WTGW 9/14/16: Varsity, Hudson

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Yes folks, this week we have yet another in the list of places that epitomize “reasons why WTGW was created.” These are places we drive past about 64.8 times and somehow never get around to going into, despite saying “hey, we should go there sometime” every. single. time. we drive past.

In the case of Varsity, part of the issue was that it really doesn’t look like a sports bar from the outside. Nothing about the boring, blue, block letter sign on the nondescript concrete building screams “come inside and enjoy a nice cold drink while watching sports on 500 TVs.” In fact, for the longest time when we passed by I kind of figured it was some new sporting goods store, until I got a flyer in the mail one day announcing weekly specials. Huh. So direct mail isn’t dead.

But still, change the sign. Or the building. Or something.

Also, just because direct mail is apparently front and center on your marketing plan, let’s not completely go back to 1998 and forget one of the biggest assets to any company today … a website. Seriously people. It’s 2016. I’m shocked by the number of restaurants that won’t pony up the money for a decent webpage. You know, with a menu that people can look at in advance, and maybe your daily specials, along with your location. See also: ways to convince people to come into your establishment.

Because, assuming you know that Varsity is, in fact, a bar and grill, naturally you do a quick Google search to find out more about what they serve. And if you type “Varsity Hudson” into Google, and click on the 4th option down – because the URL looks promising – you might be pleased.

But then at some point you realize it’s actually a website for a bar & grill in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Not Hudson, Ohio. I spend damn near 15 minutes picking out a meal and dreaming about Wednesday being $3 Captain mixer day before I realized this was a tad out of our WTGW travel zone.

Rats.

And I say this only to help our friend Varsity, because the place really does have potential on the inside. First off, the space is huge. There are giant big screen TVs over the bar – as you would expect for a place called Varsity (once you actually realize it’s a bar anyway). And there’s a giant bar in the middle of the place with seating for several – again, as you would expect from a place that wants to be a hangout for sporting event viewing. And they have a patio. With a fire pit.

These are all things that scream of success in sports-driven, game-watching, we-want-to-be-outdoors-when-its-nice-out Northeastern Ohio. **sigh**

Speaking of the bar, that’s where we sat. Again. Apparently we’re back to this being our thing.

Angry Orchard was on special – we weren’t clear if it was just for that day, or all Wednesdays, or the month of September in general (*ahem* I bet a website would tell us that *ahem*) – but whatever, sign Shane and me up. Ted got the BumbleBerry from FatHead’s, and immediately made Jerrid jealous with his choice. He ditched his Stella after the next round and switched to the BumbleBerry.

See also: bromance.

So the menu  – like everything else in the space – is huge. And it has a lot of variety. It’s not your typical sports bar that only serves burgers and wings – they have pizza, ribs, sandwiches, salads, soups – you name it. And maybe I was just hungry, but everything looked really, really good.

Which could explain why Shane and I gravitated toward the “limitless chips & salsa” as our app. Because diving into anything limitless just before you eat a real meal is really just proper planning on our part, right?

If you know us, you know the correct answer to that is yes.

Limitless = we had two

Limitless = we had two

Jerrid and Amanda got the loaded tater tots. Because, again, how can you go wrong there? Tots and cheese and yummy toppings. They were definitely pleased with their decision.

Cheesy tots

Cheesy tots

While we weren’t clear if Angry Orchard was a Wednesday special, we did discover that wings definitely were, at 59 cents/wing on Wednesdays. Not bad. Although the only one in our group to take advantage of that was Ted, who got six of the dry rub Jamaican Jerk wings to go along with his Breakfast Burger – which, as the name implies, comes with bacon and a fried egg of top.

Breakfast on a bun. Brilliant

Breakfast on a bun. Brilliant

He said the burger was juicy but kind of bland. Which is surprising for something called a “breakfast burger.” Maybe they need to add some maple syrup or flavored bacon to the mix. Or go the McDonald’s route and put it in between pancakes. Because clearly that would help.

