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 ~
Frozen, baked, plain & seasoned (but they claim
$8.95 for 1lb (approx 10 wings)
$16.95 for 2lb
$39.95 for 5lb
(website still has old prices)
No heat – sort of a tingle from suicide
Small – pigeon wings, but mini-meaty pigeon wings
Dry – with a little moisture. Suicide was on the side.
Crisp – some wings were flat crispy from the baking sheet
Ok – but they are just wings from the store
Napkins, bone plate, wetnaps x2
Patio, free refills on Pepsi
Sure they got 6.5, but most of that is for the clean up. Grocery store wings at restaurant prices. Decent sub though.
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)