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40th B-Day in Toronto -- Senses, Susur or . ???

  • k

I want to take my husband out for his birthday to a special restaurant with phenomenal food -- preferably, but not necessarily, with a tasting menu. We have never been to Toronto and are really looking forward to our trip! The guidebooks keep mentioning these two, but thought I would ask the posters to this board whether you thought either of these were a good choice for a special occasion or had any other suggestions. Thanks so much in advance. ~KSC

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  1. I really enjoyed my recent Birthday at Scaramouche. Tasting Menus are only available through the week, however.

    1. When I first started planning where I would take my hubby for his 50th birthday, without a doubt it was going to be at Splendido. Mind you, this was back when I thought it was only going to be the two of us. But definitely Splendido. I love their food.

      1. Susur is wonderful - really special (but make sure you book at "Susur" for the full experience, not "Lee," the more casual sister resto next-door).

        Senses was probably recommended on the strength of chef Claudio Aprile who recently left to start his own venture - Colborne Lane (I haven't been as yet).

        I think either would be a treat, but I'd probably lean toward Susur.

        1. Without a doubt Splendido. This is the whole 'Michelin star' experience. Tasting menu (and optional well-chosen wines by the glass for every course); superb service; tables set reasonably far apart; cozy lighting.
          Your guidebooks are a little out-of-date (as mentioned above) as Senses has changed direction recently (it has improved!). Susur is more inventive but the service there has been the subject of much criticism on this board.
          And Scaramouche isn't a bad choice either.

          1. I would also highly recommend Splendido. My friend went to Truffles about a month ago. He said the food was good but not excellent but the service was amazing. The sommelier, Sara D'Amato, was extremely helpful. He felt that even though he's not an expert at wine, she was very informative without being condescending. I have dined there and agree with that statement. He said he found pictures of Truffles (not specifically what he ate) at www.jamesbeard.org go to features then photo gallery and then to Jan. 9th..international chefs. (I have never felt comfortable taking pictures of food in a fine dining establishment myself)
            I had my 25th anniversary dinner at Splendido and it will be forever a highlight to us.

            2 Replies
            1. re: indigestion

              I just went to the web site. The plates definately do not look that well in those shots. However, it could be the lighting. But that cheese plate does not look very professional. It does not look like fine dining. Boring and not very appealing. I've seen better pictures from student food blogs than those. You would think being at James Beard, the presentation would be outstanding.

              1. re: biteme

                Hmmm, I am afraid I was correct. Those plates do not look like four star items to me. That cheese plate is rough!!! Sara D'Amato is a genius and should have a chef at the same caliber as herself. To be fair the photography does have poor lighting.

            2. where are you from and what kind of food does your husband prefer?

              Susar is good if you find asian fusion new or exciting
              Bymark is my favourite restaurant for special occasions, specifically for their tasting menu -- it would be better for someone who preferred more classic flavours (truffle, foie gras etc) and a little more red meat in their meal.

              Someone else would have to describe Splendido's style, I find it a bit boring personally.

              1. Hey go where the pros go..OPUS!!

                1. My two favourite fine dining splurges are Splendido and Perigee. I personally think Perigee is more inventive and a more interesting evening, due to the open kitchen and the interaction with the chef(s). But if you want something a bit more safe, then Splendido is the way to go -- you are guaranteed a wonderful evening there. The service is impeccable at Splendido and the sommelier, Carlo, is fantastic to talk to and work with.

                  1. Just went to Senses. Nothing special though their desserts are quite good. Susur is more expensive than Senses and you better eat fast because they make you leave after about 2 hours or so and service is so so (and downright rude on one occasion). They have 2 seatings and are very strict about time. If you're 15 min late they will not serve you the tasting menu.

                    So I'd recommend neither Susur nor Senses for a special occasion. Instead, I agree with the majority for Spendido. Both their food and service excellent.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: syoung

                      What did you eat at Senses? Details please. I'm thinking of going there again.

                      1. re: quadrature

                        We went about a week ago. I had the New York Sirloin (a special off-menu order) and my wife had the cod. The steak was not bad but not worth the $50-something that they charged. I forgot what we ordered for dessert but it was all very good. The wines were also on the expensive side with a mark-up on average of about 300+% LCBO price. It was a Friday night and the restaurant was about 2/3 full at peak but the bar area was almost full. All in all, not bad but a bit expensive for what you get.

                        1. re: syoung

                          I don't mean to whine, but that isn't a very detailed description as to why you disliked or enjoyed something. I guess I will have to go myself.

                    2. Susur, Susur, Susur. We had a very good meal at Splendido a few weeks ago, but everytime we go back to Susur, it knocks us out. If food, rather than service is the issue, Susur hands down.
                      I have always had good service at Susur, but some people complain. On the other hand, the service at Splendido, Scaramouche etc. is first-rate but the food never blows me away.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rsvp7777

                        I've been to Susur 3 times (that I can recall) and it was very far from blowing me away. In fact, at a steep $200 per person (tasting menu and including wine) that we ended up paying, it was kind of disappointing. The last time I went with a 'foodie' friend and we both rated it about 7.5/10.

                        The bad service we had a Susur came from the 2nd time I went with my wife and another couple. We ordered off the menu and had to wait a long time between appetizer and main which really cut into their self-imposed 2.5hr time limit, so to try and catch up, they served the dessert before everyone had finished the main which was unacceptable. We couldn't even order coffee! When we complained, the manager said something to the effect of "Well, the folks for the next seating have arrived and we can't keep them waiting". Well... is that our problem!!! So if you had good service, good for you,. But that night for us, it was beyond bad.

                      2. I am happy with the service I got from Susur too, food is also excellent.

                        1. I would add Barberian's, Opus or Via Allegro. Because of their excellent wine lists, you should be able to find a bottle from his birthyear. That would make your celebration extra-special.

                          For my 40th, my wife and I went to Barberians, not fancy dining, but quite a traditional steakhouse. We drank 1966 Chateau Pichon-Longueville and had 1966 Quinta Do Noval port.

                          1. splendido, or George.
                            George is less expensive, and quite relaxed.
                            I have not been to Susur this year and have given up on the restaurant, because although I have never experienced rude service, the servers on a busy night seem "harried".
                            My last experience was so so food, and even though I stressed that I don't eat game, I sent back two courses, one was venison carpaccio, and can't remember the other.
                            For this kind of money, I expect more.

                            1. As I mentioned on another post, Susur's food can be a little "baroque." Whenever you take these kinds of risks, there's going to be a little hit-and-miss.

                              All in all, I would choose according to your tolerance for adventure and risk. I think of all the places listed you stand the best chance of finding something "phenomenal" at Susur. But Splendido might be preferableif you want consistency and white-glove service. I think Susur is probably going to be better for the bolder. Splendido is probably going to be more pleasing for the purist.

                              And while there have been some great restaurants mentioned in this post, those two would be my top contenders (Colborne Lane third... but I've not been yet)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Rabbit

                                I'm not sure how you can rank Colborne Lane third but you've never been yet? Can you also tell me the lottery numbers for next week? ;-)

                                I don't agree that Splendido is any less bold than Susur. I've been to many bold restaurants around the world and I'd say neither Susur or Spendido is bold. If you want "adventure and risk", try Wylie Dufresne's WD-50 in Manhattan. Susur is traditional asian fusion, but that don't make it bold. In fact, I'd say Perigee or Eigensinn Farm are bolder.

                                1. re: syoung

                                  Fair enough... Colborne got vote on strength of former chef-ing at Senses and pure desire to try out the new place - I'd take a chance. Didn't comment on Perigee because of haven't been - and Eigensinn would certainly be spectacular if KCS were able to travel.

                                  Will consider WD-50 next time we're in Manhattan. Staggering 15 course meal at Charlie Trotter, Chicago (several years back) continues to be the benchmark for me...

                              2. Bymark would be my choice. Really outstanding and a comfortable atmosphere for a birthday. I was there on Friday and the table next to ours had eight people enjoying a birthday celebration. The lobster poutine appetizer can't be missed.

                                1. Susur wins the battle. Nuff said.

                                  1. Susur? Not a chance. Too much ego. For $200 per person, the hit-and-miss potential and imposed time limit make me say no way.

                                    As for Splendido, I have always found the service to be uptight and unwelcoming. David Lee is a great Chef, but service rules.

                                    I'm with erly, go to George. Fantastic food & great service (relaxed, not white glove). The ambience is great, especially on a bustling weekend night.

                                    1. I would highly suggest Scaramouche. I took my parents for their 40th anniversary. Food, service, view, evertything was spectacular. When you call to make a reservation, mention the occasion, and they will accomomdate you with a great table, and maybe a little surprise for dessert. Enjoy!

                                      1. Splemdido all the way