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Allen's on Danforth - will never go back

This past Saturday, a group of friends (10 of us) wanted to hang out on a patio have dinner and catch up. When my friend arrived at 5, she was told that for the patio you were only allowed to stay for 2.5hours. So she opted to wait for the rest of us at the bar as to not eat in to our allotted 2.5 patio window. Friends started coming at about 6PM so they moved to the patio. We were a full group of 10 by 6:45PM, we started with drinks and apps and then another round of drinks. We tracked our waitress down and told her that we were ready to order our main meal at 7:45 to which she replied, “are you sure because you have to be out of here by 8:30PM at the latest. We couldn’t believe the attitude and asked if we could convince them to let us stay a little longer since we were about to spend some serious cash (it was Lobster fest by the way, which many of us were going to order) she wouldn’t let us speak to the manager instead insisted on being a go-between. She came back and said, sorry, 8:30PM and you have to leave by this point it was almost 8pm so I called Globe across the street and they said come on over we’ll take care of you. We paid our bill and left Allen’s and frankly based on the rude servers and bizarrely stringent rules we will never come back. I get the rule is there so someone doesn’t hog a table on the pretty patio while nursing one beer and a plate of fries but we were celebrating and I even tried to make reservations (which they don’t take) but told me to come for 6 and getting a table shouldn’t be a problem which is why we started so early. Anyway, I love food and good friends but I’ll never go back to Allen’s. There was a line up of folk waiting to get in so I guess they don’t care their customers more about turning over tables.

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  1. How was Globe? I'm thinking of going there this Saturday night with a group for my bd and want to be on the patio.

    Edit - never mind. I called and the woman on the phone made it sound unlikely that if it's nice out we would get a spot on the patio for 8 people at 8 pm. Back to the drawing board...

    1. Crazy stuff, I agree. I would have been tempted to call their bluff and order my food at 7:45 and have them try to throw me at come 8:30. I hope you left a fat, round tip.

      1. What kind of bar closes any patio at 8:30 in the summer?! Nuts.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pincus

          I don't think they were closing their patio at 8:30, they were telling this group that they had to leave at 8:30 because they had been there over their alloted time and they wanted to make room for another table. Also nuts though.

        2. a rule is a rule, it sucks you got hit with it, but the policy is understandable, on a Saturday night a busy place needs to flip tables to make any money.

          I wouldn't have bothered with the patio if I knew there was a limit

          10 Replies
          1. re: bbbradk

            Couldn't it work conversely that they lose money because of this policy? A group such as the OP describes could have spent a lot of money. Kick them out so you can flip the table and the next group buys a couple drinks and spends far less money.

            Also, you're ruining the experience for a group who will likely not return and spend further money or who tells other people and those people think it might not be such a great place to go with a group and spend lots of money.

            Part of the attraction of going to a patio on a nice day is lingering and feeling relaxed. I can understand if the group is not spending money and lingering, but if they are spending money, then I think it's a stupid policy both from a financial perspective and a PR perspective.

            I think within reason, certain policies make sense, but what the OP describes sounds a bit unreasonable to me.

            Another example is when I called Globe last week and asked if we made reservations for a group if it it would be possible if we could move to the patio if there was space. The gentleman I spoke to last week said no problem and made it sound like they couldn't promise anything, but it could work out great. When I called today, a lady answered the phone and when I explained what I wanted to do, she gasped when I said it would be for a party of 8. I said why that reaction. She indicated that she thought it would be next to impossible for there to be room for our group at that time on a Saturday if it's nice out. That might be true, but her reaction made me feel like it wasn't worth a shot and I have opted to go elsewhere. I guess it's easy to turn business away in Toronto these days??

            1. re: bbbradk

              But 6:45 - 8:30 is nowhere near the 2.5 hour rule they were first informed of.

              1. re: Full tummy

                They booked for 6, didn't all show up till 6:45 and got around to ordering food an hour later and it's a special lobster fest on a patio on the Danforth on sweltering Saturday night?...I'm with Allen's...I'm sure the people who booked tables for 8:30 would agree...Marimba!

