Foodosophy Restaurant Update – September 2008


Foodosopher Restaurant Update: September 2008
foodosophy.wordpress.com

In many ways, reviewing restaurants is unfair. As bloggers, and people, we often forget that this is someone’s livelihood, life savings, and blood, sweat, and tears we are impacting and influencing. With a bad experience, we can send a restaurant on a downward spiral to bankruptcy. I am not implying that we are powerful enough to have one bad review sink a restaurant, but like they mention in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point”, there are some people who function as a nexus of opinion – people who drive trends that others follow. One bad review can lead other people to be more critical of their own experiences, which can ripple through the entire community.

Real publications, like the NY Times, often have their reviewers visit a restaurant several times. This provides the best sampling of experiences, so one can formulate a more balanced opinion – either positive, or negative. It allows for some small inconsistencies on any given evening to be balanced out by a more just perspective.

At Foodosophy we try hard to be fair, and provide a balanced view. We try as often as possible to dine again at previously reviewed establishments. We’ll post updates on these restaurants every so often, especially if things have changed, so you have a more accurate view of how a restaurant is doing.  Let us know if you think this is a fair approach, or if there is something we could be doing better.

1. Southern Spice – Calgary

Have visited several times since. They have a new menu, and business has been busier. Last time, however, service was terrible. Drinks were forgotten, it took 45 minutes just to get a soda, food took a very long time. Came out inconsistently as well, in a very spotty manner.

It was a Friday, and the restaurant was busy. The lady apologized when we went to pay (over 2 hours later), saying she hadnt expected to be swamped like this. However, she also failed to adjust the bill, or provide any sort of comp. Which is my generally expected form of remedy when an experience goes bad.

Food is still good. I’d just go when they arent as busy, or expect things to take a while when you do go.

2. Pho Kim – Calgary

I’ve probably had the 17A, Special Spicy Beef Flank Noodle Soup fifteen times since the review. It’s very consistent. Only one time was it a bit watery, and lacking the richness of flavour that is the hallmark of the soup. It was late on a Wednesday, about 45 minutes before closing, so im willing to forgive the one incident. It was also abnormally slow to come out that day, so it wouldnt surprise me if they had to fire up the dish from other soups and tried their best to create a fascimile of it.

3. Bow Bulgogi – Calgary

The lunch special has gone UP again! I believe it’s 10.95 now. No longer the best deal in town, it is still of excellent value. Lots of food. Great flavour. The “emperor” has also retired. Things seem to be running smoothly though. No real hiccups. The serving sizes have dropped a bit, but it could’ve been the days we were there. It has always been wildly inconsistent that way.

4. Pho Dau Bo – Calgary

Still clean. Still good. Their closing hours are a bit irritating to me (they close early!), but the Sate soup is still as good as always. Tried a clear soup, and it was decent as well.

5. Gold Wonton – Calgary

Been here several times, including a visit with Shokutsu and friends. The price is still quite reasonable, and it’s the freshest, best hot pot in town. When you go, expect to spend a few hours lounging and catching up. It’s a great social experience. The AYCE is the best way to go. And we really enjoyed the Sate broth.

6. Transcend Coffee – Edmonton

Hands down my favorite coffee shop in the province, Transcend has overtaken Phil and Sebastiens. Not for any differences in quality, but primarily on selection, and price. Edmonton is very lucky to have them. I’ve managed to turn a few friends into coffee snobs through the excellent, patient, service at Transcend. If you like coffee, you’ll like Transcend. Just don’t add sugar and cream – you might as well be drinking THo’s at that point.

7. Little Italy Cafe – Calgary

Following a Calgary trend, their prices have gone up as well. However, still a very manageable 8.95 to 11.95 for pasta specials. They don’t seem to run out as often anymore. And things are a bit more efficient, unless you show up during the dead hours (2-4pm). Piero is married now. That’s about the only differences i’ve noticed.

