Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jolly Friar Cafe (Norwood Hotel): 2.8/5

Bacon Burger
Score: 3.2

Fat Boy
Score: 3.0

Cheese Burger
Score: 2.2

When you go for a burger at The Norwood, have the ribs!

Several of us had dined in the bar before and the pizza was good and the ribs were great. Why not try a burger? I made the mistake of making a reservation - that put us in the little Jolly Friar Cafe instead of just walking into The Wood Tavern - oops. They set up tables for us on pretty short notice (albeit in an awkward boomerang shape) so I figured we'd better just stick with the restaurant rather than moving to the bar.

The restaurant was pleasantly decorated and the tables and chairs were comfortable. Our meals came on nice big plates with real cutlery. There's one kitchen and one buffet, but the bar’s $9 "Super Deluxe Wood" costs $11.75 around the corner in the cafe. I think people were more disappointed at not being able to say they wanted “Super Deluxe Wood” than the larger price. The second mistake I made was not listening to the alarm bell that went off when, after making the reservation, I told the person on the other end we were all having burgers and she said "Why don't you have the buffet?"

They were not prepared for a group of our size. The kitchen was running out of ingredients and our waitress was challenged to keep up. She did her best to make things right though, and fixed all the mistakes with patience and a smile. She also discounted all of our bills and we ended up paying less than we would have in the bar. She didn’t have to do that, so that was quite generous.

The kitchen used both their flame broilers to prepare all our burgers at once. The patties looked huge on the grill and took a while to cook thoroughly. Our meals were pretty much ready all at once, but no one helped our waitress bring out the food so it took her five trips. She was already returning plates for correction before she'd even finished bringing out the first wave of meals. Most of the mistakes were in the toppings and by the time April got her lettuce and tomato served to her on a side plate, they’d obviously come from someone else’s burger – mayonnaise and all! It’s a good thing we’re all friends here or that might be disconcerting. Burger Clubbers write down on their review slips what they had and Tazz noted “Friar Burger with bacon: Missing onions, missing tomato, missing bacon. Missing the point of serving a good burger.”

The patty itself was large, thick and hand formed. It was a fine grind but had a tangy flavour which some really liked and some didn't. To me, it tasted like there might have been vinegar in the meat. There was some debate that the taste was the "tangy burger sauce." I pulled off a bit of meat and thought it had the same tanginess. The bacon was crispy and my two slices were standing at attention. I like crispy bacon and I enjoyed the flavour of mine, but others had bacon that was burned quite black. There were two kitchens and three cooks preparing our meals so that may explain some of the differences. My two slices of Roma tomato were ripe (others had green tomatoes), but miniscule compared to the patty - two bites and they were gone. Scott commented “I understand the need to save time by pre-slicing the vegetables; I just wish they hadn't sliced them during WW II.” There was the tiniest amount of sauce on the top and bottom bun of my burger. It definitely wasn't a messy burger. They put standard condiments in squeeze bottles on the table, but I guess because Kari specifically asked for mustard and relish on hers, she got little containers on the side. The whole wheat Kaiser was a nice size for the burger and held together well. The bun was good.

I tried the fries - they actually tasted like they'd been reheated in a microwave. I don't know if that's really what happened, but that’s how the texture and taste was. The brown stuff tasted like greasy flour. The yam fries however, were delicious. Esther’s poutine tasted great with lots of melted curds, but when April got her order a little while later, it had greasy melted mozzarella all over it. Hmm. Stan commented “Took a few reminders and coffee didn't arrive 'til I was half finished the burger. It was very good when it came.” Also, “Easily the worst coleslaw I've ever had.” Omega Russ noted “Onion rings were standard freezer fare” and his “Coke was nice.”

I think the moral of the story at The Norwood is to have the special or have the buffet. Tazz summarized with “The Wood Tavern put the words bu and grrr in burger!”

Jolly Friar Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Wood Tavern on Urbanspoon


  1. I wanted to find the person who made that gravy and ask them how they managed to make something that bad. The purple onion pieces had more taste than the rest of the burger.

  2. If we go back, can we sit closer to the dance floor? I had trouble seeing the dancer unless I went to the bathroom.

  3. Maybe you could do ribs next? I would love to know where the best ribs are.

  4. Large groups always screw things up for both the restaurant and other customers. You may have been overly harsh with your criticism - at those prices, they can't exactly put on a bunch of extra staff for 1 hour to accomodate you. Think about it.


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