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Sky Ranch Argentinian restaurant

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SacredKow Oct 16, 2004 11:29 PM

I had dinner at Sky Ranch, at Dufferin and Castlefield. It's a family-owned place with a classic Argentinian menu, heavy on grilled meats and with some Italian dishes thrown in.

The appetizers were quite good: grilled provolone cheese, excellent beef empanadas, and palm hearts with marinated red peppers and Russian salad. The mains included some hard-to-get meats like molleja (the thyroid gland of the cow, I believe), morcilla (blood sausage), chinchulin (beef or lamb intestins), kidneys, and chorizo (similar to mild Italian sausage) as well as a couple of different cuts of steaks, short ribs, and milanesas (wiener schnitzel made with beef or chicken). There was also some seafood and pastas on the menu but we didn't try them. Decent french fries and salads as sides.

The flan con dulce de leche was great for dessert; other things available are queso y dulce (a thick slice of creamy cheese with a sort of custard made with sweet potato on top), tiramisu, and various crepes (panqueques).

Being Saturday night, there was also live music. The place was packed with a mostly Spanish-speaking crowd.
The service was very informal and friendly but quick.

The price: about $30 per person, including a half-litre of house wine and taxes!

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  1. l
    Louise RE: SacredKow Oct 18, 2004 10:21 AM

    I went there with my Argentinian spouse... the food was good. Word of caution if you want to eat while you eat: get there later than sooner - the band was an hour late the night we went... overall a great experience, though :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Louise
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      Louise RE: Louise Oct 21, 2004 09:35 AM

      ... I should have written "if you want to eat while listening to live music...!"

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      EPIcureanTO RE: SacredKow Dec 27, 2006 03:42 PM

      Just wanted to post a more recent review from my own first visit!

      We went on a Wed, (which, I'm starting to discover, is the best day of the week to go out for dinner)

      It was fabulous. We ordered the mixed grill as described above. Unfortunately we ordered it for two, with appetizers, with a warning from the extremely kind & entertaining hostess/waitress (owners mother I believe) about how much we thought we could eat. And of course she was correct in her advice-we couldn't finish it, so *fortunately* we had lots of leftovers the next day :D

      FOr appetizers had the calamari- lovely, fresh & lightly breaded. As well the Ensalade Rusa (russian potatoe salad) & grilled provolone that was to die for.

      Jut some quick notes about "ambiance"- if you really care about decor, it's a little mixed- late 80's graphic patterned seating, with argeninian/country chotches hanging all over. So if such things bother you, fair warning here. It could use say, a nice fireplace rather than a big screen TV, but apparently it serves it's duty during the day time bar crowd. But night dining lighting is perfect- I can see my food & my dinner date(amazingly enough an oddity in some establishments), complete with candles. (My personal requirement for great dinner dining)

      The location is a little off the beaten track (Bathurst & castfield, near Roselawn), but if you hppen to live in one of the factory turned condos, it's a great spot.

      Definitely going back, as the service was great, the price is right- http://skyranch.sites.toronto.com/

      1 Reply
      1. re: EPIcureanTO
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        fickle RE: EPIcureanTO Mar 24, 2007 07:10 PM

        How's this for ambiance - there was a wedding there tonight!! We went early for dinner (6pm) and notice that half of the restaurant was set up for a large party. About midway through our meal (fantastic empanadas, I love their homemade steak sauce, the single order of parrillada is definitely too much for one so now I'm going to have blood sausage, kidney, sweetbreads, brisket and sausage for breakfast. Yum yum, can't wait!) a large group arrive and the next thing we know, they're performing a wedding ceremony right there in the middle of the dance floor. I felt truly bizarre eating through their wedding but the hostess/owner said it's quite common there. It's redefined my definition of "live entertainment" with dinner ;-)

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        embee RE: SacredKow Dec 27, 2006 06:43 PM

        Big whoops. Sky Ranch is on Dufferin. It's best to go quite late to very late.

        2 Replies
        1. re: embee
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          EPIcureanTO RE: embee Apr 10, 2007 11:51 AM

          Yes,embee- thanks for catching my error- however- their WONDERFULLY done website even has a map!

