WTGW 9/19/18: Wolf Creek Tavern, Norton

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Hey, it’s mid-September and we’re still reveling in patio weather here in NEOhio. Three cheers for a freakishly warm fall! Horray!

Although this week’s patio didn’t provide the same scenery as some of our other adventures this summer – I mean, sitting next to a busy street being “entertained” by children at the ice cream place across said street trying to get cars to honk at them doesn’t exactly compare to the time we sat next to a lake, or the time we technically sat outside but were in the basement of patios – but hey, we had giant lifeguard chairs at this one so that counts for something, right?

Sure.

Especially when the alternative to sitting on the patio was to sit inside in a dining room that kind of reminded us of grandma’s unused formal parlor. Or a long-in-need-of-a-remodel country club.

I think you’re drawing a picture in your head, and I’m sure whatever it is, it’s not unlike what you would actually encounter here.

Anyway.

Let’s start with drinks, because that’s really how every Wednesday evening does (and deservedly so should) begin.

Wolf Creek Tavern has a pretty impressive craft beer list, including several that I for one was unfamiliar with. Cassi and Ted ordered the house brew beer, I got something that had peach in it, and Jason ordered something that started with a W and was basically unpronounceable so I’m not about to try and recreate the name now.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered got a gingertini, because, well, when your name is on the menu then you are pretty much obligated to order whatever it is that’s named after you.

They named the most masculine drink after Shane

Pinkies out!

He said it tasted like Hawaiian Punch. That can’t be a bad thing. Unless, of course, you’re trying to drink slowly, I guess.

Remember when I said it’s been a warm fall? Well, apparently that season is recreating itself inside the coolers at Wolf Creek Tavern, because our beer – both bottled and draft – was somewhat on the lukewarm spectrum. Which is an issue that a chilled glass would probably solve … although those glasses are usually kept in a cooler either the same as or in close proximity to where the bottled beer is kept, so in this case that probably wouldn’t help.

#firstworldproblems

So if there are fried green tomatoes on the menu, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Shane will order them – even if they don’t have his name on them like certain fruit punch tasting drinks.

They should just rename this dish universally to “Shane’s Preferred Appetizer”

He was happy with them.

Meanwhile Cassi and Jason ordered the pierogi stack, and Ted opted for the Korean BBQ wings.

Comfort food for the win

Fancy wings

The pierogis were good. The wings, however, were a bit dry. It’s not really unusual for Ted to offer up his food to the rest of the table for sharing after it arrives, but when he’s on like the third round of “no, really, I don’t mind sharing, please help yourself” we all start to put the puzzle pieces together on why he really wants to get the plate out from in front of him.

Speaking of third rounds, that seemed to be about how many times it took before our server actually registered something we said to her. Case in point, Ted had ordered the house brew, but then when we put in our apps he also asked her about the other beers that were on tap aside from that one. She said she would check and let him know. But then we never saw the server again until the apps were delivered. So Ted tried asking again, and she acted like he had never asked in the first place. And again told him that she would go check and let him know.

Ted, after she left: You all did hear me ask the first time, right? That wasn’t just, like, in my head?

Fortunately she did return this time, only slightly before Ted was ready to just go wander behind the bar himself and start investigating on his own. Maybe we should’ve let him – I mean, he probably could’ve fixed the coolers while he was back there.

There also seemed to be some disconnect with doing more than one thing at a time whenever our server was at the table. I mean, most servers use each touch point as a chance to kind of kill two birds with one stone, so to speak – so visit once, get drink orders … visit again to drop off drinks, take app orders … visit again to check on drinks and take dinner orders … you get the idea. It’s pretty straightforward. I mean, if you’ve eaten in a restaurant, well, ever, then there’s no deep-shrouded mystery in how the dining out process works in most situations. I’m sure no one reading this blog has just been sitting in their house for the past 20+ years thinking to themselves, “I wonder how servers manage to find out what it is that you want to eat and when the appropriate time is to inquire about this.”

If that is the case, then you and our server would get along famously. And take her with you whenever you go out in search of the great meaning of dining out, because she could use a few pointers.

Although she did mention to us that this was her first night back from vacation. If I’m not mistaken, that was the whole reason why she said she had to go check on the draft list that Ted kept asking about – because she had been away somewhere and was just coming back to work that night.

Clearly, wherever she went, she’s still there in spirit.

It pretty much became a game of how many things we could say to her each time she came to the table, because our time with her was limited and then it would be another 20+ minutes before she would return again.

See also, why the photos of our apps and our dinners look like they were taken on two separate days, because we finished said apps and the sun had quite literally set on the day before we even had a chance to put our dinner orders in.

But hey, at least by the time our dinners arrived the ice cream place across the street was closed, so therefore all the small children yelling at cars to get them to honk their horns were home safely in bed by that point, and we could eat the remainder of our meal in relative silence.

Small victories.

Three of the five of us ordered the fish and chips for dinner. I only took one picture, because, well, you can figure that much out. I mean, unless you’re our server, in which case I’m probably giving you way too much credit. But that’s neither here nor there.

This, x3

It was just OK. Shane called it greasy. Which I get, but also kind of figure that comes with the batter-dipped, deep-fried territory, no?

I mean, he still ate the whole thing, too, so it couldn’t be that bad. Or maybe since it was like 9pm by this point and we felt like we had been sitting there through two days and three seasons, he was just hungry enough not to care.

The other two members of our party – one of whom was Jason and for once the other wasn’t his food-twin Shane – ordered burgers.

Look, we’ve been here so long we’re eating breakfast now, too

Excuse me, sir, but is your burger wearing a hat?

Jason’s burger was supposed to come with jalapenos in addition to the fried egg, but he wasn’t having any part of that condiment. Not one to see hot peppers cast off as useless, Ted asked for the jalapenos that Jason didn’t want to be placed on his burger instead. They brought them in a little cup, which he shared with Shane. And all was well with the world.

Because nothing tastes better after a few sweet, fruity drinks that some lukewarm beer, Shane decided to switch things up after a few rounds and order the “Mystery Beer” that they advertised on the menu (or maybe it was just because he was at this point still holding his menu because she still hadn’t come around to take our dinner orders yet, and he just for once had time to read the. entire. thing.) In any case, the gimmick is that they bring you a beer that could be anything on their craft menu, and if you guess it correctly it’s only $2.00. If not, you pay full price.

Which we learned was a lot more than $2, since Shane did not guess correctly. He guessed vanilla porter, and it turned out to be an oatmeal stout. He also wasn’t a fan. Which means he paid far more than he had hoped for a beer that he didn’t care for.

So that experiment played out well.

Hey, I finally got a cold drink! Well, it’s only because they put actual ice cubes in my glass before they poured my cider. Apparently we’ve been at this place long enough for new bartending trends to develop now?

Overall, if you haven’t guessed, the service killed this place for us. I mean, the food was OK – nothing off the charts outstanding, but nothing I wouldn’t necessarily order again either. But the service – or, rather, lack thereof – was just awful. And the worst part is that there was no reason for it to be that way. The patio had at most two other tables filled in the course of our meal, and one of them was looked after by another server. I mean, look, we can be understanding if the place is jam-packed, or if you tell us that there’s a table of 25 on the polar opposite side of the space that you’re also responsible for. Give us some credit – we’re not complete jerks who don’t understand the hinderances and complications of the restaurant world. Tell us that your co-worker is a biotch who called off hungover at the last minute and left you to fend for yourself. Rat out the horrible hostess who quadruple sat you within the past 10 minutes. We get it. But when you disappear for long stretches and then return with no explanation while only giving us the grace of your attention for like two minutes before you Houdini yourself to the nether lands again? Nope.

We determined on the drive home that somewhere somehow we annoyed the restaurant gods, and our penance now is bad service for the forseeable future. Our past few visits out it just seems to get progressively worse. Which of course brought up tales of awful service of WTGW pasts … anyone remember The Annex? The one place we actually walked out of without being served? … but were graced with the lingering smell of grilled hamburger grease on our clothes and hair for the remainder of the night?

Please, for the love of all things edible, let this curse be broken before we hit that point again.

Also, we had to go inside to take our photos, lest we revisit the incident of Tinkers Creek Tavern a few weeks ago. So, no, we didn’t sneak off to the local golf club just to take a few pictures. But this just further explains why we will probably only return on patio-worthy evenings.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Steph

Shane

Jason

Ted

Someone trapped the fooseball players under glass! They can’t breathe in there!

Wolf Creek Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 8/29/18: Dilly D’s, Sagamore Hills

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You guys, you’re about to witness history. When we speak of this night in the future, it will forever be known as the night that the WTGW guys won the most prestigious award ever bestowed upon this collective group.

It’s very exciting

Do we frame this, or actually use it?

This will make more sense by the end of this post. Trust me.

So if we’ve actually been inside the building before, but it was under a different name and the menu was different, should this be considered a new place or a revisit? I’m a little sketchy on the rules here. Which, being that I’m usually the one that makes said rules up, is saying something.

I’m not sure what exactly it is that it’s saying. But something.

Anyway.

So the last time we set foot in this establishment, it was 2016 and the place was then called The Pit Stop Bar & Grille. We learned then that the place was good for sides but not main meals, they didn’t know how to bring appetizers out ahead of dinners, the lighting left our photos looking like we lived in an Instagram filter, and the server didn’t care much at all for small talk.

Sounds delightful, no? Amazing that we didn’t go back at all until now. Also, spoiler alert, a few of those things haven’t changed at all in these past few years.

But of course once we heard the new name, we knew we had to give is another try. If nothing else so that Shane could dress appropriately.

At least someone told him the name ahead of time.

Upon looking at the menu, Cassi immediately announces that she wants the Dilly Dills – which, if you can’t figure out the witty code words, are fried pickles. Jason objected under the pretense that they had been ordering fried pickles at various places a lot lately, and he would like to try something else.

Cassi: Well when someone orders them I want to have one

Consider the gauntlet thrown.

I actually didn’t believe they were really called Dilly Dills until I looked at the menu. But yep, that’s the real name.

See also: Dilly Nachos, the Dilly Philly, and something called the Dilly Dang Hot Burger.

I’m sensing a theme here.

Of course we asked the server what was good – because, well, that’s Shane’s favorite question. Her response was that it was literally her first day, and she admitted that she hadn’t yet tried anything on the menu. Well, OK then. Props for honesty, dear server. Believe it or not we prefer that answer to the alternative of just smiling at us and saying “Everything. It’s all good. Yep, eat anything, you’re sure to love it all.”

So since she was no help in our food selections, we had to resort to asking about the daily specials. Turns out Wednesday is pizza night – which equates to a 12 inch pizza with one topping for the bargain price of $7.99.

And just like that she’s Shane’s new best friend again. He ordered the pizza special, along with six wings.

I opted for the BLT with tater tots. And of course we ordered the prerequisite Dilly Dills, lest Cassi be disappointed.

Ted ordered breaded mushrooms. And Cajun wings. AND the lake perch dinner. To which the server couldn’t contain her amazement at the sheer volume of food. Or maybe she was trying to gently suggest that Ted’s imaginary friend couldn’t possibly be hungry enough to help him finish all that. In any case, we all reassured her that this is really nothing unusual. I mean, come on. We’ve seen worse. Need I bring up the the giant sheet pizza incident?

Exactly.

Cassi ordered the Hot Italian Sub, with fries. Jason, meanwhile, did a twinsies order with Shane – the pizza special and six boneless wings.

Shocker, I know.

Our server arrived back at our table a few minutes after taking our order, a move we’ve all come to realize means one of us has spun the roulette wheel and ended up on “disappointment.” This time it was Jason, whose order of six boneless wings was an illegal substitution, and he had to either move to six bone-in wings or up the order to 12 boneless.

Twelve it is. Challenge accepted.

Wings, minus bones

Wings, with bones

Speaking of challenges, Ted claimed to have read this entire blog after Shane once again began teasing him relentlessly about his penchant for choosing a second or third location of a chain that we had visited prior (a conversation started by the news the South End Tavern is opening a new location in Akron), and claimed he only found two instances where he chose someplace of the same name after someone else picked the original. If anyone cares to fact check this statement and take the “I’ve Read Five Years Worth of These People Talking About Eating Lots of Food” challenge, please let me know.

I’m sure we can come up with a prize. I mean, beyond the obvious useless party conversation knowledge of what all of us prefer on our pizzas or how many times Ted has asked for something without cheese.

Or how many times we’ve been out on Wednesdays and it happens to be trivia night at the place we’ve picked, and we’re all extremely excited to join in on that little game.

OK, I’ll give you a head start and answer that last one for you … because it’s only happened one time, and this night would be it. I blame the food taking a hella long time to reach our table. The guys were worn down by hunger, and thought it would be super fun to form a trivia team … then feel way stupid when the questions involve things like world geography and metaphysical science, and you’e not allowed to ask Google or Siri for help with the answers.

Good times. We’ll come back to that little experiment in a bit.

Wings, with a side of trivia

So back to our dinners, someone who is allowed to use Google and works in the in the kitchen at Dilly D’s may want to inquire about the meaning of the word “appetizer.” Because while I can’t tell you offhand what the actual definition is … what I can tell you is that it’s NOT “stuff that comes out alongside a meal just to add more food to the table.” I mean, if that was the case then why make it a whole separate section on the menu and all.

Weird, I know.

Also, this has apparently been an issue for two restaurant names and menu changes now, so maybe it’s time to start looking into this issue a little further?

Just a thought.

So here we are with ALL THE FOOD on our table – which, sidenote, was thankfully an appropriate size this time around so we could actually hold it all at once without having to balance plates on our laps.

And, OK, all the food except for Shane’s pizza, which we were told was “going to take a bit,” because “there was a mistake and we have to remake it.”

Translation: They never put the order in.

It’s not our first day, kids. Please. We may not be good with trivia questions about which mammal lives in camoflague in a river in Southeast Asia, but we’re pretty quick to decode server lingo when it comes to food delivery.

But alas, at least Shane still had our pickle appetizer to eat while he waited, right? Yeah .. about that …

I don’t even have a witty comment for this mess

That would be three pickle spears … disguised by a whole vat of batter. Which I know sounds delightful. But, well, no.

