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Birthday dinner for 2 suggestions

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  • SMOG Apr 27, 2011 06:11 AM
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So we've been out of the dining scene for a few months now after having a baby, but my wife's birthday is coming up and I want to take her out for a special dinner. It's just the two of us and there are no budget restrictions. I'm thinking a tasting menu or chef's table would be nice, but not absolutely necessary.

We've enjoyed Colborne Lane in the past, but want to try something different. Have a strong preference for an atmosphere and food that is more on the casual and fun side than formal. I'm leaning towards Splendido and considering George. Are there any other suggestions?

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

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

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  1. There are other suggestions, but I would go with either of your first two selections - you can't go wrong with Splendido, and I've heard the same about George (I have not yet, but only because we always go to Splendido when we want the best that the city has to offer). They've recently introduced a regular tasting menu as well. You may also consider Origin, if the atmosphere is paramount to the food (although the food is great there too). It's just a bit noisy for some people - and if you're going on a 'date' of sorts, you may not appreciate Origin's very lively atmosphere.

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

    Origin
    109 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

    9 Replies
    1. re: justpete

      We're going to Origin a couple weeks after. Been there and love it, but it's not quite the special occasion spot I was looking for. That type of fun atmosphere is perfect, though.

      Does Splendido's tasting menu change on a daily basis?

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

      1. re: SMOG

        Splendido and George are both great, but given your description of "fun atmosphere" I don't think you'll find what you're looking for at either. They are both quite formal and sedate.

        Have you been to Buca? If you like the vibe at Origin, you'll find Buca in the same zone.

        I'm trying to think of some other spots that would be special, but still fun and drawing a blank. Maybe Campagnolo? It's been getting some love on the board, though I haven't been.

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

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

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

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Yes, been to Buca and enjoyed it, but wanted something a little more special in terms of food. More of an experience that we don't get all the time, like a tasting menu, although I did find the food at Buca to be special. I'll read up on Campagnolo - that's one of the new places that popped up while we were in our stay-home-with-baby phase.

          Colborne Lane had the atmosphere we're looking for and the food experience. I'm thinking this is a rarity in Toronto and we may have to accept a more sedate atmosphere for a tasting menu experience.

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

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

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

          1. re: SMOG

            I agree that the combination at Colborne Lane of high-end food in a fun atmosphere is a bit of a rarity.

            You might want to give Amuse Bistro (out in the Beach) a call. When Pat Riley was there, they had a chef's table right in front of the kitchen and they offered a chef's menu. Riley is no longer there, but they might still carry on the tradition.

            http://www.amusetoronto.com/live/

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

            1. re: SMOG

              Ooh, I just thought of the "whole beast" dinner at Beast. You have to contact the restaurant in advance to arrange it, but basically you pick an animal you're interested in (lamb, rabbit, deer, cow, pig, etc.) and they prepare a tasting menu for you using "the whole beast". The restaurant itself has a very simple "neighbourhood bistro" vibe, but the dinner might be fun way to celebrate your birthday.

              http://thebeastrestaurant.com/?page_i...

            2. re: TorontoJo

              I don't think you've been to Splendido since the change in ownership. It's not formal, nor sedate, although it's nothing close to the atmosphere at Origin - but it's much more relaxed. The food isn't as stuffy as prior either, nor the presentation. The owner and staff are also very friendly.

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

              1. re: justpete

                Ah, fair enough. I guess I still have the "old" Splendido in my mind! I need to get in there and try it. :)

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

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  Definitely! You won't regret it!

            3. re: SMOG

              hmm, they've only recently introduced the tasting menu, so hard to say at this point.

          2. what chefs/restaurants have you enjoyed that fit the food and atmosphere you're looking for?

            when i travel for work i tend to be on my own and frequently ask for special menus and am met with excitement and interest by the restaurant even if it is not something they normally do, of course with advance notice. it's been largely successful. i've really enjoyed the food at buca as well (though i ignore specific parts of the menu) and if i were able to convince him to do a tasting meal, that would be amazing!

            2 Replies
            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              It's a good point. Perhaps I'll revisit some of our favourites and see if they're willing to do a tasting menu. The only thing I'd be afraid of was if the place were busy, I would imagine we could get lost in the jumble with the chef trying to make smaller plates for one table while also serving all the others. For example, in a place like Globe Earth that is also bustling, it may be a difficult thing for them to accommodate.

              1. re: SMOG

                i don't pressure them and express to them that i'm perfectly fine if half of the menu consists of items on the menu already, just in smaller format. i am fine to hear "no", my motto is if i don't ask then i will never know and if they say "no" i've still lost nothing. come to think of it, i haven't received a "no" and once the ante was completely upped on me for a very very memorable meal.

                packed trendy restaurants, lots of bustle (the "stuffy" ones tend to already have tasting menus) but no noticeable wait times and good amounts of attention from the wait staff. the only funny business is when the tables around me notice very different plates showing up at my table. this has mostly been in the US but i and others have still accomplished this in TO with great rewards.