WTGW 10/30/19: Tailgator’s, Wadsworth

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If only I had $1.00 for all the times one of us asked if we were going to someone’s house as a WTGW pick.

But, I mean, let’s be real here, restaurant owners. Can we stop putting places so far out of the way that we have to ask ourselves these things? I mean, seriously, we shouldn’t have to get off the highway and traverse across an entire town of ranch houses before we find your sports pub. And even then it’s like an oasis of fun and beer waiting for us on a dark fall evening.

But I guess at least it’s easy to know we’ve arrived. Because, let’s face it, where this particular place is located it was either Tailgator’s, the Salvation Army (which may or may not be serving food) or something called the Minit Mart (not Mini Mart, mind you – Minit Mart) across the street … which if I had to guess likely had some sort of hot dog special.

I think we chose wisely.

In fact, this was a place that had been on my neverending list of eventual choices. It can be either a blessing or a curse when someone else picks a place you have your eye on, folks. The bullet you dodge can be full of regret of many forms.

The jury is still kind of out on which instance this falls under.

So the inside of Tailgater’s is like what if you put a sports bar in the middle of a hunting lodge in the heart of Minnesota. There’s a lot of wood paneling and brick juxtaposed by posters for sports teams and beer specials.

There also must’ve been some sort of a berry air freshener plugged in nearby to our table, because I got a good whiff of it every time I turned my head.

I mean, there are worse things, I suppose?

We also noticed a patio out back – well, OK, really just part of the parking lot that was fenced in and provided tables to make it an outdoor seating/dining area … but hey, you can hang lights over anything and it immediately makes it fancy, right?

Regardless, it was raining – because we’ve already established that Mother Nature is a whore on Wednesdays (see also why it took me over an hour to get home before heading out to Wadsworth for this venture) so we couldn’t sit out there. But good to know it exists.

WHAT WE ORDERED

So, the theme of Tailgator’s is, appropriately, alligator. Clever. Which means that they do have actual alligator meat cooked into various apps and meals. But then part of the theme is also just the names of some of the meals and drinks. Like, for instance, something called Gator Juice, which from the description sounds kind of like it might just be a fancy themed name for a midori sour.

Asked if he would rather drink that or a PBR out of a can, Ted chose the Gator Juice. I’m not really sure what to make of that exactly, but just something to note.

Hey, remember those times when we ask the server what to order and then actually take their recommendations? Well, if not, then you’re in for a treat, because this is one of those times.

The server raved about the wings (kind of a given) and also the Reuben.

Ask and you shall receive.

In particular Shane, who went all in on that suggestion. He already knew he would be ordering the Erie Island wings, since that’s his most favorite seasoning, like, in the entire world. But he changed up his patented “burger and wings” order to a Reuben and wings.

Shane and I also split the pepper cheese balls for our app. Because for all the times Ted shuns cheese, you can pretty much guarantee that Shane and I will order it in some form or another.

While he did pass on the Gator Juice, Ted couldn’t get away without ordering something on theme, and so he got the gator bites as an app.

So if you’ve ever wondered what fried alligator looks like … well … kind of like a cross between clam strips and chicken fingers.

Mmmmmm.

Cassi and Jason got something called Gator Tots, which may or may not have had actually fried alligator on them or just been named for the theme. I forgot to ask. But they did include beans, a little fact that Cassi missed in the description and was not entirely thrilled about. But fortunately they also got the buffalo cheese dip, which definitely did not include alligator or beans.

I got six of the Erie Island wings and 6 of the Hot Garlic Parm wings, plus a side salad

Admittedly I should’ve stuck with just six wings and a salad, but when you can’t decide between flavors and you’re also about to eat your arm off out of hunger, this is what happens.

Fair warning.

Jason got onion rings and three orders of six wings – the honey mustard, the honey bbq and the honey bourbon

Cassi got 12 of the Hot Garlic Parm boneless wings

Ted got fries and six of the Six Pepper wings, plus six of the Honey Hot wings.

THE VERDICT

Our apps came out quickly and all at the same time, so that’s a plus. At least it wouldn’t be another of those instances where the unlucky last person to order has to wait about half an evening watching others cure their stomach grumbles.

Once we got to the wings things got a little more complicated, since the kitchen was obviously backed up dealing with the nightly special. So Shane’s Rueben arrived first along with Ted’s fries and Jason’s onion rings – and an apologetic server saying that she just didn’t want to hold those up and let them get cold while the fryers worked overtime.

We barely refrained from telling her we loved her. Barely. She had no idea how much those words mean to us.

The wings were good. The Erie Island was just as good as Shane remembered from the years when we used to order that same seasoning at Cleats. Ted wasn’t so much a fan of the six pepper, but did like the hot honey – which he said was the perfect mix of hot and sweet. And Cassi and I both agreed that the hot garlic parm really has some kick to it.

The chips were also really good. They were crispy without being burnt, a real plus.

Shane ate about half of his wings and then decided to save the rest for a take home bag and start on his sandwich. But then he ended up taking half of that home too. Not because it wasn’t good, but because he said he was just too full.

So if you’re playing along at home, a burger and wings is enough for one meal – but a Reuben and wings is too much. Noted.

In fact, out of the group Ted was the only one who finished his meal on site. Or, more appropriately, the only one who knew their limits on food intake.

