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Steak Dinner in Downtown TO

  • j

Just arrived in TO and we would like to do Steak for dinner tonight. What is your take on:

-Harbour 60

Any other places we should try?


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  1. I really, relaly like Hy's out of all the places you mentioned above...

    1. Hy's has a great atmosphere - high ceilinged spaciousness or ask for a booth and a more clubby sensibility. The steaks are good, indeed everything is good enough but perhaps not as good as it should be given the prices. Barberian's is no less expensive and has an outstanding wine list, but a much more relaxed and less corporate feel - more diverse clientele - superb steaks, a larger menu and is, I would say, overall better value for your buck.

      1. I have a great story about Barberians...

        I went to Barberians for the first (and last) time in October 2002. I will NEVER forget the derogatory and rude statement that Aaron (yes, the owner), made to my sister as we entered the restaurant.

        She was wearing a beautiful classy black wool blazer and he asked her for her "coat". When she told him she would like to keep it on, he said:

        "Would you keep your coat on at your dinner table at home?"

        We were all (there were 2 other people with us) literally shocked into silence. We looked at each other and immediately considered leaving (which we should have) but did not.

        I remember the food being OK (I mean it's just steak after all), but I also distinctly remember having a disagreement with our server over the temperature of the Californian Cab Sauv he served us. It was chilled. And by chilled I mean closer to the 7-10 degree mark. And much too cool IMO for this type of wine.

        So, yes, I think the name Barberian suits the place quite well.

        1. I am sorry to hear about your poor experience at Barbarian's, Splendid Wine Snob. I was there on Saturday and had quite the opposite experience. I was waiting for my husband to park the car and standing at the bar. The host asked if I wished to be seated and I said I would wait. The bartender came over and gave me a glass of champagne while I was waiting. I thought that was a great touch.

          Not being much of a steak eater myself, I can give you my husband's take on all of these retaurants. This is in respect to their Porterhouse steaks, which is his thing:

          Barbarians: A few dollars more for Porterhouse, but a better cut than Hy's. I find it to be really nice there, but the service seems a bit less personal to me than Hy's, for some reason. Though the service was totally fine.

          Hy's: Great Porterhouse. I like the service, atmosphere and food at Hy's better. They give you great garlic bread! And I agree with Bigtigger about the booths, they are great. They also have a lovely room at the back which is quite opulent and a bit more private.

          Harbour 60: Not if you're paying. Everything is a la carte and I find the prices are frankly insulting (I recall paying almost $40 for 3 jumbo shrimps). I would certianly stick with the other two.

          Hope that helps and that you have a wonderful meal wherever you go.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mindyt

            yes harbour 60 is expensive but they use only USDA Prime beef and that is pricey meat. Based on current USDA prime costs I would guess that their cost on that $55 16 oz NY strip is about $30 or over 50% food cost where the norm for most restaurants is 30% and most steakhouses 40%. Dollar for dollar I believe they are on par with other high end steakhouse in Canada and the US who serve only USDA prime

          2. Of the three I've only been to Barberian's. I've dined there six times over six years and each time the food and service has been excellent. Yesterday I was looking for a restaurant for a belated Valentine's Day dinner and made a visit to Harbour 60's website. I concur with mindyt's husband about the prices, yowsers!! I've been to other high end steak places around Toronto and in other cities like Calgary and Vancouver and find that I still like Barberian's overall.

            I have a friend who's been to Barberian's and Harbour 60. He slightly prefers Barberian's more.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lister

              I've said it on another thread and I agree with mindyt that Harbour 60 prices are insulting. I didn't say that on the other thread (I used gouge) but that is the perfect word. That is an expense account place if there ever was one.

            2. Splendid, I am sure you are posting only what you saw and experienced; but Aaron Barberian is one of the most genuinely nice, down-to-earth human beings or restaurant owners you will ever meet - I can only imagine he was making a joke that feel flat. Give Barberian's another chance - and ask Aaron for help with your wine selections; you may see an entirely different side of him ! (btw I am not a friend of even an acquaintance of the man)

              3 Replies
              1. re: Bigtigger

                Bigtigger, yes, I am posting exactly my experience without any melodrama or exaggeration, and if it was indeed a "joke", it was an awfully strange one that even our male companions found rude. Honestly, I think the comment came from him sizing us up as "youngins" who wouldn't be spending the big bucks in his place and a waste of a table. Boy was he wrong. Not that it should matter whether someone is spending $50 or $2000 with respect to how people SHOULD be treated. Which gets me to the other point...

                What I find odd, is that your claim to not be a friend or acquaintance of the man is in direct conflict with you claiming him to be "one of the most genuinely nice, down-to-earth human beings etc". How do you know? How does anybody really know anyone in that setting for that matter? What I know to be true is that the restaurant business is fundamentally about acting. If you feel like crap, don't let them know. When you hate something your patrons have said or done, smile harder. You are selling your place, your food, your ambiance, and this is ultimately based on word of mouth (ie: this board!), so let's not get all soft and mushy and pretend that we can KNOW a proprietor based on the image he/she projects in the dining room.

                I am digressing here, I know, but just my two cents...

                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                  Splendid, you were there and I wasn't, so I am not arguing with you. Just saying that as someone who dines at Barberian's perhaps six times a year, I have seen Aaron there nearly every time, and watched his interactions with customers and staff, which have led me to judge him a happy, genial person who loves what he does. No one can wear a mask that long or successfully in such a high-stress occupation. My own interaction, other than saying "good evening" to him as he or we passed by, involved a wine purchase that was neither unusual nor expensive. He spent some time chatting about amarones, sharing his well-known expertise and making us feel welcome though we are neither "regulars" nor particularly big spenders. That is what leads me to feel that, however inapropos his comment, it was meant as a joke (in the same vein as the famously 'insulting' waiters at some delis) - and I also bet that if you drew this thread to his attention he would feel genuinely sorry that he caused you both such distress. That is simply a feeling, and I can't prove it ! But I know I am not alone in enjoying Barberian's rather than Hy's or Tom Jones which - whatever the merits of their food - seem to offer an atmosphere less personal and more "corporate" or "cold" or "detached." And I think the owner helps set that tone.

                  1. re: Bigtigger

                    "No one can wear a mask that long or successfully in such a high-stress occupation"

                    Funny, considering what kind of masks I've seen people wear in all kinds of high stress occupations so they can continue their livelihood.

                    Your points are well taken, however, I give restaurants of this "calibre" one shot only. That's it. They have to impress me (especially considering the prices they charge). I don't really care whether the guy is nice or not etc... I don't know him, never will. All I CARE about is getting great service and food. Point finale. But thanks for your comments.

              2. What we found about Harbour 60 was actually the steak itself was not even that expensive (although it came a la carte). It may have been even slightly less than Hy's (though Hy's includes a potato). It was all of the wine and the sides that were outrageous.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mindyt

                  You're correct. They really hose you on the alcohol and sides.

                  If I had just walked in an ordered a steak and a glass of water (although I couldn't really enjoy a good steak without wine) I probably would have thought it expensive but since it was an excellent steak I probably would have let it go. It was the total cost for two people that I found insulting not specifically the cost of the steak.

                2. Okay, I'm going low rent here and suggesting the Tulip where you will find fabulous steaks and minimal decor unless diner chic is your idea of design. It is located on Queen St., just west of Coxwell.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Zengarden

                    When calling Tulip steaks "fabulous" to an out-of-towner, I think it is important to include "For The Money". Fabulous for the money [maybe] and, fabulous if you enjoy breakfast steaks.

                    1. re: deelicious

                      All right. Addendum to previous post. "For the money."

                      Thanks for your input, Deelicious.

                      1. re: Zengarden

                        Plus, Tulip's a diner, not a steakhouse. (Don't want to give someone who's never been a wrong idea about the place.)

                        1. re: Teep

                          Good point. The Tulip needs to be described accurately so that it can stand on its own merit. Its all about the 'set up' for a classic spot like The Tulip.

                  2. Bardi's never gets any love. Solid every time.

                    1. I've never been to Hy's but
                      I have been to Harbour Sixty and was very disappointed. Their service was close to non existant . I could excuse them if they were very busy or short staffed but this was not the case. We had gone there for a birthday dinner for my parents . It was a table of five and to say the service was inattentive would be kind. Our waitress spent more time chatting with her waitress friend then serving us. The food itself was not spectacular. It was just grilled steak, not discernable from any other steakhouse. For the prices they were charging I was expecting much more. I have eaten at Ruth Chris's , Mortons , Moishes, Houstons, Black Angus and Barberians and out of all of those Harbour Sixty was the most lack lustre in terms of quality of steak, service and overall value.
                      With so many other options I would suggest passing on Harbour Sixty.

                      1. Caynon Creek - decent steaks, wonderful chop house and caesar salad, good wine list and pastry chef on premise. Steak house ambiance (dim light, plush seats) and music (Sinatra).