Sunday, 31 August 2008

THE ARROW & THE LOON PUB ~ Ottawa

oThe long weekend was on!!! I spent most of the day hanging out around Stephen Harper's and Michaƫlle Jean's place, exploring what I was and wasn't supposed to see. None of us got to hang out, but it was a busy weekend for them both I'm sure. After hiking all around the Sussex Ave area all afternoon, I wanted to grab a good wing dinner. I hoped on a few buses, and found myself down in the Glebe at a little pub known as The Arrow & The Loon.



Down on 5th Avenue ( yes, 5th Avenue, OTTAWA), the A&L is situated in a weird building/mall that has a sealed in courtyard on the inside. All around are trendy eateries and shopping, but a good pub is always appreciated. I sat on the outside patio (there was one on the inside, but a) didn't see it until I left, and b) I think it was 'closed'. It was warm out, but a nice breeze made sitting outside worth it.



My waitress was very friendly and we joked about not being at a cottage for the last weekend for the summer. The lunch crowd had been pretty busy she said, sweeping up the patio, and she hoped for a quiet evening. I ordered my wings with suicide on the side, and it wasn't long before my food was before me.




2008 THE SCORE 3.0: The Arrow and The Loon ~ Ottawa

STYLE:

breaded, deep fried

PRICE:

$9.95 for 1lb (approx 10 wings)

SAUCES:

  • Mild
  • Medium
  • Hot
  • Suicide
  • Honey garlic
  • Cajun dusted

1/1

HEAT:

Hot: not really

Suicide: 3rd Degree, but it had a strong kick

SIZE:

Medium to large, relatively meaty but dry

1.5/3

WETNAP FACTOR:

Dry/moist with the suicide on the side

1.5/3

CRISPINESS:

Crispy

2/3

FLAVOUR:

OK – hot was not bad, suicide was 3rd Degree, but had a good kick

/3

SIDES:

none

0/3

CLEAN UP:

Wetnaps and napkins

2/3

WING NIGHT:

$0.35 Tuesday nights after 5pm

1/1

OTHER:

patio

TOTAL:

OK wings – dry inside, good suicide

9/20



The wings came out and I tore into them. They had a crispy crunch, with the sauce soaked into the breaded skins. They were somewhat meaty, but the chicken was dry inside. The size were pretty much a medium from end to end, and in the middle the breading made up for the rest.

The hot sauce was pretty standard Frank's or some pepper style sauce. There wasn't any real sauce on the plate to get a clear sampling, as it had soaked into the skin. It wasn't hot, but it wasn't bad tasting.




I got suicide sauce on the side, and my good old friend 3rd Degree showed up. But it seemed to be kicked up a notch because my mouth was feeling the burn. This prompted me to pour the sauce all over the rest of the wings, because, well to be honest, their 'hot' was pretty meak.



THE SCORE: These were ok wings. Nothing too original, nothing really kicking up the taste buds. The chicken was a little dry and the sauces were basically bottled. The service was good and the location was primo, but the wings left nothing impressionable to me. 9/20


The Arrow & The Loon
99 5th Avenue, Ottawa
(website is no longer active)

WING WEEKEND FOR LABOUR DAY

LABOUR DAY WEEKEND!!!


The weekend where we all come together and celebrate the sacrifice and efforts of the labour movement in Canada. But honestly, for most Canadians this is the last weekend of summer to be celebrated. What are your plans???

My plans? WINGS!!!! That's right, a whole weekend of wings.

The Arrow & The Loon - Review
Pizza Pizza Wings, If I Have To - Report
WK Chipotle Suicide Sauce v1.0 - Recipe
WK Fake General Tao Sauce v1.0 - Recipe


Enjoy your weekend and remember those who struggled for us.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

PJ QUIGLEY's ~ Ottawa

The search continued for great wings in Ottawa.

I have a small list of places to try based on recommendations I've read or on descriptions of menus on websites . . . and as the list grows shorter, I was afraid that there was just nothing left out here in the capital. I did come across an article on the net from the Ottawa Citizen that talked about a pub that brought in 'celebrity' chef David Adjey (from Restaurant Makeover fame) for a 'menu makeover'. What was relevant to me was that the restaurant was very keen on producing fresh, homemade food that David only tweaked as he too was impressed. Now nowhere was wings mentioned even once, but I took the chance that this Pub might just take their philosophy of fresh and tasty to their wings.



