Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not So Crabby about Crabby Joe's Tap & Grill

Crabby Joe's Tap & Grill on UrbanspoonThis past Tuesday my coworkers and I headed on over to Crabby Joe's Tap & Grill (125 Pederson Drive, Aurora) for Wing night.  There were twelve of us arriving. 

We attempted to make a reservation, but the restaurant does not allow for reservations on wing nights.  But we were promised probably success if we came before 6 P.M. as there is usually tables together.

A couple of minutes of the waitresses to push some tables together and we were escorted to our table in the back.  This is where the first issue happenned.  There really was only space for twelve people in a spot for barely 10 people normally.  We quickly resolved the issue by adding another table.

A waitress stopped by and took our drink order.  The drinks quickly came to the table with some assistance of the waitresses' coworkers.  The food orders were then taken with Chicken wings all around and pitchers of beer, coke and Water all around.

My Order: 1 Pound of Parmesan wings with a pitcher of Molson Canadian.

The orders of food came in with just as much promptness as the drinks which is pretty quick!

But here is where the wheels fall off.  My Parmesan wings were fairly dry.  Not like the much more tastier Parmesan wings offered at All Star Wings.  Also, there were no carrot sticks or celery that normally come with chicken wings.  But at least at the price was right at 39 cents per wing.

For wing night it was also dissapointing. There were only about 9 different kinds of wings served.  True this place isn't just a Chicken Wing specialty restaurant like All Star or Wild Wing.  But considering this is wing night it seems they might want to break out a few more flavours.

Overall, Crabby Joe's Tap & Grill is a mediocre pub at best.  There are plenty of pubs in the area to choose from that have better atmosphere rather than a pub with average restaurant looks.  Thus, I like the restaurant in terms of service.  However, the food wasn't totally bad but not great either.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sears Sheysters at Promenade

This past weekend Sears Canada advertised 40% off all Women's, Men's and Kids boots before 11 A.M. on Saturday and 30% off after 11 A.M.   Of course there was a caveat that any boots already on sale with the end pricing in "97 cents" were not included in this promotion. My wife and I headed over to Sears at Promenade Mall to check out the deals for a possible new set of boots for my winter travels.

We were sadly disapointed. Even though it was only 8 A.M. on Saturday,  there was only one style of boots available that was not priced at 97 cents and it was the most pathetic Sorel type of boot ever seen.  We nosed around the mens shoe section double checking to make sure we did not miss anything.  The store filled their small Men's shoe section with runners and fancy shoes for the workplace.  Sears finished it with two pairs of boots at regular price that neither interested me or nor did they have my size.

We wandered over to the much larger Women's shoe section where a store employee was assisting another customer with her purchase. We inquired as to if there were any other Men's boots in the back for the sale that had yet to be brought out as we had viewed some styles online that were interested in purchasing.  We were about to get an answer when the customer let out a loud shriek and a centipede emerged from her boot. She grabbed a shoe from nearby and lowered the resident population at Sears by one. 

The employee returned her attention to us and said there was nothing else in stock.  She said to try online as they are different type of store than us. 

I thought to myself, no kidding the online is a different type of store than Promenade Mall Sears.  Promenade Mall Sears has only two styles of boots in stock for a flyer promising across the line savings.  The Sears.ca s website meanwhile does have a variety of boots in decent quantities.  But I was expecting Sears.ca to have a much wider selection than the regular bricks and mortar store due to Sears.ca being in a no name warehouse in who knows where.  But I also expected the Promenade Sears location to have at least 10 styles of boots to choose from rather than the lest than impressive five in which three styles were on sale.  That is after all what the Upper Canada Mall Sears location in Newmarket had two years ago when I last went boot shopping.  Is it too much to ask to have a decent selection of boots for at a duly advertised boot sale?  I think not.

Sears Promenade sure did pull one over on me.  What Sheysters.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Armed With a Burger at King Henry's Arms

king Henry's Arms on UrbanspoonToday my wife and I visited King Henry's Arms (9301 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) for a little lunch.  I was looking to sink my teeth into a quality ground beef burger and McDonald's (also nearby) just simply wouldn't do. 

We arrived at 12:30 P.M. and the place was lively for a Sunday lunch with quite a few patrons waiting for the afternoon NFL Football game to start. 

My wife and I were welcomed by the bartender who said we could sit anywhere we want.  She arrived in two minutes to wipe down the table and drop off the menues. 

We reviewed them and the bartender returned to take our drink and food orders.

The Order: 1 King's Breakfast (Eggs Scrambled with Whole Wheat Toast), 1 Arms Burger with Fries and Pepsi.

The food came within ten minutes of ordering.  The Arms Burger was as expected. Decent pub burger made of ground beef served with golden fries.  The fries were luke warm at best but still potato tasty and not overcooked hard. 

The breakfast that my wife had was mediocre at best.  Sure her plate was full but this is not your big breakfast that you would receive at other places.  Do not visit King Henry's expecting a great breakfast feast, the King's Breakfast is more for those who want a simple breakfast while others have moved onto lunch.  The breakfast food itself could be a little better in quality.  The bacon was rock hard and not very warm it all.  It seemed the bacon had been sitting in a tray by itself waiting to be served to unsuspecting customers.  The homefries were also a little to be desired in the warmth department.  

The service itself on a Sunday can be a little problematic with only the bartender serving customers without the aide of kitchen runner or a waitress on the floor.  The pub needs at least a floor waitress when getting geared up for Sunday afternoon football as I noticed there were at least twenty people at the establishment.  This would perhaps speed the food service up a bit which would reduce the amount of heat lost while the food waits to be served to customers.

It should be noted the washrooms have recently been renovated in the previous six months and have improved over the previous incarnations.  The Men's washroom itself has recently been remodeled with new taps and tiling which leaves it with a fresher look.  But this is a regular pub washroom though with nothing really special in it except the basics.

Overall King Henry's Arms is decent place to have a lunch time meal of a burger and fries as well as other pub fare washed down with a pint.

"It's All Fair in the Agreement"

In my Posting on the lack of an Aurora Museum posted back in March of this year, "Young & Progressive" commented:

"Congratulations on a great blog...however, just an FYI...the Centre just finished a month long exhibit of Heritage artifacts...the artifacts don't sit in boxes, they are rotated out for show. It's all fair in the agreement. I agree with you that the space can be shared."

From the above comment there are two main issues I wish to draw to light the issues with the current arrangement with the comittee that operates the Aurora Cultural Centre.  Before I go any further I totally agree with what  Aurora Councillor Eveyln Buck posted recently on her blog especially when she noted:

"I have made it clear, numerous times, the board and staff at the Culture Centre did not create the original problem."

And I would love to add to the blog posting this line: "The current staff at the Cultural Centre do put on great events for the general public, but there seems to be a missing piece of the original intentions of the renovations to Church Street School."

Let's rewind a little to the original agreement made between the Town of Aurora and the Aurora Historical Society.  Back then it was to renovate the Church Street School into an Aurora Heritage Centre using funds raised by the Aurora Historical Society.  The dream was to ensure the historical artifacts were housed in the proper climate controlled environments yet acessible to those that wished to study and enjoy them.  Hence why there currently is a climate controlled room on the second floor of the current Cultural Centre as well as an extensive HVAC system installed that visitors enjoy today.  However, somewhere during the renovations the wheels fell off and the Town of Aurora was asked to take over the project by the Aurora Historical Society.

Chris Watts on his blog gave the perfect explanation of what happened next once the Town of Aurora took over the project.  The Town approached the federal government for assistance to obtain a grant to assist in finishing the renovations started by the Historical Society. Chris obviously did a little digging and came up with this Town of Aurora By-Law from 2008:

"...the town's bylaw # 5014-08.F:

Whereas Council has endorsed the grant application to the Minister of Canadian Heritage for funding under the program entitled "Cultural Spaces Canada" to receive funding for Capital Project No. 72059 - Aurora Heritage Centre, toward upgrades to the Aurora Heritage Centre;
And whereas the Minister of Canadian Heritage is providing financial assistance under the Cultural Spaces Canada - Grant Program in support of Capital Project No. 72059 - Aurora Heritage Centre, in the amount of $750,000.

Under the heading "Purpose of Conribution" [sic] it reads :

The Minister agrees to enter into this Contribution Agreement in order to grant financial assistance to the Recipient soley for the purpose of implementing the Project described in Annex A of this agreement entitled: "Aurora Heritage Centre".

So the federal government has provided a grant to the Town of Aurora to upgrades to the "Aurora Heritage Centre".  I believe as well there was a Trillium Grant made to the Historical Society or the Town of Aurora as well for these purposes.  So obviously there are written agreements out there with federal and provincial departments/agencies that show the money was granted for historical/heritage purposes and, it seems, the original intentions were to incorporate at museum into the new Aurora Heritage Centre. As a citizen of Aurora at the time, it was my expecatation as well as others in the Aurora blogosphere, that Church Street school would at least host a museum as well. 

"At least" being the operative words.  Historically the building has held a museum as well as been a home for the local area Scout Shop, Big Brothers, the Pine Tree Potters and other community organizations.  These organizations and the museum had lived in harmony for many years in the town owned building. So why would the Aurora Museum not continue to share the space?  Perhaps with the movement of the community groups out of the building into new homes elsewhere another shared space would occurr.  Thus the next step of the evolution of the Church Street School  would be once the renovations were completed.  

