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Acadia -- who else has been?

The only thread on Acadia was more about pre-opening discussion, with one review:


Has anyone else been there? I'm going next week and would love to hear about experiences with the various dishes.

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  1. Went over the weekend for a friend's birthday and really enjoyed it.

    Opened with cocktails. Friend: Punch of the day (liked it but friend thought it was served in too small of a glass, even though that is the kind of glass my Mom drinks her before Dinner sherry from, so I thought it was okay). Me: Can't remember the name but the one with tequila, absinthe & ginger beer (I'm on a ginger beer kick this Summer so really loved this drink).

    Amuse bouche: roasted soy nuts, pickled okra, green beans, fingerling potatoes, fennel and cucumber - nice start.

    Appetizers: Friend: Chesapeake Bay Crab - so good, great balance of ingredients on the plate that worked together well. Me: Shrimp & Grits - this is really quite delicious and my favourite dish of the night. The ham hock adds a great flavour but the dish is not overly salty, as sometimes can happen. The shrimp was perfectly cooked & quite big.

    Mains: Friend: Pork Ribs - braised and soft. I liked the 2 ribs my friend let me have! ;) Me: Rainbow Trout - Again perfectly cooked and comes as a poached long roll.

    Sides: Cornbread with Sweet Potato Butter. Great cornbread, comes to the table nice & warm and the butter is a delicious accompaniment. Boudin Balls with Red Pepper Honey - yum! I ate these myself because friend is not into boudin. Light in texture and not overly fried/heavy. We also had a bottle of the Italian red wine.

    Desserts: Friend: Sugar Pie - I found this very sweet (yes, I know, *sugar* pie, but I tend to like my baked goods/desserts not too sweet). Me: 75% Chocolate Bar: Enjoyed this because hey, 70%+ chocolate! We also had a glass of brandy each.

    Service was informative, helpful & attentive. I will go back.

    8 Replies
    1. re: always_eating

      Great review, thank you! You tried most of the items that I'm eyeing on the menu. Can you please tell me more about the crab app? How is the crab served? I can't tell from the menu description whether it's part of mixture, served in the shell, just the meat, etc.

      The shrimp and grits sound fantastic, and it's good to know the ribs are braised rather than smoked.

      1. re: TorontoJo

        i felt there was something strange about this place. Something funny about the menu, how it is laid out and the pricing. For instance, my husband had a fish dish, listed and priced as a main, that was by no means a main. some of the plates are quite small and seem they need accompaniments in order to comprise a main, but the menu doesn't 'say' that (directly or indirectly through layout etc...)
        For us, there was a disconnect between the sparse room and the style of food. I can't quite put my finger on it. I'd be interested to see if anyone shares my thoughts or can articulate them more clearly?

        1. re: nummanumma

          We went last Saturday. The food was impeccable - truly original and tasty. (With the exceptions of the dessert - honestly only 2 to choose from and neither outstanding). However, the room was totally lacking - generic home depot tile floor, ugly tables bereft of candles, badly hung art, no sound dampening, bad lighting and zero personality. To tell you the truth, it almost ruined the experience for me. The room wasn't spare enough to be considered minimal. It was just undecorated.
          Had similar feeling about my experience at Keriwa - great food - ugly room.

          1. re: marionclaire

            I fully agree with you marionclaire. This restaurant is undoubtedly one of Toronto's top 3 openings in 2011 (maybe even #1), but the decor has got to be one of the worst. Clearly they had a very limited budget, but there are many things you can do to make the room feel warmer and more intimate. Go for some damask wallpaper, expose the brick or even use faux brick if you absolutely must, but don't make it look like some crappy home reno job. Put in a screen or dividing wall to make the larger room more intimate. It currently looks like a dank cafeteria.

            If possible, Acadia should borrow from its future success (and revenues) and invest in the space. This could be one of Toronto's top dining destinations in short order. Well, I have some concerns about the inexperienced and caught-in-the-headlights look of some of the serving staff, but that's for another post.

            Keriwa clearly spent more money but the lights are way too bright, the room is far too open, and the decor is eclectic to put it mildly.

            La Palette's old location in Kensington was dumpy but quaintly charming and they most certainly had a super limited renovation budget.

        2. re: TorontoJo

          Hey TorontoJo, here's a link to a picture of the Crab Appetizer my friend ate (and I had some tastings of).


          It's from Chef Matt Blondin's page on chefs-talk.com. It tasted best when you tried to get a little bit of everything on your fork (and in your mouth). Hope you enjoy when you go!

          1. re: always_eating

            Thanks! I must say that is a beautiful dish, but wow, it sure looks...small. :)

            1. re: TorontoJo

              I guess it does! But somehow, we were both pleasantly full after our meals...I think it's because I had the heavier Appetizer & lighter Main, while she had the lighter Appetizer & heaver Main. Oh, plus the Sides & Desserts. I don't know, the sizing didn't bother me however I am interested to hear others' thoughts.

              1. re: always_eating

                That's good to hear. I actually appreciate reasonable portions and am usually grateful when I'm not served whopping huge dishes so that I feel like a stuffed turkey leaving the restaurant (because willpower and I are not fast friends). I'm going on Friday and will definitely report back.

      2. I went on Friday night with 5 friends. Since the menu consists of 5 apps/5 mains/3 sides and 2 desserts, we just ordered the entire menu with 3 duplicates and we shared everything.

        I won't describe every dish, but in general, everything ranged from good to really good. I found all of the dishes had really interesting flavours and beautiful (or at least interesting) presentation. My personal favourites:

        - dirty rice balls: amazing flavour from the andouille sausage, nicely fried. The red pepper sauce it was serve with was superfluous for me, as I didn't want to mask the flavour of the rice.

        - shrimp and grits: loved the buttery-ness of the grits and the firm fresh shimp. The ham hock broth added a great flavour and textural element, as it made the grits even creamier when you stirred it together. My only beef was the lumps in the grits. I had one lump that was so large that I thought it was a shrimp. It was disappointing (to say the least) to bite into it and discover that it was a pasty lump of grits (can you tell i hate lumps in my hot cereals?). Regardless, the dish was delicious and I would order it again.

        - red grouper: a small, but thick fillet served over more of that delicious andouille sausage and topped with prawn etoufee. The fish was moist and tender and I loved the combination of flavours for me.

        - pork ribs: tender, saucy, braised ribs served over a sorghum (a nice chewy grain) salad. Ribs were tender and the sauce was tasty.

        Other favourites at the table: the milk fed veal and the rainbow trout. The tomato tartelette was really yum, too.

        The dessert were the weakest part of the menu, and next time I would skip dessert and order more savoury items instead.

        Service was very good and friendly -- they have the same model as Origin: whoever is near the kitchen when your dish is ready brings it out. So even though we had an "official" server (who we recognized from Origin), we probably had 4 or 5 different people bringing us dishes and drinks and filling our water. I appreciate this model, as it means the food comes out hot and you never have the issue of trying to flag down your waiter for something. I thought the service was surprisingly smooth for the restaurant having only been open for a few weeks.

        My one complaint: so damn loud. Once again, this is another restaurant that has chosen to decorate with zero sound-absorbing materials. I had a very difficult time hearing the person 2 seats away from me. So frustrating.

        The patio won't open until next year, but it's a great spot on Clinton, just across from the big patio at Cafe Diplomatico.

        So bottom line: I really enjoyed my dinner and look forward to going back and ordering my favourite dishes from the evening to have all to myself. :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          Oh and a shout out to the cocktail list and the bartender! Interesting variety and nice quality.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Your review made me realize that yes, the way the service is set up, everything was piping hot when it came to our table. I hate it when food is just warm at a restaurant, and you know it's been sitting there for a bit. Next time I go back I plan on drinking a lot of cocktails & eating only savoury items too!

        2. Went tonight for the first time, based on reviews - really enjoyed it.

          Very friendly service (Server Lauren). Lovely, casual and very elegant room with lots of natural light. Good crowd, but not over-run despite excellent reviews. Nice relaxed but professional staff.

          Didn't love the free pickle plate, but that's probably just a matter of taste - vegetables were firm and not too vinegary. Nicely executed but not thrilling.

          The Sazerac cocktail is a thing of beauty.

          The dirty rice balls were nicely spicy.

          Crab with cucumber foam was gorgeous - very subtle flavors, but nicely exected, with more acidity than one might expect to look at it. Crab was pristine.

          Boudin-stuffed quail was gorgeous - what's not to like about a crispy little bird stuffed with sausage?

          Scallops were beautifully executed - I hoped chicken crackling would be chicken skin, and it was not, but still nice.

          Crab and scallops were subtle, with no room for error - nicely seasoned, and really enjoyable.

          Shrimp and grits were decadent and delicious. I could live on this dish, but I suspect I wouldn't live long.

          Mrs. Champ and I shared the above starters, plus corn bread with sweet potato butter (not to be missed) and collard greens with pancetta, and we felt nicely fed. Plates are not large, but the prices are reasonable and the quality of ingredients is impeccable - this is how we prefer to eat (rather than gigantic plates of food).


          1. Highly, highly recommended. Had an amazing meal here, the quality of the food was as good as it gets in the city. I could see how big eaters might be bummed with portion sizes but for me, it was perfect.

            I'd like to see the drink prices come down a touch, not sure how a mint julep is $15 when you're pouring Maker's Mark. And our server was a bit odd and intense. But the food (and we pretty much ate the whole menu) was sublime. Go before this place blows up.

            3 Replies
            1. re: childofthestorm

              Everything on the menu sounds amazing. I'm going to try to make it there this weekend.

              1. re: childofthestorm

                funny childofthestorm, i think we had the same server last saturday night...he was a little odd but enthusiastic and effient....
                i hate to recommend this place for completely selfish reasons- would love to keep it a hidden gem but clearly the well deserved hype that it's already receiving will undoubtably make resevations hard to come by.

                had an amazing meal here...given the quality of the food and the thoughtful presentation, i think it's priced extremely well (esp. given my recent underwhelming, very expensive meal at splendido :(...sorry splendido fans).... i LOVED this place....can't wait till my next meal here!

                1. re: todc1996

                  Yeah, the server did a perfectly fine job, just had a bit of a thousand-yard stare going on. A tad off.

              2. Went last night. Quail cooked to perfection. Scallops lovely flavours, crispy chicken skin amazing but the beautiful plating and presentation was lost b/c of the colour of the plate.

                Pork ribs, sweet, tender, soft and lovely. Grouper, meaty, smoky, with a hint of what came across to me as baked beans.

                Collard greens and cornbread with sweet potato butter some of the best sides I've had in a very long time.

                Great addition to the Toronto dining scene.

                1. Portions here are really small I have to say, the plating and attention to detail is up there with the higher priced boys of the city (canoe, splendido). The prices are lower because the portion size is shrunken down from a $30ish main plate at the aforementioned restaurants. I'm for sensible portions but the mains are definitely too small, they weren't much bigger than the apps.

                  3 of us had 3 apps, 3 mains, 3 sides, and 1 dessert. I left feeling a little hungry still.

                  Some of the garnish are a bit unnecessary, such as the arugula gel on the scallop dish, which was also topped w/ fresh basil. Why have a puree that has 60% of the flavour when you're also plating it w/ fresh basil that is 100% of the flavour? The scallops were seared real well, quality scallops to boot. They were salty, which would've been fine on their own but combined w/ more salt in chicken cracklin and parm crisp? It covered up the delicate flavours of the scallop itself. One thing I have to say, they had the balls to use a coloured plate instead of the ubiquitous blank white plate every restaurant uses. Props for that.

                  BBQ sauce for the pork ribs was too sweet for my taste, I would like some acidity in that. The puffed amaranth had great texture, an excellent side.

                  Collards was bland imo, the cornbread and boudin balls were enjoyable.

                  The grouper was chewy on the outside but soft inside. Was it cooked sous vide then seared? Maybe that explains it or maybe I'm an idiot. The other components tasted good, andouille was quite smokey. The problem is that everything else overwhelmed the fish, I couldn't taste much of the headliner.

                  The salad is a knockout, the molasses vinaigrette had a tinge of marmite flavour to it, best salad I've had in Toronto this year. As is the sugar pie, a real homey dish, another best of Toronto, actually very much an APDC/Joe Beef type of dish. Alas, the dessert seemed to come out from a different restaurant, didn't tie in much with the rest of the menu/plating style. It was very simple, which I loved, but was disconnected from the "multiple garnishes to make the plate look perfect" style that was in every course.

                  I'm being picky about it. It is a good effort by the crew, they're definitely pushing the envelop for the College st crowd. Increasing the portion size of mains and showing some restraint in garnishes will make it even better.

                  Big cocktail list, and an impressive Ontario beer list, very seldom seen in local restaurants. They had flying monkey, muskoka harvest ale, beau's duknel buck, black oak nut brown, etc....

                  Service was friendly yet unobtrusive, water was refilled frequently.

                  end nerd report.

                  1. Had the most wonderful experience at Acadia tonight.

                    Made reservations online through their website; got an email confirmation right afterwards, as well as today. Then someone also phoned me today to leave a voicemail to confirm. It was very helpful because they left their phone number on the voicemail, which I used later to call when we were running late due to the weather.

                    The first thing I noted was how good the service was. I went in alone because my dining partner was parking the car, and they didn't treat me like a "not all there yet" party, they offered me water, asked if I wanted a drink, etc. Although the restaurant was full, our server was so attentive it felt like he was our personal waiter throughout the night. He was extremely friendly and yet non obtrusive.

                    I ordered a bunch of dishes for us to share so we could try a lot of things (and because I had read that the servings are quite small). We ordered three sides, two apps, a main course and a dessert. I really appreciated that they brought the six main dishes in two groups of "three", in groupings that made sense and balanced each other well. The standout dishes were the cornbread, the shrimp and grits, and the scallops. (Although I enjoyed all dishes) The collard greens were least impressive, but a good way to balance out the otherwise starch-heavy sides. Short ribs were fall-apart (but not the best short ribs ever).

                    For drinks, I had the "fig off!", which was really delicious. It is true, the servings are quite small (so are the cocktails), so I think ordering to share is the best way to treat the menu. We informed our server we were doing this so they brought two small dishes with each round for us to eat off of.

                    Overall, with 7 dishes, two drinks and an espresso, the bill came to exactly $100. I would definitely be back. An amazing night!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: canadianbeaver

                      $100 with tax and tip? Aren't those cocktails $15?

                      1. re: iMarilyn

                        My cocktail was $11. And you are correct, it was $100 (even!) without tax or tip.

                    2. Had a great meal for my birthday there a few weeks ago. Overall it was one of the better meals I've had in the city in a while, but temper your expectations a bit. It won't blow you away, but it's a much welcomed addition to the city's restaurants.

                      Had shrimp and grits, flatiron, onion tart, cornbread, collard greens, boudin balls, sugar pie for dessert.

                      Shrimp and grits were pure comfort - I'm assuming grits are harder to make creamy than polenta, and they did a great job with them. I was expecting big shrimp to garnish the dish, but they were buried in the grits and smaller than I was expecting. Didn't matter too much, they were really well cooked. Not to mention I have no idea how he can make such a good broth so clear. Major technique I'm assuming.

                      Flatiron was so tender I thought it was done sous vide, but I was told it was just grilled. Amazing. Cornbread was delicious, and after trying the sweet potato butter, everything made sense. The other sides were nice, but nothing to really write home about.

                      Sugar pie for dessert was quite good but really could have been amazing if they simply served it WARM instead of room temperature. Didn't find it too sweet unlike other people on this board.

                      Go, definitely one of the more exciting restaurants right now. I hope with how busy they are they put some art up on the walls and try a few new paint colours perhaps. For a restaurant that will undoubtedly be busy for months after all the glowing reviews, I hope they set aside some money for decor to really make it a full-on experience. Warm, personable service as well.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: miketoronto

                        They had a totally different menu (no sugar pie or boudin balls) last night, but I would say my recommedation to people would be to skip dessert. Maybe in the nice weather, eat dinner there and then walk somewhere nearby for gelato.

                        1. re: canadianbeaver

                          I've heard many good things about this place. Apparently the grits are 'to die for'.
                          Can't wait to check it out.

                        2. re: miketoronto

                          Since so many are enjoying the sweet potato butter, I'll risk going a little off-topic. If you like that, try the Round Plains Plantation booth at the St Lawrence Farmers' Market. They have some sweet potato spreads that'll have you eating your way through a loaf of bread just to have them.

                        3. How's their wine list? do they offer corkage?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: commie

                            Wine list is short and IMO crappy. An uninspired smattering of Canadian, Italian, and French with nothing of notable value or interest. We stuck with the Fielding Pinot Gris which sold for around $56 I think. I'm guessing their wine list is limited because they have a limited budget overall (as evidenced by the decor). I'm hoping their financial success will allow them to expand their offerings in the future.

                            I don't know if they do corkage, but if they do, I would advise it.

                          2. Went last saturday for dinner.
                            The space is nothing special, though it does have an open kitchen concept which I always enjoy. By 8:30 pm the whole place was packed.
                            Service was casual and quirky. Our young male server was professional, attentive (our water glasses were never less than half full), and knew a considerable amount about the wines (though, the list is very short.. so I would expect this). Despite this, he was still up to cracking a few jokes with us and that's the kind of service we like.
                            We ordered the house carbonated water- but it just tasted like flat water to me so I'm not sure if that's normal for them? Regardless, its water. It's really just there to help pace the alcohol.
                            And speaking of alcohol, they've got a pretty interesting cocktail menu, and we told the server the types of flavours that we like and he nailed the recommendations.
                            We tried both the: Mexican Vesper (mezcal, lillet blanc, cointreau, pine of sea salt) which was potent but certainly smooth, and the Summer Preserves (gin, cherry heering, blueberry tea, cranberry jam) which was surprisingly light and not too sweet at all.
                            A peak at the menu, and I was super excited. It's got Southern comfort food undertones, but with an emphasis on fish. They do have a tasting menu option (5 or 9 courses for very reasonable prices) but I was dying for the Foie Gras so I felt it would be better to order a la carte.
                            We tried:
                            Acadia's Cornbread- sweet potato/bourbon butter: Now I do love me some cornbread, but this was a textural masterpiece. It had little bits of corn that added a nice pop of flavour, and you got a bit of the grittiness of the cornmeal itself that was surprisingly satisfying. The bread itself was kind of like a pancake (looked as though it had been pan fried), so it had a bit of a crust on the outside and a super fluffy melt in your mouth inside. But what really made the dish was that butter. It was sweet without being dessert-like and super smooth and luxurious. I would love a pot of this for home before it gets too warm to appreciate this type of thing.
                            N.S. Cod Cheese- blue cornmeal, pickled prawn, sugarcane chow chow, mirlitons, whipped buttermilk: Very interesting texture components. The cod was perfectly cooked and the cornmeal crust gave a really nice crunch. I kind of felt like the pickled and the buttermilk elements reminded me a bit of coleslaw that you'd get on the side of a nice crispy battered fish. So this concept really worked well for me.
                            Quebec Foie Gras- black benne brioche, banana pudding, milk jam, watermelon rind, salted coffee: The foie in this dish was shaved super thin so that it melted in your mouth upon contact. It sat upon a bed of custard like banana pudding with little pockets of slightly sweet "milk jam" and pieces of savoury umami rich cake with a nice crunchy texture from the sesame (benne). While this all sounds very rich and perhaps dessert like, the crunchy freeze-dried coffee bits, and the slightly tart shavings of watermelon rind helped bring everything together into one flawless and immensely pleasurable bite. One of my favourite dishes of all time.
                            Mira Bay Redfish- foraged mushrooms, burnt onion milk, sea asparagus pistou, collard greens: I don't always love collard greens but these ones were cooked really nicely and went really well with the semi-saltiness of the sea asparagus, and the umami-richness of the mushrooms. The fish was perfectly cooked and very generously portioned.
                            Ecolait Veal Cheek- satsuma "Hoppin John", parsley root, chicory pebbles, bitter cocoa: Insanely beautiful presentation with delicious flavours to match. A SUPER tender (and also generously portioned) veal cheek in a slightly sweet-bitter-smoky cocoa sauce that texturally was contrasted nicely with the crispy fried root strings. I loved the little freeze dried bits of chicory, and the smooth and creamy pureed root veg. The legumes on the bottom were also perfectly cooked, so the whole dish came together really nicely.
                            Anson Mills "Gold Rice" Pudding- brown sugar brownie, peanut butter, banana: By the dessert course we started to figure that the chef must have had some experience working with Molecular Gastronomy (and as the Exec. Chef at Colborne Lane, he obviously had a lot). When this dessert came to the table we both said "woah, that's massive" because it looked like about 3 cups of this pudding (the bowl was pretty big). But when I guided my spoon into the pudding, I noticed a clear sugar disk that sat about 1 1/2 inches above the pudding underneath. Very cool presentation. Conceptually, this dish was amazing and included all of my favourite flavours. It had a super creamy pudding with a texture like sweetened condensed milk, with a not-too-sweet blondie like cake on the bottom, fresh sliced bananas, and a crunchy freeze fried bits of peanut butter and cookie on top. Clearly this chef knows how to put together textures in a way that is deeply satisfying. My only complaint was that the rice in the pudding seemed a little off.. there was something slightly stale about it that was a tad off-putting, but obviously not enough to keep me from devouring the whole bowl myself.
                            So for 3 cocktails, 2 glasses of wine, 2 bottles of (not-so-sparkling) water, 1 cappuccino, 2 apps, 2 mains, 1 side and 1 dessert the bill with tax and tip was bout $225. There are a lot of new spots in the city I am dying to try, but I WILL return to Acadia. I am going to keep my eye on that menu and return I will because this was a unique TO dining experience at a reasonable price.
                            If anyone else goes and the menu seems different, please update us! I am excited for another visit.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hungryabbey

                              Great review hungryabbey, thank you. I've never had such a craving for cornbread as I did after reading your post!!!!! And know I know for certain that I gotta check this place out.

