Chowfind at Main and Danforth
Just returned from Bistro Camino on the Danforth between Main and Vic Park (across the street from the Canadian Tire).
The restaurant used to be Japanese, but the owner decided to change things up and has now gone with a French/Mediterranean kind of theme.
Basically, the menu is a lot of more of the European "standards." Coq au Vin, Duck L'orange, Beef Stroganoff. So if you're looking for super-inventive stuff, this probably isn't the place for you. There's zero high-end attitude and the prices--incredibly cheap (though we don't want to let them know this) for what you get. For starters we had the beef carpaccio appetizer ($6) and then I had the Coq au Vin ($13 including soup or salad) and my hubby had the ox tounge. Both were good, though I thought my husband's was great--very tender and well-seasoned. Mine was slightly oversalted, but for $13 (which also included steamed veggies and roasted potatoes), I was quick to forgive this slight miscalculation.
Desert--a fresh fruit tarte with a chocolate custard was great, while the creme caramel was good, but in fact more a japanese-style pudding.
Our total bill for the carpaccio, 2 mains (which included sides and, as I said choice of soup or salad), 2 desserts, 2 glasses of wine and one pop came to $62 with tax. While Bistro Camino doesn't have a hip vibe (feels a bit like a fresher 'old school' restaurant) or a hot location both the service and food were excellent value for the money. And while I love the food of many cheap and cheerful Asian restaurants, sometimes it's nice to go for an inexpensive meal where the tables AREN't lined with plastic table clothes to haul away the post-meal dishes. We only found out about the place because it was written up in a local Japanese newspaper (my mate is from Japan). The only thing I managed to find online in English was this: http://www.snapbeaches.com/display/18...
I visited with my SO based on these reviews. So I must first thank you all for persuading us to go. Is it a destination place? If you live in the East of Yonge and South of Steeles then it is worth a trip. It's on the North side, East of Canadian Tire and opposite (in every sense ) Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits. Parking on the street is free after 6 o'clock.
Our waitress - the daughter - is an interesting character, quite willing to engage in conversation - although the restaurant was quiet this night. In terms of doing her job she did not put a foot wrong. She is a personality and we liked that.
No music. Clean subterranean bathroom (at least mine was - didn't enquire about the other) The access would be difficult for wheel chairs or severly immobile people. I did like the photographs lining the walls of the stairs. In so many places staircase are forgotten awful passages - not so here. There may be an accessible ground floor staff bathroom - didn't ask.
Gin and Saki. Had to have it as I never had it before. Gin overpowers the Saki, but to my palate that's a good thing.
Barbera $40. Reasonable solid wine, good nose. Big and round with a slight acidity that seems to suit bistro food. However, I would try something else next time.
escabeche salad - SO liked it. Quite a plateful, a meal in itself. SO left some fish because she was getting full (took it home). She enjoyed it and appreciated it, especially as it was not run of the mill. It was sweeter than the cerviche or escabeche I make at home, but that's fine - a Japanese take. Her compliment was, if she could get this dish for lunch downtown she would be very happy.
hor d'ouvres - good, potato soup (tasty), smoked meat (perfect), smoked salmon (biggish slice), savoury shortbread (rosemary and sage?? ok), tiny salad, escabeche (not sour enough for my personal taste), and - let's admit it - I've forgotten at least one item.
Coq au Vin - probably the ultimate 70's bistro dish. Competently done.
Duck confit, large, moist. Most enjoyable.
Veggies were same for both of us. Caulli, Broc - hot and still crisp (very good) with a hollandaise (?) sauce one of us liked. Then something that resembled a bread sauce - not the best for either of us. Roast-fried potato slices - very good.
Cheesecake. Too cakey for me, but nicely flavoured. Berry sauce was excellent.
Ice cream - that was very good.
We then put both plates in the middle and shared. The ice cream elevated the cheesecake - especially with a touch of berry sauce. Made for a very enjoyable dessert.
Total bill excluding tip was $100 (and the wine is a good chunk of that).
Astonishingly good value. This place is a keeper. As Arnold said... "I'll be back". Or more appropriately "nous reviendrons".
Visited Camino Bistro today for lunch with 3 other friends of mine. Read up about this hidden gem and it has been on my must visit list as I'll be moving up to the area after being in the DT core for a few years.
Just to get over with the decor or lack of, this won't be a place to impress your date. However the food more than makes up for its shortcoming. This would be the perfect place for a simple causal dinner during the weekday. A place to spoil yourself without breaking the bank account, which is very important in this current economic times.
Now for the food.
Soup of the day: Lentil soup. It was a great starter and guaranteed that the restaurant is a definite keeper.
Breaded Sole Fish: It was a crowd favorite. Light and crispy without being overly greasy.
Beef Stroganoff. Its as good as what everyone says. The meat was done nicely and topped with mushrooms and onions in a nice thick rich sauce.
Salmon Omelette: Didn't try it but my friend said it was nice but nothing spectacular.
Beef Filet Mignon: It was decent. I believe it came with Café de Paris butter which added a decadent edge to the dish.
Dessert: Creme fresh with coffee jelly and custard. It was light and delicious.
The total bill excluding tips came up to $59 (there was an extra order of coffee).
Definitely good value and a must visit for the budget conscious. I've the restaurant's number saved into my mobile for easy reservations (but don't think I will see the day I'll be turned away as the restaurant is full. Lol.)
On a side note, Camino Bistro will no longer do lunch for Sunday. It is best to call to confirm.
We gave Camino Bistro a try Saturday evening. Here's the rundown:
GF had the "Sea" menu consisting of an appetizer plate, Kingfish main and desert.
I had the beef stew special.
Appetizer plate: very good quality prosciutto, very good quality smoked salmon, some cold cooked/lightly pickled fish (not sure what it was), a small cup of chicken soup, and some short bread parmesan biscuits with dollops of fish mousse on top of them.
The prosciutto and salmon were served as is. The quality was high enough that this was fine. They were very good.
The cold cooked/pickled fish was interesting. It didn't have that much depth of flavour and was a bit fishy. If it had been a bit fishy with a few layers of flavour I think it would have been okay. But as it was I kept on thinking of gefilte fish.
The parmesan short bread with fish mousse was a hit. GF absolutely loved them. Just the right amount of cheese was used so that it accented the shortbread and mousse rather than overwhelmed it. Very nice.
The chicken soup (which was served as part of my beef stew special as well) was the equivalent of a decent home made chicken soup made by a mom that likes to go easy on seasonings. Lots of nice ingredients were in it, but the broth was somewhat lacking in flavour. Sort of like the broth had been made with a quarter of a chicken rather than a full chicken or two. Can't say it was bad or awful because it wasn't; it was just very restrained flavour-wise.
GF's grilled Kingfish main was nicely done. Good, meaty and tender. I felt the miso was more of a miso dressing as appearance/taste wise it was grilled then dressed rather than dressed/marinated then grilled. Still, a tasty enough piece of fish. The fish came with rice and lots of sauteed or baked vegetables, broccoli, onion, carrots, etc. GF liked it all. Fairly substantial.
My beef stew special on the other hand wasn't too substantial. I'll say that it tasted like a decent pub-type beef stew with the thick gravy and all that. The gravy tasted like some short-cuts had been taken (just didn't have that completely from scratch taste) but the beef was tasty and tender and all the root vegetables were good.
Really I can't complain about my part of the meal because the price was only $14.99 for bread, a big bowl of the soup, and the stew. Less expensive and better than at a pub.
Dessert was the one real let down. While the creme brulee was probably tasty enough at one point, it was served cold and had that cold/mealy mouthfeel. I expected better.
The by-the-glass wine prices are very reasonable - - so we ended-up having a glass of wine each, her meal and my meal for about $52 before taxes/tip.
The other thing is that while the decor/atmosphere is a bit rundown/non-hip, it's also very relaxing and unpretentious. The wait staff and Hiro make you feel very welcome and comfortable eating there. It's very homey and nice.
As the OP said: it's not spectacular but it's definitely a great value and a good place to eat. A definite find.
Went back to Camino last week and was once again satisfied. My SO and I ordered 2 set dinners, one with the steak and the other the ox tongue. Having recently read Now's review of best dishes in TO under $15, I was looking forward to trying the tongue dish which made the Now list.
Meal started again with mini apps and were just as good as last time. The mains were perfectly cooked and were delicious. The portion of the steak was huge for the price and the fried potatoes were really good but we were both stuffed and left a couple uneaten which was really a shame. The tongue was very tender and the sauce was delicious. Desserts were creme brulee and cheesecake. Both were good, nothing really special, but was a good end to the evening. THe cheesecake has more of a cake texture than cheese, we ended up packing half the slice because we were stuffed and the slice was huge.
Once again, 2nd visit in a month and will definitely repeat. Great service and good food at very reasonable prices...
I have to agree - that tongue is killer. Serious comfort food. Even the boyfriend thought it was pretty good, after trying it even though he was a little weirded out by the fact that it was tongue (he is not yet a true hound, but seems to be responding well to training). I'd love to see their wine list get a little more interesting, but I can't see that happening anytime soon. I think Camino is just lovely and look forward to going back.
Actually, my family and I were just there for my birthday, and they have certainly expanded the choices in bottles on the list. We had a great Australian shiraz at $40 (I forget the name, sorry). Of course, the wines by the glass remain the same, but given that the restaurant is not as busy as it deserves to be one can see how they wouldn't want to crack 20 bottles of wine.
Finally got there for dinner last night and all I could think was, "Why isn't this place packed to the rafters?" Service excellent, not obtrusive, food very good quality and presentation, decor warm and relaxing, excellent value, chef came out to ask how I enjoyed things...basically the experience of everyone else here.
Yeah, location isn't what you would call prime. Fortunately it's near to me so I will be returning repeatedly.
bistro camino was delightful! we ordered from the prix fixe options (you have two choices, $25 or $28, each three courses - we went with $28). the location is dreary - it's across the street from a canadian tire on a very downtrodden portion of the danforth (smack dab in the hinterlands between east york and scarborough). the sign outside is quite garish and hints more at 80s nail salon than french bistro. the interior features drop ceilings and a mish mash of quaint, country accents (fabric florals, hunter green wainscoting) and ye standard pub cast-offs (captains chairs). the service is hilariously well-intentioned.
it started off with what the menu described as "selection of 4 hors d'oeuvres - ask your server" so we asked the server what the hors d'oeuvres were (the menu was a little enigmatic). she rattled off a list of what seemed like 10 items. when we tried to order 4 from the list, she quickly interjected - "no, you get some of each of them." !!!!!!!!!!
the hors d'oeuvres consisted of (clockwise from top): a lush, satiny, cream of lentil soup; dilled gravlax; salty, chewy bayonne ham with a dried fig; a ham and leek spring roll; a perfectly crisp-coated and oozy bit of fried camembert; a rosemary biscuit with a topping of crunchy sea salt and tobiko; and a pickerel escabeche. everything was extremely well prepared, tasty, and showed a competent hand in the kitchen.
for my main i chose the duck confit with italian sausage from the prix fixe options. the duck was a staggeringly generous portion of perfectly cooked, moist, clean-tasting duck leg. served with crisp-tender vegetables and cheese sauce (!!!!!), a little potato topped with herbed sour cream, a little dab of chickpea puree, and custardy sauteed eggplant. the italian sausage was delicious.
the dotytron got the steak in green peppercorn sauce, which was a full 8 ounce striploin cooked to a perfect medium rare. it came with the same vegetable accompaniment as my dish, but was sided with thick cut, crispy outside, fluffy starchy inside potato wedges with more some more flaky, crunchy salt sprinkled on top. it was delicious (do i have to remind you that this was for TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS?????
C ordered the lamb cacciatore, which i didn't try, but it looked delicious.
to round out our prix fixe (TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) we were told to order what we wanted from the dessert menu (regular price for desserts ranged from $5-$6). i ordered the profiteroles and got one jolly, fat one, stuffed with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. delicious!
the dotytron ordered the english trifle which would have been perfectly lovely had it not suffered the curse of what i call "the attack of the random mish-mash of fruit." if they had just stuck to the jam-soaked sponge cake, custard, and cream, and left off the kiwis and whatnot, it would have been a winner. even at that, for the price we paid for the meal (TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS A PERSON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) it was well worth every penny and i almost felt guilty paying so little when we settled up the bill.
the best part is, the chef came out and inquired in his halting english how we enjoyed the meal, accompanied by stiff little demure bows. he was a compact, old man with a sweet, genial twinkle in his eye. it's all my favorite things in one place! old, asian men! hard-working cooks! people trying to make an honest living! good, unpretentious food!!!!! a price that can't be beat!!!!!!!!!!! TWENTY EIGHT DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i want to go back there and i want to bring everyone i know there so that they can support the endeavors of someone who deserves success. i wish a blight and pox on every overpriced gourmet burger joint, or any college street "little italy" excuse for a deplorable plate of penne with vodka sauce that takes business away from bistro camino.
Had dinner at Camino a couple nights ago. I live around the corner and have driven past it since it was still Japanese.
There were 2 other tables when we arrived and as many have pointed out, the decor is quite outdated and can definitely use a touch up.
Only one waitress and her service was attentive pleasant. We checked out "The Menu", which is 5 sheets of paper stapled together hehe...I knew of it from the post, my SO was a little shocked...but no biggie...another area they should fix IMHO.
We decided to go with one $28 set dinner and one entree. The set came with Hor Doeuvre, entree and dessert. The starter comprised of different snacks such as spring roll, cured meat, smoked salmon, mozzerella/tomato, soup sample etc. SO and I really enjoyed it.
For entree, we got the the Beef Stroganoff and a Duck Confit. The Confit came with soup and we got the pea soup which was very good.
Both main were good and the veggies were really fresh and well prepared. Both portions were big and the beef was very well cooked and tender and the sauce was rich and tasty. The confit was also tasty and tender and not too salty like some places.
By now we're both stuffed and decided on the fried ice cream for dessert. That could be the only complain we have as the batter was a little too thick and we ate only half of it before getting sick of it. The ice cream and the berry sauce was delicious though.
Overall, it was a good meal and a place I would revisit for a nice meal. The service was good and we can tell the chef really cared about his food and customers. It's a place where you can go with good company and have nice food and just sit and chat without feeling rushed or anything like that. On top of that, you'll get good value out of your money IMO, as long as you're not looking for anything too fancy.
Yes, they are open for lunch, except Monday. I've had lunch there and it was great. Incidentally, I also went there last week with a group of 8 for a Birthday dinner and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of them had never been before and were very impressed with the food and the service. They also supplied a birthday cake, for which they charged $ 20.00!!!!!! Unbelievably good!
I live around the corner at Vic Park/Danforth and practically drive past this place everyday and was surprised to see how well posted this place is and would like to check it out sometime soon. I would just like to know from the regulars whether the prices have gone up and or the quality has gone done since the summertime. Any info would be appreciated.
The quality and prices have not changed, I for one, am still enjoying it as much as ever. I had dinner there on New Years Eve., and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a set menu, and was fantastic for the price( or at any price). Don't let the emptiness scare you, it doesn't get nearly enough business. And by the way, they are closed until the end of January.
I had lunch there, and first of all I'm amazed that they are open for lunch in that area! Soup came first (it's part of the deal) a lovely clear broth with a little corn and ham and some crunchy slices of that Asian root with the holes in it. The lunch menu has several omlettes and eggs benedict - I saw lasagne with bechamel sauce (hurray! the northern Italian variety that I knew and loved in the UK) but opted for the breaded sole and it was very good, fresh fish, done in panko crumbs, not greasy, and with what seemed like home made tartare sauce on the side (chunkier than commercial), salad with the usual Japanese style dressing, nice home fries, not greasy and two chunks of toasted Italian style bread that I didn't try. By now I was a staggering $8 down, and stuffed, and very pleased! In the interest of research I pressed on and had creme brulee for desert, ($5.50) it was lovely, with fresh fruit sitting on a little pond of beautiful light creme anglaise. This guy knows his way around the kitchen! With a pot of good green tea, ($2.00 - endless refills), the whole bill came to 17.52 including taxes. There were about a dozen other patrons, and all left very happy. The server was terrific - worthy of a high tip - genuinely friendly and very caring and efficient, and the chef came out to see how I liked my main course.
I agree with other posters - this isn't JKWB or anything in that direction, but I believe it is quite UNIQUE in Toronto - the Japanese attention to detail and quality combined with the classic old school French cooking with Japanese flourishes - it's almost, for Toronto, an "anti restaurant" - skilled cooking, dishes we all secretely love, and service and a welcome that says they are genuinely glad we are there. And isn't it refreshing to be in a place where the decor reflects what the owner thinks is nice rather than when they fear what people will think and hire a decorator. So it's a time warp, but somehow, that whole part of the Danforth always seems like it's 2 -3 decades behind, so what's the harm in a trip down memory lane, especially for such well prepared food at such amazing prices. Can't wait to go for dinner! Get out there Hounders and support this place! Who knows, it may be the start of a whole new trend.
From my previous post, you know that I'm a supporter of Camino. However, the one constructive comment I have to the owners is that they should consider not making the restaurant what it isn't. That is, it's clear that it's a family restaurant so why not make is so? Trying too hard to make it feel like a formal French restaurant just wouldn't work in that area. Cut out the formal attire and relax a little - you can still provide great services without the formality. Otherwise the food and services were truly fantastic.
Went there a couple weeks ago and all-in-all well worth the $35 for 2 mains and dessert.
It's fair to criticize anything, but again it has to be done in context.
This place is not billing (both figuratively and literally) itself as an expensive place, but as a place to get good quality food at a very good price.
It was a unique set of flavours, ingredients and presentation that I particularly enjoyed.
We ordered the minced lamb with blueberry mint sauce as well as the baked shrimp pasta dish. Dessert was the baked cheesecake.
Found the food enjoyable...the atmosphere a bit too outdated.
My wife and I were frequent diners at the old Mika Japanese restaurant. When we found out that the owner turned it into Bistro Camino we were curious as to what it was like. We were surprised by the quality, quantity and value. With most of the other posters, I agree that Bistro Camino isn't a Susur's or Jamie Kennedy resto or Thuet or Bymark. It is however a very good find and a place you don't need to set aside for special occasions. I've only seen one poster comment about the tempura ice cream. PEOPLE this is the dessert to get. We used to order it every time we ate at Mika and we thought that when it closed down that was the last time we would get to enjoy this treat. The only thing I wish they didn't change was the peach sauce. Mind you the berry sauce was quite delicious and complimented the entire dish.
As for the rest of the menu, I think they're still experimenting on what is working and what is not, hence the extensive menu. I tried the peppercorn steak and frites and my wife had the "Land to Sea" salad along with the lobster thermidor. My steak was cooked perfectly (blue), the fries were large cut and leaned towards roasted potatoes, the various side veggies were delicious (fiddleheads, squash, grilled corn, broccoli, and cauliflower) and the creamy black bean soup was excellent.
The service was excellent and the joint was about 1/2 full. The chef did come out to chat with everyone and that was nice. As for the decor it was comfortable, not fou-fou chi-chi nor a dump. After reading the other reviews I think the menu does change occasionally as I didn't recognize the dishes others have tried.
My wife had the Chilean wine (something Diablo -- basically The Devil in the Cellar) and she really enjoyed it. I do believe it sells for $12 a bottle at a U.S. Costco.
I really hope it continues to have even moderate success as we plan to make it a regular stop again.
I went to Bistro Camino this evening and found it enjoyable, but not somewhere I'd return to again and again. That may have more to do with our boredom with classical cooking. Unless it's done exceptionally well it never seems to impress. I'd rather have something interesting from SE Asia than a beef stroganoff any day.
The food at Bistro Camino is very competent and there were a few standouts (chick pea soup) and a few duds (bland cheesecake) . They could half the menu, and maybe print it on a card - Four sheets of crinkled A4 stapled together does not a menu make. The place needs a bit of a spruce-up, too. Some white paint over the dreadful bright green trim and removal of the fake flower baskets and photos of the Canadian wilderness would bring it up a bit. It reminded me of a roadside restaurant in Northern Ontario, or maybe someone's basement rec room - a real mishmash. Service was attentive and quick but trying a bit too hard.
We spent $70 for one app, 2 entrees, dessert and coffee and one glass of wine.
My husband and I went to BC a few nights ago and really enjoyed it. I think it's a little silly for people on this board to expect fine dining-type quality when you know it's only a neighbourhood family restaurant. My husband had the Oxtail and I had the Duck a L'orange set menu. We both loved our food and had good time - the waitress was professional, attentive and sweet and even the chef came over to say hello. We had a 3 course dinner and cocktails and it only cost us $65 in total. You simply cannot beat that. And regarding the French cuisine with a Japanese twist, it kind of reminds me of the original Iron Chef Japan TV show where some of the chefs were classically trained French cuisine chefs! I like the creativity and good for them for trying something different. ;)
For those looking for good food in the neighbourhood, I would like to add that Relish is by far still our favourite in the area. All of our friends rave about it. I look forward to trying Batifole and Quattro Raggaze. Thanks!
We wouldn't have known about this place but for this thread- well done, chowhounds! the husband and I are not so easy to please, so what a pleasure to find this gem in walking distance. Very good food beautifully presented, a charming and efficient waitress (chatty, but we liked that), all in all excellent value for the money.
I had the sole gratin- the waitress warned me that the cheese topping was unusually lavish, and even with her suggestion of three-quarters of the normal amount, I still found it too much cheese for the fish underneath. Not a large quibble when everything else was so very tasty. Wonderul soups and assorted bits of deliciousness on the app taster plate- the husband enjoyed his Stroganoff- and the desserts were a treat.
Because word is getting out, we're less likely to go on weekends when the place now tends to fill up, but we'll definitely keep El Camino as an ace in the back pocket for those weekedays when mama doesn't feel like cookin'.
Sorry you and your group had very bad experience. I don't agree to everything you have mentioned about the food and the service. The food for the price is a good deal. You don't find many restaurants, where they prepare 6 or 7 different vegetables to accomidate the food. Every one of them have different flavor to fully enjoy the plate. You rave about Batifole but even their accomidations on main dishes, you have pay extra. I remember I ordered the french fries and my friend ordered vegetables to accomidate the meal and they charged us $12 for some saggy cold fries and over cooked vegetables that was just not edible. Just like VVM says on the other posting, I prefer a composed plate.
About the service, I have never had a problem and the waitress is always friendly and not endearing as you have mentioned. Very knowledgable and willing to help you. I have paid more money to receive one third of the service they provide me. Yes they do not provide first class service but for the price you can't expect them to.
Yes it is not a restaurnt that is worth the travel of 30 minutes, but oddly enough I talked to a fellow customer who lives near Newmarket and makes the trip to this restaurant.
We all have different opinion about or likes and dislikes, but I feel that this restaurant does not deserve such a posting. And I am happy to see some people do agree with me.
P.S. I was there on the weekend and had the exact same appetizer set menu plate. I know the mayo seafood salad you are talking about and I recall it was toast not rice crips as you have mentioned........ Wheat, not Rice..............
perhaps i should have read the threads more thoroughly, though i was still not in hot anticipation of absolute gastronomy, but i wouldn't dare waste my time with the trek again and regret not just stopping short at batifole.
the service was certainly endearing and made a good attempt at attentive formal service but the waitress' narrative was a little odd at times. i did appreciate the change of flatware with each course and watching her root around the candy dish to ensure that there was a different flavour of hard candy for each patron.
it was the food that really sealed the deal for us. the japanese influence was clear from the start but poorly integrated into the flavour compositions. the mixed plate of 4 hors d'oeuvres were a mixed bag with a very bland oyster cream soup and odd seafood salad on a rice crisp that contained far too much mayo and surimi. the smoked meats offered a little redemption. the only dish that was remarkable at all ended up being a delicately cooked and plentiful oyster and bacon salad.
entrees took a dive with a tough kingfish and duck a l'orange swimming in overly salted and sugary sauces, respectively. the variety of vegetables was astounding (fiddleheads, okra, squash, etc) but a hollandaise, leaning on the side of flatly flavoured mayo, masked their freshness.
panna cotta was the only dessert that i tried and while it was obviously spooned into its individual portions for service, it was certainly passable with a very strong orange and coffee essence.
the experience was far from some of the worst i've had in toronto but the hype really is just hype. a cheap meal can come well respected but a good cheap meal this was not.
ps. re drinks, i paid very little attention to the short wine list (which had lindemans among its selectoin) but did note that they had hoegarden available at $5 a bottle.
