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 cold and very hungry. This is the opposite of what Japan must feel like.
I entered Shooters Bar & Grill and was immediately reminded of why I don’t fancy pubs. I felt as out of place as a Mennonite at a Sex & the City convention. This place was inundated with customers of the geriatric persuasion drowning their Christmas spirit with all manners of spirits. Now I admit I’m no longer a spring chicken, but I’ve yet to find elevator music pleasant; I don’t lean forward in a car going uphill, and I’ve yet to have a shower and forget which body parts I’ve yet to wash. I feel young, if that matters, far younger than any of those sitting around me.
Ten oversized TVs, some bigger than a fiat, hang from the ceiling of Shooters dominant serving area, far overshadowing those of the Alpine, and I hadn’t even counted the upper floor or the adjoining rooms. The area I found myself in wasn’t even that big; why do we need so many and so large? Is this entire city near-sighted? At this rate, the next pub I’ll go to will just projections on the roof or virtual reality headsets whisking you away to alternate environments…like better pubs. Perhaps the pub will just be a gigantic walk in television.
Shooters is the closest example to a Hollywood pub, like what people who imagine a pub is like and have unlimited amount of money to make one. The beer taps are towering sculptures overshadowing the bartenders. The alcohol advertisements are carved or backlit. The entire structure seems carved from a single sequoia. Yes, all of this is deserving of praise, but like the laminate flooring made to resemble wood paneling, it’s all veneer glued to pulp.
Shooters is shit.
But you’re probably wondering how I could possibly slot Shooters as inferior when rated against other pubs. Shooters fails at the bare basics of what I ask for in a place dedicated to food ingestion. Other pubs, even when they disappoint (and they do so often), it’s not for the lack of trying. They don’t benefit from a good location. They don’t have the best food. They may not even look that pretty, but I’ve never encountered a pub that simply didn’t try to earn my service. Also, with locations like Alpine or Alfredo’s, I wasn’t expecting much, but Shooters profits from an posh decor wrapped in an expensive exterior dropped near the dead center of town. Shooters doesn’t believe it needs to try very hard, and it appears to be working as its one of the busiest locations I’ve been to during lunch service.
But I have to admit Shooters is pretty. This is a great looking pub. It’s no College Heights mind you, but when you pass brochures about what a clichéd Canadian bar should look like, Shooters would grace the cover. So where does my ire focus? Where it matters most…the food. The suggested special was a beef vegetable soup with a cold roast beef and cheddar sandwich. I complimented the Alpine’s bravado for offering a fish special, and here was Shooters running to the opposite extreme, offering one of the laziest, most boring dishes one could think of, something off an Arby’s menu. It misses the mark by such a degree, I ignored it and ordered a breaded chicken Panini, which if it arrived any faster, would’ve gone back in time. Am I praising haste? Absolutely not. When you order something and it arrives twice as fast as the time it takes you make likewise at home with prepared ingredients, you know something was microwaved. A breaded chicken cutlet cannot by fried in the same time it takes bread to toast. And like I expected, the chicken was dry and tough at the ends. It also looked more like a fajita than a Panini. It was also presented with a dipping sauce that tasted like Jakes hot sauce thickened with cream. Disgusting.
My beef and tomato soup barely had any beef in it. The lettuce in the sandwich was wilted. Seriously, this is below Westwood Pub quality. At least their ingredients were fresh. It maybe might not have been so bad if it wasn’t for the extraordinary price of it all. When I first opened the menu, I was blindsided with starters costing in excess of $13. No mention of half orders. You say it’s for sharing? Yeah, I’m sure chicken fingers is worth 13 bucks, go for it. And if you can get a plate of nachos at Boston Pizza the size of a hubcap for $11.75, I’d like to know what Shooters is offering by charging $2.20 more.
In fact, all the prices seemed to border on extortion. Yes, I’ve paid more for food, substantially more, but in those cases I either got more food or the quality made me appreciate what I ‘d paid for. If a place overcharges only because they serve alcohol, than pay for a decent meal and by a six pack on your way home. To pour salt on this dish, which probably could’ve used some, I was charged an extra $1.95 for swapping the fries for the soup. So you’re telling me a half-order of soup costs two dollars more than a pound of fries?
Yes, this pisses me off, Shooters is the kind of pub I hate going to, one that thinks it deserves your patronage rather than earning it. At least crappy pubs like Steamers and Westwood don’t charge you an arm and a leg. College Heights was actually good. Alpine and Alfredo’s fall somewhere in between. Shooters stands on its own in a new class of disappointment. Mediocre overpriced food flying from the doors of a pub whose only positive trait is a beneficial location. Does a good location give a restaurant absolution to let standards fall? No, because if that were true, then why would I rather be at Sassafras Savouries around the block. That’s right, just around the block. I don’t drink so there’s absolutely no reason for me to ever be here. Some pubs at least offer the impression they could be something more. I got that from College Heights, a little bit from Alfredo’s, but not at Steamers and definitely not from Shooters, but I think with Shooters I’m even more disappointed considering its panache and location. It’s also owned by the same guy who owns both the BX and the College Heights Pub. So even though he won’t care to change Shooters’ practices given the number of people here, I implore him to at least make an effort. Do these people really need to inject fermented vegetable beverages into their veins 30 minutes past noon? If they don’t, then they should walk round the corner and order some good food