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Great Restaurant in Toronto - Celebration Meal, family from London UK

lauramhairi Jun 27, 2007 07:48 AM

Hi all,
I am visiting Toronto (from London, UK) on 7th July for a week with my family to celebrate my Dad's 60th Birthday. He was born and bred in Toronto so we know all the sites etc to visit however we would like to pre-book into a really nice restaurant for one night as a surprise/treat for him. Does anyone have any recommendations? Price isn't too much of an issue as it's a one off. Would be looking for any type of food, somewhere with nice views would be good, good food with a good atmosphere. I imagine we'd have a bit to drink so nowhere too stuffy. Any advice really appreciated! Like any major city, there are multitudes of restaurants that come up on general internet searches but it's not the same as acutal people's advice!
If you need any further info from me just shout! Our ages are 60, 55, 27 & 25 and we're pretty young and up for a good time!
Thanks in advance!

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  1. thenurse RE: lauramhairi Jun 27, 2007 08:02 AM

    Your visit coincides with Summerlicious, which is good and bad.
    Good: great restaurants to try for $25-$35 pp prix fix
    Bad: all the good restaurants are fully reserved.

    Check it out: www.toronto.ca/summerlicious

    2 Replies
    1. re: thenurse
      estragon RE: thenurse Jun 27, 2007 08:14 AM

      Summerlicious is definitely not the thing to do for a big celebration.

      Great Toronto restaurants:
      - Canoe (Canadian cuisine, 54th floor, spectacular views, closed Saturdays and Sundays)
      - Splendido (special Canadian summer tasting menu, possibly best dining room in town)

      Next rung down, price-wise, but also great for a celebration:
      - Mildred Pierce
      - George
      - Amuse Bouche

      - Harbour 60 (traditional)
      - The Fifth (funkier)

      That's a start, anyway.

      1. re: estragon
        cecilia RE: estragon Jun 27, 2007 08:25 AM

        Agree with Estragon. Summerlicious is NOT the way to go for a celebration. Also agree with all his suggestions. If you decide to go to Canoe, call and tell them that you want to have the regular menu. Canoe is one of the participating restaurants in the Summerlicious events. So unless you tell them explicitly that you want the regular menu, I doubt that you would be able to get a reservation.

    2. m
      Minnow RE: lauramhairi Jun 27, 2007 08:54 AM

      I agree with the other suggestions here, but you might also want to consider Scaramouche. The food is excellent (although Splendido would be better), but there are lovely views of Toronto. The main dining room can be a bit stuffy (although I've seen large groups who've been into the wine and no one minds at all), but the Pasta Bar and Grill also has great food with a little more festive an atmosphere.

      1. Googs RE: lauramhairi Jun 27, 2007 11:09 AM

        Not really what you're asking for, but if you're looking for a good food experience, outdoors, with great music I suggest attending Afrofest at Queen's Park July 7 & 8.

        1. j
          jgloverwork RE: lauramhairi Jun 27, 2007 11:27 AM

          Based on my success hosting hip business clients there over the past few months, I will continue to suggest (as I have done on some other threads) a visit to the distillery district. This is an incredibly restored, car-free four block industrial victorian zone that now hosts countless galleries, restaurants etc.

          Top end is Perigee - http://www.perigeerestaurant.com/ - which would be your "wow factor" tasting menu. Slightly down on the price ladder would be the Boiler House - which is in an INCREDIBLY beautiful room and hosts live jazz on weekend evenings - so you could easily stay there and drink and enjoy the atmosphere. http://boilerhouse.ca

          distillery district website is http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: jgloverwork
            Zengarden RE: jgloverwork Jun 27, 2007 07:09 PM

            Not quite food related but be warned that with the construction of condos in the Distillery District, you may not be able to find parking easily, especially during the weekends.

          2. Toshiro RE: lauramhairi Jun 27, 2007 01:47 PM

            If you want a truly special meal:


            Splendidio for sure (no view though), great wine list
            Canoe and 360 at the CN Tower for the great city view and huge wine lists
            Scaramouche also for a good skyline view but not as grand

            With a GREAT view, that's about it.

            Have fun!

            4 Replies
            1. re: Toshiro
              Dimbulb RE: Toshiro Jun 27, 2007 01:49 PM

              Doesn't Canoe take part in Summerlicious?

