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Very best Indian

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Having a guest from India this weekend.
He treats us like royalty when we are in his country.
Price no object.
Fine dining experience.
Restaurants with tablecloths, etc.
Anywhere in the GTA
He is a vegetarian, so I would like a restaurant with a good vegetarian selection
Help!

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  1. Are you sure you want to take him to an Indian restaurant? If I travelled to India, the last thing I'd want would be "Canadian" food. Just asking...

    1. My favorite place is Dimple. It is a nice place (not amazing) , The food is affordable and really good, But the best thing is the buffet. Its the only Indian buffet I know of in Manhattan that is open on the weekend.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JaredR

        Jared, erly has posted a query on the Ontario/Toronto board. Manhattan is not really an option.

        1. The Host is a fairly safe, "fine dining Indian" place with locations both downtown, I believe on Prince Arthur and in Mississauga near the big mall. I've been a bit dissapointed with the 'new' Biryani House on Wellesely, so won't recommend it. There are a few others that are quite good, but not in the fine dining realm. There is a place at Yonge and Sheppard that is supposed to be excellent, but not sure how fancy it is.

          1. Dine with SK often around the world (business) he always wants Indian food.
            Can't believe it myself!
            A couple of years ago we took him to Lotus Pond, and his reaction was "polite".

            3 Replies
            1. re: erly

              What about Sher-E-Punjab on the Danforth? http://www.thedanforth.ca/fastfood.ht... Or Jaipur Grille? http://www.jaipurgrille.com/ Both are a little more upscale than some and they've got decent food, and I notice that Jaipur Grille has quite a bit for vegetarians. This is from their menu:

              Vegetarian

              Kadahi Paneer Jaipuri
              Cottage cheese cooked with tomatoes, peppers & fresh roasted spices
              11.95
              Navrattan Korma
              Garden vegetables cooked in rich almond sauce with peaches & pineapple
              11.95
              Mushroom Mutter
              Field Mushrooms & green peas sauteed with ginger & garlic finished with sauce
              10.95
              Aloo Gobi ki Sabzi
              Cauliflower flowerets & potatoes tempered with ginger, turmeric & cumin
              10.95
              Sabzi Hara Masala
              Mix veg cooked in tribal way with roasted spice mix pounded with cashews
              10.95
              Baingan Kashmiri
              Diced eggplant cooked with fennel seeds, caramelized onions & tomatoes
              10.95
              Saag Paneer
              Baby spinach sauteed & braised with tomatoes & homemade cottage cheese
              10.95
              Hari Makai Palak
              Interesting combination of baby spinach & tomatoes with corn kernels
              10.95
              Bhindi Aloo Sabzi
              Fresh Okra tempered with ginger & cumin finished with caramelized onions
              10.95
              Chana Masala
              Chick peas cooked in tangy onion & tomato gravy
              8.95
              Daal Makhani
              Black lentils simmered overnight with light spices & tomatoes

              Erly, let us know what your friend thinks of the place(s) you choose.

              1. re: Full tummy

                Sher-E-Punjab is nice inside, but the food's pretty average. Typical watered-down sauces. My Indian friend swears by Bombay Behl, which has multiple locations (mississauga, etc), but it's not very fancy - no cloth tablecloths.

                1. re: Sinfulia

                  The Mississauga location (Meadowvale) indeed has "cloth tablecloths".. I have been there three times, and find it hard to believe anybody swears by their food.

            2. Kissan — vegetarian from the Sidfhartha peeps. Little India.

              1. I enjoy Babur on Queen st.

                1. I haven't yet tried Jaipur Grill, but have heard fantastic things about it and it's next on my list.

                  I'm a big fan of Indian cuisine, and the only two restaurants I currently eat at in the city are Siddhartha (NOT the buffet, which is good by buffet standards, but a la carte is so much better) in Little India and Gateways of India on Baldwin. Both are superb.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: vorpal

                    I heard the same things. It proved to be average.

                  2. If he really wants Indian I would go in the opposite direction that you're proposing and take him to little India, so he can see what Toronto has to offer in terms of authentic Indian. Jaipur Grille is good but not fantastic, more mid range than high end. I can't imagine anyone who regulairly eats fantastic Indian being wowed by any of the places listed so far, they are good but not spectacular. Probably the Host is the fanciest, but again, really not fantastic. What about Xacutti? Indian fusion-ish?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: ddelicious

                      Of course, Little India would be well worth a visit, but is there anywhere on that strip that you would recommend as "fantastic"?

                      1. re: Full tummy

                        I was impressed with the Lahore Tikka House, obviously not a tablecloth sort of place but, when I was there, packed with people who looked like they would know excellent indian food! However, the guest is a vegetarian and I'm not sure what they have for veggies. I've also been to a great veggie place there and now can't remember the name, they had those enormous pakecake like things (sorry, memory not quite working at the moment) are they dosas? Anyway it was great and also packed but also not fancy.

                        1. re: ddelicious

                          According to a write up, the vegetarian offerings include: Vegetarian dishes include tarka daal, aloo gobi, channa masala, palak (spinach), the combo sizzler ($8.50) (channa masala, palak, and aloo gobi), palak and daal, palak paneer, and muttar panneer, all between $4.99-$8.50.

                          1. re: ddelicious

                            I drove by Tikka House Restaurant on Lakeshore Road in Clarkson they are closed.

                            1. re: flipkeat

                              That restaurant was not discussed in this thread. The "Lahore Tikka House" Pakistani restaurant is near Gerrard/Coxwell in Toronto.

                      2. I'd have to agree with Full Tummy...most people travel to experience different cultures and foods...not Canadianized versions of their food. Why not take him to Cafe 668 or maybe the Graceful Vegetarian Restaunat in the Pacific Mall

                        1. Although located in Little India, the Lahore Tikka House is actually pakistani food.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Finnegan

                            You mean Lahore Tikka Shack :-)

                            Since his friend is vegetarian and LTH is not, it wouldn't be a good choice.

                            Siddartha looks OK from the outside and is a vegetarian restaurant. There's also a more upscale place on the North side, one street east of Hiawatha. It's on a North-west norner but I don't remember the name.

                            1. re: Finnegan

                              Oh! Well that would explain why the food seemed so different to other "Indian" places .

                              1. re: Finnegan

                                India and Pakistan were one country 60 years ago. There is a lot of commonality to the food. The food seems a little different than other north Indian/Pakistani places because it's actually quite authentic.

                                1. re: spades

                                  Spades,

                                  Cuisines in most countries have evolved drastically in the last 60 years. Take the UK for example.
                                  You won't find pork in the Pakistani dishes, and probably not much fish either. (and no shellfish)
                                  The cuisine in India depends on the area of the country it's from. In the north, it's influenced by the Moghuls, and sometimes have cream and nuts as ingredients.

                                  Pakistani food is most similar to food from Northern India. It's nothing like what is cooked in Bombay, Goa, or further south.

                                  If you click this link http://www.indianfoodforever.com/ you will see some of the food available in various regions. You'd be surprised how much it varies. One type of food that you will never find in a restaurant is the cuisine of the Christians in Bombay. It is influenced by the Portuguese. Pork Vindaloo is one of the dishes that comes from that cuisine. Here is a link to the cuisine of the so-called "East Indians" of Bombay, which is the group I am from: http://www.eastindiansongs.com/EastIn...

                                  There is a short history of Indian cuisine here: http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/Indian_...

                                  You should also read this: http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/Indian_...

                                  After reading that I think you would have to agree with me that Pakistani food is not similar to Indian food, except perhaps that from some areas in the north.

