WTGW 3/16/16: Foster’s Tavern, Hinckley

Standard

Twas the night before St. Patrick’s Day, and we ended up at … well, not a Irish place. Because it’s not St. Patricks’s Day yet. Try to follow along here kids.

Although when I texted Ted the name of Shane’s pick for this week, his comment was “Fosters? Is that Australian for bar?” Good memory of 90’s alcohol commercials, Ted.

My comment back was that I just hoped it was American for “we have alcohol and good food.”

We really don’t ask for much. I mean, come on.

Anyway, as I mentioned it was Shane’s pick this week, so of course that explains why we’re back in his new favorite town of Hinckley. Because if any of us pick a place there I think he might challenge us to a duel over it, medieval times style. I will say that at least arriving in town during the daylight hours didn’t make it seem quite as scary as the last time we ventured there.Thanks, daylight savings time.

And as long as we’re checking items off the Shane “Must Have” checklist … we also think this place was a house at one time. Seriously, how does he find these places? Its like he plugs variables into a Google search: Is it a house? Is it in Hinckley? Does it get it somewhat questionable reviews? Awesome, I’ll pick it.

Amanda and Jerrid got there first, settled in at a table in the bar and ordered the fried mushrooms as an app. Before we even got there Jerrid was texting Shane pictures of the appetizer. Because it was like $7 for the app, which turned out to be like six mushrooms. Ok, maybe seven – at most. Let’s just say it filled a small appetizer plate, if that tells you anything. And for that price, it makes the mushrooms like a dollar a piece. Now I mean, I’m no vegetable expert or anything, but I’ve seen what a container of mushrooms sells for in the grocery store, and that’s a hell of a markup. Unless the breading made from shredded up $100 bills and gold shavings, which is highly doubtful.

Anyway.

So the first thing I noticed when we arrived at our table was that there was a beer cooler conveniently located directly behind our table – and, more appropriately, my seat at the table. Like an actual refrigerator sized, sliding glass cooler. That actually opened, was unlocked, and functioned as one of two working beer coolers for the bar. Two things about this: 1) seems an odd placement being that far away from the bartender, and 2) so, serve yourself, then? Score!

It's like having a drive thru inside the restaurant

It’s like having a drive thru inside the restaurant

OK, so the server actually did come over and take our beer orders. But at least she didn’t have far to go to bring them over to us. And FYI, Summer Shandy is out already, folks. ‘Tis the season.

Ted got the mussels as an app. Jerrid and Amanda immediately high-fived when he ordered, as they had talked amongst themselves when they saw mussels on the menu that that’s what Ted would choose.

I like that we’ve reached the point in our adventures that we’re running sideboards on the predictability of our menu choices.

Although if those are the rules we’re playing by then I’m slightly disappointed that no one cheered when Shane and I got the cheese sticks. I mean, come on. Something fried with cheese? It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Side note on the cheese sticks: they must use the same breading on those as the mushrooms, because that order was also $7 for like six sticks. I’m seeing a pattern here. Hmm.

Cheese sticks breaded in shaved gold?

Cheese sticks breaded in shaved gold?

The mussels were super garlicky. Like more so than the pizza at Brick Oven – which may now be the standard by which we rate all things garlic. You could smell the garlic on the mussels as the dish was being set on the table, and actually see the minced pieces of garlic in the sauce and over the shells. It was honestly a bit much for me – I tried two of them and couldn’t stomach any more.

Can we get some mussels with this garlic please?

Can we get some mussels with this garlic please?

Ted, on the other hand, loved them. He ate them up like he hadn’t touched food in about a week and a half. And then stacked the shells very neatly.

Mussels with a side of OCD please

Mussels with a side of OCD please

Shane – OK Rain Man, nice job.

