Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Wing Street Wings & Garlic Bread Pizza from PizzaHut

MAY 2013

Back from my conference, with no groceries, I decided to order food out. I had seen a flyer for Pizza Hut, and that's what I got. Some pizza, some wings - sounded good to me.

In the past couple of years I have not been stoked for Pizza Hut pizza. Everything just seemed to be getting cheaper in quality, but not in price. I also like garlic bread, but pizza, garlic bread and wings can get very pricey. So when I saw the add for Garlic Bread Pizza. I was like, that's what I want - pizza on a garlic bread slice with wings.

I opened the box and visually, this was exactly what I wanted. 12 pieces of garlic bread loaded with cheese and pepperoni. It looked greasy, the pepperoni looked crispy, and the cheese gooey.

And it was good as it looked. With one small drawback - the pizza sauce was too strong and I didn't like it. But everything else was awesome. Perfect garlic bread, great mozza cheese, tasty pepperoni. This was a great idea Pizza Hut.

What goes well with garlic bread pizza? Chicken wings of course.

I've reviewed Wing Street wings from Pizza Hut before, but I wanted to see if anything was different. Nope. The chicken was crispy, still tossed in a spicy/tasty but artificial sauce. The wings were meaty, crunchy, but not long.

Overall, a good (but very unbalanced meal). It was great that I could get 3 dishes in 2. Wings were good for takeout wings as usual. The garlic bread pizza was a great concept. I would get it without sauce, but cheese and pepperoni were just right.

Just saying.

PS: I think this promotion is gone from Pizza Hut. Too bad.


MAY 2013

I love my job. One of the big perks of my office is that I have a lot of professional development opportunities. One of these opportunities brought me to one of my associations, OACUHO, who was holding a conference at Queen's University in Kingston.

Most of my office co-workers were also in attendance, and one of them, Kat, went to Queens, so when we arrived and were ready for dinner, she suggested the Copper Penny.

This places name will one day become anachronistic, as we here in Canada are in the process of eliminating the penny from our currency.

Inside, the place does not have a consistent theme. The front kind of looks like a breakfast/tea house, the main bar has blue lights, and the back is in earthy clay tones. It did not seem like a pub, but the menu was very pub-like.

Jo, Kat and Sarah decided they were going to share some plates. I was on my own to have wings (but they did let me do some tasting.

There was an order of their fries ($4.65). The CP is famous for its fries, which are kind of a crinkle cut, but the secret is the seasoning (which is said to be onion soup mix) that make them very good.

Want to up those fries? How about make them Fajita Poutine fries. Tender skillet cooked onions, peppers and chicken, topped with gravy, sour cream and salsa. It might look like a mess, but this Tex-Mex meets Quebecois made for a great and hearty North American summit.

There was also a Brushcetta amking its way to the table. I don't like Brushchetta (its the warm tomatoes - I'll usually scoop that off and eat sepperately) but this was not bad. The cheese was a little skimpy in my opinion, but I think everyone enjoyed.

Wings here come in 'singles' or 'large' which doesn't make any sense to me. Single and Double does, or Small and Large, but not Single and Large. There are about 6 wings in an order and was served with a side of weeds lettuce.

They are heavily dusted, then deep fried, then tossed in thick, generous amounts of sauce.

The menu says they are "Super Jumbo" chicken wings. Folks, these were not Super Jumbo. They were not jumbo either. They were large - not so much in length, but they were very meaty.

The skin started out crispy, but the skin absorbed a lot of the thick sauce.

My dining companions also ordered a plate of wings, but went with mild or maybe medium sauced wing (I can't remember). I didn't try, but they liked them. It should also be noted that they refer to these sauces as BBQ with "all the heats" - this is very confusing because the above could be BBQ sauce, but my suicide was clearly not BBQ sauce.

Suicide (or was it hot?) was a nice, buttery, rich, thick sauce that had some heat, but was augmented by pickled jalapenos, which gave the wings a bit of a briney tang.

While the wings are very saucy, it was surprising how well they dusting and skin held up to the thick sauce. There was still a crunch when you bit into them. These were some good wings.

FINAL SCORE: The inside of the Copper Penny is a little strange, but the food was good. The wings were solid specimens, homemade in both sauce and preparation. Meaty, crispy and full of flavour. Too bad they don't have a wing night. 6.5/10

The Copper Penny 
240 Princess Street, Kingston ON

Return to EIN~STEIN's ~ Toronto ON

MAY 2013

It had been a while since Ryan and I had hung out, so we decided to grab a bite to eat. We ended up at Ein-Stein's. I've reviewed them before, but it was time for an update.
from Google Street View
 Nothing has changed in the many years I've been coming since I was in University. It was a beautiful day outside, so Ryan and I decided to sit on the patio. Service is never quick, and there were long periods between getting our drinks, taking our orders, getting food, paying etc., but this is just how it is here.

Ryan is to Nachos as I am to wings. I've often said he should do his own Nacho blog, but he is a very busy man, running, doing research and finishing his thesis, working and just living life. So of course he got nachos.

Ein-Stein's nachos ($7.99) were a big platter, but it was hard not to noticed the burnt chips. You can see a lot of cheese and buried below is black olives, green onion (I believe it also came with jalapenos but I think Ryan had them omit them). With salsa and sour cream on the side.

I went with wings of course, but I added a side of onion rings too. I also got a pop, and I'm pretty sure its generic cola here, not Coke or Pepsi.

The onion rings were $4.99 and it was a generous order. Thin cut, very crisp - they were very good rings.

On the side of the wings were celery and blue cheese dip. Very thick and creamy and homemade. The celery was a little limp and sad, but I'm not here for veggies.

Ein-Stein's is famous for their wings. Regularly on food board or review sights, if Ein-Stein's isn't tops or listed, people get mad. They've won awards, and have a whole page on their website dedicated to their wing success. But are they still up to snuff?

Wings start of in orders of 5, 10, 20 or 40. They come with celery and blue cheese.

The wings are advertised as jumbo, and they are jumbo. Deep fried and sauced, they are monster wings without any breading or dusting. Now I won't lie, I have found in the past that these wings can be tough and hard to eat, and this day was no different. Jumbo wings can be hard to cook because the outside crisps up, but the inside may need more time. They got cold quickly too sitting out on the patio, but there's nothing the pub can do about that.

Normally I go for Hot or BBQ, but I have always heard about a secret sauce not on their menu. Something called 'Hammer' Sauce. I asked our server about it, and she said that it did indeed exist, and that it was a mix of BBQ and Honey Garlic. I wanted something a little different, and even though I have an anti-Honey Garlic policy, I went for the Hammer.

Well what can I say - it hit the head on the nail (get it, cuz it's hammer sauce - I'm so punny - wait, was that a pun?). Good sauce. The BBQ and the HG really worked together, giving a little smokey flavour, a little sweet, with a hint of garlic.

FINAL SCORE: It's been 6 years since I was here last, but it was well worth the wait. Jumbo wings, crispy skin, and sauces that actually are about something. Only problem is the wings were tough and lost points for that. Onion rings were also good. Nachos, well they burnt the nacho edges. Slow service, but this is ever bit as good as I remember it. And it was great place for Ryan and I to catch up. Good times. 7.5/10
Ein-Stein's Bier Halle
229 College Street, Toronto ON

Tuesday, 30 July 2013


MARCH 2013

LJ and I took a brief jaunt to Watertown New York for a little day trip, some shopping etc. For dinner we wanted to try somewhere different, and we ended up at Ponderosa.

I had not been to a Ponderosa since I was a kid. All I remember was waiting in lines to get in, a massive salad bar, and the smell of grilled steaks. Would it be the same.

We walked in and the first thing we came across was the giant menu. We did not know what to make of it. All we could tell was that there were a lot of meat choices, it was cheap, and the buffet could be added for change. There was also a big poster for their wings, which seems like a good idea.

We were coming in after the main dinner hour, so there were no line-ups and we could ask the host how this place worked. He mentioned that you look at the big visual menu, pick what you wanted, add the buffet if you wanted, sit and enjoy.

This place was much larger in size than I had remember other members of the chain to be. There were all sorts of stations from salad fare, soups, meats, veggies etc. LJ and I had both ordered an entre and added the buffet because, well it was ridiculously cheap.

Our waitress (name not recorded) was friendly, attentive, but was busy with a lot of tables. But when I wanted a refill on a drink, I had it.

LJ ordered the 6oz Sirloin and Potato ($5) and `loaded' the potato ($0.99) and added the buffet which made it $11 in total. The steak was actually amazing. It looked good, it smelled good, and it tasted good. I sampled a piece or two and agreed with was one of the best steaks I had ever had. I was shocked. SHOCKED.

I ordered the Sirloin Tips ($7.99) with loaded potato ($0.99) and the buffet brought my plate to $11.99.

The tips were mostly tender, and the fried onions were good, but I wasn't crazy about the dish. It was a bit blah. After tasting LJ's steak, I was totally envious.

And there was still a buffet. Actually we had buffet while we waited for our main dishes. As with any buffet, there was the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Above we had some bland macaroni salad, stuffing, and cold/stale hush puppy balls with cheese sauce. There were some faux chinese dishes that were not so bad. There was also some wings and fried chicken.

There were two types of chicken wings: their breaded wings, and the wings that were in with the other fried chicken pieces.

It's a buffet, so you have as much as you want. I was excited, then I was not.

The top wing in the above picture is the fried chicken, which had an almost light batter on it that was not so much crispy as tired chewy. The bottom wing was what I call SUPER breaded. The wing was large, and most of it was coating. It was like a thick shell, keeping predators away from the meaty inside.

I strongly disliked the Super Breaded wing. The breading was just too much, and no flavour. It definetely made a craching sound when you bit in, but these definetly came from a bag in the freezer and I just did not care for them. LJ liked the breading, but I just couldn't.

The wings do not come with any sauces, so I improvised. I asked for some hot sauce for the table. Franks. I like Frank's, but it didn't help the wings.

In the salad dressing station there was honey mustard dressing. It didn't help the wings either.

I also tried it with Blue Cheese dressing. This was chunky and creamy, but also did not help the wings.

FINAL SCORE: WING FAIL. Do you know how hard it is for a Wing King to not take advantage of a buffet with chicken wings on it? Crappy, over-protective breading that was blah in taste and terrible in texture. The fried chicken wing was ok, but really, stick to the steaks. That's where the magic is. 4/10

Ponderosa Steakhouses
1290 Arsenal St, Watertown NY (and other locations)


MARCH 2013

I was back in Ottawa and I was on my own for lunch. I decided I wanted to try a campus bar at the University of Ottawa. I had never been, all I knew was that it was at the sports centre.

I found the sports centre, and tried to find free parking. Then I did on a side street, only it wasn't free parking after all and I got a ticket when I got back. But that's not the point. I started walking and as I came the building, I saw a giant board advertising their pound and a pint deal. I was on the right path.

I walked all around the building till I got to the front. I went in and wandered around trying to find where to go. I felt a little excitement as if I was a spy, infiltrating this organization, documenting the place and getting the hell out. It had crossed my mind that this campus pub may not be open to the public, so I was going to have to play it cool. I found out the pub was on level 2 and I took the stairs till I found the place.

The place was industrial student pub. Concrete and exposed rafters, U of O and Ottawa Senator sportswear, graffitii on all the walls. Oh and a giant moose head on the wall. Flat screens with sports too.

I was worried I wasn`t going to fit in, older than the average student, but almost everyone inside must have been professors or crew and over the age of 50. My server Alana was . . . not always around and not as friendly with me as she was with others. Oh well. She brought me Pepsi to drink, but charged me $1 for refills.

My seat had an awesome view of the ice rink, where I watched what looked like a pick-up game play out.

I ordered a side of onion rings, which were crispy enough, but I was pretty sure they were from frozen. They did come with a lemon wedge, which is something I have not seen before.

The wings came in orders of 1 pound (approx 9 wings) or 2. They were served with carrot sticks and lettuce, but no dip. But lettuce. Weird.

I ordered suicide with a side of their smokey mustard (I had never heard nor had this anywhere else, and thought it would go well with the onion rings). But I never got it, and I never saw Alana until it was time for my bill again to ask for it. Bummer.

The wings were a double medium: medium length and medium meatiness. The wings had been dusted, fried and tossed in their sauce which was full of seasonings. The skin was not crispy and quickly went soft by the time I received them. The wings were not wet and whatever sauce there had been had been absorbed into the skin.

Now to be fair, these wings had a good flavour. This was't just some bottled sauce dumped on the wings. There was an herby flavour (no those are not tooth picks on the wings but spices) and a slight heat. I almost didn't mind the non-cripsy wings.

FINAL SCORE: These were decent wings. A good flavour, although not really hot at all. The meat was tender, but the skin was a bit soggy. The onion rings were good, and an interesting view made this an interesting student pub. I'm not sure I'd be going back on my next trip to Ottawa, but it was worth the adventure. 5.5/10

The Draft Pub
801 King Edward Avenue, Ottawa ON