          Fickle- that's awesome!! What a great idea to get married in a restaurant- think of the money one could save-lol..I'm going to have to try the empanadas next time

          1. re: EPIcureanTO
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            Kikigra1 RE: EPIcureanTO Sep 16, 2007 10:41 AM

            I was at Sky Ranch for the first time on a Saturday, the place was packed of people having a great time. The food was excellent, we had the parrillada for two that really was for 4. The service was like having dinner at home, the servers are friendly and you are welcomed like one of the family. There was also entertainment a group of three that sounded like 20 Havana Express excellent music a mix of Latin, Italian and 60' & 70's music people danced and had a great time. Overall we had a wonderful time surely going back and I suggest everyone to try it. We are going back!!!!!

        2. w
          wickalicious RE: SacredKow Jan 7, 2008 07:14 PM

          Went to Sky Ranch on Saturday night, having seen some good reviews here. It's exactly the kind of place we love to eat in - very unpretentious, with warm service and tasty food. We started with the empanadas - a coarse mince of beef, nicely spiced and then heated on the grill...we ordered 2, and wished we'd ordered 4. :) They brought us a lovely herby sauce with the empanadas (I'm assuming it was chimichurri, but I'd never had it before so I couldn't say for certain) - tasted like a light vinaigrette with parsley, oregano, garlic and rosemary (?). My SO ordered the French onion soup...and while the stock was quite tasty, I can only describe the presentation, as, well - odd. Onion soup topped with a piece of what seemed to be white sandwich bread with a slice of cheese on top, which didn't appear to be melted. Nonetheless, the SO dove in with reckless abandon, and discovered that the soup was plenty hot enough to melt the cheese when submerged.

          The mains were terrific - I had the argentinian grilled steak (churrasco argentina alla parilla) with salad. It was cooked to a perfect medium and nicely marinated. The salad had crisp lettuce and onion, and a couple of unfortunately pink winter tomatoes...but I pretty much just ignore fresh tomatoes when we're not in the sweltering summer, so no great loss there. But my spouse's main with the unquestioned winner of the evening - he had the sauteed diced beef with rice, potatoes and a fried egg (Lomo Saltado con Arroz, Papas y Huevo Frito). The beef was wonderfully tender and a bit saucy, spiced with (I think) garlic, paprika and maybe cumin. It had been pan fried with onions and peppers, and was ladled around a mound of comfortingly soft rice upon which the fried egg was presented. On the edges of the plate were slices of floury yellow potatoes fried crisp at the edges and steaming hot. He basically went to town and ate it rather like bibimbap (breaking up the fried egg and mixing everything together into a sort of hash). Not sure if that was what you're supposed to do with it, but it tasted amazing, with all the contrasts of texture and flavour. It was what my father refers to as 'real food', and what others sometimes disparagingly describe as 'peasant food', but really, it should just be called 'delicious food'.

          We ended with the dulce de leche crepes, and I could have died a damned happy woman right there. The crepes were freshly fried and the dulce de leche was warm and it all combined into a yummy butterscotchy plate of wonderful.

          The service was unrushed...which was only problematic when we were looking for the bill, b/c we were full, content, and in serious danger of falling asleep at the table. Dinner for 2 with 2 empanadas, the soup, 2 mains, 1 dessert and 2 imported beers cost us about $65 (taxes in), which is pretty darn good value for money. We're definitely going back.

          7 Replies
          1. re: wickalicious
            TorontoJo RE: wickalicious Jan 8, 2008 05:14 AM

            Nice review! I love lomo saltado, and will have to try Sky Ranch's version. My favourite is at El Bodegon, a Peruvian place on College. You should visit sometime and do a comparison.

            1. re: TorontoJo
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              wickalicious RE: TorontoJo Jan 8, 2008 07:07 PM

              Will do - El Bodegon is a place that I've been meaning to hit for a couple of years now. Is lomo saltado a dish common to many South American cuisines? Is it the sort of thing that gets re-invented with regional differences? And if so, are there any other places in Toronto where you've found a good rendition of it? I'm a starch fiend, and think I could easily get hooked on this stuff.

