Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Return to Father & Sons

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I used to frequent Father & Sons (112 Osgoode Street, Ottawa) periodically for beer and a good filling home cooked style meal while attending the University of Ottawa across the street.  I remember the delicious lunches and dinners there always with a cold glass of beer with friends.  Good spot for university students to go at night with friends, grab a pitcher of beer, wings and share a few laughs. I have fond memories of this restaurant.

Today for lunch I decided to bring my wife along to see if Father and could match it's former glory.  We arrived at 11:45 after a short walk from OC Transpo's Campus Transitway Station, to a bustling restaurant that had been redecorated since I had last been there.  We were told to sit anywhere we pleased by a waitress.

We made short work of the the two step raised section of the restaurant to sit in a window facing King Edward Avenue. The chairs still seemed to be the same wood ones from yesteryear, but the tables looked newer and the walls had been artfully painted with murals here and there coupled with photos of University of Ottawa sports teams from yesteryear.

A minute after we sat a waiter stopped by, dropped off menus, and then inquired if we would like coffee. We declined the coffee and reviewed the menus. Strange, being 11:45ish one would figure the lunch menu complete with burgers, sandwiches and whatnot would be offered. But only the breakfast menu was dropped off.  Well, perhaps the waiter doesn't know what time it is and only dropped off the breakfast menu by mistake.  No worries.

The waiter came back with two glasses of water and asked if we were ready to order.  We inquired if lunch menus were available.  He said no lunch menus were not offered until 2 P.M. on the weekends and breakfast is served until then.  We asked for a few more minutes to decide on what to order and the waiter left.

I started thinking about it, this restaurant's main clientele is university students.  University students are not known for getting up early especially on weekends. Perhaps that is why breakfast is served to so late.  Then I continued to think about it, what about the athletes and others who get up early on weekends to practice? What about the mourning dove like students who enjoy mornings? They might like lunch at high noon on a weekend and would be totally finished with breakfast foods.  I could understand a weekend "all day breakfast" menu being offered alongside the lunch menu.  But I guess that would make too much sense.

I looked at my wife and indicated it was up to her what she wanted to do in terms of ordering or leaving for another restaurant that was more interested in serving lunch or at least breakfast and lunch together.  She replied we are here anyways and looked through the menu.  We settled on our order and waited for the waiter to return.

Soon enough the waiter returned with a couple of other breakfast menues for other tables and stopped by to take our order.

The Order: 1 Mikey's Big Breakfast (3 eggs any style, 3 slices of country style toast, 2 sausages, 2 bacon, 1 ham served with home fries and a cup of coffee (substituted tea). And 3 Large Chocolate Chip pancakes and a cup of coffee.

The order was not without issue, we tried to substitute a coffee for a green tea. But sadly, the waiter said they were out of green tea and only had Orange Pekoe. We went with Orange Pekoe and the waiter left. Upon further reflection, did Father & Sons not have the ever popular Earl Grey as well?  Never did ask.  But at least the soon after the waiter returned the tea and coffee. 
I visited the washroom to wash my hands before my breakfast lunch. Apparently the washrooms have not been touched in ten years. Sure they had been mopped and cleaned, but renovations were noticeably absent.
Had things fallen apart at the beloved F&S?  Other restaurants with a bit of history behind them had slid down the hill to mediocrity and to even worse in both ambiance and service but had F&S?  
The food came well within an impressive ten minutes from ordering. The waiter ensured we had everything we required and left. Hmmm, could the quickness of the arrival of food suggest it was not made to order and this was food that had been sitting in the kitchen?  Only one way to find out, taste the home fries for freshness and warmth. 
The Mikey's big breakfast was well done. All neatly arranged on a single plate brimming with food.  The home fries were hot and definitely ready for a little ketchup. Sure they would have stood by themselves taste wise but of course ketchup is a great accompanier to any traditional home fry. The two average sized sausages were next, average tasting but not lacking in the warmth department.  The ham looked like a slice of baloney, but definitely was not as it was warmed and tasted exactly like ham should. My wife enjoyed the scrambled eggs from this plate.  The toast was excellent, not burnt, but also not soggy from too much butter. Bottom line on this plate, it would be something similar I would find at a home if my Dad was cooking a big greasy spoon style breakfast.  
My wife and I split the chocolate chip pancake plate.  The plate comes with three huge pancakes that take up almost the entire plate itself. Nice! The only space left is for the syrup and butter packets.  Packets? Yes, F&S uses individual prepacked syrup instead of letting you pour it for yourself.  I guess this is to limit quantities from overzealous students wanting to open a maple syrup factory instead of just enjoying a few pancakes with a few buddies.  The pancakes to me were top notch. The chocolate chips were still a excellently melt in your mouth gooey and mixed well with the maple syrup.  My wife thought the pancakes were a little sweet but understood it was due to the chocolate chips.  
Drink wise each meal comes with coffee or, if requested, an understandable substitution to tea. The coffee and tea cups though appear small.  Added insult is the $1.00 charge for refills listed on the menu.  After receiving the bill though, I noticed the $1.00 charge was waived even though our waiter had refilled my coffee cup once. Not sure if this was mistake or on purpose, but was a nice gesture nonetheless. 
After finishing our meals, we requested the bills and the waiter dropped off two bills to our table.  Yes, the waiter had split the bills which is understandable considering that normally the restaurant serves students who pay individually. We just merely added them together, got our stuff and found our waiter processing another payment at the cash register at the bar.  We stopped off, handed both receipts to him with payment and left.  
Overall, Father and Sons needs a little help here and there.  The lunch menus need to be introduced for on weekends starting around noon. If kitchen space is an issue, perhaps a hybrid weekend brunch menu could be developed with a mixture both breakfast and lunch items offered.  The washrooms are in dire need of upgrades as well. But the food and service continue to be excellent.  Delicious hearty meals that taste like they were made at home accompanied with good service is exactly what a student needs during long weeks at school hitting the books.  In that regard, Father & Sons continues to satisfy. 

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