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foodie honeymoon in toronto??

j
jenneyb Jan 3, 2009 08:51 AM

hi all.

we are getting married in april and decided to land in toronto for our honeymoon, as we have never been & have of course heard wonderful things about it being an international culinary destination. please help us with suggestions of where to eat & possibly even where to stay. (we are torn between the drake, the hazelton & Hôtel Le Germain) we are aiming for the opportunity to explore everything from eclectic neighbourhood spots that are all about the food, to upscale fine dining and everything in between. please help us filter through the trendy touristy spots and dine where you love. my fiance & i are totally wine geeks, so boutique wine lists are the way to our hearts.

also, we are flying in and first heading to jordan to stay @ the inn on the twenty for a couple of days. so we'd love ANY recommendations for food/to do's regarding niagara.

thanks so much!!

  1. Googs Jan 3, 2009 09:10 AM

    Since wine is the single-most important criterion, here are a couple of places to start you off that do pairings well and deliver great food and service in a pleasant atmosphere.
    http://www.georgeonqueen.com/
    http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com/

    Well T.O. Hounds? How's about helping out with this most romantic mission?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Googs
      t
      tjr Jan 3, 2009 09:52 AM

      You may also want to add Splendido to that list: http://www.splendido.ca/. Barberian's has a great cellar: http://www.barberians.com/winelist.php, but I don't think steak will impress you. You may want to head out to Treadwell in Port Dalhousie (Niagara region) for food and wine: http://www.treadwellcuisine.com/menus.php.

      Assuming the location in your profile is current, definitely avoid Mexican in Toronto. You will probably find sushi to be of an inferior quality in Toronto as well. Instead, try Hashimoto for his take on kaiseki cuisine: http://www.kaiseki.ca/english/.

      Do a quick search and look for posts on Chinese by Charles_Yu, skylineR33, BokChoi, etc. The variety and range of Chinese food is pretty impressive in Toronto, especially if you're adventurous eaters. It might be the best chance you'll have to experience something genuinely new and interesting, though the wine element won't be there.

      1. re: tjr
        j
        jenneyb Jan 3, 2009 10:26 AM

        thank you so much for the suggestions. we will take up the advice on the mexican food! the sushi i am surprised about, only because other than a few humble exceptions, we've never found the sushi here (in phx) to be anything more than pretentious. we are really excited to look into all of these options! PLEASE keep them coming!!!

        1. re: jenneyb
          t
          tjr Jan 3, 2009 10:33 AM

          You could try Kaji then for a combination of interesting cooked dishes and sushi. Steer clear of most others though. Some of the better sushi restaurants in the city aren't bad, but they'll be similar to what you'd expect in Phoenix.

    2. Rabbit Jan 3, 2009 09:29 AM

      Googs has given you some great high-end options. In a more mid-ish range, I like Crush Wine Bar (www.crushwinebar.com) and I think the wine list at Globe Bistro (www.globebistro.com) is nicely chosen. Globe is also a good dining option because they pay attention to local and seasonal ingredients.

      A few other favourites... Torito for great tapas (www.toritorestaurant.com), Caplansky's for fab smoked meat sandwiches (the meat is made in-house - www.caplanskys.com), Canoe for a high-end interpretation of Canadian cuisine and a gorgeous view of the city (www.oliverbonacini.com/canoemovie.html) and the St. Lawrence and Kensington markers are great spots for exploring.

      As for hotels... the rooms at the Drake are very small and it's a bit isolated with not-so-great transit links. Also, it's became a mob-y club scene on the weekends in a way that could make your stay unpleasant. Hazleton and LeGermain are more refined choices, although the Hazleton is more central. If you're into boutique hotels, you might also look at the Windsor Arms, although it has a more old-world feel.

      1. m
        Minnow Jan 3, 2009 11:14 AM

        For a wine list in Toronto, it is hard to do better than Opus (http://www.opusrestaurant.com/opus.taf) , which apparently won the 2008 Grand Award from Wine Spectator. It is on the more expensive side, but I've never had a bad meal there, and is reasonably close to the Hazelton, if that's where you send up.

        For neighbourhood spots, I'm a big fan of the Rosebud (no website, but do a search on this board), which is in the same general neighbourhood as the Drake (Queen West, while the Drake is "West Queen West". Hotel Le Germain is very nice, but is in a bit of a wasteland in terms of where people actually live and dine. The Windsor Arms is a good suggestion from Rabbit, too.

        1. m
          millygirl Jan 3, 2009 12:00 PM

          OMG, a stay at The Windsor Arms and dinner at Scaramouche. It could not get any better than that!!!

          2 Replies
          1. re: millygirl
            a
            air621 Jan 3, 2009 12:38 PM

            Doesn't the Windsor Arms have a steak joint in there now? I was lucky enough to stay in the Windsor Suite overnight for free a few years ago. The experience is up there with one of my favourite Toronto experiences. I love that part of town too.

            1. re: air621
              JamieK Jan 3, 2009 05:11 PM

              The place in the Windsor Arms is called Prime.

              -----
              Prime
              18 St Thomas St, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

          2. JamieK Jan 3, 2009 12:23 PM

            I agree with scratching Drake off your list of places to stay. Here are some place links for the above suggestions -

            -----
            George
            111 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 1S2, CA

            Scaramouche
            1 Benvenuto Place, Toronto, ON M4V 2L1, CA

            Splendido
            88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

            11 Replies
            1. re: JamieK
              JamieK Jan 3, 2009 12:34 PM

              here's the website for Rosebud -
              http://www.therosebud.ca/

              -----
              Canoe
              54th Floor TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6, CA

              Crush
              455 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V1K4, CA

              St. Lawrence Market
              92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

              Barberian's
              7 Elm St, Toronto, ON M5G1H1, CA

              Treadwell
              61 Lakeport Road, St. Catharines, ON L2N 4P6, CA

              Opus
              37 Prince Arthur Ave, Toronto, ON M5R1B2, CA

              Torito
              276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

              Rosebud
              669 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J1E6, CA

              1. re: JamieK
                j
                jenneyb Jan 3, 2009 12:40 PM

                thank you again for all the great feedback. my fiance was curious about Grano? any opinions?

                1. re: jenneyb
                  Rabbit Jan 3, 2009 12:55 PM

                  I can't comment on Grano, but my favourite Italian in Toronto is Tutti Matti (www.tuttimatti.com) - authentic Tuscan in a pretty bistro atmosphere.

                  1. re: Rabbit
                    t
                    tjr Jan 3, 2009 04:38 PM

                    In addition to Tutti Matti, I would consider Mistura and Via Allegro as well for Italian. Via Allegro is in Etobicoke, not downtown, but the food is great, atypical, and their wine list is extraordinary. Like Opus, a winner of one of Wine Spectator Grand Award things for this year (I thought these were more of a paid award, but their list is quite amazing regardless of the award's significance), and they also have an enormous whiskey selection as well.

                    1. re: tjr
                      Full tummy Jan 4, 2009 07:07 PM

                      Second the Via Allegro suggestion. Their wine list is as thick as a telephone book.

                  2. re: jenneyb
                    t
                    todc1996 Jan 3, 2009 01:16 PM

                    grano is o.k....definitely not a honeymoon destination place.

                    1. re: todc1996
                      t
                      torontofoodiegirl Jan 4, 2009 11:10 AM

                      Agreed. I live in the 'hood and enjoy Grano, but wouldn't ever recommend that a visitor to Toronto make the trip uptown for it. Perhaps consider Mistura, a great option for high-end Italian (and it will be close by if you end up at the Hazelton). Have also had great experiences at Tutti Matti.

                      Agree with previous posters that Canoe and Scaramouche are excellent choices. Also, I think if you'd posted a year ago, you would have had a multitude of recommendations for Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, but a lot of posters on this board, of late, have complained that the quality of the food has deteriorated. Personally, when I most recently dined there (a couple of months ago) I found that it was still terrific, but maybe I just got lucky... I think it might still be worth a visit, given your interest in wine and its emphasis on local food.

                      I agree with other posters that the Drake is way too out of the way. Haven't ever been to the Hotel Le Germain, but my husband and I loved their sister hotel in Quebec City. Great rooms, and amazing service.

                      Have a great honeymoon!

                    2. re: jenneyb
                      Full tummy Jan 4, 2009 07:09 PM

                      What about Zucca? This is excellent and authentic Italian.

                      http://www.zuccatrattoria.com/

                      1. re: Full tummy
                        Googs Jan 6, 2009 05:59 AM

                        Zucca doesn't have that deep of a wine list. As well, once you're up at Y&E dining what do you do afterwards? Terrific food and certainly one of my two fave Italian restos in Toronto. However, I'm not sure it would make the best night out.

                        1. re: Googs
                          s
                          Snarf Jan 6, 2009 03:32 PM

                          Depending on which evening you choose, the jazz lounge at Centro can be a great romantic follow-up to something in the Y&E area, or Alleycatz, for a dance or two. Worth finding out who's playing the nights you're considering.

                      2. re: jenneyb
                        a
                        aiw Jan 7, 2009 04:31 AM

                        Grano is one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto. The anitipasti is terrific, wines list is great and they make the best latte in the city. Menu changes frequently, but the ambiance is very European.

                    3. aser Jan 3, 2009 01:16 PM

                      If you want to experience cantonese food but don't plan on renting a car during your stay, then Lai Wah Heen is the only destination restaurant you will have access to in the downtown core.

                      http://www.metropolitan.com/lwh/

                      Toronto's greatest culinary strength is in its ethnic cuisine. Our high end restaurants are good, but not in the same league as SF/Chicago/NYC. If I was a tourist, I would reserve the majority of my stomach space for immigrant food. A lot of ethnic places will forgo a corkage fee or charge a very low amount. For example I was at Magic Wok in Markham for nye and they charged us $7 for a bottle of champagne we brought in.

                      Splendido is generally recognized as the best Michelin star styled restaurant in Toronto, most ch'ers will agree with this statement.

                      Canoe is the most representative of Canadian cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere. The winter menu will probably feature dishes like tortiere, caribou, etc.

                      Like tjr said, if you really want Japanese, do Hashimoto or Kaji. They unfortunately aren't in the downtown core and will need a cab ride.

                      Stay away from Drake, unless you like dancing to hipster rave at 2am with boys and girls in red & black lumberjack flannel.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: aser
                        j
                        jenneyb Jan 3, 2009 01:23 PM

                        fantastic. we are very excited to try cuisine that will be unique to toronto. we will be in the city for several days, so we are definitely in search of a well balanced range in our dining experience. we are just as excited, if not more excted, about the no name local favourites. even if a restaurant isn't extremely convenient...what's a cab ride once you've flown 7hrs?

                        1. re: jenneyb
                          Googs Jan 3, 2009 01:35 PM

                          No, they mean a looooong cab ride. If you're seeking sushi downtown, you might try Omi. The wine list is no great shakes, but the sake's just fine. The sushi is fantastic. The room isn't exactly romantic, but did I mention the sushi is fantastic?

                          Just a few doors north of Omi there's a little wine bar called The Cobourg if you feel the need to indulge in the grape. Great selection of wine in a shabby chic room.
                          http://www.torontoplus.ca/bars_restau...

                          -----
                          Omi
                          243 Carlton St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                          1. re: Googs
                            t
                            tjr Jan 3, 2009 04:43 PM

                            Though I respect Googs' posts, and now find Omi to be among the better sushi restaurants in the city, it's definitely not worth going to over Kaji or Hashimoto for Japanese, and the sushi is greatly inferior to Kaji. Omi, though, would be a good choice to visit if you can somehow convince Lee to cook you an omakase of interesting Korean dishes (and avoid most of the AYCE Korean BBQ restaurants).

