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Sep 30, 2007 03:32 PM

Toronto Star Review of One in Hazelton Hotel

Here is the link, it is from yesterday's paper:

I thought it was in keeping with what most have said about the place on this board.

But what really caught my eye was the mention that Mark McEwan is opening up a 23,000 square foot grocery store next year at Don Mills and Lawrence. Now THAT will be interesting to see, indeed.

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  1. I've heard rumours of McEwan opening his own Pusateri's-type place.
    That he's doing it as part of the redevelopment of Don Mills and Lawrence is interesting indeed.

    12 Replies
    1. re: fleisch

      Pataki brings up what I have heard first hand and have read reported on Chowhound. Lots of service issues (it has just opened afterall) but I heard the food was as good as his other restaurants. Confusing numbers of plates but that's the concept.

      On a side note:
      Every Saturday where I work, we wait eagerly for Pataki's new review. Not as a even-handed judgement of cooking in the city but to see who the hatchet is applied to this week from someone who seems rather uneducated or perhaps inexperienced regrading the restaurant industry as a whole.

      As a result her credibility is in question and her reviews must be taken with a grain of salt...

      1. re: industry worker

        That is a very interesting statement, not good interesting! She has the right to have an opinion just like everyone else who dines out, she just gets paid to write about it. I personally think she has been bang on with most of her reviews. Most people in the industry, don't like getting any negative feedback. I am sure the food at One will be good eventually. I also don't think Mark McEwan is worried.

        1. re: lolo

          I believe she gives a fair rating, but the article that accompanies the rating is provocative just to be provocative. Slamming certain aspects or food or service just to to use colourful language (a la A A Gill from the London Sunday Times).

          As you say, I don't think Mark is worried. He's a successful restauranteur and will iron out the wrinkles.

          1. re: industry worker

            The article outlines many of the same concerns that people on this board have mentioned. Seems like she knows what she's talking about. The article doesn't strike me as being provocative for the sake of it, but if that is the case i'm sure her editors would be happy with that, since it sells newspapers.

            1. re: pescatarian

              Agreed. I didn't find the article to be provocative in the slightest. Perhaps amusing at times-I love her reference to a $52 steak and the service. Having to drape your coat over a chair for those prices? Come on!

              See, the problem here are greedy restauranters who hire design firms like Yabu Pushelberg at a hefty price. The end result is a restaurant that looks fabulous but opens at the expense of competently trained staff. Then they charge $52 for a steak to make up the difference and expect that their name and/or reputation will bring in the masses anyway. What it ends up doing is insulting the customer's intelligence. Then the downward spiral begins...

              But I'm not in the industry, and I'm over simplifying here I know. Just a thought from someone perhaps just as inexperienced and uneducated about the business as Pataki is.

              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                The Hazelton is billing itself as Torontos first 5 Star Hotel and as such I am sure they had a huge say in the level of decor at One as it is the hotels kitchen. I am also sure that there must be some extra incentive for One to be open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year (for room service) and every day for breakfast. I am sure they are not making any profiut at those times. That being said I have stayed at 4 star hotels around the world most recently in Bermuda and have to say One is a better space then most and the food prices are comparable.

                1. re: OnDaGo

                  The funny thing about the 5-star rating is that I heard a story from a friend of a friend that stayed there that The Hazleton designed and operates as a 5-star but has not actually been granted that status by a rating authority (this was 2 months ago). So at the time (maybe now?) that's just an 'aim'.

                  Which makes sense really because a hotel really can't 'rate' itself...

                  1. re: artificialard

                    I do not think there is a standard rating service.. mostly just travel companies rate them for their catelogues... I do not know of a Michelin type independant org that does it...

            2. re: industry worker

              Good grief. I think being an insider clouds your perception of what us outsiders are looking for.

              Pataki basically echoed the review by the Chow's own Ren Horace. Only Ren's was better written.

            3. re: lolo

              Some reviewers (and I'm only concerned with honest ones) take the position that they want to use their limited space to steer people to places they like. They view bad restos as not worth the ink or bandwidth.

              Pataki seems to take the opposite tack and delights in applying the hatchet. Her prose is, if nothing else, colourful. As with Kates, Davey, and Chatto, I read the columns and am interested in what she says. But I don't trust ANY of their palates and don't pretend that any of them is impartial.

              Pataki's comments on One, where I have not eaten, have a ring of truth. I'm happy to throw my coat over a chair and, indeed, resent being forced to check my coat and pay. But at these prices, service competence is part of the deal. If, as McEwan seems to admit, the servers are untested (with many of them incompetent) and the kitchen inconsistent, the menu should have introductory prices and carry a notice that a training situation is in effect.

              An acclaimed restaurateur serving $52 steaks has an obligation to provide fully trained staff at the front and back of the house. I can't posit whether McEwan feels he has reached the point where his name will sell and he needn't deliver, or whether McEwan has overreached his ability to maintain control. But, by his own apparent words, he has acknowledged that One was not ready to open. For now, we'll take a pass.

              1. re: embee

                I would assume that McEwan would have severe penalties if he did not open at the time of the Hotel for the film festival... as parties and guests were booked...

                1. re: OnDaGo

                  You are likely right. It's still not an excuse. I don't know the guy, but many consider him to be arguably the best food/bev manager in Toronto. He should have taken logistics he'd know about into account when setting menu items, prices, service standards, etc. If everyone is in training and things haven't settled in...

        2. I have no general opinions on Pataki's views as I don't read her column that often but I will say that her review summed up my experience 100% at One (and which I had posted). The food was good but not stellar and the service was amateurish enough to detract from the experience - bad service can ruin a good dinner no matter what the cost but I think we're all entitled to have even higher expectations at a place with this kind of price point and with a pro like Mark McEwan at the helm. To hire that number of untrained/untested staff, even if they were rushing on the construction to meet the filmfest deadline, seems crazy to me - the advance notice on One's opening was well known and I would think lots of well-trained wait staff would have been lining up to throw in their resumes. He might have even borrowed some of his best trained staff from Bymark or North 44 to ensure a smoother opening. As I wrote in my original post, I'm a big fan of McEwan's (though I don't know him personally) and I think he does believe in the total dining experience which made my evening at One that much more disappointing.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. I have spoken with Amy Pataki on the phone as the restaurant that I was working for at the time was being reviewed and she was truly a pleasure to talk to. She did give us a very fair review and pointed out kinks that we knew had to be ironed out. However...I think it is unfair for a food critic to review a restaurant within the first 3 months. A new restaurant has to go through many growing pains, regardless of how experienced or successful a restaurateur is. My second "beef" the ratings are done... in this case, One Restaurant got 2 stars, nest week some strip mall "chinese" restaurant in Markham might get 3 1/2 ...does that make sense ? Take the ethnic part of that last sentence very lightly...

              9 Replies
              1. re: fininho

                The reviewer is giving his or her opinion based on the visits that they have-as do we chowhounders...even before Grunt, Cluck and Low opened the daggers were out (fairly or unfairly). Why should anyone have to spend their hard earned dollars on an inferior product before it improves (if it ever improves). Chowhounders visit restaurants in the first three months and report their findings back here. Is that any more or less fair?

                One restaurant and some 'strip mall "chinese" restaurant' are offering 2 different experiences and as such each needs to be judged on their own offerings and how well they execute their vision-they should not be judged against each other but by how well they succeed as their concept as it relates to the dining public.

                1. re: robgm

                  This just illustrates the problem of "star" ratings. Of course you can't apply the same standards to a "strip mall Chinese restaurant", or Gale's Snack Bar, and to One, or North 44, or Harbour 60. That's why I ignore "star" ratings altogether. And that's why my standards of acceptable food and service vary depending on factors such as the price level and pretension of the resto.

                  I don't expect the same standards when dinner is $8.00 as I do when dinner is $100. But, especially in Toronto, the under $10 meal may come with better service, and better food, than the expensive meal. And when a place is pretentious (Kubo Radio comes to mind here), I am unforgiving no matter what the price.

                  I will agree that it isn't "fair" to review a restaurant before they have a chance to iron out all of the kinks. But that's just one side of the coin. If the restaurant is charging full prices, I expect them to deliver the full experience I am paying for. A few places I know served free meals while getting up to speed. Many more limited their menus and/or prices following a soft opening. But at the very least, even if selling the full menu at full price, the proprietor can warn that all might not be well.

                  If I was reviewing restaurants for a media outlet, I would think more than twice about reviewing a place with a "we are in practice mode" sign. On Chowhound, OTOH, anything goes from day one. That's not hypocritical! When a bad opening morphs into something better, the word gets out quickly here. Newspaper reviews don't typically provide this info.

                2. re: fininho

                  I assume that you have not dined at One, I have.

                  Pataki was gentle with Mark because, (and these are her words) he is such a charming guy. Do other restaurateurs deserve her abuse because they are less charming? She was generous with Mark because she likes him. And 2 stars is very generous. I would have given One just 1 star, or maybe None.

                  About a restaurant's growing pains. Does that include serving your clientele stale Angel Food Cake for dessert. At 13$?

                  I agree fully with embee's post, the one above your's. Read it.

                  1. re: fatboy44

                    I was at One this weekend. I think they have ironed out most of the kinks. The food was great and the service was very good too. I would definitely go back, the only downside is that it is very expensive once you order the side dishes with your entree.

                    1. re: ddelicious

                      As fatboy stated:
                      "Pataki was gentle with Mark because, (and these are her words) he is such a charming guy. Do other restaurateurs deserve her abuse because they are less charming? She was generous with Mark because she likes him. And 2 stars is very generous. I would have given One just 1 star, or maybe None."

                      True enough, charming only gets you so far, but I think they have worked on the kinks, but one should not get a good review merely because the reviewer
                      thinks they are charming or because of the other restaurants they have.

                      We were just there, and although the recent reviews have been very LOW, we had a great time and our server was fantastic, out-going and pleasant.
                      Mind you , we only had a few apps and more of a 'liquid' lunch, but all in all it was fine.

                      1. re: NoFixedAddress

                        I'm not commenting on the review, I didn't even read it. We had a great meal and a great time, so in my book its a good place to go if you don't mind spending.

                        1. re: NoFixedAddress

                          I think that most people are forgetting that reviews act as a marketing and press tool. And when you have establishments that have the reputation and cachet that McEwan has with his, any press is good press. Regardless of whether Pataki trashes or praises it people are still going to flock to the "new Mark McEwan restaurant". His reputation is like a well oiled teflon shield: any criticisms will just slide off like . Besides would you really NOT try a restaurant simply because you had to drape your coat over your chair? are Foodies really that anal?

                    2. re: fininho

                      fininho said "One Restaurant got 2 stars, nest week some strip mall "chinese" restaurant in Markham might get 3 1/2...does that make sense ?".

                      I cannot believe someone works in the restaurant industry actually say this. Food quality and service are not always in proportion with the price a restaurant charges. Otherwise, there will be no review required at all.

                    3. I have had 2 recent experiences at One. Last weekend my husband and I were treating ourselves to a Saturday of gallery hopping and had a list of destinations to hit in the afternoon. We popped in to One for lunch at around 2:00 and found 4 other tables occupied. While there was no lack of wait staff present and our server was trying to be gracious, we were left sitting in wait of a sandwich which we had hoped would be served with the soup. There was a half hour lull between soup and sandwich and just when the sandwich finally arrived the bread server showed up at our table for the first time to offer us bread... yes, with our sandwich!!!! Well, we might have enjoyed some of the bread offerings with our soup since the sandwich was so long in arriving. They really need to get their act together when it comes to timing. That said, both soups (chicken noodle and cream of mushroom) and pulled-pork sandwich were delicious. While our taste buds were satisfied, we did not appreciate the squandering of our precious discretionary free time.

                      I returned there for dinner last evening with a friend who was eager to give it a try. We started with the Lobster Spoons, tender, sweet lobster meat but swimming in butter. The mains were quite good, (beef tenderloin and orata) but the sides again were swimming in butter. While I do enjoy butter, I don't believe that it should be the main flavouring ingredient in a restaurant of this calibre. How about some herbs, seasonings and citrus..... something creative, perhaps. $400 plus tip including a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, which was unfortunately not chilled when first poured. We requested it put on ice and by the time we were half thru the bottle it had come to an appropriate chill. Servers should know that champagne must be poured in small amounts frequently so it is consumed chilled and while still fresh. Again, unfortunately, we had to educate our server after being poured tall glasses brimming with the not-yet-chilled bubbly.

                      Two strikes so far.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sh3lby

                        Thanks for the review. You have the patience of Job, two strikes is a strikeout in my game.