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Restaurants

Kitch

Posted by Derek Flack / Reviewed on April 30, 2012 / review policy

Kitch Beats EatsKitch isn't the type of place that's easy to assign a genre to. Upon entry, it looks inescapably like bar. Scrolling through the menu of Mexican-inspired offerings, on the other hand, one could be forgiven for claiming it as a restaurant. A trip up to the second floor brings with it the notion that perhaps the less strict "lounge" would be the best descriptor. Rather than the result of an identity crisis, the difficulty in assigning a label to Kitch has in fact been carefully cultivated by its co-owners, both of whom have ample experience in the hospitality industry.

Kitch Beats Eats"Being where we are, we need to be as many things as possible to survive," explains Bryan Jackson, one half of the Kitch team and owner of nearby Starving Artist. "We want to avoid being put in a box." That's understandable given the location to which he refers. Although the slick, 2800 square foot retro-inspired interior might seem more at home on Dundas or Queen West, Kitch sits humbly at 229 Geary Avenue, a street better known for its lack of aesthetic charms and ample selection of auto repair shops.

Kitch Beats EatsLike its newest addition, however, Geary has its own mixed identity. Beneath its industrial veneer, one finds recording studios, bakeries and bike stores (to cut only a thin slice of the businesses here). In that sense, perhaps this is the perfect home for a chimera like Kitch, the name of which gestures to the kitschy interior and the open kitchen. More pragmatically, Dovercourt Village is underserved by both restaurants and bars (for now), so why not deliver the area both? The idea is to welcome food-first groups like young families in the early evening before dimming the lights and raising the speaker-volume on tracks from bands like Tanlines and the XX when the sun has safely set.

Regardless of the changes in atmosphere that Jackson and partner Jose Rodriguez use to establish which category Kitch is trending towards in a given moment, one thing that'll remain consistent is the food, which will be served from open to close each night. Although the menu is still being tweaked in anticipation of the restaurant's official opening (Saturday, May 5), Jackson assures me that the concept — fun, Mexican-inspired comfort food — won't change.

Kitch Beats EatsI didn't try the food under blind conditions, so I won't frame my impressions as a review so much as a preview of what's to come. With taco offerings ($7-9 for two) like the Hole Mole (roasted pork with avocado, onion, cilantro, and mole), Jerk Chicken (pulled chicken, rice, beans, green onion, coleslaw and spicy pineapple salsa) and Cheeseburger (ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickle), the menu is so very "now." It's also quite vegetarian friendly, with numerous dedicated items for those who shy way from meat as well as substitutions that don't seem like merely an afterthought.

Kitch Beats EatsHaving tried about half of the food on offer here during the three visits I've made, the standout dishes for me so far are the Spicy Mac & Cheese ($8) and Jerk Chicken tacos. If you're not a salt maniac, the Veggie Nachos ($12.50) are also worthy of note — though some might find them to be bit less robust in the flavour department than their colourful appearance promises. On one visit, my companion proclaims them the best she's had; on another, the response is muted. In any case, they really come into their own when combined with the accompanying guacamole, which is superb.

Kitch Beats EatsOn the drink front, the menu is currently rather pared down compared to the cocktail heavy lists that now seem standard issue. Sure enough, upon inquiry, Jackson confirms that a more substantial list is on the way, but that he and his staff want to shore up the food menu before finalizing the cocktails. In the meantime, the Margaritas ($7.50) and pitchers of Sangria ($19) hint at what's to come — as do the non-alcoholic Mexican Kool-Aids, which when spiked and served in a saltily rimmed glass, are pretty much divine. Standard beer offerings round out the menu, with a can of PBR coming it at $4.25.

Kitch Beats EatsKitch may be tough to pin down, but as someone who lives nearby, I have to say that the logic of this do-it-all approach has started to grow on me. I've yet to stop by early in the evening, but the west-facing (and very private) side patio could prove a major draw when the temperatures warm up, and the down-to-earth menu should appeal to neighbourhood residents who've been starved for a local they can call their own.

Discussion

56 Comments

hungry / April 30, 2012 at 04:42 pm
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Focus? Who needs focus?
Liza / April 30, 2012 at 05:10 pm
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Bring on the new stuff on Geary! This place looks awesome.
asa / April 30, 2012 at 05:41 pm
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i just notice this the other day on the bus. live just up on davenport ;i, might check this place out
j / April 30, 2012 at 06:31 pm
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this spot reminds me of the few cool montreal spots i used to frequent when i was living there.... i would like this spot very much. definitely checking this out.

keep up the good work blog TO.

AV / April 30, 2012 at 07:38 pm
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Will check this place out. Would suggest ditching the obvious PBR for something that is also cheap but fits the menu... ie. Modelo, Dos Equis, or Tecate
MrsPotato / April 30, 2012 at 07:39 pm
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naaaaaaaachosssss!!\


i'm sold!
Clara / April 30, 2012 at 08:27 pm
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I've been to Kitch and I looove it the food is wicked, the ambiance is great and it's actually pretty accessible. I recommend to everyone and anyone who is looking for a new spot that isn't pretentious and intimidating like many places in T.O.
danielle / May 1, 2012 at 08:58 am
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Very exciting news for both Dovercourt Village and St. Clair West dwellers. It's nice to see the love finally trickling north of Bloor!
eric / May 1, 2012 at 09:03 am
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So that's where the speakers I left out on garbage day went. Your welcome.
moe / May 1, 2012 at 09:34 am
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let's call the dazed and confused passel from Dundas west.
Jeb / May 1, 2012 at 09:43 am
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As a former Queen St dweller .. Thank you looks great!
BLODIAAAA! / May 1, 2012 at 09:59 am
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I haven't been yet, but it reminds me of a more-upscale, non-filthy Green Room. And that's a good thing indeed.
Just wondering... / May 1, 2012 at 11:39 pm
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Hours + Days of operation???

As a neighbour...don't worry about those fancy, $hmancy cocktails...good with the Margies and Beer...

Best o' Luck!
Derek replying to a comment from Just wondering... / May 2, 2012 at 12:31 am
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We don't list hours of operation on our reviews because they're inevitably subject to change, but I know that Kitch is currently up and running between 5:30 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. (or so) Tuesday to Saturday.
Sean Plummer / May 2, 2012 at 02:18 pm
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Looking forward to trying the menu but hope the customer service is better than it was a few weeks ago when a few friends and I arrived for dinner shortly after opening and were told to have a seat as the kitchen would be ready in "about an hour." Uh, no. We're hungry now so Rush Hour it is. (Kudos, though, to the young lady who ran out to excuse the tardy service and hoped we would come back.) Ixnay on the hipster douchebaggery and this could be our summer go-to.
j replying to a comment from Sean Plummer / May 2, 2012 at 04:52 pm
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dont be such a little bitch. you came at a time the kitchen wasn't open; the restaurant hasn't officially opened yet
ytoc / May 3, 2012 at 09:25 am
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could you be the west-side sneaky dees? approved. just make a special day for sangria...
Johnson / May 6, 2012 at 10:34 am
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Olmeca Tequila is gross. Makes me nauseous just looking at it.
Bince / May 6, 2012 at 11:52 am
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Went there for opening night and was quite disappointed. The ATM broke and they only accepted cash. The food was really bland and the drinks were mediocre. The chicken and pulled pork were dry and under-seasoned...tacos were double (and triple!) wrapped in soft tortillas that fell apart when you held them. However, I did enjoy the atmosphere and decor; the servers were quite nice and welcoming.
Julio Morris / May 6, 2012 at 01:59 pm
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Went on saturday. Took forever to get served. Wall to wall douchebag hipster crowd and OCAD student posing for they're picture to be taken for a street style photo. Not one of the staff were pleasant. Food tasted like it came from high school cafeteria. Awful experience. Good luck. . .
Olivia / May 7, 2012 at 08:49 am
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Went on Friday night for dinner, with a group of 15 people... ordered mojito's and a pitcher of Sangria, and was not impressed. I understand the restaurant just opened, however they should work on the timing of the service, as our group received all our meals at different times.. the food which was really bland... Overall really cool vibe in the restaurant, great place to start with dinner and drinks and then go out... 5/10 Goodluck!
Not a hipster replying to a comment from Bince / May 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm
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Are you sure the ATM wasn't working cuz I used it super late that night...weird maybe you were trying to take money out of the super cool street fighter arcade machine lol...I joke...but as far as it being a hipster place...I was there that night and the crowd was pretty mixed and I am soo far from a hipster hmmm just my thoughts
Local Yocal / May 11, 2012 at 03:56 pm
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Ive lived in this hood for 15 years and have had to rely on The Gem at Davenport/Somerset for far too long as a local. The Gem's food is mediocre at best and crap at worst. Terrible beer selection and the owner doesn't give a shit anymore and it shows. Happy to have a new place to try and I'm hoping they consider doing a weekend brunch as I bet it would prove popular.

