Chicago Hound Broadens Request
- JimInLoganSquare May 2, 2004 10:04 PM
Thanks for the marvelous suggestions for the "big event" dinner (see below). I'll continue to mull them over and hope for even more rec's to consider. Now I'd like to ask for rec's in the following categories: (1) Italian (our default dining choice), (2) Canadian, (3) serious, straight-ahead jazz clubs; and (4) delicatessen. Also, is the shoe museum worth it? Mrs. JiLS and I love the footwear! I'll expand my earlier offer to include my 3 must-have Chicago rec's for anyone who gives a response and provides an email address (see, we Chicagoans are all heart!)
My Jazz picks would be:
The Rex Hotel - Old school place, it is a run down hotel with bad furniture, waiters who should have retired years ago, smokey... every thing a great Jazz club was 30 years ago! Cheap cover charge & People are freindly (but I would not eat there if you want a nice meal...). It is at Queen & Simcoe Area.
Top of the Senator - Behind the old Pantages Theatre (now the Canon Theatre) It is a more upscale has a great reaturant below that is like a 40's dinner with a fine dinning menu. - 253 Victoria Street
You also may want to check out Potato Blues, I have heard great things about their menu and the quality of the Blues... 115 John Street (two blocks south of the Rex)
Here is a website that will help you:
Romantic: Canoe & Scaramouche have the best views of Toronto skyline IMO, great food, ambience, service & wine/champagne. Loved my birthday dinner a couple of years ago at Canoe - the boyfriend had Happy Birthday written on my dessert plate which was cute. My favourite restaurant is Monkey Bar & Grill (very small, intimate & yummy), but it's more midtown/uptown (Yonge n. of Lawrence).
Canadian: Canoe has Canadian flair dishes. My suggestion to an earlier Canadian request would be a tasting tour of Toronto b/c it's so multicultural here.
- Chinese (compares to HK in my relatives' opinions); mostly know north Toronto places, but Lai Wa Heen (Metropolitan Hotel) is top in decor/service & food is good; or walk around Chinatown (Spadina/Dundas)
- Greek - Greektown is Danforth/Pape; no specific recommendation
- Korean - no specific place, but Koreatown is Bloor/Bathurst
- Portugese - Chiado? I've never been, but supposed to be good.
Italian: Sotto Sotto
BTW when making your decision on the high restaurant, Perigee is located it the Distillery District - a place that is ABSOLUTELY worth the trip to see ieven if you don't end up going there. http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/
For your others locations to dine at. Here are a few suggestions:
Italian - Terroni - 3 locations
IMHO one of the better Italian spots in TO. excellent pasta and thin crust pizza. Good people watching as well.
Canadian - Tundra
Okay I suspect some may disagree with me.. yes it is located in the Hilton BUT I must admit, I went there and had a wonderful experience. The place was not busy and the staff were attentive and the food was well prepared. The place is stunning as well.
Deli - St. Lawrence Market
Hey, if you are in the city and want to have the ultimate Toronto experience, head to the St. Lawrence Market and go to Carosel to have peameal on a bun. I personally love wandering around the market and shopping at all of the different vendors there.
Hey, enjoy the city! If there is anything else that I can help you with shoot me an email.
I'd whole-heartedly second the recommendations for the Distillery District, Terroni and St. Lawrence Market (LOVE the peameal on a bun). Would also add an eating stroll around Kensington Market, ideally on a Saturday morning (note - both markets are closed on Sundays),including a great cup of coffee from one of the oustide stools at Louie's. Yum.
1) Italian: La Fenice on King St. West downtown and Il Posto (can't beat the elegance of the neighborhood)mid-town Yorkville. Great for wandering around at night for a drink or coffee!
2) Jazz: Top of the Senator, yes (the food is pretty darned good) while it is quite mediocre at Montreal.
3) Canadian: Don't know what this means. Multicultural eh!
4) Deli: This one is easy. There isn't a good one for 150 miles. Kensington Market is great for lunch any day but Monday.
Canadian food is:
Poutine -- french fries, cheese curds and gravy
Butter tarts -- you see them everywhere, but step 10 feet across the border and nobody has heard of them
Peameal bacon -- not Canadian bacon, we don't have that here
Tourtiere -- a meat pie from Quebec
Banguet Burger -- a burger with cheese and bacon
Also maple syrup, foie gras, caribou, morel mushrooms, blueberries, wild rice, icewine.
A great place for weekend brunch is Mildred Pierce. They don't take reservations, so be prepared to arrive early or stand in line.
MP is also a nice spot for a romantic dinner, but is a bit more casual than the places I recommended earlier.
Italian: It flies beneath the foodie radar, but Tutti Matti on Adelaide east of Spadina serves good unpretentious Tuscan food in an easy-going open-kitchen setting. The brisket pasta is a classic, though more a cold-weather dish. Still remember the porchetta sandwich I took to a Blue Jay game.
Atmospheric: Baldwin St. between McCaul and Beverley, south of the main University of Toronto campus, north of the AGO, is a good Toronto place to hang out and read menus, especially on sunny weekend afternoons. Many restaurants, not all of them stellar, but lots of choice. I prefer the Chinese buns and pastries from Yung Sing, eaten on whatever surface you can find.
I agree with the other posters about Terroni for fantastic thin-crust pizza. For casual Italian, I'd put Seven Numbers on your list. In my book, it has the highest quality-to-price ratio anywhere in the city. The lasagna is a highlight.
For Canadian food, as food writers put it, Canoe is the top choice. Quite expensive, but their bison loin washed down with a Canadian red from Sandstone or Lailey Vineyards wouldn't be a bad way to go.
For Jazz, Top o'the Senator is the classiest.
For deli, The Corned Beef house on Adelaide is terrific for lunch. Inexpensive Sleeman Honey Brown (a quality Canadian beer) on tap is a nice surprise.
Shoe museum? Can't help you there.
As far as the jazz is concerned, you could always forego the standard places like Rex, Top of the Senetor or Mtl Bistro....and try Reservoir Lounge. It's more of an eclectic place where Swing and Jump Blues rule. I can't vouch for the food (and tables require a reservation I believe) but the atmosphere and music is great (as is the scotch selection).
Almost a year ago I summarized the fine dining options (summary below - but there's a whole thread). In particular I segregated places for 'special occasion' and those recommended for 'out-of-towners'.
For example I recommend Susur and Chiado for visitors as they are probably unique to Toronto, whereas other excellent restaurants are comparable to other places in NY, Chicago, LA etc.
Look there for ideas then search for more recent reviews (Perigee wasn't open then).
And the Bata Shoe Museum is a MUST (go there on a rainy day if you have one). Again, unique to Toronto. I was dragged there reluctantly, but was really impressed and am now converted.
A few weeks ago I went to the Big Ragu, a fairly new Italian restaurant on Lansdowne just south of St. Clair. Wow. Truly authentic Southern Italian cooking. And such nice people. I'd heartily recommend it.
Big Ragu 1338 Lansdowne Ave., Toronto, 416-654-7248