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I would rather eat the bowling shoes!!!!! [The Ballroom]

So where to begin...First off we were not expecting fine dining but with the hype and location we certainly expected more then what we got. I am not one to write reviews but felt this spot deserved it

We were a group of 10 so I expected at least one of us in the group to be less than thrilled about their food.

But first we had to get food!!!

Service was horrible. The waitress could not remember 3 drink orders even after writing them down.

The food took forever to come and the restaurant was empty.

Once there the food was sent out it was sent back. The orders were wrong and some were sent back only to be sent back a second time this time for being inedible.

The wings tasted like metal, the burger fell apart and left me dehydrated, the nachos were covered in unseasoned beef.

When the wings were sent back (a second time) we were met with distain instead of an apology. The waitress basically told us we were wrong and the manager did not apologies his exact words were "I want to get the kitchens side of the story"...what story? They were horrible and sent back. We were expecting "I'm sorry can I get you something else"? Instead we got attitude. But as I looked around at the empty restaurant I realized that when your rent is 100,000 bucks a month and you have no customers...your cranky!

The best part of the night was the overpriced bowling. Although pricier then say bowlerama it is fun for drinks and a game with friends. But if you are looking for a bite of lighter fare eat before you go...Jack Astors, Milestones Real Sports is a five star in comparison!!!

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  1. The restaurant mentioned above is The Ballroom at Richmond and John

    3 Replies
    1. re: darlon

      I have heard really bad things so far about the service. Mike Bullard was talking on the radio about how some people he knew went there to celebrate someone's birthday and how the service was really bad.

      I know it is fairly new and all but they really need to sort out their service issues (and food issues according to what you posted above).

      I was kind of disappointed when I missed out on the Fabfind offer but maybe for the better.... Although, like you said, fun for bowling/drinks... if they can bring the right drink order!

      1. re: ylsf

        i'm spending the coupon on bowling, as it is meant to be... and then going a couple blocks away for tastiness.

        1. re: ylsf

          You're lucky missed out on the fabfind offer. We tried to use it and it was a complete disaster. The Ballroom weekend managers were refusing to honor the vouchers for weekend matinee bowling (despite there being no such restriction). The Ballroom's own twitter account was actually pumping the no restriction deal the very day we were told there WAS a restriction.

          The Ballroom seems to be claiming now they'll oh so graciously accept the vouchers for weekend bowling but we returned our fabfind deal in disgust.

      2. Thanks for the warning. There is quite a bit of buzz about this place; I'm glad to not have to learn about it the hard way.
        "The wings tasted like metal" - That's just scary.

        11 Replies
        1. re: graydyn

          Check the menu www.theballroom.ca

          This place has megaflop written all over it.


          1. re: sumdumgoy

            Seems like Sysco "boil the bag, open the bag, dump on plate, serve plate" stuff which many pubs use as a viable food model. If they can't execute that simple procedure then, yes, they do have a problem, but I don't see how the menu contents themselves scream "megaflop".

            1. re: Pincus

              There's Buddga Dog mini pogos on the menu which sound pretty awesome. Unless it's misleading branding it couldn't come from a Sysco truck.. But sounds like poor execution of the house ground burger if it fell apart.

              1. re: abigllama

                Good point, a couple of the things sound like maybe they are sourcing them from somewhere else, or maybe even making them there! (Naaaah.)

                1. re: abigllama

                  They are buying the dogs, but not the artisanal toppings that are the charm of BD. I think the BD owners would shudder at the thought of French's on one of their dogs.

                  1. re: Snarf

                    Yeah but they're attempting to make mini corn dogs out of 'em. Artisanal topping have no place in deep fried meats. French's sounds perfect! :)

                2. re: Pincus

                  At those prices the food had better be stunningly good or there will not be repeat business. No repeat business = Megaflop

                  1. re: sumdumgoy

                    Ah! I get it now. Some of the prices seem ok for the area (agreed, if the food is prepared well), but some, like the nachos example, seem to me like price gouging.

                    I'd rather go to the Bowlmor in Times Square and eat there after looking at their menu. From which prices are cleverly omitted...


                    1. re: Pincus

                      to be fair they have 2 sizes and prizes for nachos...regular at $14 and the mega big or whatever for the $28...

                  2. re: Pincus

                    This inputs are definitely not Sysco truck crud, and the exec chef is a guy with a good reputation. The fact that they don't seem to be able to do the ingredients justice (a report I've also heard from someone who knew the chef from a previous gig and was shaking his head in bafflement as he said it) is disappointing.

                    There was a lot of hope that this place was going to be a good gastropub with bowling, one hopes they can get it turned around while they still have a chance.

                    1. re: Pincus

                      Thanks Pincus for confirming what I've always suspected - "boil in the bag" food, - oh and "mechanivally separated chicken meat". I can elaborate on the latter based on my year in a slaughterhouse but I think Hounds wouldn't like to hear the nasty details!

