Mary Brown’s Famous Chicken and Taters in Barrie

There are a number of things which I liked better from Mary Brown’s rather than the obvious KFC offerings.

It’s strange though; I definitely like Popeye’s chicken much better than KFC in more ways than one, but what kept me coming back to KFC over the years is the sheer number of locations and where they are located. With a location in the same parking lot as the Value Village, and No Frills on Wellington St in Barrie, Mary Brown’s should do fine, but it’s not the same as having a restaurant in the Georgian Mall or beside a Walmart.

seating

The restaurant itself was very pleasing to eat in. Everything was cleaned very well, and sometimes the staff was cleaning up the tables immediately after customers leaved. I guess if you go you can be sure there will be a spot for you and/or your group. As well as the high standard of cleanliness, the restaurant still had that typical “new chicken joint” feel to it. I do like getting in on the action before a fast food place turns into a worked in machine like most Tim Horton’s franchises in Barrie have become. Not to say it’s a bad thing but the newness is apparent still.

But, I’m going to say that for most customers, Mary Brown’s is going to be a takeout joint and it was apparent as we sat and waited for out orders. I can say that the lineup was surprisingly long at times, considering it was only 3PM on a Saturday. I guess I was surprised that people had already jumped on the Mary Brown’s bandwagon in just a few months of existence. After eating the food I realized why.

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A lot of times I go out specifically for taters and I can say the Mary Brown’s taters are easily the best I’ve had. They make their taters very crispy, with just the right type of salt and spice to them. Most places I’ve went to for taters, they were either kind of soggy or blandly spiced or over cooked so they tasted dry. This wasn’t the case at Mary Brown’s. The taters alone are worth returning for. About the fried chicken though, I can say it’s not quite as greasy as KFC or Popeye’s but has a wonderful seasoned flavour and succulence. I admit, it’s not the greatest food for your health but sometimes fried chicken just hits the spot.

Other things on the menu include: chicken sandwiches, wings, wraps, chicken fingers, pulled chicken sandwiches. All meal combinations come with either macaroni salad or coleslaw.

The price at Mary Brown’s was fair, and what I absolutely thought was a steal was the medium taters, which I specifically went back for after having a traditional chicken meal. The medium taters was quite large (chip stand sized) and only cost $6.00. But I have to say, for the quality of chicken, and because I’m used to the quality at KFC, the prices at Mary Brown’s are entirely reasonable, and worth switching for, if you live in Barrie.

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All in all, I’m glad I tried Mary Brown’s. I don’t often eat fried chicken but if I had the urge again, Mary Brown’s would be the best choice. However, because the taters were so good, and I get my groceries from that No Frills, I’ll probably pick up the taters while I’m there.

Written By: Michael Whone

Follow Michael Whone on Twitter @whoneranger

What’s Open and Closed in Barrie Easter Monday

Here’s a list of what services are open in Barrie, Orillia, Midland and Collingwood/Blue Mountain this Easter Monday.

Closed April 21st.:

  • Government services (schools, Canada Post, Service Ontario, etc.)
  • Barrie Library

Open April 21st.:

  • The LCBO / Beer Store will be open, some locations at shorter hours
  • Garbage collection on normal schedule, except for Orillia
  • Transit (GO, Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood) on regular schedule. No service in Midland.

In addition: There will be NO Barrie Transit Service on Good Friday, April 18th, 2014 OR Easter Sunday

Links:
www.lcbo.com
www.thebeerstore.ca
www.services.gov.on.ca (Service Ontario)
Collingwood (Colltrans)

Barrie’s Royal Thai Cuisine

royal-thai-table

The dishes were delightful, light and filling all at the same time. As well as having a pleasurable meal, I experienced dishes which I’m not usually accustomed to. The Ginger Beef dish had a mixture of light vegetables and plenty of juicy beef pieces. With the side of rice, either sticky or steamed, the dish was overall very filling and I was quite content to leave with leftovers. For the same price the Garlic Chicken had a mixture of snow peas and broccoli, and had a slightly sweeter garlic sauce which was also quite nice. By comparison, the sticky and steamed rice were equally good, and there were also some fried rice main courses to try.

Chicken-Skewers

Although the two main dishes I had a chance to try were not the most expensive on the menu, at $9.99 it seemed like a nice value on this dining experience. Some dishes were upwards of $14.00 if I remember correctly. I should also note that as an option, I could have had my dish either mild, medium or hot. The last time I went to a Thai restaurant, it was in hopes of finding the spiciest sauce ever. I’m sure if that’s what you were looking for, the hotter offerings might suit your fancy quite nicely. I’m sure you may even be able to get them to whip up something even spicier, but I could be wrong.

calamari

There were so many order possibilities to choose from at Royal Thai Cuisine. I was sort of surprised that there were a few curry dishes on the menu and I would have loved to try them too. But in terms of possible occasions, and for the typical downtown Barrie customer, a soup, order of spring rolls with a side of steamed rice would have been just plenty for a lunch order. The service was quick enough to whip that up on an hour lunch break.

Pad-Thai-Chicken

I have to say, it seriously put the restaurant in good favour when I tried the ice cream and fried bananas. It could have worked on its own as well as following a meal. Truly a simple dish to recreate at home, yet in the context of this light meal, it was perfection. I also liked the appetizers, as well as the light dipping sauces that accompanied them.

Garlic-Beef

The only downfall I could see to these types of offerings is that it may be difficult to attract small children. Other than that, the atmosphere was quaint, pleasing and attractive. It was mostly quiet with subtle Asian music playing. The Asian décor was to be expected, yet was completely tasteful and very much suitable for a fine dining experience. But with two large private dining areas, (one of which was secluded in a large bamboo hut design) this restaurant is the perfect attraction for a party. I’d love to go back there. It would have been a blast for 6-10 people.

