Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Original Joes - November 13th

Original Joe's - November 13th

In case you've been living under a rock, or just haven't been privy to all the new and exciting happenings in Fort McMurray, we have a new Restaurant & Bar in Fort McMurray.. Original Joe's! The newest dining location is located at  8406 Franklin Avenue in the Save-On parking lot.

If you haven't been to an Original Joe's before, I highly recommend you do. They feature a lot of different beer on tap, as well as a lot of great pub food.

Original Joe's had their official opening on November 11th, from what I read on that day, the service was great, the food was great and the beer was cold and delicious. One of the hardest things to do on an opening day is stay consistent with all of these things.

I decided to check out the newest place for food and drink today during lunch. Finding a spot to park in a parking lot that is home to a grocery store, liquor store, a soon to open coffee franchise and now a restaurant and bar can be a bit tricky and I would say this is going to cause more headaches than previously thought.

Walking in, the deep brown decor was warm and comforting. Nothing was over the top or flashy. Tasteful would be a great word to describe it. There was a lot of seating and plenty of TVs along the walls.

For a starter I went with the Greek garlic wings. Now just a heads up, I did not take pictures of my meal so I am "borrowing" these photos from the originaljoes.ca website.

This photo isn't of the Greek style wings but you get the idea.. Wings! The flavor was pretty great and the wings were cooked perfectly. They offer the usual suspects as well but next time, I will certainly be back to try Dill Pickle flavour.

For my main I got the Double Dog.
I do have a tendency of making a mess while eating food, so thankfully this hotdog was wrapped for my eating safety. When you order this, or any other burgers or sandwiches, you get two sides; I went with the honey slaw (cole slaw with a dash of honey) as well as the potato salad (which had real bacon in it). Everything about this meal was phenomenal.

I would like to point out that our service was fantastic, especially seeing how busy the place seemed, it looked like it was running perfectly smoothly. Kudos to the well trained staff. Everyone appeared to be seasoned pros and it was quite refreshing to say the least.

Original Joe's is a great place to go for a good meal and a hearty drink. They have about a bajillion (okay less than that.. but a lot!) of different beer on tap including their own line of beer. Check out some of the beer they have on tap here: http://www.originaljoes.ca/meetourgirls

Hopefully you all enjoyed the same experience I had. Let me know what you think!


Monday, 14 May 2012

The Fish Place - The Other Side of the Table

A new feature we are rolling out here on the YMM food critic is quite simply someone elses' take on the restaurant. I normally do not dine alone and I'm welcoming anyone who does dine with me to blog the same restaurant and add in their impression. For the First one we have Fiona (@fimango) with her impression on the Fish Place. Enjoy!

Like Eric (@ymmfoodcritic), I too have lived in Fort McMurray for over a decade and haven’t had the pleasure of stopping in at The Fish Place for a meal. Unlike Eric, I love seafood, so I was quite excited to give it a try! In a typical foodie manner, I googled the restaurant before heading there to check out the menu. To my surprise, they don’t have a website, and urban spoon’s website only had three reviews on the restaurant, none of which were detailed or helpful. Their rating, based on 51 people’s votes, was an overall 72% of people “liking it.”

So walking into the clearly East coast-inspired restaurant, I had no idea what to expect. The walls were a cheerful sunshine yellow color and the tables a blue and sandy yellow décor with wooden floors. We were greeted with a cheerful smile and a Newfoundland dialect that, living in Fort McMurray for so long, I’ve become familiar with and have come to love. After being seated in the lively restaurant and getting our drinks, we ordered the alligator appetizer and the Cajun shrimp and mahi-mahi for our entrees.

The Louisiana Gator, at $10.99, was sautéed in a creamed whisky sauce and came with about six pieces of meat, a lemon slice, two pieces of garlic toast and the parsley garnish. Gator meat is extremely low in fat compared to other meats which makes the texture a little tougher and harder to chew than the beef that we’re all too familiar with in Alberta. Because of this, I appreciated the fact that the gator was pre-cut into small, bite-sized pieces. I found the sauce was a bit too salty for my taste, and while quite delicious otherwise, it seemed to overpower the very subtle, natural taste of the gator.This wasn’t my first time trying alligator and for those who haven’t tried it, it doesn’t “taste like chicken” despite what you might have been told.  For a few bites, I ended up just scraping away the sauce so I could taste the actual essence of gator meat.

The shrimp Eric ordered was off the lunch menu and, at $15.99, was described as a New Orleans-style Cajun Shrimp and came with either rice or pasta; Eric opted for the short-grained rice . Cajun cuisine is indigenous to the Acadian region of the USA, namely Louisiana, and is typically seasoned with black or cayenne pepper, neither of which was prominent in this dish. , There was no heat or complexity to the dish at all, and I don’t think either Eric or I were too impressed with the plate. A couple notable redeeming qualities to mention though: The sauce appeared to be house-made (so it wasn’t just an opened jar of Ragu tomato pasta sauce, although it tasted suspiciously similar), and the number of shrimp in the dish was impressive. There was a lot! Portion size was definitely impressive for both main dishes.

The Cajun mahi mahi topped with pineapple salsa that I ordered was off the specials menu for $20.99. The presentation included slices of carrot and parsnip, a baked potato, slice of orange, sprig of parsley and the fish. The main part of the dish was awesome; I don’t have a single negative thing to say about the mahi mahi--the heat from the Cajun spices gently lingered in my mouth, wasn’t overpowering, and I was able to appreciate the complexity of the spices and still taste the fish. The meat itself was perfectly cooked – nicely browned on the outside, and the flesh inside was flaky and extremely moist. Moving away from the fish, I was pleasantly surprised to see the parsnip on my plate! I feel it’s an extremely unappreciated, underused vegetable that tastes great! The pineapple salsa was made of pineapples, red peppers, red onion and tiny bits of green pepper or jalapeño (cut too small for me to differentiate). It had the perfect amount of sour zing with a dash of salt and a bit of sweetness.

While we were there, Eric tweeted that we were at the fish place, and a fellow tweeter suggested we try the cheesecake. We had two choices: either Key lime or French vanilla. We went with the French vanilla, and the no-bake cheesecake came with whipped cream and strawberries on top. The vanilla flavor wasn’t pronounced, but I did appreciate that the cheese cake had a whipped texture and was actually more of a cheesecake flavored mousse than the American New York style cheesecake I’ve come to expect. Nevertheless, it was quite tasty! Thanks for the tip Melissa! (@BellyDancinGeek)

As for the service, throughout our meal, we were very well taken care of. It was a fairly busy Saturday afternoon, but the service was extremely prompt. Our server came by multiple times, always with a smile on her face, to ask us how we were doing, to refill our drinks and to take away empty dishes. All in all, while I didn’t absolutely love the food, the service was awesome! I've always been an avid supporter of independently-owned restaurants like The Fish Place so I wouldn’t mind visiting again and seeing what else their menu has to offer!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed reading my take on The Fish Place.
Fiona (@fimango) 

p.s. Special mention to James who was kind enough to quickly do the blog edit. Thank you!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Fish Place - May 12 2012

I've more or less been a resident of Fort McMurray for the past 12 years and I will have to admit this was my first time going to The Fish Place. I'm not one for fish, nor am I one for places that fish is what the place is all about. I decided to bite the bullet and see for myself why this part of Fort McMurray's food culture has been thriving and see what I've been missing.

I didn't end up taking pictures of the interior but I will admit I found it very fitting, in a good way. The name of the restaurant resonates throughout the whole restaurant. Lobster traps, nautical upholstery on the bench seats and the tables too. I really enjoyed this aspect of it.

The servers were friendly and despite how busy this place was on a Saturday afternoon we were well looked after.

For starters we went with the Alligator. Now I've never had alligator before so I wasn't too sure what to expect. the meat itself isn't bad and the sauce it was served in was good but for a guy who's all about pub food it was certainly a change of taste. Paired with the garlic bread and it turned into a great way to start off lunch.

For my meal I ordered off the lunch menu and got the New Orleans style Cajun Shrimp on Rice. What I was anticipating was something that was spicy, a little bit of heat and what I got was this:

Now if they said it was Italian, then yeah I wouldn't have ordered it but I would have at least understood what this was trying to be. This looked and tasted like it came out of a spaghetti sauce bottle. There was no hint of cajun spice that I was anticipating . Fiona (@fimango) on the other hand got the Mahi Mahi with pineapple salsa:

And for a guy that doesn't like fish, I absolutely loved this. I would recommend this meal in a heart beat. The fish was done perfectly and was moist, full of flavour and extremely appealing.
While dining, I mentioned on twitter that I was here for lunch and Melissa (@BellydancinGeek) recommended the cheese cake for dessert, let me just say this was awesome.

 While my main course wasn't what I was expecting nor was it all that appealing, everything else that we had made up for it. I recommend the Mahi Mahi and I recommend the cheese cake. If you're feeling adventurous try the alligator but unless you're a fan of italian cajun shrimp I would stay clear of the New Orleans Cajun shrimp. I would most certainly come back and try more items off of the menu. It was a pleasant experience and I can really see why this place has been a main stay in Fort McMurray.

Side Note: I'm going to try to do more blogging in the future. Make sure to follow me on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ymmfoodcritic or on my personal account http://www.twitter.com/twentynineyears

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Atmosfere Feb 9 2012

Today for lunch @daveenwood and I were going to go to Ms. B's. We even had a discussion about how much it makes no sense for a "Newfie" restaurant wouldn't sell toutants. it's not rocket sciene m'son. ANYWAYS, the place has the worst parking ever. Actually, all of Fort McMurray has the worst parking ever. We couldn't find a spot so we drove around and parked on the side of the road, right in front of Atmosfere. This place is located by the bingo hall, longshots, Ms. B's and Tavern on Main. We've heard things about this place, mostly about the 3 course dinner and how expensive the place was. We had to check it out for ourselves:

I must admit, it looks pretty classy going in. Dave and I were by far the most under dressed patrons. Most of the people here were in suits and dressy clothes. Dave was rocking his Nightmare before Christmas shirt and I was in my typical get up; vest toque and a beard.

This place looks great inside, the seating is elegant the decor matches the mood. It all works. I was checking out the menu though and saw something that threw me for a loop. I actually laughed out loud about this:
The biggest couple in the world of teen fluff vampire series at the top. When we were paying I asked what was up with that and I was told that the person who designed the menu had no idea who they were and thought that it was just a couple of models. 

For starters we got the vegetable samosas and the bruschetta. I must say that not only did these taste extremely delightful but the presentation was perfect too:

For our meals Dave went with the blackened chicken panino with fries and I went with the  Capocollo ham panino. I'm not a fan of Capocollo but I wanted to try it again. I'm not happy I went with it. I can't say I won't recommend it because I'm generally not a fan of the meat so anyone who likes the meat I'm sure would love it. It was a beautiful looking panino though:

The Caesar salad was great they used actual back and it complimented the salad quite nicely. 
With desert the bill came to about 70 dollars. that's 2 3 course meals. That's not bad at all and the dinner menu offers some great options for the 3 course meals but they also offer separate things on their menu if you don't want to go with the 3 course meal. I highly recommend Atmosfere and I am certain that I will be going there sometime in the near future. 

Also it's nice to see another restaurant catering to a more sophisticated envirnoment. It's not just the keg folks.

Monday, 9 January 2012


It's my brother's birthday today so I decided to be the greatest guy in the world and let him take me out for dinner tonight. Since BP's was closed for their staff party we decided on Gino's. Gino's is a pub connected to McRays. It's close to Westwood High School and the Black Horse pub up in Thickwood.

I ordered Steak and bacon wrapped scallops for the price of 23 big ones. I requested a bowl of cream of broccoli soup for a starter and I was informed later that they were all out. So I went with a caeser salad.
For pub food this turned out to be really good. But then I remember that this is attached to a restaurant and if I was on the other side of the building I wouldn't have been too impressed. I did sit on the pub side so I was content with what I was eating though. The steak was cooked as I asked, the seasoning was light but it was enough. The scallops and bacon were great, how could they not be great? The caeser salad was passable and wasn't too bad. The dressing wasn't heavy. The garlic toast wasn't that flavoured and a tad dry. The real issue I had on the plate was the vegetables. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not anti vegetable but when what I am being offered is frozen vegetables from a bag that's thrown in a microwave and added to my dish I am not down for that. I think I have that exact medley of frozen vegetables in my freezer and I haven't taken them out because it's gross. 

I was sitting at the table thinking about how I was going to recommend this place. Our server was great, it was casual and I had a really good time. The wait for food wasn't too long and everyone at my table seemed to enjoy their meal. I was ready to cross the t's and dot the i's on a positive review and then I came across this:
That my friends is a hair in my drink. 
I'm not a big debbie downer when there is food in my hair, but I am a debbie downer when there is hair in my food. I drank the majority of this before I realized there was hair in my drink. I'm not repulsed by it or anything I just feel it's completely avoidable. 

For the most part the meal I had was good for pub food. Not great, but when you are at a pub you're not expecting high end food. I wouldn't have ordered this on the other side and enjoyed it as much though. Besides the mishap with the hair in my drink I had good service. I've had poor service before here and it's spotty in that regards but tonight, she was awesome.

Side note: We've had 2 tweetups at Gino's. I've been loaded for both of them.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Hearthstone Grille (Sawridge)

I just want to point something out. I started this blog because I made a comment about the food I ate one day on twitter. I was complaining about the buffet I had at the Hearthstone Grille and I had someone people say it was good and others not so much but mostly I heard people telling me to write a blog about my food experiences. I hummed and hawed for about 20 minutes and then made one. So because of my poor experience at the Hearthstone Grille this blog now exists.. So thank you?

The Hearthstone Grille is located in the Sawridge hotel up in Gregoire. The setting is a really opened area for dining which is really nice. The decor is subtle and not overwhelming. One thing I must say though is it takes away from an intimate feeling you might be looking for when you go out for a meal. I flew solo today so that wasn't that big of a deal.

I was greeted as soon as I walked in and was seated right away. As I was sitting down my drink order was placed. I was handed my drink but no menu. 1 minute passes, 2 minutes, 5 minutes.. It wasn't until 10 minutes of me sitting there did someone come up to me and ask if I was getting the buffet or would I like a menu. You would think that if I wanted the buffet I would have already helped myself.. but I guess they should ask just in case I was too shy to go out without being asked what I wanted to do first.

Going through their lunch menu I decided to go with the Grilled Chicken and Brie Panini Sandwich:

You can already tell that the bread used in the sandwich is dry. It's cracked. It seemed like it was old bread or that it was over cooked in the panini press. Not only that but the only flavour from the sandwich came from the amazing brie. You can't go wrong with brie. The portabella mushrooms were good too. The chicken wasn't seasoned and it was extremely dry. With the combination of dry bread and dry chicken this wasn't the easiest sandwich I've ever eaten. The sweet potato fries were decent but didn't save the meal.

While they were slow to give me the menu, they were quick with the bill. That sandwich was $15.00 and with my drink and taxes it was like 18 something. I didn't have any change so I gave her a 6 dollar tip. I regret this. I'm all about tipping for good food and good service but when it's bad on both ends of the dining experience how does one tip? I'm too kind hearted in nature to not tip.

So in conclusion, this is the 2nd time in 3 months I've eaten at the Hearthstone Grille and it's the 2nd time I was not enthused about what was presented to me and what I ate. Do not go to the Sawridge, it's not worth all you can eat cupcakes.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Best and Worst of 2011

So I've only been doing this blog for less than 2 months.. but it's the end of the year so I decided to give the best and worst of what I experienced while blogging the dining experiences of Fort McMurray.

                                                                        The Best thing I ate:
                                                          Clubhouse with Poutine at Table 63
I don't know if it was the overwhelming positive changes the restaurant made with it's renovations but when I dined at Table 63 I was impressed with not only the new decor but also this Clubhouse with Beer Battered Fries Poutine. The sandwich was one of the best clubhouses I have ever eaten in my 29 years of living.  The poutine was amazing. I do have to say this though, I went back and had the clubhouse since I did the blog and it wasn't nearly as good as the first time I had it there. I don't know if it was a different cook or maybe I wasn't as hungry as I was then but it was lacking.. something. I would still recommend trying your luck on it. I'm probably going to try one more time to ensure if it's the real deal or I just lucked out one time.

                                               What I ate 10-20 times in the past 2 months:
                                                         Wor Won Ton at Frontier Dining
I know this probably isn't the greatest bowl of wor won ton soup known to man. But it certainly is the best bowl of wor won ton known to me. And since I am famous (Fort McMurray Today did a profile on me.. yes I will be doing an autograph session at the next restaurant I am attending) that counts for something. Remember, add hot sauce to it to make this great dish even more amazing.

                                                                      Worst thing I ate:
                                                        Firecracker Stirfry from Wok Box

This was a horrible horrible dish. If you can't continue eating and then go to a Mcdonald's to get something thats BETTER than what you just ate, then there's your review right there. Wok Box tries to give you something unique and always comes up short and bland. Avoid at all costs

Best Service in Fort McMurray:
I've drank and dined at this bar on numerous occasions and not only has the food been great (best thing I've had so far would be the Longshots Burger) but the service has always been amazing here. Friendly staff, very fun atmosphere, and just the ideal place to go out, have great pub food and have a few cold ones with your friends. I always know I'm going to have a good time if I know I am going to Longshots. My only recommendation is this: If you're going to try Poutine Wings or the Hot Chocolate Wings just remember just because you like them all separate, combined isn't always going to equal the same response. 

I think that's going to wrap up my Best and Worst of 2011. Check back into 2012 where I will be experiencing other locales in Fort McMurray. Please leave a comment and suggest on places I should try out. 

Remember, Be well, and eat even better.