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Jan 24, 2010 02:45 PM

Solo Eating in Toronto -- Winterlicious?

I'll be in Toronto later this week and looking for a comfortable place to have dinner alone, perhaps a place where a bar overlooks an interesting cooking or food prep area? Was thinking about a Winterlicious restaurant, though it would seem perhaps this event has run its course according to some Chowhounders. Thanks.

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  1. You may be able to snipe some winterlicious reservations at the "good" places if you're solo dining. In general, I don't love any 'licious events, but places like Canoe, Bymark, - the big names, anyway - are a rather good bet in getting a good meal at a decent price. Ranted about 'licious on the blog recently, but it's not all bad. There is some good, it's just hard to pick 'em.

    Also, if you're solo dining, you may with to roll the dice and see if you can get a seat (at the bar if you can) at Guu. Weekdays are a better bet. Currently, weekends are a zoo with 1-2 hour waits for groups. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say this is one of, if not _the_ hottest seats to get in Toronto right now.

    Other places that come to mind (dunno where you're staying) are the bars at Nota Bene, Splendido, Ceili Cottage, Duggan's Brewery, and Beer Bistro. I also enjoy Manpuku a lot for cheap-and-tasty dining. I think I have write ups on most of these places, save BB and Manpuku. I should have photos in the flickr for everything and most of those will have menu shots.

    --- -- food. is. love.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jlunar

      I'm staying at the Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre. Which bar would you feel most comfortable eating at alone? At the places you listed, do recall seeing other people eating, or are they so busy on a Friday that it would be uncomfortable? I see a bar in the Canoe photos which appear to have place settings -- do people eat there? Thank you for your help.

      1. re: ColleeninCanada

        I've eaten at the Canoe bar (albeit, aaages ago now), but people definitely do eat there. It's an excellent view into the kitchen workings.

        Of all the resto's I listed, I think Guu would be the best for solo dining - more because the atmosphere is so inclusive and casual and really, it's that crazy-busy. If you want fancier dining - hmn... well, I really like Splendido for its food and service, though it is more of an "event" dinner place. The bar itself isn't really in the main dining area and I think would be perfectly fine to eat on your own. Though I'm mostly choosing Splendido for its food and service, most of the places I listed are fine for solo dining. It just really depends on what vibe you're looking for.

        Splendido - finesse all the way
        Nota Bene - hmn.. hip, but with a be of corporate thrown in. Bar area is less exciting IMO.
        Guu - crazy convivial atmosphere.
        Ceili - it's a pub. also a great atmosphere, imo. But ... don't be in a rush if you go. Service can be slow.
        Duggan's - new place, decent beer, good food. hmn. the duck poutine is yummy, but most of the dishes are better for sharing. Lamb leg is really tasty too if you go.
        Beer bistro - the place for beer. Everything has at least a touch of it, except for the frites. Tartare and frites is a yummy meal. I also like their ice cream sandwich dessert a lot. Lots of solo diners, I think go here. Will be (very) busy on a Friday night as all the suits come out, but not uncomfortable.

        1. re: ColleeninCanada

          ColleeninCanada, I do a lot of solo dining in Toronto. Friday night is going to be busy everywhere in Toronto unless you get to the restaurant on the early side. If you are looking for a view of the kitchen as well as close to your hotel I can recommend Canoe, Ame and Buca.

      2. Certainly one of the best spots in the city for dining at a bar overlooking food prep and cooking has to be the Wine Bar - formerly Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar. It's been getting some kudos since the sale of the restaurant.

        Guu is also a great reco if you get there early, late, or are prepared to wait.

        3 Replies
        1. re: childofthestorm

          I haven't been back to (JK)WB since the change-over, but I agree w/Childofthestorm. It's a great place to solo dine. I just... haven't been back so can't really rec it (yet!)

          1. re: jlunar

            According to the Star's Amy Pataki, The Wine Bar is doing a Winterlicious type fixed-price thing. Agreed that ithe seats at the bar offer the best kitchen view of any of the previously made suggestions.

            Kultura isn't a bad pick if you are looking for something that will transition into more of a lounge/bar scene as the evening progresses.

            Both of these options are an easy walk from your hotel.

            Guu is also a great pick if you want a bustling room. Because you are solo you may avoid the table wait that is the major draw-back to this Japanese izakaya spot. Short cab ride.

            If you are a happy carnivore, another good solo pick would be a seat at the bar at Black Hoof. If you aren't into charcuterie, stay away. People are also saying good things about their new sister spot The Hoof Cafe (across the street), but I haven't been. Both are a simple cab or streetcar away.

            1. re: jgloverwork

              Note, I love the hoof cafe, (been twice now), but it's not open for dinner, really. It's a holding area for The Black Hoof in the evenings. Though it's a cool spot for brunch if you can make it over.

        2. I would recommend the lounge at Kultura--I've had some nice experiences dining downstairs there before and I know they are participating in Winterlicious.

          1. I'd go to the Black Hoof. Not at all associated with Winterlicous, but that's a good thing. You probably shouldn't have much trouble getting a seat at the bar by your self, and it's really interesting watching the gang there cook up inspiring food in a kitchen the size of a closet, on an electric stove to boot. Great atmosphere, friendly staff, a real buzz, although it is small, and often there is a wait. They'll send you across the street to the cafe for drinks if you have to wait - equally as pleasant there with a window into the kitchen. Enjoy your stay.

            1. I'm glad to see this thread. I've been to TO many times, but coming from Detroit, trying to make it into town for a dinner at Canoe is something that has always eluded me. Next week i need to be in on Thursday night, though, so finally made that reservation, and will be dining alone. I did request the chef's rail, and I'm glad to see that the food isn't too overrated (unlike the Jules Verne restaurant, where the food is barely mediocre and even that view doesn't quite make up for the price!)