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Aug 5, 2011 04:35 AM

Toronto Fine Dining

There seems to be differint opinions on this board as to what constitutes fine dining. I would be interested to know what criteria we use to define fine dining and which restaurants in Toronto are fine dining in your opinion and why. I would also like to know everyone's favourite fine dining restaurant in Toronto.

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  1. For me it is places such as George(my personal fav), Canoe, Auberge, Splendido, Jacobs. For me fine dinning is four things - quality of ingredients, quality of service, food presentation (not just plating but the details in the garnish) and last price.

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

    5 Replies
    1. re: JennaBean

      I imagine no one person will have a complete definition and everyone's input will contribute to the answer. Adding to JennaBean's list, I think that fine dining is technique driven with the goal of presenting the heart of the ingredients. By heart I mean stripping away anything that is impure, unwanted, or unnecessary and leaving behind the most intense and refined expression of that ingredient. Maybe another way of wording it would be a refining process. A simple example is a carrot puree soup, the home cook may just puree and serve, because their focus may be speed and ease of preparation, the fine dining cook would strain the puree to remove unwanted and less flavoured fiber so as to showcase the best part of the soup. Obviously other things go along with this like using complimentary ingredients to set off the main ingredient or enriching the dish with fat or whatever else is lacking in the original ingredient. But ultimately I see the goal as presenting the heart of the ingredient.
      The other part I would like to add and something found in the best fine dining restaurants is that the food expresses something. El Bulli is about formal issues, Noma is about expressing a specific part of the world and for us Eigensinn Farm is about expressing a philosophy.

      1. re: JennaBean

        I think atmosphere and beautiful surroundings should be added to JennaBean's list

        1. re: bronwen

          All of the above plus " Sommelier and a great wine list "!
          Also, the little things like Amuse bouche, palette cleanser, a sauce spoon to go with the normal cutlery, separate bus boys for bread, water...etc, dome covering for dishes and simultaneous opening of them by wait staff.......

          1. re: bronwen

            I certainly agree that fine dining is about more than food, but about taking in a food experience. For example, I had a particularly enjoyable dining experience at August in New Orleans a few years ago. Without looking at pictures, I can't tell you what I ate, but I *can* remember the absolutely superb host who made our evening so perfect. On the other hand, I can't remember the face of the ninja server who somehow managed to keep our place settings clean and our drinks refreshed without us every noticing him (her?). To me, that's fine dining.

            1. re: Underdog Rally

              LOVE your using the term 'Ninja server'!! Great Michelin star restaurants in France are famous for such 'steath' service!

        2. I would add ambiance; lighting, background music, noise level, dress code, etc. Am I the only one who feels GTA patrons generally dress like slobs, especially for dinner?

          12 Replies
          1. re: Apprentice

            I've never seen someone looking 'slob' like at George, Spendido, Canoe, etc. In fact one of the things that turns me off of a resto is when I walk in and it is filled with suits. So unappealing to me.

            1. re: Apprentice

              I'm not sure I'd agree that GTA patrons generally dress like slobs. The way patrons dress depends more on where they're eating their dinner.

              Many people dress for the neighbourhood. The Suits from the Financial District might morph into Ginas and Ginos when they dine on the Danforth and in Woodbridge.The same Suits might morph (or attempt to morph) into Hipsters, Scenesters or Socialistas when they dine on Ossington.

              Some people who look like slobs might be wearing $300 jeans to eat their $18 pizzas. And some people who look like Ivana break out the Vuitton to eat their $3 cupcakes at Pusateri's.

              I would think most people are more likely to dress up when their mains cost more than $40.

              What other patrons choose to wear doesn't turn me off a restaurant, although I would be tempted to take photos if I walked into a restaurant and everyone was wearing bad jeans or spandex.

              Main thing that turns me off is a server or host with attitude.

              Re: the OP's original question
              Scaramouche is my current favourite fine dining restaurant in the GTA.

              My main criteria for fine dining are quality ingredients, careful execution, properly spaced tables, clean silverware, reasonable noise levels and competent service.

              1 Benvenuto Place, Toronto, ON M4V 2L1, CA

              1. re: prima

                Properly spaced tables at Scaramouche ?! Oh no, I don't think so.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  Have you felt other tables have been placed too close to your table at Scaramouche? There's always been plenty of space between tables when I've dined there. Maybe I've just been lucky?

                  1. re: prima

                    The layout of Scaramouche is like this in the following pic. I basically can hear what other people in another table say, does not look like what a fine dining establishment setting to me. Well, of course you may think this is called plenty of space.


                    1. re: skylineR33

                      While I agree the tables in the photo seem crowded, the layout is more spacious in the centre of the dining room.

                      I've always been seated at one of the banquettes, or at one of the 4 tops closer to the centre of the dining room. I've never been able to hear what other people at another table say.

                      1. re: prima

                        However, my friends that I am going there with always prefer window seats because of the view. I dine more comfortably at Macdonald.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          Scaramouche is my all time favourite resto. I've never felt cramped in either the dining room or the pasta bar. That is one of the things I love about it. Understated elegance. Love, love love scaramouche

                          1. re: millygirl

                            I'm also quite partial to Scaramouche's Pasta Bar - haven't been in the more spacious main dining room in years - and have never felt cramped, though I've spotted some tables that might be deemed somewhat too close to others, with resulting heavy traffic, for comfort. I simply avoid those tables. If it ever looks like the maitre d' is leading me to one of them, I politely ask for another table and have never been refused. Those tables soon get filled, mind, with what I take to be inexperienced first-timers to the resto. More to the point, Scaramouche has been my favorite fine dining destination for a couple of decades - because of its marvelous consistency. Always first-rate, both food, service and ambience. It has never ever had a bad night when I've been there, about two or three times a year. If you're prepared to pop $175-$200 a couple, all in, you'll get your money's worth. Can't say the same for a couple of other sometimes-up-and-sometimes-down fine dining joints around town.

                            1. re: juno

                              Scaramouche is never a truly fine dining restaurant to me. Food is ok, not particularly memorable. If I have to avoid certain section or table of the restaurant, or avoid going there on a Saturaday, etc in order to avoid disappointment, it is not what I call high end which I am willing to pay a premium for it. A truly fine dining restaurant to me should have the ability and resource to ensure I am having a pleasant experience there, which to me Scaramouch is not, but YMMV.

                              1. re: juno

                                I can't say that I've felt cramped at Scaramouche either. I may personally think the decor is dated, but I don't have an issue with the seating - and I am fairly sensitive to the issue - and often switch seats if I feel we're being seated too close to another party. Haven't had an issue at Scaramouche though.

                        2. re: skylineR33

                          All I can see in the photo are the terrible chairs screaming for an update!