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Sep 15, 2008 06:41 PM

Proud Torontoians! Where to bring serious foodies from NYC?

I need to take a couple out to one dinner in Toronto. Need recommendations!

No preferences as to cuisine / atmosphere. Money is no object.

To complicate matters, they are serious, serious foodies from New York (one of them work in the industry, and they have seriously been everywhere in NYC), so they're not looking for just regular fine-dining venues. They're hoping for something that they can't quite get in New York.

Also, they have already been to Scaramouche, Splendido, Kaji, Hashimoto, Chiado, Lai Wah Heen, and Thuet, so they're not looking to go back.

A final wrinkle: due to our schedule, we would like the restuarant to be within:
East: Bayview
West: Allen Road / Spadina
North: Sheppard
South: Gardiner

Sorry for the trouble!
Any suggestions? I'm sure the collective wisdom of Chowhound can come up with something!!!


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  1. Colborne Lane or Nota Bene.

    There's not a lot here that they can't get in New York. So either you have to go hole-in-the-wall ethnic (I'm exaggerating, of course) or you just have to go with a place that just does something very well. Colborne Lane is interesting (with some molecular gastronomy play), pricey and generally very well executed and Nota Bene is new from the Splendido gang and getting great reviews (particularly good if your guests like charcuterie).

    4 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Oh, I disagree. My brother-in-law lives in Long Island, and he takes us out to New York
      Chinese spots all the time. I think the food is not up to Toronto standards. The hot-and-sour soup at four different spots was horrible. About the only thing I liked were the soup dumplings at some place in Brooklyn. They even managed to mess up simple noodle dishes - cold and tasteless.

      Pete, expand your horizons, and come up the 404 to Highway 7.It's only ten minutes north of Sheppard, and with your friends, you can use the HOV lane. Go west to either O-Mei or Ambassador. I promise you won't be disappointed, and your friends will be impressed.

      1. re: KevinB

        Sorry, I do agree with you. I was including our Chinese restaurants in the "hole-in-the-wall ethic" category. :) Exaggerating the "hole in the wall" bit, of course.

        1. re: KevinB

          In order to impress people in a chinese restaurant like Omei, you need to know what to order, otherwise you will just be given a regular menu with some unimpressive dish to order. Dishes like 4 ways Lobster or Alaska King crab, steamed the whole live French Turbot with steaming oil on soy sauce and scallion are some of the specialities in there.

          Another good one is the Full House on Hwy 7. Also, you need to know what to order in order to impress people. The perfect hand fried whole pigeon and Wok fried Maggie sauce giant lobster are some of the specialities in there.

          These are the food not quite available in NYC. However, it is best if going with at least 4 people to eat in a chinese restaurant up North in Richmond Hill and Markham.

        2. re: TorontoJo

          Not sure about Colborne Lane, since they already have WD-50, Degustation, etc. As for Nota Bene, while it's an excellent restaurant, I'm not sure it is really so different from what they can get in New York.

          I agree, however, with the ethnic suggestion (especially Chinese).

        3. Honestly?

          I would take them to Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu: 691 Bloor St. W at Clinton.

          You can't get Soon Tofu in NY that good (or that cheap) Unless maybe, maybe, you go out to Queens and even then I haven't found a place that Rivals Buk Chang Dong. Besides, after you're done you can cross the street for a Brown sugar pancake at Hodo Kwaja for desert (656 Bloor St. West, North Side)

          Or you can head down to Spadina/Bloor to Gregs for some Roasted Marshmallow ice cream which is equally nonexistent in NYC and is simultaneously one of the most mind blowing things I have ever put past my teeth.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            How does the Gregs roasted marshmallow compare to hollywood gelatos?

            I've tried hollywood's and its pretty good i thought, wondering if greg's is much different

            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

              Honestly, I am going to have to disagree with you on the Buk Chang Dong place. I just had lunch there with my parents a few days ago... and IT SUCKED ASS! Banchans (the usual kimchi and soybean sprouts) were dry as hell and most importantly, soon tofu tasted as if it were a poor excuse for instant korean ramen soup with tofu. This is coming from a guy who grew up with homemade Korean food, folks. The place used to be really really good, but I hate to say this but after that one disaster of lunch, don't see myself going back there ever again!

              1. re: satoorisme

                Haven't been in awhile but I've never had a meal there that sucked ass as much as you describe. Hopefully they haven't gone downhill.

                However, Buk Chang Dong is like Alain Ducasse compared to the Soon Tofu you would get in Manhatten (excluding Queens) and it's less than half the price. Yeah, less than half, no exaggeration.

                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                  For something as simple as soon tofu, that "less than half" price should be what they are charging anyway or even less. I'd be lying if I told you I knew anything about what they offer down in the big apple, but, I've had my share of some nastyass soontofus around and I used to think Buk Chang Dong as one of a very few places here where I could always count on getting just a simple and decent soontofu... until, well, now, I think it falls under the former category. I am guessing it's due to possible change in the kitchen (staff)... either non-Korean asian who can't cook Korean for crap or maybe they suddenly decided to follow the lead of many (not all) other Korean restos around here by putting ridiculously excessive amount of artificial flavourings in everything they make along with frozen ingredients that does nothing to help. Which would explain why the last meal I had there was like a total whackjob. For what it's worth, the food USED to be decent__ hell maybe they could pull it together back to what they used to be for all I hope__ uh but after that lunch? I think I am going to stick to my mom's homemade soontofu for now, thanks. I doubt that they'll lose any business though because there's always going to cheap Koreans going there, well, for a quick cheap bite and some non-Korean types thinking this is the real deal for some nice authentic Korean meal that just happens to be cheap. Sad, but whatever, they don't seem to care anyhow.

            2. How about George, Globe (just slightly east of the Bayview extension, so I'm including it), C5 at the ROM or JK at the Gardiner? All their menus feature at least some local ingredients which would make them at least slightly different than what's found in NYC.

              I'm not a fan of the food at JKWB, but they do serve dishes that are different than what you would get in NYC.

              1. I haven't tried Hollywood's Roasted Marshmallow and would be interested to see how it stacks up. Now I'm going to be thinking about it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                  Roasted Marshmallow Ice Cream???? This is why I love this site! I'm going to Greg's today to get me some :)

                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                    I prefer Greg's. I find Hollywood's is more sickly sweet than Greg's. I'll quantify that by saying that I find all the gelato at Hollywood too sweet, I prefer Il Gelatiere.

                    1. re: thenurse

                      Is Greg's roasted marshmallow ice cream available now? I always thought it was seasonal. if it is available, I will go next weekend.

                      1. re: caitlink

                        Is there a season for marshmallows?

                  2. Perigee for truly inventive canadian cuisine and superb service.
                    Kaiseki Sakura for outstanding imperial Japanese court cuisine, not sushi.

                    On second thought, just go to Perigee. You'll have a memorable meal. Avoid JKWine bar, it's v. average.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: stapler

                      I second Perigee and the suggestion to take them out for an excellent Chinese meal.

                      Also, Madeline. It's got good reviews on this board and a stellar review from Joanna Kates this past weekend. There was a short review of it in the New York Times last week so they will have heard of it. As well, it might be interesting for your guests to see Susur's last post here before he goes to NYC, in case they end up checking out his place in new york.

                      1. re: EarlyDrive

                        Eh, I find the food at Madeline kinda run of the mill. Nothing compared to Perigee...

                        1. re: stapler

                          Ditto. I found it okay, but nothing special. Certainly not a place I'd revisit, or suggest to impress. We had about 25 items (party of 4) and the only real hit of the night was the starter of deep fried green beans.

                          My top recs would be Scaramouche, Nota Bene (confess not been yet) or Mistura. Can't go wrong with either those three.

