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Excellent + "Safe" + Value Meal recs?

BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 07:10 AM

I have a dining acquaintance that has a birthday coming up soon and I was hoping to take them somewhere like Colborne Lane - but I passed the idea by them yesterday and they were adamantly against it.

Their reasoning is that they do not often have an opportunity to go out to eat and have generally been disappointed when they try new restaurants out (the portions are too small, the food not to their liking, the price to enjoyment ratio was too high, etc.). I respect their wishes, but now I am at a loss as to where to take them on such short notice. Help?!

Their idea of reasonable would be a meal for about $70 ~ $80 a head (app + main + dessert that could be shared) and that one would exit the restaurant full/satisfied. Though they appreciate some ‘adventurous’ preparation methods and ingredients, I do not think these perks give my acquaintance enough joy to outweigh the focus on the cost-premium element. "Safe" means that I would appreciate a restaurant that is consistent in execution. Too often in Toronto, kitchens often have 'off' days.

Any thoughts on Lucien?

TIA

  1. TorontoJo Aug 14, 2008 07:20 AM

    Sounds like a job for Globe Bistro! The space is beautiful, the service is good without being stuffy or pretentious and the kitchen seems to turn out consistently good food with a focus on local products (note that I've only been there twice, but have been very happy both times). The menu has a little something for everyone -- the "safe" eater and the slightly more adventurous. Nothing there is over the top "weird" and the portions are comfortably generous. Also, the red fife bread they start out with is amazing.

    7 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo
      BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 07:39 AM

      Thanks. Any recs on which dishes to recommend to my colleague? I want to make this as 'safe' a dining experience as possible. (ie sure-fire win)

      1. re: BokChoi
        TorontoJo Aug 14, 2008 12:23 PM

        The butter poached rib eye is safe and tasty. :)

        1. re: TorontoJo
          BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 04:45 PM

          mmm I saw that option. I was going to order that one....meat..

      2. re: TorontoJo
        p
        phoenikia Aug 14, 2008 09:32 AM

        Second TorontoJo's recommendation of the Globe. Here is the menu full of safe dishes like ribeye: http://www.globebistro.com/menu.php

        Or try a French restaurant like Pastis or Coquine...they usually have steak frites and supreme of chicken aka chicken breast (or some sort of safe chicken) on the menu. http://www.coquinerestaurant.com/

        My way of dealing with Goldilocks type dinner companions ( too big, too small, not hot enough, doesn't taste like mom's..wah wah wah) is to let them choose the restaurant, rather than trying to find an ideal place that will suit their bland/safe/boring taste.

        I can make up for lost delicousness later, either on my own or with my chowfriends, and I won't have to listen to them complain about my choice of restaurant. And then I can diss their choice of restaurant on chowhound later.

        1. re: phoenikia
          p
          phoenikia Aug 14, 2008 09:53 AM

          Here are some restaurants with 'safe' choices:

          -----
          Globe
          124 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K1N1, CA

          Pastis
          1158 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L9, CA

          Le Select
          432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

          Coquine
          2075 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A4, CA

          1. re: phoenikia
            Splendid Wine Snob Aug 14, 2008 10:02 AM

            I completely agree with Phoenikia on this one. Why bother recommending this or that? Let THEM decide. Then that way it will please their wah-wah palates (like that Phoenika!) and if it sucks then the pressure isn't on you. You are being way too kind here...

            But if you really want a "safe" choice then recommend a chain.

            1. re: phoenikia
              BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 10:30 AM

              LOL True, phoenikia, but I would like to be able to give them a good experience - instead of just going to the same, boring venue year-after-year. I would like to elevate their dining experience with baby-steps first, maybe then they will become more Chowhound-y and I will have more dining companions!

              Niagara St Diner, Canoe and Langdon Hall were some of the most recent disappointments. Some recent successes were Truffles and Celestin. Those were the most recent places I have taken them to.

              I will try to trick them into trying Globe now. Wish me luck.

          2. pinstripeprincess Aug 14, 2008 07:52 AM

            niagara st cafe for sure. it's a little playful but nothing to extreme with all ingredients that anyone will easily recognize. great wine list, definitely a staple.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pinstripeprincess
              BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 08:35 AM

              Hi PSP,

              Just to help provide a frame a reference, one of our latest meals together was at Niagara St Cafe, and that unfortunately did not go very well at all. The portions were quite small and they left quite hungry. The fish was solid, but there was a pork option that was tasted and it was quite small. Perhaps we just went on a bad day...?
              Thanks for the rec tho.

              1. re: BokChoi
                pinstripeprincess Aug 14, 2008 09:02 AM

                portions were visually on the small side for me but have always filled me up very well. but that's certainly a to each their own type situation.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                  BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 10:44 AM

                  I think we possibly are just big eaters. I think perhaps most restaurants aim to satisfy the masses - instead of the "massive" (eaters).

            2. Rabbit Aug 14, 2008 08:36 AM

              If they didn't go for Colborne, then I would be hesitant recommending Lucien since food prep can be similarly rococo. Also, I could see your guests possibly considerin food portions "too small."

              Mistura is pretty classic food and a very nice atmosphere? I think it would fall within your price range.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Rabbit
                BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 09:09 AM

                Hi Rabbit. Please do not shoot the messenger. I just passed along the suggestion of Mistura (I have tried it myself and was quite happy with the food) and my dining acquaintance flat-out denied considering it as she is unfortunately not a fan of Italian food. Sigh.. options are running out...

                1. re: BokChoi
                  c
                  Cat123 Aug 14, 2008 10:16 AM

                  How about Le Select. Very consistent, huge menu, nice space.

              2. JamieK Aug 14, 2008 09:44 AM

                How about French? Le Paradis isn't fancy but decent portions and good value.
                http://www.leparadis.com/

                -----
                Le Paradis
                166 Bedford Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2K9, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: JamieK
                  BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 10:53 AM

                  LOL! Thanks everyone. OK, I will pass along these recommendations. They were actually fans of Le Paradis - but the menu there is quite limited and we have been there sooooo often that I would like them to try somewhere new.

                  Le Select - I tried to suggest on a previous occassion, but they fell back on Paradis (better price/value in their opinion). I'll try again.

                  SplendidWineSnob, if I let them choose - I am going to be in for a VERY BORING meal that is a waste of my $$ and time LOL. And unfortunately, they sometimes like to think of themselves as "mild foodies" and thus avoid chains. Quite hard to satisfy...

                  phoenikia and jayt90, I will forward your recs. Thanks for the lists.

                  Keep them coming people - I am hoping by sheer volume, I will overwhelm them into trying something new...

                  TIA!

                2. jayt90 Aug 14, 2008 10:14 AM

                  Starfish for steak frites? Or the Keg for prime rib?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: jayt90
                    Rabbit Aug 14, 2008 11:06 AM

                    Yes, jay90, I too have begun to think that this sounds like a job for the Keg! The York Street venue is a little bit "sexy" - not a terrible choice.

                    Is beerbistro too downmarket for the occasion?

                    1. re: Rabbit
                      BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 11:28 AM

                      Hi Rabbit,

                      If I suggested Keg, I would no longer be posting as I would probably be 6' under LOL. I think they are looking for something a bit more upscale and formal.

                      1. re: BokChoi
                        g
                        graydyn Aug 14, 2008 11:55 AM

                        Along the same lines of thinking as the Keg, maybe a Canyon Creek? It can come off as upscale as long as you don't tell them it's a chain.

                        1. re: graydyn
                          BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 03:24 PM

                          Since I will be dining with them, I think I will refrain from taking them there just for my own retention of sanity (and tastebud damage control) LOL. Though I have never actually been there... I guess I should not prematurely judge..

                          1. re: BokChoi
                            LadyPB Aug 15, 2008 12:19 PM

                            Canyon Creek isn't a bad idea, given the limits given. There are some pretty decent things on the menu - and consistency's there - and portion size.

                            Globe's probably the best option (IMNSHO), but it might be a bit too foodie for your companions. It does have size of portion and consistency going for it.

                  2. w
                    Wil Aug 14, 2008 12:02 PM

                    Splendido maybe? Pushing the 80/head mark, but classic food, great atmosphere, good sized dishes.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Wil
                      f
                      frito Aug 14, 2008 12:35 PM

                      Delux on Ossington is very safe. Steak frites and roast chicken.

                      1. re: Wil
                        BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 03:26 PM

                        One of my dining acquaintances has been there and was sorely disappointed unfortunately. I doubt they would entertain the idea of returning....

                        I know. My dining companions are quite the difficult bunch...

                        I have not tried Splendido myself though.

                      2. c
                        Cat123 Aug 14, 2008 12:44 PM

                        How about Boba? They are a Toronto standard but have a new menu.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Cat123
                          BokChoi Aug 14, 2008 03:27 PM

                          Thanks all. I will bombard them tonight with all your suggestions.

                        2. t
                          torontofoodiegirl Aug 15, 2008 02:09 PM

                          Not sure what area(s) you're interested in, but if Yonge and Eglinton's an option you may want to consider Quince. IMHO it's pretty consistently good and is good value for the money (will definitely come in under budget).

                          A more expesive choice (but still within your budget, assuming it's before alcohol, tax and tip) would be Auberge du Pommier, which I've always found to be great. The only caveat to that would be that the portions might not be big enough to satisfy your guest (though, in my opinion, they're more than big enough).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: torontofoodiegirl
                            e
                            erly Aug 15, 2008 02:38 PM

                            Zucca is a constant.
                            Excellent meal, and healthy portions.
                            Great whole grilled fish, and cheaper than Chaido.
                            I also very much enjoy Celestin, but you have been there.

                          2. Googs Aug 17, 2008 11:04 AM

                            Scaramouche.

                            1. BokChoi Aug 18, 2008 07:05 PM

                              Thanks everyone for your suggestions. They were of great assistance and now I have a long list that will hopefully last me for the upcoming year for places to try with my guests! I would like to keep the thread going so that others may also benefit from CHers' experiences. I will post a review of the place we eventually settled on. Thanks again.

                              Cheers and Happy Eating.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: BokChoi
                                BokChoi Aug 21, 2008 07:02 PM

                                Hi all. I finally managed to get my review + pics up:
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/550928

                                Thanks for all your help and the posts by fellow CHer's. I will definitely try these other restaurants later this year and post my comments. Thanks for the suggestions.

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