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Life is sometimes like Harbour 60. Expensive and disappointing....

Baelsette Sep 8, 2008 11:15 AM

We decided to give Harbour 60 a try for a friends birthday. For the money we spent ($600 per couple) I would expect to be "wowed!!"
We did order expensive wine which of course added to the insane cost of this meal but truly the steaks were just ok, not fantastic. Some of the sides were good, some meh and dessert tasted like it was purchased at loblaws.
I'm still blown away by the end price tag and the mediocre meal.

  1. BokChoi Sep 8, 2008 04:26 PM

    Wow. Thanks for the heads-up. I would have thought for that price, the steaks would be amazing. I was saving it for a special occasion. Good thing I have held off for so long.

    1. JamieK Sep 8, 2008 04:41 PM

      I thought this was a suits-and-expense-account kind of place, not a special occasion destination for ordinary folks.

      1. t
        TexSquared Sep 8, 2008 05:14 PM

        Everytime I read a negative review in here for Harbour 60 I shake my head and think, when will they ever learn? Forget these local copycats and go with the experts, go to Ruth's Chris. Never been disappointed there. If Harbour 60 was any good they'd have put Ruth's out of business or at least make Ruth's drop their prices to get their customers back. Hasn't happened.

        2 Replies
        1. re: TexSquared
          deelicious Sep 8, 2008 06:22 PM

          I agree. Ruths is great for a chain restaurant but don't push it. Better steaks if you aren't just looking for butter can be found at Mortons, Harbour and even Barberians on a good night. Ruth's has it's place but it isn't at the top in our experiences!

          1. re: deelicious
            BokChoi Sep 9, 2008 09:27 AM

            Have honestly never enjoyed an experience at Ruth's Chris. Dying to love it - commercials had my saliva glands working overtime. But the steak was just not as great as I had hoped. I would take a homemade Cumbrae's steak anyday over another failed Ruth's Chris experience. Luckily a few times were on expense account, so that took away a bit of bitterness.

            But to each their own (I personally like my beef tasting like beef and not butter). It's a huge chain for a reason, am I right? Lots of people must love it.

        2. Baelsette Sep 9, 2008 09:02 AM

          I haven't ever been to Ruth's although I've been meaning to try it., My regular haunt is Hy's.
          We had a few different cuts around the table, porterhouse, ny strip and filet. Nothing was awful, it simply wasn't wonderful and for that price it really should have wow'd! We all agreed........
          I would like to try Barberians one night, it's on my list!
          Anyways, I'm over the anger and am trying to move on! :-)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Baelsette
            b
            Bigtigger Sep 9, 2008 02:31 PM

            Baelsette, it would be interesting to learn which dessert/s you had that tasted as if they came from Loblaw's, especially since I have always thought that H60's coconut cream pie was really outstanding. As for the rest - overpriced wines ? yes ! meat good but not always great ? yes ! pleasant atmosphere ? yes, unless they sucker you into those absurd "gallery" tables - imagine paying $600 to eat in a busy corridor. I love Barberian's and think it is consistently good, with warm service. Ruth Chris, good for what it is. No steak in town can equal House of Chan's big filet on a good night - but the sides, other selections and atmosphere of course are wholly different. For the total experience at a reasonable price one has to head to Manhattan (Palm, Ben Benson, Keene's, Lugars and many others) or Vegas (Craftsteak, Prime, Nero's)

            1. re: Bigtigger
              d
              danthediner Sep 9, 2008 05:29 PM

              I ate at the legendary "NERO's" inside Caears Windsor (Windsor, ON) last year.

              Total rip-off, over-priced and very underwhelming.
              And don't even get me started on their "Signature Steak Sauce!!!"

          2. finelydiced Sep 9, 2008 02:48 PM

            I would tend to agree that Harbour has Ruth's beat on a few fronts, but overall I don't either of them (or Morton's for that matter) can hold a candle to Jacobs & Co. Has anyone else been? The selection is almost too large, but I have yet to be disappointed with any choice.

            1. Baelsette Sep 10, 2008 11:24 AM

              Hey bigtigger,
              we had a platter of various desserts. I'm not sure if it was on the menu or if of my friends just said to bring a mix.
              There was a lemon tart which was nice, coconut cream pie, cheese cake, scoops of hagen daz ice cream (the waiter told us it was hagen daz) and a molten chocolate cake.
              As there rest of the meal they weren't bad just were nothing special, tasted very generic.

              1. atomeyes Sep 11, 2008 03:47 PM

                i was there in the summer for a work meeting (of course). we're all health care professionals, so perhaps they were extra attentive? who knows.

                my comments:

                service: was phenominal. so polite and attentive.
                apps: pretty good to very good. the carpaccio was tasty and is the only thing that really stood out. but nothing disappointed.
                main: i had the filet mignon. it was excellent. grilled to perfection. very tasty cut.
                sides: everything was very good. again, not disappointed
                dessert: had their chocolate lava cake. was excellent. not worth the $15 tag i noticed, but was much better than most choco desserts i've had from other restaurants.

                you kind of feel like you are surrounded by excess when there.
                otherwise, it was really good and i was pleasantly surprised.

                1. t
                  TexSquared Sep 12, 2008 04:49 AM

                  And this article verifies it:
                  http://www.thestar.com/living/article...
                  Harbour 60 has the most prohibitive wine markups in town.

                  1. Baelsette Sep 12, 2008 06:04 AM

                    The one thing that I have no complaints about was the service. Very interesting article, thanks for posting.

                    1. Charles Yu Sep 12, 2008 06:24 PM

                      According to today's Star article, Harbour 60 has also the 'most ridiculously high wine mark-up' in town. In some cases an unbelievable 500%!!! How arrogant of them to charge this sort of prices!!

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Charles Yu
                        deelicious Sep 12, 2008 08:30 PM

                        I'd like to see their restaurant booked out entirely by AA members for a week or two. The owners would need the paramedics!

                        1. re: deelicious
                          Charles Yu Sep 13, 2008 06:28 AM

                          Yup! Should be fun! But then, most probably they'll mark up the Evian 500% as well!

                          1. re: Charles Yu
                            Googs Sep 13, 2008 06:33 AM

                            Barberians anyone?

                            1. re: Charles Yu
                              deelicious Sep 13, 2008 11:22 AM

                              I bet they already do.

                              It is really too bad that the best steak in Toronto is at a restaurant that rips off the wine drinkers who enjoy better bottles.

                              1. re: deelicious
                                atomeyes Sep 13, 2008 06:11 PM

                                my only "defense" is that a great whine collection needs to be managed. you need someone who researches their wines, knows the wines, can store them properly, pair them with food, etc.
                                so there's an inherited cost with it.

                                does that mean a $200 bottle should be marked up to $500? likely not.

                                1. re: atomeyes
                                  Charles Yu Sep 13, 2008 07:15 PM

                                  From $200 to $500, this I can take. In fact if one takes a Roederer Cristal Champagne ( around $250 retail ) as an example, most high end restaurants here in TO, from Scaramouche to Splendido actually mark it up exactly like your example ( around $485+ ). However, my issue is when an establishment like Habour 60, who for no other reason than plain GREED do mark ups of $200 wine to $1000 that really bothers me!

                          2. re: Charles Yu
                            jayt90 Sep 13, 2008 09:05 PM

                            Regular wait staff can learn enough about wine on their own, especially if it gives them a shot at the easy tips for not much work. There is only so much to learn; it is somewhat finite.
                            By having such a high priced cellar, there is likely to be a lot of wine sold 'over the hill', too old, sitting around for too many years. Those are the bottles they will push.

                            1. re: jayt90
                              T Long Sep 14, 2008 09:28 AM

                              Can "good" wine really be too old? Cheaper stuff has an improvement ceiling with age, but better wines generally improve with age. I would hope that Harbour 60's stock falls under the better category...especially at the prices they are charging!!

                              1. re: T Long
                                a
                                Aardvark Sep 14, 2008 01:39 PM

                                H60 is not known for their wine cellar, just their greed.

                                I agree that the best steak I have had recently was at H60 but their alcohol pricing is offensive.

                                Barberians on the other hand is known for their wine cellar although based on past experience their steak pales in comparison to H60 and other places. Could have been an off night. I haven't been there lately.

                                Even very good wine turns to vinegar eventually especially these days with newer wine methods.

                                1. re: T Long
                                  jayt90 Sep 14, 2008 08:21 PM

                                  Many expensive wines begin a slow, steady decline after 15-20 years improvement.
                                  Harbour 60 may have some in that condition (I haven't seen their list) simply because the high prices tend to keep them in the cellar.

                                  1. re: T Long
                                    h
                                    hungry_pangolin Sep 21, 2008 03:33 PM

                                    Also depends greatly on the grape. A bit apples & oranges, but the very best white Bordeaux (semillon) doesn't have the potential life span of the very best red Bordeaux (name the blend). Yes, of course good wine has finite life span. And, I assure you, there is nothing more heart-breaking than opening a great wine past its best before date.

                              2. s
                                Snarf Sep 14, 2008 07:48 PM

                                I recommend bringing your own wine to any steakhouse in town. Look at the math. I've brought bottles of old Caymus or Dominus to Morton's that I've purchased in the 50-75 range, and with the 30$ corkage, compared with the 4-600$ list price, enjoyed a comparative bargain. You've got to push them on the sommeier service sometimes, though.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Snarf
                                  Googs Sep 20, 2008 11:06 AM

                                  By George you're right! Nice one, Snarf.

                                  1. re: Snarf
                                    g
                                    garlicandwingnut Sep 21, 2008 07:14 AM

                                    Most steak houses won't let you bring your own for that very reason.
                                    Phone and ask first. Generally they will tell you that they don't have the special licence which allows BYOB. Even if they do they will not let you bring anything they have on their list.

                                    I find Toronto steak houses a bit of a laugh and simply will not go on my own nickle. If you see a 16 oz. New York on the menu for $45 the resto will have paid $13-14 for it. You can only get second or third rate New Yorks for $13 -14/lb.. Steak houses have all sorts of tricks to make cheap steaks taste a bit better usually in the form of added fat which cheap steaks lack and steak spice with or without MSG to perk up the taste buds.

                                    For one quarter of what you would pay at a steak house you can have a bottle of wine and a better steak at home including garlic bread, pickles, salad, baked potato or fries. 75% of your bill is for the privilege of planting your tush for a little while in the same place 1000's have sat to be served by a wait person who will only remember you if you stiff him/her with less than a 20% tip.

                                    1. re: garlicandwingnut
                                      Googs Sep 21, 2008 08:16 AM

                                      Barberians, Morton, and the Keg Mansion all have BYOW. In the case of The Keg Mansion, they also belong to Take Home The Rest. Okay, not my first choice for a steakhouse, but that info may be handy to others.

                                      As my girlfriends and I have been discussing having a Girls Steak Night and the resto of choice is Barberians, I figure Snarf's suggestion just saved us somewhere between 50 and a hundred dollars. Yes, it'll likely be a long interview establishing what I have in my collection that they don't have in theirs, but all in all worth the time.

                                      1. re: Googs
                                        jayt90 Sep 21, 2008 09:52 AM

                                        Let us know what you take, and how much you save. Barberian is supposed to have a great cellar, so I hope they don't say they have what you brought!

                                        1. re: jayt90
                                          Googs Sep 21, 2008 10:02 AM

                                          Yeah, it's kinda like bringing a sandwich to a banquet, but whaddaya gonna do?

                                          1. re: Googs
                                            jayt90 Sep 21, 2008 10:08 AM

                                            I just checked Barberian's wine list, and it is superb, but mark up seems to start at 3x, and goes up as the wine gets rarer. http://www.barberians.com/winelist.ph...

                                      2. re: garlicandwingnut
                                        s
                                        Snarf Sep 21, 2008 05:13 PM

                                        Many restaurants do not tie the corkage fee to a requirement that the wine you bring is not on their list. It shouldn't matter, as older wine prices are influenced by the risk taking of cellaring, and they don't have to take it back if yours has gone off. A good idea to call when booking to see if they tie any conditions to the corkage fee.

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