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

 

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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 1/17/18: Mantua Corners Bar & Grille

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Alternate title: that time Shane dragged us out to a could-be house in the middle of nowhere and then tried to show off his carpentry skills.

Or: that time we couldn’t find the door to the place and had to semi-stalk a couple of potential regulars who pulled into the parking lot after us on the off chance that they might know how to get in.

Both sound like a super fun night, right? Let’s dig in.

BTW, the door is actually very well lit, and marked with this sign:

Thank you, incredibly obvious sign, for your help this evening

You can see how we were confused.

The place is seat yourself, which seems fairly obvious for some odd reason even though there’s no sign or anything saying as much. Although it should be mentioned that seating ourselves would be easier to do if any of the tables were actually clean, but whatever. Particularly those further away from the entrance door when it’s 10 degrees outside and that air tends to follow people inside every. single. time. the door opens. But, again, whatever.

We asked the server if there was a draft list (beer, that is, not a count on the number of times we might feel a draft from the open door – although that could’ve been useful, too), and she pointed out that it’s written on a giant chalkboard over by the far wall. OK. Ted immediately bolts over to check it out, and was so engrossed in it that he had no idea I was standing right next to him until he turned to walk back. I’m stealthy like that.

We both settled on a salted caramel ale – which for once actually tasted like the name implies. Trust me, I was shocked, too. I’m typically prepared for craft beers with names or descriptions like that to actually end up tasting like battery acid. Mmmm.

Citing his new “healthy” game plan, Shane went with a rum and diet. When you see what he ordered for dinner later you’ll better understand why I imply sarcasm at the use of healthy as an adjective. Cassi, also on a healthy diet plan, ordered an iced tea. As in, non-alcoholic. As in, I think we may have to remind her of the unspoken oath you take when you officially become part of the WTGW crew: your liver suffers for the good of the group. I mean, really.

While we were all deciding on our dinners, Shane decided to take it upon himself to try to fix the incredibly annoyingly wobbly table we were seated at. With coins. Handy guy, that one. Except that it didn’t work, and really just succeeded in making us talk about the obscene things it looked like he was doing under the table.

Thankfully he eventually gave up and went back to studying the menu. But every time one of us moved and the table jerked back in the opposite direction I have to believe it took every ounce of concentration in his brain not to try again.

By now I think you have a good feeling of the ambiance of the place, so let’s move on to food, shall we?

Shane of course gave the server the third degree about what was good on the menu, and the first words out of her mouth were Reuben rolls. Guess what we ordered?

Just give me seven plates of these, please

Fortunately we weren’t disappointed. Just as the server implied, they were were excellent. They were crispy on the outside, and I still have all of the skin on the roof of my mouth after biting into one for the first time, so score.

Everyone else might’ve tried them, too, had Shane not announced with his first bite that he would be double dipping in the sauce. Courteous, I guess? I mean, at least he gave fair warning. Now, that didn’t scare me off from eating them … but then again I am married to the guy, I think that might be part of our vows by this point.

Ted ordered fried pickles, which he was a fan of. We all tried them (no double dipping on that side of the table) and agreed they were very good. I mean, they weren’t 3 Brothers Tavern quality, but then again I don’t think we’ll replicate that anywhere else. Ever. Is it too soon for a revisit just for appetizers there?

We’re ruined on these forever.

Cassi got the veggie quesadilla, which she didn’t say much about, but it looked good from where I was sitting.

If it has vegetables in it, it’s healthy, right?

After a somewhat lengthy internal debate between a burger, the fish dinner and the Italian sub – #thestruggleisreal – I landed on the Upper Deck burger for my meal. It’s a half pound burger smothered in onions, mushrooms and cheese – also known as my burger of choice. It was just OK. As usual I ended up surrendering the bun so I could focus on the meat and toppings … but even then it wasn’t overly impressive. It definitely screamed of frozen patty and not fresh. Booo.

I also opted for the tater tots, which were also just OK. Bummer.

Can I just smother every meal in cheese, please?

Shane got the Corner burger. When he ordered it the server issued the warning that “it’s huge.” Which is like music to Shane’s ears when it comes to food portions.

