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What's your most disappointing dining experience?

Hello Chowhounders!

Obviously we're all here because we love food. I enjoy nothing more than going to a restaurant, and getting much more than I expected. Beit service, food, or atmosphere.

At the same time, I hate it, when you spend a significant amount of money, and get poor service, food, or otherwise. Especially coming out thinking "I could've gotten better food for 1/5 the price at Jack Astors". Which is why I suppose we're all here...to avoid the big box restaurants.

So..your most disappointing places (places we should avoid), and most surprising places (those gems)?

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  1. One of my most disappointing experiences was at Southern Accent. It was our four-year anniversary and we went during Summerlicious. They sat us in a boring room upstairs with a party of 25 people, including screaming babies. We asked to move because it was terrible. The food was mediocre at best, the service rushed, and the portions small. I also hated having to climb two flights of stairs to go to the bathroom.

    One of my most surprising experiences was at Harbord House. It used to be Rower's, so it appears as though it's a pub. However, all the food is delicious and creative and homemade. I love the Club sandwich with the cranberry mayo. The service is friendly and informative (who knew the beans were made with bacon? good think they told my vegetarian mother). I've gone back numerous times and it's always great.

    5 Replies
    1. re: canadianbeaver

      I also want to add that Elephant Thai Cafe at Queen West was horrific. I had the sushi and it was the worst sushi I have ever had...tasted like absolutely nothing. Sad because I hate Thai food and my bf was excited that he could eat Thai and I could have sushi. But nay.

      1. re: canadianbeaver

        I've never had good sushi at a Thai restaurant.

      2. re: canadianbeaver

        This place is a thorn in my side as my kids really like it. I know it is just a greasy spoon place but still you would think that in that area it could do so much better. Alot of the food on the menu is looks fine on the menu but when it arrives it is always disapointing. I think the cooks just need a little more training seeing as I would be hard pushed to mess up a grilled cheese sandwich as much as they have done in the past, plus have the nads to actually serve the thing instead of just getting anouther one. only takes a few seconds to make. Plus they obviously do not clean their frier out very much as everything that comes out of it is a dark brown colour instead of golden. If your restaurant serves fries with most of the items on your menu then you should be cleaning out your friers every 2 days with fresh oil and filtering it every night to stop that burned taste from getting into the food. They might gauk at that and complain about the added cost but the increase business due to improved food would make up for it. Managed to keep the girls out of there for the last few months but if they would at least say that they are changing the oil more often i would bite the bullet and go back. Im not asking for the place to be exceptional, just bearable would surfice.

        The Grapefruit Moon
        968 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5R3G6, CA

        1. re: BritInTO

          i remember the episode of restaurant makeover in which the owner hated (and rightfully so) the results.

          although it was a mess at that time, it proves that a paint job can't fix what is truly wrong with most of these 'failing' restos.

          grapefruit moon with its eclecticness (if that is a word) and regulars will probably continue to limp along as these little places with hearts of gold usually do...

      3. hmm.. I walked in to Joe Bidali's once, by accident... that was traumatic. I was at JKWB a few weeks ago, and the washroom hadn't been cleaned in weeks, and the food was so-so. They served Tropicana Orange juice instead of the freshy squeezed; I also had a very disappointing meal at Ultra, where they went back on their word on certain agreements that were made previously involving a large party. I haven't been back since.

        1. Most recently: Segovia near Yonge and Wellesley. Just poor all around and very expensive.

          1. Great thread idea, stonedtoronto.

            There are quite a few, but I will stick to three from this year alone to keep my thoughts a bit more relevant.

            First off, we have Langdon Hall. Never have I traveled so far and paid so much for such a mediocre meal. It was not a terrible meal, it is just that once you factor in the price and the 2 hr drive to Cambridge... I basically came out thinking - "That's it?! That's what I've been reading such great things about? That's what I just made a day trip out of Toronto to try?". I think it was a birthday celebration dinner, and for that price, I would have preferred (in retrospect) to fly the birthday person to London for great food for the amount we spent. Anyway, let's just say we were all quite a bit disappointed.
            Review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/561430

            Secondly, JKWB. Maybe I take it a bit more personally because it was MY birthday dinner this time. I was very impressed on my earlier visits - they were able to prepare some of the best fish dishes I had had in Toronto. I dragged my risk adverse dining companions there to celebrate my special day. In the end, we were all disappointed. Sure the portions are small, they are tapas-style after all, but I don't mind if the food is good. But it wasn't. So therefore I was very disappointed.
            Review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/558934

            Next up, we have Sen5es. Once again, mediocre food at high prices. It wasn't bad, but it didn't come close to deserving the attention it received, nor was it worth the prices. I guess I came in with high expectations, and left with a jaded opinion of the Toronto high-end dining scene.
            A quick commentary here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/569335

            And finally, Truffles. An institution in my eyes. Even though it holds a sentimental place in my heart (first date many, MANY years ago with my SO), I went back recently in November and was SHOCKED at how mediocre it was. I have not had a chance yet to write up a review, but you can be sure one is coming. I could not believe what had happened to one of my great standby restaurants. I used to love Truffles. Maybe it's the new Chef Laurie Bandur that took over, maybe it was a busy evening next door in the ballroom - I have no idea, but it was just not very good. A restaurant of such a reputation of high standard should not have a bad day, nor allow the team to serve such a meal. The service was also a touch uncomfortable and rushed near the end of our meal. I am not sure where the waiter was planning to go, but it was not a pleasant end to our meal to say the least. Needless to say, I doubt we will be returning to Truffles. Has anyone else tried Laurie's new food (we had a good meal earlier this year with Lora Kirk)? Maybe it was just an off-day for her. I don't think I'll risk another visit anytime soon to find out.


            6 Replies
            1. re: BokChoi

              I will second your vote for Truffles. My wife and I went there for our anniversary a few years ago. No problems with the food, it was fine, and we'd researched the menu/prices ahead of time so we knew what to expect.

              However, the service was horrible. We had the bad luck of having a table close to the big round table with 10 suits obviously on an expense account. And even worse luck that their server was also our server. So you can imagine how we were snubbed in favor of these bigshots. Water glasses sat empty for 5 minutes at a time, wine glasses weren't refilled promptly, when we finished the appetizer course the used plates weren't removed until just as the main courses arrived, then same happened when we finished the mains; not until dessert arrived did those plates disappear. And as BokChoi said, after all that, they seemed to rush us at the end, like they wanted rid of us faster so they could give more attention to the big tippers next door.

              Absolutely no excuse for that. If that big table needed the undivided attention of their server we should have been assigned another server. I've had better service at Jack Astor's, even when there was a large table of rowdy drunks or a birthday party nearby! Surely a 4 star place like Truffles should beat a corporate "sports bar" chain in service quality. They didn't. Say what you like about the food, but I've never experienced poor service at a Jack Astor's or a Canyon Creek.

              Since that night I refuse to dine at any of the restaurants in that hotel because of how we were treated that evening on what was supposed to be a special occasion for us. They ruined it. And the next time you're asking yourself why anybody would eat at a chain, read this post again and you have your answer.

              1. re: TexSquared

                I was there about a month ago with some friends; they all loved the food, but I thought it was mediocre. I was sick at the time, so it was probably just me (I say this because the second last meal I had at Truffles was also boring, and I wasn't sick at the time). We didn't have any of the service issues you guys did.

                1. re: TexSquared

                  No excuses for that type of treatment. The restaurant is small. They should be able to handle it. I'm sorry to hear that they ruined your special occasion.

                  tjr, glad you had a more pleasant experience in terms of service. Agreed that the food is a bore (the last couple of visits at least). But that is Truffles I guess - classic and traditional. I just wish they did it well, then I would have no complaints. My dining companions enjoy that type of food. They didn't enjoy the bad food that came out of the kitchen though. My poor dining companion swears to never speak of the meal at Truffles ever again. It was a milestone birthday, so I see where he is coming from. Poor guy. It's a sensitive topic now and it's quite a hush-hush topic now.

                  1. re: BokChoi

                    I love classic, traditional food in general, but by boring I mean it was a poor representation of these classic, traditional dishes. I've been frequently enough over the past however many years that I can tell the kitchen has slipped enormously; to add service issues is, well, astounding. I wouldn't be surprised that service issues exist because the quality in the kitchen has dipped as well. Too bad, I had enjoyed many meals there in the past...

                    1. re: tjr

                      My first meal there was back in the heyday when Crawford was there. I had a great meal. Amazing. I could not believe it was the same restaurant. The service back then was amazing and polished. Exceptional.

                      Last visit? One waiter was very competent, so I don't want to dismiss all their efforts. I was just left with a bad taste in my mouth nearer to the end of the meal. The food, well.. that was just dreadful. Charles, you may be right. I had hoped that they would not have let someone take the reigns when they were not yet prepared to do so. It seems like such a risky thing to do with such an established restaurant. I know I will be taking my money elsewhere from now on. It's so sad to have to scratch some favourite restaurants off my list.

                    2. re: BokChoi

                      Of all the fine dining restaurants in town, Truffles can be the most inconsistant. The reason being, it is the 'stepping stone' for chef seeking for greener pasture in the Fourseasons empire. Specifically, New York, LA and Chicago. The best time to eat there is when the executive chef is well entrenched in his or her position. Eg., Patrick Lin or Lynn Crawford prior to their jumping ship. Worst time is when a new chef takes up the helm and still trying to consolidate his/her position. Like now.

                2. I know no one on this board believes me but lunch at Langdon Hall was hugely disappointing and not just because of the drive (I only had half the drive BokChoi did). I'm still not sure if our dinner the night before at Scaramouche clouded our judgement of LH or not.

                  1. The most disappointing meal I've ever had was at Cowbell. We made a reservation but didn't even get to order our drinks until 30 minutes after seating. The 40-something couple IN LINE had drinks in their hands before we did. Another couple, seated 20 minutes after us, were served drinks and their meals after us. We, a party of four 20-somethings, were consistently ignored for other tables and the food was mediocre at best, but we would have been more forgiving if the service was more respectful. We would have have stayed for dessert if the service was a little friendlier. It seemed like a case of ageism. Sad because we tip well but none of us will ever go back.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: foxymoron

                      My wife and I decided to go out for a special evening one night. We stopped at Cowbell soon after it opened, on a weekday night and decided we'd see if we could get a table. The wailress that met us at the door could not have been more condscending. "You have to make a reservation if you want o eat here!" I said to my wife, "we'll see if you need a reservation in a month or two."
                      Surprisingy, we have not gone back to see if we still need a reservation.

