Arkadia House

 

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The picture actually makes the place look a lot nicer.

I’m a huge fan of Greek food. The souvlaki, the gyro, which is really the best case of “I have no idea what’s in there, but I don’t care because it’s so delicious”. And the potatoes, the potatoes alone would have won you over. Few nights ago I was craving for some Greek food and this one place I remembered enjoying some great Greek food a few years back with my parents: Arkadia house.

That is why it saddens me so much after my meal, with the new owners at the helm this place became a mere shadow of what it once was. The decor is still just as out of date but it’s shrouded in a haze of dreary and somber over it instead of joy and warmth. The place was fairly empty because it was late but it felt like a business on it’s last legs and barely clinging to life. You can almost hear the echoing of what probably once was laughter, music and tears now reduced to just tears.

It’s true bad reviews are both fun to read and to write but it really brings me no pleasure to have an experience so bad warning people was the first thing I can think of after the meal. The food was rude, disrespectful. It wasn’t a case of someone who didn’t know what they were doing but felt like someone who knew exactly what they were doing is wrong but just couldn’t find a shred of care. I didn’t feel welcome there. The waiters look like they had their souls sucked out of them, reduced merely to food serving zombies, a sight too often at restaurants that has lost it’s way. The well set tables seemed like the last bastion of any shred of dignity and self-respect that is still left.

Fried calamari has to be on of my favorite dishes. It’s the perfect balance of different textures and in a fun size and shape. However what I was served was far from the perfect balance. The batter was soaked in oil, dripping with fat, greasy and tasted like it’s been fried a second time, and it was bland. Tzatziki was cream cheese, tasted like something out of jar, dense, cakes your mouth, and none of the freshness you expect. It should be returned promptly to whichever aisle it came.

Coming in at 25 dollars for the souvlaki combo with lamb, chicken and beef I expect nothing less than what was described on the menu, “Choice cuts of meat marinated in our specially created blend of natures herbs and spices and grilled to perfection.”

Only one out of my six pieces of meat was edible. I think it was a piece of beef, it’s hard to taste what it was supposed to be as it seem to me they must have cooked all the meat beforehand and then haphazardly tossed into a bin together with little or no regards to flavour contamination. One piece of lamb smelled and tasted like it had been cooked at least 3 or 4 days ago, it stank. The “specially created blend of natures herbs and spices” seem to be conspicuously missing. I mean they can been seen, dotted on the meat like black ants, but somehow fail to contribute to any flavor..

The fresh vegetables was a joke. However I believe these bits of undercooked and underseasoned pieces of plant matter is the key to punishing kids and vegetarians. I’m sure after eating these for a week straight even the staunchest of vegetarians would repent.

Oh the rice, I should tell them when heating up rice in the microwave at least put some water in there so it doesn’t dry out. What I was served was full of grains of rice that are rock hard, over-heated, microwave blasted to oblivion and back. They stuck on my teeth like the bad taste from that lamb. It’s really like going to grandma’s for dinner, except she really hates you and wants you to die.

Just above the entrance to the place it says “Arkadia House, Authentic Greek Cuisine”. I may not be Greek but I don’t have to be to know this is not authentic. Authenticity is not the only ingredient missing in this place. Passion, drive, basic respect for the food, and just any sort of life is all missing. The chef has given up, the place is on life support, but with souvlaki like that I can’t say I’m surprised.

 

The Old Mill

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I’m actually surprised this place is still open as an event venue, the building is quite nice, but just about everything else is abysmal.

The food seems like the place going back to it’s roots of being a lumber mill, the dry steak, pulpy soup, and rice that tastes surprisingly like wood chips.

The service is also very close to being treated like a piece of lumber. Asking for something makes me feel like Oliver Twist, “please ma’am, can I please have some coffee” and be prepared for a lashing.

It location is beautiful, surrounded by nice houses, trees, a river you can hear but can’t see, and occasionally, a coyote in the parking lot, I hope they have to pay for the parking too.

However the coyote is not going inside, because it can probably smell the out-dated food from all the way across the river. The food is like they’ve stolen it from a all-you-can-eat joint (and not even a decent one at that) along with the food trays. Then we are reminded by the staff they they want to be here even less than we do, and they don’t even have to eat the food being served. I’ve been here two times both for weddings, the day should be ruined by drunk relatives, or drunk exes (that’s really your fault for inviting them), or both, or oh I don’t know, a meteorite crashing into earth, but definitely NOT by terrible food and even more dreadful service.

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Starting with the oily greens which could only come from, and I really hope they found it dirt cheap, like in the corner of a supermarket with a giant $1 sticker on it: wilted, soggy, bruised and abused. Oh they definitely saved money on not using olive oil though, I mean we don’t want to add any flavour that’s going to mask the natural flavours of the rotting veggies!

I hope you like canned soup, I mean who doesn’t, supermarkets aren’t stocked to the brim with those campbell’s soup for no reason, because that is what you gonna get with the soup. The sad part is, you have just had the best part of the meal.

Now that you have been sufficiently appetized, please do buckle up for the wild ride that is the entrees. The first time I had a beautifully cooked hockey puck, oh excuse me, umm beef? Some sort of beef i was told. “Medium or medium rare?” they asked, how can you possibly tell? They are all in the same tray, “medium rare” responded I and any sensible human being, the server attempts to pick one she thinks is mid-rare (it wasn’t), I am truly curious about how she decided which ones are which.


All the flavour of the “beef” has been leached out of it by, what I can only assume, having it sit overnight in warming trays and heated up in those airplane steam ovens right before serving it up which is barely acceptable on an aircraft, and is absolutely NOT the way to do a wedding banquet. Just eat those potatoes, I did ask for for more potatoes because you physically cannot screw up a potato (but they came VERY close, dangerously so). The steamed veggies are great too, you don’t even have to chew them it’s like a veggie butter, just bland and disgusting.

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Second time around the entrees was MUCH fancier, at least how they were mentioned on the menus. “Basil panko crusted atlantic salmon – roasted pearl onions & oyster mushroom ragout, orange & fennel salsa” My goodness, that sounds like a delightful combination of deliciousness, I do love some fennel with my seafood. However what they didn’t seem to mention in the menus was this was either cooked from a frozen packed they got from no frills, or somehow stolen from a prison or the microwave in a college dorm room.

 

There was no crust to be had; no basil to be tasted or seen, not even dried basil; no roasted pearl onions; and the saddest part, no fennel and orange salsa. My mistake, there was a single sprig of leafless fennel stem, how exciting. The fish, the fish is just sad, again I have been known to dabble in the frozen fish game (especially frozen basa fillets), the fish was firm and taste of ocean, but in a “this is definitely frozen since the last ice age”, and is so flaky it’s like I’m taking apart one of those wooden 3D puzzles.

The chicken breast I am almost sure they got from the same company Subway(R) *eat fresh* with their “chicken breasts”. Four black stripes I think was supposed to be passed off as “char marks” on one side of the chicken, it really just makes it worse because it’s almost like they tried. They say it’s “apple cider brined breast of ontario chicken”, I sincerely hope no one thinks all ontario chicken taste like that; or apple cider taste like that; or brined chicken breasts taste like that (unless it’s brined in canned brown blandness juice).IMAG1010


At this point you are thinking to yourself “my goodness, this is sounding extremely fantastic and I cannot wait to experience this culinary adventure.” I know I know, the anticipation is palpable. However, it gets better. Service with a smile seems more like a crooked inspirational poster collecting dust and never been looked at on the wall. The servers give the impression that their families are being held hostage unless they come and serve here, I’m surprised they aren’t crying.

One of the guests at my table asked if they could have a desert with no dairy as she happens to be lactose intolerant. She was told “oh, it’s too late”, no “oh sure, yeah let me look into if we can get you anything else” or anything along those lines like a sensible service industry professional, she said “too late”? What the hell do you mean “too late”? What is this? A school cafeteria? Or, judging by the quality of the food, a prison really.

For anywhere from 95 to 200 dollars per person I expected good food. I know weddings are expensive and the per person price includes more than just the food, but it’s really not too much to expect slightly better than cafeteria food. The fact is going to the food court would give you a better dining experience than a wedding at the old mill. It’s really sad to say, I wanted to like the place, I wanted to enjoy the wedding and have a good time. I did have a good time despite of the old mill, but I wanted to have a good time because of the old mill.