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Origin - review

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vidkid Mar 26, 2010 09:14 AM

After reading countless blogs and articles hyping the restaurant's opening, I excitedly paid a visit to Origin last night.

I arrived with my dinner companion at 8pm last night. The room was 80% full but it seemed much busier as there was a wealth of staff and the open kitchen had flames licking the ceilings and pans clanging about.

The space itself is quite attractive. Exposed brick, rough wood for the kitchen-bar, floor, and artwork, all illuminated by funky lights and chandeliers. What was most eye-catching were the table-tops. From afar I thought it was speckled granite but it's actually this gray, porous material that looked like rocks you might find at the sea shore. The chairs are comfortable as is the plush banquette, if a bit low.

The menu seems scattered, with tastes from North Africa, Spain, Italy, China, Thailand, and a billion other countries. Normally I'd find such a composition off-putting, as if you're in some tourist restaurant in Bangkok serving pad thai alongside cheeseburgers and pasta primavera. But we accepted the culinary challenge of mixing and matching and dove right in. We asked for the dishes one after the other as not to confound our tastebuds.

1. Burrata + pesto + romesca
This was the weakest of our choices but was still okay. Two bite-sized pieces of grilled calabrese bread were topped with a mound of Ontario burrata sitting in romesca sauce with a drizzle of pesto. The bread was rather tough and made for a poor base. The burrata itself was tasty, but I wish they could get the creamier Italian kind. The romesca was flat and almost tasted aioli-like and not the rich, almond and red-peppery flavour I was hoping for. Would probably not order again.

2. Bangkok beef salad + peanut + mint + mango + fried onion + nam jim dressing
This dish was a standout. The combination of ingredients was not revolutionary, but was perfectly executed to yield a mouthful of flavour each time. The toasted peanuts provided a crunchy counterpoint to the juicy beef strips while the mango and mint tropicalified the dish. The fried onion and nam jim dressing held the whole dish together and gave it its Asian exoticism. Definitely re-order.

3. Grilled rock hen + dates + olives + harissa
This was another menu option that sounded pleasant but you feel like you've had it before a thousand times. Not so here. What I think is the restaurant's hallmark is it's effort to take interesting, approachable dishes but execute them with expert skill with a little flair.

Two little pieces of breast meat and two little drumsticks were juicy and could be eaten without the sauce. But that would be a crime. The mixture of diced Kalamata olives with dried dates and harissa (piri piri chili peppers, I had to Google it) was mop-up worthy (if only they served bread - we didn't ask for any). The union of sweet and spicy and salty was perfect. I wish they had JK-style jars filled with the sauce that you could buy (or steal). Also a re-order.

4. Miso glazed black cod + mushroom broth + jerusalem artichoke puree + crispy soba
Another example of a dish you've had last month, but are happy to have it here again, but better. The black cod is appropriately firm in stature but crumbles at the sight of a fork. The mushrooms retain their bouncy texture while cozying up to the jerusalem artichoke puree (which tasted suspiciously like parsnip). The wild card in this dish was the addition of truffle oil, not listed on the menu. While I think it worked, perhaps other options might have been a tad better (maybe wasabi mixed in the puree?). The deep-friend soba sticking out of the bowl is addictive. It tastes like a cross between a breadstick and raw angel hair pasta. Eat it. Another re-order.

The wine list was somewhat anemic and definitely on the pricier side. We had an $80 bottle of 2007 Penley Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. Certainly over-priced (retails for maybe $30) but nevertheless it was a nice, if fuller-bodied, accompaniment to our meal.

For a restaurant in its first week, service was very good, with regular water and wine refills as well as replacement cutlery after every dish. Before even ordering, a waitress brought a ceviche dish which we thought was a generously sized amuse-bouche. Feeling guilty, I asked her if this was complimentary, upon which she realized her error and ran off, sadly with the dish.

Unexpectedly, another friend today wants to do dinner somewhere new and asked if I had any recommendations. Guess where I'm going for the second day in a row.

BTW, the restaurant has a blog with the menu and a good pic of the kitchen area. I'll be trying out the kitchen-bar tonight. http://origintoronto.com/blog/

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Origin
109 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

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  1. Non Doctor RE: vidkid Mar 26, 2010 09:25 AM

    Good review. Thank you!

    1. ingloriouseater RE: vidkid Mar 26, 2010 10:38 AM

      Thanks for review-I am going next weekend. BTW the Penley is $39.95 at the LCBO if anyone wants to pick it up.

      11 Replies
      1. re: ingloriouseater
        v
        vidkid RE: ingloriouseater Mar 26, 2010 11:41 AM

        Ah, 100% markup, that's not too unusual then. I'll try to get a photo of the wine list tonight.

        1. re: ingloriouseater
          syoung RE: ingloriouseater Mar 31, 2010 05:06 PM

          I don't think so. The one selling at LCBO is the RESERVE, a different wine. The one vidkid drank, in all likelihood, is Penley's Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon that sells (at least in the US) for under $20, but is probably low $20's at LCBO.

          1. re: syoung
            ingloriouseater RE: syoung Apr 1, 2010 12:39 AM

            The Penley Phoenix Cab is $26.95 through B&W Wines, I don't think it is available through LCBO.

            1. re: ingloriouseater
              estufarian RE: ingloriouseater Apr 1, 2010 06:31 AM

              And, of course, that's the retail price, not the licensee price (a few bucks lower).
              The three wines I know from the Origin wine list all retail for under $30 and each had at least a $50 markup (someone on this thread also mentioned a Gamay).
              And, for full disclosure, I've been a long-time critic of the wine list (and markup) at Colborne Lane - which still doesn't admit to having BYOB (although one poster claims to have been charged $50 corkage). And all of that is before tax and tip (another $25+?) - although I don't begrudge a gratuity for the server (unless they just open a twist top and leave the diner to pour for herself all night long).
              To be fair the wine list does show some imagination (at Origin - last time at Colborne Lane it was disastrous, with the only two wines I considered appropriate for the cuisine being out-of-stock). Pity - the food (at Colborne, anyway) has been very good recently.

              -----
              Colborne Lane
              45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

              1. re: estufarian
                TorontoJo RE: estufarian Apr 1, 2010 06:41 AM

                I just booked the kitchen table at Colborne Lane for my birthday dinner. I have a very nice bottle of a '98 champagne that I wanted to bring to dinner and they told me that wasn't a problem, and that the corkage would be $50. So I'm not sure if this is a "secret" policy or what. Odd, really. But I'm very much looking forward to dinner. :)

                -----
                Colborne Lane
                45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

                1. re: TorontoJo
                  estufarian RE: TorontoJo Apr 1, 2010 07:10 AM

                  Yes, the other poster was also in the kitchen table private room - so maybe they now allow it there. And Champagne or Sake are good matches for the food.
                  And the food has been really good recently so I'm sure you'll have a great time - now as for the service.........

                2. re: estufarian
                  ingloriouseater RE: estufarian Apr 1, 2010 06:48 AM

                  liscensee pricing is about 13% lower on average, better deals are available on Ontario direct wines

                  1. re: ingloriouseater
                    estufarian RE: ingloriouseater Apr 1, 2010 07:13 AM

                    Not sure what you mean by 'better deals' - but maybe that's a separate thread anyway. I find that the vast majority of 'Private Imports' are relatively 'low cost' and are aimed at restaurants who can then disguise the markups.
                    Of course there are some 'gems' - I do order private imports from time-to-time (most recently this week) - but it can be a minefield.

                    1. re: estufarian
                      ingloriouseater RE: estufarian Apr 1, 2010 07:20 AM

                      this thread has moved away from the original posting, but i will lastly add that any wine ordering i do from agencies are not 'low cost' per se, many of them are simply great wines unavailable throught he LCBO (granted being able to mark them up is a great advantage) but the wines I buy range from $20-$90 per bottle. For me it is all about what is in the bottle and in most cases for small production and boutique products

                      1. re: ingloriouseater
                        syoung RE: ingloriouseater Apr 1, 2010 10:28 AM

                        My original point was that, as estufarian said based on Colbourne Lane experience, there's little chance that a Claudio Aprile restaurant would mark-up a wine a mere 100% and so it has to be Phoenix Cab rather than the reserve.

                        Re "not available through LCBO," that's not possible in Ontario per the Liquor Control Act, though only a fraction are sold through LCBO outlets which is probably what you mean. I also do consignment orders from time to time, but only for wines that I cellar.

                        1. re: syoung
                          ingloriouseater RE: syoung Apr 1, 2010 10:30 AM

                          re: lcbo, of course you are correct, no wine may be brought into the province and sold without the government's control.

          2. y
            Yum2MyTum RE: vidkid Mar 26, 2010 11:10 AM

            Thanks for the review, vidkid!

            1. s
              SMOG RE: vidkid Mar 26, 2010 12:35 PM

              Excellent, so nice to read a positive review for such a new place. You listed four dishes here. Would you say that 4 dishes are adequate for a full dinner for 2 people?

              1 Reply
              1. re: SMOG
                v
                vidkid RE: SMOG Mar 27, 2010 04:50 PM

                I'm a big eater and was satisfied with the 4 dishes but I could have gone for a 5th.

              2. v
                vidkid RE: vidkid Mar 27, 2010 05:34 PM

                I think this was the first time I've been to the same restaurant over two consecutive days and I can say it was an excellent decision.

                I requested seats at the kitchen-bar at 8:30pm for my companion and I when I made the reservation. We arrived on time, but had to wait ~10 min for our seats to be ready. We had drinks at the bar - a perfectly mixed gin martini and a glass of whiskey.

                We were pleasantly surprised when we were led to our seats as they were directly in front of chef Claudio Aprile's station. Without a doubt they were the best seats in the house as you could observe him crafting incredible pieces and instructing his staff on composition and such. We spoke with him briefly and he's a calm and cool individual.

                Alright, enough delaying, to the food...

                1. Three oysters in the half shell + yuzu dressing
                The oysters were different from the previous night but sadly I can't recall the names of either. They were from PEI and looked like kumamotos (but were not) in that they were quite small but firm. If you don't like "fishy" oysters, you'll enjoy this dish as the yuzu dressing provides a nice citrusy boost without overwhelming the oyster itself. They were garnished with a super-thin slice of radish and a sprinkling of scallions. Would re-order.

                2. Bufala mozzarella + confit tomato + basil + preserved lemon
                While I was nervous about the calabrese bread (see previous review), I'm glad my dinner companion this night pushed for this dish. The bufala was creamy (even more so than the burrata) and the tomato/basil/lemon combos gave the dish a nice, healthy Italian flavour. The bread was perfectly grilled (I love that taste) and the dish worked very well. Re-order.

                3. Italian ham + multi grain bread + olive oil
                How brave of a restaurant to put a dish as seemingly boring as this and for $17 no less. It was terrific in its simplicity. Three long slices of grilled calabrese (again, perfect) were heaping with thinly sliced Italian ham with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of of mustard (looked and tasted like Kozlik's). The dish was very meaty in a good way. Re-order.

                4. Grilled rock hen + dates + olives + harissa
                Just as the previous night - awesome. See previous review.

                5. Chorizo + manchego rice + poached egg + salsa verde + dried black olive
                This was the weakest dish of the night. It was quite heavy and would be better served as a greasy breakfast. The chorizo was quite fatty (IMO Torito still serves the city's best ) but still decent. The rice was very manchegoey (essentially a risotto) and made even more viscous once the well-poached egg flooded the plate. While we did eat the entire plate, it totally filled us up, like noodles or rice at the end of a 10-course Chinese dinner. Probably not a re-order.

                We had a $76 French Gamay by Pascal Granger (pic of the wine list attached). It was nicely medium-bodied with a good balance of fruit and tart.

                Along with Guu, Origin is without a doubt one of the city's best new restaurants in recent memory.

                -----
                Torito
                276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

                Origin
                109 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

                 
                1. haggisdragon RE: vidkid Mar 31, 2010 08:10 AM

                  What is the price range please?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: haggisdragon
                    m
                    mramage RE: haggisdragon Mar 31, 2010 08:19 AM

                    If you go to the blog that is listed in the OP above, and go to the second page, you can see the entire menu with prices.

                    1. re: haggisdragon
                      ingloriouseater RE: haggisdragon Mar 31, 2010 12:51 PM

                      the menu is on the website with prices

                      1. re: ingloriouseater
                        p
                        phoenikia RE: ingloriouseater Mar 31, 2010 01:38 PM

                        menu from origin's blog:
                        http://origintoronto.com/blog/?p=365

                    2. f
                      fickle RE: vidkid Apr 23, 2010 01:08 PM

                      A group of us went last Friday for dinner and had a chance to sample some of the recommended highlights posted here. They did a fantastic job with the space. Our table was perfect for sharing, the tops are slightly longer than your average table which allowed for numerous dishes to be spread out spaciously. We had very good service (our waiter was able to recommend and describe all our queries). Our food arrived promptly, perhaps a touch too fast. We had:
                      smoked cod croquettes + saffron aioli - very tasty
                      tostones & guacamole - simple, well executed and delicious
                      deviled eggs + gremolata + smoked bacon - one of the best deviled eggs I've ever had, the gremolata was a nice touch.
                      bangkok beef salad + peanut + mint + mango + fried onion + nam jim dressing - very very tasty
                      italian ham + multi grain bread + olive oil - again simple, well executed and delicious
                      wokked & fried calamari + caramelized peanut sauce + pineapple - loved the peanut sauce that came with this dish
                      miso glazed black cod + mushroom broth + jerusalem artichoke puree + crispy soba - my favourite of the evening, the cod was beautifully cooked fish, the broth was flavourful, the crispy soba added a nice playful touch to the overall dish
                      after 3 chili beef + cantonese black bean sauce - weakest dish of the evening, I would not order this one again
                      three oyster in half shell + yuzu dressing - good

                      I didn't sample the following but perhaps my dining companions will chip in about:
                      bufala mozzarella + pear + rosemary oil + pinenuts + honey
                      potatas bravas
                      chorizo + manchego rice + poached egg + salsa verde + dried black olives

                      The dulce de leche + espresso ice + caramel crunch + sea salt and the caramelized brioche + walnut praline + honey yogurt sorbet were declared the hits of the dessert round. The spiced chocolate pudding + formage fraise + frozen aerated milk chocolate unfortunately didn't impress as much as we had hoped.

                      We'll be back, especially for a ringside seat at the kitchen bar, a few cocktails (the Bastardo was particularly tasty!) and a chance to sample the rest of the menu!

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: fickle
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                        phoenikia RE: fickle Apr 23, 2010 02:04 PM

                        Great review, fickle! Looking fwd to trying Origin soon.

                        1. re: fickle
                          d
                          drjolt RE: fickle Apr 24, 2010 01:26 PM

                          The miso glazed black cod sounds very similar to one of the dishes in the recent Colborne Lane tasting menu. Do you know if it is the same dish?

                          -----
                          Colborne Lane
                          45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

                          1. re: drjolt
                            Charles Yu RE: drjolt Apr 24, 2010 03:54 PM

                            I find everywhere I go these days, be it NYC, Hong Kong, London, Toronto, Vancouver....etc Every one is copying Nobu's Miso glazed Black Cod! I wish someone can be more 'ORIGINal'!!

                            1. re: Charles Yu
                              Googs RE: Charles Yu May 15, 2010 10:37 AM

                              Don't knock it 'til you've tried it, Charles Yu. Me likey Origin. If you don't want his miso-glazed black cod, then have something else. This place hits that sweet spot between cool guy hang-out and fine dining. While it's neither completely, it's a good dose of both. (Take note, Ame. This is how it's done.) I'm certain I'll find myself there regularly.

                              1. re: Googs
                                d
                                drjolt RE: Googs May 15, 2010 11:04 AM

                                Is it supposed to be insanely salty?

                                1. re: drjolt
                                  Googs RE: drjolt May 15, 2010 11:13 AM

                                  No sir, it is not. You're right in that it may be a preference/tolerance issue. I don't take kindly to salt myself, though.

                                  Hard to know what explains your (forgive my presumption, no harm intended) one experience with that dish. As I said to Charles regarding Origin, if that one doesn't tickle your fancy there are plenty of other dishes to choose from.

                                  1. re: Googs
                                    d
                                    drjolt RE: Googs May 15, 2010 12:56 PM

                                    Yes, only one experience. That's why I was wondering whether it was purely preference or potentially poor execution. Looking forward to trying to other dishes, certainly!

                                    1. re: drjolt
                                      TorontoJo RE: drjolt May 15, 2010 01:20 PM

                                      It's salty, but it's not supposed to be overwhelmingly so. The first time I had it, it was perfect, the second time was too salty. I'm guessing that someone had a heavy hand with the miso the second time. But yeah, there are so many other great dishes on the menu that it's easy to just skip the cod altogether.

                                2. re: Googs
                                  TorontoJo RE: Googs May 15, 2010 01:24 PM

                                  That's a really good assessment, Googs. We took my visiting sister-in-law (in from small-town Ontario) there and she loved it. While she appreciates good food, she's not into stuffy fine dining atmosphere. Origin felt "hip" and "city" to her without being mindlessly trendoid. I've found the service to be very good so far, as well.

                                  1. re: Googs
                                    Charles Yu RE: Googs May 15, 2010 05:22 PM

                                    Thanks Googs! Not right now since I just had the original Nobu's version in Hong Kong a few weeks ago. I'll give it a try after I rest my palette. Too much food during the past few weeks!

                                    1. re: Charles Yu
                                      Googs RE: Charles Yu May 16, 2010 06:43 AM

                                      We should all have your problems, Charles.

                                      1. re: Googs
                                        jlunar RE: Googs May 16, 2010 11:40 AM

                                        seriously. :)

                                    2. re: Googs
                                      j
                                      JennaBean RE: Googs Jun 9, 2010 10:43 AM

                                      I actually prefer the Ame cod Googs and I think it is much closer to the Nobu verision if that's worth anything....

                                  2. re: drjolt
                                    TorontoJo RE: drjolt Apr 24, 2010 04:02 PM

                                    It is the same, which makes me very happy, as Colborne Lane's miso black cod is the best rendition I've had, including Nobu. Claudio Aprile definitely has a fine touch with fish and seafood.

                                    -----
                                    Colborne Lane
                                    45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

                                    1. re: TorontoJo
                                      d
                                      drjolt RE: TorontoJo Apr 25, 2010 02:35 PM

                                      I suppose I just don't have enough experience with it. It was probably my least favorite course on the tasting menu because of its saltiness. I had trouble getting it down. But if people really like it, I suppose it's just a preference issue.

                                3. Flexitarian RE: vidkid Apr 23, 2010 06:54 PM

                                  Interesting article in the Toronto Star today about Origin. Aprile appears to be extremely senstive to what bloggers write about his restaurant. The link:

                                  http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Flexitarian
                                    d
                                    dubchild RE: Flexitarian Apr 26, 2010 10:33 AM

                                    We ate at Origin two nights ago. Chef Aprile has given people what they want; a great room, good food, and reasonable prices. We had a couple of drinks and stuffed ourselves for just under $100 a head including tax and tip. With strategical ordering, one could eat well for $60 a head.

                                    We tried several dishes. There was disagreement on which were hit or misses, which I put down to people's personal preference. I thought most dishes were above average. My favourites were; the devilled eggs, oysters, lamb chop, rock hen, caramelized brioche, and beet salad. Even items which I wasn't crazy about, like the samosas, I might still order because they share well for a table of four and are nice as a small piece.

                                    My only complaints are; we had to wait 30 minutes for our table which we reserved and no compensation was offered, sharing cutlery should be brought out for dishes which will obviously be shared, and the cheese plate costs $18 for 3 one ounce pieces of cheese. But despite this I would gladly go back, the overall experience was worth it.

                                    It seems my experience is very different from Amy Pataki's. I found the flavours balanced and bright. The exception being the meat in the handrolls got lost in the mix. We didn't expect to share every course with the table; trying to split a small course four ways says more about the table than the kitchen. If feta cheese and fish sauce don't mix, then don't order them. Finally, the DOA hummus was about one tablespoon of a larger dish, the double lamb chop was flavourful and a deal at $11.

                                    What Pataki or any reviewer has to say about Origin won't really matter. If the place maintains its consistency, it will remain busy, because it gives people what they want. Congradulations to Aprile for adding a welcome addition to Toronto's food scene.

                                  2. p
                                    peppermint pate RE: vidkid May 14, 2010 04:37 AM

                                    I really want to try this spot - do they have a bar area where we might have luck with an early dinner tonight (i.e. no reservation)?

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: peppermint pate
                                      TorontoJo RE: peppermint pate May 14, 2010 05:10 AM

                                      Yes, half of the space is a really nice bar/lounge area. The restaurant side has a chefs bar, where you can watch the kitchen at work, but those are the best seats in the house, so are diffiicult to get. I actually think if you go early, you can probably get a table -- they don't seem to get busy until after 8. Here are my recs from the two times I've been:

                                      My favourites:
                                      - deviled eggs (don't ask me why, but they are just perfect in their simplicity)
                                      - tostones w/guacamole
                                      - grilled rock hen
                                      - miso glazed black cod (though it's a major salt hit)
                                      - chorizo with manchego rice and dried black olives
                                      - bangkok beef salad (the barest touch too sweet, but still delicious)
                                      - wok fried calamari
                                      - dulce de leche dessert (it's a must)
                                      - banana cream pie (also a must)

                                      Good, but not in my "must reorder" list:
                                      - bufallo mozzarella w/pears, pine nuts and honey
                                      - curried shrimp w/naan
                                      - italian ham
                                      - smoked cod croquettes (if you like smoked fish, these would be amazing, but it's just not my thing)

                                      Avoid:
                                      - potatas bravas (now called spanish home fries, I think)
                                      - after 3 chili beef

                                      Enjoy and let us know what you think!

                                      1. re: TorontoJo
                                        p
                                        peppermint pate RE: TorontoJo May 14, 2010 05:16 AM

                                        Excellent - thanks - and would you agree that 4 or 5 dishes would be about the right amount for 2 of us (with decent appetites)? I already want to try more than 5 dishes!!

                                        1. re: peppermint pate
                                          Jacquilynne RE: peppermint pate May 15, 2010 02:46 PM

                                          Having been there once, I'd say it would depend on which dishes they were, really. Some of the dishes are a fairly significant amount of food, and some are rather a lot less. I think 4-5 would probably be a little on the light side, unless you aimed for the larger, heavier dishes like the manchego rice.

                                          1. re: Jacquilynne
                                            s
                                            SMOG RE: Jacquilynne May 16, 2010 06:37 AM

                                            When we were there, we have 6 dishes + 2 desserts. One was the salt cod fritters, one was a salad, two hand rolls and 2 hot dishes. We were comfortably full, but could have probably had one more main dish without being overstuffed. Again, all depends on what you're getting. Our dishes were on the lighter side with mainly protein and veg.

                                        2. re: TorontoJo
                                          TorontoJo RE: TorontoJo May 14, 2010 05:20 AM

                                          Oh, and just to give an idea of cost -- the first time I was there was with a bunch of chowhounds and the cost was $90/person, all in (1 cocktail or glass of wine each). The second time I was there was with non-hounds and the cost was $70/person, all in (1 glass of wine each). We ordered a lot more on my first visit! :)

                                      2. Rabbit RE: vidkid May 14, 2010 05:30 AM

                                        I tried to book a reservation at Origin for a small-ish group (ten) and they turned it into the biggest production ever. We wanted a fun and casual dinner, but they wanted us to pre-order from set menus and there was all this to- and fro-ing with a manager (who was very nice, but did not make our life easy). All the fun and spontaneity was soon leached out of the evening and we cancelled and made our rez at another spot where they seemed less overwhelmed by the prospect of what really is a relatively small group.

                                        I'm still eager to try this restaurant once I get the slightly bad taste from my mouth... but I'll go with a smaller party.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Rabbit
                                          TorontoJo RE: Rabbit May 14, 2010 07:02 AM

                                          Oh, pooh, Rabbit, I'm sorry to hear that! I was so sure that Origin would be perfect for what you were looking for. I hope you guys have a good time at your alternate spot.

                                        2. d
                                          dubchild RE: vidkid May 14, 2010 05:37 AM

                                          I liked Origin and would definitely go back, but I would avoid any busy night. They are open on Sundays and are now open for lunch.

                                          1. p
                                            peppermint pate RE: vidkid May 17, 2010 01:05 PM

                                            My husband and I enjoyed a truly wonderful evening at Origin the other night - we came, we sat, we ate, we drank, we chilled, we LOVED it.

                                            As others have said, this place is one of the few I know that almost perfectly straddles that very delicate line between groovy chill lounge and destination chow restaurant. We didn't have a reservation but were able to find a couple of free spots on the couch on the lounge side of the restaurant. I really liked the interior - funky lights, comfy furniture, rich earthy colour palette and lots and lots of texture. Sitting in the lounge allowed us to enjoy a wonderful date night - side by side, we ordered one dish at a time and just chilled for about 3 hours. There was no time pressure, we were able to savour and appreciate the flavours and texture of each dish on its own, digest a bit between courses and take in the vibe from the surrounding room. We had a lovely, fun and friendly waitress as well as brief encounters with a bunch of other servers who would bring us drinks and drop off our dishes - service was polished and friendly all around.

                                            And now the food...we ended up eating 6 dishes: Deviled eggs + gremolata + bacon - definitely tasty and interesting combination of textures. A great deviled egg to be sure but for me, still an egg and not really what I'm craving at that time of day. Glad I tried it but probably wouldn't reorder. Tostones + guacamole - a perfect combination of crispy, salt-licked plantain chips with creamy, rich guacamole. Tasted great with our beer. Next was the salmon tataki with soy sprouts + ponzu + daikon - delicious. It's not as though you haven't had this combination before but it's just so well executed - bright, citrus ponzu with barely seared fresh salmon and crispy daikon. I literally drank the sauce from the bowl. The Bangkok beef salad was a real highlight, though I would agree with TorontoJo that it was just slightly too sweet (one bite felt like a bit of a beer nut sugar explosion in my mouth) - other than that, it was just a great combination of flavour and texture. We were tempted to order this dish again but opted to keep working our way through the menu. To "clear the palette", we tried the ham with multigrain bread and olive oil and mustard seed next - really good. I was surprised that they served it with flatbread which didn't quite hold up to the cured meat (it just broke apart) - I see in one of the other posts that someone else had it with grilled calabrese - I imagine that would be better. Last on our list was the wok fried calamari with caramelized peanut sauce and pineapple - beautiful rings of fried calamari in a sweet (again, just a titch too sweet for me) rich, peanuty sauce. Very more-ish.

                                            3 hours, a feast of flavours and a handful of beers later, we were a bit stunned to get a bill for only $120. Great value. Claudio Aprile was in attendance (mostly fiddling with the sound board) - we said hello and told him how much we enjoyed our evening.

                                            My only negative would be the sound level - it was up and down throughout the evening but mostly on the loud side. For us, sitting side by side, it added to the fun ambiance and we quite liked it. But if we had been a table of four or larger or just not as partial to that kind of vibe in a restaurant, it would definitely get in the way of conversation. Oh yeah, and the bathroom sinks were weird - no faucet to speak of and you pretty much had to get your hands on the bottom of the sink to reach the water.

                                            But those are tiny tweaks in an otherwise superb evening. I agree that alongside Buca and Guu, we have yet another fantastic new spot in the city. With so much more of the menu to explore and already a few dishes I want to order again, I can't wait to go back.

                                            -----
                                            Guu
                                            398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                                            Buca
                                            604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

                                            1. estufarian RE: vidkid Jun 7, 2010 07:21 AM

                                              I finally tried Origin - and was impressed.
                                              I've been vociferous in the past on the wine choices (or lack of same) at Colborne Lane, even though I think the food there has been excellent this year.
                                              So I tried Origin, determined to skip the wine (if necessary) and have to admit I was prepared to be critical (although I hope open-minded).

                                              And I did order wine - competent for sure, but it was the whole meal that impressed. Not a miss among the 8 courses (total) and several real hits. For me, the duck and the shrimp curry were the favourites - but keep that curry until the end, as anything following it will struggle.

                                              I'm not sure how other people kept their spend so low (our bill reached around $250 for two) but the service was superb, the food was perfectly prepared and served immediately it was ready (I saw servers 'drop' the dirty dishes they had cleared to pick up newly cooked dishes, and then return to complete the dish clearing).
                                              The kitchen ran as well as any I've seen perform in recent Toronto memory.
                                              My wine (and our bottled water) were regularly refilled as soon as the level diminished.

                                              I'll be back.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: estufarian
                                                jlunar RE: estufarian Jun 7, 2010 08:45 AM

                                                I went last night and found it to be lacklustre for me. And I really wanted to like it. Service felt unpolished and the dishes we got ranged from okay to just bad.

                                                Perhaps it was the dish selection we were given - we had wanted the kitchen to send out their best, but our waitress was the one to select dishes for us instead. I feel like I could have ordered better, and I feel like I should go back and do so to give them a fair shake. However, if what they sent out to us was the best they have, then well... that's no good either.

                                                What were the dishes you ordered? I'd be curious on what your meal set-up was like. We had these awful hand-rolls sent... soggy nori and mushy rice was not a good combo. I think that was the beef one in particular that made me sad-faced. I also didn't like their fries or its presentation in the glass with the soggy paper making access to said fries difficult.

                                                I like the vibe and I like the layout. I did like the miso-cod and the tostones. The latter especially. The kitchen was interesting to watch.

                                                1. re: jlunar
                                                  estufarian RE: jlunar Jun 7, 2010 09:40 AM

                                                  I was there last week (but away at the weekend so didn’t have time to post immediately).

                                                  Started with the steamed sugar snaps (excellent flavour – but not as ‘snappy’ as some I’ve had) and the Potatas Bravas (agree the serving glass was awkward, but had no issue with the contents – perfectly crisp with the toppings – chorizo and a mayonnaise (?) - excellent texture).

                                                  The Bangkok Beef Salad was satisfying – again texturally excellent with the chewiness of the beef and crispiness of the onions.

                                                  The chinois duck wrap was great textures and flavours – perfectly balanced, and the duck was totally non-greasy and had the texture of ‘pulled duck’.
                                                  The wokked calamari was ‘al dente’ – again the texture was good with the peanuts, although the pineapple (which was cold) was a bit jarring.
                                                  Grilled lamb chops were – OK I guess, I hardly recall them – certainly not with distaste
                                                  The curried shrimp (with Naan) was my favourite – maybe too spicy for some, but just lit up my mouth – but certainly should be the last main.(NOTE: It was the restaurant that decided the order of service - I particularly note that they served shrimp as the last main course, so somebody has noted that this is more robust than even the lamb course).

                                                  And the dishes were served in the order I've listed - and we never had more than 2 dishes at a time (on a very busy night).

                                                  Desserts were pretty good too
                                                  I preferred the caramelized brioche with honey yoghurt sorbet, but no (serious) complaints with the dulce de leche and caramel crunch – I just prefer a little more acid (but again a personal preference).

                                                  And another comment on the service - which was excellent - our dishes were brought by about 4 different servers - as soon as the dish was ready, service was called for and EVERYTHING came out immediately at the correct temperature. A far cry from service at Colborne Lane which has been somewhere between patchy and awful.

                                                  My biggest complaint was the website – I tried three times to access the site and it crashed my browser all three times. When will people learn that we want info (not Flash) when we search for a restaurant?

                                                  And a final thought - I am usually critical of open kitchens - the main reason I never liked the old JK Wine Bar/Kitchen. It bothers me that the aromatics wafting forth are mostly from other peoples' dishes, so I get, for example, rosemary with my sardines (or whatever). But here I didn't detect any untoward 'cross over' . And I was sat close to the kitchen.

                                                  1. re: estufarian
                                                    jlunar RE: estufarian Jun 7, 2010 11:47 AM

                                                    Thanks, I'll take note of that if I return! I'm glad others have had a good time. Maybe it's just crotchety old me!

                                              2. ms. clicquot RE: vidkid Jun 7, 2010 11:22 AM

                                                Mr. C and I went to Origin this past weekend for the first time and really enjoyed it. We were looking for some place to dine late and got a reservation for 10:15. I was a bit nervous that we would be facing a half-empty room with tired service and sloppy food by that time but when we arrived the place was packed and buzzing. The service was excellent - efficient and polite without being intrusive.

                                                Our waiter recommended sharing five or six dishes but we'd had some charcuterie at Crush Wine Bar earlier in the evening (very good, btw) so we went with four: the burrata with romesco, the chorizo, the duck wrap and the miso cod. Everything was delicious but my favourites were the chorizo and the cod. I know miso cod is served everywhere these days (I've even made it at home) but Origin's version is quite outstanding. We were too full for dessert but maybe next time. Overall it was a great experience and I look forward to trying more of their menu.

                                                1. c
                                                  childofthestorm RE: vidkid Jun 9, 2010 08:14 AM

                                                  Finally checked out Origin, and while I enjoyed some aspects of the meal, I was a bit disappointed overall and probably won't go back.

                                                  The room itself to me is a bit over-designed, with every trend of the last 5 years kind of thrown against the wall. The Edison bulbs, the exposed matte-black ductwork, the open kitchen, the Banksy-esque mural...all that was missing was a pressed-tin ceiling. And yeah, it's LOUD in there - the place was packed at 8pm at a Tuesday, which is great to see.

                                                  We started with some drinks, my wife had the "Old Spice" cocktail which was a really tasty cedar-infused rye concoction. I had a beer. We then ordered a terrific bottle of Gruner Veitliner to go with our meal, which at $73 was more than I wanted to spend, but previous posters are correct in that there is a dearth of affordable wine options on the small list.

                                                  The food - started with the smoked cod croquettes which were delicious, the saffron aioli was a nice complement. We also had a salmon tataki which was very simple and elegant, served in a ponzu sauce. Finally, we ordered from the mozzarella bar, which I wasn't planning on doing but my wife gravitated to it instantly. We had the bufala mozzarella with pine nuts, honey, pear and rosemary oil, and it was a mistake, just too sweet by far for mid-meal, and I felt a little bummed paying $15 for three little chunks of mozz.

                                                  The hot dishes were a letdown.We had the curried shrimp and naan, definitely a hybrid dish as the main note in the curry was lemongrass which isn't Indian at all. No problem there, but the shrimp were overcooked, and the curry really lacked in heat. As well, the naan was grilled and rather doughy and saggy - I'm not expecting a place like this to run a tandoor, but knowing I could have a better curry shrimp and naan for half the price virtually anywhere, ah well, again a mis-order. We also had the much-praised rock hen with harissa and I found this to be uninspired - frankly I could make it at home with my Weber + a pot of harissa + some poultry stock, which I know is not the point but I just wasn't dazzled.

                                                  Service was awesome throughout, I really liked our server and she paced the dishes well. But with tax and tip, bill came out to $237. Sure, we had six dishes, a bottle of wine, a cocktail and a beer, but at that price point I could eat virtually anywhere in the city. So given the hit-and-miss nature of the meal, we won't return, just a tad rich for my blood.

                                                  16 Replies
                                                  1. re: childofthestorm
                                                    grandgourmand RE: childofthestorm Jun 9, 2010 08:24 AM

                                                    Good review...we're booked for Friday, but could reconsider.

                                                    As an aside...where do you get your prawn curry?

                                                    1. re: grandgourmand
                                                      c
                                                      childofthestorm RE: grandgourmand Jun 9, 2010 08:28 AM

                                                      When I was eating the prawns last night, I was thinking about The Host's version, which ok isn't half the price, but super delicious. But I also was pondering the one I get from the cheap takeaway Makkah on the Danforth, believe it or not - they use real charcoal in their tandoor and the prawns are nice and spicy.

                                                      I should have ordered the miso cod at Origin instead, but it's just so darn ubiquitous.

                                                      -----
                                                      Makkah Restaurant
                                                      1020 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1M2, CA

                                                      1. re: childofthestorm
                                                        grandgourmand RE: childofthestorm Jun 9, 2010 08:32 AM

                                                        Oh yeah, Makkah and their charcoal. And it's Basque's hardwood lump, no less. I love their wings and kebabs are pretty good. Will have to try the prawns. Didn't know they made them in the tandoor.

                                                        Re: Origin....seems like a few people have been disapointed by the mozzarella offerings. That's unfortunate, as it's one of my wife's favourite things.

                                                        -----
                                                        Makkah Restaurant
                                                        1020 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1M2, CA

                                                        1. re: grandgourmand
                                                          Googs RE: grandgourmand Jun 10, 2010 05:38 AM

                                                          gg, I like Origin a whole lot. However, from what I can glean about you this isn't your kinda place. I'd suggest dropping in for a cocktail to get a read on it. If you get there and you don't like, it's easy walking distance to Harlem, Starfish, etc.

                                                    2. re: childofthestorm
                                                      y
                                                      Yum2MyTum RE: childofthestorm Jun 9, 2010 08:30 AM

                                                      thanks for the review childofthestorm. that really is pretty pricey for what you received. Perhaps I'll just save my money for elsewhere...

                                                      1. re: Yum2MyTum
                                                        s
                                                        SMOG RE: Yum2MyTum Jun 9, 2010 10:33 AM

                                                        Sounds like the price has a lot to do with the wine. When I was there, we had 6 dishes + 2 desserts and 3 cocktails. Our total with tax and tip was $155. I thought it was reasonable for what we got, especially since the cocktails were somewhat pricey.

                                                        1. re: SMOG
                                                          pinstripeprincess RE: SMOG Jun 9, 2010 10:49 AM

                                                          absolutely! i'm finding more and more that if i go out with people who drink a reasonable amount (i don't drink much) the alcohol part of the bill often makes up almost half the bill, no sweat.

                                                          a pricey cocktail + beer is probably about $20, plus a $73 bottle of wine pre tax... i'm not sure how childofthestorm tips but take away approx %15 tip and the tax and you're left with a total bill of $185... double the drinks tab.

                                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                            c
                                                            childofthestorm RE: pinstripeprincess Jun 9, 2010 11:52 AM

                                                            Tip = 17% (they had the one-button option for that and I'm lazy). Yup, we were definitely boozing, but I do this everywhere cuz I'm a liquor pig and it's rarely this pricey. The last two meals I had that were around $250 were at Zen and Splendido - and both were, um, better.

                                                            It would be nice to have a few more decent $40 bottles on the menu at Origin but they're not alone in this. I swear, whenever I am down in NY eating out I realize just how outrageous wine prices are in Toronto restaurants.

                                                            1. re: childofthestorm
                                                              s
                                                              SMOG RE: childofthestorm Jun 9, 2010 12:14 PM

                                                              I definitely don't disagree with your way of looking at it. If I understand you correctly, you're saying that in order to have the same food amount and alcohol quality as in other places (like Splendido), you have to get the bill to $250. At places like Origin, I tend to stick to mixed drinks and beer, so I never get into pricey wine. I think it also depends on what you order, as some of the dishes are pricey and small and others are cheaper and more filling.

                                                              -----
                                                              Splendido
                                                              88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

                                                              1. re: childofthestorm
                                                                pinstripeprincess RE: childofthestorm Jun 9, 2010 12:27 PM

                                                                oh i don't doubt how much value you felt was in your meal, i just find that all in sums aren't very reflective of what a meal might cost someone else, especially because of the exorbitant cost of alcohol in toronto. you were very fair in noting the cost of your bottle of wine so it was easy to figure out that your food bill was similar to the others reporting back here.

                                                                but how you reached a $250 tab at zen, that i would LOVE to know. what special items were you getting to boost your tab so much!?

                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                  c
                                                                  childofthestorm RE: pinstripeprincess Jun 9, 2010 01:13 PM

                                                                  The toro in the omakase was so good we asked the chef to give us another round, plus we ordered a pretty good bottle of sake, and two beers apiece, and a few different hot appetizers before we split the sushi and sashimi omakase. I think it was actually around $220 with tax and tip. Man do I sound like a pig or what.

                                                                  1. re: childofthestorm
                                                                    p
                                                                    peppermint pate RE: childofthestorm Jun 9, 2010 02:10 PM

                                                                    On the contrary, you sound like my kinda chow companion (though you're on your own for the bar tab)...:)

                                                              2. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                p
                                                                peppermint pate RE: pinstripeprincess Jun 9, 2010 11:56 AM

                                                                Ditto from me. When we went, we had 6 dishes and 5 beers and our pre-tip bill was $120, much closer to SMOG's numbers - we thought it was tremendous value.

                                                                Yum2MyTum - I didn't steer you wrong with the funghi pizza at Buca now, did I? For you and the others on this board, I would really encourage you to try this place. I think the flavours and, as many have mentioned, the textures of the food are really fresh and interesting - not always the most unique inventions but tremendously well executed. There are tons of dishes to choose from - for me, the highlights were the tostones, Bangkok salad and the calamari. Liked the salmon tataki as well. And order one dish at a time so you can truly appreciate the flavours. Great service, fun energy, cool room - I do think you're missing out if you scratch this one off your list. I think that even childofthestorm had a lot of hits but just felt it wasn't wow enough for the price (which, at $237, is hard to disagree with).

                                                                1. re: peppermint pate
                                                                  y
                                                                  Yum2MyTum RE: peppermint pate Jun 9, 2010 12:02 PM

                                                                  tee hee called out! Thanks for the reminder peppermint pate. I'll report back when I give it a shot - hopefully soon.

                                                                  I guess I've just been made a bit nervous by a couple of wacko bills recently and less willing to dish out my hard earned cash on a non-guaranteed good (read: delicious) time. I certainly want to support any restaurants offering "tremendous value" in Toronto as sometimes I can't help but feel there is a dearth in our fine city.

                                                                  1. re: Yum2MyTum
                                                                    p
                                                                    peppermint pate RE: Yum2MyTum Jun 9, 2010 12:14 PM

                                                                    No problem Yum, glad to talk you down off the ledge.

                                                                    I don't know that I would put Origin on my shortlist of "great value" restaurants (for which I actually think Toronto has a lot of great choices - hmm, do I smell a new thread?) but for us, when we took into account the long, lovely evening we had, our full tummies after 6 mostly great dishes, the friendly and polished service, good beers, fun room, etc. - our $120 bill was a very pleasant surprise. I'll look forward to your report.

                                                                    1. re: peppermint pate
                                                                      g
                                                                      ggom1 RE: peppermint pate Jun 9, 2010 06:41 PM

                                                                      I would agree that Origin is a good value overall. I went with two friends and between us I think we had 3 cocktails, 2 beers, a glass of wine + 10 dishes and after tax and tip I think we paid under $80 each. The curried shrimp was actually one of our favourites - super spicy and well-flavoured.

                                                        2. i
                                                          iheartpie RE: vidkid Jun 9, 2010 12:18 PM

                                                          my goodness what great reviews! I can't wait to give this place a try. Thanks so much everyone for all the details.

                                                          1. ekim256 RE: vidkid Nov 7, 2010 03:51 AM

                                                            After so many positive reviews, especially from CH'ers that have given good tips in the past, I was pretty happy to hop over to Origin for a burger.
                                                            Pics: http://www.cookiesandtomatoes.com/201...

                                                            The patio is pretty great for warm nights, and the interior has a good vibe for parties.

                                                            Bangkok Beef Salad ($14
                                                            )Peanut, Mint, Mango, Fried Onion, NamJim Dressing
                                                            No complaints here. Nice & clean - I liked the combination of flavours and overall, this was a good starter. I rather liked this salad.

                                                            Also had the Origin Burger Combo (Origin Burger, Spanish Fries, Ice Cream Float)
                                                            This was very disappointing.
                                                            The good? Well, the burger was nice, thick and pink on the inside. Just the way I like it. The bun was soft and fresh.

                                                            The bad? Sigh...where do I start?
                                                            The patty itself had an unpleasant taste to it - the curry powder did not work with the beef at all. My friend commented that it had a "dirty" taste, and I agree.

                                                            The Spanish Fries were topped with Chipotle mayo, chorizo sausage, cheese, and a crapload of olives. A crapload. The fries were dark and bunt - perhaps from being cooked in bad oil. We were unimpressed, and my friend actually made a comment to the wait staff. They ended up comping us for the fries, so they must have agreed!

                                                            The combo also came with a giant ice cream float and I am sad to report that this was also unappetizing. The ice cream had wasn't smooth - it was icy and too milky in flavour. The soda was sickly sweet, but not in a pleasant ice cream float way.

