Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eating up the Hill: Pizza Hut Lunch Buffet

Not every Pizza Hut offers the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. But those that do are magnificent. Luckily, the one in Ottawa on Bank Street, south of Walkley is about a 20-minute bus ride away so I don't visit too often. Otherwise, it could be dangerous.

I did make a mid-week visit during my staycation, however. It was surprisingly busy for the middle of the week, with nearly everyone taking advantage of the lunch buffet. I was surprised though that the party nearest me was ordering off the menu -- takes all kinds, I suppose.

But for my money, there is no better meal in town than the Pizza Hut lunch buffet. For not much money, you get unlimited pizza, salad, pasta, pasta salad, breadsticks, and desert pizza. There are usually four kinds of pizza on offer, including always one vegetarian. There's usually pepperoni, meat lover's or Canadian, and sometimes Hawaiian. My bill came to $14.55 for the buffet, a pop, tax and tip.

The key to success is how often they refresh the pizza on offer, as it can often go fast. And if you end up on the wrong cycle, other folks can clean it out before you're ready to go back up. So you do need some strategy to keep an eye on things and time your trips up.

I usually skip the salad and the breadsticks -- I'll get my bread from the pizza, thank you -- and only take a smattering of pasta salad. For me, it's all about the Pizza. And while some dislike Pizza Hut's pan pizza, I've always been a fan. It tends to be pricy though, so the buffet is great value.

There's also the desert pizza -- usually apple and cherry -- and often the dough bits with cinnamon and icing. I find the latter doughy and lacking in taste, but I do try to save room for the desert pizza. Strange thing though: while I eat pizza with my hands (like one should) I always use a fork and knife on desert pizza. I don't know, just feels like I should.

I mean, we do live in a society, am I right?

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Eating up the Hill: Chicken Tandoori Kabob at Afghani Kabob Express

I was first introduced to the cuisine of Afghanistan during the last nomination cycle, as an Afghan restaurant in Scarborough became one of our regular post-canvass meal destinations. I enjoyed it and, since I moved to Ottawa, Afghani Kabob Express at Bank and Lisgar has been a regular dinner stop.

There is a lot of similarity between different Middle Eastern and even South Asian cuisines. Grilled meat, sometimes ground and formed, usually grilled as a kabob, with rice, salad and naan bread. Usually it's only the spice pallet that differs. With Afghan food, you also get a thicker, much breadier naan than other cuisines -- for example, the thin naan of most Indian restaurants or the pita of a Lebanese restaurant. I think I probably prefer the thinner naan, but the Afghan naan is a nice change once and awhile.

While I enjoy the chicken and beef shami kabobs -- ground meat spiced and formed into a kabob and grilled -- my go-to has become the Chicken Tandoori Kabob. For $13.99, you get a generous portion of grilled chicken breast chunks, marinated and cooked in a tandori spice. You can pay an upgrade to a fancier rice -- with shaved carrots and raisins -- but I prefer the regular rice. The salad is just OK -- lettuce, tomato, onions and dressing -- but I'll eat my vegetables to get to the delicious chicken.

It's excellent value and I always leave stuffed, sometimes with leftovers, and usually don't manage to finish all of the bready naan. And the meat is always cooked fresh when you order. And for those for whom it matters, all the meat is halal.

If I have one note, it's that I think they look at me and think I can't handle my spice. It never occurred to me until I attended an Iftar dinner (held by Muslims during Ramadan to celebrate breaking the day's fast) catered by Afghani Kabob Express, at which the Chicken Tandoori Kabob was much spicier than what I usually have. And deliciously so.

So next time, I'll have to ask them to give me the regular spice.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eating up the Hill: Chimichanga at Pancho Villa

Since we're in the summer, I'll venture a little outside a few-block radius of Parliament Hill for my food blogging. Today's entry took me to Elgin and Frank for a holiday visit to Pancho Villa for some Mexican food.

It being a pleasant day, I decided to sit on the patio and was invited to seat myself, and was brought a menu. They have a good variety of Tex-Mex options but I quickly decided to go with my favourite Mexican go-to: a Chimichanga. During my last tour in Ottawa, I used to love the Chimichangas at Mexicala Rosa's, who are sadly no longer with us. And as I don't care for beans, it's a good beanless option.

Diners have a choice of chicken, beef or vegetarian filling, and the Chimichanga is served with Mexican rice and salad and topped with their Chimichanga red sauce, for $14.95. I usually go for the chicken, but decided to break with pattern and get the beef this time.

I'll start with the sides. The salad was fine. Just fine. Lettuce, tomato, shaved carrot, dressing. Nothing fancy. The rice, also, was just fine. Could have used more seasoning, as it was seasoned, but barely noticeably so. And it was just rice. They could have tossed something in.

The Chimichanga itself was reasonably good. I was impressed that it was real pulled beef, so points for that. However, while the beef was plentiful, it was dry and could have been hotter. The sauce was very necessary. There also wasn't much else in there besides the beef.

It was the service though that left me with the most negative impression. I ordered a glass of water and a Coke, which came relatively promptly. Not huge glasses, but that's fine if they're prompt with the refills. But they weren't. Half way through the meal, I'm out of beverages and getting parched. They weren't that busy, but no checks if I needed anything. I moved the empty cups to the edge of the table, still nothing. People around me drinking beer got prompt asks for re-orders however.

Finally, after clearly being done my meal for five minutes, they came to get my empty plate. I asked for the cheque, and refills. At this point, they indicated they don't offer free refills on pop. Which is just ridiculous. They charge $2.25 for a small cup of fountain pop and don't offer refills? Completely out of line with market norms.

The food was reasonably priced but not well-executed and the service was a miss -- anyone can have a bad day though, and they may do better on a future visit. But charging for refills on fountain pop is just stupid.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers