WTGW 10/9/19: Erie St. Kitchen, Kent

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Did you miss us? Because we sure missed you, friends.

Or, well, let’s be honest, we missed going new places with you. Yes, we realize it’s been a hot minute of revisits since our last true pick. It seems like the past month has been a game of tag within our group, as each week brought a new reason for one or the other of us to not be available.

See also: life. Adulting is hard sometimes.

Anyway.

So, since it’s been a good amount of time since we had a real pick, I bet you’re assuming that we have a real good one lined up for our first week back to normal, right?

Well, we all know what happens when we assume.

There’s your set up, folks. Read the rest at your own risk.

On a positive note, I can say that at first glance, Erie St Kitchen showed quite a bit of potential. Cassi had looked up the menu online before picking it (duh, who doesn’t? Oh, well, us, sometimes, I guess – but really I think that’s more the establishment’s fault for not having a website in the first place) and was confident about her findings. And as we were sitting in the booth staring at the printed menus, we agreed. The specialty seems to be a lot of southern style food like jambalaya, plantains, gumbo, po boys and so forth. And when you can get Nashville style hot chicken in Kent, Ohio, you can’t pass that up, can you?

Um. Well. We’ll get back to that one, but let’s just save everyone some time and say that the answer, apparently, is yes, yes you can.

We should’ve realized our misstep when we sat down in the booth at the far corner, and in assessing the lay of the land, realized that we would need to get up and visit the bar for a drink, and the kitchen window for the food. Hmmm. OK. So basically this is just one step above a drive thru, then? Nice. I mean, they do bring the food over to you, you don’t have to get back up and pick it up from the window. But still. That’s like saying when you order fries at McDonald’s from the drive thru and they tell you that they just ran out but are making a fresh batch, and instead of making you come in to claim them you just have to pull over to the side and wait for someone to run them outside to your car. Cool.

Or not. Not cool at all, Erie St Kitchen.

Well, while we’re waiting for our food and not conversing with wait staff at all, let’s look around and try to figure out the vibe, shall we? I mean, we’re in a college town, so obviously we expect to see students around us. OK, check. But then there were also several tables of folks old enough to be our parents. OK. Professors, maybe? Townies? Parents of students in town for that elusive and probably not entirely welcome mid-week surprise visit? It’s a mystery.

Interesting.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Ted went full southern on us, ordering the fried plantains and jambalaya.

All of which arrived in front of him approximately 3.2 seconds after he ordered it. Like I don’t even think Jason and Shane were back from placing our respective orders yet by the time Ted’s arrived at the table. And his plate was almost clean before ours even left the kitchen.

So let this be your takeaway: if you’re hungry, apparently plantains and jambalaya are the salsa and chips of this place. So place that order and have no worries about hitting that hangry phase before your food arrives.

You’re welcome.

Cassi and Jason ordered what may be one of the strangest items ever to grace an appetizer menu: deviled eggs.

Because nothing screams bar kitchen like some eggs filled with mayo and mustard. I mean, it’s not tarter toast. But. Well. You get where I’m going here.

Anyway.

Cassi got the Nashville chicken dinner with the pimento mac & cheese. She also subbed the cole slaw for a side salad.

Yes, you read that right – pimento mac & cheese. That alone almost swayed my decision in that favor. But instead I went with the Nashville chicken “snack,” which is apparently a code word for “chicken tenders.” I also opted for a side salad.

Shane and I started off with a basket of tots.

On the “we love burgers” side of the table, Shane got the bacon blue burger with a side of fries and Jason got the goat cheese burger.

THE VERDICT

Ted gave a big thumbs up to the plantains, saying that the sauce was a little bit spicy but the plantains themselves were sweet.

He was not as vocal about the jambalaya, calling it just OK.

The deviled eggs got that same verdict.

Shane was not a fan of the burger. He said it had zero flavor at all. He had to douse it in some of the sirachi mayo that came with my chicken tenders just to make it edible.

Although I think I would take no flavor over the flavor I’ll lovingly call “WTF” that was all over my tenders. The chicken was spicy, sure – as Nashville hot chicken should be, duh – but the initial taste was more like a vinegary floury … mess.

Because that’s what you want in a product description, no?

I couldn’t even eat them.

Thank god for the smallest bowl of lettuce ever and a crapton of tater tots, I guess. Dinner of champions.

Cassi’s chicken was much better, which was strange because, well, essentially it was supposed to be pretty much the same thing as what I ordered. Hmmm. We eventually deduced that hers came with sauce on it and mine came with the sauce on the side, so perhaps the five alarm fire hot sauce was just masking the initial taste?

The only salvageable thing for me was the white peach margarita I had, although the amount of sugar in it probably equals about 75 candy bars.

Overall I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we won’t be returning to the Erie St Kitchen. I mean we could basically get the same service if we go get takeout and bring it back to our own kitchen to eat. And at least then there’s also ingredients there to doctor it up when it’s not edible too.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

WTGW 11/21/18: Mac’s Cabana #9, Akron

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Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and … well, we were out eating and drinking, because it’s always a Wednesday night.

It’s only been five years now, folks. Pay attention.

Shane had a special request to take on this year’s annual pick, so we shuffled things around a bit to give him the honor. And let me tell you, what an honor it was.

Mac’s Cabana #9 is … well … about the furthest thing you can get from a cabana, ever. I think from the name we were picturing something resembling a tiki bar, perhaps, or maybe something beach themed. Yeah, no. It’s clearly just another dive bar, which happen to be in an old Lawson’s or Dairy Mart or whatever convenience store you most align with. Because that screams “welcome to our beach bar,” no?

