Thursday, 26 September 2019

O'NEILL's PUB - Long Sault ON - An Incomplete Review

This is part of my #lotwsummercatchup for 2019 & a Lost Review.

This is actually a pretty problematic review. First, it was kind of on the run (as you will read) and I didn't get a chance to take notes. Now that this was several months ago now, where I usually have a good memory for the wings I eat, I don't remember the flavour of these at all. So I'm still going to post the pics and the story, but unfortunately I don't have specific food review. Bah!



So LJ had work in Cornwall and I tagged along. I dropped her off and went about my business driving away with our vehicle. She didn't know how long she would be but I would be on my own for lunch. After running some errands, I was hungry and decided to get some wings. Now I've tried a number of places for wings in Cornwall over the years, and I have places I like, but I'm always up for something new. So I did some research and a new place came up with apparently good wings: O'Neill's Pub. Only O'Neill's isn't in Cornwall, it's in Long Sault, which is about a 15 minute drive down the road.


I pulled up and saw that it was at the end of a strip mall, complete with big patio. It was grey and rainy, so that patio was empty. I went inside and it was quite large and cavernous inside. It was not full of people, but it was pretty busy considering the size of the joint. The place doesn't have a strong decor identity. There's lots of sports stuff. some Irish pub elements, and just general eatery look.

My waitress was I think the only waitress working, and I think she was the bartender too. She was quite busy. She had a lot of regular customers she was interacting with, and she had a lot of ground to cover. She took my drink order, I asked for Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, but when she brought it, it tasted like generic pop and wasn't great.



I was really impressed that they have two wing nights, Tuesdays and Saturdays. Saturdays!!! $0.49 wings is not bad, but even the every day wing prices aren't bad either.


There were a bunch of wing flavours available, and I had to ask what the differences were. My memory is a bit sketchy, but I'm pretty sure she said Hot and Frank's was the same thing, Suicide was Frank's X-Tra Hot, and Buffalo was Frank's Buffalo.

I wish I had asked before hand about the Blue Cheese and Sour Cream at the end of the sauce lists: are they actual wing sauces, or are they dips? Or can they be both? Either way I think I ordered the Buffalo with a side of Suicide.


Then it happened. LJ texted me that she was finished early and ready to go. Oh no! So before my wings came I was able to flag down my waitress and ask her if I could get them to go. She said no problem, and was also able to bring me my bill. I paid, got my take-out wings, and then didn't get a chance to eat them until the next day. But I forgot to take notes so I don't remember how they were exactly.



What I can tell you is that they were breaded, they weren't long big, but they were pretty meaty. Because they were served up the next day, I don't know if they were saucy or crispy or mushy or tender.








FINAL SCORE:

???

This is what I can tell you - I liked the wings, I liked the price, and I will for sure go back and check them out again sometime in the future.

Sorry for the poor review!


O'Neill's Pub
Long Sault ON
facebook.com/ONeills-Pub-1410589429235292/



Wednesday, 25 September 2019

DUNN's EXPRESS - Ottawa ON

This is part of my #lotwsummercatchup 2019 reviews.

Dunn's is an interesting restaurant franchise. Myer Dunn opened the original deli in Montreal in 1927 selling the now famous Montreal Smoked Meat. Over the years the Dunn family began to franchise and now there are locations all over Canada, with Montreal and Ottawa having the most. While the logos and much of the food is the same, it's my understanding that there isn't much unifying all of the individual stores.


Locations have been closing and opening a lot in recent years. Back a few years ago, a new concept opened on Richmond road in Westboro (Ottawa) called Dunn's Express. Focusing less on a dine-in experience and more on take-out and to go. I never checked them out. Meanwhile, on Carling ave, there's a little strip mall with lots of eats. When I first came to Ottawa around 2007 there was a pizza place I loved getting wings called The Pizza Shop. They closed years ago, but next door at that time was a Chinese Take-Out chain called Ho-Lee-Chow. They went out of business, and it became Robz, an awesome sandwich joint. Eventually his (there was a chef Rob) operation moved to a pool hall (now also closed), and renovations began for a new place called Bambino's. Something happened there because despite the 'Coming Soon' signs, I don't even think it actually opened. Then, the Dunn's in Westboro closed up shop and they re-opened where Bambino's/Robz/Ho-Lee-Chow was.

