WTGW 4/4/18: Iron Grill, Akron

Standard

This week I took a chance and picked a place in Shane’s self-professed neighborhood of Ellet. So of course we all crossed our fingers that there would be more than two items on the menu.

Are you sick of that joke yet? Shane sure is.

Despite the giant sign on the side of the main road advertising Iron Grill, the place is a bit challenging to find. We pulled into what we thought was the strip plaza that the sign was advertising, only to discover three other restaurants (that Shane of course instantly declared were “his” and he was picking if they had alcohol – so expect to see those here sometime soon if any of us can actually remember the names of them) … but no Iron Grill. OK. So we pulled back out onto the busy street across four lanes of traffic, only to look over and realize it was around the corner on the other side of the plaza, and that the parking lot could’ve led us there. Oh.

The Iron Grill is … interesting … on the inside. Let’s just say that you don’t usually expect to find chandeliers in an establishment situated at the end of a strip plaza. Or really in this part of town in general. I mean, just a few miles down the road there’s a bar with purple dollar store lamps on every table.

Choose wisely.

The four of us sat in the bar area at a high top meant for six – because, well, you know by now that we order a lot of food. And last week Shane had no place to put his arms, so we took the liberty of spreading out a little this time around.

The first thing that caught our attention (other than the fancy chandeliers) was the impressive list of interesting craft cocktails for only $7.50 each. Keep talking to us, Iron Grill. We’re listening.

And I say listening because reading was rather difficult in some instances, thanks to what appeared to be a low ink cartridge issue at the time of menu printing. Way to mess with people BEFORE they start consuming alcohol. Maybe trade in one of those big lighting fixtures for some new cartridges, no?

Speaking of the menu, can we all just agree that using paper on a clipboard is a trend that should be voted off the island please? It’s like the time we went to The Merchant years ago and the only sound at the table for like 10 minutes was the rustling of pages as we all flipped around furiously trying to figure out our orders. Where did you see that entrée? Flip over the third page … no, wait, that was my third page, yours weren’t in that same order … refer to the yellow paper … oh, you don’t have that one? well, you can borrow mine …

I mean, seriously. It’s like a game of paper Go Fish just to figure out your meal.

Anyway, back to cocktails. So Cassi and Shane ordered the Orange Fire cocktail, which included “house infused jalapeno tequila.” Hmm. Interesting. I got an Iron Grill Sangria, just out of sheer curiousity as to why you would put Jameson in sangria.

Ever the adventurer, Ted got an arrogant bastard beer.

The drinks took long enough to prepare that our server and her trainee shadow (otherwise known as “the person who follows our server around and never utters a word”) could come back over and get our orders before the first round even arrived. That’s highly inconvenient. Did we somehow make our way back to that Mason Jar place in Aurora? Do places not realize that the quicker you provide us with drinks, the more we’re likely to consume, and thus pay for? Unless you’re against making money – in which case perhaps you should take a hard look at your priorities – this seems to be a pretty common sense business model.

You’d also think that after taking half a light year to prepare the drinks, they would at least be correct. *sigh* I guess the universe had an inkling that I wouldn’t enjoy the taste of Jameson in my sangria after all, because my drink arrived as the same order that Cassi and Shane had placed. And because I had been slightly intrigued by that one as well – and also I didn’t want to wait another decade for the bartender to handcraft the correct drink – I just stuck with that one instead of pointing out the mistake.

And it wasn’t awful. I mean, I don’t have the original drink to compare it to, but I wasn’t displeased with this one at all either. We all agreed that our drinks were spicy, but good. Jalapeno infused tequila definitely has a kick to it. I mean, as one would expect.

They had calamari as an app, so of course Shane had to order it, especially after we were denied at the Stowaway a few weeks ago. And, well, we kind of felt like we were denied it here as well, since the dish that appeared in front of us only had about half the amount that one of us would consider an appropriate appetizer portion.

Um, excuse me, why can we still see the plate with a full order?

It looked and smelled great, but overall it was pretty disappointing. The sauce was the same red stuff that you get with an order of egg rolls from the local Chinese take out place.  The sausage mixed in with the calamari was a nice touch and added to the flavor (that’s what she said) but without it we agreed that the dish would’ve been just mediocre, and really nothing different than what we’ve seen other places. In retrospect, maybe it’s a good thing that we didn’t have that much of it after all.

