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Posts tagged ‘fish and chips’

Restaurant Review: National

Location: 225 8th Ave SW (Scotia Centre)
Website: http://ntnl.ca/

Though it’s classified as a restaurant, I wouldn’t exactly call National a restaurant, but then again it’s not exactly a pub or a bar either, so I suppose restaurant it is. Both of my parents have been to National before, one for a casual lunch and the other for a work hosted lunch. Both said that it was horrible, so naturally, I had to try it out for myself. Today I went with my sister and cousin.

My sister and I ordered a dry vanilla bean soda and my cousin had  a Village Monk Chai Porter 6.2%. I have never had a dry soda before and I’ve always wondered what dry alcohol was like…well now I know. Weirdest sensation in my mouth ever. The vanilla bean was very light, almost undetectable. It was a good experience, but not ordering that again. I’ll just stick to water since everything here is super salty. I have no idea what the porter tasted like, but not liking alcohol I’d probably say it’s bitter and gross and I don’t like it, lol.

I had been craving wings for weeks and I suppose this was my chance to go for some. Being a Wednesday, it was their special to have one pound of wings for $5, but it was only applicable after 3 and I wasn’t in the mood to wait until then for them. Knowing National’s reputation, I knew not to go for typical lunch items like the Mac and Cheese or any such things like my parents had. Instead we stuck to things under “Snacks and Standards,” the staples of a bar-pub-restaurant. We ordered the spicy hoisin wings, two bite corn dogs, and deep fried pickles. Originally we had intended to split them, have half spicy hoisin and the other half honey mustard, but were informed that we couldn’t do that (waitress said it isn’t our policy to do so). My sister then noted that that wouldn’t be enough food for the three of us and ordering more appetizer style foods would become quite costly, so we decided on a fish and chips.

The appetizers came first. As expected, the freshly cut vegetables paired with the wings were carrots and celery, which were very crudely cut. However, I didn’t expect there to only be 10 wings. For $14, I expected a little more than 10 wings, two carrot sticks, and two celery sticks. The flavour was good, spicy and sweet as promised, but not good enough to warrant a price that high. The fried pickles weren’t terrible, but they weren’t amazing either, though on the salty side as to be expected of food typically paired with beer or some sort of alcohol. I preferred National’s pickles to Buffalo Wild Wings because spears are easier to handle than slices, but I liked that Buffalo Wild Wings went with a smoky chipotle sauce rather than the slightly overused, classic, ranch dip. The corn dogs which I was most looking forward to turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I would say the choice to use a wiener with a case similar to those used on European wieners was commendable, the fact that is was buried and suffocated by the batter made it nearly undetectable. And the dipping sauce, the ballpark mustard, though different didn’t really live up to its name. It was a refreshing contrast to the two ranch dips with the wings and pickles, and there was a bit of tartness, but there was no uplifting zing that I expected from mustard.

Normally I really look forward to fish and chips, but I was disappointed yet again. The fish was greasy and the chips over-salted. The fish didn’t hold together well, crumbling the minute I tried to pick it up with my fork. The one wedge of lemon was hardly enough for one piece, let alone three pieces. I wish that they had some vinegar to go along with it as it would have helped to cut through the heaviness of the deep fried fish. Tartar sauce, though cream based still has a tartness to it, this tartar sauce did not have a single bright note on my palate. It was almost as bad as putting whipped butter into my mouth. The last thing on the plate, the coleslaw could have saved it, but it didn’t. It was bland and boring and honestly, there was no point to have it there at all. I think we would have made a better choice choosing a slider or a different main.

My assessment of the place is that everything was overpriced, over-salty, and very heavy. Service wasn’t great, but I didn’t expect it to be. In my experience, the service in places like these is on the negligent side. People tend to want to be left alone to their conversations rather than constantly interrupted by the waitress, which I understand and agree with. However, when you say a couple minutes and your waitress doesn’t come back for 15, it’s a bit annoying. Furthermore, when we asked for a split bill, we were told that it isn’t possible to split the food onto separate bills. Like really? Then why did you ask if we wanted separate bills in the first place?

