Friday afternoon my wife and I headed over to Broadway Bar & Grill (345 Preston Street, Ottawa) to investigate this local chain that serves pub and grill food for dinner.
We arrived at 5:00 P.M. to a modern looking bar with a wrap around patio out front with lots of patio seating. There were a couple of tables with people at them and the patio would gain more patrons as the evening went on. So far things seemed promising at the early start to the Friday evening dinner hour.
We were greeted by the hostess outside and inquired if we would like to sit inside or outside. We choose inside to get out of the sun. The hostess sat us at one of three booths along the front. The middle booth was already taken, so she sat us on the far one from the front door and handed us menus. For whatever reason, a beam of sunlight streams right across the table at the seat at 5 P.M. at this time of year. No biggie really. The other booth was free, so after ordering our drinks and inquiring with the waitress, we switched.
The drinks came quickly and we were ready to order.
The Order: 1 Beer Battered Fish & Chips with a glass of water and 1 club sandwich with a Pepsi.
While waiting for the food we both zipped off to the washroom to wash our hands. The restaurant itself is modern and clean looking. Even the bathrooms were impressively spacious and clean unlike some other restaurants located downtown in the Byward Market and Elgin Street.
Aesthetically and service wise, this place had promise. That was until the food arrived.
Our waitress dropped off our plates of food. Sure they looked good and well proportioned overall, but on closer inspection things start heading south towards the mediocre level.
The club sandwich was the first victim. Sure there were stacks of bacon, lettuce and tomato with chicken. Broadway, on their menu, claims to add Texas Toast with cheese. Sure the Texas Toast was there and worked well taste wise with the rest of it. But neon orange rubbery cheese slice looking fresh from Kraft was a little much. Really? To add cheese you just went to the supermarket, picked up some processed cheese slices and slid it into the sandwich? Heck, even Subway would have chosen perhaps Swiss cheese. But Broadway decided to make the subpar processed cheese noticeable by choosing the "look at me" neon orange colour instead of the more subtle white.
The fries with the sandwich were breaded style fries. Had not had these in a while but figured out why shortly. They were dry and needed help from the Heinz Ketchup bottle on the table. Nothing imaginative about the fries but they weren't terrible either especially with the ketchup. I guess for an extra $1.49 I could have upgraded my fries to sweet potato fries. In hindsight I should have, I don't think I've seen breaded sweet potato fries. I wonder if McCain even makes them?
The beer battered fish was also mediocre as well. Tasted like regular fish but a little dry tasting. Same unimaginative breaded fries were also provided. At least this dish was on special at $8.95.
After finishing our meal we waited for our waitress. No problem I thought, she is waiting for another waitress at the bar to finish pouring a beer. Our waitress poured hers next and then disappeared. Not sure where, but thought she would reappear shortly to see how our meal was. No such luck. Five minutes later she reappeared further back in the restaurant with her back to us talking to another blonde waitress. I tried to get their attention, but neither of them would look at me they just kept on chatting.
Another 5 minutes later our waitress finally appeared to our table and was about to speak. But saw, through the window, one of Ottawa's By-law officers finishing up writing a parking ticket and placing it under the wiper of the large white truck branded with the Broadway restaurant logo on it. She rushed to the back to grab the manager who went out and scowled. Our waitress followed outside and watched the manager while I rolled my eyes.
After fifteen minutes of waiting for the waitress to inquire about the bill, she finally did. Two minutes later we had our bill. But, as luck would have it, the fish was rung in at the usual $11.95. We flagged her down again and pointed out the error.
She said it must not have been overridden on the system for the day. Really? And you didn't double check the entries on the bill before handing it to the customer to ensure all the entries were correct especially your daily specials? It is not like the restaurant was busy or anything as the place was perhaps a quarter full and she did have time to hold a conversation with another waitress. She returned again with the correct bill this time and we paid and left.
Overall, if you are looking for unimaginative pub food that even Brooklynites wouldn't even touch, this place is for you. Non impressive fries and basic sandwiches with no effort additives like neon orange plain untoasted cheese slices is what this place offers. With so many competitors in Ottawa, it is surprising Broadway Bar and Grill has survived to see it's 20th anniversary this year. I doubt it will see it's thirtieth if it keeps this up. The only thing "Broadway" about this bar & grill is the name. With food like this, the food wouldn't be served up at an Off Broadway Theatre.
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