Picking a place to eat is not as simple as it sounds, especially when kiddies are involved. This was the situation when Viv wanted to take her brother and sister-in-law out for their birthdays. Due to time limitations, the restaurant had to be located nearby as well. Add in that it couldn't be an el cheapo joint nor too busy, then we really had a problem on our hands. I literally took an hour to try to figure this out. Finally, I took the easy route and choose a hotel restaurant. Yes, it is not the most creative place to eat generally, but it is kid-friendly. And especially in this case, the place was deader than Charlie Sheen's career. Tivoli's, located in the Executive Hotel tucked in behind Boston Pizza and Cactus Club on Lougheed, is generally not the first place people would consider as a dine-out option. Apparently, on this Saturday noon-hour, we were the only people who chose it as an eating destination.
No matter, that meant we got the whole place to ourselves. The kids could do whatever they wanted and the seats posing as people would not care. Did this empty restaurant concern me a tad? Well yes. But our fears were somewhat alleviated by the Chorizo & Grilled Chicken Pizza we ordered as a starter. The crust was thin, only slightly crisp and a bit doughy in parts. On the other hand, the toppings was where it was at. There was a plethora of mild chorizo, tender chicken and cheese which made every bite a flavourful one. There was just enough balanced tomato sauce to compliment the rest of the ingredients. Not bad for $12.00. As for the other appetizer, it was met with indifference. On the menu, the Calamari sounded interesting, but in reality, it was just a bunch of things (red pepper, jalapenos, snap peas and asparagus) coated in tempura batter and fried. Therefore, the squid got lost in the amount of batter. If they had just used a light dusting of flour, it would've been better. In terms of the 2 accompanying dips, we liked the lemon chipotle aioli more than the bland tzatziki (although it did have some lemon notes to it).
For her main, Viv had the Jambalaya consisting of chicken, chorizo, mussels, really small shrimp and fried squid. I found the rice to be on the dry side, yet there was no absence of flavour. The proteins were prepared properly except the tiny shrimp were overcooked. I went off of the menu and had their feature for October which was in honour of Oktoberfest with the Schnitzel. Cooked in peanut oil and served with a side of mayo, this could've passed for a dish found at a Hong Kong-style cafe. Unlike some versions of schnitzel, this one was really moist and juicy. The pork was super tender and the exterior was mostly crispy except in the middle. I guess that was the result of the juicy pork. On the menu, it indicated that there would be German fries on the plate. As you can clearly see, there was no relation to anything German with the French fries. I guess we can just call them Euro fries... With that being said, the generic fries were very crispy and I enjoyed them.
Girl Smiley went for the Prime Rib Beef Dip and there was a considerable amount of meat sandwiched within the French bread. She remarked it was moist and tender (being that it was roasted prime rib). The actual dip was pretty standard fare though. Guy Smiley opted for the BBQ Chicken Clubhouse with one of the biggest pieces of chicken I've ever seen in a clubhouse (reminded me of Claim Jumper). This sammie was loaded with the aforementioned BBQ chicken breast, Agassiz pea shoots, tomato, Emmental cheese and back bacon. The chicken breast was cook perfectly moist while the rest of the components made this something more than a typical clubhouse. I attempted to take care of their baby daughter (my niece) as they ate. However, I'm not sure why she was trying to gouge my eye out the whole time! Actually, while she wasn't doing that, she was trying to stick her finger down my throat. Did she think I needed to purge?
Anyways, back to the whole reason we ate here - for the kiddies! Although they don't have an explicit kid's menu, there are kid options. My son had his go-to item in the Grilled Cheese with fries. Although this was a pretty typical version of grilled cheese, it was prepared properly with buttery bread and real cheddar. I actually stole a bite and it was pretty good. Once again, the fries were crisp and the kiddies liked that too. My daughter also had her preferred kid meal of choice which was the Chicken Strips with fries. There is not much to talk about here since it was your typical Sysco-type chicken strip. They were fried properly and served piping hot. And the reality of it all is that Tivoli's served its purpose well. The kiddies were comfortable with the food and the environment. Service was attentive (cuz we were the only ones there!) and our food was above average. Nothing particularly ground-breaking nor exciting though. Pretty much the epitome of a hotel restaurant.
- Food is decent
- Service (what we got) was friendly
- Comfortable dining space
- Although food is decent, nothing sets it apart