Mother-Son Dinner Recommendations Needed
My 11-year-old son, a budding foodie, and I have decided to go for weekly dinners together. We are looking for suggestions to broaden our horizons outside our regular neighborhood favorites: California Sandwiches, United Dairy Bakers, and Copacabana. Here are the parameters: within 20 min. driving of the Bathurst & Wilson area and not too expensive (read: less than $50 for two excluding wine and dessert). He is somewhat an adventurous eater: loves curried cuttlefish when we go for dim sum, escargots, and the stinkier the cheese, the better. Dislikes: peas, most salads (he is a boy, after all), and beef stew.
What suggestions can you offer for restaurants and more specifically, the best dish to eat at that restaurant.
Yours is precisely the situation I found myself in some years ago with my son - he has since moved on to prefer dining out with his friends - and, as I live a short driving distance from Bathurst and Wilson as well, I can offer a few suggestions within your designated parameters.
1. Thai Plate is a much better than average Thai spot on Bathurst Street between Wilson and Lawrence. Run by a charming Thai couple, the cooking is careful and the fresh flavors come through handsomely, unmuddied by the short cuts you find in many other Thai kitchens. The menu and its prices are available online. I'm partial to its rendition of hot and sour soup to start, followed by just about any beef or chicken dish. Only if the papaya is fresh, their version of papaya salad may change your son's mind about salads. But then, I've never put a bad forkful in my mouth there - they do all the classic dishes properly. Though I've never tried the desserts. Easily within $50 for two. Less if you've got an Entertainment Book coupon.
2. Pho Mi Asia, a Vietnamese joint, is at the eastern end of a strip plaza at Wilson and Keele, and it's a little gem. Always busy with locals, who like its prices. The pho (Vietnamese soup) is tasty, and is a meal in itself (it comes in four sizes, of which small or medium is adequate for anybody). I lean towards No. 247 on the menu (a vegetable pho), and don't much care for any pho with their peculiar-tasting beef balls. Appetizer rolls and most stir-fried dishes are good. You can get out for about $20-$25. Clean, with quick, efficient service.
3. Mr. Combo is a pretty good Russian/Israeli/Middle East spot in a small plaza on the northeast corner of Bathurst and Sheppard. The setting isn't much, and the kitchen staff - who look out over the dining room - remind me of a grim eastern European hit squad. But it's clean and the food, which mimics just about every other Russian/Israeli resto menu in town, is solid. Any kabob is good, as is the rainbow trout. I lean towards Mashu Mashu or Me Va Me for such cuisine, but Mr. Combo is closer, and there's not that much difference. You'll come close to $50, but won't go over. Avoid the overpriced wines. For some reason, many of these modest Russian/Israeli spots feel obliged to charge Scaramouche-level prices for their wines.
3434 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M6A2C2, CA
Pho Mi Asia
1248 Dundas St E, Mississauga, ON L4Y2C1, CA
+1 for Thai Plate...love that place...very delicious food and lovely people.
Also would recommend Europe on the west side of Bathurst just south of Lawrence. Not at all fancy but very well done goulash, schnitzel etc.
Both these places are very reasonable, close to you and have good solid food.
I don't mind travelling off of Bathurst/Lawrence area...just don't want to go north of steeles or south of st. clair, west of allen or east of Leslie
Agree with all of the recs so far. A little further afield in the Yonge St. corridor, I'd recommend Tabule (south of Eg) for some great Middle Eastern food. North of Lawrence is Trio, a casual neighbourhood Italian joint. Good pastas and wood-oven pizzas. Good prices, too, especially for the area. I will note, however, that the last pizza I had, I swear they forgot to put salt in the pizza dough. Hopefully that was a temporary problem. I usually stick with the pastas there anyway (I like the orecchiette with sausage and rapini).
2009 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 1Z8, CA