30 September, 2011

Chicken Fried Rice, It's What's For Dinner...

It seems that at least once a week in our home some sort of dish calling for rice HAS to be served.  The Sprout absolutely L.O.V.E.S. anything with rice in it.  Last time I made Fried Rice for dinner, I made it vegetable and had a protein for a side instead.  Tonight I was feeling lazy, so it was inevitable that the grain and protein would be combined.  Chicken Fried Rice, a long time favorite in our family, is a VERY easy dish to make.  Sure, there are a few steps but the WHOLE thing takes less than 15 minutes to make.  When I made this I TRIPLED the recipe.  It is VERY easy to meddle with this recipe so it bends to your needs.  But, if and when you should decide to do any such thing, be certain you are using quality ingredients.

Be sure you have every ingredient you need before starting this process.  Once you get into it it goes fairly quickly.  If you haven't a large wok in your house consider buying one, but a kettle/pot large in circumference will do just as well.  

What you will need:
6 c. uncooked instant rice
6 c. unsalted chicken broth
½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
½ small yellow onion
¾ c. frozen peas and carrots 
3 eggs
2 T. vegetable oil
2 T. dark soy sauce (preferably without sugar in it)
2 tsp. pure sesame oil
1 tsp. sea salt

1 T. dark soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
½ tsp. sugar

The very first step in this process is to marinate the chicken.  In a bowl, mix marinade together briskly with a whisk to make sure all the cornstarch and sugar are well incorporated into the soy sauce.

Cut your chicken breasts into ½ inch cubes.  Toss in the cubed chicken and either set aside in the bowl or toss it into a resealable baggie. 

In a small bowl beat your eggs and set those aside for frying in a couple minutes.  Chop your onion finely and set that aside in a bowl for later as well.  After you accomplish those steps it would be wise to begin your rice.  Now...you can make this simple or you can make it hard.  Depending on whom you are feeding you may choose to keep it simple with instant rice and tap water, but if you are having someone to dinner that may expect a little more out of your cooking you can opt for what I do and cook your rice in broth.  

For the purposes of this dish a loverly unsalted chicken broth or unsalted vegetable broth with do nicely.  This also adds a bit more color to the dish as far as the rice goes.  It is your choice whether you use instant rice or the more time consuming long grain rice.  Either way it is appropriate to cook your rice before you begin the rest of the dish, that way when it calls time to fold it into the wok it isn't violently hot anymore.  When finished, set the rice aside for its turn in line.

First thing to do after you have completed these preparations is to heat your wok to a medium heat.  It would be best to really wait until your wok has achieved the proper temperature for frying.  Frequently hold your hand over the center of the pan just short above the rim of your wok.  When you can feel enough heat under your hand as to feel the need to remove it or be burned...lol...it's READY!  

At this point add 1 T. of vegetable oil to the wok and pour in your beaten eggs.  Scramble them until they are firm, then remove them from the wok to a plate or bowl.  To the wok add 1 T. of vegetable oil again and saute your minced onion.  While the onion is doing its thing in the wok, drain your marinated chicken in the sink, do not retain the marinade for any reason.  (The juice from raw chicken that has been incorporated into the marinade renders it useless and rife with bacteria...let it go down the drain.)  Toss drained chicken chunks into the wok with the onion, stir fry them together for at least 2 minutes or until chicken is white on all sides.  When it has reached this stage turn in your scrambled eggs and peas & carrots.  It should look something like this....

Once that is all well incorporated in the wok it is time for the easiest part of all...add 2 T. of dark soy sauce, 2 tsp. of a GOOD quality sesame seed oil and 1 tsp. of sea salt.  Mix that well into the rest of the ingredients, you'll know it has coated everything when you smell the sesame oil very strongly.  The heat really ramps up sesame oil's smell.  Add your cooked rice to the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring it occasionally.  It should look somethin' like this...

