WTGW 6/29/16: Revisit – The Big Dog, Ravenna

Standard

Once upon a time, we went to a place in Ravenna with an amazing patio and insanely cheap wings on Wednesday nights. And ever since that time we’ve been saying we need to go back to this establishment at some point to see if it’s really still that good, or if maybe the stars just aligned and we happened to visit on a good night, or if maybe we all just drank way too many beers that particular night and beer-googled ourselves a fantastic evening.

You laugh, but I think that happens far more than we realize at the time.

Fast forward to a few months ago, in the midst of our professional-and-medically-induced hiatus, when we received a comment on the blog from Greg, a gentleman who is affiliated with The Big Dog in Ravenna. He read our review from a few years back, and invited us to return to see some of the changes they’ve made (namely a brighter, less scary interior and a more open bar area on the patio – which was already pretty great to begin with). And hence the idea came that we should dedicate at least a few WTGW trips to revisiting those that we once put at the top of the favorites list, to see if they’re still deserving of the placement.

And so, on a gorgeous summer Wednesday evening, we figured why not return to what we’ve always considered to be one of the best patio picks of all WTGW time?

Exactly.

Plus Greg was kind enough to confirm for us that they do indeed still have the 10 cent wings on Wednesdays, so as you can imagine it didn’t take much arm twisting to get us back on the road to Ravenna.

Once we arrived, we found the parking lot still as busy as it had been that day we first visited – and although we still didn’t have trouble finding an open spot, we were still slightly nervous to walk onto the patio in search of a table, as we figured it would be packed.  But luck was on our side, and we easily spotted a table for three off in the corner.

Side note: oddly enough, all of our food runners throughout the night would have a more difficult time located said table than we did finding it in the first place. But whatevs.

So Greg wasn’t lying – the outdoor bar is definitely larger and more open. It’s less like you’re walking up to the side of a shed to order your food and drinks, and more like a real bar. With TVs and everything. *gasp* Although we noticed later – like as the sun started to set later – that they still haven’t installed any more lighting on the patio. So lucky for us it doesn’t get dark in this part of the world until like 10PM at this time of year … but not sure how we feel about returning toward the end of the summer when that time frame starts to move forward considerably.

But back to the plus side – bigger bar means better beer selection, so Ted didn’t have to suffer through another Miller Lite with his wings this time around. Horray! They still have the rule of needing to purchase one beer for every 10 wings ordered in order to get the 10 cent price on Wednesdays … which, again, twist our arms. Hell, we’ll even buy beers when we aren’t ordering more wings!

Just call us rebels.

So this time around Ted opted for Loginitos IPA on draft. And Shane and I got tall cans of Summer Shandy.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Ted not drinking Miller Lite

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Summer at its best

Speaking of rules. So we noticed that they have them printed on a card on the table – primarily that none of the daily food specials are available to-go. And by to-go, they mean no food leaves the premises. Period. So no doggie bags. In fact, they even claim that taking home leftover wings on Wednesdays will get you banned for life. Wait, what? That’s kind of harsh.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

The fine print. Literally.

But regardless, we weren’t in the mood to test it – because, well, if we haven’t mentioned before, we actually like this place.

OK, so this post could also be titled “the time three people went out to dinner and ended up with 70 wings at their table.” Stop laughing. I mean, have you not learned that we like food yet? Especially when Hungry Shane is out with us, and there’s a hella long wait for food. Now granted we were prepared for the wait – both in the comments from Greg on this blog, and also in the signage on the table (the same place that warned us of banishment if we took said wings home). So Shane’s first wings hadn’t even arrived yet, and he already decided we (ahem, HE) should order 20 more.

Keep in mind he had ordered 20 the first time. And I got 10. And Ted got 20. So, yeah, it’s logical that we needed 20 more. Right.

Oh yeah, and a basket of fries and an order of pepper jack bites. Because, more food. Jesus. I think I gained 10 pounds just typing all that out again. We seriously are tempting the fates of the cholesterol gods every single time we go out on a Wednesday night.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Fried food. Because the wings weren’t enough.

So here’s what we got: Shane’s original wing order was 10 salt & vinegar, and 10 dry rub ranch; my 10 were the chipotle chili pepper; and Ted’s were 10 mango habenero and 10 spicy garlic. And then the additional 20 were 10 Jamaican Jerk and 10 sweet red chili.

Got all that?

At least the two apps – fries and cheese bites – came out way before any of the wings. Which pacified Hungry Shane for a bit. But, I mean, not enough that he didn’t still go order the extra 20 wings after that food was gone and he continued to wait for his original order.

At least he tried to rationalize it with “what’s the worst that happens? We only eat 4 wings out of the 20? And we’re out what, $1.60?”

Well, when you put it that way … I mean, we’ll just try not to think of the starving children in Africa as we toss baskets of perfectly good wings into the trash and all. No biggie.

As far as the apps go, the cheese bites were good, but I thought the fries could’ve used some salt. And before anyone gets lippy on me – yes, I looked on the table. And no there was none available.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Also known as: the only thing that kept Shane from starving to death

Now if I’d have held out – or, rather, wrestled some of the fries away from Hungry Shane’s grip and saved them for about another hour – I could’ve found some salt when Shane’s wings finally arrived at the table. We were all slightly surprised to discover that the salt & vinegar wings were apparently “some assembly requried” – as they arrived with about 30 packets of salt, and a little plastic cup of vinegar. Which is odd enough in itself, but even more so when we re-consulted the menu and found those wing were supposed to be a dry rub. Hmm.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Salt & Vinegar wings

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Wing chef Shane in action

Ironically, though, those wings turned out to be one of the best we ordered, at least from the first batch of 50 that hit our table. The other winners were Ted’s mango habenero, which turned out to me more sweet than hot. If you order that same flavor in other places like BW3 or Quaker Steak, you can’t feel your mouth after a few. At least that’s what I’ve been told – because I’ve never had one at one of those joints. Call me crazy, but I don’t care for the feeling of sweating just from ingesting seasoning. But I tried a few of Ted’s, and could eat them easily – so you know there wasn’t much heat to them at all. Not that that’s a bad thing – just different from other places, and something to keep in mind when ordering.

That being said, my original 10 wings (chipotle) were probably the spiciest of the bunch, but the odd thing was that you didn’t necessarily taste the heat as you were eating them. They kind of tasted burnt. But then afterwards your mouth kinda warmed up. It’s like starting out with a little campfire, which you can manage, and then suddenly some a-hole walks past and pours a gallon of gasoline over top of it. And then, poof, it’s a forest fire.

As far as the other flavors, Ted said the spicy garlic weren’t really spicy, just garlicky. But he still liked them. And Shane’s dry rub ranch was not a big hit.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Wonder what kind those are?

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Dry ranch wings. Or just dry wings. Whatevs

Ironically the last two batches we ordered were perhaps the biggest winners of the night, at least to Ted and I. They had just the right amount of heat, and great flavor. Ted ranked all the wings he tried as Jamaican jerk first, then garlic, then mango and then the sweet chili. I liked the sweet hot chili best, then the mango and then the jerk.

