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Jun 19, 2008 06:09 PM

Spice Room, or not??

Taking a very special friend to dinner to-morrow.
It is a once a month get together.
The last few in order:

We are "off" Tapas style eating, (I think that One was the last straw.)
Was considering Spice Room, but have read so many negative reviews.
Have not been to Japango, or Alize.
Would you recommend either of the two instead?

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  1. Are you sure the negative reviews have been for Spice Room (Greg Couillard's place) or for Spice Route (Winlai Wong's place)? The former has gotten generally good reviews here from what I can recall. The latter, on the other hand, is almost universally panned as a beautiful space for singles on the prowl and not enough focus on the food.

    1. People do tend to mix up Spice Room and Spice Route...

      Of all the places listed, I'd choose Splendido but I've heard O-Mei does lobster four (three?) ways like no other. I've been dying to try it. It may be a little too much food for two though lol!

      3 Replies
      1. re: pinkprimp

        I'm pretty sure erly was saying that these were the last few they've been to, not places they are considering. Spice Room is all right, depending on who you ask, Spice Route is the one getting universally negative reviews (as stated above).

        I've never been to Japango, but steer clear of Alize. A few friends had asked me to go to a Winterlicious booking with them, and we ended up waiting outside at Alize for half an hour in the cold. When we got in, we were sat at a table directly next to the open door and it was so cold that we put on our coats. My friends were adamant about eating there though, claiming they've had great food there before. We stayed, but our waiter didn't notice we were there, so after half an hour, I went and got him. Appetizers were mediocre, mains were awful. Dry beef, frozen, soggy tilapia; I've had a better meal at mall food courts, only it was more comfortable, we didn't have to wait, etc. When I told the waiter how awful our food was (no one could eat more than a few bites), he told us that we weren't going to get anything free, and it's illegal to give things away free (I assume he suggested this because we're all in our early 20s). I asked for the manager, he brought me a menu. I asked for the manager again, and the manager came over bringing us free drinks and apologized. He was a nice guy, but honestly, the food was really awful, even for a 'licious menu. Sorry for the rant.

        If you're looking for Japanese, try Sushi Kaji in Mississauga (if you're up for the drive), as it's probably your best bet for Japanese in the GTA (though expensive).

        1. re: tjr

          lol, oops. my bad. you can tell that i haven't had my morning coffee yet...

          I'm going to Grace tonight so I will report back and maybe you'll find it's what you're looking for.

          My "special" dinner backup venue is always Canoe though, for weekdays. You can't beat the Canadian themed menu and the lovely view.

          1. re: tjr

            kaji is awesome, but not in mississauga. it is in etobicoke on queensway near royal york, i agree with tjr, worth the drive.

        2. I did NOT like Spice Room, and I did not like Alize (though not as bad as S.R.). Have you been to Globe Bistro? Haven't heard much talk of it on this board lately, so throwing it out as an option.

          1. I think inconsistency is the big problem at Spice Room. Some people have a good time, some have a terrible time. I was in the latter group, so I would not recommend it.

            1. The consensus of our foursome was that the food was flat and unremarkable. Furthermore, the restaurant quickly becomes an astonishingly loud room lacking the requisite design to absorb the thunder of the those coming to enjoy the bar. If you like being part of the scene, SR was certainly the place to be. However, I`d pass on this place if you want to able to talk to your fellow diners and enjoy food that is more than merely acceptable.

              9 Replies
              1. re: xmtler

                Before reading xmtler's comments on the noise factor (I avoid all restaurants that make normal conversation impossible, and where the music assaults my ears), I attempted to make reservations at Spice Room, but they were fully booked.
                After the very negative review of Alize, and no comments re Japango, I tried Rosebud...also fully booked, and Table 17 , but they will not take reservations until they settle in, I went back to my list garnered from fellow chowhounds, and booked Zen.
                I don't know if any hounds have been there recently, but it wasn't bad, but it was not very good either.
                The three of us shared five decent, but not outstanding app's., and put ourselves in the hand of the chef for the sushi.
                Boring, pedestrian, even badly presented, and most of the fish, including so-so quality tuna, flash frozen stuff that couldn't be disguised.
                Possibly an off night, but would not return.
                I didn't expect the quality of Sushi Kaji, which I love, but...this was not good.
                Don't bother making the trek to Scarborough.

                1. re: erly

                  Oh that sounds bad which is quite opposite to my experience in Zen, but I have not been to there for a few months. Maybe things has changed there. Or hopefully just a off night.

                  The nigiri sushi and sashimi omakase plates I had in Zen are very high quality with great variety which stay true to a more pure simple traditional way, great fish to rice ratio, good sushi form, nice sashimi plate presentation, with good fish combination and arrangement that gives succulent and distinct taste on each fish presented in the omakase. Even better than Kaji in terms of raw offering, where it's sushi sometimes used heavy "dressing" which mask the true taste of the fish. In GTA, Zen is my top choice if I want some great nigiri sushi with no twist.

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    skyline, we went there because I respect your postings.
                    Trust me, the sushi was not terribly good, but not bad, with no effort whatever to be well presented..
                    One piece was unchewable and loaded with sinew.
                    A nice distracted young lady (server) forgot to bring plates with our app's, and we needed to remind her some five minutes later, and she then brought the sushi platters, and forgot to bring plates once again or bowls for the soy.
                    We waited ten minutes this time and an older lady came over, apologized, and brought us the plates.
                    Possibly post when you go there next.

                    1. re: erly

                      Thanks for the head's up, maybe I will wait for Goog's visit first :)

                  2. re: erly

                    I'm quite frankly shocked that Zen could have had an off-night. Over the years of going there I've never experienced anything short of delight. My last time there was only about 4 months ago at the most. I'm going to chalk this up to being a fluke. I agree with Skyline in that the simple, restrained preparations for sushi and sashimi at Zen are the best for truly appreciating the freshness and quality. I will make the trek to Scarborough to see if they still have the same chef behind the bar.

                  3. re: xmtler

                    Are you describing Spice Route on King West or Spice Room in Yorkville (as OP's request)? The bar at Spice Room seats eight at best. Spice Route seats 300.

                    1. re: Dimbulb

                      xmtlr was responding to my request for info on Spice Room, so I presume that he meant Spice Room.
                      Possibly he or she can elaborate, as SR can stand for both restaurants

                      1. re: erly

                        I think xmtlr was actually describing Spice Route. Spice Room isn't big enough to get that loud, and the bar is outside of the dinning room.