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Thuet - Bite Me - Review

d
DUH CAR Jan 25, 2009 09:10 AM

Two couples went recently and we thought we would try their $49 tasting or "social" menu. What a disappointment. I don't think we'll ever ever go back to any of his places.

First of all, although the meal is $49, the cocktails are $16 and $17, and the wines are all marked up 250%. Nothing under $55. The waiter asked us if we wanted wine and we asked what was being served that night on the social menu.. He didn't know. What ever happened to the pre-meal briefing?

He went away and we then saw him over talking to the bartender. He came back with two recommendations and we chose an $85 Portuguese red. Yikes.

Appetizer was head cheese salad. Main was pork tenderloin with polenta. Next was a single cheese plate for the four of us. I managed to get two liitle bites of cheese as the quantity (especially) for 4 was tiny. I've had larger single serving cheese plates in France than this one. Dessert was aa rice pudding with a tiny ball of ice cream.

In this economy, you would think a restauranteur would be trying to please customers. Obviously not and I guess that the empty tables on a Friday night were the evidence.

Never again. Thuet -- you blew it!

  1. t
    The Macallan 18 Jan 25, 2009 09:28 AM

    Agreed...I also experienced quite the lack-lustre dinner there 2 months ago. I will definately not return. I still can't get over the amateurish behaviour and service by the owner/manager and bartender that evening. I believe the fact that they felt the need to re-brand / re-launch their restaraunt 3 times within 3 years has hurt Thuet's credibility. Also, if I recall correctly, very poor wine list with incredible mark-ups.

    1. r
      Raquel Jan 25, 2009 11:35 AM

      You can third me on this one.

      I recently gave Thuet another chance since I was a fan of his cooking, but enough is enough. It's been twice now that I've had not up to par experiences and really, there's just too many choices out there to keep going back, "hoping" that it'll be better next time. After after the PR, and after all the parties, you have to be able to deliver. I'm not sure that they're really in this for the "love of food" or "love of hospitality".

      People like Albino Silva at Chiado, and Didier Leroy of Didier's - those are the people that understand the entire package.

      Fortunately for us, we have the choice of saying "never again". And, thanks to global travel these days, the bar has been raised quite high. And we should expect as such from our Toronto restaurateurs.

      1. Charles Yu Jan 25, 2009 02:27 PM

        Never a fan of Thuet and his 'screaming' wife! Overpriced and over-rated!

        1. Royaljelly Jan 25, 2009 09:17 PM

          Boy, all this time and I just thought it was only our table who felt ripped off by a lacklustre meal there.

          1. s
            stonedtoronto Jan 25, 2009 10:30 PM

            Wow, Bite Me was a restaurant I wanted to try this year, but apparently it's not worth trying. Well, I definately appreciate the money saved....better to spend it at another meal at Scaramouche

            2 Replies
            1. re: stonedtoronto
              m
              millygirl Jan 26, 2009 03:05 AM

              Agreed! Even his little food shop in Rosedale is not worth the trip. I walked in, and out in less that 5 minutes. Very uninspiring.

              1. re: millygirl
                AzulH Jan 26, 2009 05:00 AM

                How amusing, I did exactly the same with the Rosdale shop a couple a couple of days ago. I took a plain croissant with me and it was average.

            2. c
              childofthestorm Jan 26, 2009 07:22 AM

              Heh, I stopped at Atelier Thuet on Friday night to pick up takeout duck confit, I had a craving. They wanted $18 for one leg.

              2 Replies
              1. re: childofthestorm
                Charles Yu Jan 26, 2009 07:24 PM

                Wow!! $18 for one leg?! Even Paris Fouchon charges less! Such greed! Wait till the real recession hits town!!

                1. re: childofthestorm
                  justpete Jan 26, 2009 07:41 PM

                  I went there (Atelier Thuet) for brunch last weekend. The service was a complete and total abomination.. . The food was passable, and I actually witnessed them marrying milk and creamers from other tables to serve to unsuspecting customers. Ridiculous.

                2. syoung Jan 26, 2009 06:59 PM

                  Wow, poor service extreme markups on wines and uninspired overpriced food. This is deja vu all over again. Bite Me! was on my to try list as I figure that maybe, just maybe, they would finally learn from the past and get it right the 3rd time.

                  I remember many years ago on another food board when Bianca signed on and told us how wrong we were with our negative reviews of original Thuet Restaurant. She was completely inflexible and insisted she was right and we were wrong. Based on hearing the reviews here, it looks like she and Thuet are same old, same old.

                  Thanks for the review. I think I'll take a pass this time and likely for good.

                  1. BokChoi Jan 26, 2009 08:34 PM

                    Went to Thuet a couple of years back and was offended by the portion sizes and prices they charged. Decided I would never return to Thuet. Service did not stand out, and all I remember is a foie gras appetizer the size of my thumb being served on a platter that just made the foie even more diminutive in size. Not surprised to hear the negative reviews about his newest reinvention. Thanks for the review - saved me some time and money.

                    16 Replies
                    1. re: BokChoi
                      t
                      tjr Jan 26, 2009 09:55 PM

                      Thuet joints have always been a sort of blasphemy to French food. Could he survive in France? I seriously doubt it. I've never found his food to be exceptional, and there are plenty of places I'd rather spend my money without undeserved pretension and ridiculous pricing for things undeserving. I haven't had an experience at any Thuet purveyor worthy of the money spent, though there are plenty of other restaurants that I could spend money in and be satisfied.

                      1. re: tjr
                        BokChoi Jan 26, 2009 10:14 PM

                        tjr, I have heard great things about his breads - I really need to try them again I think. I remember not being too impressed during my dinner experience a couple of years back. I guess the portions and steep prices left a foul taste in my mouth that the bread could not offset. What are your thoughts?

                        1. re: BokChoi
                          t
                          tjr Jan 26, 2009 10:23 PM

                          I can't eat them, unfortunately, so I have no opinions of the breads.

                          1. re: tjr
                            BokChoi Jan 26, 2009 10:26 PM

                            Ahh thanks anyway for the response on that. Sorry to hear about that.

                          2. re: BokChoi
                            c
                            CoffeeAddict416 Jan 27, 2009 06:52 AM

                            he uses red fife flour that I *THINK* he grows with Jamie Kennedy. I have to double check that. It's a vague memory from reading toronto life.

                            At any rate I think his pastries are okay. He uses yeast smuggled in from France. I think Celestin has him beat all over the place though. But L'Atlelier Thuet's croissants are definetely above average over say loblaws or metro. That's not that hard to do though!

                            1. re: CoffeeAddict416
                              jayt90 Jan 27, 2009 07:22 AM

                              Thuet publicized his bread by claiming that he smuggled a sourdough starter from the family restaurant in Alsace. And he discovered hard wheat flour from Arva Flourmills, near London, Ont., as good as King Arthur. I haven't heard about the Kennedy connection, but JK gets red fife from a small farm near Peterborough.

                              1. re: jayt90
                                c
                                CoffeeAddict416 Jan 27, 2009 08:32 AM

                                this info is correct. I was just combining the two stories into one.

                                Kennedy is the one who is (or was supposed to) grow a field of his own red fife on his farm. Thuet has not connection to Kennedy on the flour or bread tip.

                                1. re: jayt90
                                  BokChoi Jan 27, 2009 12:21 PM

                                  Was it worth the trouble? Wow, good for him for sourcing such ingredients. Impressive.

                                2. re: CoffeeAddict416
                                  BokChoi Jan 27, 2009 12:20 PM

                                  Interesting. I have heard so many rave reviews over the years and seriously thought I was missing out. I once saw a few stocked at Pusateri's or another fine food purveyor, but they looked a bit stale so I didn't try them. The ones served in the resto itself was nothing too memorable. I love Celestin's chocolate flourless cake.

                                  1. re: CoffeeAddict416
                                    estufarian Jan 28, 2009 04:39 AM

                                    Until recently I rated Thuets bread as the best in T.O. (most of his stuff I don't like, but the bread made me a believer).
                                    But I recently had some at Black Hoof and was really disappointed.
                                    I read somewhere that imported yeasts gradually acquire the local characteristics (this was in an article on why San Francisco Sourdough can't be successfully replicated in Toronto). So even if he had a great 'starter' it may need refreshing after a while. Logically that appeals to me, as yeasts do vary from place-to-place and over time, but I can't support this with any scientific evidence.

                                    1. re: estufarian
                                      BokChoi Jan 28, 2009 07:31 AM

                                      That is sad to hear. It is difficult to find a nice bread in town. Recently, I have only had standout bread twice - once in the farmer's market at City Hall during the summer on Wednesdays (St. John's Bakery), and the second was from JK's Gilead Cafe - his red fiffe bread.

                                      St. John's Olive Bread: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/2929947891/
                                      JK's Gilead Cafe: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                              2. re: BokChoi
                                a
                                Apprentice Jan 27, 2009 06:24 AM

                                Are talking about the foie gras creme brule appetizer? IMO that is one of his best dishes and most creative dishes. The only complaint I had at the time was that the dish was so rich he have should reduced the portion size!

                                The rest of the meal was nothing too memorable.

                                1. re: Apprentice
                                  estufarian Jan 27, 2009 07:41 AM

                                  And the foie gras brulee appetizer is a straight lift from Jean-Georges in New York - been on the menu there for at least 5 years.

                                  1. re: estufarian
                                    a
                                    Apprentice Jan 27, 2009 08:10 AM

                                    LOL...lovely, thanks for ruining that!!!

                                    Out of curiousity have you tried both versions?

                                    1. re: Apprentice
                                      estufarian Jan 28, 2009 04:31 AM

                                      Haven't tried Thuet's. Only went once (soon after he opened).
                                      Never returned!
                                      I like that review
                                      "Went once. Never returned!" Short and accurate. And damning.

                                      Incidentally the Jean-Georges version does change slightly. One time he included black peppercorns in the brulee layer which popped with the heat to give a great burst of pepper (and an extra dimension).

                                  2. re: Apprentice
                                    BokChoi Jan 27, 2009 12:18 PM

                                    Unfortunately I did not get to sample that. I had the seared foie he had on the menu a couple of years back. Haven't returned since to try anything new. It was literally the size of my thumb. I used to be into seared foie, not anymore. Foie Gras creme brulee is amazing. I recently had a friend create one and it was everything I could ever want from a foie. I am sure it made the seared foie green with envy.
                                    Foie Gras Creme Brulee: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/3230210682/
                                    Molten Interior: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                2. h
                                  herbs go karts Jan 27, 2009 10:27 AM

                                  Have eaten various Thuet cooked dinners over the years. Never been thoroughly disappointed, but never been thoroughly impressed. Same experience for Atelier Thuet and Bite Me!

                                  Problem is generic to Toronto "fine" dining, at the prices you're paying you just expect (and deserve) a lot more.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: herbs go karts
                                    justpete Jan 27, 2009 11:16 AM

                                    Disagree. Thuet and it's other restaurants are seemingly especially poor in this respect.

                                  2. s
                                    Sadistick Jan 27, 2009 11:54 AM

                                    I, nor anyone I know has ever had anything good to say about Thuet, quite the opposite in fact.

                                    I cant stand his personality, let alone his cheap small portions of most of his dishes.

                                    Do not want.

                                    1. b
                                      bamboocanuck Jan 31, 2009 06:36 PM

                                      My wife and I had been looking forward to visiting the first restaurant on our Winterlicious list tonight, Thuet's Bite Me Restaurant. Well, the restaurant is aptly named, given the fact that we never got our table even after making reservations for the 8:30 p.m. sitting about three weeks ago. After finding parking in the busy entertainment district, and then reaching the restaurant, we were told the staff was still seating a crowd who had 7:30 p.m. reservations AND that the wait would likely be half an hour to an hour!!!
                                      A party of four ahead of us took that as their cue to leave, grumbling that Thuet had lost their business for good. I'd like to give them another try, especially since he seems to be getting half-decent reviews in the Globe and Mail (perhaps, they treat critics better than regular patrons ...). However, I'm going to give it a few weeks before I try going back.
                                      It looks like Thuet has overbooked for the duration of Winterlicious and if they can't even get their act together on seatings, then there's little hope for table service and maybe even the food.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: bamboocanuck
                                        p
                                        p_000262090 Feb 2, 2009 07:15 AM

                                        I agree!!! What a huge disappointment. We had a dinner reservation at 7pm but couldn’t get seated until 8:20pm! When we arrived, we were told that the table should be ready in a few minutes. After half and hour we were told again that the table would be ready in a few minutes. And after an hour, we were told the same thing. I really don’t like the way they treat their customers, they just let you wait forever and don’t care about you. The restaurant was so overbooked for the winterlicious event. The food was overpriced and I had the worst dining experience ever! I DO NOT recommend it to anybody.

