Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Happy National Hot Sauce Day!

MARGUERITE GRILL - Ottawa ON

I rely on social media to keep informed about new restaurants in the city, as well as new wing sources. I guess you do too, otherwise, you're just reading about my food experiences just for fun? Cool if soo..
This past month, Sarp, aka Roughchop Ottawa, is one of those people that I follow and he likes to highlight some interesting food in the city. On January 10th, he posted this:


one of the photos didn't load for some reason

Marguerite Grill sounded interesting, and what you can't see in that photo that's missing is a shot of the menu. I gave it a quick scan - and they had chicken wings!!! Well that was it, I was going to check them out.



I had a rough idea where this place was, but I'm not in Vanier very often. All I knew was that it was in the Loblaws parking lot. What sucks is if you don't know they are there, you won't see them, especially on a cold dark winter day. They sit in a corner of the parking lot, but the part that faces the main lot has a fence with no advertising. The north part of the structure has a Goodyear auto shop. Then it is surrounded by parked cars. If I wasn't looking for it, I'd miss it, and if I did see it, I'd kinda think it was a shipping container.


What this place does having going for it is that it's not just a simple food truck or chip truck; this place is a mobile camper with a big kitchen. They've also got a big structure built around it to keep people warm in the winter. More on that in a bit. They also take debit and credit for payment, which is great.



I confirmed on the posted menu that they do wings. They also do shawarma, fried, burgers, subs, salads, pasta. It's a crazy amount of choices. The order window slid open quick and I saw that two guys were working, a younger guy taking orders/cash and the older gent who was cooking and turned out to be the owner. Both were very friendly and excited to start my order (as I was the only one there at that time, during the lunch hour). I said I wanted wings, and the window guy confirmed they had wings. "How do you want them done, well done?" I said sure, assuming they meant crispy, but I didn't clarify. "Now the sauce!?" he asked with enthusiasm. I asked what they had. "Ultimate BBQ, Hot, and ah, we don't have Honey Garlic" but the owner chimed in they did "oh! We have Honey Garlic!" I appreciated the enthusiasm but Honey Garlic is not my wing thing.

They got my wings in the fryer and the owner came over, his hands in that please/prayer gesture, saying "I hope you enjoy my wings, I hope they are really good, and that you come back and try my other food too!" They asked if I lived nearby but I said no (they got sad faces), that I heard about them on social media and wanted to check them out (happy faces!). I asked how long had they been open and the owner said two months. He was going to open in the summer, but wanted to open sooner, and then had to  build the porch because he couldn't bare his customers standing in the cold. He said he'd put heaters out there, but he couldn't afford to yet. I said it looks like you have a good size trailer and he said when they get going they can have a lot of people cooking.



Then the young guy brought me an onion ring on a toothpick to try. He was still trying to get his deep fry timing down on the rings (he said he had fries down now). I said it was great - crispy coating but the onion tore easily inside. He was really happy that it worked out. Not long later, the food was ready and they again they hoped I enjoyed my food. I said that I was sure all the food was good, but what was special. "The Persian Kebabs" the owner said, and the young guys nodded his head yes and almost started salivating. They said almost everything is homemade (except the onion rings and the meatballs, but they would have homemade meatballs soon), but that the Persian kebabs were something special. Interestingly, there is no kebabs on the menu.



I took my bag with the container, and wished them the best of luck, and headed to the car to try my wings. They both waved and I was really happy with how friendly and appreciative they were for my business.



There are 10 wings in the order. They are roughly split 50/50 of wingettes and drumettes. There are no sides that come with the wings, and the clean up available are napkins.


The wings are small. Length wise. The flats are relative in size to the length, but the drums are much more meatier.


The skin on the wings were nice and crispy. They wouldn't be what I called "well done" but they were cooked just right. I wouldn't want them any lighter.

The meat was relatively tender, with the bones and meat pulling away with little difficulty. The wings come from frozen I'm pretty sure based on the blackening on the bones.


The wings were covered in sauce, but there wasn't much extra sauce on them. Despite that, my fingers got stained big time, with napkins only able to remove the first dying layer.



The flavour on the wings were good. It was just straight cayenne based hot sauce; probably Frank's. It was good, but it was missing a bigger flavour punch. I started to wonder what the Ultimate BBQ tasted like.



FINAL SCORE:

The wings were a nice snack-y lunch. They weren't big, but they were crispy. I was really drawn in by the friendly service and I would definitely go back to try the kebabs. This may look like an Ottawa chip truck, but it's really a Middle Eastern take-out kitchen. Go check them out, follow the map below!
7.5/14



Marguerite Grill
373 Marguerite Ave, Ottawa ON
facebook.com/margueritegrill


Tuesday, 21 January 2020

#nonwingsunday = BBQ Beef Caesar Salad Sandwich



It was lunch and I needed to use up some leftovers. A roast of beef end chunk, some romaine, some surprisingly un-eaten bacon. I was inspired back in the days when I lived and worked at Chestnut Residence and station chef's Catherine & Margret who used to dish out made-to-order salads at lunch. One was a BBQ beef Caesar salad which I used to love.

So I sliced up my leftover roast beef, and fried it in Sweet Baby Ray Honey BBQ sauce. While that was reheating away, I chopped and cleaned the last of the romaine, chopped some bacon, whipped up a Caesar concoction, added some lemon juice, ground some black pepper, then tossed the salad. I toasted some English muffins (not bread on hand), then layered it salad, Parmesan petals, beef. It was freaking good and tasted just like my salads from days of yore.

LJ said my photos looked so good that I made the same for dinner the next night (sans the sandwich, just a salad). I can still taste it and wish I was having this again for a meal soon!

"Buffalo" Hot Wings & Pizza from Comono's

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Ghost Pepper Wings are back at Popeyes ...



Ok I don't find these hot at all, but they are very tasty. Can't wait to have them again.

See my review of these from 2017 HERE and a 2018 update HERE. I've had them in 2019 ... but I guess I didn't post about them?

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Return to THE COPPER MUG - Tillsonburg ON


There's just something about going back to your old haunts. I was back in my hometown of Tillsonburg, visiting my good friend Jason. His birthday was just a few days before and I wanted to take him out for dinner to celebrate and catch up a bit. When I asked where he wanted to go, he pointed out I probably haven't been to 'The Mug' in a while, and I was totally up for that. 


The Copper Mug, or as everyone calls it, "The Mug", was a staple of my early wing years. In high school this was our go-to hang-out place. The food was always good, but the wings were something special. So many good memories here, and quite frankly, not much has changed. I checked the blog to see my previous reviews, but the only review on here is from 2007! But I've only been back maybe a handful of times since then. I wasn't planning on doing a review, but then I decided mid menu I would.

Jason and I were chatting and catching up, but I couldn't help but look around and marvel at how the place was still the same. The free popcorn machine in the corner, the same pub trivia game on the screens we used to play all the time, even the Kramer and George Costanza paintings were still hanging on the wall. Heck, our waitress that night was the same from our time in the late 1990's! She didn't recognize me, but to be fair, a lot of people have been through this pub.



There was no question that I was getting the wings. The prices have definitely changed in recent years. Wings used to be sold by the pound, and they've added a Thai sauce. Otherwise seemed the same.



The Mug was also great because they had two wing nights, Tuesdays and Thursdays. What I didn't realize when I ordered was that this was a Thursday. My waitress never said anything and it wasn't until after I ordered that I heard another waitress at another table about wing night. I could have had more wings! Oh well.


Jason, rocking a massive beard (but is not as big as the photo looks due to the shadow) got the All Canadian Burger: a charbroiled quarter pound burger with grilled strip bacon and Canadian cheddar. He got it with a side of rice. It was a good looking burger and he said he enjoyed it.



We got a side of Garlic Bread with Cheese. It was three slices of French loaf, with butter and lots of cheese. It was tasty, soft, buttery, and cheesy.


Of course, I was most excited to see another old friend, Mug wings.



The wings come in multiples of 8: 8, 16, 24. I got an order of 8, and they were half flats and half drums. Normally the wings come with veggies and blue cheese, but on wing night there was no such side. For clean-up, they gave napkins and wetnaps.


The size of the wings were medium in length, and about a medium in meatiness. They've never been large, and are certainly not the "Jumbo, meaty, plump" wings the menu advertised.


