Saturday, November 04, 2006

Boston Pizza

I'd assumed I'd never come here. Several reasons.

1. Vino and Plonk gave it the thumbs-down and their culinary judgement is without flaw.

2. Friends of mine are beef farmers and reported that the steaks they'd received here proved significantly smaller than specified on the menu.

3. I had the vague impression that they would be one of those places that survive on generica - who's every offering amounts strictly to that collection of common foods, drinks and features that you can find anywhere.

Like Philthy McNasty's for instance. Places like that are so painfully unoriginal they suck the life out of me. By selling only the most popular fares and decorating in only the tiredest pop-culture trinketry they offer nothing of consequence. As the late great Jackie Brenston said:

'If you aint doing something different, you aint doing anything.'

Brenston and his Delta Cats are generally accredited with the 1951 recording Rocket 88 - touted by many music aficianados as the original rock and roll song - though the circumstances around this event are somewhat convoluted. Ike Turner was more likely the greater contributer. As the story goes - Willie Kizart's guitar amplifier became rain-damaged just prior to Rocket 88's recording appointment at Sam Phillips' Tennessee studio - thus producing the now-familiar "dirty, distorted," grinding guitar sound that Brenston mandated they would keep - his rationale being the above quote.

Reason #4: I'm not a fan of Howie Mandell or his annoying Boston Pizza commercials. In fact he inspired a story I wrote about a down-and-out comedian who's last hurrah is a TV commercial for a fish-and-chips restaurant where he interacts improvisationally with real customers and where his true colours are revealed as everything goes awry and mayhem ensues...

Who knows - maybe I'll get a chance to tell Mandell what I think of his act. An associate of mine recently applied for contestantship on his show Deal or No Deal and included my name and photo as a co-applicant member of her cheering section! I asked if I could pose for the photo in halter top and with pom-poms but she declined.

Although - to be fair - All those slow-motion labotomized perma-smiley automatons on the Keg commercials creep the hell out of me but I never hesitate to visit that fine restaurant. I suppose that's because I was long familiar with their good food and value prior to their ads going twilight zone on us.

So why am I here at Boston Pizza?

Firstly- I must give it a chance. Can't bash it properly without trying it.

Secondly - Just as I was discovering in my briefcase a formerly forgotten pair of movie passes, my friend Spooky was pondering a gift certificate for Boston Pizza. Such an alignment of the stars is not to be ignored and soon we were off together in Orangeville on a largely complimentary night out.

She wanted to see Saw 2 - or Saw 3 perhaps, whichever is applicable. I forget. But I don't do those kinds of movies. I'm a pathetic trembling cowering chicken-shit when it comes to horror movies. We saw The Departed instead - with Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Walberg, Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio and a host of recognizables.

And I'm happy to report this was a very decent movie in my humble opinion. It didn't survive just on action sequences and big name stars (neither of which I have any appreciation for). It actually had some substance and a compelling predicament where you find yourself empathizing with both heroes despite their lethal opposition. My only criticisms: Why the ridiculously coincidental (and tiredly metaphorical) conflict over the girl?

Oh. Right. The Hollywood formula. Of course. Why did I ask?

Also the ending - though not of the Hollywood formula - was simply unappealing and built up a whole lot of unresolved tension. Not at all on line with the FWG school of good storytelling but what can you do? I still reccomend the movie.

It's approaching midnight. Spooky and I are almost alone in the too-bright dining room but the bar area is hopping. I excuse myself to use the loo and as I do a young local enters and staggers up to the facility next to mine.

"How ya doing t'night?" He asks in a loud warbly voice.

"Very good thanks," I say. "Just came from a good movie. The Departed. Jack Nicholson's in it. Matt Damon. Mark Walberg. That Sheen guy. Is it Sheen? Yeah I think so. Is Martin the dad or the son? Anyway it's the dad. How are you tonight?"

"Oh - well," he blurts, "I'm havin' dinner with my girlfriend and my ex-girlfriend!"

"I see. How's that working out for you?"

"The way it's going - I'm gonna be leaving without no girlfriend!"

"I see," says I, zipping up. "Well - I wish you luck with that."

"Oh that's okay. I'm drinking enough it won't matter."

“That’s the spirit,” I said and left the washroom.

The wine list is nothing to write home about.

I pass on the pizza. I sample a spicy Tai chicken apetizer and it’s indeed spicy - and sweet. Not bad. And the dry ribs appetizer that is grotesquely dry but it’s called dry ribs so I guess I walked into that one.

The waitress is a bit of a concern. She speaks to us with a ridiculously exaggurated pleasantness.

“Okayyyyyyyy! Yeahhhhhhh! No problem!!!!!!!!!! Beautiful!!!!!!!”

“Your welcommmmmmm!” (We hadn’t even said thank you).

The verdict: I’m in no hurry to come back.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Did you only do appetizers or was there a meal involved? I assure you, that's where they suck best. I don't exactly recall what we had when we went there at least two years ago, but it involved sub-room temperature overcooked pasta, covered in what was not much more than no-name tomato soup trying to pass as pasta sauce, and some formed meat-like offering that may or may not have been chicken...or veal. Can't recall what The Squeeze had, but I'm sure both of our dishes could stand proudly side by side wearing gold and silver medals at the "This Food Sucksolympics".
If I ever find myself back in a Boston Pizza outlet (presumably with a gun to my ribs) I will have to try the pizza. It's pretty hard to screw that up, but I'm sure they'll do their best.