Monday was a bit of a red letter day – Finn’s first day of school. Yes, I know it’s July, school shouldn’t be starting quite yet. Actually it’s just a summer school program but, to me, it’s still school. Since Finn hasn’t been in daycare or other structured setting the school had recommended that he take a couple of their summer programs to start the acclimation process. So, after reviewing the offerings, we signed him up for two programs. This week is Foods of the World – just what a budding foodie needs – cooking for 3-5 year-olds.
I picked him up at noon and everything seemed to have gone well (we found out later that he was more interested in doing his own thing rather than what the rest of the group and one of the student teachers may now be rethinking her career choice…) and decided to take him out for a treat. That left me in a bit of a dilemma. Where to go? Can-Can is his fav but they don’t make gougeres at lunch and I really didn’t want a fussy toddler on my hands. After a little thought I decided upon Home Team Grill – burger, fries, and possibly ice cream. So, off we went. There was a bit of a problem when we arrived….
I thought he might have woken up when we got inside but he climbed into the booth and…
I figured that he wouldn’t sleep but too long so I ran out to my car, got my computer, and settled in for a little internet browsing (they have free wifi) and computer gaming with my bevvies and munchies while Finn slept.
The menu was what one would expect of a sports bar. Lots of fried food, sandwiches, and salads that may have more calories and fat than you should consume in a day. Frankly, it wa what I had a hankering for. I spotted their much touted (on the menu anyway) potato skins and ordered a plate to go with my G&T.
The drink arrived first and was a tad weak. Is that a bad thing? Not here. While we weren’t there for happy hour the happy hour prices are rock bottom ($2 highballs 4-6/$3 7-9). If your planning a long drinking session or are there to watch a 3-hour game you don’t want to be falling out of your chair too quickly.
While waiting for the app I looked over the space. Lot’s of big screen TV’s, brick, sports stuff and a really cool vaulted ceiling with exposed beams. The snob in me bemoaned the fact that this wasn’t a more upscale restaurant in this space but not everyone can be Cafe Rustica or Verbena and Home Team Grill probably does more business than the others combined. This place joins my list of restaurants with bad bathroom designs. Cafe Rustica has ceilings for midgets in theirs, Hard Shell has the poorly placed air dryers and HTG has an oddly placed urinal that leaves you horribly exposed if someone opens the door…
The skins arrived and…. Meh. Their uniform shape makes me think frozen. Too much potato left on the skin, fried to a complete dryness, green onions cut too big and from the root rather than the stalk. Each bite overpowered by the flavour of fried chicken. Tasted like they needed to change the oil. The bacon, however, was quite good.
Finn started to wake up and was not a happy camper. With the taste of chicken flavoured potato skins still lingering I decided it was time to go. Finn, fussy as he was, would have none of it, he wanted his promised burger and fries. So we stayed. The waitress, very nice and constantly trying very hard to upsell, was helpful in getting the TV above us changed to a cartoon channel for Finn. She must have hit the wrong button because she ended up changing about half the TV’s in the place but as there really wasn’t anyone there nobody minded. This did confuse me a bit later when I looked up and started to wonder why they were advertising for Valtrex on Nickelodeon but it turned out they had changed all the other TV’s back.
To go with Finn’s burger and fries I decided to order a sandwich, The Seattle Mariner. Kind of a hybrid of a Sailor and a Reuben. When the plate was put down in front of me I tried one of the fries first…. Ugh. Instead of crispy they were leathery. I realized they had two problems with the oil back there. Not only was it old and contaminated with too many lingering flavours the temperature was set too low. This meant the fries (and the skins) spent way too long in the oil trying to cook. One would think that if your going to specialize in fried foods you would have a good fry cook. Finn ate most of his fries (hey, he’s 3) but not with his usual gusto.
The sandwich was… really good. The knockwurst, the corned beef, the swiss. Greasy in a very tasty way. I had asked for no saurkraut (just not a fan) and they don’t put 1000 Island on it so it was missing a little something. I asked for some brown mustard. The waitress at first said they didn’t have any but decided to go check. They did and the sandwich was complete. It wasn’t as good as some other places, Boychick’s comes to mind, but it was satisfying. Of course it could just be because I love brown mustard so much…. Still, it was good.
While the problems with the fried foods were a little disturbing for a sports bar they seem to be able to cook some things and I bet they would taste even better after a lot of alcohol consumption. The drinks are cheep and the waitresses are friendly (the managers need to be careful about the playful banter they engage in or they may be faced with a sexual harassment suit by a disgruntled employee…). If your looking for basic bar grub and a place to hang out with your friends (at someplace other than a national chain) this might be a good choice.
Addendum – Got some off-the-record info from current and former employees…. The theme of what I’m hearing is that there are some real consistency issues with the food. So much so that the same dish may not resemble the same dish from previous visits. I guess at the very least it is a place to get lots of cheap drinks.