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Perigee closes; Splendido downscales


rgruby
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Read about Perigee's closure in the Star yesterday, I think.

Now, two restaurants does not a trend make, perhaps. But add in Thuet's (second) move to lower priced fare, Avalon's closure a couple of years back and, well?

How are some of the other higher-end places doing?

Are we going to see more closures or moves to more casual and wallet friendly menus?

Cheers,

Geoff

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Don't forget Susur closing.

Toronto's dining scene is ... undergoing an overhaul. Restaurants are moving to cheaper, more rustic fare in response to the economy. The market for haute cuisine is shrinking, and the desire for cheap alternatives is exponentially growing (like everywhere else).

The positive is that we're getting places offering charcuterie tastings, braised dishes, offal dishes, ... you know, the cheaper, most delicious cuts. The settings are more casual and relaxed, with lots of sharing, laughing, and feeling at ease. I personally am happy with the change. I'd rather eat at JK Wine Bar than North44 any day.

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Read about Perigee's closure in the Star yesterday, I think.

Now, two restaurants does not a trend make, perhaps. But add in Thuet's (second) move to lower priced fare, Avalon's closure a couple of years back and, well?

How are some of the other higher-end places doing?

Are we going to see more closures or moves to more casual and wallet friendly menus?

Cheers,

Geoff

Perigee was a shock to me. They've been getting good ink and I found out about the closure when I was going to their website to make an email reservation for next weekend. They're a talented bunch over there - I'm sure the newest incarnation will be excellent.

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Read about Perigee's closure in the Star yesterday, I think.

Now, two restaurants does not a trend make, perhaps. But add in Thuet's (second) move to lower priced fare, Avalon's closure a couple of years back and, well?

How are some of the other higher-end places doing?

Are we going to see more closures or moves to more casual and wallet friendly menus?

Cheers,

Geoff

I was sad to see Perigee close- I never managed to visit.

Scaramouche has been filling their restaurant with their string of monthly prix fixe specials offered Monday-Thursday nights. I think it's a great way to get people into their restaurant midweek. I'm guessing the profit margins are fairly slim, and the servings of the first and second courses are smaller than those on the regular menu, which is fine with me since I'm trying to lose weight. I got the feeling some of the prix fixe dishes don't get the same attention in the kitchen as regular dishes, but considering the price point, it doesn't bother me. I see it as a case of you get what you pay for.

The night I was there for Lobsterlicious in February, the place was packed. The slice of coconut cream pie was ridiculously large, and I would guess that it had a higher caloric load than the first and second courses put together. The first and second courses seemed to be fairly innovative and delicate, but the desserts seemed to be traditional and heavy. Maybe the dessert portions were XL in order to fill up big eaters who were still hungry after the first and second courses.

Found the service to be mediocre, and our server took off as soon as our desserts arrived. Could be that some of the servers see the lobsterlicious/crustacean celebration/spring stimulus customers as bargain hunters, and are holding back a little on the service when they don't anticipate a generous tip.

The current prix fixe at Scaramouche is called Spring Stimulus, and costs $58. Available Monday- Thursday.

http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com/sprin...imulus_menu.pdf

Madeline's and Lee are both currently offering a 5 course dinner for $60, featuring dishes from Shang in NYC (although some of the dishes are Susur standards AFAIK). Some people, including some posters on this board, have posted their comments from the experience on CH. http://www.susur.com/lee/events.php

Forte offers a two course $30 prix fixe pre theatre dinner, from 5 pm- 6:30 pm, and most of the mains on the regular menu are under $30 http://fortebistro.ca/theatre-menu.php

I had a conversation with a server at Sequel (near Yonge and Lawrence) a few months ago, and he mentioned the owners intentionally lowered their prices over the past year, and keep all their mains under the $30 mark. Looks like Brad Long is doing the same kind of thing at Veritas.

Edited by phoenikia (log)
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My opinion is that Scaramouche is currently the best venue in town.  Considering price and quality of food being put out consistantly, I don't think anyone can touch them at the moment.  Keith is kicking some ass in that kitchen.

I would beg to differ with the 'consistent quality of food being put out' by that kitchen.

In the past 5 months I have had 2 sub-par dining experiences there, one time being fed artichoke husks in the 3 way goat cheese app the next course, their hand made porcini pasta lacking any sauce whatsoever, the latest not weeks ago, taking a bite of the crab flan from there recent crustacean menu, to be greeted with numerous large pieces of shell.

For the money they are charging (both from menu and not) these issues should not be occurring.

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Ok,

I definitely should've added Susur to the examples in the my first post.

I walk the mutt past there fairly often. Susur wasn't all that full early in the week before they announced it was closing. But Madelines certainly doesn't look to be any busier (I'd say less so) based on my not so scientific, but relatively frequent, walks by. Does seem to be doing ok on weekends though. Not Susur busy, but ok.

Splendido's the one that surprised me though - they'd been building towards the top resto in town/ the province/ the country in terms of food, service, ambiance - the whole deal. They were gunning for the Michelin-level experience, from what I understand. And for quite a while. Slowly, methodically.

And they've abandoned that - seemingly very quickly. But who knows what factors went into that decision? I'm not sure anybody else had or has that level of ambition in town now though.

Is that kind of ambition even realistic in today's economic reality? I know I'm not going to be dining in that kind of place unless someone else is footing the bill (kid and mortgage - along with kitchen reno - basically killed the luxe dining for us a few years back) but are there enough folks out there willing to keep the remaining top places afloat?

I hope so. Just because I'm not eating there doesn't mean it doesn't affect me or you. The lack of high end kitchens means less places for eager cooks to learn their craft at a high level.

There was a recent post that felt the opposite (in NYC at least) - that the downturn would separate the wheat from the chaff and the good cooks would rise to the top. In essence, the poster felt there was too much "fat" in most NYC kitchens and not enough real talent. Perhaps. But with less good places to learn, where are the neighbourhood bistro chef/owners that rise above the crowd going to learn their craft?

Cheers,

Geoff

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