And overall it was a pretty cheap night – $51 for me and Shane, which includes an app and basically two meals for him plus my one … and essentially a lunch for each of us for another time, too. The fact that it was wing night also helped – each pack of six wings was just over $4 – and then each of our beers was $4 – and the app was around $4 … hmm, maybe we should’ve stopped and played fours in the lotto at that Minit Mart across the street on the way home?

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Shane

WTGW 10/23/19: Ohio Brewing Company, Cuyahoga Falls

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How many times have we lamented that all the new places keep opening anywhere else but in our town?

Which explains not at all why it took us so long to visit this new brewery, seeing as it has been open since at least the beginning of the summer by now. And also that by “new brewery,” we actually mean the new location of a brewery that has been in existence for a few years now.

But no matter either way, because this is the first time we’ve visited either iteration. Oops.

Clearly we’re slackers.

In any case, Ohio Brewing Company actually used to be in Akron, but recently relocated to a remodeled building on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls. It’s one of a handful of new places that have popped up in the newly rebuilt downtown area. (Nod to OBC neighbor Leo’s Social Kitchen – don’t think you aren’t on one of our collective lists for a future visit)

Ted assumed one of us would’ve jumped on this OBC pick long before now, and I guess was waiting to give one of us the opportunity, but finally decided to “be selfish” and pick it for himself if for no other reason than to be able to go there on his lunch break from work.

You’re welcome for the look inside the minds of the WTGW Crew, folks. It’s a whole lot of “strategery” hard at work.

Ohio Brewing Company is relatively large inside, with a bar along one side and lots of tables in the rest of the space. Word of warning to the ladies … or, I guess, any guys out there who my want to wear a kilt for a fancy night out … many of the tables are of the picnic variety, so if you want to have an easier time of entering and exiting the table area, you might want to take another look at your wardrobe.

There’s also an area downstairs with ping pong tables and other games. Not quite M&M Taproom in Barberton, where we basically had an entire late 90’s rich family’s basement at our disposal throughout our evening – but I see what they’re going for here.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Well, it’s a brewery, so it only makes sense that we started out with flights of beer, no? Bonus that they arrive on really cool wooden Ohio-shaped plates. Which then afford us the opportunity to pass judgement on various portions of the state based on the type of beer that was placed in that part of the plate.

The southeastern portion of Ohio was particularly good to me.

That may be the only time I utter that sentence.

Ted got 12 of the Cajun wings, along with the OBC burger, which is a burger topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese and a spicy onion ring. But of course Ted ordered his sans cheese, which I guess makes it an OB burger?

Oh, wait, that’s not what they were doing there. Got it.

Shane got the same burger but kept the cheese – obviously, because the rest of the world prefers their burgers with cheese, Ted – and also chips.

Well, let me clarify, what Shane ordered was fries with the burger and then a side of chips. But clearly that’s not what arrived. What he ended up getting was chips as a side and then an entire basket of fries later.

There it is.

I got the Swiss and Shroom burger with a side salad.

Well isn’t that pretty?

We also got the Hungarian stuffed peppers as an app.

Taking a cue from Shane’s non-food-sharing philosophy, Cassi and Jason got both the pretzel sticks and fried pickles as apps.

Jason got same burger as me, with chips as his side, while Cassi got grilled cheese and a side salad.

BTW that piece of lettuce and tomato wasn’t the side salad Cassi ordered. Just clarifying. I mean, I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to do with some side lettuce and tomato in terms of a grilled cheese – as kind of the whole point of the sandwich involves the cheese gluing the bread together – so it seems like the time for adding something to that mixture has already passed us by at this point, no?

THE VERDICT

Our apps all scored a thumbs up. Shane and I both thought the peppers were really good. They weren’t super spicy, but the sausage and cheese filling was a really good mix of flavors. The pretzels were voted “delicious.” And the pickles, while in spear form and not the chips that Cassi usually enjoys more, were probably not the best of the bunch – the breading was just a touch too thick – but still decent.

I mean, after we’ve had pickles at Dilly D’s, how can we really ever truly complain?

Ted’s wings arrived and Shane was in full regret mode for the fact that he didn’t order any for himself just on sight alone.

Ted said that as wings go they were good – large wings, decent flavor … but that they weren’t spicy at all.

My burger was OK. It was done correctly – medium – meanwhile Jason’s and Shane’s medium rare burgers looked like they had just been freshly killed out back, so perhaps they unknowingly ordered that elusive side of salmonella with their meals?

Russian roulette of food borne illnesses. Our favorite game.

Regardless we all agreed that they weren’t the best burgers any of us have ever eaten. With or without the 50/50 chance of potential death.

I also gave up on my bun halfway through. As a lover of good carbs, that hurts my heart just a little bit to say.

Cassi took half of her grilled cheese home, saying it was just too filling for one sitting.

Overall, OBC is a cool place. The menu was a bit small, and quite honestly we all thought that it was one of those times when everything on the apps menu looked better than the actual dinners. Case in point, Shane said he would get an order of the fire onion rings just based on the one that topped his burger.

But our one gripe – because you know we have to have one, right? We’re judgey like that, I know – was that the beer … well … was not our favorite, by local brewery standards. I mean some were of course better than others, and Ted seemed to be the one out of the group to be the most agreeable to the majority of them. And we all know Shane and Jason could really be happy with Bud Light, so it’s not like our standards are super high. But I guess when compared to other local places like our old favorite R Shea’s … it’s really no contest.

