Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alleycatz, Cool in all the Wrong Ways – A Review

For me Winterlicious is a special time. It’s a time for me to build my repertoire of recommendations for personal and professional use. I work in an office that does events and we’re always looking for new places to host dinners. The more places I try, the more heartfelt recommendations I can make to clients and friends alike.

Last night I tried Alleycatz for the first time. I went not only for Winterlicious, but also for a friend’s birthday and to familiarize myself with an establishment in my neighbourhood. All things considered, I was excited for the evening and had high hopes. Those hopes didn’t stay high for long though, as the evening went on my issues with Alleycatz grew and grew.

Right away the service was mediocre. I didn’t feel like the waitress cared about our needs or how well she was doing her job. Good service, to me, is as important as the food. If you’re receiving bad service it throws everything off kilter because you’re focusing on mistakes and poor attitude, instead of the food and atmosphere. Maybe if the waitress had done a better job I wouldn’t have noticed how awful the food was.

As a starter I got the shrimp. They were just as mediocre as the service. They were small and weren’t especially falvourful and were served to us at a tepid temperature. Tepid became the theme of the evening as our mains quickly followed.

Half of my table got the stuffed chicken breast and the other half the braised beef short ribs. The half that got the chicken said most of their meal was cold or barely warm. They said the flavour was fine, but the fact it was cold really diminished any good impressions they got from the taste. I ordered the short ribs and was also disappointed. My beef was barely warm and most of it was fatty and gristly. It came with vegetables and mashed sweet potatoes. Most of the vegetables were cold and felt barely cooked at all. Constant attempts were made by my partner to get the waitress to bring us some salt and pepper. The beef was so bland that it needed to be drowned in salt and pepper to make it edible. The waitress never did come and my partner had to get up and fish the seasonings out of the waiters’ kiosk. I rarely add salt to my food, but even I was hogging the shaker in an attempt to save this meal. On a number of occasions I considered calling the waitress over and telling her that I couldn’t manage another mouthful and I’d be leaving without paying, but I didn’t want to spoil a friend’s birthday dinner. If I had gone with a smaller group I would have sent all the food back and left.

For dessert I ordered the fresh berry parfait, which was only tasty because of its simplicity. Berries and cream is pretty hard to ruin, even for the lamest of kitchens.

After all was eaten and paid for I was completely dejected. I had been the one to suggest we try this establishment and I felt ashamed for coming to a place with no taste. There was only one thing that went well and that was the live music. The jazz band they had was superb. Carlos, the lead singer, sounded like a mixture of Matt Dusk and Michael Bublé.

If I ever return to Alleycatz it will be to sit at the bar and enjoy the music. The food was disappointingly cool, but the music was hot.

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