Category Archives: Other Reviews

Here is where we’ll place reviews for unique stores and other places.

Hooters review

While this certainly is not a “restaurant” and generally I don’t review bars/pubs/etc I feel compelled to do so on this one occasion. I really wish I’d had my camera for this.

I used to really enjoy going out a couple of times per month and indulging in a heaping pile of chicken wings and a wobbly-pop or three. These days I refrain from doing so more than say once a year due to my having discovered just how bad these tasty treats are for me.

So recently I caved in and having not done the “wing thing” in more than a year I justified treating myself to a limited number, in this case only 20. (hey , that’s nothing I’ve downed 120 before)

I didn’t feel like hunting around for a place and being only a few blocks from the NE Hooters location I figured they would do in satisfying my unhealthy urges on this particular occasion (hey I’m referring to the chicken wings here, okay?).

I ordered 20 “naked” wings -hot of course- a beer and some onion rings. The waitress was nice and brought me a paper to read while I waited. My beer was brought right away as well.

When the wings came I had to take a minute to let what I saw sink in, I have never seen chicken wings that were so small in my life. I remember having this same order at this very location in the past and receiving a hot, heaping pile of big wings that covered the platter it was served on. This scattering of pigeon-esque flight appendages was a mere shadow of what I’d expected and sat one or two deep in the middle of the mostly vacant platter. Now I was hungry and while disappointed I still ate these sad little flappers and drumettes, I did have to adjust my technique however as it proved difficult to even separate the tips and bones. It was impossible to just pick one up and eat as just to get a grip on the things was very difficult since most of it was covered with my not exactly sausage-like fingers. Now you know what a “drumette” is supposed to look like right? Yeah, a smaller version of a drumstick. Well these looked more like fingers, no plump piece of meat to bite off just a slight bump of mostly skin.

If these did in fact come from chickens I can just see the farm-yard and what it looked like while these things were alive…. They probably sat in front of the x-box all day long and were the ones chosen last for dodge-ball at school. You know, the skinny nerdy guys the other chickens picked on all the time, who developed slowly and I’m guessing had no breasts to speak of.

All kidding aside this was a very expensive and pathetic serving of skin and bones covered with hot sauce. The rings were actually pretty good and while over-priced I did enjoy them. Likewise for the beer, I got the brand I wanted and it was fresh and cold but also more money than it should have been. All in for the 20 wings, rings and two beer I paid over $40 and gave a $5 tip to the waitress who did provide good service (get your mind out of the gutter).

For the nearly $50 per person it cost for this truly sad meal I can go almost anywhere in the city and dine on actual food that is well made and fills me up. I will take a little more time in deciding where to get my next wing-fix and am never going to darken the door of Hooters ever again.

Hooters (2730 23 St) on Urbanspoon

Lloyd’s Patty Plus review

There’s a saying in business that applies to finding a niche. “Do one thing and do it better than anybody else”. This is something that can be taken too far and in the food business must be applied carefully. I’ve seen small places that made just a few dishes of a very specific ethnic food that were not able to attract the numbers they should have because they only served such a limited menu. Despite being great at what they did make they are now out of business.

Sometimes though the extreme application of this can make for success. Case in point would be Lloyd’s Patty Plus located in Short Pants Plaza(yeah, that’s the name) in Calgary’s NE. This place only makes Jamaican Patties, and has been quite a success. Okay you can pick up a few other Jamaican baked items such as coco bread as well – hence the “Plus”, but it’s all about the patties.

Jamaican patties are the meat filled turnover type pies you can often find at C Stores and in the deli section at supermarkets and are quite a popular snack. They’re recognisable by the yellow pastry which is a result of the egg yolk and turmeric used in the dough. You’ll only find beef or chicken filled ones in town although in Jamaica the fillings can include vegetables, shrimp, lobster, fish, soy, curry or cheese. I’ve loved them for years but have only ever had the reheated ones with the soft pastry. I always wanted to sample freshly made ones with crispy crust.

I heard of Lloyd’s by reading a post about them on Foodosophy and being someone who really likes hot Jamaican patties I had to make a point of dropping in to try their offerings.

Short Pants Plaza is a goldmine of small ethnic places and I’ve made a mental note to go back and investigate further the stores around Lloyd’s. This is a strip mall but it’s not in a residential area like one would expect. A very odd location in my view.

When you enter Lloyd’s you’ll see that it’s not a restaurant or lunch counter, there are a few tables, a cooler and the counter where you can order your patties.  As it turns out I’ve likely had Lloyd’s patties before as this is a wholesale bakery which makes and packages Jamaican patties for sale by others in the city, the retail side is a small part of what they do.

Lloyd’s offers only chicken and beef patties in either spicy hot or mild varieties and in as large a number as you want. You can buy ready to eat/hot out of the oven patties or ones to cook at home. I bought fresh hot ones and was in too much a hurry as is evidenced by my burnt tongue.

The patties are terrific. I tried both the spicy and milder versions of the beef filling and they are without a doubt the best I’ve tried. I would love to sample one with real scotch bonnet pepper but I can understand why they offer this at Lloyd’s. The scotch bonnet is third in scoville units of heat behind the bhut jolokia and red savina habanero peppers so most would not appreciate the addition of it to their food.

What more can I say? these are outstanding patties and I’ll be returning for more on many future dates, you can bet on it.

Lloyd’s Patty Plus on Urbanspoon

Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival Review

It’s Autumn yet again so Nancy and I have once more visited the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival in Calgary. After the ticketing problems we had at last years’ show we were not exactly sure we would attend this year despite my having gone in many years past. Last year we were given only half the tickets we’d purchased and found ourselves running out very quickly, having to then purchase more tickets to make up for what we’d not been given. Now, this is partly our own fault having not counted the tickets at the booth and even more so since while buying there was a man at the next window complaining that he’d not received what he paid for. The people who put the shoe on were very nice and had told us that they’d give us door and sampling tickets to the 2009 show. Unfortunately they never did send us anything and we just believed if we went to the show this year we’d be paying ourselves. I decided to give them one more chance and e-mailed them a copy of the e-mail we’d received and responded to asking for our address to send the tickets to us. I didn’t expect much as the show started the next day. The show staff responded quickly however and it was all arranged for us to pick up a package containing tickets at the event which saved us about $150 and is much appreciated.

We attended the show on Friday evening and showed up shortly after they opened the door in order to see as much as we could before the crowds got too bad. Our tickets were waiting for us so we picked up our sampling glasses and went inside. The floor was laid out as it always is with booths of wine, beer and liquor vendors selling samples of the newest offerings, and booths occupied by local restaurants sampling some of the items from their menus.

We went up and down the rows of booths and tried some nice wines and beers (and some that were not so nice). I sampled a few good whiskeys as well, one in particular that caught my attention was a whiskey that is made in India called Amrut and in particular the peated version which I found very interesting and rather enjoyable despite being such a young whiskey.

AmrutIndia’s largest distillery, Amrut is based in Bangalore. The state of Karnataka is where this distillery is located and was founded in 1948 by Radhakrishna Jagdale who initially produced only liqueurs. Amrut so far is the only Indian distillery with grand aspirations of conquering the European and North American markets. Their first single malt only became available at the tail end of 2004 and this one was only matured for only 3/4 years, and is now quite widely available in many countries.

We also sampled food from many of the restaurants including Char|Cut Roast House which is due to open in December, the new Spur Gastropub and the Blue Dog cafe in Cochrane which offers a New Orleans Cajun influenced menu the samples from which we enjoyed but found somewhat bland for this type of food. Many other local restaurants were present and some of the food was quite good. I like being able to sample so many things in one place which is the main reason I go to this event.

On the whole the show was what we’d come to expect and their was a fair amount of food and booze to sample, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it has become more of a place to be seen rather than a place for food, wine and beer lovers to indulge their passions, far too many of those attending seemed to be more interested in “hanging out”, getting drunk and yapping with friends about their “vast knowledge” of fine wine and haute cuisine then actually getting information on new offerings and restaurants. There were the snobs who seem to believe they are in the know about the latest trendy cuisine which they invariably mispronounced when speaking of it, and the people who don’t know what good food is. One latter such fellow was one we spoke with and was eating his second large helping of Nigiri sushi from the booth for Kinjo because it is so “amazingly fresh” and he loves great sushi. This same guy informed us that aside from Kinjo he also frequented sushi great sushi bars as Sushi BBQ Inn on 16th avenue which has to be the worst sushi in town. I hate to sound like a snob myself but so many of these folks were dressed up and having had several samples of hard liquor were loudly and drunkenly talking in groups that within a couple of hours of opening had clogged the show to the point it was unpleasant to try and move about.

If you love food and enjoy your liquids I do recommend that you give the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food festival a try but go early on either Thursday or Friday and know that you will spend about $100 per person to get a good sample of what is on offer.

Italian Pizza & Subs Review

Having visited North Carolina in the past to see friends I’ve had the chance to try the local versions of food I would eat at home and sometimes I’m surprised by what I find, usually this surprise is a bad thing because I discover that what I’m used to is really much better than what is available in small towns and cities outside Canada and I’ve decided that I have to just accept that fact. However sometimes that idea is thrown for a loop and the opposite occurs, a small out of the way place will have amazing food that I’m completely taken of guard by. Such is the case with Italian Pizza & Subs in Wilson, North Carolina, a small eatery in a nondescript strip mall that for all the world looks like nothing too special and one I just happened to decide to try.

I’m used to mediocre Italian food in Calgary, at least as far as the small local places one would order take away or have food delivered from. The lasagna, pizza and sandwiches all taste the same to me and I really don’t have a clear favorite in this category as a result. You can imagine my surprise when I entered this basic looking place and ordered a pizza only to discover a great tasting crust, flavorful sauce and excellent toppings. I was really happy and from the number of people ordering I could see that I was not the only one.

That was a few years ago, now fast forward to 2009, I’m in Wilson with Nancy to visit friends prior to heading down to Florida for a month and we’re driving around looking at the town and just relaxing when we decide that we’re hungry and it’s time for lunch. I see out of the corner of my eye a place I’ve enjoyed in the past and ask Nancy if she wants pizza, she says no but would like to try their pasta.

We ordered spaghetti for her and a cheese steak sandwich for me. After liking the pizza I was hoping the sandwich would be good as well.  I had nothing to worry about, the cheese steak was great with tender delicious meat and lots of cheese in a truly fresh bun that was crisp on the outside and light & fluffy on the inside, the sauce was full of flavor and I loved every bite. Nancy really enjoyed her food as well and while I never sampled it I’m sure the sauce was just as good as the one on the pizza.

You never really can tell just what you’ll find when you try a random place for a bite.

Italian Pizza & Subs on Urbanspoon

Rib Hut Review

Tucked away in a strip mall in Wilson, North Carolina is a real gem of a place that I can’t pass up the chance to visit whenever I drop in on my friends who live there.

Having dined at Rib Hut on previous visits to North Carolina and enjoyed it I was more than happy to go again with Nancy when the option was given as a place for all of us to head out for dinner after we’d flown in.

Rib Hut is an odd little place, the restaurant is decorated in what can only be described as a “Hawaiian Tiki playroom” motif with palm trees adorning the walls and colors that Nancy simply labels as “wrong”, with this and the name I’m guessing the “Hut” in Rib Hut is supposed to be on a beach somewhere although I’m not sure how that ties in with Southern BBQ. There is a small kids play area/karaoke stage at one end and several small tables and booths for dining.

Despite the disturbing decor the place is one I will return to again and again, the staff are great and really friendly, taking the opportunity to chat with customers whenever they can but they do tend to be quite slow, even for the laid back Southern style one must expect in this part of the country, they are always watching to see if you need a refill of pop or bread or another order of fried corn on the cob but the meals themselves were painfully slow to arrive and our dinner took hours.

The food is great and I have developed a real thing for Eastern Carolina’s ribs, these are not the sticky sauce covered ribs often associated with BBQ but rather are a smoked rib in a vinegar based sauce that are a real treat for the meat lover. The other items on the menu are just as delicious, some of these are the aforementioned fried corn on the cob (which is really good), chicken, and the ever present pulled pork. The menu isn’t large but you will find something you love and will not leave hungry.

If you are ever passing through Wilson North Carolina and are in the mood for good BBQ you should give some thought to dropping by Rib Hut

Rib Hut on Urbanspoon

Anne’s Donuts & Bakery Review

We decided to visit Anne’s after being told that the donuts were freshly made and so good that my friend Pierre buys boxes of them a couple times a week to take into work for the staff, yeah this happens in Canada fairly often on Fridays with Tim Horton’s but since this is North Carolina and we kept hearing about how good the treats were we had no choice but to drop in.

When we arrived we were surprised to find the place empty of customers, we’d expected that even though the morning commuter rush was over they would still have customers eager to sample what we’d heard were amazing donuts. We were sad to see that the displays were very nearly picked clean and our selection was limited but I’m guessing that the staff goes hard to meet demand early and then whatever is left is for the rest of the day.

We selected a couple of what we thought were somewhat small treats and proceeded to have at them, we were both a little disappointed in what we had and found the pastry tough and flavorless. After such a buildup from locals we really had high hopes for what we thought would be melt in the mouth, sweet, creamy treats.

Maybe the good stuff disappears in the morning and the dregs are left for the less fortunate who arrive after 9 am but given what we tasted it’s no wonder that Tim Horton’s is starting to catch on south of the 49th.

Anne's Donuts & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Cattails Restaurant Review

Perched atop Five County Stadium in Zebulon North Carolina you’ll find Cattails. This upscale restaurant and buffet is claimed to be 5 star and while I certainly wouldn’t give it that kind of rating I was somewhat impressed with the food or at least with the types of food they served as opposed to the overall quality. We were watching a game on the 4th of July and the buffet was being offered when we visited.

The problem was that we were on second seating and as a result of this it seems that the kitchen takes a break or just doesn’t pay as much attention to those dining later. While the selection of food was good and the choices looked very nice some of the dishes that were depleted during the first seating were never replenished while we were dining and thus we never got to try some of the food, in one case at least they had run out of the dish entirely and much of what remained was not hot.

The food we did have was well prepared and the ingredients were of fairly high quality as far as we could tell, as I’ve found with other places in the South there was a distinct lack of veggies on offer and being a meat lover I’m fine with this.

If you happen to be in the area and maybe are checking out a Mudcats game you might want to give this place a try but I’d ask for first seating if you want to really enjoy the food.

Cattails Restaurant on Urbanspoon