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Sarah's

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Have an occasion to go out with a fellow east-ender coming up and we were reviewing options in the Danforth-Coxwell area. And once again, the subject of Sarah's comes up and it's the same answer of "go for drinks but don't even think about the food." They are just a really easy target to dump on. By comparison, all the other eating spots in the vicinity have pros that far outweigh their cons. But not Sarahs.

First question. Why, why, why is the food there so bad? Does anyone know?

Second question. They are still in good business and tho I'm sure lots of business from the bar, I've still seen people eat there. Why? Am I missing something?

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  1. Location, location, location! Sarah's has got it all. Good patio for summertime dining, fairly nice digs inside as well -
    but perhaps most importantly, they have a whole neighbourhood of people around them who are DYING to have a nice place to eat and hang out. I moved into the 'hood about six years ago, and I've been going to Sarah's, on and off, for more years than that. I go for beer and for nibblies (their dips plate is good, and some of their apps are quite tasty as well), but the few times that I've tried to have dinner, the execution has been off! I just think the owners need to hire cooks who know how to, well, cook. We're not talking gourmet stuff folks, just some honest-to-goodness neighbourhood cookin'!
    They have someone working for them now who used to cook at the Senator, so hopefully things will change. Just hope that they're paying him enough so that he'll stick around for a bit!

    1. Well, most people aren't chowhounds and don't need the food to be good let alone great.

      Is the food "so bad"? I have only one experience there. Nobody had any major complaints. I didn't enjoy my dinner much but that would be true for many pub-type establishments. I think my husband enjoyed his steak frites, he would probably want to return if I let him.

      Actually, I would probably rather go to Sarah's then say Gabby's. But that's not saying much.

      1. One day we were starving and in the immediate vicinity of Sarah's (Spring 06). It looked nice and I suggested going in. My partner said NO! She had been there once before, and described it as a filthy place with horrible food. For whatever reason, none of the neighbourhood alternatives was open and we had an Entertainment coupon, so we decided to go in for drinks and dips, and decide on more food later.

        The food being delivered around us looked and smelled good, so we took a chance and ended up with dips, steak frites, a salmon dish, and a dessert. Everything was absolutely excellent - indeed, much better than we would have expected from some other local places with good reputations for food.

        Chastened, we agreed she had been hasty and had possibly encountered a (VERY) off night. It shouldn't happen anywhere, but it certainly does. We planned to go back.

        We recommended Sarah's to some friends. All had miserable experiences. We ended up not going back, but it seems that, at best, they are extremely inconsistent and have some serious management problems.

        2 Replies
        1. re: embee

          Embee, I tell you why you had the experience you did. You ordered the 4 things on their menu that aren't excessively overpriced and are actually good. Your friends probably weren't so lucky!

          As I mentioned below, I have been going with a group of friends for a pub night once a week for about 6 years now (maybe 7?). Their food is highly inconsistent. They go through chefs very quickly and some have been good -- some very bad. From speaking with many of the wait-staff (many of whom have been there for a long time), I don't understand why the turn-over is so high except that they keep hiring really young chefs you might have higher aspirations than pub food? But, the further problem is the inclinations of their chefs/themselves to try and serve "hip" food or at least not just pub food and I think it is often a case of trying to run before they can walk. The soups, lunch sandwiches, burgers, wings, fries, steaks, etc... are often quite good. They rest can be bad -- really bad. I have had split sauces, grainy mussels, soggy pad and a few other things.

          1. re: Atahualpa

            Good point... you figure it shouldn't be too hard to focus on serving good pub food to satisfy a drinking crowd. It's clearly not a place to go for haute cuisine or even anything remotely fancy so why even bother?

        2. I know why I go to Sarah's:

          1. I have never received as consistently good service as at Sarah's. Not only is the service generally at that perfect spot of attentive and not excessive, the servers are genuinely nice people.

          2. For beer, they have an excellent selection of reasonably priced bottles and it is down-right cheap on tap. The tap selection cheanges seasonally and alway includes a nice selection of less common beer.

          3. They thorow a nice party at Christmas for regulars. Its nice to be appreciated.

          Now, as to why the food is so bad? God only knows! A lot of it is so very bad. And overpriced. But, mostly just bad. There are a few good things on the menu -- the Burger isn't bad, the fish and chips passable, the fries are good, the mid-east dips plate isn't bad. But, yeah, it is pretty awful. I no longer have food at Sarah's. Maybe people order food because they get hungry while drinking? But, I know people who come to Sarah's for dinner! What are they thinking? And they come back more than once!

          1. Great question... I've been exactly twice, once for brunch and once for dinner. Both times I found the food to be well below average... the dinner was pretty bad to be honest. The food lacked flavour, meat was overcooked, and the prices were far too high for the the quality of the food. Perhaps someone should forward this thread to the owner/manager of Sarah's so they know how us 'hounds feel about the place... time for a change in staff perhaps, a good chef would do wonders for the place IMO.

            1. Last time I went to Sarah's was to meet some friends I hadn't seen for a long time. The music was pretty loud so, after we had all arrived, we asked the waitress to turn it down. She was surly about it but turned it down -- a microsnitch. We still couldn't hear each other speak, but couldn't get it turned down any further. We were the only patrons in the restaurant, so the only people who could conceivably have been inconvenienced by our request were the staff. Eventually we left without ordering and went to El Sol down the street, where we spent a happy and relatively quiet evening.