from mediocre, to bad, to worst

My young children have been pleading to visit Canad Inn’s l’Bistro and the arcade for several months. So we planned the day to be a late afternoon and evening filled with family activities, ending the night in treating our children to Canad Inn’s l’Bistro.

A lukewarm greeting was given at the hostess table, however we were seated immediately. How times have changed, once a very busy place which we would be waiting to be seated has now turned to a very quiet & minimal guest count.  l’Bistro was a favorite spot of mine, whether the visit was for the meal, or out for drinks. I could just flat out rely on great service and great food. So I was a bit surprised at how deserted the place was. The decor is very beautiful and charming. On this particular visit the atmosphere was very quiet, no music, no chatter, nothing. And it was their Wine Night, so I expected quite the opposite.

When we were seated, the menus were placed on the table. There was no question if we needed drinks, nor an offer to bring water out. There wasn’t the review of specials and recommendations of which I was once accustomed to. We sat at the table for approximately 10-15 minutes before our waitress came to our table. Who I could plainly see was a little busy with most of the tables at the restaurant. At the time of her arrival to our table, we were not only ready to place drink orders, but our dinner order as well. We had fairly simple requests, my husband and I decided to share a plate, I opted out of a drink, preferring only water, so the waitress was only really waiting on three people, versus four.  We also ordered an appetizer as an extra treat for the family.

With the quiet lull of the restaurant, our eager children wanted something to do. They went to the Hostess, asked if she had activities, and quickly gave our children coloring pages and crayons. She was very kind and happy to have activity happening at her station. The girls returned happily to our table and stayed busy.

We received water after we placed our orders, shortly after, two of the three drink orders appeared. The third drink was a strawberry shake ordered by our youngest. This was one of the reasons I would take my children to visit the restaurant over the years, but an incident about 18 months ago, when we over heard an angry bartender complain about making milkshakes, we stopped visiting frequently.  We did vocalize our disappointment, but the staff didn’t seem to care one way or another that a fellow staff person was swearing loudly within earshot of the customers he was complaining about. But with time, we are out to move on, hopefully. Yet, where is this milkshake that we ordered?

Remember that appetizer we ordered? Never came. I wasn’t interested in pointing out that we didn’t get our appetizer. Perhaps giving our drinks and meals at one time was far too overwhelming for her? (Which I don’t see the harm in having an order pad if its needed. Yes, it is impressive if you can remember all requests… but the important word is remember.) Again, I did notice she had several tables in this quiet restaurant… The other waiter was walking back and forth, perhaps he was busy doing something else.

Twenty minutes or so later, our meals arrived. The hot dog that came with fries and a side of shredded cheese for the oldest daughter came. I wondered why shredded cheese, what purpose does this have? If we’re wanting cheese on the hot dog, something that would adhere to it certainly would make better sense. If the cheese is a side dish, then a wedge of cheese also makes better sense than the shredded cheese.  The youngest had ordered her quesadilla and fries, which was not accompanied by the salsa you’d normally get. Then again, things just don’t want to make sense at this point for our experience. My husband and I decided to share off the Seasonal Menu, which was a Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Pizza, which boasted of the variety of mushrooms. It sounded great.  Wait a second, didn’t the youngest order a milkshake?  Oh yes, that came as the food was being served. I’m wondering if they had to go buy ice cream at the store, it was far from busy at the restaurant and bar, it didn’t make sense at all either to take as long as it did.

The girls were quite happy with their entrees, though the oldest did struggle trying to get the cheese to stick on her hot dog.  We made it a waiting game… Sprinkle the cheese on and hope the heat from the hot dog would melt the cheese.

I was eager to try out this pizza that looked rather tasty, despite obviously there was only one type of mushroom on it. As I bit into the pizza, I took a huge bite into RAW onions, which were cleverly hidden beneath the cheese.  It didn’t bother me that the onions were clearly chopped white onions used from making dishes such as omelets, what bothered me is that they advertised sweet onions that are sauteed. Being that eating out is a treat for me these days, as I’m trying to watch the waistline, the pizza was certainly a splurge. We continued on eating the pizza, figuring we can endure it. Eventually I flipped open the pizza to scrape out the onions. We did bring the issue to the attention to the waitress. She was going to offer a solution, but at this time that we spent there, it was getting rather late. So we said it is fine, however they need to be thorough with cooking what the menu description says. And as I grumbled about the onions, my daughter mentions, “if they’re going to sell something, sell it right.” Learning from her mother I suppose. It made me chuckle.  A note to one’s self: maybe we should stop being sold on anything involving Mushrooms.

