The "C" Page
Last updated: 2000.6.27
24 Charles Street West, Kitchener. 579-1760
Non-visit report: April 1999
This restaurant was skipped in 1998 (and 1999) because
the most influential regular members of the club
(Annette, David, Nora) all have bad memories from their
last visits to the restaurant. My memories don't fall in that
category, probably since my most recent visit was in 1978.
Therefore, a restaurant that we've skipped.
Curry In A Hurry
170 University Avenue West, Waterloo. 888-0126
Non-visit report: April 1999
This restaurant was skipped in 1998 (and 1999) because
most of the cooking is done off-site at another
restaurant. The food thus tends to be a bit inconsistant,
depending on time of day.
The club's skipping this restaurant in favour of visiting the restaurant that's doing the actual cooking.
Cafe Bon Choix
140-100 Regina Street South (William & Regina), Waterloo. 747-4261
Visited: May 24, 1998
No one got around to writing a review at the time of the visit.
My first visit was in May/2000 for Sunday brunch. This is an all you can eat breakfast/lunch buffet for $10. From 10:30am-2pm. For a buffet, quite good.
112 King Street West, Kitchener. 579-2187
Visited: Thursday, July 2, 1998
Cafe Bangkok was another unknown as far as Annette, Gina, Fred and
I were concerned. Located in former Chinese/Japanese restaurants,
it had leftovers from the previous tenants. Thus the decor was
eclectic, to say the least. Vases with artificial flowers that
glowed in the purple florescent light were particularly striking.
(There was normal lighting as well, but the mood lighted added a
certain something, though I'm not sure exactly what that something
was). We dined in the back as the front was taken up with a pool
table and a group of dedicated pool players.
In the back we got to enjoy the strains of karaoke coming from the TV near the kitchen. In turn we sang along with country and early seventies pop tunes, accompanied by pastoral scenes of cute Asian women looking lovestruck.
This entertainment may not be to everyone's taste.
The menu was also eclectic, offering a mixture of Chinese, Laotian, and Canadian food. Given a choice between spring rolls and fresh spring rolls, we ordered the fresh ones (for 50 cents more). It seems by fresh they mean not deep fried, and they were very good, similar to the Vietnamese spring roll.
I ordered spicy Laotian rare beef. I asked for medium spicing, but I think the waitress (who did double duty as cook) misunderstood and gave me medium beef with normal spicing. Certainly, if that was medium spice, I wouldn't want the normal spicing! The dish was good, when eaten slowly, being a mixture of small beef chunks, tripe, and bean sprouts. The only drawback was the massive amount of mint leaves in the dish -- I prefer my mint as a white cream inside dark chocolate.
The other dishes were also intriguing, Annette's being a seafood dish with faux crab, octopus, shrimp, and vegetables; Gina's a beef dish with curry paste; and Fred's a chicken dish.
The prices were very reasonable, with the meal for four (including three beers) coming in under $45.00.
Recommendation: for those with adventuresome palates, and unconcern towards decor, and a strong stomach for karaoke.
Cafe Star Family Restaurant
347 Lancaster Street West, Kitchener.
Visited: June 28, 2000, 7pm.
Tasted by: Kathryn, Dennis.
Cameron Chinese Seafood Restaurant
21 Cameron Street South (at Charles), Kitchener. 576-3030
Visited: Wednesday, July 8, 1998
Cameron Chinese Seafood Restaurant was quite good -- one of the
best places for authentic Chinese food in the area. (Although
I've come to know authentic Chinese food, I defer Annette on
this matter, and if she says it's authentic, I believe her!)
While the menu is not as extensive as some of the other restaurants in the area (King Tin, for example), it is still broad. We took the easy route and chose their "dinner for five or six" (though the waitress assured us that it was enough for eight, so we took the option of having one less dish). After a bit of language difficulty, we settled in for the meal.
All the dishes had their own subtle (or not so subtle) nuances. The spicy vegetable casserole was an especial treat. Too often vegetable dishes are collections of three or four different kinds of vegetable stir-fried together until they are limp and tasteless. This casserole was crisp and spicy enough to make you sit up and take notice. The pepper beef was also interesting, heavy use of pepper not being normal to the Chinese food I eat. The cod with black bean sauce was as far as you can get from deep-fried breaded cod and still be eating fish.
Highly recommended. Approximately $80 for four, including three beer.
