WTGW 4/19/17: REVISIT – Blue Willow Lounge, Macedonia

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It’s another “this adventure could’ve gone a totally different way” week here, as Shane originally tried to take us back to PatDees in Northfield for a revisit, but was thwarted by a road closure. Damn you ODOT!

So in a literal last second change up, here we are at the Blue Willow Lounge.

This little hidden gem is tucked away behind a gas station on a slightly-off-the-beaten-path section of Rt 82 (aka not in the land of huge strip plazas a few miles to the west) in Macedonia. Although we noticed since our last visit that the road to access the Blue Willow is now an access street to the highway ramp that was recently moved – so maybe they’re getting a little more attention these days.

Let’s hope so, because it’s well deserved.

We were genuinely surprised at how good this place was the first time we went. After Shane’s claim that the place is the “oldest bar in Macedonia” – something none of us have ever been able to substantiate, by the way – I remember being more than a little concerned for what we might be getting ourselves into. But the Blue Willow ended up having some of the best burgers we’ve ever tasted in our years of WTGW adventures, a fun atmosphere, and outstanding service (especially considering there was essentially one person manning both the bar and the tables) from a server who called Ted a pussy for downsizing his Christmas Ale in the second round.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record from last week, tell me again why we haven’t been back here more often?

Right.

We were happy to hear that Wednesdays are still $5.95 burger nights at the Blue Willow. Although it seems to have morphed from “build your own burger night” to “just pick a burger and we’ll charge you $5.95 for it night.” Maybe we were still living 2.5 years in the past, because we thought we heard a “build your own” option in there when the server was explaining it … but the list of toppings to build from seemed to be invisible on our menus. After flipping it over about 400 times, Ted finally broke down and asked where the toppings were, and the server just kind of gave him the “well, there’s no list, just, you know, whatever you want on your burger.”

Oh, OK, so just pick something that sounds good on a burger and they’ll let you know they have it, then? Perfect. Sounds great. It’s like 20 questions with condiments.

But it didn’t deter us – because, well, “burgers” seems to be a theme for us now. I mean, set aside the fact that it’s the daily special at Blue Willow, between this week and last week we seem to have turned WTGW into a tour of all the burger places we really like but haven’t been back to in ages.

Note to self: I gotta change it up with my next pick.

Anyway.

Ted got the Cajun burger – minus cheese, of course, but with lettuce and tomato. Shane also got the Cajun burger, minus lettuce and tomato – but WITH cheese.

There were more chips on that plate before I took this picture, Honest.

Ignore the crumbs. You’d think we hadn’t eaten for days or that I had to drive across the state to fetch my camera.

They’re like yin and yang, those two. This is why they’re friends.

Not wanting to copy the bromance brothers, I decided to challenge the “build your own” philosophy, with lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese and mushrooms. I think I asked for each of those items as a question, thinking at any moment she could tell me that wasn’t one of the nonexistent options.

You can’t see the toppings, but they’re there.

We all also got the homemade chips, since they were free and the fries were $1.00 more. Ironically, looking back on our first visit, it was the fries that were free and the chips that were $1.00 more. Since they’re both made from potatoes, I’m a little perplexed at the inflationary costs of one versus the other, but whatever.

Because clearly he didn’t trust the size of these burgers like he did Windsor Pub, Ted also got 12 of the Thai wings. Better to be safe than sorry, I guess.

A full meal as an appetizer. Glad to see we’re back to normal around here.

Shane and I also got breaded mushrooms. Of which Shane actually asked me before he ordered them “hey, would you eat some of these if I get them.”

Please. It’s like he hardly knows me.

They’re vegetables, so they’re still considered healthy, right?

We noticed that the food seemed to take a particularly long time to come out after we ordered. Especially considering the place wasn’t by any means packed. I mean, it should be noted that Shane continuously made the “our food is taking FOREVER” observation whilst very hungry, so take that with a grain of salt. But even those of us not about to eat our own arms did think it was a longer than usual wait time.

And when our meals finally did arrive, it was unceremoniously all at once. So much for that whole “appetizer” concept, I guess.

