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Langdon Hall Dinner - Lacking 'Wow' Factor and Quantity!

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Just came back from a $95, five course tasting menu at Langdon Hall.

The verdict: I was extremely disappointed!

Food was OK with only one dish providing close to a 'Wow' experience. To echo fellow chowhounder 'Miranda''s remark, I too have been to over a dozen Relais and Chateaux establishments all over the world. Langdon Hall is the 'last' place on my list! In fact, food wise, it is no where close to any of the Michelin stars rated R & C establishments in France I have frequented!!

The meal detail is as follows:

- Amuse Bouche - Spotted prawn with house made aoili.
'Overcooked prawn, the normal sweetness overwhelmed by the mayo like aioli'.

- Poached Colville Bay Oysters, Late season Garlic, Soused Beets, Cured Foie Gras, Pickled Melon, Golden Beet Aioli, Thai Basil.
'Aioli again?! We only got 'one' oyster! Not the 's' as described on the menu! Overall, nothing special. Cured foie gras was way too salty though!'

- Digby Scallops smoked and Marinated. Braised Kyoto eggplant, Dry Sherry, Cucumber, Banana Shallot, GingerAigre-Doux..
'A nice dish with flavourful scallops and eggplant. Sauce was delicious. Thank God! I was getting worried!'

- Pickerel and Mustard Seed. Pork Hock,Celery Leaves,Celeric, Creme Fraiche.
'The fish was overcooked! A Relais & Chateaux like Maison Troigros will never do that!! Mustard sauce was very tasty! Almost enough to compensate for the cooking mishap! Question?!! - Why the pork hock?'

- Slow Roasted Venison. Bibb lettuce, Broccoli Flowers, Le Cru du Clocher, Burnt Onion Crumble, Simmered Tendons, Sweet Onion Jus.
'Finally, a dish worthy of my applause!! The venison, cooked rare, was sooooo tender and flavourful. The tendons was a nice touch. But the stand out was the sauce!! Wow!! Finally, a dish worthy of Michelin consideration!'

Dessert - Concord Grape Millefeuille. Vanilla Yogurt Mousse, Concord Grape Jelly, Grape Sorbet, Almond Daquoise, Champagne foam.
'Dessert tasted as good as it looks'.

Petite Four to round things off.

In conclusion, if Michelin decide to come and rate Ontario establishments. IMO, Langdon Hall will only get a 'border line' one star. In fact, comparing to some of the tasting menus I had in the past such as those from Susur, Scaramouche, Splendido, George, Truffles, Perigee, Canoe, N44...etc. Langdon Hall's version fell short when compare to the aforementioned group! Couple with the stingy portion, there is no point for any Torontonians to 'drive over an hour' for this over-priced, mingy and over-rated food!
May be a-la-carte dishes might fare better??!!

-

-----
Langdon Hall
1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8, Canada

 
 
 
  1. Your description shows a lot of ill fitting contrivances. Like the pork hocks. And how possibly can foie gras be cured, with the dense fat content?

    Spotted prawn season is over in July, so they are insulting patrons with a frozen item.

    The photos show a scattered array of sauces, which I would send back.

    9 Replies
    1. re: jayt90

      Agree!
      May be one can 'cured' foie gras by putting the whole lobe in brine?
      I still manage to see some 'live' spotted prawns in Chinese supermarket only a few days ago. Not sure from BC or Florida?
      Most 'modern' plate presentation nowadays have sauces 'scattered' around. Susur is a fine example. Almost every dish I had at NYC's WD-50 was like that too! Doubt its an acceptable excuse to send the plate back. May be you are just used to ' Da Vinci' and not 'Dali'??!! Ha!

      1. re: Charles Yu

        Thank you Charles, I really owe you one now!

        I have 4-5 friends to whom I owe a blow out dinner. LH (which by chance I have never visited) was the front runner. You have saved me a lot of time and money.

        I find it stupifyingly short-sighted that these restaurants with such low (%) food costs are so lacking in generosity. Saving $2/head on a $95 meal (before wine etc.) turns a willing diner into an unhappy diner and unhappy diners are a restaurant's worst nightmare.

        Did you have to stop for a burger on the way home?

        I have had occasion to augment tasting menus at both Susar and Cava with a burger.

        BTW, should you ever feel peckish on the trip back to the city from LH, stop in at the "Fifth Wheel" in Milton for meatloaf and mashed potatoes (about $10)!

        -----
        Cava
        1560 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4T 2S9, CA

        1. re: sumdumgoy

          I was actually thinking about having a bowl of wonton noodle!!

          I did notice the big water tower with the big Milton sign on it and wondered what's there in Milton. Now I know! Milton = Meat Loaf!! Ha!

          Nowadays, for tasting menu, George is the place!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Thanks Charles!

            I will try George and also your Dim Sum rec. Kar Lun this week!

            As always, best to you and happy eating!!

      2. re: jayt90

        On what grounds would you send the dish back jayt90?

          1. re: millygirl

            Because there is is not enough sauce to savor with the food.
            Actually, I ask the server to make sure there is enough sauce, in addition to the decorative plate.
            They put effort into it , and should provide enough for my enjoyment.
            It is not usually a problem, as they are proud of their sauces in many places.

            1. re: jayt90

              I'm sure that goes over real well jayt90 LOL.

              Personally I would be quite horrified if my DC did something like that. Unless of course we were at Swiss Chalet or something along those lines.

          2. re: jayt90

            cured foie is not so uncommon, had it years ago. Believe the chef prepared it similar to curing salmon ( salt, sugar and complimentary seasonings) it was rolled in a torchon and shaved thin... absolutely delicious. As for the plating it was hard to see what was on the plate but i suspect that could be due to the photography ( no disrespect to to OP) , i don't think that really justifies sending it back.

          3. Hey Charles, I had a wonderful lunch tasting menu in there a few months ago. But this tasting menu you had looks not up to par with such a well-known establishment. Wonder why Toronto's top-end restaurant always seems so inconsistent. Toronto really lacks restaurant with a great tasting menu.

            3 Replies
            1. re: skylineR33

              Totally agree skylineR33!
              The worst thing is not just the disappointing stingy food, its the looooong drive! I don't mind driving long distances as long as I know the food I'll be getting is going to be great eg Sushi Kaji. However, this time, I was expecting so much but getting so little in return! Well, at least I had a couple of pieces of yummy Venison! So, all is not lost!

              -----
              Sushi Kaji
              860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA

              1. re: Charles Yu

                How were the wine pairings Charles? I know that was one of your criteria.

                1. re: haggisdragon

                  I have to drive so need to take it easy. Since menu was dominated by seafood, opted for a couple of wine by the glass 'White'.
                  - 2008 Marimma Ansonica DOC Fattoria la Perrino. Nose of Almond, tropical fruit, Melon and Acascia flower. Dry finish. Rather one dimensional. Similar to Riesling but lacking the complexity.
                  - 2006 Alsace Gewurztraminer, Domaine Paul Blanck. Very typical Gewurtz with honey and lychee nose and taste. Very mild spicey aftertaste. Off dry. Very nice! Great with all those seafood dishes with sweetish sauces!

            2. If Michelin were to come to Ontario, they would laugh their asses out of the province.

              1. Charles - What would you rank as your top 3 tasting menu experiences in Toronto?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sadistick

                  'Old Splendido' Sushi Kaji, George.

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

                  Sushi Kaji
                  860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA

                2. Whoa what a review!
                  I have to agree on one thing, the portion size . Too small. Do you think perhaps you were expecting too much? I mean from all the hype?
                  I too have been to several Michelin starred restaurants in Europe. I honestly cannot say that LH is as bad as you say. Michaelin stars as you know do not always mean great food.
                  Different tastes I guess.
                  I really enjoyed my meals at LH ( but yes, portions were smallish).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: froglegs

                    May be?!

                    However, after dishing out $95 on food alone and still feeling hungry afterwards kind of left a bad taste in my mouth! If I'd known, for the same driving distances and time, I could have driven to 'Treadwell', have their delicious and well executed '6' course tasting menu for $20 less!! Here, I'm talking about food alone and not the ambience or service. Though service at Treadwell can be very friendly and attentive as well!

