I don't like to give bad reviews, but a rare family outing to Brasseurs du Temps in Gatineau last night left me disappointed, upset, and angry. I really have little desire to go back there to see if we can hit it on a "good night" -- which is a shame, as I generally really enjoy the atmosphere of a good brew pub. To preface our evening, my husband had been to the pub earlier with a bunch of local homebrewers. He couldn't stop raving about the food -- the burger he had, the gourmet poutine, the beer selection. It sounded great and he thought we should take the kids as a treat -- we only get to "nice" places as a family a couple times a year and it had been awhile, so I was more than game. A glance at the menu on their website showed a limited but appealing menu.
The place seemed pretty busy when we arrived at 5:30pm -- not crazy busy, but that nice sort of "Saturday night, we're out on the town" kind of busy. We were shown to our table without too much of a delay. The waiter was very prompt in taking our drinks order. Dh requested a glass of the guest beer, I had a cola, #1 had milk and #2 wanted apple juice. They didn't have any apple juice (a standard anywhere else), so he tried a Shirley Temple. We waited awhile before the drinks came, and then placed our food orders.
Dh asked for the sausage platter as a starter for us. When he had visited before, he'd had the Joe Monferrand burger and really enjoyed it. For whatever reason, he decided to order it again. #2 had chicken strips with fries, off the kids' menu, #1 and I both ordered fish and chips.
(As an aside, I will freely admit that I'm a fish and chips snob. That said, I don't let it keep me from enjoying even a bad plate of fish and chips -- as Dh will attest. Prior to ordering them, I asked him what he thought -- a person he'd been eating with on his previous visit had ordered it, and he said it looked crunchy in all the right places, so I took a leap and ordered.)
I didn't have a watch on me so I can't be specific about wait times, but it seemed to take a long time for the appetizer to arrive. The portion seemed quite small for the price ($10), but they were all very tasty and disappeared quickly. Then we started to wait for the food.
Again, the wait seemed long. Dh was away from the table with our youngest when the two plates of fish and chips arrived ($15 and $12, I think). I was appalled. While the portion sizes were good, my fries were lukewarm at best and felt wet. The fish also felt wet and there wasn't a crispy spot on it. The extreme ends of each fillet were actually hard -- the way food feels when reheated in a microwave. The fish inside was cod-like in flavour, and had a rather gelatinous feel in my mouth. My son's fries and fish were the same. It was as though they had been reheated in a steam bath and left under heat lamps. By the time I had made my way through half of one piece, I was forcing myself to keep eating to set a "good example" for the kids. If they hadn't been there I would have absolutely sent back my food -- and I'm the last person to do something like that. I actually had a moment where I was fighting back tears, thinking about the cost of those two barely edible plates. #1 has been a human locust lately -- eating anything and everything, and in large quantities -- but he could only get through half the fish.
Did I mention our fish and chips, despite not being hot or crispy, arrived approx 10 minutes before my husband's plate? Or that my youngest child's plate was a few minutes longer than that to arrive at our table? I was glad they hadn't made it back from the washroom yet, as #2 would have been howling at everyone else having their food first -- really bad kitchen timing, given that his meal was the simplest (and likely just cooked from frozen breaded chicken strips). If anything, I'd have expected his plate to arrive first. I thought #2's portion was pretty small for the price ($7), too. It was mostly fries with a few chicken strips. Dh said his burger ($15), while still a good burger, wasn't nearly as great as the same burger had been a few days earlier.
Once we were all at the table and eating, Dh tried to order another beer. The beer he attempted to order was not the one that came but, as he's a "beer guy" anyway, this didn't bother him too much. The waiter didn't come by at all while we were eating to see if everything was acceptable -- I would have politely mentioned the problem with the fish if he had.
The bill came to about $90, including drinks (excluding tip).
Things I found off-putting in general:
- Butter came in commercial prepackaged plastic tubs -- I expect this at a greasy spoon, but not at a place where our tab (with drinks) came to about $90.
- The various sauces and ketchup for our entrees came in little plastic Dixie cups with covers -- I had five of these on my plate alone. The dim lighting also made it difficult to distinguish between the mayo and tartar sauce. It was also not nearly enough ketchup for the amount of fries served.
- We didn't appear to have any price list for beverages other than alcohol -- when out with the kids, I like to know how much a glass of milk is going to cost, for example. Particularly if they want two.
- The kids' menu had only three items and they were all pretty unappealing. Kid-sized fish and chips would have been good (if they could improve the quality), or even something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.
- They need to improve their timing so that plates arrive at the same time. Two of us had lukewarm, soggy fries -- the other two had crisp and hot.
Dh tried to explain it away by saying they were busy, yadda yadda, but in my opinion if they have the seating capacity and they know they're full up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights - requiring folks to make reservations or be turned away -- they need to have the waitstaff and kitchen staff to make that run smoothly.
In the end, I was terribly disappointed that our evening out -- which I'd been looking forward to the way only a pregnant woman about to have even fewer evenings out in the coming year can -- was ruined by a sub-par meal at what I felt was pricing on the steeper side of things. I do not want to go back again, knowing that predicting the quality of my meal is like playing Russian Roulette with my bank card. $90 goes a long way with a family of four and I'm not willing to shell it out again on a gamble that maybe the next time my food won't completely suck.
About the only thing that didn't suck was the beer -- I had a sip of each -- but that's not exactly something I can sit down an enjoy again until much later this year.
Two thumbs down.