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George or Perigee for parents' 40th

z
ztarsh Aug 25, 2008 08:07 AM

I want to give a gift certificate towards one of these restaurants. Any thoughts? Am I missing something even better? They travel a lot so they're well versed on excellent food. But, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't enjoy anything too contemporary.

Thanks for the help.

  1. KayceeK Aug 29, 2008 07:50 AM

    I really enjoyed my experience at George. Though we were in the lovely patio on a nice summer day, the walk through the restaurant to get there was equally as enjoyable!

    Regarding the Toronto dining scene in general, I would agree that there aren't as many places that really are the cream of the crop that make you go "wow, now THIS is fine dining at its best", but there are many, many very respectable restaurants just hovering somewhere below that line.

    Globe, Amuse-Bouche, Chiado, Centro, Celestin, Niagara Street Cafe, Rosebud, Mistura, many many many more very good places to be enjoyed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KayceeK
      BokChoi Aug 29, 2008 01:41 PM

      Good tip, KayceeK. I will try some of those as I have yet to get around to a couple of the ones you have mentioned (fan of Mistura and Celestin, not so much of Niagara St Cafe though).
      Cheers!

    2. BokChoi Aug 29, 2008 07:44 AM

      Hi ztarsh, I know that it's not in the 'price range' you were searching for, for such a special occasion, but I would suggest perhaps Nota Bene - the other restaurant by David Lee. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, and I have posted some reviews + pics elsewhere on this board. The food is IMO one of the best I have had in the city as of late, and the price is exceptional. I should definitely return soon before the reputation has been solidly built and Chef Lee loses interest in this pet project like so many other chefs do with new restos. I really hope he keeps an interest and maintains this as one of the great, medium-priced restaurants in Toronto. I hope it becomes a landmark.

      Cheers!

      1. BokChoi Aug 26, 2008 02:12 PM

        Sorry to keep being the odd-one-out with respect to opinions on 'Holy Grail' restaurants on this Chowhound Board. Just thought I would toss in my two-cents about my views on these + Splendido. I know that almost NOBODY will agree with me, but I thought I would just toss in my opinion as well, just in case it will be of some assistance.

        I have been to all 3 restaurants. George - 2 years ago nearer to its infancy, Perigee last Christmas with Pat Riley at the helm, and finally to Splendido about 4 months ago, and then again 4 months before that.

        Depending on the type of food you like - the restaurants are quite traditional in their preparation. The ingredients (though Perigee tries to be a bit more cutting-edge) are tame, and the pairings more traditional. The food is prepared solidly, and if you are looking for a fairly well prepared, solid, traditional meal - then all 3 would be okay in my book.
        Ranking:
        1) Splendido
        2) Perigee
        3) George

        I was quite disappointed with both Perigee and George when I tried them because I have heard such good things. George was quite a forgettable meal. Everything was very basic - though the menu sounded exciting and right up my alley. Upon execution though, the 'flare' of the dishes seemed lost and the meal ended up tasting quite flat and unimaginative by the end. Perigee, same thing. The offals were nice, but sweet breads were a bit chewy and overdone for my preferences. The cornish hen was nice and was quite excellently prepared though. That was the only dish that stayed with me (actually, my SO reminded me of it, as I had no recollection of that meal). Scaramouche, I've mentioned my thoughts on another thread. All 3 were not bad meals, I guess I had just expected more (more excitement in preparation, in presentation, in ingredients, in accompaniments, in variation of textures and contrasts in tastes and temperatures...).

        But to each their own - I just thought I would be the sole voice of (slight) dissent.

        Maybe a better gauge would be if you told me what restaurants they do like in the area. That would help me (or other CH'ers) better suggest something perhaps more to their liking.

        For a very traditional meal that was solid in all respects, I found Truffles to be nice and at a good price point (but once again, just OK), as well as Celestin (one of the better traditional French meals I have had in the city - though they too have their off-days). But to each their own. Congratulations to your parents. All the best.

        15 Replies
        1. re: BokChoi
          z
          ztarsh Aug 26, 2008 02:49 PM

          Thanks for your input. My parents haven't really been checking our restaurants like they used to. So I don't think they are very familiar with the TO scene. I think they generally feel the TO scene is unimpressive. They like North 44, have liked Scaramouche and been unimpressed with Canoe. I thought of just going with North 44, but decided that they should try something else (and probably better!) I don't live in TO, so all I can go by is my research on Chow and restaurants menus. So based on reviews and restaurants menus, I feel Perigee is my best bet knowing their tastes.

          1. re: BokChoi
            skylineR33 Aug 26, 2008 06:08 PM

            BokChoi, In your ranking, do you mean Splendido or Scaramouche ?

            I have been to all the restaurants you have mentioned and found their quality all good but lacking the 'wow' factor as well. But I disagree your opinion on the food at George. I found it very tasty with good combination of food element in most of the dishes I tried.

