I went to Turtle Jack’s in Guelph with my lovely ladies earlier this week. It was an interesting trip. Full disclosure: I used to frequently dine at TJs, and really enjoy it.
We were seated immediately and solicitously cared for by our waitress, who was a very good, bordering on great, server. She was great with our 2 year old (which frequently makes or breaks a dining experience for us). She took our drink orders right away and brought the drinks back before we even opened our menus. Which, it should be noted, had changed since the last time I had been to the restaurant. There were enough things similar, though, for us to decide that we should get the roasted garlic and goat cheese appetizer. I decided on a burger for my entree, my partner got a chicken wrap, and we decided to share off our plates for the little one.
This is where things started to go wrong.
The appetizer, which I had had before and remember it being fantastic, arrived quite quickly. The garlic was a tad over-roasted and had obviously been cooked hours earlier and warmed up. The last time I got it, the garlic was served as a half-bulb, roasted in the skin, and you’d peel it out and it would be delicious. This time, it was 9 unappetizing looking cloves in a small (microwave friendly, I’d wager) bowl. The goat cheese wasn’t plain – it was a (probably pre-packaged and also heated up) nut-encrusted ball, and it was on the small side. The corn relish and cilantro salsa that came with were both quite good. The appetizer came with eight very small pieces of pita on which to put the garlic, cheese, relish and salsa. This was not even enough pita to finish half of the rest of the appetizer. I asked for more pita, for which I was charged a dollar.
Now, here’s where I got off the TJ boat. Charging a customer a dollar for something that is pretty much worthless, like a pita, is basically a slap in the face that says “I value money more than I value your happiness”. Now, I’m not naive – I know that this is the truth. But a good restaurant should at least pretend that they value the customer, so that they can get a little something called “return business”. Customer satisfaction is worth far more than a dollar.
So, the entrees came. My burger made up for in quantity what it lacked in quality… but if that was what I was looking for, I’d go to McDonalds. The fries were good, though there were only 14 of them. The wrap that my partner had was so unremarkable, that I think I shall refrain from remark.
I ended up very happy with the service and the atmosphere, but unhappy with the food and the management policy to charge an extra buck for the pita. When the waitress asked if we enjoyed the meal, I told her “not particularly” and explained why. She seemed taken aback (I had not yet paid her tip) and then really surprised and grateful when I gave her a tip just north of 20%. I think she’s used to people equating poor food with server troubles and getting stiffed.
Unfortunately, this has soured me enough to Turtle Jacks that I don’t foresee myself returning there any time soon.