Shane: I expected more of this place.

See what putting chandeliers in your establishment does? Raises the bar, people.

Cassi got the loaded chips, which took forever to come out of the kitchen (do they have the potatoes special delivered fresh from Idaho for every order?) but were well worth it once they finally hit the table.

If you order anything on the menu here, pick these

The chips were crunchy and the toppings added to the overall flavor without just taking over the dish. And unlike the calamari dish, that bowl was seemingly bottomless.

Ted got the hummus, after I declared that I finally managed to change my taste buds somehow and like hummus again after all these years.

Ted – maybe now I own’t get made fun of for ordering it.

Not likely.

So healthy. Is this allowed?

Another nice presentation with the hummus platter. The pita was super soft, like biting into a cloud. And again, far more food than the calamari. Just FYI. I mean, if you’re keeping score.

Hey, remember that time Ted and Shane ordered a steak special on a Wednesday night? No? I’m shocked, because I have to believe it happens at least once a month. Although I’m not sure why they even try anymore, since nothing will seemingly ever beat The Doug Out.

Yes, that is a challenge to all you restaurants out there. Just sayin.

Anyway, Iron Grill has an 8oz steak for $12 with two sides. Not as economical as many of their Wednesday specials … and seemingly not very filling, seeing as Ted was done with his in like two minutes flat. It’s like we all looked down at our own plates for a moment and then looked up and there was Ted setting down his knife and fork on a clean plate.

I think Ted ordered the St. Patrick’s Day special

They also didn’t have a very good selection for the sides to go with the steak. Ted picked brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. Shane got fries, then shocked us all by ordering a side salad as his second option. What are these vegetables that you speak of arriving at our table in front of the guy who loves fried foods? This was new. But he pointed out that all of the other side options were either vegetables, other types or fries or something else potato based. Good point.

I’ll take “things you usually don’t see in front of Shane” for $1000 please

There’s some meat behind those fries. Honest.

Over on the not-dead-cow side of the table, Cassi and I opted for sandwiches. I got the Hot Italian (because that’s just fun to say), and Cassi got the Philly. Both came with fries.

The guys were immediately jealous when our meals arrived because it seemed like a lot more food on the plates than what their steaks and sides were.

We chose correctly

See, this fills a plate. And a belly.

My sandwich was good. Cassi didn’t seem quite as excited about her food, she only ate about half of half of her sandwich and took the rest home. I probably should’ve stopped eating at half of my sandwich, because I was crazy full after eating the entire thing – but it was so good that I didn’t want to put it down.

Word of wisdom, save yourself the extra $2 and just get the regular fries instead of the special “parmesan truffle fries.” I mean, call me crazy, but $2.00 seems a lot to pay for just a shake of parm cheese and some extra seasoning. I mean, for that price you can run to the local Aldi and get a whole container of cheese that you can just throw in your purse and add on your own. Because, let’s face it, it’s not like the wait staff was anywhere nearby to notice those kinds of shenanigans.

Which leads me to what was probably our biggest gripe about the Iron Grill … the service. Everyone on staff seemed to be moving in slow motion. It was like living in one of those stop action films where things get slowed down to a fraction of the pace for effect. We when the server wasn’t near the table they seemed to magically disappear into some mystic portal where they were oblivious to having tables to check on. Seriously, they were nowhere to be found. I mean, I get that our server was also training someone, but that seems to be the exact opposite of how you would want them to learn, no? Like hey, so you have these tables over here but make sure you hide out in the back when you aren’t specifically bringing something to one of them, so that they can’t find you if they need anything. Just don’t be in sight. Be stealthy like that.

Note taken, Iron Grill. With that philosophy, I’m guessing we won’t be in your sight again for a hot minute, either.

Picked by: Steph

Ted

Cassi

Shane

Steph

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WTGW 3/22/17: R Shea’s Brewery / Diamond Deli, Merriman Valley

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We’ve all been itching to try R Shea’s Brewery ever since it opened a year or so ago and we noticed the bevy of cars parked outside pretty much every evening. Always busy usually means the place probably doesn’t suck, right? Plus we know we like beer, and the few craft breweries we’ve visited in the area have been good to us. In particular we know that we love Akron’s Hoppin Frog brewery, and R Shea’s seemed like a nice alternative that wouldn’t involve a 60-minute round trip drive … 30 minutes of which always occurred after ingesting some high potency beers.

