Sunday, April 29, 2012

Eighty 8: The Diner of Thornhill

On Saturday, I attended the Toronto Blue Jay Game at Rogers Centre. Following a 7-0 win by the hometown team over the Seattle Mariners, my friends and I headed northward for dinner at Eighty 8 Family Restaurant (2300 John Street, Markham).  

We were welcomed in close to closing time (9:00 P.M.) by a smiling lady who appeared to be a member of this family owned and run establishment.  She sat us down immediatly, yet not rushing us as she handed us the menues. 

We reviewed the menues and came up with our orders.     I ordered anything a simpler family diner would be able to do without issue....

The Order: A hamburger with fries with a glass of ice water. 

Our food came fairly quickly with our server inquiring if we had everything we could possibly want. 

With the toppings on the side of the plate, I topped my burger adding the garnishes provided.  I took a risk and had a bight. Just an average burger taste. Tastes like any other burger at any diner, nothing special here, but nothing wrong either.  The burger tastes like it is right from a box, not specially hand packed or anything. 

The fries were the traditional fries you find at any diner or restaurant around.  Pretty plain but good with a little ketchup. 

Overall, I found the diner to have a great family service with basic diner fare. Nothing special but nothing terrible either.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Not Great but Not Terrible at Mr. Greek

My wife and I joined the rest of my family for a night out at Mr. Greek (9218 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill).  We arrived shortly after 5:00 P.M. this past Sunday to a bustling place. 

We were seated immediately as others at our table had already arrived and our waitress stopped by to offer drinks and take our food order.

The Order: 1 Original Pork Souvelaki Dinner with potatoes and fries with a pepsi.

Our drinks arrived shortly after ordering and our food arrived within reasonable fifteen minutes time.  This is impressive considering there were seven people at our table.  Not one meal was improrerly prepared either. 

As I dug into my meal though, there was one issue.  The fries were not fresh and tasted luc warm at best.  The greek style potatoes were perfect temperature though along with the Pork Souvelaki.   Overall my meal wasn't anything to write home about.  Sure the food was decent Mediterranean fare, but nothing special.

For Mediterranean food I would rather go to Jonathan's Restaurant in Aurora where the Souvlaki dinner seems better prepared at the right price with the same service I experienced at Mr. Greek.  But nonetheless, Mr. Greek is a decent place to visit for satisfactory food with excellent service.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Catch me at Cora's

Today my wife and I visited Cora's (10909 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) for some breakfast food for lunch. 

We arrived at about 12:30 P.M. to find the place fairly full yet enough staff was serving.  We waited a minute for someone to visit us to see how many there were (2 of us please!), double check to ensure our table was clean, grab menues and seat us.   

Our cheerful waitress stopped by to see how we were that day and see if we would like to enjoy some drinks while we perused the menues.  We ordered are drinks and likety spit we had them back as we continued to decide what we wished to partake in.  So many good choices on the menu and not enough stomach space to fit it all.  Why couldn't Cora's be on the cruise boat I was on, I would be there everyday for breakfast and lunch sampling their menu.  

We eventually decided on our order and our waitress returned to copy it down.

The Order: 1 Strawberries Waffles (Strawberries heaped on waffles with whipped cream and custard) with a coffee and 1 Western Omelette with home fries, pineapple, melon and toast with a glass of water. 

Cora's service is outstanding with cheery staff that are not intrusive but do ensure you have everything to enjoy your meal.  And the most noticeable thing is the wait staff, cooking staff and others do it with a real smile.

Our food showed quickly and attractively presented!

Strawberries Waffles
The strawberries on the waffles were freshly cut and buried the waffles deeply below. I had to dig the out the waffles from underneath the whipped cream.  The waffles themselves were well done as far as I could tell.  It was tough though with all those strawberries, custard and whipped cream to isolate the waffle taste by itself. 

My wife said the Omelette was ok, but her home fries were awesome.  Fresh potato wedges that were decently cooked and served.  Everything appeared to be freshly made on her plate. 

Our waitress returned once to refill my coffee and my wife's water.  She was fairly attentive during our meal. 

We left feeling very full of fresh food ready to continue on with our Saturday shopping errands.  Overall this place is great for freshly made breakfast food with an emphasis on old favourite breakfast items made with fresh ingredients and a flair of fresh fruit.

Heaven at Harvey's

Our Harvey's local restaurant recently was demolished to make room for the Zancor Xpression's Condo Sales Centre and building site.  

However, a couple of months later a new Harvey's (8865 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) opened up.   We decided a Friday evening dinner would the best time to try it. 

My wife and I had walked past this location a couple of times since it had opened to visit the Shoppers Drug Mart store, LCBO and others in the area.  We knew it was not as large as the previous location at Yonge & Weldrick Road, so there was a distinct possibility we would have to do take out and bring it home.  

We entered the store to be third in line.  But the servers ahead of us seem to be moving quickly and orderly through having their order taken, burgers garnished and their orders double checked for completeness by the friendly staff.

The size of the location itself is an issue with a long length but short width.  The interior designer of this location did not leave a lot of room for the workers serving area and kitchen.  The grill itself is less than two steps from front counter where the burgers are topped.  In a couple of instances I noticed coworkers squeezing past each other to retrieve items for the customers they are serving.  It looks like Harvey's made the best of a modern empty storefront in a regular strip plaza.  The result looks a little awkward not just for the working area, but for the customers as well. 

The customer seating area is inadquate at best.  Sure there are some modern fast food tables but the quantity of tables, especially on a busy night, leaves much to be desired.  It was lucky we arrived early on a Friday night as we were able to snag a table without any issue.

But first, we needed to Order....

The Order: A Original Hamburger combo with Onion Rings and 7 Up and A Original Hamburger Combo with Fries and Dr. Pepper.

As noted above, the staff there were quick and efficient.  They had to be with five staff and one manager working.  Two were working the grill and french fries prep, two garnishing the burgers, one taking orders and the manager keeping everything moving by filling in when needed.  In less than five minutes our order was taken and were seated. 

The only annoying part was the ketchup service area.  There was no dispenser to squirt the requisite ketchup required to fill two paper cups that is perfect for a medium fries at any fast food restaurant. 

(Side note: Why is it that way, why does any medium fries at a McDonald's, Harvey's or Wendy's require two ketchup cups to ensure adequate ketchup is on hand to fully enjoy a set of fries? Who thought of that?)

Instead, the regular ketchup packets are substituted by the Harvey's staff at time of pick-up of food.  Perhaps this is to reduce the overhead and mess of the regular ketchup supply stations that other fast food locations endure.  But usually this issue is mainly over the numer of napkins used per customer, yet at this location, napkins were fully accessible.  Seems a little weird that a brand new Harvey's location would skimp on set up of condiment and napkin stations.  

The burgers themselves were just like any other Harvey's hamurger you would experience with too many different types of toppings that drip out, yet deliciousness in every bite.  The fries were also fairly typical.

The onion rings though, were only satisfactory.  The onion rings are thinner in nature and do not possess the thickness of those found at All Star Wings & Ribs.  All Star's Onion rings are more breadier and tastier than those at Harvey's.  But nonetheless, Harvey's onion rings are satisfactory, but just not great. 

Overall, this Harvey's provides quick and efficient service with the hamburgers Canadians have long enjoyed from this Southern Ontario institution of burgerness.   The layout of the restaurant though may be a concern if you happen to hit a busy time, no worries though, this location also does take-out!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Honey's Beestro a Hive of Inactivity

>I've been eyeing visiting Honey's Beestro (8763 Bayview Avenue, Richmond Hill) on a walking hike since last summer.  It looked like from the road a decent neighbourhood pub to visit for some food and enjoy food on the patio while watching the traffic on Bayview Avenue pass by. 

Add to this a recent coupon received in the mail for a buy one entree get one free, and it only sweetened the deal.  

On Saturday my wife and I took the VIVA Purple (running on a detour eastbound to a temporary stop at High Tech Road & Bayview Avenue) and we were practically dropped off at the front door.  Add to this some shopping at Loblaws, Canadian Tire and Wal-Mart and the trip was even more better. 

We arrived shortly after high noon.  Perfect as the time on the door and on their website said they opened at 11 A.M. on Saturdays.  But the flashing neon  "OPEN" sign was dark and the place seemed desserted.  I entered figuring it was a quiet Saturday for them and the door was unlocked.  However, there was not a sole in the place.  No lights were on, my wife noticed around the pool table looked like it was under construction.  It looked like an empty bar at the end of a busy night after all the employees had left and forgot to lock the door.

I checked on the status of the rest of the chain (the day before I had added the Richmond Hill location in anticipation of a review)  to find one of the other restaurant's closed earlier in February 2012 and the company's twitter feed not updated for almost a year.   Seems the whole chain may have dissapeared.  Weird, their website is still up and running looking very inviting to possible clientele.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Kelsey's Lack of Attention to Detail

Thursday evening my wife and I visited our local Kelsey's (8715 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) as we had not been there in a long time.  After this visit I probably will not return for a long time. 

We visited the restaurant at about 6:30 P.M. to find the front entrance stuffed  with people.  This being the Thursday before a long weekend it dawned on me, people were doing their end of the week date night a day early and enjoying Kelsey's Thursday night half priced wing night.

The hostess welcomed us and took our name and said there would be about a five minute wait while they cleaned a bunch of tables.  In less than two minutes we were following the hostess to our seats.  Not so bad so far.  

We perused our menues to investigate what would tickle our tastebuds.  Our waitress stopped by about six minutes into our menu perusal to see how we were doing and if we would like drinks and if we are ready for our food order. 

From here on things went from good to worse

The Order:  1 Pepsi, Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Fries, 1 water and 16 Honey Garlic Wings.

Our server visited other tables before dissapearing to the kitchen to grab our drinks and those for a couple of other tables.  An efficient use of time for sure, but the results were less than stellar,  she dropped off our supposed order drinks: she got the water right but the Diet Pepsi not right.  My wife looked at me quisically of "didn't you order a Pepsi?".  I merely brushed it off. 

We chatted for a bit, but it was hard to hear as the place was very noisy with tables around us competing in how high conversation volume could go.  

I was starting to get a little irritated watching others who arrived after us receive their food while we sat with our drinks contemplating how a table of Italian ladies were dressed like they did i.e. wearing clothes belonging to those who are twenty years younger in college. 

Our waitress stopped by to refill our drinks and said that the Buffalo Chicken sandwich was taking a little longer than regular chicken wings to prepare.  At 25 minutes since ordering, I begged to differ but kept my feelings to myself.  Now reviewing my previous visit, how was that server able to have the same sandwich order in July 2011 at my table in 10 minutes while, fast forward to 2012, our server was struggling to even get it there in 20 minutes (i.e. twice the time)?

At twenty five minutes since ordering our food finally arrived.  However, the Honey Garlic chicken wings ordered morphed into 8 Honey Garlic and 8 BBQ.  The server then spent two minutes explaining to us debating our options: accept the order as is or return it to the kitchen which would take no time at all she promised.  The latter was chosen as I was now completly irritated how a nice evening out with my wife was turning into a adventurous fiasco. 

Our waitress returned in two minutes with the replacement wings.  While she was gone I shared my lukewarm fries that I would have expected temperature wise from McDonald's.

The half priced wings themselves tasted to be overcooked and drowned in a vat Honey Garlic Sauce before being unceremonously dropped on a platter and delivered to your table.  Way too much sauce for an overcooked chicken wing is the main result. 

The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich is where Kelsey's made up for the service and the food issues.  All I added was a squirt of ketchup and my taste buds found the tangy BBQ sauce and the delicious chicken.  The sandwich was great. 

Kelsey's overall doesn't really please me.  We left paying $27.00 for a dinner for two that lacked proper restaurant customer service while the food was mediocre at best.  Meanwhile, it is very hard to have good time where the only place quiet enough to have a conversation with your companion is the washroom is never a good sign.  Add to that the Men's washroom was completely out of paper towel and looking for a cleaning, things really are not inviting for customers to return. Considering all this awesome hospitality we probably will not return for a while.

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