Having browsed through lotsa posts on this board through the past couple of years, one thing that strikes me again and again is the lack of consistency of many Toronto restaurants. One chowhound loves a place, another hates it just as much. An example: someone on this board raved about a middle eastern joint in east Toronto a while back. So I thought I'd give it a workout. My opinion, even though I tried the dishes he recommended: it's a dud. Now I doubt that that hound was wong. Given many of his postings, he seems to know his stuff. I suspect the trouble was that many places can't deliver the goods day in and day out. They're inconsistent. And when dinner for two, with wine, ranges from $100 to $200 nowadays, we can't afford inconsistency.
So let me ask you all: which places do you nominate as being consistently consistent? By which I mean, which joints have you been to - at least half a dozen times over the last year or so - that delivers an enjoyable experience within its price range in terms of good food, service and atmosphere? It should be a place where you've tried a lot of menu items (not just the same old dishes every time out) and the place invariably delivers, sometimes above all expectations. And even when it doesn't deliver - restaurants being an intensely human endeavor, after all - it only dips a little, and can be counted on to bounce back to a high level next time out. From your nominations, let's leave out two restaurant categories: very high end joints like Susur and/or Splendido. At their prices, they damn well better be consistent. And the major chains: they're consistent, all right, but consistently mediocre - as we expect them to be. No harm there.
I'm referring instead to the vast majority of joints between the very high and very low end. Places that have been around awhile and continue to operate at a consistently high level, despite staff turnover, menu changes, and only occasional light inconsistencies. And I'll start us off with one spot I've found to be consistent since I started going there years ago: Ferro, a mid-echelon Italian joint on St. Clair Ave., west of Christie. I've been up and down the menu and haven't found a flaw. Starters, soups and salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas, main dishes, all are tasty and satisfying. The greeting is prompt, the service charming, the decor entertaining, the atmosphere upbeat. I try to get there at least once every couple of months and I'm rarely disappointed. The wine list is modestly priced. Even the house wines - which most joints put the highest markup on - are decently priced and eminently drinkable. It's a winner.
Now, what are your winners?