Saturday, January 21, 2012

Urban Eatery in Eaton Centre

Lately I've been hearing so much about the "fancy" Urban Eatery food court in the lower level on the Dundas St side of the Eaton Centre.  Over the holidays, we finally had a chance to check it out for ourselves. 

 Our first impression was how big this food court was, covering what felt like the span of a long city block.  We went at lunch time on a Wednesday between Christmas and New Years, when presumably many of the office workers would be on vacation.  But the place was packed despite its size, brimming with Boxing Day bargain hunters.  The decor was more modern and upscale than the usual food court with a bright fire engine red theme. There were a variety of seating choices ranging from traditional cafeteria styled chairs, to funky "S Chairs" to tall bar stools.

 On our first quick pass, we felt a bit disappointed as we saw all the standard fast food joints that can be found in any food court such as McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Manchu Wok, A&W, Subway Sandwiches.  Yet even these low-end stalls sported a classier look and feel with their more subdued shiny chrome decor.  However the phrase "You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear" comes to mind.

On closer inspection we realized that these were interspersed with higher-end eateries such as Amaya Express Gourmet Indian food (which seems to be popping up everywhere), Big Smoke gourmet burgers, Urban Herbivore for vegetarians, Crepe de Licious and Froshberg Gelato, to name a few. 

 With so many options to choose from, it was hard to decide what to eat.  It was a cold day but we didn't want a huge heavy meal after all that Christmas eating.  We picked a place called "Rare" mostly because the big plastic soup tub hanging from the ceiling caught my eye.  I went for a wild mushroom soup and a nicoise salad (my favourite salad with tuna, beans, olives, hard boiled egg & tomato).  The soup was hearty and delicious but the salad was a huge disappointment since the lettuce was limp and wilted.  In retrospect, we should have gone for their specialty which was rare roast beef sandwiches.. lesson learned.

One point of note is the Urban Eatery's stance on environment preservation with the use of non-disposable cutlery and serving containers.  My soup and salad were served in reusable plastic bowls and came with stainless steel cutlery.  After eating your meal, you are to bring your dishes to a deposit area where cafeteria staff await to empty out your food remnants and send the bowls, dishes, knives, forks and spoons off for cleaning.  We didn't order a drink so I'm not sure if your water or pop or coffee would come in reusable cups as well.  While this seems like a noble endeavour, it's hard to imagine this being cost effective.  So let's see if it lasts or if will just be a fleeting gimmick for this "upscale food court".

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