Nachos at Cineplex

Cineplex nachosLocation: 110 Courtneypark Drive East, Mississauga
Websitehttps://www.cineplex.com/Theatres/FoodAndDrink

Yes, I’m reviewing movie theatre nachos.  Big whoop, wanna fight about it?

I actually used to really like the nachos at Cineplex!  They’re junk, but tasty junk.  Or at least, they were.

I haven’t had them in ages, but I feel like they used to be way better.  Maybe I’m crazy.

The nacho cheese sauce used to be salty goo that had almost no resemblance to anything even close to real cheese — and yet there was something oddly satisfying about it.

I’ll admit that it’s quite possible I’m just getting snobbier, but the nachos lacked the junky joys of their previous self.

It probably doesn’t help that the cheese comes in pre-filled containers that are too small to dip chips into.

Cineplex nachos

Seriously, who designed this??  Why not make the cups slightly shorter and wider?  It’s a definite “you had one job” situation.

Even outside of the hilariously ill-conceived containers, the cheese itself seemed less salty, and like it was actually trying to resemble real cheese.  But it did this extremely poorly, so you wind up with something with a neither-here-nor-there flavour that’s bland and unsatisfying.

The chips themselves are exactly as I remember them, at least.  They’re not great (and they always taste vaguely stale), but they’re crunchy and satisfying.

The jalapenos are the clear highlight.  I love pickled jalapenos, but when you buy them at the supermarket, they’re inevitably mushy, with a disappointingly mild level of spice.  These ones have a great crunch and a decent amount of heat.  They take something that would otherwise be mostly inedible and make it tolerable.

Tasty Pizza at Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza

Goodfellas Wood Oven PizzaLocation: 209 Queen Street South, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.goodfellaspizza.ca/

I mentioned, in my review of Pi Co., that I think a Margherita pizza is one of the world’s few perfect foods.  I’m at the point now where if I see a Margherita pizza on a menu, I pretty much have to order it.

Aside from the fact that it’s great (don’t even argue about that unless you want me to challenge you to a old-fashioned duel), it’s the easiest way to gauge the quality of a pizza joint.

Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza

There’s no hiding behind fancy toppings or sauces; it’s just crust, plain tomato sauce, mozzarella, olive oil, and basil.  You have to know your way around a pizza (and a pizza oven), or you’re probably going to mess it up.

And Goodfellas definitely passes the Margherita test, though I will admit that I got very concerned when I saw the waiter bringing a neighbouring table a pizza with a crust that looked flat, colourless, and horrible.  I was ready to dive out the nearest window and then run until my legs gave out from under me — but then I heard a reference to gluten-free, and all was right again.

Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza

If you can’t (or won’t) eat gluten, maybe don’t eat pizza?  Don’t ruin something great for yourself by eating whatever the hell that was.  It looked truly dire.

Thankfully, the actual, non-gluten-free pizza is pretty great.  The proportion of cheese and sauce is just right, and the crust is top notch (ah, sweet sweet gluten).  It was slightly over-charred in spots and maybe a touch too dense, but it was still very tasty.

It had just the right amount of crispiness without being too crunchy, and a satisfying chewiness that contrasts very nicely with the sauce and the cheese.  Like all Margherita pizzas, it’s simple, but hard to resist.

Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich at Wendy’s

Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich from Wendy'sLocation: 1569 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttps://www.wendys.com/en-ca/home

I actually quite like Wendy’s.  I mean, it’s still a fast food chain, so it’s not great — but it’s one of the better ones.

Well, usually, at least.

The Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich definitely isn’t their finest hour.  It’s a fried chicken sandwich served on a croissant bun and topped with Swiss cheese, maple glaze, and bacon.

It’s super sweet and super dry, and I just did not enjoy eating it at all.

Bacon Maple Chicken Sandwich from Wendy's

The “maple glaze” is basically just thick, sludgy maple syrup.  It’s intensely sweet and far too overwhelming for a sandwich like this.  The mildly spicy chicken patty (you can get spicy or original) helps to balance out the sweetness a little bit, but it’s not nearly enough to overcome the sugar overload.

Everything else is dry.  The fried chicken patty is dry, the “croissant” bun is dry (and aside from the cosmetic, it has zero croissant-like properties), the completely unmelted cheese is dry — even the bacon is dry.  I like crispy bacon as much as the next guy, but the glass-like strips in this sandwich were taking it a bit too far.

It really needed additional sauce to give it moisture, but adding more of the maple glaze would pretty much be instant diabetes.  The whole thing is head-scratchingly misguided.

Unique Pork Cheeseburgers at Harmony Lunch

Harmony LunchLocation: 90 King Street North, Waterloo
Websitehttps://harmonylunch.ca/

Harmony Lunch makes me mad.  Not because the food is bad — it’s actually quite good.  That’s the problem.

I went to the University of Waterloo, so I lived in the area for four years, and I somehow managed to go that entire time without knowing that this place existed.  To add insult to injury: it’s right around the corner from the Princess Cinema, an art house theatre that was a regular destination for me during my time in Waterloo.  So it was right there, and I had no idea.

Harmony Lunch

Harmony Lunch is a legit old-school diner (it’s been around since 1930) that’s mostly known for their pork-based hamburgers that are served with a generous amount of griddled onions (along with tomato, relish, mustard, and American cheese).

It’s basically a classic griddled hamburger, only with pork instead of beef.  I missed the beef — in the context of a hamburger, the much milder flavour of pork feels like a downgrade when you’re expecting that nice beefy hit.  But then I’m kinda burger-obsessed, so maybe I’m biased.

Harmony Lunch

Certainly, it’s hard to complain too much when the final product is so tasty.  The patty is otherwise just right, with a good texture, a nice amount of crust from the griddle, and a satisfying juiciness.  And the combo of the pork patty, the soft griddled onions, and the gooey American cheese is hard to resist.

It’s all on a soft, fresh bun that’s been lightly toasted on both sides, and that suits the burger perfectly.

Harmony Lunch

I got it with the house salad on the side, which was nicely prepared and featured a deliciously zingy dressing.

So… how did I manage to live in Waterloo for four years without knowing about this place??  Who should I be furious at?  I need to direct this anger somewhere.

Outstanding (if untraditional) Philly Cheesesteaks at Illstyl3 Sammies

Illstyl3 SammiesLocation: 300 Richmond Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.facebook.com/Illstyl3-Sammies-227723081025310/

I’ve mentioned before that it’s surprisingly difficult to find a classic Philly cheesesteak in the city (i.e. just steak, onions, and Cheese Wiz or provolone on a roll).

But if every cheesesteak could be as delicious as what they’re serving at Illstyl3 Sammies, then classic shmassic.  Because it’s far from traditional, but exceptionally delicious.

Illstyl3 Sammies

And it’s classic enough.  The steak, the onions, and the gooey provolone are all perfect.  In particular, the steak is exactly as it should be — it’s super tender, and has enough of a beefy taste to assert itself even among the very assertive flavours of the sandwich.

Specifically, they liberally season the beef with some kind of spice blend (the fennel stands out the most, but there’s definitely a lot going on here), and they add in hot peppers along with the onions. They also top the sandwich with a zesty house-made hot sauce that adds a ton of flavour and a very mild spiciness.

Illstyl3 Sammies

The taste is very far from a classic cheesesteak, but it’s got the three things you’re hoping for: it’s beefy, cheesy, and delicious.

My only real complaint is that the roll was a bit on the dry side, but other than that this was a top-shelf sammich.