Monday, June 15, 2015

Two Guys at a Five Guys? Why so?

Click to add a blog post for Five Guys Burgers & Fries on ZomatoEarlier this month I made a couple of trips out to Barrhaven to visit clients for my business.  After a client visit I usually stop off for a meal before heading home.

Five Guys Burgers & Fries (1181 Greenbank Road, Ottawa) is near OC Transpo's Strandherd Transitway station and also easily accessible from the nearby Greenbank Road.  I use this as great spot to both transfer from nearby streets to Ottawa's transit system to head homewards.

This Five Guys Burgers & Fries is located in the Riocan Centre located at Greenbank & Strandherd.  During the weekdays it is a nice quiet place to have lunch as most locals are either in school or gone to work in downtown Ottawa.

I entered shortly after noon on two occasions about a month apart.  I was warmly welcomed by one "Guy".  There was another "Guy" at the grill with burger flipper in hand eagerly awaiting my order to begin cooking.  

This brings me to an eternal question I have of this franchised set of burger places. Sure Five Guys, as you'd expect, was founded and operated by five guys.  However, each store isn't operated by five guys working the kitchen. Today there were only two.  Heck, one time I visited the Ottawa Trainyards location to find the store worked by "Five Gals".  And no, they don't change the sign when that happens.  But I hilariously digress.

I, of course being a Five Guys periodic attendee across town at Trainyards, already knew what I wanted to order...

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

I paid and received my regular size fast food style beverage cup to fill at the nearby fountain drink station nearby.  The kitchen "Guy" started his magic by unloading one paddy onto the grill and the other "Guy" started the fries.

As I waited I loaded up on the free peanuts and started munching as my burger and fries cooked.

It's pretty quiet on the two occasions I ate there.  Only the odd area worker and stay at home moms and dads stop by with their little charges bringing up the rear.   This makes for a semi-quiet atmosphere that probably changes after school and work lets out. But for a daytime lunch spot I'll take it!

The burger and fries usually are ready about ten minutes after ordering.  I visit the counter, grab the paper bag and return to my seat.

The burger, as usual, is awesome with it's own unique taste as they grill burgers using peanut oil.  I usually top the burgers "All the way" which includes ketchup, relish, mustard, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, grilled mushrooms, and grilled onions which provides a delectable tasty burger combination.  The only complaint is the burger's appearance after unwrapped.  Both Five Guys Barrhaven and Trainyards have burgers that appear "smushed" when unwrapped from the tin foil.  Is there no way around this?  It's like the burgers are put together and then roughly wrapped by the kitchen crew using cinder block hands. Is there not cardboard burger packaging like McDonald's has for their Big Macs.

The fries were overflowing as usual.  The key thing with Five Guys Fries is they first take the regular size container, fill it and then add another heap of fries into your bag.  Sometimes they can be a little oversalted to some tastes but I usually find them just right.  Make sure to get ample enough ketchup for your fries.  Pro tip: After opening your paper bag and unloading the hamburgers, strategically rip the paper bag to lay flat at on the table to provide a communal french fries station!

Overall, the Five Guys Burgers & Fries in Barrhaven is a great spot for lunch.  Quiet atmosphere and good service accompanied with the taste that Five Guys' is known for makes it hit with me.  I wouldn't hang around till the evenings though, especially on the weekends, when this location must be hopping with the area locals and tables must be hard to find. When in Barrhaven, I'll be back!

Friday, June 05, 2015

A Zomato Meetup at EVOO Greek Kitchen

Click to add a blog post for EVOO Greek Kitchen on ZomatoA couple of weeks ago I received an invite from Zomato to attend Ottawa's first Zomato Meetup at EVOO Greek Kitchen (438 Preston Street, Ottawa).

After purchasing Urbanspoon in January 2015, and after many months of Zomato's tech team amalgamating and sifting through reams of data,  finally turning out the lights on Urbanspoon on June 1st, I was intrigued about learning more about Zomato and what their meet ups entailed.

I arrived at  6:25 after a tour of Ottawa's Little Italy, Preston Street to find one other local food blogger already there.   While waiting for others to arrive water and red and white wines were offered. Our waiter, Michael, stopped by periodically to refill our drinks even with asking. There were some times throughout our meal I could have sworn I emptied my glass only to look back two seconds later to find it full again.

EVOO Greek Kitchen on Preston Street

The Zomato Community Managers Samantha (Ottawa Community Manager) and Kevin (Canada East Lead Community Manager) handed out the set menus for the evening.

Michael gave our party of ten an explanation of how things are served at EVOO. All the meals were served "family style" with individuals being able to dish out to their own plates.  This made serving from the kitchen pretty easy as all they had to do was to artistically arrange the food on large wooden cutting boards and add utensils to serve to the smaller plates provided to each diner.

Greek Spread for Appetizers

The appetizers were a mixture of Greek dips to be spread on pita bread. The dips were melitzanossalata, spicy feta dip and taramosalata. These all had different textures and tastes ranging from similar to a yogurt to a spicy aftertaste.  This was accompanied by a separate dish of Cypriout Halloumi Cheese.  This is a fried cheese was quite interesting as it was soft and chewy.

Fried Octopus, Greek Salad & Calamari

Next was the interesting part of the evening. Fried Octopus and Calamari with Greek Salad. Terrific except at our table of four (the other table had six) there was 1 vegan and three who didn't care for seafood.

I was willing try one of the offerings and thought the Fried Octopus seemed interesting.  But where do we begin? The four of us had no clue as seafood wasn't really our specialty.  A few sheepish looks at each other and gazes to the other table finally brought some helpful guidance to avoid the more charred end.    The Fried Octopus was a surprisingly tasty dish that I equate to a pork chop.   I finished the whole thing and had a second tentacle.  For the record, the suction cup like pieces of a traditional octopus  after cooking do not stick to your mouth or throat on the way down.

Roast Lamb & Greek Chicken
Next was the Roast Lamb and the Greek Chicken. The best part of the night! The lamb was perfectly prepared being tender.  The chicken was too die for!  Great preparation all around.

Luckily, out of the four at my table, one person had to leave for a soccer game, another had her own vegetarian dish (which also received rave reviews) and the Zomato representatives switched!  So I got even more of the Lamb and Chicken deliciousness!

Overall, the food was excellent and the chef even came out to greet us. He was originally from Greece and started this restaurant after coming to Canada.  He fills an Ottawa need superbly, well made Greek cuisine that simply isn't fast food prepared by mere high school kids.

The service, as you would expect was awesome with probably their best waiter and supplementary assistance. This is really the only thing that bothered me. Of course I'm going to get the gold plated treatment when your expecting me and other writers there looking to write about their experience.  It kind of removes the intention of writing about the average experience a regular person off the street might encounter.

The Swag!

Zomato meetups are interesting and I would gladly do this again as it was fun to meet other local bloggers who not only write about restaurant food but also fashion, recipes, newspaper (local neighborhood newspaper editor) and social media.  It was also interesting to put a face to a name on the old Urbanspoon and new Zomato Leaderboards.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wal-Mart's Failure at Scanning Code of Practice

Recently, our dentist had told my wife that alcohol based mouth washes were being studied for causing mouth cancer and also could lead to dry mouth.  He also mentioned that more and more manufacturers were moving away from alcohol based products (for obvious drinking related reasons included) and towards a non-alcohol related formulation.

We did a little bit of research and found Wal-Mart had the best price after consulting Shoppers Drug Mart, Your Independent Grocer and Loblaws.

On the evening of Friday May 8th my wife and I were grocery shopping at our local Wal-Mart Canada. We came across a bonus offer by Johnson & Johnson's Listerine brand.

Regularly priced at $4.97 for 1L bottle, there appeared to also be limited supply of a Bonus 250 mL travel sized bottle attached at no extra charge.

Listerine Zero at Wal-Mart Trainyards 
We of course reviewed the shelf pricing, $4.97 and there didn't seem to be any indication that the bonus package would cost anymore.  In fact Listerine had added a red "Bonus" sticker indicating the "Bonus item provided to retailer at no additional cost".

Listerine Zero 250 mL Bonus Sticker
Great!  So Wal-Mart received the bonus and passed onto the consumer the freebie that Johnson & Johnson so graciously offered right?  WRONG!

After finishing our shopping, checking out, we reviewed our receipt.  Why was the Listerine listed at $5.79 before taxes?

