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Has anyone tried any of the following...

My friends bday is coming and its on a sunday so has given me a couple options that shes considering for dinner, just thought Id ask your opinion on them since I havent heard much about the following restaurants:
Cielo on Elm st
River on Roncesvalles
Bodega on Baldwin
Politica on Strachan ave.
Riva supper club on College

Any info on any of them would be appreciated!

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  1. I used to eat at Bodega fairly often a few years ago, but haven't been there recently. I recall the food as being very good, but with two irritants - 1) the tables were too close to each other, and 2) the owner would always come to the table and give a rather lengthy and affected-sounding discourse on each of the mains.

    2 Replies
      1. re: ekammin

        I had the same reaction to the pompous owner, but didn't he sell the place a year or two ago? I'm pretty sure the place is under new management.

      2. 3 of those are on my want to try list, but I've only been to Riva.

        I was very pleasantly surprised by Riva since 65-degrees was nothing special. Tasty, well thought out dishes. A good value for the quality. Nice atmosphere. I recommend it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Delish

          thanks for your input, would you remember what you had by chance? it does look like a good value. which ones are on your list?

          1. re: hungryabbey

            I know we shared an appetizer platter, then I believe I had lamb (sorry - this was close to 2 months ago). I do know that I enjoyed it, and my one complaint was that the food was served more warm than hot, despite the place being empty.

            I may have mis-typed as there are actually only 2 on my list... River and Politica.

        2. I've tried Cielo on Elm for lunch. Reasonabley executed italian, nothing stellar.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bluedog

            We went to River for a friend's b-day a few months ago. I don't really recommend it. The food wasn't that amazing and service was lacking. I'd pass on River.

            1. re: bluedog

              I had dinner at Cielo, good but agree that it is nothing stellar. With it's price, it is good in value., main from $18 to $28, pasta all below $16, portion is big. Environment is ok with tables widely spread. Service is friendly. I think it is a good spot for group lunch/dinner with it's price point and environment, it has a second floor in which I saw quite a few large group of people there.

            2. thanks for all the replies, I think Bodega seems like a good bet. has anyone else had experiences there?

              4 Replies
              1. re: hungryabbey

                Food is good, but it's kinda a bit stuffy when it doesn't need to be - just in the fact that I think they take themselves a little bit too seriously. I'm sure your group will enjoy it there.
                As for Politica, I haven't ever heard of anybody eating there. I used to live right up the street, and never once saw anybody eat there (before and after it was Politica). From an outside point of view - it's a strange place

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  I have - but my experience was pretty negative. I went two years back for a birthday dinner. It was a group of 8. The food was far from memorable, and not nearly worth the price we paid. I distinctly remember that the service was very slow, although the place was nowhere near capacity.
                  It's a lovely space - so disappointing though.

                  I haven't tried any of these other places, but I've heard good things about River, though. Good luck!

                  1. re: Yum2MyTum

                    oh that complicates things slightly.. I do hate slow service...

                    1. re: Yum2MyTum

                      I had a very similar experience at Bodega last summer. There was six of us and we had a variety of the dishes on the prix fixe menu and we were all underwhemled. I had the steak - it was very overcooked, but tasty. I asked for med-rare and there was not even a bit of pink to be seen in the centre. Disappointing, especially since I was the one who proposed the place...

                  2. I've been to Politica twice. Once it was a big group of us on a Friday at about 7, and the other time was myself and two friends at 9:30 on a Saturday. Both times the service was great and the food was terrific.

                    When I went on the Saturday night, I did find the music a little bit loud (they had a DJ spinning), but the back area was quieter. The atmosphere both times was fun, and comfortable.

                    The first time I was there I had a salad to start, and then a pizza. The pizza was terrific. On my second visit I had the seared tuna nicoise salad and LOVED it - I would definitely order it again. My friends ordered pasta and really enjoyed their food as well.

                    I will definitely go back again, and the friends I have brought there have said the same.

                    127 Strachan Ave, Toronto, ON M6J2S7, CA

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: furhead

                      hm ok thenmaybe thats another option

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        I have fond memories of Bodega being the first place that I tried "weird" salad. I was just a kid, but I was convinced the chefs had gone out to the park and picked some greens off the lawn and sprinkled dressing on it.
                        Agreed, the tables were very close together, but then again, the place is supposed to feel kind of "homey" anyways.

                    2. just came back from a nice meal at Bodega, yes we attempted to go out in this weather but we've been bored locked up inside all day.. I was surprised to see that we werent the only ones there, there were 2 other tables during the course of our meal. We arrived at 6pm and our coats were hung for us and we were shown to a nice table in the corner. Generally, I found the service just okay, not super friendly or helpful in anyway, but not slow and not by any means rude, just...I dont know, not warm. Anyways, the room was nice, lovely fire place perfect for a cold night like tonight.. I liked the atmosphere, very minimal, simple,but charming. It would make a good date spot.
                      Now, the food. We all had a Niagara riesling (Im sorry I dont recall which) and were brought a lovely basket of warm bread and butter. The bread was a fantastic whole grain loaf, really flaky on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. My only complaint is the big loaf was served with a very small slice of butter, I mean there was no more then 2 tsp. of butter in the little dish, so we had to wait a few moments for him to bring more before we could all enjoy the bread. For apps, 2 had the beet salad with walnuts and blue cheese I believe which I tried and thought was very nice, the beets were sliced nice and small so the orange dressing really covered the entire salad. Another had a quail dish served with some braised endive and baby asparagus which I also had a bite of and thought it was very nice. I decided to try the french onion soup which I have never had before anywhere but I was really glad I did. The cheese was a bit on the heavy side (uh Ill pay for it at the gym tomorrow), but the soup itself was so light and flavourful it helped to balance it out. For mains, 3 of us had the steak frites (we arent that creative) and another had a special which was a beef tenderloin with a potato rosti. I did try the beef tenderloin which was obviously a better cut then the flat iron steak we had as it was much more flavourful. However, I still found the flat iron steak to be very good considering the price, and it was cooked perfectly to each of our specifications. I will say though the standout of the meal was the frites, mmmm they were PERFECT! just the way I like them. Very thinly sliced, nice and crispy and a huge portion. We were too full to go for dessert though I would go back if I were asked. I'd call it a safe spot for dinner, good if you have picky eaters, but nothing to really go crazy raving about (well, except for maybe those frites).. for 4 glasses of wine, 2 bottles of sparkling water, 4 apps, and 4 mains the bill was 207$ after tax, before tip. Not bad at all! Thanks for the tips again guys!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: hungryabbey


                        30 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1L3, CA

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          Wow hungryabbey, I must say that your experience was absolutely the opposite of mine, two years back. I'm glad you ignored me and tried Bodega anyway! I may have to stop by, based on your review.

                          1. re: Yum2MyTum

                            perhaps it was just a good night? it was definetly not busy so maybe they gave special attention to the preparation? or perhaps (hopefully), its just improved. lets keep our fingers crossed that it wasnt an isolated event.

                        2. I've been to River many times - it can be hit or miss. It is owned by the owners of Il Fornello and is a job retraining restaurant for at-risk youth (long before Jamie Oliver had the same idea!). I've had really outstanding food here and really not great food. It just depends who is cooking, as the staff changes regularly. But it's a good cause to support, and is generally reasonably priced.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: SherylKirby

                            hm thats very interesting. thanks for telling me that sheryl, I will consider the place next time I go out to see how that system works.