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Most Overrated Restaurant in Toronto

I wish to know which are the most pretentious and overrated restaurants in Toronto, so i may avoid them. Thank you for your input.

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    1. re: Rasputin524

      I completely agree. The food is not good for the price. I had lukewarm soup, absurdly salty pasta, etc. The ambiance is nice and calming but the whole experience is not worth it. For a similarly priced lunch in Yorkville, I would look to Pangaea.

      1. re: Pininfarina

        They did a groupon some time back so obviously the level of appreciation for them is not overwhelming. (And I bought the Groupon and, yeah, just shows why I need to stop buying so many Groupons...)

        Though the skylight inside is very pretty.

    2. Here's a thread that lists restaurants that are meh for some Chowhounds:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792993

      1. Local Kitchen was over-hyped for me by the time I got there. It was fine, but the plates were a bit precious.

        1. I will have to say Buca. I know it gets a lot of love here, but my experience was not good. The service was not gracious. I was with a group of 4 couples and one of my dining companions asked the server what "pecorino" was. I think she thought that it was some sort of pepper. Instead of just giving her a response he looked at her for a really long moment as if she had 3 green heads and said "cheese". That killed it for me. The space is nice, the food was okay but the service continued in that vein all evening.

          This was a couple of years ago and perhaps we were just not lucky that eve, but I will spend my money elsewhere.

          2 Replies
          1. re: elasticwaistband

            I've had several great experiences at Buca, but one experience with a grumpy old male server.

            It's interesting how a server can wreck a restaurant experience, even at a restaurant with good food that gets lots of love and recs on this board. Our server at Woodlot was pokey, inept and rude, and didn't want to make the effort to find change for us when we were paying cash, telling us it would be easier for her if we paid for credit cards. Nice service, eh?

            1. re: elasticwaistband

              I too had a horrible service experience at Buca. Server basically implied that we were bumpkins who had wandered in by mistake and might not be able to afford it. The food was decent but I'll spend my cash at Enoteca or Campagnolo instead.

            2. -Starving Artist (I CANNOT stress how bad this one)
              -Joey (all locations)
              -Bier Markt (all locations)

              P.S. Starving Artist SUCKS

              11 Replies
              1. re: mnajji

                What about Starving Artist, Mnajji? Any thoughts on that restaurant?

                1. re: justxpete

                  Are you just trying to get me started?!?!

                  I don't think I have ever eaten at a place that was more offensively bad.

                  1) Two friends and I waited in line for about an hour
                  2) I waited NO LESS THAN 1 HR 45 MIN TO GET MY FOOD
                  3) WHEN I GOT MY FOOD it was the most dissapointing slop I have every had the bad fortune of having placed in front of me. I believe I got "The Hitchhiker" with the upgrade to "Waffle Bacon." the waffles were TERRIBLE. They were just the sparsest things I have ever had. AND they had a taste and texture like cardboard. Not trying to speak in hyperbole here, but I would have preferred Eggo waffles. I think Eggo waffles are far superior to the waffles these folks are making. If I remember correctly, the coffee couldn't pass for brown water either (which you come to expect in a place like that, but at that point I was already well past "the line").

                  The "Waffle Bacon" is the saddest waste of some already-mediocre, overcooked and shrivelled strips of bacon.

                  Finally, yes, it's a cheap place but considering the appetite I worked up WAITING for this sad excuse for a "meal" I did not find the portion sizes too generous.

                  I would not wish Starving Artist upon my worst enemy.

                  By contrast, Easy Restaurant in Parkdale (definitely not the best brunch place in town, but just as an example): wicked basic breakfast, decent (illy) coffee, wicked staff ("Can I take my coffee out to make a call?" "OBVIOUSLY!") and SURPRISINGLY WICKED dense, doughy waffles. I mean not best-in-class by any means but just a surprise how good they are!

                    1. re: MissBingBing

                      I think we can safely attribute a ~2 hour wait for food once seated to clueless staff.

                2. re: mnajji

                  Why the hate for BM? It's a got a very solid beer list (obviously) and the food served is very good albeit not very creative. I always thought it got the job done for a night out.

                  1. re: Brain of J

                    In addition to BoJ's comment, I also didn't think BM was SO highly rated that it could be overrated?

                    1. re: Brain of J

                      I'm going to be harsh on this one, and I'm speaking specifically to the BM at Sherway. Clueless servers wearing skirts so short it's degrading for womankind, especially at brunch time, worst seat given to a solo diner (me!) who was made to feel like she was made a favor by being allowed to move seats, coffee brought half-spilled in a cup without a saucer (and clueless server not even knowing what a saucer was until I explained that it was, you know, the little plate that comes under the cup), and brunch fare that makes no justice to the concept of eggs benedict (which were served on the greasiest, fattiest slab of slow cooked pork something). Oh, and washrooms itentified as Toilettes (which is accurate) in a non-French restaurant (what's with that?!?) NE.VER. A.GAIN! Red Lobster has better service than that (and I'm not a chain fan, I just wanted eggs benny on a Sunday morning, and couldn't find a "better" place than BM). Here. Rant over.

                    2. re: mnajji

                      I'm about as easy-going as it comes, but I agree with the Bier Markt call. The Esplanade location is is ridiculously overrated with obnoxious security who think they're running a nightclub and a beer list that looks reasonable on paper but in reality is usually half out of stock. For some reason people visiting from the 'burbs seem to thing this place is great, but in reality there are many better options nearby. I gave the place 3 or 4 decent tries and now I refuse to return, when my friends insist on eating there I just pretend I just suggest meeting them elsewhere for drinks afterwards. Blech.

                      1. re: mnajji

                        I dunno - is Joey really so popular that it can be overrated? I always thought it was seen as a mediocre "upscale" fast-casual chain.

                        1. re: piccola

                          I think Joey is pretty good for chain food. I'm not saying I'd go out of my way to eat there, but I would choose Joey over Glow or Jack Astor's. The food I've ordered at Joey has been reasonably tasty and reasonably priced. It is quite popular with non-Chowhounds. There's often an hour long waitlist on weekends at The Shops at Don Mills location.

                          That being said, I agree with what you're saying. I don't know anyone raving about the wonders of Joey (or Biermarkt or Sassafras), to the point where I'd have relatively high expectations entering the restaurant, to then be underwhelmed by my order, and then leave the restaurant thinking the restaurant had been overrated.

                          1. re: prima

                            Yeah, that's what I mean by overrated -- somewhere so talked-up that you'd make a detour for it and expect to be wowed, only to find it's OK at best.

                      2. I'll be a jerk and say Chantecler. It was more or less tasty but wasn't at all a good deal. That calamari app was the tiniest plate I've ever paid $10+ for and the lettuce wrap meat reminded me of the great hunks of boiled pork that you get in freebie Chinese soup. I am well aware that this is a minority opinion.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Wench Foraday

                          nope, i think their lettuce dinners/bo ssam is highly over-rated. i've had much better. it wasn't terrible but it wasn't worth any kind of rave.

                          that being said, their tasting menu is spectacular. best non-a-la-carte meal i've had in years. YEARS and i will gladly throw any michelin star spot i've been to against it. there were only minute things i would have changed, most of them relatively inconsequential.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            Glad that you mentioned this, pp, because I gather it is their tasting menu that is winning, and deserving of, the accolades. Despite the casual atmosphere I think it is more useful to conceive of Chantecler as a fine dining experience rather than, say, upscale comfort food (which is what I was looking for when I went).

                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                              Thank you psp. You just made my bday plans for me.

                              1. re: Googs

                                it's super. i'm not usually fond of someone playing with asian food (eg susur's most recent defunct spot) but this had riffs that were incredibly well played.

                                textural playground.

                              2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                I'll bite. Where have you had better Bo Ssam in Toronto?

                                1. re: themiguel

                                  The Bo Ssam from the Momofuku cookbook.

                                  1. re: prima

                                    and the home made versions were better than the resto!

                            2. Bestellen..

                              Lot's of hype but no meat(seriously,they didn't have the cut I wanted that was on their website)
                              Food was OK,service was prompt but I didn't see the value for the $$$ we spent($8.00 for a small plate of fried chicken skins..seriously?). The funny thing was I didn't see any chicken dishes on the menu.so where did they get the skins from hmmm? :D

                              1. I think Grand Electric is good but not mind-blowing, and certainly not worth waiting an hour in line for. That said, it's not pretentious at all (or at least, it wasn't when I was there).

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: piccola

                                  I don't know about you but I can't think of any restaurants worth waiting an hour in line for.. :)

                                  1. re: petek

                                    No, me neither, though I've done it accidentally a few times (ie, hostess keeps saying it'll be five minutes, or friend arrives really late).

                                      1. re: akhorasanee

                                        But... Redzepi! He liked it!! (As per a Globe article a few weeks back).

                                        1. re: mnajji

                                          For a special meal put together for him, not for the regular menu...worth noting that this is the 2nd time Geoff has cooked for him and the first time (which would have been when he was here to speak at an event organized by the cookbook store) he barely touched the food.

                                          1. re: bytepusher

                                            Hahah, I was just being waggish.

                                            But WHO CARES what he thinks now anyway, given his dethroning ;)

                                      1. I actually think most of the "premium" restos in Toronto are overrated. I've had mediocre experiences at both Canoe and Splendido, particularly in the area of service. At Splendido we brought our own wine and immediately they didn't see dollar signs when looking at us, so treated us neglectfully. They actually presented my birthday dessert to my husband. Canoe was just lacklustre and not as magical as I'd expect for the price tag.

                                        1. Momofuku Noodle Bar. No idea why people like it so much, and why there are always lineups for this place.

                                          1. For me it was ICI Bistro at Manning and Harbord..We shared an appetizer of mixed mushroom with 3 different sauces. Then we each had two tasting dinner courses which re-served the 3 sauces again. So I had the same sauce on 3 different courses. There server should definitely have said something to me.

                                            1. Some many choices. The most obvious choice would be Splendido, but they have apparently undergone a transformation since I had the misfortune to eat there. So I'll go more current.

                                              Cava. Of the many overrated restaurants, I'd rank Cava as a close #2. I really don't see what the big deal is. It's just not especially good. I'd take just about any random hole-in-the-wall tapas place in Madrid over this.

                                              Lei Wah Heen. I've never had dim sum there, but the regular foo was not very good.

                                              Fabbrica. When someone invited me for dinner there, I'd never heard of the place so I had no preconceptions. I thought it average or a bit below. I was amazed when I later discovered that it was some big deal. Other "big name" places that I can easily live without include Mistura and Bymark.

                                              Then there are places that are good, but not that good. I'd put Scaramouche and Auberge du Pommier here.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: evansl

                                                What section of town is Madrid in?

                                                1. re: evansl

                                                  There was a time when you couldn't have said so about Cava. Now it underwhelms me to the point I can no longer get excited at the notion of going there.

                                                  1. re: evansl

                                                    My dinner at Cava last Sept would make my top 5 Toronto restaurant meals for 2012. The current menu at Cava is more contemporary/continental with Latin American, Spanish and Canadian influences than Spanish. Comparing Cava to a random hole-in-the-wall tapas place in Madrid is a little like comparing Lee to a random hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in Scarborough.

                                                    Cava is likely to disappoint anyone looking for traditional Spanish tapas in Toronto. Anyone looking for traditional Spanish tapas in Toronto is most likely going to be disappointed with what Toronto offers.

                                                    1. re: prima

                                                      I'm quite fond of Cava as well, but admittedly, I haven't been in quite a year or so - I'd be quite surprised if it'd had gone downhill to such a great extent.

                                                      1. re: prima

                                                        Well then on your recommendation, Prima, I'll give it another try. Honestly, though, the last couple of times I went it was downright ordinary. Then, horror of horrors, on the last try the server was completely unable to sherry pair. I wouldn't even drink the stuff in the first place had it not been for Cava.

                                                        1. re: Googs

                                                          I was most impressed with the veg and seafood tapas with Latin American and/or Mexican influences. While the paella was interesting and quite tasty, it wasn't much like traditional paella, and the portion is very small compared to amounts served in traditional Spanish restaurants. I didn't have any sherry pairings- hope you have a more experienced server if you return!

                                                          1. re: prima

                                                            I generally go pescatarian there as well. I can never eat enough kingfish. Do you really find, occasion nights aside, Cava's menu changes all that much?

                                                            The sherry pair is such a blast. You really have to try it.

                                                    2. For me, definitely Splendido.

                                                      Not the pretentious part, but definitely overrated.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. For me it was Le Select... I was looking forward to finally trying it after all of the recs on here. It especially seemed to get a lot of recs for brunch/etc and I maybe even mentioned it to some people based on other peoples recs. Finally went a few weeks ago and just thought it was "okay". Overpriced for what it was.

                                                        The server was rude. I asked a simple "is the orange juice fresh squeezed on site" question and he was like "I squeezed it this morning myself" and I said "okay" and he walked away assuming that my "okay" was an order for OJ. He turned his back to me before I had a chance to say anything else. I assumed a language issue so I just accepted it when he brought it to the table with other drinks (I thought he was just leaving to go grab something and would check back with me). Anyway, some other service issues as well (not filling up water, hard to get attention) but in general the only person that seemed really pleasant was the hostess... I had ordered the sausage dish with poached eggs... didn't like the poach on my eggs (whites were runny).

                                                        Anyway, to top it off, the waiter added an autogratuity of 15% even though it clearly said on the menu that the autogratuity was for larger groups (we were only 3 people). I am not arguing with the gratuity amount, just seemed like the waiter was maybe hoping that we didn't notice the autogratuity and we would add on a few more $.

                                                        Maybe I will go back for a dinner at some point but I don't feel a need to rush back to see if it is normally better..

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: ylsf

                                                          I would stay away from Le Select - it's a chain like Disneyesque French bistro - it's all about the décor, and the rudeness, and the food is mediocre.

                                                          1. re: ylsf

                                                            Le Select is odd for me too. I find it just average at best. I'm not sure what everyone is going on about. Honest.

                                                            1. re: ylsf

                                                              Agree with this. Had a terrible experience a few years back and haven't been back since.

                                                              Not sure why it is such a popular recommendation here.

                                                            2. Bannock is surprisingly well liked. I found their food to be very bad.

                                                              1. For me it's anything Mark McEwan touches, never really enjoyed any of the admittedly few meals I've had in his places.

                                                                Also personally I had such a crap service experience at Pangea for a *erlicious meal I can't imagine the restaurant is actually that good when they haven't drafted the dishers to wait tables.

                                                                21 Replies
                                                                1. re: bytepusher

                                                                  When I saw the title of this thread I was also going to say Mcewan anything

                                                                  1. re: bytepusher

                                                                    Not a restaurant experience, but I'll still challenge this just a little. McEwan Grocery produces spectacular meals at home. I've not found better lamb ribs anywhere. The Bymark steak I cooked up at home was the absolute best steak I've ever had from any supplier whether cooked at home or in a restaurant.

                                                                    1. re: Googs

                                                                      wow! what cut is the Bymark steak you got at McEwan's? What's the aging type, duration, and price?

                                                                      After having Peter Luger's porterhouse last summer in Brooklyn, nothing I've had or ever had has come close.

                                                                      1. re: msprnt

                                                                        Have you tried the cote de beouf at BestEllen?

                                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                                          nope. the one time i went, i was going to get it. my gf wasn't feeling up to the task, so we passed. is the mcewan's grocery steak comparable?

                                                                          i've only had a memorable steak meal at jacob's in toronto. otherwise, brooklyn, chicago, and dallas.

                                                                          i've concluded that i'm not a huge steakhouse guy, but peter luger's floored me and i still think about it.

                                                                          1. re: msprnt

                                                                            I'm with Pete on this one. I love Jacob's but the Bestellen cote de beouf was really great and I think a good value for the price which is under $100.

                                                                            1. re: msprnt

                                                                              I've never had the Mcewan's grocery steak - but given the state of his restaurants, I wouldn't get my hopes up.

                                                                              Go to BestEllen, soon. I think it would give your Peter Lugers' experience a run for it's money.

                                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                                So it's Steak Wars again, is it justxpete? LOL. I appreciate that you previously went to the trouble of trying St Jamestown Steak & Chops. It's the diversity of products that made it my preferred butcher. I could put together an entire meal without any extra steps. Cumbrae's still ranks #1 for meat alone, but I wanted a high quality neighbourhood provisioner and it's hard to beat St Jamestown for that.

