HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Are you making a specialty food? Tell us about it
TELL US

Toque equivalent in Toronto?

Davedigger Nov 16, 2010 12:26 PM

Just wondering if anyone knows of a restaurant similar in cuisine and quality to Toque in Montreal here in Toronto. We had a fabulous meal there a couple years ago and I'd like to do something similar at the end of the month, without travelling to Montreal.

  1. Davedigger Nov 18, 2010 07:06 PM

    Wow guys! I left for a day and I have so many great opinions from people I greatly respect on these boards! Thanks for confusing me further. ;-) Will have to sleep on it. I'm torn between George since they already have a tasting menu or asking for a special dinner somewhere else. Question. What are your thoughts on Auberge du Pommier. No one has mentioned it. Perhaps for a reason?

    1. Charles Yu Nov 16, 2010 04:11 PM

      A few years ago, when Toque was headed by the French Michelin 3* trained Normand Laprise and Splendido was headed by David Lee ( trained under the 3* master chef Anton Mosimann), the obvious comparison and equivalent will be pairing the aforementioned two establishments. Unfortunately, chef Lee has since opened up a more casual and 'non-tasting menu' Nota Bene.
      Presently, with Toque bringing on a younger new French trained head chef - Charles-Antoine Crete ( Laprise sous ), I would actually compare him to Lorenzo Loseto of George. Like David Lee, chef Loseto also recieved training under Anton Mosimann and uses classical French technique in his cooking/dishes. ( as such a lot of David Lee and Loseto's dishes are pretty similar in style, presentation and taste ). Furthermore, both Toque and George offers multi course tasting menu with wine pairing if so desired!
      So, to answer your question, head out to George and try their tasting menu!

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

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

      11 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu
        c
        childofthestorm Nov 16, 2010 05:50 PM

        Seconded, George immediately sprung to mind for me. I had one of the best meals of my life doing a tasting at Toqué several years ago.

        1. re: childofthestorm
          Charles Yu Nov 17, 2010 04:55 PM

          My reply to you, childofthestorm, was deleted by moderator for unknown reason?!
          I just wanted to echoe your Toque experience by saying that the tasting menu I had a few years ago created by chef Laprise was at par with the best David Lee had to offer at the 'old' Splendido and almost as good as the one I had at Daniel, NYC. I also commented about the lack of good 'tasting menu' places in town and would welcome Canadian chefs like Rob Finnie or chefs from Sooke Harbour to visit Toronto and cook a few meals for us Torontonians as guest chefs?!

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

          1. re: Charles Yu
            The Chowhound Team Nov 17, 2010 05:39 PM

            We have not removed any posts from this discussion.

            1. re: Charles Yu
              c
              childofthestorm Nov 17, 2010 06:07 PM

              I would agree that there seems to be a real lack of stellar, can't-miss tasting menus in the city. Both George and Canoe do a pretty good job - and I recommend both - but the tasting menus seem like an afterthought rather than a raison d'etre. Then I go some place like Eleven Madison Park in NY, where I ate recently and was blown away, and the tasting menu really is the heart and soul of the restaurant.

              Montreal friends tell me Toqué has fallen off a bit, this thread is reminding me I'll have to go back soon and find out.

              1. re: childofthestorm
                w
                Wandering Foodie Nov 17, 2010 06:36 PM

                Yeah, the later years of Toqué doesn't compare well to the other restaurants in Montréal. I was there when Laprise (I didn't know he left, Charles) was in the kitchen and he was executing a special tasting menu for the media. It was my first and last experience at the restaurant and I found it to be way overrated. However, my friends tell me Laprise was much better before.

                1. re: Wandering Foodie
                  Charles Yu Nov 17, 2010 06:47 PM

                  Laprise is still the owner. However, how much time he spend 'hands on' in the kitchen nowadays I'm not so sure.

                  1. re: Wandering Foodie
                    estufarian Nov 18, 2010 03:53 AM

                    Stayed out of this thread so far, because my lastexperience at Toqué was so bad I wouldn't want to compare anything in Toronto. Toqué USED to be my favourite in Montreal - now I don't plan on returning. Just going through the motions now.
                    And at that price definitely not worth it.

                    1. re: estufarian
                      Charles Yu Nov 18, 2010 05:45 AM

                      Sounded like my experience with Rob Finnie's 'Lumiere' in Vancouver!! USED to be great when I first ate there years ago, then, down hill every time I visit. Can sense the kitchen just 'going thru the motion' No soul in the food! No wonder it changed hand!!
                      Only restaurant in Canada that buck this down hill trend was the old Splendido! David Lee keep on improving with age. Pity he no longers run a kitchen that churns out tasting menu?!

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

                  2. re: childofthestorm
                    Charles Yu Nov 17, 2010 07:02 PM

                    Once again, your comment is 'spot-on', childofthestorm!
                    But then, comparing a lack lustre Toronto restaurant scene with Michelin star studded NYC is a bit unfair though! With all the competition and Michelin inspectors breathing down their necks, chefs in NYC are forced to come up with new and unique creations or else......!!,
                    IMO, nowadays, one thing to blame for an overall drop in food quality in top restaurants is definitely the TV media!! Every celebrity chefs are too busy opening outposts to spread their name, being judges or acting on TV reality shows or prefer cooking in their own TV program instead of manning their own kitchen!
                    In the good old days, one would find Joel Robuchon in Jamin's kitchen, Daniel Boulud in Daniel, Ducasse in Louis XV or Keller in the French Laundry 'every day of the week'!!! Now, they spend more time on the plane!!

                    1. re: Charles Yu
                      aser Nov 18, 2010 07:05 AM

                      Unfortunately, that's the necessity of expansion. There are a few exceptions to the rule, folks that remain in the kitchen like Wylie at WD-50, Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune, Paul Liebrandt of Corton, etc....

                      In one of the past summer/winterlicious events, there was a cross promotion w/ Toque/Splendido. Laprisse visited and cooked a tasting menu with David Lee.

                      I still say Splendido is your best bet, unfortunately they only offer tasting menus for their Friday lunch. I'm sure if you call ahead, they can arrange something special for you.

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

                      1. re: aser
                        m
                        millygirl Nov 18, 2010 07:44 AM

                        I believe that would be the same dinner I was referring to in the very first reply above.

            2. m
              millygirl Nov 16, 2010 01:00 PM

              Nota Bene

              Reason being....about two years ago the chefs from Toque and Splendido got together and put on a special 7 course dinner at Splendido. It was wonderful. Since David Lee has moved from Splendido over to Nota Bene I suggest you go there.

              8 Replies
              1. re: millygirl
                Davedigger Nov 16, 2010 01:09 PM

                Not a bad idea, but I hoped for a tasting menu. - should have specified. I didn't see mention on their web-site...

                1. re: Davedigger
                  Splendid Wine Snob Nov 16, 2010 01:45 PM

                  While I like Nota Bene, I don't find the food similar to Toque at all. Nota Bene does not offer a tasting menu but perhaps if you called in advance, they could work something out for you.

                  David Lee's old tasting menus at Splendido were delicious, gorgeous and refined, and in that sense would have been a good recommendation to what you are seeking.

                  I am still waiting for David Lee to open another resto to revisit that lovely food once again.

                  Ici Bistro on Harbord may be another option-haven't heard any hound reports yet...

                  SWS

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

                  1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                    Davedigger Nov 16, 2010 01:49 PM

                    Splendido was my first thought, but alas, they no longer have a tasting menu as far as I can tell.

                    Calling Nota Bene in advance may be the way to go.

                    I had dinner at Picholine in NYC on Sunday and was horribly disappointed. This reminded me of how delish Toque was, and now I want a similar experience to get over the tragedy that Sunday night was.

                    Meh. Maybe we'll just go to old-faithful - Mistura - and skip the whole tasting menu thing.

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

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

                    1. re: Davedigger
                      jlunar Nov 16, 2010 02:19 PM

                      I believe that Splendido has a lunch tasting menu on Fridays going on right now.. not sure until when.

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

                      1. re: Davedigger
                        m
                        millygirl Nov 16, 2010 02:21 PM

                        Ahhh Mistura. That's seems to have come up a lot lately.

                        Sigh, just thinking about his lamb ribs, beet risotto, and a bowl of pasta is making me drool. It's been awhile since I was last there. Must bump it up myself.

                      2. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                        p
                        phoenikia Nov 17, 2010 05:27 PM

                        I also don't find the food at Nota Bene similar to the food at Toque.

                        While I've liked my meals at George, I don't find Loseto's food to taste much like anything I've ordered at Toque. George seems to lack the French/Franco Canadian "je ne sais quoi" that is found at Toque. The plating, portion size and atmosphere at George remind me a little of Toque, but the food doesn't.

                        I've never dined at Pangaea. Not sure whether the food would be similar, but the vibe and plating (that I've seen in various photos) seems somewhat similar to Toque.

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

                        1. re: phoenikia
                          Charles Yu Nov 17, 2010 06:09 PM

                          Are you comparing a la carte dishes with a la carte dishes or tasting menu with tasting menu? I've never ordered a la carte at George, so I cannot lend an opinion. However, comparing tasting menus, the seafood and meat dishes I had at Toque a couple of years ago could easily be a David Lee, Lorenzo Loseto or Anthony Walsh creation??!!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu
                            p
                            phoenikia Nov 19, 2010 08:23 AM

                            I'm comparing a la carte dishes with a la carte dishes.

                            Haven't ordered any tasting menus in TO since 2003.

                  Show Hidden Posts