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'Bero' - Toronto Life started coverage and gave it a 1*. WT.......??!!

I just noticed one of our Chowhound's favorite new find, Bero, just received coverage by Toronto Life with an unbelievable 1*!! Yes! A lousy 1* for cuisine beautifully executed and plated!
At the same time, Bruce Wood's new restaurant 'Woods' got 3* for serving Spaghetti with meat balls and Bison burgers!!
What type of incompetent reviewers does Toronto Life hired, I wonder?? And how the hell did TL managed to dig them up??!!
Surely, seasoned chowhounders like TorontoJo, Estufarian, Fickle, Jlunar and myself.....etc cannot be all wrong in our palette, review and feedback??!!

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  1. Toronto life only goes in once. That is one off night or one good night and then they rate you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: luckfood

      My first meal at Bero was really bad - if you recall, when TorontoJo first suggested it was my type of place, I begged off commenting as I may have had defective tastebuds that night (although AmuseGirl's reaction was similar). My follow-up visit was more in line with your (and other) views.
      After reading the Alan Vernon piece (and in that thread) I commented that perhaps my tastebuds weren't off (after all) as his experiences more closely matched my first visit.

      Guess it's time for a third try!

    2. Its even worse when TL also started coverage on 'Ten Ren's Tea Time' - A Taiwanese Bubble Tea House cafe chain that serves mediocre, run-of-the-mill snacks and fast foods. Guess what? they also gave them the same 1* rating!!

      1. Crazy, huh!

        I haven't been to Bero yet but 4 of us ate at Modus and we all agreed it was our worst meal and experience ever. We still laugh about it 2 years later.

        1. One star is pretty darn harsh in my opinion. Well I don't think it is a destination resto at the moment my meal and service was solid and it is a very welcome addition to the my hood. I'm hoping most will take the review with a grain of salt as I do with most TL reviews these days.

          1. For reference, this is how Toronto Life explains their star system:


            1 star GOOD

            A one-star restaurant offers consistently satisfying food and good value for the money. Ingredients are fresh, dishes are well prepared, the room is clean and comfortable, and the service is efficient
            and courteous.

            2 star VERY GOOD

            A two-star restaurant displays ambition and occasional flashes of excellence. It strives to be better than its peers, and in many ways it’s succeeding. The kitchen uses creative ingredients and surprising flavour combinations, and there is some attention to decor and ambience. Service is efficient and knowledgeable.

            3 star EXCELLENT

            A three-star restaurant stands above its peers. The flavours and ingredients complement and build on each other, and many dishes contain happy surprises. The mood and decor have been carefully planned and executed, and service meets every expectation.

            4 star EXTRAORDINARY

            A four-star restaurant presents an exquisite food experience. The food is exciting in taste and presentation, and the chef routinely breaks new ground. Service is impeccable.

            5 star PERFECT

            The elusive five-star restaurant presents a flawless, original and unparalleled dining experience.

            8 Replies
            1. re: ylsf

              And to that ref I believe two stars would have been more fitting based on my one experience.

              1. re: ylsf

                Yup, there is no such thing at Toronto Life as a bad advertiser review. Restaurant. Restaurant review.

                1. re: ylsf

                  TL also got rid of their cheap and cheerful "$30 dollar gourmet” category earlier this year, so good cheaper restos are eligible for the same one star rating as good higher end, better quality, better service, arguably more innovative and more interesting restaurants that didn't happen to wow the reviewer with occasional flashes of excellence, whatever that means. All these ratings are subjective, anyhow, so YMMV from TL's.
                  I've never been on the same wavelength as TL's reviewers re: the star ratings. I've almost always liked the 1 and 2 star restos in TL better than the ones that have been given 3 or 4 stars.

                  1. re: ylsf

                    Why are places that would get at least one star so hard to find in Toronto?
                    Where are the ratings going the other way?

                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                      I just noticed the iconic N44, which used to be a 4* rating restaurant on Toronto Life, is now only a 1.5*!!!! Talk about decline and fall!!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Maybe N44 has not been paying enough graft to TO life. As someone who used to read it 30 years back, I could not help think that many of the articles were really paid ads. I could go on to explain in more detail, but CH probably isn't the place for it.

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          Having been a former regular at N44, notice I said former, I can completely agree with a 1.5 rating. This is not the place it once was and frankly, is not nearly as popular as it used to be. Mark McQ had little time for hands on that place anymore. I think he makes most of his money in the catering world now.

                          the room is tired, the menu boring and the staff, which used to be consistent, now changes faces monthly. There used to be a time when the customer was always right, but that's changed as well. We purchased a bottle of wine for approx $125.00 and it was corked, clearly and unmistakenly corked! Our friends, who have forgotten more about wine than il ever know, concurred. We told the waiter and asked for another bottle, not cancel the order, but another bottle. We wanted the wine. Instead, the Manager came over and said he thought the wine was fine and then started the next sentence with the follwing: "Maybe as a neophyte wine drinker".....and then went on to tell us about letting wine "open up"! Again, our friends have travelled the world drinking wine and had been doing it before this Manager was old enough to drink!

                          Out food was mediocre, the service average and the prices, outrageous. If you are going to charge these prices, then the meal and the experience, has to be memorable, for the right reasons! Sadly, we will never go back there, which is unfortunate, as we live so close to the restaurant and loved the convenience. Mark McQ should get back to looking at the shop and to remember the quality he used to produce and the loyal customers he used to have. Both, have sadly disappeared!

                          1. re: franpelyk

                            May be you can send this message directly to Mark McEwan's facebook page and let him know?!

                    2. Honestly - even though I haven't been there, despite their rating system, I think 1 star is pretty harsh. I don't think anyone in their right mind would rate Bero 1-star unless they had a horrible experience (based on reports). And, despite their rating "guidelines", which are largely diplomatic, 1 star out of a possible 5 is a terrible rating.

                      But, I think most people who are "serious" about food largely disregard TL's rating system - I know I do. I really don't take it seriously - and I think the reviewers are inconsistent, and many are amateur, with few stand-outs who really know about food.

                      Places that should be a 0 are 2, places that are 1's should be 2's or 3's, and some places that are 3's and 4's should be 1's or 2's...

                      So yes, I ignore TL almost in it's entirety. TL needs to improve their methodology or rate by committee instead of allowing a single individual after a single visit to determine a given restaurants' rating. Until then, I don't think anyone "in the know" will treat it as a credible publication, in terms of TO's food scene, anyway.

                      So I agree with Charles to an extent, but really - who cares? It's TL.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: justxpete

                        I agree. While my one and only meal did not live up entirely up to expecations, 1 star seems a bit weak. Then again I never took Toronto Life's food criticism seriously.

                      2. I had dinner at Bero about a week ago and it was more than just good. The standout dish for me was the gnocchi with the bone marrow and snails but everything else was great too. Certain more than solid decent food. And I thought the value was very good. It's definitely at least a two star.

                        1. A good friend of mine went last night with her hub and another couple on my suggestion. While they said the food was good their four course menu took FOUR HOURS! The server apologized once after it took over an hour for the first course to get to the table and not a thing was comp'd. To say they were unimpressed is a bit of an understatement. They also said they left hungry. I would have walked out long before four hours so I think they are a bit crazy for waiting it out but what the heck happened???

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: JennaBean

                            I think that classifies as a "horrible experience". But are you sure your friend isn't exaggerating a bit? Might be worth checking.

                            1. re: justxpete

                              She's not the type so I tend to believe her. She's also pregnant so she was the only one not drinking which made the length of the meal even more painful. She said her hub drank so much with such little food he actually tossed his cookies on the way home!!

                              She said it would have been less painful if they had at least had some bread to eat while they were waiting - that's her level of general acceptance with things.

                              1. re: JennaBean

                                Wow 4 hours for 4 courses is a horrible experience. Were they fully booked? Not saying that is a good excuse for lousy experience but it might explain how some people have raved about Bero.

                          2. Here's a counterbalance to TL's 1 star -- The Globe and Mail gave it 3 stars:


                            The Globe's policy is clearly for reviewers to go twice, unlike TL, which only requires a single visit.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: TorontoJo

                              Kudos to CNS for being right, this time!!

                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                Coincidentally I was at Bero last night. Had Matt's 7 course Chef's meal - standouts were the halibut, lamb saddle, ceviche and chocolate cake. I can't fathom how anyone would rate this restaurant 1 star. Matt was delivering almost every course to every table, and is a friendly, passionate, kind individual. Service otherwise could have used a bit of polish (but wasn't bad by any means), and I didn't have any issue with the music whatsoever, as per CNS.

                                Looking forward to going back fairly regularly.

                              2. I send the editor a letter, twice, expressing my dis-believe with their 'out-of-whack' rating. However, they totally ignored me and refused to post it on their 'Editor's Letter' page!! Guess they do not have the guts to back up their own words??!!