                1. re: Marimba

                  I'm with you, Marimba. Or rather... Marimba!

                      1. re: ingloriouseater

                        Yeah me too, they told you 2.5 hours and that's what you had. A place with a patio like that is prime real estate, you need to coordinate better. Or sure, go somewhere less popular. I ate at Le Papillion on the Park (food, eh...patio, lovely) last Friday for this very reason, I knew it wouldn't be too slammed.

                      2. re: Marimba

                        according to the op they don't take reservations for the patio. but I'm with you anyways.

                        1. re: Marimba

                          Oh, yes, I see, they were on the patio at 6:00. Sorry, my mistake. Should have read it more closely.

                          1. re: Marimba

                            this case is difficult to decide, but I have personally never been treated more rudely and horribly in this city than the couple of miserable occasions when I dined at Allens. I would not take their side on this issue either. The rule is understandable, but I am certain it was conveyed in the most disrespectful manner possible

                      3. I see where you are coming from, but who is to say the next group who is waiting for those tables aren't spending even more money?
                        There are so many variables, so it's hard to guess, but knowing the time limit was there would have kept me inside

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bbbradk

                          a table spends the most amount of money in the first 1 1/4 hrs. After that they linger, talk and spend little (ie. coffee with refills etc). Also larger group spend more time at a table where smaller tables (ideally 2's) spend as much per person and are usually gone in 1 to 1.5 hrs, so they can turn the tables more often and are easier (faster) to service than larger parties.

                        2. I'd rather find a bar that didn't define time limits on my patio stay. Maybe difficult if you are targetting food in the Globe (and to a lesser extent, Allen's) class, but still.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Pincus

                            Allen's class? They have no class. And the OP didn't miss anything by not eating at Allen's. Mediocre food, service and patio. I can't imagine eating lobster there.

                            1. re: foodyDudey

                              There seems to be (from my own experiences and others) a culture of inhospitality at Allen's, along with an obnoxious sense of entitlement, and yes they can be extraordinarily mean, as in the case of the OP. And the food is rubbish. There must be a core group of local booze hounds keeping this place going, supplemented possibly by a regular stream of unwitting patrons from afar, attracted to its novelties.
                              Globe Bistro accross the street is a far superior place in every way imaginable. If Globe is full up, I'd pick the Greek joints Avli or Pantheon over Allen's - at least I know I won't be insulted or told to leave! Their patios are small though....

                              401 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1P1, CA

                          2. To chime in with my tuppence... (a) Allen's has, to my my mind, been very long over-rated. The food not *that* good, and for what you get, it's not inexpensive; (b) I can't say that I've had an encounter with staff there that was pleasant - not necessarily unpleasant, just never very good. I blame management for both. There is definitely an air of unwarranted arrogance.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hungry_pangolin

                              arent they supposed to have amazing wings?

                              1. re: jmarcroyal

                                No, they have "capon wings" they are above average meaty but otherwise nothing special. One does not see these ordered very often.

                                They are supposed to have an amazing burger, a claim held in dispute by some.

                            2. I'll go a little further than just siding with the restaurant, it took you 45 minutes to get your party together (there's good reason why so many places won't seat partial parties) and another hour to decide on mains? If I was the manager I would have been at that table a long time before 7:45 "suggesting" that you order mains or leave, however Randall is too nice to do that and Dora is too ditzy to notice.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: bytepusher

                                What I learned from this thread:

                                Don't go to a happenin' joint - like Allen's patio - on a pleasant Saturday night.

                                For sure, don't go with a group of 10, who arrive in dribs and drabs over almost two hours.

                                Absolutely, don't overstay your time frame on the patio, especially when you were told the rules of the game in advance, even if some of your group insist on special dispensation because they're high-rollin' lobster enthusiasts. Find another patio, one without rules that cramp your style.

