amaya bread bar
Four couples went there for dinner last nite and here are my thoughts:
The restaurant is nicely appointed. Its really a lovely atmosphere however if I was seated in the front part of the restaurant, I would not be happy as there is no "waiting" area and as soon as a party walks thru the doors - they are practically right beside the tables.
Thankfully we were seated at the back of the restaurant.
The cutlery, the plates, the goblets and the serving dishes certainly do add to the atmosphere they are trying to create.
As for the food...well...lets just say...it was OK...nothing stood out as "oh my - this is amazing and you have to try this".
I recently went to Tabla in New York and every bite was amazing!! As in "oh my - I need to visit this place again".
The naan - disappointing.
The service was pleasant but nothing outstanding either. No one smiles...just efficient.
I was surprised that the plates we used for our appetizers were not changed and for our main courses, we ate off of a 6 inch (ok maybe 8 inch) salad plate.
I was also suprised that when it came to dessert - our watier came by and asked "would anyone like tea or coffee". I asked for a mango lassi. When it arrived..I asked "do you have anything for dessert" and he said "yes - I will get you a dessert menu.".
The dessert menu arrives and funny enough, - mango lassi is not listed.
I also found it amusing that they serve gregs icecream. I would have to admit - that its the last place I would think of, that would serve roasted marshmallow ice cream.
Needless to say, we ordered it (coz many had never tried it) and shared it with 8 spoons.
Does anyone agree with me on my assessment of this resaurant?
I went to Amaya's Bread Bar for dinner recently and had a very nice experience.
The restaurant is well done - not as polished or upscale as it looks on the website but still nice. They have a huge patio that extends off the side that will be lovely - probably starting this week. I was surprised to see that there were a number of families there so I guess that is a bonus if you live in the area and have kids but still like nice food. Even with the kids (who were all well behaved) the noise level is very moderate.
On presentation of the menu we immediately noted that it does not really resemble what is posted online. They appear to have dropped most of the innovative street food items in favour of more traditional indian fare. The naaninis, for example, are gone. That said, the food was still excellent and definitely surpassed most if not all of the indian food I've had in Toronto.
That said, there is still lots of choice. For 2 people we ordered pappadums, a bread basket, a saag paneer, a crab/shrimp curry and a duck curry (descriptions of the latter 2 are not online, sadly.) When the server repeated back our order to us she added in an order of basmati which we caught and declined.
The pappadums were ok - served with a light mango-type sauce. They weren't great but certainly passable. There were only 3 served and they were rolled up like cigars that shattered as soon as you took a bite so not that great for sharing.
All 3 mains and the bread came together and were nice and warm (although the curries were not hot, which is ok with me as I think you can taste them better when just warm).
The bread came pre-sliced and was a nice mix of whole weat and white naans, some of which were seasoned. There was a huge portion which we never finished. the bread was quite soft although nicely charred as well.
The three mains were all excellent. The saag paneer had some fresh ginger in it which was a nice touch and overall great seasoning. The cheese appeared to be freshly made and melted in your mouth. The duck was cooked a touch more than I would have liked (I prefer duck quite rare and this was distinctly medium) but the curry flavours were rich and spicy with a distinct tamarind note. The crab and shrimp curry had a red coconut base that was also quite spicy and the seafood was well cooked (although the crab was really not picked over enough and there was some cartilege in the dish which is a big turnoff for me). Both curries had a nice thick base and quite a bit of heat. Although they were similar they were not so much the same that it felt repetitive.
The wine list is well chosen and well priced - they mention on the list that they have limited their markups and it shows. We had glasses of the Caymus Conundrum which was a perfect match with the food, as well as the Australian Chard (name escapes me).
Service was warm, friendly and efficient throughout the night (although for some reason they still don't change the plates that you use for appetizers as noted in the prior post - we had to ask for this to be done). Some of the dish sizes are problematic - the curries come in dishes with massive rims that quickly crowd the table. As the above poster noted, you eat off very small plates which is fine with me but may bother others. Portions were on the small side - good for sharing dishes among 2-3 people but it would be problematic to share them among more than that. We easily finished everything except the bread between 2 people.
In terms of value, dinner with 4 glasses of wine came to $147 all in which I felt was reasonable given the quality. In truth, the meal really had the best indian food I have had in Toronto. I am a huge fan of Vij's in Vancouver and haven't really found anything in Toronto to compare to it. Bread Bar still doesn't reach the heights of Vij's (not enough innovation/complexity on the menu, not as much of a fine dining experience) but for a neighbourhood place it was a very pleasant surprise. I also noticed that they have jackfruit on the menu, which is something I haven't seen much in Toronto and look forward to trying on the next visit, as well as some of the appetizers and lamb dishes. The restaurant definitely lacks the polish of a higher end place so may deter those who live south of Lawrence or Eglinton from visiting. Lately my go to Indian places have been Chef of India at Yonge and Eg (which has recently gone way downhill IMHO), Jaipur and Rangoli, but Bread Bar is significantly better than those and even on par with some good London Indian restaurants. I should not that they have a private room at the back in case people are looking for a space to have a medium sized (30 people or so) function.
I think Cat123 has Amaya's Bread Bar pretty well pegged. It may not be in Vij's in Vancouver's class, but - now that Tabla(a) is out of action - it's the class of the neighborhood and substantially beyond. When I first went there, shortly after it opened, I found the food imaginative and tasty, but hilariously overpriced for the portion size and for what it was - especially annoying was the $3 charge for an itsy-bitsy circle of naan. But prices have moderated substantially, I discovered when I returned, after friends advised me to give it another shot. The room is cooly pleasant, the service caring and professional, the food just as tasty as I recalled the first time. The wine (and beer) list is also much more manageable. I guess enough customers protested by not returning after their first visit that the resto decided to clean up its act.