See also: reasons why things like Uber were invented.

The one caveat that held us back from trying R Shea’s this long? They didn’t serve food. Other than the occasional food truck we would see parked outside on random evenings. And that seemed to be stretching the WTGW rules just a tad.

But then we heard that they were teaming up with Diamond Deli, a decade-plus downtown Akron institution known for overstuffed sandwiches with creative names, to start serving sammies and select apps at the brewery.

Now we’re talking. Game on.

Apparently it’s a winning combo, as the place is still always busy. Every. Time. We. Drive. By. And as evidenced by our visit, when at 6:45 on a Wednesday night we managed to grab what I have to believe from my brief scan of the room was the last remaining table in the place. Which we then had to steal a chair from the bar to place on the end of just so it could hold all three of us.

If you know us, you know at that point we were already calculating how we would fit the copious amounts of food and beer we were about to order onto this tiny space. I won’t lie, it was tight. But, hey, all those years playing Tetris finally amounted to something I guess.

R Shea’s offers flights of five 6oz beers for $10 – which is a great way to try a few of the 15 or so beers on the list. In fact, we had trouble picking just five each to try. It’s also a great way to get relatively buzzed without meaning to, if you’re like us and forget that most of these beers are, well, a tad bit over the usual Bud Light alcohol percentage.

Beyond that the 13oz stouts and 16oz regular beers are just $5 for a pint, which is still extremely reasonable. And still continuing the “ways to get totally crocked without meaning to and not really discovering you are until you get up to walk to the restroom” experiment.

Not that any of us did that or anything. Just saying.

I took a picture of the beer menu since I knew I would never remember the names, much less the descriptions, of all the beers we tried. Thank you, technology.

Ignore the iPhone shadow. Photo taken for memory and not art.

Shane got the Uncommon Blonde, Orange-Mango Citra Shandy, Towpath Pale Ale, Chocolate Coffee Stout and The Elvis.

My flight started out looking just like Shane’s, with the Uncommon Blonde and Citra Shandy. But then I moved to the the Merriman Mild, Snicker Dude and Pecan Pie Milk Stout.

I actually was stuck on a decision between the Merriman Mild and the Pale Ale, but decided on the Mild because Ted told me it would have more of a coffee taste and be less bitter. Fortunately for him he was right.

Not surprisingly, Ted ignored the lighter beers completely and started off with the Shea’s Irish Red, and then the Belgian Quadrupel, Snicker Dude, The Elvis and Pecan Pie Milk Stout.

My flight at the bottom, Shane’s at the left and Ted’s at the top

So we had some crossover, but we each also got at least one that no one else tried. This is why we’re friends.

Ted told us the proper way to taste a flight is to start with the lightest first and move to the darker ones next. Something to do with the flavor and boldness, and saving the heavier ones for last so as not to ruin your palate.

Taking his words to heart, Shane and I proceeded to take a sip out of each of our five beers at first just to try them. We then worked oppositely – Shane drank the ones he liked best first, while I saved the ones I liked best for last.

Clearly we’re good students.

You’ll probably find this hard to believe, but we all agreed that ALL of the beers we tried were good. I know that sounds like a joke – I mean, come on, we each tried five new beers and there wasn’t ONE any of us wanted to spit out? Honestly, no. Of course we all had our preferences and favorites out of our tasters, but there wasn’t one anyone tried that earned a wrinkled nose and a group search for a drain to pour the glass out into instead of downing it.

Even the darker beers were winners in our books – and “Mr. Bud Light” and I usually don’t go that route. Shane’s favorite was actually not one that he got on his flight, but one that he and Ted ordered full 13oz sizes of after finishing the sample sizes … the weekly rotating beer called the “Lab Rat,” (or, as Shane kept calling it by the end of the evening, the “Family Rodent” – whatevs) which this week was a stout with flavors of chocolate, coconut and lemongrass. It was very smooth, not heavy or bitter at all.

Who knew lemongrass and coconut made a good beer match?

Needless to say, Ted was quite proud.

