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Fabbrica--by McEwan

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Mc Ewan's latest is open and I recently joined friends for dinner. The interior design is striking and provides ambiance in the main dining area, however, the bar was empty and univiting. Key attractions are a glass-fronted sausage and proscuitto vitrine, private dining room, open kitchen, lots of eager chefs and a feature pizza oven.

Food quality is McEwan-worthy: good Italian fare, though nothing really exciting or memorable. Menu offers pastas and pizzas with a good range of starters, limited selection of main courses with sides at extra charge, this can make a main course expensive to easily move into the $40 bracket. Salumi selection platter at $ 28 is also costly and meagre: expect a per person cost of around $100 with about 1/2 bottle of wine.

Service suffers typical opening symptoms: product/menu knowledge poor and service not co-ordinated. Why can't servers get organised and know who gets what: why should guests have to claim 'Me' when a plate is shoved across the table with the question 'lamb'? This is particularly offensive when then faced with a suggested service charge of 15-20%, dare not to give less........

Surprising to note that four days into opening the master chef was notably absent . . . would have thought that the first few days are crucial for success and repeat business. The restaurant was half-full throughout the evening; followed the meal with a night cap at Joey's to find it full . . .

Verdict Fabbrica: victim of the old price-value miscalculation syndrome . . . I won't be racing back.

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  1. Thank you for your seemingly well-balanced review. I am going this Friday and given your review and the other reviews so far on the board, I will be interested to see how it compares to each. When deciding I usually look back on posts reviewers have made to see if I tend to agree or disagree with their other reviews. Please let us know what other restaurants are favoured or not by yourself.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ingloriouseater

      ingloriouseater, did you go on Friday? Would be interested in some feedback.

      I walked by Saturday afternoon and looked at their menu posted outside and the first thing that struck was the prices were very high compared to most other Italian restaurants in Toronto.

      1. re: syoung

        we didn't go, the boss left early for the long weekend and postponed it until this friday...but i will report back

    2. Festesser - You wrote "a suggested service charge of 15-20%"

      Is this on the menu? Can you explain a little more?

      4 Replies
      1. re: JennaBean

        I'm out of town so I can't check the Bill, but I am fairly certain that there is a space that lets you tick off a 15-20% service charge.

        1. re: erly

          Is it just me or does that seem a bit bold?!?!

          1. re: erly

            I don't recall this, but the second time I dined there, my extremely pushy and aggressive server leaned into my face and pointed to the credit card machine, repeating THREE times to me that "you can tip me by percentage or dollar amount by pushing either of these buttons". I told her thanks, but this was neither my first time dining out nor my first time using a credit card machine. This was after she said "oh - so I guess you're not including tip on your part of the bill; I'm assuming it will be added to the second payment" (I had asked her to split the bill on my and my friend's credit card by amounts that we designated). Needless to say both my friend and I were extremely annoyed and unimpressed. We both docked off several percent from what we had intended to tip just a minute earlier, based on her 'performance'.

            1. re: LTL

              I'd be highly unimpressed by this too.

              As a note, I didn't have this issue at all when I went for lunch. I did have the "I don't know what seat has which order," but that's about it.

              I don't mind that tipping is available on the machine - I do think it's fine as a passive thing, especially if you can skip and enter your own percentage in.

        2. A discussion about tipping with credit card machines has been split to the Not About Food board:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/740698

          14 Replies
          1. re: The Chowhound Team

            I was expecting a lot more chatter about this place. Haven't heard much at all really. This surprises me.

            1. re: millygirl

              Went to Fabbrica about a week ago for lunch and was not impressed.Food was OK,service was attentive and the room was nice.$215.00 for 3 people.Definitely not worth it.Way over priced for meh food.I agree with Festesser ,won't be rushing back either.And when did restaurants start charging $3.00 for a plate of bread?

              1. re: petek

                $215, wow! What did you have?
                I take it this was not your standard pizza and wine dinner?

                1. re: millygirl

                  $215.00 for dinner for 3 people wouldn't be too bad,but this was for lunch! We shared a charcuterie platter,pretty skimpy for $28.00. 3 mains=2 pastas 1 pizza, 3 desserts half liter of red wine and a beer+ 1 coffee and 2 plates of bread. It wasn't bad,just not worth the money. $215.00 includes tax and 15% grat.

                  1. re: petek

                    $215.00 is pretty steep for lunch. I'd better be getting something extraordinary at that price point. Like, one basket of free bread. :D

                    1. re: petek

                      WOW!
                      I'd say $215 is incredible for lunch! No they should not charge for bread... unless it was artisanal fancy bread? maybe.

                  2. re: petek

                    ok, that $3.00 bread charge is pretty lame. I don't think I want to frequent a restaurant that charges for bread, especially if you ordered a charcuterie platter. Did the platter come with one plate of bread and then you asked for some more and they charged you? (and, did they warn you about this charge in advance, if that is how it happened)...

                    1. re: ylsf

                      While I'm not a fan of McEwan generally, I don't have any problem with a restaurant charging for bread-the caveat being that it's house made, good quality and you are told up front of the charge. This is fairly common in Italy, and other parts of Europe. I don't eat charcuterie with bread, IMO, it's not meant to be enjoyed with bread (unless there is a terrine or mousse of some sort). I can't tell you how many times I see diners asking for refills of free bread while taking up seats and sharing an entree for 2 hours...

                      SWS

                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                        I have never been charged for Bread in Europe .
                        I average over two Months a Year there, including Italy.

                        1. re: erly

                          Where in Italy-I'm curious? And where in Europe-its a big place!

                          I'm not alone in this experience. Please see this thread:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/697946

                          Whether it is not a common occurance for you does not necessarily speak for all Chowhounders.

                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                            Nothern Italy Como to Milan, Business.
                            but Vacation in other areas.
                            France everywhere.
                            Belgium
                            Germany.
                            If we have paid for Bread it has been very subtle indeed, and can't ever remember a time that we needed to request it and told that there is a charge.
                            So I disagree that it is common practice, at least where we eat.
                            and yes, it does not endear me to Fabbrica.

                          2. re: erly

                            "Pane e coperto" (bread and cover charge) is a standard charge on Italian restaurant cheques. As Splendid Wine Snob notes, it's common in other European countries, as well.

                            1. re: Tatai

                              I remember having to pay to use public toilets in Europe,that's not the point.This restaurant is in Don Mills with no fabulous view of the Mediterranean sea.It's not like this bread was imported from Italy.The guy has a grocery store across the street.The charcuterie platter came with a few pieces of grilled bread but we didn't know that at the time.Regardless,we weren't sharing dishes and we didn't linger for hours.
                              When in Rome...

                              1. re: petek

                                Just seems tacky to me.

                                It only reminds me of how wonderful the FREE bread basket is at Mistura. Massimo makes these incredible cheese sticks, flatbreads, baguette. All of this, along with an amazing house spread that is different every day. Now that's how you treat your customers.

                                But this post is about Fabbrica......sorry to digress.

                2. Fabbrica's cooking doesn't measure up to the standards he has set in his other restaurants...too expensive for ordinary food. Service is not good.....

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: section 6 photography

                    See my separate post on Fabbrica