Eating is one of the simplest pleasures we can experience on a daily basis. I'm always looking forward to try new places in our culturally rich diverse city, trying to find the next chowhound spot. Once we get accustomed to well prepared food, it is interesting how much we take for granted, especially when we encounter a restaurant that is truly awful.
I read the review on this board about River on Roncesvales re-opening. See [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]
Since we are always in the area, last night my SO and I decided to give it a try.
The remodelling of the restaurant created a nice, modern ambience, with rich dark hardwood floors throughout, comfortable sitting area at the entrance beside the long bar, and two eating areas, a smaller one at the front and a larger one at the back, with the kitchen in the middle separating them.
My SO started with squash soup with roasted garlic. When the plate was brought to the table, the presentation was very sloopy, the soup was carelessly served on the bow, having splattered all over the plate underneath it as well. The consistency was thick, almost chunky, instead of a smooth or crwamy texture. It tasted ok. Two easy improvements the kitchen could do: first, forget about the rosemary leaves in the soup, the flavour did not go quite well with the squash; second, it lacked nutmeg.
I decided to start with seared scallops. Presentation again was absent. The scallops and accompaning leek/potato mixture were slooply thrown onto the plate. Presentation aide, the scallops themselves did little to improve the dish. They were overcooked all the way through, becoming chewy. The leek/potato mixture in which the scallops were cooked in had some acidic sauce that unfortunately failed to make the dish interesting, amid all the grease in which it was prepared.
River would have to deliver a fantastic main course to compensate for such weak start. That never hapenned.
My SO had the stuffed chicken main course. It was served atop green beans over garlic mashed potatoes on a place that was covered with a thick sauce. The chicken was deep fried and was burnt on one side. Once you passed the burnt layer outside, the meat inside was white and tender, although soaked in oil. The mashed potatoes had the same consistency as the squash soup, chunky instead of smooth. The best part of the dish were the cooked green beans.
I had the salmon main course. The half salmon steak was served atop spinach and some sort of veggie pancakes on a plate that was covered with a thick sauce that remainded me of tartar sauce; everything was sprinkled with deep fried veggie (sweet potato maybe?). Believe it or not, the half salmon steak had been deep fried! It was hardf and had no flavour. I'm not sure how they prepared the spinach, but it had a funny oily taste, and I could not eat it. I barely touched the plate and the waitress clearly noticed it when she took our plates away. My SO also left most of the food on his plate.
The restaurant looks nice, the waitress was very nice and polite. Unfortunately the kitchen failed to deliver. It actually failed miserably. Maybe they do prepare good brunch dishes and appetizer blocks, as indicated by TO Girl, but they obviously need to rethink the rest of their menu. Just because you stack food like it is done in fancy restaurants does not make bad food taste good. It might sound harsh, but it is the truth.
Dinner for two including two non-alcoholic drinks, two appetizers and two main courses, with tax and tip came to $70.00.