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Jul 14, 2010 08:48 AM

The Diner at the new Thompson Hotel

This Saturday, we're going to a play and thought we'd like to eat somewhere afterward.. So we thought we might check out this new diner at the Thompson's Hotel called The Counter. Any recommendations on what (or what not) to order? We'll probably arrive around 11.00pm so would it be necessary to book - if that's possible in a place which calls itself a diner. Anyway, TIA.

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  1. Not necessary to book, imo. I really enjoyed the burger with pulled pork. Also thought the mac and cheese was good. The Po' Boy is skippable. Rather decent all around and I have plans to return.

    However, it's expensive to park underground ($20?) and you'll want to look for street parking if you can.

    If I have time, will post the menu.

    --- -- food. is. love.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jlunar

      Went three times around the time it opened (I live very close to it) and was of the same opinion. Tried the burger, fish and chips and the macaroni, all were good (not great but above average). Every time I was there however it was empty.

      Today, the wife and I met friends for brunch there and I have no hesitation in saying that it was one of the worst experiences I have had in some time at a restaurant.

      First, it took nearly 10 minutes to seat us despite there being 3 open tables of 4 clearly visible. Once seated we were left sitting there for 20 minutes while hipster waitresses stood around talking to each other. After I flagged down the floor manager and he took our drink order, he said he would send someone right over. 10 minutes later the floor manager brought us the wrong drinks and we still had not seen a waitress. One finally came 10 minutes later and took our order. When I asked her how long it might be she said it wouldn't be 'ASAP', whatever that was supposed to mean (I took it to mean a long time). After sitting around with no refills for sometime we flagged down the floor manager again and told him he got our drink order wrong last time and gave him another chance. Managed to get the right drinks this time. Didn't see service again until almost an hour later when 2 of us got our food. Mine (basic breakfast) was cold, the eggs overcooked, the bacon was flabby. Instead of homefries we were given basic fries. The fries were cold.

      Flagged down the floor manager again and asked what was going on, he said this was the first day they were this busy (place was about 80% full) and that they were still working out the kinks. The kitchen was particularly struggling he said (understatement of the year).

      10 minutes later the BLT one of our party ordered showed up, a second one (ordered without mayo) had to be redone (they put mayo on it). It showed up 20 minutes later after we had all finished eating.

      The BLT's were decent, but it's a sandwich, and it took almost 2 hours to make.

      We were there for 2 1/2 hours give or take. In the end they comp'd our drinks and one of the sandwiches - I didn't want to pay at all. Honestly we only stayed because it was incredible to watch. I have never seen so many people leave a restaurant while waiting for their food. It was like watching a live version of Kitchen Nightmares.

      Bottom line, the kitchen being slammed doesn't explain why the serving staff spends more time standing around gabbing at each other, rather than trying to woo customers with good service. Further, the place wasn't nearly busy enough to explain the kitchen issues.

      I would stay clear of this mess for a while, at their prices ($12 for a basic breakfast) it is not even close to being worth it. I wouldn't go back there for free.


    2. Pretty sure there is another thread on here about The Counter... Including photos of the menu

      1. Some friends and I made a reservation for brunch at The Counter Sunday morning. We were interested in seeing the new hotel and wrongly assumed that a diner in such an upscale hotel chain would have to be good.

        I arrived at 10 am. First of all, there are numerous entrances to the restaurant, and no signage indicating where to wait and whether to wait or simply be seated. There were a few tables occupied. I was looking for my friends and wandered from one end to the other and back but couldn't see my party. I could hear noise coming from a corridor and wondered if there was more than one section (there is not). But for the few minutes that I wandered back and forth or stood around wondering where to wait and who to speak to, no fewer than three employees saw me waiting but made no move to help me or even greet me.

        I called my friends and found out that our reservation, for 10 people, was actually at noon (my mistake). I returned at noon to find the restaurant fairly busy. Again, I was unsure where to wait, but after a moment I did catch a server passing by, who I asked about our reservation. She referred me to another server who said he would set up a table for 10; I repeated that I already had a reservation, but it seems they lost it. He did seat me at the bar to get a drink while I was waiting for the table to be set up, which was considerate.

        In the end, seven people in our party showed up. By 12:30 pm, we figured that no one else was coming, and so we placed our food orders... and the wait began. We watched one table nearby receive their food, eat, leave, and then another group get seated in the same spot, order, and receive their food. The server was apologetic and obviously felt badly about our long wait, but at one point she asked the kitchen how much longer our food would take and they refused to give her an answer! The server comped two glasses of orange juice which were ordered as the wait became embarrassing. We finally got our food 75 minutes after we ordered.

        The food was nicely presented but mediocre (I didn't bother to finish my reuben). We all agreed that none of us will consider returning.

        The Counter
        550 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: bink

          I went in this evening when Scarpetta wasn't open.

          I arrived at approx 6:40 and ordered a glass of wine and the striploin steak with salad.

          The chardonnay arrived within 5-10 minutes (in a tumbler), but my steak didn't arrive for at least 45 minutes. The steak was properly cooked (medium rare) but it was not hot and it was not seasoned. The salad (which was simply mixed bagged greens with some shaved carrots and 2 cucumber slices, with a balsamic dressing on the side -- the salad was not dressed) was just as it sounds. Craaaaazy long wait (only 2 other tables) -- I was thoroughly unimpressed with this place.

        2. Word is they've already changed the chef. Sounds like they need to shuffle the FOH as well.