Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Mar 23, 2007 06:06 PM

Circle T Grillhouse Buffet In Pickering

Has anyone been to the Circle T Grillhouse Buffet in Pickering? Is it worth going to? What did you like? What didn't you like? Website:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have been wondering about this place too. The prices seem a little too low.

    12 Replies
    1. re: sweetie

      I had lunch there the other day, some stuff wasn't too bad but overall it wasn't spectacular. The fajitas while made fresh, were very bland IMO (I'm assuming to please a wider variety of palates). The beef was pretty nice, sliced thinly to order and was very tender. I also liked the chicken they had set out on the skillet (but it was not freshly cooked and tasted more like it was reheated). The salad bar was alright but nothing really impressive (I had to pick rusted and wilted leaves out of my lettuce). I didn't try too many sides because they didn't look all that appetizing to be quite honest. The desserts were apple crisp, bread pudding, carrot cake, pudding, brownies and iced cream. The carrot cake was ok, the apple crisp was done on the cheap (made with apple pie filling) but tasted alright.

      For the price it was a decent meal, I just don't understand why a place can't make good food for a buffet. Here it seemed to be quantity (of sides) over quality. The other thing was that the sides I did try were cold. I got there right at opening (noon) and it felt like they threw leftovers straight from the fridge into the warming trays to heat up.

      Decent stuff: Beef, chicken, onion straws (my weakness)

      Passable: Desserts, fajitas, salad bar, garlic bread

      Didn't like: Potatoes (were cold), most sides (can't really comment I couldn't muster the courage to try them).

      Notes: Steaks weren't served for lunch so I can't comment on the steaks. I didn't try a burger although they were served as well. They looked like pre-formed patties though.

      If I were the owners I'd try and reduce the sides and try and focus more on quality. Why include shepherds pie and pizza in a texas themed restaurant? The money you save on reducing the sides, reinvest into making things fresh, keeping them hot and improving the overall quality of the items provided!

      Saying that, it was pretty full for a Wednesday at noon and it appeared to be about 75% older folks looking to fill up on the cheap.

      1. re: Dr Butcher

        Super cheap...but you get what you pay for...Suddenly The Mandarin looks way better...

          1. re: Connoisseur

            Personally I feel Lone Star has gone downhill. They used to have a decent Texas menu (loved their beef brisket) and you could smell the smoke from the parking lot. Then about 2 years ago they took out the smokehouse part of the menu (no more brisket) and "Canadianized" the menu so now it looks like Kelsey's or Montana's. Very disappointing for a place founded by a real Texan who opened the chain to bring his home cooking to Canada. Their fajitas are quite good, and their "Mexican" items aren't bad if you aren't one of these types overly picky about regional Mexican food, but if you were looking for Texas smokehouse stuff you're out of luck. Sad, really, since that was what made them unique and brought me there in the first place. We don't go nearly as often as we used to because of this..

          2. re: BloorWestie...

            Don't forget, this is simply Tucker's Marketplace trying to drop their prices (by dropping quality) in order to get into a price war with Imperial Buffet in Ajax. Ever since Imperial arrived last year (with lower prices and wider selection) the Tucker's parking lot got emptier and emptier. Tucker's closed down the day after Valentines and reopened March 1 as Circle T's. (get it, T for Tuckers?)

            Here's our take on it -- with those low prices we thought, worth a try. All I can say is, you get what you pay for. We went for dinner on a Monday and the place was maybe 1/2 full. Nothing much has changed inside other than they removed some of the better food items and tried to compensate by having the steaks grilling at the back. Gone are 3/4 of the desserts, 1/2 of the sides (and they left the worst ones), the stir-fry/pasta area (that's now the nasty fajitas and tacos area)...

            The biggest cutback was in service. Now you pay at the front where the bar used to be, (the receipts still say Tucker's Marketplace!!), they hand you your drink and tell you what numbered table to walk to. And while you're eating, dirty plates were slow to be cleared off by the skeleton staff of busboys. You had to wait a LONG time for drink refills. They might as well put the drink fountains out in the open like American buffet places if they don't want to hire enough staff to do this for you.

            You get what you pay for. We didn't feel ripped off but we were not satisfied
            with the food and don't intend to return unless there's a 2-for-1 coupon in the newspaper.

            1. re: TexSquared

              Thanks for the info on the Lone Star. Haven't been for some time and thought about going recently...

              1. re: Connoisseur

                We still like Lone Star. Guess it depends on what you go for. We LOVE their fresh salsa and chips, which are bottomless, and they have the best fajitas in town. My husband swears by their burger. It's a great casual place where you can kick back and relax a bit without spending a lot of money. They could stand to refurbish a bit but really... we go for the food and aren't disappointed.

                1. re: Lipant

                  Lone Star Pickering has hit rock bottom... $3200 in fines from Durham Region for health violations...


                  1. re: TexSquared

                    I am shocked, I have eaten there quite a few times and never once would have thought they were operating like this. Thank you for the heads up!

                    1. re: Dr Butcher

                      We live in the neighborhood and do go there on occasion, so I was disappointed by that. Even more disappointed at the menu change (see my post from March 28,2007 above), when they got rid of the smoker which meant no more beef brisket (they still have it on the menu as a sandwich, but I suspect that's brought in from somewhere else and reheated). They ditched exactly what made them unique and worth making a special trip for. We just get the fajitas now, the rest of the menu is blah.

              2. re: TexSquared

                Is that the only Tucker's that has gone that route? I rather liked the one at Warden/Eglinton.

                1. re: Teep

                  Warden and Eglinton recently moved into a new building in the expanding power centre and is still called Tuckers. I haven't eaten there since 1997, so I can't comment on the quality.

        1. Really blah.

          We went and were accosted for a drink order as we walked in. Felt very "Ponderosa". Since we didn't want a drink, they charged us $2 less for the food but a $1 surcharge for not taking a drink. An unpleasant way to start the night...debating logic with the waitstaff...

          The sides were really cheap and strange. Shrimp fried rice with no shrimp next to baked beans next to fettucini alfredo. I do know that a buffet is a buffet but come on, have a little consistancy with your theming. The steak was aiiiiight, but cheap and full of gristle. The tacos were god-awful...tasted like minced soy in sweet and sour sauce. They were out of any type of potato: baked, mashed, anything.

          It really IS just a Tucker's Marketplace with the "quality" removed. The prices weren't even that good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Suburban Gourmand

            What I find with type of eat all you can place stay with the Cooking table were they cook the food in frount of you and you can add or delite what you want otherwise the food stink

          2. Went to the Circle T for lunch a few weeks after it opened. This place is great if you have picky kids with a range of likes and dislikes. There is something for everyone. I found the salad bar well organized and very little chance of cross contamination if you have allergies to shellfish. The sides may need some work. Nice variety and everything seemed fresh. Wait staff were quick, friendly and courteous. Price was right and facilities are clean.

            1. Went there for dinner last night (Sunday) I cannot stress this enough, the food is horrible. Cheap price, $14.97 with a drink, but not worth the damage it will do to your body! Worst food I have ever had in this country. Food is of poor quality, burned/under cooked/over cooked...sometimes price is not everything.

              1. I drove my the other day and it is closed due to lease expiring.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dabears3234

                  Was't surprised to see it close. Even with those rock-bottom prices you rarely saw a full parking lot so they couldn't have been making money. Imperial Buffet in Ajax put them out of business, plain and simple. They couldn't survive as Tucker's, and they couldn't survive as Tucker's Lite either... have to wonder if the Tucker's chain has given up on Durham Region or if they'll try again somewhere else, maybe in Whitby?