Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Staxx for brunch!

On a blustery autumn morning, we made our way down to Staxx Burger, Chicken and Waffle House. We had heard rumours of a bountiful all you can Sunday brunch. The rumours weren't wrong.
Pic from http://www.hamiltonbusiness.com/
We were the first in the doors at 11 a.m. (the door was actually unlocked for us!).  We were greeted by one of the owners with a smile and cheer.  We were immediately brought brewed coffee.  It was nothing to write home about, but it was of a fine strength and brewed well.

Cajun spice dusted chips
Right after ordering, we were brought amazing homemade chips, taken up a level by being dusted with Cajun spice. They were perfectly crispy and had a great burn that hit 20 seconds after you are done eating. We thought this treat to be indicative of great service - which it was - however, since our brunch took 30 minutes to hit our table, feeding us chips was a great way to keep us happy until the main event.
All-you-can-eat brunch, with the meat left off, by request
Ms. HitH ordered the all-you-can-eat brunch, which featured your choice of eggs, hash browns, sausage and bacon, and, of course, waffles.  She decided to try the eggs benedict.  Given her vegetarian leanings, she asked not to have the bacon and sausage.  After the order went to the kitchen, the owner came back to ask if she wanted the peameal on my eggs.  When she said she was going to give it to Mr. HitH, he said they would be happy to just put it on his plate.  That is impressive service.  The hash browns were crispy, but could have been improved with some of the cajun spice put on the chips. The eggs benedict was, of course, served on a waffle instead of toast.  It is an interesting change.  The waffle is much spongier which makes a tremendous change in the texture of the dish - and not for the better, in our opinion. However, the indents in the waffles are perfect for soaking up egg yolk from the perfectly poached eggs and hollandaise.  We found the hollandaise bland, but we do have to take into account that we asked for the peameal to be removed, which would definitely affect the saltiness.  The waffles were perfection.  We were happy to pay extra for real maple syrup and it is so worth it.  Their waffles are just a touch sweet, cooked to just the right crispness and worth the trip.
All-you-can-eat brunch with chicken added

Mr. HitH also got the all-you-can-eat and then added all you can eat fried chicken for $2.00.  Instead of eggs benedict, he had scrambled eggs. They were not the most dleicious of breakfast eggs, and were in fact rather flat and uninspriing. He found the sausage and bacon to be prepared well and perfectly adequate additions to the meal, he enjoyed his waffles - but he was in heaven when he got to his fried chicken.  The chicken at Staxx is so well made. The crispy coating crunches in perfect harmony with the moist chicken underneath. It comes with buffalo style hot sauce that we have been told, on previous visits, is housemade and we both find it delicious. The entire dish is perfectly conceived and executed. Mr. HitH is also happy to report that he has, he believes, come up with the optimal way to consume Staxx's chicken. Here are his instructions.:
  • First drench your chicken in maple syrup. 
  • A pool of maple syrup will form on your plate. Allow the syrup to soak into your chicken for at least 2 minutes. 
  • Then, rip apart your chicken,re-dipping into the maple syrup and then give a quick dip into the hot sauce. 
    • Do not over soak in the hot sauce. That would result into a mouthful that is all heat, no sweet. 
Fried chicken and hot sauce

In summary, Ms. HitH would definitely return for brunch, but instead of getting all-you-can-eat (which is a STEAL at $10.99), she would order one of the specific waffle dishes.  Strawberry dreams, I'm looking at you.  Mr. HitH would get the all-you-can-eat + chicken, just to keep eating Staxx's incredible fried chicken over.  And over.  And over.

Staxx Burger Chicken & Waffle House on Urbanspoon

Friday, 4 April 2014

Charred & JC Patissier

Love the bottle of tap water we were given!
It was a dark and stormy night. Ms HitH had the h-anger.  You know what the h-anger is? It is when one is so hungry, one is angry.  Given the early dinner hour (5:15) we decided to hit up our neighbourhood Italian eatery, Chicago Style Pizza.  Unfortunately, their line up was already approaching the door.  Given that, we decided to try somewhere new, Charred.

Our delicious Caesar salad.  Superb!
We went in and were immediately welcomed.  The restaurant is lovely, with a small seating area. The rotisseries are up front, and the entire place smells amazing - the burning charcoal, the roasting chicken - so so good! Mr. HitH was pleased to see that he uses the same charcoal in his BBQ.  We were immediately given a bottle of chilled tap water. Love it! The menu isn't extensive, mostly featuring chicken, potatoes and salads. Mr. HitH ordered up a half chicken with fries as his side, and extra spicy piri piri sauce. Ms. HitH got the brand spanking new rice dish with spicy piri piri sauce, a side of roasted potatoes and we got a caesar salad, without bacon, to share.

Veggie food!  Rice, roasted taters & piri piri sauce.  These are the small portions!
First, let's focus on the vegetarian food at a rotisserie restaurant. Cue the sad trumpet sound. You know the one.  Mwah wah wah.  Now take your pathetic trumpet noise back because my food was awesome!  The rice is nothing fancy, just rice cooked in veggie broth with some green onion.  However, when you mix in the piri piri sauce, it is truly delicious.  Loved it! The roasted potatoes were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. I ordered a small of both, and the servings were huge.  Before today, I thought the best Caesar salad in the city was at Memphis Fire BBQ Co., but Charred has them beat. The lettuce was fresh and crisp and the dressing was fabulously garlicy.  It wasn't overly creamy and while it coated each leaf, it didn't become cloying at any time. The shaved parmesan gave it the necessary umami, and I was very impressed that our server took the time to ensure that it was OK for the vegetarian to have the egg in the dressing.  I'm sure it would have been better with bacon, but sadly, Mr. HitH has to give up some delicious pleasures for the awesomeness of having Ms. HitH in his life.  Overall, great meal!

Meatarian food!  Delicious chicken, fries, piri piri sauce & a great bun!
The half chicken was moist, with crispy skin.  No burning or off flavours, and again, a very generous portion.  When Mr. HitH used up all his piri piri sauce, our server immediately brought him another bowl for dipping. The fries are slim, slender, and delicious.  They rival the goodness of The Burnt Tongue's fries - and those fries are awesome. The bottle of malt vinegar is up at the bar, so ask for it. It also came with the same bun you get from The Burnt Tongue with the soup.  They're from a local baker, and we need to ask which one, because they are great - soft and yummy.

I am torn about glass bottles.  They are adorable, but pricey!
Service throughout was excellent - attentive, fun, helpful.  We were impressed with the quality of the food and the serving sizes were so generous that we are contemplating changing our name to Full in the Hammer. We will be back.
Clockwise from upper left: apple tarte, strawberry tart, mango cheesecake and very fancy blueberry cheesecake

We had to hit The Mustard Seed so we decided to stop in at JC Patissier, a bakery that we had passed by many times since it relocated from downtown to York Street.  We went in and ordered a mango cheesecake, a strawberry tart and a apple tart. The owner then very generously told us to pick a complementary treat out, and we chose a blueberry cheesecake.  We packed them up and brought them home.  Overall, they were a nice little treat, with the fruit tart being excellent.  The almond base brought out the flavours of the strawberries, which were deliciously sweet.  The cheesecakes both had great cheesecake, but the crusts were too buttery (who would have thought this was possible?) and there wasn't enough fruit flavour, especially in the mango. It frankly tasted more like a plain cheesecake. The apple tart had good flavours, but the apples were quite dry despite the glaze on top.  Overall, the treats were good and the owner was lovely, but we probably won't add this bakery into our regular rotation.  There was nothing wrong - at all - but nothing amazing either.


Charred Rotisserie House on Urbanspoon
J C Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Speedy Subs


We love Hamilton. We love people who love Hamilton. That is part of the reason we love Speedy Subs. However, we also just love their old school delicious subs.
From the Speedy Subs facebook page
First the food.  These are not fancy subs.  No toasting is offered and nary a glimpse of guacamole is seen. You know what?  That can be a good thing. They offer old fashioned, delicious subs on fresh bread.  There is no fancy cheese. It's the old school white stuff - and I, who disdain cheese slices as being appropriate only for wrapping up pills in when having to administer medicine to my dogs, LOVE it.  Their prices are beyond reasonable. They always have a sub of the month that is an incredible price.  In March 2014, it was a 12" turkey sub for $3.99! 

