Bannock ★★★

Price: $15-25+

Wanted to try something new and thought this would be a good chance to check out  another Oliver & Bonacini restaurant (huge fan and making it a point to eventually visit all O&B restos). Bannock’s located next to the Bay store on Queen, with it split into a dining area and a café/grab and go area. The interior has a lot of wooden furnishings and seating here is a little cramped (unless you are with a big group and have a table in the center or back of the dining area).

On the day I dined here, the weather was pretty brisk and cold out…you know typical Toronto weather. I had walked up from Union to Queen and Bay..breaking in my 3.5 inch heels no less. Safe to say, I was freezing and ready to sit down to escape from the cold and pain in my feet. Haha. Now, my first impressions of Bannock while walking in is it’s another “business-casual” restaurant. It was pretty empty when I came (4:30pm) and all I saw were a few workers doing paperwork while eating. There was even one table where a woman had a laptop and just spread her papers everywhere. However, by the time I left (6:30pm) it got considerably more busy and louder. So if it’s some quiet time your after, come before 6pm and if you’re into a more after hours vibe, 6pm and later is the most opportune time.

Anyway, I digress. I was in the mood for a hot dish and debating between the chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes ($16), the peppered flatiron steak with duck fat potatoes ($23) or their burger ($16) — which looked big by the way. I saw someone order it on the table next to me. Decided to go with the chicken pot pie though, it just beckoned to me. Turns out this was a great choice on my part, I LOVED IT! It was foodie-licious with its peas, chicken slices, sauce, etc. The side of creamy smashed potatoes and gravy was a nice addition as well. Well worth my $16 bucks. As for my friend, they had the noodle of the day ($14) and claimed it was good too. Didn’t get a chance to sample it so can’t really comment. We both also ordered the same drinks, the HBC cocktail with peach schnapps ($9), predicting it would be sweet and fruity. It was and tasted nice enough but I am not sure its worth the $9 price tag it has. Kind of expensive for just a nice enough cocktail.

Onto the restaurant service, the servers were suitably polite and attentive. Sometimes a bit too attentive I think, as my server came over to our table so many times I eventually felt rushed to leave. Over the course of our meal, I think our server came to our table over 10 times! My rough count: 2 times to ask for our order, 4 to ask and get our drink orders, 2 to place and get our plates, 2 to ask if we can pay and bring out our checks and finally 2 to ask us if we wanted anything else. Don’t get me wrong, its great they are attentive but my friend and I were trying to catch up and got interrupted too many times for my taste.

Dress code: Business casual. Good for lunch/dinner with friends, coworkers and your boss. Probably not for large families with children though.

Website: http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Bannock.aspx
Location: 401 Bay St., Toronto, M5H 2Y4
Telephone: (416) 861 – 6996
Hours: Monday to Friday: 11:30am – 10:00pm, Saturday: 11:00am – 10:00pm and Sunday: 11:00am – 4:00pm
Cafe Hours: Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 8:00pm, Saturday: 9:00am – 8:00pm and Sunday: 9:00am – 4:00pm

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Barberians Steakhouse ★★★★

Price: 50+

Went here with a friend awhile back for lunch. It is pricey, but was it worth it? YES! We both got the 16 oz. Rib Steak that they are apparently famous for – recommended to me by the waiter. I had mine with mashed potatoes while my friend had onion rings (they are huge).

I thought the service was very good but it might have been because we went so early (there was no one there at the time) but I liked that we had the waiter’s undivided attention and received such fast service. I was actually worried at first since the whole floor was empty but it was all for naught as I enjoyed my perfectly cooked medium-rare steak. Haha

Note: The washrooms are tiny and the restaurant itself is very traditional in design. Great for family dinners, dates and corporate dinners.

Website: http://www.barberians.com/
Location: 7 Elm Street, Toronto M5G 1H1
Telephone: (416) 597-0335
Hours: Monday to Friday – 12 to 2:30pm and 5pm to 12am, Saturday and Sunday – 4:30pm to 12am

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