Tag Archives: Toronto

The Senator Restaurant is a Classic for a Reason

The Senator Restaurant in downtown Toronto

Hello there! My name is Clare Jenkins and I am one of the new interns at SQM Inc.  This week, I am taking over David Lipton’s Blog, SQM Picks.

A few weeks ago, my friend and I were debating where we could go for a good breakfast in the downtown core.  We were pretty hungry, so I suggested eating at The Senator Restaurant. For transparency purposes, I am an employee of The Senator Restaurant but have never eaten breakfast there until this day.

The Senator Restaurant is a cool, old school diner, that makes you feel like you are being transported back in time as you walk through the entrance. It is the oldest standing restaurant in Toronto and it is nestled next to the Jazz bistro and situated across the street from the Ed Mirvish Theatre on the corner of Victoria and Dundas.

There is no question as to why The Senator has been around for so long! The Senator welcomes all guests and has an old fashioned charm resembling the diners of the 1940’s. Guests enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, comfortable seating, tasty food, and the quick and friendly service.

The dinner menu provides guests with an array of old-fashioned comfort food including: classic meatloaf, chicken pot pie, liver and onions, and burgers. My favourite items on the dinner menu are the macaroni and cheese and the roasted beet salad with citrus dressing.

Considering I had never eaten breakfast at the Senator, I asked our server what he would recommend and Alan suggested I try the eggs Benedict with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Since I’m a sucker for seafood, I opted for their smoked salmon Benedict. The best part? They smoke the stuff in-house! My benny was served on a homemade biscuit with runny poached eggs and a tangy, yet buttery and smooth hollandaise sauce that made me forget all the times I promised myself my summer body was the most important thing.

The Senator is a fantastic place to take the entire family. The meals leave you feeling warm and satisfied and can be modified for children and adults. If you plan to go in the evening, make sure you book a reservation, since they get really busy catering to theatre goers, students, families, and their regulars of twenty plus years.  If you do have to wait, make sure you check out some of their original menus, which list steak at 99 cents! Tasty food, fast service and an old school charm, definitely makes this place worth the wait.

The Senator Restaurant
(416) 364-7517
www.thesenator.com

 

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Thai It Once And You’ll Be Sure To Thai It Again!

Photograph of Thai food from Nana & Khao San Road

I work in the restaurant industry and like to consider myself a foodie since I get to eat out a lot.  One of the things I have lamented in more recent times is that there is nothing different out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve eaten tasty food at lots of establishments but nothing has really excited me in a long time. That was, until I came across Nana and rediscovered Khao San Road.

Both Khao San Road and Nana are owned by Monte Wan. Monte is pleasant, down to earth, and can always be found helping staff and engaging with customers. During my dining experiences at both restaurants, Monty usually makes an appearance. The first time I met Monte, I thought he was a friendly fellow customer asking us how our meal was. To my surprise, I discovered the man holding a beer and checking in on our table was in fact the owner. Now, whenever I go to either restaurant, Monte personally welcomes me back.

The food at each location is truly special. Both restaurants serve traditional Thai food with a twist and the cuisine always blows me away! Not to sound like a food critic, but the flavour profiles in the food are seriously incomparable.  I’ve tried many of their signature dishes including the Bangkok-style Pad Thai, the Red/Yellow Curry, and the fresh rolls and to this day, I have never been disappointed.

The menus are easy to read and affordable. One other thing to note about the menus – while they are somewhat different at each restaurant, certain menu items at Khao San Road are available at Nana during different times of the week. The restaurants ambiance transports guests to Bangkok’s entertainment district through good music and décor.

Finally, I have to mention the great service.  The staff are always pleasant to deal with, very knowledgeable, highly accommodating, and willing to take the time to suggest items on the menu.

While I have been to Khao San Road’s new location, the last time I ate at Nana was when the Tragically Hip played their last concert in Kingston. I was out for dinner with some friends and was a little disappointed I was going to miss the show (after all, the whole country shut down that evening!) but about 10-15 minutes before the concert, the staff lowered a screen behind the bar and streamed the whole show for all of the customers to enjoy. It really created a nice community feeling with the other customers at the restaurant and everyone left happy.

If you’re ever looking for a great meal, love Thai food and want to try something a little different, check out these two amazing restaurants. You won’t leave hungry, but you will leave happy.

