I am a shawarma purist. A lot of my friends know this about me. For instance, my very first food review, ever, was on Mozy’s Shawarma. Whenever a friend approaches the counter with me, they know to choose their dressings carefully, in fear that they may offend me by making ridiculous choices like lettuce. Whenever someone recommends a shawarma place, I instantly feel an eyebrow rise of its own accord, as I ask investigatory questions with unjustifiably high skepticism. I have a strong hatred of joints that say they serve shawarma when in reality, they serve gyros; the list goes on and on. For the longest time, I strongly believed Mozy’s was the best in Kitchener-Waterloo, even beating Toronto; but when Shawerma Plus entered my crosshairs with its deluge of positive reviews, I simply had to investigate. Could Shawerma Plus steal away the deep-seated throne of Mozy’s from this girl’s heart?
When I was 14, I was lucky enough to head to Italy with my family where I experienced some of the best foodie memories I’ve ever had. It’s funny, but authentic Italian fare is hard to find, even when you’re in the heart of Italy itself; swarms of visiting tourists encourage the growth of pizza chains that make food as devoid of love as the restaurant feels towards their own product. When you love the food you’re making, it shows.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Welcome back everyone! Another year has come and gone, and we’re back to sticking our noses to the grindstone that is our wonderful institution. With a new year, of course, come new resolutions, or maybe just a detox from the turkey-filled holidays. This is why our first review of the year will focus on Café Pyrus, an all-vegan café located a hop, skip, and jump away from Charles St. Terminal in Downtown Kitchener.
For me, the battle between healthy and fast food on campus is a losing one because when I actually feel like pulling a Julia Roberts and going all Eat, Pray, Love on myself, the choices are limited. For instance, I can personally think of only two restaurants in the plaza that have some health-giving potential: Sweet Dreams Tea Shop and Subway (but eating bread that was once bonded together by the same plastic that molded yoga mats frankly doesn’t go too far in all that body-temple worship business).
During one of my atypical binge-watching sessions, I came across a really interesting question: Would you rather live in the past or in the future? For me, it’s the past. There’s just something charming about it — something safe in childhood memories that are all fuzzy and coloured in sepia. We all undoubtedly feel like this; why else would we have so many #throwbackthursdays, parties, and playlists? However, I find that many restaurants that try too hard to capture this vintage feel often fail at it to the point where it becomes aggravatingly artificial: Mel’s Diner, Johnny Rocket’s, Hard Rock Café, etc. It’s hard to find a business that survives the ages and somehow doesn’t feel outdated. Cue in Ethel’s, uptown Waterloo’s greasy spoon, a stone’s throw away from its olde worlde sibling, Harmony Lunch
To be perfectly honest, Kitchener is an area I usually stay away from for two reasons: a) it can be a bit of a hassle bus-wise to get there, and b) let’s be real, it’s kind of sketchy — especially in the evenings. However after countless recommendations, I finally decided to make the trek out to the area to check out Kinkaku Izakaya, which had come highly recommended by various friends and colleagues. Being an avid sushi lover myself, I just had to find out whether it deserved the title of “KW’s best AYCE sushi restaurant.”
Standing on the corner of King and Erb Steet East, The Symposium Café, Restaurant, and Lounge has held its place within Waterloo as a primo date night location and it’s not hard to see why. Walking into the restaurant that is an instant Tardis (way bigger on the inside than it seems on the outside), the place screams simulated, romanticized European café — fake dried flowers wilted in ornate vases accented by gigantic figurative paintings with wine bottles of indeterminable origin lining the walls at every opportunity. As the blender interrupted the moderately empty restaurant’s chatter amidst flickering indie and jazz music, the server took my order and offered me a cake tour at the end for dessert (which frankly sounded like the most fun a server has ever proffered me).
Perched between Jane Bond and the Waterloo Taxi headquarters, My-Thai Restaurant is a deceivingly small restaurant that actually packs quite a bit of space, with two sizable dining rooms to ensure that seating is almost never an issue. As you walk in, earthy tones, wicker furniture that must have spawned off a small forest, and Buddhas, elephants, and strategically placed bamboo greet you everywhere. If you were ever in any doubt that you were in a Thai restaurant, you couldn’t be now (although this sort of nostalgic decoration is something I personally enjoy).
As temperatures drop and wind chills rise, as sweaters are broken out and you wonder whether or not you want to admit that it’s cold enough for you to be that person to break out the snow coat, a craving for warmth, comfort, and everything pumpkin-related comes over you. Introducing Red House, a bistro restaurant gracing uptown Waterloo.
Red House is easy enough to find; its exterior is a literal red house that was renovated for the purposes of this restaurant. Surveying the restaurant, it was an eclectic mix of homey mixed with the trendy and classy, with little thoughtful touches everywhere, such as Pinterest-esque mason jarred preserves, ‘70s mood lighting, and various tasteful paintings of nature. Complimentary kale and lemon hummus with pita bread showed up and I was instantly sold. Aside from wishing that the pita bread had been warmed up, the freebie was actually quite tasty, and contained unique flavours I’d never tasted before in hummus.
Being an international student hailing from the Middle East, I had never really celebrated Thanksgiving until I arrived in Canada. A day of celebration where you stuff food in your face while enduring extended family members? Sounded like pretty much every other Sunday dinner back home to me. But the biggest thing I could never understand about Thanksgiving was the turkey. Seeming to exist as a mere centrepiece, turkey I’ve had over the years has always been one thing: consistently disappointing. Cold, dry, and sadly flavourless, I could never understand nor justify the amount of effort and time it took to cook the damn bird. But one place finally changed my mind this Thanksgiving weekend: The Bauer Kitchen in uptown Waterloo.
From the Author:
Along with being a designer/artist by day, I also love wondering what and where I'm going to eat next. I'll go out and eat with you - just don't call me a 'foodie.'