WTGW 10/3/18: Little City Grill, Kent

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This week’s visit is proof positive that marketing works, folks. And the inventor of the table tent should be damn proud of himself for that stellar invention.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Little City Grill is one of those places that I feel like a few of us have mentioned over the years since its opening, but somehow we just never made it in the door until now. I know I for one have received several Groupon emails with this place as a feature – which, just to give you a little insight into how my consumer mind works when it comes to these emails, can be somewhat intriguing (oh, hey, a new place opened up, making a note to go try it sometime) until it crosses the line into daunting (oh hey, that not-so-new place is STILL getting themselves the featured spot on the Groupon newsletter, maybe business isn’t so good and I should probably read some reviews to see why).

Fascinating, I know. Restaurants, take note.

Space is definitely at a premium inside Little City Grille, so I guess their name is appropriate. The host started to put us at a table in the back room, which would’ve essentially secluded us from the rest of the restaurant – thus making us believe that perhaps our reputation preceded us following last week’s not-made-for-dinner-conversations at the fancy house restaurant.

But then they remembered there was actually at table near the front that would hold the five of us, so we were stationed there instead. Probably a better choice, because I have to believe if you give us our own room where we think no one can hear us then we’ll probably just end up being even louder. We’re like kindergarteners in that respect.

And in several other respects, too, but that’s a tale for another time.

The place has a pretty decent craft beer list, which to my delight also included several ciders. Although – less to my delight – it seems that my curse of ordering the one thing on the menu that they *just* ran out of still holds true. Awesome. I tried to get a cucumber ginger cider – just because, well, it sounded intriguing and I really just wanted to say I tried it … but of course they didn’t have it. I’d like to think that was because it’s probably hideous and the universe was just saving me to trouble of figuring that out on my own. Also, at least the server warned me when I placed the order that he wasn’t sure he had any left so at least I could give him a backup option.

And it wasn’t this.

Spooky beer

Hey, surprise, Shane asked the server what he should order! Shocking, I know. The server didn’t really point out any specifics, but instead mentioned that all of their food was known for including “quality ingredients.”

I’m not sure any of us knew how that would affect our orders. We pretty much just smiled and nodded our way through that conversation.

And then proceeded to ask the server about the one thing that probably has nothing to do with “quality ingredients” on the menu … OK, technically, it wasn’t on the menu – but instead a lovely photographic table tent ad that made them look downright delicious … or maybe we were just hungry … in any case, the one thing on our minds as soon as the server asked if we knew what we wanted was the Flaming Hot Onion Rings.

AM I RIGHT? I mean, you haven’t even seen a photo of these yet and already I know you’re thinking to yourself, damn, that WTGW group sure knows how to find the best food in town.

Well, don’t hold your breath on that photo. Apparently my curse has now extended into the food side of things, since they also were out of those as well. Or, rather, I think they technically HAD them … but the server didn’t advise us to order them. He said the breading “didn’t hold together as well as they had hoped” – and so the creation was nixed.

Ted pointed out that they may want to remove the ad from the tables then. Seems logical, no?

The server laughed … but left the table tent.

OK then.

Shane and I were too disappointed to order another appetizer. Well, OK, that’s only partially true – we didn’t order an app, but more so because we didn’t see anything else on the menu we had to have, so we just went straight to our main orders.

Cassi and Jason picked their heads up out of the sea of disappointment and ordered the tater tots. They arrived in a pitcher, which threw us all off.

That’s an odd drink choice

We’re not sure if this was just to try and make us laugh again after our onion ring letdown, or if this is truly how they’re always served. In any case, it achieved a goal of being one of the stranger things we’ve ever seen, if that’s at all what they were going for.

For meals it was burgers for 3/5 of the table, with Cassi getting the Gourmet Burger, and Shane and Jason both getting the “Curteous” Burger. I’m guessing it’s named after a “Curt” who either created it, or ordered it once and wouldn’t stop raving about it, or orders it every week, or some backstory that the Little City Grill clearly doesn’t think us important enough to be privy to, so I’m just going to make up something on my own, thank you very much.

Burger with a backstory

Really the biggest different between the guys’ burgers and Cassi’s was that theirs came with more toppings. Guess that Curt guy doesn’t care for the plain.

They all said that the burgers were good, although maybe just a touch well done. Shane of course knew this was going to be an issue when the server walked away without asking anyone how they liked their burgers cooked. I mean, not enough of an issue for him to change his order, or even eat less than the entire burger … but at least he saw it coming.

Cassi also commented that her bun was a bit too big for the burger itself – but that it was grilled so that helped lessen the disappointment a little. And it also wasn’t mushy, so there’s that.

It does look a little top heavy

She got a side salad with her sandwich, as did Ted with his meal. If you had to guess, who would you say this salad belonged to?

I’ll take things we don’t see often at our table for $1000 please

Does it make it easier if I mention that the salad is supposed to come with cheese?

There we go. Gave that one away, I know.

Anyway.

The cheese-less salad wasn’t the only thing that Ted ate at Little City Grill – he also got the lamb chop dinner. Classy, right? And here we were trying to order flaming hot onion rings at this same establishment.

Ted fancies up our Fun Wednesday

Ted liked the lamb chops themselves. His issue was with the potatoes that came with his dinner, which he said were cooked in too much oil. He even made a point to show us all how it pooed on his plate after he was finished with the meal.

To which I pointed out that it wasn’t as bad as the oil spill tht followed the Great Northfield Wing Incident a few months back, if that was any consolation.

I still shudder thinking about that. Or dry heave. Whatevs.

I got the Philly cheesesteak with tater tots.

Bar food done right

It was pretty good. The bun was grilled but still soft without being mushy, and the steak was well seasoned and very tasty. The tots were probably my least favorite part of the meal, and you know that means a lot coming from me.

Also, can we just talk for a moment about how that picture of my sub with Ted’s dinner in the background looks like we’re eating at two different places while at the same table? Thanks, Ted. Even his plate is fancier.

Hey, remember the table tent that tried to sell us an imaginary food? The server must’ve felt bad for that incident, because he brought over another table tent as we were finishing up our meal – this time advertising a Black Raspberry Ombre Cake that he assured us actually was available to order.

For once something actually looks like the advertisement photo

I mean, how can you look at this and NOT order it? It’s almost too pretty to even believe it’s real.

Oh, but it is.

GIVE ME ALL THE SUGAR. NOM NOM NOM

We ended up with two orders of that – one for me and Shane, and one for Cassi and Jason. Not one to be deterred by pretty colorful photos, Ted chose the Chocolate Banana Cake from the picture-less traditional menu that the server read off to us. Clearly he’s the one out of the group who doesn’t need the instruction manuals with photo assistance.

No pretty colors here.

The pretty purple cake was good … and while I hate to point out anything wrong with it because it was just so pretty … we all agreed that we felt it could’ve been a little more moist. And no, I’m not just saying that as an excuse to use a word that about 96.7% of the population (myself included) absolutely hates. I mean, the only thing good to come from that word is the HIMYM episode where they all have to go watch Barney’s crappy play about robots.

Also – I mean, as long as we’re going to go ahead and point out things that we didn’t like about the insanely beautiful piece of basked goodness – the icing was pretty much pure sugar. Which, I mean, seems a strange thing to complain about, so I guess I’m not exactly complaining about it … other than to say it was kind of a lot. Maybe the little sugar balls on the frosting that dissolved in your mouth when you bit into them could’ve gone away. Maybe. If I had to choose something.

Although, all complaining aside here, let’s be sure to point our that of course we all still finished it. We’re not amateurs. Please.

Although it’s probably safe to say we didn’t like ours as much as Ted liked his … given that I looked over after like two bites of ours – that two of us were sharing, mind you – and his was nearly gone.

We all agreed that this was the best service we’ve had for a while now. Like we couldn’t remember the last time we had service even remotely close to as good as this. Let’s see … the time we waited past finishing our appetizers to even order our dinners? Nope. Or maybe the time we got newbie server on literally her first day who had never tried anything on the menu? Points for honesty, but no thanks. Or, oh, maybe the time the server seemed to get kidnapped for the majority of our visit? Fun, but not effective. You get the idea. Our server at Little City was very attentive, especially taking into account that he was also working behind the bar as well as handling the tables. Maybe we’ve broken the curse?

Picked by: Jason

Jason, apparently seated in the Halloween section

Steph

Cassi

Shane

Ted

Little City Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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WTGW 9/26/18: DelCiello’s, Ravenna

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Note to restaurant owners out there: if you don’t want us to come review your place, you’re best not to even mention that you have anything to do with the restaurant business.

This week is a perfect case in point to that, as Ted has been talking about picking Delciello’s ever since we met the owner at our celebrity judging gig at Aurora Farms this past summer. When Ted said that this would be our place of choice for this week, we kind of thought that meant he would pick the new spot just opened up in Aurora, because hearing the owner talk it seemed like it would have more of our younger, bar-y vibe about it.

But instead Ted threw us for a loop and picked the original location in Ravenna. Which the words “younger” and “bar-y” won’t really come within a three block radius of.

This, from the same person who brought us to Gus’ Chalet. I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Although at first glance it had some potential, as it’s literally situated in a house. Wait, isn’t this Shane’s territory?

Oh, wait, there’s a big long history lesson involved here about why this house is still around. The website references the “historic Jennings House,” which I guess some Ravenna residents refer to as the area’s “white house.”

That’s about as far as I got before I felt myself reverting to 9th grade history class and slowly zoning out.

We didn’t leave it smelling like burger grease and fryers like some of our other house ventures, though, so I guess that counts for something.

So I guess the owners are a husband and wife team, one of which is German and one is Italian. So their idea was to have a restaurant that serves both specialties.

Once again, brought to you by the same person who took us to “Sushi and Bar.” I’m not sure what kind of a reputation Ted is building for himself here.

In any case, at least each specialty has its own menu here, so if you can’t have gluten and don’t want to even tempt yourself with pasta you can just request the German menu … likewise if anything beginning or ending in the word schnitzel just makes you giggle (guilty!) then you can politely hand back the German entree list.

And then there’s also a drink menu. So as you can imagine no one in our group even picked that one up.

I couldn’t even type that without laughing. Please.

It took us a bit to get situated, not only in the proper table but also with the array of menus. The table situation was because, well, since as I mentioned the place is a literal home turned into dining area with a bar smacked down in the center … and it’s a bit more on the “fancy” than “bar food” side, which means it’s usually smaller groups and couples dining together … so there aren’t exactly easy places for a group of five to just slide in without moving some things around.

But you know already we aren’t shy about that.

Anyway.

Opening the menus is a bit like settling in to read a short story to a toddler. Lots of words, and a pretty font to boot. That’s always fun. Cassi admitted she was a tad overwhelmed. I mean, we’ve come a long way from one of her first official WTGW outings, when the place we ended up at only had two things to choose from … and now this.

Anyone need a bedtime story?

Ted of course takes about three seconds to scan the various menus before closing them all in a pile and folding his arms across his chest in the universally Ted sign of “I’ve made my selection.” He then proceeded to try to dive right in ordering apps when we’ve all barely had a chance to scan the 10 page drink menu.

Fortunately we could choose quickly, especially Jason and Shane, who went the route of the bottled Bud Lites for only $2.50. Cassi and I had a more difficult time, since it was a rather steep jump from that to the $8.50 mixed drinks.

Apparently “middle ground” are also words not in this place’s vocabulary.

We quickly got our crap together for the appetizer order, since of course Ted was well ahead of us and impatiently trying to order his entire meal before the drinks even arrived. Ted ordered the Tuscan calamari, which I later learned was named as such because it comes with peppers, tomatoes and olive oil in it. Apparently calling it “Tuscan” instead of “Fancy” is preferred.

Calamari, embellished

Cassi and Jason got just plain old calamari. Which is like the cheese pizza of calamari, especially compared to Ted’s deluxe order.

There’s an irony there. Don’t worry, I see it too.

Calamari, plain

Irony #2: Ted wasn’t so much a fan of the Tuscan calamari. Turns out they kind of went overboard with the oil, which drowned out the taste of everything else. Ted said he would’ve preferred it was just more peppers and tomatoes along with the calamari.

Cassi and Jason also ordered cheese sticks, which sounded good enough to Shane and I that we got an order also. I mean, it’s fried cheese. How can you go wrong. Well, I mean, for at least four out of the five people at the table anyway.

Fried things for the win

While these may just look like regular old “remove from freezer and throw into the deep fryer” cheese sticks, Shane claimed the breading on them was phenomenal. He was also in love with the marinara sauce that came with them. I think he would’ve eaten it by itself like some form of chunky tomato soup if we had just given him a spoon.

We didn’t. Shocking.

In this week’s edition of Shane Interrogates Our Server, we discussed portion sizes, and what meals would easily feed an entire rugby team just after a championship match. Well, OK, not in those exact words, but that seemed to be the implication.

Caught slightly off-guard, our poor server could at least reference the fact that we were dealing with two nationalities of food that don’t tend to do portion control well, so pretty much anything on the menu should come close to those expectations. But the two that stood out the most to him would probably be the lasagna or the Jagerschnitzel.

Shane chose the Jagerschnitzel, making him the only person in our group to attempt the German menu. Although he kept calling it Jagerbomb Schnitzel, which I’m not sure the kitchen would agree with creating (and even if they would, does anyone think adding Red Bull to a meal is really the best culinary choice?), even though the server tried to write it down as such after hearing Shane reference it so many times.

Even without the added jolt of “bomb,” Shane was happy with his meal. Maybe not as happy as he was with the cheese sticks and marina soup, but close. He said it was delicious. And while it was undeniably a large portion, he still managed to leave the table as a member of the clean plate club.

One of these things is not like the other

Well, except for the side of peas and carrots that came with his meal, those got pushed in my direction. Stupid imaginary vegetable allergy.

Jason admittedly was jealous of the mushroom gravy. He had also been regretting his meatball sub choice after the server walked away from taking our orders, thinking that he would have a case of food envy bigger than Shane’s hunger once all of our giant plates of pasta and whatever-oversized-entree-Shane-ordered arrived at the table. But once his plate was set in front of him he immediately felt more confident that he chose wisely.

Probably the most American thing on the Italian German menu

He said the sub was very good. The chips alone made the rest of us kind of look at our plates like bald men stared at 80’s rock band icons back in the day.

Especially me, who was not happy with my Pasta Palermo. Admittedly I ordered it because of the alluring “baked under an layer of cheese” description … because, well, those words are definitely music to the ears of pretty much anyone who isn’t Ted. And first glance definitely gave me hope that I’d picked something delicious.

Ted was thrilled to be sitting across from this gooey mess

But honestly the whole cooking then baking thing really just made the pasta too well done. And soft pasta mush is, well, about as pleasant to taste as those exact words imply.

Cassi got the vodka tomato pasta with angel hair. She didn’t say much about it, and left 3/4 of it on her plate after the meal was finished, so I’m going to use my super-sleuth powers to suppose that it was about as tasty as my baked cheesy mush.

It’s hard to screw up spaghetti, right? One would think.

At least Ted was a happy pasta customer. He ordered the clam linguine, and said it was very tasty … despite containing what had to be some of the smallest clams I’ve ever seen. It’s like they found some clam pipeline from Munchkinland.

You feel like a giant picking up one of these tiny clams

We actually passed on ordering dessert – which is strange for us considering lately we’ve been ordering it if they have it on the menu. But I guess given the portion sizes it’s not that surprising, honestly.

The final consensus seemed to be that if you were hungry and you didn’t order overdone pasta, you could leave this place a happy camper. But I doubt we’ll see the inside of this place on another Wednesday anytime soon, just because it’s not our usual Wednesday vibe. The quiet inside the place was somewhat intimidating. And I think our group brought the median age down by at least a generation and a half. Which of course means that our table conversations – carried well across the church-like quiet of the place – weren’t really meant for the ears that they then landed on. Apologies to the table of two women in the same room as us who came out for a nice dinner and probably left more schooled in strangers’ bathroom habits and the antics of a group of randoms during their last drinking adventure than they had bargained for.

Picked by: Ted

Ted

Pirate Shane

Steph

Cassi

Jason

WTGW 8/29/18: Dilly D’s, Sagamore Hills

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You guys, you’re about to witness history. When we speak of this night in the future, it will forever be known as the night that the WTGW guys won the most prestigious award ever bestowed upon this collective group.

It’s very exciting

Do we frame this, or actually use it?

This will make more sense by the end of this post. Trust me.

So if we’ve actually been inside the building before, but it was under a different name and the menu was different, should this be considered a new place or a revisit? I’m a little sketchy on the rules here. Which, being that I’m usually the one that makes said rules up, is saying something.

I’m not sure what exactly it is that it’s saying. But something.

Anyway.

So the last time we set foot in this establishment, it was 2016 and the place was then called The Pit Stop Bar & Grille. We learned then that the place was good for sides but not main meals, they didn’t know how to bring appetizers out ahead of dinners, the lighting left our photos looking like we lived in an Instagram filter, and the server didn’t care much at all for small talk.

Sounds delightful, no? Amazing that we didn’t go back at all until now. Also, spoiler alert, a few of those things haven’t changed at all in these past few years.

But of course once we heard the new name, we knew we had to give is another try. If nothing else so that Shane could dress appropriately.

At least someone told him the name ahead of time.

Upon looking at the menu, Cassi immediately announces that she wants the Dilly Dills – which, if you can’t figure out the witty code words, are fried pickles. Jason objected under the pretense that they had been ordering fried pickles at various places a lot lately, and he would like to try something else.

Cassi: Well when someone orders them I want to have one

Consider the gauntlet thrown.

I actually didn’t believe they were really called Dilly Dills until I looked at the menu. But yep, that’s the real name.

See also: Dilly Nachos, the Dilly Philly, and something called the Dilly Dang Hot Burger.

I’m sensing a theme here.

Of course we asked the server what was good – because, well, that’s Shane’s favorite question. Her response was that it was literally her first day, and she admitted that she hadn’t yet tried anything on the menu. Well, OK then. Props for honesty, dear server. Believe it or not we prefer that answer to the alternative of just smiling at us and saying “Everything. It’s all good. Yep, eat anything, you’re sure to love it all.”

So since she was no help in our food selections, we had to resort to asking about the daily specials. Turns out Wednesday is pizza night – which equates to a 12 inch pizza with one topping for the bargain price of $7.99.

And just like that she’s Shane’s new best friend again. He ordered the pizza special, along with six wings.

I opted for the BLT with tater tots. And of course we ordered the prerequisite Dilly Dills, lest Cassi be disappointed.

Ted ordered breaded mushrooms. And Cajun wings. AND the lake perch dinner. To which the server couldn’t contain her amazement at the sheer volume of food. Or maybe she was trying to gently suggest that Ted’s imaginary friend couldn’t possibly be hungry enough to help him finish all that. In any case, we all reassured her that this is really nothing unusual. I mean, come on. We’ve seen worse. Need I bring up the the giant sheet pizza incident?

Exactly.

Cassi ordered the Hot Italian Sub, with fries. Jason, meanwhile, did a twinsies order with Shane – the pizza special and six boneless wings.

Shocker, I know.

Our server arrived back at our table a few minutes after taking our order, a move we’ve all come to realize means one of us has spun the roulette wheel and ended up on “disappointment.” This time it was Jason, whose order of six boneless wings was an illegal substitution, and he had to either move to six bone-in wings or up the order to 12 boneless.

Twelve it is. Challenge accepted.

Wings, minus bones

Wings, with bones

Speaking of challenges, Ted claimed to have read this entire blog after Shane once again began teasing him relentlessly about his penchant for choosing a second or third location of a chain that we had visited prior (a conversation started by the news the South End Tavern is opening a new location in Akron), and claimed he only found two instances where he chose someplace of the same name after someone else picked the original. If anyone cares to fact check this statement and take the “I’ve Read Five Years Worth of These People Talking About Eating Lots of Food” challenge, please let me know.

I’m sure we can come up with a prize. I mean, beyond the obvious useless party conversation knowledge of what all of us prefer on our pizzas or how many times Ted has asked for something without cheese.

Or how many times we’ve been out on Wednesdays and it happens to be trivia night at the place we’ve picked, and we’re all extremely excited to join in on that little game.

OK, I’ll give you a head start and answer that last one for you … because it’s only happened one time, and this night would be it. I blame the food taking a hella long time to reach our table. The guys were worn down by hunger, and thought it would be super fun to form a trivia team … then feel way stupid when the questions involve things like world geography and metaphysical science, and you’e not allowed to ask Google or Siri for help with the answers.

Good times. We’ll come back to that little experiment in a bit.

Wings, with a side of trivia

So back to our dinners, someone who is allowed to use Google and works in the in the kitchen at Dilly D’s may want to inquire about the meaning of the word “appetizer.” Because while I can’t tell you offhand what the actual definition is … what I can tell you is that it’s NOT “stuff that comes out alongside a meal just to add more food to the table.” I mean, if that was the case then why make it a whole separate section on the menu and all.

Weird, I know.

Also, this has apparently been an issue for two restaurant names and menu changes now, so maybe it’s time to start looking into this issue a little further?

Just a thought.

So here we are with ALL THE FOOD on our table – which, sidenote, was thankfully an appropriate size this time around so we could actually hold it all at once without having to balance plates on our laps.

And, OK, all the food except for Shane’s pizza, which we were told was “going to take a bit,” because “there was a mistake and we have to remake it.”

Translation: They never put the order in.

It’s not our first day, kids. Please. We may not be good with trivia questions about which mammal lives in camoflague in a river in Southeast Asia, but we’re pretty quick to decode server lingo when it comes to food delivery.

But alas, at least Shane still had our pickle appetizer to eat while he waited, right? Yeah .. about that …

I don’t even have a witty comment for this mess

That would be three pickle spears … disguised by a whole vat of batter. Which I know sounds delightful. But, well, no.

