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Jun 11, 2007 09:14 AM


All over this board you'll see me mentioning Barrio as a great place for brunch, drinks, dinner and dessert, whether you live in the nabe or not.

I'm off my bandwagon.

I've been there half a dozen times in the last few months and have been disappointed every time. Brunch is tasty, but the service and serving sizes are way too small for the price (huevos rancheros has one egg, and the cornbread is the size of a small biscotti - beans are good though). Service is slow for brunch, and the last time the server had the worst breath and B.O... very off-putting any time, esp. in the morning. Also, by the light of day, the place is dusty and quite shabby - hidden at night when the lights are low/out.

A month or so ago I went in with a friend for drinks and dessert. When the server told us the specials of the night (after he took our original order), we decided to order one of them and I asked them to hold the dessert (WARM chocolate polenta cake). Apparently they had already plated the dessert and instead of re-plating it later, they put it in the freezer and served me the half-frozen cake and ice-cream, which is disappointing when not warmed. I accepted it as partially my fault since I changed my mind after ordering it, but it would have been nice to know the specials upon ordering our drinks - we would have ordered accordingly.

Friday night's visit was probably the worst. With promises of a new summer menu last month, nothing has changed - it's June and the menu still has Winter Vegetables and heavy meats. Apparently they have been having issues with their chefs... it shows. My friend and I ordered the frites with mayo dipping sauce - they were ok - too many tiny pieces and very salty. Next was the Tapas plate - brandade, CANNED, PITTED black olives, and about 6 thin slices of chorizo, about the diameter of a quarter - for $11. Next was the Roasted Stuffed Rabbit with Pistachio Risotto - they ran out of rabbit and I accepted a substitution of duck. The duck, all measly four slices of it, was cooked medium-well - and underseasoned. The risotto was pretty good, although I'm not a good judge of risotto.

I want to love this place again so much! Really I'm trying, but I'm going to have to move on for awhile. I'm hoping the Comrade gets a proper kitchen - we should have stayed there for their well-priced, well-chosen cheese plate!

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    Have to agree with thenurse...based on the recommendations here, I visted Barrio for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Ordered the falafel with tabbouleh salad... for $12! you get one falafel and about three tablespoons of salad...if this is tapas style food please explain how two people can share one falafel!..would it break the bank to give me two falafels for $12? Having said all this, the falafel and tomato jam was excellent. For $11 we also had the tapas plate...about 6 pieces of chorizo sliced paper thin and not enough toasts for the dip (I know lots of restaurants that would give a dish like this away for free to encourage patrons to nibble over a few drinks before ordering). The pork belly was excellent, but for $14 the portion again was friend's scallops and tuna were outstanding, cooked to perfection, but not enough to share between two persons and only two thin spears of asparagus. I loved the atmosphere and the quality of the food, but for the prices charged and the portions served, I think there are far better places to spend my hard earned dining dollars. A better choice, and better value in the same neighbourhood would be Gio's

    5 Replies
    1. re: Finnegan

      I have to agree. I went to Barrio a couple of months ago and really enjoyed the brunch - especially the waffles with lemon curd. I went back on Sunday and enjoyed the food as much as the first visit but was turned off by how dirty the place was. I have read on the board that it is quite busy on Friday and Saturday nights but that isn't an excuse for having a restaurant that is so dirty it turns you off. I was a little off put by the crumbs and food on the benches but it was the state of the washrooms that will make me choose another brunch spot in the future. I won't go into details and spoil anyones appetite but I have seen better washrooms in gas stations.

      1. re: professor plum

        Wow. Has there been something up over the last few months? It sounds as though there are some staff/kitchen issues. The prices aren't news to me, but it seems that some things are slipping seriously. What's the scuttle butt?

        1. re: hungry_pangolin

          Staff/kitchen issues is NO excuse for filth. Sounds like they need an owner/manager who cares enough to clean, or at least hire a cleaner. It's not rocket science- is just common scence.

          1. re: phisherking

            Barrio is over priced...the food was very good, but for the prices they charge you can do much much better in Toronto (hello Torito). I'll go back but not often

            1. re: phisherking

              I *wasn't* making excuses. I agree with you... I just wanted to know what the source of the problem was.

      2. Unfortunately, I think this place has really gone downhill since they lost their original chef (Roger Mooking) to Kultura.

        Great for drinks, but the food is losing ground to the radidly improving King/Queen East scene.

        3 Replies
        1. re: jgloverwork

          Wasn't there some sort of court case between the original owners?

          1. re: Edith S

            I don't know that much about it... all I know is that he left.

            1. re: Edith S

              I don't know about any court case, but Barrio was originally connected with Verveine and both changed hands at about the same time. One of the previous owners is running an inn located in, I think, Port Stanley.

          2. my husband and I love barrio for brunch but I have to agree the place is dirty. The benches are especially stained - I really wish they'd redo them in vinyl so they could be wiped down.........

            4 Replies
            1. re: shana

              Lower the prices or increase the portions

              1. re: Finnegan

                Yes the original owners (Michael and Kimberley) had a long and messy legal battle. They opened up Viervienne and a few years later, Barrio. This goes back at least 6 years ago, when both restaurants had amazing food. From what Michael told us, Kimberley decided she not longer wanted the partnership but wasn't willing to give Michael his share either. It sounded like their partnership was based on a handshake and not fully documented. Anyways Michael ended up suing and winning. He got to keep Viervienne but ended up selling about a year later. Barrio was also sold. Last I heard Michael was the Maitre de at Celestine and Kimberley moved to Port Dover and opened a b and b. I miss Michael, he had a great personality, very warm...and you could always count on a great meal at Viervienne. The place has changed ownership a few time since, and has just opened as Fare has a ways to go. I was recently at a birthday party caterered by Barrio and it was no great fact pretty tasteless.

                1. re: millygirl

                  Interesting. Thanks for the history millygirl!

                  1. re: millygirl

                    Actually Michael is a waiter at the mentioned restaurant and the Maitre de at Celesin is Jeffery Dinan. :) M.