WTGW 6/26/19: Jimmy’s on Portage, North Canton

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THE WHERE (we went)

Welcome to summer, kids, when our weekly picks are sometimes based solely on the ability to sit on a patio we haven’t been to yet.

I think we all have to have two options as we go into each week – someplace that fits the previous statement, and a “Plan B” for if Mother Nature decides to be a whore and throw some thunderstorms or 1200% humidity in our direction about 10 minutes before we set out the door.

Gotta love you, Ohio.

Anyway, Jimmy’s on Portage does in fact have a decent sized patio, and you can tell that that’s where the crowd gravitates on nice evenings since they essentially shut down the interior portion of the restaurant in order to cater to that section. As in, when you enter you’re greeted with a sign directing you down the hallway to the patio. It’s like being invited over for a party and finding out the hosts didn’t want to clean the house in advance of people arriving so they just hang a sign on the front door directing everyone to the backyard.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Have we mentioned before how much we love servers who are able to actually tell us things they like on he menu, instead of just cheerfully replying that “everything is good”? We have? Well, OK then, I’ll mention it again, because our server at Jimmy’s was on the ball in this arena. Maybe she’s just used to answering this question – although, from the looks of the crowd, I’m guessing their clientele are primarily regulars and that a group of newbies like us is a true rarity – or maybe she was just wanting to be done with us and therefore just picking items out of thin air – but she honestly had a quick response that included something from every section of the menu. So regardless of her reasons, well, she chose wisely.

Her recommendations included crab cakes for apps, strawberry field salad under the lighter options, and the spicy signature burger for a sandwich. She also let us know that they were out of pizzas for the night, a tidbit that I think made the decisions of about half of our group slightly easier.

Ted took her suggestion on the signature burger, which he ordered with no cheese (shocker) and a side of baked beans. Apparently Ted is in the mood for a backyard barbeque this evening.

This is what arrived.

Now that’s a burger

Holy hell.

He was a bit unsure how to tackle eating this monstrosity. I mean, I think I would be more shocked at anyone who didn’t feel that way. But he did it. I have a video of the event, but I think I’ll save everyone that image and just post this as proof instead.

So that worked.

A guy across the bar later came over to commend Ted n his skills handling that burger, as he wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out when he saw Ted first picking it up.

Ted: Me either.

It should be noted that when we placed our orders he has also seriously been contemplating ordering a second sandwich – the grilled sausage sandwich – because he said it looked really good.

After what arrived in front of him in the form of that specialty burger, I’m going to go on record as saying it was probably a solid choice not to add that on to this order.

Maybe next time. Or maybe he’ll be better at persuading one of us to order it instead, something he tried REALLY HARD to do on this visit but to no avail.

Due in part because aside from this insane specialty three-burgers-in-one montrosity, the rest of the regular burger menu is only $5 on Wednesdays. And anyone who knows our group knows that we take frugality almost as seriously as we take our food choices.

So that’s what Shane opted for. Along with two Coney dogs. And an order of the sloppy taco nachos that he and I were sharing.

I think the server was impressed. Or scared. It’s hard to tell, those emotions can look similar when dealing with people who order their weight’s worth of food in one sitting.

Spoiler alert, Shane was cursing frugality once the meals arrived, because he was insanely jealous of Ted’s giant burger. i mean, not quite as jealous as the time at The Game when Ted ate a giant grease-dripping-from-every-edge burger while “healthy Shane” sat across from him eating some veggie nachos or quesadillas or something that wasn’t a salad bit that he chose in an attempt to not inhale a heart attack on a plate … but still. It was a close second.

I can’t imagine why Ted wouldn’t trade his giant burger for that bowl of liquid cheese that they call nachos here

I think Shane said at least five times that he really should’ve ordered that instead of the spread he ended up with. As impressive as it was.

Over on the “we don’t overdo it” side of the table, Cassi got the Italian sub, minus the peppercinis, and a side salad.

I got the BLT. Just kidding. I think I’m scarred for life on those after the Great Fakon Incident of 2019. Instead I opted for the $5 burger special with a side salad.

Are we even at the same table?

Remember how we were all excited because the server was great and knew everything on the menu and we thought this showed real potential because that’s something we LOVE about places we visit? Well, not to be outdone, Jimmy’s then turned around and hit us with the complete opposite, the thing we HATE most about restaurants … the dreaded mass food arrival.

