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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.

                1. Splendido is indeed a great spot. How about Perigee in the distillery district? Quite the location, great food and interesting seating. It is however about a $15 cab ride from Bloor/Spadina.

                  Canoe is also a great place to go with an amazing view.

                  1. although splendido and scaramouche are excellent choices. i would definitely not classify them as 'hip'. given that your gf has just finished her undergraduate my assumption would be that you are in your early 20's ...perigee would definitely be a more unique experience. you will definitely not be rushed. the table is yours for the night and you can expect to be there for close to 3 hours. the food is outstanding and the cobblestone walkway in the distillery area would definitely add to the 'uniqueness' of the experience.....if you're looking for a more trendy/funky atmosphere with really good unique food, you may want to check out kultura. i enjoyed both the atmosphere & the service there...the sommelier kim cyrs (sp?) treats you with complete respect & enthusiasm whether you're ordering a $40 bottle of wine (as we did) or a $400 bottle of wine. i would also agree with the poster who suggested martini boys (www.martiniboys.com) for further searching....let us know what you choose...enjoy!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: todc1996

                      Glad to see someone else suggesting Perigee..I was wondering if I missed the mark when noone else suggested it ahead of me :)

                      Another possibiity that could be amazing atmospherically is The Fifth...I haven't been in a while and I heard that things had changed a bit and the elevator and upper resto part were no longer in operation? But if it is, that would be a truly memorable time...walk down a little alley, in a decrepit elevator and up to a decent meal (again, things (chef) has probably changed since I was last there(14mos), so some others will need to chime in on this).

                      1. re: todc1996

                        Kultura is basically not in the same league as other restaurants mentioned here, a long shot to be called the best in TO. It is a trendy place, that's about it, very average food with good presentation (kind of). It is good value though with a relatively lower price tag.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          Kultura? Lower price tag? I thought I read here that it's expensive, especially for the tiny food quantities. But is the food any good???

                          1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                            Yes, it is like $15 for a small plate. But when you have to pay at least double of what you pay at Kultura to eat at Splendido and Perigee, etc, to fill your stomach, do you say it has a relatively lower price tag ?

                      2. thanks everyone for the advice! we'll be going out to splendido; let you know how it went!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ben iarwain

                          How did this board miss George??? Best I've had in Toronto, no question about it.

                          1. re: JonasBrand

                            When you say the best, which restaurant do you compare it to ? Do you compare it to Susur, Splendido ? And do you mean George has the best food, or best service or most romantic ??