CLOSED: Wildfire Steakhouse & Wine Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 3438 Yonge Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

When my friend found a Groupon featuring a 4-course meal with wine at $175 for four people, it was deal hard to turn down. Having gone to Wildfire twice in the past (albeit about 3-5 years ago), I remember the restaurant was decent so happily agreed to join in.

Upon arriving, Wildfire looked familiar with the dark red and black colour scheme, yet appeared to be more lounge-like with the curtain of strings separating tables.  Even though we visited on a Friday night the restaurant was at most 70% full, which was surprising as in my past visits was packed. But, the unfilled capacity did ensure we had quick and attentive service the entire time.  Even though we were sat on the top floor, our waiter dutifully kept coming back frequently to check on us. In fact, a basket of airy warm bread and hummus was brought as soon as we sat down.

The first course was an appetizer platter to share amongst the table.  Ours consisted of shrimp cocktail, bruschetta and cucumbers topped with smoked salmon mousse. Served on a wooden cutting board it didn’t look overly impressive but the shrimp were decent and the bruschetta a good flavour.  Only the cucumber and salmon was a miss for me as the mousse was extremely fishy leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Under all the greenery and julienned carrots is grilled calamari; really all the garnish is a bit much when it completely masks the main ingredient. After the poorly executed salmon mousse I was a bit apprehensive about my appetizer, especially when it didn’t smell the best when first presented. Thankfully, it was actually quite decent with a nice smoky char and a flavourful tomato, caper, olive and red onion salsa.  My fellow diners agreed it was a much better choice than the escargots they ordered which arrived unseasoned and bland.

Wildfire’s portion sizes are quite impressive. On a previous visit, I remember ordering the ribs and being astounded by how much they gave and having to take half of it home.  My friend ordered the ribs and it was nice to see the sizes haven’t changed at all … if anything it may have grown! The meal consists of a full rack of ribs layered over each other (hidden beneath the pictured two slabs is a third piece) and if finished would likely give you the “meat sweats”. Alas, the quality wasn’t the same – a bit dry and lacked the plumper juicy fall-off-the-bone characteristic of the past.

My New York striploin was also another large hunk of meat, dwarfing the accompanying roasted vegetables and scoop of roasted garlic mashed potatoes. By all accounts it wasn’t horrible, but certainly lacked any qualities that would make it worth the normal $40 price point. Quite frankly, it tasted like something I’d normally make at home and I’m by no means a great cook.  And like my own barbequing, the steak was overdone and not close to the medium rare I enjoy – at best the thicker part a medium but most of it bordering on medium well.

The housemade crème brulée was perhaps the best dish of the night. I enjoyed the higher ramekin so that there was more custard and less caramel crust.  The custard was rich, creamy and had a nice vanilla essence, while the crust easily broken with a spoon. Perhaps it could have been bought out of the fridge a little earlier to allow the bottom of the custard to warm up to the perfect room temperature, but other than that an enjoyable dessert. My friend’s caramel brownie cheesecake (sorry forgot to take picture) was also a rich, dense and delicious.

Below, I’ve calculated the savings you’d get from the Groupon. Certainly, the 50% sounds impressive but has been inflated as I don’t remember Wildfire being as expensive in previous visits. Whereas in the past it competed with the Keg, it’s now priced closer to Reds, Hys or Ruth Chris … which I’m sorry to say quality wise isn’t up to par yet. Nonetheless, the service was great, atmosphere comfortable and with the deal an enjoyable dinner. Overall, I was happy with the experience, but don’t think I’ll be returning anytime soon to eat at the regular menu prices.

Is Groupon worth it?

As a special feature of the deal blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).

Groupon - $175 for 4 people = $43.75 per person (before taxes and gratuities)

Regular menu - $86.90 - hors d’oeuvres ($10*), wine pairing ($9), grilled calamari ($14.95), 10oz New York striploin ($40.95*) and crème brulée ($12)

Savings - $43 or 50%

* The hors d'oeurves and 10 oz striploin isn't on their regular menu; prices based on a wild estimate by me and the average of the 8oz and 12oz striploin mains.

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!