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birthday restaurant suggestions - with annoyingly specific criteria (a challenge!)

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Looking for suggestions for a birthday dinner, with a few requirements (actually more than a few..)
- birthday girl is 40+ and would prefer a hip atmosphere with a cool vibe
- she is mostly a vegetarian
- dinner party likely to = 8, which may or may not include a vegan and a 4 year old (actually an adult vegan AND and 4 year old vegan..although the latter will be happy with fries or noodles)
- need a reservation for Feb 12, which I suspect will be challenging given the big V-day rush
- location - generally downtown Southish (S. of Eglinton, east of Dufferin)
- price not really an issue

I was thinking maybe Origin, Woodlot, C5...but this is a tough group!! Your help is certainly appreciated!

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  1. My first thought was L.A.B. (in the College St strip) - most of my favourite dishes there are vegetarian (as is the co-chef) but you wouldn't even realize that just by scanning the menu.

    http://www.labrestaurant.com/menu/

    1. I've been to Fressen on Queen (at Denison, just east of Bathurst) a few times and enjoyed it. They do tapas-style vegan (and some gluten-free) dishes in a bit of a darkened setting, and have seen big parties seated at the front at the big round table though I haven't seen any children there. It's been a few months since I've last been there but I always enjoy the pan-seared mushrooms and gnocchi dishes; portions a bit small, however. Definitely more "hip" than "hippie."

      http://fressenrestaurant.com/fressen/...

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      Fressen
      478 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V2B2, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: looosia

        I second Fressen. I think tapas might be easier to manage with a four-year-old -- smaller portions to begin with.

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        Fressen
        478 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V2B2, CA

        1. re: looosia

          A friend of mine is vegan and we went to Fressen for her bday. It was a nightmare. First of all they were out of three of the dishes our table of eight wanted to order. Ok fine, can't do anything about that. We all pick different dishes. The one I pick comes with spinach, which I can't eat. The first dish I ordered also had spinach but the server assured me that sub for asparagus wouldn't be a problem. She said the same thing with my second choice.

          It arrives and she indicates that the chef wasn't in a good mood and therefore wouldn't do the substitution. So I end up with mushrooms in a watery broth and nothing else for my main. Ok fine. Not my bday not going to make a big deal out of it. We had a vide assortment of app's for the table so I'm not going to be starving.

          We finish dinner without the server coming to our table once to check on water, wine or how our meal was. Again, ok fine.

          Then we order dessert. Only one dessert but with a candle we brought for the bday girl.

          10 mins pass, 20 mins pass, finally at 25 mins we are tired of waiting and go track someone down. When one of our party member finally finds some one to get the dessert she is given a hard time about our complaint of waiting almost 30 mins for one dessert. Apparently their desserts are sooooooo special they take this much time. Really? I think not.

          The highlight of the evening comes when we want to pay. One person in our party is paying with credit. After 15 mins of us with piles of case in the bill folder someone finally comes to see if we need anything else. They bring the POS to the table but our friend is having a hard time with one options and asked how to put a specific amount into the POS - $70.06. She wanted the tip to be a full dollar amount hence including the .06 in her payment amount. It was at this point that our server in a not so nice way says and I quote "oh don't worry about the $.06 we don't take nickles and dimes here so I'll eat it. "

          We all left asking ourselves did that really happen?!?!? They got the last $0.06 from that party of eight that they will ever get. Full stop.

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          Fressen
          478 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V2B2, CA

        2. I would recommend China Island Restaurant. They are located at 1572 Bloor Street just west of Dundas West TTC Station. The food is always fresh and I would recommend calling ahead of time although they are pretty quick with service and the food is always fresh and you can watch the food being prepared. I am a chef and like to frequent the hidden gems in Toronto. This is definitely one of them. If hip is what you are looking for (not sure how hip you want the place to be if there will be a four year hold in the group). If you want substance and not the WOW factor this is the place to eat. If you like WonTon Soup it does not get any better than the one served here.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MCZK

            Forgot to mention the chef will prepare vegetarian to order - the eggplant is divine.

          2. Cafe 668 fits the bill

            http://www.cafe668.com

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            Cafe 668
            885 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V9, CA

            6 Replies
            1. re: Herb

              I walked by Cafe 668 a few weeks ago and it was closed! Instead there was some other Asian restaurant with an unmemorable name. I, too, would've recommended Cafe 668 but it looks like it's in the deadpool.

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              Cafe 668
              885 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V9, CA

              1. re: looosia

                Cafe 668 moved to 885 Dundas W about three years ago. It's definitely still open.

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                Cafe 668
                885 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V9, CA

                1. re: Herb

                  I've been to the 885 Dundas W. location (at Claremont), that's the one I walked past a few weeks ago. Have you been there recently? It did not look like it's Cafe 668 anymore, it looked like it became another Asian resto.

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                  Cafe 668
                  885 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V9, CA

                  1. re: looosia

                    Cafe 668 - they make tofu dishes that taste almost identical to meat (even meat eaters will love it) and the decor is definitely hip

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                    Cafe 668
                    885 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V9, CA

                    1. re: looosia

                      @ loosia

                      I'm sure that will surprise the owners.

                      1. re: looosia

                        It's definitely still Cafe 668.

                2. this is the list of vegetarian dishes on the menu

                  SOUPS

                  hot and sour soup
                  consomme with rice
                  bean cake and mushroom
                  chinese vegetable soup
                  chinese vegetables and bean cake
                  egg drop and mushroom
                  (all under $3.00)

                  MAINS

                  Mixed chinese veg and bean cake
                  Broccoli and two mushrooms in ginger oyster sauce
                  Fried Bean Cake with two kinds of mushrooms in ginger sauce
                  Sauteed Fresh Mixed Veg
                  Sauteed Snow Peas with bamboo Shoots and water chestnuts
                  Chow Mei Fun singapore style
                  mixed hot veg with cashew nuts
                  Mixed veg Lo mein or chow mein
                  Diced veg and almonds
                  Plain egg fried rice
                  Mushroom Fried Rice
                  Subgum Fried Rice
                  Eggplant Cantonese Style

                  All are under $8.00

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: MCZK

                    Could you point out these dishes and prices on the menu?

                    http://www.cafe668.com/index_files/Pa...

                    1. re: Herb

                      hot and sour soup $3.00
                      consomme with rice $2.50
                      bean cake and mushroom $2.50
                      chinese vegetable soup $2.50
                      chinese vegetables and bean cake $2.50
                      egg drop and mushroom $2.80

                      Mixed chinese veg and bean cake $6.95
                      Broccoli and two mushrooms in ginger oyster sauce $6.95
                      Fried Bean Cake with two kinds of mushrooms in ginger sauce $7.50
                      Sauteed Fresh Mixed Veg $6.50
                      Sauteed Snow Peas with bamboo Shoots and water chestnuts $6.95
                      Chow Mei Fun singapore style $6.95
                      mixed hot veg with cashew nuts $6.95
                      Mixed veg Lo mein or chow mein $6.95
                      Diced veg and almonds $6.95
                      Plain egg fried rice $5.50
                      Mushroom Fried Rice $6.15
                      Subgum Fried Rice $6.15
                      Eggplant Cantonese Style $7.95

                      There are some unlisted TOFU specials but I cannot remember the prices off-hand.

                      1. re: Herb

                        Only because I usually order the Garlic Ginger beef with bean sprouts and black bean sauce. Simply amazing!

                        1. re: MCZK

                          You're in the wrong restaurant then, my friend. 668 is a vegetarian restaurant.

                          1. re: Herb

                            i guess i posted in the wrong frame to reply - my apologies - I was speaking of China Islan of Bloor and I do know that 668 is a vegetarian retaurant since I have eaten there a few times.

                            1. re: MCZK

                              Cafe 668 menu is online.
                              Reasonable.
                              Huge selection the friendliest of service.
                              Really nice people who will go out of their way to please.
                              Was there with observant Indian guests a couple of weeks ago an we enjoyed
                              our meal.

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                              Cafe 668
                              885 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V9, CA