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buddha dog--toronto version

Went today (a sunday); there were about 4 people in line in front of me.

Decor is very nice and I like the styling very much. Rough hewn boards on the walls, old brick--stylish, warm and fitting.

There were 2 other people in the place (which seats about 20 I would say, although the volume(space) of the place makes it seem like it should seat double that.

Now, the interesting thing about there being two other people in front of me is that this should mean that the staff are not getting slammed and can handle new orders quite well. I don't doubt they can, but apparently the technology they use cannot. They are using an iMac with a custom POS system that 'rings' in purchases via a barcode reading penwand. It's a temperamental bugger and in need of some slap therapy. After five minutes (I counted) the system let us order 2 'dogs of the day' and the lady manning the 'matrix' manually punched in another dog...for 3 dogs and a very nice lemonade called 'pucker up lemonade' it was just over $10.

The format works as such: one style of dog, one style of bun and you add the cheese you want and the sauce you want. Fridays you can order brie. As we were ordering, and perhaps to fill in the dead time while command central was trying to figure out why the penwant wasn't working, the Buddha Dog concept was explained to us; all natural ingredients sourced from the farmers around their Picton shop. They will source ingredients from people around Toronto as they are able.

We ordered the dog with mozzarella and tomato balsamic sauce and the aged cheddar with pesto sauce.

Firstoff, the lemonade is very good.

Secondly, the little buns are very good...very nice when toasted.

Most importantly I suppose is the dogs--I'm not entirely sure I like the casings. They seem 'tight' and require a lot of bite to penetrate...maybe this is only an issue because they are so small (4 inches long perhaps?). The taste is a little north of mediocre. I would like a bit more smokiness, but isn't that the beauty of subjective reviews...that may not be your bag at all. What you don't get is the best news...no overwhelming sense of preservatives and they taste 'fresh'.

The pesto sauce was underwhelming and I don't think went with the sausage, although the cheese was a hit and had a nice bite. The 'pizza' dog with mozarella and tomato balsamic was a hit and I would order again--you could taste the mozza, the sauce had a nice complementary bite to it, although perhaps a more garlicky edge would make it much better.

I would be back if relatively close by to the shop. I figure I would need to eat 4-5 to feel full and that I satisfied hunger pangs...that would be a $10 trip--not too bad. They do need to do something about that penwand, it's an unnecessary gimmick considering the iMac has a built in iSight which companies such as DeliciousLibrary have utilized as a built in barcode reader.

My rating overall is skewed somewhat...it's a hotdog place so how strictly do you rate that...I'm saying it's a 7/10.

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  1. I was probably behind you in line when I walked out because of the silly non-working pen for over 5 minutes. Glad the little cooker was working after all.

    Thanks for the thorough review!

    1 Reply
    1. re: deelicious

      Thanks for the report! Drove by it on the weekend and was curious to know what it's all about! Will probably drop in and try a dog myself!

    2. I like the tight casings on their dogs as they remind me of Winnipeg's classic European style wiener, the "skinner".

      Also, find the spicing and flavour of the meat itselt to be excellent.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bogie

        Sounds indeed like my kind of sausage dog. They are on Roncesvalles?

      2. Sounds rad! Do they have any veggie dogs?

        1 Reply
        1. re: squeaks

          I believe the menu board said they were working on them...but not yet

        2. Been to the one in Picton and while the dogs were tasty, I was shocked at how, uh, *teensy* they were. Not that I'm looking for street meat size, mind you, but they were more like appetizer dogs so you needed 3 or 4 to get a meal out of it...

          1. Tried again tonight (3rd attempt) at 6:15. Sorry - SOLD OUT! They sold out of buns. I will go back in August. Good luck hounds! BTW - They were serving the last few to some people and apologizing to each of them for the long wait. You can get a hot dog faster at a Blue Jay game during the 7th inning stretch than you can at this place. Amazing!

