REVIEW: The City Grill Windsor

Monday, April 18, 2011

The City Grill
375 Ouellette Avenue 
Windsor, Ontario Canada
Phone: +1(519)915-5948
Type of Restaurant: Contemporary American 
Attire: Business Casual
Prices: E- $12 M- $27 D- $9
Payment Options:
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Debit/Eftpos
Hours: Monday-Sunday 11:30am-3:00pm
Reservations? Recommended
Handicap Accessible? Yes 
Vegetarian Friendly? Limited.
Vegan Friendly? No.


      Photobucket   Photobucket



Quality of Food: 3/5
Service: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Atmosphere: 4/5

Today marked the long-awaited grand opening of The City Grill Windsor, located at the former location of Pepper's Bar and Grill. The only thing left reminiscent of Pepper's is the structure itself, and the mezzanine dining. Instead, The City Grill chooses to pay homage to its historic resident, Birks Diamond Jewellers. With black and white photos highlighting historically significant landmarks in Windsor used as dividers, the original brass Birks' doorknob, and even the original walk-in safe's conversion into a wine cellar you definitely feel you are stepping into an upscale, time-warp from Windsor's past.

My friend Adam was the one who suggested we give The City Grill a try. Our mutual friend Melissa decided to join us as well. The three of us were instantly greeted at the door and quickly ushered to a table. We were offered up menus, resembling a fancy broadway playbill and our glasses topped up with water (visibly infused with strawberry and lime, though tasted like plain, iced tap water).

Upon glancing over the wine menu, we initially thought they only offered wine by the bottle. Much too difficult to choose considering the mix of preferences at the table. The server quickly ran over to the bar and brought over a per glass menu. The City Grill offers a nice selection of wines from some of the best wine growing regions of the world: France, California, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile ... I was however surprised by the lack of local wines. Especially, considering the wide range of fantastic wines available in Essex County. Nevertheless, I settled for a Californian Pinot Noir, Melissa an Italian Pinot Grigio, and Adam a sangria. See what I mean about mixed preferences.
STARTERS: Spiced Crab Cakes (left), Short Rib Croquette (right)

For starters, the three of us shared the Spiced Crab Cakes, and Short Rib Croquettes--both recommended to us by an employee. The Spiced Crab Cakes were atlantic crab incrusted in cornmeal, with a distinct taste of cilantro. While tasty, the three of us agreed that there was just something missing. Perhaps more spice? The Short Rib Croquettes on the other hand were simply amazing. Shredded short ribs, surrounded by chunky mash potatoes, rolled into a panko-crumbed ball and fried to give it a perfect crunch. Almost, reminded me of Sicilian Arancini with the mash potatoes substituted in for the rice. The short ribs had us craving a barbecue sauce, rather than the "tomato coulis" it was served with.

MAINS: Melissa's Filet Mignon
MAINS: Adam's Cider-Cured Double Cut Pork Chop
MAINS: My Vegetable Cutlet
For mains, Adam ordered the Cider-Cured Double Cut Pork Chop, Melissa the Filet Mignon, and I went with the Vegetable Cutlet. Adam's pork chops were served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a side of cranberry sauce. Tasting like a decently cooked Thanksgiving Dinner. Mel ordered the filet mignon cooked medium, when she cut into it however, it was clearly well done. Our assumption is that it was originally cooked properly, but seeing as how long we waited for our meals it probably continued to cook waiting for one of the servers to bring our food out to us. Despite the let down, the restaurant manager was quick to send it back. A shrot time later, a new properly cooked filet was brought out not only by our server, but Shawn McKerness, the chef himself-- apologetic. That shows incredible grace, and just how much he is striving to provide an amazing dining experience. I wasn't entirely sure what to be expecting with my vegetable cutlet, I guess I was picturing some sort of vegetable terrine-type dish. Instead, I got what resembled a banana-shaped garden burger patty with some bok choy, and a small serving of mushroom risotto. Oh, and a smearing of the "tomato coulis" appeared underneath the "cutlet" as well. I didn't really care for the patty, it was edible... but nothing special. The server herself even inquired my thoughts, as they have had mixed reviews with other diners commenting it tasted "bland". Bland would be an accurate word, but nothing some extra coulis, perhaps, couldn't fix. The bok choy was delicious, and the mushroom risotto was one of the best I have ever eaten (and risotto is one of the dishes I'm a stickler for). In fact, I would have been more than ready to pay the same price for just a bigger portion of that risotto (NEEDS to be on the menu). 

For dessert, Adam ordered the "banana". Banana-chocolate chip cake, banana ice cream, and banana brûlée pudding. All three were amazingly satisfying, leaving all three of us craving more. Especially the brûlée. Coffee on the other hand could use some work. Adam's cappuccino was laughable. The froth looking like it was just scooped on top. To the baristas's defence, my doppio espresso was fantastic not needing any sugar (thankfully, since neither of us were offered any).
DESSERT: Adam's "Banana" - cake, icecream, and brulee 

Overall, the three of us were happy with the experience. The hiccups were a given considering this was the restaurant's first time opening its doors to the public. Food was pricey for what was on offer, however the service easily made up for where the restaurant was lacking. Employees were always asking how things were going, and seemed to be seeking out recommendations on what to improve upon.  The City Grill is a welcome addition to the downtown scene, and I look forward to seeing just how much it grows and improves along the way.


Anonymous at: Sunday, June 12, 2011 5:23:00 AM said...

High Prices, quality of food was poor and service was also poor. Atmosphere was excellent.

Anonymous at: Saturday, June 25, 2011 10:14:00 PM said...

I agree poor service, very high prices especially considering the poor quality of food and the small prices. I ordered the roasted beet salad. which by the description seemed amazing. When it got to the table it was pickled beats from a jar with iceburg lettuce on top and a bit of cheese. All my friends had equally as bad of an experience if not worst. Never going back there again

Anonymous at: Monday, July 04, 2011 9:54:00 PM said...

very poor service and rude people

Anonymous at: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 11:36:00 AM said...

I am the owner of The City Grill and take all of these comments to heart. We are a new operation and constantly trying to improve of all aspects of the restaurant. I deeply apologize if the service has not been to anyones expectations and I can assure you that we have and will continue to improve! I must address the comment in regards to the Beet Salad. I can assure you that we only use fresh ingredients and have what I consider one of the area's most prominent chefs. The accusation that we serve pickled beets and iceberg lettuce come from someone that clearly does not know food. To portion issue has been addressed and we now feel that for the style and concept of dining we are achieving that the price to value ratio is where we want it to be. Thank you for you honest assessment of the restaurant and would be happy to discuss further. Feel free to call me 519-915-5948

Anonymous at: Friday, August 05, 2011 9:52:00 PM said...

I have eaten at The City Grill several times, and each time am always very impressed. The service is consistantly great, and the food is always spot on, both quality and value. I too have had the Beet Salad, and I can assure you, it was not store bought pickled beets, and most certainly not iceburg lettuce, unless you've grown up with the understanding that Baby Spinach is Iceburg lettuce??? I have, and will continue to return to The City Grill very very happily. A fabulous addition to the downtown core. Keep up the fantastic work guys!

Anonymous at: Saturday, October 08, 2011 1:09:00 PM said...

The place is awesome, food still mediocre and service amazing.

Anonymous at: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 1:29:00 PM said...

it's great that Windsor finally has a classy lounge stle place to go to. Bartenders are amazing, great autmosphere.

Anonymous at: Monday, January 02, 2012 8:54:00 PM said...

All I have to say is - don't bother. If you're considering a meal here - don't bother. Food reminds me of a government cafeteria.

Anonymous at: Friday, January 06, 2012 9:44:00 AM said...

Food was mediocre; owner and manager extremely rude. Service not great, although servers were very polite and apologetic. Not worth the trip.

Anonymous at: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 2:01:00 PM said...

Great addition to our downtown. First Class Food and Service!

Anonymous at: Monday, February 27, 2012 7:19:00 AM said...

Food and portions not very good for the price.
Atmosphere was good and service excellent.

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