Dinner in Leslieville....
Being a fairly recent East-Ender (moved from the College W. area a few months ago), I'm still fairly lost when it comes to having any knowledge of the restaurants in the East End. I've been to EL for brunch (fantastic) and of course had some take out from the Goof but other than that I've been pretty domesticated and doing the whole 'cooking at home thing'.
This Friday I'm taking one of my best GF's out for dinner and rather than head back to my old hood which I spent 10 years eating my way through, I'd like to support a local restaurant in my new hood.
What I'm hoping for is somewhere with consistently good food and fairly reasonable prices. A prix fixe menu would be great but not a must. Ambiance in the way of a nice patio or just an overall good vibe would be welcome as it is a birthday celebration. As for location, looking for restos East of the Viaduct, West of Kingston Rd. and South of Danforth. Hopefully that isn't too limiting! :)
Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions!
You have a lot of options, depending on what exactly you are looking for:
Lil' Baci - great pizzas in a very nice little room. Not a lot of space to lounge after the meal, but you can move on to the big patio at Joy Bistro or grab a table at the pub The Roy for post-meal drinks (both on the same block).
Gio Rana's (aka "The Nose") is also a good party dinner option as it is small plate italian and good for sharing and sampling. They have an excellent private room (I think they call it the wine room - if you call thay'll know what you are talking about) that comes with no additional charge and can seat about 8 people if your numbers are that high. It's tucked away but still open to the main room so you get the buzz of the place. On the weekends it gets a nice bustling atmosphere and you can easily continue to hang out over drinks.
Slightly more expensive is The Citizen, which is very good. Be warned that the menu is meat-heavy so not a good option for a vegetarian. They participated in Winterlicious last year, not sure if they are a part of the current Summerlicious. The menu is upscale comfort food in a very unpretentious room.
Table 17 seems to have generated positive talk for their dinners. I've only done brunch there a couple of times but the room is nice and the food has been very good.
Batifole on Gerrard is very reasonably priced french bistro food.
I would head to Gio Rana's or Table 17. Both have a really nice atmosphere (Table 17 a bit more refined and certainly quieter) and good food.
I have enjoyed Leslie Jones, though reviews tend to be mixed on the place. Cute, small back patio.
Have always loved Gio Rana's so I'll back that one up.
Batifole has amazing food, though I think it lacks a little in ambiance, though admitedly I haven't been recently.
Table 17 is very friendly and relaxed.
744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA
782 Queen St. East, Toronto, ON M4M 1H4, CA
1182 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1L4, CA
1220 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1L7, CA
Try Ceilid Cottage. Brand new place at Queen and Leslie. I just tried it for the first time last Sunday and really enjoyed it. Has a large front patio and a unique converted interior. Micro brews on tap, super fresh oysters, lots of little snacky dishes, daily specials. Good stuff, and there is NOBODY doing anything quite like them in the area.
Well they have a couple of cask ales, which I think they will switch up, when we were there they had Hop Head and Red Dragon, both from Durham. They also serve Mill St organic Lager, Guinness, and a few other beers on tap that I can't remember. They were actually out of all of their lagers when we visited. Hopefully that was just an isolated incident! I don't think they had any Molson or Labbat products, which is a good thing in my opinion. I had the Red Dragon and it was excellent.
Ceilid Cottage sounds really interesting...maybe not for this Friday, but most def'n as a place to check out with my BF. We love cask ales and if they have London Pride, they might as well consider us regulars :) Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. I can't wait to finally start checking out some of the neighbourhood spots.
BTW - Failed to mention that I also ate at Joy Bistro. Was not a very joyful experience. Had the Steak Frites and it was probably the worst I've ever had.
Sorry, but I am going to anti-recommend Ceili Cottage at least for now, for on a weekend, and for a celebration. We were there on Friday night and it was incredibly packed. Overpacked. And the service just wasn't able to deal with the crowd at this point. We had some great oysters, served by Patrick himself, and some lovely reasonably priced pints, but we were crammed in, the women's bathroom was completely out of paper towels (and no air dryers either), service was nice but swamped and not good at juggling lots of tables, and the wait for the oysters was insane.
So we will definitely be back, but I think it's best to give this place some time to settle in. If you're going to try it now, I'd recommend going in with a small party, low expectations, lots of time, and on a Mon-Thurs. evening.
I agree w/ Drjolt about Ceili Cottage, a great idea and well-realized concept that needs immediate attention to service issues. Patrick McMurray is a pro who began with Rodney, opened Starfish, but at Ceili Cottage, has hired young women from the contiguous Irish dance school, to serve- they do not seem to have had any training. Kitchen can't keep up, and despite Patrick's bonhomie, people are getting pissed off.
Off-peak days are always a better time to experience a place, agreed. I was at the cottage on Friday night and I think its difficult to criticize a place for being packed. The patio has a restriction to 40 people based on their license and I don't blame them for following that rule strictly. As for the inside, it definitely isn't the largest place, and I would suggest that rather than staying while it was that full, it is best for one's sanity to try elsewhere. I was shocked to see the number of people willing to wait in line throughout the night for a patio spot - as much as I like the place, I would try elsewhere and maybe come back another time.
Of my 3 visits, the service has always been friendly and accommodating so I try to be the same. The staff are obviously adjusting to their instant success, and for the most part I think they're doing just fine, though time will only improve things.
I do have some small changes I would make - it seems a little strange that bread needs to be ordered at additional cost to accompany the cheese plate. I would include some crackers or some bread. The mac and cheese was very dry - it needs to be a creamy, decadent dish and it was far from it. But the homemade bread, the smoked salmon, the ham, the bangers and mash, and the oysters are all excellent...