Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lunches with Lucy: Souvlaki, Chicken Parmagiana, Italian Subs, and Pasta Salad

Chicken Souvlaki Platter from Café Deluxe – May 26, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, I like getting my lunches from Café Deluxe. They’re a little pricey for lunch, but they offer a great variety.

I ordered the chicken souvlaki platter, which comes with a side Greek salad.

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The chicken was slightly too dry and slightly too bland. Fortunately, the rice was awesome. Each bite was filled with chicken-y goodness. The rice was perfectly cooked, which is highly unusual for a fast food place.

The salad had romaine, onions, tomatoes, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. I don’t remember much about it, except that it was overdressed.

I don’t remember the price, but normally it comes to $11-$13 after tax.

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Chicken Parmagiana from Shakey’s – May 28, 2009

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Shakey’s is located in the World Exchange Centre food court, so its line ups can be daunting. The menu is hit-and-miss, and sadly, this time was a miss.

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I probably should have gotten a sandwich after seeing this stuff sitting in their giant trays.

The platter comes with the chicken parmesan (a fried, breaded chicken cutlet smothered in marinara and sprinkled with cheese), rice, and your choice of salad.

The chicken was atrocious. The cutlet itself was properly seasoned, but the sauce was overly salty and tangy. It was completely one-dimensional flavour. In any tomato-based sauce, there should always be a hint of sweetness. I definitely didn’t get any of that. Worse, I was unable to scrape off the sauce so that I could just eat the cutlet. The sauce soaked the breading right through. Blech.

The rice was overdone and completely bland. Totally different from when I had eaten the chicken souvlaki rice.

The pasta salad was the biggest disappointment. It was oily, flavourless, and starchy. The peppers were the best part of the salad because they were sweet and fresh. There just wasn’t enough of them to carry the salad. Once I ran out of peppers, I couldn’t continue eating the overcooked, mushy pasta.

Since getting this, I have avoided the platters at Shakey’s. The chicken breast sandwich is a better deal. I didn’t write down the price of this, but I imagine it came up somewhere between $8-$11.

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Italian Sub #2 and Pasta Salad from Vie Bella – May 29, 2009

This is normally my stand-by sandwich place. I am completely in love with the spicy eggplant pickles, and would take one of these subs over a lifetime of Subway’s sandwiches.

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Here, I got the #2 (prosciutto, spicy salami, spicy capicollo ham), all dressed. You pay about $5 for a quality sandwich that will fill you, unlike at Subway. The sandwich is quite substantial, and you can see all the toppings they jam in there. The bread is crusty and chewy without being so chewy that you can’t take a proper bite. They toast it, which makes the little shop smell amazing.

After a few bites, you realize that there is a slight, lingering spiciness. It felt like a warm glow in my throat, not a choking kind of spicy. I liked that part.

The service here is pretty fast because they have one person on cash, one person assembling the sub and putting it in the toaster, and one dressing the sub. Subway could learn a lot from this crazy efficient assembly line.

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That day, I was feeling hungrier than usual, and I was craving a good pasta salad. I also bought a small container of their pasta salad. It has bits of red and green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, green olives, feta cheese, parsley, and red onions. It’s pretty expensive at $2.85, but it’s far more delicious than the crap salad I got from Shakey’s.

This time, however, the pasta was overcooked and mush, and there wasn’t enough cheese. The dressing didn’t have enough vinegar, which would have balanced the olive oil nicely.

The total for the day’s lunch came to $8.85. Definitely recommended!

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Café Deluxe
77 Metcalfe Street
(Albert and Metcalfe, facing the bus shelters)
Ottawa, ON
(613) 231-2226

Shakey’s Deli
45 O’Connor Street, 100 Queen Street, and 111 Albert Street
(World Exchange Plaza food court)
Ottawa, ON
(613) 234-2244

Vie Bella
87 Sparks Street
(Between Metcalfe and Elgin)
Ottawa, ON
(613) 230-0666

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