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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In case you haven't heard, Super Tuesday was last Tuesday and everybody's most disliked presidential candidate, Donald Trump, did very well. He didn't do as well as predicted, but he did well enough that he is now officially taken the lead for the Republican nomination. While the Republicans struggle to find some way of stopping Mr. Trump, many Americans worry about the future of their country. As a result, many Americans have been thinking about moving to Canada.
While similar statements were made when marijuana and gay marriage was legalized, "How to move to Canada" spiked 1000% on Google after last Super Tuesday. In fact, the Nova Scotia tourism website got more traffic in a single day then it did all last year and the Canadian immigration website was having difficulties handling all the traffic, so it seems that a lot of people are wondering if they should move to Canada.
As a Canadian I feel it is my duty to highlight some of the reasons why somebody – particularly an American – should consider moving to Canada.
Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the glockenspiel that once stood in downtown Regina. I had fond memories of the glockenspiel as a child and was sad when they took it down to renovate the park. I was even more sad when they didn't put it back up, and I was angry when I discovered it was sitting in a junkyard (sorry, outdoor "storage facility") for the past ten years. That article got a lot of attention, from both the public, the city and the press. Today, efforts are being made to restore the bell back to its original location.
I'm telling you this because preserving heritage – may it be a 25-year-old bell, or a fourth century building – is important. Without heritage, we lose who we are. Often, the desire to move society forward steps over the heritage and causes it to get lost. As impressive as tall glass buildings might be, nothing is better than a smoky red brick structure.
Saskatchewan is beginning to realize how important this is – and thankfully it's happening now and not in a few decades after everything is gone. But, our neighbours have been on the heritage preservation band train for several years now, especially in Alberta.
If you're visiting Alberta this summer, you probably have your heart set on visiting the mountains. After all, places like Lake Louise, Banff, Waterton and now Castle Provincial Park are some of the most beautiful sites in Canada, and they're always a hit on Instagram (if you're into that kind of thing). But, between Regina and the mountains is a whole province with plenty of sights to explore.
Last year I took more trips than I could count to southern Alberta, but most of them ended near Medicine Hat. Had I gone a bit further, I would have found myself in a myriad of attractions to see, from historical museums to sites of natural disasters and just about everything in-between.
For those looking to make a few stops on their way to the Rocky Mountains, or for those who are just looking for an Alberta road trip, here are six attractions you must visit while in southern Alberta.