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A tour of downtown Kitchener restaurants

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Since we go to the Electric “Thursdays” series of concerts with friends, we typically go out for dinner first. This year, for whatever reason, each meal has been at a downtown Kitchener restaurant we’ve never been to before. Here’s how they were.

Niko Niko Roll & Sushi, at 20 King Street East, blessedly was not an “all you can eat” type, and did have pretty good sushi. One in our party had the Korean bim bap dish instead (vegetarian version), and also enjoyed that. The lack of wine was a bit disappointing; we tried the saki, but it wasn’t one of the better ones. The service was fine, if unspectacular. And they certainly got us out of there in plenty of time for the show. In fact, we even had time to get some wine from Centre in the Square…

271 West Restaurant, which is in fact at 271 King Street West in Kitchener,  has kind of an Italian-focused menu, and brags of everything being made in-house. They also have a wine list, although not a good understanding of Ontario liquor laws: The waiter insisted (pretty adamantly) that we were not allowed to take a leftover bottle of wine with us. He’s wrong about that—here’s the proof—and as a result lost out on the sale of a bottle of a wine (in favor of two glasses).

The food was all right here, but nothing outstanding. But again, they at least did get us out in time.

Caesaria, at 320 King Street West, was selected based on its online menu, and at least some of us were surprised by its bar-like appearance. Our waitress was young, perky, and pretty, but not that well-informed about the menu. We heard “I’ll have to check on that!” quite a bit. But, to be fair, she did.

The meal timing was rather odd, in that our mains arrived very shortly after our starters, so we ended up with this overflow of food on our rather small table. The upside of it was that, at least, ensured that we once again were done in time for the show. The food here, too, was all right, but not outstanding. (Jean and I shared the edamame and hummus appetizers, and I had the chicken skewer main, while Jean had the squash ravioli.)

The final downtown Kitchener restaurant we tried, Marisol, at 30 Ontario Street South, was just me and Jean, before the KW Symphony’s wonderful Tap! pops concert (featuring dance music, complete with dancers). And it was… A really nice experience.

Marisol outside

From their website: Marisol sign

The room is nice-looking and mellow, and as a change from the all the other places described, the waiter was very professional and skilled. He gave great wine suggestions and was clearly knowledgeable about all items on the menu.

The chef here once worked at Langdon Hall, and the menu is Mediterranean, with a lot of seafood items on offer. I started with the grilled calamari, which had a good texture and was in a really good sauce, while Jean enjoyed the grilled sardines in tomato caponata. If sardines can never live up to those we ate in Portugal, they were still well-prepared, and the tomato sauce very flavorful.

As a main, I had the lemon ricotta gnochi with tomato and pine nuts, and that was very nicely done. Jean had the fish special of the day, which was sea bream. We didn’t take the time for dessert on this outing, but if we had, I believe they still would have gotten us out in time for the show. Now, Marisol is more expensive than any of the other places we tried. But you do get what you pay for sometimes, eh?

So the do-overs would be Niko Niko Sushi & Roll and (especially) Marisol. The other two were experiences that were not unpleasant, but don’t particularly need repeating.

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