Restaurant: Rideau Carleton Raceway Dining Room
Location: 4837 Albion Road, Ottawa, ON
Cuisine: American/ Buffet
Price: $10 -15
I was really excited to go to the raceway because the last time I’d been to horse races was in Hong Kong. It was a great experience learning how to bet on horses with my co-workers, but the food was not as fabulous as I’d hoped. I’ve been to a few Casino-Buffets but this one would definitely be the “bottom of the barrel”.
We were welcomed by our reserved table for 10. They used flyers as place mats, and had a very “American diner” table setting. I guess I didn’t expect anything too fancy. Besides my first impression on the decor, I was really surprised about the prompt and attentive service.
We were sat down right away and were served glasses of water.
It would be a crime not to have a drink at the racetrack (LOL)! They didn’t have any of my usual cocktails, so I ordered Cosmopolitan. The drink was really not to my liking (this is definitely an acquired taste), but then it did come quite quickly.
Excited to hit the Buffet line, I was pretty disappointed to find the lack of selection. Not to mention, there is a fine line between buffet and cafeteria. This was definitely leaning more towards cafeteria in terms of presentation and items available. They had a weak variety of hot foods; I believe penne, fried rice, fries, chicken pieces, fish, meatballs, and ribs were pretty much it! They did have a line up for roast beef and ham, but both were quite dry and the watery gravy was more upsetting than helpful.
In my first round I tried to same things that were at least of some interest to me. The cold shrimp was really gross! You know how sometimes an apple has a grainy/mushy texture? Well that would be the equivalent of the shrimp;needless to say, NOT FRESH! The fish wasn’t soft and flaky at all; it was really bland and only of clumped together by the clear sauces.
I actually lined up awhile for the ham so I thought it would be something to look forward to. It was average at most, a bit on the dry side but it had a bit of a smokey flavor around the crust which made it decent.
Although if you wanted to make the buffet worth while I’d say you could fill up on the ribs all night. They weren’t tender or juicy, but they weren’t terrible. The sauces really soaked into the meat (possibly because of the length of time they sit)and for the most part the meat came off the bone with a bit of tugging. The ribs at Barley Mow Pub were actually better than these, but this definitely had the better sauce. Plus, for $9.99, this was by far the better deal;).
For my second round of savory items, my plate resembled a dish from Ikea. Sadly the meatballs were not nearly as delicious as the Swedish meatballs at Ikea. Further disappointing me was that I couldn’t find any cranberry sauce or ketchup in sight. While the chicken was dry and poorly cooked. Even the plum sauce couldn’t help the freezer burn flavor of the breaded batter. The only decent thing on the plate was the french fries, which were very light and crispy (they actually tasted exactly the same as Ikea fries!).
I think I could have eaten more savories before plunging into the desserts, but I was just completely uninterested in anymore frozen goods or cold salad additions.
My first stop was the ice cream line up which started with a tray of apple crisp (I LOVE apple crisp!). When I got to the front of the line, they offered me the generic chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla ice cream. To compliment my apple crisp, I of course when with vanilla. You could also choose different sauces like strawberry or caramel, but I passed on the liquid sugars!
I ended up adding an extra piece of brownie to my Ice Cream-Apple Crisp combo. The apples in the apple crisp were soft and not too sweet, but the oats seems kind of stale and mushy (no crisp in the apple crisp:( ). Can’t really comment about the vanilla ice cream, but I thought the brownie was the best out of all the desserts I ate that night. It wasn’t an overwhelming chocolate taste, but it was moist and had a subtle sweetness.
Besides the ice cream line, there was a section just for desserts. The display of sweet confections was sort of unappealing to me, but I did find random items that I’d like to try.
From the entire dessert section I found 3 items that interested me. Unfortunately, only one of these were even border line acceptable. The Chocolate Tort was horrible! It tasted like red bean paste for some reason with a unappetizing dense texture. While the nanaimo bar-looking dessert I can’t even describe because I took one bite and just stopped. My last hope for satisfaction was the lemon tart, which seemed to be decent in comparison to the others. The filling was more sour than sweet, which I prefer and the store-bought tart shell was a surprisingly crisp.
I really doubt I will have another chance to visit the raceway again, but I’m glad I came once to experience the horse races. I think if you’re visiting the raceway for the experience, it’s certainly worth your time. However, don’t go with high expectations for the food or else you will be utterly disappointed. I’ll say one thing, for $9.99 it’s better than another fast food meal!