Coming to Toronto next week...
- woo! Jul 8, 2004 11:13 AM
Hi all Toronto 'hounds! I'm a 'hound from Los Angeles, and will be in Toronto starting on Saturday until Thursday. The first few nights I'm staying downtown at the Park Hyatt, and won't have a car, and the last night I will be in Mississauga and will have a rental car (renting downtown). Any recommendations within walking or easy cabbing distance from my hotel?
Is Susur close by? Does anyone have any feedback on the likelihood of getting a table there or being seated as a single?
Recommendations to both high end dining options as well as great ethnic places that would be great. Good, fresh, traditional sushi places that do Omakase would also be greatly appreciated. I am a wine collector, but realize that corkage is not allowed in Toronto/Canada, so won't be bringing wine with me, but a good wine list is always appreciated.
Thank you for your help in advance, and I'll make sure to post any reviews of my dining experience.
Hmmm... park hyatt is at Bloor and University, I believe...
I can't speak for susur (other than it's generally considered to be one of the best in the city...) But you're pretty close walk to my favourite Ethiopian cuisine resaurant: Ethiopia House north of Wellesley just off of Yonge, 4 Irwin Ave, 416-923-5438...
I generally get an order of "Of Each Kind Vegetarian" (just say that, and they'll know what you're talking about... a delicious collection of stews served on a large platter with injera), with an order of Tibs (beef spiced with berbere). They might have wine, but it's not for sommeliers! If you like coffee, opt for the coffee ceremony after dinner (but you have to order it before so they have time to prepare it).
By the way, you're a little too early for bringing your own wine: Ontario passed a corkage law just recently, but I don't know when it is to be implimented. Perhaps for your next trip!
Generally, if you're feeling adventurous, try going to Little Italy (bit of a misnomer: it's become more cafe-like, kind of international cuisine, where all the beautiful people go... college street between bathurst and Ossington, it's a nice walk and you can't throw a stone without hitting a good restaurant).
Generally, consider walking everywhere in Toronto.
Yes, Ossington is the 'centre' of little Ethiopia, but I stand by Ethiopia House as the best of the bunch. But there's apparently a little place along the Danforth that's very well regarded, haven't been there yet. I think there's a thread on this a bit further down.
So far as little Ethiopia is concerned, Lalibela (Bloor west & Shaw St., east of Ossington station, south side) used to be my favourite, but descended in quality to the point that I stopped going. That was a few years ago. Queen of Sheba (usually stated as being "the best ethiopian" by the uninitiated, Bloor West, east of Dufferin, south side, dufferin subway station) is OK, but lacks the stronger textures of Ethiopia House. Also, the service is spotty and somewhat surly and lacks any semblance of ambience.
Addis Ababa just east of Queen St. W. and Dufferin has apparently been renovated and has traditionally been recommended, though I thought it was a tad middling when I went a couple of years ago.
Other areas: Little India, gerrard st. east, around Pape (? not sure of the cross street). St. Clair between Bathurst and Lansdowne ("Corso Italia") is the new 'little Italy', but I can't say what restaurants are great or not as I don't frequent the area. Eglinton west of the Allen Expressway is Jamaican cuisine.
Be sure to have pre-dinner drinks in your hotel bar. The roof top bar in the Hyatt has an incredible southward vista of the city.
Susur is not quite within walking distance, but a quick cab ride away (King and Portland). You might have some success getting a table on a weeknight. For a Toronto food experience on the complete other end of the spectrum, go to Gandhi Cuisine (554 Queen St. West -- just east of Bathurst) for roti. Awesome curry wrapped in a thin indian wrap. Don't be scared off by the lack of decor -- turnover is high, the food is fresh and the people are friendly. Then for dessert, wander a couple of blocks down Queen St. to Dufflet's Pastries. Dufflet's make desserts for many of the restaurants in the city, but you can tap directly into them at this storefront/cafe (787 Queen St. West). Happy Toronto-chowing!
If you go early in the week, Mon or Tues, you shouldn't have a problem getting in at Susur as a single diner. I have done that and as a bonus you won't be rushed out as they have two seatings only on Fri and Sat. As a warning, wine pairings are not a strong suit here with his "backwards" menu concept. About 10-15 min cab ride. (601 King St. W.)
Opus is walking distance near your Hotel on Prince Arthur, and has received the Wine Spectator's Grand Award of Excellence, and thus has an extensive cellar (about 1,600 wines - 23,000 bottles) Cuisine is French/Continental - good, not as creative as Susur. (37 Prince Arthur Ave.)
Chiado is a high-end Portuguese restaurant that has wonderful seafood. It also has the largest collection of fine Portuguese wines in North America, and superb Vintage Ports and 19th-century madeiras. About a 15 min cab ride. (864 College St.)
