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NYC/NJ Chowhounder coming to Toronto

angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 10:31 AM

Shame on me for being in the airport as I post this and I still haven't done the proper research as to where I will have dinner while I am in Town for the next 2 nights. Sorry for the short notice. My culinary fate is in your hands. I am staying at the intercontinental on Front Street. Looking for a nice place to have dinner with a freind and business associate. Any cuisine, nice place. Budget less important. Thanks in advance for the help.

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  1. s
    stephen RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 10:34 AM

    Is is too late to ask you to bring a decent cheese steak sandwich?

    2 Replies
    1. re: stephen
      5
      5andman RE: stephen Feb 23, 2011 10:57 AM

      Avoid any resto near your hotel on Front. Most of them are just 'chains'.

      Royal York hotel has a few nice resto (local Canadiana). Olivers (Front & Yonge) might be worth a try.

      1. re: stephen
        angelo04 RE: stephen Feb 23, 2011 02:43 PM

        Should have got me sooner! But they tend t not travel well!

      2. prima RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 11:02 AM

        These restaurants are within a 20 minute walk/10 minute taxi ride of/from your hotel.
        Canoe- upscale contemporary/continental/Canadian, mostly business crowd
        Le Select- French bistro
        Rodney's by Bay- casual seafood, a bit of a Maritime vibe, several types of oysters each day
        The Gabardine- bistro/comfort food
        Buca- Italian (rec their contemporary flatbreads), with a little scene
        Lee- share plates, with some scene
        Biff's- bistro with a mostly business crowd
        Jacobs & Co- upscale steak with scene
        Harbour 60- upscale steak
        Paese- casual Italian
        Carisma- upscale, formal Italian

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        Canoe
        54th Floor TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6, CA

        Harbour Sixty
        60 Harbour Street, Toronto, ON M5J 1B7, CA

        Le Select
        432 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V1E3, CA

        Jacobs & Co
        12 Brant Street, Toronto, ON M5V 2M1, CA

        Lee
        603 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

        Rodney's By Bay
        56 Temperance Street, Toronto, ON M5H 3V5, CA

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

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

        Paese
        333 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

        Carisma Restaurant
        73 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C 2V8, CA

        The Gabardine
        372 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H 3W1, CA

        1. p
          peppermint pate RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 11:15 AM

          With the parameters of any cuisine, nice place and any budget, you've pretty much got the whole city open to you - but we'll forgive you as you probably racing through the airport scanner as you were typing out your note.

          Assuming the combo of nice place and any budget means you're leaning towards upscale, I'd suggest any of Buca, Splendido, Origin, Lai Wah Heen and Canoe. For great food in a slightly more casual setting, I'd suggest Beast, Torito, Rodney's By Bay or Starfish.

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

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

          Torito
          276 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

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

          1. c
            childofthestorm RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 11:28 AM

            If budget is not a big deal I'd say Canoe. Uniquely Canadian twist on fine dining, you won't find the equivalent in NY, and we can't say that about much in Toronto.

            1. estufarian RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 12:33 PM

              Obviously, given your time frame, 'reservations required' are probably out already.
              Also (despite well-meaning suggestions already) I can't see you being happy with ANY of our Italian or Steak House recommendations - they'll pale in comparison to anything at home.

              If your budget is high - then Canoe is close by and excellent - and is less busy in evening than at lunchtime (in Financial district). So that's a safe choice.

              I'm wary of seafood in Toronto - no issue with the recommendations so far - except none are outstanding by many travellers standards.

              Buca and Lee are very noisy - if you want conversation I'd skip those. Biff's (same ownership as Canoe, but lesser) and Gabardine are so-so food - certainly nothing exceptional (and Gabardine closes early and is really a pub - hence noisy). Origin similarly noisy (but better food IMO).
              Lai Wah Heen does a SUPERB dim sum lunch - but you specify dinner and it seems (to me) less exciting for dinner - although high quality.

              I love Splendido - but again, wouldn't send a New Yorker/commuter there as there are several similar places in NY. Rather I'd suggest Chiado which is VERY upscale (and formal) Portuguese food (not close - maybe 20 mins cab ride) and I think that will be a 'new experience'.
              If it's pleasant enough to walk there's a Bistro (reservations needed) about 15 mins away, called Niagara Street Cafe and that would be my 'local' recommendation. Beast is also in that area, and has some love - but I haven't been so can't comment knowledgably.

              You're staying in convention area hell for restaurants. Please don't judge us by ANYTHING you just walk into!

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

              Niagara Street Cafe
              169 Niagara St, Toronto, ON M5V1C9, CA

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

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

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

              2 Replies
              1. re: estufarian
                j
                jamesm RE: estufarian Feb 23, 2011 12:43 PM

                Same issue as is arising that always occurs when someone from out of town looks for recommendations. They get tons of feedback about why any suggestions pale in comparison to something they might find at home. They're not looking for a completely unique, out of this world gastronomical adventure unparalleled in the world. He said he's looking for a nice place to have dinner with a colleague that serves good food. Any of the suggestions thus far fit the bill.

                1. re: estufarian
                  prima RE: estufarian Feb 23, 2011 12:57 PM

                  The places I mentioned serve reasonably good food close to the Intercontinental on Front. Any "well-meaning" suggestions I've made are simply for "nice places" near the OP's hotel.

                  Absolutely agree that our steaks, seafood and Italian aren't likely to wow NYC visitors used to ordering the best steaks, seafood & Italian in NYC. While our steak, seafood and Italian options aren't likely to be wow-worthy, I don't think they'll make a NYC/NJ visitor unhappy. I would think most NYC/NJ visitors would adjust their expectations when they visit cities like Toronto, just like I adjust my expectations when I visit Moose Jaw or Sarnia.

                  That being said, Paese and Buca serve food that is roughly equivalent to quite a few midrange Italian restos I've dined at in NYC over the years. I'm not saying our Italian restaurants will compete with the best of NYC, but our mid-range Italian restos can hold their own. Quite a few midrange Italian meals I've had in NYC have left me thinking that I could have gotten something just as good (or better) at home in TO.

                  I like Chiado, and agree it's one of TO's best restaurants, but NYC has Aldea, serving upscale, contemporary Portuguese cuisine at a similar pricepoint. I'm not sure if Chiado is going to wow anyone who has been dining at Aldea. Might be nice to compare the 2 restaurants, though. Has anyone dined at both Chiado and Aldea recently?

                  Echoing other posters in this thread, certainly recommend Lai Wah Heen for upscale Cantonese food that can't be found in NYC.

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

                2. jlunar RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 12:56 PM

                  I'll toss in Campagnolo (ask to sit at the Chef's bar - you'll be right up at the kitchen). Italian, short card, good room, interesting drinks. Can make reservations. Takes credit card. Nothing crazy, but solid-to-awesome dishes.

                  I also like the Black Hoof a lot. But no reservations and cash only.

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

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

                  Campagnolo
                  832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: jlunar
                    angelo04 RE: jlunar Feb 24, 2011 05:50 PM

                    So I was solo tonight and decided to cross Canoe off my short list. Since I was solo, decided I would like to sit at the chef bar at Campagnolo. The menu was really short but surprisingly I had a difficult time choosing what to eat, so the Chef did some half portions. I got to try bunch of dishes. I also enjoyed being close to the action. These guys knew what they were doing and they did it well.That said,really surprised to learn they only opened three months ago.

                    Started with a campari with honey syrup and rosemary, a well made and different cocktail. The app was a Bruchetta cheese served warm with roasted grapes and some crispy Italian Bread. Had some warm bagutte and these crispy asiago cheese breads. Entrees were fluke with a clam a smoked ham hock over potato. Then a lovley braised wild boar ribs, meatball and tripe served over polenta. Really great meal and ambiance. No room for dessert but they gave me a shot glass of this salty carmel pudding concoction that was really good. Thanks again for the rec. I highly recommend this to my fellow hounds

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                    Campagnolo
                    832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

                    1. re: angelo04
                      jlunar RE: angelo04 Feb 24, 2011 08:45 PM

                      Glad you had a good meal! I love sitting at the bar overlooking the kitchen (of any restaurant, really). They guys at Campagnolo were really talkative and friendly too. They make good hosts as well as chefs.

                      I like that starter with the burrata cheese and roasted grapes. They change their menu quite often, so while the menu's short, I don't feel there's a lot of repeat, except for maybe the desserts. But that's okay though, as I really like their salted caramel budino. That, and the spaghetti alla amatriciana (however it's spelled).

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                      Campagnolo
                      832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

                      1. re: jlunar
                        estufarian RE: jlunar Feb 25, 2011 06:07 AM

                        I have a strong aversion to tomatoes and was under the impression that the cuisine at Campagnolo was 'Southern italian' - so hadn't even considered a visit - yet no tomatoes mentioned.
                        Would I have enough choice to justify a visit?

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                        Campagnolo
                        832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

                        1. re: estufarian
                          jlunar RE: estufarian Feb 25, 2011 07:34 AM

                          here's my first meal: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/s... and it had a couple dishes with tomatoes in it.

                          My second visit (not posted yet) had only the all'amatriciana as a tomato-based dish as far as I can tell. Depends on the day, I think. They change their menu pretty often, though there are some staples.

                          Based on my two visits (a small sample!), looks like 1-2 dishes will likely have tomato in it. About a 15% reduction in menu. Up to you if that's enough choice. :)

                          1. re: jlunar
                            estufarian RE: jlunar Feb 25, 2011 09:37 AM

                            That's WAY better than most Southern Italian places.
                            Thanks.

                      2. re: angelo04
                        p
                        peppermint pate RE: angelo04 Feb 25, 2011 10:26 AM

                        Thanks for the trip reports angelo - I think you made out pretty well on short notice! And I'm glad you decided to forego Canoe for your second dinner. It's a good restaurant, to be sure, but I don't think it would have been a different enough experience from Biff's. Your review has definitely added some extra oomph to my desire to try Campagnolo in the near future.

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                        Campagnolo
                        832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

                        1. re: peppermint pate
                          angelo04 RE: peppermint pate Feb 25, 2011 10:43 AM

                          Happy to pay back with some good info. Both dinners were the best part of the trip.

                    2. aser RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 02:22 PM

                      If staying w/i downtown is essential......things you can't get in NYC/NJ

                      Lai Wah Heen (upscale Cantonese dim sum and banquet dinner, one of the best in N. America)
                      Hoof Cafe (innovative brunch, their last week of operation coincides with your visit)
                      Chiado/Joso's (high end Portuguese seafood, I've never been but they get props here)

                      Expect really small pourings of booze compared to back home.

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

                      1. angelo04 RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 02:42 PM

                        Thanks for the suggestions and Canadian Hosipitality. I will let you know where I ultimatley, Unfortunatley my counterpart wants some say too! lol

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: angelo04
                          d
                          dubchild RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 05:35 PM

                          There were already some good suggestion. I like Canoe for the bar, the drinks aren't crazy expensive and you get the great view. Keep in mind they are closed on weekends.

                        2. angelo04 RE: angelo04 Feb 23, 2011 06:30 PM

                          Wound up a Biff's and suprisingly went with the prix fixe since the beef bourguignon caught my eye. It was very good, especially those chunks of bacon aka lardons. The Biff Ceasar was good, nothing mind blowing. Closed with the chocalate tort which was heavenly and the perfect portion for me after the heavy dinner. Thanks again. I might try Canoe tomorrow depending on how the day at the office goes. For $50 with 20% tip and a glass of wine, quite a bargain in my mind. Thanks again.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: angelo04
                            estufarian RE: angelo04 Feb 24, 2011 05:00 AM

                            Thanks for the feedback - it's always valuable to discover how 'non-locals' assess the recommendations.

                            1. re: angelo04
                              prima RE: angelo04 Feb 24, 2011 06:10 AM

                              Thanks for reporting back. Happy to hear you liked your meal at Biff's.

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