                    2. Without a doubt, Cowbell.

                      From high expectations to an overpriced insultingly small entree and a slow, inept, yet still condescending server, I will never, ever go back there.

                      It's a shame because while the food itself was fairly enjoyable, nothing else was. So many better dining experiences to be had!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: nicopop

                        Trevors on Wellington. I was there last year with a group of 6 people. We all had the tasting menu at $200 a pop. What a disappointment. Over priced, bad food. We all left hungry. I tried to post this on a couple of other sites, but they would not allow it. My husband was there the other night with a group and again the same disappointment. I will never return, but I would certainly never recommend Trevors.

                        1. re: nicopop

                          i agree that cowbell was hyped up a bit for what it actually was. it wasn't that great at all. i ordered the duck and it was kinda bland, even though it seemed to be cooked to perfection. their appetizer menu with the sausage sampler or whatevs looked like a total joke. a group of us were being taken out for an appreciation dinner and we were asked to make suggestions of where to go and i had heard about cowbell in some reviews and suggested that... i felt embarrassed because it didn't live up to its online reputation. i haven't been back and i don't think i ever will. i, too, agree that the server was a tad pretentious.

                          1. re: nicopop

                            i liked cowbell alright the first time i went, but then the second time my husband and i went, we took his sister and brother-in-law. there was nothing horrible about it, but the prices just seemed exorbitant. the food is okay, it's not stellar. i am happy to shell out big bucks for memorable meals. my meal was as forgettable as they come.

                          2. My most disappointing dining experience was at Kaiseki Sakura. It was the $80 omakase with very mediocre food and presentation. I have tried kaiseki meal in Japan, HK and US before and never left hungary like this, some even with a lower price. We were not even half full at the end. We have to go to the "Crepe it Up" nearby to filled up our stomach with another $7 bucks, the crepe there is good.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: skylineR33

                              Oh drat, I have a reservation for there this Saturday. I guess I'd better keep that Crepe it Up place in mind.

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                Definitely agree on this one. Hashimoto is better in every way. Sakura was disappointing in both the flavour of the dishes we were served, and the presentation wasn't that great either (as mentioned). The service was fine, but it seems more like pseudo-kaiseki for Torontonians who don't understand Japanese cuisine. Hashimoto, while expensive, is a much better value. Flavours are excellent, well-prepared, well-presented, and the experience is second to none in the GTA.

                              2. Jamie Kennedy's poutine. I had heard such great reviews. I got it from the Gilead Cafe. For $9, a portion size that could fit in the palm of my hand, barely any cheese and a dried out piece of lamb kofta. Flavours were ok, but I felt ripped off. $9 isn't a lot of money, but for the amount of hype the thing gets, count me out.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: grandgourmand

                                  Its funny...we went there for brunch yesterday. We hadn't been for a while and thought it would make a nice brunch place for our out-of-town friend.
                                  ordered 3 lattes, toutiere, mac n cheese and the cheeseburger with a side of poutine.
                                  the cafeteria-style of ordering makes things seem a little frazzled. my toutiere was really nice and surprisingly filling.
                                  the mac n cheese was ok. we've had better at dive bars. it didn't have much flavour other than that of melted cheese, and the cheese was a mild cheese used.
                                  cheeseburger was pretty good. but, in all, a very disappointing visit. you can go to the Hoof for the same price, not eat cafeteria style and be wowed with your food.
                                  the service was pretty awful, though. they didn't bring the mac n cheese out with the rest of our food and said it would be 3-4 minutes. we waited. another table, who sat 5 minutes after us, received their mac n cheese. we waited. finally, i talked to who i think is the manager (Laura?) and she kind of apologized and finally brought it out. so two of us finished out meals by the time we received the third lunch. no real effort to right the wrong. almost a sense of not caring.
                                  also disappointing was the poutine. it was with a glorified tomato sauce - definitely a few notches lower than Gilead Cafe poutine we've had in the past. it also seemed to have few cheese curds.

                                2. After the Gourmet Wine and Food Show walked the strip of big box tourist traps on Front and settled on Joe Bidali's. What a mistake! The 'Wild mushroom" bruschetta topping were limp, salty, overcooked button mushrooms and the "Fresh Roma Tomatoes" were obviously not; neither did they look or taste like tomatoes. To add insult to injury - this was a spur of the moment dinner-date with my wife and we don't usually get the opportunity to eat dinners out together. JB needs to rethink matching their ingredients to what is on the menu...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Captain Maplesyrup

                                    I also tried this place under similar circumstances, and yeah, it blows. I kicked myself for not opting for East Side Mario's across the street. The most enjoyable part of the meal was blasting them on the supplied review card..

                                    1. re: Marumari

                                      If you get stuck near the MTCC again, you're better off walking just that little extra bit to Big Daddy's Crab Shack at King & Simcoe. It isn't great, but it ain't bad either. Certainly you've both proved you can do a lot worse. Funky little bar area in the place too for relaxing post-dinner.

                                  2. Olivia's at 53 was my most recent one. Granted we were with a dinner party of 16, a stress for any kitchen, but the food was just poorly executed and grossly overpriced. And the housemade organic wine, they only had one available, a completely insipid merlot. Too bad, because the atmosphere is terrific in there.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: childofthestorm

                                      Olivia's used to be a go-to restaurant for us. It's so charming and romantic, and the food used to be so delicious and well-executed! the last time we went was horrible. half the menu wasn't available, i wasn't given the salad i ordered, the server never asked us if we wanted more wine, and plus we had to stand in that awkward from hallway for what felt like hours before we were greeted, let alone seated. i keep wanting to give it another try, but i'm not going to until i hear something good about this place. it's very sad. definitely my most disappointing dining experience ever.

                                      1. re: Sarah Cat

                                        Olivia's has gone steadily downhill ever since Olivia herself took her leave. It's a heartbreak, for sure.
                                        On my first visit, my companion and I sat swooning in our seats -- Ms. O. herself came out to check on us.

                                    2. The Foxley.

                                      Honestly, after all the RAVE reviews on this board, went with friends, and really thought the food was terrible. All the dishes were extremely overspiced and lacking any nuance (particularly the ceviche) to the point where all we could taste was cumin, coriander and/or cilantro. The frog legs were IMHO an abomination-some sort of sweet sticky gloopy sauce that masked the delicate sweetness of the meat. The service was fine, no issues there. To be fair, I think that style of cuisine is really NOT to my palate. But I did leave with that WTF? feeling uppermost in my mind (as did my friends)...

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                        Took my family there and had terrible service. The staff were disinterested and I felt as if I needed to stand up and wave to get service. I usually do reviews when I try a new place for me, this time I didn't. Everything was poor from the salad (wilted) to the mains which arrived at a temperature below optimal serving temp. Out of deference to a colleague, I will try Tundra again and give them another shot.

                                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                          Foxley - ditto. What's all the fuss about? I also found Nota Bene rated a fair bit less than the hype wouold suggest,

                                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                            have to agree with Foxley. after much anticipation, only the ceviche and duck met expectations. everything else, including ribs, was marginal at best. too much hype. did like the fact that there a couple of bars nearby to kill time at while waiting for a table.

                                            1. re: dickiegreenleaf

                                              I went to Foxley with a friend last year and I can be critical of a restaurant if it rubs me the wrong way, but we had a great time. The dishes may not be for everyone but we both loved everything that we ordered and had good service.

                                              1. re: Conductorchris

                                                Couldn't disagree more with the negative reviews of Foxley's. I've done my fair share of chowhounding in NYC, LA, etc. and Foxley's was one of the better meals I've ever had. Side ribs were incredible, ceviche was near perfect.

                                                It's no "Le Bernardin", it's a neighborhood spot (the hostess is also a waitress/busboy, same with the bartender), so expecting "five star" service is dumb. I loved the "take your phone # policy" and the bar across the street was a great place to chill out and wait for our table. All in all, highly recommended.

                                                207 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J2Z8, CA

                                                1. re: benzo

                                                  I'm with you on that.

                                                  I have always had great/friendly/efficient service there...

                                                  And I like the "go for drinks and we'll call you" idea too!

                                                  Tom Thai's food rarely disappoints.

                                                  1. re: Non Doctor

                                                    I ADORE Foxley's! I can't think of a single complaint about any aspect of my experiences there!

                                                    207 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J2Z8, CA

                                                    1. re: Sarah Cat

                                                      what i like about foxley's is that they seem to really care about what they are putting forward-it doesn't always work, isn't always successful-but their heart is in the right place...and that means alot to me

                                                      1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                        Service okay - Food rediculous. Bad food, bad wine list and although the service is good, anyone who has every had authentic ceviche anywhere in Central/South America would know that what they attempt to pass off as ceviche is a joke and is offensive to those who know better. Good place for drinks, horrible place to dine. Way better options on Ossington

                                                        207 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J2Z8, CA

                                          2. Cachet.

                                            It's in Newmarket, right beside Fairy Lake. It should be a beautiful thing. My wife's birthday. A beautiful summer night. Lake side patio table. Nice looking restaurant.
                                            First off, I really don't think it's necessary for dinner to take 2 hours. Especially when all we had were 1 appetizer, 2 mains and 1 desert. It's not like they even made decent food. My seafood fettucine was not very good. The desert was lacking in depth. They weren't even trying to up-sell the booze. I ended up with 2 beers Mrs. Sippi had one drink and some water. It was just terrible.

                                            I'm sure some of you have chimed in on my Hero Burger thread. Nuff said there.

                                            A very pleasant surprise was Cedar Grill in Newmarket. Outstanding Lebanese food.


                                            1. Crush. I blame myself though. I wasn't a part of CH until after our bad experience there.

                                              We were celebrating my friend getting married. I organized the whole thing. There were 10 of us in a semi-private room.

                                              When we arrived, Jamison Kerr was so pretentious and snobby. I asked him a question and he barely acknowledged my presence.

                                              The service was HORRIBLE and slow. The food was just OK. We had to wait 50 minutes for our bill and even then I had to chase down our server.

