Sunday, 2 June 2013

We're Here For A Good Time, Alliston

Well, I'm a little deaf today. With my five kids now aged 16 to 23 years and fairly independent, I'm finding the time now to attend some concerts here and there and take mini time machine trips back to the 1980s. In April, it was Prism and Loverboy at Casino Rama, and last night it was The Spoons and Trooper at the New Tecumseth Rec Centre in Alliston. It was a blast quite literally. The Spoons were great as always, and I believe Trooper was too but it was really hard to tell as their superior sound system was probably better suited to the Air Canada Centre than a small town arena. I could have left early, but who leaves before "Raise A Little Hell"?!

My husband and I were part of a larger group of recycled teenagers trying to relive a little of those glory days. Twelve of us, coming from several local towns, Barrie, Innisfil, Gilford and Bradford, decided to meet up for a bite before the concert. We were cooks, millwrights, film makers, truck drivers and office workers, most with a common denominator of having attended Bradford District High School back in the day, and all with a desire to reclaim a little bit of our 80s music. We took a bit of a vote through Facebook and settled on East Side Mario's at 138 Young St. in Alliston.

Who knew Alliston was such a hopping place? It sure has grown from the sleepy little potato farming community I remember as a child. The parking lot outside East Side Mario's didn't look particularly crowded, but the restaurant itself was quite full at 6:00 p.m. with diners and a good complement of staff. The decor was as you'd expect it for an ESM, clean and well organized too. Say what you will about restaurant chains, but when you find one that you like you can be sure within a certain degree of accuracy that you will have a good dining experience. Having recently dined at their Orillia location, I was dreaming of their butternut squash ravioli with a side of button mushrooms!

Ron and I were seated right away at a good long table situated nicely, and not jammed, into a corner near the front - a perfect party sized location. It helped that one of my friends had called ahead to inform them that no less than twelve time travellers would be dining together with them at 6:00. With our party arriving in twos and threes, we certainly kept those young servers on their toes, but they were patient, friendly and professional with us. Some were finished their appetizer and looking for another drink, while others had just cracked the menu cover. Kudos to the twenty-somethings who kept these former twenty-somethings well hydrated and fed, and did it cheerfully!

I sampled a few of the appetizers on the table. When I taste something I like, my first thought is - I must try to make this at home! Future kitchen experiments will now include the butternut squash ravioli of course, but also the hot spinach and cheese dip and the mushroom stuffed caps - magnifico! The caesar salad might be lacking a little in the dressing department, but don't mind me - I make my own caesar dressing at home and it has a bite! Also, I use a lot of said home made dressing. The garlic home loaf, all you can eat just like the salad, is a very nice product. Warm, fresh, not over-the-top garlicky and stays soft for a long time on the table.

Everyone enjoyed their entrees. There were a couple of minor slip-ups, but after a glass of wine or beer, everyone was jovial enough to laugh them off! Those of us who ordered their well-known-to-be-delectable sauteed button mushrooms with our entrees were momentarily disappointed with their non arrival. The young lady expiditing the food from the kitchen had my ravioli platter in her hand and asked who it was for. I said that it might be mine but it should have mushrooms on it. Her reply was simply "Well, it doesn't." I found that pretty funny. Thank you, 8 oz. glass of house white wine! Happy ending - everyone got their yummy mushrooms. All the food came, in fact it kept coming. The expeditor was back again soon with two more pasta dishes that no one ordered. She looked ever so slightly exasperated. Poor guys in the kitchen, you're in for it now!

In the words of Trooper "We're here for a good time, not a long time." and I can say that East Side Mario's in Alliston was part of our good time. Loved the food. Service was great. Thanks young servers for putting up with us old timers who must seem to you as annoying as your parents!

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