Rising earlier than I do on the standard work-from-home day, I prepared myself for a 9 AM arrival at Costco on Saturday morning. The entirety of the grocery list was obtained in under ten minutes, though not without intense frustrations with the sleepy polar bear, who offered to assist in the morning warehouse run for the first time ever and delayed it with the purchase of a single Hash Brown (Oh, the never-ending Hash Brown woes!).
Thankfully (or not so thankfully), my extreme speed guided me to the facility in sixteen minutes. Much to my relief, our commencement time was not strictly enforced.
In reviewing room choices and prices for HintHunt and Trapped, I learned of the current market prices for a sixty-minute experience: $30 to $40 before tax. These were extravagant rates to me, for the event is brief and level of enjoyment is entirely dependent on the facility's "Game Master(s)".
When go karting was eliminated as an alternative, I took matters into my own hands, eventually securing a stellar deal on Groupon for Escape The House. It was, by far, the most budget option possible: $64 after taxes for a group of four, or $16 per person.
Adjacent to the lockers was a single stall bathroom. It was surprisingly clean, despite being a unisex stall, though I grew progressively wary of the toilet's restrictive flushing capabilities.
A briefing was provided by one of the staff members prior to entry. Beyond walkie-talkies, unlimited hints, and cautionary warnings about ceiling panels and biohazard signage, we would be given a rundown of our room format.
Both groups had similar puzzles to solve to remove locks in the room. Commencing from an algebra equation, we transitioned to matching opposites for the Seven Deadly Sins, flashcards with digital and analog clock readings, and identifying word and letter combinations to unlock lockers. Some of the puzzles were to be solved independently of the other team, though there were quite a few obstacles that involved sharing findings to unlock puzzles in the other room. Once all three lockers in the room were unlocked, the two rooms would be connected via the middle locker. At this point, pressing three buttons in unison would release us into a corridor to solve the final puzzle.
While we did not succeed in cracking the code before the timer was up, the group still managed to escape, admittedly reaching out for hints with greater frequency while counting down to the final ten minutes.
I'd declare my second foray into the world of escape rooms successful in shedding awareness on the vast spectrum of conceivable happenings. Escape The Room was undoubtedly more enjoyable than Captive by Yonge and Dundas, with decidedly friendlier staff too. Of course, the extreme discount was another factor for fondness. This verdict was also voiced to the more experienced half of our party, as it had reinstated faith in future escape room potential.
Menus could be accessed via a QR code on the table, allowing each guest to peruse the menu (in both English and Simplified Chinese) and place their order without ever needing to summon a server. Orders would be sent to the kitchen directly, however payment would not be due until the conclusion of the meal.
- Deep Fried Pumpkin Pancake w/ Red Bean Paste (5 pcs)
- Coconut Lava Balls (5 pcs)
- Braised Chicken with Noodle
- Original Rice Noodle Soup
- Signature Pork Rougamo (Add Coriander)
- Tomato Rice Noodle Soup w/ Beef Slices and Enoki Mushroom >
My Rougamo and Tomato Rice Noodle Soup duo had been ordered in poor judgement. The coarse, starchy texture of the Rougamo was exceptionally satiating, causing me to return it to its paper bag after a mere few bites. Aromatic bites of shredded pork were stuffed within it, then laced with parsley at an additional fee of sixty cents. The flaky, oil-based pastry of Bingz was undoubtedly superior to the centimetre-thick, floury casing, however the textured, well-seasoned filling left an impression on me.
The Tomato Rice Noodle Soup was of an extravagant portion. I barely made a dent in the bowl before waving the white flag. Tender beef shabu strips, sweet corn kernels, disintegrated tomato pieces, chewy enoki mushroom bunches, and stray sections of lettuce were submerged in an orange-tinted, presumably tomato-based broth. Foamy edges along the bowl were telltale signs of not skimming the foam, thus I avoided spooning the matter as much as possible. Generally speaking, the dish was quite palatable and of a reasonable size for $16.48. That said, the amount of MSG embedded within the opaque broth was not for the faint of heart. For the remainder of the night, I would attempt to reverse its dehydrating effects by downing water, only to see failure. Between the wee hours of morning into daylight hours, I continued to suffer from extreme dryness and a horrendously parched throat. Heed my warnings.
In the meantime, water bottles could be refilled at the bar and new games analyzed at a distance. Sightings of virtual golf on the games floor and PokéBalls in the Trophy Case were filed for reference: no longer were these elements exclusive to The Rec Room in Calgary and Playdium Brampton.
Following a much-needed discussion with the sleepy polar bear - amidst gusty, subzero conditions - I zipped home, eventually crawling into bed just short of 2 AM.