Nana
647-352-5773 x 2
www.stnnana.com

Khao San Road
647-352-5773 x 1
www.khaosanroad.ca

 

 

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Putting the Sunny Into Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Last year I wrote about Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre when my father was taken there after a car accident. Fortunately, my fathers visit only involved a short stay in the emergency room. In more recent times, my aunt fell and broke her hip and was transported to Sunnybrook by ambulance. Unfortunately, this was not a three or four hour visit but ended up involving surgery and a stay as an inpatient.

During this time, I saw firsthand how Sunnybrook’s outstanding service and commitment to health care extends far beyond the emergency room. Whether it be the Emergency Room nurses, the orthopaedic surgeon, the ward administrator, ward nurses, dietitians, and a host of other staff, Sunnybrook takes it upon themselves to ensure extra special attention and care is taken for elderly patients. The staff went above and beyond accommodating special requests such as finding my aunt food that would meet her needs, answering my numerous questions and taking the time to provide me with updates so that the family would feel as comfortable as possible.

Perhaps the most surprising sign, of how in tune Sunnybrook employees are with the needs of the people who come through their doors, can be exemplified by my interaction with the security guard working in the emergency room. While most security guards would have just sat there being seen and not heard, this gentleman said, “I hope your day gets better,” as I was leaving. His comment clearly showed compassion when dealing with people and it demonstrated that he understood if somebody was in the ER, they were probably not having a great day.

In a time when health care professionals consistently blame a lack of government funding for an inability to do their jobs, I never once heard such comments or got that feeling from any of the employees working at Sunnybrook.

The only thing that could have made my experience better would be better parking rates and longer business hours at the Tim Hortons in the hospital!

To the Sunnybrook Medical Team, thank you for all you do!

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
416-480-6100
www.sunnybrook.ca

 

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Sky High Customer Service

Recently Southwest Airlines was named as one of the Top Ten Most Admired Companies in the World, by Fortune Magazine. With that being said, I believe Southwest Airlines is a great company and I would like to share my recent travel experience with you. For transparency purposes, SQM does do business with Southwest Airlines and I know people who work for the company.

Years ago I started flying with Southwest Airlines because they had a reputation of being a low-cost carrier. Even though they aren’t always considered low cost, these days, I believe that the company still has a great reputation! Today they are known for providing travelers with very good customer service, empathetic employees who genuinely care about their customers and front-line workers who enjoy serving the public.

A few weeks ago I experienced Southwest Airlines recipe for success when my daughter and I became stranded at the Orlando International Airport due to bad weather. While we were waiting in line to speak with a Southwest employee, I noticed the staff made it a point to ensure that every customer was taken care of before the employees left the gate area. Considering we were all tired and upset, the employees did a great job ensuring each customer received the time and attention he / she deserved.

When I reached the front of the line, the employees made me feel like they cared about my situation and wanted to help. Together, the employees came up with a solution to get myself and my daughter to where the rest of my family was located (Buffalo). In addition to rebooking my flight as early as possible, they went above and beyond the call, to help me find a hotel for the night when they learned I was having difficulty finding one and noticed that my daughter was exhausted and upset. Within a few minutes they provided me with some contact information and I spoke to someone who gave us a very nice room and a special “stranded traveler’s” rate.

While there are many times in business where a customer is left feeling like they are just another number, I really felt like the Southwest employees added the personal touch to this difficult situation, making me feel valued and appreciated.

For those of you living in Canada, close to the border, I truly believe it is worth a short drive to the US to fly with Southwest Airlines. Southwest is a great company to fly with and I am confident that you will enjoy your travels.

Southwest Airlines
1-800-I-FLY-SWA
www.southwest.com

 

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How Starbucks Became my “Third Place”

Starbucks Secret Menu

When it comes to my caffeine fix, I will admit that I love Tim Hortons and always go there for my morning coffee. The coffee tastes great and I find it less expensive than many coffee shops.

That said, in more recent times, my visits to Starbucks have become more regular, since my wife and daughter enjoy a number of their drinks, including their “Secret Frappuccino Menu”. In addition, over the last few months, my daughter has asked me to take her to the local Starbucks so she can sip on a beverage and relax in the “big cozy chairs” after a day of skating or other fun activities.

Since I began sharing these experiences with my daughter, I have started to appreciate the Starbucks experience even more. Currently, I frequent my local Starbucks to catch up with friends, have informal business meetings, or get work done without the distractions encountered at my home or office. In fact, between the big cozy chairs, the free Wi-Fi, and some nice music playing, I’m wondering if I really need an office anymore!