Now, granted there was only one server/bartender working the whole place – the large bar area (which was always very full, almost every seat taken), as well as the tables nearby (not quite as full, but just by location alone still a hassle to have to walk out from behind the bar to check on). But I don’t think it was her fault the food took a while. She was very good, coming out from behind the bar several times to check on us and even telling us to yell at her or do whatever if we needed her attention. But to be brutally honest – and I even said this the last time we were there, years ago – they could really use two people working there on any given night. I mean, the night we were there the bar was pretty full but there were only a few people seated at the tables – I couldn’t imagine if all the tables were full and there was only one person trying to do everything. Again, our server was amazing … but for her sake I wish they would staff a little better.

*exiting soapbox now*

I’m happy to say that the burgers were still as good as we remembered. They’re cooked to order, and very juicy. Shane was a bit upset that they “didn’t crumble like Windsor Pub’s,” – but regardless they still passed his test.

Now that’s a handful of meat.
Wait, what?

Word of warning, they might look small when you first see them on the plate, but they’re actually really thick. They’re tall and thick, not short and flat.

File that under: words I never thought I would utter until I started composing a food blog. Carry on.

I also really liked the homemade chips. They didn’t indicate on the menu that they were homemade, so I was expecting a handful of Lay’s or something similar on my plate with my burger – which made these a nice surprise. They were crunchy but not greasy. The only thing that would’ve made them more perfect is a french onion dip on the side. But if you add that then they would probably not be the “free side” anymore … and the cycle continues. You’re welcome, French fries.

Shane said he wished he would’ve gotten the Willow Classic burger instead of the Cajun. Once he bit into this burger he remembered that wasn’t the same one he got last time and that he wished he’d gotten that one again. But then again he also said he really didn’t taste his food since he was so hungry, so there’s that.

Ted really liked the Thai wings, although with the burger too he only ate about 10 of the 12. For shame. He said his burger was cooked well, but it didn’t really taste Cajun-y. I think he was looking for more of a blackened and seasoned taste. Although he skipped the pepper jack cheese, and we all know that makes a cajun dish, right?

If we have a complaint with the Blue Willow Lounge, it’s that the beer list is a little lacking. Case in point: Ted asked about dark beers … and ended up with a Fat Tire. So I guess “amber” is considered dark in these parts. Noted. Likewise, I asked about ciders, and the only option was Angry Orchard. Which, OK, sure, I guess I should just be happy they at least had something … but I like options, I guess. I’m a girl. Sue me.

Shane went with a rum and diet, and was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t as light in color as it was last week. Or as cheap.

I do appreciate that the server brought us cold glasses with my cider and Ted’s bottled beer. We gave them back to her, though. I mean, we drink out of bottles. We’re not classy folk.

Shane had three rum and diets, and when she came over to ask if he wanted another he answered “no, I’m driving.”

Me: Usually the answer to that is “well, I’m driving, so yes.” What’s happened to us?

All said and done, mine and Shane’s bill for the night was $38. Not too shabby for an app, two fairly large burgers with sides of chips, two ciders and three mixed drinks. In a stroke of irony, the mixed drinks were actually only .50 more than my bottled cider. Lesson learned there, I guess. For the next revisit, of course.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Steph

Ted

Steph

Shane

Blue Willow Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/22/15: Sully’s Irish Pub, Medina

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This week I was late getting to our WTGW destination, thanks to a work happy hour. Because, twist my arm to partake in free alcohol. Right? You know me too well.

In any case, my three counterparts fared on without me until I could get there. I arrived assuming they had already ordered dinner … but alas, they decided to just exist on a diet of appetizers until my arrival. Not that that’s a horrible thing – especially because if you know us, you know by now that we love our appetizers. And we always order more than what we need for a small number of people at the table.

Case in point, they ordered two: the Reuben rolls that came with a side of fries (does that kind of count as another app?) and something called Irish nachos.

We're on a constant search for the best french onion dip

We’re on a constant search for the best french onion dip

By the time I arrived, all that was left was a small corner of the Irish nachos, which threw me for a loop right from the start. Because these are not really nachos at all, but really pieces of fried potato. That are not exactly crispy. And that took me by surprise. I was about to complain about being left with soggy bread (we all know my feelings on that topic, ever since the unfortunate “stick your hand into a sink full of water and come up with a soggy cracker incident” of my youth), but Shane explained that it was really potatoes and not bread, so I shouldn’t be scared. Chivalry at it’s finest, ladies and gentlemen.

