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Recs needed for NY chowhounders in Toronto for a conference

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adamandeve Sep 16, 2010 02:13 PM

Me (and 5000 other Latin Americanists) will be in Torono in early October for a conference at the Hilton/Sheraton. I am looking for recs for

1) A restaurant for a large group dinner (around 15 people), hopefully walking distance from the hotel or a short cab ride, entrees in the $20s. Canadian food would be nice, but not necessarly. I was looking at Jump. Is that a good option?

2) A fabulous rec for a dinner with a foodie friend. We have reservations at Nota bene, but they don't have anything available before 9:30 m and we would like a bit earlier. Anything along those lines is good, we are hppytotravel but as we won't have a car, would prfer to stay within a 30 minute car ride from the hotel.

3) A placefor breakfast not too far from the hotel- delicious would be better!

4) Recs for a place not to miss while I am in Toronto. I have lunch reservations at Lai Wah Heen. What else shouldI definitively not miss?

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

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  1. m
    morefoodplz RE: adamandeve Sep 16, 2010 08:46 PM

    Why don't you move Nota Bene from 2) to 1) and have your private foodie dinner somewhere else?

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    Nota Bene
    180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

    1. TorontoJo RE: adamandeve Sep 17, 2010 06:35 AM

      Agree with the rec to use Nota Bene for your group dinner. Or you could do someplace more casual and fun like Beerbistro or Origin (both within walking distance). Jump is a perfectly fine option, btw.

      For #2, I would recommend Colborne Lane.

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

      Nota Bene
      180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

      1. jlunar RE: adamandeve Sep 17, 2010 07:20 AM

        1) Agree with morefoodplz and TorontoJo
        2) Buca has some great pasta. I'd say #4 rec is more interesting, but it's not along the lines of Nota Bene. I also happen to like Splendido.
        3) What kind of breakfast are you looking for? There's a pastry shop, Petite Thuet, not terribly far from your hotel.
        4) The Black Hoof is my top not-to-miss rec, but it depends on if you're okay with bits 'n' pieces.

        ---
        http://www.foodpr0n.com -- food. is. love.

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

        Nota Bene
        180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

        Petite Thuet
        1 King St W, Toronto, ON M5J, CA

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

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

        1. shekamoo RE: adamandeve Sep 17, 2010 08:00 AM

          Jump is solid, but I too would switch up for nota bene

          how about the tasting menu at Canoe for your foodie dinner? it is the flagship restaurant of the group that runs Jump, not far from your hotel at all, and offers very good quality French inspired Canadian cuisine (or the other way round) with great views of the city.

          as for what not to miss, NYCers visitng toronto are invariably referred to fine dining cantonese, perhaps the best example of which you will taste by dim sum at lai wah heen. I would go for a lobster 4 ways at OMei, but it violates your 30 minute cab ride rule

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            adamandeve RE: adamandeve Sep 17, 2010 11:06 AM

            Thanks to all. We are now also considering Vertical for thegroup dinner? Any input on that. Someone also recommended the Harbord Room for the foodie meal- looks nice from the site but couldnt find much onit on the board. Any comments on that?

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            Harbord Room
            89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

            4 Replies
            1. re: adamandeve
              jlunar RE: adamandeve Sep 17, 2010 11:11 AM

              I went to Vertical for lunch recently. Didn't think it was all that great, especially for the price. Would suggest Red's over Vertical and still Nota Bene above them both.

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              Nota Bene
              180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

              1. re: adamandeve
                d
                drjolt RE: adamandeve Sep 18, 2010 11:06 AM

                I am "meh" on Vertical. I definitely wouldn't go out of my way for it.

                Harbord Room is great, though. Lots of good reviews on this board.

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                Harbord Room
                89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

                1. re: adamandeve
                  Breadcrumbs RE: adamandeve Sep 18, 2010 02:08 PM

                  I love Vertical, it's my number 1 pick for a business lunch, has a lovely, private room for groups and my food experiences have always been wonderful. I've taken groups there on a number of occasions and always been pleased. The bar area of this restaurant is lovely and the restaurant interior is very "zen" One thing I really like about Vertical is that the restaurant isn't loud so its conducive to conversation.

                  Jump is lovely, the food is great. It's my favourite restaurant in the O&B group. It has a great patio if the weather is good. Inside, tables are close together and it can be very noisy.

                  Beer Bistro is a great spot but, it gets VERY noisy. They do have a smallish private area for a group but it's in a busy spot and still can be noisy. The food is good and more at a lower price point than Jump or Vertical.

                  One place that I've taken many individuals and groups visiting from out of town is Terroni on Adelaide. Aside from having wonderful Italian food (thin crust, wood oven pizza is deee-lish and my personal fave in the city) the neat thing about this spot is that it is housed in the Old Toronto Court House building and is the site of the last public hanging in Toronto. One of the original jail cells has been preserved and open for public viewing.

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

                  1. re: adamandeve
                    p
                    phoenikia RE: adamandeve Sep 18, 2010 02:28 PM

                    Harbord Room is tiny, and can be loud. Most tables are for 2, with a few tables seating 4 or 6. Reservations are a must if you want a table, although there are sometimes seats available at the bar for walk-ins. Harbord Room serves a good burger, but not much else on their fairly limited menu gets praised on this Board.

                    Nota Bene or Vertical could be a good choice for your group dinner. Vertical is located on the mezzanine of an office building in our financial district, and the restaurant has a corporate vibe. Nota Bene can be very loud, and conversation at the table is often difficult. The menu at Vertical (contemporary Mediterranean) is more to my taste than the menu at Nota Bene (conservative contemporary Canadian/Continental). I dined at Nota Bene last weekend (lobster salad, frites, octopus & scallops), and found the service to be better than it was in the spring, but the food continues to leave me underwhelmed. I like the grilled octopus at Malena much better than the octopus they're serving at Nota Bene. Not sure if your group likes Mediterranean-style seafood. Malena might be an option if they do. Malena has a room upstairs which they use for groups, and they could handle a group of 15 for dinner. Malena is a 10 minute taxi north of the Sheraton and Hilton.

                    Tundra, inside the Hilton, is another option for conservative Canadian food downtown. I haven't dined there recently, but it's also a decent option for a group dinner. Forte is another nearby option for a group dinner, with prices similar to Nota Bene and Tundra.

                    I don't like the food at Beer Bistro. I've dined there at least 5 times, and have ordered from their brunch, lunch and dinner menus. I think Beer Bistro is overrated.

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

                    Harbord Room
                    89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

                    Nota Bene
                    180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

                  2. ekim256 RE: adamandeve Sep 17, 2010 02:25 PM

                    1. Thumbs up for Nota Bene, and perhaps Beer Bistro can accommodate that size (I'm not totally sure though). They have a good menu and I really like their mussels. I think that Buca would be a great choice, but a little over your price range. I am not a huge fan of Jump, but if you aren't sure of what people in your group like to eat then it's safe. I would sooner go to Biff's Bistro than Jump though and it's a bit cheaper.

                    2. For a fabulous dinner, Black Hoof would be my choice but even more fabulous is if you can go for brunch with your foodie friend at Hoof Cafe instead. I just had a nice experience at Luma - and it will probably improve as time goes on because they just opened this Sunday. My review is on the board and my blog, but at the very least I really think that it's worth going for their delicious dessert! It might be a nice way to end your night regardless of where you end up going for dinner. Canoe would be very nice, especially since you're both out of town. The view is lovely and I had a wonderful experience there for dinner. You can access it through the underground PATH system so if it's crummy outside...bonus points! Sukkothai gets strong recommendations on this board for authentic Thai food.

                    3. O&B does breakfast, as well as Le Petit Dejeuner

                    Enjoy your stay!

                    Erin
                    http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.com/

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

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

                    Nota Bene
                    180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

                    Biff's Bistro
                    4 Front St. E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B2, CA

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

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

                    Luma
                    330 King St W, Toronto, ON , CA

                    1. pinstripeprincess RE: adamandeve Sep 18, 2010 02:21 PM

                      skip vertical, harbord room and at the moment, i'd say skip sukhothai. while i'm usually a huge fan, the chef doing the good cooking at sukhothai isn't there with enough regularity that some dishes have suffered a lot. harbord room has highs and lows but i feel also doesn't offer anything particularly special... good for the neighbourhood.

                      if you don't move your group dinner to nota bene, keep in mind that the bar area and lounge up front is only for walk-ins. so you and your foodie friend can have dinner earlier than 9:30pm. on that note though, i do not adore nota bene. it's nice but not for me.

                      black hoof i think offers the best overall experience in toronto with regards to food and vibe if you're not looking for michelin star service. be aware that he is an experimenter though, so not all his dishes are successful.

                      i don't know how much spare time you have, but i'd consider markets and west indian roti.

                      1. v
                        Vinnie Vidimangi RE: adamandeve Sep 18, 2010 02:50 PM

                        Plkease report back on your experiences.

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                          adamandeve RE: adamandeve Sep 20, 2010 09:23 AM

                          Ok, so we have set on Nota Bene for the group meal. I am now having second thoughts on Hardbord Room, as many recent reviews are not so great. My options for my foodie b-day meal are Canoe and Black Hoof- I know they seem to be opposite ends of the spectrum. Which one would you choose? Is the wait at Black Hoof horrendous?

                          -----
                          Nota Bene
                          180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

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

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: adamandeve
                            TorontoJo RE: adamandeve Sep 20, 2010 09:31 AM

                            Good call on skipping Harbord Room. It really isn't that special -- more of an industry hang out (good burger, though).

                            Pick Canoe if you want fine dining and a spectacular view.

                            Pick Black Hoof if you love nose-to-tail cuisine and a buzzing, eclectic atmosphere. The waits at BH are long, but you can give them your cell number and go across the street to The Hoof Cafe and have a cocktail and some nibbles while you wait.

                            I don't think you'll go wrong with either choice.

                            -----
                            Harbord Room
                            89 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S1G4, CA

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

                            1. re: TorontoJo
                              j
                              JennaBean RE: TorontoJo Sep 20, 2010 10:21 AM

                              Totally agree with Jo!

                              1. re: JennaBean
                                jlunar RE: JennaBean Sep 20, 2010 10:44 AM

                                Me too!

                                1. re: jlunar
                                  a
                                  adamandeve RE: jlunar Sep 21, 2010 02:18 PM

                                  OK- I'll do that. How long of a wait can I expect if i show up around 7?

                                  1. re: adamandeve
                                    Herb RE: adamandeve Sep 21, 2010 03:08 PM

                                    Depends what night. Walk in Sunday or Monday and get a table easy (as long as there's not 22 of you — the place is small),or wait across the street at Hoof Cafe for cocktails an hour or so on a Friday or Saturday. They open at 6, so by 8, the first wave should be clearing out. Definitely worth it.

                          2. ookie RE: adamandeve Sep 21, 2010 05:42 PM

                            How about Pangea at Bay and Bloor? Tundra in the hotel is great as well.
                            http://www.pangaearestaurant.com/Food...

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