When we’d been there for an hour and three rounds of drinks, and still hadn’t even seen the appetizers or salads, we kind of knew things were headed down this dark path. And then bam, here come three people out of the kitchen with literally ALL THE PLATES.

And people wonder why we always gravitate toward the largest table in the place?

I believe the words being spoken with a hand gesture here are “look at all this food!”

THE WHO (we saw)

So how do I put this gently … it was kind of like dining on the set of the movie Cocoon up in this place. I mean, on one hand, it’s nice to be in our 30s/40s and look around and feel like the youngest people on the patio. Well, I mean, other than the couple of people who were just a tiny bit younger than us and literally there with their parents. But then again, the last time we ended up at a place with a crowd this far out of our age range I think we were served the infamous tarter toast and not-sweet bean salad.

But that being said, this crowd wasn’t taking getting old sitting down. Or really, much of anything sitting down. There was a band on the patio this evening, and I think we were actually one of the few tables to not get up and rush the concrete area in front of the stage that was being used as a dance floor every time a new song started up.

That, folks, was worth the price of admission all in itself. Cuz some of those folks got moves.

THE HOW (much we paid)

$58 for an app, two burger specials, coney dogs, and eight draft beers (that’s three for me and five for Shane, if anyone is keeping track). Not too shabby.

Plus, I mean, the entertainment. Say no more.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

So the patio is actually pretty nice. There’s no view of a lake, or a golf course, or .. well … anything, really, since the patio is actually just a fenced in portion of the parking lot … but still. It’s spacious enough for several tables, a large bar, a stage and a dance floor. Compared with places that put like three cabaret tables in the middle of a public sidewalk and call that patio seating, I’d say this is a win.

And the food was honestly far better than expected given the idea I think we all got of Jimmy’s when we drove up (read: it obviously used to be a drive-thru restaurant of some kind – Arby’s maybe? – in a previous life). I mean, that burger Ted got was something else. I think we’ll be referencing that one as a burger by which other burgers should be compared against – even if it’s just in size alone – for some time to come. I have a feeling we’ll find ourselves here again down the road.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Jason … but since he’s on hiatus at the moment due to scheduling conflicts, we defer to Ted

Steph

Cassi

Shane

Ted

*****UPDATE******

So as I was going in a few weeks later to put the finishing touches on this post, I discovered an article saying that Jimmy’s would actually be closing just a few days from now, on July 19th.
The Curse of Gus’ strikes again, perhaps? I guess it was foreshadowing that that restaurant was referenced in this post long before we knew the fate that Jimmy’s would take just a few weeks after our visit.
In any case, thanks for the fun night, Jimmy’s. We’re sorry we won’t get the chance to return.
And let’s have a brief moment of silence for this burger we’ll unfortunately never have the chance to experience again. At least we – or, well, Ted, anyway – had this one opportunity.
Sorry, Shane.

WTGW 5/29/19: PICK’S at PLX, Portage Lakes

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey kids, it’s patio season again!

And this week’s pick is certainly the poster child for an evening of outdoor dining and drinks. PICK’S is a newer addition to Portage Lakes, and being that it’s located right on the waterfront of course it’s a natural crowd draw. Formerly Nicolette’s Park Place Restaurant and also the catchily named Hook, Line and Drinkers, PICK’s has new owners who remodeled and turned the building into a couple of separate-but-maybe-the-same-but-they-have-different-names-but-share-a-kitchen-but-one-is-trying-to-be-classier-than-the-other venues all under one roof and patio space.

Yet another place that probably should’ve just claimed the name Identity Crisis and been done with it. Seriously, One day we’re going to find a place that takes us up on that concept, whether by our suggestion or not.

Bet you won’t be surprised then that we had a bit of a difficult time trying to figure out just how and where to go to get ourselves a seat in this land of patios and a million names. We walked into the upstairs restaurant first (I believe that one goes by the name Table 530) – but it seemed a little fancy for the patio bar we had heard about and expected to partake in.

So we walked out and followed the noise to the back of the building, where we located a (fully seated) side bar, as well as several layers of decks over the water. And a live band.

About this point we realized we were in the right place, but needed to enlist help in order to ensure a seat. So Jason stopped a girl wearing what looked to be the same shirt that every other worker was wearing, and inquired how we go about getting a table. Her reply? “Yeah, I don’t work over here.” Hmmm. That seems highly unlikely, and more like the answer you give when you just don’t want to be bothered having to find out the real one. Awesome.

We finally flagged down another worker (wearing the same shirt, shocker) – only to have her tell us that we could just basically sit anywhere. Oh. Fabulous. Might want to share that tidbit with the girl who’s raiding your t-shirt stock. Or maybe just make a sign with that information. Just a thought.

All that to say that we ended up with a table inside and not on the patio, since we clearly weren’t the only ones with this idea tonight and we were also late to the literal party.  But at least with the garage doors rolled up it was similar to being outside. And it’s only May peeps, hopefully we still have several months ahead of us to stake out that coveted patio table. Chill.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Hey, look, all the servers are wearing t-shirts advertising White Claw, so at least we know they have it! Yay!

Yeah, just kidding. They’re sold out. Apparently that’s all anyone was drinking over the recent Memorial Day weekend? I mean, guess there’s no sense in restocking or anything.

Oh, wait, the holiday crowd also enjoys Summer Shandy, because they were all out of that also.

Ted ended up with a Guinness. Because nothing says light, summery, patio/beachy drink like a heavy dark Irish beer usually reserved for a winter holiday.

Beer twins Shane and Jason opted for draft Bud Light.

I picked some Michelob Ultra Lime thing, pretty much only because after the two strikes with White Claw and Summer Shandy, it was the most likely option not to be sold out. Well, other than Guinness.

Cassi waited to put a drink order in on that first round, since the White Claw debacle left her unsure of a Plan B. This turned out to be a bad move on her part, since it was at least an hour before the next opportunity arose for her to ask the server to put in a drink order for her.

More on that later.

The Wednesday special is a pepperoni flatbread for $7.99. So why not order that as an app to share?

And by share I mean just for two people to share, not five – so we ended up with two giant pizzas on our table just for appetizers, as well as one order of fried pickles for Ted.

Nothing new there, I know.

Cassi and I both got the Italian Grinder with chips and dip.

Jason got a burger.

Shane got garlic parm wings.

Ted got the perch sandwich and a crock of chili. I seriously think his internal calendar is a little off. I’m not even sure why chili is on a menu in late May, but I would be a little wary. Clearly Ted is a man who takes chances.

The guys also switched to buckets of beer after Ted told them he “saw a sign” stating that they were $12 each. Yeah, he forgot to read the fine print on the sign that says during UFC fights. Whoops.

Also, you’ll notice they didn’t share a bucket. They each got their own. So five beers each, on top of the ones they had ordered in the first round.

I told you Wednesdays were the new Fridays.

Ted’s disappointment was obvious when the fried pickles arrived in the form of spears instead of chips. Note to restaurant owners: stop trying to make this a thing. If we wanted to eat pickles that look like breadsticks we would just go back to Dilly D’s. We do have an unused gift card, after all.

The flatbread was probably the best part of the meal. The crust was good, it had decent flavor, and it was served nice and hot with melted cheese – which may have been the one and only reason Ted was happy he had those fried pickles, in whatever iteration they were served.

Shane liked his wings, said they were tasty.

Cassi was not a fan of the Italian sub, claiming it fell victim to the dreaded curse of the mushy bottom. It’s not just for pizza, kids. Meanwhile, I thought mine was OK. I took half home, just because when you order a meal as an appetizer you kind of end up with a lot of food.

Or at least I tried to take it home anyway. More on that shortly.

THE WHO (we saw)

Dear server,

We miss you. We shouldn’t have to order six buckets of beer at a time just to stay hydrated until we see you again.

Oh and we like food. I mean, we kinda wanted to put that appetizer order in when you arrived with the first round of drinks, but I guess we just didn’t look hungry enough. Our bad.

Also, I’m not sure what kind of commission you get on not handing out boxes, but it must be lucrative. For the record, “I’d love a box” – or, the less friendly derivative, “Still waiting on that box” – isn’t exactly a warm and welcoming reaction to the question “how are you guys doing here?” Staring at plates of half eaten food that we already know we aren’t planning on finishing that evening wasn’t exactly the way we had planned to spend the final hour of our time with you, but I guess you had other ideas for us.

If you want to be mad at someone for the time you bounced up all proud of yourself for bringing the box I had asked for at least four times, only to arrive at our table and see that I already had one … well, you may want to speak with your manager, who knew exactly the correct translation of my mentioned-above answer when he stopped at our table. In fact, I would wager a bet that he spoke with you after we left, so hopefully that’s all clear now.

And when you finally took our credit cards and we felt like the end of this evening may finally be in sight … nope, you marched off to the patio and collected like six more checks. Forgive our mistrust in thinking we were probably going to be paying for Shirley’s PBRs or receiving back Bearded Tom’s Mastercard in place of our own.

Sorry not sorry,
Us.

So that pretty much covers the service issue.

Aside from the fun game of rationing out our drinks and taking bets on when we thought we might actually see our server the next time, our entertainment for the evening was a guy singing beach music in the opposite corner of the patio. Well, at least we think that’s what he was singing anyway. It was probably the only time ever that the music volume was more like background noise and less like something we had to scream over to be heard at our own table.

Speaking of screaming, we heard quite of bit of that from several other tables in the vicinity. Usually when he next platter of shots arrived. Seems like vodka may be the next item on the menu to go temporarily unavailable. Just an observation.

THE HOW (much we paid)

Hey, remember those beer buckets? Looks like they were only $15. I mean, still more than the sign Ted saw, but I guess paying only $3 more than anticipated isn’t so bad. We’ll file that under the “could’ve been worse” tab.

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

We all know that service can kill a place for us. And this place definitely tops the list of worst of the worst. I think by the end of the night we had dubbed it the place for which beer buckets were invented – so you can order several beers at once and then never have to see your server again in the course of your stay.

But we also noticed that several other servers seemed to be busting their butts taking care of their patrons. There was one in particular who was mixing up drinks behind the bar as well as hustling out to tables. So I guess if we could guarantee that we were to get one of those servers, we would be more likely to put this place at the top of the return column. Because honestly the food was OK – I mean, we may order some different things, but we all agreed that we would eat there again. And the atmosphere was great, it’s definitely a place to spend a summer evening or weekend afternoon, especially with a good band that you could actually hear, and nice weather.

I happened across this little gem from about a year ago in which the new owner raves about how they are “trying hard to tackle customer service … we want to be customer service friendly.”

Yeah, keep trying there, Donnie. We may just come back again before this summer is over to see how you’re doing.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 1/9/19: 44Sharp, Randolph

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THE WHERE (we went)

To a place really far away, with not a whole lot else around. Which is always the best choice for a night wraught with consistent blinding snowstorms, right?

Yeah, we thought so, too.

44Sharp looks to be a relatively newer place over somewhere to the east of Spingfield. Which, of course, brought up Shane’s favorite “let’s head back to the place with only two things on the menu” conversation.

I know you all are on pins and needles for that revisit. Well, OK, maybe everyone except Shane. Unless of course they were serious about that whole reworking the menu thing, in which case he keeps insisting we’ll be sorry for making fun of it then.

Time will tell.

Anyway.

It seems that 44Sharp hosts a lot of bands on the weekends. Or maybe they just like to have people stand around being taller than the rest of the crowd at certain times. But probably more so the band thing.

Hella sponsorship of that stage area there Budweiser

Also, the entire place just has a lot of free space in general. There’s also a room with pinball and other bar games, a bar by the door to what we assumed was probably the outdoor patio, and another room with pool tables. It’s like the middle of nowhere equivalent of a Dave & Buster’s.

Of course it also helped that we were five of about the collective ten people in the place for the evening, so, you know, size is relative when you’re not exactly fighting your way through a crowd to get a table, I guess.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Hey guess what, we ordered burgers and wings. Shocker. Maybe we should’ve just stopped a half hour sooner back in Springfield after all.

On his first visit to the table, the bartender shared with us that Wednesdays are burger night – which equates to $2 off all burgers. He also made a point to tell us that the best one is the Rodeo burger. Nice to see recommendations before we had to ask. This is definitely something new.

Although we noticed as we put our orders in that they didn’t ask how we wanted the burgers to be cooked, which we all know by now could be the curse that later delivers condiment-laded charcoal briquettes to our table. Oh, the suspense!

Cassi and Jason got breaded mushrooms as their app.

Little hot oil bombs

No one else ordered an app, although the guys all got wings to go with their burgers so I guess that’s kind of the same thing. Ted got Cajun, while Shane and Jason both used their food soulmate powers to pick BBQ.

It’s like the Sahara desert up in here

The BBQ was a dry rub, which ended up being a bit regretful. Better luck next time.

They also both got the Rodeo Burger. See, I’m not kidding about that soulmate thing. Except Jason got his with cheddar cheese, while Shane kept it with the menu-allotted pepper jack.

When the server delivered Jason’s he made a point to call it the “almost Rodeo burger.”
We appreciate sass from servers. It makes us feel like they’re one of the group.

