Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Nov 5, 2004 10:22 AM

Lee Restaurant Experience

  • b

Just had dinner for two at Lee last night. It wasn't as rushed as I expected it and they must have taken note of recent reviews because the food was delivered in good order with no more than two dishes on the table at once. No doubt the food was delicious, very well presented and service was decent. I will say if you go in with any sort of appetite be prepared to order at least 6 dishes a piece not including dessert. We had two soups, two vegetable dishes, two fish dishes, two meets and two deserts and I walked out of there with a great taste in my mouth but a hunger in my belly. Although I may have a pretty big appetite and I didn't expect to come out stuffed but I did expect to be full and hunger satisfied after spending $160 (two glasses of wine each). Unfortunately I wasn't and I had to buy a large chocolate chip cookie (that's all they were selling) at the Rat Pack to get me through until intermission. So the dishes were very tasty and cool to see Susur walk through a couple of times and stop by some tables but I'm going to need a little more bang for my buck.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I was also at Lee last night with a party of 3. Our reservations were at 8pm and we were seated promptly. We were all pretty excited and hungry and happy to hear that the server recommended that we order 3 dishes per person. We ended up ordering 10 dishes and were really looking forward to begin our culinary experience.
    I will say that the food was phenomenal and wonderfully executed, balanced between taste and texture. The only thing that I will say that our dishes came out REALLY slow. We got them 1 at a time, and we knew something wasn't right. After the first dish (mushroom dumplings), being as hungry as we were, it didn't take us long to mow it down. Then 5 minutes passed, 10, then 15...that's when our 2nd dish came (chicken wings). The same followed suit with the rest of our dishes (coming one a time - garlic shrimp, braised beef, black cod, potato croquette, pork tenderloin, matchstick potatos, crab, lentils). By the time the last of our 10 dishes were served, we lost interest, due to the length of time we had to wait in between each dish. Perhaps we caught them on a night where they were short staffed, but we were still disappointed by the pace of service (it was drawn out in 2 hours!).
    I will definitely go again, but anyone who thinks that it's less expensive that Susur is wrong. Our bill came to $80 per person (including tax and tip). It all adds up!
    Susur came to our table later and asked what we thought about the food, which I thought was a great gesture. It was interesting how he talked about how the food at Lee was heavily influenced by South East Asian cuisine.
    Like I said, perhaps I caught them on a slow night but I would still highly recommend eating there.

    6 Replies
    1. re: DimSum
      Alek in Toronto

      I have heard mixed reviews about LEE. I have not been yet and kinda turned off of going.

      I wonder why people in Toronto accept subpar " slow" service at a restaurant where they are paying $80-90 per person????

      I have some friends that went a few nights ago and they had a reservation and when they arrived at the door were told that they had to leave in 90 mins..that alone makes me not want to go...I know they are popular but where is the customer service????
      They stayed but also noted the service was slow and kinda indifferent..opinion was that the food was interesting but not all of it tasted good.

      I have eaten at Susur and my opinion is that it is more loved by food snobs then real people. Lee kinda sounds the same.


      1. re: Alek in Toronto
        Judith Gorman

        I had a similar mixed experience at Lee. When I arrived, although we had a reservation, they would not seat me until the whole party arrived. Since it was early, and the restaurant almost empty, I found this off-putting. Also, as we were about to pay the bill, they reminded us that we would have to leave by a certain time.

        The food was good but the portions small and as others found not we were not completely sated considering the cost. I'd rather go to Lalot where the food is less precious, but delicious.

        1. re: Judith Gorman

          Previously Lotus, now both Susur and Lee must be the most overly rated "Fusion" restaurants in Toronto!! Plate presentation aside, a lot of the dishes are just variation of typical traditional Chinese dishes charged at 5-10X prices. Dishes might taste impressive and exotic to most Westerners, but for Orientals, the use of ingredients such as fermented black beans, five spice powder, hoi-sin sauce etc., in some of their dishes to enhance 'so-call' taste sensation are no more EXOTIC than the use of tomato sauce in Italian cooking. To spend 'that' amount of money, I will head out to Splendido, Senses, Perigee or George instead.

        2. re: Alek in Toronto
          Judith Gorman

          I had a similar mixed experience at Lee. When I arrived, although we had a reservation, they would not seat me until the whole party arrived. Since it was early, and the restaurant almost empty, I found this off-putting. Also, as we were about to pay the bill, they reminded us that we would have to leave by a certain time.

          The food was good but the portions small and as others found, we were not completely sated considering the cost. I'd rather go to Lalot where the food is less precious, but delicious.

          1. re: Alek in Toronto

            I posted below last week about my first exerience at Susur, but it is worth reiterating on this post: great food, good service (a little impersonal), but at $400 for a meal I expect to be able to linger and not be given a 2 hour time limit.

            They were subtle about it, but we were very conscious of the clock....

          2. re: DimSum
            Vinnie Vidimangi

            Thanks for the warning. If we go we will pack a picnic.

            Lee's gesture in the context of his "presentation" is one of noblesse oblige to his villeins and offensive as such. A sincere fullfillment of the obligations flowing from the status of lord restaurateur towards those beholden - the customers- is to produce a satisfying meal, and at a price that would enable more people to come more often. Its time to cast off the iron feedbag.


          3. j
            James Jordan

            I booked a table for Susur's restaurant "LEE" at 603 King St W. for dinner this weekend. Even after reading all the terrible reviews on his new restaurant with the horrible servers, I decide to go (read If you want a Seinfeld Soup Nazi experience, this is the place for you. Just doing my part to warn others about this horrid place.

