After work on Friday, I was struck with the immediate urge to seek out a patio. If there was a blessing to be had with our recent spell of wet and wild weather, it would be the carpe diem philosophy with which we now approach sunny days.
Living downtown, Mack and I have no shortage of al fresco options within walking distance. From those best suited to soaking up the sun, people watching, or a quiet escape, there are patios to match every mood. On that day, I wanted to enjoy a green vantage point, so immediately thought of The Confederation Lounge at the Hotel Macdonald.
A less formal option than The Harvest Room, The Confederation Lounge has tried in recent years to offer more casual dishes. I recognize it is a delicate balance, as the Mac would not want to jeopardize their bread and butter clientele who prefer the familiar steak and potatoes fare. Still, it would be nice to see the occasional feature menu which might help attract diners who may not select a restaurant based on its views alone.
We were directed to choose a seat anywhere on the patio, all sheltered under a draped metal canopy. It was about a little more than a third full, with most diners appearing to have transitioned directly from the office to begin their weekend. Though the surrounding vista, in all its lush summer glory was exactly what I was looking for, the nondescript jazz being piped from the speakers behind us was unnecessary. I would have much preferred no deliberate soundtrack, as the comforting lilt of the nearby water fountain was fitting enough for the setting.
Not a surprise, prices were on the steep side, both for libations and food. Mixed drinks were $14, and though the menu touted the inclusion of local ingredients, we were reminded of the fact that these were indeed hotel prices.
Raspberry 75 and Triple-Pepper Caesar
We had no intention of having a full dinner, but were interested in some nibbles. Their one-page menu focused very much on salads, sandwiches, and entrée plates, with only half a dozen truly sharable plate options. We settled on the item most unlike the others, a butter chicken poutine ($20).
Service waivered – although our food arrived quickly, our initial wait for service numbered fifteen minutes. Though our server was friendly and seemed like he was doing his best, it was clear he was being run off his feet. With the Hotel MacDonald’s reputation of being customer-driven, we expected better on this front.
However, the poutine itself was great! In our experience, poutines often receive failing grades because of poorly made fries that can’t stand up to the gravy, resulting in a mash of soggy potatoes. The Confederation Lounge’s fries were delightfully crisp, and remained so all the way through. The tandoori chicken (mostly dark meat, cooked until tender) was sauced in a relatively mild dressing, and was a tasty topping for the fries. Our only minor complaint was that the chicken pieces could have been diced further, as poutine shouldn’t require a knife to eat!
Butter chicken poutine
It’s difficult to think of a patio that allows such wondrous river valley views, but based on their current food menu, I’d likely return just for drinks.
The Confederation Lounge at the Hotel Macdonald
10065 100 Street
(780) 424 5181