Monday, April 26, 2010

Montreal Food Journey - Day 0: Swiss Chalet

Founded in 1954 - in Toronto. I should be proud, no?
You read right. My boyfriend and I went to Swiss Chalet. I need to clarify first that Swiss Chalet was not a PLANNED destination, okay? This was really just a stop over for dinner somewhere between Kingston and Montreal - we passed Kingston and realized shortly after that we need to eat ASAP (my boyfriend was about to pass out since it was around 9:30pm already) so we got off the highway once we spotted signs for food, so that's why I had no idea where this Swiss Chalet was.

I know I didn't have to include this meal as part of my Montreal Food Journey, especially because there's tons of Swiss Chalets in Toronto, and also, we weren't even in Montreal yet at the time. But still, we technically began our road trip by then so it should be included. And most importantly, this post gives me a chance to rant about how much I hate Swiss Chalet.

Don't know if you've read my post about Pizzeria Libretto, and how I said that if you know me in person, you should know that I love that place and that it's one of my all-time favorite restaurant. Well, I guess if you know me really really well in person, you should also know that I hate Swiss Chalet. I think less people know this because more often, I talk more about the good restaurants that I've been to, and the food I like, not the food or places I hate. And let me tell you, I'm really not a picky eater. I can eat at McDonald's, oily food at food courts, five dollar Vietnamese pho, to other casual dining franchise chains like Milestones, Moxie's, Kelsey's. I just adjust my standards and expectations accordingly, I'm totally fine with that. But for some reason, I really, really, cannot stand Swiss Chalet - I simply cannot adjust to this place no matter how hard I try. And really, I've tried - it's not like I rejected it before even trying it, I've been there four times (none  of them my idea or my choice) and I hate it every time.

Thanks, but no thanks.

To better understand why I dislike Swiss Chalet so much, I broke it down into the following reasons:

Size of chicken pieces - this is just purely my personal preference. I cannot stand having big pieces of chicken right in front of me on my plate.  It's not like I hate chicken or something, I love chicken wings. I also love Chinese style chicken, as in, yeah they cook the whole chicken at once, but then the chicken is cut into small pieces. But if there's a big chicken thigh is on my plate, or a half chicken, or even a quarter chicken (all specialties at Swiss Chalet), I would actually feel full just by looking at it. It's weird because only chicken has this effect on me - I love a big steak, or a big piece of lamb, or even a piece of pork chop ...just not chicken.  This is why I never order chicken in a restaurant.

The Signature Swiss Chalet Sauce - ahhh the infamous sauce, where millions of people can't get enough of it. They slather it over their chicken, their fries (they had a poutine available before with the sauce on it too), and dip their dinner roll into it...people love this sauce! Well, I hate it! I think it tastes really gross. I would take regular gravy over this Swiss Chalet sauce any day, and I'm not even a gravy person. And you know how sometimes, you hate a particular food when you're a kid, but once you try it again when you're older, it actually tastes OK? I used to hate olives when I was I absolutely love them! I had the Swiss Chalet sauce around 10 years ago (my first time at Swiss Chalet), so going with this acquired taste rationale of mine, I decided to try the sauce again my third time there (which was less than a year ago), thinking that hey, I really should like it more now since I mean, come on, millions of people love this stuff. Tried it. Still hate it.

Chicken Spinach Salad
Chicken is DRY - What's going on? Is it just me who finds their chicken dry? I mean I've had juicy chicken before - my Brother makes really good rotisserie chicken in his BBQ, my Mom makes good juicy and tender chicken all the time in the oven, I've been to restaurants (mostly Chinese restaurants, as I did mention before that I hardly order chicken anywhere else) that serve juicy chicken...but COME ON, the chicken at Swiss Chalet is not juicy, it's so dry!!! I'm thinking that people get the false impression that their chicken is juicy because they smother it in that gross sauce, so really they are just eating the sauce! 

"Do you want some chicken to go with that sauce?"

To prove my point, the last two times I went (knowing that I don't like the sauce, and that not into big pieces of chicken), I ordered the "Moist Rotisserie Chicken on a Kaiser Roll" which came with the Chalet sauce. I did not use the sauce, and OH MY GOD, the chicken was sooooooooooo dry (a total contrast to their "moist" description) I had trouble swallowing the thing without drinking water in between! And I am NOT exaggerating! And this time I was there, I ordered the "Chicken Spinach Salad". Please take a look at the chicken in the above picture....don't they look like pieces of cardboard to you?! WHITE DRY PIECES OF CARDBOARD? Do they even look good to you?

They did not look like this
Sans-chicken appetizers - The second time I was there, although years ago, I still remember distinctly that I was at a Swiss Chalet with some coworkers before my company's Christmas party. We all ended work at 5pm and the party doesn't start until 7:30pm, and since the party was in downtown, there was no point in going back home. So we went to a Swiss Chalet King St. A few of us ordered chicken entrees and appetizers to share. I remember having their perogies. It would be a lie to say I remember exactly how they tasted like since this was years ago, but I can definitely tell you that they were really nasty that I've never ordered perogies again - Swiss Chalet has ruined them for me forever. I'm not bias either because I remembered my colleagues saying that they thought the perogies were nasty as well. 

So those are my reasons for hating Swiss Chalet. I think I've given it a fair number of chances -  It's not like I ordered entrees that did not include chicken since chicken is their specialty. I mean, it's like if I went to The Keg and ordered seafood, or went to Rodney's and ordered pasta, and I come out bashing the place because my food wasn't good, that would be unfair. But I DID order chicken, not just their classic chicken entrees, but a salad with chicken, a chicken sandwich...and all three times their chicken was dry as hell. And as for their perogies, they shouldn't taste gross right? People can't just always say "Well Swiss Chalet specializes in chicken so you really shouldn't order anything else". Sorry but I just don't buy that at all. I mean, the other stuff doesn't have to be GREAT, but should be at least decent, and not nasty. And I have to say one more time: if their chicken was really that juicy and great, it should taste just as good without the sauce. 

Maybe I shouldv'e ordered this instead LOL:

Who knows? Maybe it couldv'e been the best fish
and chips ever! HAHA. My boyfriend says the
Swiss Chalets in Toronto doesn't have this.

There was only one good thing about my fourth experience at Swiss Chalet which my previous three experiences lacked: The All-You-Can-Eat fries.

The All-You-Can-Eat fries comes with any one chicken entree. In hindsight, we shouldv'e ordered the chicken entree for my boyfriend, and I can just eat the fries! I wouldv'e left the place a much happier person. I must remember for next time.

So why did we go to Swiss Chalet?! IT'S BECAUSE MY BOYFRIEND LOVES THIS PLACE! YES! HE LOVES THE CHICKEN AND HE LOVES THE SAUCE! HE WOULD DIP EVERY PIECE OF CHICKEN, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, INTO THE SAUCE BEFORE IT GOES INTO HIS MOUTH! He hardly eats at Swiss Chalet in Toronto because of me, and I guess I don't mind it once in awhile. But this time, it's mainly because I've already planned all our meals in Montreal (see spreadsheet), and he's been driving for a few hours nonstop already right after work, and because I'm such a good girlfriend, I let him have Swiss Chalet as a treat  =)