Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21st - Winter Solstice Festival at Kensington Market - Supermarket

Holidays are not only conducive to overeating in general but overeating out.  This is exacerbated by living away from home.  The easiest way to catch up with friends and family is over food or a drink.  So only after my disappointing Mexican disaster at Hernando's I was catching up with my cousin H only a few hours later for a Winter Solstice festival in Kensington.
Supermarket's un-Pad Thai
It's funny.  H has lived in the Queen West area for nearly a decade and she's never been to this annual, grass roots festival.  For the evening of the Winter Solstice, there is a parade through the streets of the Kensington Market.  Parade is probably a bit of an exaggeration.  The roads are closed off by the police so it's pedestrian friendly as the local drum bands and musicians walk through the area.  People in costumes everywhere and carrying large home made lanterns.  It was fantastic.  Though, as it was H's first time, she thought we had time to eat dinner before going to the parade.  As it turned out, we ate through most of the walk.  No matter.  We caught up with the culmination in the nearby park with the fire eaters, jugglers, drummers and burning of a giant effigy of a haida Raven.

We did see quite a lot of pieces of the parade as we wandered through  the area looking for food.  I had a wicked Phad Thai craving.  Toronto has great Thai food and it is as ubiquitous as Sushi is in Vancouver.  Equally though, the range of quality and authenticity varies like Vancouver's sushi as well.  We found one Thai restaurant that offered Hungarian Thai food.  As I could not imagine what that meant, we walked on.  Sort of regretting that now.  At least they had a theme.

I am so tired of restaurants without a clear concept.  Sadly, it is so common in Toronto's entertainment district that is becoming a concept in and of itself.  Spent enough time in the downtown Toronto, you know what I'm talking about.... sat down in a kitschy, bohemian, laisse a faire decorated joint to a menu that includes Asian, Caribbean, Burgers, Pizza and the like all on one menu?  Yeah, you have. Sometimes they guise the melange as being linked by a non-cuisine related theme like all organic or all Vegan.  Usually tenous but more often though, it's just a melange to hit all craving options.  Supermarket is one of those.   The kind where, you have to recommend the restaurant specifically rather than the cuisine you fancy.  Blah.

Given the funky location and plethora of more honest cultural bakeries, grocers and restaurants, I had greater hopes.  If I had walked into the place in any other area, I would have thought it was a country roadhouse.  Big wooden beams, plank floors, homey tables and stage in the back with a lot of loud music.  Still, H had mentioned that they had Phad Thai, and that was all I wanted.

Yam Chips
So to order here, you have to fill out a check list form.  We ordered drinks after a notable wait.  Then we ordered Yam Chips to share and H ordered an Oxtail Stew.  To choose my Phad Thai, I had to select the Protein and the heat.  We accidentally chose the Vegetarian but the heat level for the item above.  A server took our order sheet blindly and entered it into the POS.  Another server, the third, brought us our drinks and so it went.

Before I move on to the arrival of our mains, I want to point something out.  H and I were sat a small table for two.  Oh and should I also mention that we are two, rather diminutive Asian women?  So Why or Why would any server think we would order two Phad Thai, Oxtail Stew and Yam Chips????  Wouldn't most servers or restaurants verify our order before mindlessly entering it into the ordering system?  Wouldn't most restaurants or managers choose to apologise for the misunderstanding instead of blaming their clientele for filling out the form incorrectly?  Wouldn't most managers not give us the impression that they were doing us a favour by not charging us for the extra Phad Thai???

The Chips were okay.  Though I will admit now, as tasty as they sounded as looked as others ordered them, it was not the best pre-Phad Thai appetiser.  That is what is wrong with this menus with personality disorders.  H's stew was heavy and underseasoned.  As well, since they brought me the Chicken Phad Thai to start, H decided to wait as they corrected it and so it was cold by the time we both had our food.  She ate about half of it.

Oxtail Stew
My Vegetarian Phad Thai, did nothing to abate my Toronto Pad Thai craving.  It was not Pad Thai.  It had most of the elements of Phad Thai (I'm using both spellings for search purposes ;^D), the right Noodles, Sprouts, Tofu, Peanuts and other veg.  That's where it ended.  The sauce was all wrong.  It tasted alot more like a generic Asian stir fry than a Pad Thai, a very underseasoned one.  I almost asked for Soy but after having been chastised by the manager for filling out the long-form in correctly, I chose not to.  There was little if no hit of Tamarind, Cane Sugar or even the ketchup fake out which is closer than this was.  So as a stir fry, it was hot, fresh but as a Pad Thai, NOT.    I think I should have tried the Hungarian Thai place a few doors down.  Live and learn.  Oh and do your homework before being dinged and badgered for filling out your OWN order form incorrectly. ....or, or, go somehwere else, where there is some human intervention and customer service.

Cost: $$-$$$
Ambiance: Cottage chic
Service: Inattentive
Menu: Lost and inconsistent

Kensington Market/Chinatown
268 Augusta Ave
Toronto, ON M5T
(416) 840-0501
Supermarket on Urbanspoon


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