Ted: A guy who usually orders a Bud Light just enjoyed a stout. This is a great day.

He was less impressed with me, as my faves were the Blonde and the Shandy. Old habits die hard, sorry. I mean, the darker ones were good – and those are not words that come out of my mouth often with regards to craft beers, so that means something. The flavors were unique. But I’m just not sure I could’ve ordered a full 13 oz glass of any one of them. The sample size glasses were perfect for me.

Ted loved the Snicker Dude the best, followed closely by the Elvis. I sampled The Elvis from his flight (I didn’t order it on mine) and it was pretty tasty. I was kind of wishing I’d picked that over my Snicker Dude. But once again I was suckered in by the promising description (cinnamon! sugar! tastes like a cookie!).

I swear the people who write beer descriptions are right up there with meteorologists on the list of jobs that can be wrong 97.5% of the time and yet remain employed.

Because we had such a large table, of course we decided appetizers were in order. Ted got hummus, which came with veggies and pita. He didn’t say much about it – but he finished it, so that must count for something.

I also forgot to take a picture of it, but really, you’ve all seen hummus and vegetables before, so I think we’re OK there. Chill.

Shane and I ordered the pretzels with beer cheese dip, which I have to believe arrived at our table directly via teleportation from the oven, because I think I gave myself second degree burns just trying to pick one up. But it was worth it, because they were delicious. The cheese dip wasn’t as flavorful as I would’ve thought, especially since it’s made with beer from the brewery, but that’s OK because the pretzels alone were tasty enough.

My heaven is filled with hot soft pretzels. Don’t judge.

And it’s a good thing we ordered that appetizer, because it may have saved us from starvation … or, OK, on a less dramatic note, at least utter alcoholic obliteration … while we waited for our actual meals to arrive.

Ted’s sandwich arrived first. He got the “Chad’s Wait Til You Hear This Story” – which if it’s not obvious from the name is corned beef, pastrami, Swiss and spicy mustard on rye.

I mean, you knew that, right? Come on.

You have no idea how long we all stared at this sandwich

And then we waited for our other two sandwiches. My Italian Sub (pretty self explanatory) …

The “I don’t have a real name” Italian sub

and Shane’s Boxty (basically a reuben on a potato pancake).

You definitely need a fork for this one

Maybe it’s because we ordered boring sandwiches without fun names, but somehow mine and Shane’s orders seemed to get lost somewhere. We didn’t really notice it at first – I mean, we were drinking new flavored beers, first of all, so food wasn’t exactly top of mind. And truthfully we were kind of grateful for the chance to finish our apps and move some glasses around before more plates arrived on our itty bitty table.

But like 15 minutes later, we started to think they really had forgotten us. And that finally Ted was getting redemption for last week, when the server clearly hated him. So we asked one of the servers, and sure enough our two tickets had gotten lost. I give R Shea’s a ton of credit – they were super nice about the whole thing, and as soon as they realized what had happened they got our orders in right away, so our food arrived very shortly after. It was truly great customer service.

If it were our server from last week be probably would’ve just blamed Ted for our missing food and walked away.

Our sandwiches were all very good. Make no mistake – the sandwiches may seem simple on paper, but they’re very well done, and enough food to definitely qualify as a meal. Each sandwich came with a small handful of chips – which I have to admit that I was mildly disappointed to see such a small pile of on my plate … until I ate my sandwich and was grateful I hadn’t eaten anything more than what I had. Truthfully I probably should’ve stopped at only eating half my sandwich, because that was filling enough. But, well, I blame the beer for clouding my judgement.

Like we’ve all never used that line before. Probably for worse things than eating half a sandwich.

R Shea’s will definitely be a place we make a return trip to. Partially because the atmosphere, food, beer and people are all great, and partially because they also tweak and add to their beer menu weekly, so while you’re sure to find a favorite on there you can also try something new each time you come in. It’s a place you could do a full meal at, or just stop in for beers and an app – and because the beers are so filling, you’ll still leave happy. The only downside is that if you come at the busiest time you may be standing around for a while awkwardly looking at people who you hope to steal the tables of once they leave … but, hey, you can still have drinks while you do that, so it’s all good in the long run, right?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

To-Go Ted

That’s Shane’s gang sign for “thumbs up times two”

WTGW 7/27/16: Caston & Main Brew Yard, Portage Lakes

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Sorry to desert you last week, but since it was a super nice night out we decided to call a patio audible and opt for a former pick that we knew had good food and a nice outdoor area to enjoy it. Because, well, summer only lasts so long around these parts, people. We have to do what we can to cherish it. Which last week meant a return visit to Delanie’s in Tallmadge, a place we’ve visited several times since our original pick … but oddly enough never tried out the patio. And let’s just say we were not disappointed.

