Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rule of Thumb for cost of eating out

Here are some rules of thumb that I use. Everyone wants good food…., cheap…... And then there's the service… and atmosphere…. Everything costs…..!

My rot (rule of thumb, that is) is that whatever the price of the meal itself, double it if you drink alcohol (and we all drink sometime?!) and then add 30%, for tax and tips. Unless the govt gets rid of the GST, and that should be the aim!, (not some niddly picking 2% over three years!), there is 15% for taxes, gst/pst, and 15% for tips.

So, a meal of say $10, which is pretty cheap by today's standards, would be $20 with the booze and then $26……., to include what you owe the govt and for the service/atmosphere.

(As an aside, the fish and chips at Chelsea Bis/Pub ended up to be $30 a person for lunch! That’s $14 for the meal ((which was rich)), we all had fish and chips, and a couple of beers, ie, $28, and then with the taxes and tip ended up to be over $30 pp. I did most of the drinking and the others drank less, since I didn’t have to drive. But still $36 a person for lunch…., at a ‘relatively’ good fish and chips place, that is way out of the downtown area, is a little steep!!!) )

I don't normally tip 15% unless the atmosphere and service is great, more like 10% if everything is fine, but that's unfair when you think of the portion the govt takes!

<>(Again I have tipped less than 10%, but don’t want to piss the ‘working class’ off …..!)

So life sucks as a waiter. At least you don't have to declare income taxes on it?!. Again the Govt is the arse. (That’s Brit for bum, backside, ass, asshole, etc).

To live in a Govt town!!!! That is most of ‘your’ employers, I’m afraid! No wonder there are no decent restaurants in Ottawa/Gat and the United Way get so much money. In spite of what Harder is saying.

Anyway, the bottom line is, that say, a $100 per person dinner at a fancy restaurant, which again is not unusual, ends up costing $260.! Per Person!!!!!! That's a lot of mullah and it's about time some of the 'finer' establishments think about 'the cost of eating out' especially if they believe in the mantra of the ‘Consumer Being King’. No matter what you say, to run a restaurant is a labour of love for some, (who knows how to cook,) can manage a cost constraining business and still end up being happy.

Dec 3rd, 2005. Noon.


(Shall only date it in the future if it is not within the date of writing….)

Cumin & Goan

Cumin & Goan …. May be just Goin’ …….

Revisited Cumin & Goan a number of times and the latest report, well, I think Barb Gomes finally recognizes me …

This time, I tried the Lamb Shakruti, not a ‘real’ goan dish, but nevertheless it is shown as ‘toasted coconut & spices’ and I have had charuti/sharuti/xacuti before…..

I think in this dish it really shows that Barb does not know how to use the tamarind to bring out the sour. Vinegar just doesn’t do it.

I also tried the Kachumbar, another ‘ok’, as was the raita, which Desbrisay raved about … And the only other two pickles/chutneys were mixed veg/celandro, both of which were very good, but an accoutrement does not a meal make. (The Prawn/tomato was to die for …)

So if you want Goan, the Sorppatel is the only really decent dish. Pork vindaloo will be very good. Maybe try the Fish Curry, but if it’s anything like the sharuti, I’d pass….

Does that mean you should not go to this place ? …. Not at all …. There are a lot of Northern style Indian restaurants (most tandoori places) and Southern style Indian restaurants (Ceylonta, Coconut Lagoon ), none of which are outstanding in Ottawa (go to Toronto), but if you want Western Indian food, Cumin & Goan is the place in Ottawa.

Now how about an ‘Eastern Indian Restaurant’, i.e., Bengali, Hyderabadi or Burmese….

Do we really want to figure in the multicultural culinary world that is Canada? I rank Vancouver, Toronto and Quebec City, even Montreal before Ottawa. Ottawa is way overpriced and truly provincial in terms of food and places to eat and value for money …… Chinese and Indian food are two very good examples. Either the restaurateurs think we don’t know how to eat, or they just figure there is no competition ….

Happy being happy, especially during these holidays ….

2005 12 29.

Hey Guys and Gals,

A lot of you are not into spicy foods. But then some of you are! For
those not interested in Goan food, I will not expect any interest in this piece.

But there has been an interest shown by some, in something spicy and interesting?. And
this place (Cumin & Goan) is run by a typical Goan woman, hoping to make it in
the East Asian/Indian cuisine world. Before they 'transmogrify' into an
Indian restaurant, I would expect that any of you truly interested in
trying Goan cuisine, to let me know and I will set something up. (There
is nothing in it for me, except your company!)

But it is so far, pretty good Goan stuff. As some of you already know,
Goan is a Portuguese colony, just south of Bombay, India. If you need
more, email me. But it's cuisine is spicy but sour, with vinegar and
tamarinds. And also Spanish / Portuguese sausages and spices.

Oct 19th, 2005

Well, how is that for 'killing two birds with one stone'..... Both
these restaurants (Cumin & Goan and Katlinka) are side by side. They are located at the old
Manfred's and Singapore restaurants respectively in a little 'non
descript' mall on the South West side of Carling, near Woodroffe. You
would have to shot past the place if you were going west on Carling and
do a 'u- turn'.

Anyway, Katlinka is the new mid european restaurant that you guys have
been so reluctant to go to. It is in place of the old Singapore and
well, I have not tried it, but you guys are the euros! Call me if you
want to go, anytime.

As for Cumin & Goan, it is located at the old Manfred's location. As
some of you may know, they (Manfred's) had the best' duck done in a lime
sauce' that I have ever had. And that was in the European tradition. I
hear Manfred still goes to Cumin and Goan.

The C&G restaurant specializes in Goan food and before it gets
transmogrified, I would suggest that we try it. It is similar to Indian
food and for those who know, Goa was a Portuguese colony. They use
tamarinds and vinegar a lot in their curries which brings out the mix of
blended spices that go to make a great curry. Therefore it is a little
more complex than your usual tandoori. Vindaloo is a goan dish. They
also have saurpatel and shakruti, a couple of other very typical
goan/south indian curries. As some of you may know, the south indians
were the indigenous aboriginals of India. The north west being conquered
by the Persians/Romans/Greeks and the east by the asians/moguls. The
real mystical/fatalistic of the indigenous indians moved south into the
peninsular. So the true curries of india must be the southern indians'.
The owner of C&G is from Bangalore, the garden city of south india and
'capital' of the region.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it is worthwhile to try this place.
You can go on your own or with a group, but do so before Jan 2006 as the
owner is planning on introducing a buffet and we all know what that
means for the traditionalists.

Anyway, call me if you'd like to go. As I have always said, there are 4
indian restaurants in the Glebe alone and not one really special one!

Sep 13th, 2005.

Anne DesBrisay has just done a piece on the Restaurant (C&G) in the Sunday Citizen Nov 27th, 2005 and

1) I wonder if she tried it her usual three times,
2) Shows how much she knows about Indian food,
3) The raita is not 'to write home about', a little watery
4) you can get good tandoori in most Ottawa restaurants
5) vindaloo should always be pork
6) sorpatel to die for and the shrimp pickle is outstandingly Goan

When in Rome, one should eat Roman.....

Dec 3rd, 2005.

Amber Garden, Katlinka Restaurants, Middle Europe

Middle European food in Ottawa.

2007 10 22... Kalinka's has been closed for 2 years now.

Tried Amber Garden at its new location, was not impressed.....

Katlinka Restaurant.

I think I have already mentioned that for Russian/Ukrainian/mid European
food, I have not had better perogies than at Katlinka's. (Better than
Constance's, if she ever makes them!)

They have a great meatball soup and interesting pork chops/weiner sniz.
And a great mixed meats platter.

But food is not Germanic (Their sniz is not as good as Lindenholf's).
And they don't have caviar! They don't have polish tripe soup (like
Polonius). They are not into mixed grills and sausages (like Chicken Boy
dusseldorff). They don't even have a variety of vodka's as in Amber

What they do have is the best perogies I have ever tasted, the best
meatball soup and a very interesting egg covered pork chop. They also
have a number of stroganoffs and a la kiev's that I would like to try. (
I haven't tried everything on their menu yet.) And apparently,
according to the proprietor, quite an Embassy following?

It's also a nice little 'family restaurant in the west end' with nice
'home cooked' ukrainian stuff and some parties like 'um bah bahs' .....

However, I sense that the Ukrainians, Scots and spouses (if you guys ever eat out) may form an appropriate group to partake. And if there are more interested, pls. let
me know. All on distro welcome. ( And I don't get any money or
enticements out of this, except I get to have fun with the boys/gals)

Oct 15th, 2005.

Best Fish & Chips in Ottawa/Gatineau?

I went and tried the fish and chips at the Chelsea Bistro, on Old Chelsea Rd., in Gatineau, which reportedly, by you and you English friend, is the 'best in the area'. And I must say
that based on my opinion.....

The chips were pretty ok to bad. They were too greasy. And the fish is
pretty good. To say they are the best in the area is debatable. Perhaps
a reflection of the food in the area!!!! At $14 before tax and tips, it was also a little steep considering the drive out there.

I went with a couple of other friends, so the opinion is not mine alone.

I always welcome other comments on the area's fish and chips. I am going
to try the stuff at 'Arrow & Loon', for which I do not have high

The best fish and chips ....., other that London, England, is Hong Kong.
Doesn't get any better than that!!!!

Dec 1st, 2005