HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >


Highway 61: I feel so ripped and dissed

I just took my family to Highway 61 on Bayview Avenue in Toronto to try some BBQ. I went to Memphis a couple weeks ago with another foodie just to tour restaurants (even skipped Graceland...)

2 out of the four of us ordered "The Beef Rib" - which is sold at $13.95. The menu states "The Flintstones never had it so good". The other person in our party ordered the Beef Brisket Plate which came in at $13.95.

The waiter assured us that even though the "Big beef Rib" was only a single rib, that it was the "size of his forearm" and was full of meat, and more than enough for a meal. Boy was he wrong. It was just a regular single beef rib, with one exception; it had a miraculous amount of fat on it. In fact, the two of us who ordered it filled an ENTIRE small stainless steel mixing bowl with just the fat from the two bones. After taking of the fat, there was some beef left, but we were still hungry of course. All it came with were some fries that were medicore. We felt like going for dinner all over again! When beef ribs sell at $1.99 wholesale a pound to 4.99 a pound at the best butchers, selling this single rib full of an abnormal amount of fat and very little beef as a "meal", no less, for $13.95, is outrageous.

The Beef brisket plate didnt fare much better. Same medicore fries, and a smallish portion of beef brisket, that left the diner hungry and wanting dinner..while still in the restaurant and having finished the $13.49 "Entree"....

It seemed like they were really selling entrees full of fries....

When we asked for the bill, we told the waiter, discreetly and kindly, that we were disappointed and asked if he could have the waiter come over to our table.

The waiter brought us the bill, ran our credit card through, and still no owner....So, we asked the waiter if the owner was coming, and he reluctantly agreed.

The owner came over, and we explained to him how we felt, and he said he was "sorry to hear that", glaring the entire time, and appeared to even be sarcastic, and said we were "the first people to ever complain" at his restaurant about the quality and portions...THIS IS HARD TO BELIEVE!!! So we said, ok, paid the bill, and left. In my entire life as a food lover and restaurant-goer, including 10 years as a waiter at several restaurants, all through school and university, I have NEVER stiffed a waiter ever, no matter how bad the food or service was, until, this very day. I was so appalled by the owner's attitude and unresponsiveness, the quality of the food, the rip-off prices, and the waiter's failure to even alert the owner when we expressly asked him to.

If this was the owner (a totally bald man) he appeared to not give a damn what we said and how we were feeling, aIl I can say is that if this business can survive with such prices, quality, and "service", I will be truly amazed. This was my worst Toronto restaurant experience ever. I feel so angry and ripped off...

I have attached photos of the "Big Beef Rib", the "Big Bowl of Fat", and the "Brisket Plate", fo you to see for yourself. The fuzzy picture of the bowl full of fat is about 10 inches wide and about 8 inches deep.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Sorry...I have now attached the beef rib photo, together with a photo of beef ribs at Bistro on avenue, for comparison. The first photo of the single rib from Hwy 61, is mostly FAT.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Teffub

      I'm sorry but I can't see any descriptive detail in these five photos, and I am unable to connect them to the review.

      1. re: jayt90

        Jayt, the first set of photographs in the original post consist of a picture of the beef brisket plate, followed by the big bowl of fat from 2 beef ribs), and then (in error) a repeat of the beef brisket plate. In the reply that I posted to my own original posting, I added the picture of the beef rib that was omitted inadvertently in the original post, and added a picture of a plate of ribs from Bistro, for comparisom...

        1. re: jayt90

          I think the point here is not so much if you can see the globs of fat in a crystal clear format, it's that it actually happened and that it was enough to fill a bowl. I can't see it that clearly either, but I can see the difference between the two rib plates. So this is not so much a problem for me.

          Teffub: it's too bad that the owner couldn't see it to properly satisfy your complaint and at least try to give you something complimentary to show, if anything, some good southern hospitality.

          Unfortunately (or fortunately) when I went there a couple of weeks ago, it was just to meet up with some friends and go somewhere else, so they were just finishing their meal. It was awful as well, but I don't have the detail. All they kept saying for the rest of the night was that they felt ill - not as in food poisoning ill - but just that queazy feeling after you've eaten something too fatty. The owners were there as well that night at the bar and didn't look too interested in talking to customers to find out if they enjoyed their meals. I don't know, some people just want to open restaurants for the fun of it, or because they're tired of working for others in another restaurant. But really, only few can do it with flair.

    2. Sounds terrible

      I've driven crazy distances for BBQ before (I live in Brampton, and have driven to Paris, ON to go to Camp 31) but I guess I made the right choice by bypassing this place from day 1. I had a bad feeling about this place right from the get-go when I saw their prices before the restauraunt even opened.. Sounds like I definitely made the right choice

      Sorry to hear about that, sounds terrible.

      3 Replies
      1. re: duckdown

        It is terrible actually. We've gone twice hoping for the best. The sauce is decent but the food is served with way too much fat. Both the beef ribs and pulled pork are served with gobs of fat. Because the prices are so high, it appears they purposely try to make the pulled pork portions look bigger by including so much fat, but the rib bone is just a joke on every level. Funny thing is that we commented to the waiter also - about how expensive the single beef rib is. Sorry to hear the owner is so uncaring about how the patrons feel but it makes sense when you think about how much fat he serves for so much money!

        Highway 61 = Highway Robbery!

        1. re: dianabanana

          Highway 61 is a joke. Horrible place. The worst on Bayview.

          1. re: Philip T

            I have to agree with you Philip. I, too, was very disappointed with my experience there.

      2. Actually I loved the food at this place. I have been 3 times. Nice size portions great service. Sometimes they run out of some stuff. But mostly top notch. It is one of my wife and kids favorate places.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Crispy skin

          I appreciate different viewpoints Crispy skin, but I dont think its possible to hold a different view point of the Big Bowl of Fat for $13.95> I am sure you wouldnt want to order that for yourself or kids...I did unfortunatly....and the owner couldnt have cared less about it....

          1. re: Teffub

            My family and I had dinner at Highway 61 last night and found the meal mediocre overall. We started off with the onion rings and fried green tomatoes, both of which were nice and crispy but very greasy. As we're not huge eaters we shared the Big Joe Turner platter, with sides of sweet potato & apple mash and beans. The pulled pork was decent, as were the ribs, the brisket somewhat dry and the chicken quite dry. The general feeling was everything lacked seasoning / flavour, with minimal smoke. The house BBQ sauce was definitely needed to add life to the meal. If Highway 61 is convenient, check it out but wouldn't recommend anyone drive across town.

        2. I don't see how the manager can say no one has ever complained about their beef ribs before.

          From the March 19 Now:


          β€œAn even bigger car wreck, beef ribs from Rowe Farms – $13.95 for a just-under-a-pound slab the size and thickness of a steak – are so over-marbelized with fat, you could tile the Vatican with the leftovers.”

          1 Reply
          1. re: Herb

            Highway 61 is known to lie. They even had the nerve to take a quote from a bad Eye magazine review, and totally use it out of context on their website like it was a good comment when it was simply not.

            Never eat the food of a place you can not trust. Highway 61!

          2. This is really too bad. I was really hoping this was gonna be great but like Duck, I got a bad feeling from this place from the start. I went by on a Thursday or Friday the week before they opened. I asked when they were gonna open and they said Monday. I questioned it but I was assured and had planned on eating lunch there. They did not open on Monday. Steerike One. Mrs Sippi parused the menu and wasn't impressed. Steerike Two. Then the reviews started coming in. Most bad and ever increasingly with bad reviews of the management and staff. Steerike Three.
            I'm not saying I've writen this place off. I'm just saying until I get some encouraging news about this place, I'll go to RUB. I'm hoping this new place on St. Clair W. is gonna be good too.
            Of course, if I want the best I'll DIY or just make the trip down yonder.


            1. I've had experiences similar to this, it's basically a form of robbery, at the end of the day. But most people tend not to complain, so it goes on.

              1. Shame about the dinner Teffub...but I think you handled it the wrong.

                If you get a bad peice of meat, etc you should complain before you eat it not after. If they refuse to replace it or offer you something else, you are under no obligation to stay or pay (other than for your drinks, etc.).

                2 Replies
                1. re: Finnegan

                  Check out the new Reveiw that Eye Magazine did:


                  I like this line the best:

                  "Listed as a succulent 12 ounces of carnivorous delight, the big beef rib ($13.95) is a dried-out, inedible fat-riddled piece of woody meat that has more chew and less taste than a dog toy. "

                2. Lol looks like Eye Weekly was not impressed.. and to make matters worse the management just does not get the term customer services... Too many of the same stories from this place.. should be expecting a for lease sign on the window anytime if they do not smarten up...


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: OnDaGo

                    This guy will not survive. I have seen it so many times before. He will go down knowing he did it right as he alienates people in droves. It's his lousy attitude that allows him to serve lousy food.

                    I ate there when it first opened and although it was just passable, my friends have since reported nothing but disappointment. I met the bald guy who the OP mentioned and his smug attitude right from the start indicated his poor attitude toward feedback from paying clients.

                    It seems that EYE nailed the sentiments of many others.

                  2. I'm mixed on this place. I've been there a couple of times, and wrote about the first on another thread. To put more context to my comments, I also live in the area, have kids, and have been forced to eat on that strip simply because of the location. The bar is not set high. Anyone who has been to Originals knows what I mean. There's not much competition, and the locals have this unfortunate tortured look whenever they receive food. Stockholm syndrome in many ways.

                    Hwy 61 was very good when it opened, with these amazing thin slices of smokey brisket. The other non Q dishes seem to be consistent, and the atmosphere is better than most places on the strip. It is a work in progress, and the optimist in me hopes that they'll try to improve rather than capitalize on the fact that everything around them sucks badly.

                    Reminds me of an old David Lee Roth quote on The Clash being angry at the US Festival. "It's tough to evoke social change and break in a new drummer at the same time".

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Snarf

                      I don't know what I love more: the DLR quote or the Stockholm syndrome reference. LOL!

                    2. I feel for the OP. The owner didnt give a damn about my complaints either in regards to food quality or bad service.

                      Highway 61 is a dump. I felt ripped and dissed too. To the tune of $90.00 in which I left exact change. These guys served me broken bones and flavourless meat. They also write a whole wack of fake reviews and aside from their blatant shilling, they also take Eye Magazine bad review quotes out of context and they use it in their advertising...and still, nothing about this place changes.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Philip T

                        To be honest, I was excited when I heard that this place had opened up but lost interest soon after I read the reviews. I will likely never try this place.

                        1. re: callitasicit

                          Right there with ya Cal.

                          I probably would've been the first of us to try it. Then they didn't open up the day they said they would. Then on the new opening day, they opened late. I made other plans for lunch that day and then the bad pub started coming in.


                      2. For some really STUPID reason I didn't check on here before buying a certificate for this place from Groupon. I wish I had, and I had read this review before buying it. Since I bought it anyway I figured I would give it a chance and went tonight.

                        Now I know for a fact that most Canadians don't know what good BBQ is. This place was JAMMED with people, hardly room for waiters to walk around, there was a 20-30 minute wait.... and for what? For bad food....

                        I hate being really negative about restaurants especially when the service was actually pretty good but the food was horrible. I had the 1/2 rack ribs ($14.99 pre-coupon discount!!... the full rack was like $27 and there were no sides included!!!) and an order of onion rings and a beer. The best part of the meal was the beer. The Onion Rings were better than Burger King rings but can't beat out the ones from places like Stockywards (although, not sure if they do them anymore) or probably my fav from W Burger).

                        Echoing what others said, the ribs (I had the standard pork ribs) were not trimmed at all. The ribs I had were overcooked (I was offered the sauce on them or on the side, I picked on the side because normally restaurants slather it on too much) but the ribs were totally dried out and the meat was tough.

                        I don't want to even waste time writing more detail. Just AVOID this place if you know what good BBQ should taste like. Maybe they have other decent things on the menu (maybe burgers or something?) but I will definitely not be going back.

                        And I sure don't know what Oliver and Bonancini were thinking giving this place top picks in Post City for their ribs....They must have been fed something totally different, or, I don't know what is going on there...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ylsf

                          I didn't think a side could ruin a meal, but last night's "bbq" beans were a horror. Put a couple of dollops of straight-from-the-can Heinz beans in a plastic cup, leave them to dry and crack under a heat lamp for a couple of hours, then serve them just like that; that's how they were. Yuck.

                          The meat was okay; a bit wet, and the burnt end was soggy. Tasty enough brisket despite that. Sauce was a bit flat, and not like I remember it. The portions are tiny and come on hilarious oblong plates, all neatly arranged. Hint to owners: you do not "plate" 'q, you _shovel_ it.

                          Maybe I've been spoiled by my many hurried southern trips to MO and visits to places like Bryant's, Gates', Biffle's and Pappy's. I don't think I'll be back.

                          1. re: scruss

                            I have eated at almost all of the bbq places in the area and I will actually give support to this restaurant for most of the visits I have had. The pulled pork sandwich is something I have often and enjoy as much as most in the city. It is better than what I have had at Phil's and Barque. I also enjoy the brisket sanwich. They are not truly outstanding but they do please me for my lunch visits (I work close by). The gumbo is to die for...really great stuff and priced at $5 is a deal!!! Seriously worth the visit.

                            On the other hand, I have gone for dinner twice and ordered the sampler plate. It has been filled with hits and misses both times.

                            This place is not even close to being the worst and should be given a chance by enthusiasts. Some of the best places in the states get ripped on all the time. Just keep smokin baby.

                            1. re: kingkolo

                              I disagree wholeheartedly. Enthusiasts should not waste their money. There is better food at Montana's.

                        2. I agree with the OP - brutal, terrible, awful, 3 times I've suffered through dry smoke-free BBQ.
                          Avoid at all costs, except maybe for a beer at the bar upstairs where bluesy musical acts (solo, duet or 1/2 bands) heroically play from the tiny, cramped stage.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: TorontoTips

                            I ate at this place quite some time ago and reviewed it on a different board as a rip-off. First, please understand that I Q myself - low and slow in a smoker. I found their ribs - always the hallmark of a Q joint - to be dreadful, virtually inedible. I was shown the ovens, and could smell no wood smoke, but saw a lot of steam. That's not good. Finding good ribs in TO is hard. Barque is dreadful. The Stockyards is good, but can't always find them. My favourite right now is the Cherry St. Restaurant: http://cherryst.ca/



                            1. re: gilbert1111

                              I wanted to try Cherry St a couple of weeks ago only to be told they don't smoke in the winter. Was I misinformed?

                              Have you tried Hadley's? They are a more firm rib and very lean. I think they also have just the right amount of smoke flavour to not be overwhelming. Good sauce too. Smoked chicken is perfection as is the fried chicken.

                              Barque is for brisket and beef ribs. I thought their burger was very tasty and above average. Good wings too.

                            2. re: TorontoTips

                              I am with the avoid camp -- over-priced, inconsistent, mostly terrible BBQ. Sure once in a while you might enjoy your pulled pork sandwich, but that's about it IMO. I'm always surprised by how busy it is. I might add -- I like their local beers, which they rotate frequently.

                            3. The management has changed the smoker and retrained the staff. They have also redone the bbq sauce and the Memphis Sauce is outstanding. The Brisket and pulled pork has been greatly improved. I would seriously disregard all of the other comments as they are a different place now and deserve to be reconsidered. Both sandwiches I have had a couple times now and they were consistently good.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: kingkolo

                                You mean to say this place still exists? Shocker.

                                1. re: kingkolo

                                  Until others come forward with similar reports very few people here will likely pay any attention to your comments.

                                  There is zero goodwill for this place and people are smartly sceptical.

                                  1. re: kingkolo

                                    hang on for a sec....
                                    going to shell out my hard-earned cash and my evening to try a place that previously sucked.
                                    will report back!