And it was a little pricey, especially when it came to the sides and apps. The stuffed pepper app was as much as a burger. And those “extra” fries that Shane actually wanted subbed as the side with his burger were another $4. Yikes.

But will we return? Most likely. Given the proximity to home and the fact that we did for the most part like the food options, I could see it being an easy revisit for those nights when we need a nearby locale.

Or maybe we’ll convince OBC to start a new trend of bar table tennis leagues. I mean, if skew ball leagues are a thing, then it could catch on … right?

Only one way to find out …

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason

WTGW 9/18/19: REVISIT – Frank’s Place on Market, Akron

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As mentioned in our last post, we’re on a revisit month here at WTGW, while we all take turns rotating out for work and life commitments. Because clearly we’re still not a big enough deal for the rest of our lives to catch up and realize this is what we do on Wednesday nights.

This week we’re missing Ted, who was out of state for a family wedding.

After our difficulty finding a place in Cuyahoga Falls to revisit last week, we thought it best to branch out to nearby Akron for this week. And it’s been more than a hot minute since our last visit to Frank’s Place (five years!) – but of course we remember we liked it because we got free booze and desserts the last time we were here.

Yes, we’re that easy. Have we not all realized this by now?

Our other memory was that we nearly got nailed by sharp objects as we walked in the front door, thanks to dart leauges on an already busy night and some improperly placed dartboards. Which seemed slightly sketch and maybe not the best way to make a good impression on folks as they try to come in and enjoy a beer and some dinner. But whatevs.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Well as much as we’d like an appetizer of a trip to Jamaica, that seemed somewhat unfeasible and a little much to splurge on for a Wednesday night. But thanks for giving it a page in the menu, that was fun to read.

Shane and I opted for the spicy hot pepper balls instead. Because that’s almost the same.

Cassi and Jason got the chips and dip, after a lengthy discussion about not being able to get the special dip when you get the chips as a side – only as an app. Anyone else think this is weird? Like what makes this dip so special that it only comes as part of the app?

Hey Shane got a burger and wings. Anyone shocked? No? Didn’t think so. He got the regular burger with pepper jack cheese.

Cassi got the same, just a different cheese and a side salad instead of that side of fries that seems to be so popular with our group.

I got the wise guy burger with a side salad.

Jason got the cowboy burger with crinkle cut fries.

Also while they did have Black Cherry White Claw, we opted for the Natural Light hard seltzer – because who doesn’t feel classy drinking a form of Natty Light at a place where the evening’s dinner special is salmon?

THE VERDICT

So I ordered my burger cooked medium, and was served one that was very much looking like it was the color of the inside of a grapefruit. Hmm. I’ve seen those color charts on the chain steakhouse menu that basically depict “grilling colors for dummies,” and that doesn’t seem to match up. Might’ve wanted to leave that one on the grill a bit longer there, chief.

That made Shane nervous to even cut into his, which he ordered medium rare. And we all know how he feels about places that serve burgers that seems to have just been killed fresh in the backyard.

See also: why we haven’t been back to The Rail in, well, ever.

Let’s just say that if you’re reading this then that means that neither of us died from some sort of food-borne undercooked meat disease, and that might be something short of a miracle.

Fingers crossed.

Cassi ordered hers well done, and that seemed to have been the best choice on the non-sketch scale. So the moral of the story here seems to be that you should take into consideration the color you want your burger to be, and order about two levels up on the cooking scale for this place.

Apparently the special you-can-only-get-it-as-part-of-the-appetizer chip dip was the bomb. So let’s just go back to this, because we’re still a bit perplexed about why they can’t make this available as a part of any other order of chips on the menu? I mean, here’s an idea, why not sell it as a side with the chips that you’re already making people upsell to get as a side dish. $2.00 for chips, $2.00 for the dip.

I’m not saying we’re brilliant or anything, but if you try that for a year and then cut us a check for that extra compensation maybe it will make it more obvious just how smart this really is?

The salads were good. Croutons were a hit. And the crinkle cut fries were hot and delicious also.

Plus who doesn’t love getting a receipt with a line item for an $8 order of “balls”?

Overall a good little gem of a place that it’s surprising it took us five whole years to return to. It seems that Wednesdays are no longer dart nights, a change that means not only is it easier to get a table this time around, but your chances of getting impaled by a dart upon entry have greatly decreased as well.

Although if impalement is your thing, you can take your chances that you may have a sharp knife rolled in your silverware setting. Or it may be a butter knife. Who knows? You could make a drinking game out of guessing which one you might uncover.

If you haven’t learned by now, we definitely make our own fun wherever we go, kids. Whether that’s playing with sharp objects or ordering slightly sketch meats.

Good times.

But we did miss getting free desserts and shots here this time around. That’s something you shouldn’t take away, ever.

Restaurant owners, take note.

WTGW 8/21/19: The Ramp, Portage Lakes

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In our next edition of let’s soak up as much of summer as we can before we begin the season in which Mother Nature unleashes her fury of five feet of snow in one hour, we visit The Ramp, a new restaurant on the water in Portage Lakes.

I believe I read somewhere that the marina owners decided to build a new restaurant on their property because they heard people saying there weren’t enough restaurants on that side of the lakes.

