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Avli: A Disappointment

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I'd had one good meal at Avli a couple of years ago, and had seen many recommendations here... so off we went last night for a second visit.

There won't be a third.

The good: the service was terrific. Charming waiter with a great sense of humour.

The bad: um, the food. The dips: melizanosalata had way too much vinegar, taramosalata was mayonnaisy. Kopanisti was OK, but nothing to write home about. Horiatiki salad was OK, but this is not the right time of year for tomatoes.

Lamb pie: nice crust, but not a whole lot of flavour. Bland, bland, bland. Pork tenderloin, same thing: huge piece, but did they forget to marinate? The rice was nice -- a mix of white and wild, with nuts -- but that's about it.

Oh well. Back to Pantheon for simple, straightforward mezedes, etc.

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  1. That's too bad. We used to be regulars at Avli, but the quality tanked in 2007. I was hoping that, with their expansion complete, the previous good food might return. Seems not.

    1. Seems like your experience is exactly what I've posted about here in the past. The quality took a big slide in 2002. You may want to try Lambros, we had a really good meal there a few weeks ago. It's odd that both have a common owner but the food is so drastically different.

      2 Replies
      1. re: foodyDudey

        That's good to know -- we'll try it. Since the two are not just side-by-side but connected, I had assumed that they shared a kitchen.

        1. re: estragon

          As far as I know, they do, but there is a different chef, at least for the moment.

      2. I was very disappointed as well. Really looked forward to an Easter family meal, but felt really let down. Lemon shrimp starter were overcooked and rubbery. Sausage too was so overcooked the skin was crisp. Horatiki salad was plain. Souvlaki main was alright, but pricey. Seafood platter for two was good. Boneless chicken with light cream sauce would have been better if chicken was not overdown. Sauce was good, squash side??? Why?? Best thing about meal: the bread. Fresh, whole wheat, egg, yummy, yummy. Will we go back? Definately not. Service was good.

        1 Reply
        1. re: doukasp

          I've been to Lambros four times now and the food has been great. Why don't you try it next time? It was "standing room only" when I was there on a Saturday night about 3 weeks ago. Even my Greek friend really enjoyed it. And Lambros brought us bougatsa from the AVLI menu which was the best any of us had ever had! You can even save $15 with the coupon here: http://dine.to/lambros

        2. Pantheon really??? i have never been one to hate on a restaurant on my first visit, so after my first terrible time at pantheon, i decided to give it a second try.. let me tell you, second and last my friends.. horrible horrible horrible. service - SLOW, food - COLD, table cloths - COULD BE CHANGED,, once in a while

          13 Replies
          1. re: luvsgoodfood

            That's too bad about your comments on Pantheon, as I've had the exact opposite experience. Every time I go, the service is outstanding. Extremely attentive, very friendly and fast. In fact, one of the owners waits tables there, so they obviously care about their service. Everything else I've also found to be outstanding.

            lunchboy

            http://nofreelunchonbayst.blogspot.com/

            1. re: lunchboy

              I agree with lunchboy. We've never had a bad experience at Pantheon. It's one of our favorite places on the Danforth.

              1. re: lunchboy

                Agreed--every meal we've had at Pantheon has been very, very good. The lamb kabobs are even cooked rare on request, something we've had trouble attaining elsewhere. And we've always found the service to be unfailingly friendly and efficient, even when the restaurant is packed. Pantheon is definitely our go-to Danforth dining establishment.

                1. re: lunchboy

                  Add me to the likes Pantheon list too.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Add me three. :-) But this post is over a year old now. I wonder if Lambros has sorted out things at Avli. I'll have to go check it out. Poorboy's recent review indicates that he likes it.

                  2. re: lunchboy

                    I like Pantheon too. Especially for whole grilled fish. One would pay three times as much at, say, Milos in Montreal or NY, for essentially the same thing.

                    1. re: childofthestorm

                      Have to come to the defence of Milos on this one. The fish at Milos is much, much better than any grilled fish I've been served at Pantheon. I'd happily pay more at Milos for a better product.

                      If you are watching your nickles and dimes, it's possible to have a 3 course prix fixe late night ($20.09) or at lunch ($20.09), or a 4 course prix fixe on Sunday night ($45 for 3 courses) at Milos in Montreal, and have better fish than Pantheon serves for a similar price. The only problem with the prix fixe is that your choice of seafood is very limited, especially with the 3 course lunch and late night specials.

                      Pantheon's lithraki, tsipoura, occasional barbouni, etc, is Market Price, and I have ended up paying a fair amount for mediocre fish.

                      Pantheon is ok for what it is, but it doesn't compare to Milos. Chiado is the only restaurant located in Toronto, that I would compare to Milos when it comes to grilled fish or shellfish. And I still prefer Milos.

                      Milos also serves the best grilled octopus I have found outside Greece.

                      1. re: phoenikia

                        I have eaten at avli a few times over the past few months. I disagree the food was excellent and very tastey and fresh.

                        1. re: ocean

                          Seems like Lambros has actually closed: http://www.nowtoronto.com/food/story....

                          Kinda sad really even though I've never been, but I applaud their attempt to do a different kind of greek restaurant rather than the almost identical ones that exist throughout the city.

                          1. re: tradizionale

                            It would have been much better had they not killed the quality at Avli while developing Lambros next door.

                            1. re: embee

                              Avli went downhill at least 7 years before Lambros opened "Lambros". I've talked with Lambros (owner of Avli) in June and he says he is working on a new menu for Avli but I haven't been back to try it yet.

                          2. re: ocean

                            I have to agree with ocean.... we were at Avli last night and it was delish! The fried calamari was perfect and we practically licked the plate after polishing off the lemon garlic shrimp. Just had appetizers. The service was lovely.

                          3. re: phoenikia

                            Well, this is why I said "essentially the same thing" rather than "the same thing." Of course Milos is better, it's the best Greek restaurant in Canada, and in the running for best in NY although Anthos is more creative. But you'd be hard-pressed to have dinner on a regular night at Milos and spend less than $200 for a couple, assuming you're having a nice fish with sides, some apps, and a bottle of wine.

                            I was just pointing out that Pantheon is good value because they grill the fish simply and well, much the same way that Milos (or for that matter a Greek fisherman on a portable grill at the docks) will do. Milos has ultra-fresh, hard-to-find fish, not to mention impeccable service and a luxe decor, and it's a treasure for that reason. But if you chat with the waiter at Pantheon and ask what fish he recommends, you're going to eat well and not spend a wad. That's all.