                      2. re: stapler

                        Ahhh! So sorry! I completely forgot to mention: the couple had the "Taste of Perigee" menu (~24 courses, > 5 hours) with wine pairing with Pat Riley about two years ago. They were very impressed.

                        But after such an iconic experience, I don't think they're looking for another visit to Perigee. So I'm still stuck!

                        Thanks though!!

                        1. re: PeteM

                          Serious foodies from NYC?! If that's the case, I'll definitely go Cantonese. Instead of Lai Wah Heen may be Lai Toh Heen this time?. Or, as eluded to by skylineR33, head up to O'Mei in Richmond Hill for some 'One of a Kind' Giant Lobster four ways! Nothing comparable in NYC. Worth the drive!
                          Forget about the Colborne Lane, George, C5, Nota Bene....etc. NYC has its basket of much better Micheline star(s) restaurants in the likes of wd-50, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park. L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon...who are cooking up similar but better tasting and more adventurous cuisine. And I havn't even mention the 2* or 3* temples of Daniel, Gordon Ramsey, Per Se or Jean George!
                          BTW, Pat Riley left Perigee months ago!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            I would unfortunately have to disagree with the Nota Bene comment (though I agree with the George, and C5 comment). I actually found Nota Bene to be better than wd~50. I have a post on the NYC board about my experience there. But to each their own - I just do not think you should completely rule out Nota Bene. Forget George though, IMO. Very lackluster experience when I went a while back.

                            I would compare Nota Bene to Perilla from NYC and at the same price point. Satisfying all the way around - though the tastes were much more stellar and I would liken that to my experience at Degustation - my favourite NYC restaurant right now.


                            1. re: BokChoi

                              Why do a NYer want to eat at Nota Bene or any Japanese establishment especially when the person has eaten everywhere in NYC (Per Se, Babbo, Masa, Yasuda) and looking for something they can't quite get in New York according to the original message ?

                              Head up to Richmond Hill for chinese food ! BTW, I like George better than Nota Bene and I have been to both recently.

                              1. re: BokChoi

                                Hi BokChoi!
                                My response was a 'blanket' approach. It was not my intention to compare Nota Bene with wd-50 or individual TO restaurant with corresponding NYC ones. Actually, with wd-50's eclectic cuisine, a comparison with Colborne Lane will be more appropriate.
                                Anyways, my point is that, when it comes to 'western cuisine', NYC on the whole has much more and superior choices than TO.

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Hi Charles. Thanks for the clarification. I would agree that NYC by far outshines Toronto in terms of culinary sophistication. Things are much more exciting over there because they are not afraid to take chances. Also, they try not to gouge you either every time you head out. I've often posted to previous questions about out of town visitors that they should not expect to try stellar, standard fare while they are in Toronto (French, Italian, etc.) as other places do it much better. Ethnic food is where Toronto shines with prices that are hard to match elsewhere. Here's a link to another thread about visitors from out of town that posters have written to:

                                  Forgive me for jumping to Nota Bene's defense so quickly as I misinterpreted your comment. I just wanted to protect Nota Bene's reputation because I really treasure the fact that they have priced themselves at an excellent price point and have delivered solid food. I want to ensure other restaurants follow in their footsteps in Toronto.


                            2. re: PeteM

                              Wait, wait, Perigee has a new chef and he's fab. It's not the same old Perigee anymore.

                              But if you can't do P again, do take them to Kaiseki Sakura. Instead of a wine pairing you get a cocktail pairing and they are fabulous. Fabulous!

                              1. re: stapler

                                Oh I know Perigee has a new chef. He is not exactly new: Chris Brown, son of owner Victor Brown, has been at Perigee as a line cook / sous chef since 2003.

                                For that reason, I simply can't believe the new Perigee, without the complete open kitchen (without the shield), without the 26 course "Taste of Perigee" menu, without Chef Riley... etc, would be such an upgrade over the old one that it warrants a second visit (especially since they don't come to Toronto often, so they would really like something special and as i mentioned, something they haven't been before)