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SFF (Single Female Foodie) Seeks Some Ideas for Solo Toronto Weekend

s
shaiken May 19, 2010 07:18 AM

I'm a mid-40's New Yorker, leaving the family behind for a weekend of eating / sleeping / wandering / relaxing / shopping & dreaming in Toronto in July. I've booked at room at the Thompson and while I have not researched all of the transportation options, I'm willing to hop in a cab (bus / train / whatever) for a good meal! From Friday to Sunday I'll be able to get in 2 lunches, 1 breakfast, 1 brunch and two dinners.

I've done all the foodie restaurants in NYC, so am looking for unique to Toronto restaurants, with lots of style / atmosphere, great local / organic ingredients and not a lot of attitude. This is what I've come up with so far:

Dinners:

Black Hoof / Cafe
E.A.B.
Spendido

Since I only have two dinners....do any of these do a good lunch? How far ahead do I need to reserve (I know Black Hoof doesn't take reso's)? I figured I'd eat at the bar at Splendido, so probably no need for a reso there. E.A.B. sounds really intriguing. What to do, what to do?

Lunches:

I figure one lunch I'll eat wandering around the market.
Any ideas for a second lunch....maybe somewhere with a great outdoor (roof / patio / waterfront) location since, hopefully, the weather will be nice in July?

Breakfast / Brunch:

Niagra Street Cafe looks good for brunch on Sunday (bacon jam? seriously?! Yum).
Ideas for breakfast on Saturday - or should I sleep in and order room service?!

Anything great I've missed, that is particularly suitable for a solo diner?

Thanks!

-Sue

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

The Black Hoof
928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

  1. t
    tasoid May 20, 2010 12:48 AM

    Great that your staying at the new Thompson Hotel, I live in the hotel (above the 11th floor is residences). Have to disagree with the Chowhounders about Niagara Street Cafe, the food is great but it is not condusive to solo dining. Try Buca, one block from the hotel and sit at the wine bar. Unfortunately they have no website but the food is casual fine Italian dining (trendy space) with a good wine list. I also second Canoe for lunch on Friday, one of the best places in the city to spend a Friday afternoon. IMO

    -----
    Niagara Street Cafe
    169 Niagara St, Toronto, ON M5V1C9, CA

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

    1. syoung May 19, 2010 02:48 PM

      As someone mentioned above, a number of food and other festivals happen during the summer in Toronto, so check torontolife.com or toronto.com before you come for information. As well, just want to wish you well in your trek up here. A number of us do regular visits to Manhattan for food and shopping, so it's nice to hear of someone doing the reverse trek. Too bad the US$ these days doesn't go as far as it used to up here. :-)

      1. c
        canadianbeaver May 19, 2010 10:12 AM

        Sitting at the window seats (bar stools) overlooking Toronto for lunch is really nice at Canoe. Great view and great food.

        1. p
          peppermint pate May 19, 2010 09:20 AM

          Very funny - I'm a similarly aged Toronto girl who has recently been thinking of taking a little "me time" away from the family and hanging for a similar couple of days in one of my favourite cities, New York. So let's just say I'm picking up what you're putting down, as the saying goes.

          I like meandering chow strolls and for that, I would definitely recommend the Kensington
          Market/Chinatown combo. There are vintage stores, cool coffee spots (Louie's or Manic), you can grab some tapas at Torito, papusas, drink from a freshly opened young coconut in Chinatown, dim sum, pho, maybe Mother's Dumplings, etc. It's sort of LES-Bowery-ish in vibe.

          Black Hoof is a great choice or maybe the cafe for brunch. You could combine it with a bit of a walk/shop/nibble/gallery viewing along West Queen West, the Ossington strip, Trinity-Bellwoods park.

          There are some great open kitchens with bar seating in Toronto these days which is always fun when you're on your own. Guu is quite unique - very boisterous and fun izakaya bar - also loved my recent meal at Origin. You might also try and squeeze in a few hours at The Distillery, a renovated old distillery (duh) area with cobbled streets and cute retail/gallery spaces - grab a sandwich at Brick Street Bakery and some chocolates at Soma. It's a nice walk from there to St. Lawrence Market - actually that would be a good Saturday morning combo.

          Have a great break!!!!!!!!!!

          -----
          Mother's Dumplings
          421 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON , CA

          St. Lawrence Market
          92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

          Torito
          276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

          Brick Street Bakery
          55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

          Guu
          398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

          The Black Hoof
          928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

          2 Replies
          1. re: peppermint pate
            s
            shaiken May 19, 2010 09:37 AM

            PP - I love it! Has the makings of a Nora Ephron movie. I'd love to hear about your plans for NY. Drop me an email if you want to share - I know I love talking about my upcoming trips, but not everyone is always so enthusiastic to hear about them.

            All of your recs are great and good to know I can get a non-evening meal at Black Hoof Cafe. Throw in a massage and a new pair of shows and it's starting to look like the perfect weekend.

            Looking forward to hearing from you - a kindred, hungry, wanderlusting soul!

            sparmet@optonline.net

            -----
            The Black Hoof
            928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

            1. re: shaiken
              p
              peppermint pate May 19, 2010 09:55 AM

              Ha - yes, this could be our own "Julie & Julia" moment. Harvey Weinstein, are you there?

              I was also thinking that you should check for any food/cultural festivals that are going on while you're in town - there's quite a lot of them in the summer.

