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Mar 28, 2009 05:36 PM

Allens on the Danforth- Disgusting food, service

This is the text of an email I sent to this place today, a really awful experience:

Hello, just emailing you to give some constructive feedback on the extremely poor experience we had at your restaurant today. Soup (the cheddar) emerged after 20 minutes with a thick skin on the top, had obviously been left sitting. We were delivered butter and jam, which sat there minding its own business (more about that later). For mains we ordered an Ulster fry and “Chef Viji’s Excellent” chicken curry. Well let me tell you that Mr. Viji would be better served following a career in advertising rather than cooking, as what he served up was a drab, watery excuse for a meal. We were forewarned as to what was to come, as the server assured us that it wasn’t the worst curry in the city. He didn’t seem remotely familiar with the dishes on the menu, though, which is what I would assume is a basic for workers in that line of business.

The Ulster fry was just pitiful, I’m from Northern Ireland and its nowhere near NI standards, complete with a previously frozen sausage and what seemed like peameal bacon. Please don’t waste your customer’s time boasting on your menu about serving Mawinney’s Irish Sausages, it’s not a familiar brand in Ireland , and any mug can go buy a bag of them frozen from Summerhill Market. Why not put a bit of effort in and go make your own? The “fadge” was unrecognisable, a true travesty.

We complained about the curry, of which about two mouthfuls were eaten (and none of the pita bread passed off as chapati), the guy just grinned gormlessly and said “really?”, no effort to make things good.

And as for the butter and jam? No toast with the fry as we assumed it was destined for. Asking the server, we were told that sometimes diners were given a bun. “Sometimes a bun comes out” were his exact words. So maybe the butter and jam were to coax said bun out, just like putting a carrot in your back garden might attract out a shy bunny rabbit.

An awful experience, not to be repeated, and I will pass this on to my friends.

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  1. supposedly burgers are their specialty

    2 Replies
    1. re: duckdown

      Knocking a restaurant for not making its own sausage is a bit low...

      1. re: Blueicus

        Trying to pretend that frozen sausages from a brand pretty much unknown in Ireland are some kind of selling point is pretty low, too, don't ya think?

    2. Allen's received a favourable review on their patio last year (thought it was in The Star, but can't seem to find it). Intrigued, I went there with my fiance and have since been back twice more (once with my now wife) and another occasion with a friend. Each time, I have been underwhelmed by both the food and the service to the point where, despite the patio (which is very nice in the summer), I actively avoid this restaurant. I have a couple specific comments. The curry was bland, the burgers are nothing special. Frozen patties if I recall. When you tell the front of house guy you'd like to sit on the patio, he quickly fires back "Will you be having dinner?" If you're not, he's reluctant to sit you there, regardless of how busy it is. This leaves one with a distinctly unwelcoming flavour of the place from the minute you walk in the door. If this place was something special, you might accept this kind of attitude, but it's just not (except for the lovely patio).
      In sum, I wholeheartedly agree with the original poster's comments and am not surprised.

      1. I'm no apologist for the service there, which ranges from excellent to awful beyond belief, depending on who you get and how busy they are.

        They have many things on their menu that they don't do well, or that aren't worth the price. The curries are pitiful and anything that sounds fancy is a major risk.

        But Allen's is really just a pub, though one with an atmosphere quite different from the Toronto norm. The burgers remain, to me, the best simple burgers in Toronto. I also like the fish & chips (though these are double the going chippy price) and the capon wings. When one of these isn't up to scratch, I will send it back without any hesitation.

        5 Replies
        1. re: embee

          Exactly. Not only that, but... frozen patties? Seriously?

          1. re: tjr

            If I ever got a frozen burger patty there, they managed to fool me very effectively. I really don't think so.

            That said, they do sell frozen burgers for takeout and they have often used a separate patio menu with grilled food cooked on an outdoor gas barbecue. I can't state that foodappreciator's perception is wrong. They might cook up frozen burgers if they run out of fresh, but I don't think this has ever happened to me.

              1. re: embee

                Allen's does not serve frozen burgers. They are fresh ground and cooked to order. I have never ordered anything other than the burgers and they have been consistently excellent (the best that I have had in Toronto).

                I try to avoid going to Allen's during peak time. Both the food and service seem to suffer when they are really busy.

                I was there for lunch on Friday and their service and burgers were excellent.

            1. re: embee

              I've always found the service more hit than miss. The food is fairly adequate for what in reality is a pub. But for the most part almost everything is over-priced in relation to quality. The burger is okay. Stick to the great beer selection on a hot day and head somehwere else post-patio for decent grub.

            2. anyone know how much a burger+fries cost at Allens? just curious

              1 Reply
              1. re: sleepy

                You wouldn't get your answer from looking at the menu -- although they mention having the best burgers, there is no burger menu, hence no listing of available options, and no prices, either, which I find extremely irritating. If memory serves me correctly (we had burgers and fries there a couple of weeks ago), it's $10 (burger only; fries are extra). The burgers were excellent, cooked medium rare as ordered. We preferred the sweet potato fries to the Yukon golds.

              2. The original comment has been removed