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Buy, Buy, Birdie?

From Zagat via CH, Toronto's Ten Hottest Restaurants.

From the page on Chase:
"Must order: Whole-roasted chicken for two ($71)"

Cluck! Cluck! Am I just getting old and irrelevant?

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    1. Actually, the on-line menu lists it at $75. However, I would rather be old and irrelevant and roast my own chicken at home than toss that much money around at some downtown eatery. This is not a critique of those who are willing to pay $75 for a chicken-for-two. If you can afford it, good for you. But sometimes a roast chicken is just a roast chicken.

      6 Replies
      1. re: GullyJaye

        Ya but this roast chicken's stuffed with foie gras and prunes so...

        1. re: petek

          Ha...I think they should market it as something other than roast chicken...something more exotic/cute sounding, otherwise it comes across as a rip-off.

          1. re: T Long

            Like:
            foie gras
            wrapped in a whole roasted chicken,
            prunes, armagnac & brioche
            75

            1. re: pourboi

              cooked using artisanal electricity from native hydroelectric forces

        2. re: GullyJaye

          I called the restaurant subsequent to the replies mentioning foie gras. I was told that foie gras was stuck under the skin of the chicken.
          A roast chicken may be just a roast chicken but it can be great. It is not the chicken's fault that it is plentiful and cheap. This may be its problem for Chase, but I can't imagine why one would want to stuff foie gras into it other than for the same reasons that f.g. is put on top of salmon. Incorporating chicken liver in the dish is another matter. So Nick and Leslie's Hungarian Goulash Party Tavern (the old days) would staff (sic) a chicken with light rye bread and chicken liver and it was delicious. (Exercise great restraint if you make this, both become strong in the cooking, especially if you use rye with kimmel.) Or one can make a Budapest ragout (chicken liver based, chef needs lots of control, devised for use with veal) as a sauce for something on the plate such as potatoes or spaetzel. As for sousing the prunes with Armagnac, I have never had them this way. I am sure that they are good - it is hard to screw up prunes and what is done can scarcely be called technique- but what's the point of the expensive brandy? Soused prunes are delicious, but the coarser and more tannic the red wine the better. At least this is my opinion.
          All these things that I have described were delicious and interesting notwithstanding that they were so cheaply priced that I could afford to go again, or compared to Chase, again and again. Would the Chase bird provoke orgasmic noises from anyone other than some restaurant reviewers?

          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

            Unlike a certain restaurant that you rave about that is empty of patrons 90% of the time resulting in it being put up for sale.. Chase is busy 90% of the time reservations are required to get a seat and they are successful enough to be opening a new restaurant in the Thompson Hotel where Scarpetta is vacating (which charged $$24 for a handful of spaghetti in tomato sauce!) ...

            So why complain about the chicken? I am sure Swiss Chalet will have a coupon in the near future so you can get a chicken dinner...

        3. Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Yountville charges $26.50 for half a Roasted Chicken!! For two = $53!!
          And Keller's version is 'World famous'!! Like Paul Prudhome's Blackened Red Fish!!
          The Chase??!! How many people outside of Toronto has really heard of it and it's chefs?!
          Any more 'rip-off' dishes like this and they will indeed 'Chase' patrons out of the door!!

          11 Replies
            1. re: Charles Yu

              I had this dish at Chase around Christmas and was extremely happy with it. It is more then enough food to actually feed three people and tasted great. There were 6 of us and we had the chicken for two, steak for two and a fish dish and left STUFFED and there was still food on the plates..

              Maybe you should actually try the dish before calling it a rip-off.

              1. re: pourboi

                Of course it's a rip-off. In my hometown, foie gras is slung like butter, in manners far more advanced than rubbing down a whole chicken, and never do you see a $71 price tag. There better be more foie than chicken in that dish.

                1. re: frogsteak

                  Well if your home town is not Toronto then it does not mean much here! And just because it is chicken people put it down.. yet how much do restaurants charge for rissoto which is just 50cents of rice! or how many times do you see wine marked up 4x.. or like I said above Scarpetta and their $24 spaghetti with just a tomato sauce...

                  So quit picking on the chicken! If you think it is too much don't buy it... the price is on the menu they are not hiding anything... they are not trying to "rip you off"..

                  1. re: pourboi

                    any comparison of roast chicken, or any dish for that matter, from two different restaurants is problemmatic, unless you can show that they are providing the same ingredients, level of service, dining experience, and environment.

                    it's pretty obvious that a simplistic, reductionist argument about a singular ingredient is pointless. there are roast chickens, and then there are roast chickens. . .

                    yes, bouchon bistro will give you a whole chicken for about $53usd, but i'll wager that once you add foie, even keller, out in yountville, would eclipse $71cdn. likewise, the chase could probably charge $53cdn or less for their roast chicken if they were preparing it with kale, turnips and jus like bouchon.

                    1. re: afong56

                      Fellow chowhounders frequently compare similar dishes from eating establishments all over the world to check for authenticity and degree of 'yummyness'!. I don't see what's the problem? San Francisco hounds compare their Won-Ton noodles with that of Hong Kong's, Toronto hounds compare the Peking duck from Scarborough's 'Dayali' with those in Beijing?!!

                      Back to the discussion on 'chicken'

                      Surely, when doing the pricing comparison, one should take into account of the pedigree and fame of the chef behind, in this case, the 'Michelin 1* Bouchon' and the recipe?! No?!
                      'Bouchon' is the brainchild of a 'World Famous' Michelin 3* chef! whom people are willing to dish out significant premium ( US2000 VS $350 ) to taste his 'French Laundry' Tasting menu in places like Hong Kong!

                      Sure, the 'Chase' is currently Toronto's hot table but the chef is no where near Thomas Keller's calibre!

                      Looking at this scenario 'reversely'. It reminds me back in the good old days of 'Susur Lee's Lotus'.when Susur was charging a fancily plated fried Calamari tentacles for over $20 when similar dish can be had in Chinese restaurants for $3.50! - Just because he was the 'famous' Susur Lee.

                      Lastly, if for example 'Zen' charges their sushi omakase the same price as Jiro in Tokyo, I'm sure there will be similar backlash and heated discussion?!!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Good points, Charles.

                        As I've said, I don't think highly of The Chase, but I don't think the name of the chef is what matters here. If Keller's chicken sucks (hypothetically) and The Chase's is great, then Keller's isn't worth the money and The Chase's is (it might but, it might not be). If they're using great ingredients, then you need to charge $71 to make the dish work. If they're not, then they're making hefty margins. The proof is in the dish.

                        In other words, the core question is quality - is the restaurant using the ingredients and technique required to put out a product that justifies the cost? If so, then a $71 chicken is good value. If not, it's not.

                        1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                          As it seems I am the only one talking here who actually has ordered and Eaten this dish. I will say I thought it was a very good dish that was well executed and I did not feel ripped off at the end of the meal.

                          Why is it that every restaurant has steak yet no one complains when you can pay over $80 at a top steak house and at a diner you pay $15? and all the chef has to do is grill it.. no stuffing, no foie...

                          I am sure there are as many fancy breeds of organic free range chicken as there are breeds of beef... maybe even more!

                          1. re: pourboi

                            Agreed - there's nothing about the dish that says it can't be excellent. There are some expensive dishes that are obviously just gimmicks, but this isn't that. I'd love to try it.

                        2. re: Charles Yu

                          the comparison is only valid if you are comparing apples to apples, which people are not doing. a chicken cooked with kale and turnips is not going to cost as much as one that used foie basting, at least not in my world.

                          it is not really fair to compare the two, imho. . .but even this is too simplistic. . .

                          comparing calamari from lotus to a chinese restaurant ignores the fact that the cost of a dish is never just about the raw ingredients--the chase or lotus has to factor in all of the costs that put that dish in front the diner, along with the overhead of that particular space. if all other things were equal, then we could say that susur was ripping people off.

                          i honestly have not eaten at bouchon bistro, and i'm sure that anything attached to keller will be solid, but i don't rely solely on michelin to gauge quality (plenty of questionable 1* nyc restos, imho).

                          is it fair to compare disparate dishes offered by restaurants on the basis of preparation/taste? perhaps.

                          is it fair to make a blanket statement about cost, and presume that the higher priced version is a ripoff? no, because you cannot separate the dish from the restaurant that it is served in, when it comes to assessing pricing.

                      2. re: pourboi

                        Agreed.

                        I'm no fan of The Chase, and, like with a number of dishes on their menu, this chicken was put on there because it's a very trendy and popular dish right now at another restaurant in another city (The Nomad in NYC where it's $82), but we're talking about a heritage breed chicken that I assume is properly roasted with foie under the skin for $35.50 per person. That's not bad. That's fair.

                        $35.50 is not a lot for a dish in a finer dining restaurant. Unfortunately, nice things cost money. Big, good proteins are expensive. Foie gras is expensive. Armagnac is expensive. Just because some places serve cheaper chickens for cheaper doesn't mean that we shouldn't also be able to get better chickens for a bit more.

                2. To give credit where credit is due, Chase kept the dish affordable by stuffing with foie gras instead of Caspian caviar.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                    So 100% of the people on this thread who have tried this dish were happy with it and did not feel "ripped off"... I think thats says all that needs to be said...

                    1. re: pourboi

                      Hi pourbol
                      On a lighter note. just out of curiosity, was the foie gras inside the chicken cavity or between the skin? I was wondering how they manage to keep the foie from melting to oil if they remain between the skin during the entire duration of the roasting period?! Unless they partially cook the chicken before inserting the foie, the 45 minutes+ normally needed to roast a chicken should surely melt the foie?! Guess just this cooking skill alone deserves a cost premium!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        It's possible they placed the whole bird in a vacuum seal and sous vide cooked it at low temperatures, before quickly placing it in the broiler to crisp up the skin.

                        This was the method developed by George Pralus in the Troisgros restaurant in France to cook Foie Gras. Which resulted in a higher yield and better texture in the product.

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          I honestly cannot remember as it was at Christmas and there was a lot of celebrating happening. Maybe YLSF can chime in if they remember... I do seem to recal that they did Confit the legs and separated the breast before serving... as I originally though that they would present the whole bird at the table but it was plated as a composed dish.

                          1. re: pourboi

                            The dish is a version of the roast chicken with foie and brioche that they started serving at The Nomad in NYC. The recipe and technique are available here: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

                            1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                              I actually had this very dish at the Nomad a couple of weeks ago. I noticed quite a few chickens being carried to tables so clearly it's a popular menu item. It was delicious, and I love good food, but I think my expectations were maybe too high. Good dish, nice to have tried once, but I wouldn't go back and order it again. It's a couple of super rich dishes that my dining companion and I could barely finish. (Note: Price has gone up to $82US). I haven't tried the one at Chase, not sure I plan to.

                              1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                I showed the dinersjournal article to someone who really knows and asked her what she thought of the dish. Her answer:.. all good ingredients, can't be bad......a good show ....not necessary.

                      2. I will chime in because I have actually had this dish too. Before I went to the restaurant I thought "$70+ for a chicken!!!, what a scam!. " But, based on some reviews here (likely from pourboi) I decided to try it. I am glad I tried it, it was unique/good and was plenty of food for 2. If anything it was a bit too salty for my taste from my recollection but overall I didn't think it was a rip off after leaving.