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John & Sons - odd Globe review

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Did anyone read the Chris Nuttall-Smith review of John & Sons today in the Globe? It's the new Rodney's restaurant at Yonge and St. Clair. He completely slammed the place and gave it no stars. I am really surprised because I tried John & Sons a couple of weeks ago for lunch - it was very good. My companion had the fish and chips which was perfectly fried and tender and I had the fish special, cod from Newfoundland, which was also perfectly cooked and delicious. I also have friends in that neighbourhood who love it and have been back regularly. The service was slow but the food was good. So I'm curious if anyone else has tried it and was surprised by the review. Was I experiencing a particularly good day or is the review off base?

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  1. Agree, review seemed negative. I went to John & Sons for the first time this week, to the Temperance location. One of my companions is a regular and said it was fine as usual. We shared oysters, chowder, crab cake (interesting "garnish"), smoked salmon, fish and chips, mussels, frites. Oysters were fresh. Smoked salmon is from Krauch. Mussels and frites were good. Service was laidback and good - perhaps not bositerous for Chris' liking? I would return.

    Bottled beers are overpriced but draughts are fairly priced. I'm glad Chris Nuttal-Smith raised the subject of wine mark-ups but why single out John & Sons - 170% and 254% is common in Toronto - unfortunately 170% seems to be low end of typical markups in Toronto when 100% for mid-priced wines should be the norm.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fairrating

      The Downtown (Temperance) menu bears only a passing resemblance to the Uptown (Yonge). I don't think the two can, although they should, be compared to each other. I happen to like Temperance. If Yonge is going to have a more focused menu for their neighbourhood, they had better focus on perfecting those dishes.

      I don't see that anyone responding so far had the offending poutine and clam fritters. These provoked his most vehement reactions. Poutine is a stunt dish at best, so if you're serving it, it had better be worthwhile. Had I experienced such a disparity between menu description and plate, and for $21 no less, I don't think I'd have been as civilized as he. Imagine Keith Moon.

      A 264% mark-up on Prosecco IS egregious. First it takes all the fun and sport out of ordering it. The idea is refreshing sparkles without any need for reverence. It's supposed to be inexpensive. Its for drinking copiously with friends whenever you damn well please. Second, it fairly screams "we want to rip you off".

      CNS's review reads to me as though John & Sons committed the worst of all sins: They were boring. They should aim higher than mediocrity.

    2. I was surprised at the no-stars rating. I recently was there for dinner and enjoyed the scallops on brussel sprouts and my friend said her smoked trout salad was the best ever.

      On the other hand, I agree with CNS re the smores dessert - sickly sweet and didn't finish it. Also the wine markups seem excessive, even for Toronto.

      1. I've never been, but the no stars rating seemed at odds with the review. He mentioned a few things they did well. I got the sense he had a grudge against the place.

        1. I'll let you know once I get a chance to give either location a try.

          I rarely read the Globe's restaurant reviews these days because I rarely agree with Mr. Nuttall-Smith's assessments and/or criticisms. My experiences seem to be more aligned with Amy Pataki's reviews.

          3 Replies
          1. re: prima

            Whatever credibility CNS might have had with me was lost with his unqulaifyingly glowing review of Dr. Laffa, a place which I find unqualifying to be avoided, albeit the food is palatable.

            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

              If you say so!

              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                While I don't always agree with CNS, I respect his opinion. His willingness to go beyond the predictable places shows he wants to do more and give more to readers than your average critic. All this is preamble to saying, if you know of a place that's like Dr Laffa, but better, VVm, name it. I'd put money down he'd investigate your claim.