We also appreciate when they look out for us, as was the case when Ted ordered the Brunch burger, sans cheese (of course) … and it later arrived looking like this:


Yeah, that’s cheese. I mean, it’s a fried egg, too, but the burger was definitely covered in melted cheese. And we all know how thrilled that makes our friend Ted, who immediately started in trying to rid the dish of it before it got cold and congealed to any portion of the sandwich.

The server was quite concerned when he saw Ted furiously scraping cheese from the top of the patty.

Server: Dude, what’s this? I put the order in for no cheese. I can send it back. I’m sorry. Are you allergic?
Ted: No, I just don’t like cheese.
Server: Well fuck then, you’ve got this.

Turns out Shane was all too happy to take the scraped off cheese remnants for part of his own meal.

Well if that doesn’t look appetizing

This is true friendship, people. And they aren’t even the food soulmates.

Meanwhile, on the non-drama side of the table, I got the Firecracker burger with additional mushrooms.
The sauce was spicy. Not a bad spicy, definitely a good spicy, but spicy nonetheless.

I just like saying spicy apparently.

And Cassi got the BLT burger.
So remember when I mentioned the distinct possibility for well-done charcoal briquettes? Yeah, that’s kind of what we ended up with here. The burgers were definitely on the burnt side. Even Cassi – who hardly ever admits to things being well done – couldn’t deny that these were bordering on the edge of left in front of the flame thrower a bit too long.

Especially because her burger had no sauce on it, so it somewhat resembled the consistency of a tumbleweed rolling through the desert. The rest of us agreed that if not for the abundance of condiments on ours, we would probably feel the same way. The sauces were good, the meat not so much.

THE WHO (we saw)

Well, I can tell you who we didn’t see, and that’s many other patrons. As mentioned already, there were probably only five other people in the place throughout the course of the evening. Not five groups, literally five other individuals. I mean, I get that it was a Wednesday night, and a crappy weather one at that. But there’s also not seemingly a whole lot else around the area, so it’s not like there’s an Olive Garden down the road just teaming with people who wanted a hot meal in the middle of the week.

I would definitely be intrigued to see the place on a weekend. And what kind of crowd a band brings in. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there’s a lot of line dancing that happens when they move these dinner tables out of the dance floor space.

Anyway.

Perhaps the trade off to this is that we did see the bartender/server quite frequently. In fact, I’d go on record to say that this may have been some of the best service we’ve ever had.

Ever.

That’s strong language.

I mean, granted it’s not like he had a ton of other people to keep him busy – but it’s also not like we haven’t been to places before where we’ve been close to the only table there and still gone long stretches between visits from the server.

Jilly’s, I’m looking at you while I say this. Don’t pretend you don’t see the stare.

But at 44Sharp, the bartender came right over to greet us as we walked in, came back with the first round of drinks and menus quickly, and stopped back frequently to check on us. Bonus points for noticing when drinks were almost empty while delivering food to the table, and asking if we wanted refills – as well as not taking the nearly empty drink away when the new one was set down.

Which I didn’t even realize was something I had to be worried about until my half full mixed drink was whisked out of sight and replaced with a new one at another establishment a few weeks ago. Unless you’re planning to magically make half of the cost disappear off my final bill, that’s not cool.

THE HOW (much we paid)

Three tequilas and sodas were $12.75, thanks in part to a Wednesday ladies night special that equated to $1 off mixed drinks. Which we definitely appreciated. Maybe better luck getting the girls out in droves for that one in the summer, though.

But then I think I made the difference back on my meal. So here’s a little restaurant math lesson for you … if burgers are $5 on the Wednesday night special, but then I paid 75 cents for the “extra mushrooms” and another $1.99 for tots that I thought actually came with the meal, am I not just back to the original price again before the Wednesday special?

The answer is almost. A burger with tots or fries is normally $8.99, plus the 75 cents would be 9.74, then take away $2 for the Wednesday special … oh hell, I’m over it by now. Did I mention there was also tequila?
THE WHY (they will/won’t see us again)

They definitely get an A+ for service. I mean, granted for a portion of the evening we were the only people in the place – but honestly given our group’s track record I sometimes think that makes us even more invisible. The bartender/server here was great, though. Also, they have a weekend steak special – a 12 oz for $9.99 – so that obviously intrigued Shane and Ted. I’d put this as a solid maybe. If the right band was playing. And it wasn’t snowing. And we didn’t order burgers.

Did I make that clear enough?

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

Cassi

Jason