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Jun 22, 2011 10:57 AM

Bumpkin's--any recent visits?

An out-of-town friend is visiting. She remembers Bumpkin's from many years ago and wants to go there for dinner or lunch while she is in Toronto. I searched the board but couldn't find any reviews.

Although the meal pricing is 21st-century, much of the menu on the website appears to have been devised in 1973. (Frog legs--really? And duck a l'orange, surf-'n'-turf, avocado vinaigrette, "curried shrimp"--you get the picture.) Nothing interesting about the wine list (except that the website doesn't show prices).

The restaurant itself is in an attractive setting (on Gloucester, beside the chain of parks that runs south from Charles just east of Yonge, right across from Fire on the East Side). It has a pleasant-looking small patio out front.

I'm trying to keep an open mind on the ground that the execution of of the dish is what matters. ChefDB shows the same person as owner/chef for many years. That could be good or very, very bad. Has any one had any recent experience at Bumpkin's? All information gratefully received (though I fear the worst).

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  1. It wasn't a pseudo French bistro when it opened back in the 70s in Cabbagetown. If your friend remembers it from anytime before 1980, it's a completely different restaurant today. Only tourists eat there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: iMarilyn

      Thanks for the info, iMarilyn--I'm pretty sure that she remembers it from Cabbagetown. (Truthfully, I didn't remember it at all until she mentioned it, and at first I thought she was talking about the Groaning Board. Ah, the lacunae of the 1970s.)

    2. Went to a retirement party dinner there a couple weeks ago. The best way to describe it was that it was "fine". The food wasn't bad, but I wouldn't characterize it as good either, just fine might also use the word boring. Although the crème caramel for dessert was bad. The food is definitely stuck in the past.

      Not a foodie place to go at all. Go across the road to Fire on the East Side for a way better experience for about the same price.

      7 Replies
      1. re: camp1980

        Thanks, camp1980. Stuck in the past is exactly where we don't want to be. My guess is that my visitor is now ready to rethink her choice. :-) I'm a big supporter of Fire on the East Side, so we're likely to be dining there, enjoying it as always, and observing Bumpkin's from a safe distance across the street.

        1. re: waydowntown

          My partner has some friends that love it and have been going there for years and always want to meet there. As desribed above it's not really bad but not that great. The french onion soup was particularly good on a snowy night but the rest of it was pretty bland.

          Honestly, I enjoy it just for the time machine aspect rather than the food. The clientele is almost exclusively in the fifty and older set. It reminds me of going out to dinner with my parents as a kid. It might be fun for your friend's benefit to stop in for a cocktail before heading across the street. It's just a couple of blocks walk away and we end up there about once a year which is plenty. But it's sort of like going to one of those Epcot restaurants so with the right frame of mind it's fun.

          1. re: abigllama

            I really like your suggestion re stopping in for a cocktail, abigllama--that would satisfy the nostalgic impulse and still let us enjoy FOTE for dinner. I walked past Bumpkin's on the way home last night, and I was struck again by the attractiveness of the building and the location. Now I'm curious to see the inside. Thanks for this!

            1. re: waydowntown

              Don't get your hopes up for the inside, it is also stuck in the past in a very boring way.

              1. re: waydowntown

                Good I think you'll get a kick out of it and have the perfect attitude to enjoy it! Darkish conctail lounge in the front, brighter dining area in the back. Washrooms are, upstairs and you get to see more unused dining space and time warp back to 1977. You could split an appetizer or something small to get the nostalgia and sample some of the food so your friend will be totally satisfied.

                1. re: abigllama

                  I owe abigllama a big thank-you for reminding me that attitude counts. Three of us went to brunch at Bumpkin’s on Sunday and had a great time. We all ordered a crepe: my friends chose seafood, and I chose spinach-mushroom-crab. The servings (accompanied by salad—spring mix, strawberries, cantaloupe, balsamic vinaigrette) were smallish but surprisingly good. The menu described the crepe as prepared with a béchamel sauce and topped with tomato sauce (huh?); once the server assured us that the kitchen would be happy to omit the tomato sauce, all was well. My friends said that all the advertised seafood was present in the crepes (too much conversation going on at our table for me to taste a sample of theirs). I was pretty astonished to find that the crabmeat in my crepe, though modest in amount, was actually crabmeat and not the extruded pink-tinted pollock that I’d been expecting. The crepes were nicely thin and eggy, and the spinach and mushrooms were the real thing. Real emmenthal atop the crepe, too.

                  We ate inside because the weather was iffy, and I’m glad we did because abigllama’s description was spot-on: several rooms, each evoking a different mood. We sat in the dining room at the back, with windows facing on the park. Definitely non-chic décor: two gigantic crystal chandeliers, full-length murals (sort of Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte as reinterpreted by a Greek resto mural painter), purple tablecloths—charming, or at least we found it so. Best of all, the tables were spaced far enough apart that we could hear each other but not the neighbouring tables. Service was efficient and polite.

                  Brunch for three, including one glass of wine, one orange juice (no coffees), tax, and 20 percent tip came to under $65. I wouldn’t bring foodies here, but I would bring unpretentious friends with, as abigllama suggested, the right attitude. Thanks to all for your input--much appreciated.

                  1. re: waydowntown

                    Sounds like you guys had a good time! If you do make the trip back wait till it cools off and try the French Onion soup. It's really good and the best thing I've had on the menu.

        2. Wow!! I cannot beleive this place is still around after so many years!! The last time I ate there must be over 30+ years ago! I recall the food then was very good ( by those day's standard)! and reservation was a must!!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Charles Yu

            Was this the original on Parliament or the second owners/location on Gloucester?

            1. re: iMarilyn

              At that time, I wasn't a Torontonian, so cannot remember the exact location. However, recall the place is a 'house' with different dining areas.