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Visiting Toronto and Trying to Find the Best Eats

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I'm visiting Toronto for the first time soon and I've read through many of the threads here for resto suggestions - thank you for posting all your reviews and thoughts. I'm still trying to decide where to eat for lunch and supper during the trip, so any thoughts would be helpful.

I've booked a reservation for Grace - so excited about that.

I was considering Splendido but heard it wasn't as good as it's cracked up to be. The menu looks expensive and not that "unique". Any thoughts?

North 44 - what's the scoop? It seems it's well known but I haven't heard glowing reviews about it. The menu seems decently priced (for an upscale place). I was considering the beef two ways or duckling three ways. If anyone has tried either of those, would be great to hear about it.

I'm definitely visiting the Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar. The glowing reviews are convincing enough.

Also considering Lucien, Senses, and a few others.

Location is too much of an issue. Price point isn't too much of an issue either as I'll figure that out when I sift through the options. I'm looking for a variety of places - upscale and also reasonable priced but unique (from a visitor's perspective) and excellent. Anywhere from $20-$70 per person (not including wine). I'm looking for fresh, unique food that you just couldn't find elsewhere.

Would love to hear from everyone! Thanks so much!

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  1. Not sure where you are coming from, but I don't think Splendido, North 44, JKWB, Senses, Lucien is unique, these kind of restaurants are quite common in North America or any where in the world in the mid to high-end dining section. The food at North 44 is quite good, it is just another high end fine dining restaurant in Toronto. If you are talking about just service, the refined service of Splendido is quite unique in Toronto. If you want something unique and great in Toronto area, try the dim sum at Lai Wah Heen and the kaiseki at Hashimoto.

    1. Welcome (in advance) to Toronto! I hope you have a great visit

      For a high end meal,very good food, great atmosphere and service - Scaramouche any day over North 44. The food was beautifully presented, flavourful, and the service was great

      I was not impressed by North 44 - I found the food bland, not memorable, the service came with a bit of an attitude and I felt like I had been time warped back about 20 years with the decor. Mind you, I feel that way about the food at all of Mark McEwan's restaurants (One and Bymark)

      Other places if you like steak, Harbour 60 is fantastic. The food/steaks are not really more expensive than other high end steak places, but the meat is very tender, very flavourful and I personally reallylike the grilled peppers as a side. Also, the complimentary bread, olives, cheese and hot peppers plate they offer is wonderful. Beware the wine list at Harbour 60 - it is possible to completely break the bank, and that will be what drives your bill. Harbour 60 will likely be closer to $80-100pp (depending on the steak and sides) rather than the $70 upper end

      Another new-ish place in Toronto is Colborne Lane - he food is pretty good - it is done in the "molecular gastronomy" style. Small sharing style plates. Nice room/atmosphere. It's been about 6 or 8 months since I've been, but the food (particularly the steak) was good

      Alos, I completely agree with Skyline's Lai Wah Heen recommendation - incredible dim sum

      Have fun

      2 Replies
      1. re: mac n cheeze

        I would put Scaramouche at the top of your list.

        1. re: mac n cheeze

          Gotta say I disagree with mac n cheeze about North 44 v. Scaramouche. They're both fabulous and Scaramouche definitely beats North 44 in the atmosphere/view department. However, in my experience the food at North 44 is phenomenal and I also found the service to be impeccable (and without atttitude). For some reason, North 44 gets mentioned infrequently on Chowhound but, IMHO, it's right at/near the top of the list of Toronto's best restaurants. I'm not trying to dissuade you from going to Scaramouche, which is also great and which has a terrific view of the city (especially nice from a tourist's perspective), but I think North 44 is also a great option.

          Unfortunately, not having been, I can't comment on Splendido (though I think the negative reviews of it on this board are few and far between). Another restaurant which I haven't personally visited but have heard great things about is Perigee, in the Distillery District (a historic area in the east end of downtown, which is definitely worth a visit while you're here). However, I heard that they recently changed chefs, so perhaps you may want to hear from people who've been there lately.

        2. The place I always recommend to visitors and locals alike is The Rebel House.
          It's a quaint little pub located on Yonge St (Main St) just north of Bloor St.
          It's high on local micro brews and the food is first rate.

          http://www.rebelhouse.ca/

          If you're subwaying it, it's right across the street from the Rosedale subway station.

          We also really like Starfish for seafood and especially a wide selection of oysters shucked by a world oyster shucking champion.

          http://www.starfishoysterbed.com/

          DT

          1. I've been lucky to dine Senses recently, as well as Lai Wah Heen and Splendido. I would definitely agree with SkylineR33's comment - in terms of 'unique' Torontonian experiences, I would recommend Lai Wah Heen for dim sum and would recommend you try out the chef's special dishes rather than the classic dim sum.

            As for Splendido, it sounds like you've looked at the menu. The food is expensive, and what you read from the menu is exactly what you get - without any embellishment at all, really. Simple, great ingredients, and not so exciting, in my opinion. I would recommend Susur but at $140 per person, it is pretty far beyond your estimated price range.

            JK Wine Bar is great, and so is Scaramouche, for a classic, decadent and delicious meal.

            1. Wow, thanks so much skylineR33, mac n cheeze, millygirl, torontofoodiegirl, Davwud, and Yum2MyTum! I really appreciate all your thoughts and suggestions. And thank you for the pre-welcome to your city!

              It's been hard picking where to eat, only because I'm weird in that I'm adverse to seafood, which I'm sure is so well done at most of the places in TO. And I'm not so much into ethnic food (even though I myself am Asian, I prefer more North American tastes being born here - haha). I'm coming from a city that isn't very foodie-caliber so I think anything in TO will be unique from my perspective. Stuff like foie gras and roasted bone marrow rarely gets served here and not very well.

              I wouldn't mind trying a top of the list French restaurant. And a place with the best desserts.

              I checked out the Scaramouche menus and I think the Grill menu would be most appealing to me. If I head there, I'm considering these choices. Has anyone tried them?

              Half Chicken, Roasted with Lemon and Rosemary
              Grilled Lamb Leg
              Fresh Ravioli
              Crispy Duck Spring Rolls

              As for North 44, thanks for your thoughts. I was a bit concerned it might be a bit "aged" and traditional, if that makes sense. We have a very upscale restaurant here in town that is very high end but also, formal (i.e. baby grand piano, etc.) but the food is indeed good. I suppose what might have appealed to me on the North 44 menu is the Duckling Three Ways. Anyone tried that dish?

              I do enjoy a fabulous steak so thanks for the suggestion. I'm not worried about the wine prices as I am a non imbiber so all that extra cash will be going towards the meal!

              I also considered Colbourne Lane as I am itching to try a molecular gastronomy style restaurant. But I wasn't so sure about the Asian influences (I don't like my people's food haha), but the Beef tenderloin + slow & soft poached egg + chorizo + fondant potato + smoked salt + steak sauce jelly + Yukon gold potato puree does sound really good. Is that what you had, mac n cheeze?

              Thanks for the recommendation on The Rebel. I checked out their menu and I think I like it! I will definitely try to stop by at lunch. It seems reasonably priced too and first rate food.

              Susur will be closed when I arrive, which sucks but I couldn't take advantage of the menu anyway since I'm not a seafood eater. But I really wish I could have gone nonetheless.

              I've heard nothing but great reviews from Splendido on Chowhound, so it was on my list. The only thing deterring me is someone I know told me it's basically a place to blow money if you have an expense account or want to impress people. I looked at their menu and it looks good but nothing exciting. I'd probably get Charcoal Grilled Naturally Raised Beef Tenderloin; Roasted Bone Marrow, Thyme Jus, if I were to get anything there.

              I think I will definitely try to make it to Senses. Their menu looked really good. Has anyone tried the Kobe burger? I've always wanted to try Kobe beef but not sure it will be worth it to try in burger form. But I suppose the cost is much more reasonable!

              Thanks so much Torontonians! I am so excited for the visit and foodie tour!

              PS. This is a really stupid question but what is the tipping ettiquette usually? I'm on a limited budget but don't want to cause any faux pas.

              11 Replies
              1. re: freelancer

                If/when you go to TRH, try the sausage of the sausage of the day. It's been a home run every time we've been there.

                DT

                1. re: freelancer

                  Two other favorite spots of ours are Mistura and Pastis Express. Mistura is italian and Pastis is french bistro. We are frequent at both and have never been disappointed. Both have a really nice atmosphere and service is excellent.

                  BTW, Scaramouche does the best steak frite in the city and they are known for their cococonut cream pie. It truly is to die for. I've tried the duck rolls and they are excellent.

                  I should mention our fav lunch spot is Caffe Doria, great panninis, thin crust pizza, soup and salads in the Yonge and Summerhill area which is fun to walk around in. Close by is a strip of 5 gourmet food shops (butcher, cheese and oils, bakery, fruit market Harvest Wagon). They have a wonderful stuff and very pricey, but a must to check out. Regulars refer to them as The Five Thieves.

                  Enjoy your visit and let us know where you end up.

                  1. re: millygirl

                    Ooh, thanks for the Pastis recommendation! And for the tip on the Steak frite and coconut cream pie at Scaramouche. It's always good to hear when someone has tried something! Boy, now I will really have a hard time picking the spots. I am only there for 5 days (and only planning on eating well on 4 of those nights as one of my days is too busy). I might have to knock out North 44 for Scaramouche now! And do other places that are open, for lunch. Caffe Doria sounds so lovely.

                    I'll definitely let you all know when I finalize my list and of course, my report when I'm back and my clothes are too tight. Ha ha!

                    1. re: millygirl

                      At Scaramouche, I would also recommend the coconut creme pie; also, I had an amazing dish involving scallops, and the chef sure knows his way around game meats.

                      Senses is fun and the chef is a charmer; I would recommend the truffle pasta, definitely (a dish the chef invented while at Truffles at the Four Seasons, so I understand).

                      air621's suggestion of tipping 15% - 20% in a fine dining establishment sounds about right.

                      Enjoy your trip, freelancer! And make sure you let us know how it all turned out.

                      1. re: Yum2MyTum

                        Thanks Yum2MyTum! Ok, you've both sold me - I promise to get the Coconut Cream Pie if I head to Scaramouche! It sounds delicious. I appreciate the truffle pasta recommendation as well. I was eyeing that and the Kobe burger. Mmmmm.

