Thursday, August 8, 2013

summerlicious anniversary lunch - Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill

Location: 2901 Bayview Avenue, Toronto

Description on Summerlicious site:
Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill, Bayview Village is the first of O&B's casual dining restaurants. This large urban space feels very downtown despite its North Toronto location. A gleaming open kitchen extends into the airy dining room, featuring washed tin ceilings, leather banquettes and dramatic and distinctive light fixtures. The menu offers something for everyone, including fresh, made-from-scratch soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas and fire-roasted pizzas.

Price: $15



Paul had the Organic Lollo Rossa Green Salad (Niagara Stone fruit preserve, Parmesan and Riesling dressing). He really enjoyed the dressing and the preserved fruit in the salad. Meanwhile, I had the Watermelon & Tomato Gazpacho (basil, olive and brioche), which was refreshing on a hot summer day. The gazpacho had a nice twang to it and there was very generous great portion for an appetizer.


Paul and I both had the Pulled Pork Shoulder Quesadilla (queso fresco, whole wheat tortilla and head cabbage). When we saw pulled pork on the menu, we both had to order this one. Really soft, flavourful, perfectly done pulled pork. We checked the regular menu while we were waiting and this quesadilla was the only Summerlicious menu item that isn't offered on their normal menu, so we wanted to try it for sure. Great dish. Even the chips on the side were great!


Paul and I both had the Cheesecake (honey ricotta). I had really wanted to try the Creme Caramel, but we were informed that they had run out of that so we both ordered the cheesecake. (Really, how does a restaurant that has participated in Summerlicious for so many years run out of a dessert option by 1:30pm? Seriously?) I was really disappointed. I've also discovered that I'm not a fan of ricotta cheesecake - the texture just really throws me off. The berry compote was flavourful, but that was the only highlight of the dessert.

Ok, I have to split this into two areas. The hostess and our servers. Let me say, the servers we had were awesome. Awesome. They were friendly, attentive and quick.

I cannot, however, say the same for the hostess. I'm biting my tongue here because everything else about this meal was well done, but needless to say, our greeting (or lack of) almost ruined the entire lunch for me. We were really close to just walking away before being seated.

I understand that these restaurants are busier than usual during Summerlicious. I get that. And this place was swamped. But that doesn't mean that customers shouldn't be greeted with a smile and in a prompt manner. Maybe it was because I was super-polite and not as "assertive" as some of the other guests. In any case, I felt invisible and ignored.

Unfortunately, even though we've had some great meals at O&B Cafe Grill, we don't plan on going back anytime soon. Especially not during Summerlicious. This isn't a knock at the servers or the chefs - the food and the service was perfect. No complaints at all. But that tiny incident with the hostess really upset me.

I know that the lack of my business won't be missed by them, but I'd like to spend my hard-earned money at a place where I don't leave feeling all tense and frustrated.

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