But I could also be totally making that up, so don’t quote me on that. I’m blonde. Strange ideas take up residence inside my head sometimes.

Anyway.

Um, I don’t think you’re supposed to park the boat inside the bar

The place was surprisingly not busy considering the location, great patio and fantastic weather. 

I mean, come on. In northeast Ohio, this is about as good as it gets.

I’d also heard from others in the area that conversely there’s a wait list about a mile long to get a table on the weekends, so I guess maybe we are a little bit smart on this whole Wednesday planning deal after all.

WHAT WE ORDERED

In the great Summer Quest for White Claw 2019, this place is in the “yes” category. Score.

We all took one look at the menu and knew Ted was going to order the lamb lollipops for appetizers. I mean, not that he’s predictable or anything, but serve up some sort of meat on a stick and it will definitely makes it’s way to his plate.

He said they were perfect. And that the slaw served with them was spicy AND sweet.

Oh, Gus’ Chalet, you live on in our hearts.

Shane and I got the fried pickles.

They were good. The breading was rather heavy, but in a good way. If you’ve read this blog enough you understand how that makes sense.

Word of warning: the sauce that accompanied the pickles is super spicy. Again, in a good way, but just be advised not to let your drink run dry before taking a bite. It was like eat one pickle with sauce and drink half a beer to make up for it.

Cassi and Jason got the Brussels sprouts.

They weren’t the greatest.

So there’s that.

On the dinner side of things, I got the beer battered cod with baked potato and salad.

Shane got the Reuben with onion rings.

Cassi got the smothered chicken with side salad and baked potato.

Jason got the Reuben with the sidewinder fries.

Ted got the ahi tuna wrap, also with sidewinder fries.

Overall the consensus was that everything was pretty good. The special sidewinder fries were probably the biggest hit of the meal, everyone who tried them gave those a huge thumbs up. It’s hard to describe what makes them so much better than regular fries – I mean, other than the funky shape and all – but I guess you’ll just have to just trust our well traveled taste buds on this one.

Shane said the Panko breading on the onion rings was exceptionally good. And my cod was very tasty also.

The only one who wasn’t quite as happy with his meal was Ted, but basically that was because the wrap just wasn’t as good as his meat-on-a-stick appetizer. Like he should’ve gotten the app as his actual meal, and ordered something else as the app.

And Cassi might’ve enjoyed her baked potato more had she gotten the extra butter she asked the server for about four times.

So, you know, there’s that.

Wait … please tell me someone out there reading this noticed that no one in our group ordered burgers OR wings?!?!? And yes, they were on the menu.

We’re slipping. Might have to go back to the Springfield Tavern just to redeem ourselves.

THE VERDICT

Overall The Ramp isn’t a bad place. You can definitely tell that it hasn’t been open very long and that they’re still working out some of the kinks … you know, like taking an entire meal to bring extra butter or boxes for leftovers, even though there’s only about five other tables filled in the entire place … but it seems like it has great potential. I mean, the location alone is amazing. Just needs to make a few adjustments and it could really be great.

Like, for one: entertainment. So they have all those TVs on the patio, how about turning them on? Or hitting up a band or even some Pandora station for background music? Did someone misplace ALL of the remotes?

I mean I get that you don’t want to re-create the party atmosphere or reputation that some of the places on the Lakes have. But when the alternative is letting your patrons be entertained by some kids across the lake doing the poor mans water park and jumping in the water from a rope swing whilst making a ton of noise, or a great blue heron stalking its dinner in the water from the boat docks … well let’s just say that even the Golf Channel begins to look appealing given those alternatives.

There’s a lot of ground between wet t-shirt contest and real live nature channel, and finding the middle certainly shouldn’t be such an impossible concept.

I hear that the weekends find the place full, but on a Wednesday night at dinner time it was not even close to being standing room only. In fact the only standing was done by the staff, who quite possible outnumbered the patrons. At least in the dining room anyway.

Which, again, offers no explanation for the great butter debacle. But I digress.

Plus they have White Claw for $3.75, which all in itself is a great marketing asset considering the limbs we’ve lost paying for it at other local establishments.

I have to think we’d give it another try. And we’re definitely adding it to the “amazing patio” list. So we can be prepared on, you know, the possible four times a year that nice weather and Wednesday actually collide.

Picked by: Jason

Next pick: Shane

WTGW 8/14/19: Nathan’s Patio Bar & Grille, North Canton

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So full disclosure, we’ve all technically been here before, but only for drinks, and not food. On a night a few summers back we returned to a previous WTGW spot, The Ignorant Owl, to check out a band … which was so awful that it literally drove us across the street in search of better times elsewhere.

We ended up on the patio at Nathan’s, enjoying several cocktails and a much better band. So essentially we credit Nathan’s for turning that evening around for us.

Well, and the ensuing 3AM Taco Bell run, which involved Ted knocking on the window of the drive thru as we pulled up after placing our order and emphatically declaring that we were “gonna need some orders of cinnamon twists.”

But that’s a story for another time.

Back to this week’s adventure (spoiler alert, it did not end at Taco Bell, or at 3AM for that matter). We tried to once again visit the patio area of Nathan’s but as we walked out to that area we looked around to discover that there were only about a handful of very small tables that maybe would’ve fit about 1/4 of our usual food order. So that was disappointing.

