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Challenge: Most elegant restaurant in Toronto

  • p

Suppose you are taking your gf's parents out to dinner to ask them for their daughter's hand in marriage. So you want a nice, elegant place to impress (let's say they are fairly well off, and pretty difficult to impress). Good, fairly quiet atmosphere, good food (let's say they are half-foodies, probably been to 80% of the bigger name restaurants in GTA, but not big on wine). You also don't want anything too flashy either; that will be overdoing it.

So again, nice, quiet (relatively), elegant place, not too flashy, good food
But wine, cuisine, price and location don't matter at all (as long as within GTA).
Oh, and we don't have to go on a weekend, so that should help on the quiet part.

Where would you go?
How is Opus?
Any other suggestions?

Thanks so much guys! (obviously this is more than just a challenge)

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  1. maybe Rosewater, given your requirement.

    1. How about booking one of the small private room/booth at Sushi Kaji. With the curtain drawn, should be pretty private, cozy and fairly quiet. Guarantee good food!!

      1. I was surprised to see Opus in your post, because as soon as I read it, I thought "Opus".
        For this one, with these folks, I wouldn't think you would want to go big name, high profile but more quiet elegance, which Opus is. Since they aren't big drinkers, Lai Wah Heen maybe. Or go entirely old school with Scarmouche.

        good luck!

        eta: one more thought, what about Biagio - on a mild evening, the outdoor patio is really lovely, and the service there is very old school -- not too crazy, but solid tasty food in an subdued setting

        3 Replies
        1. re: orangewasabi

          I love Opus but I would not necessarily consider it to have the intimate atmosphere you are looking for. Rosewater is a good suggestion although its food is not up to Opus. Scaramouche can be quite busy. I would consider Splendidio - great food, great service and a fitting atmosphere.

          1. re: orangewasabi


            So let me confirm what you mean - so Opus is a bad idea?
            Do you have any other suggestions? I think Biagio might be too informal. Her parents are more the old school / formal type, so Biagio is maybe too intimate.

            1. re: PeteM

              no, I think Opus is a GOOD idea.

              and if they are realllly old school, what about Truffles. That room is quite elegant in a very traditional way.

              are you in the area that you could stop by and see if the C5 at the ROM would work?

          2. Thanks for the ideas guys!

            So Opus is absolutely no no? Even on a week night?

            I want to stay away from Biagio because I know her parents expect a more formal (and elegant) setting, as opposed to lovely and intimate. They're pretty old school.

            As for Scaramouche and Splendido, I also think it's too modern / hip for them.
            What do you guys think?


            2 Replies
              1. re: PeteM

                I would also probably be considered "old school" (certainly "old" fits) but I would not consider Splendido too "hip". Mother will be very impressed when they bring out the wee bench for her purse (as will father if he has one).

              2. Any chance you might want a nice day/afternoon trip out of town? If so, I would highly suggest Treadwell in St Catharine's / Port Dalhousie - it's amazing, unpretentious, very elegant, and absolutely delicious (& beautiful - right on the water).

                1. Nothing flashy or hip about Splendido. Class act from beginning to end and is definitely an "impress your future in laws" sort of place. And they will happily work with you to arrange for any small details you may want to make the evening perfect (special flowers or dishes... perhaps mom's favourite dessert).

                  Auberge du Pommier would be another option to fit your criteria.

                    1. How about Celestin on Mt.Pleasant? I was just there last week and thought the room was so lovely - simple, bright, elegant...we ate summerlicious, but the regular menu looks great!

                      1. Please consider the patio at George (the restaurant at Verity). It is probably the most elegant and beautiful in Toronto. It is quiet and the staff know what they're doing. Il Mulino used to be one of my favourite restaurants but last time I was there it was very noisy and just average. Please report back.

                        1. Thanks for the replies everyone!

                          You see, this is my reservations about many of the places suggested (Splendido, Celestin, George, Kaji... etc): the last time I visited these places were all within the past year, but I feel that they are all far too dark. It gets too intimate... etc which is really NOT the atmosphere I'm looking for. I'm looking for a cleaner, larger space with brighter lights. My gf is not coming so there is no way I can survive a small, dark, and intimate restaurant with her parents over a meal. Let alone the fact that they won't appreciate it either.

                          Again, I canNOT afford to look for anything that is intimate, dark, romantic, cozy... etc. They're simply not like that. You have to understand: I'm not really like their "friend". They are not that kind of parents. They are the stricter, evaluating-me-all-the-time kind of parents.

                          So I'm looking for a brighter, more formal, perhaps a little (slightly) more grandiose setting.
                          I forgot about Il Mulino. That's an option but it's not too high on my list.

                          What are your thoughts? Thank you so much!

                          8 Replies
                            1. re: PeteM

                              Since looks like you have been to enough high end western restaurants, you should know they are all "not bright". I have yet to see a high end restaurant in Toronto that is "bright" after dark. The lighting are all dimmed. On the other hand, if you leave before 9:00pm at Celestin/Rosewater/Windor Arm/Scaramouche...., they are all ok as the sunset is so late nowaday.

                              If you want something "bright", not romantic, not cozy, not intimate, good food, cross out high end western food, Lai Wah Heen is your only choice.

                              1. re: PeteM

                                I think you shouldn't overlook Scaramouche. I wouldn't call it young or hip at all... the only people younger than I am (late 20s) when I'm in there are usually with family. The crowd is mostly what I imagine the parents in question would be like--fairly formal, but still a nice, elegant atmosphere without being necessarily "romantic".

                                1. re: PeteM

                                  gah, this whole experience sounds like a bad job interview.

                                  In that vein, what about Ki? If you don't go on a Thursday and you go for an early dinner, it'll be brighter. The environment is relatively stark i.e. not upholstered, no candles etc.

                                  Also, I'm trying to remember how bright the front tables at North44 are -- I haven't been there for an earlier dinner in a while but I did take uptight clients there once for dinner and it felt okay.

                                  Does it absolutely have to be dinner? I'm thinking a formal brunch in a hotel might be a better way to go -- shorter, daytime, more transactional.

                                  1. re: PeteM

                                    PeteM, I have to suggest Senses Restaurant. I really think a hotel restaurant is the way to go, and the Senses restaurant is elegant, bright, formal, and grand, in my opinion. Amy Pataki recently questioned how great the food was, but I'm sure it will satisfy your gf's parents, who are not foodies, according to you.

                                    The Senses restaurant definitely doesn't feel like a "date" restaurant; check out a photo here http://www.metropolitan.com/soho/rest....

                                    What about Tundra restaurant? http://tundra.sites.toronto.com/

                                    Or, Globe Bistro at Broadview and Danforth: http://www.globebistro.com/concept.php -- It's not a hotel restaurant, but it is grand, bright, and impressive.

                                    Good luck!

                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                      in support of Senses, the last time I was there for dinner the lights were quite dim. However, a group of 8 seniors were also dining there and complained about the lighting. They found it too dark and requested the lights turned up to be brighter. The lights are wired at Senses, they were able to brighten one area considerably without disturbing the entire restaurant. Since it's quite quiet there on the weekedays, you could probably be seated in an area that was pre-arranged to be quite bright.

                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                        Globe has bright light ?? You mean lunch ? Or you mean the bar area before sunset ? Light at Globe is certainly dimmed for dinner in the main dining room. It is also very cozy downstairs. Maybe get a booth upstair is ok for more space .....

                                      2. re: PeteM

                                        If you want bright, may I suggest C5? I ate there recently with The Boy and some of his relatives (including parents), and it was a very nice experience.

                                        Our dinner wrapped up right around sundown, mind you, so I can't comment on how bright once sunlight isn't a factor... but the room is very large and has a high ceiling, and since it faces south and west, you get tons of sun to brighten it up. The one downside I can think of is that their decor is modern... so it might not quite be the "old school" vibe you're looking for, but it makes up for it with the amazing architecture (you're sitting on the top floor of the Crystal wing at the ROM, after all).

                                        Overall, the food was very good, service was impeccable, and it definitely didn't feel overly "intimate" or "cozy".

                                      3. What about something more "corporate"... Harbour Sixty, Canoe, Red's?

                                        I agree with Skyline, none of these places are going to have "bright" lighting... but if you go mid-week, they may be more wheeling-and-dealing than romance.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Rabbit

                                          It's too bad that places don't have bright lighting. Not even one?
                                          I know places in LA and NY that do, very few, to be fair, but there are...

                                        2. you know what, after reading all this, I get the sense that there is going to be nothing that fits everything you want. It sounds as if you are in a no win situation--at least you think so in you head. Pick a restaurant that makes you feel comfortable, if you are, they will be more so.

                                          Just pick it, go and don't worry so much about how they view you--you know that the place you go to is not going to make a difference in your asking them to let their daughter marry you...which you don't need a nice place for anyway, but you already know that.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: diesta

                                            You made a good point, but I just thought there are places out there.

                                            I lived in LA and NY for a while, and I can name at least two restaurants in each city that will satisfy my criteria. I just thought I would ask here because I don't think I'm an expert in the Toronto culinary scene.

                                            Honestly, I don't think what I'm looking for is that unreasonable, is it?

                                            1. re: PeteM

                                              I'm from NYC-- and I'm wondering which restaurant in NY suits your criteria...I hope I could suggest a " similar feeling " venue in Toronto that reflects your needs.

                                              I also agree with the other posts that you should defiantly think about lunch...a great resolution to light issues and if her parents are old school, a formal lunch might appeal to them.

