WTGW 8/21/19: The Ramp, Portage Lakes

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In our next edition of let’s soak up as much of summer as we can before we begin the season in which Mother Nature unleashes her fury of five feet of snow in one hour, we visit The Ramp, a new restaurant on the water in Portage Lakes.

I believe I read somewhere that the marina owners decided to build a new restaurant on their property because they heard people saying there weren’t enough restaurants on that side of the lakes.

But I could also be totally making that up, so don’t quote me on that. I’m blonde. Strange ideas take up residence inside my head sometimes.

Anyway.

Um, I don’t think you’re supposed to park the boat inside the bar

The place was surprisingly not busy considering the location, great patio and fantastic weather. 

I mean, come on. In northeast Ohio, this is about as good as it gets.

I’d also heard from others in the area that conversely there’s a wait list about a mile long to get a table on the weekends, so I guess maybe we are a little bit smart on this whole Wednesday planning deal after all.

WHAT WE ORDERED

In the great Summer Quest for White Claw 2019, this place is in the “yes” category. Score.

We all took one look at the menu and knew Ted was going to order the lamb lollipops for appetizers. I mean, not that he’s predictable or anything, but serve up some sort of meat on a stick and it will definitely makes it’s way to his plate.

He said they were perfect. And that the slaw served with them was spicy AND sweet.

Oh, Gus’ Chalet, you live on in our hearts.

Shane and I got the fried pickles.

They were good. The breading was rather heavy, but in a good way. If you’ve read this blog enough you understand how that makes sense.

Word of warning: the sauce that accompanied the pickles is super spicy. Again, in a good way, but just be advised not to let your drink run dry before taking a bite. It was like eat one pickle with sauce and drink half a beer to make up for it.

Cassi and Jason got the Brussels sprouts.

They weren’t the greatest.

So there’s that.

On the dinner side of things, I got the beer battered cod with baked potato and salad.

Shane got the Reuben with onion rings.

Cassi got the smothered chicken with side salad and baked potato.

Jason got the Reuben with the sidewinder fries.

Ted got the ahi tuna wrap, also with sidewinder fries.

Overall the consensus was that everything was pretty good. The special sidewinder fries were probably the biggest hit of the meal, everyone who tried them gave those a huge thumbs up. It’s hard to describe what makes them so much better than regular fries – I mean, other than the funky shape and all – but I guess you’ll just have to just trust our well traveled taste buds on this one.

Shane said the Panko breading on the onion rings was exceptionally good. And my cod was very tasty also.

The only one who wasn’t quite as happy with his meal was Ted, but basically that was because the wrap just wasn’t as good as his meat-on-a-stick appetizer. Like he should’ve gotten the app as his actual meal, and ordered something else as the app.

And Cassi might’ve enjoyed her baked potato more had she gotten the extra butter she asked the server for about four times.

So, you know, there’s that.

Wait … please tell me someone out there reading this noticed that no one in our group ordered burgers OR wings?!?!? And yes, they were on the menu.

We’re slipping. Might have to go back to the Springfield Tavern just to redeem ourselves.

THE VERDICT

Overall The Ramp isn’t a bad place. You can definitely tell that it hasn’t been open very long and that they’re still working out some of the kinks … you know, like taking an entire meal to bring extra butter or boxes for leftovers, even though there’s only about five other tables filled in the entire place … but it seems like it has great potential. I mean, the location alone is amazing. Just needs to make a few adjustments and it could really be great.

Like, for one: entertainment. So they have all those TVs on the patio, how about turning them on? Or hitting up a band or even some Pandora station for background music? Did someone misplace ALL of the remotes?

I mean I get that you don’t want to re-create the party atmosphere or reputation that some of the places on the Lakes have. But when the alternative is letting your patrons be entertained by some kids across the lake doing the poor mans water park and jumping in the water from a rope swing whilst making a ton of noise, or a great blue heron stalking its dinner in the water from the boat docks … well let’s just say that even the Golf Channel begins to look appealing given those alternatives.

There’s a lot of ground between wet t-shirt contest and real live nature channel, and finding the middle certainly shouldn’t be such an impossible concept.

I hear that the weekends find the place full, but on a Wednesday night at dinner time it was not even close to being standing room only. In fact the only standing was done by the staff, who quite possible outnumbered the patrons. At least in the dining room anyway.

Which, again, offers no explanation for the great butter debacle. But I digress.

Plus they have White Claw for $3.75, which all in itself is a great marketing asset considering the limbs we’ve lost paying for it at other local establishments.

I have to think we’d give it another try. And we’re definitely adding it to the “amazing patio” list. So we can be prepared on, you know, the possible four times a year that nice weather and Wednesday actually collide.

Picked by: Jason

Next pick: Shane

WTGW 11/9/16: Mavis Winkles Irish Pub, Twinsburg

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Sorry we’ve been away.  World Series, yo. I mean, we do live in Cleveland after all.

Which translates to Amanda’s pick being on the back burner for about a month now, since our streak of baseball watching began with the playoffs and we didn’t want to chance trying out a new place that may or may not have ample televisions tuned to the game, as well as seating options with good sight lines of said televisions.

Not that we’re needy or anything.

Also it’s ironic to note that when choosing a sports bar to head out to in order to catch the games, suddenly we seemed to forget all 157 we’ve been to in the area, and ended up texting one another things like “When did we go there again?” and “I don’t know, what kind of TV setup do they have there?” 

See also: why our blog stats shot up considerably in those few weeks, as we all frantically researched sports bars.

Anyway.

So Mavis Winkles is located in the same plaza as the Panini’s with the great outdoor bar that we discovered we loved about three years ago. And haven’t been back to since, because somewhere we read that Panini’s location closed. Yeah, it didn’t. Damn you internet and your lies.

We were seated at a high top near the bar but not really in the bar area. If that makes sense. The layout of the place is a little strange, just keep that in mind.

For drinks it was a Boddington for me (hey, it is an Irish place), Guinness for Ted (after he asked what dark beers they had, apparently forgetting we were in an Irish place), Angry Orchard for Shane and Miller Lite for Jerrid.

Our poor server came back to check on us like six times before we actually places our dinner orders. We’re chatty all of a sudden when we haven’t done this for a few weeks. But I give her points for at least trying.

For apps, Ted tried to get the calamari, but was told they were out. Which prompted Shane to start reinacting the scene in Tommy Boy where he gets the waitress to turn the fryers back on. “Are you sure? Wings would taste really good right now.”

Let’s just say it turned out better for Tommy.

So poor Ted went with zucchini planks instead. I had my money on the hummus platter being his number two choice. Dammit Ted. You let me down.

I wish I could say they tasted better than they look

I wish I could say they tasted better than they look

Shane and I got the reuben rolls. They also have reuben bites on the menu (see also: Irish place), but we went with the rolls – because, as Shane explained, rolls just sound like more real food than “bites.” Bites are dainty. And we all know by now dainty is not in the list of adjectives for us.

And the rolls were definitely real food. In fact, they were kind of like small, deep fried, wrap sandwiches. That apparently looked obscene. Shane called them “reuben dongs.”

Shane's obscene appetizer. Because he's 12.

Shane’s obscene appetizer. Because he’s 12.

That’s my husband, y’all, keepin’ it classy.

At least they were a nice juxtaposition to the side salad I got with my cabbage and corned beef dish and that arrived at the same time. Giving the appearance of healthy, as I ate what was essentially iceberg lettuce with balsamic dressing with one hand while also eating the deep fried corned beef with the other. Point, me.

Something healthy. Wait, what?

Something healthy. Wait, what?

In any case, the reuben rolls were delicious. And could’ve been a meal all in themselves, if you ordered the app just for you. The dipping sauce was also really good – and I’m usually one to skip condiments, so that’s a real compliment.

Ted said the zucchini planks were OK. He said the breading was good, but there just wasn’t enough of it. So obviously he wasn’t ordering these for the health benefits of vegetables. And he said the zucchini was cut too thick. Which prompted this conversation:

Shane: They look like they’re cut like pickle spears. Because they should be cut like bacon strips.
Ted: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

Glad we have our own language here.

Three of the five of us got something that featured corned beef. Have I mentioned we’re at an Irish place? I wasn’t sure.

I got corned beef and cabbage.

The never-ending bowl of Irish food

The never-ending bowl of Irish food

Amanda got the corned beef boxty (corned beef with potato pancakes).

Similar but different

Similar but different

Ted got the hot reuben sandwich (basically the reuben rolls without the deep frying).

Looks less obscene

Looks less obscene

We all agreed that the corned beef here was really good. As well it should be, because, well … OK, I’ll stop saying it.The corned beef was thicker shaved and very meaty, not the thinner, stringier stuff you get at some places. It had just a touch of seasoning, but not overly salty. And they give you a giant portion, no matter what form it was being served in. We all agreed we would definitely get each of our meals again.

On the non-corned beef side of the table we had Jerrid with chicken paprikash, and Shane with six of the honey mustard wings and a large order of fish and chips.

At least they didn’t order burgers?

Jerrid said the chicken paprikash was good, but was lukewarm when it arrived instead of piping hot, which he would’ve preferred. As would most normal people, I assume.

Is that a dollop of sour cream?

Is that a dollop of sour cream?

Shane’s eyes were a bit bigger than his stomach on his order. Also note, when they say large on that fish and chips order, they mean it. He had been debating on ordering the meatloaf but was worried it might not be enough food for him … meanwhile the fish and chips was too much. It’s like Goldilocks and the Various Menu Options. He took the wings home since he was so full.