I mean, I guess we could’ve all four just sat by ourselves and yelled from table to table. But that would’ve probably gotten annoying to the other patrons at the bar area out there, and we kind of didn’t feel like getting beat up that evening.

And we didn’t see menus anywhere, or anyone else eating on the patio … so by our secret decoder ring settings that usually implies that they don’t serve food in that part of the establishment.

Boooo.

So back inside we went. We grabbed a table along the far wall, and studied the helpful calendar of specials.

Hey look, it’s $4 burger night! And you know this group typically doesn’t turn down a burger. Or wings.

What are we on, like week #427 of mentioning that now?

Plus, trivia. I mean, granted we were down one member of the Moist Towlettes trivia team, but of course we weren’t about to let that stop us.

However, our general lack of knowledge for pretty much anything pertaining to this particular game of trivia did stop us from winning any portion of the game, but that’s neither here nor there.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, duh. I pretty much already gave this one away. Even someone as awful as we were at trivia that evening could guess the answer to that question.

So Nathan’s classifies their burgers into categories: regular, super, mega, etc. Seems someone was a little overly concerned with size when they put this menu together, no?

I have to give props to our server, as she was a giant help in placing our orders. No complacent “everything here is good, can’t go wrong” answers from this one. She basically ordered Cassi’s entire meal for her, and had quick answers to the firing range of questions that were thrown at her during that process: which burger is better, mushroom or Italian? what’s better, fries or onion rings? which fries, steak or regular?

It was like watching an eye doctor go through the “which is better, one or two?” portion of the eye test, but at like 100x the normal speed. And some would argue with greater consequences.

BTW, the answers to those questions were Italian, fries and steak. Which is exactly what Cassi ordered.

I went for the lesser of the server’s choices in Cassi’s scenario, the mushroom Swiss burger. And the side salad, which no one asked about. Because, well, we all know this group doesn’t do vegetables well.

Ted got the mega-sized Big Piggy burger. Which was delivered looking just as unhealthy as it sounds.But it did come with its own very sharp utensil, so I guess I really should watch what I say about it.

Shane got the regular burger … and also the kielbasa burger. Because, why not? Clearly I’m eating all the vegetables in our family, so he has to take on some of the bad habits to make up for my health, right?

We should point out Shane was shocked to see that both of his sandwiches contained a burger patty. Wait, what now?

Yeah, he thought he was just ordering one burger, and the other would just be kielbasa on a bun. Ok. That might’ve made sense had that sandwich not also been listed under the section called “burgers.” But sure. Guess that extra meat was just bonus.

That what she … oh never mind.

We also started out with a nice big bowl of queso with tortilla chips, just for Ted.

Just kidding. That was for the entire table, minus Ted. He opted for fried pickles.

Let’s just talk for a moment about that sauce for the pickles, shall we? Oh wait, we couldn’t, because it was so spicy that all we could do after first trying it was gulp down about a gallon of water or whatever other beverage might have been sitting in front of us at that moment. Even habanero-eating Ted declared it to be “pretty spicy.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was also good. Just consider this more a word of warning to like not even think about trying it if your glass is almost empty.

Also, maybe don’t order the queso in the same sitting, or else you’ll leave thinking it had zero flavor. I’m sure it did have at least a little, but it was like just putting a bit of squashed, unseasoned cauliflower on a tortilla chip in comparison to the pickle sauce.

Plus we could’ve used about another whole serving of chips with the queso.

Oh, and in our never-ending quest to get hard seltzer at every single bar we visit, we were thrilled to discover they have both White Claw and Truly. But – in true “us” fashion – of course the flavors are held under top secret clearance until the server makes about 15 trips to our table. This evening our server was convinced there was a raspberry back there, until she returned holding mango.

So. Close.

AND THE VERDICT IS:

The burgers were really good. They were cooked to order, and actually stayed pretty close to those specifications. So Shane wasn’t going to die this time.

Always a plus. The Rail will clearly never be forgiven for their murderous attempts. Of like 5 years ago. But whatever.

Cassi thought her burger was a little too done for what was supposed to be medium well, and mine was just past well done for what was supposed to be medium – but regardless they still had good flavor.

I ended up not eating the bun because it was a little too toasted for my liking. Meanwhile, on the other side of the opposite train, Cassi thought hers had a mushy bottom.

This was also definitely one of the cheaper nights out for us in a while.

Cassi’s bill for herself was only $14. She spent more on alcohol ($4 each for each White Claw?!) than her $5 burger and $1 upgrade to fries.

#pride

Our bill was $39, which breaks down to two rum and cokes, two white claw, three burgers, and one app.

Not too shabby.

The service was far better than I think we expected to see when we walked into the place. Our server was always nearby and super friendly, greeted us promptly, and gave helpful recommendations.

Oh how our standards have fallen over the years, right? Like basically just pay attention to us and be friendly and we’ll love you forever. We’re like a group of stray puppies.

Which is what I’m sure you’d rather look at as opposed to the usual pictures of our group at the end of our posts … and since we forgot to take our pictures this week anyway, here you go.

You’re welcome.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason’s back in rotation

WTGW 7/24/19: El Tren Mexican Restaurant, Tallmadge

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This week’s adventure begs the question: if there’s a national holiday for a beverage but yet the place you’re eating at doesn’t offer a special on it, is it really a holiday?

