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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Moxie’s Classic Grill (Richmond)

IMG_6739 copyIMG_6736 copyToday, we graced Moxie’s Classic Grill in Richmond with our presence while celebrating Turtle’s birthday.  Moxie’s is a chain of restaurants which serves typical westcoast/Canadian cuisine with menu categories similar to what you find at Milestones, White Spot and other Canadian/westcoast restaurants.  As their website and newly launched TV commercials suggest, Moxie’s attempts to deliver an upscale casual dining experience focusing on quality, value and service.  Lets see how they stack up against their image.

The ambience of the restaurant is what you’d expect from a restaurant wanting to create an upscale casual dining environment.  The lighting is dim but alright, seating arranged in the open or semi-private arrangements, and classy dark furniture finely compliment each other to create a pleasing aura.  The extensions built into the walls and seats that act as coat hangers are a nice touch and something I hadn’t seen before. One complaint is that some of the seats are situated VERY close to each other. Ying and Richard’s chairs were back to back with another table’s chairs, this gave us very little leg room and flexibility to move.

IMG_6747 copyNow, on to the ‘meat’ of this post.  Some of us, including myself, arrived late to the party and after being seated we waited for the server to tend to us.  From my experience at other restaurants, late arrivers usually get tended to pretty quick and offered a menu and drink options.  No such thing happened here; in fact, there were 5 drinks on the table for the 5 who were there already and the 3 late comers had to wait for about 20 minutes before we were brought water (after prompting the server).  Next the plates came to the table and were wet.  The server set down the 8  plates and walked away.  It took one of the group members to dish out the dishes to each of us.  The server, walking by, noticed that we were all tilting our plates and looking at the water and felt compelled enough to ask “Is something wrong?”.  When we told her our plates were wet, she replied “Oh yes, that’s because they’re just out of the washer.  They’re clean.  You can dry them with the napkins I gave you.”  Wait a second now… I thought that’s YOUR job to bring over CLEAN and DRY plates to the table and set them down in front of EACH of us?  Of course, I didn’t say that but I sure as heck would have wanted to.

IMG_6757 copySo far, none of us were pleased by the service, yet we proceeded to pick and order our dishes.  Now the menu, as mentioned earlier, consists of all the typical types of food you would expect from a West Coast serving restaurant.  Your have your appetizers with salads, fries, bread dishes, soups; you have burgers; sandwiches; steaks; seafood and pastas.  In terms of cost, prices range from the single digits to the lower double digits for appetizers and smaller dishes and the upper teens to lower twenties for the main dishes.  When it came time to order the server took down the order in a rather strange manner.  She stood, firmly planted and not moving, at my end of the table and prompted us one at a time to dictate our order; when she finally couldn’t hear what Richard was ordering from the other side of the table 4 people away, then only did she move over to his side to take his order.  She continued like this until she was done making us talk very loudly to place our orders.  Finally she had taken the orders of 7/8 of us and came over to my side to take mine but suddenly got distracted by another customer at a table behind me and without saying ‘excuse me’ or ‘I’m sorry, give me one moment’ she went to the other table only to be engaged by that customer for a full 2-3 minutes before returning to me.  This is completely unacceptable from a service based restaurant that stresses quality of service as one of their pillars.  Service = not impressed!

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Appy Platter of Fail ($28.99)
The food was served quickly, thankfully, as some of us were starving.  We decided to start off with an appy platter to share between the 8 of us. It was $28.99 + $1.50 for 2 extra dipping sauces for the following: med bread, avocado spring roll, calamari, chicken tender and chicken wings (choice of spicy, BBQ, salt & pepper and something else – we opted for the salt & pepper). This plate was truly disappointing…the portion was small (enough for 3-4 people at the most). For the price, the food was definitely lacking in quantity and quality. When we said we had wanted to share this platter, it would have been nice of the waitress to mention that it probably wouldn’t be enough for all of us. To begin with, the chicken wings were salty and dry, not very appetizing, one was enough. The
IMG_6798 copycalamari pieces were all stuck together and soggy – not fried properly or set aside for too long. Same for the avocado spring roll – one soggy mess. The med bread has a hint of rosemary and garlic, but overall lacking in taste and quite dry. I didn’t even get a chance to try the chicken tenders, but was told that it was dry as well. I know I can dip all of these in sauce, but then everything would taste like the sauce.

Nabs:  I opted for the Maple Glazed Salmon ($22.99); Now, having tried salmon and fish dishes at almost every restaurant I’ve been to, I’ve had the good, the bad and the ugly.  I feel pretty confident in saying that I know my fish(es).  And this was GOOD salmon.  It might just be the best I’ve had in recent memory.  And somehow, the dishes I order often tend to be really small portion sizes (in fact, it is a running joke in our group of friends that I always get the smallest meal and often pay more than every one else) but this time I was fortunate enough to experience the unexpected and get a relatively large chunk of salmon on a generous serving of mashed potatoes.  Now this I was happy about.  The fish was great; it was cooked properly but still moist with flakes separating willingly and cleanly, just the way properly prepared salmon should be.  To add a kick, it had pineapple pieces sprinkled on top.  This went surprisingly well with the maple glaze on the salmon to create a rather satisfying experience for my tastebuds.  Ever watched the movie Rattatouillie?  Remember the scene where he eats something and comments about the explosion of flavors in his mouth?  That’s exactly what happened here!  The mashed potatoes were plenty and satisfying.  Usually I find mashed potatoes are dry and in sparse amounts leaving more to be desired;  this mashed potatoes was neither dry nor left any ounce of desire unfulfilled.  The presentation of my dish was aesthetic and appetizing.  Good stuff.

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Top sirloin oscar ($27.99)
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Steak was done just right (notice the delicious pink
centre throughout! :D )
IMG_6783 copyYing: Having just got off from a long work shift, I was hungry and craving steak! So I opted for the top sirloin oscar (jumbo prawns, atlantic crab & béarnaise) served with a baked potato and some grilled seasonal vegetables ($27.99). I asked for the steak to be medium rare and was pleasantly surprised that it had been cooked to order after the letdown of the disappointing appys. Presentation of the food was very good and the portion size was decent (enough that I was sure I wasn’t going to be able to finish). The steak was juicy and tender, but a bit on the salty side. The crab & béarnaise was flavourful and complemented the steak. The baked potato was tasty but I stopped after a few bites due to excessive saltiness. The prawns were not jumbo, more like average-sized. They tasted fairly fresh and at least they were deveined. The grilled vegetables were slightly overcooked but passable. Overall, a satisfying meal at a reasonable cost, but not something I would order again.

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Rich's plate: LOADED burger - yum yum yum
 Rich: I wanted something not too expensive, so I went with the loaded burger. For $13.99, it was served with aged white cheddar, mozzarella, sauteed mushrooms, bacon & barbecue sauce. I was given the option of salad and fries and I told the server I wanted the Caesar Salad. However, if you look at the picture above, soggy and over-salted fries were given instead (booooooo). Since I was hungry and mine was the last one to come, I didn’t bother asking for my salad. Though, I was not impressed. As for the burger, it lived up to its name – loaded. The beef patty was grilled just right – juicy, not overtly burnt, and large. There were plenty of bacon strips and sauteed mushrooms. Once again, it gets a bit too salty pretty fast. I was full to the rim after finishing the burger. I left most of the unappetizing fries untouched. The burger was fine and for the price, I would get it again. However, I will definitely suggest getting either a salad or yam fries. I don’t think I’ll be paying Moxie’s another visit  in the near future unless it’s a gathering.

Vancouver island free-run roasted chicken without goat cheese ($17.99)
Two of our friends, Turtle and Jason, chose the Vancouver island free-run roasted chicken ($17.99) served with white wine, lemon & thyme reduction and herbed goat cheese & crispy sage. Turtle didn’t like goat cheese so she asked for it to be removed. Turtle said that her chicken was juicy, but also on the salty side. She thought the mashed potatoes were pretty generic and not very good. Jason thought that the goat cheese was a total fail…it was just a slab of unmelted cheese slapped sloppily on the chicken. He guessed that they were attempting to copy the use of roquefort butter on steak that can be found at some restaurants. He agreed that the mashed potatoes were nothing to write home about.
Herb chicken alfredo a la high school cafeteria style ($15.99)
The dish above, herb chicken alfredo ($15.99), was ordered by Jeff. As you can see, the presentation can be described by one word…abysmal. It looks like something from a high school cafeteria. Taste-wise, he didn’t comment much. When we asked him how the dish was, he said “I’ll give it a 6/10…for trying”. Enough said.

All in all, the experience here was alright.  The atmosphere was nice and the food was okay, but the distracted and awkward server we had led to a completely heinous customer service experience and probably single handedly reduced our experience from being a potential great to being alright.  In terms of price, while the food was satisfactory, it probably was not worth what we paid. Then again, if the service was better, the cost would probably end up justifying itself. The dishes were definitely hit or miss. Guess we had higher expectations.

The Good:
  • Atmosphere was great for socializing with friends
  • Some dishes were good

The Bad:
  • Better service was expected…
  • Someone got a bit heavy-handed with the salt shaker
  • Some dishes were pricey

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Happy Birthday Turtle!
Birthday Cake from St. Germaine's Bakery (Oakridge)
Only one piece is shown
Birthday girl was camera shy so this represents her :) 

Moxie's Classic Grill (Richmond) on Urbanspoon


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