                3. I've been, and the place is terrible.

                  Drinks never came, food never came, and when some food did finally show up we were without cutlery.

                  $28 Nachos...need I say more.

                  They also offer the most claustrophobic bowling experience of a lifetime.

                  I will continue to never go here by choice, and strongly encourage my friends to avoid it like the plague.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: dlw88

                    $45 per hour for lane rental was my first clue to stay away, but, for all the money invested in this place, why not hire a decent chef and servers to create, execute and deliver great eats and drinks to go with the vibe? There's potential for this place to be great.

                    1. re: 1sweetpea

                      $28 for nachos?? $45 per hour for bowling?? Yeesh, those are crazy prices.

                      Too bad, I was actually looking forward to this place for a fun night out. With all the money they've invested, maybe they'll get their act together and make some changes.

                      1sweetpea, belated thanks for your Windsor recs - in the end, we didn't stop there 'cuz the timing didn't work but did take you up on your Al-Ameer rec for Dearborn. Cheers!

                      1. re: peppermint pate

                        PP, I'm happy to hear it. I was a bit worried you'd stop into Vinnie's and be SOL on the pastries. I have only seen them the one time, though the owner says she makes them frequently, but not always, on weekends. I hope you enjoyed Al-Ameer. It isn't much to look at from the outside (or inside, for that matter), but the food's good. Next time, hit Slow's for gumbo, ribs or pulled pork.

                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                          Really enjoyed Al-Ameer, thanks - I posted a trip report on the Great Lakes board, if you're interested in hearing more. Okay, apologies for the sidebar everyone - back to the bowling alley reviews...

                  2. Aww, it makes me sad to hear this. I love a little drunken midnight bowling, and I was hoping this place would be awesome. (Though, I admit that that hope was tempered with with a well-developed sense of the futility of hoping that any place like this in that location could possibly be even good.)

                    So are there any bowling alleys in Toronto that do have good food? Or is it all kinda crap everywhere?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                      Thorncliffe bowlerama is fairly decent for drinks, cosmic bowling. The food is not great, but the pizzas are close to average delivery.

                      I'm utterly amazed that someone would try to do high end bowling as a venue. I thought curling would have been first.

                      1. re: Snarf

                        From the article I read last year about this place, it sounded like they were trying to do a Toronto version of Bowlmor or Brooklyn Bowl. If they don't fix the food, service and pricing issues, they won't be able to overcome the negative WOM and stay afloat.

                        1. re: Snarf

                          I did a work team event at the Thorncliffe bowling alley and everyone had a great time - it's genuine, and yeah, a bit corny, but that's part of its original 60's charm! We'd never been before and we all had a great night of beer drinking and bowling and many never knew they would be so good at bowling! I recommend it - sounds way better than this pseudo thing on John Street.

                          1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                            Wonder if this will be the same type of thing with ping pong instead of bowling, being just down the street, an upscale sporting experience for the young downtown crowd with disposable income to part ways with.


                            1. re: CBlake

                              Yes, I think it will be... like that ping pong episode on "Entourage". Flavour of the minute. Bimbos and Himbos need to do some original thinking about how to keep themselves entertained - instead of rehashing the mythical 50's pastimes of their Grandparents. How about a bit of history reading? Oh wait - too hard.
                              If you'd really like to try bowling, grab a buch of friends and take a taxi to Thorncliffe, it's the real deal and will appeal to the ironist in you!

                          2. re: Snarf

                            I went to Thornecliffe Bowlerama last week.
                            It's cheap, it's ghetto and it's 80s. It's like stepping back in time to a place where literally nothing has been touched for 30 years.

                            Best bet would be to grab some food at Bamiyan Kabob or Iqbals across the street and eat it there.

                            Bamiyan Kabob
                            62 Overlea Blvd, Toronto, ON M4H1C4, CA

                            1. re: pakmode

                              Oh yeah! Exactly my kind of evening! I loved the retro feel of the Bowlerama, and those kebabs from Bamiyan can't be beat!

                        2. I've had a similar experience...

                          I was at 'The Ballroom' about a month ago and wrote them up on it. I payed to much for the quantity I received (not to mention the quality) and the service was just horrendous! They missed simple instruction entirelyI It was only a table of 4, and I couldn't hear my friends talking because the music was much to loud. They're hanging like, seven, 800 watt speakers from the ceiling! C'mon, really?

                          The thing I hated most about 'The Ballroom' that night, was that they told us we were not going to be able to play a game. Why? No explanation. I wasn't planning on staying around anyways as I was tired, but for the people we met later downstairs (a birthday party of 10 - 14 of us in total), who did want to play, that was a big let down. They had booked the lane that day with no issues.

                          I won't be going back unless just for the lane and some drinks. The upstairs back-end looks like the headquarters of Facebook with a bunch of "popular" kids in skinny jeans, plad shirts, and skull candy headphones. Lest I mention how they threw their bags, jackets and scarves on the floor and played 3 hours of bachi ball...

                          Ugh get focused! Your clientele @ the bar were wearing business suits and drinking martini's!


                          1. Wow. I'm so glad I read this thread. I was considering booking an event here (well...if they ever get back to me! it's been two weeks now of no communication since our first contact. huge red flag there.) but I'm definitely considering a different venue instead.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: pinkprimp

                              Oy, sorry about the bad suggestion pink.. this is the risk you take when you trust non-foodie friends for food-related recommendations....

                              1. re: pinkprimp

                                Had the same experience with emails. I emailed 3 times nad left 2 messages and still no callback for booking a corporate event. They will be losing a lot of money here.

                                1. re: fryerlover

                                  "how much tip are you going to leave?" Ha! Priceless..

                                  1. re: NoFixedAddress

                                    Yeah. You can serve bland food and have rude grubby staff and still get 3/4 stars? Someone wants future advertising...

                                    1. re: mindme

                                      Well, to be fair, she liked most of the food. Still, with the service problems, surely it's more like 2/4 stars?!?

                                  2. Looks kind of cool in the pictures to be honest

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: duckdown

                                      Yeah, the space does look great. I just would find it hard to spend what they're asking for prime time bowling...maybe I'll just drop by some time for a pint and a nosh.

                                    2. Has anyone been recently? Have the food and/or service improved? A friend wants to have their BDay party here and I am trying to suggest elsewhere.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: bringonthelbs

                                        Well, now two newspaper critics (Star and Globe) have talked up the food, so maybe something has changed...

                                        1. re: piccola

                                          the food hasnt changed , its still awful, service sucks. i heard they are opening another place ,the chef is not capable of cooking food here , its fast food but made bad.
                                          we tried to bowl they said it was all reserved no one showed up while we sat there 5 of us for 2 hours . wont be back bowlerama here we come
                                          too bad a bowling alley with good food is a good concept

                                          1. re: whyeat67

                                            I was there last weekend, we used a voucher for the bowling and ordered some fries to split as we weren't really hungry. The fries literally took 30 minutes to come out. And they were just fries. Normal fries. Service across the board (bowling, food) was disorganized and confused. This is my second time there (we went once right when they opened) and I'm probably going to avoid it from now on. I agree with whyeat67 - good concept, terrible execution. I wouldn't be surprised if they closed this year.

                                            1. re: ggom1

                                              Wow they're grudgingly letting people use the FabFind vouchers on weekends now? Even after they claimed they were honoring the publicized deal (the one The Ballroom themselves tweeted about), I heard reports they were still telling people the FabFind voucher had weekend restrictions.

                                              1. re: mindme

                                                Grudgingly is a good word - first server we asked said he wasn't sure if we could use it, but didn't see why not - second one said they don't usually accept them on weekends but he'd check (the place was empty at this time) - he checked with a manager (owner?) and said they'd accept it this time.

                                                I was surprised that the Globe review wasn't entirely negative. After waiting 30 minutes for fries, I'd be afraid to order anything more complex since at that rate, it might be hours before I see the food.

                                      2. Have they said how they'll prepare the bowling shoes?

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Snarf

                                          After all this I was surprised to see Joanne Kates gave this place a thumbs up review in the Globe and Mail this past weekend.

                                          1. re: terrycar

                                            I read that as a mixed review, and she certainly didn't like the service.

                                            1. re: Pincus

                                              True. The positives were directed towards the chef more so than the whole operation.

                                        2. We were on a time crunch for a movie. Plans were to go to Khao San Road but it was rammed with a long wait, so ended up at with a patio table at The Ballroom. Remembered reading about the slow food and service after we'd ordered drinks so was a bit worried.

                                          Server was friendly and made some rec's on the menu. We chose stuff that we assumed wouldn't take too long in case there was issues. We got an order of the pogos, nachos and lettuce wedges. The food came out about 15 minutes after we ordered it. The pogos were awesome with the Buddha Dogs and were my fave of the night. Nachos were solid and had some roasted corn on them which was a nice touch. Lettuce wedge was kind of meh as it was served with a sweet vinegarette which got old about half way through. But overall the food was good and would be happy to return.

                                          Our server was freindly and was on top of things. We got in and out of there with two drinks each in about 45 minutes. So either we got lucky or some of the problems have been fixed there. Those pogos are officially a new guilty pleasure of mine.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: abigllama

                                            Went there with a work group the other day. Everyone enjoyed their meal.. The $12 Mojito was superb.

                                            Fried pickles were not good at all (note it's my first time trying)

                                            Service was very friendly if a little slow. IMHO the food is overpriced - but what I tried was definitely tasty.