            Before we even have our coats off the waitress is hammering us to take our drink orders. We order some drinks to start. A Blue Dragontail cocktail, a Red Dragontail cocktail, glass of red wine, and a Cosmo Martini. The waitress asks us to order right away, we haven't had a chance to look at the menu yet, but she insists we order first. I ask her to bring our drinks back first. She's like.. you only have 2 hours to eat. We're fine with that. She brings back the drinks a few minutes later and it’s pretty sad. It was pretty much blue juice in a champagne glass; the glasses had no garnish whatsoever. $9 blue stuff half filled champagne glass that was hard to drink to be exact. Susur is supposed to be such a man of detail I understand.. the glasses had no garnish whatsoever, the cutlery was dirty, the candle holder was cracked and chipped, and the two pink tables we had were wobbly.

            She asks if we're ready, and we aren't because someone had to put some more money in the parking meter. She again reminds us of the two hour time limit and that time is ticking. Again, I say.. yes we know. My friend comes back from putting in more money in the meter and the waitress immediately comes back to our table ready to take our order. The poor guy hasn't even taken off his coat and she asks what he'll like. He's like I haven't even taken my coat off, let alone open the menu. She says "If you keep this up, you people will have no time for dessert." She looks at her watch and says "You have 1 hour and 40 minutes left for this table." I tell her to give us 2 more minutes. Anyways after she walks away, we decide we're eating elsewhere. I ask this Filipino-looking fellow if he's the manager, he says Yes, I am. I tell him that we felt rushed and hurried. This was no way to enjoy ones self.. this dinner was supposed to be a celebration for us. Everyone had something to celebrate marriage/job promotion/birthday, etc.

            The manager says "Yes, that’s the way we operate. Two hours per seating." No apology, just stating that LEE Restaurant only allows two hours per seating. We ask for the bill... we weren't planning to eat a restaurant where they were going to rush and hurry us through a meal. Susur himself pops his head into the dining room twice while I was there. Funny thing is no one even cared. I think he was pleased to see the dining room full. But hey open your eyes guy.. you have lots of pissed off customers because your staff are money hungry jerks. Sorry, but our $600 we were going to spend was spent elsewhere on King St. that night. As we walked out I looked in Susur, the other restaurant. Nice to see only 3 tables inside, but I'm sure the service is much better at SUSUR then his money trap LEE. Having worked in the Hospitality industry for many years I undersand all about 'turning tables over', etc.. but the entire front staff at Lee need to be fired at this poor excuse of a restaurant.

            Ambience: 2/4
            Service: -1
            Food: N/A
            Value: N/A

            2 Replies
            1. re: James Jordan

              I suppose there's been a lot of inconsistency in the service and I can appreciate that sole fact as an issue of contention.

              However, I don't think Lee's deserves all the bad press that it has been getting lately and I'd like to offer up my great dining experience at Lee's.

              I had dinner at Lee's last night (as part of winterlicious - kind of - since they were serving their regular menu anyways and were only adding a $60 coupon for some shops on Queen West).

              I was informed of the 2 hr time limit upfront at the time of reservation. Our reservation was the first sitting at 6pm. However, we did not feel pressed for time during our meal...except for the fact that we kept running out of table real estate from all the food we had ordered. This was not due to rushed service, we simply slowed down due to the vast amount of food - I blame the women of the table for not eating fast enough - ha ha. Some people might call that a form of time pressure, but I would not fault the kitchen/server for that - as a whole I acknowledge that my friends and I eat slower than the average group. We were not even asked if we "wanted anything else" until 2.5Hrs from when we had arrived and after a respectable pause after our dessert dishes had been cleared - well beyond our 2 hr limit (none of us had bothered to check our watches). The restaurant was full and very busy but by the time we had settled the bill and received our coats, almost 3 hrs had passed.

              I'd also mention that the service was great too. Although the restaurant was packed, our server took the time to properly introduce each new dish to each side of the table (since the other end could not hear him) when they were presented. He even knew the 19 ingredients that went into the singapore slaw (an issue noted earlier by another poster) and tossed each one for our tables.

              As a side note, I remember reading a post about someone spending $100 per person and still feeling hungry....I don't understand how that can happen. We followed our server's suggestion of 3 dishes per person (there was 8 of us)and ordered a total of 27 (I know the math is wrong!)dishes for dinner, 6 of us ordered a dessert dish afterwards, there was one bottle of wine, 2 cocktails, 1 glass of wine, an espresso and ice water that was continually being refilled. All that including tax and tip came to $80 per person - and we took home 6 containers of leftovers because we couldn't finish all our dishes - and the food was fabulous - just a little too much though. My favourites were the duck confit crepes, the singapore slaw, the jerk calamari and the lamb chops.

              This was our first visit to Lee's and I would definitely return given the quality of both the food and the service we received last night.

              1. re: QC

                I went to Lee in January 2005. I was also rushed and hurried even though we had ordered 12 dishes between the 2 of us. I'm not sure why you were allowed more then 2 hours to dine.. count yourself as very fortunate. Lee deserves the bad reviews, every last one of them.

            2. Finally, I think I have found like minded Chow friends.. I dined at Lee a couple of weeks ago and had, (surprise, surprise)similar experiences in all aspects. I walked out with my buddy and left no tip I was so disgusted. WILL NEVER RETURN. Now, how can I hook up with some of you (joanna/QC/james joradan)and try and find together a great place to dine in the city?? !! Great write up's on that over rated cash printing snob house Lee! Dining out should be first about the food, and they lack there, then about the service and that stinks and finally, atmosphere, and that too is mediocre.. hardly comfortable.. I saw Susur's wife on TV and she's not a friendly lady.. kinda cold like her restaurant decor.

              1. The original comment has been removed