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Review: Pomegranate

Kasumeat | Aug 4, 2007 09:45 AM

This small bistro is situated on Queen East near the east end, just a few blocks west of Neville Park. I'd heard good things about the place, so my dad and I dropped in for a Friday dinner around 7:30. The place was nearly empty and didn't have AC, although it was tolerable inside, especially considering the proximity to their open kitchen.

The menu is fairly small, five apps, a few sandwiches, four pastas, and four mains, including specials. Apps range $5-9, pastas $10-13, mains $13-20. We ordered a very interesting-sounding watercress fennel salad, but they were out. We instead opted to split the special salad, baby spinach with avocado and mango, which was definitely big enough to be split. We both went for the grilled chicken breast with artichokes and okra (and maybe something else, I don't recall).

Bread (actually toasts brushed with garlic-butter) didn't arrive for quite some time, not until our salad did. I would have liked to have had some beforehand, as I was very hungry, and the place had only one other table. The toasts were pretty tasty, although a bit too dry and crusty for my tastes, despite the butter. The salad was was simple and fresh, and a good start.

Our mains arrived a fair length of time after we'd finished the salad. The diminuative grilled chicken breast was very pretty, with sawbuck-pattern grill marks, but totally lacking in flavour. Any seasoning besides was undetectable, and it was overdone. If you're going to serve a chicken breast cooked over dry heat without a sauce, you had damned well better cook it perfectly. Apparently "artichokes and okra" actually means pan-fried broccoli, cauliflower, boiling potatoes, and undercooked baby carrots. No explanation whatsoever from our server. I complained to her about the tasteless overcooked chicken breast and misplaced vegetables. She explained that they had run out of the artichokes and okra, and the kitchen hadn't told her. That would have been nice to know when we ordered, but at the very least she could have explained when she brought out our food. The chef came around to speak to us, and was quite apologetic. He offered us something else, but we didn't really have the time to wait. He was insistant that we not leave unhappy, so he offered to whip up a simple sauce for the chicken, which we accepted. It wasn't bad considering how quickly he did cooked it, but the pungency of the garlic and sharpness of the tomatoes simply didn't have time to mellow.

They removed the mains from the bill, which I was quite happy about, because a lot of restaurants would not do that these days. Curiously, at $9, the salad was more expensive than any of the other apps, including the proteins, but I can't really complain considering that it was good and big enough to share. I'm not sure if there were any desserts, we left quickly.

The staff looked as if this wasn't the first time there had been complaints. The chef seemed genuinely upset about our meal. I really hate to see small restaurants fail to succeed, but I don't like Pomegranate's odds if our experience is a typical one.

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