Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Avenue to Steeling Good Deli Food

Steeles Deli Warehouse on UrbanspoonFor lunch today I felt a need for something a little different.  We had been to all the chain restaurants in the area (e.g. Swiss Chalet, Kelseys, etc.) and many others.  We had been to Pho Xe Lua, Annalisa and other asian restaurants as well.  Today I wanted something different.  Something solid, something familiar and yet someplace we had never been to before. 

In the past my wife and I had walked by the Steeles Deli and never set foot in it.  There was always a large line up at the door and the place was packed. Always a long line up. 

So this being quiet Saturday afternoon I thought why not attempt a visit to this normally very popular local establishment.  Worse comes to worse we end up visiting Pho Xe Lua if we can not get a table in time.   But we never got the chance, there was a table at Steeles Deli. 

We were welcomed as soon as we walked in the door.  There were only two tables left in the old time deli restaurant with with an open concept kitchen with four cooks being fed orders by two experienced waitresses.  We were shoehorned in near the kitchen.  The only other table available appeared to seat eight and was further back.  Shoehorning people in appears to be the method at Steeles Deli as each of the tables seems to be carefully arranged so as to take up the minimal amount of space so that the small intimate deli space can serve all its patrons yet have the clientele not feel rushed.  

Our order was taken by a friendly waitress who wanted to ensure we felt cared for yet not be overserviced. 

Our Order: Deli breakfast (sausage, bacon, toast, scrambled eggs, & coffee) and a California Style Chicken Sandwich (grilled chicken sandwich with Guacomole, lettuce etc.) with a side of fries.

Our order took less than ten minutes to find its way to our table.  The kitchen staff works together like clockwork to ensure your order makes its way to your table piping hot and fresh.  You can even see the meat slicer working as fast as possible to ensure all deli meats are feshly sliced and the team of four works like well orchestrated team.  There is even one person just the otherside of the kitchen counter to ensure all the orders are read out to the kitchen team and correctly put together before the waitress wisks them quickley to the table as fast as she can navigate her way to the table.  McDonald's could sure learn a thing or two from this operation in terms of food service!

The food was of similar quality as the service. My fries were crispy hot, yet delicious and not  overcooked. The chicken sandwich was excellent with the chicken not too over or under grilled.  The lettuce and all the trippings tasted to be freshly made. 

The only issue was the scrambled eggs from the deli breakfast.  There were a few egg shells pieces, but this is really a minor quibble within an otherwise excellent meal. 

The atmosphere of the place was interesting as well.  The ornately old deli style walls with pictures of actors from yesteryear mixed with customers who seemed to regulars of this fine dining establishment. 

Overall the Steeles Deli was an a great place to visit.  The deli could easily take over the floor space the nearby Swiss Chalet as the Deli seemed to have more patrons than the famous Canadian Chicken establishment.  But that would mean the Deli would lose some of it's charm, a place with great food with others in close quarters within in an intimate setting.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Digital Hero

In the past year I had the misfortune of having computer issues.
My HP Laptop decided to have a flickering screen and then stop working.  I called HP for to see if there was an easy workaround or how much to repair it.  However, I was stymied as my 4 year old laptop was out of warranty and the technician said before he could say anything HP required a $50.00 yearly fee to diagnose the issue and tell me if it could be fixed. 

I figured since the laptop was three years old, HP would collect their money and tell me there was nothing they could do.  So I gave up and hung up the phone. 

I turned to Bob Kyriakides of Digital Hero to see if he could investigate the issue.  I explained the symptoms to him and Bob took my computer for a couple of days to investigate.  His reply was there was a loose connection between my computer screen and the motherboard.  He knowledgeably explained this was a common issue in HP Laptops.  He also said he could fix it this time temporarily but that it may not work permanently.  He is also friendly suggested that I start watching for sales on computers.  

The one thing I love about this Digital Hero is that he always tells the truth as he is not interested in selling you a new laptop or gizmo like other technicians who are also commissioned to sell products.  Bob tells you the truth and explains it to you in plain easy to understand speak.  He gauges his customers to see how much tecnobabble they can handle as he explains the issue.  The best of all, Bob never considers any query to be a stupid question. 

A couple of months later, my old HP laptop finally gave up.    I took the computer back to Bob who did some diagnostics and said the motherboard was fried.  He backed up the computer to an external hard drive and recommended I purchase another computer.  Bob handed me my old computer in two pieces.  The first piece was the hard drive and second was the rest of the computer.  Bob had the thoughtfulness to ensure I had the hard drive with all my data so I could recycle my old computer without worrying about any data on the old hard drive falling into the wrong hands. 

In the end I learned I could depend upon Bob Kyriakides, he helped me through a tough time with my computer issue with knowledgeable technical service and a friendly demeanor.  I would definitely recommend Bob and Digital Hero to anyone looking for expertise in repairing, purchasing or anything computer related.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Chamber at Boston Pizza

Boston Pizza on UrbanspoonVisited Boston Pizza (8 First Commerce Drive, Aurora) on Tuesday for the Aurora Chamber of Commerce's Pub Night.  

I arrived shortly after 5:30 P.M. to find the main bar area to be somewhat populated by local business owners.  I sat down with a coworker for some beers and pizza.

The Order: Medium Tropical Chicken Pizza and pair of Coors Light beers.

There was one bartender with waitresses appearing periodically who were visiting from the main restaurant area and then dissappearing. There really could have been a set waitress for the chamber event instead of leaving the bar tender to fend for herself.  One would think with close to 80 local business owners coming and going, there would have been money for a night out there with fellow area business owners to talk and enjoy some Boston Pizza fare.  

The only thing the Aurora Chamber of Commerce provided was a cheese pizza for nibbles and a few napkins.  Considering the event was free admission, not much food should be expected.  This is unlike the Chamber's networking breakfast where an admission fee is levied and a buffet breakfast is offered. 

Our pizza arrived within fifteen minutes and we ate it. The pizza was decent, but nothing to write home about.  The pizza had too much cheese but at least was not overloaded in pineapple or other tropical fruit.

Just as we were finishing our meal, the mayor of Aurora, Geoff Dawe, stopped by to see how we were doing and what our business, Curb Signs Inc. was doing and what we were about.

Overall, it was a great evening of meeting business owners and others from the area with a little bit of food as well.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

No Pricey Second Cup

Second Cup on UrbanspoonI checked out a local specialty chain coffee shop in my off and on search for good coffee.  I have tried McDonald's, Country Style and Tim Horton's in the local Richmond Hill area.  

On Thursday I stopped by the Second Cup (8910 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) to enjoy a cup of java.  I walked in and was served immediatly by a polite Barrista. 

The Order: 1 Medium cup of Caramelo Coffee

The Barrista poured the coffee from their insulated coffee decanter with one hand as I paid into her other hand.  I find at many Second Cup locations experienced staff can pour a coffee yet take cash at the same time. 

One issue I've recently been contemplating about Second Cup is they normally have five different flavours housed in insulated coffee caraffes.  Other coffee chains promise fresh coffee with Tim Horton's promising their coffee is freshly brewed at every 15 minutes.  With that in mind, how many times do the flavoured coffee get changed at Second Cup?  Hourly, dayley, who knows?

Anyway, I find the flavoured coffees at this Second Cup to be pretty good.  The taste is excellent even with the questions behind the coffee's freshness.  The main issue is the price.  At $2.45ish per medium cup it is more than McDonald's ($1.50) and Tim Horton's.  Hence it gets a little expensive if you return for a refill or second cup of coffee.   This despite the possible lack of freshness. 

Overall, the coffee is great tasting but the price and issues with freshness of the coffee are rightful customer concerns.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pho Xe Lua: I'm Trained to Visit

Pho Xe Lua on UrbanspoonOn Family Day Monday my wife visited the Art Gallery of Ontario for a day of art and culture.  For lunch we thought we would poke around to see if the newly renovate Art Gallery had any good place to eat with decent pricing. 

We knew the FRANK Restaurant would be out of the question as it looked very pricey so we thought we would try the AGO Cafe in the basement of the museum for some sandwiches and maybe a drink.  Then we saw the price of $8.00 per sandwich and, oh yeah and extra $1.00 if you wanted a drink with it.  $9.00 plus taxes for a saranwrapped sandwich and can of Coke? Really? 

We left the AGO for Spadina Avenue looking for some good Asian cooking.  We ran across the Pho Xe Lua (254 Spadina Avenue, Toronto) which we  had before and enjoy visiting a frequent basis. 

We entered and walked up the stairs where we were greeted and seated immediately. The serving staff brought us tea and picked up our menu order.

The Order: #108 - Pho with rare beef noodles and meatballs, #102 Pho with rare beef and tripe and gobs of tea to wash it all down.

The Pho was exactly like the Pho we normally enjoy at the Pho Xe Lua Vaughan location.  The Pho was excellent beef broth with rare beef and noodles.  My wife's pho, the #102, was just as she had at the Vaughan location. 

The only hiccup was when we asked for the bill.  Like the Vaughan location, we really did not have a designated server, as customers you just wave down any passing waiter or waitress for assistance. 

We inquired with a server who was at the cash machine behind our table for our bill.  He looked mystified as to what we want and inquired where table 61's (our table) bill was punched in. He went to another machine at the kitchen area.  He looked at the screen there and was interupted by another customer who was dropping off payment. Next thing we knew this server was walking to the other end of the restaurant to serve another table. 

We flagged down a waitress who was at the machine.  She printed our bill in less than 15 seconds and handed it to us with a smile on her face like we were her best customers.  

Despite the small hiccup in service I would still recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for Pho and moden vietnamese atmosphere.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Annalisa Asian Fusion a Fusion of Goodness

Annalisa Asian Fusion Cuisine & Lounge on UrbanspoonThis past Wednesday my sister, brother and I headed up to Annalisa Asian Fusion Cuisine & Lounge (15171 Yonge Street, Aurora) for some good Asian food.

We entered Annalisa's one of our favourite places to eat in Aurora as it provides something different than the usual pub or Canadian food many places in the Aurora area serve.    

Annalisa's is a little weird in terms of the number of people it serves.  I have been to this restaurant a number of times at various times of day and differing days of the week to find the place with no more of 2 to 4 tables occupied at time.  Wednesday night was no different as we spied 4 tables occupied while we were quickley, yet courteously, seated and our order was taken.

The Order: Special Pho with a glass of Pepsi. All you can eat Sushi and Pad Thai.

Our food came almost together as the waiter made several trips from the kitchen and the sushi bar.  

I had forgotten how to order Pho as normally at my wife's and my usual Pho place I order it without the tripe, so I ended up with the  tripe and almost gagged a couple of times. But that was my mistake and the not the restaurants.  Otherwise the pho was excellent.

My brother had the never ending supply of sushi.  I'm not really one for sushi, but what was being prepared was well presented and, as my brother kept asking for yet another order sheet, the sushi was excellent. 

My sister had the pad thai and didn't seem to quibble over the taste or portion size.

Overall, Annalisa is a great place for those looking for a variety of Asian foods as well as for those in Aurora looking for something different from the usual pub and fast foods.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Starbucks Aurora Works for Me

Starbucks on UrbanspoonLast Thursday I was off early to Aurora to attend an Aurora Chamber of Commerce Speed Networking event representing where I work.  I arrived in the area early so I thought I would stop off at a local coffee shop. 

Starbucks (2 Orchard Heights Blvd, Aurora) is an internationally well known coffee chain.  This partcular location is a little different as it is located within the St. Andrews Shopping Plaza which is a pedestrian open air plaza that can only accessed by parking the car in the surrounding parking lot and hoofing it into the interior or around the edge of the plaza building.  This allows the for patios and outdoor walkways to exist.  Too bad St. Andrews removed their water feature and replaced it with ongoing gardens, the water did add to the ambience but I guess the cost of filtering and cleaning the man made stream was prohibitive. 

This particular Starbucks would be great in the summer to enjoy an outdoor patio seating with a coffee in hand.  Too bad I was forced to stay inside by old man winter.  But at least there was free Wi-Fi and the usual great tasting, yet overpriced, coffee that Starbucks is known for.   I only needed a coffee at this juncture of my travels,  I was after all expecting breakfast at the Chamber of Commerce of event, so no need to spoil my appetite.

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