Mr. HitH got the namesake Speedy Sub, which is a mixed sub with double cheese and meat.  The offering of veggie isn't extensive, but is perfectly adequate (lettuce, tomato, onion, green pepper, black and green olives, pickles, mushrooms, cucumbers, hot peppers) and they have a few different types of mustard too.  It was yummy and satisfying and fully prepared Mr. HitH to go and spend the rest of the evening coaching soccer and playing ball hockey.
The loaded with meat Speedy Sub
 Unfortunately, being vegetarian severely limits the options one has at a sub shop.  Fortunately, I really like veggie subs.  This one hits the mark.  There is nothing fancy or pretentious about it.  As you can see, they have a generous hand with the toppings, and while I would prefer just about any other leafy vegetable to iceburg lettuce, this is a great sub.
A terrible picture of a quite good veggie sub
Beyond the food, Speedy Subs is fantastic for Concession street.  Their windows are always decorated for the season and they are huge boosters of the neighbourhood. It's just a pleasure to go in and talk with them about how the Raleigh/Eastmount neighbourhoods are developing and changing.  Concession Street has a shot at being the next Locke St. type success, and places like Speedy Subs will help fuel that success.  


Speedy Subs on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Grilled Cheese Fest!

What?  A Grilled Cheese Fest?  With all you can eat?  In the Hammer?  AWESOME.  We will see you there (but you won't be able to see much of us, as our faces will be covered with the grilled cheese we are eating!)


More info at https://twitter.com/HamOntBeerFest


Monday, 10 March 2014

The Burnt Tongue

The Burnt Tongue is remarkable. Absolutely remarkable.
Today's Drink Selections:  Canada Dry, Grape Crush & Rummy Grapefruit
Let me preface this post by saying that Ms. HitH is not a soup fan. She believes that food should be solid and chewed, not drunk. Mr.HitH has no such convictions, however, and adores soup.  For that reason, we had our first visit to The Burnt Tongue many months ago (when we were too consumed with work and school and other things to write). Since then, we have visited many times and each time, we are awed by the quality of the food. The fact that The Burnt Tongue won her over should tell you an awful lot!
Spiced Carrot and Lentil with yogurt and cumin seeds
The staff at The Burnt Tongue are fantastic.  They are always ready to describe the soups for you (they change daily), make suggestions, and are just generally wonderful to visit.  The restaurant is small, with only a few tables and can often be packed.  We usually take our food to go. The restaurant itself is a great space, but is very dim (as you can probably judge from the pics).

 Zucchini & Jalapeno with sour cream and cilantro
We visited again today, taking one of our siblings so they too could know the joy of The Burnt Tongue. We ordered 3 bowls of soup - Zucchini & Jalapeno with sour cream and cilantro, Spiced Carrot and Lentil with yogurt and cumin seeds and Greek Chickpea & Lemon with green onions & feta.  We all ordered buns as our side with our soup. We also all ordered grilled cheese to go with our soup (made with Cake & Loaf bread!)  and an order of frites with chipotle mayo. The Burnt Tongue has a great selection of novelty pop, often changing.  It's always worth asking what they recommend.  Today, we bought Grape Crush, Ginger Ale and Rummy Grapefruit.
Greek Chickpea & Lemon with green onions & feta
All of the soups were superb. The integrity of the flavours shine through and the combinations are well thought out. We have yet to have a bad bowl of soup, and we've tried many.  The combinations are modern, interesting and full of flavour without becoming cloying. I don't think it is going too far to say that the chef's palate is remarkable.
Grilled Cheese (with one quarter already eaten).
The grilled cheese was perfectly crisp and oozing with cheese. It was, as we were told when ordering, perfectly suited to soup dipping and the Cake & Loaf bread was perfect.  If we have one (tiny) complaint, it's that the cheese is particularly non-descript, which of course makes sense if you want it to mix seamlessly with all the soups.
The Frites with chipotle mayo
The fries at The Brunt Tongue are great.  They are perfectly crisp, never greasy, just the right amount of salt.  Even when they're cold, they don't get soggy.  Ms. HitH isn't a fan of the regular (Belgian-type) mayo, but the chipotle mayo was great.  Not too spicy and a perfect addition to the fries.

In summary, The Burnt Tongue is our new go-to in the Hammer.  With amazingly consistent and remarkable food, it's always a better than safe bet.  Check their facebook or twitter for daily menus.  Go now.  Go often.  We will accept thank you gifts for our recommendation.


The Burnt Tongue on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 5 January 2014

We're not shopping at Target until they change their policy regarding animals in distress

Update:  As of 01/07/14, one of my friends reported that Target replied to her email, asking for more details. I took the impetus and called the 1-800 number given, only to be told that I was speaking to a Manager, named Donna, and that my complaint had been sent internally.  She also told me that Target will not reply to customers directly.  I explained that their customers wanted to know if indeed Target's corporate policy is not to assist animals in distress on their property.  She simply said that she would re-escalate it.  


