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One Night Stand in Toronto: Vancouver Foodie looking for a fun but great restaurant

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Hey there everyone...I'll be in Toronto for two nights with a buddy of mine for an annual get together. We will be staying at the Delta Chelsea. One night we are off to Spamalot so I'm not too worried about dinner that night, but the next night I would love to find a great restaurant but with a great atmosphere that will allow us to hang out there for awhile. Looking for a modern vibe, good buzz in the room,nothing too quiet, with great wines by the glass and cocktails. Food wise would love to find something tapas style but not tied to that...not looking to necessarily break the bank but also not afraid to pay a little extra for good food and atmosphere. As for likes and dislikes (I feel like I'm on a dating service now) and what I'm looking for..in Vancouver, I love eating out at Chambar, Nu, Parkside, Cioppino's,and Bin 942 for food and atmosphere..in New York, loved my dinners at Spice Market, Balthazzar, and Nobu if that helps. Any suggestions anyone?
So far in my research I have thought of Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar and Lee.

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  1. Your research is correct, definately go for Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar. Fits exactly what you are looking for. Enjoy!

    1. My recent trip to Perigee blew me away. Atomsphere is not what I'd call lively. Not much vibe. If it's great food and service your after with an interesting approach, try Perigee. It's an open kitchen where guests watch as their food is prepared.

      I haven't done Lee (been to Susur), but it is definitley the vibe place. See or be seen atmosphere.

      JKWB... I haven't been in a while, but enjoyed it. Vibe... not too much. Maybe a 6 on the vibe scale.

      Perigee is at the top of my list for recent dining experiences though. The 5 course menu was plenty FYI! After canapes, amuse, palate cleansers and pre desert deserts, it was more like 10-11 courses.

      1. Hi there - I've been to most of the restaurants on your list and I'd agree that JKWB and Lee are probably the closest fit. I'd give a nod to Lee for vibe (a bit more "buzzy") but JKWB probably has a bit of an edge on the food. The restaurants aren't that far from each other so since you've just got the one night out, you might consider dividing your evening between them. My sense of Perigee, which I've yet to try (but I've seen the space), is that the food experience is exceptional but I don't think the atmosphere matches the places you've mentioned. A couple of other options might be Cava or Torito - both tapas spots (closest in atmosphere to the Bin restaurants). Torito is in Kensington Market which is always fun to walk around.

        By the way, Spamalot got great reviews. Sounds like you're going to have a great trip - enjoy!

        1. The Fifth or Ultra Supper Club will give you a lot of everything you are looking for. I highly recommend Ultra. You will enjoy the food very much even if it doesnt meet the incredible standard of Lee's or JK or Perigee - but the vibe is a lot more fun...unless of course you just want to watch other people eat! Never been to Torito, could be fun too.

          1. i really think jkwb is where you want to be....

            ultra supper club turns into a club and you will eventually have to vacate your seats and move towards the lounge, big on cocktails but i'm doubting their wines by the glass have a huge selection.

            torito is rather low on wines, cocktails and anything complicated. they have spanish tapas style which is delish but not dazzling. they have a very casual "we think we're slumming" kind of buzz because it's in kensington and the big tables are essentially benches.

            perigee to me is no buzz.... fantastic food, service, and wines but it's calm in the sense that you can forget that there are other diners around you as the noise level never really peaks.

            lee would fit your parameters well, but this could be a personal thing... everytime i walk in there i'm hit with an instant headache. i'm not exactly sure what it is but the look off the place is just jarring for me... i personally hate the interior design, they're trying too hard. they may also tell you that you have to vacate your table after a couple hours.

            so... why would i say jkwb, because there are abundant wines by tasting size or the glass. the food is really quite wonderful, although sometimes oversalted (the chicken dishes for me). sitting at the chef's bar gives you an opportunity to talk them up and chat with other patrons there. the vibe is lively without being frustrating, it's loud yet you can still hear your dining campanion. they will never usher you out. now, they don't take reservations but with two people the wait tends to be fairly short.

            1. Wow..thanks everyone! This is my first post on Chowhound and the responses have been so helpful!

              1. Here's my recent review of JKWB. A great place, I would go back.


                1. I hate to be the desenter but I am not a fan of Jamie Kennedys. I have never had a good time there, seating at the bar is cramped always bumping elbows. plus there is so many people around that the server does not seem have time to keep things at a consistent pace sometimes you get one dish then three right away then a huge wait and another... just not a relaxing place to dine.

                  For the size of portions and flavours I would go to Cava (but it may be a bit North for a visitor)