Restaurant Review - The Hat

Friday, April 29, 2011
In the famous words of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” (or something like that...).  Except in my case, I was late getting back to my office after lunch today with Big Brother at The Hat on Jasper Avenue. And it wasn’t because we decided to order dessert…

Earlier this week, out of the blue, Big Brother emailed me and offered to treat me to a free lunch. He isn’t normally in the downtown area but he was going to be at his head office today for some administrative stuff and wanted to get together. Since I’m rarely one to turn down a free meal, and I don’t get to spend much time with him these days, I said sure. He suggested The Hat, an Edmonton institution which has been around in one form or another for as long as anyone can remember. I had always wanted to try it out and he’s raved about their burgers once or twice, I jumped at the chance. As usual, I checked out their menu ahead of time and decided what I wanted in advance so there’d be do dawdling over the menu.

I met Big Brother at noon. He was sitting at the bar (it was packed) and had already ordered a couple of sodas. Fantastic. He hadn’t ordered yet but it didn’t take long for the bartender to take our order: we both decided on the Cajun chicken burger and fries with sides of gravy. We settled in as best we could at the bar – somehow we managed to sit at the exact spot where all the drinks were poured/mixed. Ewwwwww. However, I took it as part of the experience. We chatted about what was going on with his work (he’s a computer programmer) and how my new job was going, his kids, plans for the summer, my eventual surgery. It seemed to be taking an awfully long time for our lunch to arrive. We had now been there for almost half an hour and I started to worry a smidge. I’ve only got an hour for lunch and had to be back in my office.

More chit chat.

No food.

I asked Big Brother what time it was again. 1245. He got slightly annoyed with me.

I was famished and annoyed, although not with him.

It took approximately 50 minutes for our food to arrive. By that time, I had to get it “to go” as I was already going to be late getting back to the office. I managed to scarf down a few fries and a drip or two of gravy before rushing out and leaving Big Brother to eat alone. The fries? Very nice although I am not normally a fan of the shoestring. I prefer a bit more substance to my frites but these had the perfect amount of salt, were nice and crisp and there was a ton of them so I can’t complain about that. And the gravy? Mmmmm, delicious. If I thought I could get away with it without anyone seeing, I probably would have drank the small dish like a shot of tequila. The chicken burger was a whole other story.

One thing I love to eat is spicy food. If something comes with banana peppers and Cajun seasoning? Yes please! The Hat’s Cajun Chicken Burger was the first item on their chicken menu. I didn’t look any further down the menu as the sound of it had me salivating within seconds. It could not have been more disappointing. There was absolutely nothing “Cajun” or spicy about this bland, dreary, sad looking piece of chicken that ended up on my plate. The chicken had no flavour to it. Just a plain piece of grilled chicken that was overcooked (and believe me, I’m a girl who likes my meat WELLDONE and dry but this was ridonkulous) topped with boring cheese, a couple of banana peppers that tasted as though all the heat had been washed off. It’s just downright sad when the pickle and tomato were the best parts of the sandwich. I could have forgiven the slow service or that it was cold when I got to finally eat it at my desk but it just was not good. At all. I feel bad that Big Brother wasted $12.75 on my lunch (plus a soda).

My recommendations for The Hat? Perhaps you could let your customers know that its going to take a little while for their food to arrive. Considering most of the people I saw were in suits, I’m guessing they were office workers on their lunch break. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was rushing to get back in time.

This meal certainly would not have made me want to come back. Big Brother raves about their burgers and I admit, the ones I saw looked awesome. So… would I go back? Possibly. If someone gave me a gift certificate or if they want to give me a free meal to make up for this less than stellar one, sure. I’d give it a second go. I certainly will never order the “Cajun” chicken burger ever again though and I suggest that you don’t waste your money on it either.


Heather said...

Ugh. HATE when that happens.

Karen said...

Heather, this would never happen with the super duper sammich girls, would it? :(

beccles suffolk said...

I don't think waiting for a long time to get your burgers served is a good experience.

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