Fun Toronto Restaurant for 4 Adults
Headed to Toronto for the first time with the family (2 25-year-olds, two 53-year-olds) and looking for people's favorite restaurants for a good time. Money is no object, and all types of food are heartily appreciated. Any ideas?
Can you define what you mean by "good time"? Do you want a mind-blowing gastronomical experience in a fine-dining establishment? Or a fun, casual atmosphere where you can soak up the surroundings and have lots of loud conversation amongst your family?
And can you let us know where you're staying and whether you'll have a car?
All this will help us make sure you have a good time!
Let's see. I'm one of the 25-year-olds, so I'm looking for a fun, loud, interesting place. My parents are total foodies looking for fine dining (not seven courses with pairings fine, but definitely on the nicer side). And while I understand, these two rarely go hand in hand, I'm trying to find some places with a good balance. I'm a wine enthusiast, and my father's a single malt man, so anything with an extensive drink menu is also a plus. We're staying at the Cosmopolitan and plan on travelling by taxi, so downtown is better, but not essential.
Thanks so much for your help!
re: spaghetti o
Agreed that Perigee might be the closest to your description. It's fine dining in a slightly funky setting. 5-, 6-, or 7-course chef's tasting menu only (no a la carte), wine pairings optional. Each person gets a totally different menu, after being asked about allergies and food aversions. Seating is around a sunken, open kitchen, so you can watch the chefs in action. Interaction is encouraged, and the head chef normally presents each course to the table. Not cheap, but well worth it for a long, enjoyable evening. Great scotch and wine lists, too. :) In the Distillery District.
On the more casual side, Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar (JK Wine Bar) is a lot of fun with excellent food (all small plates). It's definitely more fun when you sit at the chef's bar or the wine bar, rather than at a table. Though with four people, it's a little tough to interact with each other unless you're seated on the corner of the bar. On Church, just south of Front.
Beer Bistro is good food in a great atmosphere. The drink specialty is obvious, so it may not be the right place for you guys (but it otherwise fits the bill). At King and Yonge.
Le Select is a wonderful, classic French bistro with a truly amazing wine list. I believe they have a good scotch selection as well. The atmosphere is fun and slightly rowdy while still being quite elegant. On Wellington, west of Spadina.
Good luck, enjoy your trip and please report back!
For fun/cool atmosphere, good food, good wine list and downtown, my short-list of suggestions would be...Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar (only drawback is no reservations policy - suggest you factor in a 45 minute wait, put your name on the list and then have a drink in the sitting area or at one of the nearby watering holes like Beer Bistro), George (a little more sophisticated/elegant and a little less loud but still fun and great food) and maybe Lee (Susur Lee's baby bistro - great tastes, great atmosphere though sometimes service can be spotty). Another spot you may like is Czehoski's on Queen West -another very funky area, hip spot, cool vibe, good food and, if I recall, a great scotch selection (though maybe I'm mixing it up with Rosebud?). Another spot that I haven't tried (but there have been lots of recent, good posts about it) is Torito, a tapas restaurant in Kensington Market - very cool area - get there early so you can walk around (though a Kensington walkabout/chowtour is worthy of a separate daytime detour).
Have a great trip with your family and if you have a chance, please post a report.
re: peppermint pate
in terms of good food, you can't go wrong with a single suggestion thus far. there are however three different reasons i would advise you ahead of time about some of them...
lack of wine/alcohol list:
beerbistro (for obvious reasons... but they offer fantastic beers)
no reservations available:
jamie kennedy wine bar
(if you're here on a weeknight it's a bit less of a problem, or just show up early)
perigee (this was my own personal experience, others may say something different)
additionally, i'd love to tack on la palette in kensington market as one of my favourite places to go. great food, great staff, amazingly long wine list and a very wonderful french bistro feel.
although... my favourites following your parameters would be jamie kennedy wine bar (if you end up here they have a MUCH more extensive list of wines by the bottle and other liquors than they give you up front) and czehoski (they definitely have the great scotch selection).
I totally agree with Francelonian's recommendation. As a dining experience, the 'fun' factor provided by Perigee's open kitchen and Chef interaction concept is hard to beat. However, just to provide a different option, Senses' 'El Bulli' style multi-course tasting menu also features some very interesting and surprising dishes catered for 'all senses'! You won't go wrong with either choices. Have fun!!
I agree with you.. for any restaurant in Toronto to try and compare themselves to ElBulli is laughable. T.O. restaurants have a long way to go before they get to that level. The good restaurants in Toronto play it smart and do what they do best and not try to give themselves a false and misleading sence of credability.