                                As it turns out, the OP's group stumbled into their smartest move by trotting across the street for dinner at the Globe Bistro. In that part of town, it's Globe for nosh and Allen's for drinks. Allen's kitchen is average - "mediocre" is too harsh a word - even pretty good if you don't order something too complicated. I've always found the service there good enough, if not outstanding. It's usually a well-run joint. And I never sit on the patio, even if there's space, especially on a Saturday night. Service is invariably solid in the more spacious and comfortable resto itself.

                                P.S. Lobster is not something I'd expect Allen's to do well. You want lobster? Scaramouche does it right, if somewhat more expensively, when it's on the menu there. No patio, though.

                                1. re: juno

                                  I think what makes the food there mediocre is the prices. They charge too much IMHO for what they serve. If their prices were slightly lower, I would accept that there food is average. I've never had anything there that made me want to return to eat it.

                                2. re: bytepusher

                                  Hello, I should clarify. Most of the group was there between 6 and 6:30PM and we had ordered two rounds of drinks and a full round of appetizers before ordering the mains. I admit that it took us a while to get our group together but my issue had more to do with the rude and hostile attitude more than anything else. I respect any business owner to maximize their profit , it's tough for restos, I get that and having a patio rule is not a bad thing per se, but I felt like we were being leaned on unfairly and rudely and had they been just a little sweet about it the next time we'd come back for the second patio seating (8:30PM) as oppose to rushing in for 6PM. I would have no issue if they said "hey, you need to eat to keep your seat" which is what most Toronto patios do when they don't take reservations. Life is too short to waste money and time stressing when all one wants to do is drink a little and enjoy some food and good company on a hot Toronto night. The silver lining was that GLOBE was perfect, the patio menu was great, cheaper than what we would have paid at Allen's and the staff were awesome and we spent the entire night and a lot of money there.

                                  1. re: Foodiesmith

                                    You were told up front when you had to leave (8:30) and you're complaining that they asked you to leave at... 8:30. I don't see the issue? Allen's certainly wasn't wrong in asking you to leave - maybe they were rude about it, I don't know - but definitely not wrong in the slightest. It doesn't sound like you would have been happy to leave even if they'd asked nicely...

                                    And Globe totally has better food and their patio is awesome. You didn't lose out at all.

                                3. I missed the part about there being a reservation. in that case, I will change my mind and say, yes, they were well within their rights to ask you to leave early. If the first members of your party had gone on the patio at the start time, would you expect to keep being seated past the end of your time if the last member showed up fifteen minutes before the end of the two and a half hours?

                                  1. Had the exact thing happen several years ago; the patio wasn't even running at capacity at the time. That earned them a permanent place on my personal 'banned' list.

                                    Allens owners: kindly go 'eff yourselves.

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: guinness_a_day

                                      OH yes, thank you, there were other tables available as well when we were told to leave in 30 mins.

                                      1. re: guinness_a_day

                                        It's ironic that Allen's claims to be an "Irish" bar - which implies hospitality above all. No "real" Irish person would be caught dead in that place.

                                        1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                                          Allen's doesn't claim to be "Irish" as in from Ireland, it is specifically "a saloon restaurant typical of Irish New York". The owner is a New Yorker of Irish descent.

                                          That said I've certainly interacted with other patrons there who would take violent offense at the suggestion that they weren't "real" Irish people.

                                          1. re: bytepusher

                                            I doubt the patio will be open this Sunday afternoon, but I will give this place a try in the afternoon to see how they are doing.

                                            1. re: Poorboy

                                              Why? There are much better places to spend your hard earned money. Don't forget to tell us how it is, even though it probably won't change the opinion of many who posted here.

                                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                                Actually the I went for the burger. It was much better than the last time I went. What I like is having it cooked to order. And it was quite a meal. The place was busy and the service was off. I despise having to ask for service for another beer and having to almost beg for my cheque at the end. Alas, we weren't asked if we wanted anything after the meal. The food was very good though. Rick Mercer was a table over from us and it was kind of funny to see people's reactions when they recognized him.

                                                And oh, the patio wasn't opened yet.

                                                I won't go to The Globe, a friend had a very bad experience there and I want to avoid it.

                                                1. re: Poorboy

                                                  I guess if you are Rick Mercer, you can get good servive. He lives a short walk from there. I suppose the burgers are OK, but go back and try a few more items. I have, and I won't be back to Allens.

                                              2. re: Poorboy

                                                You want a patio in that neighbourhood? Go to Globe Bistro. Now THAT's a patio. Long walk upstairs to the rooftop, but you can tumble down when you're done.

                                                1. re: Googs

                                                  It's less than a 40 second walk from the front door to the patio. Not exactly like climbing to the 2nd floor for the CN Tower, unless you only have one leg.

                                                  That's the only patio I go to in the summer, other than my own.

                                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                                    OK, OK, I will try Globe for the patio in a few weeks. I think we should start a summer patio thread that offers both good food, service and atmosphere. Maybe get some photos uploaded?

                                                    1. re: Poorboy

                                                      I just got back from Sunday dinner at Globe, the patio is not open yet. But you can find pictures of the patio quite easily. It's the only good patio I know of in this area.

                                        2. I am utterly amazed by the apparent success of Allens. They get away with rude, inattentive, and at times downright insulting service, loong wait times for tables AND the food, as well as ridiculous pricing policies and a one-trick-pony menu whereon the single trick is good but not unbelievably great. AND they are right across from Globe, which also has a great burger. How do they do this? why do people give this place their business? what am I missing?

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: shekamoo

                                            Don't know what you are missing but I haven't gone back there for over 10 years. I recommend you try the new Factory Girl about a half block east in the former Willow. Food is good, service is fast and friendly. Need I say more.

                                            Factory Girl
                                            193 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K 1N2, CA

                                            1. re: shekamoo

                                              I think Allen's is a place for people who put booze before food. After a few glugs of Scotch, or a few pints of beer, it doesn't matter what the food tastes like!
                                              As for the service - as with any company, the head of the house sets the tone. If it's inhospitable or insulting, take a look at the owner!

                                              1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                                                Don't know what your problems are with Allen's. I've lived in the neighborhood for over twenty years and it's a great place for an evening out. I've always had good service. I know it's popular so I don;t go if I don't have a reservation. I see it as pub food. I don;t go there for a great meal. I go there for a good meal and the standards are always good. The burgers are good, the fish and chips are good, the stew is good, the bean soup is good. You know what you;re ordering and you know what you;re going to get. You want to a great meal go to a place that bills itself as serving a great meal. And as to reservations - I've never had a problem reserving a place on the patio. You don't like it, don't go back. Obviously lots of other people disagree with you. And as for the rules, you knew what they were. I was at Charisma for an early meal on Saturday night. I knew they needed my table by 8:30 when I booked. No sweat. I made a point of being gone by 8:15. It's called courtesy - not to the restaurant - to the people who are coming in behind you.

                                                1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                                                  It's odd to me that you choose to say that.

                                                  John Maxwell is the most hospitable of publicans I have ever encountered.

                                                  1. re: Non Doctor

                                                    I wholeheartedly agree. When Mr Maxwell is in the house the service staff picks it up a notch.

                                                    1. re: Non Doctor

                                                      Unfortunately, his wife, who is often the manager on the floor, is not a charming, charismatic woman. She is quite rude, cares little about the customers, and is probably the reason her staff go ashen when you ask to speak to the manager.

                                                2. I'm not surprised. I went there in the fall... just walked in, asked for a table for two (after standing for 10 minutes at the host stand and being completely ignored) then, was told we had only an hour. We ordered our food (which was the WORST salmon I have ever had a restaurant) though the ribs where ok. Ate, and left.. I will not go back as I have better places to spend my money.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Kassi22

                                                    I had the exact same experience a few weeks ago. Was meeting a colleague there for beers, then split to Terri-O's just out of principal as the folks at Allen's are just so damned rude. Always.

                                                    143 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K1N2, CA

                                                    1. re: Joshman

                                                      Are you sure? I'm seeing many people saying Allens is great and they have never had a bad meal and the service is great, and nobody there is rude. :-) I don't know any other restaurant on Danforth Ave where they tell you that you have hour and then have to leave.

                                                  2. I have to say that of all the awful restaurant stories I've read here this one is one of the worst. I have little sympathy for those who go to Harbour 60 and complain about the food (hello?), but to go to the effort of organizing 10 people and all that it's involved and for Allen's to be so pompous and ungracious. Bad food is one thing, but your treatment was downright offensive. Too bad you didn't talk to a manager before leaving. Otherwise, you should write them a letter and send them this link. Allen's is clearly making so much money that it's clouded their memory about how they got there - people like you! Hope they make it to you and hope to read a happy ending to this story.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Moimoi

                                                      Talk to a manager at Allens? I'd get better results if I talked to my cat. There are so many people that don't mind making a reservation to go to this "pub" that it still survives and thrives on it's mediocrity.

                                                      1. re: foodyDudey

                                                        " I'd get better results if I talked to my cat" HA!! Too funny. Allens is a Toronto institution resting on it's past laurels.It's been there for 20-25 years? They're lucky to have such great neighborhood support,and I think that's whats kept them in business for so long.I've only been a few times and although the food and service hasn't been horrible, it's not somewhere I'm rushing to go back to.

                                                    2. always confused as to how and why it makes J Kates' top Toronto restaurant list

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: atomeyes

                                                        I'm always confused by the terrible service reports. I've been living in the neighbourhood for just over 2 years and have never, ever had poor or rude service. In fact my SO and I scratch our heads at these reports. We only ever order the burger, which is good, and drink pints both at the bar and that beautiful back patio in the summer. Honestly, I don't get it.

                                                        1. re: atomeyes

                                                          It's pretty simple - because she doesn't agree with you. And presumably has had a different experience. Like I say (along with Splendid Wine Snob below) been going there for years, expect good, not exquisite and it has satisfied every time. You don't like it, don't go. It's not like they're begging for business, and if you want to beleive that all those people filling the place don't know what they're doing, well no one can do much about that.

                                                          1. re: kmacd

                                                            The only place really worth while on this end of the Danforth is Globe. Globe's food, service, and patio beat Allen's hands down so we've stop even considering Allen's in our dinning options for a very long time now and are happier and better fed for it! :-)

                                                            1. re: JennaBean

                                                              The one experience I had at Globe was fine, the food was good, but I thought it was seriously overpriced for what it was and pretty measly portions too (and I don't usually ever complain about portion sizes, but the plates actually shocked my SO and I). I've been meaning to give it another try, but I have to admit, there are many other places I want to try first before heading back.

                                                        2. Allen's is modeled after a British pub. Service is based upon making eye contact and attracting attention. It becomes a form of intuition for those who have been there more than once. Yes, it's not good service by north American standards, but if you can handle it, you'll enjoy your experience. What you need to keep in mind is that the place is busy, and the relationship has to be managed with the servers.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Snarf

                                                            With all due respect Snarf, it is not my job to "manage" wait staff or make some knd of intuitive eye contact--standing at the hostess table oughta get me seated! I have lived in this area for 25 years and I have been to Allen's many times. I have encountered rude/disinterested service and disappointing food w/ the exception of the burger (as others have mentioned)--the fries, not so good. I haven't been back in over a year. What I don't understand about some chowhounders is the need to put others down when you disagree with their review or opinion. I appreciate the varied opinions on this board, even if I don't agree.

                                                            1. re: Snarf

                                                              You can't make eye contact if the servers are not even looking your way. The last time I was there (2 summers ago) we waited around 20 minutes to ask for the bill when sitting on the patio, so I finally just got up and hunted down a server. I think the servers need to scan the tables every few minutes to see if any table needs service, not patrons have to get up to beg for the bill. Well it's all moot now as we go to Globe if we want to eat in that area. Better food, better service, better patio.

                                                            2. I haven't been there in about 5 years but I think I'll have to go back just to see for myself. Remember, there's no such thing as bad publicity...