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

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WTGW 4/10/19: Gamble’s Vintage Sports Pub and Grille, Doylestown

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THE WHERE (we went)

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Doylestown?!

Yeah, well, I sure hadn’t. I’m not sure where this magical land of shockingly more than one bar & grill appeared like an oasis suddenly in my Google Maps search, but OK. We’ll start at Gamble’s, and leave the others up my sleeve for future picks.

But I can’t guarantee I won’t think of this scene in Billy Madison every time we visit.

Shane hit the nail on the head when he said this place immediately reminded him of the Green Diamond Grille in Barberton. Can places have dopplegangers like people? Asking for a friend.

Just like Green Diamond, the walls at Gamble’s are full of sports memorabilia. But its more of a “man cave basement” feel than a local frat house motif. Which is always more desirable, in every sense of the comparison.

And we all know the best furniture compliment to sports memorabilia is a nice granite-looking tabletop and giant comfy office/lounge chairs that you literally have to climb into, no?

Uh.

Sure.

There was also one giant table at the very front of the place that I have to assume is reserved for some sort of royalty. Or mafia meetings. Because, really, how well do we know you, Doylestown?

Exactly.

It definitely wasn’t set aside for the local fantasy football group, whose meeting on this Wednesday had the unfortunate luck of being designated to the back of the bar. And if those guys can’t get the royalty table in a sports bar, of all places, then what is wrong with the world?

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Hey guess what’s on special on Wednesdays? Wings!

I bet you’ll be shocked to hear that that’s what we ordered. Special shout out to places for making specials on the things we eat the most on the nights when we go out. You’re the best.

Although, I mean, admittedly it’s not the best special we’ve ever encountered: wings are 75 cents each, ordered in increments of six. Just a note, Gamble’s, at some places we’ve been, that 75 cents will get you 7.5 wings. Just sayin’.

(And mental note made to put The Big Dog Wing Night on our list of summer patio revisits for this summer.)

Ted admitted, though, that he was a bit conflicted … because it was wing night and so he felt compelled to try the wings … but he also wanted a burger.

Please don’t fall out of your uncomfortably high swivel chair and hit your head on the granite tabletop as you read that. I know it’s a bit of a shock. Who likes burgers and wings in this group? Please.

(And mental note made to check back in on our friends at the Springfield Tavern to see how that two-option menu revision is coming along.)

But jokes aside, we really were a little torn about just opting for the wing special – since, as Jason pointed out, the menu, while small, actually had quite a bit of variety, and sandwiches/meals that sounded pretty appealing.

And if you were hoping I would give you an example of that variety … well, you’d be out of luck, unfortunately, since I can’t seem to remember anything in particular and of course the menu isn’t found anywhere online. But just trust us on this one. I mean, how often have we failed you in the past?

Don’t answer that.

Our apps came in the form of all things loaded: pub chips for Cassi and Jason, and nachos for me and Shane.

Anyone else feel like you’re seeing double? Or playing one of those bar games where you have to spot the differences between two photos?

Yeah, not much variety here. It seems the only difference we noticed was that one has a base of homemade potato chips while the other rests on store bought tortilla chips. And neither option is particularly appealing, TBH.

So if you’re looking to share a few apps with the table then you probably want to only pick one of these, and then pretty much anything else on the app menu that doesn’t begin with the word “loaded.” Just a tip.

Cassi got a salad, and 12 of the hot boneless wings. Which came in two separate order baskets, because apparently they didn’t realize the breadth of our order and think space would be at a premium on our table.

Jason got two orders of wings – six honey mustard and six teriyaki – and the Jeep Davis burger. Which, if I was doing my job correctly, I would be able to give you some detail about what was included with that (since I realize “Jeep Davis” really doesn’t seem to offer a lot in the descriptive category) – but since I didn’t we’ll just say that judging by the photo it has cheese and some onions. Close enough.

Ted got two orders of wings – mango habenero and sweet chili. And the BLT burger – because when you can’t decide in this group, you order both. Duh.

If you can’t tell from the photo, Ted’s was probably the one burger on the menu that didn’t feature cheese as a condiment. Another shocker for the evening, I know.

Shane got three orders of wings – honey mustard, sweet chili and garlic parm.

I got two orders of wings – mango habenero and garlic parm. And a side order of steak fries.

Ted: I feel like this is one of those nights when we might need a picture of the whole table with all the food on it.

At least I didn’t fail on that one. Ta Da!

So, yeah, there’s that. I have to wonder if they ran out of wing baskets after serving our table.

Perhaps the best summary on our meals is this: the steak fries were the best part of my meal.

Ouch.

While that kind of says everything you need to know, I’m obviously not one to ever be at a loss for words, so I’ll explain.

First off, the wings were small. I mean, I get that it’s a wing special night … but given the price I think we were all still kinda surprised at just how small they were.

That’s what she said.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Anyway.

I’m just gonna put it out there that the wings we’ve had for ten cents each at some other places (*ahem* The Big Dog *ahem*) have been considerably larger than these.

The mango habanero, which you expect from the name to be somewhat spicy, just – well – weren’t. They honestly didn’t have much flavor to them. Ted said the sweet chili was his favorite. Shane said he liked the garlic parm the best … but I tried one and thought they also lacked flavor. Maybe my taste buds were broken?

On the burger side of things, Jason thought his was a little dry, and Ted’s was missing any sort of seasoning.

Sounds delicious.

Cassi was not a fan of her salad, which she said had mushy cucumbers. Not to be confused with mushy pizza bottoms. She also pushed her water glass to the side after just one sip, and Jason agreed it did not taste good. Sorry, Doylestown, we’ll take bottled when we visit the next time.

Speaking of glasses, apparently Gamble’s needs to do an inventory of their barware at some point, as it seems they only have two tall beer glasses available. What?

We found this out when Shane and Jason ordered the kind and size of beer, but Shane’s arrived in a tall glass while Jason was served a considerably smaller one. I also was the lucky winner of a tall glass, but mine was full of a different kind of beer. The server explained that it was because I ordered the Summer Shandy, which is what the glasses are actually for.

But wait, Shane ordered Bud Light. How did he get a special glass?

*insert shrugging emoji here*

Well once we discovered we were the proud owners of the only two true tall glasses in the bar, of course we didn’t want to give them up. It’s like when you get grandfathered in with a real glass on a patio full of people forced to use plastic cups, and you do everything you can to make sure the bartender doesn’t find out. I’m an adult, dammit. I can be trusted with real barware.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that if you’re strategic about your alcohol consumption, you too can have the special glass.

Yeah, Shane gave up on that strategy after a few rounds, when it became obvious that timing his drink to run out when the server came over to take the order for the next round also meant he was then without alcohol for, well, a really long time until she returned with a full glass. That’s like playing a drinking game with the goal of who can get the soberist the fastest. No thanks.

THE WHO (we saw)

I bet you won’t be surprised when I tell you that our server was also the only bartender working this evening also. Seems to be a trend these days.

It’s also a trend that places seems to be a little too busy for that. Owners, please take note.

Getting our menus after we were told to “sit anywhere” took about a few seconds shy of forever. And then our first round of drinks eventually arrived but refills were slow – oh, and then we had to wait to put our orders in because she had to check on all of the other tables before she could come back over to us.

When we first walked in I remember thinking there weren’t many tables in this place. But then when it came time for her to check on every. single. one. of. them. it suddenly seemed like there were about 1,000.

So that’s fun.

The entertainment showed up about halfway through our meals, in the form of some random drunk girl who placed herself at the end of the bar near the door and was for some god-forsaken reason given control of the remote to the jukebox. About five songs later we were suddenly surrounded by dance club level decibels of country music, which I assure you isn’t necessary in any form while you’re trying to eat dinner.

THE HOW (much we paid)

$60 bill, so $72 with tip.

Seems a little pricey for wings and beer – especially when they’re supposedly on special. And you have to continuously reuse your beer glass.

THE WHY (they may not see us again)

Well, first off, the wings weren’t really stellar enough for a return visit, especially given the length of drive we have to get us here. The atmosphere – other than the drunken wannabe and apparently deaf DJ – was OK. I mean, the tables and the look of the place seemed promising when we arrived, but we all know that decor and furniture don’t exactly carry a place in our circles.

Plus – seriously – how do you only have two tall beer glasses?? That mafia idea is becoming even more realistic.

But don’t forget the name of the town. We will definitely be back in this general vicinity.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Cassi

Steph (with a special appearance by Shane’s side eye)

Shane

Ted

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 4/3/19: County Line Bar & Grille (yep, the OTHER one), Rittman

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THE WHERE (we went)

No, I’m not kidding.

Yes, you read that title right.

We went THERE.

And I mean that in the literal sense of the word.

THERE being, of course, the place that even Shane – who we all know is a lover of visiting the diveyest of dive bars and bars refurbished from real houses (both items which this place very handily checks off the list) – ranked too high on the sketch meter to ever want to set foot in.

The place that as we passed by it in the dark we all shuddered and muttered to ourselves “thank God we aren’t going there.”

The place that became the brunt of the “well I could pick THAT place” over the ensuing weeks.

Also known as the place that Cassi swore up and down that she was going to pick so we would have to actually go … and the guys kept egging her on, thinking she was bluffing.

And so here we are.

So this means either they will never challenge her again when she says she’s going to do something … or Shane is totally picking The Buzzard’s Roost the next time his choice rolls around.

It’s kind of a scary position to be in, am I right?

Stay tuned.

In any case, this week’s selection may have uprooted the New Milford Cafe from its short reign as the diveyest bar we’ve encountered in our years of Wednesday dining. As we parked and were able to finally get a full, good look at the place – in the daylight now, mind you – among the first things we noticed were an exhaust fan caked in grease, and a door to the basement that I think all of us for sure agreed we hope to never see what’s on the other side of.

I joked that we might want to park the car with the path of least resistance in case of a quick exit.

And I think Ted, Shane and I spent a moment reminiscing about when we thought The Annex was at the top of our “I survived (insert name of dive bar here)” list. Ah, the good old days.

And that was before we walked inside, where we discovered the interior design genius of using Bud Lite towels for curtains. And zero tables, which is how we ended up sitting in a row at the bar.

Which made it slightly more difficult for Shane to throw shady glances at Cassi for making him have to ingest food in such an establishment, something I’m sure she was thrilled about.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Well, I mean, this made things sound promising right from the start:

At least there’s booze?

Cassi determined that sign to be inaccurate shortly after our arrival, though, since the bottles of beer were real cold.

More appealingly, they were only $1.50 for domestic bottles.

Although Shane somehow missed that memo – which was delivered in the form of a giant sign behind the bar, so I’m not sure how he overlooked it – and tried to order a draft. To which I immediately cried “why would you do that?” like he had just slammed my hand in a doorjamb for no reason.

But we’ll cut him some slack, as we all knew he was just looking for the path of least touching between the barware and his body. Did I mention he was making no secret of the fact that he was less than thrilled to be actually eating real food at a place nicknamed “The Shack by the Tracks”?

I’m not sure about the nickname, but that list seems solid

Always one to stir the pot, I asked Shane if he would rather eat here or New Milford, home of the burgers topped with chiclet onions. He never really answered me. Odd.

But at least they had real menus, so that’s something. I think we were fully prepared to choose our destiny from something read off of a sheet of notebook paper pinned to a back wall.

For apps, we opted for all those that came in the bite sized form, or at least those filled with cheese and pretzels anyway.

We’d like to start with all things fried please. And then bring more fried things.

They were OK. I mean, they at least tasted like pretzels and cheese, so we’ll give it that much anyway.

I got chicken tenders with onion rings.

Shane got wings. Because, you know, frozen chicken thrown in a vat of grease is the path of least resistance to food poisoning.

Well this part at least looks like every other Wednesday around here

Cassi got the border burger – which is a fancy name for a mushroom Swiss burger- and fries, after asking the bartender which was better between that and the onion rings.

Jason got six garlic parm wings

And a regular cheeseburger. With ketchup. Which the bartender had kind of a difficult time believing was the only condiment he wanted included on it, but she seemed to get over it.

Ted got a wrap, with a side of fried veggies. Must be prepping for county fair season.

Chicken nuggets or vegetable fried in grease? Its hard to say

Despite being skeptical about the food, it actually turned out to be not bad. Cassi rated hers as one of the best burgers she’s had. She said that not only was the burger itself tasty, but the bun was also really good. And Shane, who went into the place convinced that he may be claimed by salmonella on site, admitted that the wings were good enough to be something he would order again. You know, should our path ever take us back here.

THE WHO (we saw)

So, a bartender, server and cook walk into a bar …

If you’re at the County Line Bar & Grille, that means only one person graced the doorway.

This seems to be par for the course with us lately, so you’d think we’d be used to it by now. Well, at least the bartender and server part anyway. The cook thing kind of threw us for a loop, though. This is new. And not exactly ideal, but whateves. We just rate them – staffing them is out of our jurisdiction.

We actually gave her props for working overtime just for our group of five alone. Which we honestly did feel really bad about, but she didn’t seem too upset. Actually, she kept apologizing to us about things taking so long – because, you know, they only had like two fryers and of course pretty much everything we ordered had to go in them.

Although the comment we made in the car later was that at least we were the only group eating there tonight. And maybe the only ones that have eaten there for a while. I’m not sure if that’s something to brag about – but I will say with confidence that we’re all still alive as of the time I’m writing this, so I’m not too concerned as of yet.

Probably not much of a surprise to say that The County Line also has lots of regulars. Who were at least somewhat nice to us. One guy must’ve been curious about what brought the newbie group into the place – or maybe he lost a bet and had to come talk to us as a result – but in any case he stopped over and chatted us up for a bit by on his way out the door to smoke. We later bought him a drink, in the universal bar sign of appreciation.

The server/bartender/cook was also very nice, and spent some time chatting with us, too. We probably should’ve bought her a drink, too, but for all we know that would be the one time the morality police show up and try to arrest us for encouraging on-job alcoholism.

So next time, then.

THE HOW (much we paid)

OK, so I forgot to take a picture of the receipt, but I can say with certainty that it was one of our cheaper nights. I think with tip we were out the door around $50. And without chiclet onions or beer can towers.

Thank you $1.50 beers.

We didn’t order any mixed drinks this time, but we noticed that all of the liquor behind the bar has the prices clearly labeled on them. However misproportioned they may be. I mean, $5.50 for patron but $4.25 for Jose? No question on the options there. But for all the times we go places and don’t know the prices until we get the bill, this was sort of welcome.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

OK, so we all had to admit that it wasn’t quite as frightening inside as it had the potential to be. And the food wasn’t awful. The fact that it’s so far away will probably keep us from returning any time in the close future, though.

Although we do have a legacy at this place now.

Prime location, two spots above the one with the band-aid. Nice.

So I guess gesture this may have tipped our grand total just over the $50 mark, but it’s well worth it.

I mean, I’ll just sit back and watch the site visits roll in. Because, clearly, this is the place to let grassroots marketing work its wonders.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane
Side note, remember the curtains I mentioned?

Steph

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

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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

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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 2/13/19: Conestoga Grille, Canton

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THE WHERE (we went)

Conestoga Grille, in the heart of Downtown Canton. Which felt like a million miles away since of course we were all hungry. Shocker, I know. Then we had to warn Ted about a divided highway after last week’s adventure. Because this is definitely the group to be around when it comes to forgetting past mistakes.

See also: Gus’ Chalet, the place with two things on the menu, and a very aptly named but memorable-for-the-wrong-reasons place in Richfield.

The front of the Conestoga Grille pretty much immediately screams dive bar, thanks in part to a dark street and a wildly  flickering sign in the front window. And that was even before we saw they have cans of Hamm’s on special.

Insider tip, once again the window table will look alluring, but unless you want to wear your coat or not feel your nose throughout the meal you may want to rethink that seating option.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

If you don’t like IPAs you’ll want to steer clear of the draft beer options. But they did have White Claw, so there’s that. And of course Hamm’s.

In this week’s edition of let’s interrogate the server about the menu, we learned that the pizza and the wings are good, and the burgers are a top seller. When Jason upped the ante and asked for a further definition of what was better between the burgers and the pizza, she claimed that was a tough call because, well, she personally likes the pizza … but they sell a lot of burgers … but she’s never actually tried one of the burgers there before so she couldn’t really give us an honest opinion.

OK then. If you can make sense of this then you get a medal. Or a burger. We’re not really sure.

Jason ended up getting the Bacon BBQ burger. If that tells you anything.

Looks like a winner

Meanwhile Cassi got the 9 inch pepperoni pizza with a side salad. If that also tells you anything.

Where’s the middle? It’s like they baked this on the smallest pan ever

In what I suppose was an attempt to be helpful, the server turned to Jason after Cassi ordered and basically said “well, there you go, since she ordered a pizza and you got a burger then it seems you can try them both after all.”

Cassi: Uh, nope.

And thus the server learned a very important lesson about how this group doesn’t necessarily share food.

Although it worked out OK, because they each liked their respective orders.

I chose the other on the list of best sellers, the wings. I got 10 of the garlic parm wings.

So far so good

And they didn’t disappoint. They were decent sized, and had good flavor.

I also got a side salad, which was, well, a side salad. There’s not much to say about vegetables in this group.

Shane got the pizza, which he customized with about a billion toppings following an explanation of the menu pricing for such that went a little like the scene at the end of the movie Clue where they’re trying to count the number of bullets left in the gun

He also got 10 wings. And a basket of fries, which supposedly he was only getting because I was sharing with him but I barely got out the first consonant of “yes” before he decided to order.

Which probably confused the hell out of the server when it comes to our stance on that whole food sharing thing, but whatevs.

I’ll take a pizza with all crust pieces and a zillion toppings, please

Ted got the jalepeno wings. Here’s something fun, they were actually jalepeno parm wings, but the menu failed to mention that whole parm thing. Fun, right? I mean, especially for someone who hates cheese. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ted recoil from a plate of food before, but this certainly warranted that reaction. I think he might’ve reacted less if you’d set down a platter of snakes in front of him.

Which may say something about Ted. Just saying.

But he was a champ and tried them anyway. And admitted that they actually weren’t too horrible. He said the jalepeno was far more evident of a flavor than the cheese, and since the parm was more of a shaving/dusting situation than a giant melted mess, he wasn’t all that disappointed.

Those look … green?

But for future reference, they may want to note that on the menu. Also because the rest of the table was a little jealous when they saw what was served and admitted they may have tried that flavor if they’d known parm was involved.

Ted also got the Dr. Seuss burger. In keeping with the theme of his dinner, it arrived with a giant jalepeno on it, the likes of which had a scent that definitely carried across the table. But for his sake, at least that meal was sans cheese.

And Ted really liked it. He said that the ham on it was super salty, but the flavor of that combined with the egg and the peppers made it all work. He’s never had something with that many flavors going on – well, that still managed to taste good anyway.

THE WHO (we saw)

Let’s just say that having two bartenders/servers on the schedule for the evening may have been a little overzealous on the scheduler’s part. There may have been about five other people in the bar along with us this Wednesday evening, and two of them were getting paid to be there. But the trade off to that was that we got decent service, and our server was super nice.

THE HOW (much we paid)

So remember that whole “this is kind of a dive bar” and “awesome, they serve Hamm’s in cans” feel from the start of the evening. Yeah, not to much after the bill arrived. I’m not sure in what world the 12oz cans of Hamms should be $3 each, because that seems a little pricey. And $5 for a White Claw? Someone please visit the local supermarket and let them know the case of six cans is – well, let’s just say no one would be paying $30 for that.

Oh, and the pic of our receipt is incorrect, since Jason and Cassi got one of our wing orders on their bill, so that final number should be $10 more. All total, we ended up at like $77 after tip. At a dive bar. Seems a little pricey, no?

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

All that being said, if we find ourselves in the downtown Canton area again I believe we would revisit. The food was really good, one of those rare evenings where everyone liked their meals – which is saying something considering Ted’s unwelcome surprise. And being that the place wasn’t busy so we got great service – even before Shane outed us as bloggers. Dude, we’re trying to keep things low key here. I mean, we’re already celebrity judges for food truck events. Before we know it people will start asking to be in our pictures with us. I’m not sure we’re ready for that status yet.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi

Conestoga Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 2/6/19: Fire and Ice, Akron

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THE WHERE (we went)

Fire and Ice, which is located … well, to hell if I really know. With the dense fog and darkness it could’ve honestly been the set of every horror movie, ever.

I do know we encountered an unusual number of roundabouts, and Ted also made a wrong turn onto a divided highway – so for a brief time we were literally that famous scene from the movie  Planes Trains and Automobiles.

And then trying to get to the parking lot was one giant never ending u-turn. You know it’s going to be a good night when you almost get killed getting there, right?

THE WHAT (we ordered)

A whole lot of pretzels to start with, as everyone but Ted enjoyed those as an appetizer.

Double take

They were tasty. And good enough to somewhat distract Cassi from her annoyance that the soda she had mixed with her tequila was flat.

I got the mushroom Swiss burger with onion rings.

Why is my burger wearing a pickle hat?

It was good. The bottom bun was toasted but the top wasn’t so that made it a little interesting. But overall it was a decent burger.

Shane got 12 wings, on recommendation of the bartender. More on that in a minute. She listed the mango habanero and sweet Thai chili as the best flavors for sauces, so he trusted her judgement and selected those, so six and six.

I’m not sure why Shane seems armed to punch someone in this photo. Maybe they stepped too close to his wings.

It should be noted that we all just stared at Shane after this portion of the order, as we expected it to be followed with the order of a burger, or a pizza, or hell at this point even a salad … just something else to accompany his meager 12 wing dinner. When he announced that was all for him and the server could move on to the next person, we all immediately expressed our concern that he might quite literally suffer from starvation with such a light dinner.

You all need friends like this in your lives. Take note.

But he liked all of the wings, so at least his gamble on only getting one meal worked in his favor. He said there wasn’t too much difference between the two flavors, but at least they both tasted good so it didn’t much matter.

Ted got The Godfather, which is this place’s fancy name for an Italian sub.

Colorful

This earned him a coveted “good choice” from the server – which, can we just sidebar here for a minute so we can all agree that hearing these words makes you feel like you just picked the lucky menu item whenever that happens? Like balloons should drop from the ceiling and you should get to pose for a picture holding one of those giant checks that just reads “GOOD CHOICE” on the front of it. No matter what mood you’re in, hearing a server tell you that you picked a winner on the menu is like scratching off the lucky symbol on a lottery ticket that already exposed two identical sums of money.

Anyway.

Because he’s not on the Shane diet this evening, Ted also got six of the Cajun dry rub and six mango habanero wings. The Cajun were the clear winners in his book. He said the others were just OK, and that they didn’t have a lot of flavor to them – especially compared to the Cajun.

He liked the sandwich, too, but maybe not as much as the server did.

Jason got the Fire and Ice burger with fries, which he seemed to like well enough. I think his word was “decent,” so take that as you will.

Another pickle hat. Maybe someone should tell them the condiments belong on the other side of the bun.

Last at the table to order, Cassi got the Chicken Philly, with onion rings.If Ted won the award for best choice at the table, Cassi took home the test of your patience prize, as she watched all of our food get delivered and then suffered through a good awkward pause before the server reappeared and asked us if we needed anything else. Uh, the fifth meal for the table? Just a thought.

They swore it was just taking longer to cook the chicken, but we think they legit just straight up forgot about her order. Although once it arrived she said it was well worth the wait – that the bun was toasted and there was a ton of chicken included on it, so she was more than happy. Definitely a better outcome than waiting all that time for crap.

THE WHO (we saw)

First of all, watch out for this guy.

The bouncer looks a bit … stiff

I can’t speak for the group but I know personally that mannequin was the cause of a few startled moments in my evening.

Our server was also the bartender, and she did a pretty good job considering she was the only person handling the entire floor and bar area. Now granted it’s not as if the place was totally packed … but I’m guessing the crowd was somewhat significant for where and what this place is on a random Wednesday evening.

In any case, she was super nice, although perhaps not exactly overly excited about answering our varied and substantial menu questions. Case in point: when Shane asks her which she prefers, the burgers or wings (because, you know, that’s all we ever order), she says without hesitation that the wings are better. OK. Seems reasonable. But then later as the rest of the group is giving their orders she lets it slip that she’s actually not a burger person. Like that she usually doesn’t even ever eat them. So that kind of negates her instant and definite pick for the wings, now doesn’t it? I mean, because obviously she’s not choosing the burger in that scenerio. It’s like saying “hey, there’s a gun to your head, you can choose the thing you’re horribly allergic to, or the other thing I haven’t said yet but obviously I’ve left you no choice but to select.”

In a perfect world, she could’ve prefaced her recommendation with “well I don’t really like burgers, so obviously I would take the wings … but given the choice between [insert menu item she really likes here] and wings, I would choose …”

So there’s that.

Also, special shout out to the kitchen girl who announced in the exact opposite of a library voice that The Godfather and the wings would be coming out at some point after the burgers. So, you know, at least Shane was prepared when his curse of getting his food after most people at the table continued. But still, probably could’ve done without human megaphone announcing that to the entire bar.

Wednesdays are also pool league nights, or we just happened to pick the night to share the bar with all of the intensely serious pool players who bring their own pool sticks in carrying cases. In any case, we definitely weren’t venturing away from our group with a table full of what could be considered legit weapons sitting nearby.

THE HOW (much we spent)

The $4 mixed drinks were a hit, as were the far cheaper Bud Lights. I think the app was a bit pricey at $6, even if it was delicious I’m not sure it should’ve been basically the same price as six of the wings. But overall still not a bad evening out. Maybe Shane needs to only order one meal for dinner more often.

THE WHY (they may/may not see us again)

Overall the service was good – I mean, other than the whole forgetting one of our meals thing, but at least the sandwich she was eventually served was literally hot off the grill, and wasn’t just lost to the heat lamp in the back corner because they didn’t realize it belonged at our table. But over the course of the evening we found the bartender was quick to make eye contact with one of us at the table to get a feel for who needed drink refills before she walked over, so that she could arrive with the next round when she came to check on us. Keeping us full on alcohol is always a good pitstop on the path to our hearts.

I think we would return. If we could find it again on a map anyway.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Cassi

Steph

Jason

Ted