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Jun 30, 2009 09:17 PM

Grace - Great Disappointment!

Had dinner at Grace tonight! The verdict - major disappointment resulting from overcooked food!

For appertizers, fellow chowhounder skylineR33, his wife and myself ordered the seared scallops, sweetbread and crispy duck. The sweetbread was a bit overcooked whilst the crispy duck was extremely dry. The two combined to form chunks of unappealing protein.

For mains, we had the grilled whole de-boned seabream and port steak with bone marrow. Once again, the monotonous and sauceless fish was dry and overcooked whilst the steak was kind of tasteless! Plate presentation was very artfully done, which was a shame, since it gave a false impression as to what the food might taste like!

For desserts, we were hoping to give the highly raved home made apple pie a try. Unfortunately, we were told its sold out, so we have to settle for a lemon tart, a butter tart and a cheese cake instead. The desserts fared OK but the lemon tart was a bit too sweet..

Because tomorrow is a public holiday, this might be the reason behind why the restaurant was packed which in turn resulted in the kitchen to be overstressed and under perform!

Mogette, which I tried a few days ago, had better tasting and better value food!

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  1. Thanks Charles for the write up. The seared scallop is the only dish that is good tonight, nice refreshing combination with the tomato. Other than that, the taste of all other dishes and dessert I tried are unremarkable and quite forgettable really. However as always, Charles is a good companion to dine with ! The weather was so nice we had a good walk after the dinner around Littly Italy to burn off some fat, which is the highlight of the night !

    3 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33

      I was also walking around the area burning off caplansky's fat, reward for a hard day's work helping a friend move.

      I had a lacklustre experience at Grace also a few weeks ago, albeit for the Thurs bbq special.

      1. re: aser

        Well. we Richmond hill area chowhounders should put our thoughts together, pick a reliable restaurants and have another mini chow-meet! Hopefully a successful one! Ha!

    2. Hi Charles - yet again we match opinions.
      Grace was a disaster for me a couple of weeks back. I'm pretty certain I wrote it up as I* recall commenting on the lamb pie, and also the asparagus with ramps (which I contrasted with the similar dish at Splandido, which was superb).
      Good basic ingredients which were certainly not enhanced by the preparation!

      7 Replies
      1. re: estufarian

        Harbord Room was our first choice. However, after phoning and e-mailing them X thousand times without a single acknowledgement, we kind of gave up! The kind of frusration we got made us feel like the treatment we received from the Michelin 3* Quintessence in Tokyo?! Tons of calls but no reply! Ha! Anyways, they did call late in the day of our planned outing and told us they have vacancies after 9.30 pm!! Is their food really THAT GOOD to receive such attention? I wonder?!

        1. re: Charles Yu

          Harbord Room is okay; I wouldn't say it's Quintessence special though! Sorry you had to end up at Grace; I also had a bad meal there in the past couple weeks. Pretty much everything I had was overcooked and bland, so perhaps this is a common problem?

          1. re: Charles Yu

            It's just because the room is so ridiculously tiny, there just aren't that many covers. They do have their patio open in the summer though.

            1. re: Charles Yu

              As you know, Quintesssence was my 'worst reservation nightmare' experience too. In second place Schwa in Chicago (although when (if?) you do get through they're extremely friendly - last time 7 calls over 6 weeks - they finally called back 2 days ahead).
              Harbord Room is a good 'local' place - despite the rave reviews - but I just don't get worked up over steak frites or a burger. I find their menu 'interesting but limited' - I struggle to find anything to order - but when I finally choose it is usualy well-prepared. My main objection is the 'extreme' local nature - almost everybody seems to know everybody - and a stranger (such as I) is essentially ignored. Worth a 5-10 minute detour (at best).

              1. re: estufarian

                It's a restaurant trade hangout, because they're open so late. There is definitely a cliquey feel to it.

                1. re: aser

                  "Cliquey feel" is an understatement! If you walk in and aren't part of the industry, it can feel like you are driving though a small town with the locals staring at you with that "you aren't from here are ya?" look.


                  1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                    I'm not part of the industry - so maybe that explains it.
                    Certainly I felt like an outsider - but didn't at Black Hoof - which I understand is similarly supported by the trade.

          2. I actually had a delightful meal at Grace 2-3 weeks ago. Excellent apple "charcuterie" and a perfectly cooked, snow-white pice of fish (halibut, I think). Charming service too. It was my first visit, so maybe I got lucky (ordered the right thing or whatever)??

            10 Replies
            1. re: Rabbit

              Not an unexpected packed house might help too! Yesterday's traffic was like Nota Bene on a Saturday night! Madness!!

              1. re: Rabbit

                The first time I went I quite enjoyed the slow cooked halibut. Not entirely my cup of tea, but interesting. The second time, a couple months ago, the waitress recommended the pork chop with smashed potatoes.

                Bad move. The pork chop was lifeless and the potatoes were inedibly acidic. Any kitchen that can screw up potatoes so badly clearly needs to be taught to taste their food before it goes out, and if they did taste it, and thought it was acceptable, then god help them. I mentioned to the waitress that the potatoes were not good, but got a blank look and that was that.

                Also my wife's pre-dinner cocktail upstairs should've come with the warning "beware pretentious barkeeps who ill-use muddlers".

                1. re: DoNutAlter

                  And Toronto Life rated it better than Loire, Tatti, Mogette, Melanie's, Pastis....etc! Go figure?!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    That's not right in my experience, my meal at Loire is much better than the one at Grace. The fish and steak I had at Loire are prepared in a more simpler way than the one at Grace, but it was so much better in execution.

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      Loire seems to have much better technique in general. I'd definitely recommend it over Grace.

                      1. re: tjr

                        I've been to Grace several times and have only had good experiences. I've been to Loire once and thought it was very mediocre. Maybe I was lucky/unlucky. I hope that people who read these post, go out and decide for themselves.

                        1. re: dubchild

                          Any recommendations on what to order at Grace? I'd consider returning, but not without knowing ahead of time what is decent on the menu.

                          1. re: tjr

                            The items I've been happiest with are: the gnocchi, steak pot pie, pate, orange and arugula salad, roasted beets, carbonara, the homemade pasta (at least on the night we were there), and chocolate souffle.
                            I recently had the steak pot pie at the Queen and Beaver, both dishes are the same price. Try them both and I think you'll see what it is I like about Grace.
                            Desserts have changed a bit, it seems their old menu was a little stronger.
                            When taken as a whole; service, room, each course, wine and price, I find Grace to be one of my favourite bistros. Its up there with Nota Bene and Simple Bistro.
                            In the past, I've posted reviews of Grace and Loire, if you want something more in depth.

                            1. re: tjr

                              Pleae avoid the lamb pot pie. And also the asparagus (if it's still on the menu).

                        2. re: skylineR33

                          I had a fantastic lunch at Loire. The Saint Maure goat cheese with the recommended glass of Vouvray was fantastic and they had a fresh caught pickerel special that was cooked perfectly.

                          Obviously I would go back to Loire before Grace, but my wife would hesitate to go back to either as she was not as impressed with her meal at Loire as I was with mine.

                  2. Hi Charles, I was also there last night and was equally unimpressed.
                    My boyfriend and I had a dozen oysters, which probably needed to be scrubbed a bit better as I got a mouth full of grit with every oyster. We also tried a watermelon, beet and goats cheese salad, which was beautifully presented, but the flavours just didnt go. It was served with a balsamic reduction dressing but you could hardly detect the balsamic- both my boyfriend and I were yearning for more.
                    For mains, I had the gnocchi with tomato and goats cheese. The gnocchi themselves were wonderfully pillowy but the flavours were a bit off- my boyfriend told me it smelled and tasted like a barnyard, and I had to agree, very horsey.
                    My boyfriend had the duck breast with asparagus, brussel sprouts and a mushroom tart. The tar was nice, but the duck was completely overcooked. I have never had such tough duck before, really a shame.
                    For dessert we had the strawberry shortcake, as recommended by our server. Nothing terrible here, but nothing great. I could have stopped eating it after a few bites.
                    Its too bad since I think the menu has great potential. Maybe we had a bad night Charles?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      It's really strange -- it seems like people either really love it, or find the food just doesn't seem to click flavourwise, or is overcooked. Unless we all went the same night, there seems to be some serious consistency issues!

                      1. re: tjr

                        Yah, it could have been an off night.. but I'm not sure if I would try it again any time soon.

                      2. re: hungryabbey

                        Guess so far, the only consistent part of the equation is that Grace's duck are always overcooked, no matter what shape, size or form!! May be the chef should pay France a visit?!