Mideastro: One Of The Most “Interesting” Dining Experiences Of My Life
Imagine this: you meet the girl or guy of your dreams and everything is going well until you discover one trait about them that you just can’t get over. This basically sums up my dining experience at Mideastro.
Before I get started with my review about Mideastro, you are probably wondering why you are on th3hungrycat.ca and are seeing a blog post by someone other than Yvonne. Well, here is how this went down… Last Friday I was checking in on Twitter to see what was going on and noticed this tweet by Yvonne:
“Anybody want free brunch for 2 on Mother’s Day @Mideastro? First to respond wins.”
Being a connoisseur of free things (I run a blog called CheapDude.com *shameless plug*) and knowing that I still was yet to make plans with my own mother for Mother’s Day, I decided to jump (aka tweet) at the opportunity! Amazingly I was the first to reply, so within minutes Yvonne hooked up the Mother’s Day Brunch (that she had won from Hailo Toronto andView the Vibe).
About an hour before I’m about to pick up my mom on Mother’s Day she says to me, “Is this place Middle Eastern, because I don’t like Middle Eastern food?” Not knowing anything about the restaurant other than the name (which clearly points to a Middle Eastern tie) I quickly Google them and see that their website states they are an “Italian fusion restaurant.” Knowing this probably meant fused with Middle Eastern, I emphasize the Italian part to mom (as I know it is too late to cancel the reservation anyway) and head over to pick her up.
From the outside, it is hard to know what to expect of Mideastro. Their summer patio already set up looks very nice, as does the building, so I figure it is probably an upscale fast casual kind of eatery. After opening the door and menus (which light up by the way – real cool feature), the prices indicate that it definitely leans towards upscale (it is after all, located in Yorkville). The room itself is beautifully designed though there does seem to be an excessive amount of open space. Back to the menu, my mom starts to notice a lot of Middle Eastern dishes and no brunch options (which I promised based on Yvonne’s tweet) so I am already starting to get worried she is going to hate this meal! Then comes our waiter, a very eccentric individual, who I offer the meal voucher, to which he loudly exclaims, “Looks like you have a free meal at Mideastro!”
Some more awkwardness passes between the waiter and our table, but we manage to get our order in. He does inform us that they have some brunch options but doesn’t have anything on paper for us to see. Though, to be honest, when given the choice between steak, lamb or eggs – the steak and lamb will win every time so we order off the regular dinner menu. Did we just invent BRUNNER?
I decide to start with the Caprese Alba ($15 – cherry tomatoes, purple calamari, scallops, Burrata, arugula, purple basil sprouts and Jerusalem artichoke crisps) and select the Lamb Duet ($34 – chops, lamb sirloin, honey-date pecan crust, roasted Jerusalem artichoke mash, caramelized baby beets, purple heirloom carrots and pomegranate molasses) as my main.
Typically I am not a huge fan of seafood first thing in the morning, but I am a sucker for a good Caprese salad! A few bites in and I am in food heaven! Everything on the plate is delicious and somehow all works so well together! The Burrata is creamy and pairs amazingly with the nice ripe tomatoes. My mom also loves her Isreali salad and after stealing a bite, I am in love too! Everything tastes so fresh and the dressing is nicely balanced. Our waiter checks in to see how things are going and provides a bit more awkwardness with his over-the-top laughter when we tell him everything is great.
My lamb dish is excellent with a nice Middle Eastern flair to it. The dish has nice combinations of sweet and savoury all over and is jam packed with amazing flavours! My mom seems to love her steak so I swap her some lamb to give it a try. This is where the magic happens, this steak is phenomenal! The balsamic‑chestnut jus goes so well with the nice cut of beef it easily becomes one of my favourite steaks ever! The honey mushrooms are also something not to be missed on the plate. We both decide that this was a very good meal and are glad we got to try this place out.
My mom opts for the Israeli Salad ($11 – Macedonian feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, radish, red onions and zatar) to start and the 7 oz. Beef Tenderloin ($36 – grass fed triple A beef, roasted cauliflower mash, caramelized purple onions, heirloom carrots, baby fennel, honey mushrooms and balsamic chestnut au jus) for her main. I decide to wash it down with a Mimosa to start, and mom has a glass of sparkling.
After a bit of a wait (not a problem as we were in no hurry but might be annoying if you had other plans) our appetizers arrive at the table. Both dishes are complete works of art which probably explains why they take a bit longer than some other restaurants.
Again there is a bit of a wait for the mains, but the appetizer portions were so perfect that we are still in no rush. Somewhere during this wait our drinks go empty but I am still deciding if I would like to get a glass of wine or something else so am not all that concerned.
About 30-45 minutes after our appetizers are finished our waiter drops the mains off. This is where it starts to get weird, as it seems like he can’t get away from our table fast enough. I understand we are those dreaded coupon/voucher users (I honestly hate Groupons for this reason) but that is all the more reason to up‑sell on drinks, something that is not included with the offer. Regardless, our meals look incredible so we shrug it off and don’t get too concerned about the drinks as their special filtered water (that we learned about at the start of the meal) seems to be doing the job. After all, I am still feeling the effects of an Izakaya meetup from the night before so don’t really need any more booze and water is perfect.
After some delay to clear our plates, and a further delay to check in to see how things are going, our waiter finally comes around with the dessert menus. Again, these are dropped off quickly with no other questions asked.
When he does return to take our order, he asks my mom first, who goes for the Bounty and Snickers Duo ($11 – coconut macaroon, rich chocolate mousse, dark chocolate glaze and a shortbread cookie, with caramelized mascarpone, sugared peanuts, and chocolate glaze) and before even giving me a chance to order, disappears. No big deal, I wasn’t sure if I had room for desert anyway but was thinking about getting a cup of tea. He comes back to drop off my mom’s dessert and she hints by saying aloud to me, “Do you want any coffee or anything?” which he completely ignores and disappears. At this point I figure I will just stick with the waters and avoid giving him any more money than I need to.
The dessert was my least favourite part of the meal. It tasted nothing like a Bounty or Snickers, and the chocolate tasted like the low quality, high-sugar variety. Regardless, this didn’t make an impact on what we thought of the food overall.
After the dessert had been cleared, the waiter finally came around and asked if he could get us anything else, so we just went for the bill. I had a real struggle when it came to tipping as I always believe you should tip on a free meal based on what it would have cost, but when you get no service this still makes it difficult. Regardless I left $50 for our bill of $24 for the two glasses of sparkling.
So, this is now the point where I am really struggling. If I had gone to the restaurant and paid fully those prices and had that level of service I would have been appalled. Being a free meal, it is a little tougher to be so critical but I feel all customers should be treated equally. Since I am there for a free meal, this is their opportunity to win my business back at a future date where I will be paying and I don’t think our waiter did it. I would really love to go eat their food again, but only on the condition that I know I will not be in the same waiter’s section. We even joked about it saying we could go eat at the bar to ensure we weren’t in their section. To me this is very unfortunate for the restaurant, as they have so many great things going for them! The chef clearly is a master at his trade but I don’t think his staff is giving him the support he deserves.
With that said, if you are very easy going and love great food with interesting flavours, then Mideastro is for you. If you are somewhat picky when it comes to service, then proceed with caution because the type of service we had would be enough to ruin the meal. Maybe it was just an off-day for the server, but he seemed to be doing way too many things wrong to assume this was just a bad day and he clearly was giving more attention to other tables in the restaurant.
Oh, and turns out mom doesn’t mind Middle Eastern food after all!