I remember the very first time I went to a Summerlicious/Winterlicious restaurant when I was still a university student and combing through the menus to find the restaurants that offered prix fixe menus at the lowest end of the price ranges — either $15 for lunch or $25 for dinner. I was on a student budget and didn’t want to spend that much money on food. Plus, a $15 three-course lunch at a supposedly fine dining restaurant can be really worth it if you go to the right ones!
Fast forward a few years and now that I’ve graduated and dipped my toes into the working world, I’ve been getting less choosy with the price range and more choosy on restaurants based on, “Oh, I’ve never tried this place out. I want to try it!” or “Oh, that place is really popular and so-so said their food is amazing”. I think fast forward a few more years down the road, I might actually look at my younger self and shake my head at the amount of money I’m spending on food. In any case! Here is my review of the super expensive restaurant that is situated in the downtown core of Toronto’s financial district that was totally NOT worth my money. 😡
When I go to a restaurant that is “world renowned” and is opened by a celebrity chef (Mark McEwan), I expect top-notch service and the most out-of-this-world food. When I went to Splendido for the same price point a week ago, I was so over-the-top impressed with their flawless service and carefully prepared food.
My friend and I approached the hostess waiting at the front of Bymark and told her that we had a reservation under my name at 6. Apparently, they had heard my name wrong over the phone when I called, so the reservation was under “Erin” instead of “Karen”. -__- Faillll. She apologized and then asked us if we wanted to sit outside or in the main dining area. We chose the latter. She gestured to us to walk into the main restaurant (the outside patio area surrounded the restaurant) to the right and down the stairs. It wasn’t until we were inside and bumped into the servers pushing food out that we realized it was the wrong way. We were then led unceremoniously to the stairs which were actually located at the FIRST doorway of the building. The hostess didn’t tell us this even though she could have personally led us to the correct doorway since it was only five steps away from where she was standing at the door. That was bad service #1. You can start counting and see how high the number reaches.
When we finally walked down the correct stairs to the main dining area which was underground, it felt like we were walking down the stairs to the restrooms. However, when we reached there, the area was a nice one. Very spacious and large. There was a tall room made out of glass that housed many bottles of wine. It was so tall that there was a slender ladder inside it for the servers to retrieve bottles of wine from the top. In any case, we had to wait for the hostess that was in charge of the main dining area to be seated. And again, we had to wait and I was called “Erin” once again. We also waited unnecessarily for an extra awkward minute since the first hostess thought that her colleague had walked away to check on a table when it actually turned out that we didn’t need to wait at all.
The first thing my friend and I noticed when we sat down was that the table was very large lol. I know it seems like I’m nit-picking at very minor details, but when you start off on the wrong foot in terms of service at a restaurant, it’s really hard to look at the restaurant with fresh eyes again. The large table made it hard to carry a conversation sometimes even though my friend was sitting right across from me. This stuff matters!
After we ordered our food, a male server arrived with a tray of bread that was covered under a white cloth. It was very fancy. We both had the baguette. It was as hard as a rock. I could barely rip it apart in my hands since it was so hard. I didn’t like it. I also didn’t like how the server only gave us one piece of bread. Sometime during the meal, we asked for another piece of bread because the meal was unfulfilling.
Onward with the food: First off, we both started with the Albacore Tuna Sashimi which is worth a surprising $22 on their regular menu.
The first bite was good as the fresh and cold sashimi tasted refreshing. After some more bites, we found that the fish was a bit lacking in flavour. Only the little dollops of mayo and black garlic made up for the blandness. The portion was pretty generous though for the appetizer.
The lighting in there was pretty dim and yellowy which makes my pictures look very tinted. Blaming the restaurant again. 😀
My friend had this dish. The chicken was not bad, and the sauce of the pasta was rather good. It was a good portion and she was very full by the end of the meal. Speaking of being full, first take a look at the dish that I ordered:
It looks nice right? However nice it did look, my stomach was not satisfied. While the scallops were well made with some kind of foamy glaze on it, there were only three pieces. I do have to say they were very soft. The pakora was also very good. I wish it was a little more hot though since lukewarm fried goods are never as tasty as when they are served hot and fresh. The baby carrots and vegetables at the bottom of the plate were the tastiest. A little more of the pakora or veggies wouldn’t have hurt.
When we were nearing the end of our dinner, something didn’t make any sense to us at all. We were in the 2-person tables that were organized in a row along the walls. There was already one couple eating in the left side and we were the third table in the same side. Two new people came in and the hostess sat them right between our tables. Why?? My friend and I both looked at the row of empty tables that were right next to us and telecommunicated a WTF to each other. Why didn’t the server sit the new party at the clearly empty row of tables and not squeeze all three parties into one corner? It’s so dumb.
Since we were both quite disappointed with the experience we were having so far, we were hoping that the dessert would redeem the restaurant. For my friend, it did. Unfortunately, for me, I was stuck with a what-the-heck-is-this dessert. Presenting the strawberry rocky road………………………
No, I did not post the wrong picture. That is indeed a picture of the “strawberry rocky road” dessert. When I read “rocky road”, I’m expecting peanuts and hard nuts or lots of chocolate and waffles and the works. Never did in my right mind did I expect broken up pieces of birthday cake with splatters of stuff on the side to dip my ripped-up pieces of cake into. How is this rocky road?! It doesn’t even make sense. And the cake wasn’t even good either! It was all crumbly and flavourless. I was counting on dessert to fill up my stomach at least and again I was disappointed. I couldn’t even tell that the white splats were toasted marshmallows. Bymark, you fail. The lemon and strawberry puddles were very concentrated though. But the splats were so small that 1 swipe of the cake through it and it would have been gone. Seriously, a fail dessert. I can’t believe this costs $13.5 on the regular menu.
My friend was lucky enough to get a dessert that redeemed what she thought of the restaurant.
I wish I had chosen this one instead. Usually, I pick the item based on how good it sounds and how unique it is. I certainly don’t want to eat just a scoop of ice cream when I can eat tartufo. For this dessert, I thought a “chocolate tart” would have been a standard kind of dessert, but having tried one bite, it was actually extremely good! The crust was hard enough to keep the tart together but not too hard to chew. The chocolate was divine. The ice cream was not bad either.
By the time we paid the bill, I was not full. I was not amused when I had the following exchange with my friend on our way home:
- Me: Are you full?
- D: Yeah.
- Me: That must be nice.
Folks, when you spend $45 on a meal at a chic restaurant, you don’t expect to be hungry and to leave the restaurant disappointed and feeling ripped off. I definitely feel that my meal could have been better since I was paying so much. Worst of all is that the service wasn’t good enough for such a fancy restaurant. We both felt like a restaurant of lower caliber would probably have had better service and wait staff than Bymark did. In fact, I’ve definitely been to such restaurants which is why I know Bymark’s service belongs in the sewers.
All in all, I felt ripped off by the end of the night. Definitely not coming to this place again. I could have gone to 3 other Summerlicious places for lunch instead!
In spite of all that, I still “looked” like I had a good time. Here I am smiling with my food. If someone searched up this restaurant and didn’t read any of the words that I wrote about this restaurant and only looked at the pictures, they would probably go there to try it out. Don’t. Not worth your money in my opinion. If you want high-class service and food that is worth the price, go to the restaurant that I have mentioned in the third paragraph of this post instead.