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Gastronomical Tour in Toronto, Part Deux

Hello all!

I received such wonderful advice the last time from all the Chowhounders when I was in Toronto last year and I am back for more assistance from you foodies!

Previous thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/519954

Now, it's been a year and a half - are there any new places that are a MUST go sort of place? I planned on Splendido but I see that Chef Lee has left, so Nota Bene is on my list for sure.

I am debating returning to Scaramouche-it was soooo good when I went and I heard the old pastry chef is back, so might be worth it to return.

However, I only have a few days where I can actually dine out for dinner so I'll try to hit up many of these places for lunch, if I can put aside the shopping for an hour!

Please let me know of any great places that I must must visit that I don't know about!

Thanks again in advance!

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  1. This past week, I had three excellent dinners at Simple Bistro, Colborne Lane and Lai Wah Heen. ( Simple yet elegant French, Tasting menu with molecular gastronomy components and Fine Cantonese cuisine ). All of which I had posted on this board. Scroll down, take a look and see what you think?!

    1. If you have not been to Canoe yet I would highly recommend going there. Consistently one of Toronto's best.

      Nota Bene is a good choice, if he ever changes the menu I will start going again.

      I recently had a great meal at Chiado as well (a modern approach to Portuguese cuisine). Highly recommend it if you love seafood.

      For a fun, casual Tapas spot I would recommend Torito, was there last night and my whole party had a great time. The dishes ranged from just good to addiction inducing.

      Finally, I have grown fond of the Globe Bistro over the last year. Great Canadian cuisine, and wine selections. One of a only a few restaurants in the city carrying the addicting reds from Organized Crime and Thirty Bench in Beamsville/Vineland.


      Hope you have a great trip.

      1. Sidecar on College street is quite good, not expensive and the service is very attentive.
        http://www.sidecarrestaurant.ca/ [reserve on-line


        Libretto Pizzeria is also very interesting, but get there early. It's a long wait for the second seating

        Two recent trips to Canoe were problematic. Maybe they get iut right for others. They failed us miserably.

        1. IMO, Simple Bistro is better than Biff's, Le Select or even Amuse Bouche.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Charles Yu

            Well if that is YOUR opinion, so be it! I have never been to Simple Bistro but now I want to give it a try.
            When was the last time you tried any of my choices?
            Just curious.
            Haven't been to Lai Wah Heen in about 2 years. I do not recall being blown away by it .May be time for another visit.

            1. re: froglegs

              Within the past couple of years. However, I did hear that Biff's has improved recently. ( ie in the past few months ).

          2. Splendido is actually still very good. I prefer it to Nota Bene, in fact. Wouldn't strike it off the list yet!

            1. Thanks again so much everyone, once again! So Canoe is on this list but not the list from last year, if I remember correctly - interesting! It was recommended to me by the guys at Scaramouche so I probably should check it out.

              Libretto Pizzeria - I noticed it on that top 10 new best list and wondered if i should go! Thanks for mentioning it here. I'm also going through the first thread to pick out places I hadn't gone to yet. There seems to be too many to choose from!

              What's the consensus on The Drake? And Senses? Nyood? Those are just a few off the top off my head.

              Thanks again! You all ROCK!

              4 Replies
              1. re: freelancer

                Libretto is okay but there is no pizza in Toronto worth waiting in line for. There is no way I would go back there and chance getting crapped on by the pigeons above waiting in line (those who have been there know what I'm talking about) just for a piece of Libretto pizza. Grimaldi's in Brooklyn is the only pizza worth lining up for, and even then only because the old man keeps that line moving...fast!

                The Drake - The food is okay, decent steak frites. Nothing special food wise. Can be either a fun place to drink or packed with overly hip know-it-alls, sometimes both. Remember, the higher up you go in the place, so does the hipster quotient.

                Senses - I havn't been in years, it was good when I went years back, but that was a least one, maybe two chefs ago.

                Nyood - I liked the food when I went to this place but it is badly overpriced. The atmosphere is also borderline overly hip for me. I much prefer the tapas and atmosphere at Torito or even Cava.

                Have fun.

                1. re: JPJ

                  Totally agree with you on Libretto! High on my 'over-rated' list!

                  1. re: JPJ

                    The wait line at Calabria is usually 5- 10 minutes at peak noon hour periods (availability is only Fri and Thurs., 11 to 4 PM) and it is inside. It's wood fired, made to order, and simple southern style.

