Saturday, May 9, 2009

Grenadier Cafe, coffee's crap but we still love you.

In my attempts to maintain my sanity and try to fool myself into thinking I still have a social life since the kid arrived I joined a 'mom group' for new moms. Now, detailing the various conversations, my own opinions of the ladies, and over all mom-gossip would fill an entirely other blog, so I'm trying to stay focused here and move this topic onto reviewing the restaurant, so the point is, met a bunch of moms, figured out who I thought I would like, weeded out all the losers, and now I get together with a small group for lunch weekly at the Grenadier Cafe in High Park, the subject of this post. (I won't tell you which day we meet, wouldn't want any 'fans' hounding me while I'm out with my friends, I like to keep a low profile .... I also like to pretend anyone other than my mom reads this blog)

The High Park restaurant is a place where I can truly say, within a single visit I can go from loving it to wanting to stab the stupid waitress in the throat with a fork (which is often made difficult considering she never brings me one). We've been going there since the kiddies were immobile and barely opening their eyes to now requiring high chairs and constant entertainment, and throughout these months of visits I still can't decide if I love it's quirky charm and low-key atmosphere, or hate it for it's incompetent wait staff and bad coffee.

Let me take you through a typical visit to give you an idea of the good, the bad, and the ugly of this place, and you can decide for yourself if its worth it or not.

On a weekly basis we enter the restaurant in a parade of adorable babies in strollers being pushed by women who are getting better looking by the week, and I mean that literally, we all looked like crap those first few weeks and it has now gotten to the point where I have noticed some of the moms brushing their hair before leaving the house, and a couple have even put some mascara on, bravo ladies! As we walk in there are numerous elderly patrons oohing and aahing over the little ones, which we all of course love, score one for high park. "Our Table" is always available and the backroom is pretty vacant most of the time making it so we can spread our baby crap across 5 or 6 tables guilt free...I know, this place sounds great. We all sit, say hi to each other's babies that have been hidden behind puffy jackets and blankets, and wait for the waitress, and wait, and wait, and....well, you get the picture. Now we are a group of new moms on mat leave, meaning we will take adult conversation wherever we can get it, so most of the times we don't notice right away that we are being completely ignored, and when I say ignored, I mean the waitress will walk by us a few times and not even make eye contact. Eventually it will get to the point where we realize that our throats are drying up from dehydration and the babies are getting hungry and need baby food heated up, so we try to get her attention. In one of her sprints by our table we yell in her general direction that we would like some waters, she looks our way and nods, which in most countries is a signal confirming she has heard our request and is prepared to fill it, unfortunately our waitress is not familiar with this custom and not only leaves us waterless, but also does not provide our children with the opportunity to eat warm food, leaving no alternative but to give them sweet potato that is still half frozen in that ice cube shape, the poor babies are getting frost bite holding onto these cubes with their tiny fists, gumming away at it, trying with everything in them to make the burning hunger feeling in their tiny little tummies go away....maybe I went too far with that, let's just say the kids are cranky they want to eat and the mamas are cranky because they want to eat, it's not a good scene. 

Eventually we are looked after, sometimes she'll return with the baby food we have asked her to heat up, but sometimes she'll forget to bring it back. Some days our orders take 5 minutes, other days they take an hour, don't really get it considering we all order the same thing every week. Then the bills are another story all together, we have got to the point where we will all just stand near the register and hope she eventually notices us so we can pay her.

So you may be asking yourself, why do we keep coming back to this place, well, when you are a mom in Toronto your options are a little more limited and your criteria for a good restaurant change a little, no longer does food quality take precedence, accommodating the babies become the priority and regardless of the waitress who has obviously spent a lot of time on the 'short bus' there are pluses that cannot be denied:
  • there is space for 8 or more strollers around the table, this is a huge bonus in the city where sometimes you are actually turned away when you try to enter a restaurant with a stroller (stupid pretentious Torontonians...oh how I miss being one of those)
  • there are piles up on piles of high chairs - because nothing is worse then looking forward to a nice warm meal out that you didn't have to prepare yourself, only to have to hold a squirming baby on your lap while you try to eat it, restaurant meal + baby on lap = severe heartburn
  • it's never that busy so we can spend hours loitering and no one bothers us (if I don't see the mess at home it doesn't really exist, so the longer I'm out the better)
  • there is A LOT of free parking, which again in the city is hard to come by (or you can do like me and go to the lot next to NoFrills in Bloor West, spend hours in the 'village' then buy one item for $5 and get your parking, i've become such a cheap-ass since having the baby, next thing I know I'm going to be saying that I won't buy those shoes until they go on sale!)
Just for those reasons I'll put up with a crappy waitress, messed up orders, bad coffee, and overpriced eggs (if it's after 11am).

(okay, get ready, the only time I'm going to be nice, it's coming up)

...and really just the company alone makes any crap I have to deal with worth it...there's my little nod to the high park moms;) back to being bitchy.


  1. You summed it up perfectly! And you made me laugh my ass off - which I needed after spending 2 hours trying to get the screaming baby to nap! Thanks:)

  2. I think you felt you *had* to same something nice about us since you know Meidrian and I both read your blog. Busted! ;) Most of the time I think you're OK too.... Thanks for the laugh!