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Restaurants

The Octagon

Posted by Libby Roach / Reviewed on April 11, 2012 / review policy

The Octagon steakhouseThe Octagon is not trendy, exciting or new by any means. It is, however, a purveyor of well executed cuts of meat and seafood, and a place where you'll find stellar service and a killer wine list. Consistent, accessible and approachable, The Octagon has been in business for decades, and there's an obvious reason for it. What it lacks in excitement, it more than makes up for in what we came for — meat.

The Octagon steakhouseLocated in Thornhill, just north of Steeles on Yonge street, the restaurant is hard to miss, especially as it lives up to its geometric name. The entire building is a house of crazy eights, in and out, with oak and cherry woods positioned in between stunning panes of stained glass. This is definitely the type of place you would take Dorothy Manthooth out for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

The Octagon steakhouseChanneling the steak house vibe, we tucked in for some overpriced cocktails, a spicy Bloody Caesar ($12) and the kitschy classic Long Island Iced Tea ($11). Both did the trick, but probably weren't worth the expense given the wine on offer. An in house complimentary pickle tray helped take a bite out of cocktails, and the basket of buttery garlic bread was a nice touch.

The Octagon steakhouseThe Caesar salad for two ($29) was prepared table side in a large well-seasoned wooden bowl; you could tell this was going to be a serious salad. A half dozen ramekins containing all the various ingredients (raw egg, anchovies, parmesan cheese, red wine vinegar, lemons, croutons, bacon bits, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, pepper, garlic) are all portioned out to ensure consistent results. It's quite a process, but entertaining to watch as well.

The servers creating the salads make it look like artwork. Our waiter this evening has worked at the Octagon for close to 20 years, and the proof is in the pudding: this is easily one of the best Caesar salads I've ever had. Portions are huge, and the creaminess of the dressing doesn't disguise the standout ingredients. Like a well-arranged piece of music, the salad soars with every bite and every component complementing the next.

The Octagon steakhouseThe bacon wrapped scallops ($16.95) were tender, salty and pleasantly plump. At about the size of a baby's fist, you would expect some level of chewiness, but they literally break apart in your mouth, seeping the buttery-lemon juices into your mouth.

Steaks are served in every size and cut; we both opted for the Cadillac of the bunch, an eight ounce Filet Mignon ($39.95, or $51.95 for the super-thick 12 ounce option). Cooked to a perfect medium rare-rare, I was in meat heaven. Aged a lovingly 45 days and charcoal broiled, the steak here confirms the old suspicion that you'd definitely be misguided ordering the chicken.

The Octagon steakhouseThe steaks are served simply enough, only a few mushrooms and a sad piece of parsley compete on this platter. But, there really is no competition. The steak is just so glorious it needs nothing to accompany it. Unlike other upscale steakhouses, The Octagon does offer a side at no charge, so our steaks were quickly followed by a baked potato and circular home fries that were mostly ignored.

The Octagon steakhouseWe rounded out our meal with a fabulous liquid dessert, Spanish Coffee ($10.95). Once again the server made a theatrical appearance at our table, this time with an open flame. George lovingly prepared our coffees with great flair and precision. No third degree burns here.

I kept expecting Ron Burgundy to pop out and serenade us with some Jazz flute, but aside from that, this stereotypical steakhouse lives up to all its hype. A little weathered, a little dated, but it`s still a classic restaurant that steak lovers will return to, again and again.

Discussion

25 Comments

Nicholas / February 16, 2011 at 07:06 pm
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Don't waste your money. It would be tolerable at half the price, but at that point it wouldn't be any better than The Keg. The caesar salad was decent, but nothing remarkable. The wine list was extensive but overpriced. I hate steak and my wife had fish. The steak was good, but no better than any one of numerous other establishments. The fish was overcooked - dry and tough. Frankly, for this kind of money, I'd rather splurge on great steaks, fresh salmon, great wine, and bbq it all at home.

Also, the service was leisurely and not overly friendly.
Mike P / December 3, 2011 at 11:42 am
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Someone who hates steak really shouldn't be commenting on the steak at an accredited steak house. Octagon steaks are melt in your mouth masterpieces. I think they are aged in house for 35 days or something with their own rub. Also their seafood is nearly unbeatable. Lunchtime offers fantastic prices. I went for my birthday with 2 other people and with beers is was under 100$ Thats good in my books.
Whats with the905 / April 11, 2012 at 09:17 am
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This place is a relic of an era bygone but really, there is much better steak in the CITY of TORONTO which this WEBSITE is supposed to be covering.

milo / April 11, 2012 at 09:37 am
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too bad this place is in the middle of no where and would cost me more in time and fuel than the meal.

