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Aug 15, 2008 01:25 PM

Value for money in Toronto vs. other cities (split from Ontario board)

Hi Everyone

I know this has gotten into kind of a “foodie vs. non-foodie” discussion, but I do see some merit in my companions’ complaints about the food scene in Toronto. To be honest, I have faired much better in other large cosmopolitan cities (NYC, London, HK, Vancouver, Paris, Barcelona, and Boston all come to mind) when it comes to ‘value’ for the money. I have no issue shelling out a significant amount of money for a solid meal, however, I find that many restaurants around Toronto find it acceptable to charge exorbitant prices for often-times sub-par foods. The problem often lays in consistency of execution, or just plain portion controls. Executive Chefs should ensure quality control in their kitchens before letting them loose on the public. In all the aforementioned cities, food portions have always been generous, and frequently match the price point. In Paris, one can eat like an absolute glutton for about $70 CDN. In Boston, I have always enjoyed a meal at Clio – adventurous ingredients that are deftly prepared to my liking. I am also quite full even though their menu often consists of exotic items such as Chilean Sea Barnacles. In Toronto, it is often shocking that one can pay more than $120 a head and feel ‘ho-hum’ about their meal. I was even down-right disappointed with my Langdon Hall experience the other month. In NYC, Perilla and Jean Georges (which is Michelin-starred) offer gigantic portions that are solidly prepared, all for about $25 a course, or less.

Do not get me wrong. There are quite a few restaurants in Toronto that I frequent as I feel they are consistent and always create a memorable meal experience (JKWB, Zen, and numerous others). So I am not lumping them all together in the least.

Does anyone else see this inconsistency when comparing Toronto to the International food scene? These are just some of my ramblings. Thought I would put in my two-cents.

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  1. Canadians are so loathe to complain about sub par ingredients and execution that restaurants aren't as on the ball as they might be in other areas. Even in places that have the ability to serve great food lapse into inconsistency and are rarely, if ever, taken to task for it by their customers. We owe it to our local restaurant scene to hold our restaurants to higher standards. Though, the appearance of Vancouver on your list does punch a hole in my theory...

    1 Reply
    1. re: pepper_mil

      hey pepper_mil. It's the Canadian temperament to just take it and say “yes please” and “can I have some more please?” To be honest, I have found the other provinces to provide much bang for the buck. Montreal, the East Coast with their $5 lobsters (though not prepared with all the trimmings one may come to expect of a Michelin starred restaurant – they are still solid), Alberta with their growing culinary scene all provide a refreshing change to the drab cuisine we find in Toronto (the main gripe I have with Ontario). I think Torontonians should demand more from their restaurants and it will only start happening when the public voice is heard. And that is why I love forums like CH that allow us to voice our opinions and hopefully make a difference to the culinary landscape.