Since my husband has a meeting tomorrow evening, meaning we can't celebrate Valentines' Day...not that we usually do, but occasionally I like to pretend we enjoy doing that very thing...we went out for an inexpensive meal tonight as our celebration.
My husband has wanted to try The Artful Dodger Pub and Restaurant for quite some time. Although it never did appeal to me for some reason, I thought it was high time he got his chance as it was the first place he mentioned when I asked him where he wanted to eat. Off we went.
The space itself is sufficiently quirky to be interesting and it reminds me of some of the little pubs and cafes we used to go to when we lived in Courtenay BC quite a few years ago. The walls are painted odd blues and sienna colours and there is an eclectic collection of various types of art scattered higglety-pigglety on the walls. There are funny seating arrangements of tippy tables and odd combinations of chair styles in several different rooms. It is kind of a cute little place but unfortunately it wasn't the best food experience for us.
As soon as we walked in I realized I could be in trouble because the smell of wood smoke hit me rather quickly. In one corner of the main room where the bar and performance stages are set up, is a good sized pizza oven burning freshly cut wood. I don't know what kind of wood it is and it doesn't matter because I react negatively in the old sinuses to every wood on the planet once it starts to burn. However, we found a space in an adjoining room where the odor of the smoke was far less and I decided to tough it out for my husband's sake. He was ready to leave immediately when he realized there was a wood burning oven, but I didn't think it was fair after him wanting to go so badly to try the place out. I decided to suck it up and have filled my sinuses with cooling menthol spray since we got home. I should be just fine........I hope....waking up in the morning will tell the tale. If I can breathe without pain, all will be well.
We hunkered down in our nice space to peruse the menus. Unfortunately, with the limited menu there wasn't a lot either of us could eat safely, BUT my husband was able to order a crepe stuffed with ham and apple cranberry chutney and brie and I decided to order the burger special since, other than a green salad there was actually not one other thing on the menu that is remotely safe for me. I decided to rate the meal below using a minimal point system, pro and con. Bear with me because I like to have fun with anything to do with food.
My husband's meal:
+1 point to the good server for the good recommend from the beer menu
+1 point for the fabulously thick and delicious side of beef veggie soup!
+1 point for the light and fluffy crepe
+1 point for the delicious chutney
-1 point for using deli ham roll
-1 point for so little brie as to be nearly non-existent
-1 point for spewing a pattern of French's mustard over the entire top of the crepe
+1 point for the very fresh mixed green salad ingredients
+1 point for the delicious raspberry dressing that did NOT coat every surface of every vegetable
+1 point for the burger bun being fresh
+1 point for the fresh lettuce, onion and tomato on the bun
+1 point for the fresh home made burger patty
-1 point for overcooking that patty so I nearly had to get a saw to cut it
-1 point for bacon so undercooked I had to cut out what bit of meat was actually cooked and leave the rest, plus the gobby fat bits on a side plate
-1 point for using a slice of processed cheese instead of real cheese...gag!!!
-1 point for expecting me to drink a diet soda that was mostly carbonated water and no syrup...could the server not tell by colour of the drink in the glass that something wasn't right with that drink?
My husband figures that thin crust pizzas are their specialty and we just ordered the "wrong" meals from the menu. Since I can't eat anything cooked over a wood fire I will have to take his word for it if he returns and discovers he is correct in his assessment. For myself, I will not be returning. I feel like we wasted even the little bit of money we spent and I risked my health to do it.
So, that is 2 mediocre or worse meals out we have had in a matter of a few days. For me it is strike 2 for The Nest...I love the place, the menu options, the servers and the pianists who entertain so well, but that is my second meal there in the past 8 weeks that was far below what may now be their former standard. The economy is truly taking a toll I suspect as the quality in several of my faves has gone down enough to be noticeable just since the end of November. I suppose I should be happy if we are saving more money by eating out less, but since it is one of the only forms of entertainment we have away from the house I am left feeling most disappointed.
Poor Regina.....the signs of a failing economy are becoming more apparent in many different areas of the retail and restaurant sectors. It makes me sad after experiencing such a great couple of years enjoying what they had to offer that was so much better than when we lived in the area a mere 7 years ago.