55 Adelaide Street East
Dinner for two (includes beverages, tax and tip): $250 – $300
Accessibility: steps at street entrance, washrooms on main floor
Growing up in Halifax in the 1980s, a close proximity to the ocean meant that my family ate lots of fresh fish, but we certainly would never have considered eating it raw. I knew about sushi, but my experience of it did not extend past the scene in The Breakfast Club where Molly Ringwald’s character brings a selection for lunch. Which, in retrospect, is a little dubious, right? Did she have an ice pack in her bag?
When I moved to Toronto in 1987, my roommate Sharon and I would often go out clubbing and walk home. We walked a lot, and often far. Our weekly walk home from Psychedelic Sundays at RPM to our flat in Kensington Market (a walk of around 45 minutes and close to 4 km) often took us through the downtown core in the wee hours. We walked past Nami, and the blue neon wave above the front entrance, dozens of times, regularly wondering what Japanese food was really like. “I bet it’s really ‘fancy,’” one of us would inevitably say. “And expensive,” the other would reply.
While the ensuing decades has made sushi and Japanese cuisine not just accessible but downright normal or basic, I’d never gotten around to visiting Nami. During my time as a food writer, it flew under the radar, never needing to do any overt promotion. So when the name showed up on this year’s list for Summerlicious, I waved off my usual suspicion of the annual promotion, and we headed to Nami for an early dinner before a concert in St. James Park.
It is the obligation of schools to create a completely allergen-free environment? And does that include banning foods that *look* like common food allergens, such as soy nut butter instead of peanut butter? [Toronto Star]
It’s taken a while to trickle down to the mainstream, but the mini-dessert trend allows people to have their cake and eat it too. [USA Today]
Restaurant patrons (hopefully) know that booking a reservation via OpenTable means a hefty charge to the restaurant. Soon-to-roll-out free booking services via Google and Facebook are about to change that. [Seeking Alpha]
It’s that time of year again. Summerlicious (July 3rd – 19th); when diners flock to Toronto’s restaurants in search of a cheap meal, and restaurant staff groan and complain at the long hours and stiffed tips. Summer (and Winter) Licious are self-perpetuating catch-22s. Diners expect poor service and so tip poorly regardless, while servers expect poor tips and so give bad service. It’s enough to make some of us avoid the whole thing completely. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With just a few basic rules in place for both customers and restaurants, Summerlicious could be a lovely, enjoyable, even civilized event. Here’s how…
A few days ago, someone over on a LiveJournal community posted about a server they knew who got stiffed on a tip during Summerlicious.
Summerlicious, for those of you not familiar with it, is a two-week long event where participating Toronto restaurants offer a three-course prix-fixe menu at a significantly reduced price. It’s typically a loss-leader, where the restaurant makes money off of beverages, and hopes that their food is so good it will encourage the cheap-ass Summerlicious diners to come back at full price.
Now because Summerlicious diners have a reputation for being cheap-asses, they tend to get poor to bad service, especially when the restaurant is still offering their regular full menu. And as many people pointed out to the poster on the Toronto community… a lot of Summerlicious diners leave crappy tips not because they’re cheap, but because the server anticipated they would be cheap and gave them crappy service.
Greg and I are not normally cheap-ass diners. Nor are we poor tippers. Today, however, we left an 81 cent tip on a $41 bill, because we suffered through one of the crappiest meals we have ever experienced.
I’m not going to give a play-by-play, but rather some basic commonsense tips for both restaurants and diners.