                                        1. re: p_000262090
                                          chefhound Feb 2, 2009 09:55 AM

                                          I just ate at Bite Me and I must unfortunately agree with all the previous posts. The food was pretty good (I had the porcelet) but the service was chaotic. Luckily, I had chosen the 5:30 seating so we didn't have a problem with waiting for our table. However, the service was so slow that the people with the 7:30 reservations were still waiting for our table at 8:30. We wanted to help them turn our table but we had to wait for everything. Water took forever, our dessert menus took forever to get to us etc. There were many small issues during the meal, which were eventually rectified but it's obviously not a smooth-running operation. Our server recited a list of the items on the menu which were sold out, to which we replied: how can they not be available if we're the first people in the restaurant? They should have told us these items were not available because the chef could not source a high quality ingredient not that it was sold out. My companion sent back a piece of meat because it wasn't done properly and when the plate returned, the accompanying ravioli was missing. I could go on but you get the idea. The dessert, oh god the dessert, was not good. The coconut rice pudding with dried fruit was ok but I didn't expect it to be warm. It was served with a pear sorbet, which was pretty much the reason I ordered the dish. The sorbet was too sour and it totally clashed with the warm rice pudding. So dinner ended on a sour note. There are definitely better places to spend your money.

                                      2. d
                                        DWizzo Feb 4, 2009 06:52 AM

                                        Bite Me Winterlicious Disaster: Bite ME Mr Thuet...

                                        I was quite excited to visit this place as I had read some decent reviews and have been struggling for great Toronto restaurants since moving from London.

                                        My wife and I showed up slightly before our 7pm reservation, only to find they actually had no record of it. After some umming and awing, we were finally seated and presented with their Winterlicious menu. On the face of it, it looked fairly nice. Typical inexpensive menu items for Winterlicious, but the preparations all sounded nice and we made our selections.

                                        For our first course we both selected the braised cabbage, pork belly dish (although were amused by the prospect of froth topped by foam) which turned out to be bland and uninspired. The pork was chewy and you had to hunt for cabbage in the pretentious plating. Little did we know it would be the best thing we ate that night…

                                        For mains, my wife had the sea bass and I had the beef stew. You could smell the fish coming as it made the journey from the kitchen to our table and when it arrive it had been slathered in a gloopy honey miso glaze that tasted like a bad mistake from an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. The fish was also cooked to within an inch of its life and was tough and dry. As an ironic juxtaposition, the veg on the plate was pretty much completely raw. Now I am a fan of al dente veg with a little crunch, but I did expect the preparation to include more than just peeling. My beef was even more over cooked than the fish. It was tough as old boots, which in retrospect is quite a feat for a beef stew which had no doubt been braising for hours. The initial product must have been really top quality to make that possible ;)

                                        Neither my wife nor I were able to finish out mains and we both held out hope that the desserts might give us something to cling to. Unfortunately, it tasted as if the Apple Gateau had been transplanted from the coffee shop around the corner and was bland and uninteresting. My wife's Banana Crepe Soufflé was scalding hot and inedible, however once she was able to sample it, conclude the banana crème pancake was equally memorable.

                                        The best thing about the night was the cheapo bottle of red (a $7 LCBO swill they were selling for $32) that was actually alright. We were amused as we left our table that the fishy smell of the sea bass had filled the restaurant and we even overheard other tables complaining that the beef was inedible.

                                        Bravo Bite Me for presenting my wife and I with the worst meal we have had since arriving in Toronto. I had almost fallen off the Winterlicious band wagon with a host of mediocre experiences, however with this latest gaff Mr Thuet has manage to throw me straight off said proverbial wagon. Never again will I punish my taste buds with a Winterlicious experience.

                                        After all of this, my wife and I were tempted to pop into Craft Burger for a poutine to fill our empty bellies and cleanse our tainted palettes...

                                        1. a
                                          ace123 Feb 6, 2009 07:39 PM

                                          I went to Bite Me for Winterlicious lunch. The food was mediocre. The service was ok.There were only 3 tables occupied. I ordered the sea bass. It was dry & chewy & didn't look/taste like sea bass. I asked the waiter, THEN he said it has been substituted with salmon. Afterwards,I heard when the other 2 tables ordered sea bass, he did not mention a thing. Moreover, the bill showed $35 for Winterlicious lunch, which should be $30.
                                          I don't think they treat their customers with respect, I won't go back.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ace123
                                            u
                                            urbandreamer Feb 7, 2009 09:23 AM

                                            Arva Flourmills! Wow, I had totally forgotten about this place. We used to go there every few months to get a bag for our homemade bread. It simply is the best flour in Ontario.:)

                                            Bite Me indeed! Thuet's bread sucks. Mabel's on Roncevalles sells his baguettes, and I must say, compared to Pain Quotidien, they are dried up pieces of bark. (However, le p q recently decreased the size of their baguette, while increasing the price....:(

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