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Kelseys...what to order?

Is anyone eating dinner there?

Thanks in advance for suggesting your faves


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  1. Nothing. Just leave.

    Alternatively, lots of alcohol.

    1 Reply
        1. Let me get this right...it's in bad form to be critical of Home of the Brave but it's ok to trash Kelsey's?

          I haven't eaten at Kelsey's in a few years, but if I was going to eat there, I'd have the hot wings, nachos or warm spinach dip. I usually stick with the appetizers.

          Toronto Guy, if you go, let the Board know what you liked best. It's always good to know which dishes are better than others for future reference. Some Chowhounds do occasionally end up at Kelsey's, Casey's, Jack Astor's and other Canadian/Ontarian chains, and it's good to know which dishes other Chowhounds find ok or decent, if they're brave enough to admit it.

          re: just sayn, I often make my dinner out of appetizers (even greasy ones), regardless of the price point of the restaurant (including most recently Enoteca Sociale, Libretto, Buca, Tabule, the Keg, Museum Tavern, etc), so I am answering the OP's question re: what I would order for dinner, even if I'm not suggesting mains. The Kelsey's menu has revamped- looks a lot more like Milestone's than it used to: http://www.kelseys.ca/menu_dinner.php....

          By the way, funnel cake lovers, Kelsey's currently has funnel cake as part of their limited time menu. If anyone compares the two, please post photos. :-)

          2 Replies
          1. re: prima

            Prima, re-read HOTB, nothing unusual there. The food isn't carny, not close. The moustache doesn't matter unless he's part of the dish, They don't serve more fried food than any other place. The food is from scratch so there is no cheating in that respect. Who is it that is trying to hide the truth about the food? I don't think anyone is.

            Someone wants to eat DINNER at Kelsey's, you say order three deep fried and/or greasy apps, and I say that isn't a dinner. That's bar food for while watching a game, or perhaps in your case, making the best of being dragged there. The truth is most of their food is crap. The menu is full of landmines. Yes there may be the odd item that is good and hopefully someone will share it, but right now it seems that most of us have had the landmines!

            1. re: prima

              Some chowhounds do end up at Kelseys, some post about pissing away their $$ buying a McLobster and others spend their hard-earned money eating carney food.

              to answer the original question: just eat the menu, order a glass of water, put half a packet of salt it in, ask for complementary bread and call it a day.

            2. Avoid:
              All pastas

              all burgers
              most salads
              buffalo chicken sandwich

              Best Best:
              The steak dinner

              6 Replies
              1. re: Googs

                I can't even fathom eating a "steak dinner" at Kelseys. This explains much.

                1. re: justxpete

                  What's your problem with my answer? It's the item least likely to kill them with salt and fat at Kelsey's. Have you ever been dragged there and navigated that menu?

                  1. re: Googs

                    Yes. I think I ordered Chicken Fajitas.

                    1. re: justxpete

                      Thanks. You just reminded me.

                      Also Avoid:
                      Everything on the "casual mains" menu.

                      The steak is the best of a bad lot. As I said, at least you won't wake up the next morning parched with thirst and 7 pounds heavier.

                      1. re: Googs

                        If a Kelsey's steak was the last morsel of food on earth, I'd starve to death.

                        1. re: justxpete

                          LOL. In a choice between Kelsey's and having to make my own dinner after a 12 hour day in the office, I can tell you the kitchen light is going on when i get home.

                          It sounds like the OP hasn't a choice. Unless you're bringing the gun to the restaurant.

              2. No, but if I went, I think I'd have the nachos and a burger. I'd steer clear of anything that sounds remotely gourmet-ish. If you don't mind bottled Caesar dressing (they may have Renees, you could ask), then the Chicken Caesar may be ok. If I have to eat out at a restaurant where I know the cook doesn't have much skill, I order accordingly - those items that don't require much skill. Goodness knows I've eaten worse on airplanes and at others' homes, and I, too, am capable of making a crappy meal (and then eating it). Don't go if you are exceedingly fussy, I guess.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Full tummy

                  I like Renee's a lot better than the house-made Caesar dressings at some TO restaurants! Even better when mixed with fresh lemon juice (one part Renee's, one part fresh lemon juice).

