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Habitat - Review

We were 5 at Habitat on Friday night. This place is a resto-lounge, which seems to be a popular format these days. Filled with wannabes and posers, the room is filled with the unrelenting sound of pumped-in hipster rhythms. The people are what one might call "wannasoeurs". They don't really know quality, but they fancy themselves to be in the know when it comes to food.

The wine list featured some rather expensive but young wines. We ordered a bottle of wine, and requested that it be decanted well in advance. The waitress' response? "I'll see if we have a decanter." Ummm... that would be a good idea, considering your wine list is replete with 2005 Rhones and Barolos. They're way too young to be drunk even with decanting, but the hipster 20-something crowd won't know that, right?

Cocktails were decent, but underpoured. My first arrived, looking like someone had already drunk 25% of it. I ordered the same drink later, and it appeared to be a full one. An amateur is tending bar as usual.

The food was, at best, decent. Nothing more.

My appetizer was described on the menu as "Hakka style pork". What arrived was a huge mass of fat, marbled with precious little meat, sitting below a slaw of some sort, atop a dark soyish sauce. I had to send it back, even being a lover of fats of all kinds. It was pork belly. This was 85% fat. Too much, even by Asian or Filipino standards. The server apologized, and acknowledged that the dish was new and "on trial", so to speak. Fair enough. It's not a dish that they should add to the permanent repertoire. But, they happily brought me another appetizer, and the pork fat did not show up on the bill. The resto deserves credit for that; a good service move on their part.

My main was a filet mignon, with oyster mushrooms and a rosti potato. I would have rather ordered something more interesting, but of the 6 mains on offer, very little appealed for one who wanted to drink red wine for the night. The beef was good, and done medium rare as asked. The oyster mushrooms were two slivers in all, but quite tasty. They should put 10 times more on the plate. The rosti was too small, but good. The dish was out of proportion because the rosti and mushrooms were miniscule. But, the dish was decent food for sure.

As the night progressed, the obnoxious music became louder. I suppose I am a bit of old fart. But, I love music. Just not loud, semi-hip, Buddha Bar, BS music.

Like a lot of resto-lounges, this place is not serious cuisine at all. It is a bar with good food. I should not be surpised that it paled to my recent meal at Perigee, which is truly a gem with impeccable service and utterly brilliant cuisine, served unpretentiously and often by the chef himself. Quite a study in contrasts, these two restaurants.

Although one is better than the other by far, life is good when you spend time comparing Habitat to Perigee. I enjoyed both. But, if you really like food without hipster trappings and attitude, don't bother with the amateurish Habitat which seems like it learned everything from a few hours of Food Network Canada. Go to Perigee.

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  1. haha... "wannasouers". you say that and i know exactly what you mean.

    1. You and the restaurant had bad luck with timing. Their old chef has left (with his somellier, I think) and the new chef began just two weeks ago. Here's hoping, though, that it gets better than what you've described.

      1. I can attest to the "bad timing" comment. I visited Habitat at the end of December and the meal was stellar. The food definitely surpassed my average expectations going in, most notably the kaseiki dishes (we ordered 7) and the lamb.

        1. Ditto with teameater. I ate there in Dec before Scott Woods left and it was excellent. Hopefully, the new folks will get settled in and regain some of Habitat's former glory.

          1. Same here, the meal and service was wonderful last Dec at Habitat.

            1. Geez, I wish I would have gone in December.

              Now, the place is no good.

              1. I was there in December as well as just recently. While the new chef seems to have some serious issues to work out, the meal in December didn't exactly rock my world. I really hated the chefs attitude. I have a shellfish allergy and ordered the 7 kaiseki if it could be accomodated. Instead of changing 2 dishes or informing me that they could only do 5, they served me lobster and an oyster, and charged me for a 7. The rest of the meal was complete hit and miss.

                1. I went there sometime last summer and left with the same impression - typical restaurant tacked onto a bar scene. Cuisine was uninspired given the price and service lacked attention. There is no reason to go given the wealth of options in the area (The Rosebud, Czehoski, Seoul City, etcf.)

                  1. Lived in Toronto 5 years. Always see a line up of people who look like they spend more money than they have waiting in long lines outside. Not having much money myself but wanting to show off.... i of course showed up. Utterly disappointed from start to end. Bartenders seemed to have a combined education of grade 8 and the attitude of the place was indescribable. Everyone seemed to be "try hards" or "posers" who claimed to know what makes a bar good. These folks seemed mislead into thinking a bar that plays anything Euro electro lounge and serves wine is a place of "high quality". It's anything but. It's a great place to prove you actually know nothing about good taste or design. I tried giving a few recommendations to the manager at the bar but he turned out to be to drunk to understand what I was saying. I just kept getting "say what", or "wanna drink chief".

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: SusanMc

                      Amen, SusanMc.

                      You're on to this place, big time.

                      That's the exact impression we were left with after visiting this sad excuse for a restaurant-lounge. It sucked.