The "D" Page
Last updated: 2000.10.02
The Dutchess (formerly Arpo's)
620 Davenport Road, Waterloo.
Visited: Thursday, February 19, 1998
1999 Update: It's gone. With no regrets from anyone.
I had a cheeseburger with bacon, fries, large Pepsi for $12.
The food was okay, but overpriced.
Noisy (bad acoustics). A place to go if you want to drink and play pool (they have several tables). But otherwise, not recommended.
The Daily Grill
615 Davenport Road, Waterloo. 886-4752
Visited: Thursday, October 22, 1998
The Daily Grill is a modern version of the diner (as opposed to the Checkerboard or the Harmony Lunch). It is bright, spacious, and not a single plastic Elvis graces its walls. The food was reasonably priced, and decent. Nora found her liver and onions superior to that of the Checkerboard, for example. The salad was very nice, a combination of more than just iceberg lettuce, it was a pleasant surprise. The only possible problem, was when the waitress assured us that they had every beer under the sun. Beer mavens that we are, Nora and I (somehow) restrained ourselves from rhyming off a list of beers that they didn't have, afraid we'd reduce the poor girl to a helpless, blubbering, shell of a woman - and that's with only domestic beers!
The final call: decent, but not outstanding. A good place for solid comfort food.
Dansbury Family Restaurant
373 Bridge Street West, Waterloo, 888-6690.
Visited: Wednesday, August 9, 7pm. Tasted by: Nora, Dennis, Annette (and Tasmin).
Dansbury is an inexpensive family restaurant located in a small mall between Lexington & University on Bridge. It's fairly spacious inside with several choices of seating style (benches & chairs).
Nora had the rib special ($8.99) and found the ribs to be surprisingly good.
Dennis had the soup of the day ($2.25, very good). This was followed by fish & chips (2 pieces for $6.95). The meal had to go back to the kitchen to get it right. When it first came out it had one piece of fish and fries, when it came out correctly, it had two pieces of fish and mashed potatoes (which I'd substituted for the fries). The potatoes were great, the coleslaw okay, and the fish mixed (one piece had too much batter).
Annette had a toasted western which she considered on par with that of Jimmy's Lunch (ie. very good). She was also pleased by the soup of the day. Her big disappointment was the chocolate milkshake ("not thick enough", "too much ice" and "skimpy on the chocolate" where some of the comments).
As long as you avoid the milkshakes, this restaurant gets an acceptable rating in the "inexpensive, Canadian" categories. Another "local restaurant".
2212 King St East (at Dellroy Ave), Kitchener.
Visited: Friday, October 30, 1998
May/2000 update: It's gone. Literally, just an empty chunk of ground left. Victim of the highway 8 widening.
Although the address says King, the parking lot and entrance is from Dellroy (a one block street running between King and Weber). It's worth the effort to find. This is a nice Italian restaurant. Pleasant decor, friendly staff and good food.
I had the soup of the day, which was a very pleasant variation on the vegetable theme, $2.50. I followed this with their Caesar's salad. It was rather simple, with just fresh lettuce, cheese and dressing, $4.95. To finish the evening, I had their fettucini alfredo with a ham and cheese sauce, $9.95. Quite filling.
Including tax & tip, it cost the four of us $125 for the evening. The range was from $22 to $40.
Back in the days when weird food still frightened me (a decade or two ago), I remember looking at Donato's menu just outside it's door. "Man," I thought, "they got unpronounceable stuff with weird sauces. I'm outta here." Thus, I missed my chance to try Donato's when it first opened (The fact that I was still a poor student and their prices were high didn't help).
Since then I have learned to appreciate weird food (thank you, ladies!), and I am no longer a poor student, Donato's has great appeal. The atmosphere is quiet, subdued, and relaxed. The menu offers a wide range of Italian dishes, and its prices are reasonable though by no means cheap ($8.95 for pasta on up to $21.95 for lamb).
Annette, Nora, Dennis and I attended on a Friday night. Nora had an excellent perch in tomato sauce, Annette a wonderful Mediterranean shrimp medley, Dennis a good fettucine Alfredo, and I a delicious veal picatta (veal medallions in a white wine and lemon sauce). There were no disappointments. The Caesar salads, for example, were plain, but the dressing was lovely, and the lettuce not drowned in it. We heartily recommend Donato's for the food.
The service was attentive -- extremely attentive -- almost obsequious. I have never been thanked so much in a two hour period in my life.
"I'll have the veal, please."
"Excellent choice. Thank you signor."
"And a Caesar salad."
"Thank you kindly signor."
"More water please."
"Thank you very much, signor."
"How late are you open?"
"Until 11, thank you."
"That does it, I'm going to burn this place down!"
"Wonderful idea. Thank you signor."
Well, I have to admit that the above conversation is not entirely accurate. Everyone else at the table made an "excellent choice", except me. The waiter simply thanked me when I ordered my veal. Did I do something gauche? Was I offending tradition? Or was the veal simply not that good that night? I don't know.
Thumbs up, if you can stand the politeness.
Dave's Family Restaurant
280 Victoria Street North, Kitchener (between Lancaster & Margaret).
Visited: Thursday, November 5, 1998.
March 2000 Update: Restaurant is gone. Aphrodite Family Restaurant replaces it as of mid-March.
Just from the name alone, I knew that Dave's Family Restaurant had to be good. I will admit to a bit of bias, of course, but not enough to cloud my judgement.
Dave's is in a small strip mall on Victoria street. From the interior furnishings, it looks as though Dave's used to be an ice-cream parlour. It's a plain, yet pleasant, sort of atmosphere. It's the kind of place I would stop in for a quick burger if I'm on the road.
When I travel, I deliberately avoid places such as McDonald's. After all, I could go to McDonald's here anytime I like. Some people prefer the familiarity, I prefer the adventure. (On the other hand, if eating a burger at a new restaurant is my idea of adventure, I need to get a life. But I digress...) Thus, if I were driving through Kitchener on my way somewhere else at lunchtime, I'd probably wheel into Dave's and give it a try. (Following this philosophy, I've had some excellent meals -- and some dreadful ones.)
Dave's menu is not extensive, concentrating on fish & chips, burgers, and other sandwiches, although that night they had lasagna on special. Nora and I split a fish and chip platter for two that had one piece of cod, haddock, sole and a number of deep-fried shrimp. Dennis went for cod and chips, and Annette had liver and onions.
The liver and onions were excellent, better than most of the others that we've tried this year. With the exception of the deep fried shrimp (uninspired, to say the least), the fish was very good. The pieces were large, and hand-dipped in batter so that you didn't have the common situation where there is more batter than fish. Dennis, a fish & chip aficionado, proclaimed the fish & chips to be excellent. The fries and coleslaw were very nice as well.
Dave's prices were very good. The shared platter for two cost $14.99, and I don't think any single meal was over $10.00.
Plain, unpretentious, good value. Although not a place to celebrate your wedding anniversary, Dave's gets a thumbs up from all of us.
I had the fish and chips. Your choice of 3 varieties of fish (cod, haddock & sole) and 1, 2 or 3 pieces. With a large helping of fries and a container of coleslaw. The coleslaw was surprisingly good (it looked like chopped veggies in milk), with a good mix of flavours. The fish was quite good with just the right amount of batter.
For $6.29 I got 2 pieces of cod. Excellent value. If you're looking for breakfast or fish and chips this is one restaurant I'd recommend.
The Dearborn Restaurant
Unit 12, 105 Lexington Road (where Columbia ends), Waterloo. 746-0321.
Visited: Thursday, November 12, 1998
The Dearborn is difficult to find unless you know exactly where it is. It is in the inside corner of a strip plaza, and the main sign is unlit. Coming at it from the wrong direction hides it completely from view from the road.
Having found it, the Dearborn is bright and cheery inside. It is quite large, and divided into smoking and non-smoking sections separated by a wall, effectively trapping the foul vapours on the other side. You may detect a small note of bias there...
The menu is large and varied, with chicken, steak, fish, and sandwiches predominating. Much of the menu is Greek in flavour, with items such as souvlakia, gyros, greek salad, and the like. Given this, we held out high hopes for the seafood appetizer, but alas, all of its items were deep fried. Although I'm not adverse to fish and chips or breaded calamari now and then, I have very little use for deep fried shrimp. There's no quicker way to take the flavour out of a succulent little shrimp than to batter and deep fry it. The scallops received the same treatment, with the same result. The onion rings were decent, and the calamari was either succulent or tough, depending on whether you got a ring or a set of tentacles. (Perhaps these squid had been working out).
Dennis's fish and chips were good, but not as good as at Dave's. My souvlakia was fine, but not spectacular. Nora and Annette's pork chops were very nicely spiced, but dried out a bit by the end of the meal. The portions in all cases were generous, and the prices reasonable, ranging from $6.95 to $10.95. Steaks, the most expensive item, topped out at $15.95.
Service was friendly and efficient, and we stayed late enough to watch the entire family, small children included, do their clean-up duty.
I would rate the Dearborn as I rated the Daily Grill. Decent, straightforward food and prices. Nothing spectacular, but nothing seriously amiss. For those days when you want comfort rather than adventure.
2980 King Street East (at Fairway), Kitchener. 893-2911
Visited: Thursday, November 26, 1998
Del Dente occupies the lower floor of the Charcoal Steakhouse. For those of you who can remember that far back, it once was the Lower Deck, a seafood restaurant. Now it serves Mediterranean style food.
Del Dente is loud, the lighting muted, the decor full of wood and ceramics. The service was good, and the menu varied.
The salads were particularly nice. On special was a warm mushroom salad with spinach that was excellent -- full of different mushrooms cooked wonderfully. The Caesar salad was very nice -- garlicky, and not overwhelmed by sauce. Nora's Greek salad, was, well, unspectacular when set against the others.
Annette and Nora shared an appetizer platter for their main course, with spicy crab cakes, smoked salmon with flat bread, mussels in a chardonnay garlic sauce, and calamari rings. Very nice, and too much for the two of them to eat after their salads.
Gina had a gnocchi in cream sauce dish, that though nice, was not up to the quality of Ennio's.
I had a pizza sandwich. Think of a panzerotti with a thin pizza crust, baked rather than deep fried, and filled with sausage and pepperoni, and you've got the dish. It was very tasty, though without the kick to the sausage promised by the menu.
Prices ranged from $7.95 for the sandwich to $21.95 for lamb and veal dishes. Thus, though not as pricey as the Charcoal Steakhouse itself, Del Dente's can still put quite a hole in your wallet if you load up on appetizers and drinks.
Overall we liked Del Dente's. It's a bit of an odd fish, with an unfocussed menu (is Mediterranean really a style of food, or just a grab-all title?), but the food, for the most part, is very good.
Dixie Lilly Dining Lounge
720 Westmount Road East (Price Chopper plaza near Ottawa), Kitchener. 742-7361.
Visited: Thursday, December 3, 1998
This place is the current holder of the most number of names used by the same restaurant. Dixie Lilly Dining Lounge is the name in the Phone Guide. Out front has two signs: Dixie's Bar & Grill and Dixie's Laundromat Cafe. And the food menu is titled Dixie's Bar, Grill & Laundromat. A bit of a split personality.
There is indeed, a laundromat attached to the place. As well, there are several pool tables, a pinball machine and a bar area. Judging by the fact that every table had an ashtray, you can probably expect this place to be smoky when they're busy.
Food and drinks are handled (and billed separately). The kitchen is open Monday to Thursday from 10am to 8pm. For Friday to Sunday the hours are 10am to 11pm. Service is friendly and efficient, once they know you're there.
Breakfast is served all day. The food choices are fairly basic (soup, sandwiches, fried stuff) and inexpensive. I shared an order of Deep Fried Mozzarella (7 pieces for $4.50) which was quite tasty. The dipping sauce was sour cream, which I've been informed is somewhat unusual. It met with my approval. For the main course I had their Hot Beef sandwich ($3.75) which came with coleslaw, fries and gravy. Reasonably tasty and filling.
If you're looking for something cheap, and are in the area, this is not a bad choice.
The name of this restaurant varies depending on what you look at. Dixie Lilly Dining Lounge, Dixie Lilly's Laundry Cafe, Dixie's Bar & Grill - there may be others, but I've forgotten now, so I'll just call it Dixie's.
I initially guessed that Dixie's was a Country & Western place. Other than the picture of a riverboat on one wall, there wasn't too much evidence of it. Certainly the laundromat equipment in one room didn't remind me of an Olde West saloon. The dining room as a whole looked like the hall rented for your third cousin's wedding: high ceiling, no columns or partitions, generic tubular steel chairs and tables, concrete floor. They did have mirrors on the wall that made the room look larger -- hardly necessary I felt. The laundromat was separated from the dining room by a windowed wall, and with most of the blinds closed you'd hardly notice the washing machines were even there. Overall it had a certain Early Salvation Army charm. (As a friend once explained to me, the difference between Early Salvation Army decor and Late Salvation Army decor is that Late Salvation Army decor is what you get when other people buy the good stuff at the Salvation Army store before you get there).
I'm ashamed to admit it, but we did debate whether or not to even go in. Finally though, we (Annette, Nora, Dennis and myself) girded our loins and went in. It was quiet. Though there were half-a-dozen people at the bar, there was only one gentlemen seated in the dining room watching 'Law & Order' on the television. (Another blow to my Country & Western theory). We sat for a while before this gentleman went to the kitchen door and yelled, "Hey Sue, ya got people here!" With that, Sue bustled out to take our orders. As other regulars drifted in, they just ordered their food directly from the kitchen -- something to keep in mind.
The food was cheap. Our total food bill for four was under $20.00 (a rival to the Harmony Lunch). The corned beef sandwich and onion rings special was $3.50. There wasn't a meal over $8.00 on the menu. The food was as good as McCain's frozen food could be. The corned beef sandwich, for example, was plenty of cold corned beef with mustard on a plain white kaiser. There was nothing wrong with it, but it's not in the same league as hot corned beef on rye. All the food was like that -- perfectly fine, but not exciting.
Our bar order was a little different. They had Blue and Coors on draft, and when I asked about bottled beer, the waitress said they had lots. What did I want? Figuring that ordering imported beer might cause a lynch mob to form, I asked for a Waterloo Dark. She replied, "Sorry, we don't have any abstract beers". 'Abstract beer'. I *like* that phrase. In the absence of abstract beer, I settled for an Ex. Nora had a draft Blue Light, and when I expressed my astonishment at her order, she told me that it was better than Coor's Light. Which is, strictly speaking, true, but then again being poked in the eye with a sharp stick is better than drinking a Coor's Light.
Our conclusion? Dixie's is fine for a cheap meal and a couple of beers in a laid-back blue-collar atmosphere. And, you can do your laundry at the same time!
276 King Street West (near Water), Kitchener. 576-3482
Visited: Thursday, December 10, 1998
Do Thahn looks very much like its predecessor, Pho Nam Vietnamese Restaurant. If it wasn't for the name change on the sign, I wouldn't have known any different. Also, since I'm not an expert on Vietnamese food, it's not clear the menu has changed. This is not necessarily a bad thing, for the times I went to Pho Nam were reasonably good. I have to admit a preference for Viet-Thai Restaurant on King Street East, and the preference hasn't changed.
The restaurant itself is large and airy with plenty of elbow room. The service started out very good, as the waiter made some excellent suggestions as to our order. We got their dinner for six, which had a nice balance of fish, chicken, and vegetable dishes. We ordered the Thai shrimp soup (at the waiter's suggestion), and found it to be a slightly spicy soup with a hint of lemon and plenty of shrimp. Although the rest of the dishes were nice, the soup was the taste highlight of the meal.
The prices were very reasonably. Seven of us ate for about $70.00. (One of the staples of Vietnamese cuisine, their beef or chicken soups, would have filled us up for half that, but we wanted to experiment a little more).
The rest of the dishes were very nice. Vietnamese cuisine has a taste distinct from that of Chinese food, though the presentation and main ingredients are very similar. The secret is in the spices. Unfortunately, none of the dishes, even the curry chicken, were hot. In fact, they were downright mild. We suspect, though we have no proof, that they made the dishes more mild than would be usual to suit our supposedly 'amateur' palates. (Although I've been ambushed by spice at the Cafe Bangkok, I prefer to take the risk). We intended to ask our waiter whether this was the case, but ran into the biggest disappointment of the evening. Responding to an earlier phone call, our waiter went out on a delivery, without a word to us. His place was taken by a pair of teenage waitresses who were less than attentive.
We're far too relaxed, and I suppose too Canadian, to let something like this ruin our evening. We got our bill, paid, and left quietly. It was an unfortunate ending to an otherwise decent experience.
Thus, I would rate the food as good -- other than the soup no dishes really stood out, but none disappointed, either. Thumbs way down on the service. The waiter started out well, and threw all that good will away when he disappeared. I'll stick to Viet-Thai.
The Duke of Wellington
33 Erb Street West (The Atrium at Waterloo Town Square), Waterloo. 886-9370
Visited: Thursday, December 17, 1998
The Duke gets a mixed review from me. First, it gets both thumbs up for its wide choice of abstract beer. Most of the choices are from the British Isles, but that's not a serious limitation as far as I'm concerned! The atmosphere is as close as you'll get to authentic British pub around here -- which, alas, includes lots of cigarette smoke. We went early enough in the evening that it wasn't too bad, but I've been at the Duke at times when you could cut the nicotine fog with a knife. Personal prejudice, I know, but I prefer my food and drink unsurrounded by swirls of cancer-causing chemicals.
The food, at least what I had, was, alas, also authentic British pub food. Although things have improved over in Blighty during the last ten years in the food department, in general the British are not known for their delectable cookery. (Must be that stiff-upper lip thing that prevents people from properly tasting their food).
My steak pie was tough, yet bland. This is all the more amazing since 'Savouries', a lovely little British imported food shop, shares the same building with the Duke. Their pies, prepared on-site by Alex (an exception amongst British chefs -- but then, he's Scottish), are wondrous.
On the other hand, those of us who had non-pub food, such as escargot, pork medallions, and Thai noodles, had a very nice meal.
The lesson is clear -- don't order pub food at this pub.
Prices are very reasonable, with most entrees in the $7 - $11 range.
A very nice beer was a Scottish oatmeal stout from the recently reopened brewery in Neustadt. Unfortunately, the name escapes me right now, but if you like a dark, full-bodied beer, give this one a try.
I had the "hearty vegetable" soup, which suprised me with the large number of mushrooms it contained. Good tasting, but mushrooms are not on my list of vegetables. For the main course I had pork medalions in sauce with vegetables. The carrots & rice were a bit tasteless. The only problem with the pork was there wasn't enough of it. An okay meal.
For the 7 of us the bill was just over $90 with tax & tip. A middle-of-the-pack restaurant.
Dragon Court Restaurant
34 King Street South, Waterloo. 884-8822
Visited: Wednesday, December 23, 1998
Tasted by: Annette, David, Dennis
This will be a short review -- I cannot recommend Dragon Court. The food was greasy and the service *just* this side of snarky. Although the special Dragon Roll (i.e. oversized spring roll) wasn't bad, it also wasn't worth a repeat trip.
Our group of 3 had 4 dishes. The Imperial Dragon spring rolls were large, crunchy, with an excellent flavour. The rest of the food did not measure up. The rice dish was rather plain. The snow peas and beef were underdone. The deep fried spicy squid was unevenly cooked. A major disappointment.
What this restaurant needs is a good cook. Not recommended, unless you like big spring rolls.
Deliciously Different Creative Cuisine
Visited: Thursday, January 7, 1999
May/2000 update: The building's owner refused to renew their lease. No word on whether they will continue at a different location.
This restaurant lives up to it's name. It was a good choice for the first anniversary of the club.
The atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed. The menu's are written on blackboards mounted on the walls. Expect the food choices to change fairly regularly. It's a small restaurant with good food, so reservations are recommended.
I tried the cheese garlic bread. It was so-so, a bit too much oil. I also sampled the real surprise which was the deep fried spinach (a bit like a thin, crispy potato chip in texture). Quite nice.
I had the small (what most places would call large) Caesar salad with mushrooms and a hot dressing (cold also available) ($3.50). Quite tasty. For the main course I had the "beef tenderloin saute in blue cheese and leek cream, hash brown potato croquette" ($15.95). When it arrived the plate looked suitable for hanging up as a Christmas decoration. Not only did it look good, but it was all edible, and tasted great.
Unlike my companions, I resisted the dessert menu.
For the 8 of us, the bill with tax and tip was about $290. If you don't mind the expense, this restaurant provides an excellent dining experience.
By special request we journeyed down to Cambridge to eat at Deliciously Different. It's all too rare for a restaurant to live up to its name, but DD did very well. (If more restaurants were named things like "Mediocre, But Pricey", "Botulism Haven", or "Pretentious and Really Pricey", we'd better know what to expect).
Deliciously Different is very small, seating no more than 30 or so people. Reservations are highly recommended. There is no menu, the day's specials being colourfully chalked on blackboards along the walls. This probably leads to other patrons, very likely nearsighted, leaning over your soup as they peer intently at the dessert list.
The dishes cover a broad range with a wide variety of sauces. There were meat and fruit combinations, lovely wine sauces, nice use of vegetables. The appetizers and desserts were also deliciously different. (I have *got* to come up with a different descriptive phrase!)
A few of us started out with a Caesar salad. You could order the dressing (which included mushrooms) either hot or cold. Hot, the dressing was sensational. However, you had to eat it fast, for lukewarm it lost some of its lustre. The surprise hit of the evening was the deep-fried spinach. Unbreaded, but salted, the spinach was simply plopped into the deep fryer long enough to give it a crunchy texture. It was like eating healthy potato chips with a distinctive flavour.
My entree was pork medallions with apple-brandy sauce. Just slightly too sweet for my palate, I nonetheless enjoyed the tender pork and tasty vegetables (I did, however, ignore the sodden chunks of apple lurking on the plate). The others were equally, or more, entranced with their dishes.
The waitress was friendly, knowledgeable, and, as always helps with our group, had a sense of humour.
Entree prices started at $9, and went up to $18, with starters extra. Somewhat pricey, then, but well worth it for the quality of food.
Many thumbs up!