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Mar 15, 2009 11:28 PM

Toronto's Best Restaurants - Not listed in Toronto Life

So I guess some of us are aware of Toronto Life's release of it's "best restaurants". Here's the list in case...

#1 canoe
eigensinn farm
via allegro
sushi kaji
north 44
langdon hall
auberge du pommier
Colborne Lane
Bite Me! (previously Thuet

The purpose of this post is maybe we could share restaurants that we think belong on this list. I am sure we all don't agree on TL's list, but for the most part, most people on CH would recommend these restaurants because they're "safe". Except Eigensinn Farm to me seems a little far out to be considered Toronto. So, yes, what restaurants should be on this list? Amaya, George, Lee, One, Perigee, Globe?

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  1. If you are dismissing Eigensinn Farm then you also have to dismiss langdon hall which is in Cambridge... Also Kaji & Hashimoto are more then a subway ride away...

    12 Replies
    1. re: OnDaGo

      So whats your criteria?

      CMA? GTA? Metro?

      Kaji is easily accessible via the subway + bus.

        1. re: radiopolitic

          CMA vs. GTA? A little esoteric, no? I think the CMA excludes only Burlington and the eastern part of Durham Region.

          1. re: acd123

            Esoteric, maybe but I rather have some sort of a clear definition of what were considering Toronto. I'm all for combining the two but everyone has their own parameters.

            CMA also includes Bradford, West Gwillimbury, Mono and Orangeville which are not included in the GTA.

            1. re: radiopolitic

              LOL. That's right. I didn't put in the exact parameters.

              The difference in the populations (and the number of significant restaurant for that matter) of the CMA and GTA is negligible. Like probably under 5%. Do you work for StatsCan?

              1. re: acd123

                Haha, I've worked for them in the past but mostly contractually. I'm just a geography/stats nerd in my spare time.

                You're quite right and to be honest I don't think I've ever even eaten in Mono. I should start a blog on the culinary delights of CMA, non-GTA restaurants, lol.

                1. re: radiopolitic

                  Just between you and me, I'm a bit of a georgraphy geek too.

          2. re: radiopolitic

            I'm glad some other people seem to have taken issue with Toronto Life's inclusion of restaurants outside the GTA. When I first read this article, I was thinking of writing in to Toronto Life and asking them to define their criteria. As a reader of *Toronto* Life, I don't particularly want to hear about places outside of a TTC-able range.

            That being said, I found a lot of their recommendations predictable and, yes, "safe". I was much more interested in their accompanying section on the best *new* restaurants.

            1. re: abhryll

              I couldn't agree more with the idea of presenting new restaurants. As deserving as the top spots are, I just kept thinking this is deju vu when I first went over the lists. I guess character and quirk aren't always on the criteria list -- Gale's Snack Bar would never make it.

              This month's offering overall (the list, restaurant guide, combined with the feature stories) from TL was so...typical. Safe, status quo, middle-class, wannabe.

              1. re: abhryll

                Personally, limiting myself to restaurants w/i TTC's footprint is something I don't wish to do. So there are people out there that appreciate reviews on places outside of metro.

                If it's good food, I'm more than willing to travel.

            2. re: OnDaGo

              Maybe they should both be removed. I don't find it easy to drive up to Eigensinn and actually drive back after drinking. We stayed at a nearby B&B twice. It;s nowwhere near Toronto.

              1. re: OnDaGo

                For you, maybe. I can walk to Kaji.

              2. I think Amaya is undervalued because Indian cuisine in general is undervalued. I also like George very much.

                Perigee has not been the same since 1. Pat Rily left, 2. They installed the guard around the kitchen, 3. they instituted a la carte.

                Meanwhile, One is not even as good as North 44, and some people don't even think the latter belongs on the list. Similarly, Lee and Globe, at least in my opinion, do not deserve to take the place of any restaurant on the list. Lee particularly is uninspiring. Maybe a good place to have a fun night, but strictly in terms of culinary achievement I have never been impressed.

                1. Blacktree (Burlington)
                  Truffles (4 Seasons)
                  Lai Wah Heen

                  Treadwell's (no further than Eigensinn)

                  21 Replies
                  1. re: estufarian

                    I've been meaning to taste Kirk's menu, since Crawford departed but have been "lazy" about it. Your opinion removes that apathy!

                    1. re: Apprentice

                      I was never a Crawford fan! Stopped going while she was there.
                      And I thought Lora left last year too (didn't see her there). But the key is that Truffles has always been able to survive turnover. And the service is (mostly) faultless. Their 'tasting wines by the glass' has always been one of my favourites. And suprisingly reasonably priced.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        You must consider that even though Eigensinn Farm is not in Toronto, I would guess that the majority of its clients come from Toronto to eat there.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          If only the food wasn't bad every time I've been in the past two years...

                          1. re: tjr

                            I've NEVER had bad food there. But whether it's worth the price is another matter.

                            1. re: estufarian

                              It's not the price I'm concerned about. Everything I've had has been bland, uninspiring and pretty much not worth eating. I've had overcooked fish, tough beef, etc. Truffles was a restaurant that I really liked before, but now I wish I didn't have to go when people suggest it.

