That’s weird, because he uses literally every other steak special in the universe to reminisce about that fateful day last summer when all his food dreams came true.

This is my plea to all the places we go on Wednesdays to stop advertising steak specials on that particular night of the week, unless you can beat the one offered at the Dougout.

Moving on.

Since OBVIOUSLY this steak special didn’t meet his expectations, Shane followed the server’s recommendation that the burgers were outstanding and ordered the Bourbon Burger. As did Jason. To prove they weren’t twinsies, Shane got onion rings, and Jason got fries. Cassi also went with a burger – the bacon Swiss – with sweet potato fries.

I have bread envy

Take two, change of side

Our table sure did their part to ensure the dairy industry stays in business

And just like everything else the server told us about, they were not disappointed. Shane said his burger was very good. He typically doesn’t like all the embellishments (read: healthy things like lettuce and tomato) but on this one he didn’t pick it off, and said it actually gave the burger more flavor. Both of the guys agreed that the sauce on the Bourbon burger was really good, too.

Since we ordered pretty much everything that the server had recommended to us, are you surprised when we ended up with dessert as well? Right. I also blame Ted, who was talking up how he would give up patio weather in favor of the season in which all things pumpkin return to NEOhio … which of course brought us to the deliciousness that is pumpkin love at 3 Brothers … which made us all hungry for sweets right about the time the server came over to ask if we’d saved room for dessert.

Cohoots, I tell you.

Cassi and Jason opted for the chocolate bundt cake, Ted got the brownie with ice cream, and Shane and I shared the caramel apple pie and ice cream. I have to believe that was literally one of everything on the dessert menu.

Tell me again why we don’t order dessert more often?

I mean, how can you go wrong?

A lovely little sundae, all for Ted

Ted, five minutes after finishing his dessert: I’m probably going to regret that, but damn was it good.

Spoiler alert: that entire statement was in fact truth.

But being over-full was pretty much the only regret we could muster from Wil’s. This place is definitely a favorite, with a menu almost as big as the place itself, and amazing service. Plus it’s super cheap – mine and Shane’s bill was under $60, which covered three drinks each, an app, two complete dinners and a dessert. Well, truth be told, we could’ve gotten out with a tab under $10 … thanks to a mistake by the server when she manually keyed in the amount to the credit card machine, thus resulting in our card only getting charged $5.69 instead of the correct price of $55.69. But of course we couldn’t take advantage of the situation, and told her about the mistake – for which she was super appreciative. Because, well, despite what you might think of our ratings toward some of our picks and my fluent use of the sarcastic tongue, we aren’t complete jerks. Please.

And we definitely want to come back here. Wil’s really one of those little gems you kind of wish you lived next door to, except for the rampant alcoholism and high cholesterol levels that visiting far too often would likely predispose us to. It’s great to go into a place that clearly has regulars, and be welcomed as a new group. And maybe it’s because Shane threw out the “we’re food bloggers” statement like a shield at the top of the visit, but throughout our visit we were never at a loss for people stopping by our table to say hello or check to see if we needed anything. The server even gave us a copy of the specials for the month, which was reminiscent of the lunch menus we used to bring home from grade school so we knew what days to pack our lunches, and what days we would be begging our moms to pay for a slice of cardboard covered in cheese that they tried to tell us was pizza.

If that last sentence means nothing to you then just put down the blog and walk away slowly, never mentioning how old you think we must be because of it. Seriously.

I bet Shane is glad we didn’t come on Shrimp Kabob day

Next pick: Ted

Ted

Jason

Shane

Steph

Cassi


Wil's Grille & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato