Your brother is spot on!! Chef's or foodie's wouldn't be caught dead eating on restaurant row. I remember first year TIFF was held at the Lightbox. The biggest complaint from the critics was crappy restaurants that surrounded the theatre.It's not broad at all. Actually, it's pretty specific. I'm told by my chef brother (whom I trust on these issues) that there hasn't been a culinary evolution on this stretch since tableside flambÃ©s went out of style.
To put it in terms we UT'ers can understand: in culinary circles restaurant row is the same sort of joke that Kirkor or a G+C is to us. Aloof, anachronistic, and forever disconnected from the city's vibrant and evolving design culture. Yet, just like developers who hire Kirkor or G+C for their bland yet reliable production-house-consistency, because restaurant row has a clientele who care little about eating an excellent meal, they are able to rope in low-hanging-fruit so to speak (tourists, non-native theatre goers, etc.). This solid client base means they don't have to evolve as other restaurants might and have therefore fallen far behind the times.
Whether or not you personally like these restaurants is nice but sort of irrelevant. Again, it's akin to those few remaining souls who see some value in Aura while the rest of the public, and nearly all of the city's architects, have written it off completely.
All restaurant row needs is some modern fine dining establishments. There is no longer bus loads of tourists coming into the area looking for cheap prix fixe dinners. This would be a good opportunity for 305 King and Theatre Park to bring in some 4 or 5 star restaurants to the row, It will class the place up a little.