                            The cab ride isn't very long, unless you hit a lot of traffic (or have a really low tolerance for car trips), and Kaji or Hashimoto (Hashimoto especially) will probably be a much better and more worthwhile experience.

                            1. re: tjr
                              Googs Jan 4, 2009 02:33 PM

                              tjr, I wasn't recommending one over the other. I was speaking to the OP's desire for an unpretentious sushi resto keeping in mind that they'll be staying downtown. If they were staying in Etobicoke I would have said Kaji, in Scarborough I would have said Zen. Hashimoto's a good half hour drive from where they're intending to stay. Certainly Kaji can be gotten to in about 15-20 minutes from Yorkville IF there's no hockey, no basketball, no football, no soccer, and no baseball game. I'd hate for a shine to be taken off of their night while they sweated it out in the backseat of a taxi hoping to make their reservation on time. Romance of the honeymoon kind deserves a smooth-running night out.

                              1. re: Googs
                                t
                                tjr Jan 4, 2009 06:26 PM

                                Like I said, it depends on their tolerance for the trip!

                          2. re: jenneyb
                            syoung Jan 5, 2009 08:49 AM

                            My local no name favourite is Trattoria Fieramosca (http://www.fieramoscatoronto.com/) near Bloor & University. It's a cozy romantic little restaurant. Another local favourite is Grazie at Yonge & Eglinton, but no reservations allowed and not romantic. Another Italian favourite is Il Mulino (http://www.ilmulinorestaurant.com/) at Eglinton & Allen Road. I would stay away from Grano.

                            I agree with others to try Lai Wah Heen for Chinese and Kaji for Sushi, though Kaji is a bit of a cab ride west to the burbs (Etobicoke). Continuing the ethnic theme, Amaya (http://www.amayarestaurant.com/) is very good for Indian fusion at Bayview & Eglinton. As well Chiado (http://www.chiadorestaurant.ca/) out west at College & Ossington is excellent for (high end) Portuguese.

                            Scaramouche has already been mendioned, is pricey but great food, great view and high on the romantic scale. Ask for a window table with a good view when making reservation.

                            1. re: syoung
                              Googs Jan 6, 2009 06:09 AM

                              Fieramosca can be hit or miss. Romantic, yes, if you get one of the fireplace locations. Not so much if you get the front room.

                              For Italian fine dining and with consideration of locale and wine list, I'd go with Mistura. jenneyb, if you decide to go with this one make sure they seat you deep inside the resto. It can be a little too busy near the front.
                              http://www.mistura.ca/

                              Oh and if you go with Omi for sushi, absolutely the only way to go is omakase. Chef John Lee has a real knack for flavour/texture progressions. Do tell them of your celebration when you book. He always does something a little magical for hubby's birthday.

                        2. s
                          sydandsys Jan 3, 2009 01:53 PM

                          For your trip to Niagara on the Lake (NOTL) I highly recommend Peller Estates. Fabulous wine, fabulous views, fabulous food. Also, Vineland Estates is very cosy and intimate. Treadwell is certainly amazing as well. The best wine tasting/winery is Stratus. The wine maker makes some of the finest wine Ontario has to offer, its also a LEED certified winery (one of the few). Its hard to get your hands on their wine but its very tasty. I have had to ship some to my European friends in the past.

                          Although its slightly out of the way, you should try to visit Langdon Hall on your trip from NOTL to Toronto. Langdon Hall is a Relais and Chateaux property and boasts an amazing restaurant.

                          In Toronto I would say Canoe is a true 'Canadian' experience, and the views are lovely too. For Indian, Amaya, in the neighbourhood of Leaside is a very good Indian restaurant. Only one in Canada that surpasses it would be Vij's in Vancouver. George is intimate and cozy. Crush is fabulous for wine and a more casual bar style dinner. Starfish is excellent for Canadian seafood (oysters especially).

                          If you are looking for a day trip Eigensinn Farm (2 hrs north of downtown Toronto) would be the thing to do.

                          Apart from chowhound another good resource for you would be Toronto Life. If wine is really key, try to check out James Chatto's blog.

                          Best Wishes!!

                          -----
                          Canoe
                          54th Floor TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6, CA

                          Starfish
                          100 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ON M5C1K9, CA

                          Amaya
                          1701 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4G 2C1, CA

                          Langdon Hall
                          1 Langdon Drive, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R8, Canada

                          Crush Wine Bar - duplicate
                          455 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sydandsys
                            t
                            tjr Jan 3, 2009 04:49 PM

                            Though I haven't been, you might want to check out some recent reviews of Langdon Hall, as well as the newer opinions on JK Wine Bar before you set out to eat there. I'd suggest avoiding Toronto's take on poutine (except at Bymark, but this isn't really a poutine), because even places like Smoke's and Caplansky's are only a fraction as delicious as those in Ottawa or Quebec.

                            Speaking of Bymark, the food there is good in general, and if you're willing to shell out $35, their burger is quite nice, and one of the only places you can get a medium rare burger (with brie de meaux, porcinis, etc.) in the city alongside good wine. They have a lot of playful options as well too, like lobster grilled cheese at lunch, or the lobster "poutine."

                          2. s
                            sydandsys Jan 3, 2009 01:58 PM

                            i forgot to mention, JK wine bar should be on your list as well. While the service can be hit or miss the food and wine is always excellent! Emphasis on Canadian food, and would definitely give you a great 'poutine' experience!

                            -----
                            Jamie Kennedy
                            9 Church St, Toronto, ON M5E1M2, CA

                            1. Wahooty Jan 3, 2009 02:14 PM

                              If you're looking for a nice spot for a casual lunch while you're in Jordan, you might try Zooma Zooma Cafe. Short menu of sandwiches and light entrees, with a wine list drawn exclusively from the immediate area.

                              www.zoomazoomacafe.ca

                              -----
                              Zooma Zooma Cafe
                              Jordan, ON

                              1. s
                                Snarf Jan 4, 2009 07:40 PM

                                I can't speak to the quality of the rooms of the Hazelton, having never stayed there, but if you do stay there, here are a few suggestions for the area.

                                Drinks. Try the roof bar at the Park Hyatt, about 100 yards from the Hazelton. Classic spot for drinks, amazing view of the city, and a fair bit of local history.

                                A quick appetizer. Try a bowl of jump up soup at Greg Couillard's Spice Room and Chutney Bar in Hazelton Lanes. A classic local dish, and if you eat at the bar, the tapas pricing is a good way to have it more reasonably than the more high end dishes.

                                Iecchyd da!

                                1. skylineR33 Jan 3, 2009 05:43 PM

                                  Hi jenneyb,

                                  Certainly there are many nice restaurants in Toronto eventhough I am not sure if it qualifies to be an international culinary destination to be realistic.

                                  Here are some of my recommendation if money is not an factor (probably all have been recommended by others already) :

                                  Lai Wah Heen and Lai Toh Heen for cantonese dim sum and dinner
                                  Splendido and George for continental/french/International cuisine
                                  Canoe for great view and good food (if you can get window seat)

                                  Regarding Japanese food, Hashimoto for kaiseki and Kaji for raw/cooked omakase. However, personally, I am not sure if it worths all the effort to get there. Same with Chinese food in Richmond Hill/Markham (north Toronto), there are many good ones there but it is hard to order dishes with just the two of you, as it does not work like Western esblishments, most chinese restaurant up north has no tasting menu and better to share dishes with at least 3-4 people unless you really know what to order. So I am not sure if it worths all the effort to go there as well.

                                  Wish you have a great time in Toronto !

                                  1. l
                                    LemonLauren Jan 4, 2009 03:44 PM

                                    wow, what a great idea. i live here, but i might take a food honeymoon here too!i in fact i got engaged last year at a winery, so here are my thoughts on the jordan/notl scene:

                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/433004
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/486036

                                    I echo the thoughts on Zooma Zooma and Stratus, and add a few of my own. if you search the board you'll find lots of differing opinions on where to visit, but some names recurr.

                                    As for in TO, one place that might be a bit different but also exciting for the wine lover is Bar Volo. They serve a ton of great ON wine and you might try some there you like and make a point to visit those wineries.
                                    http://www.barvolo.com/

                                    -----
                                    Volo
                                    587 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA

                                    1. Full tummy Jan 4, 2009 07:12 PM

                                      What about North 44? Any thoughts? I've enjoyed all my meals there immensely, more than my meals at Splendido.

                                      If you're curious, there is a wine list PDF on the website, as well as menus.

                                      http://www.north44restaurant.com/

                                      1. ChalkBoy Jan 5, 2009 06:23 AM

                                        How old are you? Most of these recommendations skewer to an older demographic (ie a good suggestion for your 20th anniversary). Hip and happening or stuffy and staid?

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: ChalkBoy
                                          l
                                          LemonLauren Jan 5, 2009 07:28 AM

                                          yeah...the bar volo suggestion is a young one though :)

                                          1. re: LemonLauren
                                            ChalkBoy Jan 5, 2009 08:55 AM

                                            Great beer selection, too. But iffy food, more a drinking spot.

                                            1. re: ChalkBoy
                                              l
                                              LemonLauren Jan 6, 2009 05:24 PM

                                              yup, definately making the rec for a post-meal drink not for food.

                                          2. re: ChalkBoy
                                            t
                                            tjr Jan 5, 2009 11:53 AM

                                            I am comfortable at all the places I've recommended, and I'm certainly not part of an older demographic (and wouldn't feel out of place at many of the others recommended). Food is food, and a lot of the trendy, "hip" places aren't in the same league in terms of eats. I'd rather let the "younger" part of the evening be in the nightlife. Plus, they definitely won't get that vibe from most of the "ethnic" places. Leave trendy for after lunch and dinner, save it for the nightlife. There's always mediocre food at the hottest place to be seen in Phoenix as well.

                                            1. re: tjr
                                              Googs Jan 6, 2009 05:57 AM

                                              Well said tjr.

                                          3. s
                                            stonedtoronto Jan 5, 2009 08:42 PM

                                            It seems no one is recommended Pantages Hotel. It's right next to the Eaton Centre. I got a very nice large suite there for $150 on short notice.

                                            The five restaurants in Toronto that I think you must try, beit for atmosphere, romance, food, wine, or service.

                                            Scaramouche, Splendido, George, Colborne Lane, and North 44.

                                            Some others you might want to check out are: Canoe, Auberge du Pommier, and Chiado. For something more mid price...I would say...JK Wine Bar, Globe Bistro, and Sequel.

                                            Congrats on your wedding btw.

                                            1. b
                                              budeeez Jan 6, 2009 08:24 AM

                                              You may find some good Vietnamese cuisine in Chinatown. Not expensive at all and extremely tastey. We like to go to Pho Hung. They have 2 locations. One in China town on the corner of St Andrew and the other on Bloor St. just west of Avenue Rd. If you are staying at Hazelton, the Bloor st location is just around the corner. There are other options for Vietnamese on other threads.

                                              Another budget-wise option that we prefer is Indian buffet for lunch ($9.99/person) at Little India on Queen St. W. Yes, it is a buffet but it is well worth it. They are always busy and extremely high turnover of food. You'll get a good sampling. Plus, you can stroll Queen St afterwards. If you stroll westward, west of Spadina there are great independent shops for many many blocks (none of those corporate retail outlets).

                                              Not sure how long you are staying in Toronto. Much of the other suggestions are on the pricey side so maybe a good lunch here and there with good ethnic food is an option.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: budeeez
                                                m
                                                millygirl Jan 6, 2009 04:20 PM

                                                Aside from Scaramouche, another excellent spot would be Mistura. Excellent food and quite happening. You could upstairs to Sopra afterwards for drinks and live jazz.

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