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shampurj's Profile

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Sad news - Debu Saha's Biryani House

For those of you who had his cooking at Debu Saha's Biryani House, he is no longer cooking there. The new guys kept the the Biryani House monicker, but obviously could not use his name.

Sad, Sad news.


Tasting Menu??

I like The Town Grill at 243 Carlton - you can have both Vegetarian tasting menu as well as non-vegetarian with or without wine pairings.

I tend to go there at least once a week, and the chef - will accomodate any special needs without blinking an eye.

Their website does not do the food/service justice.


Restaurant evaluations

As a diner, when I go to a restaurant, the following factors influence whether I will return:

- When I dine alone, if there is a bar, I gravitate to it. Otherwise, I expected to acknowledged immediately if no one is around, or as soon as the host/hostess is able to and seated within 2-5 minutes(assuming that I have a reservation or that a table is available). I expect to be asked "Take your coat?".

- The servers should be pleasant, knowledgeable about the menu and the wine pairings and prompt. If there is a delay, keep me informed.

- Keep the wine/water glasses filled as appropriate.

- If there is more than a inordinate amount of food left on the plate, inquire as to the cause. If the feedback is negative, do something about it. Otherwise, a few minutes into the meal, ask how everything is.

- Quality of the food: While I gravitate towards spicy foods, I just like food with flavour. If savoury, and done well, I'm guaranteed to enjoy it. Somehow, some places manage to leech all flavour out of even sun-dried tomatoes. Ick!!

- Value for money: I don't mind spending $40/entree or more if it is guaranteed to be delicious, and the chef/server is willing to replace it without a complaint if I have a problem with it.

- Have good wine pairings for the food at reasonable prices. I know that my enjoyment skyrockets when the wine/food complement each other.

- Use proper wine glasses - one way to make sure I never come back is to serve wine in those abominable tumblers.

- Butter or other spreads for the bread should be spreadable, not hard.

- I like elbow room, so the tables should be at respectable distance to each other so that I am not forced to overhear the other tables' generally inane conversations nor should others be subjected to mine.

- After all, it is the hospitality industry. Be hospitable.

As well, as a customer, I owe it to the establishment to be polite, show up on time, leave on time if previously agreed that there is another sitting to follow, not to badger and behave in a civilized manner. As long as when a mistake happens, it is corrected, be understanding and laugh it off.

When all is said and done, a restaurant's life blood are regular and repeat customers. Personally, I'm a creature of habit - keep me happy, and I'll keep spending my money in your establishment. A short list of places that do most if not all, of these well, at least to my standards, are listed below in no specific order:

Opal Jazz Lounge
The Town Grill
Ten Feet Tall
The Intercontinental Hotel
The Host on Prince Arthur

Comments? additions? am I being unreasonable?


Wine Price Range of Barberian's?

I believe Opus on Prince Arthur has the largest wine list I've ever seen. Bigger than some phonebooks.


The Town Grill on Carlton

About six weeks ago, after a pretty hectic day, my colleague and I went to The Town Grill on Carlton at Parliament. Service was very good, and food was superb. Kept meaning to go back, and finally went back twice last week by myself. The server remembered me from my one previous aforementioned visit.

Rather than figure what I want to order, I just ordered the Vegetarian Tasting menu with wine pairings. The chef inquired whether I will consume fish, to which I replied in the affirmative. Thus began one of my most memorable meals:

- Black cod done to perfection, melted in my mouth
- Something delicious on potato rosti - don't remember, but I finished it, so must have been excellent.
- main: Oven baked Apple stuffed with various nuts and fruits on a plate with White Asparagus, Artichoke hearts etc.
- Dessert: Saffron Cheesecake with sour cherry compote: By this time I was full, but after one bite, I knew I had to finish it. Absolutely the best I've ever had.

Each course was matched with an appropriate wine, and proved to be a delicious experience. This was on a Tuesday night and the weather was foul, so I was the last one in the place. Ended up having another glass of wine with the Chef (Colin Gallacher) & the servers and mentioned some of my preferences.

Total bill: $105 including tax/tip

Went back two days later: The place was almost full, so I sat down at the bar, and ordered the same, and said "I'll trust the chef to feed me"

- Foie Gras seared, on thin Toast & salad (Yes, I do, on occassion, eat Foie Gras, and the chef remembered it from our previous conversation)
- Goat cheese between two delicate layers of polenta
- Potatoe and onion terrine (sounds bland, but was very savory)
- Chocolate pate with homemade marmalade (I'm not a chocolate fan, but this pairing just about blew me away).

Wine pairings were excellent. Here's an interesting pairing: Foie gras with a Pinot Noir.

All taxes, tip included: $100

Not cheap, but I think, given the quality of food, service and knowldgeable wine pairings, it is a bargain. One can obviously dine for less, but if you can handle the freight, I would say: "I'm in the Chef's hands - feed me :)".

As a matter of fact, I already have - I have a reservation there for next Thursday.


Opal Dining Lounge

Hi Fawzi,

Yep - as you mentioned last night(April 6, 2007), the note below is from Jay, the regular at Opal :)


Why Winterlicious?

I tend to be a creature of habit, and over the course of last few Sundays, I wander in to my favorite restaurant by myself, read, drink and have my dinner and never leave less than content. Last Sunday, the first Winterlicious Sunday, I wander in - I did have a reservation by the way - was seated beside a table for 7 who were there before I got there and were still finishing up when I left.

My point is that by the time everything was said and done, the three wait staff and one of the owners who served them made less money on them than they did on me. Having spoken with more than one restaurant owner, I think that they have a love/hate relationship with 'licious promotions. Love because they generate buzz and hate because they have to work three times as hard to make about the same.

I personally will not try a new restaurant during a 'licious promo, and in case I am forced to, I'll always order off the main menu or go to a place that does not participate in the promo.


Olive ascolane in Toronto?

I have had them at Noce - I was there with a date who had been married to an Italian for a number of years, and her comment was "Oh My God...these are fantastic". Having no other frame of reference, I just think they are delicious.

I typically go there for lunch at least once a week - I work 30 seconds away from there - and I've never had a cause for complaint.

I was there for dinner by myself last Sunday, and I left with this comment to the owner: "I am content" :) Not something I say often when leaving a restaurant.

Opal Dining Lounge

This place is turning out to be one of my favorites. I like the music, food is very good and service is superb.

I'm usually there at least once a week - typically Friday/Saturday.