Determining what’s good bang-for-your-buck is always difficult, no matter what the discipline. Do you look solely at price, or do you also give consideration to other factors such as quality, amount of product received or ease of use?
One of my favourite places on Park during Stampede time is Weadickville, especially the Weston Bakery. Their $2.50 sausage rolls as well as 2 for $2 cheese sticks and various pepperoni sticks have gotten me through many a Stampede. You can also find $2 waters in Weadickville as well as $2 Frosters from Mac’s. For under $5, you can have yourself a very satisfying lunch. To me, that’s good value.
There’s also value to be had out on the Midway, although with the sheer number of items sold out there, it’s sometimes hard to find the true gems. For today’s #CSFoodie challenge, we were tasked with finding the Best Value on the Midway and were instructed to sample 9-10 items that might fit the bill, many of them previous contenders for various categories this year. The Fried Chicken Poutine from Waffles and Chix ended up walking away with the honours, but what about the rest?
Because good value is subjective, the series of reviews in this edition of Reggie’ll Try It! will be a bit different. Instead of rating the food, I’ll just offer my opinions on why these foods may offer a good bang-for-your-buck and leave it up to you whether or not you agree. Either way, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!
Fried Chicken Poutine by Waffles and Chix (Near the Agrium Western Events Centre)
Waffles and Chix’s Fried Chicken Poutine already earned one honour this year from our CS Foodie group: Best Deep Fried.
After trying it for myself, it’s easy to see why. Fresh cut fries, Alberta cheese, Southern fried chicken with white gravy and maple syrup all combine to create a flavourful Albertan take on an Eastern Canada favourite.
But why did it win again for Best Value? After all, at $10, it’s not exactly the cheapest option on the Midway. Well, for those ten bucks, you get A LOT of food. The portion is generous and it can easily feed 2-4 people. It’s easy to share with a bunch of extra forks (just ask the vendor; they’d be happy to supply them) and in fact, I did just that with random strangers today as I was wandering around the Midway trying to complete today’s objective, asking all of them for their opinions.
Everyone who sampled it during my adventures agreed that it tasted great and that the quality of the product was well worth the $10. And if you split it between 2-4 friends, it essentially brings the cost down to $2.50-5.00 per person, which isn’t bad.
Shiekh Pizza by Avatara Pizza (Near Nashville North)
There are many options for pizza on the midway, but Avatara Pizza is one of the few places that you can get an entirely gluten free pizza, as well as pizza made with other food sensitivities in mind (they have lactose free, dairy free and vegetarian/vegan options).
Made with 100% organic ingredients, their products are super-healthy for you and come in half or full sizes (11 inches). Because it’s pre-sliced, it’s super easy to share with others as well.
The Shiekh pizza is made with hummus, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, feta cheese, banana peppers, parsley and fresh uncooked tomatoes. For this taste test, my friends and I went with the gluten free option. Flavourful and spicy, it’s a non-meat option for discerning palettes.
Prices vary depending on the size and product, although it’s important to note that the gluten free option costs an extra $2 and is only available in the full-sized option, which is something that needs to be considered before purchasing if you decide to go with one of those options.
SaltSpring Noodle Bar Small Noodle Box by SaltSpring Noodle Bar (Near the BMO Centre)
Don’t be deceived: Even though we looked at SaltSpring’s small noodle box for this round, you do get a lot of noodles with it and this is a meal that can definitely fill you up. In fact, a few of us were asked to sample their offerings multiple times this week (Best International and Best Alternative Choice), and some of those who began their judging with an item from here first found it difficult to complete the rest of the day’s objectives as they’d start the day off full.
Available in a variety of flavours (pictured above is the Malaysian Peanut, which combines their tasty satay sauce with peanuts and coconut milk), this dish is also one of the best gluten free options you can get on Park, as they are prepared separately to avoid contamination. Also, with SaltSpring, going with the gluten free option does not cost you any extra. That said, only some flavours are gluten free, so make sure you enquire or notify them in advance if that’s what you’re looking for so they can guide you to make the proper choices.
There’s enough to share with some extra forks or chopsticks (help yourselves as the utensils are displayed at the front of the booth), although the ease of shareability is somewhat compromised due to the small size of the container (have napkins available, just in case).
The small sized noodle box retails for $8 and the large for $10.
Chicken Schnitzel by R&R (Near the BMO Centre and Coca-Cola Stage)
A staple out on the Midway, the Chicken Schnitzel booth has been around for as long as I can remember.
A seasoned five ounce natural chicken breast is tenderized, breaded and deep fried and then placed on a freshly baked kaiser bun with lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise.
Having sampled it during the quest for Best International, I called it a chicken burger on steroids and I still stand by that statement.
At $7, I consider it one of the cheaper entrees on the midway, as it’s priced competitively against some of the other burgers, sandwiches and wraps available on Park. It’s enough for a meal on its own, and while there’s enough of it to share with friends, it is a little difficult to do so without a knife or other cutting utility, unless you’re all willing to bite off the same piece.
Deep Fried Pie by Think Sweet Deep Fried Pies (In front of the Big Four Building)
This one won Best Sweet Treat this year, and after trying it myself, it’s easy to see why. Pie crust is stuffed with your choice from a variety of pie fillings (depicted above is blueberry). Deep fried and topped with cinnamon sugar, you have the option of adding soft serve vanilla ice cream on the side.
The portion is large and in my opinion it can be considered a meal on its own. Grab some extra forks, and it’s a dessert that many can enjoy.
The pie itself costs $7 and the optional soft serve ice cream is an extra $2 (bringing it to $9 total if you decide to go that route).
Deep Fried Philly Cheesesteak by Pickle Petes (Near the Stampede Corral)
It’s a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich with all the traditional fixings such as cream cheese and onions, all deep fried (naturally). It was a contender for Best Deep Fried this year too.
Tender, moist and flavourful, this is a sufficient meal for one person. It was popular when I ordered it, and I had to wait about 10 minutes to receive mine.
At $7, again, it’s one of those entrees that’s priced competitively against other items on the Midway. And while the portion seems small at first glance, you do get A LOT of meat. That said, this one is a little harder to share with others without a knife; forks don’t cut it (literally).
Dole Pineapple Whip from Frozen Desserts (Multiple kiosks around Park)
A contender this year for Best Sweet Treat, the Pineapple Whip is another staple on the Midway. Cool, sweet and refreshing, this dessert is fat free. It melts on your tongue and is quite addicting.
It’s available at multiple kiosks on Park and at $4 for a cone or $5 for a cup, it’s priced competitively against some of the other desserts on the Midway, frozen or not. The cup option is easier to share with others using another set of spoons and you do get a lot of the product for the price. It’s my favourite dessert on the Midway next to the mini donuts, and I always make sure to have at least one of these every year.
Mac and Cheese Wedges by the Bulls-Eye Cookshack (Near Nashville North)
I once had a friend who used to work a part-time job at the Stampede during high school, and she’d always make it a point to have the deep fried mac and cheese wedges for breakfast every day she was on duty. She swore by them, and it was one of her Midway favourites.
Another previous contender for Best Deep Fried this year, it’s a simple dish. They’re bite-sized macaroni and cheese wedges dipped in batter and deep fried. Make no mistake though, the cheesy flavour of the mac and cheese shines through, and it instantly invokes the same feelings of comfort you may have had when eating regular mac and cheese at home as a child growing up.
At $5, you get a lot of portions, and it being finger food, makes it easy to share with others. This was my personal favourite for Best Value out of all the items on this list.
Wrap Daddy’s Wrap by Wrap Daddy’s (In front of the Big Four Building)
Their gluten free chicken wrap won Best Alternative Choice this year, although the vendor also offers beef and vegetarian options as well. Depicted above is the gluten free beef wrap.
At $10 per wrap, it’s a sizeable portion no matter which option you go with, and the fillings can easily be shared with others using forks (the tortilla on the other hand, a bit more difficult).
The gluten free variants use a different tortilla as well as minor substitutions for some of the other ingredients. That said, each wrap is made to order, so you know you’re not getting anything that’s been sitting under a heat lamp for a while.
Also, it’s important to note that the gluten free option costs an extra $1 as it isn’t easily displayed on the menu.