Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Canteen

Today, I was unwittingly yanked away from the home to run some errand with my mom. I usually prefer staying at home but I usually give in when I hear 'We're going to look at some food.' Terrible? Extremely. I remember I used to be bribed with ice cream. Now I'm bribed with good food.

Mom wanted to get mooncakes to give to the relatives so we ended up at The Marriot hotel. We parked at Shaw centre though and since it was lunch time, we decided to find something to eat. I've been the The Canteen before and though it wasn't a fantastic experience, I was willing to give it another shot. The Canteen is one of the many restaurants under the Les Amis group and is by far the most affordable. I have to admit that I have not eaten at the pricier establishments and am very curious to try the French bistro, Bistro du Vin. I also have to admit that I am not altogether keen on trying the restaurant Les Amis myself. I tend to be a little reserved when it comes to experimental food.

Sour cherry tart, at the counter.

Pear tart, also at the counter.

We ordered calamari to start off and it was nicely done, tender and not overly chewy. It came with a slice of lemon and some tartar sauce, along with what I originally thought was a chilli dip but turned out to be a sort of lightly spiced tomato salsa. I am very fond of calamari. A little bit of cracked pepper might have made this even better. And perhaps if I had not loaded it with lemon juice, it would not have become soggy so quickly. And um if it looks lacking, that's because I had eaten about half of it before I remembered to take a photo. -_-

Mom ordered the Cesar salad and it comes with croutons, a hard boiled egg and bacon bits. I think it was real bacon, tasted real enough to me and real bacon is always a plus for me in Cesar salad. It was light and refreshing but the eggs were pretty much overcooked; lots of grey stuff on the yolk from all the sulphur rising out of it.

This here is my spaghetti bolognese. Truthfully, I was quite disappointed by it. The noodles were not al dente and they had a certain 'thickness' and 'heaviness' to the bite. Al dente is light and springy and with bite. This was... a lot of mouth work. I found myself more interested in the sauce and was picking on the bits of carrots and little bits of minced meat. In the end I didn't even finish the pasta.

I actually feel quite sad about this place. It's supposed to be a Les Amis restaurant and while it doesn't charge Les Amis prices, I didn't expect the quality to be so far lacking. Notice that I haven't been particularly impressed by any of the dishes I've sampled; the salad is ok, the calamari is ok, the bolognese is... just.. no. It's so normal it's crazy normal. Which in a way, makes me happy that it's not expensive. I'd have thrown a fit if I paid twice the price and got food of this quality.

Did you know that for a while there were frozen Les Amis meals and there were DELICIOUS. I was particularly fond of the beef bourguignon and the bolognese; I mean that sauce REALLY KICKED ASS and I'd have to fight to get the last bits of it into my pasta because everyone else wanted some. Sadly they stopped producing these frozen packages of loveliness, lord knows why and I am now stuck with the usual supermarket brands of pasta sauce. BOO LES AMIS, BOO. BRING BACK THE FROZEN MEALS. THEY MAKE ME HAPPY.

I only bring this up because I would have been infinitely happy and pleased with my meal if they actually used their frozen food bolognese sauce on my pasta instead of what I was served today. And isn't that terrible? Preferring a frozen product over a freshly cooked one?

The only thing I really have to give this place is the pricing, food starts from $6 and onwards and my pasta was only $10. I'm not even sure if I'm comfortable recommending this place but if you want cheapish food from a Les Amis restaurant, this is it.

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