Chega (New, Yonge/Yrk Mills)
- abscissa Feb 16, 2008 05:47 PM
This place is -- as you will hear from someone no doubt -- "so popular" that they don't even need a sign. I have had at least three different people tell me the same thing verbatim. Someone has some good advertising going on...
In fact, the like the exterior sign, the interior feels unfinished -- though who knows if this is deliberate? The faux artwork and mirrors make for a kitschy, albeit dark, atmosphere. A fleeting survey of the room counted (other than my party) exactly 2 people (who were dining with their newborn, who was in the carrier next to them) under 35. Virtually everyone in the room was over 50+. I was told there was "absolutely no way" that I could get reservations unless I booked at 6.00 -- when we arrived the place was virtually empty, though it did start to fill up around 7.00 (though not completely). What a lie -- and this was valentine's week-end, Saturday night.
The prices at this place are quite reasonable. You can expect MUCH bigger than average portions. In fact, way, way too big. I had the calamari as an appetizer... the calamari itself was utterly disgusting, aside from being miniscule (compared to the bed of who knows what it was served on -- which, as I say, could have been its own main course) it was black with carbon from whatever had been pan seared and burnt before it. Entirely appalling taste and inexcusable. Somewhere in between the bed of spinach and bell peppers etc. was rosti, burnt to a crisp. I could not bring myself to order anything on the menu other than the pizza (two of us)--those in my party who ordered pasta (two people) and risotto (one person) were not able to finish their meal (probably only 1/2 or 2/3 at most). The pizza was, in fact, satisfying -- though I really resent "having" to order pizza at a restaurant.
I had cancelled the order for desert, since by the time we had all finished dessert coffee and tea, it was not ready. I was then told that the creme caramel was "on the house". Just as well, since it was some surprise mocha/cappuccino original recipe--though it was edible, unlike the calamari.
If you are eating out on a budget and find yourself in the throes of decrepitude with an indiscriminate palette, you may enjoy this place, particularly if you need to bring some food home for the week while you wait for your next pension cheque. The plating is pretentious enough that it could fool the casual observer. The place may be busy, but so is McDonald's. I strongly advise anyone who is looking for anything other than a local, casual meal to seek elsewhere.
Well, I guess you didn't much like Chega.
My experience there wasn't quite as dreary, though. I found Chega was - like many mid-range restos everywhere - neither here nor there. There's nothing to distinguish the place, other than modest markups on wine and careful food pricing. That's not enough to keep me going back, especially when for a few dollars more, there are more stellar Italian joints in the area, like Coppi just a block down the street, or Paese (a five-minute drive west and slightly north), or Zucca (a 10-minute drive on Yonge St. south of Eglinton. If you insist on Chega's price range on that stretch of Yonge St. between Lawrence Ave. and the City Limits, though, you'll probably do better at Il Parmigiano, on Yonge just north of Lawrence. It's not great, but it offers straightforward Italian cooking with a few flourishes.
As an aside, you'll find many of the joints in that neighborhood often cater to a 50-plus clientele because, well, that's who can afford the houses around there - and you can be sure they're not waiting for their next pension cheque. If you want to avoid such a crowd, try to dine later than 7, which is the prime time for us oldsters to gather for dinner. We're usually gone by 8:30-9, doubtless complaining about the calamari appetizer, leaving the place wide open to the young-uns.
Please pardon me because I did not mean any disrespect. In fact, I usually book after 7.30 in general (but I was told that was impossible here). I do not know what "catering to a 50+ crowd" even means for that matter. But, if I were to generalise, and apologies in advance to the many to whom this does not apply, I would say that a fondness for frugality and old-fashioned palette characterizes the older crowd who frequents this restaurant. I would not go back and I would not reccomend it to anyone. If you are foolish enough to believe that this restaurant is "so popular that it doesn't need a sign" then the joke is on you.
Wow... I've been there once or twice - can't remember - for take-out and both times the food was decent. Maybe they're right - it was neither here nor there, but it was fine for the price. Yes, it's a busy place, and the sign thing must be a gimmick. I must say that the strong dislike of the posters here scares me a bit. Maybe we went on a good night... I have a friend from Thornhill who claims there is a large draw from the suburbs...