THE WORKS GOURMET BURGER BISTRO...
Since my youngest brother is in town from Vancouver, my sister and her husband took my parents, my brother, and I to dinner at The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro, a local Ottawa gourmet hamburger chain.
The exact The Works location at which I ate was the one located in the strip mall at the corner of Stonehaven Drive and Steeplechase Drive, in the Bridlewood neighbourhood of Kanata.
The Works has a public utilities theme, with an exposed ceiling, valves and pipes on the walls, a toilet painted construction site yellow for some reason, and salt and pepper shakers shaped like light bulbs... well, real incandescent light bulbs, not those fluorescent spiral things. In a couple of years, kids born in this decade probably wouldn't even recognize the salt shakers as fake light bulbs. With this decor, I would have called the restaurant chain "The Electric Company" were it not for fears that Children's Television Workshop lawyers might come a-knockin' with cease-and-desist letters in their hands. The whole visual motif is so industrial that James Cameron could film the climax for a Terminator sequel in there, perhaps with one of the T-800's getting impaled on the long spindles they use for the towers of onion rings.
The Works has around 50 or so different burgers on the menu, and most of them have colourful names, named after local places and icons, with the contents of the burger not so obvious, so you pretty much have to read them all to determine which burger you want. It's a somewhat amusing read, but not too utilitarian if you want to make a quick choice, but they do give you a good ten minutes to go over the menu.
I wanted a spicy chicken burger so I ordered the Rockcliffe Grinder, which is a chicken burger which is both marinated in Cajun hot pepper sauce, like the sorely-missed KFC Zinger, and which also comes with a little cup of spicy mayo, as used on the pretty-damn-good-but-not-as-great-as-the-Zinger KFC Spicy Big Crunch, and served with a plate of fries in a baking pan. I opted to put the mayo on to the whole chicken breast patty, and, holy Trogdor!
Adding the spicy mayo makes it easily a four-out-of-five on the five-alarm scale, meaning I could eat it all without abandoning it halfway through but I have a fairly high tolerance for spicy food. I'll put it this way: the Rockliffe Grinder with the spicy mayo is easily an alarm-and-a-half above even the improved Wendy's Spicy Chicken Filet Sandwich.
I would have doused my throat in Coke after eating it, but the thing about The Works is that they had the clever idea of serving all of their soft drinks in Fire-King measuring cups rather than in normal glasses, and the disadvantage of using measuring cups is that you can see exactly how much you're drinking, which, if you're somewhat watching your weight like I am but can't stand the nastiness of diet cola, is quite a psychological disincentive against ordering refills, and I had already had drunk a whole litre of Coca-Cola by the time I had finished eating the Rockliffe Grinder, so the only option left was to suck on the ice cubes from the empty Fire-King measuring cup.
It didn't give me heartburn after, so I suppose I can call the Rockliffe Grinder a successful eat.
Speaking of successes, on the way home, I decided to test out a recent buy, a cheap-ass $79 Venturer Portable DVD player from Wal-Mart, with a foldable 8" LCD screen. I mainly got it so I could watch anime in my bedroom (or hotel room) without even having to leave my bed, but this particular model (model #PVS3388) also has a laptop-style two-hour rechargeable internal battery. I watched an entire episode of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, specifically chronological episode 11, "Live Alive" (a.k.a. the "God Knows" episode), and the audio only skipped once, and only for a split second, the entire car ride home. It actually performs much better in shaky conditions than the Sony portable CD Walkman I bought from Zellers last year, even if the DVD laser is supposed to be much more delicate than the CD laser. I have half a mind to bring this DVD player with me to work, to watch anime during breaks, at least on days where I work at least six hour shifts.