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Nov 3, 2008 11:44 AM

Good steakhouse that won't break the bank?

Hello - I am organizing a birthday dinner, taking place later this month, for about 6-8 people, and am looking for a steakhouse (as that is where the birthday girl would like to dine). Can anyone recommend one that is reasonably priced? We're just looking for a place that isn't astronomically priced, but serves decent steaks and seafood (as there are a couple of non meat eaters coming as well).

I checked out Ruth's Chris, for example, and its waaay too expensive for our group - I have also been to Barbarian's in the past and was very disappointed with its overpriced, mediocre food. Cyrano's, on King Street East, had lovely steaks but don't appear to be there anymore.


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  1. The tulip, but that's probably not what you're after for a b-day.

    Carmen's is old school. Not cheap, but cheaper than the others you mention, I'd guess.

    You always have the Keg.

    Or, how about a restaurant that serves a good steak? Batifole on Gerrard East serves a striploin only, but comes with marrow bone. And several fish options, usually.
    And I think I've read that Starfish serves a good steak, for a seafood-centric spot.

    4 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      Thanks for the suggestions! Unfortunately I had a VERY bad experience with the Tulip (was served moldy steak - ugh! Would never go back there) but hadn't thought of Batifole, had dinner there in the summer and it was both delicious and intimate. The Keg is always a standby, as is the Mandarin (yes - mostly mediocre food but not entirely bad - their roast beef is divine).

      1. re: Welshgirl

        I would suggest "The Place for Steak & Seafood" It's in a plaza ,at the very western end...Bathurst & Sheppard Ave West...(NW corner of that intersection) As the name suggests they serve both and either a prix fixe or a la carte...the service is friendly but not effusive, the food is quite good..think old school steakhouse...the dinner salad is pretty pedestrian as is the dessert but the 'mains' are reliable & fresh.....probably not as cheap as The Keg and more expensive than The Tulip but not in the Barberian/Ruth Chris/Carmen category . They can easily serve 8 people and they are used to Birthday Groups.....It can get pretty noisy in the Restaurant (they often have multi-generational Family groups) It's well run and I think would serve your purpose well.

      2. re: grandgourmand

        The Tulip!!!!....Make sure you put an extra $40.00 for the ambulance ride from the blocked arteries from the fine tuplipo food!!!Also, the only seafood the Tulip knows is tuna in a can.!!Good luck!!

        1. re: SushiZ

          Hey, I provided a disclaimer after suggesting it...I've never been to the Tulip, just heard it was good for a cheap steak.

          Anyhow...possibly the non-steakhouses are your best bet for value. Then again, might defeat the goal of wanting a steakhouse.

      3. I'm a big fan of Senior's, at Yonge and St. Clair-ish. Very old school, decor from the 70s, but the food is good and the service is always very warm and welcoming. They do have some non-meat on the menu, but I've never had, so I can't say.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Minnow

          Senior's has been doing it right for years and years. Do you know if they allow byo? That would be the icing on the cake.

          Some of the high end places do allow byo, which is really the only way to eat there if you're not on an expense account, as the markup is generally five times. It's better value to pay a $25-30 corkage and bring a bottle of a similar cost. You'd actually save a significant amount.

          1. re: Minnow

            I second senior's - not sure about byob but if you call it might be a possibility.

            1. re: juliewong

              I had forgotten Senior's (the upstairs) The food is good, certainly value for your money...I would choose "The Place for Steak" etc. over it purely for aesethic's a clean, bright space with white linen tablecloths and old school waiters who know what to do and when to do it.. I guess what I'm trying to say is, (in my opinion, that is) Senior's is a less pleasant atmosphere, just looks a bit 'frayed around the edges'........but that being said...the food at Senior's is good. I don't know about either place's BYOB policy...

          2. Not sure what your budget is, but did you see the special 3 course menu on Ruth's Chris website... you have to dine early though.

            I actually shared one of their steak specials but the waiter didn't like that too much.


            10 Replies
            1. re: minto

              I have tried said 'special' a while back. I was VERY unimpressed with Ruth's Chris. Decided that maybe they were just 'off their game' with the specials menu. Headed back when it was covered by an expense account - and I confirmed my suspicions. Very mediocre beef at exorbitant prices. Would recommend against it. (1/2 cup of butter on my beef to create some sizzle? No thanks) But it's always full, so there are those that must love it.

              1. re: BokChoi

                Mr. BC,

                mmm...butter. not for the sizzle but for the flavour.

                theres some random chef in the states, keller i think his name is, that lets steaks rest in a beurre monte before serving.


                1. re: HarryLloyd

                  Very interesting about the resting butter marination - I'd like to try that perhaps. I just can't mentally get over the 1/2 cup of butter they pour over my already artery-clogging steak, and the scents confuse me. Another thing is that they serve the steak on a sizzling hot plate. I prefer extremely rare beef. Hot plate + rare meat + slow eater makes for a not so rare steak by mid-meal.

                  I have really enjoyed the flavour and textures of a nice home-grilled cumbrae's, and find it hard to justify a meal out for an equivalent/worse product for 3x the price... but I understand the appeal - many love RC. I have just had 2 very bad experiences.

                  1. re: BokChoi


                    Like you, I too, have eaten at Ruth's Chris.

                    It clearly states on the menu -- IN BOLD -- the following:

                    "Our steaks are served sizzling with a touch of butter -- specify extra or NONE!"

                    Simply request your steak sans butter, and I'm sure they would be happy to accomodate your request.

                    1. re: danthediner

                      Hi danthediner,

                      Thanks. I tried that the second visit. But my steak was still cooking itself. I just don't think it's the right place for someone like me.

                    2. re: BokChoi

                      BokChoi, some butter enhances the steak's flavour. 1/2 cup of butter masks tough, bad steak. You're quite right to be confused.

                      To try that experience the right way, grill a Cumbrae's steak and finish it with a pat of their truffle butter. Use enough that the trails of melting butter juuuuust go over the edges. Heavenly.

                      1. re: Googs

                        Definitely agree. Small portions of butter/butters are great on a steak, or even serving it with a piece of well-aged cheddar. A 1/2 cup of butter is better served with lobster for dipping, imo.

                        1. re: Googs

                          Thanks so much for the suggestion, Googs. I will try that on my next Cumbrae's visit. I did not realize they sold their own truffle butter. I must keep an eye open for it. I really have not found anything that can beat a nice basic Cumbrae's steak so far in the city (at a reasonable price of course). But I'm still on the search...

                    3. re: BokChoi

                      Have had the same dissapointing experience with "chain" steakhouses, like Le Biftec in the Sheraton. My younger brother's birthday dinner soiled by bad wilted salad, and over-cooking, continually cooking, steaks, not to mention chilly service. Have had steaks from the top of the list in NYC (le Bernardin's Kobe beef) to the cheapest greek-diner typed ones (Zet's in Malton)...and I guess that Welshgirl is looking for a gem that does steak well, without the neccessary "red wine and dinner jacket" atmosphere, and can stand a birthday laugh or two.

                      1. re: unturtlesoup

                        Agreed. I would also like to know if there is such a place in Toronto. Just wanted to warn against the early bird special. SO wanted me to mention that they enjoyed their steak though, but they ordered off the regular menu and not the early bird that first visit. I think I will just avoid steak chains from now on. Le Biftheque has since closed and reopened as "STEAK". It was great when there was a buy 1 steak, get 1 free special a while back. Have not returned since the special ended though as I didn't see it as a standout joint.

                  2. How about Stonegrill ? I have a couple of good meal there. It has the DIY concept on a sizzling stone. My steak there is tender with the a nice sizzling smell and taste. The atmosphere is nice, a few bucks more than Keg's but I think it is a good alternative.


                    1. What's the age range of the group? I agree with PearlD that Seniors is a bit down at the heels, shall we say. The food may be good (havent' been in ages) but it might not be a suitable for a birthday celebration, especially in respect of age group.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JamieK

                        Well, I'm in the youngish range, and I always see groups of younger people when I'm there, but I agree - it is more about the kitsch value than the decor.