                2. I lived at Kelseys right after I graduated from university and got my first job out west (okay that was awhile ago) and I swore by the honey garlic chicken wings. About once every five years I get a craving and go back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: GirlRancher

                    I cooked at the first Kelsey's ever, before they expanded and were bought by Cara. They were known for their wings then. We'd sometimes sell 200 lbs or more a night. Cutting them was brutal but with practice you could do a 50 lb. box in 20 minutes!

                  2. Lol, you people are brutal.

                    Try the basalmic chicken, or the fajitas

                    1. We used to have team lunches at Kelsey's a lot when I worked up in Markham, and my go-to order was the Cracked Peppercorn burger. If that still exists on the menu, it's edible.

                      The burger itself will be overcooked, but with the amount of stuff that's on it, the burger itself is largely incidental to the experience anyway .

                      1. Try the cutlery.
                        Low fat, full of minerals.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: atomeyes

                          >Try the cutlery.
                          Low fat, full of minerals.>

                          Maybe a bit chewy,no?

                          1. re: petek

                            Or try eating the bags the frozen food from Sysco came in.

                            More tender and similarly low in fat and calories....


                        2. Steak or the Grilled Salmon (sans sauce) for dinner

                          Chicken Cesar Salad with Shrimp skewer for lunch

                          1. Kelseys, really ?

                            Imagine a famous Intergalactic food tourist, excitedly tuning into the Ontario (inc. Toronto) Chowhound board (with whatever fantastic tuning thing Intergalactic Food Tourists have that we don't yet) in anticipation of an upcoming dining excursion, and seeing : this.

                            Helm Officer, warp speed to anywhere else. Engage....

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                              There are restaurants that are off-limits to be discussed on CH? When did this happen?

                              1. re: T Long

                                I agree with T Long. Let's talk about all food(s). Kelsey's is NOT haute high end CUISINE. This is a family restaurant, that employs THOUSANDS of Canadians and their families across this country. Students who cannot find work as teachers, moms who need the extra $300 a week to pay the mortgage, or buy new clothes for their kids. I could go on. The food - better that it was, not as good as it could be, and working towards being better everyday, like Black tree, like Caplanski's, like ALL restaurants. And this is incredibly hard to achieve, unlike writing a few pithy comments quoting Star Trek. For the record - 30+ years in the business, starting at John's Place in Victoria BC (You Gotta Eat Here), 3 years apprenticeship at La Scala, 3 years George Brown. Stages in Europe, ran 2 Milestone's, Le Paradis for 2 years (STILL great!) and on and on. This was all in the kitchen. To be a foodie is, in my opinion, to love food, and the contributions that we all can make to it. Not to bash and destroy others and their contributions just because. That's easy.

                                  1. re: meathead2

                                    No one said it was off limits. We're discussing it at length. Everyone calm down.

                                    1. re: meathead2

                                      The fact that Kelseys employes thousands of Canadians doesn't make them immune to criticism. They could do that AND serve better food. The fact of the matter is, casual chain restaurants don't have to be horrible/mediocre. If you go to the States there are a bunch of chains that serve decent or better food, and at better prices at that. But here in Ontario at least, pretty much all the chains are owned by a couple of huge corporations who obviously feel no need to improve their food or offer better prices, since there's no actual competition, only the illusion of it.

                                      1. re: Michael N

                                        What US chain restaurants are you thinking of? I have never been impressed by any US chain restaurant I've ended up at, but maybe I am going to the wrong ones...

                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                          There's several bbq chains in Texas that serve amazing food. Not sure he was referring to national chains.

                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                            I'm thinking of places like Steak and Shake, Cracker Barrel, Bob Evans, Famous Dave's... There are some other okay ones but those are at the top of my head. None of them serve great food, certainly, but I wouldn't object to eating at any of them, unlike places like Boston Pizza or Montana's or Kelsey's. Even a place like Outback in the States serves decent food, unlike their short-lived Canadian counterpart which was owned by one of the aforementioned huge corporations and which was thoroughly Canadianized (read: cheapened) in terms of quality.

                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                              Not sure what it takes to "impress", but Bonefish Grill and Houston's are both pretty good U.S. chains. Much better than anything we have here, IMO.
                                              Del Frisco's is also a chain (though admittedly only about 7 or 8 locations) One of the best steaks in Vegas (and there is plenty of competition)
                                              Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza is waaaay better than any of our Pizza chains (and most "Mom and Pops" here too...)
                                              In Buffalo, I think local chains like Ted's Hotdogs, DiBella's subs or Charlie the Butcher all beat our chains.