Oh wait, that wasn’t the full order. They “ran out” as they were making our app, and would bring us a full order to go later. We weren’t clear if they ran out of batter (which would make sense, seeing as it was an insane amount, especially when you also take into account it was also used on Ted’s order of breaded mushrooms) or the pre-cut pickle spears … which, I’m guessing, was maybe more so the case, and they just sent someone next door to the convenience store to pick up a new jar.

It’s like looking at corn puffs under a microscope

Newsflash: they could’ve saved themselves the trouble, because we really didn’t want to finish the three pickles in the “incomplete order,” much less the *ahem* FOUR that arrived at our table in the to-go box later in our meal. But it’s the thought that counts?

In contrast to the apps, Ted said that the batter on his perch was surprisingly light. We’d suggest they use whatever recipe that is for all things battered and fried from here on out. But that’s just us.

Appetizer cook, take note

Moving on to sandwiches. My BLT was just OK. The “B” was really good, very crunchy without being burnt. Trust me when I say that’s kind of an art form to perfect. And while the bread was OK as far as taste, it gets a lesser grade just because the texture of it caused me to lose a layer of skin on the roof of my mouth from biting into it. Meanwhile Cassi’s Hot Italian had a mushy bottom. Which is something you definitely don’t want in a sandwich … or really life in general, I would think.

Things that go crunch

There’s a sandwich under all those fries, I promise

The pizza was the clear winner of the evening. Despite being cut into strangely non-uniform pieces (as Jason pointed out when he picked up the tiniest piece ever to be called a “slice”), it was tasty. Shane loved that it was super cheesy (something that certainly wasn’t lost on Ted, as he had to sit nearby and watch Shane pull the gooey slices apart) and he said the flavor was excellent. Cassi tried Jason’s and I think was ready to try to trick him into a trade for his meal – but was clearly at a disadvantage when all she had to offer was a mushy bottomed hot Italian.

This post has taken an odd route.

Ted hit the nail of this experience on the head when he pointed out that usually our downfall when we go places is that the apps are great but the rest of the food not so much  … but this place was the complete opposite.

So, future us, when reading this while seated at a table during our eventual revisit, heed this warning: skip the appetizers. Aside from the fact that they will just arrive with your dinners anyway, they won’t be worth the extra calories or money. Just go straight for the pizza.

#winning

And the reason I know we will eventually be back at this place is … well … refer back to the photo at the top of this post.

Yes, that’s a gift card back to this very establishment. And why, you may ask, would we have this?

Because the guys won trivia.

That’s right, the team that knew virtually zero of the answers and were at the very bottom of the scoreboard following every round, somehow managed to come back at the very end and take the lead by going “all in” on the final question.

Life is strange, folks.

And so was the team name.

If this were an article in the “most insane news you really don’t care about” department, the headline would be “The Moist Towlettes take the trivia world by storm with a come-from-behind victory in their first ever competition.”

So that happened.

I think this redeemed the place a little for them

In other news, we actually remembered to take our pictures this time, so you get to see our smiling faces and attempt to decipher our thumb position rating system once again. I know you’ve missed it.

Picked by: Shane

Steph

Ted

Jason. And no, his thumb isn’t broken, he just believes that this was the best way to say “I liked the pizza, but everything else was no good”

Shane, also giving two votes

Cassi, meanwhile, has no indecisiveness at all

 

WTGW 8/22/18: Lock 15 Brewing Company, Akron

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There are two types of people in this world: those who rush out to see a movie the first weekend it’s open, even though it means fighting crowds and sitting in an extremely full theater … and those who avoid that situation like the plague, even if it means usually forgetting the movie exists until well after its hit the 2nd year of availability on Netflix.

I fall into the latter category. I’m not one to flock to the latest thing just because it’s the latest thing, or to rush through the open doors of a new restaurant/bar/store five minutes after they’re unlocked for the first time.

Which makes perfect sense as to why we’re here at Lock 15 Brewing Company on only the second day of its existence. And that it was my choice.

See also: things I vow to never do again, because clearly the universe was trying to punish me for this decision this time around.

More on that later.

So Lock 15 Brewing Company is a brand new space located in the newly renovated Cascade Lofts building, just on the edge of downtown Akron. I’d been watching the space’s social media accounts, which I thought had hinted to the opening actually being earlier this summer. I’m not sure exactly why, but it seems this was instead pushed back to the end of August. Technically still summer, although closer to “end of” than “early in.”

I hesitated on the pick when I looked online and noticed that their online reservation system showed no openings for private tables between 7 – 7:30PM. But knowing that they had several “common tables” (read: long tables you might end up sharing with other guests) I wasn’t overly concerned that we wouldn’t find a place to seat ourselves. Also, reservations are a bit taboo in this group anyway. We all remember the last time we tried making one of those, only to end up eating tarter toast and not-sweet bean salad in a room that clearly was not going to be standing room only.

So, yeah, I’m not sure if they only take four reservations per half hour time slot, or if literally all of those people who made online reservations ditched out at the last minute, but we had zero problem getting a table when we walked in reservation-less at a little before 7PM. Because the place is one big open room and we could clearly see the door and any line that did or didn’t form at the entrance area, I can also tell you that the time periods of 7:30 and 8:00 would’ve been free of any mad rush for seating as well.

The place itself is pretty nice. You can definitely tell they put some money into the renovations and the decor of the space. Which apparently they are trying to get back via the cost of food. Snacks and starters range from $7 – $13 – with  wings being among the most expensive item on the section. Hmmm, not our typical ballpark, but OK. Sandwiches are in the $15 average range. The dinners actually seemed surprisingly low in comparison, with most running around the same price or just a little more than most of the sandwiches.

The menu is also pretty much what our group would consider to be “fancy,” especially when served in combination with beer. I mean, they have the staples like burgers and salads, but they throw you off with culinary vocabulary like “spent grain bun,” “Vegan brioche bun,” and “pork belly croutons.” In particular the Arugula Goat Cheese Toast Salad sounds like something my fried-food-loving body would run screaming in the opposite direction of, but whatevs. But then they also have highly intriguing – read: sounds less healthy – things like a Pork Belly BLT, Ghost Pepper Mac and Cheese, and Nashville Hot Chicken. Huh.

But let’s start with the beers.

Horray for beer!

I got the Hefe, IPA for Jason, Porter for Shane, Pilsner for Cassi … and nothing for Ted, who had a work event this evening, but didn’t tell us until like 5:00 so we couldn’t make alternative revisit arrangements. Bad Ted.

Apparently they also have flights of beer, so you can try samples of the different offerings before you commit to a giant 16oz glass of something that maybe tastes like burnt coffee and motor oil. But we weren’t aware of this until we saw one getting carried away from the bar to a neighboring table. File that under: things we wish they had advertised in some way.

Of course, on the night I leave my “telepathy for beginners” manual at home. Never fails.

For apps, Cassi and Jason got the nachos, while Shane and I opted to carb load with a giant pretzel.

Chippy nachos

Proof that looks can be deceiving

The nachos ended up being the winner here. Wait, what? How is that possible? I mean, did you not see the photo?

Yeah, well, let’s just call this pretzel the appetizer equivalent of that person across the bar who you think is totally hot until they walk over and open their mouth to reveal an IQ that gerbils would be embarrassed about.

At first sight it looks amazing. But then you take a bite, and realize it’s drier than pool towels left out in the sun all day, with about as much flavor. It’s like eating a loaf of bread made entirely of heel slices.

Let that thought sink in a little bit.

The cheese and mustard dipping sauces might’ve helped … had they given us a larger portion. You can’t baste a turkey with an eyedropper, but thanks for trying.

I mean, come on. WTF are we supposed to do with this?

Meanwhile the nachos were actually made from potato chips instead of tortilla chips, and had tons of toppings. #appetizerenvy

I’d like to say things improved for us from this point, but I don’t want to lie to you. I think I’m safe to say that the nachos were the highlight of the evening. Getting our apps and drinks was definitely the epitome of our service for the night, because after that it seemed to take longer and longer for our server to appear anywhere close to the proximity of our table. And, again, the place is one giant room, so we would’ve seen if she had been busy with tables on the other side of the space or something like that. But no, she just would seemingly get kidnapped into the back for like 19 minutes out of every 20. Because that’s helpful.

In any case, I guess it’s good that we were done with the appetizers before she even took our meal orders, because there was no way all of that food would’ve fit along with the app plates. As it was the meals for four people barely left us with any table space to set our drinks.

If it looks like we’re sitting on each other’s laps … well we almost are

Shane and Jason both ordered burgers. I know you’re shocked about that. Shane got the Black and Blue burger, while Jason opted for the Lock 15.

It looks like a breakfast sandwich

Filed under ultra-messy

I tried to order the chili … but was informed they were all out. On day two?  Either that was the crowd favorite on the official opening the night before, or maybe cheese and mustard aren’t the only things that are portion sized into eyedroppers around here.

So I got the pork belly BLT instead.

FYI, bread with holes in it should not be used to contain items that spew grease

Cassi ordered the hush puppies. And then sat and watched us start to eat our food, since apparently there was also a run on those early in the restaurant’s short lifespan, as she was informed as our food was being delivered that hers would take a bit longer due to just having been started.

I would say something to the effect of letting us know that not long after we ordered would’ve been helpful, but let’s just say that by this point we were just thrilled that someone who worked there came out of hiding long enough to even approach our table and deliver most of the meal. Be very still and don’t scare them away too quickly.

How long does it really take to make this many hush puppies?

All of us were genuinely disappointed in the food. It arrived looking great, but when you tasted it … well … it just didn’t overwhelm any of us. Shane said his burger was just OK, but nothing special that he would feel the need to return for. Cassi said the hush puppies might’ve been better with a different breading, but that in their current state they just don’t have much flavor. Seems to be a theme here with things of the carb-laden variety,

Meanwhile I was channeling Cassi’s pizza experience of a few months ago with a mushy bottomed sandwich. I blame poor bread choice on this one. Seems to me something sturdier than holey sour dough might be in order when you’re dealing with a pork product, no?

The items making up the “T” portion of my sandwich were also weird. I don’t have a better word to describe them than that. Weird. Take that as you will.

The consensus seemed to be that the giant pretzel should really just be the mascot of the entire menu. Looks great when it arrives, but they need to learn to deliver the taste to the table as well.

(Side note, if you pull up Lock 15’s menu online, the photo at the top is that of the pretzel. Which made me giggle, because while I didn’t notice that until after I wrote this review, clearly we’re on to something here.)

In any case, the non-flavorful food is a real shame, because we had high hopes for this place. The space is great – and will be made even better once the outdoor patio opens, since we could see where it’s intended to be and were slightly jealous we couldn’t be seated there already. It’s also nice to see a local brewery with a full bar to offer for those who aren’t in the mood to for gluten heavy drinks. I do think overall it still has potential, but that there are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out.

One of which is this:

I don’t imagine these can be re-used

If you’re going to seat people in close quarters and give them cold glasses of beer, I hope either there’s a large line item on the budget for reams of paper, or part of your staff also moonlights at the local Kinko’s. As Cassi stated when she pointed this debacle out: “that will never work.”

Oh – and you’re going to have to go another week without our smiling faces, since we once again forgot to take photos before we left the restaurant. And we’ve learned that dark parking lots are not the venue for this either. I think we’re all still having nightmares about the last time we tried this

 

 

WTGW 8/15/18: Tinkers Creek Rd Tavern, Northfield

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It’s a rite of passage this week, as this marks Jason’s first official pick as part of our WTGW crew. Because after a certain number of weeks dining out with the group you’re forced to stop freeloading and take responsibility for some of the sketchy choices we’ve made over the years, as well as the judgmental, sarcastic commentary that follows.

Needless to say he was a little nervous.

His nerves certainly weren’t calmed on the drive to Tinkers Creek Road Tavern, as we all at one point or another commented that, while we weren’t far from our homes in terms of mileage, we sure were in terms of civilization. This place is quite literally in the middle of absolute nowhere. Or, technically, the middle of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Which led to speculation that Jason’s search for this place must’ve essentially consisted of Googling “places to go for a beer when lost in the forest.”

Boy Scouts would be proud.

Once we finally found the place the concern switched to whether or not we would actually get a table prior to the 9PM closing time, as the parking lot looked packed and the building looked way too tiny to hold all of the people that would’ve arrived in said vehicles.

It turns out that the building is deceptively small looking, and they probably want to think about expanding that parking lot.

Upon entering we realized that the easiest way to a hostess’ heart is to tell them you have no preference between indoor or outdoor seating, as she proclaimed she loved us after that statement. We figured that given the number of cars in the parking lot and the vacancy of the indoor areas, we would most likely not see the likes of a patio this evening.

We were wrong. The hostess led us outside to the patio, where we discovered not only the owners of most of those cars in the parking lot, but also an amazingly beautiful patio situated next to what I’m assuming must be the namesake Tinker’s Creek.

Well this certainly doesn’t suck for background atmosphere

It was like being in a whole other world. Or on vacation somewhere not in northeast Ohio. Which, with Ted in the driver’s seat, isn’t all that difficult a proposition. How long were we in the car, exactly?

We showed our appreciation for our new environment from the very beginning, as we became what I can only assume were the most agreeable table ever to set foot on this particular patio. Drink menus? Yep, hand them over. Waters for everyone? Sure! With lemon? Why not!?!

Cassi put the brakes on our enthusiasm train when she realized that the extensive drink menu didn’t include pricing, and had to ask the server how much the various cocktails and craft beers were going for. All heed the lesson of Shane and the unknowingly overpriced craft beers of a few months ago.

While we weren’t fans of the price guessing game, we will give kudos to the server for not only unbegrudgingly going to check on them for us, but also actually knowing the differences in the various beers on the menu. When Jason asked about the flavors of the different IPAs, she gave real references, not just the generic “they all taste like beer, what more do you want?” conversation we’ve had in some establishments.

Of course we ordered appetizers, because we were happily agreeing to everything … and also, well, because we’re us.

Following the food envy of the potato cups at Wil’s Grill a few weeks ago, I lobbied Shane to order those.

I’m not sure who made potato cups a thing, but I’d like to hug that person

They were good. Not overwhelmingly so, and they didn’t have the “holy crap that’s a lot of melted cheese” wow factor that the ones at Wil’s had … but I would order them again.

Cassi and Jason ordered the fried mozzarella. It was tasty. Cassi said she would rate it higher than her old favorite – although she kindly didn’t mention the restaurant where that dish resided. I’m not sure when we suddenly got so courteous.

Not on Ted’s list of any kind

Ted, in spite of voicing his disappointment that no one decided to order the eggplant stack, opted for calamari.

That’s like the exact opposite of eggplant

He then proceeded to rave about it for the rest of the time it was on the table. Apparently his sorrow over not getting to try the eggplant stack was quickly forgotten. He said he’s not really one for top five lists – a statement that seems like it could factor into a severe punishment from certain members of this group – but if he was then this calamari would be on it. It was breaded well, and the sauce was an excellent compliment to the flavor.

With an endorsement like that, of course we all tried a bit of it when offered. Shane thought it might’ve been a bit of a trick, since it seemed like if Ted was truly a fan then he shouldn’t have been willingly sharing it so much with everyone.

Regardless, we agreed, it was really good.

We also agreed not to use any unnecessary dishes, as the stack of side plates that the server brought prior to the apps sat unused off to the side of the table throughout the course of our preliminary food binge. While this was nothing new to us, the server noticed and asked “so, I take it you don’t need these then?”

Shane: No, we’re savages.

OK then.

Also not new to us, but likely an intro course for our server: Shane’s obligatory firing range of questions related to the best items on the menu. I’m happy to report she survived the assault, listing several dishes that she personally enjoys, from the mac and cheese, to the salmon, the pulled pork sandwich, the salmon salad and the brisket sandwich.

Now if she truly wanted to be a member of our group she would say that she once ordered all of those items in one sitting just so she could compare them all and come up with a final true winner. But, alas, that food challenge never happened.

Something to think about, though.

Shane followed up that interrogation by ordering nothing that she recommended, and instead asking how large the portion size was on the eggplant parmesan. Because we all know how much size matters in these instances.

Get your mind out of the gutter, kids. Especially for when I tell you that her response was that it’s giant, and Shane’s response was that he would take it.

So there’s that.

But at least she wasn’t lying. When the food arrived, I think we all had our own “holy crap, I’m supposed to eat all of that in one sitting” moment as the plates were set in front of us.

This photo doesn’t do justice to the size of the bowl. Although the sheer amount of cheese displayed here should give some indication.

Let’s just say that Shane immediately regretted letting his hunger take the reigns and ordering the extra side of onion rings to accompany his eggplant parm – ironically not because those two things usually are never ordered together as one meal, but because he could barely make it through the actual dinner portion of his meal without being overly full.

His eagerness at the question “would you like a box for those?” was very much diminished from the reaction to the questions at the beginning of our meal.

I’ll take things we didn’t need to order for $1,000, please

Speaking of side orders of things that didn’t get eaten in their entirety, I spent a few minutes dispelling the advances of Ted and his overly aggressive forcing of his wee basket of tater tots into my face. Little did I realize he was just trying to make sure they got their proper photographic documentation, and not trying to force feed them to me.

When tots attack

Me: Put your tots away, Ted, I don’t want any
Ted: If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that

The joys of being the official photographer. More on that later.

In the category of foods Ted didn’t try to shove in my face, Ted also got the smoked chicken sandwich. He said it was good. His rating system on his meal this evening pretty much went as follows: Chips just OK, sandwich and tots good, calamari excellent.

At least he kept that plate on his side of the table

Use that information as you will. In true girl fashion, I give bonus points to the tots for being contained in one of those cute miniature fry baskets – which of course we all tried to convince Ted he should just walk out of the restaurant with instead of asking for a box for his remaining tots.

He did neither. Which makes me think they weren’t as good as he said they were, and he also clearly doesn’t appreciate interesting servingware.

Jason got the baked cod sandwich. He liked it, saying that the fish was very moist. Although part of that verdict may have just been so that he could use that particular word and annoy the hell out of his fiance, who has on more than one occasion announced her dislike of it.

Ah, true love.

It looks less moist from this angle

Cassi and I both ordered the tacos – I got the grilled steak tacos with chips and salsa, while Cassi got the tilapia tacos with sweet potato fries.

Tacos take one

And two

We both said they were really good. And we agreed with the table sentiment that the server was not incorrect in her statement that no one will leave hungry, since each meal came with three large tacos, plus a generous portion of the side. We each took one of our tacos home.

In retrospect, we probably could’ve done without all of the apps at the top of the meal. I’m making that note for our eventual return visit, although I already know we won’t heed it.

Remember when I mentioned that the place closes at 9:00? Yeah, that’s not a typo. The place definitely starts emptying out after the early dinner rush, and by 8:30 we were one of only a couple tables left. I know this for certain because any table not inhabited was bring cleaned and upturned and pretty much sending a solid message that diners arriving at 8:55PM might have technically still arrived prior to closing time, but also were more likely to be served in a less than appreciative manner. Just speculation, of course, but I for one am not willing to test that theory.

Another thing we decided against testing: our ability to read a very large sign on a gate stating “NOT AN EXIT,” and the server’s patience when said sign is blatantly ignored. We watched in amusement as one couple tempted fate in this manner and was scolded openly – and righteously, in my opinion, as I mean … come on … there’s a sign. It’s pretty clear that just because the gate opens doesn’t mean they want any random person using it. The reasoning may not be clear, but the sign is … and that’s what matters.

(Keep in mind these words are coming to you from someone who a mere few paragraphs ago was vying for the pilfering of a miniature fry basket from our table. Priorities.)

But aside from the early closing time and the questionable use of lighting on both the patio and the parking areas, I would give this place a high thumbs up. You wouldn’t know it, though, because these are the only photos we attempted before giving in to the questionable lighting gods and admitting defeat.

Now whose turn is it to find the worst lighting possible?

Clearly adding the flash doesn’t help things. Now we can just better see Ted’s inability to keep his eyes open

Well this obviously isn’t working

No thanks. I’ll just stick to words to tell the story. The service was good, the portions were huge and tasty – and the patio really is a great space to spend a nice summer evening. They even brought us citronella candles for the table after we mentioned our dining experience was quickly creating a feast for various bugs as well (sitting near water + humidity = mosquitoes. It’s just science).

And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even spot this strange creature in the parking lot on your way out.

Look kids, it’s the elusive parking lot gnome

Picked by: Jason
Next pick: Steph

Tinkers Creek Road Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 8/8/18: The Upper Deck, Portage Lakes

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I’m not sure how we’ve been doing this for 5 years now – with 3-4 months out of every year pretty much solely devoted to a continuous and seemingly never-ending quest for the perfect patio space – and yet this is the first time we’ve managed to end up at The Upper Deck. I mean, this place appears to have all of our criteria. Alcohol? Check. Bar food? Check. Decent sized patio? Check – and given bonus points for a view overlooking a lake. Great service? Well, OK, you got us there. You can’t win ’em all I guess.

But have I mentioned the view?

Are we on vacation?

I mean, really.

Ted was actually going to pick an Italian place in Ravenna, but once he realized Mother Nature was going to play along and give us a nice evening he called an audible and went with this place instead. Because we can sit inside and eat pasta in December. Or the next time Shane’s pick rolls around, since he claimed “dibs” on that restaurant as soon as Ted mentioned he was giving it up for this week.

It’s cutthroat around these parts.

As we pulled into the parking lot for The Upper Deck it became painfully obvious that we weren’t the only ones smart enough to realize Mother Nature only stops being a whore for so long, and that we really should drop everything to take advantage of the ability to have cocktails outdoors on a nice evening. We found a parking spot, but Ted wanted to run inside to make sure we could secure a table on the patio without having to wait until after dark to actually sit at it.

