The Old Spaghetti Factory is one of those places that I associate with things like childhood family dinners, and church youth group outings. In my mind The Old Spaghetti Factory belongs with places like Bonanza and Ponderosa. They were a cut above the typical restaurant that we would visit. Although if we wanted to go real high-end it would be Sir John’s in our local Eaton’s.
*Located in the Johnston Terminal, Old Spaghetti Factory is accessible. I don’t know if there are accessible washrooms in the restaurant itself, but there are in the Johnston Terminal building.
The first location I remember visiting is the one in the Gastown area of Vancouver. That’s part of what made it special. Even though we only lived in Chilliwack, B.C. trips to Vancouver were only a couple of times a year.
One of the appeals of such places was the so-called extras that came with your meal. At Ponderosa and Bonanza it was the all you can eat salad bars. At place like the Old Spaghetti Factory the seemingly endless supply of bread and the spumoni ice cream for dessert were part of the appeal. Even if the entree portion was small you still left full, and felt that you were given a “proper” meal. Of course, we were being sold cheap extras, so we would want less of the expensive ingredients.
Old Spaghetti Factory Lunch
Last weekend was the August long weekend. That means that a lot of places are closed. The Forks, Winnipeg’s main tourist market is one of the few places that is open fully and completely. The temperature was also hot. One of things about the food court at The Forks is it gets quite warm. However The Old Spaghetti Factory, in The Johnson Terminal is well air-conditioned.
To get to the restaurant you walk down a bit of a hallway before you reach the hosting desk. The restaurant itself is quite cavernous. I’m not sure how many seats there are in the place, I would guess though that it is somewhere in the 200-250 patron range. The lighting is fairly on the dark side in the main dining room. On both visits over the weekend, I was placed in the sun room. Despite the heat this area was still shaded enough to be cool.
I didn’t take a picture of it, but the menu is printed in the form of a page of broadsheet. Among the dishes available there is a small lunch menu. This contains small portions of their main dishes. I decided to go with the lunch sized Lasagne and chose the Minestrone Soup to go with it.
The soup and the lasagne were both all right. Nothing about them in particular stands out. However, the portion size is decent on both of them and the flavours are pretty good. The bread is good and crusty. It’s also warm which makes it even more enjoyable.
When the holiday Monday rolled around I found myself at The Forks once again. In addition to being really hot, the food court was even fuller and the lineups longer. Not sure whether or not to grab a bus and try and find some other place. in the end I decided to walk over and visit The Old Spaghetti Factory again.
I ended up in the sun room again. This is because that’s where all the two-seater tables are. I actually had to wait a couple of minutes before I got seated. As I entered the restaurant I found this to be quite amusing because about half of the tables in the main area were empty. I know a restaurant likes to keep the four-seaters free, but it would require a mad stampede of customers to till the tables.
Having tired the Lasagne I went with one of their grilled dishes for supper. I went with the Roasted Garlic Grilled Chicken. The salad is essentially iceberg lettuce with a little bit of carrot for colour. Next time I would ask for the dressing on the side as the salad is drowned in dressing.
The chicken is the best dish that I ate over the weekend. There is a nice bit of crisp to the chicken breast. The garlic seasoning isn’t overdone. On the whole the chicken breast is quite moist and tender. The pasta is quite good. It came out al dente, and the tomato and pesto added a nice touch to the dish.
When it came time for the dessert I ordered the Spumoni ice cream. Looking back the fact that they served Spumoni for dessert was one of the early appeals of The Old Spaghetti Factory. At home, Neapolitan ice cream was the wildest choice that I every remember from my childhood.
The service at the restaurant is good. My servers came around to check on me during the meal, and made sure I had everything I needed. Both meals were served in good time. Especially the lunch special. It’s the kind of place that you can get in and out of in a hurry if you need to. On the other hand, there is no rushing while you enjoy your meal.
The food is on the average side. However, if you are at The Forks and looking to find a way to get out of the heat while you eat, The Old Spaghetti factory is a pretty good place to start.