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Best bar/lounge areas in restaurants for drinks and a nibble -- midtown/uptown?

TorontoJo Feb 21, 2010 02:06 PM

Sometimes DH and I don't want to have a full dinner, but enjoy just having a drink and an appetizer or two. We feel guilty doing that at a regular table in a restaurant, but are much more comfortable in a bar area or lounge of a restaurant. For example, we like the bar at Coquine when we're in the mood for a rather boisterous environment. Even the bar at Milestones (I know, I know) at Empress Walk is good for a drink right before catching a movie there.

Unfortunately, it seems like most of the restaurants we frequent don't have a bar area in which to do this. So I'm turning to the hounds -- what are your recs for good spots for this kind of experience? Anything from quiet and intimate to loud and buzzing are good. Midtown to uptown would be preferred. Any kind of cuisine is fine.

  1. TorontoJo Feb 22, 2010 12:55 PM

    Thanks, everyone! There are definitely a few places mentioned that I hadn't thought of. Any more suggestions north of Eg are welcome! :)

    11 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo
      juno Feb 22, 2010 01:58 PM

      If Chase Wine Bar has a lounge area, I missed it the one time I went there for dinner a few years ago. Maybe there is one, or maybe they've added one since, but I don't recall it at all, at all. But I do recall the food: acceptable, but no more than that. And the whole fish of the day, which they assured me was one kind of fish, turned out to be - upon presentation - another kind of fish. Not nice, though the fish was decent enough, I suppose. Seems to me that, despite the name, it's yet another mainly Italian menu on a strip of Yonge Street replete with Italian restos.

      1. re: juno
        phoenikia Feb 22, 2010 02:31 PM

        You're right, juno. The menu is pretty much a standard north TO Italian menu. Chase is owned by the people who owned the Posticino on Mt. Pleasant (now the only Posticino is in the West End). That being said, my friends who recommended it to me are Italian (if that means anything), and they were happy with Chase for a quick meal if they wanted to eat in the neighbourhood.

        If someone just wanted appetizers and wine, rather than a primi or secondi, Chase does offer several antipasti including calamari & an antipasto platter.


        BTW, TorontoJo, I haven't tried the lounge at Centro- so I'm not sure how the service has been lately. It was one of the place suggested to me when I was looking for an upscale place for drinks north of Eglinton and south of York Mills, but we ended up at another establishment;-) I would think the downturn in the economy could mean friendlier service at Centro?

        1. re: phoenikia
          MeMeMe Feb 23, 2010 09:03 AM

          I was at Centro recently - in the lounge. I would say the service was almost overly friendly! They actually comped us Prosecco b/c the dim sum menu wasn't available (it was the slowest night of the year and very very cold out).

          1. re: MeMeMe
            peppermint pate Feb 23, 2010 09:08 AM

            Centro serves dim sum? Italian-esque dim sum????

            1. re: peppermint pate
              JamieK Feb 23, 2010 12:44 PM

              When you serve prosecco with dim sum, it becomes Italian-esque, lol

              1. re: JamieK
                peppermint pate Feb 24, 2010 07:09 AM

                LOL - but seriously, dim sum? Is it any good? I haven't been to Centro's since maybe the mid-90's - guess things have changed a lot.

                1. re: peppermint pate
                  JamieK Feb 24, 2010 09:26 AM

                  I've never been to Centro but it doesseem far-fetched to have dim sum at an Italian resto. I'm wondering if MEeMeMe might be mistaken as there is no mention of dim sum on their online menus...

                  1. re: JamieK
                    sloweater Feb 24, 2010 09:32 AM

                    I wouldn't be surprised if Centro has dim sum downstairs. For many years, they offered very credible sushi in the lounge. Now that Jason Carter (Susur/Madeleine) is heading up the kitchen, it makes sense that there might be a Chinese influence on the lounge menu.

            2. re: MeMeMe
              MeMeMe Feb 24, 2010 09:36 AM

              Yes - i haven't had their dim sum, but I believe on Friday and Saturday nights, that is the cuisine in the lounge. Strange but true. I went there specifically for the dim, but the dim sum chef took the night off due to low reservations.

              1. re: MeMeMe
                JamieK Feb 24, 2010 12:01 PM

                Well, there you go, wonders never cease. Maybe they'll get increased reservations for dim now that more people know about it.

                1. re: JamieK
                  TorontoJo Feb 24, 2010 12:31 PM

                  Indeed! I'm intrigued and am putting it on my list.

      2. f
        fickle Feb 22, 2010 08:43 AM

        Around Summerhill, we like sitting at the bar at Monk's Table (ex. Abbott on the HIll), Rebel House and Globe Earth.

        1. p
          peppermint pate Feb 22, 2010 06:49 AM

          Hi TorontoJo - we also love sitting at a bar and snacking or even eating a full dinner there - for midtown spots, I'd suggest Pastis, Cava and L'Unita.

          1. JamieK Feb 22, 2010 06:35 AM

            Didier has a bar area.

            1. p
              phoenikia Feb 21, 2010 09:15 PM

              I haven't been, but some good friends like Chase Wine Bar.

              Agree that Centro's Lounge might be another option- but I think the lounge is only open on certain nights?

              Have also enjoyed appetizers & drinks at the Abbot, Chimichanga and Milagro (might add I realize TorontoJo is familiar with Milagro ;-))

              Haven't dined at Wildfire, but afaik, they also have a bar area? Phoebe's, the bar part of Zee Grill, might also be an option (I've only dined at Zee).

              1 Reply
              1. re: phoenikia
                TorontoJo Feb 22, 2010 12:57 PM

                I totally forgot about Chase -- never been there, but always wondered. I think that may be the next stop.

                Have you been to Centro's lounge? The first and only time I went to Centro was about 10 years ago, and the service was so atrociously snobby that it turned me off of the restaurant completely. But if they've mellowed out, I'd be game to try again.

              2. Rabbit Feb 21, 2010 05:01 PM

                - This is complete speculation since I've never set foot in the place, but do they have a nice bar area at Globe Earth (although it might be too far south)?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rabbit
                  MeMeMe Feb 22, 2010 05:25 AM

                  Globe Earth does have a nice bar and some good nibbly food. Le Petit Castor (during the week when it's quiet and not such a meet market) also has a nice bar for eating.

                2. w
                  Wino In Training Feb 21, 2010 04:12 PM

                  Centro. Cava. Five Doors North? I'm wracking my brain for anything else.

                  1. jlunar Feb 21, 2010 03:49 PM

                    It's odd, but I can think of plenty of places downtown, but just nothing up North. I don't know if it's because I always do the sit-down eating when I'm there or I'm just not hitting the right spots. Maybe Smokeless Joe's? Any of the pubs would do, I'd think too. There's one just North of Yonge and Eg on the East side. Any of the hotels in Yorkville would do as well, I'd think. Sorry, not very helpful! I'll post again when my mental drive up Yonge yields any other possibilities.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jlunar
                      TorontoJo Feb 21, 2010 03:53 PM

                      Heh, thanks -- that's the exact position I find myself in as well. I can think of lots of places that would fit the bill downtown, but I can't think of anything North of St. Clair. And while I have no problem heading downtown for dinner, it's less practical when we're just looking to step out for an hour or so for a quick drink and app.

                    2. _VIXEN Feb 21, 2010 03:37 PM

                      I highly suggest Rain for you and the hubby very beautiful yet hip and cool and vibrant where you can go for drinks and have appetizers and dinners, and its actually runned from one of the famous chefs from food network here is the website take a look and it is right in Toronto City hope I helped http://www.rainrestaurant.ca/rain.htm

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: _VIXEN
                        jlunar Feb 21, 2010 03:43 PM

                        FYI Rain has closed and is now Ame. Same peeps though.

                        1. re: jlunar
                          Kitchen Imp Feb 22, 2010 06:07 PM

                          Ame (formerly Rain) website: http://amecuisine.com/

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