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Osgoode Hall dining room recently?

merlot143 Jan 30, 2008 03:09 PM

Has anyone been? It used to be the exclusive haunt of lawyers, but then there were a number of articles written about it. Their prices seem to be pretty good -- why does Osgoode have subsidized dining? Hmm. Curious.

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  1. g
    ghetto_scarlem Jan 30, 2008 03:16 PM

    I haven't been lately, the last time I went was in the summer. I enjoyed it.

    Where did you hear that it was subsidized? Because I don't think it is. While the prices are good, they are not as low as some places that I know that are subsidized.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ghetto_scarlem
      merlot143 Jan 30, 2008 06:16 PM

      I thought it was subsidized. Or merely good value a la Siegfried's at George Brown. And the food was super.

      ETA: I went and read the National Post review. It was by Gina Mallet who seems to specialize in writing very twee MFK Fisher-like reviews. The review was mixed. Seems the chef changed last year, and she wanted to see how it fares now. $18.95 for a 3-course meal still sounds like a bargain.

    2. z
      Zengarden Jan 30, 2008 04:24 PM

      I went with staff for the prix fixe and enjoyed it despite a scathing review from the National Post.

      I love the fact that this is not the dining room for the elite. We were probably the only ones who were non-lawyers in the entire room.

      The meal was beautifully plated and delicious. Service is highly polished.

      Just remember that you need to go through a security check at the front doors and the restaurant isn' the easiest to find. It is upstairs on the second floor.

      1. a
        A flock of seagulls Jan 30, 2008 07:14 PM

        I ate there within the last month. I had a 1:15 reservation, but I recommend booking for an earlier time. They close at two and the staff were very preoccupied with shutting everything down. The service throughout lunch was sporadic, never the same face twice. That said, the steak was the BEST I have had since I ate at Gibby's in Montreal last year (dessert was yummy too). The surroundings are terrific, lots of atmosphere. I would definitely give it a try.

        1. h
          hungry_pangolin Jan 31, 2008 05:28 AM

          I didn't see the review in the Post, so I don't know what Mallet's complaints were, but I had lunch with a friend there a week ago Monday (she a health bureaucrat/physician, me, a would-be writer), and we had a very good lunch. She had the "chef's menu" ($18.95), which was a green bean-goat cheese salad, roasted half of Cornish hen, and churros with chocolate sauce for dessert. I had a salad and ricotta gnocchi ($14), and a nice Spanish cab sauv, and stole a churro from my companion. The service was better than in the past. Thoroughly enjoyable lunch. I always bring out-of-towners there for the experience.

          What was Mallet's beef?

          6 Replies
          1. re: hungry_pangolin
            merlot143 Jan 31, 2008 05:46 AM

            The food didn't live up to the hype of it being Toronto's best-kept secret. Some of it was great, some of it so-so. I thought she was being really condescending and fey in her writing.
            BTW is this a place where I can eat alone? Or is it better to get with someone?

            1. re: merlot143
              Mila Jan 31, 2008 05:57 AM

              I vaguely remember a common table in the dining room, maybe someone can confirm. I really love the space and throughly enjoyed the food, though I haven't been since the summer.

              Link to the menu:

              1. re: merlot143
                phoenikia Jan 31, 2008 06:11 AM

                It's better to go with someone. It's a grand room and I'd feel lonely by myself in those surroundings.

                I liked my meal there, and would return. It's certainly a better value than most lunches in the financial district. I would say the food is the same quality as what you find at the Gallery Grill at Hart House, but the service tends to be less polished, and there are less options on the menu.

                I don't think it's subsidized, but I don't think the Law Society is trying to make a big profit from running it. They might just set the prices so they break even. There are courts in Osgoode Hall, so I'm pretty sure the dining room is there so lawyers can have a nice lunch without leaving the building when they are in court. It's a much nicer option than the cafeteria in the Osgoode basement.

                1. re: phoenikia
                  basileater Mar 27, 2008 01:33 PM

                  It is not subsidized.

                  1. re: phoenikia
                    food face Mar 30, 2008 06:49 AM

                    Hmm, I find it rather expensive for the quality of some dishes and considering everything is a la carte including any sides/ french fries It's definately not subsidized.

                  2. re: merlot143
                    basileater Mar 27, 2008 01:31 PM

                    I am comfortable eating there alone, but then I am a lawyer and thus not intimidated by the setting. Lawyers being a fairly self-interested bunch, I'm sure many people would not even notice you were dining alone.

                    I too, found the Mallet review to be a little condenscending. It read like she was looking to criticize the place and therefore searched for things to find negative in the service of being witty rather than providing an objective analysis of the food.

                    I have always enjoyed my meals there, and the price is right. That pretty much sums it up for me.

                2. g
                  gsjameson Mar 27, 2008 02:22 PM

                  Certainly a great spot to reinforce 'the institution' on impressionable youth.

                  I was there in January and enjoyed it. The food was not expensive and not incredible (there's a value argument to be made), but the experience is truly something. 75% of the patrons are gowned and you're in this antique room - I can't remember what it was originally for - that is overflowing with a sense of history. In terms of unique dining experiences, I think it is a solid spot and a place that I'm itching to take a few summer law students when they arrive this summer.

                  I'm not sure how we generally appreciate the intangibles of dining here as chowhounders (usually it's excused for the food - here it's the opposite), but it makes this place quite worthwhile.

                  Also, you Harry Potter dorks out there should put this on your list.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: gsjameson
                    T Long Mar 27, 2008 03:36 PM

                    I think they are not open during the summer...not sure why...maybe lawyers don't eat during certain parts of the year.

                    1. re: T Long
                      T Long Mar 27, 2008 03:48 PM

                      I may have mis-spoke....I thought they were closed last summer...but cannot find any indication that they normally close summertimes. Can someone confirm that they do open in July & August.

                      1. re: T Long
                        JamieK Mar 27, 2008 03:52 PM

                        Perhaps you're thinking of Gallery Grill that closes in the summer?

                    2. re: gsjameson
                      JamieK Mar 27, 2008 04:09 PM

                      actually T Long is correct. Osgoode Hall restaurant is closed July and August, so your summer students are out of luck.

                      Osgoode Hall
                      130 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 2N6, CA

                      1. re: JamieK
                        ghetto_scarlem Mar 28, 2008 10:29 AM

                        Summers at law school are from May - August (4 months), so the students should be OK.

                        I enjoyed the 2 lunches that I had at Osgoode. Especially the homemade butter tarts.

                        1. re: JamieK
                          basileater Mar 28, 2008 11:21 AM

                          I love the butter tarts.

                          Does the summer closure follow the court's schedule?

                          1. re: basileater
                            food face Mar 30, 2008 06:46 AM

                            Ooh the butter tarts where incredible. Warm and oozing and buttery like it should be. I was really dissappointed with the steak sandwhich. It was served with potato chips and was overpriced. The steak portion was ridiculously small. They put loads of butter on the untoasted mammoth kaiser without toasting it or mayo accompanied by crappy crunchy tomato's. I actually sent it back. Good service though. I would sum it up as a an excellent place to take a senior to for desert and coffee.

                      2. g
                        gav206 Mar 28, 2008 04:17 PM

                        I'm there relatively regularly. It's a good find in the area. The pastry chef is excellent.

                        The dining room tends to fill up around 1 or 1.15 during the lunch recess from court, so I prefer to arrive a bit earlier, usually around 12.30.

                        Does anyone know if the soup from the restaurant is ever or always the same as the soup served at the cafeteria downstairs? It appears to be the same in name sometimes...

                        1. T Long Mar 29, 2008 07:11 AM

                          This is one of my favorite places for lunch downtown. However, yesterday I found the beef special difficult to chew and the octopus salad was mediocre. So be careful what you order....I've always enjoyed the fish dishes.

                          1. t
                            The Honest Fish Guy Oct 10, 2008 08:12 AM

                            As far as I know the restaurant is a non profit operation, hence no markup like you would find in any eatery. Basically what you would eat is sold at just above cost.

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