Swine and Vine Restaurant 295 Lancaster Street West Kitchener, ON …
StrykerZ Kitchen and Bar
120 Ottawa Street North
Kitchener, ON N2H 3K5
Cost for two with pints: $60
Open: Tuesday – Sunday
The charming saw has been uttered since Danson, Grammer and Long were comedic foils ruling prime time television decades ago. They left an enduring pop-culture legacy: you want to go to a place where everyone knows your name. The sentiment is alive and well at Strykerz Kitchen and Bar. It works too.
Oscar Wilde said life imitates art more than art imitates life — and this is a place where camaraderie is palpable. Patrons know each other; restaurant staff know the regulars. It makes for a good feeling all around, even you are just observing.
The owners have worked in the supply side of the industry, so with razor thin margins, that might give them a chance to make a success of the business, the location of which has been dogged by several failed food ventures. Remember way back to Villa Nina International Bistro? It had some success – until fire hit decades ago.
Strykerz’ is in Eastwood Plaza, a humble setting with a DQ a few businesses down, a laundromat next door. The restaurant retains the decor of the previous occupant, a defunct gastropub. Bar seating for a half-dozen or so faces a large television. Tables, high-tops and a few banquette seats make up the no-frills dining room. A chalkboard has daily specials, and a patio will open in spring weather, although it’s essentially in the parking lot.
The best element of the environment is the energy in the place before Kitchener Rangers’ hockey games: it’s a lively place to be. After Kitchener Rangers’ hockey games, it’s also lively place to be. When there is no hockey game, Strykerz is still a pleasant neighbourhood local in which to sit and sip a pint and have a bite. There’s regular live music.
The kitchen, overseen by chefs Jeremy Rollins and Tom Allen, is pub fare done decently well with 12 appetizers, three salads, three wraps, four sandwiches and a half-dozen or so burgers, including a chickpea falafel burger. More ambitious dishes include pork chops, schnitzel and tortellini in a rose sauce as dinners ($15-$19).
Fish and chips are beautifully moist haddock inside a crisp beer-batter exterior (just slightly over-cooked), along with the slaw and tartar sauce anticipated at a neighbourhood local. Burgers are made in-house; the Cajun-spiced version with jalapeños and chipotle paste is pretty good. A Caesar salad is a Caesar salad; adding a sautéed chicken breast costs four more dollars. Calamari is perfectly crisp and punctuated by thin slices of battered jalapeño, a nice touch. Dry Cajun wings (1 lb. for $14) hit the mark.
The service can be smart as well as friendly. One late afternoon visit, with pints on special for $5 before five p.m., a waiter passes my table: he must have noticed my near-empty glass. Before I could finish ordering another round, he had replied, “Already done, sir.” Now that’s reading a table.
Life does imitate art: over in the corner, I think I heard someone say, “Hey Cliff.”[Banner image/Strykerz]