WTGW 2/19/20: Clearview Inn, Bath

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So when we first heard the name of the place Jason picked for tonight – as we were in the car en route to the Clearview Inn – those of us who had heard the name of the place before may have started to contemplate whether or not they were slightly underdressed.

And by “those of us,” I may just be referring to myself. Whatevs.

But by all indications, the Clearview Inn I had heard of in passing had always been labeled as a steakhouse. And not that that label automatically makes a place fancy – hello, Outback Steakhouse – but typically a place where you can order a pretty decent cut of steak isn’t also the same place you’re likely to be welcomed walking into the joint in a hoodie and easily locating our WTGW staples of greasy bar food and cheap draft beer. 

Although Cassi was quick to point out that Clearview does have a pub area, and that area was thought to be more casual than what you would put on the barometer of a typical steakhouse. So like the sports bar version of an Outback Steakhouse, as opposed to someplace like RED or Fleming’s. OK, now we’re talking. 

Turns out we were all a little bit correct. Because while I have a feeling Clearview could’ve been fancy in it’s heyday … that day was probably well before any of us was born. 

Like take for example the strange little stage area at the end of the bar and just to the left of our table – which I thought I had taken a photo of but probably skipped in an attempt to stay somewhat inconspicuous (because we’re so good at that on  regular basis anyway, I know) – where I half expected a Sinatra impersonator to wander out with a martini in hand and start entertaining the crowd. 

Speaking of which, the crowd – and surprisingly it was crowded, particularly at the bar proper – was, well, almost as interesting as the atmosphere. There were obviously a lot of regulars there for an evening meal or nightcap. But there were also some random, out of place folks giving off a bit of an “I’m in town on business” vibe. But considering we aren’t exactly in an area known for businesses or hotels of any kind, that was somewhat weird.

Also weird: the music selection. In a span of about the first 20 minutes we heard everything from 70s rock to rap to – no joke – Somewhere Over the Rainbow. 

For real, where are we?

I don’t think our server could really answer that question, since he wasn’t much help with …. well … any question we asked him.

Take this lovely exchange, for example:
Shane: what wing flavors do you have?
Server: well, um, I don’t know, I guess whatever is listed? But like what are you looking for? Because we probably have it. Just ask me.

It’s like we opened up a dictionary to the definition of “helpful,” I know. 

WHAT WE ORDERED

Despite the steering otherwise of the server, we did stick to the menu items for our meal choices. 

Apparently the steakhouse vibe got to Ted, because he decided to be all fancy and order the seared ahi tuna for an app. 

Meanwhile the rest of the table got two orders of the smallest portion of calamari known to man. For $11. Each.

That seems a bit excessive, no? I mean, unless there’s a worldwide shortage on calamari that we’re unaware of, $11 for this portion seems a tad unreasonable. 

Perhaps to offset that disappointment, and also because someone at the table had to order either a burger or wings, Shane got not one, not two, but three orders of the Garlic Parm wings.

Cassi got a side salad – which we later discovered was basically just lettuce with a few cherry tomatoes, so we’ve clearly hit the opposite end of the fancy spectrum – and the panko crusted chicken tenders. 

Jason got the Po Boy sandwich.

I got the diablo chicken sandwich with a sweet potato.

Ted got the steak sandwich, also with a sweet potato.

After dinner, the server – in all his infinite salesmanship – tried to sell us on the desserts by telling us the best way to enjoy them was by combining like three of them together.

Um, OK. 

While the rest of us abstained from dessert, Cassi and Jason did get the cobbler. 

THE VERDICT

The calamari, while tasty, was not exactly $11-for-a-portion-that-barely-feeds-one-of-us delicious. The sauce was maybe the best part, it had some spice to it. But we really savored each bite like it was the last portion of food we might ever see.  

Meanwhile, Ted was quite happy with his fancy tuna app. He said he’s never had it with the sesame crust before, but that was a nice touch. 

However, it didn’t compare to his steak sandwich, which he claimed was “one of the best he’s ever had.” 

Sounds impressive, right? Well, until he countered with the fact that he’s only probably had one other steak sandwich on all of our WTGW outings … which makes that statement more than a little less impressive. Let’s just call this the asterisk with the tiny print that indicates “results may be skewed.”   

I asked him on a scale of one to the-fries-he-loved-at-Barrel Lodge, what’s the verdict then?

He didn’t quite answer that, except to say the steak was really good and there just happened to be bread. So do with that what you will, I guess. 

When asked, Jason said the cobbler was “just awful.” But we all quickly caught on that that was just for our benefit so we didn’t feel bad that we didn’t also order it.

Translation: it was pretty spectacular.

What a good friend. I mean, he also said the same thing about the beer that Healthy Shane couldn’t drink. Way to take one for the team. 

Our bill was close to $70, but almost half of that was alcohol, so you know, we’re obviously pretty proud of that fact.

Despite all of my pokes at our server, I will have to say that at least he was super attentive. A little spacey, sure, but he did get us what we needed when we asked, and was honest when he didn’t know the answer or didn’t care enough to go ask someone else. He also was very punctual with drink refills. Maybe too much so, as I think we all had one or two more rounds than we had intended (see above comment about our bill) … but hey, what are Wednesday nights for, right? 

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Shane

WTGW 10/9/19: Erie St. Kitchen, Kent

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Did you miss us? Because we sure missed you, friends.

Or, well, let’s be honest, we missed going new places with you. Yes, we realize it’s been a hot minute of revisits since our last true pick. It seems like the past month has been a game of tag within our group, as each week brought a new reason for one or the other of us to not be available.

See also: life. Adulting is hard sometimes.

Anyway.

So, since it’s been a good amount of time since we had a real pick, I bet you’re assuming that we have a real good one lined up for our first week back to normal, right?

Well, we all know what happens when we assume.

There’s your set up, folks. Read the rest at your own risk.

On a positive note, I can say that at first glance, Erie St Kitchen showed quite a bit of potential. Cassi had looked up the menu online before picking it (duh, who doesn’t? Oh, well, us, sometimes, I guess – but really I think that’s more the establishment’s fault for not having a website in the first place) and was confident about her findings. And as we were sitting in the booth staring at the printed menus, we agreed. The specialty seems to be a lot of southern style food like jambalaya, plantains, gumbo, po boys and so forth. And when you can get Nashville style hot chicken in Kent, Ohio, you can’t pass that up, can you?

Um. Well. We’ll get back to that one, but let’s just save everyone some time and say that the answer, apparently, is yes, yes you can.

We should’ve realized our misstep when we sat down in the booth at the far corner, and in assessing the lay of the land, realized that we would need to get up and visit the bar for a drink, and the kitchen window for the food. Hmmm. OK. So basically this is just one step above a drive thru, then? Nice. I mean, they do bring the food over to you, you don’t have to get back up and pick it up from the window. But still. That’s like saying when you order fries at McDonald’s from the drive thru and they tell you that they just ran out but are making a fresh batch, and instead of making you come in to claim them you just have to pull over to the side and wait for someone to run them outside to your car. Cool.

Or not. Not cool at all, Erie St Kitchen.

Well, while we’re waiting for our food and not conversing with wait staff at all, let’s look around and try to figure out the vibe, shall we? I mean, we’re in a college town, so obviously we expect to see students around us. OK, check. But then there were also several tables of folks old enough to be our parents. OK. Professors, maybe? Townies? Parents of students in town for that elusive and probably not entirely welcome mid-week surprise visit? It’s a mystery.

Interesting.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Ted went full southern on us, ordering the fried plantains and jambalaya.

All of which arrived in front of him approximately 3.2 seconds after he ordered it. Like I don’t even think Jason and Shane were back from placing our respective orders yet by the time Ted’s arrived at the table. And his plate was almost clean before ours even left the kitchen.

So let this be your takeaway: if you’re hungry, apparently plantains and jambalaya are the salsa and chips of this place. So place that order and have no worries about hitting that hangry phase before your food arrives.

You’re welcome.

Cassi and Jason ordered what may be one of the strangest items ever to grace an appetizer menu: deviled eggs.

Because nothing screams bar kitchen like some eggs filled with mayo and mustard. I mean, it’s not tarter toast. But. Well. You get where I’m going here.

Anyway.

Cassi got the Nashville chicken dinner with the pimento mac & cheese. She also subbed the cole slaw for a side salad.

Yes, you read that right – pimento mac & cheese. That alone almost swayed my decision in that favor. But instead I went with the Nashville chicken “snack,” which is apparently a code word for “chicken tenders.” I also opted for a side salad.

Shane and I started off with a basket of tots.

On the “we love burgers” side of the table, Shane got the bacon blue burger with a side of fries and Jason got the goat cheese burger.

THE VERDICT

Ted gave a big thumbs up to the plantains, saying that the sauce was a little bit spicy but the plantains themselves were sweet.

He was not as vocal about the jambalaya, calling it just OK.

The deviled eggs got that same verdict.

Shane was not a fan of the burger. He said it had zero flavor at all. He had to douse it in some of the sirachi mayo that came with my chicken tenders just to make it edible.

Although I think I would take no flavor over the flavor I’ll lovingly call “WTF” that was all over my tenders. The chicken was spicy, sure – as Nashville hot chicken should be, duh – but the initial taste was more like a vinegary floury … mess.

Because that’s what you want in a product description, no?

I couldn’t even eat them.

Thank god for the smallest bowl of lettuce ever and a crapton of tater tots, I guess. Dinner of champions.

Cassi’s chicken was much better, which was strange because, well, essentially it was supposed to be pretty much the same thing as what I ordered. Hmmm. We eventually deduced that hers came with sauce on it and mine came with the sauce on the side, so perhaps the five alarm fire hot sauce was just masking the initial taste?

The only salvageable thing for me was the white peach margarita I had, although the amount of sugar in it probably equals about 75 candy bars.

Overall I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we won’t be returning to the Erie St Kitchen. I mean we could basically get the same service if we go get takeout and bring it back to our own kitchen to eat. And at least then there’s also ingredients there to doctor it up when it’s not edible too.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph