The very first time we dined at a Chuck’s Roadhouse Bar and Grill was actually in Niagara Falls after we counted down to the New Year a few years ago. I remember it was such an serendipitous find because we were looking for a restaurant that opened late and served affordable, good food. Chuck’s Roadhouse is known for their cheap eats where you can even get surf and turf for just $25. Their appetizers are also half price after 9 p.m. Their slogan is “The way food ought to be, priced the way it used to be.” We absolutely loved our dine-in experience in Niagara (I didn’t blog about it — yet) and even celebrated our second year wedding anniversary at the one in Stouffville two years ago too. We had a splendid time there too and loved the amazing service that our server gave us at the time. She gave us a free dessert and candle for our celebration too. It was such a memorable and amazing experience.
Fast forward to this past weekend when we went to the same location of Chuck’s Roadhouse in Stouffville for a lunch (following our visit to Carma Farms). And unfortunately, we were disappointed with our visit. Both the food and the service were very lacking.
When we arrived at Chuck’s Roadhouse at the Stouffville Plaza at 5892 Main Street just after 2 p.m., we waited in front of the hostess table to be seated. A server came out and asked how many we were. Before I could answer, she said “three and a half?” We were three adults plus one toddler. I thought she meant the “half” to refer to me being pregnant. I said, “No, four.” She said, “I was referring to the child as the ‘half’.” Um.. what?? My family and I all thought that was incredibly rude of the server to refer to our toddler as a “half person”. Who says that? She is a whole person and should not have been referred to as a “half”. That was the first mistake the server made.
She guided us to the booths and let us choose one of the two that were available. One had its blinds up and she told us we could roll them down if it was too sunny. She gave us three plates with three sets of cutlery. Um, what about the toddler’s? She set out a kid’s placemat with a set of crayons too at least. But seriously, the child needs a serving plate too… (The server also didn’t offer us a high chair or booster option.)
We placed our order at the same time we ordered our drinks (two hot waters and one regular water). It seemed like she was the only server catering to all of the tables in the dining room since we saw no other staff member on the floor. I understand she was busy, but it took an awfully long time for our drinks to arrive. It was just regular and hot water.
Thus, after she collected the bill for a neighbouring table, I asked her about our waters. She set down our condiments (ketchup, relish, two types of vinegars) and looked at me with a side eye and said something along the lines of “Well, it takes time for the water to boil, you know.” I don’t remember her reply verbatim, but the tone of it was unpleasant and nasty. Of course I understood that it takes time to boil water, but why didn’t she serve the regular water first then? And most servers would actually pleasantly inform us something like, “Sorry for the wait. I’m just waiting for the water to boil. I’ll be with you shortly.” She could have been more pleasant and professional when answering my question. The way she answered my question was so rude and full of attitude.
When she did arrive with the waters and placed them on the table, I didn’t even acknowledge her or say thanks. She had been so rude to me.
The food that we got was also quite subpar. DH was awfully disappointed with the Smokehouse Burger. Firstly, all of the burgers all came with fries. There was no option for a side salad. If you wanted a salad, you had to pay $1.99 for it. It’s unfortunate that it’s a fixed free side and you can’t even choose a healthier option. I guess that’s why their prices are so low. I know fries cost less than fresh salads.
The Smokehouse Burger ($14.99) was topped with sautéed mushrooms, crispy onion rings, Chuck’s BBQ sauce, and cheddar cheese. All of the burgers are topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. DH thought this burger was incredibly small and the burger was overdone. The sides of the burger were blackened and a little burnt too. To me, it tasted very “beefy” and “meaty” and the meat was tender in the middle. However, DH was plain dismayed since we had had such good food at Chuck’s on previous visits. He said the fries were also lukewarm and it was clear they were not fresh out of the fryer.
The Mozzarella Sticks were a disappointing appetizer. The presentation of it was very sad-looking. It was just six mozzarella sticks rolling around on a naked rectangular plate with a cup of ranch. For what we got for $9.99, it is an expensive appetizer. They tasted like frozen mozzarella sticks that were just heated up too. They didn’t taste very good and the middle of the cheese sticks were hollow.
The Spinach & Goat Cheese Dip ($13.99) was a spinach dip with roasted garlic, goat cheese and artichokes topped with mixed cheeses and served with garlic flatbread wedges. I actually really liked how creamy and cheesy this dip was. The garlic flatbread wedges were a little hard for my liking though. I prefer warm and pillowy soft toasted bread instead. I could taste the garlic parts of it though.
We ordered Chuck’s Famous Caesar Salad, the “Chuck’s Size” ($10.99), a shareable portion. (For comparison sake, their Regular is $6.99.) This surprisingly came with some of the same garlic flatbread wedges as the cheese dip. For a shareable, family-size portion known as “Chuck’s Size”, this was on the small size too. We were expecting a hefty portion of Caesar Salad (like how big the bowls at East Side Mario’s are).
This Chuck’s Famous Caesar Salad was made with Romaine lettuce, bacon pieces, croutons, shredded Parmesan cheese, and their Signature Caesar dressing. Taste-wise, it was really good with bacon pieces embedded with cheese and dressing. We were just let down by the size.
Finally, the other item we ordered was the Chicken Parm sandwich ($13.99). This also came with a standard side of (lukewarm) fries. This sandwich had breaded chicken breast, mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce on a brioche bun. The menu description said that it would be served with marinara sauce on the side for dipping, but we didn’t receive that. Taste-wise, I enjoyed this Chicken Parm sandwich. If only the standard free side wasn’t fries.
When we left, we left a subpar tip for the server. We found it in bad taste that she referred to our child as a “half” person and that she replied so rudely to a simple question about our drinks. It’s too bad that our visit was a complete 180 from the last visit we had two years ago (where we were shouting from the rooftops about how amazing the food and service were).
We noticed also that the prices for the appetizers had gone up (though the prices for the mains had stayed relatively the same). Chuck’s Roadhouse charges a “Honest to Goodness Fee”, which is an additional 3% fee to all menu items in an effort “to provide the highest quality food at the lowest possible prices while maintaining operational efficiency.” That’s how they can serve cheap $25 surf and turf meals, for example.
After this regrettable experience, we will hesitate to return to this location of Chuck’s Roadhouse Bar and Grill. It’s so unfortunate. The food wasn’t great and the prices aren’t as cheap as they used to be. We spent more on this meal than we did at Markham Station recently (and we had more leftovers to pack home too too). I hope management reviews their food quality as well as their staff performances. The name of the server as stated on our bill was Ann-Marie.