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Anniversary dinner before leaving the country... where should we go?

c
c.cow Sep 9, 2010 10:11 AM

Hi all,

Next week is our anniversary and we're looking to have a nice celebratory meal. Would prefer to keep the bill under $200 with cocktails, apps, mains, a shared dessert, and either glasses or a half-litre of wine. That doesn't mean we have to spend that much - if it could be done for well under, we'd be just as happy. It would be nice to have some romantic atmosphere, but nothing stuffy. Great fish options would be a major bonus for my SO.

Here's the glitch: I'm leaving the country (without my SO) for at least a year (with a few scheduled visits back here). This isn't exactly a last supper, but it would be nice to choose the best place to do something special in TO for right now. So if there's a special dish being offered somewhere that you think is fabulous but limited, it would be great to hear about that! Otherwise, it would just be great to make sure we're picking the right place.

Is there anything today that resembles the old JK Wine Bar? We really loved the food and atmosphere for a special occasion. We've had wonderful "special occasion" meals at Biff's, and one at Splendido (with our budget, we'd probably need to bring a great bottle from home if we ended up there). We've also thought about Starfish.

Any recommendations or advice would be most appreciated!!

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

  1. jlunar Sep 9, 2010 10:41 AM

    Just FYI, Splendido has free corkage Mon-Weds if I recall correctly. Had a terrific corn soup a couple weeks back (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/sets/72157624897665462/). They treat their veggies well. I'm less enamoured of their desserts, though I did enjoy their apple cobbler for 2 immensely some months back now. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/4503936027/). We were chatting with Carlo the last time we were there and he said Monday was the new Saturday if that means anything to you.

    I really happen to like Black Hoof a lot (surprise!), though I don't know if I'd deem it romantic. They're just back from vacation, so I can't tell you what the menu is like now, but they did have a lovely fluke crudo before they left (photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/4676118027/) and a corn and n'duja pasta that I inhaled (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/4966707532/). I'm a corn fan though. Can you tell?

    If you're looking at fish, maybe Japanese? Sushi? It doesn't seem like that's what you're going for, but I thought I'd throw it out there. I like Yuzu for their omakase (http://www.foodpr0n.com/2010/05/14/om...) but people have had mixed levels of quality and I think their shari isn't awesome, but acceptable. Your mileage may vary. Very pretty presentations. Decor is not to my taste if we're talking "romantic" but I do see a lot of couples there.

    Of course, for seafood, there is Chiado which rates highly on the boards (it's been years since I've been though). Or even Chinese, but I'm not sure if I can think of any "romantic" Chinese places - maybe Lai Wah Heen if you get a corner table or window seat. Not sure...

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

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

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

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

    Yuzu
    236 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: jlunar
      c
      c.cow Sep 10, 2010 06:32 AM

      Thanks for the tip on Splendido!! That might be something to consider with the family... And thanks also for the reminder to check in at the Black Hoof before leaving! Will definitely want to see what's on the new menu!! And somehow it seems to be a good "Toronto" experience, too..

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

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

    2. p
      phoenikia Sep 9, 2010 11:25 AM

      If your SO likes fish, Zee Grill might be a good option. While it isn't exactly what I would consider romantic, the atmosphere is eclectic and sort of cozy.

      I like the food at the Wine Bar, even though it doesn't get mentioned much on this Board anymore. The Wine Bar continues to use quality local ingredients. I haven't dined there since Scott Vivian moved on to open Beast this past summer, but I didn't get the impression Scott was doing much of the hands-on in the kitchen the last time I was there. The small plates at the Wine Bar change frequently, and they are similar to the small plates that were offered when it was JKWB, highlighting whatever ingredients are in season. The atmosphere remains the same.

      Origin is another place that you might want to consider, since they also offer small plates, with a similar price range to the Wine Bar. http://origintoronto.com/#/menu/

      -----
      Zee Grill
      641 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

      Wine Bar
      9 Church St., Toronto, ON M5E 1M2, CA

      Origin
      109 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

      4 Replies
      1. re: phoenikia
        jlunar Sep 9, 2010 01:22 PM

        I'll agree with Phoenikia's assessment of Wine Bar (I too haven't dined since Vivian left, but dined the week he did leave). They're most certainly trying to keep what it was when it was JKWB. Though I did find it somewhat diminished in certain ways. But less salty!

        I enjoyed the panna cotta and perch. The charcuterie plate was similar, but smaller (don't remember the pricing on them - I probably have menu shots if you want to compare). And the rest was so-so: http://www.foodpr0n.com/2010/04/15/wi...

        1. re: phoenikia
          curnonsky Sep 9, 2010 02:25 PM

          Maybe the reason Wine Bar doesn't gets mentioned here much is because Scott Vivian doesn't cook there anymore?

          1. re: phoenikia
            c
            c.cow Sep 10, 2010 06:40 AM

            Zee Grill looks great, thank you for the suggestion - it looks like a great menu and we will have to try it out, but probably during my next visit!

            We did go to the Wine Bar before Scott Vivian left, but not since then, which is why I wonder about it now... both previous incarnations appealed to us, but the most recent menu check was a little blah...

            Origin is a great idea, but I like it best for a cocktail and snacks... Of course, now I want to go there, too!! So many great choices, so little time... sigh... Thanks for the recs!!

            -----
            Zee Grill
            641 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

            1. re: c.cow
              p
              phoenikia Sep 10, 2010 09:48 AM

              The Wine Bar's menu changes frequently, and it was updated recently. I think worth checking the menu fairly frequently to see its current options.

              The scallops and the upscale poutine have had a different preparation each time I've visited. I'm happy to see Bryan Burke (The Wine Bar's Chef) is continuing to try new takes on various small plates.

              Here is the current menu:
              http://9church.com/menus/WineBar_Dail...

          2. f
            fickle Sep 9, 2010 11:32 AM

            I second the rec for Zee Grill. It's cosy enough to be considered romantic like. Definitely recommend the seafood poke salad and the lobster fritters.

            Yuzu was good (the sea bream was very good last week) but the space is rather unromantic, more like contemporary "cool".

            -----
            Zee Grill
            641 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

            Yuzu
            236 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H1W7, CA

            1. b
              bytepusher Sep 9, 2010 01:18 PM

              If you liked JKWB maybe Beast would be a possibility? owned by the guy who was sous during the time that it was still JKWB. Haven't been myself (yet) but I keep hearing good things. I will also say I've been to the current incarnation of wine bar before theater at the St. Lawrence Center and thought it was still pretty good.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bytepusher
                c
                c.cow Sep 10, 2010 06:43 AM

                Hmm - thanks for the idea, Beast hasn't really been on my radar - having trouble tracking down a website! And thanks also for the Wine Bar update - good to know it's still a viable option in that area.

                1. re: c.cow
                  pinstripeprincess Sep 10, 2010 07:44 AM

                  i would not put beast on the list. there were some good aspects but not enough to balance out some of the failures... as someone who is staying in the city, i'm already reluctant to return.

              2. Rabbit Sep 9, 2010 04:51 PM

                If I was having a goodbye-Toronto anniversary dinner I would probably go with one of "our" sentimental favourites.

                Starfish or Biff's sound like great choices if they are filled with good memories for you two. Splendido would be more of a budget buster and has received some not-so-glowing reviews of late.

                I probably wouldn't try something new because I would be all nostalgic and not want to take a chance on a meh meal.

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rabbit
                  c
                  c.cow Sep 10, 2010 06:45 AM

                  Thanks Rabbit, I think we're going to go with Biff's after all. You're right about the sentimental factor, it's just so tempting to look for something else when time is running out and you want to try everything and return everywhere!!

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