Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Canal Bistro

We had another place in mind last night, and.... we really should have suffered through the wait. But, instead, we went to Canal Bistro. It is a known quantity to the Better Half and I, but mom had not been. I am fond of the lamb Mediterranean burger there, and I have very good memories of the garlic & feta fries, so... I was looking forward to the visit.

We saw out on the patio that is along Guilford, and this is one exceptionally nice thing about Canal Bistro, they have a lot of seating outside. Especially if you are in a party of two, as there are numerous tables for two along the canal side. I like the decor, and the service is for the most part pretty prompt. We started out with the baba ganoush. It is smoky and very smooth. In fact, it is so smooth and there are so few egg plant seeds, it seems like it might be blended in with some hummus - which isn't a bad thing. The quality of the pita was a bit mixed, which sort of seems picky to mention. One thing I am not a fan of at all here is the spice mix they put in with the olive oil for the complimentary pita bread you are given when you arrive. (No other pictures as the low lighting and flashless iPhone left me with just a few blurry exposures)

Now, despite really enjoying the lamb burger, I tried the spicy tilapia sandwich. It was okay. The fish was fried well and the sauce had some bit, but ultimately it seemed like a buffalo fish sandwich on crumbly pita. The Better Half had the gyro, which was.... well, I don't know. It was okay, as well. It was tightly wrapped up what I think was more of a tortilla than a pita, and so it seemed like you ordered a gyro wrap at a place like McAllister's or something. The gyro meat tasted the part, but there was too much of the tzatziki sauce. And, let me make a mention about the tzatziki sauce - it was too watery and devoid of chunks of anything. It was garlicky, yes, but it struck me as a sign of lower quality in their components. The other disappointment was the garlic and feta fries. Now, it has been about a year since we were last there, but I remember a much higher quality fry, and remember them as thinner. But, maybe I confuse them with somewhere else. I also remember the feta and garlic being distributed in a lighter "tossing" with the fries. The fries we were served last night were a thick, gooey cluster of what seemed like cheap frozen bagged fries and just too much feta and oil, to the point that the fries were soggy as soon as they landed in front of you. Not good.

Mom had the lamb kebab, and this was an excellent dish. There is lots of meat, the lamb was all between medium and medium-well and was still nice and moist, it stood well on it's own (you didn't have to use the tzatziki sauce).

My memory of Canal Bistro was much better than how the night turned out. Now, the fact that yet another fierce late spring storm blew in as we were finishing and had us scurrying to the inside had nothing to do with the quality of the meal. The service, which in my memory was always fast and exceptional, was on this night kind of lackadaisical. But, based on seeing our neighboring tables' waitress far more than we saw our own, I think it was individual rather than institutional.

If this was my first visit - I'd likely not go back at all. There are too many other good Mediterranean choices in town (namely Saffron Cafe and Santorini's). But, my memory holds out hope that it can be salvaged - and I'll go back to see if the lamb burger is still as good as I remember.

The verdict: 2 belly rubs (out of 5). Sandwiches are a good value, but poor execution this night, and the fries were a globbed mess.

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