Elgin Street Diner – Ottawa

It has been a long time since writing a review for any restaurant but I am finally back and I hope to be posting regularly in the future. Today I went to the Elgin Street Diner in Ottawa. The diner is very well known and has been features on “You gotta eat here”. I will start by saying… No, you don’t gotta eat here. The Elgin Street Diner can be summed up in one word, AVERAGE! There was nothing special about the place or the food. They have a few unique ideas but that is not going to make them live up to the hype.
I ordered the Smokey Burger. It comes with bacon, smoked gouda, house BBQ sauce, lettuce and tomato. The sides were a dill pickle, coleslaw, and home cut fires. The burger itself was rather dry and definitely over cooked. If you are going to call it a Smokey burger you better make sure that there is a smoky flavour to something. Since the cheese did not deliver a smoky taste I expected the house BBQ sauce to deliver. In reality the house BBQ sauce was almost like eating flavoured ketchup. The spices reminded me of Indian style spices. Over all the burger was good, just not great and not something that would draw me in as a repeat customer. The coleslaw was good and reminiscent of the flavour that you get from KFC coleslaw. The fries where thinly cut in house and fried golden brown. There were probably the highlight of the plate and they were piled high.
My wife ordered the OMG eggs benedict. This was eggs benedict served on a bacon grilled cheese sandwich as opposed to the traditional English muffin. The sides were beans and mashed potatoes. The waiter did not ask how my wife wanted her eggs cooked and they came out hard. I personally consider hard boiled eggs in an eggs benedict plate to be a epic fail, my wife on the other hand likes them like that. Considering the lack of a runny yolk there should have been more hollandaise sauce. Her plate looked dry and she confirmed that it was. However, she said it was a good breakfast meal. The beans were something special. They had a very unique flavour that we both really liked.
Overall I would say this place was just average. I am not inclined to return anytime soon and probably never will. In all honesty you can get better food for better value at a chain like Boston Pizza of Montana’s. I would rate the Elgin Street Diner 2.5/5.
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McDonald’s has “Pester Power”

For a third time McD0nald’s takes the top honor at the Food Marketing Fame and Shame Awards. Apparently McDonalds is the best when it comes understanding and cashing in on the psychology of youngsters.

A panel of 200 parents voted on these awards. McDonald’s won the pester power award for their animated happy meal television ad’s. The also got the distinction of being the most irresponsible creator of food promotions for sponsoring a high school math website.

 

Food Safety Violations result in $20000 fine.

 

Chandra’s Takeout Restaurant and Catering
Markham Road in Scarborough
Ontario

 

Fined $20,000

 

This is the maximum allowable fine for food safety violations. The problem stemmed from a cockroach infestation in August. On reading about the infestation I had vivid images from the movie Sweeney Todd running through my head. Apparently there were live cockroaches running around the food preparation area.

 

It was also reported that they where storing meat and other perishable food items at room temperature. Gee, do you think that had something to do with the cockroach infestation?

 

I am not sure a $20,000 fine is sufficient to keep these people from re-offending. This is a case of out right negligence and disregard for public health. Perhaps in a situation like this the food license should be revoked permanently!

 

Burger King Make Over

Burger King will be rolling out a new design across all 12,000+ locations. They hope that the new design will boost sales. They say the new design has boosted sales already where it has been implemented. The new look is supposed to be more inviting in hopes of attracting more than a drive thru crowd.
Burger King also has plans to introduce an extra thick Steakhouse XT burger in February. It will be garnished with mayonnaise, fried onions, lettuce, steak sauce, cheese and tomatoes.
Burger-King

Canada Food Critic Site Updates

I have just streamlined the news letter subscription and unsubscription process. Now all users can easily leave our newsletter at any time with the click of a link in each mailing or users may visit their profile page and either unsubscribe or subscribe on the website. I would like to ask that anyone who wishes to not receive the newsletter please unsubscribe. Do not mark our newsletter as junk mail in your free e-mail service because some people like getting our newsletter with contest and promotional announcements.  Thank you for your understanding.

Stephen Richardson

http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

Whopper Wednesday 7 days a week!!

I just got back from Burger King. Yup, its Wednesday again. If you have been a member of my site for a while you know that I like to hit BK every week for Whopper Wednesday. Every Wednesday the King Deal is the Whopper. You get the meal for $3.99 or the burger for $1.99. I typically just get 2 burgers… why waste time with fries… 

Anyway, today when I received my order I got 2 coupons that will allow me to get the King Deal of my choice any day of the week. So, I am not restricted to Whopper Wednesday! Since there is a different King Deal every day regardless you are not really saving any money but you do get to enjoy the meal of your choice 7 days a week. I think it’s a great little promotion. I am sure this is their attempt to keep people visiting BK as opposed to running over to McDonald’s for the Monopoly promotion.

So… go get your king deal and enjoy.

Stephen Richardson

Canada Food Critic, Read, Dine, Review
http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

October 27 2009 news letter

Canada Food Critic 
http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

 27-10-2009

Hello Everyone!

It has been about 2 weeks since our last news letter and I had to get this one out today because this is the last call for Boston Pizza reviews. All of the Boston Pizza reviews submitted in the past 6 weeks will be entered into a draw for a BP Gift card. So, if you have eaten at a BP and not written a  review yet, do so now!

Because of the recent news about restaurant inspections and some restaurant closures I decided to put together an article on the reporting of restaurant inspection to the public. Depending on the province you are from this information is next to impossible to find.

Read the article below for our review of how well provinces are doing in making inspection data available to consumer. 

I will not be including a list of provincial site in this news letter but if you want to get the restaurant inspection data for your area you will fin the links posted in my BLOG: https://cfoodc.wordpress.com


Restaurant Inspection

In Canada our restaurant are inspected by Public Health Inspectors. These inspectors are hired for our protection. We can not visit the kitchen of every restaurant that we choose to dine at, but we can for the most part rely on our Public Health Inspectors to ensure that our food is handled safely, is not contaminated, and is prepared in a sanitary environment. As consumers we have the right to know what these reports find. It would also be nice to know restaurant track records with inspections. Until the past several years the only findings you would hear of were those leading to a restaurant closure. Most provinces are moving to a more transparent system and the results are now publicly available online. Unfortunately there are some provinces that do not seem to be making any effort at all.

Currently I know of only 5 provinces that are making an effort to make restaurant inspection data available to the public (New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia). Actually, as far as Ontario and British Columbia are concerned the effort is more localized to cities and regions as opposed to province wide but they are making an effort. I can not really say for sure if Quebec is making an effort because I am unable to locate an English site. Matters of public safety should be provided in both French and English  in all provinces.

The provinces of New Brunswick and Alberta provide the best model for how to report restaurant inspections. New Brunswick offers superior reporting and Alberta offers the best organization. I like the search engine for New Brunswick because I can easily grab a list of all closures or all warnings and violations not leading to a closure. Reports are broken down into 5 categories:

Green: High compliance with no more than 5 minor violations.
Light Yellow: General compliance, 6-9 minor violations.
Dark Yellow: General compliance, no more than 3 major violations.
Light Red: Corrections required, 1 or more critical violations, and/or 4 or more major violations and/or 10 or more minor violations.
Dark Red: License has been revoked for non-compliance

This is by far the easiest site to search and to get information quickly. There is a single search for the entire province. We have to look to Alberta for organization of inspection reports. Their site is easy to navigate by region, and each region is then searchable. The problem is that the search is nearly useless as you can only search one listing at a time as opposed to the New Brunswick system which allows an individual to pull up a list of all yellow, or all red listings in an area. Ontario is not as organized as Alberta. Each city, or region, seems to be working on their own reporting system. It would be nice to some uniformity between the sites, The search sites for Ontario listings are reasonably acceptable but they do not offer the same capabilities as the New Brunswick site and thus make finding recent information difficult as well as finding a list of violations not resulting in closures. Take the Toronto site for example, when you search the Toronto site, all yellow or conditional passes as green. Clearly a restaurant with 0 violations is not deserving of the same color code as one with multiple minor or major violations. However, Toronto feel that you only need to know what restaurants are closed (listed as red).

Here is a list of sites where information regarding restaurant inspections is either located or should be located. Please keep in mind that I did not search each site for hours. If I did not find the information readily available in less than 5 minutes I assumed that the information was not there. If the information is there it should not be buried in an obscure page that you will never find. If you locate the inspection reports in any area please let me know.

Find the links to inspection reports on my BLOG https://cfoodc.wordpress.com


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Canadafoodcritic.com Updates  

The entire website was rebuilt last week. the entire 7000+ new listings are now fully indexed and available to search and to review.

More programming! 

I am seeking an experience programmer to work on a few projects that I am unable to code my self. If you or someone you know would like a freelance project please contact me.


Sincerely,

Stephen Richardson
webmaster@canadafoodcritic.com
http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

FACE BOOK Forum  http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8290213004
BLOG WordPress https://cfoodc.wordpress.com

Restaurant Inspection

In Canada our restaurant are inspected by Public Health Inspectors. These inspectors are hired for our protection. We can not visit the kitchen of every restaurant that we choose to dine at, but we can for the most part rely on our Public Health Inspectors to ensure that our food is handled safely, is not contaminated, and is prepared in a sanitary environment. As consumers we have the right to know what these reports find. It would also be nice to know restaurant track records with inspections. Until the past several years the only findings you would hear of were those leading to a restaurant closure. Most provinces are moving to a more transparent system and the results are now publicly available online. Unfortunately there are some provinces that do not seem to be making any effort at all.

Currently I know of only 5 provinces that are making an effort to make restaurant inspection data available to the public (New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia). Actually, as far as Ontario and British Columbia are concerned the effort is more localized to cities and regions as opposed to province wide but they are making an effort. I can not really say for sure if Quebec is making an effort because I am unable to locate an English site. Matters of public safety should be provided in both French and English  in all provinces.

The provinces of New Brunswick and Alberta provide the best model for how to report restaurant inspections. New Brunswick offers superior reporting and Alberta offers the best organization. I like the search engine for New Brunswick because I can easily grab a list of all closures or all warnings and violations not leading to a closure. Reports are broken down into 5 categories:

Green: High compliance with no more than 5 minor violations.
Light Yellow: General compliance, 6-9 minor violations.
Dark Yellow: General compliance, no more than 3 major violations.
Light Red: Corrections required, 1 or more critical violations, and/or 4 or more major violations and/or 10 or more minor violations.
Dark Red: License has been revoked for non-compliance

This is by far the easiest site to search and to get information quickly. There is a single search for the entire province. We have to look to Alberta for organization of inspection reports. Their site is easy to navigate by region, and each region is then searchable. The problem is that the search is nearly useless as you can only search one listing at a time as opposed to the New Brunswick system which allows an individual to pull up a list of all yellow, or all red listings in an area. Ontario is not as organized as Alberta. Each city, or region, seems to be working on their own reporting system. It would be nice to some uniformity between the sites, The search sites for Ontario listings are reasonably acceptable but they do not offer the same capabilities as the New Brunswick site and thus make finding recent information difficult as well as finding a list of violations not resulting in closures. Take the Toronto site for example, when you search the Toronto site, all yellow or conditional passes as green. Clearly a restaurant with 0 violations is not deserving of the same color code as one with multiple minor or major violations. However, Toronto feel that you only need to know what restaurants are closed (listed as red).

Here is a list of sites where information regarding restaurant inspections is either located or should be located. Please keep in mind that I did not search each site for hours. If I did not find the information readily available in less than 5 minutes I assumed that the information was not there. If the information is there it should not be buried in an obscure page that you will never find. If you locate the inspection reports in any area please let me know.

Yukon: No reporting  

http://hss.gov.yk.ca/programs/health/environmental/

Saskatchewan: No reporting

     Saskatoon: poor reporting

http://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/your_health/ps_public_health_programs_and_servicesdirectory_phi.htm

      Regina: poor reporting

http://www.rqhealth.ca/programs/comm_hlth_services/pubhealth/enviro_safe_food.shtml

 Quebec: No reporting

http://www.mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/Fr/Restauration/

      Montreal: No reporting?

http://applicatif.ville.montreal.qc.ca/framville.asp?url=http://services.ville.montreal.qc.ca/aliments/an/accualia.htm

 PEI: No reporting

http://www.gov.pe.ca/health/index.php3?lang=E

 Ontario: Reporting done regionally

      Toronto: City initiative

 Dine Safe Toronto

http://app.toronto.ca/food2/DineSafeMain?userRequest=return_home

      Ottawa: City initiative

 Eatsafe Ottawa

http://ottawa.ca/cgi-bin/search/inspections/q.pl?ss=home_en&qt=fsi_en

      WaterLoo: Regional

http://www.region.waterloo.on.ca/ph

      OTHER: Regional Sites

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/contact/phu/phuloc_mn.html

 Nunavut: No Reporting

http://www.gov.nu.ca/health/

 New Brunswick: Excellent reporting and search engine

http://www1.gnb.ca/0601/fseinspectresults.asp

 Northwest Territories: No reporting

http://www.hlthss.gov.nt.ca/english/services/environmental_health/default.htm

 Newfoundland: No Reporting

http://www.gs.gov.nl.ca/

 Manitoba: No Reporting

http://www.gov.mb.ca/

      Winnipeg: PDF list of closures only

 http://www.winnipeg.ca/cms/ehs/default.stm

 BC: No Reporting

http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/socsec/contacts.html

     Vancouver: Reporting but difficult to use

 http://www.foodinspectionweb.vcha.ca/Nav-Main.htm

 Alberta: Full reporting, best organized site

http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/707.asp

The Mix Steakhouse and Bar (Orleans ON)

Last Friday my wife and I ventured out to find a restaurant… someplace new.  We ended up in the parking lot of a strip mall on Tenth Line Rd. In this strip mall was a steakhouse, The Mix. It is tucked away in the back, hidden behind a Dairy Queen. It does not seem to be an ideal location as it is very much hidden from sight in all directions. The Mix Steakhouse and Bar might be more appropriately names Jekyll and Hyde’s Steakhouse and Grill. Bear with me and I will explain.

Being a steakhouse I was expecting a much more upscale atmosphere in the restaurant. However, on entering I realized that this was nothing more than a tiny little pub with a few booths and a few tables in the back. It was very small and along the side was the bar. This place seemed dingy and a bit dirty. It was far from warm and welcoming. My wife and I were actually about to leave when the waiter caught us and gave us the menu’s. We were already there so why not take a look right?

Oddly enough the menu was that if an upscale steakhouse. They served $15-$20 pasta’s, seafood ranging from $13-$30 and steaks ranging from $22-$36. They even had rack of lamb on the menu. This was definitely no pub menu. That being said if you wanted pub food they did have wings and burgers etc. The special that night was the Fajita’s two for one special. We took the Fajita’s, I added onion rings to start and my wife added soup to start.

The onion rings were perhaps one of the top 3 I have ever had. What made them stand out was the garlic dipping sauce that came with them. It was thick, creamy, and loaded with garlic flavour and went amazingly well with the rings. Then came the Fajita’s. There was a large deep dish of sour cream, Guacamole, and brochette (not the correct name). There was also a dish of rice with a spicy tomato paste on the top. The fajita filling came sizzling hot on a cast iron dish. There was loads of peppers chicken and onions. Not like those places that we have all been to where you get a few peppers and a dish loaded with onions. These guys made a nice well proportioned dish. There was actually a perfect number of shells served as well. Perhaps 1 or 2 more would have been better but there was enough. The fajita’s where very juicy, extremely tasty, enjoyable. I was still astounded by the food offered by this place that looked like a dive and to think i was ready to walk out the door and not even try it! One thing that should have been a giveaway that food would be good was that there were no ketchup bottles on the table. Typically that’s a good thing; it means they know you are not going to want to drown your food in ketchup to make it edible.

I have neglected the service to this point but I will assure the service is great. I mean, how could it not be great, the joint was nearly empty. I suspect that may have to do with it being effectively hidden from any main road in the local area. It is truly a hidden gem. The service was fast, kind, and courteous.

As for the value, I will say that even at regular price these fajita’s would have been worth the $16 each. As a 2 for one the value was absolutely outstanding. The onion rings and soup were also very reasonably priced. I do want to go back and try the fish and chips and a steak. The steak will be the ultimate tell tale for value at this restaurant.  They call it a steakhouse, let’s see if they get it right!

In summary, I am very pleased with this find. It is a diamond in the rough. I hope you figured out from my review that it should have been named Jekyll and Hyde’s because of the discrepancy between the menu and the atmosphere.

By all means, give this place a try. Do not be turned off by the first impression. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Stephen Richardson
http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

Canada Food Critic releases 6 new reviews

Canada Food Critic (http://www.canadafoodcritic.com) releases 6 new reviews

 This week we have 2 perfect reviews to present. We have a wide range of scores from very low to perfect! The first perfect score is from the Pacific Grill in Greenwood BC. You can read the review here:

 http://tinyurl.com/yl336j3

The second perfect score is from Little Turkish Village in Orleans ON. This review was written by me and it can be found right here:

http://tinyurl.com/yze9ejd

 A very strong scoring review for Boston Pizza has come in from Abbotsford BC. That review can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/yj3ghvy

 We still have a call out for Boston Pizza reviews. There is just under 2 weeks left to take advantage of the Boston Pizza 10 for $10 promo and to have your review entered for a gift card for Boston Pizza!

Another review comes from me as well. I recently tried The Mix in Orleans ON. This place had great food and would have scored perfectly if the atmosphere was a bit more pleasant. Have a read here:

http://tinyurl.com/ykzxsnu

 At the bottom of the list of reviews for the week is All Hours Pizza and Donair in Edmonton. Based on prior reviews it is no surprise to see this place with yet another bad review. I guess this reviewer should have read our reviews before eating there!!

http://tinyurl.com/yzfhumh

 Thanks for all of your reviews; I look forward to reading more this coming week.

Stephen Richardson
http://www.canadafoodcritic.com