Restaurants Reviews and Such

Special at Garbonzo’s Goes Beyond Food

The Garbonzo’s that I reviewed in this post has now closed, so I’ll have to look elsewhere for something special. The University of Winnipeg is looking for more classroom space. Both the Garbonzo’s and the Starbucks in the University Annex have closed as of the beginning of May.

Last night I decided to take in the Jet’s game while visiting the U of W location of Garbonzo’s. Since I wrote the original post I’ve also been here during one of the Downtown Biz’s tours. As always on these posts, new material is in bold.

My original plan to watch the Jet’s game was to join the crowd on Donald Street by Holy Trinity. However, when I got there I was carrying a large bag, with a bunch of books and other things in it, and although none of them were harmful(other than the books which might expand the mind, an always dangerous activity), I didn’t feel like hanging around to have security go through them before I entered the fan area. Plus, although I understand the thinking behind it, police with sub-machine guns, don’t particularly make me feel more secure. 
So, I just decided to start walking home. As I was walking in that direction I cut through the U of W AnX, and noticed that Garbonzo’s was offering orders of wings for $5.49 and craft beer at $1.00 off. I went, figuring that I would watch a period or so of hockey and maybe enjoy a couple of orders of wings.

Actual ale available at Garbonzo's. Blueberry is my favourite flavour, so that made this ale special.
The blueberry ale from Pumphouse. I enjoyed the fact that there was a natural blueberry flavour to it, that didn’t overwhelm the actual ale.

Over the past few months I’ve had a few chances to drop in on the Garbonzo’s pizza pub at the U of W Annex.  I like it because you can often find good deals  and while it can be quite busy at times, there are also times when it’s easy to get a chair and watch a football game on the big screens.
I entered the restaurant just before the game was started. The sign said seat yourself, and there was a nice two-seater table just inside the entrance that gave a great view of one of the screens.  I asked about the specials, and was given both a food and beer menu. Looking over the menu I chose an order of spicy sweet ginger wings and a Blueberry Ale from Pumphouse Brewery.
The Blueberry Ale was quite pleasant. The blueberry flavour wasn’t overly strong, but had the quality of real blueberries. The wings were really good. I ended up trying three varieties and this one was my favourite.

Garbonzo ginger wings.
The spicy sweet ginger wings. They were spicy, sweet, and gingery. All three qualities being held in a good balance. The sauce was the type that I could eat by the bowlful.

I found there was quite a good level of spiciness to these wings. Based on that I decided to give the Five Alarm Wings a try. These also were very good. When I asked for the spiciest wings, my server asked whether or not I meant these of the Frank’s. I meant these, because while Frank’s delivers heat I find the taste awful. These wings did not disappoint in either heat of flavour.

Garbonzo's hot wings.The heat was special compared to many hot wings I have tried.
The Garbonzos five-alarm wings. The heat lingered in the mouth for three or four minutes after I had finished them.

Along with this Garbonzo’s regularly has specials.  I’ve been there for half-price burgers, pasta and pizzas.  The pizza and burger specials are the best.  Both the portion sizes and quality of those two specials stand out from the others.  The pizzas have plenty of toppings and the the burgers are large and juicy.  You can get either, along with a refillable soft drink for between 10-12 dollars (ordering a small pizza).  It’s a little more if you want to add a beer but still quite reasonable.  This is not to suggest that these are bad deals at regular price, just that they’re a steal at the special price.

Treating the Customer as Special

Once again, I found the service to be really good. My servers (I had two during the course of the evening), struck a nice balance between asking if I wanted something else, and allowing me to order at leisure.
At the beginning of the second intermission, I ordered one more set of wings. Having tried two spicier varieties I went with something quite a bit different. This time I ordered the Parmesan-Garlic wings. These are not only mild, but they are also dry wings. Again the flavour was really good. One thing I liked about all three orders, was that the skin was crispy and the wing meat was moist and well-cooked. 

Special Garbonzos garlic-parmesan wings.
the garlic-parmesan wings were good and crispy with plenty of flavour. The wings are a Wednesday night special.

The Gypsy’s Tears beers that I ordered was neither here nor there. I enjoyed, but it wasn’t one that I would hurry back to order.

A Not so Special brew. Garbonzos gypsy tear
Gypsy’s tear beer, won’t make you cry, but it wont fill you with joy either.

With the big party downtown, Garbonzo’s wasn’t overly busy, but there was still a decent sized crowd. That allowed me to enjoy the game, and the Jet’s comeback, without to much wild behaviour going on around me. On the whole, with good food and really good service, this is a great place to enjoy a game. 
Monday, I went in and decided that I would go with the daily special.  This was a Teriyaki Chicken stir fry, priced at $10.00 ($9,99 for the sticklers).
When it arrived, something seemed a little odd, and when I took my first bite I realized what it was.  The rice was overcooked.  I continued eating and when my server came over to ask about my meal I mentioned the rice.
Immediately she offered to have them make me another one, but I said that was all right.  I only send food back if I think it is unsafe or totally inedible.  I think being single has made me conscious of food waste, as it is something I regularly struggle with.  While the rice was overcooked (I think they put too much water in), the Teriyaki Chicken itself was quite good.  The vegetables were just beyond crisp and the chicken was tender.  As for the sauce there was neither too much nor was it too sweet.
While I was eating a supervisor came out and visited me, and on taking a look at my plate, noted that the rice was closer to risotto.  He then told me that they would make an adjustment to the bill, and I said thank you.  As I was leaving and preparing to get my bill, the general manager came over to my table, and informed me that my meal, including my beverage had been comped.
This is great customer service on Garbonzo’s part.  A kind of special that isn’t on the menu.  It is also in keeping with the kind of service I’ve received here in the past.  The servers are attentive, yet you aren’t rushed, if you are slowly enjoying a beverage while watching the end of a game.  On the whole, I’d rate the food as average to above average, but the service raises the experience from good to very good.

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.