Yellow Pages Dinner Club

The "F" Page

Last updated: 2000.6.21

Failte Irish Pub
85 King Street North, Waterloo. 747-4530
Visited: Tuesday, February 9, 1999, 5pm

David: Failte (pronounced, according to the menu, Fall-cha), is a tiny Irish pub on King Street in Waterloo, right beside Kingsbridge Crossing (the former Olde English Parlour). With the little white house it's in, it even looks like an authentic Irish pub.
First, and most importantly, Failte has beer. Much abstract beer. Guinness, Kilkenny, Smithwicks, Harp, you name it. To me, there's nothing like a nice Guinness mustache to start off your evening. (Unfortunately, on me it just adds to my existing mustache, which isn't quite the effect I was hoping for).
The menu is varied, with such Irish staples as Guinness beef stew, meatloaf, Wicklow chicken, and hummus with pita. Well, obviously it isn't entirely Irish -- more generally representative of typical pub food in the area, but without the German accent so many of our pubs have. (I do believe they have schnitzel, however. Waterloo County bylaw 137 demands that any eating establishment in the area that serves beer must offer schnitzel as well).
I had the Irish stew. It was thick with meat and vegetables, and tasty to boot. The fact that it was made with Guinness adds just that touch of joy to it. Mike's potato and leek soup was nice. Nora and Gina both had a decent Wicklow chicken, a chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese.
The only disappointing part to me was the dessert. I was inveigled into having the chocolate blackout cake, and ended up with an overly sweet, commercial milk chocolate cake. Too many places now offer factory made desserts, indistinguishable from the rest.
The only drawback to Failte is its small size. We went on a Tuesday night to avoid the crowds and smokey atmosphere of nights later in the week. This way we missed out on the bands and singers they have on the weekends (generally Irish folksingers and the like), but our lungs thanked us.
Meals ranged from $4.95 for sandwiches to $12.95 for a steak. Service was good -- I even stopped the waitress halfway through her list of beers on tap in order to avoid tiring the poor woman out.
Enjoyable food, relaxed atmosphere (on a Tuesday), great beer. I recommend the Failte.

Fastbreaks Restaurant & Catering
180 Columbia Street West (near railway tracks), Waterloo. 747-9500
Visited: Friday, February 5, 1999

Mar/99 Update: The week after our visit they came out with a new menu (and increased some of their prices). No major impact on our reviews.

Dennis: This place was rather busy Friday night. So our group of 8 got split into 2 tables of 4 in different areas of the restaurant. If we'd arrived at 7:30pm, it would have been a different matter, as they became less busy.
I had the special, which was chicken cordon bleu with cream, swiss mushroom sauce, with mashed potatoes and vegetables for $10.95. Excellent. Paul suggested that the mashed potatoes were really mashed scalloped potatoes. They could have been; they were much nicer and spicier than your average bland potato mush. The vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower) were cooked just right.
I managed to avoid the desserts. My companions couldn't resist. Very rich and chocolaty for the most part.
Good food at reasonable prices. Recommended.

David: Fastbreaks is buried amongst the high tech companies north of the University of Waterloo campus, a location that would normally not catch your eye. The restaurant itself is fairly small, and has an open kitchen. It is usually quite busy at lunch and dinner (as I discovered to my regret when I didn't make reservations, and got into trouble with my fellow diners for -- we ended up with two tables of four).
The menu is varied, serving a few items in the Italian, Asian, Mexican, and Canadian categories. The prices are very good - some of the best value-for-money around.
I won't go into too much detail, other than to say the food was very good, the wait staff was friendly and efficient, and I got the last piece of chocolate fudge cake. (Ha, ha!)
Many thumbs up for Fastbreaks.

2979 King E (at Fairway), Kitchener, 893-8060.
Visited: Thursday, April 20, 7pm.
Tasted by: Nora, Karl, Annette, Dennis..

This is the former location of Gatsby's. The new owners have redecorated. From the decorations I'd say they where aiming at the feel of a particular time era (something in the 1968-1971 era). From my memories I think they were successful.
Weather warning: You may find some of the booths (we had a corner booth) a little cold (particularly on a windy, stormy night).
There is a wide range of choice of items on the menu. But they don't serve all day breakfast like Gatsby's used to do (Annette was hoping for pancakes).
Most of the prices are in the $6-15 range, with one item at $199. Yes, for $199 you can get the "Special Occasion Wings". This delight features a pound of wings, celery & carrot sticks and a bottle of Dom Perignon.
Karl had a fancy hamburger with lots of cheese. He found the meat a little dry, and would have preferred a slightly flatter meat patty, rather than the baseball shape it came in. Definitely homemade. Overall rating for his meal was: okay.
Annette had a steak dinner. She found the steak to very good, the potatoes tasty, but on the cold side, and the vegetables were overcooked. Orville insisted that she take the leftover steak and potatoes home for later.
Nora had a caesar salad (very good). Followed by some mussels, which she rated as the absolute worst she's ever had in the K-W area.
I had poutine to start ($3.75). It was excellent, featuring lots of real cheese. I followed this with "Fitz's Fave" ($6.99). This was a 3 egg omelette stuffed with roast turkey, onion and mozzarella cheese. With toast and your choice of salad or fries. I was too stuffed to finish it. Pretty good.
Overall: The 4 of us spent $74 with tax and tip. A rather uneven output from the kitchen, with some good stuff and some bad stuff. They may want to consider paring the menu down a bit to focus on the things they do well.

Florian's Restaurant & Bar
100 Victoria Street North, Kitchener. 742-6570
Visited: Saturday, February 27, 1999

David: The best thing about Florian's was the food at Bamboo Hut.
Yes, we had a first. For the first time we went into a restaurant and didn't eat there, and it was all a matter of timing.
Florian's is medium sized bar on the second floor of the Station Plaza at the corner of Weber and Victoria in Kitchener. The night we arrived, a local band was just tuning up. Now, I'm not noted for the delicacy and accuracy of my hearing and musical taste, but Annette, Gina, and Paul assured me that these guys couldn't even tune their instruments, let alone play them well. This can go a long way to putting you off your appetite.
We ordered drinks, and asked for a menu. The waitress informed us that the menus were old, and most of the items listed were not available. It turns out that Florian's changed owners a month ago, and is no longer a European bar and restaurant, but rather a bar and pool hall that serves wings, fries, and onion rings. The original menu wasn't huge, but it did have schnitzel, goulash, and other European delights.
The customers were mainly smokers -- there were a few no smoking signs along the walls, but their effect was negated by the ashtrays on the tables immediately below the signs. Fortunately, it was early enough in the evening that we weren't overwhelmed by the noxious weed.
Thus we decided to finish up our beer and move on. It's possible, just possible, that Florian's wings, fries, and rings were stunningly good -- but I doubt it. A month ago I would imagine that this would have been a very different review, but then again it would have been outdated very quickly. In the end, Florian's gets no rating since it really isn't a restaurant any more.

The Flying Dog
341 Marsland Drive, Waterloo. 886-7730
Visited: Friday, March 5, 1999. 6pm

David: The Flying Dog, as well as being a restaurant, houses a dance club (The Revolution) and a number of pool tables. The restaurant itself lies on two sides of the elevated pool table area. The bar lies in between the two. We were there early enough on a Friday that the restaurant and pool areas were not yet crowded, as they become later in the evening.
The calamari appetizer was nice. The squid was perfectly cooked -- not chewy in the least. The batter was thin, but perhaps a bit underdone.
I also ordered a roasted onion soup, better known as French onion soup au gratin. The vast majority of French onion soups are either bland salty. This one erred on the side of saltiness, though not extremely so. Given a choice between bland and salty, I'll go for salty -- though I'd by far prefer somewhere in the middle.
I ordered the Thai Swords, a meal of skewered chicken, shrimp, and veggies on a bed of basmati rice. The food was reasonably plentiful, but boring as hell. It came with teriyaki sauce on the side, but nothing whatsoever had been put onto the food while it cooked. The teriyaki sauce itself was too strong to be used 'raw' -- it would have been much better put onto the skewers while they cooked. I was very disappointed with my dish.
Worst of all, a pint of Guinness (with tax) was $6.24! Simply put, I can get it much cheaper elsewhere in town. Overall the Flying Dog was somewhat expensive, though not at the Bella Nina level, for example.
Alas, I didn't pay close attention to the meal choices of my companions (Annette, Nora, Gina, and Michael) that evening, so there's little I can say about their meals.
The Flying Dog gets a thumbs down from me this time. I can get bland food at the Dixie Lilly Bar, Grill, and Laundromat for a quarter the price!

Fool on the Hill
384 King Street North (next to Tim Horton's), Waterloo. 893-3909
Visited: Thursday, March 11, 1999.

Spring/2000: It's gone. On another note, the April/2000 Telus Locator Phone Book has a listing for "Food on the Hill".

David: Fool on the Hill is a British style pub, very similar in look to the Fox and Pheasant. Lots of dark wood railings and pillars, ornate brocade on the couches and chairs, and over 20 different varieties of draft.
It's a fairly loud place, though the sound came from conversation, rather than loud music or TVs. There were half a dozen televisions ranged around the main room, all of them inexplicably tuned to the golf channel, but none of them had the sound turned on.
The menu was extensive and interesting. Though there were a few bad puns ("Liverpool and Onions", for one), most of the menu was straightforward. There was the requisite British fare, such as fish and chips, and bangers and mash, but quite a few other options.
Dennis went for the fish and chips, and pronounced his hearty portion as very nice. The one odd thing about it was the spicy cole slaw. It had quite a bite to it -- definitely not expected.
Nora ordered the liver and onions, and though not quite as good as Janet Lynn's version (Janet Lynn's is the Nirvana of liver and onion-ness), it was still very good. Tender, devoid of gristle, and done just right.
Annette had the beef ribs. Although they were pretty decent beef ribs, what amazed me is the way that Annette can strip those things right down to the bone. They look as though they have been polished after she gets done with them. Even she can't tell me just how she manages that.
I ordered the foccacia sandwich. It was very similar to the Stromboli sandwich I had at Del Dente's -- a top and bottom layer of foccacia bread, with cheese, mushroom, and chicken in the centre, and tomato sauce for dipping. Overall, quite nice. Not quite a pizza, but not quite a sandwich. (There's probably an advertising campaign in there somewhere).
Michael had a meal he liked, but the details escape me.
The meals were moderately priced, and ranged from $6.95 for sandwiches to $15.95 for steaks.
Overall, I give the Fool on the Hill a thumbs up. Although there was noise and smoke, neither was overwhelming. The food and drink was good, the prices were fine, and the wait staff was friendly. Well worth a visit for a night of casual dining.

Michael: I had the soup of the day (corn chowder) and the Steak & Mushroom Pie with mashed potatoes. Very good, though it could have used a few more mushrooms (but that's me, most people would probably find it just fine). Definitely needed to let it cool down though, as it was almost too hot when it first arrived -- which is fine. You can always let food cool down, heating it up is much more cumbersome to accomplish.

Dennis: This is an English-style pub, lots of wood and comfy chairs and benches. It's divided into 3 basic areas (bar area, pool room and eating area). A bit on the noisy side when we arrived at 7pm, due to the fact that the place was very busy (the parking lot was full when I arrived).
The food choices looked like traditional British fare with an East Indian influence. I had the 2 piece fish and chips ($7.99) and was somewhat surprised at the size of the fish fillets (what some other places would break in two and serve as a 4 piece). The zesty coleslaw was rather hot. The dressing was sort of chili pepperish. Too hot to eat as a coleslaw; I started using it as a dipping sauce towards the end of the meal (to good effect).
Annette had the ribs. The size of the ribs was rather impressive, more dinosaur sized than beef.
The 5 of us spent $77 for our meal (with tax & tip).
Overall, if you're in the mood for a british-style pub, this one is quite acceptable. Good food at reasonable prices. But you may find it hard to get a parking spot.

Fox and Pheasant (Waterloo) Ltd
140 University Avenue West, Waterloo. 725-4140
Visited: Saturday, March 20, 1999, 5pm.

March 2000: Ran into financial difficulty and it's gone.

David: First, Fool on the Hill then Fox and Pheasant. Both are English style pubs done up in dark wood and comfy seating. Both have many brands of beer on tap (a definite plus). Both are lively in the evenings. It's hard to tell one from the other.
The Fox's menu is not quite as extensive as the Fool's menu, but offers typical roadhouse fare (garlic bread, wings, burgers) as well as typical British fare (meat pies, bangers & mash). The wait staff was pleasant and attentive.
Annette and Michael had Irish stew, and though it wasn't as thick as that offered by the Failte, it was still quite nice. Annette's follow-up veggie plate was heaped high with veggies, a decent addition to the stew. Michael continued on with a garlic and mushroom pasta which smelled wonderful, but tasted fairly bland. All of the flavour went into the olfactory experience.
Jonathan had a greek salad and salmon pie. As a devotee of sashimi, I'm always sad to see a nice orange salmon cooked to a dull grey. In this case, alas, the taste matched the colour.
Dennis had a peameal bacon and cheddar cheese sandwich that was very substantial. His only complaint was that it could have been a bit warmer.
Nora, ordered liver and onions. She proclaimed it spectacular, second only to Janet Lynn's version. She was so eloquent in its praise, that I even tried some. Let's just say that liver and onions is an acquired taste.
I ordered a warm chicken salad that had slices of chicken, mushrooms, and almonds in a warm barbecue sauce over salad greens. For the most part, it was quite nice. Plentiful chicken, crunchy almonds, and tasty greens. Only the surfeit of sauce by the time I reached the bottom of the plate detracted from the dish.
The meals ranged from $6.95 to $10.95. There is a non-smoking section that in the evenings is difficult to tell from the smoking sections. One big screen TV and half-a-dozen smaller ones dot the room, all tuned to a sports channel. At least in the early evening the restaurant was not too loud.
The verdict: pleasant, but uninspired. A reasonable place to have a good beer and a decent meal at a decent price, but no more than that.

Dennis: I had a cheddar and back bacon sandwich ($6.95) with a small caesar salad ($1.95). The salad was quite enjoyable. The main item had lots of back bacon, but suffered from the "bring everything to the table at the same time" problem of having cooled off a bit (not a good thing with melted cheese). I had a baked potato instead of fries. They could have used a better quality potato. I enjoy eating potato skins, but passed on this one. The insides were okay.
When compared to Fool on the Hill this restaurant falls short in a number of areas. The menu selection is more restrictive, the place was smokier (even though we were there at 5pm rather than 7pm), and the overall layout was not as inviting. Prices are similar; our group of 6 spent about $85.
This place isn't bad, but there are better "English-style pub" places in this area to eat at.

Franklin Pizzeria & Restaurant
2399 Kingsway Drive (at Franklin), Kitchener. 893-0955
Visited: Thursday, March 25, 1999

David: Franklin Pizza is a small, unassuming pizzeria overlooking Highway 8 at the south end of Kitchener. What sets it apart from most other small, unassuming pizzerias are the decorations (right down to the table cloths) for Pilsener Urquell beer. Pilsener Urquell is the export name for Prazdroj, a Czech beer I knew and loved when I taught English in Slovakia. It's considered (with good reason) to be a premium Czech lager, and is brewed in Plsen (whence 'pilsener beer'). One of the owners of Franklin's is Czech, and has brought the Czech passion for beer to their pizzeria. Needless to say, last Thursday I indulged in a bottle of Pilsener Urquell.
Franklin Pizza has a typical pizzeria menu consisting of pizza, pasta, and wings. Having had the pizza there before, I opted for the small lasagna and a Caesar salad. The salad was unexceptional, and the lasagna was fine, but the value was excellent. The small lasagna, at $4.99, was a very decent size. The large would have done me in.
Annette ordered the potato pizza. The potato pizza consisted of thinly sliced and spiced potatoes on a pizza crust. It tasted very nice, but to my mind would make a better shared appetizer than a main meal, for it has far too much starch for my liking. Annette also had the wings. The wings were very nice -- large and juicy -- though we should have gone for the hot wings. Our waitress, a very polite and attentive woman, told us that the medium wings were hot enough for her, but admitted to being a spice wimp. They also have Suicide and Death sauces, though I've never seen the attraction in food that holds the promise of death. (An aside: If Suicide has been superseded by Death, what's the next level? Massive Destruction? Genocide? "I'd like wings with Heat Death of the Universe sauce, please." The mind boggles.)
Michael asked for a pizza with a thick crust. He carries boyhood memories of thick-crusted pizzas from the Greek pizzeria of his home town. He wasn't disappointed. Though it may not have ranked up there with his boyhood memories (and what food ever could?), he was still very satisfied. Franklin is now at the top of his list for pizza.
Dennis had a home-made beef vegetable soup which attempted to make in size what it lacked in flavour. It was by no means unpleasant, merely bland. His panzerotti on the other hand, was very good. Given a choice of baked or deep-fried he wisely went for the baked (my biases showing through), and received golden-brown dough wrapped around a hearty helping of fillings.
Franklin Pizza is a good choice for a decent, non-assembly line pizza. They also offer gourmet white pizzas as well as the typical pepperoni style. The prices are very good, and of course, they carry Czech beer. What more can you ask for?

Dennis: Franklin Pizza is a well lit restaurant, with 7 or 8 tables and a small bar (4 or 5 stools in length). We were the only eat-in customers (the rest were all take-out).
I had the soup of day ($2.29). This eventually turned out to be beef vegetable. It came in a bowl suitable for holding an ostrich egg. Lots of vegetables (including some I couldn't identify) and beef. Very filling, but surprisingly on the bland side.
I followed this with a baked panzerotti ($5.95). This is stuffed with 3 items of your choice. I picked bacon, ham and mushrooms. Quite large, very filling and very tasty.
I sampled Annette's potato pizza. This consisted of a pizza crust made with potato flour, covered with thinly sliced potatoes, olive oil, and a sprinkling of herbs and spices. A nice treat.
This restaurant makes my list of "restaurants I want to return to". Their broccoli, garlic & cheese pizza (which the waitress said was really good with bacon), deserves my attention on a future visit.

Frederick's Restaurant
58 Frederick (at Duke), Kitchener. 742-0231
Visited: Thursday, April 1, 1999, 6:30pm.

David: Frederick's is a cosy little restaurant. It is light and airy inside with two glass walls overlooking the sidewalk, and lots of plants hanging about. It closes early in the evenings, and thus is meant primarily for the lunch crowd. Still, their menu is extensive, and leans towards typically Greek-Canadian food -- souvlaki, kabobs, gyros, etc.
(I say Greek-Canadian because like Chinese-Canadian or any other hyphenated Canadian food, it tends towards unthreatening dishes that are heavy with meat. This is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, but it is light years away from Greek-Greek cooking. The marinated octopus at the Greek Garden in Guelph, for example, is stunningly good, but not for the faint of heart).
We started with a few appetizers; garlic bread, french onion soup, and escargot. Both the garlic bread and french onion soup were heavy with cheese, a welcome change from the places that treat cheese as precious commodity to be doled out sparingly -- probably with the fear that the customers will have coronaries from immediately clogged arteries. The escargot were also heavy with cheese -- too much cheese, alas. (This may seem inconsistent with my immediately preceding statements -- well, it is. Although I normally claim that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, too much cheese on escargot is an exception). The french onion soup, though not stunning, walked that tightrope between too bland and too salty very well. There is so much mediocre french onion soup out there that it's nice to run into an exception.
Annette had the liver and onions and pronounced it very good. Although Janet Lynne's holds the record for Stunningly Good Liver and Onions, Frederick's was a strong contender for first place in the second tier.
Of the Greek-Canadian dishes we ordered (chicken brochette, souvlaki, and mixed kebab), nothing leapt out as amazingly good, nor as completely inedible. They ranged from perfectly acceptable to slightly too chewy -- in the middle of the pack. Michael's home fries were very good, but too plentiful. Luckily, Michael doesn't mind leftovers.
The prices at Frederick's were very good. Our meals (usually with salad and rice or potatoes) ranged from $6.95 to $10.95, and bought large plates full of food. They have a narrow range of domestic beers (nothing abstract), and quick, pleasant service.
Frederick's is a decent place to have a quiet early-evening meal at a good price. If you like Greek-Canadian food (or just plain-old Canadian comfort food), you could do far worse than Frederick's, and not necessarily a lot better for the price.

Freaky Bob's Restaurant
1051 Victoria Street North, Kitchener.
Visited: Wednesday, December 29, 1999, 7pm.

April 2000 update: After 4 months, it's gone. I suspect a bad choice in a restaurant name was a big factor in this outcome. -dennis

This is a new canadian-greek restaurant that opened up in December 1999 at the former Wendy's location (across from Canadian Tire). They've completely remodeled. There is a separate bar area and a large dining area (the outside walls are lined with booths). Nicely lit. They did a good job.
One page of the menu is devoted to greek items. None of the group (Nora, Gina, Annette, David, Michael and Dennis) was adventurous enough to try that section of the menu.
I had the fish (sole) & chips and a hot chocolate for $13.50 (with tax and tip). I've had better fish.
Annette, David and Michael tried the special of the day which was new york steak ($13.95). They all said it was okay, but would rather spend a few dollars more and go to Golf's Steak House.
Nora asked the waitress for a recommendation and was delighted with the recommended choice of lamb.
Gina had a delicious home made hamburger.
I'll be back, but mainly because (for me) it's a neighbourhood restaurant.

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