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Restaurants

The Tulip: 80 Years of Steak-Searing Expertise at Work

Posted by Tanja / Reviewed on September 26, 2007 / review policy

Roasted Shoulder of Lamb Special
Somewhere between Leslieville and The Beaches lies a modest strip of Queen East where The Tulip's big yellow sign (or at least two-thirds of it) light up the street. The steakhouse might not seem like much in passing, but having heard great things, I decided to look past the faded facade as I stopped in for dinner with some friends.

We're seated quickly as our waitress rushes off to serve other tables. The place is hoppin' and she forgets us for a while, but we're busy making decisions and marvelling over the prices on this menu anyhow. Most seem too good to be true. Something's got to give, right?

When the orders arrive we find that the ingredients may not be very fancy and the presentation certainly lacks any sort of frill, but the food is quite simply excellent.

Pictured at the top, the Roasted Shoulder of Lamb ($9.70) weekend special, is so soft and moist it falls apart at the touch of a fork. Most of us steal a piece of the dish as there was plenty to go around. Served alongside veggies and a side of potatoes, it was an absolute bargain.

Chicken Parmigiana

Ontario Turkey Sandwich
Chicken Parmigiana ($9.95) and an open-faced Hot (Ontario) Turkey Sandwich ($8.95) make for happy white-meat eaters. The turkey is particularly fantastic as it features a stack of both white and juicy dark meat along with buttery smashed potatoes.

Regular Burger at the Tulip><br />
From the burger menu, a 6.5 oz Regular Burger with cheese ($4.65) (Jumbo also available) is plenty filling.  The burger was really thick, yet oh-so-juicy and paired with some of the crispiest fries in recent memory.</p>

<p><img src=
For the lean-minded diner, a Pan Fried Filet of Sole ($10.50) is light and flavourful, yet generously portioned with two filets and two sides.

Yes, of course, we ordered the steak.

Steak Sandwich
The Tulip has been serving up ye old steak and potatoes for nearly 80 years and it shows. A 12 oz Black Angus N.Y. Sirloin ($21.95) and 8 oz Steak Sandwich ($6.25) knock the socks off even the pickiest steak snobs.

12 oz Black Angus N.Y. Sirloin
The N.Y. Sirloin appeared a little bare on the dish, paired only with a couple scoops of mashed potatoes, and a slice of tomato and onion but quickly proved to be seared to medium-rare perfection and tasty as hell.

I'd go so far as to call my friend Ron, who ordered the dish, a steak connoisseur and when he looks up from his plate wide-eyed and says,

"This is EASILY one of the tastiest steaks I have ever eaten!" well, I take him seriously.

Before finishing, he was already professing that he'd be back to try out the Porterhouse. You can bet I'll be joining him.

The Tulip Steakhouse, 1610 Queen Street East in Toronto

Discussion

33 Comments

uwajedi / September 26, 2007 at 11:56 am
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But how were the mashed potatoes? I expect you've become a spud connoisseur by now.
Tanja / September 26, 2007 at 12:03 pm
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Good!! Hah... More on those in the final edition of the Best mashed potato hunt... will be posting it next week. :)
bob / September 26, 2007 at 04:52 pm
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I went there a couple years ago, i forget now what i had ordered, but i do remember it being absolutely horrible. maybe i'll go back to give it another shot.
Allison Lynn / September 27, 2007 at 05:40 pm
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I have been going to the Tulip restaurant for a great number of years, either by myself or with a few friends. I must say that the food is astonishing, not to mention their prices and ever so friendly service. The only negative comment i can make about this restaurant would be that the owner seems to be very aburbt with his staff, by yelling at them sometimes. That aside i give the Tulip two thumbs way up!!
Kiko / September 27, 2007 at 07:00 pm
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The Tulip serves the best quality food for the cheapest prices. The proportions are massive and there is a great selection! The Tulip does not limit its expertise to only steaks but also mastering other dishes presented on the menu. As mentioned in the article, the place is usually busy and it is very understandable that a server can lose track. I am sure that it was not in the waitress' intention to ignore anybody. All in all, The Tulip is by far my favourite restaurant, hands down!
Bub / September 27, 2007 at 07:59 pm
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Being a customer at The Tulip for a number of years, I always find myself going back to enjoy a delicious meal. The service at The Tulip is simply amazing. The employees there are always friendly and ready to serve our needs. Having been to other restaurants in the city, The Tulip restaurant serves the best quality foods at the cheapest prices. It is no wonder why I return to The Tulip to satisfy my hunger.
Sasha / September 27, 2007 at 09:25 pm
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Having been to The Tulip a numerous amount of times in the past, I've always recommended friends to check out this quaint little eatery as well. They've all come back to me telling me how amazing the food was and still is! I've noticed, as well as them, that the place is always busy, but the service is still better than anywhere else I've ever been! I'm always patient when it comes to The Tulip because I know the wait is always worth it. Deelish!
PW / September 27, 2007 at 11:06 pm
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The food is generally pretty good in a very filling, homey, stick to your ribs kind of way. The prices are very good.

