McDonalds Monopoly falls short…

I was out running errand today around noon and so I decided I would have some fast food on my way home. I was driving up the street and I saw McDonald’s and they had their MONOPOLY IS BACK signs out front. Now, any other year this was a sure fire way to get me through the door. I love the monopoly promotion. However, today I almost made the turn but steered clear. I went to Burger King on the next block. This is the first time that the monopoly promo failed to get me through the door and I even surprised myself with the move.

I know why the promo has failed to grab my loyalty this year. I have been disappointed by McDonalds time and time again over the past year or two. The new products always disappoint and the Angus burger is my case and point. It’s a bland patty on tasteless bread requiring unusually large amounts of ketchup to add flavour. The Big Mac was never a choice that I liked. The Big Extra or Mc Extra was a favourite of mine but it shrank considerably in size. I could complain all day about McDonalds and their new menu but i will stop there.

The bottom line is that the highly effective Monopoly promo failed to work on me this year. Has it failed to work on you? Have it ever worked on you? Let us know.

Stephen Richardson

http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

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Pizza with what did you say… garlic??

My usual pizza place changed their crust and sauce and the pizza is just not same so I am now in the market for a new pizza joint to frequent.  This happens all too often. You find something you really like and for some reason there are changes made… who in their right mind messes with a winning product?

Anyway, in my search for a new pizza I decided to try Gabriel’s. Gabriel’s is a Ottawa pizza chain that seems to be on every street. Naturally the assumption has to be that these guys are great… wrong…they are not great they are just every where. I ordered a 4 topping pizza, pepperoni, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. MMMMM garlic. But wait they do not offer garlic. I asked the lady if garlic was an unusual request and she said well no, its fairly common. My next reply was, “well, if its common why are you not offering it?”. Turns out that the corporate big wigs making the choices have not yet chosen garlic as a topping. So, I ordered my pizza and it came to 23 and change for a large. When I got to the store to pick it up I was only charged $21. I am not sure if the discount was an error or a bribe to come back regardless of the garlic choice for a topping being absent.

Now for the important thing… was the pizza any good? Well, it was average. The crust was thick and doughy and I like thin crusts. The sauce was very nice and in my opinion the sauce counts for about 50% of a pizza’s quality. These guys are great for cheese lovers. My pizza had the amount of cheese that you would get for ordering it as an extra topping. Myself, I do not like my pizza buried under a think layer of  bland mozzarella cheese. I find that it distracts from all of the other flavours. The other thing that I notices was that the pepperoni were thrown on in a hurry because they were actually folded and bunched up. The mushrooms where almost non existant and the onions where not diced but strown on in long strings.

The pizza was just average… nothing special. I think I could make a better one here at home. I will continue my search for the perfect pizza over the next few months. The next one better have garlic as a topping or I will be moving to the next one without even ordering. Once you have tried garlic on your pizza you will never go without it.

So… 2 rules for pizza joints.

1. Don’t mess with a good thing.

2. Offer garlic as a topping.

 Stephen Richardson

http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

Dining out should not be a high risk adventure

Calgary is taking some heat for a lack of effort to have full health inspections on all Calgary restaurants.

Get the details here: https://cfoodc.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/calgary-restaurant-inspection-slides/

I think that most people take it for granted that the government agencies responsible for taking action to maintain a certain level of quality in food preparation and sanitization are working non stop for the health and safety of the public. However, with a report like the one in Calgary with only about 40% of restaurants being inspected must make people second guess their option to try a new restaurant. Perhaps sticking with the ones you like, know, and trust is the best bet.

Enter Scarborough Ontario. Like, know and trust flies right out the window after as many as 37 reported food poisonings and 1 death resulting from poor sanitation, poor food preparation, and an insect infestation at a local Chinese restaurant. This was a popular well liked restaurant with seating for about 600!

Get the details here: https://cfoodc.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/restaurant-closure-is-scarborough/.

Though it is easy to start with the jokes surrounding Chinese food and infestation this is a very serious matter. Dining out should not be a high risk adventure like sky diving and white water rafting.

I think the public should demand a higher rate of inspections. Is once a year enough? I don’t think so. A lot can happen in a year especially with staff turn over and management changes. Perhaps there should be mini walk through’s during the year on a random basis.  This of course assumes that the annual inspection is being done and the city of Calgary has proven that to be a bad one. Additionally, as we move into the holiday season and business picks up sanitation becomes a larger issue and is easy to over look in an effort to get meals out to the tables as fast as possible.

On a positive note, restaurant goers can help each other. That’s why Canada Food Critic is a reality. Read and write reviews regularly every time you dine out. Report the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have always said that Canada Food Critic can save you a bad meal and now it appears that it can save you more than a bad meal, it may save your health!

As we come into the holidays everyone tends to dine out more often. Please take a few minutes to read and write reviews. Also, if the restaurant you are visiting is not yet reviewed perhaps you can avoid a bad experience by reading this article: http://www.canadafoodcritic.com/articles/index.php?ID=6 on 10 ways to spot a bad restaurant.

 

Stephen Richardson

http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

October 9 2009 New Letter

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

 09-10-2009

Hello Everyone!

This week I have some site updates to report and a few news articles that are worth mentioning.

Don’t forget the call for Boston Pizza reviews! For the month of October Boston Pizza has their 10 meals for $10 deal running. Get a cheap meal and write a review for a chance to win a gift card.

Also, read our BLOG, we post everything there now, including these new letters!! https://cfoodc.wordpress.com


In the News

Dining out should not be a high risk adventure

Calgary is taking some heat for a lack of effort to have full health inspections on all Calgary restaurants.

Get the details here: https://cfoodc.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/calgary-restau…pection-slides/

I think that most people take it for granted that the government agencies responsible for taking action to maintain a certain level of quality in food preparation and sanitization are working non stop for the health and safety of the public. However, with a report like the one in Calgary with only about 40% of restaurants being inspected must make people second guess their option to try a new restaurant. Perhaps sticking with the ones you like, know, and trust is the best bet.

Enter Scarborough Ontario. Like, know and trust flies right out the window after as many as 37 reported food poisonings and 1 death resulting from poor sanitation, poor food preparation, and an insect infestation at a local Chinese restaurant. This was a popular well liked restaurant with seating for about 600!

Get the details here: https://cfoodc.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/restaurant-clo…is-scarborough/ .

Though it is easy to start with the jokes surrounding Chinese food and infestation this is a very serious matter. Dining out should not be a high risk adventure like sky diving and white water rafting.

I think the public should demand a higher rate of inspections. Is once a year enough? I don’t think so. A lot can happen in a year especially with staff turn over and management changes. Perhaps there should be mini walk through’s during the year on a random basis.  This of course assumes that the annual inspection is being done and the city of Calgary has proven that to be a bad one. Additionally, as we move into the holiday season and business picks up sanitation becomes a larger issue and is easy to over look in an effort to get meals out to the tables as fast as possible.

On a positive note, restaurant goers can help each other. That’s why Canada Food Critic is a reality. Read and write reviews regularly every time you dine out. Report the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have always said that Canada Food Critic can save you a bad meal and now it appears that it can save you more than a bad meal, it may save your health!

As we come into the holidays everyone tends to dine out more often. Please take a few minutes to read and write reviews. Also, if the restaurant you are visiting is not yet reviewed perhaps you can avoid a bad experience by reading this article: http://www.canadafoodcritic.com/articles/index.php?ID=6 on 10 ways to spot a bad restaurant.

Canada Food Critic Adds 7500 New Listings

As always Canada Food Critic is on a mission to be, and remain, the largest reviewed Canadian restaurant index. This month we added 7,500 new listings. These listings are live in our database for search right now and the static pages are under construction as you read this letter. We will be adding more listings next month as well as new key words for search and new categories for search. We are always working to improve the site for you.


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Canadafoodcritic.com Updates  

I have moved my blog to https://cfoodc.wordpress.com  because I believe the tools they offer make them one of the best bogging sites on the web. Please check them out. At a minimum please check out and subscribe to my blog. I will be posting constantly to keep you up to date on Canadian Restaurant News.

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

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TO BE REMOVED YOU MUST E-MAIL ME. THE LINK IS NOT WORKING.

Restaurant Closure in Scarborough

Ruby Chinese Restaurant has been shut down after a salmonella outbreak last month.

As many as 19 became ill and may have resulted in one death.

On Wednesday, Toronto Public Health slapped a red closed notice on Ruby Chinese Restaurant.
Salmonella food poisioning was cited as the reason as well as an ongoing insect (cockroach) infestation.

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, constipation, headaches, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fever and blood in the feces.
Mild cases usually clear up in in a week or less. If the symptoms persist or are severe, consult a doctor.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Canada Food Critic Adds 7,500 New Restaurants

Canada Food Critic (http://www.canadafoodcritic.com) adds 7,500 new listings in October to further solidify their status as the largest reviewed restaurant index in Canada.  The database supported by Canada Food Critic now contains over 80,000 Canadian Restaurants.

Canada Food Critic is a restaurant index that allows anyone to register and review local restaurants. The database is easily browsed or searched. The listings are comprehensive and include everything from Brassieres to Tapas. No matter what type of food, atmosphere, or restaurant you seek Canada Food Critic has the listings you need.

