Monday, October 29, 2012

Terminate the McDonald's in Wal-Mart on Terminal

This week McDonald's is advertising free small coffees for all customers.  As well, the Monopoly Game is also running with free prizes being periodically won by various customers including myself. 

So I thought I would visit a McDonald's (450 Terminal Avenue, Ottawa) for some free coffee (this week's McDonald's promotion) and a free muffin (from the Monopoly Coupon I received from eating at McDonald's earlier).   I approached the counter, passing by a large grey container on a McDonald's promotional counter, to place my order with what appeared to be a McDonald's on duty manager.

The Order: 1 Small Black Coffee and 1 Blueberry Muffin

The manager rang in everything and got out my Blueberry Muffin from the on counter display case.  Normally I enjoy the Oreo Chocolate Muffin, but I didn't see any in the display case despite the case appearing almost full.  

The coffee? The manager pointed over to the promotional display and explained coffee was free for the week. I was free to help myself.  Normally to the McDonald's I have visited in the Richmond Hill and Aurora area (near Toronto) the free coffee is ordered at the counter and poured by the people behind the counter as if you were regularly ordering it. At this McDonald's, apparently the volume is so overwhelming you can pour your own. 

I attempted to grab a single small cup and ended up with three.  I had to separate the extra two cups individually before grabbing my single cup. I finally poured the coffee from the oversized bulk plastic coffee container you would find at any McDonald's special event.  I looked for a lid, nothing, so I  left figuring this location had cheaped out on the free coffee promotion.  

The coffee was the usual tasting McCafe Coffee that McDonald's has been promoting for the past couple years with the free coffee weeks.  However, this coffee was luke warm at best.  Perhaps if this McDonald's, like its Toronto area McDonald's compatriots, would serve the coffee using it's existing counter staff, the coffee would be warmer and perhaps fresher tasting. 

The blueberry muffin tasted like it had been in that display case all weekend and maybe even thensome. Usually, I find McDonald's muffins taste a little fresher than despite them being shipped in from who knows where.

This particular McDonald's, located inside the large Wal-Mart in the Ottawa Trainyards, I have been to at least three times now.  I've never been really impressed as this location seems understaffed and overwhelmed when customers visit for meals.  This leads to lengthy waits at the counter to order  and obtain food.  As well, issues with cleanliness with condiment and drink station,  tables, floors and other eating areas also result It is a good thing that Wal-Mart store itself looks after the washroom as I highly doubt this McDonald's store management could keep it up to health standards.  

Overall, this McDonald's needs help.  Serving luke warm coffee from an oversized plastic thermos during a head office promotion sanctioned coffee will probably not attract future customers to switch from your competitor Tim Hortons to McDonald's on a regular basis.  Issues with cleanliness and slow service also tend to turn off prospective customers from purchsing and existing customers from returning.  Hopefully, this McDonald's can pull it's Ronald McDonald striped socks up and improve.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pinecresting for an Ikea Restaurant

Today we ventured over to Ikea (2685 Iris Street, Ottawa) to do some hmming and hawing over some new furniture.  We arrived at 9:30

First we discovered the new Ikea Family Card that allows for discounts on food (i.e. free coffee or tea!) and furniture.  We signed up online last night and obtained our card today in a matter of seconds at the automatic kiosk via scanning the bar code provided. 

We then mosied upstairs to the restaurant for our the breakfast offerings at the Ikea Restaurant.  We grabbed our trays and moved along the cafeteria style line for our food.

The Order: 2 Breakfast Combos (Scrambled eggs, 2 sausages and home fries), 1 Large Cinnamon Bun, 3 Pieces of Bacon, 1 Coffee and 1 Green Tea.

All of the above was only $5.08 including $0.59 tax.  This is because 30 minutes before store opening there is free coffee and tea for all customers (Note: All day Free Coffee & Tea as well for Ikea Family Card holders).  As well, the 2 breakfast combos were only $1.00 each plus tax.  Pretty good value pricing for a breakfast meal. 

After paying the cashier, we gathered our drinks from the drink station and then retraced our steps back to the cashier station to pick up our cutlery.  

The only issue with this self serve style is the confusion it creates in finding where you need to go.  When waiting in line at the cashier, there were two families of four trying to figure out where the start of the entire process was.  A little encouragement towards the start and they found their way.  Then there was trying to gather our utensils, that we missed and got to the drink station.

A simple suggestion to resolve this issue would be to number each of the spots of the restaurants.  This would resolve a lot of the confusion as customers would only have to visit #1, #2, etc. For example, picking up your tray would be "Start Here #1" and then move through the organized line to gather you food.  2 Cashier would be next, cutlery 3, drinks 4 and so on.  This would make it easier to have customers get from start to finish in a expedient way without the frustration of missing a step and having to backpedal. 

We found a clean table and dug into our meals.  The food overall was medium warm in temperature.  If this was a diner, I would have sent it back for being lackluster in temperature.  The scrambled eggs were the worst, it seemed they had been warmed an hour ago and left to cool since then.  The sausages and bacon were medium room temperature.  But for the price of the food, it was still good value. 

The coffee was decent quality but probably the warmest thing there.  Coming from a Bunn-O-Matic machine, keeping the coffee warm and great tasting was probably the simplest thing the Ikea Restaurant did. 

Overall, the Ikea Restaurant is a satisfactory only.  For the pricing available, one should not expect high quality pancakes, waffles and such topped with whipped cream and fruit.  The total aim of the Ikea Restaurant is to provide decent food with a great price before and after a shopping trip to Ikea.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Elgin Street Diner: a Diner on Elgin Street

Last night we found ourselves in Downtown Ottawa and decided to review our dining options on Elgin Street.  The Lieutenant's Pump looked quite busy.  Pancho Villa had space, but I wasn't crazy about last times food when visiting in August.  We continued down Elgin Street and stopped off at the Elgin Street Diner (374 Elgin Street, Ottawa). 

We were seated righted away by, what would turn out to be, our waiter.  The place was moderatly busy and grew busier as time went on.  However, this better known for their breakfasts which we have attended before where the restaurant was packed.

We reviewed our menus and placed our drink order (2 waters).  2 waters? Yes, bottomless fountain pop is now $2.99 at this location.  Thus, I'm reviewing my options as quite frankly I usually only drink about 2 glasses at most restaurants.  So $1.00 plus per glass now seems a little much. 

Our waiter quickly dropped off our 2 glasses of water, swung around to another table to drop off their drinks and returned to inquire if we were ready to order.  We, of course, were after reviewing the menus thoroughly for dining options.  Thoroughly?  I wanted a Club House Sandwich with fries, but the Elgin Street Diner has 8 different Club House style sandwiches to choose from.  Decisions! Decisions!

The Order: 1 Smoked Turkey Club Sandwich  (smoked turkey, black forest ham, swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato) on white with fries and a glass of water and 1 Salmon  Burger with Fries and a glass of water.

The entire order came in about 10 minutes or less to be cooked and presented to us. Impressive service so far. 

The meals were interesting.  The fries appeared to be freshly cooked with that greasy glow to them.  However, as I dug through my fries while eating them I noticed they were satisfactory warm, but not extremely hot.  Perhaps this is so the diner is "Kid Friendly" so the little ones will get fresh fries without burning their tongues. 

My Turkey Club sandwich was delious with the right amount of mayonaise.   In hindsight, the only interesting part was there was bacon instead of the black forest ham as shown on the menu.  I didn't realize it until writing this review that bacon had been subsituted.  As well, the swiss cheese was not that noticeable.  But nonetheless, the Turkey was well done and the sandwich looked and tasted appetizing. 

The Salmon Burger was also interesting.  The Elgin Street Diner served a breaded Salmon Burger which was interesting.  In hindsight, this being a Diner and not a specialized seafood restaurant, breaded should be expected as opposed to regular Salmon grilled to perfection.  Although, I suppose the Diner could have used an M&M Meatshops Salmon Fillet instead which would have make the burger appear fresher and possibly better tasting. But there was no complaints from my wife who said the Salmon Burger was "O.K."

Overall, the Elgin Street Diner is a traditional greasy spoon diner that specializes in traditional breakfasts as well as burgers, fries, sandwiches and other traditional diner fare.  The food itself is excellent (even when not made to menu specifications as noted in the minor slip up above) and the service is fast and efficient with decent pricing.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Five Guys Burger & Fries Industrialized

Today for lunch I visited Five Guys Burgers & Fries (525 Industrial Avenue, Ottawa).  This was the third visit to this location which I've had mixed results with.

The first visit, at the beginning of October, my wife and I visited this location as our first time ever to a Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

After reviewing the menu, I chose a Hamburger, Large Fries and Regular drink.  My wife chose a Little Hamburger and a drink.  This came to over $25.00!  It took a while as well for our food to be prepared as, like at T.C.'S Fish & Burgers in Aurora, the restaurant makes it to order (i.e. you order, they start preparing your meal).    Good thing my wife didn't order her own fries.  The large fries are good enough for two people.  My hamburger turned out to be a two patty burger with all the trimmings while my wife's small hamburger was a traditional single pattied burger.   Overall, I used this first time visit to refine my order for the next two attempts. 

My second attempt was lunch at high noon on cold day.  I entered the store to find a line up with the kitchen in full action.  The line moved quickly, but the food took a while to come up, but not for a lack of trying by the kitchen crew who appeared to be a well oiled machine moving food through.  I ended up hitting the road with my food as there were no tables available indoors and outdoors was too cold to sit on their patio or in the nearby well manicured grass.  So I enjoyed my fries as I headed home in order to properly enjoy my meal.

On my third attempt, today, I arrived early at 11:15 A.M. in hopes of beating the lunch time rush.  Success! There were only a handful of customers there.  I walked right up to the counter and placed my order with the cashier.

The Menu
The Order: 1 Little Hamburger, 1 Regular Fries and 1 Regular Coke.

The food took about five minutes to move from the grill, to the topping station, to the fries and to the customer.  The only delay was a small wait for fresh fries to come forward.  Of the three visits, this was the only time I've seen the fries not be ready unlike McDonald's or other fast food where it is a regular occurrence. 

I sat down and opened the nondescript brown paper lunch bag that all customers get in order to access my food.  The bag had the usual old school grease stains due to it's occupants.

The fries were all over the place in the bag.  The kitchen crew first fills the cup full of fries, loads the bag and then dumps in even more fries on top to ensure you get enough.  This obviously leads to the aforementioned grease stains on the bag.   The fries were delicious!  Freshly cut, fried and salted. The only complaint was the latter noted salt, too much in some cases. Add a little ketchup, and you are in french fry heaven.  Added value was the sign at the front of the store saying "Today's potatoes are from:" with the name of two American located farms Washington.  Quick note: Sure Five Guys Burgers & Fries is originally American, but is it not able to source some Canadian spuds perhaps from Ontario or Prince Edward Island, especially after the recent harvest?

The burger was also equally delicious.  I could taste the freshness of the in house made paddie from the first bight.  The only complaint, the entire burger was smushed.  I looked around to see if my burger was a one off.  Nope, everyone elses burger also looked like a burger well handled by a five year old.  This results in the toppings, especially the liquids, from bursting out of the burger even before the first bite. 

The decor is pretty much like the old school burger and fry locals you would find anywhere.  Bags of potatoes here, free peanuts and associated shells there.  The only real beef I have with decor is: Do you really have to show off your awesomeness at every turn via gushing media quotes, including in the washrooms? The quotes were little much. 

Overall, Five Guys Burger & Fries is a solid burger place to fulfill your burger and fries cravings.  There are a couple of issues though that they need review.    The only issue I had was the price, at $11.04 for a basic burger, fries and drink it was getting a little much. At least Hero Burger in Richmond Hill has their basic burgers, fries and drink $10.00 or less. The food and service is of excellent quality with everything prepared efficiently and quickly to ensure the customer receives their delicious food as fast as possible.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bank on Bridgehead Coffee

Yesterday I needed to kill some time and had the munchies while being downtown.  So I ventured over to Bridgehead (109 Bank Street, Ottawa) to grab a coffee and something to fulfill my munchies while also having a review of what the people I follow on Twitter are saying.

I entered the coffee shop about 3:30 P.M. to find it full of people gabbing while others are hunched over their laptops surfing the internet.

I waited my turn for a short time in a short line to order before being greeted by the cashier who took my order.   While in line, I was looking at my options for something to nibble on.  At another Bridgehead location I noted they had a triple berry muffin amongst other choices.  Not here, only the Pumpkin Spice Muffin was available.  Only 1 muffin choice amongst the croissants and other baked goods?  Interesting. 

The Order: 1 Medium sized Medium blend coffee with 1 Pumpkin Spice Muffin.

After receiving my order, I spied 1 single table in this larger size coffee shop available and sat down.

The coffee was freshly brewed and superb.  Still better than a Tim Hortons coffee as noted previously in my review at the other location at Metcalfe & Sparks Streets.

The muffin, was a step back though.  It was a solid fall season muffin with small green coloured seeds on the top.  But the muffin itself tasted like an average pumpkin bread muffin at best.  Nothing like the Pumpkin Spice Muffin that Tim Horton's promotes during the fall season.   The Tim Horton's muffin has more pumpkin spiciness zing to it whereas Bridghead's is just plain pumkpin and lacking any zing. 

Overall, Bridgehead is a great Ottawa based coffee chain.  The coffee is better than the average brew from the big coffee chains like Tim Hortons and Starbucks.   But their baked goods so far I've found to be hit and miss.  For a young coffee chain, these are just some of things to fine tune.  Hopefully over time Bridgehead can refine their baked goods in order be banked on for good coffee and decently fresh and good tasting baked goods.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Scoring at Scores

For a Sunday evening dinner, we tried revisiting Scores Rotisserie & Ribs (150 Trainyards Drive, Ottawa) for dinner.  Revisiting? We attempted to have dinner on Saturday night but there was a 30 minute plus wait to even get a seat let alone the food.

This evening we were seated right away even though the restaurant looked well attended.  We were greated shortly after by our server who inquired what we would like to drink.  Our waitress dissappeared and returned with our drinks and took our order.

The Order: 1 Quarter Chicken Breast Dinner with fries and salad bar with a Pepsi and 1 Quarter Chicken Dinner Leg with rice and salad bar with a glass of water.

The waitress inquired if we were going to have the salad bar first or would like our dinner first with the salad bar.  We asked to have the salad bar first and the waitress said should would bring our main dinner. 

We ventured over to the salad bar to peruse our options before filling our plates with vegetable goodness.  The salad bar is great place to start with bowls full of lettuce to start with followed by the usual vegetables choices (e.g. tomato slices, cucumber, pickles, etc.) and a plethora of salad dressing to choose from.  As well, pasta and potato salads are also available. Add to this melons, grapes and other fruit you have a spot for a nutritious dessert as well.   My wife even found some chicken noodle soup (with real chicken chunks!) at the salad bar.

After gorging ourselves at the salad bar, our food arrived.  This is where comparisons come along with Swiss Chalet as Scores serves similar plates to Swiss Chalet. The rotisserie chicken breast was meaty and juicy.  The chicken serving was better than what Swiss Chalet has lately been serving as I've noticed Swiss Chalet's quarter chickens tend to be drier, thinner and less meaty in nature. 

The chicken plate also came with sauce.  The last time I visited this particular Scores, the sauce was watery and I thought it was a cheap attempt at gravy.  But this visit, the sauce was thicker and better prepared. However, it is hard to tell if it rivals Swiss Chalet sauce as my taste buds have grown to crave the Swiss Chalet sauce in both taste and smell.  

The bun seemed to be an afterthought.  The bun is half a hamburger bun thrown onto the plate underneath the chicken.  To be fair, the last time I was at this location, the bun was buried underneath the fries. Swiss Chalet on the other hand, provides what is passable for a freshly baked (even though it is frozen then reheated) roll.  The Scores bun, in comparison, seemed to be an afterthought of the kitchen when someone mistakenly ordered 20,000 hamburger buns only to realize that they don't serve hamburgers and suddenly need to get rid of them all.

The fries were average at best but not terrible.  They were warm and great with a little ketchup or Scores' sauce, but also decent plain.

The waitress provided excellent service.  She was timely with the food and suggesting she not place the main chicken dish orders for ten minutes so we could have time to visit the salad bar before having our meals.  She passed by a couple of times removing dirty dishes from the salad bar and refilling the Pepsi and water glasses. 

Overall, Scores provides better value than Swiss Chalet by providing free access to the salad bar with the purchase of a chicken plate meal.  The bun and sauce issues need to be remedied in comparison to Swiss Chalet but are not major issues.  Scores' provides a good value for a filling meal.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mediocre Denny's? Say it Ain't So

On Saturday I woke up and looked over at my adorable wife and said "let's go out for breakfast." 

My wife, the night before, had worked late at work attempting to get some important work done before the Monday due date.  We had missed going out to dinner Friday evening somewhere downtown.  So in recognition of her working late, I thought we could sleep in and then head off to a good breakfast. 

We hummed and hawed for a while throwing out various options before settling on Denny's (2208 Bank Street, Ottawa).  We have previously enjoyed this Denny's location due to its location in the South Keys Shopping Centre which is large big box store complex at the south end of Ottawa.  We enjoy visiting the Winners, Loblaws, Roots and other stores in the complex before and after having something to eat. 

We arrived at the Denny's at 9 A.M. which is probably peak time for breakfast eating on a Saturday.  The restaurant was half full when we arrived but a steady stream of customers did arrive during our visit. 

We were seated right away by "Zane" a tall friendly teenager who showed us to our seats.  We sat down and perused our menues.  We were greeted by our server who took our drink orders and speedily returned in less than 2 minutes with our drinks and to inquire if we needed more time to decided on what we wanted.   We requested a little more time and he dissapeared.

He returned two minutes later two mention that the Original Slam Breakfast was not on the menu anymore, but we could easily have it and what it contained.  He ran through the Original Slam Breakfast components so fast we needed to have it repeated.  We continued to peruse our menues. 

Another two minutes and our server returned asking if we had decided.  He was like an overcafeneited helicopter parent inquiring with their five year old what they wanted to eat and the kid needing more time to think about it.  Really?  Most servers give you at least 5 minutes or more to peruse the menu as well as look at visual cues to see if the customers are ready. 

Visual cues?  Customers will most likely close their menues and/or start talking to each other about other things once decisions about what to eat have been made. But apparently this important serving skill has to be learned. 

We made our decisions and placed our order.

The Order: 1 Belgian Waffle Slam® (A golden waffle with syrup served with two eggs, two bacon strips and two sausage links) with a coffee and Original Slam (Scrambled Eggs, two sausages, two pieces of brown toast, hash browns and two pieces of bacon) with a glass of ice water.

Our waiter left and was back within 10 minutes with our orders. He dropped off two plates for the Belgian Waffle Slam and another two with the Original Slam.

The Belgian Waffle Slam®, spread over two plates, looked a little thin in portion size.  As noted in a previous post to a visit at a Denny's in Vancouver, Denny's seemed to be cutting back on their portion sizes.  The waffles themselves looked plain with a smidgen of whipped cream on top.  The syrup came in a little plastic container.  Why not serve the syrup in a larger serving container or provide syrup options like Perkins?  It seemed like Denny's, along with their food portions, was trying to scrimp on every last penny including the sizes of syrup available to their patrons per meal ordered.  But at least the syrup was enough to cover the waffles adequately.  The waffles themselves tasted average at best (i.e. nothing special). 

The sausages and bacon served with the meal were again nothing special.  The sausages were small and thin in nature instead of larger and fatter found at other greasy spoons.  The bacon was average, but it is hard to make bacon special or noticeable.  Bacon is just expected to be there in any greasy spoon and is not usually the main part of the meal.  

The Hash Browns were, again, average.  In hindsight we should have ordered some home fries or something similar.  The Hash browns were like a mess of potatoes grated, fried and put on a plate.  No real cohesion like a McDonald's Hash Brown, but I guess this more traditional way of doing it. 

Some repairs did need to be made to the location.  The men's & women's washroom (which my wife told me about) needed to be modernized.  The bench seat at our table with places for 4 had a back section askew that needed to be reinstalled. 

Overall this Denny's needs some work in terms of fixing the decor and an update on the bathrooms.  Food portions and condiments seem to be cut back across the board at all Denny's locations based on the two recent location visits we had (Vancouver & Ottawa).  With the portion sizes cut back and average tasting food, Denny's has fallen to mediocre on the breakfast list.  Competition in Ottawa is fierce in the breakfast category with Lieutenant's Pump, Perkins, Elgin Street Diner and others putting forth good breakfast selections.    But not all was lost, service at this Denny's was excellent, coffee was refilled, food came fast and service was friendly.  Sadly though, Denny's has fallen based on it's food to mediocre.  Sad but true.

Friday, October 19, 2012

McDonald's Rideau/George Street: An Improvement over Yesteryear

Way back in my University of Ottawa days I used to venture down to downtown Ottawa on Rideau Street.  Rideau Street from Sussex pass the Rideau Centre and The Bay store is an interesting place in Ottawa.  Just down the street from Parliament Hill of Canada, this section of Rideau Street has issues with homelessness and drugs while also doubling as a major OC Transpo and STO bus transfer point for thousands of commuters a day. 

Also back in those days, I used to visit the McDonald's (60 George Street, Ottawa) on a regular basis for the usual fast food. This McDonald's location has an entrance off George Street and the Byward Market as well as an entrance off of Rideau Street. Usually there would be at least  two large male employees who used to work the counter. These two psuedo enforcers were required as it would be an anomaly if at least one drunk and/or homeless person were not ejected onto the sidwalk of Rideau Street.  Sometimes even Ottawa Police would show up to assist with the honours.  There was always something going on at the McDonald's. 

Today I returned to the McDonald's.  I visited the Rideau Street entrance to find a homeless man holding the door open looking for any change or leftover french fries customers may have.  Not much had apparently changed from my university days.  I continued past on the Rideau Street sidewalk and did a side glance through the front windows.  Everything had been upgraded since my last visit in 2002.  The new decor looked cleaner and brighter than way back in the day. 

I circled around the building to the George Street entrance.  The old entrance is the same, despite the main address of the McDonald's being George Street.  Customers are forced to walk down a long tiled hallway to get to the counter and place an order.  On this particular visit, the employees had left the door open to the garbage room open.  At least the trash room didn't smell, that was because a McDonald's employee had dutifully sprayed air freshener that remarkably smelled like a freshly cleaned and mopped McDonald's bathroom in ambiance.

I approached the counter, which had been reangled and refurbished since I was last there, where I was politely welcomed by the cashier and inquired with about my order.

The Order: 1 Big Mac Meal with medium fries and medium Coke. 

Just after receiving my change back, I received my order from the manager acting as a runner.  Talk about service!

I ventured over to the drink and condiment station to fill up my medium cup and gather my ketchup, napkins and other accouterments and viewed for a seat. 

The front was full so I found a spot on the high swivel chairs with a flat counter on the wall opposite the order counter. 

The Big Mac was the usual medium temperature, double patty with secret sauce.  The fries were medium temperature (i.e. not hot and fresh).

The ambiance though had changed.  More customers seemed to be utilizing the free wifi internet and  chowing down on McDonald's fare.   The customers were an interesting mix of local office workers as well as the sketchy characters Rideau Street is known for.  

Overall, this McDonald's has cleaned up it's appearance on the inside from yesteryear.  They serve the basic McDonald's fare in high volumes due to it's downtown locale.  The clientele has somewhat improved as more local officeworkers seem to be eating there, but the downtown sketchy clientele still resides.  It's an interesting McDonald's location to eat the usual McDonald's food, but the people around you but also has some interesting customers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tim Hortons Alta Vista

This morning I stopped by for a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons (1583 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa).  I entered this location within the Alta Vista Plaza to find a medium lineup in length.  With two storefront cashes open and team of Tim Horton's staff on duty the lineup is quick to get through. 

The Order: 1 Toasted Cinnamon Raisin Bagel  with Plain Cream Cheese and 1 Medium Black Coffee.

The cashier poured the coffee and I ventured down to the bakery preparation station to await my bagel.   

At the bakery, there were two workers there, one fetching the baked goods (i.e. bagels and english muffins) and the other prepping them with spreads.  These employees were flying with items going out the nearby drive thru window and popping up at storefront for pick-up.  There was a customer ahead of me looking for his english muffin.  He was still there after my bagel came up (less than a minute wait) but didn't seem to argue. 

I reviewed my seating options and sat down at a nearby table.  Upon reviewing my seating options I noted, like previous morning visits, there were tables with crumbs, dishes and used Tim Horton's packaging.  But this time one of the employees completed the rounds in retrieving the dishes and disposing of the garbage left on the tables.   The main suggestion for this location is to have someone on a part time basis as part of their duties invest their time in ensuring the customer tables are clean an inviting by washing the tables down and removing anything that doesn't need to be there.  This is similar to what occurs at the Yonge Street Tim Hortons location in Richmond Hill where someone looks after these areas as well as ensures the garbage is emptied as well.  

The coffee and bagel were exactly as I expected and have had in Toronto area.  Same goodness that I have come to expect.

This Tim Horton's is similar to expectations as others.  The service is excellent and, with a little work on table cleanliness, would be a top notch well run Tim Horton's franchise that head office would be proud of.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

No Moe Szyslak at Moe's Newport Restaurant

Today my wife and I headed over to the Westboro part of Ottawa.  We stopped by Moe's Newport Restaurant (334 Richmond Road, Ottawa) to try out this Ottawa institution. 

Institution?  The restaurant dates back to before 1987 when Moe Atallah took over ownership and even the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, has recommended it as one of his favourite places to eat.

But the restaurant is on the move as of January 2013 in an attempt to downsize operations.  It will be a sad day once the Elvis Sighting Society and Newport Restaurant move down the street after being at the location for so many years.  The move has been extensively reported by both the Ottawa Citizen and the CBC amongst others.

We arrived at 12:30 P.M. with the restaurant half full of customers.  Three waitresses were hopping as they cheerfully served their customers.  We seated ourselves and three minutes later our waitress brought over the menues and two glasses of ice water.  She inquired what we would like to drink and then dissapeared. 

She came back with our drinks and inquired if we were ready to order.  We were not as of yet and cheerfully said if we had any questions please inquire and then dissapeared for five minutes.  Upon her return we were ready.

The Order: 1 Classic Burger with French Fries and a Coke and 1 Chicken Sandwich Platter with a Glass of Water.

The food arrived around ten minutes later.  The drinks though were interesting.  $1.95 for what turned out to be a can of Coke and glass with ice.  They did have "fountain pop" on the menu, but Iit was never inquired as to which I would prefer (i.e. fountain or can) and, unlike many other restaurants, no free refills.

The Classic Burger with fries was a solid contender for good diner food.  The burger was topped with bacon and all the trimmings including ketchup, mustard and relish.  The burger itself was juicy but nothing overly special that suggested a "secret family recipe."  

The fries seemed to be fresh cut, but seem to be similar to those found at the University of Ottawa's Le Bac a Frites which may draw the freshness into doubt. But nonetheless, a solid batch of French Fries for a diner setting. 

The chicken sandwich Platter contained fries and a side salad.  The side salad was drowned in italien dressing.  The salad  seemed half toss salad and italian dressing half cole slaw.

The atmosphere of the restaurant took you back to a 1980's diner with Ottawa Sun Columnist Earl McRae columns mixed with Elvis Memorobilia and positive newspaper dining reviews. 

Overall, the restaurant has seen it's heyday and is indeed an Ottawa institution.  It still serves solid diner food but may need a retweek that may be coming soon with the aformentioned move.

Perkin' up for Perkins

Recently my wife and I visited Perkins Restaurant & Bakery (1130 St. Laurent Boulevard, Ottawa) for dinner.   The location is somewhat convenient to get to as it is right across the street from St. Laurent Centre Mall and OC Transpo's St. Laurent Transitway Station. 

We were warmly greated at 8:00 P.M. at the front and quickly seated in this moderatly attended restaurant.  It looked like the dinner time crowd had died down for the evening.  

We were greeted friendly by our server who inquired if we would like anything to drink.  We ordered our drinks and she quickly disappeared and returned.  We continued to pour over our menus, looking at the so many choices to choose from the American breakfast and lunch favourites. Eventually we decided and our waitress was eager to take our order.

The Order: 1 Triple Decker Club on White with Fries and Cherry Coke and 1 Classic Egg Favourites with a glass of Water.

About 10 minutes later our food arrived!  Pretty good on the speed and friendly service. 

The club sandwich was exceptionally good with fresh tasting ingredients.  I had not had a club sandwich in months yet it is a main staple on what I enjoy ordering at pubs in replacement of the usual hamburger or other burger based sandwich.  The fries were decently heated and were great with a little ketchup. 

The egg favourites came with pancakes.  There were three pancakes syrups to choose from: maple syrup, apricot syrup and what appeared to be a blueberry based syrup.  I tried each one and all were delicious except for the blueberry which was hardly noticeable.  But to be fair, the pancake with blueberry syrup had been previously soaking up a little maple syrup.  Perhaps the maple syrup was overpowering the blueberry syrup. 

The home fries were what you would get at any reputable greasy spoon to go along with your typical greasy big breakfast platter.  The sausages were about the same quality.

