The "E" Page
Last updated: 2000.10.29
Edelweiss Sports Bar and Grill
600 Doon Village Road (corner of Homer Watson & Manitou), Kitchener. 748-0221
Visited: Wednesday, December 30, 1998
Revisited: Sunday, May 30, 1999
A better than average sports bar. The noise level was quite moderate for this type of restaurant and in my comfort zone. Decorated with the usual TV's and sports memorabilia. The waitress was good at her job; she took our orders with just her memory and delivered the correct food without any "who gets what" questions. I was impressed.
The entrees were rather pricy compared to many places, but you got what you paid for. Good quantities of well prepared food.
The Wednesday daily special was Schnitzel for $5.99 (regularly $7 and change). It had a very large thin schnitzel (well prepared, but rather bland compared to the appetizers), fries (straight from the freezer) (the alternative was mashed), coleslaw (enjoyable) (the alternative was sauerkraut), and a slice of tomato with some lettuce. I couldn't quite manage to finish it.
Our group of 5 spent about $80 with tax & tip. Overall: A better than average sports bar with good food. David: (Dec/98)
I'm a snob when it comes to food, but strictly in terms of taste. I'd much rather have a really good hamburger than a mediocre filet mignon. Thus, even though typical pub food is deep-fried, the presentation is hardly nouveau cuisine, and vegetables barely make an appearance, if it's nicely deep-fried, I'll go for it.
By this standard, the Edelweiss is a darn decent place. If your idea of great decor involves the freebies given out by the beer companies, you'll be in heaven. (I just turned a blind eye to the various overgrown inflated beer bottles and baseball caps). The chairs would look great on your patio, but that plastic is damned cold in the winter. The big screen TVs offer round-the-clock sports -- and I ignored that as well.
Not that any of this is necessarily a turn-off to me -- I long ago (with the exception of a TV mounted right at your table -- a sure size of the impending fall of western civilization) learned to ignore this stuff. In case you are getting the impression that I'm not a sports fan, let's put it this way: every time the home team drop-kicks the puck through the hoop, I cheer.
Thus, though the decor wasn't quite to my taste, it was certainly tolerable. The winning elements were the food and the service. Our waitress was the consummate professional. She never took notes, and never mixed up an order. (Too often I've had waitstaff who don't write down my order for a hamburger, and then come back to the table asking, "OK, who ordered the prairie oysters? Wasn't it one of youse guys?")
The food was good, solid, pub grub. Large plates bearing large portions was a welcome sight. The garlic bread was over half a meter long. My schnitzel was tender and tasty. (I rarely order schnitzel due to severe overexposure, a story I'll tell some other time). Annette and Nora split Cajun wings, which were as good as any wings in K-W, and better than most. The breaded mushrooms were not completely overwhelmed with the breading -- a nice change from the usual.
Prices ranged from $5 to $10 for most entrees. The beer, although not wildly abstract, still offered a reasonable number of local brews.
Two thumbs up for the Edelweiss.
An addendum: in my review of the Edelweiss, I got some flak for not mentioning how wonderful the pepper roasted ribs were. OK, here it is: the pepper roasted ribs were wonderful!
Egg Roll King Chinese and Canadian Cuisine
85 Courtland Avenue East (Benton & Cedar), Kitchener. 749-9869
Visited: Thursday, January 14, 1999
Parking is very limited in front of the restaurant (approximately 3 cars can fit in front of the building). We ended up parking around the corner in what appears to be a school parking lot.
The decor is interesting -- there's lacquered wall hangings, all the plants had mini Xmas lights, mini lights around the wall hangings, etc.
They've been in business about 2 years and can seat approximately 40 people.
They don't carry any "abstract" beer and they have a very limited selection of domestic beer. We ordered a pot of Jasmine tea (1.00).
We each ordered a homemade egg roll (0.99). It consisted of ground pork, mixed seafood, rice vermicelli, cabbage and seasoning. The other appetizer we ordered was won ton soup. There were four pork won tons in broth with BBQ pork, celery and a sprinkle of green onion. Both appetizers were good. The egg roll was exceptional as it was not the traditional bean sprout recipe.
Our main courses (ordered off the "Our Chef's Specialties" section) were:
1. Chow Hoi Shin (10.50)
Menu Description: Jumbo shrimp, scallops, and lobster fried with Chinese vegetables, water chestnuts, and whole mushrooms. This is a real treat for seafood lovers. What we got: jumbo shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab, mussels, assorted vegetables (broccoli, Chinese greens, snow peas, water chestnuts and mushrooms). It definitely was a treat. I quite enjoyed the scallops and mussels as David does not like either.
2.One bowl of rice (1.00) to go with Item 1.
3.Cantonese Chow Mein (8.75)
Menu Description: Shrimp, BBQ pork, and chicken cooked with Chinese vegetables, water chestnuts, and whole mushrooms, served on bed of Chinese noodle. What we got: as described above, as well as mussels. We also had a choice of soft noodles or crispy noodles. We chose the crispy noodles. Again, I quite enjoyed the mussels. Some of the mussels were very large.
When ordering our main courses the waitress asked if we liked spicy foods. We said yes and ordered both dishes spicy. When we got our dishes we discovered that spicy meant loaded with black pepper. The food was still good but it would have been nice to see what they would have used besides pepper.
Overall Rating and Comments: The food was good and reasonably priced (total bill was about $35.00 for 2). I would definitely return for the egg rolls. The service was adequate. The waitresses were very friendly and helpful. I was disappointed that they did not serve hot and sour soup. However, I thought it was quite interesting that they had shark fin soup (14.99) listed.
They could stand to lose the music that they were playing. It sounded like phonetic Chinese kareoke.
The Eggroll King lives in a tiny little place with a lot of history. Tucked into a stretch of Courtland Ave in Kitchener along with nineteenth century worker's houses and light industry, the building has seen a number of restaurants come and go. I ate there once when it was a fish and chips place (back in the Bronze Age, if memory serves me right); after that it became a Vietnamese cafe and Chinese restaurant, though not necessarily in that order.
Thus it was, with this burden of history, that we approached the Eggroll King with some trepidation. So much so, in fact, that only Annette and I actually braved the elements to give it a try.
We were agreeably surprised. The menu is, for the most part, typical schlock Chinese food. (definition - Schlock Chinese: that food which purports to be Chinese in origin, yet caters to North American taste. See Also: Taco Bell). We asked the waitress for suggestions, and though she picked the two most expensive items on the menu, they were good choices.
Annette has done a great job of describing the dishes (and the very nice eggrolls).
I'd recommend Eggroll King, with the caveat that outside of a handful of nice seafood dishes their selection is strictly Canadianized Chinese. That is not necessarily a complete disaster, since I crave even schlock Chinese food once a year or so, but Eggroll King doesn't have the keep-you-coming-back range of a place like King Tin.
Ennio's Pasta House
200 Lorraine, Kitchener. 576-9552
1601 River East (plaza across from the ski slopes), Kitchener. 893-0543
Visited: Thursday, January 21, 1999
The smaller, original restaurant was closed for renovations the week we went eating, so we went to the larger one on River.
This time Nora and I opted for Elora Irish Ale (very nice) instead of gangster beer. (A bit of explanation: Moretti is a decent Italian lager that has a picture of an old man with a large mustache and hat drinking a beer. A waitress at Ennio's told us of a previous customer who came in and asked for a gangster beer. Puzzled, she asked him what he meant. He replied that he wanted the beer with the picture of the gangster on it, meaning Moretti. I think the guy looks rather harmless, but then again I probably haven't watched enough of the Godfather movies.) Gina had a Ennio's special brew which was rather tasteless. Stick to the gangster beer.
The highlight of the evening was the appetizers. Nora's garlic shrimp were, with a single exception, the finest she has ever had. (The exception was out on the west coast, but we won't go into details). Nora was kind enough to share one, and it was darn good! Michael's sauteed mushrooms were also stunningly good, but to be avoided by those who cannot take food swimming in butter. The lemon-rice cream of chicken soup was very nice, but not in the same category as the shrimp. The two kinds of mussels were good, but the accompanying veggies would have been better cooked than raw. (They used to do an excellent grilled squid, but no longer offer it due to lack of demand).
The main course pasta dishes were, for the most part, fine, but not stunning. Annette's seafood pasta suffered from slightly overcooked seafood. Having said that, given the competition in town, Ennio's pasta is amongst the best. Dennis, our fish fanatic, had a nice filet of sole.
The desserts were disappointing in that they offered mainly the new 'brand' desserts such as Rollo cake, After Eight cake, and the like. It's not as though I am totally against such desserts, but frankly if I want a Rollo, I'll go to 7-11 and buy one. I don't see the need for the cake. (On top of that, such desserts tend to be far too sweet). I ordered a lemon gelato, which, although very nice, was way overpriced at $4.95 for a small serving.
Our waitress was good: bubbly and friendly with a fine sense of humour. She had to bring us bad news more than once when the kitchen ran out of things like Coke, but dealt with it gracefully.
Prices for appetizers ranged from $3.95 to $8.95, and main courses from $8.95 to $15.95.
Thumbs up for Ennio's.
Most of the food was pretty average except for the exceptional shrimp and mushroom appetizers that David has mentioned in his review. Several of us selected the cream of lemon chicken rice soup (one of 2 daily soup choices). It was filling, had an interesting taste, but not one I'd go out of my way to try again. I had a pasta and fish dish for my main meal, which, again was rather average.
If I want an average meal, there are lots of places in town that will give you one for a cheaper price. If the overall food quality had matched that of the shrimp and mushroom dishes that Nora & Michael had selected, I'd give the place an enthusiastic thumbs up. Since it didn't, I give the place a thumbs down.
Equestrian Country Club
Waterloo Road 30 North (south of Maryhill), 648-3222
Directions: Highway 7 towards Guelph, turn left at first
stoplights past Breslau (approx 3 miles/4 km). On the
right about 300-400m from the corner (just past the golf
driving range and before the first bend in the road).
Visited: Friday, September 22, 7pm.
Tasted by: Nora, Michael, Dennis.
This restaurant falls in the Ali Baba class of restaurant. The food is good, but you're also paying for the atmosphere. Not to say that Equestrian's atmosphere is anything like Ali Baba's. You can actually see your dinner companions at the Equestrian.
Lots of wood furniture (although the tables were a bit too old-fashioned for Michael's legs -- the kind that has a built-in drawer). All accented by knic-knacs, plants and a fire place. But the most noticeable thing are the huge windows in one wall. These windows overlook the indoor training salon for the horses.
They suggest reservations for the evening, but our Friday visit wasn't too crowded. I suspect that varies a fair bit. They open at 11am, and the kitchen closes at 9pm (we left around 9:30pm, and we weren't the last).
The menu, while small, does give you a fair bit of choice. Pasta and fish dishes were offered, but were not picked by our dining crew. Instead....
Nora had a Virgin Mary, which when she got the bill, she rated as "a very expensive glass of tomato juice". She selected the Rack of Lamb ("marinated in garlic and dijon, baked with a coating of fresh herbs and finished with rosemary jus", $20.75). She found this dish to be one of the best she's ever had, with "very good spicing".
Dennis had the soup of the day ($4.95). This was Cream of Potato and Bacon. It came with a sprinkling of chives on top. A bit too much cream and not enough potato for my taste. Not good value for the money. I followed this with meal of the day ($19.95), which was for an 8 ounce prime rib. While not the best I've had, it was certainly a contender. I'd rank it above Ali Baba but below Traditions of the Conestoga.
Michael started off with Traditional German Potato Pancakes ("with sour cream, apple butter and homemade roast apple sauce", $7.50). These pancakes were made with shredded potatoes. Michael thought they were "very good, except for the burnt edges". And that the "apple butter is good, with a nice kick". Nora and I had to taste test, and agreed that the apple butter was very nice. He followed this with Hunter Schnitzel ("tenderized leg of pork, lightly breaded and panfried with mushrooms, smoked bacon and onion in demi-glaze", $15.75). He found everything around the schnitzel "very good" (see below). The schnitzel he found to be "bland, but the sauce made it work".
All the above meals came with a properly cooked vegetable mixture, which consisted of string beans, red & green peppers, zuchinni and cauliflower. And a bunch of potato balls (yes, little round scoops of potato about the size of a ball of chewing gum). Tasty.
A very enjoyable evening, until the bill came. 8-)
With tax and tip the bill for the 3 of us came to $100.
Recommended in the category of expensive restaurants with good food and atmosphere.
114 King Street North, Waterloo. 725-2361
Visited: Thursday, January 28, 1999
Ethel's has taken the interesting approach of leading you to expect little, and giving you more. As an example of this, the menu promises that if you don't speak up while ordering, the waitstaff will stuff you into the pizza oven. Now I have to admit I'm not normally attracted to restaurants that promise to do me bodily harm, but the joy of this club is that it takes me places I might not otherwise go!
This approach is not unique. Crabby Joe's also has a menu supposedly written by a cranky restaurant owner who tells you to eat what you get and you'd damn well better enjoy it. Ethel's ads show a surly-looking, poorly shaven cook informing you that his staff are known to sometimes wash their hands, and other such confidence-building stuff. Their Yellow Pages ad reads: "Great Food, Cold Drinks, Bad Attitude". Reverse psychology? Who knows?
Considering the crowd in Ethel's last Thursday night, the reverse psychology worked. There was a steady stream of customers in and out both at the bar and the tables. The bar fills up most of the centre of the restaurant, and the tables are arranged around it in a horseshoe shape. Ethel's was formerly a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and an extra-large, smiling Colonel Saunder's plastic cameo has a place of honour in the far corner of the room. Beyond that, the decorations are fairly sparse -- a hodgepodge of photos of people famous in the 1950's, and other odd memorabilia. The restaurant tends to be smoky.
Our waiter was good, and significantly less threatening than the menu warned. (Considering the high noise level in the restaurant, he was doing a great job just making himself heard above the hub-bub). The noise level dropped a bit when they started to play a very odd, jazz-bluesy version of the Stone's classic, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction". If Mick Jagger were dead, he'd be spinning in his grave at 72 rpm.
We got Cajun chicken strips and garlic cheese strips as appetizers. The chicken strips, in a spicy marmalade, were great. The heat snuck up on you, then whacked you in the back of the head with a tire iron. If you like spicy treats, go for them. The garlic cheese strips were boring.
The rest of the food ranged from middling to good. My Philly steak sandwich was probably the least exciting of all. Not bad by any means, but nothing special. The quesadillas and fajitas were nicely sized and spiced, and came to the table piping hot. Prices were reasonably, with most entrees coming in between $4.95 and $10.00. They had Waterloo Dark on tap, which qualifies as abstract beer.
Ethels gets thumbs up all around. As a place for a quiet meal, forget it, but for decent, spicy, Mexican style food, it fits the bill.
Estrada Cafe Restaurant
7 Moyer Place (Market Village), Kitchener. 578-9709
Visited: Friday, July 16, 1999
I had the following:
Beverage: a combination of cranberry juice, orange juice and soda water with a slice of lime ($2.25). The beverage was very refreshing.
Appetizer: stuffed (rice mixture) grilled calamari with roasted potatoes, spinach and sprigs of carrots, red peppers and green peppers ($7.95). The squid was very tender and very tasty. I don't recall what the sauce was other than it started with the letter "T", but it was very flavourful. Being a squid lover, I highly recommend this dish to all the squid lovers out there.
Main Course: grilled lamb chops in a pistachio demi-glaze with roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables (red and green peppers, carrots, zucchini) ($16.99). This dish was bone-licking fantastic. It's as good as the jerk lamb that I make. The dish was arranged with a thick chunk of bread (baguette) in the middle of the plate with half a new potato on top of this bread. The four lamb chops were arranged on-end around this bread. The vegetables were then placed around this centrepiece.
Service: The waitress was awesome. She was friendly, entertaining and she had quite the sense of humour -- she even did the cheese burger, cheese burger quotation. If you asked nicely, she'll even tell you a story about the wire dress made out of those little pom-poms found on tennis socks that were popular in the 1980's.
Warning: They preheat their dinner plates. They are very good about letting you know this so as to not to burn yourself.
Overall Rating: I would definitely return to this place. Although they had a limited menu, there were so many great items on it that I had a difficult time choosing.