                              The service is always good, though.

                              1. re: estufarian

                                I've never had amazing food at Truffles but the last time I went, I did have pretty lousy food -- I don't think I'll go back.

                            2. re: estufarian

                              I would have wholeheartedly agreed up until my last visit. That was horrid. But I guess every restaurant has its 'off day'. I guess they've probably lost a customer until I get around to being adventurous again.


                          2. re: estufarian

                            If Treadwell's is in the running then I strongly second the nomination!

                            1. re: estufarian

                              Treadwell's - now there's a reason to travel a wee bit for a nice experience: Eating on the water!

                              Something, for some reason, you can't really do in Toronto-on-the-Lake (altho, there is one waterfront place I'm afraid to mention...)

                              1. re: Sui_Mai

                                What waterfront place? Do mention. One of my favorite dining experience was this restaurant where you would order whatever you wanted, they'll then take you on a yacht and go around for a few hours. Of course that was halfway around the world. There wouldn't be by chance a place in within a 2 hour drive of Toronto that does something like this is there?

                                1. re: stonedtoronto

                                  Maybe not a yacht but they've got a nice patio by the water -

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

                                  1. re: stonedtoronto

                                    It actually just recently died. It was the Waterfront Cafe. It was attached to a tiny tennis club beside the Rogers sugar plant.

                                    Food was so-so. They did a decent burger, but the sound of popping tennis balls, the lake being10 meters from your table plus a sunset reflecting off the Islands was a rare experience here. It will be missed by us this summer.

                                    There is a waterfront place in the Humber River condoville area. I've been there a lot (mother-in-law lives there) and they have a large patio meters from the bay, but it is rather lacking in charm, sits on a street between you and the lake and has pretty lousy food. Just putting it out there, stonedtoronto, if you really need a waterfront dining fix.

                                    1. re: Sui_Mai

                                      Are you 100% sure about that? Granted there's construction all around but when I drive by on Queens Quay, there 's a sign that says Waterside - Open.

                                      1. re: JamieK

                                        Not a hundred percent, no. Someone told me the club and restaurant were gone. They could have been wrong - I hope so.

                                        Thanks for alerting me and everyone else if this was misinformation.

                                        1. re: Sui_Mai

                                          well I'm not entirely sure either. Like I said, there's a sign and the website's still up. I guess anyone who really wants to enjoy a cold beer and a sunset on the patio should call first to check.

                                          If it's still open and the construction work doesn't make the experience completely unpleasant, I guess this place is an even more hidden gem than ever!

                                2. re: estufarian

                                  We finally made the trip to Blacktree. It was very good, thanks for the recommendation!

                                  1. re: Apprentice

                                    Thanks for the feedback - as (I think) I mentioned before it was my most exciting find of 2008. Probably because it so exceeded my expectations - and repeat visits have confirmed it's a serious place. No, not the best in Toronto (plus) - but certainly a notch above several of the places originally listed.

                                    1. re: estufarian

                                      Chef Matteo's pedigree includes working under David and Susur Lee he mentioned a bunch of others as well so it appears he's got a solid foundation to build with.

                                      We ordered foie gras & duck confit for apps, lamb & black cod mains, chocolate ganache with earl grey ice cream for dessert. I didn't take notes but off memory the foie was seared with a quail egg and also had a poriton of foie pate that was excellent. The lamb was cooked well, but there was a pimenton based sauce (I'm guessing I never bothered to ask) that was too overpowering (i.e. smoky) for the lamb. Otherwise everything else was very good.

                                      If I were to describe the chef's style I'd call it neo-classcial or noveau french (food is grounded in french cooking, but supplemented with the application modern cooking techniques and hints of international ingredients).

                                      If the restaurant was closer I'd make a second trip and presumably a few more but it will have to be an ocassional visit list.

                                      1. re: Apprentice

                                        Ignore the pedigree! I think he just worked there while a student - certainly no serious cooking at any of the 'big' places.
                                        However, as always, it's what he delivers that counts, and I'd put him as more modern (if anything). The porcini ice-cream I had there was outstanding. His chestnut soup with vanilla was almost a life-altering experience. But then I tend to seek out new 'flavours'. For most people his strength is probably in game dishes.

                                        1. re: estufarian

                                          LOL....yes his delivery is what counts!!! In case anyone is wondering if my opinion of the food was biased by the knowledge of his "pedigree"; I only inquired after eating the meal.

                                          And for game lovers, he had horse tenderloin as the game special for the evening.

                                3. Here's a question: How many of you have been to all of the above mentioned restaurants? I haven't, but aspire to.

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: OnDaGo

                                      I've also been to 7, but they're hardly places I frequent (and 4 of the 7 I've only been to once).

                                  1. Maybe we should ask why Via Allegro is on the list? Every time we have been there we are amazed at how this place shows up on "Best" lists. Have we been unlucky or do they have special"reviewer" powder they but in all the critics food to get these great reviews?

                                    1 Reply