We reviewed the shelf tag and took a couple of photos to help the Customer Service Associates.  This Wal-Mart is notorious for paging for assistance for price checks.  It usually better to take a photo of the item in question with the price tag visible.  Otherwise you are stuck at the front counter until either sales associate is paged three times and responds or a manager takes pity and you hike for miles to show them the price tag and return to the counter.

We headed over to the Wal-Mart Customer Service counter to inquire with the Customer Service Associate there about the price discrepancy.  She went over to a couple of managers who were speaking in the aisle before cash registers to inquire.

Wal-Mart Trainyards Customer Service

Tina, one of the store's Assistant Managers came over and reviewed the item and the photos I took. As well we reviewed the weekly add where, on the back page, the Listerine was advertised at $4.97.

Tina decided that the best she could do is offer the bonus pack at $4.97.

I asked her why Competition Bureau of Canada's Scanning Code of Practice would not apply.

A little thought on her part and the reply was "because it's a different UPC and the original one is on Roll back".

I asked to speak the manager as this product was not obviously on "Roll Back" as it was the same price the previous Friday before the current flyer (which started May 7th) had even started!

Tina said, Cory Allan, wasn't in that night and the best she could do was honour the original $4.97 price.  She then left.

I asked if that phone number (1-800-328-0402) , posted next to a smiling photo of the Store Manager Cory Allan and his promise that if there was an issue a member of Cory's Management team would "make it right", was for Wal-Mart Canada Customer Service.

"Yes it is", was the reply.

Wal-Mart Canada 1-800-328-0402 Customer Service

"I'll start dialing then" came the reply.  Of course I wasn't moving.  This instance was a blatently obvious Scanning Code of Practice violation where the product was scanning in at a higher price than the shelf price.

I waited for the automated system and dialed the appropriate number as prompted while athe associate looked at me cross eyed.

The associate typed a few things into the computer and put cash and receipt on the counter like this was the end of it.

"Could you please leave the area?" came the question from the Associate.

"No, I'm currently escalating my complaint to the next level with Wal-mart Head Office Customer Service, and they may want to speak to you".

The associate called another Assistant Manager, Michael, over and claimed I raised my voice to her.

It was quite obvious that this Wal-Mart wanted to avoid at all costs a claim under the Scanning Code of Practice at any cost as to avoid being caught on their store statistics.    It was quite obvious that they had been nailed on store statistics as there were postings for how many Wal-Mart Mastercards Cashiers had successfully signed up and the Scan Rate the store was aiming for and had failed to meet at least for that week posted on white boards.

Finally getting through on the phone, I asked the call taker to hold while I explained to Michael the issue.

Michael said there was nothing he could do as Tina was the "Duty Manager" that evening and Wal-Mart Policy was the Duty Manager had the final say unless I spoke to the Store Manager.

I replied to the Associate I'd like a full refund for the purchase as the store obviously didn't want to adhere to the Scanning Code of Practice they had posted notices about, as required by law, at each cash.

The Customer Service Associate grumbled and put more cash on the counter with yet another receipt. This despite me with my credit card out waiting for her to do the refund.

I asked if it was not Wal-Mart policy to refund on the original method of payment and pointed to the the original receipt showing the credit card payment.

She sighed and left, with the cash unbelievably still on the counter, to find her own manager.

The Customer Service Manager, Sherry, came up, inserted her key and refunded the amount onto my credit card.  I thanked her and she sighed and left.

I'm not sure where Sherry was in the first place and why Tina was required, but whatever.

Back to the phone where, amongst the above, I was now onto the 3rd Wal-Mart Customer Service Representative who, supposedly, could help me.

I relayed my story to him and he promised that the Wal-Mart Trainyards Store Manager would call me back.

I asked how long, he said normally 24 hours.

I asked, if this being Friday evening, if by end of day Monday I had not heard anything back from Wal-Mart period if I should call and check in.

The Wal-Mart Customer Representative agreed and I hung up.

The weekend and Monday came and went with not a peep from either Store Manager Cory Allan or Wal-Mart Head Office's Customer Service team.

@Walmartcanada Twitter

So I took to Twitter on Tusday May 12th and asked Wal-Mart Canada repeatedly for help in the hopes their social media team would take up the issue and reach out.  Sadly, they gave me the same 1-800 number to reach out to.

I followed up with a couple tweets asking if a "Customer Service Manager" would be available and received no reply from the Wal-Mart Canada Twitter team.

So I called back on Thursday May 14th to check in with Wal-Mart Head Office Customer Service.  The first rep actually picked up the phone within 30 seconds and knew what he was talking about! Hallelujah!

I explained the situation to him and he asked me for an "issue tracking number".

A what?  The previous call taker never provided a tracking number for the issue.  But at least this Customer Service Representative new what he was talking about. He looked up the phone number I had provided and easily found my issue and gave me the issue tracking.

He reviewed the file and said his option at this point was to resend the e-mail to the Wal-Mart Store Manager, Cory Allan for follow up.

I followed up to ask if the District or Territory Manager would be CCd on the e-mail as the issue was obviously ignored by Cory Allan.

Yes the District Manager is came the positive reply.

Now I tried my luck saying that yes the Customer Service Agent had been positive but the issue had obviously been dragging on long enough (almost a week and counting) and if a Wal-Mart Customer Service Manager was available?

No they are not, they are on other calls.

"Could they give me a call back?", I inquired.

"Sure!", came the reply and I gave him my number and we moved on from there believing I would call within the next 15 minutes.

I was promised Fadi or someone else with an indecipherable name would give me a call.

Johnson & Johnson

An hour after the phone call and nothing from Wal-Mart Customer Service, I decided to try investigating if the manufacturer of Listerine had anything to say.

After some Googling around I found that Johnson & Johnson was the manufacturer.  I also found their "Contact Us" page and the ability to send an e-mail to them for follow up via their website.

By 11 P.M. that evening I had a reply from "Becky" from Johnson & Johnson apologizing for the situation and asking for contact information as well as the Lot number of the bottle in question.

I reviewed the bottle at Wal-Mart and took a photo as there were two lot numbers!

I followed up with Becky via e-mail with address and lot number question.

Following the long weekend I received an e-mail from Kyle at Johnson & Johnson who thanked me for the photos of the Lot numbers and promised coupons would be mailed out shortly and I should receive them within the next 7-10 days.

Johnson & Johnson came through with flying colours in Customer Service by being both courteous in responding to valid customer issues and having quick turnaround times when contacted.  In less than 24 hours I had responses to my two e-mails by Customer Service agents who knew their stuff and could do something like it.

I followed up again on Twitter with Wal-Mart after the May 14th phone with Wal-Mart Canada in hopes someone somewhere would acknowledge the issue and address it at store level.

A short while later a Tweet from Wal-Mart Canada came back:

I followed up on the Friday with my phone number with hopes Wal-Mart would admit there error and apologize for the customer service calamity.

To say the least, I followed up Twitter with them on Tuesday May 19th with no response.

Scanning Code of Practice Complaint 

Since then, I've filed a complaint under the Government of Canada's Competition Bureau's  "Scanning Code of Practice" using their website.   I expect in the coming weeks to be contacted by this federal government agency to provide photos and my side of the story. I do hope the Wal-Mart Customer Service will provide better service to the federal government investigators than what I received.

Amy of Customer Experience

Today, I received a phone call from Amy of "Customer Experience" from Wal-Mart in Mississauga.  Coincidentally, Wal-Mart's Canadian Head Office is in Mississauga.  But, like the rest of this Wal-Mart extravaganza, her phone number was listed on my call display as "Blocked number".

I didn't pick up the call as usually these numbers are nothing more than overseas telemarketers locked away in a meat locker trying to hornswoggle me into purchasing windows or duct cleaning.   A short while later a message.  Amy left her name and phone number to call back with a message she was following up about my Twitter inquiry about Customer Service.  Great! 3 business days later Wal-Mart was actually following up!

I called back the phone number provided, pressed 1 for English and then provided the option to enter in a five digit extension, use the company directory or wait on the line.  I chose the latter as all I had was the name "Amy" and the phone number I just dialed and to ask for "Amy at Customer Experience".  So waited on the line for 10 minutes listening to how there was "higher than normal call volumes".  I hung up after not speaking to anyone.

I tried again 2 minutes later figuring my phone call had fallen through Wal-Mart's awesome Customer Service phone system.  Another 10 minute wait and nothing.

I tried the Wal-Mart 1-800 Customer Service number again wondering if they would be better at getting ahold of Amy.  The rep picked up in 15 seconds of me entering the que.  I asked for "Amy of Customer Experience".  He had no idea who that was!    I asked to speak to a Customer Service Manager, but of course none were available as they do not take calls.

Finally an admission, if you call Wal-Mart Customer Service at 1-800-328-0402, you can not speak to a "Customer Service Manager" or any supervisor.  All you get is every excuse in the book including "their in a meeting", "they are on another line" or the real admission "they don't take calls". So truth be told the 1-800 agents are merely message takers for Store Managers while also being a front that a customer's issue is really being escalated to a head office sounding locale when in actuality it is not. Obviously this entire number is really only provided to frustrate the customers.

So I pressed on to call the 905 number again to see what would happen.  In two minutes I had someone pick up the phone!  I asked for "Amy of Customer Experience" and was put through.  Amy picked up and I explained who I was and the situation as well as how hard it is to get through to her since she doesn't leave a five digit extension number or call from an unblocked number.

Amy, to her credit, agreed that store had not adhered to the Competition Bureau's Scanning Code of Practice.  She said she would contact the Store Manager and get back to me within an hour.

15 minutes later Amy called back (also from a "blocked number") and said I could go and pick up my product at Customer Service at the Wal-Mart Trainyards store.  I asked two questions: Do I need ID and how long would the store require?  All I needed was my name and phone number provided and I could go starting within the next two minutes.

Great!  Things finally seemed to be moving in my favour.  That is until I got to the store in 45 minutes from Amy's phone call and waited in line at Customer Service.  Once I got to the front and explained it to the Customer Service Representative I got a puzzled look in return.

I gave her my name and phone number on a cash register receipt paper she provided.  She then tried calling Amy within the store.  That is until I corrected her and explained Amy was the "Customer Experience" representative and gave her the phone number for Amy.

The Customer Service Representative tried to get a hold of the Wal-Mart Trainyards Store Manager, Cory Allan, but of course he wasn't reachable.

She called a Customer Service Manager over and together we explained the issue.  He disappeared for five minutes as I waited at Customer Service.  He returned empty handed asking if I would join him in the aisle as he couldn't find any bonus packs.

He offered me to make the whole situation right by receiving a 1 L Listerine Zero bottle plus a 250 mL bottle.  He also asked what happened.  I explained it to him and he nodded his head and couldn't believe it.  He also reviewed the pictures of the shelf I took.  He said that this was a clear case that the Scanning Code of Practice should apply.   He offered me a second bottle of 250 mL Listerine and helped me check out at the vacant cosmetics counter.  He apologized again and I left the store.

Overall, Wal-Mart Customer Service from the Store Manager to their 1-800 number needs a complete overhaul.  The Store Manager obviously refused to acknowledge the situation and the customer service reps at the 1-800 number refused to escalate the situation and only were interested in obfuscating the situation until the customer gives up in frustration. If Wal-Mart Canada actually cared about Customer Service to the level Wal-Mart Founder Sam Walton did, the Store Manager would have been returned the phone call and Wal-Mart Head Office's Customer Service number would have had a Customer Service Manager available.

In the end, as I was leaving the store I was happy that Wal-Mart Trainyards was having a "Store Visit".   Apparently, according to the store staff, management was arriving to review the store's operations.  I do sincerely hope the Government of Canada's Competition Bureau Scanning Code of Practice was going to be reviewed and reintroduced to store staff as it seems obvious in my case  that store management doesn't seem to understand it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's Tea Time at the Rideau Centre!

Click to add a blog post for DavidsTea on Zomato A couple of weeks ago I found myself walking through the Rideau Centre on my way to a client's office downtown.

I stopped in for a cup of tea and check out one DavidsTea's (50 Rideau Street, Ottawa) newest stores.

I walked into the store, near the Rideau Centre's Food Court entrance to find three DavidsTea employees behind the counter working on different customer tea concoctions and one employee working on the shelves.  The shelver greeted me with a smile while welcoming me to the store and said if I had any questions feel free to ask! I politely said I was here for a cup of tea and she guided me to the counter where one of her accomplices would serve me.

I waited at the counter for a minute and was greeted by yet another overexcited "I need to restrict my caffeine intake" DavidsTea employee. I placed my order with her for the "Tea of the Day".

The Order: 1 Medium Size "Secret Weapon"

With so much pep, the employee whizzed around behind the counter grabbing a cup, filling it full of hot water and tea, taking cash and my "Frequent Steeper" card.

When visiting DavidsTea I normally go for the "Tea of the Day" special promotion for a couple of reasons. The first is the ability to try different teas and to keep things interesting.  I really don't have a particular preference for teas so each cup is a flavorful surprise and I get to learn which blends I prefer vs those that I do not.    The second is pricing, at $3.00 per cup as opposed to $3.25 I save $0.25 plus applicable taxes.

The tea was a normal regular taste.  Nothing secret really about it, it was plain boring tea with no special flavoring. This was not my favorite.

Overall, DavidsTea continues to be a favourite destination of mine when I look for tea.  With warm and friendly staff at the Rideau Centre location, I'm sure to return in the future when needing,l as the British call it "a hot cuppa".

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Whoooooose There at Morning Owl?

Click to add a blog post for Morning Owl on Zomato A couple of weeks back, I had the pleasure of being downtown to visit a client to go over recent work my company had completed.

I had saw that the old Quiznos store at 139 Bank Street had closed and was undergoing renovation to a Morning Owl Coffeehouse. I had heard rave reviews about their other location on Rochester Street but, for whatever reason, never went there.

I ventured in a lunch time on a Friday after hearing about their specials on Twitter and was interested in their Turkey Club Sandwich with perhaps, them being a coffee house, a cup of coffee.

The new location at 139 Bank Street has a modern looking coffee shop interior with a counter overlooking the sidewalk at the front and a few small tables inside.   Along the right hand side of the narrow store is the main counter where the food is ordered, prepared and paid for along with the coffee products.

I waited in line that moved fairly quickly to order with one of the two employees behind the counter who were preparing the food.  From there I gradually moved forward to the cash to order the sandwich (again!) and coffee.  Everything, except for the sandwich ordering, seemed somewhat smooth as the coffee came quick and, after a return back to the two friendly ladies prepping food, I got my sandwich.

For $10.06 including tax (or thereabouts) I had a turkey club sandwich, which seemed to be regular bread sized, and a cup of coffee.  Not great value wise but what about quality wise?  Only one way to find out...

I sat down at the front counter overlooking the sidewalk.  All the other tables were full of downtown office workers enjoying their lunch time.  The sandwich was the first victim.   The bread, if you call it that, was a tasty artisan crunchy layer that was like a bready pie crust.  Not bad, but I wasn't sold on it totally.  The rest of the sandwich tasted like it was "cared for".  The lettuce and tomatoes were noticeably as fresh as could sourced for February in Ottawa.  The mayonaise was noticeable but not overbearing.  The turkey was excellent.  A pretty good sandwich with only one change I would make, perhaps some locally sourced old school baked bread that is more bread like and less artistically inclined?  Is that so wrong?  It probably would sell well considering the pubs around this place only really don't concentrate on the freshness aspect as well as Morning Owl seems to.

The coffee was exquisite.  Fresh tasting with a decent decadent taste to it. I'd probably return to Morning Owl Coffeehouse if I was in the area again.

Overall, Morning Owl Coffeehouse is not your local Tim Hortons.  Freshness and quality is top of mind instead of volume and cost effectiveness.  Don't bother entering the door looking for cheap items as you will leave empty handed.  But customers can expect quality prepared food that seems to have that old school local business touch along with decent service.   That's really "whoooooooose at Morning Owl!  People who care!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bank on Wild Oat Bakery Cafe & Restaurant for Good Hearty Food!

Click to add a blog post for Wild Oat Bakery Cafe and Restaurant on Zomato On a previous Friday for lunch I decided to spin my luck on the old the Zomato wheel of fortune to see where I would end up.

First, a Sushi place.  Nope, don't like Sushi (please leave all hate mail down below...tried it a couple of times from real Japanese places, just never acquired the taste for it).

Second, a nice interesting spot, Wild Oat Bakery, Cafe & Restaurant (817 Bank Street, Ottawa).  In past visits to the Glebe I had never set foot in this store figuring it would be some hipster coffee hangout.  I decided to go and visit to check it out.  If it didn't work out, shrug, no loss as there are a couple of other places I could investigate or just go and have pancakes.

I entered the store around noon and strolled past the bakery and through a doorway.  There was another counter where they served coffee.  My glasses had to defrost due to the change in temperature from the cold minus twenty Celsius outside to whatever warmth they had inside.   After defrosting things got more interesting.  In the coffee shop side (i.e. "The Cafe") there were tables to sit down at plus a long counter for singles to sit at to people watch the traffic going by on the sidewalk.

I perused the menu at the coffee shop which had some specials and then ventured over to the bakery side.  With a refreshed view from my now defrosted glasses things were a little more appetizing.   I even noticed the soup and chili counter near the front door I came in which had almost a dozen options to choose from along with what appeared to be a freshly made roll to accompany your selection!  I scooped up some chili and headed to the cash with roll in hand and headed for the cash at the bakery.

The Order: 1 Vegetarian Chocolate Chili, Roll and a coffee.

After picking up the chili, I headed over to the coffee bar to grab a cup of their regular black coffee before finding a seat.

I found a seat near the window and dug into the chili.

The Vegetarian Chocolate Chili I chose because it sounded interesting.  Why would you add Chocolate to Chili?  It never crossed my mind to do so but I thought it was worth a try.  The Vegetarian part?  Didn't bother me as I had tried non meat chilies and other vegetarian concoctions that have been a culinary delight.

The Chocolate part was lacking.  I couldn't even taste it and my tongue was looking for either a milk or dark chocolate flavour but came up empty.  But besides that the chili was excellent with just the right amount of spice to provide the odd kick but nothing over the top "quick turn on the tap my mouth is on fire" spiciness.  It would be a solid contestant in any neighbourhood chili contest.

The coffee was a decent tasting coffee.  A real effort, like the chili, was made to ensure the coffee was of the right quality.  After all, one of the key ingredients of a good "cafe" is a solid cup of coffee, and the Cafe at Wild Oat has it.

Overall, Wild Oat Bakery Cafe & Restaurant specializes in old style home cooked meals that would make your grandparents proud.  With special attention to ingredients for vegetarians as well as taste, the bakery, cafe and restaurant produces quality food.  At less than $10 for a solid portion of Chili and a cup of coffee it's a great lunch spot.  Add in a vast selection of breads, soups, chilies and other items it is a great spot to explore with your taste buds.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Skimping on the Souvlaki at Jimmy the Greek

Jimmy the Greek on UrbanspoonLast Saturday after doing some shopping downtown and returning back to OC Transpo's Transitway I decided to stop off at the Rideau Centre's Food Court for a bite to eat.

I settled on Jimmy the Greek (50 Rideau Street, Ottawa ) as Big Smoke Burger had both cash registers tied up trying to figure out a customer's debit card transaction.

After waiting behind one customer, I was ready to order at Jimmy the Greek with a friendly smiling young lady brimming with exuberance.

The Order: 1 Chicken Souvlaki Dinner with 1 Can of Coke.

Jimmy The Greek Rideau Centre Dining Hall Storefront

After finding a table to sit down within the busy Saturday lunch time mall food court scene, I took a look at my meal to be disappointed.  Sure there was plenty on the plate in terms of rice, Greek Salad and potatoes, but there was just one measly skewer of chicken. You would figure with the dish being called "Chicken Souvlaki Dinner" that the "Chicken Souvlaki" would be both plentiful as it is the centre of attention. Sadly, no, just one skewer was available.  

Chicken Souvlaki Dinner
The dish was satisfactory with the chicken being grilled but slightly on the dry side.  The salad was an average in freshness but saved by the Greek Salad Dressing.  The rice was just about right but nothing my wife and I couldn't master at home.  The potatoes were an interesting take on Greek style potatoes with an interesting taste to them which went well coupled with the leftover tzatziki sauce from my consumption of the chicken skewer.  

Overall, Jimmy the Greek isn't that special.  At $11.69 for a food court meal including canned soft drink and taxes, it's over priced.  If there had of been just one extra chicken skewer the price may have been reasonable.  Hopefully Jimmy will pull his socks up and listen to his mother about proper Greek hospitality and not skimping on the main part of a dish. 

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