No.

Although you have to wonder right off about a place that has a number sign in the title. Yes, kids, I said NUMBER SIGN – because long before # was called a hashtag, it was used to denote numbers. But, like, why is it #9? Is this the ninth attempt and they finally feel they got it right? Are there eight more somewhere else? Does Mac just like nines the best? WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

In our case I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it means “9 times out of 10 we won’t choose to return here.”

Not that I think any of the regulars would be upset about that, since we pretty much heard the record screech and the deafening silence after our group of newbies entered. That was after we passed a guy on the way in who stopped dead in his tracks to stare at our group, and said aloud “Oh, well, OK then.”

Good to see you as well.

Moving on … we find a table for the group, and realize we’re actually out early enough for happy hour. Yay! Hey, nice bartender lady, what specials might we be able to take advantage of?

Yeah, she had no idea. Super.

Instead, she asked if we were eating, and then – in what has become a somewhat weekly and definitely unwelcome game – she had to go search out some menus. All three of them. And when we asked about any food specials she pointed and said “whatever is on the board over there.”

Oh, wait, you mean the board that we couldn’t see from our table because there was a giant crowd of bar patrons standing in front of it? That’s helpful. Why can’t you just walk over and read them to us? Or maybe glance at it enough times to perhaps have committed a few of them to memory? I mean, you do pass it every time you have to come to our table and all.

But then again we also asked her what beers she had on draft, and were basically told to read the handles ourselves. So even though she’s behind the bar all the time, she didn’t know. Or couldn’t remember. Or just didn’t want to tell us. DO YOU EVEN WORK HERE?

I’m not sure if all of this is painting a better picture of her personality or the place in general.

Wisely, Shane didn’t even bother asking her what meals were good there. By this point I think we were all starting to realize that no one really eats at Mac’s. Or talks to strangers. Or knows how to do their jobs.

So this seems promising.

But hey, since the whole point of this is to try new places, of course we stuck it out and put in our food orders. And then just crossed our fingers that they arrived at the table correctly.

So far so good on the appetizers. Although when you order an array of fried things, you kind of hope that falls on the difficult to screw up list. Shane and I ordered mozzarella sticks, and Ted got the fried green beans.

Looks normal

The only acceptable way to eat vegetables in our group

Ted liked his app. He said the breading was Italian seasoned, and they were crunchy without being overdone.

Ours were, well, cheese sticks. I mean, there’s really nothing new I can say about them except that they tasted like breaded cheese, so at least we know we got the right thing.

Cassi and Jason were a little more adventurous, choosing the bacon cheddar fries. They didn’t say much about them, but did eat them, so I’m going to assume they were acceptable.

Just proving you can add cheese to anything to make it better

For meals, it was burgers for four out of five of us. Because, you know, even when given the choice to pick anything off of a menu that has more than two things, that’s typically still our go to option.

Ah, that joke never gets old. Right, Shane?

Anyway.

I got the Bacon, Mushroom and Swiss burger with onion rings.

The real toppings are hiding apparently, because this looks a lot like just a lettuce and onion burger

Ted got the Cabana Burger, which was like my burger, but it had the seasoning baked into it and was topped with a wasabi mayo. According to Ted, it was “just different enough that he had to order it.”

It sure doesn’t look different. Maybe we should’ve turned the flash on?

Shane got the Bacon Cheeseburger Special with fries. So did Jason. Try to hide your surprise on that one. Instead focus on the fact that something from the specials menu actually did exist.

OK, never mind on that flash. Some things are more appetizing in the dark. It is a dive bar, after all.

Meanwhile, the only non-burger order of the group goes to Cassi, who chose the BLT with egg and cheese, along with a side of onion rings.

One of these things is not like the other

Shane also got six of the Sriacha Bourbon jumbo wings. Or at least that’s what the menu called them. They arrived looking strangely like just normal sized wings.

Cassi: Those are jumbo?
Shane: I guess to some people.

Must’ve gotten the runt of the “jumbo” chicken group

The food was … well … about as impressive as the service at this place, which should tell you about everything you need to know at this point. But I’ll elaborate anyway.

The burgers were dry. Which I guess we should’ve known was coming – because, as Jason pointed out, when they don’t ask anyone how they want the burgers cooked, we should pretty much assume that means they’ll arrive more well done than those hot dogs you see that have clearly been on the gas station roaster for the past 24 hours.

Ted’s was slightly better because all of the seasoning was baked into it – which is saying something considering his also had no cheese holding it together – so I guess his attempt at ordering something different paid off in this case. But by slightly better that also doesn’t necessarily mean it was by any means good, so take that as you will.

According to Shane, the only reason to order that burger again would be if there was a battery acid spill somewhere nearby that needed cleaned up. Because that’s a raving endorsement, no?

We did agree that the bun – which was buttered and toasted – was by far the best part of the sandwich. So I guess if you’re in the mood to pay $9 for some bread then this is your place. Although to that I’d say that a full bag of hamburger buns – even the fancy kind – and a stick of butter are far less expensive at the grocery store, and you’ll probably also get better service, so maybe just go that route.

Hey, speaking of, let’s check back in with that server who didn’t know the specials, or the beers, or really anything about the place other than how to serve drinks to the regulars crowded around the bar, shall we? Yeah, well, we’d love to, but we haven’t seen her since our food arrived at the table, so guess we’re on our own here. Jason was waiting for ketchup for pretty much the entirety of our meal – which makes the time we asked for ketchup and got a boatful of it sound pretty appealing in retrospect. The next time we saw our delightful server was when she happened to glance over and take a cue that we were ready to make our way out the door, so she thought best to bring our checks before we disappeared.