I really like Dunn's in general. Smoked Meat, Kosher dill pickles, fries - what's not to love? LJ and I have grabbed take-out from this location a couple times (they have a great take-out special) and one of the last times I was in, I noticed wings on the menu. I decided I would have to come back and check them out.


One day for lunch I stopped in with full intentions of getting the wings. This location is bright, clean, and modern looking but fitting in with the Dunn's deli aesthetic. You order up at the counter as this is mostly to-go, but there are several 4 seater tables as well as single counter seating at the front window. At your table are the necessary condiments for a Dunn's experience: 2 types of mustard, vinegar, ketchup, and salt and pepper. The place was really busy, both with dine-in customers and take-out.



There were two dudes working, and the younger dude came to take my order, he was very friendly, but also a bit awkward. I could see wings on the menu screen up above, but not the details. I told him I wanted the wings, 1 pound. He didn't bring up sauces, but neither did I. I got a drink and took a seat.

The kitchen is pretty open so you can watch them carve up the meat and sandwiches. This also meant I could clearly hear those wings go into the deep fryer. It didn't take long and pretty soon I could hear that sound of crispy wings hit the bowl. Then the young dude approached me and asked what 'dressing' I would like. Not seeing any choice anywhere I asked about my options. "Uh, we have hot" he said, "and Hot. Ha ha, I joke. We have Honey Mustard" He meant Honey Garlic. I went with Hot, and then he told me enthusiastically "I will bring it sauce on the side" and I was like, OK? Confused as to why but I went with it.


Out came a very golden fried pile of wings with my Hot on the side and a Kosher dill pickle.


I was pretty excited about this. I was going to order a pickle on the side because I love these extremely tart dills. They are actually a great side to what is usually a spicy savoury wing experience.





The wings come by the pound, and a Dunn's pound is about 10 wings. They come split by flats and drums, but I think I got more flats in this order. There were no bone plates or wetnaps, just napkins. As a take-out joint (and one that is focused on sandwiches) there is no wing night.


The wings are small. Nothing more I can say about that. Small. But to make up for it, they were super crispy. The skin was that nice, crackling crisp that you want in a fried wing.


The meat wasn't that tender. The bones had a hard time to be pulled apart. I'm sure the wings are frozen because how often are people ordering wings here?


I tried a wing on it's own before adding the sauce. The wing had no flavour itself. No seasoning. I thought they would be salty and good plain, but I was wrong. They look so good on their own but they definitely need sauce.



The Hot sauce on the side was I think, Frank's Buffalo, or even like a President's Choice Buffalo wing sauce. It was much more orange and buttery than straight hot sauce. Weird that they don't mention this as the sauce choice.



So with that, I just dumped the little container over all the wings. There was enough sauce to get each wing pretty wet, but I would have preferred them to have been tossed before being served. Especially after the wings themselves were so plain.


The sauce has that artificial butter flavour that is added to the hot sauce. I'm ok with this (although homemade Buffalo sauce is much better), this isn't bad. It's almost creamy, but it still retains a low level kick. They were tasty enough.



FINAL SCORE:

These were ok wings. Really crispy and a tasty sauce. But they are small, slightly tough, and pretty flavourless on their own. I think they really missed an opportunity to do some unique wings flavours here like Honey Mustard, or a dry spiced wing of Montreal Steak Spice (which would have gone great with the Kosher dill) or even a Kosher dill pickle wing! Anyway, their ok, I'd get them again, but I'd much rather have the smoked meat.  6.5/14


Dunn's Express
1679 Carling Ave, Ottawa ON (And other location)
dunnsexpress.co



Tuesday, 24 September 2019

HIGHLINER FISH WINGS

Fish Wings?

Fish Wings.


This past week I was scanning the grocery flyers when I saw Food Basics had Fish Wings on sale. It was like everything stopped/the record scratched - Fish Wings? Whaaaaaat? I was both horrified and curious at the same time. What is this? I had to try it. I didn't want to, but I had to.

I went to Food Basics, and the first location didn't have any. Another grocery store (not Food Basics) also didn't have it. I went to another Food Basics, and they had it - but the bunker label said it was $7.99 whereas the flyer said $6.99. The cashier ran it through and it was $6.99. So far these things were causing all sorts of trouble.


I didn't really read the box before buying them, I just grabbed it and ran. All I really noticed was that they were really playing up the wing tropes here: basket lined with the wings and dip and veggies. On closer inspection, it's newspaper lining the basket, bridging the world of fish and wings!

Then I noticed this:


what the heck? Where is old Captain High Liner? This is like The Most Interesting Man in the World, meets Trivago Guy, meets Toronto Fashion Santa. I don't know how I feel about this.



There's a big emphasis on the packaging that this is wild caught Alaskan Pollock fish. Also these are being marketed as a snack. It's breaded/fried Pollock chunks with a Frank's Red Hot 'Buffalo Wing Breading'. I find it funny they have a small warning this contains fish. There's also a warning that they try to remove all the bones, but they can't guarantee that they remove all the bones. I read that AFTER I ate these. But not bones.


I opened the box and was surprised to find the fish was just floating free in the box. I'm used to frozen wings or anything frozen being in a plastic bag inside the box. I'm cool with this because we don't need so much wasteful packaging. I also noticed there was nothing else in the box. I kind of expected a Buffalo sauce dip, or a blue cheese/ranch dip like in the photo. There is nothing but fish nugget.


The box is 454g or fish chunks, which worked out to be 21 pieces of Pollock in various sizes. I spread them out on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheated the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit  as per the instructions.


Some pieces kind of resembled wings? But mostly they resembled unformed chicken nuggets. I mean look at the photo above and tell me you wouldn't confuse that for chicken?  The colour pre-baking was light brown with just the lightest tinge of orangey/red. You can also see pepper? or some form of seasoning on the breaded chunks.

When the oven was ready, I put these in for 20 minutes to cook, turning them at the 10 minute mark.


When I bought these, I saw in the picture the fish was shown with dip, but there was none. I knew I was going to need some dip, so I whipped up a quick tartar sauce:


  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons of mayo
  • 2 tablespoons of dill relish
  • 1 tablespoons of lemon juice (or I used like 2 cap-fulls from the bottle)
  •  Salt & Pepper to taste 
Mix together and if you have time let it meld in the fridge. This is a pretty thick tartar sauce due to the sour cream, but it's probably the best I've ever made at home. If I had known I was going to make this, I would have picked up some blue cheese and made this more wing-like, but oh well.



After 20 minutes, the wings weren't quite crispy. Using tongs, they were quite soft and I was worried about them falling apart. So I popped them back into the oven under the low setting of my broiler for them to get crispier. Oh, I also popped in some leftover fries from another meal. What's fish without chips?




So the wings did crisp up a bit better after broiling them, but they never got to the level I would expect them to be at. To get an idea of what I'm talking about, if I picked up one of the bigger pieces, I was afraid of them flopping and breaking apart. They weren't mushy, but deep frying them would fix this issue.


The size of these nuggets were mostly of what I would say would be medium-ish for a frozen wing, but there were some small little nugs in the bunch.


The breading on these is not thin, but it's not thick. It's good because it doesn't overwhelm your bites with flour breading. The fish inside is VERY tender. It just flakes and falls apart in your mouth. So these may not have a nice crispy crunch to the bite, they almost melt in the mouth.

As for the flavour, I took my first bite: I tasted a strong fishy flavour (yes it's fish, but it's fishy fish). I took another bite, and I more noticed the salty/spicy hint of the Frank's. I took another bite and it was fish again. Each one was a roller coaster of being ok and being too fishy. It's a good thing I made the tartar sauce because it kind of neutralized the fishy taste. But because the structural integrity was so week, I couldn't dip the nuggets but had to dollop the sauce onto them instead.


Would I Buy These Again?

No.

The concept isn't bad. I wasn't crazy about them not being crispy enough, but the fish itself was soo tender I could overlook that. And while the spice on these was decent, they weren't strong enough in wing flavour. I'm ok with there being no sauce on these, but more spice would be better. My biggest issue was that these were just too fishy for my liking. If you like that fishy taste, you might like these. But I had to cover them in tartar sauce just to consume a portion of them. The rest went into the fridge as leftovers, and I don't think I'm going to go back to them.  8/14


High Liner 
Wild Alaska Fish Wings