The wings were, and usually are very crispy. They are deep fried with no coating, but the skin is always crispy and the meat was tender. The skin always holds up nicely to the sauce so you don't get soggy wings.



On this visit, my wings were not very wet. There was sauce, I got Hot, but the wings were not well covered and usually there is a plethora sauce at the bottom. But no deal this time. They also served my side of Suicide in a small styrofoam cup instead of the usual ramekin.


HOT

Hot is simple, tasty, hot flavoured pub wings. There's something about these wings that taste better than just Frank's hot on them, but that's probably what it is.


SUICIDE

The suicide at The Mug has always been a favourite. It's bright red, it's full of chili flakes, and it's a sauce I always found flavourful, but had a bite. I mean it's not killer heat, but it's a good starter suicide sauce for folks.


I was headed to the bathroom and walked past the kitchen. I saw one of the cooks stepping out for a second, so I took the opportunity to ask him what was in the suicide sauce. He thought about it, and said it was chili flakes in Frank's. That's it? That's it. It can't be. There's more flavour in there?! It can't be, can it?!



FINAL SCORE:

Well, the wings were still good, but they weren't as good as they used to be. Mainly I was disappointed in the lack of sauce. The wings aren't big, but they are crispy and the chicken is tasty. I like the hot, but love the suicide. And surprise 1/2 price wings was also great. The garlic cheese toast was good, and the burger seemed good. The best part was the chance to hang out with Jason. It's a great place to just hang out. Aww I love The Mug.  10/15


The Copper Mug
79 Broadway Street, Tillsonburg ON
facebook.com/The-Copper-Mug-284662141657577



Wednesday, 8 January 2020

MEATHEADS GRILL - Orleans ON


Last review of 2019!!! #lotwwintercatchup

I am always on the hunt for not only new wing joints, but new restaurants with food that I love. You know, pizza, burgers, bbq. I also love independent joints. So I'm going through my Instagram and in the Explore section, I see Caleel Hall (@caleelh on Instagram) posted a photo of a giant burger:



That burger looks massive! That led me on a little investigation. Turns out he was in Orleans (a suburb of Ottawa, not to be confused with NEW Orleans in the US), and he was having this amazing burger at a new place called Meatheads Grill. That led me to a little rabbit hole of research on this new place. Turns out they just had their grand opening on November 30th, and we were now into December! As I checked out their Instagram (@meatheadsorleans) and I saw that there was wings on the menu. And as fate had it, I was headed to Orleans the next day! 


Now the next part of my review is mixed and I'm going to jump the story. In the month of December, I went twice. The first time for wings, the second to try the burger. But the structure of how I write my reviews doesn't fit for chronology. Just wanted to give you that heads up.


Meatheads is inside a Quickie convenience store, which seems crazy. There are signs up for Meatheads, but if you don't know this area (and I didn't) it may be hard to see. I had done some research, but didn't know where to go exactly until I saw the red Quickie mart sign.


Inside Quickie, in the back left corner is Meatheads. It looks kinda like a BBQ joint grew into the convenience store. I almost thought it could have been like a Subway or something originally based on the size. Actually I thought this was their first time/food venture, but after talking to one of the guys running the place, the owner/chef Jessie James was doing like a french fry thing before. I later found out they were doing that out of this same location.

Both times I went, the Meatheads crew have been busy, on the go, scrambling to make everything work. Deliveries are coming in, calls are coming in, customers are coming in. Each time I came in I'm told up front that something isn't available for the day (they are still working out inventory kinks). Eggs seemed to be out both times. The staff are friendly, as was owner Jessy who I would have love to chat with, but he was constantly on the go.


Everyone was ordering the pulled pork sandwiches. That seems to be what to get here. The other guy that was doing the front of house (didn't catch his name, might have been Neil?), gave me some of the lowdown of what was going on. He told me he wasn't the one cooking, he was just the taste tester (as he was eating part of a sandwich that Jessy brought him). He said they'd been up and running a couple of weeks; he asked if I was here because of the Orleans Ontario Foodie group, who did a lot of word-of-mouth promotion for their big opening.  He said the pulled pork was popular, as was the burgers, and teased me about getting the wings. The next time I went back for the burger.


I ordered the Meathead Delux ($14), which comes with no sides, but is a big, hefty burger. It came in a biodegradable small clam-shell, and barely fit in, and it felt heavy like a brick. I got the burger to go and when I was sitting there in my car, I thought, "how am I going to eat this thing without making a mess everywhere!"

And I did make a mess. It's a very messy burger.


The Meathead Delux is:

"Lettuce, Tomato, Crispy Onion Ring, Fried Onions, Sauteed Mushroom, Bacon, Cheese, House BBQ, Mayo"
I got mine without mushrooms because, well mushrooms are gross. This thing was teetering left and right and was impossible to hold single-handedly, which made photos hard to do. It's saucy, full of ingredients, and was hot to boot.


Everything on that burger tasted fresh and delicious. First, you have a nice soft, toasted fresh bun. Then the burger is fresh ground beef from a local butcher and ground in house; nice beefy flavour which went well with the cheese. The bacon is meaty and crispy and salty. I love the crispy onion ring in there. Then you have the fried onions adding their own smokey/caramelized attitude to the burger party. Finally, I love mayo and BBQ sauce on a burger, and this thing was oozing sauce. It was just a really good burger offering everything I pretty much want on a burger. But make sure you have napkins.


On the first visit however, I was here for the wings. When I ordered, Neil(?) asked Jessy & the cook in the back if they were good for wings. Jessy said they had wings "but we have to rinse them off and throw them in the fryer. They just thawed out overnight so they will take a few extra minutes" - I appreciate them being upfront about everything so I can make the best choice. I chose to wait because wings are worth waiting.

When Neil(?) asked about what sauce I wanted I asked if their Hot was just like Frank's. He said it was like a "regular, bbq wings hot,"  Jessy jumped in and said "it comes in the big jugs, we don't make the hot sauce itself, just the bbq sauce and the burger sauces." So I clearly went with the House BBQ; "Ya you'll like that" Neil(?) said proudly.


I did have to wait a while for the wings, but that was ok (and they told me they would take some time). When they were ready the packaged them up and asked me if I wanted sour cream. I asked if they had blue cheese or ranch and Neil(?) balked at me, 'Ranch, bah, they don't serve salad, ranch is banned from here'. So I got sour cream and headed out to the car.



The wings too are served in a biodegradable clamshell, and I have to give them props for using this instead of styrofoam. The wings come by the pound, and there are approx 8 wings in that pound, pretty evenly split flats and drums.


They even came with a garnish of a lettuce leaf and some pickle slices. I found it odd, but it was nice, especially having the tart, bright pickles to contrast the fried, bbq sauced wing. Plus it looks pretty!


Size wise were were looking at a medium wing in length and size, but the wings were pretty meaty.


Unfortunately, the wings were not very crispy at all, and the meat was a bit tough, and my eating time was moments from getting them to walking to my car. They said they had just thawed, and maybe the wings didn't spend enough time in the fryer?  Or maybe it was the sauce ...


... because these wings were saucy! Really wet, with every inch covered in sauce, with lots left behind in the container. So the sauce may have weakened the structural integrity of the crispy skin, but I still suspect not enough deep frying.



The flavour of the sauce was tasty. Zippy even? Its sweet, it's got a little bit of smoke, but still a light sauce. It's right in the sweet spot of texture being not too thick and not too thin. Jessy had asked me from the back if it was ok that the sauce had "a kick to it", I said Sure, ya cuz I'm into that, and he clarified that "it's not killer or anything." Unfortunately I didn't find it had a kick or any bite, but it was tasty.

This would be excellent on pork or other bbq meats. I can see the sweetness pairing well with the pulled pork for example, better than I think it does with a chicken wing.


FINAL SCORE:

I liked Meatheads a lot. It's the kind of quirky little shack you would find on Diners, Drive-In's and Dives. People oriented crew with a passion for their product. The food isn't cheap, but it's priced fairly and is definitely not mass produced fare. The wings were tasty, but I wish they were a lot more crispy. Next time I go I'll pass on the wings, but when you have an awesome burger like the Meathead Delux, why would you get the wings? 8/14


Meatheads Grill
415 Watters Road, Orleans Ontario (inside the Quickie mart)
grillmeatheadsgrill.godaddysites.com