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

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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

WTGW 7/3/19: REVISIT – Jojo’s Sports Grille, Medina

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THE WHERE (we went)

So riddle me this: is it really a revisit if the person who picked it said they didn’t remember going there?

Our last time at Jojo’s Sports Grille was back in July of 2014 – which, sidebar, anyone else completely amazed that that was FIVE WHOLE YEARS ago already? I mean, WTH, universe – but it was also before we devised our revolutionary thumbs up/down rating system, so I mean, really how do we even remember what we thought of a place without that?

Exactly.

But honestly, it seems like Jojo’s really hasn’t changed much over the past half decade. They’re still in the same building, just away from the square in downtown Medina. And still connected – and by connected I mean sharing the building with – Domenics Italian Restaurant. So I guess that relationship is still going strong,

Jojo’s has a patio – but being that it was a nice evening in early summer, it’s no surprise that we weren’t able to find an open table for four. Or one, even. Guess this is the place to be, Medina.

The place is also still seat yourself – which I don’t remember working out so well for us the last time we visited, so I’m super excited they still haven’t found a better way of doing things. Because that fun walk of shame with a group of four people through the bar onto the patio, making a large circle and then retracing your steps back again will never be awkward.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

It’s too bad we didn’t take a hot second to look at the beer taps or coolers when we did our patio walk through, because our server wasn’t super up to speed on what was available. She was slightly knowledgeable with the beer options, so Ted was quick to choose the Truth on tap – although to be fair I think it was Cassi that had actually spotted that handle on our little walk. And Shane opted for a Bud Light – because, well, that’s usually a given that most places will have that on tap.

So maybe I’m actually giving the server a little too much unwarranted credit.

I chose Summer Shandy after learning the only cider option was Angry Orchard, which is essentially the PBR of ciders. No thanks. But then Cassi asked about White Claw or Truly, and was told they have both – specifically the Mango WC and the Berry Truly – so I changed my answer.

Just kidding. Our server returns to our table a little bit later with the beer for the guys, and one raspberry White Claw. Which is 1) neither of the flavors that she had said previously she was certain they had, and 2) one can less than what we ordered. Hmm.

I mean, if this is the last one left in the whole building just tell us straight up because we’ve found ourselves in this situation before and it’s not entirely pleasant.

She says they do have more, but she isn’t sure what flavors. Because, although you know we had specifically asked you about what was available, apparently you just closed your eyes and grabbed up a can at random out of the cooler? Did someone hand it to you relay race style as you passed by the bar and screamed “give me a hard sparkling water, stat!”

Doubtful.

Regardless, we told her to surprise us. It’s like Russian Roulette with alcoholic beverages. Live dangerously.

So there’s at least two flavors back there

Cool.

Another thing we remembered from our last visit was that Jojo’s had a very large and diverse menu. And that definitely hasn’t changed at all.

Shane looked up the old post, and the photos of the pizzas were enough to make his ordering decision on this visit slightly easier. The only debate he had was the eternal choice in toppings or specialty pizza. He was leaning toward the NY Style simply for the fact that it was a larger pizza, but then once he would’ve added literally ALL THE TOPPINGS it would’ve been about as much for his pizza as the bills for the entire table.

So he ordered the Domenic’s Deluxe instead. Which, let’s face it, was still pretty large, so I’d consider that a win.

A giant pizza, all for Shane

He also got a side order of jojo potatoes. Because, Jojo’s. Can you go to eat there and NOT order them?

I have to believe we made that same joke five years ago, too.

And clearly it was enough food for him, because he ended up taking three pieces home. And one slice of Cassi’s, after she declared she was not at all thrilled about her choice. And Shane wasn’t going to see it go to waste.

No one throws out pizza on Shane’s watch.

Cassi’s choice was the Veggie Pizza, with a side salad. She took one bite and gave it an “F” grade, victim of the dreaded mushy bottom. She said the toppings were good, but the crust killed it for her. And it was nothing like Tim’s, which is the standard by which all pizzas in her world will now be judged.

#notTim’s

This also spurred a lively debate between her and Shane regarding the merits of vegetables on pizza and how that affects crust moisture.

We take on the hard topics on Wednesday nights, folks.

Meanwhile, Ted and I were just over here enjoying our non-pizza meals, which included ten Sweet Chili Thai wings and an overstuffed Italian Panini for Ted.

And the Firecracker Panini for me, which – because the name doesn’t really make it obvious – was turkey, pepper jack cheese, and breaded jalepenos. And no, I wasn’t just going for the Independence Day theme. I was actually considering the turkey bacon panini, but I still have PTSD from a few weeks ago. Damn you, Wadsworth Tavern.

I think Ted loved the pickle the best out of his whole meal, if that tells you anything. Not to pick on the Wadsworth Tavern again – but, I mean, we will, because let’s face it they deserve it – but Ted said that pickle had more flavor than the supposedly pickle flavored wings he waited a year and a half for on that visit.

He wasn’t impressed with his Panini, saying it “wasn’t quite as advertised.” And by that he means that the menu calls it oversized, but his wasn’t much thicker than my regular panini.

I, on the other hand, really liked my regular old non-overstuffed sandwich. It definitely had a kick to it. My side salad, however, was essentially nothing more than a bowl of iceberg lettuce with some cheese, so I’m super glad I opted for that.

Especially since ordering it meant I had to almost draw a photo diagram for the server to describe what I was wanting to order with my sandwich. So, I wanted to keep the chips that came with the sandwich, AND add a side salad. Not substitute. Not remove one. Not bring one as an appetizer.

Because apparently no one has ever ordered two sides with a sandwich before. #trendsetter.

THE WHO (we saw)

Judging from the crowd when we walked in, all of Medina. It is a holiday eve after all. And nothing says “Night Before Independence Day” like eating Italian food, right?

Although about 25 minutes after our arrival we started seeing things clear out a little, at least in the dining room area. We guessed we were at the tail end of the dinner rush, so that was probably part of it – but then also judging from the huge crowd we saw sitting in the dark on lawn chairs in the park down the street on our drive home, it was probably also an easy dinner placement prior to the city fireworks display.

I mean, good thing we put that whole fireworks thing together or else that image could’ve been a little bit creepy, no?

Anyway.

Someone we didn’t see much of was – shocker – our server. Because her expertise with the bar beverages didn’t set that one up for you at all, I’m sure. Her visits were sporadic and not always productive, something we seemed to remember about the service on our last visit. So clearly they’re working on that.

THE HOW (much we spent)

Well, I’m glad lettuce and cheese is $3.49. That seems acceptable.

Overall, though, considering the amount of food we had, that tab isn’t horrible. If two people were to share a pizza along with some drinks it would be a pretty cheap night out.

But we all know how this group feels about sharing food, so there’s that.

THE WHY (they will probably see us again)

Despite the slow service and the fun game of dining table musical chairs you have to submit yourself to just to try and get a place to park yourself for your meal, Jojo’s does have a large menu and some decent options. And clearly their system is working for them, as they haven’t gotten any less busy in the five years between out visits. We said it last time and we’ll say it again – it would be a solid option for a take out place, since there’s always something new to try on the menu and you don’t have to take your chances on tables or bar drinks in the process. But really what fun is that?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

(We forgot to take our photos at the restaurant before we left, so thankfully Ted was making a stop for gas at the GetGo down the street. You’re welcome to the other drivers who got to witness our seemingly random photo session with the pizza box)

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Shane

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

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THE WHERE (we went)

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

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

Gotta love you, Ohio.

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

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

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

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

This is what arrived.

Now that’s a burger

Holy hell.

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

So that worked.

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

Ted: Me either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are we even at the same table?

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

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

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

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

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

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

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

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

THE WHY (they may see us again)

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

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

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

Steph

Cassi

Shane

Ted

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

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

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

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey kids, it’s patio season again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

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

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

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

Beer twins Shane and Jason opted for draft Bud Light.

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

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

More on that later.

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

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

Nothing new there, I know.

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

Jason got a burger.

Shane got garlic parm wings.

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

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

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

I told you Wednesdays were the new Fridays.

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

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

Shane liked his wings, said they were tasty.

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

Dear server,

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry not sorry,
Us.

So that pretty much covers the service issue.

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

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

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 2/27/19: County Line Bar & Grille, Hartville

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THE WHERE (we went)

If you google County Line Bar & Grille, you’ll actually come up with two options within our usual WTGW driving radius. One of them, to the east, is in Hartville. And the other one, to the west, is in Rittman.

Hey, remember Rittman?

Yeah, we passed the latter of those options last week on our way to BG’s Main Event. And let’s just say that after that drive I can now see why the place has the nickname “the shack by the tracks.”

See also: why that County Line was not the one we ended up at this evening. Even Shane admitted to that one being far to the side of his sketch meter. Which says probably more than I can ever attempt to here.

Instead we ventured out to Hartville, a few miles to the south of my previous pick of 44Sharp. The drive was far more enjoyable this week without being inundated by blinding snow.

When we finally came up on the place – which is aptly named since it quite literally sits right on the county line – we found the parking lot to be packed. It was like an oasis of parked cars amidst the farm fields.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Who would’ve thought that a little dive bar in the middle of nowhere has the newest trend in hard sparkling waters, Truly? No us, that’s for sure. And even the newest line of tropical flavors. Color us surprised.

Ted asked about dark beer and was found to be drinking this.

Um?

Yeah, exactly. If Sam Adams Cold Snap is a dark beer then Guinness must be like a black hole of liquid death. But Ted said it was either stick with that or go to a Jack and Coke … and since he’s our driver we all agreed to just trust this decision.

Our first observation upon looking at the food menu was that it was super cheap. I mean, burgers for $5.50? Sold.

Shane tried to make the claim that “this may be the cheapest pick ever.” Uh, no. The place with that title is about 10 miles directly north of here. And their burgers come with a generous topping of chiclet onions and a free side of “I can’t believe you’re making me do my job” attitude.

Not taking any chances, though, Shane and I ordered first. You know, just in case this place was in any way a distant cousin of that place to the north.

We started off with the sampler platter, in which you get to choose three items from the appetizer menu, for the bargain price of $9. We chose the breaded mushrooms, onion rings and cheese sticks. None of those items should be a surprise to anyone.

I’ll take an order of everything fried, please

For meals, I got the steak Philly with fries.

Shane got the burger with sautéed mushrooms.

And also 12 wings, because we all know a meal isn’t complete for the guys in this group unless you order two things. When he asked about the type of ranch sauce (dressing vs dry rub) that was on the wings, the server recommended a special concoction that she often orders for herself: something called “spicy ranch,” which included the ranch dressing with a spicy dry rub sprinkled on over top.

Sold.

Onion rings were the only thing in that whole mix that I wasn’t crazy about. The other items on the app platter were good, as was my sandwich – although I did eventually just eat all of the steak and cheese off of the bun, but at least it was just because it was too much food and not because it didn’t taste good. And I used a fork, I’m not a complete heathen.

Shane was a big fan of the server’s special wing concoction. It was just the right amount of spicy.

Cassi, however, didn’t share the same enthusiasm about her wings – six of the spicy garlic boneless wings. She said they had a strange texture, and the flavor wasn’t that great.

Maybe because they look more like chicken nuggets than wings? Just a thought.

Fortunately she also got a regular burger with lettuce, tomato and cheese – which she enjoyed.

There’s definitely lettuce on that one

Jason got the same order as Shane. Because, well, them. He and Cassi also got the fried pickles as an app, and then a little later – after realizing the pickles only came a few to the order – the breaded mushrooms.Which also arrived seemingly a little on the skimpy side portion-wise, but I guess for under $5 you really can’t complain all that much.

I mean, unless you’re us anyway.

There’s a lot of empty space in that basket

Can we all just agree spears of any kind (pickle, Brittany, large throwing objects) are not good?

The other order of fried pickles in the group belonged to Ted. It’s like Dilly D’s all over again up in here. Well, I mean, except that these pickles were actually edible.

Ouch.

Ted also got the strip steak with fries. And a little side car of cole slaw that showed up after the pickles like a second course of the meal.

There’s meat under there somewhere

Our server came back a little while into our meals and asked if we were missing another side of wings. Because three baskets of them on the table along with five actual meals didn’t seem like enough, I guess.

Uh, no room at the inn, sorry.

We told her no, they weren’t ours … but in true us fashion we of course offered to give them a good home. Because, I mean, when do you know this group to refuse food?

So she brought them over. Chalk up some more points, server lady. We already thought you were great, but this sealed the deal.

And of course we ate them. When there was one left in the basket we all played the “who’s the least full” game until Jason took one for the team and consumed it – but not before cursing us all loudly.

THE WHO (we saw)

This is maybe best answered by putting myself into the shoes of a regular at the County Line Bar & Grille on this Wednesday evening, who, if they were writing a similar blog post about the place, would say this:

So this group of people obviously new to the bar showed up at what quite possibly is the busiest time of the evening. They opened the door and spilled into the unexpectedly small-ish room, then had no idea where to go after the door closed behind them. Seeing all the tables full and fewer spots than needed open at the bar, they all just kind of spun around each other like human planets in orbit trying to determine the next move. 

So that was fun.

Fortunately two guys at a table – actual regulars, if I had to guess – took pity on us and offered up their table as they were leaving. Or, as they were done eating and opted to just move to the bar to keep drinking, as I think was more likely the case.

Regardless, we were very appreciative.

We were also appreciative of the server, who was super nice and not at all judgmental that we were not only new to the place but also never seemed to run out of questions. She gets the credit for recommending the “secret” off-menu wing flavor that the guys enjoyed, as well as recognizing when it wasn’t done correctly and sending it back for the kitchen to fix.

Bonus points for the time she showed up carrying an entire round for five people in one trip. Without a serving tray.

Shane was willing to go on record saying if that things kept up in that fashion then she may vault to the top of the list of best servers ever. And we all know we don’t throw those words around lightly in this group.

THE HOW (much we spent)

So that’s $55, for an app platter, two sandwiches, an order of wings, and three rounds of drinks each. I consider that a win.

Another win: Truly for $3.25 a can. In a small dive bar in the middle of nowhere, that seems like a good deal. Also we now judge these drinks on the high $5 price tag we encountered a few weeks ago, so anything below that will get a thumbs up in this group.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

I’d venture to say we would return. The food was decent, the prices cheap, and the service great … so really what more can we ask for? Well, I mean besides the obvious and impossible task of making it closer to home, but you’ll have that.

We also noticed they seem to have a decent sized patio out back, so I would be interested in returning in the summer months to check that out.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Jason

Steph

Shane

Ted, under my curse of bad lighting

Cassi

Jason

 

WTGW 12/19/18: Bison Street Burgers and Brews, Massillon

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Our trek to Bison Street Burgers and Brews began by driving for about a year and a half to get to the place, between Ted’s directionally challenged map advisor and the fact that this is pretty much the other side of the world from our house. The final leg of the drive also involved meandering through some residential neighborhoods – thanks for the holiday light displays, people of Massillon – so of course we were totally convinced that this week’s pick would actually end up being at someone’s house.

I joke because it’s happened before. Ok, well not really, but this certainly isn’t the first time we’ve had these thoughts.

Finally we’re here! And it’s not a house!  Yeah, no, instead it’s some giant building that looks like it should be a commercial trucking company or pool chemical distributor.

Welcoming. Where have you brought us, Ted?

There’s also some sort of strange maze of concrete pilons all over the parking lot. Seems an odd choice for a place that advertises “brews” in the name, no? Is this their version of sobriety testing before you can head home?

If not for the giant banner on the side of the building announcing “Now open to the public!” we may have second guessed this choice, cut our losses, and tried to find our way back to civilization before searching out some food and drinks.

Thankfully we all had our adventurous pants on this evening, and ventured ahead into the mysterious giant building.

And – spoiler alert – we were not at all sorry. This place is definitely a hidden gem. Emphasis on hidden.

The inside of Bison St made us all think perhaps the place used to be a private club of some sort – you know, Eagles, Moose, Lions, whatever animal seemed to be a good name for a club that popped up in pretty much every small town in Ohio at one time or another. It’s a giant room, with a decent sized bar at one side and tables throughout. Also, lighting. Which sounds strange to say, but given the darkness we’ve eaten in over the past few weeks it was actually kind of nice to be able to see our food for a change.

Given the name of the place, of course we all ordered beers with our meals. I had just gotten home from a quick overnight work trip to NYC – which of course involved personal challenges to close down bars that stay open until 4AM – so alcohol was about the furthest thing from my mind. And then naturally I ordered a Christmas Ale. Logical, I know.

Our server came over and let us know that all of the apps were half off. I can’t remember if this was because it was Wednesday or because we were there during happy hour, though, so don’t quote me on being able to get this special ever again. Did I mention I didn’t get much sleep the night before?

There were two apps that weren’t part of the special – the loaded fries, and something called The Titan, which turned out to be a giant one pound pretzel. We saw one of these delivered to a nearby table before we placed our orders, and we can vouch that it is aptly named. But we didn’t order it – because, hello, there were a wealth of other items to choose from that sounded just as delicious but were part of whatever special we were told about.

Frugality is a strong point of this group. You should know this by now.

Speaking of things you should know by now, Cassi and Jason ordered the fried pickles as their appetizer. Ted also decided to get his own order as well.

Where did they find such skinny spears?

Shane and I opted for the cream cheese poppers, because they sounded delicious. And also the onion rings, because after the special they were $2. I mean, seriously.

Why don’t we order these more often?

Definitely not from the same “small veggie” garden that the pickles are grown in

Perhaps because we’ve been slacking on our normal menu inquisition of our dear servers, we decided to try our luck on that line of questioning again this time. To which we were greeted with the time-honored and oh-so-helpful answer of “everything.”

Uh oh. We’ve been down this road before.

But then she mentioned that the place is known for its burgers – which, come on, you’re not really going out on a limb with that one considering it’s in. the. name. of. the. establishment. – and also the gourmet grilled cheeses. OK, now we’re getting somewhere.

Then she went on to say that the flatbreads are also good. And that the Cowboy burger is the best seller.

OK, we get it. Just stop before you creatively manage to reinforce your initial statement about everything on the menu being worth ordering.

Have we mentioned The Titan yet? Yeah, well, so did she. We’re beginning to be sorry we asked.

Hey, Ted managed to pick one of the few items on the menu that the server didn’t point out! He chose the strip steak with mashed potatoes, claiming he had been having recent cravings for a good steak.

Obviously he was also having cravings for just food in general, since Ted literally didn’t speak to the group the entire time he was eating. It was like we weren’t even there. At one point I think the other four of us actually stopped eating so that we could just watch him clean up every morsel of food on any plate that was in front of him.

It wasn’t until the server arrived to take the plates from the table that he seemed to look up and realize he was among a group and could rejoin us again.

So clearly he hated it.

I’m surprised I was able to get a photo of this before it disappeared

I kid. He said that it was delicious, and actually it was one of the better steaks he’s had in some time. The meat wasn’t overly seasoned, but because it was cooked to perfection it had a ton of flavor.

It wasn’t until he paid it the highest compliment of saying he liked it “as much, if not a lot more” than that infamous steak special at the Dougout that Shane’s ears perked up.

I already see a revisit, just so Shane can order this entree and try it for himself.

Jason got the aforementioned Cowboy Burger, and also an order of Coney dogs. The server explained – probably as she realized Jason was essentially ordering two full meals just for himself – that the Coney dogs weren’t anything to sneeze at, the order was actually two large-ish dogs and a full order of fries. So, yeah, a crapload of food.

But hey, he still went for it. Because when have statements like these really ever stopped us? It’s more like a challenge.

And clearly she doesn’t read this blog.

Plus Cassi stepped up to say that she would eat some of the fries. This is how marriages succeed, people.

The one stipulation was that she needed to be able to get a side of beer cheese to dip the fries in. And while what showed up wasn’t quite the swimming pool’s worth of melted goodness that arrived on the table at that place in Barberton, it was definitely close.

Maybe it’s a good thing Ted never looked up long enough to see this giant bowl of cheese?

The Coney dogs turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. They definitely looked better than they tasted – which seems to be an oxymoron of a statement all on its own, being that Coney dogs are made to look like a bit of a hot mess on a bun – so I guess what you can read into that is that we were all far more excited to see them arrive on the table than Jason was to eat all of them. Jason said they weren’t horrible, per se, but mainly that the chili was too sweet.

Proof that looks can be deceiving

I mean, he still he still ate everything, though, so take that as you will. He just thought maybe the value was more at a $3 level instead of the $5 they charged.

Yes, this is the level we’ve hit, folks. You know you’re pro when you can play The Price is Right with menu items.

Lest you think fries with cheese sauce were Cassi’s only source of nourishment for the evening, she also got the half pesto flatbread and six spicy garlic boneless wings. And it only took about a bite and a half of each one before she said she wished she had nixed the flatbread and just gotten a double order of wings. The wings were small, but the flavor was outstanding … while the flatbread was the exact opposite of both of those things

But at least it’s pretty?

I think Cassi wished this was one of those never ending baskets

Because I apparently wasn’t paying attention during the part of the evening when we realized that the server was going to be not helpful in the least when it came to decision making, I pushed my luck and inquired which was better: the Philly grilled cheese or the Ranch burger made with Bison meat.

I bet you already can’t guess how influential this was to my decision.

So I chose the burger … at which point Shane says “hey, you know what? we always get burgers when we go out. maybe you should try something new.” … so I crossed back over into the grilled cheese camp.  And vowed to Shane that if my meal sucked I was holding him personally responsible.

This is also how marriages succeed. We should totally teach a course.

What was that we said about looks being deceiving?

I’m glad to say Shane was allowed to live, because my meal didn’t suck … but it also wasn’t so great that I didn’t kind of still half wish I’d ordered the burger instead. It’s like the Sliding Doors of food orders. The sandwich was just OK. It was made from braised short rib – which the server did tell me going into the order, so I wasn’t expecting processed Philly steak like other sandwiches. Maybe that’s why I had higher expectations. And, I mean, it tasted good … but it just wasn’t at the top of the list of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Maybe it was the sourdough bread, which usually I love but in this case just didn’t seem to go with the sandwich.

Thumbs way up on the fries, though. I got the steak fries (compared to the rest of the table’s fresh cut) and was not disappointed there.

Shane got the Flaming Hot Burger, which he wasted no time in exclaiming how amazing it was. Per the previous few paragraphs, I wasted no time in not pretending that didn’t annoy me at least a little bit.

I like that they hide the hot peppers under a sheet of cheese. Tricky.

Mine and Shane’s bill was $35, which got us two appetizers, two Bud lights for Shane, one Christmas ale for me (which was the Beer of the Month, so cheaper than usual), and two full meals – of which I ended up taking half of my sandwich home, probably thanks to the two apps worth of fried stuff we started out the meal enjoying. Not too shabby at all.

Plus the place had a cool atmosphere on the inside – and despite the fact that the server wasn’t the best at giving solid recommendations, the service was great. I mean, it’s better when the server can’t decide what to recommend because she honestly loves everything they make, and not because she doesn’t care or hasn’t been there long enough to have really even opened a menu.

I could definitely see us making a return visit to Bison St. Especially after we noticed on our way out that there seems to be a fairly large covered patio area outside, so it will be interesting to see if they have bands there, or just make it into a cool outdoor area for the summer. It only it weren’t over the river and through the woods away from our house … but at least in the summer it stays light out longer, so maybe it won’t feel like midnight before we even make it into the concrete-hazard-laden parking lot. Can y’all leave the Christmas lights up for us?

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Shane, decked out in his holiday finest

Steph

Jason

Cassi – up for wings, down for flatbreads