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Advice please: which McEwan establishment?

So we have a gift certificate for anything McEwan.
We haven't tried Fabbrica or One; we haven't been to Bymark or North 44 in years, and of course the certificate is also good for the store.

What do you recommend?
(specifics are welcome, eg dinner or brunch/weekend lunch, what to order)

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  1. I have recently enjoyed Fabbrica for a Sunday brunch. I went to One on the May long weekend and found it lacking - Kelsey's quality food and poor front of the house service.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mskatsam

      Another vote for Fabbrica. Spendy for lunch, but since you have a gift certificate who cares right + you can pop into the store if there's any $$ left over(Ha!) :)

    2. Hmmm I had to think about this one....

      Definitely avoid North 44. The meal you'd have would probably be exactly like the one you had years ago.

      Depending on the value of the certificate I'd probably say Bymark for dinner. But if it means kicking in $$ I'd stick with Fabbrica or shop at the store.

      What I mean to say, in case it hasn't come across, is that I wouldn't spend my own $$ at any of his places.

      6 Replies
      1. re: millygirl

        Why do you say that millygirl? He doesn't get much love on chowhound, and I was just wondering why.

        1. re: kwass

          Hi Kwass,

          For a number of reasons -

          We tried North 44 about 5 years ago and felt very disappointed.
          The decor was tired, the menu was boring and the food was just ok. Very pedestrian, and boring.

          Fabbrica went for lunch once and while it was okay. It wasn't anything to write home about. I've had way better at Terrone's and even our crappy little italian neighbourhood joint.

          Bymark was good if you like that kind of corporate $$$ vibe.

          Never been to One - not my kind of scene.

          McEwan the store been many times but it is hugely overpriced and I'm a Pusateri's shopper!!! So that says a lot. Let me tell you about the burrata cheese LOL. No don't get me started, suffice to say, I was paying him $20 only to find the same thing at Loblaw's or something for less than $10!!!! That still pisses me off to no end.

          And finally, I just don't care for him. There I said it.
          I find - from what I can tell, never met him - he's all about the TV personality and that is just one big turn off for me.

          :)

          1. re: millygirl

            Oh my goodness, Millygirl wrote my post :)

            1. re: millygirl

              Thanks millygirl. I only asked because I was curious. I've been to North 44, but it was years ago when it was in its heyday, and at the time, I was quite impressed. As for McEwan's, I've been there as well, and like you, I also thought it was overpriced. Because of that, I never returned. And again, like you, I much prefer Pusateri's.

              That said, I just wasn't sure why people have such strong negative feelings about him and his restaurants. I didn't realize that the food at his restaurants had deteriorated as much as it has. Thank you for clearing it up for me :)

              1. re: millygirl

                Only $20 for a burrata ball? When the store first opened it was $40+ ! I had visions of that little white ball being lovingly strapped in to its seat in the First Class cabin of the aircraft that brought it from Italy to Don Mills.

                Why do they even bother with the fresh produce and household products in the rear of the store? You would need your head tested to be buying that stuff there, when you could save 50%+ by strolling over to Metro.

          2. Well thanks everyone! It took us a while to book it, but we finally ended up at Fabbrica for brunch. I have to say the eggs benny on crumpet was quite divine, and the short rib hash was pretty good, but the desserts were not so good - e.g. the "panna cotta" had a creme brûlée texture. Definitely had better at Terroni. Service was also not so good - our server forgot our apps entirely and brought our mains after a very long wait. We had the apps after the mains.
            (And then - irritatingly, one of our gift cards said it had a balance of zero, despite being completely unused, so we paid them that $100 again! Urgh! - to think they got free money for their pretty-good meal. Oh, and the server's comment on the card was "computers don't lie". )

            7 Replies
            1. re: Klafouti

              Glad the meal was pretty good. I'd probably follow up with a phone call to the manager re: the missing balance and the "computers don't lie" comment. ;)

              1. re: Klafouti

                I can't believe you aren't more outraged by the "computers don't lie" comment! He's basically calling YOU a liar!

                1. re: graydyn

                  I would have destroyed that server.

                  1. re: justxpete

                    My response was, What the fuck are you talking about?

                2. re: Klafouti

                  "Computers don't lie, and neither do I, I'm never coming back."

                  1. re: Klafouti

                    Quite possibly it did have a balance of zero. Some gift cards don't get activated until bought so that if stolen they have no value, and possibly someone forgot that step.

                  2. Ha ha, thanks for all the validation. Yes, "I'm never coming back" was indeed my thought; we decided not to make a scene in favour of trying to maintain a relaxed, enjoyable visit with friends… (But I'm sure the scene we didn't make would have been a great story!!)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Klafouti

                      Well, very kind of you not to have done so. The last similar situation that I was in was at Keriwa Cafe, where they asked for something like $800 for 4 people (5 courses each). I would have liked not to have made a scene, but it was so egregious that I could not contain myself.

                      1. re: justxpete

                        Klafouti, I had a bit too much wine last night (ha!) and directed Mark to this thread. If you email me at the address on my profile, I have an email address that he's provided for which he'd like you to contact (presumably to rectify your experience).

                    2. FYI, any complaints, one can actually go to Mark McEwan's facebook page and send him a personal message!! Whether he reads it or not is another matter!