Unfortunately ended up sampling the new menu at Toca last night.
Ritz, change the menu on your website! We checked before we arrived because we knew they were relaunching and wanted the old menu. That said, we were open and interested in the new menu as we like small plates.
Dips (4 options: Dips: smoked eggplant, salmon rillettes, duck pate and hummus):
Bread - ok. Doesn’t come with butter or olive oil – dips are pushed at you immediately. Eggplant dip – ok. Like eggplant dip you can buy in the fresh section of your supermarket, with more oil on it and pine nuts. Greasy. No smoked taste.
Duck pate – not really a pate - chunks of duck in lots of oil. Seasoning ok, but greasy.
Small plates (bulk of menu):
Potato tizi – waitress made a big fuss about these. Chunks of potato with tomato relish, braised veal and aioli. Flavorless.
Fondue – terrible. Consistency of whole milk, grainy, no clear cheese flavor. Reminiscent of water with a packet of Kraft Dinner white cheddar sauce mix added. Inexplicably, as it makes for a pretty bad pairing with the “fondue”, came with super greasy vegetable tempura.
Beef tartar – excellent. Along with the Brussels sprouts, the only thing any of us would eat again.
Lamb burger – grey, steamed looking lump of meat, on a crushed flabby bun, with a small amount of caramelized onions. Needed some flavor - anything - salsa, feta, chutney, ketchup, grilled bun or burger, mint, harissa. Oddly served in a bowl, which made eating difficult.
Cheese croquettes – tasty and greasy, but am not at the Ritz to eat food typically produced at Chili's. Also oversold.
Crispy vermicelli with lobster - lobster was nicely cooked. nothing crisy about the vermicelli, which were in a pool of lobstery oil with some diced red peppers. Noodles oily and short on flavor.
Wild mushrooms with poached egg - exactly what it sounds like, and something you could make at home in 5 minutes. Like everything else, floating in a bath of oil. Needs to be served with bread.
Other options not ordered: ontario mozzarella, niagara ham, arugula salad with tuna, probably a few things I'm forgetting.
Mains (maybe 6-7 options):
3 of us ordered the specials. Would have been 4 but one asked for a plain salad because the food wasn’t worth eating (we ordered after the small plates), and wanted something healthy after all the grease. Note to management – when everyone avoid your mains, you need to revise your menu.
On a list of maybe 7 mains, 3 were rib eyes – beef, pork and bison. We were all hoping for a leaner cut somewhere.
Bison rib eye – neither person liked the “chimichurri” sauce and both tried to scrape it off (both normally like it). One described it as like ground up salad. One bison so salty as to be inedible. Couldn’t get a waiter to notice us, so by the time we sent it back, we were close to the end of the course so that person just skipped the main (management - probably worth noticing that 50% of the table didn’t eat a main). Waitress eventually noticed we had been abandoned, offered free dessert. At that point we were annoyed and didn’t want to eat any more of the food, so declined.
Chicken piri-piri. White meat really overcooked– had that ¼ inch of hard outside you have to really overcook to get. Covered in char which might suit some but just looked & tasted burnt to me.
Both specials came with same excellent Brussels sprouts, though they should have different sides as a little boring for the entire table to have one side.
Throughout all courses, dishes where either really under or over salted.
Plating: triumph of form over function. Waiters struggling to keep some items on flat cutting board style items - cutlery and food kept falling onto the table. Odd choices like lamb burger in bowl. No serving utensils brought unless we asked for them. Table often overflowing, which might be fixed by better spacing or could be fixed with different plating. Dips had cute faux tin can lids.
Waitress really nice for most of evening. Abandoned midway when a larger table (of perhaps 7 people to our 4) showed up, which was unfortunate as the main course potentially could have been rescued.
She recommended 6-8 small plates, plus dips, plus mains. This is way too much food: if we had eaten the small plates, we wouldn’t have needed mains. Pushed the eggplant dip, potato tizi (sp?) and chicken, none of which were worth ordering. The comment, “I hope you all enjoyed your food” was met with silence from our table, which might have been worth following up on.
Lots of manager types around in a semi-full room, but no one stopped by to ask how our food was (potentially the meal could have been rescued earlier). One manager type actually turned his back and walked away as one member of our party was in the middle of a conversation with him.
Timing was not great. Sometimes we’d have one small plate, then 7.
None of us liked it or would recommend it to anyone. Really surprised the “nice” restaurant at the Ritz is serving glorified bar food. Needs some healthy options and to cut the fat by at least half, but even then wouldn't go back. I'm sure because it's the Ritz they'll get it together eventually, but I would wait until then.