CLOSED: Arthur's Restaurant (Toronto)

One of my pet peeves is when restaurants present a terrible table despite me having a long-standing reservation. Because of this, my first impression of Arthur’s was already soured as after placing a reservation 3-weeks prior, I wasn’t lead into the dining room, instead seated in a booth beside the bar where it was noisy and chaotic as staff members picked up drinks and entered/exited the bar. In my books, bar seating should be held for walk-ins or those who specifically request it.

To make matters worse, the table hadn’t been cleaned since the last guests vacated so water rings and small sticky spots were still visible upon seating. And despite its proximity to alcohol, there wasn’t even a wine list presented. Let’s just say Arthur’s isn’t good at making first impressions.

While both our appetizers were essentially fish spreads, in reality they tasted very different. Immediately, in catching a whiff of the smokiness from the smoked fish spread ($16.95), I was drawn to it. And if it weren’t so salty, this could have been a great dish – there were ample chunks of fish, the spread had a great consistency, and the pickled onion garnish a great compliment.

Maybe if they provided more everything bagel chips the ratio of spread to bread would have been better, rendering the dish less salty. As it stood, even after loading up the crackers we didn’t get through half the dip.

Adding other items to put the spread on would also be smart as I found the smoked fish worked better with the gem lettuce leaves that accompanied the tuna tartare ($22.95) as it helped calm down the over seasoned spread. Meanwhile, the fresh but relatively mild tartare benefited from being accompanied by the bagel chips, which were saltier and added a crunch against the soft tartare.

Having had two seafood appetizers, meats were in store for the mains. The cheeseburger ($20.95) was done medium and a nice combination of the traditional garnishes. While it’s a decent burger, the beef patty was too dense (I prefer my burgers releasing a bit of juice and fat on bite) and the bun wasn’t the freshest.

The pastrami on rye ($22.05) is so heavy that you really don’t need any of the additional condiments. The bread is dipped in butter and grilled before sandwiching hefty slices of pastrami. I can see where the chef was going with the creation – pairing crispy oily bread against the relatively lean meat. But, being so oily makes it difficult to move between sandwich and wine glass (a warm wet towel may help keep the mess at bay). Plus, the greasiness and extra calories really didn’t add to the experience of the sandwich.

Having been to so many of the other Chase Hospitality Group’s restaurants (Chase, Planta, Kasa Moto), Arthur’s was by far the worst experience. Poor hosting choices and a dirty table aside, being seated at the bar also meant service was lackluster and we had to flag down servers on their way to the bar to place orders and get our bill.

If Chase thinks having less competition Midtown means they can throw pretty paint on a dining room (but not seat everyone in it) and call themselves a restaurant, there are tons of better options even within the same building (Cava for one). The only saving grace for the evening was the great conversations and companionship at the table. Arthur’s itself didn’t impress.

Overall mark - 5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 12 St. Clair Avenue East

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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!

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