Oh wait, that wasn’t the full order. They “ran out” as they were making our app, and would bring us a full order to go later. We weren’t clear if they ran out of batter (which would make sense, seeing as it was an insane amount, especially when you also take into account it was also used on Ted’s order of breaded mushrooms) or the pre-cut pickle spears … which, I’m guessing, was maybe more so the case, and they just sent someone next door to the convenience store to pick up a new jar.

It’s like looking at corn puffs under a microscope

Newsflash: they could’ve saved themselves the trouble, because we really didn’t want to finish the three pickles in the “incomplete order,” much less the *ahem* FOUR that arrived at our table in the to-go box later in our meal. But it’s the thought that counts?

In contrast to the apps, Ted said that the batter on his perch was surprisingly light. We’d suggest they use whatever recipe that is for all things battered and fried from here on out. But that’s just us.

Appetizer cook, take note

Moving on to sandwiches. My BLT was just OK. The “B” was really good, very crunchy without being burnt. Trust me when I say that’s kind of an art form to perfect. And while the bread was OK as far as taste, it gets a lesser grade just because the texture of it caused me to lose a layer of skin on the roof of my mouth from biting into it. Meanwhile Cassi’s Hot Italian had a mushy bottom. Which is something you definitely don’t want in a sandwich … or really life in general, I would think.

Things that go crunch

There’s a sandwich under all those fries, I promise

The pizza was the clear winner of the evening. Despite being cut into strangely non-uniform pieces (as Jason pointed out when he picked up the tiniest piece ever to be called a “slice”), it was tasty. Shane loved that it was super cheesy (something that certainly wasn’t lost on Ted, as he had to sit nearby and watch Shane pull the gooey slices apart) and he said the flavor was excellent. Cassi tried Jason’s and I think was ready to try to trick him into a trade for his meal – but was clearly at a disadvantage when all she had to offer was a mushy bottomed hot Italian.

This post has taken an odd route.

Ted hit the nail of this experience on the head when he pointed out that usually our downfall when we go places is that the apps are great but the rest of the food not so much  … but this place was the complete opposite.

So, future us, when reading this while seated at a table during our eventual revisit, heed this warning: skip the appetizers. Aside from the fact that they will just arrive with your dinners anyway, they won’t be worth the extra calories or money. Just go straight for the pizza.

#winning

And the reason I know we will eventually be back at this place is … well … refer back to the photo at the top of this post.

Yes, that’s a gift card back to this very establishment. And why, you may ask, would we have this?

Because the guys won trivia.

That’s right, the team that knew virtually zero of the answers and were at the very bottom of the scoreboard following every round, somehow managed to come back at the very end and take the lead by going “all in” on the final question.

Life is strange, folks.

And so was the team name.

If this were an article in the “most insane news you really don’t care about” department, the headline would be “The Moist Towlettes take the trivia world by storm with a come-from-behind victory in their first ever competition.”

So that happened.

I think this redeemed the place a little for them

In other news, we actually remembered to take our pictures this time, so you get to see our smiling faces and attempt to decipher our thumb position rating system once again. I know you’ve missed it.

Picked by: Shane

Steph

Ted

Jason. And no, his thumb isn’t broken, he just believes that this was the best way to say “I liked the pizza, but everything else was no good”

Shane, also giving two votes

Cassi, meanwhile, has no indecisiveness at all

 

WTGW 8/8/18: The Upper Deck, Portage Lakes

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I’m not sure how we’ve been doing this for 5 years now – with 3-4 months out of every year pretty much solely devoted to a continuous and seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect patio space – and yet this is the first time we’ve managed to end up at The Upper Deck. I mean, this place appears to have all of our criteria. Alcohol? Check. Bar food? Check. Decent sized patio? Check – and given bonus points for a view overlooking a lake. Great service? Well, OK, you got us there. You can’t win ’em all I guess.

But have I mentioned the view?

Are we on vacation?

I mean, really.

Ted was actually going to pick an Italian place in Ravenna, but once he realized Mother Nature was going to play along and give us a nice evening he called an audible and went with this place instead. Because we can sit inside and eat pasta in December. Or the next time Shane’s pick rolls around, since he claimed “dibs” on that restaurant as soon as Ted mentioned he was giving it up for this week.

It’s cutthroat around these parts.

As we pulled into the parking lot for The Upper Deck it became painfully obvious that we weren’t the only ones smart enough to realize Mother Nature only stops being a whore for so long, and that we really should drop everything to take advantage of the ability to have cocktails outdoors on a nice evening. We found a parking spot, but Ted wanted to run inside to make sure we could secure a table on the patio without having to wait until after dark to actually sit at it.

Because we never get enough of lists within this group, I proudly give to you The Top Five Reasons Not to Leave The Rest of the Group Alone in a Running Car:
1.) Someone will mention re-parking the car before Ted returns
2.) Someone will mention driving the car very close to the edge of the lake or boat ramp and leaving it there
3.) Someone will mention all of us getting out of the car, leaving it running, and hiding nearby to see Ted’s look of confusion when he returns to an empty vehicle
4.) Someone will mention all of us getting out of the car, leaving it running, hiding nearby … and all of us having to run after it as it gets stolen
5.) All of us will come close to forgetting to turn off the car and take the keys with us when Ted finally texts us that he has a table on the patio an we should just go meet him there

Yes, we’re 12. That’s been established repeatedly by this point.

Anyway.

The patio was decently busy, although not as much as one might think for an evening with little humidity and only a slight chance of rain. Ted mentioned that if the patio hadn’t worked we definitely could’ve been seated inside, since there were only about two claimed tables.

We don’t want to be friends with those people.

The server arrived with a drink for Ted before the rest of us even had a chance to look at the drink menu, which prompted us to wonder exactly how long we’d really been waiting in the car after all. Or if Ted was really a regular there and his celebrity status was showing through.

We ended up ordering beers all around, except for Cassi who got a tequila and soda. And then a Truly hard sparkling water after her mixed drink arrived with more than one fruit fly taking an alcohol bath in the glass. John Taffer would not be pleased.

Side note, that Truly almost arrived as a Truth beer, when the server didn’t hear her correctly and asked about Cassi wanting it on draft. Luckily we’re seasoned drinkers and questioned the ability to get hard sparkling water on draft at this point in its young alcoholic shelf life. Life skills, people. Don’t let anyone tell you street smarts aren’t important.

The server started off taking our app orders, and both Cassi and Jason, and Shane and myself ordered the app platters. Which, can I just add, I have a bone to pick with pretty much every other establishment out there for not giving this option more often. It’s like the ultimate slice of heaven for people who like every. single. item. on the app menu. Can’t decide between cheese sticks, onion rings and fried peppers? Now you can have a few of each! I mean, seriously, they all just get thrown into a deep fryer, it’s not like there’s some elaborate cooking skill being exuded here.

Although it does end up sounding like a boatload of food, as Cassi and Jason picked out the mac & cheese bites, soft pretzels and pizza rolls for their platter, while Shane and I chose the same offerings – just switching out the pretzels for a basket of fried peppers. Because clearly we don’t share food.

Ted: Um, I thought we were just ordering apps?
Shane: We are. Duh.

I mean, really, who are we if we aren’t ordering an entire tableful of food for four people? Come on.

Not that it mattered, because even though Ted avoided appetizers in favor of getting wings AND a meal, he was ready to order all the food anyway, so we just went back around the table after his order and put our meals in. I think the server was slightly perplexed.

Newsflash: it wouldn’t be the first time.

Our turn at the perplexed wheel came a few minutes later, when a different server stopped by and dropped off a basket of potato chips at our table. Uh, we didn’t order these? Are they complimentary? Did they have extra and they could tell we were hungry? Did our original server mistakenly tell that other server to take them to our table, and meanwhile someone else is missing out?

I bet you’re not surprised that we ate them without actually uttering any of those questions to the universe. OK maybe someone wondered aloud if they were really free. But we still ate them before asking answers of someone who could actually provide them.

And then the apps arrived, and we thought maybe someone was just watching us to see how gluttonous we could really be when surrounded by plates of food. Uh, have you met us? We eat anything and everything you put in front of us.

One half of the appetizer party at our table

The other half of the fried goodness

The pizza rolls were by far the crowd favorite out of all of the apps in our respective platters. To be honest, I think all of us were expecting a basket of knock off frozen Totino’s to appear in front of us – but these were actually little crispy roll-ups filled with pepperoni and melted cheese. So more taquito than Totino.

They should really put that on the menu. And I should really be in marketing. Oh, wait.

The second runner up was the fried pepper basket, which was seemingly never-ending in addition to being tasty. I made a comment that the ranch dip was kind of spicy, to which Cassi reminded me that I was dipping fried hot banana peppers into it, so that might be more of where the spice was coming from. Noted.

Ted got Cajun wings as his “appetizer”, and then the grilled shrimp dinner with fries and cole slaw for his dinner. Although they all arrived at the same time, so really that was just Ted’s specifications and not ones made public.

It’s like a gradual healthy to non-healthy progression

Ted said the wings were good. He thought they probably would’ve been too hot for most normal people, but to someone who only sweats when eating an actual habenero pepper then they were just fine. He also said the shrimp was grilled perfectly.

I got the Italian sub with onion rings, which was all good. The onion rings were still hot when they hit the table, and they had just the right amount of batter without being all breading. I took home half of the meal, because, well, as I’ve already mentioned, we had a crapload of food at our table already.

Oh look, lunch tomorrow

Shane got the Bleu Cheese Burger. Not to be confused with a blue cheeseburger. Grammar and enunciation is important, kids. One of those things sounds pretty tasty, while the other sounds like something you find in the back of the fridge a few months after you forgot you brought home leftovers.

Meat and fried vegetables. How can you go wrong?

There were no leftovers in this case – Shane liked his burger, as well as the onion rings – so we don’t have to worry about this burger morphing into the other in the depths of our home fridge.

Jason also went the burger route, choosing the Deck Burger with fries. He liked his as well. The photo definitely doesn’t do it justice.

There’s meat under that bun, I swear

Cassi got the portabella salad, which she was impressed with.

Served on the fanciest of disposable plates

What she was not impressed with was our service throughout the evening. This declaration may or may not have come right around the time we tried ordering another round of drinks and completely perplexed the server because we all pretty much said at once that we were ready for another (insert name of our respective drink here). Usually – because let’s be honest, we aren’t always the most polite bunch, so this happens frequently – the server just nods and says something like “so another round” or “so another one for everyone then?” But this time it was like we had just announced that the sky was turning orange and a giant monster was clamoring out of the lake toward us, because she looked equally as if she wanted to ask questions but also run screaming for her life.

Good times.

Despite that, I have to believe we’ll be back to the Upper Deck at some point. Overall our experience was positive: the patio really is pretty great, and while the food was nothing special we haven’t seen elsewhere (well, outside of the pizza rolls anyway – those alone are enough of a reason to come back. Can we just order the sampler platter with three orders of those?), the simple act of enjoying it on a tiered deck next to an outdoor bar and overlooking a lake definitely elevates the standings.

Picked by: Ted

OH – and stay tuned for next week, as Jason may get his very first WTGW pick. He’s not nearly as excited about this as everyone else.

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi’s vote for the food

Cassi’s vote for service

 

WTGW 7/25/18: Wil’s Grille & Pub, Barberton

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That feeling when someone else picks a place that has been on your list for a while but you just never got around to picking … and then it turns out to be really good.

Cassi’s choice this week was Wil’s Grill & Pub in Barberton. Not to be confused with Ted’s sushi & pub pick of a few months ago. As if. Wil’s Grill & Pub (I keep saying it because rhyming is fun, step off) a little unassuming building in that middle of the nowhere region that is partway between Barberton and Portage Lakes.

Shane, as we pull up: This has me written all over it.

Apparently tiny buildings with no windows and an uncertainly marked entryway are right up his alley. Noted.

Inside they definitely make the most of the tiny space. There were several tables, but only a few that would hold a group our size that weren’t already occupied. There appeared to be a family dinner taking place in the middle of the space, which required several tables to be pushed together. This is for sure the kind of place that I could see regulars holding their weekly family get togethers.

As we settle in at the table, Shane makes a beeline for the restroom … and returns shortly afterwards. As in, not in enough time for him to actually have used the facilities. To which we all assume means they were uninhabitable.

Nope, just that when he opened the main door he heard a tiny child’s voice announcing to the unknown visitor “I’m pooping.” That was enough for Shane to decide he could hold it for a bit longer, and to just exit quietly.

That frank openness kind of set the tone for the rest of our stay at Wil’s.

To say that the place is friendly is an understatement. From the time we sat down until …. well, the rest of the evening … we were welcomed or given a friendly “hey guys!” by pretty much every single one of the staff members. And some people who cross the line between actual staff and regulars who occasionally wander behind the bar. I’m kind of surprised the other patrons didn’t raise their hands in friendly salutes as well. It was like dining in Mayberry.

Once the server found out we were newbies, she pretty much ran through the entire menu to tell us what the best things were to order. Of course that impressed our resident interrogator, Shane, who usually takes pleasure in prodding those details out of the staff.

Of highest recommendation where the burgers, the chicken sandwich that was on special for the evening, and the weekly steak special. Which were pretty much all the items our group  had been looking at ordering already. Thanks for nothing, kind server who loves her job and her restaurant.

One choice that wasn’t too difficult was our drink order, due largely to the fact that they only have two beers on draft: Miller Lite, and Amber Bock. So basically light and dark. Bet you can’t guess who ordered which one?

Bonus points if you sensed the trick question and guessed that the girls skipped beer altogether to go with tequila and sodas.

Cassi and Jason ordered the potato skins for their app, after the server described them as “little potato cups of cheesey goodness.”

Ted, of course, was repulsed.

The server did not lie, the potato skins ended up arriving at the table looking exactly as the server described them. Read: amazing. The potatoes are cut in half instead of longways like most potato skins, and therefore do create these little cup-like devices that are perfect to fill with a copious amount of cheese. Cassi and Jason definitely enjoyed them. And will continue to enjoy them in the days following our visit, as there were far too many for even our whole table to share (well, minus the cheese-hater). They were truly enough to be a meal all on their own.

This must be what they serve in heaven

Shane and I ordered the breaded mushrooms.I guess this is our thing now, despite the fact that Shane usually has to let them cool to less than room temperature so as not to be the victim of the hot oil disaster that is biting in too soon.