              1. re: Dimbulb
                courgette RE: Dimbulb Jun 27, 2007 01:53 PM

                Yes, but good luck trying to get a booking now...

                1. re: courgette
                  cecilia RE: courgette Jun 27, 2007 01:58 PM

                  If you explicitly tell Canoe that it's a birthday celebration and you need to order from the regular menu, I'm sure they'll be able to find you something.

                  1. re: cecilia
                    diesta RE: cecilia Jun 27, 2007 02:02 PM

                    Canoe still has seats left for non summerlicious bookings...just not as many.

                    And you can order from the regular menu at any time.

            2. orangewasabi RE: lauramhairi Jun 27, 2007 02:24 PM

              You sound like a fun group so I'm reco somewhere with good food and a more relaxed vibe. George would be my first pick, as I find the vibe very relaxed yet with higher end food. Where are you staying? It's central enough that toddling home in the summer evening would be a nice way to end the evening.

              IMHO, the Splendido, Canoe type places would be a little to 'straight' for you all. Dunno why, I just get a really fun vibe off your post

              1. Charles Yu RE: lauramhairi Jun 27, 2007 04:29 PM

                London, with its vast array of fine Michelin Star establishments such as Gordon Ramsay, Fat Cat, Petrus, Spoon, Le Gavroche.....etc is one of the mecca for fine dining. Therefore, it would be hard pressed for us Torontonian to come up with one restaurant that could match up with some of these Michelin stalwart. Even our so called 'best' such as Splendido will fall short when one looks and compare the 'whole paskage'. Therefore, for this 'one-time' recommendation, it would be more prudent to focus on 'uniqueness' rather than food quality. ( not that the latter isn't important ). As a result, I would recommend either Scaramouche - for its food quality as well as the spectacular view of down town from the window table, or Perigee, again for the food as well as the 'open kitchen/direct chef interaction concept. Either way, you should have a good time. HOWEVER, if time permits, why not take an hour and a half drive to the 'wine country of Niagara' and have a tasting menu with Canadian wine pairing at either Peller estate or Hillebrand Estate. This type of wine country dining experience will definitely be unique and different!! Happy Chowing!

                3 Replies
                1. re: Charles Yu
                  erly RE: Charles Yu Jun 27, 2007 07:07 PM

                  although I usually agree with you, this time I will dissent.
                  Scaramouche, is like an upscale country club.
                  I don't get the "view thing" there either.
                  Overly stuffy, and as I have said recently too much cream in almost everything.
                  The Pasta bar is fun and less pretentious.
                  Splendido can stand up to most International restaurants, but we are not talking 3 star here.
                  The prices in London are out of sight, so Splendido would be a bargain.
                  I think that the suggestion of George, is also a good one.
                  For grand Japanese I would add Sushi Kaji's tasting menu.
                  You spend hours in a serene atmosphere, and beautiful diishes are presented in a most gracious manner.
                  No table turnover here.

                  1. re: erly
                    Charles Yu RE: erly Jun 27, 2007 07:28 PM

                    Hello erly,
                    I think you are absolutely correct. If 'value for money' is to be considered, then, Toronto's high end restaurants is pretty hard to beat and indeed Splendido ( may be rated a Michelin 1 or 2 stars ) would be a bargain. For just one spectacular meal, I think your suggestion of Kaji's Omakase is the way to go.

                    1. re: erly
                      skylineR33 RE: erly Jun 27, 2007 07:37 PM

                      The cream level at Scarmouche is pretty heavy on some dishes but I really love their fish soup though ! The thing is there is not too many restaurants with a 'view' and good food combination in toronto and OP wants one of those, Scaramouche is really not that bad, it is a beautiful restaurant, good food, good service, it will be better if there is more space between tables !

                  2. estufarian RE: lauramhairi Jun 28, 2007 08:34 AM

                    You may want to check out this thread - where a New Yorker reviews many of the places mentioned here:

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: estufarian
                      lissah RE: estufarian Jun 28, 2007 08:58 AM

                      For a more relaxed atmosphere that doesn't lack in quality I like Jamie Kennedy Restaurant at Church & Front. I also really enjoy Zucca Trattoria at Yonge & Eg, definately worthy of a reservation (although I think they're part of Summerlicious)

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