                    In my book, great food includes BOTH taste and execution. In the case of LH, with great sauce accompaniment, 80%+ of the dishes did taste fine. However, when the kitchen overcooked shrimp and fish and oversalt key ingredients like foie gras, then its nothing to do with expectation and hype, its more to do with the chef and kitchen calibre. I'm sure, if David Lee is at the helm, that tasting menu will be a totally different chow experience!!

                    -----
                    Treadwell
                    61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                  2. Nice review, but I have to say that being so dismissive of an establishment based on a tasting menu seems a little bit much, especially when you weren't staying there to get the full experience. Cured foie gras will have a salty taste. That's how they make it. You might also have benefitted from sending back the dishes you said were overdone.

                    I don't know if they post their tasting menus in advance, but that might have addressed your concerns about the repetition of some of the elements. I have had tasting menus in many of the establishments you've referenced, and while they can be spectacular if all the stars align, they are not always so. Some places only offer them for tourists, and try to steer the staying guests to the a la carte.

                    26 Replies
                    1. re: Snarf

                      Hello Snarf,

                      Recognising LH is no ' Michelin stars establishment', I was not looking to be 'blown away'! Just a nice enjoyable consistent experience. What I don't understand was when fellow chowhounder skylineR33 and I chatted about his $40+ luncheon tasting menu at LH a few weeks back, the experience he had was totally different! His food was great and the portion generous?!!. Sounded as though I went to a different place! Why such huge discrepancies! Especially when I was paying double!!

                      Whilst I do understand your comment regarding my harsh review being based on one meal. However, if the establishment is really good and consistent - ONE should be enough!! eg., does one have to eat at the French Laundry a few times to determine its true quality and standard?!

                      When I was in France a while back, I only had chance to eat at 'fine establishments' like George Blanc, Troigros, L'Esperance, Les Crayeres....etc only once. However, those single visit was more than enough to 'wow' me!

                      Occasional mishap I can tolerate and understand, especially when during weekend rushes. However, when they 'misfired' on 3 of the 5 dishes, then the chef needs to take a closer look at the overall approach and operation! May be his 'supporting cast' was not up to snuff?!

                      I have had at least half a dozen 'food and wine pairing tasting menus' prepared for me by Splendido's David Lee. Not once was I disappointed! Execution was near perfect to perfect every time. And I did not consult any astrological or star charts before going! Ha!! The four tasting menus I had at George were memrable and close to perfection as well.

                      Lastly, there are good curing techniques and passable ones. Best example was tasting real gravlax in Scandinavia versus say those bought from McEwan. The latter was too salty and not moist enough. Whilst I understand cured foie gras will be salty, but when its 'too salty' then I guess its a reflection of the calibre of the chef. At least he should have tasted it before serving it to his patrons!

                      Anyways, enough said!! Time to move on! Inn at Manitou next?! Ha!!!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Tasting menus are never an adequate barometer of a kitchen, and can represent flights of fancy that take many diners in directions they don't want to go. The backwards menu at Susur and Charlie Trotter's take on the cuisine of Alsace were completely underwhelming, but I've had many amazing experiences at Susur apart from that.

                        Langdon Hall isn't known for its dinner tasting menu. That particular serving is focussed on the locals, who are not particularly discerning. It's like ordering the menu touristique in any French restaurant. The real effort is expended for the people who take the time to enjoy the full experience.

                        I think the Inn at Manitou is still closed from the bankruptcy.

                        -----
                        Susur
                        601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                        Langdon Hall
                        1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8, Canada

                        1. re: Snarf

                          "Tasting menus are never an adequate barometer of a kitchen". I disagree on this. The two underwhelming tasting menu you pointed out only means there are some failures in restaurant's tasting menu attempt in your experience.

                          In Toronto, have you tried George, Splendido (old), Sushi Kaji, Colborne Lane's tasting menu ? Aside from Toronto, in other cities such as tasting menu from Per Se, EMP, Momofuku KO, Ryugin ....... etc They are all supposed to showcase the calibre of the restaurant !

