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Best Romantic Gourmet Rest. in the city?

So, my girlfriend and I are heading to Toronto for a week from Portland, OR while she attends a microbiology conference. She's recently completed her undergraduate studies and I'd like to surprise her by taking her out to a hell of a meal, while subtly impressing her with my uncanny ability to squirrel out the finest atmosphere in the city.
These are my criteria, in order of importance: creative, rich, gourmet dishes; romantic and/or hip atmosphere where we won't feel rushed; warm and helpful staff who can recommend a good bottle of wine without making you feel like an idiot. I've been saving up for this one for a little while, so for once, price will not be an object. Also, we will be relying on public transportation or maybe a cab if need be, so it can't be too far off the beated path..we will be staying near the Spadina and Bloor subway stop.
If anyone's got any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! I spent some time looking around on the net for toronto's equivalent of citysearch or barflymag.com and haven't come across anything helpful yet. Any tips for a good user-review restaurant site?
Thanks so much!
nick

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  1. Torontolife.com is the standard review site (besides this one, of course) and has the places in categories which might be helpful.

    Recommendations? There will be debate (and if you browse this board you'll see many of them), but I will go with Splendido. Fabulous food, flawless service. It might be a bit of an older crowd, but I started going there in grad school and was never made to feel out of place. Plus, you can't beat a champagne cart for romance!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Minnow

      I'd agree that Splendido is the best bet overall (food, service, ambiance, etc), meets all of your criteria and is considered by many to be the best restaurant in the city (I'd agree). The crowd can be a bit older but when we've dined there we've never been made to feel uncomfortable.

      If you're looking for other options you could also think about Scaramouche (make sure you get a window table), Auberge de Pommier, and on the hip side maybe Susur. None are as good as Splendido but all can deliver a great/romantic experience as well.

        1. re: Charles Yu

          Add my hands too.
          AND if you really want to surprise her, don't tell her you have a reservation and suggest you just stroll to a neighbourhood restaurant - Splendido is about a 10-minute walk from Bloor/Spadina.
          On second thoughts, maybe that's not such a bright idea - she may resent it (and you) if she dresses too casual and then feels uncomfortable/underdressed.

      1. re: Minnow

        I don't disagree with the Splendido/Susur/Scaramouche threads or the comments about the hip/cool factor. I'm a huge fan of the food and service at Perigee but while there may be a certain hipness to its location I don't find the decor, lighting or big open room to be all that romantic. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Amuse Bouche. I haven't been there in a while, but the food is good and the small size of the restaurant and the nice patio out front can be very intimate and romantic.

        1. re: Ottawagy

          For romance (and excellent food), this is a good call. The patio is especially lovely, if it's open.

          1. re: Ottawagy

            Have to agree with you re: Perigee, I didn't list it because I don't really think it lends itself well to a romantic dinner. Love the food but found the service to be a bit hit or miss, plus the space really doesn't have that sort of romantic feel to it imo.

        2. Good recommendations... I also like Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar (but only if you actually sit at the bar). Interesting menu, helpful staff, good vibe (perhaps slightly more hip than romantic) and always feels like surprising value. Small plate menu, so you have to think sharing is romantic.

          As for a site to help you get the feel for what's going on in Toronto, I'd recommend www.martiniboys.com or possibly www.nowtoronto.com.

          (and apologies in advance to mods if I'm not supposed to be posting those links - I think it's OK??)

          1. For romantic, overall great food and service, Splendido and Scaramouche are my picks. You sure can impress girl by going to either place, both have a romantic atmosphere. Scaramouche has better decor like it got a beautiful dining room as you can have a view of CN tower if you got the window seat, but other than that, Splendido beats it in all other criteria.
            But for creative, rich and gourmet dishes, Susur has my vote !

            1. Consider also Mildred Pierce.
              Off the beaten path, friendly staff, romantic room, and also a patio if it's a warm evening.
              I think their menu is posted on dine.to

              1 Reply
              1. re: Swizzlelover

                Comparing the 'whole package' provided by Mildred Pierce with those of Splendido and/or Scaramouche is like comparing Honda with Mercedes or BMW.

              2. Go with Splendido, you can't go wrong. Meets all of your criteria. The service is truly flawless and Carlo, the sommelier is fantastic. He will help you pick a great bottle, no matter what your price point, and never make you feel cheap or ignorant. And as a bonus, you are staying within walking distance.