maybe you should post about a steak house in Nunuvut since it's equally as likely someone will make the trek there.
lulz / April 11, 2012 at 10:39 am
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blogbarrie.com
MSigs / April 11, 2012 at 11:09 am
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Dorothy Manthooth was a saint!!!
Hatsu / April 11, 2012 at 11:13 am
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What these photos need, is higher colour saturation.
Lucas replying to a comment from Hatsu / April 11, 2012 at 11:48 am
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At least it is a better than blogto passing 'instagram' photos off in reviews as they have recently done.
JGHfx replying to a comment from milo / April 11, 2012 at 01:37 pm
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Yeesh. You'd think the Octagon was in Oakville rather than five minutes north of Steeles. I used to live about a 10 minute walk from the restaurant - my elementary school is right across the street on Yonge - but somehow have never been there. I do remember when it burned to the ground years ago and had to rebuilt. Maybe I should make a point of going there, the cost of "fuel" notwithstanding.
Saturated replying to a comment from Hatsu / April 11, 2012 at 02:19 pm
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Needs to be HDR, toy cam'd and then miniaturized too.
Brandon / April 11, 2012 at 03:41 pm
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What's the deal with those "home fries"? Those are the same ones you get at Messini when you order their feta fries. For the cost of the meal, you'd think they'd have a bit better quality fries. At least at Messini the feta, oil and oregano cover the cheapness of the processed potatoes.
Jojo / April 11, 2012 at 03:53 pm
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Thanks for the review... I really enjoyed eating there last week. I like the table-side service and their steak rub. I'm certainly going to get a special coffee there next time. that looks wicked!
Mr. Potato should be fielding this but... replying to a comment from Brandon / April 11, 2012 at 03:59 pm
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Who goes to a steakhouse for the fries?
HUK replying to a comment from Mr. Potato should be fielding this but... / April 11, 2012 at 06:33 pm
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It's the quality of ingredients that're in question. If they can't be arsed to cut, parboil and cook real potatoes, what else are they cutting corners on? Is the meat from Sysco too?
Serge / April 11, 2012 at 08:50 pm
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This is one of those absolute classic restaurants people forget about, but it's good to know will always be around. Basically the fancy counterpart to Golden Star down the street.
Serge / April 11, 2012 at 08:51 pm
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Oh, and on location -- are people serious? Barrie? Nunavut? Like the guy upstairs said, this is not freaking Oakville. It's about 10 minutes north of Finch subway, and closer to downtown than most of Scarborough or Etobicoke.
Karachi Eats / April 12, 2012 at 04:02 am
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Definitely I am gonna visit The Octagon.
Wazoo / April 12, 2012 at 02:36 pm
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I agree with all the comments. So many steakhouses that are better then this place. They've really lost their way. Everything is fine. But who wants fine at a steakhouse!
JR / April 12, 2012 at 07:27 pm
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.....how can a wooden bowl be well-seasoned?
R / April 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm
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This is a classic Toronto restaurant. Absolutely deserves to be reviewed. Just because it isn't in the downtown core doesn't mean it isn't worthy. The Caesar Salad is hands down the best in the city. The Keg comparison suggests someone doesn't know the difference between chain mediocrity and tradition.
Mark Rich replying to a comment from JR / April 16, 2012 at 02:56 pm
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Hey JR,

A wooden bowl takes about a year of constant use, or proper "seasoning" prior to use. Oils soak into the wood to provide a much more organic environment than a wax or lacquer coated bowl.

When you grind ingredients into a bowl that has been sealed with chemicals or wax, that artificial surface is scraped into the food. When you scrape the oil-treated wood into the food you end up with a more organic / earthy flavour. This is why we never use steel/metal bowls for salad dressing preparation.

It really does make a difference. Google-up different salad-bowl seasoning techniques and give them a try.
Sarah / April 17, 2012 at 11:14 am
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I went to highschool right around the corner and had my convocation dinner there with my parents - they even made the Valet guy go drop me off at the school as I needed to be there earlier than them and they didn't want to hurry their meal!

I definitely remember when it burned down and I desperately wanted to climb up the sign and alter it to read "Ocat/GonE"
1up / July 19, 2013 at 01:03 pm
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I can't stand when people go to sit down at a quality steakhouse and complain about the price. Especially when the food is phenomenal. For anyone that disagrees with the quality and taste of the food at this place doesn't know shit about food. No matter what, people are going to complain because they're mad at themselves for driving so "far" or spending "so much" money on top quality steak. What a bunch of whiners!
Ok replying to a comment from Nicholas / March 10, 2014 at 07:35 pm
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Umm, that's why they have been around longer than you've likely been alive, right? Including rebuilding after the original restaurant burned to the ground in the 90's.

Get real, enjoy your Keg garbage.
Right replying to a comment from Whats with the905 / March 10, 2014 at 07:36 pm
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There is a world outside your little bubble south of Bloor, kid.

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