Sunday, 18 May 2008

Propaganda War in Windsor

I can't tell the difference between the City of Windsor's "Greenlink" and the Province of Ontario's "Parkway" proposal - and I've been paying attention. Sure, there's a bit more roadway buried in the city's plan, which I really like, but the province's plan is perfectly acceptable to most reasonable people, I suspect. Our city council wants a Cadillac solution, and the Province came back with a Buick. I liked our solution, and I like Cadillacs. But you can't have what you can't afford. And for the record, I still think the DRTP alternate truck route was head and shoulders above anything that's come along since council caved to a vocal minority.

So now a ton of money is being spent by both sides to propagandize their proposals, on top of the money already spent in consultants and lawyers by our city council.

Hey, I may be wrong, maybe this will work. All I know is that from where I'm sitting we're down to splitting hairs and waiting for the other guy to blink. And the meter is running.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Il Fornello - A Return Visit

I wrote a nice review of Il Fornello a while ago with a little bit of a suggestion on improving service. The nice people at Il Fornello were kind enough to write to me and ask me to stop by and try them again. So I did - but to be very clear, I wasn't enticed in by any sort of compensatory offer. The food is good at Il Fornello, and the menu is creative and I really like the "Ontario" section -it's creative and socially aware. I don't mind paying for it.

The service was the same - so maybe I'm the problem. I just don't get the feeling anyone really cares if I'm there or not, almost like they're doing me a favour by serving me. My server was friendly, but not attentive. For example, when I told him I wasn't sure which pizza to choose, instead of making a few suggestions (which I would have welcomed and tried to ask for) he did the Diner dash instead - "I'll give you a few more minutes to look over the menu." I'd already had far too much time between being seated, being acknowledged by the waiter, getting my drink and now being approached for an order. I didn't need more time, I needed some help from the expert - Il Fornello's waiter. I guess he had something more important to do.

Look - I'm really low maintenance. I will eat whatever a waiter sincerely suggests. I order from the menu, I don't complain, I keep a very low profile and I tip well when the service is great.

I really enjoyed the pizza, I'd eat there again, but I'm in no hurry. I think the feeling is mutual.

The Loose Moose - Toronto

I have often walked by this restaurant and thought about going in. The patio at a nearby restaurant was jammed on this first really beautiful day of the new Patio season, so I figured that the restaurants without patios should be fairly quiet - and the Loose Moose was only somewhat busy nearest the open windows.

What are your expectations of a bar that clearly caters to, and probably does a lot of business from the tourist sports crowd on their way to a Blue Jays or Maple Leafs game? This place is about what you'd expect.

Trouble is, just meeting expectations isn't even the entry level for restaurants these days. I'm not in any way criticizing the place, and hey, if they're kick-ass busy most of the time, who cares what one guy's expectations are for creativity and great food?

The thing is, sometimes I go into a pub for lunch and the food is surprisingly outstanding. This was surprisingly banal. It wasn't bad, it wasn't all that good.

I had the Cobb Salad, which was a boring mix of ingredients readily available in the kitchen for other menu items. Romaine lettuce (iceberg in a Cobb makes more sense), chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions, shredded cheese and a dollop of guacamole (hunnh?). These double as fajita/nacho/texmex ingredients, no doubt. Bacon bits, sliced egg (not chopped?) and cucumber spears finished Cobb. Boring and unimaginative, and it could have been a refreshing summer salad.

Good - the young lady who served me was keeping an eye on her section quite nicely, and there seemed to be some teamwork in getting meals out to the tables.
Great - I bet a nice cold beer and some wings during the playoffs would go down very well in this place.
Room for Growth - don't treat lunch as the necessary cost of being open for evening bar biz. Clean the place up, and present a unique and different menu.

The Ultimate Comment Card Question, the only one that matters: Based on this visit, would I return? Not on purpose. Don't get me wrong - the place was OK. But for the same price within a half mile radius you can get better than OK in easily a dozen other pubs.