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Celebration Dinner -- Where to Eat?

a
Atahualpa Oct 11, 2006 01:19 AM

I am convocating and receiving my MA in November. I want to go out somewhere really, really nice to celebrate with my parents (so, just the three of us). When I graduated from high school we went to Kaji and I still remember the experience (oh, the stewed halibut tail I had was so good!). I'd go back except that I think 'variety is the spice of life' and I can only afford a meal like that once every 4-5 years anyways. That's especially true as I'm going to still be a student for four or five more years as I work on my PhD.

Anyways, I have a basic problem of choosing between a Japanese meal -- kaiseki or similar -- and a food french/new cuisine meal. But, I think I'll have to make that decision on my own. So, I'm looking for your suggestions in two categories. Where would you go if the choice was:

Kaji,
Hiro,
Hashimoto,
other I should consider?

or:

Jov,
Perigee,
Splendido,
Rain,
Susur,
other I should consider (North 44, Scaramouche, Bymark, etc.)?

A few more quick things.

1. I don't own a jacket. Any of these places have a dress code? Do they actually care about it?

2. I like wine. Is there one of these places that does better pairings than the others?

3. I don't really care about snooty service if the food is good. So, unless it totally destroyed your evening, give service less of a significance than you might. Most of the time when I eat out its on Spadina -- I'm used to snooty and ineffectual service.

I had sort of settled on Pergiee from what my friend said about it when he went two years ago. But, I have heard so many iffy tales since, that I don't really know anymore. I was especially concerned when my non-fish eating acquiantence (I know, I know) went and they didn't listen to her and served her fish anyways! So, when I say that I want really stinky cheeses (or some other preference) are they going to actualy listen? Or is this whole questionaire really just more show than substance? So, I guess I would really like to hear from anyone who's been to Perigee more than once -- is it getting less good? Or is it spotty? Or are few bad tales clouding my judgement of an otherwise excellent place.

  1. t
    TwinklyTerrapin Oct 11, 2006 01:07 PM

    Congratulation on your upcoming convocation, and your ongoing education -- that's very cool!

    Since it is just the three of you, and since you will be a poor student for several more years, I'd suggest perhaps Hiro at the sushi bar, or Perigee. I'm assuming that your proud parents are picking up the tab.

    Hiro is a bit...shabby around the edges...but having omikase (sp?) sitting at the sushi bar is the way to go there. The trio of salmon sushi we had there brought tears to my honey's eyes, it was so beautiful. If your parents are as chowhoundy as you are, they would probably appreciate that.

    Perigee is also excellent. We had dinner there this summer, and it was lovely. We didn't have any problem with getting what we said we didn't want, but that's a pretty short list (cucumber -- bleh. Oddly, Hiro is the only place where I've had cucumber and liked it). It was the most expensive dinner we've ever had -- the six-course with wine for two was nearly $500 -- but it was our birthday(s). And you're graduating, so it's a good excuse to splash out. Perigee is fancier and prettier than Hiro, but I don't think you'd need a jacket; just a tidy shirt should do.

    Now, for your PHD, you should talk to your parents about going for dinner at Brigtsen's in New Orleans -- ~that~ would be a fine celebration dinner...

    2 Replies
    1. re: TwinklyTerrapin
      a
      Atahualpa Oct 11, 2006 03:06 PM

      No, no, the year I graduate I'm going to win the lottery and then I'm buying a plane ticket to Napa (French Laundry). Or maybe Barcelona (El Bulli). Heck, since I plan to win the lottery, both!

      1. re: Atahualpa
        Vise Oct 11, 2006 03:32 PM

        You should probably try and get reservations for El Bulli now then... heheh.

    2. Vise Oct 11, 2006 02:42 PM

      If you've never been to Perigee I'd definitely recommend it... an all around experience you're not likely to forget. I've been twice (most recently in July), and it was excellent both times. If you go make sure you request a table facing the open kitchen.
      Splendido is also an great choice, the food & wine pairings are outstanding but its a bit more formal.

      I'd say its a tough call, but out of a short list (Susur, Perigee, Splendido, Scaramouche and/or Kaji, Hasimoto) of what you have listed you're sure to have a great experience regardless.

      1. OnDaGo Oct 11, 2006 05:14 PM

        I would try Kaiseki-Sakura (556 Church, at Wellesley) it just opened but the chef used to be the chef for the Japanese consulate and also did a year and a half working under Marc Thuet (to learn some french techniques and to gain knowledge in a busy kitchen). NOW magazine did a review and gave then their highest rating 5 "N's". The food sounds wonderful and you did mention that "Kaiseki" style...

        http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2006...

        2 Replies
        1. re: OnDaGo
          a
          Atahualpa Oct 11, 2006 05:28 PM

          Thanks OnDaGo, I have that place on my list already. But, it is reasonably priced enough that I would probably go with friends at some other point. Moreover, they are still pretty new and that increases the chance of some small hitch in the meal. I want this to be a sure hit.

          1. re: Atahualpa
            OnDaGo Oct 11, 2006 08:08 PM

            It's on my list too, I walked by on Monday (after my Turkey dinner) there were about 4 tables occupied but the place is really nice inside. But I understand your requirement of a sure hit... Splendito would be my choice then.. I would also recommend calling ahead saying that you want to be blown away and are willing to spend extra for extra premium ingredients.. chefs always enjoy a challenge

        2. b
          bestandworst Oct 12, 2006 12:34 AM

          You are sure to enjoy any choice from your short list.

