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Chiado question

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I am going to buy a nice meal for my parents (via gift certificate). They love Portuguese food and are definitely chowhoundish, and so my first thought was Chiado. But they aren't fond of restaurants that are very 'fancy': they tend to prefer the little, out-of-the-way, family-run places, and become suspicious or impatient with very expensive food, small portions, obsequious service, overly hip atmostphere. So I'm seeking advice from those who have eaten at Chiado, which I haven't since their menu looks too meaty and seafoody for my vegetarian self. Is Chiado too fancy for my down-to-earth parents? Or will the food win them over?

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Chiado
864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

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  1. All I can tell you is that I think they make the finest fish and seafood in the city. I have never found the staff to be stuffy or demeaning. The prices are not cheap, nor is the wine list but if you give them a budget they always seem to find a great portuguese wine at a decent price. Make sure you get the steamed clams!!

    1. Chiado's portion is not small at all. I'm always stuffed after eating there. Service is good but not pretentious.Decor is not hip, at least not just grey, black and white. I think it's good for business or family dinner.

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      Chiado
      864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

      1. And Chiado certainly isn't "overly hip." Old school, if anything.

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        Chiado
        864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

        2 Replies
        1. re: iMarilyn

          Chiado will never be mistaken for hip. Very good, yes but it's definitely a place parents would feel comfortable. It's a 'nice' place but not stuffy or formal.

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          Chiado
          864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

          1. re: jamesm

            I agree. Mostly seafood oriented. Very good, generous portions but a bit pricey.

        2. Agree with much of the comments already posted. Hopefully your parents like seafood because that is what they mostly serve (or are known for). When I was there, I saw a relatively young couple with their child in tow - they were quite dressed up, but your parents would be fine slightly dressed down as well. I would definitely not consider this to be a family-run place... expensive food, but portions are large/filling as others have mentioned.

          What it DOES remind me of a little bit is Morton's Steakhouse... our waiter brought out slabs of fish on this massive silver platter and went through the various types of fish on offer. The service was great, as was the food. If you asked me to categorize this place, I'd say it's fancy rather than casual, but not overly so.

          1. Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions - I knew the wise Chowhounders would share valuable expertise! I shall get my parents a substantial gift certificate and recommend to them the seafood and Portuguese wines.

            11 Replies
            1. re: thought_for_food

              If you haven't already purchased the gift certificate, today's Groupon is $79 for two for a five course tasting menu at Chiado. Sounds like a good deal! The five tasting courses include:

              Two cheese appetizers
              Two small fish plates or bisque
              Two scallops or fish plates
              Two pan roasted skate or Tyler fish entrees
              Two mixed platter of sweets.

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              Chiado
              864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

              1. re: torontobelly

                I'm not a fan of Chiado, but even I'm considering this deal. Skate is one of my favourite fish, I don't understand why I don't see it more on menus or at my fishmonger considering it is possibly the cheapest piece of fish around.

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                Chiado
                864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                1. re: dubchild

                  Possibly because populations are suffering from overfishing:
                  http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr...

                  1. re: Wahooty

                    Thanks for the info. I think I have to update my seachoice app.

                2. re: torontobelly

                  That's one element of the deal, torontobelly. The other is $30 for $60 worth of food. A table of 4 or more can use 2 coupons at once.

                  1. re: Yongeman

                    Yep - this is the deal I got. Now it's included with the gift card and (very classy) cover letter for my folks!

                  2. re: torontobelly

                    Was at Chiado tonight for the Groupon deal, $79 5-course tasting menu for 2. We simply didn't get the regular Chiado experience.

                    The night was rush. We were in and out in 1.5 hour, for a 5-course meal! The ambiance was not the same, it's a different clientele that feels more like Jack Astors. The food portion was not generous like usual. All dishes were small to very small, except for the dessert which was normal. No way was the menu worth $100 pp. At $40 pp, may be ... barely. We added wine pairing for 2 of the 5 courses for $5 per glass.

                    In a way it's similar to Summerlicious ... If you already knew the restaurant, then going there for the deal will be disappointing 'cos it's simply a lower grade experience. But if you normally couldn't afford such a place but go there with the deal, you may be satisfied 'cos you have a different expectation.

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                    Chiado
                    864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                    1. re: derekw

                      And a Tuesday night of all nights! Were you rushed because the place was busy with other Grouponers, or because the service felt hurried, or because the portions were so small you devoured them in no time?