No soggy crackers here

No soggy crackers here

Meanwhile, Amanda used that as the opportunity to get in the weekly jab at Gus’s Chalet, and their toast-with-cheese-that-wasn’t-cheese.

Let’s just say that the Irish nachos are a far, far step up from that. But really, what isn’t?

Anyway.

Amanda, Ted and Shane all vouched for the Reuben rolls – and I’ll take their word for it, since not one was left on the table. They said that they had had high hopes for the fries – what with their promise of a homemade French onion dip on the side – but unfortunately they weren’t impressed.

Also unimpressive: the beer list. I get that Sully’s is an Irish place, but they really don’t defer much from that menu at all, so honestly if you don’t like that kind of beer you might find yourself in a bit of a tough spot. Consequently, Amanda was nursing a “it’s not a Summer Shandy” Blue Moon, while Shane decided on his trademark fallback rum and diet. Meanwhile Ted and I ventured to the Irish side and ended up with Guinness and Smithwick’s, respectively.

When it came to dinners, though, we weren’t complaining about the Irish fare. Because who doesn’t love meals that stick to your ribs and sit in your gut for about a day after you eat them? Exactly.

Ted got the Shepherd’s Pie, which he later said was probably one of the best he’s ever had. Along that same lines, I got the chicken pot pie, which was also really good.

Fluffy little pillows of pastry

Fluffy little pillows of pastry

Although I think both of us are now regrowing skin on the roofs of our mouths, thanks to the amount of heat trapped in those little pies. You don’t think it’s that bad, and then – bam – you stick your fork in and steam gushes out like you just unearthed Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park.  I didn’t realize I had ordered my own personal Mt. St. Helen’s, my bad.

Don't open without protective fire gear

Don’t open without protective fire gear

Following the deliciousness of the Reuben rolls, Shane and Amanda both ordered the Reuben sandwiches, thinking that they were about to get more of a good thing. But alas, to quote Shane from the infamous trip to Gus’s: “um, nope.” They said the bread was too dry, which was further complicated by the fact that there was also not enough Swiss cheese, nor enough 1000 Island dressing on the sandwich. I see where things could get better here.

Not as good as the rolled and fried version

Not as good as the rolled and fried version

Trying to fix the situation themselves, they asked for the easiest thing possible: more 1,000 Island. Which they received … in the form of a tiny 2 oz container. OK. Because that helps. About as much as pouring a glass of water on a forest fire. Thanks.

To add fuel to said fire … when we got our bills we realized they were each charged 0.25 for those little containers. Really? Is there a shortage? Are we about to have a 1,000 Island strike, and that’s why there was so little of it on the sandwich in the first place? Because we could’ve stopped at the store and picked up our own bottle on the way. For real.

In any case, that was just the icing on the cake of a rather uneventful and unlively visit, thus solidifying our indecision about returning in the future. The atmosphere was definitely lacking. While I’d be willing to bet that on a Friday or Saturday evening – or of course at times like St. Patrick’s Day – the place is a bit more crowded and jovial … on this night it just seemed blah. We lost our server for a good amount of time when it was nearing time to get the checks, and watched one other server (or maybe it was the bartender?) stand at the edge of the bar eating dinner in full view of the patrons that actually were there. Again, it’s not like the place was packed, and I certainly give you the right to eat dinner at your own establishment – but still. She could see we were looking around for our server, and did nothing to help that. If you’re on break, go in the back. Simple enough. Maybe you can rustle up some more dressing while you’re back there.

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Hey Shane, stop trying to make "turtle" happen

Hey Shane, stop trying to make “turtle” happen

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks:  If you like Irish-themed drinks and beers, you’ll be fine. If you don’t … well, maybe this was a bad choice for you. Might want to make your Guinness-drinking friends happy and just volunteer to the be the DD now. 
Food:
 A good mix of Irish staples, foods with Irish flair, and good old American-ish wraps and burgers. But beware that asking for additional anything will cost you.
Service: Eh. When we saw her she seemed helpful – but then again she was kind of like a mirage so don’t take that to heart as a compliment really.
Overall: What is it with us and Irish pubs lately? We struck out at Hooley House, now this. You would think that a group of people who like food and beer so much would have better luck.

Next Pick:  Shane

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