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Toronto's best

mcLo Dec 16, 2006 02:34 PM

In TO with my husband for two days next week: two dinners and two lunches.
I would like every meal to be great. Price is not really a big concern (expense account!) but we are more into cool delicious neighbourhood spots than fancy financial district uptight places.
Any suggestions ?
and what do you think about Cava and Torito ?

  1. m
    mcLo Dec 21, 2006 03:06 PM

    Thank you everyone for your great help. I ate amazingly well in TO and I owe it to you big time.

    Here is what I did:

    1st day: Canoe for lunch: great food (wonderful oysters, great open tuna niçoise sandwich) Fantastic view, great scene (Rick Mercer was at the table next to us) Beautiful Mies Van Der Rohe Building. All in all, a really cool experience

    Cava for dinner: great food (amazing sablefish and you have to try the rosemary fries), very friendly service. Location is a bit disappointing though. The restaurant is located in a courtyard off yonge that has a bit of a mini-mall feel.

    Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar for lunch. A1 experience at the bar. Every dish is well done and very tasty. Great combination of rusticity and refinement. Sounds weird but that's the essence of the place, I guess. Great wine and cheese selection.

    Lee for dinner. Less special than I thought but classics (ginger, ponzu,etc.) can't go wrong. Asparagus and green bean salad to die for. And coriander infused chocolate mousse cake a must.

    Also. I bought a croissant at Thuet for breakfast one morning. It was good but nothing special. And I had a last quick lunch of street food: delicious fish and chips from Chippies on Queens street West. Only problem: The girl at the counter should wash her clothes. She was extremely dirty and it kind of brought down a bit the fun of the experience.

    So thanks again and looking forward to talking to you guys soon !

    1. t
      Threshold Dec 21, 2006 02:32 AM

      Recently ate at Chez Victors in Le Germain Hotel and really enjoyed it. Perigee has disappointed twice. Hiro is a bit tired. Kaji is excellent but a bit out of the way. Rodney's is great for seafood, though noisy.

      1. Rabbit Dec 18, 2006 08:17 PM

        Definitely eat something that Susur Lee is cooking, whether at Susur (his more upscale restaurant) or at Lee (the more casual small-plate restaurant next door).

        Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar on Church is a fun experience. Sit at one of the bars, try different wines (they serve "baby glasses" so you can sample lots of variety), and don't miss the poutine.

        Had a great meal at Habitat on the weekend, but the vibe can get a little clubby and hipster, so if you prefer more traditional fine-dining, this may feel "wrong."

        Hiro Sushi, Starfish, Thuet.

        I haven't tried Cava, but it's next up on my list, so if you do, please review!

        1. m
          Mushka Dec 18, 2006 06:01 PM

          The advice here is good. If you want cool neighbourhoods try something in Little Italy along College Street, the Distillery District or Kensington Market (the latter is not exactly upscale). Silver Spoon on Roncesvalles is excellent in a great neighbourhood. You might also like River across the street from Silver Spoon. Not only great food and atmosphere, but they take street and at-risk kids and train them in the restaurant trade. I once directed some Americans I met at a conference to Roncesvalles for dinner. What they raved about more than anything were all the fruit and vegetable stores. Go figure.

          1. e
            erly Dec 18, 2006 02:06 AM

            another restaurant not often mentioned, but suggested to me a couple of years ago, on this board is Jov.
            It is a small gem.
            Never disappointing, and excellent friendly service.
            Less costly than those I mentioned above.

            1. c
              CaleWhite Dec 17, 2006 11:02 PM

              I like Kultura on King East and Susur Lee on King West. Both have websites .. call a hotel and ask the concierge to make your reservation even if you are not staying at a hotel (helps get you in)

              1. spades Dec 17, 2006 05:23 PM

                I've been hearing that some people have had mixed experiences at Biff's but I've always had a nice meal. Many people on this board seem to like it, too. Me, I love the mushroom soup, the $1 oyster hapy hour (they're still doing that, right??), and the lamb shank is awesome.

                Haven't made it out to Habitat, but it's on my list. Recommended?

                1 Reply
                1. re: spades
                  andreas Dec 17, 2006 05:44 PM

                  Agreed with the mushroom soup - I've actually got the recipe for it. Asked one of the chefs who wrote it down for me. I've only ever been to Biff's for lunch and have always liked both the food and the service.

                2. spades Dec 17, 2006 04:26 PM

                  Kaji is amazing but a little out of the way for me. Hiro Sushi on King St. E also had a good omakase experience IMHO.

                  Others in the downtown area that are worth a visit: Bymark (you did say 'expense account', right?), Perigee, Biff's, and Kultura.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: spades
                    estragon Dec 17, 2006 05:05 PM

                    Biff's has always disappointed. What about Habitat?

