The second stop on our food journey brought Ash and I to Utopia– a mid-trendy restaurant tucked on the outer cusp of Little Italy. Ash is a regular and it seemed fitting that the first time in my life that I relinquish control and give someone else the freedom to choose that Ash chooses one of her favourite places to dine.
My first impression consisted of shock (at how small it was- maybe 6 four-seater tables at the front and a tiny bar) then relief and pleasant surprise as our waiter led us to a table in the back room.
The dining experience can be divided into two categories here (service delivery and food) and unfortunately, the two categories exist on almost opposite ends of the spectrum. In this case, in order to fairly speak of one, I must also speak of the other.
The wait time was none that I’ve likely experienced before. I’ve had shorter wait times in line to ride The Bat at Wonderland in the height of summer than I had here. If it were a weekday and had I not grabbed a morning snack before our brunch outing I may have killed someone in there- I may have killed them good. We waited a record-breaking (in my books anyway) one hour! I paid parking for one hour and lo and behold, I was back out there filling up for yet another hour and still, our food had not yet arrived. Had it been a complicated order full of diva-like demands and unlikely substitutions then maybe I could have overlooked this blip but I ordered a salmon panini sandwich and Ash had their signature mushroom chicken burrito- easy peasy.
Furthermore, had the waitress (who, in all other senses, was a pleasant one) at least explained to us why our order was taking an eternity and then some or came by every 10-15 minutes apologetically recognizing the long wait instead of innocently smiling every time she looked over, this review may have been a little more forgiving. However, none of the above happened- not even a little bit.
The only saving grace and interesting part of the wait was the rustic decor in the bright back room (as it invokes a feel of the outdoor; as if you’re in a wood-paneled cabin with an expansive skylight). Music over the speakers, small chat and general appreciation of the unique space occupied most of our time and it was a great distraction from my unlawful thoughts of committing a felony due to extreme hunger.
Aside from the ‘no-end-in-sight’ wait, there are some positives here. My panini sandwich was fresh and delectable. And for many gourmet burger lovers (although I did not try any), Utopia specializes in burgers and burritos. Their menu also offers a variety of choices and prep toppings and overall, the prices are right (nothing over $13). I would come again- yes I would, even just for what I ordered. I, however, would be smarter the next time around:
Park near by
Fill up the meter for at least an hour and a half
Come early (not on a complete empty stomach)
Don’t be in a rush
Give up all hope of short wait/serve times
Unless you can do all the above, which I realize is much to ask of any regular restaurant-goer, then pass on this one. However, if you love salmon and/on buns (the carb, that is) like I do then it may be worth a venture.
For me, Utopia was worth it only because fate had it that it was a Sunday and I was in no rush, my rage was at a manageable level and I love salmon/bread/lettuce-anything. In the end though, it was a long way to Utopia; it was far from euphoric and you just can’t always bank on fate.
**1/2 out of 5