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May 2, 2009 11:06 AM

Colborne Lane over-rated?

Does anyone else think that Colborne Lane is over-rated? I certainly don't think it warrants being rated on of the best restaurants in the En Route magazine! After waiting almost 4 hours for a tasting menu of 10 tiny dishes, I left there feeling very hungry and not satisfied at all. My partner waited 2.5 hours to receive her halibut. Granted timing the a la carte order with my tasting menu was a bit tricky but 2.5 hours???!!! And all the freeze dried powders accompanying the dishes was not at all interesting. As far as I am concerned, freeze dried food should be left for camping....
Not to be entirely negative, the restaurant was warm and had great interior decor. The mushroom soup was divine but serving sizes were really not adequate for the price you pay. I'd be interested in what others think of this trendy place.....

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  1. Personally, I'm not fond of Colborne Lane. I think it's a decent restaurant, but not great. I don't have problems with the food portions, but I do find the food uninventive for a restaurant that is supposed to be inventive, and many of the more inventive dishes fall flat. I haven't had bad service though.

    1. My wife and I went to Colborne Lane over a year ago. I had made a reservation but we still ended up at a cramped deuce where a piece of wall jutted out into my side of the table. Made getting in and out of my seat akward and was not a great start to a meal where I knew I was going to drop serious cash.

      I guess during the height of the molecular gastronomy craze I was expecting to be dazzled, but found the food underwhelming. Presentation was very good but portions were small. Molecular techniques, even back then, were a bit ho-hum. Of course now it could be argued that MG has played out as a fad, especially with the advent of tough economic times and people looking for well-valued comfort food (spare me the foam and spheres, just hook me up with the mac and cheese).

      Surprisingly, a gentleman at the table next to us leaned over at one point and asked me what I thought of the food. He was peeved that his lamb entree consisted of only one lamb chop and some lamb sausage. So in reference to portion size, this guy was definitely not pleased. He actually started waving the solo lamb chop around and making a bit of a spectacle.

      The room looked good -- dark, minimalist, nice edge to the ambience. I recall jars of peanut butter on a shelf, a la Susur's Colonel Sanders dolls. Not sure why restaurateurs try so hard to display their sense of irony.

      1. So your partner had ala carte and you had a ten course tasting menu? silly, silly... how do you expect them to time your 10 courses with someone who orders 3 courses and not have them sitting there with no food for 3/4 of the time.. it is not the restaurants fault teasting menus always take longer by the shear fact of the number of courses it is meant to be leasurly.. I would expect at least 3.5 hours for that many courses.

        3 Replies
        1. re: OnDaGo

          Splendido did the timing quite nicely when my girlfriend ordered the tasting menu and I ordered a-la carte though I had four dishes rather than three. It also didn't take over 3.5 hours either. Points to Splendido for even allowing us to order like we did.

          We went to Colbourne Lane four months ahead of Splendido and they wouldn't allow us to do that despite my reassurance that I'd be fine with the gaps in my meal. The place wasn't even slammed at the time due to our early eating time and foul winter weather outside. In the end the girlfriend had to order a-la carte as it would be a waste of money for me to have the tasting menu as many of the tastes and textures are unpleasant for me to consume.

          Comparing the two the girlfriend, a former chef, thought that many of the different textures and tastes in the CL dishes didn't work well together while just about everything at Splendido worked marvelously despite not quite having the same flare of presentation as CL.

          1. re: lister

            10 courses in 3 hours = 1 course every 18 minutes unless you want you food pre-made that is not a lot of time between courses to clear your setting, cook the food, reset you new setting deliver an explain the dish..

            1. re: OnDaGo

              We just returned from a recent trip that included dinner at Daniel Patterson's highly rated Coi Restaurant in San Francisco and ordered their 11-course tasting menu. We (as well as other tables around us who ordered the same) finished well within 3 hours and at no time did anyone felt rushed; nor did we feel the courses came too quickly or slow. It felt just right. And with the bill running to $600 (including wine) for 2, the food definitely wasn't pre-cooked. So a 10+ tasting menu within 3 hours can be done and done well.

              As well, I agree with lister that if a restaurant allows that not everyone at the table order the tasting menu, then they ought to do it right.

        2. I don't think it's anything special or that the food is the best you can get at that price either. The few times I've been there I've always felt less than amazed by the dishes. I have no qualms about the portions though.

          1. The original comment has been removed
            1. Okay, I think people are being a little harsh, which isn't fair. CL does what they do well for Toronto. This is a restaurant that has reasonably priced food considering what you're getting. While the portions may be small, this is true of any fine dining restaurant. If you aren't prepared for this, of course you'll be shocked.

              I'm not a fan of the food, but this is because I've seen what CL is doing, and better, elsewhere in the world, numerous times. It's not that CL is bad. It's not a bad restaurant. The food is consistent (though some dishes are consistently bad), and the service is good. If you order the dishes that work, you'll probably have a good meal. If you want to feel like you just ate 10kg of food, maybe you should go to a buffet?

              Honestly, the portion sizes are in line with what you should expect. The food isn't terrible. Claiming that they're serving dogshit is, well, inaccurate at best, absurd at worst. CL is in the top few percentile of Toronto restaurants. It isn't a good restaurant if you consider the whole world, but for Toronto, it's something that deserves at least a bit of praise.

              The negative opinions in this thread don't accurately reflect the restaurant, regardless of whether or not I like it.

              1. re: tjr

                I don't know... Squeakycheese has a pretty compelling argument.

                If so many other places in the world can do it better, why should we have to settle for this?

                Even if we have to compare with Toronto standards, I'd still say it's mediocre at best and there are better ways of spending your money in this city. Then again, higher-end dining in this city is seriously lacking compared to other major cities.