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 can relate to Alfredo’s Pub in a metaphorical manner. It’s probably the most depressing looking restaurant based purely on its exterior. It literally has nothing in external decor save its sign. The doors offer the impression I’m sneaking in through the back—it looks that dull. No windows except for one small smoked strip—if a Stephen King-like mist were to descend upon the city, Alfredo’s is that one cliché you would flee to.
Thankfully, the interior is much better, probably one of the better pubs I’ve seen outside of College Heights. Once again, my chair had wheels, but beyond a few framed hockey cards, I wasn’t sodomized by an excess Sports memorabilia. The TV count stood at an impressive ten. I was hearing what initially sounded like Basil Poledouris’s soundtrack for Conan the Barbarian, which would rate Alfredo’s Pub’s overhead music as the best of all time. However, when the unpleasant screeching of electric guitars cued in, I realized I had been duped. It was another example of cross-genre metal, like artists mixing perfectly pleasant bass violin with what could only sound like belt sanders being run over farm animals. I find genre mixing generally appealing except when the electric guitar is inserted. When it comes to emotional range, the electric guitar is near the bottom of the list, right there with clacking spoons and only slighter higher than the harmonica and the sound a sumo wrestler makes when you gut punch him with a sledgehammer. Not even when the lyrics speak of dragons and magic will I feign enjoyment. By the next track, it fell back into that musical monotony you hear in dentist offices or playing in the background of a test pattern on cable TV at 4:00 am. Coincidentally enough, there’s a dentist office next door, and I was tempted to walk over and see if the music was the same. I’d welcome seasonal music over this, the likes I’m forced to endure daily at my work.
At least Alfredo’s embraced the depressing Christmas season with hanging wreathes and waist-height trees. After scanning the local clientele, I can judge Alfredo’s to be a successful location during lunchtime, as I share this pre-Afternoon with six others. I’m also the youngest by at least 40 years, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating that comment. Half of them had canes.
I might have jumped the preamble a bit. Alfredo’s is located quite a distance from downtown, a pattern I’m discovering with pubs. A Nash equilibrium (yup, tapping game theory, brace yourselves) explains that competing firms will often locate close to one another and offer similar products with little to distinguish them. This explains why auto body places and restaurants often sit near each other and why pubs seem to always look the same. And Alfredo could be confused with Steamers or even the pre-renovated College Heights Pub. But where the theory breaks down is that pubs appear to be scattered almost equal distance from competition, perhaps more a reflection of how a pub is different from a restaurant. The nearest restaurant to Alfredo’s, beyond the statutory Tim Hortons down the street, is Shooters (another pub). Alfredo’s (or a pub in this location) has been here for as a long as I’ve been alive.
I ended up ordering the special, a Philly cheese steak—feeling a pattern coming on. The daily soup was French onion; the last one I enjoyed (stretching the word) was topped with store-bought croutons. This one had an actual piece of bread with a bed of melted cheese. Now, we’re talking. The sandwich was served on a bun this time. The dip wasn’t too salty. This was a meal I felt actually showed some measure of effort. Someone tried to make a good lunch, and you might be surprised how rarely I encounter that. The soup had to be assembled. I’m not saying it was the best Philly cheese steak ever. Not even close. The bun needed to be toasted more; the meat could’ve stayed on the grill a little longer. But the soup was a real stand out. I didn’t even break open the requisite saltines. I’m trying to tamper my praise by reminding myself of the last two great meals I had at Original Joes, but on its own, or when compared to other restaurants, Alfredo’s isn’t half bad, and sounding like a broken record from previous pub reviews, there’s isn’t a lot of competition nearby. And what’s even better, the pub also shares this shopping space with a deli, so you can score some dinner chow before you leave.
I have to end the review by commenting again that pubs aren’t my thing. It’s my mandatory disclaimer, so when I offer even middling praise, it should mean something. In the case of College Heights Pub, it was shocking how good it was. Offering golf clap applause to Afredo’s Pub should also be considered a compliment. It’s a mark of a good pub if patrons don’t feel depressed when visiting, which may come as a surprise given it looks like a warehouse from the outside. With a final price tag—tax in—of seven cents over ten dollars, Alfredo’s proves a score in the value category, elevating to be an actual recommendation.