                          There is obviously some flaw from Charles' description of the food at Langdon Hall he had, too salted, over-cooked ... it does not mean the food is always bad there, but it shows a sign of inconsistency. And if anyone paid $95 for it, it is fair for the disappointment.

                          1. re: skylineR33

                            $95 seems to be the going rate for tasting menus anywhere in Ontario these days.

                            I'm not surprised that LH was disappointing to a TO Chowhound who has eaten at many top restaurants in North America and beyond.

                            With all respect to Charles, I don't think he should be too distressed about the price, since that's how much tasting menus cost, regardless of whether they are well-executed and/or tasty.

                            People who live in the GTA are spoiled with good dining options. What's considered a good restaurant in KW, Cambridge, London or Stratford is unlikely to please someone who has a chance to regularly dine at the best restaurants in TO.

                            People in SW ON generally pay more for lesser food. Most mains that cost $25-$40 in the best restaurants in London, KW, St. Mary's or Stratford would be equivalent quality-wise and taste-wise to the mains at TO's good neighbourhood restaurants that usually cost $18-$25.

                            While I realize LH has developed some prestige by being part of the Relais & Chateaux, but LH's location in Cambridge, should be taken into account when you look at the pricing.

                            Even lower end restaurants charge more in smaller cities, because they have a different cost structure and less customers. An Indian or Chinese take-out dinner in London often costs $60-80, when a similar dinner in TO sells for $30-$40.

                            Charles, I think you and your friends should take the train to Mtl or fly to NYC, if you want to find a new tasting menu that will wow you. I don't think any tasting menus within a few hours of TO are going to surpass what is offered at George or Sushi Kaji.

                            -----
                            Sushi Kaji
                            860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA

                            1. re: phoenikia

                              phoenikia , no one here has concerned about the $95. But the thing is if you pay $95 for a meal in anywhere, you do not want to come out disappointed, especially after the conversation (between me and Charles, and we both have been to many michelin level restaurants) that my $40+ lunch tasting menu at the same place is pretty good (both quality and quantity). That's main point !

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                Charles wrote:
                                "there is no point for any Torontonians to 'drive over an hour' for this over-priced, mingy and over-rated food! "

                                "However, after dishing out $95 on food alone and still feeling hungry afterwards kind of left a bad taste in my mouth!!"

                                "Especially when I was paying double!!"

                                What I'm trying to say is that $95 is the going rate for tasting menus. Disappointing, yes, but I'm not sure it was overpriced. That's how much tasting menus cost, maybe partly because tasting menus mean there are a lot of dishes to be washed after the customers leave. (That's a joke, skylineR33)

                                My 2 points are:

                                1. Tasting menus always cost around $95, so it isn't overpriced. Maybe it's stingy, maybe it didn't taste good, maybe the shrimp were overcooked, but that's how much they cost everywhere.

                                2. Generally, outside the GTA, you get less bang for your buck, so a tasting menu that costs $95 in Cambridge is likely to be equivalent to a tasting menu that would cost/be worth $60-$70 in the GTA. I am not aware of any of the better restaurants in the GTA who even offer a tasting menu for less than $75. Charles does mention Treadwell's $75 tasting menu, but I don't know how that compares to the tasting menus at George since I've never dined at Treadwell. I'm guessing Treadwell has discovered that $75 is the psychological ceiling for visitors to the Niagara region.

                                To look at this another way, I wouldn't expect the quality of the food at Langdon Hall to be more than roughly 2/3 of what I would expect the quality to be at George or Sushi Kaji.

                                Charles also wrote:
                                "In the case of LH, with great sauce accompaniment, 80%+ of the dishes did taste fine."

                                If you take into the reduced expectations for leaving the GTA, and add in the extra cost of dining in SW ON, if Charles found 80% of the dishes to taste fine, I think that shoud be considered a good food experience for fine dining near Cambridge, ON.

