Yellow Pages Dinner Club

The "G" Page

Last updated: 2000.10.29

Galleria Bistro and Cafe
101 Frederick Street, Kitchener. 744-8135
Non-visit: April 1999

Annette: I called them and found out several interesting things. They reopened two months ago under new management. They no longer are a sit down service type restaurant. They are now setup as a cafeteria-style format (i.e., get your hot foods from one location, your cold foods from another area and then go pay for it before you sit down and eat it. They are open 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. The kitchen closes at 3:00 p.m. Drinks are available between 3:00 p.m. and closing.

Needless to say, I've selected another location for this week's dinner night out.

Gatsby's Diner Pub & Patio
2979 King Street East (at Fairway Road), Kitchener. 893-8060
Visited: Friday, April 9, 1999

November/1999 update: It's been replaced by Fitzgerald's.

David: Gatsby's pretends to be a 1950's style diner with a few 1920's decorations (whence "Gatsby's"). Thus, it has booths around the outside, a chrome counter, vinyl topped stools, and a view into the kitchen. Such places always pale in my mind to the likes of the Checkerboard or the Harmony Lunch in terms of authenticity. The Harmony Lunch has been around since the 1950's (1940's?) after all, and doesn't need to trumpet the fact that it serves its milkshakes in metal containers -- that's the way they've always done it.
I shouldn't be too critical. Gatsby's does better than some in capturing the feel of a 1950's diner. After all, unless you've been around since then, you have to fake it. One major point in Gatsby's favour -- the walls are not filled to overflowing with 1950's memorabilia, the absence of velvet Elvis paintings being especially pleasing. On the whole Gatsby's is bright and open.
Gatsby's menu is large (both physically, and in terms of items) and varied. They offer a great deal of comfort food -- meatloaf, roast chicken, steak, mashed potatoes, clam chowder -- along with a few more 'modern' items. If you want to go the red meat overdose route, they offer a 16 ounce porterhouse steak. (Twenty years ago, in my testosterone fuelled teens, I would have leapt on it. Now, it would just be suicide -- I just can't do that any more. Sigh).
The food -- well, the food was fine. Probably the best of the lot was the clam chowder. It was thick and tasty, though it could have been brought to the table hotter. Special mention should also go to the spinach and mushroom salad. The mushrooms were nicely warm, and went very well with the spinach -- a good antidote for massive steaks. The worst was the linguini primavera, which was soggy. The rest of the dishes lay somewhere in between. Nothing exceptional either way.
This is a problem with reviewing average restaurants. There are no serious complaints, but no effusive praise to offer either. (Perhaps that's why I talked so much about the atmosphere). It seems pointless to give a rundown on each dish people ordered, only to say, "It was OK".
This is by no means a suggestion that you avoid Gatsby's. The service was prompt and pleasant, the prices were moderate (most dishes being between $6.95 and $12.95), and the atmosphere relaxing. If you want decent comfort food at a reasonable price, Gatsby's is not a bad choice.

Dennis: I had the roast beef dinner ($8.95). Lots of roast beef with baked potato (mashed, fries, or rice as an alternative), gravy and vegetables. The vegetables were a bit of a surprise, consisting of broccolli, green beans, zucchini and cherry tomatoes (According to one of the semi-regular customers, the vegetable selection varies week to week).
Overall, an enjoyable meal. A reasonably priced place with the dinner costing $105 (with tax & tip) for the 7 of us. A place I'm willing to revisit, but not high on my list of priorities.

The Golden Kiwi Pub
55 Dickson Street (at corner of Petty Place), Cambridge. 622-3722
First visit: Sunday, April 18, 1999
Tasted by: Annette, David, Nora, Gina.
Second Visit: Friday, October 6, 2000, 8pm.
Tasted by: Nora, Annette, Michael, Dennis, David, (Tasmin).

Dennis (Oct/00):
This is the second YPDC visit (first time for Michael, Dennis and Tasmin). It got just as favourable a review this time. Cuisine starts in New Zealand, then wanders the world with Thailand being the first stop.
Michael had the soup of the day. It was Tomato Bean Bacon, with an assortment of other vegetables and spices. "Quite good." He followed this with the Beef Burgundy Pie. He was somewhat taken aback by the size of it, but was very pleased to demolish it.
Nora had the Salad Special. "Excellent." Followed by the Lamb and Leek Pie. "Very good."
Dennis had the Fish & Chips (9.95). It came with fresh cut fries and a salad. Fish was lightly battered and very crisp. In a class by itself, very enjoyable.
Both David and Annette had the French Onion Soup. The soup got good to very good comments.
Annette also had a Grilled Shrimp and Scallop Salad. This is a warm salad which rated a "great!!" from Annette.
For the 5 of us the bill with tax (but not tip) came to $102. Good value for the quality of food. Recommended, especially if you don't mind travelling to downtown Galt.

David (Apr/99): The Golden Kiwi certainly lives up to its name. Hand-sized golden kiwis are stencilled on the walls and furniture throughout this unpretentious little English-style pub (along with some gators and animals I couldn't identify). The rest of the decor is nicely done in dark wood, stained glass, and brass. There is a single TV over the bar, which, although it's one TV too many, is a nice break from places that suffer from a surfeit of the boob tube.
The Golden Kiwi has a wide selection of abstract beers, though, interestingly enough, not Steinlager, a New Zealand brew (at least the waiter didn't mention it). The beers on tap are a nice selection of local and imports, and balanced between ales and lagers -- an excellent start to our evening.
Then menu is not large, but it is varied. Along with many of the usual pub grub items, there is a distinct Asian flavour, and a touch of Italy and Mexico. We started off with vegetable samosas. The samosas themselves were rather tame, but they were fried crispy without being greasy, and the accompanying chutney was lovely. We also had some deep-fried won-tons containing Mexican-style black bean. Although nice, they weren't as successful as the samosas, and partly lacked their grease-free snap.
The main courses, on the other hand, had few disappointments. Lacking liver and onions, Nora ordered a plateful of PEI mussels. The mussels were piled high, and well soaked in a lovely garlic sauce. (The sauce was good enough to sop up with bread when the mussels were gone). Gina had a curry chicken dish. Although not up to the level of an Indian restaurant like the Koh-I-Noor, it was still very nice, though its spice snuck up on you only after you'd had a bite. The side of pappadum (crunchy, flat, Indian style bread) didn't sneak at all. It simply attacked your tongue on the first bite. Excellent!
Annette astonished us by demolishing the Golden Kiwi Platter consisting of a steak, lamb chop, and beef sausages. The steak, although done to a turn, was nothing special. The lamb chops and sausages, on the other hand, were excellent. The wine sauce added flavour and tenderness to all the meats.
My rotini pasta with roasted vegetable sauce and garlic sausage was succulent. The garlic sausage added oomph without forcing me to be banished from the house.
Alas, we were not up to making a selection from their small list of desserts -- next time, perhaps.
Entrees ranged from $8.95 to $15.95 for the platter -- good value for the large portions served. The waiter was friendly and attentive, and gave excellent service. The four of us were quite taken with the Golden Kiwi, and we'll be back.

Grand China Restaurant
160 University Avenue West, Waterloo. 888-6600
Visited: Friday, April 23, 1999. 5:30pm

Dennis: I had good memories of my last visit (about 10 years ago), and this visit was even more enjoyable.
Our feast consisted of pan fried dumplings (quite good, but the sauce was a little salty); springrolls (tasty); beef with wide noodles; spicy salted squid (different -- batter was shake and bake style with hot red flakes); white rice; an army chicken dish (General Tso?, enjoyable); rice with vegetables (I quite liked); eggplant with garlic (praised by the 2 eggplant fans).
Our meal with drinks, tax & tip set the 5 of us back $80. Overall: A good chinese restaurant.

Golf's Steak House & Seafood
598 Lancaster Street West, Kitchener. 579-4050
Visited: Saturday, May 1, 1999. 8:00pm

Reservations recommended (particularily for the weekend).

Dennis: Good food (of the meat, seafood, potato and salad bat type) and (mostly) good service, but noisy and crowded on a Saturday night. The main sour note for the evening was the person who was doing the seating. It was evident that she'd received no training at all in how to properly handle reservations. The type of person who can only deal with one thing at a time. She made the wait to get seated very annoying.
The average meal cost for our party of 7 was $21. Not recommended for Saturday. The other days of the week should be OK.

David: For many years, Golf's was one of my favourite restaurants. I first went at Easter, 1982, having seen one of their ads promising a nice, intimate meal. I wasn't disappointed. The restaurant was (and is) very nice inside, done up in that typical dark wood and fabric steakhouse look. The wait staff is uniformed, competent, and polite, and the food is consistently good. The prices are excellent. Though by no means inexpensive, for $12.95 you get an 8 ounce cut of prime rib with soup, potato, garlic bread, and all-you-can-eat salad bar. This compares very favourably with places like the Keg that charge the same price, but for the meat and potato alone, without the trimmings. The prime rib may not be the best I've ever had, but it's darn close. I can think of restaurants in the area that serve its equivalent, but not its better.
The Sunday brunch at Golf's is awesome. The salad bar is large, and the selection of hot dishes, with only a few misses (why does *anyone* serve lasagna at Sunday buffets? I've never had a good one), excellent. The roast beef is especially nice. Again, the buffet is not inexpensive, but I've paid more and got less.
A number of times I've booked large dinners (conferences and the like) at Golf's, and always found them to be unfailing polite and helpful.

So why did I start out by saying, "... was one of my favourite restaurants." It's not that I dislike Golf's by any means, it's just that Golf's has become a victim of its own success. There was many a time I used Golf's as the setting for an intimate meal for two -- but no more, at least not on a Saturday night.
The club's meal was excellent. The food was very good, the staff was attentive, the company was good -- it was only the atmosphere that was lacking. Nora put her finger on it for me when she said it was like dining at a road house. Now, there were no inflatable beer ads hanging from the ceiling, but the noise and the bustle was like that of a road house. As they've grown busier over the years, it seems as though they've put more tables into the main dining area, thus crowding people closer together. Though there is no music playing, the sheer number of people in the place create a high level of background noise. It was difficult to talk across the table. On top of that, even with reservations, we had a long wait at the door.
As well, another aspect of the atmosphere has changed. Like many other places they have relaxed their dress code significantly. Now people come in shorts and jeans were before they wore ties and jackets. I'm far from being the world's snazziest dresser (I'm sartorially challenged), and I *hate* wearing ties, but I mourn the loss of a minimal standard of dress. I make it a point not to wear blue jeans to Golf's, but I'm one of the few it seems.
I'm not going to stop going to Golf's. The food is far too good, and the value far to high for me to stop. However, I'll starting going on week nights instead. I'm guessing that Tuesday or Wednesday is going to be a time much more conducive to those intimate dinners for two I miss.

Followup: David and Annette dropped into Golf's on a Tuesday and were pleased to find that "intimate dinners for two" were still available.

Gladys Country Kitchen
8 Bloomingdale (plaza at Bridge St), Kitchener. 744-1000
Visited: Saturday, May 8, 1999. 5:30pm

Dennis: Four of us had the turkey vegetable soup and it was quite good. Annette found the fish and chips to be "Really good." with the fish surrounded by a tasty batter. The menu declares that they use a home-made batter for the fish. Ruth had a cabbage roll, which she found to be quite large, but rather bland. Michael and I had variations on the roast beef dinner (he had mashed potatoes and I had fries). Both meals had beef that was dry, probably since was near the end of the day for the restaurant. We saved the meal by transfering the gravy on the potatoes to the beef. Which made us wonder why the beef didn't come with gravy in the first place. Johnathan had a chicken on a bun type meal which was ok. Nora had the worse luck. She had the liver ("gristly, tough, dry") and onions ("varying from uncooked to just right to dry"). The worse liver & onions she's had so far (I have noticed that she's shied away from having liver & onions since this visit).
An inexpensive restaurant, the 6 of us spent $55. This is an average diner with very inconsistant results. The type of place that accumulates a regular clientele that knows which dishes to avoid.

Good Fortune Chinese Restaurant
210 King St E, Kitchener. 745-4767
Visited: Saturday, May 15, 1999.

David: I was prepared to dislike Good Fortune. I went there for a meal with some of Annette's relatives a year or so ago, and had one of the vilest Chinese dishes I've ever had the misfortune to eat. I've forgotten the name, but the taste lingers. It was some kind of rice and seafood dish topped with cheese. Cheese is unheard of in Chinese cooking, and if this dish was any indication, I know why. My memories of the rest of the meal were obliterated by this evil concoction. Thus, I went to Good Fortune on Saturday with many trepidations.
I was pleasantly surprised. The dishes we choose ranged from adequate to very good.
The hot and sour soup was, for the most part, quite nice. It was reminiscent of King Tin hot and sour soup, being thick, reddish in colour, and with large chunks of tofu. Many other restaurants in town serve a form of hot and sour soup that is heavy on black pepper -- not bad, but I prefer the non-peppery kind. This doesn't mean the soup wasn't spicy, for it was, but it was a red chili pepper kind of spicy. (I'm not sure which soup style is more 'authentic' -- perhaps the difference is a regional one). The only drawback was the presence of peas and carrots in the soup, something we are not used to, so they seemed out of place.
The almond & vegetable, and crispy chicken dishes were the stars of the evening. I grew up on meat and potatoes punctuated by bowls of frozen corn. I've learned to appreciate a multitude of vegetables stir fried to perfection, and the almonds & vegetables had a lovely, subtle taste. The crispy salted chicken was enough to make the Colonel eat his heart out. Perhaps not the healthiest dish, but still very nice.
In the second rank was the Szechuan shrimp. Coming as it did immediately after the hot and sour soup, some of the edge was taken off it, but the shrimp were tender and plentiful, and the leftover sauce was useful in spicing up the salt-and-pepper squid. The squid dish was a disappointment. The squid itself was tender, and the breading was subtle as breading goes, but it was very plain. Dipping the squid pieces in the Szechuan shrimp sauce was the only way to spice it up. King Tin's spicy salt squid still reigns supreme.
The remaining dishes -- beef with black pepper, (ocean) perch with veggies, and Singapore vermicelli noodles -- were adequate. I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of Singapore style noodles. Although I like Indian curries, Chinese curries are not my favourite. Curry, after all, is simply a mixture of spices, and whatever is used in Chinese curry dishes is not a combination I enjoy.
The wait staff were helpful and had a great sense of humour (to put up with us, you have to have to have a sense of humour).
Good Fortune does dim sum daily -- with carts on the weekend, and by menu on weekdays.
Good Fortune is a perfectly adequate Chinese restaurant. They attempt to serve both the schlock Chinese food community, and those interested in more authentic dishes. Were it in a city with few choices in Chinese food, I might go more often. As it is, it faces stiff competition from places like King Tin and Cameron Seafood, making it unlikely that I'll become a regular at Good Fortune.

The Great Escape Eatery
583 King Street North (plaza at Northfield), Waterloo. 746-7178
Visited: Wednesday, May 19, 1999.

The Great Escape was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I know that isn't exactly a outstanding endorsement of the restaurant, so perhaps I should explain. I first went to the Great Escape about two years ago, when it was a relatively new restaurant. The details of the food and service escape me entirely -- all I was left with was a vivid impression of the place as a paragon of mediocrity. Not bad enough to get seriously worked up about, but not good enough to want to give it a second chance. Thus, it was with misgivings that I went as part of our club night.
In short, the service was good (our waitress was polite, had a sense of humour, and dealt well with children), and the food, though unspectacular, was a bit better than what I remembered. My corned beef on rye was certainly a cut above that at Dixie Lilly, for example (although that can be considered faint praise). One of our meals (Annette, Nora, and Dennis also attended), was actually pretty good -- I just no longer remember which one.
On the other hand, I can't think of a really good reason to drive out there for dinner again.

Nice decor, forgettable food.

The Great Canadian Sub Shop
270 Bleams Road, Kitchener. 895-0930
Visited: Sunday, May 30, 1999.

We discovered that they're not open on Sundays. As a result, there is no review. And since they close fairly early during the week it will be a bit of a challenge for the YPDC to actually visit. We concluded that they do most of their business with local industrial plants (Budd Automotive is just across the street).

Granny Bonn's Fish & Chips
90 Weber Street North, Waterloo (plaza at Lincoln). 885-5650
Visited: Friday, June 11, 1999. 6:00pm

Dennis: The fish was excellent. The fries, ordinary.
They do have a few other meal alternatives, but their specialty is a variety of fish & chip meals. They close early in the evening.
A good place to go if you're in the mood for an inexpensive meal of fish & chips.

Granny Bonn's has a minimalist approach to food service. Go to the counter at the back, order your food, have it brought to your table, dig in. Inexpensive fish and chips is the main offering, although you can get an indifferent burger if you insist.
In short, the fish is good as far as breaded fish goes, but the chips are not up to the fish's standard. (Dave's Restaurant provides a better balance that way). They were a little careless in their order taking, so that Nora ended up with two coleslaws instead of one.

xx King Street North, Waterloo. no phone number
Visited: Friday, June 18, 1999.

The Gaslight is yet another venerable Waterloo institution. I don't know which is older -- the Harmony Lunch, or the Gaslight, although I'd put my money on the Harmony Lunch. Our waitress, a kindly older woman, has probably been working at the Gaslight since it opened, around the turn of the century.
The Gaslight has solid, straightforward food at near rock-bottom prices. No abstract beer here, though you can order up a Blue or an Ex. Not much to say, really, that I haven't already said about places like the Checkerboard. Decent food at decent prices is the bottom line.

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