This summer I wrote, in a post titled Angels: Fear to Tread, about our experiences at Angels Restaurant in Charlottetown. A month later, owner Ken Zakem called me, apologized for our bad experiences, and asked us to come back.
Tonight we did. Man, what a difference.
Service was friendly — among the best host and server we’ve ever had. The food came at just the right time, was hot, and well-prepared. There were crayons for Oliver, and an orange balloon too. There was a baby change table in the men’s washroom (the only one in town?), and a stool to help little kids reach the taps for the sink too (the only one I’ve ever seen in a restautant!).
I started off with a seafood chowder. It was piping hot (the baseline for judging good chowder), with fresh ingredients, a nice hearty feel on the spoon, and it just plain tasted good. Catherine had the french onion soup, which she found a little too cheesy, but nonetheless a good choice.
For the main course, I had the scallop dinner, which included oven roasted potatoes (which, if memory serves, I didn’t like the first time out, but this time were fantastic), perfectly cooked vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower) and pan-fried scallops in a creamy onion/bacon sauce. Very tasty. Catherine had the pepper steak, which she ordered rare and which came to the table rare (which, apparently, is rare, so to speak); she said it was very good. She had the same vegetables and potatoes, and enjoyed them as much as I did.
Oliver had a nice plate of dinosaur chicken fingers and zingly curly fries, served with catsup and sweet and sour sauce. He also polished off a large dinner roll. He appeared to enjoy the fries, but, I think, felt a little weird about eating the head off a chicken dinosaur. The apple juice he ordered came in a little cup, with a big straw, which is evidence that Angels knows about kids. Oliver’s meal was $3.00. Which means they know about parents.
For dessert we all had cheesecake, Catherine the butterscotch, me the chocolate, and Oliver far too much of both (he kept leaping across the table to two-time us on cheesecake access): death by sugar, as you might expect, but smooth and creamy, with generous gallops of topping. We also ordered tea, which was served with some sort of ingenious innovative drawstring bag.
Our server was everpresent without being cloying; she was kind to Oliver without being Mrs. Falbo. Oliver was rambunctious and vocal throughout the meal, but there was never a hint that we weren’t welcome.
And the room just plain felt nice — the kind of restaurant space that we don’t really have in Charlottetown much (the Town and Country comes closest): not pretentious, not “family style,” not “fast casual.” Just a nice place to take the family for dinner.
God, they say, is in the details. And by taking care of almost every one of those details, from washroom stools to liberal application of chocolate on the cheesecake, Ken Zakem has elevated Angels from a moribund confusion in an old car dealership into a first class “every once in a while” place to eat. Congratulations, Ken: we’ll be back.