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Mar 12, 2009 05:04 PM

Pls Recommend: One-of-a-kind "eating out" experience?

My fiance's birthday is coming up in April, and I am looking to take him out for dinner in downtown Toronto. I'm looking for recommendations on restaurants with Chef's Menu, as well as amazing services & a special "eating out" experience.

A little background:
My fiance & I loves to try new restaurant, and personally, my favourte so far is the tasting menu at Rain. I love the detail to attention, and how the owners would personally explain each dish. Japanese Tapanyaki "acting" is cheesy, and I want to stay away from that.

$150 per person. (max approx. $200 with wine/drinks).

Looking for:
Attentive service from staff (VIP-like treatment), modern style cusine (not neccessary fusion), chefs menu / tasting menu, and maybe something like sitting by the bar & watch our food cook (but not japanese tapanyaki!).

Is there any place you all would recommend?? Thanks so much! (this is my first post!!!)


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  1. How about: since it sounds like you are interested in asianish resturants, it is in etobiko (sp) though...

    1. The private kitchen table at Colborne Lane would fit the bill, with the table in a small room off the kitchen (which is downstairs from the restaurant) and a large window looking into the kitchen. It's a 15-course tasting menu and you get very attentive service and likely a drop in from Claudio Aprile, if he's in that night. The only problem is the price point. I don't know what it is now, but I think it was $169/person a couple of years ago.

      1. Perigee or Splendido

        55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A3C4, CA

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

          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            Haha. To the point of alcohol poisoning?

            Kaji or Splendido fit the bill. I don't think I'd recommend Colborne Lane; we've had a few lackluster experiences there. It's sort of the default "molecular gastronomy" place in Toronto, but I haven't found it to be exciting in either molecular gastronomy or food in general.

            1. re: tjr

              i disagree. i really enjoy colborne lane - it is a complete dining experience and i've found the food to be fantastic. i would also second the suggestion for perigee which is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. as far as tastings go, have you tried george? i think it is perhaps overpriced for the quality of food, but it is beautiful.

              for romantic/special dinners, i must say that i am a sucker for the cornerhouse. it may be traditional, a little old school, etc. but god, it's almost like not being in toronto and every time i go there, i leave feeling completely satisfied in every way.

              1. re: blindbunny

                If you've never experienced molecular gastronomy anywhere else (and therefore would be disappointed with CL), then maybe, I can see your point. Perigee has gone downhill, and George is for sure overpriced compared to somewhere like Splendido which is not only better in every respect (especially during the winter), but definitely worth the money.

                1. re: tjr

                  I don't think of Colborne Lane as a molecular gastronomy restaurant. Yes, they use a few MG techniques, but that's not really what the food is about. It's not trying to be another Alinea. There are interesting blends of flavours and textures in every dish and for a special occasion, I think the 15 course tasting is pretty memorable.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    Which leads me to believe they don't really know what they want to do when I'm eating there. Part molecular, part something else, dishes that really, really don't work, some do, but a lot don't. Kind of like a Pierre Gagnaire where the chance of a dish succeeding is much lower (for me, at least). The dishes that tend to work are tried and true. CL may be relatively unique in Toronto, but I haven't had great experiences there.

                    OP mentioned he liked Rain though, so he might like the Asian fusion dishes at CL.

                    1. re: tjr

                      Fair enough -- the best dishes I had there were the seafood dishes, which were mostly Asian fusion. The wok-fried squid, the miso black cod, the tuna tartare, etc. The worst were the "experiments", like the beet plate.

                      But I guess I don't see why using some MG techniques is a problem, even though you aren't intending to be a molecular "destination" like El Bulli. If Aprile thinks of the techniques as just another tool in his arsenal as a chef, I'm ok with that.

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        It's not a problem; I just think the focus of the dishes is lost too often, and that the use of MG techniques doesn't augment many of the dishes. In many cases, it even takes away from what would have been good about it.

                        I don't hate CL; it is just way too hit-or-miss for me to really enjoy. I've been several times and was usually underwhelmed. The service there is fabulous though, and a lot of the food looks beautiful (even if the flavour isn't there).

          2. Maybe The Fifth... the room is really gorgeous and the ride in the freight elevator is kinda worth the price of admission. Also, they've scored a new house manager who is supposed to be the bees knees. On my last trip the food was a bit of a disappoint, but I'm constantly tempted to go back because I love the room so much (and I've had good luck with the kitchen on other trips).

            I also really like Colborne Lane. And I'd love to get to Kaji, but Mr. Rabbit is all weird about eating sushi outside of Japan (annoyingly so).