                                              I will NEVER go back there.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: geoprincess

                                                That's a shame to hear about Crush. It's one of our faves in the city. It sounds like they really dropped the ball on your party. We really enjoy the food and have always had service ranging from really good to over the top holy cow good.

                                                1. re: geoprincess

                                                  I fully agree! We went there for a friends birthday with 10 people. The service was perhaps the rudest I have experienced in the city, the food was bland, boring and overpriced and I will NEVER go back there, and in fact, will go out of my way to ensure others don't go there either.

                                                2. 1. Langdon Hall
                                                  2. Colborne Lane (delicious cod, but not nearly worth the cost.)
                                                  3. George (which was okay but dramatically over priced)

                                                  1. My all-time disappointing restaurant is Ikki Sushi on Kingston Road east of the Danforth intersection. Until it arrived we hadn't had a good Japanese restaurant in that part of Scarborough - and we still don't. The food isn't just mediocre - it's awful. (The hamburger joint that previously occupied the building was much better!) There are lots of much better Japanese restaurants and sushi bars not far from there, down on Queen East . Our favourite is Yumei Sushi.


                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Bob Catt

                                                      In Toronto? Thai noodles at the Queen Mother. Mucilaginous mass of goo. Can't believe it was served with a straight face.

                                                    2. 1. Perigee: Party of 8 had the tasting menu. It's not that the food was bad, it's just that nothing was memorable, and the wine pairings were mailed in, at best. A waste of time and money, even if we had a good time. That was about 4 years ago...maybe it's improved.

                                                      2. Hero Burger: Shouldn't their burgers taste good? Again, it's not that they're terrible, per se, but they're just not very enjoyable.

                                                      3. Chippy's: Their fish and chips were perfectly decent--it's just that my expectations were very, very high.

                                                      I have had good experiences at Southern Accent and Foxley--it's a shame to hear others haven't been so lucky. I could never be disappointed by Joe Badali's as I would never expect anything other than deeply mediocre, over-priced food there.

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: Adrock75

                                                        I find that Chippy's over fry their fries and they almost have a burnt taste

                                                        you should go to a chip wagon in brantford ontario their fries are to die for

                                                        1. re: kas

                                                          I agree. I don't get the Chippy's hype. Their fish is decent, but the chips are a constant disappointment. It shouldn't be called Chippy's...maybe Fishy's instead.

                                                          1. re: kas

                                                            Hey, I think I know which chip wagon you're talking about in Brantford! First Brantford exit from 403 -- with the Wendy's/Tim's visible from the road (actually the Cainsville exit). Then, south down on Hwy. 2 turn right and on the south side (not the one on the north side!)?

                                                            When my grandmother lived in Brantford we used stop every time we visited -- that was back before the 403 went through too (so you couldn't miss it and forget to stop!).

                                                            1. re: kas

                                                              I agree too! I also don't get the Chippy's hype...so what if the owner used to work for Susur Lee? It doesn't guarantee good fish.

                                                              601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                                              1. re: kas

                                                                Chippies is by far the worst chip shop i have been to. In fact if anyone can point me to a half decent restaurant in the Bloor/bathurst area i would appreciate it.
                                                                Chippies fries are overcooked and the times that i have been there it has been a constant disapointment. Im english so every now and then i get a craving for something that reminds me of home and hope that they would have done something to improve the fries but no. Also what is with this lazy Canadian habit of leaving the skin on the potatoes?
                                                                Im glad they closed down cos because i wont be temped to walk down the street and give them anouther shot. Smoke's Poutine is there now and although i wouldnt call poutine something that one should rave about (Fries, cheese and gravy people, thats all it is.) it is good comfort food and if its anything like the queen street place then i will deffinatly be stopping by after a few beers.

                                                                1. re: BritInTO

                                                                  It's not necessarily lazy. It's a different way to make fries and some people prefer the skin on. I know I do.

                                                                  1. re: BritInTO

                                                                    Poutine is Canadian. Perhaps all it is is fries, cheese and gravy to a "Brit in TO", but the combo of those individual ingredients, done well, is something I find a lot of people cannot replicate well, especially outside of Quebec and Northern Ontario. It often ends up as a bland, goopey mess, which is far from what it is supposed to be.

                                                                    I also don't expect any non-Canadian to necessarily see the holy light when eating it. But it is a truly Canadian dish.

                                                                    Bangers and Mash don't exactly float my goat either, I mean all it is sausages, potatoes and gravy people!


                                                                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                      a. to jamesm - Leaving skin on the chips is like going to england and having then use cheddar on your poutine and trying to pass it off as authentic canadian. I wouldnt mind if it was called "fish and fries" but it didnt. The "chip" is a main ingredient of the fish and chips experience and so should be replicated as such. Again Im not saying that fish and chips are the be all and end all of cuisine. I would be the first person to say that english food is generally comfort food and nothing that should be taken very seriously but if done correctly is a pleasant experience. I guess i was just hoping for something the same as back in the U.K.

                                                                      b to SWS) Don't get your knickers in a twist. I do like poutine, it is good comfort food but how many places make the gravy from scratch or make their own cheese curdes or at least have them sourced from somewhere special? I would love for someone to show me a poutine place where their regular simple poutine blows me away. Bangers and mash I will have to agree with you on this can more often than not be pretty rubbish, but if the establishment has taken the time to source out some good flavourful sausage, used quality baked beans, potatoes for the mash and fried the onions well then it pays off with a meal that one can actually tell that alot of thought has gone in to it.

                                                                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                        While I agree with your comments on the food, I have to comment on your 'pleasure' analogy. Most people say 'float my boat', and have done with. You on the other hand, are taking things one step further by having your lascivious 'goat' floated. Far more evocative of the facial expression during a good food experience. Think I'll borrow that, if permitted.

                                                                2. Sopra, hands down. Went there for our anniversary last year; we had heard good things about it and liked the idea of a [non-cheesy] band playing too. The food was way overpriced for what it was [Mistura kitchen notwithstanding], and the service was beyond atrocious. It was just us and a table of 6 or 7 who were there for some sort of meeting/party [and seemed to be regulars or just generally people the resto deemed 'big shots'], and they were accidentally tripping wait staff, dropping glasses, etc.... for whatever reason, our waiter slavishly attended to this table and completely ignored us [e.g. our drinks took 35 minutes to arrive, we never got bread, one of our mains was wrong, he never asked if we wanted dessert/coffee and we had to flag him down to get some]. Halfway through dinner he became confrontationally rude; he openly sneered at our wine choice, and when he brought us the bill he walked by like he was on fire, threw it down on the table so it knocked over a glass, and kept walking without looking at us once. I should add that we are beyond polite customers, and weren't demanding or overbearing; in fact, I never even called the restaurant to complain later, which in retrospect I should have. He wasn't overrun, what with there being only two tables and two waiters that night. What really made me upset was that management was there that night, having shot after shot at the bar and obviously not really doing their job and monitoring the room. I was just so soured that our anniversary was basically ruined that I just decided to tell all my friends never to go there [and I guess posted this on Chowhound]!

                                                                  1. I've had plenty of bad food over the years, but usually at places where I expected it or ought to have known better. But the disappointment prize has to go to Banfi on Lonsdale.

                                                                    When people heard we were moving to the area, everyone recommended it, and I have no clue why. Birthday date night for my husband, the room was cramped, crowded and very loud. The service was actually quite good, especially considering how busy they were, but the pastas were dreadful. The only thing memorable about them was that his was squishily over-cooked, yet mine was rock-hard underdone.

                                                                    What a waste of paying a baby-sitter.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Ginsugirl

                                                                      I totally agree with you.
                                                                      I've been going there since it first opened in 1988. The last couple of times I had the pastas which were absolutely horrible. You could serve pasta out of a can ( they probably should) & they'll still be packed.

                                                                      1. re: otidra

                                                                        Lee Garden Restaurant on Spadina- average chinese food but the worst service and attitude from the wait staff. I been there 5 time before (never my choice) and I will never go there again. They seem to only give proper service to their regular clients and ignore us.
                                                                        This last straw was a during a going away party. I went to pay the bill and one of my coworkers offered the staff a piece of cake. They took and ate half of my Dufflet cake.
                                                                        I can never understand the line up there since there is plenty of alternatives in the area that is just as clean and offer better food and service without the attitude.

                                                                        I found a gem that specializes in sushi at Mochizuki (Bay & Elm). We ordered the Omakase (chef choice). I will write a review about my experience in the New Year.

                                                                    2. Csekowski's on Queen West - totally ridiculous service & food. We want to love it as we live in the hood...but can't.
                                                                      We're always disappointed by high end popular restaurants - maybe too much hype - but North 44 (tough lobster), Avalon (when it was open - always taking our drinks before they were finished, seated the two of us at a huge table for 8 when the place was empty - odd) & Canoe (there for a wedding - bartender was so nasty we were scared to ask for a drink) to name three.
                                                                      I agree too with the Foxley comments!

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: thebutcher

                                                                        For my friend's birthday, he got to pick, and the ROM's restaurant had opened a few months earlier so he wanted to try it. Ouch. Careless service, condescending explanations of menu choices, but what was most disappointing was the stunning mediocrity of the food - any diner could have done as well. The room is large and cold with the white/black minimalist decor. It was very difficult to flag the waiter to get water, a menu, an explanation...etc because all noise echoed so you didn't dare call out. (They were told in advance it was his birthday and they did *nothing*) Very pricey and clearly not worth it.
                                                                        Needless to say, neither of us will recommend the place to any of our friends.

                                                                        On the other end of the spectrum: Joso's [seafood]
                                                                        Hadn't been for many years. Went there a few weeks ago for another friend's birthday and it was perfection. The food (there was 10 of us), the service, the ambience (!). I had mentioned it was his birthday and they took it upon themselves to dim the restaurant lights and bring the dessert cake with candles and sing HB, as well as changing the music on the speakers to "16 Candles" by The Crests! Pricey and worth every hard-earned penny!!!