The blog post is over 2100 views.  Please keep sharing it until Target responds, and please, if you are concerned about this, do not shop there until Target makes their policy clear.
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Update: As of 01/06/14 at 6 p.m., Target has still not responded to any of our concerns.  Over 1800 people have viewed this post. Please, if you feel that Target needs to address our concerns, should they want our business, then contact them.
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On 12/29/13 (last Sunday), we went to shop at the Target store at 1211 Barton St E. in Hamilton.  When we got there, directly in front of the front entrance to the store, there was a dog tied up.  She was shivering and whimpering.  I went into the store and asked the manager at the service desk to page the owner.  She said that the store did not have a paging system.  While I was there, another customer made that manager aware that the dog had been tied up for at least an hour.  I went back outside.  The dog was cold to the touch and she was lifting her feet off the cold concrete.  I called Animal Control. Another customer called the number on the tag, but no one picked up.  Another customer had some rags in his car, so we put them under her so she wasn’t on the concrete while waiting.  Before Animal Control came, the owner came out.  The SPCA is aware of the incident and is investigating.
I am a loyal Target customer. On Sunday, December 29th, I visited your store located at 1211 Barton St E. Hamilton, ON, L8H 2V4.  Outside the store, a dog was tied up to your posts.  This was a cold day, and the dog was on cement, with no way to keep warm.  She was whimpering, shivering, and picking up her feet to attempt to keep warm.  I went into your store, and asked a staff member identified as a manager to page for the owner.  She informed me that the store did not have a paging system.  As I stood there, another customer commented that the dog had been tied up in the cold for at least an hour.  The manager said she could do nothing.  I returned outside and found the dog was cold to the touch.  Other customers also gathered around, concerned.  Animal Control was dispatched, and customers went to their vehicles to find blankets to warm the dog.  At this point, another customer told me that as I left, the manager I spoke to told another customer that they did have a paging system, but wouldn't use it for a matter such as this.
At no point did any Target employee come outside to check on this animal.  They simply refused to do anything about an animal in distress on their property - even the bare minimum of paging the owner.  Before Animal Control could arrive, the owner did come, however the case was considered serious enough that a cruelty investigator took the information available (dog's name and phone number from a tag) to follow up.
Going back inside the store, I spoke to another manager who confirmed that the first manager had lied to me when she said there was no paging system at all and reiterated that his hands were tied, as corporate would not allow such announcements to be made.  There really was no explanation as to why not a single staff member came to check on the animal who was in distress on your property.
As a loyal Target customer, I am coming to you for an explanation before I go to my social networks to share my story and explain why Target didn't care enough to help an animal in distress. I would hate to stop shopping at your stores - but if this is indeed your policy, I will choose to spend my money at stores who are willing to do the absolute minimum of paging an owner of an animal in distress.
I am looking forward to your response,
Leslie Klodt
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Despite Target staff being aware of this happening on their property, literally 2 steps from their front entrance, not a single employee came to check on the dog.  Other customers informed me that after I left, the manager said that there was a paging system, but she wouldn’t use it for paging the owner of a dog in distress.  After the owner came, I spoke to another manager who confirmed she lied to me, but said corporate policy forbids them from using the paging system for such a purpose.

I wanted to speak to Target Canada before I shared this with you, so I contacted them via email, asking if this was indeed their policy and if not, how they would ensure that other animals would not be left in distress on their property.  They replied, simply saying that it was too bad I had a bad experience.  I asked to have a supervisor reply to me, and no one replied.  I then called, and they said they would look into it and contact me by 01/04/14.  No one did.  If this had been the summer, with a dog in a car, they would have died.

Until Target can assure me that they care about animals (and people) who are in distressI am a loyal Target customer. On Sunday, December 29th, I visited your store located at 1211 Barton St E. Hamilton, ON, L8H 2V4.  Outside the store, a dog was tied up to your posts.  This was a cold day, and the dog was on cement, with no way to keep warm.  She was whimpering, shivering, and picking up her feet to attempt to keep warm.  I went into your store, and asked a staff member identified as a manager to page for the owner.  She informed me that the store did not have a paging system.  As I stood there, another customer commented that the dog had been tied up in the cold for at least an hour.  The manager said she could do nothing.  I returned outside and found the dog was cold to the touch.  Other customers also gathered around, concerned.  Animal Control was dispatched, and customers went to their vehicles to find blankets to warm the dog.  At this point, another customer told me that as I left, the manager I spoke to told another customer that they did have a paging system, but wouldn't use it for a matter such as this.

At no point did any Target employee come outside to check on this animal.  They simply refused to do anything about an animal in distress on their property - even the bare minimum of paging the owner.  Before Animal Control could arrive, the owner did come, however the case was considered serious enough that a cruelty investigator took the information available (dog's name and phone number from a tag) to follow up.

Going back inside the store, I spoke to another manager who confirmed that the first manager had lied to me when she said there was no paging system at all and reiterated that his hands were tied, as corporate would not allow such announcements to be made.  There really was no explanation as to why not a single staff member came to check on the animal who was in distress on your property.

As a loyal Target customer, I am coming to you for an explanation before I go to my social networks to share my story and explain why Target didn't care enough to help an animal in distress. I would hate to stop shopping at your stores - but if this is indeed your policy, I will choose to spend my money at stores who are willing to do the absolute minimum of paging an owner of an animal in distress.

I am looking forward to your response,
Leslie Klodt
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Dear Leslie

I'm glad you've taken the time to write us about your experience. We’re sorry you didn't receive the type of service you've come to expect at Target.

We expect our team members to be helpful while you're shopping. From the experience you described, it sounds like we didn't meet your expectations. Your comments are very important to us, and I’ve shared them with the Hamilton Central Store Leadership team for further review.

While you're in the store, you can always visit Guest Service and ask to speak with the Guest Service Team Leader. They'll do their best to help you. In the meantime, we'll keep working to provide you with the service you deserve.

Thanks for helping us make Target even better.

Sincerely,

Allyson
Target Guest Relations
[THREAD ID:3-F7XIUM]
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My reply:
Hi Allyson,

Could my email please be escalated to a supervisor, and could I get a reply from them?  While I appreciate the reply, you have not answered any of my questions or addressed any of my concerns.  Hamilton Central made it clear that they were following corporate policy. 

Thank you,
Leslie
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After not hearing back from them, I called and spoke to Beena, who said she would get back to me within 48 hours.  When she did not, I posted this blog post.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Pop-Up Doughnut Shop at Cake & Loaf!

This post is a painful one for us to write.  First, let us say that Cake & Loaf is our favourite bakery in Hamilton.  It is our go-to for birthday cakes, for cookies, for pastries, for bread.  We cannot recommend them enough.
Today, we were really excited as Cake & Loaf had their very first pop-up doughnut shop.  They opened at 9, with the caveat that it was first come first serve.  We stayed up late last night to see Catching Fire (Highly recommended.  Go see.) so we didn't wake up early and only headed down the hill at about quarter to 10.  The line was long, but the level of fun was high.
We made it inside after about 30 minutes.  The supplies were running low, but we managed to get 2 Apple Fritters with Caramel, 1 Sour Cream Glaze, 1 Chocolate Walnut Crunch, & 1 Canadian Maple.  We brought them home, and one of our dogs gazed at them longingly. Sucks to be her.  She got nothing.
We began with one of the Apple Fritters with Caramel.  It was a fabulous way to start.  The doughnut was studded with apple chunks, the caramel glaze was delicious.  It was decadent, fresh - everything we have come to expect from Cake & Loaf.  So impressed!
We moved onto the Sour Cream Glaze doughnut after that.  It was moist, but Ms. HitH felt that the taste of the oil it was fried in was strong, while Mr. HitH wanted some more sweetness in the doughnut.  Having said that, we both enjoyed it.

We moved onto the Walnut Crunch.  This is Ms. HitH doughnut of choice, so the excitement was palpable - but sadly, this guy did not live up to the hype.  There were very few nuts (see picture). The doughnut had a burnt taste to it and the texture was overly heavy.  The chocolate flavour was fine, but even splitting this doughnut in half between two of us, we didn't finish it. It was disappointing.
Last, we moved onto the Canadian Maple.  Again we were excited!  Maple - good! Filled doughnuts - good! All good - but not so much.  The icing was maple-ly and quite good.  The dough texture was fine - but the filling was tasteless, making the doughnut very disappointing.  Again, even splitting it, even didn't finish it.
In summary, you should visit Cake & Loaf for their amazing selection - but the quality of the doughnuts was not up to the usual Cake & Loaf standards of incredible awesomeness.  Having said that, remember that this was their first try and they certainly were slammed.  If the rest of the doughnuts can come up to the quality of the Apple Fritter with Caramel, then Cake and Loaf will become the best doughnut shop in the city, along with being the best bakery!