WTGW 8/21/19: The Ramp, Portage Lakes

Standard

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 7/3/19: REVISIT – Jojo’s Sports Grille, Medina

Standard
THE WHERE (we went)

So riddle me this: is it really a revisit if the person who picked it said they didn’t remember going there?

Our last time at Jojo’s Sports Grille was back in July of 2014 – which, sidebar, anyone else completely amazed that that was FIVE WHOLE YEARS ago already? I mean, WTH, universe – but it was also before we devised our revolutionary thumbs up/down rating system, so I mean, really how do we even remember what we thought of a place without that?

Exactly.

But honestly, it seems like Jojo’s really hasn’t changed much over the past half decade. They’re still in the same building, just away from the square in downtown Medina. And still connected – and by connected I mean sharing the building with – Domenics Italian Restaurant. So I guess that relationship is still going strong,

Jojo’s has a patio – but being that it was a nice evening in early summer, it’s no surprise that we weren’t able to find an open table for four. Or one, even. Guess this is the place to be, Medina.

The place is also still seat yourself – which I don’t remember working out so well for us the last time we visited, so I’m super excited they still haven’t found a better way of doing things. Because that fun walk of shame with a group of four people through the bar onto the patio, making a large circle and then retracing your steps back again will never be awkward.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

It’s too bad we didn’t take a hot second to look at the beer taps or coolers when we did our patio walk through, because our server wasn’t super up to speed on what was available. She was slightly knowledgeable with the beer options, so Ted was quick to choose the Truth on tap – although to be fair I think it was Cassi that had actually spotted that handle on our little walk. And Shane opted for a Bud Light – because, well, that’s usually a given that most places will have that on tap.

So maybe I’m actually giving the server a little too much unwarranted credit.

I chose Summer Shandy after learning the only cider option was Angry Orchard, which is essentially the PBR of ciders. No thanks. But then Cassi asked about White Claw or Truly, and was told they have both – specifically the Mango WC and the Berry Truly – so I changed my answer.

Just kidding. Our server returns to our table a little bit later with the beer for the guys, and one raspberry White Claw. Which is 1) neither of the flavors that she had said previously she was certain they had, and 2) one can less than what we ordered. Hmm.

I mean, if this is the last one left in the whole building just tell us straight up because we’ve found ourselves in this situation before and it’s not entirely pleasant.

She says they do have more, but she isn’t sure what flavors. Because, although you know we had specifically asked you about what was available, apparently you just closed your eyes and grabbed up a can at random out of the cooler? Did someone hand it to you relay race style as you passed by the bar and screamed “give me a hard sparkling water, stat!”

Doubtful.

Regardless, we told her to surprise us. It’s like Russian Roulette with alcoholic beverages. Live dangerously.

So there’s at least two flavors back there

Cool.

Another thing we remembered from our last visit was that Jojo’s had a very large and diverse menu. And that definitely hasn’t changed at all.

Shane looked up the old post, and the photos of the pizzas were enough to make his ordering decision on this visit slightly easier. The only debate he had was the eternal choice in toppings or specialty pizza. He was leaning toward the NY Style simply for the fact that it was a larger pizza, but then once he would’ve added literally ALL THE TOPPINGS it would’ve been about as much for his pizza as the bills for the entire table.

So he ordered the Domenic’s Deluxe instead. Which, let’s face it, was still pretty large, so I’d consider that a win.

A giant pizza, all for Shane

He also got a side order of jojo potatoes. Because, Jojo’s. Can you go to eat there and NOT order them?

I have to believe we made that same joke five years ago, too.

And clearly it was enough food for him, because he ended up taking three pieces home. And one slice of Cassi’s, after she declared she was not at all thrilled about her choice. And Shane wasn’t going to see it go to waste.

No one throws out pizza on Shane’s watch.

Cassi’s choice was the Veggie Pizza, with a side salad. She took one bite and gave it an “F” grade, victim of the dreaded mushy bottom. She said the toppings were good, but the crust killed it for her. And it was nothing like Tim’s, which is the standard by which all pizzas in her world will now be judged.

#notTim’s

This also spurred a lively debate between her and Shane regarding the merits of vegetables on pizza and how that affects crust moisture.

We take on the hard topics on Wednesday nights, folks.

Meanwhile, Ted and I were just over here enjoying our non-pizza meals, which included ten Sweet Chili Thai wings and an overstuffed Italian Panini for Ted.

And the Firecracker Panini for me, which – because the name doesn’t really make it obvious – was turkey, pepper jack cheese, and breaded jalepenos. And no, I wasn’t just going for the Independence Day theme. I was actually considering the turkey bacon panini, but I still have PTSD from a few weeks ago. Damn you, Wadsworth Tavern.

I think Ted loved the pickle the best out of his whole meal, if that tells you anything. Not to pick on the Wadsworth Tavern again – but, I mean, we will, because let’s face it they deserve it – but Ted said that pickle had more flavor than the supposedly pickle flavored wings he waited a year and a half for on that visit.

He wasn’t impressed with his Panini, saying it “wasn’t quite as advertised.” And by that he means that the menu calls it oversized, but his wasn’t much thicker than my regular panini.

I, on the other hand, really liked my regular old non-overstuffed sandwich. It definitely had a kick to it. My side salad, however, was essentially nothing more than a bowl of iceberg lettuce with some cheese, so I’m super glad I opted for that.

Especially since ordering it meant I had to almost draw a photo diagram for the server to describe what I was wanting to order with my sandwich. So, I wanted to keep the chips that came with the sandwich, AND add a side salad. Not substitute. Not remove one. Not bring one as an appetizer.

Because apparently no one has ever ordered two sides with a sandwich before. #trendsetter.

THE WHO (we saw)

Judging from the crowd when we walked in, all of Medina. It is a holiday eve after all. And nothing says “Night Before Independence Day” like eating Italian food, right?

Although about 25 minutes after our arrival we started seeing things clear out a little, at least in the dining room area. We guessed we were at the tail end of the dinner rush, so that was probably part of it – but then also judging from the huge crowd we saw sitting in the dark on lawn chairs in the park down the street on our drive home, it was probably also an easy dinner placement prior to the city fireworks display.

I mean, good thing we put that whole fireworks thing together or else that image could’ve been a little bit creepy, no?

Anyway.

Someone we didn’t see much of was – shocker – our server. Because her expertise with the bar beverages didn’t set that one up for you at all, I’m sure. Her visits were sporadic and not always productive, something we seemed to remember about the service on our last visit. So clearly they’re working on that.

THE HOW (much we spent)

Well, I’m glad lettuce and cheese is $3.49. That seems acceptable.

Overall, though, considering the amount of food we had, that tab isn’t horrible. If two people were to share a pizza along with some drinks it would be a pretty cheap night out.

But we all know how this group feels about sharing food, so there’s that.

THE WHY (they will probably see us again)

Despite the slow service and the fun game of dining table musical chairs you have to submit yourself to just to try and get a place to park yourself for your meal, Jojo’s does have a large menu and some decent options. And clearly their system is working for them, as they haven’t gotten any less busy in the five years between out visits. We said it last time and we’ll say it again – it would be a solid option for a take out place, since there’s always something new to try on the menu and you don’t have to take your chances on tables or bar drinks in the process. But really what fun is that?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

(We forgot to take our photos at the restaurant before we left, so thankfully Ted was making a stop for gas at the GetGo down the street. You’re welcome to the other drivers who got to witness our seemingly random photo session with the pizza box)

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Shane

WTGW 6/26/19: Jimmy’s on Portage, North Canton

Standard

THE WHERE (we went)

Welcome to summer, kids, when our weekly picks are sometimes based solely on the ability to sit on a patio we haven’t been to yet.

I think we all have to have two options as we go into each week – someplace that fits the previous statement, and a “Plan B” for if Mother Nature decides to be a whore and throw some thunderstorms or 1200% humidity in our direction about 10 minutes before we set out the door.

Gotta love you, Ohio.

Anyway, Jimmy’s on Portage does in fact have a decent sized patio, and you can tell that that’s where the crowd gravitates on nice evenings since they essentially shut down the interior portion of the restaurant in order to cater to that section. As in, when you enter you’re greeted with a sign directing you down the hallway to the patio. It’s like being invited over for a party and finding out the hosts didn’t want to clean the house in advance of people arriving so they just hang a sign on the front door directing everyone to the backyard.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Have we mentioned before how much we love servers who are able to actually tell us things they like on he menu, instead of just cheerfully replying that “everything is good”? We have? Well, OK then, I’ll mention it again, because our server at Jimmy’s was on the ball in this arena. Maybe she’s just used to answering this question – although, from the looks of the crowd, I’m guessing their clientele are primarily regulars and that a group of newbies like us is a true rarity – or maybe she was just wanting to be done with us and therefore just picking items out of thin air – but she honestly had a quick response that included something from every section of the menu. So regardless of her reasons, well, she chose wisely.

Her recommendations included crab cakes for apps, strawberry field salad under the lighter options, and the spicy signature burger for a sandwich. She also let us know that they were out of pizzas for the night, a tidbit that I think made the decisions of about half of our group slightly easier.

Ted took her suggestion on the signature burger, which he ordered with no cheese (shocker) and a side of baked beans. Apparently Ted is in the mood for a backyard barbeque this evening.

This is what arrived.

Now that’s a burger

Holy hell.

He was a bit unsure how to tackle eating this monstrosity. I mean, I think I would be more shocked at anyone who didn’t feel that way. But he did it. I have a video of the event, but I think I’ll save everyone that image and just post this as proof instead.

So that worked.

A guy across the bar later came over to commend Ted n his skills handling that burger, as he wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out when he saw Ted first picking it up.

Ted: Me either.

It should be noted that when we placed our orders he has also seriously been contemplating ordering a second sandwich – the grilled sausage sandwich – because he said it looked really good.

After what arrived in front of him in the form of that specialty burger, I’m going to go on record as saying it was probably a solid choice not to add that on to this order.

Maybe next time. Or maybe he’ll be better at persuading one of us to order it instead, something he tried REALLY HARD to do on this visit but to no avail.

Due in part because aside from this insane specialty three-burgers-in-one montrosity, the rest of the regular burger menu is only $5 on Wednesdays. And anyone who knows our group knows that we take frugality almost as seriously as we take our food choices.

So that’s what Shane opted for. Along with two Coney dogs. And an order of the sloppy taco nachos that he and I were sharing.

I think the server was impressed. Or scared. It’s hard to tell, those emotions can look similar when dealing with people who order their weight’s worth of food in one sitting.

Spoiler alert, Shane was cursing frugality once the meals arrived, because he was insanely jealous of Ted’s giant burger. i mean, not quite as jealous as the time at The Game when Ted ate a giant grease-dripping-from-every-edge burger while “healthy Shane” sat across from him eating some veggie nachos or quesadillas or something that wasn’t a salad bit that he chose in an attempt to not inhale a heart attack on a plate … but still. It was a close second.

I can’t imagine why Ted wouldn’t trade his giant burger for that bowl of liquid cheese that they call nachos here

I think Shane said at least five times that he really should’ve ordered that instead of the spread he ended up with. As impressive as it was.

Over on the “we don’t overdo it” side of the table, Cassi got the Italian sub, minus the peppercinis, and a side salad.

I got the BLT. Just kidding. I think I’m scarred for life on those after the Great Fakon Incident of 2019. Instead I opted for the $5 burger special with a side salad.

Are we even at the same table?

Remember how we were all excited because the server was great and knew everything on the menu and we thought this showed real potential because that’s something we LOVE about places we visit? Well, not to be outdone, Jimmy’s then turned around and hit us with the complete opposite, the thing we HATE most about restaurants … the dreaded mass food arrival.

When we’d been there for an hour and three rounds of drinks, and still hadn’t even seen the appetizers or salads, we kind of knew things were headed down this dark path. And then bam, here come three people out of the kitchen with literally ALL THE PLATES.

And people wonder why we always gravitate toward the largest table in the place?

I believe the words being spoken with a hand gesture here are “look at all this food!”

THE WHO (we saw)

So how do I put this gently … it was kind of like dining on the set of the movie Cocoon up in this place. I mean, on one hand, it’s nice to be in our 30s/40s and look around and feel like the youngest people on the patio. Well, I mean, other than the couple of people who were just a tiny bit younger than us and literally there with their parents. But then again, the last time we ended up at a place with a crowd this far out of our age range I think we were served the infamous tarter toast and not-sweet bean salad.

But that being said, this crowd wasn’t taking getting old sitting down. Or really, much of anything sitting down. There was a band on the patio this evening, and I think we were actually one of the few tables to not get up and rush the concrete area in front of the stage that was being used as a dance floor every time a new song started up.

That, folks, was worth the price of admission all in itself. Cuz some of those folks got moves.

THE HOW (much we paid)

$58 for an app, two burger specials, coney dogs, and eight draft beers (that’s three for me and five for Shane, if anyone is keeping track). Not too shabby.

Plus, I mean, the entertainment. Say no more.

THE WHY (they may see us again)

So the patio is actually pretty nice. There’s no view of a lake, or a golf course, or .. well … anything, really, since the patio is actually just a fenced in portion of the parking lot … but still. It’s spacious enough for several tables, a large bar, a stage and a dance floor. Compared with places that put like three cabaret tables in the middle of a public sidewalk and call that patio seating, I’d say this is a win.

And the food was honestly far better than expected given the idea I think we all got of Jimmy’s when we drove up (read: it obviously used to be a drive-thru restaurant of some kind – Arby’s maybe? – in a previous life). I mean, that burger Ted got was something else. I think we’ll be referencing that one as a burger by which other burgers should be compared against – even if it’s just in size alone – for some time to come. I have a feeling we’ll find ourselves here again down the road.

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Jason … but since he’s on hiatus at the moment due to scheduling conflicts, we defer to Ted

Steph

Cassi

Shane

Ted

*****UPDATE******

So as I was going in a few weeks later to put the finishing touches on this post, I discovered an article saying that Jimmy’s would actually be closing just a few days from now, on July 19th.
The Curse of Gus’ strikes again, perhaps? I guess it was foreshadowing that that restaurant was referenced in this post long before we knew the fate that Jimmy’s would take just a few weeks after our visit.
In any case, thanks for the fun night, Jimmy’s. We’re sorry we won’t get the chance to return.
And let’s have a brief moment of silence for this burger we’ll unfortunately never have the chance to experience again. At least we – or, well, Ted, anyway – had this one opportunity.
Sorry, Shane.

WTGW 6/19/19: Wadsworth Tavern, Wadsworth

Standard

THE WHERE (we went)

To the place where dreams are crushed.

Not really.

But, well, yeah, kinda.

I’m just going to leave this right here, with the disclaimer that all things are not exactly as they seem at the Wadsworth Tavern.

Looks impressive, right? Specials every day! And not just any specials – super fun things like a $5 taco/nacho buffet, a Bloody Mary Bar, and $2 Long Islands (!!). And what’s that at the bottom about a FREE chili and hot dog buffet? SAY WHAT?!?!? Sign. Us. Up.

Or, well, don’t. I mean … well … more on that in a bit.

Also apparently whatever this is, happens next door.

Um, OK. I’m not sure I want to know.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Let’s start with drinks, because – spoiler alert – that’s about the only thing that lives up to our expectations at this place. Cassi picked the Wadsworth Tavern this week not only because apparently choosing dive bars is her new forte, but because she saw a picture of some 20-ish taps, and thought that was right up our alley.

Truth.

We asked the bartender about ciders and were recommended some peach one on draft that turned out to be delicious. Three of the four of us chose that.

The other – who I may have mentioned in a previous post seems to be having a bit of an issue with his internal seasonal calendar – chose a maple ale. Because who needs to celebrate those short three months we call summer in Ohio when you can just go straight to the autumnal beverages?

The WT has a larger menu than what we expected to see when we walked in, although I think after viewing the specials board we maybe were already changing our tune a bit from our first impression. We also chatted extensively with the bartender, who gave us a lot of insight into the menu, the specials, the history of the place, what we should order, and so on.

Sounds great, right?

Yeah, let’s just say that if we had left after a few rounds and maybe just the appetizers we ordered, we might be writing a very different review right now. I can say for sure that we would’ve shaved a few hours off of our home arrival time, since the Wadsworth Tavern apparently only has four small ovens in the back room that they call a kitchen. Four. Small. Ovens. No fryers. No large stovetop. It’s like cooking everything college dorm style, with an electric hot plate and a toaster oven.

We discovered this as the bartender was taking our orders – and at least she had the sense to warn us, as we were placing our usual orders large enough to feed the small army we morph into on Wednesdays – that things were going to take a while to come out. Especially wings. Because, no fryer.

But yet we forged on. Because we’re glutton for punishment. And because we were hungry, and the menu looked good, and so far the drinks tasted great, and it’s Wednesday wing special night.

But mostly the punishment thing, I think. Because here’s the time when our final dishes of food – the wings – hit the bartop in front of us:

We’re going to be up past our bedtimes, kids.

9:10 people. Past sundown in any other season than summer. Bedtime for small children, and people over 80. The time we usually think about packing it in and trudging the 30-ish minutes home, since, you know, we all have to work in the morning. But sure, let’s get a good portion of our dinner at that time. Sounds great.

So that’s fun.

But, I mean, we’d had several stages of food delivered to us by this point (well, except Cassi, who had only ordered two different kinds of wings and some fries – so she was about to Shane’s stage of “I WILL EAT MY ARM IF THE FOOD DOESN’T COME OUT SOON” hunger), so really at least we could just package those last items up at that point and take them home for another day.

Unfortunately they were the items we were most looking forward to, a new flavor of wings called pickleback – which, when described, sounded pretty much like what it a deep fried pickle and a chicken wing had a baby.

Pickle wings

(Yeah, so, after everyone tried them later on, we can say that really wasn’t the best representation after all. Disappointingly, the flavor wasn’t there. The dill was there, but not the pickle flavor. Jason ate Cassi’s leftovers after drowning them in ranch dressing, if that tells you anything.)

Moving on …

So, as mentioned, the food came out in stages. You know by now this is a trend we are particularly unfond of. But, I mean, apps first is customarily OK in our books, so the arrival of fried green beans for Ted and potato skins for Shane and I was met with some celebration.

The healthier version of French fries

The potato skins came with a just the other side of sketch squeeze packet of sour cream that maybe would cover one potato. Thanks anyway.

Just, no

And both of those items were good. The green beans had a decent flavor to them and were crispy enough, and the potato skins had all the right toppings (well other than the sketchy dairy side product).

Next out were the sandwiches, in a very one at a time fashion.

Kids, it just goes downhill from here.

Ted got the meatball sub.

Shane decided on the chicken parm sandwich, which came highly recommended by the bartender in the usual inquisition of items we should be ordering.

I got the BLT and fries. I was given three bread choices: wrap, rye or texas toast. Looking at the picture below, what would you say I had picked?

Yeah, so, apparently in Wadsworth the definitely of “Texas Toast” is “plain white bread, non-toasted.” Noted.

Also, can we just talk for a minute about fake bacon, and why this should never, ever, be a thing on a sandwich? Especially a sandwich where it’s the main ingredient? The menu description called this sandwich a “bacon lover’s dream.” More like nightmare. I’m not sure what piece of cardboard was sacrificed and sprayed with bacon flavored cooking spray to make this delicacy, but if you’re trying to turn people to vegetarianism this is a poor way to do so.

The moral here is: if you’re going to offer something with bacon, you need a stovetop to cook it on. Not a microwave. Not a toaster oven. Not a candle and a campfire skillet or whatever Frontiersman-esque cooking device we were convinced by the end of our visit was actually back in the kitchen area.

I also traded my fries with Shane, and ate his chips instead. Again, since they are without a fryer, the fries are cooked in an oven – which means they have this odd breading over them and are less crispy and more like a breaded potato. Which worked for the green beans – but not so much the fries in my opinion. Ted also recognized the seasoning on them as Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Such originality.

Cassi (who ordered a basket of them to go along with her wings, thankfully) and Shane seemed to like them ok, but I would definitely add those to my never-order-again list.

Although, that meant that Shane’s chips really became the highlight of my meal – because, well, compared to fake bacon and white bread and Lawry’s flavored breaded French fries, that was the one thing they really couldn’t screw up. Open bag, pour into tray. Done.

Considering the rest of the evening’s debacle, though, I’m somewhat surprised they didn’t throw a bunch of random but common spices on them – onion salt! garlic powder! oregano! – and try to call them something fancy.

THE WHO (we saw)

Um.

So counting us, there were a grand total of 8 people inside the Wadsworth Tavern this evening.

Eight.

Four of them were our group, two were a couple who roamed in to have a few drinks, one was the bartender, and one was presumably her friend – who was sitting at the bar talking to her when we came in, then left when we got settled at the bar, only to return later on.

OH! I almost forgot about the second bartender, who arrived to relieve the first bartender at the end of her shift … only she couldn’t leave yet, because she was still cooking our food over a half hour after she was supposed to be gone.

So nine.

No, considering how long it took us to get our food, I guess we should be super glad that no one else was there to make the bartender busier and less focused on the task at hand. Or to order more food. I mean could you imagine? Anyone who ordered anything after us would probably still be there waiting for it to be served to them.

Now, we did talk to bartender #1 quite a bit throughout the evening – presumably because we were literally the only ones there, and we’re also not quiet.

So that’s how we found out that she had been a chef at several upscale restaurants before coming here. She’s the kitchen manager at Wadsworth Tavern, but picked up a few bar shifts to help out, which was how she was the only one working there that evening.

And yes, she was very knowledgeable about food. She answered our myriad of questions about the menu, talked a lot about how they are trying to revamp the menu to make more sense for the establishment that they are (her comments about why a small bar in the middle of a small town needs four different salads on the menu were hilarious and spot on), and you could tell she clearly loved working in a kitchen.

Which is why we had such hope after talking to her. Why, when she explained the kitchen situatioin to us and told us it would take at least 30 minutes to get our french fries because of that, we naively thought “well, that’s OK, because it will be worth it.”

Silly us.

THE HOW (much we paid)

I forgot to get a pic of the receipt (sorry, I was half asleep by that point in the night) – but I do remember it was $59 for Shane and I, before tip. That covers an order of wings, two sandwiches, an app, and six draft ciders.

I don’t think this would’ve been too bad if we’d been happy with the quality of the meal. But when the wings are on special and the bacon is made in the microwave, I kind of expect a better bargain.

Now if we’re paying rent on our barstools, though, I’d say we got a great deal. I mean, not that anyone was exactly waiting in line to kick us off of them – but still.

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

You guys. It was such a roller coaster for us this week. Let’s just recap:

– Pull into completely empty parking lot, take in the strange sign next door … and think we might be taking our lives into our own hands walking into this place.
– But it’s nice inside! And daily specials! And lots of different kinds of beer! And HOT DOG BAR ON SUNDAYS!!! WE ARE TOTALLY NEVER LEAVING!!!
– Oh wait, we’re the only ones here. Cue ominous music.
– Hey, I’m your friendly bartender and I have a ton of experience being a chef other places, so you can totally trust that this will be a great night. GUYS, WE SHOULD TOTALLY TAKE A WEEK OF VACATION AND GET A HOUSE IN WADSWORTH AND JUST COME HERE EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.
– Just kidding, it turns out said bartender is making all of our food in an Easy Bake Oven circa 1974, so it will be about next Tuesday before she’ll get it all brought out to us. Try not to starve! Oh, and trust her nose to tell her when it’s ready. Because I’m sure that’s taught in chef school.
– Have several more delicious ciders, and enjoy the music selection that’s just slightly younger than the oven.
– But seriously, can we just get those wings to go? Because we actually didn’t rent that house, and do have to work tomorrow.
– Fake bacon on white bread will never be something we can get excited about. Nor should we.

Cassi

Ted

Shane

Steph

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick: Steph

WTGW 5/29/19: PICK’S at PLX, Portage Lakes

Standard

THE WHERE (we went)

Hey kids, it’s patio season again!

And this week’s pick is certainly the poster child for an evening of outdoor dining and drinks. PICK’S is a newer addition to Portage Lakes, and being that it’s located right on the waterfront of course it’s a natural crowd draw. Formerly Nicolette’s Park Place Restaurant and also the catchily named Hook, Line and Drinkers, PICK’s has new owners who remodeled and turned the building into a couple of separate-but-maybe-the-same-but-they-have-different-names-but-share-a-kitchen-but-one-is-trying-to-be-classier-than-the-other venues all under one roof and patio space.

Yet another place that probably should’ve just claimed the name Identity Crisis and been done with it. Seriously, One day we’re going to find a place that takes us up on that concept, whether by our suggestion or not.

Bet you won’t be surprised then that we had a bit of a difficult time trying to figure out just how and where to go to get ourselves a seat in this land of patios and a million names. We walked into the upstairs restaurant first (I believe that one goes by the name Table 530) – but it seemed a little fancy for the patio bar we had heard about and expected to partake in.

So we walked out and followed the noise to the back of the building, where we located a (fully seated) side bar, as well as several layers of decks over the water. And a live band.

About this point we realized we were in the right place, but needed to enlist help in order to ensure a seat. So Jason stopped a girl wearing what looked to be the same shirt that every other worker was wearing, and inquired how we go about getting a table. Her reply? “Yeah, I don’t work over here.” Hmmm. That seems highly unlikely, and more like the answer you give when you just don’t want to be bothered having to find out the real one. Awesome.

We finally flagged down another worker (wearing the same shirt, shocker) – only to have her tell us that we could just basically sit anywhere. Oh. Fabulous. Might want to share that tidbit with the girl who’s raiding your t-shirt stock. Or maybe just make a sign with that information. Just a thought.

All that to say that we ended up with a table inside and not on the patio, since we clearly weren’t the only ones with this idea tonight and we were also late to the literal party.  But at least with the garage doors rolled up it was similar to being outside. And it’s only May peeps, hopefully we still have several months ahead of us to stake out that coveted patio table. Chill.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Hey, look, all the servers are wearing t-shirts advertising White Claw, so at least we know they have it! Yay!

Yeah, just kidding. They’re sold out. Apparently that’s all anyone was drinking over the recent Memorial Day weekend? I mean, guess there’s no sense in restocking or anything.

Oh, wait, the holiday crowd also enjoys Summer Shandy, because they were all out of that also.

Ted ended up with a Guinness. Because nothing says light, summery, patio/beachy drink like a heavy dark Irish beer usually reserved for a winter holiday.

Beer twins Shane and Jason opted for draft Bud Light.

I picked some Michelob Ultra Lime thing, pretty much only because after the two strikes with White Claw and Summer Shandy, it was the most likely option not to be sold out. Well, other than Guinness.

Cassi waited to put a drink order in on that first round, since the White Claw debacle left her unsure of a Plan B. This turned out to be a bad move on her part, since it was at least an hour before the next opportunity arose for her to ask the server to put in a drink order for her.

More on that later.

The Wednesday special is a pepperoni flatbread for $7.99. So why not order that as an app to share?

And by share I mean just for two people to share, not five – so we ended up with two giant pizzas on our table just for appetizers, as well as one order of fried pickles for Ted.

Nothing new there, I know.

Cassi and I both got the Italian Grinder with chips and dip.

Jason got a burger.

Shane got garlic parm wings.

Ted got the perch sandwich and a crock of chili. I seriously think his internal calendar is a little off. I’m not even sure why chili is on a menu in late May, but I would be a little wary. Clearly Ted is a man who takes chances.

The guys also switched to buckets of beer after Ted told them he “saw a sign” stating that they were $12 each. Yeah, he forgot to read the fine print on the sign that says during UFC fights. Whoops.

Also, you’ll notice they didn’t share a bucket. They each got their own. So five beers each, on top of the ones they had ordered in the first round.

I told you Wednesdays were the new Fridays.

Ted’s disappointment was obvious when the fried pickles arrived in the form of spears instead of chips. Note to restaurant owners: stop trying to make this a thing. If we wanted to eat pickles that look like breadsticks we would just go back to Dilly D’s. We do have an unused gift card, after all.

The flatbread was probably the best part of the meal. The crust was good, it had decent flavor, and it was served nice and hot with melted cheese – which may have been the one and only reason Ted was happy he had those fried pickles, in whatever iteration they were served.

Shane liked his wings, said they were tasty.

Cassi was not a fan of the Italian sub, claiming it fell victim to the dreaded curse of the mushy bottom. It’s not just for pizza, kids. Meanwhile, I thought mine was OK. I took half home, just because when you order a meal as an appetizer you kind of end up with a lot of food.

Or at least I tried to take it home anyway. More on that shortly.

THE WHO (we saw)

Dear server,

We miss you. We shouldn’t have to order six buckets of beer at a time just to stay hydrated until we see you again.

Oh and we like food. I mean, we kinda wanted to put that appetizer order in when you arrived with the first round of drinks, but I guess we just didn’t look hungry enough. Our bad.

Also, I’m not sure what kind of commission you get on not handing out boxes, but it must be lucrative. For the record, “I’d love a box” – or, the less friendly derivative, “Still waiting on that box” – isn’t exactly a warm and welcoming reaction to the question “how are you guys doing here?” Staring at plates of half eaten food that we already know we aren’t planning on finishing that evening wasn’t exactly the way we had planned to spend the final hour of our time with you, but I guess you had other ideas for us.

If you want to be mad at someone for the time you bounced up all proud of yourself for bringing the box I had asked for at least four times, only to arrive at our table and see that I already had one … well, you may want to speak with your manager, who knew exactly the correct translation of my mentioned-above answer when he stopped at our table. In fact, I would wager a bet that he spoke with you after we left, so hopefully that’s all clear now.

And when you finally took our credit cards and we felt like the end of this evening may finally be in sight … nope, you marched off to the patio and collected like six more checks. Forgive our mistrust in thinking we were probably going to be paying for Shirley’s PBRs or receiving back Bearded Tom’s Mastercard in place of our own.

Sorry not sorry,
Us.

So that pretty much covers the service issue.

Aside from the fun game of rationing out our drinks and taking bets on when we thought we might actually see our server the next time, our entertainment for the evening was a guy singing beach music in the opposite corner of the patio. Well, at least we think that’s what he was singing anyway. It was probably the only time ever that the music volume was more like background noise and less like something we had to scream over to be heard at our own table.

Speaking of screaming, we heard quite of bit of that from several other tables in the vicinity. Usually when he next platter of shots arrived. Seems like vodka may be the next item on the menu to go temporarily unavailable. Just an observation.

THE HOW (much we paid)

Hey, remember those beer buckets? Looks like they were only $15. I mean, still more than the sign Ted saw, but I guess paying only $3 more than anticipated isn’t so bad. We’ll file that under the “could’ve been worse” tab.

THE WHY (we may or may not return)

We all know that service can kill a place for us. And this place definitely tops the list of worst of the worst. I think by the end of the night we had dubbed it the place for which beer buckets were invented – so you can order several beers at once and then never have to see your server again in the course of your stay.

But we also noticed that several other servers seemed to be busting their butts taking care of their patrons. There was one in particular who was mixing up drinks behind the bar as well as hustling out to tables. So I guess if we could guarantee that we were to get one of those servers, we would be more likely to put this place at the top of the return column. Because honestly the food was OK – I mean, we may order some different things, but we all agreed that we would eat there again. And the atmosphere was great, it’s definitely a place to spend a summer evening or weekend afternoon, especially with a good band that you could actually hear, and nice weather.

I happened across this little gem from about a year ago in which the new owner raves about how they are “trying hard to tackle customer service … we want to be customer service friendly.”

Yeah, keep trying there, Donnie. We may just come back again before this summer is over to see how you’re doing.

Picked by: Shane
Next pick: Cassi

Shane

Ted

Steph

Jason

Cassi

WTGW 3/20/19: Thirsty Dog Taphouse, Akron

Standard

THE WHERE (we went)

Hey, look kids, it’s someplace that’s not a half hour away in the middle of nowhere!

Which makes it all the more surprising that we haven’t been to Thirsty Dog Taphouse prior to this visit. While the brewery itself has been around for a while (and we’ve definitely sampled their beer offerings at other locations around the area over the years), the taphouse with food offerings is fairly new. Maybe it opened last summer? You’d think a group like ours would know these things, right? And especially when it’s this close to home, we’re usually quicker to jump on them. Instead we’re busy fleshing out spots on backroads in Massilon. Whateves.

Another plus – TDT not only serves their own craft beers, but also has a full bar available. So those nights you’re just not feeling the 12% porter, go ahead and get yourself a few stiff shots of Jameson instead.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Flights of beer. Duh.

High tech post it note abbreviation system

That was all me, Shane and Ted. On the other side of the table, Cassi stuck with the raspberry ale, while Jason tried a couple of different full sized glasses.

On the food side of things, it seems our table was decisively either Team Sliders

Pulled pork, meatball and sausage. It’s hard to tell which is which, but they’re all there.

or Team Pizza

Cassi’s pepperoni and banana pepper

Ted’s jalapeno and sausage

My sausage, mushroom and extra cheese

Well, except Jason, who had to be different and get the pulled pork.

And Shane, who apparently just couldn’t get enough of sandwiches this evening, so he added a full kielbasa to his order of sliders.

That’s a lot of bread

And Ted got both the sliders and pizza. Way to be impartial.

So there’s that.

We also got a few orders of pretzels for apps, because we obviously had no idea how many carbs were about to arrive at this table.

The pretzels were really good. We all liked them, and the cheese and mustard dipping sauces were all good, too – if not completely inappropriately portioned to the amount of pretzel that came with them.

Oh, and Cassi also got a salad.

Everything was very good. The pizzas were tasty, and giant – so definitely enough for a take home container. I was glad to have splurged on the extra cheese as a topping, it was well worth the $2.00 upcharge.

Ted voted the pulled pork slider the best of his trio, with the meatball coming in second and the sausage last. When he threw this vote out, Shane had only eaten the meatball. Because, you know, he had that whole kielbasa sandwich to get through first. Technicality. So he saved his pulled pork slider for last, based on Ted’s vote.

So trusting.

But it worked out for him, he was I agreement that that was the best of the three. So maybe Jason was on to something with just ordering that full sandwich from the get go, eh?

THE WHO (we saw)

Hey, Wednesday night, thanks for bringing your party to the Taphouse! In March, no less. Not too shabby of a crowd for the middle of the week – or maybe we’re just scarred from last week with the old timers and melancholy jukebox hero from Wil’s. In any case, tonight we were joined by a few other full tables of folks, plus a couple of groups at the bar.

All this, and they’re only open until 9pm.

Wait, what now? That seems a tad Cinderella-ish to close down the party that early in the evening. Let’s just say we were the last table out the door, and they were literally locking it behind us. At 8:55.

Huh. Noted.

Our server was also the only bartender on staff this evening. So considering what I just mentioned, they really could’ve used more than one person, no? It took her a hot minute to come get our drink orders after we arrived, which she told us was because someone had come in wanting to fill a growler. Well OK then.

And when she finally did take our food order she was not at all impressed with how much of the menu we selected. Bonus points for when I inquired about what she recommended in the battle of the pizza vs. sliders … and her reply was the old classic “they’re both good.” Bravo. We all know how much this group finds that answer super helpful and not at all dismissive.

We also found ourselves in another “you ordered last so you get to watch everyone else eat” situation. When she brought Shane’s and Jason’s sandwiches she warned us it would still be a full five minutes on the last pizza. Oh, cool. That might’ve been better information to have when I ordered, but thanks.

THE HOW (much we spent)

In case you can’t read the fine print, that’s $75 before tip. So almost $90 total out the door.

Ouch.

That definitely makes this one of our more expensive nights out in a while. And it’s not like we got steaks and bottle service. Also, the menu itself isn’t even that extensive. I think approximately half of the available items ended up on our table at some point in the evening.

It did seem like the pizzas were kind of pricey, but I’m guessing they probably expected groups of people to split those. Little did they know that this table is more like

THE WHY (they may see us again)

Cool vibe, although literally rolling up the sidewalks at 8:55 was a bit of a downer. The food was pretty good and so was the beer. And it’s close to home, which is always something we’re searching for. But the hefty price tag may make us rethink this as a crowd favorite.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Ted

Jason

Cassi

Steph

Shane

WTGW 11/21/18: Mac’s Cabana #9, Akron

Standard

Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and … well, we were out eating and drinking, because it’s always a Wednesday night.

It’s only been five years now, folks. Pay attention.

Shane had a special request to take on this year’s annual pick, so we shuffled things around a bit to give him the honor. And let me tell you, what an honor it was.

Mac’s Cabana #9 is … well … about the furthest thing you can get from a cabana, ever. I think from the name we were picturing something resembling a tiki bar, perhaps, or maybe something beach themed. Yeah, no. It’s clearly just another dive bar, which happen to be in an old Lawson’s or Dairy Mart or whatever convenience store you most align with. Because that screams “welcome to our beach bar,” no?

No.

Although you have to wonder right off about a place that has a number sign in the title. Yes, kids, I said NUMBER SIGN – because long before # was called a hashtag, it was used to denote numbers. But, like, why is it #9? Is this the ninth attempt and they finally feel they got it right? Are there eight more somewhere else? Does Mac just like nines the best? WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

In our case I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it means “9 times out of 10 we won’t choose to return here.”

Not that I think any of the regulars would be upset about that, since we pretty much heard the record screech and the deafening silence after our group of newbies entered. That was after we passed a guy on the way in who stopped dead in his tracks to stare at our group, and said aloud “Oh, well, OK then.”

Good to see you as well.

Moving on … we find a table for the group, and realize we’re actually out early enough for happy hour. Yay! Hey, nice bartender lady, what specials might we be able to take advantage of?

Yeah, she had no idea. Super.

Instead, she asked if we were eating, and then – in what has become a somewhat weekly and definitely unwelcome game – she had to go search out some menus. All three of them. And when we asked about any food specials she pointed and said “whatever is on the board over there.”

Oh, wait, you mean the board that we couldn’t see from our table because there was a giant crowd of bar patrons standing in front of it? That’s helpful. Why can’t you just walk over and read them to us? Or maybe glance at it enough times to perhaps have committed a few of them to memory? I mean, you do pass it every time you have to come to our table and all.

But then again we also asked her what beers she had on draft, and were basically told to read the handles ourselves. So even though she’s behind the bar all the time, she didn’t know. Or couldn’t remember. Or just didn’t want to tell us. DO YOU EVEN WORK HERE?

I’m not sure if all of this is painting a better picture of her personality or the place in general.

Wisely, Shane didn’t even bother asking her what meals were good there. By this point I think we were all starting to realize that no one really eats at Mac’s. Or talks to strangers. Or knows how to do their jobs.

So this seems promising.

But hey, since the whole point of this is to try new places, of course we stuck it out and put in our food orders. And then just crossed our fingers that they arrived at the table correctly.

So far so good on the appetizers. Although when you order an array of fried things, you kind of hope that falls on the difficult to screw up list. Shane and I ordered mozzarella sticks, and Ted got the fried green beans.

Looks normal

The only acceptable way to eat vegetables in our group

Ted liked his app. He said the breading was Italian seasoned, and they were crunchy without being overdone.

Ours were, well, cheese sticks. I mean, there’s really nothing new I can say about them except that they tasted like breaded cheese, so at least we know we got the right thing.

Cassi and Jason were a little more adventurous, choosing the bacon cheddar fries. They didn’t say much about them, but did eat them, so I’m going to assume they were acceptable.

Just proving you can add cheese to anything to make it better

For meals, it was burgers for four out of five of us. Because, you know, even when given the choice to pick anything off of a menu that has more than two things, that’s typically still our go to option.

Ah, that joke never gets old. Right, Shane?

Anyway.

I got the Bacon, Mushroom and Swiss burger with onion rings.

The real toppings are hiding apparently, because this looks a lot like just a lettuce and onion burger

Ted got the Cabana Burger, which was like my burger, but it had the seasoning baked into it and was topped with a wasabi mayo. According to Ted, it was “just different enough that he had to order it.”

It sure doesn’t look different. Maybe we should’ve turned the flash on?

Shane got the Bacon Cheeseburger Special with fries. So did Jason. Try to hide your surprise on that one. Instead focus on the fact that something from the specials menu actually did exist.

OK, never mind on that flash. Some things are more appetizing in the dark. It is a dive bar, after all.

Meanwhile, the only non-burger order of the group goes to Cassi, who chose the BLT with egg and cheese, along with a side of onion rings.

One of these things is not like the other

Shane also got six of the Sriacha Bourbon jumbo wings. Or at least that’s what the menu called them. They arrived looking strangely like just normal sized wings.

Cassi: Those are jumbo?
Shane: I guess to some people.

Must’ve gotten the runt of the “jumbo” chicken group

The food was … well … about as impressive as the service at this place, which should tell you about everything you need to know at this point. But I’ll elaborate anyway.

The burgers were dry. Which I guess we should’ve known was coming – because, as Jason pointed out, when they don’t ask anyone how they want the burgers cooked, we should pretty much assume that means they’ll arrive more well done than those hot dogs you see that have clearly been on the gas station roaster for the past 24 hours.

Ted’s was slightly better because all of the seasoning was baked into it – which is saying something considering his also had no cheese holding it together – so I guess his attempt at ordering something different paid off in this case. But by slightly better that also doesn’t necessarily mean it was by any means good, so take that as you will.

According to Shane, the only reason to order that burger again would be if there was a battery acid spill somewhere nearby that needed cleaned up. Because that’s a raving endorsement, no?

We did agree that the bun – which was buttered and toasted – was by far the best part of the sandwich. So I guess if you’re in the mood to pay $9 for some bread then this is your place. Although to that I’d say that a full bag of hamburger buns – even the fancy kind – and a stick of butter are far less expensive at the grocery store, and you’ll probably also get better service, so maybe just go that route.

Hey, speaking of, let’s check back in with that server who didn’t know the specials, or the beers, or really anything about the place other than how to serve drinks to the regulars crowded around the bar, shall we? Yeah, well, we’d love to, but we haven’t seen her since our food arrived at the table, so guess we’re on our own here. Jason was waiting for ketchup for pretty much the entirety of our meal – which makes the time we asked for ketchup and got a boatful of it sound pretty appealing in retrospect. The next time we saw our delightful server was when she happened to glance over and take a cue that we were ready to make our way out the door, so she thought best to bring our checks before we disappeared.

And – shocker – she also managed to screw those up. Our check had Jason’s name on it, while Cassi and Jason’s had Shane’s on it. I get that they ordered the same thing, but really they are different people. And Ted even took the time to walk the server through who was on what checks before she went to draw them up.

Hi, my name is ______

*sigh*

It wasn’t until she tried to run Jason’s card that she realized the mistake she had made with the names on the checks. Oh, hi there reality, welcome to the party. She came back over and admitted her mistake, because apparently the computers were down – after our card and Ted’s were both run with no problems, so that’s kind of weird, but whatever. Since we were more than ready to get out of this non-Cabana by this point, Jason just gave her cash … and then we waited for her to return with change. And waited. And discussed where to go next to get more drinks, since it was still early and this place was not worthy of any more of our money.

But wait … apparently our server thought she was just that, as it soon became obvious that “do you need change” was a question of the rhetorical variety in her book. Because as we watched, she went back about serving patrons at the bar, clearly thinking we were about to just be out of her life forever without another thought. Um, no. See, funny story, you only get to keep that amount of money if you actually pay attention to your patrons. You know, like those regulars at the bar that you definitely prefer talking to – they probably tip you well. And it’s probably well deserved, considering the number of shots you’re convincing them to buy, and the quickness with which you refill their beers. But us new people at the table who don’t know the beer handles by heart … well, let’s just say we don’t tip ghosts over here.

After an awkward confrontation in which Jason had to approach her and explain that no, really, you aren’t worth all of the extra money left over from the bill, we naturally got the hell out of there faster than a gang of bank robbers. Which means we forgot to take our photos first, because, well let’s just say we all enjoy NOT getting into bar fights, especially early in the evening before a holiday.

While Mac’s was a bust, that’s not to say the entire evening was a wash, as we ended up getting a few rounds of drinks down at the new South Point Tavern in Green (which only serves drinks, no food, so it was worth a stop as a #2 on an already-number-themed WTGW) and then ended the evening with an epic karaoke session at The Clubhouse – where we almost did see a bar fight – over napkins, apparently, of all things – but it had nothing to do with our group so it made it far more acceptable. And since we didn’t eat there, it’s still a solid choice for someone down the road, so I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of this place for the WTGW crew. Just putting that out there.

We’ll bring our own napkins, though, just in case.

Picked by: Shane