WTGW 3/26/19: Hillside Tavern, Mogodore

Standard

THE WHERE (we went)

Hey we’re back on the east side again! At another place that’s literally a house in the middle of some farmlands. Cool.

Word of warning: beware of typing the address into Google Maps, as it will first drop you off on Waterloo Road and tell you to make a u-turn straight into the parking lot of a shopping center equipped with not much more than a Giant Eagle and a Johnny J’s … neither of which seemed to be places we wished to dine at this evening.

It only took the work of five educated adults on iPhones to realize that you instead have to keep driving east out to nearly Rt 44. We’re still not really sure how we outsmarted Siri, GoogleMaps and Waze to come to this conclusion, but I feel as though it should be deserving of some kind of a medal.

Our reward instead was The Hillside Tavern, which is quite literally a house, only instead of a front yard it’s a parking lot you just kind of turn into and find a spot.

We’ve been to worse places, trust me.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

I think Jason and Shane would actually say that the real reward lay inside the Hillside Tavern, in the form of the largest beer we think we’ve ever been allowed to order on a WTGW outing.

That’s 34oz of Bud Lite for the drinking. When the server asked what size he wanted, Jason jokingly asked if there was anything larger than 16 oz. And I think we all thought she was joking right back when she replied that there was.

Much like Shane’s answer to the great “that must be sweet” question of 2014 … nope.

Ted’s IPA that only came in 16oz looks like a baby in comparison.

And to think the one on the left is a “tall” in some establishments

In the world of “everything here is supersized,” Cassi and I each got actual soda glasses of tequila and soda. Barware be damned!

It took Ted about 3.7 seconds to glance at the menu and announce that he’s getting the mini corn dogs. OK then.

Less decisively, Shane and I got nachos, while Cassi and Jason got loaded fries. They also followed Ted’s lead on the mini corn dogs. I mean, he was quickly sold so that must mean something, right?

Apparently that half a keg of Bud Lite went to Jason’s head rather quickly, because when Ted’s order arrives at the table, Jason grabs one, saying they look really good and he just has to try one. Like totally forgot his order would be about about two minutes later.

We’ve never claimed to be patient, folks.

We also never officially claimed to prefer warm cheese on our nachos, but I’d like to make that statement right now. Because we learned firsthand that cold nacho cheese is not preferrable in any sense. Our app was pretty much like a big basket of tortilla chips with some cold cheese and a little bit of sour cream. Oh, and “bacon” that seemed more like chip chopped ham than the crispy bacon pieces I believe we were both envisioning. Like, you do know you need to cook that first before serving it, right?

It seemed like something drunk Steph might’ve concocted in her college apartment at about 3AM after stupidly passing on a trip to Taco Bell on the way home from the bar.

We chose poorly.

Oh, and the loaded fries? Yeah, samsies, just replace the chips with fries.

Oh the variety. I can hardly stand it.

So they’re big on originality here. Noted.

Next time, mini corn dogs for everyone. They were the clear winner of the appetizer party this evening.

Who would’ve guessed little breaded hot dogs would make us so happy?

Moving on.

Cassi was the odd man out this evening, ordering a steak Philly.

There’s meat under all that cheese. I hope.

The rest of us went with wings.

I got 12 of the garlic parm. They were, um, interesting.

Let’ just say that I’ve never seen a garlic parm sauce to be quite so creamy. Or white.

*insert obvious off-color joke here*

But really, WTF? Part of me wants to ask how this was created, while part of me, well, just tried not to think about it and actually eat my meal.

I also got chips. They were like someone poured them out of a bag but them added seasoning to them so it was like they “made” them in house. Eh, OK.

But if you put seasoning on them, it makes them “fancy”

I mean, at least they could’ve given me a tub of store bought French Onion dip to go along with them.

Shane got 12 of the “dry rub” which, when asked, was explained that it’s kind of a spicy Cajun. Which begs the question, why not just put that on the menu then?

Details.

Ted got hot garlic.

Jason got honey mustard, but only six.

The guys also decided that they needed coney dogs to go along with their wings. Because if it’s not wings and burgers with this group, it may as well be wings and hot dogs covered in chili, right?

I mean clearly it’s been established already that it’s a night for variety.

Shane and Jason each got two, and Ted – full on mini corn dogs, apparently – just decided on one.

So when the wings arrive and they’re quite literally on the jumbo side, Ted announces that he’s really glad he didn’t opt for two coney dogs. And Jason was glad he only got six wings, instead of 12.

Shane: Me too. Oh … wait.

Let’s just say that the size of the wings may have been their best quality. The taste was just OK. Shane and I – who had already decided to split our wing orders because we were both indecisive on the same flavors – kind of ended up with a Goldilocks situation, as my wings didn’t seem to have enough flavor, while Shane’s had too much seasoning.

We finally determined that if we just took them home and mixed them together we’d probably get the best result. I think I ate five wings total between the two flavors, and Shane maybe had about the same amount, as did Ted. If not less – because, well, coney dogs.

And did we mention the size of the wings?

THE WHO (we saw)

Our server wasn’t exactly winning our hearts and friendships this evening with her briskness and – well – non-masked annoyance to our questions. She seemed irritated that we didn’t know our order five minutes after we sat down in a place we’ve never been to before. Sorry, our bad. Forgive us for being new and not harnessing our telepathic abilities to pre-read the menu that you don’t have available on a website anywhere. I mean, it’s only 2019. No need to put yourself out there on a platform that most people use to advertise their businesses these days. Cool.

It didn’t help that the food was delivered in batches as it was cooked – so she was probably none too thrilled to have to continue returning to our table when the little “food’s up” bell rang every two minutes for a good stretch of time. Again, sorry. We like food.

But her demeanor was contradicted by a group of guys standing outside who greeted us with a hello and welcome, as well as a guy behind the bar (an owner, perhaps? he seemed to know everyone there) who gave us the same greeting as we were choosing our table, and also yelled a goodbye and thanks for coming in when we left. So that’s a bit of a confusing vibe for a newbie.

I mean, lets all understand – Hillside Tavern is definitely a locals kind of place. The crowd dress code was almost exclusively hoodies and work boots, and I can imagine it being the type of place that boasts a parking lot full of snowmobiles rather than shutting the doors when we get hit with a foot of northeast Ohio snow. But part of that is due to location. I mean, it’s almost like your neighbor throwing a big party. And charging you for food and drinks.

Which brings me to …

THE HOW (much we paid)

Seems a little pricey for essentially wings and beer, no? Well, and the coney dogs, and the college frat party nacho app. But still.

I think we can all agree that the best deal of the night was the giant 34oz beers for only … wait, what’s that? $5 each?!? OK, that’s a steal.

I mean, knowing now the size of the wings and the deliciousness of the mini corn dogs, I bet we could come back and just get those two things, plus about six giant beers, and walk out spending less than we did this evening.

THE WHY (they may not see us again)

So the food was OK, the atmosphere the same (minus the crabby waitress) – but to go that far again for food that we had to take home to doctor up may not be in our cards. Plus GoogleMaps may be on to us now and never let us find the place again.

But, I mean, those $5 giant beers.

The best solution may be to make this a stop for a last call drink whenever we end up out this way for another pick. It’s like a reward for our travels.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

When your table is near the men’s room and we start doing photos while you’re inside. Sorry.

Steph

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Advertisements

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

Standard

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 2/20/19: BG’s Main Event, Rittman

Standard

THE WHERE (we went)

Rittman. Raise your hand if you know where that is.

Yeah, I don’t think any of us really did either. And come to think of it, maybe still don’t?

Although we did discover a giant Morton’s Salt processing facility on our route into town, which given this week was Cassi’s pick we considered for half a second we might just be dining there.

But alas we ended up at BG’s Main Event, which is your typical “just on the right side of divey” bar and grill in a typical small town atmosphere. It’s also aptly named, as, well, there’s not much else on what I assume was the main road we arrived on.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

You know what sounded super appetizing? The meatball splash.

… said no one in the history of the world, ever.

Are you kidding me? What marketing genius came up with this extremely unappealing name for something you’re supposed to want to put in your mouth? It sounds like the name of a person or maneuver you try your damndest to avoid at the community pool in the summer.

Also on the non-order list for this evening: the steak. Not because of some hideous attempt at a cute name like “seared cow flank” or “farm animal surprise” or anything like that, but because they were trying to sell us a 10oz steak for $12.99. I mean, really. Have you not seen what Shane considers to be a deal when it comes to meat products?

I think he outright scoffed at the menu when he saw this supposedly economically feasible option.

But they got us on Wednesdays being wing nights, and the price of 50 cents per wing was right up our alley. Spoiler alert: I was the only one of the group to not be sucked into that deal.

Shane also pointed out the other, far less tempting Wednesday special, which is the Hangover Burger … at a whopping 40 cents off of its original price. That’s right, folks. Quite a bargain. Start your savings funds tonight by dining here.

We prefaced our order by telling the server that we liked food, and that we would probably order a lot of it. She retorted that we were in the right place for that.

And so an agreement was forged.

I got the Rhinoburger sub, which everyone said sounded delicious (from the description, of course, not the actual name. I’m sensing a theme with this place). It’s kind of like a Mr. Hero Romanburger – a burger, plus lunch meats like ham, salami and pepperoni, plus lettuce and tomato, on a sub bun.

FYI, that’s not chip dip. I mean, not that I tried it or anything

Ted was personally offended that I chose this, because he had kind of wanted to order that same thing … but then he also felt like he had to get something different just for the sake of variety.

He ended up with the brisket, after the server said that the restaurant is known for BBQ.

He was much happier with that than I was with the Rhino sub, let’s just say that much. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my sub was OK … but it was nothing overly exciting. I haven’t had a Romanburger from Mr. Hero in some time, but if memory serves me correctly, I venture to say I would prefer that over what I ate here this evening.

So next week we’ll be at Mr. Hero then?

I kid.

Ted also got the hot garlic wings. Because, well, they were on special.

Yeah, those just look hot

Shane got the All American burger, which is basically a bacon cheeseburger with fried pickles on it. Um, OK. So where’s the fancy name for this one? Green Machine Burger? Fried Former Cucumber Burger? Instead they go with All-American? Interesting.

Also, that one pickle looks a lot like a French fry

And wings, although I neglected to take note of the flavor, so you’ll have to use your imagination there. Or, I mean, this is Shane, you can probably go back about four posts here and figure out his type.

It’s a dry rub, we can say that much

Cassi got 12 boneless wings – six of the Teriaki, and six of the hot garlic.

One set, looks just like Ted’s

Plus a side salad

You know how much we love our veggies

Jason got the bacon cheeseburger, which when given the choice of a half or third pound, he responded he would “just” take the half pound  … like he was conceding to the lesser of the two options there. I believe we all hinged onto the end of his order like a broken screen door in a windstorm trying to figure out where that was headed with that statement. Or why he seemed to think that a half was less than a third.

He then proceeded to ask the server what came on the burger. And was told, shockingly, that it’s condiments included bacon … and cheese. On a bacon cheeseburger.

Appalling, I know.

Jason also got six of the honey mustard wings, because, well, he knew he couldn’t not when the rest of the guys had also ordered them.

Honey mustard in the front, plus Cassi’s teriyaki in the back

Oh, and Cassi and Jason split an order of onion rings.

And Shane and I got breaded mushrooms.

Is that all? I mean, is that enough? It hardly covered the table. That seems disappointing.

THE WHO (we saw)

Lots of people with plastic pointy things that they kept trying to throw at the wall.

Also known as dart league. Which explains why we didn’t sit at the bigger table that would’ve required us to walk directly  through the path of the throwers.

And judging from this, they take it pretty serious.

Who knew so many colorful accessories could go into a game of darts? 

Our server was decent at first – very personable and attentive, coming over to the table shortly after we sat down to get our drink orders and introduce us to the menus. But when we didn’t know our orders approximately 5.2 minutes after being handed the menu it seemed like she took that opportunity to run out back for a lengthy smoke break. Or maybe a run down the street to the corner store. Who knows. I mean, the good news is that she did come back eventually, and that our drinks never went empty for entirely too long throughout the night. So we won’t judge too harshly.

The place also got fairly busy later in the evening. I mean, it’s also super small in there, so adding about 10 people to our group of five and the league of darters was about all if took to fill the place up – but the point is that you can tell it’s for sure a town favorite.

THE HOW (much we spent)

$48 – for an app, a giant sub with side, a burger with side, wings, and several drinks. Not too shabby.

Bonus: the White Claws were only $3.25 each. Considering we paid $5 each last week, I would call this a win.

In the not-a-win column, it appears we got the basket of onion rings on our bill, and Cassi and Jason got our breaded mushrooms.

Eh, close enough. We’re all friends here.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

So I think Cassi summed it up best when she stated that her food wasn’t the greatest, but that she would like to drink at this place.

Everyone pretty much gave the wings a big thumbs down, saying they weren’t the best they had ever had. The sauces were OK, but there was too much breading and that made the flavor “off.”

And the rest of the food was just OK.

But the vibe was great and the drinks were cold, so once again if we could transport a place to about 30 miles closer to where we live then I think they would have regular customers in us.

Or, you know, if we every need to make a run out to get some fresh salt straight from the factory, we’ll plan to stop back in.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

Cassi – thumbs down for wings, thumbs up for atmosphere

Ted also with the dual thumb rating

Jason

Shane

Steph

WTGW 1/9/19: 44Sharp, Randolph

Standard

THE WHERE (we went)

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

Yeah, we thought so, too.

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

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

Time will tell.

Anyway.

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

Hella sponsorship of that stage area there Budweiser

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

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

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

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

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

Cassi and Jason got breaded mushrooms as their app.

Little hot oil bombs

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

It’s like the Sahara desert up in here

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Well if that doesn’t look appetizing

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

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

I just like saying spicy apparently.

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

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

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

Anyway.

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

Ever.

That’s strong language.

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

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

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

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

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

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

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

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

Did I make that clear enough?

Picked by: Steph

Steph

Shane

Ted

Cassi

Jason

WTGW 12/26/18: The Crazy Chicken, Green

Standard

So Shane and I literally drive past this place at least once a month, but somehow we missed the moment when it magically changed names from Tommy Li’s to The Crazy Chicken.

I mean, they sound so similar I can see how we missed this.

Anyway.

Seems the new name hasn’t exactly brought in the crowds, though, because despite a combination of being there in time for Happy Hour and also on wing night, we were only one of about a handful of tables in the entire place. I mean, I get that it’s a Wednesday night and it’s also the day after Christmas, so maybe people are still home gorging themselves on leftover ham and not particularly craving chicken?

We’ll go with that.

Given that there weren’t many of us there, it seems logical that they would sit the group of five of us in a booth. Because that’s always super comfortable given the amount of food we order. Guess in this case our reputation definitely did not precede us.

We didn’t complain, though, because as I mentioned we actually made it there in time for Happy Hour – so therefore getting settled in time to order a few rounds of drinks and cheap apps took precedence over everything else. I mean, when you can get a draft domestic beer, a order of egg rolls and an order of crab Rangoon for a grand total of $7.50, you jump on that.

Clearly we have our priorities in proper order.

Also, you may be asking yourself – wait, what’s this with egg rolls and crab Rangoon, at a place called The Crazy Chicken? Yeah, we kind of were, too. The menu reads similar to our amazing sushi and pub pick from almost a year ago with an interesting mix of Asian and American cuisine.

We’re all a bit shocked Ted didn’t discover this place before Shane.

In any case, we ended up with two orders of crab Rangoon – one for me and Shane, and one for Cassi and Jason.

Winner winner chicken dinner. Or something like that.

Wait, make that three orders – Cassi took one bite of theirs and decided they needed another order before the special pricing ran out. Because nothing says “I’m not sharing” like immediately ordering another plate.

Shane and I also got an order of chips and salsa. Because why not throw some Mexican food into the mix, too, right?

Of course we order the most non-Asian thing on the menu

Ted got the edamame. I’m not sure I realized that until it arrived and I asked what the hell was so garlicky that I was smelling. Shane – who was seated right next to it – immediately outed Ted’s food as the reason we would be vampire-free for the evening.

Several cloves of garlic were harmed in the making of these

As mentioned, Wednesdays are wing night, which meant regular wings were 77 cents each. On any other night you can get 5 for $4.99, which works out to about 99 cents each. Or 5 boneless for $3.99. Wait, what? How does that work out? Usually those are more expensive.

Maybe that’s why this place is so “crazy.”

The guys sort of ordered wings as appetizers, since they also got full sandwich meals along with their wing orders. Or at least that was the explanation we gave ourselves when the wings were the first things to show up at the table after the real apps.

Cajun dry rub for Ted

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen garlic parm as a cream sauce before, but OK.

Honey mustard for Jason

Never mind that Cassi and I had ordered side salads. I mean, those must be really complex to put together compared to running a deep fryer? Seems that way, as a full 10 minutes after the wings arrived we finally were served our plates of lettuce and assorted other plain vegetables.

Well this looks like something I could make at home

Cassi declared them the “saddest looking salads ever,” due mostly to the fact that they were missing the cheese. She definitely remembered reading on the menu that there would be cheese.

Jason: I think Ted ordered no cheese for the entire table, sorry.

Dammit, Ted.

At least the wings made up for it. I got 5 of the Cajun dry rub and 5 of the whisky glaze. Cassi had 10 of the boneless Asian. The consensus of the entire table was that the wings were very good. They were decent sized, and the various flavors were all what we were hoping for. Personally I thought that the Cajun dry rub had a bit more spice than I was expecting – not in a bad way, but typically those aren’t overly spicy. Meanwhile Ted, who ordered the same kind, thought otherwise. Clearly our taste buds are not soulmates.

Dry rub and not dry rub

And the chicken minus bones

It wasn’t long after mine and Cassi’s wings came out that they brought the burgers and sandwiches that rounded out our meals.

This included a Black and Blue burger for Shane, which is a burger topped with bleu cheese and bacon.

There seems to be a lot going on there

Jason got the Crazy burger. What makes it crazy, you ask? Well I’m not really sure, because the description just says it includes a fried egg and bacon. See also: the same burger that one or another of us has ordered at other restaurants under the name breakfast burger, sunrise burger, burger with fried egg. But, sure, crazy works, too.

Watch out, it’s getting crazy up in here

And Ted got the Western chicken sandwich, which was chicken topped with onion straws, bbq sauce, yum yum sauce – oh, and bacon, because apparently everything under a bun here includes that as a staple condiment. OK.

This looks easy to eat, no?

When he placed his order, Shane made sure to ask how the burgers were cooked. The server said they always cook the burgers medium well, but could specifically do something different if asked. Seems reasonable. And of course Shane said he’d like his medium rare.

Yeah, it still came out with zero pink in it, so clearly we need a refresher course in the various stages or meat cooking. But good thing he said something or else it probably would’ve been charbroiled.

Even so, it was still deemed good. The only regret Shane had in ordering it was that it was the only item on our bill over $10. If it had tasted bad he really would’ve been sorry about that, but being that it was good he didn’t think about it too much.

For as much as we complained that our server didn’t seem to be moving too fast when we sat down – which of course we thought would be hampering our ability to order as much as we wanted at the happy hour pricing – it all turned out OK. She even put my last martini in at the $5 price, even though I’m sure it was ordered well after the time frame.

All in all, a delicious meal in a very non-presumptuous space. The service was good, there are plenty of TVs around the space if you’re looking to watch a game, and drinks were well poured – and cheap, if you make it for happy hour, anyway. While the menu is an interesting mix of bar food and Asian influence, somehow it works – maybe because everything we tried tasted really good.

Shane was shocked when Cassi admitted she really liked this place, as usually she’s not a fan of his picks. Maybe it was because this one had more than two things on the menu? Just a thought.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

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

Standard

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

WTGW 12/12/18: Block 7 Bar & Grille, Barberton

Standard

OK, here it is – the pick we’ve waited two weeks for. So, I mean, no pressure or anything, but this better be good.

Although in the interim we ended up realizing a place nearby had really good food, and rediscovering that Tim’s is still some of the best pizza around … so I guess those weeks count for something. But still.

So of course we were totally pumped when we walked into Block 7 Bar & Grille … and were greeted with almost total silence. Like we weren’t sure for a moment that the place was even open because we were literally the only people in the entire restaurant. Well, I mean, aside from the bartender, and someone I can only presume to be the cook who was sitting at the end of the bar talking with her until we sat down – because he then disappeared.

Sweet. At least the service should be good?

Sadly, with our group it seems even this isn’t a guarantee.

*sigh*

We were even more surprised to find out that Wednesdays are wing nights – all bone-in wings are 49 cents each – so yeah, still unclear on this whole empty restaurant thing. Does all of Barberton know something we don’t?

Maybe it’s that Block 7’s real name should more appropriately be “Ice Block,” or “7 Degrees from Freezing,” because that’s how we were feeling for the majority of our visit. When even the guys don’t want to take their coats off you know we’ve reached frigid levels. I mean, I get that business isn’t exactly booming – but maybe account for the lack of bodies in the place by turning the heat up just a smidge so we actually want to stay a while, no?

Instead we just started ordering up the alcohol. Which come to think of it may be a solid business tactic for them also, so kudos on that.

The guys went with beers, while I got a spiked peach drink from their cocktail menu that was their own specialty – and it was very tasty. I would definitely get it again.

Meanwhile Cassi asked the server about drink prices and was told that a tequila and soda was “probably around $6.00.” Huh. OK. That’s helpful. I take it no one ever orders those here?

Also helpful, on about our second or third round of re-orders the server finally mentioned that they have “those White Claw spiked selzers, and they’re only $3.25, if that’s of interest to you.” It’s like we said some code word and graduated to some sort of secret level of alcohol allowance. Thanks?

Hey, remember how we were cold? Well, Cassi and Jason’s fried pickle appetizer helped warm things up a little bit, since taking a bite of each of those little spears of fire pretty much raised the body temperature about 15 degrees.

Tiny delicious hand warmers

Ted tried one and had to blow on it for like 10 minutes before he could take a second bite. But at least they were better than the breading disaster that was Dilly D’s, so that made it worth the lost layers of skin.

Shane and I ordered the southwestern egg rolls, which arrived slightly less than a billion degrees – but no less tasty. The chipotle ranch dipping sauce was spicy but not overwhelming, and the rolls themselves were nice and crispy without being burnt. Score.

You could pretty much put anything in an egg roll wrapper and I would call it delicious

Hey, look, another couple has joined us in the bar for dinner. Just when we were getting used to having the whole place as our own personal dining room. Hopefully this means the service won’t diminish?

Spoiler alert: it would. There was a time later in the evening where I was basically slurping my empty drink through my straw in a not-so-subtle just universally recognized attempt to get the bartender to realize I needed another drink … yeah, nothing. Oh well.

So since it was wing night, I bet you can’t guess what we all ordered? Yeah, we aren’t predictable or anything. I mean, I’ll admit, I was torn between a burger and the wings. Because, again, that never happens. We also never go places that only have those two things on the menu, either.

Never. Gets. Old.

So I got both. I mean, if you’ve learned nothing from this group, it’s that anything that can be considered an appetizer, including things that normally are classified as meals.

Trendsetters, we are. I know.

And I wasn’t the only one to be torn on this decision – in fact, Shane was the only one out of the five of us tonight to actually ONLY get wings, and no other food. But he did get 20 wings – 10 mango habanero, 5 Cajun and 5 honey mustard – so I guess that counts for something.

Shane’s side of the table

I got the mushroom Swiss burger and 5 of the lemon pepper wings. Plus the server said I could add “a handful” of fries for only $1.00 – and who would pass up that bargain? Not me.

There are five there, I swear

Um, the burger doesn’t seem to fit the bun. This is a problem.

Although I would later regret that fry option – as would Cassi – when our handful of fries proved to have been sitting under the heat lamps since about the last time a customer was probably in the building, while Jason was served up a nice piping hot fresh batch. Favorites, much?

Can we trade ours in for these, please?

Cassi had wanted to get the Block burger, but said it sounded like a heart attack on a plate so she decided against it. The description actually reminded me of the Romanburger from Mr. Hero – which I’ve always thought to be delicious, back from the times growing up when that particular fast food was considered a special “dining out treat” by my parents. Thanks for the risk of early heart disease, Mom and Dad. No wonder I feel the need to overindulge on salads in my adult years.

But I digress.

Cassi ended up bypassing the heart attack burger (see what I did there?) and ordering the mushroom Swiss burger – with a special addition of carmelized onions – along with 5 of the sweet and spicy wings.

Hey look, more wings! Do they all look the same yet?

Jason decided on the Shirley burger, plus 5 of the teriyaki wings and 5 of the sweet and spicy wings.

Shurely you have some cheddar cheese on your burger

Ted, meanwhile, ordered like four meals, which was apropos considering we’d just had a conversation about his tendency to do so. He got the chicken Caesar wrap, along with three sets of wings – spicy glazed, sweet and spicy, and Cajun.

Ted’s wings. I’m not sure I want to know just how many chickens had to die just for our table alone.

I’m also fully aware that I think I missed getting pictures of some of the wings. Sorry. They just kept showing up at our table, it was a little difficult to keep up.

With all this talk of wings, you’re probably wondering what the scale of hotness is, no? Well, we were, and since this is our blog we’re going to talk about it, so you can just scroll along if you don’t care. We actually asked the bartender, because the menu listing and the names didn’t seem to give any clear indications on what order they should fall. Well except the Blazin’ – as expected, that’s the hottest. Then the spicy glazed, then mango habanero to round out the top three. And the spicy sweet is supposed to be more sweet than spicy, so maybe they need to rethink the order of those words in the name there.

End PSA. You’re welcome.

All of the wings came out first, so I guess we were thinking correctly when we said they would be our second course of appetizers.

And yes, that could totally be a thing. Remember, trendsetters.

We were all really happy with the wings. All of the various sauces were delicious, and the wings were pretty large for being on special at only 49 cents each. We’ve paid more for much smaller at other places.

That’s what she said. Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

But definitely, if you go to Block 7, the wings are the way to go. I don’t think any of us had a sauce we didn’t like, and they were definitely filling.

The burgers, on the other hand, were disappointing. Especially in comparison to the wings. I ended up eating mine without the bun because the bread was pretty plain – and there was far more of it than there was burger – but even so, the patty, while seasoned, just didn’t seem to have much taste to it.

Cassi disagreed with me, she thought the burger was good. But she also admitted that she usually only eats boneless wings, so she was less thrilled with the wings than the rest of the table.

On the non-burger front, Ted’s aversion to cheese finally proved problematic in his eyes, as apparently in this restaurant saying “no cheese” also causes the cook to omit the dressing. And when you take the dressing out of a Caesar wrap, you pretty much just have … well … a tortilla filled with chicken.

I’m craving a giant glass of water just writing that.

That looks … plain

Good thing all of his wing orders meant he had about 16 ranch dressing cups sitting on the table that he could use to help him out … but even so, it was a bit of a struggle to get through.

He did it, though – along with 13 of his 15 wings. And then said he pretty much didn’t think he needed to eat again until next Wednesday.

Meanwhile Shane was proud of himself for only ordering wings, after hearing all of us talk about how much we preferred them to the other options on the table. He ended up finishing off 19 of his 20 wings. He tried to do the last one, but was so uncomfortably full that he just couldn’t force himself to do it. Jason ended up finishing that one for him.

That’s friendship, folks.

Picked by: Jason

Jason

Cassi (note the winter attire – obviously it didn’t get any warmer)

Ted

Steph. Thumbs up for wings and down for burgers

Shane