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Canoe .. Is it worth it

Hello fellow chowhounders..

I was wondering for those of you who have had dinner at Canoe , whether you can provide you opinion on whether it was a worthwhile experience.

Its been one of those restaurants that have been on my must experience at one point list but I balk everytime at the price and wonder if I should keep it on my list.

I have been to Bymark, Mistura, North 44 and Sushi Kaji and I feel like at any level when its expensive enough you will get pretty good service and pretty decent food. However I'm looking for your opinion as to whether the food and experience was exceptional enough that it was a worthwhile dining experience even with its high price tag.

Thanks everyone or your input.

Happy dining

volauvent

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  1. I had a fantastic 10 course tasting menu in October. Chef Walsh brought several of our courses to the table himself. Their sommelier Joanne was spot on with wine pairings. The highlight for me was the loin/belly/compression terrine of St. Canut pork combination with a Miguel Merino Gran Riserva 1998 Rioja. At the end of the day, for an expensive restaurant, Canoe has always been spot on for me. The team there seems to be constantly improving as well.

    Matt

    2 Replies
    1. re: Matt416

      was this 10 course tasting specially arranged or off the menu? i went there a couple weeks ago and there was only the 'taste canoe' menu with 4 courses.

      i enjoyed my meal, with the wine pairings and service was great. was it mindblowing and the best tasting food i've ever had? probably not. but interesting ingrediants and combinations, things were cooked perfectly and the wines went pretty well with the courses. my dining partner really loved the view, and as a visitor, that was a nice bonus. i haven't eaten at the other top restaurants so i can't really compare.

      1. re: auberginegal

        It was not prearranged. We asked for the longest tasting menu they could give us. also note that I do work in the industry and they were well aware of that.

        Matt

    2. personally, IMHO, no it's not worth it.

      It's the kind of place I would go on an expense account but would not spend my own money there. Bymark, I spend my own money to eat at.

      1. +

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        Canoe
        54th Floor TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6, CA

        1. My daughter and son-in-law were there for Valentine's and they loved it.

          1. The food was prety good when I went, although it was a good few years ago but the medium rare lamb was nigh unto raw. I remember I liked the smoked trout appetizer. The portion sizes were very generous - almost too large.

            The service was practically non-existant. If it hadn't been for the busboy I would have thought we were invisible. Our waitress had a table of family and friends seated next to us and she spent the whole evening with them. Let me revise the non-existant comment; we saw her back turned toward us all night.

            The noise level was nearly unbearable. The table next to us was so close we could have been best friends with them by the end of the night and the wine list was so over-priced I swear it had more than the usual 300% mark-up. I resent paying $90. for something that retails for $15.

            What really turned me off the most was the sight of several senior partners of some of the city's top law firms making out in the banquettes with much younger women.

            Haven't been back since.

              1. I have to qualify my answer and say that I've never actually had to pay for dinner at Canoe. Lucky, I know! But if I did, I believe it to be a worthwhile "special occasion" type of place. My colleagues and I have always been treated well, the food has been for the most part good-to-excellent, and I'm a sucker for those long views to the horizon. I do agree that if you're looking for "bang for the buck" from your big night out, this is probably not the place. If you just want a good dining experience, Canoe will do in a pinch, and arguably do it better than only a handful of other restaurants in this city.

                1. We went last Christmas and really didn't find it was worth the price paid............ Both in food and service.

                  1. Canoe dazzles in that it has great views and appears very fancy, but there are many many better restaurants if you want to blow a wad of cash. That said, if you really want to try it, your meal will likely be quite decent - I just expect more for that type of money.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: fussychow

                      Agreed Fussy...the food is of a high quality (even if the portions are miniscule to the point of being ridiculous), service okay and view spectacular...but for what they charge you can do much better in Toronto

                      1. re: Finnegan

                        The meal my wife and I enjoyed at Canoe was truly outstanding and I'd happily pay the price again for a special meal (we went for our anniversary). The view, the service and the meal were truly memorable. The dessert (rosemary ice cream with caramel and rock salt) was the most incredible part! On business, I've eaten at many of the top restaurants across the US and the meal at Canoe outshone them all (maybe it was partly the company though :)

                    2. I haven't been to Mistura and Sushi Kaji, but of Bymark, North 44 and Canoe, I think my experience at Canoe was my favourite. If you can get one of the tables near the window, there is no question in my mind that Canoe will be a memorable experience for you.

