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Mar 21, 2008 09:58 PM

Abbott Pub - good food, bad service

I checked out the Abbott Pub & Fare on Yonge, north of Lawrence. Pretty darn good food; lousy, rude, indifferent service. First the food.

The food was very good to excellent. For the most part, but not entirely.

I ordered the much talked about Buffalo shrimp, as well as a Cobb salad.

The Buffalo shrimp: Excellent. Totally worthy of that Toronto Star focus a few months back. And just huge! Normally size isn’t the end all and be all with shrimp for me but I must say I was taken aback by how big and plump they were. And quite a few of them too. I’d say 8 or 9 big ones, easy. Well priced at $10 I thought. Delicious. Exactly what I’d look for in Buffalo shrimp. Crisp, slightly sour (in a good way), and paired nicely with a blue cheese dipping sauce. Well done!

The Cobb salad – not so much. I’ve certainly had better. Serviceable but could’ve benefited from plenty more dressing, basic seasoning, and bacon. Grilled chicken was tasteless. Veggies were nice, fresh, and abundant but what is it with restaurants that pride themselves on homemade food but serve horrible, out of season tomatoes?! Uggh. Annoying.

The killer dish was the sticky toffee pudding. Oh my word. Oh my word indeed. Heaven. As was my friend’s chocolate mousse. Wow. All desserts are house-made I was told. My friend’s lamb burger was pretty good, but I’ve had better. His fries seemed frozen and I wouldn’t waste more than one quick taste on them. Utterly forgettable.

The service was lousy. Just awful. From the moment we stepped inside we were greeted with indifference and it seemed we were not as welcome and cared for as the locals. Our server was humourless, cold, and borderline rude. As all the staff there seemed. Not just him. More than one unforgivable mistake was made, which my friend - a server himself - agreed with. Too bad, very nice pub food (for the most part), and a cute/nice vibe with some surprisingly good tunes playing all night.

I will visit again as their food warrants a second chance. But if I get the same bad service I will do as done with other tasty but poor-serviced establishments. I’ll take my money elsewhere without looking back.

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  1. I live just a few blocks from the Abbot and have been a regular visitor since they opened almost eight years would not be an exaggeration to say I've probably visited close to a hundred times and I have never encountered anything close to what you describe.....I love the food, the servers, the vibe, all of it......I have even been included in their yearly customer appreciation party......when it comes to combining great food, service, and atmosphere at fair prices, few places in Toronto can hold a candle to the Abbot.......

    2 Replies
    1. re: Phil E. Stein

      I have only been once but I also didnt feel I had bad service, so hopefully this was an isolated case

      1. re: hungryabbey

        I cetainly hope so. It seemed to be a general attitude. I hope it was isolated. No excuse for it though regardless.

    2. I work down the street, and it's our office's go-to pub of choice. Agree with the food comments, but never had a service problem. Must have been a bad night and/or a single bad server.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bluedog

        The thing was, it really wasn't just the one server. There was a coldness that permeated most of the staff's attitude. Again, my friend, who is himself a server definitely picked up on it as well.

        Again, I'll certainly give it another shot. Not like it needs my patronage in any case.

        1. re: magic

          Hmmm. Maybe the staff got some bad news that night....

          1. re: bluedog

            Not that what critics write matters at all to me, but it seems the Star's review agreed with my questionable service experience, although she seemed more forgiving than I am, as they weren't even that busy when I was there:

            "And when things get busy, the wait staff can be gruff and distracted.

            Despite the occasional grumpiness – or, more accurately, because of it –The Abbot very much resembles an English pub."

            1. re: magic

              Bad on me...I was speaking of the Summerhill location.

      2. I've only ever been to the other location on Yonge near Summerhill. The service has always been very warm and friendly - they make you feel like a regular even when you're not. And the Buffalo shrimp are very yum there as well. I'd recommend you to check out this location so you can enjoy the food in friendlier surroundings.