                                                            Gah. After reading positive reviews about Origin, I was hoping for a fantastic burger but instead we got a decent salad and a very unappetizing main. Did I order the wrong items? Were they having an off-night? Maybe, maybe. I was so disappointed with the food that I won't be inclined to return. However, I am grateful that they recognized the poor delivery, and compensated us.

                                                            -----
                                                            Origin
                                                            109 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: ekim256
                                                              jlunar RE: ekim256 Nov 7, 2010 08:20 AM

                                                              Yeah, this was my experience too. I tried twice, but the food just isn't good to me. I think this is a great space if food isn't your first concern. But we're in the minority, ekim.

                                                              ---
                                                              http://www.foodpr0n.com -- food. is. love.

                                                              1. re: jlunar
                                                                j
                                                                JennaBean RE: jlunar Nov 8, 2010 08:37 AM

                                                                Same here. Tried twice, will not be back for a third unless there is some giant change.

                                                                1. re: JennaBean
                                                                  sugarcube RE: JennaBean Jan 23, 2011 03:16 PM

                                                                  Although we're in the minority, I also agree with those of you who did not have an enjoyable experience.
                                                                  Many of the dishes were lacklustre and those that did stand out were not very unique, taste-wise.

                                                                  For instance, after reading so much about the duck wrap, while it tasted delicious, it was nothing spectacular-- just executed well. If you head into any good Chinese restaurant, you can get this same type of dish (not to mention, several more helpings), as well as a duck lettuce wrap they typically include with your order.

                                                                  We found the tostones flat in flavour. They were definitely nice and crispy but aside from that, they did not have much else going for it. The guacamole was a winner but no one goes to Origin just to rave about that.

                                                                  The grilled rock hen +harissa that I had read so much about had been changed to a hunter's style tomato based sauce. No doubt, the meat was succulent but I didn't prefer the new flavour profile. It was too acidic for my tastes.

                                                                  Our last main was the chorizo + manchego rice dish. It was the least appetizing looking, but inspite of its appearance it tasted quite delicious; it was rich no doubt, but we were told this by our server when we ordered it. The chorizo was slightly chewy, had a nice char, and smoky flavour with a subtle spiciness. While they tried to make the dish 'fun and interactive', all it really did was make our plate look messy and us like slobbish diners. Since the rice had a lot going on (cheese and runny poached egg), the olives and salsa verde were a bit of an afterthought. We only remembered to stir it in half-way through consuming the dish.

                                                                  We're unlikely to return to this place simply because it was quite costly (well, to clarify, the dishes that were interesting and what we felt to be unique to Origin were) and the flavours were not memorable.

                                                                  http://theavidbaker.wordpress.com/201...

                                                              2. re: ekim256
                                                                pescatarian RE: ekim256 Nov 7, 2010 09:45 AM

                                                                I was there for a work function recently. It was apptizers only and perhaps not the best basis for judging the food, however, I was hoping to be tantalized with a few samples, based on the positive reviews I had read on here. They were passing around little grilled cheese sandwiches, which just tasted oily to me. It was a couple weeks ago and I don't remember each of the appetizers I tried, but I tried maybe 4 things. What I remember was the only one I enjoyed was a spicy maki roll. Everything else was either to greasy or overly salted, but without any good flavout. It didn't leave me with a desire to rush back for dinner to check it out for real.

                                                                1. re: ekim256
                                                                  p
                                                                  peppermint pate RE: ekim256 Nov 8, 2010 09:56 AM

                                                                  Bummer. I've been there 3 times now and tried a bunch of different dishes and everything has been good to great. I tend to stick with the Asian flavoured dishes (plus the tostones and guac) - maybe that's where they excel? Anyway, sorry you had a less than stellar dinner.

                                                                2. miketoronto RE: vidkid Nov 8, 2010 11:24 AM

                                                                  Go with the recs on this forum and you'll be good. I went for my bday dinner in September and had the following:

                                                                  - cod croquettes - utterly addictive, this is what I crave when I think about going back
                                                                  - bufala mozzarella - high quality ingredients, exactly what you'd expect
                                                                  - scallops - solid - really great sear on the scallop though, some bacon in there I remember.
                                                                  Can't go wrong.
                                                                  - miso black cod - great texture on the cod but who goes crazy over miso?
                                                                  - bangkok beef salad - nice to have a refreshing beef salad (oxymoron?). A first for me.

                                                                  Great atmosphere, great (and overpriced) cocktails, fun/interesting/tasty plates. A highly welcomed addition to the Toronto canon.

                                                                  1. chowow RE: vidkid Nov 9, 2010 09:33 AM

                                                                    I’ll plus 1 the good reviews and say I’d definitely go back. My wife and I went a few days ago and it hit all the points we like in a restaurant (good food, great service, cool atmosphere). Like others have said and based on what we ordered, there were some gem dishes (tostones+guac, fior di latte, dulce de leche) and some meh ones (Spanish fries, calamari). I think there are enough positive elements to this place to make it worth the hype and patronage. I wish them luck.

                                                                    1. s
                                                                      section 6 photography RE: vidkid Nov 13, 2010 09:52 AM

                                                                      good review....tried the place last week....good food ... bad service...

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: section 6 photography
                                                                        estufarian RE: section 6 photography Nov 13, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                                        I've had excellent service there. Noticed several servers ex-Lee (Susur). Probably not coincidence, but the service at Lee has recently fallen disastrously (and it used to be one of my go-to places).

                                                                        In particular at Origin, I've ben impressed that dishes are picked-up and delivered to a table by the next server passing the kitchen - this means several different servers are dropping food off to ensure it's fresh & hot.

                                                                      2. p
                                                                        panko RE: vidkid Jun 19, 2011 06:42 PM

                                                                        Visited Origin on Thursday night and have to say I was very disappointed. I must have picked every wrong item on the menu.

                                                                        Spicy Spanish fries - these were fine but not something I would eat again
                                                                        Japanese style tuna salad - WAY overdressed - totally over powering the few slices of tuna
                                                                        Beet and goat cheese salad - came as a whole beet which I found odd. Also over dressed. Walnuts added a nice crunch.
                                                                        Chinois duck served on a spring onion cake - over cooked small pieces of too salty to eat duck, on a light cake that was cold, perhaps it was suppose to be cold. Just awful and didn't finish this.
                                                                        Banana cream pie - really bland custard filling with lovely torched bananas
                                                                        Dulce de leche pudding or something -served in a martini glass, this had a tasty lemon cake at the bottom and lots of raspberry

                                                                        Service was fine.

                                                                        Definitely don't see myself visiting Origin again after this performance.

                                                                        1. w
                                                                          wherejessate RE: vidkid Jun 20, 2011 04:57 AM

                                                                          I came here for brunch over the weekend. Took advantage of the gorgeous weather and Origin's fantastic patio. I ordered the smoked chicken salad sandwich ("crème fraiche + scallion + asian pear + dill + house mustard") for $13. You have the option of adding plain fries for $3 (since the sandwich doesn't come with any sides) but the spicy spanish fries ("chorizo + manchego”) caught my eye. The sandwich was served on a brioche bun and was delicious! One of the best chicken salad sandwiches I've ever had. Yum!

                                                                          However, I really regret ordering the spanish fries. For $9, these were a major letdown... I didn't really notice much chorizo and the chipotle mayo on top didn't have much flavour. The fries themself were nice. I should've just added the plain fries for $3 instead...

                                                                          1. e
                                                                            EverydayJohn RE: vidkid Sep 21, 2011 12:36 PM

                                                                            My wife and I went there for our anniversary last Sunday. Considering we didn't enjoy the food, I decided to wait a few days before posting my review.

                                                                            First, I'll admit that I made one crucial mistake: I didn't check brunch / dinner separation. If I'd known, I probably would have chosen a different restaurant or different time to go there.

                                                                            Second, I don't have the most cultivated palate. Perhaps the good flavours were lost on me. I'd assumed it will be as good as Auberge du Pommier (last anniversary, loved dinner there) or some of the places I went few months ago in Peru.

                                                                            When we arrived, the waiter gave us two menus: brunch and dinner. Since I read the postings here, we mostly chose items from the dinner menu...only to find out we can't do so.

                                                                            So we ended up choosing the following from the brunch menu:

                                                                            deviled eggs- large bacon really fit the egg in terms of flavour.

                                                                            bufala mozzarella - this was the highlight. the mozzarella was perfect and so was the bread... but I found the food tad bit too sweet.

                                                                            steak & egg - egg was good but the steak was weak. I felt like I was eating a nondescript piece of meat. no flavour.

                                                                            We also order one more dish but I can't recall which one it was (their website is down for now so I can't check the menu.)...it wasn't memorable.

                                                                            As for the decor...it was alright. Nothing to write home about and better than most greasy spoons. We had a choice to seat at the kitchen bar but decided not too--didn't seem all that special.

                                                                            As I said, I probably had too much expectation and should have walked out when I realized it was only a brunch. Service was decent but the food was between too sweet and no flavour. And for $100, I think I could had a better meal elsewhere.

                                                                            While I'm curious about the dinner selection after reading the posts here, I don't expect to go back to the restaurant. Let's just say it's not a good feeling to apologise for the restaurant selection on the anniversary. Good thing it's a forgettable lunch.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Origin
                                                                            109 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: EverydayJohn
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                                                                              eastyorkeats RE: EverydayJohn May 7, 2012 10:31 AM

                                                                              Hey EverydayJohn - don't bother with the dinner menu!

                                                                              1. re: eastyorkeats
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                                                                                EverydayJohn RE: eastyorkeats Jul 11, 2013 10:50 AM

                                                                                Thanks! They just opened another venue where I work, and it has been fairly easy to fight the temptation to check it out.

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                                                                              eastyorkeats RE: vidkid May 7, 2012 09:46 AM

                                                                              Attended a birthday party at Origin on Saturday - at the beginning things seemed promising for our party of 11 - prix fixe menu for the event.

                                                                              While many of the guests enjoyed the food, I thought it was nothing special. Three of the dishes - bangkok beef salad, the bufala mozzarella with pear and pine nuts and the curried shrimp were fine, but the rest (devilled eggs, calamari, chicken, salad, guacamole) were nothing special. One of the included dishes was the popcorn - one of the tastier options that night.

                                                                              What really turned me off was when we got the $1400 bill around 10pm, we were asked to leave our table and switch places with a much smaller group who already had seats in the lounge. Our group had grown to 15 over the night, some of whom wanted to order more food.

                                                                              Given what we had just spent and would have continued to spend on drinks, making us give up our reserved table for a corner sofa that didn't fit our group was really poor form. We left for another bar, and I'll never go back or recommend Origin.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: eastyorkeats
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                                                                                dubchild RE: eastyorkeats May 7, 2012 11:44 AM

                                                                                For the amount you spent, you could almost get a private room somewhere else. Just curious, what time did your party arrive and were you told there was a time limit on the table?

                                                                                1. re: dubchild
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                                                                                  eastyorkeats RE: dubchild May 7, 2012 12:12 PM

                                                                                  I know! We arrived at 6, and had finished dessert not too long before the bill came. I wasn't the organizer for the night, but it ddidn't seem like she'd been told of a time limit. I could be wrong - just my impression.

                                                                                2. re: eastyorkeats
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                                                                                  peachygal RE: eastyorkeats Sep 4, 2012 10:51 AM

                                                                                  Had a crummy experience at Origin over the labour day long weekend too. We had reservations for two on Saturday and arrived on time but were offered seating at the bar in front of the door and overlooking the kitchen area. We were very disappointed with the seating that was offered and asked if there was anything else available. We were told that pairs typically have to sit at the bar seating and that sitting at the bar looking into the kitchen is what makes the restaurant and dining experience unique. We were also told that when reservations for two are made the staff is very good about telling people they aren't guaranteed a table and may have to sit at the bar. Our reservation was made online and my bf is pretty sure there was no warning sent to him about seating for 2.

                                                                                  At this point the Manager came over and seemed completly puzzled and annoyed that we were disappointed and did not want to sit at the bar seating offered to us. We asked if there was seating outside to which she replied "let's take a look" and led us outside. They were filming some reality show on the patio and over half of the tables were taken up by the film crew, equipment, etc. My boyfriend asked if there was anything else that could be done because we had made reservations and it was a special occasion (birthday celebration for moi)... the manager at this point said "well happy birthday... we have a table for you inside but that's it". At this point I was done so suggested that we simply leave and we did.

                                                                                  A little empathy on the part of the Manager would have gone a long way. We were not being rude, loud, or making a scene. In fact we were doing quite the opposite which seemed to annoy her even more. We simply stated our disappointment and tried to see if there were other options available to us. We certainly won't try Origin on King again. As a positive I have recently been to Origin Liberty and had a completely different experience there (it was wonderful).

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                                                                                  komugiko RE: vidkid Jul 9, 2013 07:08 PM

                                                                                  Living in the area, was hoping to get a taste of an elevated experience on a whim on a weeknight. Where else to end up? By reputation, Origin of course.

                                                                                  Based on just their burger, I would highly recommend going elsewhere. It was dry, flavourless, and was masked in a chipote-like flavouring, with a frail avocado to try to make up for the deficiencies of the overcooked, bland meat. This alone (no side salad, fries or anything at all), with a lone glass of wine set me back 38 dollars! Plus, the credit card machine automatically is set for you to accept a tip of 20%. I'm sorry, but if the machine wants me to tip 20% AFTER the sales tax had already been added, I expect to recevie exceptional service. No complaints about service, but it is nothing like Le Bernadin in NYC ( 3 Michelin stars, BTW), in which I happily paid 20%. It's the arrogance and the expectation that Torontonians and its visitors are fools that I can't stand. Sorry Claudio....I respect your food, but where is your business sense and quality control? (I did have a fabulous burger in the summer of 2012!) For a more down to earth but tasty experience, (and consistent!) I would suggest Mangia e Bevi, or Swish by Han. Good food, no pretentions, and fair prices.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: komugiko
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                                                                                    caviartothegeneral RE: komugiko Jul 9, 2013 07:29 PM

                                                                                    Every credit/debit card machine I have encountered is preset to tip after sales tax. You have the option to tip $ vs % in order to bypass the machine's calculations.

                                                                                    1. re: caviartothegeneral
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                                                                                      komugiko RE: caviartothegeneral Jul 9, 2013 08:06 PM

                                                                                      I understand this. I tipped 15 % because I understand I have a choice. I am just commenting on what the restaurant expects customers to tip, judging by what is preset on their machine.

                                                                                      1. re: caviartothegeneral
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                                                                                        LexiFirefly RE: caviartothegeneral Jul 10, 2013 11:33 AM

                                                                                        Most pos systems give a sales printout after tax, and servers need to pay a percentage of that out. I always tip after tax because of this. Maybe we need new etiquette? I will say however expectin 20 to be the norm pissed me off.

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