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Is the new Oliver & Bonacini Café in the old Shopsies (Front St.) open yet?

melnumnums Jul 9, 2009 10:08 AM

Is the new Oliver & Bonacini Café in the old Shopsies (Yonge & Front St., across from Hummingbird) open yet?
Desperate for decent brunch/lunch in those quarters.

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  1. g
    Gary RE: melnumnums Jul 9, 2009 10:14 AM

    Not yet, I think the Shopsy's only actually closed about a month ago, even though the deal was announced back in 2008. Martini Boys mentions a "tentative" opening date of November 2009 for the new Oliver & Bonacini.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gary
      melnumnums RE: Gary Jul 9, 2009 10:17 AM

      thank you!

      1. re: Gary
        SMOG RE: Gary Jul 9, 2009 01:25 PM

        I think Toronto Life actually put it at early 2010. Apparently, the renovation required is extensive.

      2. flying101 RE: melnumnums Jul 9, 2009 01:37 PM

        Apparently Oliver & Bonacini read CH

        to quote their twitter page
        "Just stumbled upon this CH post. The new O&B Cafe Grill at Yonge/Front is actually slated to open in early 2010 (Mid-Feb) "

        1. GenevaF RE: melnumnums May 17, 2010 07:03 PM

          Still undergoing renovations...This is O&B's latest twitter post (with twitpic), posted today (May 17, 2010): " Snuck into the new Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill at Yonge/Front today & took some pics of the progress! http://twitpic.com/1nqee2 "

          The recession probably cut them back a bit. The design firm hired for the reno does amazing interiors, very classy. Hopefully they'll be open by July...I really want to go there for my birthday.

          Oliver & Bonacini
          2901 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M2K 1E6, CA

          2 Replies
          1. re: GenevaF
            pantone RE: GenevaF May 19, 2010 10:37 AM

            why not go to Biffs, just a few doors down, same owners (O&B)?

            1. re: GenevaF
              gregclow RE: GenevaF May 19, 2010 10:45 AM

              Official word is mid-June. Could change, of course, but that's what they're telling people.

            2. e
              E.Ster RE: melnumnums Jun 17, 2010 10:03 AM

              Since no one's updated the post, I'll step in and let everyone know that the O&B cafe grill at Yonge and Front is now open, according to their website and Twitter account. (Though their patio will not open until after G20 for obvious reasons). This is pretty exciting for those of us who work in the area, since there actually aren't a lot of good lunch (or dinner) options below King.
              Has anyone been yet? I've seen mixed reviews of the other Cafe Grill locations, but I'm guessing they should be at the top of their game for the first few months at least.

              [Edit: Menus are posted here: http://www.oliverbonacini.com/OurComp...]

              8 Replies
              1. re: E.Ster
                gregclow RE: E.Ster Jun 17, 2010 11:51 AM

                We were there for the official opening party last night, which was held in the side bar/lounge room. It got packed and loud pretty quickly, so we ducked out to the main dining room and had dinner, which was excellent all around, including one of the best (& cooked to order) burgers I've EVER had in Toronto.

                It's a bit spendy to be an everyday spot - Shared app, two mains, shared dessert, glass of wine, pint of beer & 2 coffees ran us just over $100 before tip - but it was worth it considering the quality of food, service and atmosphere/vibe.

                1. re: E.Ster
                  klf RE: E.Ster Jun 17, 2010 12:45 PM

                  We went for lunch today and it was excellent (and packed!). We started with the calamari appetizer, which was very tender and had a delicious caper sauce- this was the real deal...definitely not your typical frozen calamari rings! They kept the squid whole for the most part. I had the ham and gruyere sandwich with fries and my partner had the atlantic salmon salad. The sandwich was tasty and filling - they were very generous with the ham. The fries were ok - they season them with thyme (?) which I liked. The salmon was cooked perfectly.

                  There was one hiccup, which was rectified quickly and professionally. There was a sheet of plastic wrap in the salad - when we notified our server, she was extremely apologetic and immediately took the plate away and had another one made. While we were waiting, they gave us a complementary bowl of mushroom soup, which was very hearty and rich (despite not having any cream or butter). They ended up taking the salad off the bill, which we didn't think was necessary (opening week kitchen mishaps aren't surprising), but we did appreciate it.

                  Excellent, professional service with reasonable lunch options- I couldn't afford to go there everyday, but it's definitely a nice once-a-week treat. While it's a "Dark Wood Furniture" type place, it's definitely not stuffy. We'll be back once the patio's up (the GM came by and had a chat with us about this - should be up the first few weeks of July).

                  1. re: klf
                    Dean Tudor RE: klf Jun 17, 2010 05:24 PM

                    Still, as noted by pantone (above), there is Biff's. We always go there during Winerlicious/Summerlicious at lunch for the GREAT $15 lunch menu...Check it out for July 2010 at the Summerlicious website.

                    1. re: klf
                      fickle RE: klf Jun 18, 2010 07:12 AM

                      Mushroom soup with no dairy? I am so there! Thanks for the heads up, glad to hear there's another option for lunch & dinner in the hood.

                      1. re: klf
                        tj2007 RE: klf Jun 19, 2010 09:16 AM

                        Would you say the cafe is child friendly? Was thinking of taking my husband there for Fathers day brunch, but we have a 6mth old that we would be bringing along.

                        1. re: tj2007
                          klf RE: tj2007 Aug 8, 2010 09:56 AM

                          Sorry this is late, but for anyone else wondering, the place is kid friendly. I went to a baby shower here for Saturday brunch and they were very accommodating with the two little guys in our party (a 2 year old and an 8 month old). We had reservations and made sure to note that high chairs were needed.

                        2. re: klf
                          MeXx RE: klf Jun 28, 2010 09:04 AM

                          Not surprising in terms of rectifying a situation. I've been to their Bayview village location many times and one time they turned me from being an unhappy customer that had to wait 10 minutes just to get utensils and service into one that praised their customer service and tipped accordingly (hint: very well for a lunch). It's rare that you get bad service there (by mistake usually) and they're very very good to turning the situation around. Never have I been to ANY restaurant that was able to change my mood like that. Usually I become very very very picky with every little thing when I get bad service.

                          In terms of the menu, looks very very similar to their Bayview location, without the duck pizza.

                        3. re: E.Ster
                          caviartothegeneral RE: E.Ster Jun 18, 2010 02:25 PM

                          Thanks for posting -- interesting to see them following the Alice Waters lead by selling their own filtered water (still or sparkling). Nice range of VQA on the wine list as well. Will definitely check them out.

                        4. m
                          MeMeMe RE: melnumnums Jun 23, 2010 12:09 PM

                          I had lunch there today. The restaurant is gorgeous - modern design but not cold. The staff are still finding their way but they are super friendly and efficient. The menu is amazing - anyone could find a favourite dish. I had a sandwich and soup - the mushroom soup is my favourite from Jump. Delicious everything. I had a butter tart for dessert ($3.25...seriously) and it was divine. My friend and I ate like Kings...including tax and tip it came to $80. I'll 100% be back and often!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: MeMeMe
                            estufarian RE: MeMeMe Jun 23, 2010 02:10 PM

                            Ok. I'll bite.
                            How can anybody be LESS than 100% back? (Assuming no amputations).

                            1. re: estufarian
                              phoenikia RE: estufarian Jun 23, 2010 08:27 PM

                              And assuming no lost or chipped teeth ;-)

                              Does the soup taste the same as the dairy-free mushroom soup at Auberge du Pommier?

                              I will remember to try the butter tart. I've usually been quite happy with O&B Cafe desserts.

                              1. re: estufarian
                                LTL RE: estufarian Jun 24, 2010 08:21 AM

                                100% used as a synonym for "definitely", I'd assume ;)

                                1. re: estufarian
                                  MeMeMe RE: estufarian Jun 28, 2010 08:11 AM

                                  Funny. I did get a manicure so maybe 99.9% of me will be back. I've actually got another lunch planned there for this week...

