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Good food reviews [Moved from Ontario Board]

Where do you find the best reviews for good food in Toronto? Of course, other than chowhound....

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  1. I like Joanne Kates in the G&M, even though it takes her more than halfway through a review to get to the food. She has to get past the fact that she isn't young or slim, that the hostess is better looking etc. When her kids were younger, it was all about how they didn't have chicken fingers and high chairs. She also tends to concentrate on higher end eats. However, she knows food, doesn't suffer fools and doesn't mess around.

    James Chatto in Toronto Life (which I don't bother to subscribe to any more) knows his stuff, but the reviews are generally 6 months out of date (worse on the website).

    NOW Magazine is good for current, less expensive eats and I find quite relevant to day to day chowhounding.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Cereal Killer

      Add eye.net and BlogTO to the list provided by Cereal Killer above.

    2. I like the Cheap Eats Toronto book that comes out every year, and they have a blog too.

      1. For some different viewpoints, see this thread:


        1. I find the most important thing is to find a critic or critics that reflect your tastes. It won't mean you agree all the time, but it will help. Read about places you know and see who agrees with you.

          In my case, being a woman of a certain age I enjoy Kates. Her life experiences and tastes are similar enough to give the reviews relevance. Do I blindly follow her? Noooooooooo. Generally I'm at places in my end of the city before any critics have hit the place. (I start waiting for doors once the DineSafe sign goes in the window.) I use her as a guide for out of the 'hood places. Except for Chinese restos since her reviews and her nostalgia just cannot seem to be separated.

          Sometimes, CK, it is about how the staff treat you when you're not 20-something.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Googs

            Trust me - I'm not 20 something. I don't care about her age, her style (or lack thereof) or her feelings of inadequacy. I just want her to review the food, service and ambiance. In that order. This weekend play the JK game - I'm willing to bet it takes her over half the column to even mention the food.


            1. re: Cereal Killer

              Oh there's no disputing she's verbose. Must be quite an effort to fill half a page.

              I don't care about her personal life either. When I reference 'life experiences' I mean she probably remembers when Diana Sweets was actually a good place on Yonge south of Dundas and up a flight of stairs.

              Part of restaurant service is not receiving the Invisible Woman treatment. If Kates gets it, I give the place the Big Avoid. It's just rude. This is not to say that my friends & I lack style or have let outselves go. Quite the opposite. It means I will not support a place that hand-picks who they serve properly. If you get a table, you should get service equal to the other patrons. Provided, of course, you're behaving politely yourself.

              1. re: Googs

                For me the priorities in service are:
                1. Be helpful in guiding me in the menu.
                2. Be innocuous
                3. If the waitperson is female, have a nice round tushie. (My taste is not simply the following of a fashion. Furthermore,it did nothing for me when at Yang's the waitress knelt at my table in taking my order.)

                I have been told that Joanne Kates is generally recognized by those in the restaurant business who deal with the public, and woe to the restaurant in which the waitperson doesn't recognize her and kiss her ass.(Close but no cigar.) There is now legitimacy in her attitude because "service" has become so important in the dining experience or at least in the reviews. Me, I prefer to eat rather than to be fawned over, but I am a Polish peasant, so what do I know.

          2. embee, just read a synopsis of a review in Esquire from August 1972. It all clicks now.

            Thanks! And, by the way, based on your writing skills and culinary knowledge, you should be a restaurant critic.

            2 Replies
            1. re: FlavoursGal

              Could someone create a link in this thread to "Toronto Life 2007" which contains a discussion of Joanne Kates' work and vice versa? I don't know how.

              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                Hi Vinnie, here it is:


                You just have to type in the full URL (rather than the name of the site plus coding), which automatically creates the link.

                - Lea

            2. What about the reviews of Toronto restaurant critic Jacob Richler? Does he still review Toronto restaurants for the National Post? Occasionally over the years, Jacob comes back to his hometown of Montreal, to review Montreal restos for the National Post.

              3 Replies
              1. re: BLM

                I don't (and don't want to) read the National Post, so I can't comment on the food reviews. I didn't even think of him. Is he any good? Is he good enough to buy a paper I don't otherwise want to support??

                I have occasionally seen a Sara Waxman review in the Sun. Her late husband had a great reputation as a "fresser", but her reviews just don't resonate with me sufficiently to read the Sun.

                1. re: embee

                  Sara Waxman hasn't reviewed for the Toronto Sun in about 2 years. She had left the Toronto Sun, to be the new Toronto restaurant critic for the National Post newspaper(she only stayed for a couple of months)!

                2. re: BLM

                  Jacob Richler's restaurant reviews, in my mind, are written as if by someone talking into a dictating machine who is glib but not articulate. As for substance, I find him quite unreliable, but he does seem to have his own mind. The quality of the mind is another matter.I know that sometimes he just doesn't know what he is talking about, for eg. Tutti Matti, which he described as the food of the poor. I think that sometimes he loves to flex his muscles just for the sake of doing so. This is not fair to the restaurant.

                  I am really offended by his annual year end column in which he took extracts from readers' letters to him in which they disagreed with him and ridiculed his correspondents. If this is his idea of his job, it would be OK if he had given the writers a chance to reply, and in the same column.

                  After one of his year end gorings of the defenceless, I was sufficiently moved to write to him as well. It was about his review of Scaramouche, which he trashed. I remembered an old and critical review of Scaramouche in The Law Times, a lawyers trade paper, which I dredged up. On rereading, I thought that although the dishes had changed, Richler's review followed the previous review, paragraph by paragraph, idea by idea, and followed the opinions. I thought that he`had greatly reduced the level of writing.
                  I wrote to him and gently and flatteringly pointed out the similarities. I was not favoured with a reply.

                  Sarah Waxman. I had trouble getting off page 3 of the Toronto Sun and consequently never read much of Sarah Waxman. Her reputation in the restaurant business is that she never met a plate of food that she didn't like. I think her opinions are honestly held.

                3. I don't read the National Post much, so I don't know. But I enjoyed his brother Noah's piece in The Globe last weekend. Here it is:


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: FlavoursGal

                    Waxman — who never met a free dinner she didn't love — left the Sun to replace Richler at the Post about a year ago and lasted only a couple of months. Since then, they don't have restaurant reviews, per se. Richler wrote at the time that he was removed from his Post post because he was, "out of touch" with the Toronto dining scene. He now writes vaguely food-related puff pieces for the Post's Saturday Toronto magazine (not distributed nationally) and reviews of cars for their Motoring section.

                    1. re: Dimbulb

                      I knew most of this(in particular Waxman had replaced Richler as Post Toronto restaurant critic). What I wasn't quite sure about, is after Waxman left the National Post, I knew Richler returned back to the National Post, but I wasn't sure if he was reviewing Toronto restaurants again(I knew he was writing about food in Toronto again). Despite not living in Toronto, I can still regularly read Richler's stuff in the Post.