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30th Birthday Dinner for 15 - resto-bar/lounge?

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Recently moved to Toronto, looking for place for a special birthday dinner for about 15 people. Preferably entrees around $25 max and suitable for an evening of late dinner and then drinks and maybe even dancing. I keep hearing about Laide, is it a good choice or others?

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  1. I love Laide as it is not as trendy and snobby as other places and the food is amazing. They do a 3 course pris fixe for $25 where you choose any two items on the menu and a dessert for $25. The menu is on their website http:\\www.laide.ca\

    The owners also are the bartenders so I find the service is a lot more attentive as they have a vested interesting in making customers satified.

    2 Replies
    1. re: OnDaGo

      I agree, they are also good about reservations, as in they will actually make sure there is a space reserved for your group and they will consult with you about your needs etc. It is definitely more bar in feel/atmosphere than restaurant though, other than the food which is quite good especially for the price and not at all typical bar food.

      1. re: julesrules

        Laide is great fun if you're group is fun. It is very casual in terms of the dining experience - and it is a bit off the beaten track if you are going dancing afterwards. But for a slow, alcohol fueled meal, the food is excellent and the atmosphere quite different than what you generally find elsewhere in the City. I would suggest stopping by to see if it fits your crowd before booking.


    2. We went to a party at the Brant House, it was really great. They do a prix fixe menu, the food was excellent (we were very surprised at how good it was) and then later in the evening they move all the tables and its a club. Fantastic place for the type of party you're having!

      1. Yes I've been pleasantly surprised at the food quality at Brant House as well.

        Ok I'll put Laide and Brant House on the list...any other suggestions would REALLY be appreciated, having just moved here I'm anxious to find and try new great places in Toronto.

        1. Try KiWe on King West, no dancing but they do have a DJ on the weekends.Food is much better than Brant House and you can always cross the street to Century Room or Brant House for dancing.

          3 Replies
          1. re: tasoid

            Ate at KiWe. Thought it was awful.


            1. re: Cereal Killer

              I didn't enjoy my meal at KiWe either. I went shortly after opening and found the menu to be very limited and the service was borderline acceptable for King West.

              1. re: Cereal Killer

                Was comparing the food to Brant House within the parameters of the original post..Ate at KiWe last weekend and found both the steak and the lamb to be excellent at the price. No problems with service but I am there quite often..

            2. Thanks, the dancing part of the equation isn't key (after all the birthday party will be getting on in years, ha) but good quality food at a reasonable price and non-overpriced drinks are mostly what we're after.

              Do you think I'm limiting the "interesting" quality of the food by going to a resto/bar/lounge place? What about Czehoski or Habitat? Is that the right kind of place? Or too pricey?

              1. i did my birthday last year at gypsy co-op on queen west. i thought the food was great and the prices were definitely within your guidelines....they're great at accomodating large parties and i think they may even do a prix fix menu if your party is large enough.
                i think czehoski and habitat are great but they would both be pushing the budget, particularily habitat.
                i haven't tried the drake since they brought in a new chef but that could be another option and it's a fun place to have drinks after.

                1 Reply
                1. I've done a couple of birthday celebrations at Habitat and have been thrilled every time! Check out the menu on their website

                  I also had a great experience at a party for 18 at KiWe Kitchen. No, the food isn't ground breaking, but everyone enjoyed it and the service was outstanding and after a few drinks, no one really cared about the food :


                  Of course, Laide is ALWAYS a great time too!

                  Have fun!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dramarama

                    Be warned, Laide plays 40'5 and 50's porn on the screens (I am not sure if this applies for dinner) I'm just sayin, if you have some suburban-type boring people with you, they may not appreciate seeing The three stooges having sex while your eating something with sundried tomatoes. Word!

                  2. Yea I think Czehoski and Habitat might have to be reserved for a time I'm not thinking about the guest list.

                    Thanks for the tips - I checked out Laide and KiWe's websites but I think I'm looking for something with a little more variety on the menu (could I be asking too much?)

                    What are your thoughts on The Drake Hotel? What about the Red Room - I keep hearing about that too.

                    Really appreciate your input - great for a newcomer!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: shylo

                      i really like the red room. i usually just go for drinks, but they have great sangria, and a pretty good pad thai and spring rolls

                      1. re: shylo

                        I don't like the Red Room much. It's been a few years since I've been there though. It is very cheap, but the food is bad. Honestly the food is probably better at a chain pub. The service is also very amateur, I wouldn't bring a large group there for dinner personally for fear of late & forgotten food. It does have a certain student/shabby chic charm and again, very cheap food. Let's say I might reluctantly choose it for a 21st birthday where a lot of the guests are on a budget, but not a special 30th birthday dinner.

                        What about Beer bistro? They apparently have a private room.

                      2. third vote for beerbistro.....however, the appetizers are way better then the mains......but the atmosphere is great. No dancing, but jazz band and tv's at the bar. Reasonable prices.

                        1. IMO, The Drake is a good hangout in the summer on the patio with drinks. I've never had anything to eat there that I'd rave about.
                          I like Beerbistro for the food too, not sure if it'd have the atmosphere you are looking for though.

                          1. sorry i know I recommend it all the time- but izakaya is a fun cheap and cheerful place for a large party and they will handle all the details if you want-
                            Wish is a great place for a party- you'd likely take the dining room with 30 people.

                            1. Other options are Eggplant on King and Jarvis or Kultura across the street...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: OnDaGo

                                eggplant was dead as a doorknob for a birthday dinner we were having, granted we went out on a tuesday... but it didn't leave me high hopes for weekends.

                                the food was from a menu that i'd expect in 2004, and it was competent but still lacked. oversalting, mismatched sides to mains, etc just really didn't do it for me.

                                DO NOT go to the red room. the food is abysmal and a poor take on any kind of asian food considering it's on spadina. the theme there is really low-budget university kid looking for a cheap spot to hangout.

                                if you're a fan of japanese food and all its glories... do not go to izakaya. if you're looking for some relatively tasty food without any regard to japanese at all... go to izakaya. the large room can be boistrous and fun, the sake-tinis are tasty and the food might not amaze but it'll more then suffice.

                                i enjoyed the food at laide the one time i went, it seemed expensive at the time but then jkwb and the like opened up afterwards.

                                personally... i'd head to king st west and probably go to lee and do the small plates thing (two plates can add up to $25) then maybe go across the street to brant house or whatever to fill out the rest of my evening. the great thing about lee is that it really does cover a wide range of choices in terms of carnivores, veges, fusion lovers, atmosphere and drinks.

                              2. Wow, thanks for all the tips. I'll check out Beer Bistro and Izakaya.

                                Noted re the Red Room - I'm pretty picky when it comes to any type of asian food - most days I'd much rather go to a greasy spoon on Spadina than have overpriced fusion. Although I've always been curious about Lee and of course Susur but Lee is probably better in the range for the party.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: shylo

                                  Beer Bistro is far and away a better choice than Izakaya. I wish they had called Izakaya "The Noodle Factory" so that a proper Iz joint could open with the most appropriate name.

                                  Agree DO NOT go to Red Room.

                                  I think the very best choice for great food and value would be found at Brassaii on King West. It is an awesome room for celebration. You would also have many choices in the area should any of you wish to dance afterward.

                                  1. re: deelicious

                                    I disagree regarding Brassaii. I was there for a large birthday party about a year and a half ago and it was over priced, mediocre small portions and on top of that they ended up scamming us into getting over $100 in bottled water.

                                    I'd rather go to Blowfish across the street, but then some people on here don't like that place. I've always enjoyed it there and it is reasonable if you order a la carte (don't do the tasting menu there, if cost is a concern).

                                    1. re: pescatarian

                                      Nothing wrong with Blowfish either as long as you know everyone in your party enjoys that type of menu. It is much more limited than Brassai where BTW I have never found the portions to be meagre. I have entertained business groups several times at Brassaii and have had nothing but excellent result and reaction.

                                      As far as being scammed for over 100 bucks in water, I can't imagine what would have been the cause of that. I dont think the waiters are instructed to steal from the guests...but I may be wrong after eating there for over 4 years and never having it happen to me.

                                      1. re: deelicious

                                        I'm glad that you have had good experiences there, but there were about 16 of us there that would likely never return.
                                        Regard the portions, I do not have unrealistic expectations regarding portions and I and others there found them small and the taste was nothing to remember.
                                        I agree that Blowfish is limited and everyone would have to be up to sushi, but in my experience I have enjoyed the overall quality there much more.
                                        Regarding the water, I was surprised too, but that is what happened. I am much more cautious and aware now when waiters start pouring bottled water without asking us if we would like to pay such a hefty price for water (which I would not).

                                        1. re: pescatarian

                                          I agree that the food at blowfish is usually more impressive than Brassaii (but not always). For the sake of the original poster I can add that I have been to blowfish with non-sushi eating guests and they enjoyed the main courses as much as I loved some of the unique maki. The menu is limited in that it is all fish/seafood, cooked or raw.

                                          1. re: deelicious

                                            Blowfish also has various staeks as well as chicken on the menu. for those that don't prefer sushi.

                                            1. re: tasoid

                                              Shows ya. I have never been with anybody who ordered that there to notice. Thanks!

                                        2. re: deelicious

                                          It's the latest Toronto resto scam - start pouring bottled water to a large group and hope that people either don't notice until it's too late or that nobody speaks up to ask who ordered it in fear of offending someone else in the group.

                                          It happened to me at Trevor recently (see previous posting) - I was just (i) lucky enough to be at the end where the waiter started pouring one of the four bottles he had opened in anticipation of juicing the bill; and (ii) mouthy enough to stop him.

                                          Remember that bottled water is generally $1 per bottle from a restaurant supply company, so the markup is phenomenal - much better than a bottle of wine.


                                          1. re: Cereal Killer

                                            Hilarious. If you choose to drink bottled water...then you will drink bottled water. If you choose to not drink bottled water (for whatever reason...i.e feel its a 'rip-off) then simply ask for ice water. Don't order one bottle of water and then assume that the server should ask you every 5 minutes if you would like another! Thats the problem with the diners in this city! If you have a problem, let them know. I'm sure they will gladly remove the $6 charge and make you feel like a cheap-skate! And by the way...I don't think bottled water (good brands anyhow) cost $1! More like $1.75-$3.50.

                                  2. I was at Brant house for a birthday recently, and it was a mixed bag. Had the tasting menu ($50/pp, min of 4 ppl). Overall, the food was good - the mini lamb burgers were flavourful if a little dry, the flat iron steak was cooked medium well despite specific insistance on rare, and the mini mezza was a welcome change of pace. Sushi rice tuna was a borderline disaster, but the tuna gods quickly smiled upon us with what was for me the hit of the night - the citrus and chili seared tuna, which was cooked to textbook perfection. Service was good overall - perhaps a little absent, but the place was absolutely rammed with revelers. Weak wine list.

                                    It was nice not having to jump into a cab to go to a club after dinner. They cleared the tables out around 10PM, and we were thrust into the dancing mob. Music was typical crappy house. Drinks were pricey, and it was a little tough to get service at the back bar (nothing new; this is Toronto after all). Front bar seemed ok. Getting the coats at the end of the night proved problematic, as the line for coat check seemed to wind through half the club.

                                    I wouldn't trip over myself to go back largely due to the club element and coat check issue, but food-wise Brant House exceeded my low expectations.