Shane still claimed that he liked the salt & vinegar best … but who knows if he’ll put them together the same way next time? It will be a gamble.

We all agreed that while some of the flavors were good, none of them really had any heat. Ted said the next time he would just ask for the spiciest ones on the menu and then tell them to make them twice as hot.

As far as the award for “majority of wings that could’ve been sent to African children but instead ended up in the trash” – well, that went to the chipotle. I stopped eating them when I realized we had 20 more wings coming, and since I wasn’t really crazy about these ones then I might as well save my appetite for ones that I might like better. Sometimes I’m a smart cookie like that.

The Big Dog REVISIT, 6/29/16

Sorry chipotle wings – you were not our winner tonight

But even so, we were too full to finish them all. Shane commented that Wednesdays are the time to come try all the different flavors – because, really, for 10 cents each it does offer a good chance to experiment, if you can stand the wait. Although then he said that once he found the ones he really liked his plan would be to just order “like, a million of those” – and hence really make the special go further. He’s economical like that, that one.

Which is what makes The Big Dog still one of our favorite WTGW picks. Aside from the gorgeous, spacious patio area – you never leave this place hungry. In fact, I think Shane was about to explode by the time the final 20 wings arrived, and then even more so after he attempted to eat a few of each of them. And the bills were insanely cheap. Ted paid $12 for 20 wings and two draft IPAs. Shane and I had 50 wings, six tall cans of Summer Shandy, and two apps – and our bill was $36.

$36.

For real? I mean, that’s like the cost of one entree and a drink at our last week’s pick.

And that’s why we definitely still wish we lived closer (or they would open another location closer to us, hint hint) so we could come more often. I mean, although this blog may just end up being called “What Wings Did We Order Wednesdays” because I have a feeling we would give up on other places and just end up visiting here about every Wednesday. But we definitely would like to try visiting on another evening, too, since we noticed they have great specials on about every night of the week – $3 half pound burgers on Fridays, $2.50 for three sliders on Tuesdays, $4 Philly cheesesteaks on Saturdays, etc. How can you go wrong? Well, I mean, other than maybe gaining about 50 pounds and perhaps clogging a few arteries … but when has that ever stopped us before. Technicalities.

Are we glad we revisited? Of course (although Shane’s stomach may have not shared that opinion with us the next morning – but that’s his fault, not the establishment’s. Ha)

And will we return again? A resounding yes.

Original visit: 9/3/14

Big Dog Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

WTGW 9/23/15: Prestier Pub, Canton

Standard

Apparently we’re on a Canton kick lately. Hey Cuyahoga Falls peeps, build some new places!

So, fair warning, Prestier Pub is way shady looking from the outside. Like beyond most of the places we’ve visited in the past, and that’s really saying a lot. It’s located at the tail end of a strip plaza (hey, another one! surprise!) that I think has more available spaces than rented ones. And those that are occupied are filled with things like a church (because God preaches best in a former empty storefront), a dollar store (duh, that’s a strip plaza staple) and a place advertising “real human hair extensions” (enough said).

Keepin it classy, Canton.

Plus if you come in the back way – like we did, thanks Google Maps – you’ll be looking at the very side end of the building and not the front of it … which isn’t the best view. Give that a minute to seep in, considering what I just told you about this plaza. We actually drove all the way around the back of the building just to park in the lot out front. I think we’re all feeling fortunate it was still daylight when this part of the adventure occurred.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because as an avid reader of restaurant reviews myself, I felt like I was at least somewhat prepared for these sights upon arrival, just based on what, well, essentially everyone in the known universe (or the Akron/Canton area, whateves) had said about Prestier already. I believe the most common phrase was something to the effect of Prestier being the epitome of dive bar … but that the food was really good, so it was worth the adventure.

I’m not sure we’d all use the words “really good” to describe the meals we had here … but I think we’d all agree that the menu was definitely a surprise compared to what you would think a place like this would serve you. Dive bar usually means bar food: greasy burgers, frozen chicken wings, deep fried anything. Instead we had actual meals. Like pasta with seafood. And garlic bread. And dinner salads.

Hmm.

We sat out on the front patio on our visit – partially because 1.) it seemed pretty packed and non air-conditioned inside the bar, 2.) we weren’t really certain how the whole seat yourself vs wait for a hostess to seat you situation was played out there, and 3.) it was actually nice enough to sit outside. Did you hear that Mother Nature?? It’s mid-September, and we still sat out on a patio. It may have gotten dark about 3.2 seconds after we sat down, and of course there wasn’t much to help illuminate the table other than the giant “OPEN” sign on the door (ambiance, be damned) – but we were still on a patio. So there. Guess we haven’t done that for so long that you forgot that you’re supposed to crap all over us weather-wise on Wednesdays, eh? Ha ha. Tricked ya.

Although, side note, my mention above about the darkness of the patio should be taken into consideration when viewing the photos from this visit. Then again, it kind of just looks like we lived inside of an Instagram filter for the evening. Take that, hipsters.

In any case, whether it was because we essentially sat ourselves out there or because the patio is apparently not commonly used for meals on September evenings after dark, it took a hot minute for our server to come find us. In fact I think Ted actually had to go inside at one point and just alert someone – anyone – that we were, in fact, sitting out there. But once she finally was able to come greet us it was all good from there.

The Harvest Pumpkin Shandy from last week has become the new group favorite, as me, Ted and Amanda all jumped on that as soon as we saw it on the seasonal list. One of us clearly needs to buy stock in Leininkugel Brewing Company. And hard alcohol of some kind, too, as Shane is apparently still in his “sissy drink” phase. Which equated to  two Long Islands (which he swore later were actually whiskey sours) and then a switch to rum and diet. Or just rum. It was hard to say.

We had a special guest with our group this week, Amanda’s boyfriend Jerrid. Who ironically enough actually has a history with our group and the whole WTGW experience, as that’s how the two of them met. I know, right? It’s a story for another time, folks, but let’s just say that if they ever get married I have a strong feeling I know where the reception might be. Ha.

Since we were now a group of five, clearly that was just begging us to order more food. I mean, really. We hardly ever order enough for just us, and now there’s another mouth at the table? For real. I think we miscounted, though, because the sheer number of appetizers alone was probably enough to feed us and half the people gathered around the cool-ass bar inside Prestier. We joked that we probably should just pull another table over near ours and make an appetizer buffet that we could all graze through over the course of the evening.

It’s really too bad that most of the apps and wing orders came out at a different time than the other actual meals or else the picture of the entire table covered in just plates of food would’ve been spectacular. Or sad. Whatever.

Jerrid ordered the Southwest egg rolls, which sounded weird but were actually really good. They were like tiny bean burritos rolled up in a shell and deep fried. So, really, how can you go wrong there?

