Sunday, March 09, 2014

Catch 55? More like an Odd Catch 22!

Catch 55 - English Style Fish & Chips and Hamburgers on UrbanspoonThought about checking out a restaurant for lunch I had walked by a couple of times in the Byward Market Square Building wondering if it would be any good.

Many of the restaurants in this building tend to be busy during lunch hours and on weekend during the spring and summer.  After visiting Corazon De Maize last week, I noticed that Catch 55 (55 Byward Market Square, Ottawa) had a few customers for lunch but still had a decent amount of seating space available.

I arrived at 12:30 P.M. with one customer in front of me debating what to have.  I joined her in reviewing the menu as the three employees behind the counter worked away.

In reviewing the menu listed on three flatscreen televisions mounted above the counter, I noticed there was no mention of the fish. The only thing on there was burgers, fries and poutine.  But where's the fish?  Seems as though Catch 55 is caught in a Catch 22.  You base your entire restaurant name around the idea of a "Fish Catch" but don't list fish on your menu?  There is also a noticeable lack of a good fish and chips place in the Byward Market and your business appears to fill this void but yet you don't list fish on your menu?  Many customers inquire if you still serve fish and your employees answer you still do?  There was still room on the menu layout on your television screens but nobody thought to change the Powerpoint presentation or whatever display Catch 55 uses for the menu.  Really odd.

I eventually ordered with the nice lady behind the counter.

The Order: 1 Hamburger with fries and a can of Diet Coke.

The other odd thing, all of the beverages are in the 500 ml bottles and nothing in cans except for Diet Coke.  I didn't want anything larger than a can so Diet Coke was my only option when ordering.  Odd, but I guess they think customers prefer the larger size.

The burger, fries and can of Diet Coke came to a total of $10.85 including taxes.  Really? A burger at a fast food place for $10.85? This had better be some burger and a decent amount of fries like at Five Guys Burger & Fries.

Orders were gradually moving through the cooking process.  Two customers after me the restaurant started handing out numbers to customers for their orders.  I continued to stand at the counter as the two guys in the open concept kitchen dished up their fries and burgers.   The front counter employee, who took my order, ran orders out to the tables to waiting customers.

The two gentlemen looked at me after a while standing at the front counter and inquired of my order.  Really? You have no clue?  Didn't you keep the orders in order as they came in and dish them out in sequence as they came in?  I did appreciate they were asking to make sure I had not fallen through the cracks.

They dished up my burger and fries and I was almost ready to go.  But where was the ketchup and other toppings beyond tomato, onion and lettuce for my burger.  I looked underneath the burger patty to see if they had hid the condiments there.  Nothing.

I asked the lady at the front counter who pointed me towards the baskets on the counter with ketchup, mustard, relish, salt and pepper packets.  They had one ketchup packet left but the other condiments had more available.  I took two of each and went looking for a table.

To my surprise, on most of the tables there was a small set up of ketchup and mustard in squeeze bottles and a selection of other condiments.  I guess the packets at the front counter were for take out customers.  Thus, I'm left wondering, after asking for condiments, why I was not guided to both the packets but also noted that there were ketchup and mustard squeeze bottles on the table.  Odd.

The burger and fries portion wise looked a little disappointing for the price paid.  The quantity of fries at Catch 55 could be found in a McDonald's Medium and the burger a regular nothing over the top size in terms of width or thickness.

Taste wise the burger was lacking.  The paddy did not taste fresh and was dry as it probably was overcooked.  The toppings were average quality that could have been found anywhere.  The toppings perhaps could be fresher in the summer considering the farmers' market is right at Catch 55's doorstep.  Average burger to say the least.

The fries were similar to those served up by Le Bac a Frites at the University of Ottawa.  But they were, just like the burger, overcooked and dry.  Quantity wise it was fine for the average burger.  But for the price paid, there should have been at least another scoop in quantity.

Overall, Catch 55 needs work on displaying their menu properly.  Customers typically will not order things not on the menu which should be obvious to anyone in the food business.  Disorganization at the front in taking and processing orders to the kitchen may be an issue.  Use the numbering system to work through them from 1 to 100.   This numbering system works at the larger Five Guys Burgers & Fries at Trainyards so why not implement this best practice here?  The quantity to amount paid for is also out of whack.  It might be because Catch 55 is within the Ottawa tourist trap of the Byward Market.  But for a Fish & Chip place surrounded by a lot of private and government offices, there should be an interest in receiving the reoccurring business lunch traffic.  These issues leave me thinking Catch 55 is in an odd Catch 22 situation of being situated right but inflicting many issues on themselves.
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