Sassafraz - I should have known better
I know, no self-respecting Chowhound would ever go to this pretentious hotspot. But, I was with the kid, wife and in-laws. We needed to eat. It wasn't about me. So, for all you tourists on the board, DO NOT GO TO SASSAFRAZ. We want you to enjoy Toronto.
Anyhow, the food was mediocre. The service was appalling.
The wait staff were more interested in discussing their big Pride Weekend plans with other customers. My annoying nuclear family did not elicit a second glance from the staff.
We got seated, and were not spoken to for 20 minutes. No water, no bread, no nothing. After a while, a waiter told us that he was not our waiter, but he might take our order. Then, he decided, nah, he would not take the order because our waiter appeared to be on his way. We were also told that our waiter had been dragged out of bed to work, so take it easy on him.
Our waiter, I hate to say it, was a bumbling retard. He did not know a thing about any menu item. Any question resulted in a 15-minute disappearance. Whenever he brought something, he asked whom it was for, despite having taken the orders. I sent back a latte that tasted like warm dishwater; it still appeared on the final bill.
The $15 eggs benedict were not good. One egg was undercooked, one egg was overcooked. Interesting.
I had a similar experience at another oft mentioned "hotspot"--Sotto Sotto--back in February. The waiter was more interested in serving his "celeb" table than attending to two women. His attitude was appalling, the caesar salad was mediocre and most of our "service" came from the bus staff, or from any other waiter we could flag down. When we "gently" advised him that the salad was not so good, he was indignant and rude. Your advice to tourists is good and to it I would add, DON'T GO TO SOTTO SOTTO OR OTHER "CELEB HOTSPOTS" unless you are willing to trade good food and service for the offhand chance to breath the same air as some visiting star who will likely not acknowledge your presence while you choke down your food and suffer interminable waits for service." Or unless you really are a star. :)
Actually it was after my Sotto Sotto debacle that I became a regular user of Chowhounds (even though they deleted my post on Sotto Sotto for some reason). I now look to this site for the best advice on where to eat and usually receive it.
I'm sorry for both of your substandard experiences. Luckily Chowhound is around for people (myself included) to hear from others first-hand.
Yes, it is good to hear from others about their experiences, but it's also important to keep an open mind. I worked in the restaurant business for many years, and you'd be surprised to know how many people came into the establishment in a foul mood and attempted to turn me into their whipping-boy.
I can't say if the above-mentioned experiences fall into that category, but it's always best to consider both sides of any story. On the flip-side: I've gone to places that everyone else absolutely love & have not. And gone to restaurants that were ridiculed by critics...and had a great time. Go figure!
Fair comment Gigi, but I also worked in the restaurant biz for many years and I can honestly say that the waiter I encountered at Sotto Sotto was rude, uncaring and chauvenist towards two women who just wanted a weeknight meal of good simple pasta, a little wine and a salad. We were in the first seating, except for the table of celebs, the place was 3/4s empty.
Also, my friend lost a ring when taking off her gloves. It rolled under the table of celebs and she asked the hostess if she could try and get it when the table was free. Table was still occupied when we left, so we mentioned the ring to hostess number 2 and she simply shrugged and made no offer to take a number and look for the ring later. Obviously if it was a truly valuable ring, my friend would have made more of an issue of getting it, but they didn't have any idea of the value during this discussion.
Another friend of mine in the industry who often recommends restaurants took it upon herself to call the manager days later (who had been standing only feet from our table, back to the tables, the whole time) and explain our experience. He told her in not so many words that he couldn't care less about what happened.
Truly an all around appalling experience at a restaurant where I had had great food and service experiences before. I might have returned if just the waiter was awful, but the indifference of the hostesses and the manager put this restaurant firmly on my list of "never again."
We gave the waiter the absolute minimum tip, even though he deserved nothing, to at least cover what should have been shared with the support staff, and we left a note explaining why. Next, we went to the rooftop bar of the Hyatt to finish off the evening and, so pleased with our service, we gave our server his deserved tip and the tip amount we didn't give to the jerk at Sotto...just to stay even with our restaurant karma. :)
Ditto for service and food at Sassafraz. We held a private function there and both service and food were subpar. To add insult to injury, the management were unapologetic.