                              p.s. How in the heck did you remember all these flavour combinations? Very impressive.

                              1. re: millygirl

                                I stole the menu and made notes on it. It helps me for my own cooking inspirations at home.

                            2. Worst Service Experience in 20 Years of Eating in Toronto
                              * Had dinner for four on the patio at Acadia last night
                              * Ordered the five course tasting menu with wine pairing
                              * Sat down at 8 PM and had been served 2 courses by 10:15 PM. I am glad I didn't order the 9 course meal! We would have finished up at 5 AM. A third course was delivered at 10:20 at which point we called it quits.
                              * Have I mentioned the portions? Tiny. To say we left the restaurant hungry is an understatement. Should have ordered take out pizza from Cafe Diplomatico across the street and had it delivered to our table on the patio at Acadia.
                              * Our waiter, Charlie, was apologetic and tried to make up for the lack of food by overdosing on the wine pairing. While nice of him, we had about 10 glasses of wine sitting on the table by the end of the evening.
                              * Our evening was capped off by being delivered a bill where Charlie graciously took off 40% of the food bill. Unfortunately, there was no concession for the ridiculous length of time it took to be delivered our three courses.
                              * It was $200 dinner for my wife and I that needed to be supplemented with a bowl of cereal when we got home.
                              * Clearly Matt Blondin leaving Momufuku has left the kitchen in disarray.
                              * Charlie - thanks for the laughs. We will see you at your next restaurant.

                              22 Replies
                              1. re: jamiemcdonald

                                On the contrary, I've found the food to be much, much better under Pat than the former individual, by enormous leaps and bounds. Looks like you ran in to an off-night. Sometimes, it happens. At least they made an effort to make it better - many restaurants don't even do that properly, these days.


                                1. re: jamiemcdonald

                                  Clearly something went drastically wrong.
                                  My last 2 dinners at Acadia (with the new chef) VASTLY exceeded the previous version with the old chef.
                                  The kitchen was controlled, food was more cohesive, and more 'elegant' (which the old Acadia never was) to the point that I wondered if it would attract the same clientele.

                                  While there is no excuse for the extreme time issue, your complaint that you left part way through a tasting menu, but were still hungry, really makes no sense (although I may have been tempted to do the same).

                                  Clearly you are upset - but my opinion is that the food there is substantially better - AND worth the price - my previous dinner for two (under Blondin) cost well over $250 for food that was interesting but nowhere near worth the price charged. Larger portions, yes, but a larger serving of 'just OK' food doesn't impress me as much as small servings of 'premier' food.

                                  1. re: jamiemcdonald

                                    Was at Acadia last night on the patio with a friend and it was a lovely night overall but I really have to echo the sentiments on the tiny tiny portions, particularly for the price. The food is wonderful, and wonderful looking, to be sure, but I think that the apps and mains are roughly the same size. The mains are of course significantly more expensive. The octopus and salmon starters in fact I think had more protein than the scallop main (which was served with exactly 2 large scallops and a smidgen of shaved foie). That main was $25 and while lovely, really not a proper main. We also shared a side of patty pan squash (which appeared to actually be zucchini) and were both still hungry at the end of the meal. Normally we would share an app and have our own mains and skip dessert - we are not big eaters. As we were starving we chose to go for ice cream instead of having dessert at the resto since we assumed the portions of dessert would be equally tiny. I should say that this is not a place that bulks up its dishes with unnecessary and carb-heavy starches, which is a good thing. I think that the apps are ok size wise- just the mains need a bit more of the main attraction. There is no complimentary bread available. Service was also quite slow from the kitchen. Definitely don't go if you are in a hurry.

                                    1. re: Cat123

                                      I may have to recalibrate my 'portion size' measure!
                                      As well as this thread (where small portions have been a comment) I have noted that on both Yours Truly and Feasting Room discussions, my satisfaction with portion sizes has not been shared by other diners.
                                      I'm hoping this will soon be reflected in my own 'size' being diminished - although my physician doesn't seem convinced.

                                      I've been trying to figure out where, in Toronto, I haven't been satisfied with portion sizes - clearly it's been a long time. What bugs me more is large servings of 'filler' ingredients (e.g. huge servings of rice with a couple of spoonfuls of the 'main' ingredient scattered on top).

                                      But the weight of evidence suggests my metabolism is slowing (my stomach certainly isn't shrinking) - although, as a possible refutation, my recent meal at Alinea (in Chicago) ended (more accurately occurred just before the dessert was served) with me insisting that there had to be another 10 or so courses to come.

                                      1. re: estufarian

                                        I have to agree with you about the portion sizes.

                                        I haven't been displeased about the portion size in any "good" restaurant in Toronto. And by good, I just mean serious, non-chain, stuff-your-face restaurants - not exclusively fine dining.

