Prime on Avenue (Toronto)

Kosher steakhouses are rare in Toronto. So, when the legendary Barberian opened Prime of Avenue, a Cor certified kosher eatery, along the suburb stretch of uptown Toronto, it’s large gleaming black sign and swanky interior certainly caught my attention. Just be mindful of their operating hours: in keeping with Shabbat customs, Prime is closed on Friday and Saturday, days that are generally busy days for other restaurants.

Their page of appetizers enticed; indeed, diners can easily mix-and-match these smaller plates to make a full meal. The pulled brisket tacos ($26) are ideal if you’re in the mood for beef but in smaller portions. Two flour shells were stuffed with chunks of flavourful and tender brisket, pico de gallo, guacamole and pickled onions. Pieces of smoked potato chips, placed on a top, were an excellent addition enhancing the otherwise soft savoury tacos with some crunch.

Although the eggplant ($20) sounded like a lighter dish, the roasted eggplant was roasted with so much oil that it became so crispy you’d swear it’s deep fried. Regardless, if you don’t mind the oiliness, the starter has fantastic flavours: the creamy eggplant layered with nutty tahini, crunchy pine nuts, and sweet pomegranate. These were all roasted together so the tahini was warm and the flavours melted into the eggplant.

With such a strong start to the meal, the execution of our main, a cote de boeuf ($85), was a letdown. At first glance, the huge 22oz bone-in rib steak looked impressive, with beautiful sear marks and a nicely caramelized surface. It was also a wise decision to share the main, as the actual bone was not overly thick so we were left with a substantial portion of beef. However, upon cutting through the “medium rare” steak, it’d be better classified as a poorly done blue. While the outer ring was seared and cooked through, the centre was very rare, to the point that it was difficult to cut through and I could smell and taste the rareness. Note to Prime: the metallic taste of half-cooked beef is awful and the slightly off smell is even worse.

Rarely do I return dishes to the kitchen, but in this instance it was inedible. Steak is only good when it’s prepared correctly, so I politely asked for it to be re-fired. In about 10 minutes it was returned and nicely re-plated. At that point, it was an actual medium rare steak. Sadly, even with it cooked correctly, it wasn’t great. The steak was barely seasoned and lacked flavour. Perhaps it’s because Prime provides sauce on the side and I should have told them I wouldn’t actually be using any of it. My personal preference is to keep it simple with a nice piece of meat – salt and pepper is all you need to avoid covering up the meat’s natural flavours. It was especially disappointing since Barberian is known for their great rub. Surely, this can be shared with Prime?   

Moreover, the 28 days aged Black Angus tasted pretty young - if that's the proper way to describe aged meats – and didn’t have that depth of flavour you’d expect from the cut. While it was still good, it was nowhere close to the Barberian fame; if I closed my eyes, I’d swear I’d be eating at the Keg.

Steaks do arrive with a small portion of bone marrow, which also needed more seasoning but was thankfully cooked through. It went nicely smeared on a piece of toasted baguette that comes with their complimentary bread and pickle starter, such a staple at traditional steakhouses. In an effort to reduce food waste, Prime should consider decreasing the portion size of the platter and simply ask diners if they’d like a re-fill if it’s been picked clean.

The sides ($10 each) were good, especially the onion rings, which were nice and chunky with a lovely crispy coating. The sautéed green beans, spinach, and swiss chard with scallions puree was a great combination and cooked nicely so the vegetables retained their freshness. Our table had mixed thoughts on the French fries. Generally, they’d be better if the potatoes were cut thinner and then double fried (as they weren’t overly crispy and tasted almost baked).

While Prime on Avenue doesn't tout itself as a steakhouse, its connection to Barberian can’t stop me from judging it as one. It makes the average cote de boeuf seem worse, which is such a shame as everything else was actually very tasty. Nonetheless, the restaurant is a welcomed addition to Avenue and I’ll likely return to try their burger, salmon, or perhaps a collection of appetizers. But, the steak, no thanks.  

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1960 Avenue Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -
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!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this: