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What's the BEST restaurant of 2006?! Let's hear the nominees!

s
starvin Dec 29, 2006 03:20 PM

Being the end of 2006, I think it only fitting that the Chowhounds nominate their faves...

My vote goes to "POMEGRANATE" in the Beaches...Queen St. E and Beech Ave. It started out really slow, and I've been afriad that it would close...but I see that the word has gotten out! Their dinners are fabulous, and their brunch is the best in the city! I couldn't even eat there a few weeks ago because it was TOO busy and filled to capacity! It's great to see a new place do so well...

So, what do YOU think? Who gets your vote?

  1. spades Dec 29, 2006 05:04 PM

    I've only been once, so maybe this doesn't qualify as a fully informed nomination, but my most memorable dining experience of 2006 was at Kultura.

    I can't remember the last meal that I had at a restaurant where the conversation was exclusively about the food and the restaurant itself. I heartily enjoyed sharing dishes of such invention with my dining companions - standouts for me were the tuna tartare and the Jamaican risotto. But it seemed that everyone had different favourites, which is a tribute to the top-to-bottom depth of quality in the menu.

    The ambiance is gorgeous as was the service - spot-on the whole night. No hiccups to speak of. I will most definitely be back.

    2 Replies
    1. re: spades
      Jacquilynne Dec 29, 2006 07:19 PM

      I'd like to try Kultura for dinner, but was decidedly unimpressed at brunch. They declare the dishes to be 'share plates' but many of them are not really set up for sharing (weird pieces and sizes and no way to split things up amongst multiple people) and are incredibly overpriced given the size of them - especially the $7 pot of tea for which I was never even offered fresh hot water, and which came without any kind of basket or ball so I could stop the tea from vastly overbrewing.

      I was there with a group of people and we'd opted not to share our dishes, which the waiter knew, but he couldn't possibly handle the concept of unshared dishes and everything was simply slapped into the middle of the table, almost comically as far away from whoever had actually ordered it as possible. Of course, that was all after a quarter of the things on the menu were somehow changed or not available.

      The food itself was of mixed quality. I had french toast - which was excellent but expensive - goat cheese and tomatoes - the quality of neither of which stood up to being served raw and cold and would have likely been a whole lot better lightly broiled - and the aforementioned very expensive and very poorly served but very tastey tea. I also tried someone else's potatoes which had a nice flavour on the outside, but which were cut so large that the minimal flavour coating was dwarfed by unseasoned potatoeness.

      I saw a basket of scones on someone else's table and that looked amazing - they were cute and warm and well presented. I wish I'd tried those.

      1. re: Jacquilynne
        TOfoodie Jan 25, 2007 07:10 AM

        That's a shame because I have always enjoyed both the dinner and brunch at Kultura. However, I agree that the potatoes could be a little smaller...But I LOVE the poached eggs!

        On another note - my last favourite meal was at Trevor. While I found the room a little short since it is in the basement - the food and service is exceptional. LOVE LOVE LOVE the mini burgers!

    2. e
      estragon Dec 29, 2006 09:36 PM

      My three favourite meals in 2006: Canoe, Scaramouche, and Trevor. Given that Trevor was half the price of the other two and much better than half as good, it wins for meal of the year.

      1 Reply
      1. re: estragon
        s
        sweetspotlee Dec 30, 2006 07:53 PM

        I second Trevor - especially if this voting is specific to restos which opened in 2006.

        Atmosphere, service, value and menu are top notch.

        Also, may I add Sushi Marche for amazing takeout sushi. Hey, there are two tables by the window... so it counts as a restaurant!

      2. l
        Luisa Dec 30, 2006 09:00 PM

        The Big Ragu is hands down the best place to eat great italian food. No frills, great prices and warm atmosphere....it was like being home...Rome. Reservations are recommended!

        4 Replies
        1. re: Luisa
          s
          starvin Dec 31, 2006 03:29 PM

          The Big Ragu...where is that?

          1. re: starvin
            e
            estragon Jan 2, 2007 04:37 AM

            Old school, unpretentious Italian joint at Lansdowne and St. Clair.

            http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2005...

            1. re: starvin
              l
              Luisa Jan 5, 2007 02:31 AM

              just at the corner of Caledonia & St Clair tel 416 654 7248 you wont be disappointed. Carmen the owner is the perfect host.

              1. re: Luisa
                l
                Luisa Jan 5, 2007 03:00 AM

                correction I:m sorry is not caledonia but lansdowne and st clair

          2. j
            jcanncuk Dec 31, 2006 07:33 PM

            I have to say that Scott Woods Kaiseki plates at Habitat are one of the most interesting things in town right now. And the price is excellent for the quality, presentation and fun factor.

            1. p
              phisherking Jan 1, 2007 05:39 PM

              Correct me if I'm wrong here but to use the name Kaiseki doesn't one have to train in the proper kaiseki tradition in Kyoto, Japan.? As far as I 'm aware there are only 2 chefs in the city who can properly use the term: Hashimoto at his namesake restaurant and a young gentleman named Diaske(sp?) at Kaiseke sakura. It's like buying a sharp knife and sitting at a sushi bar watching the chef slice fish, then calling yourself a sushi chef.

              1 Reply
              1. re: phisherking
                b
                Blueicus Jan 2, 2007 05:08 AM

                Considering how every single dish that is of a small serving is now called "Tapas", and that your latter statement is true in many cases in Toronto, it's about time the term Kaiseki got bastardized.

                It's so hard to label a restaurant as "best" (considering I haven't eaten out in Toronto THAT much this year), but I was personally very fond of Torito when I went in October.

                I was also impressed by the very ungreasy "chow mein" I got at the Chinese restaurant at McNicoll and Midland, in that plaza (not the place that serves dim sum and not the food court).

              2. s
                Suburban Gourmand Jan 2, 2007 04:27 PM

                For me, the best single meal experiences (not necessarily the best restaurants in the GTA, but the experiences I enjoyed the most) were:

                1) Batifole: Quick, easy, comforting, delicious and affordable french bistro cooking. A real find and a real surprise.

                2) North 44: The best service in the city (imo) combined with an excellent meal and wine pairings. We may have just chosen the right things on the right night, but whatever we did, we hit the jackpot. Simply dee-lish.

                1. spaetzle Jan 2, 2007 05:08 PM

                  My favourite meals of 2006 were found at

                  1) Sushi Kaji for my favourite upscale experience

                  2) Chopin. They serve the best homestyle Mitteleuropean food I've found in Toronto. Try their platter.

                  1. Cereal Killer Jan 2, 2007 08:45 PM

                    New Restaurants? Rosebud Rosebud and Rosebud.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Cereal Killer
                      k
                      Kasia Jan 2, 2007 10:56 PM

                      yes i liked rosebud too. also the sparrow, although i can't remember if it opened last year or the year before. while the vibe varies depending on whether there is an event or a dj, the food is solid - nothing spectacular but totally satisfying. love the crabcakes, the fish in parchment paper is a nice light option, the bison burger is juicy and well dressed. not bad wine selection, and the 'flight' wine options are a good deal - you get 3 very generous (altough listed as 2 oz) glasses of wine for #11. the staff are super friendly. great local resto for us west enders who like to avoid the drake crowd.

                      1. re: Kasia
                        Cereal Killer Jan 4, 2007 05:54 PM

                        Keep your eyes open on that strip. It has absolutely exploded in the past 6 months, and rumour has it that Tom Thai (ex of Tempo on College, an absolute favourite of mine for years) is opening a new place near The Sparrow this spring.

                        CK

                        1. re: Cereal Killer
                          k
                          Kasia Jan 5, 2007 03:39 AM

                          great, let's hope it's true. i liked his cooking before the whole re-design/re-naming happened. incidentally, there is also a perfectly decent and very popular veggie cafe on the ossignton strip as well - called 'get real'. mostly soup and sandwich combos, nothing spectacular but tasty healthy and low priced meals in a nice cozy space. good place for lunch.