Tiny fried burritos

Tiny fried burritos

Ted jumped on ordering the calamari, after he nearly fell out of his chair in shock that Shane didn’t do so himself. We all tried some of it, and agreed it was excellent. It definitely had a spicy kick to it, but that just made it better. And the garlic sauce that came with it was equally fantastic – so much so that we made a point to ask what kind of sauce it was.

It's definitely fresh

It’s definitely fresh

Side note – had we waited until the end of our meals, we wouldn’t have had to ask. I’m going to break some glass for everyone reading this: the not-so-secret ingredient in everything at Prestier is garlic. And salt. Or maybe garlic salt. In any case, I’m not sure we had one item this evening that didn’t have garlic of some kind in it.

I kind of feel like there should really be a giant vampire in a red circle with a slash across it on the front door of this place. It seems like a lost marketing opportunity somehow.

The guys all also ordered wings as apps – because, clearly, wings aren’t just enough to be meals on their own anymore. My bad. Plus a dozen wings were only $5.99. Wait, what? Exactly. It’s like they had to order them just on principle after seeing that.

To the same point, Ted ordered two pork chops – because, well, to order just one chop was only $4.00 less than ordering two, so why the hell not? Clearly we need a lot of fancy marketing to encourage this group. His meal came with mashed potatoes and asparagus, all of which he said was really good, but just very salty. See comments above on that one.

Not the presentation you'd expect from a dive bar

Not the presentation you’d expect from a dive bar

Jerrid got a cheeseburger with “all the cheeses.” That’s not actually the name of it, or how it’s prepared … but when the waitress gave him three cheese options to choose from, Jerrid’s response was just “yes.” So if you like cheese, remember that’s apparently an option.

All the cheeses, please

All the cheeses, please

Also, Jerrid is essentially the exact opposite of Ted. It’s like finding your reverse doppleganger.

Amanda and I were both a bit ready to take a break from burgers and wings and all things deep fried, and went the pasta route this week. I had the Seafood Pasta in the olive oil (not creamy) sauce. Which was good, but almost had too much going on in one dish. Two big pieces of shrimp, 4 or 5 mussels, scallops, large mushrooms, spinach … and of course pasta. Because nothing in that list sounds filling at all, thanks. Amanda also was pushing the last remnants of her meal – the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken – around her plate for a while, trying to find room to fit it all into her stomach.

Seafood extravaganza

Seafood extravaganza

You know what we did leave on our plates, though? The full cloves of garlic. It only takes biting into one of those once to realize you want to do your best to avoid that experience again. Which, as mentioned previously, is easier said than done in this particular establishment.

Cooked with love. And garlic

Cooked with love. And garlic

Shane took advantage of some of the group’s previously mentioned mad review-reading skills, and ordered the full rack of ribs off the “specials” menu. Because, in addition to warning us on the shadiness of the place, everything we read in advance also said that if the ribs were available on special, you should definitely order them. And, knowing Shane, you know that ordering ribs doesn’t require much arm twisting. So there’s that. They came with two sides, so he got the garlic mashed potatoes and the garlic toast. Which really could’ve just been called “mashed potatoes” and “toast,” because I think at this point the garlic is just implied in everything.

No, that's not a smoker's lung

No, that’s not a smoker’s lung

Also, his wing flavor from his appetizer? Honey garlic. Which was completely gross. I mean, he still powered through – this is WTGW after all, we don’t waste food. But still. Enough already. There’s a nearby garlic farm somewhere that stays well in business just from this place alone. 

Honey + garlic = no thank you

Honey + garlic = no thank you

So all in all, Prestier isn’t horrible. I mean, on our rating scale, it’s definitely no Gus’ Chalet. But it’s also not up to what the 4.5 – 5-star ratings we saw on the other reviews would imply.  While it’s definitely a nice change to be able to get more “dinner-ish” type meals than sandwiches and fries – especially at a dive bar – it wasn’t something any of us were running back to rave to our friends about, either. And the novelty of ordering meals like that in a place like this will really only get you so far if the actual food quality isn’t there. Wings aside, some of the meals – particularly my pasta dish, and basically anything involving seafood – were really a bit pricey, especially considering the atmosphere. Also, our bottles of beer were warm – and while she did realize this and bring us cold glasses with the first round, those glasses weren’t replenished along with the new (still warm) bottles. I’d have to say that even if I found myself in this area again – which, I mean, let’s be honest, unless I have a sudden desire to invest in some “real hair extensions,” is probably a resounding not-a-chance-in-hell – I’m not sure this would be the first name to come to mind on my list of must re-visits.

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane. And the infamous “OPEN” sign lighting the patio

Ted

Ted, whose thumb blends into his shirt

Amanda

Amanda

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  If warm seasonal beer and mixed drinks that may or may not be what you actually ordered are your thing, then you’re in the right place. 
Food:
Vampires beware. And whatever is repulsed by salt. Those may be the only two spices this place owns.
Service: OK. I mean, yes, we did kind of seat ourselves. And I realize the patio isn’t all that appealing after dark. But to say we felt ignored at first would be an understatement.
Overall: I’m puzzled at how this place gets decent reviews. While I’ll admit it was different getting real meals in a dive bar atmosphere, that novelty doesn’t appeal enough to any of us to warrant a return trip.

Next Pick:  Amanda

WTGW 8/5/15: TD’s Tailgate Grille, North Canton

Standard

When I announced TD’s Tailgate Grille as my pick, everyone on the crew audibly groaned … not because they had heard it was awful, but conversely because it was on their list of possible picks, too. Ha ha, beat ya to it.

(I guess after two years of doing this, we’re all starting to get the eye for potential good picks. We’ve learned from you, dear old Gus’s Chalet.)

Anyway, I chose the North Canton location for this week – which I guess then technically leaves the actual Canton restaurant for another pick down the road. I’m looking at you, Ted. I’m sure you’ll claim it eventually. (*ahem* Ray’s Place *ahem* Bricco)

The place itself is rather unassuming as you walk up, tucked into a small strip plaza next to some juice bar. The website had boasted about their patio, which we were all looking forward to checking out.

Shane: is this the “great patio” you’re referring to? (as we approach the front of the restaurant and there’s like three small wrought iron tables and chairs positioned more as decoration than actual seating options).

Smart ass.

Turns out the real patio, located at the back of the restaurant, actually is pretty darn nice. So naturally that meant all of the tables were full – shocker, being that it was a gorgeous evening out. Thank you for playing nice, Mother Nature. We should do this more often. Really.

We opted for some open seats at the outdoor bar on the edge of the patio facing into the restaurant – and that ended up being perfect. Well … except for the bartender, who clearly missed the day in bartending school where they teach customer interaction. I bet he skated into this job thinking it would be all just preparing drinks for the servers, and they would do all the talking to the actual customers. Whoops. Sorry, buddy. Shane joked that up until a few days ago this guy had probably been like a banker or night shift worker in a back warehouse somewhere – anything that he could do solitarily and without talking. Or using a cash register, apparently, as he seemed a little lost on that end as well.

It would’ve been comical, if we weren’t often irritated by empty glasses.

Anyway, when we actually did have drinks, it was Summer Shandy for us girls (we’re drinking outside near a patio, after all). Shane was thrilled to find the Shock Top summer beer on draft, and Ted went for the Founders.

Because we were sitting at the bar, of course Ted made friends right away. Because that’s apparently how this group rolls. We’re like new people magnets when we sit in a row at a bar. I guess there could be worse things, right?

This time our new friend was some guy who is a regular at TD’s and also works next door – so that actually proved to be helpful as we were trying to decide what to order. Shane kept attempting to inconspicuously whisper to Ted (who was sitting all the way at the other end of the row of us) to ask his new friend about items on the menu. Eventually the guy was like, “you know I can hear you, right?” Yes, but he prefers to use Ted as his translator, thanks.

Ted ordered the zucchini planks for an app, which he said was good. The dipping sauce was particularly good, although we couldn’t agree on what exactly it was made of. That’s always a good sign, no? Ted likened it to the sauce you get with a bloomin’ onion at Outback. Shane thought it was more like tarter sauce. Which of course brought up Gus’s for the 1,846, 904th time of our WTGW existence, as we throught wistfully of the tarter sauce appetizer we were unknowingly served there.

Ted: if only this sauce was on bread and toasted, then we’d know for sure is it’s tarter or not.

Ah, memories.

Wait, there's cheese on those - is that allowed?

Wait, there’s cheese on those – is that allowed?

Meanwhile, Shane and I continued our quest for the perfect homemade French onion chip dip by splitting the chips and dip app. It was good, but not really a large portion and definitely not intended to be shareable if you’re as hungry as we were. Shane also commented that the dip was a lot like the kind he concocts at home when we’re out of the “real” stuff. But at least it was better than the time we ordered it at The Lockview in Akron and were given an actual plastic container of Lawson’s chip dip. Like from the store. Like they didn’t even scoop it into a serving bowl and pretend they made it themselves. For real.

I’m still tempted to go back to The Lockview sometime and order it again, just to see if that’s truly how they serve it or if they just ran out of it that night and were sending servers down the street to buy small containers on the fly. The curiousity is killing me.

This seems so fancy

This seems so fancy

For meals, I got the mushrooms Swiss burger with fries. It was good, very moist and prepared correctly – although they were a little skimpy with the mushrooms. When it’s in the name of the burger, you might want to include more than two. Just sayin. Also, the French fries were hand dipped in batter and then fried – which, I’m not sure who started this little trend but I have to say I’m not a fan. Or at least wish they would indicate it on the menu somehow before you choose it.  I mean, not that it’s not good … but sometimes I like to find ways to shave off a few hundred calories from an already unhealthy dish, thanks.

A nutritionist's nightmare

A nutritionist’s nightmare

Shane got one pound of the mango habenero wings – which, FYI (or if you’re just curious), one pound works out to about 6-8 wings. Our extremely unpersonable bartender/server was not at all thrilled to have to answer when we asked about this, so I share this here so that it might save you from actually having to ask him and force him to communicate with you. You’re welcome.

Bucket o'chicken

Bucket o’chicken

My lovely husband also ordered the Philly mac & cheese – because, well, if case you haven’t noticed, boys eat two meals in this group. They have several flavors of mac & cheese at TD’s – all of which looked really delicious. He picked the Philly over the Reuben after Ted’s new friend heard his loud whispers about “ask him which is better” and recommended that one. And he was happy with the choice. Although – and I agree with him just from seeing the dish – the portions seemed really small, especially for that being one of their specialties there.

Cheese

Cheese

Ted also took the word of the new guy and chose another specialty of the place, the fish tacos. This is, I guess, what TD’s is “famous” for … which seems an odd thing for a sports bar, but whatevs. He also joined the wing parade and went with a pound of hot wings. He was happy with his meals. He said the tacos were good – “but not as good as Hooter’s.”

There’s a joke in there somewhere.

Fish & chicken

Fish & chicken

Amanda opted for her usual staple, the Cuban sandwich. Which required some confusing assembly when it first arrived, but once that was over she said it was delicious and actually up there at the top of her list. It was served on garlic toast, which was a nice change. It was also very moist, unlike the last Cuban she had.

Again, there’s another joke in there somewhere. I’ll let you all work these out for yourselves.

Pre-assembled

Pre-assembled

Unfortunately, even with apps and double meals, the guys were still hungry at the end of the night. Us girls, not so much. I’m not sure what that says about this group or our ordering capabilities.

In light of that, and the fact that Ted had just celebrated a birthday, we made it a WTGW first by adding a dessert course to our meal this evening. Well, OK, technically you could count the funnel cake fries we’ve ordered a few times now as desserts – but I don’t, and it’s my blog, so there you go. Ted requested the bread pudding as his birthday dessert of choice, although he immediately realized his mistake when we shared with him the order of fried cookie dough bites that we picked.

Let me say that again, slowly, in case you missed it.

Fried. Cookie. Dough. Bites.

Fried balls of deliciousness

Fried balls of deliciousness

It was better before he tried the fried cookie dough

It was better before he tried the fried cookie dough

That alone was the staple of the evening. I mean, everything else was great, too (well, except for Grumpy Gus the Bartender) – but that dish alone is enough to make me want to make the drive back to North Canton again, like, tomorrow. And the next day. And the one after that. Do you think we can get them to start a delivery service?

Ted:  I could come back here and just get like five orders of that as my dinner.

Yes.

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

Amanda

Amanda

Fuzzy Ted

Fuzzy Ted

Sleepy Ted

Sleepy Ted

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  Quite a bit on draft, especially seasonals. They had a few mixed drinks on the menu that sounded good as well.  
Food:
Good, although portion sizes seemed a bit small. But then again tha means you can save room for dessert – which, trust us, you’ll want to do. Just don’t be Ted and pick something that isn’t fried cookie dough bites.
Service: I’m not sure our bartender got the memo that you actually do need to talk to people in this career path. Ignored our empty glasses for a bit, and wasn’t at all personable. It was like the bouncer was filling in for the bartending staff for the night.
Overall: Great patio, good drinks and food – we’ll definitely be back. Can you open a Cuyahoga Falls location that looks exactly like this one?

Next Pick:  Amanda

 
TD's Tailgate Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 7/15/15: Eldorado’s Pizza Pub, Kent

Standard

So, we’re back in Kent, and it’s a place Ted hasn’t been to or picked yet. What’s this all about?

Honestly, Eldorado’s has been on both Amanda and Shane’s radar for a bit now – but neither of them wanted to pick it because they weren’t sure exactly where it was located. Until last week, as we were driving to Mike’s and Shane spotted it on a side street, tucked behind a gas station. Because that shouts slightly shady, but OK.

Let me clarify, Eldorado actually not shady at all – but at first glance, I can see how one would get that impression.

Anyway.

This time of year there’s a lot of places running these “Christmas in July” specials, and Eldorado’s is no exception. Which means that of course Ted went with the Christmas Ale on special. Just as predictably, Amanda and I ordered Summer Shandy. And Shane was elated to find a bar serving the Shock Top Summer Shandy, which he swears is better than the Leinenkugel that us girls enjoy so much.

And that, my friends, is what you call a group of happy alcoholics.

Eldorado’s is known for their stromboli, which definitely sounded delicious, so that’s the direction Amanda and I went with our orders. I got the meatball (Italian meatballs and provolone cheese), and Amanda ordered the All-American (pepperoni and sausage with shredded cheese). I’m not really sure how the cheese thing was different, except that mine seemed to have sauce on the inside of it, too. Which they didn’t mention on the menu. And was slightly weird – not to mention unfortunate for me since I don’t really care for sauce as much. Amanda’s on the other hand had more cheese and no sauce inside. So basically we should’ve swapped.

And not that we couldn’t have done so. Because – and here’s our PSA on this place … portions are HUGE, particularly for the stromboli. When you look at the menu, the size options are small, large, and extra large. Seems normal, no?

For the love of all things holy, only order the extra large if you intend to feed half the population of a small country. Or you want to be the poster child for the word “gluttonous.” Because Amanda and I each ordered a large size – one size smaller than the extra large – and I think just one of our meals would’ve been enough to feed the entire table. Well, if the entire table was just four people like me and Amanda anyway. Or maybe one Ted, or one Shane. You get the idea. Freaking huge.

It doesn't look so big until you realize that plate underneath is like 2ft across

It doesn’t look so big until you realize that plate underneath is like 2ft across

I mean, it’s embarrassing when for once the guys had less food on their side of the table. Yeah. For real.

Also embarrassing: seeing the two ladies at the table next to us sharing one small pizza, and then leaving with leftovers. Thanks for that.

Ted got the Wednesday special of a $5.00 small one item pizza. He chose pepperoni for his one item. And then he ordered a meatball sub – you know, on the side. Right. Because that’s what people order as a “side,” Ted. At least he passed on the fries.

That's a whole lot of cheese there, Ted

That’s a whole lot of cheese there, Ted

Reminder: he still had less food in front of him than either Amanda or me.

Shane ordered a NY style pizza with pepperoni, sausage and hot peppers. He was hoping to get a 16 inch, but was told that the NY style only comes in 12 inch. You could see obvious disappointment when the server informed him of this.

The entire table: Oh, that won’t be nearly enough food for you.

Needless to say, we kept a menu in case he needed to supplement his order later.

Meanwhile, on Shane's plate ...

Meanwhile, on Shane’s plate …

Our server – who was also the bartender – was seemingly shocked by the shear amount of food that would be arriving at our table shortly: “Boy, you’re all hungry, aren’t you?”

Now, in all fairness, she could’ve warned me and Amanda about the size of the stromboli. But I’m sure it was more fun for her to laugh at us from behind the bar. So, once again, thanks for that.

Luckily Shane never had to order more food, as I had enough stromboli to feed, well, everyone in the bar. I think Amanda and I made it through about a quarter of each of our meals before throwing in the towel. Which, honestly, was probably still a lesser portion than what the small size of that particular food works out to be, but whatever. It was really tasty, but just a lot of food. Even with Shane’s help, I think I’ll still be eating leftovers until next WTGW.

Hopefully Ted doesn’t pick Italian next week.

Seriously. How many cows were involved in the making of the cheese that went on this?

Seriously. How many cows were involved in the making of the cheese that went on this?

Amanda joked that she was so hungry she was going to eat all of it … ala the Merchant challenge from a while back – but backed down once money was put on the table. Smart woman. We also of course had to bring up the Belleria trip and how the boys ordered entire sheet pizzas each, and our friend and guest diner for the evening, Jenny, was utterly embarrassed to be seen with us.

Good times.

Shane thought the pizza was excellent. The sauce was sweet, which is right up his alley. He joked that since Ted works in Kent a lot he’ll need to start a delivery service just from this place to our house after work.

Ted, meanwhile, was busy for a bit picking off all of the cheese he forgot to request not be put onto his meatball sub. I think he’s been ordering the meatball splash sub at the aforementioned Belleria for so long now that he’s clearly forgotten that he actually has to specify. Once that task was finished, he got to work double-fisting the meatball sub and slices of pizza. Because why finish one first when you can mix flavors like that?

But he said they were both delicious, so the strategy must’ve worked.

All in all, the atmosphere was good at Eldorado’s, and other than the slight judgement we might’ve gotten for our food gluttony, we never felt like outsiders or newbies in a “regulars-only” kind of place. Our server was very nice, and very much on top of service – especially considering it was only her behind the bar to deal with bar patrons, table and patio … and people like us who clearly misunderstand portion sizes and make her carry party-sized platters out of the kitchen to our tables.

The music selection was somewhat of an enigma to us, though … it started with country (OK), then eventually we heard 80’s rock (still up our alley), then Lionel Ritchie (wait, what?), then something resembling show tunes (um, you’re losing us), then back to country. If one person was controlling those selections I think they might want to seek help for multiple personality disorder.

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Um, Shane?  I don't know what symbol that is.

Um, Shane? I don’t know what symbol that is.

Take two. Your guess is as good as mine.

Take two. Your guess is as good as mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  Decent draft selection, especially for a smaller bar. 
Food:
 It’s all Italian fare, so if you’re not in the mood for sauce and cheese it’s probably best to move on. And if I haven’t mentioned it enough already, the portions are huge. So come hungry. Or bring 20 of your closest friends. Whatever.
Service:  Very good. We appreciated her not openly mocking us for the amount of food that ended up on our table, and for keeping the beer coming to help us wash it down.
Overall: We’ll definitely be back, or at the very least requesting Ted pick up carry out orders before he returns home from the jobsite.

Next Pick:  Ted

 

Click to add a blog post for Eldorado's Pizza & Sports Bar on Zomato

WTGW 7/8/15: Mike’s Place, Kent

Standard

What can you really say about a place that has an X-wing fighter sitting outside the front door, an old trolley car on the patio and sections of the building that look like they were just kind of dropped in the same area by a tornado and then fused together Frankenstein-style by some architect mad scientist?

Um, that it’s awesome.

I feel like we're walking into a cartoon

I feel like we’re walking into a cartoon

Mike’s Place is pretty much legend – wait for it – ary to the Kent area, especially to those that went to college there. But since that excludes all but one of us, that’s probably how we went this long without discovering it. And even though one of us had technically been there like 700 times before, it was still a safe WTGW choice … because we all know Ted’s long-time affiliation with the area grants him a pass, as long as he isn’t the one who actually picks the place.

Hey, they’re our rules, get over it.

In any case, I checked in at Mike’s on Facebook and immediately heard from friends who had gone to Kent and hadn’t been back in years, wondering how the placed had changed (or not). From the reactions as I posted pictures, the majority seemed to think it’s pretty much remained the same.

Which, let me say again, is pretty much awesome.

So, the first thing you’ll notice as you settle into your seat at Mike’s: there’s a lot to look at. Like, a lot. No really. It’s like a Ruby Tuesday’s on steroids. I never knew there were enough nails in the world to put up this many wall decorations.

The second thing you notice: they like words. Maybe more than they like unique wall decorations. The menu is just a tad overwhelming. I mean, honestly, I think I’ve seen college textbooks that are smaller than this menu.  Or short stories. Or books of poetry. Seriously. Although I can only imagine how much larger the menu would be if they hadn’t used the absolute smallest font imaginable and probably permissible by printing standards to write the entire thing. I mean, for real. It’s like they’re trying to fit a novel on a postage stamp here.

Words. So. Many. Words.

Words. So. Many. Words.

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad – but still, I think the entire table – well, except Ted, of course, who had probably just been there for lunch like three days ago – spent about a half hour flipping and turning and reading. Because the awkward sound of pages turning as we all search in silence for something delicious to jump off the menu at us is a fun dinner game.

Luckily they must get this a lot, as the waitress gave us plenty of time to study the menu once she heard we were newbies. But for real, if you’re craving something and you can’t find it on the menu, chances are it doesn’t really exist. And you probably shouldn’t eat out that often. 

So we decide on meals, the server takes our menus, and I think we’re all done with the required reading for the day … and then I see these on the table …

Oh, look, more words

Oh, look, more words

The place mats are also full of words. For real, when do we stop reading??? My head hurts.

Trying to remedy that with alcohol wasn’t an easy task at Mike’s, as there wasn’t much of note on the drink list. Especially once they crossed out Summer Shandy, indicating they had run out. Blasphemy. And clearly they were not expecting us. Boo. I ended up with an Angry Orchard, Amanda got a Blue Moon, and Ted had a Murphy’s Stout.

Shane skipped the first round of alcohol (which makes perfect sense seeing as this was one of only like three times ever that I’ve driven on WTGW. Thanks honey.) – but later cracked and ordered a Bloody Mary. He was a bit intimidated by the description on the menu that said it was like a meal, but really when has ordering two or three entrees really deterred him? Exactly.

We got pretzel sticks for an appetizer. Or, as Shane kept referring to them, horse cocks. And maybe it was because Shane insisted on repeating those words, but I wasn’t thrilled with the app. I mean, they were just OK, nothing special. Admittedly I think I’m pretty much over this pretzel-sticks-as-an-appetizer fad that seemed to have blossomed over the last few years. Because, really, they’re just predictable. You can’t screw them up, but you can’t make them interesting either.

But, in any case, they were edible – and once again we were hungry enough to start eating them before I took a pic. Dammit.

Once again, I wasn't fast enough with the camera

Once again, I wasn’t fast enough with the camera

After pretty much just closing my eyes and putting my finger on a spot on the menu because I was tired of reading everything looked good, I ended up with The Roast Beast (roast beef) and a basket of sweet potato fries. It was really good. The sandwich was covered in cheese, so you know Ted hated even sitting across from it – but I liked it that way. And the cinnamon sugar dip for the sweet potato fries was to die for.

I think the picture alone might make  cheese-hater Ted vomit

I think the picture alone might make cheese-hater Ted vomit

Amanda got The Corny Dagwood (corned beef, in case you haven’t found your secret decoder ring yet), which I had been eyeing also. She said it was really good. It was very – although we all detest the use of that word, it was the best one we could come up with to describe it – moist. Yes, bring on the HIMYM references.

"And that was just the first 20 minutes of the show ..."

“And that was just the first 20 minutes of the show …”

Anyway. She got the regular fries and they were good also.

At least it's covering all of the words

At least it’s covering all of the words

Shane had the full rack of ribs. Our server told him he got two sides with his dinner, which discouraged him because he thought he was going to have to wade back into the dictionary of a menu to find his choices. So we joked that if you just say something you want, it’s probably on the list of side dishes, so try that first. Fries and cole slaw, check and check. How did he guess?

He said the ribs were good, and the cole slaw was peppery but not too much so, and also just a touch spicy. Said he could taste “a hint of cilantro.” Thanks Master Chef. At least it wasn’t ginger again.

Meat and sides of choice

Meat and sides of choice

Ted got the AYCE fish. And probably made the cook angry, as he was ordering his next plate every time one arrived at our table. Although we commended him for being so healthy, since he was eating the broiled fish, and as his two sides he chose mashed potatoes and broccoli. What? Where does he think he is? Other than far away from cheese of any kind, that is.

This kind of health food doesn't belong on our table

This kind of health food doesn’t belong on our table

So after three rounds of broiled fish – and a small amount of harassment from the peanut gallery – Ted then decided to mix it up with one round of fried Fish. And that was his downfall. That plate of breaded, battered and deep fried what-might-be-fish-underneath-it-all did him in before he could even get through one piece. We of course joked that that was the only way the cook could get him to stop eating. Well, that, and by scalding the remaining bits of the roof of his mouth into oblivion.

Ted:  “I think they cooked this on the furnace of hell.”

Finally. That healthy stuff was getting old.

Finally. That healthy stuff was getting old.

We had a little scare this evening, as we nearly saw the return of Healthy Shane – who, if you remember from last year – brought the party to a standstill when he tried to avoid burgers, ribs, and basically anything fried on our WTGW outings. We started to get nervous when he didn’t finish all of his fries.

Me: “Who the hell are you?”
Shane: “I’m changing my ways.”
Me: “You’re not bringing back Moderately Healthy Shane, are you? We don’t like him.”

I then reminded him how it felt to sit across from Ted at The Game last year and watch him eat that massive burger with grease dripping down his hands, while Shane essentially ate two different versions of tortilla chips.

He then proceeded to finish off the pretzel sticks and the cinnamon dip that came with my sweet potato fries. So that worked.

All in all Mike’s is a really fun place. After we ate, Ted put on his tour guide hat and showed us the different areas of the restaurant:  the bar area is the inside of the castle,  you can dine in the captain’s quarters of a ship, or inside a bus overlooking the patio.

Which way to go?

Which way to go?

Hey, there's a lady on your boat ...

Hey, there’s a lady on your boat …

Why didn't we use our bus like this?

Why didn’t we use our bus like this?

Inside the boat

Inside the boat

The men's room was "sausages." Clever.

The men’s room was “sausages.” Clever.

Patio, as seen from the bus

Patio, as seen from the bus

Speaking of the patio, it actually looked way fun – but, par for the WTGW course, it was too chilly to get out there this time. Which just means we have to add this one to the list of places to revisit just to see what things are like in a different section of the place. Actually, we joked that we could come back every WTGW for the next year and still never see everything – or order the same thing. I may have to invest in some reading glasses if we’ll be frequenting this place that often.

