I love to eat out. Many reasons not the least of which is I am a not-so-great-a-cook. This time we had to go out as the resort we were staying at did not have a kitchen. So what is the first thing we did? We looked on TripAdvisor of course and also on Yelp.
We found The Iron Skillet and it was listed as #2 on the places to eat in Collingwood, Ontario. I have to say that a restaurant in a strip mall would not likely be my first choice. It was located across from a larger mall just out of reach of downtown Collingwood. There was easy parking and easy access to the restaurant.
With a nice patio – albeit in the parking lot, you could enjoy a cold beer on a hot summer night... that’s for sure. So we find ourselves going inside and we were surprised at the size of the place. Lots of booths, tables and a great big bar area. It was filled with families and was pretty full. Not bad for a Sunday night in small town Ontario.
As we were seated we notice a sign on the wall that stated that they had just finished filming an episode of Food Network Canada’s “You Gotta Eat Here”. We are pretty big fans of the show and I have eaten at other #YGIH restaurants. The Iron Skillet offered three items from their ‘eclectic’ menu for the episode and we opted for two of those items: the Stuff Yorkie and The Seafood Paella.
We were pretty hungry so we decided to order an appetizer: Sweet Potato fries with black beans, pickled onions, sour cream and pull pork. I have to say that this was a nice alternative to the usual nachos with ground beef, onions, salsa and sour cream.
The sweet potatoes were ‘waffle’ shaped an plentiful. There was pulled pork distributed throughout but I was disappointed that it was not as juicy and tender as I have had before. Mind you, if you broil it for the nacho it will dry out a bit. We asked for the re-fried beans to be on the side and I was happy we did. I love re-fried beans, my daughter not so much. I did love the flavour of them.
We then patiently awaited our meal... and we waited and waited. Once again, we had to wait an unusually long time for our meal. Had he forgotten to put in our order? Was the kitchen so backed up that we need to wait almost an hour for our meal? Who knew, our waiter certainly didn’t inform us why the meal was delayed but we did receive everything nice an hot.
My daughter and I decided to order the Seafood Paella. At a whopping $25 a plate, there was no way we were getting two of those. It is a generous portion so do consider sharing it. It had plenty of mussels, about 5 or 6 tiger shrimp, tiny, tiny clams and a lot of tomatoes and onions.
Here is the thing, if you are going to put almost whole canned (yes, canned not fresh tomatoes) then try not to put too many. The onions and tomatoes overwhelmed what is a very delicate dish that plays may flavours against each other. I am of Latin origin so paella is something I grew up eating. This was the first time that I had tasted a ‘spicy’ paella. The saffron that usually seasons the dish is very mild in flavour but essential. The chef did not skimp on that!
Paella with Tiger shrimp, mussels, clams, whitefish, peppers, tomatoes, onions, rice and herbs simmered in a white wine sauce.
All is all it was a good dish, not great just good. If you’ve never had a seafood paella, this would be a reasonable start but not an authentic rendition. Be aware, I’m not sure it is worth the hefty $25 price tag. You may be disappointed if you expected more shrimp and less tomatoes.
My son order the Chicken Schnitzel. He had never had Schnitzel before (so he thought but in fact we have had it at home before). It came with potatoes and mixed veggies (both were delicious). I cannot say the same about the Schnitzel. It was large... but that is the problem, it had been thinned so much that it was tough. So if you have a lot of breading and then a think piece of chicken, then you deep fry it (or maybe pan fry it) you cannot let it dry out. This was unfortunately the case. I thought maybe I was being to picky so I asked my mom to try it... very politely but without hesitation she confirmed my disappointment. My son liked it but if this is his ‘first’ time eating schnitzel, there is nothing to compare it to. All in all, not a dish I would recommend.
Chicken Schnitzel topped with served w potato and veggies
My mother ordered one of the You Got to Eat Here features: The Stuffed Yorkie...Tender roast beef, mushrooms, Swiss cheese stuffed in homemade Yorkshire pudding and topped with gravy, and served with veggies and potato.
In principle this sounds mouth watering and delicious but in practice I have to say we were all disappointed that the meat was over cooked and the Yorkshire pudding was a bit over done. I think this would be a very hard dish to make without overcooking it. It is hard enough to make Yorkshire puddings pop up but when you put a big chunk of meat in the middle, it is bound to get a bit too crispy.
Would I order this dish again? Not likely. Would I order a different beef dish? Yes, though overcooked, it was still tasty. Only good beef can pull that trick off. Overall, I thought that the menu was interesting, eclectic and unique. The problem was that they did not really deliver the flavours. In my humble opinion, you need to keep things interesting but not stray away from your strengths. I am sure The Iron Skillet is a good restaurant but it is not a great one. That being said, I would not completely discount it as a great restaurant in Collingwood. This was my first visit there so I don’t have anything else to compare it to.
If you go, be sure and let me know what you think.
out of 5 Stars.