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Miller Tavern - Are you kidding me??!

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My family and I were looking for an outdoor patio to enjoy the weather and have a little brunch. It was my wife's birthday, so we thought we should go somewhere a little nicer than the usual haunts (greasy spoon, bagel world etc). We have/had dinner plans at Nota Bene and Sidecar, so this was something extra with our young boys.

We chose The Miller Tavern based on a few recommendations and primarily because of their unique patio setting. I used to go to the Jolly Miller years ago for cheap beer; things have changed to say the least.

Without a doubt, they have one of the best patios north of downtown. Short of the the Corona banners everywhere, which really cheapen the place, it is quite nice and comfortable. They have lots of shaded areas, plush seats and it is quite tranquil - even with young kids. The vibe reminds me of a golf clubhouse or tennis club - It might have also been that fact that many of the patrons were sporting their tennis gear!

Here's the bad news: the food is barely palatable and astonishingly overpriced!! I was literally in shock when I was handed the menu and saw that the brunch prix fixe was 27.50 per person. What is this, the Ritz Carleton??!! I'm sitting in a TTC parking lot at Yonge and Wilson - are you kidding me??? Needless to say, I asked for the a la carte menu, which wasn't much of a relief, given the cheapest thing on the menu was an 18.00 cheese burger.

Interestingly enough, I had the 19.00 burger at Nota Bene a few days earlier and I think it is the best in the city by far for the money. So, I was curious how this 18.00 burger would compare, but was ultimately underwhelmed to say the least. Overcooked, absolutely no flavour, dried out, rubbery-sour-dough-type-bun and an overall soggy mess. Now, I wouldn't normally be wasting my time commenting on a burger at a place like the Miller Tavern, but for 18.00, I couldn't let this go. You have to be a fool to spend that much on such garbage. I think the frozen Costco burgers are much better and Baton Rouge has a great burger for about 12.00 that is far superior in flavour. I will say the fries were decent and seemed as if they were home made. My wife had the Thai style chicken burger, which she liked, but for 19.00, not worth it at all.

It gets worse. My 4 year old son ordered the price fix kids menu. "Prix fixe kids menu you're saying" - yes, they have a prix fixe kids menu for 15.00 and there's no other choice!!!! I am kicking myself for being so foolish as to agree to stay and have my son pick at 15.00 chicken fingers and a tiny scoop of ice cream. I think it is absolutely egregious to charge that kind of money for a kids meal and not even give the option of a la carte. What 4 year old can tell the difference between chicken fingers and trust me, there was no difference other than price.

In the end, the server (who was actually really nice and efficient) asked me if I liked the burger and I was very honest with my answer. I told her that I wasn't impressed and that it wasn't very good at all. Her response was "that's too bad", which translated to "I don't really care and don't expect me to do anything about it". This is my problem with so many restaurants (and/or servers) in Toronto - they just don't care what you think. In the US, when they ask you how the food was, they actually want to know and will take care of you if you're not happy. In Toronto, I find, I get the Miller Tavern type gratuitous "how was you're meal", but they aren't really interested answer.

One good thing, they did bring a nice piece of apple pie for my wife's birthday, which definitely made up for things. But, about 80.00 later for 2 and 1/2 people, this place is highway robbery. If they just stuck to higher end pub fare or charged about 38% less, I wouldn't even be writing this review. However, their pricing is a farce and the food is for suckers...at that price.

Back to Bagel World next weekend...

.

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Miller Tavern
3885 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4N 2P2, CA

Nota Bene
180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

Bagel World
10 Disera Dr #150, Vaughan, ON L4J0A7, CA

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  1. Wow you took your wife out for both brunch and dinner on her birthday (re:previous post about Nota Bene)!? What a nice husband you are...but didn't you get "burger overkill" by ordering two burgers in one day?

