As Longo’s Ambassador and Chief CheapEater, I figured it was my duty to try out their prepared foods, especially since their current marketing is promoting Take it – Make it – Learn it (ready-to-eat, ready-to-cook, and how to cook). So I recruited my partner-in-CheapEats Gerry and we spent a day at Longo’s eating every meal – breakfast, lunch and dinner – from their kitchens. A day of Longo’s Meals.
The ready-to-eat meals Longo’s prepares are made using the same ingredients they sell in the store, including the Taste Ontario products and produce, so it seemed to be a fun way to check out what they’d do with the products on their own shelves.
Besides, you all know I publish CheapEats Restaurant Guides and I figured at least a couple of you have been waiting to hear what I thought of Longo’s prepared meals a la CheapEats.
Here’s how the day panned out in our Longo’s Meets CheapEats Day
Gerry and I wandered into Longo’s Maple Leaf Square location (MLS) down by the ACC around 9am with our Longo’s card in hand to snag breakfast at their breakfast buffet. There isn’t much promotion about this in their magazine or on their site I assume because it’s only available at their MLS store, but the hot and salad buffet are open from 8am-10:30am serving breakfast options. It’s a weigh and pay option at $1.99/100g.
We both went for the breakfast buffet since it was the obvious, quickest and most interesting option. (Otherwise it would have been pastries or pieces of fruit for breakie.)
Lex got: apple crepe, eggs, bacon, fruit, hashbrowns
Everything was okay, though I wouldn’t get the apple crepe again since they were bland, okay but bland. The best thing on my plate was the fruit which was juicy, fresh and flavourful. The best thing on Gerry’s plate was the quinoa salad.
It came to: $7.16 & $7.36 for a total of $16.41 for the pair
Plate envy prize goes to: Gerry
Since the prepared coffee and tea options at Longo’s are Starbucks, I broke those out separately: $4.86
An interesting note: Starbucks at MLS offers both the standard Starbucks food items, but also a selection of house-made Longo’s pastries which are a better choice in my opinion!)
Gerry noted – you can collect Longo’s points at the Starbucks in Longo’s, which increases the value.
Then we settled into the Loft for a little working time. Unfortunately the WIFI is still flaky, even with the Longo’s team working hard to make it work for me so I wouldn’t write this sentence. But it’s flaky and it’s best not to count on it working for you. [Note: since writing this, I have successfully worked for 2 hours straight on the WIFI at the Loft.]
After much fussing about and finally getting some work done, we decided it was lunch time. Primarily because the Loft and Corks was getting packed with people eating their lunch and we couldn’t just sit there watching all this great food without having some ourselves.
Options for lunch included the weight-and-pay buffet again, sushi, fresh pizzas, soups, a selection of fresh made sandwiches at the hot meal station, but also at the deli counter in the store (where they also had house-smoked meats which were very appealing), and some interesting looking pre-packaged salads.
After a fair amount of back and forth trying to decide what to have for lunch, we missed out on the Red Pepper Bisque (too slow!)
Gerry got: Wicked Thai Chicken soup, and an assemble it yourself sandwich made from a fresh baguette from bakery, Blue d’Auvergne from the cheese department, and Cherry Pink Corned Beef sliced from the deli. (Plenty for more than one sandwich.)
and we shared a jug of apple cider.
Note: you can have the pizza Mon-Wed w/ a pint of beer for $10 anytime from 11am-10pm.
Everything for lunch was great.
Gerry’s Wicked Thai Chicken Soup was really tasty with lots of flavour from it’s coconut base, chicken, mushrooms and basil and just enough heat to justify the “Wicked”. The DIY sandwich option was a great choice, and we’ve actually used it again when were were jumping a train for quick in transit dinner option.
However, the pizza was the real winner here. For $6.99 I got a 10” pizza with lots of toppings and great big chunks of fresh peppers and mushrooms and tasty pepperoni. I even let Gerry have a slice and we still had another piece to take home.
It came to: $23.83
Plate envy prize goes to: Lex
Our afternoon was spent working on offline activities and doing some planning. The Loft really is a great place to sit and have conversations or meetings. In the afternoon it’s busy enough you don’t stand out, and quiet enough you can have some privacy.
Then we went to cruise around the store looking for items for the last giveaway. It was really interesting having Gerry with me since the things he shops for are different than the ones I shop for. He took me straight to the Cheese Counter and Becky.
Gerry added: Soooo much cheese it made me tharn.
We didn’t end up getting anything since we both still had a LOT of work to do, but next time for sure!
After an afternoon of work, and exploring the store in great detail, it was time to have dinner.
Given the WIFI situation, we decided to get dinner to go and eat at home where we could finish up the work we needed to do that day.
Dinner options were perhaps the hardest meal of the day for us. The $6/$8/$10 options are very appealing since you select your entree (this is what sets the price of your meal) and then 2 sides and the options are interesting and plentiful.
For dinner we decided that the best choice, for us, was to get one of the Heat & Eat meals and take them home. (Which is kind of cheat since there isn’t really a way to heat these up and eat them AT Longo’s, but we did it anyway)
Gerry got: Double pork chop with steamed rapine and feta rice – mmmmmm
Lex got: a stuffed chicken breast with feta rice and a tomato boccoccini salad.
It came to: $6 each! And the other for $8 ($15.82 together without a beverage)
Plate envy prize goes to: Gerry for shear volume of food. The double pork chop was big to start with and then was stuffed full of stuffing! My chicken was good, flavourful, moist and interesting and it was great value. But that double pork chop is a winner!
So all told, a day of meals from Longo’s for 2 came to: $60.92
Best Food We Ate: probably the pizza, it was outstanding! Though everything we had for lunch and dinner was very good!
Best Value Meal: Dinner, even if we added in a drink, it would still have won. It was a solid dinner meal!
Best Meal: Dinner again, though lunch was a close runner up.
Gerry added: the space was really nice. Great food. So many specials and so much variety.
Gerry is still going on about that dinner! It was a fantastic value for a great meal.
Note: this post is part of my Longo’s Taste Ontario Ambassador series. For more information on my relationship with Longo’s read about my Foodie Adventure: Longo’s Taste Ontario Ambassador! and my disclosure statement