I won’t be coming back to say the least. Next time I want bar food and drinks, I’ll make the extra effort to go across town to Buffalo Wild Wings. My parents said it was terrible, I should have taken their word for it. I’d rate it 1.5/5 because it is not worse than noodle box in Vancouver from some years back (at least I could eat this stuff), but I’d say I was being generous with that rating

Interior

National Interior

da drink

Dry Vanilla Bean Soda

fish and chips

Fish and Chips

the appies

Spicy Hoisin Wings, Deep Fried Pickles, and Two Bite Corn Dogs

.

 

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Restaurant Review: Tony’s Fish and Oyster Cafe

Location: 1511 Anderson St 

Before dinner we had walked down to Granville Island and decided to stick to something close by. My friend Julia suggested Tony’s Fish and Oyster Cafe. When we arrived there was a wait to get in, but to be fair the restaurant was quite small. There wasn’t enough space to sit in at the restaurant so we got it to go and walked down to the seating in the market place at Granville. My first instinct was to order the fish and chips, but my sister suggested that we should share the Seafood Sampler Platter for Two and we went with that instead because it encompassed so much more than just fish and chips. The platter had two pieces of fish and chips (one for each of us), four deep fried oysters, four butterflied shrimps, calamari and fries. With something as greasy as deep fried seafood, vinegar and/or lemon should be provided generously. This was not the case. We were only given one lemon wedge and two small packages of vinegar. Though I’m not a fan of oysters, deep fried oysters were bearable, but even so, I was only able to eat one, giving the other three to my sister. The butterflied shrimp were nothing special, but they had extra crunchy breading, which I suspect is panko, but can’t be 100% sure. The calamari was the most disappointing to me. They were underseasoned and flavourless. The fish was good in the middle because it was really tender and the breading was so crunchy that it satisfied my need for crunchy food. However, despite all that, I felt that the fish was overfried because some parts of it had gone hard and melded with the batter, something which I don’t think should happen.

Yes, it was a mess. Yes, it was greasy. But yes, I would have their fish and chips again if I ever got a craving. It was a quick meal, though next time I’d prefer to eat it in the comfort of my hotel room so no one will ever have to see my messy eating face. I would give this place a 3.5/5.

  

Restaurant Review: Montana’s Cookhouse

Location: 11654 Sarcee Trail NW
Website: http://www.montanas.ca/

Tonight, in celebration of my father and sister’s birthdays, we went out for dinner. Not really sure if this was actually their birthday dinner, but we can call it that. Like Boston Pizza, this is another restaurant that our family frequents. It is relatively cheap and offers a wide selection of items. I don’t know how we got into the habit, but every meal we have at a Western restaurant, we now always start with an appetizer. Maybe that was my fault?

Usually we get a starter platter which is like a combination of the cookhouse platter and the bbq starters platter, which consists of deep fried pickles, loaded baked potato skins, ribs, and four cheese spinach dip or something like that. There’s usually so much food I can’t really remember what’s there. And also the menu changes so I can’t always refer back to it. We’ve also ordered the calamari from here, but it’s really not that memorable, so I don’t remember if it was any good. Today’s appetizer was the Kapow! Shrimp. We had this a long time ago and I really like it, but it’s funny how memories are hardly accurate. Kapow! Shrimp are Jalapeno popcorn shrimp deep fried and tossed in Kapow! sauce served on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce in a skillet. The breading to shrimp ratio was way off. In other words, I cut the breaded shrimp in half and couldn’t find the shrimp. The batter was rather heavy and in my opinion over fried. It was so crunchy that at one point I thought I was going to break a tooth. The Kapow! sauce which is what gives the dish it’s name is a combination of creamy garlic and tangy Thai chili mixed garnished with fresh chopped cilantro and a splash of lemon/lime juice. The sauce itself was not evenly distributed on the shrimp leaving some very bland and others over coated. The chili was very slight and the jalapeno negligible; the sauce tasted like a cheap salad dressing and it certainly wasn’t worth the $12 it was priced at.

For our mains, I had the chicken tacos, my sister had the beef brisket sandwich, my mom had the fish and chips, and my dad had the sirloin. I have an affinity for tacos, so along with my obsession to try every restaurant’s take on calamari, I also want to try every restaurant’s take on the taco. Some of the best tacos I’ve had are from Joey’s Seafood. Now usually ordering tacos is not the best decision since portion sizes are small and they can be quite pricey. However, tonight I thought I’d just give it a chance. I was not disappointed.  I thought that two soft shell tacos would never fill me up. I have never been more wrong in my life. When they said “jam packed” I thought, “Yeah right,” but they were pretty packed. It had all the same things tacos come with: lettuce, cheese, red onions, diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and lime juice. So what did they bring to the table that made these tacos different? There were a couple pieces of tortilla chips, but that wasn’t what made it “special.” No, it was their Kapow! sauce of course! Unlike in the appetizer, their addition to the taco made them all the more flavourful. Though the taste of the cilantro and lime didn’t come through in the tacos either, I hardly noticed. The chicken, the star of the dish, really was the star. Though a bit dry, I enjoyed that slight charred taste that was light and gave the feeling of the chicken coming fresh off the BBQ. As I side, I ordered fries and in the years of coming here, I can say that the fries are improving. They are a bit on the salty side, but at least they are crunchy now. My sister had ordered the Brisket Burger the last time we were here and that was ridiculously huge, so this time we decided to downsize and go with the beef brisket sandwich. The Brisket Burger was essentially a burger topped with a brisket. In other words, a lot of meat. The Brisket sandwich is exactly the same, minus the beef patty, but the menu gives the option of having half a pound or one pound of brisket for people who have a larger or smaller appetites. It was very tender as advertised, but not really my cup of tea (or hunk of meat? I don’t think there’s an appropriate expression for this :/). She chose to have the house salad as a side and they forgot to bring or add balsamic vinegar into the salad…My mom had the fish and chips, something I was originally considering ordering, but decided against it and I’m glad because the first thing I tasted when I put a piece of fish in my mouth was a puddle of oil pooling in my mouth. It goes without saying, that it was the most disgusting and unpleasant thing ever. The tartar sauce was more creamy than tangy, which didn’t help cut down on the greasiness of the fish and fries and it only came with one lemon wedge. This is the time I wish I had had a bottle of malt vinegar to douse the fish in. Finally, my dad had the steak. I could have told you that ordering a steak from anywhere that wasn’t a steakhouse was going to be a big mistake and I am right. I’ve had steak from this place before and the first thing that comes to mind is dry. Despite what the menu says, the sirloins are not grilled to perfection; they are far from it. Even the sides taste better than the meat. My dad chose the kicked up corn and garlic mash as sides. The kicked up corn isn’t bad. I personally like it because it’s really different from any other place I’ve been that offers corn as a side. It has bell peppers (red and green) and some kind of light seasoning that gives it a nice salty-sweet taste. The garlic mash…not so garlicky and not really that good. There was a strange taste to it, but at least it was smooth with the random potato skin to add texture.

My recommendation when visiting Montana’s is to go for the sandwiches or burgers. If your appetite is anything like mine, you’ll find they are always so large that you end up packing up half of it away. I always like having a bit to bring home as a treat for lunch the next day or something to nibble at as a midnight snack. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap and casual place to have a filling lunch or dinner with friends, this is the place to go. I would rate it a 3.75/5 because it’s not a high class restaurant I’d prefer to have dinner with after a long day to relax and enjoy, but this is definitely a family friendly place. Maybe one day, when I have kids of my own, I will be able to say that this is the restaurant I’d want to go to with my kids after a long day.

IMG_20150403_184921

KAPOW! Shrimp

Chicken Taco

Chicken Taco

Beef Brisket Sandwich

Beef Brisket Sandwich

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

Sirloin Steak with crispy onions, mashed potatoes and kicked up corn

Sirloin Steak with crispy onions, mashed potatoes and kicked up corn

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