And – shocker – she also managed to screw those up. Our check had Jason’s name on it, while Cassi and Jason’s had Shane’s on it. I get that they ordered the same thing, but really they are different people. And Ted even took the time to walk the server through who was on what checks before she went to draw them up.

Hi, my name is ______

*sigh*

It wasn’t until she tried to run Jason’s card that she realized the mistake she had made with the names on the checks. Oh, hi there reality, welcome to the party. She came back over and admitted her mistake, because apparently the computers were down – after our card and Ted’s were both run with no problems, so that’s kind of weird, but whatever. Since we were more than ready to get out of this non-Cabana by this point, Jason just gave her cash … and then we waited for her to return with change. And waited. And discussed where to go next to get more drinks, since it was still early and this place was not worthy of any more of our money.

But wait … apparently our server thought she was just that, as it soon became obvious that “do you need change” was a question of the rhetorical variety in her book. Because as we watched, she went back about serving patrons at the bar, clearly thinking we were about to just be out of her life forever without another thought. Um, no. See, funny story, you only get to keep that amount of money if you actually pay attention to your patrons. You know, like those regulars at the bar that you definitely prefer talking to – they probably tip you well. And it’s probably well deserved, considering the number of shots you’re convincing them to buy, and the quickness with which you refill their beers. But us new people at the table who don’t know the beer handles by heart … well, let’s just say we don’t tip ghosts over here.

After an awkward confrontation in which Jason had to approach her and explain that no, really, you aren’t worth all of the extra money left over from the bill, we naturally got the hell out of there faster than a gang of bank robbers. Which means we forgot to take our photos first, because, well let’s just say we all enjoy NOT getting into bar fights, especially early in the evening before a holiday.

While Mac’s was a bust, that’s not to say the entire evening was a wash, as we ended up getting a few rounds of drinks down at the new South Point Tavern in Green (which only serves drinks, no food, so it was worth a stop as a #2 on an already-number-themed WTGW) and then ended the evening with an epic karaoke session at The Clubhouse – where we almost did see a bar fight – over napkins, apparently, of all things – but it had nothing to do with our group so it made it far more acceptable. And since we didn’t eat there, it’s still a solid choice for someone down the road, so I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of this place for the WTGW crew. Just putting that out there.

We’ll bring our own napkins, though, just in case.

Picked by: Shane

WTGW 10/18/18: New Milford Cafe, Rootstown

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You guys. I think we’ve finally done it. I think we’ve may have finally found one of both the cheapest meals and the diviest bars (that we actually stayed to eat in anyway) in all of WTGW history.

Shocker that it’s under the same roof, I know.

And that roof belongs to a house.

Although the real shocker is probably that Shane didn’t pick this one this time. Say what? Since he took one for the team last week with the Missing Mountain fiasco that landed us at the table of $2 burgers at the Bailey Rd Tavern, I was up this week. And accepted the unofficial challenge to find a place that has burgers for even less than last week.

That’s right, $1 burger night.

I mean, sure, you literally have to drive to the middle of nowhere to find them. A few times I’m not even sure we were on an actual road. And then you have to park in a lot that could also double as the beginnings of a junkyard. Next to a house. And a specials sign that none of us could read because it was covered in weeds.

Sounds promising, no? Shane couldn’t stop saying “oh my goodness” as we parked the car and walked in.

For all of this trouble, we were rewarded with awkward side eye glances from all of the regulars (read: the entire bar) as we trounced our way through the maze of rooms that make up this commercial house party on steroids trying to find an open table.

Good times.

Once we finally got settled in, we were able to read the sign behind the bar, which advertised a brief list of things you could get for $1 in this establishment that evening:

  • Burgers
  • Canned domestic beers
  • Well drinks
  • Hot dogs

So, for like $10 each we could plausibly leave this place fed and semi-drunk? Score.

Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. But my guess would be some regulars of this place leave this place much more than $20 lighter and a whole lot more inebriated most Wednesdays of the month.

After about 10 minutes of sitting around, we started assuming that the neon specials board and these wonderfully artistic Sharpie menus might be the only clue as to what the kitchen was serving that evening.

Classy

I mean, because the table tent marketing worked so well for us the last time we were faced with these, right?

We meet again, old friend

But then after the guys’ second trip to the bar to get drinks – because we all know cheap drinks go down faster, right? – after which time we still hadn’t been offered menus from the bartenders, asked if we were interested in ordering food, or seen a server come anywhere near our table – one of the guys finally got up the nerve to ask if there was anything beyond the $1 menu.

Behold, they do have printed menus in this place! And in slightly better shape than the ones we got last week. I have to say that was just as surprising as … well … forget it, pretty much everything about this place is surprising in some way by this point, so never mind.

But it was because of those menus that we realized not only could you get a regular old burger for $1, but one of the “specialty” burgers for $3.50. What? Mushrooms and cheese and onions and basically all the other condiments you usually get on burgers anyway for only a mere $2.50 more? Bargains.

Or so we thought. How naive we are.

In any case, Cassi and I went that route, with both of us ordering the mushroom Swiss burger. We also got side orders of onion rings. Not the blazin hot onion rings from the table tent, though. We learned the insider tip on that one a few weeks ago, thank you very much to that server guy.

Shane also joined the $3.50 burger bandwagon, and got something called the Hillbilly burger. Because if any place is going to get that particular item correct, it seems it would be this one.

Or one would think anyway. More on that later.

Jason and Ted, meanwhile, went the cheap route and got a couple of the $1 burgers each. And fries. Apparently Shane has been replaced as Jason’s food soulmate? Such a sad day.

Shane and I also ordered the pepper jack cheese bites, and Shane got a side order of wings.

Side note: if you think wings are a strange thing to order as a side item, you obviously don’t read this blog often.

Anywho.

The server/bartender made little effort to hide the fact that she was more than a touch perturbed at having to come over all the way around the bar and over to our table to actually take our order. For shame. Forgive us for inconveniencing you, princess. I mean, I get it, you’d rather do shots behind the bar than write down some words and then later run our collective $20 worth of food to our table – but still. It is your job, after all.

Apparently job security is little more than a passing thought at this place – maybe because you probably have to live practically next door to think about driving to this netherlands more than a few days a week – but in any case let’s just say I think 60 year old waitresses at any one of those little run down truck stop diners you see by the side of the highway in the middle of nowhwere, America, could outperform her 2700 times over.

Unless it was at doing shots with patrons. As mentioned before, she was pretty good at that.

So here’s a novelty, the food arrived at our table in exactly the same lineup in which we ordered it, only with extremely large and quite noticeable time differentials between our checks. What group of five people dining together doesn’t love that? Especially when you’re hungry. Because that’s not an awkward situation for anyone, no matter how well you know one another. Do you go ahead and eat, even though you know your friends are also starving and sometimes too polite to eat from your offered plate? Do you literally watch your food get colder by the second, all the while cursing the kitchen for taking so damn long to bring out the next plate?

It’s a great test of friendship.

So Cassi and Jason’s entire order arrived first

That looks … well … like food. I think.

The fries look slightly better

They had their food for like 10 minutes before the server broke free of the bar long enough to come back over to tell Shane that they’re out of the slaw that’s supposed to go on his Hillbilly burger. Shane didn’t even remember that’s the chosen condiment that was supposed to be on his specialty burger, so he wasn’t all that concerned.

If this were a short film about our evening, this is the time when a deep and forboding narrator’s voice would say something like: BUT HE SHOULD’VE BEEN.

Hey, it’s been another 15 minutes and Ted’s order finally shows up! Horray for small miracles!

(I didn’t take any pictures of his, because it was literally the same as Jason’s. So refer back to the photo above if you want a reminder)

That just leaves me and Shane, who I guess will eat around midnight. Cool. Clearly we picked the wrong side of the table to sit on.

But, to pass the time, here’s a brief list of things we were able to enjoy about the ambiance of the place while we waited:

Continued stares from the regulars as if we’re some band of misfit outsiders. Oh, wait, to this group we probably are. I mean, I was wearing a scarf as an accessory and not just something to keep my face warm in a snowstorm, so I can see how that would be strange. Also Cassi and I both I clearly missed the memo that hoodies were the required uniform, even on women. So yes, we get it, we’re new here. Obviously being welcoming isn’t something they teach in these parts. Noted.

Music louder than the last concert I attended. And it continuously got louder as the evening wore on. We think they may have blown a speaker at some point – which, logically, only made them turn things up louder. Because distortion and partial static sounds amazing at 10,000 decibels, thanks.

Solicitation, in the form of some random woman approaching our table asking if we want to buy candy bars to help support her daughter’s prom. Whoa, what? I mean, props for figuring out that a group of bar-goers on $1 beer night is a solid audience for this type of purchase. But prom? Really? It’s October. I’m slightly curious about where that money will reside for the next seven months or so until that dance typically occurs on a school calendar.

Four of us in the group: we don’t carry cash
Ted: Sure, I’ll buy one

We also did this.

Concentration

See what happens when you leave us with nothing to do with our hands and a growing collection of empty cans on the table? Let this be a lesson to you.

The kicker was when the place ran out of Bud Light Cans after our 4th round. OK, who dropped the ball on this one? That’s like the time I walked into Starbucks and was greeted with a sign saying they ran out of coffee.

If it were me, I would tend to think that restocking would be the #1 priority on Tuesday, knowing this particular item would be essentially on fire sale the next evening. But then again priorities aren’t something that this place necessarily seems to have any sort of handle on, so again, not surprised. And at least they still had canned beer, in the form of Miller Lite, so we could continue to enjoy $1 beer night in our secondary fashion.

I should also mention that Ted – who includes both cheese and canned domestic beers on his list of things he’s not at all a fan of – went for the mixed drinks instead of beer throughout the course of the evening. He started out with Jack and coke, but then realized that “well bourbon and coke” will suffice if it falls under the umbrella of the $1 well drinks special.

This is an important point that we’ll come back to in a little bit.

Just like our meals, which finally arrived, just a hair under an hour after we placed our orders. Yay! Who doesn’t love waiting until 8:35 to eat?

Maybe the best part of the meal. That means a little more when I mention that they also weren’t totally melted inside

Why do these onion rings look different?

Before he lifted the bun to see exactly what was on the burger

Yeah, we still aren’t real sure

So, let’s take a good look at that last picture of Shane’s burger, shall we? Do you notice anything? Like maybe, just maybe, the missing slaw was the ONLY condiment on the burger that would’ve made it anything close to being “specialty”?

Because without it, he essentially just had a burger with ketchup, mustard, cheese and onions.

Mmmmm.

We even looked at the menu again (because why would the server return to pick them up from our table? Clearly no one else is using them but us) and confirmed that, yes, those were the condiments that were supposed to be on that burger. Plus slaw. Which they mysteriously don’t have. So good thing they still charged him $3.50 for it.

Me: I think McDonald’s burgers look better than that mess, with about the same condiments, and they’re only $1.

So, yeah, I’d love to say the food was worth the strange and seemingly completely unnecessary wait … but I can’t. The burgers were all burnt. Hey, here’s a clue, maybe don’t cook them so long next time and we can all eat quicker – or maybe at least at the same time?

Shane’s wings were … strange. They were almost beer battered before they were deep fried, so they looked huge – but it was like the chickens they took the wings from were also on steroids. It was like eating fried chicken, only all the pieces were in wing form.

Wait, did they just have KFC deliver something?

We also about had a battle over French fries, thanks to the fact that Ted’s fries had ALL.THE. SALT, while meanwhile Cassi (the undeniable salt lover of the group) was basically rationed about 12 little pellets over the entire order that she was sharing with Jason. And theirs came out first. How do we get such different batches? Did the server finally bring the salt shaker back after another round of tequila shots? Or did the cooks just switch shifts in the time between our separate checks of meals being finished? I mean, we were there for pretty much an entire evening between the time we placed our orders and actually ate, so I suppose it’s possible.

Speaking of being there for a while, I guess the server must’ve taken a liking to Ted and his $1 bourbon and coke orders, because his drinks seemingly got progressively bigger over the course of the evening. Like he was on some graduated plan – you mastered the rocks glass, now try a collins glass, and  … ok, now a pint … well, screw it, let’s just go straight to a 16oz drink glass.

I think if we had stayed there another hour they might’ve had him drinking bourbon and coke out of one of those giant boot steins they use in German bier halls.

He also said his last drink had no less than three large shots in it. For $1. Please tell me how they make money here.

Oh, nevermind, I know the answer to this, because I’ve seen our bills for the evening. Ready for a fun little math lesson?  Keep in mind it’s dollar burger, beer and mixed drink night, which is what the majority of us were enjoying.

Mine and Shane’s bill was $33. What? How is this more than last week’s $2 burger night? I’ll tell you – the sides. The (not very good) fried cheese balls were $4.50, and the fried chicken masquerading as wings was $10. $10! That’s 10 burgers! Or 10 beers! That’s about $1 a wing, and if he had known what was going to arrive in front of him when he ordered those, I’d wager a guess that Shane would’ve jumped that count down considerably.

Looking at his bill, Ted commented that his first real Jack and coke was 25% of his total bill. Wait, check that, the drink and the side order of fries ($4.99) were 60% of his total bill.

Even so, his entire bill was $18. For two burgers, some fries, approximately 7 tons of salt, and about half a bottle of bourbon. OK, when you look at it that way I guess that’s actually not too shabby. And it’s definitely one of the cheapest WTGW bills any of us have ever seen.

But then again, given the atmosphere of the place, and the lack of service, and the really awful food … well, it seems they really probably should’ve actually paid us to be there. Although, with this kind of intelligence behind the bar, maybe in some ways they did:

Must be that new math

And at least we left them some new table decorations. You’re welcome.

Our gift to you, New Milford Cafe

Picked by: Steph

Ted. The thumbs up is for the $18 bill. The other is for … well … everything else

Cassi

Jason

Tell us how you really feel, Shane

Steph

WTGW 10/18/17: Jilly’s Music Room, Akron

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We really should’ve had an inkling about what this night would hold when we had to get around two road closures and a near miss accident just to arrive at Jilly’s Music Room. Because all great nights start with cheating death, no?

So once we finally got there imagine our disappointment to find that the place was packed and we weren’t able to even get in the door.

Just kidding. We were actually the only ones there. At 7PM on a Wednesday. We had to ask as we walked in if, in fact, they were actually open, because we were a bit surprised to find not a single soul sitting at the bar or at any of the many tables. I mean, I get that the place is a “music room,” so they host bands, open mic nights, special events, etc – and I get that those things start later in the evening. But they also serve food, so we thought it odd that at dinner time they were completely vacant.

Spoiler alert: there’s a very good reason for that. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

So we were told to sit anywhere. Uh, thanks for that. We’ll do our best not to take all of the choice locations, what with the line following behind us and all.

All this being said, imagine our surprise when it took a hot minute for someone to come around with menus. Let’s see, we’re the only patrons here, you talked to us as we came in, you watched us sit down, you know there are no menus of any kind on the table … but yeah, sure, take your time coming around with menus at a place we’ve clearly never visited. Good plan.

Drinks were rather expensive. At least the specialty mixed drinks were anyway. But then again that turned out to be the theme of the evening. Foreshadowing, I guess.

Ted went with an IPA, Cassi got a tequila and soda, Shane went with a Jameson and ginger, and I chose a cider.

Oh, wait, scratch that, they “forgot to order more,” so no cider for me. Guess that curse falls back in my lap.

So the server brings back the drink menu along with everyone’s round of drinks so that I can pick something else … and then pretty much everyone was ready for round two by the time she came back to check if I’d picked anything else out. I must not look thirsty.

After these past few weeks, I have to believe we’ve been cursed by the spirit of awful servers.

So Jilly’s, I believe, falls under the “fancy” category of our WTGW choices. Not only is it a music place, it also features “all gluten free fare.” That’s a far cry from our usual greasy burgers, cheesy pizzas and deep fried wings. Leave it up to Ted to discover this strange world. How did they allow us inside this place anyway?

Shane and I got the potato chips and breaded mushrooms (yes, gluten free breading) as apps.

Gluten free breading does not photograph well

We almost didn’t get the mushrooms, as it seemed a bit much to order two appetizers – even for us. But let me just tell you how glad we were that we did. Because heed this little tip, even though the server will tell you that the potato chips are enough to serve two … well, she’s lying. Or she means two people who only eat one potato chip a piece. I guess people who eat gluten free also eat smaller portions?

Fancy chips not made for two

Cassi got the fried pickles (which, like last week, still aren’t magically free) and a caprese salad. Both were embarrassingly small. Five seconds after those items arrived at the table she was already planning to order more food.

At least they give you both chips AND spears.

The smallest salad in the universe. For $7.00

The curse of “not having things you want to order” quickly passes on from me to Shane, as he chose the kielbasa for his dinner – but then had to re-pick after the server reappeared and said that unfortunately they couldn’t serve that tonight because “it was still too frozen to cook.” Um, what now? Is this the first night this place is open? Were they not expecting people to eat and drink tonight?

They offered him the steak skewers instead. Which sounds OK, but turned out to be the size of a small appetizer.

Far from Ted’s meat on a stick

He also got the signature wings. And while you know how I like to pick on the boys for always ordering enough food for a small army, this time it was well warranted – and still not enough food to even begin to constitute a real dinner.

I mean, look at these wings.

Dainty little wings

Did these come off of specially bred miniature chickens? Were they meant for a children’s menu? I’m so confused.

Ted got the buffalo chicken slider and the steak slider. OK, so you know how sliders are like cute, mini-burgers? Well, these were like mini-sliders. I swear they were each one bite. Because that’s a meal.

That little thing that looks like a charcoal briquette is actually a slider. Yes, seriously.

It’s also worth mentioning that that plate pictured above is $12. For two (mini) sliders. Anyone going to get a meal at Jilly;s should keep that photo above at the front of their brain. Also, I feel the need to relive the $7 steak special story right here for some reason.

Ted also got the red chili wings. You already know where this is going. He said were good, but he needed like seven orders of them to constitute a meal.

Put some meat on those bones, chickens

I got the street tacos. Which when they arrived looked to be the most food out of anyone at the table – including Cassi, who later ordered a brie flatbread just to actually not starve her way through the evening.

Third order is the charm for Cassi, I guess

But they just weren’t that good. Gluten free tacos should not be a thing, I’ll just say that right now. They tasted burnt. The salsa was tasty, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about the meal.

There are tacos under all that greenery, I swear

So let’s recap: anything decent tasting arrived in a portion size fit for an anorexic model, and the one item that looked to be enough food to be considered a dinner portion was awful. We’re totally winning at this week’s pick, no?

Back to my mixed drink that I was finally able to order … it ended up being way too sweet. It sounded really good on the menu (black cherry juice, sage syrup, vodka), but it was like drinking a glass of straight fruit laden with sugar. I guess maybe it’s a blessing in disguise that by the time it arrived there at the table there was really only time for one round on my end?

Cassi and Shane did say that their mixed drinks were well made. That was pretty much the only good thing we could say for the evening. Well, and that we stopped at Dante’s Game Day Grille on the way home to get real beer (for under $5 a glass) and some French fries (a giant basket for just $4! We felt like we’d just hit the lottery) just to redeem the evening.

Overall the presentation at Jilly’s is really good – the food looked gorgeous when it arrived at the table, but the taste and the portion size just don’t even come close to matching the price. It’s definitely far overpriced for what you get – I mean, come on, $7 for a bite sized slider? – and unfortunately the “atmosphere” isn’t enough to redeem that.

Sorry, Jilly’s – you definitely aren’t music to this group’s ears.

Picked by: Ted

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Ted

Jilly's Music Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 10/4/17: Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern, Solon

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Hey kids, today is National Taco Day! Which means we took WTGW … someplace that totally doesn’t sell tacos. Right.

We switched up special guests this week, since my Uncle Dan is in town from Arizona and requested a chance to join our esteemed group for a WTGW out. Or, uh, something like that.

You might have noticed we switched up the picking order this week, as it was supposed to be Ted’s week this week. But with Dan staying in Eastlake, we decided to try to keep things a little more central – so Shane and Ted switched up picks this week since Shane was going toward something in Solon for his next pick anyway.

Technical details, I know.

Speaking of, I tried to tell Shane that he had actually been to the Rusty Bucket before – many years ago, on our way to a football game in Cleveland, we stopped here with some friends. He didn’t remember, until we pulled into the lot in front of the restaurant and suddenly it all started coming back to him. Sort of. So I guess this is a bit of an unorthodox pick, but whatever.

Anyway.

The very bubbly and young hostess told us as we walked in that this was her second day. So of course we countered back that this was our first time ever visiting (well, OK, considering what I just told you technically that was a lie, but just run with it). And so the hostess says to us “well be sure to tell your server it’s your first time here when she greets you, because you can get an order of free pickle chips.”

You have our attention.

Or HAD our attention, until we realized that our young, new hostess may want to clarify that statement with the server before she makes those kinds of promises. More on that later.

Our drinks took forever. It was like they were brewing the beer themselves in the back room. And then what Ted and Dan thought would arrive in draft form actually arrived as bottles. I mean, it’s nice of them to go through the motions of transferring the beer into bottles, but really the draft would’ve been preferred.

I got the Blueberry Bella drink – which, while very good, wasn’t really worth the seven hours it seemed to take to arrive. Are we waiting for the blueberries to harvest and be carted in from the family farm or something?

It takes a long time to make yourself this pretty I guess

The server also told us that Wednesdays are “Whiskey Wednesdays,” which means any whiskey for $7.00. Shane got super excited … but then realized he should’ve really specified the kind of whiskey he wanted in his drink and not just ordered a generic “whiskey and ginger ale” – since he probably didn’t get much out of that deal seeing as some whiskies aren’t exactly even worth $7.00 to begin with.

Ted got hummus as an app. He said it was OK. It probably would’ve been better if he’d had some sliverware to actually get the hummus onto the pita chips instead of having to facilitate a system of scooping it up with other pieces of pita. Again, technicalities.

Little stingy on the pita, no?

Shane told the server what the hostess told us about the fried pickle chips – he was like “so, we were told by the hostess that if we say it’s our first time here then we get free pickle chips” The server just stared at him, so Shane was like “you know, wink wink … ”

Yeah, turns out they were $8.49. Guess Shane needs to work on his wink. And the servers and hostesses need to work on their communication skills.

Also, they were more like spears. Not chips. Maybe we need to get this place a dictionary, and underline the words “free” and “chips.”

Not chips and not free

Being that it’s national taco day and I’d already gotten tacos for lunch, I went wth the taco salad. Which turned out to be more like a mexican pizza. I guess we can add another word to that dictionary we need to work on. The “salad” was a flat tortilla with beef and beans spread over it, and then lettuce, sour cream and cheese on top.

Fancier than Taco Bell

It was OK. I didn’t eat all of it. I mean, it looks pretty and all, but after consuming about half of it it just didn’t seem worth the effort or calories anymore.

And that, my friends, seems to be the theme of the evening: pretty, but not really worth the wait.

Shane asked our server his usual questions about the best thing on the menu, and was told pizza. Sold. Because, Shane.

It turned out to be just OK. I mean, he ate the entire thing – this wasn’t last week, where everything was made of salt – but he said it wasn’t anything special.

Hey Shane got a pizza. That’s new

Ted got the Wednesday special of beef stroganoff. He said it was good up until about the last few bites, when he ended up with a bite that involved a huge chunk of fat. Mmmm. Nothing says that’s a good dish like the fatty part of some beef. We’re not going for the old 96er here folks.

Those may be the widest noodles I’ve ever seen

Dan got chicken fingers and fries. He pretty much felt the same as Shane.

There are fries under there somewhere

Our service was awful. Our server disappeared for long stretches of time and for no good reason, as there were hardly any other tables in the place. We didn’t even see her helping other tables, she was just plain gone from the floor. Maybe she was in the back chewing out the new hostess who probably sat us in her section when she was about to go home – which, whatever, do what you have to, but maybe just giving the table away to another server is the better option? Just a thought. But then again, she also just didn’t seem interested in interacting with anyone, or being there I general. Because that’s a personality plus.

Compound that with the bar, which took seemingly hours to make one round of drinks. I mean, I could see if it was super busy – but we were nearly the last ones there. Did everyone invite their imaginary friends to dine with them tonight? I must’ve missed that memo.

Case in point: Shane and I ask for another round, as does Dan. Meanwhile, Ted asks for the draft list. Which one would assume means he would like to order something different than what he already has, no? Well so the server comes back with another drink for me and Dan, plus a bottle of what Ted had in the first round (whie he’s still looking over the draft list) and nothing for Shane. Um, OK. Seems something got lost in translation there, no?

So basically, let’s review: the food being nothing particularly memorable, plus bad service … means the Rusty Bucket probably won’t end up on the revisit list. I mean, it seems they fixed up the place since the time years ago when Shane and I last visited .. and it’s certainly no house-turned-bar-that-reeked-of-burger-grease like one of our other previous Solon adventures – but they obviously at still a little, as their name implies, rusty.

Geez I crack myself up.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Dan

Ted

Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/27/17: John’s Bar & Grille, Canton

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I didn’t have a lot of time to do my usual scan of all of the review sites prior to picking a place this week, so I was taking a bit of a leap of faith by choosing John’s Bar. Of course after last week’s limited menu fiasco I figured I couldn’t really do so bad, right?

Eh, not so fast. I started to rethink that philosophy pretty much as soon as we walked into this place, and were hit by the smell of … well, the only way to describe it is “old people” Did we get the door to the nursing home instead? Is John’s Bar really just John’s house and he’s been inviting people over for 80 years?

It was also super quiet, even in the bar area. Another indication that we could easily be the youngest people in the place by a good many decades. I was beginning to get nervous that we were on the level of a certain place that starts with a “G” and we try to avoid naming anymore.

Redemption came in the form of a giant list of craft beers. Whew. At least Ted was happy. He got something so dark that later there was a debate about whether a bug had fallen into his drink … and we couldn’t say for certain if it had or not.

Shane, coming off a weekend where he overindulged in that same substance (minus the potential extra protein from bugs), not so much. He went with a Captain and ginger ale. And later switched to my drink of choice, the ginger peach mule, once he relized mine was yummy and that his mixed drink came in a glass clearly made for people with smaller liver capacity.

Our server started out impressing us when she announced she would bring us some waters while we perused the drink menus … and then, noting the crestfalled looks on our faces, announced “screw water, let’s get the drinks in.” That’s the spirit. And she brought the alcohol out BEFORE the waters, another smart move. Although I messed with her when she dropped the waters off by saying “well FINALLY, there’s those waters we’ve been waiting for” – which made her laugh.

Clearly our alcoholism is worn on our sleeves.

It seemed for a bit that this place had Ted written all over it – first the craft beers, then, on the app menu: steak on a stick. Because we all know Ted loves a meat lollipop.

Wait, that sounds bad.