During a recent visit, I was surprised to observe how many of the customers at the Bathurst and Joicey location were regulars. What was even more surprising, is how the employees knew many of these people by name, regardless of whether they were a manager, full-time or part-time employee. In addition to the personal touch, I also like how this location usually has seats available. Whether it’s the big cozy chairs, a table for two, or space at the communal desk, they have room for everyone!

I remember Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks saying that his goal was to have Starbucks be the “Third Place” in our lives…home being the first, work second and Starbucks third. Given my recent experiences, I see what he means, and I think that he might have succeeded.

So if you have some time to kill, want to catch up with friends, relax with a book, do some work, or just sip on a tasty drink, check out your local Starbucks.

Starbucks
1-800-782-7282
www.starbucks.ca

 

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Walmart’s Improving Customer Service

While many people shop at Walmart for deals based on low prices (but even that is debatable), I have never heard of anyone recognizing them for providing excellent customer service.  Today, I am going to do just that!

Over the holidays, we were cleaning out my daughter’s dresser drawers and came across a Walmart bag with a new pair of snow pants (with the tags still on) that were purchased last year.  Seeing how my daughter grows really quickly, these brand new snow pants no longer fit, so I decided to take a shot in the dark and brought the snow pants with me on my next trip to Walmart at Bathurst and Centre, to see if I could return them.

Surprisingly, despite it being a busy time of year, the line moved quite quickly.  When I got to the front of the line, I told the woman working that I did not have the receipt, so she tried looking up the snow pants in the system but couldn’t find them.  She then called over a manager who took the pants into the back room and returned saying the item would now scan into the system.  The woman immediately processed the return and gave me a store credit for the value of the pants.

Completely unrelated, a couple days later, my dad gave me a call and told me the bundle buggie I bought him three months earlier was broken since a wheel had fallen off.  I picked up the buggie and took it back to Walmart where I ironically spoke with the same woman who helped me with the snow pants.  She told me to go into the store, grab a new buggie and come back to her desk to process the exchange even though I did not have the receipt….again!

When I returned to her desk, she called over the manager to authorize the exchange, who did so immediately, and within a few minutes I was once again on my way…..and very pleased with how things were handled.

I must say how impressed I am with the employees and managers working at Walmart.  In less than a week, I had two great customer service experiences that demonstrate Walmart stands behind their products.  If Walmart continues to get their customer service right, they are going to be an even more successful company than they already are.

Walmart Canada
1-800-328-0402
www.walmart.ca

 

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Stellar Cellular is Truly Stellar!

Photo of Stellar Cellular's Storefront

Stellar Cellular is a small tech repair shop, located down on College Street near Bathurst.  The shop specializes in fixing mobile phones, tablets and computers, and is owned by Richard Martin, who always goes above and beyond to ensure his customers leave happy.  In 2014, I wrote about Richard when he fixed my Blackberry and gave me back the money I paid him because he felt badly that I had to drive to the store a few times before the service was complete.

Over the recent holiday season, Richard went above and beyond the call to help me, so I felt that I should once again let everyone know what a great business he runs.

Around 5 pm, on the Friday before New Years Eve my wife began having problems with her IPhone where she couldn’t hear anything unless it was on the speaker phone setting.  I told my wife not to worry and I immediately called Richard down at the store.

Since I had a positive experience in the past, I knew Stellar Cellular was where I was going to take my wife’s phone, but I had no idea what time he closes.  When I spoke with Richard that Friday night he told me he was closing up the shop in a few minutes, but asked me how far away I was from the store.  I told him I was about 15 minutes away and he said he would wait for me so he could look at the phone.

Upon arrival, Richard quickly diagnosed and fixed my wife’s phone.  He then realized there was a second problem and he was able to fix it within 30 minutes after we arrived.  When Richard handed the phone back to my wife, she breathed a big sigh of relief.

Let’s be clear though…..not to paint everyone with the same brush, but very few businesses would stay open, on a Friday night….let alone on a holiday weekend….to help their customers out.  Richard has always had the attitude of doing whatever it takes to take care of his customers, and this situation was not a rare event, but a common occurrence based on the way that he conducts business…..well done!

I’m really glad I discovered Stellar Cellular and highly recommend them if you ever need to get your phone repaired.  Their prices are quite reasonable, their staff are very knowledgeable, of course, Richard will do whatever he can to make sure you leave happy.

Stellar Cellular
647-350-7755
www.stellarcellular.ca

 

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