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Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Turtle Jacks – Mapleview Mall, Burlington, Ontario
Eating with Matthew (chef)

            Our goal at midnight on a Thursday was to go to Earl’s in the mall for some food and wine like we usually do after work.  Turns out there was a dance party taking place and we didn’t have the energy to act young and hip, so we wandered next door to Turtle Jacks.  We wandered onto the patio where there is an outside bar but the guy closing up outside told us that we should go in and he told us that the kitchen was open until 1am.  We wandered inside to eat guilt free knowing that we had over an hour to order.
            We weren’t greeted at the door, but didn’t expect much from the staff so late in the day.  We both like to sit at the bar so we pulled up two seats and noticed three staff wandering around behind the bar.  We were passed approximately seven times by these three ‘servers’ before Matt actually stopped one of them and asked for menus.  She very stoically fetched us menus, whispered into the bartender’s ear and walked away.  The bartender then came over and asked us what we wanted to drink; we replied that we wanted to see a wine list and we could use a couple waters.  It was very clear that our insane request to see a wine list really put her out as she pouted and moped away. 
When she returned, Matt ordered a beer, we ordered our food and then, ten minutes later when she finished flirting desperately with two guys sitting down the bar from us, she took my wine order for a bottle of Ironstone, Cabernet Sauvignon, California.  If memory serves me, the bartender opened the bottle of wine, I approved it, she set it down on the bar, and Matt and I poured the wine for the remainder of our stay.  Again, I asked for water.

Our Order:
Avacado Chicken Taco (to share)
Steak Fajitas (Matt)
Small Caesar, add Salmon (Me)

            The tacos came out quite quickly (not surprising when the cooks are aching to clean up) and were exactly what we expected; they were tasty and served with hot sauce and filled the void in our stomachs.  I asked for water for the third time and finally she succumbed to the instinct one usually has as a server to actually serve people.  As per usual, Matt finished his taco before I made it to my second bite.  As I finished up and we awaited our second course I vented about work; more specifically, one heinous bitch who spent her night acting as though the world owed her something.  Our busy night working at a restaurant was pretty much the topic of conversation for the rest of the evening.  We had spent our evening smiling at assholes and all we really wanted was someone to smile at us; it turns out that we were asking for too much.
When the main course came out, everything was as expected.  Overcooked dry salmon on a decent Caesar salad for me; Matt got the same fajitas that you get at any chain restaurant.  I poured the remaining hot sauce over my salmon to give it some life and I ate what I could.  He devoured his meal diligently while we both watched the bartender almost fall out of her ‘uniform’ multiple times as she was throwing herself at the only other two patrons in the place.  No quality check.  No refill on the water. 
We literally shoved our plates towards her when we wanted to get the bill; she was truly oblivious (or expressing her anger towards us for coming in so late to eat).  I suppose the requirements for hiring there are more based on waist and breast size than actual experience.
            It was around 1:30 am when we left.  To be positive, we were fed and had a buzz; our main goal when we walked into the restaurant.

Final Bill: $103
Tip: 3.5 % (do you know how bad you have to be to get tipped like that)
Overall Grade:  32%
Likeliness of Return: 1%

Friday, July 15, 2011


SB Prime – Burlington, Ontario
Eating with Scott (chef)

This was an unplanned lunch out so we didn’t have a reservation and we arrived around 1pm.  We were promptly greeted by a smiling face and given the choice of sitting on the side patio, the terrace on the second floor, or inside.  We agreed that a terrace sounded inviting.  We were guided through the dimly lit restaurant, past the modern, clean bar and up the stairs to our destination outside.  The terrace overlooks Brant St. and had a mighty cold draft passing through it, but we stuck with our decision.  Scott gave me his socks so that I wouldn’t be as cold and we could avoid annoying the hostess by asking to move (we are good like that).
We sat for a few minutes without menus, admiring the extensive cob webs that attached to each light fixture, but the hostess (who turned out to be our server) returned with menus in hand and we asked for a wine list as well.  It turns out that there was only a$15 prix fixe menu available at lunch, which included cookies as dessert.  Menu looks promising and we order two appetizers and two entrees to share.  The wine list was quite extensive, they had a wide variety of wines by the glass which is always nice, if they can keep them all fresh.  They were out of my first choice of wine but I was happy to settle for a 9 ounce pour of Chianti Ca’del Doge, Italy.  Scott ordered a coffee to warm up and wake up.

Our order:
Beef Tartare
Grilled Calamari
Salmon over Lentils with Cream Sauce
Flat Iron Steak (rare) with Green Beans and Potato Gratin

            As we waited for our food to arrive, Scott bounced some ideas off of me about how to grow his business.  We also talked about his trip to Bonnaroo as well as him moving in with a girl; I was very excited to hear how happy he is.  We didn’t talk much about anything but the food after it arrived. 
            The grilled calamari came with a large piece of fresh watermelon and a small bunch of mixed greens on the side.  Scott played with the few leafs that lay on his plate and he said “with such a tiny salad, you think they could have picked out the rotten pieces of lettuce.”  The calamari was overcooked but, honestly, no matter where you go it is rarely cooked properly.  The beef tartare had a lot of fat in it considering it should be made with tenderloin and it was served with bread (I had informed them that I cannot eat wheat), so eating raw ground beef without a vessel was somewhat disturbing, so Scott ate most of it.  When we finished our first course we both ordered a glass of wine, which came right away.
            When our salmon and steak arrived, Scott became quite critical but I tried to hold out some hope, though there wasn’t much point.  The salmon was perfectly cooked with beautiful crispy skin, though the lentils were undercooked (not that I noticed but Mr. Chef Pants sure did).  What I did notice was the complete lack of salt or seasoning used on the dish.  I remember turning to Scott to make a comment about my dish as he was fishing a large piece of gristle out of his mouth which he placed delicately in the fake potted plant beside our table.  The steak that he had ordered rare had come well done and the green beans and potatoes on his place were quite undercooked.  I should note that the steak came sliced so the cook knew very well that the steak was overdone when he or she plated it.  He commented that “if they had evened out the cooking times on these three items then the entrĂ©e could have been perfect”.  Also, his potato gratin had no gratin; we call those scalloped potatoes in the world of giving people what they ordered.  The server didn’t return until we were finishing up and when Scott mentioned the well done beef, she looked at it and agreed that it was well over cooked and then asked if he wanted another steak.  He declined, as he had already choked down the first one and didn’t feel like waiting half an hour for another one to come.
            We sat with our table half cleared of plates when the server came back with our ‘dessert’ cookies packed in a bag to go with our bill; we recognized that as a ‘get the hell out of here’ move.  On our bill she charged us for Scott’s coffee, which was included in the prix fixe price.  I returned his socks to him while we waited for the server to collect payment but it didn’t seem as though she was in a hurry to get a tip so we took our bill downstairs to find her.  While Scott settled up, I tucked away to the washroom.  I won’t go into detail about my washroom experience except to say that the facilities were very clean and when I unlocked the stall door, the lock fell off in my hand.  I handed the server the lock when I met Scott at the bar where he was paying; she asked if I had broken it off, my reply was “not quite” (I thought my heavily sarcastic instinctual response would have been rude). 
As we were walking out the door there was no attempt on her part to say goodbye so I prompted our farewell with a big sarcastic smile and an over the top wave goodbye.  Bitchy yes, but I hoped to get a point across.

Final Bill: $72 (no adjustments made for poorly cooked steak)
Tip: 8% (which was generous)
Overall Grade:  53%
Likeliness of Return: 5%