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Jan 9, 2009 07:50 AM

What restaurant would you gladly spend $500 in?

What restaurant in Toronto, would you gladly spend $500 in? Not counting extremely expensive wine.

The last restaurant that I spend that much money in, was George, and although the service was great...the tasting menu was too hit and miss.

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  1. I have and would spend that much in Splendido- Dinner for two plus one bottle of wine- which was not too insane with all things considered (just under $100)
    We did the tasting menu- the service was out of this world and the food was just to die for...actually all this talk is making me want to go again....

    1 Reply
    1. re: Neebom

      I wouldn't spend $50 dollars there. The most overrate, overpriced food that I wouldn't even rate as mediocre.

    2. None.

      The only places I would spend that kind of cash in are in NY, and Italy/France/Spain.

      Restaurants in Toronto while although some of which are fantastic, do not warrant that type of spend.

      20 Replies
        1. re: Sadistick

          Interesting. While may favourite dining experience(s) have been outside of Toronto, I think a $500/dinner can go a long way in Toronto. Generally, you can do a tasters with wine pairing or a "decent" bottle for $500 t&t included.

          Good luck trying to spend anything less than $500 CND at a 3* Michelin tasters with wine pairing anywhere else in the world. And a la carte in Paris - no chance!

          As much as we Canadians or Torontians like to "eat our children" this fine city represents fantastic value for high end dining IMO.

          1. re: Apprentice

            No one said anything about that money necessarily being spent in a Michelin starred resto!


            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

              So you're saying that generally speaking the non-michelin resto's in Spain, France, Italy and NYC that charge $500 CDN completely out-class Toronto's restaurants at the same price point? It would be interesting to see your list.

              1. re: Apprentice

                Yes, generally speaking I've been pretty darned disappointed with TO but that doesn't necessarily reflect food per se-it reflects the whole experience. And that also doesn't mean that I think the industry scene isn't trying hard to raise the bar, because it is, but oftentimes I've found the atmosphere lacking in this city for a variety of reasons restauranteurs cannot always control! I would spend that kind of money with some friends at Toque or Au Pied de Cochon in a heartbeat for example.

                  1. re: Apprentice

                    You're welcome :) I think we are really on the same page in the end...

                    I've just always felt that Toronto lacks the whole joie de vivre in eating out. I'm soooo tired of feeling like I can't make noise, have fun, and eat like I'm having great sex in this city!

                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                      "I can't make noise, have fun, and eat like I'm having great sex in this city!"

                      Thank God for that! I wouldn't like to be at the next table :)

                      1. re: Squeakycheese

                        Yes-certainly-life's a bitch and then you die, so my motto is that I might as well enjoy eating and living to the fullest of my capabilities. So with that, I prefer to LIVE and EAT!


                  2. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                    And maybe it is because toronto is "home" I find when you are travelling even problems become adventures and a "story". face it everything is relative when you are travelling it is an adventure, people seem freindlier, food taste better, service seems better..

                    When I was in Dominican eating the standard resort buffet.. I enjoyed it.. would I pay for teh same food in Toronto NO WAY... but when the sun is in your face and the sexy brown girls smile at you everything seems good... then you get home and it is Montezuma!

                    I am sure if you read Chow France they will complain that the service and food sucks in Paris... :-)

                    1. re: OnDaGo

                      No, Toronto is not home and never will be for me even though I live here.

                      And I have also had DEPLORABLE experiences traveling me!


                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                        SWS - OUCH. Yes it appears we just have different "needs/wants" in terms of ambiance and perhaps service?

                        OnDaGo - you have a point, the dining experience can be impacted by our mood & expectations as well as many other things. Also "fine dining" lends itself to overanalysis - I'm just as guilty as anyone else. And yes a lot of the France hounds do criticize (I was actively reading during the summer in prep for my fall trip). I've read one popular member mention there were more bad restaurants in Paris than good ones and finding the good ones takes time. How many times have you heard a potential tourist say "I could sit at any bistro in Paris and have a great meal..."

                  3. re: Apprentice

                    If you know your way around those countries (Especially Spain) you can easily find an exciting meal at a restaurant that outclasses anything in Toronto for much less than $500 CDN including wine. When I was in Barcelona last year my wife and I did a full tasting menu at Michelin rated Cinc Centits with an excellent bottle of wine and Cava as an apertif for $200 EURO. Even a more casual meal at a high end tapas place like Cal Pep will give you a more cutting edge dining experience for much less $.

                    I personally do not think that any restaurant I have eaten at in Toronto would justify that type of price tag, but obviously opinions will differ.

                    1. re: Matt H

                      Couldn't agree with you more.
                      We did better.
                      Had one of the finest meals of our lives for $110.00 for two including wine pairing.
                      Nothing close in T.O. at any price..
                      Food, presentation, and a truly talented Chef.
                      Posted the menu on the Africa board.
                      There is no restaurant in Toronto that is worth $500.

                      1. re: erly

                        There's some sophism in making the argument that you can get a better meal for less than $500 outside of Toronto. It's irrelevant to the answer. Furthermore, you're ignoring transportation, accomodation and standard of living costs (e.g. a meal in Africa). Would either of you spend $500 at the restaurants you mentioned above (e.g. Cinc Centits, Cal Pep, or the restaurant in Africa)?

                        I understand the value statement behind your arguments, but the comparisons to me are invalid.

                        1. re: Apprentice

                          Though Toronto restaurants' food are improving and approaching the quality of places in the US and other parts of the world, Toronto doesn't even come close to to the service and consistency of the food that other good restaurants elsewhere provide.

                          Generally if I spend more than $100 per head, I expect the service to be of a certain level and in my experience, getting that level is really a crap shot in Toronto.

                          1. re: Wandering Foodie

                            That is just a complete load of manure. About 8 years ago (Feb 13, 2001), I was lucky enough to have Gourmet magazine's "advance scout" contact me; he was coming to Toronto, and wanted to dine with someone local. (His job is to try out places and make recommendations for the travel writers, so they don't spend their time at disappointing eateries.)

                            We went to Ambassador Chinese in Richmond Hill. We were frequent visitors at the time, and I dropped in on the maitre d' a couple of days before to arrange the meal. The meal was heavy on seafood - lobster, scallops, abalone, black cod - and a few things he'd never tried - 5 spice pigeon, peking duck (which surprised me). Total came to $700 for three (my wife joined us) with no booze at all. I apologized for the expense, and he told me a similar meal in NYC would cost well over $1,000 US (and that's back when the C$ was 70 cents US). He said he thought the meal was excellent, and better than any Chinese he had had in NYC.

                            Then, he offered to take us to the Courtyard Cafe for another dinner - foie gras, rack of lamb, rib steak, etc. with two bottles of wine. Total for that was around $800 IIRC, and again, he told me he considered a great value, and that a similar NY meal would cost over $1,000.

                            The Gourmet review of Ambassador still hangs on their wall, and is quite complimentary. I don't think Toronto has to apologize to anyone for the quality and diversity of food.

                            1. re: Wandering Foodie

                              What's wrong with restaurant service in Toronto? We've been to some of the best restaurants all over the world and do not find service at Toronto restaurants to be any better or worse, generally speaking.

                            2. re: Apprentice

                              The price was just a tongue in cheek response to Matt.
                              The meal blew us away.
                              The quality and presentation of the food was outstanding, was my point.
                              I couldn't get a memorable meal at any price in Toronto.
                              Good food yes, but "great" no.

                    1. For how many people?

                      1. for just food? for one or two?
                        If it's for two wouldn't you be able to get a full on "menu" for two at any of the top 50 restos in the world for that kind of money? or at least a 3 course meal?

                        Once you add in alcohol things could spiral out of control of course but $500 would buy you a lotta food i imagine. Is George really that expensive that you can hit $500 for two? What was on your bill for that kind of money?

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: CoffeeAddict416

                          When I was last at George, in 2007, two tasting menus with wine pairings would have been roughly $400 (tax & tip included). However, it is possible to eat at George for considerably less.

                          1. re: embee

                            To me my sense of "value" has shifted considerably since my last trip to Europe. I felt like Toronto overall is a very cheap place to eat but to get really excellent, fancy, gourmet food for a reasonable price is very very difficult. The last meal I spent of lot of money on in Toronto was my last visit to Susur over 3 years ago now! For two that bill came out to roughly just under $300 with a 1/2 bottle of wine. I felt like that was a bit steep but I got what I paid for.

                            Compare that to one resto i visited in France. It was a 1 michelin star resto so about the same level as the old Susur in terms of service, ambiance and execution. The difference was the 6 course menu was 38 euros and was similar to this:

                            So with taxes and tips already included in the price tag that's only like $150 for two to eat at that resto with a couple of glasses of wine. After experiencing something like that I find it hard to justify dropping more than $150 on a meal for two including a glass of wine each in Toronto when every meal will fall short of that standard set at that restaurant in France.

                            I know that obviously France and Canada are two different planets when it comes to availability of product, and the psychology of the consumer. It's not a very fair comparison. But I'm only human! I'm always going to make those comparisons.

                            1. re: embee

                              At this point in time, I would not spend that kind of money for a dinner for two persons. I have other priorities and no amount of convincing could prompt me to do otherwise, even though I can well afford the cost of such a meal... I find it morally reprehensible...I will admit to doing it during the 1980's and now am left with the thought of "What were we thinking!"

                              1. re: pearlD

                                I've been having a lot of "What was I thinking!?" thoughts lately. Basically every time I open a newspaper these days. I reckon if I had have been cagey with my cash over the years I could be retired now -- in my 40's. Oh well, 20-20 hindsight. I'm doing lots more cooking at home these days. Bad for restaurants, good for my culinary skillset.

                            2. re: CoffeeAddict416

                              FYI, the tasting menu at Per Se is $275 per person + tax, excluding wine. I don't think it is cheap to eat in Toronto compared to other cities in Asian.

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                ah of course... the Asia factor is another thing
                                I remember watching the episode of of No reservations in HK where he went to Bo Innovation and couldn't believe what he was getting for $100 cdn

                                And my parents' trip to Seoul to visit the motherland.... they ate like royalty for next to nothing compared to here. Korean dishes anyway

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  I think the problem is that most of us who have traveled abroad to dine are now a bit jaded when it comes to Toronto. Not only in terms of fine dining, but most other styles of cuisine. Chowhound itself, in a way, represents a constant lament for unavailable products (best sushi? best burrito? authentic poutine? best *, etc.). Toronto does some things well, and some things are reasonably priced (or cheap) in comparison to other places. Toronto itself will never be Paris, Tokyo or NYC, at least, not in my imagination. Without the right environment, we won't get the same things people would be accustomed to having in other places, at least on the fine dining front.

                                  I doubt I would spend $500 of my own money for dinner for two in Toronto. In France or Japan, it's a different story. Not only that, but you will get food that rivals or betters the same thing here for a fraction of the price.

                                2. re: CoffeeAddict416

                                  It was for two at George. A 7 course taster; we got a bottle and not the wine pairing. But we did get two glasses of champagne after. With tax and tip, it came to actually $490 if I remember correctly.