    SWS

    1 Reply
    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

      I've been to the Miller 4 or 5 times over the years. It seems to get chosen mostly for location, which I understand, but with such meh food and high prices, I've always questioned the logic of wasting a meal there. I've never had anything terrible there, but nothing has ever been memorable, except the bill, when it arrives. Fortunately, I've never been the one that has to pick up the cheque when dining there. It's a real shame that the Miller either can't provide inspiring dishes or just can't be bothered. They have a captive audience, being one of the only restaurants in the few blocks surrounding Hogg's Hollow. The patio is gorgeous and the interior is nice too, with a casual downstairs and more formal atmosphere upstairs. If the menu options were truly interesting and the execution consistently good, I imagine I'd have eaten there 2-3 times more often than I have.

    2. Yep. The reviews on this boards would have told you exactly what to expect. My mantra for the Miller Tavern is "mediocre food at exorbitant prices". Sorry to hear you got sucked in. Hopefully Nota Bene and Sidecar made up for your experience.

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      Miller Tavern
      3885 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4N 2P2, CA

      Nota Bene
      180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

      4 Replies
      1. re: TorontoJo

        Agreed. It was a little burger and birthday food overkill, but it was my wife's 35th so why not. Nota Bene was our dinner, Sidecar was the big family dinner. Side Car was exactly as this board described - really solid, fun, reasonably priced - but not going to blow you away with the food. Unfortunately, I think I ordered poorly and ended up with a pasta that was kind of "soupy" with chunky prosciutto that tasted like artificial bacon bits. Everyone who had the steakfrites thought it was excellent, but a close second to Tatti Bistro. They have an excellent drink menu there and I would definitely go back for the atmosphere and perhaps the prix fixe during the week.

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        Nota Bene
        180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

        1. re: kosherdill

          Kosherdill has the Miller Tavern pretty well pegged: nice setting, dreary menu, hilariously overpriced, given the quality of the nosh. Knowing this and living in the neighborhood, I only turn up two to four times a year, always on a Monday night, when you can bring your own wine for $1 corkage - which eases somewhat the pain of the mundane menu offerings. The regulars know enough to stay away from the duds, like the hamburgers and the $20 chili. I make most menu items to be overpriced by 20-25%, but that doesn't seem to bother the mainly local crowd. The steaks are decent, as are a couple of fish dishes (though startingly high priced). The service is good enough. The dining room is spacious and comfortable. What you're paying for at Miller Tavern is mainly the enjoyably restful setting on the edge of a pretty little park.

          Like the OP, I also despair of servers asking "How was everything?", without particularly caring about the answer. I find the only way to complain about a dish is immediately, after you've taken a bite or two. A bite or two of those burgers would tell you right off that they're not up to much at the price being extracted. It's also a wise practice, to make your first visit to a joint less of a crapshoot, to check the resto's website for the menu. The Miller's website shows all the dishes on offer, with their outrageously inflated prices baldly stated for all to see. Which may explain why I've never been to the Miller for brunch. Even on Monday nights, with $1 corkage, the bill per couple is easily close to $100, all in ($150-$175 without the corkage). It's a dangerous place, the Miller is.

          1. re: juno

            Why not just go to the patio at Auberge? You'll spend a bit more but you'll have an enjoyable experience.

            1. re: Dimbulb

              I'd say you might have an enjoyable experience at Auberge ;-) My only meal at Auberge was a mediocre lunch about 3 years ago. I probably should give it another try one of these days. I still haven't been to at least a dozen of the upscale restos on my wishlist, and I have a half dozen restaurants I already really like, so I haven't set a return visit to Auberge as a priority ;-)

              The Miller is ok for drinks. Some of the pub food they serve is ok, especially when you have one of their fairly frequent coupons, better than what you would get at the Firkin, but not as good as what you'd get at the Abbot.

              Wildfire recently had a reno, and a menu update. That would be my first choice in the Yonge/York Mills area if I was looking for steak/Continental.

              The Abbot would be my first choice for pub food in the area.

      2. I've often wondered about the Miller - it's been there forever. I'm always amazed that restaurants that stick for so long can be so incredibly mediocre. I had intended to go there last year over the Christmas holidays and then I got a 2 for 1 menu in the mail and even at those prices, the prices were horrendous.

        One thing that caught my attention though was that the server "asked if you liked your burger" as opposed to asking if you didn't like it. Generally, if you don't like something, you send it back and get something else. If you finish it, the server generally has no choice but to charge you. They go to the manager and say you were unhappy with your meal, the manager asks if you ate it, and if the server says no, you didn't eat it, it comes off the bill. If you did however, finish the dish, much of the time, the manager will say you ate it so you pay for it.
        Servers do not have carte blanche on what they can take off a bill.

        If you didn't finish it and you told your server it was crummy and she did absolutely nothing about it, I would be inclined to make a call and mention it to the manager. When you pay good money for food and service, you should get what you expect and walk away feeling like you just had a good time out.

        1 Reply
        1. re: iEatErgoiBlog

          The building has been there forever but not under the same ownership. I have a good friend whose uncle owned it from 1963 to 1997, you can read about him here:

          http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet...

        2. That's too bad. As has been pointed out. With a good menu/execution it could be something special.

          We've wanted to go there since it reopened but prices and poor reviews have stopped us.

          DT

          1 Reply
          1. re: Davwud

            So sorry you got burned so bad. I totally agree, great patio but food is rip off. Why don't you concider Safari on Ave rd. they have a nice patio and much better prices.

          2. The Miller does one thing well, and one thing only - cocktails.

            They make a mean Manhattan - and the patio is pretty quite nice - lots of greenery.

            1. Everyone I've ever talked to says the place blows, except for the nice patio. Prices are beyond brutal

              2 Replies
              1. re: duckdown

                I guess those prices are to be expected in that area, as the houses just to the east are around 2M and up.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  Wow.. wish I could afford a 2M house and $18 burgers, but sadly it doesn't appear to be going that way !

              2. Has anyone tried Miller's brunch? I have a complimentary brunch coupon so for my boyfriend and I it will only be $25 for the both of us so we're going to try it. Was wondering what people have thought of the brunch.

                5 Replies
                1. re: girlstar

                  I believe my original bad experience was the Miller Brunch (on Sunday). The food is just ok - nothing memorable at all. My issues are mostly about value/quality for price. It's not like the food is horrible or anything. It's their prices that are a complete joke. If you have a coupon, I'd say it's worth going for 25.00 for 2 people. But don't expect much form this place!

                  I did go back once for a large group dinner and it cost us over 200.00 a couple. Absolute highway robbery for the kind of mediocre food they serve.

                  Good luck!!

                  1. re: kosherdill

                    About the Miller's brunch I know little, brunch not being my thing, but it's interesting to note that the place has dropped its prices somewhat recently - which to me is an admission of something or other. Now, instead of being about 20 per cent overpriced, it's only 10-15 per cent overpriced. Add that to the $25-off coupon with which the Miller has papered the neighborhood, and just $1 corkage on Monday, and a couple can have a decent - if unmemorable - outing in a pleasant, comfortable setting. There is now a $20 steak on the menu, though a tad chewy (the $28 steak is still better value). Along with the drop in prices has come an inevitable drop in portion size, especially the respectable rack of lamb. Still, soups are good, salads remain smallish and overpriced (a $21 Cobb salad?!!!), hamburgers are a washout, fish dishes pretty good. It's a menu not unlike a 1960s golf club's dining room. Good quality ingredients, but safe, predictable - and boring. Never any specials of the day recited at the table. But the Miller's attached free parking lot is jammed most nights, most likely with locals - like me - who can't be bothered driving anywhere farther on a miserable winter night. In short, the Miller is, like two-thirds of restos in Toronto, drearily average - "mediocre" is too harsh a word - not quite bad enough to complain vociferously. If you pick menu items wisely, you're do well enough - but try to get a hold of one of those $25-off coupons.

                    1. re: juno

                      Thanks! We live in the neighbourhood but have never tried it so we'll see how it goes. I'll report back.

