Saturday, December 31, 2011

the dining experience: hard rock cafe yonge & dundas

Let me preface this by saying that as a general rule, Bunny and I tend to avoid chain restaurants. We've been known to enjoy such deliciousness as East Side Mario's Italian Wedding Soup or the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits but we prefer to go to smaller places. Sometimes fancy restaurants owned by friends or that Bunny used to work on, or smaller hole-in-the-wall but amazing places to anywhere in between. The food is invariably more interesting, even if it's not always better (there are some shitty independent restaurants we've eaten at, of course).

The other night, though, we were out shopping and decided to do a bit of a dinner out. On a lark, we decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe - not quite sure why, just that it seemed like a good idea. Bunny had never been, and the only time I'd eaten at one had been a band trip to New Orleans in 2003. So we went.

We waited about 20 minutes for a table, which wasn't terrible. Very much enjoyed that the little lobby had a few interactive items and displays for us to occupy ourselves with during the wait. The waitstaff was also great - polite, friendly, on time with everything and happy to help.

The food? Enh.

To start Bunny had wings (he choose the hottest variety) and I had an order of onion rings. I have a love affair with a well made onion rings. Unfortunately, both were a little bit underwhelming. The wings were hot, sure, but there was no other flavour to them, really which I found disappointing. I like some complexity to my heat. As far as the rings went, they were large and lovely and had a beautifully sweet onion taste to them. Unfortunately the batter was lackluster at best. Flavourless again, but crunchy, and far to thin for my liking.

Dinner itself was a pulled pork sandwich for Bunny and chicken & beef fajitas for me. Evidently they'd had some nasty surprised with the fajitas in the past, because our server said "Just so you know, you have to assemble them yourself. Are you ok with that?" Hahaha. To be expected, and it's something I love with restaurant fajitas.

Bunny's sandwich was a hit. The pork & sauce had a great smoky flavour that Bunny was quite thrilled with. I snagged some of the fries and was quite impressed. Nice thick sticks, little bit of skin still on the potatoes. They had that beautiful crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside texture that makes fries amazing.

As far as my fajitas go, they were fairly solid. Good but not great. Personal pet peeve was the tomatoes in the guacamole, but that's just a quirk of mine (hatred of all things tomato). The chunks were big enough that I could avoid them, so I was happy. I greatly enjoyed the chicken and the fajitas vegetables, though I wasn't so keen on the beef. It looked beautiful, I just didn't enjoy it too much.

The biggest impression, and perhaps the best thing: the iced tea. Brewed iced tea, which just tickles me. It was lovely and tea like, sweetened at my request. Just a hint of sugar, not too much. The addition of squeezed lemon made it blissful. Fresh iced tea always impresses me.

Overall, it was what I expect from a chain. I would have liked to say it was better, but it wasn't. My biggest complaint was that everything was really overpriced. Price and quality were not on par. That's really my complaint with a lot of chains - that the food is a little bit boring and the quality doesn't justify the price.

Would we go back? No.

Were we disappointed? Not really. I wanted to be more impressed, but it was right around what I expected.

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