Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's a Farm Boy Day! So Shop the Farm Boy Kitchen!

Click to add a blog post for Farm Boy Kitchen on Zomato
Sunday for lunch my wife and I decided to try out the Farm Boy Kitchen (665 Industrial Avenue, Ottawa).  Located within the grocery store itself, the food is laid out in a buffet serve yourself hot table style format and billed by weight.  Current pricing was $1.99 per 100 grams for salads and regular entrees plus $2.99 for 12 oz of soup.

After selecting from an assortment of options including chili, soups, spaghetti and more, customers check out via the regular grocery store checkouts before being able to sit in the front food court style seating area or exiting the store to take their food home.

We gathered our order, checked out and seated ourselves in the food court seating area.  But we had made a big mistake.  We didn't get the Farm Boy Salad Bar Card that entitles customers to purchase ten salads and receive one free.  With out combined order we would have had two salads.  We tried later on, with our receipts, to obtain a Farm Boy Salad Bar Card and load the points we would have had with the same cashier, but we were out luck and needed to do that at time of purchase.  Ah well, at least we tried.

The Order: "Power Packed Quinoa Veggie Chili" with Potato Salad and an Organic City Roast Coffee.

After checking out and sitting down I noted I made a big mistake.  I somehow had loaded up on twenty dollars worth of potato salad.   That is one of the dangers of paying by weight, some foods weigh more than others and this potato salad was apparently pretty chunky in the weight category.

Potato Salad
Potato Salad

The potato salad itself was quite tasty with potatoes sliced into chunks and mixed into a mayonnaise based  potato salad dressing. Worth having again, but in lesser quantities.

Power Packed Quinoa Veggie Chili
Power Packed Quinoa Veggie Chili

The Power Packed Quinoa Veggie Chili was indeed power packed.  Yes, in the spice department! Otherwise the Quinoa chili was an interesting texture as I slowly ate it due to the spiciness.

Organic City Roast Coffee
Organic City Roast Coffee
The Organic City Roast Coffee was labelled a "medium blend" but it turned out to be a little more of a dark roast.  Sure the coffee was flavorful but a little strong on average taste buds.  At $0.99 for a cup about the size of a Tim Hortons Medium and better quality coffee it's worth a trip.

Overall, the Farm Boy Kitchen is worth the trip to try it out.  Lots of selection to choose from but be careful in the weight department to avoid a nasty surprise at the check out.  Apparently some people try to forgo purchasing the Farm Boy rice and instead cook their own at home while purchasing other items at the Farm Boy Kitchen like the curried dishes to save on cost but still take part in the convenience.  If you're in the area for groceries and are looking for a quality lunch, the Farm Boy Kitchen is worth a look.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Pricey Continental Bagel

Click to add a blog post for Continental Bagel Co. on Zomato Friday for lunch I headed to the Byward Market to try out Continental Bagel in the Byward Market Square building (55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa).

  It was 11:00 a.m and one customer was just leaving after having their order prepared at a Subway sandwich shop counter like set up.  Another customer in front of me was putting in their order which, ironically, was the same as what I was going to order.

In the background was another employee working at a wood fired oven carefully rolling, placing and inserting the bagels into the oven on long wooden planks to bake. The whole restaurant set up looked like a Kettleman's Bagel set up fined tuned to fit into the historic Byward Market Square building.

I waited patiently for the single server to ring up the previous customer's purchase, slowly put the bagel sandwich together. I almost considered going elsewhere to grab a bite as I watched the previous customer's order come together slightly faster than a snails pace.  But eventually everything was wrapped up and, knife polished and I was ready to order.

The Order: 1 Turkey Sandwich (lettuce, tomato, deli sliced turkey, etc.) on a Poppy seed bagel. $6.75 including taxes.

The server punched in my order, I paid, and he proceeded to put together my order at the sandwich bar.  First grabbing a poppy seed bagel from the glass front display, cutting it and then going from container to container of ingredients.  Nothing fresh looking about any of the ingredients.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if, like subway ingredients, they come presliced in a package from some warehouse and placed in the containers then brought and inserted into the sandwich bar.  After the sandwich was completed and placed in the container, the server then went onto wipe his knife and the sandwich bar before then handing me my sandwich.  

Next, I headed over to Maple Valley Tea World for a Peppermint Tea before finally landing in Major's Hill Park for a fabulous lunch outdoors while being overlooked by Ottawa's Parliament Buildings.

Turkey Bagel Sandwich from Continental Bagel
Turkey Bagel Sandwich from Continental Bagel

The bagel sandwich was average.  A slightly hardened crust outside gave way to an average tough inside similar to any store bought bagel.  Nothing really fresh about this, perhaps the bagel I had a was mere day old.  The toppings, as expected, weren't that special at all in freshness.  But to be fair, the bagel bakery is meant for fresh bagels and not fresh lettuce, tomatoes or toppings.  But at six dollars and change with tax I had expected a little more than an average bagel put together like fast food subway sandwich.

Overall, an average nothing special sandwich.  Was it decent? Yes, but is it the best food offering in that building let alone the Byward Market?  Nope, far from it.  This place will be fine for the picky eaters under the age of eighteen looking for something to eat while Mom and Dad enjoy better quality food from elsewhere along with the ambiance of the market.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Babies love Words

As a new father I've noticed that my daughter has not only grown in size but grown in personality.

It's been over eight months since her birth and watching her grasp new concepts and objects has been fun.  To watch her face light up as she drinks water from her cup or surprises herself at scooching across the floor is priceless.

But what I can't get over is some of her interesting individual nuances especially word sounds.
Early it was words like "zing" or "zoom" that would give her the giggles.  Of course she has gradually out grown these words and no longer smiles at them.  That is unless I surprise her and say them out of no where.

I love every day I find a new word that makes her laugh.  One day I was changing her diaper and was doing up her onesie.  For whatever reason I decided to count the snaps out loud:

"one snap"

*giggle*

"two snaps"

*giggle*

"three snaps"

*giggle*

hmmmm... I thought,

"four snaps?"

*giggle*

"snaps?"

*giggle*

"snappy, snaps, snaps"

*laughs!*

To this day "snaps" and "thump" are my two favourite go to words when my daughter is showing signs of being upset.  Coupled with a hug and it turns that emerging frown to an ear to ear smile.

I'm not sure what why the words "snaps" and "thumps" are funny.  But sometimes as a parents you don't question it, especially when you can add them to your arsenal to turn an emerging melt down around into something worth smiling about.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Original Souvlaki from a Food Truck....Er...Trailer at Ottawa Street Eats

Click to add a blog post for The Original Souvlaki on Zomato For August 1st, I received an invitation from TW Events to attend the first ever Ottawa Street Eats festival.

Basically the Ottawa Street Eats festival, located at the Aviation & Space Museum, was an assortment of the Ottawa area's food trucks accompanied by interesting special event only food stands and craft breweries.   Before the event, I reviewed who would be attending the festival to get a feel for who would be there and which food and drinks I would have.

There was quite the collection to choose from with everything from Asian to Greek to Hot Dogs & Fries, heck there was even Brewbar's awesome caffeinated beverages available.  Lots to choose from to be paired by some of Ottawa's best craft beers.

Ottawa Street Eats Banner
Ottawa Street Eats Banner

After arriving at the Aviation and Space Museum on OC Transpo and easily finding the Ottawa Street Eats festival, I reviewed my selection of food trucks to confirm my original first choice, The Original Souvlaki food trailer. I had my heart set on having a traditional souvlaki platter with either pork or chicken souvlaki, rice, potatoes and salad accompanied by tzatziki sauce.

The Original Souvlaki Trailer
The Original Souvlaki Trailer
With not many festival attendees having arrived yet, I was able to order.

Souvlaki Platter
Souvlaki Platter
The Order: 1 Souvlaki Platter.

The Souvlaki platter was $10.00, not bad overall and, like Jimmy the Greek, only had one skewer.  Hmmm, seems to be a theme, less Souvlaki than the traditional two skewers found in the Toronto area.  I paid for the plate and left to find an outdoor table at the festival.

The Souvlaki itself was not bad from a food truck, but not gourmet either.  Just plain straight up Souvlaki served on a skewer displayed with all the usual food offerings like any Greek fast food location.  Nothing gourmet but nothing terrible either.  Just regular straight up Greek style Pork Souvlaki.

The Pita bread was a nice touch.  Add a Tzatziki sauce with it, and the odd vegetable, it was delicious!

The rice was a little to be desired, it was dry and slightly overcooked.  This was probably because for speed of service in assembling orders the rice needs to be cooked and held to be served. The rice, thus, can't be served up fresh as perhaps a regular restaurant might on a per order basis.

Overall, the Original Souvlaki food trailer is a welcome addition to the Ottawa food scene.  Since the Ottawa Street Eats festival, the trailer has secured a permanent home at 680 Bank Street next to Kunstadt Sports in the Glebe.  A little fine tuning of the rice and this new addition will be a welcome addition to the Glebe.

Ottawa Streets Eats festival was an enjoyable experience once inside.  A variety of food trucks complimented the craft beers of such Ottawa area breweries like Kichesippi Beer, Mill Street, Whitewater Brewing Company, and many more.

Brewbar
Brewbar

The final best piece of the festival was Brewbar, the portable coffee bar that appears at many of Ottawa's events.  With the skilled hands of Paul Klutchert at the coffee bar, I enjoyed a creamy Latte to go.  The Latte provided a fine end to a great day out investigating this interesting, yet tasteful, hopefully yearly event.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lot's of Space at Spud's Barrhaven Potato Bar

Click to add a blog post for Spud's Potato Bar and Poutinerie on Zomato Last week for lunch I found myself in Barrhaven following a client meeting for my business and decided to visit another Spud's Potato Bar & Poutinerie (80 Marketplace Avenue, Ottawa) like my previous visit to one across town at the Elmvale Shopping Centre.

This Spud's is located in a large big box store plaza in suburban Barrhaven. This location is easily accessed either via the nearby parking lots off Marketplace Avenue or using OC Transpo's Marketplace Transitway station.

I entered about 11:45 a.m. to an empty storefront with two employees behind the counter.  I appeared to be the first customer of the day as I walked up, reviewed the menus on the overhead digital screens and placed my order.

Spud's Potato Bar & Poutinerie Storefront

The Order: 1 Macho Nacho Poutine and 1 500 ml bottle of Pepsi.

The two ladies behind the counter started preparing my order as soon as the cash drawer closed on the register.

Spud's Potato Bar & Poutinerie Interior

I sat for perhaps five minutes reading the newspaper I brought with me.  The interior is nothing special with traditional wooden restaurant tables for groups along with a counter running along the window for those singles wishing to people watch those passing by on the sidewalk outside.  The main colour scheme is what I call "obnoxious burnt orange".

Eventually my order was ready and I returned to the counter to pick it up and schlep it back to my table.

Macho Nacho Poutine
The Macho Nacho Poutine was interesting.  It started out a little lacking with all the toppings tasting like they were just out of the fridge.  My first forkful was unappealing as my tongue was expecting warm poutine fries with a side of ground beef nacho taste.  Instead it was met with a mix of cold salsa and sour cream.  I guess this dish is meant to be stirred like "fruit on the bottom yogurt" as the hot fries were buried underneath while the cold nacho style toppings were on the top. A little stirring seem to do the trick and I was finally able to enjoy a nacho themed poutine.

Overall, this Spud's Potato Bar & Poutinerie has decent service, but that was to be expected with two employees and only one customer.  Later I found out one employee was in training which was perfect as it was a slow day for customers coming in the door. So kudos to Spud's for that!   I enjoyed my meal and would definitely return if I was in the area.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Two Guys at a Five Guys? Why so?

Click to add a blog post for Five Guys Burgers & Fries on ZomatoEarlier this month I made a couple of trips out to Barrhaven to visit clients for my business.  After a client visit I usually stop off for a meal before heading home.

Five Guys Burgers & Fries (1181 Greenbank Road, Ottawa) is near OC Transpo's Strandherd Transitway station and also easily accessible from the nearby Greenbank Road.  I use this as great spot to both transfer from nearby streets to Ottawa's transit system to head homewards.

This Five Guys Burgers & Fries is located in the Riocan Centre located at Greenbank & Strandherd.  During the weekdays it is a nice quiet place to have lunch as most locals are either in school or gone to work in downtown Ottawa.

I entered shortly after noon on two occasions about a month apart.  I was warmly welcomed by one "Guy".  There was another "Guy" at the grill with burger flipper in hand eagerly awaiting my order to begin cooking.  

This brings me to an eternal question I have of this franchised set of burger places. Sure Five Guys, as you'd expect, was founded and operated by five guys.  However, each store isn't operated by five guys working the kitchen. Today there were only two.  Heck, one time I visited the Ottawa Trainyards location to find the store worked by "Five Gals".  And no, they don't change the sign when that happens.  But I hilariously digress.

I, of course being a Five Guys periodic attendee across town at Trainyards, already knew what I wanted to order...

The Order: 1 Little Hamburger, 1 Regular Fries and 1 Regular Coke.

I paid and received my regular size fast food style beverage cup to fill at the nearby fountain drink station nearby.  The kitchen "Guy" started his magic by unloading one paddy onto the grill and the other "Guy" started the fries.

As I waited I loaded up on the free peanuts and started munching as my burger and fries cooked.

It's pretty quiet on the two occasions I ate there.  Only the odd area worker and stay at home moms and dads stop by with their little charges bringing up the rear.   This makes for a semi-quiet atmosphere that probably changes after school and work lets out. But for a daytime lunch spot I'll take it!

The burger and fries usually are ready about ten minutes after ordering.  I visit the counter, grab the paper bag and return to my seat.

The burger, as usual, is awesome with it's own unique taste as they grill burgers using peanut oil.  I usually top the burgers "All the way" which includes ketchup, relish, mustard, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, grilled mushrooms, and grilled onions which provides a delectable tasty burger combination.  The only complaint is the burger's appearance after unwrapped.  Both Five Guys Barrhaven and Trainyards have burgers that appear "smushed" when unwrapped from the tin foil.  Is there no way around this?  It's like the burgers are put together and then roughly wrapped by the kitchen crew using cinder block hands. Is there not cardboard burger packaging like McDonald's has for their Big Macs.

The fries were overflowing as usual.  The key thing with Five Guys Fries is they first take the regular size container, fill it and then add another heap of fries into your bag.  Sometimes they can be a little oversalted to some tastes but I usually find them just right.  Make sure to get ample enough ketchup for your fries.  Pro tip: After opening your paper bag and unloading the hamburgers, strategically rip the paper bag to lay flat at on the table to provide a communal french fries station!

Overall, the Five Guys Burgers & Fries in Barrhaven is a great spot for lunch.  Quiet atmosphere and good service accompanied with the taste that Five Guys' is known for makes it hit with me.  I wouldn't hang around till the evenings though, especially on the weekends, when this location must be hopping with the area locals and tables must be hard to find. When in Barrhaven, I'll be back!

Friday, June 05, 2015

A Zomato Meetup at EVOO Greek Kitchen

Click to add a blog post for EVOO Greek Kitchen on ZomatoA couple of weeks ago I received an invite from Zomato to attend Ottawa's first Zomato Meetup at EVOO Greek Kitchen (438 Preston Street, Ottawa).

After purchasing Urbanspoon in January 2015, and after many months of Zomato's tech team amalgamating and sifting through reams of data,  finally turning out the lights on Urbanspoon on June 1st, I was intrigued about learning more about Zomato and what their meet ups entailed.

I arrived at  6:25 after a tour of Ottawa's Little Italy, Preston Street to find one other local food blogger already there.   While waiting for others to arrive water and red and white wines were offered. Our waiter, Michael, stopped by periodically to refill our drinks even with asking. There were some times throughout our meal I could have sworn I emptied my glass only to look back two seconds later to find it full again.

EVOO Greek Kitchen on Preston Street

The Zomato Community Managers Samantha (Ottawa Community Manager) and Kevin (Canada East Lead Community Manager) handed out the set menus for the evening.

Michael gave our party of ten an explanation of how things are served at EVOO. All the meals were served "family style" with individuals being able to dish out to their own plates.  This made serving from the kitchen pretty easy as all they had to do was to artistically arrange the food on large wooden cutting boards and add utensils to serve to the smaller plates provided to each diner.

Greek Spread for Appetizers

The appetizers were a mixture of Greek dips to be spread on pita bread. The dips were melitzanossalata, spicy feta dip and taramosalata. These all had different textures and tastes ranging from similar to a yogurt to a spicy aftertaste.  This was accompanied by a separate dish of Cypriout Halloumi Cheese.  This is a fried cheese was quite interesting as it was soft and chewy.

Fried Octopus, Greek Salad & Calamari

Next was the interesting part of the evening. Fried Octopus and Calamari with Greek Salad. Terrific except at our table of four (the other table had six) there was 1 vegan and three who didn't care for seafood.

I was willing try one of the offerings and thought the Fried Octopus seemed interesting.  But where do we begin? The four of us had no clue as seafood wasn't really our specialty.  A few sheepish looks at each other and gazes to the other table finally brought some helpful guidance to avoid the more charred end.    The Fried Octopus was a surprisingly tasty dish that I equate to a pork chop.   I finished the whole thing and had a second tentacle.  For the record, the suction cup like pieces of a traditional octopus  after cooking do not stick to your mouth or throat on the way down.

Roast Lamb & Greek Chicken
Next was the Roast Lamb and the Greek Chicken. The best part of the night! The lamb was perfectly prepared being tender.  The chicken was too die for!  Great preparation all around.

Luckily, out of the four at my table, one person had to leave for a soccer game, another had her own vegetarian dish (which also received rave reviews) and the Zomato representatives switched!  So I got even more of the Lamb and Chicken deliciousness!

Overall, the food was excellent and the chef even came out to greet us. He was originally from Greece and started this restaurant after coming to Canada.  He fills an Ottawa need superbly, well made Greek cuisine that simply isn't fast food prepared by mere high school kids.

The service, as you would expect was awesome with probably their best waiter and supplementary assistance. This is really the only thing that bothered me. Of course I'm going to get the gold plated treatment when your expecting me and other writers there looking to write about their experience.  It kind of removes the intention of writing about the average experience a regular person off the street might encounter.

The Swag!

Zomato meetups are interesting and I would gladly do this again as it was fun to meet other local bloggers who not only write about restaurant food but also fashion, recipes, newspaper (local neighborhood newspaper editor) and social media.  It was also interesting to put a face to a name on the old Urbanspoon and new Zomato Leaderboards.

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