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.
Damn it! I thought I was done!
Even though I’d recently considered expanding my blog to include chains like Moxis and Earls, I was still placated by the fact that the primary phase of my blog had been completed. I have my first dinner reserved this week with another to follow the week after. So why did no one tell me about Sliders? And no, not the pedestrian sci-fi bowel movement from the 1990’s, I’m referring to the restaurant shoehorned into the old Tastebuds cafe at Parkwood. In defense, I can hardly be blamed; I rarely go to our theater (on the account of it being crap). I discovered Sliders during my errant wandering while awaiting The Avengers. I had only patronized Tastebuds once before and found it as original and as satisfying as a Michael Bay movie (sour topic).
Sliders gratefully dumped the coffee crutch for one apparently inspired by the many video rental stores which have closed down in the past five years, a sound financial investment to me. This was against my previous assumption implied by the name that Sliders was perhaps a sports bar. If it doesn’t reference baseball, then perhaps it took its name from the famous White Castle miniature hamburgers average people buy to make themselves look huge when eating them. I suppose it could also allude to the viscous nature of your feces as it’s ejected from your body with the speed and shape of ferret on a path paved with saturated fat after enjoying a meal there.
Thankfully, I didn’t get that impression upon walking in. Sliders looks pleasant and unintimidating. In fact, it does that so well, I was certain Sliders was part of a chain. It looks so much like one, I had to ask the waitress that attended me. She affirmed it was locally owned. Like Daddy’Os, Sliders is a restaurant which appears part of a franchise despite not being one, and like the aforementioned pizza and rib joint, Sliders also takes a few cues from Boston Pizza. However, Sliders only borrows broad concepts and doesn’t photocopy the decor.
On the initial pass, Sliders looked like a movie memorabilia store had its shelves removed and replaced with tables, though the end-product is one of the best looking restaurants in town. I’m biased; it’s probably because I’m such a movie aficionado. From my twenty years working around movies, I can spout considerable amounts of trivia on virtually any genre. I can kick anyone’s ass in Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (the trick is knowing the ensemble films he’s done, like JFK or Apollo 13). So I felt right at home in Sliders. Burgundy paneling is met half way up the walls by a rim of DVD movie covers framed in a plastic faux filmstrip. I could tell how old Sliders was not by checking its business license but by the movies advertised on the wall. Barney’s Version puts it no older than seven months, unless they rotate these (if so, kudos).
This small bistro only has eighteen tables, a lot for a place this cozy, and yet it also sports five large flat panel televisions and a fully stocked bar. Movie memorabilia sit on shelves out of reach, including a Dark Knight Joker bust and a matching credit poster. This level of workmanship in a locally own restaurant is extremely rare, and I do mean extremely rare. It actually beats out most chains I’ve found, without offering the impression that it’s trying to be one of them. Of course, if we had a Planet Hollywood, I may make such an accusation, but since no one is likely to ever eat there, seeing something even one degree off is a shocking surprise. Of course, unlike that famous franchise, you won’t find any rare artifacts of the movie industry—withered credit posters and DVD cases are the best we can hope for.
Sliders stands out, and not because it looks a thousand times better than most of the places I’d been to. This deserves to be down the hall from the Colossus in Vancouver, not down the sidewalk from one of the most depressing multiplexes in the province, though I will admit this may force me down the line of discourse ranting about my displeasure with our local theater.
I really shouldn’t—okay, twist my arm, to put it simply, it blows. The staff doesn’t walk the aisles, allowing clods, hooligans, and rednecks to continually disrupt showings. They had a real problem with broken speakers for a while. Their seats are uncomfortable. The entire theater was designed without adopting the modern stadium-style popular everywhere else. And don’t get me started on the annoying habit of their ticket machines to not work. Going to our local theater feels like a chore…and it shouldn’t be. The death of the theater in our modern global interconnected world starts right here, with theaters that believe they’re entitled to your business. Welcome to the 21st century, Famous Players; we no longer need you. Now you have to work for our business like everyone else.
Okay, I feel better.
Sliders looks good, wait I said that. Well, it was worth mentioning twice. This I won’t repeat, even though it deserves to be, the service was well above average, if not downright praiseworthy. I opened with the special, a coconut curry soup, delivered at warp speed. Although just a few degrees above tepid, the flavour was well above the Campbell’s soup gravity dumps I’ve been ordering lately. This was followed a few minutes later by the Philly cheese steak, fringed with a side of Punjabi pakoras. Yes, that was an actual side option I jumped at the chance to order. I’ve never seen a restaurant where you can swap out fries with pakoras. What a magnificent clash of cuisines, to have Indian food flanking an American cheese steak. The pakoras were fried to order and served with mango chutney, though a tad salty and overbrowned; I would still order them over French fries any day.
With both the starter and meal, adding up under $20, this was one of the first times I seriously thought I wouldn’t be able to clean my plate. As I paced myself, I glanced to the TV above the bar to watch a program about other restaurants, kind of odd. What was even more bizarre was the restaurant being discussed—an eccentric Japanese novelty which resembled a colossal bathroom. Everyone sat on toilets surrounded by shower stalls. The hot pots were served in custom-made miniature toilets. Even the dessert, a chocolate mousse I’m hopefully assuming, resembled a long snaking cable of continuous poop…
…The steak sandwich was really good.
It takes a lot more than that to ruin my appetite. I was also hungry given the blood tests inflicted on me the hour previous, where a Mr. Magoo simulacrum decided to go for the “shotgun” approach in finding a decent vein. I could have eaten the crumbs off a hobo’s summer jacket. It was amazing fortune that I found Sliders and not another Chinese buffet. I approve of the decor and the selection was impressive and unique. Simply put, Sliders is one of the best restaurants I’ve discovered in this tiny city. Though not elevated to the posh bistros of White Goose, North 54, or Cimos, and not offering the ethnic bliss of the many Vietnamese or Indian places in town, which are all great, Sliders does take the trophy as the best of the rest. When comparing it to all the Denny’s, Boston Pizza, and Moxi wannabes, Sliders passes the finish line, having already lapped the competition.