At the very least I hope that Kitch makes the Gem up their game. I wish this place luck and will be trying it soon.
Easy to Please / May 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm
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All wrong. Save your money for somewhere else.

Cons: The taco shell was bland. It tasted raw and floury, double wrapped and still fell apart. The fillings had no seasoning and the meat was really dry (jerk chicken). The one dollop of sauce that I got all in the first bite was way too spicy. Is it possible for a taco to be too spicy and bland at the same time? We had to ask for the free tortilla chips and salsa that every table is supposed to get and the kool-aid tasted like watered down crystal light.

Pros: The server has blue eyebrows, and the atmosphere and music are awesome.

A personal touch: When I told the server that all four of us really did not enjoy our meal, I tried to be nice about it by telling her quietly in the corner at the cash. Being four young women, we didn't want to make a scene, and had a tough time even saying anything... you know how it goes. Anyway, she didn't offer anything to me and the 'conversation' ended quite awkwardly. She didn't return to clear our plates, or send a manager over, or even the bill. After 30 minutes of her avoidance, we decided to get up and put on our jackets to indicate we were ready to leave. We literally stood at our table for 10 more minutes until we grabbed her attention. She told us we were supposed to pay up at the cash even though we saw her give bills to other tables. After I told her again we really didn't enjoy it, she said to her manager that "this is the table that I was telling you about before, can you deal with it?" Super appalling that the manager knew and didn't come over to say anything was quite awful in my mind, and after telling him about our meal, he said, oh, you should talk to the other manager. In the end, we paid for our alcohol, with the meal comped but left super disappointed with the food and service all around. Definitely will NEVER be back.
Bea Arthur's ghost / May 12, 2012 at 11:32 am
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$8 tallboys? What is this, the airport?
George / May 12, 2012 at 01:15 pm
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Taco shell was bland, doughy, and unpleasant. Tried 3 different tacos and they all had a total lack of seasoning. I really don't know how this can happen. The most bland tacos I ever had in my life.

On the pro side, the music was great, but too loud.

I also will NEVER go back.
Turtles / May 12, 2012 at 08:34 pm
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Went there earlier today. Was quite looking forward to discovering a new local food place. Was extremely disappointed. The decor was nice and the place looks cool. That is the only good thing about this place.

