Sunday, August 31, 2014

Even Ben Cartwright Would Cringe

I was recently on a Watertown weekend getaway with a friend. We had a relaxing time in a lovely hotel. Shopping was ok albeit pricey so we didn't come away with much. In fact. even the grocery store prices seemed high. We agreed that we liked the large variety and selection of groceries and came away with a few novelty items.

Our main issue was food. We were hard pressed to find a decent meal or a restaurant with nice atmosphere. We even asked the hotel staff for recommendations. I looked on tripadvisor and noted a few restaurants on their local top 10 list.

On the first night, we went to an old favourite, near the hotel. The drinks were reasonable. The food was fine, but mainly deep fried. We were somewhat surprised at how our orders had been prepared when they arrived. It was acceptable but not as nice as we remembered.

I'm not sure certain whether my palate has become that refined or if I'm just that picky. I don't think either is the case. My friend agreed about the meals. We thought we'd hit an off day when we lunched at a well known establishment, one of the highest ranked in town, but found the food mediocre, not terrible, not memorable. The place was noisy and unfamiliar.

Hotel staff suggested a new locale in the Salmon Run Mall called Skewed Brewing (ranked #13 on tripadvisor). We were hesitant about a mall restaurant but decided to take their advice. It turned out to be a large cold looking bar with high ceilings, some well hidden  entertainment and passable but not great food. I carefully selected lunch, a salad and sandwich with chicken, goat cheese and other nutritious ingredients. When it arrived I picked up my sandwich only to have grease ooze onto my hand. It had been somehow grilled in fat. The coffee was serve yourself from those large thermos type things. It looked like an attempt to create a coffee bar... a nice idea. When I went to help myself, the thermos was empty as were the cream containers. A staff member took my cup, walked away and brought it back full. Odd.

So this brings me to the worst meal ever. I have decided that I don't really understand the concept of the Ponderosa. I'm surprised they still exist. I have a vague memory of one near my home when I was young. You walk in and order, then pay at a counter. Sit down, and still have wait staff bring food and drinks after they take the order to the kitchen. Is this somehow efficient? Does it save time or money? If so, how? There's the option of adding a buffet to your meal. I suppose that's in case you need a second meal, particularly if you find the first one inedible or not sufficiently carb laden. In fairness, I did notice jello and some pieces of fruit when I checked the buffet prior to ordering.

Anyhow, I was surprised at how many people raved about this place on tripadvisor. I of course had to add my opinion. Having said that, I'm pretty certain that out of my forty or so reviews, the only other one which was ever this bad might have been, "It's Time...Implode" giving my opinion of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.

So here's the link for my review, although I'll probably just copy and paste it below. By the way, since my review and a few others have been added, I've noted that the ranking has slipped from #59 to #67.
http://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g48812-d520707-r224712321-Ponderosa-Watertown_New_York.html

Stay Away!”
1 of 5 starsReviewed 26 August 2014NEW
I'm not certain where some of these reviewers were eating but it certainly wasn't the same Ponderosa I just experienced. There's a huge banner hanging outside the restaurant, (a term which I use loosely). It reads "Canadian money accepted at par". This tricks unsuspecting types from north of the border into the restaurant. My friend and I attempted to eat here thinking it might be worthwhile. We ordered our meals and paid at the counter. After examining same, we decided not to partake of the added buffet. We sat at a table as requested and our drinks and salad came.The salad was almost inedible, made from iceberg lettuce with dressing that tasted as if it had been thinned with vinegar. My meal arrived and the waitress suggested I cut through the meat to see if it was done to my liking. I declined, but when I went to start eating my food, I noted that my meat had already been cut through. I couldn't help wondering whether someone else had sent it back. I waited politely for my friend to get her meal and when it didn't arrive, she told me to start. I tasted the baked potato and joked that the kitchen might have tried that new cooking in the dishwasher technique. How can someone ruin a baked potato? My friend finally asked for her meal since I was almost finished. She was told yet again, "it's coming, it's almost ready". Eventually, it arrived after I was done with mine. By done, I mean I moved the food around the plate in an attempt to find something I could consume without gagging. Now for the good. Yes there was some. I had a dinner roll which was not bad. I also had a skewer of shrimp which was quite good and saved the day. This is the only reason I gave the Ponderosa the generous rating of one.

Service was poor. Food was sub standard in quality and taste. All I can say is that if this restaurant is ranked 59 of 131 in Watertown, I can only imagine how horrible the other seventy two establishments must be.
  • Visited August 2014


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