A tall order - even for Chowhounds!
Yes, that’s a challenge!
I fear I ask the impossible. We need recommendations for a memorable mid-week celebratory dinner. The guest of honour is celebrating a graduation, of sorts, and a major milestone professionally. There will be 5-8 attendees, and they range in age from late 30’s to early 60’s. There are a couple foodies in the group, but no one is especially demanding. Presentation is important, though, as we want it to be “special”, and I find even the non-foodies rave when the food looks beautiful or different. This group is adventurous food-wise.
We are looking for the following:
- Preferably east of the DVP (pretty important, logistically)
- Memorable presentation
- Good food
- Preferably something out of the ordinary, that people from out of town can’t usually get
- No Italian (one of the guests grew up with the real deal and simply refuses to eat Italian in a restaurant)
- Not the Citizen
- Up to 60 dollars pp before alcohol (could be a lot less, could be a little more)
- Alcohol licence
- Nice but unpretentious atmosphere with comfortable seating
- A place that offers a prix-fixe or chef’s menu
Just to let you know, we are willing to trade off one factor for a really high score on another. For example, Ethiopian is very high on the “out of the ordinary for out of town guests” scale and we were seriously thinking about it, then we realized that we didn’t want to watch one particular guest eat with their hands (hehe). We are also considering Batifole, but it wouldn't be really memorable.
So, any takers?
I would suggest Globe Bistro. Slightly east of DVP, nice space, very inventive menu with good ingredients out of towners will not find elsewhere. I would suggest that you get a table in the mid-level space, where you could ostensibly have your own section, or, weather permitting, do the roof, which is one of the nicer ones in town. Danforth east of Broadview.
Apart from that, the food and quality of service at Table 17 on Queen East could be considered memorable, as there is a really good atmosphere.
I wonder if Red Violin might fit your bill? The food isn't spectacular, but it's solid, and the presentation is certainly out of the ordinary. There are more and more of these Brazilian BBQ places popping up, but there's a good chance your guests haven't been to one. It's east of the DVP and right on the subway. The meal is prix-fixe, and on weeknights, it's $50pp before alcohol.
It is however, very vegetarian unfriendly, so if anyone in your group is not a fan of red meat, forget I ever mentioned it ;)
I tried the Red Violin in January. I was expecting it to be of the same quality as the Copacabana in Niagara Falls, but it fell well short of that mark. Much of the meat at the Red Violin was tough and chewy and the salad bar was pretty mediocre. Also too, the joint gets pretty loud once the music and dancing gets going. That would be forgiveable if the quality of the food was better, but at 50pp, the meat just wasn't up to par.
re: Brain of J
Hrmm, really? I've been to both, though neither for awhile, and Red Violin was clearly the better of the two between my two experiences. Perhaps it's gone tragically downhill?
Definitely agree about the noise -- but they asked for midweek, when Red Violin doesn't have the 'show'.
tomi-kro...not sure if they have a prix-fixe or chef's menu but fits most of your other criteria...i really enjoy the food there and i find the prices very fair.