This is a dish that is, of course, best served hot.  But lets be real...who hasn't eaten cold fried rice and loved it anyhow?  Right.  I know I don't mind the temperature one way or the other.  Depending on how many sides to choose to accompany this, such as egg rolls or some variety of Moo Shu, one recipe of this rice SHOULD feed 4-6 adults.  If this is to be the main course I would make that more conservative and say more like 3-5 adults.  Portions in our home are about 1 cup.  As I tripled this recipe...we have Chicken Fried Rice coming out of our ears at the moment.  But, I don't hear anyone complaining.  At any rate, from MY family to yours...happy eating!! 

I used organic brown eggs for this recipe, frozen peas, fresh coined carrots that I chopped with my PC food chopper, a white onion rather than yellow and in the marinade the sugar I used was an organic cane sugar.  I always, ALWAYS buy my Asian ingredients at an Asian market.  There is a larger variety and the difference in quality can be seen RIGHT on the shelf in terms of color of sauces and you can turn bottles of oil over and roll them to see how long it films one spot to the next with oil on the sides of the bottle...the longer the better.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.  If you have a recipe for fried rice, feel free to pass it along.  I love to try new recipes!!   

22 September, 2011

REAL Food!! Yay!!!

Since leaving Oklahoma City we've been waiting and WAITING to hear that our home had a buyer and then...that the loan was REALLY going to go through.  We got that news not too long ago and we're closing on Monday.  It is SUCH a relief to know we'll only be worrying about ONE household now rather than 2.  With this event approaching we needed to get some documents notarized downtown, the soonest they could see us was yesterday at 4pm.  I didn't need to think hard to realize we wouldn't get home at a reasonable hour for me to cook a REAL dinner.  I grabbed my list and got to it.  The Embassy wasn't too far from a number of the places on my list.  

After the disappointment we had at Barley Mow on Monday night you'd think I would have avoided pub food again.  Not so!  When I have a craving and it goes unsatisfied, I try to quench it again...and again until my tummy and brain let me know my mission has been accomplished.  One of the closer spots was Chez Lucien on Murray Street, only a couple blocks.  Even though the weather had taken a turn yesterday, giving us the 77 degree heat I was overjoyed to find GONE last week, there seemed to be a cool breeze as we made our way down.

Unfortunately I couldn't do much recon on them in respect to their menu or background because they don't have a website that I could find and no menu available to look at.  So when we finally made our way to a table I had to sit and study it for a while.  The first thing we were informed was that our stroller "can't block the jukebox".  That was random...  We weren't offered a high chair either, in light of it being a problem to block the jukebox I went ahead and assumed they don't have highchairs.  But, to be fair I am not sure.

I had heard from people before we went that this place is always horribly "busy" and the service was even worse.  When I eat anywhere downtown I try to arrive before the dinner hour...between 4:30-5pm.  This worked out GREAT here.  I definitely can see where their service could be improved, but it wasn't the worst service I've had either.  When I didn't see a hostess at the door, I assumed it was a "seat yourself" situation and did just that, with the Sprout in tow I wasn't about to wait for someone to notice we were waiting.

I asked what their better starters were off the menu and our waitress indicated that they were ALL good and asked us how hungry we were instead.  We were starving...  She said the nachos were a large portion.  We took the bait and added chicken.  For my entree I went with the Bourgoise Burger...it really piqued my interest.  It came with fries so I asked for a side of sour cream to go with that.  (If you've never tried sour cream with french fries...DO!  It tastes like you're eating a baked potato!!)  With our orders in, I set to work looking around.


By the time I was done looking around our starter was ready.  I was starving, so that worked out well.

Nachos with Chicken

As nachos go, they were the best nachos I've had since I have been in town.  The chicken was grilled before it was diced up for the top; it was still moist.  The chips didn't do the typical flimsy, floppy thing once they had been exposed to the salsa and cheese.  I was glad for that, after my dinner Monday night I don't think I could have handled another disappointment.  The jalapenos were a good kick and the cheese was mild.  Halfway through eating these we recalled that our waitress had never come to take our order for our main entrees.  Based on information we'd been given before we went, I wasn't about to wait for her to come to me.  I went to find her to let her know we were ready to order our entrees.

