Sick of overpriced, trendy, rude service ripoff restos
Okay, I'm all for great food. But things are getting out of hand in this town. Lately I've been winding up at this or that place because a bunch of other people think it's THE PLACE TO GO. Examples include The Rushton (good service, but food just okay for the $$, but not horribly overpriced in all fairness. Nonetheless nothing on the menu is that adventurous or original, making this merely a trendspot just like Ferro - across the street, same owner), and then Czehoski, which I was downright insulted at the portion-cost ratio, not to mention that the food is just a notch above average.
So now, I want to compile a list of really good places that have quality and value. While Susur is very good, it's too expensive and I have no desire to go back as a result. Plus, service there is rather pretentious and upsales-y, which I never enjoy.
Here's the first of my list in no particular order. Please help by adding to it!!! BTW, a place doesn't necessarily have to be super-cheap to be on the list. Here goes:
-Sugar Cafe (the owner Suzanne knows service and she is incredibly generous. I will be her customer as long as she is in business)
-Fressen (okay, a little pricey for vegan, but sooo tasty - chef even gave me a recipe once!!)
-Pulp Kitchen (best veggie burger in the city)
-New Generation Sushi (had a fire, hope they're coming back soon!!)
-Dante's (Richmond Hill)
-Me Va Me (Israeli salad is delish!!)
HELP! Make this more comprehensive. I know I know more, but none come to mind as I write this...
If you enjoy Indian food, I would recommend Kamasutra on Bayview, just North of Davisville. The food is delicious!
If you're looking for a place to impress with, I recommend 1055 (www.1055.ca) Although trendy and pretty expensive, the food quality and portions are second to none, and the service is never pretentious...I'm a blue collar guy, and was impressed by the fact that they treated me the same as their "upscale" clientele. The soups are incredible, served into a bowl at your table from a silver tureen. I also would also recommend the sweet potato ravioli with sage brown butter, pecans, and fresh basil...divine!
Thank you for your comments. Keeping your recommendations in mind. I second La Vecchia, Dante. Next to La Vecchia, Green Papaya : they don't even serve crab in season and they are not gracious one bit. My suggestions, North of Steeles: Terra at 8199 Yonge Street is very good but pricey. Tutto Bene (next plaza south) is just as good and more reasonable. Me Va Me (Bathurst & Steeles) is family oriented and can be very busy (because it's a good spot!). In the same district (Thornhill) I found Cynthia's to be very disappointing (service and food). Should you be looking (in the same area) for good spots where to have breakfast & lunch, I would recommend : Cora Cora : Casual but very good. Very busy mostly on w-e.-- Centre Street Deli (905-731-8037) where they cut the smoked meat by hand to your taste. Their salad platters are gargantuesque and delicious (av. $10). For $20 you get a full box of (fresh) assorted party sandwiches to take-out. The place is always packed and noisy but it should not be missed. -- Midtown TO: skip the Sunset Gril (corner of Roehampton and Yonge) as well as the Alize (2459 Yonge). A few steps from Yonge and Broadway, there is Mars: cramped but very good, friendly and reasonable. Millie is very good. White linen, excellent service, a bit pricey. Zee Grill (641 Mt Pleasant Rd (416) 484-6428) serves excellent seafood (zeegrill.com) - Should you want to know more, ask !
Thank you to all for the suggestions. The first list below is an alphabetical compilation of suggestions made by everyone who responded. Please continue to add and I will try to revise the list periodically.
The following restos seem to rate high in terms of quality, value for money and service:
Akasaka (Hwy 7/Leslie) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Athena Bakery (Danforth)
Ding Tai Fung (First Markham Place R.Hill)
Elegantview (dim sum, Victoria Park/McNichol)
Fressen HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Harbour Sports Grill
Jim Chai Kee
Lees Thai (Danforth/Coxwell)
Live Organic Food Bar
Mata Hari Grill (Indonesion, Baldwin)
Me Va Me
Millies Bistro & Gourmet Market (name was just changed to Millies Tapas, a more accurate description of this great establishment)
New Generation Sushi (Bloor)
New Sky (Chinese, Spadina)
Pho Huoang (College)
Roccos Plum Tomato (Id also like to add Mamma Martinos, similar casual Italian nearby on Queensway)
Saigon Star (Vietnamese/Thai Richmond Hill)
Soul Food (Lansdowne)
Tastys (Denison St. in Markham)
The Corner House
Tre Fontaine (operate in spring/summer only, closed in winter)
Tulip Diner (best steak for $$ and competes in quality with high-end steakhouses)
VIP Restaurant (First Markham Place R.Hill)
Zucca Trattoria (Yonge/Eglinton) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
These may have issues in terms of price and so I put 'em in a separate category)
-Baton Rouge (like The Keg, for about the same money, why not go to a non-chain for a better meal?)
-Jump - pricey?
-Sushi Kaji very expensive, but great quality
-Hollywood Gelato (cuz its dessert only)
-Mildred Pierce trendy, and a bit pricey, but good
-Dantes (stick with the pizza, all else is huge portion, but not great on quality). For years, Dante has put a trite message on the menus reading: Sometimes paying a little more is worth it his justification of why one should feel okay paying $25 for a medium pizza (superior ingredients, etc). For years, $20-$25 was expensive for a pizza, but when you consider that today, chain pizza delivery costs the same or more after delivery charges, etc, Dantes doesnt seem like a gouge.
-Cha Liu expensive Dim Sum, but pretty tasty and fresh. Try the new place a few doors north Happy Buddha Chinese Vegetarian Restaurant
-Edward Levesques Kitchen can be pricy and at times rude service. To me, comfort food involves feeling comfortable across the board!
Ouzeri rather pricey Greek
MY PERSONAL ADDITIONS SINCE MY ORIGINAL POST:
Big Mouth Kee (next to Akasaka in R.Hill)
Mamma Martinos (Queensway)
Vegetarian Haven (Baldwin)
Pauls Spaghetti (Cosburn)
Royal Thai Garden (Bloor/Bathurst)
Kokame Sushi (Bathurst/Wilson)
Lone Star Café (Richmond Hill location only avoid Front St. location at all costs. Note: I recommend their fajitas only as well as the chips and salsa free starter, salsa made fresh daily and is of the best Ive had; most other menu items are average or worse)
Pickle Barrel (Leslie/Steeles location, a fixture, predictable decent quality for the price)
MY FAST FOOD ADDITIONS:
Bacaro (Italian lunch takeout Yonge/Eglinton)
Bacchus Roti HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
British Style Fish & Chips (Gerrard/Dundas E.) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Colombos Pizza (love it, Danforth/Coxwell) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Whole Foods Prepared Foods counter
Big Carrot Prepared Foods counter
Tov-Li (Bathurst/Finch and Bathurst/Wilson)
Me Va Me takeout (Steeles/Yonge)
Bitondos (Clinton St.)
Burrito Boyz (was cited by someone, but is not sit-down service)
Hannahs Kitchen (Yonge/Eglinton)
Altitude Baking (Queen/Greenwood)
Café Mocha (Danforth)
Subways Veggie Patty sub only at various locations, never advertised properly and very tasty/healthy
Seven Numbers (Eglinton/Avenue)
Re my original post about how sick I am of all the trendy ripoff spots that seem to get all the attention, I would like them to realize how many other fine options there are for the food lovers of Toronto. To those establishments (which I will not be frequenting anytime soon, unless PERHAPS, another person is treating), please get rid of rude staff, bad policies like not honouring a reservation time, or 49 cents extra for a couple of slices of tomato or bread, servers that assume you want to drink just because youre in fancy resto, ridiculous corkage fees and all the rest of it.
I'd like to add "Chef of India" on Eglinton Ave, just east of Yonge. The best service in the city, and the best Indian in the city. I've lost count how many times I've eaten there, and every time the staff makes you feel like you're the most important customer on earth!
It's about $80.00 per couple for dinner with drinks and tip. AND they have a cheap lunch buffet that is great as well!
I take the liberty to strongly disagree. My white wine was served in a warm glass. Service is so-so. All-you-can-eat lunch is not great. Dinner is expensive for what it is. Bombay Behl (a bit further down) is better. That says it all... Amaya the Indian Room 1701 Bayview (corner of Soudan) got rave reviews. I also read (though I did not try them myself) that Agra Indian Cuisine and Khana Khajana are good.
- Rocco's Plum Tomato (the original on Queensway), not too expensive and rarely have I had l had a bad experience there - it's rare that someone orders the most expensive item off the menu and the chef comes out to state that he will refuse to sell it to you because the markets didn't have any of the main ingredient that was of a quality enough for his standards...
- Live Organic Food Bar - raw dining at its best, great and innovative food with friendly service
Great post-- let me add
The Corner House at Davenport and Spadina--solid cooking with excellemt ingredients-- service can be a problem
Harbour Sports Grille at yonge and Lakeshore--suprisingly good food for a sports bar
Dipamo's Barbeque --Eglinton and Avenue Road-- great barbeque --warm friendly service-- very good value
Kumai Sushi Hurontario and 401 ( Mississauga) good dependable sushi and excellent hot kitchen
I haven't been to a lot of places but I truly enjoy Ouzeri for their rosemary lamb pie. Every time I go there I order it. I know I should try something else but the lamb is so tender and flavourful.
Also I found a new Indian restaurant in Yorkville called Ustav which I love. I went there last week and I'm hankering to go back to get some more samosas.
re: peppermint pate
Great choices. I love Chiau Liu (luckily I work right nearby!) and Paese (haven't been in years and now that they reno'd, it will be on my list of places to revisit). What is Rol San? It sounds Mexican, which is great because that's the kick I'm on now (but only vegetarian, as I'm one)...
Sorry - can't help you out with any good Mexican options (though I am one of the many fans of the halibut burrito at Burrito Boyz) - Rol San is a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown (Spadina) that serves very good dim sum daily. In the world of veggie food, Fresh is quite good. I've also been meaning to try Live which gets consistently good reviews on this board.
re: peppermint pate
Funny enough, I had Burrito Boyz just last night. Anytime I find myself within range of that place, I make tracks... and I keep hearing that that halibut burrito is great. Thought I saw one being prepared with a deep fried piece of fish - is that how they do it? Sounds interesting. By the way, best fish and chips in the city, British Style Fish and Chips (see my review at www.sweetspot.ca under Toronto/Eat & Drink/"Gone Fishin'"
Thanks for the link. I periodically (like once a year) get a crazy craving for fish and chips but I find that after 4 or 5 bites, the grease just kills me and I can't finish it (though I usually keep eating another few bites and then I feel really sick).
That said, I do think the halibut is fried for the burrito but somehow, that goes down just fine. I was a bit skeptical of the whole halibut burrito mania but once I tried it, I knew I'd never eat a different one - it's THAT good.
re: peppermint pate
Very surprised that Dante's is on your list - definitely overpriced for the quality - please don't let the portions mislead you. Greasy, bad cheesy atmosphere and very poor Italian food.
I tend to not eat out on Saturdays if I can help it so I don't usually have issues with service or a table. So if a restaurant has bad service during the week it's a really good sign that on Saturdays it will be 10 times worse.
Gamberoni on Yonge north of Lawrence - excellent quality/price and totally relaxed atmosphere. Best bruschetta.
Elegantview on Victoria Park/McNichol for Dim Sum or Sam Woo BBQ on Mavis in Mississauga, great DS and BBQ
Perigee - need I say more, plus service is genuinely sincere
For a vegetarian, Chinese restaurants are great for veggies, and the variety!
Mercatto on Bay north of Adelaide - amazing brie & chicken paninni
New Sky Restaurant on Spadina - great Chinese food, not far from Rol San
Saigon Star - Vietnamese/Thai, in Richmond Hill, great crab
Mata Hari Grill on Baldwin - great Indonesian fare
Hollwood Gelato on Bayview, south of Eglinton - fabulous gelato, this is not a restaurant
Rahier Patisserie - Bayview south Eg - best croissants ever, better than in France
Timo in Woodbrige - haven't been there yet but I heard great things and it's always packed - need reservations
Tasty's on Dennison in Markham - hole in the wall joint but they have great jerk chicken, oxtail! Also a bakery that makes West Indian/Carribbean stuff.
Sushi Kaji in Etobicoke - love it.
Tulip Diner on Queen for breakfast and steak!
Avli on Danforth - best taramosolata and great souvlkai.
Athena Bakery on Danforth - spanatopika!
Ding Tai Fung in the First Markham Place ( Highway 7 and Woodbine) - great Shanghai food and those dumplings!
VIP Restaurant in First Markham Place - amazing Vietnamese Curry Crab
Jim Chai Kee - Richmond Hill, best won ton - they are the size of golf balls and almost 100% shrimp filling (rest is pork)
Baton Rouge - every now and again I get a craving for their baby back ribs.
Jump - great crab cake lunch on Fridays.
Yes, Dante's is useless for most everything except their signature -- pizza. But it is still overpriced somewhat.
Thanks for all the great suggestions. I am a veg, so gone are my days of eating at the Tulip (that's about the only meat I miss!). I've been to the First Markham places, but not for a long time. Also, Sushi Kaji -- isn't that super expensive? Or am I confusing it with another on the Queensway?
Hollywood Gelato is good, but it's basically gelato. I also hear that some Dominions make gelato that's unbelievable!
Mercatto is good too. Nice people in there.
Of your suggestions that I haven't tried, I will. Like Gamberoni, which is in my hood and I've never bothered with. Thank you for all your recommendations.
Japango (just south of Dundas, west of Bay, sort of behind City Hall): just ate there for the first time last week, and the sushi melted in my mouth. Lunch was 9.99, make sure you get there before noon or you won't be sittin'. Seemingly happy, efficient service.
Pho Huoang (On college, first street west of Dufferin): I'm biased as it's just steps from my house, but the broth in the Pho has been unmatched everywhere else I've tried it. The pork chops shouldn't, by all rights, be good: thin and well done, but I LOVE them! Efficient service. Pho starting at $4.95.
Soul Food (on Lansdowne, umm... first? street north of Bloor (could be second)): by far the best Jerk I've had lately. It's laid back: the owner/chef will tell you that it's 'like his living room, so just come on up and let me know what you want' or some such thing. Really nice guy. Inexpensive.
Swatow (Spadina, just north of Dundas): I guess it's fast food, Far East style, but I craaaaave #111 (sweet & sour fried pork). It's fatty. It's junky. It's sweet. It's six bucks. Gotta have it a couple of times a year. By far the most efficient service I've seen.
Not to nitpick, but I'm fairly certain that Matahari is predominantly Malaysian fare with a few Indonesian offerings. I think that the prices are a bit high there, but the food is fantastic.
I personally think Batifole is worth every penny and have really been enjoying it lately.
I have yet to have anything but an amazing experience at Mengrai Thai, both in terms of food and service.
On the lower end, Ethiopian House and Tokyo Grill both have consistently good chow at low prices.
Re: Cha Liu - I take your point, though compared to what you may spend for dinner at a different kind of restaurant, $50ish for 2 is still pretty good value in my books. If you compare it to Rol San or other "non-midtown" dim sum spots, though, I agree that it's definitely on the overpriced side.
One more suggestion - Boulevard Cafe.
My wife and I work in the area and go to Cha Liu for lunch regularly. It may be more then other dim sum options in TO but I think its good value for yonge & eg. Usually been impressed with the food. We order off the menu, I've never had the special - but I think its only 9 bucks each, how did the two of you get over $50?
Millies Bistro & Gourmet Market 1980 Avenue Rd. (2 blocks south Wilson) 416-481-1247 -- Daily from 11:30 a.m. til 11 p.m. -- Lots of veggie dishes, tapas, and organic food like the rib eye steak, and paella with chicken, mussels, shrimp and chorizo sausage.
The label 'Bistro and Market' is misleading. The place is quite refined (linen tablecloth), service is very good, the food is great and portions are very generous. May be a bit pricey but worth every dollar.