                      Thanks very much for being the CH Groupon guinea pig. From the Chiado Groupon page, 2,058 were bought. I'm no Groupon expert, but that sounds like quite a lot compared with other restaurants (355 at Beaver, 788 at Mildred's Temple).

                      1. re: vidkid

                        It was not full, but rather busy for a Tues night, although they only opened their "east wing". My guess, roughly half were Grouponers. Think about it ... 2000 coupons bought, they expire in 6 months. That works out to be around 10 Groupons per night on average! The service was still excellent, I must say.

                        I think we felt rushed because of our expectation. It is a 5 course tasting menu with partial wine pairing at the wonderful Chiado. We expected an extended evening of culinary experience. But we got the opposite. Some might call it efficient? A few bites cleared each dish, the dish was rapidly cleared away and the next dish arrived.

                        I'm not recommending against it. Chiado is a great restaurant. You just need to know what you are in for. Groupon ($40 pp) + drinks, tax, tip ($30 pp) = $70 pp. Some may see this a reasonable deal, but a steal it's not. Personally I would go back after the Groupon period and pay regular prices, which is pretty much the same way I deal with Summerlicious.

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                        Chiado
                        864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                        1. re: derekw

                          I am also wondering if the expect tip on the "full value" (i.e. what they consider the value). With other groupons if I pay $25 for $50 and my bill is$50 before using the voucher I will pay tip on that $50 amount. Sounds like the meal this time around is worth more like $40 vs. their declared value.

                          1. re: ylsf

                            That's another interesting bit. There's a menu printed just for Groupon. And the menu states the tax and tips to be added on. The tax applies to the Group value, $79. Tip was 15% at $25. That's odd, 'cos that would mean the principle value was $167, when the Groupon's stated value was $200. Anyway, that's a little odd, but not a big difference. This didn't affect our experience one way or another.

                3. Thanks for your groupon experience review. If anyone else goes please post your experience. if it is really that bad I might try to get a refund (i.e. if it isn't worth $40 a person).

                  1. We used our 5 course groupon last night. I had been several times before and always thought Chiado was over-priced and over-rated. This groupon experience was the best experience I've had at Chiado. The dishes worked better because they were smaller and each one with its own individual sides. They offered a wine pairing with each course which added to the overall experience. The fresh cheese is the same they usually offer as an amuse. The sardines were deboned, very fresh and firmly textured, and had a good grilled flavour. The monkfish was cooked a little more then I cook it and the beans had a piri piri and possibly some lobster bisque as a sauce, both were very flavourful. The lemon risotto with the skate had perfect separate, firm grains but was still creamy. Dessert was a simple 3 taste sampler. Overall a wonderful experience with decent sized portions. The pacing was quick but not rushed, service was attentive and warm, and the room has not faded with age. I guess the groupon is no longer offered, but those who have yet to use theirs have something good to look forward to.

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                    Chiado
                    864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dubchild

                      Used the Groupon for the Tasting Menu tonight and have to say I was very disappointed with the event. To start off the host is incredibly full of himself, overly brisk, with the feeling that you should understand you are lucky to be in his restaurant. The tasting menu is definitely a tasting menu, a small taste of a few things. The rooms are lovely, the design excellent, the service staff very efficient. A very large investment has been made in far out dishware, too bad the same can't be said for the food. The serving plates were piping hot, sadly not hot enough to heat up the food. The cheese course was a joke, reminiscent of those cardboard circular cheese boxes with a dozen triangles of tasteless cheese, along with two tiny smears of soemthing that may have tasted good if there was enough to taste. The lobster bisque tasted oddly sour for some reason. The main: Tyle Fish could have come from Captain Highliner, the sauce was so incredibly spicy there was no tasting of the fish. Lukewarm mashed potatoes (they cool of quickly when there is only a teaspoon of them, could have come from a box of powder. The dessert sampler was merely amusing. The biggest item on the menu was pretension, definitely more than I needed.

                      To finish off the evening we were presented with a menu card that ordered us to pay a $25.00 tip! Nothing less, nothing more.

                      When a restaurant starts off by acknowledging that they have rough rubes as customers and need to be instructed on tipping, they lost me.

                      Groupons and Winterlicious should be mediums to bring in new customers to become regular customers, not to drive them away after one evening.

                      I am rethinking my whole interest in Groupons and such. Tell me I am getting a hundred dollar meal for a discount, and then give me a discount meal with an inflated tip and I am soooo outtta there!