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East Toronto restaurant to impress VIP?

We have been given the privilege of taking a visiting musician out to lunch on Wednesday. This is an older gentleman in his 70s who used to be a principal in the London Symphony, so he has been all over the world and has high standards. We have dined with him previously in Edmonton and found that he is very open minded, with eclectic tastes. Last time we took him to a wonderful Indonesian vegetarian place called Padmanadi, which he loved, but their food is exceptionally good.
Where can we go within a 15 minute cab ride from Woodbine and Queen that will be truly impressive and send him home with some good memories? Any cuisine is acceptable, but must be exceptional. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Give Sukhothai a call and see if they can manage to put together an off-menu dinner for you on short notice. Nuit (the co-owner/chef) will go to the markets and see what looks best and build a menu for you. You just need to tell them that you have no Western food hang ups and also want the full Thai spice load. Note that this will likely set you back $30 or less per person, all in with tips and taxes. Also note that this is a very small, very casual restaurant with little "atmosphere". But it sounds like the food is the key for you.

    On the total opposite end of the dining spectrum, you could take him to Colborne Lane for the 15-course tasting menu with a few small forays into molecular gastronomy. Given that it's a Wednesday, they might be willing to let you have the "kitchen table" room (which usually requires at least 4 people to book, I believe). The last time I checked the 15-course tasting was $159/person, but it's been a while.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TorontoJo

      i think that doing this special order menu at sukho would be a bit difficult for a first timer just because it took a while for them to understand that we like everything. they seem to hold the notion that they need to adjust for western tastes and do dumb down the flavours a bit if you're new. one example being they were entirely concerned we would be revolted by cilantro.

      it is a great experience though in the sense that they really make you feel part of the family. it's a real modern hole in the wall.

    2. Have you considered Canadian fare? Not sure what you mean about high standards - ie. expensive?

      I like Globe bistro on Danforth for a local/Canadian menu? Or for a spectacular view of the city - Canoe in the TD tower.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Apple

        Globe was my first thought too because of the Canadian spin and the east-end location.

        1. re: Rabbit

          Yes, I've seen Globe mentioned more than a few times here. That might be just the ticket. I fully intend to try Sukho Thai soon, as it sounds wonderful. I think Globe might be a little more elegant for this particular occasion, though.Thanks folks.

          1. re: munchieHK

            It's easy to decide between the two places mentioned, I'd pick Globe.
            I've ordered takeout twice from Sukothai and it doesn't rock my world, so to speak. I'm still trying to figure out what all the buzz is about. I finally met another CH at the last meet who agrees with me, they thought it is pretty ordinary also.

            1. re: foodyDudey

              What did you order, and what heat level did you ask for?

              I think it makes a world of difference if you ask for Thai spicy vs mild/medium.

              I must admit Sukhothai is definitely not the type of place to take VIP's to. It is a homey spot.

              1. re: aser

                I can't remember exactly what we ordered, but the last time I ordered a beef soup, medium. I actually took a few pictures of it because there was so little beef in it, maybe 1 or 2 oz. total. I was planning to post a picture here but then didn't.
                The first item, we ordered about 3 items. Only one was tasty, the others quite plain. None were from the steam table. I'll give it one more try, but that's all.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  i don't recall them using the steam table any more. the best dishes for me are the massaman, khao soi with beef, sukho pad thai with chicken, and variants of the fried tofu/chicken/shrimp they have as an app. the noodle soup dish you mention is much like a pho but northern thai style. i don't expect much meat in it and only had it once as it doesn't really work for me. it's not bad but doesn't hit the flavours i crave as much as the dishes i've mentioned.

                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    That's interesting, the beef noodle soup is my absolute favourite dish there (Sukhothai). I love the rich spicy broth and the tender braised beef. I have always been satisfied with the amount of beef. I asked for extra when ordering takeout once, ( a preventitive measure after reading foodyDudey's complaint). I said I'd be happy to pay for it. When I got it home there was plenty of beef and no extra charge. The khao soi is great too.

                    1. re: haggisdragon

                      i don't find the broth to be all that rich actually, that's why it doesn't appeal. it's just too light for the dinner meals i often have there. it's not bad, just not my preference.

              2. re: foodyDudey

                Agree with Globe.
                However on Sukothai I find they operate on two levels. If you order a la carte it's pretty good. But several dishes are on the steam table - avoid those entirely! (slight correction - the steam table items are OK - just not that exciting).

        2. You could try Mengrai on Ontario, just south of Queen. Very good fish dishes.

          1. I heard about a place called Batifole. Any thoughts on that?

            3 Replies
            1. re: munchieHK

              There have been mixed reviews recently; I don't think it compares to Globe, though I did enjoy meals there. Haven't been in the last year and a half, though. It is a decent neighbourhood place, not a destination, in my opinion.

              1. re: munchieHK

                Batifole is a nice local place, but wouldn't consider it all that special. Food is decent, not exceptional. Globe would be a better spot overall IMO. More on the Canadian/Local food at Globe, vs the French-bistro food that I'm sure he's had better - probably in France.

                1. re: jlunar

                  Very good point. He goes to France regularly. Thanks.

              2. Jean's Thai Vegetarian on the Danforth...elegant room, great food, not licensed...Marimba!

                1. Weezies on King just East of Parliament is very cozy and Canadian Miranda

                  1. The recs for Globe were were spot on! We loved it and more importantly, so did our guest. He started with some Canadian oysters and followed with the Elk croque monsieur, which he said was fantastic. I had a beautiful speckled trout app and followed with the daily special, hand made rabbit pasta. Yum. My daughter went for the Niagara pork belly, which was superb and their burger, which was also excellent, even if she couldn't finish it. Mill St. Tankhouse ale on tap and truly superb service made for a delightful 2 and a half hour extended meal. No pressure to clear off and even room for a little dessert. We will be back very soon. I enjoyed this over my recent foray to Zucca by a factor of about 10. Wonderful. Thanks for the recs, folks.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: munchieHK

                      whew. So glad that the restaurant recommendation was good. The Elk Croque Monsieur sounds like something I would like to get my hands on!

                      1. re: munchieHK

                        I'm curious - why the huge preference for Globe over Zucca. I like both, but would go to Zucca first.

                        1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                          The OP was looking for something east not north. I think the location of Zucca was a little off the mark.

                        2. re: munchieHK

                          I'm happy to read your positive review. I've always had good experiences at the Globe. I have a few qualms about the preparation of some of the side elements in their dishes, but the menu is interesting and ambitious, and full of local, seasonal ingredients. Service, for the most part, has been very professional. The mere mention of hand made rabbit pasta has got me drooling!