SPAHA (66 Harbord, at Spadina, 416-260-6133) Complete meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pint. Average main $9. Open daily 10:30 am to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier free. Rating: N
Four youths walk into Spaha, survey the smattering of middle-aged customers and flee. If there was a scene here when it opened in 2000, it's now a curtain call, and an above-average menu has been replaced with dull pub grub.
It's difficult to reconcile the sleek interior design with a clunky, mediocre menu.
Thinking Spaha is now trying to please more students, we decide to sample the Avenue Classic ($7.95) and Jumbo Veggie ($7.95) burgers.
Our server can't enlighten us on the composition of the latter, admitting that the box it came in lists no ingredients besides soy.
When we protest that the cheddar we requested has failed to appear, said burger is removed and arrives back several minutes later with two processed cheese slices slapped on top, warmed only to the rubbery stage. There's no excuse for fake cheese on an $8 burger. The beef version doesn't stand up either; it's cooked bone dry and completely flavourless. The "grilled peppers" for 95 cents extra are in fact the pickled variety. The thin and crispy frites are the only decent thing on either plate.
Returning for a reluctant second sampling, we discover that the calamari ($7.95) is a stingy portion of soggy breaded squid rings. The smoked salmon and black olive pita pizza ($7.95) might have worked with feta instead of mozzarella, but with no pre-toasting of the whole wheat pita crust, it's a sodden mess.
Most entrees are in the $8 to $10 range, so there's no reason not to walk a block westward, where Latitude and Kensington Kitchen serve far better fare at comparable prices.