Restaurant: Signs Restaurant
Location: 558 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 1Z1
Price Range: $$
Upon knowing that Signs is the only restaurant in Toronto where all the servers are deaf and you will have to order using ASL (American Sign Language), my American tourist friend (LOL I’m sorry T) wanted to try it out when he visited Toronto. This restaurant’s concept is somewhat similar to O’Noir, however with the latter you are dining in complete darkness and it will challenge your taste buds.
It seem that there is usually a host or hostess here who acts as the translator between the customers and servers. After we were seated, the hostess promptly explained the concept of the restaurant, the ordering process and also a few basics sign language.
The restaurant was brightly lit and spacious with two sides of dining rooms. The decors and tables really gave this restaurant a family-style restaurant feel – if that make sense. The menu had drawings for each dish that taught you how to appropriately order with your servers. There were various cheat sheets on the table in case you wanted to ask for water, bills, or salt as well. However, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the menu nor the cheat sheets as they were copyrighted.
We tried to practice our order and memorize them before we attempted to order. To be honest it wasn’t an easy task, we didn’t want to be rude and just pointed at the menu! Although some of us failed miserably, the waiter was extremely patient with us, sort of laughed and taught everyone the correct way to sign for each dish.
For appetizer we decided to get the taro chips with guacamole, tomato sauce and sour cream to share. I thought it was an okay dish. Tomato sauce had no flavor, and the guacamole was really creamy but I wish there was more lime or something tangy to cut the fatty flavor of the avocado. The chips were lightly salted and since the chips were not too thin, they were the perfect vessels to hold the dips.
I thought the ravioli was decent with a good ratio of filling to dough. However the combination of enoki and shiitake (?) mushrooms didn’t really work for me. I felt the whole dish was too earthy and there was nothing else to balance the creamy butternut squash filling. It also had too much olive oil tossed with it so the ravioli were quite greasy.
LOL look at that picture quality…. My friend used his DSLR to take these pictures so the quality was obviously better than my dinky iPhone 6’s camera… sighs :(.
Here we have grilled salmon served on a bed of risotto for $26 and most of us were quite disappointed with this one… The salmon was dry and bland, and I couldn’t taste any of the miso marinate. The risotto was a bit mushy and I’m not sure what happened, but the rice had an overpowering artificial lemon fragrance. It was almost like eating a chopped up bar of lemon soap….I didn’t care too much for the sauce as it added no flavor to the salmon. With their asking price of $26, I can’t recommend this dish at all.
The butter chicken poutine was probably the best dish of the night. T wanted to try poutine wherever we went because you know, poutine is pretty much Canadian’s national dish and he’s American, eh? (LOL I’m sorry T if you are reading this).
For $12 the portion was pretty good and you are getting chunks of juicy and tender chicken. The fries were ok and nothing special, however the butter chicken sauce was delicious! With that said, the cheese curds didn’t fully melt so with every bites, you are not getting the squeaky and stringy cheese curds that you would often find in a poutine.
Though the food was average at most, it was really the experience and ambience here that make up for it. Personally I wouldn’t come back, however I still recommend everyone to try it out for the novelty. All of us got the chance to learn more about ASL and we walked away knowing a few sign language, and you will never know when these will come in handy!