Technically El Tren is a revisit for 3/5 of this group, but let’s take a moment to break down the numbers: two of us have never been here before at all, three of us have been before but it was when the place was called Nuevo Acapulco (we think? there was some issue on that visit discerning exactly what website was used to find this magical place that supposedly had towers of margaritas but then no one knew what the hell we were talking about when we inquired about them), and out of those three, two have been back since it changed over to El Tren.

Confused yet?

Admittedly the two of us who had returned after the name change didn’t have the best luck, but we pretty much just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best this time around.

Because … National Tequila Day. And it was nice enough to sit on the patio.

So in the broad spectrum I guess we can consider this a win? I mean, even though … well … I’ll let you decide.

The What (we ordered)

So as I mentioned, it’s National Tequila Day, which means it’s just a tad sacrilegious to choose anything other than Mexican food, no? I mean even Ted gets a margarita on this holy day.

We’ll take all the tequila, please

Meanwhile Shane gets a rum and coke. OK.

For meals, we can break this down again into fractions, as 3/5 of the table chose the fajita quesadilla. Shane and Jason opted for steak, while Cassi chose chicken.

There seems to be a lot of math so far this week. Sorry about that. I’ll just leave you with one more little equation: 0% of those who ordered this dish got what they were expecting once the meals came out.

Like, what is that? Did they hear “appetizer quesadilla” and not “fajita quesadilla”? That looks like something you order at Applebee’s. I mean, being married to Shane for as long as I have been now, I can attest that this dish is his go-to order at any Mexican restaurant. And never once has it looked like this.

Except, well, the last time we came here. Oops. Shane said he forgot about that until the plate arrived in front of him. Like “hey what was that place that serves the child-sized portion of fajita quesadilla? Oh, right, this place.”

I got the chicken fajitas. Not the fajita quesadilla, just the regular fajitas. Otherwise known as that dish that gets delivered to the table basically still cooking on the plate so pretty much the entire restaurant can hear, see and smell it arriving at the correct table.

FYI, that didn’t happen here. But, you know, by the end of the evening that wasn’t exactly a shocker to us, since we were kind of just impressed that we got food of some kind brought out.

More on that later.

The chicken fajitas were ok – there was a lot of chicken with the onions and peppers – but it was a touch on the dry side. I eventually got some extra salsa to help with that, but let’s just say I was too hungry to wait as long as I would’ve needed to if I wanted it for the whole meal.

And then there Ted, getting some type of burrito.  I missed the name of the dish because I was paying too much attention to the special inquisition he was involved in with the server regarding the type of sauce inside the burrito and the possibility of it being cheese-based. Here the server was trying to educate Ted on the level of spiciness involved with the sauce, when really all he truly cared about was “is it made of cheese?”

That’s right, around Ted things can be spicy to the 1000th degree (habenero peppers, anyone?), just for the love of God don’t let it be made with or include any sort of cheese products.

Ted said his burrito was also really dry. And the sauce definitely had cheese in it. So that worked out well for him.

He also thought his meal should’ve come with rice and beans on the side. Because doesn’t pretty much every meal at a Mexican restaurant? Frankly I think we were shorted like three plates of rice and beans, but, again, at some point we just all agreed I think to be happy we were served anything with the rate at which we both saw our server and had things we ordered or asked for brought out to us.

Shane and I also ordered the tableside guacamole, because we remembered that being like the one thing that went well on any of our previous visits to this place. And I will say that once again, that was the best part of the meal. I mean, on one hand, for $9.95 it better be. But who can really complain when it’s made fresh next to your table and it comes in one of these awesome and much heavier than you think it would be bowls?

Cassi and Jason got the churry queso. I think in part to taunt Ted after the great cheese inquisition of 2019 during our orders. Because we all know that the one thing Ted loves more than asking to not have it placed anywhere near his meal is to sit at a table next to a vat of gooey, melted cheese, right?

Ironically, after these appetizers arrived, and after we asked twice, it still took a hot minute to get a few more baskets of chips. Because there’s only five of us at the table and two apps that require chips to be consumed. But sure.

The Who (we saw)

We have to admit we were shocked to arrive and find the patio surprisingly empty. Especially considering it was a beautiful night. And they do have a pretty great space outside. And, did we mention tequila holiday?

I’m going to attribute this to everyone else hearing of a tequila special we didn’t and going there instead. Dammit. Next time shoot us an invitation. I mean, why else do you think we joined social media after all these years?

(shameless plug, find us on Instagram @wheretogowednesdays and on Twitter @where_wednesday)

But at least it made for a nice quiet evening on the patio for us. Oh wait, until the gang of children started running around the patio full tilt. So it doubles as a playground, I guess? Good to know.

Because children running uncontrolled in places where adults are consuming alcohol seems like a splendid plan. I can’t imagine any possible scenario where that might be an issue.

For those of us who have visited El Tren before, our main complaint in the past has been the service. Hey, guess what? That hasn’t changed. Hats off to management for keeping stability in the lousiest of arenas. Kudos.

Drinks take approximately six hours each to arrive, so I can only assume they charter a plane and make a quick trip to Mexico to grab that tequila fresh each time someone orders something from the bar.

