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Help...need an interesting and higher end restaurant for this Friday

Background:
Anniversary is this Friday.
Complications:
Wife is a bit more traditional in the sense that she wants good service and if there's foie gras and a nice meat dish on the menu, she's happy. She's a Scaramouche gal.
Me, I'm all for the foie gras, but I want something interesting (i.e. I don't like going to places where I feel I could make the food myself). And I like raw things, spicy things.
Current situation:
We're booked at Origin this Friday. I think it fits the interesting category, but reviews are somewhat mixed (mostly good) AND I'm wondering if it's an anniversary kind of place, as it might be too loud.

Any suggestions?
George springs to mind. I've never been.

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  1. George is one of my fav special dinner places, however, I would say it is more on the traditional line as opposed to interesting. Nonetheless, I'd be willing to bet it would be a better dinning experience than Origin which I class more in the trendy rather outstanding food category.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JennaBean

      I agree with Jenna's summation of Origin. More trendy than good food. I like the space, though I don't think I'd call it romantic.

      I think if your wife like Scaramouche, George is closer to it than Origin.

    2. I don't know if this is high end enough for you or in the right area, but I'd suggest Niagara Street Cafe. Not sure if the online menu is current (although it's changed since I last looked), but there are definitely some interesting things on there (sweetbreads, snails, etc). I've always enjoyed the food and service here, but it's a smallish place and can get loud when busy. I find it quite romantic, myself.

      http://www.niagarastreetcafe.com/menu...

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

      5 Replies
      1. re: dxs

        You know...Niagara St. cafe was one of our considerations. That's why I wrote "higher end" not "high end". I've only been once, but had a great experience. Have to re-consider it.

        1. re: grandgourmand

          Highly recommend NSC. I adore Nick Liu's style, and it is indeed a very cozy/romantic atmosphere. There will be dishes your wife will enjoy as well as some more interesting picks. And its not outrageously priced either.

          1. re: grandgourmand

            It is a lovely space and the food has always been good. It is not in the same class as George but good nonetheless.

            1. re: grandgourmand

              gg, if you were considering NSC for tonight I hope you see this before you make the final decision. I was there last night and maybe it was just an off night, but I didn't have the best experience (after many good ones). Food and service were fine (although portions seemed on the small side, next time I wll probably order some sides to go with the mains as I left hungry, although as a matter of principle I resent having to do that), but I don't know what was up with the kitchen because it took forever for the food to come out. We were seated shortly after 8pm and did not receive mains until after 9:30pm! Normally I would chalk this up to a bad night and not even comment on it, but given that tonight would be a special occasion for you I'd probably go with another option.

              The rabbit terrine was delish though, and everyone else in the restaurant seemed happy. I'd go again, just not for a special occasion.

              1. re: dxs

                I'm not going to NSC tonight. Your post was a reminder for me to get there one night for a casual event. I really like the place and kick myself for not going more often.

          2. I've found the food at George to be interesting & upscale, and well-executed. Last time I was there, one of the ingredients was sea urchin, which I would consider interesting for a Toronto restaurant.

            The service is top notch, the tables are well-spaced, and they have one of the nicest patios in Toronto.

            http://georgeonqueen.com/menus.asp

            Current dinner menu looks interesting to me:
            Firsts
            Pacific Yellow Fin Tuna, Three Salads, Black Olive 19
            Wild BC Salmon, Pistachio Farro, Rhubarb 18
            BC Dungeness Crab, Pea Shoot Slaw, Sugar Peas 21
            Wagyu Beef, Fava Bean Salad, Arugula Sprouts 24
            Seconds
            Veal Sweetbreads, White Lasagna, Lemon Thyme Dust 18
            BC Spot Prawns, Spring Vegetable Salad, Pastina 22
            Atlantic Stone Bass, Artichoke Picklese, Mint 18
            Tandoori Hen, Grilled White Asparagus, Mango Relish 19
            Thirds
            Alberta Beef Striploin, Carrot Kraut, Potato Purée 22
            Ontario Veal Tenderloin, Fiddlehead Tempura, Caponata 21
            Pacific Halibut, Brazil Nut Curry, Mussel Broth 23
            Ontario Rack of Lamb, Pecorino Perogies, Sauterne Fruit 24

            -----
            George
            111 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 1S2, CA

            4 Replies
            1. re: phoenikia

              Bonus if it's nice: Their patio is my fave in the city. It's a lovely courtyard.

              1. re: jlunar

                Can you make reservations specifically for the patio?

                1. re: jamesm

                  No idea. I'm sure you could request it though. But it has been a very long time since I had gone.

                  1. re: jlunar

                    Yes, you can make reservations for the patio.

            2. I think George is a great pick... but you might also consider Colborne Lane. It's imaginative, but it will be more classically paced than the small plate menu at Origin. And I think it is occasion-worthy.

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: Rabbit

                I agree with the Colborne Lane suggestion. I love both CB and Origin (both the food and atmosphere). Origin is more of a casual, fun place where you order a bunch of things and share. It can be loud. So can CB. CB is definitely more formal, mainly in terms of the food. It's still a place where you can feel comfortable in jeans. I think it's more appropriate for a special occassion.

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

              2. Ok, thanks everyone, i'm definitely re-thinking the Origin plan. George is high on the list now. And Niagara St. is back on the radar.

                Does anyone know if the George tasting menu consists of dishes that aren't on the menu, or is it a mix of things on the menu?

                6 Replies
                1. re: grandgourmand

                  It's all items on the menu. And everyone in the party gets the same tasting menu (at least that was my experience). So honestly, I found it better to just pick and choose the things on the menu that appealed to me and make my own tasting menu.

                  And I agree, it's the loveliest courtyard/patio in the city. Especially when it gets dark and all the little white lights in the trees shine. Unfortunately, I have not be wowed by my meals the two times I've visited. It's been a while, though.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    just confirming there is only one tasting menu available. i haven't been keen on george but it's been a long time since i've visited. friends have declared it reliably good though.

                    i'd probably go with niagara st cafe myself.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                      Off to George at the end of the month-looking forward to finally checking it out!

                    2. re: TorontoJo

                      TorontoJo, I just had the 10 courses Tasting menu at George. It is the first time I had tasting menu there, I used to only order a la carte at George before. There are dishes in the tasting menu that are not from the a la carte menu. Also, the two of us have different courses so the kitchen came out with 20 courses for us that night.

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        Thanks for the report! They've clearly changed things recently then. Glad to hear it. Hope you enjoyed the meal (sadly, my two meals there were only so-so, so I haven't been back in a few years).

                        1. re: TorontoJo

                          I've had the tasting there 4 times, not sure if that's reliable enough. But anyways. Each time I've had it, everyone got something different. Of course there were only 2 of us each time. All the items are directly from the a la carte menu. However, if you order the vegetarian tasting; they are completely different from the a la carte, and not simply a vegetable replacing the meat portion of the plate.

                          Still....I am glad I am not longer seeing a vegetarian.