Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Uptown Waterloo Cheap Lunch Roundup (II)

A few new spots have opened since my last posting in February, mostly due to the Waterloo Town Square reconstruction. Hopefully a few more places will come along when the KPMG building opens, including a new LCBO (although not exactly a lunch spot per se).

Gourmet Pizza (Waterloo Town Square)

A decent pizza place, similar to Fratello. Eat in, take out. Just putting the word gourmet in the name and installing a faux brick oven (actually gas fired) doesn't make it gourmet though. Some toppings that may not be on the average pizza joint's item list but nothing terribly exotic. Slices are a decent deal for lunch, but full pizzas are much more expensive than Fratello - even after the buy one get one for $5 deal)

All About Crepes (Waterloo Town Square)

Wow. At least the waitress was friendly. Terrible value - $7-$10 for a tiny crepe. Lunch and dinner offerings were the same - crepes filled with spaghetti sauce, canned tuna, mushrooms, or plain spinach and cheese (note those aren't exactly the menu descriptions, but what I felt was served). That plus a half-hearted attempt at plating (a huge glop of sour cream topped with a single blueberry and dill) does not make for a very filling meal. Dessert crepes were a more reasonable $4-$5 but we weren't going to throw good money after bad. The place was completely full but I suspect it will thin out considerably unless the menu or the prices change.

Thai Sun (Waterloo Town Square)

Now open! See the full review.

Uptown Cafe (Marsland Centre)

A cafe that replaced the uninspired coffee shop in the basement of the Marsland Centre. A surprisingly good option for lunch - fantastic value especially for those working in the building. Daily specials include hot sandwiches and wraps with a side of pasta, chips or veggies for less than $5. The sandwiches often contain real meat - not just your normal deli slices. Burgers and hotdogs for $3 and $2 respectively. Service is very slow during the lunch rush so be warned.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Kristoria (Closed)
104 Surrey St. East
Guelph, Ontario

We visited Kristoria (French Fine Dining) quite a few months ago but were never inspired enough about it to write up the review. Not that it wasn't any good - it was - but just that it lacked anything that stood out, good or bad. So after procrastinating over this like that Masters thesis that never gets finished because there's no real deadline except for that nagging feeling hanging over your head for months, here it is.

Located in the heart of downtown Guelph, this restaurant occupies a tiny renovated old house. The walls are painted a deep, trendy red that matches the iterminably slow website, offset by dark woods and crispy white linens. The place was quite small and held 10 tables, tops. The place wasn't full but we did manage to overhear most conversations without too much difficulty.
I vaguely remembered reading that a tasting menu was available, so after perusing the a la carte menu and not finding anything that jumped out at us, we ventured to ask for a tasting. After the dishes started coming out, we started to realize that this wasn't of those tasting menus that the chef makes up on the spot daily, but it was just items off the menu that the chef chose for us. Oh. Well, not a terrible thing since we ended up getting more courses then we would have normally for a cheaper price, but someowhat disappointing since it lacked the creativity I always hope for from a tasting menu.

Overall the food was very good in a very traditional french preparation and the presentation. There was no pretense of 'fusion' or trying to venture into the new frontiers of fine dining. The style was classic french cuisine, as suggested by the restaurant's subtitle. Service was friendly and the wait staff seemed very genuine, if a little bit unpolished. Understandable seeing as the place had only been open for a few months.

Note this was awhile ago so I present to you our tasting menu without much comment. Also, much of the menu has been changed (as with any decent place).

First course - Thrice braised pressed pork belly with honey, star anise, and a korean pear salad.
Can't be disappointed with braised pork belly, unless they try somehow to make it healthy or something, which they didn't.

Second course - Lobster bisque with truffle foam (tiny little serving but still delicious) and lobster profiteroles and vanilla aioli (not the best combination, plus the lobster was overpowered by the rest of the dish).

Main course - Organic roasted guniea fowl with star anise and fig sauce. Side of carrots and asparagus wrapped in proscuitto. Great winter dish - rich, warm and hearty.

Cheese course - Chevre goat cheese with capers, berries and truffle oil. G doesn't like goat cheese so they happily brought out an alternative which was a nice touch.

Dessert - Tahatian vanilla bean creme brulee - classic, very rich vanilla flavour but overly sweet.

Finally, the bill came with two small scoops of chocolate sorbet. After the huge meal we were too stuffed to appreciate it, plus it was a little too sweet for a sorbet. Including a glass of wine, the total with tax and tip came to $140. A bargain for the amount of great food we ate. We'd probably return more often if it wasn't so far away from Waterloo.