Jul 5, 2012

Don’t let them tell you it can be stuffed

Mrs. Waffle had a craving.
She wanted horrid, greasy, salty pizza.

Why?

It all started by a complaint from @JuiceGnipoksy, who really wishes that Pizza Hut and Swiss Chalet would open up shop in downtown Ottawa.

He has a point.  Pizza Hut, founded in Wichita in 1958 and now a subsidiary of Yum!, (the world’s largest restaurant company who also owns KFC and Taco Bell), has about 12,000 Pizza Hut restaurants in the world.

But in Ottawa, the closest Pizza Hut from downtown is in the Glebe, on Bank @ Fifth, about 3 kms from Parliament Hill. The closest Swiss Chalet is on Carling @ Kirkwood, about 7 kms from the Hill. IMG-20120705-00266

Still, there are 9 Swiss Chalet in Ottawa and 9 Pizza Hut as well.  Swiss Chalet gave up on its Chalet Suisse Quebec locations years ago, but Pizza Hut is quite present and has one franchise in Gatineau, on Gréber @ Maloney.

And that is where we ended up, to satisfy Mrs. Waffle.

We got there around 5:45. The place was not super busy, but it wasn’t empty either. In fact, it got busier. Still, the service could have been more efficient – our pop took forever to arrive.  At least it’s all you can drink. But I digress.

Good news, kids eat dinner for free all summer, until September 2nd.  The meal includes a beverage, dessert, and your choice of a 6″ Pizza, Fettuccini Alfredo Pasta, Mac N’ Cheese, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce or Chicken Boneless Bites.

IMG-20120705-00268The Waffle Jr. doesn’t like garlic, so Alfredo was out, we were going to get pizza so no need to order one for her either. Spaghetti meat sauce sounded like a messy idea, the Boneless Bites are packing a whooping 1620 mg of sodium.  So we settled for the Mac N’ Cheese.

Not a lot of cheese, pretty watery sauce, no colour – I know it’s the kids’ menu, but they could make an effort. Sad.

IMG-20120705-00269Since Mel was hungry NOW, she ordered a ceasar salad as an appetizer. The small salad arrived promptly. The lettuce was fresh and crispy, and was not too drenched in the commercial dressing. There was plenty of croutons, shaved Parmesan, tomatoes (!) and some bacon bits. On the side, a slice of lemon to garnish. We’ve seen worse.

But as you know, we were here for horrid, greasy, salty pizza.

First, we had to pick the crust.

In Canada, you can  go for the Classic, the Multigrain, the Thin N’ Crispy, the Pan or the Stuffed Crust. No matter which one you choose, you will get a nice shiny finish, thanks to the mystery green spray can they use right before bringing you the pizza.

At any rate, we felt that the Classic was probably the best choice, but figured we might as well go big or go home. We chose the Stuffed Crust.  I’ve never had it and figured I should try it before I could then go on to explore deeper into outerspizza and sample the likes of Ultimate Stuffed Crust, the Cheesy Bites Crust, the Cheeseburger Crust or even the Hot Dog Stuffed Crust

The menu had 20 different pre-selected toppings. Multiply that by 5 types of crust, and you get a 100 different types of pizza to choose from.  Our search didn’t go very deep: Mel selected the very first listed by Pizza Hut, a favourite of hers: the Meat Lovers.

What’s not to like?  Pepperoni, beef topping (what?), Italian sausage, mild sausage, ham, bacon crumble and mozzarella cheese.

Glorious. No?

IMG-20120705-00271

I mean, it did look good.  The crust was puffy, bits of cheese were oozing out.  On top, you could see lots of meat and the cheese had a great colour.  And it smelled fantastic.

First things first, let’s deal with the crust. In order to stuff it, the crust is not handled the same way - they form the pie and then they roll the edge in order to stuff it with a cylinder of processed cheese (ya, not real mozzarella) before baking the pizza.

IMG-20120705-00272The result is disappointing. Sure, the cheese is kinda oozing out and gooey – but it is not satisfying at all.  On the flavour side, it is very bland. On the texture side, it is more rubbery than anything else. It is not melted evenly throughout the crust and mostly remains too solid. It’s like eating a pizza with a big melted rubber band in the crust. And the dough is, well, doughy. Totally undercooked. The moisture from the cheese prevents the dough from cooking properly and therefore, gone is the bready crispiness one expects from a good pizza crust.

Verdict: Each year, the equivalent of 57 football field of cheese are eaten. No need to insert more in a pizza crust.

Thankfully, the garnish was better. Here, you got the familiar taste of Pizza Hut, with lots of salts and nitrates on a crispy crust helped by a little fine cornmeal at the bottom. The biggest problem is – despite having 6 different type of meats piled high on the pizza, everything basically tasted the same – salt!

Sure, from time to time you’ll be able to notice bacon as even more salt explode in your mouth, or chew in a larger piece of ham, or a little Italian zing from the pepperoni, but mostly, you won’t get any layers of flavour. Of course, maybe you do not want to taste the beef “toppings” but surely, it shouldn’t be as uni-dimensional as this was.

The tomato sauce was helpful, and so was the mozzarella, but it couldn’t totally save us from the disappointment of the stuffed crust.  And when I asked for some hot sauce to enlighten the heavy grub, I was told that they didn’t have any. Sad.

But filling.  We didn’t finish it and brought it home, hoping that re-heated would help it a little more.

IMG-20120705-00274 The kids menu included a dessert, and we went for the Brownie.

It, too, took a long time to get to us and by then Waffle Jr. was done. Mrs Waffle was done.

So I ate it.

They didn’t miss anything.

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