Best T.O. restos to take Vancouver-based chef/son.
My son is a fine dining chef in Vancouver who will be visiting Toronto/home in August. He asked me to pick one of the best and most interesting fine dining restaurants in Toronto to go to. Any suggestions?
Also, he would like to visit an interesting/innovative less expensive restaurant as well. He has eclectic tastes and is always on the lookout for great food experiences. Any advice?
My nephew is a chef in Vancouver, and when he visits Toronto he has one 'must-go' - that's Linda's (Thai above Salad king). He takes chefs there and also friends.
Mostly he sticks to 'ethnic' cuisine (I guess fine dining isn't usually that different - he used to like Susur - but of course, that option has gone). Trimurti and Rashnaa are also good.
As for 'interesting' I'd have to choose Colborne Lane (although it disappoints on subsequent visits) - but the first visit certainly qualifies as interesting.
And I'm not sure I'd bother with an all-Ontario winelist (especially if he likes BC wines).
Est, you must still be drinking through that case of Chateau Gai "Haut".
There are some mighty fine Ontario wines, and they do get better all the time.
I was in the Ogopgokanagan last year for a week, and while they make some mighty fine wines, I wouldn't generalize and say they are vastly superior, but rather comparable.
The small wineries tried very hard to differentiate themselves with some interesting results I thought, while I never bothered to buy any Mission Hill because they were as interested in selling t-shirts as wine and any money I spent probably would have been invested in architecture.
re: Scary Bill
Maybe I wasn't clear enough that I was reporting what my nephew-chef 'prefers' when he visits, rather than my own preferences.
HOWEVER, on the subject of Ontario wines, I find them very patchy and mostly not worth the money. Quality is WAY up from the Chateau Gai days - but so are prices. Under $20 I've only found a few gewurztraminers that I'd buy (sort of) - but at $16 I can also get Alsace, which are mostly more to my palate. Once over $20 then I'm looking at 'value' and there is a lot of competition.
IMO the most reliable is riesling. As a category, the late harvest rieslings are indeed excellent and usually reliable. The riesling icewines are disappointing - shot through with botrytis which (again IMO) has no place in an icewine. The dry rieslings are no match in VALUE for a German Kabinett (but these rarely crop up on restaurant winelists in Ontario, so I do choose the Charles Baker regularly, which is a fine wine - just a little heavy on the pocket).
Chardonnay is problematic - I have had some good ones (and even bought the Southbrook 2000 Triomphe at the winery recently - but at over $30, again there is stiff foreign competition).
The only other 'recent' (say in the past year) Canadian purchase was a syrah - and that is no longer being produced. I've had some palatable cabs - but again over $30.
Canadian sparklers are no bargain (although I did try the recently delisted Ice Cuvee that was worth $20 - but not the over $30 it was originally priced at).
As background, much of my tasting is done 'blind' - I'm a member of several groups where we usually do not initially reveal what we're serving. That's how I found the Syrah. But the reality is that many Canadian wines just don't perform when stacked up against similarly priced imports (despite the favourable tax treatment). I'd happily buy a good 'cheap' wine over a more expensive import - but the reality has been that the imports have, mostly, been better value.
Looking back over the past year (and a bit) the wines I've bought in quantity (other than those mentioned already) have been Alsace (2006 gewurz); Dry Australian Riesling, Australian Chardonnay (Voyager estate); Several Portuguese (mainly the Sparkling Baga from Pato) and a couple of Santa Cruz Chardonnay - only the Chardonnays have been over $20. Oh yes, one more - the Sato No Homare Sake which IMO is one of the greatest 'beverages' around.
Reds have been more circumspect - I usually buy for 'aging' - rarely buy significant quantities of anything although, again, Portugal is my value area.
Most of my 'bulk' purchases come through FWP wines consignment programme (amazing selection). My LCBO purchases are mostly from Vintages and tend to be from the Douro region, particulalry from the Touriga Nacional grape, but also from the Tinta Roriz grape (which is the same grape as the Spanish Tempranillo, which you are probably drinking anyway).
I'm surprised to read that you actually recommend Trimuti and Rashnaa to someone from Vancouver, considering the fact that Vancouver has VJ's which is arguably one of the best Indian restaurant in North America.?! I havn't try both T and R, however,coming from you they must be GOOD!
Agree with your choice of Colborne Lane
not quite food but i'd send him along to bar volo at yonge and wellesley to get in some interesting craft brew and a fine list of ontario wines. just don't eat there and you'll be fine.
the standard ethiopian fare from ethiopian house very near by could be an interesting option. it's not the best ethiopian in the city but it'll do in a pinch.
or go further south near gerrard/dundas to get a doner from house of doner and kebab (NOT little house of doner). they make their own sauces and have that perfect meld of juicy tender but crispy exterior meat. i prefer this to all the other shawarma's and doners i've had (and it's becoming an extensive gta wide search).
this is on the very low scale of course but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.
I'll second Colborne Lane for an experience that's interesting with some potentially excellent moments. The menu is imaginative, fun and experimental... and while I don't think it executes perfectly 100% of the time, our experience has been mostly-delicious - and the innovation is what I think might keep your son interested. Note that the wine list here is not great, but this is where I would take an experimental foodie.
For the less expensive place, I might suggest JKWB? I guess it depends what you think is "less expensive," but I don't find JK particularly price-y. The focus here is on local and seasonal ingredients, and it seems that your son's resto has a similar focus. I also really like Torito for some great tapas.
PS - the Gastropod menu looks great - wish I'd known about it last month when I was in Van!
Just got back from taking him to Lucien. He/we really enjoyed it. Excellent meal, outstanding service, beautiful ambience.
Turns out my other son's friend is the sous chef there (who knew???) so we had a nice chat with him and got a taste of his charcuterie platter which was amazing.
Thanks for all of the recommendations.
We'll be heading to Vancouver in November and look forward to dining at Gastropod, where my son cooks.