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Oct 11, 2006 01:19 AM

Celebration Dinner -- Where to Eat?

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:

other I should consider?


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.

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  1. 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

      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

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

    2. 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. 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...

        2 Replies
        1. re: OnDaGo

          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

            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. 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

            Best and Worst, thanks for some useful insights.

          2. 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

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