Ted didn’t say anything about the wings, which probably means there wasn’t much to say. Ouch.

They really should get smaller bowls for a 6-wing order

They really should get smaller bowls for a 6-wing order

Keeping up our twinsie routine from last week, Amanda and I both got the Buckeye Burger – which is a fancy way of saying “Mushroom and Swiss Burger” at Varsity. Big surprise we both gravitated to that one, I know.

Unfortunately our burgers didn’t fall under the “juicy” category like Ted’s burger did. I guess maybe his burger got all the juice, because both of ours were dryer than the Nevada desert in the middle of August. And barely pink inside, which we all know is not typically how, well, really any of us in this group like our burgers.

Although honestly I don’t remember the server asking how I wanted my burger done, so I guess “almost well” is just the standard here? Awesome.

I got tater tots with my burger – because, hello, they’re delicious, and not always a staple on menus like fries are, so grab them when you can. But these particular ones were a bit too salty. And I like salt. But these were overkill.

You gonna eat those tots?

You gonna eat those tots?

Jerrid got the capreze pizza and a side of fries. He said the pizza was very good. And he even took some of it home. Wait, what now? Is this allowed?

Shane also belonged to the doggie bag club this evening, as he only ate about half of his full rack of ribs. Must’ve been that limitless chips and salsa that set him back. He said the ribs were OK, but he wasn’t a huge fan of the sauce. Which, I mean, is kind of an important component to ribs, no? Without sauce it’s really just the same cooked meat with no taste that you could make at home by yourself. Fantastic.

Can you wipe the sauce off, please?

Can you wipe the sauce off, please?

The service was great. I mean, we did sit at the bar, so that helped … but even so our bartender/server was very attentive and made sure our drinks were never empty and plates were taken away quickly. Although we did notice she was a bit soft spoken for a loud, cavernous place like this, so they may want to consider holding future interviews inside the restaurant with the music on just to test the voice decibel levels of servers down the road. But aside from having to concentrate to hear her, she was great. She even let us move outside to the patio fire pit (see, told you we enjoy these things) later in the evening without worrying we would take off without paying, or holding us up to cash out bills, etc. I mean, there were also only about 10 other people in the whole place, so I’m assuming she figured she could chase us down if need be, but still.

It's officially fall

It’s officially fall

So I guess overall Varsity has a ton of potential … but they need work on perfecting their brand, as well as several of the food options. Like I mentioned, there’s a giant menu – and when we first looked through it we were all pointing out about 150 things that looked good … but afterwards none of us were so overly thrilled with what we’d tried that we felt compelled to schedule another visit in the immediate future to try anything we didn’t have a chance to. Perhaps they should take the menu down a few pages and work on just perfecting those items, rather than having a selection the size of a Cheesecake Factory menu. Just a thought.

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda and sad Jerrid

Amanda and sad Jerrid

Ted

Ted

Moments after this his head exploded in flames. OK, not really, but he did say he could smell burning arm hairs.

Moments after this his head exploded in flames. OK, not really, but he did say he could smell burning arm hairs.

Ted apparently doesn't have time for auto focus. He may be fired as my official photographer.

Ted apparently doesn’t have time for auto focus. He may be fired as my official photographer.

Picked by: Jerrid
Next pick: Amanda

WTGW 1/13/16: BJ’s Brewhouse, Fairlawn

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You know we’ve hit a lot of restaurants in the area when we see one being built and in the back of our minds we’re all kind of thinking about whose pick is going to line up with the week of the opening. BJ’s Brewhouse is a fairly recent addition to the Fairlawn food landscape, located in the southeastern corner of the Summit Mall parking lot. Construction began around the middle of the summer, I think, and then all of a sudden, bam, it was open. I know Shane and I were invited to meet another couple there a few months back, which must’ve been right after the opening because the wait was like, two hours, on a Saturday night. Um, no thanks. I mean, you’d think there were absolutely no other places to eat within a 10 mile radius or something. Please.

