The 2002 Review Page
Last updated: 2003.1.14
Mélange Wine Bistro
8 Moyer Place, Kitchener, 745-0105.
Visited: Friday, January 4, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Michael, Annette, Tasmin, David, Nora, Dennis
This restaurant opened December 2000 in Kitchener's Market Village. The owner, Jason Ernst, was previously the general manager at Solé in Waterloo.
Warm surroundings, friendly service, great food, deserts to die for, an empty wallet, pleasantly full. If you don't mind the dent in the pocketbook, highly recommended.
Whale and Ale British Pub
1271 Victoria Street North (at Frederick), Kitchener, 570-3033.
Visited: Wednesday, January 9, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Annette, David, Deborah, Nora, Tasmin
The escargot presentation was unique with escargot, mushrooms, and cheese served between slices of garlic foccachia bread. Tasmin liked the bread. The special T-bone steak was very thin but prepared exactly as requested. The beer selection is excellent.
I had difficulty deciding what I wanted for dinner. I ended up ordering the Sizzling Mushroom ($5.99) appetizer. The sauteed button mushrooms were done in a cast iron pan served with a Thai dipping sauce and a wedge of lemon with three long bamboo skewers sticking out of the lemon and parsley for colour. This was a very yummy dish.
For dessert I ordered the chocolate truffle cake ($4.99). I was very disappointed with this cake. It was a very hard cake (almost stale tasting or at least it wasn't covered properly in the fridge). It was not like any other truffle cake I've ever had. Not a very good choice.
I did sample Nora's escargot dish. It was quite nice a very different. I also sampled Deborah's perogies. It was very good for a pub.
I think the total bill was around $90.00 for the 4.5 of us.
University Garden Chinese Cuisine
425 University Avenue East (at Bridge St), Waterloo, 569-7588.
Visited: Friday, January 18, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: David, (Tasmin), Annette, Nora, Michael, Dennis
This is our second recommended restaurant for 2002. The food was excellent. We didn't have a single item that was a disappointment. All nicely spiced, and neatly presented. About $12/person with 2 boxes of food taken home.
The only drawback was that they were short staffed and overworked. When we arrived they were backlogged by about 35-45 minutes. Most of their business appears to be take-out rather than eat-in. You may want to avoid their peak periods.
100 Sportsworld Drive, Kitchener, 653-4600
Visited: Saturday, January 26, 2002, 4:15pm
Tasted by: Dennis, Michael, David, Tasmin, Annette, Nora
They don't take table reservations, but they will hold a spot in the lineup for you if you phone in advance. Hours are a bit more restrictive than other restaurants (Saturday is 3 to 11pm). This is a small chain (12 restaurants in Ontario, 3 in Alberta).
Food for the most part was very good. Lots of interesting flavours. Worse item was the fresh cut french fries which were oversalted (not inedible, but edging that direction). Best items: everything else, very good to excellent.
But you do pay for the good cooking, I basically had a chicken burger, fries and salad for $14. And if you come after 4:30pm, you'll find a lineup to get in.
Qualified recommendation, one of the better chains I've come across.
Michael V. (Feb 5/02):
I would add a clarification on the Outback Steakhouse re: prices. Prices are higher than the usual roadhouse, but the portions are proportionately larger as well. Not a place for a light meal. And a mention of the bloomin' onion might be a good idea too :-)
Slices Food Service
300 King West (at Water), Kitchener, 576-3760
Visited: Friday, February 1, 2002, 6pm
Tasted by: Tasmin, David, Michael, Nora, Annette, Dennis
This place closes at 8pm on Fridays, 6 or 7pm the rest of the week. Works best for groups of 4 or smaller.
This is a cafeteria style diner that's been around for 2 or 3 decades. Food is a mix of Canadian and greek styles.
I had the special of the day ($6.35). A bowl of beef barley soup (thick enough that Michael called it "porridge"). Followed by a roast beef sandwich (generously sized), fries (straight from the freezer, but edible) and gravy. A filling meal.
Annette enjoyed her chili. Michael liked his omelette special, but will probably go for a western next time.
Overall, everyone enjoyed their meals. Recommended as a good place for a cheap (under $10), filling lunch.
Special note: the kitchen staff had a pizza delivered while we were there (we suspect from across the street -- Caffe Gallery Bolero). Which is where some of us went for dessert, while the rest went next door to the KW Bookstore.
323 King Street East (near Cedar), Kitchener
Planned visit: Saturday, February 9, 2002, noon
Attempted by: Nora, Tasmin, Annette
June 2002 update:
Replaced by Market View Cafe.
Nora, Tasmin and I attempted to go to the Saloon for high noon. Alas, they were not open at that time of day.
Visited: Saturday, February 9, 2002, 12:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, Tasmin, Annette
Nora, Tasmin and I attempted to go to The Saloon for high noon. Alas, they were not open at that time of day.
Instead, we ended up at Red Lobster.
I started with the Lobster Stuffed Mushrooms (lobster, cheese, rice, chopped green and red peppers) ($6.99) and then ordered the Aztec Chicken (chicken cooked in chipotle BBQ sauce, chili-lime seasoning and sour cream on a bed of tortilla strips) from their lunch menu with a side of green beans (vegetable of the day). Tasmin had a side dish of their rice ($1.69). Their basket of cheese bread was very tasty but a bit salty.
The only thing I would skip on my dishes were the tortilla strips. I did not enjoy them one bit. Tasmin's rice was quite nice. Nora and I were both surprised that it had seasonings in it. The chicken was excellent -- nice little kick.
T J's Country Roadhouse
1458 Weber Street East, Kitchener, 894-9880
Visited: Saturday, February 16, 2002, noon
Tasted by: Tasmin, Annette, Nora, Dennis, David
This is one of those restaurant/bars that requires 5-10 minutes before you eyes adjust enough to see in the dimly lit gloom.
It's also one of the few restaurant/bars in the area with a decently sized dance floor. They have live entertainment Thursday through Monday evenings (with weekend matinees). And you also run the risk of darts and pool tables.
But wait, you say, how was the food...
Cheap, plentiful and surprisingly good.
The most expensive items were the 10oz steak ($8.50) and the daily specials. Everything else was under $5, with most in the $4 and under category.
Nora and I both had the Banquet Burger ($4) which came with a large mound of fresh cut potatoes. Both fries and burger were quite good.
David and Annette had chicken wings (25 cents each, except Thursday when they are 15 cents each). Our waitress/cook explained that the base for the sauce was different for the milder sauce levels than the highest hots. So David and Annette had a side order of the suicide sauce to go with their mild wings (and were glad they did, since the mild was bland).
We also sampled the onion rings (a big basket for $3, which were very good, even when they got cold) and the garlic bread with cheese (a bit better than average, with lots of herbs).
Nora and David both had "abstract" beers for $4 each.
Total bill for the 4.5 of us was $27. In the same ballpark as Dixie Lily's Laundromat Cafe, only with much better food and drink.
A qualified recommendation, especially if you're looking for cheap night of eating while you dance, throw darts or play pool.
PS: Tasmin was delighted when she charmed a balloon from an older gentleman.
The Noodle Hut
220 King Street North, Unit D, Waterloo, 884-6868
Visited: Wednesday, February 20, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: David, Tasmin, Annette, Nora, Dennis
Better than average. Nicely spiced food. We spent $11/adult and were pleased with the result.
247 King Street North (at University), Waterloo, 888-7440.
Visited: Wednesday, February 27, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Dennis, Annette, David, (Tasmin), Nora
Limited seating (10 chairs) at stand up style tables. Annette figured that if she was a few inches shorter she could have (while standing) pushed the food straight off the plate into her mouth.
Primary features are various wraps/pitas and fish.
Annette had the fish (haddock) and chips. I had the fish (cod) and chips and a side of coleslaw. My meal came to just over $7 with tax. The fries were fresh (and unlike a lot of places, they asked if you wanted them salted). The fish tasted fresh, but the batter was very bland. My coleslaw was on the dry side (which is how I prefer it), but rather plain.
David had their Philly (I believe he described it as hamburger meat in a wrap). Nothing special.
Nora had a spicy wrap and onion rings. The onion rings looked like small donuts. She quite enjoyed the spicy wrap, and since the place is local to her, she'll be back.
Overall, I'd rate this as a good "fast food" place, particularly if you're in need of a fish & chip fix. Another "local" restaurant.
2979 King Street East (at Fairway), Kitchener. Phone #: too new
Visited: Friday, March 8, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Dennis, Michael, David, Annette, Nora, Tasmin ?
This restaurant was opened February 2002. Former restaurants on that site were Fitzgerald's and Gatsby's.
Decor is very nice (a definite upgrade from the previous restaurants). Lots of parking behind the restaurant.
Kitchen staff still need to improve their work as there were several problems. Mashed potatoes arriving instead of fries on one order, undercooked rice on 2 other orders. Some room for improvement. Portions were generous. Taste ranged from average to very good.
At this point a middle of the pack restaurant. Average cost was just over $20/adult.
30 William Street West (near Caroline), Waterloo, 576-9424
Visited: Friday, March 15, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Jasmine, James, Nora, Tasmin, Annette, Dennis
Yukiko's is located in a house (turn of the last century with high ceiling and wood work). Best for small groups (6 or fewer). Evening reservations recommended. Parking can be found in one of the lots off of Caroline (Waterloo Town Square parking being one of those lots).
Jasmine and James shared a Scallops in mango sauce appetizer. It got high points from Jasmine for presentation (in a large seashell pastry). $9 (for 3 scallops).
Nora and Annette both tried the special of the day, Jerk Chicken. Both found it to nicely hot. Good marks from both of them.
The last thing to arrive (by several minutes) was Jasmine's Stirfry with Thai sauce. She found it to be a bit sweeter than she preferred, but otherwise good. A generous portion, she took home a box for a next day meal.
I tried out one of the "inexpensive" items on the menu, a hamburger with lettuce, tomato, pickle ($5.95). By the time I added on side orders of soup ($2.95), caesar salad ($3.25), and home fries ($3.25) the meal was up to $15.40 -- *sigh* The soup of day (potato-cabbage-squash-bacon) was quite good with an interesting mix of flavours. The other soup of the day was eggplant. The caesar salad was very good. The home fries were real home fries, tasty, but not worth the extra money. The hamburger was homemade and quite enjoyable.
Overall, good food with somewhat slow service. Cost for 5 adults (before tax) was $122.
1470 Weber Street East, Kitchener, 893-1458
Visited: Wednesday, March 27, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Annette, Nora, David, Tasmin, Dennis
This a chain of 50's/60's style restaurants. They manage to capture the feel pretty well with lots of booths and counter stools.
Service was friendly (but that's partially Tasmin's fault, as she's quite good at charming restaurant staff).
They serve all day breakfasts, which is one of their strong points. They use small to medium size eggs, so a 3 egg meal can be the equivalent of a 2 egg meal elsewhere.
I had the garden salad ($3.49) which was excellent. It consisted of 6 freshly chopped vegetables with the salad dressing on the side.
The home fries were quite good (much better than the standard frozen McCain fries).
It's not high cuisine, but if you're looking for an inexpensive, filling meal, this is one of the places to go.
Sol Mar Restaurant
323 King West (near Water), Kitchener, 744-0199
Visited: Friday, April 5, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, David, Tasmin, Annette, Dennis
The restaurant has closed, but the banquet hall at Stirling and Courtland is still running.
This is a 60 seat Portuguese restaurant (complete with pool table) at the west end of downtown Kitchener. We had it all to ourselves Friday night. And had a very pleasant time.
Sol Mar is a restaurant that leans heavily towards the catering side of things. They have also have a banquet hall (at Stirling & Courtland) where they have regular eat & dance nights every Friday (at a very reasonable $10 to eat & dance).
A basket of fresh bread started us off. Side plates at that point would have been nice. But our waiter was also the chef (so he was a bit hard to flag down).
They have a reasonable selection of wines, but nothing special in the beer department ($3.42/bottle). Those of us who asked for water were given bottled water ($1.25) rather than the usual tap water. Tasmin had a small glass of milk which was on the house, and after a sudden burst of hand waving, was indeed, on the house. *sigh*
The soup of the day, which David tried, was chicken rice ($1.95). The rest of us split some Shrimp Rolls ($2.95), creamy with a delayed spice kick. And Cod Rolls ($2.95), a cod & potato mix, they were okay, but seemed bland compared to the Shrimp Rolls.
David had the Sol Mar Febras ($9.95). This was thin marinated strips of meat in wine sauce, with potatoes and vegetables. David found the vegetables overcooked and the meat a little dry.
Nora had the Fried Jumbo Shrimp ($12.95), This consisted of five large (approx 4" size) in the shell shrimp on a bed of potatoes and onions, covered with a garlic butter sauce. She was quite pleased with the result.
Dennis had the New York Sirloin ($10.95). This was a delicious medium-well done steak with a coating spices. With overdone vegetables and ordinary fries. Rating: The steak more than made up for the other short comings.
Annette had the Portuguese Steak ($10.95). This came in a clay dish. The steak was sitting in a rich wine sauce, then a layer of fries, all topped with a slice of ham and an egg. Annette was very happy with her meal. The only drawback with the clay dish was that the last few bites of steak were starting to become overcooked. Best meal of the night (and we all sampled it).
Overall the bill with tax and tip average $20/adult.
Qualified recommendation. Our meals were good value for what we got. It's not perfect, but what it does well, it does very well.
Vegetarian Fastfood Restaurant
160 University Ave West (enter from Phillip St), Waterloo, 746-0057
Visited: Friday, April 12, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Dennis, Annette, Tasmin, Nora, David
Trying to find parking at the University Plazas on a Friday night during the Universities exam period on a dark and rainy night was a bit of a challenge.
We did have to request plates, since the default assumption is that you'll eat just what you order rather than share. On the other hand, the default eating utensils were spoon, fork and chopsticks.
The springrolls were hot and tasty (and non-greasy). The cold rice wrap rolls (?) were rather bland (they needed the peanut sauce that came with them).
The seafood in black bean sauce was good. A good selection of vegetables with tasty fake seafood and a nice black bean sauce.
The squid in black bean sauce had different selection of vegetables, but I prefer real squid (the texture wasn't quite right).
The final shared dish was duck and vegetables. Real duck with fat and bones this time, and another different mixture of vegetables with an appropriate sauce.
David had a large bowl of noodle soup. That managed to fill him up.
It worked out to about $12/adult with tax and tip.
Qualified recommendation. A mix of good and average. If you're looking for vegetarian chinese/thai food it's a very reasonable choice. But if you're a non-vegetarian, there are better chinese and thai places in K-W to pick from.
In the review you probably should have explained that the vegetarian squid/seafood/chicken/etc is a soya product. When I first saw the restaurant, I thought they didn't know what was included in vegetarian (like some other restaurants that we had visited).
Nora's restaurant reference is to an un-named restaurant where the conversation went a bit like:
YPDC eater: Any vegetarian dishes?
Waitress: We've got chicken salad. Is that okay?
Vegetarian Fastfood has a menu that is very clearly divided into a vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections. And they do know what the difference is.
Timeless Wuji Cafe
160 University Ave West (off of Phillip), Waterloo, 746-1238
Visited: Tuesday, April 16, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, Dennis, (Tasmin), Annette, Ken Judge, Terri Zuccherato, Sue Sing-Judge
They don't have a false ceiling, so noise bounces off of the metal roof. Very high noise level when we arrived at 6:30pm (one could barely hear Tasmin when she screamed), but dropped off to a decent conversation level after 7pm when the crowd thinned out.
They used to have a dim sum selection of foods, but that's gone.
Food portions are generous, and if your group's eating taste range is similar, probably best to have a shared meal.
I had two of the daily specials.
Spicy salted chicken wings (5 for $4.99). They described the wings as large. In actual fact they are complete chicken wings (most restaurants chop chicken wings into three parts, throw away the end part and serve you the other two as if they were separate wings). So 5 wings at this restaurant is the same as 10 at most others.
Battered squid ($6.88). These were large size pieces (average length was around 4-6" or 10-15cm). Except for the first piece I tried (which was thick and rubbery), all were tender and nicely spiced.
Annette and Nora rated their fruit drinks ($3.49) as very good.
Nora had the Sizzling Shrimp (at $16, the most expensive item on the menu, most items were in the $5-7 range). It came with a choice of soup or salad. They were out of salad, so she ended up with this huge bowl of soup (large enough to give everyone else a small bowl of soup to eat). The shrimp were sizzling away when they arrived on a large platter. Well received by Nora.
Everyone else had leftovers to take home (or to work).
Cost for 6 adults was $82 with tax. Qualified recommendation: Good value for the money, best visited when they're not too busy.
Texas Bar-B-Q Restaurant
Waterloo Town Square, Waterloo, 886-4000
Visited: Thursday, April 25, 6:30pm.
Tasted by: Dennis, Annette, Tasmin, David
Judging by furnishings this restaurant has been here since the mall opened some 30-odd years ago. Your choice of booths or tables. A comfortable country feel to the place.
Very Tasmin friendly. She even got a small purse to take with her for being so well behaved (she was in a good mood).
I had the prime rib dinner (approx $14). It came with choice of soup or salad (lettuce, cabbage, carrot, eggplant, dressing in a package -different, but only an average taste). Followed by the main dish which had a very thick slice meat (quite nice on the outside, but the centre part was a bit dry), gravy, potatoes (choice of fries or mashed), vegetables (fresh from the freezer, but at least not overcooked like many restaurants), and a small mound of cooked peppers (mouth hot, not temperature hot). Followed by dessert (jello or rice pudding). Definitely a home cooked meal (ie: in the average range).
David had the New York sirloin dinner (approx $13.50). Same as above except the meat was different. David had his steak rare and was pleased to see that it was exactly as ordered. It wasn't mooing, but close.
Annette probably had the best deal, a quarter chicken (approx $5.50) which came with vegetables and potatoes (both as above). She followed this with a dish of ice cream (approx $2.50).
A good mall restaurant: food was okay, service was very good, prices reasonable.
Solé Restaurant & Wine Bar
83 Erb St West, Waterloo, 747-5622
Visited: Friday, May 3, 2002, 6:30pm.
Tasted by: Annette, Nora, Tasmin, David, Dennis, Michael, James, Jasmine
This restaurant is in a stone building that was built in the 1850's. It's not directly located on Erb Street, but is on (for the moment) a street coming from the Father David Bauer Drive intersection.
Reservations for the weekend are recommended (particularly if you have more than 4 people in your group).
It was a bit noisier than I like, mostly because they were busy, but partially because the metal ventilation system near the roof was doing some sound reflecting (from floor to roof is open to show off the original beams and stone work).
The food: "Very good", "Very good", no comment, "Very good", "Very good", "Very good but a bit pricy", "Very good except for average ice cream", "Very good -- a favourite make better restaurant". (Tasmin was the no comment...)
Both Michael and I went with one of the daily specials, a 12 ounce ribeye steak ($23.95). It came with a stuffed baked potato (stuffing of leek & dill). I really liked it, Michael wasn't quite as impressed (so we had Annette sample it and got a quite good from her). Accompanied by a mix of upper class vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus et al). And a nicely cooked steak with a beet relish. Very good.
One of the interesting menu items is the pizzas, prebuilt ($7.95) or build your own ($5.95 base). The build your own comes with your choice of 30 items, such as smoked salmon (3.50), shrimp (4.00), prosciutto (2.00), wild mushrooms (2.00), jalapeno peppers (0.50). Nora, Annette and David all had pizza as part of their meal.
The dessert menu is well populated with chocolate items. James had ice cream (3.95) which he rated as average, nothing special. The 2 chocolate based desserts were rated as very good. The baked mango in a pastry roll with a hint of chocolate was rated as excellent by Annette and Dennis, but only good by Nora (who's not quite as impressed by desserts in general).
Seven adults and Tasmin had a bill of $232 (before tip). An average of around $33/each.
A recommended high-end restaurant. Good food in old surroundings. Just make sure you wallet is in healthy condition.
Note 1: "et al", latin for "and others"
Note 2: "make better restaurant" was defined to me as the restaurant to go to when having a lousy week to make life better (preferably with company and a bottle of wine to share).
Note 3: Solé gives out their own brand of after meal candy. It's licorice flavoured. Unfortunately, some of our members found it to have a nasty taste after just eating a very nice dessert. You've been warned.
