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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I don't often take blog requests, but a friend approached me recently and asked about Venice. He's traveling to Italy for a wedding this summer and is stopping in Venice for few days. He asked me if I knew what he could do in the Floating City, so I racked up a list of ten things for him to see.
Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if I missed anything, what your favorite thing to see in Venice was, or if you plan to go visit Venice after reading this!
The following is a guest article by Sally Elbassir, the owner and food taster of Passport and Plates, originally titled "The Tapas, Taverns and History of Madrid: A Food Tour". Be sure to drop by her blog for culinary treats from around the world!
I've always been a foodie. Long before the term "foodie" ever existed, I was that kid who was always eager to try something new.
Things haven't changed much in the last couple of decades. My palate has expanded, and I discovered that my dream job does exist; it just happens to be occupied by Anthony Bourdain. Now I satisfy my foodie obsession by writing on Yelp, and on my blog... there's plenty more where that came from.
If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.