Steaks are excellent. And the steak and eggs ($10 I think) is the best in town hands down...I secretly think its the same striploin they charge you $20 for for dinner...mmmmm
Rhoda / September 28, 2007 at 07:00 pm
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I can say firsthand that the food at The Tulip is truly the most amazing, price wise, quality wise and exceptionally taste wise.It's about time this little restuarant got the recognition it truly deserves. Kudos to the staff it may seem a long wait to some but that's understandable I've seen them at work and it can get pretty busy in there but they always get the job done and make you want to come back to The Tulip.
mr.g / September 28, 2007 at 09:56 pm
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aside from the;down-home, clean-cut diner style of the place,five(5)star(*)food-service,at three(3)star(*)prices,kudos...
IanV / October 2, 2007 at 06:44 pm
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When I first moved here to go to RyeHigh, my new pal Jeremy took me here. I'll never forget how good that steak was, and how it felt like I was being introduced to one of those cool, "secret" spots that only true locals know about. Since then (14 yrs ago! eek! I'm old!) I've taken lots of friends from out of and in town there and never been disappointed by the food. Sure the service is spotty at best, but damn, those steaks are truly the best bang for your beef-eating buck anywhere in the city.
St Itch / October 2, 2007 at 09:10 pm
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Those pictures of the food look great...are they real photos of the food or just stock photos?
The lamb looks amazing...
Tanja / October 5, 2007 at 01:55 pm
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St Itch - they're real photos of the food we devoured... photography is my dayjob.;)
Sean / April 16, 2008 at 08:27 am
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Two thumbs up! Wish I had more!

This restaurant is the reason why I've stopped going to the franchises. Let's support privately owned establishments such as the Tulip.

The Tulip rocks.
catherine / September 22, 2008 at 11:03 am
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I had a VERY disturbing dinner at the Tulip last evening.
we were there early - 4:30ish and witnessed the son of the long time owner throw out a rather elderly man - because he came in alone and wanted to know why he wouldn't be seated - the waiter said it was policy that singles could not have a table during the dinner rush (there ware maybe 8 other tables occupied at the time) - the man, who was soft spoken & polite said he had been a customer for over 30 years and he didn't understand that policy - the owner came barrelling out of the kitchen and HOLLERED at him that it was "his damn restaurant and he could make any policy he dam well wanted and the man had to get out - right now".
I was so upset by that I couldn't eat - I approached the 'owner' and quietly said that I had been a customer of his parent's for as long as I could remember and that I thought his mother would have been appalled at the way he treated one of her customers. He yelled at me that I had no business interfering in his restaurant and that I had no right to talk about his mother that way (maybe he doesn't understand what appalled means) and then a woman who works started yelling at me that his mother was dead and that I was not good enough to eat in their restaurant and I had to pay my bill & get out!
Note, she said pay my bill!
We left and will never go back!

My Dad used to take me there for breakfast every Sat morning when I was growing up - I'm now retired and various friends & I have dinner there 2 or 3 times a month.
The old marketing thing - a happy customer comes back and an unhappy customer tells at least 20 people!
I wish this man luck with HIS restaurant.
Catherine
Jeff / November 3, 2008 at 01:32 pm
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I must have gone in on an off day because I found the service terrible. I was ignored for 15 minutes at my table until I left. Granted, they were busy, but someone should have been by to say 'Hi'. The waiter in my section decided to set empty tables instead of serve my table.

Disappointed, was looking to try the Eggs Benny.
Alex / December 26, 2008 at 12:10 pm
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Thanks Catherine. I'm not eating there anymore. i hate cranky resto owners.
Cheryl / January 7, 2009 at 02:17 pm
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My husband and I, along with another couple had dinner at the Tulip on New Year's Eve. The service was reasonably good and the room quickly filled up as we were dining. I ordered the steak and it was absolutely cooked to perfection, just the way I described it to the waiter. But, I must add that the rest of the meal was mediocre at best. The fries were pale, pasty and uninviting and the vegetables were overcooked and left a lot to be desired. The salad was comparable to something you would find in a cafeteria. I think I might return because we did enjoy the meat portion of the meal, however, with a little imagination and effort they could transform the whole meal experience into something more memorable.
bill replying to a comment from catherine / March 9, 2009 at 08:21 pm
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I eat there all the time and perhaps you don't know about the entire situation that occured that night or the history the guy might have had at the restuarant. If he was a customer for 30 years then he should've known the policy about single people sitting at Booths during busy periods, which is where he wanted to sit. I know of the new owner and he's seem to be the best addition to the Tulip staff. He's a kind soul and I do know for a fact that it takes quite a lot to get him riled up. So don't allow anyone to make decisions on your behalf, the Tulip has amazing food and the prices are quite good too, so give it a try and make up your own mind.
I'm sure you'll be a regular after your first visit.
Axel replying to a comment from catherine / March 24, 2009 at 11:08 am
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Witnessed the same thing about 2 weeks ago, turfed an older man for no
cause other than being alone.
Very disturbing, set us off our food and made us leave. Sure biz is biz, but you gotta deal with the public in a genteel manner.
Bobbie replying to a comment from catherine / May 3, 2009 at 09:55 am
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Thanks for the heads up. I'm not a fan of supporting rude owners. That's definitely another lost customer.
Marbly / October 13, 2009 at 01:32 pm
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"A 12 oz Black Angus N.Y. Sirloin ($21.95) and 8 oz Steak Sandwich ($6.25) knock the socks off even the pickiest steak snobs."

Do you mean sirloin, or N.Y. Strip (striploin)? I've never heard of a NY Sirloin before.
Randy / November 4, 2009 at 10:45 pm
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I have always enjoyed my food at the Tulip. The staff are great, except for one waiter, a white guy, overweight, about 40. He is always flustered, always forgetful, and kinda rude. If you go, wait in the enteranceway for a moment to see which section he is serving, then to to the OTHER end of the restaurant -- you'll get much better service.
SARAH / February 21, 2010 at 07:24 pm
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The service was fast even though they were super busy, our steaks were cooked exactly right with lots of free bread and a starter salad..huge slabs of oinion and tomataoes and the mashed potatoes were perfect. I wouldn't reccomend the cheese/shrimp appetizer as it was nothing more than greasy melted cheese on like 3 or 4 shrimps..nothing special.
Jenny / March 18, 2010 at 12:20 am
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I used to work at the tulip, and the food there is great, that is one thing I can say, and the prices are quite astonishing. THIS IS THE WORST PLACE IN THE WORLD TO WORK. The manager is constantly calling the servers stupid and yelling at them in front of customers, she has gone as far as to hit me. Please, if you have a humane bone in your body, do not support this buisness. Eating here is like shopping at Walmart.
queenie / May 2, 2010 at 11:09 am
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I have no tolerance for anyone being rude to elderly people. The food at this place is not remarkable enough for me to consider returning after hearing about how they treat their customers and staff. They really, really lack in presentation as well. When I dine out, I want to see the establishment at least try to make an impression on the plate. I've never understood why people flock here. The place is in dire need of an extreme makeover.
Riverdale CI / July 26, 2010 at 04:40 am
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My friends and I have been going there for about 10 years since high school. We’ve always found the service to be good and the food to be excellent. And as students there was much value for what you get. Unfortunately the service hasn’t been all that satisfactory during my last few visits. I haven’t been able to order what I want because they seem to run out of one thing or another.

Today, my friends and I were seated promptly in the semi empty restaurant. The waiter took his time (15 minutes) to make his way to our table and without water. I ordered the Sunday special and at which time the waiter indicated they’re out of veggies and order will come with coleslaw. No problem… I then proceeded to ask for mash potatoes as one of the order option and once again was told my non apologetic waiter that they're out of mash potatoes and the only option available was French fries. Ok… no problem… My friend asked if our bread could be toasted (all the orders come with bread). Well… they ran out of bread. Moments after hashing out the order the waiter returns to tell me that they’re out of the Sunday Special...

I don’t expect a restaurant to always have everything on the menu but I’ve never seen it this bad. It’s unlikely that my friends and I will return. It’s such a shame… They had something good going…

PS. Just shortly after my friends and I were seated, a couple stormed out shouting at a staff member that the pervious owners were “better”. I could see who they were shouting at but the staff member saw it fit to exchange profanities… Very unprofessional…
Brian / May 8, 2011 at 05:40 pm
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We moved into the local neighbourhood about a year and a half ago, and we have eaten at the Tulip twice now. The second time we ate there was because I believed they deserved a second chance, as the first visit provided decent food, but in a questionable environment. However, the second visit proved even less impressive than the first visit.
While the prices are good the food quality is decent at best, but the state of the condiment containers they put on the table are so disgusting dirty, old and reused that they seem unsanitary, and they actually make the food seem unappetizing overall.
In our last visit, (and I do mean last visit), to this restaurant I did make a comment to the wait staff regarding the quality of my meal in particular, which went no further than the waiter's ears. When I asked to speak with a manager I understood why that was. After speaking with the manager I felt a little guilty, and almost fearful for the waiter due to the manner in which the manager openly dealt with the situation in general.
I understand that this restaurant had a very good reputation for quality and value at one time, but I'm sorry to report that my experiences with this restaurant in recent times say that time was long ago, and far away from its quality today.
Steve replying to a comment from queenie / November 27, 2011 at 04:21 pm
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God I hope it doesn't get an "Extreme Makeover". There's too many overpriced, nose in the air steakhouses around. The downtown "The Keg" locations are no longer comfortable. They've made them over, including moving the awesome one on Church st. around the corner and making it modern and uncomfortable. But maybe that's the thing. The new Kegs don't appeal to old people, but they probably don't want to.
Terry / February 28, 2013 at 10:42 pm
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I too was a long time patron of the Tulip. Been eating there since highschool, over twenty some odd years. However found things have gone terribly wrong over the last few years. On my last two visits, was served a unevenly cooked freezer burnt steak. Service was also very bad. Yes, I was dumb enough to give them a second chance. The old tulip with it's 70's dated decor served amazing steaks at a great price, but something was definately lost when they renovated. Sorry I won't be back either.
Kelsie / March 25, 2013 at 10:11 pm
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Have been to the Tulip a few times over the past 2 years and I am overall very unimpressed. Looking past the crusty decor and dirty condiments on the tables, the food is unimpressive. But even lacklustre food I could deal with but my last visit to the Tulip was definitely my last. The complimentary bread that comes with every meal was covered in shattered glass which unfortunately I didn't notice before biting into. Ouch. I descretely told the waiter what had happened and not only did he not apologize, he was downright rude, basically accusing me of lying, "well I don't know how that could have happened, there's no glass here." He did not apologize, didn't even bring more bread and actually said "well you don't have to eat it." Thanks tips. Will never eat there again.
Alysha / April 22, 2014 at 09:27 pm
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The Tulip is a neighbourhood staple and family friendly environment. Casual, comfortable and the food is always good/very reasonably priced. We recently started going more frequently, thanks to Spencer. Spencer is a dad and understands the sense of urgency with toddlers. Dinner is so relaxing thanks to Spencer's insight. Spencer's exceptional - attentive, personable, friendly and such a pleasure to be around - a genuine friend and familiar (enjoyable) face to see. Thank you Spencer, Ethan and I really appreciate your hospitality - the Tulip is better thanks to you!
Carol / July 23, 2014 at 10:05 am
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I lived in the neighbourhood and I had fond memories going there with my daughter. It was homey with good food. Today I saw a Groupon special and decided to check the reviews- what happened. The owner needs to read these reviews- bad food and worse ill treatment of customers both new and loyal old customers being yelled at and thrown out. If this is the case more than one review they better do a big housekeeping or go out of business and maybe they will learn. Reading reviews upset me so much I will never go back!

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