Caffe Volo review
Based on advice from fellow Chowhounders, I ended up with my 4 girlfriends at Caffe Volo on Friday evening (instead of Saturday). We went based on the advice, "I second the motion for Caffe Volo at Yonge & Dundonald. My girlfriends & I go there deliberately for the bad service. That is to say we enjoy good food & wine that arrives so slowly we can talk for hours without running up a huge tab."
I ended up there early, having to only walk from Bloor & Sherbourne where I work. I scooped up a good patio table, and enjoyed a few "Urquell" pilsners from Czechoslovakia. They have a really good microbrew/world beer selection. I moved on to a nice bourbon rec from the waitress before my friends started to arrive.
When the kitchen opened (6 p.m., I believe), we ordered the antipasto platter, and a tapenade platter to share. They were okay, but I didn't find them big enough for sharing - especially when the antipasto platter often had only one of each item (one piece of proscuitto, one small slice of salami, 2 olives, etc.).
When ordering, there was a funny moment when our Korean friend asked if they had any rice dishes... I didn't realize she liked to stick so close to home.
We ordered bruschetta and calamari to share as starters. The bruschetta was four finger-sized pieces of bread and was tasteless. The calamari was quite good, and included a ton of capers, which I love. For my main, I had the carbonara pasta, which was very very dry, and used regular bacon instead of the described pancetta. One friend had the salmon, which she declared okay. Another had a pizza, and another the pasta with mussels- both declared okay, but nothing special. Our Korean friend ended up ordering a hamburger, which she was picking at. I asked her if it was okay, and she told me she was having trouble eating it because it was dry. I tried some and agreed - it was extremely dry, and oddly tasted of lamb. We asked for some mustard and ketchup, but apparently they have neither at Caffe Volo. (?)
One highlight was the service - the waitress Amanda was fantastic and funny.
i am completely miffed with my experience at volo last night. service has never been perfect but i thought it was just ridiculous last night.
a 20 minute wait became 1.5 hours, a completely daft waitress who wrote down our orders and yet had to come back to get us to repeat them. who also drops off a sausage topped pizza and says "so you're a vegan who doesn't eat cheese but you eat meat?". and then walks away to another table who's received someone else's order until we have to try to flag her down again to bring us the right pizza. adding on many more minutes to get the bill when she offers it to us originally.
i've become so disillusioned... too bad i'll have to miss out on their great beer selection.
ps. the great divide titan is just.. wow, great.
We really enjoyed the atmosphere, the patio, service and the drinks. The food was sub-par, but maybe I came off more negative than I had intended. It was indeed a great place to lounge for hours (which was a key point in the decision making). I enjoyed sitting in the sun on a smokless patio, and letting my mind slip over into weekend mode.
It was also packed, so people must be going there for a reason. :) After we left, we headed over to 7 West for some cake and cocktails to round out the night.
Thanks again for all of the advice and recs. Trying new places and having chow-based adventures is what makes this site great.
Thanks for the report.
As one of the ones who suggested Caffé Volo, I hope that you had a good evening despite some of the food shortcomings. I usually stick to the specials there. I too have been underwhelmed by the pasta, but rather impressed with the pizzas and meat pies.
For me, I definitely go there for great atmosphere and unrushed service. There have been times where we have sat and enjoyed conversation somewhat past their closing hour, and they haven't asked us to leave, but rather implored us to stay while they began their evening cleanup.
I'll definitely head back, especially with their great patio, and I hope you will too.
I'm sorry your experience at Volo was so dramatically different from the dozens I've had there over the years. It sounds like they're going through some negative changes. I should mention that when I said bad service, I meant slow. Were the servers surly I would never suggest a person go there. We have literally spent entire nights dining & drinking and afternoons brunching and gabbing without anyone trying to move it along and turn the table over. Again, I apologize. I know how a restaurant can make or break a girls night out.
re: Brain of J
It's worth noting that Volo is the city's premier beer destination. (See http://bartowel.com/forums for discussion ad nausuem.)
The beer you had (a beer geek would say 'extrememly hoppy' rather than 'extrememly bitter') was likely a great example of its style - its just that some styles of beer can be acquired tastes for some.
Nice of them to take it off the bill though.