                                                                        1. re: schmecht

                                                                          I have to agree regarding C5. I went for brunch yesterday and sat for several minutes, struggling to find a single item on the menu that I wished to order. Everything sounded heavy and meaty. There wasn't a single vegetarian or even remotely healthy option, except a sunchoke soup that contained cream. The options all sounded potentially interesting, but not to a diner seeking something healthy. I quickly abandoned that notion and shared a charcuterie plate that contained pretty pedestrian charcuterie. I tried everything and was not impressed. My order was the huevos rancheros, which came with two tasteless sauces. The presentation was attractive, but the two fried eggs were so undercooked that the yolks were cold and a fine layer of uncooked white remained jiggly and liquidy atop the entire fried egg. Ick. The two tiny tacos filled with refried black beans would have been as heavy as cement had they not been so small. A few chicharones were scattered on the plate. The whole thing was a tasteless disappointment. I might have ordered the scrambled eggs with lobster, crab and brie on a croissant, but it sounded too rich. Besides, I was having lobster and shrimp for dinner. Another at my table ordered the pancakes stuffed with bacon, nuts, foie gras and something else looked very fluffy, but quite dry. On the whole, I found the restaurant long-ish on creativity but lacking in the flavour and execution department. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of brunch, but I would not return to C5, mostly due to the stunning lack of flavour in the dishes. The service was perfectly fine, as were the wines we chose.

                                                                          1. re: 1sweetpea

                                                                            What did your friend think of the pancake? It sounds disgusting...

                                                                            1. re: sloweater

                                                                              Actually, two at my table ordered it and I thought the pancakes looked really dry, like pancake-coloured hockey pucks. Neither had any criticisms, but I heard no raves from anyone at the table. Two had the lobster and crab scrambled eggs with brie de meaux on a croissant. Both left the croissants but ate the filling, declaring it heavy. The two of us that ordered the huevos rancheros agreed that it was low on taste and heft, despite being a traditionally filling brunch choice. I should add that I asked the server when ordering if either of the two sauces were spicy, since I'm a chile fan. He said no, but he could bring a spicy sauce on the side, which he did. It was brown, very liquidy and tasted like tamarind. There was no heat in any of the sauces. Very disappointing. Everything was so blah and yet so expensive. I will say that the sunchoke soup was quite pleasant, but I was disappointed that it had cream. I doubt it was necessary.

                                                                        2. re: thebutcher

                                                                          czehoski? i love it there actually. i've always had good food and friendly service when i went. i'm usually pretty hard to please, but that remains one of the favourites. i went during summerlicious and what we got was really good!! the beef tartare is a bit bizarre but i'm sure that's the nature of the dish itself.

                                                                          1. re: thebutcher

                                                                            Have to agree with you on Czehoski's. Although we had a great waitress the food was diappointing to everyone of our table of 9. I had the poutine which was fine except I paid $10 for it. For $10 they should give you a big plate full. 95% is potatoes and there is hardly a cheaper ingredient in the kitchen. Now I am not suggesting mamoth proportions but just fill the damn plate.
                                                                            For my main I had the cheeseburger. I was not the first to mention the patty was overcooked and tasteless. I think when you serve a $12 cheeseburger without any sides it should come with some pretty iinterestinfg condiments rather than Heinz Ketchup and French's mustard. A

                                                                            Big diappointment.

                                                                          2. Pangea...
                                                                            Recent visit just left me so disappointed we didn't go somewhere else..just seemed like a waste of an evening..
                                                                            The food was so bland, overcooked...even the bread was dry, stale.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: burlgurl

                                                                              Ditto, Pangea is on my list of the worst Top Ten ever!

                                                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                                                Six months after the last post, and Pangea is still massively disappointing. I think they make their money off the BMO employees who work in the Manulife Centre, and have nowhere else to go for their fancy (?) lunches. The place is all corporate-faux-style and no substance. The food is mediocre, the service is lousy, and the bill is large.

                                                                                1. re: Ludivine

                                                                                  Totally agree ludivine. I had one of my worst meals there. In fact, there were 8 of us at the table, and everyone agreed. One friend ordered liver and it was so overcooked he sent it back. Only the replacement order was just as bad, actually worse. They seemed to have no clue!

                                                                            2. Rodney's. when they refused to seat a larger than anticipated group in an empty restaurant, i crossed this off the list. u can get good, fresh oysters at a lot of places now (Oyster Boy a local favourite) and steaming lobsters and crabs should not be rocket science.

                                                                              1. Pizzeria Libretto hands down!
                                                                                One and a half hour wait for some burnt, soggy pizzas with bland tomato sauce. What a joke!
                                                                                Terroni's on Adelaide is much better!

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                  Charles - I wish I had read this before I went to Libretto. : / I had high expectations after reading so much positive feedback on this board and hearing from friends who lived in the neighbourhood. I suppose it is a fine neighbourhood joint. But definitely not worth a special trip. I would rank Terroni and Mercatto above this place for pizza. All of the pizzas (3 types) I sampled were soggy. The tomato sauce was without zing. The flavour combination in the sausage/rapini/olive pizza was oddly off. Service was, on the other hand, delightful...

                                                                                  15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

                                                                                      1. re: justsayn

                                                                                        the mushroom pizza was gross. No sauce, hardly any cheese and a ton of mushroom. not that great IMO. The meatballs were not too bad but spicier than I thought they would be.

                                                                                  1. I would have to say Live on Dupont St. Meant to be one of the best raw food restaurants (there are few) in the city, and possibly the first, I couldn't have been more disappointed. The dish I had was cooked and couldn't even be considered raw, so it is not because I can't appreciate raw food. I had an asian thai dish meant to have sweet potato noodles with greens and got a few stringy noodles in tasteless broth with a piece or two of spinach. It was awful. And memory doesn't serve me on the price but I believe it was over 15.00.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: HerMajestyPrincessBaklava

                                                                                      strange.. every time i go to Live i have an awesome experience. i find their cooked items to be quite nice... i recommend going with the specials... they're considered specials for a reason. i never had that dish you're talking about though, i'm not big on noodles. i find them very affordable for what you're getting, especially considering it's organic.

                                                                                      1. re: pinkskittles

                                                                                        I am allergic to nuts. Went to Live (as they have nut-free options), I ordered a nut-free combo for take-out. Get home, wolf it down, only to fall severely sick. Turns out they gave me a regular combo by mistake which had all kinds of nuts. My boyfriend spent $120 for 2 combos and dessert. So overpriced and careless servers. I should mention that they did refund our money when we alerted them to their mistake. But why even have nut-free options on the menu if you're going to put the nuts in anyway???

                                                                                        1. re: Ironchefa

                                                                                          My partner and I went to Live last year and weren't charged for our bottle of wine. We pointed it out to our server, who fixed the bill and brought it back. Later we realized the first charge was put through too so we had been billed twice for dinner on our Visa. We called and were told we had to come down to the restaurant to get a refund, which was out of our way. When my partner got there they didn't apologize or offer anything for our troubles - not even a cookie. I thought that was poor service considering we were the ones who pointed out the wine wasn't on the bill in the first place. Not impressed.

                                                                                    2. i'd have to say CAFE VERT was the WORST place i went to. i went there specifically because their website boasted organic and natural options.. when i got there, they had run out of more than half of their organic items and have replaced them with conventional stuff from no frills. so they had organic chicken, but they replaced it with strange no frills chicken... which would be fine if they let you know ahead of time and adjusted the price accordingly, but no, they still charge you the organic chicken price and you have to ask if it's organic today. if i saw "organic chicken" on the menu and said "i'd like the chicken" i'd expect to get organic chicken... but i had to actually talk about it to the girl to find out that neither the chicken or the yoghurt or a bunch of other things there were not organic. it's very deceiving and i don't support them at all! restaurants that boast organics usually pride themselves on that, but that restaurant does not. why couldn't they just do like other restaurants do and say "we're out of that"? it's not like it's so hard to find organic chicken or yoghurt if you run out... you're in toronto, there are many options! but no... no frills is across the street, so go there instead? wtf?! they're awful and deceptive... i ended up eating there anyways, but other items that i could be sure was organic... the food i ended up having there was very mediocre... not worth the money. i'd never eat there again!! not just because the food sucked and was horribly bland, but because of how deceptive they are.

                                                                                      STAY AWAY FROM CAFE VERT!!

                                                                                      i went to CHIMICHANGA tonight... that food was kinda poor... and they charged us for the birthday cake thing... usually restaurants give that for free.. i thought that was kinda stingy. it tasted like chocolate dipped, custard covered sock... yuck.

                                                                                      1. I would have to say Bar Volo on Yonge Street at Wellesley http://www.barvolo.com/
                                                                                        but they are more of a drinking place anyway

                                                                                        1. Margarita's on Carlton. I know it's a mistake to order a seafood "stew" special at a Tex-Mex place, but I did anyway. I saw someone leaving and coming back with No Frills bags and I can't swear it was my meal, but I like to think it was. Came to my table with almost every mussel shell closed. The rest of the seafood was OK, but I was put off by the fact they served me closed mussels. Would have complained, but I was in a hurry to get to a show after dinner.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Pincus

                                                                                            Both Margarita's are filthy, filthy places *shudder*.

                                                                                          2. One of the most horrific dining experiences that I've had in Toronto was at Thuet. A friend and I went for brunch and the food was horrible (how is it possible to completely screw up brunch?). The waitstaff were disorganized and clueless. All in all, it was one of the worst brunches I've ever had (including those had at sketchy "greasy spoons"). Totally not worth the price or the hype. A huge disappointment!

                                                                                            My favorite place for brunch used to be Czehoski, but I've had a couple of bad experiences recently. They rarely alter their menu, which can be frusterating if they only serve 5-7 dishes for brunch. I've been going there for over 2 years and there hasn't been much variation in the choices. I went last week with a friend and ordered the $10 french toast which was supposed to come with carmelized bananas. My plate showed up with some kind of candied fruit (I still don't know what they put on top of it, except that it wasn't bananas and it was disgusting). Since the whole point of the dish was the bananas (who's going to pay $10 for two tiny pieces of eggy-bread???), I asked for the proper garnish. The waitress went next door and bought two bananas. 15 minutes later I received a side dish with 4 tiny slivers of caramelized banana. At this point the french toast was cold. BRUTAL! If you only have about 6 pricey dishes on the brunch menu, you'd think you'd be prepared to make them properly (especially if you have a fully stocked fruit store next door). Czehoski used to be brilliant -- great beer and fairly good organic food. Now it seems that they're just coasting on their former reputation. That last experience was the straw that broke the camel's back -- I won't be going back any time soon!

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: msmuggins

                                                                                              Czehoski changed owners, chef and menu about three months ago or so.

