When I read the one other blogger review on Urbanspoon, suffice to say I was a bit dubious. There were numerous other positive reviews below that weren’t accompanied by pictures, but surely, I thought, that number of people can’t be wrong! I’m a scientist at heart and appreciate all of the work the Weston A. Price Foundation has done in trying to straighten out the misunderstandings and flat-out incorrect information out there about nutrition, so reading stuff on the Ethical Kitchen website got me pretty excited to visit the place. It sounded really awesome and all “gung-ho” about traditional foods, locally sourced ingredients, and all that jazz. Ultimately, though, I ended up with a large serving of disappointment.
To begin with, the service here is horrible. Dismal. The girls behind the counter will cook your food and serve it, but don’t expect them to greet you as you come in or even show you some basic human courtesy. From the website, you would expect that the people working here would at least be a little enthusiastic about sharing the benefits of eating locally-sourced, traditionally-prepared foods… Nope. No enthusiasm whatsoever. The entire time I was here, both waitresses/cooks were frowning. No smiles or “Thank you”s or “Come again”s. There wasn’t even a “Can I help you?” as we stood around after walking in, trying to figure out how the “restaurant” was supposed to work. You seat yourself, and order at a counter. Your food is brought to you. Without a smile, of course.
With such poor service wrecking the experience, I can hardly comment accurately on the ambiance. The moodiness of the waitresses kind of cast a dark shadow over the rest of the restaurant. Were they a little friendlier, I imagine the small dining area would have seemed a little more homely and welcoming. It is sparse in décor, but that is fine, since it exudes an atmosphere of being a typical kitchen that you could find in any back-country home. As I already said: under other conditions, it probably would have been very pleasant.
Ethical Breakfast: ★★★☆☆
This was… decent. My one compliment: THE EGGS WERE SO GOOD! But this had nothing to do with the way they were cooked (over-done; the egg whites were rubbery, like eating tires!), but the yolks were incredibly flavourful. The quality of the ingredients here is amazing. As they should be, though, considering the prices are ridiculously high. Aside from the yummy egg yolks, the potatoes were blah. Everything was unbelievably greasy. I tasted one tomato and almost choked on all the oil that clogged up my throat. Techie, who I was dining with (alongside Emme) that day, stole the other tomato. There was no way I was eating it. The salad dressing was just oil, too. Flavourless. If the plating looks pretty in the photograph, chalk that up to my photography skills (what little I have, at least). In reality, the plate was really messy. The “home-made ketchup” was also unexciting. The egg yolks and sauerkraut are the only reasons this isn’t rated a one-star dish. Also, the description included the sauerkraut, potatoes, salad, and eggs, but there was an option for vegetables or beef. I went with vegetables. The two tomato chunks were the only vegetables aside from the salad (which was mandatory). I’m sorry, but WTF? Rip-off. I was so annoyed at this. Aside from the egg yolks, the sauerkraut was really good – yes, so good that I bumped up the rating to three stars.
Lamb Chops with Buttered Potatoes: ★★★☆☆
Techie ordered this, and his experience was similar to mine: incredible ingredients, but messy plating and overly greasy. His potatoes were way tastier than mine, but still ho-hum. (Pretty much anything would be tastier than the potatoes on my plate.) The lamb was also fantastic. Again, the ingredients are obviously of very high quality. The salad is just a flavourless grease ball, aside from the occasional bitter green that makes it, well, bitter. It’s only getting three stars because on top of the delicious main ingredient (lamb), this dish had better potatoes as an accompaniment.
Coconut Macaroon: ★☆☆☆☆
Cheese Bun: ★★★☆☆
Emme got these, since she wasn’t that hungry and had eaten earlier (i.e. broke the cardinal rule of dining with a food blogger (which I am completely making up, of course) and that is eating before going out to eat even though you KNOW you’re going out to eat). Both of these were gluten-free. The macaroon was tasteless and fell apart the second Emme lifted it off the plate. I can’t help but find this hilarious, in a way, since coconut is supposed to be super flavourful and delicious and all that, according to many. (I wouldn’t know, since I’m allergic to it.) But this… wasn’t. Plain (like the macaroon…) and simple.
The cheese bun was slightly better. There was a nice cheesy flavour, although it wasn’t very strong, and the texture was pretty good for a gluten-free good. It was mostly doughy, though a little dry, with a hint of grittiness to remind you that it is in fact a gluten-free good. The type of grittiness that you come across in many gluten-free goods, really. Anyway, it looked pretty ugly, in my opinion, but ended up being the one thing that Emme almost finished. The coconut macaroon pretty much went untouched, aside from one bite from the first attempt to eat it (after which it collapsed into a sad heap of pink coconut shreds).
I have to say, even though the egg yolks I had that day were probably the best I’ve ever had, and the lamb was one of the best cuts Techie has ever had, I was really not impressed with the Ethical Kitchen. The website is bursting with enthusiasm for being more eco-friendly, for sourcing local and organic ingredients, and for preparing foods the traditional way, but the restaurant itself is a poor reflection of the attitude of whoever made the website content. The limited menu and unavailability of a large number of their dishes were both disappointing. Maybe my expectations were too high, as well? I don’t know, but I probably won’t be coming back for a second try, in any case.