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Oct 11, 2008 09:47 PM

What was your favourite restaurant that went downhill after they solidified their status

What was your restaurant that went downhill after they solidified their status, it could have been because of a chef change, a renevation that just changed its character, I think for most people it would be higher end fine dining resto but I am curious to know what you think?

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  1. Mine won't be of the fine dining variety but are "downhill" nonetheless. Wouldn't say they were all "favorites" (#2 was a one-time visit, the others I'd go to at most every 2-3 months) but they all have the "downhill" requirement that you were looking for....

    1- Lone Star Texas Grill. When I first moved out here to Pickering I really liked going to Lone Star at Whites and Kingston and order some of their authentic Texas smokehouse dishes, especially the beef brisket. Maybe 2 years after my first visit, suddenly you didn't smell smoke when you arrived, the menu was cut in half, and all the smokehouse dishes were gone. That and they raised the prices of everything that was left, by $1-$2. What made the place unique in the area (the smoker) disappeared, now it's just another overpriced Jack Astors. Then they failed a health inspection. Needless to say we don't go there much anymore.

    2- Duff's. After reading all the hype here I visited the Buffalo location (I figure might as well go to the original) looking for "the best wings". Yuck, total disappointment, Anchor Bar is still the champ. I've posted about it in the past but needless to say no Duff's gets my business. Sorry, this is one time when Chowhound hype failed horribly.

    3- Memories of Japan. I know, cheap is cheap, but we remember when you'd get a decent amount of food at the teppanyaki tables for a decent price; you'd never leave hungry. Then they started to shrink the portions down (the "steaks" were down to 1/4 inch thick for crying out loud; they used to be 3/4" - 1" thick) and hiked the prices. Didn't even feel full after spending that money. Felt ripped off. Haven't been back since. Haven't been in the area in awhile - they still in business?

    4- Milestones. I know, corporate chain. I will admit, I liked them when they first arrived in the GTA. Decent menu, decent prices; sure it wasn't haute cuisine but it was pretty good for a chain (you'd rather be there than Jack Astors or Montana's). Last time I went I noticed that the menu was smaller, the portions were smaller, the prices were higher... and surprise surprise the restaurant had empty tables, on a Friday night when the place used to be booked solid with reservations. Obviously I won't be the only customer they'll have lost....

    5- Alice Fazooli's. They used to be "Alice Fazooli's Crabshack" and their New Orleans seafood dishes weren't bad (my wife, who lived in Louisiana for a year, said they were closer to authentic than N'Awlins and Southern Accent, whose menus are a total joke to her). Then one day, when we ordered our usual, the manager was nice enough to come over to ask our opinion (we honestly said we enjoy these dishes and order them all the time) and then proceeded to warn us that the next time we come there those items will be gone. SIR Corp in their infinite wisdom decided to ditch the Louisiana dishes which made the place special, and go all-Italian. Like you can't get that same crap everywhere else in town. They went from the only half-decent Cajun "chain" in the GTA (a monopoly in that market), to just another Italian chain, right along with Olive Garden clone East Side Mario, Old Spaghetti Factory, etc. No more Alice for us.... This one WAS a disappointment, moreso than any of the above ones (I edited this post to add it in).

    4 Replies
    1. re: TexSquared

      Two weeks ago, starving and cruising out in Missisauga, hit the Alice Fazooli, cause I had heard Jack Astors next door was crap. Little did I know, they are really clones. The on duty manager came over during our meal to ask our opinions and I really let her have it! The food was beyond garbage. The calamari must have come from Grand and Toy, but she said they had used Jack Astors cause they were low on stock! The veal parm was beyond a joke. Why would you need to squeeze veal through a tenederizing machine if it started out as veal. More like tough burger with tomatoes sauce. They comped us desserts, which they couldn't even get that right. Supposedly gelato was very near Hagen Daz Choc Ice Cream, not bad, but not gelato. The waiter said they would be doing a total re-vamp in the next week. He proudly stated more italian and more noise! Steer clear!

      1. re: Danybear

        OK, so 2 years ago (which was the last time we went) the manager told us about a total re-vamp where they planned to remove the Cajun things off the menu and make it all Italian. So, fast forward to 2 weeks ago, you're telling me that since then they started to serve Jack Astors food and are AGAIN announcing a switch to Italian? What a joke...

        SIR Corp must be run either by idiots, or people who think their customers are idiots. Here's their website:

        If anybody's been to Canyon Creek lately please don't tell me they're serving Jack Astor's food too....

        1. re: TexSquared

          Canyon Creek still has decent pork chops.

          1. re: tjr

            Canyon Creek is still good with great Chicago style steaks

    2. The Garden Gate Restaurant at Queen St. E. and Beech Avenue. It went downhill by going uphill. For years it was the ultimate greasy spoon, a Beaches hangout with scuffed linoleum and juke boxes in every booth that served so-so Chinese-style food. But it was filled with memories - memories of warm summer nights on the nearby beach's boardwalk and dancing at the Balmy Beach Canoe Club. Now it's been cleaned up, renovated, gentrified, and looks like every other family restaurant. The only things that remain the same are the semi-mediocre menu, and the neon sign hanging above the entrance proclaiming "Good food". It gave the joint its nickname years ago when some of its neon letters burned out. Hence, forevermore it became, and still is, "The Goof".

      3 Replies
        1. re: Bob Catt

          Agreed. The Goof used to be a great place for diner grub.
          Almost inedible the last time I tried it.

          1. re: Bob Catt

            I just joined chowhound and came across this bit about "The Goof". I am a former Beacher and just loved the place. I took my out of town guests there for the great atmosphere and the good old basic food. You could still get a peanut butter sandwich!! I am appalled at the so called reno. They wrecked it completely. The sign remains, the rest is a farce. The Beaches lost a true landmark. Sigh....

          2. I don't know if it would be higher end for most people or not. It certainly isn't for me.

            For me it's two that are now chains.

            1) Swiss Chalet. When were were kids and even as young adults, this was a good place to go to get a good meal. Ya, it wasn't the greatest food on earth but it was good and it wasn't expensive. Now, it's just not good. The last couple of times we ate there it was a rather cleansing experience. I vow never to waste my time there again however I still know people who love it and I'll probably get dragged kicking and screaming.

            2) Lick's. I used to love Lick's. A nice big, juicy burger and great rings. It was a staple of ours on trips down the the Eaton Centre. Now, I generally try to avoid it.

            I agree with Lone Star and would like to add Harvey's for honourable mention. My memories of it as a kid were that it was a pretty good place. Now it's almost a joke.


            5 Replies
            1. re: Davwud

              Oh, you won't be dragged kicking and screaming by me because I agree with you 100% on Swiss Chalet. Fond memories of being treated to SC by my parents. And like you, the last time I went, will be my last. Roll was cold and tasted like it came from the day-old rack at No Frills, the Chalet Sauce was watered down, the chicken was tiny, the fries weren't crispy. Not the SC of my childhood....

              Surprised nobody's mentioned Tim Horton's with their downsized frozen donuts... but that's another thread.

              1. re: TexSquared

                I find the quality of Swiss Chalet greatly varies from one location to the next - it is widely inconsistent. My nephews love the place and I will only go to the one on Yonge north of York Mills where they actually still seem to care about the food and service.

              2. re: Davwud

                I have to agree 100% with you about Lick's. I remember having my first Lick's Burger at the old Yonge/Dundas location back almost 20 yrs ago now. Back then the Homeburgers were very well seasoned and juicy--not the bland ones they seem to serve now. Sadly, I've never been able to relive that first Lick's experience.

                1. re: ParsleySage

                  God, way back when, my mother and I used to go to the first licks in the Beach, wait in line for an hour and then take the BEST burgers and fries down to the beach and eat and eat and smile, alas, Lick's will never be the same.

                  1. re: bigbadred

                    My mom and I used to do the same thing back then! Licks in the beach for dinner on Friday. We lived in the beach and I remember those looooong line ups, especially the first year they opened. Their burgers were amazing... and their chili dogs were awesome too! Now the burgers are bland and all the same shape like Harveys. They used to look really home made. I think ever since they started selling their frozen burgers in the supermarkets, they must be using them in the restaurants :(

              3. We used to love Wendy's.....a great salad bar where you could heap your plate with so many healthy items.

                Now look where they are....sigh

                1. Not a favourite, but I'm reminded from another thread of Coco Lezzone. It used to be semi-decent and now? Not so much.

                  Some restaurants I wonder if they were ever good, or if I just have fond memories of them from childhood. Swiss Chalet comes to mind, as does Ponderosa Steakhouse (I know, I know).