Toronto - Yorkville suggestions, sushi, small plates?
My husband and I are going to be in Toronto next month. The last time we went, we had some great dinners at Jamie Kennedy’s Wine Bar, Starfish and Perigee, and had a great time checking out the Kensington Market area. This time we’re staying at the Marriott Toronto Bloor Yorkville which I think is in a new area for us. While we would consider going back to some of the same places, we’d also like to try some new things. We’re going to see Mike Doughty at the Mod Club, so I was thinking about sushi d on Saturday night. Your thoughts? We’d also like to try dim sum – we went to an upscale hotel place last time and wouldn’t mind trying it again, but can’t remember the name. I’d also be interested in good lunch places in the area of the hotel, and good small plates places (tapas or the like.) I appreciate your help!
YORKVILLE AND ENVIRONS
Dynasty on Bloor (Bloor, just east of Avenue) - not quite as upscale as the hotel you were at (more like mid-high end) with decent renditions of classic dimsum fare and some variations on the classics.
Ichiriki (Bloor, just west of Church) - decent sushi, though I would recommend staying away from the marinated fish selections (mackerel, sardine, etc.) as I found the vinegar overpowering. Otherwise, they have a good selection and reasonable prices. Service is horribly slow and scattered, so make sure you're not in a rush to go anywhere.
Kokyo Sushi on Alexander (just off Yonge) may be a better bet as far as service, though the selection of fish isn't exciting and it's a bit further away from where you're staying than Ichiriki. It's a very basic sushi joint so don't expect anything that will make you say, "wow" (actually, sushi in Toronto rarely makes you say that, but I digress).
Keiseki Sakura (Church, just north of Wellesley) - not for sushi, but for Japanese Keiseki style dining. I haven't been myself but there are lots of opinions about the place on the board so just search to see if it sounds like your thing.
You may also want to check out the new restaurant at the Royal Ontario Museum, where Jamie Kennedy has an operation. The restaurant is in the newly built Crystal designed by famed architect, Daniel Liebeskind.
Truffles at the Four Seasons for high-end hotel dining, and as far as celebrity chefs go, there's also One (Mark McEwen) at the Hazelton Hotel and Spice Room (Greg Couillard) in the Hazelton Lanes Mall. Truffles get consistently good reviews on this board (of which I concur) and elsewhere. One has mainly positive reviews, and Spice Room seems to be very hit and miss, though I have yet to make it to these places to see for myself.
Also within reach is Mistura for solid high-end Italian. Wish for mid-range brunch and dinner, Foccacia for mid-range dinner (and possibly lunch/brunch, but I'm not sure myself of whether they are open during the day? I've never checked...). Fire on the East Side for casual comfort food.
As for lunch, I like the doner at A La Turque (Church, just north of Wellesley). They are generous with their fillings and friendly folks overall. Not a fancy sit-down place at all, as you can imagine. Crepes A Go Go is also a good lunch option if you like crepes. There's also a Montreal Bread Co. gourmet sandwich shop in the Yorkville area but I haven't had a chance to check it out -- perhaps another hound can chime in with some thoughts on this place?
LITTLE ITALY/SOUTH ANNEX
Sushi D is fine for AYCE sushi, if that's what you're looking for. Nothing fabulous, nothing awful either. They can also serve a la carte, but I think most go there for the AYCE, which is pretty reasonably priced.
In this area, I would recommend Utopia Cafe or The Roxton for good comfort food. Both are very casual and laid back. I live in the 'hood and these are by far my favourite haunts around here. The Roxton is a bit of a slowfood type of place, so maybe not the best choice before a show, but if you arrive early (like around 6PM, before the dinner rush, which is usually at 7:30) you should be okay. They changed the chef at the end of the summer and since then I've found the food to be very slightly underseasoned, but nothing that can't be fixed with a couple of shakes of the salt shaker.
I've also heard good things about Sorriso... there was a very recent thread, which I can't seem locate just at this moment, but you can search it on the board.
Karuchie is a newish spot, on the very western ends of the College Street strip. Here, I found the chef to be a bit heavy handed with the salt, but if you are a salt fiend it should work for you. The food is well executed otherwise... steaks are done exactly as ordered and they are nicely trimmed of gristle, pastas are al dente, side veggies are also al dente.
After your show, you may want to hang out across the street at Il Gatto Nero, which serves a great machiatto. Food is blah so I wouldn't recommend a midnight snack here, but the place is usually quite lively so it's a nice place for a beer or coffee. Or else, further down the street, there's Cucina, which is a nice place for desserts (house made and usually light on the sugar, which is my preference) and drinks. The atmosphere is more laid back and chill.
Anyway, I think that makes for a pretty long post. Sorry about that. Hope you enjoy your trip here though.
Don't be sorry - I'm thrilled to get so many good suggestions!
I am more a quality than quantity girl, so perhaps we'll skip Sushi D and go for your Utopia Cafe or Roxton suggestions, and Cuchina sounds ideal for post-show unwinding.
Thanks also for the lunch options.
I think Jamie Kennedy's museum restaurant was just opening the last time we were in town. Have you heard good things? I have, if anything, a mild aversion to the "celebrity chef" thing but will admit we had a great time at his wine bar last time.
Actually, Jamie Kennedy is across the road at the Gardiner Museum. Executive chef Ted Carrado runs C5 -
Haven't been to C5 but I highly recommend JK at the Gardiner, the meal I had there last week was delicious. And, if you are interested, there is an excellent exhibit of beautiful and amusing Staffordshire figures on right now at the musuem.
You'll need to make reservations at JK Gardiner, only open for lunch and a prix fixe Friday dinner -
Staffordshire - Man-Eating Tiger exhibit-
Jamie Kennedy Gardiner
111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S, CA
Following on your request for small plates or tapas, here are a couple.
Greg Couillard's Spice Room and Chutney Bar - if you sit at the bar, you will find many of the appetizers available in decent sized tasting portions for around 9$ per. A good saving, as the appetizers are usually in the mid to high teens.
The Roof bar at the Park Hyatt also does a number of small plates, and is a classic venue to have a drink in. If you get there relatively early, and are strategic, you can score one of the couches in front of the fireplace, though the tables are pretty good as well. Fantastic views of the city.
Many great suggestions here, and would heartily endorse Greg Coulliard and JK at the Gardiner. I would also add Caren's Wine and Cheese on Cumberland, across from the Cumberland Theatre, for a slightly more casual spot.
OK, here's what we have down for our visit right now - we are still thinking about Grand Chinese Cuisine but my husband is concerned about the distance, I think. Many are suggestions from here - any thoughts on the plan? We will likely be doing museums and the like during the day
dinner, Jamie Kennedy's Wine Bar - 9 Church Street 416- 362-1957
Wednesday - unfortunately, business stuff (meaning, whatever overpriced, diappointing steakhouse the guys there pick.)
Thursday - dinner, Kaiseki Sakura, 556 Church St. 416-923-1010
10 am tour of St. Lawrence Market w/ Bruce Bell - 92 Front St. E., 416-410-9242
Dim sum, Lai Wah Heen, Metropolitan hotel, 108 Chestnut St. 416-977-9899
dinner, Caren's Wine and Cheese - 158 Cumberland Toronto 416-962-5158
Dim sum - Dynasty, 131 Bloor West 416-923-3323
dinner, The Roxton - 379 Harbourd St. 416-535-8181
Mike Doughty show, the Mod Club
Late night drink/dessert - Il Gatto Nero - 720 College St. 416-536-3132
If it is me, I will skip Kaiseki Sakura. Found it overpriced, food over-cooked, taste is brand, poor portion (but I heard it has improved it's portion lately). However, it is the only kaiseki place in Toronto downtown, I do not feel like I am eating kaiseki in there anyway.
Go to Susur or Splendido or Colborne Lane instead !