September 10, 2008

Giulio's Not Here - Trip Restaurants

The Manitobah Dining Room, cozy and wood-paneled.

We spent a night in Sudbury on our trip across Canada. Our motel was right on the edge of the city, next to a strip mall with an A & P grocery store. There were more strip malls across the road. In fact, we seemed to be surrounded by strip malls.

We decided to venture out in search of some supper. (As you already know, the salads weren’t really cutting it.) We weren’t too sure about the quality of food at the restaurant next door, Buzzy Brown’s. The hotel provided their menu, and they serve 32 appetizers. We didn’t even start counting the entrees.

There was also a list of nearby restaurants in our motel room, and we picked the one that sounded the best under the circumstances: Giulio’s. It said the restaurant made its own pasta, so we figured it couldn’t be too bad.

We started walking up the road, which was basically a highway, toward the restaurant. We had the address, and were keeping our eyes out for a sign. But after about 15 minutes of walking, we had passed a Harley Davidson show room, the Maple Leaf masonry supply store, and the Sudbury legion with a sign proclaiming “Elvis is Coming.” The look and feel of the neighbourhood was getting more and more industrial, and we realized that Giulio’s probably wasn’t up ahead.

We turned around and walked back to the hotel intersection, asking a few people along the way if they had ever heard of the elusive Giulio’s. They hadn’t. Finally, we spotted another restaurant, called Tommy’s Not Here, tucked away in a motel basement. I know the location doesn’t bode well, but the sign and the exterior looked pretty high-class, so in we went.

It was a great decision. Supper at Tommy’s Not Here was definitely the best meal of the trip (besides the wonderful breakfast in Ottawa that I already described). Though the restaurant was in a basement, it had a cozy atmosphere, and felt more like a pub than the high-end restaurant it is. There were hanging lamps, the kind with glass grapes on them, and the chairs were old-fashioned, covered in red leather with studs on the back.

We decided to order pasta (I guess we were still at Giulio’s at heart). J had bow-tie pasta with smoked duck breast in a cream sauce with shiitake mushrooms. I chose ravioli stuffed with Portobello mushrooms and ricotta, also in a cream sauce with prosciutto and grilled asparagus.

Mine was delicious. It had a very subtle flavour (maybe a bit too subtle – I couldn’t really taste the Portobello) and was nice and creamy. Jacques also enjoyed his dish, but I found the duck too salty when I tasted it.

We shared the ginger crème brulee for dessert which was excellent. It’s one of my favourite things to order in a restaurant – smooth custard topped with crispy sugar. How could you go wrong? And the ginger flavour was amazing.

What are the chances of finding a high-end restaurant in a motel basement on the outskirts of Sudbury? Discovering spots like this is one of the best things about visiting new places.

We stopped in at a few other culinary gems along the way as well. Our motel in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba boasted the Manitobah (make sure you’re pronouncing it with lots of emphasis on the h) Dining Room. We missed out on supper there but had eggs and toast for breakfast the next morning.

While crossing the prairies we decided to buy lunch at the place where we stopped for gas. Choy’s Restaurant, inside an Esso station, was a medium-sized square room with about 12 tables. What looked like an entire Chinese family, all generations, was milling around, sitting at the tables, and walking back and forth from the kitchen to the front bar. In spite of this the service was not exactly attentive. We ordered some tried-and-true combos and fried wontons.

Vegetables add a touch of class at Choy's.

The food was actually better than in many Chinese restaurants I’ve been too. The wontons had pieces of meat in them, instead of simply being wrappers of fried dough like they are in Charlottetown. And both combos came with a serving of steamed vegetables, which was a nice touch. The meal definitely provided enough grease to fuel us all the way into Saskatchewan.

So all in all, the restaurants along the way were interesting, if not always delicious. And if anyone has heard what happened to Giulio’s, let me know.

1 comment:

Anne said...

Clever title for this entry! The only thing missing is a photo of Tommy's Not Here... I'm glad you're in a cosmopolitan place now with so many kinds of restaurants, you lucky thing.
Love, Mom