          If it were me, I would be choosing between Kaji - at the sushi bar (my fave resto in TO) or Perigee - reserve a table where the chefs work, Susur or Splendido.

          I would think that Splendido is the best dressed of the above as I have actually seen jeans at Susur and Kaji.

          I have only been to Splendido twice in as many years, and I loved it both times. But I have friends in my circle who enjoy it regularly. I guess I find the room and the patrons too formal for me to fully relax and enjoy. I suppose I have subconsciously reserved it for very special celebrations only.

          Between Susur and Perigee IMO, the difference is the room. If you would enjoy sitting right next to the chef station, watching them create everything for the room, you have chosen Perigee. The room is otherwise extremely modest. If you want a trendy, modern and somewhat faster paced room, you have chosen Susur.

          You can't go wrong. Enjoy!

          1 Reply
          1. re: bestandworst
            a
            Atahualpa Oct 12, 2006 02:46 AM

            Best and Worst, thanks for some useful insights.

          2. d
            ddelicious Oct 12, 2006 12:38 PM

            I really like North 44, its not as trendy or "in" as some of the other places on your list, but its very classy and the food and serivce is excellent. Regardless, I would certainly take Rain off your list, horrible snootiness and not impressed with the food either.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ddelicious
              AmandaEd Oct 12, 2006 08:17 PM

              I agree with ddelicious...Rain's food is not what it once was. Not impressive.

            2. b
              bestandworst Oct 12, 2006 06:03 PM

              I love North 44 too. From apps to dessert to wines. It is a great place. I like the big open room too. Sitting by the kitchen window can be fun!

              I guess I just lean toward recommending a tasting menu for Atahualpa based on his list. Does North 44 offer one? That would be great to try!

              And Kudos to North 44 for staying relevant. I remember going when they first opened and boy was that a TREAT by Toronto standard.

              1. AmandaEd Oct 12, 2006 08:21 PM

                I would steer away from Scaramouche for a celebration - we went there for a couple of family members' graduations (clearly didn't learn from our error the first time!) and were rushed both visits - they really push to turn the tables.

                That, to me, is more offensive and inexcusable than snooty service. Food was great, but for that reason, my mother now refuses to go back.

                Bymark is extremely loud, which I find irritating.

                I loved Susur - had tastes there that I had never experienced before. If you haven't yet been, I'd check it out. Or definitely Splendido - just wonderful.

                1 Reply
                1. re: AmandaEd
                  a
                  Atahualpa Oct 12, 2006 09:01 PM

                  Thanks.

                2. mtampoya Oct 12, 2006 09:09 PM

                  I would go with your pal's advice. Perigee is the way too go. Splendido is also oh so wonderful...Susur, delicious. All three places have great service and it was not snooty at all, considering the high caliber of cuisine and service. All three also have fantastic wine lists.

                  I actually found North 44 and Rain too snobby and like it for more corporate affairs, not so much if I am looking to have good 'ol fashion time.

                  Congratulations. Enjoy a fabulous meal.

                  www.mishsplayground.com

                  1. c
                    Chef_Fu Oct 12, 2006 09:54 PM

                    I would like to suggest George. I've never been only 'cuz I don't have those kinds of funds but I did recommend my friends who were getting married and having a small reception to go there for dinner. They said it was fabulous. It's opened by Lorenzo Loseto who was Susur's former Sous-chef.

                    1. Charles Yu Oct 13, 2006 02:11 PM

                      Hello Chef Fu. FYI, I found George has gone down hill a bit recently. Furthermore, the wine pairing was less interesting when compared to when Kim Cyr was sommelier. So if you decide to on a splurge, skip George and head to Perigee or Splendido instead. Susur is OK but beware of the inconsistent service.

                      1. n
                        nasturtium Oct 14, 2006 11:58 PM

                        Perigee is great -- we went there for the first time last month for the three-course pre-theatre menu and it was a delight. Wine is off-the-scale expensive, though. We were fortunate that two Malivoire (Niagara) wines were on the list. The markup there is "only" 2.5 times.

                        I've never been rushed at Scaramouche and the setting is like nowhere else in Toronto, with the great view of the downtown spreading out below the restaurant. Is this rushing business a recent phenomenon? We haven't been in a couple years but it used to be a fabulous place to have a celebratory meal. Same with North 44.

                        1. r
                          radioheadkid Oct 15, 2006 09:51 PM

                          Perigee or Splendido

                          why not try Senses?
                          http://senses.ca/restaurant.asp

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: radioheadkid
                            a
                            Atahualpa Oct 15, 2006 10:03 PM

                            Any particular reason you recommend Senses? I'll look into it though.

                          2. d
                            dombort Oct 18, 2006 05:02 AM

                            I just got in from a night at Perigee. My parents and I had a kitchen side table. It really was was fantastic (and expensive).

                            The ladies had 5 courses, the guys had 6. Two of us had wine pairings (highlights which included a Premier cru Chablis, and a wonderful 2000 Rioja Reserva).

                            Out of every dish (all of which were different) there was perhaps only one slight disappointment which was my medly of three oysters in broths/sauces. Apart from that, everything else was a home run and elicited oohs and ahhs throughout the night.

                            My parents, who have visited a number of 1 and 2 Michelin star restaurants in Europe thought that this meal easily ranked up there with the best meals they've ever had. I wouldn't know, but it certainly beat the pants off of Thuet (which I went to a couple months ago).

                            Unless you are starving, you really don't need 6 course tasting.. I would have been full with 5.

                            Top notch. I'll be curious to compare with Susur.. next on my list.

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