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Drawing a blank on Grandpa-worthy dinner near Union Station

  • c

Hi all,

For the life of me I can't think of anywhere to bring my grandfather within walking distance of Union Station.

Here's the story:
He and a companion are coming in by train from near London, ON on Thursday night and will have some time before embarking on a rail tour out West. I would like to take him out for an early (but not rushed) dinner. He's in his mid-80s, but active. I would say anywhere within a short walk would be ideal.

Budget should be mid-range - mains under $20 would be best. It would be nice to have the option of a decently priced glass of wine. Fresh and local ingredients are important - he has always grown his own veggies and worked with local farmers.

I'm not sure if he'd be comfortable with non-Western cuisine - basic is best.

Any and all help would be SO appreciated!! Thanks in advance!!

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  1. Lots of tourist fluff in that area....try one of the hotel restaurants or take a short cab ride to Terronis on Adelaide.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tmaras

      Sorry, but tourist fluff is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. I don't want to take him for a crummy touristy meal - and I know it's hard in the area, but the emphasis should be on fresh, local, and reasonably priced. In my experience, tourist fluff is usually frozen and overpriced.

      Terroni might be an option, but lower down the list - I'd prefer finding somewhere that takes reservations if possible.

      1. re: c.cow

        Epic in the Royal York would meet most of your criteria except price, last year we did exactly the same thing with my parents and I found the meal much better than I was expecting and there is supposed to be an emphasis on Ontario suppliers (including the herb garden and beehives they have on the roof of the hotel). Same deal with Lucien, walking distance, locavore leanings but 35 dollar mains.

        Wine Bar on Church would also work but the tradeoff there is portion size, yes the "mains" are 12 to 15 but that's not intended to be a normal restaurant main sized dish.

    2. A little higher than $20 (but not much), but very reliable, would be Le Papillon on Front, at Front and Church. It's not cutting edge, just straight on traditional French bistro. Wines by the glass. Washrooms on the same level (not tucked two floors down, behind the furnace), which is an issue for one of my family. I'll probably lower my cred (have I any?) by saying this, but I find it a very useful option for its location/style/price point. Check their website for their menu.

      Le Papillon
      69 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E1B5, CA

      1. What about Hank's? www.9church.com

        Another serviceable and easy-access option might be Biff's (although it may be a bit more corporate and/or expensive than you'd like).

        4 Replies
        1. re: Rabbit

          I second Hank's. Great vibe to the space, focus on local ingredients and not too expensive. If you don't mind walking another few blocks (or hopping a very short cab ride), I'd recommend Le Petit Dejeuner. I adore their brunch and have been eyeing the dinner menu, which look short, simple and delicious.

          Le Petit Dejeuner
          191 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1J5, CA

          1. re: Rabbit

            Just to be clear, the "Hank's" room is currently closed although they are still using the space for events and private parties. Wine Bar remains open with the new chef.

            1. re: bytepusher

              Really? Since when? I was just there for brunch a couple of weeks ago. And the web site still shows them as open.

              ETA: oh, damn. I see the web site lists the hours as only open until 4pm. So they must have stopped dinner service. Too bad.

              Well, the Wine Bar next door is still a good option!

              1. re: TorontoJo

                Ack! I didn't realize Hank's had cancelled dinner service... sorry for the bad rec!

          2. What about Tutti Matti? It is great simple Italian food. The price point may be a few dollars higher but it would be well worth it.


            Tutti Matti
            364 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V1R7, CA

            1. Biff's is quite close, just east of Yonge on Front. I have taken 70somethings to Biff's and they have enjoyed their meals. The mains range from $18-$36.

              The Keg on York is another nearby option.

              If your Grandpa likes seafood, you could also consider walking 4 blocks north on Bay to Rodney's By Bay (on Temperance), or you could take a $6-$8 taxi ride from Union to Starfish.

              Rodney's By Bay (mains $15-$28) and Starfish (mains $18-$35) serve seafood that is much tastier and higher quality than what one can usually find in London, ON. Rodney's by Bay and Starfish can be a little loud, but if it's an early, midweek dinner, noise will probably be less of a problem.

              Beer Bistro (mains $14-$24) is also within a 10 minute walk from Union.

              Beer Bistro
              18 King St. E, Toronto, ON M5C 1C4, CA

              100 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ON M5C1K9, CA

              Rodney's By Bay
              56 Temperance Street, Toronto, ON M5H 3V5, CA

              2 Replies
              1. re: phoenikia

                I find Beer Bistro really loud at the best of times. I know my 86 year old grandpa would have a hard time in that location.

                Beer Bistro
                18 King St. E, Toronto, ON M5C 1C4, CA

                1. re: JennaBean

                  I agree Beer Bistro can certainly can be loud, especially with the afterwork crowd, but I guess it depends on the time & day. I would think Beer Bistro would be much quieter at dinner on Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue & Wed nights, compared to Thu & Fri nights.

                  I've brought some 70something friends there for weekend brunch and weekday lunch, and it hasn't been loud on those occasions. I don't remember it being loud the last time I had lunch on the patio IIRC.

                  Beer Bistro
                  18 King St. E, Toronto, ON M5C 1C4, CA

              2. For proximity, my first choice would be the Library Bar in the Royal York hotel. It is less expensive than Epic (mostly under 20 with a few exceptions) and a very nice setting. I find the food at the Royal York is all generally quite good and they have a very good wine selection.

                Second choice would be Biff's. I just haven't had great experiences there but I know many who have.

                1. Thanks all!! These are all such great ideas - I have made a note to take him to Hank's if the timing ever works in the future!!

                  After considering everything and learning that we may actually be carting some carry-on bags with us (so a cab is ideal, as it turns out) we decided to go with Weezie's. I liked all of the bistro-style suggestions, and I think this will be a good fit - not too crowded, the menu isn't overwhelming, and comfortable prices.

                  So thank you all again!! I am going to keep this list for myself as well - it's especially convenient that Starfish and the Wine Bar are open on Sunday nights (when I often take a GO train back from visiting my folks and would love to have a bite out rather than rushing to the store)!!

                  354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: c.cow

                      Weezie's is small enough that you want to book a reservation no matter what night of the week it is. You never can tell. Your carry-on will be a bit of a tight squeeze. You might see if they can store it downstairs while you're there. Otherwise you might be able to slip it under the coat rack near the door.

                      Oh and the most important part: Enjoy Weezie's with Grandpa. I strongly recommend anything she does with seafood. I would avoid only one thing which is the steak. The frites are great. The steak is always oversalted.

                      354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA

                      1. re: Googs

                        Thanks, Googs - I did make a reservation yesterday, and I appreciate your advice about the carry-on (but am hoping that there will be somewhere safe to store it at the station)!

                    2. I can't remember the last time I saw my grandfather clean his plate. That is, not until the plate was full of arctic char with anchovy butter, asparagus, beets and fingerling potatoes at Weezie's. He and his companion both chose this dish (incidentally, the same one I had a few weeks ago during my first visit) and I lost track of how many times they praised it throughout the night. The fish itself is perfectly seasoned and the fresh taste of char really comes through, but the anchovy butter adds this really different, interesting flavour to the fish and to the veg. It's not a salty taste as I expected - something rich, but not heavy.

                      My SO and I were both eager to try the famous mac n cheese, which was not offered last time we visited. It was the flavour bomb described so well by so many in another thread. Lots of saltiness from the cheese, the earthiness of truffle oil, and smokiness/meatiness from the little ham chunks. A side of fresh, mildly peppery arugula was nice to break up this very rich dish.

                      Service and atmosphere made this a great night. My grandpa and his companion both loved the space and felt comfortable there. Our server was friendly, attentive, on-the-ball. And because it's such a small place and we arrived early, it was not overwhelming for the older pair. My grandpa has some major hearing difficulties and trouble with crowds sometimes. No problems at Weezie's even though it was full by the time we left.

                      Thanks so much to this board for making us aware of this place and to everyone who responded to this thread for steering us towards bistro fare. It was a wonderful night for all of us.

                      354 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A1K9, CA