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May 16, 2010 06:47 PM

Joy Bistro - Leslieville - not great

Great patio. Thought I'd give it a second chance after a disaterously bad dinner I had mistakenly invited a client to last year.
It was a sunny day, lunch on the patio, great service. Club Sandwich and salad sounded perfect.
I'll start by describing the salad - it was a huge amount of greens that had been sogged up in so much dressing I felt myself racing to rescue the leaves before they bacame compost.
Now to the Club. The bread was that ultra thick "Texas Toast" stuff with no exiration date - but the whole wheat kind. It comes in plastic wrappers at your local No Frills.
If you love huge globs of pale fatty flabby chicken skin, draped over a few scraps of chicken back meat - but no lean chicken breast meat, you'll love Joy's Club.
If you enjoy wads of very fatty, barely cooked bacon strips - sign up.
And if you like your Club to be padded out with chunks of Peameal bacon as well......
I picked out the edible bits and abandoned 90%.
HOW hard is it to walk a few paces to Brick Bakery, or better yet, get the fab Epi breads from the Leslievile Cheese Boutique, and use decent breads to make a $10 lunch sandwich?
HOW hard is is it to serve roasted chicken breast - since that is what is advertised on the menu?
I really want to like this place, but that club sandwich told me that the chef does not care.

Cheese Boutique
45 Ripley Ave, Toronto, ON M6S, CA

Joy Bistro
884 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1J3, CA

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  1. Apparently, they have a new head chef that started there this past week. Perhaps that will breathe some new life into what has been to this point an inconsistent place.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sloweater

      Working within a few blocks, I've had lunch and take away several dozen times over the years; several changes in chefs, none memorable. I stopped giving them my money 18 months ago and can't imagine going back. Maybe it's different at dinner time but doubt it if the owner's have such poor standards at lunch.

      1. re: sloweater

        I would have to argue that Joy is indeed consistent - consistently bad. I've eaten there (against my will) on several occasions, and each time the food, and service, have been somewhere between awful and mediocre.

        One Saturday evening we sat at the bar and our charming bartender made our night seem somewhat more promising, but she eventually disappeared, leaving a badly trained staff floundering to accomplish the simplest of tasks. By the time our small, messy appetizers had arrived our glasses were empty and we had to wait ten minutes to request a refill. Twenty minutes later it still hadn't arrived. We tried to leave we couldn't find anyone to give us our cheque because the cash register and the staff were trying desperately to accommodate a party of 25 who had been presented with individual bills.

        What a mess.

        1. re: Jane.T

          I know... it's a great location, has two patios, prime Leslieville. Why is the chef constantly changing? Who is the manager/owner and what are they aiming at with this place? I won't go back - not with so many good alternatives within walking distance.

      2. Our experiences have been inverse to yours. Although the food has never been particularly impressive, we've always found it okay. The service, on the other hand, has ranged from merely inoffensive to absolutely egregious. Particularly with all the other places to eat on the street these days, we no longer patronize Joy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: drjolt

          My experience there about a year ago was really great, it's too bad things seem to have gone downhill. I still remember the beef cheeks--it was prepared to perfection.

        2. Well, it's gotten much worse. They lost their latest chef two months ago and not only does the menu still feature his name, but the menu has not changed in six months. Ontario asparagus in October? NOT! The featured tomatoe soup was watery glop and the Caesar salad...well...Frans 1958 might be a good comparison. After an overpriced glass of Ontario Sav., I left the place to go down the street to Patrick’s for some oysters and and an Irish shoulder to cry on. Horrible service and food just above dumpster-diving.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TorontoTuna

            Couldn't agree more. My wife and I had our wedding party there about 2 1/2 years ago, when Brian was the chef. Simply amazing! Since then, it's been a total disaster. I don't think the menu has changed once since then. Had the unfortunate experience of having to eat there in August and wont ever go back...which is so sad as being local, I used to eat there once a week.

          2. I've been there several times over the years both for brunch and dinner and I can say that not once has it been a pleasant experience. The service is *alright* at best..... but the food.....WTF!?!? seriously????? The price point for what they serve you is laughable. If every item was $10 less I might excuse it, but to assume that you are on par with any restaurant of that price point is ridiculous! The last time I went there I started with the bruschetta ($9).... which was a LOT of balsamic vinegar soaked in to what i guess was bread? Quite possibly the most revolting thing I've EVER taken a bite of. After that I just finished my glass of over priced not so great wine and headed to The Roy for some hot wings and a beer. I've given Joy so many chances, every time hoping that the last horrible experience was just a fluke (like seriously, how do you screw up breakfast?), but it's no fluke, just really bad.

            1 Reply
            1. re: raraboom

              Agreed! Mirrors my experience at Joy to a tee.

            2. Joy is currently closed for what appears to be a gut reno of the main floor.

              1 Reply
              1. re: embee

                They are going to reopen soon as "Joy Bistro Bar". They have hired a "social media manager" who has been posting to twittter and facebook a little bit.

                Not really clear to me what this means but the impression I get is they are trying to reboot themselves as a cocktail bar. Given the popularity of that kind of place in that area (there are few places I would describe as 1/2 cocktail bar 1/2 pub in the blocks to the west including The Avro and that place with the big hotel sign inside who's name I can't remember and the vodka bar) it might actually work.

                That is if they fix the disgusting food and the horrible service.

                I'm not holding my breath.