We had visited the old Swiss Chalet location in Sarnia on an occasional basis over a 30 year period. It seemed to me that in the last few years I didn’t get the same satisfaction there as in years past.
So when the new location opened further west on London Road in the Fall of 2010, we visited in the Christmas season, looking for some kind of improvement. Instead, it was one of the worst restaurant experiences I’ve had – indifferent greeting, dirty table, careless waitress, mixed up order, swearing through the door from the kitchen staff. I said I never wanted to return.
But now a year later, my wife, who had always liked the Swiss Chalet chicken and ribs, wanted to give it another chance. I was curious to see if it was still so bad, so we gave it a try.
Parking at the front was tight. The restaurant was busy but not full. There was a group ahead of us waiting to be seated. The greeter was a young woman, very casual about her duties. I watched her lead people towards their tables, drop the menus before they were seated, and then quickly return to the front without saying very much to them. It’s so important for the greeter to make a good first impression. Why didn’t they give her better training? Our waitress arrived soon enough. All the waitresses seemed to be friendly and pretty casual: “What would you guys like?
I had the cup of chicken soup ($2.99) and a sandwich – the Hickory Rotisserie Chicken Flatbread ($7.49). My wife had the Half Rack BBQ Special ($15.99).
The soup came quickly. It was not as good as I remember and it was just warm, not hot. The rest of our order came 25 minutes after we arrived. That’s bordering on slow service, although the waitresses were busy, and I got a drink refill when she noticed my glass was empty. Soft drinks ($2.59) were not in a particularly large glass.
My sandwich started off okay, but by the time I was eating the second half, I didn’t think it was so great. I wished that I’d ordered the ribs like my wife. She got a generous serving. She couldn’t eat them all, and gave me three ribs, which I really enjoyed.
The lighting in the new place was as bright as a highway rest stop but it seems to lack the warm atmosphere of the old place. The washrooms (the Men’s anyway) were very spacious, well lighted and clean. It’s family dining so that means kids, and they mean messes. I noticed under one table that the floor messy with a napkin, French fry, and a crayon. They should have been swept up. Instead, someone else was seated there.
We were in and out in just under an hour. Total cost for two before tip was $ 32.84 which was higher than I thought it would be. We’ve had better food and service at most Sarnia bar and grills for the about same price.
My experience has improved on the second visit to the new Swiss Chalet from “terrible’ to “mmmh, okay, I guess’”. The place was busy but not full on Tuesday night at supper time.
My wife and a few people we know really like Swiss Chalet chicken and ribs. I’d go back with them if that’s where they wanted to go. For myself, alone? Nahhh !
They have an on-line menu (prices not listed unless you download) and take-out is available.