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HELP! I need to wow my boyfriend

ah my boyfriends birthday is coming and I need a great, romantic restaurant to take him to.. he;s always treating me to amazing, expensive dinners (one of our more recent experiences was at susur) and now I really have to make it up to him, so what would be a good romantic dinner destination for two early 20 year olds. I would probably prefer to stay away from italian only because hes been in italy for the past 3 weeks and is probably a bit sick of it
Thanks in advance!!

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  1. Romance can come from many sources. Sometimes a really great room can do it, sometimes amazing food will carry the day. Another variable is quiet, efficient service versus the extremely knowledgeable who can build up amazing anticipation. Here are some recommendations with good to great food, and some adjectives to hopefull give you some intimation of experience.

    Lai Toh Heen - ask for the front section on the bar side. Unobtrusive efficient service in a beautiful room with exotic selections. 150 - 200 per couple for a good feast with wine

    Scaramouche - ask for a view table. Knowledgeable efficient service, beautifully prepared, though not cutting edge food. 200 - 300

    Cava - very knowledgeable, friendly with an edge service. Many times I've just described my mood and said feed me; can't recall a disappointment (but set the ground rules on ranges, as they may upsell). 150 - 250

    93 Harbord - Beautiful room, very calm service, knowledgeable, probably a quiet atmosphere. Food is more off the beaten track middle eastern. 100 - 150

    Joso's - for the shear experience. The next generation is carrying on very well.

    For any of these places, you'll get more mileage if you explain in advance that you want to create an experience/occasion as well as have a meal. Joso's is usually good for a glass of sparkling in these situations. Enjoy!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snarf

      i would second 93 harbord, the food is stunningly flavourful without being indulgent, and not out the 20-something budget. a lovely modern room with ambiance to spare.

    2. Perhaps still too mediterranean... but what about Chiado? Certainly high end (mains top at $45, specials might be more), a relaxed elegance. impeccable food (especially if you enjoy seafood). impeccable service. It really is one of my favourite places in the city. It also has a great wine list (I might be mistaken, but I think that Wine Spectator said it had the best selection of Portuguese wines in North America), but, as expensive as it is (and it is), the staff do not try to "up sell" you on the wine. Their selections, in my experience, have always been rational.

      As to being in your early 20s, I wouldn't worry about that. They're professionals, and the older clientele tend to be a bit on the casual (yet elegant/nice) side anyway. I first went in my mid 20s, and now early 40s, and honestly, I've noticed no difference in the quality of service.

      If you can, since it is a special night, try to arrange Carlos to wait your table. He works, I think, only Friday evenings now. He's a great guy, knows his stuff intimately, and if you don't know something and have to ask (as I did), he's just enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge. No condescension. Just interest and enthusiasm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hungry_pangolin

        I have always had a good time at Lolita's Lust on the Danforth, right near Carlaw on the south side. Because there are so many little rooms, sometimes you can request privacy, and they have and excellent wine and menu selection. The only thing that I don't like is the tacky sayings that scroll by on the wall, but it's small enough to ignore it, or lame enough to have a laugh about.

      2. excellent recomendations guys! I will look into each one.. those are all places Ive considered, the trick is to make sure I pick a place he hasnt already been so Ill need to do some investigating. Ill let you know what I go with, and any more feedback/suggestions would be great as well!

        1 Reply
        1. re: hungryabbey

          My boyfriend and I went to Cava last night and, frankly, weren't as wowed with the food as we expected to be. Also, I wouldn't describe the atmosphere as romantic. I'd recommend Amuse Bouche. Its atmosphere is more romantic and the food is really outstanding. We had the tasting menu and weren't disappointed.

        2. - I only had a taste of Colborne Lane (app and cocktail), but I'm eager to go back for more. It was written up in Bon Appetit for October, so may be quite busy now. If you're looking for romance, I would suggest asking not to be seated at the communal table (unless, of course, you find that romantic... I wouldn't!). www.colbornelane.com

          - Lucien looks gorgeous, and while I haven't been, I've always enjoyed Scott Woods' cooking elsewhere. Also, it's new enough that your boyfriend probably hasn't been either. Do note that one poster found it was a little loud. www.lucienrestaurant.com

          - I think Amuse-Bouche is very romantic... not as fancy as Susur or Scaramouche, but more dark and intimate, boite-y kind of romantic. www.amuseboucherestaurant.com

          Please do let us know where you end up...
          Rab-bit!

          1. Per snarf's posting, Scaramouche with a window table would make a great choice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Charles Yu

              I'd have to agree. Scaramouche! I'm in my early twenties and the staff were so delightful - they seemed to be even friendlier than usual as they could tell it was a special night out.