                                        I was at Acadia about a month ago and I had the tasting menu. My friend didn't have the tasting menu and ordered the cornbread as part of her meal. I sampled a piece and that, in addition to my meal, put me over the top. And I am not a dainty eater.

                                        I actually appreciate the smaller portions of places like Acadia and Yours Truly, and Alinea. I recently had a meal at Au Pied du Cochon in Montreal, where the portions are fairly large. It was actually our least favourite meal in Montreal.

                                        We knew going in that it was a celebration of pork and foie, and an almost-macho, prove-how-much-I-can-take kind of place. But in the end, I was just bloated with food and wishing the portions were smaller so that I could sample more things. We couldn't order all the things that sounded good because we knew the quantity, in addition to the richness, was going to be overwhelming, And it was.

                                        The next night, we went to Les 400 Coups, where the food and portions were perfect.

                                      2. re: Cat123

                                        Acadia is unofficially a "tapas" sort of place. It's not a typical restaurant where you get 2 apps 2 mains, and maybe a dessert. It's a place where you get 6-7 dishes, and share all of them, and you simply have to get the grits and cornbread as well. Yes, they're "filler" to a certain extent, but they're delicious. It sounds like you had 4 dishes + a side - perhaps one or two more dishes would have done the trick. Often times, if you're not aware and don't ask, the servers will not tell you how to order - we asked on our first visit.


                                        1. re: justxpete

                                          I hear you on the tapas thing - and yes maybe they should mention that and switch up the menu descriptions accordingly - more like how Origin does it. You are right that a couple of extra dishes would have done it. Although I am certainly willing to pay for quality food I think that at present the resto is masquerading as being an affordable "nice" dining option, which it shouldn't be. It is at the higher end because you need more dishes for a complete meal. So people are invariably going to be disappointed for what they get for their money if they don't know this going in. To me, just calling several (equally small) dishes on the menu "mains" and charging 10 dollars extra for them to me just doesn't seem right. I maintain that charging $25 for a "main" with only 2 scallops on it is bound to annoy. Our meal, which included 3 glasses of wine (total), was close to $200 all-in and as two small/normal women we left hungry - we needed to pay probably another $50.

                                          This does not take away from the quality of the food, which was truly excellent and inventive.

                                          1. re: justxpete

                                            If Acadia is truly running on a small plates concept, then that makes it wildly overpriced. $25 for a "small plate" is frankly insane. Even places like Alinea and Eleven Madison Park do not charge $25 per course.

                                            I also dissent on the cornbread & grits. I recall Acadia's $8 cornbread as being downright mediocre, and while I love Anson Mills grits as much as the next guy, $13 for a bowl is pretty outrageous. These are, at the end of the day, still just grits. I've had equal or better versions of both for half the price, though not in Toronto.

                                            I grant that the plating at Acadia is very nice, and there is (or was) clearly someone in the kitchen who is paying attention, but I personally found Acadia to be quite expensive for what you get, particularly given what I recall as the relative blandness of some of their cooking. But then, from what I've been able to discern, that seems pretty par for the course for much of Toronto's high end, unfortunately.

                                            1. re: autopi

                                              Have you been to Alinea recently?
                                              $1200 for 15 courses (each of 2 people, with 'matching wines' - not very well).
                                              Certainly seems like $25 for a small plate!
                                              We'll see what happens at Eleven Madison Park next week when they switch to their $195 tasting menu (no other options - even at lunch).

                                              BUT I do agree with you in general - although take a look at Lee (for example) their small plates can be in high $20's too! Acadia's 'old menu' cornbread was expensive at any price. Two of us didn't want to finish it so passed the remaining half to an adjacent table who were thinking of ordering it. They reconsidered!

                                              1. re: autopi

                                                When's the last time you were there?

                                                And what constitutes and app and a main can be highly subjective and open for interpretation. I, for example, if given 2 large scallops as a main and charged $25 for it, with accoutrements would find that perfectly acceptable. It's not fair to generalize without speaking from personal reference.

                                                And in addition, EMP is now charging $125 for a 4-course menu at lunch and Dinner (more than $25/course). By comparison, Acadia's 5 course menu is $69 ($14/course), almost half the price, and 9 courses for $99 ($11/course), which is $30 less for five more courses (since you felt it necessary to bring up EMP).

                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                  Alinea's website currently lists 18 courses for $210. I ate at Alinea a few years ago, when they were offering the smaller tasting menu, which I think was under $150 for about a dozen or so courses. Obviously, wine is a whole separate discussion.

                                                  Eleven Madison Park, as is well known, brings out well more than their official menu indicates. I had about a dozen on my ostensible 4 course lunch. Even at $200, that's well shy of $25 per plate. And Acadia is just not in that kind of league.

                                                  The point is not to compare tasting menu to tasting menu. The point is that if we should approach Acadia's normal menu mains as if they were small plates, then the place is crazy, crazy expensive, more expensive than some of the top restaurants in North America on a per-plate basis. If we should treat Acadia's mains as if they were, well, mains, then it's of course much more reasonable -- but then it would not be reasonable to expect that 2 people will need to split "6-7" dishes, with presumably, at lest 3 or 4 of those being "mains" costing $25 a pop, for a normally satisfying meal.

                                                  For my own part, I agree with justxpete that it's hard to generalize about how large a main should be, since sometimes sheer inventiveness, ingredients and quality of execution can compensate for a smaller portion, particularly in the context of a lengthy tasting menu.

                                                  I personally thought Acadia was not bad, and certainly showed promise, but didn't think it was really worth the price of admission. Alas, I seem to be having this reaction a lot recently, so maybe it's just me sinking into my cranky (and cheap) senescence.

                                                  1. re: autopi

                                                    Indeed, let's compare apples to apples as opposed to apples to oranges - for example, If you order Per Se's "oysters and pearls" a la carte, it's $170 for just that course, as compared to their $295 tasting menu. I don't know the prices of each of those individual dishes that at either place would be, but I suspect they'd ask much more than $25 per course.

                                                    Acadia asks $69 for 5 courses, and $100 for 9, which isn't terribly bad for the quality of food you're going to get -- and no, of course they aren't in the same league as Alinea, Per Se or EMP, but that's another subject entirely. if you're going to order a la carte - as we've done in the paste, you don't need to order every dish that's $25. The grits are 10 or 12 and the cornbread is 8, and yes, they're very filling, but so is thre bread that you're served at most restaurants, which contributes to your meal over-all. All in all, you can have a great, filling meal for 2 at anywhere from $120-200, in my estimation, and we've done so quite a few times. If you're going to criticize Acadia for serving $25 dishes that aren't as good as the aforementioned restaurants, you're going to need to criticize almost every restaurant in the city, and need to compare portion sizes and accoutrements as well. Good luck.

                                                    And no, you don't need to order 3-4 mains at $25 a pop. There are many options and I was more referring to order 3-4 sides/apps and 1-2 mains.

                                                    Lastly, Acadia has improved vastly since Patrick Kriss took over (about a month and a half ago) - have you been there since then?

                                                    1. re: autopi

                                                      Fair enough - but you were the one that brought up the comparison.
                                                      Good luck getting in to Alinea for $210 - maybe 5:30pm on a Wed (they now have a minimum $285 on Fri-Sun - at least that was the cheapest I saw on their Sept/Oct release).
                                                      Alinea includes the 'amuses' in their count - a small glass of lemonade served to you as you walked into the restaurant counted as a course; also their 'seafood' course with a small taste each of crab, lobster, clam and 'oyster leaf' (on the same plating) counted as 4 courses on the menu. These were part of the total 19 courses served (I guess the lemonade isn't included in the 18).

                                                      1. re: estufarian

                                                        a) $285 for 18 courses is still under $16 a course, which is just a bit over what Acadia charges for their apps. Having had my mind suitably blown at Alinea, I would gladly pay $16 for many of their small courses, while I'm less certain I'd be happy paying $13 for a bowl of grits at Acadia.

                                                        b) As I pointed out earlier, the comparison is not about tasting menu to tasting menu. It is about justxpete's claim that Acadia should be treated as a "small plates" operation.

                                                        c) I agree with the idea that one should probably plan on ordering 1-1/2 to 2 apps plus an entree -- justxpete's more recent claim -- at Acadia. But that is not at all what I thought he meant by saying it should be treated as a "small plates" concept where 2 people should expect to split 6-7 dishes. I thought he meant an app plus 2 to 3 mains p.p.. (I also agree that the 5 course tasting menu is probably a better value.)

                                                        d) No, I have not been since the changeover. I'm glad to hear that it's improved. I actually thought the meal I had under Blondin's tenure was generally well done, albeit a bit muted. (And, as I mentioned, I didn't care for the cornbread.) I don't mean to dump on Acadia. I think it's a good restaurant.

                                                        e) However, I personally do not think $80 p.p. on average (for food) at a place like Acadia (based on my prior visit) is a particularly good value. Once we get that close to the triple digits, I personally would rather just save it for a place like EMP or, in Toronto, Splendido or Sushi Kaji (both of which I am anxious to try, after reading the glowing write ups on this board.)

                                                        f) Which reminds me -- I'm heading to Chicago soon, and will be trying the 8-course tasting menu at Goosefoot ($90, for those keeping count), which I'm pretty psyched about!

                                                        1. re: autopi

                                                          Congrats on getting a Goosefoot reservation - I haven't been able to do that (so far) - but have managed to get into Schwa half a dozen times!

                                                          Acadia (under Patrick Kriss) is entirelyy different from the 'old' Acadia - and IMO vastly better. I found the old version seriously overpriced for average (maybe average +) food. The current version is in my top 10 Toronto places - maybe top 3.
                                                          So the above comparisons are pretty meaningless if you haven't been to the new version.

                                                          1. re: estufarian

                                                            great to know. i had actually made a point of hurrying to acadia when i heard blondin was leaving, on the theory that the place might go downhill afterwards. i'm quite glad to hear the fear was unwarranted, and that the reverse has happened.

                                                            re: goosefoot -- that reservation was a PITA to get, and only happened through sheer fortuity. i've heard schwa is great, and that's where we were going to had goosefoot not worked out.

                                              2. re: Cat123

                                                Happened to visit Acadia tonight. We were absolutely stuffed after this $116 meal (total, including tax and a glass of wine). 2 apps, 2 mains, some corn bread and a dessert. Only half the corn bread was eaten.

                                                I can't even fathom spending $200 a la carte. I'd explode - and I've been known to have a voracious appetite at times.

                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                  I agree. We went over the top with one app and one main each. We added corn bread and and order of rice and Quinoa pilaf. One dessert and a bottle of wine and we came in at about $100/head. Two of us (we were three) couldn't finish our mains and we had to work very hard to eat two out of the three slics of corn bread.

                                                  I had the same experience at Yours Truly where we ordered the tasting menu a while back. We left very full and the bank was not broken. Ditto the Feasting Room (Cow menu).

                                                  1. re: ComerDemonio

                                                    Hmm. I am wondering if maybe portion size is just really inconsistent. I am not kidding when I say the scallop main had 2 scallops and no other substantial food elements. Perhaps they were running low that night? Or they want you to pay up to fill up with extra carbs in order to be full.

                                                    1. re: Cat123

                                                      I really dont think accusing the restaurant of being unscrupulous is justified. Again, i was more than full on a $116 bill, and we only ate two of the four pieces of cornbread. What else did you get besides the scallops? Is that all you ate?

                                                      1. re: justxpete

                                                        Never accused them of being unscrupulous - just not great value, for me anyway . I fail to understand how a $25 scallop main can have two scallops and an airbrushing of foie and be called an appropriate value, even when done as well as Acadia did it. Per the above, I had the salmon as a starter which was great and about the same size as the scallop dishes. And I was starving, as was my companion. I think the food is beautifully prepared and seasoned - there just wasn't enough of it. It's great you had a different experience but I think we ate different items so perhaps they are just inconsistent.

                                                        1. re: Cat123

                                                          "Perhaps they were running low that night? Or they want you to pay up to fill up with extra carbs in order to be full.". Serving less-than-full plates at full prices would be considered unscrupulous by many, as would the other methodology you seem to think they're ascribing to. But I digress. I don't find two scallops + accoutrements to be expensive at $25 either. Would a single additional scallop have helped? Would you have been full then? Those are two fairly light dishes in any restaurant - perhaps you should have ordered something a little more filling as a main?

                                                          In any case, what you've described so far is perhaps $40 worth of food. Double it for your SO and you're at $80.. How do we get to $200 from here?

                                                          Lastly - I don't find them to be inconsistent at all. They only improve on what i consider to be great value. Each of my four visits have been worthwhile - the least of which was prior to Patrick taking over.

                                            2. Going tonight for the first time. Can anyone tell me how casual/dressy it is?

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                                                It's casual but if you wanted to be a bit dressy that's fine too. The room is pretty plain - the patio is nice but a standard patio.

                                                  1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                                                    I hope you enjoyed your meal. We went on Saturday night and the crowd was all over the map ... one woman was wearing a beautiful Missoni dress and on the other end of the scale there were some girls in short shorts (with high heels).

                                              2. I went last night, and I would say it would be close to the top of the meals I've had in Toronto, which is something to say. We ordered the 5 course tasting menu, and it was perfect. I would elaborate on the details of the food but I think majority of the previous posts have it down pat.

                                                The food was extremely flavourful, well balanced, and overall a great combination. There was such an array of flavours in small areas all around the plate that I would sample each of them individually first, and then put them all together in a mouthful. The plating was beautiful and spotless, and the service was friendly and attentive, although it was sometimes hard to hear them over the loud clang of the room (no sound absorbing materials whatsoever). I didn't notice the absence of decorations, my attention was more focussed towards the open kitchen and the young (and attractive!) team of chefs that prepared the meals.

                                                I noticed there were many comments about the portions of the food - yes, if you order the dishes in a traditional starter + main + dessert + (sides) style, most people would still be hungry. However, with the 5 course tasting, I would say we had about 2 starters and 2 mains, plus the dessert and the amuse bouche snack, and we left feeling satisfied - not overly stuffed, but content and happy.

                                                As for the drink selection, I didn't have any myself, but my friends who were with me who ordered some cocktails and had the wine pairing, said that the wine pairing was unexpected but worked (port with the dessert course). Same with the cocktails - different and unexpected ingredients and flavours, but delicious nonetheless.

                                                Definitely recommended.

                                                1. Has anyone been to Acadia since Dustin Gallagher has taken over?

                                                    1. re: prima

                                                      I'd also love to know if anybody has been for their Sunday brunch.

                                                      1. re: ComerDemonio

                                                        Heard brunch was amazing, but haven't yet been myself.

                                                        1. re: jlunar

                                                          Got there at 11am this morning, it was not open. No signage indicating they would be closed for today, and their answering machine did not mention anything either.

                                                          Ended up going to Ryoji's down the street, and checked back an hour later - still closed.

                                                          Are they even operational?

                                                        2. re: ComerDemonio

                                                          I've been here for brunch multiple times this summer. It's probably my fave brunch in the city. The portions aren't very big but they are delicious and different than the standard eggs toast and bacon. They were also doing 8$ bottomless mimosas (grapefruit and orange). I haven't been since maybe August though? The website says they're still doing brunch. I went for dinner this summer under the new chef. Very different than it used to be, not nearly as amazing as it once was but still very good.

                                                          1. re: LiMe_83

                                                            $8 bottomless mimosas?!?! I know where i'm going on sunday morning! I'm excited to try this out as I've been on a brunch kick lately. Went to Chantecler for brunch this past week and it was phenomenal! Also very different from standard brunch. Acadia menu looks great! can't wait to check this out.

                                                            1. re: brushfire

                                                              oh amazing, i didnt even know chantecler did brunch. I'm going to try that out this weekend!
                                                              Are they open on sat and sun, or just sunday brunch?

                                                              1. re: LiMe_83

                                                                I just wrote about it in the chantecler thread. I think it's sunday only.