Springfields Cafe – Calgary, AB
4-1715 27 Avenue NE
Every industrial park, office building in every city i’ve ever been in has the ubiquitous breakfast/sandwich/burger/chinese food cafe. Typically run by industrious immigrants, I can grudgingly respect their “all things to all people” approach – a departure from my usual philosophy, but after all, they can’t really afford to pass up any sales. Usually, for some strange reason, I love their grilled cheese and fries. Frozen fries fried in a t-fal fryer, process cheese melted between two heavily buttered pieces of Safeway toast. Usually $3-$4. Yes, there, i said it. I really like that junk. What can I say – being denied processed cheese as a child has made me a minor addict.
Anyway, all things to all people aside, i’ve found most of these cafes are run by Asian immigrants. And all without fail, they serve some form of wor wonton soup. The popularity of wonton soup is almost universal – safe, generally a little bland, and a nice balance of vegetables, meat, and broth. My issue is you can seldom find an actual good bowl of wonton soup! Simple things, after all, are some of the hardest to make. If you think about it, there are a lot of components that are key to a good bowl of wor wonton soup. Nice broth – rich flavour without too much msg or sodium. The right egg noodles – firm, and chewy, that maintain their texture in the hot broth. Good crisp vegetables, cooked slightly in the heat of the broth. BBQ pork, fresh and fatty. And of course, the wontons. Nice silky skins, that hold their structure in the broth, with a rich, fatty filling of meat or seafood, with bursts of flavour (i like garlic and sesame oil). Of course, i spent 3 months looking for a great bowl of wor wonton soup in Calgary, and have yet to find it, so most times, i’ll take a few positive things about the bowl and move on. That was the extent of my hope for Springfields Cafe.
Anyway, I ordered the grilled cheese and fries ($3.75). Believe it or not, the fries were not very good. The straight frozen kind, they had the chalky texture of mush on the interior, and not crispy enough on the exterior. The grilled cheese was ok, though i think they used margarine instead of butter. All in all, that part was a bit disappointing.
In terms of the Wor Wonton ($6.65) at Springfields Cafe, i have to say, it was downright terrible. The broth – watery and flavourless. The veg? The broccoli was crisp, but the rest were overcooked and limp. The chicken and BBQ pork were both flavourless. And the wontons? Frozen wontons reheated, and the pork was mushy, with a distinct preservative flavour. The noodles were spaghetti. All in all, nothing redeeming about it.
So you take an industrial park cafe, mess up the grilled cheese and fries, and serve a terrible wor wonton. What are you left with? No place i would want to go back to. Springfields Cafe is a total disappointment. And it’s too bad really, as i like to support people who work hard to make a living. I just wish they did it in a way that was more edible – process cheese and all.