                                          2. More and more, I'm thinking perhaps lunch is a better idea after all... dinner just seems more formal. But if the lighting thing doesn't work out, lunch solves that huge problem...

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: PeteM

                                              Yeah, the high end western restaurants in Toronto all have medium to dim light setting instead of "bright" which is very appropriate for high end restaurants.

                                              As already mentioned here by more than one poster, Lai Wah Heen is a high end chinese restaurant with bright light that you are looking for (and you are ok with any cuisine type), Lai Toh Heen is another one which make it two. And I doubt you can find the same standard of high end chinese food in NYC or LA which LWH/LTH provide here.

                                              1. re: skylineR33

                                                Don't even get me started on Chinese food in NY / LA. I am convinced that the entire USA (all Chinatowns included) is a gigantic Chinese food wasteland. And I'm not even Chinese (but I have been spoiled by the Chinese food in Toronto)!

                                              2. re: PeteM

                                                If you are considering lunch then you might want to consider Gallery Grill over at Hart House. I noticed there is a private dining room just off of the main section that looks beautiful and quiet. The feel is quite old school and very elegant. We took my mother in law there (she was a U of T grad ) and she had a lovely time. The only thing is that you will want to ask for either a corner or the private room otherwise it might get a bit busy around you.

                                                Another option could be Jamie Kennedy Gardner. OK now other people may correct me. I have never actually been there. But the location looks beautiful. Also for lunch maybe the Studio Cafe at the Four Seasons might fit your bill. Bright airy, elegant but relaxed.

                                                If you want to drive a bit you could always consider Langdon Hall in Kitchener. It is a bit of a drive but the spot is lovely... You could do a drive on a Sunday, have lunch, walk around the ground and then come home. I can tell you that we took my SOs three elderly socialite aunts there for a birthday party and it really impressed them.

                                                Good luck, let us know who it all turns out.

                                                1. re: PeteM

                                                  PeteM, what about lunch at Osgoode Hall? Definitely old school, formal, should be bright at lunch, and great food, too.

                                                2. You're not just looking for a restaurant, you're looking for an experience, albeit elegant. That includes location, service, preparation, great food, a bit of a spiffy clientele, etc.
                                                  So, after that, consider a place like Truffles in the Yorkville Four Seasons. Call in advance tell them your plans and enlist their co-operation.

                                                  It's not all about the food in this case, in fact it's more about how you manage the event.

                                                  1. I think the answer you are looking for is Auberge du Pommier. Without a doubt, the only place I would ever imagine having to deal with a situation such as yours! Good luck! (Keep[ in mind that Auberge will be closing this cummer for renovations. Not sure on the date of your dinner.)

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: The Macallan 18

                                                      Agreed, Auberge du Pommier has just the right mix of old-school elegance, professional service, and well-prepared but not out-there food.
                                                      If you do go for lunch, consider the Studio Cafe at the Four Seasons. Bright, elegant, very "correct" service.

                                                      1. re: estragon

                                                        A third vote for Auberge ! (I just got to this post and was wondering when it'll pop up! ) Professional service and sooo elegant. Osgood Hall dining room would be a good choice too - but I know for a fact they're in summer recess - I tired to make a reservation there for last week and got the voicemail.
                                                        Other then Lai Wah Heen, how about Lai To Heen as another suggestion? Every bit as elegant as the former, and not downtown - which may or may not be a good thing.

                                                        1. re: oracle347

                                                          Sounds like the prospective in-laws are fairly traditional. Unless they are Asian, I wouldn't take them for Chinese. And if they are, I would definitely take them to Lai Wah Heen.

                                                    2. I too agree with the recommendation of Lai Wah Heen, for the formality, elegance and atmosphere. How about Chiado as another consideration?

                                                      1. Truffles meets all your requirements. Scaramouche comes close, though it might be what you consider to be "too dark". Don't discount it, though. I personally think the lighting is fine for suiting your needs. But Truffles is my sure-fire suggestion.

                                                        1. A quick skim of the replies seems to have missed a few of my faves in the category:
                                                          You will obviously point out that I am biased from being located in "north toronto" towards a few local restaurants. I have keyed upon the word "elegant" in my choices & skipped many simple great food spots and instead focussed on good food, great ambiance and excellent service.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: dancingTimmy

                                                            I agree with all others who suggested Scaramouche....it has a toned down/old school elegance with good service(not the 'in your face' waitpersons)and I have found the food to be consistantly fine. It can get a bit noisy if you are dining later on, say after 9:00 p.m. but a reservation for 7:00 p.m should be just fine. I am a mother-in-law of 'an age' and if my son-in-law would have suggested Scaramouche I would have been delighted...not too intimate a setting yet enough patrons in the room that I would have felt comfortable being with 'someone' I still didn't know all that well. Try to get a table by the window..always good for that extra dash of being well thought out for ambience/or lull in conversation. Be warned, those tables are difficult to reserve, so call well in advance.