                    Calabria Bakery
                    1772 Midland Ave, Toronto, ON M1P, CA

                    1. re: JPJ

                      Definitely agree that the pizza at Libretto is _not_ worth lining up for. At the Drake (and this may seem like common sense) stay away from the sushi.

                  2. If you like Thai food, Sukhothai is a must for lunch. www.sukhothaifood.com Big up Chowhound for sending me there in the first place. These guys can't do any wrong.

                    1. Thanks for all the fantastic suggestions everyone! My trip to your fine city was fabulous as I saw more parts of the city I didn't have time to check out the last time!

                      I went back to Scaramouche the first night I was there and was so disappointed! After an amazing lamb main last year, I decided to go with the Rabbit Ballantine this time. The presentation was so phallic and off putting! The taste not too bad but not fabulous either. Service was very professional but lacked soul - not at all personalized and I couldn't even get a word in to the waiter to actually make a comment other than "good, thank you." As a solo diner, it made for a boring evening. Dessert was an almond trio - looked beige! Was good but not sensational.

                      Never again, Scaramouche! We had better days.

                      Had some poutine from Poutini's on Queen West after shopping - crazy but it was fast. Nothing spectacular! I should have tried Smoke's Poutine instead. I hear they are opening a location on Queen West this month so it will be there when I return in a year or so :)

                      Had a street hot dog a few times - the guy outside of Holt Renfrew in Yorkville makes the best one I had all trip!

                      Managed to stop by Libretto's on Saturday in late afternoon - beat the lineup! Had the Pingue Proscuitto Pizza and it was FABULOUS! Service was excellent. Also tried the Budino for dessert. A bit sweet - needed a bit of texture - maybe a crisp or a biscotti would have been nice to compliment the smoothness of the pudding. No cocktails though, just wine! Bummer.

                      Stopped by the Rivoli later that evening for a quick appetizer - nice spring rolls actually.

                      Sunday - hard to find a place open late and well, open at all. I lucked out at Colborne Lane. Was slower, received fantastic, personalized service and had the most amazing dish all trip - a vegetable appetizer, root and seasonal veg on top of sweet potato cake. It was divine. The cornish hen main was also fabulous. And the deconstructed lemon tart was very interesting. Great choice - I almost went to ONE instead b/c they were open later but am glad I stopped by Colborne Lane. It was just fun, inventive and tasty food. After going to Lucien the last time, which was an awful disaster, I'm really glad i got some good molecular gastro food!

                      I had been so excited to try Nota Bene on my last night but heard that it wasn't fantastic or as fantastic as the hype. Something about a bad steak tartare, if I recall correctly. So I decided to do something else instead and just keep it low key. It was raining so not much in the mood to get dressed up. But now I am really regretting missing the food! Think they'll be as good if not better the next time I visit?

                      I also missed out on Caffe Doria (for a return visit), Jacques (for their lemon tart!) and a slew of others you had all suggested. It makes me realize that there is almost too much good food to fit into a week!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: freelancer

                        Has anybody else heard/experienced something bad about the steak tartare at Nota?
                        I've never had it personally, I was just wondering if it's something I should avoid in the future.

                        1. re: graydyn

                          it's fully of mayo, which i don't like in my tartare and in some ways feels like it really defeats the purpose of eating good raw steak. like mayo in sushi.

                          1. re: graydyn

                            I heard something about mustard overpowering the entire dish.

                        2. Pizza Libretto on Osington just S of Dundas is now open for lunch......tried it last week very good pizza Miranda

                          1 Reply
                          1. Is the "old pastry chef" who has returned Joanna Yolles by any chance?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                              Yes, you are correct. The dessert was OK but not spectacular and very beige in color. I was thoroughly disappointed as I heard her return to Scaramouche was a big deal.

                            2. Oh so here are my personal recommendations ranging in price and class

                              If you're a steak eater, Jacob's & Co steakhouse is fantastic http://www.jacobssteakhouse.com ,
                              best little place for Risotto - Romagna Mia Osteria http://www.romagna-mia.com... Bangkok Gardens, good gawd this is yummy place and it's near the Dundas Square http://www.bangkokgarden.ca
                              Pure Spirits in the Distillery District has the best scallops ever http://purespirits.ca
                              For the best pulled Pork and a fantastic beer selection menu - Beer Bistro on King St / Yonge St. www.beerbistro.com

                              Hopefully you enjoy and love everything!