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Celestin - Don't Go

  • b

I have been lurking on Chowhound for years. I am one of those people that you probably hate because I reap all of the benefits of Chowhound and don't contribute back. But today all of that will change. That is how bad my lunch at Celestin was.

I had been to Celestin for dinner a couple years ago. It was an unimpressive meal all aound, but I thought that perhaps it was a one off experience. Today we went to Simple Bistro and found that it was closed, we decided to give Celestin another shot. I had the lunch prix fixe. Vichyssoise, salmon with potato and creme brulee. My husband also had the vichyssoise, mussels and fries. Every part of this meal was subpar. My serving of soup was ridiculously small in comparison to my husbands. They explained that this was because it was part of the special. This would have been totally understandable if the menu said 1/2 serving. But seriously, how much can potato soup cost? I would say it was somewhere between 1/4 cup - 1/2 cup. The fish was burnt on the skin side, as were the potatoes which tasted as if they had been kicking around for days. My husbands meal was not "bad" in anyway but was completely unremarkable. My $11 glass of Merlot had clearly been open for several days and was beginning to turn.

If you are thinking about it, don't do it.

On another note I promise to be a contributing member starting today :-)

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Celestin
623 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2M9, CA

Simple Bistro
619 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

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  1. Thanks birch for coming out with this review! I discovered the same thing 2 years ago, and couldn't understand why anyone thought Celestin was a gem. I kept returning, hoping things would get better and giving the kitchen the benefit of the doubt, but I finally decided enough was enough. The place still seems to be consistently busy, which likely reflects the mediocrity of most other midtown restos. This is disappointing as I live in the area... Hopefully midtown can enjoy a food renaissance of some sort sometime. For now it seems to be restricted to other areas of town.

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    Celestin
    623 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2M9, CA

    20 Replies
    1. re: hski7

      In the same area, there are so many good restaurants to chose from. It all depends on what you want to see on the menu. Is it pastry or full meals?

      1. re: lamaranthe

        Celestin used to be fantastic but the new owners have really lowered the bar. We went about 2 years ago and it was almost comical how badly everything was. Blech!

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        Celestin
        623 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2M9, CA

        1. re: millygirl

          Once Pascal left, food's no longer the same!

        2. re: lamaranthe

          Really? "So many good restaurants" in midtown? I'd love to hear your recommendations.

          1. re: hski7

            Zee Grill. Simple Bistro. Zucca. Tabule.

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            Tabule
            2009 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 1Z8, CA

            Zucca
            2150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A8, CA

            Simple Bistro
            619 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

            Zee Grill
            641 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

            1. re: TorontoJo

              .....Mogette, Fat Cat or for something totally different Lai Toh Heen ( good Chinese), Amaya ( good Indian), Mikado ( good Japanese)!!!

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              Lai Toh Heen
              692 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Sorry, but I have to disagree on Amaya. Their Bayview restaurant is mediocre for the price and the take-out is boring and waaaay overpriced. I've had better Indian from Loblaw's freezer section than at Amaya Express.

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                Amaya
                1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                Amaya Express
                1168 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                1. re: hal2010

                  I agree, Amaya is overpriced. Especially when you compare it to the Copper Chimney which is way better imo.

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                  Amaya
                  1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                  1. re: hal2010

                    I fully agree. Amaya is a big thumbs down for me.

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                    Amaya
                    1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

                    1. re: JennaBean

                      Another thumbs don't o n Amaya. It's not even the price. It's simply not very good.

                    2. re: hal2010

                      ate there when it first opened and panned it on chowhound. am so surprised that their emoire is thriving

                    3. re: Charles Yu

                      Fat Cat has been closed (thankfully) for a few years. We also went to Celestin a few years ago and were very unimpressed. I keep looking at the menu and wondering whether to give it another go. Doesn't sound like a good idea from the above comments. We really like Simple Bistro on Mt. Pleasant. Also agree with Lai Toh Heen.

                      1. re: saltyanchovy

                        Fat Cat closed?!! Didn't know that? 'Used to be' pretty good in that area.

                        Just a short drive down Eglington, may be one can include Il Mulino also? Best Italian in that area?

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                        Il Mulino
                        1060 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, ON M6C 2C9, CA

                        Fat Cat
                        126 Atlantic Ave, Toronto, ON M6K1X9, CA

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          Fat Cat was very good when it first opened but then went downhill. For the most part, Eglinton is a culinary wasteland I'm sad to say.

                          -----
                          Fat Cat
                          126 Atlantic Ave, Toronto, ON M6K1X9, CA

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Il Mulino changed owners about a year ago. Are you thinking the way it was or the way it is? The old owners opened Carisma.

                            -----
                            Il Mulino
                            1060 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, ON M6C 2C9, CA

                            Carisma Restaurant
                            73 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C 2V8, CA

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              To Charles Yu, here are Italian/Meditarranean Restaurants I would recommend :
                              Zucca - 2150 Yonge Street (416- 488-5774) http://www.zuccatrattoria.com/

                              Paese Ristorante 3827 bathurst street (416.631.6585) http://paeseristorante.com/menu/bathu...

                              Quince 2110 Yonge (416.488.2110) http://www.quincetoronto.com

                              Five Doors North 2088 Yonge (416-480-6234) http://www.zagat.com/r/five-doors-nor...

                              I would not recommend Rossini, 1988 Avenue Rd. Pricey for what it is.

                              I never tried Il Mulino : is it good? What would you order, there?

                              -----
                              Five Doors North
                              2088 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A3, CA

                              Il Mulino
                              1060 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, ON M6C 2C9, CA

                              Zucca
                              2150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A8, CA

                              Paese
                              333 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

                              1. re: lamaranthe

                                Thank you lamaranthe,

                                Tried Zucca a couple of times. Not that impressed. Found the food a bit 'bland' for my palette. Prefer Mistura instead.

                                Paese was good. Loved the upstairs dining room and their wine list even more! However, a bit too far for me when I have Tutto Bene just a short drive from me.

                                Haven't been to Quince.

                                Five Doors North was an interesting concept when it first opened. Food was OK, A few like the gnoochi was better than most people.

                                Il Mulino, before they changed owner, was my go to Italian place. Cozy, romantic and very good food. Heard the place under new management is still very good!

                                IMO, with such a huge Italian population, Italian food of our city could be much better!

                                -----
                                Five Doors North
                                2088 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A3, CA

                                Il Mulino
                                1060 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, ON M6C 2C9, CA

                                Mistura
                                265 Davenport Rd, Toronto, ON M5R1J9, CA

                                Tutto Bene
                                8133 Yonge St, Thornhill, ON L3T2C6, CA

                                Paese
                                3827 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M3H, CA

                                Zuccabar
                                299 James St N, Hamilton, ON L8R2L4, CA

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Nothing compares to Mistura....that place is top notch.

                        2. re: TorontoJo

                          totally agree with Zee Grill, Simple Bistro and Zucca
                          We don't have regular "haunts" but come back to all three.
                          Went only once to Celestin after the change, and were so disappointed that we never returned.

                          -----
                          Zucca
                          2150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A8, CA

                          Simple Bistro
                          619 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

                          Zee Grill
                          641 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

                          1. re: TorontoJo

                            I love Simple Bistro as well. Went there once, the food was excellent, even the smell of its freshly baked bread made me feel hungry already. That's why it's so packed even on a weeknight.

                            -----
                            Simple Bistro
                            619 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

                    4. I did accidentally end up there for lunch, and my SO's steak frites was disappointing. But, I have to say that Celestin is one of my favourite spots for weekend brunch. The eggs benny on a croissant is very well done, IMO, and reasonably priced. Nice patio, and service has always been efficient and friendly.

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                      Celestin
                      623 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2M9, CA

                      1. *sigh*

                        I so wanted to really like it. It was fiiiiiiiiiine, but not for the price point.

                        Mr. Vuitton and I went for dinner a few weeks ago. I loved the room – it is cozy and warm; the atmosphere really was very welcoming and relaxed. I felt like I could have been in someone’s home, my own home. Lovely space.

                        Our meals over all were oooookaaaay – nothing really wrong (with exceptions), but nothing outstanding. We were seated at our table and I ordered a glass of sparkling wine while Mr. Vuitton perused the wine list. We settled on a Cote du Rhone for around $90.

                        Mr. Vuitton ordered the beet salad starter and lamb provencal as a main. I had the crab soup to start and the duck two ways as a main. So far the service has been pleasant and attentive. Shortly after ordering, our wine arrived and our server poured some into Mr. Vuitton’s glass for a taste. The wine was young and a bit “tight” according to Mr. Vuitton, and while it opened up nicely over the course of the meal, but there was no offer to decant by our server. After Mr. Vuitton tasted the wine, our server poured some into my glass and then into Mr. Vuitton’s glass. I am about to sound like an ungrateful little brat, but FOR THE LOVE OF PEACHES!!! When you pour out wine into a customer’s glass, DO NOT. DO. NOT. Rest the neck of the bottle on the rim of the glass and tip up the bottle to pour. The bottle “floats” above the rim and you “twist” the bottle to catch the drip. Honestly, resting the bottle against the glass rim is like nails on a chalkboard to me. GAH! I almost jumped out of my seat to grab the bottle. For the record, that was the LAST time we saw our server for the wine pour. Mr. Vuitton had to refill our wine glasses through the meal because our server didn’t think it was important.
                        *sigh*

                        So back to the meal…we were treated to an amuse bouche at the start of our meal. Crab croquette with tartar sauce on one of those Asian soup spoons. Nice crab meat, but too much salt. Enh, what can you do. Chef, less salt next time please.

                        Our starters: Mr. Vuitton’s beet salad was excellent. Well flavoured, the beets tasted quite fresh. Excellent. So, my crab soup…When the menu describes it as crab soup, I somehow envision pieces of visible crab in some type of chowder-like broth. I even asked our server to tell me about it. The word “bisque” never came up in conversation (was described as having very little cream and with a lemon foam on top – still nothing to suggest it wasn’t chowder-like), yet this is what the crab soup seemed to be (disclaimer: I don’t know if was actually prepared as a true bisque by the kitchen, but this is the best descriptor for the menu item in both taste and appearance). Seriously, please at least describe it as bisque-like on your menu. I would not have ordered this if I had known it was bisque-ish. Also, LESS salt. Less salt. Work with me… leeeeeesssss ssssaaaaaaaalt. And, dear server, the bowl came with a little teaspoon with “something” in it on the side. What am I supposed to do with this “stuff”? What is this “stuff”? You walked away before I could ask. I finally saw the woman at the table next to us sprinkle it in her soup, so I did the same. I still don’t know what it was. *sigh*

                        Our mains: Mr. Vuitton’s lamb was very nicely prepared medium rare. There was not a hint of the provencal mustard crust promised by the menu. This was quite possibly the most bland piece of meat ever served. Mr. Vuitton’s mother’s boiled chicken thighs had more taste that this lamb. Mr. Vuitton’s comment: “This may as well have been a pork chop.”

                        My duck on the other hand, was really quite delicious and very well prepared. Tasty, crispy skin on the thigh, a nice medium rare breast; the fig and port sauce was a lovely accompaniment. My only request for plating: please, perhaps more than one over cooked baby carrot as a vegetable side. Also on the plate was a small little side “thimble” of some white sauce. I had to call back our server to tell me what it was – apparently it was the pomme beurre. Fabulous. Thanks for the explanation. Basically, all our server did was plunk down the plates in front of us with no discussion/ “chatter” at all of the plate in front of us and walked away before I could even form a question. Really, I got better explanatory service than this with my burger at the Irish Embassy for lunch today. In fairness, our server did refill our water glasses regularly.

                        So, on to dessert. Let’s get the easy part out of the way first…Mr. Vuitton ordered the molten chocolate cake, it really was excellent. Moist, nice chocolate cake crust and a lovely molten interior. We both would recommend that. I ordered the pineapple tatin. I know what you are all thinking…Cocoa, why would you order a pineapple dish in November? And you’re right! The exact same thought went through my head, and I dismissed it. Dumb idea on my part. But, on the other hand, why would you leave it on your menu at this time of year? I am not normally a dessert person, but a good tatin will always grab me. I always recall my first tatin at Le Gavroche in London – I thought I had died and gone to heaven. In no way did I think that this tatin would be such a piece of heaven, so my expectations were not elevated, but what you serve, should actually be tatin-like. Let me continue.

                        I am convinced the pineapple was out of a can – it had an odd (metallic?) taste to it that I have never had with fresh pineapple. The kitchen did its best to cover it up with butter and brown sugar, but…the taste was still there. Then there is the whole question of “tatin” – to me, that means a light buttery flaky (puff) pastry style crust bathed with the butter and brown sugar of the prep pan. Yeah, this was more like a mealy tasteless pancake base, which did not benefit from the butter and sugar of the tatin pan. It was obviously just put on the plate as a vehicle to hold canned pineapple. Again, I should have known better.

                        So, the whole bill (incl tax, but before tip) was somewhere around $240. WAAAAY too much money for this experience. Meh food, meh service, nice room/atmosphere, great portion sizes for all courses, but the prices are way out of line for the experience. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good and at that price point, the meal should have had more flavour and the service more finesse.

                        1. My heart is breaking while I read these reviews. Under Pascal, Celetin was such a lovely place for a meal. I sometimes think that when an originating restaurateur moves on, the restaurant should also end its run. This sounds like one of those cases.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Lotus Seedling

                            I know, it really is a shame and agree. Pascal would be horrified to see what has become of his little gem. Your experience sounds very similar to ours.

                          2. Should have listened... have not been to Celestin for a few years since it changed ownership and went downhill. Tried it again just to see. Still a beautiful room. The food (and service)? Awful. Start to finish....