While there had been initial contemplation about a trip eastward - either to North York or Markham to fulfill munching needs - there were, truthfully, very few geographical POIs beyond food. Waterloo served as a pleasant getaway from heavily hyped eateries and crowds, which, in turn, made for agreeable drives and parking situations.
We had the option of choosing our seats, naturally prompting me to graviate towards the table with the greatest natural illumination. A few crumbs resided on the tall stool, but the bartender was more than willing to assist in brushing them off. Given that the chairs had been tucked into the table legs, it was evident that we were its first users of the day.
I continued to scan for articles of interest. In the meantime, two IKEA drinking glasses and a chilled bottle of water were delivered to our table. Noteworthy was its presentation, for it utilized a tinted, airtight brewing bottle. At first glance, it would appear no different from a corked wine bottle, yet the cap was a screwtop inclusive of a rubber seal, similar to the amber bottle I had obtained for DIY vanilla extract. Though not immediately obvious, the water was deemed slightly alkaline (salty) after a few sips.
"Hmmmm I'm not sure." I mumbled without lifting my head. The statement could be interpreted as indecisiveness to an undiscerning eye, though it was, in fact, a careful calculation to maximize enjoyment through sustenance.
"Are you going to get beer?" came the follow-up inquiry, which was quickly interrupted by "Of course you are! Who am I kidding?"
As if on cue, our gaze fell upon the flights on nearby tables, inciting curiosity and uncertainty. Our server, a friendly, bearded man in a black Waterloo Brewing t-shirt, sauntered by at this very moment, and immediately appeased my burning inquiries with a gesture towards the list by the bar. While those named on the Cans and Bottles section could only be requested individually, any of the names on tap could be chosen to constitute a flight.
1) Waterloo Brewing Signature Series Apple Crumble Porter
5) A Good Time Saison
10) Enida Kellerbier
11) Landshark Island Style Lager
We also took to The Full Boar Sandwich, Fest Pretzel, and Brussel Sprout & Chorizo Salad for sharing.
Being a dark beer, this one was unmistakably the sweetest of the pack, and further reinforced my reservations towards stouts and porters by bearing a cough syrup-like profile. The first whiff evoked a warm, vanilla-laced aromas, though neither apple-y nor caramel-y notes transcended into the drink itself.
A Good Time Saison
Unfiltered and fruity, I enjoyed this on its own as well as with my final bites of Brussel Sprout & Chorizo Salad. The contrast of refreshing and slightly zesty with creamy and savoury worked exceptionally well.
When I had asked whether the Kellerbier bore resemblance to a stout due to its proclaimed "malty sweetness", I received a hesitant response back, as the brew variety could only be placed in a category of its own. Only upon sampling did I learn the validity of this statement. Darker than a lager yet brighter than an amber ale, the Kellerbier paired splendidly with the Fest Pretzel and its indulgent Bacon Cheddar Dip. After all, sweet and savoury is rarely a combination that fails to deliver.
Landshark Island Style Lager
Within the first few bites of each dish, we turned towards the menu to identify its recommended beer pairing. Majority were suggested to pair with Lager, unsurprisingly given its relatively mild profile. The Island Style Lager was the lightest of the quad at 4.6% ABV, earning a nod of approval even from the ever-sober sleepy polar bear.
Stacked generously between fluffy slider buns was braised shortrib and plenty of arugula, dressed with just enough garlic aioli for cohesion. Pickled onions, fermented jalapeno slices (which were overwhelmingly mild and not spicy at all, even for me), and a single dill pickle contributed acidity throughout the dish, stimulating the appetite from the first bite and rounding it off with a faint kick. The Full Boar Sandwich was truly a wealth of complex flavours. Miss Vickies-style chips accompanied the sandwich. But, as our table's chip connoisseur noted, the wispy slices were smaller than Miss Vickies, despite being equally crispy and comprehensively seasoned (in other words, salty).
Lagers, as mentioned earlier, is versatile due to its mild nature, though not necessarily applicable to all scenarios especially where distinct, contrastng flavours are present. The Shaved Corned Beef Sandwich is recommended with wheat and IPA, both of which retain their own unique profile.
"You just spent more on beer than our entire meal." declared the undaunted observer.
"...You're right." I looked up from my retail expedition and nodded matter-of-factly.
Artwork was present throughout the museum, either lining the walls or earning a dedicated space on the second floor gallery. The pieces could be described as mixed media work, albeit with heavy physical accents. This was expected, as the facility was largely geared towards a younger demographic, toddlers and children who prefer to interact with physical elements rather than sit in static appreciation.
Inching further inwards, we spotted a station where participants could duel in a match of memory with sport flash cards on a touch screen. Timed games are often my forte, though short-term memory is meek.
Downtown Kitchener has transformed drastically since my last visit. The neighbourhood still sports the same colourful crosswalks, spacious sidewalks, and streetscaping elements, yet the closed storefronts and desolate environment indicate a lack of foot traffic to support it.
Questionably loud passerbys later reveal themselves as displaced (or mentally deranged). For our safety, we crossed over the mountable curbs to Rainbow, where I had experienced not only my first oxtail dish but a spready of truly exemplary Caribbean cuisine. The windows had been covered with brown paper, seemingly referencing a pending liquour license.
"Hey guys! Can we ask you a question?" One of them piped up without warning. "What is your greatest joy in life?"
I looked over at him, annoyed, perplexed and eager to walk away. "Joy?"
Thinking quickly, I blurted the response least likely to be relatable or prompt further conversation: "Getting things done."
"Getting things done." One of them repeated, seemingly looking for a way to intervene with the idea.
Before he could spout more nonsense, I hurriedly altered the flow of the conversation. "Yes, having a to-do list and doing stuff. We actually have stuff to do and gotta go!"
Dragging the sleepy polar bear away, I zoomed down the street, shaking my head in disbelief at how we were stopped for no valid reason while together - and not once, but twice!
Strolling into Toro Toro's soft opening day on a whim resulted in disappointment. The restaurant had "sold out" of food entirely, and was forced to turn away customers until the following day.
Contrary to both of our expectations though, the spot was dreary, filthy, and cramped. With washroom access blocked off, it was clear that Moteru operated primarily as a takeout joint.