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Downtown birthday dinner for mom

qman Jan 3, 2008 10:37 AM

So mom wants something "different" this year....this shouldn't be too hard since we almost always go for Chinese since that's what our family has grown up with and she's used to cooking.

However, she would like something 'different' this year...she isn't someone I would describe as a chowhound, so I have to qualify her view of 'different' as basically, something non-chinese (preferably non-asian) but not steak and potatoes.

Looking for a place this weekend that is downtown since my sister and brother-in-law live downtown and my fiancee and I will be going to the bridal show at the convention centre <insert enthusiasm here>.

I was thinking maybe Segovia for paella, but it's a bit north, otherwise, I was thinking along the lines of Jaime Kennedy winebar...but dinner should be casual, not expensive - less than $30 mains. A decent wine selection is not required.

  1. Rabbit Jan 3, 2008 11:13 AM

    Would Italian fly... Tutti Matti is relatively close to the convention centre?
    Or French... le Select?

    Although I don't think you could go wrong with JKWB.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rabbit
      TorontoJo Jan 3, 2008 11:28 AM

      Agreed about JKWB. Batifole might be a nice French option as well.

      1. re: Rabbit
        caddie Jan 4, 2008 03:28 AM

        Le Select is a great choice. Spacious room and good not too "out there" food. The big problem with JKWB is the 5+ people and the lack of a real reservation policy - waiting for a table isn't fun for a special dinner. I'd skip Segovia - wasn't so impressed when I went, but it's been a few years.

      2. JamieK Jan 3, 2008 12:59 PM

        What about The Fat Belgian at John and Adelaide -

        Also Far Niente at Bay and Wellington - http://farnientegrill.com

        Urban Restaurant is closer by at King and John, a bit pricier but the pasta rissotto dishes look reasonable -

        Would she go for Mexian? Milagro is pretty good, very close by at John and Mercer

        Tutti Matti
        364 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V1R7, CA

        Far Niente
        187 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5L 1G5, CA

        5 Mercer St, Toronto, ON M5V1H2, CA

        Fat Belgian
        115 John St, Toronto, ON M9N, CA

        303 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V1J5, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: JamieK
          c_snapper Jan 8, 2008 08:27 AM

          milagro is awesome...if your chinese mom is anything like my chinese mom, she would enjoy milagro

        2. estufarian Jan 3, 2008 10:23 PM

          How about Indian?
          Trimurti is very respectable with lots of choices - some hot some mild. Both meat and veggie. Tablecloths.
          With beer we usually get out for under $25 per person - and that includes appetizers, mains, breads, rice dish, tax & tip. Search the Board for specific menu suggestions.
          It's on Queen at John (or is it Duncan?) - so about a 10 minute walk.

          265 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V1Z4, CA

          5 Replies
          1. re: estufarian
            qman Jan 4, 2008 06:49 AM

            Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions.

            I asked if she'd prefer french or indian....and to my surprise she went with the Indian! This is quite a surprising turn of events - I don't think I've ever seen her try Indian before.

            estufarian, I've seen you extole the virtues of Tabla....how far ahead of Trimurti would you put it? Maybe we can make the trip up there?

            1. re: qman
              pescatarian Jan 4, 2008 07:10 AM

              I think Tabla would be great for you Mom's birthday if you can make it up there.

              1. re: qman
                estufarian Jan 7, 2008 05:24 AM

                They're different - and I go to both regularly. For a first timer I would lean towards Trimurti - the menu is much wider so greater choice. Having said that, the food at Tabla is 'better' for the dishes that overlap. The ambiance at Tabla is also better. But some people (I know) have difficulty with the prices at Tabla. Typically I spend around $50 (for two) at Trimurti but maybe $80-90 at Tabla - more if I splurge on their pretty good wine list.
                In comparison with other cuisines, that's probably a bargain - but some people still have the mindset that Tabla is expensive "for Indian food". But the higher quality ingredients certainly justify that (for me).
                I'm guesing that 'Mom' has yet to fully discover Indian food - in which case the standard at Trimurti will certainly be sufficient. It's still a step up from many places (e.g. tablecloths and smartly dressed servers). But the sauces are not as 'precise' as Tabla.
                At Trimurti ALL the breads are good (although last time the complimentary pappadum was burned - replaced when I pointed it out).
                Also the Onion Bhajia dish at Trimurti is superb - sort of ungreasy onion rings, slightly spiced. They also have several 'less-spicy' dishes. I particularly recommend the Pasanda dishes (choice of protein). But at their prices you can try different styles ands see if Mom likes those that are mild or spicy. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

                1. re: estufarian
                  pescatarian Jan 7, 2008 06:31 AM

                  When I went to Tabla, without the wine, it cost around $300 for 8 people, that included one of each of the vegetarian items, a couple appetizer platters, one of each of the chutneys and about 4 meat entrees. We were all very full and satisfied. I think that is pretty reasonable for the quality of the food we ate and how full we were.

                  1. re: estufarian
                    qman Jan 8, 2008 07:29 AM

                    I just wanted to post a quick reply and thank you guys for the recco's and commentary on Trimurti.

                    We had a great time and both my parents loved the food. We decided not to get into the heat and stuck with sweeter curries. We liked the passanda, although in retrospect I think it would work better with chicken than the beef that we chose. The eggplant drew many favourable comments too. The crowd pleaser of the night was the often lowly butter chicken though...it had a very clear depth of flavour beyond the butter...I would almost say that the butter was a mere accent to the sauce instead of the main player.

                    There were 2 down points: one was that the service was a tad slow...but given the fact that it was a saturday, this is completely understandable. The other more alarming issue was the fact that one of the chicken kebabs from the tandoor was not fully cooked! This was pointed out and the dish was replaced with a properly cooked one at no charge.

                    Overall, I would definitely return - if it wasn't so far from me...I'm looking forward to trying tabla since I live much closer to it and my fiancee and I love Indian. We'll have to check it out and then introduce my mom to some heat in our next trip.

                    As another endorsement, my brother-in-law also mentioned that there have been a few Susur sightings at Trimurti as well.

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