Once the renovations were completed an agreement was created between the Town of Aurora and the a volunteer board for cultural programming to be offered.  This is the same agreement that "Young & Progressive" has noted in his/her comment noted above.  This is the same agreement in a recent auditor's report to the Town of Aurora Council and referenced in The Auroran edition of October 11, 2011 on page 7.  The auditors found the Cultural Centre to be in complete compliance with the agreement between the council of the day and the Cultural Centre committee.

The main issue that obviously needs to be resolved and seems to keep getting bogged down in details and personalities is the missing Musuem component of the original intention of the Church Street School building for which federal, provincial and municipal to the town council as well as the private donor funding via the Aurora Historical Society was provided.

Some, like "Young & Progressive" have pointed out that the artifacts of the Aurora Historical Society do make their rounds at shows at the Cultural Centre from time to time.  I did note that in the original posting in March 2011 and Anna has noted on her blog recently some artifacts have shown up at the Aurora Public Library.  However, this overlooks the original intentions many had of the renovations to Nobel Peace Prize Winner Lester B. Pearson's former school building in the dream of a state of the art museum operating in a historic building. 

A state of the art museum was the original dream of the Aurora Historical Society, the private donors, and the Town Council of the day.  Even the original Aurora Council Motion moved by Councillor Ron Wallace and seconded by Councillor Evelyn Buck to start the process for a "Heritage & Cultural Centre" to be created at Church Street School.  It is duly noted and appreciated by many including myself and the recent auditor's report that the Cultural aspect of this motion has been adhered to quite well.  But there seems to be a musuem missing from the original intent of the motion.  It is one thing to show the artifacts in random showings around town in displays.  But it is quite another to have a modern state of the art musuem available as promised in the original agreement between the Town of Aurora, the federal government and the province.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Promenading at Swiss Chalet

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill on UrbanspoonToday for lunch I headed over to Swiss Chalet (7700 Bathurst Street, Vaughan) to have lunch with coworkers, a table of 20.

When we arrived the place was empty except for a lone elderly lady having a nice quiet lunch by herself. 

We were seated almost immediately after some table shuffling and assigned us two waitresses to our group who took our drink orders pretty quickly.  Once the drinks were delivered to our table, the food order was taken.

My Order: Quarter Chicken Dark Meat with Steamed Vegetables with a multigrain roll.

The food showed up fifteen minutes later which with this large number of orders was impressive.  But things started to slide from there. 

My order showed up with scant amount of vegetables and a white roll instead of the aformentioned multigrain role.  The vegetables tasted fairly bland and seemed to have been oversteamed at times.  The chicken was dry to the taste and was not the usual delicious chicken one comes to expect from Swiss Chalet.  As well other orders at our table also seemed misdone.

The two servers tried to serve a chicken salad wrap and demanding to know which person ordered it when no one in the party had ordered that item from the menu.  As well the server was not very careful in refilling the water glasses.  She spilled water at least twice on each table. 

The person sitting next to me had to wait ten minutes longer than everyone else even though he ordered a simple Quarter Chicken Dark Meat with a Multigrain roll and Fries.  One would have thought that Swiss Chalet, serving chicken for decades, would be able to serve a simple chicken dinner at the same time as everyone else.  Apparently this was not the case at this location.  

Billing, obviously with the large group, took a while as each person was billed individually. 

Overall the servers seemed ill at ease with their responsibilities despite only twenty people coming in to an empty restaurant.  This despite reservations being made so the restaurant could be prepared for such a large group of people.

Monday, October 10, 2011

McDonald's Poor Service

McDonald's on UrbanspoonOn this Thanksgiving Monday Morning we decided to head to McDonald's (9301 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill) for a little morning breakfast.  We had preplanned our tactics to get the most out of our money while playing McDonald's Monopoly promotion.

The last time the Egg McMuffin sandwich had Monopoly pieces.  Normally without my wife I do not order the Egg portion of the sandwich as I really don't care for eggs.  But this time I ordered it and my wife was able to enjoy a double Egg McMuffin sandwich.  But sadly, the Egg McMuffin sandwich did not come with Monopoly pieces.  McDonald's had changed it to the Buttermilk biscuits only.

The Order: Two Egg McMuffin Combos.  One with Medium Coffee and the second with a Medium Earl Grey Tea.

