WTGW 7/17/19: Old Stone Jail, Norton

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THE WHERE (we went)

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

Heaven in a can

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

Go on, I’ll wait.

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

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

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

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

You’re smart people. I know.

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

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

Balance.

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

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

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

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

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

There’s always next time?

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

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

Our bill

Cassi and Jason’s bill

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

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

THE WHY (they will likely see us again)

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi

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

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THE WHERE (we went)

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

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

Gotta love you, Ohio.

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

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

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

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

This is what arrived.

Now that’s a burger

Holy hell.

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

So that worked.

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

Ted: Me either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are we even at the same table?

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

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

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

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

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

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

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

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

THE WHY (they may see us again)

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

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

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

Steph

Cassi

Shane

Ted

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

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

WTGW 10/10/18: Bailey Rd Tavern, Cuyahoga Falls

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This week on WTGW we bring you … a Tale of Failed Places.

Or Third Time’s the Charm.

You decide after you read this which title is more appropriate.

This was technically supposed to be my pick this week, so our initial stop was Missing Mountain Brewery in Cuyahoga Falls. It seems the Falls have become a hotbed for new brewery action – and while I’ve learned my lesson about going to a place literally days after opening, I hoped that waiting until this one had been open for a hot minute would have a better outcome.

Yeah, well, chalk that up to a huge fail.

Here’s a tip for the MM folks: it gets cold and rainy in Ohio pretty much any time of year, but especially in the fall. While it may have seemed like sinking your cash into the gorgeous patio overlooking the river was an optimal plan in early spring and summer when you were getting up and running … you might want to turn that pocketbook toward the interior these days, and get some more seating action up inside this place. Literally. Because the short order of tables available inside was no help to our party of five that really wanted food, stat.

Also not helpful: the rope across the stairway to the upstairs. I’m not sure what hidden lair awaits at the top of that staircase, but if it had seating options and a food menu you would’ve had five satisfied customers this evening. Well, OK, so I can’t guarantee the satisfied part, since we do tend to be hard to please at times – but we still would’ve paid you even if we weren’t satisfied, so that has to count for something, no?

Anyway.

Fast forward to a quick google search of the nearby area, which did nothing more than really highlight the fact that MM clearly took an opportunity to place food in a barren part of town. Turns out there are very few sit-down restaurants with liquor licenses in the general vicinity, and even fewer that we haven’t seen the inside of for food of some kind already.

Except – oh, wait – Chelsea’s by the River! We know this place! We’ve been here for drinks after eating out at a past WTGW, and the Google reviews mention burgers, so it seems like fair game!

Yeah, no. Clearly those Google reviews were written in days of yore, because Chelsea’s no longer has a working kitchen. You can eat there – but only after ordering from Euro Gyro next door and carrying it over to the bar. Classy. Or maybe they deliver? We didn’t stick around long enough to inquire about that one.

Instead, our visit to Chelsea’s pretty much consisted of an awkward walk in, a slightly loud few moments of settling in at a table, a glance around for menus, a general wonderment amongst ourselves if maybe we missed something on the reviews that spoke of food, a rebuttal of a few side eye glances from the regulars, and then finally a silent line march out of the establishment.

That was fun.

On to stop #3 in our awkward bar hop that has thus far left us without beer or food of any kind. Because that’s an event that everyone rushes to sign up for.

And that stop was Bailey Rd Tavern, another familiar name from our early pre-blog WTGW days, back in the time when we would actually eat at one place and then hit up another for drinks on the way home. Either we started earlier in the evenings back then, or these past five years has really adulted us, because it seems we complain on nights when we’re getting home after 9PM anymore, so I’m not sure how those outings didn’t kill us.

Regardless, ever since that first stop years ago, Shane has been gently suggesting that we stop back at BRT for an actual meal. After a quick group vote – during which time Shane sensed my hesitation and offered to take my pick as his own this week because I wasn’t sure I wanted my name on the docket for this one – it was decided that we would check it out.

And that’s the long story of how Bailey Rd Tavern because Shane’s new favorite dive bar, as well as one of the cheapest WTGW on record.

We were somewhat shocked to find the place pretty packed on a Wednesday night. Well, I mean, packed for a place that really only has a handful of tables that aren’t of the pool variety, as well as seats at the bar. We ended up having to go all the way to the back of the place, behind the bar and near a weird hallway that we weren’t sure led into the bathrooms or the kitchen (or both, as we discovered later), as well as – shocker – another pool table.

The bartender/server comes over and asks if we want the “Wednesday burger special” – at which time we realized this was probably the reason that the place was so packed on this particular night – and we were like OK, yeah, that’s probably what we’ll end up with, but can we also see a menu? I mean, this table decoration is lovely and all, but maybe you have more to offer us?

Looks like someone gets the “hey, I learned how to make my own posters on the computer and laminate them myself” award

She agrees and disappears for another five minutes, during which time Shane almost chewed his own arm off out of hunger.

But the wait was definitely worth it when she returned with this.

Well that’s seen better days.

OK.

We cut her a little bit of slack, because clearly she had to break out the time machine to unearth that little piece of history. If only it could talk about the things its seen in its years hiding behind the bar.

So, yeah, $2 burger specials all around. Because although so many other things on this menu definitely intrigued us, I can honestly say it wasn’t necessarily because we wanted to order them.

Among the topics of conversation were WTF is this breakfast and movie special on Sunday mornings? And how do they make any money with prices this cheap?

Moving on.

So when the server finally came back to take our orders, we went with pitchers of beer (at her recommendation) as well as the touted $2 burger special. The guys all got two burgers each, while Cassi and I opted for just one a piece. And then of course chips and fries for sides.

I’m not going to bore you with redundancy of five pictures of the same thing. Imagine a table full of this. Enough said.

This too.

Hey, anyone remember that time we went out to a place that Shane picked and the menu only consisted of two items, burgers and wings? And we all give him crap continuously about it? Just checking.

Cassi and Jason also got onion rings. Cassi said they were the best part of her meal. I’m not sure exactly what that says about the burgers, but it says something I think.

They don’t look like much, but apparently they’re winners

That statement may mean more when you take into consideration Shane looked at his burger before biting into it and realized that the bun was actually two top buns, no bottom. Huh. Are there just like a giant pile back there on the counter, and they grab what they can?

Hopefully it’s not next to whatever drawer these ketchup packets live out their lives in.

Generically frugal

I think 1997 called, they’d like their condiments back, please. You’re giving pride a bad name by using it on that label. Although it is “fancy,” so I guess that makes up for something?

OK, I’ll stop. But I could go on for days. Trust me.

But wait! The server had an idea … instead of opening all of those packets, she should just bring us some ketchup so we won’t be so wasteful. Rejoice!

Mmmmm

Um, maybe not. That’s like a literal vat of ketchup, and lord only knows what magical condiment faucet it was poured from. We kind of thought maybe she would just bring us a bottle for ourselves, but I guess that’s not acceptable here?

We can’t be trusted with nice things. I should’ve known.

But other than not trusting us with ketchup bottles, the bartender/server was good. She checked in on us a fair amount, especially given our non-prime location and the fact that she literally had the entire place to watch at the same time. She made sure to write our names on our orders as she took them so that she could remember who got what when it arrived (although since we all got burgers, I have to ask: was it truly that difficult?). Or maybe she just wanted to be friends. I’m OK with either.

Can you tell we’ve had some pretty awful service experiences lately or what? It’s like we’re in abusive relationships and have set our excuse parameters super low. “It’s OK that she never brought us our food, she’s just crazy busy.” “Sure we all only ordered burgers, but she asked for our names and that means she must care about us, right?”

Is there therapy for this kind of situation?

So here it is time to cash out, let’s take a final tally on our bills, shall we? We did realize there was some interesting math going on, when the side orders of chips were $3 but each of the burgers were only $2. Hmmm. OK. But even so, the total bill for me and Shane combined was only $21. $21! That’s like less than what we pay for a few six packs and the fixings to grill out at home. Cassi and Jason had $26, although they also got the order of onion rings and had one extra pitcher on their bill. Ted was the big spender at $22 for just one person – but he was drinking fancy bottled Guinness instead of our cheap Bud Light pitchers, so serves him right, I guess.

So overall, it wasn’t the worst place we’ve ever been. It’s certainly not fancy – I mean, I think if you look up “dive bar” in a dictionary it may have a photo of this place instead of a description – which of course means Shane was in love with the place before we even sat down – but the food didn’t kill us and we all paid less as a collective group for the evening than we have individually at some of our adventures, so that certainly counts for something.

Plus the sign outside offers wise words of wisdom.

Aw, stop. You’re making me teary.

So when someone finds out what the movie is this weekend, give us a shout and let us know, ‘k?

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Jason

Cassi

Ted