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Restaurants

The Samuel J. Moore

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Listed on March 22, 2013 / review policy

The Samuel J. MooreThe Samuel J. Moore is a newly opened West Queen West eatery that pays homage to its 19th century digs by taking the name of its builder. The historic site was once home to Toronto's first west end YMCA (as well as some of history's first ever basketball games) before being privatized and later used to house The Toronto School of Art. Now, in its latest iteration, the idea is to restore its standing as a vibrant community hub.

The Samuel J. MooreThe decor, though lovely, was selected for its utilitarian merits, namely an ability to withstand near round the clock traffic. Tile floors and sturdy wood benches, marble tables and bistro chairs make for a comfortable and elegant room that's sparsely adorned with archival images commemorating highlights from the Great Hall's rich history.

The powerhouse team of owners includes Nav Sangha (Wrongbar, Riverside Public House), The Lakeview's Fadi Hakim and Alex Sengupta (also of Mr. Pong's and newly opened The Rude Boys) as well as first-time restaurateur, Sean Singh. In the kitchen, executive chef Alexandra Feswick (Brockton General) oversees a multitude of menus covering every meal of the day.

The Samuel J. MooreOn a recent weekday evening, we stop in to sample the introductory dinner menu starting with the Duck Carpaccio ($11), which is sliced paper thin and embellished with sweet, tender beets, pickled onions, radish seedlings and watercress before being dressed with olive oil and dotted with grainy mustard and pistachio dressing.

Samuel J. MooreUp next was the Burger ($18) which was unlike any I've ever had, Made from hand-chopped sirloin and marrow, it's almost like eating steak tartare in a brioche bun. It's ridiculously good, literally melting in my mouth and made richer still, by grainy mustard mayo and sharp stilton. A side of perfectly seasoned, rosemary and garlic tossed fries with accompanying fennel catsup completes the combo, instantly winning me over.

The Samuel J. MooreThe Pan Seared Halibut ($23) served atop a pile of sweet, braised red cabbage and topped with ribbons of fennel is thoughtfully composed. The skin is delicately crisped, the fish flaky but moist. And the swoosh of green goddess herb emulsion adds a little saucy texture when needed.

The Samuel J. MooreFrom behind the bar, Sean Radzio explains that you won't find any liqueurs in stock. The bar program foregoes any sort of synthetic flavour, focusing instead on using all fresh ingredients. Even seasonal kitchen ingredients will find their way in as pickled garnishes or shrubs (flavoured drinking vinegars).

Stop in cinq à sept for champagne cocktails and dollar oysters or opt for the signature cocktail, The Architect ($12) that sees rye whiskey, brandy, bitters and maple syrup combined, then topped with thick meringue and maple candy. Craft beers are available on tap too, but even more unique, bottles will soon be available in 750ml sharing sizes. The wine list is still a work in progress.

The Samuel J. MooreWith menus covering brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, as well as daytime and late night snacking, the Samuel J. Moore seems poised to become an all purpose go-to. Though Feswick notes that seasonal ingredients may sway the menu from time to time, the current focus is on establishing a roster of favourites that diners can count on.

The Samuel J. MoorePhotos by Morris Lum

Discussion

20 Comments

oh yes / March 22, 2013 at 08:23 am
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sunday brunch can't come quick enough...that BURGER!
Condo City / March 22, 2013 at 10:17 am
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Come on Toronto! That historic old building should really be developed! How about "converting" it into the Samuel J. Moore condos?
ok replying to a comment from Clare / March 22, 2013 at 10:19 am
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thanks for letting us all know
Robert replying to a comment from Condo City / March 22, 2013 at 11:08 am
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Another person who has no idea what a city is.
errrr replying to a comment from Robert / March 22, 2013 at 11:27 am
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I think they were being facetious.
steve / March 22, 2013 at 02:48 pm
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it's fine actually. the only people who can afford to eat an $18 meal likely live in condo's anyways.



raymes / March 22, 2013 at 04:24 pm
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Psyched, how fabulous.
Haji / March 22, 2013 at 04:47 pm
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$18 burgers?
Real community hub ya got going there.
mm / March 22, 2013 at 06:54 pm
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Haven't you heard, only the rich are allowed to have a community.
Scott Russell / March 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm
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I like nice restaurants as much as the next guy, and look forward to splurging on a fancy burger here some day - but please stop writing about these kinds of places like they're going to be neighbourhood hangouts. This is a "community hub" about as much as the places selling $12 shots are "dive bars".
Ar Son replying to a comment from Condo City / March 24, 2013 at 10:17 pm
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I'm on it sir.
Money Grows on Trees / March 26, 2013 at 01:49 am
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I've been looking for a place to drop $40 on a burger, fries. and drink. Looks like this is it!
reality check / March 27, 2013 at 09:43 am
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I'm going to play devil's advocate here. Does anyone in downtown Toronto honestly expect to go out for a decent sit down lunch and walk away with a bill for less than $30? This burger meal with tax is $21.08 and a Big Mac combo at Mcdonalds is 8$ with tax - so really this price point isn't surprising to me AT ALL. I'm not saying it's right, or that I enjoy it, but if I went to Loblaws, bought the ground meat and the toppings AND the fries - and then got a tall can at the beer store it would probably wind up costing you the same if not more. Life is overpriced period.
jen replying to a comment from reality check / March 27, 2013 at 02:20 pm
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If you went to Loblaws and got the beef, potatoes and toppings and such, you'd have enough food to make LOTS of burgers, not just one.
lover / March 28, 2013 at 01:49 am
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The world is about to get hit with another deep recession and foolish owners like these guys go out and mortgage their life away to open up a joint that serves $18 burgers and $23 fish dishes?

These are the same fools that I will have to bail out with my EI contributions while they go on welfare in another 6 months.

Wake up and smell the coffee if you think you will last in this industry.
APP / March 29, 2013 at 04:08 pm
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Was there last night. Just wanted drinks. A tip for the owners - please get rid of the bartender with the orange lips. She's clueless. And try not to update your bar menu on a busy Thursday night. Fortunately, Church was across the street.
Leo Mari / March 31, 2013 at 02:55 pm
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Um...this burger is exactly the same burger that The Queen and Beaver Public House has been serving up for the past 4 years to great acclaim, ketchup included. I think that Samuel J. Moore is copying their ideas.
Condos are not the answer replying to a comment from Condo City / May 6, 2013 at 03:49 pm
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How about shutting up and not trying to cram more garbage condos into an already over crowded market?

There's already more inventory than demand, prices are falling, fewer people are buying and the flood of new condos slated to be ready this year will make it even worse.

But you've got a great idea. Let's reno another perfectly useful building for businesses that's attached to long standing residences, kick them out, gut the building so only the fascia remains and make another condo in an area that's already over crowded with condos right beside Cam H. You're a genius that doesn't deserve to rot in hell for actively trying to destroy other people's lives.
SK / November 16, 2013 at 03:58 pm
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Purchased a Groupon for this place last night to try it out - I live in the area and like to check out places close by both for convenience and to support local businesses. Here's my review.

I purchased this deal for my boyfriend and I last night for us to go to dinner at Samuel J Moore. Finding the location and making the reservation was easy, the staff were friendly on the phone, even after mentioning that we were using a voucher (I find sometimes businesses treat you poorly after mentioning this).

Got there, were treated nicely up until we started receiving drinks/food.

Ordered drinks which were delicious but mine was a bit too strong for me (a brand/rum/liqueur mix, I think) so I asked for some orange juice or bar lime to cut through the alcohol a bit and dilute it. The server rebuffed my request by saying that the drink is meant to be sipped over a long period of time. I said I understand, but I'm driving and don't want to be drunk when I leave and that it is too strong and repeated my request for bar lime. She twisted her face at me and brought me lemon (even though I had asked for lime)... :(

The food was good overall but there was one small thing wrong or missing with each dish and my boyfriend and I consistently agreed on the the mistakes/wrongful components of each dish. Neither of us are professional food critics but he is a self-professed "foodie" and I have worked in the hospitality industry for most of my adult life so we can both comment with some merit.

Ordered mushrooms on toast for an appetizer which needed more salt and was served on whole wheat toast (not complimentary to mushrooms which are already earthy tasting) - the server asked us how it was and we didn't mention that it needed more salt (not wanting to be a problem table) but said how we both thought it was odd that they didn't use rye or a "whiter" bread to contrast the earthiness of the mushroom. She took it as a personal insult and blew us off like we were dumb going "Oh really, that's weird!" - like we were crazy for saying the dish wasn't perfect.

Essentially, repeats with everything brought to the table (with the exception of the steak frites). The salad needed more vinegar, which we shared when she asked us how it was and she again took offense (why would you ask if you're not open to possibly hearing a less than favorable response?)

She also spoke down to me when I declined wine (I'm not a wine drinker) and was very condescending going on about how she is a wine snob, partaking in discussion with my boyfriend about different types of wine and then turning to me and going "You'll understand one day if you ever decide to start drinking wine" and similar comments.

Overall, she made us both feel very badly and was condescending - not exactly what I'm looking for at a fine dining establishment. The manager/maitre'd was very polite but this still did not make up for the server's rudeness (didn't get her name but she is a petite brunette with a nose ring).

The whole experience left a sour taste in my mouth as it was still a $110 meal (also ordered cocktails) by the end of it (I tipped on the original value of the meal and gave her a $20 tip, which, in reflection of her attitude, she didn't really deserve) but having worked in hospitality for so long, I have a firm attitude on tipping.

Boyfriend and I would have come back if not for the snobbish attitude as the locale is BEAUTIFUL, the cocktail list imaginative, and the regular menu offers a wide variety food.

The fact that it was so expensive even with a voucher for food that wasn't quite on par with the atmosphere and pricing of the establishment and that I felt so belittled and made to feel so inferior as a customer was slightly revolting and it is for this reason that I am now seeking a refund.

I apologize for the lengthy writeup but I am actually quite upset with the whole experience and it now makes sense why the restaurant only had 6 tables on a Friday night... They treat their customers poorly!
J / June 15, 2014 at 09:58 am
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Well SK, The powerhouse team of owners includes Nav Sangha, Fadi Hakim, Alex Sengupta and, Sean Singh, I guess just couldn't do it.

Must be the location ;)

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