Hot oil time bombs

They were just OK. Really nothing special from any other place we’ve ever ordered them from in our lifetime. To be fair, I’m not really sure what exactly would make a breaded mushroom stand out in that fashion, but it seems we’ll continue to try them until we figure that out.

Ted got the “Firey Fingers.” Which didn’t arrive on fire (boooo) but instead were basically just chicken fingers with a spicy breading and/or sauce. Thanks for the letdown. Plus when I asked Ted which substance was responsible for the nomenclature, he admitted he wasn’t really clear on that based on the description in the menu, and had to do a bit of A/B testing once the dish arrived in order to determine it.

This is probably the only dish where you could confuse chicken for jojo potatoes

It turns out it was the sauce. Which was basically a cocktail sauce with a slightly spicy hint to it. So “firey” might be a tad misleading in the adjective department, but points for trying.

I really think they should go with the whole lighting it on fire idea. I mean, that would make it stand out for sure.

For meals I was on the fence between my usual affinity for a mushroom swiss burger and the special chicken sandwich of the day consisting of chicken, Swiss, bacon and guacamole on ciabatta bread. So, again, I’d like to thank the server and her seal of “yep, both of those are outstanding, can’t go wrong either way” for assisting in my decision. Ted was actually my tipping point, when I mentioned being in a conundrum and he said to me that when he heard what was involved with the chicken sandwich it sounded to him like it was made just for me.

I’m not sure how I got such complimentary friends in my life.I mean, I hope all of you have people surrounding you who think of you when certain foods are mentioned. *tear*

Needless to say, I wasn’t unhappy with my decision. I mean, first of all … ciabatta bread. Need I say more? But I also don’t order chicken much anymore, thanks to the issue at the Hooley House years ago where the cook was apparently trying to make medium rare poultry a thing (spin the salmonella wheel and see if you’re a winner! yum!). But my risk was rewarded this time around.

Even if I only ate the bread, this would be a win

That’s a very geometrically correct salad

Ted got the strip steak special with jojo potatoes – and also the cole slaw, which the server recommended as “really good.” Upon eating it, Ted rephrased that to  “adequate.” Not exactly high praise, but I guess it’s better than “effing disgusting,” so there’s that. Maybe if he’d eaten the jojos first, since they were apparently hot enough to remove layers of skin/taste buds and he may not have been able to taste the cole slaw by that point?

Chivalrous potato wedges trying to save the meat from the oncoming knife

How can you screw up shredded vegetables?

Ted said his whole meal was “solidly good.” He wouldn’t necessarily put anything he ate in his Top 10, but he would rate it all as very good.

Hey, speaking of Top 10’s, anyone remember that time Shane ordered a steak special for under $10, and it was a way better value than the one offered *insert place we’re currently eating at here*? No? That’s weird, because he uses literally every other steak special in the universe to reminisce about that fateful day last summer when all his food dreams came true.

This is my plea to all the places we go on Wednesdays to stop advertising steak specials on that particular night of the week, unless you can beat the one offered at the Dougout.

Moving on.

Since OBVIOUSLY this steak special didn’t meet his expectations, Shane followed the server’s recommendation that the burgers were outstanding and ordered the Bourbon Burger. As did Jason. To prove they weren’t twinsies, Shane got onion rings, and Jason got fries. Cassi also went with a burger – the bacon Swiss – with sweet potato fries.

I have bread envy

Take two, change of side

Our table sure did their part to ensure the dairy industry stays in business

And just like everything else the server told us about, they were not disappointed. Shane said his burger was very good. He typically doesn’t like all the embellishments (read: healthy things like lettuce and tomato) but on this one he didn’t pick it off, and said it actually gave the burger more flavor. Both of the guys agreed that the sauce on the Bourbon burger was really good, too.

Since we ordered pretty much everything that the server had recommended to us, are you surprised when we ended up with dessert as well? Right. I also blame Ted, who was talking up how he would give up patio weather in favor of the season in which all things pumpkin return to NEOhio … which of course brought us to the deliciousness that is pumpkin love at 3 Brothers … which made us all hungry for sweets right about the time the server came over to ask if we’d saved room for dessert.

Cohoots, I tell you.

Cassi and Jason opted for the chocolate bundt cake, Ted got the brownie with ice cream, and Shane and I shared the caramel apple pie and ice cream. I have to believe that was literally one of everything on the dessert menu.

Tell me again why we don’t order dessert more often?

I mean, how can you go wrong?

A lovely little sundae, all for Ted

Ted, five minutes after finishing his dessert: I’m probably going to regret that, but damn was it good.

Spoiler alert: that entire statement was in fact truth.

But being over-full was pretty much the only regret we could muster from Wil’s. This place is definitely a favorite, with a menu almost as big as the place itself, and amazing service. Plus it’s super cheap – mine and Shane’s bill was under $60, which covered three drinks each, an app, two complete dinners and a dessert. Well, truth be told, we could’ve gotten out with a tab under $10 … thanks to a mistake by the server when she manually keyed in the amount to the credit card machine, thus resulting in our card only getting charged $5.69 instead of the correct price of $55.69. But of course we couldn’t take advantage of the situation, and told her about the mistake – for which she was super appreciative. Because, well, despite what you might think of our ratings toward some of our picks and my fluent use of the sarcastic tongue, we aren’t complete jerks. Please.

And we definitely want to come back here. Wil’s really one of those little gems you kind of wish you lived next door to, except for the rampant alcoholism and high cholesterol levels that visiting far too often would likely predispose us to. It’s great to go into a place that clearly has regulars, and be welcomed as a new group. And maybe it’s because Shane threw out the “we’re food bloggers” statement like a shield at the top of the visit, but throughout our visit we were never at a loss for people stopping by our table to say hello or check to see if we needed anything. The server even gave us a copy of the specials for the month, which was reminiscent of the lunch menus we used to bring home from grade school so we knew what days to pack our lunches, and what days we would be begging our moms to pay for a slice of cardboard covered in cheese that they tried to tell us was pizza.

If that last sentence means nothing to you then just put down the blog and walk away slowly, never mentioning how old you think we must be because of it. Seriously.

I bet Shane is glad we didn’t come on Shrimp Kabob day

Next pick: Ted

Ted

Jason

Shane

Steph

Cassi


Wil's Grille & Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/11/18: TD’s Tailgate Grill, North Canton – REVISIT

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Welcome to the summer months of WTGW, where we spend copious amounts of time screwing up the stats on our blog because we’re all scouring it trying to find the last good patio we went to so that we can pay it a revisit. Yay technology!

Shane claimed he had anther good pick lined up for this week (read: super scary dive bar that we probably would be intimidated to actually eat in), but a consultation to the weather channel over the weekend reminded us that we need to take advantage of these nice weekday evenings while they still exist. And so the quest to remember a good patio began.

Sidenote to our web designer: make the patio category easier to search. Oh wait, that’s me. Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

Anyway, that’s the long-winded explanation of how we ended up at TD’s Tailgate Grill for this week’s pick. It’s been three years since our last visit, at which we were forced to grab seats at the bar since all the tables were full upon our arrival, and Ted decided he wanted friends outside of our circle so he started a conversation with a regular who kept raving about the fish tacos.

Sounds spectacular. Tell me again why it’s taken us this long to return?

This time around we were able to snag a table for the five of us – but just in the nick of time, it seems, as the rest of them filled quickly behind us. With families. Explain this one to me, if you will: since when did sports bars become the happening place for families with packs of small children? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this phenomenon. Because nothing says “family atmosphere” like a place with 27 beers on tap and a whole page of fried food on the menu.

But I digress.

The beginning of our visit was like a story I’d like to call “Shane and the Three Beers.” The first one he tried to order – Shock Top Lemon Shandy – was one he knew he liked, but I turns out they were sold out. The second one he asked for – an IPA that Ted warned him he wasn’t going to like but Shane said he wanted to try anyway – was promptly declared a big old hell no after a sample was brought to the table and he took one sip (while Ted laughed). The third one – a Bud Light, because by this point he was just really thirsty and wanted a beer – was just right. Well, more like just “this will have to do,” but you get the idea.

Meanwhile Ted and Jason were enjoying their Christmas Ale (it’s Christmas in July season again!), Cassi had a mixed drink, and I had a delicious Berry Shandy that the server recommended when she delivered the bad news about the Lemon Shandy being gone.

We ordered four apps for five people. Because of course we did. Hey, what did I say in my last post about the food truck event? We’re training for next year already. Step off the judgement train, please and thank you.

Shane and I ordered the fried pickles. Why we continue to think we should order such things after we’ve had the deliciousness that is 3 Brothers is beyond me, but whatever. Especially when these ones arrive and they’re breaded spears, not actual chips. How the hell are you supposed to eat those? These were clearly created by the same person who invented the hot oil time bombs that are breaded mushrooms. But at least the dipping sauce was really tasty.

Excuse me, our pickles are trying to act like potato wedges

Ted got the coconut shrimp, the plate of which Shane wouldn’t even touch as it grazed over his portion of the table on it’s way to Ted. All fear the shrimp allergy. Unlike our decisively tasty pickle dipping sauce, the dip for the shrimp was somewhat unremarkable.

I’ll take Things That Would Kill My Husband for $1,000 please

Cassi and Jason ordered the chips and dip, along with an order of the hot tots. Note to restaurants: can we please start portioning things correctly when it comes to dips and the vehicles by which said dips must make it into our bellies? It makes no sense to have an entire bowl of dip if there are only about 8.5 chips available to dip into it. Seems to me you’d be better served to give away a whole platter of chips – because, I mean, those seem pretty simple to make (Get potato. Peel. Slice. Throw in deep fryer.) in comparison to the variety of measuring and mixing that presumably needs to go into a homemade dip.

But what do I know.

Is there a potato shortage we aren’t aware of?

Anyway.

Ted was quite fond of the fish tacos that his new friend highly recommended on our last visit, so I latched onto the dual recommendation and went with those this time, as did Cassi. Cassi got hers with a side of the homemade ranch sauce because, well, to quote her “I will order that anytime I see it on a menu.”

Ted will dream of this plate for another three years

Ted definitely had food envy when he heard our orders – because he also remembered fondly the goodness that was a good fish taco (why did I feel dirty just typing that?) – but he said he wanted to try something new, so he got the voodoo chicken with the drunken beans as a side.

Hey, remember that time Ted ordered something that sounded like the name of an opening band at some Mardi Gras festival? Well, he probably won’t long after this visit. Let’s just say he definitely wished he’d ordered the tacos.

Not that his meal was bad, by pre-I’ve-tasted-the-fish-tacos-and-am-judging-everything-else-by-those standards. But the fact that he still remembered how good those were (did I mention it’s been three years?) combined with them literally surrounding his food on the table once mine and Cassi’s meals arrived caused a bit of a letdown in comparison. He said his sandwich was just OK. The drunken beans – which were described as spicy and probably could be so to anyone else, well, on the planet – were no match for Ted’s taste buds that can’t detect spice unless it’s in the form of a raw habanero pepper.

The name is fancy, but it’s really just something your Aunt Marge would serve up at the annual family picnic

Shane got the triple stack grilled cheese and a pound of garlic Parmesan wings. I know it sounds like I’m judging his wing order sarcastically, but it literally was a pound of wings. Because some places prefer that as a measurement to just counting them out. I can’t for the life of me figure out which is actually better on the eating side of things.

If you’re going to base it on weight, it should be served on the scale

Again, I ask about the potato shortage, because that seems like a ridiculously small amount of fries

He tried to consult me on what his opinion had been of the mango habenero wings the last time around, but Ted spoke up instead – you know, just like he had with regards to Shane’s IPA choice. Uh, boys? Should I be worried about this bromance extending past the food level? If Ted starts reminding you that you’re almost out of soap or that it might be time to replace a few pairs of socks I may have to intervene.

Where’s the bun?

Jason ordered the crunchy fish sandwich, which he liked. Cassi and I also put our stamp of approval on the fish tacos. I was super full by the end of my meal and ended up having to get a box for one of my tacos – well, after offering it to Ted, who regretted having to turn it down because he was full as well.

There are a whole bunch of jokes in that last paragraph, but I’m trying really hard to use my adult voice and not point them out.

Anyway.

So probably the biggest downfall we can give TD’s this time around was that the service was a bit sketch. I mean, our server was super nice, and we definitely appreciate that. The issue was that she wasn’t around much … literally and figuratively. When we did see her we about pounced on her to try and order more drinks, which then backfired on us because she would get so flustered she would forget one or more of them. Case in point, when we ordered another round for the table, and then she returned with three drinks. There’s five of us. That’s like Math 101. I’m so glad we’re trusting you with our credit cards at the end of the evening.

And while the tables around us did fill up, we didn’t necessarily see her waiting on all of them as well as us, so I can’t buy the “give her a break, I’m sure she was super busy” reasoning that I’m sure half of you are saying to your screens right now. Also, one walk to the restroom was all it took to realize that we weren’t the only ones with the “it’s super nice out, let’s find a patio” thought bubbles over our heads this evening. The inside of the place may as well have turned out the lights and hung up the closed sign. Definitely a change from three years ago.

Hey, remember when we all said we were full after our dinners? Just kidding! It seems this group will find room for dessert these days, especially when it comes in the form of fried cookie dough balls. Yes, you read that right. Cookie dough, rolled into little balls, and deep fried. Listen, I don’t care if you have to unbutton your jeans in public just to breathe, if you explain that it’s due to this little slice of heaven in a basket then all is forgiven. We got an order (and by we of course I mean me, Shane and Ted, because, well, refer back a few paragraphs to our newfound coupledom), as did Cassi and Jason. And for a brief moment, everyone forgot that they couldn’t possibly eat another bite of their real meals like five minutes previously.

I think we each needed our own basket. For dinner.

Move over fish tacos, these are the best thing on the menu. Hands down.

Four of us, as we walk out to the car: Man, I’m really stuffed now. Like the cookie dough was good, but it really put me over the top.
Shane: Oooh, look, a Dairy Queen.

Seriously?

Next pick: Cassi

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph

WTGW 4/25/18: Niko’s, North Royalton

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Alternate title: that time we took a 45 minute road trip to basically sit in a place the size of my living room with wall decor reminiscent of an Applebee’s on steroids, where we waited another 45 minutes before consuming gyros the size of our heads.

So for those of you too busy to read the rest of this post, you pretty much get the gist of what happened this week. You’re welcome. Carry on.

North Royalton is a new branch on our city tree, although its really no further away than some places we’ve visited in the past. So of course Shane immediately declared everything in the immediate vicinity “his” for picking.

(Hint: it wasn’t much. Unless we want to go tanning or order some take out Chinese food, neither of which fit the WTGW protocol)

Shane was reluctant to give any of us the name of the place in advance, lest we tease him about going all ethnic like we did with Ted a few weeks ago.

Me, after finally learning the name and looking it up online: so a few weeks ago we gave Ted crap for picking “sushi and bar,’ but this week we’re supposed to be OK with “Greek and bar”?

Sounds reasonable.

Niko’s would be a great place to hang out if it was like four times the size with about half the regulars taking up all of the tables. Granted there was a Cavs game on tonight, so that meant people hung around drinking a little longer than they (maybe?) usually would … and the large patio (from which you could see the TV screens) was underused thanks to the 50-ish degree air temp outside … but still. Even our vulcan stare-down moves on those with to-go boxes sitting in front of them weren’t causing people to budge from their seats. Tough crowd.

But the host told us when we put our party of five on the wait list that it “shouldn’t be long.” Uh, in dog years, maybe. Five minutes turned into 10 … we ordered drinks from the bar to pacify ourselves … 10 minutes turned to 20 … Shane took to loudly claiming he was about to eat his arm off while staring creepily at those who were finished with their meals … 20 minutes turned to 30 … I resorted to Google Maps to research any place at all that might serve something that resembled food within a five-mile radius …

Well at least they made it easy to spot while we waited

And they had this

It was during this waiting period that I realized we could probably implement some sort of a friendly challenge between this place and Gasoline Alley just to see which one is a) overall smaller, b) has more random crap per square inch of wall space, and c) has the least available and most awkward waiting area for those unlucky enough to have a table.

Anyone?

At about 40 minutes we resigned ourselves to leaving and heading to the nearby Brew Garden just to salvage some portion of the evening before we passed out from low blood sugar. But just as we were assembling ourselves to head out, we were called to sit.

Hallalujah!

And from there the evening got a lot better. Let’s just say that if future me could go back and give a bit of advice to impatiently waiting me, it would be that it was totally worth it and you would’ve been sorry that you left.

Also, how do I get a future me? Because having that kind of angel on my shoulder sounds a tad awesome.

Anyway.

This place definitely deserved to be Shane’s pick once we heard from the server that the portions were huge. FYI, that tip came after Shane unabashedly asked her what he should order to get the most bang for his buck when he’s super hungry and wants a lot of food.

We ask the tough questions here at WTGW. Again, you’re welcome.

The server also greeted our admission of being newbies to Niko’s with “Oooh! New People!” Which had us slightly nervous about what kind of initiation process we might be facing as the evening wore on.

She did, however, tell the guys about the pineapple IPAs that were on special for $3.00 that evening – a little secret the bartender apparently didn’t share when the guys went to the bar during our waiting period and ordered drinks. Cassi and I stuck with our ciders.

For apps both Jason and Cassi and Shane and I got the fried cheese. Which is basically like saying a giant “screw you, get your own appetizer” to Ted. Oops.

But he had his sights set on the Thai chili wings as his app, so I don’t think he was super disappointed. His excitement only grew when, after they arrived, he discovered that they were served with carrots … but not like carrot sticks – like giant silver dollars.

The carrots are nearly as big as the wings

Go carrot fork yourself? That doesn’t make sense

This is something new. And apparently exciting, as you can tell from his face in that photo.

The fried cheese arrived looking somewhat like a slice of pizza. Which we were warned was about as hot as the surface of the sun on the inside, so leave it the hell alone for a few minutes before trying to dig in. Well, OK, so maybe those exact words weren’t used, but we inferred based on past experience with really warm edible things.

Cheese and bread. See also: the only food groups necessary for survival.

And the wait was worth it. It was delicious. Not to mention the extra fun of causing Ted personal trauma as he had to watch us pull the melted cheese through the air to break it.

What are friends for, right?

We also learned that there’s a thin line between waiting for the cheese to cool and letting it sit long enough that it resembles a pale yellow brick on the plate in front of you.

Shane, in reference to the cheese sitting for too long: It’s starting to get hard.
Me: Then eat it.

So many comments followed that little interlude that I don’t feel are appropriate for printing. Use your imagination, kids.

Anyway.

Perhaps in fear of our initiation process that may or may not have been on tap with the server, we gave her a little one of our own in the period between when we ordered and when the food arrived. Thanks to a strange arrangement that left the couples sitting diagonal to one another (don’t ask, it was like a game of duck, duck, goose when we finally made it to at the table and we all rushed for seats – I blame the hunger), once the appetizers arrived we thought it might be a little strange for us to have to reach over one another to share fried cheese, so Jason and Shane switched places to be sitting across from Cassi and me, respectively. Our server did a quick double take, then adjusted the orders accordingly so they still ended up in front of the appropriate person.

She passed. Not that I know what would’ve happened if she hadn’t, but let’s just be thankful we didn’t have to resort to that.

Of course we all ordered gyros, because, well, let’s be honest, the large table of obviously Greek men who regularly frequent Niko’s seated next to us were slightly intimidating and we didn’t want to insult them … and also, the variety on the menu was intriguing. But maybe slightly more the first reason. At least in my case.

Ted got the salmon gyro, which he said was good. And after eating all of that plus the nine wings that came in his appetizer, he admitted he was “kind of full.” So there’s that.

It’s like a fish taco, but better. And Greeker.

Cassi and Jason each got the chicken club gyro. They both agreed that it could’ve used more chicken and less of the other filler toppings, but overall still pretty good. They would probably try something else if we were to return, though.

Chicken bacon, minus too much chicken

Times two

I got the stuffed cheeseburger gyro. Stuffed is a good word to use, not only because the filling was an entire burger patty with cheese stuffed inside of it, but also because that’s definitely how I felt after eating it. Seriously, so much food.

Oh look, more cheese

Undeterred by all the fancy options, Shane got the traditional gyro. It kind of fell apart on him as he was eating it, so it became just another in a long list of foods he has been known to eat with a knife and fork. He commented that there were way too many onions on the sandwich, and that he probably won’t be able to stop tasting them for days.

I’m a lucky girl, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks, Niko’s.

You can’t see the onions, but trust us, we all know they’re there

Remember earlier how I compared this place to Gasoline Alley? I give you the following conversation as more proof:

Jason: Where are the restrooms?
Ted (who had already scoped this situation out during our wait time): In the kitchen.

Sadly, he wasn’t joking. You have to go through a portion of the kitchen to access the men’s restroom. Always appetizing, no? And it’s just a one stall room, so that makes waiting a tad awkward. Like, hey, you need some help assembling those sandwiches while I stand here looking creepily over your shoulder? No? Weird. The women’s restrooms are at least on the other side of the room, but still across from the sand alone freezer. Here, let me toss you some frozen fries while I bide my time waiting. Just trying to be helpful.

Aside from that strangeness, Niko’s is a decent place. We never endured an initiation (that we know of … if something was slipped into that fried cheese before it arrived at our table I’m at least still alive to speak about it), but our server was always good at checking on us, and we never went long with empty glasses. Well, until Jason ordered a water, anyway, but I guess that was a bit out of character for our table by that point. Once we decided it was time to cash out and give up our table the server seemed to turn invisible (seriously, do they teach that in server training or something?) but aside from that I give any server willing to put up with us with a good sense of humor a bit of extra credit. 

The crowd is an interesting mix of older regulars – like the table of men next to us, who clearly frequent the place – and younger couples/groups – like the table on the other side of us, who I think were taking up space just to drink a beer and visit with one of their friends who was working as a server. See also: people we stared at prior to being seated, and who endured similar stares from the undying crowd in the waiting area still waiting for tables well past 9PM. I would definitely recommend arriving before you’re actually hungry, since waiting seems to be a regular occurrence.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Niko's Bar & Gyros Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 3/21/18: South End Tavern, Northfield

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Remember that time we passed by a super sketch place called Johnny T’s and I vowed never to let Shane pick it for Fun Wednesday?

Well Shane certainly does.

That same place is now called South End Tavern, and I’m guessing have new owners? Or maybe they just thought a name change was in order? They certainly didn’t think cleaning up the junkyard of old cars out in back of the place was a task worth undertaking. The same old ghetto limo was still parked under a pile of snow at the far back of the parking lot, and they still have the same strange fenced in area in the middle of the lot that we think might be a sand volleyball court? Or just a really high caged in patio – which seems odd, but whatever.

We have nothing to compare the inside to, since – as Shane reminded us on the way in – I’d vowed we would never set foot in the place. But if they did get new owners, I can’t imagine they opened their pocketbooks to do much to the inside. Or I was justified in never wanting to walk into the place if how it is now could be considered “spruced up.”

Anyway.

Wednesdays are apparently trivia nights – we speculated that this may be a newfound marketing scheme along with the name change to bring in more of a crowd. And it worked, because the place was busy … until about 8:30pm. Which, considering the crowd, could potentially be when some of them went to bed. Or maybe the place started to clear out because the first round of trivia took upwards of 90 minutes. Granted we don’t usually partake in trivia, so we don’t know what normal time usually is, but that seemed excessively long, no? We joked that we had no idea how many rounds there were, but there was a good possibility we could pull an all-nighter staying for all of them.

Sidenote: we also overheard someone announce “there’s our competition” when our group walked in clearly looking like we’d never seen the inside of the place before and scouting out a table. Being that we had no clue at that point that it was trivia night, that was definitely taken out of context.

But then Cassi read the words “Trivia Night” on the super fancy mirror of specials along the back wall, and we were set straight. I feel sorry for whoever they borrowed lipstick from to write all of that. Also, 1984 called and would like it’s communication devices back.

We ended up sitting at the bar – because even though the place is fairly spacious inside it only has like three actual tables. Because that’s helpful. I think we all came up with some interior design rendition in our heads that could’ve both eleviated that problem and helped with business, but what do we know.

It’s also worth noting that sitting at the bar – in close proximity to the one bartender who is responsible for the entire place – doesn’t necessarily ensure faster service. So there’s that.

Beers for the guys (they actually have a decent draft list, lots of local crafts) and tequila and soda for me and Cassi. And when I say that, I mean that I think Cassi and I shared an entire bottle of well tequila between our two short glasses. A whole forest of lime trees couldn’t save that disaster.

So needless to say we only had one round of those, and switched to beer.

Obviously we had to get in the jokes about how – given the size and look of the place – we were a bit apprehensive about the menu options. Shane actually hoped they would only be serving wings and burgers, since he’s still trying to redeem himself from that place in Ellet. Cassi admitted she was crossing her fingers that we didn’t manage to sink below that pick to a place that only serves bar snacks and jerky sticks.

But then the bartender hands us these:

Wait, where are we?

I mean, come on

Two sided! Look at all the options!

We also took those pictures of the menus because you’ll be hard pressed to find any mention of the menu online anywhere. So, you’re welcome.

Cassi and Jason got loaded tots for an app, while Shane and I got loaded nachos. For once no one lost in this app war. Cassi really liked the loaded tots – exclaiming after one bite that they were very good. She called them “crispy and delicious.”

How can you go wrong with tiny fried potatoes and cheese?

So no soggy bottoms tonight. Check.

The nachos may not have gotten that rave of a review, but they were still good. The salsa had good flavor, and the toppings were abundant – although I’ll admit it didn’t really look like it when we first got the dish, but then once we dug in it seemed to be bottomless.

Sour cream, anyone?

Ted ordered his usual two whole meals, so who really needs apps? I’ll give the bartender credit, though, as she tried to make sure Ted’s wings came out with our apps, so that we all had food in front of us at the same time. The only problem is that she got Ted’s and Shane’s wing flavors mixed up, so when the Smokehouse wings showed up and Shane claimed those, it meant that Shane had an app and his entire meal, while Ted still had nothing.

Of course we were all more concerned about the fact that Shane ONLY ordered wings – no burger, so pizza, nothing else. What’s wrong with him? Is he trying to starve himself?

He said the wings were just OK. We all commented that they looked like tiny pieces of fried chicken. Which seems like it would be good – but Shane said that they didn’t have much flavor.

It’s like KFC Jr.

Ted got the Carribean jerk wings – which, after the bartender realized her mistake, she worked really hard to get out quickly. Kudos for that. Ted also agreed that the flavor was lacking a bit.

Times two

He also got the BBQ bacon burger. As did Jason. Hmmm, maybe Shane has some competition in the bromance department?

Ted thought the sauce on the burger was sweet – like unexpectedly sweet – and that the bacon was very tough. I mean, not wings from a pizza pub tough, but still. Meanwhile Jason thought the sweet sauce was exactly what made the burger good.

So maybe they’re not food soulmates after all. We tried to make them fight it out but they didn’t go for that idea.

The burger that breaks up friendships

I got the southwest burger with tots. Cassi was right – the tots were delicious. And the burger was very good. Good flavor, toppings not overwhelming but enough to give it something more than just the taste of meat and bread.

Crispy tots for the win

Cassi got the steak philly with sweet ptato fries. She said it was excellent. She would come back just to get that sandwich again, it was that good.

I’ll take things we didn’t expect to come out of the kitchen here for $1,000 please

Overall the crowd was odd, the mixed drinks weren’t good, and the bartender was nice but more than a little flaky … but the food was surprisingly very good and they had a decent draft list so I guess if that’s what you’re in the mood for, you’re golden. They also have a large projection TV facing into the odd little room across from the bar so at least while sitting where we were at the bar we were entertained – but note that two of the space’s three existing tables are also right there in the path of the projection (and they’re high tops to boot), so if you decide to sit there you may end up either being part of the show or wondering why everyone keeps staring at you as you try to eat your sandwich. And there may be a patio out back – I mean, aside from the large high-fenced in area – so we might have to return when Mother Nature finally decides to grace spring upon northeast Ohio and check that out.

We forgot to take our photos before we left, so you’ll have to survive without seeing our smiling faces this week. Instead I’ll just leave this here, and you can use your imagination.Picked by: Cassi