                                                                                              1. re: msmuggins

                                                                                                I also had a horrible experience at brunch at Thuet. We made a reservation since we were a large group, but there was a revolving door of servers assigned to our table. It took an hour to give our order, our food took forever to come, we had to refill our own coffee and water and then our empty plates sat on the table for 30 minutes. And then they added the standard big group gratuity to our bill! The worst part is I wrote to the restaurant to say what a shitacular birthday brunch it had been, and I got no response - not even a non-apology apology. Marc Thuet can Bite Me.

                                                                                              2. For disappointing, I'll go with Didier. Oeufs en cocotte tasted of tomato sauce (canned), lamb dish tasted of olive (overly so). On the plus side the carrot mousseline tasted of carrot :)
                                                                                                Service was subpar, perhaps due to the fact that we didn't opt for the Valentine's menu that they carried over to the night we went.

                                                                                                1. Most disappointing? Cafe du Lac. First the space - Quebecois style cuisine served in a space better suited to College street is a tad off-putting. It felt cold, uninviting and generic. I don't mean the walls need to covered in tchochkes but something to warm up the space wouldn't be a bad thing. The service? Verrry average. They could barely decant our lovely '93 Bordeaux and had to be asked for water and cutlery. And the food...well, in a word, meh. I've had worse, and I've had much much better. Duck that was flavourless, soup ditto, dessert an adventure in bland. My dining companions all had the same reactions to their food. Boring with a capital B. Finish it off with a most unadventurous cheese plate and call it a night.

                                                                                                  Most fulfilling? Caplansky's. And the Gallery Grill.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: escoffier

                                                                                                    I concur about the lack of atmosphere and mediocre food. Further, if you want to be known for your poutine, you should make decent fries. There is no point putting braised short ribs and foie gras on soggy, undercooked fries. And the service was terrible. I really wanted to try the canard au jarre, but it wasn't available. The waitress had to take our drink orders twice, she didn't tell us about the prix fixe or the specials, which I would have ordered had I known! They even made a mistake on the bill (undercharging, not overcharging, but still!).

                                                                                                    1. re: sway

                                                                                                      C5 from opening day has been a disappointment for me, the room (if i see another white chair in a dining room, lounge or restaurant makeover-i will walk out), the menu, the food, the execution of the food, the stiffness, the formality, the sense of self-importance....touristy, touristy, touristy

                                                                                                      1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                                                                        I quite enjoyed my dinner at c5, though nothing beyond the pork belly really stood out. I thought it was pretty competent though, and loved the view. I recently had brunch, and must say the food was absolutely excellent! The service was friendly and casual. My bacon pancakes were to die for...simple but so good!

                                                                                                  2. Worst recent experience: Big Momma's Boy on Parliament. A group of about eight of us went there for dinner and I'd heard good things about it. Wrong!
                                                                                                    First of all, we were seated in the totally deserted upstairs area, which was freezing cold. (We had to ask, after a few numbing minutes, for them to turn down the AC). They also cranked up the music noticeably after about 10 minutes, so loud we had to raise our voices to be heard.
                                                                                                    Cocktails before dinner were overpriced and nothing special at all.
                                                                                                    Our main courses of gluten-free pizza, mac-n-cheese, burgers and salads took well over an hour to arrive, so long that even the most patient of us were wondering what was taking so long. One of us made a point of asking before ordering whether a side salad and a side of mac-n-cheese ($5) would be enough for dinner. The waitress said it would be. We all started laughing when we saw the portion of macaroni. It was so small it looked like it was served in a dipping-sauce bowl! The side salads were nothing more than mixed greens from a bag plopped into soup bowls. I could make a better salad myself in three minutes, much less 90, and it wouldn't cost me $7.
                                                                                                    The mac-n-cheese ($15) had one flavour: salt. It was described as "creamy" but was extremely dry and bland. The few chunks of tomato in it were colourless and flavourless. I didn't try the pizza but I will say it looked better than the other food. The "burgers" were tiny and served on bread cut in wedges-- more sandwiches than burgers -- and served with a side of kettle chips, again probably pulled out of a bag and thrown on the plate. Not worth spending $13 on!
                                                                                                    The service wasn't terrible but it was definitely the most disappointing meal i've had in a very long time. And the servers should be honest about portion sizes so you don't leave with a growling stomach and have to stop for a decent meal afterward!

                                                                                                    1. Most dissapointing? The high end places like George - knife and fork placed the wrong way around and a waitress who was WAY too garrulous about HER preferences... and just the general negligance, and I can't remember what we ate - perhaps that's the wost thing after dropping $400+
                                                                                                      Note Bene .... the lobster salad is a crime - bllue chese and buttermilk dressing? Don't. And if I have waited so long for a glass of water that I have to steal some from my companion who was seated earlier I think that's ridiculous, especially given the big squad of "managers" who were roaming the room. If you are not a big shot, bring your own water!

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                                                                                                        Ya, as much as I love David Lee's dishes, I thought that lobster salad was off in its flavour combo too. It just didn't work for me.


                                                                                                        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                                                          What? No mention of the bitter olive oil? First place I've ever been tempted to BYO EVOO.

                                                                                                      2. 360 Revolving at the top of the CN Tower. I know, I know - it's not about the food, it's about the view. I could not believe, however, how this seems to be an excuse for getting away with poor food. My meal (the details of which I actually cannot recall, as it was so unremarkable) was very bland. A companion's fish and seafood was not fresh and quite overdone to a tough consistency. To top it off, a server accidentally spilled almost an entire pitcher of ice water all over me. Unfortunately I was wearing an all-white outfit. Yikes! It could have happened anywhere, of course, and it indeed was an accident, but it didn't help that the rest of the dining experience was so blah. I wasn't even comped my meal. Oh well. The view was great ;-)

                                                                                                        Another regrettable meal was Swatow, which I was eager to try after reading some good reviews on this site. A beef dish was laden with pink pickled ginger (the sushi garnish), which struck me as very odd, and did nothing to enhance the flavour of the dish. Worst of all, I could see one of the staff smoking in the kitchen! Never again will I return.

                                                                                                        1. In Toronto, Le Trou Normand wins hands down: a friend and I went for dinner during Winterlicious perhaps three years ago. We went in with fairly low expectations, and just decided to hit it up for the fun of it on a whim. The food was so terrible that we spent most of the night laughing at how inedible our meals were and how poorly prepared. Thank goodness the portions were small, so not a lot of food was destroyed in the process of decimating those dinners.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: vorpal

                                                                                                            Coppi - after years of loving it, the last we went it was so bad in terms of service and food, we thought we were in another restaurant. Can't beleive they still have a following.

                                                                                                            1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                              I recently went to Julie's Cuban and was really dissapointed. Had been there twice before and had some really tasty tapas style dishes. This time everything was bland and very so so. The plantain cups were dry and had no taste. The mango and avocado salad also had no taste. The Beef was underspiced and so/so. Even the mohitos were underwhelmng....not enough mint I think.

                                                                                                              On top of that - the service wasn't great. Kept having to go searching for our waiter.

                                                                                                              Won't be going back again.

                                                                                                          2. I went to Cantine for Summerlicious... It was so so so bad.. Let's do this chronologically. Ok so when we walked in, the ambiance was, err, dead. Or close to it. An older crowd hung out there, and by older, I mean the ones from the retirement living centre across the street. And their care-takers. Ok, not so bad so far... When the guy sat us, the tablecloth was very dirty. There were solidified food stains on the tablecloth! Very unprofessional, as well as absolutely disgusting. I asked to sit somewhere else. "Do you work in the restaurant industry?" someone asked me. As if I need to be an employee of the restaurant industry to realize that your tablecloth was disgusting.... The service seemed a bit cold. One guy (out of the three who waited on us) seemed like he hated his job. One was happy. The other just seemed irritated that I didn't want to sit at the table with the solidified food blotches on it. We did Summerlicious... I ordered mussels, which I had to send back to the kitchen because they weren't fresh. And by not fresh, I mean they tasted like the zoo. I've never eaten seafood so bad before. I don't know how they're allowed to serve that. Not only were they not fresh, but they were dried out. They were probably sitting around for a while, and then reheated all throughout Summerlicious or something, because I don't know how they could have something so not fresh! It was gross. They replaced it with chicken, which was pretty decent. What bothered me more is that they still served it to other customers! I saw one woman sit with it in front of her while her dining partner ate... She clearly wasn't going to eat them (but I guess didn't want to send it back to the kitchen). This was by far the worst restaurant I've visited in a long time. I don't know how something like this still exists in Toronto, especially in Yorkville! But I guess if there's a community there then that's what keeps it around. It's cheap, and as long as you don't order seafood and sit at a clean table I'm sure it's fine! The wine was the highlight of the meal. Can't really mess that one up. They let us sample wines before we committed, which was good of them.

                                                                                                            1. Another big disappointment was an unexpected sub-par dinner at Batifole. Overcooked calves liver in a plate of watery gravy and a super greasy pork stew smothered with cheese. One serving of the lattter has more calories and artery clogging grease than 10 of Nota Bene's bourdine noir!!

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                                As you well know, Charles, follow the chef not the restaurant. Many changes there, not all of which are reflected on ChefDb.com. If you liked it in the past, you should figure out when that was and find that chef!!!

                                                                                                              2. Astoria on The Danforth.
                                                                                                                Service was very slow and the place wasn't busy.
                                                                                                                I ordered a chicken souvlaki with the usual sides that come with it.
                                                                                                                The salad was unremarkable and tinges of brown on the lettuce.
                                                                                                                Souvlaki was well past it's prime, over cooked, almost withered on the skewer. I would normally send it back but as I mentioned above, we had waited a long while.
                                                                                                                I usually like the potatoes with the meal and I was surprised to see fries on my plate and no roasted potatoes. I was told they ran out of potatoes!!!!! You think this might have been told to me at ordering??
                                                                                                                Service was poor and was in my face when I complained, meal was poor and this was a place I used to like.
                                                                                                                Never again for Astoria, and if asked, I tell everyone.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Poorboy

                                                                                                                  I had a meal there a couple of weeks ago. The chicken was actually pretty good and the fried calamari was excellent. However, the sides were atrocious. I had watery rice and this one was exactly that.

                                                                                                                  If I had to go again, I'd just have the calamari.

