Reviews and Such Restaurants

Pony Corral – Downtown

Prior to it’s being remodeled just after the Jets arrived back in town, the Pony Corral location on St. Mary Avenue was a place I visited with relative frequency. I’ve only been once in the time since, but decided recently that I would give it another try.

Pony Corral Cream of Celery Soup
Pony Corral serves up a fine bowl of cream of celery soup.

One of the things that struck me a couple of years back was the quality of the interior redesign. The dark browns of the booth in the bar seem to offset well the lights from all the of the TVs. At the same time the dining room, while open still allows for a feeling of intimacy.

Before the remodel my main meal at The Pony Corral was breakfast. I always enjoyed the choices and the large portions. This time around, I went for supper meals on both of my visits.

Pony Corral Pre-Super Bowl

My first visit to Pony Corral was late afternoon Super Bowl Sunday. It was still a couple of hours or so before kick-off and so the restaurant was essentially empty. I ended up being seated in the bar with plenty of televisions to watch the talking heads pontificate.

A cup of coffee at the Pony COrral.
A cup of coffee to go with my meal.

I was looking for a light meal, and so I went with a bowl of the soup of the day and the Reuben Sandwich Platter. The soup of the day was excellent. A light cream of celery, with a large number of carrots.
Now when it comes to a light meal, the first thing to know about Pony Corral, there is no such thing as a light meal. The Reuben was stuffed with Corned Beef, Sauerkraut and Cheese. There was an enormous pile of fries, which had been cooked to golden brown and crispy. There was also a side bowl of Cole Slaw, which was the one disappointment and it was bland with no seasoning in the dressing.

Pony Corral Reuben
The Reuben Platter at Pony Corral makes for a hefty meal choice.

The food at this meal was really good, but the service left me questioning if I would return. Here follows a rant:

Dear Server:  I am not your darling, honey or hon, especially on my first visit. Yes, over time a good relationship can develop between server and customer, but first and foremost I am a customer. I don’t feel any more appreciated because of pet names or references. In fact I find it rather patronizing and condescending. I try and tip reasonably well, but such an attitude will not make me tip better. In fact. such behaviour is one reason why I might not leave any tip. I’m not looking to make life long friends, although in a few cases I have. I just want service where my order is taken promptly, my coffee is filled regularly, and common courtesy shown.

With that out of the way, I should also say, that just like I try to give a restaurant a second chance if the food isn’t up to my expectation the same goes with service. Fortunately on my second visit my server did all the things that I hope for. This was particularly good since on my second visit I went with the all you can eat riblets special. I know that such specials are not high on servers lists of customer interactions. However, my server was friendly, efficient, solicitous, and all without imposing a false sense of closeness.

Riblets, I cut the coleslaw out of this picture.

As for the riblets, I really enjoyed that they were covered in plenty of BBQ sauce.The meat slid nicely off the bone.  I also appreciated the amount of meat on each of the pieces. The original portion came with three riblets and I ordered two more. I probably could have stuffed in a couple more beyond that, but I still felt that I had got good value for the riblets deal.

Fort Garry Dark.
A local beer to go along with my riblets.

The fries with this dish were a little on the overcooked side, but the garlic toast was quite nice. Again the Cole Slaw was still quite flavourless. One other note about the service. I appreciated that I got an adequate number of wet naps to clean my fingers and mouth after eating the riblets.
I would definitely go back to Pony Corral, but hope I get a server like on my second visit rather than on my first.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.