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!

The Glen Scottish Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Even with the wait, you're making me want to go there!

    (Er, not that I live anywhere close! Or eat meat, heh. But I used to, and I would have loved this!)

  2. Well not everyone goes out on Friday. Or Saturday for that moment. Quite the opposite, we typically go out during the weekday becasue we are terribly impatient. In fact Sunday night we ORDERED take out from PF CHANGS which we never eat at.....when I went to pick it up they told me they mis calculated the time and that it would be another hour and half before the food would be ready!