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Birthday Dinner - drawing a total blank

So, it's my birthday tomorrow, and I'm trying to decide where I'd like to go for dinner...and nothing is obviously leaping out at me, even after searching through a couple of years of 'birthday dinner' threads.

Here are the parameters:
- not terribly expensive (i.e., no Canoe/Splendido/North 44), as we're currently a one-income family...mains around the $25 mark would be good
- not Italian, as all of our go-to places (7 Numbers, Terroni, Marcello's, Big Ragu, Pizerria Libretto) are Italian, as am I, and it's just not striking me as very interesting right now
- simple food, executed with excellent technique - I don't need esoteric ingredients or 14 kinds of foam, just good ingredients prepared well...no particular preference in terms of ethnic influence (aside from the 'no italian' rule)

I thought the Harbord Room might fit the bill, but found a number of fair-to-middling reviews here. Any other thoughts?

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  1. Harbord Room will probably be hard to snag a table at such short notice, unless you want to dine really late. Maybe try 93 Harbord?

    Do you want to stay w/i a certain area or are you willing to travel? If so, I can recommend a number of Chinese restaurants for dinner, but they're all in Markham/Richmond Hill (Yang's, Emperor, Regal Cuisine, O'Mei, John's bbq, Tanchikee, Big Mouth Kee, Graceful Vegetarian, etc....)

    1. Note Bene on Queen across from the Opera House.....Miranda

      1 Reply
      1. re: miranda

        I second Nota Bene. Have also heard good things about Weezie's.
        Happy birthday!

        -----
        Weezie's
        354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

        Nota Bene
        180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

      2. I concur with harbord Room, give it a chance! 93 Harbord is also lovely, though quieter. what kind of "vibe" are you looking for?

        Some of the most wonderful and simple food I have had is at Quince on Yonge south of Eg. Grilled meats, fish, great steak frites...and the best apple tarte in the city. Lovely staff and if you make a note to the hostess that it is a special occassion, you'll get something special I'm sure. Try it!

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        Quince
        2110 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A5, CA

        1 Reply
        1. re: LemonLauren

          I second Quince, too;) Great food, nice atmosphere and professional service.

        2. If you like seafood, I'd recommend Stafish or Zee Grill. Interesting menus, and well prepared. Most of their mains (except the steak and lobster) are around $25-$28.

          I also would recommend the Drake- I was at a birthday dinner @ the Drake a few weeks ago, and I was pleasantly surprised. I think I remember reading the Drake's chef is relatively new. They have daily specials, and often have a prix fixe in addition to their regular menu. Mains tend to be in the mid $20s or less.

          Harbord is good for an ordinary night, but I wouldn't pick it for a birthday or a special occasion. The main dish that gets raves on this board is their hamburger.

          1. Thanks to one and all for the suggestions - Qunice it is (I've been meaning to try this place forever b/c I used to love Stork on the Roof, but i'd completely forgotten abou it). I'll report back!