Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in a small town.  I was always in the same room of the same house on the same street for all the first nineteen years of my life until I moved to the big city.  So really, my hometown and my parents’ house still feels very much like home to me.  I will always look at the place I grew up as home.

The back of the house I grew up in

However, I have now lived in the city for almost 9 years and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else again.  I’m used to the pace and the constant stimulation that you don’t get back in the country and probably will never leave again.  Or at least, not for many years.

A view of the city I live in from the apartment I lived in a few years ago

The Boyfriend’s Restaurant Review

The boyfriend recently wrote a Facebook note about our experiences in our local restaurants. We’re constantly on the lookout for a restaurant we both like and can visit often when we’re feeling peckish but it seems in our town, we’re cursed to really only find ones that are very average or horrible. I’m accepting of our city’s failure to provide delicious food at decent prices but the boyfriend is not. The following is his take on the restaurants we’ve visited in the last couple of years. Here and there I’ve inserted my own comments in bold when I felt it was necessary.

Is it really that hard to find a restaurant in London that is truly exceptional? Apparently so… here’s my restaurant review roundup:

NOTE: I’ve starred my personal favourites.

Archies Fish & Chips

Archies is your average fish & chips place. The food is generally good, but not exceptional. It has a friendly relaxed (casual) atmosphere.

  • Taste: Average-Decent.
  • Portions: Good.
  • Price: Average.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Rating: 3.5/5 (Decent).

We did the breakfast buffet on a Sunday once and it was the strangest thing to have fish products included in a breakfast buffet. However, it was surprisingly delicious.

Bernie’s Bar & Grill

Decent bar & grill.

  • Taste: Average-good.
  • Portions: Fair.
  • Price: Average-good.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Good.
  • Comments: Bernies was my favourite bar & grill for a while. Until they changed their suicide wings so they now taste more like “not even moderately spicey” wings. Also their battered mushrooms are way too greasy.
  • Rating: 3/5 (Meh).

I will say that Bernie’s has a really good spinach and artichoke dip and their potato skins are marvelous.

Big City Diner (Big City Bistro)

Located where East Town pizza use to be is a steaming pile of a restaurant which I have no idea how they stay in business.

  • Taste: Meh.
  • Portions: Small.
  • Price: Awful.
  • Service: Atrocious. People who came in AFTER me were served first, had to wait forever for a pathetically small meal that was overpriced and tasted average.
  • Presentation: Meh.
  • Comments: This is the worst dining experience I’ve ever had in London. Congratulations on being London’s crappiest restaurant.
  • Rating: 0/5 (Worst Place Ever).

This place was awful. I ordered a hamburger and sweet potato fries and the burger was dry and small and there were about twelve sweet potato fries. This lovely little (and I stress LITTLE) cost me $15.

**Coras

Amazing delicious breakfasts served with fresh fruit.

  • Taste: Excellent!
  • Portions: Large.
  • Price: Decent.
  • Service: Excellent, friendly, they keep the coffee full 🙂
  • Presentation: Beautiful.
  • Comments: Coras is hands down my favourite breakfast restaurant in London and one of the few places that I am never let down by. IMHO it may be slightly more expensive than some other breakfast places, but the quality and the service makes it worth it.
  • Rating: 5/5 (Exceptional).

I freaking love Cora’s. Their Eggs Benadictine is phenomenal and their breakfast potatoes are so tasty smothered in white cheddar, onions and ketchup. It is a little pricey but considering the quality of the food, the atmosphere and the very friendly staff, it’s totally recommended. I agree with the boyfriend. Our server from the first visit recognized us on the return trip and commented how nice our comment card was. This place it totally awesome.

Crabby Joe’s

Your average bar & grill. Generally does not disappoint, but occasionally screws up royally.

  • Taste: Generally Good.
  • Portions: Decent.
  • Price: Okay.
  • Service: Poor.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Comments: Crabby Joes is a decent bar & grill and they have very good cheese fries (when they don’t screw them up which is about 50/50).
  • Rating: 3/5 (Average).

I have eaten several things off the menu and my favourite thus far is the spinach and artichoke dip. It’s delicious and always nice and hot. Boyfriend is right, depending on when you go and how busy it is, the service can really suck, however. Waiting forever for cheese fries that have way less than the one you ordered last time is kind of a bummer.

East Side Mario’s

Hey badda-boom-badda-meh!

  • Taste: Average:.
  • Portions: Average.
  • Price: Too much (IMHO).
  • Service: Poor-Average.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Comments: Nothing really impressed me with East Side Mario’s. It’s pasta, it’s priced average to somewhat high, there’s better options.
  • Rating: 2/5 (Sucks).

I kind of have a little soft spot for East Side’s because I worked there as a host for a year when I was in school. I had great times with fun people, and I definitely had my favourite dishes to eat (Mario’s potatoes…mmmmmm). However, having gone back since and seeing that they changed the menu and the way they prepare some of my fave foods, I haven’t been back since then. I think it’s become a nostalgia place.

Golden Griddle

Relaxed casual atmosphere, attentive friendly waiters, large portions, breakfast buffet.

  • Taste: Average.
  • Portions: Large.
  • Price: Average.
  • Service: Great.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Comments: Golden Griddle was my favourite breakfast place until I discovered Coras. It’s still not bad. I’ve never had bad service there and you get large portions for average prices. However, I’ve often had my food served luke-warm such that it gets cold while I’m eating it.
  • Rating: 3.5/5 (Decent).

I like this place, but honestly, it’s on the other side of town and we can get to Cora’s much faster when we have a hankering for breakfast food. Mmmm….breakfast food…

Jack Astor’s

Yet another average bar & grill.

  • Taste: Okay.
  • Portions: Average.
  • Price: Average-Slightly high.
  • Service: Average.
  • Presentation: Decent.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

This place is one of my personal favourites to actually visit with my friends from work at lunch for their lunch specials. They’re so damn good…especially with a beer.

**The Keg

Quality steak, pricey but delicious.

  • Taste: Excellent.
  • Portions: Very good.
  • Price: Very High 😦
  • Service: Excellent.
  • Presentation: Great.
  • Comments: The Keg is the only place I’ve had steak that didn’t disappoint me. However, you get what you paid for so prepare to have your wallet emptied.
  • Rating: 4/5 (Great, only -1 because of the price).

The Keg rocks…that is all.

Kelsey’s

The epitome of mediocre. If you love bland & average you’ll love Kelseys.

  • Taste: Average.
  • Portions: Average.
  • Price: Average-Meh.
  • Service: Average.
  • Presentation: Average-Meh.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

I used to be a total spaz for the balssalmic chicken penne…but again, they changed the recipe and now i just don’t care. I also rate it a meh.

Mandarin Chinese Buffet

For the cost to get in, I’d expect food with flavor!

  • Taste: Bland, bland bland.
  • Portions: N/A (buffet).
  • Price: High.
  • Service: N/A (buffet).
  • Presentation: Well, the buffet is nicely presented.
  • Comments: The Mandarin is grossly overrated. Everything is bland. Learn 2 spice.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

Nuts to the boyfriend, I love this place. Of course, he always says I like bland food. Personally I think he only likes food that so hot he can’t really taste the food.

Montana’s Cookhouse

Average American style cuisine (Steaks, Burgers, etc.).

  • Taste: Okay.
  • Portions: Average.
  • Price: Meh.
  • Service: Awful-poor. Waited over an hour for my steak which was overdone and child-size.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Rating: 2/4 (Sucks).

Boo, they removed the Jack Daniel’s glazed salmon from the menu. I disapprove. Also, the moose and deer heads from the commercials kind of creep me out. Though we went there for a work birthday once and the birthday girl had to wear giant moose antlers while they sang…so that was pretty awesome.

A happy birthday was had indeed

Milestones

Fancy restaurant, popular, expensive at least the food was good.

  • Taste: Good.
  • Portions: Somewhat small.
  • Price: High.
  • Service: Average.
  • Presentation: Excellent.
  • Comments: Milestones is a decent place go if you’re looking for something fancy and not necessarily concerned about price and/or getting full. Also, having to wait with a beeper to get in sucked!
  • Rating: 3/5 (Okay).

Freaking expensive and a little too trendy for my tastes, but the food was delicious. We didn’t have to wait very long with the beeper, it was not a travesty of epic proportions in the least. I had a gift card from work for Administrative Professional’s Day, so that’s why we tried it out.

Smoke N Bones

Southern style chicken & ribs cooked in a smoker.

  • Taste: Okay.
  • Portions: Small-Average.
  • Price: Meh.
  • Service: Poor-Average. Never asked if I wanted a refill.
  • Presentation: Average.
  • Comments: They have four of their own bbq sauces, but none of them are hotsauce? (wtf?) They were out of ribs when I went there which is what 90% of their menu contains.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

I don’t like spicy food…at all. I don’t really like southern cooking and they were out of ribs. So this pretty much sucked for me.

Smoke’s Poutinerie

All poutine, all the time.

  • Taste: Fail, how can you be an all poutine place with awful gravy?
  • Portions: Large.
  • Price: Decent.5196702353
  • Service: N/A
  • Presentation: It’s poutine!
  • Comments: Thrilled at the chance to try bacon on poutine I rushed to this place only to discover they have possibly the worst poutine gravy I’ve ever had and really if that’s all you serve, screwing it up is an epic fail.
  • Rating: 1/5 (Fail).

Contrary to popular belief, bacon does not make all things better. I thought I was going to throw up after about six bites of this. I gave all my bacon to the boyfriend and I still didn’t really enjoy the poutine.

Spaghetti Eddie’s

It’s pasta, what more do you expect!?

  • Taste: It’s spaghetti.
  • Portions: I expected more considering how dirt cheap it is to make spaghetti.
  • Price: Spaghetti is so cheap/easy to make there should’ve been more of it.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Good.
  • Comments: This place has a very unique atmosphere to it, but it’s cramped and for the cost I expected a lot more spaghetti. IMHO if you want pasta stay at home and make it, you’ll get 3x the amount (leftovers yay!) for half the price.
  • Rating: 2.5/5 (Meh).

Boyfriend is right, pasta is pasta and if you’re going to specialize in it, it should be better than this was. It was too expensive for what we got.

**The Symposium Cafe

Relaxed environment (comfy chairs!), friendly attentive service, high quality yummy food.

  • Taste: Excellent.
  • Portions: Good.
  • Price: Good.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Good.
  • Comments: I’ve only ate here once, but was very impressed. Look forward to going again. It seems to me like the perfect place for lunch.
  • Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good!).

I loved this place.  Their desserts are amazing….I had the cheesecake and it was so delicious.

**Tiger Jacks

Tacky atmosphere, good food with decent prices and good weekly specials. I love the atmosphere. There are stuffed tigers, tiger paintings and all kinds of the same all over the place. On Halloween, they dressed the tigers up. It was awesome.

  • Taste: Good-Very good.
  • Portions: Good.
  • Price: Fair.
  • Service: Good.
  • Presentation: Average-Good.
  • Comments: I’ve been to Tiger Jacks 3-4 times so far and they haven’t really let me down. The steak was kinda small, but the ribs and pizza were delicious.
  • Rating: 4/5 (Good).

I love the food here. The prices are decent and I’ve never been disappointed. The ribs were amazing and their ceasar salad is freaking awesome.
So there you have it.  We keep trying new places but most of them fail to provide what we’re looking for.  Also, I’m not really completely sure what we’re looking for at all, so that really doesn’t help.  I think we’re looking for huge helpings of delicious food at prices that don’t kill my bank account.  I’m starting to think that this may not really exist.  If anyone from around here has any suggestions of where to eat, let me know and we’ll check them out.