            4 Replies
            1. re: deelicious

              you are having terrible luck with this place!

              1. re: diesta

                Arm twisted, we headed there for lunch today...after all, one of my friends really wanted to check the place out and it didnt seem fair to think Buddha would need a whole month to get the hot dog service right....in their second location.

                It was closed today - reopens tomorrow.

                1. re: deelicious

                  deelicious - Buddha obviously does not want you to have any hot dogs. Better just take the hint and move along. ;)

                  1. re: gregclow

                    lol - yea. Looks like its street meat for me...

            2. Does anyone know anything about the ingredients in the hot dogs themselves? My impression is that they're all-natural from what I've read online, but it's essential that I avoid MSG.

              1. Somehow these idiots have managed to suck all the fun and simple pleasure out of the hot dog. This is easily the most pretentious and insulting restaurant experience I have ever had. Terrible, overpriced garbage. It takes 10 minutes to get a cocktail weiner on a bun that takes you about 45 seconds to eat. Carcoal grilled? Nah, pressed on an electric George Foreman-style home roaster for ten minutes. And don't think you can load up your dog with pickles, onions and sauces like you do at any hotdog cart in the city. You pay extra (!) for the privilege of a dab of one of their gourmet sauces or a sprinkling of cheese. No fries here either - in fact no side orders are available at all. There was a guy behind the counter doing a marketing spiel for people who were politely waiting for service. Instead of taking orders or you know, making hotdogs, he explained that the "buddha bowl" (soup) and the "salad program" would "roll out" later this year. It's clearly some yuppie marketer's experiment, not a restaurant designed to serve a community. For what you spend on two hotdogs at Buddha Dog, you could get pounds of excellent garlic keilbasa at any one of the old Polish delis on Roncesvalles. This is a really really awful restaurant with absolutely no regard for the customer. I can not stress enough - THE WORST RESTAURANT IN TORONTO.

                11 Replies
                1. re: roncie man

                  Cannot agree more roncie. Incredibly inept. The place is a joke.

                  1. re: roncie man

                    Personally, having eaten at the Picton Buddha Dog I've been waiting patiently for the Toronto location. I plan on continuing to wait until they've been open at least a month if not two. Condemning a place after only a week seems rather unfair. They come from the slow food capitol of Ontario, Prince Edward County. They were likely unprepared for the crowds descending on them here in Toronto. We seem to overwhelm new places with alarming regularity. They were also unlikely ready for the concept that they would need to fire dogs out of a machine gun to get them out fast enough for Torontonians. As for their prices, you are paying for the quality of ingredients.

                    Vorpal, it seems highly unlikely that they would source only quality PEC ingredients for their dogs and then put MSG in them. I can speak only of my Picton experience, but IMO they don't need any artificial thing to elevate the flavours.

                    1. re: Googs

                      Thanks for the heads up, Googs. I'll probably also wait a month or so for them to settle in and then check them out! I'm craving a good quality hot dog.

                      1. re: vorpal

                        You guys can wait. But wait until you find out that they only sell two things. Precooked hot dogs and buns. Imagine waiting a month or two to get the kinks out for a hot dog and a bun....and it's their second location. And the bimbo that works there has absolutley NO consideration for customers who are let down.

                        1. re: vorpal

                          It's really meant to be a good place to take kids for a lunch the parents can enjoy too. It isn't supposed to be Destination Dog. Please keep that in mind, Vorpal. If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, I hope you enjoy it.

                          1. re: Googs

                            OK, I guess my other review was a bit angry but please realize we're talking about precooked 7-11-style slim jims pepperoni sticks on wonderbread-style buns with your choice of one topping (pesto or aoili or whatever) and one cheese. and those extras will cost you a buck. and they're the size of cocktail weenies. and the staff are humourless and pretentious. and they have a barcode system and a giant Mac computer and a "concept", but no kitchen - just an electric grill, like the waffle-maker you might have at home. i would forgive them all their delusions of grandeur and bad attitude if they just delivered a satisfying snack but they don't even do that. I've also heard that their concept in Picton is all about local ingredients and hometown pride. Pretty galling then to open on Roncesvalles - the most hotdog-friendly street in town - and not even acknowledge the neighbourhood's traditional flavours (best sauerkraut and pickles in town, but you'd never know it at Buddha Dog). Add to this TERRIBLE service (no-one's expecting them to be fired out of a mchine gun, just seems like a ten minute wait in a near-empty restaurant is a bit excessive for two miniscule hotdogs) and you've got a really depressing waste of time and money. You're right about kids, though. The hotdogs are very small, and pretty much flavourless, so they might be great for toddlers. Very patient, very pretentious toddlers.

                            1. re: roncie man

                              I was about to be insulted on behalf of my toddler, but oddly enough she is impatient and unpretentious so... thanks for the laugh!

                              1. re: roncie man

                                Amen roncie man, i had about 20 minutes to kill, as my mom had her dinner at the nursing home up the street, so i thought i would pop in and have a quick little snack myself. Little snack is an understatement, i had read that they were small, but this is rediculous. If you where to have 3 or 4 or more, you would totally fill up on bread. the overall taste, well i won't spit it out, but it sure did'nt leave much of an impression, the garlicy aoli, was well i think missing a whole lot of garlic, the weiner, was on the george forman a tad to long, the bun was ok, but i can get the same on at swiss chalet along with my quarter chicken. So in a nut shell, a miniscule wiener, bland aoli, and before i forget, prob the most dimwitted servers i have ever encountered, next time i think i will pull up a chair and have a snack with my mom at the nursing home.

                                1. re: diesta

                                  thanks diesta! youve reminded me to go back and try the organic that people spoke highly about.

                                  1. re: roncie man

                                    I could not agree more with you. We went yesterday and had exactly the same impression.

                            1. I was going to travel across town to try this place after hearing raves about Picton. I've now lost any interest in trying it, but am still curious. Is this a branch of the "original" Picton place? Or did someone buy it for the purpose of franchising it and then gut the quality? (Or are we just more laid back in Picton than we are on Roncy?)

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: embee

                                Or did they cut the size down to increase the profit margin when they brought it to TO? Would the people in Picton be so supportive of a place that serves mini hot dogs? Is this the White Castle of hot dogs? Order a sack.

                                1. re: Yongeman

                                  I'm from Picton. I don't hear my friends down there talking about it, although I think they get some local trade. It's mainly a tourist joint.

                                  FWIW, I hear that the sausage/weiner things come from Aman's Abattoir in Wellington.

                                  1. re: koknia

                                    Thats my feeling exactly. They should have opened in NFOL or harbourfront or something. I believe they completely missed on the location selection and after meeting them several times, it does not surprise me.

                                  2. re: Yongeman

                                    The Picton location does the mini-dogs as well, although based on what I've read, they're cheaper there. $1.50 each, I think.

                                  3. re: deelicious

                                    There was an article about Buddha Dog in today's Star (http://www.thestar.com/living/article... ). I wouldn't call it a review -- no opinions offered, just some info on how the dogs are prepared and some general commentary on the state of hot dog "issues" today...

                                    I wonder if it will kick up any business....the hot dogs look pretty lost in the (already downsized) 10cm buns...

                                  4. also in line for 5, maybe 10 minutes. 3 folks working, but not the pos. could have jettisoned the machine for the 3 customers in line. My first name?! Why not just point to me? I ate 5 dogs, a grilled cheese sandwich and 2 waters with cute names on the label. Around 20 dollars all told. Seems there's dough in organic lips and bumholes, n'est pas? BTW they have French's in the fridge that they will begrudgingly dig out if you ask.

                                    1. Oh man, does anybody find this reminiscent of the "Burger Shoppe Debacle"?

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: Blueicus

                                        Yup... I associate this place with the Burger Shoppe and Cluck, Grunt, and Low: consistently badly rated food that isn't worth my time.

                                        1. re: Blueicus

                                          It sure does. But the Burger Shoppe is often very busy. Heaven knows why...

                                          1. re: embee

                                            I stopped in with a friend last Friday for a late lunch and had a really positive experience here. Was around 3 PM. There were about 4 other people eating there and 4 working behind the counter.

                                            I ordered 4 dogs. The dog of the day was Brie and with a rasberry sauce, had another with cheddar and chili sauce, next with garlic aoli, and the last with a smoked cheddar and cherry ketchup sauce.

                                            They seemed to have nailed out the scan ordering system and walked us through the menu. It still took about 10 min for the dogs to be served up and they brought them to our table.

                                            The dog of the day with the brie was the best - the brie, sausage, and rasberry sweetness were really good together. The chili sauce and cheddar dog was really good too. The other two were tasty but nothing really outstanding.

                                            Staff was friendly and asked how things were. So either they've fixed some of the problems or we got them on a good day. Regardless, both me and my friend enjoyed it and said we'd return if in the area.

                                            Based on the reviews here, went in with super low expectations and was suprised.

                                            1. re: abigllama

                                              Anyone else think brie on a hotdog sounds revolting?

                                              1. re: paper_bag_princess

                                                I'll eat brie on just about anything if the mood strikes me.

                                                1. re: paper_bag_princess

                                                  Ha! That's what I thought! It sure *sounds* revolting to me. But I guess I'd have to bring myself to taste it to find out for sure.

                                                  1. re: JamieK

                                                    Brie on lean beef with slightly smoked flavour, and bread. Doesn't sound that bad.....

                                                    1. re: Snarf

                                                      I'd opt for a brie & sausage version for sure...

                                                2. re: abigllama

                                                  Don't you find it a little expensive for ... dogs?

                                                3. re: embee

                                                  because it's not that bad of a place

                                                  1. re: diesta

                                                    The idea of brie on a regular hot dog sounds pretty revolting to me too. But these are more like small spiced sausages than hot dogs. More firm texture, can see spices and some fat in them as well. My friend had the brie dog too and really enjoyed it, wasn't just me!

                                                1. I've been to the one in Picton but haven't tried the one here. It seemed a bit touristy and gimicky. My experience there was pretty much the same as those echoed here in Toronto - painfully long, slow service, mediocre dogs, on mediocre buns with average toppings. The food was ok, but not great. I certainly didn't understand the hype and wondered if it was all self-promotion?

                                                  1. I guess I have trouble with the original business model. Lets take something like Toronto street meat, but lets make it smaller, charge more for it and charge for condiments. And lets make toppings that nobody else offers...can you imagine a hot dog with brie cheese and raspberry mustard....

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: robgm

                                                      And it's raspberry sauce!! The place doesnt even offer a mustard, the most natural topping for a dog, as that would be too lowly for their sublime $2.00 cocktail weenies. Plus how could they charge 25 cents for a squirt of mustard without looking even more greedy?

                                                      Website, http://www.buddhafoodha.com/, is nothing but a home page now. I think changes may be in the works. They should cut their losses and pull the Toronto location FAST!!

                                                    2. The sizing is actually one of my favourite things about the place. There are three reasons for the small dogs.

                                                      They pride themselves on the condiments, which range from genius to meh. Having different condiments means that your meal will be more interesting than just one uniform serving.

                                                      Also, parents get tired of throwing away half a serving of food *every* meal. One Buddha dog is perfect for a child.

                                                      Lastly, smaller sausages are traditional, I think in North America as well as Europe. The large size of street meat pushes you to eat more than you'd like. You and have 2-3-4-6 depending on how hungry you are.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: arugula

                                                        The Toronto location closed awhile ago.
                                                        Here is where they are now: