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Romantic dinner for teen couple?

A young man of my acquaintance (17 years old) wants to take his girlfriend (16 years) out for a nice "fancy" dinner on their one year anniversary of being boyfriend/girlfriend in two weeks.

He has asked his friend, my daughter (17), who knows nothing of course, for advice as to where to go. I am trying to help.

As far as I can tell, it's important to the young man that the young lady be suitably impressed and to him that means, at the very least, linen cloths on the tables. Money appears to be no object to him (he's in love). But of course, as they are not buying wine, his bill will be nothing like any chowhounder's.

To my mind, the quality of service is crucial here, even more important than quality of food. I think it's of utmost importance that this young couple not run into any snooty or indifferent or intimidating waiters. This would drastically undermine the young man's intention, set the young woman (a fiesty one) off, and ruin their night.

These are east end/beaches kids and I've been trying to think of a suitable resto for them in the area, but I have a feeling the young man would travel to wherever it takes to make his loved one happy.

So, I'm asking for recommendations for places that would provide reasonably good food and a classy ambience but most important, respectful and supportive service for a young under-age couple on an important milestone date. Starting in the Beaches/east end and then beyond.

Any suggestions?

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  1. I can definetly recommend the globe bistro on danforth www.globebistro.com, I had a great bday meal there with good service and delicious food and there are things on the menu that aren't too "exotic" so since they're young they can still find things they're familiar with.
    Perhaps another good choice is Batifole, but the girl (depending on how open minded she is), might not be able to get past the neighbourhood and sometimes a first impression can ruin the impression of the food (I'm assuming theyre not exactly "foodies" and if theyre like my younger sister and her friends, ambiance is reallly important!). Hope that helps!

    1 Reply
    1. re: hungryabbey

      My little cousin took his GF (same ages) to Brassaii for Valentines Day and loved it. They were blown away by the grand room and the cool younger adults. The next day he called and asked me if I could sneak them into any of the clubs around there because they were so excited about the night life and all the cool dressed people.

      I have always experienced gracious servers at Brassaii that I think will make them feel comfortable and cool.

    2. Brassaii and Globe are both great ideas. At Globe, a discreet mention of the occasion to GM / Maitre d' Adrian Amara or owner Ed Ho would, I'm sure, result in some kind of special treatment.
      Another option, if the young woman is partial to sushi, is Blowfish. Stylish, fun and a great menu to boot.

      5 Replies
      1. re: estragon

        The service at Blowfish is ok, but not great. And there is no linen cloths on the tables. The table are very close to each other too. Food is average IMO except the Tiger Shrimp on Hot stone with truffle sauce.

        1. re: skylineR33

          Alright, then. Too crowded and noisy -- good point. Strike it from the list. We had great service and a great meal on our visit, but perhaps it's not the place for a special romantic dinner.

          1. re: estragon

            Pasta Bar is a good option. Can be very romantic and the service is usually good.

            1. re: acd123

              On second thought, Pasta Bar does not have much of a hipness factor, so I'll keep thinking. Food is good, view is great, decor is elegant, but they would likely bump into people their parents age and not people in their twenties and thirties.

              1. re: acd123

                George would be a very good pick, as would Cava (both trendy and quite cheap without wine {although they both do corkage as an alternative as well}), as they are modern, chic, and I have had great service at both (perhaps the best in Toronto at Cava).

                If you want somewhere a little less formal but still fun, the Patio at Boba is a great place, mention the occasion to Bob (he and his wife Barbara own the place, though he is usually more out and about) and he will likely do something special.

      2. Maybe not cool/impressive enough for this occasion as the decor & menu are dated, but as teenagers who liked a good meal out we were always treated as valued customers at Michelangelo's on Gerrard.

        3 Replies
        1. re: julesrules

          Yeah, I know what you mean about the cool/impressive factor. I've added Michelangelo's to the list as well the other excellent suggestions. And in the same vein as your comment, I think I'll throw in Bibiche Bistro. The food is good and the service will make them feel comfortable.

          1. re: JamieK

            I wouldn't recommend teenagers go to Bibiche. The food is good, but the decor is hideous... I felt slightly embarrased to be there. It smelled too strongly of incense or Glad plug-ins as well.

            1. re: Tara9000

              Thanks, I haven't been there for a few years, it wasn't like that then. I'll take if off the list.

        2. Batifole... the servers there know how to do it right!

          1. ha, so wish i'm 17 again, anyway, how about la maquette? The interior is elegant, but it's french, ha~ I've heard some good feedbacks from my friends but I've never been to the place. Hope it helps

            1. La Maquette is very elegant in Toronto, but IMO a little bit old fashioned for 16-17 year olds.
              All the restaurant recommend here so far are Summerlicious restaurants starting from 6 July for like 2 weeks, except Blowfish.

              I really suggest you stay away from the summerlicious restaurants if the big day falls within that period because as you said, it is such an important milestone for the couple. There is a risk that they will get rush/bad service and sub-par food.

              Globe is good choice though I think.

              2 Replies
              1. re: skylineR33

                Why not ViVetha in the Beach, or the new Balsam restaurant? Spiaggia? None are my top choice, but for sure I would have been blown away when I was 17.... I was impressed to be taken to the Keg when I was 17!

                1. re: thenurse

                  Yeah, I know, the Keg was it for me when I was 17!

                  I thought of Balsam too. I know it's been slammed by some here and in the Star but I think it might be the kind of place they would enjoy, depending on the service.

                  Spiaggia is a good suggestion. After reading about it here, ViVetha is now on MY list of places to go. But I haven't been there or seen it. Does it look "special" enough for this event?

              2. Mildred Pierce

                It's not exactly close to the East End...but a streetcar ride away and is a great spot to go to for a young couple that wants to be impressed.

                1. bah, i had to repost so i was beat to the mildred pierce suggestion... but it follows...

                  i can't offer up anything in the east end since i almost never eat there...

                  but one place i'd suggest is mildred pierce. while an after analysis of my meal was that i had hoped for a better price point, the food was fantastic, service accomodating and the patio absolutely gorgeous. they had told me this was their fullest year of wisteria ever and the romantic feel of it all trumps the generally older crowd.

                  while batifole is lovely for food and service, i can't imagine the location or place impressing the girl.

                  i'm going to suggest amuse bouche as my top pick. fantastic atmosphere, i believe the patio is now open and they hand out their pashminas on cooler evenings (she would definitely LOVE the service of that), they're incredibly wonderful and helpful there and the people they would be surrounded with are bound to impress them. modern but romantic and a definite hideaway spot.

                  brassaii wouldn't be a bad choice, but the coolness of the room is sometimes just a bit much and really just cold to me. their food was mediocre but the service was perfectly fine.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    Thanks to diesta & pinstreipeprincess for the Mildred Pierce suggestion. That looks like a good one.

                    I've just been to the Amuse Bouche website and, wow, I've just added to my own personal list of must-go places.

                    The couple are not true foodies but the girl's mother is French and she has done a fair bit of travelling in her life, including some time in France. So she is a little more sophisticated -- or at least worldly -- when it comes to food than most 16-yr-olds. A place like Amuse Bouchant might be the ticket, although I can see her loving Mildred Pierce too.

                    1. re: JamieK

                      Mr. Greenjeans in the Eaton Center.

                      1. re: Edith S

                        Ha-ha, that's funny. Wait, I've got a better one. The Old Spaghetti Factory.

                    2. re: pinstripeprincess

                      I have to say my last meal at Mildred Pierce was extremely average, worst of all my food came out almost cold, it felt like it had been sitting on a counter for 20min..... service was nothing special.... I have, in the past, liked the restaurant enough that I will give them another chance

                    3. Someone suggest Mildred Pierce ?? How can the couple get to Mildred Pierce ?? I believe the 17 years old does not even get a level 2 license yet by July, right ?

                      Cab from East end to MP is doable though if the guy does not care about cost or get a limo or something ... I guess.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: skylineR33

                        there is this lovely street called king street. it has a 24 hour ttc line on it and is actually quite decent to get around on by car outside of bank hours. king street and queen east actually split off from each other at just before the dvp. in fact, amuse bouche is accessible via the same route but you'd just get off of king a little earlier. in fact, they could stay on queen street if they really wanted and enjoy the scenery through the city.

                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                          It is quite a walk in the quiet neighournood after getting off the street car, it can be romantic, depends...Well, I guess it also can be romantic taking a journey together to eat, but I am positive that it is not something for my girlfriend (now my wife).

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            thank you for saying this as diplomatically as you did ... :)

                          2. re: skylineR33

                            Like Pinstripeprincess said, it's easy to get to King West from the Beaches, if not fast. Maybe public transportation isn't the most luxurious way to get there, but it does let you see the city in a great way. Lots of girls wouldn't mind, including me.

                            1. re: gloriana232

                              okok, maybe I got it wrong because I always drive there. And I always take King street and then turn on to Sudbury. I notice that it will be quite a long walk in a quite neighourhood after getting off the streetcar and this will not be something enjoyable for me especially if the girl is on 3" high heel on a special occasion. Is it a closer walk if taking the streetcar from queen street ?

                          3. My first choice would be Julie's Cuban - even though it isn't a table cloth place, and is west end, it is truly magical on a warm Summer night with all the fairy lights in the trees.
                            In the east I would suggest Paul's Spaghetti on Cosburn, west of Coxwell. Has linen table cloths, waiters in white shirts and black pants, attentive service without any pretension, very accessible food and of high quality. But it may not have the 'specialness' you're looking for. Family-owned, very popular in the neighbourhood so often a reservation is your best bet (always ask if the table is rebooked at a later time as they often do that). I think it is nice without being 'out of league'. Pasta sauces are very good and the meat entrees are also excellent. Fantastic chocolate cake for dessert.
                            I like Brasaii for effect - very aspirational for teenagers. Sopra would be similar that way. Batifole is amazing food, and great service, but the menu might be a little scary for them. Would she be horrified by horse on the menu?

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Julie McCoy

                              Call me a simpleton (or easy) but at 17, I too would have been impressed with the Keg! But kids these days, they grow up so fast ;)

                              I would suggest Kalendar on College St or Wish at Yonge & Charles. Or maybe even the Marche?

                              Or for shear novelty sake, the restaurant at the top of the CN Tower?

                              1. re: LovesToEat

                                honestly, my little sister is 17 and I can tell you that the keg mansion is her FAVOURITE place to go, and that even if we were to spend much more at a better "quality" restaurant in terms of food,service etc, the keg mansion is still in her mind, the best treat! I think its the room, and the beautiful building.. kids that age probably dont know much about fine dining other than the decor must be nice and they can get a little bit dressed up. Plus, a nice big steak is a special meal that isnt exotic, so they both (I would think) would really like that.

                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                  + 1 Keg. They have a steak+Lobster summer special going on which is pretty cool ! They sold out quick though, so be early ! Maybe then head to Doku 15 (rather than Demetries) for a dessert+ drink, dessert there is actually pretty good. it is along subway line, it is super cool ! Very hip, dark, romantic place, table not close for sweet talk.

                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                    I agree that the impact of the place and the fellow patrons make or break it for a 17 year old. I think The Keg is a fine choice too, but for the same money, Brassaii is in the coolest young area in Toronto that is simple to access. It attracts cool young diners. The service is perfect and respectful of young people. I don't think they will fit in as comfortably at Amuse, Focaccia or Mildred .

                                    My top votes are now for Brassaii, The CN Tower, and The Keg (if they like the idea of The Keg and have never been). Also I disagree that Scaramouche is a better option over the CN Tower for a 16 year old.

                                    I agree that Kalendar is far too crowded and truly not an exciting place to enter.

                                    The impact of The Keg Mansion, or Brassaii or making a night out of the newly-lit CN Tower is a vital component. Forget the food - it just needs to be inviting and presented in a special way.

                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                      I have to agree, hungryabbey, with your estimation of teens' appreciation of The Keg mansion. If the girl has not been there before, I think she will enjoy it very much. Lots to look at; the staff, in my experience, are quite friendly and welcoming; it feels quite "grand"; and, the portions are big enough to satisfy the hungriest of hollow-legged teens. I would also suggest the Il Fornello on the Danforth. Good pizza, great location. They can go for a walk along the Danforth and go to Demetre's after or go out to a café, if they want, but there's always plenty of action in the neighbourhood.

                                      Most importantly, however, is that the young fellow figure out where his date has been to eat before, and then he can judge her standards better. Perhaps Batifole or Globe Bistro are more appropriate, but knowing myself as a teen, and all my friends' kids now, I would be very surprized.

                                    2. re: LovesToEat

                                      LOL... kids are more sophistimacated than we give them credit for, I think.

                                      As to your recommendations, I would disagree about Kalandar on College. It is too crowded... the tables are really close to each other, which may not be condusive to a romantic evening. I actually thought about Wish too, but then I remembered Focaccia, where I think they can get a marginally better price point for similar experience. As for the CN Tower, for similar prices and view, but better food, they can go to the pasta bar and grill at Scaramouche.

                                  2. I like the Brassaii recommendation... although the decor is a bit "cool", I do think the sophistication of the decor and service, as well as the uber-hip neighbourhood it's in, makes it a great choice. Globe Bistro is also a good recommendation.

                                    I would also throw in Bodega on Baldwin. It's in Baldwin Village, which is a very charming tree-lined, out-of-the-way street. And the restaurant itself is very reasonably priced, the menu is accessible (French classics), service is friendly, and the atmosphere is tranquil and cozy.

                                    Focaccia on Hayden might be another nice spot. Just off of Yonge Street, it is easy to find and get to, menu is accessible, prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is cozy.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Juniper

                                      In that area, perhaps not for dinner, but dessert and coffee afterwards, how about 7West...

                                      1. re: diesta

                                        7West get's my vote for dessert and coffee afterwards as well for them!


                                        1. re: Poorboy

                                          Dessert and coffee afterward can also be had at the crepe place across from City TV - I often see young couples giggling over a crepe... Cool spot.

                                    2. When my sis and her boyfriend were that age, and wanted to celebrate their anniversary, her boyfriend made reservations at the CN Tower...the veiw is great, the atmosphere is really lovely, and if you plan it right, you can see the city during sunset and dark. I don't know why it gets such a bad rap though because the meal that I had was quite lovely....not spectacular but I definetly enjoyed it. And I think that for a special ta-da evening, it is the perfect venue for this teen couple.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: icey

                                        I agree with the CN Tower suggestions. The food is really quite lousy for the price, but it seems that in this case food quality is secondary to the overall experience, anyway. It's fun.

                                        Someone should teach their kitchen how to cook a steak, though.

                                        1. re: icey

                                          I agree, 360 might be a good choice for them.

                                        2. Also, what about Czechoski's? I know it hasn't gotten impeccable reviews on here, and I've yet to go, but that part of Queen West is a pretty hip and interesting place to be. I suppose it could be a problem given their ages, but don't they have a more formal dining space too? - Or am I confusing things?...

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: littlegreenpea

                                            How about Toula ? The food there is also terrible but it got a killing view !

                                            The couple can have a romantic walk along queen's quay before/after dinner.

                                            It seems like this thread has covered half of the restaurants in toronto.

                                            1. re: skylineR33

                                              I think it's cute so many people are invested in how this turns out :) Yeah, lots of disparate opinions.... personally I think they might be more comfortable at cool but not uber trendy place (somewhere in the vast swath between Michelangelos and czehoski!). Wish struck me as a good suggestion, then they could go to 7 west for dessert.
                                              I think the OP has to come back and let us the outcome!

                                              1. re: julesrules

                                                I will definitely provide an update, as soon as I find out what's going on. Thanks everyone for the thoughtful suggestions!

                                            2. re: littlegreenpea

                                              i've enjoyed czehoski's food but the service has been very touch and go for me. if they were old enough to drink i'd suggest it but the place turns into a crazy zoo of music and alcohol after about 10pm (fun for me) but i doubt they'd feel very welcome. i've gotten one of the worst responses from wine upselling from them as well and would imagine that serving under-agers would not be their preference.

                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                Rosedale Diner indoors is candlelit by night and romantic in a non-stuffy and very affordable way. Also if the young man told Maria (at Gianni Maria on St Clair W) of the occasion she would make sure they were pampered in, again, an affordable place with good food.

                                                1. re: Bigtigger

                                                  what a cute thread- I love how some of the 'non chowish places' are getting props as being appropriate for some. I can't help but recall that when I was 17, I was eating pop tarts and mr. noodles on the regular.

                                                  1. re: nummanumma

                                                    while i'm not against the keg per se for 17yr olds... i personally have never gotten more than mediocre service and overcooked food. so it's just not a preference that i have since it hasn't been good experiences. in that case, if the food/service is appropriate then perhaps they should go to the one on york that i keep hearing about? apparently the decor is much more trendy and up to date. which also means the age range might be more what they'd appreciate as well.

                                                    the thing is.. at age 17 i was a budding foodie even if my parents weren't fans of eating out... hunting down mozzarella di bufala and fantastic fresh raw oysters were the name of my game. i still loved me a little packaged ramen, still love it now in fact. it's really hard to say what their foodie-ness is since we're suggesting to a 3rd degree of reference.

                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                      The York Keg is absolutely the wrong atmosphere. It's an after-work gathering place for the Bay St. crowd -- noisy, boistrous, full of self-styled pick-up artists flashing their fat wallets.

                                                  2. re: Bigtigger

                                                    My only comment on Gianni Maria (as with Batifole) is that the place was packed and extremely noisy the last time I was there. I (perhaps incorrectly) view romantic as quieter and more subdued.

                                              2. Thought I'd bump this. Has the dinner happened yet and if so which restaurant and what was the verdict?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Aardvark

                                                  The dinner hasn't happened yet. The couple has had a tiff (again) and it may not even happen (ah, the joys of young love). However, I passed on most of the suggestions along with comments and links. The last I heard was that the boy was leaning towards -- ta dah! -- the Keg Mansion. He's been there before and I guess he likes the comfort factor.

                                                  Will update when I hear more. Thanks all again for your sensitive and insightful suggestions and comments.