If you are going to be in Mississauga, then you might want to try Via Allegro even just to check out the wine book. They have 4,600 wine selections with about 47,000 bottles. The cuisine is contemporary Italian - nothing too special. (1750 The Queensway)
Hashimoto, also in Mississauga, serves refined multi-course kaiseki dinners ($50-$100/person). See link below for explanation of the experience. (6435 Dixie Rd.)
Sushi Kaji is located in Etobicoke which is close to Mississauga, and is considered to be one of the best in Toronto. The omakase ranges from $65, $95, $120. The $120 version offers more deluxe selections of sushi and sashimi. (860 The Queensway)
Thanks for the GREAT suggestions thusfar... and please keep them coming. Traditional Kaiseki in Mississauga? Amazing. If I can get my client to agree... I'm in. Any traditional omakase near downtown that is truly great? I'm Korean, so checking out the Korean area might be interesting.
I spoke to the manager at Susur today, and he assured me that they would welcome me as a single diner on Monday or Tuesday night... and was fairly certain that getting in would not be too dificult, as I usually like to eat dinner later on in the evening 8:30pm/9:00pm. I am planning on having a tasting menu there... does anyone have a recommendation/experience with their tasting menu and/or other signature items?
Thanks again for your continued help!
I've always had the tasting menu at Susur. You can see a sample menu on his website, under the Philosophy section.
The closest Korean area to where you are staying is Koreatown on Bloor St. W. between Bathurst and Christie St. From your hotel, you can walk there in 15-20 minutes but you can also take the TTC subway to Bathurst Station (or cab it in 5 minutes). There is also new Korea Town in the Yonge/Finch-Yonge/Steeles area but that may be a bit far for you, though you can get there by taking the subway to Finch station.
Right now, everyone is raving about a Korean bakery that Jeff discovered - Baro Gun Pang Bakery. I also heard that Mandoo Hyang makes good hand-made Korean dumplings. However, they are both around the Finch area.
I agree with many of the suggestions so far...
Also, I just read a great review by Jacob Richler in the National Post of Toshi Sushi at 565 King West for Omakase in downtown TO - I would have posted the review, but you need to be a subscriber in order to access it:( Apparently, it is right next to Susur on King. Kaji in Etobicoke is incredible, but I would love to know how this compares.
Only Susur and Chiado will give you a pleasant surprise in terms of quality after LA. Both are worth it. Chiado has a superb selection of portuguese wines (not cheap though). Susur is a difficult cuisine to match with wine. If still available go for the Sato No Homare - possibly the finest Sake in the world.
And, of course Koreatown - to let us know how good/bad it is in comparison with LA.
But elsewhere you should find good value all over (compared with LA). As a solo diner, most ethnic will please you.
I'd also suggest Xacutti (College south side west of Bathurst; walking distance 20 mins) - pan-Indian with one of the best wine approaches (you can order flights of 3/4 wines with 2 or 4 oz pourings). They also have a 'communal' table - holds 8 people. Ask for that and meet some locals (or other tourists).
Also Jamie Kennedy (JK) on Church (near the St Lawrence market, subway to King or Front). Ever-changing wine selection at this wine-bar that serves fairly good food at fair prices. Again, sit at the communal bar and meet the locals.
If you are close to the Eaton centre, just north of there on Gould (one block north of Dundas, off Yonge) is Salad King. Downstairs is normally a student hangout but they're mostly off for the summer so not sure who eats there now. Downstairs is bargain priced Thai food - again communal tables. Upstairs Linda's (only open evenings) is more fine-dining with additional menu items. Both close around 9:00 (when local shops close).
And close to your hotel - upstairs on north side of Bloor, west of Avenue Road is Ho Shim. Crowded Vietnamese with excellent (usually) soft-shell crab.
You could also walk to Le Paradis (north on Avenue Rd, west on Davenport a few blocks to Bedford then north - about 20 min walk) - highly rated on this board.
I am willing to bet that Ho Shim should be Pho Hung ;)
Instead of Le Paradis, Jacques Bistro on Cumberland St. (2nd floor) which is even closer to your hotel provides equally satisfying food experience with notably better desserts than Le Paradis. Solo dining is comfy at their tiny tables.
Le Matignon is also superior to Le Paradis and equidistant to your hotel on St. Nicholas street.
Lai Wa Heen's dimsum are way better than anything you can find in LA.
You're right - I meant Pho Hung - was responding quickly to beat arrival date.
Lai Wah Heen SOMETIMES has the best dim sum. I used to rate it top (by far) but 2 out of the last 3 visits were disappointing - to be fair, the 3rd visit was one of the best!
I also enjoy Matignon, but find it a little dark for summer dining - the back at Paradis is very enjoyable.
Agree with the dessert comment at Jaques - unfortunately I'm not impressed with their mains.
Chacon a son gout!
BOBA! Absolutely wonderful and two blocks up from the hotel. Also, Mistura, not too far away. Two of my favorite restaurants.