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Looking for something a little different to eat before I came into work tonight, I decided to try the brand new St Hubert Express recently opened on the conveniently named Hubert St. As a quick side note, do not fall into the trap that you can access St Hubert Express from the McAllister Mall parking lot. It may appear that they are connected somehow… they are not. Trust me on this. You will be tempted to pull a U-turn, even if there are 2 marked police cars across from you. Resist that temptation.
Since it was 5pm on a Sunday, and I was alone, I decided not to bother going into the restaurant to eat. I suppose that I could have walk in to look around, and then gone to the take-out counter. But I wanted to try the drive-thru.
The menu is a little pricier than Swiss Chalet’s, although you get the option of unlimited coleslaw and fountain pop. Of course that’s only IF you are eating in the restaurant. I’m curious whether there is any difference in pricing between the drive-thru and the restaurant. Looking at my receipt ($14.01 after tax for a Chicken Breast meal, and extra $1 for bottled Coke) I am guessing that it’s probably no different whether you eat in or not. That’s a little disappointing, but I’ll have to test that theory some time.
So how was it? Well I took a picture before I started to dig in. This is what $14.01 will get you at St Hubert.
Impressive, isn’t it? Actually it’s not too bad… but I still think that it costs a little more than it should. The fries are nothing special. The creamy coleslaw isn’t all that creamy. The dipping sauce is good, but I think I prefer Swiss Chalet’s more. There is half of a bun hidden under those fries, but no butter to put on it… so I dipped it in the sauce. The chicken was good, although I question why the cutlery package does not include a knife. Sure, those plastic utensils are garbage, but if you’re going to give me a fork.. why not a knife too? And because it’s all pre-packaged you can’t say that they simply forgot. That would be ok… but that’s not what happened.
All in all I would say that my first experience with St Hubert Express was relatively neutral. By no means was it horrible… but I think a proper restaurant visit is in order before I can say with any certainty whether or not I’m impressed by its return to the Port City.
I understand that I might lose a couple of readers with this one, but I can not in good conscience, let this go un-addressed. It’s not a negative review… it’s simply a little more realistic than some of the ones that I’ve read on the subject.
When Relish opened up across the street at the old Reggie’s location, I was quite excited to try it out. People raved about the gourmet burgers in Fredericton and Oromocto, and at one point I had almost driven to Fredericton to see what all the fuss was about. Almost. But when the Saint John location opened, there was no need to go for a drive. It was only a matter of time before I would step across the street and put Relish to the test.
Before I was able to place my order, the girl asked me for my name. I tried to explain that I hadn’t pre-ordered this, but then I remembered someone telling me that Relish likes to make a spectacle when your meal is ready by calling out “We Relish Stephen…” Ugh. I can really do without the theatrics. I just want to get my meal and eat. So I ordered The Great One, which consists of cheddar cheese, bacon, and roasted garlic mayonnaise served on a nice patty and bun. I opted for the fries and a bottled water (they serve Pop Shoppe and Pepsi). The grand total? (I wish I had my receipt still, so I’m going by memory) Over $14. I don’t remember how close it was to $15, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say $14. That was after-tax.
I knew walking in there that I was not getting out without opening up my wallet for some serious change, and that’s fine. I completely accept the fact that Relish is not McDonalds, and I applaud them for bringing gourmet burgers to this part of the country. If you don’t want to pay that kind of money, there are more than enough fast food places that will serve you a combo for half that price. But the big question as I opened the box after returning to work… was my meal actually worth $14?
There is no denying that the burger I ate was far superior to McDonalds or any other fast food chain. It had a nice taste, although I was expecting it to be bigger. I had been told that eating at Relish was like eating a real meal. If I finished it, I wouldn’t be left hungry. I’m disappointed to say, that was not the case. The burger was good, but not as filling as I had hoped. The fries were rather plain and far fewer than I expected. Considering that fries are the “cheap filler” of any combo, I was certainly expecting there to be more of them. Relish uses the thick cut fries, and they were good, but nothing special. Because of the extra care they put into creating unique burgers, I would have liked to have seen something a little more special with their fries. For those who like such things, I was offered the opportunity to upgrade (for a price) to sweet potato fries, but I’m not a fan. Oh, I see that Relish makes poutine, and I am curious about that. The type of fries they served me would be perfect for poutine. But how’s their gravy?
I know that a lot of people rave over Relish, and I hate knock on them, because I do think that there is a market for gourmet burgers in this city. It’s also nice to see something new open in the city core that draws people (although I was the only person in there that day). Relish isn’t bad by any means, but it’s hard for me to get excited about spending $14 on a burger and fries combo that left me wanting more… especially when I could just as easily have swung through the drive-thru at Swiss Chalet and gotten a quarter chicken meal combo for less money that would have kept the hunger away longer than Relish did with their offering.