My review is somewhat less gushing than others, but we still left happy. Thus far, psp's experience was unusually bad. This place doesn't hype itself at all -- the hype has come primarily from some of us. But I agree that Bistro Camino does not justify a jaunt across town. I'd say they try them if you are in the area - it's otherwise a culinary wasteland and they deserve some success. Let us know if you do, of course.
Hey PSP, like googs says, welcome back....
Had kingfish on my one visit and it was not tough. Considering some others experience, was clearly there on a good night. Agree with you PSP that it is nto a destination restaurant. I'd classify it as moderately decent but quirky neighbourhood fare. As I said in a previous post, what they seem to be trying for is a peculiarally Japanese interpretation of French Cuisine. Some of it works and some of it doesn't. Found the same thing in Tokyo years ago. Take the extensive "gratin" menu for example. Not common here, but very much so in Tokyo (of course my data is years out of date).
Anyhow, too bad about your experience (also read about your trip to Tsukiji: how disappointing, but I've posted on the Japan board about it,albeit briefly).
i wasn't sure where to start... but thank you for the welcomes :)
it is entirely possible that we were there on a bad night but my main purpose of posting was to give another viewpoint in a thread that has been significantly positive and to truly iterate (as it had definitely been pointed out before me) that this is not actually destination dining. i'm that from just strolling the neighbourhood beforehand, that this is as good as it gets.
it's just so overwhelmingly mediocre that to go that distance (i am a west-ender you see) that i would prefer to have just dropped off in batifole and made a meal of their bread. which i may do later this week.
none of our party had many positive things to say except for what i mentioned thus far and we even had an awkward moment outside of the restaurant before parting where we noticeably refused to say anything about the food. and service was far from deplorable, she just had a familiar personality of an interesting person i vaguely recall.
i can accept the awkward japanese interpretation/fusion... and admittedly enjoyed a rich gratin while in tokyo (such amazing dairy), but it just didn't click for me at bistro camino. i just fear that the restaurants we've begun to hype on dear old chowhound are starting to become representative of the fact that we don't have excellent cooking happening in much and most of the city. we don't always have to seek out the best, but is it becoming that much more increasingly difficult to find "good"?
maybe i'm getting jaded with nostalgia of a time that i was never part of, the effects of reading a chatto memoir perhaps!
To PSP. It seems to me that the goal at Camino is not to create a series of "remarkable" dishes, but to create a nice meal at an affordable price; so that you will want to come back next week. It is not that I am opposed to remarkable ("amaaaaazing") but the attempts at remarkable in Toronto at the chi-chi yup-yups simply make me angry. Typically the "house salad " is composed of narcissism, insecurity, incompetence and expense . And as the Jackie Mason joke goes, even worse, the portions are too small.
Somethings at Camino are better than others, somethings I would take off the menu if the decision were mine, sometimes something gets screwed up: but even Moses and Jesus had a bad day, and history excused them. What I find remarkable about Camino is that the kitchen gives me a good, nice, interesting and satisfying meal a reasonable price. I now know my way around the menu, so I have a better- indeed a great - chance of success. The whole thing makes me not begrudge the 30 minutes it takes me to get there from home (in off hours). (I admit that free parking off the Danforth does have its attraction.) And you know what, I have nowhere else to go for a nice, western style meal at a reasonable price. Please tell me if there are choices.
I am surprised about PSP's dissatisfaction with the soup. The soups that I have had (and a different one each time) have ranged from good to superb and I am a tough grader (although I may gush once in a while when surprise overwhelms me).
As for the service, I find the waitresses friendly, relaxed, trying to be helpful and often succeeding. The atmosphere that they create is one in which I want to ask them to pull up a chair and share dessert with me. After all, service is service- the waitress should not be rude, not need a bath, and should not drop a dish on me. I would talk about service at the end. If I were to want my ass kissed, I would go elsewhere than to a restaurant.
re: Vinnie Vidimangi
Once again I have to agree with Vinnie, Bistro Camino is a friendly neighbourhood place to drop in to, and I think it is very unfair to compare it to Batifole. First off, it probably costs half of what Batifole charges,and for what you pay, you get very good value! I have gone 5 times in the last few weeks,with various friends, and each one has thoroughly enjoyed their meal and wanted to come back. Since i go out frequently for dinner, I am always happy to find a reasonably priced restaurant were I also can enjoy the food. The service is very friendly and helpful, something that I personally like. I am sick of restaurants where they act like they are doing you a favor allowing you to spend an enormous amount of money and give you a lot of attitude!!! Fortunately we all have different likes and dislikes, otherwise there would be ONE very enormous, overcrowded restaurant to share!!!!!
that's fantastic! i'm earnestly glad you enjoy it and have found it and are frequenting it more than enough to ensure its success... but it's still not for me.
i am comparing it to batifole because that is as far north and east as i tend to go for food these days (barring the odd jaunt towards scarborough for chinese fixes) and i would have much rather paid the difference at batifole (minimal to me when i don't even want the daily soup or salad at camino but prefer to have that $9 app on their board) and been very happy.
i didn't enjoy it, that is all. i didn't even find it all that cheap. after the $28 prix fixe and splitting some of the $20 bottle wine tab... i somehow am still topping out at $40 for my experience. i don't need a deal to make me feel like my meal was better. i'm not even sure i got a deal. we can just leave it as value in the eye of the beholder.
We live in the heart of newly chic Leslieville, previously known as the South Riverdale slums. The number of restaurants to which we can walk is large, and is growing literally every month. At least five more will be opening shortly. Yet, for the most part, there's nowhere to eat that offers a broad menu of reasonably priced food that tastes good.
We'd love to be regulars at a neighbourhood place but nothing beckons - nothing at all. Everyplace around here costs too much, offers too little choice, has unreliable cooking, emits tons of attitude, is too low end, or various combinations of these flaws.
Batifole is close and has proven the most reliable restaurant in our area. However, their menu is limited and reservations are almost always a must. We eat there, and like it, but it's not a "let's grab something coming home from the gym" kind of place.
We'll go to Joy in the summer, more for the patio than the food (which can be fabulous, but often isn't). We went more often when $8 sandwiches (great ones) and $12 pastas were options, but they no longer serve such plebeian dinnertime foods. And Joy is now a $50 pp kind of place (admittedly down from double that two summers ago).
In short, we'd love to have Camino on our stretch of Queen, and we'd probably eat there every couple of weeks. But, no, it is not a destination. Even from Queen & Logan, it's too far. But after shopping at the Danforth/VP Dominion (their best store in this part of town) or trekking home from the eastern burbs, Camino is a wonder in the area. Though some entrees cost more (e.g., lobster), a choice of good tasting meals with wine was available for under $20.
My major concern on my first visit was their ability to keep quality up while handling an even half full house. I hope that some success doesn't kill them.
Camino is a destination spot for us. We live in N. Scarborough and the only decent places in our neighborhood would be Cantonese and Japanese. So if we want anything different...its a destination trip. We are slowly building up our rotation...of restaurants offering quality and interesting foods at a reasonable price. Camino certainly fits the criteria for us....just hope that all its recent success does not spoil them.
This is a very good summary of how I feel as a fellow Leslievillian (if that is even what we are calling ourselves). Since I have a car, I can go to Camino fairly regularly, but I suspect it would be once a week if it was in Leslieville and we could just walk there and drop $20 a head on a delicious meal, and most importantly avoid cooking for a night. So far none of our nabe's numerous eateries, from terrific-but-pricey Tomi-Kro to affordable-but-overly-sceney Lil' Baci, fit the bill.
I agree, and with the rents going up here,I think our chances of getting a reasonable place in the neighbourhood is highly unlikely. Most of our restuarants seem to be special night out places,not just drop in for a quick dinner. I know there are a few more restaurants planned over by Saulter Street, closer to Broadview, but I doubt if they'l be casual spots. It just costs too much to start a busuness down here. Thats what comes with being discovered!!!!!
We had a second go at BC last week after arriving a week prior and being turned away from a full house. Had a reservation this time -- and there were all of four tables occupied. It was a chilly evening. The waitress remembered us and commented on the fact they are a neighborhood place afterall.
I live west o Main, not in a "capital N" neighborhood (Riverdale, Leslieville, beaches...maybe "Nowheretown?") and appreciate now having BC on a modest roster for places to walk to and have a meal out when I dont feel like cooking at home. These include Melanie's, Quattro Reggaze, Djerba Ladouce, Jean's Veg Thai Kitchen. Without getting into whether or not it's a destination, I think BC could be anywhere in the city and there would be lots of clients who appreciate them. As a chowhound, I go for the eating experience/satisfaction if it's $5 or $100 and I dont put too much weight on the value proposition of a pre-fixe (tho when it works it's a welcome bonus.)
Some notes about last week's meal at BC: I had the steak special. The fries were not the traditional shoestring but a beefeater cut and tasted like potato, as opposed to grease or processing. Loved the generous assortment of side veg -- got to eat a bit with the eyes before the mouth. Steak was prefect. The side salad was pretty. My companions' ceasar salads were too -- liked the real bacon but not sure on the mixed greens he used instead of romaine. I've had cravings every day since for the tempura ice cream which was shared. I'm getting a whole one for myself next time. The waitress knew her stuff, was there when need and wasn't when not. It was refreshing to be served by someone with a personality.
I also look forward to my next walk along the shady-but-safe stretch of the Danforth to get to BC.
I used to live just west of Main and now west of Woodbine -- still a no-name neighbourhood! With easy access to the capital "N" neighbourhoods BUT without their high housing prices and property taxes, ha ha!
I'm so glad to know, thanks in part to chowhound, that there are great places to eat in my neighbourhood. I had no clue! My rotation has been small so far, basically Ten Feet Tall and Melanie's but tonight I tried Quattro Ragazze for the first time and am in heaven! This place is really a neighbourhood gem -- everything tasted fresh and flavourful and made with care. As recommended elsewhere on the board, we had the breaded artichokes -- wonderful. Pastas were delicious. Excellent food at reasonable prices.
Not within easy walking distance but easier than going downtown, I can't wait to try Camino.
I like it. Haven't actually been in a while and planning to go there next as soon as I rope someone to go with. I'm on a "dining pal" rotation too!
Not a coffee place per se (although of course they serve coffee and bill themselves as bistro-cafe-bar) but a nice neighbourhood spot with good food, decent wine list and beer on tap. I'd say relaxing depends on timing, i.e. perhaps not when the live jazz is on. Cheerful, cute and quirky -- for instance, the menus are provided within old LP record covers.
There are pics of the interior at this link --
Finally made it to BC last night at 9:30, after a walk along a most 'colourful' stretch of the Danforth, the room was full except for one table waiting to be cleared, and we were turned away.
So disappointing after reading this thread from so many obviously knowing hounds in the hood. It's my mission to go back this week.
It's great to see a happening 'destination' so close by.
BTW, we ended up at Quatro Regazze. First time there. Food and service was okay, sat in the back dining room -- so much more private, and the 'kitchen chatter' was even conforting. I'd go back.
Didn't do Melanie's cuz was just there a short while back. And they looked full. They are next on the rotation.
We had enjoyable meals at Bistro Camino on the weekend. We arrived at about 7:30pm and the place was quite busy....including us there were 32 patrons (I think the seating capacity would be about 46) and the 2 wait staff were jumping. They had already run out of the lobster and duck dishes and the tiramisu dessert was gone, but there was still lots of choices. Our positive meal experiences mirrored a lot of what has been said already...our only little complaint would be that the soup was not very hot. This was a destination meal for us, so unfortunately we cannot be regulars, but we will definitely make the trek again.
re: T Long
I think we were there too that night!! We probably ordered the last 2 duck l'orange - there were two orders of it at our table!
We hadn't been in about a month and we thought we would go back and try it again! It didn't disappoint and we were thrilled to see Bistro Camino full.
Admittedly we would not have known about Bistro Camino without CH although we live relatively close by. But the recent reviews were good and therefore, it did pique our curiousity. Definitely worth a looksee. So here is our report on Dinner this evening.
We walked into a restaurant and saw only one other couple in the resto. (oh dear) The server who was attentive and nice, handed us an extensive menu. (Abit too long - way too many choices.... led us to wonder if everything is made to order....) But once we settled on our order - we were pleasantly surprised.
I ordered the sherry consume soup to start with SO had the appetizer with 4 different tastes: an escabeche, a tempura shrimp, several slices of smoked duck, and sweet potato soup. Delicious - but the sweet potato soup probably wasn't sweet potato as our server indicated (it was cream coloured). Still both soups had a nice mouthfeel and a rich taste. For our mains, I ordered the beef stroganoff & SO had the casselolet. The angus beef stronganoff was tasty - the meat was tender, not overly seasoned and with sour cream was on the side. The gravy was rich and included generous slices of onions and shitake mushrooms. (Shitakes were unexpected but actually very delicious. It added a nice woodsy flavour.) On the side were steamed vegetables sauced with a hollandaise sauce and a little rice. I was impressed by the quality of the vegetables. Rice was okay. The cassoulet was a bit different than previous interpretations we have had but still good. Duck leg confit and sausage with kidney beans in a broth. Although unconventional, SO confirms it was very tasty. The quality of the ingredients for both meals was very good.
During the main, the chef came out to see how we were enjoying our meal - we would have loved to engage him in a lively conversation a la Rod Bowery (Rosebud, Citizen) but perhaps he didn't want to intrude. We love when the chef comes out! But we liked the window into the kitchen. (Such a voyeur!!)
I was full by dessert so SO ordered the baked cheesecake with berries. He found it quite delicious. We both had coffees that were refilled easily.
In addition, I had two vodka martinis & SO had a cesear and a Stella. All told, tax and tip we dropped $95.
We were quite happy with our meal both in terms of value and price. The restaurant is not trendy, but we were very happy to have a decent meal in a restaurant that doesn't try to over reach. (this is a rarity) Perhaps the menu could use a pair of scissors but perhaps in time, Bistro Camino will find its raison d'etre and the place will hop in the way that people flock to Batifole.
We'll add Bistro Camino to our rotation of local restos.
There seems to be 'confusion' in Canada about what a sweet potato is. It means different things to different people. To most Caucasians it is the tuber with the bright orange flesh. In some (many?) Chinese supermarkets those are labelled yams and the red variety with the whitish flesh is labelled sweet potato.
This could account for the soup colour being different to what is expected.
We tried Bistro Camino and were pleased with our meal. However, I can't uphold the extreme enthusiasm expressed in some other postings.
This place is definitely a find in the area. The best alternative in the immediate vicinity is a Popeye's, and not a particularly good one. If you are around Danforth and Dawes and looking for dinner, this is definitely where you want to go.
The decor, though dated, is decent and the place is comfortable. The service was exceptional. That said, our foursome was alone in the restaurant and I can't gauge how the server (who was friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient) would be able to handle a half-full house by herself.
Others have described the vibe and the menu accurately, so I'll get right to the food. And the food, on balance, was good. But the big deal here is value, which is extraordinary. Indeed, the value is so extraordinary that it blows the deficiencies away. But there were deficiencies, and they were not insignificant.
Water was delivered promptly. The server helped us choose a wine that might work with four very disparate meals, and the $21 merlot turned out to be fine. The bread was hot and plentiful, and came with sweet butter, sea salt, olive oil, and balsamic. But the bread itself was thickly sliced white with little flavour. It went stale within minutes.
Soup or salad comes with every meal. The salad was - salad: not especially exciting, but fresh and crisp. The corn chowder was fine. The minestrone with chick peas was a thin broth with some meat, a few veggies, and no chick peas - tasty enough, but not something to have again.
The mains were all generously portioned and nicely plated. The short rib plate had tender, tasty, very well cooked meat in a very plain, stodgy gravy. The Lobster Thermidor (!) was creamy and tasted good, but was overcooked. The rack of lamb comprised some very thin lamb chops rather than the expected roasted rack. One chop was very tough; the others were tender. The chops tasted good but, ordered medium rare, they arrived well done and were cold when served. The pork ribs in BBQ sauce was a winner.
Everything was sided with roast potatoes, some squash, broccoli and cauliflower (with some decent Hollandaise), a red pepper slice, sugar snap peas, and some shiitake mushroom caps. The veggies were accurately cooked and very nice, but were hot on three plates and cold on one. A couple of cold marinated artichoke hearts completed each plate.
We shared one dessert, a profiterole with ice cream and chocolate sauce. The choux pastry was fresh and tasty; the ice cream a large scoop of ordinary, but okay, vanilla. The tiny amounts of chocolate sauce, and what looked like creme Anglaise, weren't enough to matter. Coffee was okay - not superb - and was refilled without asking
The bill for four, with tax, tip, and a bottle of wine was about $120. (A meal with soup, tempura shrimp, two more fish appetizers, a duck appetizer, beef filet Stroganoff, the veggies, and dessert is all of $28.) Everyone was full and happy. I'd be an ingrate to complain after that. It's decent, tasty, old fashioned food and it's well worth having. But fabulous - not so much.
My experience there was similar to most.
I would say the bread was so/so, but the choice of dips for the bread gets good marks.
The salad was nice, nothing special, but good, well plated.
I had a Beef Tenderloin on a day I was there, The prepared it more like a roast than a steak; but it was very tender, tasty, with a portabello mushroom sauce.
On the food front the only real let down was that they served by dish with french fries, which I'm certain we're frozen, at the very least they were beyond dull, and papery.
But the service was superb, the pricing more than fair.
The decor though.....This is one of those places that I think would benefit from Restaurant Makeover. They don't need help in the kitchen (though the menu probably could use a judicious trim); but man does front-of-house need a serious re-think.
Still, I would go again, cheap way to eat decent, local to the eastern Danforth.
Now if only we could get a decent coffeeshop/cafe east of Woodbine; even a chain one.
re: Northern Light
RM seems to be the kiss of death for neighbourhood spots. This can be confirmed by searching these boards.
I haven't ventured over but am looking for the opportunity to try it out. Looking for a five star resto at Main and Danforth isn't going to happen. But having a reliable spot with good, honest food is a gem to behold.
I've been busy so I couldn't post earlier but thanks for the great review pammycakes! With your review I have visited the Camino in January (meaning to post review) and was delighted with how true your review is. The food is great and what I love about it is that the vegetables that accomidate the mains are carefully prepared and each of them have different flavors to them. It's nice to have a restaurant that cares about the whole plate rather than just putting salads with kraft dressing, fries or any other cheap things to accomidate the main. The vegetables changes all the time so you know it's been freshly prepared. It just as you have said and others have said it's well worth what you are paying.
Yes the decor is not as great as some have mentioned but for the area it's one of the best decors around so can't really complain about it.
But I do have to gush about the quality of the food. A lot of old classical dishes done the old school way is just more refreshing from the new cuisine that is out there where half the time you don't know what you have ordered and you end up paying way too much for it! Many of the dishes are French but some of blackboard menu is Italian. But the choices................ Way too many. I always keep changing my mind so many times that I end up with a totally different dish then I original planned. The pickerel is also my favorite, nice and light and not dry!!!!!!! Also the beef stroganoff is to die for!!! One of the best I have tried so far!!!!
The drink menu is okay with beers, wine, classical cocktails, and non alcoholic beverage. Many of the bottles they carry is new world wines, and not too expensive. The house wine can have a better variety and would be nice to have more cool cocktails and martini's.
The dessert menu could do better but the baked cheese cake is a keeper. Nice and fluffy and very light. Really Really REALLY YUMMY!!!! Also the Tiramisu is good too. Very very traditional.
The only thing I hate about the place is that they do not have any espresso!!!!!!! They should really consider getting one. And I bet I am not the only one to complain about this!!!!!! Nothing like a good espresso, cappuccino, and lattes to end the meal perfectly!!!!
The service is very good!!! The service can vary since there is only one server running around............... And she runs fast!!!!!! At first I too wasn't keen with the service but the second time I was there she remembered my drink and knew what I ordered. That day wasn't too busy so we had a very nice friendly conversation and my thoughts have changed about the service. The server is knowledgable and can help you a great deal and makes you keep changing your mind!!! God they have to stop tempting me!!!!!!
Overall the restaurant is a keeper and I wish I could venture a lot more. I grew up in the area so it's nice to see something so beautiful reborn again!!!! I hope the area revives with this restaurant to it's former glory!!!
Will be back for sure and I have my fingers crossed that they have a espresso machine then!!!!!
That's awesome! I just walked by it on Friday night and wondered what the deal was. Glad to hear it's good. Looks like there are a lot of papered up storefronts in that area, so hopefully there will be some more good options. The area sorely needs it. Say, did anyone notice the new shawarma joint that opened on the corner of Main and Danforth last week? Has anyone been as yet?
We ventured into the new shawarma place at Main and Danforth on its opening day during their special buy one, get one half price. We usually head up to Lawrence and Pharmacy for Farhat's, so we were hoping this might give us a closer-to-home shawarma fix. Unfortunately they only serve chicken, and although they have a large assortment of sides (including pickled turnip), the lettuce was decidedly brown, and they were very stingy on the filling. Two shawarmas equals one at Farhats. I guess we've been spoiled by great shawarmas, but this place just doesn't cut it. My daughter had their falafel and her verdict was that they were just okay.
I have been knocked out by the value and quality at Bistro Camino. I moved into the neighbourhood and had only found one small Thai Place that I liked. When it sht its doors (now is Goodys) and I was starving, I wandered into Bistro Camino and have been there at least once a week ever since, both alone and with others. The menu has a lot of old dishes such as coquilles St Jacques and Lobster thermador and has lots of variety. I have enjoyed everything I have tried. The sauteed pickeral for around $15 is a favorite of mine. It came with a choice of 2 soups or a salad. The mussel soup was very good and I have it every chance I can. Friends have tried others and enjoyed them. The meals come with vegetables and there is always a Japanese influence of some sort such as lotus root. Roast beef comes with freshly grated horseradish, grated at the table. Last night my friend had the roast lamb special $20- it came served medium rare and was delicious. She also received soup, salad and dessert- tiramusu which was pretty good. Not as good as Grano but better than most I have had. The portions for everything are generous. Service is friendly but can be of varying speed depending upon how many people are there. There is usually only one server. The dinnerware is more upscale than you would imagine for the restaurant. Napkins when dropped on the floor are replaced with a fresh one without asking. The decor leaves something to be desired but given the prices, there probbaly is not a lot of extra cash around for decorating. I am so happy to have found this reaturant virtually in my backyard! I hesitated to post about it, wanting to keep it my only little secret. But then decided I wanted the restaurant to be a success, so that it is not forced to close due to a lack of business.
Based on the comments here, a friend and I decided to make the trek to Bistro Camino for dinner. Overall review: two thumbs up.
Yes, the area is less than posh, and yes, the restaurant's decor isn't glamorous, though not grungy or anything. But the food is really, really delicious. At really, really good prices.
I started with one of the day's specials, which was sauteed oysters and bacon on mixed greens with a light balsamic dressing. The oysters (6? 7?) were still plump and gently briny, the bacon (possibly pancetta) and dressing were a lovely complement. For the main, I had the beef stroganoff. It was clearly made a la minute, because the meat was still rare and tender. The mushrooms and onions in the rich sauce were plate-licking good (I refrained) with the sour cream on the side (I did not refrain). Perfectly cooked veggies artfully arranged, accompanied.The main came with a choice of soup, and I had the potato and corn chowder. Yum! Gently creamy, sweetish from the corn, no mealiness at all. Gorgeous.
My friend, a lighter eater, had the other soup of the day as her starter - a minestrone with chick peas. She was very enthusiastic. Note, though, the soup is not vegetarian upon close inspection. For her main, she had the Angus filet salad. A generous portion (we guessed about 5 oz, maybe more) of fresh-grilled filet, to her specifications, on field greens, with a tasty dressing.
Desserts followed. The lemon-coffee panna cotta was devoured promptly. My creme brulee was a bit pedestrian, and not freshly-prepared, but still tasty.
Everything was plated beautifully, and the service was... perhaps a smidge laissez-faire, but the server was knowledgeable and efficient when needed, so it's a minor quibble. And again, at the prices...
My meal of a starter (oyster-based, mind), a full-sized soup, a main, a dessert, and a bottle of fizzy water was $45 after tax. I call it a steal. I neglected to notice my friend's bill, but the soup was in the $5 range, the salad around $9, and the dessert around $6. Also a steal.
There were many other things on the menu that we wanted to try, so we will definitely be going back. Thanks for the heads-up, Chowhounders!