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Cool Runnings Restaurant

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A little over a month ago, Michelle and I went to check out Cool Runnings Restaurant on Main Street. We had passed by it a couple times in the summer coming back from the beach with our three dogs and I had read a couple of good reviews of the place too.

We went for a late dinner on a Tuesday night and the place was pretty quiet, but they did have the occasional person come in for pick-up orders. It's a small place – I wouldn't call it "cozy" but it's definitely an inviting place with a strong sense of community – I would bet that the majority of their business is repeat customers from long ago…

Before sitting down and committing to anything, we asked to see a menu (mostly to make sure we could get Ox Tail) – their prices seemed reasonable, or you could say, average for a small family restaurant – perhaps just a little towards the pricey side, but still very reasonable. The service was courteous and attentive – satisfactory is the word that comes to mind… While there was nothing about the service that would inspire me to ever go back, there was also nothing offensive about the service that would rule out a repeat visit…

Service Rating: 2½ stars
Glass of Ting at Cool Runnings Restaurant
Ting in a Glass

Though I had already ordered in my mind by the time I sat down (I knew I was going to have the Ox Tail), I still had a good look through the menu to see what else they offered – I decided to order some jerk chicken wings off their appetizer menu.

Jerk Chicken Wings Appetizer at Cool Runnings Restaurant
Jerk Chicken Wings Appetizer

The jerk chicken wings were actually a terrible start to the meal. I've had jerk chicken many times before, but these wings were super greasy and were oozing oil onto the plate. You could tell that they were reheated in a microwave, probably from frozen, and were definitely a couple days old. While some parts of the chicken wings were soft and falling apart and had lost all texture, other parts were hard and chewy – freezer burn maybe? Not a good start at all. (And yes, they were spicy – maybe too spicy for most people's taste, but I'm used to it.)

Ox Tail at Cool Runnings Restaurant
Ox Tail at Cool Runnings Restaurant

Ox Tail always puts a smile on my face and I'm always interested in tasting the subtle differences in the recipes of various establishments. I can't help but to compare it to other places – that's normal, no?

Well, the Ox Tail at Cool Runnings was probably the worst I've ever had, but to their credit, I like to think that I've been spoiled with great Ox Tail… Don't get me wrong, there was nothing wrong or offensive with the Ox Tail (unlike the chicken wings) but there was just nothing about it that would ever make me want to go back. In fact, I remember sitting there with Michelle and both of us saying to each other that next time, it's probably worth the long subway ride to go up to Albert's Real Jamaican Foods on St. Clair & Vaughan…

The coleslaw that came with the Ox Tail was actually really good though and probably the best thing on the plate. The rice and peas, however, that's a whole other story. If I had to guess, I'd say they made some Uncle Ben's Minute Rice in the microwave (with lots of butter) and then mixed in the beans afterwards – it's much better when you actually make the rice together with the beans…

Food Rating: 2 stars

I was really hoping that Cool Runnings would be stellar since it's so close to home, but in the end, Michelle and I decided it really is worth making a trip out to Albert's next time… Too bad. (In fact, I remember we agreed that even just a plate of rice and peas from Albert's, with no Ox Tail, would be worth the trip. Add Ox Tail to the mix and there's no contest…)

Overall Rating: 2½ stars

Cool Runnings Restaurant
146 Main Street
Toronto, ON
+1 (416) 693-8724