Thursday, May 5, 2011

Restaurant Review: Simply Mexican

A new Mexican restaurant has opened up near St. Clair and Yonge in a stretch that is a littered restaurant graveyard.  The only restaurants that seem to do well are Italian and there are plenty of those. Simply Mexican is the first Mexican restaurant in the area in over eleven years.  It is located next to Boccone's where two different Indian restaurants tried their luck.

Unfortunately, we were the first customers.  All restaurants need to have soft openings to iron out the kinks and allow the servers to understand and taste the food.  Maybe that sounds a little too Food Network talk but this place showed why.

We arrived at 11:45am, after the posted opening time of 11:30 but the door was still locked.  One of the staff saw us and unlocked the door where we were greeted by all the staff and the pungent cleaner lemon scent and a toolbox.  Some finishing touches such as door hinges were being completed.

I am not in the business of restaurant reviews but more in the "IMHO" business so I feel that I need to be a little more generous when reviewing a just-open restaurant (sound likes a poem there) with all its glorious gaffs and pratfalls.  One of the reasons to go early is to experience a restaurant at its most pressured.  So, a quick rundown of service errors: mixed up plates, multiple sorries for slowness of food, incorrect orders, lost cheque and incorrect billing.  Kitchen errors: two of the same order came out looking different, food was not warm enough and all the table did not come out at the same time -- see service errors.  Front of House errors: no comps for the mixups, no comps for the slow service, no coming to the table to help out our waitress when the cheque was not found.  In spite of this, I think this place should be given another try due to the food.
The menu is not of the TexMex variety but just as advertised.  There is a good selection of salads and mains including Chilaquiles, Sopes, and Pibil.  I tasted the homemade Horchata (almond drink), Ensalata Nopales (Cactus Salad), Sopes (Cochinita Pibil and chicken), and a bit of beans and chips from other plates.

The Cactus Salad was served well seasoned with the requisite slice of lime to add acid to the cactus.  Cactus, if not given some acid, is like barely flavoured thick gelatine but when acid such as lime or lemon is added, it flashes a more nuanced and delicate flavour like aloe.  All the food was well seasoned and the pulled meats had a good meatiness that lets you know it was done well.  The chicken was a little dry in texture and sauce and may point out a cooking error as slow and low cooking do not dry out food easily.  The food tended to be warm rather than hot even though we should have been the first fired beating all next comers by about ten minutes.

Aside from these minimal gripes on food, there was this odd tendency to put sliced lettuce with this white cream sauce that is supposed to be a celery mayonnaise on every dish.  The dishes are special enough that they do not require this, especially due to the lack of celery taste.  It would be like asking every fourteen year old girl to put on makeup, jewelery and a pretty dress but all the same makeup, jewelery and dress.

I can't recommend this place as of yet but there is huge upside.  I just wish they had run a few more soft openings to iron out those kinks that caused my dining companions to dislike the food.  Sometimes, all that jewelery and stuff makes you forget what it really there.


  1. We ate there today and it was terrible. It is not that Mexican in the artisanal sense of traditional Mexican cuisine. Our office was excited with the opening of a new place as it would have added to the possibilities for the lunch time crew in the area. The prices do not reflect the quality nor quantity provided. We all agreed that we will not be back.

  2. I came by on monday the 5th as well to grab some lunch cause i work in the area and the place was closed. a person however did tell me they would open for dinner. so here are two issues. the person from the top who ate a t a closed place and also the inconsistency of a place that serves lunch and is often closed...
    too bad for both cases

  3. This place seems to be going through some troubles. In the last few months, the hours have been erratic. There was a notice on the door for non payment of rent, if my recollection is correct and then within days, it was removed and the place was open for business. You can see where I removed my comment above where I mistakenly believed the restaurant was deadpool.

    Also, the new management sign is back up so... I'll keep this updated until a final say has been given but it doesn't look good.

  4. For last two weeks, there has been a for rent sign in the window. It looks as if this restaurant will be deadpool shortly.