I would’ve done a revisit post, but, well, I think we were all about halfway through our meals before I realized we hadn’t taken any photos. And I know that’s really what you all look at here anyway. Oops.

Anyway, that pushed Ted’s pick for a new spot off to this week, and he actually managed to find a place that neither me nor Shane had even heard of before. Impressive. Apparently it’s a somewhat newer place (opened last fall, I believe) in the Lakes area. In full disclosure, Ted had actually already visited Caston & Main once with another friend of his (yes, we are allowed to have other friends, shush) – but adamantly refused to try any of the food because he wanted to be able to legit pick it as a WTGW choice. Smart man.

I mean, this may seem like all fun and games here, but we do have to keep some rules. Come on.

This place is another of those that either has a deceptively small parking area, or only serves customers that don’t know the meaning of carpooling. Because looking at the packed lot you would think we would’ve had a long wait for a table … but yet when we walked inside there were about 6 or 7 large open tables. Hmm. My smart ass observation was that everyone there must’ve somehow managed to drive two cars to dinner that evening. Which is rather impressive.

So there’s a bar area when you first walk in, but neither Shane nor I really had a chance to actually see it, as Ted made a quick right and beelined it to a table in the dining area. Uh, that’s slightly out of character. Have you met us, Ted? We like bars. Dining rooms are boring. Remember Memories, anyone?

Yeah, we’re trying to forget, too.

But regardless, we knew Ted had been there before, and thought maybe he that made him privy to some special inside info about best seating practices. Yeah, no. I mean, the table was fine, the service was good, once the place started to fill in it never seemed overly packed … but, well, let’s just say that the entertainment provided in the main dining area left something to be desired. A lot of something. Like the ability to hold a regular conversation, think quietly, or ever hear some songs the same way again. I guess Wednesdays are “acoustic night” at Caston & Main … and this little one-man-band electric guitarist that was playing on this particular Wednesday was, well, perhaps deaf. And I’m not saying that so much to be mean as I am to imply that we think he really had no idea how loud his guitar playing actually was. So, like, you know when you go out to eat and there’s music, you kind of want it to be background to your conversation, right? Not this guy. It seemed like the louder everyone talked, the more he upped the volume on the amp, or made some weird screechy sounds with his guitar that I have to believe forced more than a few of my brain cells to spontaneously combust. It was like one of those “anything you can do I can do better” competitions. And the end result was something akin to attempting to maintain a dinner conversation while your neighbor hosts a tractor pull in the backyard. Because that’s way fun.

Needless to say, we relished the few breaks that were taken. And silently cursed Ted for not just picking a seat in the way opposite back corner of the bar.

So there’s that.

Another tip – be sure to bring your reading glasses. Because the beer list for this place is about four pages long. Which amounts to lots of words.

Conversely, the food list is only about two pages. We see your priorities, and we like them.

Always one for choosing a beer with a good name, Ted went with the Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro to start. Bravo. I pretty much just stuck my finger somewhere on the beer list and ended up with the Jackie O’s Razz Wheat. Which came in a really neat glass, so that was a plus.

If it has raspberry puree in it, does it make it healthy?

If it has raspberry puree in it, does it make it healthy?

Where's Amanda and her big purse when you need her?

Where’s Amanda and her big purse when you need her?

But Shane won the drink lottery with the Crabbie’s Raspberry Mule. We were a little worried about his order after our – or rather Ted’s – experience with a “mule” at Burntwood Tavern a few years ago. But looking back maybe Ted was just unfortunate enough to have had an awful bartender that evening who just threw some alcohol in a copper mug and called it a mule. Because by the end of this particular evening at C&M all three of us had switched to the drink Shane picked. Delicious.