Our waitress returned a couple of times during the meal to refill the Cherry Coke and see how we were doing.  At the end she did the usual inquiry about desert.  Unfortunately, with such a good meal we didn't have any room for delicious desert from their bakery section, so we politely requested the bill.  The waitress dropped off the bill and said we could pay it at the bakery. 

At the bakery we were greated by the cashier who seemingly to genuinly inquire how our visit was.  We replied our visit was excellent due to the food and the above satisfactory service.

Overall if you are looking for a comforting American style breakfast or lunch with good service, Perkins is the right place for you.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Bridgehead to Goodness

This morning I headed over to Bridgehead (96 Sparks Street, Ottawa) to take in some delicious coffee and something a baked. 

This location of the Ottawa based coffeehouse chain is mere steps from Canada's Parliament Hill.  

I entered the location and walked up to the counter where I was warmly welcomed immediately and inquired what I would like.  I have been to this location a couple of times and have never had any customer service issues.  Every employee has a sixth sense of customer service here.  They will drop whatever they are doing (e.g.. grinding coffee, cleaning the coffee machine, etc.) to serve the customer.  They also seem to love to hate line ups as I've seen servers here open another cash when two customers are standing at the counter.  Even with both cashes open, other employees will gladly lend a hand if a line up does start to form.  True welcoming service at coffee shop chains is hard to find nowadays.  

I place my order and the server pours my coffee and grabs my muffin.

The Order: 1 Medium Medium Roast Coffee with 1 Triple Berry Muffin.

I received my coffee and muffin then headed off to find a seat. 

After sitting down, I had a sip of my coffee.  This coffee is superb tasting and is even better than your average Tim Hortons coffee. It is a rich fresh blend in taste.  Fresh? Yes, the coffeehouse claims that the beans are ground at their Preston Street location in Ottawa and then shipped to stores.  Tim Hortons Coffee?  Who knows where that is ground, Toronto maybe?

The muffin also was great tasting as it felt freshly baked the day before unlike Tim Hortons which freezes it's items and then ships them to the stores to be warmed in an oven.  

Overall, I've taken a liking to Bridgehead for the great tasting coffee and baked goods.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Richtree Market Restaurant Good But a Little Rich

Tonight my wife and I visited th downtown Ottawa Richtree Market Restaurant (50 Rideau Street, Ottawa). 

We waited about two minutes to be seated.

As we got to our table the hostess inquired if we had ever been to Richtree before.  We said no and were then explained how everything works.

Each person receives a plastic swipe card and you can visit whatever food station you wish, order something (i.e. the chicken station) hand your card over to be swiped and receive your food.  After eating you return to the restaurant entrance and pay the cashier. 

We dropped our personal items off at the table and wandered over to check out the food stations. 

I visited the pizza station and placed my order.

The Order: 1 Margherita pizza and 1 Can of Coke.

Eight minutes later I had pizza to take back to my table. 

I attempted to dig into the pizza.  But realized I did not have a napkin or even cutlery.  I doubled back to the chicken food station to find a basket of cutlery wrapped in napkins.  I'm surprised each table did not have a set of cutlery and napkin for each customer. 

After returning to my table with the cutlery, I dug into the pizza.  The pizza was cut by the server at the food station but the first slice I attempted to extract fell in half.  The middle of the pizza was not that well cut on each slice.  My knife made short work of the slicing issue and I returned to the task at hand. 

I extracted the first slice again and tasted it.  The pizza was very hot and I had to quickly guzzle some Coca Cola to cool down my tongue.  I reattempted eating the pizza to find it a thin crust, but the sauce and ingredients tasted good and fresh.   I ate the rest of the pizza barely an inch thick, but good tasting. 

After finishing our meal, we headed for the checkout.  The cashier swiped my card and $11.79 was the total including service fee and taxes.  

Overall, the pizza was pretty delicious and freshly made for myself.  However, the price for a can of Coke, $1.79 seems a little steep compared to other locations.  The pizza at $8.00 seemed reasonable, but the service fee on top was questionable.  Service?  I had to finish cutting the pizza and find my own cutlery and napkins unlike regular restaurants including buffets where you also obtain your own food.  So the food was good but the pricing needs some fine tuning.  Thus, I reluctanly like this restaurant but feel a little guilty in doing so.

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