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Apr 30, 2009 03:11 PM

Prairie Ink restaurant at new McNally Robinson bookstore?

Just heard that a new independent bookstore opened at Lawrence and Don Mills (McNally Robinson) and that it has a real restaurant in it called Prairie Ink. Anybody tried it yet? Or know anything about the menu? They have menus from two other stores posted on their website, but not for the Toronto store yet. I think it's just been open for a week or so. Thanks!

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  1. My understanding is that they snagged a chef from Perigee.

    1. They have a website that includes the menu for the restaurant...not sure if they've updated and included the Don Mills location yet...when I checked they just had the Winnipeg and Saskatoon locations but it will give you an idea of the kind of things they serve...

      1. My daughter and I checked out the new centre yesterday and had lunch at Prairie Ink. Wished we hadn't; should have gone to Linda instead.

        I don't want to be too negative given that they only opened a few days ago. Suffice it to say that the waiter who served us was totally inexperienced and continously made fun of his own inadequacies (kind of humourous, actually), the food was mediocre but has potential, the ambiance is almost nonexistant.

        I'd recommend waiting a couple of weeks to let them iron out the kinks. The menu is interesting and quite varied and, to their credit, they're making a concerted effort to use locally grown/raised and produced food. We did enjoy our soups -- a West African spicy peanut soup -- but our mains needed work (the beet and goat cheese salad, which was very bland with an excessively sweet vinaigrette, and the duck confit sandwich, which was tasteless and quite meagerly filled and was served with limp sweet potato fries).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tatai

          I spoke to someone who had lunch at Prairie Ink today, and he said it was not good, that they still need to do quite a bit to make the place work.

          The bookstore, however, is worth a visit.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Just came back to from this place with my sister and 4 of my cousins. Seeing as it's been about a month since they've been open it seems they have NOT worked out a lot of the kinks...AT ALL! It took about 15-20 minutes for a waiter to come and talk to us and take our orders, and about 45 minutes before the food came out. (Word of advice, the Bison Burger takes a really long time to cook, which was the apparent cause of the delay). We complained to the manager and he offered us free desserts which turned out to be 2 complimentary desserts. This also took a very long time to arrive along with the bill.

            It was also the case that we were not the only ones having problems. The table directly to our right with 7 people were waiting for a long time for the bill, and were upset, the table to our left (2 people) were having a very animated conversation with the manager as we were leaving, and the table behind me was asking around if someone would take their orders.

            The food itself was okay, decent. But based on this experience (which made us feel like we were on an episode of Hell's Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares), I will never return to this restaurant again.


            FYI This is what we ordered:

            - Warm Asparagus Salad
            - Bison Burger
            - Veggie Burger
            - Sweet Potato Perogies (starter)
            - Chicken Wrap
            - Fish Wrap

            5 Replies
            1. re: booyahchild01

              ok is a cafe in a bookstore, 7 people, 5 people....i've been to the one in saskatoon, not here, maybe not fair to compare, but based on the western experience, it is ok for lunch while shopping but not for a dining destination....

              1. re: robgm

                When we got to the outdoor mall, it was suggested by one of the mall information staff members that it was a good place to eat for dinner. So we went on his word since the mall was only 40% open and very few restaurants to choose from. As well, we wanted to try something new, so naturally, this was a good option.

                The food really was pretty good. It was just a very frustrating experience with the service, and how long it took to cook it. After looking at what I posted earlier, and having some time to cool off, I really should give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe given a bit more time their service will work itself out. The place started filling up at around 8pm and most people were actually there for dinner.

                The bookstore itself is really nice. Very organized.

                1. re: robgm

                  They have been promoting this place as something special and not as a typical bookstore cafe. The menu is very large and sounds tempting. They claim to have hired a chef from Perigee. They should have trained the staff before they opened. At the very least, they could have offered a limited (if not discounted) menu for a soft opening period.

                  As to the bookstore, I welcome any competition to the loathsome Heather. Nevertheless, I was disappointed. Yes, it's nice, but the stock is limited and the prices are high. The idea of matching restaurant specials to cookbooks on sale is a good one. It would be better if they could prepare and serve food more capably. The cookbook selection, itself, is very limited.

                  1. re: embee

                    I've got to agree with you on the disappointment I felt walking around the bookstore, embee. The stock is, indeed, very limited. My go-to first section in any bookstore is always the cooking section, and this one was dismally small and uninteresting. Too bad...

                  2. re: robgm

                    I disagree completely - this place has been heavily promoted as being 'special' and different... a cut above, so to speak... if the experiences described are accurate, it is not acceptable. Do it will or bugger off is my new motto! :)