Category Archives: Quick Reviews

These are short reviews that will at some point be followed by a full review.

Spoon Me review

I may not be much of a dessert person and for the most part won’t seek out a place that serves nothing but. Tonight however when the subject of having dessert was brought up after our meal at Sura Korean restaurant I was suddenly in the mood.

I’d heard of Spoon Me in Kensington and after no other place was offered I suggested we drop in and see what it was like.

This little shop specialises in frozen yogurt and yogurt smoothies. The menu is small and there are in fact only 4 flavors of frozen yogurt on offer with the green tea variety not available when we visited. The other flavours are Vanilla, Acai, and orange.

My choice was Acai and being that I am very familiar with this berry I wanted to see what this was like. I enjoyed my yogurt and found the flavour was good but unfortunately taste is all you will get from this as the acai looses nearly all nutritional value within a very short time of being picked unless it is specially processed.

They offer a large number of fresh fruit and other toppings for your yogurt and while I chose the less than healthy ones myself I really don’t think they really add too much to the experience and will likely have just the frozen yogurt by itself should I visit again.

Spoon Me was okay and I did like the yogurt. They are on the hip and trendy side and seem to be interested in modern issues of environmental responsibility but there is nothing new here that would make me go out of my way to return. This is a place that has a good product and an interesting idea for their brand and if I am in the area on a hot day I’m sure I’d visit again.

Spoon Me on Urbanspoon

Golden Bell Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant review

This seems to be the week-end of not getting to dine where we’d planned. Saturday night we ended up at an AYCE Asian place that was not up to par and Sunday we’d looked forward to a bánh mì for lunch at Marda Vietnamese Sub. Unfortunately when we pulled up we saw that they were closed, odd considering the signage stated they were open on Sundays, interestingly they also had signage that stated they were not. We headed to 17th Ave. to see what we could find there to satisfy our craving.

We ended up at Golden Bell Saigon, a little Viet place that also serves some Thai food. The staff was quick to seat us (actually wave us in from a distance to be accurate) and we took a look at the menu. The selection is quite good and they had many things we enjoy, Nancy chose to try the pho while I was still in the mood for bánh mì and despite what seemed like a rather high price ordered the satay beef. To drink we had a smoothie and a bubble tea, which was of the powdered variety rather than fresh fruit, unfortunate for Nancy but I don’t mind too much. We started off with an order of shrimp salad rolls as well.

The salad rolls and drink were out right away. The rolls came in a set of three with one thoughtfully cut in half for us. These were very basic rolls and consisted of shredded lettuce, vermicelli and shrimp loosely wrapped in drying rice paper with no carrot, bean sprouts, mint or cilantro, not what we’d hoped for. the nuoc leo dip was passable but little was given. the drinks were nice and pretty much what we’d expected although the bubble tea was served in a beer glass which I found interesting. Nancy’s pho was hot and she said it had a flavor she did not recognize, after tasting it I’m guessing they have a different recipe and we both found it tasty. My sandwich was less than expected and was perhaps six inches long and was prepared with the least amount of filling possible. The bun was fresh , warm and crispy with a nice tender crumb inside. There was a small amount of what was good tasting and tender satay beef but with only a single sprig of cilantro and a sprinkling of do chua, for the more than 6 bucks we paid it was not in any way a good value. We can find loaded and great tasting bánh mì throughout the city that are on 8 inch baguettes with twice the fillings for less so this will not be a place we’d recommend if you want a good sub for a good price.

The service was okay but while the food came out fast and the server checked up on us a few times we had to flag her down for the bill and then after more than ten minutes we needed to approach the bar ourselves to pay it.

Our impression of Golden Bell Saigon is mixed, we find the quality fairly high aside from the lack of care shown in putting the food together but are less than pleased by the small servings, cutting of corners and high prices. Maybe this is what we can expect on 17th ave. we’ll have to find out, but if so then anyone who dines on the red mile needs to go a little farther and will find it’s well worth the trip east for good Viet food at acceptable prices.

Golden Bell Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Asian Buffet Review

Having planned to head to Gaucho Brazilian Barbecue with some friends this past Saturday it’s odd that we ended up at an AYCE Asian place. As it turned out we needed to go out later in order to accommodate our friends who called that afternoon and said they could not make the earlier time. They were the first to arrive and the place was packed. They called us and said they were told we could not be seated for another hour and a half… not going to happen. I’d just spent the day eating like a bird in order to accommodate the non-stop parade of meat that was going to greet me at Gaucho, so they said they’d find a place, much to our dismay it was this buffet style AYCE, oh well it was their choice.

Located in a strip mall along Macleod Trail this was not a typical dining spot for us. Asian Buffet was also rather busy and we needed to wait over 20 minutes to get a table. This was something I was pleased about due to the fact that high turnover is a good thing at places like this, the food may be hot and fresh. We ordered some drinks and headed to the buffet to check it out. There was the normal assortment of Asian fried foods, a mongoli style grill, some Cali rolls and sushi, soups and a few steamers with Chinese rolls. Over all not too bad at fist look aside from the fact that perhaps 15 percent of the trays were empty. We filled our plates and headed back to the table. It seems that the empty trays are the food that is most palatable and regulars polish them off fast, I found much of what was on my plate was cold and even stale this first round. On subsequent visits to the food I was able to sample those items that went fast and while they were not as bad it seems that in anticipation of the amount of these items eaten the kitchen makes large amounts ahead of time and then puts it out as needed. I can only guess at this but since newly deposited trays contained cold food I’m guessing this is the reason.

There’s not too much more to say about Asian Buffet other than the fact they did not have the beer I ordered and took it upon themselves to open and deliver me something else which the server was noticeably embarrassed by. If you enjoy AYCE Asian food and don’t mind a broad spectrum of quality to pick from you may like this place but we’re not going to be returning any time soon.

Asian Buffet on Urbanspoon

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