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I want to eat good food for once with my coworkers downtown!

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Hi all!

I have been given the responsibilty to find a lunch spot for a company celebration. The problem is there are many variables and I just can't decide. That's why I turn to all of you!

So here are issues:
- 14 people
- some vegetarian
- multicultural (south asian, european, latin american, asian, american, plus) coworkers with little culinary adventure
- located on bay street, but will travel for the right food
- we did firkin last time and it was ok, but for me the food was mediocre
-priced under $20, prefered under $15

Some suggestions from them so far are kama, the host, spring rolls, and thai dish. Some ideas i have are: xacutti, beer bistro, metropolitan, siddhartha.

TIA

- Kelly

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  1. while cheaper than your goals...salad king might be fun

    upstairs is okay to sit around in

    http://www.saladking.com/

    1. under $15....Xacutti?? forget about it......Sidhartha lunch buffet is about $10 +drinks...

      1. Indian buffet is one of the things that might actually come in under $15, with vegetarian options. Kama's is mediocre -- too many dishes, most of them blah. Much better is Little India, on Queen, just west of University. You'll need a reservation, though.

        1 Reply
        1. re: estragon

          I've been at Little India for a buffet lunch with a group of 20, and they were very accommodating. The food there is excellent, and the buffet is around $10, before tax and tip.

        2. Try Beer Bistro. I often go there with work groups and everyone has always enjoyed. They have great fries and the lunch menu is in your price range. Make a reservation as they get busy during the lunch hour.
          http://www.beerbistro.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: JennyBenny

            Mmmm BeerBistro. How about Tutti Matti? They had a prix fixe lunch menu when i went, and everything was great.

          2. Salad King for sure - we go there all the time with work people from all cultures, picky, veg, everything.

            Might try Terroni as well.... Italian, good, lots of selection.

            3 Replies
            1. re: thenurse

              Terroni is so small though, I don't know if they'd do a reservation for 14.

              One of my team's regular spots is Spadina Garden on Dundas, just west of Bay. Yueh Tung, also on Dundas, just a little further west of Bay is another pretty good option for inexpensive, pretty good food, quick service and accomodation for a large group, some of whom are vegetarian.

              1. re: Medira

                Terroni doesn't do reservations at all. Getting seating for that many people would be next to impossible.

                1. re: paper_bag_princess

                  I made lunch hour reservations on a weekday @ Terroni, back in May. But it was only for four people. When I arrived, most of the tables had "reserved" signs.

            2. Salad King (the one downstair) is ok, but it is very noisy and packed at lunch time, you will have to shut when talking. I am not sure if you can do lunch (I mean entrees) at Beer Bistro < $20 including (drink+tax+tips), it will be very tight. Xacutti will be over $20 as others mentioned.

              6 Replies
              1. re: skylineR33

                If you really want to do Salad King for lunch, you could see about making a reservation upstairs, which is more than large enough for a group of 14.

                1. re: Medira

                  Xacutti does lunch?

                  1. re: cowhound

                    I guess so, I was there for brunch before.

                  2. re: Medira

                    To clarify...does Salad King have an upstairs or are you referring to Linda's which is upstairs from the Salad King? I read on CH that the two are distinct establishments with different owners, although they share an entrance and website...can someone confirm this or are they in fact the "same"....also I believe Linda's is closed at lunchtime.

                    1. re: T Long

                      I was under the impression that they were run by the same owner. Salad King is downstairs with the noisy, crowded cafeteria-style digs, and Linda is upstairs with a quieter atmosphere. I don't know if Linda bills itself as fine dining, which I'd disagree with, but I have always had a very nice meal with good service there. (They set the table with wine glasses, proper napkins and tablecloths -- does that make it fine dining??) I've only gone for dinner.

                      Linda's operating hours:
                      Hours of Operation:
                      Monday: Closed
                      Tuesday to Friday: 12:00pm to 2:00pm; 5:30pm to 9:15pm
                      Saturday: 5:30pm to 9:15pm

                      It's all on their website: http://lindarestaurant.com/info.html
                      I wouldn't go there for an under $15 lunch, if you are really aiming for $10. I'd say to expect to pay around $15, give or take a few bucks for lunch. Under $20 is definitely do-able.
                      Under $10 at Salad King is very do-able.

                      1. re: T Long

                        Linda is open for lunch but for lunch they use the exact same menu at Salad King downstairs. The upscale menu I gather is only for dinner. I took a large group there with very little trouble but I will admit that it was not as peaceful as it is at dinner but at least you don't need to worry about the benches, which for groups is a good thing. If you do go there ask to be sat at the table at the back if possible, it is the much better spot for groups (we were in the middle which was a bit hectic).

                        The two places are indeed owned and operated by the same family. Linda is actually named after the wife of the couple who own Salad King. Very sweet and welcoming lady who is always interesting to chat with!

                  3. What about Shanghai Cowgirl on Queen just east of Bathurst. Everything from noodles to burgers to pasta, the food is quite good. They also have a patio in the back.

                    1. If one calls Terroni and explains one's situation I have found them to be most receptive...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Non Doctor

                        The food at each and every Firkin I have visited has been vile.

                      2. Not adventurous? That bothers me about going out as a group but at least you can be in charge and accommodate those who are adventurous and those who find pepperoni too exotic.

                        I'm going to suggest Milestone's on John Street. It's not upscale and it's not Lone Star which I abhor. Lots of choices and some have an ethnic twist. This is my default resto when I am in North York with colleagues.

                        1. What about Great Cooks on Eight in the Bay? Beautiful room with an amazing view and the food is quite nice! It is on the same floor as the Arcadian Court but is worlds away in terms of food and service.

                          http://www.torontolife.com/guide/rest...

                          1. I'll probably get beaten about the ears for even mentioning it, but Spring Rolls always seems to be a hit for team functions at my office (it's usually that or Swiss Chalet *shudder*).

                            It's not too "out there" for the timid eaters, prices are reasonable, and there are several veggie options on the menu... plus they never seem to have problems accomodating a large group as long as you call ahead to reserve. I know that any dish at Spring Rolls will be found in Chinatown at half the price and twice as good... but with big groups a little compromise is always necessary.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tartiflette

                              I'll just bite my lip and limit myself to giving you a dirty look :-).

                              I think, though, when you're talking about work functions, you've essentially consigned yourself to thoroughly boring, completely inoffensive and sparkly clean restaurants (thus ruling out Chinatown for the most part) like Swiss Chalet, Spring Rolls, Town & Country Buffet, Mandarin, Golden Griddle (*pained gasp*), etc. I remember one year the company I worked for took 15 of us to the Host for Indian lunch buffet and about five of our staff sat there in horror and ate nothing but naan and rice. After that fiasco, it was Town & Country Buffet or Mandarin for virtually every meal. I always dreaded those departmental / large production lunches... I knew that they would be a flavourless disappointment that wouldn't even come close to the previous night's leftovers.

                            2. Bay at _______?

                              What about the Mercatto on Toronto St? It's been renovated and the center table could hold your group.

                              Golden Thai on Church has lunch plates for under $10 and will take reservations.

                              Izakaya on Front handles big groups well - the pork gyoza, shrimp, shrimp steamed appie and the mushroom noodle soup are all good and the majority of dishes are between $10-15.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: orangewasabi

                                We went to Izakaya on Front Street for lunch last week with work colleagues. I had never heard of it, and when I asked if we had a reservation (for 9 or 10 people), my colleague said that it was not necessary - there will be room.

                                I had the chicken katsu curry, since the menu didn't really look great. This seemed like a decent choice. At $12.99, I expected a lot more. The chicken was small and spent too much time in the fryer. It tasted burnt. The curry sauce was rather plain and water-y. Other than the white rice, there were a few strands of bean sprouts to accent the dish. Some of my co-workers got the fried rice (I think $11.99). They were not impressed.

                                Instead of water, I asked for green tea. I didn't realize that it would cost $1.50 extra. Every asian restaurant I have been to before never charged for green tea.

                                At the end of the meal, my co-worker turned to me and said "no wonder you don't need a reservation here". This will be the one and only time I got to Izakaya. We would have enjoyed lunch much more for $3.99 in the food court, instead of the $18+ here. The food court would have been tastier, cheaper and more satisfying.

                                The colleague who suggested this place said she goes all the time, and loves it. I guess this type of repeat customer is how the restaurant stays in business. Because I really can't understand it.

                              2. Hi Flavour,

                                You could try Saigon Sister . . . They have great lunch specials which include either pad thai, fried rice or steamed rice . . . They have a number of salads and they also have many vegetarian options . . . My personal favorites are the teriyaki mustard greens, smoked eggplant and the tamarind chicken . . . You get a healthy portion of pad thai with two choices for under 10 bucks . . . the portions are very generous too . . . they are located just south of Bloor on Yonge street . . . They also have a patio out back and their cocktails are really good!!

                                Let me know what you think,

                                SB

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: snackboy

                                  Lunch at Saigon Sister? Fine if you're not on the clock, but I'd certainly never recommend it for a working lunch.

                                  The service has a tendency to be slow as molasses - I once was left waiting for 20 minutes to place my order, even though I told the server in no uncertain terms I had only 60 minutes to eat and run... something he promptly forgot when he went to chat with his buddy.

                                  I'm happy to go on an evening when I'm planning on a leisurely meal and want to enjoy a few drinks on the patio, but I specifically avoid them for lunch even tho I work only a few blocks away.

                                2. Hi Again,

                                  I just thought I'd send the link for Saigon Sister...

                                  http://www.saigonsister.ca/menus.html

                                  SB

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