Caribbean Hot Restaurant
220 King Street North, Waterloo. 885-2011
Visited: Thursday, July 16, 1998
Caribbean Hot was new to all of us (I'd had a chicken roti
there six months ago, but that hardly counts). As you might
gather from the name it specializes in Caribbean food, in
this case roti, dhal, and sometimes jerk pork and chicken.
Most of us had roti of some kind, either chicken, beef,
or goat (vegetarian is also available). Roti consists of a
thin, unleavened bread wrapped around the meat and veggie
(potatoes and/or chick peas) contents. They are spiced up
with a curry-like spice, though you have the option of opening
them up and adding mild, medium, or hot sauce. The medium sauce
has quite a bit of kick; the hot sauce is *very* hot.
Annette was different and had goat with dhal on rice. Dhal is almost like a soup, but in this case served as more of a gravy for the goat and rice. Very tasty with a bit of kick as well.
Caribbean Hot has the look and feel of a family-owned fast food place, so the decor is what I would call Early Arborite. Pleasant, tasty, and very inexpensive. Well worth a try.
Checkerboard Restaurant & Coffee Bar
705 Belmont Avenue West, Kitchener. 742-5771
Visited: Friday, July 24, 1998
Charcoal Steak House
2980 King Street East (at Fairway), Kitchener. 893-6570
Visited: Friday, July 31, 1998
The soup of the day was cream of mushroom. Nice and creamy with
slices of mushroom. Slightly above average, $3. I followed the
soup with a caesar salad. I'm not much of a salad person, but
I found this one to be quite tasty probably due to the dressing
and the fresh ingredents. The hostess added grated cheese at the
table which certainly didn't hurt either, $4. For the main course
I had their schnitzel. The schnitzel was excellent, the potato
pancake was a bit bland (could have used some apple sauce or
sour cream), the parsnip french fries were cute, good selection
of veggies (broccoli, zuchinni, parsnips, carrots) which I
would have prefered cooked slightly more, $12. Too full for
dessert. Total including tax & tip was $25.
Reasonably lit, you could see the food and your companions. The backround noise, in our section at least, was not intrusive. Our hostess provided good service. Overall, an enjoyable dining experience.
709 Belmont Avenue West, Kitchener. 744-9081
Visited: Wednesday, August 5, 1998
Reservations are highly recommended. This is a very tiny
restaurant. There are approximately 10 tables seating
about 30 people. Closed on Sunday.
Our waitress was quite the cut up. Kept us laughing most of the evening -- she threatened to charge us extra because we arrived early for our reservations. This week's location had a small gathering of 4 people (two of the people were new to the club).
The food was excellent!!!! I definitely had food envy!!!! The torture was sitting there looking at the other patrons' meals and drooling trying to decide what to order -- pizza, pasta or something from the entree section (Rugantino Chicken, Braciole, Rusticana chicken, veal parmigiana, lasagna, shrimp giulani, etc.). Eventually, I decided on the Rusticana Chicken (breast of chicken in a white cream sauce and mushrooms, seasoned carrots, side Caesar salad and a side dish of pasta in meat sauce) ($17.10). For dessert I had the homemade tiramisu ($4.25). Awesome!!! The entire meal was awesome. We're talking licking the plate clean awesome (manners prevented me/us from doing this -- in a public place). Anyway, I am definitely going to go back to this place. Hmm... maybe I'll order a pizza for take out.
Sample pricing on some things pizza puff $5.00, 4 item 12" pizza was about $12.00 (if memory serves me). I think the most expensive item on the menu was a shrimp dish, about $28.
China Garden Restaurant
31 University Avenue East (near Regina St), Waterloo. 888-0088
Visited: Thursday, August 13, 1998
The China Garden is a small restaurant that caters mainly to the
lunch crowd in the WLU area. It has $4.95 lunch specials and
$6.95 dinner specials, as well as a regular menu.
We ordered crispy chicken, Schezuan eggplant, beef with rice noodle, and garlic broccoli. Service was swift, and the food was good. (Annette says the crispy chicken was 'awesome'). Some of the dishes weren't as spicy as they could have been, but still had a bite. The spring rolls (all vegetable) were slightly greasy.
The menu ranges from authentic Chinese to schlock Chinese (i.e. chicken balls in transmission fluid). For four, the total was $48, tax and tip included. Very reasonable for the amount and quality.
Country Boy Family Restaurant
5 Manitou Drive, Kitchener. 893-2120
Visited: Thursday, August 20, 1998
Dennis: Average food, reasonably priced.
Cocktails Restaurant & Lounge
1 Queen North, Kitchener.
Visited: Wednesday, August 26, 1998
Tasted by: Gina, Nora.
New restaurant opening up at this location.
This was a restaurant specializing in Mediteranian cuisine and seafood. The YPDC reviewers (Gina & Nora) ranked it as very good. Cocktail's owners shut down the restaurant late in 1998 to concentrate on their night club.
Crock & Block Restaurant & Tavern
1211 King Street East, Kitchener. 744-4682
Visited: Friday, September 4, 1998
There is one other Crock & Block located in Barrie, Ontario. Which makes it a chain of 2.
This seems to be the last of what was once a fairly large chain of
steakhouses. It has the steakhouse decor -- lots of dark wood
and subdued lighting, but pleasant all the same.
We had prime rib, steak, ribs, crab legs, popcorn shrimp, escargots, and French onion soup. The prime rib, steaks, and crab legs were very nice, easily the equal of a typical steak house in the area. Nora, our resident escargot expert, tells those of us too squeamish to actual try them, that the escargot were all right, but far from being the equivalent of the same dish at La Costa or Rock Avenue Bistro. The rest of the food was fine, but not outstanding.
The prices were about par for a steakhouse, ranging from $9.95 to $15.95. Thus, though the Crock & Block was significantly cheaper than Charcoal Steakhouse, it doesn't have quite the value of Golf's Steak House (my personal yardstick when it comes to steak houses). For example, prime rib is $13.95 at both Crock & Block and Golf's, but at Crock & Block it comes with only baked potato, roll, and vegetable, whereas at Golf's you get soup, all-you-can-eat salad bar, potato, garlic bread and veggie.
Though it lacks uniqueness, in the end I give it a thumbs up.
Waterloo Region Road 15 (between St. Jacob's Market & Heidelburg)
Visited: Thursday, September 10, 1998
1999 update: Cedar Barn listed for sale.
The last time I went to the Cedar Barn, about 10 years ago,
it was a smorgasboard place. It has changed significantly since.
It has the air of an authentic 50's diner. Authentic in the sense
of Harmony Lunch authentic: wooden floors, counter with round
stools, not all the chairs match, inexpensive and filling food;
rather than the 'new' style of 50s diners that have their walls
covered with plastic Elvises and other pseudo-nostalgic reminders
of a mythological time along with prices to match.
The atmosphere was plain and simple, wood predominating. For the most part the food matched (plain and simple, that is, not wooden). The roast beef and chicken (Annette, David, Dennis) were adequate, but the grilled pork chops (Nora) were very good, and nicely spiced to boot. The schnitzel (Fred) was also very nice, and given the amount of schnitzel competition in this area, that's saying much.
Alas, the picture of the chocolate cake was far more enticing than the real item, though the banana cake was excellent. With the exception of the desserts, the food was home made. The milkshakes were excellent, and missed being completely authentic only by the fact that they didn't give you the metal mixing cup along with the shake glass.
The Cedar Barn gets a big plus for authenticity and lack of pretension, which puts it light years ahead of the sports bars we've been to. The food is solid and unexciting, but decent value. Next time you have a craving for comfort food, consider the Cedar Barn.
Country style cooking is something I enjoy (I'm a farm boy from way back).
I had their roast beef dinner. It wasn't very exciting, but it was
quite filling. Probably because it was the end of the day (the
restaurant closes at 8pm), the beef was a bit dry (and in need
of the gravy I'd requested for the fries).
The restaurant is located on a hill and you can see a fair amount of countryside through the windows. Pleasant decor.
Crystal Place Chinese Restaurant
10 King S (near Erb), Waterloo. 888-6828
Visited: Thursday, September 17, 1998
David: Crystal Palace is a perfectly decent, authentic Chinese restaurant. Not, in my opinion, quite to the level of the King Tin, but still well worth the trip. (Avoid the deep fried shrimp appetizers, though).
Our group of five shared 6 or 7 dishes. The dish that delighted
me most was the spicy squid. Cooked just right with spices that
crept up and ambushed you. The noodle and vegetable dishes were
good. The chicken dish was overdone and the appetizer was
unappetizing. Overall: A good meal.
The takeout menu has only a small fraction of the items on the eat-in menu. So it well worth the effort to visit, particularly with friends to share the meal.
University Plaza II, 170 University West, Waterloo.
Friday, September 25, 1998
Mar/99 Update: Restaurant was out of business by November 1998. It had started up at the University location in 1993.
Country Kabob occupies a corner in the University II Plaza. In
common with so many strip mall restaurants, it is small, scantily
decorated, and has its specials posted on the windows and pictured
above the counter.
Country Kabob serves a mixture of Persian and Indian food, though I've been assured by a Persian friend that it isn't real Persian food. Though the food is done in a Persian style, they use a number of Arabic and Indian spices that alter the flavour from the authentic type.
The Persian dishes are range of stews and kabobs. The stews are beef or lamb, and the kabobs are beef or chicken. There are vegetarian alternatives to the stews as well. Some of the dishes are pre-prepared and frozen ahead of time, so don't be afraid to ask what's fresh that day. The food is fine, but the spicing is subtle, and very mild. The rice is especially nice. It is neither dry nor sticky, and has a delicate touch of saffron to it. The Indian food is fine, but not up to the level of Kohinoor, probably the best Indian restaurant in the area (though some might argue for Vijay's).
The service is friendly, and the prices inexpensive. The dishes range from $4.95 for a typical stew dish, to 9.95 for a large kabob. Soup, rice, and tea is included.
Crystal's Tea Room & Artistic Creations
24 Eby Street North, Kitchener. 585-0458
Visited: Friday, October 2, 1998
Crystal's Tea Room & Artistic Creations was another jewel. It is
in a small house at the edge of Market Village along Eby street, and
probably doesn't seat more than 30 people (reservations are highly
recommended). It has a very homey, relaxed atmosphere, and the walls and
shelves are covered with art by local artists (all of which is for sale).
Unsurprisingly, given the name, Crystal has a wide selection of teas, and offers High Tea in the afternoons. She also offers after-theatre oeure-derves and snack plates, but more along the lines of brie cheese and fresh cream than nachos and wings. The dinner menu is very limited, consisting mainly of meat and vegetable pies, a vegetarian lasagna, and on Friday nights, prime rib. Due to the small size of the restaurant, you have to inform Crystal ahead of time whether or not you are having the prime rib.
I had the prime rib, and others ordered the curry chicken pie, the steak and mushroom pie, and the vegetarian lacewing. All our meals were excellent. The prime rib was done just as I like it (mooing), and was certainly larger than the 8 oz advertized. The pies were very good, and the curried pies were not overwhelming. The french onion and beef barley soups were also very nice, and the garlic bread was garlicky, and served in a large portion. The chocolate cake was the weakest link; although quite nice, it isn't up to its competitors at Cafe Bon Choix or Yukiko's, for example.
The staff had a nice sense of humour. When I warned our waiter about the danger of our exploding if we ate any dessert, she nodded, explaining that she hated scraping the remains of customers off the walls. (OK, so you had to be there).
The prices were very reasonable. $12.99 for the prime rib included potato and vegetable, but not soup or salad. The pies were below $10.
We will return.
The Circus Room
729 King Street East, Kitchener. 743-0368
Visited: Thursday, October 8, 1998
We went to the Circus Room on a Thursday night to avoid
the biker gangs that are normally there on Fridays. Well,
I exaggerate somewhat, but from the outside, it's the kind
of place that looks like it should have a bunch of Harleys
parked out front. The front is taken up by two large garage-style
doors with lots of glass that are opened in the summer time. Inside is a
bar with a TV over top, a number of tables, and a small area for live
performances. There were no performers while we were there.
The waiter was friendly and funny, as anyone with blue hair should be. He was also attentive, and quick to answer questions and offer suggestions. The food and beer selection were slightly less than normal since their supplier was a day late.
The Circus Room specializes in creole and cajun cuisine. The specials that night were a creole chicken, blackened fish, and a Louisiana style chicken sandwich. Although I was disappointed with my blackened fish (it was cold, and the blackening wasn't spicy), it was probably my fault since I ordered boring old rice pilaff with it instead of the more interesting spicy home fries. Nora declared her fish excellent, and Gina and Annette really enjoyed their creole chicken and Louisiana chicken respectively.
Thus, a unanimous thumbs up on service and atmosphere (if you're into that kind of place), and three thumbs up and one down on the food.
Crabby Joe's Tap & Grill
296 Fairway Road South (near Wilson), Kitchener, 896-9900.
Visited: Thursday, October 15, 1998
If the crowds we saw at Crabby Joe's are any indication, then this
restaurant will do better than the building's former incarnations as
Samuels, Friar Tuck's, Big Boy, et al. We had a 15 minute wait before
being seated on Thursday evening. (Of course it was Oktoberfest week
-- the traffic getting to Fairway Road was insane!)
Crabby Joe's is a typical 90s eatery: peanut shells on the floor, knick knacks of all kinds on the walls, supposedly funny signs on the walls extolling the virtues (or lack thereof) of Crabby Joe himself, loud music, and terminally perky wait staff. Sheer overexposure to this kind of place has generally numbed me to it, but even I was taken aback by the numerous suggestions (even on the coffee mugs) that I contact Global Mega Corporation for franchising information. Is there really a large enough percentage of their customers who read their coffee mug and say, "Gosh, I'd love to spend $200,000 and get a franchise for this restaurant!" to make it worth their while?
Our waiter was friendly, had a sense of humour (important when dealing with our group), and reasonably prompt. We even spotted her feeding a baby at the next table. Now that's service! (I resolutely ignored all suggestions that I should ask her to do the same for me).
The menu is varied, and has everything *but* crab. Overall, the food was good, even better than I expected, given my rather jaundiced view of such places. Nora's garlic shrimp was very nice, and complimented by a Caesar salad with real bacon bits. Dennis went for a decent chicken burger, Michael had a good appetizer selection plate, the highlight of which were the quesadillas. Annette's Louisiana steak wasn't as hot as the word 'Louisiana' would have you believe, but the peppery sauce added a nice touch to the meat. My wings and ribs were both quite good -- far from the best I've ever had, but a cut above the run of the mill.
Recommended, but not for a relaxing evening for two.
The music seems to be aimed at the university age group, but a lot
of the tables I saw were of the young family type.
They have a wide & varied selection of food, unlike a lot of sports bar style restaurants. Service, despite the occasional miscue, was fairly good.
I had a burger meal. All burger type meals come as either the regular beef or (for about $1 more) chicken is substituted. It comes with your choice of salad, fries or soup. I choose the soup of the day which was chicken noodle. It was not good chicken noodle soup. More like watered down noodle and vegetable soup. I had better luck with the swiss mushroom chicken burger. The chicken breast was nicely cooked and covered in cheese and mushrooms. Quite tasty.
The food is okay for the price, but I found the music volume just a bit too high (suitable for a dance floor, but not for eating). I don't plan on returning anytime soon.
429 Ottawa South, Kitchener, 745-5617.
Visited: Thursday, May 18, 7pm.
Tasted by: David, Annette, Nora, Dennis.
Plaza on Montgomery between King and Weber, Kitchener, 569-8288.
Visited: Thursday, June 15, 2000, 7pm.
Tasted by: Jonathan, Kathryn, Dennis, David, Nora, Michael (and Annette via takeout).
This is the former location of Island Pride. Cuscajamai serves both Latin and Jamaican dishes.
Each of the meals came with soup and salad. The soup of the day was beef. It consisted of one chunk of beef and one dumpling in broth. I've had better. The salad was primarily fresh, crispy lettuce with your choice of dressing. I quite enjoyed; your mileage may vary.
Nora and I had the "Costilla de Cerdo" ($8.50), these were marinated pork ribs. No fat, the challenge was determining were the ribs where so you could remove the meet. Very good. It came with your choice of rice, or brown rice with peas (the peas turned out to be beans), and fried/grilled plantain (banana relative).
David had the "1/4 de Pollo Asado" ($10.00), a spiced quarter chicken. Jonathan enjoyed the "Brown Stew Fish" ($14.00), which was a complete fish, including head. Kathryn was somewhat surprised by her "Curried Beef", which was chunks of beef in a bowl (with curry). She found it to be okay. Michael was pleased with his "Carne Asada & Chirmol" ($10.00) and the sidedish of "Pupusas" ($1.50).
Annette had the "Jerk Chicken" taken home for her. She found it to be "very good".
As you may have gathered from the descriptions (as they appear on the menu), the ones in Spanish are the latin ones, the ones in English are the Jamaican ones.
Cost for the 7 of us (including takeout) was $96 with tax and tip. This gets a qualified recommendation in the inexpensive non-Canadian food department. I'll be back again, perhaps with a Spanish dictionary in tow...