Sunday, December 2, 2012

Spin Kitchen and Bar @ The Marriot

Firstly, there are no pictures of the food today - we all had the buffet so pics wouldn't really represent any levels of presentation, you can't praise or fault a place for me dolloping stuff on my own plate!

I've wanted to go to Spin Kitchen for a while now, mainly since Don Chow of Foodieprints reviewed the place it seemed like a no brainer to try it for brunch one Sunday.

Now, for some reason I had this weird (now it seems weird) impression that it was on the top floor and used to (or still did) revolve, I was sure I read a random review on UrbanSpoon that you, "go for the views and stay for the food", or was it vice-versa?

It does NOT spin, it is NOT on the top floor - it IS a corner of the Marriot's main lobby floor at ground level at the corner of Kent and Queen St. - also the web site seems to suggest a fine dining brunch buffet of $30+ it is NOT. It's $18 each and includes unlimited coffee and unlimited fresh OJ.

We could have ordered off the a'la carte but we all chose the buffet and at first glance it was the same breakfast that you would be offered if you'd stayed the night so first impressions were not good.

We were served quickly with coffee and said juice by a very friendly waiter who replenished everything quickly - taking away dirty plates allowing them to be replaced with the next fresh plate (did I say it was all you can eat?) - I never feel guilty about these places when I accompany my wife - she eats 25% of what she could do - and I eat about 250% of what the normal punter would shovel away so I'm guilt free!

I had some rice crispies! I don't usually eat cereal. they were good and offered the usual "snap, crackle and pop". So far, so good.

The chaffing dishes offered the usual variety of hash browns, bacon, sausage, scrambled egg (eggs cooked to order were offered at no additional charge), baked beans (a little undercooked) and french toast or crepes. they also had a nice selection of breads and bagels along with one of those conveyor toasters. So far nothing out of the ordinary or notable until you get to the last chaffing dish - full of perfectly formed eggs Benedict.

Not just perfectly formed but also with softly poached eggs that oozed when cut into -how do they manage to have a tray of warm eggs Benedict that were actually better than a lot of the freshly cooked versions I've endured? How? So full marks for just this fact alone elevated the Spin Kitchen's buffet to above the average and after 5 courses of food - several cups of good coffee and 4 glasses of OJ I was full to bursting; for my $18 I think that was a bargain (I had 4 eggs Benedict in all which would have been $20+ in any brunch establishment!

If they had validated my $9 parking it would have been almost a perfect buffet brunch! I thought I was being clever by parking under the hotel as it was raining - should have gotten wet and parked on the street for free!!

I dropped off my passengers before parking and told them to go to the top of the hotel! They couldn't see any view in any case due to the weather so we didn't miss the view at Spin Kitchen!


Until the next time, thank you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Media event advice......

Look, this blog is tiny - it probably has a hand-full of readers, mostly friends and a a few locals who are interested in food of the brunch/egg variety!

I really don't expect to be invited to every new restaurant opening or special event - it's not like I weald some local power over Ottawa to somehow get them to go to places to eat.

So, when I do get invited to an opening AND I'm not working AND I have nothing better to do I'll pop along and snap a pic or two and probably FB, Instagram or maybe even blog about it.

The other evening I got an email from the events/PR firm Knock-On-Wood to attend a media tour of the new Real Sports Bar on George Street  11am -1pm, I was free then (planned on seeing Skyfall at 1pm) and had an hour to have a look-see at what a modern sports bar looked like - I'm not really into sports so I doubt I'd be a regular customer here unless they showed the Rugby Six Nations and World Cup on their giant screen!

Anyway my son and I pop along and we find the place and it looks like they are still working on the place - the doors are propped open with boxes, the entrance way is cluttered with building 'stuff' and as we enter I asked if we had the right place/right time. "Oh, yes!" said a girl/waitress/pr girl - who knows - that was about it on the greeting side of the equation!!

Inside was no better, the builders were in the process of finishing off the front seating area but still had power tools and hardware all over the place, the floors were covered with plaster dust and work boot footprints, there was still a elevation platform in the bar and we just sort of stood with the few others there not really knowing what to do - or what to make of the situation.

We sat down after about 5 minutes and waited. We waited. No food was offered, no drink was offered, no greeting was offered. I was hungry and thirsty especially with the promise of food to photograph and sample!

After 15 minutes we left - they were just giving out bottles of water! Bottles of water! 

I've been to a lot of events and launch parties - I've even hosted a few myself - I know things go wrong but the skill from a PR/events/communications company perspective is how you deal with the 'bumps' - no one dealt with these bumps from what we experienced and it left a bit of a sour taste.

We made the effort to come down, paid for parking and then was just left feeling as if we came on the wrong day!

Events people - I don't expect invites but when I get them and I attend - I want to be greeted, offered a drink and maybe some literature and if there is a 'situation' you need to admit it - and then tell me what is going on and what the alternative plan is - if it was my event - I would be saying to people, "hey, the builders are a bit late finishing, you are welcome to wait for 15-20 minutes until we can start or here is a voucher to come back for a complimentary 'whatever' once we open."

Reputation is everything in this small town, isn't it?

A round-up of recent brunchiness.....

OK, so a bit of a round up of recent places we've been as I've been very tardy on the blogging front and I'm sure I've lost readers, but as Joy says on The View, "so what, who cares?"

We have returned to the Back Lane Cafe a couple times, mainly to check out what their new star chef has done to the menu (Michael Hay is their new Head Chef). He doesn't disappoint! The first time we sampled his brunch menu they had a starter of toast and pate and a quails egg that was just sublime! We'd go back more if there were not other places to try out and old faves to return to - balance, balance!

So we found a new place to brunch that we like a lot, it's called Izakaya and it's in the old Daddy's Crab Shack on Elgin Street. Parking can sometimes be a challenge but it's worth it! This place is a Asian fusion place but we all love the brunch menu and the spicy options for a Sunday lunchtime treat!

Curried shrimp benny from Izakaya

Ginger creme brulee also Izakaya

We've Dim Summed quite a bit and although we have been to Chu Shing and experienced the 'hive' we have also actually lined up (yes we waited for this place, it's that good) for a small dim sum place called Hung Sum. It's not pretty but the food is a couple notches above the bigger places I think/We think.

With a few regular returns to the Fontenelle on Montreal Road.......Oh and the Hintonburg PH has jumped up a few notches in our estimations too - the food here used to be so-so and the service was ho-hum - I think we went back on Father's Day and we've been back a couple times since and both the food and the service are very good. They also have some great art on the walls from the likes of local artists; Martelock, Adornato and Andrea Stokes to name but three, so you have something cool to look at and discuss whilst eating delicious food!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brunch at The Daily Grind....

What happens when 12 people descend on a cafe for brunch on a Sunday when they are used to maybe tables of 2 or 4 at the most, and also staggered - well, actually they do ok!

We've intended to try the Daily Grind for a while now and this week was the week. The menu is small and limited but has a range of dishes that seemed to cater for everyone's taste.

Cafe au Lait

A couple of tables were put together and even an extra leaf in the dining room table we sat at. We ordered our food, ordered our coffee. The coffee here is great - not cheap and not included in the dishes price, but it's really good!

The food arrived more or less at the same time except for 2 dishes, but - to be honest, they did ok. The food wasn't the best looking food - but woah, the taste of it was just amazing!

I had the 'special' which was a breakfast sconewhich. It came with some potato chips and a slice of orange so I have to admit my expectations were low - then I took a bite and it just blew me away.

The Daily Grind is a place that has mix and match cutlery, plates and cups and the tables and chairs are also all un-matched and it makes the place homely and makes you feel very relaxed.

I like this place and we'll definitely be going back soon.

Have a good week, everyone.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Berryman's Pub

Ok, so it's been a while since we all went out to brunch and what a brunch to come back to - full of drama , good food, bad food, good service and tasty pulled pork bennys - OR not?

Berrymans is on Bank just south of Gladstone and it's a small sports bar that offers a limited brunch menu - one which we sampled today.

Coffee was good - big mugs and tasty.

Breakfast menu was a small one - and most items included their pulled pork, even the benny had pulled pork!

When the food came the main problem was that the 'hash' was grey in colour (a sure sign that the potato wasn't freshly grated and probably made well in advance) and mine was even raw in the middle which suggested that the potato was pre-grated and kept in small batches in a fridge!! Who does that? Berrymans!

Complaint was taken and the waitress offered replacement fries or sweet potato fries which came and were GREAT!

The hash is quite visible in the pics - it looks like a pile of undercooked onion - anyway I have to say that, for me, this was the only low point of the brunch as the pulled pork benny was superb - even the hollandaise was tasty (and it had split too!).

Some thought the pulled pork was either too spicy, too dry or just not good - I disagree as it was spicy it was a bit dry but that is what made is tasty!

One mistake (the bloody awful hash) isn't enough to not recommend this place. It's actually ok - but that hash made me shudder a bit!

The plates were not pretty. A garnish of a slice of tomato just doesn't pretty up a plate.

Service was excellent and when we lodged our complaint she was quick to resolve the issue.

My main concern is: who at Berrymans let that plate past the pass with that grey mound of crap that they called hash?

Anyway - try this place - the pulled pork IS spicy but worth a punt. Just watch out for the grey potato hash.

Until next week or the next....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Springtime brunch at the Empire Grill....

Great weather this weekend March 18th and it's 24c by the car's thermometre. Brunch was at the Empire Grill, one of the only places in the Bytown Market not to have their patio open - all the others decided to pay the fine the City imposes on them for having their patio open before April 1st. We still had the nice big table just by the patio doors - which we had open, most of the time.

The Empire Grill is usually good food and the only thing that can spoil a brunch here is the occasional bout of bad and inattentive service - not today though - our server was great and attended to us very well indeed.

The only meal that we decided was crappy was the special crab omelette - it was special as it hardly had any crab in it! Most everyone else had a great plate of food.

I had the "Atlantic" which has changed a bit since last year - the salmon is salmon not smoked salmon and it has asparagus - I could have sworn it was spinach last year and the hollandaise is a basil hollandaise. Yummy! The home fries at the Empire Grill are good too - so often they undercook these or they come from a bag. These are fresh from a potato and are well fried.

We had 11 at the table today - I think that's a record!

Most enjoyable - good company - nice exotic car spotting through the patio doors - lots of Italian stallions cruising around trying to look nonchalant!

Can't wait for the patio at EG - it's one of the best in the market on a hot sunny Sunday morning.

Here are the pics - off out to the deck so can't be arsed to intersperse them this week!

Have a good week.

The disappointing crab omelette...

My gorgeous salmon and asparagus benny 

Sausage and egg.

Steak and eggs.



The Hash.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mill St. Brewpub, Ottawa - diamond in the rough!

The Mill used to be a roast beef restaurant on the river by the Portage Bridge - it didn't get very good reviews anywhere you looked and so people didn't go - or very few because it got bought by the Mill St. Brewery, a micro-brewery and restaurant outfit who have a place in Toronto. Appropriately now called The Mill St. Brewpub, Ottawa.

A total refit, installation of some mash bins and brew kettles and a modern menu and you have a great overhaul of a tired old place which now becomes a vibrant place to have brunch, lunch or dinner.

We've meant to try this place out since it opened a few weeks ago but only 3 of us were in attendance this morning due to a variety of absenteeism reasons.

It's not often you can tempt me with a beer for breakfast but I was unable to pass up a taste of the Porter Ale - actually it wasn't very 'Ale-like' but more pilsner to my taste - but well done and makes me want to go back when I'm being driven and have a few samples of the 12 or so beers they have available.

The menu is small (good) for brunch - just seven items. Included are two 'bennys' - one traditional and one with spinach and portobello mushroom that was called the Julliene. One order of huevos-rancheros and 2 of the benny with a twist and our order was complete.
 The place was surprisingly busy for a place tucked away almost under the Portage bridge - but when the food came it was also plain why it was busy - the food was very good.

the home-fries tasted a bit as if they came from a 'bag' but they were ok - the benny, though - probably one of the best bennys I have ever had. The spinach and mushroom combo with a soft yolk, hollandaise and a bit of muffin was just sublime.

I tried the huevos-rancheros and that was good too although I'm not a huge fan of the dish at any time.

I am looking forward to our next visit, maybe with more of our club, maybe with a nice table by the window to watch the river go by.

The prices were actually not high. If you take out the two alcohol drinks, which we wouldn't normally partake in, it was a very reasonable couple of $10 plates of food.

Try the place - you'll more than likely love it. You can also buy a 6 pack or so from their beer store on the way out - they can sell it as they make it on the premises.

Until next Sunday, have a great week.