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Fearful's Trip report

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Fearful's Trip report

I apologise for the delay in writing this promised trip report. We enjoyed another great trip in Toronto. The purpose was business and to visit my young adult daughter who was doing a 7 week rotation at Toronto Sick Kids. I’ve posted reviews of the high and low lights of the trip.

We stayed at the Royal York for 3 nights. We’ve been guests of many other hotels in the chain and were disappointed in this one. The room was very small, dated, and not well maintained. Concierge service was uneven and not particularly knowledgeable.

We dined at a number of restaurants including Adega, Canoe, Globe, York’s Kitchen (the Fairmont’s breakfast room), Nota Bene, Michele’s, Pizzeria Libretto, as well as made an attempt to have brunch at Conviction Kitchen.

I’ve posted all my reviews except for Yorks’ which I’ve reviewed here (no entry on TA) and Michele’s, for which I had previously posted a review some years ago. We went to the latter after leaving a disastrous brunch at Conviction Kitchen and not having a brunch reservation elsewhere. Although the food at Michele’s was good, the service was painfully slow and the restaurant was so cold one could have hung meat safely. As for the former, we ate breakfast here compliments of the hotel after some problems with concierge service. The hotel dining room, Epic, unfortunately is not open on weekends. The room is located underground in the lower levels of the hotel and is devoid of natural light. On the day we were there, it was extremely busy, had a frenetic feel, and most resembled a low end cafeteria. Food was, for the most part, predictable. The omelette station was filthy. Pastries were quite good. This place is not up to “Fairmont standards.” Give it a miss.

We took in a performance of Jersey Boys, which we found amateurish and finally saw Casa Loma. To call the latter a museum is laughable; it’s an event centre and a shabby one at that. We were upset to see this beautiful property treated so poorly.

Thank you once again for all your help. We look forward to our next visit. Next off to Ixtapa, Boston, and Montreal. Lucky me!

1. Re: Fearful's Trip report

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Removed on: 26 December 2009, 19:35
Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Fearful's Trip report

I'm sorry to hear about Jersey Boys; others have said they greatly enjoyed it, so maybe it was an off night.

Casa Loma is a bit of an odd duck. It doesn't measure up to the standards of either European castles (not nearly old enough) or truly opulent North American eccentric homes (Hearst Castle in California being a far better example of that). But it is an interesting building by a noted Toronto architect (EJ Lennox, best known for Old City Hall) with quite a story behind it. I went a few years back and was pleasantly surprised, but I can see how you'd be disappointed if you were expecting much more. The management of the castle -- by the Kiwanis Club, which is unusual since it's owned by the city -- caused a minor controversy at City Hall a year or two back.

Caledon, Canada
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3. Re: Fearful's Trip report

Looks like you had a miserable time in Toronto.

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4. Re: Fearful's Trip report

Always enjoy your restaurant reviews and trip reports, Fearful! (For some reason, TA has made restaurant reviews harder to find - I had to go to each individual restaurant's listing, instead of accessing them through the user profile as in the past.) Glad to see you had some good meals. Will have to check out Adega - your rave is the final push I've needed.

And I'm not at all surprised you hated Casa Loma. I've never understood the tourists' obsession with it - it's really just a Victorian monster house, poorly managed by its current caretakers.

Come back and visit us again soon. And I look forward to your report from my second home, Montreal.

Canada Eh
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5. Re: Fearful's Trip report

thanks for the review...:)

I've heard mixed reviews about jersey boys....my MIL in her 70's went to a matinee and said it was great, another lady i know in her mid 30's went on a tuesday night and said it wasn't that good....

Casa Loma has lost its charm it had in the 70's....your right its more of a event place now....my father grew up right around the corner and i remember driving by it at christmas time..the grounds were all lit up, but i don't recall them doing the workshops that they do now.....its all about making money these days...:(

not about history

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Fearful's Trip report

Hi Fearful,

I hear you on the Casa Loma aspect... today this grand old dame is indeed primarily used as an "event arena" be it for Weddings, Movie Sets or Advertising (seems to be a favourite backdrop for Danier Leather photo-shoots).

It is difficult to "see past" all that, and to understand why this building (and it's occupants) were so important to Toronto life in the first place... a "hint" of that appears in the historical exhibits (but without much explanation).

For example, Lady Mary Pellatt was the first Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada (a role equal to that of Juliette Gordon Low of Savannah GA, who's home is also open to the public) the Girl Guide Exhibit appears on the 2nd Floor next to Lady Pellatt's Bedroom.

Meanwhile Sir Henry Pellatt was a member of the Queen's Own Rifles Regiment of Canada... and their OFFICIAL Regimental Museum is on the 3rd Floor of Casa Loma.

Additionally, Sir Henry is credited with being primarily responsible for bringing electricity to the City of Toronto... something that made him a very wealthy and influencial man (which accounts for the fact that they were at the centre of Toronto Society... and could build and live in such a house in the first place)... seems that on my last visit all of this info was poorly presented to the Visitor, and most folks thought it was nothing more than just "a nice house".

Oh well... c'est la vie... as TRACEYLYNNE stated, looks like History is going out of fashion these days.

For more info on Casa Loma and it's interesting occupants see their Wikipedia entries:






Edited: 27 December 2009, 11:24
Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: Fearful's Trip report

Thanks so much for your honest review! As I'm sure you know, no place is all good or all bad, so I think it's good balance to have some negative things said about Toronto. If it was perfect, there would be no reason for us locals to travel :-)

That said, IMHO, what I see here is a trip to a chain hotel, some rather touristy spots and a small selection of higher end restaurants.

Chain hotels are really meant to be standard and predictable, but from all the reviews I've been reading on here of late, the standards at most if not all are slipping, while the prices are not. Best look for something unique or privately owned if you want an above average experience.

As for Casa Loma and it's ilk, I've always maintained that Toronto's museums are pretty sub par. They still have to catch up with the rest of the city in terms of being on a grand scale. So far, the buildings have been updated, lets hope the collections follow suit.

Make a point to try some lower end to mid range restaurants on your next visit. I've found on many an occasion that our higher end restos are just as hit and miss as the cheaper ones. That said, if you're spending that much more cash, you SHOULD expect a much higher standard and that's definitely not guaranteed in this city at least.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation!

Charlotte, NC
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8. Re: Fearful's Trip report

Casa Loma is like Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC. You either love it (especially if you have never been to castles & chateaux in Europe, or hate it; still, it is a good place to visit - to make a comparison.

As far as posting reviews for unusual restaurants and/or hotels which I have done in the past, you just need the address, the name, possibly URL;

TA then searches it and in a few days they will send you a message (ready to review). It worked every time ...

I am sorry you had such a bad time; perhaps the next time might be better. As far as the choice of hotels; I too prefer Gladstone or Sutton Place to Royal York; but I seldom use concierge services; these days with internet, it's becoming a bit unnecessary...Jersey Boys - different people have different tastes...

Do a lot more planning for Montreal & Boston, the next time; so you will not be disappointed.

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9. Re: Fearful's Trip report


Yoursuggestion that my failure to plan is responsible for my disappointment is quite interesting.

I have been to Toronto so many times, I've lost count and Iknow the city well. In advance of trips to most cities , I visit the TA forums and speak to knowledgable persons like estragon, someone who is most familiar with the Canadian and American food scenes . I also consult other sources.

I note that you are relatively new to the TA site and its forums so may not have seen me here in the past.

I also have been to Europe and been to many of its great castles. However, I was not comparing a 20th century manse with a European castle. I was talking about Casa Loma as a museum. My complaint with Casa Loma was not with the building itself but the management and maintenance of the castle and the curating of exhibits. This beautiful building has been mistreated.

Finally, as for Jersey Boys: Again my complaint was not with the play but with the production. I am very very familair with the performing arts scene in Canada. Significantly, my daughter performed with one of the cast members in another production. One can like the play but not the particular production.


I'd certainly classify Pizzeria Libretto and Michele's as mid to low range restaurants- definitely not high end.

Charlotte, NC
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10. Re: Fearful's Trip report

Sorry, I didn't mean it like that; perhaps you just had a bad luck; the planning part - I always ask what would make my trip a fun trip & go from there.

Ok, I may be relatively new to TA but definitely not to travel; having lived in several countries & travelled on business for hotel groups, international events, etc. I also write travel articles & contribute to other forums. Anyway, I do not like to talk about myself; just tried to see that you'll have a better time in the other cities. BTW both Casa Loma & Biltmore Estate are not my favorites; still other people love it....Here, in Charlotte, you just cannot mention that Biltmore Estate is not your cup of tea..Lol...