HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >

Agonizing over dinner for hubby's b-day

kawarthagirl Oct 14, 2007 11:11 AM


I THOUGHT I had decided on North 44, but now I'm worried that it's going to cost $350... My husband is notorious for picking THE most expensive things on the menu. Not because of the price but just because his tastes run to the caviar dreams, rather than our tuna fish budget.

So twice a year, we have a blow out: my birthday and his.

We have done, in the past:

Truffles (twice)
Scaramouche (twice)

North 44 seemed a logical choice but now I'm not so sure... We like French food and when it comes to dining out elegantly for birthdays, there is only one real rule: no Italian.

North 44 seems to be at the upper end of the financial scale in Toronto though... am I wrong? Set me straight if I am!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. l
    LemonLauren RE: kawarthagirl Oct 14, 2007 11:19 AM

    If you like French, I'm thinking Batifole and Le Paradis might fit a budget a bit more. I've never been to either, but the board loves the former a lot and the latter somewhat, and both have romantic vibes as fars as i can gather.

    744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

    Le Paradis
    166 Bedford Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2K9, CA

    6 Replies
    1. re: LemonLauren
      kawarthagirl RE: LemonLauren Oct 14, 2007 11:27 AM

      Been to both, though not for birthday occasions.... LOVE Batifole but as we went there recently..Also, I don't think he'll find it upscale enough... Hubby loved Paradis, I hated it....

      I'm willing to spend the bucks for this b-day but I'm just not convinced about North 44 yet. Maybe I've been watching HEAT too often on Food Network ;)

      1. re: kawarthagirl
        estufarian RE: kawarthagirl Oct 14, 2007 12:46 PM

        If you liked Truffles, Scaramouche and Celestin, then the obvious choice is Splendido. But its still going to cost an equivalent amount to North 44 (also a good choice). All are truly reliable.
        You could certainly save money at Pastis (Yonge and Summerhill). It's sort of an upscale Paradis. Much more light, smattering of celebrities and essentially tarted up bistro food. Very noisy and crowded though (but half the price). I'm not a fan of their wine list, but the food is reliable and 'pretty' as well as tasty. Certainly more upscale (but less authentic) than Batifole.

        1. re: estufarian
          foodyDudey RE: estufarian Oct 14, 2007 01:16 PM

          I doubt you can get out of Splendido for less than $500 these days. When I took my wife there for her birthday over a year ago, it was around $530 with tax, not even including the tip. If North 44 is $350, it's a deal.

          1. re: foodyDudey
            estufarian RE: foodyDudey Oct 14, 2007 02:22 PM

            Fair enough - at least Splendido is 'fixed' price ($115 for 4 courses). You can do it cheaper at North 44 - mains there are 45-60 (plus sides/veggies are extra); apps are $20-30, salads are $14-28; Desserts $14.
            Quick calculation still says they're about the same - maybe $350 is too low for North 44!

            1. re: estufarian
              foodyDudey RE: estufarian Oct 14, 2007 03:11 PM

              I hadn't seen that shorter tasting menu before. I was assuming that it now costs ($135 + $98 for the wines + aperitifs + something after or with desert) x2 = $$$$$. Since it's a significant birthday dinner, it will be easy to surpass $400 with some drinks. (I wish I could go to Splendido for less, I don't have an expense account)

              1. re: estufarian
                skylineR33 RE: estufarian Oct 14, 2007 08:16 PM

                It really depends on how much wine you order. I spent around $250 at North44 for a dinner of 2 a few months ago. We each order 1 glass of wine, 1 appetizer, 1 main course and 1 dessert. The main courses we ordered are high 40s. So it is much cheaper then Splendido for us. With the portion at North 44, our stomach is full after 3 courses.
                The food is just as good as Scaramouche, Celestin and Truffles IMO.

      2. dinin and dishin RE: kawarthagirl Oct 14, 2007 06:33 PM

        I am confused by your post. Are you looking for upscale, but not wanting to feel the pinch on your wallet? (not that there's anything wrong with that). If so, take LLs advice and go to Batifole.
        I've been to N44 2-3 times and never got why everyone loved it.
        Loved Batifole. Really a gem.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dinin and dishin
          kawarthagirl RE: dinin and dishin Oct 15, 2007 06:38 AM

          No but before I spend $350, I wanted to hear what people thought. You see, we were disappointed with Truffles the 2nd time we went and it's not like we're rolling in the huge bucks, so ....

          1. re: kawarthagirl
            estufarian RE: kawarthagirl Oct 15, 2007 09:40 AM

            Truffles has had several turnovers in chefs. Agreed they've been up and down - especially not good in 2006. They've come back (based on 1 visit this year) but not yet quite as the previous heights.

            1. re: kawarthagirl
              dinin and dishin RE: kawarthagirl Oct 16, 2007 09:54 AM

              I understand the feeling. I went to Globe a few weeks ago and I agree with the others who've rec'd it. We thoroughly enjoyed it and just about fell off our chairs when we got the bill. It was about half what we expected. (under $150 with a bottle of wine, apps and mains) We sat upstairs in a booth and could look down on all the people and dishes. It definitely has the ambiance for a nice birthday dinner.

              Just an FYI...We called for a last minute reservation and the hostess tried to put us in the bar. I pushed for a regular table and was shocked when we arrived and the bar was empty and the restaurant was half empty.

