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

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

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

And that roof belongs to a house.

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

That’s right, $1 burger night.

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

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

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

Good times.

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

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

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

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

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

Classy

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

We meet again, old friend

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

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

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

Or so we thought. How naive we are.

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

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

Or one would think anyway. More on that later.

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

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

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

Anywho.

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

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

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

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

It’s a great test of friendship.

So Cassi and Jason’s entire order arrived first

That looks … well … like food. I think.

The fries look slightly better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We also did this.

Concentration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do these onion rings look different?

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

Yeah, we still aren’t real sure

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

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

Mmmmm.

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

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

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

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

Wait, did they just have KFC deliver something?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Must be that new math

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

Our gift to you, New Milford Cafe

Picked by: Steph

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

Cassi

Jason

Tell us how you really feel, Shane

Steph

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

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

Or Third Time’s the Charm.

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

That was fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well that’s seen better days.

OK.

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

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

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

Moving on.

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

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

This too.

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

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

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

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

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

Generically frugal

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

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

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

Mmmmm

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

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

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

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

Is there therapy for this kind of situation?

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

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

Plus the sign outside offers wise words of wisdom.

Aw, stop. You’re making me teary.

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

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Jason

Cassi

Ted