Because we never get enough of lists within this group, I proudly give to you The Top Five Reasons Not to Leave The Rest of the Group Alone in a Running Car:
1.) Someone will mention re-parking the car before Ted returns
2.) Someone will mention driving the car very close to the edge of the lake or boat ramp and leaving it there
3.) Someone will mention all of us getting out of the car, leaving it running, and hiding nearby to see Ted’s look of confusion when he returns to an empty vehicle
4.) Someone will mention all of us getting out of the car, leaving it running, hiding nearby … and all of us having to run after it as it gets stolen
5.) All of us will come close to forgetting to turn off the car and take the keys with us when Ted finally texts us that he has a table on the patio an we should just go meet him there

Yes, we’re 12. That’s been established repeatedly by this point.

Anyway.

The patio was decently busy, although not as much as one might think for an evening with little humidity and only a slight chance of rain. Ted mentioned that if the patio hadn’t worked we definitely could’ve been seated inside, since there were only about two claimed tables.

We don’t want to be friends with those people.

The server arrived with a drink for Ted before the rest of us even had a chance to look at the drink menu, which prompted us to wonder exactly how long we’d really been waiting in the car after all. Or if Ted was really a regular there and his celebrity status was showing through.

We ended up ordering beers all around, except for Cassi who got a tequila and soda. And then a Truly hard sparkling water after her mixed drink arrived with more than one fruit fly taking an alcohol bath in the glass. John Taffer would not be pleased.

Side note, that Truly almost arrived as a Truth beer, when the server didn’t hear her correctly and asked about Cassi wanting it on draft. Luckily we’re seasoned drinkers and questioned the ability to get hard sparkling water on draft at this point in its young alcoholic shelf life. Life skills, people. Don’t let anyone tell you street smarts aren’t important.

The server started off taking our app orders, and both Cassi and Jason, and Shane and myself ordered the app platters. Which, can I just add, I have a bone to pick with pretty much every other establishment out there for not giving this option more often. It’s like the ultimate slice of heaven for people who like every. single. item. on the app menu. Can’t decide between cheese sticks, onion rings and fried peppers? Now you can have a few of each! I mean, seriously, they all just get thrown into a deep fryer, it’s not like there’s some elaborate cooking skill being exuded here.

Although it does end up sounding like a boatload of food, as Cassi and Jason picked out the mac & cheese bites, soft pretzels and pizza rolls for their platter, while Shane and I chose the same offerings – just switching out the pretzels for a basket of fried peppers. Because clearly we don’t share food.

Ted: Um, I thought we were just ordering apps?
Shane: We are. Duh.

I mean, really, who are we if we aren’t ordering an entire tableful of food for four people? Come on.

Not that it mattered, because even though Ted avoided appetizers in favor of getting wings AND a meal, he was ready to order all the food anyway, so we just went back around the table after his order and put our meals in. I think the server was slightly perplexed.

Newsflash: it wouldn’t be the first time.

Our turn at the perplexed wheel came a few minutes later, when a different server stopped by and dropped off a basket of potato chips at our table. Uh, we didn’t order these? Are they complimentary? Did they have extra and they could tell we were hungry? Did our original server mistakenly tell that other server to take them to our table, and meanwhile someone else is missing out?

I bet you’re not surprised that we ate them without actually uttering any of those questions to the universe. OK maybe someone wondered aloud if they were really free. But we still ate them before asking answers of someone who could actually provide them.

And then the apps arrived, and we thought maybe someone was just watching us to see how gluttonous we could really be when surrounded by plates of food. Uh, have you met us? We eat anything and everything you put in front of us.

One half of the appetizer party at our table

The other half of the fried goodness

The pizza rolls were by far the crowd favorite out of all of the apps in our respective platters. To be honest, I think all of us were expecting a basket of knock off frozen Totino’s to appear in front of us – but these were actually little crispy roll-ups filled with pepperoni and melted cheese. So more taquito than Totino.

They should really put that on the menu. And I should really be in marketing. Oh, wait.

The second runner up was the fried pepper basket, which was seemingly never-ending in addition to being tasty. I made a comment that the ranch dip was kind of spicy, to which Cassi reminded me that I was dipping fried hot banana peppers into it, so that might be more of where the spice was coming from. Noted.

Ted got Cajun wings as his “appetizer”, and then the grilled shrimp dinner with fries and cole slaw for his dinner. Although they all arrived at the same time, so really that was just Ted’s specifications and not ones made public.

It’s like a gradual healthy to non-healthy progression

Ted said the wings were good. He thought they probably would’ve been too hot for most normal people, but to someone who only sweats when eating an actual habenero pepper then they were just fine. He also said the shrimp was grilled perfectly.

I got the Italian sub with onion rings, which was all good. The onion rings were still hot when they hit the table, and they had just the right amount of batter without being all breading. I took home half of the meal, because, well, as I’ve already mentioned, we had a crapload of food at our table already.

Oh look, lunch tomorrow

Shane got the Bleu Cheese Burger. Not to be confused with a blue cheeseburger. Grammar and enunciation is important, kids. One of those things sounds pretty tasty, while the other sounds like something you find in the back of the fridge a few months after you forgot you brought home leftovers.

Meat and fried vegetables. How can you go wrong?

There were no leftovers in this case – Shane liked his burger, as well as the onion rings – so we don’t have to worry about this burger morphing into the other in the depths of our home fridge.

Jason also went the burger route, choosing the Deck Burger with fries. He liked his as well. The photo definitely doesn’t do it justice.

There’s meat under that bun, I swear

Cassi got the portabella salad, which she was impressed with.

Served on the fanciest of disposable plates

What she was not impressed with was our service throughout the evening. This declaration may or may not have come right around the time we tried ordering another round of drinks and completely perplexed the server because we all pretty much said at once that we were ready for another (insert name of our respective drink here). Usually – because let’s be honest, we aren’t always the most polite bunch, so this happens frequently – the server just nods and says something like “so another round” or “so another one for everyone then?” But this time it was like we had just announced that the sky was turning orange and a giant monster was clamoring out of the lake toward us, because she looked equally as if she wanted to ask questions but also run screaming for her life.

Good times.

Despite that, I have to believe we’ll be back to the Upper Deck at some point. Overall our experience was positive: the patio really is pretty great, and while the food was nothing special we haven’t seen elsewhere (well, outside of the pizza rolls anyway – those alone are enough of a reason to come back. Can we just order the sampler platter with three orders of those?), the simple act of enjoying it on a tiered deck next to an outdoor bar and overlooking a lake definitely elevates the standings.

Picked by: Ted

OH – and stay tuned for next week, as Jason may get his very first WTGW pick. He’s not nearly as excited about this as everyone else.

Ted

Steph

Shane

Jason

Cassi’s vote for the food

Cassi’s vote for service

 

WTGW 7/11/18: TD’s Tailgate Grill, North Canton – REVISIT

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Welcome to the summer months of WTGW, where we spend copious amounts of time screwing up the stats on our blog because we’re all scouring it trying to find the last good patio we went to so that we can pay it a revisit. Yay technology!

Shane claimed he had anther good pick lined up for this week (read: super scary dive bar that we probably would be intimidated to actually eat in), but a consultation to the weather channel over the weekend reminded us that we need to take advantage of these nice weekday evenings while they still exist. And so the quest to remember a good patio began.