            1. re: skylineR33
              BokChoi Aug 26, 2008 06:42 PM

              My apologies. I meant Scaramouche. Thanks for catching that, skylineR33.

              ztarsh, Perigee has some exciting menus, and I was excited to try it as well. Upon tasting said menu items though, I felt like they did not have many complex layers to the dish (no plays between ingredients that hightened the experience / no synergy) and thus fell flat for me. For me, the menu did not well-represent the dinner I consumed.

              I too find the TO dining scene very unimpressive. I find the meals I have inconsistent (I have been quite impressed with Canoe a number of times only to be unimpressed another time - the only other restaurant you listed that I have been to besides Scaramouche) and they rarely provide that 'wow' factor, especially in terms of higher-end restaurants. When you want that special evening out, you would hope that after much research and money spent, that you could at least enjoy a meal within a certain range with respect to expectation. I have yet to find that 'go to' restaurant for myself - the one that guarantees a splendid night out on the town.

              But to each their own and I respect that. Everyone has such varied tastes, especially in Toronto because of our vastly different backgrounds and thus palates. Also, it is hard to judge a restaurant from the menu alone, because many restaurants tend to copy more renowned restaurants' menus and ingredients (the IT factor) and may not necessarily execute it as well as the creators. But since you are not in the city and cannot try the food, you have probably left yourself in the best of hands by checking fellow CHers posts/views. I hope that your parents are satisfied with their meal, whichever way you decide to go.

              Cheers

              1. re: BokChoi
                Charles Yu Aug 26, 2008 08:14 PM

                Hello BokChoi,
                I totally agree with your remark "I too find the TO dining scene very unimpressive" ! Especially after I had some truly stupendous meals in Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York during the past year. Some of them not even Michelin star restaurants! Thats why, for my future fine dining eating plan, I'm seriously considering venturing outside of Toronto and try places like Langdon Hall instead.

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  BokChoi Aug 27, 2008 06:54 AM

                  Hi Charles Yu,

                  The International food scene is indeed incomparable to what we have in Toronto. Almost makes me not want to dine out anymore just because of the constant disappointment and boredom. Alas, I live to eat, so I need sustenance. Toronto is excellent for medium priced and low-end dining though, IMO.

                  Just a word of warning, I had a VERY unimpressive meal at Langdon Hall a while back. The food was beautifully presented and the locale amazing - but the food was overall quite a disappointment. And I honestly do not know where they found their dessert chef, but I have never had worse desserts in my life at a resto. I'll post some old photos soon.

                  Cheers

                  1. re: BokChoi
                    m
                    Minnow Aug 27, 2008 08:41 AM

                    I'd support BokChoi on the Langdon Hall issue - I've had a couple of very unimpressive meals there (although there was a rabbit terrine that made my partner swear to start eating bunny again). I have had far better meals at Splendido, Scaramouche, and even George. And there is no comparison to NYC - Eleven Madison Park (which I would think is the closest comparison that I have been to) would blow it out of the water.

                    And back to the topic - my vote is for George. I actually really like the ambiance, and find the menu varied anough that you can put together your own mini tasting menu and feel satisfied with flavour and amount.

                    1. re: Minnow
                      Charles Yu Aug 27, 2008 08:03 PM

                      Hello Bokchoi and Minnow,
                      Were your meals at LH before or after they got awarded the title 'Relais Gourmand'? I noticed every recipient of this title in France is at least a Michelin 2 or 3 stars! Did LH change chef recently? thus resulting in the kitchen's ability to gain this title?

                      1. re: Charles Yu
                        m
                        Minnow Aug 28, 2008 06:04 AM

                        I was there before it was awarded the Relais Gourmand; I was surprised to hear that it had been. Possibly, after I had been there, they made the conscious decision to step it up. To me, it wasn't even near Toque! in Montreal, which also has that title. Anyway, I like the property, so I certainly wouldn't call it a wasted drive (especially if you stay), but I think there are better restaurants in the city as mentioned above. Maybe they've improved - would like to hear your take!

                        1. re: Charles Yu
                          BokChoi Aug 29, 2008 04:49 AM

                          Charles Yu, I too went before they were bestowed that honour. I went in May. The sommelier is excellent there and very personable, The food, however, fell short for me. Great service, mimicking that of Jean Georges in NYC, but still did not possess an equivalent lead-waiter that could introduce each dish as impeccably. On desserts alone, I would reject their $38000 entrance fee to the club. But to each their own!
                          Cheers!

                      2. re: BokChoi
                        spades Aug 28, 2008 01:35 PM

                        While it may be true that Toronto does not have the goods to compete with the international stars on the restaurant scene, I think it's a stretch to categorize Toronto's high-end dining experiences as full of "constant disappointment and boredom". I've also been fotunate to have wonderful dining experiences in NY and LA over the past year, and though undeniably better in some instances, I wouldn't categorize them as some unattainable holy grail. I think that if we support the local establishments and vote with our dollars for ones offering truly memorable experiences (even in a local context), we can hopefully start raising the bar overall. Just my $.02.

                        1. re: spades
                          BokChoi Aug 29, 2008 04:44 AM

                          I would agree that we should continue to support our local dining scene and vote with our dollars - but I honestly don't know who to vote for. I feel like right now I am just tossing money left and right hoping for that that one 'unattainable' dream - a magnificent blow-my-mind meal in Toronto.

                          I am always willing to try a new restaurant, but I find that I really am still searching for that 'go to' location that is a never-fail option. I feel as though many restaurants and restauranteurs have become a bit complacent over the years due to the lack of 'challenge' for the top few dining spots in Toronto (probably why Susur headed over to NYC for a real fight and that chance at a Michelin star). I just find that I have had better overall experiences at many less expensive restaurants in other International cities, ones with even Michelin ratings. I cannot wait for that superstar (or up-and-coming) chef to come to Toronto and show us what they can do to the dining scene. I see potential in a number of chefs in Toronto (David Lee, etc.), but I feel they need to take it up a notch in terms of exciting their patrons, on top of offering their tried-and-true favourites.
                          Cheers!

                          1. re: BokChoi
                            skylineR33 Aug 29, 2008 06:27 AM

                            Hey BokChoi, then why don't you give Toronto's best (which many considered), Splendido, a try first before all your complains and critiques and saying there is no 'go to' location for you in Toronto ? I remember you said you have not try it before.

                            A never-fail option may never exist in this world as I do not see any restaurant from anywhere, any ranking, ever receive perfect mark (eg. There are people not quite satisfied with their meal at Joel Robuchon's 3 stars restaurant in LV with their $400 per person meal). I do also know some people who like chinese BBQ more than a piece of foie gras they tried in a what I consider a true and good french restaurant.

                            1. re: skylineR33
                              BokChoi Aug 29, 2008 07:08 AM

                              Splendido was on my list - but I had a dining companion that highly suggested against going there. I may get around to it, but I wanted to trust their judgment for now. I have always loved medium and cheaper restaurants in Toronto - but once again, it's all in perspective (price, etc). And that's why I expect more when paying more, but that could just be me.

                              ztarsh, maybe you could suggest Splendido based on the good word of so many CHers. Let me know how you like it - and on your good word, perhaps I will be swayed to trying it.

                              Cheers!

                              1. re: BokChoi
                                Charles Yu Aug 29, 2008 07:47 PM

                                I second SkylineR33! For the 'total package' ( food, wine, service, ambience ) experience, Splendido is by far the best restaurant in Toronto to offer that. As a foodie in TO, you should give it a try! I'm curious to find out why your dining companion is so against going there?!

                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                  BokChoi Aug 29, 2008 09:13 PM

                                  I am not sure. They went there once for a larger group gathering and tried to introduce their companions to one of the fine-dining establishments in Toronto. However, the meal, they said, was a total flop and they were a bit embarrassed. Needless to say they were not too keen on recommending others to try it again. They sort of scared me off trying it because of all the negative comments over the years. I should try it for myself and see - I just feel as though I may be betraying them!

                                  Cheers

              2. spades Aug 25, 2008 09:41 AM

                I've been fortunate enough to have several meals at both establishments, and I can honestly say that you can't go wrong with either. I find the overall experience a little more intimate and pleasant at Perigee, where I find the room a touch warmer and the staff a smidge more engaging. On the other hand, an anniversary dinner may not be the best time to yuk it up with the servers... for pure professionalism, George is the better bet IMO.

                Also, for what it's worth, the Distillery neighbourhood (where Perigee is located) is a little better for a pre/post dinner stroll than the Queen/Jarvis area.

                2 Replies
                1. re: spades
                  Charles Yu Aug 25, 2008 08:07 PM

                  Hello Spades!
                  Is your Perigee experience pre or post Pat Riley? If the latter, how's the food compare to the Riley era? Forget about service and ambience, food alone, what is better, George, Perigee or...Splendido?! Thx!

                  1. re: Charles Yu
                    spades Aug 26, 2008 08:55 AM

                    I've been to Perigee pre- and post-Riley and based on food alone, I'd give the nod to Christopher Brown mostly because he seems to stay truer to the original ingredients.

                    If I had to base my decision on food alone... that's really a tough one. I haven't been in Splendido for over two years now, but I remember it absolutely outstanding in every regard. Can't go wrong there.

                    Between George and Perigee... it depends. If I'm going for big flavours and wow factor to impress my friends, I'd probably go with George. But for me, sophistication and simplicity win out every time, so Perigee would be my personal preference between the two.

                2. j
                  Julie McCoy Aug 25, 2008 09:01 AM

                  Can only speak for George and not Perigee, but my 2 cents:
                  George's menu has all recognizable ingredients but put together in such unusual ways as to sometimes render them sometimes unrecognizable (in a good way!). Check the menu on line to see if that qualifies as too contemporary, but I wouldn't have said so. I have found enough diversity of choice and have been treated to 2 very memorable dinners this year. The room is big, though not noisy, and pleasant but not 'grand'. Some tables might be a bit close if you happen to go on a busy night, though we always had an empty table beside us. The servers are polite and not at all pretentious. On our last visit, the server wrote out the name of a cheese we liked and pointed out where we could buy it. i would highly recommend it as an occasion restaurant.

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