I’d also like to have Royal Thai delivered sometime. The restaurant offers standard takeout orders for 2-4 people and the menu can be found on their website at www.royalthai.ca

-Written by: Michael Whone

View Royal Thai’s profile for hours and location

Follow Michael Whone on Twitter @whoneranger

Think About Drink; a review in three parts.

Cravings, Creative Space and Laurentian University Lecture Series:

When I think of community, I think of a cohesive whole, when I contemplate good food, I understand that using the best possible ingredients will create a meal that will excite the taste buds, satiate the physical hunger, satisfy the soul, and when this writers busy mind needs mental stimuli, I turn to intellectual ideas and great conversation.

What happens when all these wants and needs are met in one place? Well dear readers, magic happens.

This is a review about collaboration in its finest form.

Collaboration by definition is simply working jointly together. While effort and exemplary organizational skills may help with outcome, sometimes the bits all line up and things just work. Sylvia Hunt, Professor extraordinaire from Laurentian University explained to me that the Laurentian University Speakers Series came about as she conversed over coffee with her colleagues.

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This esteemed bunch, are an interesting group of passionate folks, or as Ms. Hunt refers to them as, “an interdisciplinary community”. Her “office is beside someone from History, next to a Sociologist, across the hall from someone in Political Science, around the corner from someone in Business, it makes for an eclectic atmosphere in which to work”.

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The educators share their enthusiasm for learning in the classrooms with the students, and with three post-secondary institutions in the Barrie area; Georgian College, Laurentian and Lakehead Universities, we have a plethora of educational options, a wide diversity of views and abundant opportunities. Ms. Hunt felt that this diversity would make an interesting format for a series of talks. Her colleagues agreed. Stepping out of the classrooms, they choose to share their talents and interests with the community by means of a themed series of lectures. The first of the series was held in the fall of 2013, entitled “Food for Thought”, the second theme, presently offered is “Think About Drink”.

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The Creative Space is the location, the ideal space, a perfect collaborative environment to bring together the speakers and the audience in our downtown core.

Chad Ballantyne created the co-working community that is The Creative Space, giving freelancers, startups and micro-businesses the opportunity to work and collaborate in an innovative, creative community focused space. It is a glorious space. By day filled with desks, the walls an ever changing myriad of local art work.

“The Morals” practice in the basement space, lending a melodic backdrop to evening events. With a committed community focus, the space is available for social agencies or charity groups at a reasonable rental rate. This is a feel good locale that walks the walk, be it for social or environmental responsibility, education and mentorship focus or historical and cultural leanings, all of which matter deeply and as such, are carved in their code of ethics.

It just feels good in this place, which I strongly suspect enhances the work done by those that call The Creative Space their workplace home.

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Enter Cravings; the final component to the lecture series, the piece de resistance, the edible factor. When Laurentian University approached Cravings to cater “Food for Thought”, suggesting that perhaps fruit and cheese plates with some coffee for a beverage would be hospitable offerings, Cravings Fine Food Market & Catering, well versed in events, knew they could make the comestibles far more interesting. They did this by working with the lecture series’ specific themes to develop a tasting menu that genuinely supported each evenings event.

As one who attended all the “Food for Thought“ lectures and now looks forward to the Wednesday nights of “Think About Drink”, I can attest that Cravings does their culinary research and treats us to an amazing array of nibbles, amuse bouche, mini mains, sweets and drinks.

Craving’s is Angela Pidutti and her partner in life and business, Craig Russel. Angela grew up in Sudbury and as such her affiliation to Laurentian University is far reaching. For Angela this is working with a piece of home.

Growing up, home was a family that knew real food, good food, a family of entrepreneurs who held full and busy lives, they found family time together sharing a meal.

Cravings reflects this in their philosophy. They understand that by providing real food alternatives to fast food, we can stop by and pick up side dishes or a full meal from their hot table or amply filled freezers to take home to share with our families.

Cravings event manager, Jennifer Allen, shares sentences with Angela Pidutti, an interview with them is a conversation in quotes. It is a joy to see how easily the ideas flow.

The focus is on providing very good food, be it at the store or any event they cater; catering is their specialty. The hot table is impressive; stocked daily with an amazing selection of lunch and dinner items, sides, and mains, fabulous panini sandwiches and the best salmon salad I have ever had.

In store they also sell products from local suppliers which complement their items. The sweet potato and taro chips are a favorite of mine.

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Collaboration, like a great sandwich, the crusty panini bread cradles the flavours, the tender onions complement the shaved rare roast beef, the savory condiments lend tang, it satisfies, it all works. Shared values, commitment to social good, bringing together their best to our community, as Jennifer Allen said when speaking about the collaboration with The Creative Space and Laurentian Lecture series, “you would pick them as a partner in gym class, you just know you would play well together”. This sense of camaraderie, of team spirit, has arrived in our downtown core on Wednesday nights, get thee to Dunlop Street and share in the spirit.

Collaborate together.

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Laurentian Lecture Series takes place 7-8 pm Wednesday evenings April 2, 9, 16, 2014

The Creative Space 12 Dunlop Street East, Barrie 705-812-0689

www.thecreativespace.ca @acreativespace

Cravings Fine Food Market & Catering131 Commerce Park Drive, Unit A, Barrie ON L4N 8X1

www.cravingsfinefood.ca
info@cravingsfinefood.ca
705-734-2272
@CravingsCaters

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow