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“Amazing Food, Service & Atmosphere” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of The David Duncan House

The David Duncan House
Ranked #191 of 8,404 Restaurants in Toronto
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: American, Steakhouse, Seafood, Canadian, Soups
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Special occasions, Local cuisine, Business meetings, Romantic, Large groups
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Full Bar, Parking Available, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Neighborhood: North York
Milton, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Amazing Food, Service & Atmosphere”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 7, 2012

This place is gorgeous and a great spot to impress a date or for business. The only thing better than the look of David Duncan House is the quality of food. And the servers were very very good!

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Mike W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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225 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    118
    58
    22
    10
    17
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
186 reviews
87 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 129 helpful votes
“They've been doing this too long”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 1, 2012

I share the concerns of several other reviewers. The restaurant "could" have been an good experience. The decor is old, but the whole "classic old design" could have been appealing. From there it went downhill.

We had reservations for four at 6:00. The place was pretty much empty. From the time we sat down til about 7:00 several wait staff hovered around the table and very clearly indicated that it was not appreciated that we were not moving things along. Considering the prices they were charging, we should have been treated like royalty and doted upon. Our main waiter was a grumpy old fellow who had obviously been doing this job for far too long. When we told him we were intending to take our time because the four of us had a lot of catching up to do, the look of disdain on his face was disturbing.

From there my meal was just "okay". The salad was a plate of lettuce leaves and a half a cup of dressing dumped on top. The cheapest steak in the house was $39 (8oz New York strip). It landed in front of me with 5 small potatoes and some broccolli. Yikes. My wife's entire roast beef dinner was cold - the meat, the baked potatoe and the veggies. Given the treatment from the waiter I would not have dared to try and send it back.

Dessert (lemon cake) was good, but the cheese cake was basic and so-so.

I have been here with a big group a couple of times (someone else was paying), but I would not return. Really disappointing. Basic cuisine for rich man prices and wait staff who only wanted to turn the table.

  • Visited November 2012
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Bill K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kitchener, Canada
Level Contributor
50 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“So attentive”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 24, 2012

Had the lobster tail and steak but wish I had ordered it med/well as well done was a little too charred for me. Service was excellent, wine was delicious and ambiance charming. A great night out for a special occasion.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank Rose-MaryMarch1963
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“A little behind the times - Felt like the '90's (1890's)!”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 21, 2012

Yes, I know, it's a Victorian Mansion style restaurant, but there is another 'Mansion' place in town and it seems to feel current.

I've been to this restaurant twice now for business lunches. Once in April/12 and again last Friday - Oct/12. Half a year apart, both times with fairly large parties of people (between 10 & 15). I expected this place to be an experience on par with such establishments as Auberge du Pommier or Canoe etc. Well, I've been disappointed both times. When I read other reviews I wonder if I've gone to a completely different place - twice!
First of all, the building is impressive. Victorian era mansion, with separate dining areas, multiple levels. Second time there we were seated in our own private room, containing a bay window, large fireplace, complete with a painting of Queen Victoria. Seated at a single long table, in stuffed chairs, it seemed to be quite elegant. My colleagues noted the dated carpeting - seemingly from the '90's - which prompted the quip - "the 1890's?". I found the wait staff to be VERY old school - older or elderly black suit clad waiter, and a younger - mumbling - busboy. The service was middling at best. The waiter never waited for conversation to abate (it was a larger group of people) before reciting (in a soft spoken, accented voice) the pertinent parts of the menu. This got to be aggravating towards the end of the meal as we had to constantly prompt him to repeat or speak up. The staff also tended to forget orders and mix up who received what. My dish was the lunch special sea bass. I should have read more closely, when it said pan-seared, I should have clued in that it wasn't really sea bass. Which it turned out it didn't seem to be at all. In fact, it looked suspiciously like my colleague's pan seared red snapper. And both looked fried, not seared nicely. Limp, soggy thin pieces of fish. The accompanying broccoli was too undercooked to cut. I love raw broccoli, even prefer it that way. But cold on a plate with fish, not much fun. Luckily I order fries, which actually turned out to be very tasty. crispy style, they could be eaten without condiments. I meant to ask for some mayo to have with them, but the waiter disappeared too quickly.
Comments about the steaks from other colleagues had very few high notes, with the main being that they were all over cooked. My thought is that the chef may have gotten it right, but the wait staff did just that - they waited too long to bring the food to the table.
The pricing was quite reasonable. My fish was $17.95, and the prime rib was around $18 - prices were generally less than at the Keg, but the ambiance and quality of food and service was definitely NOT up to par with the Keg. Which is a shame, because I would like an independent restaurant to show its stuff compared to a corporate formula.
For dessert I ordered the cake of the day - as did one of my colleagues. When they arrived, there were two different kinds. Also the bus boy announced it by calling it "cake of the month? who has the cake of the month?" - but sounding like "Agamemnon?" who as the Agamemnon?" When put in front of me, my cake was missing an entire wedge off of the bottom and was fallen over on it's side (so what eh?) while my colleague's slice stood proud and intact on his plate, and was completely different. His was the actual cake of the day, a nice dark ganoche coated dark chocolate layered cake, while mine was a mocha mousse. Pointing this out to the wait staff only elicited a shrug and the statement that it was the same. We actually held the plates up beside each other, to show him and still it was - "meh, so what? They are the same." Which they clearly were not. Not wanting to make a scene I acquiesced and ate mine. The cake layers were definitely stale. This prompted another quip, in a quip filled luncheon,: they were both cakes of the month, it just happened that mine was from September!
Why, in a fine dining establishment, was i put in the position of questioning my dessert and then feeling like I had to defend myself? Again, at the Keg, I have witnessed customer interaction and service operate at a much higher level.
Also, all of the desserts looked like they were purchased at the local Sobey's or Loblaws grocery, and just sliced up here. I don't think any of them are made on the premises. Just not expected quality.
Finished up with a cappuccino. Tasted fine, but in a thimble sized cup. Could have used a little more. I forgot to mention that we ordered a couple of appetizers for the table - a smoked salmon platter & baby back ribs. Both tasted good. Well prepared, but the service was lacking in that they were plopped down without notice right on my space. I said that they were for the table to share and tried to clear a middle of the table spot, but he wasn't having any of it and walked away without adjusting it. Again - do I have to say it? It appears that this wait staff learned their trade in the era before customer service became prevalent (have you ever been advised to look for younger /recent grad dentists who know about painless treatments? well there seems to be a corollary in the service industry).
Needless to say, after two kicks at this particular can, I will not be returning. I can see how the Duncan House may appeal to a certain (octogenarian) segment who yearn for Kipling-esque atmosphere, but at risk of sounding like a broken record, you can find all that, plus good food and service at the Keg Mansion downtown - albeit at a higher price.
IMHO, the David Duncan House needs a fresher menu, updated basics in its decor and training for its staff.

  • Visited October 2012
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
6 Thank JeDi624
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
53 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Restaurant stuck in the 80's”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 19, 2012

The menu needs a major overhaul. Very old fashioned and needs updated asap- so much so I expected to see jello on the dessert menu. Nice location and nice grounds, actual interior of the restaurant was unique shame they haven't kept up to date on modern style dining trends. We found the staff to just be ok- the restaurant was not busy but all the diners were crushed into one room.

Wouldn't recommend unless they change the menu and add some freshness to the restaurant.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank Maria S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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