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Nov 2, 2008 05:42 PM

cluck, grunt & low ... bleh

So friends and I decided to try out Cluck, Grunt & Low today (the Bloor location). We sat down with low expectations since the reviews have been pretty mediocre plus they were doing an all-you-can-eat brunch. Our low expectations weren't low enough. First off, the service was bad. I had to go get a pitcher of water off the bar since we couldn't get anyone's attention after we'd declined alcoholic drinks. And I overheard multiple instances of rude, abrupt comments from servers to other customers. Just not good.

But since it was buffet, service wasn't a huge problem. And we expected not to experience their best, since the food was sitting out as a buffet but the issues we had with the food weren't buffet issues. Both the baked beans and the potato salad were undercooked. I like the crunch in my potato salad to come from celery or onions, not the potatoes! The cornbread was overcooked, burnt on the edges, and the biscuits were hard as rocks.

Most of the food was bland and not worth going out of your way for.

I'd love to tell you how the actual bbq was but the only evidence of it was beef brisket. I'd expect no ribs on the AYCE due to the economics, but no pulled pork or chicken or wings? The brisket was definitely not falling-apart tender like I'd expect from the smoker, and its flavor primarily came from the sauce the slices had been tossed in. There was also bacon labeled as coming from their own smoker but none of us could discern any difference from what you'd be served at a greasy spoon. There was ham as well, plain chunks of the same stuff you get at the grocery store.

So in summary, almost no bbq and bland, often undercooked sides. I was disappointed not to taste the pulled pork but can't say I'm likely to go back try it.

Cluck Grunt & Low
362 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S1X2, CA

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  1. i have to disagree on almost all points here, as we went for brunch yesterday as well.

    the service we had was quite excellent, both of the waitresses were friendly and chipper, but in a good way. for the record,we also went with water, without drinks.

    as for the food, the beans were my only problem, as they were a bit too firm for my liking.

    however, the brisket was a definite winner, full of flavor and had a melt in your mouth texture. some delicious grits, served with both sweet and savory toppings. house smoked bacon to my heart's content (which turned out to be quite alot of). very serviceable buffet eggs, with some salsa fresco.

    i'm not sure which biscuits the original poster had, but the 5 that i had were certainly not hard, and were fluffy and delicious in the middle. the white gravy was a little bland, however, and could have used a couple shakes of fresh pepper. the virginia ham was quite good too, but clearly took a back seat to the brisket.

    for a southern style brunch (and for only 13 bucks), i thought this was a complete win. furthermore, my party had a real texan in it, and he also greatly enjoyed the experience and we will be going back next sunday again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: toothpicvic

      Wow, it sounds like we were at totally different places with the same menu. I'm glad you had a different experience than we did. Maybe we were there at different times. I'd say maybe we're just pickier, but your descriptions are so different from what I experienced. My brisket was chewy; yours was melt in your mouth. My biscuits were hard; yours were fluffy. You even got good service where ours (and what we observed around us) was bad.

      I guess the best conclusion I can come to is that the food and service are hit and miss, even on the same day.

    2. Never been for brunch, but I go once a week for lunch and have usually had good experiences.

      Their sandwiches are probably the best thing on the menu, and I strongly recommend the BBQ chicken or croque cluck. These come with your choice of side including wonderful, crispy, seasoned fries. (Occasionally over-seasoned but still good.)

      They used to have a mac'n'cheese with smoked sausage dish, which was great. Hoping it comes back on the winter menu!

      Service is good, and it's easy to do a weekday lunch in under an hour.

      The only complaints I've had (shared by dining companions) are about the sauce: it is tasty, but sometimes a little too much, and it's a bit too sweet, especially for some of the dishes it is used in. I prefer the sauce at Phil's Original BBQ (the fries are great, too!), but the atmosphere at CGL makes up for it.