Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Neck tattoos and boogers.

I like food. 

Well, I like food that I like. I'm not so big on food I don't like.

There are so many wonderful restaurants in Winnipeg. I've heard that Wpg is the test market for pretty much every single new product/ restaurant chain in Canada. I believe it.

There is a restaurant every twenty feet in this city. Most of them are awesome. Some are terrible.

I'll talk about my favourite restaurant EVER now, with the reasons I love it.

I love Casa Grande.  Casa Grande Pizzeria on Urbanspoon It's a hole-in-the-wall on Wall St. and Sargeant Ave. It's Italian, and it's good.
It's really good. In fact, I don't think I've ever eaten anything on their menu that wasn't tasty. Mind you, I always order 1 of 3 things, so maybe I'm biased. But I'll tell you what, if you order the cream sauce pasta with mushrooms, you'll never finish and you'll not regret it.

My husband and I love to go there (when we can get away from our children), have apps, dinner and spumoni ice cream for dessert. So tasty. Then there is the 'decor'. It's old, it's faded, it's dark, and it makes me comfortable. It's not dirty, it's honest. The 'mama' who works there (I'm sure she's an owner), once came out and shouted at D and I to finish our dinner.

That might sound strange to some, but I like it. We saw a big table coming, and I knew they'd need our table, so we were going to scoot and make room. Next thing I knew, a 60 year old little Italian lady was pushing me back down into my chair and saying. "Nonono, you eat. You eat. Finish your dinner. I bring you some ice cream. You like our ice cream everytime- yes?"

So, I sat, because when someone tells you to eat ice cream, I think a good rule is to just eat the ice cream.

Rae & Jerry's Steakhouse on UrbanspoonNow, a restaurant I don't like? Easy. Rae and Jerry's Steakhouse. It's not good. It's not good at all. In fact, I'll go so far as to say downright gross. I only went once, with two of my friends, and I can say with almost complete certainty, NONE of us will ever go back.

The only thing that we got that tasted 'okay' was the steak. And you can get a decent steak most any place these days. But it was HOLY crap expensive. Which I don't mind- if I am getting good food. I will gladly pay through my nose for delicious food. I only get crabby when I get crap food at overly inflated prices. The Keg has better food than this place (and I think the Keg is pretty crap too).

Okay, the Keg isn't 'bad' but, it's QSM food. There is a HUGE, huge difference between QSM (which is basically tableside fast food), and fine dining. Fine dining, or home cooked taste, is where I am at. But I've discovered that people who think the Keg (or Applebee's, Moxies, Earls, Joeys) is 'good food', well, those people have never had REALLY good food. They just like the decor at the QSM restaurants.

Which is the point. Most of these chain restaurants spend several hundred thousand dollars to make themselves look as 'upscale' as possible, then they hire 1 good, well trained Chef, nationwide, to design their menu. But the restaurant YOU are eating at, it's usually some 20 yr old guy with neck tattoos (if this guy is hard then I'd rather be soft) and an eyebrow piercing making the 'Goat Cheese and Spinach Dip with Mango Chutney Puree and Toast points' that you paid $20 for. And he picked his nose just now. Enjoy that image next time you visit a chain restaurant.

I laugh at you. I'm sorry, but I do. I've worked in so many restaurants, and I know that in order to maintain standards, every single thing you eat at a "big Chain" restaurant comes out of a packet. It's reheated, 90% of the time. But that doesn't make it 'bad'. I don't mind some of the stuff at Earls. I just happen to know that you'll get a better product, with better flavours, better ingredients at a smaller restaurant- and that's almost always true.

Not every 'small' restaurant is good though, some cut corners. Well, lots cut corners. If you want the skinny on the best restaurant in the city, don't ask people who call themselves 'foodies'- they don't know what the back of the house REALLY looks like. Ask waitresses, bartenders and food service reps where THEY like to eat. You'll never be disappointed again.

So, from one food lover to another. Stop thinking YOU know what good food is, and ask someone who actually knows.


  1. I pretty much agree with your review on R & J, except most waiters, bartenders and worst of all "food reps" don't know anything about good food that's why their waiters, bartenders, and "food reps" and No you can't get good steak "just about anywhere" (that comment bothered me,when people say that I start to wonder) Most of it comes from "food reps" is wet aged, frozen, cryovac monkey meat... I know good food because I cook it, and if you get a hold of a good steak u better not be grilling on gas and you won't find it at Safeway/Sobeys or worse. I'm going to try Casa Granda and see if you know of what u speak.

  2. Ah, but then see, you've missed what I said, I didn't say "a good steak".... I said 'decent'.... Which is a far cry from good. And I said WHERE food reps eat- NOT what they sell. Cryo-vacced meat is never a good call. I buy my meats from organic co-ops, from the butcher and occasionally from the Hutterites... Never do I buy from my food rep friends (though they are all nice people). But service reps see the inside of the kitchen, and they're slightly better able to judge which chefs use quality product, and who use stock base, better than the average joe at any ate.


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