Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Eastern hidden gem in the West end

Instead of heading out and trying somewhere new tonight we decided to hit an old favorite. Pho Red Mango is a hidden gem located in the West end of Windsor. You can find it in Ambassador Plaza right on Huron Church Road hidden in the middle of a strip mall between a rent-to-own place and a walk in law firm.

The Most Famous Beef Noodle Soup
Pho Red Mango (or maybe it's just Pho Mango, the sign skips the Red, the etched glass skips the Red but it's still on the menu, so I'm not sure) is an authentic Thai/Vietnamese noodle shop. Their logo shows a rather happy looking cook with a bowl full of noodles with the words "The Most Famous Beef Noodle Soup"

The place looks a bit small from the outside but is rather large inside. It reminds me a bit of a banquet hall. Lots of six seater tables down the middle with a few booths near the windows and a few four seaters up by the bar. Every table is numbered and on each you will find a set up with a selection of soup spoons, chop sticks, and sauces I haven't had the guts to try yet.

Fresh BBQ Beef Rolls App.
The menu is extensive. It starts with three types of soups each of which is available in several variations. There's Pho (Vietnamese beef rice noodle soup), Bo Kho (clear egg noodles, wanton & stewed beef) and spicy Thai (rice noodles, eggplant, tofu, beans, mushrooms and bamboo). The soups are followed on the menu with noodle bowls, a few rice dishes and then a selection of Thai dishes including both red and green curries. They also have a desert selection and serve bubble teas and fruit shakes. Prices on all the dishes are very reasonable, with most dishes hovering around $10 with nothing reaching past $13

Rice Combination Platter
My wife decided we should start off with some Fresh BBQ Beef rolls ordered as an appetizer and also got herself a small Rare Beef & Well Done Beef Pho bowl. I'm personally addicted to the Rice Combination Platter and that's what I ordered. It's $9.95 and you pick any three sides that can include Grilled Chicken, Grilled Beef, Pork Chop, Spring rolls or Fried Egg. It also includes a small cup of soup and dipping sauce. For an extra $2 you can upgrade your rice to Fried Rice, something I strongly suggest, and I totally forgot to do. Thankfully the service was awesome tonight and they had no problem making me a side plate of Fried Rice once I realized my mistake.

Small, yes Small Rare Beef Pho

I noted my wife got the Small beef noodle soup. Small. As in not big. Look at that bowl there to the left! That's a small, $5.95 Vietnamese Beef Rice Noodle Soup. I didn't even get a shot of the sprouts, lime, basil leaves and hot pepper she also received to put in there if she wanted to.

For the kids we got a second Rice Combination Platter. Usually we get them the Rice Vermicelli Combo with Vegetables. That's like the Rice Combo where you pick what you want on it and it comes with soup and sauce. It's a bit cheaper and they love dipping the noodles in the sauce. The problem is that they love dipping the noodles in the sauce. That never goes very well as far as keeping their clothes and the immediate area clean. So we went with a second Rice Combo this time around. I wish we had gotten the noodles though, just so I could get a picture to show you all how fantastic it looks.

My Fried Rice side
As is usual for Pho Red Mango we had great service. I was extremely pleased with them being more than willing to cook me up a Fried Rice Side after I realized I ordered the wrong thing. Oh right, I didn't mention that yet. This is something odd here. Maybe it's a standard Pho thing, it's not like I've tried lots of Pho places, but you fill out your bill yourself. You write down the quantity of what you want, the item number and any options. In this case I forgot to write down the "sub fried rice" and $2 in the cost column.

I'm a huge fan of Pho Red Mango. I first tried it with people from work and have been going back pretty regularly since. They have fantastic food at a fantastic price. I've yet to have a bad meal there. Not that I've tried it yet but they also have take out for those who prefer to eat at home. Now I know that this style of food isn't for everyone, but if you like this style of Asian food at all I strongly suggest you check out this Eastern hidden gem out in the West end.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Went back to Terra Cotta tonight and it changed

As a special treat for getting past a milestone at work, my wife arranged for another night out without the kids (I know we are getting spoiled). Being the smart girl she is, she remembered that it was two for one night at Terra Cotta. So we headed there after dropping off the kids.

I'm sure you are currently thinking: "What another review of Terra Cotta? You just did one." Yes, yes I did, it's right here in case you missed it: Why did it take me so long to try Terra Cotta? See the thing is, things changed in the few short weeks since we had been there.

My Wife's LaBlonda Pizza
First off you will note they got a new better looking logo, even if it is just a shot of the sign outside. That wasn't enough for me to be writing you now though. The menu changed. Not a lot but enough to make it worth mentioning. The biggest and most disappointing change was that they removed the Crostino. That's the cheese and topping covered fresh made crouton thing that the menu said had been a staple there for years and that I suggested you all try. I thought this was one of the big draws of Terra Cotta over other local Stone Oven Pizza places in the city.

Immediately upon seeing this I asked our waitress about it and she did in fact confirm that it is off the menu.  She went on to explain that the problem was that people were ordering it as an appetizer instead of a meal (it was in the appetizer section) and that it takes longer to cook than an actual pizza and that people who ordered it as an app were getting frustrated by how long their meals were taking. Now the one cool thing is that she offered to get us any Crostino we wanted right then and there, which is awesome but not good for anyone who doesn't know about the secret not on the menu items.
My Sausage, Pep, Cheddar and Prosciutto Pizza

Oh well, I guess things change and there isn't much we can do about it. Or maybe we can, maybe you can all go in and ask where the Crostino is and maybe they will put it back on the menu, and maybe they will put it in some place other than with the appetizers. I'm sure that would be a bit much though.

All that said, our meal was great, our food was awesome and we will be going back. I'm not sure if I mentioned it in the past post but Tuesdays are two for one pizza. Wednesdays are also two for one if you are a student with a valid student card. You can't beat that. Our entire meal that included a pitcher of beer and two 7" gourmet pizzas was only $33 before tip.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Found somewhere new for breakfast

Great photo used with permission from Eyes on Windsor
We had big plans today. Today was the day I take the kids to HighJinks in reward for a good report card for my oldest. Before that though we needed groceries. Even before that, we needed breakfast. That's where Matter of Taste bar & grill comes in.

I first heard about Matter of Taste on the Eyes on Windsor blog, where I read a rather positive review. I've been meaning to try it for a couple weeks and it worked out that this morning it fit in with our plans fine. So we headed over to 1158 Lauzon Rd. Now I knew that this place replaced Thai Palace which has moved across the road, but it was still a bit of a shock seeing it. It just looked odd. Thai Palace has been in that spot as long as I can remember. Most noticeable about the place was the big Now Open sign and a sign out front looking for a Broasted Chicken cook.

Photo from windsoriteDOTca's Pinterest account.
We went in after finding the proper door (the place has like 4 doors leading into it only one of which is the actual door, all the others have signs and arrows pointing you to the real door). Inside the place was kind of odd looking but inviting. It was obvious that the space used to be a couple of different places, where an arch had been put in a wall between them making this place larger. The thing is that each of the spaces was done up in a totally different style. The first half had a Thai style arch and white walls and lots of large tables, the second half was all stonework with a huge bar and wine on the walls. There were a couple of big screen TVs on the stonework side one of which was just on one of those Cogeco music channels. It was kind of like the place wasn't sure if it was a Dinner, Family Restaurant, Fine Dining with a huge Wine Selection or Bar & Grill. As I said it was a bit odd.

I love places with kids menus with activities on them
We were seated quickly and given menus, which included kids menus with activities. The kids were each given their own individual box of crayons and immediately went to work coloring. The menu was one of those, home cooking we have everything you could want kind of deals. The kind you have seen in family restaurants for years. You know, the usual mix of burgers and chicken, hot and cold sandwhiches, a selection of Italian favourites and, the requisite seafood section. The seemed to be really pushing the Broasted Chicken which had a section all it's own. Prices were all extremely reasonable with most of the items being under $10 and the most expensive item topping out at $15 for a Fisherman's Platter. The kids menu is fantastic, for only $4.99 you get the choice of 8 items that aren't all junk food and that $5 includes a drink and desert as well as a pick from the Toy Chest (I haven't seen one of those since Big Boy).

Look at the size of these kids "silver dollar" pancakes!
Well we were here for breakfast so my wife and I ordered omelets and we got the kids silver dollar pancakes. You know silver dollar pancakes right. Those small little discs of cooked batter. Do you see that picture there on the left? That's what we got, for one of them. We had two plates this full. For $5 with a drink and desert and a toy!

It didn't take long at all for our food to come. Though we were served pancakes with no syrup and I had to steal silverware off another table or we wouldn't have been able to eat. I also hadn't received a re-fill on my empty coffee yet. Oh that reminds me. The coffee was good. Not great but good. For some reason it seems like, lately, no where has decent coffee anymore with breakfast. I know awesome places with awesome food where I never finish more than one cup of coffee. Matter of Taste did not have this problem.

My Farmer's Omelet
Where was I? Oh right the food itself. I was extremely happy with my Farmer's Omelet. It was one of the best omelets I've had in a long time. Ham, bacon and sausage along with hash browns folded into three eggs with marbled cheese on top. Toast on the side. That's it there on the left. Now my wife grabbed a Spinach & Swiss Omelet made with just egg whites. It looked fantastic, but she was sad to report it was just okay. Not bad, not good, but okay.

Overall our trip to the Matter of Taste Bar and Grill was a pretty good experience. The place has an odd look and doesn't seem to know what exactly it is or wants to be. The service wasn't the best and my wife found her food to only be okay. That was all completely offset by one of the best omelets I've ever had and the amazing deal and treat this was for the kids. I think we've found a new place for breakfast.