So anyway, fast forward to this week, when we think the hype may have died down a little, and Amanda announces this is her WTGW pick. When I texted Ted to tell him the news, his response was “well, dammit. that was going to be my next pick.” So I’m thinking we can all assume that at least some of Ted’s Google searches for the next week will involve area restaurants. Just some. *wink, wink*

And either the good word of mouth is spreading about BJ’s (can we all just talk for a minute about how places need to stop choosing this horrible name for their establishments?) or there are still a number of people in the Summit County area who haven’t tried it yet and were, like us, waiting for the first wave of patrons to cycle through (overachievers) … because even with going on a Wednesday late evening there was still a wait for a table. Only about 20 minutes, but still. Impressive. Amanda and Jerrid were the first to arrive, so they got to be the lucky ones to wait – but, hey, with a place that has the word “brewhouse” in the title it’s not hard to find a way to occupy that amount of time, right?

Anyway.

So we’re seated, and the first thing we notice is that the menus weigh about six pounds each. And, just like last week, flipping through them is similar to reading a short story. While I appreciate the variety, sometimes maybe you can find the few things you want to specialize in and just stick to that, no? Or at least a certain nationality of food? I mean, it’s like you kind of have to just narrow it down to the basic type of food you think you might want and then just stare at those 2-3 pages until you decide on the actual item to order. Because one more flip, and before you know it you’re back on the winding road of delicious sounding food options.

At least the drinks were a tad bit easier for us. BJ’s (seriously, I giggle every time I type that) brews their own beers, but they do also offer a pretty impressive selection of other domestic and craft beers as well.

So, you know, it makes perfect sense that Shane and Amanda both chose Miller Lite.

Ted, Jerrid and I were a bit more adventurous. I got the Hefeweizen (which I’ve found to be my “go to” pretty much any place that offers it), Ted got the house made IPA, and while Jerrid didn’t go with one the house made beers he still went with a craft, the Magic Hat #9.

And I think this is the first time in months we’ve all ordered beer. WTF?

Ted ordered the wings for an appetizer, while Shane pretended to not know what he wanted until I mentioned they had calamari. Surprise!

Because we never order this

Because we never order this

Or this

Or this

Both apps were good. We all agreed that we really liked the aioli sauce that came with the calamari. And Ted called the calamari “tender.” Which he later clarified as “not over cooked.” Just in case we were confused that it may have been emotionally fragile or something like that instead. The wings were a siracha dry rub. They were kind of sweet and kind of spicy, with enough flavor to give them a kick without being so hot that you need a bucket of water to wash down every bite.

And good thing, too, because asking for water with our server was somewhat like asking a cat to, well, do whatever it is you want a cat to do. Shane asked three times for a glass of water – and despite taking our alcohol orders, bringing those drinks, bringing the apps … and asking each time what else we needed (to which Shane responded “a glass of water would be great”) – she still didn’t bring it.

Then Jerrid casually mentions “hey, can we get a couple of waters here?” … and suddenly like seven glasses appear at our table.

Is anyone thirsty? I'm parched.

Is anyone thirsty? I’m parched.

Clearly this time Jerrid was the magic name in our group, not Shane. Payback for the Rush Hour Grille incident maybe?

For meals, Amanda and I ordered off the “light menu” – she got the seared ahi salad and I had the blackened barbacoa chicken. Amanda said the salad was so tasty, she would almost order another one to take home. She particularly mentioned the dressing as being really good, and although the tuna could’ve used a bit more seasoning on it, it it was overall a really delicious meal. And it was enough to be filling – something that doesn’t always happen with those tricky “light” menu items  (I mean, really, just because we’re trying to eat healthier and lose weight doesn’t mean we want to starve, am I right?) – but she didn’t feel stuffed.

Healthy eating can be pretty

Healthy eating can be pretty

Mine was also really good, and filling as well. It was a bit on the spicy side … but thankfully we had a crap ton of water if I’d needed it, so crisis averted there.

It's strange to not see fries on this plate

It’s strange to not see fries on this plate

Ted got the ribeye steak with asparagus and rice pilaf. He said, and I quote ” the asparagus was good, rice was good, steak was … good.” Hmm, seems like there’s some hesitation there perhaps? But he said if he had to rate it, all in all he would give it a solid 7 out of 10. He said he had actually been deciding between like three different things on the menu (and, I mean, with that menu that’s totally understandable) – so he would definitely come back to try something else. Particularly the crispy jaelepeno burger, that’s the next thing on his list.

That's a nutritious looking meal. And a sharp looking knife.

That’s a nutritious looking meal. And a sharp looking knife.

In case we weren’t all sick of their continuing antics yet, Shane and Jerrid kept the bromance alive and actually split a dinner. Really guys? People are going to talk. In any case, they shared probably one of the most typically non-shared foods, a full rack of ribs, paired with a very easily shared food, the medium BJ’s special pizza (and again, see what I mean about the name? That just isn’t good marketing). Jerrid said his food was good, although Shane likened the pizza to that which you get at Pizza Hut. They also weren’t a huge fan of the ribs, which they said were just average.

Hi, Pizza Hut? We found one of your pizzas here.

Hi, Pizza Hut? We found one of your pizzas here.

There's a rack of ribs under those fries somwhere

There’s a rack of ribs under those fries somewhere

Although maybe Shane just was too watered down at that point to taste anything, what with the 18 glasses of water and all?

I have to say, our server was definitely not the most personable. Or loud. And that’s a bit of a problem, since the place is actually pretty loud inside, thanks to the openness and the high ceilings and all. So half the time I wasn’t sure if she was actually talking to us or just mumbling under her breath about something. Maybe about the high cost of tap water and how wasteful patrons like us insist on asking for it? Who knows.

Ted

Ted

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane (he must be water-drunk?)

Shane (he must be water-drunk?)

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  The house brewed beers are good, with an impressive variety. I’d be willing to try a few more on the list just to see what else they have to offer. But I guess being a “brewhouse” means the water tap is selectively broken. This is one WTGW where it didn’t pay to be named Shane for once. 
Food:
Not a bad selection – they offer anything from pizza to sandwiches to salads and lighter fare. And you’ll be extra hungry after you get done reading the short novel that is the menu.
Service: As long as you aren’t craving water – or a personality of some kind – it’s not bad.
Overall: This place was pretty much middle of the road for the entire group. It wasn’t horrible by any means, and I think we would go again if we happened to be in the area. But if we get the same server again I think Shane may sneak in his own flask of water.

Next Pick: Ted

WTGW 9/30/15: Beer & Belly Sports Bar, Northfield

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Hey, we’re not in Canton this week!?! What?

But we did still visit a place located in a strip plaza, if that makes you feel any better. Redemption.

Amanda had noticed this place while driving by with Jerrid one day, and apparently immediately exclaimed that she was picking it for WTGW. Unfortunately Jerrid is still relatively new to the “rules” of WTGW – like how it’s perfectly acceptable to yell out “I’m picking it!” when you see a random dive bar or new restaurant in passing – so she was kind of jumping the gun a bit on that one. It’s like when you’re on a long, boring car ride and suddenly decide to play “slug bug” with someone who clearly didn’t know they were part of the game.

We seemed to show up in shifts for this week’s adventure, with Amanda and Jerrid arriving first, Ted and I next in line, and then my over-achieving and workaholic husband arriving last. That being said, Shane had some catching up to do on drinking when he got there, and went straight for the Long Islands. Well played.

Meanwhile it was Harvest Patch shandy for the rest of us (hey, it’s only available through October, we have to take advantage while we can!) and Jerrid went with a Jack & Coke.

Our server was honestly one of the best parts of our visit to Beer & Belly. Her personality had just the right mix of sass and sarcasm (which is a true compliment from someone who strives to achieve that balance pretty much every day of her life), without going overboard and making you feel like you just sat down to dinner with the Plastics from Mean Girls.

Case in point, when we ordered our beers:

Server: Do you want talls?
Entire table: Of course.
Server: I would hope so, our motto around her is go big or go home … and I’d hate to ask you to leave so soon.

Or, when Shane was grilling her on the specials and asking her opinion on the best food on the menu:

Server, looking directly at Ted: The Cowboy Burger is delicious. It has this pepper jack cheese on it that really gives it a good, spicy kick, really amazing.
Entire table: Um, yeah, you’re telling the wrong person. Ted hates cheese.
Server: What the hell is wrong with you? Who doesn’t like cheese? That’s insane. I don’t even know what to think about you.

If we were 10 years old and back in the 5th grade, at that moment I think we all would’ve been fighting over who got to claim her as their BFF.

Although it should be noted that her sass didn’t sway Ted from actually ordering that very burger, so I guess there’s a twist of irony there. Actually, he had had his order all picked out, but then once Shane began the interrogation process and our server started listing all kinds of other yummy things he hadn’t bothered to take the time to consider … Ted got befuddled and just picked the cowboy burger. Minus cheese. On a pretzel bun. With tater tots.

That's a lot of tots

That’s a lot of tots

Whew. Close one.

He also ordered wings, because, well, not only are Wednesdays 50 cent wing days – but if you’ve been paying attention these last few weeks you’ll notice that the boys in our group seem to consider them the ideal “first course” for a meal. You know, some people do side salads or soup to start off, these guys do wings. Whatevs.

This group's version of a "dinner salad."

This group’s version of a “dinner salad.”

In any case. Ted got the Hot Garlic, which was apparently really, really good because he nearly licked the plate clean once he finished the actual wings. Maybe we really are 10 year olds.

Shane ordered the ribs (twist his arm yet again), after hearing from our server that they were “very good, not fatty at all, very meaty.” You could practically see Shane’s face light up when he heard that. He got onion rings as a side. And for his wing option, he chose the garlic parm. Which, once again, if you’re following along here at home, you probably realize is nearly an exact clone of his order last week. Well, except swap the “parm” on the wings with “honey.” Which would of course make them disgusting in the process, so no thanks.

I have a feeling “honey garlic” is going to become the new “tarter toast” within our group. Just sayin’.

I think some restaurant somewhere should just start calling this the "Shane Special"

I think some restaurant somewhere should just start calling this the “Shane Special”

Rounding out the guys orders, Jerrid went with the Belly Boy burger, which the server likened it to a Big Mac – right down to the special sauce. And tater tots instead of fries. Clearly we’re exercising all of our side dish options at the table this evening. He also chose the garlic parm wings. And mozzarella planks – which, if you’re wondering, are really just mozzarella sticks that look like they were run over by a steamroller.

Flattened fried cheese

Flattened fried cheese

The secret sauce is what makes it

The secret sauce is what makes it

Clearly his appetite alone causes him to fit in well with this group.

Us girls went the burger and no wings route for our orders this time around. Although I actually have to credit my choice – the Sicilian Burger – to Ted, who had questioned it during the server interrogation portion of the evening. His question was something along the lines of “does all that stuff come on top of the burger? Because it kind of seems to have a lot going on on it’s own without even throwing a burger underneath all those toppings.” So out of sheer curiousity it ended up as my meal. I mean, as a kid I used to love Roman Burgers at Mr. Hero – and this sounded pretty similar. And since we’re apparently reverting back to our 10-year-old selves with this week’s adventure, I guess it was only fair to choose that as my meal.

