Crabby Joes won where 3 guys and a stove lost

3 Guys and a stove in huntsville

Taking my usual Blog Picture!

There were highs and lows at Crabby Joes!

3 Canucks and 2 frogs were in Huntsville,”
And Needing their stomachs to fill!
3 Guys and a Stove was their first choice
but wait times and price didn’t thrill!
Crabby Joes was much cheaper,
In fact I’d say it’s a keeper…
And no surprises came with the bill.

So here we were on a thursday evening in Huntsville not knowing what we wanted other than not wanting to cook. Since this trip was an annual one for the last few years, we were getting to know this area of the Muskokas fairly well, but still had not tried out much of the local cuisine. As we come into Huntsville along highway 60 from Algonquin Park, we had often noticed 3 Guys and a Stove and thought it worthy of a trip. So, off we went!
Well, it seems that quite a few others had had the same idea. As we hunted for a space in the packed parking lot, we guessed that we were in for a healthy wait. On the way in, this restaurant had the forethought to post their entire menu at the entrance. It looked like fairly regular North American cuisine. What was most striking was the pricing. Hardly an entree below $20 with many into the mid $30 range. A chat with the hostess waqrning of a 45 minute wait was enough to change our minds. Thus we headed off again in the search for more reasonable and readily available sustenance.
Crabby Joes in Huntsville

Where we went: As we headed into town on King William Street, we came across Crabby Joes. We knew nothing about it other than it didn’t look crowded, (not always a good sign with restaurants). Anyway, at this stage, our hunger was becoming more acute so we decided to take the plunge. As we had surmised from the outside, the place was far from full but looked OK on the surface. Rather like a Kelsey’s or Casey’s to those who know the style. As expected, we were shown straight to a table.

What we ordered: One of the more impressive aspects of this restaurant was the sheer variety of dishes available. The only slight repetition in what we ordered was that one ordered the ribs and wings combo while another took the full rack. Others ordered grilled salmon, ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and I ordered seafood pasta. Being a sucker for good marketing, a bucket of Corona (4 beers for $15) caught my eye and I persuaded 3 of our group that they really wanted a Corona!

What we got:

As is often the case in a restaurant that is not overly busy, the service was one of the downfalls here. Although our server was pleasant enough, we sometimes felt abandoned. Getting a refill of coffee, for example turned out to be more difficult than it ordinarily should be. The food, when it arrived was OK but not outstanding. The salmon looked overcooked, the chicken wings and ribs needed some garnish on the plate to spice it up a little and the ravioli looked downright garish. As for my seafood pasta, I quite enjoyed it. There was a good amount of shrimp, making me believe that they hadn’t been counted out as in many restaurants.

What really caught our attention was the desserts and as you can tell from the picture gallery above, they looked as good as the description promised. However, the proof of the pudding was not in the eating. It turns out that cheesecake with white chocolate and hazelnut is not as good a combination as one would have expected and the white chocolate fudge cake was heavy gooey and sickly sweet.


  • Positives: Bright and clean with a great selection of food 
  • Negatives: Deserts were a big disappointment.
  • Recommendation: Definitely worth a try if you are in Huntsville.
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality *** Average
Price $$$ Reasonable
Decor *** Bright
Service ** Slow
Overall Rating *** Worth a try

Crabby Joe's Tap & Grill on Urbanspoon

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Willie & Juan’s in the East – A Mexican Feast

Willie & Juan's Orleans

Willie & Juan’s, Orleans Best?

We gave them a call and they said: “there’s no line!”
So we headed to Orleans for the umpteenth time!
The food was superb, the service was great!
So it’s not a bad place to take your next date!
And this recommendation won’t even cost you a dime.. 

Where we went: You may remember that, a few weeks back, the Supper Seven made an abortive attempt to try out Willie & Juan’s on St. Joseph Blvd. in Orleans. We were dissuaded, at that time, by a wait time of 45 minutes! This being the day after Canada Day, July 2nd, we did not hold out great hope when we made the call to check on availability. To our pleasant surprise, we were told that there would be no problem and they even accepted a reservation request (a sure sign that one was not needed 😉 For those who may remember it, Willie and Juan’s replaced Mexicali Rosa’s which had been an Ottawa East End fixture for many years.

Chimichanga with rice, salad & GuacamoleWhat we ordered: It had really been quite some time since I had eaten Mexican food and the menu presented quite a challenge since there were many items that I would have liked to try. Finally, I opted for a Chimichanga with sides of rice and salad. Since I am a aficionado of guacamole, I added this, even though I suspected that it might end up being more food than I could eat.  Dorothy ordered a taco salad and Norma a burrito. Amber, somewhat uncharacteristically, ordered cheese nachos from the kid’s menu. It was a sign to me that she was a little unsure of the food, since she normally orders from the adult menu. Lara ordered chicken nuggets and fries. 

taco saladWhat we got: There are very few restaurants, no matter how good, that can usually completely satisfy our entire group. The odds are simply stacked against it. However, this evening, everyone was satisfied with their choice. The food was served promptly and hot. Quantities were neither overly big nor small. The salads were fresh and crispy and plates were colourful and attractively arranged. For dessert, we ordered an adult portion of churros from the children’s menu. These are deep fried pastry sticks that were a perfect finish to a great meal.

Homemade chicken strips and friesWorthy of note: Our server (unfortunately I forget his name) was cheerful, enthusiastic and helpful. He informed us that he also worked in the kitchen and was very knowledgeable about and helpful with the food choices. His upbeat manner, especially with the children really made a good experience a great one! Even if you have to wait a while to get a table, it will probably be worth the slight inconvenience!


  • Positives: I don’t often give a five star rating except for exceptional circumstances. The service here warranted it. The food was also well above average. 
  • Negatives: This particular evening there were no negatives.
  • Recommendation: Willie and Juan’s gets our hearty recommendation. 
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality **** Superb
Price $$$ Reasonable
Decor *** Bright
Service ***** Outstanding
Overall Rating **** Recommended


Willie and Juan's on Urbanspoon

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Even though not late, too long a wait, at Casey’s

Caseys Gloucester Centre

Works for me!!

Being Girls Night Out, Dorothy said:”I’ll buy!”

So we all went to Casey’s, where I tried the Pad Thai

the service was slow, though the place wasn’t packed!

If I were the owner, the manager’d be sacked 😉

A more positive note:, try the Banana Fosters Pie… 


Those readers who follow this blog with any regularity may well have noticed that lately our posts have been relatively few and far between. In case you might think that the recent heat wave has caused us to curb our ingestion of nutrients or some such other improbable excuse, let us put your mind at ease…. The simple truth is that real life has been interceding and dragging us away from the blogosphere into other more mundane (some would say more meaningful) pursuits ;). Of course all of these extra-curricular activities do add more grist to our mill but still it takes time to put finger to keyboard (a modernization of pen to paper?).

Where we went: Exactly one week ago today, happened to be our semi-regular ‘girl’s night out’. Lately, this has become somewhat of a misnomer since we men constituted a full fifty percent of the attendees. I am never completely sure by what process the location is chosen but on this occasion, someone had selected Casey’s at Ogilvie and Blair in the Gloucester Centre in Ottawa’s East End as our meeting place. Being a Wednesday evening, it was immediately apparent that obtaining a table would not be a problem. In retrospect, maybe we would have been better served if it had indeed been crowded.

What we ordered: It seems to me that the menu at Casey’s has changed a great deal in the recent past. Although many of their signature dishes  remain, there appeared to be a variety of new entries. Ian, our son, and myself ordered Shrimp Pad Thai and Dorothy opted for the Oriental Salad. One of our group ordered a dish that included garlic bread and she declined it due to a slight allergy. Her husband asked if he might have it added to his order instead. the server indicated that this was indeed possible. Since the restaurant was only about one third occupied, we reasonably assumed that the wait for our food would be reasonable.Shrimp Pad Thai

What we got: Alas, this was where things started to go downhill. It was a long time before any dishes appeared. When they finally did, the chicken salad was missing and there was no bread, garlic or otherwise, for the two who had requested it. My only personal and slight complaint would be that the fresh grated carrot was a little too voluminous and tended to upset the overall balance of the dish. Otherwise, I would give Casey’s Pad Thai a passing grade. Otherwise, there were no accolades or harsh criticisms of the dishes each received. By chance, at the last moment, I noticed something called Banana Fosters Pie on the dessert menu and ordered a slice. It was a cross between banana cream pie and cheesecake with a graham cracker crust and would definitely be ordered by me again, the next time I happen to find myself in Casey’s.

Worthy of note: Frankly, there was really not much on either the positive or negative side worthy of special note as is reflected in our overall summary below


  • Positives: Everyone was relatively satisfied with their food. Banana Fosters Pie was pretty good. 
  • Negatives: Service was unacceptably slow. Special requests, whilst not denied were not followed through on.
  • Recommendation: Although this visit would not prevent me from going again, neither did it encourage me to do so anytime soon!
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality ** Passable
Price $$$ Average
Decor *** Sports Bar Type
Service *** Slow but Friendly
Overall Rating ** Just Okay!


Casey's Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon

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Works for me!

The Works

Click image for full Photo Gallery

Works for me!!

If a burger’s your thing
then The Works should be king!
You can get one with beet?
Or, without any meat!
Whatever you choose will have zing!

This particular Friday evening, the Supper Seven (who were yet again eight), decided to do something really adventurous and include the RCMP musical ride in our normal routine. Since this was to take place at the RCMP stables at the end on St. Laurent in Ottawa’s Manor Park, we thought that it would be expeditious to choose a restaurant in the general area. Although this is not one of the busiest areas of the city, it is remarkably well served with gastronomic destinations. One of our favourites, Le Saint O, is on the corner of St. Laurent and Hemlock and the Rockliffe Bistro which is currently closed for renovations, is just a couple of doors down on St. Laurent closer to the river. Neither of these, however, is ideal for young kids.


Where we went: The Works, which sits at the Eastern end of the parking lot that houses the Dairy queen, is one of six locations dotted about the city. This would be our first visit simply because the locations nearest to us in the East end are always too busy on a Friday evening for us to suffer the wait time. This evening, however, we decided to show up early and hope for the best! Although there was no line-up, the hostess initially informed us that we were looking at a 30-45 minute wait for a table for eight. Taking note of our obvious dismay, she suggested that there were two open tables of four on the patio if we were prepared to sit at separate but adjacent tables. We jumped at the chance but had to tell a small, white lie when she further informed us that half of the group needed to be present before they would seat us. Although we were clearly only three at this point, we indicated that we met this qualification and were shown to our tables. As luck would have it, the balance of our party was at that very moment walking through the door.

The Works BurgerWhat we ordered: Well, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that most of us ordered burgers, since they make up 90%+ of the menu. However, I must say that I don’t believe I have ever seen such a dizzying array of fixings. What’s more, they are apparently open to any and all substitutions that you might wish to make, so literally anything goes. Some of the combinations definitely seemed more enticing than others. The biggest surprise was perhaps that in the bun department, the choice was simply between white and whole wheat.

What we got: No surprises here, we all ordered burgers and that’s what we got! On the whole, everyone was pretty pleased with their choice. Half of us ordered the sweet potato strings. They were quite good but most did not finish them. For some reason, I as well as others cannot finish the same quantity of sweet potato fries as regular. This brings me to a pet peeve that I have about many restaurants in general. They offer a single side and give you too much of it instead of offering smaller quantities of two or more. There would be little, if any, difference in their cost.

Since I was feeling adventurous, I ordered a burger with egg, pineapple, beet, caramelised onions and Gouda cheese. The only problem was that it came stacked too high to fit it in my mouth. I pulled off the beet and egg and ate them separately, curious to know how they would taste in combination. I can also suggest that you don’t knock it until you try it yourself….

Worthy of note: This is apparently the original Works location and is really too small to accommodate the number of diners that they attempt to cram in. As a result, one has a feeling of being hemmed in. Although nicely presented, these are still just basically burgers and fries and we are not sure that the fairly hefty price tag is justified!


  • Positives: Everyone was happy with their food (not usually the case). Although very busy, wait times were not too long.
  • Negatives: Very cramped. If you don’t like burgers, you will be out of luck here. I wish that there had been a lamb-burger option.
  • Recommendation: I was not expecting great things here, since I am not a huge burger fan. I was pleasantly surprised.
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality **** Good
Price $$$ High
Decor *** Clean & Fresh
Service **** Fast & Friendly
Overall Rating **** Above Average


The WORKS Manor Park on Urbanspoon

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At Fil’s, you can eat your fill without inflating the bill!

Fil's Diner in Hintonburg

Fil’s Diner

For breakfast in Hintonburg, you could go to Fil’s Diner
It’s not quite the Ritz, but complaints would be minor!
Blueberry pancakes not great, but home fries were good;
And prices were fair for this part of the ‘hood.
So, in a score out of ten, it’s almost a niner!

Where we went: It was our good friend Garey’s nth birthday last week and since we were unable to get together on the actual evening, we decided to go to breakfast together on Saturday morning instead. Garey picked Fil’s diner on Wellington in the Parkdale Market area in Hintonburg  as his venue of choice.  We do the breakfast thing with Garey three or four times a year and usually select John’s Quick Lunch just down the street. This is a very vibrant and interesting part of Ottawa and strolling the sidewalks window-shopping or  people-watching is a great way to either work up an appetite or walk off a heavy meal.

What we ordered: Well, we went for breakfast and Fil’s,  like most other eating establishments of its ilk, offers a special which it unoriginally names a wake-up call for $5.49 including bottomless coffee.  Dorothy, Ian and Garey all ordered this. Personally, I decided to get really innovative and boldly ordered the blueberry pancakes. I say boldly because, more often than not, these are a disappointment, since it is something that I personally prepare myself at home and therefore have unrealistically high expectations. As we waited for our order, coffee was filled by whichever server happened to pass by. This is a better system than those restaurants which only allow a table’s actual server to refill. Both servers were cheerful and friendly despite being somewhat rushed.

Breakfast at Fil's Diner

Dorothy, Ian & Garey

What we got: Generally speaking, one would tend to think that it is hard to mess up breakfast and indeed, the Orange trio all seemed happy enough with their choices. Home fries can tend to be a good yardstick in comparing breakfasts between restaurants. Fil’s got a passing grade in this area. Although nothing was acclaimed as outstanding, neither was anyone displeased with their choice.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the pancakes. As they came to the table, I had high hopes! Presentation was good; two large, apparently fluffy, golden brown pancakes filled with real blueberries looked up at me from the plate. Oftentimes, blueberry pancakes are simply regular ones smothered with blueberry pie filling. However, the proof of the pancakes was not in the eating. Although brown on the outside, the batter appeared to be still raw in the centre and yet was somehow of a dry consistency. The blueberries were small and hard. I did not even completely finish the meal because I noted that I was eating for the sake of eating, not because I was enjoying the experience. 

Fil's Breakfast Menu

Click to enlarge

Worthy of note: One of Garey’s foibles is that he likes his toast to be burnt. Not just well done but actually reduced to charcoal on the outside. Although it may be a little odd, it is a good test of a restaurant’s attention to detail. Fil’s delivered in this department and his toast was indeed black. Also, the pancakes were served with real butter and the syrup, although, not surprisingly not real maple syrup, was at least not served from plastic packages.


  • Positives: Clean, bright decor. Friendly attentive servers. Prompt service
  • Negatives: Blueberry pancakes were a disappointment
  • Reccomendation: Definitely worth a second visit
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality *** Fair
Price $$ Moderate
Decor **** Attractive
Service **** Attentive 
Overall Rating **** Above Average

Fil's Diner on Urbanspoon

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Is it just sitting on a stool that makes it High Tea?

pot of tea

Can you spot the anomaly?

Marks & Spencer Deli Counter

Are we really in England?

So here we were, sitting in Marks & Spencer a few thousand miles from home deliberating about what we should have to eat for our very first meal on English soil. Regardless of our choice, there were some surprises in store for us. First and foremost for me, was the fact that M&S even had a deli counter where one could get food and drink. If this was available back in my period of residence in the UK, it would have been a cafeteria offering fish & chips or sandwiches! 

The first clue should have been that Belgian cookie sitting innocently on the side of my cuppa. What’s wrong with digestive or Rich Tea! Watch out! The Europeans are coming….. And what’s that that the server is brewing there? Well, I do believe it’s espresso. And what’s more, even though you can’t see it well in this shot, the majority of the patrons sitting at this counter have glasses of wine (mostly French) in front of them. Quick let’s get down to the South coast immediately and block up that darned tunnel!

English High Tea

Now THAT's English!

Not to be deterred by the apparent drastic erosion of our mutual British heritage, Dorothy and I plodded on and gamely ordered ‘High Tea’ not being too sure exactly what we might receive! Although the tea with the Belgian cookie was perhaps a harbinger of worse to come, we were very pleasantly surprised when our order arrived.

What you see pictured tasted every bit as good as it looked. The first tier consisted of three small sandwiches with cucumber, smoked salmon and egg salad respectively. The second tier was a warm flaky scone served with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Finally, on top was a small pastry with a fruit filling. As you can see, presentation, which is half of the battle when serving food, was excellent and we would heartily recommend this treat if you happen to be in the area.

One extra bonus was that the waitstaff obviously were enjoying themselves and were playful with each other and the patrons. The bill at just 6.50 (around $10) was also easily digested.

You can find more details and pictures of  our recent trip on our sister site

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Un-Chef 10 Minute Chick’n’Chicken

Un-Chef Chick'N'Chicken

This evening’s supper was a typical example of two of the main themes that run through all of the Un-Chef’s cooking.

1.Work with what you have in the cupboards and the refrigerator

2. Colour is an important factor in putting together an attractive and appealing finished dish.

Yesterday, I bought some boneless, skinless chicken thighs without having a clue as to how I was going to prepare them. Well, that might not be quite true, I had in the back of my mind to prepare them Thai-style with ginger and coconut but we didn’t have some of the ingredients that I would have needed. After checking in the fridge, I discovered that we had onions, celery and a few mushrooms. So, my challenge was to turn this into something appetizing.

From the cupboard, I grabbed a can of tomatoes and another of chick peas.

Method: I took 1lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, one large onion, finely chopped  and 3 sticks of celery cut into julienne strips. I fried all in a large skillet in a little sesame oil (1 tablespoon). I chose a mixture of seasonings from the fridge according to taste: garlic, hot sauce, curry paste, concentrated chicken stock and some ready-prepared fines herbes. I stirred this all in and added 28oz can of stewed tomatoes, 1/2 can of drained chick peas. This was all brought to the boil and finally the mushrooms were added. This was then simmered on low heat while the rest of the food was prepared (approx 5 mins)

Un-Chef 10 Minute Chick'n'ChickenPresentation:  Because there was a fair amount of liquid generated, I decided to serve this with couscous. To add contrasting colour to an otherwise somewhat bland-looking main dish, I selected some green beans from the vegetable drawer which was steamed in the microwave. The final result is pictured at left.

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Jean Albert’s needs to work on their soul!

Is Jean Albert’s Ottawa’s sole restaurant serving soul food?

Jean Albert’s the place for food that’s got soul
But don’t go there Friday’s, if speed is your goal!
You really should try the sweet potato chips
Even though they’ll go from your lips to your hips
Overall verdict? Needs work, on the whole!!…

I must confess to being a little tardy in getting this review written. However, sometimes a little interval gives one a slightly different perspective on events and impressions. Our visit to Jean Albert’s in Ottawa’s China Town at Lyon and Somerset took place on Friday May 28th. Since that time we have been to England and back and will shortly be updating you on our gastronomic experiences there.

Where we went: Our good friend Garey Ris has been extolling the virtues of Jean Albert’s for a couple of years now, since he discovered it tucked away in Hallville way down South of Ottawa towards the 401 near Cardinal. We never managed to get there although we were intrigued by his enthusiasm. When they recently relocated to Ottawa, we promised Garey that we would eventually get there. This visit was the result. Although the exterior of the restaurant lacks pizazz,  its location could not be better! From the upstairs dining room, where we would ultimately be seated, we had a great view of the local comings and goings on Somerset Street. Indeed, this was the one redeeming feature that mitigated, for some at least, the interminable wait for our food.

What we ordered: Since by the time we were seated and our server came to take our order, many amongst us were ravenous, we ordered the sweet potato chips to share. For me, they were the highlight of the meal and I would heartily recommend them even though they might not be the healthiest option being deep-fried. But then if you are counting calories, Jean Albert’s might not be your best option. Most of our group opted for either the fried chicken and fries or the ribs and chicken. There was distinct confusion about the optional sauces which could be either applied after cooking or ‘baked in’ for an additional charge. I chose ‘baked-in’ and it was only added to my ribs and not to the chicken. However, Debbie, not being aware 0f the choice, had the sauce applied to both chicken and ribs whether she wished it or not!

Some of us special ordered from the lunch menu where they offer 2 pieces of chicken rather than 3 and a quarter rack of ribs rather than a half. For myself, this was still plenty of food even though only one side dish was offered rather than the 2 offered with a full meal. I chose candied sweet potato but most seemed enticed by the collard greens. Once Greg heard that catfish was offered he enquired as to whether it was available pan fried rather than deep fried and battered but they were unable or unwilling to accommodate him. Reluctantly, he ordered it anyway. As usual, the kids selected their normal chicken nuggets/strips and fries.

What we got: As mentioned above, the sweet potato chips were beyond reproach. The warm cornbread offered while we were waiting, on the other hand, received mixed reviews but some were simply not fans of cornbread in general. Several raved about their fall-off-the-bone ribs, whilst I personally found mine overcooked and overpowered by the sweetness of the barbecue sauce. I don’t recall the last time I had Louisiana-style fried chicken but for me it was again overcooked and rather dry. I will admit to being in the minority in this opinion. My side of candied sweet potato was soft to the point of being mushy and swimming in liquid. Those who ordered collard greens and received them, were pleased. Greg was not so lucky and when they had run out of greens, the kitchen simply took it upon themselves to substitute coleslaw without checking first.  He also seemed a little disappointed with his catfish too! The kids seemed quite happy with their meals when they finally arrived. Garey and Debbie shared a dessert (fruit cobbler and ice cream, I believe, and were very happy with it. Others were too full to partake.

  • Worthy of note: Our server, although very eager, was brand new and unable to answer many of the questions and requests thrown at her. She maintained that the kitchen’s policy was to bring all meals for guests in a group at the same time. Although a worthy goal, this was disastrous in its application. Firstly, at least the children could and should have been served first. This would have been a help to both ourselves and the kitchen. Since we were nine in total, it was clearly not realistic and in fact did not happen. Indeed, some of the group were virtually finished by the time the last person received their plate.
  • Although the prices of the main dishes were not out of line, by the time you added some of the optional fixings, it could end up costing more than you might expect at the end.
  • It seems that our experience of waiting too long is not an anomaly, since it is echoed is several other reviews that I have read.
  • It is an oddity that only hard lemonade is available on the ground floor, since the bar is located upstairs and the management (wisely perhaps), do not wish trays full of bottles and glasses being transported on the narrow staircase.
See our complete gallery of photos from this visit

Click image to photo gallery on our sister site: W3Junkie


Positives: The majority of our group enjoyed their food. We were visited personally by Leroy, the owner and he seemed personable and friendly. The sweet potato chips were great.

Negatives: Waiting too long for our food was a downer. For me the food was generally overcooked. Given all of the foregoing, the final tab was not justified by the total experience.

Recommendation: At some point in the future, we will give Jean Albert’s a second chance but for now, I cannot give them even a passing grade!

For an update on the restaurateur’s subsequent reaction to our review read our follow-up on our sister site – w3Junkie

Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality ** Disappointing
Price $$$ Moderate
Decor *** Gemütlich
Service ** Slow
Overall Rating ** Needs work!


Jean Albert's on Urbanspoon 

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Don’t be chicken to eat at Swiss Chalet!

Don’t be chicken to eat at Swiss Chalet!

Now, Swiss chalet has a certain family appeal,
Especially Now with a GREAT Meal Deal!
Your chicken comes with salad and blueberry pie;
And to pay just $12.97 won’t make you cry!
Some might even declare it a steal!!…

Where we went: A good friend of ours recently invited Dorothy and myself to join him for supper at Swiss Chalet on Innes at Cyrville in Gloucester. At this point, I think that, over the years, we have eaten at just about every Swiss Chalet in the Ottawa area and quite a few in Toronto and beyond. Whilst they may not offer fine dining, the food is always consistent and reasonably priced. They are very kid-friendly, which is a definite plus for families and large groups.

What we ordered: Well, it should come as no surprise that we all ordered chicken! In fact, we all ordered the standard chicken dinner except that I opted for the current special which added a side salad (garden or caesar) as a starter and blueberry pie for dessert.

What we got: As I mentioned above, the food is consistent at Swiss Chalet. Their French fries are, in my humble opinion, amongst the best in the Ottawa area. I don’t often order fries but about 50% of the time, do take them as a side here. Like Jack Spratt and his wife, I take dark meat while Dorothy prefers white. Additionally, I typically forego the dipping sauce, not being partial to the cinnamon flavour, where Dorothy really likes it (and often takes mine as well as her own). The side salad while nothing spectacular was fresh and crunchy and not overdosed with dressing as is too often the case. Sometimes, the chicken can be too well cooked for my tastes but today that was not the case. The finishing touch of the blueberry pie was also quite impressive for what is obviously a mass-produced item (and possibly previously frozen). 

Worthy of note: We have eaten many times at this particular restaurant and the only time we had an unpleasant experience (ridiculously long wait for our meals), the manager put things right (and makes a point of greeting us on subsequent visits). One of the few places left in town where you can get a standard entree for under $10. If you wish a drink (alcoholic) with your meal, they keep prices reasonable where many others go over the top!


  • Positives: Never any real surprises here. Consistently good food, service and surroundings.
  • Negatives: If you don’t want or like chicken and/or ribs, you’ll be S.O.L. This is not a locale for gourmet tastes.
  • Reccomendation: For an inexpensive family dining experience, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better.
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality *** Good
Price $$ Inexpensie
Decor *** Clean & Bright
Service **** Friendly
Overall Rating **** Above Average


Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill on Urbanspoon 

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Mongolian Village – the Gloucester Centre’s best kept secret

Mongolian Village - Gloucester Centre

You’ll eat your Fill from the Mongolian Grill

At Mongolian Village you’ll always eat your fill
Just pick what you like and it’s cooked on the grill.
Lots of sauces and spices to add to the taste;
You pay by the weight so none goes to waste!
And at the end, there’s no shock with the bill!!…

Where we went: Sometimes things go wrong and other times they go right. Mongolian Village at the Gloucester Centre in Ottawa’s East End is definitely high on the list of the Supper Seven. We don’t go there that often simply because too many others like it too, especially on a Friday evening. However, on a whim, we called ahead to see just how bad the wait might be and were told that, if we came soon, there would be little or no wait. We did not need to be told twice and got our rear ends into gear. The first (and still existing) location was at Moodie Drive in Bells Corners and although it used to be a 25Km drive, we used to make the effort once every couple of months. I must admit to a potential bias here, since I have known the owners, Brendan and his wife, for many years, even prior to the opening of the West End location. The last time I spoke with him, they were in negotiations for a third location.

What we ordered: You don’t exactly ‘order’ at this restaurant. There is always a choice of soup as a starter, included in the price of the meal. Today’s happened to be broccoli-curry and  hot-and-sour. Hot-and-sour is the regular alternate and is for those with a good tolerance for spicy!

After the soup is ordered, everyone heads off to the buffet where one fills a bowl with whatever takes one’s fancy. The selection is extensive and is always fresh-looking and attractively presented. Personally, over the years, I have developed a couple of standard mixes. Today, I took salmon, scallops, shrimp and lamb along with a plethora of vegetables. My regular additions included shredded coconut, sultanas, water chestnuts, minced garlic and ginger as well as coconut milk and jerk seasoning.

The Mongolian GrillOnce you have filled your bowl, you take it to the weigh station and they mark your chit with the price and your sequence number for the table. Once everyone from your table has chosen their food, and provided there is no line of tables awaiting their food also, all food is place in separate piles on the grill and cooked.

What we got: Unless they somehow mix things up when they cook the food on the grill, you generally get what you selected. It is worth noting that they cook the entire table’s food at the same time, so there is no advantage to being the first in line. Unlimited hot steamed rice is served along with wraps to accompany your meal again at no extra charge. Our habit is to coat a wrap with a thin smear of hoisin sauce before filling it. If you don’t enjoy your meal here, you only have yourself to blame!

Worthy of note: To be fair, it takes a couple of visits to get used to putting your own plate together. The real key is getting used to the spices and sauces. Even the most seasoned chef may not be used to the correct quantities for a single serving. The sauces are all marked to indicate their degree of hot or spiciness. I would caution you to go easy with the jerk seasoning for example. Although only Amber took dessert (molten lava cake), experience has taught us that desserts here are typically worthwhile especially the fruit crepes. Although the typical plate of food tends to run from $11 -$18 it must be noted that some foods which are cheap to produce are nonetheless heavy. A plate full of pasta, for example, would cost you more than one of shrimp or scallops. Since rice is served anyway, beware of making your plate laden with expensive fillers.


  • Positives: Everyone gets to eat exactly and only what they like especially kids. Eat as little or as much as you want.
  • Negatives: The first time out can be a little tricky getting the right balance of quantities and spices and sauces. Most people tend to err on the side of too much the first time out.
  • Recommendation: Our bet is that once you try it, like us, you will be hooked. After all these years, I’m still not sure exactly what qualifies this as Mongolian but that aside, every visit is a treat!
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality **** Very Good
Price $$$ Moderate
Decor **** Attractive
Service **** Friendly 
Overall Rating **** Above Average

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