I rarely give a bad review of a restaurant. I try my best to always give companies and restaurants the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes things don't happen exactly as they should in the kitchen, and as somebody who is culinary challenged, I totally understand this.
But, a restaurant isn't just about food. It's also about class.
I recently had a negative online interaction with Jack Keaton's. This past year I've been working to partner with different companies around the city to not only help finance my blog but also promote local or interesting destinations. One place I reached out to was Jack Keaton's. I emailed them in July to see if they were interested in working with me and I sent them my analytics, my pricing and some examples of my work. They emailed me back and said they were interested but busy and would let me know their final decision mid-August.
Flash forward three months and any follow-up emails I've sent to them, including social media messages, have all but been ignored. I am fine with being told no, but to be told yes and then ignored is what kids these days refer to as "ghosting". After months of waiting for a reply, I opted to leave a negative recommendation on their Facebook page. In my review I stated that the location has good food and a great atmosphere, but the owners were frustrating to work with.
And, wow. I might as well have asked PETA their thoughts towards barbequed pulled chicken. Not only did I get a lashing reply that disclosed the content of our emails, but they insulted and cursed at me. Shortly after I would get berated by a "follower" of the company on my Facebook page for several hours. Is this how a company treats criticism?
One could argue that the actions of their followers do not reflect the business, but the precedent they set in their response tells their followers that that kind of attitude is somehow appropriate. When a customer criticises your business, you never point your finger back at them, regardless of the reason.
Yet, that's what Jack Keaton's did. Among the cursing and finger pointing, they challenged me to "get off your ass, come see me and quit whining".
I have never been invited to a restaurant like that before, so that's what I did.
Although they opened at 11 in the morning, I've worked in restaurants before and I know it takes awhile to get the kitchen moving. I decided it would be best to give them at least a half hour after opening before I arrived.
When I visited Jack Keaton's before, I remembered the restaurant having a rustic, cottage-like atmosphere. Thankfully, the interior decorators realised that American frontier cowboys aren't the only ones that like to barbeque and have modernised their decore.
One of my other memories of the restaurant was the absolute appalling service. Fortunately, the waitress that greeted me was not only helpful, but very knowledgeable and professional. She recommended different items, told me about desserts and checked in on me from time to time.
For something to eat, I opted to try their Pulled Pork Chicken Melt special for $14. I also ordered a glass of water, which came in a quaint mason jug. This was a nice touch and a subtle throwback to the rustic underlying theme to the restaurant.
When the sandwich arrived, I was a little disappointed by its size. For $14 I would expect a sandwich larger than a toddler's foot. I was also put off that most of the plate was covered in French fries. I ordered a pulled chicken melt with a side of fries, not the other way around. The fact it was on a tapas plate was strange too. I understand the smaller plate was to make the dish look bigger, but if I'm spending $14 on food, I want it to feel like I'm eating $14 worth of food.
The melt tasted fine – nothing too exciting – but the fries were disappointing. Some people like their fries over done, but I do not. But, as somebody who has made fries for about two and a half collective years of my life, I have a good idea of what happened. Over the weekend they probably switched over the oil in the vats, and as this was one of the first batches of fries to cook in the fresh oil, it took longer for them to get their signature brown crisp. By the time they crisped up, they were overcooked.
It wasn't the end of the world, but with most of my dish being fries, it dampened the culinary experience.
Before I left the waitress asked if I wanted dessert. I didn't even know they had dessert, so of course I did! I ordered a pumpkin spice cheesecake, and it was, by far, the best part of the meal. The cake was soft and delicious, and the crust was firm, but not too hard. There was enough pumpkin spice to remind me that it was October, but not enough to make me wish it was November. The whip-cream also appeared to have been made in-house and was light as a feather. It was topped by a green leaf which I chose not to eat.
The waitress told me the cheesecake was for a limited time only, and once it sold out, they would make a different cake. This is too bad since the cake was the only thing I would return for.
The meal came to $20, plus a tip since the waitress was fantastic. It was a good meal, but the price didn't justify the quality. I left the restaurant hungry, but I didn't have the budget to go anywhere else.
The owner told me to come see him when I visited the restaurant, so I took a quick glance around the space before I left. I didn't see him, but even if I did, I'm not sure what's left to be said. I was happy that the service had improved, and that the decor had been updated, but I was disappointed in the food quality and the pricing. It was okay, but nothing spectacular. After my encounter with the business owner, and my disappointing visit to the location, my earlier remarks still stand: good food and good atmosphere, but you're better to spend your time somewhere else.
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.
A few articles ago I listed Ogema as one of the top destinations to visit in Saskatchewan. Immediately after I wrote the article, I put my money where my mouth was and booked a weekend trip to Ogema for my girlfriend and me. I figured it wouldn't be fair to my readers to recommend a place for them to visit without actually visiting it myself, and after getting my new Galaxy S7 from TELUS I figured I needed a reason to test it out.
Earlier this year I took my Galaxy S6 to La Ronge, and had very little coverage. I wanted to use Facebook's new Live Video option, but I couldn't get enough service to even send a text message. I was pretty disappointed by the coverage with that provider, so I was interested to see how TELUS' network was in Ogema.
The result was pretty darn good! We streamed Spotify all the way there, were able to do a Live Video from the Deep South Pioneer Museum and took some really great pictures and videos of the trip. It also helped to have a reliable network when I got lost driving there (don't ask me how!). TELUS has invested over $29 billion into their network since 2000 and it has really paid off. It's a great feeling knowing that no matter where you travel, you can rely on TELUS to keep you connected.
I've wanted to visit the Battlefords in Saskatchewan for a few years now. As somebody who loves history, just to visit a city that once housed the capital of the North-West Territories is reason enough. I'm sure I've passed through the city when I was younger, but I've never had the chance to explore it as an adult.
My interest in both cities grew when I was doing research for my 2017 article, "6 Saskatchewan Cemeteries to Visit This October". One individual I interviewed for the article was Don Light of the North-West Historical Society. Light was tasked with the sensitive job of moving about eighty graves within The Battleford Cemetery. Relocating graves is always the last option when it comes to a cemetery, but in this case, they had no choice. The Battleford Cemetery sits on the edge the North Saskatchewan River, and the banks of the cemetery were slowly eroding. Had the graves been left undisturbed, headstones, monuments and caskets would start falling into the roaring river below.
Light and I had an excellent chat that day and he told me many fascinating stories about what they found when they were moving the graves. Some of the graves he had to move were Metis graves, all while under the supervision of police and Indigenous professionals. Many of these caskets had rotted and were open, and they found a plethora of Roman Catholic crosses and First Nation beadwork, a sign of traditional Metis culture.