Rockin’ Johnny’s doesn’t really rock!

Rockin' Jonny's St. Laurent, Ottawa

Rockin’ Johnny’s ?

Rockin’ Johnny’s for breakfast just didn’t rock
but,at least, at these prices, you won’t go in hock
The service was slow and the food was quite plain

So, another 2 years before we go there again

Oh yes, there’s no parking; you must walk!!…

Where we went: So here we were looking for a place to eat breakfast on a fine Saturday morning and decided on Perkins. Now if you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that we are not a fan of waiting in line. So maybe Perkins was not the best choice! There is only a single location in Ottawa at St. Laurent shopping center and it is well frequented. Not wishing to spend a whole lot of time hunting for an alternate venue, we opted to try out (again) Rockin’ Johnny’s on the opposite side of the street. I suspect that a fair amount of their business is garnered that same way. 

What we ordered: We were looking for breakfast and all three of us ordered the 2 egg special with one meat, home fries and toast. We all took coffee as well (mine as per usual was decaf). 

What we got: There’s not really much to say here either good or bad. To quote Randy ‘the dawg’ Jackson, “It was just alright for me! “. There was nothing exceptional  either good or bad about our breakfast. The home fries were better than average but there was no garnish of any kind on the plate. Not so much as a lettuce leaf or slice of orange or tomato as often is done in these places. My coffee was probably relatively fresh but definitely not piping hot. The regular must have been OK though since both Garey and Dorothy had multiple cups.

Worthy of note: Only thing worthy of note was that nothing really was 🙄

Summary

  • Positives: Cost: breakfast for 2 with coffee < $15
  • Negatives: Nothing special, just an OK breakfast!
  • Recommendation: Would neither recommend nor particularly discourage. Note that at time of posting, it gets a 50% rating on Urbanspoon (see below)
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality ** Only Average
Price $$ Inexpensive
Decor *** Acceptable
Service ** Slow
Overall Rating ** Not Great

 

Rockin' Johnny's Diner on Urbanspoon

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Red Lobster is a great plaice to eat fish on Friday!

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Red Lobster St. Laurent Ottawa

Is Red Lobster the best plaice in Ottawa?

On Friday this week, it was Greg’s dearest wish,,

that we go to Red Lobster to eat us some fish.

But most of us ordered some type of shrimp;

Lots of food came, they surely don’t skimp

And the sum of our verdicts: Completely delish!…

Where we went:  Red Lobster on St. Laurent in Riverview is definitely on our ‘favourite’ list. However, we don’t often get to go there because, especially on Friday evenings, the place is filled to overflowing. So when Greg made the suggestion that we go there, none of us held out much hope that we would actually be able to pull it off. As has become our habit of late, we called in advance to check out the wait times for a group of eight (yes, we were one over normal this week).

Somewhat to our surprise, we were told that a wait of twenty minutes maximum was in store for us if we came right away. Still expecting the worst, we selected Wild Wing as a back-up, should the wait turn out to be longer than claimed. 20 minutes is about the most we can endure with three young ladies in tow 😉 Once again, the parking lot status seemed to indicate that business was good on this particular evening. I cannot speak for the rest of Ottawa or other parts of Gloucester, but in the East End, business is booming, at least on Fridays.

Although the restaurant was indeed full, our hostess took it upon herself, quite willingly as it appeared, to regale our Three Musketeers, Amber, Lara and Fayth with facts and anecdotes about the lobsters that were languishing in the tank in the waiting area. She even took one out for them to inspect more closely, much to their delight. If our wait was more than 15 minutes, we simply did not notice.

 What we ordered: It is relatively rare for Dorothy and I to order wine on a Friday evening but since we felt that this was an auspicious occasion, having determined that it had been almost two years since our last visit, we ordered a half liter of Peller Estates Riesling. The wine turned out to be a reasonable accompaniment to our meals but not outstanding. For a main course, I opted for something light, knowing in advance that Red Lobster never scrimps on their portions. Skewered Shrimp and Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Peach Bourbon BBQ sauce over a bed of crispy deep fried onion with a side of broccoli was my choice. Dorothy opted for a ‘shrimp feast’ consisting of garlic, crab-stuffed and shrimp Alfredo with a side of fries. Norma chose crabmeat in Alfredo sauce.

Two of the girls predictably chose chicken strips and fries and Amber chose popcorn shrimp. Unfortunately, the layout of the table and our seating arrangement precluded me from recording the choices of Debbie and Greg.

What we got: As usual, the three girls were served first and were apparently happy with their choices though somewhat suprisingly were not as enamoured with the warm, moist, savoury biscuits served in lieu of bread as the adults. The side salads, both garden and caesar were better than average, not ALL lettuce as is often the case!

Norma’s crabmeat Alfredo dish was huge but apparently hot and tasty! Dorothy’s shrimp feast was also voluminous but she managed to finish it (with a little help from me). As for my own dish, the description was better than the reality. The presentation was enticing and the crispy onion was delectable but the peach bourbon BBQ sauce was overly sweet and quite tangy and completely overshadowed the delicate flavours of the shrimp and scallop.

No one partook of dessert of which there is a good selection, partly because we were all full but also because the cost is prohibitive with $7 appearing to be the norm!

Worthy of note: The girls had so much fun with the hostess at the entrance that they went back as soon as they had finished their meals which left the adults time to chat and relax. A fitting end to a pleasant evening! Cost for two including wine but without dessert and coffee: $65.00

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Picture 1 of 3

A little unsure about this?

Summary

  • Positives: Pleasant Hostess minimized problem wait time. Food good and plentiful. Even when busy, waiting for food after ordering is minimal.
  • Negatives: Too much food for many appetites. Doggy bags appeared on almost every table!  Not inexpensive, especially desserts. Currently being remodelled whilst remaining open!
  • Recommendation: If you like seafood and your wallet can handle it, this is a great place to go even with younger kids!
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality **** Very Good
Price $$$$ A little steep!
Decor ** Remodel
Service **** Very good 
Overall Rating **** Above Average


Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

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Avacado & Tuna salad: Quick, inexpensive, healthy & nutritious!

Although it is often the case, things don’t have to taste or look bad to be good for you! You also don’t have to pay a fortune to have healthy and delicious meals. Our recipe today is a case in point. It’s not really even a recipe, just an assembling of ingredients. The only real trick here is picking the avocadoes at the store so that they are ripe at the time you want to eat them. Not necessarily an easy thing to do. Generally, you only have a two day window where they go from green to ripe to bad!

What you will need: One ripe avocado, peel off, stone out and halved. One can of flaked or chunked tuna. Salad, spring mix or baby spinach. Seasonings and dressings according to taste..

Preparation: In a plate or bowl lay down a base of green leafy salad. Place the avocado half on the salad bed, hollow side up. Next, fill the avocado with the tuna. Personally, I mix some mayonnaise, greeen seasoning and a touch of chili sauce (the ketchup style one) to add some colour and flavour to the tuna but it is not necessary. Now add some colour with salad fixings. We used tomato and pickled beets but you can add anything that you have on hand. The trick is to use colour to make the dish more interesting. It also turns out that different colours bring different nutritional elements as well, so in general, the more colourful your dish, the healthier it may be. However, this does not mean that decorating your salad with Smarties is good for you.

That’s it, that’s all! Bon Appetit!


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Between Willie and Juan’s and T’Basil it was a Thai

Willie & Juan's in Orleans

Where we did NOT eat!

Willie and Juan’s Thai’d by T’Basil

It didn’t really seem like such a tall order,

We just wanted food from South of the Border!

Willie and Juan’s that’s where we were led

But across the road at T’Basil is where we were fed

Forty-Five minutes waiting is just sheer murder…

The Supper Seven were all in agreement that we should try something different this week-end and Debbie suggested that we might try Willie and Juan’s (formerly Mexicali Rosa’s) on St. Joseph in Orleans. Mexican cuisine is not generally one of our more frequent ethnic food choices. However, everyone was in agreement, perhaps because Amber, our habitual dissenter, was at a sleepover this particular evening.

 I think that we should consider renaming this particular street in Ottawa’s East End (formerly Gloucester) to the Restaurant Golden Mile. So many of our regular eating spots are located here! As we attempted to pull into the parking lot, it became apparent that many others had come up with the same idea at about the same time! Once inside, we were informed of a potential 45 minute wait. Even for adults this may be hard to take but with two ravenous young ladies in tow, it was simply out of the question. Fortuitously, right across the road was T’Basil and we decided to try our luck there instead, especially because Debbie had not been there before.

As we had surmized by the relative emptiness of the parking lot, not so many people were opting for Vietnamese or Thai food on this particular evening. Lara, our resident 6 year old detected and commented immediately that we were ushered to the same table as for our previous visit in late March (see review here

Seafood Shabu Shabu

Seafood Shabu Shabu

Something new to us this visit was that Greg and Norma opted for the Seafood Shabu-Shabu. Now I know that this sounds like a couple of twin killer whales from SeaWorld, but at $35 per serving, it seemed like it needed to be something special! Wisely, as it would turn out, Greg inquired as to whether the dish could be shared by two. He also, not so wisely, ordered won-ton soup to start. There was nothing wrong with the soup, in fact it looked delicious, chock-full of fresh veggies and steaming hot. However, as you may note from the accompanying photo, the Shabu-Shabu was of very much the same consistency. It contained liberal amounts of scallops, mussels, shrimp, calamari and imitation crab and lots of vegetables and came with a side dish of angel hair pasta.

Worthy of note was the fact that the two young girls, Lara and Fayth, both ordered chicken strips and fries. While one wouldn’t expect this to be great in a Thai-Vietnamese restaurant, both of them cleared their plates. I must add that they had a little help from the adults as the kids were served first and their fries looked (and tasted) pretty good! 

For myself, I was determined to try something different. The description of the Thai special fried rice with chicken and shrimp caught my fancy. However, I had unfortunately not heard Lara’s comment to Dorothy that she had not enjoyed the children’s portion of chicken fried rice on our previous visit. It just goes to show that you can’t always be guided by the description. There was nothing specifically wrong with the dish. It was chicken, shrimp and rice with a few frozen peas and carrots thrown in. Definitely nothing to make it qualify as ‘Thai’. A real disappointment based on our previous visits and definitely poor in comparison to the Shabu Shabu!

T’Basil did redeem themselves with the desserts however. There were only 2 available: Alaskan Banana and Thai Sundae. The banana was deep-fried in a spring roll wrapper and served with ice cream. The thai sundae was ‘jelly seeds’ in ice cream with sesame seeds, peanut pieces etc. Both were enjoyed by all who tried them! While it is true that we did not order any drinks, it was still a pleasant surprise to be presented with a bill for two for $30 including tax….


Summary

  • Positives: No waiting to be seated. Seafood Shabu-Shabu is recommended as are the desserts. No sticker shock when the bill is presented.
  • Negatives: Thai fried rice was uninteresting.
  • Summary: Despite the fact that my own dish was disappointing, on balance, this was another successful meal
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality *** Varied by dish
Price $$ Inexpensive
Decor *** Acceptable
Service **** Friendly 
Overall Rating *** Worth a try

 

T' Basil on Urbanspoon

 

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Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry-Orange Glaze – A mid-week marvel!

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NOT the mad hatter's tea party

Life's a Bitche when your small!

This snapshot will remind Andreea of the days when she was still small! It was taken in a small French town called Bitche last summer. We never discovered what, if any, connection there was here to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party but we all had a good time there. This summer will be quite different since she and Marius are soon to be parents. In Ottawa for a few days, they came to supper on Tuesday evening and we needed to rustle up something special that was not too much trouble since it was mid-week.

Dorothy suggested that pork tenderloin would fit the bill, since we usually have it on hand, it is fairly quick to cook and is low in fat but high in taste.

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry-Orange GlazeMethod: This is a typical Un-Chef recipe in that I rarely prepare it EXACTLY the same way twice. I typically slice the tenderloin into slices about one inch thick and if necessary further cut the slices into medaillion-sized pieces. I arrange them in an oven-proof dish, liberally sprinkle them with spices and seasonings of choice. If you are stumped here, Mrs. Dash is always a good choice. Today, I used a Thai blend. I made a glaze of 2 parts PC cranberry-orange sauce, 1 part sweet chili sauce (thai-style not ketchup-based) and 1 part green seasoning. These were mixed and brushed over the top of the arranged meat. Then the dish was baked in the oven for 1 hour at 350F.

If you are in a hurry and you have a microwave-safe dish, you can cut the time dramatically by starting in the microwave for 4-6 mins depending on quantity  and finishing for 15 minutes in the oven. We served the pork with wild rice, fresh steamed asparagus and fried plantain.

Jackson-Triggs Malbec MerlotMarius and Andreea brought along a Jackson-Triggs Malbec Merlot which paired nicely with the meal, even if it was a little warmer than it should have been with the weather here in Ottawa being unseasonably warrm. Many people do not take into account that ‘room temperature’ for red wines is of European origin and translates to about 18C -20C.

Oven-baked Vegetable Samosas with Raspberry Yogourt sauceAlso worthy of note is the sauce I hobbled together to accompany the samosas that we served as an appetizer. I did not make the pastries myself but had been so enamoured of the sauce that accompany those made by The Pearl of India, that I attempted to reproduce their sauce from guesswork. I think I came pretty close by starting with raspberry yogourt, adding some raspberry and white balsamic vinaigrette and a little milk to obtain a pouring consistency in a ratio of approximately  (2:1:1)

We finished the meal off with another perennial favourite, this time, one of Dorothy’s popular offerings: Rhubarb Custard Cake. This was prepared using fresh rhubarb from our garden. Sorry, no picture, so you will just have to imagine how good it tasted

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Barley Mow in Orleans – much more than Pub Food

Barley Mow at Tenth Line in Orleans, Ottawa

The Diner’s Lament

The Supper Seven have a weekly plight:

Where do we eat of a Friday night?

I know, said Debbie, just where to go:

A place in Orleans called The Barley Mow

And by gosh, do you know, she was right…

Our choice of restaurant for the Supper Seven’s usual Friday night jaunt was a little more contentious than normal this week. More often than not, we come to a reasonably quick and harmonious consensus but this particular evening, it seemed we were dealing with the nascent raging hormones of a soon to be young lady. It was a reminder to me of the fact that being a parent is not all fun and games. In any event, one of our group was distinctly unhappy with our choice of venue as we headed to the Barley Mow on 10th Line Road, Orleans in Ottawa’s East End. If you don’t often travel to this part of Gloucester, you will be amazed how built-up it has become and how many new choices for dining out there now are in the area.

First Impressions: This was actually at least our 3rd visit, so we had some idea of what to expect. Since we rarely make reservations on a Friday evening, the Barley Mow is a good choice because it usually has space and this evening was no exception. Still, it was busy and about at 80% of capacity. Since it has only been open for a couple of years, layout and decor is clean and modern,  seeming more of a restaurant than a traditional pub though!  It was immediately apparent from her friendly greeting and obvious affinity for the girls that the server would be a plus.

What we ordered: The two younger girls ordered nachos and chicken nuggets and fries. Both looked good but the portion size would have been suitable for an adult. What kind of a message are we sending to our young ones when we put more on their plate than they could possibly eat? Amber, still feeling contrary having been unsuccessful in swaying the majority, chose a smoked meat sandwich of which she uncharacteristically ate only half. Norma chose chicken curry, which although fairly spicy and voluminous, was deemed a hit. Dorothy chose a strip sirloin steak wrapped in a potato pancake which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Personally, somewhat unusually for me, I chose the daily special which was prime rib. I cautioned the server that I was only interested if I could be assured of it not being overcooked. Even though I grew up believing that properly cooked beef should always look greyish, I now only really like it when I can see mostly pink or even red. There was a slight scare when our server was unsure whether they had any horseradish which would also have been a deal-breaker for me! The Barley Mow did not disappoint: the beef was exactly as I would have cooked it for myself and the roast potatoes were perfect.

For dessert, Dorothy and I shared a slice of chocolate mousse cake. Because it was unlike any that we had elsewhere, we asked it is was made on premises. We were told that desserts were brought in from outside and changed constantly. In any event, we were glad to have taken the chance and practically fought over the last bite.

Summary

  • Positives: Everyone was happy with their food. Server obviously enjoyed her job. Dessert was outstanding.
  • Negatives: I can’t think of anything major except that the food was not piping hot and my side salad was served with my meal rather than before it as is customary in most restaurants.
  • Summary: Everybody will be able to find something they like on the varied menu here. Food and service are both good.
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality **** Good
Price $$$ Moderate
Decor *** Acceptable
Service ***** First Class
Overall Rating **** Above Average

 

The Barley Mow Pub on Urbanspoon

 

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There’s no recession in East Syracuse at Joey’s

Joey's Italian Restaurant at Carrier CircleTurning Stone Resort & CasinoThis week, I took a brief business trip South of the Border. About once a month or so, I meet up with my business partner, Mike,  who lives in Vermont. Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Upper New York State, is approximately halfway between our locations, so it is the place that we most often meet. Often, we stay at the hotel in the casino, when prices are favourable. Lately, we have discovered that there is a hotel called The Inn at Turning Stone, owned and operated by the resort which is located just 1/2 mile down the road. Its rates are currently much more attractive ($58.50 per night with CAA discount), and thus, this time, we opted to stay there. This also meant that we were not enticed to limit our selection of restaurant to those located on site, most of which are merely mediocre.

Several years ago now, we operated a consulting business with Syracuse as its base and thus we are familiar with the area and some of its better and worse dining establishments. One of our perennial favourites had always been Joey’s Italian Restaurant located on Thompson Road in East Syracuse, just off Carrier Circle at exit 35 on the I90 thruway. We decided for old times sake that we would make the 20 minute drive from Turning Stone in Vernon and check it out.

First Impressions: The first thing that I noticed was that the exterior had been given a fresh lick of paint. This was a good omen! On the inside, nothing appeared to have changed much including the fact that the place was packed to the gills – on a Tuesday evening no less. We were told to expect a wait time of 15-20 minutes which seemed quite reasonable, so we took a seat at the bar. One thing out of the ordinary was that the bartender insisted on holding a credit card before allowing us to run a tab?! Within the allotted time, we were ushered to a pleasantly situated table by an amiable server.

What we ordered:  Mike invariably orders the Veal Parmigan with spaghetti and meat sauce here and tonight was no exception. He also ordered a tomato-mozzarella salad to start which is another of his favourites. For myself, I ordered Veal and Shrimp Marsala over pasta with a side salad. I should warn you that portions here tend to be on the large side, so bear that in mind when you order. The salad and home-made italian dressing was a great start along with fresh, warm, crusty Italian bread served with whipped, herbed butter. I limited myself to two slices though I could easily have made a meal of just this! My shrimp and veal, sauteed with mushrooms and red peppers was delicious, although the pasta was, somewhat surprisingly, a little overcooked. I selected a glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling to accompany my meal and was very happy with the choice.

I saved a little space, because I recalled that desserts here were out of the ordinary. From the fairly exhaustive list on offer, I selected a White & Dark Chocolate Torte which was melt-in-the-mouth delicious. Somewhat unusually for me, I finished the meal off with a decaf Capuccino which which is often a risky thing to do. Once more, Joey’s did not disappoint.

Our bill, for the two of us was around $90US, which I consider to be really reasonable in light of the quality of the food. If you just happen to be in the area, I would heartily recommend that you pay Joey a visit!

Where to cruise in Syracuse?

Syracuse may not be the greatest city

In Upper New York, more’s the pity

But Joey’s will improve your mood

If you’re looking for good food

‘cos his cuisine is more than just pretty…

 

Joey's on Urbanspoon

 

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Only 100 Calories? Personally, I’ll take the Chocolate!

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It seems that just about everybody these days is counting calories! Dr. Oz, the latest of Oprah’s fitness gurus is always enticing us to eat healthy with some new Superfood! Personally, I find it all a little too much. My personal motto is: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!’ Anyway, for those of you determined to eat in a more healthy manner, here are some interesting replacements for junk food when those hunger pangs start gnawing at your insides!

100 Calorie Chocolate barThose 100-calorie snack packs are tasty, convenient, and perfectly portioned for calorie counters. And they’re selling like iPhones on opening day. But what’s nutritious about a handful of Cheese Nips or Oreo Thins (even with no creamy centers to lick!)? Instead, try these 10 far healthier 100-calorie treats. Stash them in your desk drawer, fridge, and/or car — wherever hunger pangs hit you. The best part: Most will curb your appetite for hours because they’re high in filling fiber or satisfying protein.

via Snack smackdown: the 10 healthiest 100-calorie treats – Beauty Eats on Yahoo! Canada Lifestyle.

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Just down the road from the Pearl is a Ruby (King)

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chinese-buffet-in-orleans

Looking Good on the outside

I have to start off this week by declaring my bias: I am not generally a fan of Chinese Buffets in general and especially not of RubyKing in particular. Every now and then, simply because it is a favourite of a majority of the Supper Seven, I have to allow my own preferences to be overridden. So it was  that this evening, we headed to the Far East (of Orleans). It seems that there are quite a few of our favourite restaurants on St. Joseph Boulevard in Ottawa’s East End. In the last month or so, four of the six restaurants that we have reviewed have been within a mile or so of each other.

Why, you may well ask, am I not a huge fan of buffets? Well, first of all, although I rarely take more than one plate of food, I find I still end up eating more than I probably would if served an individual plate. Second, because some dishes can be sitting around for some time, the food is not always the freshest. The main reason, however, is that generally, I find there is a ‘sameness’ to the food, regardless of the content. This is especially so, for me at least, with Ruby King. There is nothing particular that I could or would complain about, I just don’t come away feeling ‘wowed’! My favourite part is usually (and this visit was no exception), the fruit selection for dessert.

my plate of foodI suppose, as Chinese buffets go, this is probably one of the better ones. After all, there must be a reason why 6 out of the Supper Seven have absolutely no problems with coming here on a regular basis! There are a couple of things I can recommend: The grilled shrimp on a skewer! A little messy to peel but always delicious. Buddha’s (or Monk’s) delight, if fresh is really good with crisp juicy bok choy! The chicken wings are a favourite of several of our group and a principal reason for coming apparently.

Pictured at the left is my personal selection of food. Normally, I do not select more than I can eat but this night my eyes were far ahead of my stomach. This was no fault of the food, since perhaps somewhat uncharacteristically, almost all the dishes were fresh.

We have come to know most of the serving staff as well as the owner and we are always treated almost like family. The fact that so many of the staff have remained the same over the years is a sign of a well-run establishment.

Ruby King: Not my thing!

Look, I’m not really that hard to please

And it’s not that I don’t like Chinese

But the food’s kinda tame

To me, it all tastes the same

So no A’s here just C’s…

Summary

  • Positives: Wide variety of food. Very children friendly.
  • Negatives: They increase the price $2.00  Friday-Saturdays. Too much sweet sauces
  • Summary: If you like Chinese buffets, you should probably give this one a whirl.
Category Rating Explanation
Food Quality *** Average
Price $$$ Moderate
Decor *** Pleasant
Service *** Good
Overall Rating *** Worth a try

 

Ruby King on Urbanspoon

Ruby King on Restaurantica

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Un-Chef’s Black Forest Cake

Done in the microwave in 15 minutes

Ridiculously Easy Black Forest Cake

This recipe which was included in the first edition of the Un-cookbook, had been ignored for a few years until this recent Good Friday. We needed something quick and easy and luckily this time-tested recipe sprung to mind. Every so often, you have a need for an impressive dessert and yet have neither the time nor inclination to make much  of an effort. Such was our case.

There are only five ingredients: 1 double chocolate cake mix, 3 large eggs, 1 can of cherry pie filling for the cake,  plus  1 chocolate bar with 1/2 cup of sour cream for the icing. The first three ingredients are mixed together in  a bowl and then cooked either in the microwave or the oven in a bundt pan. For the icing, you melt the chocolate bar and blend in the sour cream and apply it as a glaze to the cooled cake.

In the interests of completeness, I must admit that the actual cake pictured was modified slightly. I did not have a full can of cherry pie filling, so I added unsweetened yogourt to make up the missing amount (about 1/2 a can). For the icing, the only chocolate bar around was a Mars bar. So, that is what I used.

For those who require it, you can download the original recipe as it appeared in our Un-Cookbook (download recipe as pdf file)

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