Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Hole in the Wall Restaurant Review

So last weekend (Aug. 29, 2008) we were in the mood to celebrate so we decided to venture out and try The Hole in the Wall restaurant. We had heard from a couple of people that the food was great and worth the drive. Now to get to this restaurant you have to drive out to Blackstrap as the restaurant was situated in the townsite of Shields.

Upon arriving you are greeted by the original gas station sign in front of the Mexican style restaurant. After being greeted by a middle aged waiter with a ponytail, we were seated in a secluded 2 seater table. He went through his spiel of how the restaurant was converted from the gas station that it originally was and to expect a 3-4 hour meal as everything is prepared from scratch. We were told from others of the long meal time so that came as no shock to us. However looking at the menu prices you would think they would have spent a bit more money fixing up the place as the walls were missing paint in a few areas, our table was squeaky and the lighting kept on flickering (this was a bit of an annoyance). Oh well, here's to a first in trying out this restaurant.

After reviewing their scrumptious sounding menu, we decided to go for the combo meal that was priced at $60/person. It included 3 appetizers, soup, salad, 3 entrees, coffee/tea, and dessert. We ended up choosing scallops, mussels and oysters for our appetizers and lamb, duck and ribs for the entrees. To drink we ordered sangrias which was very tasty due to the tiny morsels of apples, pears, lime and oranges they place in it.

The service started out quite well, having spent 20ish minutes pouring over the menu and placing our order shortly after. Our reservations were for 6:30 and we received our sangrias and appetizers shortly after 7. The appetizers were fairly tasty - the raw scallops were definitely the highlight, complimented by a tomato sauce (which surprisingly tasted like a hot sauce that I've made in the past). After finishing off the appetizers we had an hour wait until we received their house salad. It consisted of fresh greens and an orange vinaigrette dressing - definitely a nice, light salad that I loved and will try to reproduce. Shortly after came a chilled Buttermilk Apple puree soup that had tomatoes, corn and cucumbers in it. I am not one for chilled soup but this one was definitely tasty.

After a short wait our entrees came. The duck was slightly under cooked but still tasty, the lamb was slightly over cooked and the ribs were good. I was a tad disappointed in the lamb as I love lamb and was looking forward to this dish and it definitely did not meet up to my standards. All in all, it was a lot of food topped off with a pudding type dessert and coffee.

Overall I would have to say the explanation of the 3-4 hour waiting time for the entire dining experience due to everything prepared fresh was over exaggerated as it seemed like it was just an excuse to only have one server for the entire place with one cook (or so it seemed). Usually I like to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt but when there is an hour wait between appetizers and chilled soup and salad, I cannot justify that by saying everything is prepared fresh so it'll be a longer wait. Also the decor was under par for the prices of the meals they served. However the food was pretty tasty and I am always up for trying new things. The restaurant is the type you should try at least once even if you don't go back.


Anonymous said...

When we arrived we wondered if we had come to the "tradesman's entrance". The entrance was very unprepossessing and the door was difficult to open, making us think we had gone to the wrong door. We gained entry after a bit of effort and were shown to our table. We each selected only a main course, which came out over several hours, practically one mouthful at a time, with soup, salad, sorbet and meat. The portions were fairly small and the meat dishes were tepid... (the fat in the meat was starting to congeal). The white wine bottle was icy cold and wet, while the contents were at room temperature. The waiter smelt like an used ashtray at the start, an odor which became much stronger during a long delay between dishes. The men's washroom was quite unappealling... one of the two urinals was out-of-order, the toilet bowl was full and unflushed, and the wash basin was blocked, with water in the bottom of it, and a wobbly faucet which only ran if held open with one hand.
We were there for 3 hours and 55 minutes for just our "main course", (we chose not to order an entree', dessert or coffee). Including our group, there were fewer than 20 people dining that night. We thought the meals quite expensive, especially considering the setting. The restaurant had been an old car repair workshop in the past, but adding plastic coloured lights around the fire exit, or pink paint over the concrete walls failed to pull off the whole "refined dining" ambience. We felt the meal pricing for this establishment, the meals and the service, were pretentious and we will not be going back.

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