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 It’s hard to find a business that survives the ages and somehow doesn’t feel outdated.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.
Lately, I’ve been feeling extremely sentimental about my final year at UW. As students, we often get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we forget to enjoy the moment we’re living in and the friends that we have right now. This brings me to Abe Erb, a restaurant and brewery in uptown Waterloo that I first encountered populating my friends’ Instagram feeds. Abe Erb is a special kind of place that a lot of my friends (and now I) hold dear to our hearts. Maybe it’s the golden glow of the lights stylishly encased in wooden barrels and wire, the exposed brick, or maybe it’s how everything is coated in sepia and how the joint feels like the collective backdrop for every beer commercial ever. Needless to say, there’s something about Abe Erb that makes you feel like you’re on the set of Cheers.
As fall rolls around and the school term gets going, I often find myself experiencing a certain deterioration of my standard of living in general. Things that used to feel so easy over the summer like finding the time to work out, making nutritious meals, or just generally treating myself suddenly give way to the stuffy blanket of obligation that is academics, extracurriculars, job hunting, and what have you. Therefore, it was such a treat this week to walk the glorious 10 minutes from my house to Proof, a self-proclaimed kitchen/lounge that lives on the ground floor of the Delta Hotel near uptown Waterloo.
Dear readers: this week’s review was full of surprises. I didn’t know what to expect from the moment I read about this “Ricecream” and its rave reviews in Linden Square, their “creamy rice bites,” and how its own name was way more literal than something I first took to be some kind of savoury Asian dessert.
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.'