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George on Queen. Allow me to vent.

Dinner at George tonight. Service issues galore. Just because I don't want goat cheese on my salad doesn't mean you need to drop it off others' salads. Just because you say "this doesn't contain cilantro" doesn't make it true (i.e. my amuse bouche). And for heaven's sake, get the seat numbers correct on a 4-top so you're not dropping the wrong dishes in front of the wrong guests. Don't say "I'll bring more bread" and then completely forget and clear my sauce-laden plate with cutlery not in exit position.

Yes, the lobster chickpea fritter 2nd was good. Yes, the venison with rapini was good. Salad with asparagus and pistachios was too soggy and limp. Dessert of twice-baked chocolate soufflé quite mediocre.

How is this place always in some Chowhounders' Top 10 lists?

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  1. Not to mention the huge pile-up of dirty glassware on the side of the bar, the lack of observation of Earth Hour, and what's with always putting down an empty plate in front of the person who doesn't order that particular course? Back in the day at Truffles, they would at least put some (amazing) food on that place-holder plate!

    7 Replies
    1. re: Food Tourist

      Yeah, that lack of observation of Earth Hour is the thing I hate most in a restaurant. Brilliant.

      1. re: Fwagra

        I will only eat at restaurants that turn it all off during Earth Hour. The darkness will nourish me in a way that food cannot.

        1. re: Fwagra

          Why stop at the lights? They should shut off all fridges too. And the ovens and hoods. Maybe if Earth Hour is really a priority for you, you should just stay home that night?

          1. re: johnbil

            Oh please. Just one in a longer list of service complaints. Earth Hour is no deal-breaker. But would it kill the mood to have candlelight and dimmer lights in a fancy restaurant? No. Though in the case of inept servers, yes it could cause hazards.

            1. re: Food Tourist

              You commented specifically on Earth Hour, not ambient lighting. Candlelight and dimmers are, I'm quite certain, in place at George. The whole restaurants participating in Earth Hour demand seems a bit out of place. Service and food issues are a restaurants' concern, not Earth Hour.

              1. re: johnbil

                Clearly service and food issues were already this customer's concern with everything and everyone working full-power.

      2. Sorry to hear about your experience. It was a Saturday, so may be they were too busy and overly stretched?

        A few years back, Chef Loseto's cooking was delightful and very often at par with Chef David Lee. Have enjoyed his tasting menu many a times. However, have not been back for over a year due to so many new openings around town.

        I think George still makes it onto to the Top 10 list due to the fact they are only a few 'fine dining' place in town that offers French/Continental influence tasting menu.

        Better luck in your next outing!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Charles Yu

          Charles and KitchenVoodoo, I've been to George twice before with similar results. Just hadn't been since 2011. Won't be back.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. My only test for a restaurant is "would I go back?".
            In the case of George, I wouldn't. For the prices they charge, I was extremely disappointed by the inept service, and I can't recall any dish that would make me want to go back.

            47 Replies
            1. re: KitchenVoodoo

              Hello Food Tourist and KitchenVoodoo.
              From talking to Chef Loseto in person, I know he follows Chowhound. Hope he read these postings and do something about it?!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Perhaps the service can be fixed, but how does one fix the criticism of "I can't recall any dish that would make me want to go back"? Gee, thanks, I mean I really intended to make dishes unmemorable.

                1. re: Blueicus

                  It's just not Top 10 food for Toronto and it's not world-class or memorable. But I never thought it was and it's my third dinner visit.

              2. re: KitchenVoodoo

                I think that the better question is, how soon would I go back if at all. I have been to places that I liked so much that I went back the next day for lunch , and then took someone there for supper. As well as places, first time, last time.

                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                  Agreed. In fairness, I don't love any continental "fine dining" place in Toronto that much. Almost nobody (Splendido, Scaramouche, Bymark, Jacobs) has gotten higher than a 8/10 rating in my opinion over the past 8 years. Granted, I've never eaten the regular dinner menus at key places like Shoto, Canoe, Auberge, and the 5-star hotel (Boulud, Stock) . And many fine dining places I loved have closed down (Truffles).

                  1. re: Food Tourist

                    Agreed. No restaurant has filled the gap that opened when Susur closed down and David Lee left Splendido. Shoto is an effort, but I don't think it quite fills that space. Compared to other, similarly sized cities, Toronto lacks for elite level Western fine dining.

                    1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                      But does it have the elite level fine diners?

                      1. re: estufarian

                        Of course. We may not have chef training, but we've eaten in world capitals and global food destinations. We've eaten at previous memorable, historic Toronto food landmarks. We have honed our palates and our critical tastebuds. Toronto went the casual dining route a few years back, and we have great mid-level dining, just no great fine dining.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          I'm never a fan of "blame the customer" arguments.

                          I'm as skeptical of Toronto's dining public as anyone - we can be both faddish and conservative at times, effusive in our praise for undeserving restaurants at times - but we were able to support the adventurous, technical, if frustrating cuisine of Susur and the precise, classic cuisine of David Lee. We have done better.

                          Likewise, I'm not sure that Chicago has ever renowned for avant-garde open-mindedness, yet it's the city that supports Alinea, Schwa, Moto and others. Maybe no a scene like Chicago has, but I think there's room here for something operating at a high level.

                          1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                            And there's no reason we can't be more like Sydney or Melbourne (or Chicago or California) in what is offered by chefs. However, we are quick to judge and shoo out too-American chefs like Scott Conant.

                            1. re: Food Tourist

                              I wouldn't consider Scott Conant's food to be considered 'fine dining' (nor interesting for that matter).

                              1. re: Food Tourist

                                Right just like we tarred and feathered David Chang as quick as we....oh wait Momofuku is now thriving.

                                It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that Scarpetta was not very good would it? Naaaah, its probably because we hate Americans.

                                1. re: themiguel

                                  I think we hated his attitude/comments. I didn't eat at Scarpetta.

                              2. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                Which cities are renowned for avant-garde open-mindedness?

                                1. re: prima

                                  Depends on time and place - New York, Barcelona, Paris, at various times, from a culinary perspective Chicago and Copenhagen right now. The point is that prior to Alinea, one wouldn't say that Chicago - a city of comparable size, wealth and geographic location to Toronto - wasn't known for high end dining yet alone probably the most avant-garde scene in the US. If it can happen there, it can happen here.

                                  1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                    Alinea doesn't meet my definition of avant-garde, and I don't think avant-garde has much to do with openmindness, but YMMV.

                                    1. re: prima

                                      Progressive? It certainly was avant garde when it opened. Maybe it's been passed on the cutting edge by other places - I'd buy that story, but still closer than anything we have here.

                                      It's all tangential - Chicago's high end scene is thriving while a similar scene here is yet to develop. I see no reason why it can't.

                                      What is your definition of avant garde or cutting edge cooking? What restaurants would you say serve avant garde food?

                                      1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                        Sorry, but what does any of this have to do with the poor service issues described by the OP?

                                        I've lost track.

                                        1. re: millygirl

                                          Just that we don't have world-class fine dining here. We could do better, except that owners are investing in mid-range cuisine rather than putting in the effort for fine like in comparable cities.

                                          1. re: Food Tourist

                                            Right. (I don't think our mid-range is that good either)

                                            1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                              So we dont have good fine dining, and we dont have good mid range dining. Noted. What else is this horrid gastronomical backwater of a city lacking?

                                              1. re: themiguel

                                                How's this for a beginning? A good burger for the people.

                                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                  Perfect, thank you Vinnie. I'll add that to the list, Toronto has no good burgers. How about pizza,surely our pizza is horribly disappointing as well?

                                                  So it seem we can't do high end, mid range and even basic staples like burgers right. I'd love to keep this list going.

                                                  1. re: themiguel

                                                    Lets add street dogs that don't compare to NYC. And you know those candies you get when you insert a quarter? The ones in Idaho are much more authentic.

                                          2. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                            Avant-garde restaurants are under the Chowhound and/or Michelin radar.

                                            If I told you which restaurants were avant-garde, they'd become apres-garde.

                                        2. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                          Disagree.
                                          I went to Chicago EVERY year for maybe 5 years to eat at Trio - which was in the equivalent (to Toronto) of Richmond Hill.
                                          And I've been to Schwa more often than Alinea - although, to be fair that postdates the closing of Trio and the subsequent opening of Alinea.

                                          1. re: estufarian

                                            How good is schwa? Love it.

                                            Which point do you disagree with?

                                            1. re: estufarian

                                              Sorry - I see now. Prior to achatz would have been a better phrasing. But there's nothing different about chicago that makes it intrinsically more amenable to elite dining than toronto.

                                              1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                imo, there are many reasons why, but the most obvious of differences is economic inequity.

                                                - khao san road

                                                1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                                  That's an incorrect stipulation. The average income is higher in Toronto by about $10k. As are there more millionaires, billionaires, etc. I did an extensive analysis on Toronto vs. Chicago arguing this very point in the past. Toronto is a 'richer' city by a fair measure.

                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                    If I could suggest that "average" doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if there a million people on welfare in Chicago. Nor do the number of millionaires and billionaires matter for the restaurant business. For the museum, symphony etc business, yes.

                                                    Incidentally, Lord Thomson and I were regulars at the same restaurant in Toronto.

                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                      im not talking avg income. that is a very different number and does not disprove inequity. while we do have income inequity in toronto, data shows chicago much worse by about 30% (based on the gini coefficient). tho to be fair i am no economist. and i did only google this info this morning to confirm before posting.

                                                      but to list another reason i will add transportation costs to a known food touristic city. if it only cost $100 to go to say vancouver to ski id consider it, but for $600 it makes it less a destination.

                                                      also, i did some very inextensive analysis and came up with 5 billionaires in TO, 15 in chicago :P

                                                      - khao san road

                                                      1. re: justxpete

                                                        i guess the question is what is the avg disposable income, and what level is needed to be spending it on michelin starred restaurants?

                                                        - khao san road

                                                        1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                                          That's why average income is important. If Toronto has a larger population than Chicago (it does, as Toronto surpassed Chicago last year), and a larger income by approx $10k, then it stands to argue that financially (only), Toronto is more able to support restaurants of Alinea's caliber.

                                                          TO has more millionaires and more multi-millionaires but 10 less billionaires (good counting!):

                                                          http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphi...

                                                2. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                  So let me ask you this. Has Toronto ever had a restaurant approaching the calibre and international reputation of Alinea? I would hazard that we haven't, not even close.

                                                  In fact across the country maybe only Au Pied Du Couchon even comes close to the level of international renown that Alinea has had.

                                                  Is this not a case of the chicken before the egg? If something as groundbreaking as Alinea were to open in Toronto, with as much critical acclaim, I think it would do just fine. That establishment just hasn't happened yet.

                                                  1. re: themiguel

                                                    Alinea, probably not. But if you look less than ten years ago, both Susur and Splendido under Lee were operating at a very high level. Susur was something close to an international destination.

                                                    There's enough money here to support a couple restaurants at that level. I'm disappointed that nothing has filled that space. It doesn't have to be an international destination and probably won't be, but it has to be better than what we currently have in that space.

                                                    I should add that by saying that "I don't think we have great mid-range" I don't mean that there are no excellent mid-range restaurants in Toronto. There are and we're improving.

                                                    1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                      We also had Avalon, Centro (at its peak), Jov Bistro, Truffles, Courtyard Cafe (formerly Three Small Rooms), etc. All closed down for a good reason. Chef-owners wanted to "go casual" for several reasons. The business expense accounts can support Canoe, Bymark, Vertical, Harbour 60, Barberians, etc. but most Chow diners can't or won't especially in our trend-bandwagon "foodie" hype culture in T.O.

                                                    2. re: themiguel

                                                      What about the "calibre and international reputation" of eigensinn farm and susur? back in 2002, they were both recognized abroad by their inclusion in Restaurant Magazine's "top 50 restaurants in the world" (number 9 and 47, respectively).
                                                      Is that close enough?

                                                      1. re: linalool

                                                        Seriously, the EXACT SAME issue was discussed just last month http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9667... and with the same inconclusive result. This is getting as silly as people arguing on star trek boards over whether Picard is better or Kirk is better.

                                                        Also, the metropolitan area of Chicago is home to about 75% more people than the metropolitan area of Toronto (which includes the GTA).

                                                        Oh, and also Toronto doesn't have good BBQ, as always... and let's not get started on Carbon Bar

                                                        1. re: Blueicus

                                                          <on star trek boards over whether Picard is better or Kirk is better>

                                                          Kirk, end of argument.......

                                                        2. re: linalool

                                                          Well, what about "cailbre and international reputation" as reviewed more than a decade ago?
                                                          Are there no replacements, or up and coming places?
                                                          Have Toronto restaurants been reviewed and bypassed by Michelin in the last decade?
                                                          Frankly, it looks like we are not very close.

                                                          1. re: jayt90

                                                            In the last decade, there's no point for Michelin to come to town and spend time and money on reviewing our restaurants when their guide also incorporates a substantial section on hotels. We were just not ready for the guide!
                                                            Now, with Boutiques hotel and Ultra-Lux hotels like The Trump, Shangri-La, Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons all ready for business, there's a chance those anonymous inspectors could be lurking around?!

                                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                                              Do you think Yours Truly, Actinolite, and some of those newer medium to finer dining spots add up to potential greatness?

                                                              1. re: Food Tourist

                                                                Those restaurants represent great progress - they're better than most of the traditional fine dining spots these days.

                                                          2. re: linalool

                                                            I think that Toronto has such a good reputation internationally because of its economic success that magazine writers feel an obligation to gush about Toronto.
                                                            What are they going to write, nouveau and calfshit? How many copies is that going to sell?
                                                            I have experience at Susur but not at Eigensinn.

                                        3. Given the experience you had, I can understand why you wouldn't want to go back. It is quite different from how we have experienced George over the years, although we too have not been for over a year. We have always had excellent service: attentive, detail-oriented, and unobtrusive. The food has also been consistently interesting and complex. Our main criticism would be that it is sometimes a little too busy - too many flavours on one plate. We'll likely go again at some point, so it will be interesting to see if the standards have fallen.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Dr. John

                                            Has anybody eaten at both George and a place where the cooking follows the Chez Panisse principles? (That's the closest that I may get.) How would you compare the food? Which do you prefer and why?

                                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                              I have eaten at Chez Panisse.
                                              Not in the same earthquake zone.

                                              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                I prefer the place that follows the Chez Panisse principles.
                                                But California, with its different climate has a totally different palette to play with, so not sure that it's a realistic comparison anyway.
                                                And to pre-empt the obvious question, the restaurant is Actinolite.