Barberians Steakhouse (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 7 Elm Street
Website: http://www.barberians.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner



When a restaurant’s been in business for over 50 years, you know they’re doing something right. Started in 1959, Barberian’s is a steakhouse institution. Their dining room proudly displays Canadian history with a mixture of sculptures, paintings and artifacts; from  paintings by the Group of Seven, a copy of the Globe and Mail from 1867 and pre-Confederation currency from the Hudson’s Bay Company, there’s a lot to be seen if you’re a museum, art or history buff.  But, none of this matters to me, what draws me to Barberians is their meat – all 16 ounces of it to be exact.

Their menu is stocked with traditional classics - no there isn’t the wagyu beef you’ll find at Jacobs - just the timeless cuts of meats that were probably around 50 years ago. The lack of choice isn’t a concern for me, give me an aged black angus bone-in ribeye any day, it will always be my favourite.

First to arrive is a basket of hot garlic bread and pickled vegetables (a collection of carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, a cauliflower floret and a jalapeño for whoever is brave enough to try it). I’m glad they leave the dish of vegetables with you throughout the meal, they really helped to break through the heaviness of the steak when I just need a refreshing sharp crunch.


After seeing the table beside get their salads and the enormous portions, my husband and I split a Caesar ($10.25; half portion pictured below). Unlike Harbour 60, it’s not done table-side but encompasses all the elements of a good classic – thick super garlicky dressing, smothered with grated parmesan, cool fresh romaine leaves and crisp croutons. It did lack bacon bits, but I don’t mind this given I’ve never been a huge fan of bacon.


For my first visit I had to go with the house specialty… the rib steak (available in 16 or 24 oz portions). Opting for the smaller one ($49.75), it nevertheless was a hulking piece of beef. Barberians is known for their steak seasoning, a secret blend that has been used since its inception and can even be purchased to take home. I have no idea what’s in it, but it adds just enough flavour to the steak without becoming overly salty so that the natural meat juices still stood out. As with the typical rib eye, it was wonderfully tender from the marbling and cooked to the perfect medium rare doneness. In my opinion, it wasn’t as good as the one I’ve had at Harbour 60 but any difference is slight as both were a delight.


We were offered a choice of rice, baked potato or fries with the steak (note there’s a $7.75 supplement for mashed potatoes) so you could get away with ordering just a steak without paying extra for sides. Although the fries were good (I snuck some off the plate of a fellow diner), nothing goes better with steak than a loaded potato. The condiments arrive table side allowing patrons to customize as they please - I packed mine with sour cream, chives and feta cheese (an interesting option which adds a bit of briny richness to it).

Despite the fact that I had to give away a portion of my steak after starting to get meat sweats, I was actually craving something sweet to end the meal. So our table of four decided to share an order of hot apple beignets with vanilla ice cream ($10.25). As with all of Barberian’s portion sizes, the dessert was more than enough to satisfy all of us with the dish having two full sized beignets and two scoops of ice cream.  Inside each beignet was a large thick slice of apple, which reduced the batter ratio and helped to lighten the dessert. Covered with cinnamon sugar and sprinkled with finely chopped walnuts this is my type of dessert.


It’s a steakhouse where you can arrive clad in suit or sweat shirt and feel equally welcomed. During our Sunday visit, the place was packed but there was never a moment we felt unattended to. Although the steak at Barberian’s wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, there’s something about their atmosphere that is so enjoyable and embracing that it’s certainly the one I’ll return to. Here’s to hoping that it will continue to be around for many years to come. 


Overall mark - 8 out of 10


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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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