It took us a hot minute to decide on orders. Because that’s what happens when you have a full menu and not two items like last week.

FYI, that probably won’t get old for a while, so you should probably get used to those jokes now.

Shane and I got the chips and dip for an app.

More dip than chips. Well done

It was good, we were impressed with the fact that they give you more than enough dip for the chips – and we’re generous with our dipping, but still had some left over. The dip had really good flavor to it, but some of the chips were soggy and could’ve been cooked longer.

Cassi got the beer cheese and pretzels. She said it was OK. The pretzels were basically the kind you can buy in a box at the grocery store and microwave for 90 seconds after wetting them down and spreading salt on them. For a place that touts making their own pizza dough that seemed a little odd, no?

These took a little longer than 90 seconds to cook

Ted opted for the calamari with peppers. Which unexpectedly came with cheese baked on top – that’s new, and of course cheese-hater Ted was overly thrilled. It was a fun game watching him scrape that off with each bite.

Never thought to ask for no cheese

But he liked it nonetheless. He said it was spicy and the peppers were especially tasty.

Also noted that there were more items in Ted’s calamari than there were on the entire menu last week. Welcome to the new Gus’s joke. See, I told you this won’t get old for a bit

Shane was less amused than all of us. Clearly.

Speaking of Shane, he had ordered wings as part of his meal, and those were also delivered along with the apps, which of course he wasn’t complaining about. Until he tried them, and proclaimed them the saltiest wings he’d ever eaten. Like saltier than the “salt and vinegar flavored wings he occasionally gets at other wing places. Like he may as well have just dipped his finger in a salt shaker and sucked on that instead.

The high blood pressure special

Mmmmm.

Good thing he had that tiny glass of a mixed drink – and no sign of the server for what seemed like an eternity. It’s like the perfect storm of thirst.

Of course I made fun of Shane when he was complaining about having no drink … as there actually was a full mason jar of water sitting in front of him, that just wasn’t what he wanted to drink. That came back to bite me later, when both Cassi and I ordered round two of our drinks … and hers arrived while mine didn’t. For a very long time. Alcoholic karma.

Shane got a pizza as the rest of his meal, which came with a side salad. Shane’s word for the salad was “mushy.” That’s a new one. And the worst part was that he was actually looking forward to that salad – which may be a first, especially when this wasn’t even at a time when he’s being “healthy Shane.” And then it was disappointing that it was so awful.

Mmm, wilted lettuce. My favorite

Cassi and I each got the “Big John” angus burgers. Which didn’t seem all that big when they actually arrived. Interesting. They were also missing cheese. I guess maybe Ted’s request of no cheese translated to all of us? Yeah, no. The server took them back, and they added cheese to the burgers … and stuck the plates under a hot lamp to melt it. Which kind of ruined the burger by making it more well done and dry, and the bread taste weird. I didn’t eat the bread at all, which if you’ve been following along here you know is something you hardly ever hear from me.

Looks great until you lift the lid and notice it’s missing cheese

Ditto

But at least the fries – which were lukewarm to begin with – then became the proper temperature. Score?

Ted ordered the Grecian burger, which he thought was to be made with lamb meat, but he said tasted just like regular meat. OK. But at least he was happy about the lack of cheese on his. He did say it lacked spices, though.

The not-Greek burger. With no cheese. Or salt.

Which apparently was because they all went to Shane, who said that the pizza – just like the wings – was the saltiest pizza he’d ever eaten. OK, either Shane’s taste buds are tuned to “salt” tonight, or this place just likes to play chicken with people’s salt intakes.

Looks better than it tastes

I mean, why in the world would you put salt on a pizza, of all things? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say “I’ll take the ‘triple your salt intake pizza,’ please.” Shane was convinced that he may not be able to open his eyes in the morning due to the swelling.

Although we had to laugh because when the server came back to check on us and asked specifically how the pizza was (since Shane had asked her if it was a specialty there at John’s and she made a big deal about how they make their own dough), Shane could’ve won an Academy Award for the exuberance with which he gushed about how much he liked it. He even took a few pieces home in a to-go box. Which, if you’re playing along at home – the fact that he didn’t finish his (relatively small) pizza there in the restaurant was a clue that he didn’t like it, so I’m surprised he even bothered to take it home. Guess he wants to give high blood pressure another chance to set in? Awesome.

Remember what I said about 80 year olds frequenting the place? So aside from the weird smells and the quiet and the table of old men behind us clearly having their weekly guy’s night dinner out, there was this exchange at the end of the meal:

Server, pointing to the bread basket on the table with thick slices of Italian bread still in it: So, do you want to take the bread home?
(quizzical looks from around the table)
Server, looking at me an Cassi: Maybe you want to make your husbands french toast in the morning?
(more quizzical looks)
Server: We get a lot of older ladies in and they fight over taking that bread home so they can make french toast for their husbands.
Me: Uh, yeah, if my husband wants french toast he can make it his own damn self
Cassi, after the server walked away: Can we just talk about how many things are wrong with that statement? Like, first of all, we have jobs?

I’ll take questionably sexist bread for 1,000 please

Sorry John – your bar won’t be a revisit.

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Shane and his now least favorite condiment

Cassi

Ted

 

John's Bar & Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/20/17: Springfield Tavern, Ellet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cassi: Told you so.

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

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

Classy.

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

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

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

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

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

Wings, take one: Hot

Wings, take two: Arizona Ranch

Wings, take three: BBQ

And last but not least, Mild

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic burger and bun, repeat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Shane

Ted

Steph

Cassi