Why does everything Shane eats look obscene?

Why does everything Shane eats look obscene?

Always a staple at our table

Always a staple at our table

As mentioned already, our server was very good. She put up with our “we’ve never been here before, what’s good” line of questioning when we first sat down, came back to check often on drinks and how things were going, was patient when we didn’t seem to be able to get our crap together to order, etc. We also may or may not have been her only table – but because of how strangely this place was laid out we couldn’t really be sure. Whatever. We’ll still give her credit, she was good.

Our big downer about this place, though, was the atmosphere. It was a little blah. I mean, maybe you missed my mentioning it, but it’s an Irish Pub. And I get that it’s a Wednesday night, so the good folks of Twinsburg probably weren’t exactly in the frame of mind for dancing on tables or taking 15 shots of Jameson or anything like that – but still. It could be that I think they close at like 9pm (which seems odd for a pub, no?), so of course by 8:45 we were likely about the only table left and it just seemed rather quiet. Overall the food was decent and we had good service, so I guess we might go back if we were in the area and wanted a bite and a beer … but then again with Panini’s right at the opposite end of the plaza I have to believe that might get more of the vote.

Ted

Ted

Gangsta Shane

Gangsta Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Amanda
Next pick: Ted

Mavis Winkle's Irish Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 3/9/16: The Pit Stop Bar & Grille, Sagamore Hills

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Don’t you just love when you walk into a place and it smells so fantastic, and that makes you really hungry? And then you get all excited about ordering that particular thing that smells so good you can almost taste it, because it smells so delicious? And then you look over the menu, and realize the thing you’re hungry for – the thing you smell … actually isn’t even available there, because it’s really just the scent wafting in from the carry out place next door.

Well rats.

Such is the case with The Pit Stop Bar & Grille, which is unfortunately situated right next to a Gionino’s Pizzeria, a local carry-out chain that just happens to be one of our favorites.

Perhaps they should maybe think about offering a delivery service next door. Just a thought.

Although, side note, we would not recommend that same service from the place located on the opposite side of The Pit Stop, a little convenience store with what looks to be handmade lettering on the roadside sign out front. We noted that the sign touts “free air.” Right after lottery, fresh bait and tackle, and beer. So, if you ever need a place to, well, breathe … keep that one in mind?

Anyway.

The inside of The Pit Stop is much larger than it appears to be from the outside. I’m not sure how far back the building actually goes, but the “Patio” sign above the long hallway heading toward the kitchen infers perhaps pretty far.

The vastness of the space also inferred that perhaps they should have more than one person working the tables on the floor. However, the evening of our WTGW visit the bartender was apparently pulling double duty as the one-and-only server – which immediately garnered our sympathy, especially since Wednesdays are trivia nights at Pit Stop and the place seemed particularly busy. That being said, I will say that she handled our table well – although there was most certainly a briskness about her, as well as an underlying and unspoken sense of “I’m asking you now what you want because you may not see me again for a while” every time she approached our table. Clearly she was not in the mood for sarcasm or dawdling. Noted.

So for that reason, and since there was no beer list on the menu or table, I tried desperately to scan the taps behind the bar from our table as everyone else was ordering drinks … and then ended up giving up and just ordering a Miller Lite. Sometimes ease of ordering trumps taste.

Also known as, every bar experience in my college days.

Ted asked if they had any dark beers, and was told that they had Guinness and something called Big Butt. Which of course Ted, lover of all drinks with weird names, agreed to sample. BTW, regardless of the server’s attitude, there’s something about their arrival at the table with the words “here’s your sample of Big Butt” that can’t help but make you giggle.

Yes, we’re 15. This has already been established.

Although after that sample we never had the pleasure of hearing those words again, as Ted opted for the Guinness as his actual drink. So I guess Ted and Sir Mix A Lot will never be besties. Because clearly Ted does NOT like Big Butt … and he cannot lie.

Sorry, I had to.

Amanda rounded out the beer orders with a Blue Moon. Shane, who must’ve gotten his fill of beer with the Brick Oven Brew Pub last week, went back to his usual Rum & Diet. Jerrid went the Jack & Coke route – although at one point he made Ted taste his drink because he was convinced the coke was non-existent. According to Ted, it was there, just very subtle.

And we found out at the end of the evening when the bills came that apparently that was because the bartender was pouring Jerrid doubles. Which are apparently $4.50/shot. So for $9 a drink, it definitely should be primarily alcohol. Again, noted.

The server’s return to take food orders pretty much mirrored the level of urgency of her arrival for our drink orders, so we didn’t mess around there. Also since Ted started off the ordering chain – and must’ve been particularly intimidated by the bartender/server, because he kind of just ordered all of his food at once, instead of separating it into appetizers and then meals. So there’s that. Thanks, overachiever.

But I guess if we had ordered apps, Ted’s would’ve been six of the Caribbean Jerk Wings, mine and Shane’s would’ve been the Reuben Quesadilla, and Jerrid and Amanda’s would’ve been the popcorn shrimp. But really since everything came out at once they all just ended up being large side dishes to our main meals. Yay for tables full of food!

Jerrid got the philly cheese steak sandwich with lug nuts – which is “Pit Stop speak” for tater tots. I see what you did there. Clever. Regardless, they were good.

Steak and potatoes, in a different form

Steak and potatoes, in a different form

Amanda tried to order the rueben sandwich as a wrap, and was told the quesadilla was pretty much the same thing (um, well, no, but whatever) so she just went with that. Again, the “don’t stall or argue” persona of our bartender was in full effect.

Can we consider this prep for St Patrick's Day?

Can we consider this prep for St Patrick’s Day?

Since Shane and I also had Amanda’s meal as our “app side,” we all agreed that the Rueben quesadilla was just OK. It’s an interesting twist on a sandwich or the egg rolls we’ve tried other places … but nothing so overwhelmingly wonderful that we have to have it again sometime soon.

Ted got the beer battered cod sandwich, and also opted for the lug nuts on the side. Which he later said were by far the best part of his meal. Hmmm. He also said that it’s pretty difficult to screw up fried fish … but somehow they managed to. Ouch.

When someone asks why we all have clogged arteries, I'm pointing to this picture of fried-ness

When someone asks why we all have clogged arteries, I’m pointing to this picture of fried-ness

Wings from the Carribbean

Wings from the Carribbean

I got six of the Cajun dry rub wings and a basket of fries. I’ll second Ted’s opinion that the side – in my case the fries – was by far the best part of the meal. I mean, the wings were OK – they had decent flavor, but they were just “eh.”

Wings, southern style

Wings, southern style

Shane got 18 wings – 12 garlic and six Caribbean Jerk dry rub. Now, if you’ve been following our adventures, then you know by now that when “I’m hungry and will eat this table if food doesn’t arrive soon” Shane starts offering up the remnants of his meal, that means he wasn’t happy with it. And such was the case with his garlic wings -of all things! – because, well, he claimed they didn’t have enough garlic taste to them. I guess after so many times being served wings with actual chunks of garlic residing on top of them, just getting wings cooked in a garlic sauce was more than a slight disappointment.

Although, just for reference, if you’ll go back to last week’s dinner, Shane was the one complaining that the pizza had too much garlic on it. He’s like the Goldilocks of garlic tastings.

How can they be garlic wings if there are no visible traces of garlic?

How can they be garlic wings if there are no visible traces of garlic?

In any case, this week he left four dead soldiers that no one would claim and he didn’t even take a box for. I actually tried one of the non-garlic garlic wings, and truthfully they didn’t have much flavor. He aslo wasn’t crazy about the carribbean jerk wings, but they were better than the garlic.

All in all, The Pit Stop earned a “thumbs medium” from the group – between the somewhat harsh/rushed service (not really her fault if they were just short staffed, but if that’s how it is all the time I’d be a little worried about the management skills of the owners), Jerrid’s extravagant prices for mixed drinks and the mediocre food, it’s just not a place I think we’ll head back to anytime soon. Also, having Trivia there that evening – something that should’ve at least deferred our attention from all of the factors above – actually didn’t make much of an impression on us either. Particularly since the guy hosting it kind of faded into the background noise of the bar in general instead of rallying the crowd. Maybe don’t quit your day job there mister.

(Sidebar: the lighting in this place was so especially awful – neon! bright spotlights! bar signs! – that I couldn’t do much to doctor up the pictures of us. So you get black & white instead. Let’s call it “artsy.”)

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Jerrid

Drinks: Is it so hard to put a beer list on a table? Related – is it so hard to tell someone when they’re about to be charged $9 for a Jack & Coke? Like maybe before they order their fourth one?
Food: Eh. Maybe we were set up for disappointment from the start with that delicious pizza smell. I’m telling you, that whole Gionino’s carry out idea has legs.
Service: Every order felt like part of the lightning round on a game show. So if you’re indecisive and can’t make a quick decision, this is not the place for you.
Overall: When the fries and tater tots are the highlights of a meal, it’s a pretty clear indication that we won’t be rushing to return.

Next Pick: Shane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No soggy crackers here

No soggy crackers here

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

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

Fluffy little pillows of pastry

Fluffy little pillows of pastry

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

Don't open without protective fire gear

Don’t open without protective fire gear

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

Not as good as the rolled and fried version

Not as good as the rolled and fried version

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

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

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

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Amanda

Amanda

Hey Shane, stop trying to make "turtle" happen

Hey Shane, stop trying to make “turtle” happen

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

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

Next Pick:  Shane

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