Tuesday, 13 July 2010



On the weekend in the morning and in the Hunt Club/Ottawa South region, LJ and I were short on time and looking for some brunch. In the near distance we saw Tucson's, which we have passed many times before and thought it served brunch. We went in, and we were wrong. I don't know if they used to, or their signs once said they did, or we were just crazy, but they did not have a weekend brunch. We were hungry and running out of time so we decided to stay.

It wasn't the first time I had a brain fart about this place. For the longest time, I pronounced Tucson like the Froot Loops bird, 'Too-can', then 'tuck-sons' before finally realizing that they were named after the city in Arizona, 'TOO-sahn.' Clearly I need to go back to school.

This place is like a desert Roadhouse, except on the border of urban and suburban Ottawa, with pine trees and in a little mini-mall. It sits at a major intersection with lots of signage. The actual entrance is beside a nicely shaded patio.

Tucson's is really known for it's live music. There are two bars on either side of the place, with tables and booths and a stage (see photo above). The walls are draped in photos of customers, musical acts and memorabilia. We were the first patrons of the day, so the place was empty, but I can imagine it packed and rocking out on a Friday night.

The feeling we got was this was a night time place more than a 'before noon' joint. As in it was better viewed in the dark rather than the bright light of day. The tables felt a bit sticky, as did the menus. But maybe the surroundings weren't as important as the food. I mean their motto is "The Best in Food and Music."  According to the menu, they believe in local and fresh:

"It was important for me to keep that same quality and feeling in the cuisine., and I
can only do that by ensuring freshness and pride in everything I create in the kitchen.
It is for that reason; our burgers are hand pressed, with fresh, never frozen, lean
ground beef and not once ounce of filler. All steaks are cut in house and are always
AAA quality; our appetizers do not arrive frozen in brand name boxes. The majority of
our dressings are made in house, as well as all of our sauces to ensure they have the
Tucson signature flavour. We receive deliveries 6 times per week on items such as fish,
fruits and vegetables because we order in such small quantities, if they do not meet
our standards they are sent back immediately. Because Tucson’s is an independent
restaurant, I feel it is important to support other local businesses whenever possible,
which is why I shop locally every chance I get. And lastly, I apologize in advance if we
are ever out of anything on the menu. But here, we believe that it is far better to sell
out of a very fresh product then to have endless frozen amounts on hand.

                                                                                                                      Mike Burbidge"
I like supporting local and I like fresh food. Our server Michelle sat us quickly and was friendly and answered my wing questions (Like if they have a wing night - they don't. They did but aapparently it didn't do anything for business). Our drink orders were taken, and in a timely manner our lunches were out.

LJ went with the Roasted Garlic Steak Sandwich. "Fresh AAA Alberta striploin grilled to your preference, served open-faced on toasted garlic panini with sautéed mushrooms and onions."

The sandwich was ok. I mean it looked good with its fried onions and nicely cut steak. But LJ said that "it doesn't have much flavour. I've had better in the city." I took a bite and agreed that it was nothing special. The fries seemed to be hand cut, but I think they were only deep fried once as they were really white and a few weren't as well cooked as they could have been. 

While sandwiches and fries can be a fine lunch, I'm more of a wings for lunch kinda person. You know, wings for lunch, wings for supper, wings for snacking.

 The menu gave me some pointers that the wings should be good. "We only use the finest roaster wings here . . . All of our sauces are made in house for a signature flavour." Finest roasters and sauces made in house sounds like a solid start for wings.

The wings came out and I was immediately excited by two factors:

1) The clean up. There was a plastic bowl for me to put my bones in, as well as napkins and wetnaps. Awesome.

2) Blue cheese dip and carrot sticks. I feel like it's been a long time since I've actually got these with wings (many places have it on the menu, but the wings come out alone). There was no chunks of blue cheese, but it was just nice to get this dip and not sour cream.

After glowing from the bowl and the sides, I studied the wings, and folks, my smile became a skeptical scowl. The wings come in a "Baker's Pound", which I have no idea what that is. I searched the Internet and found no reference to this. Apparently it means "8 smallish wings." The chicken was deep fried (no dusting or breading) but the chicken looked extremely light, almost white. The meat was slightly dry, and my guess is from frozen, not fresh.

The wings were fairly saucy, but some had some pretty exposed areas. They have six sauces to choose from, and I went with an order of Hot, with Desert Fire Suicide on the side for sampling.


I took my first hot and sampled. Nothing. I don't just mean heat, there was no flavour. I kept eating, and the faint taste of a sauce similar to Moose Winooski's was present. If you really looked for it.

Slightly sweet and possibly a tomato based sauce, this is a sauce with a lot of potential. But hot it wasn't. It needed to be much bolder. 


Not a suicide sauce by any means, this was aptly named though for the type of heat and flavour, which  reminded me of a desert. A dry, earthy taste, with an overwhelming layer of cayenne pepper that didn't add heat as much as a peppery weight. Was it a tasty sauce? Not really, but as I ate more the heat did build in the back of the throat. Dry. Like a desert.

FINAL SCORE:   For a place that says it's all about fresh and really good food, it was very passable. The wings were small, weak in flavour and possibly from frozen. While I want to give kudos on making their own sauces, I just felt disappointed. It's not surprising that wing nights didn't attract business. The steak sandwich was ok, but the message to us was clear: Come for the music, go elsewhere for the food. 3.5/10

2440 Bank St, Ottawa ON


Teena in Toronto said...

What a disappointment :(

Lord of the Wings said...

Teena - Yes, but I'm bound to find some duds with my high rate of wing consumption. You win some, you lose some.