Next time you are going to dine out check the listings for a reviewed restaurant near you and stop back to write your own review. Save yourself a bad experience or save someone else a bad experience. Canada Food Critic is your way to demand better quality, better service, and better value. Have your say.

 

Stephen Richardson
http//www.canadafoodcritic.com

Calgary Restaurant Inspection Slides

When you dine out at a restaurant you expect a certain level of quality control. Part of that quality controll is government inspections. Dirty kitchens or infested kitchens need to be shut down and have problems corrected.

If you live in Edmonton you are safe in assuming this quality control is taking place. Last the city had inspected almost 100% of their restaurants. Calgary on the other hand is not so current with inspections. They only achieved a 39%  inspection rate. So, about 60% of Calgary restaurants have not been inspected in a year. Are consumers supposed to trust that quality is maintained with a lack of inspection? Dining out should never be a high risk adventure and no one wants a bout of food poisoning due to a lack of health inspectors.

Supposedly the city is working on a solution to the problem and hopefully one is reached sooner rather than later. This years audit report will tell the story on and improvements that have been made. meanwhile for those of you living in Calgary, eat in the places you know, like, and trust!

Stephen Richardson
http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

CIBC VISA… Not worth your business

CIBC Visa has really blown their credibility with me. I will be closing my account at my earliest convenience because they have a lack of respect for their clients.

Earlier this month I have a refinance on my home. Part of that closing was that my credit card would be paid in full from the proceeds of the mortgage. This is not unusual. So, my lawyer mailed the payment around the 18th of September. My payment date was approximately the same time and my next statement date was the 27th or 28th of September. I have still not received my September statment so as far as I knew my card was in good standing. On Friday I tried to use my card and it was declined. I called CIBC VISA to find out what was wrong and they told me that my card was frozen and has been for about 2 weeks!!

At this point I was really pissed off and CIBC does not think I should be. CIBC froze my account without notifying me that they froze it. Had I not tried to use my card I would still have no idea that account was frozen! meanwhile I now have multiple bounced payments because i use the credit card to automatically pay a variety of bills. All of this because CIBC froze my account which they admit has a phenomenal credit history with the balance paid in full every month. Because they did not take 2 minute to notify me of the mised payment I was unable to deal with the problem and prevent the account from freezing. All they had to do was call. For that matter all they had to do was send out a recorded voice mail telling me that if payment was not received in 48 hours my account wold be frozen. Sears has an auto dialer notifying people about sales they are having and CIBC can’t do the same to notify people that their account is about to be frozen.

To make matter even worse, during the past 2+ weeks that my card was frozen CIBC called me about 1-2 times each week to sell me credit card insurance, life insurance, credit protection and more. To all of which I always decline and they keep calling. How can they justify calling to sell me crap every week and not call me the one time in 5 years that my card was at risk of being frozen.

I view this as a lack of respect. CIBC does not respect my business, they do not respect me as a client, and they do not respect my personal credit file. Do I really want to have any business dealings with a bank that does not respect me and my credit? I don’t think that I do. Because CIBC was negligent in notifying me of a problem the problem has snowballed into a bigger problem. CIBC will get their payment, CIBC will get extra interest, CIBC will still call me 2 times per week to sell me crap. I will pay more interest, I will get a lower credit score, I will still get time wasted on 2 calls per week from CIBC that I do not want.

I want to know what all of you think! Do you think that CIBC should notify customers prior to freezing thier accounts?

Time to boycot CIBC… But really, they do not care about one customer. They already showed me that!

Stephen Richardson
http://www.canadafoodcritic.com

UPDATE
======

CIBC has found my post and they have contacted me regarding the issue. They have apologised and have indicated they a solution to this type of situation is something that they have been looking into and working towards. Additionally they have assured me that this instance has not gone through to my credit burrow which is great news. I depend on having excellent credit for my business activities. I am very pleased that they took the time to call, it is unfortunate that it took a post to my blog but never the less, they did contact me and for that I am thankfull.

My cats fetish…

My cat has to be one of the most annoying on the planet. while this post is about my cat, surprisingly its also about food. For whatever reason my cat loves bread. But the bread has to be in a bag, and the bag has to be unopened. If all of those criteria are met he will chow down and stuff his belly full of bread.  Throw that same bread in his dish and he will not touch it.

So, I was just out for groceries. While paying my credit card did not work. The stripe was not reading. So, when I got home I put the groceries in the kitchen and proceeded to call Visa to get a new card. Otherwise I would forget to call later and have the same problem the next time I go for groceries.  So, I was on the phone less than 3 minutes. In that time my cat “Moe” had already eaten a huge chunk of bread. As soon as he heard me coming he was gone like a flash. I pulled out the half eaten piece of bread and proceeded to chase poor little Moe around the house. He is too funny as he hides in the most obvious places. Eventually he goes to his bed and surrenders. At that time I throw the bread at him and stares up with big sad eyes as to say “what did I do?”. Yeah right.

Answer this, if he eats the bread when it is in a bag but not in his dish does he know what he is doing? I think he does. He is doing this on purpose!! I think he secretly likes to be chased around the house to have a slice of bread whipped at his head. Other wise he has a crazy fetish for bagged bread. Either way, this is very strange. What cat like bread? I suppose it’s worth mentioning that this cat has also been found sleeping in the bathroom sink before.

At this very moment Moe is walking around the house eating up the little bread crumbs that hit the floor.  Crumbs are another of his fetishes. anything very tiny, food or not, will get eaten by moe.

If I ever post about Moe again I will post a photo. I will try to catch him with extra red in his eye to reflect his evil streak of bread hunger. Well, thats my rant about Moe.

 

Stephen Richardson

What Happened To Fast Food?

Do you remember when fast food was “fast food”. There was a time long ago when fast food was coined “fast food” because it was fast. These days it seems like fast food is more hype, myth or possible folklore than a reality. If you show up to a fast food joint and there is a line with more than 10 people in it, good luck getting your food in less than 20 minutes.

 So what is the problem? I would like to say poor management but the managers are at the mercy of corporate headquarters. There was a time when you could walk into a fast food joint, place your order, pay for your order, and walk away with your order almost instantly. That’s because everything was made in advance. That burger I ordered came from a hot table with about 50 other burgers ready to go. Back then, nothing was made to order unless it was not a standard order. Back then, menu’s were simple; burgers and fries with a soda. A manager could predict the noon hour rush and start prepping the food early and have the proper staff on hand. The manager would likely know with a close degree of accuracy how many of each burger would sell. Now menus are larger. There are 10 different type of burgers, 6 different salads, a bunch of sandwiches and the list goes on. There are too many options and no chance of predicting what to have prepared early. If you want fast food keep it simple!!

There was also a time when fast food was cheap. Right now if I go to get a meal and I upsize the fries and drink I will pay between $8-$10 for my meal. A friend of mine pays $10-$12. I am not getting any more food than I did before but I am losing service. There was a time, like 2 years ago, when I would go to Burger King for 99 cent Jr. Whopper. Now they are about $2.50 regular price. That’s insanity. As far as McDonalds goes, they seem to have wandered down a devastating path in my opinion. I just boycott them now. I was hooked in the Big Extra which is now just an over priced crumb that fell off the side of a Whopper. I swear the Big Extra has shrank 50% in size and gained 50% in price. I thought the Big Extra was McDonald’s version of the Whopper when they launched it. Now it not even as big as a Jr. Whopper.

So this begs the question, why pay $8-$12 for food that has been shown to be extremely bad for your health and takes too long to receive considering the name “fast food”. Well, I pay it for the same reason as anyone else, I like fast food. That being said I rarely pay full price for fast food. I know what days to hit what joints for the daily specials on the meals. For example, I go to Burger King for what I call Whopper Wednesday’s. It’s a $2 whopper!! That’s a great deal. The meal is about $4.50 which is close to 50% off regular price.

So, what alternatives are there to over priced, slow fast food with no nutritional value? I guess you could stand in line at subway for a week or two for something healthier. I could be like Jarrod and lose a few hundred pounds. But lets be honest, the only way I would ever lose weight by eating subway is getting exercise dancing around from having to pee because of trying to hold my place in line when its already been 30 minutes and the Joe Blow 10 people in front of can not decide between the Meatball Marinara and the Chicken Pizziola which he is ordering for the health benefits and not realizing that the nutritional value is no better than the Whopper at Burger King next door.

Well, where does all of this leave you. If fast food is slow, expensive, and void of nutritional value, why not just go sit down at a chain restaurant and have a real meal. Most places have a lunch menu where your food is guaranteed fast. I believe Montana’s guarantees your food in 15 minutes or its free. Wouldn’t you rather be sitting for 15 minutes as opposed to standing in a line? Another option is Swiss Chalet. Right now they have an all you can eat lunch for $7.95. You get soup, salad, and bread sticks. If your going to spend around $10 why not get some service with that meal and I am sure there is more nutrition from a restaurant meal versus the fast food joint.

So, lets stop standing in line for over priced slow fast food and take a load off while waiting to be served from well… anything not fast food. Just cross your fingers and hope the server does a good job or otherwise your 15 minutes or its free turns into a 45 minute wait for the check. And its still not free because the food it self got there in 14 minutes and 59 seconds.

Stephen Richardson
http://www.canadafoodcritic.com