FYI, the Sicilian Burger actually wasn’t all that similar to the Roman Burger – other than that whole Italian name thing anyway – but it was still OK. I got it on the Italian garlic bread – you can choose that, a pretzel bun or regular brioche bun – and I mean, I figured if we’re going for a theme here then that just makes sense, no? Plus by now you know how easily I can be swayed by delicious sounding carbs.

Unfortunately, I choose poorly. I imagined this to be like Texas toast, but in reality it was just plain old thin sliced Italian bread with garlic seasoning. Definitely not sturdy enough to even hold the burger in. I ended up eating just the burger (which was good) without the bread and all the meat toppings – which kind of did have “a lot going on there,” to quote Ted.

You deceived me, Italian bread

You deceived me, Italian bread

But the sweet potato waffle fries were good, so there’s that. And I salivated over Amanda’s pretzel bun, which thoroughly contained her Bacon Bleu Shroom Burger that she proclaimed to be delicious. For her side she opted for the cheesy tots. Well played.

I'm jealous of your bun. And I mean that in a totally non-perverse way.

I’m jealous of your bun. And I mean that in a totally non-perverse way.

All in all, Beer & Belly is a pretty cool place with a good atmosphere and great service. We also took note of their daily specials, which include everything from the 50 cent wings (Mondays and Wednesdays), $5.99 burgers (Thursdays), and a decent steak special whose price I don’t remember but it sounded decent (Saturdays). Given those specials and his home’s proximity to this place, I think we may know where to find Jerrid on any given night that he’s not actually at home. And I don’t think you’d have to twist our arms to go join him at all.

Amanda

Amanda

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Sometimes you have to zoom out to get the full picture with this group ...

Sometimes you have to zoom out to get the full picture with this group …

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:  Decent options. Just make sure you get the tall beers, lest you be ridiculed for not hanging with the cool crowd.  
Food:
Good bar food, decent specials and portions. Figure out what type of food you like and match it to the day that has that special and you’re golden.
Service: I wish we’d gotten our girl’s name, because I would easily request her every time we go into this place. Anyone who can dole out the sarcasm along with a cold beer is a winner in my book.
Overall: Great little gem tucked into a strip plaza that I’m sure many people have driven past without even taking note of. Which works out well for those of us who have been there and liked it.

Next Pick: Ted

 

 

WTGW 9/23/15: Prestier Pub, Canton

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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 7/29/15: Spunkmeyer’s Pub, Wadsworth

Standard

And just like that, two years passes. Saturday marked the two year anniversary of this little adventure we call Where To Go Wednesdays. While we didn’t actually start chronicling our outings here on this blog until a few months later, July 25, 2013, was the first time we uttered the words “Hey, you know what would be fun …” And the rest is history.

Or an alcohol induced blur of fried foods and sometimes sketchy locations. Whatevs.

Anyway, enough patting ourselves on the back … on to this week’s adventure of choice, Spunkmeyer’s Pub. Which is just funny to say. Or dirty. I haven’t really decided which side of that coin my head gravitates to just yet. In any case, it was NOT as much fun to actually find, as we started out our visit by completely walking into the wrong place. Yep. To their credit, the name “Crafted Cocktail Company” was clearly marked on the door we walked in … but to our credit, said door was also conveniently housed very nearly underneath the large sign overhead that read “Spunkmeyer’s Pub,” so we can’t have been the only ones to ever make that mistake. Or maybe we can. Who knows. At least it was dark enough in there that I’m fairly positive no one even realized we had walked in, save for the sliver of light that permeated the place when we opened the door.

Blunders aside, we made it next door to our destination (mental note, it’s the door on the left), and were seated for all of about 2.2 seconds before our server came over to ask if we wanted drinks. Woah, slow down there cowboy. I mean, great service is impressive … but it would be even more so if maybe you don’t take it personal and disappear for like 2,200 seconds after we tell you it’s our first time in and we need a hot minute to decide what we want. Hi, I’m a happy medium, I guess we haven’t met yet?

Especially since the drink list was a tad difficult to navigate. If you’re looking for beers, you’ve basically got the craftiest-of-the-crafts … or Miller Lite. OK. See “happy medium” reference above. I mean, that’s fine if you’re, well, Ted – who’s the king of choosing some high potency craft beer with a crazy name (case in point, this time it was something called the “21st Amendment Hop Crisis.” Exactly.) The rest of us went the mixed drink route, with the July drink special – something called a Wideon Runner. All I remember is that it contained like five different kinds of rum. And they were heavily poured, especially for only being $5.00 each. Enough said.

Oh, hello there beach drink

Oh, hello there beach drink

Our server finally reappeared and took our drink orders (yay!) but then ran away before we could even broach the subject of an appetizer order (boooo!). I guess you gotta be quick in these parts.

The next time we saw her was when she cruised by to deliver Ted’s beer … which he proceeded to nearly finish before our mixed drinks even made it off the bar and over to our table. OK, look, I understand only having one bartender, and that mixed drinks are harder to concoct than a draft beer … but it wasn’t busy. And we’re not talking about getting all Cocktail up in here. Honestly I think it was more the fault of our server than the bartender, since we actually watched our drinks sit at the end of the bar while our she took orders from another table (we hadn’t even put in our app order yet, BTW), then put those orders in the computer – stopping to have a conversation with some girl on who was passing her on her way to the patio – and then finally picked up our drinks to bring them over. I’m half surprised the ice in them wasn’t fully melted yet.

Amanda actually joked that she should just go grab them off the bar herself while our server was talking to her friend. Bonus points if she would’ve “accidentally” elbowed the server on her way through.

Anyway.

So eventually we were able to put in our food order, just a hair shy of Shane actually eating one of the menus out of sheer hunger. For apps, I had my eye on the stuffed mushrooms, but then realized they were stuffed with shrimp, which Shane is allergic to. Oops. I’m an awful wife. So Amanda ordered them – and they ended up belonging to just her and I, since not only were they filled with something that could kill Shane, they were also covered in melted cheese.

Food for girls

Food for girls

Ted: how often is it that you girls find somehthng on the menu that neither of us guys can eat?

But that actually worked out OK, because they were delicious and we didn’t want to share anyway. They had tiny diced up jalepenos inside, which gave them a nice spice. I mean, honestly, if they hadn’t also been made with shrimp and cheese, I’m sure the guys would’ve really liked them. Oh well.

Don’t feel too bad for them, though, because they did OK with their respective app selections. Shane ordered the fried poppers, which were also delicious. He actually talked Ted into trying one (gasp!) – and Ted then actually admitted he couldn’t really even taste the cream cheese, just the fried breading and the jalepenos (double gasp!). So, win. Although maybe he was just being nice since he and Shane were also sharing an order of calamari, and he didn’t want Shane to spit on his side of the plate.

There were more of these. Gotta be quick with Hungry Shane's food.

There were more of these. Gotta be quick with Hungry Shane’s food.

The boy's romantic shared plate. They're so cute.

The boy’s romantic shared plate. They’re so cute.

And here is where we hit our usual calamity, as we’ve discovered in our travels that when we hit the jackpot on appetizers, usually it means that our meals will not be as good. And this was no exception.

Amanda ordered the Philly with fries. Which she said must’ve been the first of our meals to be cooked, because it wasn’t really even still warm by the time it came to the table. Heat lamps are not cooking devices, people. If it has to sit there longer than five minutes, you’re best to either bring it to the table first or just start over cooking it. Or rethink your entire kitchen system.

Is that Ted's plate? Oh, wait ...

Is that Ted’s plate? Oh, wait …

Ted got “The Boss,” which is basically an open faced steak sandwich. Or steak on bread. Meat and carbs. He said it was a good cut of meat – very lean, reasonably tender. The server had him cut into the steak to make sure it was done properly, which was a nice touch – especially since that meant she actually had to stand at our table for a minute to make that happen before disappearing again. For shame.

The only thing he said he didn’t care for was the bread, but other than that it was good. So basically he should’ve just gotten a steak, I guess? Hmmm.

It looks pretty

At least it looks pretty

Shane got 10 boneless wings (the Wednesday special) and an order of ribs. I’m still in awe as to where he puts all this food. So was our server, it seems, since she commented as she was delivering the plates, “Do you have enough food?”

Shane: “I’m eating for two.”

Half of Shane's meal

Half of Shane’s meal

Unfortunately, though, he probably should’ve left the ribs off of his order, as he said they were fatty. He ate most of them but then couldn’t finish his fries or eat more than two of his wings. Wait, what now? Shane … with a to-go box?? I think this in only like the third time in WTGW history that has happened.

And the part that came home with us

And the part that came home with us

I got the cheeseburger wrap and onion rings. It was OK, but my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach. I couldn’t finish the onion rings (hand battered, usually my fave but way too much to handle on this visit) and the 2nd half of the wrap I just ate the meat and cheese out of. Because unless it’s ciabatta bread, I can do without the carbs and just go for the good stuff.

Yum

Yum

Unlike showoff Ted, who was a member of the clean plate club this evening.

Clean Plate Award!

Clean Plate Award!

Sidenote: I had also intended to order the garlic fries with my sandwich – but having learned from the mistake that was Sassy’s butter-and-garlic-sauce-soaked-fries, I asked the server first. She confirmed my fear that these fries would in fact be similar, so I moved on to the steak fries … which she then warned me were dipped in batter before going into the fryer. Right, because French fries need to be made less healthy? Exactly. And that’s the long winded story of how I decided on onion rings. You’re welcome.

Also of note, for the second week in a row we were charged for our requested condiments. 0.35 for a side of mayo? Really? I mean, come on, we all know you buy those giant tubs of the stuff at Sam’s Club or some restaurants wholesale store for like $2.00 each. Is there some sort of shortage we aren’t privy to? Did the National Association of Mayo Makers go on strike?

In any case, remember the above paragraph when you look at Amanda’s “thumbs down” photo below, as that reflected in her scoring of the place.

So all in all, the food was decent, but nothing spectacular. We might think about putting it on the return list if it wasn’t a 30-minute drive for us, and also if we’d felt like we weren’t bothering our server by coming in and asking her to do her job. Actually, I think all of us customers were bothering everyone “working” there that evening. We watched as one server/bartender/maybe manager(?) did nothing but walk around and pretend to work … and if it’s that obvious to us, how must it be for the rest of the staff? Meanwhile our server seemed to have set her watch to “beach time” and assumed everyone was on the same clock, because she took her time on everything. They were staffed well, but no one seemed to work quickly or really care about doing things fast. Because that’s helpful.

We were sorry to have not checked out the patio, as we had heard good things about it – but then when we walked out and noticed it had rained while we were inside we were glad to not have gone that route after all. Us: 1, Mother Nature: 0.

Ted

Ted

Steph

Steph

Tell us how you really feel Amanda

Tell us how you really feel Amanda

Shane

Shane

Shane's new rating system is like deciphering gang signals

Shane’s new rating system is like deciphering gang signals

Or realizing he has arms

Or realizing he has arms

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Shane

Drinks:  Good monthly specials, but the draft list was either uber-crafty or bottom of the barrel domestics. If you go down the mixed drink path, just know that the bartender poured well – which is good or bad depending on your level of alcoholism.
Food:
 The apps were delicious. The meals, not so much. Once again proving our theory that perhaps we should just choose from the first page of the menu and stop there.
Service: Um, no.
Overall: This place sounded great on the website. But what we experienced definitely lacked the same pizzazz. If it was our local neighborhood bar we might be more inclined to visit more often, but we weren’t impressed enough this time around to vote for a second journey.

Next Pick:  Steph

Spunkmeyers Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato