WTGW 10/18/18: New Milford Cafe, Rootstown

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You guys. I think we’ve finally done it. I think we’ve may have finally found one of both the cheapest meals and the diviest bars (that we actually stayed to eat in anyway) in all of WTGW history.

Shocker that it’s under the same roof, I know.

And that roof belongs to a house.

Although the real shocker is probably that Shane didn’t pick this one this time. Say what? Since he took one for the team last week with the Missing Mountain fiasco that landed us at the table of $2 burgers at the Bailey Rd Tavern, I was up this week. And accepted the unofficial challenge to find a place that has burgers for even less than last week.

That’s right, $1 burger night.

I mean, sure, you literally have to drive to the middle of nowhere to find them. A few times I’m not even sure we were on an actual road. And then you have to park in a lot that could also double as the beginnings of a junkyard. Next to a house. And a specials sign that none of us could read because it was covered in weeds.

Sounds promising, no? Shane couldn’t stop saying “oh my goodness” as we parked the car and walked in.

For all of this trouble, we were rewarded with awkward side eye glances from all of the regulars (read: the entire bar) as we trounced our way through the maze of rooms that make up this commercial house party on steroids trying to find an open table.

Good times.

Once we finally got settled in, we were able to read the sign behind the bar, which advertised a brief list of things you could get for $1 in this establishment that evening:

  • Burgers
  • Canned domestic beers
  • Well drinks
  • Hot dogs

So, for like $10 each we could plausibly leave this place fed and semi-drunk? Score.

Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. But my guess would be some regulars of this place leave this place much more than $20 lighter and a whole lot more inebriated most Wednesdays of the month.

After about 10 minutes of sitting around, we started assuming that the neon specials board and these wonderfully artistic Sharpie menus might be the only clue as to what the kitchen was serving that evening.

Classy

I mean, because the table tent marketing worked so well for us the last time we were faced with these, right?

We meet again, old friend

But then after the guys’ second trip to the bar to get drinks – because we all know cheap drinks go down faster, right? – after which time we still hadn’t been offered menus from the bartenders, asked if we were interested in ordering food, or seen a server come anywhere near our table – one of the guys finally got up the nerve to ask if there was anything beyond the $1 menu.

Behold, they do have printed menus in this place! And in slightly better shape than the ones we got last week. I have to say that was just as surprising as … well … forget it, pretty much everything about this place is surprising in some way by this point, so never mind.

But it was because of those menus that we realized not only could you get a regular old burger for $1, but one of the “specialty” burgers for $3.50. What? Mushrooms and cheese and onions and basically all the other condiments you usually get on burgers anyway for only a mere $2.50 more? Bargains.

Or so we thought. How naive we are.

In any case, Cassi and I went that route, with both of us ordering the mushroom Swiss burger. We also got side orders of onion rings. Not the blazin hot onion rings from the table tent, though. We learned the insider tip on that one a few weeks ago, thank you very much to that server guy.

Shane also joined the $3.50 burger bandwagon, and got something called the Hillbilly burger. Because if any place is going to get that particular item correct, it seems it would be this one.

Or one would think anyway. More on that later.

Jason and Ted, meanwhile, went the cheap route and got a couple of the $1 burgers each. And fries. Apparently Shane has been replaced as Jason’s food soulmate? Such a sad day.

Shane and I also ordered the pepper jack cheese bites, and Shane got a side order of wings.

Side note: if you think wings are a strange thing to order as a side item, you obviously don’t read this blog often.

Anywho.

The server/bartender made little effort to hide the fact that she was more than a touch perturbed at having to come over all the way around the bar and over to our table to actually take our order. For shame. Forgive us for inconveniencing you, princess. I mean, I get it, you’d rather do shots behind the bar than write down some words and then later run our collective $20 worth of food to our table – but still. It is your job, after all.

Apparently job security is little more than a passing thought at this place – maybe because you probably have to live practically next door to think about driving to this netherlands more than a few days a week – but in any case let’s just say I think 60 year old waitresses at any one of those little run down truck stop diners you see by the side of the highway in the middle of nowhwere, America, could outperform her 2700 times over.

Unless it was at doing shots with patrons. As mentioned before, she was pretty good at that.

So here’s a novelty, the food arrived at our table in exactly the same lineup in which we ordered it, only with extremely large and quite noticeable time differentials between our checks. What group of five people dining together doesn’t love that? Especially when you’re hungry. Because that’s not an awkward situation for anyone, no matter how well you know one another. Do you go ahead and eat, even though you know your friends are also starving and sometimes too polite to eat from your offered plate? Do you literally watch your food get colder by the second, all the while cursing the kitchen for taking so damn long to bring out the next plate?

It’s a great test of friendship.

So Cassi and Jason’s entire order arrived first

That looks … well … like food. I think.

The fries look slightly better

They had their food for like 10 minutes before the server broke free of the bar long enough to come back over to tell Shane that they’re out of the slaw that’s supposed to go on his Hillbilly burger. Shane didn’t even remember that’s the chosen condiment that was supposed to be on his specialty burger, so he wasn’t all that concerned.

If this were a short film about our evening, this is the time when a deep and forboding narrator’s voice would say something like: BUT HE SHOULD’VE BEEN.

Hey, it’s been another 15 minutes and Ted’s order finally shows up! Horray for small miracles!

(I didn’t take any pictures of his, because it was literally the same as Jason’s. So refer back to the photo above if you want a reminder)

That just leaves me and Shane, who I guess will eat around midnight. Cool. Clearly we picked the wrong side of the table to sit on.

But, to pass the time, here’s a brief list of things we were able to enjoy about the ambiance of the place while we waited:

Continued stares from the regulars as if we’re some band of misfit outsiders. Oh, wait, to this group we probably are. I mean, I was wearing a scarf as an accessory and not just something to keep my face warm in a snowstorm, so I can see how that would be strange. Also Cassi and I both I clearly missed the memo that hoodies were the required uniform, even on women. So yes, we get it, we’re new here. Obviously being welcoming isn’t something they teach in these parts. Noted.

Music louder than the last concert I attended. And it continuously got louder as the evening wore on. We think they may have blown a speaker at some point – which, logically, only made them turn things up louder. Because distortion and partial static sounds amazing at 10,000 decibels, thanks.

Solicitation, in the form of some random woman approaching our table asking if we want to buy candy bars to help support her daughter’s prom. Whoa, what? I mean, props for figuring out that a group of bar-goers on $1 beer night is a solid audience for this type of purchase. But prom? Really? It’s October. I’m slightly curious about where that money will reside for the next seven months or so until that dance typically occurs on a school calendar.

Four of us in the group: we don’t carry cash
Ted: Sure, I’ll buy one

We also did this.

Concentration

See what happens when you leave us with nothing to do with our hands and a growing collection of empty cans on the table? Let this be a lesson to you.

The kicker was when the place ran out of Bud Light Cans after our 4th round. OK, who dropped the ball on this one? That’s like the time I walked into Starbucks and was greeted with a sign saying they ran out of coffee.

If it were me, I would tend to think that restocking would be the #1 priority on Tuesday, knowing this particular item would be essentially on fire sale the next evening. But then again priorities aren’t something that this place necessarily seems to have any sort of handle on, so again, not surprised. And at least they still had canned beer, in the form of Miller Lite, so we could continue to enjoy $1 beer night in our secondary fashion.

I should also mention that Ted – who includes both cheese and canned domestic beers on his list of things he’s not at all a fan of – went for the mixed drinks instead of beer throughout the course of the evening. He started out with Jack and coke, but then realized that “well bourbon and coke” will suffice if it falls under the umbrella of the $1 well drinks special.

This is an important point that we’ll come back to in a little bit.

Just like our meals, which finally arrived, just a hair under an hour after we placed our orders. Yay! Who doesn’t love waiting until 8:35 to eat?

Maybe the best part of the meal. That means a little more when I mention that they also weren’t totally melted inside

Why do these onion rings look different?

Before he lifted the bun to see exactly what was on the burger

Yeah, we still aren’t real sure

So, let’s take a good look at that last picture of Shane’s burger, shall we? Do you notice anything? Like maybe, just maybe, the missing slaw was the ONLY condiment on the burger that would’ve made it anything close to being “specialty”?

Because without it, he essentially just had a burger with ketchup, mustard, cheese and onions.

Mmmmm.

We even looked at the menu again (because why would the server return to pick them up from our table? Clearly no one else is using them but us) and confirmed that, yes, those were the condiments that were supposed to be on that burger. Plus slaw. Which they mysteriously don’t have. So good thing they still charged him $3.50 for it.

Me: I think McDonald’s burgers look better than that mess, with about the same condiments, and they’re only $1.

So, yeah, I’d love to say the food was worth the strange and seemingly completely unnecessary wait … but I can’t. The burgers were all burnt. Hey, here’s a clue, maybe don’t cook them so long next time and we can all eat quicker – or maybe at least at the same time?

Shane’s wings were … strange. They were almost beer battered before they were deep fried, so they looked huge – but it was like the chickens they took the wings from were also on steroids. It was like eating fried chicken, only all the pieces were in wing form.

Wait, did they just have KFC deliver something?

We also about had a battle over French fries, thanks to the fact that Ted’s fries had ALL.THE. SALT, while meanwhile Cassi (the undeniable salt lover of the group) was basically rationed about 12 little pellets over the entire order that she was sharing with Jason. And theirs came out first. How do we get such different batches? Did the server finally bring the salt shaker back after another round of tequila shots? Or did the cooks just switch shifts in the time between our separate checks of meals being finished? I mean, we were there for pretty much an entire evening between the time we placed our orders and actually ate, so I suppose it’s possible.

Speaking of being there for a while, I guess the server must’ve taken a liking to Ted and his $1 bourbon and coke orders, because his drinks seemingly got progressively bigger over the course of the evening. Like he was on some graduated plan – you mastered the rocks glass, now try a collins glass, and  … ok, now a pint … well, screw it, let’s just go straight to a 16oz drink glass.

I think if we had stayed there another hour they might’ve had him drinking bourbon and coke out of one of those giant boot steins they use in German bier halls.

He also said his last drink had no less than three large shots in it. For $1. Please tell me how they make money here.

Oh, nevermind, I know the answer to this, because I’ve seen our bills for the evening. Ready for a fun little math lesson?  Keep in mind it’s dollar burger, beer and mixed drink night, which is what the majority of us were enjoying.

Mine and Shane’s bill was $33. What? How is this more than last week’s $2 burger night? I’ll tell you – the sides. The (not very good) fried cheese balls were $4.50, and the fried chicken masquerading as wings was $10. $10! That’s 10 burgers! Or 10 beers! That’s about $1 a wing, and if he had known what was going to arrive in front of him when he ordered those, I’d wager a guess that Shane would’ve jumped that count down considerably.

Looking at his bill, Ted commented that his first real Jack and coke was 25% of his total bill. Wait, check that, the drink and the side order of fries ($4.99) were 60% of his total bill.

Even so, his entire bill was $18. For two burgers, some fries, approximately 7 tons of salt, and about half a bottle of bourbon. OK, when you look at it that way I guess that’s actually not too shabby. And it’s definitely one of the cheapest WTGW bills any of us have ever seen.

But then again, given the atmosphere of the place, and the lack of service, and the really awful food … well, it seems they really probably should’ve actually paid us to be there. Although, with this kind of intelligence behind the bar, maybe in some ways they did:

Must be that new math

And at least we left them some new table decorations. You’re welcome.

Our gift to you, New Milford Cafe

Picked by: Steph

Ted. The thumbs up is for the $18 bill. The other is for … well … everything else

Cassi

Jason

Tell us how you really feel, Shane

Steph

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