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Dinner and a concert: Times three

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As previously mentioned, May was a big concert month for us. Unusually for us, we went out to eat before three of these outings.

1. Food trucks and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy are a band who play retro, swinging jazz music. Before their concert at Centre in the Square, the Waterloo Hep Cat Hoppers were offering a dance lesson in the lobby. We wanted to take part in that, but it was at 6:30 pm on a work night, which seemed a bit tight.

So when Centre in the Square announced they’d have a couple food trucks there that night starting at 6:00, that seemed like a good option.

Seemed. But while food trucks are a whole big thing right now, they have a few problems.

  1. Weather. At least the rain held off until we’d gotten our food and eaten it, but it was windy and cool, making it less than fabulous for eating outdoors.
  2. Eating standing up. I’m a big fan of working standing up, but eating a meal is best enjoyed sitting down. Using metal and not plastic cutlery.
  3. Standing in line. Just not my favorite activity. Made worst by the fact that while we were there promptly at 6:00, the trucks were not really ready until 6:15, allowing other people to get ahead of us in line, and making us a bit late for the dance lesson.

As for food quality… Meh… Jean didn’t particularly enjoy his Tandoori grilled cheese. I thought my Mediterranean crepe wasn’t bad, but not really worth braving weather / eating standing up / standing in line for again, unless I was stuck.

The dance lesson, though, was fine. What we were taught was very similar to the jive that Jean and I know well, only instead of backstep / step / step (or triple step), it was back-step / kick / kick. It was really hard to remember to do the kick / kick when we were so used to the step / step. Occasionally we just rebelled and reverted to jive dancing. But a good time.

Hep Cat Hoppers performance on YouTube

As for the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performance, that was hard not to enjoy also, as the music is so lively and fun. I hadn’t known that the band, the same group of people, had been together since 1995. Jean wasn’t in the greatest mood that night (and I’m sure the grilled cheese didn’t help), but he could still recognize that they gave a really good show. (Should point out that this concert was his idea for a change, rather than mine.)

Video: Mr. Pinstripe Suit by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

2. Three Kretans and Ballroom with a Twist

Three Kretans is a Greek restaurant very close to Centre in the Square. For the past year or two, Centre in the Square’s parking lot has been under construction, making it a challenge to find a spot to leave your car before shows. So Three Kretans has come up with a pretty smart offer: Have dinner there, leave your car in their parking lot (for free), and walk to theatre. They have a pre-theatre menu that gets you to the show on time. With the ballroom concert at 7:00 on a week night, we decided to go that right.

The food isn’t bad. It is a casual Greek restaurnt, so you get your lamb, chicken, or pork skewers with potatoes and rice and Greek salad. And baklava-type dessert, if you want.

But Jean was underwhelmed. “I get better food than this at home,” he pointed out. [Ah, the perils of being such a fantastic home cook! 🙂 ]

The show, fortunately was in no way disappointing. Music was all provided by the KW Symphony, and the evening was hosted by Kym Johnson and Tristan MacManus of Dancing with the Stars, and also featured other dancers that show. That fact probably would have been more exciting if I watched Dancing with the Stars. (By the way, everyone in our ballroom dance class thinks it’s highly peculiar that we don’t watch that show.) And there were a couple singers from American Idol, which, again, I don’t watch, so I didn’t know who they were. But while the woman certainly had a nice voice, I will admit to being particularly impressed by the dude, one Von Smith, who had most impressive range and control.

Mainly, though, this was about dancing. It featured group numbers, solos, duets, mostly in the Latin and ballroom genres (though in that showy TV style with all the lifts and whatnot), but the twist was the inclusion of some modern and hip hop dancing as well. This was largely due to the inclusion of a couple dancers I had heard of: Legacy and Randi Lynn Strong, from So You Think You Can Dance. Their numbers were definitely my favorites. Very cool how the So You Think… training allows them to join the ballroom dancers in that genre, but also shine in their own.

Ballroom with a Twist promo video

At one point, the hosts even got the audience up dancing! All very fun.

Afterward we got to attend a reception with the performers, though I continued my tradition of never knowing what to say when in these situations. Still, what we learned from other people’s question were:

  • This was their only Canadian performance.
  • They don’t always get to perform with a live symphony, but like it when they do
  • … except when the symphony can’t keep the beat. But apparently, that was not a problem with the KW Symphony.
Randi Lynn Strong at reception

Randi Lynn Strong at Centre in the Square reception

After taking a few crappy phone photos, we headed home.

3. Marisol and KW Symphony Superheroes

Jean pointed out that Marisol restaurant is also close to Centre in the Square, but offers better food than Three Kretans. So though I hadn’t planned to go out to eat again this month, as we hadn’t been there in a while, I made a reservation before the final month’s concert.

It was a very enjoyable dinner. As an appetizer, we shared six small but delicious raspberry point oysters (they actually gave us seven, probably due to the size) and marinated sardines, served with a salad. There’s no beating fresh sardines from Portugal, but marinating them proved a rather good choice for those of us farther from the sea. We were so excited about these, we forgot to get a picture until almost done:

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The remnants of our appetizers

As the wine, the waiter suggested a Portuguese Viognier-Sauvignon Blanc blend that was lemony and well-suited to the food.

I continued the seafood theme through dinner, having the fish of the day, which was sea bream. Served whole, it was really easy to fillet, and had been cooked very nicely. The side was a pasta made in-house, dressed simply with lemon, olive oil, and parsley.

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Jean went with the lemon-tomato gnocchi. The texture of the pasta was perfect, and the flavor was more subtle than one usually gets with gnocchi. Not a bad thing.

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For dessert, we share a creme caramel and forgot to take pictures, again.

We were in plenty of time to walk over for our concert, which the KW Symphony performing music from Superhero movies. This was conducted by John Morris Phillips, Cincinnati Pops conductor, who is always a lot of fun.

The only themes I knew in advance was Darth Vadar’s from Star Wars, but I found most quite engaging. The themes from Dark Knight, Supergirl, and XMen were particularly striking. A lot were almost hilariously short, though; just the length of the opening credits, I guess! In some cases they put a few scores together to make a somewhat longer “theme” piece. Nothing that ever really taxed the attention span, though.

It was a great way to showcase the symphony’s skill, and it was nice to see a very full house in attendance.

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