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Zagat Toronto 2006 Edition


nsequitur
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So in today's mail I got the (undated) 2006 book (anyone who participates in the voting gets mailed a copy free).

For those not familiar, zagat is a rectangular red book that is 'the bible' in many US cities (the american equivalent of the michelin guide in europe).

The last Toronto edition was woefully outdated (pre-susur, to give a clue), so after much prodding from me, they finally opened the polls for diners like me to cast votes for their faves.

The unfortunate result was a very small edition - about 20% the size of my local Miami guide, and maybe 15% the size of New York City. So scaled down that it's not even rectangular for god's sake!

I guess this is the result of not enough input from the public (from whose votes the guide is compiled). As such, I'd encourage all to sign up for free at zagat.com, and vote when (and if) they ever do Toronto again.

And now, more importantly, here are the top ranked restaurants (top score is 30):

29 Sushi Kaji

28 Scaramouche

Chiado/Antonio

27 North 44

Hiro Sushi

Susur

Lai Wah Heen

Lee

Splendido

Oro

Bistro Thuet

Perigee

Celestin

Scaramouche pasta

26 George

Truffles

Canoe

Starfish Oyster

Boba

Opus

Il Mulino

25 Harbour Sixty

Mistura

Jamie Kennedy

Bymark

JOV Bistro

Mildred Pierce

Terra

Blowfish

Pangaea

[Eigensinn Farm, mentioned in the one page 'outlying areas' page, also got a 29]

Other interesting notes:

Top Decor (all received 26):

Canoe, Rain, Scaramouche, Truffles, Auberge du Pommier and Luce

Top Service

27 Scaramouche/Scaramouche Pasta, and Matignon

26 Truffles and Oro

Most popular (by number of votes submitted, not score):

1. Canoe

2. North 44

3. Scaramouche

4. Susur

5. Jamie Kennedy

To type much more would be copyright infringement.

Given that we are prone to gripe about bias in the only other real comprehensive examination (Toronto Life), Zagat is supposed to avoid this flaw by being a user rating. That being the case, do you agree with the guide?

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The main problem with Zagat is that it consistently overrates. Assuming you follow the rules you must have visited the restaurant in the previous 12 months. So, for example, if I had a terrible meal (or two) at Perigee - but they were over 12 months ago, then I can no longer record it.

And when you consider that Zagat comes out around 2 years between editions, it doesn't really make sense.

So you don't really find critical evaluations, just the praises. And a tendency for the 'traditional' places to score more highly.

Having said that, most of the places recommended on this Board seem to have done reasonably well, so maybe the rankings overall aren't too bad.

But does anyone here think the service at Matignon is better than that at Truffles or Splendido??

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And when you consider that Zagat comes out around 2 years between editions, it doesn't really make sense.

Zagat has problems, true (one is that reviewers have to score food, service and decor on a scale of 0-3, which doesn't give much flexibility), but the flaw you point out relates to the number of reviews submitted, and probably sales. Because not enough people submit reviews, the book is small and incomplete, and because of this it doesn't sell well. You see where this is going: less sales means the 2006 book (which has no date on the cover) sits on shelves long after new openings and closings, making it more unappealing which perpetuates the cycle.

If there were more reviews submitted, the book would be larger, and might come out yearly as it does in most other cities where it is compiled and sold. Then it would sell and generate more reviews.

I guess the point is: become a reviewer at zagat.com.

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Never even heard of Oro or Celestine, anyone???

Other than that it looks pretty good!

Oro is: ororestauraunt.com (Elm st. between Bay and Yonge).

Celestin has no web address, but is at 623 Mt. Pleasant Rd (at Manor Rd E).

I hadn't heard of them either.

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no surprises really there. as Estuferian elluded to,- there's always something good to say about any restaurant in the zagat guide, even the one's that score 10's.

One thing they got right is the "relative scale" within each city- meaning that a 29 in Toronto and a 29 in NY are two different things really.

Interesting to contrast with Michelin, where a star is a star, although they had to be a "bit" more liberal when they issued their NY guide.

"I hate people who are not serious about their meals." Oscar Wilde

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Never even heard of Oro or Celestine, anyone???

Oro is: ororestauraunt.com (Elm st. between Bay and Yonge).

Celestin has no web address, but is at 623 Mt. Pleasant Rd (at Manor Rd E).

I hadn't heard of them either.

I've eaten at Oro on a number of occasions... it's always been rather good.

It seems to be an under-appreciated gem.

Try their calamari appetizer - fantastic.

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Never even heard of Oro or Celestine, anyone???

Oro is: ororestauraunt.com (Elm st. between Bay and Yonge).

Celestin has no web address, but is at 623 Mt. Pleasant Rd (at Manor Rd E).

I hadn't heard of them either.

I've eaten at Oro on a number of occasions... it's always been rather good.

It seems to be an under-appreciated gem.

Try their calamari appetizer - fantastic.

I'll second the under-appreciated gem bit and the calamari recommendation. oro is a great place

ns

There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves - Fergus Henderson

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Celestin is ru by a parapalegic chef who has a custom wheel chair so he is able to 'stand' in the ckitchen and cook. I'm not sure why he is confined to a wheelchair but i do know that it is worth the trip to mount pleasant.

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Celestin is ru by a parapalegic chef who has a custom wheel chair so he is able to 'stand' in the ckitchen and cook.  I'm not sure why he is confined to a wheelchair but i do know that it is worth the trip to mount pleasant.

A bit more on Celestin, the food is classical French. The food, while rarely spectacular, is always very good and very consistent. Strong suits are the soups, which often have a well balanced amount of spice, the signature braised rabbit raviolis, and the fish courses. The desserts, made by the chef's brother (who also runs the amazing bakery next door), are probably the strongest part of the restaurant. The atmosphere is sort of an upscale bistro. Currently I believe they are offering large cold seafood platters. It really is one of this city's underrated restaurants.

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