                        I can't wait to visit. It's going to be a blast. I'll just have to make sure I don't overeat and indulge too much or I will be too sick to shop. Ha ha. If only I could train my body for all the delights that will come!

                    2. re: freelancer

                      I have had good food and reasonably priced at Matigon on St. Nicolas Street (North of Wellesley, West of Yonge).

                      1. re: freelancer

                        regarding tipping, Torontonians tend to be generous tippers. If the meal is average but the service is good, definitely a 15% tip. If both the food and the service is good, 20% easily. If the service and food are shite, no tip is fine. But it's been a very long time since I felt this necessary.

                        1. re: air621

                          I agree. I note that there is some debate over whether to tip on the before- or after-tax total; personally, I think the tip should be on the after-tax.

                          1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                            Miss Manners always used to say pre-tax for the tip, since you did not order the tax. Lately the Toronto Star seems to be saying post tax for the tip but the columnist is getting some flac for that.

                        2. re: freelancer

                          Try to hit the Rebel House on a sunny day; they have a lovely patio out back.

                          1. re: freelancer

                            Colbourne Lane was just panned a week ago in the Globe and Mail, i think. review was quite negative. said they do some things well, but some things are so excessive and service was bad.

                          2. Thanks for the help on the standard tipping practices! I'm sure the service will be first rate, especially at some of these places I'm considering going to.

                            So this is a stupid question, but what's the deal with the JK Wine Bar? Is a glass of wine served with each dish (and included in the price)? I was stoked to go but I don't drink so it'd be a waste, no?

                            29 Replies
                            1. re: freelancer

                              Wine isn't included in the price, though you can match wines to each dish if you choose. If you don't drink, you'll definitely get out there with a much more reasonable bill. You should definitely pay JKWB a visit while you're here, particularly given the type of food you like.

                              1. re: freelancer

                                Re: JKWB... no, wine is not served with the dish. What you're probably seeing (I'm guessing you got this idea from how the menu is printed) is what the sommelier has recommended to pair with each of the dishes. JKWB would be absolutely fine if you'd rather not imbibe. I love JKWB, but I'm always afraid that we talk it up too much around here, leaving it prone to disappoint. I think it's a great spot. I hope you like it as much as I do.

                                A couple of other thoughts...

                                Colborne Lane is a really fun way to eat. And I don't think there is too much seafood on the menu. We visited with my sister who is quite anti-seafood, and we did very well. The aforementioned "steak and eggs" were among the faves at our table, and the squab and foie gras with vanilla french toast was really fun too despite sounding completely bizarre.

                                I don't think Toronto has a truly excellent top-notch French resto, but I think we have some really good middling sorts of spots. Le Select would be a lovely place for lunch (on the patio) or Jacques Bistro du Parc is quite authentic. I haven't been to Pastis, but I keep meaning to give it a try (maybe it would change my mind on the status of French restos in Toronto?).

                                I like the Rebel House too but part of the reason I go is for the beer, and if you're not into drinking pints I'm not sure that I'd recommend it as a destination. It's definitely tasty pub food and a cut above average, plus a bit Canadian-ish, which is cool.. but perhaps not that special?

                                You'll see mixed reviews around here, but I'm one of those people who thinks Terroni is great for casual lunch.

                                Someone else mentioned Perigee, which has been getting really great reviews in the papers lately (in support of the new chef). I've never been myself, by I'd (selfishly) love a review.

                                Looking forward to hearing about your trip, and hope you do enjoy our city!

                                1. re: Rabbit

                                  torontofoodiegirl and Rabbit - thanks so much for clearing that up for me. I thought the wine suggestions on the menu were just that. But then I read this review which implied they were definitely served with the dish. Weird. I'm glad to know that's not the case! I'm definitely going to JKWB. Do you recommend it as a lunch or dinner spot?

                                  Thank you again for all the wonderful suggestions and the time and thought you all put into helping me out on my foodie tour! I'll look into all those places, Rabbit - wow! Thanks! And I might hit Rebel House for lunch - not too special but kind of different, which would be great for noon. I heard from a colleague that Terroni is really great as well.

                                  I'm just overwhelmed by how wonderful all you CHers are! Thank you so so much! I know I will love your city!

                                  And another silly question - I doubt these places will serve heaping amounts of food but in the event I don't finish something, is it in poor taste to ask for food to be packed up? Sure isn't here but I imagine everything is different in TO! I just hate wasting food. Especially when it's upscale!

                                  1. re: freelancer

                                    I wouldn't worry about that. I never seem to have that problem but I've noticed that at some of the upscale restaurants they've designed special bags for leftovers. I would think they would be flattered to see it being taken home to enjoy rather than thrown out.

                                    I'm excited for you. Sounds like you'll have a great time. You remind me of me when we go to Montreal. I have lists of restaurants and shopping to check out and wonder how I will get to everything. Of course I never do, which is good too because it gives me an excuse to return. LOL!!

                                    1. re: millygirl

                                      Thanks Millygirl and torontofoodiegirl! So glad to not have to worry about taking leftovers home. I'd hate to waste food and I'd probably end up eating it maybe later at night away. Not sure if my hotels will have a fridge or microwave but thought I'd check just in case.

