CLOSED: Drake One Fifty (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 150 York Street

Type of Meal: Lunch and Dinner

This isn’t the type of restaurant you’d expect to find in the Financial District.  A white vacuum tube sculpture adorns the doorway and there are colours galore! At the entrance are an impressive 60-foot feature bar and a photo booth, which could be an interesting combination for corporate holiday parties.

The Drake One Fifty is a good drinks venue. There are tons of choices and they’re an impressive size - I’m so accustomed to the small five sip cocktails across Toronto nowadays that it’s a pleasant surprise when it arrives in a tumbler.  The lavender lemonade ($12) was quite simple made with vodka, lemonade and lavender syrup. To be honest, to me it just tasted like lemons as the lemonade was so overpowering that you couldn’t taste the lavender or the vodka for that matter. 

Having had an opportunity to visit the venue twice in a week, lunch and dinner, this post encompasses both experiences. The lunch was much more successful as I thoroughly enjoyed the one fifty burger ($21).  Made from 30-day aged short rib, the patty was richly flavoured from the fattier cut of beef but didn’t feel heavy. Moreover, although it was cooked to a perfect medium, its structure was retained and didn’t become too soft. The thick cuts of bacon added some saltiness but wasn’t excessively smoky to overpower the taste of the meat and there was just enough cheddar cheese to seal in the juices.  Toppings include buttery bibb lettuce, a spicy mayo and pickled red onions which provided a bit of tartness without using ketchup.

The fries, which had to be double if not triple fried, were crunchy and hot. Using whole potatoes they were flavourful, especially with the addition of fragrant fried rosemary (I love when rosemary is combined with potatoes) and a liberal coating of sea salt. 

On the other hand, the dinner was disappointing and really could be improved if better quality ingredients were used (similar to the burger and fries). The seafood pasta’s ($26) squid ink spaghetti was great in terms of flavour and doneness. But, the seafood itself seemed like it came out of a bag of frozen medley from a budget grocery store. The clams weren’t in the shell making them hard to distinguish (I only found one), the calamari although cooked well were sliced so thinly they resembled rubber bands and the scallops the tiny bay variety. Other than a small amount of bottagra caviar sitting on top of the pasta the ingredients was dismal. Really, this could have been so much better if they just purchased clams in shell, cut the calamari into thicker slices and added a prawn on top. The pasta itself was good and had a lot of good seafood flavours, but the toppings just ruined it.

Similarly, the roast lamb ($28) had all the right flavours but the cut of lamb was so fatty and grizzly it became unpleasant. Certainly, it arrived looking delicious with a nice crust on the meat and rustic sides of roasted baby eggplant, fingerling potatoes and green beans adorning the plate. But, as soon as you cut into the lamb, you realize most of it consisted of fat and skin.  So, even though the seasoning from the rub and the creamy chili yogurt condiment was tasty, you couldn’t really enjoy it.

The mixture of coloured leather seating looks great but the dining room is used poorly.  On both occasions I sat on the side under the pergola where the tables are very closely placed. Because the Drake One Fifty places extra chairs around the banquettes it completely blocks the pathway and people have to squeeze by constantly bumping whoever is unfortunate enough to sit in the aisle. I’d highly suggest for the sake of your customers and staff, please stop stuffing people in! Those banquette tables aren’t designed for more than four people.

All in all, the Drake One Fifty’s dishes seem to be a hit or miss.  It’s weird since if I based my mark on lunch it would have been an 8 but with dinner a 5.5; we’ll average the scores for a 6.5.  But, it means you need to order carefully when you come here.  Based on what I saw others order, the burger, pizzas and sandwiches were most popular.  So, my suggestion is to stick to the simple things, at least until the food purchaser invests in some better ingredients.
Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!