Weekend Dining - June 28th and 29th
I have two visitors from out of town [my mother and her husband] and I am looking for two suitable restaurants for dinner on June 28th and 29th. Here are the parameters that I am working with:
- they are quite non-adventurous/meat and potato type eaters - my mum tends to go for chicken/pasta and her husband goes for seafood/fish - neither one really cares for red meat or pork
- they always say they want to try something new/different [they are from a small town with limited dining options], but then always proceed to pick the dullest thing on any menu
- a restaurant that only has spicy food would be a no-go [some spicy, some not would be fine]
- they love Milestones and places like that - I do not like chain restaurants and I am not eager to spend money at one
- I am looking for inexpensive or moderately priced restaurants [bill for two people totalling less than $100 please]
- places that are not too loud and bright, but also not too quiet and romantic/dark [if this exists]
- for Saturday something a bit nicer, for Sunday something more casual
- must be near a TTC stop [streetcar, subway, bus okay] and either downtown or Annex [they are staying @ the Sheraton on Queen and we will be going to a baseball game on the Sunday afternoon - so near those two locations would be great, but not necessary]
They have been visiting us for a few years and I am officially out of ideas for them. I turn to you noble Chowhounders for some new ideas. Please help or I may end up eating @ The Old Spaghetti Factory or something equally horrific.
I just thought I would post and let everyone know what restaurants I decided on and how everything went. I kinda went my own way - but that doesn't mean that I don't love all of the tips and ideas!
For Saturday evening I made three reservations and then let my visitors choose based upon the name and a very brief description of the restaurant. They chose Southern Accent. I know that reviews/opinions of this place are mixed [to say the least], but I really enjoy it. The service was really good [which is saying something as my mum's husband is quite a handful] - which is almost more important to me than the food. The food got good reviews from everyone - but I've seen all the dishes before so it wasn't really a surprise. My mum's husband ordered the blackened chicken livers, but didn't like them [he doesn't like liver and does this sort of thing all the time - orders food he knows he doesn't like and then complains]. However, my partner [who does not like liver] thought they were really good. The desserts were especially good - very homey [made in house] - I had the strawberry-rhubard custard pie - delicious.
On Sunday after the baseball game we took a walk around the harbourfront area and ended up @ Il Fornello [the one in Queen's Quay Terminal]. I chose Il Fornello because I didn't like the looks of any of the other places and it seemed to have the best atmosphere [right on the water, but not crawling with kids]. It was quite busy and the service was less than stellar, but still polite and not too slow. I wasn't very hungry and only ordered pasta - everyone else had pizzas. The pizzas all looked much better than my sad pasta. The pasta was an agnolotti in a spicy tomato cream sauce and while it was mildly spicy - it was spiced with jalapenos - which I am allergic to. I suppose I should have asked, but I didn't think that an Italian restaurant would use jalapenos...so I went away a bit hungry. Also, I found a couple of stray bits of fettucine in my pasta dish - that sort of thing always grosses me out [I dunno why].
However, my visitors enjoyed themselves. They are not foodies @ all though so their standards are pretty low so long as the food is generic enough while @ the same time pretending to be interesting [I think this is the slogan for Milestone's, no?].
Thanks for the suggestion. I guess I should have clarified my personal preferences as well as my visitors! My preferences being that I do not like tapas [what can I say - I'm an only child - I don't like to share!] and while I am 95% vegetarian - I do eat fish/seafood [usually in the form of sushi] the other 5% of the time.
Thanks for your responses.
As far as "adventurous" dining - that's kinda the catch - they always want to try something adventurous...not like a theme restaurant but when I tell them where we are going they say "what kind of restaurant is it?' - so if it's just a regular restaurant they tend to be disappointed. However, from experience I know that they are not adventurous eaters [my mum is moreso - she has tried Japanese and was so-so on it and likes Indian food]. So, perhaps I should have said that I'm looking for "interesting" restaurants - either something that is visually interesting or serves interesting food [along with some standards]. This is why they are tough!
Agreed that anything near SkyDome is a wasteland - I've lived in Toronto for almost 11 years and I can't think of anything worthwhile down there. I mentioned the Annex because I eat there a lot and I'm always wondering if I'm missing out on anything...[I've never been to any of the restaurants listed aside from Queen Mother, so now I'm interested].
Grungey is definitely okay. Honestly, I think something non-parent friendly would be best, honestly. When I take them to things that are more upscale or just "regular restaurants" they either feel out of place or bored. They aren't uptight people - the main reason I want something with moderate volume is because I don't see my mum often and we will want to talk and linger over dinner...however her husband has a very loud tone of voice [and poor hearing] so I don't want people to stare if he's being a bit loud.
Since they love seafood - are there any reasonably priced seafood/fish places around? Any that I can think of are quite expensive.
Ditto for Pizza Rustica -- it may do the trick for your party if you want plates that are tasty but not over the top or too 'ethnic.'
Queen Mum I like very much, but maybe heavy on the flavour.
Not that I've been in a long time, but while you're on Queen west, perhaps Peter Pan?
Actually, ethnic is fine. Spicy stuff like Indian or Mexican might not work [I'm allergic to jalapenos anyway], but anything else would be fine.
I've actually taken my mum to the Queen Mother before - she seemed to like it. However, I have the worst luck there. I've had stuff spilled on me [with no concern from the waitstaff]...I've been served non-vegetarian stuff twice in the same meal. And generally I find their vegetarian food to be totally uninspired. However, everyone I take there seems to get exactly what they want.
I've never been to Peter Pan - but I know that it's quite popular.
Messis is a very nice spot in the Annex (on Harbord, actually). The menu is a little-bit-of-everything, and tends to be well-executed. Not too trendy, but not too staid or chain-like. Should be within budget. Gorgeous side-patio. Attentive service. I think it's pretty parent-friendly.
It might be too grunge-y (depending on your parents), but my dad actually loves going to the Rex. It's roadhouse type food (passable, not great) and he always gets a kick from watching the jazz performers and the "Toronto" crowd. Might be OK for wings/burgers after the game (and near the hotel).
Would they go for the Queen Mother... or is the Thai-ish menu too weird?
If it comes down to it, recall that there is a Milestones near the Scotiabank theatre at Queen and John (between hotel and Rogers' centre).
May I suggest Fieramosca for your Annex destination? Non-adventurous Italian, but still quite nice and fairly priced. If reserving, I suggest the main floor back room for somewhat quiet, but not dull or one of the upstairs room if more quiet is desired. They have a patio out back as well. Near both the Bay and St George subway stops.
I hesitate to recommend anything near the Rogers Centre if that's where they're going. A vast wasteland, that neighbourhood.
Well within your budget, but outside your dining radius is Weezie's. French bistro style food made with loving care by Constance. While the setting is romantic, it isn't umcomfortably so. When oh when will they get a website?