Which restaurant for romantic date in Toronto
I'm taking a girl I've been recently dating to a restaurant tonight. Not sure where to go. My options so far are:
1) Harbord Room on Harbord Street
2) Gio Rana's Reall Really Nice Restaurant on ... Queen? or Dundas? East
3) Trevor Kitchen and Bar
4) Zucca Trattoria on Yonge and Eglinton
What I'm looking for are
a) Romantic ambiance and atmosphere. Not too bright, perhaps candles, etc.
b) Obviously good food and service.
c) Don't really care about the wine list. My date's not that big on wine and alcohol in general
d) Budget: $100-120 per person, including two glasses of wine, appetizer, dessert.
Any suggestions? Thanks.
PS. My date and I are in our mid-20s, in case it matters :)
I think your age does matter a little. My wife and I are in our 30's (her early, me less early!) by comparison.
For instance, Auberge du Pommier is a very nice romantic restaurant, but there is no doubt that it attracts an older crowd. If you want romantic and hip then it would not be a great choice. That being said, it is quiet (old people make less noise - haha), romantic and the food is normally very good.
Personally, I think if you want romantic, think a smaller restaurant. As for your choices so far I would say that Harbord is the best one, but noisy. Gio Rana's - not a fan, the food is a let down imo. Trevor Kitchen and Bar - the food is inconsistent, it could be great, other nights not so much - it is also noisy. Zucca's food is not good imo.
Scaramouche is often suggested, I will say if you can get a table by the windows the view is great. The food is always great and the service impeccable. I personally find it too noisy to be romantic but other people's opinions differ.
La Palette in Kensington is very cozy as is the Niagara Street Cafe on Niagara south of King St. Both have very good food and normally good service (though not at the level of Scaramouche).
My wife and I had a really nice "date" at Simple Bistro on Mount Pleasant recently. The food is excellent, well priced and the service was friendly, warm and timely. I actually went after reading good reviews here and I have to agree that this may be one of Toronto's best new spots in the last couple years. It actually made me feel better about some recent closings of some personal favs (and the painful death rattles of some others).
Haven't been to Trevor Kitchen and, though I've been meaning to, still haven't made it to Harbord Room - so can't comment on them.
Gio Rana's is a definite no IMHO - it's fun, but not at all romantic.
Though I love Scaramouche and Auberge, I think they're both a bit too "old" for 20-somethings, unless it's a super-special occasion.
I (and I think a lot of others on this board) disagree with JPJ on the subject of Zucca; the food is very good (though I had a mediocre experience during a 'licious once). I'm not sure it would be my absolute top pick for romance, but it's fairly romantic (dim lights, candles, fairly quiet).
I would also suggest Weezies and L'Unita for a romantic atmosphere and great food. L'Unita is relatively noisy and not obviously romantic, but I still find it romantic (great room).
I agree with Torontofoodie about L'Unita... great date spot and despite it's busy vibe I find it romantic too. I think Zucca is a bit staid for 20-somethings and I find the food just OK. The basement-ness of Trevor gets me down (no pun intended) and we've had the spotty experiences re: food and service that others describe. I still haven't been to HR (gotta get there!).
A few other ideas... perhaps Parmour (Ossington) or Torito (again, it has a casual busy-ness but I the lighting is right and I think food-sharing is good for dates... note: not everyone feels that way)... and I second Niagara Street and La Palette.
Although I just re-read your post and I think your date has already been.. where did you end up and how was it (I'll leave this post in hope it helps in future!)
I would suggest Sidecar on College West: http://www.sidecarrestaurant.ca/. The tables are bit close together, but the food is wonderful, service was perfect when I was there. Great cocktails too.
I was only at Trevor once, but I was not impressed. I like Gio Rana's for a group or casual, don't really think of it as romantic - although romance can be found anywhere - even a little dive ;)
For the ultimate romantic dinner, go to Bravi and be sure to book the special elevator table. It's tucked away in the back of the restaurant. Once your main courses come, they will offer to raise up the elevator so you can dine completely alone. It's very unique and the food is good. I recall a delicious butternut squash ravioli on the menu. check it out http://www.bravi.ca
I'm echoing what a lot of others here have already said but of those on your short-list, I'd put Harbord Room at the very top (but book in advance!) and Zucca a few notches below (I really like the food and great service but I find it an older room, a bit quiet). I used to like Gio Ranna's more, though never really for a date - but acoustics are awful and food was pretty mediocre on our last visit. I used to love Trevor when it first opened but it became quite inconsistent.
Buca tops my list of new spots and it hits all your criteria. I'm also a big fan of Torito. Other suggestions - Delux and, based on other's rec's, Weezie's and Niagara Street Cafe (both of which have inexplicably stayed on top of my "to do" list for far too long). Oh hey, and what about Gilead now that they've opened for dinner?