Sidenote to our web designer: make the patio category easier to search. Oh wait, that’s me. Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

Anyway, that’s the long-winded explanation of how we ended up at TD’s Tailgate Grill for this week’s pick. It’s been three years since our last visit, at which we were forced to grab seats at the bar since all the tables were full upon our arrival, and Ted decided he wanted friends outside of our circle so he started a conversation with a regular who kept raving about the fish tacos.

Sounds spectacular. Tell me again why it’s taken us this long to return?

This time around we were able to snag a table for the five of us – but just in the nick of time, it seems, as the rest of them filled quickly behind us. With families. Explain this one to me, if you will: since when did sports bars become the happening place for families with packs of small children? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this phenomenon. Because nothing says “family atmosphere” like a place with 27 beers on tap and a whole page of fried food on the menu.

But I digress.

The beginning of our visit was like a story I’d like to call “Shane and the Three Beers.” The first one he tried to order – Shock Top Lemon Shandy – was one he knew he liked, but I turns out they were sold out. The second one he asked for – an IPA that Ted warned him he wasn’t going to like but Shane said he wanted to try anyway – was promptly declared a big old hell no after a sample was brought to the table and he took one sip (while Ted laughed). The third one – a Bud Light, because by this point he was just really thirsty and wanted a beer – was just right. Well, more like just “this will have to do,” but you get the idea.

Meanwhile Ted and Jason were enjoying their Christmas Ale (it’s Christmas in July season again!), Cassi had a mixed drink, and I had a delicious Berry Shandy that the server recommended when she delivered the bad news about the Lemon Shandy being gone.

We ordered four apps for five people. Because of course we did. Hey, what did I say in my last post about the food truck event? We’re training for next year already. Step off the judgement train, please and thank you.

Shane and I ordered the fried pickles. Why we continue to think we should order such things after we’ve had the deliciousness that is 3 Brothers is beyond me, but whatever. Especially when these ones arrive and they’re breaded spears, not actual chips. How the hell are you supposed to eat those? These were clearly created by the same person who invented the hot oil time bombs that are breaded mushrooms. But at least the dipping sauce was really tasty.

Excuse me, our pickles are trying to act like potato wedges

Ted got the coconut shrimp, the plate of which Shane wouldn’t even touch as it grazed over his portion of the table on it’s way to Ted. All fear the shrimp allergy. Unlike our decisively tasty pickle dipping sauce, the dip for the shrimp was somewhat unremarkable.

I’ll take Things That Would Kill My Husband for $1,000 please

Cassi and Jason ordered the chips and dip, along with an order of the hot tots. Note to restaurants: can we please start portioning things correctly when it comes to dips and the vehicles by which said dips must make it into our bellies? It makes no sense to have an entire bowl of dip if there are only about 8.5 chips available to dip into it. Seems to me you’d be better served to give away a whole platter of chips – because, I mean, those seem pretty simple to make (Get potato. Peel. Slice. Throw in deep fryer.) in comparison to the variety of measuring and mixing that presumably needs to go into a homemade dip.

But what do I know.

Is there a potato shortage we aren’t aware of?

Anyway.

Ted was quite fond of the fish tacos that his new friend highly recommended on our last visit, so I latched onto the dual recommendation and went with those this time, as did Cassi. Cassi got hers with a side of the homemade ranch sauce because, well, to quote her “I will order that anytime I see it on a menu.”

Ted will dream of this plate for another three years

Ted definitely had food envy when he heard our orders – because he also remembered fondly the goodness that was a good fish taco (why did I feel dirty just typing that?) – but he said he wanted to try something new, so he got the voodoo chicken with the drunken beans as a side.

Hey, remember that time Ted ordered something that sounded like the name of an opening band at some Mardi Gras festival? Well, he probably won’t long after this visit. Let’s just say he definitely wished he’d ordered the tacos.

Not that his meal was bad, by pre-I’ve-tasted-the-fish-tacos-and-am-judging-everything-else-by-those standards. But the fact that he still remembered how good those were (did I mention it’s been three years?) combined with them literally surrounding his food on the table once mine and Cassi’s meals arrived caused a bit of a letdown in comparison. He said his sandwich was just OK. The drunken beans – which were described as spicy and probably could be so to anyone else, well, on the planet – were no match for Ted’s taste buds that can’t detect spice unless it’s in the form of a raw habanero pepper.

The name is fancy, but it’s really just something your Aunt Marge would serve up at the annual family picnic

Shane got the triple stack grilled cheese and a pound of garlic Parmesan wings. I know it sounds like I’m judging his wing order sarcastically, but it literally was a pound of wings. Because some places prefer that as a measurement to just counting them out. I can’t for the life of me figure out which is actually better on the eating side of things.

If you’re going to base it on weight, it should be served on the scale

Again, I ask about the potato shortage, because that seems like a ridiculously small amount of fries

He tried to consult me on what his opinion had been of the mango habenero wings the last time around, but Ted spoke up instead – you know, just like he had with regards to Shane’s IPA choice. Uh, boys? Should I be worried about this bromance extending past the food level? If Ted starts reminding you that you’re almost out of soap or that it might be time to replace a few pairs of socks I may have to intervene.

Where’s the bun?

Jason ordered the crunchy fish sandwich, which he liked. Cassi and I also put our stamp of approval on the fish tacos. I was super full by the end of my meal and ended up having to get a box for one of my tacos – well, after offering it to Ted, who regretted having to turn it down because he was full as well.

There are a whole bunch of jokes in that last paragraph, but I’m trying really hard to use my adult voice and not point them out.

Anyway.

So probably the biggest downfall we can give TD’s this time around was that the service was a bit sketch. I mean, our server was super nice, and we definitely appreciate that. The issue was that she wasn’t around much … literally and figuratively. When we did see her we about pounced on her to try and order more drinks, which then backfired on us because she would get so flustered she would forget one or more of them. Case in point, when we ordered another round for the table, and then she returned with three drinks. There’s five of us. That’s like Math 101. I’m so glad we’re trusting you with our credit cards at the end of the evening.

And while the tables around us did fill up, we didn’t necessarily see her waiting on all of them as well as us, so I can’t buy the “give her a break, I’m sure she was super busy” reasoning that I’m sure half of you are saying to your screens right now. Also, one walk to the restroom was all it took to realize that we weren’t the only ones with the “it’s super nice out, let’s find a patio” thought bubbles over our heads this evening. The inside of the place may as well have turned out the lights and hung up the closed sign. Definitely a change from three years ago.

Hey, remember when we all said we were full after our dinners? Just kidding! It seems this group will find room for dessert these days, especially when it comes in the form of fried cookie dough balls. Yes, you read that right. Cookie dough, rolled into little balls, and deep fried. Listen, I don’t care if you have to unbutton your jeans in public just to breathe, if you explain that it’s due to this little slice of heaven in a basket then all is forgiven. We got an order (and by we of course I mean me, Shane and Ted, because, well, refer back a few paragraphs to our newfound coupledom), as did Cassi and Jason. And for a brief moment, everyone forgot that they couldn’t possibly eat another bite of their real meals like five minutes previously.

I think we each needed our own basket. For dinner.

Move over fish tacos, these are the best thing on the menu. Hands down.

Four of us, as we walk out to the car: Man, I’m really stuffed now. Like the cookie dough was good, but it really put me over the top.
Shane: Oooh, look, a Dairy Queen.

Seriously?

Next pick: Cassi

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph