Yellow Pages Dinner Club

The "A" Page

Last updated: 2000.8.31


Algarv Restaurant
11-248 Stirling Street South, Kitchener.
Visited: Thursday, January 8, 1998

Oct/98 Update: This restaurant has been turned into a Sports Bar.
The reviews given here are for the Algarv that was. Pity.

Annette:
The waitress was not very worldly. She didn't know what was on draft, or what the specials were, if any. She was good at bringing more water and bread. The cook/owner did come out and talk to us (i.e. explaining what some of the dishes were). He was very friendly and polite.
The service was a bit slow in getting our food (11 orders) to our table. If you ignore this small problem, it was pretty good. The waitress checked up on us regularly, brought more rolls, etc. the cook came over and asked us how we were doing.
When we arrived at the restaurant, the table was set with dishes of black olives, garlicky/vinaigrette carrots and dinner rolls. I had a tough time choosing a dish. There were a lot of shellfish, fish dishes as well as a few beef and pork dishes. There was also a chicken dish. I ordered the grilled salmon. It came with assorted veggies (peas, beans, baby onion, and carrots), small salad consisting of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers in a vinaigrette dressing, roasted cubed potatoes and rice. Everything tasted very good and was nicely spiced. The grilled salmon was very delicious -- tender and moist and there were visible chunks of garlic on the salmon. For dessert I had the ice cream almond roll. This was very delicious. The centre of the roll contained a mocha, chocolate, almond ice cream surround by an almond covered chocolate roll. As a garnish, the chef surrounded the roll with slices of honey dew melon. Mmmmm, mmmmm, good.
Overall: I would definitely return to this restaurant. For the quantity of food that we got, it was reasonably priced.

Ian Bell: I enjoyed the veal scaloppine, which was very tender, and deliciously seasoned in a port wine sauce with garlic. Vegetables were perhaps slightly overcooked, but tasty. The bread provided with the meal was dry. The creme caramel dessert was very sweet, heavy on the rum & caramel sauce. It was good, but I found the cantaloupe garnish out-of-place.

Denise Tom: Overall I give it 8 tongues out of 10.
Service was polite, but waitress needs to be informed about what her restaurant serves! Good service otherwise. Cook came out to ensure guests are happy. This is good.
Food was nicely prepared, sumptuous appearance. Each dish is distinctly but subtly presented differently. Seafood dishes are light, without any heavy or oily sauces. Freshly prepared. But you have to wait for it so be ready for the delay. I understand the meat dishes were similarly prepared with the same care and tenderness. Nothing heavy.

Nora: Spanish Mussels (entree $11.75) Very good fresh mussels steamed in a chunky tomato, onion, and cabbage sauce spiced just enough to keep your lips tingling accompanied with a continuously replenished bread basket filled with crusty rolls. Unadventurous selection of beers. Decor: simple, classy. Service: must have been her first night.

Dennis: I had the sole. This meal consisted of 3 or 4 pieces of lightly breaded sole. The fish was mildly flavoured and quite delicious. I liked the well rounded selection of items that came with this meal. The fish was accompanied by tasty potatoes (cubed & lightly browned), fresh vegetables (a medley of peas, carrots, cut beans and pearl onions), a lightly seasoned salad, some rice (average) and a slice of lemon. I consider it to have been one of the more enjoyable meals I've had.
Definitely one of my recommended restaurants (with a garlic warning).


Al Cheapolini's Bar and Grill
123 Pioneer Drive, Kitchener. 748-2404
Plaza at Pioneer Drive and Homer Watson
Visited: Wednesday, January 14, 1998

Nora: Mussels Medley (appetizer special $3.75 ... note that specials are not on the regular menu). Fresh mussels steamed (no sauce or juices) accompanied by overcooked carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. No hint of spice.
Escargot (appetizer $3.75). Unexceptional escargot with cheese. Cook obviously does not have any spices in the kitchen.
Garlic loaf with cheese (appetizer). Nine good size pieces. Very well done.
Decor: interesting, good space layout.
Service: very good.

