Restaurant Review: All that glitters ain’t gold at RH Courtyard Cafe


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The eatery initially calls to mind a Venetian courtyard

Image: RH Toronto

Imagine being a lifestyle curator — showing people precisely which furniture and tchotchkes to have and where to put them. Oh, and selling them all the right stuff.… What would you do next?

Open a much bigger store, of course, and put a restaurant in it, so tired shoppers can sit down and refuel. Yes, it’s RH Yorkdale. Used to be Restoration Hardware, but they closed those stores and rebranded as RH, opening the big glam box in Yorkdale in late fall.

The store of course is gorgeous: 70,000 square feet of beauty on four floors. I walk by the couches, the fab chandeliers,  marble and glass coffee tables, the tall armoires, the statuary. I picture myself reclining with a very sophisticated cocktail. Like a movie star. Perhaps a soupçon of caviar. Yah, sure. 

But anybody can go to the restaurant. You don’t need the price of an RH sectional. RH first opened a restaurant in its Chicago store, and it’s going like gangbusters. The Toronto resto has a similarly glamorous look. But there is soon trouble in paradise. At first glance I find it gorgeous, reminiscent of a Venetian courtyard garden thanks to its interior wall mimicking a four-storey apartment with black iron balconies. And the marble tables and the sparkle from many crystal chandeliers. 

But the oodles of ivy on the walls and the trees are artificial, and I am looking out on a blank white wall across a hallway. Our happy server says that’s going to be RH kids and babies in about six months.

Hurrah.

More lifestyle. Till then, ugly. 

Rather like the food.

Truffled grilled cheese sandwich is good but nothing special. The cheese doesn’t have that borderline erotic molten just-pulled-off-the flattop mouth feel. And $23 feels a little steep for burrata with olive oil and cherry tomatoes, however lovely. And the $31 lobster roll? Meh. I adore lobster rolls. A generous pile of lobster stuffed into a warm toasted buttered white roll is irresistible. This one not so much. Barely toasted, barely buttery, insufficient lobster, slightly overcooked. The fries, on the other hand, were undercooked, pale coloured and not crisp.

And the service was appalling. We were never offered water. Three waiters chatted at the nearby waiters station while dirty dishes sat a while on our table. When they did finally clear, our server stacked the dishes.

Which my mother told me one doesn’t do. Not in a restaurant anyway. I was paying and dining with a man. She handed him the cool iPad mini to pay and ignored him — twice — when he said I was paying.

Perhaps they should stick to sofas.

RH Courtyard Cafe, RH Toronto, 3401 Dufferin St., 416-322-9422 

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Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Cuisine in Paris. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chatelaine. Follow her on Twitter @JoanneKates.

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