Monday, 23 November 2009


I'm not going to go there.

I'm not going to tread out some horrendous fake Canadian accent to talk about a pub called Jonny Canuck's. I won't do it. We don't use pronunciations like 'aboooot.' I've never heard a Canadian use the term 'hoser' without being ironic or imitating Bob & Doug. But the term 'eh' is used. I'm guilty of that. Lots of Canucks are.

Canuck is often a term to refer to a Canadian. New Zealanders are known as Kiwis, Aussie for Australian, Brit for British. And when I saw there was a place in the Capital Region of Canada called Jonny Canuck's, well the commercial exploitation of some patriotism seemed right for our humble nation. Although I thought it was referencing Johnny Canuck, the Canadian superhero who almost defeated Hitler during WWII (although apparently he was also a lumber jack in the early days who stood up to Uncle Sam), I was mistaken.

This bar and grill has no connection to the comic icon, other than the maple leaf. Their website puts a sophisticated and leading foodie trend on their food goals:

"Jonny Canuck's prides itself on being a leader in the Ottawa restaurant market. We have a keen understanding of our marketplace and a willingness to experiment with offerings and promotions which has allowed us stay one step ahead of market trends and become reognized as Ottawa's trend setter with the restaurant going public. We adopt a modern day approach to the widely-accepted bar & grill restaurant theme and are continuously searching for ways to introduce new and unique menu items and product offerings. Jonny Canuck's Bar & Grill is never satisfied with the generally accepted norm and enjoys leading the market to new heights. We offer great food, combined with reasonable prices, which are complimented by our exceptional service and contemporary design."

I'm going to be honest here, it's just a bar and grill. The decor is cleaner and modern, but the food is simple pub grub. Maybe they had higher hopes when they first opened, but a 'leader in the Ottawa food market'? I don't think so. Actually, the two locations of this chain wannabes are even in Ottawa proper: one is in Barrhaven, the other, Orleans.

I was there late and on my own, and I didn't get a chance to take photos of the interiors of the place, it being dark and me not willing to draw considerable attention to myself. Instead I took some from their website. The photo above shows the crowd that Jonny Canuck's sees itself having. Well, that was the demographic I saw eating/drinking. Maybe some older folks, but these happy-hipsters could very well have been the same people I saw.

The atmosphere inside was as I mentioned earlier, clean and modern. There were flat screens with the game on, and music, but it was pleasantly quiet enough that I could eavesdrop on peoples tables not close to me (not that I did).

My waiter was Mush (yes, Mush). He was great. Friendly, unassuming and quick to inform. He also refilled my Coke without asking. Normally I don't care for waiters over waitresses (I just find waiters tend to be less friendly - I guess I'm just sexist like that) but Mush would be my go to guy if I go back.

It was late at night, I hadn't had anything to eat since early in the day, so I took advantage of their wing special. It wasn't a great wing special, but it was cheaper than usual. I didn't have to wait long when Mush brought my platter.
I was in the Barrhaven region that night, but I had looked at Jonny's website in the past, so I had an idea of what they served. When the picture above showed up on their website, I knew I was having wings. But it was hard to tell if the photo was of their food, or something they got off the Internet.

The wings flavour in that photo looked like a Cajun or Suicide. I had both flavours and neither looked like those. But the wings didn't look bad. I was in after 9pm, and the wing special every night is $0.50 a wing (not an especially cheap deal, but better than full price). They are served in multiples of 5, so that meant I got to do some sampling.

The chicken itself is breaded in flour, then deep fried, then tossed thoroughly in sauce. The wingette's and drummys are about a medium size. Because the wings were generously sauced, the breading was fairly mushy. The Cajun dry spiced wings were very crisp. Actually, I didn't mind the slightly soggy skins. But maybe I just really wanted to like the wings.

Let's get down to the flavours.

CAJUN (see above photo)
Dry spiced on a crunchy wing, this was actually a very muted flavour. Oh the Cajun was there, it just wasn't overpowering like some places have. But it wasn't bold either. Good for 5 wings, but I would want some liquid on there for more.

Classic, simple hot wings. Tossed in Frank's. Nothing special, but not bad either. But not hot. Nooooo way.

Awesome. The best wings of my menagerie. Honey, mustard - the sauce was perfect.

I saw these and eyed them before tearing into them. I was curious because the looked like they would be hot, but I got no heat smell off them. Visually, I could see flecks of peppers, so I knew it was going to be a homemade sauce. This meant it might be hot, but would probably taste, errr, not so good. Then I tore into a flat:

I waited for the heat . . . nothing. I waited for an after-bite . . . nothing. What the heck? Then I noticed, I could barely taste a flavour. There was lots of sauce, but there was no heat, and no real flavour. Very unusual. I mean, I just didn't taste anything. Maybe it was an off night for the suicide.

FINAL SCORE: What can I say . . . the wings were ho hum. If you like breaded saucy wings, these might be fore you. If you like bold flavours and crispy wings, not so much. My service was great and heck, I got a lot of wings. But I hate to think these represent Canadian chicken wings. C'mon Jonny, next time wow me, eh? 5/10

Jonny Canuck's Bar & Grill
Ottawa (Barrhaven, although they say Nepean), On


Teena in Toronto said...

What a yummy selection of wings!

Lord of the Wings said...

Teena - Ya, as ho hum as they may have been, having a big platter of various wings come to my table was pretty exciting.

Anonymous said...

The KEY to the wings at JC is to get them TWICE BAKED!

So they deep fry them, throw them in the sauce then back into the OVEN for a final baking.

This makes the wings crispy and amazing.

I found the conventional way the wings where too saucy and the flavor would take over the wing sometimes....

Remember....TWICE BAKED!

Lord of the Wings said...

@Anonymous - Twice Baked sounds good, I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm back!

Anonymous said...

You can't beat The Mush. A greater bartender and server was never made! The man is a class act.

Lord of the Wings said...

@Anonymous - Good to know - he seemed like a great guy.

Anonymous said...

The wings I had tonight match your review to a T. Overly breaded, no chicken flavour to speak of. Yet filling but not in a satisfactory way. Celery sticks, check. Carrots, check. But with a quarter cup of mayonnaise. WTF? Not blue cheese dip, not even ranch. Straight up mayo. Disappointed.