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Birthday - Sultan's Tent vs. Other Venue

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Hi everyone,
I have a rather large birthday dinner (23 people) booked for the end of this month at the Sultan's Tent. However, the posts on this board suggest that the food is horrendous and overpriced! I didn't realize that the menu was so sneaky - it says prix fixe but says "add $" after many of the items.
Can someone please suggest a good place for dinner that I can probably book for a Sunday night on short notice (the 29th)? I am debating if I should switch venues now...

Thanks :D

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  1. Do not delay! Please find an alternate venue. I went for a birthday celebration a couple of years ago and the food was just terrible. I also found the bellydance portion of the evening cheesy and a bit embarassing, as the not-so-talented dancers come right to the table and encourage you to get up and shake your stuff.

    Are you looking for something specifically downtown or is it the Moroccan theme you were after? I wonder if you might have a nicer time at Cava, where you can ask the kitchen to prepare a selection of small plates to accomodate your large party. Granted, this could wind up being quite pricey. The nice thing about the tapas concept is that items would flow throughout the evening, rather than 23 apps and entrees, which could really bog down the kitchen. An equally pricey but similar concept could be a success at Chiado, using the small plates menu, or else Torito.

    Alternately, if you're after the bellydancing for a little dinner-time entertainment, the Red Violin Steakhouse on the Danforth is a potential option, though I haven't been there myself. I believe it is an Argentinean-style place where servers wander around serving all-you-can-eat proteins from the grill. I've been told the salads, sides and desserts are buffet-style. I'm not sure if that would appeal to your party in the slightest, but at least there would be no issue with handling a group the size of yours. I believe the bellydancing is available on Fridays and Saturdays, but you could inquire about Sundays.

    9 Replies
    1. re: 1sweetpea

      thanks!
      Well I'm mainly looking for just a place with reasonably good food for not-so-sneaky prices. I don't really care about entertainment, since I'll be surrounded by good friends and (hopefully) good food, which always guarantees a good time! I'll definitely look into the ones you mentioned!! :D

      1. re: 1sweetpea

        looking into booking Cava now...they'll call me back tmrw :D The reviews sound great and it should definitely be cheaper and yummier than Sultan's Tent. The guy on the phone said that it'll be around $50pp give or take a bit for wine

        Do you remember anything about the atmosphere?

        Thanks again :D I love chowhound, it's so helpful!

        1. re: ekim256

          if you were looking for middle eastern type fare, there is Karoon, an Iranian place on Yonge and Clarke (I believe) - they have belly dancing and the atmosphere is very comfortable, families with children and grandparents are there all the time....

          1. re: ekim256

            Count me in on those relieved that you asked this question in time and are not going to spoil a birthday with a visit to the Sultan's Tent. I hope that wherever you end up, you have a fantastic and charming evening.

            1. re: vorpal

              I'm going to retract my suggestion of the Red Violin, after having read today's negative posts. As for Cava, I haven't had a chance to go personally, since I now live in another city. However, I visit frequently, so I try to stay on top of the city's best restaurants (and dives) to satisfy my own foodie needs. I sent my SO's parents there after an afternoon theatre performance one weekend. They were great fans of Avalon and I was interested in exposing them to the Spanish tapas concept. They came away from the experience raving about the place. They were overwhelmed by the choices on the menu and invited the server to bring them an assortment of choices. They loved it so much they went back a month or so later. Their only disappointment the second time was that upon inviting the server to surprise them with an assortment of plates, what appeared to be the very same assortment as the first visit was presented. They had no complaints about the food, atmosphere or service, but they clearly should have given the server a bit of direction, or at least tried to recall some of the dishes they had enjoyed the first time, to avoid a complete do-over of their first visit.

              This shouldn't be an issue for you and your group at all, though. You might want a brief rundown of what dishes they'll serve your group for $50/pp. Make sure you're happy with the selection, unless you're not picky (like me!).

              1. re: 1sweetpea

                definitely NOT picky!! Sounds like everything is yummy, so I should be happy with whatever comes out :D

                mmmmm...

              2. re: vorpal

                you're sweet, thanks :D

              3. re: ekim256

                Cava is good - but watch the prices - I've NEVER managed to get out of there even close to $50pp - typically closer to $100 (sometimes more).
                Last time I checked, their wine prices had horrific markups - and that's why I haven't been recently (one wine that cost $15.95 was over $80 on their list - but that was the most extreme example).
                And make sure that you get an 'all-in' estimate (including taxes and gratuity) and what happens if someone orders 'extras' e.g. bottled water, coffee - that advice applies to ALL places you approach - not picking on Cava here.

                1. re: estufarian

                  thanks - great point!
                  And whoa @ that wine mark up, I'll be sure to give a warning beforehand to my friends :-)

                  I figure that I'll see if I can work out a ~$50pp menu, and if people want to order more to compliment their meal then I'm sure that that won't be an issue. wee!

            2. cool...so I talked to the manager (Paul) and he is making us a menu...yay excited, I'll report back with pictures after I eat there! yummm