                                                                                Now the Bymark steak at McEwan is a different thing. I don't think it was my expert grilling skills. While I can't give details about aging and such since it's been a while, I can tell you it needed only salt & pepper and a nice Amarone to go with. Since you really likey your steak, you might wanna check it out. I'd take it over Cumbrae's. Yes, yes I would.

                                                                                1. re: Googs

                                                                                  lol, well.. I did take your word at face value - but St. Jamestown came up far short as compared to Cumbrae's. Now you're saying McCewan's is better than Cumbrae's - I'm not sure if I can believe that!

                                                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                                                    I guess it depends on how you read what I wrote over there. I said I preferred St Jamestown and that it's comparable. Cumbrae's does meat well, but St Jamestown does everything they do well. Including customer service. I've never been bumped down the line for a celebrity at St Jamestown. Yes, Cabbagetown celebs exist. They're Canadian and mostly with CBC so you won't recognize them. That actually happened at Cumbrae's. Bumped by Lorraine Segato for chrissakes. Nothing says eff you quite so much as that.

                                                                                    All I can say is I can't be bought, charmed, or herded into liking anything. You may as well give the Bymark steak from McEwan Grocery a shot. At least you can get good hooch right next door to drown your sorrows if you don't like it. You won't need the double vision because that steak is bee-yoo-tee-ful

                                                                                      1. re: tikiliberationfront

                                                                                        Exactly. Or as I like to call her, "get off the stage, there are other acts on the bill you know!"

                                                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                                                  Does Bestellen offer a burger? Is It good? Better than Burger Priest? How much? Do fries come with it?

                                                                                    1. re: MissBingBing

                                                                                      Bestellen? Could have sworn they offer a burger. Unless you are being sarcastic like justxpete.

                                                                                3. re: msprnt

                                                                                  msprnt, my response is only to those writing that basically anything McEwan is crap. If all he did was the butcher and seafood counter at the grocery store, that'd probably make everyone happy.

                                                                                  1. re: Googs

                                                                                    My issues with the McEwan properties have been primarily service and low value for the dollar in the restaurants, the food while OK just isn't up to snuff with the prices he charges.

                                                                                    As far as the Bymark steak goes, they haven't done it for a few years unfortunately but for a few years in a row one of the food mags got several of the city's chefs together, rounded up steaks from the best butchers in the city, had one of them cook them all to the same specs then blind tasted and scored them. Cumbrae's always won, McEwans usually in the middle of the pack, Mark McEwan was always one of the judges.

                                                                                    1. re: bytepusher

                                                                                      I've never had a steak from Cumbrae's quite as good as that one. Perhaps it's time to make the trip to Church St again.

                                                                                    2. re: Googs

                                                                                      thanks! i'm skeptical of the mcewan grocery steak, but i've never had meat from there. maybe one day i'll splurge. usually, costco striploins more than do the job for at-home grilling.

                                                                                      in relation to service, i picked up ~6 dessert platters from them for a wedding once and they were very nice and accommodating. brought all the platters to my car. put them in. they even let me leave before running my credit card because they knew i was in a rush!

                                                                                      food at bymark was mediocre for me though.

                                                                                      1. re: msprnt

                                                                                        Well maybe it was my expert grilling skills. LOL. For the record, I like the butcher and seafood counters at McEwan Grocery. I don't eat at any of the restaurants. I will happily drink on the patio of One.

                                                                          2. Any restaurant in Toronto with main courses above $10.00. No exception. Period.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: ttraveller

                                                                              Judging from the post, you may be my long lost twin- we were separated at birth. Please tell me a bit about yourself with respect to food.
                                                                              VVM

                                                                              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                Midtown Toronto over 30 years. Travel worldwide. In Tokyo I stay in Ueno or Tsukiji. In Mexico City at Lopez and Ayuntamiento. In New Orleans at Pierce and Canal. Cook mostly from fresh ingredients.Toronto out-of-home food is best for it's spectacular ethnic diversity. Thus our Tamil, Middle East, China, Caribbean (etc) prepared food remains relatively close to home. Everything else in Toronto is derivative and dumbed down by Colonial baggage. Tacos in Toronto is Grand Electric. Try this http://www.ediblegeography.com/eating...