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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!

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  1. Hey there,

    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.

    Good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. 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.

      1. Batifole has a prix fixe of sorts — eight starters at $8, eight mains at $18


        You'll need reservations.

        Wherever you go, remember its Summerlicious most everywhere else!

        1. 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

          Table 17
          782 Queen St. East, Toronto, ON M4M 1H4, CA

          Leslie Jones
          1182 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1L4, CA

          Gio Rana's
          1220 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1L7, CA

          1. 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.

            8 Replies
            1. re: haggisdragon

              What kind of beer do they have on tap?
              I'm really interested in checking this place out.

              1. re: grandgourmand

                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.

                1. re: haggisdragon

                  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.

                  1. re: Mis_Understated

                    Joy doesn't get much love on this board...

                    The food scene in Leslieville is hit and miss. Too many places that look like they could be good, but aren't.

                    1. re: Mis_Understated

                      Just FYI, it's Ceili Cottage - and it's a nice space, but yes, it's still got some "newly opened" issues as drjolt stated below. Go now if you have lots of time and patience - otherwise, wait a couple weeks more...!

                      Ceili Cottage
                      1301 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

                2. re: haggisdragon

                  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.

                  1. re: drjolt

                    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.

                    1. re: drjolt

                      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...

                  2. If you're willing to venture a little further east (maybe not this time, but in the future), Vivetha is a really nice place with excellent food, reasonable prices and friendly, efficient service. It's at Queen and Nursewood. I've only been there on a weekday afternoon when it wasn't too busy; apparently there'd be a lineup on a weekend for their brunch...best to make reservations if they take them.

                    2485 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4E1H9, CA

                    1. A long time Leslieville resto is Edward Levesques' and there's also Hanoi 3 Seasons for not quite traditional Vietnamese.

                      And if you need a Sushi fix (take out only) be sure to try Sushi Marche.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lightbulb

                        "And if you need a Sushi fix (take out only) be sure to try Sushi Marche."

                        Sorry for the nitpick but just wanted to point out they also have delivery since some people don't know that!

                      2. Thank you everyone for your suggestions! After countless atempts to make a reservation at Leslie Jones (phone was never answered), we decided to wing it and ended up at The Real Jerk. Having been there before I knew the food would be good and the atmosphere lively.

                        Made a huge mistake by attempting to try for after dinner bevvies at Ceili Cottage. It was a beautiful evening and upon arrival around 10:30PM was quite surprised to see open tables, although a little confused by the lack of chairs. As previously mentioned in this post, we were advised by the very nice and apologetic hostess that due to an extremeley low patio capacity they were no longer able to seat anyone else on the patio. We thought since no one was in queue we might wait a bit to see if anyone left. In mentioning this to the hostess she once again passed on some surprising news...the patio closes at 11PM. At that point they usher everyone inside. At this point we leave as even the hostess said 'you can have fun, just not here'. Of course it was 'tongue in cheek', but I'm also thinking that there was a lot of truth to it. I can't even imagine what the queue would have been like inside to get a drink. Hopefully this will get sorted out, as the patio was in a great location (near my house) and the neighbourhood could really use a patio alternative to the Joy Bistro.

                        Anyways we ended up at 'Lion on the Beach' for a quick pint and then back to the best outdoor space we could think of for great drinks and service....my backyard :)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Mis_Understated

                          The 11pm deadline is in their liquor licence (thanks to the dreary complaining people in the row of townhouses on Agnes lane) ...

                          1. re: OnDaGo

                            We figured it was those 'dreary townhouses' that were the reasoning behind the extremly strict liquor licence. It's somewhat frustrating (and I'm sure more so for the owner) as even with an 'at capacity' patio the noise was very low and IMO not a nuiscanse to neighbouring residences. Having lived in the west end for 10+ years (Annex, Little Italy & Parkdale), it's very common to have restaurants, bars and lounges with patios open late with houses right around the corner.

                            1. re: Mis_Understated

                              Not sure if this was also a condition but I did not hear any music at all on the patio last night..

                              1. re: Mis_Understated

                                What is even more curious is that you have to talk over the noise of the streetcars and general traffic...this isn't a quiet neighbourhood to begin with!

                          2. We ate dinner last evening at Barrio (Queen and Logan). The chef is excellent; he makes most things from scratch, including the BEST flour-less chocolate cake ever and one of Toronto's best Creme Brulees. I had the mussels and frites with chipotle mayo. Excellent. One other bonus? Barrio uses lots of local businesses to supply its ingredients, including Rowe Farms and cheeses from the cheese shop located almost kitty corner. Good value and very tasty.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Chrisclan

                              What other restaurants do you recommend?

                              1. re: Chrisclan

                                Barrio is one of our favorite places in the area to go for a drink and some eats that are somewhat interesting and not too expensive. I really like that they have the "small plate" option for those of us who don't usually finish a whole entree. Last time I was there I had the quail and it was great. Not dry, very well flavored, served with some spicy beans and wilted greens.

                              2. Barrio sounds excellent! Very much like a number of the places I love in the west end...

                                Thank you! Going to make a reservation for this Saturday!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Mis_Understated

                                  Barrio is our favourite place. Very unpretentious and fun staff. Excellent food and as someone posted earlier, the 'smaller' plate options allowed to us to try a number of dishes. Steak was tender and came with some interesting spices. I heard they've added a new chef from Jamie Kennedy's. Have fun on Saturday night - we're going tomorrow!

                                  1. re: Mis_Understated

                                    Let us know how it goes. I ate at Barrio a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. Some months later, went back to find quality had diminished, and the room seemed grungy. Hope things are shaping up. Would like to know if things have improved.