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Re: “TEMPO Food + Drink

Tempo is a nice, new restaurant, and a new restaurant is bound to get some things wrong, some of the time.

Service: Great. Waiter was attentive, and my glass was never empty of ice water.

Atmosphere: Unique. Front windows open onto one of the busiest intersections down town. It feels vibrant. Modern open-kitchen makes you feel like you're part of the action. Cleverly placed mirror-wall at front of restaurant makes the dining area feel that much roomier.

Food: ...This is where things get dicey.

My friends and I arrive for lunch. It's less than moderately busy, and all of us are quite impressed with the initial experience. We sit down. Comfy.

I order a cod burger -15$. Admittedly, the words 'cod burger' don't necessarily make anyone's mouth water, but I'm a fan of seafood in general, so I decide to go for it. Plus, the description on the menu was intriguing - something along the lines of 'crispy'...and something about a 'fennel slaw'...mmmm fennel. If you don't like fresh fennel, shame on you.

We wait, we wait, we wait. Good thing there was a nice view.

It was interesting to see how passionate the owner and manager were....(or who I'd assume to be the owner and manager, judging by their enthusiasm and demeanour...). They would hover around the plating area of the open-kitchen, inspecting each dish before it was sent out while eyeing the chefs, presumably to make sure things were running smoothly.
At one point during our wait, one of them shouts out to the customers in the dining room something along the lines of....'things are coming, won't be too long'...

I guess the kitchen was feeling it. And I guess we weren't the only ones waiting. No biggie, this stuff happens. And nobody can say that cooking in a professional kitchen is easy.

Our food finally arrives and the first dish to be set down was my friend's order of poutine, complete w/ pork belly and a special gravy. One of the daily specials.

I love poutine, and was a bit envious at first sight. But what I don't love is egregious and gaudy plating you often see at 'fusion' (shudder) restaurants. It was a large, black, shiny square pig's trough with a depth of about 4 inches. You could pour 8 gallons of milk into it and you still wouldn't be close to topping out.

Nix all that. It was a glorified futuristic bedpan.

The rest of my friends get their food and they all seemed to not mind it. Nobody is overly impressed. (Except for the one who ordered the poutine. That thing looked AWESOME. Too bad I was reminded of the geriatric wing of a hospital while 'admiring' the plating). But I can't speak for them. I can only speak for my own self.

Cod Burger. Cod. Burger. Easy.

What I get is, (and I'll start from the bottom up)....

Bottom of bun- Nice. Normal. Retains moisture from the dressing or sauce that was used. Perfect to grip onto with both thumbs.

Lettuce - Crispy, cold, delicious.

Light amounts of sauce or dressing - A little bland. Tasted like butter mixed with mayo. Could use a little flavouring.

Lettuce - Crispy, cold, delic....hey wait a minute.

As for the slaw? Either they used the heart of the fennel, the toughest, least-flavourful part, or they're tricking me by cutting up more lettuce into julienne-style pieces and throwing on more of that derelict sauce previously mentioned. An ape could make a better slaw. I don't taste any fennel.

Tiny bits of deep fried batter dot the interior of the burger. Imagine flailing a fork dipped in batter over a deep fryer, and retrieving the spats of golden mini-dumplings. I think this is what the menu description meant by 'crispy'...or something. Too bad this was a stupid idea for a burger topping, as it wasn't A) crispy, or B) tasty. It was filler. And yes, it was flavourless and cold.

Top of bun - Immense. Chilled. Bland. With a little more of that 'sauce'-type stuff.

You might be wondering about the cod. I was too.

Turns out most of it was not between the buns at all. It was on the plate, next to/underneath a greasy bag of fries one would expect to receive on spring garden at one of those hideous truck-food places. Maybe Tempo wanted to be a 'fusion' (shudder) restaurant and tried to mix good food with rubbish...and hospital equipment for plating.

Back to the cod. It was cold, and shredded, and didn't look anything like a burger. In fact it wasn't even IN the burger. Or in anything that resembled burger form. With the few bits that did somehow make it to my plate (and there were few, believe me), I could have sprinkled them on top of my spring garden fries as a seasoning. And this cold fish topping wouldn't even have cooled the fries down. Why? Because the fries were cold too.

But the service was spectacular! The waiter came back after the first couple of bites, as a good waiter should, to check up on us.

My response? A polite head nod. Why? Because I'm a polite, East-Coast-Canadian and I eat what is given to me, regardless of quality or quantity. Maybe it's my shy, non-confrontal nature, or maybe it's the prospect of writing a ridiculously long, unfettered review.

Now, I'm all for second chances, ESPECIALLY if you're new at something. So I'm willing to make my way back for lunch, to have another shot at the cod burger in the near, not-so-distant future. Perhaps I'll end up liking it.

I certainly hope so.

Oh, and please ditch the bedpan.

7 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by lecleric on 11/06/2012 at 12:42 PM

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