                                  FD

                                  P.S. when I moved here from India, there wasn't a single Indian restaurant in Toronto and less than 100 Indians here. (I'm a pioneer :-)

                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                    Yes, you arecorrect... in my post I should have said that there is commonality between North Indian (i.e. Punjabi) and Pakistani food. I totally agree that south Indian cuisine is drastically different. Having travelled all over the subcontinent, I can certainly vouch. Thanks for the links, those are great.

                              2. We've always really enjoyed Dhaba (www.dhaba.ca). A lovely spot, unusual - and delicious -Indian food and a great location.

                                Haven't been to the lunch buffet, but have enjoyed several dinners there.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Webdude

                                  What did you find unusual? I found it pretty standard.

                                  1. re: ddelicious

                                    Been a while, but I remember a couple of novel appetizers, as well as this luxurious potato dish (we both eat vegetarian). Let me check with my wife - she has a much better memory than I do for these things.

                                2. Two places with both table cloths and wine lists: Kama Sutra on Bayview (great double entendre potential as well), and Tabla on Yonge just south of Lawrence. Tabla is a bit more formal, but both are high on my list of Indian for the city. Enjoy!

                                  1. I often go to Sher-e-Punjab, and I think it has gone down a little bit, sadly.

                                    Although I haven't tried personally, Kama Sutra in Leaside, and Tabla on Yonge both come quite highly regarded.

                                    cheers.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: antifoodie

                                      Sher-e-Punjab went downhill quite a few years ago. You will never see any Indians eating there. (at least not after I stopped going). And North Indian usually has limited vegetarian choices.

                                    2. How about Nirvana in Mississauga? Definitely a fine dining experience!

                                      You can check out the menu on their website: http://www.nirvanatheflavoursofindia....

                                      Or Brar Sweets and Restaurant? All vegetarian buffet with great food but it's definitely not a fine dining experience. :) They have three locations - Mississauga, Brampton and Etobicoke.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: sasgirl

                                        I went to Nirvana about a year ago. Excellent. I went there last week. Aweful. They have added a big "Hukka" section. I don't think that they are doing very well.

                                        1. re: sasgirl

                                          I was at Nirvana a couple months back. Really didn't get the appeal of this place.

                                          Very poor waitress. Bottle of wine was brought to the table already opened - that is a personal pet peeve, of course; when it happens all that races through my mind is wow-how-long-has-that-bottle-been-open, or I got somebody else's reject.

                                          Neither the SO or I found the food slightly impressive. All the meats were incredibly dry. The only thing I did like was the roomali roti.

                                          I'd also advise against Babur, as someone above mentioned.

                                          My favorite Indian is Moti Mahal, which is the polar opposite of a fine dining experience. Couldn't really recommend a white tablecloth kind of place with outstanding Indian.. but for good service, good atmosphere and good food, I guess The Host would be the way to go.

                                        2. Host - if the person is on the more conservative side and likes tablecloths and service....book a private dining room, food is good to very good - but not great. Nice ambience though. If they are more open to ahem "adventure" then Lahore tikka house...its the worlds longest running renovation experiment - has a kind of off-the-wall eccentric charm and the food is pretty good. A safe bet is Debu Sahars Biryani House on wellesley. Food is better than Khama and Dhaba - and setting is pretty pleasant. So there are three for you.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ministerofkebab

                                            Have you been to Debu Saha's Biryani House recently? It used to be my favourite Indian restaurant in the city, but my last couple of meals there were so awful that I've given up on it.

                                            I'd love to hear that it's returned to its former glory.

                                            1. re: FlavoursGal

                                              I have the same feedback. Had three fantastic meals there and then two terrible ones (benefit of the doubt and all that).

                                          2. I have been to http://www.brars.ca/home.html and although it is buffet (and not fancy) having so many options is amazing.

                                            Going to regular restaurants I have found that they dont put enough work/importance on veggie dishes.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: avec9

                                              My thing with the veggie dishes at Indian restaurants is I want a variety. I don't like going and getting a huge plate of just chickpeas, potatoes, cauliflower, etc for $10+ It would be nice if more places had something along the lines of a veggie thali.

