After talking to a few people about our easterly route, we had several recommendations to stop at Busters BBQ in Vermillion Bay, Ontario. The restaurant had been featured on the Canadian food show ‘You Gotta Eat Here’. So we (Papa Bear in particular) were drooling as we travelled along Hwy 17 near lunch time, anticipating some great BBQ.
When we arrived, the rather non-descript building had all the trappings of an old-school eatery – basic tables, a few vintage signs on the wall and a simple menu consisting mainly of ribs, pulled pork and burgers.
We couldn’t bring the Bear inside and there wasn’t a patio section so we ordered takeaway: one Carolina pulled pork sandwich and a Busters burger. We also bought a half pint of Busters BBQ sauce, believing we were in a northern BBQ institution. The tab – a not inexpensive $45.
We then waited for 25 minutes (not the 10 they told us) for our food. When it came, Papa Bear – now almost starving – ran the bag out to the RV, broke open the box and stared blinking at the meager sandwich and limp fries. Maybe half an inch of pulled pork with a thin layer of slaw (which is why it’s called a Carolina). There was also a thimble of weak gravy that wasn’t ordered but was charged for. Taking a bite, it was edible but far from anything you’d feature in a food network program. The fries were slightly seasoned but lacked the crispness of a good southern style frite. But the worst was yet to come.
Mama Bear bit into her (supposed) beef burger and almost choked. She immediately passed it over for a second opinion and after Papa Bear took a bite, it was verified. The signature Busters burger was obviously utilizing a frozen patty that had the distinct taste of metal. And because it only came with one slice of tomato and a thin piece of lettuce, you could really taste the chewy meat substance.
But it gets even worse. Mama Bear marched back into the restaurant and spoke to the manager, who confirmed the patties are indeed frozen, but she added, ‘It says so right on the menu.’ [Why would any decent BBQ joint use frozen patties, let alone advertise it?] MB responded by saying we ordered off the takeaway board which doesn’t list any ‘caveats.’ So after reviewing the board again, MB asked to just substitute the burger for a side of fries. The manager unapologetically made the adjustment (still charging for fries) and gave a partial refund. Then, after waiting another 15 mins, MB (her hair now on fire) asked what was taking so long, the manager replied that she had to wait until after a large table was served. So MB cancelled the order and after waiting another 5 mins for her money back, ended the conversation with ‘This really wasn’t a very good place.’ The manager yelled back, ‘Everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves’ (except the guy in the biker outfit who also cancelled his long delayed order). MB then replied, ‘Maybe because they don’t know any better… We’re writing a blog and we’ll be sure to forewarn other travelers.’ The manager ended by saying ‘Fine, write whatever you want, my name is Tania.’ Obviously Tania isn’t aware of the power, influence and global reach of bearsgroove…
So there you have it. Not so fine dining followed up with even worse customer service. What’s amusing is how close that manager came to experiencing the full Redheaded fury of Mama Bear, who held herself back from leaping over the counter and demonstrating another version of ‘pulled pork’ on that cranky woman.
Note that while Papa Bear choked down most of his sandwich, a portion was put in the Bear’s dog dish, along with some of the tasteless gravy. After staring at the bowl for a couple of minutes, she ate it but not without some hesitation and deep sighs. The Bear knows good BBQ, unlike the people of Vermillion Bay and surroundings. It’s a long way from Northern Ontario to Kansas or Texas. Lucky for the owners of Busters BBQ…