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May 4, 2009 10:52 AM

Vdara = disappointment

I had dinner at Vdara (where Habitat used to be) last night and to be honest did not have the greatest experience. I've been in the restaurant/hospitality industry for over 7 years and have a love for food. I did not get the same sentiment from the chef's presentation nor the server last night.

We arrive shortly after 6:30pm to be tucked away in a corner near the patio door, kind of tight but we didn't complain. We were out to celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday, a special day for any family and a nice night out for my grams. Our server greeted the table (did not get his name) and took our drink and food order. Drinks came quickly, however we waited over 30 minutes for our appetizers. We were starving and they were good, so we didn't say anything about the delay. Over the course of the next hour and a half after we received the appetizers, we drank another bottle of wine and waited patiently for our main courses to come out. Our server came over a couple times to apologize for the delay in our entrees, we obliged (what else could we do?!?!). Finally at around 9:00pm our entrees arrived at the table. I ordered the veal medium – it was medium rare with a few parts really rare. My dad’s tiger shrimp with seasoned rice was a small plate with 4 tiny shrimp, I felt like that was a bit of a slap in the face considering we were already unhappy to be eating 2 hours after we had ordered. My grandmother’s food was fine, but just fine, a little upsetting when all we were looking for a nice meal with the family, instead after spending close to $400.00 we got a less than mediocre meal with sub par service.

People say that the corner of Tecumseth and Queen is cursed for restaurants, maybe they’re right!

If you’re looking for a good meal and/or have somewhere to be after dinner – don’t go to Vdara!

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  1. I'm really sorry to hear that you were so unhappy with your evening at Vdara. My experiences there could not be more different. The first time that I went, I was meeting friends for Saturday brunch (maybe in February? I do remember that it was snowing). The food and service were both incredible - we stayed almost 5 hours, through two shifts of waiters! They just let us sit and eat and talk, and kept refilling our coffee and water until we decided it was an acceptable time to order a bottle of Prosecco and some of their delicious homemade potato chips.

    I went for dinner in late March, and again had excellent food and service. We had an assortment of their breads, with a trio of spreads, then I had the braised lamb shank with smashed potatos and sauteed rapini. I recall that I barely poked the shank with my fork, and the meat just fell off the bone, then practically melted in my mouth. At one point there was a brief power outage in the neighbourhood that night, and the staff immediately brought extra candles to our table and ran down to make sure no one was stranded in the washrooms in the dark.

    I was again there for dinner on Friday night, and come to think of it, we stayed a long time on this visit as well - over 4 hours. Not because of slow service, but just because it's such a relaxed place to sit and chat and eat and drink. We had drinks on the patio and ordered "spicy nuts" from the before-dinner menu - a highly addictive mixture of pecans, sunflower seeds, etc. with a sweet and spicy coating. We were also served a free appetizer as the chef was trying out some new dishes. Never in my life would I have ordered tete fromage (see? I don't even want to say it in English!) but I did try it, and I liked it, though I have nothing to compare it to. It was served with toasted baguette spears, grainy mustard and pickled ramps.

    We went inside for dinner, and again, it was delicious. I decided to have two appetizers so I could try more than one item. First up was grilled calamari, which was just slightly tough for me, but was served on top of the lightest, fluffiest gnocchi I've ever tasted, along with sauteed dandelion greens, roasted cherry tomatoes, and I think it was in a sort of broth. Then I had wild bison carpaccio, which was outstanding, and topped with arugula, shaved parmesan, and walnuts. Again, service was extremely attentive, friendly and accommodating. I've now taken 3 different sets of friends here, and can't wait to go back!