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Jan 23, 2009 03:00 PM

Once-a-year Treat Suggestion?

I go out once a year with a group of cheerful and curious friends for a February dinner where cost is no object, for a tasting menu if possible. So far we've gone to the late Susur and Avalon, Perigée (under the original chef), Canoe, North 44 and Oro. Our faves so far have been Susur and Perigée. This year we're thinking about Nota Bene, Pangaea and a few other possibilities. Does anyone have a passionate endorsement for someplace we should go that will offer us an unforgettably pleasant and interesting experience?

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  1. i think everyone will suggest Jacobs steak house if you guys are into steak

    1. If you've never been to Scaramouche, I would suggest giving it a try. The service and food are always good, and the view is one of the nicest in Toronto. Since it looks like they are going to lose the space by the end of 2009, I would give it a try before it's too late.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Phoenix

        Apparently the reno that would have evicted Scaramouche has been cancelled, so they are still there 'until further notice'.
        I also find the tasting menu there a little more traditional - more in the North 44 and Canoe vein.
        My recommendation would be either Splendido - which IMO sets the standard - or if you're more experimental then Colborne Lane is worth considering - although you may have to take the private room, because the main floor really doesn't encourage interaction.

        1. re: Phoenix

          I second the recommendation for Scaramouche, I've always enjoyed every meal I've had there. Yes, their tasting menu is more pedestrian, but it's still quite good.

          I've been dying to try to tasting at Colborne Lane, something else you might want to consider.

          Nota Bene is a great restaurant, but it doesn't seem "special" enough for what you're looking for.

        2. I would book the kitchen table room at Colborne Lane. It's a small room next to the kitchen with a large window looking into it. The tasting menu is 15 courses, which took our party well over 4 hours. It was great fun and we all enjoyed our evening immensely. I think the room can seat up to 8.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TorontoJo

            Ditto on the Scaramouche recommendation!!!

          2. definately Splendido if you want top notch service and amazing food, Colborne Lane if you want a little pizzaz and a slightly more fun and relaxed atmosphere. Scaramouche compared to these two is... meh.

            1 Reply
            1. re: justpete

              Splendido is just awful. The only amazing thing about the experience is the high price and the low value.

            2. Don't know if it's open in the winter or whether you could even get a reservation with such short notice. My recommendation would be to dine at Eigensinn Farm. Best meal I've had in Canada.

              5 Replies
              1. re: cynalan

                We've been dreaming of Eigensinn. Maybe for our 10th one? We've also thought hard about Scaramouche and were poised to go last year when we heard they might close, then put it off when we heard they wouldn't. Thank you folks so much for your suggestions; you've certainly put Splendido and perhaps especially Colborne Lane on the list of possibilities, at least as far as I'm concerned.

                1. re: SarahBHood

                  You should try Eigensinn. We did it about 5-6 years ago. At that time it was $150 pp. I think I hear that it is now about $275... and that does not include wine. It's actually a BYOB. You can call about a day in advance for the menu to match your wines. The meal was 10 courses. Michael Stadtlander and his wife Nobuko are terrific hosts. When we booked the dinner, it took about a year to get a reservation as at that time they were only doing dinner twice per week. In addition, the restaurant is actually the dining room of his farm house... only seats about 20 or so. So stop dreaming and book it. You will not regret it.

                  You will not go wrong with Scaramouche or Splendido. Colborne Lane is on my to do list as well. I agree with the comment about Nota Bene. Although it is one of my favourites, I would not classify it as a destination spot. It provides good food in a trendy location with a vibe. Absolutely worth doing but I think the other choices stated in other messages would be better.

                  1. re: SarahBHood

                    Good. I think those are the best two restaurants in Toronto. Splendido can run you anywhere from $200-$700... it's a rather wide range. The service is unparalleled in Toronto and no restaurant even comes close (just please don't go on an off night - Mon/Tues for a special occasion). The food is simple and incredible, and the flavours are all amazing. I'm a huge proponent of this restaurant, and it's by far my favourite in Toronto.

                    I've only been to Colborne lane once, some say it's "Tacky" or "gimmicky", but I would propose that's because they don't understand molecular gastronomy. The food was excellent and interesting, and although their techniques may be somewhat common, but I still find it worthwhile. Service was good, but nothing like Splendido's. However, the atmosphere is slightly more funky and enjoyable, where as Splendido is somewhat more plain and only slightly 'uppity'.

                    1. re: SarahBHood

                      I would also agree with the sentiment regarding Nota Bene. It's more of a lunch destination or casual dinner without expectation of good service, that's slightly nicer than most other places, but is reasonably priced for the quality of the food.

                      1. re: SarahBHood

                        If it's a choice between Splendido and Colborne Lane and money is not an option, choose Splendido. I found Colborne Lane to be rather unimpressive. Perhaps if you've never done the molecular gastronomy thing it might be interesting, but if you have, you'll probably find it to be a bit trite and repetitive. No real evolution or advancement of the cuisine.