                      1. re: girlstar

                        We had the brunch yesterday at noon and it was packed. I didn't think it would be that busy there. We sat upstairs and the outdoor enclosed patio was all full, all the booths on the top floor were full too. My boyfriend was wondering how a drink is a first course. He was comparing the brunch to our last brunch experience, another prix fixe but in LA at the Cafe Del Re. The pastry basket was nice as I have a weakness for pastries. He had the steak and poached eggs and I had the croque madame. I tried some of his steak and it was tasty and not dry. My croque madame had ham in between brioche, covered with sauce and a poached egg. It tasted okay but it wasn't hot temperature wise. It did come out pretty quickly. I guess they make a lot and the dishes sit around? It was kind of luke warm. For dessert, I had a strawberry rhubarb pie and he had the creme brulee. He enjoyed his and my pie was all right. Overall, it was a nice Sunday brunch experience, nothing horrible but nothing spectacular. Would I go again for brunch? Probably not. Even with the $25 coupon we still walked out of there about $52 after tax and tip.

                      2. re: juno

                        Drive a couple of minutes south to The Abbot Pub, 3367 Yonge Street. Better food, service, atmophere, value, etc......If more York Millers did that, The Miller might actually do something about their mediocre restaurant, or go bust, which might not be a bad thing.

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                        Abbot Pub
                        3367 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N2M6, CA

                  2. I feel your pain... I too go to the Miller, again and again, and I wince every single time.. So why do I keep going??? For the patio unfortunately. Yes, it's an amazing spot with lousy food. The place would be a gold mine if they lowered the prices and made the menu more casual. The only thing I've ever enjoyed there were the crab cakes, but I felt they were over-priced... You're also right about the umbrellas... very undignified... A dark blue or burgundy would be more appropriate. Let's just cross our fingers that aliens will take it over very soon and we can all rejoice and toast with our overflowing, frosty beer steins!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Moimoi

                      Well said - I agree with you. I have been suckered into the 30.00 Lobster Quesadilla far too many times at the Miller. Charge 12.00 for beef and don't bother with the mostly rubbery claw part Lobster!! The steaks are quite bad for the price - I could go to Metro and BBQ a much better one without much effort. And, 18.00 for a burger that is really awful needs to be fixed. If the burger was really outstanding, I'd pay the price and actually enjoy the experience with a nice beer.

                    2. The food at Miller's Tavern is not terrible, just mediocre and overpriced. When they send out their coupons, it's well worth the visit. The other factors is it has to be taken in context of the utter lack of good restaurants in the north part of the city. Compared to what else is available, it's not that bad.

                      Come to think of it, this is the first year and a long time that they didn't send them out.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: evansl

                        O, the Miller did indeed send out its $25-off coupons by mail again this year. I got two - a week apart - earlier this month, a friend around the corner got just one. They're all over the neighborhood for sure. I suspect it depends on your postal code, with those living closer to the Miller being favored (or not favored, depending on your point of view). In my view, dollars-off coupons distributed by restaurants are the restaurant's way of saying "We know we're overpriced, but management can't bring itself to admit it has mispriced its menu, so this is its way of discounting the menu down to its true, market-driven value."

                        Actually, evans is probably being a little harsh about the lack of good restos nearby, There are some decent restos in the area of the Miller, aside from the price-y but first-rate Auberge du Pommier. On Yonge St. south of the Miller, there's the solid bistro Steak Frites, the pizza and pasta joint Trio and, if you dig an old -fashioned Italian menu, there's the not-cheap Coppi. I'm told Wildfire, a steak house just south of the Miller, is also pretty good, but I don't get there often enough to know first-hand. A 5-10-minute drive west, to Avenue Rd. or Bathurst St., will yield other finds. They'll all not marvelous destination spots, but they're good, tasty and satisfying, and properly priced given the high-rent Yonge St. and environs neighborhood.

                      2. The Miller actually has a children's menu??? The last time I was there I asked for a high chair for my young son and was told that they don't have any. The hostess said "don't you have a car seat in your car?". We haven't been back since.

                        1. I have received (and been offered) so many of these Miller $25 coupons.

                          The fact that they no longer offer cocktails as apart of this offer (they used to) urges me to tear them up so no others must suffer their terrible food!

                          1. I've been pleasantly surprised by the improvement in the food at Cam's Place since it's opened. More casual, close to half the menu prices for better food. And a good live music scene upstairs.

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                            Cam's Place
                            2655 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P, CA