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Hubby's 50th - need a recommendation

It's my husband's 50th birthday this month. He doesn't want a big party...just 3 couples enjoying a wonderful dinner and some good drinks/wine for the evening. I would like to get a tasting menu and/or chef's tables. I'm considering Splendido, Nota Bene, Canoe or TOCA.

Anyone have any feedback/recommendations?

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

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

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  1. Nota Bena is not one of my fav places but I love Splendido and I'd also suggest you consider George. Unless you're doing dinner on a weeknight, Canoe is out.

    The reviews of TOCA so far have been lukewarm.

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

    1. Scaramouche would also be a great choice Call early and request a table with a view downtown Miranda

      1. I spent my 40th birthday at the kitchen table at Colborne Lane, exactly as you are describing: 3 couples, laughing and celebrating with food and wine for over 4 hours. The kitchen table is in a small private room off the basement kitchen at CL -- it has a big picture window where you can watch the kitchen in action. The chef's tasting menu (which is the only menu available in that room) is 15 courses (though they do count the bite size courses that other restaurants wouldn't, such as the amuse). It's expensive and a splurge, but really great for a celebration with close friends. The wine list is limited and expensive, but that didn't bother me that night. :)

        Of the places you list, I would skip Nota Bene for a special occasion meal. You can't go wrong with Splendido or Canoe. No reports on TOCA yet!

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

        Colborne Lane
        45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: TorontoJo

          I agree - pass on Nota Bene for special occasions. It's not that special. Splendido is my personal fav, and always a good bet with no risk. TOCA has only done a soft opening, so they're still working out the kinks... The food definitely has potential, you just need to be careful what you order. My steak left much to be desired. The Chefs' table might be great, although it carries an $1800 minimum food-only cost (10 seats max).

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

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

        2. I would also pass on Nota Bene. Splendido is solid.
          Canoe - I don't think I can be objective. The food is excellent as is the service, but I have many lunches there, so to me it is always a "work" restaurant.

          My favourite choice would be George. Excellent food and service, very nice atmosphere. It is one of my favourite restaurants.

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

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

          7 Replies
          1. re: CocoaChanel

            Thanks to all who have replied with their recommendations. I was planning on Splendido....I called them asking for a table for 6 for my husband's 50th..they only want us there either at 6:30 or 8:30. I'm planning a special dinner not a quick in and out. Not great customer service....I'm so surprised and very disappointed.

            1. re: audbod

              Did they tell you that you had to be out in a short time? Or were those the only times they had available for your party? I didn't think they gave our time-limits on their tables!

              1. re: jlunar

                I asked to make a reservation for 7 p.m. for a party of 6. They asked if I could make it for 6:30 as they wanted to have the table available at 8:30. I told them that I was planning a nice evening out for my husband's 50th which would include plenty of cocktails/wine on top of our meal. They told me that they wanted to have the table open for 2 sittings and I had a choice...either come in at 6:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. Neither of these options sounded great to me. I told them I picked their restaurant over all the other restaurants in the city - but that made no difference to them. I opted not to book our dinner there. Frankly I'm so surprised....we'd been there a few times before (with both old and new ownership) and that's never happened. Needless to say I'm not happy with the service. I have since booked our dinner at George and expect to spend a good part of the evening enjoying our night and not only 2 hours.

                1. re: audbod

                  Every meal I've had at Marben has been spectacular. Price is right and they have a Chef's table. The menu is designed to share the dishes so you can work your way through the menu as a group of six easily. Actually, I'm sure if you called them, you could find out what they expect to be serving on that date. Their menu changes seasonally, the food is sustainably grown and local and the quality is incredibly good. When we go, we usually try to book a seat at "the pass". The pass is the open area (window) into the kitchen. They have it set up like a sushi bar style, where you sit on a stool on one side of the tabletop and the chef and crew are working on the other side. Your food is freshly prepared and served by the chef. Their wine selection is very good and the service is wonderful. The staff really understand the food they're preparing and serving so when you ask a question, the answers are thoughful and informative. If you haven't tried it, you'll be pleasantly surprised... and so will your pocket book. The prices are REALLY reasonable. If you go, you MUST order their burger... braised short ribs inside a fresh patty, cooked then topped with aged cheddar and housemade toppingson a freshly made bun, with a side of frites. Awesome! They never disappoint and I've been there many times.

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                  Marben
                  488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA

                  1. re: poshnoshtoronto

                    Marben's room is really cool, but it's loud and turns into a club the longer you linger. More of a honky tonk feel than carts and linen. Not quite what the OP was going for, given their list...

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                    Marben
                    488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA

                  2. re: audbod

                    I guess if that was their only table left, that was the choice you had. I've never had them tell me I had a time limit, though I generally take later reservations so it's probably never an issue! From what I can tell, they are ridiculously busy, as at 9pm, people (like me!) are still getting seated. That is a bummer though, to not be able to get your time.

                    George is supposed to be really nice! I haven't been recently enough to comment, but let us know how it went!

                    1. re: audbod

                      Do you remember who you were talking to? Did you ask for a manager?
                      (not that you should have to)

              2. Scaramouche as one writer has suggested. I agree with many on Nota Bene. Pastis is still a fave !
                But for some special, ya can't beat Scaramouche...and get window seating..you can enjoy some martinis at the Pasta bar area if you get there early!

                Happy Birthday!! Is he an Aries or Pisces?
                SB

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

                5 Replies
                1. re: ski break

                  I just wanted to thank everyone who posted and gave me their recommendations. I decided on celebrating at George. It was fantastic!!! It was our first time there and they absolutely made it memorable for all. We had a 7 course tasting with wine pairing and each course got better and better. As it was also Earth Hour that day, the restaurant observed the hour dimming all the lights in the restaurant and illuminating it with candles. Truly lovely.

                  Thanks to all for your suggestions!!

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                  George
                  111 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 1S2, CA

                  1. re: audbod

                    I'm glad it all worked out. In a previous post you mentioned you only had two hours if you were going to Splendido. Did they say that you had to be out by 10:30 if you took the 8:30 time?

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      Spendido didn't say that we would have to be out by 10:30, but arriving for 8:30 was too late. We got to George at 7 p.m. and left at 11:30. I was just so disappointed with Spendido's response. I spent a lot of money for this dinner, which I was happy to do...but I wasn't going to give it to an establishment that clearly was not interested in creating a good experience for me. I know that for any future celebrations and business functions I will be going to George from now on.

                      1. re: audbod

                        Typically all 'higher end' restaurants elect to turn over their tables twice on a Saturday night... in a relatively small restaurant, with a party your size, it makes it somewhat difficult - so I can appreciate that you decided to go somewhere else, but I cannot fault them either. They are typically fully booked as well, so it's possible that they were making an effort to accommodate you as much as possible.