This one was tough to get to, between finding parking on a Friday night, to actually locating the restaurant. In fact, in my confusion we entered a completely different establishment trying to claim my gifted groupon. We left as the groupon was the only reason we were trying to get into the “Brasserie” in the first place. By looks alone this wasn’t a restaurant I would come to on my own accord, and pay to dine at my own money. But once again I was given a groupon totaling $40 and I was not going to let it go to waste. Free is free to me.
It was located in the aged, three star “Coast Plaza Hotel and Suites”. A hotel I had once visited for a business meeting and decided I would never like to stay at. It just isn’t to my taste, I prefer my hotels modern and a lot more contemporary. This was outdated in decor and feeling.
Despite the use of a groupon deal to advertise their restaurant and potentially drum up more business, they clearly didn’t want diners from the outside visiting in. There were no signs advertising their location and no sandwich boards calling any attention. Heck we had a hard enough time getting here, and we intended to dine here. They were missing the large possibility of walk ins. Only the hotel’s sports bar is mentioned with both a back lit sign and sandwich board facing traffic. So there was no surprise it was the much busier of the two.
You enter through the lobby and are directed by the concierge. This Friday and every Friday they have an all you can eat prime rib buffet for $30. Looking at the set up of olives and a few salads, two covered entrees under metal, and a slab of prime rib under dual heat lamps this would be something we rather pass. And we weren’t the only ones, the other guests at three other tables also ordered off the regular menu as well. In my opinion the servers could have done a better job promoting the special and really selling us diners on the deal.
The dining room was seated with mature patrons, folks that were dressed casually, and seemed to have all the time in the world. My guess is that they were on vacation and staying at the hotel. This was not what I expected or was looking forward to on this date night. Knowing my partner’s pension for the finer things, and the effort he put into grooming himself tonight, he would echo my impression. Being French Canadian he was also immediately hung up on the name of the place. For him “Brasserie” referred to a “brewery” and, by extension, “the brewing business”. Though it was the other definition that was in use here. “A type of French restaurant with a relaxed setting, serving single dishes and other meals. It can be expected to have professional service, printed menus, and, traditionally, white linens.” This was taken off Wikipedia after a debate on the definition ensued.
The restaurant was very out dated; it was typical of an older hotel. The same floral print that patterned the booths lined each chair cushion. No white linens, instead a faux marble table top, with beige reusable napkins. Off white walls, dim orange bulbs, and grey photos in black frames did little to perk up the generic nature of the room.
The staff on shift were very friendly. Uniformed in black with gold name tags, they were welcoming in the most casual of ways. They were inviting, making every effort to engage us in banter. And like their clientele they too were more mature. My only grievance was not being able to reach them by phone after five attempted redials. I left foolish now looking around the empty room thinking we needed reservations.
The kitchen remained relatively quiet. I watched their slow pace and the team of three remain calm. With a lack of traffic and an abundance of time they could have put more effort into their cuisine, and I wished it showed more. The head chef made an appearance in the dining room. Standing by the buffet set up he stared down at the barely touched prime rib. I felt bad, they obviously put effort into their preparation and now it would go unenjoyed. This succulent and impressive piece of meat. Unfortunately everything had to be taken down 15 minutes later when the buffet ended at 9:30pm. Luckily his feelings were salvaged when the guest next to our table was heard raving about her full order of ribs; it would be a similar case for us. Though when it came time for us to eat, the chef’s presence in the dining room was intimidating. I felt like I had to eat with a smile or at least verbalized one “yum”. Though it was nice to see that he cared enough to check in on all his diners from a far.
The finger bowl with lemon and the side of ketchup for our ribs and fries came first. Half order of “braised baby back ribs” with maple BBQ sauce, Asian slaw, and fries. The ribs were good, meaty bites that easily pulled off the bone with a forked tug. The sauce was caramelized sweet from the maple syrup and spicy from the BBQ rub. Though the latter out shone the former and I would have liked more maple syrup flavouring. The fries were nothing special and the coleslaw tasteless. Both could have used salt to taste and some vinegar to kick. As a whole this was a decent plate at a decent price.
“Pancetta and chèvre stuffed and baked chicken breast” served with seasonal vegetables, a buttered sweet pea rice, and shallot jus. The plate looked homemade. An effort was made in presentation, separating each element, but the sloppy gravy and the spilled rice made things look clumsy. The chicken breast was oddly sliced, unevenly into three prices. Neither of which were stuffed, instead the pancetta and goat cheese filling was slathered on top. Both were what gave the chicken it’s taste. The generous amount of gravy was needed as it gave the dry white meat some moisture. I was rudely surprised on several occasions with shards of bone in my chicken breast. Alarming as it could have chipped a tooth or caused me to choke. The balsamti rice was my favourite element. A light rice that tempered all that was going on with the chicken, and I really just like peas. The boiled veggies needed some salt and some peppering, I guess that’s why salt and pepper shakers are at each table.
The washrooms were an inconvenient trek out of the restaurant and into the hotel’s lobby. Pleasantly chocolates came with the bill. Our tab was $36 which our $40 covered, we were only charged tax and we gave our tip.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This hotel needed some love. An update, some remodeling, some work to breath new life into the building. And the same could be said about the “Brasserie”. I liked the care from the chef and the casual service from the staff, but was let down by how unspectacular the food was. If it weren’t for my groupon I would have never thought to visit the restaurant, and if it weren’t free I would have left upset. Instead I have now tried and know I won’t be back for seconds. Don’t deny your cravings.