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Bistro Camino is Hiro and a Chowfind

v
Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 14, 2008 12:48 AM

Bistro Camino
2750 Danforth Ave, between Main and Victoria Pk.
416 698 0283
Full review after further visits

I thought there was something unusual about the place. Three Japanese cooks in whites in the kitchen. White linen napkin and in the bread basket. An extensive,interesting and toothsome menu. And this at Danforth before Victoria Pk. So I chatted up the waitress.

She says that the owner is Hiro. He trained in French cuisine, but when he came to Toronto the people wanted Japanese food, so that is what he gave them. As for the downtown location, nothwithstanding Hiro's fame , the place really didn't make money. High operating costs etc.

So he decided to convert this location to a "French " restaurant.
What is the food like? Its like this. Hiro is cooking outside his culture, and he can't keep his culture from intruding. But aesthetics are a consideration in just about about everything in Jpanese culture, and Hiro is good. So I liked what I had a lot; not really authentic, who cares.

Corn soup: delicious, and not what you would think
Escabache fish; OK , pleasant,
Shortribs. Another surprise. The whole plate was "composed" and delicious. Great accompaniments on the plate, but I would experiment before I would settle for the white rice that Hiro put on.
Cheesecake. I took it home. the beef taste was too full to be followed by dairy. 7 of teh desserts are forms of cream,- icecream, pannacotta, etc the 8th is tiramisu with whipped cream. Look, nobody, nooooobody!, makes a cheesecake like Hugh at Bibiche. This one was a correct ordinary bore, but it carried a good berry sauce topping.

Despite the inference from the list of what I had , Camino is no diner and does not serve diner food. I think that Camino hasn't reached Hiro's aspiration yet, but it will come.

Now the price. All this came to about $25 before tax. And a good and interesting meal, with would have large enough had I had dessert with it. And nothing screwed up by the Emperor's tailors of whom there is no evidence. Chef does need to think about the desserts though, to present variety. As`for the name, how many would think that the place was a tacqueria?

A bargain, and much of it was really good. If something here was not to my taste, the maeal was a lot better than at a chi-chi yup- yup, where nothing was to my taste and less food for much more money.
VVM

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  1. JamieK Mar 14, 2008 04:57 AM

    +

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    Bistro Camino
    2750 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C1L7, CA

    1. TorontoJo Mar 14, 2008 07:55 AM

      Just in case you hadn't seen this thread, there are several others who agree with you!

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/452659

      1. h
        hungryabbey Mar 16, 2008 05:53 PM

        Went to Bistro Camino tonight for an early dinner and couldn't be happier about this chowfind as VV called it. We got there really early so we were the only ones in the place but the service was superb and the food was too.
        First of all, I must say, I couldnt believe how extensive the menu was. Usually I am very quick to know what I want but myself and my 2 dining companions went back and forth several times before we decided on what we wanted. Plus, in addition to the menu there were also about 6 or 7 blackboard specials to make my decision harder.
        To start we had a thai beef tapas dish which was chunks of incredibly tender beef tossed in a thai sauce with sesame seeds etc. It was truly excellent, it would make a wonderful meal if someone would want to pair it with a salad. We were also served a nice bread warm from the oven with olive oil, butter and balsamic.
        The meals all come with soup or salad, as was explained in previous posts, and so we tried the house salad (apparently good, but I mean, its just a salad), the sherry consomme soup (which was delicious, I tried it) and I tried the sweet potatoe soup with toasted almonds (ah, I could have licked the bowl). For mains we went for the short ribs in beer sauce with mushrooms, but I requested fries instead of rice . The short ribs were extremely tender and flavourful and the fries were, well probably not home made, but still good in a mcdonalds kind of way haha. My partners went with the beef curry with rice (which I tried and was very good. More like a thai sauce than a thick spicy curry, but it was the quality of beef that really stood out), and the beef stroganoff, which honestly kind of tasted like my short ribs, just without the ribs. Midway through our entrees, the chef came out to ask how everything was, which I thought was a nice touch for a little casual spot.
        After our entrees, we turned down dessert as we were just too full to even look at the menu but our server did ask how we knew about the place and I told her I heard about them on the internet. She instantly brought up chowhound.com and mentioned how crazy it was that there had been so many recent reviews. It seemed to make her a bit nervous actually. But I was really happy that she brought it up because it shows that the restaurants do check and read up to see what we say about them and hopefully improve/maintain the aspects of their restaurants that we comment on.
        On that note, thanks chowhounds for another great recommendation. Theres NO way I would have ever even looked at the place if it wasnt for you guys and I will definetly be back to try some of their specials or a couple other dishes on their regular menu.
        By the way, for 2 glasses of wine, the beef app, the 3 entrees that included bread and soup/salad came to 83$ with tax before tip. Amazing deal!

        1. c
          childofthestorm Mar 20, 2008 09:19 AM

          Add my voice to the acclaim for Bistro Camino, if only because it is simply such incredible value. I'm the type of person who would eat out several times a week if I could, but like most people money IS an object. I still haven't tried Splendido, most of my meals in the top restaurants in town have come courtesy of business dinners, and I really have to weigh taking my wife out for dinner at even an average restaurant, where a good meal with wine and tax and tip will usually hit at least $80, and more often than not over $100. Coming from Montreal, where one can dine out constantly and well for just a little more than one would pay to cook it at home, Toronto has been a shock.

          So Camino has just vaulted to the top of my "possible weekly destination" list, even though it's a bit out of the way from my Leslieville home. The location, frankly, is abysmal, but the restaurant is just so bloody cheap, and the value so strong, that I will make the trip, and hope others do too.

          Look, this place is not Batifole - the food screams "retro" rather than "classic." The soup that came with our entrees was a lamb consomme, with barley and flecked with parsley. I can't remember the last time I ate a soup like this, but the broth was outstanding. For mains, I had a fresh pickerel amandine, which was perfectly prepared, with several different vegetables including a bit of roasted squash, some asparagus with a drizzle of white cheese sauce (just like my mom used to make in the 70s), and roasted potatoes. Delicious. Price: $15.

          My wife is always a sucker for a good crab cake, so I suggested she test the menu's obvious Japanese influence and have the crab cream croquettes. Two large croquettes with a side salad and the aforementioned, but forgivable at this price point, frozen french fries. The croquettes were beautiful, golden brown and crunchy with an almost-liquid crab filling. I helped myself to her plate a few times. Price: $13.

          We were stuffed at this point, and want to go back with a heartier appetite and test a bit more of the menu, But here is the kicker: the final tally for the two entrees with the bowls of soup and a glass of decent house red (Nero)...$37...$44 with tip.

          Sadly there was only one other couple in the restaurant, so I think we CHers need to get out there and give Camino a try. Hey, this board has turned the fortune of many an out-of-the-way gem, right? I suspect all the Japanese-influenced stuff on the menu is good (they had a beef curry that I was sorely tempted by, but I just came back from Texas and am beefed-out), and the retro French dishes are impeccable - remember, this style of cuisine used to be incredibly popular for a reason, it just tastes great. Decor is a bit woeful, but the service is charming and friendly, and chef came out to ask if we enjoyed our meal. Did I mention dinner for two was 40 bucks?!?

          3 Replies
          1. re: childofthestorm
            h
            hungryabbey Mar 20, 2008 09:54 AM

            The beef curry actually was very good. I am so excited to go back because there are just so many things worth trying

            1. re: hungryabbey
              c
              childofthestorm Mar 20, 2008 10:09 AM

              I'm already planning a return trip this weekend! The menu is pretty extensive. Perhaps next time I will get a bunch of appetizers and tapas-sized plates so I can give a more thorough report.

              1. re: childofthestorm
                v
                Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 20, 2008 12:32 PM

                My objection to Batifole is that I feel that the meal is cafeteria style. By this I mean that I am getting one of this and a discreet one of that. I much prefer a composed plate with a soup that complement, and this is what I get at Bistro Camino. I love the vegetables on teh plate with the main. I counted seven different kinds last time, just a bit of each one, nicely cooked and flavoured, generally without butter, and going nicely with each other and the main.

                I haven't had anything there yet which I didn't like a lot, although I must say that I avoid (Toronto) mesculan ( Yes Virginia, mesculan does not have to be boring insipid crap> the escabache fish was hum- drum the first time, now improved and I ask for it as a separate appetizer, $3.50). Also I didn't think much of the cheesecake, but I used to have the greatest, and regularly. For dessert I really liked the vanilla ice cream with the reduced basalmic sauce, $3.50.

                The lamb broth was thought to great by one and all.
                VVM

          2. j
            jdavies Mar 22, 2008 07:28 PM

            My wife and I visited Bistro Camino tonight and like others on this thread had a great dinner. We both had the 3 course fixed price menu, mine was $25 and my wife's was $28. The fixed price menu includes a small sample of 4 appetizers beautifully presented. I chose the leg of lamb main with a balsamic vinegar reduction, my wife had the beef stroganoff. Both were nicely plated with a side of roasted potatoes and about 6 other vegetables. Desserts were also included, I had the tiramisu and my wife had the cheesecake. We have to agree with others on the board that said the cheescake is bland although the tiramisu was good and portions are generous. The wine list is very well priced with adequate variety. We had very pleasant servers and although the decor leaves something to be desired, we were prepared for it after reading the reviews, and it wasn't as bad as we had expected. We highly recommend Bistro Camino and hope that others in the area will support this spot. When we left, the wait staff, including the chef, wished us good night, this certainly is a restaurant that's doing things right and deserves to succeed.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jdavies
              v
              Vinnie Vidimangi Mar 31, 2008 10:43 PM

              Two extra- base hits and a strikeout.
              Had a Michelin-crossed-knife -and- fork scale meal one evening. Octopus soup followed by a lamb mince strudel.
              The soup was very tasty and interesting. The octopus was minced.
              The lamb was wrapped in phyllo, and sat in a pool of "minted" sauce with stewed blueberries. There were eight different vegetables including roast potatoes, a bit of each, each beautifully prepared. The whole plate sang.$15 for soup and main.

              The meal was so good that I went back shortly thereafter specifically for the salmon. I am over-salmoned, but I had seen a salmon plate come out the evening of the lamb strudel, and it looked good, and that night was so good that I thought, lets see what Hiro can do. Besides, it is only $14 for soup and salmon main. The plate was excellent.
              Particularly noteworthy was the sauce-bed on which the salmon sat. Capers, dill and bits of green onion top, done with a bit of olive oil. I suppose that the salmon plate was as good as the lamb strudel plate, which was outstanding, but I am slamon jaded. Oh yeah, the salmon was very nicely cooked.
              The soup with the salmon was a vegetable soup with bits of fried garlic. Very good.
              I had dessert, what is described on the menu as tempura icecream ($6.50). This is battered (donut like batter, not tempura) ice cream, deep fried, sitting in a chunky fruit sauce. Very comfy, very good. Enough to share.

              Not every thing is as good. One evening I had the oxtail.($15 with a soup). A complete bore.
              Indifferent and not enough meat, very bony, and under a brown sauce- gravy that didn't do anything for the oxtail. The otherwise nice vegetables didn't go with the oxtail. The plate did not hang together, and I could have done without some of the parts. But at least it was only a strike out, not an inning ending double play. Sort of OK plate, and at $15 with a good soup, you get to bat again before you take the field.

              Hiros special talent- where he shows a bit of his own hand- is with soup, vegetables and fish. He generally flavours very lightly, but definitely and in a satisfying way. You can put Hiro into the stock pot, but he stays Japanese. But a natural mix. I suppose the Japanese in their own culture are masters of the aesthetic which is the hallmark of good French cooking-- seemingly not enough, but at the end (of the meal), just right..
              My recommendation of fish, etc. is not to say that that Hiro's meats are not good- some are- but the oxtail was disappointing and hard to understand how it could have come out of the same kitchen as the salmon or lamb strudel.
              VVM

              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                h
                hungryabbey Apr 1, 2008 06:22 AM

                thanks for the tip VV. I have only been once and we all ordered beef dishes and were very happy with them. The beef was extremely tender and perfectly cooked. Not in any way chewy, dry, or fatty. But I will try to aim for a fish dish next time to compare.

                1. re: hungryabbey
                  v
                  Vinnie Vidimangi Apr 1, 2008 08:13 PM

                  Have the salmon or pickeral for a first try, rather than the kingfish.
                  I have had them all , and with pleasure. But kingfish is a mackeral type, and must be really fresh. I am afraid that something will happen and I will have steered you wrong.
                  It is not surprising that the fish paltes are so good: Hiro is of course Japanese

                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                    h
                    hungryabbey Apr 2, 2008 03:42 AM

                    okay thanks for the advice.

            2. b
              bluedog Apr 2, 2008 09:12 AM

              Finally went with the family and don't have much to add beyond a. they are very family friendly (we brought our hard to please 6 year old), b. I had the kingfish with miso butter which was very tasty, despite VV's concerns), c. the decor was fine, d. agreed that the value is astonishing.

              Two additional things: 1. the style is very Japanese French. Have been to a few French places in Tokyo, and the food at Camino is very very similar: classic french cuisine through a japanese lens (e.g. edamame may be on your plate alongside something with a classic french sauce); and 2. i found the title of this thread a little confusing, as I just associated "Camine Bistro is Hiro" with Hiro Sushi. Of course, Hiro is a very common name in Japan, but wanted to clarify that this place has nothing to do with Hiro Sushi, beyond the chefs sharing a given name.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bluedog
                a
                auberginegal Apr 2, 2008 09:45 AM

                thanks for the clarification! i am not familiar with this chef and was also a bit confused from reading the title.

                1. re: auberginegal
                  b
                  bluedog Apr 2, 2008 11:03 AM

                  And to be even clearer, I asked the serving person, who happened to be Hiro the chef's daughter. She confirmed that there was no connection (and I hid my embarassment).

              2. c
                childofthestorm Apr 3, 2008 02:53 PM

                Had another good meal last night, we splurged - ha - and got the $25 set menu. To start was a nicely composed plate of 4 different appetizers, including a tiny bowl of soup. My wife got the pumpkin soup and I got the onion & garlic - both were delicious. Soups are really a strength here. Also on the plate was the escabache of fish, and although the cold was a little jarring after a sip of soup, the relishy dressing was delicious. Finally a tasty tempura shrimp - watch out for the toothpick inside keeping it straight - and some cold meats, which I had with the just ok bread. I'd like to see Camino serve a proper baguette.

                Mains, I had the duck confit, which was fantastic, all the subcutaneous fat rendered out and the skin perfect and pleasantly salty. It came with the usual assortment of different veggies, and a lightly deep-fried hard-boiled egg which was the only Japanese touch on the plate. My wife had the kingfish with miso butter sauce, and while she's decided that kingfish is not her favourite, it was still fantastic, great sauce.

                Desserts, she had a creme brulée (crust slightly overdone) and I had the profiterole with ice cream, very tasty.

                A lot of food, we were stuffed, and so very cheap. I'll probably go a la carte next time and try a bunch of different things. Also, I bet Hiro and the gang at Camino are reading the (few) complaints here like the abundance of dairy on the dessert menu - our waitress said she was tasting the new dessert menu in-between attending to our table.

                I hope they are crowded this weekend, the place deserves it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: childofthestorm
                  Leslieville Apr 4, 2008 03:01 PM

                  Went to dinner here last night with a friend and it was a stand-out!! I ordered the beef short ribs which are one of my favorite things, and they were incredible. They were fall off the bone tender with a rich, flavorful sauce and tasty mushrooms. I even enjoyed the rice, which I originally thought was an odd combination, but I actually liked the taste. My friend had the rack of lamb, which she completely decimated!!! We started off with the coconut shrimp appetizer which we shared and very much enjoyed. With that amount of food there was no space for dessert. There were only four other people there (2 other C.H.s) so please lets support this place.I can not believe the quality of food for the price. Bistro Camino is a true gem!!!!!

                  1. re: Leslieville
                    m
                    millygirl Apr 5, 2008 06:02 AM

                    It received a mention in The Village Post last week.

                    1. re: millygirl
                      g
                      gailygal Apr 5, 2008 09:47 AM

                      The Village Post???? What is this???? And where can I get a copy of it??????

                      1. re: gailygal
                        m
                        millygirl Apr 5, 2008 07:13 PM

                        Hi gailygal, The Village Post is a local freebie. Website is postcitymagazines.com.

                2. mariecollins Apr 7, 2008 10:32 AM

                  Add another fan to Bistro Camino!

                  Four of us went on Friday night and all enjoyed our meals very much. We all had the $28 set plates, with the appetizers as described in a previous post. For the mains we had the Kingfish, Duck confit, Ox tongue, and crab croquettes. We all picked the same dessert, some kind of orange custard, which was delicious.

                  Total bill, including a liter of Chilean house red, and a non-alcoholic cranberry cocktail was $158.

                  Service was very nice too.

                  Marie

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mariecollins
                    m
                    merlot143 Apr 12, 2008 04:56 PM

                    Just went to Bistro Camino for lunch. It was fabulous! I had the Italian chicken leg special, which included a black bean and tomato soup, chicken leg in a tomato sauce with raisin and pine nuts, salad (I subbed the homemade smoked salmon salad) and a few potatoes. It was all very delicious. I believe the cost of it was $7 without the substitutions. It was so nice being there, I ordered the tiramisu for $5, a lovely dessert. The atmosphere is very Japanese. Hiro came out to say hello -- he seems to be a chef/artiste. My meal came in well under $20, which I find astonishing. I'll gladly go again.

                    1. re: merlot143
                      s
                      shir May 13, 2008 10:40 AM

                      Do they have lots of choices for lunch? Planning to take my FIL & MIL there this Sunday.. do I need to make reservation?

                      1. re: shir
                        m
                        merlot143 May 13, 2008 10:53 AM

                        They have some choice with a few specials. No need for reservation -- I was the only one there. It would make a good spot to bring the folks. It's a good quiet restaurant that specializes in multi-course meals.

                  2. Googs Apr 21, 2008 09:13 AM

                    Can anyone tell me about the wine list there in terms of quality, selection, pricing, & origin of the bottles and if there's a decent selection by-the-glass?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Googs
                      b
                      bluedog Apr 21, 2008 01:26 PM

                      Googs: very basic wine list as I recall, with two reds and two whites available by the glass, an organic one in each colour. Unfortunately, I believe the other red one was Kressman's. We had a glass each of the organic (one red, one white) and it was reasonably priced but unexciting.

                      We didn't spend much time looking at the wine list, but seemed basic to me (I THINK mostly standard list LCBO selections).

                      But the good news is that this place reads these threads and seems willing to evolve. Perhaps with all the attention, they'll jazz the wine list up a bit.

                      1. re: bluedog
                        c
                        childofthestorm Apr 21, 2008 02:15 PM

                        They actually already did, last time I was there they had added a Chilean red that was quite tasty. But for sure they have a long ways to go before they are a destination for wine-lovers.

                        1. re: childofthestorm
                          Googs Apr 21, 2008 02:49 PM

                          Thanks a bunch you two. Oh it doesn't need to be a Scaramouche wine list. I'm fine with food-friendly plonk especially when accompanied by good, well-priced food. Kressman's would be stretching it though. And Partager. And L'Epayrie. I believe that's the hat trick of bad wines restaurants that know no better stock. I can name several reds and whites in that price range that won't make you cringe while you sip.

                          Thanks again for letting me know what to expect. Chilean red it is.

                          1. re: Googs
                            b
                            bluedog Apr 21, 2008 06:26 PM

                            No problem Googs: I think we're on the page anyhow. I'm not looking for pricy, just interesting. And I now seem to remember that the red we had was Chilean as well, but it was one of the firdt nights they were serving it and it wasn't on the menu. More or less fits your criteria! Kressman's makes me think of going to the theatre in Winnipeg in the 80's where that was always the "imported" wine they served at intermission.

                    2. m
                      merlot143 Apr 21, 2008 09:50 AM

                      Stopped by for dinner on Saturday. The food was good (again). There was a starter plate of four appetizers, including a tiny soup. For dessert, I had the orange coffee pannacotta, which was wonderful. It came with two chocolate-covered coffee beans, which really suited the dessert (I thought they were blueberries at first). A very nice touch. The service for dinner had a weird vibe. It didn't seem people-friendly like at lunch. Maybe it was the atmosphere -- they were playing jazz, which didn't seem to suit the surroundings. But the restaurant seemed more like "itself" when I went there for lunch.

                      1. scarberian May 3, 2008 03:06 PM

                        Went to Bistro Camino with my wife last night and we had a very good experience. It was great to see the chef's daughter back again and to finally meet the chef. We used to be frequent diners when it was Mika Japanese Restaurant and the daughter remembered us instantly (that was a nice touch!). The most expensive dishes were the lobster and steak (both $20). You can get the fixed priced dinners which have different offerings from the regular menu. Now the menu is extensive and I think it's more due to the chef trying to sort out what dishes work and which ones don't. I hope they whittle it down to only a few regular staples and continue to have the daily specials. I don't drink so I can't comment on the wine, but my wife had a Chilean red wine that was called "Devil In The Cellar" (of course this is a rough translation of it's Spanish label). My wife loved it.

                        My wife ordered the "Land to Sea" salad which consisted of mixed greens and seaweed in a basic olive oil/balsamic dressing. I tried it and for some reason this combo IMO works! She wouldn't let me taste her lobster thermidore so I'm guessing it was quite good. I had the peppercorn steak and frites. The frites were large "beefsteak" frites and they were more like roasted potato wedges. They were perfectly seasoned and delicious. The steak was perfectly cooked (blue) and the sauce was nicely made. We both had the tempura ice cream with a berry sauce. This was our favourite back in the Mika restaurant days and it continues to be our favourite even with the new berry sauce.

                        The service was very good as everyone in the restaurant were tended to by the same 2 waiting staff. This is not a high end dining experience (thank God!), but the quality was very consistent and no one can complain about the value of the meals. My wife and I are just glad that we've finally got a regular place to dine at again without having to go downtown.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: scarberian
                          v
                          Vinnie Vidimangi Oct 26, 2009 06:27 AM

                          Time for another plug for Bistro Camino.
                          I got control of myself and resisted having the salmon quenelles at BC for the third time in a row, and within a week. I was afraid that I was becoming obsessive. Or delusional-I kept thinking that I was in France. So you try.
                          Salmon quenelles, in a cream sauce with fennel and a bit of anise something. Comes with soup. I had oyster chowder and then a fish soup the other time. Both excellent. $9 at lunch, $14 at supper. This one is worth a detour.
                          VVM

                          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                            foodyDudey Oct 26, 2009 08:53 AM

                            We went thee for our second visit a week ago (Friday) and this time I found it wasn't such a great deal. The cost very close to $90 for the two of us, with tax and tip. I ordered the "mountain special", that's the name of prix fixe menu they offer. My wife ordered a soup and peppercorn steak, my main was the same. With a 1/2 l of Chilean Cab Sauv. at $16, the bill was around $69 + tax. The steak was a bit chewy, not like the one my wife had 3 weeks earlier. I didn't think it was anything special on this last visit, for not much more we can eat closer to home. But I'll try the fish dish you mention on my next visit.

                            1. re: foodyDudey
                              v
                              Vinnie Vidimangi Oct 26, 2009 09:30 AM

                              What was it like on your first visit?
                              There is a bit bit of art in selecting from a menu. Here, the chef/owner may have trained as a French chef and worked as one, but he is Japanese, after all. So I gravitate to fish which for him the preparation is instinctive. I have never been disapppointed with a fish dish, and I even seek out even the omnipresent, elsewhere boring salmon. Special mention for his home- made (literally) cold smoked salmon. He sometimes has mackeral off menu.
                              His brown sauce meat dishes don't do much for me, even though others like them. But I do like his steak pie and his Japanese shaved beef dish, yaki....something.
                              Also in a place with low prices, I don't ask for things that have an expensive main component, such as the rack of lamb. You gotta give the guy a chance.
                              Also, I try to be realistic . Rack of lamb depends on how it was raised, and lamb is an iffy thing in Toronto. And it is espensive , so that any shortfall in expectaion hurts more. So I choose to enjoy , not to challenge to the kitchen, or to try to satisfy a idealized desire.
                              Your recent steak may simply have come from a cow which had had a harder life; it happens. The curious thing is that notwithstanding all this foodie stuff, with minor exception, all cattle are considered the same , regardless of breed , rearing or season. Grading has very little to do with the eating.

                              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                                foodyDudey Oct 26, 2009 09:57 AM

                                Our first visit was good. Here is a summary of the first visit:
                                There were three of us: Mrs fD, my brother and myself.
                                We all orders that "mountain route " menu of whatever they call it, $28 for the appetisers, main and desert.

                                For mains, my brother ordered the rack of lamb medium rare, he said it was very good. He liked the food enough that he said he's be back, and that the dinner he had would cost almost twice as much somewhere else.

                                Mrs fD had the ny strip with peppercorns, I ate some of it and it was so tender you could probably just cut it with a fork. I was wishing I ordered that after trying hers.

                                I ordered the duck confit, it was OK but nothing special. But what we all liked was the chance to try the various appetisers and soup in the first course, that was a good example of what the chef can do. The soups I've tried so far are all very good, and the beef carpaccio is also worth ordering.

                                We each had a desert (included in the meal) and they were all good.
                                We left happy and thinking, why did it take so long to try this palce after reding about it here?

                                The next visit was on Oct 16. It was quite dead when we arrived at 6:30 but started to pick up over the 90 minutes we were there.
                                The main problem with the steaks this time was that there was a lot of silverskin type parts in there which made the steaks hard to cut and chew. Couple that with the almost $90 bill and I felt I should have cooked at home and had a better wine also. The one think I was not expecting in the peppercorn steak was the soya sauce flavour. Just because the chef is Japanese, I didn't expect those flavours in the steak, they seemed to overpower the pepper. I'll stick to fish on my next visit.

                                1. re: foodyDudey
                                  Full tummy Oct 26, 2009 10:37 AM

                                  I have been twice recently, and both times I ordered the rack of lamb, which I found excellent. The plate of assorted appetizers are always superb, and the desserts are very good. Hubby had the 8 ounce striploin last night, and he quite enjoyed the steak; it wasn't tough at all and cooked rare, as per his request. For $28.00 for the appetizer platter (including such things as smoked salmon, escabeche, etc.), main, dessert and coffee (a good coffee at that), I find it amazing value. You couldn't dine on steak at the Tulip for less, and the food would be nowhere near as good. Shame that your wife had a chewy striploin!!! I hope you give it another try--maybe some of the other dishes.

                                  1. re: Full tummy
                                    foodyDudey Oct 26, 2009 10:43 AM

                                    The coffee is included in the $28? We didn't realise that and decided to make capacinno at home. But if I knew it was included, I' would have taken it.

                                    Both our steaks were tough - I ordered it because my wife's was so good the first time.

                                    Based on the rack of lamb my brother ordered, I'd say they do that very well.

                                    1. re: foodyDudey
                                      Full tummy Oct 26, 2009 12:05 PM

                                      Thinking back on it now, I think I was wrong. There was a coffee charge on the bill. But, I am sure BC offers coffee included with other meals, maybe lunch or brunch... Sorry!!

                                      1. re: Full tummy
                                        foodyDudey Oct 28, 2009 09:20 AM

                                        Now I remember something that bothered me about my last visit to Bistro Camino. I was interested in the clam chowder and asked if it had potatoes in it. The reason is that I don't mind then in a chowder but I recently had a clam chowder that had about twice as many potatoes as I figured were enough. Instead of responding with an answer such as yes/no/ it has a few etc, the waitress said that since it was a chowder, what did I expect?
                                        That was just the wrong answer for me, or for anyone who asked a valid question. Last time I checked, potatoes are not absolutely required fpr a chowder.

                                        1. re: foodyDudey
                                          haggisdragon Oct 28, 2009 10:43 AM

                                          That was a bit of a smart ass answer. I've never had a chowder sans spuds though.

                            2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi
                              a
                              Apple Oct 26, 2009 05:32 PM

                              I had the quenelles a couple of weeks ago and I think one of the flavours you are tasting is caraway seed :)

                          2. haggisdragon Oct 28, 2009 11:16 AM

                            I tried Camino a while back, dinner for two. The food was good, but I expected a little more I guess. I had the Lobster Bisque, which was fantastic. For my main I ordered Duck confit with Italian sausage or chorizo, can't remember which. I found the duck tasty but a bit dry, it could have used some kind of sauce. I was impressed by the variety of sides that came with the dish, but there didn't seem to be much thought given to pairing flavours. There was a mishmash of various cooking styles. Maybe chef just cooks whatever veggies he feels like for a given week. My girlfriend had the (poached?) salmon with a butter dill sauce. She enjoyed it, but to me it was boring. We ordered a bottle of Spanish Tempranillo (Can't remember the winemaker, didn't recognize it at the time). What I remember about the wine is that it was under $40 (good) and that it was I think about 10 years old (possibly good) and that despite pretty good nose it was a bit corked, flabby, and too oaky tasting (not so good). We drank it anyway.

                            I found the room to be a bit stuffy, but peaceful. Service was good if a bit nervous. I thought the menu was too large, and the prix fixe options confusing. Overall, Camino is good value, a good weeknight restaurant. It's a great option on a sketchy strip of the Danforth. I'll be back for some more bisque and to try out those quenelles.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: haggisdragon
                              doubledown Oct 29, 2009 11:39 AM

                              if you ask him about the name of the restaurant, you will get an interesting story about its origins. he named it after spain's camino de santiago, a pilgrimage he made in 30 days. this was after he had closed mika. he decided that if he finished the pilgrimage in 30 days, he would come back and open a french restaurant, his original passion. huh.

                              1. re: doubledown
                                haggisdragon Oct 29, 2009 11:41 AM

                                That's pretty neat.

                                1. re: doubledown
                                  T Long Nov 1, 2009 05:19 PM

                                  Great story...I did wonder how they came up with the restaurant's name.

                                  1. re: T Long
                                    T Long Feb 19, 2010 08:11 PM

                                    3 of us had a mini-class reunion at Bistro Camino today - UofT Engineering - and had thoroughly enjoyable meals as expected. We had their lunch specials of Salmon, Lamb and Sole...excellent food and great value ($60 total including tips). Had a chance to talk to Chef Hiro...apparently he has walked the Camino 4 times with a 5th in the planning! Some of his trek mementos decorate the restaurant walls. Love this place!

                              2. a
                                Apple Feb 20, 2010 01:48 PM

                                Always a big fan of this place - ever since we found it on CH several years ago... but I have eaten here twice for dinner in the last 4 weeks where we were one of two tables. If we want our neighbourhood restos to stay open, we have to patronize them even in the dark days of winter.

                                Yay for neighborhood restaurants and yay for Bistro Camino.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Apple
                                  p
                                  pammycakes Oct 21, 2010 07:19 PM

                                  I agree. Have been here twice in the last few months and both times we were one of two tables. It's definitely worth a monthly visit !

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