APTLY NAMED TO SAY THE LEAST

Wandering the village of St. Jacob’s, we were after a quick and easy meal before we got back on the road again. Although I used to work in the village, I always take a packed lunch to work so I’d never really eaten there before. Walking along it’s hard to miss all the signs that direct you up to a building that’s a ways back from the road in amongst the trees. Take a few steps and to the left there is a small bar around the corner, straight up is a shop, and to the right is the window of Treehouse – were you can grab a bite to eat, all of which are part of the larger company; Shadetree.

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This restaurant is really only a step up from a fry cart. There is no indoor seating, but there are plenty of picnic tables to choose from. Your burger is passed out of the window with lettuce and tomato sitting on top of the bun. To the left are all the condiments that you add yourself. It’s a very basic operation, but for our needs that day it was just right. This was your average greasy burger. The patty was not too thick (as I find many restaurant burgers to be). And since I applied all my toppings myself, I got what I expected. The fries were also your average french fries. And so was the gravy (obviously not pictured, oops!) There’s not a whole lot to report on this one. If you’re in the village and you just want to eat and run then this is the place for you. Though I imagine that they are only open during the summer.

Two cheeseburgers with fries, one with added bacon and a side of gravy, and two sodas came to $19.40.

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A MILE OR TWO AWAY

The recent birth of a friend’s baby, combined with a warm, sunshiny day, found us on the road to Guelph not long ago. After our visit with the wee one, we felt the familiar rumbles in our stomachs meaning ‘Get some food in me, ASAP!’. Neither of us are very familiar with Guelph, so we took advantage of that vulgar website I mentioned a while ago to figure out where we should go to eat. It turned out that Milestones Grill + Bar was just around the corner, and neither of us had been before, so off we went!

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I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was to find spicy sesame green beans listed as an appetizer! I am not sure exactly what I had expected from the description, but they arrived much saucier than I’d thought they’d be. Not that this was a problem though, just an observation. When the bill arrived I noticed that they were called Szechuan beans on the bill, when they were called spicy sesame on the menu. Again, inconsequential, but for some reason I feel like putting the name as ‘Szechuan’ on the menu might give a better impression of what to expect. But that could just be me! Regardless, when they said spicy, they meant it! The beans were absolutely delicious, but being nearly the first thing I’d put in my gut that day probably wasn’t the best for my digestive system! I also didn’t have much kleenex handy, and boy did my nose run! Not that I am complaining though, I loved them!

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My main dish of choice was the salmon with pineapple salsa, rice and brussels sprouts. Oh my goodness, did I ever make the right choice! This dish was delish! Including the veggies! And when a dish comes with shaved brussels sprouts, I promise you, the fact that I even ate them is a giant surprise! I have had a massive disdain for brussels sprouts ever since I was a child. In fact, prior to this meal, I had ingested a total of five of them in my entire life. But I believe they had been boiled. I know for sure that they were whole. And that I hated them! I decided to give these ones a try solely because they were shaved and served with red peppers and onions. I thought maybe, if they were cooked together, they would take on some of the other flavours and would be tolerable. Now, I can assure you that I am not going to go forward and become some kind of brussels sprout afficianado, but I did actually like them! Granted, I did pick out the large pieces and the onions. I need to take baby steps if I am ever going to learn to like them! They reminded me a bit of cabbage in texture, which added a nice, subtle crunch. And with the way they were prepared, I honestly couldn’t tell you how they tasted, especially since I made sure to always eat them with some rice and salmon at the same time. At least I know that they did not taste bad. The salsa was also great. I just went ahead and dumped it all on the salmon right away. I love salmon with something sweet, as well as with rice. Writing about this is making me crave it like crazy, but I just checked their site and it doesn’t appear to be on the menu anymore, which is a real shame. My fingers are crossed that the menu in store is different and does actually include it. I would love to have it again.

Our entire meal; including szechuan beans, salmon, a 10oz steak and ‘Starbucks’ coffee totaled $71.18.

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MENU CHANGES ARE NOT ALWAYS GOOD

Here I go, disliking changes again. But, when you’re a restaurant and you don’t change your menu on a regular basis, and then you do so after years of providing the same dishes, and you remove my favorite one, what am I supposed to do? I can’t be expected to like it when this happens! It gets even worse when the new menu is even more homogenized than the old one. Thus, I don’t think I will be going back to Applebee’s again.

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Not that Applebee’s was ever one of my favorites. I am not really a fan of big chain, family style restaurants. But they used to serve a quesadilla that suited my pickiness perfectly. I had tried to check the menu before we went as I hadn’t been in so long that I thought there may be a chance that the quesadilla may not be on the menu anymore. Unfortunately the menu links on the website don’t work. If they had I would have known to go elsewhere. But, since I didn’t have any warning and since my favorite item is no longer available, I went with the only thing that looked appealing to me now, the Hawaiian Burger. The picture on the menu made this one look wonderful. It had a nice slab of ham on it with a healthy spattering of pineapple pieces. As you can see, it did not arrive looking quite as spectacular as they’d made it appear. Upon first bite it was obvious that it was nothing like the picture. I kept hoping, as I got nearer to the center, that it would get better. Maybe I’d actually be able to taste a hint of ham or pineapple. I could see they were there, but all I could taste was the bland ground beef patty. There ended up being only one bite that I really enjoyed. If it had been made as it was shown I have no doubt that this burger would’ve been enjoyable. It’s too bad they decided to go cheap with the toppings, but it’s not surprising.

I had also paid extra to upgrade my fries to their new onion petals. I am certainly not an expert on onions, but whatever kind they used were incredibly bland. They were sliced fairly thick and still had very little flavour. There didn’t seem to be much seasoning in the breading and the dipping sauce didn’t help either. The whole thing was weak overall. But I guess I don’t need anything new to crave, there are already enough delicious things I want to eat on a daily basis and this would’ve just added yet another highly unhealthy item to the list. I definitely do not need more of that!

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The lighting obviously didn’t help me get appetizing photos. But I kind of think they do the experience justice, I’m sorry to say. My mate went for the chicken fingers which really weren’t anything special. The fries, surprisingly, were seasoned. And the gravy was your usual gravy. So it was nice that there was something that met at least some average expectations.

Hawaiian burger + onion petals + chicken finger platter + gravy + one coffee = $39.61.

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HOW DID I MISS THIS ONE?

My family has a long history with the town of Stratford. I have spent a lot of time there, from childhood right up to current day. I even worked in Stratford for a spell. Yet somehow, after countless meals in town, I never managed to make it to Fellini’s until just the other day.

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After placing our order, while waiting for the food to arrive, we were brought a basket of fresh bread. I was so hungry, and the bread was so perfectly fluffy, that I forgot to take a picture until I was on my last bite! I liked that the oils were presented separately so you can create your own mix to suit you. The balsamic was also sweeter than most, so I actually liked it a lot better than I normally do. To start our actual meal, we asked for a caesar salad to share. This salad was probably the best caesar I’ve had in a long time. It had that wonderful tang that is not always present in caesar dressings these days. And I’m sure you notice that I eat them quite often. The waitress was pleased to tell us that the dressing was made in house and that it did, indeed, contain anchovies – as any real caesar should!

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Shortly after we finished our salad, our stuffed meatballs arrived! Their description is as follows: house-made meatballs of beef and pork stuffed with smoked provolone, roasted peppers, capocollo, seasoned with Porto marinara. These were so delicious. They were also quite sizable. All around us we could see people having their leftovers packaged to go, and it wasn’t necessarily because the servings were too large, it’s just that there’s so much on the menu that you just have to try! I’m sure I could’ve finished my meal had we not had the meatballs, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to come here and not get the meatballs. They were that good!

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Next up for me was the inside out chicken parmigiana. In this case I think the photos tell you more than I will be able to. The plate was packed full and was delightfully colourful. I loved that the vegetables were not your typical pile of steamed broccoli, etc. Though they are not my favorite, the inclusion of a few chickpeas provided an interesting texture. The corn tasted like they had removed it from the cob themselves, and I would not be at all surprised if that was actually the case. I’m one of those people who, when the items are just right, likes to chop everything up and mix it all together before consuming it. This meal was perfect for that! It may have slightly ruined my ability to savour that stuffed chicken as much as I should have, but everything mixed together felt right for me, so I had to do it!

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My mate went for the linguine carbonara, which had been my second choice. Of course I snagged a bite, and I was quite pleased with the decision I had made. I found that the bits of ham and bacon (which were large and aplenty!) gave it a smokey flavour that was too over the top for my liking. It was not to the point of being unpalatable, but I’m still glad I chose what I did.

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When we both reached our halfway points we had a little ponder over whether to finish it all and leave stuffed, or to pack it up for lunch the next day, get a dessert, and still leave stuffed! Of course we voted for leftovers plus dessert! The flourless chocolate cake was the dessert we could agreed to share. Upon arrival we were both disappointed to find it drizzled with chocolate sauce instead of the expected raspberry sauce, per the menu. We did not get an explanation for the change and neither of us felt like it was important enough to inquire about, but I think if I were to order it again I would ensure that I would be getting the raspberry sauce as it just sounds so much more decadent to me! That aside, this cake surely was still an excellent choice.

Our dinner of a side caesar, stuffed meatballs, inside out chicken parmigiana, linguine carbonara, one coffee and chocolate cake came to $72.26

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CRAVING A SWEET, SOFT BREAKKY!

I don’t know if it makes sense to anyone else, but there are days that I wake up and all I want is something sweet, soft, and fluffy, and perhaps even warm, for breakfast. Generally I’m after something cake-like, which usually takes me on a hunt for a really good muffin. I put the call out to my friends to see if anyone had any recommendations for somewhere to find the perfect muffin and I was lead, instead, to scones. Specifically, I was lead to The Scone Ladies.

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The Scone Ladies only opened up about 2 months ago, down near the Kitchener Market. It is a small cafe with a dessert case at the counter where you will find various scones and some other dessert bars. I was after something sweet, but none of the sweet flavours of scones that were available that day seemed to catch my interest. Instead I saw a savoury, roasted red pepper and feta one that I just had to try. I brought the scone home, heated it in the microwave for ten seconds, cut it in half and buttered both sides. It was wonderfully soft, but wasn’t too crumbly. And it almost satisfied the sweet craving as red peppers are fairly sweet themselves. It certainly tasted like roasted red pepper, I can tell you that for sure. I didn’t notice much of the feta, but for me that was for the best as I’m not a huge fan of it.

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Since I hadn’t totally solved my sweet craving, I’d also decided to try their chewy chocolate chip bar. This bar was sweet, but not to the point of being sickening, as some sugary desserts can be. I loved the chewy texture. I had also tried a sample of their (gluten free) chickpea chocolate chip and peanut butter bar. Had I not already started salivating over the scone I would have gotten this bar alone. It was not overly sweet and felt very healthy. But since I was going to be eating something savoury I needed that extra little punch of sugar to even out my palate so I went with the chewy bar instead. I also warmed it up for 10 seconds to optimize the chewiness! I ended up eating more than I intended, but I can safely say that it was worth it!

The scone and the bar came to $5.37

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UNDER THE SEA!

A little while back I decided to join Red Lobster’s e-mailing list to get some coupons after being sorely disappointed with the ‘$3 off two entrées’ coupon that came in my junk [snail] mail. $1.50 each off for two people is more of an insult than a discount, if you ask me! So I was really hoping the e-mailed coupons would be better. So far, they are. On this trip we redeemed a coupon for one free appetizer.

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I don’t know when I am going to learn to stop trying to eat so much here, but I just can’t help it! It’s all so delicious! I had basically the same thing as last time so I don’t have too much to add. The one main difference this time was that I asked for green beans instead of broccoli with my cheese crusted tilapia. Since they have green beans elsewhere on the menu I figured it shouldn’t be a problem to make the substitution, and perhaps the cooks would have a better idea of how to cook the beans. Sadly, this was not the case. I think (if it’s even possible!) the green beans were worse! Though they had the appearance of having been tossed in a fry pan, they were still completely hard and literally tasted raw. I only wish I was exaggerating. At least I was able to bring them home with my leftovers so that I could cook them myself the second time around.

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Although they seem to consistently fail miserably when it comes to cooking vegetables, I still cannot stop myself from craving the tilapia (not to mention those buns!). My mate does not like seafood (or vegetables) and thus chose a steak with two sides of mashed potatoes instead of veggies. Perhaps I will have to start looking into what other substitutions can be done with my meal. The steak comes with a choice of two sides. The tilapia’s sides are set on the menu. But at least we know that they do know how to properly cook potatoes and steak now!

My tilapia, the steak, a coffee and the free coconut shrimp came to $54.43.

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A RAINY DAY WALK

Lately I am taking baby steps at trying to get my health back on track. One of these baby steps involves taking normal sized steps, one after the other, until I reach my dining destination. A few weeks back we took a stroll down to Dake for some dinner.

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Since neither of us were driving, we decided to splurge and get a pitcher of Mill St Organic. It arrived with our miso soup and vegetable tempura appetizer. The miso soup was simple. That’s exactly how I like it; not packed full of all kinds of seaweed and stuff. It is not often that you find tempura onions served in Japanese restaurants. At first I scoffed at it until I remembered that I like onion rings, and this couldn’t be far from it. I’d also gotten excited initially as I’d thought that the asparagus was a green bean. At least there was broccoli to make up for that minor disappointment! The tempura dipping sauce was sweet, as usual. The veggies themselves could’ve been a little less greasy.

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My main dish of choice was bulgogi. Seems that every time I have bulgogi it tastes the same, no matter where I get it, so I suppose I should assume that it’s always being prepared properly. And while I enjoy the savoury flavour, I often find that the beef is stringy. Again, this seems to be consistent, so it must be the kind of beef that’s being used. The serving size was more than enough so I ended up with leftovers to take home.

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My mate went for the beef teriyaki. The beef used in this dish is obviously quite different from that of the bulgogi. It was cooked well, with some pink showing in the center, and the sauce was sweet. It also arrived with a surprise dumpling on the plate and plenty of veggies beneath it.

Unfortunately I somehow misplaced our total for this meal.

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Posted in Average Pricing, Dinner, Independent, Japanese, Kitchener, Korean | Tagged | 4 Comments