Bourgoise Buger w/ Fries & Side Salad

That burger IS as great as it looks.  With pear, melted brie and grilled onion this HUGE, beautiful burger really hit the spot.  The pear was soft and sweet; paired with the brie it was just magical!  The lettuce was crisp, the pickle was awesome...even the BUN was perfect!  It had obviously been toasted a bit before it was loaded with the guts....fabulous!  The burger patty was cooked medium well, which I FAR prefer to the hockey puck "well done" version that a lot of places serve these days.  I could go on forever, but that would only get annoying.  I'll just tell you that you HAVE GOT to try this burger!  Their french fries were great, even better dipped in the FULL fat sour cream that I ordered on the side rather than ketchup.  The salad was lovely; it has been a long time since I've been given alfalfa sprouts on my salad.  It was a pleasant surprise.  It all played well with the dressing which itself had a perfect balance of oil and vinegars.  The whole meal was put together very well.

Our Sprout of course was getting wildly out of control, being that we were on the tail end of this venture we made for the check and to go supplies.  We had great food and we were in and out in an hour.  We noted this in particular because we were parked in the Embassy...had we not been back by 6pm we wouldn't have been able to get our vehicle out easily.  In Chez by 5, out by quarter to 6; just a 5 minute walk from the Embassy, we got our truck just in time.  

I'd go back to Chez Lucien ANY day, but...no later than 5 pm.  Activity DID start to pick up at 5:30 and wasn't showing signs of slowing down any time soon.  If you're looking for a great experience with pub food, stop in at Chez Lucien.  Let me know what you get and how you liked it, love hearing from other customers!

Chez Lucien on Urbanspoon

20 September, 2011

More Flavor Please ??

I didn't want to go very far for dinner last night, traffic in the city has gotten nuts since all the of strikes have ended and the universities are back in session.  Going downtown these days is like begging to sit in traffic for an eternity.  There aren't too many places in our part of town that I have been in a rush to try though.  I scanned through my "to eat" list and like a bizarre game of "eeny, meeny, miney, mo" I randomly picked Barley Mow Pub from my list.

 When we arrived it was only 5pm, from the outside it looked like we had REALLY great chances of having a quick peaceful dinner.  Then we walked in the door.  We were promptly informed there would be a golf tourney group eating there so places to sit were limited and any pictures I would take of seating options would most likely not be an accurate portrayal of how they normally have the place set up.  *shrug*  After we were seated in one of the enclosed booths I went to work with the menu to figure out what to order for a starter and my entree.  I asked about their signature dishes off both sections, but I just wasn't in the mood for some of the recommendations.  Now I wonder, had I ordered some of those recommendations, would I have enjoyed my food better.  It is impossible to tell, and quite frankly I seriously doubt that.

After a couple minutes we decided on Pequenos for a starter and their Pub-Style Curry for my entree.  With an order in for the fish & chips for the Sprout I was off to take some pictures of the place.


A couple of the things on the specials board caught my eye, particularly the Sun Dried Tomato Cream Penne with Chicken (LONG name), but it wasn't "pub food" which is what I was there looking for, so I moved on.  It didn't take long at all and our appetizer was at the table.  Quick service!!  I didn't expect that being that half the things I'd read online and heard word of mouth were that the service was severely "lacking", to be kind.  We were off to a pleasant start in the fact that those people were being proved wrong on that count.  Either way, service good or bad can be born for the most part as long as the food is worth the minor annoyances.  With that in mind we dug in....

They were basically Mexican seasoned beef spring rolls and sauce made out of ketchup and banana pepper juice from a jar.  They didn't "wow" me, but they weren't horrible either.  They were just okay; I wouldn't order them again.  Luckily I didn't have much time to dwell on the slight disappointment before everyone's entrees made it to the table.  We got to work cutting up the Sprouts fish & chips then turned our attention to our own food.

Pub-Style Curry

The side salad there you see came with a balsamic vinegar dressing.  It was horribly average and bland.  So, we'll move on from that catastrophe for the sake of time.  (For future reference, pub or not, at this point in our culture I don't count ANYthing with Iceberg Lettuce in it as a "salad" when there are much more healthier, greener and digestible options available for the same price.)  The curry was described on the menu as "Chicken & mixed vegetables in a mild garlic & coconut milk curry reduction.  Served on rice with baby greens & warm pita bread" I couldn't find coconut flavor in the dish anywhere.  I'm a fan of Thai & Indian, so I've tasted coconut before....there wasn't a trace to be found in this concoction.  Carrots....yeah, I'm not a fan of carrot in a curry, but quite frankly they were the only thing in this sauce that had any flavor.  I thought they'd forgotten the chicken but I finally found a piece, in total there were 3 in the whole dish.  I thought that was odd because it was the first ingredient listed.  I would have rather had naan than pita with this as well.  The only thing I couldn't criticize about this dish was the rice.  It was cooked properly.

I popped a piece of the Sprout's fish into my mouth, it tasted great!  I asked my Mister how his entree was, "flavorless".  Well...that about summed up our experience for the night.  The service was spot on and their pricing was reasonable but, they failed in every other respect where it counted.

I won't be eating there again.  Unless I catch word that they have revamped their menu or got a new chef.  If you go, be prepared to be disappointed.  As always...if you've had a better experience let me know and tell me what you ordered.  I'm always curious as to what I "missed".  Happy eating!!

17 September, 2011

Confucius Say "No Rice For You!"

So I have been gravely ill for the past week...not cooking, not knowing what day it is...  You know what I'm talkin' about right?  Well...I decided I wanted to actually eat today, but I didn't wanna hang out somewhere when I wasn't sure what exactly was wrong with me in the first place.  I grabbed the list and looked to see where was closest to home that was "to eat" AND take out.  Thankfully, there was one just 10 minutes from home, Dragon Fortune Delight.

When I called in my order they asked the all important question "For pick up or delivery?"  I could barely understand the rest of the questions that he was asking me...in my head that normally leads to a very strange line of thinking but mostly culminates with the supposition that my food is going to be REALLY good, authentic Chinese.  Their menu isn't very large but it has a fair variety for the amout they offer.  We placed our order for a couple egg rolls and spring rolls, General's Chicken, pork fried rice, fried wonton and Curried Beef.  I then asked how long before we should pick it up, he said, "20 minutes."  With rush hour 5 o'clock traffic, the 10 minute drive was going to take about that long so we packed up the Sprout and headed on our way.

For not being an eat-in establishment they are a pretty hopping place.  I'm not sure if this is due to it having been a Friday evening or not, I imagine not.  They are most likely this busy every night.  I went inside, grabbed my GIANT brown sac, paid for my food while the cashier and I joked that we never knew how they always fit THAT much food into a small brown bag and I was out the door.  It smelled FABULOUS.  It is hard to smell that for 20 minutes and not eat any of it in the car...UNTIL you remember that if YOU start eating it, the 20 month old in the back seat will want to as well.  Then it would be mayhem of epic proportions in the truck.  Traffic was already lighter on the way back.

We brought the haul into the kitchen and started unpacking it all.  The first thing we noticed that I've never had happen before...no fortune cookies.  Not that this is a problem for ME persay, I can't even eat them.  But, I DO open the cookie and read the fortune...when I get one.  My world isn't going to end, but I always thought it was "part of the deal" when you order Chinese.  Especially of the "take-out" variety.  There was also no white rice.  Whenever I've ordered take-out and had an entree that was meant to be ON rice...it came WITH rice automatically.  Oh well??

Spring Rolls & Egg Rolls

There is no good picture you can take of these open ended egg rolls.  I know I have said that before, but I look at those and sometimes lose my appetite.  I have to remember how GREAT they taste and get past how they look.  These were vegetarian spring rolls and what TASTED like pork egg rolls.  They didn't actually identify the meat, but did specify that the spring rolls were vegetarian.  They both tasted great.  They weren't overly oiled up, though it was obvious they'd been fried.  Very well done.  They weren't as large as other egg rolls I have had in town, but the spring rolls WERE.  Those spring rolls were GINORMOUS!  The biggest I have had since I have been in town.  The veggies were nice and fresh inside as well.

I didn't take a picture of the fried wonton...I wasn't sure what that meant, so I ordered some.  They aren't worth mentioning more than that and I certainly didn't take a picture of them.  Blech!

Curried Beef

The curried beef was pretty good.  Now if ONLY it had come with some rice.  I won't lie, the veggies were pretty limp in this but the flavor was great for green curry.  I forgot how much I liked a green curry.  The pieces of beef were larger than what I was used to as well.  Nothin' wrong with that.  Quite frankly, on a night when you don't have to cook, most of the time you'll just be happy when your order was RIGHT.  It looks pretty shiny in that picture, but it wasn't overly greasy.  (That is just the track lighting in my kitchen.)  Would I order it again, sure.  But there were other things on their menu I'd like to try too, so I'll keep this one under my hat.

Pork Fried Rice

This pork fried rice went over pretty well in our house.  Large beautiful chunks of marinated pork, soft savory rice and green onion.  Simple and it tasted fabulous.  In point, it was some of the BEST pork fried rice I've ever had.  Our Sprout ate quite a bit of this and nearly a whole egg roll on his own.  I couldn't believe it.  But, the kid knows his food, what else can I say?  The only criticism I have for this is that there wasn't much OF it.  That's all.  The container was between a pint and a quart in size.  When we order Chinese, typically you choose between a pint or a quart of whatever you are ordering.  There was no choice here. 

All in all I can't criticize any of the food for taste on any front.  It all tasted wonderful.  Looks, well...for 40 bucks, what could I expect when my food was packed in tin, paper bags and styrofoam?  Aside from the fried rice, the portions were just right; not too much, not too little.  I'd most likely eat here again.  If you're in the mood for Chinese give Dragon Fortune Delight a call.  They have friendly service, good food and it is fast.  Hey, these guys even deliver!! 

Dragon Fortune Delight on Urbanspoon

10 September, 2011

It Really WAS Grand!!!

My sister is in town this week and even though I had a complete menu planned out of Jambalaya, Panang Curry, Gyros and Lamb Korma with all the trimmings, she decided she'd like to take us out for what I figured must have been a belated anniversary gift.  There of course was the polite refusal and assertion that I already shopped for the menu of her whole visit, but this doesn't work in my family...at ALL.  Not even for a second or two.  So...we had to pick a place...  But WHAT am I in the mood for?!  Always a problem.  I grabbed my obscenely long list out of my purse and we headed for downtown Ottawa.  After snapping some shots of Parliament Hill and the river we made our way to Byward Market.

I'm more indecisive than you could possibly imagine.  I started out wanting a nice crusty breaded sandwich of some kind...ciabatta bread or somethin' toasted.  We walked for what seemed like ages before we hit a place that was on my list and had a menu that our little group could deal with.  It wasn't too busy and they were able to seat us right away.  Yay!!  Dinner at The Grand Pizzeria & Bar was already off to a GREAT start for a Friday night!

This place was on my "to eat" for the Italian category...rather vague, I know but the title pretty much spelled it out.  As I looked through the menu a couple of things caught my eye in the antipasti category and a couple of items under pasta as well.  We ordered up a small pizza with nothin' but sauce and goat cheese for the Sprout right away...we've learned...  I was SO curious about the "Grand Sharing Platter" they had listed on the antipasti, but I knew that there was NO way we could eat it all and have room for our main entrees.  Finally my Mister, my sister and I agreed on a portion of the bruschetta.  I asked our waiter what things he's tried and loved off the pasta menu and he directed me towards the Pappardelle alla Salvatore and the Rigatoni Siciliana.  I knew I was in the mood for meat, so I didn't take more than two seconds to decide on the Salvatore.  With the orders in...time to take a look around.


I made it back to the table JUST in time for the bread basket.  Boy, was I glad for that.  I was SO hungry I was about to dig into my purse for somethin'.  We hadn't been waiting long, but I was overly hungry before we got there.  Perfect timing!!

It was super soft and the butter was very creamy and rich.  Everyone agreed as bread goes it was a winner.  Loverly crust on the outside and great texture in the meat of the roll.  Loved it...wish they would have brought more!  A couple minutes after the last slice of bread was devoured they brought our Sprout his pizza.  It LOOKED beautiful!  There is just somethin' about wood oven cooked pizza!  Once you have it like that, it seems like a fallacy to dream it can taste acceptable made any other way.  We had to cut it up for him, this is where my sister and I decided to sneak a taste.  We both agreed...the crust and sauce were dynamite!  There wasn't much on this one, so we couldn't critique further than that, but OH...I was wishing we had gotten a small SOMEthin'...ANYthing...to share for the whole table.  As soon as I finished cutting up the pizza, our antipasti was up.


I'll tell you right now...YES, it tasted as great as it looks!  The bread was soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, the tomatoes were fresh, the cheese was rich and the basil was very aromatic and delightful with the garlic.  I liked that they had their bruschetta on Italian loaf...some places get crazy and put it on breads that are TOO hard and go beyond just a simple "crusty" effect.  Simple, clean flavors will always win over pretentious complicated ones.  Bravissimo!

We each had a chance to love on our pieces of antipasti before our mains showed.  The Sprout was getting closer to losing it...when I saw our plates coming out from the kitchen I started to wonder if someone was in the kitchen reading my mind!
Pappardelle alla Salvatore

I'll bet you think this must have been fabulous...  It WAS!!  HA!  Out of this WORLD delicious!  It has been quite a long time since I've had pasta that was as satisfying as this was.  I have struck out SO many times in this town with pasta, I'd all but decided to just give up on finding any that was acceptable.  And I won't lie...their "al dente" was a bit firm for my liking, but....the flavor made it very easy to look past and get used to.  Quite frankly, after a while it gave the dish an even more hearty feel.  When my sister tried the noodles she assured me she'd had more firm noodles than that when she was in Italy and then had me try her dish...her pasta ended up being a TON more firm than mine was.  Oh, va bene!  The truffle oil and cream sauce was Heavenly.  The porcini mushroom and sausage combination was unbelievable and well paired with the sauce.  I found myself wishing I hadn't eaten antipasti before hand...I might have been able to finish my platter of pasta!  The sauce was thick and beautiful.  It was perfectly made; no separation between the oil and cream.  I could go on, but I believe you get the picture.  If it wouldn't have been unladylike for me to do it....I would have been dippin' and lickin' it up with my finger.  Yeah...it was that wonderful.

Overall, I would recommend The Grand as a place with a great casual atmosphere, good food and competitive prices.  The service at times left something to be desired, but as annoying as it is to have a water glass constantly empty, hating your food is TEN TIMES worse!  I read a lot about this place before I went and I was bracing myself for the worst.  It turned out to be some of the best food I've had in town yet.  I'd go back again without a second thought.  Next time, I'm ordering pizza!  Thanks for a great dinner!  

The Grand Pizzeria & Bar on Urbanspoon

03 September, 2011

Not A Total Loss

I realize, being a seasoned patron of restaurants, that a Friday night isn't necessarily the best time of the week to go out for dinner.  "Everyone" goes out on Friday...that usually tends to be a gross over generalization in my opinion in nearly every instance I've seen it applied to, but...last night it proved to be mostly true and it seemed that the sum total of the group referred to as "everyone" had collectively decided to congregate in the ONE place I decided to dine at, The Glen Scottish Restaurant.  

