Toronto restaurants share their most hilarious online reviews
In this era of Yelp and social media, any armchair food critic who’s even slightly miffed about a restaurant experience can attempt to tank a business’s reputation with a mouse and a few angry keystrokes. Most restaurants just grin and bear it. Others, like Adamson Barbecue in Leaside, choose to embrace their online haters. We asked a bunch of Toronto restaurants to critique their “best” bad reviews for us.
1346 Queen St. W., no phone, doomiestoronto.com
Google review: I wish they would add some meat options for those of us that come with family or friends but aren’t vegan ourselves.
Reaction: “Wishing a vegan place would add meat options to their menu is like wishing a church would burn bibles every once in a while. That’s never going to happen, my friend.” — Eva Lampert, director of vegan operations
Track and Field
860 College St., no phone, trackandfieldbar.com
Google review: By far the worst bar I have been to in Toronto. Terrible food. Definitely will never go there again.
Reaction: “We don’t serve food, though…” — Nickie Minshall, co-owner
Smoke Signals Bar-B-Q
1242 Dundas St. W., 416-588-7408, smokesignalsbarbecue.ca
Yelp review: They know how to smoke meat. They know their food science. Congrats! But like, take me some place interesting will you? They don’t respect the side dishes, at all. And that’s a major no-no with BBQ.
Reaction: What does this even mean? You’re absolutely right. We don’t respect our side dishes at all. During the whole day of prep we’re constantly calling the potatoes, cabbage and Brussels sprouts pieces of shit. Shame on us. — Nick Chen-Yin, co-owner and pitmaster
176 Wicksteed Ave., 647-559-2080, adamsonbarbecue.com
Google review: This place needs to get over themselves. If I spend a $100 on a platter and want to eat off a plate, give me one of your paper plates. Don’t tell me that it’s not authentic and that I should eat off butcher paper.
Reaction: “The only person who needs to get over themselves is the one who can’t seem to suffer the indignity of eating off of butcher paper at a Texas-style barbecue restaurant. Imagine the horror when he found out we don’t provide silverware either!” — Matthew Rushworth, pitmaster
252 Carlton St., 416-968-6888, kanpaisnackbar.com
Google review: Hipster-style, Asian-themed restaurant with overpriced food and small portions. You know it’s awful when most of the guests dining there are Gwailos.
Reaction: “Here we go again, another keyboard warrior. But this time, they’re crossing that line.” — Trevor Lui, co-owner
179 Baldwin St., 416-599-7653, northpoke.com
Yelp review: Had a Hawaiian Classic which I ate over the garbage can because all the other counter spots were taken.
Reaction: “Maybe take it to-go and not eat on a garbage bin? Or wait for a seat to open up?” — Linda Dang, co-owner
815 Bloor St. W., no phone, northwoodto.ca
Yelp review: I came twice here and both times was turned away because they were at capacity.
Reaction: “I tried to have these reviews taken down from Yelp on the criteria that they did not describe a guest experience insofar as they didn’t make it past the front door. Yelp told me that because they talked to the host, that counts enough as a guest experience (even though we invited them back those same nights when we had room). Google? No luck even getting in touch with anyone there—they’re even worse than Yelp and have zero filter for totally fake reviews. Does Google have a Gmail account? I can’t find it.” — Richard Pope, owner
299 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-532-7700, barque.ca
Yelp review: Why do you have to put rosemary in your marinades and rubs? Rosemary is the worst herb you can use. It’s like perfume. You don’t want to taste the herbs, you want to taste the meat. If you like strong herbs then just go to the mall, buy your favourite eau de toilette, and spray it on your meat.
Reaction: “I’m really hurt by this comment. Everything I know I learned at Alice Waters’ knees, sipping Orange Julius at the fountain in the San Dimas mall.” — David Neinstein, co-owner and executive chef
99 Blue Jays Way, 416-979-7825, gretzkys.com
Google review: I have never been but I’m giving it a one star since I don’t like that Gretzky didn’t get a penalty for his high stick on Doug Gilmour which ended up costing the Leafs the Stanley Cup in 1993.
Reaction: “With the restaurant turning 25 this year, we are all for a bit of nostalgia—but come on, Leaf fans, isn’t it time to let this one go?” — Natalie B., manager
1301 Queen St. E., 416-406-1301, ceilicottage.com
Yelp review: It’s so cramped you have to go outside and walk around to the other doors to get to the restrooms (seriously)… It’s hard to tell which door to go into.
Reaction: “‘How do I get in?’ is an actual regular question. Do you like black or red? We’ve a black door and a red door. Just pick one and enter.” — Patrick McMurray, owner
The Tempered Room
1374 Queen St. W., 416-546-4374, thetemperedroom.com
Yelp review: Caution: Do not eat the ham and cheese croissants sitting in the display! It was obviously not freshly made, must have been sitting there from the previous day. They did ask if we wanted it heated up (which would have likely helped with the fact that it was dry and stale); I opted out because of the walk we had ahead of us… needless to say it was a total disappointment.
Reaction: It’s a refrigerated display case—if it’s not heated up, you’re eating hard butter and congealed ham. — Bertrand Alépée, owner
TD Centre, Concourse Level, 66 Wellington St. W., 416-214-0320, fabbrica.mcewangroup.ca
Yelp review: I tried their pepperoni square. Very tasty and plenty of pepperoni on the square. However, for $6.22 with tax it was a bit steep. Had it been $5.00 all in then it certainly would have been worth it.
Reaction: “We are seriously doing our best. The dough for our pizza (which chefs Brooke and Drew honest to god spent eight months testing and perfecting), is a 72-hour process all done by hand by our pizzaiolo, Mike. The pepperoni is Ezzo Pepperoni from upstate New York, and it’s the best. We only use San Marzano tomatoes for our sauce, and we use fresh, local basil and 25 per cent fat, high-quality mozzarella. We have highly trained staff making everything by hand every day—who we pay money to. We could not make that slice cheaper if we tried.” — Jessica Rodrigues, director of communications
158 Cumberland St., 647-748-4464, barreyna.com
OpenTable review: Delicious food! Tacos were incredible. Ambiance gets a lower rating because it was way too hot on the main level and in the back patio.
Reaction: “This was during the recent heat wave and even with three fans on the patio, the air was thick and hot. There’s not much we can do—it’s a heat wave!” — Nicki Laborie, owner
1640 Dupont St., 647-352-5900, tuckshopkitchen.ca
Yelp review: I have a really short lunch hour and was disappointed that my burger—hold the mayo—took almost 7 mins.
Reaction: “We are sorry to hear about your short lunch hour, however we cook our burgers fresh to order instead of leaving them sitting in a steamer pool while we wait for you to get here. Next time, order ahead online or give us a call.” — Jake Taylor, chef
1281 Bloor St. W., 416-535-1717, sugotoronto.com
Google review: Since my original post, I’ve heard some gross things about this place and feel it now warrants a 1 star. I feel very meh about this place, despite the stellar service. The calamari is delicious, but that’s certainly not enough to make me reconsider returning. The eggplant sandwich was tasty, but pricy and difficult to eat because it’s stacked and everything falls out. I like messy food, but this was messier than I want to deal with. A bottle of “Mexican” Coke is $4, but I couldn’t taste enough of a difference between it, and regular Coke to understand the pricing. The restaurant itself is noisy and you can’t sit anywhere without feeling like you’re in the middle of a whole lot of hustle. The boxing paintings of exclusively male boxers at every angle, the men’s sports on the TV, and the foosball table, made me feel like a lady stepping into yet another male-dominated space, in which women haven’t been considered or made to feel welcome. This place is a bit too dude-bro for me.
Reaction: “‘Bit too dude-bro’ at the end of this review is okay.” — Conor Joerin, co-owner
You’d think people would be marginally better in the flesh, but that’s not always the case:
1240 Yonge St., 416-519-2700, nutbar.co
In-person review: We had a customer recently who ordered a vanilla smoothie with nothing in it except avocado and then complained that it didn’t taste good.
Reaction: “Milky avocado not your thing after all?” — Kate Taylor Martin, owner