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NYC/NJ Chowhounder coming to Toronto

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: stephen

      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

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

      2. 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. 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. 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. 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

                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

                  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