My wife and I have now gone to JKs new restaurant on Church Street twice once just before Christmas and again this past weekend. Our first experience was excellent, but this last visit left us very disappointed and I dont think well be returning anytime soon.
On our first visit, they were accepting reservations for dinner. So we had no problem being seated and served promptly. Service was good and the food was very good. The portions are tapas-sized and fairly priced. They wine-by-the-glass list consisted of about 4-6 each of whites and reds, with some additional sparkling wines and sweet wines. These were mostly lower-end wines, but some interesting choices which pleasantly surprised us. The main wine list listed some excellent older vintage stuff which we thought wed have to come back to explore. Overall, we had a great time, a great meal, and discovered some decent new wines.
This brought us eagerly back to JK in late-January. They no longer take reservations its first come, first served. We show up just after 6pm on Saturday and the place is packed (as expected, I suppose). After a 10-15 min wait at the entrance, we are told by the first person who has the time to speak to us that it is an hour wait. We leave our names (how is this different than taking reservations?) and head over to the Jersey Giant for a beer. Already I am annoyed by their no-reservation policy. We return an hour later and, to their credit, we are promptly seated. However, we could see many very upset people at the entrance. Given how popular this place is, they really should start taking reservations again. It seems quite cruel to kick people back out into these cold Toronto nights and ask them to come back an hour later. In any case, we were now seated. To summarize the rest of the evening, the service was atrocious. However, in fairness, I think this was almost entirely the fault of a particularly inattentive waiter. It took a long time before we could place our orders and then, once we did, it took an equally long time for the food and wine to arrive. In fact, our first dishes had arrived and were nearly finished before our wine showed up. Which brings another point, that Estufarian has already brought up on this board: their once excellent wine list is decimated. If you ask for any older vintage wine, chances are pretty good it no longer exists (but this is not mentioned on the list itself). It got very frustrating after a while, so we just settled for some wines by the glass. The food was at about the same quality as the first visit, but everything else about this visit left us with a disappointed feeling about the whole experience. We didnt even stay for dessert we just wanted to get home. One other thing that may or may not be relevant: JK himself was present in the kitchen on the first visit, but not the second.
I was quite saddened about this last experience, because I was looking forward to many more regular visits to JK. Perhaps it is better on a weekday, but I am not willing to risk the time and money to find out any time soon. Id like to hear other peoples recent experiences to know if this was an off-chance encounter or whether things are already deteriorating at this place.