Ordered the tortilla with mango to start. The chips were literally Doritos. Next, tried the pulled pork burrito. Worst burrito ever. The pulled pork was grey and dry, as if they just boiled it. Not at all how pulled pork is supposed to be. Overall, quite bland tasting. Also tried the fish tacos, which were one of the worst things I have ever tasted. As previously stated above, the taco comes with two tasteless shells that fall apart. The fish was deep-fried and battered but somehow was awful and had no flavour. How can something deep-fried be so bad? Will never return.
Frank / May 13, 2012 at 03:29 am
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agree with much of what has been said about Kitch. The space is cool, the $8 tall boys are not. The tacos were dry, bland and under-seasoned. The only thing that wasn't a total fail were the nachos, which were pretty good but served awkwardly in a pizza box. The space and atmosphere are there, but food and drinks have a long way to go. When opening a restaurant you've got to put your best feet forward. A few glitches and mishaps are certainly excusable during the first weeks after opening, but if the food's not right from the get go then I'm skpetical of their ability to turn it around.
Jamey / May 14, 2012 at 10:07 am
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I absolutely hated this place. They messed up our order, over charged for beer, and gave us the poorest excuse for a burrito I've ever had.
Never to return.
Jane / May 14, 2012 at 10:44 am
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As a neighbourhood resident, I hope that they quickly reinvent themselves as a cheap local. Booze and food are too expensive to bring regulars in. If they strive to be a local, then give us something for going. Cheap draught beer would be a good start. Maybe food specials. Simplify the menu down to just a few items done well, rather than a lot of items done so-so. I have it all figured out!
moe / May 15, 2012 at 08:13 am
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was excited to go with friends today until I got here.
brian / May 15, 2012 at 10:20 am
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8 dollar cans of 50 and 9 dollars for the worst tacos you'll ever eat.
mayor dodge / May 15, 2012 at 10:45 am
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We won't go there until it is confirmed that the owners have REPLACED the entire KITCH'd up kitchen staff. So there.
David / May 16, 2012 at 11:26 am
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This is a very sorry excuse for a resto lounge, thats all.
Trevor / June 2, 2012 at 01:05 pm
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any updates? sounds like it had a shaky start
Marie / June 5, 2012 at 07:59 am
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Oh gawd, we just moved to the hood and were looking forward to this spot but wow, these are awful reviews! I guess we'll give them another month to sort things out before we venture over.
R / June 8, 2012 at 08:15 pm
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I just ate here. I will never again.

Got there around 5.30 on a Friday. Nice day so took a seat on the patio.

Server was nice and friendly. Since I was new, asked how big the portions are, and was told the 2 tacos thing is big enough for a meal. Asked about beer on tap and was told there was none, only $8 tall boys ($8!!).

I ordered the mango tacos and a tall boy of Creemore.

It was early so not that buys. A few other people on the patio (1 party of maybe 10 at two tables, the others only had 1 or two people) and only 1 person inside when I came in.

I waited probably 30 minutes for the tacos. They didn't come with any hot sauce or other condiments. I grabbed a bottle of hot sauce from the BBQ station. They were not so great. Kinda dry, not that flavorful, mango was good but that's about it. Very flat and flavorless. Even with some hot sauce. Tacos themselves were kinda dry and didn't really have much taste.

I was hungry so ordered more food. I ordered a Spicy chicken burrito.

I waited for another 20 min. I asked about the food, and was told it was coming soon. 10 minutes later, nothing. I went inside and told them forget it. It was just then ready, but told them I wasn't in the mood for eating any more. They offered it for free, but I was just so unhappy (and still hungry) I wanted to get out as quick as possible. They were nice enough about it, but at that point it didn't matter.

I paid for what I ate (2x beers, 1 taco) = $25 and left.

I had read the above poor reviews, but not trusting everything you read on the internet I asked someone I know who had gone and they said it was good. I was looking for a simple, tasty dinner on a friday nite in the nice weather. Not so much.

If in the mood for tacos I'll line up at Grand Electric.Thanks.

R
R / June 8, 2012 at 08:17 pm
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Oh, by the way, Cash Only.

Makes forking over the $25 even sting more.

R
R / June 8, 2012 at 08:21 pm
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BTW, they do have beer on tap. I found out when I was leaving seeing someone else get a glass of steamwhistle from the Keg outside (right behind me so I didn't see it).

And the tacos are tiny.

Josh / June 9, 2012 at 08:06 pm
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Just got back from this place. It was great... Sure a tallboy is $7 but you could also opt for the $4.25 can of PBR or the $4 draft (which could have been advertised a little better). Got the SPICY Shrimp ceviche, beef and blue cheese and the pork mole tacos. I was full after 1 taco... I guess that guy that posted above me is just some fatty that gets grumpy when his food isn't served in 10 mins. My wife and I ate for $50 with drinks and a good tip. I'll be going back to this place... Street Fighter 2 tournament anyone?
Reeves / June 19, 2012 at 10:47 am
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Visited on Saturday. Very cool space. Super reasonable food. Excellent choice of tall-boy cans and unique juices.
Marcus / June 24, 2012 at 12:31 am
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Went to kitch on friday. The space is super-nice with awesome art on the walls. The DJ was kinda lame. Didnt really know what he was doing, seemed to be a playlist poseur. The food not good at all. Taco Bell is taster. Drink way way overpriced. Not sure what they're attempting to do.
Meckalecka replying to a comment from j / June 30, 2012 at 11:07 am
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Looks so idiosyncratic and fun. Reminds me of the old Wazubees in East Vancouver. TO needs more
Mike / July 5, 2012 at 11:09 pm
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Worst service ever, mediocre food at best. Over priced, $12 for a burrito, no rice , no salad.
Sat and waited 25 minutes for a waitress to get us a drink and the place was empty.
Got one beer, she never came back to see if we wanted a second. It was like they didn't want to make any more money. I love their other restaurant "starving artist" is amazing.
This place is a disaster. If you want great food and service go to Sneeky Dee's at college and Bathurst.
Johnny / August 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm
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Three of us ventured up to kitch last night. Service was horrid. We finally snagged a table and I immediately asked for a mac and cheese.. I was told it was a 2 hrs wait.. Really ? 2 hrs ? The server or owner guy was totall dick. I guess he must of done too many drugs in the rave days. If you want crappy service and worse music then Kitch is the place for you.
Sean / September 18, 2012 at 10:33 am
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We always wanted to go in since we would pass by often, we finally did late at night on a Saturday before last call. The place was basically empty, we decided to sit at a bar, there were two servers however it was about 10 minutes to receive one drink, its like the other 3 of us were invisible for another 10 minutes before we got service, finally both servers started to pay attention to us however I think it was only because my buddy is a loud mouth and demands attention. We decided to try their pulled pork nachos which much to all of our surprise were spectacular very pricey but worth every dollar. I would come back only for their nachos, the service did improve however it shouldn’t be us trying to break that weird awkward wall it should be the servers doing what should be natural to them and do a job they get paid to do. They seemed very tired and bored.
Kim Patrick / September 26, 2012 at 08:12 pm
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I eat here at least three times a week. Food has drastically improved since its inception and I've noticed the staff have changed and are far more attentive. It's definitely improving, and although the restaurant is not at its fullest potential yet, I see good things in the future. Owner's just testing and adjusting until he gets it right.
C / October 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm
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I am very satisfied with my visit and I never write reviews. The page just happened to be open because I was searching for the address earlier aha Anyway, KITCH is a must go! The caesar I ordered was awesome and the babe that made it, fantastic! Thank you guys for a great experience, the stand up comedy (especially the badass asian) was just what I needed to end off my Thursday. Next time, Streetfighter! Peace
Ditto Much / November 10, 2012 at 03:02 am
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Kitch is underrated it is a hidden authentic gem off the beaten path worthy of a trip on its own. 9 Drinks between 2 guys came out under 40 dollars with a very strong tip. I stumbled upon kitch because of its comedy night but as an evening get away this could be the most underrated experience in Toronto. The location fills quickly arrive early and have a chat with the staff rather than searching for a seat. Expect to run into friends you hadn't spoken to in years, expect a beat you hadn't heard in years you might wait a little longer than the big clubs but expect a staff that you fall in love with. If you looking for a location for an event this is the one nobody would ever think of. As an aside Lolly ... hells yeah.. smitten as a kitten how can any guy resist.
Ditto Much replying to a comment from Sean / November 10, 2012 at 03:05 am
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Hey Sean my first experience months ago was similar to yours. I felt like I was invisible. I don't know how they changed it but wow complete opposite experience. Charmed by the service quick and friendly top to bottom.
John / February 6, 2013 at 04:55 pm
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Moved into this hood last year so I've been eyeing this place for months. My kids quiz me on it practically daily as I jet them off to/from school. Finally took the plunge and dropped in last friday night around 7pm. I have to admit, I was bracing myself as I'd read mixed reviews from people that I don't know but had no first hand info. I was concerned the music would be too loud and heavy on the playas, bitches n hos. (btw-single dad in my late 40's here and my kids are 4 & 8.) The music was actually fun and not loud...I'd say just right. Service was pleasant and prompt and overall a nice group of staff and patrons. No attitude, no loud jocks or hipsters. I'm sure the demographics change as the night progresses but I felt comfortable having my kids there. My kids were facinated by the place and at times slackjawed by the huge screen which ran mostly animated videos that suited the vibe. We had the big cheeseburger, pulled pork quesedillas and 2 orders of bacon cheese perogies and I had a tallboy of Steigel. Bill came to $30. Overall a nice experience and I'll be back with and without my kids. Keep it up Kitch, we need you in this area!
Nobe / May 31, 2013 at 10:00 am
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The service is horrible. Three of the four people I came with received our meals at one time, while our friend waited another 40 minutes for a burrito. Our food got cold as we waited for the 4th meal to arrive, and we eventually had to cancel the order. Not only did our server offer no apology, but she never returned to our table to bring our bill.

When trying to pay inside (which we were told we had to do), we were ignored while waiting in line with a crowd of people ordering drinks.
Meggy / October 26, 2013 at 09:14 pm
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I've been to Kitch twice now. One when it first opened and then recently to give it another chance. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

It's really starting to worry me seeing so many restaurants opening up where the food is so mediocre -- it's a slap in the face to all the serious chefs in the neighbourhood . I recently saw one of the owners of Kitch (/Starving Artist) at my local Costco. EVERYTHING is store bought -- such a disappointment (microwavable bacon? really?).

I will no longer support these two restaurants.
jenny / November 3, 2013 at 09:27 am
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BEWARE!!! the bar tender intentionally short changes you!! and the owner is a creep. too bad, this place definitely looked like it had a lot of potential. perhaps stealing money from their patrons indicates things arent going very well. bad vibes all round.
Jenny / April 12, 2014 at 05:04 pm
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I love Kitch, Not perfect...BUT..You just need to know how to *work the quirks* Kitch DOES have beers on draft and $4 PBR cans..they just don't advertise it that well, so everyone can stop losing their minds over 8$ tall cans...The 5$ menu is the way to go, The garlic bread grilled cheese and Cheeseburger are both excellent. There are tons of board games there to play (without charge unless some other places in this city) and most nights there is entertainment (also free of charge) whether it be Seinfeld trivia, open mic night, or movie screenings. I'm glad to live in the neighbourhood, My friends and I go often and are always treated VERY well, Given prompt and efficient service, and the price is right. CANNOT LOSE.
aDawg replying to a comment from Meggy / July 26, 2014 at 07:05 pm
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You're a fool if you don't understand why restaurant owners would shop at Costco. It's way cheaper than ordering from a supplier who delivers. Fryer oil, mayonnaise, pop, cheeses, cleaning supplies, latex gloves, eggs, dairy, etc, etc, etc... If you're writing off an establishment because you saw one of the owners shopping at Costco, then you don't understand restaurants and why an owner would shop at Costco. If, on the other hand, the food is crappy, then by all means avoid the restaurant in question. But don't judge a restaurant by an owner's desire to protect his bottom line.

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