                                      I'm excited as well and it's so nice to see you all so excited for me! This board rocks. It is so sweet of everyone. This is my first visit and I wasn't going to do it at first because the flight alone is at least $800. But there was a seat sale that was half the cost (not as good as the $39 seat sale a month ago) but I decided to do it. The reason I'm visiting your fine city is for a concert gig actually, so it's a bit crazy but will be so fun.

                                      I'm like you when I travel too - a list of places to eat and shop but of course, it really gets done! I decided I will probably not come close to seeing everything in Toronto and somehow I will have to be ok with that! 5 days is more than enough to see and experience the city. And as you said, I'll have just to find an excuse to return!! Might take a few years but I think I'll fall in love with the city!!

                                    2. re: freelancer

                                      I haven't been to JKWB for lunch, so can't really assist other than to say it's definitely great for dinner! And no, I wouldn't worry about asking to take leftovers home with you.

                                      1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                                        Dinner it is! I must must book a reservation! Thank you!

                                        1. re: freelancer

                                          Hey freelancer, if I'm not mistaken JKWB is the one restaurant that doesn't take reservations. Pretty much all others do and it is a necessity.

                                          1. re: millygirl

                                            It takes a few reservations for dinner, but not many, I believe. They do take reservations for lunch. But freelancer, just go when you're ready, and they will take your name and cell number. You can wander around the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood or grab a drink nearby, and JKWB will call you when your seat/table is ready.

                                            1. re: millygirl

                                              Hey millygirl and TorontoJo - thanks for the info on JKWB. I've already booked a table for Grace and North 44 (which I might cancel). I haven't booked for Scaramouche, Lucien or JKWB yet. Or any of the other options. So hard to decide and so little time to eat!

                                              1. re: freelancer

                                                Don't skip Scaramouche. It's one of those rare places that the Hounds and the press agree on. Definite winner.

                                                Now I have to know what concert is worth the trip from, I'm guessing, the Prairies?

                                                1. re: freelancer

                                                  Skip North 44 and book Scaramouche. They will be leaving their present location next year, so you won't have another opportunity to try it and get the beautiful view of the city.

                                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                                    I think I'll heed your advice. Foie gras sounded cool but there is not enough eating time! Looks like it will be Grace, Lucien (maybe), Scaramouche, and JKWB for dinner. Unless I trade off Lucien for North 44. We'll see. Scaramouche is a definite, thanks to everyone's suggestions.

                                                    1. re: freelancer

                                                      So I've booked my reservation for Scaramouche. I think I might have booked incorrectly though. I was planning on having something from the Grill menu but the reservation I made online was for the Dining Room. Is the view only from the Dining Room? What oh what I have I done.

                                                      1. re: freelancer

                                                        You won't be disappointed with the dining room menu.

                                                        If, however, you feel that you would prefer the Grill, I am sure you can call back and change the reservation

                                                        1. re: freelancer

                                                          I believe the pasta bar/grill has a view too, it's just more casual than the dining room.

                                                          1. re: freelancer

                                                            Hey freelancer, the 2 restaurants are contained within one huge room so no worries with the view. You are pretty much guaranteed a good view no matter where you sit but the dining room side does have more windows. The menu is different on each side with the grill being slightly less expensive and a bit more casual feel to it. So if you want something from the grill menu, I suggest you change your reservation. Having said that, I don't think the grill takes reservations after 6:30. We went the other week and had no problem getting in around 7 p.m. after a drink at the lovely little bar.

                                                            1. re: millygirl

                                                              In my experience, the Grill should take reservations at any time (was going just about once a week for a while there... gulp), but that may have changed now that they're on Open Table. I'd recommend a call to check; they can be really busy and we've been turned away as walk-ins before.

                                                              1. re: Minnow

                                                                mac n cheeze, JamieK, millygirl, Minnow - thanks for clearing up the Scaramouche confusion for me. While I prefer the Grill menu, I'll listen to the feedback and try out the Dining Room menu. I'm sure it will be good; I'm just not sure unique but sometimes the most amazing food is the simplest but hits the spot all the same. I think that is my favorite type, in the end!

                                                                So are there any recommendations off the Dining Room menu? I was eyeing the lamb, rabbit, veal rib eye and filet mignon. Anything that isn't seafood basically ;-) I'm not sure if I'll get an appetizer (the foie gras terrine sounds interesting though), as I want to save room for the coconut cream pie (and maybe a second dessert!).

                                                                1. re: freelancer

                                                                  I can't help there, I usually order the fish or lobster in the DR but you can't go wrong with any of them. The food is cooked to perfection. Just go with whatever you feel like having that night. Honestly, there are no losers in this restaurant. Having said that, Mr. Millygirl would stear you towards the filet mignon. One more thing, they are very good about sharing. Last time I was there I can't tell you how many orders of coconut cream pie I saw go by divided up in to 2 plates. Same with the apps, we each ordered an app, but then wanted to try the calamari. It arrived nicely split between 2 plates, both with the same garnishes, etc. Very professional, and classy.

                                                                  1. re: freelancer

                                                                    As Millygirl says, you can't go wrong. I am partial to the lamb myself. Try to enjoy your meal and the atmosphere and enjoy the experience

                                                            2. re: freelancer

                                                              Just to complicate things... wondering why you chose Lucien over Colborne Lane? Their approaches to food are similar (as are the price points), but in execution and with respect to service, I'd definitely suggest CL.

                                                              I do have lengthy reviews of both (with some pics) on my blog.
                                                              Lucien - http://www.rabbitreporting.com/restau...
                                                              Colborne - http://www.rabbitreporting.com/restau...

                                                              Otherwise, I think you're nicely set up for four days of excellent eating. Can't wait to hear the reports!

                                                              1. re: Rabbit

                                                                Ah, Rabbit, you have definitely complicated things ;-) But thank you for the lovely links. I initially chose Lucien for the "organic 'fried' hen" and I couldn't find anything that I was adventurous to try at Colborne Lane (I wasn't sure if they are all asian inspired dishes). I read your review of Lucien before deciding and I thought the dishes looked weird and the desserts didn't really appeal to me. But upon reading your CL review, I suppose I could do the "steak and eggs" or the Squab dish with foie gras. Never tried squab or foie gras before and your photos looked REALLY good.

                                                                Has anyone tried the Lucien's organic fried hen? And if so, how was it? I might switch over to CL now. Ah, so hard to make decisions!

                                                  2. re: freelancer

                                                    Hey freelancer: You mentioned that it's in poor taste to pack leftovers where you are coming from....where is that?...I checked your profile and posts but it's not indicated that I could see...just curious. Thx.

                                                    1. re: T Long

                                                      freelancer was actually saying the opposite -- that it isn't in poor taste to take leftovers wherever home is

                                                      1. re: JamieK

                                                        My bad...so wherever freelancer is from, Toronto will not seem so strange;)

                                                        1. re: T Long

                                                          I suspect our enthusiastic visitor is from Western Canada, so who knows -- Toronto may be strange after all! Although music is a great universal and common denominator.

                                                          Fodder for another thread perhaps, but really, is there any place in Toronto where one would feel ucomfortable taking home the leftovers? (I don't usually eat at high-end places). Sometimes when I'm really enjoying a meal and know I'm getting full (and want to save room for the cheese plate or perhaps dessert), I actually slow down so that there's more to take home to savour the next day.

                                                          1. re: JamieK

                                                            Thanks JamieK for clearing that up! T Long, I'm from the Prairies aka Western Canada as JamieK guessed (SK specifically) and there aren't many upscale places here but I'd still pack things up even if they were. I just wanted to make sure I didn't look like a putz while I was out and about in Toronto ;-) I'm very excited to visit your fine city!

                                                            And like you said, it's all about saving room for dessert. I used to have the skill to out-eat a large Australian male (this is a skill that I like to advertise although it probably doesn't look good on my part ;-)), but those were the good old days. Now for health's sake, I try not to test my limits. But it will be tough on this trip!

                                                            1. re: JamieK

                                                              Just had to mention - Toronto won't be strange as much as it will be cooler ;-) And words so well spoken re: music.

                                                2. seems you've made your choices, but if you like simple food (as opposed to ethnic) i've never had a bad meal at Quince.

                                                  want to try French? I've heard amazing things about Simple and Coquine, particularly the steak frites at the later.

                                                  check the links for all - they are not as pricey, all located uptown, but i think they're unique and worth the trip.

                                                  -----
                                                  Quince
                                                  2110 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A5, CA

                                                  Simple Bistro
                                                  619 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

                                                  Coquine
                                                  2075 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A4, CA

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: LemonLauren

                                                    Thanks LemonLauren! Please keep the suggestions coming as I haven't planned out lunches at all. All these sites look wonderful. Thanks so so much!

                                                    I'll try to take photos of my meals too. I'm assuming from all the great photos I've seen here, that it's not unusual. I won't use a flash though - I hate it when I'm dining somewhere and flashes are going off (not photos of food but people). I want to commemorate the foodie tour in Toronto!

                                                    1. re: LemonLauren

                                                      Quince is good but what is unique about it?

                                                      Simple Bistro was okay but in my mind nothing special and certainly not someplace I would send a visitor to. The food was alright but nothing special and at least the night I went, the atmosphere was pretty lacking, at least for us.

                                                      Can't comment on Coquine but have heard good things mentioned on the board.

                                                      p.s. Freelancer, please keep in mind Caffe Doria for a lunch. The pizza is much better there than Terrone's. If the weather is nice, Caffe Doria has a great patio also. In fact if you go to the Yonge and Summerhill area, both restaurants are within walking distance and it's a great area to shop in. You could walk to both and then decide which one you would prefer. And did I mention the shopping :)

                                                      1. re: millygirl

                                                        Thank you for reminding me about Caffe Doria. I have this whole thread printed and will highlight everything before I miss it and try to finalize some reservations tomorrow. I did some googling on Caffe Doria and I saw a glass of Mango Puree in one of the photos. That sold me. Mango anything is my weakness and you would not believe how something so simple as Mango Puree beverage would not be found here easily. Bah. Anyway, you also sold me on the shopping part. ;-)

                                                        On that note, for lunches, any great lunch places specifically in the Yorkville-Bloor area and also Queen West St. / West Queen West (other than those already mentioned). I suppose I will have to eat sometime during the shopping! LOL!

                                                        1. re: freelancer

                                                          Now that you ask, if you like omelets and quiche I recommend Jacques Bistro du Parc in Yorkville. It is a small little restaurant, very french feel, husband and wife have been running it for over 25 years. Very, very quaint. And they make the best omelets in the city, great salad nicoise too, excellent coffee, and a homemade lemon tart to die for. It's on the 2nd floor and great for people watching. I had wanted to mention this spot earlier but felt I was monopolizing. I'm so glad you asked!

                                                          Too bad Caffe Doria doesn't have a website. But once you go you'll see that she doesn't really need one.

                                                          1. re: freelancer

                                                            If you feel the need to nosh near The Horseshoe, The Rivoli is a fun place and only a few steps east of the 'Shoe. Not to be part of your gastronomic tour of Toronto to be sure, but a handy and fun place to eat, drink, people watch (patio), shoot pool, plus they have either bands or comics in the back room nightly.
                                                            http://www.rivoli.ca/

                                                      2. Grace was spectacular! Service was professional although I did wait 20 mins for a water refill.

                                                        JKWB was great as well.

                                                        Off to Scaramouche. I had reservations for Splendido but I cancelled though - I still don't know where to go for the rest of the week. I think Splendido would be great but not very exciting?

                                                        Cafe Doria ROCKED! That was the best chicken panini I've ever had. I didn't see their pizza on the menu but I saw it ordered and I wish I had gotten it too :(

                                                        Skipped lunch today. I'll try to hit up Senses this week though.

                                                        If anyone has final thoughts on the big dinner recommendation, please chime in. I am so undecided!

                                                        Thanks for helping making the food tour rock. Photos are taken so will report fully later!

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: freelancer

                                                          I finally went to Splendido with the SO a couple of weeks ago and had the tasting menu. I was very, very excited to try it after everything I'd read on this board. In the end, I was disappointed....

                                                          I won't even tell you how much we spent, because it was an obscene amount, and I'm trying to forget it (shudder) but suffice it to say, it was a lot. However, I note that we really went all out; you could definitely get out of there for less than we spent (but it would still cost a lot).

                                                          By no means am I suggesting that Splendido was bad. On the contrary, it was very good, well-executed food, with attentive (though, IMHO, not especially genuine/sincere) service. However, it just didn't wow me; in fact, two weeks later, I can't even remember a lot of the courses. For the amount of money we spent, I expected to be wowed. A lot.

                                                          Next time I want to drop a lot of money on a meal, I'll be heading to North 44 or Scaramouche (and I note that I will be spending a lot less money there than I did at Splendido). I know there are a lot of others on this board who will disagree with me, but that's just my two-cents.

                                                          1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                                                            Hey freelancer, thanks for the update AND welcometo T.O!!! So glad to hear you liked Cafe Doria. I figured you would, and yes the pizza is spectacular. Oh well, next time for that.

                                                            Have you considered Mistura for dinner? Another one of our fav spots. The food and service are spectacular. Go online and check out the menu. Sorry I still don't know how to attach a link. If you go, you must order the beet risotto and lamb ribs appetizer. TO DIE FOR, trust me. In fact, Massimo won an award for the beet risotto!!!

                                                            Enjoy your dinner at Scaramouche. You are in for a real treat!!

                                                            1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                                                              torontofoodiegirl, your review sounds almost exactly like mine:

                                                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/518924

                                                              I completely agree with you.

                                                            2. re: freelancer

                                                              Hi freelancer - I've been enjoying the read on your enthusiastic thread. In the end, you sifted through the many rec's and chose a few of my favourite places - JKWB, Caffe Doria and Scaramouche. I also posted a favourable review from my dinner at Grace last week. So I'm thinking we have similar taste in places and thought I'd try and help you out your last couple of rec's.

                                                              Like torontofoodiegirl, I wasn't wowed enough with Splendido to justify the cost. If I'm going to shell out that kind of $, I want to be knocked off my feet. I had a similar experience at Susur which I haven't yet had a chance to post about.

                                                              So here's what I'd say: if you want to drop some $ and go for a "big" dinner, I'd probably suggest George. If the weather is nice, they have a lovely patio out back. If you want a buzzy atmosphere with good food in a cool neighbourhood, I'd try Torito for tapas in Kensington Market. If you want to go with good food, a locals scene and a great patio, try the Peruvian restaurant Boulevard Cafe on Harbord. For Middle Eastern and friendly service, try Tabule. And though I've yet to try it, if you want something trendy in a cool space that's very of the moment, maybe try Nyood or even The Drake on Queen West West (not a stutter or a typo, just the description of the neighbourhood). And of course, there's always Terroni. I could go on with more rec's but you probably don't need to be swamped with more options. I think you'd be happy with any of these. Keep on chowing and enjoying! I'm looking forward to the full report.

                                                              1. re: freelancer

                                                                in my opinion, i would save some $$ and try something ethnic that represents the city that you cannot find in Sask.

                                                                personally, i would suggest Ethiopian (Duken on Danforth), Mexican (El Sol, also on the Danforth...amazing food) or, for a dining experience, Red Violin (on the Danforth. Brazilian meat...all you can eat, but in a good way).

                                                              2. You guys SO ROCK! I'm gong to reply in more detail later as I'm just at a computer for a short time but thank you for all the help!

                                                                Scaramouche was excellent - the view was beautiful and the food so so good. I can't say I was "wowed" as in it was exciting food but it was extremely wow in its taste, if that makes sense? I had great service there and the only thing weird was it was super loud last night as a huge group brought in their own wine! Thankfully, the server moved me and made sure I was alright. I felt much better afterwards and really enjoyed speaking to the staff. I had the lamb and coconut cream pie. Mmmmm!

                                                                So I'm looking for a quick lunch today and am not sure where to go yet. We'll see. Maybe Cafe Doria again! I need something light for tonight as it's the night of the show and I want to be focused! So many things to worry about.

                                                                I still haven't made a decision for the next dinner spot yet. I heard Nyood is really good (for the most part) and I heard good things about Colborne Lane from here but some others I've run into as well. Lucien, I heard was so so from a local here.

                                                                What about Canoe? the guys at Scaramouche raved about it.

                                                                Off to do more exploring! Thanks a million! I will be sure to take more photos of the food, although I got so excited to have the creme brulee at JKWB that I finished it off before realizing I hadn't snapped a photo. Bah!

                                                                Side note - so far, have been averaging a good $70 per night, without wine. Yikes! LOL!

                                                                Side Note 2 - the cupcake hunt came up a bit short. Tried the ones at Dessert Lady but was unimpressed. Dufflets are beautiful but the cake was a bit dense. I went with an order there anyway as they are huge and pretty. But man, the cupcake taste test was rough!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: freelancer

                                                                  Hey freelancer - if you haven't grabbed your lunch yet and in your in the Doria neighbourhood, go one block south on the other side of Yonge Street to Black Camel - fantastic sandwiches, especially the brisket. They're a decent size but you'll be empty enough again to enjoy your dins this evening.

                                                                  1. re: peppermint pate

                                                                    i second Black Camel. mmmm the roast beef

                                                                2. I didn't get a chance to eat lunch today. Or supper. So I missed the Rivoli. I ate some like four fries from the Horseshoe. Yeah. And I'm on such adrenaline that I'm not even hungry. Weird. I'll think hard on where to eat my face off tomorrow - maybe Black Camel for lunch and Senses for dinner?!

                                                                  1. Hello ALL!!!!!

                                                                    First off, I would really like to thank everyone here for contributing to making my Toronto experience the best experience EVER! And I'm so happy that this thread didn't annoy people but rather was enjoyed by many! Sometimes enthusiasm can be a bit much but I was just so excited to visit.

                                                                    So here's the breakdown:

                                                                    Day 1 - Dinner @ Grace
                                                                    Gnocchi
                                                                    Beef Shortribs
                                                                    Lemon Tart

                                                                    Service was professional but not very friendly (which I prefer); the hostess/manager remembered taking my reservation weeks ago and was very nice to me. B/c my reservation was for one and later in the evening, she remembered talking to me and even that I was in town for a concert. So that was really nice. I asked if I could take photos of the food and she had no problem with it.

                                                                    Starter - homemade Gnocchi was REALLY good. A bit "strong" in flavor for me but I sometimes like things bland. So I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was my first time trying Gnocchi. I thought the flavors blended well.

                                                                    Beef Shortribs - really amazing coleslaw as a side. The roast sweet potatoes were good as well but I'm not a huge fan of sweet potatoes. In any case, the shortribs were beautifully presented and the portion is quite substantial. I had trouble finishing off this dish after getting the starter but I did anyway. The coleslaw was REALLY good and was a perfect accompanment with the beef.

                                                                    Lemon tart - strong strong lemon flavor that you just had to take your time to enjoy. It was smooth, creamy and just melted in your mouth. Absolutely splendid. The ultra thin crust was hard to cut into (without picking it up to bite) but make sure you try it as it's quite good, with or without the lemon filling in it!

                                                                    Service kind of iffy - I waited 15-20 min for a water refill. The servers could use a lesson in being friendly and nice. Maybe larger tables who order wine are given more attention? If that's the case, that really is poor.

                                                                    Day 2 - Cafe Doria; Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar

                                                                    Cafe Doria - had their chicken panini, mango juice, and fresh orange juice, and a cupcake. The chicken panini was insanely good. I generally avoid paninis here b/c the bread is thick, it's never crispy and they load it up with sauces. Here the bread was super thin, crispy and the chicken was real fresh roasted chicken breast (not the deli crap), with tomatoes, lettuce, and a light sauce. I've never seen a panini here with such simple fillings which is what I loved about it. This really hit the spot.

                                                                    JKWB - Service was excellent; professional, friendly, personalized and they were always on top of refilling water and making sure everything tasted great. Got a seat at the chef's table. The chef was nice to chat with and it was fun watching him make the food.

                                                                    Starter: Chorizo poutine - excellent and I see what the fuss is about! Not a huge fan of chorizo so I didn't finish it off and was asked if I didn't like it. They use the best chorizo there is out there apparently and were concerned that I didn't eat all of it. I told them I was saving room which was true. It was good but since I'm not a huge fan of sausage, a few bites was enough for me.

                                                                    Second dish - Beef Entrecote - I usually order my beef medium well but let them prepare this medium rare and it was delicious! I finished off all of it. The flavours on this dish were lovely. The mushrooms were divine. I loved this!

                                                                    Third dish - Duck confit - I really wanted to try duck confit and while it took a while to get the skin crispy, it was worth the wait. Really amazing! i didn't love the sweet potato puree but again, that's my sweet potato thing!

                                                                    Dessert - Creme Brulee - I've had creme brulee once before and didn't care for it so haven't tried it since. But I decided to try their apparent best creme brulee in the city. It was vanilla. And it was worth the risk. It was light, creamy and hit the spot in terms of finishing off the meal.

                                                                    I was really pleased with the excellent and professional service at JKWB. They were obviously on their game and the food along with the fun atmosphere really made it happening.

                                                                    Day 3 - Skipped lunch (I had a cupcake from Dufflets), dinner at Scaramouche

                                                                    I opted not to order a starter and go straight to the main course with room for dessert. First off, I had a great view although I happened to be seated by the loudest crowd of people ever. Apparently they brought their own wine and were as drunk as hell. It was louder than the crowd at JKWB. I was not expecting that. My server was extremely professional, attentive to my needs and tuned into my needs right away. And what I appreciated was he totally was OK with me not ordering a starter or wine. And never without a slight hint of judgment or annoyance. As it should be.

                                                                    There was a nice amuse bouche to start - marinated ricotta. Really lovely and I appreciated it.

                                                                    He came back to check on me and asked if the crowd was getting quieter. I said not really. He asked if I was ok. Then suggested I move to the corner table as it cleared. I took him up on the offer and he very swiftly moved me. It was much better and I was able to relax finally! He apologized for the noise and said that normally it isn't rowdy like that there.

                                                                    Main course - lamb. Well, you guys weren't wrong - this was delicious. I thought the portion was pretty huge and I had trouble finishing it off. The flaky crust on the lamb was lovely and it was just a solid and tasty dish.

                                                                    Dessert - Coconut Cream Pie - I am not a huge fan of coconut but this was heavenly. I was already super full but I fought hard to finish this off. It was amazing. The cream was just unreal and it hit all the right senses.

                                                                    Water was always refilled promptly (important to me if you aren't drinking wine or if food is over seasoned!) and the service from my server and the other staff were second to none. I had a nice chat with one of the staff there about where to eat next and got some honest opinions from them about it and other things.

                                                                    I did feel slightly weird there though - the demographic was quite different the night I went - and almost all in couples! I felt like a sore thumb eating there alone but it didn't bother me too much. i was there for the food, first and foremost.

                                                                    Day 4 - What food? Fries from the Horseshoe!

                                                                    Day 5 - I planned on lunch at Senses but had no time. So I had a freshly squeezed juice from that place in the Eaton center. Dinner was a toss up until a last minute decision to go to Lucien. I really wanted to try that organic fried hen. Plus Solferino's was next door.

                                                                    Now, this was a really poor choice on my part. Lucien is TERRIBLE. Everything about it. The service, the food, ugh. I was so upset that I choose this as my last stop on the foodie tour. And I'll tell you why.

                                                                    I got there and the hostess who took my reservation was super nice - she gave me the best seat in the house, yada yada. Being a table for one makes it easy and everyone is excited to have you! Why, I don't know. Haha.

                                                                    The server on the other hand, was totally pompous and cold. He asked if I wanted wine and I asked for a non alcoholic drink. He wasn't nice, or welcoming even before I skipped the wine. Immediately and snootily took the wine list away. Then he asked if I had decided. I said "I'm going with the organic fried hen". He then said "Is that IT?" I said "yes, I have an early flight tomorrow" and he said "fair enough" and walked away as I was still saying "I want to keep it light".

                                                                    Dish comes out - it looks really good. Server comes back to drolly explain it and then leaves. I am excited. But it is super salty. Way way way too much salt. The creamed collards tasted awfully bitter and did not pair well with the salty chicken. The leg meat was ok but totally over seasoned. The pink breast really freaked me out (I suspected it was from being sous vided, but having have suffered from food poisoning before and having an early flight, I didn't want to risk it), so I left it until someone came back to ask me how everything was to ask about it.

                                                                    No one ever did. He walked by quite a few times, watched me eat my meal, refilled other wine glasses, etc. but never asked.

                                                                    Finally when I got some water b/c the dish was so crazy salty, I asked about it. He assured me it was fine and said he totally understood. I felt more comfortable eating it but the entire dish was so bad that I left half of my plate untouched.

                                                                    He then asked what I would like for dessert and I said I was keeping it light and skipping it. He said "fine" or something. I knew their desserts wouldn't be great thanks to Rabbit's review, so I wanted to go to Solferino's after.

                                                                    I did tip him 15% but I really shouldn't have. He seemed to know the artist I was there to see and so I felt that was his only saving factor. But I really thought it was terrible service, terrible food and I would highly recommend against it.

                                                                    Solferino was insanely amazing however; I did a triple scoop and that was the perfect way to cap off this incredible trip to Toronto!

                                                                    I'm sure I have missed a ton but please ask or comment away!

                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                    1. And more photos!

                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                      1. And the last batch!

                                                                         
                                                                         
                                                                        1. I just love it when we get great feedback like this. Thanks!

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: JamieK

                                                                            I also want to note, I would have LOVED to try everyone's suggestions but simply ran out of time! I get weird sometimes - if I am on adrenaline, and I'm somewhere far away from good food and am busy shopping, I just trudge on through. I will save the suggestions for the next time I am in the city though! Will be a long while until then but I have got it down pat now!