                              2. c
                                c.cow RE: melnumnums Aug 8, 2010 09:15 AM

                                Hi all,

                                My parents are heading here tonight before the McCartney concert and they've asked me to tag along - does anyone have any updates on this place? I glanced through the menu and it seems pretty extensive - like they're trying to cover everything. Does anything stand out as particularly good?

                                Any recommendations or warnings would be greatly appreciated!!

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: c.cow
                                  klf RE: c.cow Aug 8, 2010 09:51 AM

                                  I've been back about three times since my first outing and can recommend their classic burger. It has been consistent every time: tasty, juicy, good portion size, and the price isn't bad.

                                  Wasn't impressed with their pasta dishes - the baked gnocchi in particular was small and forgettable.

                                  For dessert, skip the gelato and get the chef's platter (mini desserts), or just the chocolate marquise (a delicious torte that tastes like ferrero rocher).

                                  1. re: klf
                                    gregclow RE: klf Aug 8, 2010 10:02 AM

                                    Agreed on the burger - it's very, very good, at least based on my one visit there. My wife had a tuna dish that was quite good as well.

                                    We didn't try any pasta, but the ones we saw being served near us didn't look too exciting, and any reviews I've seen have noted that they're not very good.

                                    1. re: gregclow
                                      tjr RE: gregclow Aug 8, 2010 10:27 AM

                                      Will they serve the burger rare?

                                      1. re: tjr
                                        gregclow RE: tjr Aug 8, 2010 08:35 PM

                                        I ordered it rare, and while it came a little bit closer to medium rare, it was still pink through much of it, and very juicy.

                                        1. re: tjr
                                          kwjd RE: tjr Aug 9, 2010 07:38 AM

                                          I ordered my burger medium rare and they said they aren't allowed to cook it that way. I then told the waiter to ask the kitchen to cook it as little as possible. When it came there wasn't a hint of pink.

                                          It was still good (for an overcooked burger) and the sides were great (there was coleslaw and a ceasar salad, both near the top I've had in Toronto), but they will not serve burgers rare. I actually thought they would serve it pink because I read what gregclow wrote in this thread before going, so maybe it was different for the launch party?

                                          1. re: kwjd
                                            gregclow RE: kwjd Aug 10, 2010 08:14 AM

                                            The burger I got wasn't served at the launch party. Yeah, we were there for the launch party, but it was held in a separate room to the side of the main dining room. It was more of a cocktails & canapes sort of thing and we were hungry, so we ducked out to the dining room and had dinner from the menu.

                                            It was just a week or so after they'd opened, though, so maybe they've tightened their policy. I just asked for it to be done "as rare as the kitchen is comfortable with" (which is what I generally ask for), and got one that was still quite pink through the centre.

                                  2. j
                                    JPJ RE: melnumnums Aug 9, 2010 08:55 PM

                                    Went there for brunch two weeks ago.

                                    Sat on the patio, it was huge and the decor was well done. The glass they used as a partition really cut down the street noise, you can carry on a conversation without a problem notwithstanding heavy traffic.

                                    Both my wife and I quite liked the decor inside as well. It does a good job of straddling the line between downtown 'hip' and casual.

                                    The service was decent, but the place was fairly empty, no idea what it would be like if they got slammed.

                                    I had poached eggs served on polenta with spicy lamb sausage. My wife had the eggs benedict served with potatoes.

                                    I found my dish a little bland, it had heat from the sausage but it lacked basic seasoning (really salt, given that the heat from the lamb sausage made pepper redundant). My experience is that polenta needs fairly heavy seasoning, whoever made this had a very light hand, too light. Still, the polenta was very creamy, the eggs were perfectly poached and the sausage was good.

                                    My wife's eggs benedict were very good. The Hollandaise was creamy and tangy, the eggs perfectly poached but the star was the cheddar biscuit it was served on, it was exceptionally good. The potatoes were your basic paprika dusted home fries, but they were executed well, except I suspect they are deep fried due to their texture. They were crispy and well seasoned. I would prefer if they pan fried them on did them on a flat top.


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