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Oct 27, 2007 06:08 PM

Chef's Tables in Toronto


I will be entertaining some friends here in Toronto around Christmas time and they have mentioned that they'd like to experience eating at a Chef's Table. I understand that this sort of dining may cost a pretty penny, so I definitely want a place that will amaze! Any recommendations and recent experiences?

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  1. As far as I know, Toronto does not have a restaurant that offers a Chef's table located directly in the kitchen where one can actually see the chef in action and interact with him. I heard Susur is contemplating putting one in his restaurant/kitcken. However, I'm unsure about the time frame.

    Right now, the closest to a Chef's table can be found at:
    Perigee - a table next to the open kitchen where one can see and interact with the chef.
    Splendido - the round table next to the big window over looking the kitchen. From there, one could easily watch Chef Lee at work and he uaually comes out to greet the patrons after the evening's mad rush dies down.
    George - the table next to the stairway leading into the kitchen. One can see into the kitchen and Chef Lazato usually comes up to greet the occupants of that table. However, the table only seat 4 or 5.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Charles Yu

      There's also JK Wine Bar, where you can sit at the bar overlooking the open kitchen and talk with Chef Tobey Nemeth and her crew.

      Or, if you want to head to the Niagara region, there's Treadwell's in Port Dalhousie (St. Catharines) -- with a chef's table inside the kitchen where you'll be right in the centre of the action with Chef Stephen Treadwell and his brigade.

    2. Hemisphere used to have a chef's table. Not sure if it's still there.

      1. Thank you all for your replies!

        Charles - Out of the 3 restaurants you listed, which would you recommend?

        I have also heard that there is a Chef's Table at Hemispheres - I tried contacting them last week but have yet to and have actually yet to hear from someone there...

        4 Replies
        1. re: hellohellokitty

          Perigee's open kitchen/chef interaction experience is still there, but the food has gone downhill a touch during the past year. Given a choice, I would pick either George or Splendido.

          However, if your intention is to try to 'impress', then, I would definitely go with Splendido for the 'whole package' experience. Food aside, Splendido's service is definitely more polish and their wine program is more superior. As for food, both Lorenzo Lazato and David Lee, in the course of a multi course tasting menu, can come up with creations that 'wows'. However, I personally find Georges dessert a bit more interesting. Either way, I'm sure your party will have a wonderful meal! If you wanted to lock up the table I mentioned, you better make your reservation 'pronto'!!!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Perigee has glassed in the kitchen so there is no chef interaction, you can see in but cannot smell or hear what is going on...

            A freind has eaten at the Chefs table at Trevor and (i have not seen it) but they said it was right in the kitchen.

            1. re: OnDaGo

              if you really consider a chef's table to be IN a kitchen, then calling what they have at trevor's that is an utter fallacy.

              it's an incredibly clever use of an otherwise absolutely useless space. you are at a table for 6 across from the pass and behind a storage shelf, yet any interaction is practically null. the servers forced a constant breezy divide between us and the chefs when picking up food. but on top of that, we were so neglected for service considering so many of them were passing by us at once! one benefit was that an order of the kobe burger appetizer arrived with 5 servings rather than the original 3 so that we could all have a portion.

              1. re: OnDaGo

                They glassed in the kitchen at Perigee? I loved the way the chef would talk to you as the plate was being served...that's a real shame.

          2. I'm not certain, and no doubt someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but I suspect that a chef's table actually in the kitchen would contravene a Toronto bylaw.

            That said, at FatCat Bistro, 476(?) Eglinton W., has a chef's table just outside the very large serving window by the kitchen, and if you're nice and he's not too busy , Chef will chat with you. FatCat is not cheap, but Mathew Sutherland is very talented, experimental, but solidly rooted in tradition, so nothing gets, as some people (e.g., a certain journo) put it, "too weird". If I had to pin him down, I'd say that between French, Italian, and Chinese, his sensibility is Italian, which is to say that he lets the basic ingredient speak for itself without excessive decoration with sauces, etc. (I realise that I've just invited a new war here.) He's also very careful about following seasonal ingredients, as well, which in itself isn't novel; he just seems to better than some others I've encountered. FatCat also has a very good wine list. Just as a testimonial, a wealthy friend of mine from Boston, who travels a great deal, and I went there for our annual Toronto dinner two years ago, and he was shocked at the quality/price ratio cf Boston, London, Paris, in the most positive way. I would guess $150 per person currently, depending what's on offer. I would suggest that when making your reservation, say that you want the chef's table, and that you will eat anything. A chef's table is no place for those who lack conviction in their belly.

            3 Replies
            1. re: hungry_pangolin

              What about Colborne Lane? I was there once, shortly after it opened. We had a brief tour of the kitchen and, just past the kitchen, was a little room (with a huge window on to the kitchen) that was going to be the chef's table. At that time, a few months ago now, they had not worked out the heating issues (it was too hot) but it looked like it would be fantastic once the kinks were worked out.
              Does anyone know if the chef's table is operational? Hellohellokitty, you may want to give a call and ask.

              1. re: EarlyDrive

                It is. Eaten there three times in the past two months. It's a great experience. Chef Aprile is a joy to watch (listen to) in the kitchen. Very calm, very controlled; like a well-oiled machine where the staff seem to be entranced by chef. You get the feeling of a lot of respect amongst the cooks. He doesn't really seem (or need) to present himself as an authority figure, but more as a wiser sort of parental figure to the staff. It's nice to see for a change. A really lovely way to experience the focus of a meal seemingly cooked for you alone in your own little world.

                I really like dining at the Chef's table of a restaurant -- even if the kitchen is loud and crazy. It's an experience that should be had by all serious diners if given the opportunity. It provides insight and offers a context for your food that you can't get sitting in the dining room.

                It helps that the food currently being put out at Colborne Lane is smokin' delicious.

                1. re: Bueno

                  Yeah Colborne Lane has a Chefs Table. Been trying to get a reservation for this sometime soon.

            2. There is also a chef's rail at Canoe which oversees the entire kitchen with a beautiful west-facing view as well....