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visitor to town - JKWB, Canoe - thoughts?

in a few weeks, i have a friend from the UK coming to toronto for 2 nights. it will be his first trip to canada. i'd like to give him a chance to get a taste of more 'canadian' cuisine, which i know is difficult to define.

here are some things i've taken into consideration:
-he likes wine bars
-wants a taste of canadian cuisine/showcase more canadian ingrediants (e.g. no fusion/asian restaurants)
-not too much emphasis on seafood on the menu
-one mid-price restaurant
-one higher-end restaurant for tasting menu with wine pairing
-something that would be make the restaurant 'stand out'/be memorable from a tourist point of view

so i thought JKWB would be a good fit, with the more 'canadian' aspect of the ingrediants used, as well as (obviously) wine choice and it's not too formal a restaurant.

and the higher-end place, i was thinking Canoe would be good especially because it has a great view. is canoe's tasting menu worth it? i am sure there are better tasting menus at other restaurants, but they don't have the 'wow' factor that the view from up top of the td building has.

do you think going to jkwb and canoe would be overkill, or are they different enough from each other that it would be worth it? i know price wise and with ambiance they are different, but is there any other restaurant that would could be a good replacement for either of these? i guess i am struggling with choosing places that have cuisines that are different enough but meet the criteria.

there might be more details i'm missing that would help answer my questions, if so, please post and i'll clarify!

edited to add: said visitor is not the most adventurous of eaters, nor by any means is a foodie. thanks for the suggestions so far, keep them coming!

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  1. If he likes wine bars, then you should also consider Crush.

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    Crush
    455 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V1K4, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

      the wine i had by the glass at crush was wretched and limited especially in comparison to the wine list at foxley. they might not slate themselves as a wine bar but it is absolutely impressive that they have 95 bottles available with the vast majority under $60 and $9 glasses that are delicious.

      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        Wines by the glass wretched? I have never had a wine there that I would describe as wretched, and I'm a pretty harsh critic (by my own standards). Eric Grennaro is a talented sommelier, and the owner, Jamieson Kerr, trained at the very famous Willi's Wine Bar in Paris. They are both very passionate about wine. How many wines did you try? And did you bring it to your server's attention that you didn't like the wine you were trying? I am sure they would have immediately replaced anything not to your liking.

        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

          Just wanted to add a link to their current wine list-they update their offerings by the glass each month to focus on a different region-right now it's Piedmont but that will change within days.

          http://www.crushwinebar.com/crush_win...

          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

            we only tried two different glasses and since it was only a quick stop on our way to somewhere else we weren't keen on dealing with "issues" that evening. the bar staff seemed amenable enough from what i could tell but it just wasn't worth my bother.

            i picked two typically strong reds because my companion generally prefers them, one of them being a shiraz and the other a grenache and... something blend (the something being a grape i don't recognize in my limited knowledge of wine). and just found them sharp and watery. could be a personal preference thing, but it was just atypical from what i generally expect of those grapes.

          2. re: pinstripeprincess

            Since my comments were removed last fall let me simply state that the wine program at Crush is just that, 'a program'. The Foxley is fun and food. The wine there is arbitrary at worst. It is not comprehensive or tailored to the desires of the kitchen. Thanks PSP - stick, out.

        2. I'm one of those people who doesn't quite get why Canoe is so high on peoples' lists. It's very 'safe' cuisine which is competent and well-presented, but seems to be missing something. Yes, it's a great room, but there are a lot of great rooms, many with much better food.

          With your visitor being from the UK, I would consider looking for places that either are ahead of their time and unique here, and chefs like Susur, Aprile, McEwan, Chrystian, Riley, Couillard, Sutherland and the dudes at Amuse Bouche come to mind. I'm not sure if the brits have gotten over that whole entrail thing that seems to be the rage now, but there's nothing worse than taking a guest to a 'fashionable' restaurant that has borrowed heavily from something passe elsewhere (think hot rock cuisine).

          I recently ran into a bunch of brits at a steakhouse; they were there because they still are behind the times in terms of restocking their fields and eating steak in the same cits and quantities. That might be an idea.....

          JKWB? Always.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Snarf

            Hey, where is David Chrystian these days? He's not at The Drake anymore, is he?

            1. re: peppermint pate

              He's @ a new boite out on Queen East somewhere - that's all I know.

              1. re: stick1918

                I thought David Chrystian was at Chez Victor (at the le Germain hotel).

                Did he move recently (he is still listed as exec chef on their web site)?

                1. re: Rabbit

                  I am almost certain that he has moved on. Le Germain has had issues with their resto tennants. There was a recent review in NOW about his latest surfacing - Queen East....still can't pull the name out of my head. East of Parliament somewhere.

                  1. re: stick1918

                    Chrystian is still at Le Germain/Chez Victor for certain.

                    1. re: insideman

                      My chronology is off then. Apologies.

                      1. re: stick1918

                        Thanks for all of the posts - I've always liked David Chrystian's cooking -remember Cafe Societa on College? That place was great. I've yet to try out Chez Victor, though I can't recall any "wow" posts on this board since it re-opened.

                        1. re: peppermint pate

                          Societa rocked in the beginning. Haven't heard a thing about Chez Victor.

          2. Can I toss The Rebel House into the mix??

            If he's into beer at least somewhat. It's got great food with plenty of Canadian ingredients and is just a fantastic little neighbourhood establishment. He may find that a bit homey. He may not want to do that type thing though.

            DT

            4 Replies
            1. re: Davwud

              I thought of suggesting Rebel House too after reading the OP but it didn't seem to fit within the requested criteria. But it does have a "Canadian" menu and surely a guy from the UK would enjoy trying a pint or two of the local brew?

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              Rebel House
              1068 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L4, CA

              1. re: JamieK

                I would also pipe up for Rebel House and add a vote for a good steak. While there are many debates about where the best steaks are in Toronto, I have found my UK friends are always dying for a steak when they come to visit (pre and post cattle issues - they just don't seem to do good steak). I would also consider the Distillery District for the 'unique' quality of the rooms.

                1. re: Julie McCoy

                  the only time i've been to Rebel House was a few summers ago. is it busy on a thursday night? is the patio open all year round?

                  1. re: auberginegal

                    Rebel House can get very busy, depending on time, day, etc. Thursday, probably medium to high traffic. If you don't mind waiting, should work. It could be a good stop before another unique Toronto experienece, Joso's, which is a little over 1k away, through the park and down Avenue.

            2. If your friend is looking for a great meal send him to Great Cooks on Eight at Bay and Queen for lunch. The wine menu is limited but the options are nice. Then send him to Canoe for Dinner. The views from both are exceptional and the meals will both be well worth it. Great cooks for two with wine $75. Canoe for two with wine $200. Food at both places I would rate as equal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: TOfoodking

                have you had the tasting menu at Canoe before? the comments i've read on this board are always that it's better to go a la carte, but usually there's not much explanation as to why...

              2. Aside from the fantastic view, Canoe is one of the few high-end restaurants that's actually worth the prices. The wine is outrageous, but the food is spectacular.

                1 Reply
                1. re: taylor39

                  I totally disagree!! Been to Canoe 3 times over the past 5 years and never have I had spectacular food. Safe and uninventive is how I would describe the cuisine-definately not spectacular.

                2. Although I usually like Canoe, their current 'Taste of Ontario Strawberries" tasting menu is a definite avoid. Almost every course is a tiny little dessert. Delicious for sure, and it will satisfy your sweet tooth, but unless you are <12 years old you will leave hungry. The only meat in the whole thing is one squab. Me and my family were so hungry by the end that we couldn't wait to get out of there and get some street meat. Personally, for 200+ a head, I expect to actually get fed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: graydyn

                    The Drake is a great place to take anyone from abroad. The experience and decor is not like many places in Europe. Whenever I have friends from abroad they all seem to love the Drake. The menu is bland. But if you stick to the Apps and Snacks its worth it.