My 2 cents worth...
I came on here quite some time ago to get suggestions on where to dine for my birthday (in the Queen/Spadina area)... many of you had mentioned Peter Pan Bistro, as the place to go. So I did...
I will NEVER go back there again! To start I had the potato and leek soup. That was ok... but hardly worth 5 bucks!!! For dinner I had chicken and mashed potatos... how can you go wrong with that??? The potoatos were tasteless! The chicken was also lacking.
For a pricey dinner... I would NEVER suggest coming here!
A few other places I thoroughly enjoyed were:
1. Harbour Sixty Steakhouse: yes... it's VERY expensive. But well worth it! The steaks are cooked to perfection and the sauces are absolutely delicious! The atmosphere is cozy. You can't go wrong here!
2. Adega (on Elm st.): This small Portuguese restaurant was the best I've ever gone to! The waitor was very helpful and informative. The food was very tastey. The desserts are few (but you must try the Portuguese dessert, Natas de ceu... it means "Creams of the heaven"... it's served in a Martini glass! Very cool). Highly recommended!
3. Lolita's Lust (on the Danforth): The atmosphere is quite interesting... quite dark (if it bothers you, you can ask them to turn the light up a bit... they won't mind at all). They were also very informative. The food was very tastey and cooked to perfection. Desserts were good... wine list is extensive.
4. Courtyard Cafe (in the Windsor Arms Hotel): I visited this restaurant a couple of years ago and I was quite impressed. I had the rack of lamb... it was SOOOO good!! The mashed potatos were very tastey. The presentation was excellent. The desserts were even better. If you decide to come to this restaurant, leave room for dessert!!
Well... that's my 2 cents worth.
I don't think that I'm one of the people who responded to your request for suggestions, but you raise an interesting issue about restaurant reviews.
I don't generally assume that what others like that I will. (It's probably been 25 years since I last ate in Peter Pan, and at that point, it was well known for quality hamburgers, rather than fine dining). Since I'm Chinese, my perception of food is different from others. (The Chinese have a saying -- you can't eat decor -- which unfortunately may be reflected in the (lack of) quality in restrooms in Chinese restaurants).
In movie reviews, one interesting approach I've seen is not to rate a movie 1 star to 5 stars, but instead to portray the type of person who would really enjoy the movie. Thus, some are recommended for guys who like action movies, and others would be well suited as "chick flicks".
On my trip to Montreal over the Civic Day weekend, I looked at the message boards on Montreal, where the "great" reviews seemed to center on about 4 recommendations. In the late evening (by the time we got there, we were looking for dinner at 10 p.m.), we probably walked about 6 blocks down St. Denis before finding a bistro that had the right "feel" for the occasion. It was a nice restaurant, a little bit fancier than my wife and I usually go to, but we were in the right mood for it. We had good bistro food (gazpacho, pate, stuffed calamari, lamb chops).
Would I recommend this restaurant to anyone? Sure, if you were with your spouse at 10 p.m. on a warm summer night in Montreal, and wanted to sit at a table open to the street. Would I go back there as a destination? Maybe not. There are so many good restaurants in Montreal, and we spend so little time there!
divirtual, I appreciate your perspective and the notion of appropriateness in place and time that comes into the experience of good eats.
Recently posted opinions on Rain illustrate this to me. I was there last year for my birthday. (Good thing too, as the place is supposedly SO last year.) It was fine for a one-time deal. Food was good, as was the service and the place. My fellow patrons were not of one type and overall I had a memorable evening.
But what is it that makes a place that was once happening all of a sudden old and tired? It's probably a quality similar to 'having moment' as the fashionistas say. Something to do with newness and excitement. In the restaurant business this fades as new places pop up. But some hot restaurants thrive for so long probably because of...the food.
The Chinese are so right-on.