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College St recommendations?

It's been ages (like a couple of years) since I've gone for dinner on College st. I would love to go and wondering what a good place would be for a romantic yet fun, dinner for my husband and I who are in our late 30's. Grace sounds good, as does Calisto and Cinq 01. Ambiance is key, as is the food. Thoughts on these or other suggestions?

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  1. Sidecar might do the trick - it's small and "cozy" enough that when I've been with my SO, it feels romantic (though tables are quite close together - we ended up eavesdropping on our neighbours during one visit, not exactly in our own little world) but the meticulously crafted cocktails make it a definite "fun" place, in a sophisticated kind of way. Clientele is from all age categories, and prix fixe deal can't be beat.

    11 Replies
    1. re: c.cow

      I love Sidecar! The food, service, ambiance and prices are spot on.

      1. re: Sarah Cat

        I finally tried Sidecar last night. Absolutely loved it, as did my 3 dinner companions. The service was fantastic too. One of my fellow diners asked if they had Red Bull and without hesitation, the waiter said, no, but he would go and get one next door. Nice touches like that make a difference, but the service was great from the moment we walked in the door. I had the beet salad and salmon, both delicious. My salmon was perfectly medium rare and a huge portion. 2 of my dinner companions had steak frites. I tried a piece of the steak and it was delicious and tender. Another had the chicken. The bread they put out to start was to die for and I thoroughly enjoyed my Badass Mojito. I tried a sip of the Spicy Caesar which was delicious too. Can't wait to go back.

        1. re: pescatarian

          So happy you enjoyed it! What a wonderful restaurant.

          1. re: pescatarian

            Definitely go back Sun - Thur when they have their $25 prix fixe. 3 courses, all full size and the main options include the steak frites. It's a great deal. And if you like Sidecar, make sure you head down the street someday to try Negroni. Same owners, same philosophy of good ingredients prepared simply and well, in this case in the form of panini. So good.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              Nice to see the recs about Sidecar. We made reservations for this coming Saturday evening and I am anxious to try. Will let everyone know how it works out.

              1. re: TorontoJo

                Well, I can honestly say this lived up to the billing that was posted. Our reservations were made for 5:30PM and we arrived on time. We were the only people there, for a short while that is. At about 6'ish the place was almost full. Service was of course very attentive at the start however this remained consistent even after the place filled up. When a lot of people arrived all at once I thought: "Here we go, it falls apart now. But not so."
                Upon arrival our coats were taken and hung up for us and we were given a choice of a couple of tables. Yes, the tables are close together but really, it added to the experience. There were jars of what looked like home made preserved tomatoes like mom used to make and I wanted to take a couple home..lol
                We decided to start with a couple of their famous cocktails and I was glad we did. You get what you pay for and we got nice drinks. The waiter advised us that the drinks would be a couple of minutes as they were "labour intensive". Good, that tells me they were being prepared fresh. The Mrs. had a Mojito and I the Manhattan. Very nice.
                The waiter arrived and advised us of our choices and as it was cold out we went for the soup of the day, Cremini Mushroom Soup, and we shared a Beef Carpaccio Salad. Fresh bread soon arrived and I mean fresh, it just came out of the oven.
                The mushroom soup was outstanding, served hot and well seasoned. The mushroom flavour was throughout and the consistency was not too thick as this soup can be at other places. The only time I had better was when I made it myself.
                The Beef Carpaccio was again, outstanding. The beef was razor thin, fresh and full of flavour. The accompanying greens were lightly oiled (arugula, parmesan, caperberries, truffle oil) so that this did not take away from the true flavours. Nice touch.
                We both ordered the same mains: Steak Frites at the suggestion of our niece that has been there a few times before.
                The steak arrived within a few minutes of our finishing our appetizers and was timed right. We ordered a couple of glasses of a Malbec to accompany the meal.
                The steaks were cooked to order and I was happy with the flavour. The frites were very good and we both enjoyed them. The smoked pepper mayonnaise that accompanies the dish was very flavourful and certainly a pleasant change for us.
                Did I say the tables were close? Well, I wish I could have tried more (we will be going back) but from the comments of the table beside us, I could tell that they were equally impressed with the food. He had Mushroom Risotto and she a pasta dish.
                We passed on dessert.
                The bill came to about $126.00 (without tip) as I recall, I didn't look too closely.
                As we were leaving the place was very full however two staff were at the door to help us on with our coats and wish us a good night.

                -----
                Sidecar
                577 College St., Toronto, ON M6G 1B2, CA

                 
                1. re: Poorboy

                  I forgot about that mushroom soup! oh. em. gee. that soup is to DIE for!

                  1. re: Sarah Cat

                    I went to Negroni today for lunch finally. Also, great. The bread is sooo fresh. We had the salted cod on polenta. Both of us thought it was nice, but they had a little bit of a pickle in the middle, which we thought should have been used with a more heavy hand, as it added a nice flavour, but there wasn't enough of it. I had the bufala mozzarella with oven roasted tomatoes and pesto and BF had one with salami, can't remember which one. Both were delicious. I enjoyed the arugala salad with a little fennel. The little bit of fresh parmesan was a nice touch. Nice place. Great service (we saw the same waiter we had at Sidecar, although he wasn't our waiter this time). I also had an Americano, which was nice and smooth. Did I mention the bread? It makes it all special.

                    1. re: pescatarian

                      Yay! Glad you liked it. Your server was probably Casey Bee, one of the owners. Tall, blondish red? He's super nice and always goes out of his way to make sure you're happy. If you go again, ask for extra pickle on your salted cod. I've really never been to a place that is more accommodating about requests, regardless of who your server is.

                      The bread has an addictive texture, doesn't it? Next time, try some of their ice cream or their soup of the day. Really wonderful.

                      I'm overdue for another lunch there.

                      1. re: pescatarian

                        I second Negroni, great place for a dinner date :-). Yummy appetizers
                        Tried & enjoyed:
                        - Oven dried tomatoes, bufula, basil pesto
                        - Selection of cured meat
                        - Herbed bufala ricotta spread

            2. re: c.cow

              c.cow...you and me are sympatico, first the bitters now sidecar. Sidecar is hands down my favourite place on college.The prix fixe is outstanding and , of course, they take cocktails seriously.

            3. I'm really curious about Cinq 01. The menu looks great, but at that price point, I'm not willing to take a risk on it without someone vouching for it first. Have any of you been?

              8 Replies
              1. re: piccola

                I was wondering about Cinq 01 as well. Seems to be the newest hot spot.

                1. re: millygirl

                  Joanne Kates reviewed Cinq 01 on Saturday...it was not a good review. Here is a link:

                  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

                  1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                    Ouchh, okay thanks for the info Arcadiaseeker. My date nights these days usually involve a good movie and nice dinner at home. And when we do go out for a nice dinner, it is the food front and centre.

                    I will pass on Cinq 01.

                    1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                      I dunno, it didn't seem that bad a review -- she's basically saying some things are good, some are bad, which is true of many places. But yeah, I guess I won't be rushing over there.

                      1. re: piccola

                        Yeah, the review confused me a bit especially the title (based on that alone I would have booked a table) but on balance I thought it was pretty negative I think. Some friends have already booked us in for dinner in a couple of weeks (they did so before this review) so I will report back based on my experience.

                        1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                          Please do. I find Kates is really hit and miss.

                          1. re: piccola

                            Tried Cinq 01 on the weekend. The appetizers were very good and the ambience was terrific. The service was also excellent. Although there is a definite scene there so be prepared. I was wearing a traditional Toronto out for dinner uniform -- nice jeans, nice/funky top and dress boots -- and felt very underdressed -- surprising for College. People were decked out in designer cocktail dresses and six-inch heels - men were wearing jackets. I like dressing up so felt like I missed out on the opportunity!

                            By 10 the place was nuts -- very loud and packed with people (and since I like people watching this was a good thing).

                            As for the mains, Joanne Kates is unfortunately right -- I wanted to like the main dishes (especially because of the prices) but they were nothing to write home about. My SO's lamb came overcooked (well done) -- they took it back and fixed it though. And my ravioli was watery and not properly drained.

                            Overall -- very pricey for dinner and not-so-great food. I would however recommend for drinks and appetizers. It's a great destination if you want to get gussied up for a night on the town and some people watching.

                            1. re: Arcadiaseeker

                              Thanks for this. Now I can enjoy this place for what it is, rather than being disappointing because it doesn't live up to expectations.

                    1. I had good luck at Grace (although I know you will find some mixed reviews from folks who are highly regarded on the board).

                      Sidecar is charming. I find Kalendar a little young (more for the 20-something date crowd than the 30-something date crowd).

                      I also like Wine Bar Giancarlo. It's not a revelation, but it's a pretty and adult space with well executed food and drink.

                      Torito is definitely Kensington (not College), but if you haven't been to the area in a while and you're into tapas, it is a wonderful (romantic and fun) spot.