First off, PJ's is nothing to look at outside. Stuck in a strip mall, with a less than exciting sign, this place is visually easy to miss. When I had gone to their website, I got a warm, pubish feel for the place (which it is inside), but the outside almost looks like a pet shop with a fenced in patio. The sign has paw prints and a dog, which I assume is a holdover from before they renovated the restaurant.

I was in for an early lunch, and the place had just opened up. No one else was there, and I took my choice of seat out on the patio because the weather was wonderful. There's nothing to look at on the patio, because it just faces a parking lot and more mall, but it was nice just to be outside.



My waitress Ashley was very friendly and was perfect in attentiveness. Being the only patron, some waitress's can have the tendency to dote on you too much, or not at all. But she was very helpful, especially with some of the questions I had (see below in sauce section)

The menu didn't seem to be anything special when I looked at it. In fact, I was kind of like, "what was the big deal with the 'menu makeover'" as there wasn't anything I hadn't seen before. I thought the menu was kind of small actually. Then I re-read the article and realized that Adjey had cut down the menu and focused on solid food.

I wanted to be a little healthy, so I ordered a small Caesar salad. Ok, so a Caesar salad is not really healthy. But I see green, and that means healthy right? Anyways, it came out and it was a pretty big salad for a small. It was piled high, and tasted super fresh. Yes super fresh. The croutons could not not have been homemade, there was real bacon on top, and the lettuce was crisp. My only complaint is that the dressing was not strong enough. I grew up on my fathers homemade Caesar dressing that has a killer garlic taste to it, and this one the sauce was pretty thin.



Fortunately I wasn't here for Lord of the Salad.


2008 THE SCORE 3.0: PJ Quigley’s Bar & Grill ~ Ottawa

STYLE:

Dusted, deep fried

PRICE:

$8.99 for 1lb (approx 10 wings)

$17.99 for 2lb

SAUCES:

  • Mild
  • Medium
  • Hot
  • Suicide
  • Honey Garlic
  • Cajun

1/1

HEAT:

Hot didn’t really have any heat, but the suicide had a nice nip

SIZE:

Large – big, meaty wings

2/3

WETNAP FACTOR:

Wet – with the side of suicide made it nearly perfect

2/3

CRISPINESS:

Crunchy – even with the sauce there was a nice crispy sound to the bite

3/3

FLAVOUR:

Good – suicide had a really nice flavour

3/3

SIDES:

Veggies and dip

2/3

CLEAN UP:

Napkins, wetnaps, wing bowl

3/3

WING NIGHT:

Monday’s ½ price after 5pm

1/1

OTHER:

Patio, free refills on Coke

TOTAL:

Great wings

17/20



My eyes grew really big when the wings came. First, I loved the presentation (it really does make a difference). The cast iron pan it was served in, on a plate sprinkled with paprika, the wings piled up . . . it just looked exciting. I love cast iron! And the larger plate allowed me to balance the veggies, dip and the side of suicide sauce without putting it on the table or get it all goeyed up with my wings in the pan.




The size of the wings were great. Large, meaty and dusted in flour. It looked crispy and crunchy just looking at it, without being soggy from the sauce. They were hot out of the deep fryer and the meat was nice and tender inside.

As usual I ordered hot with a side of suicide. It seems like a place will do a decent hot and crappy suicide, or a great suicide and a crappy hot. But PJ's did both right. Well, they could have both been hotter, but they tasted good. They came out sauced well, and adding the suicide just added to the mess. I couldn't decide which sauce to eat my wings with.



The suicide sauce was dark, bold with a nice kick. There was a lot going on and I didn't know what exactly. I asked Ashley is she knew what was in the suicide and she said she would check with the kitchen. She came back and told me there was over 10 things on the ingredient list, but some of them were Frank's, some other hot sauce, chili flakes, and well, several other things. I don't expect the whole recipe . . . a place has gotta keep some secrets, but there were some tasty things in there that I would like to know what they were! But the homemade quality really showed itself in this sauce.





They are also all about the customer. Not only do they have their weekly specials, they also have a Rewards membership that gives points to things like free food and other stuff.


FINAL SCORE: Maybe its adaptation theory, but I liked these wings. What's adaptation theory? That's where you adapt to your surroundings and accept something lesser because there is nothing better available. Ok maybe not, but really, they did do a great job on these wings. I wish they weren't located so far out there in the South/West end. 17/20




PJ Quigley's Bar & Grill
250 Greenback Road, Ottawa
pjquigleys.com

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

FAT ALBERTS & RALPH's ~ Ottawa

Sometimes when I'm under pressure, I make quick decisions. If I want A, but get even the little bit distracted or under pressure, I pick B. I don't know why but I often do. This happened this particular day. I had the vehicle and was going to one location to try the wings, but it looked busy, and I got into a section where traffic was heavy, construction was going on, and navigating the area was not working in my favour.


