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Want really bad food? Go to Baton Rouge - Eaton Centre

  • d

I recently took clients to the Baton Rouge Eaton Centre. The food was inedible, the service terrible. And the manager, even more disappoiting. My customer ordered chicken fingers - how bad could they be? No taste whatsoever, veins in them (hey,at least they were real meat.. the veins proved that!) and so much tastless and greasy batter on them - yes, batter, that she did not wish to eat them. The manager said that everyone loved them - thanks for that, and for leaving them on the bill after she ate one of them and left the plate full. I was embarrased having brought us there. My meal was equally as bad - a wet (yes, wet) salad with overcooked noodles in a sugary -syrapy sauce.. gross. I too left it - not just because my customer was not eating, but becausae it too was horrible. If you chose to waste your money, head to the Baton Rouge. Otherwise, enjoy the City Grill at the Eaton Centre, or walk down to Jack Astor's on Front - the food at Jack's is ALWAYS CONSISTENT and tasty, and the City Grill has not let me down either. Lesson learned.

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  1. Well Derek at least you let us know its at the eaton center.

    1. I like the City Grill as well. Had 1 meal at Baton Rouge, pretty ordinary.

      1. Is the one in North York equally bad?

        1 Reply
        1. re: jennjen18

          I ate there once. I had the ribs that they're always bragging about and they were good. The thing is, most people make good ribs. My friends both ate steaks and were quite happy. My wife was happy with her seafood whatever it was. The bottom line is, without the great wine reco from the waiter, it was an all round uneventful meal. I don't see going back.


        2. in my opinion baton rouge should only be gotten to, if all other rest. are closed and oyu are dieing of hunger

          1. I couldn't agree with you more. The service and food is terrible. I avoid it at all costs unless someone if adamant on going. yuck. www.mishsplayground.com

            1. I've been to the Baton Rouge in the Eaton Centre and the one on Yonge near Sheppard. The two visits were about five years apart, and the experiences were pretty much the same: average food, indifferent service, dowdy atmosphere and a vague feeling that I could have got a much better meal somewhere else for less.

              If you're looking for good quality and value, it's probably best as a rule to avoid chain restaurants, especially those in shopping malls in tourist areas. Jack Astor's is pretty mediocre, too. It's definitely worth checking the boards here regularly for recommendations for restaurants that a lot of chowhounds agree are good quality and decent value: the same names come up often for a reason. There's lots of good food in Toronto, if you know where to find it.

              1. rule of thumb: don't go to restaurants in malls

                4 Replies
                1. re: hoohaa

                  I second that! Also, stay away from chains in high tourist areas...Toronto's small, independant restaurants are the best!

                  1. re: starvin

                    If you're at the Eaton Centre, walk across the street to the Superior Restaurant. Really good food and really nice people. You'll be much happier with your food dollar.


                  2. re: hoohaa

                    Yup - factory food is a big risk. ironically enough.

                    1. Agreed. Mall restaurants are bleh. There's unfortunately a dearth of good restaurants in that area due to the touristy-ness of Eaton's I guess.

                      Went there for lunch and had the ribs which were dry but otherwise acceptable. It's just the price for the food was certainly not up to par and the whole place had this weird faux-upscale atmosphere.

                      The City Grill is nice enough a place for lunch if you must dine in the Eaton's centre.

                      1. Why do people rave so much about this place? I've been twice to the location at Highway 7 and East Beaver Creek. It was okay, but does not deserve the praise that people give it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: EmmEff

                          I just ate there (Hwy 7 and East Beaver) last night and it was the worst meal i've had in my life! My wife wanted to get the ribs there, which are decent, so we decided to go. I've been to the one at the Eaton Centre (horrible) and the one on Hwy 7 and Woodbine (best location out of the bunch). I ordered the Halibut special with veggies, which I have ordered before with no complaints, and they totally messed it up. First of all the fish had at least 5 huge bones. Second it was really undercooked. It seemed like they took a frozen piece and grilled it. If I wanted raw fish, I would have got japanese food! That dish at most should've cost $10, but I paid $30. I would never, never, go back there!

                        2. I’ve been to the Baton Rouge in Mississauga once. Nice décor. The staff was very attentive, but in an odd way: we never had the same person visit our table twice, and instead we had about 7 different people attend to us over the course of the meal.

                          The food was bland beyond all belief.

                          Instead of freshly-grated parmesan cheese, the Caesar salad came covered with something that resembled dust. Tasted like it too. The steak, a sub-Keg affair, looked nice but was amazingly flavourless, as were the mashed potatoes.

                          All in all a hugely disappointing meal and a waste of money. I would never go back.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Mississauga Matt

                            In defense of Baton Rouge, they do get baby back ribs right. Okay, okay, maybe they're not the quality of ribs you'll find south of the Mason-Dixon line, blah blah blah, but they far exceed the quality of ribs you'll find at most restaurants in Toronto (assuming you like fall off the bone baby back ribs).

                            Stick with their strong suits, the ribs and the fries, and Baton Rouge comes through.

                            1. re: Brain of J

                              A friend brought me to Baton Rouge on the premise of excellent ribs. While they were quite tender and had a nice meaty texture it was just too dry, like they had just been brushed with a light coat before cooking. Dry ribs bad.

                          2. I've had the pork chop (my favorite in T.O. next to Barberian's), beans, sushi-grade tuna salad, ribs, and burgers, all have consistently been fabulous. Service, from replacing drinks before asking, to quick food delivery, has always been on par.

                            Baton Rouge for me has consistently been one of the best spots in downtown or North York for a solid meal from a chain restaurant. It's not haute cuisine, it's also not as good as a "small restaurant with great prices", it's the kind of place where it's big enough that you'll likely get a table quickly, have plenty of room, be served well, and be pleased with the adequate (sometimes very good) food.

                            1. I think this thread is a little bit pointless, you're preaching to the converted here. The reason people come searching on this board is to try something beyond the corporate chains.

                              Now in defence of Baton Rouge (haha I can't believe I just typed that), they are servicable for a chain restaurant. Certainly a lot better than the mediocre competition. I've never willingly gone there, but sometimes you have to take one for the team if a friend picks it for a celebratory gathering.

                              As to why people rave about it? Well simply put, it's because the competition in the chain market is so horrible. Anything that is semi average will seem like gold compared to the likes of swiss chalet and jack astor's.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: aser

                                Well, I for one, have been enjoying the slagfest -- makes me feel like I'm not the only cranky person in the world. And I think there is some purpose to the discussion, because it gives you ammunition if some non-hound suggests having dinner there. I wouldn't have known just how bad it was, and might have tried it if someone I was with suggested it, but now I can say "I've heard from several people that it really ain't great" and I may wiggle out of having to eat a cruddy dinner there. In which case, I will be very thankful to Derek et al. for educating me...

                                1. re: aser

                                  I would put Baton Rouge in the same class of restaurants as any of these chains, anyways. Baton Rouge, Jack Astor's, Casey's, Kelsey's, Milestone's - they're all the same restaurant with different names. Just uninspired bar and grills for the masses that want to spend $25 on a quick dinner. Sometimes you need a place like that.

                                  1. re: gps_shag

                                    You have summed it up perfectly. I went to Baton Rouge in Kanata about 3 weeks ago just before a Senators game. A client was paying so I couldn't grumble, but it was pretty uninspiring. The same client took me to a Baton Rouge in Anjou, QC....can you guess that the client likes Baton Rouge.

                                    IMHO, Baton Rouge does not give value for money food wise. The surroundings are quite nice (although it can be quite noisy), but the cost of the entrees is quite high for what you get.

                                2. Interestingly enough, I went to Baton Rouge the other night to get something to go. I had the ribs and I ordered the Chicken Fingers for my wife. She really liked the chicken fingers with their tempura like batter. I have had the ribs before and I find them fine except for the sauce is a little too sweet for me. They also make a pretty good burger.

                                  While I would never rave about Baton Rouge as a place to go I also wouldn't compare them unfavourably to a Jack Astors which I consider to be in a completely different category a couple of rungs lower on the ladder.

                                  1. I too, will step in and defend baton rouge because they do have decent ribs for decent price, which are far and few in TO...maybe that will be my new thread....stay tuned....

                                    1. I agree with your overall assessment. I should have known that anyone who named a restaurant Baton Rouge, wouldn't know much about cooking. Baton Rouge is an industry/commercial city that has no particular tradition of or connection to good food. It bears no resemblence to New Orleans - before or after the flood.

                                      1. Laval. Which is where it started.

                                        I agree Davwud that the best thing you can do for food at the Eaton Centre is leave. Superior may not be a 'Hound destination, but it certainly hits the spot when you're out shopping. I find the their wine list superb. It did, in fact, take a Wine Spectator award in 2005.

                                        That said, if my friends said let's go to Baton Rouge I wouldn't argue with them. Sometimes speed & convenience are best. The food is at least servicable. And, hey, you get to skip the (god forbid) food court.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Googs

                                          I have found City Grill in the Eaton Centre to be pretty good. While there are hits and misses on City Grill's menu, is is much better than Baton Rouge, and I believe cheaper also.

                                        2. I find this thread quite suprising-as in Montreal they have several locations and are in fact quite popular due to their consistent quality food-not my choice for a foodie night out but ihave never had a bad meal there and they certainly are better than many chain restos-a la Kelseys etc..
                                          I would compare them to an Earls from out West

                                          3 Replies
                                            1. re: montreal traveller

                                              I must disagree. I do not find them especially consistent and I have never eaten anything there that I would order a second time. Yes, they are better than Kelsey's, but that's not saying much. Looking at chain restaurants, Milestones (same owners as Kelsey's, Cara; prices more similar to Baton Rouge) is MUCH better than Baton Rouge.

                                              1. re: embee

                                                Have to agree with embee - having been forced to eat at the Baton Rouge twice I find Milestone's a far more palatable experience (not to say I would choose either to go to).

                                                Everything at the Baton is so heavy and lacking in flavor - Milestone's executes somewhat better and has a little more variety too.

                                            2. I remember the first time I ate at a Baton Rouge. My bf & I were walking along near the Bell Centre in Montreal and were quite hungry. It looked inviting enough until we sat down. All we could think is 'Holy Keg'. We ate and vowed never again. Friends have managed to drag me into the Eaton Centre location since. I find them fully consistent in their mediocrity. However, complaining chains aren't haute cuisine is like complaining Jack Black doesn't make art films. It just ain't what you go for.

                                              1. If you think City Grill and Jack Astor's is good food, please get out more and visit independant restaurants.

                                                1. Independants are no guarantee of quality either. There are plenty of lukewarm to downright awful reviews of independant restaurants on this board. Look no further than the recent Winterlicious write-ups. As for Baton Rouge, you'll be hard pressed to find an independant restaurant in Toronto that serves up a better rack of baby backs ribs.

                                                  I had dinner at Baton Rouge last week. The ribs, as usual, were excellent. They didn't give your jaw a workout (if you want that kind, feel free to visit Barberian's and pay an extra $5.75 for the privilege), the meat just fell off the bone with just the slightest prod of the fork. Great shoestring fries, fresh coleslaw and unlimited refills on soft drinks. Price for entree? $23.00. The service? We had a reservation for 8 PM. The restaurant was buzzing with guests, but we were seated immediately without fuss. The service? We were served by a very pleasant young woman. She was polite and efficient and we never felt rushed. Our food came in a timely manner and it was the right temperature. The bill arrived; it was correct. What more could we ask for?

                                                  Some chains do get it right. Baton Rouge is one of them.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Brain of J

                                                    You are 100% correct with your assessment...providing you love your ribs cooked they way they cook them. Personally I don't. I would spend 10.00 more for barberians.

                                                    My example is that I think Canyon Creek makes an award-winning double pork chop served medium. It to me is awesome. Althought the sides are all lacking.

                                                    1. re: Brain of J

                                                      Quite a few people seemed to find the ribs enjoyable but both times I went (maybe 3-4 months ago) they were so incredibly dry I found them almost hard to eat. The sauce was also very meager (just some remaining brushed on).

                                                      1. re: Brain of J

                                                        BR ribs don't impress me at all. They taste the exact same as Swiss Chalet's but with a different sauce.

                                                        In fact, I'm starting to get the impression that all BB ribs are pretty generic except for the sauce. I much prefer the side ribs. They seem to be able to absorb the flavour of however they're being cooked without destroying the pig flavour.


                                                      2. We ate there last night and got blown off by one manager and insulted by the other. The tenderloin steak was not trimmed of silverskin (was a weird half-moon-shaped cut from the chateaubriand portion of the tenderloin, not the filet mignon ordered) which got stuck in my teeth, before I separated another ounce or so from the steak. They didn't offer to do anything for us, and when I told the senior manager I'm a chef, he offered to let me work in the "dish pit" ha, ha. (My wife's tuna steak was actually quite nice.)

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: chef leone

                                                          Friends of mine went there in the summer and stated they would never ever ever go back.
                                                          It seems with this restaurant they go through staff like crazy, so I would have to say that 'consistency' probably depends on which nights you are there, who is Managing, who is in the kitchen.
                                                          This place has been talked about before on these boards, both good and bad.

                                                          Seems like it is a hit or miss!

                                                          1. re: NoFixedAddress

                                                            Seems to be a lot more miss than hit.


                                                        2. My first visit to Baton Rouge was at Yonge and Sheppard. Since then, I never go to any of the Baton Rouge locations. I ordered SALAD and it's really hard to mess up with the salad. My caesar salad came DRENCHED in the dressing, with really dry grilled chicken breast it was just unpleasant to eat. There was nothing to enjoy really.

                                                          Just wanted to share my awful one time experience at Baton Rouge.

                                                          1. I've been there 3 times (never by choice). The first I had the ribs, and they were tasty (I like mine better) Another time, I was given a free dinner there by a boss. I got one of their steaks and while it wasn't top 5 of steaks I've had in a restaurant, it was pretty good. Cooked rare, as asked. The service was really good (our female server told us a couple of the dirtiest jokes I've ever heard). I've been there once since (when a long lost friend insisted on the location) and had the burger, which was pretty good too.
                                                            I'm not rushing back there but I think there's much worse, even on Yonge St.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: air621

                                                              Really dirty jokes are considered part of really good service? Was this an all female group or an all male group? Sounds even less appealing than the food!!!!!

                                                              1. re: Leslieville

                                                                It was a pretty casual night. My wife and I had been out at the Beaches Jazz festival drinking in the sun all day. We decided to go in and use the free dinner because we were hungry and happened to be in the area. We were...a little tipsy. Probably a bit loud. She read the mood well. Again, I wouldn't go back there by choice, but it certainly has never been as bad for me as some describe.

                                                            2. I just went this evening with friends and it is indeed a huge waist of time and an even larger waist of money. Why this place is always packed is beyond me. It's unbelievably expensive with lousy food and crap service. For one, the menu is extremely confusing and you don't know if the dishes come with one side dish or two. If you mistakenly order two like I did you are not told that extra charges will apply. Some items like the martinis are not even priced. Apparently we are supposed to guess.

                                                              Secondly, any little add-ons are ridiculous over priced, and again, they don’t tell you that. I got charged $3 for a tiny thing of cravy. Had I know I would have gladly used ketchup! Then there’s the food. Shredded cardboard would have tasted better. My friends and I ordered burgers/sandwiches, which is hard to screw up, yet these were dry and tasteless. I could not even tell there was bacon on my burger. One of my friends said hers was very tough, yet it was a veggie sandwich!

                                                              Thirdly, our server was very nice, but incompetent. When I asked what the sugar code was to a particular wine she looked at me like I had a third eye. She told me she’d go ask and returned with a sample of her recommendation. While the wine was very good, she still had no idea what the sugar code was. Anyone serving food and alcohol should be educated in wines and spirits!

                                                              Lastly, after paying our obscenely overpriced bill I asked to see the manager. I voiced my concerns and explained my feedback on the card. Not surprising, he was completely useless. I had clearly marked on the feedback form that we would not return and instead of making things right he simply asked if he could keep the card and also asked who our server was. He was more concerned with disciplining his staff instead of making the customer happy. He never apologized, empathized or even offered us a free dessert. Pathetic management skills to go with a pathetic restaurant. Unless you are seconds away from dying of starvation avoid this place at all cost!


                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Penguin_Lani

                                                                People educated about serving wine don't care about the "sugar code". That's just an lcbo thing. It doesn't matter what "sugar code" a wine has if it's balanced by acidity. You can have a wine with a high sugar code and because it's braced by good acidity, still won't taste over-sweet or sugary. Balance is the key.

                                                                A good server would have been able to give you a sense of how dry a wine would be or how it might pair with your food choices, but I would never ask nor expect to be told about "sugar code". So I think you were a bit harsh on your server in that regard.

                                                                1. re: JamieK

                                                                  I would agree with you JamieK...in a place like Baton Rouge I would expect my server to describe a wine as 'dry' or 'sweet'...but not sugar codes..

                                                                  1. re: JamieK

                                                                    Ditto. No one outside of Ontario has any clue what a "sugar code" is. It's solely an artifact of the LCBO, and I wouldn't expect my server to know how the LCBO rates the sweetness of a wine..

                                                                  2. re: Penguin_Lani

                                                                    While I won't tout the culinary efforts of BR......this attitude is exemplary of this site! Hence the reason why it makes it so great. There is worse than BR - but the comments make it worth coming back too! Sugar code at BR? Hahahahahahaha! That comments is so sweet it makes diabetics shudder!

                                                                    Thanks Pengu!