Frequently travelling for business across Canada (mostly West) and the U.S. (periodically), we are privileged with eating in various cities, experiencing the life of the city and through the magic of food, different cultures.

The reason for starting this site was because we can't tell you the number of times we would look on other sites to find reviews of restaurants by the general public, only to come away scratching our heads. Yes, that likely will make us sound like snobs, but hey...there really is no accounting for some people's taste.

Unlike most "reviewers", we never, ever tell the restaurant who we are, or what we are doing. This ensures that we receive no special treatment, and that the establishments aren't on their "best behavior" just because we're there. So you'll hear about the worst of the worst, the best of the best and everything from fast food to luxurious restuarants in our travels, as that is the range and diversity of our palates. Please join us on what has been one hell of a food ride thus far, as we finally unveil, without prejudice, what we really think of the food and let you decide where to eat your next meal.

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The Ground Floor Urban Diner: Winnipeg Manitoba

Arriving 1 hour prior to close, we entered a rather empty restaurant. The ambiance of this place is difficult to explain, but we settled on "upscale casual". Regardless of the label, the atmosphere would be greatly improved by dimming the lights and changing the window coverings, as the venetian blinds tend to cheapen the overall effect.

Drink orders were taken right away by a pleasant and professional waiter. Having been given 3 menus to look at, we chose to stick with the diner menu which provided a list of entrees. The menu mentioned that the entrees come with sides, however the sides were not listed on any of the three menus we looked at. The table also had a jam stand, which seemed out of place given the paintings and music. Now, granted, we were in an hour before close, so maybe that was the reason they were out. But I got the feeling the restaurant isn't quite sure what they want to be yet, as the music, the fixtures, and the paintings, all said "upscale casual", yet the jam stand screamed "Dennys".

We ordered the chicken fingers for a shared appie, which came with a jalapeno ailoi, and SJ ordered the rigatoni with meat sauce and Caesar salad, while I chose the double stuffed pork chop with rice and a Greek salad. Upon placing my entree order the waiter informed us that the pork chop entree took 30 mins to prepare and that he always informs patrons of this prior to ordering. Good practice in setting expectations.

Presentation of the chicken fingers was a bit odd as they were garnished with lettuce, tomato, and a pickle....along with a few peppers skewered on a toothpick. Furthermore the aioli dip came in a plastic container. Those are two things you just don't expect to hear in the same sentence...aioli and plastic container. Just call it as it is....dip. The dip had a hint of honey mustard which was good, but not spicy at all as the description would suggest. The fingers themselves were a good portion. Tender, not over cooked, and lightly battered.

The salads came, and the Greek salad was pretty good. Chunks of feta, piled in a plate with ample veggies....no skimping here. Caesar salad was ok, not too overpowering, although a tad too much dressing. The croutons were homemade and nicely done. Maybe if they had mixed it better in the kitchen it would have covered each leaf adequately instead of drowning the leaves towards the bottom of the salad.

We had held out a lot of hope for the entrees, because we really didn't want to give this place a bad review as they had asked us to anonymously review them....but here we go. The double stuffed pork chop was cooked just like mom used to make...a large bland piece of tremendously overcooked meat with sauce drizzled on top of it. Now in my world, a double stuffed pork chop, means a pork chop that is fileted with stuffing throughout. Here however, the small amount of stuffing that there was, was injected, and only close to the bone. Leaving me with a piece of VERY over cooked pork that was bland and tasted like something that had been sitting in the oven for way too long. Frankly, if this is the amount of stuffing that comes in a double stuffed pork chop, I would really hate to see the "single" stuffed chop. Clearly, the "double" referred to the massive pork chop. This was an apparent example of quantity rather than quality....very sad indeed because the stuffing was rather good, but the amount (2 tablespoons at the most) did not offset the horrid pork chop.

SJ's rigatoni was actually done pretty well though. The pasta was cooked properly, and the meat sauce wasn't too bad. It would have benefited from some more spice however, or even some chili flakes to spice it up a little more. When we requested some chili flakes, the waiter enquired with the kitchen but to no avail, instead offering Tabasco sauce as a substitution.

After digging out the little stuffing available from my ginormous pork chop and using it to offset the lack of taste, we were done...deciding to skip anything else offered.

Overall experience, odd and slightly disappointing. It really does seem that this establishment is not sure what they want to be when they "grow up". The disjointed ambiance and menu, accompanied with a lack of quality in the entrees, would make it unlikely that we would return again. I would only recommend this place if you were staying in the attached hotel and looking for a quick meal, or they give it a distinct identity. Perhaps investing in some resources that could make meals in which quality reigns over quantity. This experience had highlights and lowlights making me wonder exactly how much thought went behind the recent overhaul...they have a bit of work to do yet in our opinion.

Location visited: 190 Smith Street

Ambiance: Contemporary
Cuisine: Canadian
Presentation: Average
Price: $20/serving
Service: Above Average
Value: Average

The Ground Floor urban diner on Urbanspoon

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