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Best Downtown Resto for Under $200

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My criteria are:

- consistently excellent food and service (this my #1 criteria)
- fairly broad menu so that even picky eaters will have more than one choice
- downtown
- cool, funky atmosphere
- romantic (I don't mean quiet, I mean "sexy")
- any cuisine is okay as long it meets my #1 criteria
- bonus: a place with a lounge to have a post-dinner drink (or lounge nearby)
- extra bonus: if the lounge has entertainment
- under $200 including tax & tip, but not including wine

I have a special evening planned for Nov. 3rd and would like my fellow Hounds to select the perfect place.

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  1. Is that $200 per head or for two?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Yum2MyTum

      Xacutti on College? Does Bird stll exist upstairs?

      1. re: Yum2MyTum

        Good question. That's for two.

        1. re: Jean Georges

          Globe bistro, followed by Embrujo Flamenco; Danforth and Broadview.

          Tabla Indian Restaurant, followed by downstairs at Centro; Yonge north of Eglinton.

          1. re: Snarf

            Globe bistro followed by Embrujo Flamenco is a good possibility. Went to Globe went it was brand new and afterwards we went across the street to a Latin place for dancing. It was upstairs, just west of Globe, but I can't recall the name.

            1. re: Jean Georges

              Red Violin?

              1. re: NovoCuisine

                That was it!. Excellent caipirinhas. We didn't eat there but it I wonder if the food is good. I have been to excellent Churrascarias in Brazil and would love to find one in Toronto that is as good.

                1. re: Jean Georges

                  Last I was there I was going to order a caipirinhas but they'd been out of cachaca for months.

                  I've been to Red Violin and I thought it was good until I was at a Churrascarias in Portugal last month. Unfortunately, people here seem to be scared of rarer meats which is why I suppose they overcooked everything. When I left the restaurant in Portugal, my plate was a big puddle of blood; so, so good. But it's a preference thing, I guess!

      2. Mistura? With Sopra up above?

        3 Replies
        1. re: thenurse

          Mistura/Sopra is another good idea, and something I've been considering. Actually we had been thinking of Sopra for dinner as well, although it seemed to be more of a lounge than a restaurant.

          1. re: Jean Georges

            Honestly I wasn't that impressed by Mistura. Would have rather eaten at Zucca which only meets 1, 2, and 9 of your criteria.

            1. re: Googs

              Agree with you about Mistura - but I was there once only and several years ago. I love Zucca and it's one of my "go to" restaurants. But I want something different so it will be a more special night.

        2. bonus point for any one who can throw out restos under $100 total for two with out wine for the same conditions...

          5 Replies
          1. re: LemonLauren

            My meal at Tabla for 8 (and we ate well) with 2 bottles of wine and two glasses of wine was $300. Therefore, I think you can eat very well there for 2 under $100. No lounge though.

            1. re: pescatarian

              Wife doesn't like Indian. I guess I need to update criteria #6.

              1. re: Jean Georges

                2 more ideas:

                Start at 93 Harbord for dinner, very good middle eastern with decent wine selections; then follow up with either the Revival on College, or top of the Park Hyatt. If top of the Park Hyatt is of interest, walking in the area could start from either Vittorio's on Dupont and Avenue, or Flow.

                Or, Fat Cat Wine Bar on Roncesvalles, followed by Hugh's Room. Not exactly lounge, but on the right night, the music can be fantastic.

                1. re: Snarf

                  i second 93 harbord.....oh the appetizer platter...

                  1. re: Snarf

                    Snarf, your ideas are right on the mark. 93 Harbord sounds really good.

                    What can you tell me about Flow - there isn't much at all on this forum. The room and menu look really good. http://www.flowrestaurant.com

            2. I’ve been to Canoe, North 44, Jump, Biff’s, Far Niente, Rosewater Super Club, Senses, Stratus Restaurant, and Truffles. They’re all good. For less formal places, how about Rodney’s Oyster House, Bier Market, or The Sultan’s Tent? I heard about Susur, Scaramouche, Rain, The Fifth, Morton's, Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, Harbour Sixty Steak House, Hy’s, Romagna Mia. However, I haven’t tried out these places myself yet.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chutchut

                Canoe and Susur would be very hard under $200. Jump is ok if you are going right after work because it's convenient, but it's not "special". Biff's is "ok", not a special evening place. Far Niente is far from special. Rosewater - please don't. Bier Markt is for partying not eating. The Sultan's Tent is for navel watching not eating. Rain is out of date. Romagna Mia - good food, not good service so not good for a special night.
                The only place on your list that is worthy IMO is JK Wine Bar, but I don't think it's the kind of place the OP is looking for.

                1. re: pescatarian

                  What about Lobby, Sotto Sotto?

                2. re: chutchut

                  Absolutely skip the Sultan's Tent unless you want disappointment. Bad food, mediocre service, and nothing romantic about it.