                                              1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                                +1 Houston's.

                                                And I agree that just because it's a chain, doesn't mean it has to be sub-standard. And not all are. Kelsey's doesn't particularly do it for me, but IMO, Milestone's and Moxie's aren't bad at all.

                                                I think it all depends on what you order when you go to a chain.

                                              2. re: Full tummy

                                                By no means, am I a fan of chain restaurants but I can vouch for at least a couple of American chains such as Dave's Famous BBQ and Chili's (can't vouch for its only Ontario location though)

                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                  Just had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory...thought it was terrific. Ahi tuna, Thai chicken lettuce wraps. Also Bonefish Grill. Very good. Would welcome both of these in Canada as long as they dont mess with them.

                                                  1. re: BIGeater100

                                                    Forgot about The Cheesecake Factory... a guilty pleasure for sure (Shrimp & Bacon Club - YUM!) and another good U.S. chain you will never see in Canada.

                                                    Unfortunately, (and I believe this has already been discussed at length elsewhere) they have NO interest in opening north of the border. I suspect the recent failed Melting Pot (not a fan) experiment in Richmond Hill does not bode well for any of these U.S. chains coming here.

                                                    I would kill for Bonefish's Bang Bang Shrimp right about now...

                                                    If only Kelsey's would add it to the menu... LOL

                                                2. re: Michael N

                                                  Thank you Michael N, I agree with you. Criticism can be constructive. Food brings passion and that can get fanned for sure. To your points, we have Dairy Boards that set pricing on butter and cheeses, and general minimum wage at $10.25/ hr and a liquor server minimum wage of $ 8.90/ hr. My point is that it is more expensive to run a restaurant business in Canada. All restaurants are in business to make money, and make good food. Horrible/mediocre are harsh words. Corporations in the food service business exist. Go or don't go.

                                          2. All of this discussion is rather beside the point of the OP's question. If they're going, there's a reason. I will never be so much of a Chowhound that I forget it's about the company, not the food. If friend, family, or colleague wants to go I'll be with them smiling. I won't be turning a good time into a bad one by complaining about the mediocrity of chain food. Windmills anyone? I mean really people. There are more important things.

                                            15 Replies
                                            1. re: Googs

                                              With every bad bite of food from a chain restaurant, a little bit of my soul dies. I, for one, would like to keep my soul. So, I try to insist as much as possible for a venue change, whenever possible. And those that know me, know I won't eat at mediocre restaurants. And yes, I'll be that guy bemoaning my food if you make me dine in a shitty restaurant... lol.

                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                I've said it before and I will say it again -- when forced to eat at a chain, I eat first and order something like tossed salad that is cheap and hard to make a mess up. I get to enjoy the company and forget about the food.

                                                1. re: JennaBean

                                                  Same here. I do however take advantage of the 9oz glasses of wine these types of places have and the epic desserts ;)

                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                  What about friends' and family members' homes? Will you eat there?

                                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                                    Depends on who's house it is and no I'm not joking. But all of my friends and family know that I'm a serious food snob. I have no shame.

                                                    1. re: JennaBean

                                                      I have shame. I may leave things on my plate saying I'm full. I may not serve myself the from frozen carrots. I may offer to bring the main course so there's something I can enjoy eating. But I grew up eating.crap compared to what I generally eat now. I try not to forget that in the end this is just food, food I am fortunate to have to eat. Doesn't mean I don't rant to my husband about why so and so served instant mashed potatoes.

                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                        Lol. I always thought you were male. My apologies..

                                                        I am the same. I grew up eating largely inedible food.

                                                          1. re: kwass

                                                            I always knew Full tummy was a lady, but I've been wrong about some others...probably still am.

                                                            1. re: T Long

                                                              Actually, when I said that I think most of us did, I was referring to justxpete's statement that he grew up eating largely inedible food. Well, not necessarily inedible, on my part, but definitely nothing fancy. I wasn't referring to Full Tummy's gender...lol.

                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                          I solve that by bringing one (or more) really good bottle of wine. Bring on the corn flake casseroles and instant anything!

                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                            I grew up with a French chef as a grandpa on my mom's side, Greek restaurant owners on my dad's side with an olive orchard tossed in for good measure. For five plus years I’ve dated a fine dining chef who’s family is even more food obsessed than I am. I’m blessed and cursed. My family understand as they have had all the same experiences as I have and my friends for the most part are serious foodies so it is rarely an issue. For the few who fall outside of these groupings, they roll their eyes and make fun of me but we all still love each other just the same. We just usually skip the eating in favour of serious cocktails! I think that’s a fair trade off!

                                                            Why eat bad food when you don't *have* to? I'll take a pass. Eat before, drink and be merry!

                                                      2. re: Googs

                                                        You're absolutely right -- I've wound up at restaurants like Kelsey's many times with friends/family/coworkers, and you never want to be THAT guy (i.e. the food snob who ruins everyone's good time by pointing out that the food they like is actually horrible). But we're on a food forum. If someone asks what to order at a terrible restaurant, they're going to get comments on the terribleness of said restaurant.

                                                      3. Folks, it's fine to say that you don't like Kelsey's (though that ground has pretty much been covered already), and better to suggest the things that are better relative to other things on the menu, but can we please let go of the debate on whether or not this question should even be asked? It's an okay question for Chowhound, and the debate is dragging the thread away from answering the original poster's question.

                                                        1. I enjoy the Sonoma Valley salad with chicken.

                                                          I do think that some of you CH-ers who live in urban areas should be thrilled that you have so much choice available to you, and the perceived right that gives you to trash various restaurants. I dare you to live in rural Ontario for a couple of years; you would probably jump at the chance to go to Kelsey's. Or Swiss Chalet for that matter.

                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: Blush

                                                            If I lived in the 'burbs, I would seek out good food - and there is lots of it - not chains like Kelsye's or Swiss Chalet, where everything comes out of a box from Sysco. I'd rather eat dry toast and call it a night than eat at a garbage-o-matic.

                                                            1. re: justxpete

                                                              I actually like Swiss Chalet. Granted, I haven't had much luck with anything outside of the quarter leg with fries, but if you stick with the chicken it's a decent enough choice. But then I've been eating there since I was a kid. Is it just the nostalgia talking?

                                                              1. re: Michael N

                                                                I ate there for years as well. But in the last 10 years, the quality of everything they serve went downhill. They use to serve fresh cut fries, not they serve frozen. They use to serve fresh sauce, now it's pre-made and laden with
                                                                gelatin and preservatives. They used to serve healthy chickens. Now the chicken they serve look like they come from 6-inch pens.

                                                                Do yourself a favor and try the Q on the queensway - even thought their chicken has been a bit suspect of late. For a long time it's been very very good.

                                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                                  Yeah, I've been to the Q. The chicken was probably about on the same level as Swiss Chalet, quality-wise (though slightly bigger -- the chicken they use at Swiss Chalet these days is weirdly small), but the fries were worse. At least if Swiss Chalet is serving frozen fries, they're above average frozen fries. The Q's fries taste like standard-issue cafeteria fare.

                                                                  I went back to the Q a second time, which turned me off the place forever. I ordered the chicken strips. I'm not normally a big chicken strip guy, but the menu described them as being freshly made and with a cereal breading, which sounded interesting. They tasted like the Pinty's chicken strips you can buy at Costco. There's no way they were made fresh.

                                                                  It wasn't so much the serving of frozen food that made me want to never go back there, it was the flat-out lie on the menu.

                                                                  1. re: Michael N

                                                                    Ah. I only ever order rotisserie chicken - but I find the quality to be far, far superior (in size, quality and perceived 'healthiness') to anything I've had to consume at Swiss Chalet in recent memory (yes, sometimes I get stuck going there too). Swiss Chalet just seems to get progressively worse and worse to the point where it's virtually inedible for me, now.

                                                                  2. re: justxpete

                                                                    They used to serve healthy chickens. And don't now. And you know this how?

                                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                                      My SOs parental units make me eat it every 2-3 months. I usually pre-eat so I can consume as little as possible.

                                                                      1. re: justxpete

                                                                        Why do you not tell your SO's parents that if Swiss chalet was the last morsel of food on earth that you would rather starve to death?

                                                                        Eazy to tell that on a public forum when you are hidden but like the OP sometimes you have to go because you cant tell the inlaws not to eat there... or else you end up in the dog house...

                                                                        I love fine dining, I love Fresh & Local... But in a pinch I will eat Mac & cheese from a box or a frozen dinner, or McDonalds... sometimes it is just the thing I have to do when nothing else is available..

                                                                        I have had good meals at boston pizza... not great meals, and some bad meals but also some good meals.. For Kelseys I would stick to a burger or wings.. wings are my guilty pleasure..

                                                                        I also know a big name chef that Mondays watching football there is a standing order for chain restaurant wings when he is at home relaxing..

                                                                        Remember there are many people who die wishing they could get the crap food that you are poo pooing..

                                                                        1. re: pourboi

                                                                          Everyone's entitled to eat what they like. I know another big name chef who loves dirty pizza. So what.

                                                                          I'm just saying I avoid it as much as is possible - and I don't appreciate food from Sysco. That's my perogative.

                                                                          And let's leave the philosophical stuff to the philosophers. Some might argue that the mass-produced, mass-consumed food I'm poo pooing is partially responsible for why those individuals you speak of don't have any food to eat in the first place. But that's another discussion entirely.

                                                                2. re: justxpete

                                                                  I'm not talking about "the 'burbs". I'm talking rural Ontario--where each town has a Tim Hortons and maybe, if you're lucky, a diner (where yes, a lot of the food is trucked in but if you're lucky there are some local treats). Where the nearest Starbucks (not that I'm a fan of Starbucks; I'll take Coffee Culture any day) is 140 km away.

                                                                  I'm just saying, be happy for choice. When you don't have an abundance of choice, you can't afford to be as picky.

                                                                  1. re: Blush

                                                                    But even rural Ontario has some amazing restaurants, and you have access to amazing produce. Places like Kelsey's just ain't worth it, to me. I want to eat food out of the ground, not out of a box, or a can, or a bag. It goes against everything I've learned about food.

                                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                                      I have access to (some) amazing produce in the summer time and I cook it at home. In the winter time we pay a premium for crappy produce and make do. We don't go out very often at all; it's just not worth an hour's drive.

                                                                      1. re: justxpete

                                                                        Yes rural Ontario has "some" amazing restaurants BUT not ALL of rural Ontario has access to any restaurant within an 1/2 hour drive...

                                                                        I grew up in Lynden (not even that rural).. in the center of the golden triangle between: Cambridge, Dundas & Brantford. Each being about an 1/2 drive no restaurants between any of those spots...

                                                                        1. re: pourboi

                                                                          I still wouldn't eat at Kelsey's.

                                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                                            Then you'd pretty much die lonely and starving.

                                                                            1. re: Googs

                                                                              ...but with my soul and integrity intact. :)

                                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                                Folks, this is another conversation that's really not helping the original poster answer their question. If you never eat at chains, it's fine to just skip this post and move on to a question you can answer.

                                                                    2. re: justxpete

                                                                      While I agree with this sentiment, and to that end I've mapped just about everything east of Don Mills, my reasoning is different. I'd rather support the local mom and pop trying to make a go of living in the city than Big Box Boring. Still, I wouldn't upset a gathering of friends just so my interests are looked after. I can eat a deep fried popper if I have to.

                                                                    1. A cab to go to a better restaurant

                                                                      1. i don't like kelsey's much, but i have eaten there a few times in a pinch, since i live in the burbs and there is one just across the street from my neighbourhood.

                                                                        never do take out...it tastes 10x worse when you bring it home for some reason. not hot enough and really sweaty.

                                                                        the spinach dip with the deep fried pita is really good. after all of these years! you will grow a second ass from all of the calories, but it's tasty nevertheless.

                                                                        the only other thing that i will recommend is the bruschetta flatbread. it has feta on it. it's really tasty and not heavy or overly salty.

                                                                        other than that - burgers are OK (says the husband). avoid the pasta.

                                                                        good luck.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: perogy

                                                                          I agree that it's pretty awful there. The only thing I'd order is the nachos.

                                                                          1. re: C mac

                                                                            Sad though.

                                                                            About twelve bucks, and every ingredient comes out of a bag off the back of a truck.