                                              1. re: NovoCuisine

                                                If you want veg variety, I think that Saravana Bhavan in Mississauga is excellent. Not fancy, but very clean - Hurontario and Eg

                                            2. As much as I like Gerrard street there is no fine dining there . Udupi Palace has really good Dosa and the Rasam soup is a favourite . As nice as the people are who work there they always get your order wrong. Your meal very good but not fine dining . An earlier posting was right ,we have great Indian food but offering it to an Indian gourmet .....

                                              1. ok, so I think this article sums up what the poster would ideally like to find http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/03/04/...

                                                other than the cheap and cheerful, is there anything like these places in toronto?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ddelicious

                                                  I think that Xacutti would be the closest, and if it ever opens, Greg Couillard's Spice Room and Chutney Bar. (planned opening is March 17)

                                                  http://www.torontolife.com/guide/rest...

                                                2. The Regency on Gerrard in Little India...also good but not great..The New Haandi 2000, used to be our fave but one night we couldn't get in and the waiter suggested The Regency and we haven't been back to Haandi...it is getting pretty 'worn out looking' and the Regency really is a notch above in all aspects.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: pearlD

                                                    BTW, New Haandi is having a makeover. Their food is excellent though, all the same. I highly recommend their beef biriyani, lamb korma, garlic naan.

                                                  2. I'd also put in a vote for Dhaba on King St at John. Wonderful service. Gets busy with the theatre crowd, so you may want to avoid certain times. www.dhaba.ca

                                                    1. Please, please don't ask your friend to eat in most of Toronto's South Asian restos - they are just not 'Indian food' as in India, esp in terms of the veggie selections (I'm not blaming the, just stating a fact). Saravana Bhawana is the one of the few exceptions - and that while good, is there in one form or another as Udupi-style places in every Indian town. I had a friend from Delhi visit London (UK) recently and she was bemoaning how people would keep on taking her to Indian restos - sure, she was interested in seeing them, but wanted to eat other foods. She will visit us in Toronto soon and apart from Iqbal or Mr Chillies which serve Pakistani meat dishes you can't get very readily in India and what we cook at home, we don't plan to inflict Indian food on her.

                                                      My suggestions would be: take your guest to see Little India as a tourist, and then for meals at some of the veg-friendly places in Toronto such as Fressen. Lots of suggestions on the boards from past posts about this. Remember Indian vegetarians usually eat all dairy products but not meat or fish - sometimes they eat eggs, but often not. If you want to give him a wonderful experience he will never forget, you can call up a place like Jamie Kennedy and ask them to prepare a veg tasting menu or something. Even 'real Chinese' places like Dragon Dragon Dynasty have some veg dishes which he will be able to eat, and it will be a new experience, totally different from Chinese restos in India. I would suggest that experiences such as pubs, fine dining restos etc which are still limited in India are what you should offer. All the best.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: js288uk

                                                        JS288UK, if u want REAL indian food, u need to have MOTI MAHAL on gerrard st. by far the best indian food, exactly like wat u eat when u go to india.

                                                      2. I realize that everyone has the best intentions telling erly not to take his friend to Indian restaurants -- but did you all see his follow up post? His friend WANTS Indian food and erly is trying to accommodate. Based on erly's other posts on this board, I say that he/she is experienced enough to know what other good food options there are in Toronto.

                                                        Sorry, erly, I don't have any useful suggestions for really good fine-dining Indian restaurants. I love Maroli, but it's definitely a take-out joint.

                                                        1. not only does he want Indian (not Pakastani) but his guest is a vegetarian...

                                                          1. Lahore Tikka in Little India is fantastic....but it's meat dishes are its best.
                                                            A really great little restaurant is Jodhpore Club on Baldwin. Eggplant Korma is yummy - and there are quite a few good veg options. Pretty nice atmosphere....and Baldwin area is nice to walk around.

                                                            1. I have heard Kwality Sweets in Brampton is extremely good, but I don't know if it is too far for you.