Annette:
The wait staff was pretty entertaining and very friendly and helpful. They had a lot of spunk. I think they were a little surprised by the number of people arriving at one time.
The service was pretty good. Drinks arrived rather quickly as did the food. I ordered two appetizers and forgot to mention that one of my dishes was the main course. Needless to say, I had a bit of difficulty eating two things at the same time (i.e. while they were still hot).
I had a tough time deciding what to order. Eventually, I settled for the soup of the day (Beef Dumpling soup) and an appetizer dish (Potatolini). As a group (7 people), we split an order of garlic bread with cheese. My God, the garlic bread pieces were huge! Each piece was about 6" in length and there were 8 pieces! Very yummy. The soup of the day came in a giant coffee mug filled with large chunks of beef, veggies and dumplings. Now that was a chunky soup! Shortly after the soup arrived, my potatolinis arrived. Potatolinis are potato pancakes smothered in salsa sauce and cheese on a bed of lettuce. There were about 8 to 12 pieces (I don't remember). Each pancake was about 3" and deep fried. It came with salsa dipping sauce and an other sauce that looked like dijonaise. Whatever it was, it was very delicious. After having a slice of garlic bread with cheese, a bowl of soup and 2 potato pancakes, I was stuffed.
Overall: The food I had was very good. I would definitely return to this restaurant to try out the other appetizers on the menu. The cost of my meal was around 10.00 + tax + tip and splitting the cost of the garlic bread.


Ali Baba Steak House
130 King Street, Waterloo. 886-2550
Visited: Friday, January 23, 1998

For those who were wondering what the dress code is ... "No baseball caps worn backwards. We are a fine dining establishment. Jeans and sweatshirts are OK but you may stand out from the rest of the patrons."

Dennis: A place to go for a dining experience. The lights were kept low so you could see their flaming menu items (mostly desserts). Service was friendly.
I had a steak and was disappointed. The only item with my meal that really impressed me was the baked potato (absolutely perfect). Judging by other reactions around the table, this is the place to go for non-steak items.
Expect major damage to your wallet. Average cost (including tax and tip) for our group of 10 was $33 each (ranging from a low of $20 to a high of $55).

Fred:

[on a musical note to the tune of "Prima Donna"
from "the Phantom of the Opera"]

Ali Baba the classy, ritzy place
The light was right all through the night to delight you
To take a date there would be the best choice
Think of how he/she would adore you.

Ali Baba its food is five star class
The lamb was good; I which I could have had more
It was prepared well with a fine mint sauce
Praises Ali Baba one more!

Ali Baba the pricey, pricey place
The wines were dry; my pleasure high and I thank you
The presentation was so brilliant
Do I regret the cost? I do not.

Ali Baba with its very witty staff
They were a laugh; good at their craft to please you
The experience was so very fine
I was very glad to be there.

Annette: Ali Baba is a fine dining restaurant with ambiance. If you want to impress people, this is the place to go. Presentation is a key feature of this restaurant. They pride themselves on certain dishes (e.g., Caesar salad, Crepes Charmaine, etc.) and drinks (specialty flaming coffees) being prepared at your table.
The evening began with "Hi, I'm your waiter and this is your plant. May I bring something to drink?". With a line like that, we knew we were in for an entertaining evening.
The wait staff (Peter, our waiter, Charmaine, the General Manager) were excellent. They were friendly and very entertaining. They had a great sense of humour. These two were very good at dealing with several incidences that occurred during evening... They knew how to turn a potentially bad/embarrassing situation into a comedy. I give everyone at the Ali Baba a five start rating on service.
I started with the Grilled Calamari ($6.95), which was delicately marinated in a special combination of herbs and spices served with a Tequila lime sauce. If you are a squid lover, this was very delicious. Four skewers of whole calamari were creatively arranged around half a lemon with a dollop of Tequila lime sauce nearby. The plate was carefully garnished with strawberries and herbs. It's very difficult to describe the presentation of this dish. It was obvious that a lot of care and experience went into the presentation.
To cleanse our palates before the main course arrived, they served us a small dish lemon/lime sorbet.
My main course was the Rack of Lamb ($21.95). It was a full rack of New Zealand lamb roasted to order (mine was cooked medium-well) and finished with a port cherry and rosemary demi glace, served with vegetables (steamed broccoli and cauliflower) and choice of potatoes (baked, home fries, or chef's special herbed potatoes) or rice. I had the chef's special potatoes. Again, the food was creatively arranged on the plate. The taste was phenomenal. I find lamb to have a strong flavour at most restaurants. I did not have this experience this time. Just writing this review is making my mouth water.
For dessert, I ordered a Saturday Night Sundae with chocolate sauce (and two spoons). Now, here is one instance where Peter, the waiter, had some fun. He brought my sundae with one spoon. David Brown requested a second spoon. Peter brought him a very tiny spoon (I think it was a sugar spoon). Everyone killed themselves laughing at the site of the spoon's proportions in comparison to the dessert. Eventually, Peter gave him a sundae spoon so that he could enjoy the dessert.
Rating: It is definitely a classy and expensive restaurant. But it was definitely worth the money. Peter, definitely is the best waiter I have encountered. If you're a meat eater, this is the place to go. There isn't much available for vegetarians.


Alen's Place Restaurant
347 Lancaster Street West, Kitchener.
Visited: Thursday, January 29, 1998, 7:30pm

June/2000 update: Alan's Place has closed and been replaced by Cafe Star.

Jan/2000 update: They now bill themselves as schnitzel specialists. There's only one or two menu holdovers from our first visit. They now have their liquor licence. Downgrade my recommendation to "A nice place for food in the under $10 category." -dennis

Fred:

       Ode to Allen's Place

We arrived there a mixed group of seven
At a time four hours before eleven.
The place seemed quite small; a mere hole in the wall
But oh what a surprise inside it.

Now Allen's itself is a place quite new,
No licence as yet to offer a brew.
Though the place was quiet, the puns were a riot;
'No one minded it even a bit.

Be very hungry! I say do take care!
The portions are HUGE and varied the fare.
It is a big feat to finish what you eat.
(You can take it home once you have quit).

Remember this place. Remember it well.
There is more, so much more than I can tell.
The focus is meat; it is still quite a treat,
But I trust you will check it yourself.

Dennis: We were the only customers that evening. It's been reliably reported that they are usually busy at lunch time.
I had soup (pieces of beef in a mix of vegetables, with what looked like pieces of an egg omelette). Quite tasty. For the main course, since I wasn't too hungry, I ordered what I thought would be one of their smaller items. I picked their beef lunch special. This consisted of slices of beef in gravy, surrounded by chopped carrots, chopped purple cabbage, home fried potatoes, rice, cooked mixed vegetables, decorated with some radishes & olives. I'm pretty sure I've forgotten something. A very crowded dish, which I was unable to empty. With the exception of the cooked vegetables (overdone), everything was quite tasty. $11 for the meal, including tax & tip. Very good value for the money.
This restaurant's on my recommended list, with warnings about quantity and the fact that the cooking is eastern European in style.

Annette: This restaurant was not what I was expecting. On the outside, it looked like an small Mom and Pop greasy-spoon type place. To my amazement, it wasn't.
The menu is quite extensive and eclectic. There were dishes that sounded Greek, French, Chinese, Polish, etc. The dishes were categorized as cold appetizers, hot appetizers, fast food, etc., beverages, and dessert. Although there were many items on the menu, they did not have everything available (represented by the fact that there weren't any prices next to the item). That's okay. As it was there were too many choices.
It looks like a mother and son business. We were the only guests (eight people) in this restaurant. I definitely think we tested their electrical system. Part way through the dinner preparations, the son (cook/waiter) came out to flick the breaker switch several times because he kept losing electricity to the kitchen. Nothing like cooking in the dark! The service was adequate. They were friendly but the need a little more practice with the English language.
For an appetizer I ordered the Breaded Cheese ($4.95). Thinking that this would be similar to breaded cheese sticks available at every other restaurant in town, we had two orders. Boy were we surprised when the dishes arrived. Each order contained two blocks of breaded cheese, shredded red cabbage, lettuce and coleslaw and four maraschino cherries on a skewer as a garnish. Some people thought the cheese was mozzarella, but we're not too sure. It was a white cheese though. This was the best breaded cheese I ever had. We definitely got our money's worth of breaded cheese.
My main course was the Alen Place Secret ($12.95). This consisted of an assortment of grilled meats with vegetables, rice and potatoes. When my meal arrived, it consisted of: three small rolls of seasoned ground meat, one Polish sauce link, two pieces of pork cutlet (one piece might have been a piece of chicken -- hard to tell, both were pounded flat), one piece of beef cutlet, one piece of meaty bacon, one large plain omelette, shredded carrots and lettuce, coleslaw, roasted salted potatoes, and rice with a corn-salsa mixture. The garnish was a skewer of two black olives with a radish rosette. Let me tell you, the plate was loaded. I managed to eat half of it. No dessert this time.
Rating: Excellent food. It appears that everything is freshly made (at one point, we could hear the cook pounding meat in the kitchen). This restaurant is definitely a diamond in the rough. It's small and cozy. I would definitely visit this place again to try the other dishes. WARNING!!! Starve yourself before you go. You definitely get your money worth given the amount of food you get.


Almadina Egyptian Cuisine
150 University Avenue West, Waterloo. 888-9697
Visited: Friday, February 6, 1998

Fred:

[From the pages of The trenchcoat with no name. By some struggling writer with little or no talent desperately seeking a publisher]

Chapter 5: Not so late Night at Almedinas
It had been a long rough day at the office and I had decided to make the rendezvous at the Almedina that night. I leaned against a brick pillar by the entrance way awaiting the crew to arrive. The assignment was simple: we were to infiltrate the establishment and uncover the culinary secrets they held.
The location was sequestered in the University Shops mall II, in the back nestled between a new computer bookstore and a student eatery. The activity in the cafe across the lot was lively. The existence of the place, and in effect mine was hidden. It was dark, and as I waited in the shadows I allowed myself a moment of freedom to enjoy the crisp coolness of the evening before the rest arrived.
I closed my eyes, allowing my thoughts wander. I dreamed of gravitating to HMV to rid myself of my pocket wealth. This hadn't happened before; I hoped this wasn't an omen. I pulled back from the image and thought of the assignment. It was just another assignment.
The waiting ended soon enough as the first face arrived. All doubts of a scrubbed mission faded then. We both slid in through the narrow passage and I had some reservations, call it a seasoned gumshoe's gut instinct, that our progress was being monitored. It was a Middle-Easterner crowd and our presence was not inconspicuous. Gathering strength from my resolve I pressed on, meeting the gazes unfazed.
We were not alone. Two others in the crew had successfully penetrated into the core of the restaurant without incident. Our team was greater in number and we wondered their fate, however so far the mission had been successful.
After the customary code word greetings, we awaited our server. It took a bit -- perhaps to check out our profiles first. We ordered beverages initially (2 waters, a herb tea, and an indian tea). The menus provided were not heavy on selection, but the choices ample. The question was how best to test the food options as efficiently as possible?
The answer became soon evident: There were platter options for sharing amongst 2 people. One of them had meats and the other had veggie options. We decided to share one of each type so we would all get a chance to try a bit of everything. It was perfect.
Dave, the seasoned veteran of this type of review organization, took the opportunity to call on one of the other wayward members. It was cool, he had not been discovered or intercepted, he had just been pulled away on another assignment. The potential threat of our cover being blown was gone.
The platters arrived with pitas to fill. We worked diligently trying the various bits and comparing notes. The food was ok. My personal assessment was that it was not exciting. Some of it (the potatoes) were a bit too salty.
I understood now why the veterans picked water as their beverage of choice here. I was no rookie to sampling but I was new to the group; I guess I missed that briefing.
A bit of conversation opened up. I took the moment to distance myself to scope the room. I had seen this type of theme in many simple cafe's. It was not unlike William's or Cafe Bon Choix for decor. It was not the Ritz, but would you find the Ritz in student town?
After some time the evening concluded and we slipped out without incident. I'll bet the staff didn't suspect our motives for the rendezvous. Then again, we've done this type of job before and I reminded myself it was just another assignment.
Would I return to Almedina? Perhaps if a group I was with decided to go. Would I look for it, or make a special trip? I think not.


Angel's Diner
370 Highland West (Food Basics plaza), Kitchener, 581-1158.
Visited: Wednesday, April 12, 2000, 7pm.
Tasted by: Nora, David, Annette, Gina, Bryan, Kathryn, Jonathan, Dennis.

Dennis:
This is a restaurant imitating the style of a 1960's diner. Everything is bright and clean. When they're busy it can be fairly noisy.
Good points: The restaurant handled Kathryn's food allergy list quite well. Nora thought her liver was very good. Dennis enjoyed his caesar salad.
Bad points: A menu put together by someone who wanted to see how much colour they could use and how many bad pun names could be used for menu items.
Otherwise: Bryan had their regular 16oz t-bone special which came with salad and your choice of potato ($13.95). He found the steak to be a bit too thinly cut for his liking. He had no difficulty thinking of other places he'd rather have steak.
Overall: Average food for average prices. Nothing very special. I don't think anyone from YPDC will be back (unless they're in a mood for breakfast).


Angie's Kitchen
47 Erb Street West, Waterloo. 886-2540
Visited: Saturday, February 14, 1998

Dennis: This was a 10am breakfast visit. Good variety of choices, but your breakfast choices seemed to fit in the economy ($3-4) or more expensive ($8 & up) price ranges. Staff was friendly and service reasonably quick. This is a fairly busy restaurant because of it's location at the edge of the Waterloo Square parking lot. I had the breakfast special (scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries, brown toast, jam) and a large orange juice for $5.50 (including tax & tip). Just an ordinary breakfast/brunch.
I remember the visit more for getting to watch one of the region's fire trucks mangle one of the railway signs in the parking lot, than for the food.


A M Africa Restaurant
24 King Street East, Kitchener. 576-0313
Visited: Thursday, February 26, 1998

No one got around to writing a review at the time of this visit. So the following is a more general review.

David: I became a devotee to Ethiopian food some ten or twelve years ago when my girlfriend of the time convinced me to try it. (I should point out that my taste in food has been greatly enhanced over the years by my female friends. They smile sweetly, tell me how impressed they would be if I would just try this new food, and I dig right in. Setting aside the base manipulation going on, I have learned a great deal about good food this way).
A M Africa is a small restaurant in downtown Kitchener. The front half is the dining area (with, alas, a pool table in the centre), and the back half contains a bar. It's cosy, but not crowded. African posters and art line the walls, and there is a small selection of shirts, purses, and knickknacks available for purchase.
Eating the food is an adventure in itself. There are no utensils. Instead, the food is served on a large platter covered with 'injera', an unleavened, soft flat bread. The main dishes are served on this injera, and you eat the food by using the injera to scoop it up. When you run out of injera, just ask for more. All dishes except soup and rice are served this way. There is a traditional Ethiopian saying: "People who eat from the same dish will never betray each other". That may be so, but they might argue over that last piece of chicken!
There are a variety of chicken, beef, and vegetable dishes. They range from mild to hot, and the beef dishes range from raw to cooked. (I have developed quite a taste for rare beef over the years -- having it raw is just one more step. It's also a cultural thing. Once while there I was asked by an African customer whether I liked the raw beef dishes. After I told him I did, he told others around him, "See, this guy likes raw beef!" I went on to tell him that I also liked Japanese raw fish. He was horrified. The vegetable dishes on the other hand are so tasty and varied I can almost see myself becoming a vegetarian!
The service is friendly and relaxed. If you ask nice, and things aren't too busy, the owner will show you how she makes some of her dishes. If you are unsure of what to order, or how to eat the food, she will happily take the time to help.
A M Africa carries the usual selection of wines and beers, and a few from Africa.
The prices are very reasonable. Two can dine, with beer, for less than $30.
Highly recommended.

Dennis: Just a few comments, since David has covered most of the ground. The restaurant is located on the second floor, so be prepared for a hike up some stairs. One warning about the bread that the food sits on. As time goes by it absorbs spices and juices from the the food, so as you eat, the hotter the bread gets. This restaurant is worthy of a visit, preferably with 4-5 friends to share this Ethiopian dining experience.


Athens Bar and Grill
200 King Street East (at Scott), Kitchener. 576-9304
Visited: Thursday, March 5, 1998

David: Greek beer imported from Waterloo (at import prices). Overall: Not great.


Arpo's Too
421 Greenbrook Drive, Kitchener. 570-2525
Visited: Friday, March 27, 1998

Arpo's Too is another sports bar and grill type place. They have finger foods (such as perogies, garlic bread, battered mushrooms, steaks, salads, assorted sandwiches, etc).

Annette: This place had a menu similar to the The Dutchess (formerly Arpo's). There's one big difference -- Arpo's Too knew what vegetables were! Arpo's Too had salads and a vegetable platter.
Arpo's Too is located in a strip mall on Greenbrook Drive, just off of Westmount (between Ottawa and Queen). It's a quaint little place that had a pool table, jukebox and seating for a small crowd. The staff are very friendly -- Apro, the owner, came and talked to each customer. The place had atmosphere.
Their menu consist of bar-type foods -- battered mushrooms, wings, fries, nachos, burgers, salads, etc. They have a $0.29 wing special on Wednesdays.
I had the steak sandwich with fried onions and mushrooms with fries ($7.25). The sandwich was tasty but chewy. Let's just say I won't be rushing back to this joint.


Aphrodite Family Restaurant
280 Victoria Street North (near Lancaster), Kitchener, 742-9446.
Visited: Saturday, April 1, 2000. 6:00pm
Tasted by: David, Annette, Nora, Jonathan, Dennis.

Summer/2000 update: Closed due to a "fire of a suspicious nature".

Dennis:
This is a new (March/2000) canadian-greek restaurant at the former location of Dave's Family Restaurant. Aphrodite has done a complete remodelling job. It's prime colours are now blue & white. It comes complete with a patio overlooking the Aegean Sea (an alcove seating 6). Background music is Greek (occasionally being interrupted by trains rumbling by on the railway behind the restaurant).
Annette had the pork chop dinner (7.25). She found the meat to be dry, but tasty. David had the souvlaki and seftalla dinner (7.50) which he found to be quite good. Nora had the western sandwich (3.95) with greek salad. While the western wasn't quite up to the standard of Jimmy's Lunch (across the street), it was still better than average. Jonathan had the fish and chip dinner. He enjoyed the fish, but not the batter and fries were good. I had the hot beef sandwich with fries & coleslaw (6.49). It came with far too much gravy which made the bread a bit soggy. Fries were good.
For taste I'd recommend their fresh salads over their coleslaw (which are the marinated kind).
Service was quite friendly and accommodating.
Most of the meals are in the $5-8 range, with new york steak at $9.95 being the top item. Portions are generous. Our group of 5 spent $50 with tax and tip.
This restaurant is still finding it's feet, expect fine tuning of their menu and hours (which are currently very extensive) over the next few months.
A qualified recommendation. If you're looking for a meal in the $5-10 range, with greek atmosphere, this is a good one to check out.


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