We finished our dinners and came to choose check or dessert. Our daughters were promised dessert. Eagerly one ordered the Chocolate Lava Volcano cake which sounds fun for anyone, especially a 7 year old. The other ordered a Strawberry Sundae to go with her Strawberry Milkshake.  This time, we didn’t wait too long for the food. Good job, Progress!  The chocolate cake was apparently the best thing in this world according to my daughter. Chocolaty, warm and gooey. Great. The sundae looked like it was served in a bowl that probably could hold 1 quart of ice cream. Unfortunately the ice cream was freezer burnt, or had the taste of. So we return to the cake in the middle of our table. As I dig my fork in, there’s not only chocolate holding on, but a hair. Absolutely disgusting. Although, mistakes like this can and often does happen.

We had our check before the dessert was served, so as we are about to leave and pay for the food, the waitress came by. We mentioned the hair. She said, “that’s funny, no one has hair back in the kitchen.”  Well we certainly didn’t put it there. The cake was in the middle of the table, all three of us with long hair had pony tails on. This hair also was darker brown, and a bit curly. Much like the waitresses hair.  Again, I’m sure its a complete accident, but still disgusting.

We paid, and left the restaurant. Before my husband left, they did take off the cost of the dessert, and offered him a free appetizer at his next visit. Which is a very nice gesture, doesn’t fix the current experience though. However it clearly is the first restaurant willing to correct an incident since I’ve began this blog.

Will I come here again? I don’t know, it seems as if it hasn’t been able to go back to its original standards when it first opened. Then again this is Grand Forks, we don’t have many places to choose from. Do I recommend it? Perhaps, just don’t have high expectations.

The decor an A. The atmosphere was a snooze, C-. The service was a B. The food definitely a C-.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cookathome on March 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    You sound like a bitter person that that thinks their shit doesn’t stink. Maybe you should just cook at home do servers in Grand Forks a favor. NEWS FLASH there are only like 7 places to eat in this town so good like keeping the readers of your blog captivated. And if you have such a sophisticated pallet maybe you should do something about it and open a place. HOW PUMPED ARE YOU FOR OLIVE GARDEN!!! I hear that’s suppose to be super sweet.


    • Posted by Lady in the Red Shoes on March 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

      Do you mean “good luck”? Not good like? Right?

      Many people are excited for Olive Garden, no question it will do well. They listen to their customers.


    • Posted by Adam on September 14, 2012 at 8:36 pm

      Wow, big man/woman (Cookathome) yelling at a food blogger. Next time use your name so we can really see who the bitter person is. Lady in Red Shoes, you do a very good job reviewing these websites. Please continue too.

      P.S. I will never return to the l’Bistro after a similar experience to what you had.

      P.P.S. Pallet is made of wood. Palate is probably what you were referring to.


  2. Posted by ctg on March 23, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    that’s really too bad your experience was soooooooooo awful. they’ve had lots of different managers from what i’ve heard. when it first opened we weren’t impressed and then back in 07-08 they were doing great, apparently now they suck. we won’t be going anytime soon! you should print out your reviews and mail them to the businesses!


  3. […] Submitted on 2011/03/23 at 10:57 pm […]


  4. Posted by Brenda Jo Gillund on March 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    I find your blog refreshing! Honest, constructive, and I love the new grading scale. Has anyone compared you to Marilyn Hagerty yet? 🙂


  5. Posted by J K on March 27, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Just discovered your blog … found myself agreeing exactly with this entry. We don’t eat out much for suppers in GF (maybe 4 times per year) and we used to really like ‘l Bistro and found it to be good service and good food. But then we went this past fall and had a horrific experience … slow service, non friendly, wrong food brought out, then the food was wrongly cooked, bill totaled up wrong at the end, and the list goes on. We haven’t been back since that very disappointing visit and often wondered if the place had gone downhill or if it was just our bad luck that night. Now I know!


  6. Posted by CB on March 28, 2011 at 8:46 am

    We go to l’bistro a couple times a year. For one reason or another it has become one of our usual places for a girl’s night out. I don’t like it though. I don’t think the food is good. I don’t like the drinks or desserts, and I think the service is pretty bad on most nights. Hopefully they can turn it around at some point.


  7. Posted by Stephanie Ann on March 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    The service really is terrible at ‘l Bistro. I think there are a few dishes worth the torture for, especially when they are on special for 50% off. I also love the buy one get one martini night. The key lime martini is delish! I think that they just keep hiring inexperienced hosts and servers and they’re more interested in talking among themselves than serving their customers which is unfortunate.


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