I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
I’m trying to figure out if having two open signs is an act of desperation.
Are they pleading with potential customers or are they attempting to remind them that the Connaught is an actual restaurant and not some morbid example of failed city planning, having stood stalwart in one of the busiest intersections of town against neighbors torn and rebuilt time and again over Connaught’s impressive lifespan. Connaught has an open sign next to its hours of operation and a second oversized-hand-written sign repeating the fact a few feet over. “Come in, we’re open”. I felt like the word “please” should have been added. The hours of operation have obviously changed because the opening “7” is in a different font and the closing “8” is in paper. This forces me to question the problem solving skills of the owners since a flat knife could remove the old number and the replacement cost is about the same as my beef barley starter.
With tables pleasantly spread, the Connaught obviously must service a large customer base. I don’t imply a large number of customers; I mean a “large” customer base, where people get winded when they stand. Most of the tables are booths, as why alienate your customer base with chairs they couldn’t sit in. And yes, I admit having a rather significant posterior, but I can sit comfortably in a charter flight coach seat, so I feel I have the right to make the observation.
The decor felt more at place in a hospital cafeteria, with disco-era flower pattern plastic seats against taupe bricks and worn wooden railings. And there was a rather disconcerting brown stain running down the middle of the ceiling, like someone either managed to projectile vomit with such speed as to achieve escape velocity or someone lost their bowels during a brief case of reverse gravity. Although someone could easily explain this as being grease condensation from the kitchen, I would counter that the stain is not circular and runs down the side of the wall.
The waitress recommended a beef barley soup and steak sandwich. I also accepted the offer of gravy with my fries, because it’s been a few months since my cholesterol dangled my hairy avocados in front of the three-headed dog of Cerberus. I know the barley soup was made on site, though I still wished it didn’t taste like it was dropped from a Campbell’s soup tin. The sealed saltines flanking the bowl reminded me to lower my standards. Unlike D’Lanos across the street, Connaught’s tables are large enough to accommodatee all the required condiments and coffee creamers with enough spared for actual food.
The waitress didn’t treat me like someone wearing a Marylyn Manson Bad Religion shirt at a Jehovah’s Witness convention when I declined to have coffee. At least my gravy didn’t have an undertow. It was generously but deliberately rationed over my fries, which were, with a bit of shock, good. I felt the name steak sandwich to be a bit of a fib. I mean I always pictured sliced fillets mixed with cheese and onions and shoehorned into a submarine. What I usually got was a trimmed slab of cow over a toasted piece of wonder bread. Connaught didn’t even put the steak on the bread, like I was enjoying some deconstructed art exhibit of what a sandwich could be. This was a small steak with garlic bread and a half-plate of fries. The steak was simply average.
Once again I’m forced to deliver mixed praise for a family restaurant, meaning I have to offer penance to the church of Gordon Ramsay by reciting twenty “fuck you’s” in front of a mirror. The food isn’t terrible and if forced between the competition, I would select Connaught over D’Lanos, which I can still see from my peripheral vision. This meal satisfied me, but like a dinner should. I just wanted to unbutton my trousers and watch hockey, which is weird since I hate hockey and never wear pants around the house unless I have company…
…at this point in the blog, you officially know too much about me.
The biggest problem Connaught remains the same mentioned numerous times already: Why go here when clearly better places are nearby. Beyond D’Lanos, U&Me is two blocks down, and up the road is Cimos. However, if neither of those interests you, I would vote for Connaught over D-Lanos, Tokyo Sushi, or China Cup, but it’s like picking your preference between the endings of Mass Effect 3 (still bitter). D’Lanos practically pre-chews your food, Tokyo Sushi treats you like the white boyfriend presented to a Chinese family (like I’ve no idea what THAT feels like), and China Cup is wrapped in an oversized medical alert bracelet.
Hotel restaurants are rarely required to appease any culinary deities unless they have some landmark history in the town they’re set. Connaught hasn’t budged or altered its motif in the entirety of my life, and I can appreciate their lack of effort in trying. It’s a truck stop diner mated to a gas station motor lodge (sans the gas station) luckily located in the near the dead center of town. I doubt I’ll ever return but at least I can say the experience wasn’t painful, high praise from me in regards to a family restaurant but a quote I’m doubtful to see on their menu.
1550 Victoria St
Prince George, BC V2L2L4