                                -----
                                Sushi Kaji
                                860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA

                                Langdon Hall
                                1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8, Canada

                                1. re: phoenikia

                                  We all know $95 is the normal rate. But if quantity is lacking, it becomes over-priced. Why do you expect the quality of the food at LH to be 2/3 of the quality at George ????? LH is a Relais & Chateaux destination. I have been to both LH and George within these 2 months and I actually find the quality of the lunch tasting menu I had at LH is at par with the quality I got with the tasting menu I had at George.

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    I would expect the quality of the food at LH to be roughly 2/3 of the quality of G because you get less bang for your buck in SW Ontario, regardless of whether the restaurant is part of the R & C network.

                                    1. re: phoenikia

                                      So I am telling you the quality at LH and George are both very good according to my experience. You should visit both first to come up with your own conclusion. It is not something that can be calculated with a formula.

                                      1. re: skylineR33

                                        I have dined at George. To be honest, dining at Langdon Hall doesn't interest me. That is why I haven't dined there.

                                        I'm happy that you have found your experiences at both restaurants to be very good.

                                        1. re: phoenikia

                                          I can see why with the use of your formula (which personally I won't use).

                                      2. re: phoenikia

                                        I think the notion that you pay a premium by going outside of the city questionable. There are cheaper, better dinners to be had if one looks. Charles mentioned Treadwell; I'll add Stone Road Grille which has given me better bang for the buck than any Toronto restaurant I've been to. LH not only has aspirations but was recently one of only two Canadian restaurants listed on the S.Pellegrino 100 Best Restaurants in the World list. The shame is that their meals can be memorably good, and then they can be disappointing. I have experienced both. Nobody wants to pay that price for a roll of the dice. LH puts so much effort into making everything else perfect, one wonders why it's so hard for the kitchen to achieve better.

                                        http://news.therecord.com/article/703662

                                        -----
                                        Stone Road Grille
                                        238 Mary St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

                                        Treadwell
                                        61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                          People have to pay more for what they get when they dine in SW ON (Cambridge, KW, London, St. Mary's, Stratford, Grand Bend, Bayfield, Windsor).

                                          The Niagara Region is a tourist destination which has built up its restaurants and wineries, and it's a culinary destination to some (at least for Treadwell and SRG), which means it has a different customer base and different cost structure than SW ON.

                                          I suggested a formula of 2/3 (specifically for SW ON) to try to explain to skylineR33 why I expect less than $95 "GTA food dollars worth" for a meal than costs $95 in Cambridge. But as I said, I haven't dined at LH (yet- this thread is making me more curious) http://www.langdonhall.ca/dining_tast...

                                          I don't walk around using fractions to anticipate the types of meals I'm going to experience. I just lower my expectations so I can avoid disappointments. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed.

                                          1. re: phoenikia

                                            Even if it's right to expect less at that price, for whatever reason, and I would be inclined to attribute it to the fact that the restaurant is part of an inn and inn/hotel restaurants generally overcharge, it's not right to have to expect that kind of disappointment. Better for the restaurant to forget the foie gras and prepare their dishes perfectly with less costly (and overdone imo) ingredients, so diners leave with appetites satisfied marveling at the magic the kitchen brought to their dishes.

                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                              Exactly, phoeikia, you should add in a couple of more parameters to your formula such as the skill level of the kitchen..etc, or a weight factor for these... to make it a bit more accurate.

                                                1. re: skylineR33

                                                  skylineR33, you've already said you won't use my formula, so why would I bother perfecting it by adding more parameters? You're the only reason I invented the formula.

                                                  I'm crying into my tom kha gai as I type this reply.

                                                  ;-)

                                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                                    To me, a great meal isn't great because you can add up the cost of the ingredients and feel you got your money's worth. The chef had ingredients to work with, ingredients he/she chose and chose what to do with. Did he/she turn those ingredients into something special or not? It is right to expect something special from a destination that advertises itself thus, and unfortunately that's not what Charles got. As you point out, there is no math to justify this.

                                                  2. re: Full tummy

                                                    Full tummy, well said. I'd love to leave a restaurant with my appetite satisfied, marvelling at the magic the kitchen created.

                              2. re: Snarf

                                Seems to me a tasting menu is a chef saying "Here I am playing at my highest creative level." If that comes off flawed, why would I believe the chef is going to do better on their daily menu?

                                1. re: Pincus

                                  I agree Pincus. To me a tasting menu should showcase the chef at his/her best. If it is not, why would you bother?

                                  1. re: Pincus

                                    Sometimes, but not always, a tasting menu is pumped out by the kitchen in assembly line fashion and it suffers because of it. Chef's go through the motions and become lackadaisical about it. Ordering a la carte at the same restaurant requires the kitchen to interrupt their flow and work a little harder for you the customer in some cases. This is not to be taken as gospel on the subject of a restaurant's tasting menu vs the same restaurant's a la carte menu rather, just the case in some establishments I and other friend's have frequented.

                                    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                      My bf is a the sous at one of Toronto's fine dining restos. He'd be heartbroken if this was the case in his kitchen. I truly hope that's the exception to the rule and not the rule.

                                        1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                          You just point out a good example a restaurant kitchen that needs improvement.

                                2. I went through my journal and, for comparison and illustration purpose, put up the following typical 'Old Splendido' tasting menu prepared by David Lee prior to his passing on the torch to the current outfit. For $20 more than Langdon Hall's 5 course tasting menu, I was served 7 courses ( excluding Amuse Bouche and Mignardises ). For the price, please take a closer note at the 'ingredients'!! Most impressive! Even more impressive was the faultless execution. David + Trevor! What a team!

                                  Amuse Bouche - BC golden Mussel and Texas wild shrimp, home made ponzu
                                  - Mini cheese and onion tartlette.

                                  - Alberta Bison Carpaccio, Shaved Zigante White Truffle.

                                  - Nova Scotia Lobster, Uni, Poached B.C. Dungeness Crab leg.

                                  - Line Caught Boston Skate Wing, Bacon, Sweet Onion Coulis

                                  - Seared Corn Fed Artisinal Foie Gras, Duck Pastrami

                                  - Double Wagyu Beef Consomme, Mushroom Tortellini, Black Truffles.

                                  - Smoked Bacon Wrapped Northwest Territories Caribou, Poached Gnocchi, Fricasee Chestnuts.

                                  - Bruce Penisula Courtland Apple Tart, Calvados Ice Cream

                                  Mignardises

                                  BTW, I left the restaurant STUFFED!! and got home in 25 minutes!

                                  By reading this, I hope fellow chowhounders got my point!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    I'm disappointed the consistency at LH isn't up to snuff. When Charles first posted asking for comments, I related my positive experience last time there (although I noted the portions weren't huge and recommended upgrading to the 7 course...which incidentally weren't dessert and cheese as someone else here noted). The food was all well executed with proper seasoning, no overcooking (and i like everything on the rarer side). It's too bad they don't seem to always be able to maintain that standard.

                                    Regarding Phoenikia's "formula", I couldn't disagree more. Cost structures and clientelles obviously differ but usually in the other direction. I live and work in downtown toronto and have spent time in multiple kitchens both in and out of the city. Rent is the obvious one, but staffing costs play a role, as do competition etc. To simplify it to "2/3 the quality" seems not only simplistic, but directionally non-sensical. I find it interesting that an opinion was so strongly expressed ...when the poster hadn't dined there!!!

                                    But enough of that.

                                    I have eaten at LH 4 times over the last 25 years, starting with my mum's 40th birthday where we had the private dining room for 20 people and a set menu that certainly impressed my 7 year old taste buds, lol.

                                    Since then I have returned for 2 a la carte meals (within last 2 years) and the tasting menu this spring. Each time the execution was flawless and the service beyond reproach. The menu's were never ground-breaking but always offered good variation. Let's hope they can get their act together because the site is amazing and it would be great to have mulitple options for fine-dining outside of the big cities in Canada.

                                    p.s. Charles, I too loved Splendido (and I want to hear more about this Double Wagyu Beef Consume) but it's amost starting to sound like an obsession with you...sure you're not related to David Lee? :)

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

                                    1. re: downtownfoodie

                                      No! Just one of his regular customer who loves his cooking

                                      1. re: downtownfoodie

                                        Obviously it's a simplistic formula. I tried to use a rough formula to explain why I would expect less in Cambridge than I would in Toronto if I was spending $95 on a tasting menu. The formula is about managing expectations.

                                        As I mentioned above, I don't walk around using fractions to anticipate the types of meals I'm going to experience. I lower my expectations so I can avoid disappointments, and possibly experience some pleasant surprises.

                                        If you read the Board carefully, many of the original posts and replies on this Board are written by people who have not visited the restaurant they are writing about. Charles was outspoken in thread about Crown Princess, which I thought was fine. I respect Charles' opinion, and like to read what he has to say, regardless of whether he has chosen to dine at whatever restaurant he is talking about.

                                        I don't know why posters are criticizing other posters on this Board for writing about places they haven't visited, especially when the posters admit they haven't visited whatever restaurant they are talking about.

                                        When did this Board become such a pissing contest? I miss the old blue boards. Way less attitude and way less passive-aggressive. The vibe was much more community-minded and much more focused on finding delicious food.

                                        1. re: downtownfoodie

                                          If my memory serves me right, the 'soup' came with a big dome lid over the plate to seal in the gorgeous aroma. The wait staff opened all our lids at once to allow us to sniff the sudden rush of aroma before digging into the broth. The consomme tasted like a concentrated form of a Vietnamese Pho broth, with the taste and smell of star anise being replaced by porcinni mushrooms/truffles?!

                                      2. I made a comment on another thread that you miss a lot of the experience and context when you don't actually stay at Langdon Hall. Let me elaborate.

                                        If you are staying there, you have the opportunity to meet the manager, sommelier and wait staff in advance, as well as select where you want to eat. You have time to peruse the menus and wine list in advance to decide what you want. While doing this, you can be relaxing in front of the wood burning fireplace in your suite, or wandering the grounds. By the time you sit down, you're relaxed and ready to enjoy a meal at your own pace and give feedback along the way. They are happy to replace dishes if they don't appeal or don't work, or even adjust the portion if you are still hungry. You can choose to have your dessert or cheese courses in your suite, or in another room, and the attentive service continues. Once you're done, you can continue to relax. If you were driving, you'd be limited in what you could pair with what, and have your mood subject to what the 401 holds on your way home. When I read this review again, it seems that the 80% approval rate is overridden by having to make a long drive afterwards.

                                        It's also unfortunate for such a dismissive review to be the result of a single experience.

                                        -----
                                        Langdon Hall
                                        1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8, Canada

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: Snarf

                                          Wow! That is the experience you had staying there? I stayed there and did not meet the manager, sommelier or wait staff in advance. Rather, I went down to the restaurant at the reservation time and ordered as if I was at any other restaurant.

                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                            Yeah, really. Are you a travel writer Snarf? I too stayed at LH and yes we met the sommerlier at a short wine tasting they held but still did not get the same experience you write about.

                                            Actually we were all very disappointed with our accomodations - the rooms seemed to have a real funky odour. Dinner was fine but nothing that made us want to return. It was kind of like - so what's the big deal? For us it just wasn't worth the drive. I'd rather stay local and 'do' George, and sleep in my own bed.

                                            1. re: millygirl

                                              Unless you're staying at a Holiday Inn, each hotel will have rooms of varying sizes,. shapes and vintages. The air quality will vary depending on how long a room might have been non-smoking, the date of renovation and the location in proximity to other property features. A little research or inquiry can make a big difference, as can giving feedback to the desk folk. If you're discreet about it, they'll usually enjoy the challenge.

                                              As for staying at Country House hotels, the really good ones, such as Inverlochy Castle, Dromoland Castle, Thornbury Castle and Sharrow Bay Inn, encourage you to be interested in the secondary elements of the experience, and how to enhance it. You simply have to express the interest in a non-condescending way.

                                              I still don't get the concept of driving hours to and from a dinner. We don't digest well sitting still, even with heated seats, and there aren't a lot of restrooms along either the 401 or Airport Road that I would consider stopping at.

                                              With all due respect to Charles, whose reviews I enjoy, and sometimes agree with, sometimes life is about figuring out why you didn't enjoy something as much as someone else, rather than pronouncing that your experience is definitive.

                                              1. re: Snarf

                                                I, on the other hand, think Charles wrote a very good review explaining what he liked and didn' t like.

                                                In his opinion some food was good, some wasn't. His prime definitive pronouncement was that he left hungry.

                                                Are you suggesting he was mistaken about not getting enough food? Or that the dinner would have tasted better had he stayed the night? Or that people who stay the night get better quality food (and more of it)?

                                                As to restrooms between Toronto and Langdon Hole, I urge you to visit the "Fifth Wheel" with its non pareil gift shop and fine dining. I can assure you that every one of its diners drives hours to and from breakfast, lunch and dinner.

                                                1. re: sumdumgoy

                                                  love the fifth wheel. whenever we used to go down to Toronto (from Guelph) for hockey games as a kid, my brother and i would take turns choosing where we went for dinner. his choice...usually a downtown steakhouse. my choice...always the fifth wheel :)

                                                  1. re: sumdumgoy

                                                    Thanks sumdumgoy! Exactly my point!

                                                  2. re: Snarf

                                                    Snarf, this is a review of the dinner at Langdon Hall, which is rated as a R&C destination, top 100 restaurant of the world, Toronto 4 stars. However, it does not quite live up to expectation, which is detailed why in this review. We are all talking about the meal itself and comparing the dinner with other places in Toronto here. Why do you keep on talking about other 'activities' at Langdon Hall other than the food at Langdon Hall ? Do you mean you will get better prepared food, food which is not too-salty and overcooked with bigger portion if you go with their 'staying package' ?

                                                    The drive to LH is one hour 10 mins from Richmond Hill. It is really not that bad. There are people who are interested to find other high-end places to dine after exploring Toronto' high-end dining restaurant, which is really lacking as I can finish counting with one hand for restaurants with a good tasting menu.

                                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                                      Actually I think what Snarf was getting at was that if you stay the night then you'll end up drinking a lot more and thus remember the whole evening (including the meal) more favorably. Which probably works on most people, myself included.
                                                      Not so much Charles though, I'd say his reviews are more technical and less based on mood.

                                                      1. re: graydyn

                                                        Ah, I see. The Pretty Lady / Ugly Lady Optical Illusion. It happens to me too after 10 bottles of beer at karaoke party .....

                                              2. re: Snarf

                                                Restaurant nowadays depend a lot on repeating customers. If an establishment cannot do a good job the first time round, how do they expect people to return or refer other friends and relatives?! Especially for people who need to do that long drive?! Words of mouth is so important! Can a place like Eigensinn Farm afford NOT to provide total satisfaction the first time round? With a two hours drive to Collingwood, I doubt any one would give them a second chance IF the first time round was a bomb!!
                                                BTW, I have posted a lot of reviews on other boards, both good and bad, based on single visits. Caprice in Hong Kong was great the first time and continues to be great each time I visit. My posting was only on my first visit. However, Spoon by Ducasse, for example, was mediocre during my first visit and did not improve at all during two more subsequent visits. I too only posted my first visit there. Both showing 'one single posting is enough' is all one needs in some cases.
                                                Lastly, if I am a novice to the foodie scene, then of course one should take the review of my 'single experience posting' with a grain of salt. However, with over 100 Michelin restaurants worldwide and over a dozen Relais and Chateaux establishments under my belt, I believe what I wrote about LH was factual and not entirely BS?!!

                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                  I support the idea of reviewing a restaurant based on one visit when posting to chowhound. On a forum like this it's the responsibility of the reader to check multiple reviews. If somebody feels like they need to visit a spot 3 times to make an assessment, we will never get anything done around here.

                                              3. Folks, this thread seems to be getting unexpectedly personal and flame-filled. We're going to lock it now. If anyone else has experiences at Langdon Hall that they'd like to relate, we'd ask that you start a new thread.

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                                                Langdon Hall
                                                1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8, Canada