        1. Took everyone's advice and headed there last night for the first time. I really enjoyed the food. The halibut from the fish and chips was better than most "Fish & Chips" joints I've had in Toronto. The chips although delicious, where luke warm. Buffalo shrimps are indeed very Yum Peppermint P. I have to somewhat agree with Magic...the service was not the greatest. Things where forgotten on more than one occassion (and our order was sooooo simple - pop, appitizer and a main for two). We sat in a booth and where kicked out immediately and directed to sit in a smaller table; only to watch another twosome sit down at that same table 5 minutes later. The place wasn't packed so I doubt it was a reservation. Generally, the servers I would describe as cocky and innattentive. Why are so many pub waiters cocky? "Cheers". No checking in on the food, had to wait and wait and wait at the end of the meal to get the servers attention for the bill while our plates sat dirty and empty for a solid 15-20 minutes. The food was real nice like though, so I would go back, I just don't think that these incidences are rare as others around us where getting the same lousy service.

          7 Replies
          1. re: food face

            I, too, live in the neighbourhood, and while we haven't been there a hundred times, I'll bet we've been there thirty times. I love the lamb burger, and my husband now orders the buffalo shrimp almost every time we go. I like the atmosphere, and the tunes are generally great. However, I would agree with the posters who note the poor service. Indifference is a word that I have used to describe it at times, and condescending at others. Quite often, however, we are with neighbours or friends from out of town and we are enjoying the company so tend not to let the service quality affect our experience. The food, for the most part, is very good pub food priced well. While it's not a "destination" restaurant for us, it is still a place we go to.

            1. re: gnr

              As the original poster, I thought I'd add an update.

              I haven’t been back to the Abbott, since the service was just that bad. I have however been to the second location, Abbott on the Hill on Yonge near Summerhill. It was certainly an improvement from the more northerly, original location. In both food and service. The original location’s food was fairly good for the most part, but the food at the second Summerhill location was better. The fries at Summerhill location seemed fresh, whereas the fries at the original location seemed frozen and useless. I won’t bother going into the rest of a food comparison, suffice it to say it was noticeably better and more attended to at the Summerhill location. At least on the night I went.

              The service was significantly better at the Summerhill location. Not mindblowingly attentive shall we say, as food face has indicated, but at least not rude and cold -- as I experienced at the original location. I feel for food face, who was reseated. I really think it’s rude when establishments do that without a very VERY justifiable reason. Much less to seat another party for the same number of people at the same table. That’s pretty damn bad. I didn’t have that experience at the Summerhill location, but let’s say I could see that happening.

              I think the consensus seems to be so far that the food is quite nice but their service either sucks or is walking a fine line of sucking at both places. Better shape up. Cuz like I said, there’s many other places people can blow $80 for two in this city.

              1. re: magic

                "I didn’t have that experience at the Summerhill location, but let’s say I could see that happening."

                I respectfully disagree with this comment: as a semi-regular at Summerhill, no server there would be that rude.

                1. re: bluedog

                  Yet food face had this experience there...

            2. re: food face

              Hi food face and gnr - sorry you had bad service experiences. Just curious - which location were you guys at?

              Anyway, I can only speak for my own half-dozen or so experiences at the Summerhill outpost which have all been fine. Mind-blowing service, no, but competent and friendly in a casual, neighbourhoody pub kind of way. I agree that this isn't a destination place - unless you're having a Buffalo shrimp craving!! - but it's a good spot to grab a pint and have an above-average pub meal. I find it particularly cozy in the winter months.

              With all that said, there appear to be enough recent reports of lacklustre service that they've obviously got some problems in this area. Hopefully, they can work through those kinks as I would agree that the food and atmosphere aren't so special as to compensate for cocky service - in fact, no place can trump cocky service, imo.

              1. re: peppermint pate

                I received the lacklustre service at the Summerhill location. I think if I was in a large group like gnr mentioned the inattentive service wouldn't have been as pronounced.

                1. re: food face

                  And mine was at the Yonge St and Yonge Blvd location.