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

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey kids, it’s patio season again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

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

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

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

Beer twins Shane and Jason opted for draft Bud Light.

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

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

More on that later.

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

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

Nothing new there, I know.

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

Jason got a burger.

Shane got garlic parm wings.

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

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

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

I told you Wednesdays were the new Fridays.

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

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

Shane liked his wings, said they were tasty.

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

Dear server,

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry not sorry,
Us.

So that pretty much covers the service issue.

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

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

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 2/20/19: BG’s Main Event, Rittman

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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 1/2/19: The Noisy Oyster, Merriman Valley

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Happy New Year!

To kick off the new year, we’re trying a bit of a simpler format for this little blog here. I’m calling it a little more just the facts, and a little less let’s write a novel about a place where we had a meal.

Because, you know, we’ve all thought we found the perfect recipe online and when we click through instead we’re treated to 17 paragraphs about how their Aunt Rose’s love of pancakes, pineapples and visiting flea markets on Saturdays is in some way connected to this amazing FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GINA, I HAVE GUESTS SHOWING UP AT MY HOUSE IN 45 MINUTES AND I JUST NEED TO KNOW WHAT TEMPERATURE TO PREHEAT THE OVEN. Damn.

But don’t worry, one thing that won’t change is the sass. Obviously. Because I still speak fluent sarcasm, people, no matter the length of the speech. I don’t think I know how to exist without that element.

Anyway.

THE WHERE (we went)

The Noisy Oyster, a place in the Valley we have all driven past about 2,874 times but honestly were a little afraid to walk inside of.

See also:  about 87% of the places we’ve been to over the past 5+ years. So, you know, just another Wednesday night with this group.

We actually did walk into the Noisy Oyster a few weeks ago, but realized that Wednesday nights are apparently “you-can’t-get-a-seat-if-you-arrive-after-7” nights, a.k.a. trivia nights. But since it’s still the holidays and the late arriver home (me) was still on vacation, we were actually able to get out to dinner at 5pm, where we found a completely different atmosphere.

Cue jokes about the Golden Buckeye Card Holders and 4PM Early Bird Dinner Specials.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that the parking lot was deceptively full for the three occupied tables inside. Apparently it was laundry night for all of the other cars parked in the shared lot.

Insider tip – the view by the windows will seem enticing, but unless you enjoy chilly drafts and giant spiders I would recommend going elsewhere. Trust us on this one. Jason tried a few times to fix the draftiness, but we were concerned his efforts might actually just push the window into the stream below. Which would also bring us closer to the giant scary spiders hibernating on the other side of the glass.

We finally just gave up and moved to an open high top toward the back of the bar. Sometimes we’re smart.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

The guys started out the evening attempting to order their old friend, the $2.00 16oz Hamms special. I’m sure you can already tell by the tone of that sentence how far that got them. The server blamed New Year’s Eve for the empty Hamm’s cooler, a statement which may tell you more about this place than this entire review.

We ended up with DownEast ciders for three of us, and a draft IPA for Jason. Fashionably late, Ted also opted for the IPA when he arrived.

The menu features a lot of seafood, which I know is shocking given the name of the restaurant. Given Shane’s allergy to shrimp (which he for some reason hates for us to talk about so, shhhh, keep it a secret between us, ‘k?) we of course hoped that Shane didn’t order anything that might be cooked in the same oils, fryers or grills as the element that might kill him.

Living on the edge to start 2019, kids.

And we can definitely trust a place which still has placards on the table advertising a seasonal cocktail that appears to be left over from summer.

Did we travel to the Southern Hemisphere?

Cassi and Jason got an app of calamari.

Fresh from the freezer, not the ocean.

Cassi started off with a side salad, which I’m not sure what it’s usually served on the side of, but it was about as big as the regular salad I ordered.

This is a very generous side salad, no?

Then she had the breaded shrimp platter with waffle sweet potato fries for her meal.

This looks like the unhealthy version of what Ted ordered

Jason got the honey mustard wing dings

Along with the mushroom Swiss burger with fries

Ted got smoked oysters to start

Anyone else not picture oysters looking this way in their minds? No, just me?

And the Cajun shrimp

This looks too healthy to be at our table

I got the garden salad, with six of the Thai chili regular wings

I think the primary difference between the side salad and the real salad is the two dressings

Shane got a regular cheeseburger with cheddar cheese and the Saratoga chips

And six garlic parm wing dings

Garlic parm with extra breading please

I’m sure the million dollar question on your mind right now is “what the eff is a wing ding, and how is it different from a regular wing,” right? Well, it should be, because if it’s that obvious and we didn’t know then I feel pretty stupid right about now.

According to the server, the wing dings have more breading than the regular wings. Um, OK. Which seems a little unusual then that they are actually done faster than regular wings. Like 15 minutes faster.

Must be some new quick bake breading they invented.

In any case, I’m not sure we determined which kind were better. But the good news is that we liked both kinds, so I guess that counts for something? I really liked the regular wings, the sauce was tasty. Jason gave the wing dings a thumbs up. Shane really liked his, too, claiming that he could eat 25 of them. He was done with his before mine even hit the table – which I guess really isn’t that much of a shock, but still.

THE WHO (we saw)

The crowd was … well … interesting. We’ve already established that is was definitely much older, and that the majority cleared out after the early bird dinner hour was over but before the beginning of Jeopardy. Trivia brought in a few younger folks to fill those empty seats, but not enough to make us not feel like we were still the youngest ones there.

On another note, the group tried their hands at trivia again. Unlike the last time we tried this endeavor, we were in 5th place going into the final question – which meant we maybe had a real shot at winning.

Yeah, not even close.

So the streak of the Moist Towelettes is over. Well, I mean, if you can call one win a streak. Which I believe the guys did.

THE HOW (much we paid) 

Who doesn’t love paying $4.75 for a can of cider? This group.

Plus when the $2 beers were gone, there was really nothing on the menu close to being able to replace that. Shane got a $3 Modelo draft … but said that wasn’t exactly the same. Or the preference.

Sorry Modelo. You just got rated lower than a $2 can of Hamm’s. Ouch.

THE WHY (they will/won’t see us again)

I think a return visit may come down to us deciding we need to go someplace close by on a night when we are able to eat dinner at the hour of the 80 year olds. The food was good – both kinds of wings got a thumbs up, as did both kinds of shrimp. Ted wasn’t really impressed with the oysters, but said he wouldn’t let that deter him from returning. Jason mentioned that although he always gets nervous when he orders a burger and they don’t ask how he wants it cooked, this time the gamble paid off in his favor.

I think overall the consensus was that the food would be worth a repeat trip, but the interesting crowd (including the spiders) and a losing trivia experience kind of put a sour note on things – making this a sold “maybe.”

Like I said, living on the edge.

Picked by: Cassi

Cassi

Steph

Shane

Jason

Ted

Noisy Oyster Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato