LIVING WELL CAFE (692 Yonge, at Charles, 416-922-6770) Complete meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a draft import. Open daily 11:30 am to midnight. Licensed. Access: washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The second we walk into living Well, it's clear the restaurant-bar is doing anything but.
It's dark. It smells like a chronic smoker in the first stages of detox, when 20 years' worth of chemicals begin oozing out of his pores.
The service is enthusiastic enough, though inconsistent: no one asks if we want more water or if we'd like dessert, and we have to get up and ask for the bill because the servers never check back after they deliver our order.
The starters start things off badly. A minuscule plate of too-crispy shoestring sweet potato fries ($3.99) served sans mayo or any other tasty dipping sauce is a sad example of something I usually adore.
Even more of a letdown are the crab cakes ($7.99). At that price we hoped for a little more crabmeat and less mushy filler. Even the tangy mustard-esque sauce can't save these textural disasters.
The mains arrive before we've even made it through the apps. Jumbo ravioli ($11.99) is al dente, the edges bordering on uncooked. But the squash stuffing and rosé sauce are tasty. Besides the seasoning on the slivers of chicken breast, we're still trying to figure where the Cajun salad ($8.95) gets its name. The huge plate of greens is full of mandarin oranges, cherry tomatoes and red onion, served with a balsamic vinaigrette.
More appropriately named is the Moroccan stew ($9.99), a hearty dish of moderately spiced, overcooked veggies and chickpeas with couscous in a tomato-based gravy. I suppose it's the closest thing to comfort food you can expect from a resto that seems to have trouble looking after itself.