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Dec 6, 2011 08:14 AM

looking for a tasting menu/chef's table for a celebration dinner

Hi - normally I'm very good a reading through these boards and finding recommendations that way, but I feel like I'm out of inspiration now.

Every year I take my family out for a celebratory meal - last year was Colborne Lane's chef's table, in prior years we've done Splendido, Truffles (way back in the day), restaurants like that.

So what I'm looking for is a restaurant with (preferably) a tasting menu, nice to have would be a chef's table. I recently ate at George and enjoyed it, but I'm not feeling it for this dinner. I would try TOCA again but it was so noisy last time, I'm not sure I want to deal with that. We could do Colborne Lane again, but something new would be nice. I think Kaji is at the top of my list right now, but is there anything else out there?

I've spent lots of time (and way too much money) eating abroad, so I'm very spoiled in that regard. I just got back last month from The French Laundry, and since then all the restaurants I've been to have been good, but ho-hum in comparison. It's my own fault, I know. But I'm just hoping there's something in Toronto, that while maybe not in 3 Michelin star league, can be amazing in it's own right.

Thanks for any help

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  1. While it is no French Laundry, I know that Ici Bistro could do a lovely tasting menu for you and your family. Challenges - resto is very small and generally books a min of two weeks in advance.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JennaBean

      I will be going to Ici in a week and a half so I will report back and let you know how it is.

    2. What about a "whole beast" dinner at Beast? Or the private cellar room at Enoteca Sociale?

      With enough notice, and depending on the night of the week, I would think that many restaurants would be open to creating a tasting menu for you, even if it's not part of their regular menu. Are you looking to do this during the holidays?

      1. You totally did it to yourself by going to TFL! I know your pain. It'll wear off eventually. :)

        Now, to be vaguely helpful:
        Both Jenna and Peppermint have some good suggestions so far, with Beast and the wine cellar at ES being my top picks. I haven't been to Ici yet, so can't comment on their food.

        1. I know you've been in the past but splendido's current tasting menu looks pretty good. It's not tfl but I find they're the most precise kitchen in the city. In terms of clean technique/execution, and that's one of keller's trademarks.

          6 Replies
          1. re: aser

            Splendido is a great restaurant, and I consider it to be the best in the city for fine dining. But... it might be too soon for that. You know when something is too close and not close enough? Kinda like that.

            1. re: jlunar

              OTOH Splendido is peforming better than FL right now (IMO) - was there on the weekend - best meal I've ever had there (and fraction of the price of FL). Of course, it's not as pretentious......

              1. re: estufarian

                That is a strong claim estufarian! did you have the truffles menu at Splendido? how was the quality of the ingredients? If it is that good, I should be making reservations.

                1. re: shekamoo

                  No I didn't (although there were indeed some black truffles on an appetizer).
                  I had a set menu (with a group) but I know the price was comparable with a regular menu.
                  But EVERY dish was amazing - give me a day to check out my menu against their regular one.

                  1. re: estufarian

                    No, it wasn't the same - but about half of what we had was identical to a blog review of a meal at Splendido - see Nov 25th on this blog for pictures:


                    We had the scallop dish and the pain d'epices.
                    In addition we had seared foie gras (best I've had this year), with a pear puree, walnut oil, pickled mustard seed and chayote.

                    And main was a pancetta wrapped venison loin.

                2. re: estufarian

                  I know you love TFL, estufarian! :)
                  But I agree, I consistently have really great-to-awesome meals at Splendido, and they're not the same dish/menu every time (which TFL pretty much is, I understand) and I've only eaten at TFL once. So Splendido wins in that regard.

            2. I was at Chiado on Monday night and had the special tasting menu they created for Groupon voucher holders. For the price ($40 a person) I thought it was excellent value and the fish was all cooked perfectly. I am not sure how many are in your party but if they don't have a tasting menu normally I would say it is worth while contacting them about one.

              You didn't mention if you have been to Scaramouche. I was there earlier in the year for a tasting menu and it was excellent. 4 months or so later I had the tasting menu at Splendido and I thought it was great too. Those have been my only true "tasting menu" experiences but my guests where very pleased both times. I would say Splendido went the little extra mile when they knew it was for a special occasion too including doing something special for my guests birthdays (was a multiple birthday situation).

              4 Replies
              1. re: ylsf

                so a question about chiado. i've never been, but looking over the menu, it strikes me that they are charging outrageous prices ($40+ entrees) for what looks to be very basic cooking -- e.g., pan seared or grilled fish, steak, etc., maybe with a sauce or a chutney or something.

                presumably they're good at what they do, but i am having a very hard time squaring what looks to be fairly simple cooking with prices that i associate with much, much more inventive and ambitious kitchens. in other words, chiado (it's not the only example, but probably the most obvious one) looks from the outside to be a high-end restaurant circa 1996 or something, i.e. from back in the bad old days when competent food + stuffy atmosphere = "high end" dining. (or maybe the better analogy is to a house restaurant for a very, very high end retirement home.)

                am i way off base on this? is the cooking more exciting than i'm giving it credit for? can someone explain why i would ever consider paying $48 for some grilled shrimp?

                1. re: autopi

                  Well I haven't looked at their normal menu but the meal I had the other night was creative/interesting. I thought it would be stuffy/boring too but I was surprised. Again, not sure of the normal menu.

                  1. re: autopi

                    Clearly you've never had their shrimp! They charge $14 (or thereabouts) each at the bar - and nobody complains.

                    Their menu is a mixture of traditional dishes (which I also find boring) and what might be described as 'nouvelle Portuguese'. The style and service is reminiscent of a French restaurant - and prices match what one would expect there. So, the Portuguese equivalent of a North 44, Centro or Canoe (as we don't have any traditional French places left in Toronto).

                    1. re: estufarian

                      Those shrimp are AMAZING! Totally worth the $14 IMO.