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Mar 18, 2009 03:28 PM

Watusi (?) on Ossington

Does anyone know anything about this new restaurant that appeared to have just opened up on Ossington? I drove by a couple times and it looked like the name was Watusi but had heard nothing about it. The lighting seems to look cool?

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  1. just walked by last night on the way to delux. the menu didn't look too enticing and it was absolutely empty in there so we moved on. looked like a cool space though so i'd be anxious to hear some reviews here.

    1. I think Toronto Life just did a tidbit on this?

      1. Ended up there a couple of nights ago on a whim. The waiter (who was excellent - knowledgeable and attentive without being intrusive) said the place had just been open a week.

        The menu is quite small, and composed of medium-sized plates meant for sharing - the waiter recommended three dishes for the two of us (moderately hungry but not ravenous), and that turned out to be just right. Menu is divided into a few basic sections: salads, hot veggie dishes, sides, meat, etc. We ordered marinated buffalo ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, and sesame green beans. All were of the belly-filling, slightly-dolled-up comfort food variety, and all were well executed. The ribs were properly fall-off-the-bone, and though the spicing could have been more nuanced we were generally very happy.

        Prices: veggies dishes were in the $5-8 range; the ribs were $16.

        Verdict: not really a destination restaurant but an excellent choice if you're in the neighbourhood and want to avoid the lines or higher prices elsewhere.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chloe103

          Eleven of my friends and I ended up at Watusi (Ossington and Queen) this past Friday night for a birthday celebration. In summary – okay food, blah service, but hey – it’s ultra-hip!

          We walked in the door around 9 and the place was packed with trendy 30-something hipsters, all sipping on trendy cocktails. We had called a few days in advance to make dinner reservations for 9 pm; we waited by the door for a good 5 minutes before we were approached by the (rather surly) hostess who proceeded to inform us that our table wasn’t quite ready yet. She instructed us to wait at the bar – which we did – for half an hour! When our table was finally ready, the surly hostess showed us the way, literally throwing the menus down when she got to the table.

          The waitress then came by (in a perfect amount of time I may say) asking for drink orders. She didn’t write the orders down (which is fine), but then proceeded to come back to our table another 3 times before drinks were delivered because she couldn’t remember what people had ordered. Despite the checking and re-checking, she forgot to bring 2 drinks to the table.

          When it came time to order food, we were informed that several of the items on the relatively small menu were sold out for the evening. Keep in mind, we had been looking at the menus now for a good 20 minutes – the waitress had plenty of time to let us know which items were unavailable before we made our selections. Nevertheless, we ended up selecting several of the available (tapas style) food items from the menu (mushroom pizza, blue cheese pizza, green beans, roasted eggplant, grilled calamari, the “house dip of the day” – which was a spinach and blue cheese dip, vegetarian nachos, vegetarian rolls, unagi rolls, the cod, and the short ribs). The food came in a reasonable amount of time, and was decent. Some dishes were better than others - but, none of the dishes were worth the trek from Cabbagetown (the fish dishes were the worst of the lot and the pizza was probably the best of the lot). I agree with the previous poster – there is certainly room for improvement on the spice/flavor front.

          Now – back to the waitress. Throughout the rest of the evening, she cleared cocktails from the table before we had finished drinking them; she forgot about numerous drink orders; and was just generally inefficient. To be fair, it seems like the place was pretty under-staffed (maybe someone unexpectedly cancelled their shift?). The real kicker is the mandatory 18% gratuity for large groups. Yes – thank you for mediocre service.
          To be fair, this place does have a fun atmosphere, and if you’re patient, it is a decent spot for a big group birthday party. The cocktail list is pretty extensive – though nothing is too groundbreaking

          1. re: amy_whino

            Not to get off-topic (okay it's off-topic, shoot me), but the next time you're in the mood for pizza and don't want to stray too far from Cabbagetown, try Fusilli at Queen & River. It's outrageously good.

            1. re: Googs

              I should clarify, the pizza at Watusi certainly isn't going to be competing with the best of the best anytime soon (e.g. Libretto, Terroni, or Mangia e Bevi - another Cabbagetown treat!); but it was better than some of the other items we ordered.

              Never tried the pizza at Fusilli's (thanks for the tip) - but we've enjoyed their pasta and risotto dishes.

              1. re: amy_whino

                Fusilli just started serving pizza about a week, week and a half ago and I've already had it twice!!!

                1. re: amy_whino

                  Funny--I went to a birthday there a few weeks ago. There were about 12 of us. I wasn't expecting much at all , and found the food to be better than OK--I know, doesn't sound great, but for some reason I was expecting the worst, and it was actually pretty tasty (this was for all of the vegetarian dishes--the meat dishes others had were not very good).
                  We had the opposite experience with the service. Our waiter (a guy, with the help of a girl when it came to running the food) memorized our entire order, came back to check on things often, noticed when we needed fresh drinks, etc. He even found a candle and put it in the cake without being asked. He was the perfect waiter I long for in Toronto.

          2. I have been wanting to try Watusi for a while, as I live close by, and did so last night with some friends. It was pretty quiet as it was a Monday but the vibe was still good. Our server was friendly, and never left us wanting for anything. We shared the chix pea fries w/ jalapeno dip, the veggie sushi rolls w/ spinach, miso and pine nuts (delicious), the wanton nachos and the carmelized onion, blue cheese and pear pizza (outstanding). Presentation was nice and we all loved the food. My friends had some mojitos which they said were really good and I had some wine. The only complaint I would have is the lack of a wine menu. When I asked our server for one she told me the 4 whites by the glass, and unfortunately "chardonnay from California and Pinot Grigio from Italy" isn't all the information required to order. She promptly got the info from the bartender, but it's more impressive when the server has all the answers off the bat. Small issue for an enjoyable evening.

            1. Last month, I had brunch there with a friend and we both rated it ok but not worth another visit considering how many good options there are in the city.

              I had the waffle which was vegan and came with mint strawberries and a side of peameal. The peameal was 3 small slices with nice grill marks. It was really salty an rather dry. The waffles were soft oppose to crispy but they were warm so probably fresh made. The strawberry accompaniment was quite nice and bright tasting but only about 3 tbsp worth.

              My dining companion had the hash. She was disappointed the meat was cut up pcs of peameal but overall she said it was fine.

              Tea is Twinings bags, coffee was deemed good and they offer fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice (expensive, but I find that everywhere).

              4 Replies
              1. re: chocabot

                We have been twice for dinner and were just back there on Saturday night. The food ranges from pretty good to outstanding, more towards towards the outstanding side.

                Highlights include: Wanton Nachos - Crispy wonton noodles with a spiced cheese mixture inside of them served wtih fresh peach salsa. Chickpea fries with creamy jalapeno dip. Smokey pulled pork with more wonton chips.

                I don't remember what flatbread pizza we had but it was so so, as were the chicken drums. Service was excellent, drinks were never allowed to go dry. Would return if in the area. The hipster vibe was never overwhelming. Pretty sure it's the Bovine/Shanghai Cowgirl folks that are behind this.

                1. re: abigllama

                  A friend said this place has closed. But can't find any info online. Their website is still up. Anyone in the 'hood know what's up?

                  1. re: abigllama

                    rock lobster is taking over. Thank god, that place was so bad.