Toronto Star's review of Splendido - Comments anyone?
- Charles Yu Jul 2, 2007 09:56 PM
Surprise that no one talked about the review of Splendido by Pataki in this Saturday's paper!! Comments anyone?
If you'd like to share your opinions on Splendido, this is the place to do it. If you'd rather discuss the review/reviewer, please start a thread on the Food Media & News board. It's OK to put a "heads up" here to point people towards your thread on the Food Media & News board.
I read it over the weekend. What she says seems to be true. I usually eat at Splendido 2 or 3 times a year. (since the early 90's) It was good when Arpi Magyar owned it, but the level of service is even better now. The food has gradually been getting more expensive, especially in the last 2 years. For example, last September we had the tasting menu, wines to accompany it, cheese plate after, and a flight of icewine each. Dinner came to around $540 or so for 2 before tip. Sure it was good but that's heading up into the stratosphere for Toronto. (I think we also had a glass of champagne each before dinner)
For what it is `worth. Splendido under Magyar was one of the`places that incited my wife to recreate the meal- properly. It was not that the meal was bad, but rather that the shortfall from promise and expectations- as confirmed by high cost - was enormous, and so large às to be insulting. Another Toronto ""Emperor wears no clothes parade"". It seems "plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme". You readers of Toronto high class restaurant menus written in Feench will understand the French to mean, "same shit, different day".
I have the same feeling on the line "underbaked Michel Cluizel chocolate soufflé" which is what happened to my souffle last time I dined there.... Service is really really TOP though.
I do not unserstand the point about the white asparagus at Splendido is cooked perfectly. It is just that it is cooked the traditional european way not the North American way. Traditionally it should be cooked till soft not like the green which is cooked el dente. The chef at Splendido does it right..
You are right of course. Undercooked white asparagus is tough and bitter. it needs to be cooked properly--that is poached at 95Celsius till it is soft but not overcooked. It isa very diffficult thing to do and I am sure the staff at Splendido know how to do it right. Obviously Pataki does not know this.
While we are on the subject does anyone else get annoyed when served barely cooked vegetables that need to be thoroughly cooked i.e. practically raw cauliflower , egregiously undercooked carrots and broccoli.
I agree-after a recent visit that asparagus is on my list of favorite dishes (I like to think about an international food crawl, eating all my favorites-mostly when I'm at work.)
I'm amazed at the number of food reviewers who have limited experience and seem to base reviews based on one visit, but I guess most papers can't afford to do it properly.
i travel internationally many months of the year and eat in restaurants reputed to be the "finest" as well as the many rustic restos that can also be a truly wunderful experience.
splendido, in my opinion, is one of canada's 3 or 4 top restaurants. although the service is truly exceptional, the food is for the most part, consistently exceptional as well. although once in a rare occasion a dish is not "perfect", if amy pataki really wanted to experience what splendido is all about and understand the nature of cuisine at that restaurant, at the very least, she should have gone twice and eperienced the range of cuisine offered.
amy pataki's revue was nothing more than a snap judgement of splendido and hardly befitting a respected reviewer of restaurants.
re: Vinnie Vidimangi
Not to steal ii2244's thunder, but IMO:
Here are some of the reasons (in no particular order):
They always greet ALL members of the party
In my experience they always have the table prepared on arrival and seat you promptly
Water is always topped up without asking
Wine is consistently poured by the server
All dishes for a table are served simultaneously
All dirty dishes are removed simultaneously
Servers are never intrusive
The room manager is always on alert for any ‘imperfections’ in the service
Bread is re-served without prompting and butter replaced if low
All staff are impeccably groomed
There are sufficient staff to adequately (even superbly) serve the customers
All servers refer to the patrons by name (e.g. Mrs Estufarian)
Empty glasses and other ‘odd’ empty serving pieces are removed by the first server passing the table (not necessarily the person who took the order)
When I attended twice within a short period (where one of the dishes in the tasting menu was identical to the previous visit) a substitute dish was served without my requesting it (or even commenting on it).
When you are paying your bill, the car jockey is sent to retrieve your car, so it is waiting for you (alternatively, you are asked if you would like a cab)
They don’t do two seatings at specific times – table times are staggered (even on guaranteed sell-out occasions such as Valentine’s Day)
I was really impressed by my initial dining experience at Splendido about 3 years ago. The service was flawless (I concur with many of the points listed above by estufarian ), the food was exceptional (the details are hazy but I do remember ordering a la carte and finishing with an excellent cheese plate). There was a nice German riesling (Darting) available by the glass. As I was leaving, wowed by my dining experience, I remember a warm sendoff from the host inviting me to come back anytime.
My second visit, just over a year ago, started off well but went a bit downhill after that. They remembered me and even seated me at the same table (nice touch). My server was describing the tasting menu to me which featured a lamb course and must have noticed from the expression on my face that I am not a lamb fan. He pointed to a lobster offering on the regular menu stating that I could substitute that for the lamb course so I agreed. I overheard him describing that same lobster dish to the next table as the meat being taken out of the shell, prepared as per the menu, and then replaced in the shell -so this is what I was anticipating.
The Darting riesling was no longer available so I ended up with an Ontario chardonnay that cost 50% more. (I had a long drive after my dinner, so wine pairings were out.) The tasting menu itself had some good to excellent points but didn't wow me as much as the food in my initial visit. Another server brought me a lobster fettucine course. Puzzled, I sent it back asking the server to make sure that it was the correct plate for me. My original server then showed up slightly upset saying that the chef had gone to some trouble to create this dish for me. I accepted it and I admit it was pretty good - it just wasn't what I was expecting. Maybe it was a misunderstanding, but then, to add salt to the wound, there was a $10 surcharge on my bill ... apparently, because I had switched to lobster. No mention had been made about this before but I paid the bill and left feeling somewhat disappointed with the evening.
It may have just been an off-night for the restaurant.... and for me. However, I do think that based on my first visit and all the positive comments on this board that I will probably return for a third visit.
My wife and I are very interested in trying out this restaurant. The question I have is whether anyone has any thoughts on how they will receive diners that do not drink alcohol. I have this thought that non-drinkers are not preferred by some of these high end restaurants...be interested in any opinions here.