                          1. re: Kasia
                            a
                            artificialard Jan 5, 2007 04:19 AM

                            Also in that area is idealcoffee which has amazing lattes and a wonderfully cool and relaxed place to hangout.

                      2. re: Cereal Killer
                        a
                        artificialard Jan 3, 2007 05:11 AM

                        Triple agree. The Rosebud is fantastic because it's been able to create a completely wonderful experience every single time I go which I can't really say has been the case with any other restauarant.

                        The menu is interesting, a great value, and perfect on tastes and portions. The kobe beef and the oxtail gnocchi are standouts for me. Service is always friendly and helpful without any pretention.

                        Their new brunch has really neat items like a saffron-flavored rissotto; you don't think it'll work at brunch but it's great.

                        The only thing to keep in mind is that it's a small restaurant and several times I've been unable to get a table on the same night (even on slow days like Tues/Weds). Call ahead - but do try it.

                      3. b
                        balthazar Jan 4, 2007 12:50 AM

                        I discovered a bunch of places this year that I'd never been to before and am now addicted. My faves of this year:

                        - Utsav (Yorkville & Bay): new, smallish Indian restaurant, fabulous food, really nice owner, lovely atmosphere, chai tea is yum and not too sweet AND it is really reasonably priced. The perfect place to go for excellent food in Yorkville that is not overpriced & doesn't break the bank. Lots of good vegetarian dishes too.

                        - Celestin (and the Comptoir de Celestin bakery). Food & service at dinner were excellent both times I was there, also I was blown away by the article this year in Toronto Life.

                        - Jules Patisserie (the new bakery on Mt. Pleasant, related to Jules restaurant at Queen & Spadina). I love the Jules bakery, the owners are very nice, it has a great vibe and a small sitting area (just a few tables), too. The food is all wonderful, the pastries, croissants, baguettes (including a fantastic multigrain baguette!), sandwiches - oh, and did I mention the big, fat, fluffy Madeleines (regular AND chocolate ones?!!?!).

                        - Batifole

                        1. l
                          LK1975 Jan 9, 2007 02:21 AM

                          My favorite restaurants in 2006...in no particular order:

                          1)Monsoon - great food, decent price, great service

                          2)Perigee - a little pricey but their tasting menu is to die for...best to go in a bigger group than just 2 people...that way you can sample a little bit of everything

                          3)Desserts Plus - great price, great portion, not so great service but I will forgive that because of the food...must try their gnocchi in their meat sauce..*drool*

                          4)Across the Road - small restaurant, nice and simple menu

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: LK1975
                            h
                            hungryabbey Jan 9, 2007 12:48 PM

                            wheres desserts plus?

                            1. re: hungryabbey
                              Cereal Killer Jan 9, 2007 01:09 PM

                              Desserts Plus as in the Desserts Plus on Weston Road north of Langstaff? If that is the one you are talking about, that is my guilty pleasure lunch spot (I work in the area). They used to be on Highway 7 a little west of Weston Road, and it took what seemed like a year to get the liquor license sorted out at the new location, but that is quintessential Woodbridge dining! Family owned, mama in the kitchen, son behind the cash register, etc. etc.

                              As noted, huge portions, they will make whatever you want no matter what the menu says, and it is darn good food. FYI - for years you could only get the pasta fagiole soup on Fridays, but when I went just before the holidays I noticed that it is now an everyday menu item.

                              CK

                              1. re: Cereal Killer
                                h
                                hungryabbey Jan 9, 2007 01:21 PM

                                ohh okay thanks!! a little far for me but if Im ever in that area Ill have to check it out

                          2. Cereal Killer Jan 25, 2007 06:20 AM

                            Went to The Rosebud again on Tuesday night - reservations for 7 people, 3 from NYC with virtually unlimited budgets who had been to Lee the night before.

                            The verdict - The Rosebud was the hands down, unanimous victor, both on food, wine and price. We had a great time, made only better by the fact that Krista is back making sure things run smoothly.

                            CK

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