Dinner in Kingston?
It's the end of the university year and I'm treating my exam-wrecked daughter to a nice wine-filled meal. Do you think Chez Piggy (our usual choice) is still best? The one time we deviated to Chien Noir, we weren't overwhelmed, but that was a few years back. And almost everything else that I know about seems too quick or casual. All advice appreciated -- I didn't find much on the Canada board, but maybe discriminating Toronto travellers have more to offer.
Chez Piggy is always a safe choice, though as a Kingstonian who now only returns to town for family visits, I understand the feeling that it gets kind of boring to do it again and again.
My last trip back my family and I ate in Pan Chancho, Chez Piggy's sister operation. It's primarily a bakery and deli, but has started serving sit-down meals as well.
The ambiance isn't fantastic, and is definitely more casual and less comfortable than the Pig, but the food is different and the quality just as high.
I would suggest calling ahead and making a reservation as the dining room is small and doesn't hold many people.
If you are looking for something fancy-ish, my parents were telling me about a relatively new place. A guy named Clark, who used to run Clark's By The Bay in Collins Bay, a wine bar and then another place on King St. next to the old Whig Standard Building on the market square, has taken over as the food/hospitality director of one of the downtown hotels -- I think it's the Ramada.
I've eaten in all of his previous establishments (not the new one) and the food is quite good and they pay attention to the experience as well.
I would call ahead and verify that I've got it straight, but I think it's the Ramada Inn on Ontario Street.
Clark Day, formerly of Clark's on King, is indeed running the restaurant at the Radisson (formerly the Ramada). The menu looked less fussy/more mainstream than at his former place (French onion soup, tarte flambe, steaks, local bison), and the main courses are in the mid to high 20s. There's a three-course prix fixe for $30. The setting overlooking the water is pretty, though you won't forget you're in a hotel.
Chez Piggy seems to get dowdier and more set in its ways every time. For a restaurant with some wine pretensions, the list of wines by the glass is extremely dull. Neither of us had much urge to finish our pastas. Fries as good as ever, celery-root soup good but tasted more of added cheese than vegetable. Both the hostess and the server were utterly joyless -- the experience felt very mechanical. I had a much better solo dinner at Atomica, Chien Noir's Italian neighbour, where the chick-pea and garlic soup was watery, the taleggio and tomato paste bruschetta was rubbery, the pappardelle bolognese was a thin imitation of the real thing, but at least the restaurant felt alive -- and there were all kinds of interesting Italian wines by the glass to make up for the cooking. Now I need to choose a favourite Kingston pub...