And this is what arrived:

I’m not sure how that knife is even helpful here

Remember that “healthy” thing? Right.

That sandwich is two half pound patties triple-deckered between three slices of Texas toast. That meal is as much the equivalent of healthy as using a lit tanning bed to get your 8-hours of beauty sleep.

I should also mention that when his food was delivered the girl who set this monstrosity in front of Shane casually mentioned to him something called the Grilled Cheese burger – which she said was literally two grilled cheese sandwiches used as buns for a burger. Oh good Lord. Something more unhealthy than what he had sitting in front of him.

Needless to say he was slightly disappointed he hadn’t been told of that one to begin with.

Although we may be safe on Shane picking this as a revisit just to try that other burger, since he said there wasn’t much flavor to the one he had. He was particularly disappointed in the Texas toast – which I should mention was one of the main deciding factors in ordering that specific sandwich (well, other than the obvious fact that it seemed like the most food on the menu) – as it wasn’t buttered. Come again? How do you not butter Texas toast? I mean, can you even really call it Texas toast without an obscene amount of butter? Otherwise its really just thick bread. And that’s no fun to eat, especially in triplicate.

Meanwhile on the actual healthy side of the table, Cassi went with a Garden salad and six boneless wings.

What the eff is this?

Shane was seriously about to revoke her WTGW card when she ordered the salad … but said that the wings saved her. Barely.

She was happy with the salad. I mean, as happy as you can be with a plate of vegetables while everyone around you consumes something that touched a deep fryer – but whatevs.

In the time-honored battle between steak and AYCE fish (which they apparently offer as a menu item every day here?) Ted decided on steak. Specifically the steak special, which is a 6 oz steak plus choice of potato and a salad for $6. And of course a side of six wings, because, well, there wasn’t enough food at our table already.

It was well worth the $6 just to see Ted painstakingly picking the thinly shredded cheese off his side salad piece by piece.

It looks so dainty

And Shane picking it up after him to eat it.

Beware of the cheese stealer

There is definitely not a picture of Shane under the word “discrete” in the dictionary

The steak, however, was definitely not enough to share.

Is it wrong when the mashed potatoes are bigger than the meat?

Shane: that looks like a maxi pad.
Ted: there’s our quote of the evening.

Now Ted did say the steak was pretty good, despite the thinness. And, I mean, what do you really want for $6 anyway?

He wasn’t as much of a fan of the wings, though, saying they tasted overdone. Cassi agreed. She took most of those home. Sorry, Jason.

Those wings may also be bigger than that steak.

Overall the place isn’t awful, but maybe not at the top of the revisit list. It’s strangely laid out – the room we ate in was this big open room with little house-sized light/fan combos as the only lighting … helpful … then there was a bar past that … and maybe another room? – but none of us ventured that far. In discussion about what the building might’ve been before it became a dining establishment, it seemed it could possibly have been a house? Which wouldn’t be surprising, considering Shane’s track record. And which also of course brought up a recap of other “houses” we’ve eaten in, most of which leaned toward the sketch side. Maybe we need a sketch house tour? We could probably sell tickets to that event.

Also, we nearly forgot to do our photos before we left, so we improvised and did them in the vestibule, much to the entertainment of the folks seated just inside the window. You’re welcome.

Picked by: Shane

Ted

Cassi

Steph

Shane

 

WTGW 1/3/18: Town Tavern, Fairlawn

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When a place changes names and redecorates, is it a new pick or a revisit?

These are the tough arguments we hash out in this group, folks.

So the Town Tavern is the old David B’s, a place we visited about four years ago – and that I almost didn’t make it to thanks to Mother Nature and her lovely need to throw snow storms at me at totally inopportune times. Always a pleasure. And even when I did finally arrive, I nearly missed happy hour because of that little stunt.

This is just one of the many reasons why we are (still) not friends.

Anyway.

So back then the menu was a bit small and unimpressive – you know, the usual bar food like burgers and sandwiches, fried appetizers, that sort of thing. We liked it not because it tasted especially good, but mainly because it was cheap. I mean, give us $5 burgers and some $2 bottled beers, and we’re pretty much best friends for life.

See also: Windsor Pub, Caddyshack Inn, and a host of other dive bars we’ve been known to frequent over the years.

But I digress.

It seemed back then that what David B’s lacked in fine dining, it certainly more than made up for in the categories of people watching and conversation eavesdropping. And before you ask – yes, those are very much important factors in a dining experience, thank you very much. I mean, come on, how many times has awful service and mediocre tasting food been totally forgotten thanks to the overheard life story of a gaggle of wine-laden women at a nearby table, or the snippets of conversation garnered from a couple who may or may not be struggling through an awkward first date?

Be honest here.

Yeah, thought so.

In any case, when I saw that David B’s had changed names, and likely ownership, to become the Town Tavern, I figured it was time for a (re?)visit.

We definitely noticed a difference in the decor as soon as we arrived. Well, I mean, except for the the sign above the front door that still says “David B’s.” Must’ve missed that one in the transition. But I guess they make up for it a bit with this.

In case you get lost

They definitely put some thought and money into the new tables and lighting. The old bar tables and chairs that screamed “welcome to any 90’s bar” have been replaced with giant wood tables, and chairs that don’t look like they’ve been sat on by the same regulars for 30 years. And while the giant chandeliers don’t give off a ton of light, at least it’s not of the neon variety that I seem to remember from before.

The place seemed pretty crowded for a Wednesday night, too. Or maybe they just took away some space with all the bigger tables. Whatever works.

But the award for biggest change definitely goes to the menu. Although be warned: it’s still pretty small and non-diverse. I mean, hey, we all don’t have to be Cheesecake Factory with a menu that resembles a short story book … but when the majority of your foods are specialty hot dogs then I have to admit you aren’t really getting my attention. It’s like they’re trying to be the Melt of hot dog restaurants.

They did have some burgers, a few sandwiches and some apps like pretzels, loaded fries/tots and mozzarella sticks. So some of the bar foods prevailed. I mean, you can’t just throw out the deep fryers, kids. There are standards here.

This week the part of Ted will be played by Jason, as Ted got invited to some swanky event at the Football Hall of Fame and ditched us for that. I’m not sure who told him it was OK to have play dates with other friends on Wednesdays, but whatevs. We’ll forgive him this time.

For appetizers, Cassi and Jason got the loaded tots,while Shane and I opted for the mozzarella sticks. Here’s what arrived:

It barely fits in the basket

Oh look, we apparently ordered the “basket of disappointment.”

Shane: I think we got shorted.

Seriously, are we even in the same restaurant?

That’s like a pound of tater tots loaded with beer cheese and bacon. Meanwhile, we get five mozzerella sticks that seemed to be poured directly out of a freezer bag into the deep fryer. Seems fair.

Obviously, we chose poorly. Learn from our mistake.

Apparently when you eat out as two couples, you’re unspokenly obligated to order the exact same meals, as somehow Shane and I ordered the exact same burger, while Cassi and Jason also played twinsies with their burgers. It’s so cute, it’s sickening. I know. I threw up in my mouth a little just typing this.

Or maybe it was the memory of the burger I ordered that somewhat prompted that response. Mine and Shane’s burger of choice was called the Ring of Fire … and let me assure you, it’s aptly named. Jalepenos + spicy ketchup = holy crap I think my tongue has shriveled up and died an angry death in my mouth because I sure as hell can’t feel it any more after eating that.

Alternate title: the “you didn’t need those taste buds anyway” burger

Most of this ended up in the basket instead of in my mouth

Good thing we had a great server who paid attention to our drink levels and always made sure we had liquids in front of us … is what I would’ve said if it had been true for that evening. Nope. He was nowhere to be found. Thanks for nothing, server guy.

Good thing I had a nice full drink to help with that heat. Oh, wait. Never mind

I should mention that while I was suffering through the anguish of seven suns burning in my mouth, Shane was eating the exact same burger as if nothing was wrong. He ate his entire burger, then jabbed a fork into the pile of toppings I had scraped off of my burger and sarcastically offered up to him.

I guess this is why we work.

He also later said that he put the burger in his Top 7. I mean, I’m not sure who’s keeping track of his Top (pick a random number) list at this point, but if that means something to you then there you go.

Meanwhile, once again Cassi and Jason won the “smart order of the night” award, as they both got the Tavern Burger. It’s one of those burgers that combines breakfast and dinner, with bacon and a fried egg as toppings. I swear, whoever was the first to attempt this must be pretty damn proud of themselves, because that burger is always a winner no matter where you order it.

This picture is making me hungry all over again

Take two. You know, in case you didn’t see it well enough in the first picture.

Cassi also got mac and cheese as a side, which I was instantly jealous of as soon as it arrived.

They both thought their burgers were very good. In particular they said that the toasted buns were a nice touch.

That’s what she said.

Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

As if I need to further demonstrate our server’s horrible lack of interest in our table, picture this little scenerio: we’ve finished or boxed up our meals, our drinks are all quite obviously almost empty, the server stops over to pick up some plates and asks if we’re OK. And we don’t order more drinks. Usually that’s like the universal clue to bring over the checks, right? I mean, I’ve never worked as more than a hostess in the restaurant world, but natural assumption would be that if the drinks are obviously low, the meals are over, and no one needs anything, then maybe our time together is almost over, and I should help things along by letting these people know how much this evening is going to cost before they can leave?

Yeah, not here. It was another 25 minutes before the server came back and even inquired if we were interested in getting the checks. Um, no, we’d like to sleep here. Thanks.

Although in all that time that we were sitting around waiting on the checks, we still forgot to take our thumbs up/down pics at the end of the night. So I guess you’ll have to live without seeing our smiling face for this week. It’ll be rough, I know.

Picked by: Steph

WTGW 12/13/17: REVISIT – Pat Dee’s, Northfield

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In tonight’s episode of “let’s face intense weather conditions just to go out to a dive bar and enjoy food and drinks,” Mother Nature throws a giant snowstorm in our faces. So obviously we still are not friends.

For the record, I have to believe there are more subtle ways to remind us of this, but whatever.

In light of that, Shane was supposed to be choosing someplace close to home Which totally explains how we ended up in Northfield. Good call.

The last time we went to Pat Dees, Shane was working late so Ted and I drove separate and met him there, along with Amanda and Jerrid. That night there was a driving downpour rainstorm. So I guess the moral is that we can apparently only visit this place when some sort of precipitation is falling from the sky.

Which is also fun because each visit seems to bring a giant debate about how exactly we get inside the building. Because loitering around outside in rain and snow is a super fun way to start an evening. There’s a door at the very front of the building, and another hidden behind the covered patio that is hardly visible from the parking lot. Guess which was the right one?

I mean, why make it obvious.

The place also sort of resembles a house from the outside. What is it with Shane and these places?

Cassi, as we’re entering:  “Are we going to my Grandma’s house?”

And once we’re in, there’s everything from groups of people younger than us, to hard core drinking regulars, to families. OK then. The marketing slogan must be “something for everyone.”

Shane orders a rum and coke, Ted gets a Christmas Ale (after his usual dark beer inquisition) and Cassi and I get tequila and sodas. Hers arrived with the extra bonus of a dead fruit fly floating in the glass. Thanks for the extra free protein, but maybe ask next time before just assuming it’s what we wanted, k?

For apps it was breaded mushrooms for Ted and for Shane and me, with Cassi choosing tater tots.

Fried potato goodness

It’s still a vegetable, right?

The mushrooms were apparently cooked directly on the surface of the sun. I picked one up and promptly lost a layer of skin on my fingers. I then tried to caution Shane – since he usually needs his food of any kind to be chilled to almost ice cream level – but he was in the middle of a story and ignored my sign language warnings … so he ate one anyway.

I wish I had a picture of his face as that happened.

But regardless, no longer having taste buds didn’t deter us from ordering and eating enough food for us and our 15 imaginary friends.

I got the battered fish dinner, after debating between that and the corned beef. Truth be told I probably should’ve gone the other way. The fish was just OK. And I probably would’ve preferred real tarter sauce to the packets they provided me with. Because after the fruit fly incident, who knows how long those have been lying around.

Almost everything on that plate is the same color

I also remembered quickly what I didn’t like about our last visit to Pat Dees … the battered French fries. Because we need to make them more unhealthy?

Ted got 12 of the Cajun wings and a hamburger. The burger was average, according to Ted. I have to be honest that it looked a little less so from my side of the table – also especially considering what we ate on our last WTGW evening out. But he seemed happy enough with it.

Mmm, charcoal briquettes on a bun

The wings were another story, though, as he had ordered them “wet,” and they arrived actually as dry wings but covered in some sort of grease. Or maybe motor oil?

Thick, gelatinous liquid at the bottom of the basket is always a good sign, no?

Cassi got a pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms. She really liked it, and said that she thought the crust in particular was really good. Her only complaint was that the sauce was a bit too sweet, and there seemed to be too much of it on the pizza. How come there’s never too much of something we really like on pizza? Like cheese? I mean, just sayin.

Looks tasty

Shane also opted for pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms – and also added Italian sausage. He disagreed with Cassi’s observation that the sauce was too sweet, but agreed that it was pretty good overall.

The bigger one must be Shane’s

Side note – we later heard a new table behind us try to order a pizza and they were told the place ran out of pepperoni. I think we may need to take responsibility for that one.

Shane also got six garlic parm wings, a decision he regretted later not only because he was too full after eating only half of the pizza to even touch the wings … but, well, he realized there was some sort of science experiment happening with his wing basket about halfway through our meal.

I can feel my arteries hardening just looking at this

Seriously, what the hell is that?

It’s escaped, and it’s coming for us

Oh good, it hardened. That’s helpful.

By the time the server came over to see if we needed any boxes, Shane’s wings were pretty much glued to the table. She was slightly disapproving and judgemental about the grease slick when Shane pointed to it saying he needed a box.

Shane – it leaked
Server – Mmm hmm

Something tells me this isn’t the first time she’s seen this, so maybe she sould redirect that burning judgement to ownership in purchasing some heavier duty wing baskets.

So basically the moral here is that if you choose wings, you either get them in motor oil (Ted) or Crisco (Shane). Interesting flavor choices. I can see why they didn’t list them on the menu.

Ted, regarding the grease imprisionment of Shanes wings: Well, of all the places we’ve been we can say weve never seen THAT before.

True story.

So basically the consensus is that Pat Dee’s wasn’t our favorite place the first time around, and it’s still holding court at that spot now after a revisit. I’m not exactly sure what Shane was remembering that made him want to return. Maybe he found another door somewhere to a better place?

Picked by: Shane

Rockstar Shane

Ted

Cassi

Steph

 

 

WTGW 12/21/16: Burgers 2 Beer, Solon

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Holy crap, this place is packed on Wednesdays. Presumably because they have trivia, a phenomenon we had yet to run into on a Wednesday night adventure. And one I can’t quite say I fully understand the popularity of, but whatever.

Although the itty-bitty parking lot does make Burgers 2 Beer look a tad bit busier than what they actually are. They share the lot with Penn Station – the fast food sub place – so of course we joked when we were walking in that everyone was probably there. Uh, no, but nice try. Still, I don’t think anyone in this place other than us understands the meaning of the word “carpool.”

The rather extensive draft beer list was already waiting on the table when we sat down, which is always a good sign. Especially for a place that has that particular entity in its title.

The large variety of beers of course meant that Shane went with a Miller Lite. I got the Breckenridge Agave Wheat. Ted realized Breckenridge made a Christmas Ale and went with that choice. I sampled his and was a little disappointed I didn’t order that one. There’s always round two.

So being that the other half of the name of the place is burgers, you can probably guess that that involved another extensive list. Such marketing wizards with the name of the place. But this was a bit of overkill – like three pages of the menu devoted just to burgers. And some interesting concoctions – one involved truffle butter and brie cheese, one with peanut butter, one with tater tots and sloppy joe  … and one was even served on a glazed donut.

 

No calories here. Nope. None at all. Maybe they should rename this place “Heart Attacks 2 Cholesterol Levels.”

Ted started with the candied pork appetizer. It was like meat, not on a stick. Although it wasn’t quite as good as the meat on a stick he got at that place in Richfield we can never remember the actual name of that Shane would rather set himself on fire than walk into again, it was still tasty. As soon as it arrived at the table, Shane’s nose immediately singled out the garlic in it. Ted said it was spicy. Like OK for him, but probably not for everyone.

Meat, no stick

Meat, no stick

I mean, this is the guy who recently called acid wings “not hot at all,” so just keep that in mind.

For his meal, Ted got the pizza burger. Seems odd for a guy who hates cheese, but I guess this is really the safest version of pizza he could ever find, no? Well, other than the cheese-less pizza he got a few weeks ago, but that’s a bit of an anomaly.

Burger, take one

Burger, take one

He said the burger was good, but a little bland. Especially with everything that was going on there (pepperoni, peppers, marinara, onions and mushrooms – plus cheese, for normal people), it just didn’t seem to have much flavor. He still stands by his all time favorite being The Rail.

Shane: “That place that tried to kill me.”

Every. Time.

Shane got the monthly special burger for December – which I can’t remember exactly what came on that, but I do know it involved peppers and some other spicy stuff, since I was debating on getting the same one. His burger, like Ted’s, was also just OK. Said the patty itself didn’t have much flavor, but everything else on the burger was good.

Burger, take two

Burger, take two

He also got salt and vinegar wings. Is this like week #27 with wings? I’ve seriously lost count.

But he said the wings didn’t taste like salt & vinegar. Ted tried one and said they tasted like BBQ potato chips. Close? Not really. Maybe the cook just got his flavor bags from his snack packs mixed up.

They all start to look alike after a while

They all start to look alike after a while

I got the hot & bothered burger – habenero cheddar cheese, onions, siracha mayo and jalepenos. Sounds super bland, no? Yeah, it was definitely spicy. I also used the house BBQ sauce that they keep on the table as my condiment of choice to dip my tater tots in, and that had some kick to it too.

Burger, take three - plus tots

Burger, take three – plus tots

And I wonder why my taste buds sometimes revolt against me.

Amanda got the club burger (ham, turkey, bacon and gouda), which she  almost had to eat bunless, as the top of the sandwich flew off when the server brought her meal to the table. She did bring Amanda another top bun – but at least the bunless burger made for a nice photo op.

Burger, waiting for the top bun

Burger, waiting for the top bun

Amanda also agreed that the burger patty itself needed more flavor. The toppings were good, but if you just ate a piece of the burger patty it was unimpressive.

So basically the moral is that if you go, be sure get the burger with the most toppings – or at least the most flavorful ones anyway – so they can mask the taste of the actual burger patty itself. Because that seems right, considering the name of the place and all.

New name idea: “Toppings 2 Mask The Blandness.”

Service was pretty good, considering how busy it was there. The trivia was alternately interesting and annoying at the same time. It was loud, so at times we were having to shout over the host to hear one another. We also had to restrain ourselves from shouting out answers that we knew, which took a lot on our parts at times. Because, you know, restraint is definitely nowhere in our vocabularies. Have you seen the tables of food we order sometimes? Seriously.

Picked by: Amanda
Next pick: Ted

Steph

Steph

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Amanda

Amanda

B2b Burgers 2 Beer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/14/16: Varsity, Hudson

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rats.

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

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

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

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

See also: bromance.

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

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

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

Limitless = we had two

Limitless = we had two

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

Cheesy tots

Cheesy tots

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

Breakfast on a bun. Brilliant

Breakfast on a bun. Brilliant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You gonna eat those tots?

You gonna eat those tots?

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

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

Can you wipe the sauce off, please?

Can you wipe the sauce off, please?

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

It's officially fall

It’s officially fall

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

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda and sad Jerrid

Amanda and sad Jerrid

Ted

Ted

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

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

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

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

Picked by: Jerrid
Next pick: Amanda