WTGW 9/18/19: REVISIT – Frank’s Place on Market, Akron

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As mentioned in our last post, we’re on a revisit month here at WTGW, while we all take turns rotating out for work and life commitments. Because clearly we’re still not a big enough deal for the rest of our lives to catch up and realize this is what we do on Wednesday nights.

This week we’re missing Ted, who was out of state for a family wedding.

After our difficulty finding a place in Cuyahoga Falls to revisit last week, we thought it best to branch out to nearby Akron for this week. And it’s been more than a hot minute since our last visit to Frank’s Place (five years!) – but of course we remember we liked it because we got free booze and desserts the last time we were here.

Yes, we’re that easy. Have we not all realized this by now?

Our other memory was that we nearly got nailed by sharp objects as we walked in the front door, thanks to dart leauges on an already busy night and some improperly placed dartboards. Which seemed slightly sketch and maybe not the best way to make a good impression on folks as they try to come in and enjoy a beer and some dinner. But whatevs.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Well as much as we’d like an appetizer of a trip to Jamaica, that seemed somewhat unfeasible and a little much to splurge on for a Wednesday night. But thanks for giving it a page in the menu, that was fun to read.

Shane and I opted for the spicy hot pepper balls instead. Because that’s almost the same.

Cassi and Jason got the chips and dip, after a lengthy discussion about not being able to get the special dip when you get the chips as a side – only as an app. Anyone else think this is weird? Like what makes this dip so special that it only comes as part of the app?

Hey Shane got a burger and wings. Anyone shocked? No? Didn’t think so. He got the regular burger with pepper jack cheese.

Cassi got the same, just a different cheese and a side salad instead of that side of fries that seems to be so popular with our group.

I got the wise guy burger with a side salad.

Jason got the cowboy burger with crinkle cut fries.

Also while they did have Black Cherry White Claw, we opted for the Natural Light hard seltzer – because who doesn’t feel classy drinking a form of Natty Light at a place where the evening’s dinner special is salmon?

THE VERDICT

So I ordered my burger cooked medium, and was served one that was very much looking like it was the color of the inside of a grapefruit. Hmm. I’ve seen those color charts on the chain steakhouse menu that basically depict “grilling colors for dummies,” and that doesn’t seem to match up. Might’ve wanted to leave that one on the grill a bit longer there, chief.

That made Shane nervous to even cut into his, which he ordered medium rare. And we all know how he feels about places that serve burgers that seems to have just been killed fresh in the backyard.

See also: why we haven’t been back to The Rail in, well, ever.

Let’s just say that if you’re reading this then that means that neither of us died from some sort of food-borne undercooked meat disease, and that might be something short of a miracle.

Fingers crossed.

Cassi ordered hers well done, and that seemed to have been the best choice on the non-sketch scale. So the moral of the story here seems to be that you should take into consideration the color you want your burger to be, and order about two levels up on the cooking scale for this place.

Apparently the special you-can-only-get-it-as-part-of-the-appetizer chip dip was the bomb. So let’s just go back to this, because we’re still a bit perplexed about why they can’t make this available as a part of any other order of chips on the menu? I mean, here’s an idea, why not sell it as a side with the chips that you’re already making people upsell to get as a side dish. $2.00 for chips, $2.00 for the dip.

I’m not saying we’re brilliant or anything, but if you try that for a year and then cut us a check for that extra compensation maybe it will make it more obvious just how smart this really is?

The salads were good. Croutons were a hit. And the crinkle cut fries were hot and delicious also.

Plus who doesn’t love getting a receipt with a line item for an $8 order of “balls”?

Overall a good little gem of a place that it’s surprising it took us five whole years to return to. It seems that Wednesdays are no longer dart nights, a change that means not only is it easier to get a table this time around, but your chances of getting impaled by a dart upon entry have greatly decreased as well.

Although if impalement is your thing, you can take your chances that you may have a sharp knife rolled in your silverware setting. Or it may be a butter knife. Who knows? You could make a drinking game out of guessing which one you might uncover.

If you haven’t learned by now, we definitely make our own fun wherever we go, kids. Whether that’s playing with sharp objects or ordering slightly sketch meats.

Good times.

But we did miss getting free desserts and shots here this time around. That’s something you shouldn’t take away, ever.

Restaurant owners, take note.

WTGW 8/14/19: Nathan’s Patio Bar & Grille, North Canton

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So full disclosure, we’ve all technically been here before, but only for drinks, and not food. On a night a few summers back we returned to a previous WTGW spot, The Ignorant Owl, to check out a band … which was so awful that it literally drove us across the street in search of better times elsewhere.

We ended up on the patio at Nathan’s, enjoying several cocktails and a much better band. So essentially we credit Nathan’s for turning that evening around for us.

Well, and the ensuing 3AM Taco Bell run, which involved Ted knocking on the window of the drive thru as we pulled up after placing our order and emphatically declaring that we were “gonna need some orders of cinnamon twists.”

But that’s a story for another time.

Back to this week’s adventure (spoiler alert, it did not end at Taco Bell, or at 3AM for that matter). We tried to once again visit the patio area of Nathan’s but as we walked out to that area we looked around to discover that there were only about a handful of very small tables that maybe would’ve fit about 1/4 of our usual food order. So that was disappointing.

I mean, I guess we could’ve all four just sat by ourselves and yelled from table to table. But that would’ve probably gotten annoying to the other patrons at the bar area out there, and we kind of didn’t feel like getting beat up that evening.

And we didn’t see menus anywhere, or anyone else eating on the patio … so by our secret decoder ring settings that usually implies that they don’t serve food in that part of the establishment.

Boooo.

So back inside we went. We grabbed a table along the far wall, and studied the helpful calendar of specials.

Hey look, it’s $4 burger night! And you know this group typically doesn’t turn down a burger. Or wings.

What are we on, like week #427 of mentioning that now?

Plus, trivia. I mean, granted we were down one member of the Moist Towlettes trivia team, but of course we weren’t about to let that stop us.

However, our general lack of knowledge for pretty much anything pertaining to this particular game of trivia did stop us from winning any portion of the game, but that’s neither here nor there.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, duh. I pretty much already gave this one away. Even someone as awful as we were at trivia that evening could guess the answer to that question.

So Nathan’s classifies their burgers into categories: regular, super, mega, etc. Seems someone was a little overly concerned with size when they put this menu together, no?

I have to give props to our server, as she was a giant help in placing our orders. No complacent “everything here is good, can’t go wrong” answers from this one. She basically ordered Cassi’s entire meal for her, and had quick answers to the firing range of questions that were thrown at her during that process: which burger is better, mushroom or Italian? what’s better, fries or onion rings? which fries, steak or regular?

It was like watching an eye doctor go through the “which is better, one or two?” portion of the eye test, but at like 100x the normal speed. And some would argue with greater consequences.

BTW, the answers to those questions were Italian, fries and steak. Which is exactly what Cassi ordered.

I went for the lesser of the server’s choices in Cassi’s scenario, the mushroom Swiss burger. And the side salad, which no one asked about. Because, well, we all know this group doesn’t do vegetables well.

Ted got the mega-sized Big Piggy burger. Which was delivered looking just as unhealthy as it sounds.But it did come with its own very sharp utensil, so I guess I really should watch what I say about it.

Shane got the regular burger … and also the kielbasa burger. Because, why not? Clearly I’m eating all the vegetables in our family, so he has to take on some of the bad habits to make up for my health, right?

We should point out Shane was shocked to see that both of his sandwiches contained a burger patty. Wait, what now?

Yeah, he thought he was just ordering one burger, and the other would just be kielbasa on a bun. Ok. That might’ve made sense had that sandwich not also been listed under the section called “burgers.” But sure. Guess that extra meat was just bonus.

That what she … oh never mind.

We also started out with a nice big bowl of queso with tortilla chips, just for Ted.

Just kidding. That was for the entire table, minus Ted. He opted for fried pickles.

Let’s just talk for a moment about that sauce for the pickles, shall we? Oh wait, we couldn’t, because it was so spicy that all we could do after first trying it was gulp down about a gallon of water or whatever other beverage might have been sitting in front of us at that moment. Even habanero-eating Ted declared it to be “pretty spicy.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was also good. Just consider this more a word of warning to like not even think about trying it if your glass is almost empty.

Also, maybe don’t order the queso in the same sitting, or else you’ll leave thinking it had zero flavor. I’m sure it did have at least a little, but it was like just putting a bit of squashed, unseasoned cauliflower on a tortilla chip in comparison to the pickle sauce.

Plus we could’ve used about another whole serving of chips with the queso.

Oh, and in our never-ending quest to get hard seltzer at every single bar we visit, we were thrilled to discover they have both White Claw and Truly. But – in true “us” fashion – of course the flavors are held under top secret clearance until the server makes about 15 trips to our table. This evening our server was convinced there was a raspberry back there, until she returned holding mango.

So. Close.

AND THE VERDICT IS:

The burgers were really good. They were cooked to order, and actually stayed pretty close to those specifications. So Shane wasn’t going to die this time.

Always a plus. The Rail will clearly never be forgiven for their murderous attempts. Of like 5 years ago. But whatever.

Cassi thought her burger was a little too done for what was supposed to be medium well, and mine was just past well done for what was supposed to be medium – but regardless they still had good flavor.

I ended up not eating the bun because it was a little too toasted for my liking. Meanwhile, on the other side of the opposite train, Cassi thought hers had a mushy bottom.

This was also definitely one of the cheaper nights out for us in a while.

Cassi’s bill for herself was only $14. She spent more on alcohol ($4 each for each White Claw?!) than her $5 burger and $1 upgrade to fries.

#pride

Our bill was $39, which breaks down to two rum and cokes, two white claw, three burgers, and one app.

Not too shabby.

The service was far better than I think we expected to see when we walked into the place. Our server was always nearby and super friendly, greeted us promptly, and gave helpful recommendations.

Oh how our standards have fallen over the years, right? Like basically just pay attention to us and be friendly and we’ll love you forever. We’re like a group of stray puppies.

Which is what I’m sure you’d rather look at as opposed to the usual pictures of our group at the end of our posts … and since we forgot to take our pictures this week anyway, here you go.

You’re welcome.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason’s back in rotation

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

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THE WHERE (we went)

Hey kids, it’s patio season again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WHAT (we ordered)

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

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

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

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

Beer twins Shane and Jason opted for draft Bud Light.

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

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

More on that later.

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

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

Nothing new there, I know.

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

Jason got a burger.

Shane got garlic parm wings.

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

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

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

I told you Wednesdays were the new Fridays.

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

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

Shane liked his wings, said they were tasty.

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

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

THE WHO (we saw)

Dear server,

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry not sorry,
Us.

So that pretty much covers the service issue.

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

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

THE HOW (much we paid)

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

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 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