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May 23, 2010 11:29 AM

Mind-blowing dinner in Toronto?

I have not had a meal in Toronto that has blown me away since Susur left town. Have been recently to North 44, Auberge du Pommier, Canoe. While all good they were just not other-worldly, nothing like, say, Le Bernardin or Jean-Georges in Manhattan, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, or The French Laundry in Yountville. I am not a complete snob, but could someone tell me, please, where in this city I am going to find a meal that really wows me, with gracious, professional, non-attitudinal service to match? Somewhere on the same plane as Susur, with a chef who REALLY takes your breath away. Is there such a place? What do you think?

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  1. There's nothing that's really going to wow you here. Not on the levels of any of the restaurants you mentioned. In fact, not even close to the level of the restaurant's you mentioned. That said, I don't know if any of the restaurants you've mentioned have wowed me in the past so perhaps we have different tastes. Susur certainly didn't wow me to the point of taking my breath away.

    I dunno, I would just eat at mom and pop spots in the city and save my money for other cities and countries.

    1. I'm not really that jaded but Chez Panisse never 'wowed' me, it was very local and concerned about interesting food, but never wowed me. LB and JG in both excellent but I would consider top notch in both quality of food and service but still not 'wowed' and I am sorry to say I have yet to do French Laundry. In any case I still don't think Susur on his best day matched any of these. I still have great meals both food and service in Toronto and other places....I can feel pleased to spend my $20 or $200 per person without needing to be 'wowed'. It is all very subjective.

      601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

      1. Now its not right in Toronto, but the most mind-blowing meals I have had are in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The first is at the Pellar Estates winery and the other at the Prince of Wales hotel. Both had menus with local ingredients done in a unique way, incredible sommeliers who recommended the perfect wines (Ontario, of course), perfect service, and warm ambiance.

        In Toronto, some of my most mind-blowing meals have been at the classics: Truffles at Four Seasons (RIP), Canoe, and Scaramouche (I actually prefer the pasta bar). I know that they do not compare to New York and the such. But do they have to? What are you basing mind-blowing on? The most mind-blowing pizza I have ever had was from a hole-in-the-wall in Rome. Certainly not comparable to The French Laundry in terms of variety, service, and decor, but the freshness of the ingredients and the perfection of the food at hand was mind-blowing.

        With that in mind, there are many mind-blowing restaurants in Toronto, if not just for a single dish. And keep in mind that sometimes, the "service experience" may be just the opposite of what is traditionally thought of as mind-blowing but still leave an impression that makes you want to come back again and again.

        Sorry if I got carried away.

        1. Old Splendido is as close to TFL as I've ever had in here. But like others have said, right now in Toronto, there's nothing that comes even close. Susur was great and occasion-worthy, but I wouldn't have equated it with TFL at any time.

          In general, I think The Black Hoof and the Hoof Cafe are the most interesting places to eat right now. Though you couldn't eat there all the time (menus are short), and it's not what I'd call fine dining. Really good food though.

          Splendido is still a great place to eat, though it is more casual, the service level remains high (and is what most reminded me of TFL).

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

          601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

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

          1. I find these "how come Toronto isn't Manhattan or Napa" posts kind of exhausting... but if you're a wallet-blowing type you might look at Hashimoto. I cannot recommend first hand since we're just not inclined to make the financial commitment right now, but it's supposed to be quite special and perhaps mind-blowing. Sushi Kaji might give you another alternative if you're willing to move away from continental cuisine. And there are some people around here (not me!) that could probably tell you where to go for some excellent Chinese north of the city.

            Otherwise, I think jlunar's counsel to support and enjoy some of our smaller and more interesting enterprises makes good sense.

            Sushi Kaji
            860 The Queensway, Toronto, ON M8Z1N7, CA