8. New York Bagel Cafe – Edmonton

Still my favorite eggs benedict… possible anywhere. They are still slow – mayhap even slower over the summer when one of the regular girls was on vacation. Things take their sweet time, and they were hitting about 90 minutes from sitdown to eating on Saturdays and Sundays.  Still worth the wait though.

9. Mucho Burrito – Edmonton

I’m not sure if the first time i went was an abberation (there were about 5 people in line in front of us), but the lineups have been significantly busier since i’ve been. They havent cheaped out on any of their ingredients, and things are still large, and tasty. I know they are a “chain”, but it’s a lot of tasty food for a good price.

10. Red Sea Fish and Chips – Calgary

Went backagain. Not quite as good of an experience. The Haddock was quite poor. The Cod was excellent -definitely the fish of choice. Don’t get dressing – gravy and loads of herbs – on your fish, or on your fries. The fries were a little underdone. And they were empty. They mentioned they are much busier in the fall and winter. Let’s hope they get busier, and be a bit more consistent.

11. L’Epicerie – Calgary

Their prices have dropped a bit and stabilized at something reasonable. They have gotten over new store hiccups and are operating efficiently. They have phenomenal customer service – what service should be in my mind, but in this day and age, is exceptional. They stand behind their product, and they let you sample everything. You have to be patient though – they can be understaffed, so sometimes it’ll take a bit to get to you while they finish serving the customers ahead of you.

They do slow and steady business, but im a bit concerned at the lack of volume. Manuel Latrouwe is finally reopening (i poked my head in there today. It was looking really good), and hopefully that will drive a bit more business. And if you’re the lady who got upset and huffy and stormed out yelling they had lost your business because they did not have a bathroom, please don’t bother going back. It’s, for all intents and purposes, a deli. Get over yourself.

6 thoughts on “Foodosophy Restaurant Update – September 2008

  1. Hi John,

    Thanks for the additional info. I’d like to clarify something though – i said they are my favorite – i didnt say they were the best. That is a subjective thing that would be very difficult to judge. I have been to Kawa and Deville. I go to Kawa at least once or twice a week. They are both great, and definitely have a beautiful ambiance and outstanding coffee. Kawa had this Buloya Ethiopean Yergacheff(sp?) that was the most amazing blueberry flavour i’ve ever had. Deville is far less convenient for me, but is also good. But i prefer Transcend. Probably because, as the novice that i am, i have a lot of questions. And they spend a lot of time answering them. They even bring up smelling kits, samples, etc… to help explain their points. I have not been anywhere else other than P&S where they were *that* friendly. And truth be told, while i really like the guys at P&S, Transcend just goes that extra mile. If i don’t like a coffee they suggest, they’ll pour it out and serve me a new one.

    Bumpy’s is great too, but you’re right – the hours are terrible. Funny thing about JJ Bean – i found them to be all right, but not great, when i tried them in Van. They are everywhere though. I prefer the Elyssian Room, and then Artigiano. 49th Parallel has great coffee, but was too sterile for my liking.

    Anyway, hope that clarifies my stance. Thanks for all the extra details.

  2. Not yet, but there is always some form of delay. I expect it to require a few bankruptcies before you see any serious adjustment in price. Of course currently, there hasnt really been an adjustment in the labour market, nor the price of food, so i expect the high prices to remain until those start to drop.

  3. >foodosopher

    I was just looking at some older (eg. 2006-2007) pictures taken of menus at Calgary restaurants that I have on file and compared the numbers to what I found online at the same restaurants’ websites, and noticed that things have gone up too.

  4. Good tip about Fratello – and you’re right, P&S is slammed day in and day out, and are still very friendly. Im glad we have many choices for good coffee, not just one.

    If the labour shortage continues to get worse, im worried about anymore upward pressure on price. It is already quite an expensive city to live in. Im not sure how much people (including myself) can afford if prices continue to increase. At some point, discriminatory spending will have to drop. And this will have a fairly large ripple through the economy.

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