Girls night out
I'm an avid lurker here at chowhound, but this is my first post - with two little ones at home I don't get out much for good chow :(
Four of us would like an evening out in the city (three of us are coming in from the burbs). We're looking for a relaxed atmosphere where we can gab for hours while enjoying a delicious meal and some good vino. We're fairly adventurous palate-wise, though one of us is vegetarian (but will eat fish), so that needs to be taken into account. Budget-wise, I'd say $60 pp (app, main and dessert) excluding wine would be a good ballpark.
Would prefer to skip Italian and Indian this time round.
One of the gang tried to book the Sultan's Tent - but we're on the waiting list - if that helps.
Does it have to be hip/right downtown? I had a great meal with friend about a month ago at Millie's Bistro on Avenue Road, south of Wilson. It's middle eastern inspired. It's a good place to linger and have good food and wine, although it's definitely not "trendy".
If you weren't adverse to Indian this time, I would suggest Tabla, where I also recently had a wonderful meal.
I've heard not-so-good things about the Sultan's tent, so be warned! How about JK Wine Bar? I personally loved my experience there and from what I've read on this board, there are options for vegetarians as well. There's also Lee, Susur Lee's more affordable restaurant that comes to mind.
9 Church St, Toronto, ON M5E1M2, CA
I ate at the Sultan's Tent last month and the food was okay. My party had the $40 prix fixe menu (careful, lots of "up-grade" items with added costs), and I had the harira (hearty & spiced tomato broth), hummus, braised lamb shank,and moroccan treats (some cookies and orange slices with cinnamon?) for dessert.
It might just be because I'm not a big fan of the heavily spiced foods - each course had a very similar taste to my uneducated palate, and the lamb was very very fatty (I've never made this complaint before!). It didn't help that the main course came after the lights went out for the belly-dancing show, so I couldn't see what I was eating. I wanted to know what veggies I was eating, but I couldn't tell by the taste or texture, so some sight would have been helpful. The tent area is beautiful and the show itself was fun! The mint tea was quite cleansing after a heavy meal, and the service was friendly.
It was a fun experience and definitely geared for group outings, but not a delicious one.
I won’t call the food at Sultan’s Tent “delicious”, more like “adequate” maybe. I was dragged there a couple of months ago for a friend’s birthday. He really wanted to see the belly dancing. We had to make reservations and you had to order the prix fixe menu (a la carte was only available on the café moroc side which didn’t include the belly dancing). We both started with the harira soup, which was very salty. For our second course, I had the hummus platter, which turned out to be the only decent part of my entire meal. He had the maftoul, which he declared was nothing special. For our entrees, he chose the couscous royale, which was over-salted with a very dried piece of chicken, a shriveled sausage and a minuscule lamp chop. I chose the beef ribs. It did fall off the bone as promised but quite flavourless outside of the salt. The portions were huge which is too bad since I prefer quality over quantity. The service is very efficient, everything is timed to a tee. As soon as your dish is cleared by one server, it is immediately replaced with the next dish by another server. I felt every server who attended us that night was on autopilot. It truly felt like assembly line eating. The space is comfortable. You’ll probably end up on couches where you can lounge for hours since there’s only one seating. The belly dancer was weak especially compared to some patrons who got up to strut their stuff. If you end up going, just don’t expect a lot. You may be disappointed.
I second the Globe rec, add Quince, Torito and Embrujo Flamenco.
I also thought the hummus platter was the best course. Some people had the cucumber and chickpea salad, but that was basically all that it was -- diced cucumbers and chickpeas, and some mint.
I think the dancing part would be fun if you went with a semi-rowdy (or at least enthusiastic) group, but if no one in your group participates I can see it being a bit boring.
I had a lovely girls night out at Blowfish a little while ago, which is located at King/Bathurst.
Their menu consist of sushi and Japanese fusion, and they have a great selection of sake and sake-based cocktails if you're interested in experimenting. If your pescatarian friend isn't into raw fish, there's a really interesting selection of vegetarian maki rolls to choose from, as well as several cooked fish and seafood dishes.
It's probably around the upper end of your budget (we paid around $100 pp, but that includes tax, tip, and two $12 cocktails apiece).
Wine list and menu here: http://www.blowfishrestaurant.com/
668 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M7, CA