Sunday, October 27, 2013

Feeling like a King at Dominos King Street

Last weekend, I made the trek via VIA Rail down to Brockville from Ottawa for a day of fun with family.  But I had to kill some time in Brockville until my family caught up to me from their trek from Toronto.  Of course one of things on my list to do in Brockville was to find some lunch.

On my travels along old Highway 2 (King Street as the local's call it), I spied a Domino's Pizza (191 King Street West, Brockville).   I entered at 11:30 A.M. to find a quiet storefront with no customers inside.  I was warmly greeted by an older gentlemen who was ready to take my order.  

The Order: 1 10" Pepperoni Pizza

After ordering and paying I was told the pizza would be out in about 7 minutes.  I turned around and sat down to wait for my pizza to be made, baked, boxed and handed to me.  

I glanced around at the Domino's Pizza and locked on a television screen.  No, not an interesting sports game going on or even the daily newscast.  It was an order status screen with the exact location in the pizza making process my pizza was in!

Domino's Pizza order status screen
When I spied it first, it said it was being made and ready in 10 minutes.  I grinned and pointed out to the gentlemen behind the counter the status screen was something I had not seen before and it said was at the 10 minute mark and being made.  He said they had the screen for a couple of months and was currently a customer crowd pleaser.  

The pizza came out, boxed and ready to go right on the seven minute mark on my watch.  The status screen? About 2 minutes left on it, not bad time wise and novelty screen wise too! But how would it taste? I left the store in search of a nearby park or streetside bench in the historic section of Brockville.  I found a streetside bench and dug into the pizza.

The pizza was cheesy with the strings of cheese splitting off as I extracted a slice from the pie.  A decent amount and taste of pepperoni was also available on this pizza.  No scrimping was noticed on the toppings of cheese and pepperoni.  Pretty good Domino's Pizza quality right here, nothing wrong tastewise.

Overall, Domino's Pizza on King Street in Brockville provides quality customer service with a warm welcome and smile from the employees.  Speedy service was expected due to myself being the only customer on a quiet Saturday morning and I was not dissapointed.  Quality chain pizza with quality service at Domino's Pizza Brockville.

Reliable Tim Hortons while on the Go

On the first Saturday of October, we dropped my Mother-in-Law at the airport for a 7 A.M. flight. Of course she had to be at the gate for 6:30 A.M. ready for boarding.  Great, up at 4 A.M. and ready to leave by 4:45 A.M.

There is only one thing someone needs after arriving at the airport with bags in hand at the ungodly hour at 5:15 A.M., a cup of coffee.  We checked in, got the baggage tag and before heading to security, stopped off at the 3rd floor Food Court of the Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport that has Booster Juice, Harvey's, Rideau Bar & Grill, and of course, a Tim Hortons (1000 Airport Parkway Private, Ottawa).

This Tim Hortons is a full service store front with shared seating to the side.  If you arrive early enough for your flight in the morning be sure the check in first before proceeding to the food court area.  Some airlines hand out free newspapers (example: Westjet offers complimentary copies of the Globe & Mail and the Ottawa Citizen) as well the food court area is at the top of the escalators from the third floor down to the second floor and security.

I lined up at the counter watching the operation overall.  There were two American customers over at the bakery waiting for their breakfasts being put together. They were dumbfounded that they do no receive their orders for their breakfast sandwiches at the cash register where they ordered like at McDonald's but over at the bakery area.  They were talking with the lady making their sandwiches about what Tim Hortons offered.  It was quickly noticeable these two gentlemen were not Canadian, any Canadian would know how the average Tim Hortons operated. The lady took her sweet time putting together the two Americans' sandwiches.  I took note of this and decided to skip anything that would have to be prepared in the bakery area.

I moved forward in line and placed my order.

The Order: 1 Medium Black coffee and 1 Boston Cream Donut

The coffee was poured in seconds and my donut retrieved without any complaint. The pricing was consistent with all Tim Horton's pricing I had experienced in the Ottawa area.  Sometimes other chains allow the prices of their food to fluctuate depending on the market.  This results in chains like Burger King and McDonald's having exorbitant pricing at counters in movie theatres and airports.  Thus, to Tim Hortons' credit, they kept the pricing exactly the same as any other location in Ottawa.

I ventured over to the common eating area for all of the airport's food court restaurant counters and had a seat.  The coffee was exactly as I would find it elsewhere.   The donut, the same.

Overall, the Tim Horton's on the third floor food court of the Ottawa International Airport before security is matches up service and taste wise to other Tim Hortons found elsewhere in Ottawa.  This is noticeable as sometimes institutions and movie theaters like to jack up prices of the food available at their locations as they have captive customers.  The only downfall I noticed of this location is the slow bakery preparation on the back end.  But this could happen, and has happened, at other Tim Hortons locations and comes down to experience and training of the employees.  For a quick bite to eat before heading through security to your flight, this location should be a stop for you before saying "Bon Voyage!"

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Pasticceria Goodness in Little Italy

Friday for lunch in Little Italy, I visited Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana (200 Preston Street, Ottawa) which I originally thought was a mere bakery of wedding cakes and the odd sweet including Gelato.  But I was sadly wrong, why had I not at least seen there was more?

Perhaps it was because the storefront itself is raised a little bit with a front veranda and thus making the front windows hard to see all the delightful goodness inside.  I heard there was more inside and decided to check it out in hopes of finding another lunch spot.

I was warmly greeted from behind the counter by the staff inquiring if I knew what I wished to order.  I was a little too awestruck at the delectable site before me.  To my left was an expansive display case of regular gourmet cakes, cookies, and other sweets.  To my right were the day's pasta dishes for lunch plus a display case of various Italian Gelato's.  Further down was a complete coffee bar for any Italian coffee you could imagine.  Of course there was the usual seating with customers exploring their Italian creations.  A little sign on one of the display cases indicates there is a Wedding Cake museum that can be toured upon request by one of the staff members.  Apparently, it is quite the impressive sight.  I didn't bother the staff as they were busy preparing and serving the restaurant's typical Friday afternoon customers who all seemed to be known by name or at least warmly greeted like they were old friends.

The staff member guided me to a couple of menus to review after I regained my composure of being impressed with the surroundings.  I selected something from the pizza menu and ordered.

The Order: 1 Margherita pizza.

I was told the pizza would be ready in about 10 minutes.

For the next 9 minutes I perused the delicious treats of the shop.  At about the 5 minute mark of wait, I was inquired with if I would like the pizza dipping sauce.  "Of course" came my reply not knowing what I was getting myself into but seeing the deliciousness I was surrounded by, I was not worried.

At the 9 minute mark, my pizza was boxed and ready along with the pizza dip and decent amount of napkins.  I was graciously handed the box and left the store before my tastebuds could convince my brain to bankrupt my retirement savings and purchase everything else in the store.

I returned to the office and opened the box to the fantastic sights and smells of a gourmet pizza made with loving care.

Margherita Pizza with dipping sauce.
I dug into the Margherita Pizza and found the cheese was still melted.  The pizza was a traditional Italian thin crust with Parmesan & Mozzarella cheeses, Italian tomato sauce, basil and olive oil. Delectable with each bite.

The only minor complaint, don't expect this pizza to be filling.  But what the pizza lacks in quantity, it makes up for in high quality.

Overall, Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana is an Italian destination restaurant for those looking for the highest quality Italian cooking without having to visit Italy itself.  Award winning professional chef Joe Calabro owns and operates this hidden gem in Little Italy that provides great opportunities for those looking for a place for lunch, a place for desert, a coffee shop or even a romantic spot for dessert.  A one sized fits all with terrific knowledgeable staff and delicious freshly made food.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

They Put their Heart into it Heart & Crown on Preston

Friday after I had my lunch, I received a phone call from my boss who wanted to know if I'd eaten or not.  "Of course," I replied, I had been to Domino's Pizza and had eaten already. But I would be willing to have a snack and a few drinks if need be.

So of we went to Heart & Crown Pub (347 Preston Street, Ottawa) where we were greeted on the patio and inquired if we would like to sit outside or inside.  Inside we went and we were seated in the back corner near the bar.  Not a bad spot as it is open to the complete restaurant and not where they shove customers they would rather not have seen.  The only issue with this back corner is lighting to read the menu.  We had to get our cell phones out to light the menu in order to see enough.  Once through that, I looked for a simple side order of fries.  Couldn't find it.

The waitress arrived and inquired if we were ready to order.

My Order: 1 Basket of Fries and glass of Coke

The waitress nodded and left to place our orders with the kitchen.  Fifteen minutes later a large basket of fries arrived along with a Heinz Ketchup bottle.

The fries were a little greasy, but hot.  Soft and delicious with a little ketchup to help out.  Perfect pub food.

Service wise our waitress sure moved.  Drinks were always refilled promptly and food came in a reasonable 15 minutes.  It probably helped the bar was only about half full for a lazy Friday afternoon lunch.

Overall, this Heart & Crown Pub location is pretty decent on a Friday for lunch.  Wait staff hustle and the food, based on my simple basket of fries and the rest of my table's meals.  If you are looking for simple pub food with friendly staff who put their "Hearts" into it, this is a crowning pub for you.

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