Prior to the launch of the Black Ox Bistro restaurant, I had been hearing a lot of hype from friends and family who were getting super excited for the opening. Upon further investigation on Facebook, I realized it had much to do with the fact that it was a halal restaurant serving meaty mains. I must admit, the branding and overall layout of the restaurant is classy and makes you think expensive. However, with the recent bad reviews I had been hearing about Affy’s restaurant – a once classy halal steakhouse in Toronto – it was time for new competition to roll into town.
My first time trying the restaurant was this past Valentine’s Day with my husband. We don’t normally celebrate this as a special occasion, but thought it would be nice to try it out. We called in 2 days before to ask for a reservation and were placed on hold for 2 hours. Yes, you’re probably thinking – why did you wait that long and not hang up? We did, and when we called back 15 minutes later, then 30 minutes later, and then an hour later – it was evident the lady who answered put us on hold and forgot. Not a huge problem for us, but their own phone line was busy for those few hours. I called back the next day and thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt, and was again asked to be put on hold, so I refused and reminded them of yesterday’s incident – to which she acknowledged by laughing. We finally got an early dinner reservation for 4:30pm on V’Day.
The next day we showed up on time and had to wait in line while the front host tried to find us seating. He said they had originally placed us at the entrance table which was clearly not suited for a romantic V’Day dinner – as the entire venue was over filled with people going in and out of the front door resulting in a constant cold Canadian winter breeze. I did appreciate the front host finding us alternate seating though.
When we were finally seated, sandwiched between the rows of booths on either side of us, it became clear how overcrowded the seating was. The tables in the centre of the room – including ours – were all placed at an angle to accommodate more people. While this works for any fast food place, I did not particularly enjoy how crammed we were. To give you a better idea, allow me to further explain. My husband was seated closer to another woman on either side of him, than he was to me. To add to this, the tables were ridiculously small – just barely enough for one person. My husband had to keep apologizing to the lady on the other side of him as anytime he moved he would touch her accidentally. You could tell how awkward the entire seating arrangement was by the looks on all the couples’ faces, as they tried to have a conversation with their s/o without having someone else overhear. To put my feelings that night into the best words possible, I’m going to quote Kim K – “This is super awkward.”
I prayed that the food would distract me from the whole situation. The menu was preset for that day, so we ordered one app to share – the beef brisket poutine, a filet mignon medium-rare for me, a NY striploin steak for him, and a chocolate pie in shortbread crust as dessert for each of us. I have to say, this was one of the most satisfying meals I have had in a long time. My steak was cooked to perfection with delicious peppercorn seasoning, and the poutine was to die for. If anything, I would go back just for that poutine – probably won’t dine in though.
At the end of the night, we ended up paying $100 for a meal that was advertised as $70 for to people. We noticed they charged us $8 extra for the steaks as it was considered an ‘upgrade.’ However, no where on the menu did it say under that heading that you would be charged extra. The waitresses did a great job in serving us, so we didn’t feel it was worth hassling them. After waiting around for the poor waitresses to get through the crammed tables, we finally found some room to exit.I couldn’t be happier to get out of there as soon as possible. It was definitely the shortest dinner I have ever had at a restaurant.