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Feb 22, 2009 08:39 AM

Plateau of Dining in Toronto?

Is it me or is Toronto a little stagnant right now?

Is anywhere doing anything really interesting right now or is it just the same-old?

I can't seem to find an experience anymore in this city.

Recently I've eaten at L'Unita, Nota Bene & JKWB. All of which were ok...but seemed like nothing special.


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  1. rich_ie,
    I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with you on the state of cuisine in Toronto but I feel like in this economy, we should just be crossing our fingers that the places we can rely on can stay afloat. Just my two cents.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Yum2MyTum

      I must agree that stagnant or not we certainly should be crossing our fingers as stated by 'yum2my tum'.......this economy looks to get worse before getting doesn't bode well for the Restauranteurs and I'm certain that there are more than enough places who must be praying to the 'food gods' for survival...I don't think any of them (high end included) can rest on their laurels and menu's will have to be adjusted accordingly.

      1. re: ChalkBoy

        I did visit the hoof and thought it was good. I will return.

        I agree with the other replies, most certainly it's a tough time.

        I just have not been "wowed" for a while.

        Fingers crossed.

      2. i would also give a shout-out to Harbord Room.

        Harbord Room
        89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

        1. Toronto's restaurant scene is in major pain right now. This recession hit during our typical slow season, so it's been a double blow for a lot of restaurants. There was a conversation I read somewhere and they interviewed about 8 restauranteurs throughout the city and the only restaurant not seeming to feel it was terroni's. It would take a brave soul to open in these times. The two most exciting openings however would be Union and there has been buzz of Gordon Ramsay opening a spot within the next year. I think that will force the Toronto restaurant scene to raise it's bar a few levels.

          1. I also wasn't impressed by meals at L'Unita or Nota Bene. The fried perch I ordered at JKWB in July was great- the other dishes were good, but not too memorable a couple months later.

            I have to say I'm getting tired of this charcuterie trend.

            One of the more interesting meals that I enjoyed this past summer was served at Zee Grill. Good quality seafood prepared in somewhat inventive/unusual ways and surprisingly good desserts. Maybe not wow-worthy, but I liked my last meal at Zee better than other recent meals at various upscale restos around town. Zee isn't a place you should go if you're looking for hipsters or charcuterie.

            11 Replies
            1. re: phoenikia

              mmm I had the fried perch at JKWB in July as well.. I dream about it still to this day.

              Ame looks like it could be an interesting new place to hit up in Toronto - at least for something a little different.

              1. re: phoenikia

                I couldn't agree more about Toronto diners recent obsession with charcuterie-I've been eating charcuterie since I was born. I do however understand the whole concept of nose to tail, so I applaud chefs that take that approach. But honestly, while well made charcuterie is delicious, its really not particularly exciting nor innovative. I am still waiting for that chef here willing to break the mold rather than follow the herd. I'm tired of eating copies of Bobby Flay dishes, or any other celebrity chef for that matter. I agree with OnDaGo-I think its more a matter of the local demographic that is holding back the evolution of a truly creative and forward thinking dining scene here. And to clarify, I do believe there are many people posting on this board that "get it" but the mass dining public in Toronto still has a long way to go...


                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                  Who and how many people exactly are copying these Bobby Flay dishes that you've grown so tired of?

                2. re: phoenikia

                  I totally agree with you.
                  L'Unita would never return, nor Nota Bene, but when you see the accolades on this board (especially for Nota Bene, etc) it is understandable that we settle for less.
                  I also am a fan of Zee Grill, as it is consistent and good, as is Zucca.
                  Not adventurous, not $$$$ .and they never disappoint..
                  Most of our high end restaurants are "safe", and dull.
                  This is why I prefer Chinese, Japanese, and various ethnic foods in T.O., and save my fine dining for elsewhere.

                  1. re: erly

                    Me too erly-that's why I travel abroad when I want fine dining. Its just really not worth it here. Its pretty depressing when I have to spend my dollars on a plane ticket just to eat something that will blow me away.


                    1. re: erly

                      I am not wowed by food at Nota Bene too, but found it pretty good, price is ok. Not in a worry to return, but consider it a good choice if I am in the area.

                      There are fine dining style chinese and Japanese food, but it is hard to find in Toronto. I think it also depends on personal experience and exposure to certain cuisine. There are people who fly to HK from Toronto for better cantonese food or fly to Japan for better Japanese food because those in there is not good enough or lacking !

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        And there are people who fly in from New York just to eat at Kaji yet most Torontonians will not drive to Etobicoke to eat there..

                        1. re: OnDaGo

                          Well, I have to say this is a bit weird for people who fly in from New York 'just' to eat at Kaji ...

                          1. re: skylineR33

                            I knew a guy who used to work there and there was a guy who would fly in once a month to eat there... But the point is people here complain about exciting menus yet there are people around the world who would love to have some of the restaurants we have. But in typical Canadian fashion we put them down and say others do it better so why bother going... which only adds to the issue.

                            1. re: OnDaGo

                              But you are using Kaji as an example, I have not seen anyone on this board put Kaji down, people say there are comparable, better variety, much more choice, better quality and selection of Japanese food one can find in NYC when compared to Toronto, so why bother flying all the way from NYC to here for Japanese food, unless your friend knows Kaji in person and get special treatment, otherwise I don't see the point. Kaji is good, I suggest people in Toronto to go to Kaji, but not to someone who is from NYC.

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                Kaji is a place I've been desperate to try for a LONG time now but I've never been able to find someone willing to go with me. I think its high time for me to go, and perhaps alone.