Wednesday, March 14, 2012

eat: f Bar (Review)

I have been eager to review f Bar, but for all the wrong reasons. I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled about spending a lot of money on dinner that particular night that I went so I wasn't terribly receptive to begin with. But after reviewing the website a few times and learning that they are owned by the same people that own Ferreira, I tried to convince myself this would be a good experience. Unfortunately my discontent with the place started literally from the moment I opened the door. Because I couldn't open the door.

The location of the restaurant combined with a heavy door, wind and a vacuum-like suction made it impossible to open, not to mention downright embarrassing to struggle with. I had to use both hands to pull while I planted my legs as firmly as I could. Not too delicate and refined for a woman dressed in a skirt, about to have a fancy dinner before a night of ballet. But the worse of it was being watched by the hostesses (girls) at the front of house. They did not move an inch as they watched me struggle. Fine, ok, I can deal but when the second inner door appeared to have the same problem and I looked at both of them squarely in the face as I pulled as hard as I could, they showed no attempt at all to help. They were less than 2 feet away and they kept watching. Which really added insult to injury when the door gave way and slammed into my foot. Hard. I let out an un-ladylike obscenity that was truly involuntary but well deserved. The tip of my boot was inverted, about the size of a golf ball right, on my left big toe. As we entered at last, they laughed and said flippantly that 'oh ha ha that door sticks all the time, it's SOOO hard to open!' which reignited my temper. I had to add 'Yes a little help from someone working at the door really would have helped with that problem!'. They stared at me with a blank expression that was a cross between pissed and a lack of understanding. (On a side note, my toenail was bent back and damaged. It hurt for a few days but I don't think I will lose the nail.)

Once we were seated at our table, it became apparent how cramped it would be. The restaurant is small, that's a given, and we had previously agreed to have a table for two with three place settings, but the waitresses repeatedly leaned over me throughout service without concern for my personal space. We were told that they'd take our coats but there was no space so they can't. Why offer at all?

When they asked us for our wine selection, my friend wanted to hear the 3 red wine choices by the glass, but after the first description she selected the first one and the server never finished describing the rest. On my turn I asked to hear the other red wine choices and the server actually looked pissed. I had to ask a second time, stating that just because my friend had selected the first one doesn't mean I wouldn't like to hear the rest. Let's just say there was a lack of enthusiasm after that. The wine was delicious but I never really got the name, and when I asked for prices (they were not written) I was brushed off with a look of disgust (how low class of me!) and a price range of 10-12 dollars.

The menu is broken down in two groups, bar dinner and f dinner. I selected my meal from the bar side because I saw "Portuguese style grilled grain fed chicken, mashed potatoes, rappini" for 21$. Do I love me some Portuguese chicken! I spent 2 weeks in Portugal and have eaten countless chicken sandwiches at Romados and Coco Rico in my day, so I was psyched. I trusted that they would do this well. You see, I had my wedding reception years ago at Ferreira and I adore their food, so I assumed it would be amazing. The presentation was gorgeous, in deep sided metal pots that just gleamed. But I was so disappointed when I took my first bite of the chicken. By all accounts it was not a bad chicken, but it was not even close to the flavour of any other Portuguese chicken I have had. It was a chicken breast with a Portuguese spiced BBQ sauce, not a slow roasted deeply flavoured chicken one comes to expect. It was fine, I did like the raisins in the mashed potato and the sharp bitterness of the rapini, but my taste buds were deceived. I did not manage to take any pictures of the meals, as it was very dark and I wasn't going to use a flash. I can say that the presentation was beautiful and my dinning companions enjoyed the "Halibut, black raisin-parsley-almond condiment, brown butter/sherry" (minus the butter due to lactose intolerance) and the "Beef short ribs, rock shrimps, "douronnaise" reduction".

We had to leave quickly (as did most of the customers) to make it to the ballet in time, and I will say that the staff had our bills prepared quickly. Leaving no time for dessert meant that I had to pass on my favourite dessert of all time, natas. I will never know if this gorgeous pillowy salivation-inducing treat was the restaurants saving grace or if it would have been the nail in the coffin.

I realize this review comes off very strongly, and I wish it wasn't my first foray into restaurant reviews because it pigeonholes me as an absolute grump. Truth is, I can think back on the experience and admit I was a grump. Too many details were frustrating and difficult, and it culminated into a bad experience that wasn't going to be fixed. I won't be going back to f Bar if it's up to me. There were not enough redeeming qualities to give it a second chance. Especially since I am still very interested in trying Brasserie T! (the little sister of Toque!) which is housed in an identical matching glass building just a few steps away from f bar. But maybe I'll let someone else get the door on the way in.

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