16 October, 2013


So, now that I am aware of that television show "You Gotta Eat Here" I watch every once in a while to see where this guy (who admits he's not a chef, but he knows good food when he eats it) has been eating.  I always wonder if any of the places are in my city...or somewhere close enough by that it isn't a stretch to check them out.  One episode I was watching featured a place here in town called Pressed.

Pressed makes one of my favorite things on the planet...Panini.  Yeah, I am quite the sucker for a toasted sandwich.  If given a choice, I will go somewhere that has a panini...ANY panini...on their menu rather than somewhere else.  I looked at their menu online because one of the last times I went to a place that I saw on that show it was PACKED and the wait staff are in a mad rush to serve and turn the tables...so I didn't want to be a bother.

Walking in there is a bit to take in...  A specials board, an events board and then there is the main menu board up on the wall.  It spanned the whole width of the restaurant.  Quite a menu...

Lunch Special Board

Dinner Special Board

Pressed Line-Up

From the outside looking in they seemed small, I wasn't sure how lunch for two adults and a car seat was going to work out.  Thankfully, only being a skotch past noon, there were plenty of tables available.  I didn't know the "system" of the place but you figure it out quickly.  You walk up, order your food, pay, take a number, and then find a place to sit.  In theory, someone is going to bring your food to the table.  My Mister and I were both eyein' up the same sandwiches.  Either the Beef Brisket or the Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper, so we split the difference.  He got the Beef and I got the chicken and agreed to give each other a half of of our own.  

I was also keenly interested in the two soups that were on the menu.  Carrot Ginger or Maple Bacon Apple....  I was leaning carrot the Mister was leaning towards the maple bacon apple.  I know, I know...me not want bacon??  It just didn't sound good to me.  I don't "do" maple as a rule.  It always seems to be overdone here in Ottawa.  I of course acquiesced to the Mister and we tried the Maple Bacon Apple soup.  I quickly scanned through the dessert case and....not a single thing that I don't already make at home and (from the looks of the stuff inside) make BETTER.  Blech...  Brownies, Vegan Peanut Butter Rice Crispie Bars, Apple Turnovers, etc.  I am not sure if this stuff is brought in or made in house, but if it is made in house they need to revamp their dessert selection to better reflect the rest of the menu.  At a place called pressed I would expect to see somethin' like a S'Mores Cookie Sandwich, whoopie pies, etc.  Things that are "pressed" together.  Hint, hint...  Moving on.

I didn't take photos of the inside because it was busy enough that it would have been annoying for the other patrons.  The best way I can describe it is to say nautical meets coffee shop meets....garage sale at a church.  There is no other way to say it.  There are benches along the walls that, no joke, have GOT to be old church pews.  The very wobbly tables and chairs (I was afraid to put our car seat on the chairs) looked like rejects from a 1970's grammar school.  For a place that was featured on television you'd think they'd have upped their game on the decor.  Imagine the coffee house from friends...remove the comfy couches and chairs and inject a bit of hipster pierced chic and BAM!....you've got pressed.  We weren't impressed.

I found myself wishing BEFORE our food made it to the table that we had come on a Saturday morning instead so we could try the waffle menu.  There are 5 different combos of that brunch menu I would have loved to try MORE than what we ended up having.

Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese

To call this sandwich "pressed" is quite laughable.  It was falling apart.  I am not opposed to messy food, so this wasn't a tragedy.  But, c'mon...your name is "Pressed".  The only excuse I could find that was feasible was that the chunks of chicken were largish and they were actual CHUNKS, not strings like you might end up seeing if someone bought canned chicken from Costco.  That was a nice surprise.  The ciabatta was perfectly toasted and the combination of roasted red pepper and goat cheese with the chicken was a winner.

My TINY pile of sweet potato chips were much further down line of the "done" scale than I would have liked.  I was pleasantly surprised with the little kick of heat at the end of the added salt and the sweet from the potatoes themselves.  It was a great concept but executed with an amateur mistake...burning the chips.  Oopsy daisy.  Worst part was, one of the very last chips I picked up and tossed into my mouth was completely soggy.  Dunno how the hell that happened.  The spicy pickled bean wasn't even worth talking about.  I took one bite, spit it out and gave the rest to my Mister.  He ate his whole bean...

I'm sure you're wondering why I haven't talked about the soup course of our lunch yet...  Keep wondering...just like we kept waiting and waiting...and waiting for it to show up.  When you walk in, right THERE, large as life on the menu they ask you to "Please allow 15 minutes for your sandwich to be pressed" (not those exact words but that IS the amount of time).  I have at least ONE big problem with that concept.  The big one being...the sandwiches are already MADE, sitting in a glass case RIGHT in front of you when you walk in.  The only thing they have left to do IS to press the sucker.  I've never put a panini on at home and let it go 15 minutes.  I would be burnt beyond anyone's desire to eat it.  Again...moving on...

Beef Brisket with Caramelized Onion & Chipotle Aioli

Now...THAT is a pressed sandwich!  Like I said, this was my Mister's order but he split it with me.  Normally I don't flog what he eats but I ate half of what you see there, so I am going to critique this sandwich as well.  This sandwich was fabulous!  The meat was so tender, it just melted in my mouth.  The aioli was spot on with the level of heat and it was SO creamy.  The caramelized onion added an element of sweetness that really brought out the earthy flavor of the beef.  But my husband and I both looked at each other and thought out loud "Where is the au jus?".  We both felt like the sandwich could have used something to dip it into.  There wasn't enough aioli on there to keep it from feeling on the dry side.  Oh well...

Somewhere along the line when I started to actually feel annoyed that the soup wasn't to our table yet, so the Mister went to find it.  And there it was...sitting in the pick up window.  Juuuuuussssst SITTING there.  As he was asking for it our waitress swooped by and flew to our table with it.  Too late, I was already pissed off.

Maple Bacon Apple Soup
I suppose I don't need to tell you there was WAAAAY too dang much cinnamon on our soup, do I?  I am not even sure what made them think that they NEEDED cinnamon with this soup.  Maple.  Bacon.  Apple.  That's three different flavors all competing in one dish.  Those three flavors also all happen to usually be dominant whenever they are in whatever dish they are in.  So adding cinnamon was a rookie move and totally unnecessary.  I took one bite, nearly gagged, and then passed the spoon to the Mister.  He tried some and wasn't impressed either.  He said the pieces of bacon hiding out in the bottom of the bowl were "slimy".  I don't know how accurate that is because I didn't happen to come across any bacon when I took my lone spoonful of it.  We both agree that it was overly sweet.  My Mister is so different than I am about food...if he pays for it, he is going to finish it whether he likes it or not.  If I don't like something, you can't pay me enough to finish it.  I don't know if a different spice being tossed all over the top of it would have saved it for me or not.  I racked my brain trying to think of something but the level of sweet just couldn't be overcome in my mind.

On my urbanspoon account I "liked" Pressed...not because I liked ALL of my food but because I liked MOST of my food.  The food I did like, I LOVED.  Which seems to be a common problem for me in this town.  Would I ever eat IN there again?  No.  I will not go back INTO Pressed, order food, and sit in there and eat.  Would I ever eat food from there again?  Sure.  I would call in my order and pick it up.  At least if I am taking it out, in theory, my order will be all together and ready to go at the same time when I come to pick it up rather than having parts of my meal streaming in whenever the heck someone feels like it.  

If you have the time to blow and are willing to chance being late getting back to work from your lunch, stop into Pressed, their food is pretty good.  If you don't have the time to blow and don't want to be late getting back to work...check out the menu online, call in your order, and pick it up and eat in the park or back in the lunch room at work.  

The more annoying part of eating at Pressed and flogging it for me has been that I know I am not the only customer that feels exactly like this.  Problem is, someone down there at Pressed is going to continue doing things just like they always have and may childishly categorize my critique of them as "uninformed" or may think me a "hater" because I think their service, philosophy on mode of delivery of their food, and very odd decor all need a serious makeover.  But, when a parent of small children goes into Pressed on the weekend specifically for waffle brunch and wants a child sized portion of the Nutty Monkey Waffles instead of the Little Guy choice which is pretty plain in comparison and they are told "Sure, you can get your kid a child sized portion of Nutty Monkey, but we're gonna charge you 12 loonies anyhow because that is how the boss wants it." you need a serious reality check.  Way to alienate half of your customer base on the weekend.  I wouldn't be SO annoyed if this place didn't have SO much more potential.  *sigh*

Pressed on Urbanspoon

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