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  For all the words on the menu, there aren’t nearly enough of them that fall under the “alcoholic” category. Some of the specialty mixed drinks sounded intriguing, though.  
Food:
 Seriously, if it’s not on the menu here, I doubt that it actually exists. Pancakes? Check. Ribs? Check. Pizza? Check. Swordfish? I didn’t see it, but that’s not to say it’s not there and I just didn’t read that far. You get the idea.
Service:  Good. I give her bonus points for actually knowing even 3/4 of that menu and being knowledgeable enough to talk about it. She must be good on exam days.
Overall: Good food, interesting atmosphere, fun place. I feel like everytime you go it could potentially be a completely different experience, just based on where you sit and what you order.

Next Pick:  Amanda

Click to add a blog post for Mike's Place on Zomato

WTGW 7/1/15: Sassy’s Bar & Grille, Twinsburg

Standard

I dare you to think of a place with the name “Sassy’s” and not immediately have your mind conjure up some insanely neon 80’s themed Miami Vice decor. I mean, really, who uses the word sassy anymore? Well, other than us, as we’re teasing Shane about his “feeling all sassy” when he made this pick.

Because we’re 12. I know.

In all honesty, there is a bit of neon inside Sassy’s. Just visiting the website gives you a little taste of that. But it’s not as bad as the Crocker & Tubbs -esque hangout I was sarcastically envisioning. They actually have these cool lights on the floor near the bar that change florescent colors – which, as you can probably already guess, entertained us for far longer than I’m willing to admit here. But the topper on the neon-themed tree was a literal tree outside on the patio, which we noticed as we left was lit with purple Christmas lights.

(Side note: I was about to ask where you would even find those, but then I remembered we have this amazing thing called the internet. Thank you, Google and eBay, for bringing miraculous things such as this right to our fingertips.)

So there’s that.

Amanda and I continued our quest to make sure Summer Shandy is available at every bar in the greater Cleveland/Akron area. Meanwhile Shane returned to his rum and diets, and Ted – after discovering they didn’t have one of the dark beers on tap that he likes – ordered something called a Sierra Nooner. He actually tried a sample, deemed it OK and ordered a tall … then instantly regretted it since it was not really as drinkable as he thought it would be. Interesting.

We ordered the loaded tater tots as an appetizer. And made Ted try them, despite the fact that there’s melted nacho cheese on them. Because we’re the kind of awesome friends you want in your life for sure. He actually dipped his finger in the cheese and declared it “not horrible” – but he also wasn’t tempted to really indulge in the appetizer either, so I guess “not horrible” doesn’t exactly translate to “yes, I’ll have some.” The tots were crispy – probably deep fried, because, you know, that’s how all good bar food is created –  but the toppings were kind of lacking. Other than the sour cream, which they gave us enough of to feed everyone in the bar. Awesome.

Once again we eat before we photograph. Dammit.

Once again we eat before we photograph. Dammit.

Our waitress recommended the wings or the burgers. Because if you know us, you know that definitely helped narrow our choices from “things we’re thinking about getting” to “things we’re STILL thinking about getting.” Thanks for that.

Actually, as we perused the menu, we all took notice that they had funnel cake fries at Sassy’s, and vowed to save room for those. Then Shane orders a the Biker Burger and 10 garlic parm wings, so clearly he’s heeding the whole “save room” thing. Right.

I tried a few of his wings and we both agreed they had little to no flavor. It was almost like they forgot to put the sauce on them. His burger, ordered medium rare as he always does, came out pretty much the exact opposite. Because that’s awesome. But even so, he said it was still in his top five burgers, and that if it had been done correctly it would have been perfect.

Does this look like Top Five material?

Does this look like Top Five material?

(Keep in mind that Shane’s “Top Five” list changes with pretty much every new place we go to, so I’m not sure I’d take that as a glowing recommendation. Just saying.)

Wings, minus the flavor

Wings, minus the flavor

Amanda, meanwhile, ordered the same burger done medium – and it was pinker than Shane’s. I’d give them the benefit of the doubt that they just gave her the wrong burger, except that she ordered different fries and that maybe should’ve tipped them off. Just a thought. She ordered the side of garlic parm waffle fries – which I ordered, too – and at first glance/taste were delicious. In fact, Shane was immediately disappointed he didn’t order those instead of “boring fries.” But then about three fries in, you start to realize that pretty much all you can taste is butter. Like they took a page right out of the Paula Dean cookbook. I had visions of them just soaking whole potatoes in a bathtub of melted butter somewhere in the back room.

Shane: you do realize each of those is like 1,500 calories, right?

So naturally both Amanda and I gave our leftover fries to him. I think we were expecting more like a dry butter rub on them with parm flakes (what other place did we have those at? Hooley House maybe??) – but these were just drenched, like the top pieces of shriveled popcorn when they pump the butter sauce on the tub at the movie theater. Maybe the sauce they put on our fries was really supposed to go on Shane’s wings? Just a thought.

Fries shouldn't glisten like that. Just saying.

Fries shouldn’t glisten like that. Just saying.

I got the caprese burger. It was also overdone for medium, so much so that the edges tasted burnt and I pretty much just picked my way around to eat the middle portion. It was on a ciabatta bun, which we all know is my favorite carb of all time and so of course was delicious. Shane and Amanda also liked the buns their burgers were on, even though they weren’t ciabatta.

I'll take the 5,000 calorie fries please

I’ll take the 5,000 calorie fries please

So, to recap: buns, good … fries, not to much. Moving on.

And then there’s Ted, who ordered a hangover burger and 10 spicy garlic wings. And had to watch as our food comes out, and his doesn’t. I guess the kitchen got backed up, and his order got set behind. Which seems weird, since we’re all at the same table – but I guess that whole separate check thing threw them maybe? Or maybe they ran out of butter after they made our fries and got busy melting 15 more sticks so they forgot about poor Ted?

It’s a mystery to this day.

So then his food finally comes … and lo and behold, there’s cheese on the burger. Which he obviously would’ve asked to have taken off. So, just to sum up Ted’s day: he was late waking up this morning, encountered/mediated arguments all day at work, ended up with a beer he thought he would like but didn’t, wasn’t able to eat the appetizer we ordered because it was coated in cheese, had to wait extra long for his meal while staring at ours, and then had to work to remove parts of it just to make it edible.

**sigh** Clearly the universe was out to get him today.

But he did say that the wings were the only good thing about his entire day. So you can file that recommendation right next to Shane’s “Top Five” pick, I guess.

Before he dissected it

Before he dissected it

Wings, with flavor

Wings, with flavor

After letting our meals settle through another round of drinks and conversation, we did in fact order the funnel cake fries before we left. And they were very good- I mean, really, if you screw those up there’s pretty  much no hope for you – although they did lack any sort of dip, so The Basement still holds the title for best funnel cake fries within the WTGW crowd. I’m still dreaming of that caramel sauce. But at least they didn’t offer us buttery anything with the funnel cake fries, so I consider that a small victory.

Whoever invented these is a genius.

Whoever invented these is a genius.

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:   A lot of domestics and things like PBR and Miller on draft. Although when Ted asked about dark beer in bottles the waitress almost seemed offended that he implied they didn’t have anything. 
Food:
 It all sounded good on paper … then came out all wrong or not like we thought it would. So there’s that.
Service:  Good. The waitress was also the bartender, and we all know how that can turn quickly – but this time we rarely had to wait on drinks or flag her down to get her attention. Now if only she’d gotten the order right …
Overall: It was like a roller coaster of emotions – nervous about the place before we got there, relief once we got inside and started looking at the menu, disappointment when nothing we ordered was as we imagined. I think overall we’d give it another shot, but we weren’t initially over impressed.

Next Pick:  Steph

Click to add a blog post for Sassy's Bar and Grille on Zomato

WTGW 6/3/15: Tres Potrillos, Fairlawn

Standard

And once again we managed to outsmart Mother Nature for a WTGW adventure. I know, it seems a little silly to be this proud of a chance to sit on a patio, but if you haven’t figured out our ongoing war with Mother Nature by this point in time then clearly you need to start reading this blog more often. She tried tricking us by bringing out the cloud cover while we were waiting for Shane to get home from work so the group could head out, but yet we weren’t deterred. It was like a staring contest. And Mother Nature blinked first, allowing the skies to clear as we were seated and happily eating on the patio. Yes.

And as if that weren’t enough excitement for one week, I’m proud to say this was also the week I also finally got to say that I’ve dined at the place associated with the generic “Mexican Restaurant” sign high above Rt 77 at the Rt 18 exit.

Because who really remembers the name anyway?

Because who really remembers the name anyway?

Clearly it’s been quite a week.

Anyway.

I think I have to be that excited over the little things surrounding this week’s adventure, as Tres Portillas itself didn’t seem to give me much else to talk about. And thank the lord we were able to sit on the patio, as I think that was the most redeeming factor of the entire visit – for me at least. Ouch.

Let’s start with drinks (as if you’d suspect otherwise with this group, right?). Of course we ordered margaritas, because, well, what else do you order at a Mexican place? They didn’t seem to have quite as many flavors to choose from as some of the other Mexican places we’ve been to, but enough for each of us to try something different. I had the mango, Amanda had peach, Shane had raspberry, and Ted ordered the guava. Which I’m still really not sure what flavor that is, but whatever. Ted’s was also the only one served on the rocks, thus proving once again that he just has to continue to be different from the rest of the group.

This photo makes me happy

This photo makes me happy

As does this one

As does this one

I will admit to being intrigued by something called the “Octopus Margarita”on the menu, which apparently is sangria and a lime margarita combined. I know, right? I like sangria. I like margaritas. But the two together? That can either be disastrously gross … or delicious enough to be dangerous.

Regardless, my liver was not up to the challenge this time around. Maybe next time.

We all agreed from the start that it seemed as though our server wasn’t exactly thrilled to see us. Which is always an endearing realization as you sit down for your meal. She also wasn’t exactly fluent in English. Which, hey, I’m all about authenticity at an ethnic restaurant … but after I’m well into a margarita it becomes a little harder to understand normal English, much less broken.

But at least we never felt like she was rushing us out. In fact, I have to believe that the word “rush” didn’t exist in her vocabulary, no matter what language. I would describe her pace as somewhere between a geriatric turtle and a sailboat on a day without wind. Which is extremely helpful when she also insisted on making a separate trip for every. single. thing. we. could. possibly. need.

Trip one: Take drink orders. Walk away.
Trip two: Deliver chips and salsa. Walk away.
Trip three: Bring water. Walk away.
Trip four: Drop off margaritas. Walk away.
Trip five: Oh, hey, did you want to order dinner now? It’s only like a half hour later by this point, no biggie. I’m half surprised she didn’t ask us if we were ready, then walk away for 15 minutes to get a pen and paper.

I mean, I’m no expert in the food service industry, but it seemed to me maybe a few of those trips could’ve been combined, no?

Bonus points for missing the silverware in all of that, too, so we had to ask for it after we got our food. Luckily we were able to flag down another server for that, or else we might still be sitting there staring hungrily at our plates to this day.

So there’s that.

I got the spicy grilled burrito with steak. Which seemed to be neither spicy nor grilled, so clearly that name is super appropriate. But it did have steak in it, so score there, I guess? The chorizo on top of the burrito was I think what was supposed to lend most of the “heat” to the meal, except it actually wasn’t spicy at all. And there seemed to be no sauce covering it either. The rice also had zero flavor – and without even a salt shaker on the table to help me there, I ended up leaving most of that on my plate. So unless my taste buds were just taking the night off, I was not finding this meal to be anything spectacular.

Burrito, side of flavor please

Burrito, side of flavor please

Ted had the carne asada – minus cheese of course, although it didn’t go unnoticed that this was really the first time in the past few weeks that he’s actually had to speak those words of request. He said the meal was just average.

Ted's two week streak of cheese avoidance continues

Ted’s two week streak of cheese avoidance continues

Shane and Amanda both got their usual Mexican restaurant staple, the fajita quesadilla. Can you tell they’re related or what? They both liked their meals, but it was definitely a lot of food, as Amanda was stuffed long before the end of hers. Shane also ordered extra guac for his meal – which in most places would be like a whole cup or small bowl full. But when the meals came out, we quickly realized that “extra” at Tres Portillas kind of just meant that he got two spoonfuls of guac on his plate, compared to the one that Amanda had on hers. Gee, thanks. He finally flagged someone down (again, not our actual server) and asked for a real side of it … which we then noticed on the bill later was an extra charge of $5.00. Ouch. Did they ship the avocados in special just to prepare his side?

"The usual" for the Keefer siblings

“The usual” for the Keefer siblings

BTW, this is "extra" guac.

BTW, this is “extra” guac.

So all in all, I think we decided that the patio was by far the best part of our visit. Well, that, and the completely inappropriate dinner discussion about weights of organs and tumors which led to us discovering that our dear friend Ted has never seen the movie Jerry Maguire. I know, right? It seems impossible.

Anyway, like I said, the patio was well worth the price of admission, and even if you just wanted to enjoy some chips, salsa and $5 guac with some drinks it would be well worth it. It’s quiet (although they do have what looks like a stage for bands) and nice lighting fixtures around. Definitely better than the food in my opinion, but I think I’m the minority on that one, as evidenced by the photos below. Or maybe they all just should’ve stopped at one margarita.

Amanda

Amanda

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:   I’m sure they have drinks other than margaritas – and I believe we passed a full bar on our way to the patio – but we stuck with the tequila. And were not disappointed.
Food:
 Typical Mexican restaurant menu. Although you may want to bring your own salt. Or hot sauce. Or really seasoning of any kind.
Service:  I think we got the server who didn’t expect to get another table this evening. She didn’t seem especially happy to see us, nor did she move very quickly. So that’s always helpful.
Overall: I seemed to be the only one completely unimpressed, although the patio did sway me a little. Maybe.

Next Pick:  Ted

Click to add a blog post for Tres Potrillos on Zomato