Having only a split second to decide to go left or right, I ended up going left and stopping at Fat Albert's for lunch. I wanted to go right, but my decision was made. Not that I didn't want to go here, I've seen FA's around and wanted to try it as far back as 2 years ago when Dude lived in Ottawa, right near this location.


This place is hard to define. Actually, it is two places in one. Fat Albert's sub shop and Ralph's Sports Bar. So how do they combine the two? When you enter the door, on the left is the take-out section like any sub shop. One the right is a sit down area that looks like any fast food joint, only there is a waitress to take your orders. There are 2 TVs that I guess is what makes it the sports bar part. But the focus is the pizza and subs.

The waitress I had, Shyllean, was new and being trained. I know this because there were a few rude customers complaining to the manager about missing food or about the food in general, and the service etc. My experience with Shyllean was great - she was friendly, efficient, and answered any questions I had. Where the problem lie was with the cooking staff, who took forever preparing the meals (my half sub took more than 30 minutes to make), and the new girl was getting the blame. People were being rude to simply be rude.



I ordered the six inch "Fab Four" sub, with Mild Capicollo ham, smoked meat, all beef salami, white turkey meat, mayo & garnishes (cheese, lettuce, onion s, tomatoes & our own special blend of oil & secret spices).

The good parts about the sub were the following: fresh bread, great sub sauce, a great tart dill kosher pickle - an overall fresh tasting sub. The bad parts include giant hunks of lettuce (not shredded lettuce, not leaves, but the hard stalk parts). Also, the meat was pretty sparse. It is one of their cold subs, most are warm though - so they might be even better. Around me everyone was ordering the pizzas, and they looked pretty good actually - but everyone had to wait a long while for theirs. I had to wait a while longer as well for the second half of my dish, but eventually my wings came out.






2008 THE SCORE 3.0: Fat Albert’s & Ralph’s ~ Ottawa

STYLE:

Frozen, baked, plain & seasoned (but they claim Buffalo style)

PRICE:

$8.95 for 1lb (approx 10 wings)

$16.95 for 2lb

$39.95 for 5lb

(website still has old prices)

SAUCES:

  • Hot
  • Suicide (home made sort of)
  • Barbecue
  • Honey Garlic
  • Honey Mustard
  • Plum Sauce

1/1

HEAT:

No heat – sort of a tingle from suicide

SIZE:

Small – pigeon wings, but mini-meaty pigeon wings

-1/3

WETNAP FACTOR:

Dry – with a little moisture. Suicide was on the side.

.5/3

CRISPINESS:

Crisp – some wings were flat crispy from the baking sheet

1/3

FLAVOUR:

Ok – but they are just wings from the store

1/3

SIDES:

nada

0/3

CLEAN UP:

Napkins, bone plate, wetnaps x2

3/3

WING NIGHT:

nope

0/1

OTHER:

Patio, free refills on Pepsi

TOTAL:

Sure they got 6.5, but most of that is for the clean up. Grocery store wings at restaurant prices. Decent sub though.

6.5/20









The first thing I said in my head when my wings came was "holy crap, I paid like $9 for these?" They were super small. Pigeon wings. WTF?! I was not impressed with that. Now I understand this is more of a sub place (lets be honest, other than the 2 TV's that make this place a 'sports bar' was the selling of beer, but its really just a pizza and sub shop). Friggen small.

Next problem was the wings themselves. I picked one up and smelled it - it looked like and smelled like a No Name chicken wings. I kid you not, there was no difference. Now I like No Name wings as far as buying frozen wings at the grocery store go - but not at a restaurant and paying close to $10 for 10 wing when I can buy the same box for $12 and get like 30-40 wings.


The chicken, while small, was meaty. The weird thing about these wings is there is no real skin. As in its fused to the meat. You can't bite into the skin and tear it off like all wings. Its a strange phenomenon.

They have two types of styles for their wings: plain and Hot Buffalo style. Both are baked (which immediately eliminates them as Buffalo style). The manager, who chatted with me about wings after my dinner told me that the 'hot' was too much for 'ladies and other people' so they introduced the plain, then you just add your dipping sauce.


For my sauce, I ordered the suicide. I really wish I had taken a picture. It was a really weak attempt. I could tell what made up the suicide, but I asked the manager anyways and he confirmed my taste buds: hot sauce, Tabasco and pepper flakes. It was mostly Tabasco (which is never really a good sauce for wings).

He was quite proud of the wings in general, and asked if the suicide was hot enough for me. While I didn't tell him how disappointing the frozen wings were, I did tell him I could eat MUCH hotter suicide. He agreed they needed a better suicide sauce, and that he really wanted to buy one of those specialty bottles and wanted to serve it and see guys cry eating it. While he didn't really know good wings, I appreciated his enthusiasm. I know he can't change the wings themselves (the chain provides them pre-seasoned) but at least he could improve the suicide.


FINAL SCORE: Super disappointing wing place. Tiny, frozen grocery store wings that are baked but claim to be Buffalo style. Atmosphere is fast food, not sports bar. But the sub was pretty good and I would be willing to get the pizzas there for sure. And I got a coupon for a buy 1 get 1 free entree coupon from the manager so maybe I will. But I won't be getting the wings for sure - I need to emphasize that 3 points in the score for these wings come from the cleaning up. 6.5/20


Fat Albert's & Ralph's Sports Bar
1990 Russell Road, Ottawa (and other locations)
fatalberts.ca



Sunday, 24 August 2008

Snyder's of Hanover ~ CHIP REVIEW

More than a month ago we picked up a couple of snacks. One was a bag of honey mustard pretzel pieces from PC, the other, a bag of Snyder's of Hanover Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces. The PC ones were not too shabby. But I didn't want to open the Snyder's bag until I could do a review. Well, time went by, we forgot we had the bag, then realized it was time to break it open!


I had never heard of Snyder's before, at least not this brand. Their brief history says:

"In 1909, Harry Warehime founded Snyder's of Hanover on the belief that everyone would love his fresh bakery pretzels. Nearly a hundred years later, the Snyders family of bakery pretzels has grown to include over 25 unique varieties. Take our distinctive selection of Flavoured Pretzel Pieces. Generous chunks of our Sourdough Hard Pretzels bursting with intense flavor combinations . . . like the spicy flavor of hot sauce seasoned with cayenne peppers and paprika. Because if you like the red-hot taste of real, five-alarm buffalo wings, you'll love our bite-size Hot Buffalo Wing Pieces!"

Ok, the history doesn't have a lot about which Hanover they are talking about, but I'm assuming the one in Europe.

The quote about 'intense flavor' (clearly this is an American product, flavour without a 'u', crazy Yankees!). I don't think 'five-alarm' is also appropriate - no generic product is 'five-alarm'.

I didn't really have high hopes for these. I mean, how often do 'Buffalo' flavoured things are really that good?


It's not a big bag, but it has a lot of ingredients. I was happy to see the dried cayenne pepper sauce in there - its not exactly Buffalo Wing sauce, but it sounded tasty. And the smell from the bag seemed right.



2008 CHIP SCORE 1.0: Snyder’s of Hanover ~ Hot Buffalo Wing
Pretzel Pieces

STYLE:

Sourdough hard pretzel pieces with hot sauce flavour

PRICE:

$2.99

HEAT:

mild

SIZE:

240 g bag – pieces are variety of sizes

CRISPINESS:

Very crunchy – but not rock hard

FLAVOUR:

Tastes like a very buttery hot sauce

VERDICT:

-Their claim is “Bursting with flavour!”, it may not be bursting, but its got a great flavour

-great snack, love it

-I wish I could try this before they are baked




These pretzel pieces were broken into all sorts of pieces - some with the sourdough pretzel shell, others just the 'meaty' inside. They are a hard snack, very crunchy, but exactly what you expect from a pretzel piece that was baked. The look on them was golden yellow and red. So far, these snacks were hitting all the right senses.



So were these going to be mouth pleasers or passers? A definite pass. Pass as in they made the grade, not pass as in pass on them. LJ's took a bite "oh - my - god - these are soo good!" She was definitely hooked. The sense of buttery hot wings was really captured but there was only a hint of heat.


FINAL VERDICT: Snyder's definitely make me think of a buttery chicken wing from a bar in pretzel form. They also come in Buttermilk Ranch, Cheddar Cheese, Honey Mustard & Onion, Jalapeno, Steakhouse Onion and Garlic Bread. Great smell, sight, crunch and taste - a near perfect chicken wing snack (if only they were hotter!). We have since bought 2 more bags - that's how good they are.


Snyder's of Hanover: Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces
snydersofhanover.com