Day Sixty-Nine – A Night at the Joe

10 03 2010

Here’s me playing catch-up on these posts. I could come up with a hundred excuses why I’m writing these posts so late, but instead I’ll just get to it.

I tend to go to a lot of different arenas for hockey games or wrestling shows, and though the purpose is generally the same, each building has a very different feel to it. One of my favorite buildings is Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. I might be a little biased, being a Red Wings fan, but the energy in the arena is like no where else. I felt the need to share this information with a social networking site I’m becoming pretty active within: Yelp.

Here’s what I posted:

The home of my Detroit Red Wings - Joe Louis Arena.

Joe Louis Arena

There are two reasons to go to Joe Louis Arena – the atmosphere and the product on the ice. The Detroit Red Wings are one of the most successful teams in hockey and it shows when you see them live and in person. You’re sure to see an exciting game as they tend to shoot the puck as often as possible, forcing the opposition to follow suit.

Given the smaller size of the arena, there really isn’t a bad seat in the place. You can even see Yzerman watching on from the press box, which is pretty close to the rest of the seats in the arena.

Ticket prices are pretty cheap. You can get tickets to some games for as low as $8. The Joe is also one of the last arenas to have standing room tickets.

Joe Louis Arena definitely isn’t a building that you visit for the architecture. It looks like a construction site on the outside, with its endless rows of porta-johns, and an old warehouse on the inside with the complete lack of decor or quality lighting. Outside of a bronze statue of Howe when you first walk in, there isn’t much to see off the ice.

Even when the team isn’t performing as well as they could, the crowd is the best reason to see a game in person – especially during the Playoffs. The crowd is always into the game. Patrons are nice and courteous. My brother was brave enough to wear an Anaheim Ducks jersey to Game 7 of the Playoffs and he left without much more than some teasing. Try doing something like that in Buffalo.

If you’re a hockey fan at all, whether you’re a Red Wings fan or not, you definitely have to go to a game at the Joe.

It’s hard to review an arena when the usage can change, therefore attracting a different crowd, but the Joe is pretty consistent. It’s a hockey arena first. It’s the center of HockeyTown and proud of it.

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Day Sixty-Eight – I Like Eating and Writing About It

9 03 2010

I love Yelp! When I had downtime at my last job, and there was a lot of downtime, I’d spend a ton of it looking up restaurants on Yelp.

I’ve also tried my hand at reviewing them. My review of Phil’s Original BBQ made the monthly newsletter, so that was exciting. If you haven’t been to Phil’s, you really should make an effort to go. I absolutely love it there.

Given that, I tried Pulled Pork elsewhere. It was upsetting. Read the review below:

Black Camel (Toronto, Ontario)

Why go to 'Black Camel' with 'Phil's Original BBQ' so nearby?

I’ll say right off the bat that my score is slightly unfair. My love is for the pulled pork of another, so when I walked into ‘Black Camel’ to taste what was dubbed “The Greatest Pulled Pork in Toronto”, I was set-up for disappointment.

Hypothetically speaking, had I never been to ‘Phil’s Original BBQ’, I may have liked the pulled pork at ‘Black Camel’ a little better. The sandwich was packed with meat and the sauce was pretty tasty on its own merits. However, I found myself dreaming, and wishing, for Phil’s sauce with every bite, just to be sorely disappointed each time.

The bread had an odd taste to it, almost overpowering the meat at times, but there was more than enough meat to stop it from happening too often.

The service was quick, but the place is so small that the people ahead of me pounced on the odd free seat – forcing me to sit out in the cold. Again, I don’t have a problem with this in some places, but knowing I could be in the warm confines of another was just another disappointment.

The sandwich was a little pricey as well. For the same cost, I could get a sandwich, albeit a smaller one, with a wonderful side of beans elsewhere. I was satisfied, hunger-wise, at the end of my sandwich, but I would have preferred to mix the palette up a little.

I don’t see myself returning to ‘Black Camel’ in the future. I’m sure the people in Rosedale love it, but with the subway right there, I would much rather ride the rocket to ‘Phil’s’.

Chili’s (Vaughan, Ontario)

I really enjoyed Chili’s when I visited it in New Jersey, so imagine my excitement when it’s announced that a Chili’s is opening a mere 20 minutes away from home. No more pulling out my passport just for some fajita.

However, like most things that cross the border up to the Great White North, it just didn’t feel the same. The moment we walked in, we were warned that the wait would be long. “Long”, as I was told when I asked what that meant, was supposed to be around a half-hour. Definitely long, but reasonable considering it was around 6pm and dinner service was sure to ramp up.

My girlfriend and I stood there, as there isn’t really anywhere to sit when you’re forced to wait inside the doorway as not to get in the way of people walking to and fro in front of you. About an hour later, we were finally seated.

I don’t know why I waited that long for a table with all the other options so nearby, but we did. We were determined to simulate the great experience we had in Jersey as best as possible. The good news was, we were right next to the kitchen. No excuse to miss us.

They did. A bunch of times.

We sat there for about another half-hour before someone finally came and asked us what drinks we wanted. Having all the time to review the menu much too thoroughly, we decided to order our entrees as well.

I got the fajita, as I would State-side, and I have to say that they were pretty good. Just not good enough to wait the extra 45 minutes it took for the meal to get to us.

At 9pm, we finally got the bill and got the hell out of the packed Chili’s. What was supposed to be a quick meal ended up being a three hour test of our patience. Good for them, I’m a sucker for branding and I waited through that mess.

I hope the service improves because the food is actually quite good, but if I can get to a Chili’s in New Jersey before I’m seated in Vaughan, it’s definitely not worth visiting this Chili’s.

I know I’ve been a couple of other places, but I just can’t remember them right now. Feel free to click on the Yelp! link to see some of my other reviews too!