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Sep 12, 2008 12:28 PM

North York restaurant recommendations

I have recently moved to North York and I'm looking for a good restaurant above Hwy 401 (between Bathurst and Leslie) in the $100-$150 range for two people. I've tried a few but no success yet. Please help!

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  1. Can you clarify what you mean by "good"? Are you looking for a special occasion restaurant with ambience and service? Or just really good food? Any specific type of cuisine? And does your price include alcohol?

    12 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Just really good food. I'm not so particular about the cuisine or decor. Here's what I've tried so far and I don't think I'll be back to any of them for a repeat visit:
      Terra - overpriced and pretentious
      Ichiban in Empress - very average Japanese
      Mezza Notte - found the pasta and pizza to be just alright
      Zaffron (Iranian) - decent meat but not inspiring
      Baton Rouge - don't care for chains
      Oliver & Bonnacini (Bayview Village) - plain food for above average prices
      Seoul House (on Steeles) - okay but I've better Korean around Yorkdale.
      Asian Legend - I've had way better Chinese on Hwy 7

      I've just about given up my search for a restaurant that serves solid dishes north of the 401.
      Please let me know if you know of any hidden gems. Thanks.

      1. re: martinluther

        Let me suggest Paese, an Italian resto in a strip plaza on Bathurst St. north of Wilson Ave. (and the 401, as per your request). It's not great, but it is quite good. I'm especially fond of most of the appetizers, and, among the mains, the Cornish hen and the provomi liver, though most everything is well-executed (including the pizzas). Locally very popular, so make a reservation, even early in the week. As an added inducement, Paese charges no corkage whatever on bring your own wine every night but Saturday (the only resto in Toronto to do so), though it has a decent wine list of its own. Easy parking either in the plaza or nearby streets. If you bring your own wine, you'll spend $70-$80 a couple, and eat very well.

        On Yonge St. north of the 40l, I like Buk Chang Dong, south of Finch, a Korean spot with just about a half dozen items on the menu, all at $8 (tax included). Good soup/stews. Also very popular with the local Korean community. Further up Yonge St., in the same strip plaza as Zaffron, is Kenzo, a Japanese spot that specializes in ramen soups. The edamame is also tasty, as are the gyoza (dumplings). Modestly priced.

        I agree with your assesssment of most of the restos you've been to on and off north Yonge St., though perhaps you're being too hard on Asian Legend. There's little question there are better joints along Highway 7, but if you know what to order at Asian Legend, you'll do quite nicely. Mind, if you live closer to Highway 7, that's where you should go. But Asian Legend is popular for a reason: most dishes are pretty good (try No. 10 and No. 101) and, in my case, it's considerably closer than Highway 7.

        If you're prepared to go a little south of the 401 on Yonge St., try Sequel (a few blocks south of the City Limits). It'll put you close to your $150 per couple limit (with wine), but it's a small, extremely well-run place, with a focussed (meaning small) menu that's superbly done. Rather than price-y bottles of wine, I prefer ordering glasses. which are always well chosen. And across the street from Sequel, there's Coppi, a traditional italian joint of, in my view, exceptional quality.

        1. re: juno

          Thanks so much Juno for your recommendations. Very helpful. I'll be trying Paese and Sequel in the very near future. I've been to the Korean tofu resto and I agree it's very good.

          By the way, have you tried Chez Laurent on Yonge just south of Empress?
          Thanks again.

          1. re: martinluther

            I've never been to Chez Laurent because I rarely take a shot on a resto in Chez Laurent's price range unless someone whose tastes I'm familiar with has specifically recommended it. And no one has. I'm also vaguely aware that what I've read and heard about the place since it opened hasn't been terribly enthusiastic. So I feel no compelling reason to give it a workout. I'm game to gamble on a modest joint where, if it's not up to much, there's no great loss. But at $100-$150 a couple, I insist on seeing some pedigree first in a city where 60% of restos are acceptably average, 20% are worth regular visits for one reason or another - and another 20% aren't worth walking in the front door (this latter 20% usually go out of business within the first year or two, to be replaced by another ill-fated 20%).

        2. re: martinluther

          I agree completely. It's not a good area for restaurants. Since Korean and Persian restaurants have just about taken over Yonge St, the situation is getting even worse if you aren't a big fan of that stuff. Personally, I find the Persian OK but bland. Korean is by far my least favorite Asian.

          Places like Chez Laurent, Ferrovia and Mezza Notte, Le Montmatre are OK, but nothing special. The only really good place the area ever had, Cuisine of India, has gone downhill so badly that it is barely worth a visit anymore. I've been to Pourquoi Pas several times and found it OK until the last visit, when it was quite poor. That was 3 years ago, and I've not returned. Some places can be good if you know what order, like TuYen and especially Peking Man, which has several excellent dishes. They have some kind of Szechuan fried beef shreds that are absolutely to die for.

          1. re: martinluther

            Tried Zaffron for dinner last night to satisfy a curiosity for Iranian Persian food. Enjoyed the homemade yogurt soda with herbs. House hot bread (Zaffron bread) was a slightly tough (overbaked) flatbread with sesame seeds ($3.99) served with individual tubs of butter. A small plate of mint leaves, parsley, and radishes were also brought to the table (sabzi). We split the badem jan kebob appetizer (stuffed eggplant, $8.99 for two pieces) and didn't love it but thought it was interesting enough. Fish of the day special ($18.99) was huge and flat and nicely crumbed. Morgh Torsh (northern Iranian chicken stew in tangy green sauce with egg and lentil, $12.99) featured succulent chicken pieces but I couldn't eat much due to the strong taste of cilantro which I normally try to avoid. We wouldn't go back as it's not in our 'hood but they seem capable of not ruining meat and fish.

            What I really want is to go back to that area for good Korean food. We want to try Owl of Minerva or Korean Traditional north of Cummer. Which is the best Korean in that area? I love Korean bbq specifically (kalbi and bulgogi).

            1. re: Food Tourist

              If you like Korean food there are tons in North York. Kalbi and Bulgogi are like the hambugers of korean bbq. You will want to try "wang kalbi" which is literally translated to King kalbi which is kalbi on the bone, Jumulluk which is short ribs in seasame oil, and samgyupsal which is thick bacon unseasoned. Those are much tastier than kalbi and bulgogi. The best/most popular/cleanest/most expensive place in the GTA that korean people will take guests would have to be Sariwon which is just north of Steeles on Yonge. The service is decent at best, but their bbq is by far the best and cleanest but a bit pricey.

              Another good place for korean bbq would be Seoul Gwan (I think in english it is Seoul House) at Yonge and Steeles, in front of Train (Pho Restaurant) and some aquarium shop. They are reasonable prices and they have other dishes that are good as well. A bit pricier than most of the small hole in the wall restaurants, but good food.'

              Also there are Korean style chinese restaurants in that area....

              1. re: cityconnection

                What are a few examples of the Korean styled Chinese restaurants in that area?

                1. re: T Long

                  There is Sunny Dragon at Hilda and Steeles is a diner-ish place. Not the cleanest but they are quick and open late to the best of my recollection.

                  Manri Jangsung is in the same area and they taste better imho. They are not as oily as other places and tastes more home-made-ish, if that makes sense.

                  Inside Galleria Supermarket (where the Chapters used to be, for those familiar with the area) there is a small food court with a bunch of small places. They aren't the "best" Toronto has to offer but definitely a quick and relatively inexpensive eat. As well they sell shik-hae (sweet rice drink that is slightly like a slushy) in the food court that is amazing on a summer day.

                  An unknown gem in the area is this website: It is basically a delivery service for a bunch of restaurants uptown. They have Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Thai and so on. You can order almost anything in the area and they charge a small fee, which is usually less than $10, sometimes free after x amount of dollars.

                  1. re: cityconnection

                    thx for the reco about the foodonthego site, now I can get a bit more variety for our company lunches every friday. Getting a bit sick of Pusateri's and Taro's all the time.

              2. re: Food Tourist

                Between Owl of Minerva or Korean Traditional - which i think is also referred to Wonjo (?), I'd definitely go to Wonjo.

              3. re: martinluther

                Asian Legend at Leslie and Finch is good as well. SUPER busy on weekends though. But the soup dumplings and pekking duck is good.

            2. saw the two new french restos on sheppard, "Le Montmatre" and "Pourquoi Pas". Haven't had the chance to sample them but have heard pretty solid reviews on the two places. Maybe something you can investigate on :)

              3 Replies
              1. re: oohlala

                Went to Pourquoi Pas approx 3 weeks ago, it was okay at best. I ordered duck breast and received duck leg. It's a bit overpriced for what you get IMO. For that type of ambiance I'd choose Chez Laurent.

                I'll look out for Le Montmatre.

                1. re: Apprentice

                  Pourquoi Pas isn't new (unless they changed management recently). There's some reviews from an older thread.


                  1. re: Royaljelly

                    It's been around at least 20 years. I haven't been there since the early 90's so can't give any feedback on it.

              2. Below your price range, but a personal favorite from when I lived in the area:


                It's on Yonge St.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Boodah

                  Cuisine of India is now closed. I don't know if they relocated but it is a construction site now.

                2. Have you tried Steve's?

                  3788 Bathurst Street Toronto, ON M3H
                  (416) 633-8812

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: aprilstair

                    Do you really thing the OP was looking for a place like what you suggested? The menu appears to be that of a cheap diner. Can 2 people actually spend $100 - $150 there ? I wouldn't want to.

                  2. A nice greek restaurant I've enjoyed is called Santorini, it's just east of Bayview/John (in the mall on the NE corner, but seperate from the mall - ie. it's like it's in the parking lot). Good food, relaxing ambience, probably $50/person with apps and wine.

                    Also, just south of the 401, but a popular resto (especially for special occasions) among chowhounds is Auberge du Pommier. It's on Yonge, just north of York Mills. They have a nice tasting menu for about $100pp if you can increase price a bit, otherwise, they do have normal a la carte as well.