                                                                                                                2. Not a restaurant restaurant, well, not a restaurant at all. BUT I was on a pie high before and everyone recommended Wanda's Pie in the Sky of course there were like five recommendations overall so it was not exactly helpful but overall, majority here said Wanda's had nice pies. And the pictures on their site was nice.

                                                                                                                  The pie was terrible. It was...lifeless, too sweet, yet the apples were not sweet at all...and the crust was bland and I think they used too much cornstarch or something cause the filling felt grainy. It also reminded me of cherries, there were no cherries in that pie.

                                                                                                                  Even my friend who likes to sugar-coat everything outrightly said "that place was not good."

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: AngelSanctuary

                                                                                                                    Have mercy. Here's the scene: shreiking two year old and starving family and bumper to bumper traffic on Steeles Ave West. The fatal mistake of turning off the traffic to eat at ...drum roll please... Gourmets of China.
                                                                                                                    At first I thought it must a bad candid camera joke that the food was that weird/bad or my tongue had a stroke.
                                                                                                                    It's a crime to make food that bad and cast a shadow of shame the entire world of Chinese eateries.
                                                                                                                    Surreal. It was like it was a Chinese restaurant that had cooks who had eaten at food courts and never had a clue what went into Manchu Wok's food but took a guess and cooked with one hand tied behind their back.

                                                                                                                    I am very sad for folks who had their first Chinese "food" experience here.
                                                                                                                    I should have known better.

                                                                                                                    Edit: Ok, check out the crazy ratings on Restaurantica. The most bizzare factor: is that the service staff are so nice and work very hard. Highly confusing.

                                                                                                                  2. I believe the following quote from Dante's "Devine Comedy" should be made to hang over the entrance to The Gallery Grill at Hart House, University of Toronto campus: " Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here."

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: Doctormhl1

                                                                                                                      Then you haven't eaten at Ryerson's Oakum House. We were there on Aug 22 for a wedding, and it was so bad that I doubt any of the 100 guests ate more than 20% of the main course. There were 3 choices, and 2 were completely inedible. I ordered a vegetarian dinner because I was told it was the most promising, but somehow they gave me the salmon. It must have been cooked for an extra 45 minutes, and it was very dry to the point that I had trouble eating it. The texture was similar to pork. By wife's vegetarian course consisted of a 1/4 acorn squash on a bed of couscous, with some vegetables in a tomato sause that tasted like they opened up a can of tomato paste an mixed it with those vegetables, on top. The squash was almost uncooked, maybe they cooked it for 30 seconds in a microwave. I hate to say that I'm not exaggerating, this was one extremely nasty dinner. I hope my friends who held this wedding don't see this. Whatever you do, don't ever book any event that involves food there. The catering was provided by Ryerson. Even the Hors d'œuvre were very poorly prepared.

                                                                                                                    2. Fat Belgian
                                                                                                                      Was there in the spring and decided not to order mussels like everyone else in my party. I though I would try a seasonal special - duck breast on a bead of risotto. The duck was over cooked with absolutely no pink to the meat and was served cold. The risotto was just plain bad.
                                                                                                                      Besides mussells they menu isn't very Belgian and the beer selection was sub par.

                                                                                                                      1. Terroni on Queen St. W
                                                                                                                        Pappardelle with shrimp, artichokes, and mint. The pasta was too thick, doughy, and pastey. I picked out the few shrimp and 'chokes leaving the pappardelle barely touched. $16 for a primi portion.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: suddenly susan

                                                                                                                          La Maquette

                                                                                                                          I knew this place was going to be old school but it was worse than I thought!

                                                                                                                          Food was OK, nothing special and very over priced. I ordered the lamb medium rare and it came out grey! Everything came with bland whipped potatoes. Wine list was pretty main stream. Service mediocre.

                                                                                                                          I'm not sure how this place wins award for the most romantic in the city!! Maybe I was missing something.

                                                                                                                        2. Without a doubt: Leslie Jones. Sweet little place with only 5 or so tables, I had been there for a private party and enjoyed it so agreed to meet a friend there. I got there first and I guess my superhero powers were turned on (Invisible Woman!) so no one offered me a drink. I had to get up and get someone's attention to get a drink. My friend showed up and we ordered appies - they were out. Fine - suggest what might be available. No, it was left up to me to guess. For main I ordered the daily special - beef medallions. When I tasted it I thought it had been boiled! My friend thought it might have been microwaved! I called the owner over to explain it to him quietly and suggested he take a bite to taste it. He walked out onto the patio and didn't come back in until we'd left. NEVER will I set foot in that place again.

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: lightlybattered

                                                                                                                            lol - never have been there but that is a halarious review. Sorry for your bad time

                                                                                                                          2. The David Duncan House. Mind you, not the WORST dining experience - I reserve that for Prairie Ink - but certainly the most disappointing.

                                                                                                                            It started when the DC told me he'd made reservations at "that house at the lights north of York Mills"; I thought he meant the Auberge du Pommier. Silly me. Alas, wrong house.

                                                                                                                            Pretty house; pretty uninspiring food. We started with an appetizer plate. My shrimp was not the freshest - it didn't smell bad but the flesh was not firm; in fact was going mushy (I should have complained but didn't). The steak was a tad overdone: I asked for rare and got med-rare. Not the end of the world. The meat was OK but hardly the "outstanding" that they use to describe the cut. Bland vegetables.

                                                                                                                            Given the raves I'd heard, I expected exceptional, though I would have been happy with very good. I guess my expectations were too high; I was sorely disappointed. It wasn't a terrible meal (barring that shrimp), but it was certainly a pricey meh evening. We should have gone to the other "house".

                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: ghoti

                                                                                                                              My company dinner was held there and the food took so long to arrive that my boss went into the kitchen to see what the hell was going on!

                                                                                                                              1. re: ghoti

                                                                                                                                I with you on the Duncan House. We went there for my SO's birthday last year as my birthday present to him. I wasn't expecting much being a vegetarian in a steak house, but what I got as the $23 "Vegetarian Feast" was ridiculous. 5 baby carrots boiled so long they disintigrated, 2 florets of broccoli, 2 of cauliflower, same texture as the carrots. Rice that couldn't be chewed for being under done. No sauce or seasoning of any sort. Not even butter. And when I said something about it, our server was very rude to me. He more or less told me I was lucky to have gotten anything at all. I know there's a lot of hate out there for vegetarians, but the vibe of "go eff yourself" was completely uncalled for. It took almost an hour for our entrees to come out after our apps.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ghoti

                                                                                                                                  It's a shame about Duncan House. Such a lovely historical building could potentially become a destination dining spot if the food and service were up to snuff. What a waste.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JamieK

                                                                                                                                    Had the worst dining experience in many years this evening at Duncan House. I went there for a special occasion. Ordered the Caesar Salad for two to start and was very impressed with the fact they make it with fresh ingredients table-side. Flavourful and crisp, as a Caesar should be. We wanted to order the Prime Roast ( at 7PM) and they were sold out. We selected the Chateau Briand and devoured our salad and the olives, garlic bread and pickles that are served before the meal.
                                                                                                                                    The waiter arrived with the mains in a reasonable amount of time and started heating the vegetables over flame on the cart while he cut the meat. My SO does not like bloody meat so we agreed on Medium Well (because with a piece of meat this thick, you will likely get it medium) when we ordered. Sadly, when the server started cutting into the meat, he exclaimed, "oh, you are not going to like this" I looked at the meat and it was raw inside, not rare, but raw. He told us: "I can fix this" and he moved the vegetables to our plates while he attempted to cook the meat piece by piece over the flame on his cart. He did this in the vegetable tray that was used and it had water in the tray and turned the meat a nice gray colour. He said he could send it back and have char broiled but that would make it tough. No way at about $90.00 was I going to settle for a piece of meat cooked over a chafing dish. I told him to take it back, I wanted a new piece of meat. He argued with me and said this would be fine, not to worry. My SO said no way were we going to settle for less, given the cost. He still insisted finishing it over the chafing dish would be fine. At that point I told him to take it away, bring me my cheque. The Manager came over soon thereafter and presented me with the bill for what we had consumed. He then argued with us that you can not serve the meat beyond anything but rare. Not entirely true as I have had other restaurants prepare it perfectly. So why take my order then for a piece of meat cooked to order? As we were walking out, he again , rather than leave it alone, said to my SO that it was our fault for ordering that way, again wanting to argue the point. My SO was so angry that I had to ask her to just ignore this buffoon and let's go. Never will I recommend this place to anyone that asks.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Poorboy

                                                                                                                                      You can't eat Chateau Briand medium well.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: haggisdragon

                                                                                                                                        As you will note, we asked for it one way with an expectation of it being served other than raw. I would accept rare or even medium rare, actually my preference but alas, trying to keep the SO happy. But what I got was raw by anyone's standards, even the waiters as he exclaimed, "you aren't going to like this".

                                                                                                                                2. Osteria Ciceri e Tria. No wait. I expected it to be overpriced and mediocre. It didn't disappoint.

                                                                                                                                  1. Nothing even comes close to my dinner at Splendido. Actually, I could have gotten better food at 1/10 the price at Jack Astor's.

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: evansl

                                                                                                                                      Sorry about your experience at the "old" Splendido. You should give them another chance as they are now under new ownership and have a new menu.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: T Long

                                                                                                                                        My most recent disappointment was at Il Fornaro -- I hadn't been there before and I'm about to take a bite of the thin crust pizza when the waiter sprays the table beside us with ammonia cleaner. The smell was so strong that's all I could taste for the rest of the meal.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: kali3

                                                                                                                                          OMG. I hate when that happens! Or when they seat you near the bathroom and you are overpowered by the stench of the urinal cake.

                                                                                                                                    2. Giovanna Trattoria on College street. The manager was yelling at his staff the entire time. I don't speak Italian but the gist of the barking was "see those five over there? Make sure you never talk to them" and they followed it to a T.

                                                                                                                                      Worst experience ever.

                                                                                                                                      1. I'll second the motion on Langdon Hall as being a lunchbag letdown. I used to work in the region and would often entertain clients there. Nice room and grounds , but food was not up to snuff for the price and the "reputation." Definitely not destination worthy, or worth the tank of gas to drive there and back...

                                                                                                                                        That said, most disappointing experience was Boris Bistro. Hands-down.

                                                                                                                                        1. Too bad - the food was okay.

                                                                                                                                          But right in them middle of the meal, theye shutthe lights off, evidently inresponse to a request by a nearby film crew. Not dim - off, leaving us to struggle with our dinnners by touch.

                                                                                                                                          I wrote to the manager the enxt day, expecting at least an apology. No response - nothig. Never again!

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pincus

                                                                                                                                              I'm so glad someone mentioned LE TROU NORMAND in Yorkville. It was a horrible experience. I went there with 4 of my coworkers for lunch.

                                                                                                                                              1st : THE WAIT. We waited about 35 minutes before we got our food, and we had to tell them we were in a rush because I think it would have taken an hour otherwise. When you have approximately 1hour for lunch, you can't wait that long for your meal! They should know that

                                                                                                                                              2nd : THE FOOD. Nobody was happy with their meals. I got the Salade Nicoise - big disappointement. All I could taste was cheap sardines, and the eggs didn't look fresh. Others got mussels, and pasta and were very disappointed too.

                                                                                                                                              Avoid that place!

                                                                                                                                              Another place to avoid is Bella Vista Trattoria on College. It is honestly the WORST PIZZA I have ever had in my entire life. We ordered the Bella Vista pizza, their signature one. It was so dry and ABSOLUTELY TASTELESS. We still talk about it 2 months later. It realy was that bad. Oh and the ceasar salad was very boring too.

                                                                                                                                              Now here are some places I enjoy (all completely different). Im never dsappointed when I go there!
                                                                                                                                              -Djerba la douce
                                                                                                                                              -Island Foods

                                                                                                                                            2. re: ekammin

                                                                                                                                              How could you read your check? You should have just left. Lights out-- gone home!

                                                                                                                                            3. bad reccomendations I've gotten from CH include the blue chip truck at city hall, Dante's italian, magoo's hamburgers, shawarma max on yonge, and south st. burger

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: duckdown

                                                                                                                                                Without a doubt - Celestine. Unbelievably bad. Urgggh, 186 bucks down the toilet. Am I bitter? Oh yeah!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                                                  What on earth happened to Celestin? I was there back in the Summer and had an appetizer that consisted of braised artichoke hearts, hardboiled egg and tomato. Nothing was really seasoned. It was extremely bland. In fairness though, the steak frites was very good. Overall impression was that Celestin was not the special experience I was anticipating.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: toboggan3

                                                                                                                                                    It has been sold and pascal is no longer there

                                                                                                                                              2. I've got two here...one for dinner and one for dessert. For dinner, the worst experience I've had was at The David Duncan House. The food was underwhelming and overrpriced, the waiter screwed up my order twice, and when my sister ordered a cocktail, the pineapple slice that came with it was COVERED IN BLUE MOLD! When we showed it to our waiter, he removed the slice and actually offered it back to her! We were thoroughly disgusted!

                                                                                                                                                For dessert, the worst place is hands down Wanda's Pie in the Sky. Though the cakes are good, the pies aren't, and the service is atrocious! The staff members roll their eyes when you take too long to order, appear frustrated when you ask them questions, can't take an ounce of criticism or responsibility for their mistakes, and try their hardest to rush you out the door (or off the phone if you try to call in an order). This is one place where even the best of their foods is ruined by horrible service.

                                                                                                                                                1. Most disappointing meal for the price/all round experience: C5

                                                                                                                                                  Myself, Mr. Vuitton and another couple for a Saturday night dinner (this was about 6 months ago and my memory is poor as to what dishes we each had). We all agreed that the food had no taste, it was totally bland and not memorable. Our server had no clue when asked about menu items and generally had no clue at all. Service was i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y sloooooooow. The room (atmosphere is important in my dining experience) was as bland as the food. Far overpriced for the experience. Have not been back, no intention of ever going back.

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: CocoaChanel

                                                                                                                                                    My vote goes to Pangea. Very expensive mediocre food. I don't mind shelling out for meal, but I expect to walk away thoroughly satisfied.

                                                                                                                                                    Not to mention the tip jar on the hostess table is extremely tacky (I assume it was for retrieving our coats). We've never seen this in a supposed high end restaurant before.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Mine was O Noir.
                                                                                                                                                    I really want to have liked this place, and really like the concept, but the overall experience was spooky and uncomfortable. The food incidentally was very good. Being in a pitch black room with no lights and just hearing voices around you doesn't quite help with your appetite.

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pdames

                                                                                                                                                      This is my most disappointing take out experience. Issimi on Avenue Rd. I ready wanted to like this place since it was there such a long time and I find most sushi joints around the area very average. It took 75 mins for the delivery to arrive and I live two blocks south. The sushi seemed pre made, nori paper was very soggy, rice cake on the sushi pizza was cold and soft and on top of it all was very expensive for the portions I'm use to.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gogomiser

                                                                                                                                                        I stepped in once, when Issimi first opened several years ago. After scanning the menu, I opted to go elsewhere, declaring the prices too high for what I saw the chefs preparing and sending out to tables. It sounds like nothing has changed.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Lucien hands down. Entree was completely oversalted and the service was so condescending and rude, I couldn't even send back the dish. Worst experience ever in Toronto.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: freelancer

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the review- I was just going to book a table for a birthday dinner there. Do you think it was a one off with the server with the condescending service or is that the culture?

                                                                                                                                                      2. Foxley

                                                                                                                                                        Duck & Prosciutto Dumplings - OK, but just Ok.
                                                                                                                                                        Sea Bream Ceviche - bitter, not fresh tasting at all. I've made better at home... and that's not saying a whole lot
                                                                                                                                                        Lemongrass Cornish Hen - just terrible. the lemongrass flavour was overwhelming and poorly incorporated. fusion at its worst.
                                                                                                                                                        Beef Rib Stew w/ Taro fries - beef was tender and well cooked, but stew was bland and taro fries very dry

                                                                                                                                                        On the plus side the service was excellent, friendly and efficient. The room had a nice atmosphere. The food was also mostly well cooked and well presented, but the flavour was just not on in any of the dishes. It ranged from bland to just plain terrible, with the disappointment compounded by small portions/wild overpricing.

                                                                                                                                                        I could see how it could be good, but based on what we had I won't be returning. Maybe there are some other good dishes there, but at $12-15 per tapa there should have been something good in those 4 dishes.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Last night, the Indian place beside Sambuca on Baldwin. We ALWAYS go to Sambuca, always get the same thing, and always love it. For some reason last night my partner had a hankering for Indian, and place next door had Indian buffet for 12.95. "How bad can it be?", I said. Well, it was BAAAAAD. Worst Indian I've had in the city, hands down. Dal tasted like canned beans, lamb was all gristle, bones and fat, butter chicken was tasteless red sauce with tandoori chicken. Holy moly, never again. It was embarassing. We'll stick with Udupi Palace. Or just keep going to Sambuca.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Sassafraz- the food was horrible. Appetizer of watermelon cubes came exactly as is with a few slivers of mint. Pork tenderloin was overcooked , no sauce or flavour with 2 baby bok choys with again---no seasoning. Dessert was Strawberry Shortcake- what came to the table was a dried scone that you could use as a hockey puck with a dollop of not fresh whipped cream and roughly 3 strawberries.

                                                                                                                                                            Service wasn't bad with the exception of a busboy with a full tray of dishes crashing with another server on the way in to the kitchen which left greasy floors on the way to the restrooms. Ditto for the table next to ours- the waiter knocked over a glass of red wine on the seated lady. Manager dealt with it quickly & effeciently. All in all, don't go for the food cause it's bad...go there to watch people pretending to enjoy the food just not to be rude!

                                                                                                                                                            100 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M5R1A6, CA

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fooddiva7

                                                                                                                                                              This couldn't possibly rank as your most disappointing dining experience as that's ex-ACT-ly what people expect from Sassafraz.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Not that I had high expectations to begin with, but a quick meal at La Hacienda the other day vaulted it to the forefront of my bad eating experiences in this city.
                                                                                                                                                              This place has been around for a long time. Maybe we should have known better. I don't know. It didn't seem like a huge risk, but it was TERRIBLE. Like, laughably bad.
                                                                                                                                                              My enchilada was tiny, and had no flavour whatsoever. It came with a salad consisting of rotten spring mix and brown romaine. GF had a hot burrito that contained mostly dry, mushed-up plain canned black beans, as well as LETTUCE. Also had the rotten salad.
                                                                                                                                                              Our server was a weird rat of a person, and managed to be both intrusively awkward and non-existent when we needed another beer or the cheque. He didn't ask how the food was, which was either smart, or a product of his incompetence.
                                                                                                                                                              I didn't feel like I was asking for the moon, but it was a BIG mistake of a meal.

                                                                                                                                                              La Hacienda
                                                                                                                                                              640 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J1E4, CA

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Thatcher

                                                                                                                                                                  cool story. Thanks for the information.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Skylon Tower in Niagara Falls. Worst buffet ever at a high cost. Seriously BAD food with a great location/view and rotating dining room.

                                                                                                                                                                  Skylon Tower
                                                                                                                                                                  5200 Robinson St, Niagara Falls, ON L2G2A2, CA

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: danionavenue

                                                                                                                                                                    what made this the worst buffet ever? i am curious as i don't think i have had a great buffet ever...

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: danionavenue

                                                                                                                                                                      What did you expect? I doubt people go there for the food.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. My worst recent experience was based on expectations more than what was delivered. Arriving with reservations at the NEW Lee Restaurant that took Susur months and months to renovate, only to be handed the same old menu in a bigger room was such an enormous let down! It happened to be that we had a very exciting celebration that coincided with the "opening" so we really felt lucky with the timing. We ended up eating the same plates for the 20th time. Love love the food there but we should have walked out and gone across the street where the food is awesome and the menu changes (Buca).

                                                                                                                                                                      I understand the fickle economy but Susur really copped out from the original plan (3rd reincarnation) for that space and forgot to tell people!

                                                                                                                                                                      601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: justsayn

                                                                                                                                                                        The Lounge menus is almost completely new. Why didn't you order from that?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: iMarilyn

                                                                                                                                                                          They wouldn't allow us to order off that new menu unless we sat in the small lounge area on the couches, at the bar, or that group table. This little lounge may be just what King West needed, but it was not what Susur had originally set out to do with the new space, nor is it what much of the media made it out to be when it opened. That 's why it was a disappointment to us. In fact, at one point Susur had said it was time to bring back the tasting menu. Again, business is business and he may have acted perfectly with that in mind, but unfortunately his PR didn't update the city.

                                                                                                                                                                          601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Memphis Style Smoke House. How can anybody screw up BBQ that badly? This wasn't just "mediocre", this was "epic fail". And yes, chain BBQ beats them hands down.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TexSquared

                                                                                                                                                                          Frank's Kichen. It wasn't aggressively bad, but in no way did it live up to the glowing reviews.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. First (and last) time to Centro.

                                                                                                                                                                          Was given a small Centro gift certificate from a colleague as a thank you. Upon arrival, it was presented and immediately rejected because of a "change in ownership". Continuing, we paroosed the menu and it (along with the food) was disappointingly ordinary; ordered a wine which wasn't available; had to intervene with the chef because he was yelling obscenities at his staff to the point where I entered the server area and pointed out that he had company. Perky Maitre d' came over at the end of our experience and had the nerve to ask how everything was.

                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                                                                                                            Which version of Centro was that?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Snarf

                                                                                                                                                                              It was late 90s. Caucasian chef.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                                                                                                                I asked because people might read this thread as addressing restaurants as they are now. The late 90's for Centro was a couple of owners and chefs ago (I think Marc Thuet was there until '97). I haven't been there under the current regime, and was curious. Thanks for the clarification.

                                                                                                                                                                                609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                2472 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4P 2F5, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Snarf

                                                                                                                                                                                  Gee, and their main complaint was that chef was yelling obscenities at the staff?!?!? Qu'elle surprise!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. The Black Camel. The food is just okay and I would probably have gone back, but the attitude I got from the guy at the counter is just not worth it. I almost felt like apologizing to him for not owning a Rosedale mansion like his regulars. :-I

                                                                                                                                                                            Biggest surprise was the Boulevard Cafe, Tati and Harbord House (curious that they are close to each other). The food at each was mazing considering the price, service and ambience.

                                                                                                                                                                            Black Camel
                                                                                                                                                                            4 Crescent Rd, Toronto, ON M4W1S9, CA

                                                                                                                                                                            Harbord House
                                                                                                                                                                            150 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1H2, CA

                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: meatnveg

                                                                                                                                                                              I didn't get attitude, but I also found the Black Camel pretty average. I know the star is their pulled pork, but I got the chicken and found it pretty flavourless.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pincus

                                                                                                                                                                                I actually prefer the brisket sandwich with caramelized onions and horseradish at the Black Camel. I've never found the pulled pork all that special.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: meatnveg

                                                                                                                                                                                Re: Black Camel - Wow, I have to say this really surprises me, but I suppose it's because I'm usually there when the small, blond woman is taking orders, sometimes a younger guy. She's extremely friendly, never had a problem, and he's also decent. Not sure who you're referring to, but can't wait to meet him!
                                                                                                                                                                                As for the sandwiches, I always get chicken with pesto mayo, caramelized onions and roasted tomatoes, it's pretty tasty. Brisket is great too, it's just a lot of red meat for me.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. Scarpetta at the Thompson. Everything I hoped it wouldn't be: cold room, average service, tiny portions, decent food, exorbitant pricing.

                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nextstop

                                                                                                                                                                                  Was just there - found a bone in my entree. Mentioned it to the server but they didn't bother correcting it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: freelancer

                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, we stayed at the Thompson in January and ordered room service from the diner style place downstairs that is supposed to be good - my burger was dry and tough and the bun was kind of stale. Really disappointing.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                                                                                                                                                                                      I stayed at the Thompson last December. Room service Montreal smoked meat poutine was appallingly bad. The fries were floppy, the meat was nothing, other than oversalted and the gravy just upped the sodium content even more.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Eigensinn Farm!!
                                                                                                                                                                                  2.5 hours drive for some ho-hum food. Way, way, way overprice! In fact the meal costs more than every single Michelin 3* meals I had on earth including El Bulli, Per Se, French Laundry, Alinea not to mention those in France, Europe, the Orient and Japan! The meal was so mediocre, I cannot remember a single 'wow' dishes. However, I did recall being served a sweet pea and home cured ham hock soup and roasted suckling piglet that tasted so 'bleh'!! Organic/home grown.....fresh products is not an excuse for the skyhigh price since a restaurant like Sooke Harbour on Vancouver Island also has its own garden and farm, harvested seafood down the road and presented gorgeously delicious food but at less than one third of he price!!

                                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dubchild

                                                                                                                                                                                    Just out of curiosity, what special dishes did chef Statlander served you that made your meal the 'best ever'?! If they charged my meal around $150, I can swallow it. But when David Lee's Splendido 8/9 course tasting menu, consisting of wild prawns from the Gulf, wild 'golden' mussels from the west coast, Truffles from Alba and Wagyu beef, was only $130. Then, I have an issue with what Eigensinn is charging. In fact, as an ' organic/farm raised' ingredients only' meal, its not unlike the ones served at Michelin star Chez Panisse in Berkeley or BlueHill in NYC. In both places, one can have a great, great meal for less than $150 per person!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                                                                                                      Two points were brought up in your post, the first that you didn’t like the food and second that you thought it was not good value and you were over-charged.

                                                                                                                                                                                      That you didn’t like the food was expressed by the meal being mediocre, no wow dishes, and a dish tasted so ‘bleh’. These remarks don’t actually say anything critical about the meal; they only serve to repeat that you didn’t like it. I could just as easily claim the food was excellent, several dishes wowed and it was yummy. At this point you have your claim and I have mine and we reach a bit of a stalemate. It seems to me criticisms about the food need to go a little deeper than it wasn’t good, or it was yucky.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The second point is about value. Given that you state: “if they charged $150, I could swallow it”, it seems price is the main point of contention. You also give the example that David Lee used high-end ingredients such as truffles and wagyu beef and that this justified the cost of his tasting menu. When I ate at Per Se last year the price of my tasting menu was $275 (I could be off by $10), the vegetarian tasting menu, my girlfriend enjoyed, was also this price. This is, I believe, the same price Stadtlander is currently charging for his tasting menu. At Per Se I don’t recall any ingredients that justified the prices. If you are looking for value in this sense, you may find that not just high-end restaurant but also many luxury goods don’t deliver. Stadtlander gets away with charging those prices because the market will bare it. My understanding is he still has people lining up ready to pay those prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think the problem is some people don’t ‘get’ Stadtlander. If you go to his restaurant with expectations of getting value in the rather shallow sense you suggest, I’m sure you are going to be disappointed. The two meals I have had at Eigensinn farm are placed as the best I have had because his cooking, and really everything he does, was not just excellent but also communicates a deeper philosophy. The disappointment about eating at Per Se is that the food didn’t communicate anything. It was for the most part very well executed, with some minor flaws, but it didn’t seem to be about anything other than cooking things properly. Keller takes great pains in sourcing the best ingredients, and most were American, but the lobster was Canadian. I had the sense that if he felt Scottish salmon was better, then it would end up on his menu. Keller also cooks sous-vide and has written a book about it, which suggests his interest is delivering the best possible product, but also disregards any potential health or environmental consequences. Stadtlander’s cooking is deeply tied to expressing a sense of place and a commitment to living with the environment in a more harmonious way.

                                                                                                                                                                                      About ten years ago, before I had eaten at Stadtlander’s, I asked a chef friend what he thought about his food. His thought was that Stadtlander was washed up and a thing of past. This chef was more interested in using unique ingredients, challenging people, and his view was that Susur represented what was the best. Maybe it is too soon the draw conclusions, but it seems that every year Susur’s rep diminishes and Stadtlander’s grows. Not that Stadtlander was the sole originator of doing the local and organic thing, but it seems every chef now aspires to what he does.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don’t know if Stadtlander thinks about the prices he charges as being fair or justified. But this has allowed him to become the embodiment of what many chefs aspire to. He is out there on the land, having control over his ingredients by growing them himself, freed from the pressures of customer demands, dealing with suppliers, and all the other bullshit that goes along with being a city chef. We benefit from his freedom by having a great restaurant which expresses something uniquely Canadian, by the art/food installations he creates, and by his environmental activism/ promotion of local foods.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Obviously the experience didn’t work for you, but it does work for many people. He is dreaming the dream. When he goes across Canada on his magic cooking bus, top chefs like Vij and Tojo are eager to take part in it. When he organizes an event on his farm, the top chefs in this city participate. And when he organizes an event like Foodstock, hundreds of people line up to participate, volunteer, and cook. Because they all want a piece of that dream.

                                                                                                                                                                                      601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dubchild

                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you dubchild for taking the time in responding in such a detailed and diplomatic manner! Reading your post helped to make me realize how special and unique we humans are!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                            Its so interesting that two hounds like ourselves, both happened to find Per Se's food underwhelming and dissappointing, somehow have such diversify views on the deliciousness of Statlander's food?!! Same can be said about Susur's food?! Some people absolutely adore them whilst some found it over-rated.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Lastly, just a comment abouit Vij's Indian food and Tojo's Japanese cuisine. Happened I've easten in both places. True, they are both top chefs in Canada in their own right. However, based on the time I spend living in the UK and savouring Indian food there, Vij's food is not that good by top UK standard. The same can be said of Tojo's food when compared to those I've eaten in Japan. Guess our palette are all spoiled by the easy access of great food worldwide these days! Hop on a plane in the morning and in the evening one can have Michelin 3* food in San Sebastian, for example!!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                                                                                                              I am not sure there is anything in Toronto or Ontario that isn't bettered in some other corner of the world for any particular person. I would never be happy in my life if I needed everything in [my] Toronto to rise to the challenge, to be better than it is at some far off place. I much prefer to walk to Buca or Scarpetta (for some dishes) or Toritos than fly to X.

                                                                                                                                                                                              604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: justsayn

                                                                                                                                                                                                Buca, yes! But Scarpetta?! My dining experience thetre was another forgettable one! Small portion, salty food and overpriced! May be there are some great dishes there that I have not tried?!
                                                                                                                                                                                                BTW, IMHO, there's no restaurant I know on earth that can prepare a giant 11 pounds lobster 4 ways better than our O'Mei!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                                                                                                                                I just got in. A very gracious answer.