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Toronto recs for a Chicago CHer

Hello, all,

I will be in Toronto on Sunday and (maybe) Monday night and am seeking great spots. I've been in Toronto for business for a few nights over the past months -- highlights included Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar; lowlight was Panorama (but what a view!).

Looking for seasonal, ingredient-driven restaurants. I'll likely be dining solo and I like small plates restaurants / high-end gastropubs a lot. I might go upscale one night: the menus for Splendido and Nota Bene looked great, but both are closed on Sunday.

It might be nice to explore Toronto's neighborhoods beyond the immediate downtown. I'll be staying at either the Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, or Le Meridien but am happy to walk long distances.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Kaiseki Sakura on Church just north of Wellesley. Exquisite modern Japanese (no sushi) tapas-style. Open Sunday and Monday dinner only.

    http://www.kaisekisakura.com/

    1. I like Kaiseki Sakura too (although they were closed the last time I tried on a Monday).
      Sundays are difficult. Globe Bistro is reliable. And Cava has zero corkage on Sunday - so if you can find a good wine that's a real consideration (It's about 15 mins (uphill) from Summerhill liquor store).
      Mondays, my go to places are Nyood or Kultura (same ownership); or Madeline or Lee (also same ownership - but different ownership from previous two). Choice depends on style of food you prefer and noise level (=age of clientele).

      6 Replies
      1. re: estufarian

        The menus at Kaiseki Sakura and Cava both look great! Can you tell me a little about their respective neighborhoods (e.g. residential v. commercial; walking distance from hotel, etc.)?

        About to look up Madeline and Lee and Nyood and Kultura . . .

        1. re: Kaelin

          Canoe has a fab waterfront view....but not open Sat/Sun...is open Mon...local ingredients...also Note Bene....Miranda

          1. re: Kaelin

            Kaiseki is in the heart of (gay) Village, so it'll be lively with lots of people-watchers on patios and the like. Very friendly and safe neighbourhood downtown and a quick bus ride over from College station. Cava is in mid-town and is in a moderately busy area, but later in the night, I can see it being quiet around there. It's still fronting on Yonge, the major street that bisects Toronto's East and West, so when I say quiet, it most certainly isn't dead.

            Madeline and Lee are right next door to each other on King West, a busy, almost upscale area (but still gentrifying).

            1. re: jlunar

              The OP is staying in Yorkville. It's a 10 minute walk to Kaiseki Sakura at best.

              1. re: ChalkBoy

                I don't know how fast you walk!! I consider myself a speeder walker and it would take me at least 20 minutes from Yorkville to Church and Wellesley.

        2. Welcome, fellow Chicagoan! One place I think you'll enjoy is Chiado/Senhor Antonio's Wine Bar. Chiado is the finest (IMO) Portuguese restaurant in North America, and I don't recall any equivalent in Chicago. Senhor Antonio is its sister restaurant (same space, really -- think Frontera Grill and Topolobampo) and they offer a wonderful bar menu of Portuguese small dishes. I would recommend sitting at the bar, asking for some advice about their truly amazing Portuguese wine lies and ordering a bunch of small plates. You can order from the Chiado menu as well if you want (insanely fresh fish from the Atlantic).

          Chiado is around College and Ossington, a short cab ride from the hotels you list. It's a few blocks west of Little Italy, in an area that is either Little Portugal or Rua Acores (I'm blanking right now as to which). The immediate area is not so interesting, but Little Italy is nice to walk through.

          2 Replies
          1. re: TorontoJo

            I thought of adding Chiado as well - except you specified other cuisines. I agree, this may be the best Portuguese restaurant in North America (think fine French and you'll get a better picture(e.g. Carlos in Highland Park - although maybe not quite that level of sophistication, and the location here is more bustling).
            While I endorse the bar approach, on quiet nights (e.g. Monday) they sometimes close the bar area - but you can order the bar menu to be served at a table.
            Nyood (West) and Kultura (East) are both on the fringes of the downtown area (but within the higher parking fees!). If you can decipher public transportation here, it would be worth your while (e.g. Kaiseki Sakura and Cava are both within 5 minutes of a subway stop - but the others mentioned require using the buses/streetcars).
            And virtually everywhere you're likely to go is totally safe.

            1. re: estufarian

              Considering Kaelin is from Chicago, I'm sure she can navigate our 2.5 subway lines when they've got the El.

              Sundays are difficult though. There are some good choices here though. If she's staying at the Park Hyatt or Four Seasons, Harbord Room isn't that far of a trek. Short cab ride would be easier that subway + streetcar.

              Too bad Loire isn't open Sundays (or Mondays for that matter).

          2. - The Harbord Room might work for a more casual Sunday night choice (it's a 15 minute walk from your hotel)
            - Or perhaps Globe Bistro (nice neighbourhood for walking and a straight shot on the Bloor Line from your hotel... locally focused wine and menu like JKWB)

            - For Monday, I also really like Nyood (good bar for solo dining and the small plate menu you like). I prefer Nyood to Kultura (both for menu and atmosphere, but that's just me)
            - Torito is another great spanish style tapas bar in a fun neighbourhood. I would say it's a more more casual choice than Cava, but great food and great people-watching (plus patio and open Sunday)

            www.theharbordroom.com
            www.globebistro.com
            www.nyood.ca
            www.toritorestaurant.com

            1. Black Hoof on Dundas West. Open Sunday and Monday nights till midnite. All-charcuterie menu. Not to be missed. Casual cocktail scene with patio out back. Suitable for solo dining.

              7 Replies
              1. re: ChalkBoy

                Wow -- you all are the best. I haven't made final choices yet but I'll let you know where I end up. A Portuguese equivalent of the Bayless restaurants sounds amazing: I'm leaning towards Kaiseki and Senhor Antonio . . .

                1. re: Kaelin

                  I'd probably go with estufarian's other suggestions instead of Sakura.

                    1. re: Marimba

                      Any suggestions for places that are open Sundays/Mondays then? I always have difficulties finding places open those nights.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        open Sunday for dinner...Citizen...Delux...Harlem...Harbord Room...Black Hoof...Niagara Street Cafe...Rosebud...Sidecar...Batifole...Le Select...La Palette...Tati...Monday too many to mention...Marimba!

                        1. re: Marimba

                          Thanks!
                          I've been to many (but not all) and they're good local choices (mostly) - although not sure they qualify as 'small plates' or 'gastropubs' as the OP requested.
                          For the most part I'd call them 'neighbourhood bistros'.

                          1. re: estufarian

                            Black Hoof is good, and it's sort of small-platesy. Chiado/Senhor Antonio is great though.

              2. I would highly recommend the Niagara St. Cafe. Very seasonally driven, nice place, good food. It's a bit of a ways where you are staying (well, perhaps a $10 cab) but a much calmer vibe than Bloor St.