Friday, November 09, 2012

Full & Tucked In at Tucker's Marketplace

Tucker's Marketplace on UrbanspoonLast weekend we found a coupon in the Ottawa Citizen weekend paper for a meal at Tucker's Marketplace for $10.95 each with the purchase of a drink.  The only hitch, it was good from Sunday to Thursday and expired on November 8th.

So last night after finishing work we headed over to Tucker's Marketplace (61 York Street, Ottawa) for some dinner. 

Normal office hours in Ottawa are 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Monday through Friday.  So we arrived at Tucker's Marketplace in the Byward Market at 4:30 P.M. to find this location locked up light Fort Knox.  Weird, lots of hussle and bussle in the market as workers were leaving their workplace for the day.  A couple of other probable customers also looked at us and the store mysteriously as to why the front doors were locked.  I scanned the front doors only to find designated hours showing they open at 5:00 P.M. for dinner.    So we turned around and decided to explore the market while another set of customers came by shrugged and went to another restaurant. 

After a whirl about the market, we returned at 4:50 P.M. only to find the front doors were open and at least six tables of customers waiting inside at the front counter to be seated.  We added our name to the list of contestants to have a chance to sit at a table.  The hostess reiterated though, that the restaurant opens at 5:00.  

Fast forward to 5:00 P.M. and the Peace Tower Carillon chimed the hour.  My cell phone also showed 5:00 P.M.   and yet we waited.   A couple of other customers shifted their eyes as the hostess arranged and rearranged her paper list. 

At 5:05 P.M. a parade of servers arrived from the restaurant seating area and gradually took the names and associated parties with them.  There were a few reservations that preceded us who had arrived after us.  So we were a little concerned we had fallen through the cracks.  Ironically enough though when my wife inquired as to our status, we happened to be the next party to be seated. 

After being seated by the hostess, who had earlier taken our names, our waitress arrived.   We handed her our single coupon for the $10.95 per meal with the purchase of a drink.  I ordered my drink (a Coke) and my wife attempted to order her usual ice water.  The waitress said we could use the coupon only if we ordered a drink.  We pointed out to her that I had ordered a drink but we only had one coupon.  The waitress said my wife should order a drink so it would be cheaper.  This only created confusion.  Our waitress explained that each diner at the table could use the single coupon to receive their meal at $10.95, thus each one of us could have our meal at $10.95 for a total of $21.90 plus tax and drinks costs.  Not a bad deal for a Tucker's Marketplace coupon. 

The Order: 2 to belly up to the for the Tucker's Marketplace Buffet with 2 Glasses of Coke.

The waitress offered to bring us both glasses of tap water as well.

Tucker's Marketplace Buffet is layed out in stations.  There is a the usual well stocked salad station, bread station, meat station and a made to order pasta station. 

The salad station is nothing too remarkable as it has the usual garden salad options of lettuce, tomotoes and other vegetables and dressings you would expect.  However, there is also Potato Salad, Caesar Salad, Corn Salad, Pasta Salad and more. 

The bread station has a variety of breads and roles accompanied with three different types of butter to choose from. 

The Carvery, or meat station, usually has a choice of two different meats.  At this location I've seen ham, roast beef, lamb, chicken and other types of meat.  Usually the roast beef is always available with another type provided. 

The pasta station provides make your own pasta that a Tucker's Marketplace is more than happy to prepare. Pasta includes Angel Hair Pasta, Spaghetti and other noodles.  A variety of sauces, depending on the evening, are also available.

The Dessert Station has about 8-10 different flavours of ice cream to choose from as well as Apple Crumble, brownies, Nanaimo Bars and other succulant sweets.

We rotated through the different stations at the Tucker's Marketplace buffet.  The first stop for myself was the salad bar.  Despite the restaurant only just opening, half the Caesar Salad had disappeared.  No worries though, I took some and on my next round it was refilled.  Buffet employees seem to keep everything well stocked as customers come and go from the different stations.   I complimented the Caesar salad with some Potato Salad and the returned to my seat. 

The Caesar Salad was made perfectly to spec, no skimping on the croutons or screwing it up like at Alice Fazooli's, just decently prepared creamy Caesar Salad with the right amount of everything.  

The Potato Salad though needed some work.  It was a little drier and didn't have the certain expected taste.  There was just something about the Potato Salad that wasn't right.  It lacked the creamy texture that the Scores' potato salad had at that restaurant's salad bar.  But the sad part was Tucker's salad even was worse than the Wal-Mart ready to eat salad as well.

On the next round I aimed for the Roast Beef and Mashed Potato.  I approached the servery and had a choice of well done or medium rare.  I chose the latter, scooped myself some mashed potatoes and revisited the Caesar Salad.  Silly me, I missed the gravy or aux jeus sauce. No worries though, on my third round I revisited the Roast Beef and Mashed Potato to ensure I received some gravy.

The Roast Beef was a little fatty and definitely not the best cut of meat.  But this not being a steak house or Montreal Smoke Meat restaurant, it wasn't anything to worry about.  With the gravy, the roast beef was perfect.  The gravy even compleminted the Mashed Potatoes.  A little interesting was the fact on this visit the restaurant chef chose to leave the skins in the Mashed Potatoes. On previous visits the skins were absent. 

In between the second and third visits to the buffet I had finished my Coke and was also sucking on ice cubes from the glass of water.  The waitress promised to refill the glass of Coke on her next return trip from the kitchen.  I left it to her as I visted the buffet for my third time and my 2nd round of Roast Beef.  I devoured that plate.   However, when I returned nothing had been dropped off.  The waitress returned with two kiddie sippy cups for the two children a couple of tables down.  She had gone to the kitchen and returned without my Coke. She had forgotten.  No worries though, a slight glance her way and she promised to get it in a couple of seconds. I contemplated going for another round of main course or to check out the desserts.  While doing this, the waitress stopped by with my new glass of Coke and refilled our waters.

My wife enjoyed the steamed muscles and other seafood offerings.  She also took a look at the asian noodles and seemed to be happy with the quality of both.  Seafood, beyond salmon and breaded fish sticks, was never really my thing.

I made my decision and decided to head for the desserts.  Two other customers were there already.  I checked out the dessert plates and realized they were half the size of the regular dinner plate.  I chose to grab a regular dinner plate and then double back to the dessert station.   From here I always have the Tucker's Marketplace Apple Crumble which is usually warm and goey and absolutely delicious.  Add a brownee cherry tart and assorted fruit (e.g. melon, peaches, etc.) and you have an appetizing plate where your fork doesn't know where to begin.  After dessert we were full to the brim and needed to head home. 

Overall Tucker's Marketplace is a good spot to visit to fill up.  While were on the way out for the evening, a teenage boys hockey team complete with coaching staff and parents rolled in.  As any parent of a teenage boy will know, filling them up can be an expensive challenge.  However, not all buffets are the same, some have large quantities of food that is either terrible or sub par. Tucker's Marketplace though provides large amount of food of decent quality.  Sure the quality is not that great, but if you want great quality food a more focused restaurant would be more your target.  Thus, if you are looking for vast amounts and varieties of food of decent quality, Tuckers is your place.
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