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Where to eat near Union Station tonight?/Save me from chain restaurant hell

I need some help. Meeting a friend of a friend for the first time (a date I guess?). Anyways, he has to catch a train so want to pick something as close to Union as possible. The only place I can think of at the moment is JKWB but since his suggestion was Casey's I don't think that's the best idea! Any ideas for something on the mid to lower end of the price scale with decent food? I seriously cannot stomach the thought of eating at Casey's.

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  1. JKWB is a good choice. Beerbistro is on King, a tad East of Yonge, so that's an easy walk. And if he's thinking Casey's, maybe beerbistro would be more to his liking, given the beer-inspired menu and monster beer list. Food and atmosphere are both very nice.

    1. Irish Embassy - Wellington and Yonge. Depending on the time you go, it can be busy and loud. The food is pretty good. Beerbistro is also a great choice.

      3 Replies
      1. re: thenurse

        Ughh...yes, anything better than Caseys. I'd definitely second Beerbistro, can't really go wrong there.

        If Japanese isn't too much of a stretch I also like Izakaya (although it gets mixed reviews on here). It's a few blocks east on Front.

        1. re: Bee2

          Ughh...anything better than Izakaya. I'd eat Caseys over Izakaya any day.

          Izakaya is overpriced, food is subpar. In a way that is worse than Caseys.

          1. re: ghetto_scarlem

            well just to keep things balanced, I like Izakaya and recommend the gyoza, shrimp dumplings and mushroom ramen. And for a first date it's a bit quieter than Casey's will be.

      2. Quite close at 4 Front St East, perhaps Biff's Bistro, the bar menu...

        4 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5J, CA

        1. If he's thinking Casey's as a first date, and you're thinking JKWB. you'd better make arrangments for a relative to call you with a crisis 15 minutes into the date so you can exit stage left if necessary.

          If he orders beer and a Tequila to start, you may not even wish to wait for the phone call.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Scary Bill

            <LOL> Yeah, that was kind of my thinking.

            (Gotta say though, what's wrong with beer and tequila? Mmmm....)

            My vote would be for TaKe Sushi--close enough to Union that you can spend more time chatting each other up rather than rushing for a train.

            1. re: Olivia

              Olivia sweetie, you must be a fun first date!

          2. I used to meet a friend of mine for dinner regularly with the same restriction (i.e., must be near Union Station so he can catch a train). Options we tried during that period that weren't chains (pickings were slim around that area so we ended up at chains depending on what we were craving):

            - Pizza Rustica
            - Take Sushi (but this is likely to come out to more than what you want to spend)
            - Dhaba
            - King's Garden
            - Irish Embassy

            And you know what? We even did Marche when we wanted something light. I would just throw together a salad (you can't really screw up raw veggies) and grab a dinner roll and a bottle of sparkling water. Not the best deal of the century but served our purposes at the time.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Juniper

              Pizza Rustica is decent to good. Irish Embassy also fits the bill but can be very busy on game nights (Leafs played last night so check and see if the Raptors are playing tonight). I'd stay away from Dhaba because, in my experience, while the food is quite good (though quite far from Casey's) the service might be too slow for one on a (train) schedule.

              1. re: Juniper

                I don't think Marche is good for a first date. Too much walking around and waiting for your food, etc.

                Beerbistro and Irish Embassy are the best options. Around the corner from Irish Embassy on Colborne is P.J. O'Briens. Owned by the same people as Irish Embassy. If Irish Embassy is too busy, you can check that out.
                Another option that would be better than Casey's, but not exactly fine dining, is the Hot House at Front and Church.
                I love Takesushi, but don't think it's for the Casey's guy. Don't go to Dhaba. Overpriced, Indian food with an identity crisis (buffet quality served on a plate), plus don't think it's for Casey's guy either.

              2. He may just be saying he wants to keep it simple and not think too much about the food. How about The Keg on Church just south of Front?

                  1. re: ghetto_scarlem

                    I would suggest Le Papillion, French/Quebecois, on Church south of Front.

                    1. re: ekammin

                      Le Papillion??? That God-awful tourist trap?...

                      When I'm down around Union Station for food, that usually means I'm going to C'Est What (for beer more than food - their food is passable, but nothing special). A lot of people on these boards complain about poor service at C'Est What, but I found the service fine and consistent.

                      Another place I admit I like around there is Canyon Creek Steakhouse. Ironic, for someone who just berated a poster recommending Le Papillion, but what can you do? I enjoy the atmosphere, consistent good food, and their very tasty cosmos. Sorry. :-)))

                    2. re: ghetto_scarlem

                      He ended up coming closer to me and we went to Japango (my choice!). While the food was amazing as usual (their hamachi is to die for), it took one hour for the single maki role he ordered to arrive. Painful. Mildly amusing in retrospect though - I haven't been propositioned with an invite to Casey's since I was 16 or so!

                      1. re: caddie

                        I realize you've already had your date, but I want to add the Bottom Line to the list. (in case there is a second date) Never thought I would, but they recently revamped the whole restaurant and menu. It is casual, upscale sports bar with food choices (and prices) that are a step up from the chains. That said, Irish Embassy is my first choice in this neighborhood. Beerbistro and Take Sushi are also reliable choices.

                        1. re: dinin and dishin

                          isnt bottome line now affiilated with I think MEATing?

                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            sorry hungryabbey, I don't understand your question.

                              1. re: Googs

                                yes thanks googs, thats what I meant.

                          2. re: dinin and dishin

                            I agree re Bottom Line. I went there tonight for the first time since the revamp. The food is much improved from before. The service was very friendly and attentive. I had fish and chips. It came with a jalapeno aioli which has a really nice bite. The fish was delicious. Nice big moist piece of fish under a nice batter. It's not your typical fish that you have with fish and chips at your local joint, but very tasty and I really liked the texture. The chips did not stand out (which is a drag because I eat fries about 4 times a year and appreciate it when they are fantastic when I do). They were the shoestring variety and not crisp. I prefer a nice potato centre and a good crisp outside. My friend had the calamari appetizer and was happy with it.

                            All in all it has a much improved vibe and we enjoyed the food. I'll go back as there were many things on the menu that looked appetizing to me and I'd like to go back to try them out.

                      2. ++

                        Bottom Line
                        22 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J1C4, CA