Shane and I got the chips and dip as an app. Which did not come in a plastic Lawson’s container – boooo – but was equally as delicious. – yay! I have to think it’s one of the best we’ve tried. Shane said his only complaint was that it was a little too runny, but other than that the taste was great.

No, it didn't come served with a chip imprint in the middle of the dip. Thanks, Shane.

No, it didn’t come served with a chip imprint in the middle of the dip. Thanks, Shane.

Ted got the homemade guac with pita chips for an app. And immediately commented that no one was going to kiss him that night, as it definitely had a lot of onion in it. If it’s not garlic, it’s onion with this group. How we are all still allowed to eat in public is beyond me sometimes. Regardless, he said the guac was still good.

Props for presentation

Props for presentation

For dinner, I got the Hot Italian Sub, with a side salad. I know, I know, first fruit in my beer and now vegetables with my meal? I’m slipping here. But it was all very good. The sandwich was large, but not overwhelming (that’s what she said … oh come on, you know I couldn’t resist) and was toasted just enough to be warm but not at all burnt. Thumbs up.

I'm not sure this is allowed on Wednesdays

I’m not sure this is allowed on Wednesdays

You had me at "soft bread"

You had me at “soft bread”

The guys went with the Wednesday special, which is three sliders for $6. They have a list of options you can choose from, including reuben, BLT, chorizo sausage, meatball, veggie, and chicken salad – and you pick any three of those to make up your $6 meal. Between the two of them they sampled all of the options except one, and I’ll give you one guess as to which one that was that neither of them picked …

Hint: it starts with a “v” and ends with “that sounds too healthy.”

Instead they went all out on the meat train, with Shane ordering the rueben, meatball and chorizo, while Ted decided on the reuben, meatball and BLT. Sometimes they’re so similar it’s almost scary.

Reuben, meatball and BLT

Reuben, meatball and BLT

Reuben, meatball, and chorizo.

Reuben, meatball, and chorizo.

Ted said he liked the BLT slider the best. They both thought the rueben was good, but said it was almost too toasted – Shane claimed to have lost a layer of skin on the roof of his mouth from biting into the crispy bread. Keeping on our theme from last week, Shane also said the chorizo needs more flavor (have they made some changes to this type of meat that we should know about?), and the meatball kinda did too.

But of course they didn’t let that didn’t stop them from ordering more. I mean, come on. We all know by now that one dinner is not enough to fill up our boys.

So for the second round Shane switched out his chorizo for a BLT, and Ted switched out his reuben for a chicken salad.

Hold the phone here … um, what? Chicken salad? Seems an odd choice, right? I mean, aside from the whole bordering on healthy thing, that’s also just not a slider option you see often. Which may be why Ted ordered it. Regardless, he said it was sweeter than anticipated – thanks to raisins in the mix that surprised him – but probably should’ve had a different bread, as it was the same bread from the rueben one he was trying to avoid. Oops.

After round two, Ted was sticking with the BLT as the favorite. And after trying it for himself in that same round, Shane agreed that it was the definite winner. And that, folks, will conclude this week’s unofficial best slider competition.

All in all C&M is a cool little place, with a crapload of alcohol selections and small but definitely delicious menu. The drink list kind of reminded us of what we said about the food menu at Mike’s Place in Kent – you could come back every day for a month and still not try everything on the menu. But hey, we like options, so we’re cool with that. I will say that as far as service, once it got busy we did wait a bit longer for our server to get around to us – but that’s to be expected anywhere they only have one or two people covering the space. Overall I could see us going back.

Well, as long as that guitar guy isn’t there anyway. Can someone new please volunteer to be the entertainment? Maybe Shane could just do this strange little interpretive dance he was doing in the parking lot as we were leaving. We’ll call this “the Mexican Jumping Bean.” I’m just going to leave these right here …

Take one

Take one

Take two

Take two

Take three

Take three

Take four

Take four

Are you laughing yet?

Are you laughing yet?

Is it over?

Take seven billion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final verdict:
Two double thumbs up, and one one up/one down

Shane

Shane

Ted. The thumbs up is for the place and food. The thumbs down is for the music.

Ted. The thumbs up is for the place and food. The thumbs down is for the music.

Steph ... and creepy background Shane. At least he stopped jumping.

Steph … and creepy background Shane. At least he stopped jumping.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane