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Edward Levesque's

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  • kornheiser Apr 11, 2006 02:39 PM

Question -

My wife and I will be trying out this spot in the near future and I was just wondering what the consensus is on the following dishes -

-Green salad with white bean hommus
-Gnocchi
-Chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I was there once, but I'm afraid that it wasn't the food that was memorable. Our server was so miserable, surly, and down right rude that it don't even remember what I ate.

    We later called to complain and found out that she was the owner's wife apparently. Never, ever, again.

    2 Replies
    1. re: regruve

      Since Levesque is a confirmed bachelor, I doubt that was the case.

      1. re: regruve

        Exactly my experience. Only the service was memorable. We must have had the same miserable, surly and down right rude server.

      2. I had a superb brunch there today. It was at the very least memorable. We'll be back for dinner.

        1. We had a very good dinner there over Christmas, the only thing I found... well... odd was when it came time to pay we put down two credit cards (as we often do when dining out with another couple, in order to split it down the middle and not nickel and dime over who had what) and were told "Edward doesn't like that". ???? Heck, even Boston Pizza and other chains let you split between two credit cards!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Corrie

            A perfect example of a chain restaurant having a better understanding of customer service than an independent.

          2. We used to go to Edward Levesque's for brunch every other weekend or so, but after receiving pretty crappy service several times in a row we've stopped going... I found the food to be good but not great. Barrio is a much better choice in the area, food is much better and the service is always great.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Vise

              I went there a year and a half ago for brunch and had yucky fishcakes from the lunch menu and my partner had a tough steak sandwich. We did get good service, however. With soooo many brunch options in the area, there seemed no need to try it again.

            2. I went once and they ran out of shrimp. One of our party ordered a pasta dish with shrimp but the staff decided not to say anything. When we asked where the shrimp was, they first said it was in the dish. When we pressed them they admitted that they had run out. Wonder why I've never returned?

              1. Those are all things you can easily make yourself at home. Why risk the uncertainty of EL's kitchen, and service. I went once, and NEVER again - diabolical food!

                1. When Levesque takes a wife I will be chasing sheep.

                  Whan Levesque is on his cooking is beautiful. Not very complicated ,but with tremendous food sense, and consistent from beginning to end. The problem is that EL has an ego as big as all outdoors and thinks that it is a sign of weakness to admit an error. Also he doesn't suffer fools, I don't mean lightly, I mean not at all, or for that matter anyone who doesn't meet his standard. So his kitchen assistants come and go, and mostly go. however he can't do everything himself, which is unfortunate but a reality.

                  EL is much better than the prior postings suggest; I got tired of the roller coaster, and the good nights were so good that they made the poor nights harder to take.
                  VVM

                  1. The dinner menu changes often, sometimes daily, so don't count on anything you see on it to be there the next day.

                    1. I really enjoyed eating there early on. I suppose you could say "before he was discovered", though people were already starting to line up for brunch. Although I didn't feel brunch (though good) was worth the wait, I had many lunches and dinners there.

                      There have always been inconsistencies and slip-ups, but these were once handled with some grace and a desire to please. So when one person's lunch arrived overcooked, they were happy -- indeed eager -- to replace it, though it meant she got to eat 1/2 hour after everyone else in our party had finished.

                      As his reputation spread, I found that both service and food slipped while prices rose significantly. And that ego. You aren't kidding! Quite aside from his written policies on cellphones (with which I can hardly disagree) and unacceptable topics of dinner conversation (which he can't enforce, but about which I do not think he is kidding), the eagerness to please has disappeared. And the quality of HIS OWN cooking is wildly inconsistent.

                      I haven't eaten there in a long time, despite his convenient location in my neighbourhood. The last straw was an overcooked plate of Cornish hen. When the server inquired about my meal, I told her nicely it was overcooked, though not inedible. She did not say anything to Edward. A replacement wasn't offered. I didn't expect the meal to be comped, but I expected some hospitable gesture. None was forthcoming--not even a coffee. As I was leaving, Levesque (not having been told anything), asked whether I had enjoyed my meal. I told him that the recipe was interesting but that the food had been cooked too long. Although I was a reasonably regular customer and had been recognized, his smile disappeared and he lectured me about how I obviously wasn't sufficiently discriminating to recognize good cooking. I haven't been back since.

                      We used to regularly split bills using multiple credit cards, but a previous post states that he won't allow this any more. (We're talking simply dividing a bill by two or three - not figuring out who ordered what.) When one member of our party wanted to omit something due to allergy, she was told to order a different plate since changing a side would compromise Edward's creative vision.

                      Yes Edward Levesque can sometimes produce an excellent meal, but the attitude, the prices, and the absence of hospitality have all turned me off.

                      (Since we are in Canada, Levesque might very well take a wife, though it would not likely be the server referenced above...)

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: embee

                        embee, that last line took me a few seconds. That's a good one!

                        I'd been meaning to try Edward Levesque's for a couple of years, but never got around to it. Never will, either, considering how you were treated (and reprimanded!). There are too many other restaurants out there to frequent a place with such attitude and posturing.

                        1. re: FlavoursGal

                          I'm genuinely saddened by this. Levesque took a chance on this neighbourhood (though he obviously didn't spend much on decor or creature comforts) when gentrification was by no means certain. There weren't many who took the risk. (Joy Bistro was another early entry, but they own the apartment building in which they are located and started as a coffee shop.) The neighbourhood is now hot, and Edward is very well positioned. I guess business is sufficiently good that he can act like this and get away with it (and maybe the stresses of the business are getting to him), but he's a different person running a different place within the same walls. I miss the Levesque's that was, though not the one that is.

                          1. re: embee

                            Verveine and Hello Toast were both there before E.L. I think Hello Toast preceded him by a few years. The few times I have been dragged to E.L. there has always been a major component of the meal missing -i.e. a salad featuring blood oranges and walnuts which contained neither, a friends gnochi with shrimp missing the shrimp. There is never any acknowledgement or explanation. That plus his surly and unpleasant attitude either in the restaurant or in the neighbourhood turns me right off!!! I'm just not impressed. There are too many other places were your custom is appreciated to waste time and money where it's not.

                            1. re: Leslieville

                              Yes, I believe Hello Toast was first and the original owners lived upstairs.

                              1. re: Leslieville

                                Just chiming in to agree with the general gist here. Amazing so many people have had appalling experiences there.

                                I've only been once, years ago, but yes, there was a major component substituted from one dish (I forget what, but it was on the order of someone getting salmon instead of lamb). And I remember rudeness as we were seated and leaving. (Again, I don't remember exactly what.)

                                I wrote it off and never went back. MUCH preferred Barrio, Verveine, and Hello Toast when I lived in that neighbourhood.

                              2. re: embee

                                I too am very sad. When we started going to him, his cooking was like a lighthouse in the night of Toronto. The bad personality was not spawned by his businesss, he was prickly in his prior gig as a waiter at Joy. I don't want him to kiss ass just because it belongs to a customer, but at times the food is just wrong, and in not accepting error, EL betrays his own standard and aspirations.
                                Restated, he is entitled to be as big a prick as he cares to be, but since I am paying, only if he delivers. And he doesn't because he is inconsistent and often disappointing; and his own prior achievements deepen the disappointment.

                                In his defense, I should say that it is close to impossible for one person to do what he does; to run the kitchen and cook, work the front of the house and do all the administration. But he has to find someone with whom he can get along, which gets us back to the beginning, and his inability to find someone shouldn't be the customer's problem.
                                VVM

                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                  VVM thanks for your thoughtful insights. Love your handle (Took a few seconds to get it!)

                          2. How interesting.

                            By my count, of the people who posted here about actual visits to EL, 8 mentioned bad service and only 2 said their service was good.

                            It make me wonder - how can a restaurant survive if it's routinely "miserable, surly and downright rude"?

                            Is it just coasting on trendiness and one-off visits? Or does the quality of the food (sometimes?) offset the rudeness? Interesting.....

                            1. The food was very good when EL first opened, and there were lovely & friendly servers who worked there...that was then. The good staff left when Eddie started ranting. Nothing is the
                              same there any longer...

                              1. Hi. Hound living in London now so just lurking on the board to see what's what in TO and to remember what it was like paying the bill in dollars instead of pounds.
                                I've eaten at EL just once _ and it was after we couldn't get into either Barrio or GR'sRRNR. It was great. Very welcoming, fab food and we split the bill on three credit cards (probably Oct. 2005 _ things have changed, I'm sure.)
                                What I now need to know is what topics of conversation are considered verboten? I'm wondering if it's something we said!
                                -mightty

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: mighty_ one

                                  I am also curious about what topics of conversation are off limits!

                                  1. re: mighty_ one

                                    I was walking by today and checked out the latest. If I didn't know better, I'd chalk it up to his sense of humour. But my experience suggests that, if he really has a sense of humour, he has lost it or else he keeps it well hidden. I've heard him blow up too often and I didn't appreciate being insulted after spending $150 or so on dinner.

                                    For those who are REALLY interested:

                                    - religious, political, and cellphone discourse are "discouraged"
                                    - credit and DEBIT cards are subject to a $30 minimum
                                    - if you have problems with the service, you are to email him
                                    - unaccompanied children will be given a shot of espresso and a new puppy

                                    1. re: embee

                                      I know better and it is El's sense of humour. But with all jokes, there is an element of truth, and here truth exists in varying degrees. A good indication of the man is his cartoon on the menu, a chef brandishing a gleaming knife. Cuteness mixed with menace.
                                      VVM

                                  2. I'll throw my 2 cents in and say that I've never had a bad experience at EL's...the food is always fresh, the recipes innovative and the service although a little laid back is friendly and helpful...having said that, even if the service sucked, I'd still put up with it for the great food...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Finnegan

                                      And you have been very, very lucky! I have had many excellent meals there over several years, but the negatives came to outweigh the plusses over time.

                                    2. i've never had a bad meal or experience at ed levesque's (been there 3-5 times since moving into the neighbourhood in mid-2005). most recently was there for brunch around christmastime. i can certainly understand why you wouldn't want to go back, though, if you were reprimanded for politely suggesting that the meal wasn't what you had hoped it would be. with the influx of more restos in the neighbourhood, one would think that only the places that treat their customers well will be those that survive.

                                      1. It's interesting how much "conversation" this thread is generating. I've been to EL twice (had to try a second time just to make sure they weren't having an off day) now and I agree with KitchenVoodoo - the food is just not very good. Strange combinations, terribly dry lamb shank - won't bother going back

                                        1. Back on January 13 2007, me, my wife and two friends arrived late at Gio Rana’s, which was packed. One of us suggested heading over to Edward Levesque, and considering the food and service we receive, we would have been better off walking across the street to The Duke for Budweisers and burgers!
                                          When our party arrived, we were ignored for a couple of tedious minutes while an excitable young woman raced about trying to please a photographer and writer from the National Post, who were creating a review of Levesque’s that night.
                                          “Make sure you say something nice about the restaurant!” she whispered as we went to our table, packed cheek-to-jowl between other tables. Ugh. My wife commented on the floors. We used to go to the restaurant when it was a greasy spoon, and she said the floors were exactly the same. I nodded, but my main concern was on the quality of the food and the service, not the décor, or lack thereof.
                                          The “waiter” – and I use that term loosely – was a prick, plain and simple. One of those easily distracted types, his attention was focused more on everything else going on than taking our order. Appetizers included mussels, and I think, pate and calamari. The reason I say “think” is because I really can’t remember. Our mains were steak and pasta, and like the appetizers, they were entirely forgettable, bland and unexciting and overpriced. The waiter, when he flitted about like a dazed moth, was inattentive, bordering on rude. I couldn’t tell if he was clueless or indifferent, probably the latter.
                                          As we left the restaurant, the same woman again repeated her comments about “Making sure we say how great the food was,” etcetera. We were polite and obliged her.
                                          A couple of things: I am not a fussy eater. I have sent food back once in my 42 years, and that was at the Golden Griddle at Yonge and Carleton, when a Caesar salad arrived that looked as if it had fallen on the floor; as I later found out, it had fallen on the floor. My favourite restaurant is The Tulip, where I love the minced steak. I also love Lahore on Gerrard, and think nothing ill of takeout in little plastic containers, or eating in their temporary trailer – again, for me, it is mainly about the food. That said, I also eat at higher-end steakhouses, Amadeus on Richmond (fantastic food and service, by the way), Little Anthony’s, and other similar establishments. All I expect is decent, not sycophantic, service, and quality food.
                                          Edward Levesque was a terrible letdown. Friends of ours eat there all the time, and we went there to check it out. As we later learned from the unflattering National Post review, Edward was away that week, and left the restaurant in the less-than-capable hands of a 23-year-old and some other guy… bad move, dude! While I regret we did not go there when the main chef was working, I don’t feel the urge to go back again, ever, based on the mediocre meals, crappy little tables (you should have booths for what you are charging, my friend!), and the less-than-stellar service. I understand being a waiter is a thankless job (yeah, sure – I write for a living, and have never received a “tip” from anyone in 20 years!) The waiter alone put all of us off that night, but combined with the so-so food, Edward Levesque’s is not a restaurant we will frequent again. We foolishly tipped the waiter over $50, which was sorely undeserved: you carry food from the kitchen to the table… it’s not like you drive a taxi on Toronto’s snow-covered streets and risk your life doing it.
                                          I’m at the point of writing the owner, Edward Levesque, a letter. But at this rate, the place will be out of business if they continue service indifferent food at undeserved prices. And as for the waiter, you’d be lucky to get a job at The Tulip, where you have to be fast and polite. The next time I go there, I’ll give the waitress an even bigger tip than usual… at least she deserves it.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Doggiez

                                            If the service and food was so bad, why did you tip $50?

                                          2. I think you either get Edward Levesque's or you don't...personally, I love the who shabby chic feel to the restaurant...the old terrazo floors, mismatched tablecloths etc. are part of the appeal...again, I've been several times and never had a bad meal...in fact I would go as far to say that ever meal has been superb...on the one occasion when the service was a little slow, we were given complimentary drinks....it's simply a good local restaurants...ask anyone who lives in the area and they will always recommend, Gios, EL's or barrio (usually in that order)

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Finnegan

                                              Hardly... I live in the area (2mins away) and I no longer recommend EL's to anyone. I have no problems with the decor, the food is just ok, but the service really and truly sucks. As mentioned I'm not sure why they remain so busy for brunch, there are much better options (both food and service wise) in the immediate area.

                                              As for the comment about EL going out of business; I doubt it, all you need to do is look at the lineups on Sat/Sun for brunch and you'll know that won't happen anytime soon. Unfortunate really, it would be nice for EL to be given a wake up call... ie. this thread in his inbox.

                                              1. re: Vise

                                                Did anyone mail this thread to him? I just did, maybe he'll respond.

                                                1. re: foodyDudey

                                                  That's funny! Food here can be good (brunch, never been for dinner), but the ever-changing, youngish, untrained staff are a sure sign that Edward
                                                  isn't the nicest guy to work for. I've seen it with my own eyes - him berating and belittling staff in front of customers, bringing some close to tears. And then, on the bill, there's a little note at the bottom asking customers to e-mail him about service issues. I e-mailed him about his treatment of servers, to no avail. I won't be back.

                                            2. Okay...I stand corrected. Everyone in the area except for Vise recommends EL to friends. With so many great restaurants in Toronto, I may go to EL's maybe once every few months. While the food is constantly good I will concede that the wait staff can be a little too casual in their approach to customer service...at this point however it's not to the point that it would prevent me from enjoying myself at EL's

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Finnegan

                                                As noted, consistency isn't one of Edward's virtues. I used to like it, go there often and recommend it. Although he can still turn out good food, sometimes, I neither go there nor recommend it, any more. It isn't about "getting it". It's about inconsistent cooking, surly and often bad service, misleading descriptions of the food, failure to serve promised main ingredients without notification or price adjustment, attitude issues, etc, etc. I'm glad for you that your luck has been better than mine.

                                                1. re: Finnegan

                                                  Wrong again! Vise is not the only one in the neighbourhood. I would never recommend E.L. to anyone, and actively discourage any one who tells me they are goin there! Having been dragged there on a few occasions, one of them being my birthday, I would never go again! There is always some major ingredient missing, and no explanation given. Edward himself, is a very unpleasant and arrogant person, and in a neighbourhood where we know our resteraunteurs( I wish this thing had spell check) people are quite aware of him. I'ld rather spend my money where it's appreciated. There are too many great places down here to waste time in his!!

                                                  1. re: Finnegan

                                                    Ha, nice one. I'm sure all the other posters in this thread don't live in the area either. :-)

                                                    Just because your friends unfortunately recommend EL for some reason don't lump the rest of us in the 'hood in with them. If you feel justified in spending (ie. wasting) your dining dollars there then so be it, but as many others have mentioned there are far better options in the area with owners/staff that actually value your business. EL won't be getting another dime of my money anytime soon...

                                                  2. I'm of the no-go camp. I went once and only once about 18 months ago. My dinner date and I were made to feel unwelcome which is truly astounding. Never went back. Never will.

                                                    1. Wow,

                                                      I'm impressed that so many restaurant-goes feel such passion about Edward Levesque's, both pro and con. Anyone out there been to Mono Logo on Queen Street near Coxwell? Gahhh! The place was awful before, and somehow managed to get worse this past week by closing the front door and the downstairs, and only allowing patrons to use the side door and go upstairs. It reminds me of a speakeasy I used to go to in Belgrade, with a little sliding panel that revealed a pair of eyes and a voice asking for the password.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Doggiez

                                                        Yeah, I know - odd isn't it?

                                                      2. Sorry, I made a typo. It's Mono Loco, not Logo. Me bad.

                                                        1. I actually really like EL despite the terrible service and occassional inconsistancy. Edward is a brat on a power trip. The customer is the adult here. He refuses to make substitutions (I was rebuked for asking him to hold the fries while I was dieting), and pouts. But the food can be great, and I really love the dinning room. I can see why people would be angry enough to never come back. but when it's good, it's really good, and the service, while often rude, is usually dramatic and entertaining.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: arugula

                                                            Six of us ate at Edward Levesques last night. It was our first time at this restaurant and each one of us were totally happy with the attention we received from the servers. The food was outstanding from the crab cakes, salad, fish, steak, and delicious desserts. Each dish was prepared with wonderful flavoring, and served silmutaneously so that we were all in sync. I am curious as to why all the nasty comments seem to have been posted within approx a two week period in February. Any ideas??

                                                            1. re: ejcoooper0

                                                              All the comments were posted within that period because that was when it was last being discussed on the board--there was a little flurry of "yeah, I had a bad time when I went too" and then it died down. If you look at when those posters went to Edward Levesque's, their stories of bad experiences go back years.
                                                              But hey--maybe your excellent experience means that the EL staff was reading the board back in February and decided to get it together...

                                                          2. I am so not into this restaurant. I liked it for brunch somewhat when it first opened. There were some interesting things on the menu (e.g delicious fishcakes), but even then the service was remarkably poor.

                                                            I decided to give it another shot last week for dinner. Same awful, incredibly slow service (We waited for 15 minutes to give our drink order even though there were only 3 tables of diners in the restaurant because it was early. We finished our drinks before dinner because the food took so long. Then the waiter forgot to bring wine refills as we started the meal and instead brought it once we were finished), the food was ok, and the prices were high comparatively.

                                                            The menu is impossible for people not into meat. We were told we could order anything on the menu without meat, which left us with little else.

                                                            I like the simplicity of the decor, but that's not enough to sustain my interest. I won't be back.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Lo D

                                                              This place was truly pathetic. Never understood the hype.

                                                              1. re: yaddayadda

                                                                went there saturday night, just the two of us, and I was fairly happy with everything. We actually got a table on a Saturday night at 7-ish, without any fuss. Food was tasty, good quality ingredients, service was efficient if unenthusiastic. Our menu choices probably weren't great, as the meals on the next table looked way more interesting, I just had a craving for some steak. Bottom line though, with so many great choices in the area, I wouldn't rush back.

                                                                1. re: antifoodie

                                                                  Jumping onto this post a little late here, but I'm a relatively new CHer. I live in the hood and I've been to ELK thrice (2 brunch, 1 dinner) and been underwhelmed each time. Service and food were average at best and I won't go again. To me it's about value and I don't see it there.

                                                                  One posting confirmed my feeling in general about many TO diners: "personally, I love the who shabby chic feel to the restaurant...the old terrazo floors, mismatched tablecloths etc. are part of the appeal..."

                                                                  Unfortunately too many diners are wowed by the decor and forget about the food. As a result, restaurateurs cater to this trend and open really cool restaruants with the kitchen a mere afterthought. As a result, the wrong restaurants stay in business. In NYC or San Francisco, you stay open when the food is good (and consistent, E.L.!). If this city is to compete on that level, the diners of the city have to hold restaurants to the same standard.

                                                                  I'm sure fellow CHers really do appreciate good food, but this is a foodie message board. Talk to the average Torontonian and you'll get a different picture. Just my rant for the day.

                                                            2. I just went to Levesque's last night for dinner. Won't be going back!! Their brunch is great, but dinner is a total disaster.
                                                              Our waitress knew nothing about anything. It was obviously her first day waitressing... ever. She didn't know about any of the dishes or ingredients. My companion ordered a beer and after 20 minutes of waiting, I got up and went over to the server area to ask for it. Basically, she had forgotten, even though there were only 6 patrons total in the entire joint.

                                                              I ordered the seafood risotto ($18) which promised "mussels, scallops, salmon and shrimp". The risotto came MINUS the mussls, scallops and shrimp!! When i asked the waitress about it, she had to go 'ask the chef'. Then she came back up and lied to me... she said the rest of the seafood was 'chopped up' in the risotto. Who the heck chops up mussels in risotto?! It was a total disappointment.
                                                              My companion had the lamb shank ($21), which was fine, but nothing spectacular. I expected alot more from Eddie's and don't think i'll be going back for brunch again, as I just don't want to give them any more of my money. Too bad, since there is so much potential there.