And then there was this fun little sitcom that took place with my order … so when meals arrived I was served a plate of chicken and peppers/onions, with no rice, beans or fajitas. Not really what I was expecting, but sure I’m trying to be a bit healthier here so thanks for reading my mind, not trusting me on my own and just removing the carbs from my field of vision.

But then about 10 minutes later some guy who wasn’t our server arrived with a package of fajitas to hand to me. Not wanting to be wasteful, I said thanks anyway but actually I’ll skip the fajitas, and can you just bring over some more salsa instead? He said sure … and then disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of the restaurant, never to be seen again. Maybe he got called oto that Mexico charter for more tequila? Who knows.

So like 15 minutes later when our server finally made her way over to ask how things were, I asked again about some extra salsa. And that ask put me on the receiving end of not one, but two extra bowls of salsa … and another attempt at being delivered a package of fajitas.

Perhaps what we have is a lapse in communication. And they really, really wanted me to have those damn fajitas after all.

But the worst of it happened even later, when the server committed the epic fail for our group: trying to bring us our bills without asking if we needed anything else and just assuming we were ready to go. Because nothing says “I’ve loved taking care of you, please tip me kindly” like shoving customers out the door.

So we ordered another round just because. And the server was clearly annoyed. But the joke was on her because it took about 20 minutes to get that last round (fill up the plane, boys, we’ve got another round of drinks to get!), during which time all we did was calculate the ways her tip was getting smaller, while she still had to keep coming out to check on us.

Good times.

Ted thinks it all went downhill when we forgot to tip the guacamole guy. I think that may be solid logic.

The How (much we paid)

So, yeah, this was an expensive one, kids. Almost $90 for two people. Hey $5 burger specials from a week ago, we really, really miss you. Now granted about $40 of this week’s tab was alcohol … so, um, what was I saying about no tequila specials?

Also our server, in all her helpfulness to get us our bills promptly before we’d asked for them and essentially shove us out the door, of course got the bills all messed up. Seems the queen of assumptions, in her haste to be rid of us, thought she should split split the guacamole amongst the table, when it was clearly Shane and I who had ordered it and wasn’t about to subject the cost to the rest of the group. So we had her change that, but then when we got the bill back after that we also had Cassi and Jason’s meals instead of our own, plus their app. So they paid for one fajita quesadilla and my chicken fajitas instead of two fajita quesadillas, but we got two fajita quesadillas and both apps.

But our alcohol was right, so I guess that counts for something? I mean, usually that’s the part where people get confused, just because of the sheer amount that gets ordered.

What was I saying about the math portion of this post being finished? Oops.

The Why (they probably won’t see us again)

Well, I mean, unless we’re desperate. Or once again forget our past experiences. This one pretty much got an “eh” all around from our group. Well, except Jason, whose thumbs up makes me think perhaps he either wandered off to join another group for a while or maybe his drinks were made with the extra special tequila shipment.

I will admit that the patio atmosphere was perhaps worth the price of admission … or maybe at least the price of the guac and a couple of rounds of drinks. But then factor in the great invasion of the children and the amazingly awful service, and, well, let’s just say it would need to be a perfect storm of being on that side of town, not being very hungry and just wanting to sit on a patio that may or not be peaceful for us to actually consider going back there.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick:  Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph

WTGW 7/17/19: Old Stone Jail, Norton

Standard
THE WHERE (we went)

Remember my last pick, when I mentioned that Jimmy’s was chosen solely on the need to be out on a patio that evening? Yeah, well … this was the place that got edged out.

The plus side of that deal is that at least we got to experience Jimmy’s – and drool over Ted’s delicious giant burger – before it closed forever. But the crap side is that Shane will gloat about the Old Stone Jail being his awesome pick for about the next 47 years.

Such is life in the WTGW crew, kids. It’s pretty cutthroat.

To be fair, the Old Stone Jail does have a patio, but I think it’s about the size of my bathroom. Because eating in tiny, enclosed spaces makes everyone happy, right?

It must, because the inside of the place really isn’t much bigger. Like were talking about as many tables as Wadsworth Tavern, of both the pool and the seating variety. So once again we ended up seated at the bar.  Three cheers for easy access!

Plus Ted realized early on that his seat included a view of the cook making fresh cut French fries in the kitchen – county fair trailer style – so score one for free entertainment. And yes, sometimes we are just that easily amused.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

When there’s an obvious sign advertising Truly and White Claw then Cassi and I know that already things are looking good for a win this evening. And not like the “yes the servers are all wearing the t-shirts but that doesn’t mean we actually have any left in stock” debacle that was our evening at Pick’s.

Heaven in a can

Also, places offering burger specials on Wednesdays are like the new Taco Tuesday. I’ll give $1.00 to the first marketing genius who can come up with the tagline that ties “burger” and “Wednesday” cleverly into one catchy slogan.

Go on, I’ll wait.

In the meantime, we’ll just be over here enjoying a myriad of $5 burger and fry combo deals.

Which is exactly what Shane, Cassi and Jason all did on this fine evening.

Because all of the wing flavors sounded freaking delicious – think lots of things involving bourbon, peppers, chipotle and siracha, because nothing bad ever comes from flavors with those elements, right? – Shane also got six of the Maple Bourbon dry rub wings.

Ted also got wings – the Xtra Hot flavor – and one of the specialty burgers that weren’t part of the $5 deal, but included fun toppings so seemed to be worth the extra $2.50. Ted opted for the Breakfast Burger, which I’m sure if I gave you three guesses you could correctly identify all of the toppings included in order to deserve that name.

You’re smart people. I know.

I got the Warden burger – also not on special, but sounded less threatening than the Death Row burger or the Shake Down burger – but unlike Ted’s burger wasn’t as obvious in the naming rights. The Warden is apparently fond of the bacon cheeseburgers, though, because this burger was exactly that – bacon and Swiss – with an extra bonus of mushrooms. Score.

If you’re thinking that burger looks awful lonely on that plate, that’s because I was the only one in the group to skip the fries in favor of a side salad. Early warning, we just booked a beach vacation for early September, so I’m going to be serving as your health food poster child for a bit. Well, I mean, kind of. Because I was still eating a giant burger.

Balance.

Everyone who got the burger special said that the burger was a little over cooked, but that it was still good overall so they were willing to overlook that little misstep. Which, if any of you remember Shane’s bout of testing all burgers to the n-th degree of cooked medium rare from a few years back, will know that’s actually high praise on the flavor of the patties and the seasonings used.

My burger seemed to be cooked a little less well done – think true medium in most places – so my guess would be that maybe the non-special burgers are a little thicker than the patties that they make for the $5 Wednesday specials? But regardless it had really good flavor. And the bacon was real, so there’s always that.

It’s sad that I now have to make sure to note that, no? #saynotofacon #cantfoolmetwice

Ted preferred the wings over his burger. He said it’s been a while since he’s had an order of good hot wings. No specialty flavor, no dry rub, just a good, hot sauce. Maybe not “xtra” hot like the menu promised – at least to Ted’s “I can eat a habenero and not be affected” taste buds – but still very good.

Remember those fries that Ted was entralled with watching the cook prepare? Yeah, well, according to the rest of the group, apparently it would’ve been worth whatever extra cash we would’ve had to pay by holding off a week on booking that beach trip, just to have the opportunity to try those instead of a salad. To quote Cassi, “if I’m going to kill calories on French fries, these are exactly what I would want them to taste like.”

There’s always next time?

Or, for all of your sake, just don’t be Steph. Get the damn fries.

Cassi and Jason has also ordered breaded mushrooms, but when they hadn’t arrived in front of us by the time the rest of the food had been served up, they finally asked the bartender about them … who admitted that she totally forgot to put the order in. And then she pushed the order to the front of the line, ahead of everyone else who had orders in after our group. And then when they came up she said she wouldn’t charge them for the order.

Now, friends, that’s what I call good customer service. I mean, is it really so hard?

THE WHO (we saw)

Aside from our friend the good bartender – who was the only person working out on the floor or behind the bar to serve up both food and drinks – there was just one equally as overworked person in the kitchen. I mean, we’ve already covered the point that it’s a small place, so I do get it. But between the Wednesday burger special, and a group like the five of us who show up together and like to eat as if the world will run out of food tomorrow – well, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly a quick turnaround on the food-to-table process. And you know how much we love it when food arrives in stages. But in this case we kind of couldn’t fault the staff. Especially when we even heard the bartender tell the cook at one point that she really thought it was time to think about getting someone else to help in the kitchen on nights when they have specials like this. So, yeah, we get it.

Although, which nights do you pick when there seems to be a special on all of them?

Also, there seemed to be about 15 more cars (or, check that, trucks) in the parking lot than there were people in the place. So either there was a big party going on in the back of the kitchen, or no one here knows the meaning of the word carpool. Or maybe the entire city of Norton parks here and gets bused to their homes after dinner. Whatevs.

And special shout out to the poor group who were unlucky enough to have chosen the table directly in front of the photo op wall to try and have a nice meal, when we interrupted and asked if they would mind taking our photo.  I have to believe they truly had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to be a partner in crime (see what I did there?) to that process.

Let’s just say that this photo is the only one I feel comfortable publishing in a public forum.

But you’re welcome for the laughs. I’m sure they lasted well into the time after the door hit our group in the ass on the way out.

THE HOW (much we paid)

Well that was cheap. Except for the $4 Trulys, the rest of the bill was super reasonable.

Our bill

Cassi and Jason’s bill

But to be honest, the menu really does have decent prices. Most apps are $3-$6. Wraps and basic sandwiches are $4.75, or $6.25 with a side of chips or fries, and some of the heartier sandwiches like philly cheesteaks or grilled chicken with bacon and ranch were $7.75, including fries.

The wings were the only things that seemed to be a little bit expensive, as an order of six was $7, or an order of 12 for $13. But I guess be sure to stop in on Thursdays, when they’re only 50 cents each.

THE WHY (they will likely see us again)

This was definitely a fun little neighborhood dive bar. We didn’t get treated like outsiders when we walked in, despite the fact that you could tell this was definitely a Cheers-esque “everyone knows your name” kind of place. And the table we asked to be our photographers didn’t throw drinks at us and make us climb over their table to get a silly photo, so that’s a plus. I’m not sure if we could really ever use this one as a patio revisit pick – especially considering now that we know how understaffed they are on a busy night, and that we would likely have to go in and pretty much pick up the orders from the bar ourselves if we ever wanted to eat. But the wait for the fries alone might be worth it. Just so long as we schedule that visit well out of the time frame of any fantasies any of us have about eating somewhat healthy, ‘k?

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi