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Looking for 3 or 4 great (and hopefully somewhat diverse) restaurants in downtown Toronto area

d
DGresh Apr 7, 2010 11:21 AM

My husband and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary in May by spending 4 nights in Toronto, staying at the Sheraton Toronto Centre, downtown. Our anniversary night is May 12th and I'm thinking that Colborne Lane would suit us well for that special occasion. We love a wide variety of food and like to be surprised. I'm also thinking that Canoe might be good to get some "local specialties"-- and I like the idea of Starfish (I love oysters!) though their website currently won't show the menus. I looked at Vertical and Scaramouche but their menus didn't really send me as very interesting. We won't have a car, so would kind of like to stay in the downtown area (which rules out Auberge).

Can we count on Canoe, Starfish, and Colborne Lane to deliver a "special" evening?

Are there some other ideas I ought to be considering? We're not trying to penny-pinch given the occasion, but we don't *need* to spend lots of $.

Thank you!

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Colborne Lane
45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

  1. TorontoJo Apr 7, 2010 11:49 AM

    You've picked some great restaurants! And I think you'll find Toronto's high end restaurants relatively well priced compared to the high end restaurants in Manhattan.

    I think Colborne Lane will be great for your anniversary dinner. But be aware that the main dining room is not terribly intimate and there is a large communal table in addition to a few smaller tables. If you want to make it more special, you might see if you can book the kitchen table room, which is downstairs next to the kitchen itself. If you do that, you'll have to get the 15-course tasting. Also note that the wine list is a weak point of CL. Unfortunately, really.

    Canoe is lovely -- try and get a table by the window. Food is an excellent take on Canadiana, and the service is usually excellent.

    Starfish is the most casual of the three, but a fun place to chow down on some oysters and excellent fish. The lemon tart for dessert is wonderful.

    You've got the high end of fine dining covered as well as seafood. Is there any other particular type of experience you might be looking for? I'll start by recommending for a high-end dim sum lunch at Lai Wah Heen. It's not far from where you are staying and has the best dim sum in the city. There are other great places out in the suburbs, as well, but Lai Wah Heen would work best for your needs.

    Also, if you enjoy offal and "alternative" meat cuts, Hoof Cafe is serving up one of the most innovative brunches in the city. If you do a search, you'll find lots of discussion about it. Think grilled cheese and beef tongue, french toast with foie gras, etc.

    Happy anniversary! Hope you have a great visit!

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    Lai Wah Heen
    108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

    Colborne Lane
    45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: TorontoJo
      d
      DGresh Apr 7, 2010 12:00 PM

      thanks for mentioning the dim sum; I'd seen that on one of my earlier looks here but had forgotten. That would be great-

      and I'll look into the kitchen table room at Colborne. A tasting menu is great by us.

    2. jlunar Apr 7, 2010 12:05 PM

      Just as a note: Canoe doesn't open for regular service on Sat/Sun. Plan accordingly!

      1. FoodieGirl29 Apr 7, 2010 12:17 PM

        I highly recommend the tasting menu at CL! It was definitely a foodie experience that I would never forget. If you are a fan of the chef, Claudio Aprile - think about even looking at his newer restaurant, Origin. There are lots of reviews on Chowhound.

        At CL I think it was 10 courses for $110? Which is a great deal, I thought! Prepare to spend at least three hours as each course takes a little while. Tell them it's your anniversary and see if you can reserve the cozy booth table in the corner of the restaurant.

        For Scaramouche - I would check out if Lobsterlicious is still running. It's a $65 prix fixe.

        Canoe - never had a bad meal there and the view is super romantic! Always a good choice.

        Lisa - The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide @ http://www.hipurbangirl.com

        1. CocoaChanel Apr 7, 2010 03:06 PM

          Some fantastic choices. Happy anniversary.

          Colborne Lane is excellent - food, service - all very good.

          Canoe to me is the least exciting, but I am blase about it because I am there often enough for lunch that I am finding it uninspiring. I am not sure I am the most objective.

          Starfish - fabulous fresh oysters. The seafood is pretty good, Reserve a couple of spots at the bar or at one of the bistro tables. I've never been disappointed at Starfish.

          Nota Bene is interesting food and menu. Well executed, good price point.

          Something more casual - BeerBistro - also not disappointed there. There are lots of BeerBistro posts.

          Let us know what you choose

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          Colborne Lane
          45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

          Nota Bene
          180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

          1. j
            JJewish Apr 16, 2010 11:56 AM

            Avoid Colborne Lane, it's not interesting at all, as well as corporate Canoe, and watered down Starfish.

            Scaramouche is very good, year after year. Lai Wah Heen is very good, too.

            There are not a lot of really good "fine dining" restaurants in Toronto... So, you should consider Nota Bene, as well as Cowbell, Weezie's, Harbord Room, Rodney's Oyster House, et cetera.

            Cheers,

            J.J.

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            Weezie's
            354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

            Lai Wah Heen
            108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

            Colborne Lane
            45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

            Harbord Room
            89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

            Nota Bene
            180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

            Rodney's Oyster House
            469 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1K4, CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: JJewish
              ingloriouseater Apr 16, 2010 03:52 PM

              go and enjoy colborne lane, it is a very good restaurant, avoid cowbell as it isn't near your hotel and not really worth the trip, if you are venturing out that way go instead to the local kitchen and wine bar, but be there when they open at 6 because it fills up in 20 minutes and they don't take reservations

            2. d
              DGresh May 24, 2010 09:59 AM

              I did want to report back; I made reservations at Colborne Lane and Canoe, but alas, illness in the family prevented the trip entirely. But I didn't want to be thought of as one of those who ask and never thank. Thanks for the help with this one, and maybe someday I'll have a chance to come to Toronto.

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              Colborne Lane
              45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

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