              1. re: wickalicious
                TorontoJo RE: wickalicious Jan 9, 2008 04:45 AM

                I actually thought it was a specifically Peruvian dish. I had it at Boulevard Cafe once (I think it was a special, though) and I've looked up recipes for it, thinking to make it at home. Haven't had it anywhere else, though, hence my eagerness to try it at Sky Ranch. It sounds like a slightly different presentation than at El Bodegon, but the basic ingredients are the same. I remember the first time I had it, I thought "potatoes and rice together?" But boy, does it work! The dish at El Bodegon is top of my list for starchy comfort food. And I mix the whole shebang together with the rice, too!

                BTW, get the beef lomo saltado, not the chicken. The chicken version is not as good IMO.

                1. re: TorontoJo
                  mikeb RE: TorontoJo Jan 14, 2008 09:24 AM

                  Just an FYI, there are a couple of places on St Clair that serve lomo saltado. Not sure which is best but you might want to check out El Plebeyo, Dona Luz and El Fogon.

            2. re: wickalicious
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              Yongeman RE: wickalicious Jan 8, 2008 06:32 AM

              That sounds amazing, wick. I have passed that place so many times and have always wanted to go in.

              1. re: wickalicious
                Jacquilynne RE: wickalicious Jan 14, 2008 11:44 AM

                Thanks for that report!

                I went to Sky Ranch with a meetup group once, and we really enjoyed it. There were a few people in the group (it wasn't a group of hounds, for sure!) who were put off by things like blood sausage in the large combination plates, but everything was excellent. They bring the platters our on a grill plate to keep them warm, which meant some things got a little overdone by the time we were finished eating but it was a minor concern.

                1. re: wickalicious
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                  Piggy Smalls RE: wickalicious Jan 16, 2008 10:55 PM

                  el bodegon is pretty good...try el fogon up on st. clair and bathurst their lomo saltado is good as well. el plebeyo is another peruvian restaurant at st. clair and bathurst, but i prefer going there for their jalea, which is amazing. i think el plebeyo might be the same owners as el bodegon? could be mistaken on that though...

                2. s
                  Strongbad789 RE: SacredKow Jan 15, 2008 04:36 AM

                  I went the other night with my girlfriend and thought it was great. The sangria was really good (if a bit on the sweet side), the grilled provolone and the empanada was great, and my lomo saltado was amazing.

                  The only downside was my girlfriend's paella...it was completely tasteless. We asked for it to go (despite not really having any plans to eat it, really just so they wouldn't feel bad that we left most of it) along with the rest of my lomo (the serving sizes are BIG), but when the waitress came back with the food wrapped up she told us that the regular fish cook (the son) was not in that day and that the father had forgotten to add an ingredient to the paella, which explained the lack of taste. She also said that because of this the paella was free.

                  I thought this was really nice because a) she could have kept quiet about it and we wouldn't have said anything, and b) it was the single most expensive thing we ordered at $20. The waitress said (and I believe they really feel this way) that she would much rather have people feel good and come back despite a small mistake than to not say anything, go home, and never return.

                  You really get the feeling that everyone there cares about the food and about you leaving happy, and because of this (and the rest of the food, which was great) we will definitely be returning.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Strongbad789
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                    hungry_pangolin RE: Strongbad789 Jan 15, 2008 03:49 PM

                    Holy crap! Are you sure this place is in Toronto? What customer service is that? On the strength of your story, this place has vaulted up my "to visit" list.

                    1. re: hungry_pangolin
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                      Frank Mack RE: hungry_pangolin Sep 22, 2008 06:57 PM

                      My family stopped in this past Saturday night. We arrived late for the reserved time due to horrible traffic. We called ahead worried about being late and were assured that there were no problems.
                      The food was excellent, Sangria was smooth and very enjoyable. Service was more like visiting a relative's house-very attentive and friendly. A very enjoyable experience, great beef and reasonable prices.
                      We would not hesitate to go back-only regret is that the music started a little earlier, 2130 is a bit late to be starting for some of us older, non Argentine folks.

                    2. re: Strongbad789
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                      idnas RE: Strongbad789 Jan 17, 2008 08:53 AM

                      Good on them for addressing the problem without you even asking. I put this restaurant on my "want to try" list based on the other hounds reviews. This moves it up to the "must try" list. My bet is that they get back much more than $20 as a result of coming your paella.

                      1. re: idnas
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                        foodiemommy RE: idnas Jan 17, 2008 12:25 PM

                        Great to hear that this restaurant still cares about its food and their guests' experience. I used to go quite often when I lived in Toronto and think it might be time to go back.

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                      stapler RE: SacredKow Sep 23, 2008 04:12 AM

                      I was driving by on Sat and noticed it and so glad you posted! I'm def going, is it a good place to take the kids?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: stapler
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                        foodiemommy RE: stapler Sep 23, 2008 11:26 AM

                        Stapler, I think that depends both on the age of the children and what sort of experience you are looking to have. I have no doubt that the owners would be more than welcoming to the entire family; however, if I were to go on a weekend, then I would choose to leave our toddler at home with his grandmother and have a (much-overdue and much-needed) night out with just my husband or a small group of friends. Part of the Sky Ranch experience is certainly the music (which, as other posters have noted, starts late - too late for young kids) and dancing. Enjoy! It's been far too long since we've been.

                        1. re: foodiemommy
                          Teep RE: foodiemommy Sep 28, 2008 08:10 PM

                          Well they are open all day, so you can bring the kids out on an early dinner if you don't care about the live music. M and myself do not, and we were going to be in that area, so we printed out the 15% coupon from toronto.com and went at 5pm. I was a little taken aback to see that they serve regular breakfast like steak and eggs, and fish and chips for lunch. But the dinner menu has all the argentinian items mentioned.

                          Grilled provolone - good, but salty and oily. Would be better shared.
                          Onion soup - first taste was *wow*! but then tasting it more revealed that it probably was from a commercial mix. It's got onions in it but they were still crunchy, no well-cooked morsels of onion in it.
                          Argentinian steak - (skirt steak?) was reported by M to be very good. Served with mashed potatoes and a quarter of an under ripe tomato.
                          Paella - flavourful, came with 3 nice crunchy shrimp, but also frozen kiwi mussels which I hate. Also lots of overcooked shrimp, squid and mussels in the rice. The menu says "chicken and seafood", but unless the chicken was pulverized, there was none detectable. I don't care about it so did not mention it to the older lady serving us.
                          Flan - overcooked egg custard topped with so-so dulce de leche.

                          Service is friendly, really mom-and-pop feel. Not a bad meal, but I wouldn't go across town to try it just for the food. Note, the waitress said if you want to go for the music, and arrive without a reservation at 8, you won't be able to get in.

                          1. re: Teep
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                            mrmoshe RE: Teep Mar 17, 2009 08:02 PM

                            I was there tonight and ordered the T-bone steak medium. It tasted great, the beef was tender and melted in my mouth. The cost was about $30 including a drink. I would definitely return as the service is friendly and welcoming. If you like good steak you have to try this place.

                      2. t
                        Toronto Fastfoodie RE: SacredKow Jan 23, 2010 07:22 PM

                        Go for the steak. Not for the decor, not for the service, and not for the conversation you will be not be having with your dinner companions should you go while there is live music playing. But if you want a great steak at a great price, go.

                        Don't go for the crepes because on a Sat. night, the kitchen is too busy (?) so they won't make them.

                        P.S. They do not give free tap water in glasses; you can only buy bottle of water.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie
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                          Letsdolunch RE: Toronto Fastfoodie Jan 24, 2010 06:16 PM

                          This place is an absolute gem! Wonderful service, and the best value in the city. The Argentinian Steak is flavourful and delicious for $16.90, and if you are brave, try the mixed grill - just watch out for the sweet bread! The brisket is outstanding.
                          The Mixta salad is fresh and tasty, and even something simple like their chicken in lemon sauce is fantastic.

                          -----
                          Sky Ranch
                          2473 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6B3P9, CA

                          1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie
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                            mikefly RE: Toronto Fastfoodie Feb 3, 2010 09:38 AM

                            Re: tap water - unless I miss my guess, that's illegal.

                            1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie
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                              froglegs RE: Toronto Fastfoodie Feb 5, 2010 01:12 PM

                              what kind of restaurant does not serve tap water? are you sure?
                              that is weird.
                              cheap too.
                              and yeah.......possibly illegal.

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                              evansl RE: SacredKow Feb 5, 2010 03:00 AM

                              This place is predictably overrated here because it is "family run." As soon as see the word's to that effect, you should down grade the reviews 50%.

                              Anyway, I went there and it was OK, perhaps a bit above average and a passable neighborhood place. I would bother if it's more than 20 minutes away

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: evansl
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                                mrbluemeanie RE: evansl Feb 5, 2010 06:27 AM

                                Haven't been here yet, but I have been meaning to drop in. My wife works in the area and we drive by every morning to see a flock...gander?.. Murder?... of pigeons eating yesterdays bread at the front entrance. I mean if the pigeons like it..it's gotta be good, no? I'm not suggesting that they serve Pigeon either, but if they did, I'd be sure to go. I had pigeon at au pied du cochon, enjoyed it thoroughly. But I have to say evansl, the idea that Family run restaurants are all 50% overrated has to be one of the craziest things I've read on this site. You're funny.

                                1. re: evansl
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                                  Salamanca RE: evansl Jan 8, 2012 09:31 AM

                                  Overrated, indeed! I was there yesterday with my family and I was not as impressed as the reviews would indicate. The band started an hour later than announced and the music was so so. They don’t serve tap water (it’s true!): only bottled water. When I asked if they had wine with no sulfites the waitress didn’t have a clue about it. There were no pancakes because it was Saturday. There was only flan and some sort of ice cream because they are busy in the kitchen! They would not even serve “queso y dulce” either, which requires no preparation. I found it quite limiting. I was particularly ticked off when they refused to honour the coupon we printed from the Internet (15% off). The waitress explained that it does not apply for Saturdays, which would be OK if only they’d indicate it on the Website. The empanadas were good but barely warm, and also the parrillada. We had to wait a while until it got hot enough on the hot platter. The ambiance is nice but nothing to write home about. The hosts are friendly but not very helpful. In other words, I didn’t find it the gem the other patrons are raving about.

                                  -----
                                  Sky Ranch
                                  2473 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6B3P9, CA

                                2. Moimoi RE: SacredKow Oct 12, 2012 05:39 PM

                                  I too drive by this place every morning and night to and from work, and have been absolutely dying to try it. I can tell, without even going in, that it's a "family-owned" type resto, vs. a corporate chain, and I know to order Argentinian food when I'm at an Argentinian restaurant if I want to fully appreciate the experience... To deviate from the specialty to another continent or genre of cooking is always a mistake. I recognize that the vibe of a place like this isn't the same as a large chain resto so I know to adjust my expectations accordingly... I also recognize that it's a place that is going to be frequented by real people and families vs. corporate or boutique hotel types, so I will go with the flow. That's my speech and pledge for tonight. I hope to have post-resto comments at some point in the near future if I haven't annoyed anyone yet.

                                  1. Davwud RE: SacredKow Oct 15, 2012 08:34 AM

                                    I just realized I hadn't replied to this thread.

                                    A few years back I visited this place with an Argentinian who was living in TO at the time. He's been before and liked it and when I suggested it he was certainly up for it.

                                    Anyway, we ordered a nice big platter of stuff (His wife had Veal Parm I think) and we really enjoyed it. Omar (The Argentinian) proclaimed it a 7 out of 10.

                                    DT

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Davwud
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                                      ngmatthe RE: Davwud Oct 23, 2012 09:07 AM

                                      Considering the lack of any good alternative, this place is actually not bad. The chimichurri can be a bit off depending on the batch you manage to eat, but the parillada is decent. My only complaint is that the morcilla seems to be more portuguese style.

                                      One word of caution though, they are very stingy in terms of determining portion sizes for group orders (for the picada and the parillada). If you have multiples beyond 2 people, they will add more food but not proportionate to the price increase. Not that youll be able to finish it all, but considering the price it should at least provide an additional equal portion.

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