I ordered followed by four other people behind us. We waited watching the clock on the order screen tick away.  The server taking the cash was the only person behind the counter except for the person serving the food at the drive thru which is less than ten feet away. The in store cashier just took the orders one after another lining up the trays across the counter.  The drive thru attendant stacked and reshuffled her drinking cups over and over again no cars in the drive thru in site.  The entire time I waited for my order the drive thru window never opened.  Still the order screen ticked away.  Our food sat ready to be picked up.  The order screen continued to tick away and started to flash after two minutes had elapsed.  The food was so close I wanted to hop over the counter and serve myself...the order screen continued flashing as it slowly passed four minutes and thirty seconds.  "Next customer please..." the cashier said.  I interrupted her

"Could we get our food?"

"I'm supposed to have a runner who should be here shortly."

"Your order screen has just passed four minutes and thirty seconds."

She finally relented and gradually dropped off our meal and started working on the others. 

I sat down fuming.  This was the third time in three weeks that at this particular McDonald's there had been a disconnect in service.  The cashier was eager to take your order and your cash.  But refused to hand over the food that was duly ordered and paid for without a little prodding. 

On a previous visit the order taker took my order and the next person's order.  Then with nobody in line she stared right through us to see if anyone else was coming in the door. Meanwhile the order screen ticked away.  It wasn't until I said something that she moved to at least pour my coffee.  

Not sure what happenned at this McDonald's that the people behind the counter cannot multitask to ensure the customer moves quickly from ordering to getting their food.

It was a normal McDonald's food order.  A greasy hash brown and Sausage McMuffin washed down with their excellent coffee. 

I didn't win the million dollars from the McDonald's Monopoly promotion.  But at least I won a free muffin and cheeseburger from this visit.  I did not return to the counter for my muffin on this visit though.  I figured it would take five minutes just to have someone to retrieve it.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Good Food at Alice Fazooli's

Alice Fazooli's on UrbanspoonRecently in the mail I received a buy $50.00 or more in food and receive $25.00 off to Alice Fazooli's (155 York Boulevard, Richmond Hill).  My wife and I headed out for a Saturday lunch. 

We arrived shortly after 1:00 P.M. to find the place virtually deserted except for a few occupied tables.  Really it looked like a few drops of water in an Olympic sized swimming pool.  But a least there was no wait for seating.

After being seated, our waitress stopped by and took our drink order. We stared at the menu trying to figure out how to ensure our order was at least fifty bucks so we could best use our coupon. Eventually we placed our order that came in at a magical $55.00.  Enough to be filling yet economical to ensure the coupon was used correctly.

The Order:  Alice's Homemade Meatballs sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese,  Fettuccini Di Mare and Steak with Beans and roasted Mushrooms in a Red Wine Sauce.

The waitress quickly returned with some rolls and olive oil. The olive oil was well done and made the rolls taste perfect.  The rolls themselves though do have hold their own and seamed freshly baked that day, but it was hard to tell since they were not warm as in fresh out of the oven. 

Alice's Homemade Meatballs arrived first as an appetizer.  There were two large metaballs doused in a delicious tomato sauce which our server sprinkled parmesan cheese on.  The meetballs were delicious and we soon found the asiago cheese in the middle. 

Another five minutes passed and our food arrived. 

I dug into the steak to find it succulant yet tasty with the red wine sauce.  The beans were the typical steamed vegetables that were nothing really to write home about.  The mushrooms were great when integrated in with the sauce from the steak. 

My wife enjoyed the muscles and shrimp in her Fettucini as well as the sauce and noodles.  She was full yet sated after devouring her meal.

Overall Alice Fazooli's was a great lunch spot with great food.  Based on the layout of the restaurant, the place is usually hopping on weekend nights as it seemed to hold over a hundred people. But the price is a little pricey for a weekly visiting.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Guest Post: What I'm Thankful For by My Wife

On this Thanksfiving weekend my wife provides my first ever guest post for which I'm Thankful for. -- Michael

I am Thankful for....

10.      A husband who ...
a.       Shares in the chores such as drying the dishes and making lunches for the workdays.
b.      Reminds me of the positive characteristics and traits about myself that I don’t always see.
c.       Encourages me to try new activities that I otherwise would not venture to attempt.
9. Having the motivation to exercise on a regular basis to maintain a healthy body.

8. The opportunity to live, work and study in New York City for 3 years.

7. Our neighbourhood basset hounds, Daffy and Dumpy, who puts a smile on our faces with their personalities and antics.

"Dumpy The Neighbourhood Hound"

6. That I had the opportunity to study French full time for 1 year.

5. The Richmond Hill Public Library and the accessibility that it provides to good reading materials.

4. Bus rides where all the connections work out and I am able to get to my destination 5-10 minutes earlier.

3. Living in a day and age where information is accessible through the Internet.

2. The invention of pumpkin pie.

1. That I have things to be thankful for.

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