              Oh yeah, and one more thing - I know I'm giving you conflicting advice now - but you should definitely consider The Brickworks farmer's market on the Saturday morning. Totally local vibe, so fun, lots of yummy treats, pretty little hiking trails nearby - I would make this a "must" on your list.

              I will drop you a line - cheers!!

          2. f
            Flexitarian May 19, 2010 09:19 AM

            You could sit at the bar at Malena if you want great seafood. The place has gotten rave reviews since it opened a couple months ago. Great ambience.

            1. g
              gourmetnista May 19, 2010 08:46 AM

              Don't miss Origin. Get a seat at the open kitchen and you can chat with the staff while they cook. I was there last night and posted my review of Origin on Chow if you want more details on the food and ambience.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gourmetnista
                s
                shaiken May 19, 2010 09:08 AM

                Great review, gourmetnista. Looks / sounds fantastic, AND, they serve lunch. Definitely on the list. Thanks!

              2. Splendid Wine Snob May 19, 2010 08:27 AM

                Definitely don't miss brunch or a dinner at Niagara Street Cafe.

                You may also want to consider walking around Kensington Market/Chinatown to grab some cheap eats. Caplansky's deli is right at Brunswick/College-located near the entrance to the market from College. You are also not far from the Harbord village strip where there are numerous restaurant options (including Splendido). Gallergy Grill also serves a nice brunch in a gorgeous room (at Hart House at the University of Toronto). This area is all within a 15 minute walk radius.

                Enjoy your stay.

                SWS

                5 Replies
                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                  s
                  shaiken May 19, 2010 08:37 AM

                  Thanks, SWS! All of your suggestions are on my radar, except for Gallergy Grill. I'll check it out. I'm a sucker for a gorgeous room.

                  They'll have to roll me home.....

                  1. re: shaiken
                    a
                    acd123 May 19, 2010 10:22 AM

                    Yeah, if you like gorgeous rooms, do Gallery Grill for brunch. The food is great.

                    It's in a very old, beautiful building at U of T called Hart House.

                    Follow the link for a photo of one of the rooms in Hart House. http://www.myfovea.com/images/2008121.... If you're looking for modern, sleek desig, it's not the right place.

                    -----
                    Gallery Grill
                    7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

                    1. re: acd123
                      d
                      dubchild May 19, 2010 08:13 PM

                      I would definitely recommend the Gallery Grill for brunch, but I thought it was closed for the summer.

                      -----
                      Gallery Grill
                      7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

                      1. re: dubchild
                        e
                        evansl May 22, 2010 08:25 AM

                        No, it isn't.

                        1. re: evansl
                          sloweater May 22, 2010 09:13 AM

                          Sadly, Gallery Grill does close for the summer. It's a big source of frustration for me, as it is one of my top 3 favourite restaurants in the city. If I remember correctly, their last day of service is June 30, but you may want to confirm that by calling: 416 978-2445.

                          -----
                          Gallery Grill
                          7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA

                2. s
                  shaiken May 19, 2010 07:42 AM

                  One more.....just came across Colborne Lane. Maybe instead of E.A.B.?

                  Too many restaurants, too little time.

                  -Sue

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

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: shaiken
                    t
                    todc1996 May 19, 2010 08:15 AM

                    i think you mean L.A.B. i haven't been but after reading all the great chowhound reviews, it's on the top of my list.
                    you might want to consider senior antonio tapas & wine bar (chiado's sister restaurant) on college....toronto does portuguese better than nyc. great place to have some snacks and some great wines by the glass.
                    i think i would cross splendido off the list. although, it's a great restaurant, it doesn't do anything 'better' or 'different' than you can find all over nyc.
                    origin may be a better addition- the kitchen side dining makes for a great experience. also small plates, so you'll be able to try several things.
                    i'd also add some dim sum to your list....(i was so sad to hear dim sum go go is gone in nyc) you can get a good fix here.

                    1. re: todc1996
                      s
                      shaiken May 19, 2010 08:36 AM

                      Yes! L.A.B. (Live and Breathe, I knew - how I can mis-spell three letters, I do not know).

                      I will cross off Spendido. Maybe have some late afternoon tapas - sounds like a good way to squeeze in another dining experience!

                      I've read some good things about Origin. I'll take a closer look.

                      Dim sum is great, but I think more fun to do with a crowd.

                      Thanks for the help! I'll report back.

                      1. re: shaiken
                        estufarian May 19, 2010 10:31 AM

                        I have an alternative for Splendido - it appears you'll be here for Fri lunch, so make that your Splendido visit - they've just re-started lunch (Fri only) and it's outstanding (think Bouley, Jean-Georges - except not quite as airy).

                        Also Dim Sum at Lai Wah Heen is outstanding - It's also the most 'formal' of the Dim Sum places and you'll find some upscale items that are way above 'fun'.
                        I usually take out-of-town visitors to Lai Wah Heen and Chiado (Senhor Antonio is now their 'bar menu') as these are the two places that are 'different from NY'.

                        And Colborne Lane/Origin/L.A.B. are 'alternatives - don't go to more than one. I've listed them in order of Formal-Casual (which is also decreasing price).

                        Love the 'Hoof' (except the line-ups) and Niagara Street Cafe, so endorse both of those.

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

                        Niagara Street Cafe
                        169 Niagara St, Toronto, ON M5V1C9, CA

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

                        Chiado
                        864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

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