On my way past St. Laurent Centre Mall on OC Transpo's Transitway, I decided to stop in for lunch before heading over to Nepean. I made my way to the food court to visit the A&W (1200 St. Laurent Boulevard, Ottawa).
I arrived at 1 P.M. to find the food court bustling with customers with the odd table empty.
I visited the A&W counter to find two employees at the registers. There were four registers possible with a short line up. Two of the registers had the above mentioned employees working them while the other two registers were turned around facing the customer ready for their use.
Yes, self serve registers at an A&W was available. I didn't look to closely to see if there were any restrictions but it did say "Express" on them and had an interac machine attached for check out purposes. It appeared the machines were useable if you wanted to order your Teen Burger combo quickly, slide your bank card through and grab your food and go. All of the five minutes I was at the counter, nobody used these two registers. But with decent counter service, these machines would be obsolete. But maybe that is A&W is hoping to do, cut the number of counter people while maintaining the same prices.
I placed my order with the supervisor who was at one of the registers.
The Order: 1 Teen Burger Combo (1 Teen Burger, medium fries and medium A&W Root Beer).
The price? $9.50 including taxes. Yup, a Teen Burger Combo with fries the same size as McDonald's medium fries and a Medium drink smaller than the same McDonald's medium drink costs $2 to $3 more. Go figure.
I waited patiently for my meal to be prepared by the kitchen. During that time the employee working the other register at the front counter was checking her watch and bragging she was able to go home in a hour. Oh the love of fast food, bragging that you love your "A-Job" so much you can't wait to go home. Since you love your "A-Job" so much why not quit, go to McDonald's and apply for a "McJob"?
My meal came from the kitchen, was brought over and placed on the tray. Before the food arrived though, I was asked if I wanted ketchup for my fries. Two small ketchup packets were dropped on after an answer to the affirmative was provided. One white napkin and one paper sheathed straw were also provided. I felt like I was in prison! No longer can customers obtain their own napkins, straws or, heaven forbid, Ketchup packets! Have to keep prices down and profits up A&W has decided customers are not to be trusted with napkins, straws or any condiments. Heck, I was surprised I wasn't asked to bring my own tray from home.
I brought my tray over to find a clean table in the food court.
I dug into the fries to find them taste like warmed cardboard. Yup, no real taste at all, they rivalled the old Burger King cardboard fries of yesteryear. I remember when these A & W fries had taste! A little bit of salt and they were perfect, these were warmer than the mediocre to barely warm fries provided by other fast food establiments, but the cardboard taste was still there. Ketchup barely made these fries edible.
The Teen Burger though was an improvement. Wrapped in the faux aluminium foil style burger wrapper, the burger looked perfect with a sesame seed bun, condiments, tomato, and paddy. I bit into it to definately interrupt the bacon and beef's party, it was tasty. Just like the old Teen Burgers I used to enjoy when the University of Ottawa's Food Court had an A & W counter.
The A&W Root Beer was a let down. A&W has long prided itself on top notch Root Beer with no ice by chilling the tubes the water and concentrate mix in. But what I was provided could hardly be classified as "prideful". Sure there was no ice, but the A&W chilling technology obviously wasn't working resulting in barely chilled A&W Root Beer begging for ice.
Overall, this A&W location provides overpriced sub par mediocre food in a busy food court location. The other A&W Restaurant style location at St. Laurent Centre has recently closed within the past couple of months. No wonder, who wants overpriced cardboard for fries and not so cold A&W Root Beer? Anyone....