Mini Growl Review: Chanoso’s

Category: Mini Growl Review

Kim S.

Chanoso’s Impromptu Mini Growl

By Kim S.


It certainly isn’t every week that our peerless leader and founder Sylvia V. celebrates a revolution around the sun, and so it was in the name of fete that a small contingent of Growl gals found themselves capping off a Sunday afternoon of light theatre with dinner at Chanoso’s.

The breezes of the first real spring-like day of the year ushered us in through the front door past a standing statue of the Buddha himself. Wherever you go, there you are.

Chanoso’s/Oishii is located in downtown Windsor (at 255 Ouellette Avenue, near University). Your safest parking bets if you choose to dine here are the parking garages: there is one on Pelissier and one on Chatham Street (and Goyeau). Additionally, there is a pay lot by the river at the foot of Ouellette, and, during less busy times, one may find a metered parking spot on either Chatham Street or University Avenue.

The layout of the restaurant is worth a mention. The dining area is divided into three. There is a raised seating area near the tall front windows, a smaller seating area for larger groups in the middle, and a curtained room at the back.

Our group was seated in the second of these sections, but I had a good view of the back room, and I found it really visually intriguing. The high ceiling is vaulted and painted in dark colours layered under swirling black designs. The centerpiece of this ceiling is a crystal chandelier. It is a tea room conceived in the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus or the mind of Tim Burton or maybe a bit of both. I dug it.

Some charm is also to be found in the exposed brick wall that serves as backdrop to the extensive, well-stocked bar.

Unfortunately, Chanoso’s potential goes mostly unrealized. A long-standing downtown staple, some of its interior has fallen into disrepair (including, it would seem, the espresso/latte machine), and the dining area and washrooms could use a more thorough cleaning. The service was polite enough, but slow and inconsistent.

Shrimp Stir FryAs far as the food is concerned, although I was pleased with my hummus and grilled pita appetizer (plenty to share with a friend or six!), my veggie stir fry with ginger sauce served over brown rice had a strange aftertaste and a somewhat slimy texture. (I am willing to concede that I may have simply ordered the wrong thing. I only maintain that a place known for its stir fries should be serving up some pretty darn stellar stir fries.) The vegetables, however, were large and obviously fresh, and the menu does offer a wide variety of choices if one wishes to go with the “make your own stir fry” option – sauces, noodles or rice, and protein. Vegetarians can go with a mix of veggies or add tofu. I always appreciate it when restaurant owners/chefs make an effort to keep in mind special dietary considerations when creating a menu.

Overall, Chanoso’s has the feel of a somewhat more upscale restaurant one might stumble into for eats along a bar hopping route. (The Room is located just upstairs, for example.) Everything shines a little brighter when you’re tipsy. For this sober reviewer whose barfly days are behind her, however, the Chanoso’s experience fell a little flat.

Kim S.‘s Overall Rating GpawRating-WholeGpawRating-WholeGpawRating-HalfGpawRating-WholeFadeGpawRating-WholeFade
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Have YOU visited Chanoso’s?
Tell us about your experience!

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Sylvia V March 11, 2013, 6:33 pm

    Thanks Kimberly!
    My birthday celebration was grand.
    I was happy to be in the company of friends.
    The salmon ceviche and tarantula roll I ordered were fresh, delicious and nicely presented. I would go back specifically for those flavours, though I might first search for more competitive prices in the city.
    I ordered the Cherry Pucker cocktail which I thought would be more sour.
    I didn’t mind the service, our server was pretty and polite.
    The decor is nice but a little neglected.
    I was somewhat distracted by the lingering smell of spilled beer making me question the cleanliness.
    Next time I would ask to be seated at the window where it is brighter and further from the bar.

    Reply
  • Lisa M. March 11, 2013, 7:21 pm

    Whenever I’m at Chanoso’s I always order the Chef Salad. On this occasion I thought I would try a sushi roll as a starter, never having had their sushi before. The shrimp tempura roll was okay, on the small side and average tasting. The Chef Salad didn’t disappoint. Full of large, fresh veggies, quartered egg, tender grilled chicken and crisp romaine lettuce. A word to the wise, always ask for it served on a plate. When they put the salad in a bowl, the dressing pools at the bottom and makes the lettuce all soggy. I finished up my meal with a slice of the chocolate peanut torte, and while the slice was huge, again, there was nothing special about the cake, it was just all right. I will continue to go back for the Chef Salad, but will likely not venture farther afield on their menu again.

    Reply
  • Laurel R.
    Twitter:
    March 11, 2013, 7:23 pm

    As always, I greatly enjoyed being in the company of my fellow Growlitas – such wonderful, fun, intelligent women! And I liked the architectural bones of the restaurant, particularly the exposed brick walls, high ceilings and full-height windows, and the carved woodwork. I thought the decor, though somewhat shabby in places, was creative and interesting.

    Unfortunately, apart from the noodle rolls I ordered as an appetizer (which were fresh-tasting and yummy), my dining experience at Chanoso’s felt a little “off” in various ways. I ordered the Dragonfly martini but received a Red Dragon instead (to be fair, the server offered to correct the mistake). I didn’t love the bread with oil and vinegar dip (normally a favourite of mine) as I thought the bread was unremarkable and the dip overly vinegared, with no observable herbs or seasonings to add depth to the flavour. Worst of all, I found the sushi rice to be quite dry and a little odd-tasting, and the rainbow roll considerably smaller (especially for its $14 price) than what I am used to (granted, I hail from the West Coast where delicious sushi is cheap and plentiful!).

    Our server was very pleasant and sweet, but inexplicably disappeared after taking coffee and dessert orders from only two of our six-person party and had to be flagged down some time later to finish the order. If I hadn’t already decided not to spend another $10 on coffee and dessert after my disappointing meal, that would have clinched it.

    Unfortunately, based on my experience at Chanoso’s, I’m not in a hurry to either revisit the restaurant or recommend it to others. Sorry, but there are too many other wonderful places in our great city!

    Reply
  • Lisa L March 11, 2013, 10:28 pm

    This experience was mediocre for me as well, then again you can’t do too much wrong with a basic stirfry. My dinner was fresh and tasty but didn’t knock my socks off. I did not order an appetizer or a dessert so I really can’t weigh in too much on food.
    Service was pleasant but again mediocre-I agree with all the previous comments on that topic.
    What I did notice was that the space was tired looking and had an off putting smell, Slyvia thought stale beer but I swear I smelled a hint of old cabbage too, in combination with the spilled beer-whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
    With so many choices in Windsor, and so much competition for the dinner dollar, I’m dissappointed that this spot with it’s great bones and potential just doesn’t measure up.

    Reply

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