Planning upcoming T.O. trip - opinions wanted
Hi all. You know the drill, long-time chowhound, first-time poster.
I haven't been to the big city in many years and I'm afraid I'm out of the loop. Therefore, I have a few questions. I did a few quick searches and couldn't find anything regarding my queries.
Keep in mind, I will be exclusively downtown, so I'm looking for places in that area.
1) I'm looking for a few good bars/lounges. Basically, something a little upscale but still somewhat casual. And preferably with reasonable prices so that a cocktail doesn't cost me $15. I've heard great things about the Hyatt's Roof Lounge, but am somewhat concerned about price.
2) Speaking of the Hyatt, what do you folks think is the best hotel bar? This will have large bearing on where I make my reservations. Besides the Park Hyatt, I've been looking at The Grand Hotel (Citrus Lounge), Westin Harbour Castle (Chartroom Bar and Lounge), Intercontinental (Azure Lounge) and the SoHo Met (Senses Bar). Does anyone have any experiences regarding these specific establishments?
3) How about the best Jazz bars/clubs in town? Blues? I've heard that the Reservoir Lounge and Healey's were both good each respective genre.
4) I know the steakhouse question has been covered many, many times, but I may as well ask while I'm here. Where's the best place to go downtown for a good steak for under $40-50?
Thanks very much for your time. Cheers.
Wow, thanks guys. So much info here to digest (no pun intended).
As far as the steakhouses go, I'm not sure if I want to chance H60 as I've heard that it doesn't quite live up to its price tag. Senior's and Barberians are both definites and I might give The Fifth a look if I'm in the area on a Thursday.
As for the bar scene, specifically the Roof Lounge, $12 for a Martini seems a little more manageable than I expected (as long as it's a good stiff drink). At least it's not $14-$15 like at the Library at the Royal York.
jlunar, I take it you're a Bond fan? Any good "Bondian" places you can think of for me check out that won't break the bank?
Truthfully, my friends are more the Bond fans. But since they got all dressed up in suits, (and one with the loose bow tie!), I got into my full-length gown and we did it up for fun. I must admit, the sides and everything at H60 wasn't worth it the first time I went, but this time around was much improved, (lobster mash). I found the steak to be good both times, the prime to be just okay. Porterhouse was the best of the lot, imo.
The only other potential Bond-esque place to hit might be The Windsor Arms - they have a bar off to the side of the main dining room. Maybe the resto in the Royal York as well. Everything else can be too clubby. Brant, Maro, etc...
I'm not a hotel bar/jazz club kind of guy so I'll let others handle that one...as for a reasonably priced steakhouse (so no Houstons, Bardi's, Morton's etc) I've always liked Seniors Steak House 1397 Yonge Street Toronto, ON M4T 1Y4 (416) 924-8366 just below St Clair. Upstairs is cozy and fun and waiter Kostas will keep you well entertained and informed on his opinions on politics, business and the world in general.
The Grand is definitely in a sketchy area on .. Jarvis? I think.
For awesome steak, if you can spring for an extra $5 or so, I'd suggest Harbour Sixty. I also like their bar immensely. Did a "Bond" night and drank Vespers all night. Not super cheap on the drinks though. You can check prices and see if it works for you. http://www.harboursixty.com/ While it is a slightly higher price-point, I find really good value for quality and size of meat.
I like The Fifth for location, as it has a rooftop patio and jazz on Thursdays. Again, do a price-check to see if it fits your budget. http://www.thefifthgrill.com/home.html
The Hyatt rooftop lounge is really great, but can be pricey; however, if you're a beer drinker, the prices are actually not too bad (I'm thinking around $7 a beer, but can't say for certain as it's been a while since I've been there).
I can't really comment on other hotels, other than to say that the Grand is in a somewhat sketchy neighbourhood and the Westin's a bit isolated (not that it's that far from things, but there's not much directly around it).
1) Roof Lounge is nice but very pricey. I think as far as hotel bars go, One at Hazelton Lanes has a 'sceney' bar, the Library Bar at the Royal York has some old school charm, and Gladstone's Melody Bar is always great for a fun/casual night out.
I've entered most of the bars that you've named and I have nothing particularly positive to say.
Upscale -- I would recommend checking out the King West area if you like the after-work banker scene (Spice Route? Not for the food. But some people like the scene... and Brant House and Atelier are in the same area), and West Queen West (_around_ the Drake are a bunch of fun places) if you like a more laid back vibe.
Jazz bar: I second the Rex. There's also Trane Studio in the Annex (Bathurst north of Bloor) which has good music and is supportive of artists.
I'll leave the steakhouse recommendations to others...
Enjoy your time downtown!
I consider downtown anything South of Bloor (or thereabouts, anyway). Let's say about 4-6 blocks past Bloor is as far North as I go.
Thanks for the tips thus far, guys. Shame the Roof Lounge is so pricey. I'll likely still check it out, though, especially if I'm staying at the Hyatt.
The Roof Lounge is pricey, but you can keep it in check if you keep your order simple. While their signature cocktails on the menu can run $16-17, a Manhattan will run you more like $12.
For jazz, I haven't had any of the food, but the cocktails (and music) at Reservoir Lounge are good. But the Rex should be a little lighter on your wallet.
1. I love the Hyatt bar, not so much the Citrus in the Grand... the area is kind of sketchy (Jarvis and Dundas). I haven't been to the rest
2. I always recommend the Reservoir Lounge, they have good food too. The Rex is an institution as well, for jazz.
3. I like Barberian's for steak