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dinner for 20 people at $35 a head?

A few weeks back I posted a request for tips on restaurants in Scarborough that would be suitable for students attending an undergraduate conference. At the time I had a budget of $20 per person including tax and tip but no drinks. Several members made very helpful suggestions.

However: the party has moved downtown, and the budget has been bumped to $35 a head including taxes and tip (but again, no drinks). I assume that will open a lot more doors. I would be very very grateful for suggestions. Close to Union Station would be ideal, but I'm open to suggestions of places elsewhere.

I had thought of the new Terroni's, but I'm not sure if they'll take a reservation on a Saturday night for a large group. I also read some reviews recently on chowhound that scare me a bit.

many thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. C'est What. It's walking distance from Union (on Front).

    1. Hot House over at Front & Church has group menus at $30 a head -

      Hot House
      35 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1T3, CA

      1. Thanks for those recommendations -- very helpful.

        Turns out that C'est What only takes reservations in the summer.

        hothousecafe might work...not many warm endorsements on these boards, however. maybe that's too much to expect for $35.

        Any other recs? Does anyone have experience with a larger group at the queen mother, or at the asian legend on dundas, which might be close enough to union?

        1 Reply
        1. re: retrobolted

          For next time... Asian Legend on Dundas can handle large groups; you need a reservation and it would have been a good hike from Union

          C'est What is too small for dinner with that many people, same with the Queen Mother (they only have booths really)

          The Front St area around Union and Skydome mainly caters to tourists and the lunchtime crowd,so the emphasis is on volume or a theme, not quality
          Hot House Cafe and Joe Badali's are good examples of this!!

        2. The Irish Embassy at Yonge and Wellington (is it Wellington?) might work?

          1. Ok - not downtown but I've just "discovered" Quince. (S. of Eglinton on Yonge - W side).

            Wow. Right price range, food outstanding, lots of variety for your price point, ambiance quite special and they have a private room and bar area in the lower level that is quite wonderful - I've been trying to figure out who I can round up to book that space.

            Dinner this week - I had grapefruit winter salad to start and followed with roasted lamb bok choy and rapini. So good. Dessert was a small chocolate mouse with roasted marsh-mellow ice-cream. Yummy! Chased it all with a double expresso.

            1. C'est What has serious service issues, especially with large groups, so I would recommend avoiding it. Hot House is convenient and large, but the food is very mediocre.

              I would recommend Beer Bistro -- nice atmosphere, very close to Union Station and a good menu with enough variety for non-adventurous eaters.

              Re: Quince -- I love this restaurant, but i don't think you're going to be able to hit your price point if anyone orders an app or a dessert.

              1. Try the new Terroni's or Beer Bistro King East....Miranda

                1. I organized a group dinner for about 30 people at Copia Grille and Wine Bar at 310 Front 2 years ago, for $35 pp before tax and tip, but we had a choice of 2 first courses, 3 different main courses ( for us, the choices were steak, chicken or fish) and a dessert. If you eliminate one of the courses, or find a main that would work that's less costly than steak, you might be able to work something out in your price range.

                  Copia is located just west of the Rogers Centre, on the north side of Front. The prix fixe options seemed to be more upscale than their regular menu, which tends to be fairly typical bar food/appetizers/sandwiches etc. Not a destination restaurant for their regular menu, but they were very easy to work with, and everyone at the group dinner was happy with what they ordered.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Sorry, not much help around the Union area... you might be able to do it at Joe Badali's if you stick w/ pizza or pasta mains. Food was ok when I went, but service was just barely passable. (Hardly a glowing review!)

                    Here are some other downtown suggestions:

                    If you're willing to bump your budget up $4/head, Bar Italia in Little Italy will do a 3 course prix fixe for $30 (so, $39 including tax and 15% [mandatory] tip). The mains are all pastas, but you get 3 choices.

                    The Central (Annex near Bloor & Bathurst, just behind Honest Ed's) has an upstairs space that can be used for private events. They might even give you all of the upstairs area for yourselves. Most mains btw $7 & $12, and none over $16. Haven't had the food there, but will by the end of the month! :) http://www.thecentral.ca/menus.php

                    Nirvana on College at Bathurst is another option. Almost all entrees under $10 (heck, you might even get a beer or two included in your budget!). Casual, student/neighbourhood vibe, but really tasty sandwiches. (Still relatively new, so business is a bit slow for now


                    Bar Italia is a bit more upscale, and Central and Nirvana are definitely more casual. Not scuzzy or divey, just casual. Central would be easiest for Subway access; Bar Italia and Nirvana are still pretty easy to get to, but both require a streetcar (or a ~10 min walk from the subway).

                    434 College St, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                    Bar Italia
                    582 College St., Toronto, ON M6G 1B3, CA

                    Badali's Joe Restaurant
                    156 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J2L6, CA

                    1. Thanks a lot to everyone who replied. I tried to go with Quince, but the private room was booked out that night. Bar Italia would have worked, except it was a bit harder to reach given that we were coming from Scarborough by TTC (yet another transfer). Beer Bistro looked like a possibility, if we stretched a bit, except the booking people never returned my email. In the end we went with Trimurti, which was really great -- fast service, despite the crowd, great food, and incredibly cheap. I would definitely recommend Trimurti for a group like this.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: retrobolted

                        Try Mercatto on Toronto street, close to the new Terroni's. The dinner menu is amazing and definitely very affordable. It has to be one of my favourite restaurants in town.