Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Little West of Accurate by The Works in Westboro

The WORKS - Gourmet Burger Bistro on UrbanspoonYesterday found ourselves touring Ottawa's community of Westboro.  Around 11:30 A.M. my mother-in-law, wife and myself stopped off at the The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro (326 Richmond Road, Ottawa) for lunch.

We arrived early as we had previously been to this location's sister restaurant in The Glebe to find it packed with a line up on previous occasions.  This time, there was plenty of space as two tables were taken.  One table was on the other side of the restaurant and the second was in our section.  The only unfortunate part was the occupied table in our section had a baby in a stroller who would scream periodically.  Normally, this does not phase me, but this kid's screams were worse than 3 five year olds' fingernails on a chalkboard at the same time.  How on earth did this kid find a way to be that annoying at such a young age?  I do hope he grows up to have a little brother or sister to annoy with that screeching.  But this was not the restaurant's fault, it was obviously the kids.

The Works self brands as a "gourmet burger bistro." To the average customer it is a place to order a burger with a vast choosing of different topping options from simple bacon and cheese to roast mushrooms and Elvis approved peanut butter.

After arriving at the front door we were seated immediately by our waiter.  He warmly welcomed us and provided us with menus.  In less than five minutes he returned to inquire if we would like to order drinks while we continued to peruse the menus.  We ordered our drinks and did the usual "are you ready to order?" questions around the table before placing our orders.

The Order: 1 Teriyaki Melt (Sautéed wild mushrooms, teriyaki sauce & swiss cheese) with Sweet Potato Fries and glass of water, 1 Smokey Mountain (Smokey bbq sauce, jack cheese & bacon strips) with regular fries and a Pepsi and 1 Greek Goddess (Diced ripe tomatoes, minced garlic, feta cheese & oregano) with Sweet Potato Fries.

Our drinks returned quickly in the usual The Works' standard issue Anchor measuring cups by our waiter with the great voice.  I noticed as he dropped off the drinks that he was very well spoken and sounded like he could easily give directions on emergency procedures on an Air Canada flight better than the current crop of stewardesses.  He had a clear baritone voice and the knowledge on how to work the table as a waiter (e.g. welcoming the party, drinks, etc.)   Everything seemed fine until, 20 minutes after ordering, the food arrived.

My Smokey Mountain BBQ burger and my Mother-in-Laws' Teriyaki Melt were fine.  But my wife opened up her burger with a stunned look on her face.  Since when does a "Greek Godess" burger come a quite noticeable slice of avocado?  We looked around for our waiter who had disappeared to the back.  I grabbed a menu instead to make sure there was not an error made.

As we flipped through the menu, our waiter stopped by to inquire about the puzzled look on our faces. We were inquired about what toppings the Greek Goddess burger had on it.  He replied that my wife's burger was actually the Guardian Angel burger and offered to replace it.  My wife politely declined as she noted she likes the burger toppings and would try it out.  The waiter seemed satisfied and left.

My wife noted later that waiter didn't copy anything down when taking our orders.  I noted some wait staff in the past have done that as they have a good memory and a knack for serving tables.  Upon further reflection, perhaps the not writing down the order was not the issue but typing in the order was.  Alphabetically perhaps "Greek Godess" and "Guardian Angel" burgers were right next to each other on the waiter's order screen when entering it into the restaurant's computer system for the kitchen and billing purposes.  The unfortunate part in either not writing down the order or entering into the computer system correctly is we were charged an extra $1.00 for the burger ordered.  But at least the waiter offered to change the burger for us if my wife wished.

The Smokey Mountain burger came as exactly specified.  The cheese was melted over a ground beef patty and BBQ sauce with two pieces of bacon in the shape of an "X".   I bit into it, sure all the toppings were there and a quality burger experience.  My tongue though was saying something was missing.  A little ketchup maybe?  Nope, relish? Nope.  Just couldn't figure it out.  Would I order it again, sure, but with so many other burger options on the menu why just try one?  

The fries were perfect, fresh cut fries style with a decent temperature with not too much salt.  I could tell they were freshly made as the last bits of oil were still evident.  A glob of ketchup and you were good to go.

The Sweet potato fries were also excellent.  Chewy goodness that, accompanied with a spot of ketchup you were enjoying and only wanting more.

My wife's Greek Godess turned Guardian Angel burger turned out pretty well.  The avocado along with the cheese turned into an interesting gourmet experience.

My Mother-in-Law seemed to enjoy her Teriyaki melt as it slowly vamoosed from sight.

Our waiter, noticing we were finished, stopped by to do his usual speech about getting the dirty stuff out of the way and if we would like any tea or coffee.  We politely declined as we wished to start our tour of the interesting neighbourhood of Westboro.   He quickly returned with the bill and we were off.

Overall, the Works provides an interesting concept of specializing in gourmet burgers.  Wait staff though need a little training in attention to detail when entering in burgers.  At Glebe location previously, my wife and I had a somehow wrongly entered burger selection on our bill that needed fixing.  This time our waiter at the Westboro location either entered the burger wrong or ordered the wrong one with the kitchen.  There should be one ordering system that the wait staff can enter the order in, double check it and submit it to the kitchen and to the billing system in one time.  The double checking part obviously needs to be stressed.   Otherwise, the service was timely and the burgers were well done.
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