          2. skylineR33 RE: kawarthagirl Oct 14, 2007 08:34 PM

            Not sure if this is what OP is asking for, but I agree that North 44 is at the upper end of the financial scale in Toronto (for a la carte menu).

            1. e
              estragon RE: kawarthagirl Oct 15, 2007 05:22 AM

              I have just two words for you: Globe Bistro. Mains are about $10-12 cheaper than at North 44. The atmosphere is certainly elegant and festive, and the new fall menu (tried it on Friday night) is spectacular. (I'll try to write a review in the next day or two, if I have time.)

              8 Replies
              1. re: estragon
                estufarian RE: estragon Oct 15, 2007 06:02 AM

                I second Globe too! (even though I also suggested Pastis above).

                1. re: estufarian
                  erly RE: estufarian Oct 15, 2007 12:15 PM

                  I do like Globe, and was there last week.
                  My concern for a festive evening, is that they serve the courses much too quickly when busy, and you probably don't want a place that rushes you in and out.
                  They won't say anything to you if you linger, but it isn't a slow romantic evening.

                  1. re: erly
                    Snarf RE: erly Oct 15, 2007 12:27 PM

                    If you do Globe, get the table in the corner on the landing. Nice view over the restaurant, and you get the feeling of being slightly out of the way.

                    1. re: Snarf
                      Jean Georges RE: Snarf Oct 15, 2007 01:08 PM

                      +1 on Globe and agree with Snarf on the location. When I was there we had a party of 8 so took up the entire landing. It was like having a private room but with the benfit of being to look out over the whole restaurant. Try to sit with your back to the wall or you lose this benefit.

                      1. re: Jean Georges
                        millygirl RE: Jean Georges Oct 15, 2007 01:25 PM

                        I wondered how it would feel sitting up there - noise wasn't an issue?
                        Did you have to book well in advance to get the landing? From the look of it, it seems that it would hold more than 8 - no? I'm thinking of going there for my hubby's birthday.

                        1. re: millygirl
                          estragon RE: millygirl Oct 15, 2007 01:29 PM

                          The mezzanine has a whole bunch of booths on the side, though certainly the two or three (?) tables at the back, near the tree, are the best for watching the restaurant "dance."

                          1. re: millygirl
                            Jean Georges RE: millygirl Oct 15, 2007 02:46 PM

                            I was there about 1 week after it opened, so there was no need to book in advance. They didn't have their LLBO license yet but we were able to improvise with the help of the LCBO across the street and some large coat pockets. I don't remember it being noisy at all, but then we were pretty loud ourselves. I think our table for 8 filled the landing.

                  2. re: estragon
                    millygirl RE: estragon Oct 15, 2007 06:02 AM

                    Ditto Globe or Pastis. Batifole IMO is good but not birthday material. You should also consider Mistura. The food is fantastic. The do amazing lamb ribs.

                  3. s
                    Snarf RE: kawarthagirl Oct 15, 2007 07:02 AM

                    Pastis was mentioned. I would disagree with the categorization of it as an "upscale Paradis", as the food is much better. Classic fish soup constructed a la table, foie gras, and much more reasonable than North 44. Also the option of starting across the street at the tasting bar at Summerhill LCBO for some ancient whisky or cognac.

                    Didier is also a fairly classic place, a few blocks north.

                    Another option would be the tasting menu with pairings at Fat Cat. Much smaller, more intimate room, and you could also consult when making the reservations if you wanted to suggest a few ingredients.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Snarf
                      estufarian RE: Snarf Oct 15, 2007 09:47 AM

                      Agree to disagree?
                      I can walk to both Paradis and Pastis - and go to Paradis more often. But for a 'special occasion" would choose Pastis. It's more formal, but the food is no better and the wine list is definitely worse - unbelievable when the flagship LCBO is just across the street. I don't bother walking to Didier - would choose to walk right past it to both of the others. 80's decor (blond wood) and disastrous service (although Didier is a talented chef).
                      I do like the Fat Cat - actually prefer it to all the others mentioned. But the room is very unfriendly and it's crowded. Not somewhere I'd choose for an Anniversary, but I end up there more often than Paradis - most recently last month.

                      1. re: estufarian
                        millygirl RE: estufarian Oct 15, 2007 10:13 AM

                        With all due respect, I have to agree with Snarf in that Pastis is nowhere close to Le Paradis. Last time I was at Le Paradis about 3 years ago I thought the food was horrible and the place was very tired looking - no make that just plain Dirty!!! The steak was extremely tough to the point of being unedible. I would not call Pastis formal either. I find the staff polished but casual at the same time. The service is top notch. And they make a mean cosmo and a memorable escargot dumpling appetizer. We've had some great meals there. The wine list is small but we've always found something that pleases us. Hey just my opinion, and as they say, to each is own.

                        1. re: millygirl
                          estufarian RE: millygirl Oct 15, 2007 12:49 PM

                          OK two recommendations - I think it's time for me to try this again. Have to admit my data point is now over a year old.
                          As for Paradis - I've never found it "dirty" - but it is very dark.

                          1. re: estufarian
                            millygirl RE: estufarian Oct 15, 2007 01:01 PM

                            Hmmm, perhaps they've turned down the lights to hide the dirt!! Sorry I couldn't resist :)

                    2. Jacquilynne RE: kawarthagirl Oct 15, 2007 01:24 PM

                      Just replying to add a couple of Places links.

                      124 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K1N1, CA

                      88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

                      1158 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L9, CA

                      North 44
                      2537 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4P 2H9, CA

                      Show Hidden Posts