But even though Ted was really the only one to consume more than two or four mussels, our vampire-safe status was solidified when the server came back to grab the (what she thought was empty) dish … and proceeded to tip it way too far to one side and cover the table in garlic juice. Because that creates an attractive smell. She apologized profusely while she cleaned it up … although my take on it was that really she just saved all of us from DUIs since if we were to get pulled over we’d certainly smell more of garlic than beer.

Once again, score.

Oh, hey, speaking of which … remember that whole how-great-would-it-be-to-just-help-yourself-to-the-beer-cooler thing? Well we joked about it to the server, and she was like “yeah, that’s fine, just let me know what you take.” Um, OK. Of course we took her up on that. Jerrid and I both took turns getting rounds out of the cooler throughout the course of the night.

There’s something about getting up from your seat and announcing “I’m getting another beer, anyone need anything?” as you place your hand on on the cooler door that just makes you feel right at home. In a bar. That used to be a house.

Right.

Shane and I both got burgers for our meals. The burgers at Foster’s can be either half pound or full pound patties, and they’re fresh made. The only difference in our orders was the toppings (lettuce, tomato, mushroom and swiss for me, and mushroom, onion and swiss for Shane) and the way we had them cooked (pink for him, not so pink for me). We were both impressed that our server managed to remember everything – correctly – without writing it down. Nice.

Because if you can't have garlic, onions are the next best thing

Because if you can’t have garlic, onions are the next best thing

Sorry, Ted, but all that cheese just looks delicious

Sorry, Ted, but all that cheese just looks delicious

We were definitely not disappointed, either. The burgers at Foster’s are great. They are definitely fresh made and cooked to order, as evidenced here:

Rare burger. Otherwise known as, could possibly still be alive.

Rare burger. Otherwise known as, could possibly still be alive.

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead

Medium burger. Also known as, just a little more dead

We each got the half pound burgers, and each of them were huge. Which means I can’t even imagine what trying to eat the full pound burger that they offer must be like. I mean, beyond the obvious “well, imagine eating twice the burger you had in your hand.” … seriously, it’s like here’s your side of cow on a bun, enjoy? I have to imagine it’s probably something close to what we experienced at the Caddyshack Inn down the road a few weeks ago, that’s about the best I can come up with.

Hinckley – home of the massive hamburgers. Who says a town doesn’t need a tagline?

Amanda got the steak sandwich on the warm pretzel bun. She said the bun was what sold her on it, since she had actually just had steak for dinner the night before and wasn’t overly crazy about eating it again. Just goes to show you that pretzel buns are charming little m-fers.

You had me at "pretzel bun"

You had me at “pretzel bun”

In any case, at least it was good, so she didn’t regret her decision. The only bad part was that the charming little bun – in true pretzel fashion – actually had a touch too much salt on it. I looked over once and did a double take at her scraping giant pieces of salt off the top of her sandwich – which, if you can believe, is something that doesn’t happen so often at our table (shocker, right?), so it caught my attention. But other than that her meal was very tasty.

Jerrid and Ted both ordered the triple chicken sandwich. And of course we were all intrigued by the name, and had to discuss what exactly it was that could possibly make it “triple” chicken? Is it three chicken patties on one sandwich? Is it breaded in three times the amount of batter? (after experiencing the appetizer mathematics lesson from earlier in the evening, we already knew the answer to that one) Do they flip it three times before they know it’s done? WHAT??? TELL US?

The great Triple Chicken Mystery of 2016

The great Triple Chicken Mystery of 2016

Sadly, we still have no idea. The sandwiches came out looking like, well, pretty much any other chicken sandwich we’ve ever seen, anywhere. The guys said they were good, though. The chicken was thin, but moist. Which even further confuses the whole “triple” concept (triple moisture maybe? I give up) but whatever.

And BTW, I’d like to point out that there was no cheer for Ted on his sandwich order, because that was completely out of left field for him. I mean, when did he last order anything chicken … that wasn’t in wing form? Fish – check. Steak – check. Burgers – check. Pizza – check. But chicken? This is new.

