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Nov 3, 2003 07:07 PM

NOW Magazine Best of Toronto Survey

  • j

Fellow Chowhounds,

I was distressed to read the results of NOW Magazine's Best of Toronto readers' Poll Winners. For those of you who have not see the results, I'l excerpt a few of the results.

Best Burger: Lick's; Harvey's (runner-up)

Best BBQ Chicken: Swiss Chalet

Best Cappuccino: Starbuck's; Second Cup (runner-up)

Best Chinese: Mandarin

Best Deli Lunch: Shopsy's; Druxy's (runner-up)

Best Greek: Mr. Greek

Best Italian: Il Fornello (runner-up)

Best Pizza: Pizza Pizza (runner-up)

Best Place for Ice Cream: Baskin Robbins (runner-up)

Best Sandwhich: Subway (runner-up)

Best Seafood: Red Lobster

Best Steak: The Keg

So many of the results are laughable I'm almost tempted to think the results are a joke. Either that or we Chowhounds need to to do some serious educating. I'd could sort of understand the results if NOW was some suburban weekly but it's supposed to be the downtown hipsters' magazine.

Sometimes the results are plausible (e.g. Lee Garden is runner up in the Chinese category) but Pizza Pizza? Subway? What a joke!


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  1. A lot of NOW"s readership is students, and some of the choices would reflect that on economic grounds (Harvey's, Swiss Chalet, ete.) but I cant see that explaining away Red Lobster, which we save solely for the visits of my 81 year old mother in law from Winnipeg.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Richard

      These have been the results for years now. NOW is no longer (and has not been for quite some time) the hip urban alternative newspaper that many enjoyed at its beginning. It is much like the Sun - consumer-oriented magazine mostly in the business of selling ad space. No one I know can stand reading their "serious" pieces anymore - mostly people read it for reviews of films and concert listings. I think most people into Toronto, don't fill out the survey (I know I've stopped years ago, when the chains began to win), and those who do perhaps do it for the chance to enter the contest and simply list the chains because the names are easy to recall.

      I also wonder how many people really do this survey - many of the results are identical from year to year.

      1. re: kasia

        I must confess that I too cannot stand reading NOW's "serious" articles. For that matter, many of the reviews I find suspect. Of course, a review is a person's opinion (notwithstanding any claim people might make to objectivity) and the trick is finding a reviewer whose tastes coincide with your own. Personally, I find NOW's reviewers' tastes and my own tastes frequently do not coincide.

        Having said all that, I would have thought that NOW readers could have distiguished places they go to frequently (because of convenience, budgetary constraints, etc.) from places where they thought the food was good. Don't get me wrong, I think that places like Pizza Pizza have their place and I even like going to the Swiss Chalet on occasion. But I take it for what it is. The funny thing is that Toronto is the only place I've ever lived (NYC, Montreal, Ithaca) where this type of survey yielded these kind of results. Of course, it would be great to find out the details of the survey including sample size. However, on the face of it, the results are really shocking. Does the average Torontonian have such a leaden palate?

      2. re: Richard

        I'd say it's just a law of averages. More people have gone to Pizza Pizza than Gigi's. More people rent videos at Blockbuster than Suspect.

        What's distressing, is this is supposed to be a "best of" vote. I may order Pizza Pizza but I remember that Massimos tastes better. As most Chow Hounds noticed long ago, some people just don't seem to care or really notice the difference. I see a chain restaurant and I'm immediately suspicious because chains usually strive to make the most money possible with the food being second. Example, McDonald's using exactly 4 1/2 pieces of pepperoni on their pizzas Yet others see volume as being a vindication of popularity. There's one in Vancouver, it must be good.

      3. Clearly this is the result of a) mass voting by a restaurant's minimum-wage employees; b) the folly of letting the masses vote; c) truth, in the sense that these places are precisely where the masses go, knowing no better !

        2 Replies
        1. re: J ohn

          And how many of the people reading this filled out the survey? I bet NONE.. so why are the results surprising.. you also have to think of the geography. It is distrubuted all over the GTA so you will not get a lot of votes in Etobicoke for a mom & pop pizza place in Leslieville of any votes from Scarbourough for a Roti place in the west end.. I also fall into the habit filling out surveys where you want to put something for each category so you just put the first thing that pops in your head..

          Do your own survey tomorrow ask 10 people to name a seafood restaurant I bet the majority will say Red Lobster...

          1. re: J ohn

            Very true...and the same kind of useless poll is done by Where magazine every year with equally undependable results.

          2. v
            Vinnie Vidimangi

            The aristocracy, the restaurant reviewers, is more distressing. So we had our greatest write that the food in southern France is second rate because cream is not used and that this area does not give forth any really good wine.

            1. Best Greek at Mr. Greek?! Best Chinese is Mandarin?! What the heck? That's ridiculous, and really sad.

              1. a
                Alek in Toronto

                I wonder how many people actually fill out the survey or if NOW only chooses the businesses that the editors know will then advertise in the paper?
                I have always had this sneeking suspicion that NOW does this - chooses a BIG Wellknown company - calls them to tel them they are number 1 and sells them AD seems more than a coincidence that all these larger food establishments then purchase AD space touting - we are number one according to NOW readers!

                The results are pathetic and shows that Toronto has still a long way to go to be a true "WORLD CLASS" city.