After wanting to try Meritage on the Danforth for several months, especially after reading such encouraging reviews from fellow chowhounders, my SO & I and another couple went there last night.
Mike, the owner recoginized the name of my friend who made the reservation. I had called Mike the day before to get him to fax a menu to my friend (they don't have a website). My friend being a very picky eater and not trusting my previous restaurant choices(previous selections included 93 harbourd and lalot -did i mention he's a little unadventurous) he wanted to make sure the menu was to his liking....We had very high hopes after entering to a warm, friendly atmosphere where were greeted promptly and shown to a nice table towards the back of the room. The tables are a comfortable distance apart making conversation pleasurable and easy. We were also excited to find other friends of ours unexpectedly dining there as well. We think that they perhaps had a better dining experience than us (more on this later)
The menu has a great selection of items from small plates to large plates at a variety of prices. 3 of us started out with fancy martinis. I had the mango which was waayyyyy too sweet (i specifically told the waiter i didn't want it too sweet)...the best of them was the sour raspberry..they weren't that large and at $9.00 plus tax they were expensive.
The bread served at the table is very good. It's crisped up in the oven with rosmary, salt and served with looked like a balsamic glaze drizzled on the plate.
For starters we got the asparagus salad (delicious, lemony with almond slices), mussels & frites (large bowl, great broth, delicious heaping bowl of frites), scallops -these were cooked well, served with mixed baby greens but the scallops were sliced horizontally so i figure you get 1-1 1/2 scallops in the dish (priced at $12), and the cold duck rolls - these were the most disappointing appetizer...there was very little duck and the sauce that was served with them we expected to be (and should have been)sweet but turned out to be very, very salty -almost like plain old soy sauce...
For our main courses my SO and my (picky) friend were sooo anticipating the ($20) kobe beef burger....well, talk about disappointing...it was well, just blah, not bad, just boring and blah...both of them said they could have gotten a better burger at licks....the smoked cheese was overpowing and there was no hint at all of the promised carmelized onions and pancetta. also, the bun was double the size of the burger....we explained to the waiter, who later explained to the owner our disappointment-we were extremely polite and indicated that the burgers were not "bad" just kinda boring and plain and disappointing....the owner came over and we explained the situation again and he just sort of mumbled something, shrugged his shoulders and just walked away.....hmmmmm....my main course was described on the menu as tiger shrimp with lemon risotto....well i'm not a huge risotto eater and was surprised when my 'risotto dish' arrived with three small shrimp....i didn't complain about this but no one questioned me as to why most of the risotto was left on my plate....the 3 small shrimp were cooked well and tasted good....my other friend had the 'surf &turf' a 6oz steak and 2 tiger shrimp (these actually were large, tiger shrimp)...she loved it..thought it was delicious and was raving about the green onion mashed potatoes...
we opted not to have dessert so we asked for our bill....up until this point, i would have returned to meritage because i liked the atmosphere, i liked the service and overall, i like the food (the only MAJOR miss was the burger)....so, i had perhaps expected to be offered a complimentary dessert, cocktail or even a coffee because of our issue with the burgers...we weren't. so needless to say were all quite shocked to find that nothing had been comped on our bill...we were charged for BOTH burgers!......it gets worse...as we were leaving and saying goodbye to our other friends at the restaurant they told how they were so pleasantly surprised that a bottle of wine was brought over to their table(comped) because the staff thought they had waited too long for their main courses....they hadn't even complained....so, i'm not sure what happened with our table. does it matter that we were a table of well dressed, well mannered 30 and 40 somethings who dine out A LOT.....It's so unfortunate that we've been left with such a bad taste in our mouths....I don't think any of us will be returning to Meritage any time soon.
Sorry, for the long review - just had to get some of this off my chest :o)