Although it was still specified to be without cheese, so at least that was consistent. Whew.

Triple the chicken, no cheese

Triple the chicken, minus the cheese

After dinner – and our third round of “let’s open the cooler for more beer” – we got our arms twisted into ordering the Oreo cheesecake for dessert. Because, well, beer and sugar attract one another, I think. In any case, we didn’t regret our choice. First of all – while they weren’t LagerHead’s carrot cake sized pieces, they were still pretty ginormous. And second of all, well, they were just pretty damn delicious. The cook actually delivered the slices to the table herself, and mentioned when she dropped it off that she had made it earlier in the day. Well that’s good to hear. Because who wants two week old cheesecake? Am I right?

Why don't we order dessert more? Especially when it tastes like this?

Why don’t we order dessert more? Especially when it tastes like this?

It’s not every day we get a visit by the cook. Wait, hey – dammit, why didn’t we ask her about the chicken? Stupid delicious cheesecake and beers clouding our judgement. Argh!

Overall Foster’s is a pretty cool little place. It’s definitely “homey” on the inside (see what I did there?) – there are tables kind of tucked into corners, and under stairs, and wedged in next to coolers, and close to the bar … so I can only imagine when it gets crowded in there that it’s a bit snug. There is a whole other room – looks like they may have built on an addition on the one side, as an attempt to fix the whole space issue –  but that space is also, well, a bit boring. No TVs, no bar, no one else sitting over there – so they may want to work on jazzing that area up a bit more if they want to entice people to venture over there.

We all agreed that it was a tad on the pricey side, just given the environment – I mean, you can’t charge steakhouse prices in a dive bar atmosphere – at least the food is good and the people are nice.  did read some reviews that mentioned that the place is not fond of new people or “outsiders” – but fortunately we never experienced any bad service or side eye glances. Unless the real reason the cook came out was to check on how we were feeling after she spit in all of our food … but I’m thinking that was highly unlikely.

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks: Serve yourself beer is a fun concept. Definitely beats straining to see the taps behind the bar, or reading outdated menu listings.
Food: Avoid the appetizers and just order the main course. And if you figure out WTF makes the chicken “triple” please let us know.
Service: Some may say getting beer out of the cooler yourself means the servers are being lazy, but I give them kudos because we never waited for a drink. And bonus points to the server for allowing us to try the new “garlic heaven” perfume they must be debuting here.
Overall: I could definitely see us going back. Although being just down the street from the Caddyshack does create a conundrum. Shane might be on to something with this whole cornering the Hinckley market idea.

Next Pick: Steph
Foster's Tavern of Hinckley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 2/3/16: Caddyshack Inn, Hinckley

Standard

This week’s WTGW takes us into the previously unchartered territory of Hinckley. Which Shane then proclaimed on the drive over as “his” town, and said we better not pick any other place we see around. Which, just judging from the outside of this place as we drove up – and also the bar/grille/neon-signs-must’ve-been-on-sale building on the corner nearby (which ironically, will probably be Shane’s next pick, as he saw the name of it and claimed it was in close competition with his pick for this week) – we didn’t think we’d have to worry.

Now, after actually tasting the food at Caddyshack Inn, as well as talking to a few of the people there … well, I think we all agreed that he may actually be on to something here.

I’ll be honest, though, as we pulled up to Caddyshack I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to think that things felt just a tad bit on the side of sketch. First of all, the place looks like a house. Because apparently it’s Shane’s life goal to eat at every house-turned-bar establishment in NE Ohio. Lest we forget the place in Aurora that we walked into for ten minutes, couldn’t get served at, and left clouded in the smell of burger grease that to this day is probably still ingrained in our clothing. And the place in Portage Lakes that, while actually pretty awesome, was so far embedded in an actual neighborhood that we thought we were just going to a new friend’s house for dinner.

Seriously, one of these times we are going to end up walking into someone’s real house and sitting down at their kitchen table for dinner – because Shane “heard somewhere” that it was a great hometown dive bar.

Fortunately for us, this time around we still ended up at an actual establishment, and not sharing plates with someone’s Aunt Millie before reading bedtime stories to their children.

Anyway.

So for drinks, it was Miller Lites and Kentucky Bourbun Ales all around. Amanda actually started out drinking Miller Lite and then traded it in for a Bourbon Ale after the first round.

Wait, that beer isn't light enough to be a Miller Lite?!?

Wait, that beer isn’t light enough to be a Miller Lite?!?

Ted was quite proud, as he is anytime anyone chooses anything other than a light domestic beer.

Shane and I got the sampler platter for an appetizer. Because we like fried things. And we weren’t disappointed, because it turns out the sampler is really basically just a bunch of random fried things like cheese sticks, onion rings, chicken tenders, fried mushrooms and jalepeno poppers on one plate together. Come to think of it, maybe they should actually change the name on the menu to “plate of random fried things.” It has a nice ring to it.

Plate of random fried stuff

Plate of random fried stuff

Whatever, it was $7, and kind of a meal all in itself.

Speaking of $7, that was also the price of a dozen wings. Yay frugality!

Shane was the first to order his meal, but by the time we worked around the table and he heard everything else that was being ordered he changed his mind. Because servers love that, right? His original order was just 18 wings … but then after he heard the other guys ordering burgers he realized he would have major food envy if he didn’t get a chance to try one himself. So he scaled back his wing order to 12, and then also got the Dawg Burger … which is a double patty, full pound burger with bacon on it. Because heart health is apparently extremely overrated.

And so that’s how this arrived at the table.

Did you order a heart attack? Because it's here on this plate

Did you order a heart attack? Because it’s here on this plate

I’ll just go ahead and say it, because I know you all are thinking it: W. T. F.

Jerrid ordered the other double burger on the menu, the name of which eludes me now … but just know it was the other full pound burger, with different toppings. But still just as huge.

It looks so unassuming from this angle

It looks so unassuming from this angle

That’s what she said.

We should also point out that there was a huge discussion at our table about just how in the living holy hell they were going to attack those burgers … because, well, this clearly isn’t a job for the faint-hearted. Or anyone who thinks they are going to not be messy about it. Jerrid just went right in, didn’t cut his in half or anything, just picked up the burger whole and started eating his way through it. Shane meanwhile daintily cut his into quarters. But remember this is also the guy who eats his pizza with a knife and fork, so take that as you will I guess.

In any case, that’s the massive burger side of the table.

Oh, and PS: those giant burgers were only like $8.95 each. Just let that sink in for a bit – as I put this picture here yet again.

I think that burger will eat you if you're not careful with it

I think that burger will eat you if you’re not careful with it

OK, moving on.

Jerrid and Amanda also shared 12 wings – six garlic parm and six Kentucky bourbon – as an app. Amanda ordered the black & blue steak wrap for her meal. Which I don’t think had quite a full pound of steak inside of it, but was probably close. 

It's like a whole steak in a little blanket

It’s like a whole steak in a little blanket

Oh good, chunks of garlic. Vampires be gone

Oh good, chunks of garlic. Vampires be gone

Ted got a pound of mussels as an app, then 12 wings (Kentucky bourbon and “just plain hot,” as he called them). And also one of the single patty, half pound burgers.

This is the most healthy thing on our table

This is the most healthy thing on our table

The single actually looks smaller than the bun. Weird

The single actually looks smaller than the bun. Weird

I think this might’ve been the point in the ordering process where our server openly laughed at the insane amount of food five people thought they might possibly be able to eat. And suggested pulling over another table to help hold it.

I got the cheeseburger wrap, mainly because it came with chips and a french onion dip. I think we were all waiting to see if it arrived in a plastic container from the gas station down the road, ala the Lockview.

This is like the healthy version of that other burger. Which isn't saying a whole lot.

This is like the healthy version of that other burger. Which isn’t saying a whole lot.

But alas, no, it was actually homemade. And actually really good. Amanda also got the chips and dip with her meal, and commented that it was the closest to our “gold standard” in house-made chip dips, the stuff we used to get at our old hangout Slim & Jumbo’s in Garrettsville. Yes, we have a rating system on chip dips. Just like our group has a top five on pretty much everything else in this world. These things really shouldn’t surprise you at this point.

So, yeah, if you put all of those photos above together … you can see that our server had more than enough reason to laugh at us when we ordered all of it. Because clearly she knew what was in store for us. It must be like initiation for her when new people come in and think that they are “hungry enough” to finish all of that. Lesson learned.

Well, maybe. Shane eventually surrendered his draft beer and switched to rum and diet because he was getting so full on his burger that he figured that would help to “save stomach space.” Of course I benefited from that by taking the rest of his beer when the first mixed drink came. Thanks honey.

Although I think he regretted his choice as soon as he took the first sip of said drink … and realized it was pretty much just all rum. I joked that they knew he was saving space so they were trying to help by taking out the carbonation.

Ted meanwhile was still giggling about the ridiculousness of specifying diet pop in a drink when we had about four million calories of food sitting in front of us.

Touche.

Ted finished his burger, although his single burger was tiny in comparison to Jerrid’s and Shane’s doubles. Jerrid also got the clean plate award. Shane meanwhile left just under a very-neatly-cut quarter of his on his plate. Who is this guy? Please tell me moderately healthy Shane is not making a return.

Everyone said the wings were really good. And they were big, too – for the insanely low price of $7/dozen, you’d expect them to be smaller, but they were actually decent sized. Amanda and Jerrid were big fans of the Kentucky bourbon ones, but Ted rated the hot sauce better in his book. Although he really only somewhat sampled the hot wings, and then ended up taking most of them home. Since, well, let’s be honest, he already had about three full meals before he got to that item on his personal menu.

One third of Ted's meal

One third of Ted’s meal

Shane also took his wings home. Because, well, giant burger. It was strange to see the guys leaving with doggy bags and not the girls this time around.

So, after all was said and done in this evening, I feel it’s necessary to mention that mine and Shane’s final tab, for the two of us, was $47. Total. To recap, that’s for a huge appetizer, a giant double burger with chips, a wrap with chips, a dozen wings, five miller lite drafts and three tall rum and diets – which were potent enough that Shane had to use the elementary school method of “carrying the one” on the paper when doing math on the final tab before we left.

I’m not sure what kind of alternate cheap dive bar universe we stumbled into here, but we may just never leave. For real.

Especially when we discovered that the Caddyshack Inn also hosts karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights – and that there was a small possibility that the bartenders working those evenings might let “Shane Newton” stand actually ON the bar while drunkenly belting out Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar.” In fact, our server/bartender – who we absolutely loved, and who was fantastic at both her job and keeping up with our high level of sarcastic requests and comments – actually recommended that we come back in two weeks for karaoke.

Us (since she had already told us she doesn’t work weekends): Why, will you be here that night?
Her: Well, if THAT’S happening then I definitely will be

Yes.

How many more visits until we can become regulars? Because I think we may have just found our new life’s goal. Just sayin.

Shane (aka Popeye)

Shane (aka Popeye)

Bromance

Bromance

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  I think the Windsor Pub may have a rival for amount of rum that can fit in one tall glass while still calling it a mixed drink. 
Food:
We definitely learned our lesson about ordering appetizers and meals here. Pick one or the other. But regardless you won’t be disappointed.
Service: You know how much we enjoy servers with a sense of humor, and this was no exception. And for manning both the bar and the floor tables, she was exceptional.
Overall: It may be a good thing this place isn’t closer to us, because WTGW may just turn into Caddyshack Everynight. And we would then either be 400 lbs, or die of heart attacks within a month. But it may be worth it.

Next Pick: Steph