I never cease to amaze myself at how I rush into things totally excited, then my excitement is slowly snuffed out by circumstances I have little or no control over.  Other than just having not attempted to try to do anything or go anywhere in the first place for dinner, last night was one such occasion.  Picture it, Friday night...at the place in town that makes the "best" fish & chips in a city with at least 93,000 who would be purposefully seeking that fare on a Friday....you do the math and you'll understand why I won't jump to return for a repeat offense.

But I digress....

I keep getting this packet in the mail from ValPak...you know the one....it is FULL of coupons and ads trying to convince you that you DO need new siding on your house and that you should probably consider hair removal from various places on your body, yeah THAT one.  In the U.S. when I got those, they were largely for restaurants and home repairs, here in Ontario it has been rare that I have seen one for food.  SO...when I saw the cute little green ad for The Glen, I of course took notice.  If you happen to Google them you find out that they have been voted best fish & chips a gajillion times over.  I love fish...the Sprout loves fish.  I decided to give them it whirl.  I called ahead to see if 5pm would beat the dinner crowd rush.  They assured me it would....

 I'm sure it doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at this picture and guess how full the parking lots surrounding this place were...  Good...  Sure enough, when I walked inside I could see right away there was going to be a wait.  I got our name on the list quickly for 2 & a highchair and started pouring over the menu.  When I talked to staff on the phone I was told that the fish & chips were "where its at" when you eat here, even more specific that the breaded fish was the winner.  But, I made it a point to ask "If the queen were coming to dinner, what would you give her?"  The answer came in a quick and clear Scottish brogue, "Haggis."  I decided I'd most likely go for the gold and get the fish & chips along with the haggis pastry.  It was time to explore...as best as you can when people are packed in like sardines.  (As always, to protect the privacy of other patrons I limited my shots to not include others that were dining.  But they were so busy, I couldn't shoot much.)

"A hundred thousand Welcomes"


I wasted NO time, as soon as we were seated an order of fish & chips off the kids' menu went in for the Sprout along with the haggis pastry for a starter.  I'm no fool, I looked around me and saw our fate.  It was crowded, tables with large groups were waiting ahead of us for their meals and we just put ours in.  It was 5:30 before we got a table.  They had all sorts of seating; booths, big round tables, small two seaters...but they were all filled.  As soon as a table full of patrons would vacate their table someone was wiping it clean and not two seconds later a new group was seated there, wet table and all.

                                              Couples Table                              Booth Seating

The Sprouts food came out with all due haste and rapidity.  We were grateful because he was already done killing his coloring sheet with his purple and yellow crayons.  I could tell we didn't have much more time before the meltdown began.  Luckily, our haggis pastry came out 10 minutes after that.

Haggis Pastry

Now, when I told a couple people that I was most likely going to be consuming haggis at dinner last night a fair amount verbally cringed.  Having eaten liver & onions when we were growing up the prospect of consuming sheep heart, liver & lungs that had been mixed with a bit of onion, oatmeal, suet, random spices, salt and some variety of meat stock didn't phase me a bit.  It looked harmless enough.  I popped one of the perfectly bite sized cups into my gob and WHAM, the spices hit me like a ton of bricks!  And I loved it!!  My Mister happens to have resided in bonny Scotland for 2 years, even he thought it was pretty good haggis...as haggis goes.  Not too soon after the Sprout saw us grabbing the little cups off the platter, he reached in their general direction with the typical "Mmmmmm  mmm!?" translated as "I want some of that!  Can I have some Momma?"  We forked some of the filling out and fed it to him.  I thought it would be too much spice, even for his little adventurous spirit, but I was quickly proved wrong when he pointed at it and blurted out another "Mmmm mmm!?", to which we promptly deposited more haggis filling into his mouth.  They were great.  But I wanted to save room for my main course, so I set the 2 remaining cups aside.  Then proceeded to twiddle my thumbs for nearly 45 minutes....

You read that right.  45 minutes.  I realize that this was largely due to the fact that my husband ordered a meat pie.  The menu clearly states that they would like people to be patient because the pies "need a little more time in the oven".  Fair enough, I bake...pies DO take an enormous amount of time to bake sometimes.  But...45 minutes during the dinner hour?  I was expecting a pie the size of Manhattan.  Around us the people that were seated 5 minutes AFTER we had been seated were being served their fish & chips.  The table across the way from them...a table of 10...had been seated before we were and appeared from the array of drinks to have been there quite a while before we had shown up...they were still waiting for their food.  It seemed like all out chaos in that place.  As I stated in the beginning, I realize it was a Friday night and they were packed.  I even get that fish & chips is their most popular dish.  But, the fact still remains, when you build a place you decide your own capacity and most oft times the kitchen and amount of staff to make the place run is built and modeled around that plan of attendance, just like a wedding.  Head count...then you shop for the food.  Having a packed joint is not an acceptable excuse for food orders being served out of order, taking obscene amounts of time for the food to be served and forgetting items that were ordered.  Also, the reason there was next to no seating inside was partially due to the intermittent rain that seemed to grace Stittsville with it's presence.  But again, you really should plan for that.  If you have a full patio and a full house and the rain comes, that was poor planning.  Nuff said.....

My main course finally showed at 6:20pm...yeah, when you have a kid that is slowly coming "undone" you're looking at the watch frequently.  I asked my Mister a number of times if we should just ask for the check for what we'd consumed up to that point and leave.  The 3rd time we talked about doing it, I saw out of the corner of my eye someone rush out of the kitchen with a plate of what looked like fish & chips and something I couldn't really identify.  I heard him announce "Fish & Chips and Curry Chicken Pie?"  I raised my hand and repeated what he said and followed it with "That's us here, thank you."  He laid the plates in front of us and began the apology train... 

McConville Special - Fish & Chips

The McConville Special is 1 filet of battered and 1 filet of breaded fish.  I typically like battered fish better than breaded, so I went for the battered first, though I had been previously clued into the fact that the breaded was better.  I got two bites into my battered fillet and looked longingly at my husband's plate.  Chicken curry pie, fresh green peas, neeps, chips and a wonderful curry gravy.  You bet your buttons I tried every single thing on his plate.  It was FABULOUS!  But my fish...  *sob*  My fish SUCKED!  The breaded was slightly less sucky than the battered, so they were right on that fact.  But, I was so disappointed.  I felt defeated.  After waiting for so long, I expected to absolutely love these.  It is one thing to wait an eternity for something worth waiting for, but this fish was bland, overcooked and there wasn't much meat to the fillets.  They LOOKED a lot larger than they were.  Much to my dismay.  Normally I don't speak of my Mister's dishes and I don't photograph them, but I wish now that I had.  That was somethin' I'd eat again.  Which brings me to my final words on The Glen...

Best fish & chips in Ottawa??  I hope not, I'm here for 3 years and I'd like to think I'm going to have better fish & chips than THAT while I'm here.  If I were cooking it myself, there would be no question of me enjoying it.  Growing up in Minnesota we fish, we clean 'em...we cook 'em and it is wonderful and FLAVORFUL all at the same time.  This fish was anything BUT all those things.  However...the haggis was fabulous.  The chicken curry pie and all its trimmings were AMAZING.  The conclusion I have come to is this...  The Glen has plenty of history and plenty of heart.  I'm sure the staff were doing the best they could last night, no question and kind at every turn.  But, speed is always an issue for families with small children and as great as the haggis and chicken curry entree were it didn't make up for the torture it was to wait for it all.  Ultimately, were we ever to eat at The Glen again we'd call ahead, place and order for pick up and enjoy it at HOME where I am absolutely sure to have a table and will have done all my waiting in the comfort of my home or while running a few paltry errands.  

If you have had a better experience than this, let me know.  Perhaps there is a "magic" night to go to The Glen.  But, if there were, I'm sure it would have gotten out by now and no longer be the "magical" night it used to be.  Be sure you have time to burn, order something that sounds SO wonderful that you'd be willing to wait an hour or longer for it and you'll have a happy experience.  Good luck!

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