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Any Opinions on Chain Restaurants?...

  • d
  • divinediner May 11, 2003 01:28 AM

I'm curious to hear what all the chowhounds feel about some of the chain restaurants... like Kelsey's, Casey's, Shoeless Joe's, EastSide Mario's, the varied Firkin's, Nickels etc.

I live near Warden and Eglinton where quite a few of these have recently come in... we needed something in this area for a long time, and these all seem to be doing fairly good business.

What is your experience with some of these?

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  1. Oh dear god save us from these places...which is why I am here reading Chowhounds, trying to find places in the GTA where I can find decent food that isn't "chained" to death.

    When I moved to Mississauga from Manhattan I knew I was in for a drastic change... and five years later I find myself completely frustrated by the absolute lack of a decent breakfast place nearby, let alone the preponderance of chains in the West end.

    Most of the chain restaurants start off well, but soon the menus are reworked and the food and service slip.
    Once, at Alice Fazooli's I almost lost it when a waiter showed up with our two martinis in shakers after a seemingly endless wait.

    "Do you want them shaken or stirred?", he asked.

    "I am a New Yorker... and just want them poured."

    "Oh... there isn't any ice in the shakers."

    Typical over-concept, over-managed, MBA decided idiocy.

    Kelsey's isn't bad enough to kill you. Montana's is.
    Eastside Marios should be closed for their newest ad campaign if not for the dreadful food. Canyon Creek manages to serve Caesar salad dressing that defies digestion by humans, and the steaks have a metallic aftertaste that warrants concern.

    If I was forced to eat chain food every day I would cut BOTH arms off with a pen knife.

    7 Replies
    1. re: stephen

      Thanks for your thoughts, Stephen... I think I must agree with you on most points. My biggest complain besides the quality of the food though, is that they never let you relax and finish your appetizer before they bring you your maincourse. I realize they just want a quick turnaround and so don't want people to linger, I suppose... but it really irks me when all the food lands on your table at almost the exact same time. I thought appetizers were supposed to be enjoyed BEFORE dinner.

      Anyway, as for your quest for a good breakfast place... I just finished reading someone's thought on a restaurant in Mississauga called Cora's. Sounded good to me.

      1. re: divinediner

        Cora's is an admittedly popular chain in Montreal, but a chain nonetheless. And what I hate about chains is exactly what someone pointed out about Cora's on that thread: no one with the judgement skills or authority to say "hey this fruit is HARD and TASTELESS and we shouldn't serve it, even if it is a corporate mandate!"

        For the Manhatanite seeking breakfast, how about Bobby's in Streetsville? Not spectacular food, but not a chain as far as I know, and a certain amount of local "character" (good-looking hungover teenagers and not-so-goodlooking hungover aging rockers).

        As for the chains initially mentionned, I think Jack Astor's is okay - at least at the Don Mills location. It's relatively clean and service is pretty good. The chicken breast over baby greens is edible and healthy. It would be my choice over Kelsey's/Casey's/East Side, if forced to choose a chain.

        1. re: julesrules

          One chain that I have come across that I think serves decent food is Milestones. Their food has a bit of creativity and I've tried several things there and found all of them to be acceptable. The prices are reasonable and the portions generous. There's one in Yorkdale mall and at the Empress centre (Yonge and Sheppard). I went once with a large party (14) and was able to taste from almost everyone's plate (family), and while not gourmet dining, it was all quite tasty. It's the type of place that has "something for everyone" - salads, pastas, ribs, steaks, sandwiches, fish - many dishes have an asian influence. Definitely a notch above Kelsey's.

          1. re: Mermaid

            Milestones - Their brunch is also decent - large plates, trendy ingredients and some even a little creative. Still a chain feel but a hell of a lot better than Golden Griddle!

        2. re: divinediner

          I took the parents, visiting from NJ to Cora's as suggested. We went this week... and it was pretty good. Thanks for the pointers. You gotta love this board!

        3. re: stephen

          Another good breakfast place in Mister & Mississauga, you could try Mulligins in the Woodchester Plaza (Dundas & Winston Churchill Area.) A Big Breakfast for a good price.

          1. re: stephen

            i feel your pain. i've lived in sf and nyc. people call me snobbish, but i can't deal with restaurants where the chef 's or cook's primary occupation is attending college (if that.) if i can cook better than the place i'm eating at, then the meal is a meal of convenience... which equates to being fast food regardless of there being a waiter or not.

          2. Well, I'm pretty fond of the Sunset Grill, and my husband used to work right next to a Shoeless Joe's, and Amato's has wonderful patate al crema pizza... but I guess only one of those places constitutes real chain food.

            I usually try to avoid them, partly because the food isn't great, and partly to suport small local businesses. I don't mind eating in them occasionally, but I prefer better stuff.

            1. Eastside Mario's is terrible. The sausage they put on top of their noodles is so tiny.

              Jack Astor's has the worst nauchos. They're so bland.

              1. Also live around the area and tried most of them, forget about East Side Mario, Casey, Nickels, Casey, do yourself a favour and don't even try the one on Eglinton & Warden, can't remember the name, across from Mother Tuckers (don't go here either) Boy on a Dolphin use to be there a couple of years ago.
                The only decent thing I have tried in the area are the goat cheese raviolis at Kelsey, forget about the other ones if you are looking for food.
                One to try is the new Mr Greek at the Kennedy Commons, (Kennedy & 401) their grilled octupus is fantastic, for a chain restaurant it is very good.
                Also, Milestones, they opened a new one at Warden and Hwy7, not bad for chain food. Alice Fazooli, coconut shrimp are still my favorite of all (404 & 7)