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RESULTS ARE IN! CH's Own Top 10 Restaurants of GTA: A Huge Hoof-shaped Mark on GTA's Dining Scene

shekamoo Feb 10, 2011 05:47 AM

with close to 50 lists:

1) The Black Hoof-----------------------------------------24 votes
2) Lai Wah Heen-----------------------------------------15 votes
3=4) Nota Bene, George-------------------------------14 votes
5=6=7) Hoof Cafe, Sushi Kaji, Guu-----------------13 votes
8) Splendido----------------------------------------------12 votes
9) Buca-----------------------------------------------------10 votes
10s) Canoe, Stockyards, Starfish, Chiado--------9 votes

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

8 votes: Origin, Pizzeria Libretto, Copper Chimney
7 votes: Colborne Lane, Zen, Simple Bistro, C5, Scaramouche

  1. l
    littlelam Apr 18, 2011 06:32 AM

    What a great thread - thank you for putting it together! I've only tried a handful of places on this list and look forward to sampling more. Copper Chimney looks especially interesting, though it looks difficult to get to by TTC. I'll have to con someone into driving me...

    -----
    Copper Chimney
    619 Kingston Rd W, Ajax, ON L1S6L8, CA

    1. h
      hazzelnuts Mar 4, 2011 03:18 PM

      How about cheap and cheerful for 2010 ? that would also be a great list when you need a standby ... any ideas
      We have taken to Tomasso's on Eastern ... Gio's really Really nice used to be a standby years ago but not anymore .. now if you hit Tomasso when he is really cooking (ie osso bucco special ) absolutely killer .. PS bring an appetite ... he serves family style and pasta comes in deep deep dishes .. love his opening bruschetta and appetizer sampler plate .. try the lamb if you are fan as well
      yum !!!

      2 Replies
      1. re: hazzelnuts
        crazee Mar 4, 2011 04:09 PM

        I like that..."Cheap and Cheerful"!
        As someone who used to work on the road a good, reasonable lunch for one was always high on my list. I found a place in Oakville that is actually a seafood store.....that makes also makes reasonable and good lunches. I believe they also do catering etc. I LOVE their crab cakes and with a beverage and the side salad thats included it still comes to under ten bucks for a good seafood lunch.
        It's not a patio but there are a couple of small tables outside the door to watch the world go by while you eat. Love the place, nice people, it's called the Mermaid and the Oyster on Kerr street.

        1. re: crazee
          m
          millygirl Mar 5, 2011 12:37 PM

          hazzelnuts if we can't get our usual table this evening OR the osso buco is sold out, I'm blaming you!!!!!! Love Tomasso's, and the hazeelnuts :)

          And I am sorry I did not see this list. Scaramouche Baby!!!!!

      2. Splendid Wine Snob Feb 15, 2011 11:47 AM

        I also have to wonder how many people who voted went more than once to any restaurant they voted for. I only voted for places where I dined a minimum of 3-4 times in 2010, and in fact most were ones where I dined at over a dozen times.

        Although I like the Black Hoof, I've never found anything I've eaten there memorable, nor special. I grew up eating charcuterie, so its not special (for me), and the cooked dishes I've had at BH varied from ok, to not good (overcooked, duck liver ravioli anyone?) I've found the Hoof Cafe to be much more innovative than the BH, and I also prefer the atmosphere.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
          g
          graydyn Feb 16, 2011 06:39 AM

          I know I voted for a couple places that I'd only been to once in 2010. Kaji for example I only go to about once per year, but I still felt comfortable putting it on my list. I don't think there are any restaurants I've been to a dozen times in a year, other than Inatei which was my Friday lunch spot in 2010.

          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
            u
            uberathlete Mar 4, 2011 03:36 PM

            Yeah. Me personally I wasn't much impressed with Hoof Cafe. Charcuterie was alright, not mind blowing. Big disappointment was the suckling pig Benny. A bit dry and I wouldn't have guessed it was suckling pig if I closed my eyes. Then again, I originally came from a place that has some of the best roast pig in the world.

          2. s
            Sadistick Feb 15, 2011 08:54 AM

            Curious (and surprised) that Scaramouche was so low on the ranks (me not voting certainly may not have helped! ;)

            Further curiosity as to thoughts regarding Splendido vs. Scaramouche

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

            15 Replies
            1. re: Sadistick
              shekamoo Feb 15, 2011 09:04 AM

              I actually gave scaramouche a break by counting the votes for the resto and pasta bar together. counted separately, neither would make the cut even as a second runner up

              1. re: Sadistick
                T Long Feb 15, 2011 09:06 AM

                My observation is that a lot of CH regulars did not vote.....the more that vote, the better the list!

                1. re: Sadistick
                  foodyDudey Feb 15, 2011 09:32 AM

                  One thing that could be skewing the results is if everyone who voted has not been to all the restaurants on the top 10 list. For example, how many of the 50 or so that voted have actually eaten at Chiado? I find it hard to believe that it ranks in the bottom 10%. Perhaps less than ten people who voted have eaten there? Black Hoof may be good, but it is also much cheaper to eat there than at Splendido or Chiado. So you have many more people who ate there. I'm not so sure that this poll says much, other than that 50% of those who voted have tried the Black Hoof. For my birthday this week, I'm not considering the Black Hoof, but I am considering another trip to Chiado, or possibly the new Splendido.

                  -----
                  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

                  1. re: foodyDudey
                    d
                    dubchild Feb 15, 2011 10:06 AM

                    I've eaten at both Chiado and the new Splendido, and I still consider the Black Hoof better. I still don't understand the interest in Chaido. It seems kind of boring. The times I've been, and granted this was a few years ago, every dish shared the same veg and the cooking techniques seem limited to either grilling or searing. Seems easy to duplicate at home, I can't say the same about my experiences at the Black Hoof.

                    -----
                    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

                    1. re: dubchild
                      s
                      Sadistick Feb 15, 2011 10:10 AM

                      I blame no one but myself for not voting - was going through a bit of a tough time so I had no inclination to post, unfortunately.

                      Be that as it may, I too have been to Chiado, and would list it in a top 10, but I would not list say, Nota Bene, as many others have.

                      I must say, Splendido's menu does not, for whatever reason, entice me whatsoever. Scaramouche's on the other hand, does!

                      I am planning a nice dinner for the wife and I as we recently sold our place, and have been debating - interesting point to note, Scaramouche will not do a tasting menu for you on the weekend....

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

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

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

                    2. re: foodyDudey
                      shekamoo Feb 15, 2011 10:07 AM

                      let me get this clear: are you suggesting that the reason your favorite high-end restaurant did not rank as high as you expected is because the absolute majority of the people who voted here on this foodie discussion board have not visited it in the past year because it is out of their dining budget to eat there once a year?
                      I have no illusions about the representativeness of this list, but I doubt this could be true either. Hashimoto may have been shut out because of the price tag, but Chiado?! It is not THAT expensive now, is it?

                      1. re: shekamoo
                        foodyDudey Feb 15, 2011 10:54 AM

                        Who said it was my favourite high end restaurant? Only you, not me. I've only been to Chiado once. Can I have some of whatever you are smoking?

                        All I was saying is that for the poll to be more meaningful, everyone should have at least eaten at the spots in the top 10 so that they would have a chance to rank each one, and I was offering a reason as to why so many picked BH... it's affordable enough that many were able to try it. And casual enough that you could decide to go with some friends in a minute.

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

                        1. re: foodyDudey
                          shekamoo Feb 15, 2011 11:20 AM

                          Ok I am clear now. You think Chiado deserves to be somewhere close to the top of a truly representative top 10 list of restaurants in the GTA. You think this while you have been there only once and while it is not your favorite restaurant. In fact, it is so far from being a favorite restaurant of yours that anyone suggesting that must be high on something. yet it still belongs somewhere in the top 3 or something. got it.

                          1. re: foodyDudey
                            p
                            peppermint pate Feb 15, 2011 11:48 AM

                            Hey foody - if you go back to the original thread, there was some debate as to whether or not the list was meant to be "The Top 10" , in some sort of an objective way, if that's even possible - or instead a "Your Top 10", with "your" being whoever chose to post a list. The latter option won out with an honour system agreement that the posters couldn't list a spot unless they had dined there at least once in the last 12 or 18 months. So for me, that meant that Sushi Kaji, which people often cite as one of "THE top 10" was off my list, as I've yet to try it (though I'm dying to) and a spot like George was also off my list because love it as I do, I didn't actually make it there in 2010 so I didn't feel it belonged there.

                            The list is by definition therefore highly subjective to those that posted answers, no more no less and there are no right or wrong answers. Results are obviously skewed to the preferences of those that posted, regardless of how much they choose to spend in restaurants (and interestingly, there is a range - from Sushi Kaji, Scaramouche and Lai Wah Heen to Stockywards, Libretto and Copper Chimney). Think of it as a random sampling of favourites from a particular moment in time from a bunch of chowhounds, as suggested and tabulated by shekamoo. And a fun read!

                            1. re: peppermint pate
                              shekamoo Feb 15, 2011 11:54 AM

                              "random sampling of favourites from a particular moment in time from a bunch of chowhounds"

                              Endorsed! (Now I wish my endorsement actually meant something! SIGH )

                            2. re: foodyDudey
                              T Long Feb 15, 2011 01:54 PM

                              foodyDudey: The list is what it is....I certainly appreciate the effort to put it together. Too bad you didn't contribute with a list of your favorites.

                              1. re: foodyDudey
                                Poorboy Feb 16, 2011 10:21 AM

                                And that's the beauty of this forum. It is a collection of different opinions. Sadly, I developed a shell fish allergy (mild) so many of the menus are restrictive and why order a steak in a place renowned for seafood mains? However, I certainly feel that I should contribute "my" top 10 when asked in the future, along with that qualifier. So Canoe, Stockyards, Black Hoof are way up on my list as are some not listed. And it's not really for financial reasons now as being an empty-nester has it's advantages. I also firmly believe in giving a place a second try before posting anything really negative as this forum has a lot of influence when comments are made by long-time "respected" members.

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

                            3. re: foodyDudey
                              j
                              JennaBean Feb 15, 2011 10:43 AM

                              I've eaten at Chiado many times as I did work on a port account and we ended up there often with the client. I think Chiado is a lovely dinning experience and I've never been disappointed. Would I consider it better than George or Splendido, not in my opinion. IMO is is more suited to an older person's experience. Regardless of how I'm dress or who I'm with, I always a feel a wee bit out of place there and I never feel that way at George or Splendido (the old or the new) so I tend to only go there when other ppl pick.

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

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

                              1. re: foodyDudey
                                Underdog Rally Feb 15, 2011 03:09 PM

                                It may be likely that voters haven't eaten at all the restaurants in the top 10, 15, or 25, but I don't think that skews the list. The criteria were very broad, and so it wasn't just a matter of distinguishing between fine dining restaurants, or between pizza places, or between restaurants that end with a vowel. I think that the voting reflects the idea that people (even hounds) look for more from a restaurant than fine food. Even choosing *not* to eat at a restaurant reflects a value judgement.

                                In my case, value, novelty and skilled labour are important criteria. While I might agree that Chiado makes high quality food, it's not a place I would frequent. Not because I don't think the food is good, but because I'm a strong enough home cook that I can replicate much of their menu at home for a fraction of the price - it's hard for a restaurant like that to offer me value, especially when compared with other options at that price point. On the other hand, I voted for the Stockyards. Their food is not as refined as Chiado or Splendido, but they make better fried chicken than I do, and their fried chicken doesn't leave my home smelling like a deep fryer.

                                This is also why I voted for the Hoof Cafe, but not the Black Hoof, Nota Bene or Origin. I like good food, but I also know how to prepare good food. For me to really appreciate a restaurant, it has offer me something unique and otherwise inaccessible. I'm sure the criteria are different for others, and it's that personalization that makes it a useful list. It reminds me that not everyone thinks about food the way I do, so maybe it's in my best culinary interest to try someone else's favourite for a change! It's just too bad we couldn't get to a bigger sample size.

                                1. re: Underdog Rally
                                  crazee Mar 4, 2011 04:03 PM

                                  You said it so well....that's how I feel about dining out. They have to make it better than me or have something I have no clue how to make, being a good cook makes it hard to find something you think is worth the money, especially if you also have a long drive to get anywhere good (like I do). Easier/cheaper to cook at home.

                            4. d
                              dubchild Feb 10, 2011 08:11 PM

                              Great job. A few surprises, I didn't expect Stockyards to do so well and I've kind of forgotten about Starfish. Maybe time to revisit both places.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: dubchild
                                shekamoo Feb 11, 2011 02:59 AM

                                Buca and Starfish for me were the biggest surprises, because I personally think the only good items on the Buca menu are the apps, and I had heard a lot about Starfish going downhill....I also wonder how much of the Splendido vote is a reflection of a nostalgic loyalty to the glory days of David Lee's Tasting Menu

                                1. re: shekamoo
                                  estufarian Feb 11, 2011 03:57 AM

                                  Re: Splendido
                                  None of it (for me anyway).
                                  Splendido (current version) is my go-to place for the 'finest dining' in Toronto (and would have been #1 if I had ranked my top 10). Currently #1 in 2011 too (was there in Jan).
                                  Love the Hoof too.
                                  And, of course, Victor Barry was the one actually cooking those tasting menus (along with the rest of the team) once Nota Bene opened (July 2008?)

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

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

                                  1. re: estufarian
                                    shekamoo Feb 11, 2011 04:21 AM

                                    I know where you stand on the new Splendido from your other posts, but I was wondering whether everyone was so clearly voting for the 'new', no-tasting menu concept, or whether there were some nostalgia-mixed emotions there. I just remember the intense love their Tasting menus used to receive and cannot help but wonder.

                                    1. re: estufarian
                                      justpete Mar 7, 2011 06:59 AM

                                      Ditto for me.

                                      #1 fav restaurant on my list and go-to-spot.

                                      No nastalgia for the former Splendido, although I do miss the canape's.

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

                                    2. re: shekamoo
                                      j
                                      JennaBean Feb 11, 2011 07:57 AM

                                      While admit I miss the old Splendido I truly enjoy the new Splendido and if I compare it to Nota Bene it wins for me hands down.

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

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

                                      1. re: shekamoo
                                        jlunar Feb 11, 2011 08:22 AM

                                        New Splendido (Victor Barry) for my vote, and I'd been just this past two weeks, even! It's my go-to for fancy-pants as well.

                                        Agree with Jenna that it's better than Nota Bene.

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

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

                                        1. re: jlunar
                                          t
                                          tjr Feb 14, 2011 07:05 PM

                                          "New" Splendido is much better than Nota Bene; it may not be the same, but the food is still really well done, whereas Nota Bene is fairly mediocre.

                                    3. aser Feb 10, 2011 07:36 PM

                                      I haven't been, but find it interesting the most hyped opening of 2010 (Scarpetta), didn't get one single vote. Quite telling.....

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: aser
                                        jlunar Feb 10, 2011 10:43 PM

                                        With all the other Italian restos it was competing against: Buca, Campagnolo, Enoteca Sociale, they had to deliver above and beyond. Sadly, this wasn't the case, especially given the price-point.

                                        1. re: aser
                                          t
                                          tjr Feb 14, 2011 07:06 PM

                                          You'll understand when you go :-)

                                        2. p
                                          peppermint pate Feb 10, 2011 06:26 AM

                                          That's a solid list for 2010. I've already started my 2011 research...

                                          Thanks shekamoo!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: peppermint pate
                                            shekamoo Feb 10, 2011 09:27 AM

                                            Thanks pp and jlunar, I think this is a good list too, but more than that I am just happy I wont be doing any more counting!

                                          2. jlunar Feb 10, 2011 05:54 AM

                                            Interesting!! Thanks for the mathing shekamoo!

                                            ---
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