Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wingsanity @ St. Louis Bar & Grill

My friends and I went to St. Louis Bar & Grill on Saturday. They had their annual Wingsanity deal - All-you-can-eat wings for $19.99 (with the order of a large beverage). This year we were at their at Fairview Mall location. Last year we went to the one at Scarborough Town Centre.

I have to say this location wasn't very big. I was a bit surprised at that. We made reservations for 6:30 so we didn't have to wait (though the line at the time wasn't very long).

I'm not the biggest fan of wings I must admit. But, I am a true fan of anything all-you-can-eat. And I like beer to boot, so this suited me fine.

The rules are you have to order 1-1/2 pounds of wings with fries on the side first. They include the fries to fill you up of course. After that the next order is 1 pound and each successive one is 1/2 a pound, all sans fries.

For our first round we got Lemon Pepper, Honey Garlic and Hot Sweet Asian. Our second was Caribbean Jerk, Frank's Red Hot Dry Rub and Medium Dry... and that was it. We averaged 2-1/2 pounds each. I believe I ate closer to 3 pounds though. I sampled my friends' wings more than they sampled mine.

After dinner we went to the nearby Timmies to hang out and chat more. A good evening out.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kennedy Bowl

Our church group tried a new bowling alley this past Sunday, Kennedy Bowl. It's located in the mall on the northwest corner of Lawrence Avenue East and Kennedy Road. The previous four or five times we had gone to Club 300 on Old Kennedy Road, north of Steeles.

Sid discovered this place while shopping for bowling shoes and a ball. When Willy and I went to buy shoes there we noticed a sign promoting $2.00 games (tax included) on Sunday afternoons after 4:30 p.m.. This was a lot cheaper than the $39.00 per 1-1/2 hours at Club 300.

Kam and Ray and his son, Steven came this time. As well, Willy drove Glenda and I. Sid came on his own. Hilkka was supposed to come, but we didn't see her. Ray bought $60 (plus tax) shoes. So now four of us have the exact same shoes.

The new alley is fine. It's not as big and open as Club 300. Instead of 50-60 lanes there are only 32. I don't think there are as many balls to choose from either. But, since we're not rushing to get as many games in in 1-1/2 hours we take our time and wait for our chosen balls to return after each shot.

As well, the automatic scoreboard wasn't always accurate. On a number of occasions people got spares, but the computer didn't register it. So we had to manually correct the error. Oh well. After awhile we were pretty adept at making the change. For only $2.00 a game it was something we were willing to deal with.

Even though we've gone a few times already no one is anywhere near consistent. Sometimes we might get a few spares or a couple of strikes in a row only to toss the ball into the gutter or only knock 2 or 3 pins down the next couple of shots. Not sure why. I guess we just need more practice. It'll come.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Good Riddance, Winter!

Spring arrived on Friday. I can say, it was long overdue. Winter in Toronto was brutal. We set an odius local record with the coldest February in recorded history.

The overall average temperature was -12.6C! The daytime high never breached freezing (for the first time ever). On its best day the temperature stalled at -1.4C. At its worst it was -25.5C with a wind chill that neared a bone chilling -40C. It seemed like it would never end.

Working outside wasn't fun. Day after day I had to wear layer upon layer of clothing just to keep from turning into a human popsicle.

Thankfully we didn't receive too much snow. I only remember a few days where driving was treacherous. That's one thing we couldn't complain about.

The same couldn't be said for the Maritime provinces (and even parts of the northeastern U.S.). Instead of record cold, they were buried under record amounts of snow. Metres and metres worth. It was an incredible sight to see.

Even until the middle of March it was piling up. They received about 40 cm of snow last weekend with more predicted in the forecast. Mon dieu.

Hopefully the worst is behind us. That's all we can wish for. Mother Nature, give us a break!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sushi & Bento on Dundas/University

Yes, I went to All-You-Can-Eat sushi. Again. It's becoming quite the habit I know.

This time I went to Sushi & Bento on Dundas, east of University with one of my friends. She has a condo nearby and I had gone there the previous weekend to take some pictures because she wants to sell her unit. I came by to drop the pictures off and we went to dinner.

This was the first time either of us had been there. It's a somewhat small restaurant with a simple-looking interior. Nothing fancy by anyone's standards.

What drew us inside was the sign outside that advertised AYCE sushi (including sashimi) for $19.99. That's a decent price for what they were offering (considering some of the other places I've frequented ran from $24.95-$25.95 for dinner).

Their selection was fine. They had a reasonable selection of items. The fish tasted fresh. The service was all right.

I have to say the nigiri had quite a bit of rice. The dragon rolls were larger than I've seen too. Most places serve them cut into 6-8 pieces. Some of the ones here were cut into 10-pieces. Though I should mention they were thinly sliced. The nigiri with too much rice could be easily offset by ordering sashimi and combining the two if you wanted. Or if you don't care for the rice at all, you could just order the sashimi on its own.

There were only four items listed under dessert - green tea ice cream, vanilla ice cream, deep fried banana and mango yogurt. But, for the price I wouldn't consider it a big deal. Just fill up on fish and you can't go wrong.

I'll be back.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Smurfs Rock Floor Hockey

First it was volleyball, now floor hockey. Our Cornerstone Church Sports Night team, The Smurfs, have prevailed once again.

Cornerstone Church has been running a winter sports league for many years. Traditionally we play three sports - volleyball, floor hockey and our version of European handball. For variety we might throw in a night of dodge ball or basketball or soccer now and then.

Originally we started with three teams in the league. Two teams would play first while one rested and then we would rotate. Later on we switched to a high school with a double gym. This allowed us to expand to six teams which was great.

In the fall the captains gather at one of the organizer's homes to pick teams. The games begin shortly after. We usually play each sport 7 or 8 weeks.

The first one we played this year was volleyball. It totally makes sense because none of the teams has their shirts yet (they're on order). For volleyball each team is on opposite sides of the court, so it doesn't matter what colour shirt you have. You automatically know who's on your team.

After six or seven weeks our team, The Smurfs, languished in 4th place. In the playoffs none of that mattered though. Everyone was given a fresh start.

We were put in a round robin group with the 1st and 6th place teams, while the 2nd, 3rd and 5th place teams were in the other. After playing both teams in your bracket the first place team in Group A would play the second place team in Group B and vice versa. The winners of those games would meet in the finals.

Well, wouldn't you know it, but our team actually won the whole thing. I guess anything can happen on any given night. As long as you're consistent and, perhaps, have a bit of luck on your side you always have a chance.

Floor hockey was a different story. Like last year, our team was pretty dominant from the start. Though we didn't win as many games as we did last year when we went undefeated in the regular season, we still went undefeated until the second last game this year. Along with that singular loss we had a fair number of ties to go with our wins.

Like last year we put a girl in goal. Last year it was Frida, this year Ellen. That allowed us to have an extra guy out. We were counting on our offence to win games and, generally, it worked.

This round we were the top seed going into the finals. But, as I stated before, anything can happen. We learned that the hard way in the second last game when the then last place team beat us. So we knew we couldn't take anything for granted.

Also, our goalie, Ellen, had a sore hand so she couldn't play net. We substituted our stalwart backup, Dan, for her. But, that would mean one less guy playing out. We would have two guys and two girls playing out instead of three guys and one girl. Defensively we would be stronger, but our offence would take a hit.

The set up was the same as in the volleyball playoffs. Group A would be the 1st, 4th and 6th place teams and Group B the 2nd, 3rd and 5th place teams.

All the games were very close. We won both ours, but by only one goal each. The other teams were even closer. Many of their games ended in ties and had to go to a shootout.

Through each round we kept winning avoiding having to go to a shootout until the finals. I believe we tied 0-0. This is when having a guy in net made all the difference.

The same thing happened to us last year. We won all our games until we reached the finals which we ended up tying. Having a girl in net versus a guy at the other end was the difference maker. We lost the shootout and, therefore, the finals. That's the one thing I was quite concerned about this time too.

The shootout was really close. Each team picked three shooters (two guys and a girl). Our first three shooters failed to score. But, none of their first three shooters were able to score either.

But, then it was Ken's turn. He's quite a good player on the Monday Blues team. He ran up and deked around Dan and put the ball in the back of the net. Victory looked certain for them.

Now Derek, from our team, was under the gun. The weight of the world was on his shoulders. If he didn't score we would end up losing in the finals for the second year in a row. Well, guess what?... he scored extended the shootout further.

The next few players from both teams couldn't put the ball past either goalie. It was getting really tense. There were only two guys left on our team who hadn't taken a penalty shot yet, Mike and Curran. I chose Curran to go next, but he didn't want to go. I made him go anyway and it paid off. He ended up scoring and we won the game!

It was too close for comfort, but we were all happy about the results. We'll have a week off for March Break before returning for our final sport of European handball.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mizuki Sushi

My friends and I went to a new AYCE sushi restaurant at Don Mills and Finch called Mizuki Sushi. I heard about it from my mother who went there with a friend.

It's a nice looking place on the inside. The outside seems a bit tacky with all the grand opening signs pasted all over the storefront. I suppose they'll get rid of them soon enough.

The food was tasty. Quite fresh I thought. Though the lunchtime selection is only so-so. They have the usual variety of nigiri and other items, but not as many rolls as one might expect.

The service was okay. Nothing to write home about. If it's busy the servers may take longer than normal to get to you. But, that's not uncommon for most of these types of restaurants.

The price is on the higher end of the AYCE scale. Fri-Sun/Hol lunch is $15.95. Fri-Sun/Hol dinner is $25.95.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Amaya - The Indian Room

My friends and I had dinner at Amaya - The Indian Room on Bayview, south of Eglinton on Saturday. One of them had a Groupon voucher for the place.

It's not too far from where I live. I was going to walk, but one of my friends picked me up on her way down.

Even in the dead of winter it's a busy restaurant. Especially on a Saturday. We tried to make reservations for 7:00, but were pushed back to 8:30. We actually didn't get seated until closer to 9:00.

It's fairly nice looking inside. The north wall is covered with unfinished planks of dark wood. It gives it a rustic look which contrast the modern fixtures.

We ordered Laal Maas - spicy, spring lamb curry with tomato and onions, $17; Organic Chicken in British-style tikka masala, $19; Chicken Biryani a mixed rice dish made with spices, rice and chicken; and Saag Paneer - spinach, mustard and shishito peppers with paneer, $12; with a basket of Naan, $9. The food was delicious.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Just Bowling

Willy's the man behind our bowling outings. For the past few months we've been going to Club 300 up in Markham to bowl every 4 to 6 weeks. Usually he manages to round up 5 or 6 guys. From pastor Tom to Winston Ling and everyone in between.

We've probably gone four or five times now. It's becoming a regular event. Most of us are beginners. Though, Tom, actually took bowling in college when he was back in Illinois. I guess they offer it in school in the U.S. Not so much here. He even has his own ball and shoes.

I don't know if that's what gave us the idea of getting our own shoes or not. Either that or we just worked the math out in our heads... if we were going to continue going this many times and we rented for $3.50 each time, how many times would we need to go before we could actually buy our own shoes?

Sid and Willy looked into buying shoes first. Sid found a couple of places in Mississauga. One was selling shoes for $40 a pair. I think I saw their website too. A couple of days later he told me he found a place in Scarborough at Lawrence and Kennedy. The store was in a bowling alley on the lower level of a strip mall. After talking with the owner a bit he bought a used ball and a pair of shoes.

Before our next bowling event Willy and I went there too. It was Sunday afternoon and we were actually on our way up to Club 300. We scoped out the alley and saw that they had a Sunday afternoon special - after 4:30 p.m. you could bowl for $2 a game. Wow... cheap!

We walked into the small store which was located right by the stairs where you enter. The owner remembered, Sid (who had yet to pick up his re-drilled ball with new custom-fit holes). We talked to him and he told us about bowling balls. Instead of buying a cheap new ball, he recommended getting a good used one for about the same price. It spins better he told us.

He also told us that heavier balls were better. We told him we liked using 10 or 11 pound balls. He said that's what the ladies used. Guys were supposed to use balls that were at least 14 pounds or more. Oh well. I guess I'm going to be bowling like a girl now.

We told him we were interested in getting shoes too. He showed us his cheapest pair at $60 before tax. They were the same ones Sid bought. We tried them on. They felt fine to me. I had no idea what they were supposed to feel like. We bought them.

We took them up to Club 300 where we immediately put them through their paces. Our first game wasn't very good. All five of us (Ray, Steve Chong, Sid, Willy and I) barely scored over 100. We took turns bowling for Tom who came late. He actually ended up with one of the top scores of that game due to our collective bowling prowess.

Our second game was slightly better. I improved the most bowling 152 if I remember correctly. Ray gave me a bit of advice about trying to hit the head pin on a slight angle. Ideally you would do it by spinning the ball. Since none of us could do that I stepped to the right a bit and tried to hit it from the side that way. It seemed to work. I got a number of strikes and spares that game.

19 more times... that's how many outings we have to go before we get our money back on our shoes. See you at the alley!