                3. amuse bouche?

                  http://www.amuseboucherestaurant.com/

                  it'll just fit into your cost restraints but would likely be totally worth it. then scoot up to the drake for drinks, no food, and have a sexy fun time.

                  love snarf's choice of revival for an after if you pick a spot in the college vicinity. the space is great!

                  1. I would suggest Lee's then hop on over to any of those suit/tie bars on King.

                    and to the challenge of finding a sub $100 resto and fit this criteria, i would suggest either Czehoski, Terroni's, or The Swan and book on over to any of the Queen W's watering holes (aka Beaconsfield/Drake/Social/etc)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: goodcookiedrift

                      I was at Czehoski tonight for drinks and a lite bite. I was pleasantly surprised. I had read a lot about snooty service there, but we didn't find that at all. We had a couple different servers and they were both very attentive and pleasant. Plus, I had the veggie burger and it was the best veggie burger I think I've ever had (and I've had many). It was on a brioche bun and it had melted cheese and honestly it was one of those "mmms" with every bite type of burger.

                      1. re: goodcookiedrift

                        I am glad to see that Czehoski has resolved it's issues with the Health Dept.
                        IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / UTENSILS /EQUIPMENT

                        IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF NON-FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / EQUIPMENT

                        They were re-inspected and now comply.

                        1. re: Poorboy

                          Awesome. The food tasted good too.

                      2. Thanks CH for all the wonderful opinions. I am leaning towards Flow based on their menu, location and the room. But I can't find many reviews either on CH or elsewhere, and I'd really like to get a better feel for the place before deciding. Being in Yorkville there are several nearby lounges to choose from.

                        Second choice is 93 Harbord then walking over to College St to find a lounge.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Jean Georges

                          I've eaten at Flow a nunber of times, and always had consistently good food. Because of the construction of the room, with lower tables around the perimeter, a louder lounge half a storey up, and a party room downstairs, I find the quietest table is the one in the corner at the southern extreme of the laneway between Yorkville and Cumberland. The service might slow down a bit, but the intimacy is great there.

                          As for the food, I haven't tried the current menu, but in the past, I've found that they do red meats very well (not as in done); their asian-influenced dishes have very good flavours, and the serving staff can usually offer details beyond the menu.

                          If you want to do the moveable feast approach to life, you could try tapas at the bar at the Spice Room and Chutney Bar (9$ per plate for a couple of apps that are much more expensive in the dining room) beforehand. (Many detractors of this establishment on the Boards). Enjoy!

                          1. re: Snarf

                            i gotta throw Torito into this mix. i just love this place, it's always bussling with great energy and the card is stacked with solid traditional spanish/latin tapas. it has never let me down in any department. i also vote for Cava, similar approach but a little more refined, i just hate the location though.

                        2. Went to Flow last night and I want to thank snarf for the recommendation. Sat at table 60 which is what snarf had recommended. From this table 2 people can site side by side on a bench and look out over the restaurant. Defintely the best seat in the house, according to the manager.

                          The food was excellent but I want to first comment on the service, which was perfect. The hostess was super and set a tone for evening of being personable, fun, professional, accomodating and helpful. The restaurant has a lot of staff, and everyone of them is attentive and unobtrusively makes sure that the evening goes perfectly. The front of the house is a smoohtly oiled machine, but a highly personal machine.

                          The menu was great and it was hard to choose. We shared an ahi tuna tartar appetizer that was the hit of the evening. It's finely chopped Ahi grade tuna, ginger root, avocado and tart lime, Nashi salad and crisp wonton crackers. In presentation there was the tuna in the middle, with the crackers to one side and the salad (like a slaw) to the other. All 3 components were excellent on their own, and could be combined for sensations of creamy, crispy, salty and spicy. Really an outstanding dish.

                          For mains we had the striploin and the lamb. The steak was really really good, with delicious mushrooms and onions on the side. The lamb was very good but not quite as good as the steak. It had a thin coating of dates that added a nice sweetness. Both meats were perfectly cooked medium rare.

                          The menu has many fish dishes that sound really good. The menu on their web site www.flowrestaurant.com is not quite up to date but does give an idea of the style of food to expect.

                          The menu has a large selection of interesting cocktails, many whiskeys, ports, armangacs and of course a good wine list. The mojito with fresh mint and lime should be sampled.

                          Overall a great evening with outstanding service, excellent food, and a beautiful room. One of the city's best restaurants in my opinion.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Jean Georges

                            how much was the final bill, if you don't mind me asking...?

                            1. re: LemonLauren

                              With tax & tip, for 2 cocktails, 1 glass of wine, 1 appetizer and 2 mains: $190.

                            2. re: Jean Georges

                              Delighted to hear that you had a great time and that the food lived up to the billing. Thanks also for the great report!