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Apr 28, 2010 04:53 AM

Busy, fun restaurant for group (like Buca)...

I posted earlier about a group dinner (10-12 people) I'm planning for mid-June.

We were going to do fine-dining, but after some consideration decided that a busier and fun-er (I know that's not really a word) environment might be better for our slightly awkward group of random friends and divorced parents with new spouses.

We were originally going with Buca but they are closed for a private event on the night of our party (and our date is inflexible). Other considerations include Globe Bistro, Malena (although my sister pitched a small scale fit about all the fish on the menu... so we have fusspots and vegetarians to mollify), or perhaps Le Select or Nota Bene. We wouldn't rule out a private space, but are also concerned that it might turn into a cage match given some of the divorced parents.

Any suggestions are most appreciated. Price is not an issue, but we want fun with a bit of buzz. Food should be western-ish... no Asian, Indian, sushi, etc. since that would weird out the dad(s). And downtown (basically that square south-ish of Bloor, north of Front, west of Sherbourne, and east of Ossington-ish).

Many thanks -

Le Select
432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

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

604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

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  1. Origin! Great vibe, fun for a group. And you probably need to make a reservation this far out to get a table that big.

    And btw, I assume you mean West of Sherbourne and East of Ossington. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Ah, Origin is an great suggestion (and I edited my post re: easts-and-wests... I'm admittedly directionally challenged).

    2. Terroni Adelaide has two appropriate private areas that can be reserved. One table at the back ("tinello") right seats 10, 12 might be a bit of a squeeze. The better option (though somewhat secluded) is the dining room near the entrance to the right ("ufficio"). You can be as raucous as you want though still have a connection to the buzz of the main restaurant.

      Torito in Kensington reserves tables for groups larger than 6, and the ambiance there is fun. Try to get the main floor, though the downstairs area is typically busy on Fri/Sat as well.

      I'd also recommend Banu on Queen West. It's a Persian restaurant that serves IMO the best grilled meats in town. I've organized a party there for 14 people in the back mezzanine area and the restaurant was extremely accommodating. The food took a bit longer than expected, but they sent free vodka shots which made the waiting almost more fun than eating.

      Your suggestion of Nota Bene is an excellent one and the service there is hard to beat without doing private dining at Splendido or somesuch upscale affair.

      88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

      276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

      777 Queen St West, Toronto, ON M6J 1G1, CA

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

      4 Replies
      1. re: vidkid

        Celi Cottage is both fun and extremely busy these days. We popped in last Friday night and could not believe how packed it was. Not sure about the food because we only had drinks but I saw a number of people having macaroni and cheese and it looked fab.

        Two other spots come to mind - Ruby Watch Co and Queen Margherita Pizza. They're all about fun, casual and hopping at the moment.

        I'll be curious to hear where you end up Rabbit. Please keep us updated, and have a great time.

        1. re: millygirl

          i had a brunch at ceili cottage a couple months back and it wasn't very good in my opinion. the full breakfast they offered was just ok, rather pricey for what it was. the mac and cheese was lacking cheese flavour and quite dry. looked lovely, but taste was not there. soup was fine, but i recall an odd mix of vegetables.... quite plain.

          funny that you're picking east of ossington-ish... ossington obviously has a lot of lively places to go. was at bohmer a couple weeks back and the menu would fit your needs (especially the no concerns about cost considering the venison tartare is $17!!!) along with the atmosphere. very seen and be seen.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            Ossington's still good, princess! I actually wanted to keep Oss on the map... I just don't want to go much further west. And I'll definitely check out Bohmer.

            93 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

            1. re: Rabbit

              a note about bohmer, the food is good but it's not the best part of the place, the atmosphere is. i hope they tweak the rabbit dish, the bacon is too strong in smoke and salt and it masks the rabbit, and that my panna cotta was a pure fluke because it was more gelatin than cream. my pickeral was superb though. if you're booking early enough the large center communal table might be perfect for you to take over entirely, otherwise there are some good natural space divisions and large tables in the space.

      2. We booked at Origin... thanks so much for everyone's suggestions. And I'll report back after our evening!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Rabbit

          Yay, please do report back! From the snacks part of the menu, please don't overlook the deviled eggs -- while they sound pedestrian and oh-so-retro, they were surprisingly one of my favourite dishes of the night. Simple and perfect -- creamy yolk, lovely tang from the gremolata and a just-right salty/crispy hit from the fried pancetta. The tostones and guacamole are also delish and addictive. I'd skip the patatas bravas -- not bad, just sort of meh. Skip the 3 AM chili beef -- you can get way better at someplace like Rol San for 1/3 the price. Anything seafood is pretty much guaranteed to be good. And oh yum, the bufala mozzerella with pear, honey and pine nuts! And my favourite dessert was the dulce de leche cream. It's not as caramel-ly as one might expect or want, but the dessert as a whole is so satisfying -- cold, creamy, light and an unexpected fruity hit with the freeze dried raspberries and the chunks of lemon pound cake buried underneath.


          Rol San
          323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Funny you should mention the eggs... they might sound old school, but I have been having serious deviled egg craving ever since I noticed them on the menu. Thanks for the other recs too.

            The woman who took our rez was really helpful and accommodating and I have actually started to look forward to the evening (the family weirdness was admittedly causing anxiety, but I think this place sounds pretty ideal for our group).

        2. Considering Rodney's, Boehmer, Terroni on Adelaide, NB, QMP, Malena, L'Unita + Origin for a 15 person 40th bday. Where else should I consider?

          Could Sidecar, Frank's Kitchen or Le Rossignol handle a table of 15, or are they too small?

          134 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5R2H6, CA

          Frank's Kitchen
          588 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1B2, CA

          2 Replies
          1. re: phoenikia

            Rossignol is too small for 15. The place holds 22-24, tops, but the layout wouldn't be conducive to anything but booking the place out.