My girlfriend and I receive the daily barrage of emails from companies like groupon, livingsocial et. al. We aren't interested in most of them, but when we see one for a restaurant we've never been to we usually snag it up. So when we saw a groupon for a prix fixe menu at Grill 41, we bought it right away.
We arrived on a Saturday night. I wouldn't say the place was busy, but it wasn't dead, lets say it was busy for them. We were seated after a short delay at a table with a nice view of Elgin street and Confederation park. The rest of the restaurant was mundane with shades of brown and beige.
We ordered two pints of Beaus and had a look at the menu. The menu reads very well and includes some dishes from Chef Michael Smith. Our beers arrived and they were flat, a bad oman. We figure it was an old keg or beer that had been sitting in the lines for a while, maybe they don't sell much Beaus. When we told our waiter he immediately argued with us insisting that is how Beaus is. I had to explain to him that we drink Beaus all the time and that this is certainly not how it tastes. They changed the keg and brought us two fresh pints.
Our prix fixe menu entitled us to one appetizer, two entrees and one side. We started with the tiger prawns, the menu says they are served with ginger, sesame and green onions with an Israeli couscous salad. What we got was 5 small luke-warm shrimp covered in soy sauce and a mushy cold couscous concoction. Not pleasant.
For our entrees I ordered the Asian duck and Victoria got the 11oz striploin. There was nothing Asian flavoured about the two duck legs I received, the skin was crunchy but the meat was a little dry. The crepes were flavoured with what I believe was cumin seeds, they were off putting. The chipotle BBQ sauce was good, but came ice cold, room temperature would have been preferred. Victoria's steak was cooked medium as she ordered, however they managed to char the steak which left an unpleasant burnt taste on the steak. The peppercorn jus was bland, but the brown butter mashed was actually the highlight of the night if only because they were laden with butter and salt.
For our side we ordered the sauteed spinach, when it arrived it came in a strange spear form and almost looked like asparagus. Victoria argued that it was, in fact, asparagus. I couldn't believe it because we definitely ordered spinach (ok so obviously it was asparagus, we didn't bother sending it back in favour of the spinach, if only because we were already disappointed and wanted to leave)
We weren't going to bother with dessert but my weakness is creme brulee, so when I saw they had it on their menu I had to order it. It comes as a duo, that night they had the classic version and a brandy and wild berry variation. The classic was delicious but the fruit variation had a lumpy texture and tasted nothing of brandy. I should have known...
The service for the night was wanting. Our waiter wasn't very helpful, argued when we sent back the beer, placed the meals down in front of the wrong person and brought us the wrong side. Now all of that could be excused because he seemed somewhat disoriented with the other tables in the restaurant. But when he brought us our check exclaiming loudly how much the meal should have cost without the groupon and then watched over Victoria's shoulder as she used the debit machine ensuring she knew how to put in a dollar amount for his gratuity, he crossed the line.
It's safe to say we won't be returning to Grill 41.