                      1. I have tried all of ther resto's you speak of (most remarkable of the list is Kaji for sure).

                        I dine at Canoe regularly - lovely seasonal menu, excellent service, solid use of Canadian ingredients to impress. I will eat either quick and not-expensive lunch or a larger dinner and have never failed to enjoy my meal nor to have had excellent wine pairings.

                        Keep it on the list!

                        And note that the taste canoe consists of 4 courses indeed but you can mix and match all the courses to your liking.

                        I hope you enjoy.

                        1. Has anyone had a good Winterlicious experience at Canoe? Whitefish cassoulet?

                          I'm really hoping that other people will write in. I was completely blown away, not by the view (absolutely gorgeous), the famous service (nice, but incredibly nervous), but by the completely unremarkable food. I don't want to trash the place based on Winterlicious, but it was miserable. They kept asking me why I didn't finish my meal, and I kept wondering, is it me? Can I be this wrong? I think I might have sent it back elsewhere, but I was intimidated to be sitting in one of the most renowned restaurants in Toronto hating the food.

                          I had the whitefish cassoulet. I kept trying to like it, trying to find a texture or a flavour that stood out in any way. It was soft. It was moist to the point of being wet. There was a cream sauce that didn't seem to be flavoured, and there was an oyster that tasted of everything but oyster. There was no cassoulet in the classical sense, just some slightly under-cooked beans. The Ontario cheese plate was...fine. But I've had much better at cheese shops in Prince Edward Co, on Church street, and even at the market. One tiny piece of morbier and one good, but not exceptional American style cheddar.

                          I'm stunned. I'd really like to hear from someone who enjoyed this dish. At times I've reviewed restaurants with anger verging on malice (Local Co deserved it), but I've never left a place wondering why or how a restaurant's reputation could run so contrary to my experience.
                          I know this is one of the most renowned restaurants in the city, but I hated it. Is this just Winterlicious? Has anyone had a good Winterlicious meal there?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: arugula

                            Are they offering a cassoulet of beans, whitefish, white sauce , and an oyster? That is so contrived, far removed from my favorite winter dish. I'll pass.

                            -----
                            Canoe
                            54th Floor TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6, CA

                            1. re: jayt90

                              The cassoulet was indeed awful - I reviewed it in a separate thread.

                          2. Looking for a classy restaurant for a corporate dinner for 40-50 savvy accountant people in April. $70ish per person budget. Fixed menu is ok. Preferrably private or semi-private room and preferred area for cocktail reception would be ideal. Ideas??

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: amycakes22

                              Jacob's and Co. It will push the $70 limit but its doable, ceasar and a steak, and dessert. If you want to stick to the $70 bucks Barberians behind the Hospital for sick kids. They have a private room in the new building with a wall of wine.

                              -----
                              Barberian's
                              7 Elm St, Toronto, ON M5G1H1, CA

                            2. Been many times on business. This used to be my favourite spot downtown but no longer. Service is outstanding, food is ok but price is sky high. It is a great spot in the evening looking down on the city. Worth it for special celebrations.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: ektoronto

                                As chowhounders, I would place emphasis on food over service and view. As such, IMO, for that 'sky high' price, one can get better tasting food elsewhere.

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  I am curious, in the category of lets say french-influenced fine dining, where in Toronto do you think has the better food? George?

                                  1. re: shekamoo

                                    In fact, Yes!

                                    With David Lee no longer participate in 'fine dining' anymore! Sigh! On top of his game, chef Loseto cooks some of the tastiest and most creative dishes in town! His tasting menu is 'CONSISTENTLY' good, never miss a beat!

                                    Back to Canoe, the $40, 3 course prix fix I had at Simple Bistro last week, though 'san fine dining components', offered better tasting 'French-influence' dishes than Canoe!! No joke!

                                    For about 1/3 of the price of Canoe, I had ' Lobster and Scallop Boudin served with organic spinach and sauce vin blanc' ( amazing creamy sauce) for appertizer. Oven roasted leg of Boileau venison served with spaetzle, braised red cabbages, celeriac puree and a juniper berry jus and walnuts for entree. ( best 'western' dish I had this year, outshining even some Michelin stars dishes I had abroad including Robuchon!!) Meat and sauce were absolutely stunning! Aromatic and tasty!. Dessert was a concoction of caramalized apples, Colvados cream and apple mouse served over genoise and garnished with an apple compote and walnut. Paired with a glass of Vidal icewine, It was Heaven! Best deal in town? Pretty close!

                                    For me, I would settle for great food over ambience, view and service anytime. BTW, service at Simple was pretty efficient and friendly too!

                                    Lastly, I found the food at Auberge du Pommier better tasting than Canoe, nowadays! And, though not overly creative and fancy, however, some French dishes at Pastis were pretty amazing tasting as well!

                                    -----
                                    Simple Bistro
                                    619 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      must be hard times over at simple...no more lobster...now it's scallop and shrimp boudin and it's a main course, lol. still sounds good though

                                      1. re: downtownfoodie

                                        Sorry, that was our previous menu. Our latest menu is now online at:

                                        www.simplebistro.com

                                        1. re: Simple Bistro

                                          Looks even better...definitely be in soon :)

                                  2. re: Charles Yu

                                    Tom Brodi, the chef at Canoe, left a couple of months ago to work at the Ritz Carlton opening in January 2011.

                                    1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                                      I always thought Anthony Walsh is the chef of Canoe??!!

                                2. Depends what you are looking for. If it's superb, creative food, carefully prepared and backed up with professional service Canoe rates a C- at best. On the other hand, if you want to drop $200 to impress your senior partner or corporate group VP, it's perfectly adequate. Either way you'll get snooty, uninformed people. Want some context, go to Charlie Trotter in Chicago.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: ttraveller

                                    Nice view, better restaurants in the city for that money though.

                                    1. re: jamesm

                                      So after all's said and done, can someone provide an example of a restaurant that currently outshines Canoe in regards to overall quality of food. Perhaps a couple or a few suggestions in the Toronto area? Also, it would be great if someone can suggest a steakhouse that they've been to recently and enjoyed. Jacob and Co's? Hy's? Thanks.

                                      1. re: cognac fan

                                        'Quality of food' in general??!! Sushi Kaji!!

                                        -----
                                        Sushi Kaji
                                        860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA

                                        1. re: cognac fan

                                          Depends what you are looking to eat Dim Sum: Lai Wah Heen Metropolitan Hotel $$$, Steak: Jacob and Co $$$, or 1800 degrees $$. A bit of everything Splendido $$$ or Scaramouche $$$. I personally don't like Scaramouche except for the coconut cream pie but most posters do, so likely an off night. George $$$ gets consistent top marks but I haven't been there. Harbour 60 $$$$ really overpriced but cool decor expecially the bathrooms.

                                          -----
                                          Lai Wah Heen
                                          108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                                          Splendido
                                          88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

                                          Metropolitan Hotel
                                          108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G, CA

                                          1. re: cognac fan

                                            IMO George out shines Canoe every time.

                                            1. re: JennaBean

                                              For food, yes! With David Lee no longer creating tasting menu, George IMO is the most consistently good 'tasting menu' place in town!
                                              BTW, interesting so far no one mentions C5 and Chiado for food?!

                                              -----
                                              Chiado
                                              864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                The last two times I've been to C5 I was seriously disappointed. It is off my list.

                                                I used to go to Chiado all the time. I think I just over did it but it may be time for a visit!

                                                -----
                                                Chiado
                                                864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                                      2. Canoe is the best of the fancy expensive restaurants in Toronto by a far. Worth the money? No. But it's where I'd go if someone else is paying or for a splurge