Paddy Flaherty's Irish Pub
77 King Street North (at Bridgeport), Waterloo, 886-1130
Visited: Wednesday, May 8, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Jonathan, Nora, (Tasmin), Annette, David, Dennis
This restauarnt is part of a small chain, which in turn is part of a family of chains. The decor has a warm, comfortable, 1890's look.
I had the soup of the day ($2.19/cup), which was a beef barley mushroom. Lots of mushrooms, some barley, from-the-tin beef, and far too much salt. It came with a biscuit on the side (far better than the soup). I followed this with a leek and salmon pie ($8.99). It came with a good salad. The pie had a nice flaky crust with a good combo of salmon and leeks on the inside. Could have used a bit less salt (but nowhere near as bad as the soup).
Jonathan had the Hellfire fries ($4.99). In terms of heat he felt they could have been called Purgatory fries, but otherwise okay. He followed this with the salmon & leek pie, which he rated as too salty.
David had the squid/calamari ($6.99), which were nice and tender. The Huntsman steak sandwich ($9.99) came with choice of soup, salad or fries. The steak was fine, cooked the way he wanted it, but the carmelized onions (as a topping) were salty. Overall, an okay rating.
Nora and Annette split a spinach salad ($6.59). The waitress was back twice concerning this (first, that it would be delayed due to an egg shortage; and second, if they still wanted it (delivered on time) with no eggs because the kitchen had run out). Their overall opinion was that they should have skipped it.
Nora followed this with a vegetable wrap ($7.29) which came with choice of salad, fries or soup. She went with the soup and regretted her choice (too salty, with the biscuit being the best part).
Annette's follow up was the Corned beef ($6.99) with potato. The corned beef was a bit chewy and salty.
David and Annette shared a Chocolate Volcano ($4.99). Ice cream, chocolate syrup, chocolate cake with chocolate pudding inside, were the primary features. Well received (with the Tasmin smile of approval).
The beer drinkers felt their beverages were fine. Even though David felt compelled to add salt to his (but that's another story).
Overall the bill for 5 adults (before tip) came to $92.
A mixed rating: Service, decor, beer are pluses, food is a minus in the salt department. I'd be willing to return, but it's not high on my list.
Note: Biscuit refers to the north american version: bun sized
Two Goblets Restaurant
85 Weber Street West (near Water), Kitchener, 749-1829
Visited: Tuesday, May 14, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, David, Tasmin, Annette, Dennis
Open for lunch Monday to Friday, and dinner Monday to Saturday.
The decor is warm and comfortable. Trying for that 1600's look.
The service was good. Our waitress was also the cook.
Food: Lots of it. Sign near the entrance -- "To heck with the diet."
I had the fish & potatoes ($12.95). This consisted of 2 pieces of battered cod (same batter as the schnitzel), a mound of potato salad, a few vegetables, a slice of orange, and a wedge of lemon. The fish was quite good, with the batter nice and crispy. I'm not a potato salad fan (Annette rated them good). So an okay meal, but if you like potato salad I'd bump the rating to very good.
Annette and David split a platter (for 2 or more people, $18 per person). A huge mound of meat (battered or as sausage), potatoes, and some vegetables. Annette took a box away to feed from the next day. Rated as good value for the money (if you're a meat eater).
Nora had schnitzel and perogees ($12.95). The perogees came with lots of cheese stuffing. Thumbs up.
Overall the bill for 4 adults (before tip) came to $82.
Mixed rating: Not for vegetarians. Go if you're in the mood for some German/Polish style food.
2890 Victoria Street North, Region of Waterloo
Visited: Wednesday, May 22, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Annette, David, Tasmin, Nora, Dennis
Summer 2002 update:
The restaurant closed 6 months after it opened. Replaced by Dave's.
Midway between Kitchener and Guelph on highway 7 there is a set of traffic lights in the middle of nowhere. You've arrived.
This restaurant opened January 2002 featuring Austrian cuisine, but specializing in steak and schnitzel.
Those of us that had soup rated them as excellent. Salads were okay (but nothing special). Several of us had the "Hunter Schnitzel". Quite tasty, but the batter was not crisp since it came with a mushroom sauce. Would have been better if the sauce had been at the side. Home fries were very good.
It was merely coincidence that this visit was made the week after our Two Goblets outing. Overall the bill for 4 adults (before tip) came to $81. This was only $1 difference from Two Goblets. So how do the two places compare:
Lai Lai Tea Time
225 King Street North, Waterloo
Visited: Wednesday, May 29, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, David, Dennis
This is a new cafe which opened at the start of May 2002.
The menu (once you remove the drinks and desserts) is very small. Sandwiches, onion pancakes, pot stickers. They also have some daily specials to round things out.
We had the pot stickers (excellent), onion pancakes (okay) and drinks (good). They also supplied us with a small mug of hot sauce (homemade), which we initially thought was somewhat bland until it got stirred up a bit. Excellent with the pot stickers.
We had a very friendly waitress (who did have problems with our Canadian accents) who pointed out that if we rearranged the order we could take advantage of their combo deal. So we ended up paying less and getting dessert as a bonus. You don't get that kind of service too often.
David had a brownie (okay). Nora had cake with strawberries on top (strawberries were not ripe, so a failing grade). I had the ice cream jello (nothing special) which came with the smallest spoon (about 6cm long) -- impressively useless (I ended up eating the dessert with a fork).
Qualified recommendation: A local cafe. The drinks are good and the pot stickers are great.
Yuen Woo Chinese Restaurant (#2)
11 Westwood Drive, Kitchener
Visited: Thursday, June 6, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, David, Tasmin, Annette
Note: This is not the main location across from HiWay Market, but one located just off of Westmount. Between Glasgow and the railway overpass.
Strip mall Chinese restaurants fall into their own category which we, with great imagination, call "Strip Mall Chinese Restaurants". Such restaurants generally serve undistinguished food aimed at a Western clientele. Not all of the Chinese restaurants located in strip malls that we have visited are tarred with the same brush -- alas, Yuen Woo is not one of these happy exceptions.
The first clue to the restaurant's intended audience is the proud proclamation on their take-out menu: "Best Chicken Balls in Kitchener-Waterloo!"
I have to digress to a guilty confession. Every couple of years I indulge in a plate of chicken balls in transmission fluid. (OK, I know it's not really transmission fluid, but short of its lack of toxic affect, it's hard to tell the difference. But I digress. Again.) It's a retreat to my childhood when I thought that Chinese food consisted of chicken balls and battered shrimp. It's as though I need to remind myself of what a clueless waif I was -- although I have friends who will happily remind me of how clueless I am given any sort of opportunity. In any case, having had chicken balls a few months ago at another strip mall place, we passed on them.
We worked through the reasonably extensive menu. After working out the difference between spring rolls, Chinese spring rolls, and house spring rolls, we started with Won Ton and Hot and Sour soups. Nothing special about the won ton, but the hot and sour soup, was without a doubt the sourest such soup any of us have ever tasted. Nora demanded that the rest of us try it (Tasmin excepted). They have a heavy hand on the vinegar in the kitchen! Furthermore, it was a strange looking soup, unlike any other that we have seen. There were large chunks of egg whites in it rather than the thread-like strands that we are used to. The soup was an experience, not a meal. Tellingly, Nora did not finish her portion.
For the main dishes we settled on Garlic Broccoli, Special Fried Rice, and Orange Chicken. The Garlic Broccoli was decently done. Yuen Woo didn't hold back on the garlic, and the vegetables were nicely crisp. The Special Rice wasn't: wasn't greasy, wasn't skimpy on ingredients, but also wasn't special. The Orange Chicken was marked with a little red pepper to indicate that it was hot and spicy - it also wasn't: wasn't hot, wasn't spicy, wasn't even orange (Oh, there were subtle hints of all these flavours, but when someone at the table has to eat six pieces before announcing, "There was some orange there!", I don't think the dish lives up to its billing.).
Yuen Woo is not a bad restaurant, it just doesn't rise about the strip mall stigma at all. Yuen Woo is probably the only restaurant near my home that I hadn't visited yet. Being off by itself on Westmount meant that I just didn't think about it when choosing a place to eat. Still, every once in a while I thought to myself that I had to try it. Well, I've got that worked out of my system.
A Taste of Sahara
3101 Kingsway Dr, Kitchener, 893-5580
Visited: Friday, June 14, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, David, Tasmin, Annette, James, Jasmine
Former Foodworks location.
The name is a bit misleading as A Taste of Sahara specializes in Lebanese food. Perhaps my general geographical knowledge is a bit better than what the owner expects, but I know that Lebanon is not located in the Sahara desert. I half expected to find sand in my meal - that would fit the name better! One wall of the restaurant was painted with a large mural of a desert scene with camels, so at least some of the decor was correct.
The menu is typical of a casual Middle Eastern eatery -- hummous, tabbouleh, shawerma, falafel, and the like. The prices are also very reasonable, with sandwiches running from just under $3.00 to $6.00, and meals up to $10.00. For those who can't make up their minds there are platters for two with a nice range of selections from the menu.
The food overall was pleasing but with few standouts. The exception was Nora's baba ganoush. The eggplant was grilled and spiced perfectly.
My falafel dish with hummous was nice, but the hummous lacked the intense garlic punch that you'll find at the Al Madina in Waterloo or the Greek Garden in Guelph. Nora's vegetarian platter was very nice (you got to choose five vegetarian items), but the baba ganoush was a standout. Generally the eggplant in baba ganoush is unexciting at best, but according to Nora, Taste of Sahara grills theirs with a very nice spicing. Surprising, but tasty. The rest of the meals were not outstanding, but quite tasty with good size portions.
A Taste of Sahara is a pleasant, tasty, well-priced restaurant. It may not be worth a long drive if Al Madina or Pogo's are closer (unless you are a baba ganoush fan), but it is certainly worth checking out if you are in the Fairview Mall area.
Zeke's Feed and Fuel Restaurant
607 King Street West, Kitchener, 744-7557
Visited: Wednesday, June 19, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Dennis, Nora, Jasmine, James, Michael, David, Tasmin, Annette
It's located in a mall next to where the main train tracks cross King Street (go right to the back end of the mall).
This is a country roadhouse style of restaurant. Food quality was variable (from not recommended to excellent).
One of Michael's dishes was "sizzling mushrooms in a wine and cream sauce". Excellent.
Annette thought the spinach in her salad could have been washed a bit more (gritty).
Nora had the ribs (meaty and falling off the bone) with a sauce that has a delayed kick to it, with a smoky undertaste, but unfortunately, too much salt. The home fries were very good.
James liked his chicken, but felt his meal came with a bit too much salt.
Jasmine and David gave their Philly sandwiches two thumbs down.
Dennis had the fish and chips ($7.50). Fish was excellent, french fries were ordinary (substituting Zeke's home fries is highly recommended, since the home fries were very good).
Total cost for 7 adults was $81 (before tax, with $8 discount coupon)
A local restaurant, one where you need to visit a few times to know which things they do well and which items to avoid. And if you do go, worth keeping your eye open for the discount coupons that appear from time to time in local publications.
Sun Shine Restaurant aka Sunshine Express Restaurant
150 University West (at Phillip), Waterloo, 747-4127
Visited: Saturday, June 29, 2002, 11:45am
Tasted by: Dennis, Tasmin, Annette
Service was quick, but they weren't too busy when we were there.
We had the Pot stickers (a bit greasy), Squid in black bean sauce (tender squid, onions, broccoli, black bean sauce on a bed of rice) and Beef noodles (thick noodles (Tasmin approved), bean spouts, beef and sauce).
Very generous quantities (we got enough to feed 4 adults). Total cost was just under $16.
If you want something filling, and good value for the money, this is one of the places to check out.
4 King Street North, Waterloo, 746-1677
Visited: Wednesday, July 3, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Tasmin, David, Annette, Nora, Jasmine, James, Michael, Dennis
Formerly called The Plantation. Lots of small tables, so best suited to smaller groups (of 3 to 4 people).
Nora, David and I tried the pizza (which caused most of the pricing confusion). During the daytime the pizza is offered for $7.99 with 2 toppings and choice of soup or salad. After 7pm it's offered as $7.95 with no extras (toppings $0.99/$1.49 extra). The pizza is a small thin crust pizza. Toppings were good (in my case strips of real bacon and fresh mushrooms. But it came with far too much tomato sauce (stewed tomatoes with odd flavouring). This meant that there was a crisp crust at the edge but nothing in the centre (the crust was so soggy it fell apart). Better value elsewhere, especially after 7pm.
Desserts were very generous in size and tasty. They were good value for the money.
Overall: A place to visit after the theatre for dessert and a drink. Otherwise, avoid.
James Nicoll (from his kw.eats posting):
I had the quiche special, which was rather tough but tasty And may have been tough because of all the mushrooms. The greens were a little bitter. Service was leisurely but not glacial. Mind you, the place was virtually deserted. Not sure the staff could handle a crowd.
Then I tried to have dessert. Went up, looked at the desserts and was the first person to order. Sometime later the waiter very apologetically tells me that they are out of what I ordered, even though when I ordered it they had half a cake of it and two people at my table who ordered after me got theirs. OK, screw ups happen.
Then we got the bill. We were charged for several items we didn't order or get and prices were higher than on the menu due to a screw up on their specials. Some of the specials were only until 7pm, we ordered at 6:45pm but didn't pay the bill until after 8, plus one of the variable price specials wasn't on the 'only until 7pm' list. After two iterations we get the correct bill.
It was still better than Mal Choix or Rude Native, mind you, but I wouldn't go back.
90 Peel Street, New Hamburg, 662-6270
Visited: Saturday, July 13, 2002, 12:30pm
Tasted by: Dennis, Annette, Tasmin, Nora
According to our waitress they've been in business since October 2001. The building they're in is at least a 100 years older. Service was somewhat laidback, as our table was not cleared of the crumbs left by previous eaters.
Annette was delighted with her choice of daily special (Samosa and salad, $4.25). Dennis and Nora had different versions of the Quiche and Salad ($5.75). Rated "very good" by both. The quiche was excellent and the salad fresh.
For dessert there was a choice of cookies, tarts and ice cream cones. Since Annette made her decision to pick this substitute restaurant (Golden Hammer Inn was closed for a family emergency) based on the number of people coming out of the cafe with ice cream cones, we all had to try it. Tasmin was very enthusiastic about this (especially with the samples from everyone). $1.75 for one scoop, $2.50 for two scoops, your choice of 8 flavours. Nothing particularly special, but it's been a hot summer...
Qualified Recommendation. A place to go for a light meal or snack if you're in the New Hamburg area.
220 King Street North, Waterloo, 884-4953
Visited: Wednesday, July 17, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, David, Tasmin, Annette, Dennis
At one time they had a bakery, but that's been overrun by the cafe part of the business. The place has two levels, and is well decorated with artwork and foliage. Reservations are recommended (especially if you have more than 4 in your group). The maximum size they will reserve is for a party of 10 (It's not a very big place).
Both Nora and Annette went for one of the daily specials. Sea bass on a bed of spiced rice and vegetables ($18.95). "Superb" --Nora, "Excellent" --Annette. Very flavourful and cooked to perfection.
Dennis had the steak sandwich ($9.95). A 6 ounce steak split in half and positioned on two slabs of bread, topped with onions and mushrooms and smothered in melted cheese. With dill pickle, lettuce and pea vines (the edible kind) providing the vegetable content. Very tasty and very filling.
David had a wrap. His only complain was that all the ingredients were evenly distributed EXCEPT for a clump of carrots (not one of his favourite vegetables). "Pretty good."
There was also a nice selection of desserts (everyone was too stuffed to try any with their meal, but Annette did take some chocolate cake home for later).
Recommended. Although they did have a sign out front mentioning that they were looking to hire a chef, hopefully that will have no impact on their fine food.
220 King Street North, Waterloo, 747-1078
Visited: Wednesday, July 24, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, David, Annette, Tasmin, Jasmine
Located in a small strip mall (the mall runs from King to Regina). The restaurant specializes in Korean & Japanese cuisine.
I had the Shanghai Noodle dish. Noodles were okay, but it was topped with a mystery sauce (with unidentifiable chunks of stuff) which overpowered the dish.
Overall the restaurant is okay, but you can get better elsewhere in K-W.
Hmm... my review -- simply adequate... I liked their seaweed crisps, but not enough to make me switch my allegiance (from Seoul Soul).
Pho Thai Viet Restaurant
17 Erb East (at Regina), Waterloo, 886-8989
Visited: Wednesday, July 31, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Seonaid, Aden, Nora, Tasmin, Annette, Dennis
This restaurant replaces the Pho Mai (YPDC visit: May/2001), which replaced Restaurant Amadeus, which replaced the Horseshoe.
Nora and Annette had one of the hotter Thai dishes. "Very Good. My whole mouth is vibrating." --Nora "Really good... very hot... hot enough" --Annette
Seonaid shared a curry dish (Vietnamese style) with her son. Points to our server for asking how many bowls (as in eating bowls) she needed. "Subtle flavour, a bit too subtle." -Seonaid
I had a pork chop with rice and vegetables ($5.50). The pork chop was thinly sliced and nicely spiced. I enjoyed it, but some of you might find it a bit too well done. Accompanied with several fresh vegetables, a nice dipping sauce and a huge scoop of rice.
Portions were generous, 3 of us took extras home. Total cost (before tip) for 4 adults and 2 kids was $45. Good value for the money.
Old Country Restaurant
Peel Street, New Hamburg (no phone number listed)
Visited: Saturday, August 10, 2002, 12:30pm
Tasted by: David, Tasmin, Nora, Annette, Dennis
Located on the main downtown street of New Hamburg (across the street from the MeMe Cafe.
Service was good and Tasmin did her best to charm our waitress.
David had the soup of the day (bean), a Monte Cristo sandwich, and a milkshake. Soup was nice and thick, sandwich was okay, and he's had better milkshakes elsewhere.
Tasmin had a hot dog plate. Which was actually a child-sized hot dog and fries (Annette was pleased, apparently some restaurants have no grasp of what a children's sized meal should be).
Nora had a salad ("excellent") and a toasted western ("okay, but not as good as Jimmy's Lunch").
Annette had the pork chop dinner ($9.95) which came with salad, vegetables (non-soggy beans), potato (mashed or fries), apple sauce and 2 pork chops. Overall, pretty good. And a milkshake (had better elsewhere).
Dennis had the hot roast beef sandwich special ($7.50). It came with salad (an impressive mix of greens), potato (fries were quite good), vegetables (string beans that had not been overcooked) and roast beef between 2 slices of bread and covered with gravy.
For 4 adults and one child the bill came to $52 (excluding tip).
Overall, a very good Canadian-style restaurant. Worth visiting if you're in New Hamburg and in the mood for that style of food.
Villa Nina International Bistro
120 Ottawa Street North (Eastwood Plaza), Kitchener (570-3107)
Visited: Friday, September 6, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Jasmine, Nora, Annette
Dinner went well. The evening ended up being a girls night out. Dennis, David and Tasmin bowed out at the very last minute for various reasons.
We had a very difficult time deciding what to order. The menu had many interesting dishes. Nora even contemplated ordering one of the 4 pasta dishes, until we heard the Specials (Venison in cassis sauce, lamb in a raspberry chipole glaze, grilled tuna in a Mediterranean sauce, filet mignon with spinach and goat cheese, linguini with mussels and scallops).
The food was excellent.
For appetizers (split three ways) we had: Caesar Salad (around $9); Grilled Calamari with Island spices on a bed of mixed greens (around $10); and Sizzling Jumbo Shrimp with mixed veggies (around $13). We agreed that the Caesar salad was okay, but Rushes still has the best Caesar salad in town. The Caesar salad was lacking in garlic (maybe anchovies too). Their specialty butter that was served with the bread had way more garlic. Jasmine really liked the grilled calamari best, followed by the sizzling shrimp. Nora and I were torn between the calamari and the shrimp dish. Each had their own unique flavours and were very tasty.
For the main course (selected from their list of Specials), Nora had the Lamb in a raspberry chipotle sauce (around $37), Jasmine had the Venison in a Cassis sauce (around $39), and Annette had the Filet Mignon with spinach and goat cheese (around $36). We sampled each other's main courses and rated them all excellent. I think the lamb dish was the best of the three choices.
For dessert we shared the tiramisu (around $7). We do not recommend the tiramisu. It was okay.
Total bill for three including tax and tip (no wine) was $200.
The service was excellent. Our waiter placed our napkins in our lap when we were seated. He regularly refilled our water glasses without us asking. He helped us with our chairs when we were getting up to leave. He also held the door open for us when we were leaving. We definitely did not feel rushed during our meal. We didn't leave until 10:00pm!
Dave's Home Style Diner
2890 Victoria Street North, Region of Waterloo
Visited: Friday, October 4, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: David, Tasmin, Nora, Annette, Dennis
Dec/2002 update: It's now called John's Home Style Dining.
Former location of Timothy Rupert's (visited May 22/2002) Take Victoria Street and head towards Guelph, go past Breslau. Midway between Kitchener and Guelph there is a set of traffic lights in the middle of nowhere. You've arrived.
The owner's personal preference may be fish, but the outstanding meal was Nora's liver dinner. She had the light liver dinner ($6.49) (Many of the meals have light and regular menu choices). It came with roll, tender liver covered with bacon, onions and a mushroom gravy, accompanied by a some very nicely spiced home fries and salad. Janet Lynn and Fastbreaks remain her favourite liver places, but this meal was a "very good" contender, especially at this inexpensive price.
David and Dennis split the special of the day. It was a fish and chip platter (2 cod, 1 halibut, 1 sole, 3 shrimp, salad, rolls and fries for $20.99). Each of the fish types had a different style of batter. The fish was very good (cod and sole being the best). The fries were okay. We recommend asking for the home fries instead.
Tasmin enjoyed her order of chicken fingers (shared with her parents).
Annette had a "good" BLT sandwich "made just the way I asked it to be done" (making this a better restaurant than most). She was the only person with room for dessert. The banana cream pie came with whip cream and cherries on the side. Tasmin immediately grabbed her spoon and leaned forward the moment this dish appeared at the table (her mother was generous enough to share). Rated: "Really good."
Cost for 4 adults and 1 child was $48 before tip.
This is a good road side diner. Just be sure to get the home fries if you're ordering potatoes.
Pho Que Huong Home Country Restaurant
75 Willow Street, Guelph (519-766-9988)
Visited: Friday, October 11, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Michael, Michael's dad, David, Tasmin, Annette, Nora, Dennis
The springrolls got a mixed response. "Average" -Annette, "Nice taste, above average" - David, "Pretty good." -dennis
The shrimp rolls interestingly enough, came with one shrimp (no surprise) and some beef (not mentioned on the menu) all nicely wrapped up. Better than average ratings from Nora and Dennis.
Nora had the seafood egg noodle soup. The broth was "good" but the seafood was rather "bland".
The shredded pork rolls got a "not recommended" from Michael. Michael was much happier with his chicken and hot pepper dish. "Nicely spiced."
Annette tried the shrimp and hot pepper dish. The sauce was good, but she wished the shrimp had been peeled first (because the sauce came off with shell). Otherwise okay. She also had the wonton soup which she considered "average".
Dennis had chicken & pork on noodles which also included a springroll, bean sprouts, peanut sauce, and 3 small slabs of pink meat (spam-like). Quite good except for the pink slabs (which no one was willing to try).
The bill before tip was $71 for 6 adults and 1 child.
For those that live in Guelph, a suitable destination when you're in the mood for Vietnamese cuisine. But for those of us in Kitchener-Waterloo, it's not worth the trip, since we have as good, or better, local Vietnamese restaurants.
17 Huron Street, New Hamburg, 662-2020
Visited: Saturday, October 19, 2002, 12:30pm
Tasted by: Dennis, Michael, Nora, Jasmine, James, Annette, Tasmin, David.
It's in a converted mansion originally built in the mid-1800's and backing on to the Nith River park lands. Reservations are recommended for dinner dining.
The service was good, but I'd recommend checking the bill for errors.
The cuisine is French inspired. They have several daily specials plus a regular menu (viewable on-line at www.waterlot.com). With the exception of David's French Onion Soup which was rated as "nothing special", everything else got "very good" to "excellent". Nora's liver dinner was rated as one of the best she's had.
Dessert Warning: They have a dessert trolley. Everyone ended up trying the chocolate cake covered in pecans (with an optional caramel sauce). Very good. And at $3.95 very reasonably priced. "Turtle on a plate" was Annette's description of the cake.
Cost of lunch for 7 adults and 1 child was $145 before tip. If we'd gone for dinner it would probably have been over $200. $20/person versus $30+/person
Recommended. Especially for lunch when you can have a good view of the Nith River (or go walking in the park).
New Chinese Delight
2480 Homer Watson Blvd, Kitchener
Visited: Friday, October 25, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: David, Tasmin, Annette, Nora, Richard, Dennis
This a "knife and fork" Canadian-Chinese restaurant. Chopsticks are available, but you have to ask for them. It's one in a chain of two. This one's located in a small plaza near Conestoga College and the 401.
Depending where you're sitting the purple neon lights can give the food an interesting colour shift. Comes complete with a couple of game machines (Annette couldn't resist playing one of her old favourites after the meal). And 3 kid friendly TV's.
Service was good, and the food appeared quickly (a bit too quickly for our soup eaters). On the other hand, this quick service was probably because it was only modestly busy.
They had some imported beers to choose from (so Nora and David were happy). They also appear to have a well stocked bar.
The food was amazingly flavourful (admittedly our expectations were a bit on the low side). With the exception of the rice dish, the food was all noticeably spiced or flavoured, rather than being on the bland side like many "knife and fork" restaurants.
The springrolls were nicely stuffed. A small bowl (serves 3-4 people) of hot and sour soup was tried by Nora, Richard and David. Only mildly hot and mildly sour, but overall, a very nice soup (just not hot & sour).
The Garlic Brocolli ($7.25) had lots of both.
The General Tao Chicken ($9.25) was short on chicken, long on batter. But the batter had such a nice kick, we forgave the chicken shortage.
The Squid with mixed Vegetables ($7.95) had a generous selection of vegetables, but the squid was mixed with both tender and chewy pieces.
Chicken with Black Bean Sauce ($9.25) came with vegetables (and obviously had stolen General Tao's missing chicken). Nice.
The final dish was the Shrimp Fried Rice Chinese Style ($7.95). It came with a generous amount of "visible shrimp" on top. I used the rice to put out some of the hotter spots in my mouth. * Definition: "Visible shrimp" -can be seen with the naked eye. In this case about 3-5cm (1"-2") in length.
The cost was $14/person with tax and tip ($5 more for our beer drinkers).
Overall a surprisingly good "local" Canadian-Chinese restaurant. If you're in the southwest area of Kitchener or are driving by on the 401, it's a good place to try out.
Supplemental warning comments:
We suspect (despite posted signs) that they use MSG in their cooking. Nora turned quite red during dinner. Later at home, Annette had her usual belly rumblings from eating food with MSG. She wasn't sick, just uncomfortable belly grumbles. Dennis also had what were probably MSG rumbles as well.
If a restaurant posts a no-MSG sign, they should make the effort to make sure that not only do they not add MSG, but that all the prepared ingredients they buy for use do not contain it.
The Walper Pub
1 King West, Kitchener, 570-5503
Visited: Wednesday, October 30, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: David, Annette, Tasmin, Nora, Richard
Located in the basement at the Walper Hotel (www.walper.com).
I was unable to attend, but reports are favourable. The sizzling shrimp was excellent (Nora). The jerk calamari was very good, but Annette regrets eating it before the poutine (because it was hard to tell what the poutine really tasted like). David found his Phily sandwich to be well made, but ordinary compared to some of the other dishes. Richard had the raspberry bash for dessert (and judging by reports of how fast it disappeared, really liked it).
323 King West, Kitchener, (too new for a phone # listing)
Visited: Wednesday, November 27, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Nora, Annette, Tasmin, David, Dennis
This restaurant opened November 2002. It is in the old Sol Mar location (across from the K-W Bookstore). The decor has not changed much from when it was the Sol Mar.
Service was good (but they weren't very busy). A pot of tea and cups arrived without asking. And although each table comes equipped with spoons and chopsticks, we were given knives and forks unrequested. I'd have preferred if they'd asked if we needed additional utensils since everyone on this visit can use chopsticks -- but I know Michael would have been delighted. Requests for a bowl and plate for Tasmin were promptly filled.
We all shared the Crispy Squid & Shrimp platter (#104, $15.00). This was the only disappointment. It was an okay dish, but not good value for the money. The squid was tender, the batter crisp, but in need of spicing. The shrimp was a bit better.
The springrolls (#92, $4.50 for 3) got "very good" and "quite good" ratings. They were a decent size and well stuffed.
Dennis had the Grilled Chicken on Vermicelli (#67, $6.00). This bowl also contained bean sprouts, sliced vegetables and peanuts with a side bowl of soup. Very filling and tasty.
David had the Duck and Bamboo Sprout Soup (#80, $6.75). He found the bamboo to be tender, but the duck was a bit bland.
Annette tried the Duck Congee (#89, $6.00). It was a bit greasy but "quite nice". She liked the fact that it didn't depend on added ginger for all the flavouring (as congee at some other restaurants does).
Nora went with the Grilled Shrimp, Pork and Springroll on Vermicelli (#92, $7.50). It also included bean sprouts, sliced vegetables and peanuts. She found the pork to be "excellent" with some nice spicing. She was very pleased with her selection.
For 4 adults the cost before tip was $52 (approx $13/each).
Annette felt Pho 95 was the best Vietnamese place the club has visited. I wouldn't go that far, but it's certainly a top ranker. Since they are new it'll remain to be seen if they can stay on top. Unless you have a peanut allergy, Pho 95 is certainly worth a visit if you're in that section of downtown Kitchener.
38 King Street South, Waterloo, 884-2224
Visited: Saturday, November 30, 2002, 11:30am and 12:30pm
Tasted by: Annette, Tasmin, David (morning shift)
Tasted by: Nora, Dennis (afternoon shift)
This is a daytime establishment in the heart of downtown Waterloo (not to be confused with the Alpine Cafe at 501 Krug in Kitchener). It's a small cafe serving simple meals and snacks. Service was friendly and prompt. Due to a timing mix up we ate in two separate shifts.
Soup of the day was homemade chicken soup. We all opted for the soup and sandwich deal ($5.10). A bowl of delicious soup and a sandwich of our choice. Nora was pleased with her crab salad sandwich (which either had real crab in it or a really good fake). I had the roast beef. Fresh. It included some crunchy bread & butter pickles (I usually don't like the pickles most restaurants serve, but these were great).
A modest meal for a modest price. A good "local" cafe.
Adam's Conestogo Steakhouse
1883 Sawmill Road, Conestogo, 664-2051
Visited: Friday, December 6, 2002, 6:30pm
Tasted by: Michael, Dennis, Nora, Annette, Tasmin, David
General comments: Most restaurants the group has visited over the years tend to become blurred memories. I don't think this visit will be forgotten, it's just too distinct. For starters, you won't find them in the Yellow Pages, they're in the white pages (St Jacob's section).
This restaurant is located on the main street of Conestogo at the back of an old 1800's inn. On the opposite side of the street near the more visible Black Forest Inn. The entrance is not the door under the sign, you walk along the left side of the inn to the door at the back. The eating area is a large hall built on the back end of the inn. The hall has the feel of something built in the 1950's (a wood floor like the old HiWay Market had).
Reservations are recommended. Not because they're busy, but to see if they're open. The couple that run/own the place have now reached the retirement zone (and if they have no reservations for a night they may close up and take the night off). Open most Friday's, Saturday's and Sunday's. They will do catering any night for groups of 50 or more (ideal for Christmas parties and special events).
Service was very relaxed at times (especially when both were busy cooking). We seated ourselves, the table we'd reserved was pretty obvious. Out of 15 unoccupied tables only one had a tablecloth and settings. The place was not busy, there was only one other group in the place (obvious regulars, since someone at that table wandered off to another room and switched the music from German bands to dance music while we were there). A good floor for dancing.
They were Tasmin friendly, but you'll have to bring any necessary baby/kid seat.
Food was fairly simple. No menus. Our choice of schnitzel or steak. No price quoted. I suspect the choice does vary depending on what they've been catering.
Four of us went with steak, David sacrificed and selected the schnitzel. The meal came with our choice of fruit juice, bread, bowl of salad (a nice mix of greens; the table was supplied 3 dressings that could be added to the salad). This was followed by the main plate which had mixed vegetables (string beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), potatoes (baked and mashed -- we got both, I suspect because we were the last diners for the evening), and meat (David got 2 slabs of schnitzel) and everyone else got massive T-bone steaks. Only Michael (who hadn't eaten lunch) came even close to finishing the meal. Three of us took home extras. This was followed by the offer of dessert (apple strudel) which most of us declined, having reached expansion limits. The food was very good, quite tasty.
So how much did this massive feast cost?
$12 for the schnitzel dinner, $14 for the steak dinner. I suspect that these are not fixed prices, but they figure them out based on a catering point of view.
Overall: Excellent value for the money. Recommended if you're a hungry carnivore (do make reservations) or you're looking for a place to cater a party.
219 Louisa Street (near Margaret), Kitchener, 743-0322
Visited: Saturday, December 27, 2002, 11:30am.
Tasted by: Dennis, Jasmine, David, Annette, Tasmin, Nora
This is an old style breakfast and lunch place. The current owners have been running the place for the past 4 or 5 years. And according to Jasmine the place hasn't changed much in the last 10 years (including the prices).
Service is relaxed, more like eating in someone's kitchen (admittedly someone with a very large family). Fairly busy before noon, then it got a bit quieter.
The menu's are posted on the walls. Mostly breakfast items with a few lunch choices. And inexpensive. Coffee with refill is 93 cents ($1 with tax).
Quantities were generous and everyone was satisfied with their meals. Nora was of the opinion that the hash browns were good, but the Checkerboard was better.
I had the peameal breakfast ($3.50) which came with peameal bacon, 2 eggs and toast. I added hash browned potatoes for an extra 75 cents. I was unable to finish.
A good local breakfast place.