                    1. re: spades
                      Threshold Dec 21, 2006 02:25 AM

                      I thought Biff's closed down?

                      1. re: Threshold
                        spades Dec 21, 2006 01:35 PM

                        Well that's news to me. I was just there three weeks ago.

                    2. e
                      erly Dec 17, 2006 02:25 PM

                      sorry should check my spelling. George, and I recommend the tasting menu
                      Also Sushi Kaji (full name)for omakase.
                      You could also try a Vietnamese Pho lunch.
                      There are many listed on this site.
                      No reservations required for this and they are almost everywhere in the city.
                      You might want to check out Pacific Mall if you have a car.
                      It is our largest Chinese Mall, and City Inn has a decent dim sum

                      1. andreas Dec 17, 2006 01:16 PM

                        One word of warning: Almost anywhere that's any good is booked from now to Christmas. Don't take any lengthy trips without calling first.

                        1. Charles Yu Dec 17, 2006 03:50 AM

                          Sushi Kaji, Chiado, Perigee and Splendido are my choice.
                          I would give Lai Wah Heen a pass since food has gone downhill recently. Furthermore, most of Toronto's best Chinese food are now located up north, which I think is a little bit out of the way for you folks.

                          1. c
                            chip Dec 16, 2006 08:39 PM

                            You will never regret going to Cava. Start with one of the pinchos. Have tha clams and chorizo, followed by the grilled octopus. For greens have the rapini and asparagus. Then have the sablefish and the venison. And then, as a final moment of inspiration, have the frites.

                            1. thenurse Dec 16, 2006 06:30 PM

                              Forget Pan - way overrated as you can read in historical posts.
                              Here are some suggestions:
                              Rosebud on Queen at Bathurst
                              Batifole on Gerrard btwn. Broadview and Logan
                              JK Wine Bar on Church S of Front (go for lunch - that's the only time they take reservations)
                              Brick St. Bakery in the Distillery for great sandwiches and scones (go on a nice day - no inside seating)
                              Balzac's in the distillery for coffee and sweets
                              Soma in the distillery for chocolate and/or gelato.

                              1. e
                                erly Dec 16, 2006 06:29 PM

                                totally agree
                                Kaji omakase
                                Gorge tasting menu relaxed great food
                                Chaido Portugese, fresh fish flown in daily
                                Zucca Italian
                                Splendido, possibly the best food in Toronto
                                All of the places mentioned, are relaxed and are a place to spend the evening.
                                Never rushed.
                                You should scan the board for Chinese, as well, as we have so many styles, and you might prefer one over the other.
                                Clubby,noisy, I will leave to others to suggest.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: erly
                                  estragon Dec 17, 2006 02:08 PM

                                  When you're giving advice to an out-of-towner, it helps if you spell the names right. That's George (where I'm sure you can gorge yourself if you want) and Chiado.

                                  If I were visiting Toronto on an expense account, I'd have dinner at Chiado and Sushi Kaji, and lunch at Canoe and Lai Wah Heen.

                                2. t
                                  tjsilverjeep Dec 16, 2006 06:28 PM


                                  For a great tasting menu try Perigee. It is in the Distillery District. On College Street there are alot of Italian restaurants. I like Grappa. There is also am amazing Portuguese restaurant, Chiado. In Chinatown I like New Sky on Spadina Ave. On Baldwin Street, there are a number of interesting restaurants. It is an interesting street, a mix of residential and restaurants in the middle of the city. Try Bodega. In the west end on Roncesvalles Ave. try Silver Spoon.

                                  Hope you enjoy TO!

                                  1. f
                                    FlavoursGal Dec 16, 2006 05:17 PM

                                    Sado Sushi on Eglinton Ave. West, east of Allen Road. They do incredibly inventive dishes, most of which are found on the chef's specialties menu.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: FlavoursGal
                                      jennjen18 Dec 16, 2006 05:48 PM

                                      Boy, we're really into the trend of omakase lately, huh, Torontonians?

                                      1. re: FlavoursGal
                                        dlw88 Dec 16, 2006 08:17 PM

                                        Any four of the best restaurants in the city and you choose Sado? I've found these "inventive dishes" are actually a lot more common in sushi restaurants south of the border. I think that for a visitor on an expense account, Sushi Kaji is a much more unique experience.

                                      2. p
                                        PeteM Dec 16, 2006 05:06 PM

                                        Sushi Kaji

                                        1. m
                                          merlot143 Dec 16, 2006 03:00 PM

                                          My personal favorites in Toronto include:
                                          Lai Wah Heen for dim sum -- upscale atmosphere, very fresh and delicious dim sum
                                          Pan on the Danforth -- great Greek food with a bit of twist
                                          La Vecchia -- authentic Italian food, my favorite Italian in Toronto

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