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Jan 4, 2012 05:36 PM

Looking for a birthday party venue in Yorkville

I'm trying to plan a last-minute (well, two-weeks out) surprise party for my mom's 65th birthday. She lives in Yorkville, and something walking distance would be ideal. (She has bad feet, so it should be within a couple blocks of Avenue Rd and Bloor.) I'm looking at around 15-20 guests, and am open to places that can do either a cocktail party or a sit-down dinner, but I would like there to be room for at least a little mingling - so a private room is best.

Oh yes - my mom is a foodie. :)

The first place I contacted was Pangaea. I know it gets mediocre reviews here, but my mom really likes it (and it's a block away!) However, they're a little out of our price range. The large room has a $2000 minimum, and the small room with the $1000 minimum only holds 14 people. $1000 is doable, but I would like to be able to invite more than 14 people for that amount.

The next place I tried is Carens Wine and Cheese Bar. They have prices starting at $38/pp for what looks like a really nice selection of hors d'oeuvres and meat and cheese platters, but their private room isn't available on my mom's birthday. :(

So now I'm stuck. Does anyone have any suggestions for a Yorkville venue? Something nice, but not too expensive?


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  1. Both Malena and Mistura have great private dining rooms. Ciao has smaller rooms downstairs, but I find them a bit cold with inferior food to both Mistura and Malena.

    2 Replies
    1. re: The Macallan 18

      Thanks! I checked out the websites for all three of these, and I worry that Mistura and Malena are going to be too expensive - their pricing looked a lot like Pangaea's.

      I'm curious about Ciao, though. I've never been - it looks like it is in the old Movenpick location, and I vaguely remember the downstairs there from eating there as a child. While I understand that it's not as good as the other two, is it good enough? The price point looks about right!

      1. re: looz

        I think Ciao would be good enough. I have been to 2 birthday parties in their private room downstairs and it was a nice evening. The food is good, stick to apps and pastas. The pizzas are ok. The cocktails are very nice. I think you would be able to stay in a lower price range than Mistura or Pangaea for sure.
        The only issue would be whether the stairs would be an issue for your mom.

    2. I like Caren's for wine, but I don't think their food is that great.

      I agree with The Macallen that Malena has a good private room, but the food has changed considerably since the new Chef took over last fall. I was underwhelmed the last time I dined at Malena.

      You might want to check with the Studio Cafe, to see if they have a private room for a smaller group.

      Second the idea of Mistura, although your mom might require a short cab ride.

      Opus has a nice private dining room. Might also want to consider Vittorio's, although that might also mean a short cab ride for your mom.

      Vittorio's on Avenue
      137 Avenue Road, Toronto, ON , CA

      265 Davenport Rd, Toronto, ON M5R1J9, CA

      37 Prince Arthur Ave, Toronto, ON M5R1B2, CA

      Studio Cafe
      21 Avenue Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2G1, CA

      Malena Estiatorio
      120 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON , CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: prima

        I've actually never eaten a meal at Caren's... I've just been there for wine and cheese! It had been recommended on the boards as a good place for a party, and it's right across the street from my mom's. Maybe their being booked is a good thing!

        The Studio Cafe is a good idea! I'll give them a shout in the morning, as well as Opus. I think Vittorio's is a bit too far for this. It being a surprise, we have to be a bit sneaky in getting her there, and I think she would suspect something if she got in a cab.

      2. Try Il Posto and Courtyard Restaurant (121 Yorkvile Av at Old York Lane). Both are older people friendly (as opposed to young and trendy). Il Post has better food, great 'old school' service. Courtyard is more budget friendly, so-so food, still good service. Both have semi-private area or room, but not sure exactly how many they fit.

        8 Replies
        1. re: derekw

          Il Posto sounds like a definite possibility. I'll give them a shout tomorrow. As for the Courtyard, I'm nervous if it has only "so so" food.

          Good point about thinking of somewhere more older-people friendly, though my mom would probably be offended to hear herself being called "older"! However, that being said, when she was telling me about her dinner at Sociale, all she talked about was how loud it was!

          1. re: derekw

            Also, Il Posto reminded me... There used to be an Italian restaurant in the courtyard surrounding the Church of The Redeemer at Bloor and Avenue. I thought Il Posto was it, but that's on Yorkville. Does anyone know the name of the restaurant I'm thinking of, and if it's still there? Thanks!

            1. re: looz

              The restaurant you're thinking of is Prego della Piazza - now closed.

              A 2 block radius of Avenue and Bloor is a bit tough for great food + not crazily priced. Maybe Joso's? What night of the week are you planning this for?

              1. re: peppermint pate

                What about C5 at the ROM or Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner? Both host private events 7 nights a week and don't have a regular dinner service so you'd have the space to yourselves. You'd need to price it out but a little cocktail gathering with apps or a dinner may be doable within your price range, food should be good and foodie-worthy and beautiful, interesting spaces within your easy walking radius.

                1. re: peppermint pate

                  It's a Thursday night. I left a bunch of messages today, and Ciao was the one who got back to me. Looks promising!

                  I know it's a difficult neighbourhood to find something both tasty and reasonably priced! In my neck of the woods it's a lot easier. I threw a party last fall for 15 people at Czehoski that came in at under $400 including wine. It involved serving a lot of their "comfort foods" such as the pulled pork poutine and mac and cheese, which worked really well for that group, but my mom isn't into that sort of thing. She's a little higher-brow. :)

                  1. re: looz

                    Ciao's food is not bad. (Il Posto is easily better though.) The thing you need to watch out for in your case is that Ciao is young and trendy, i.e. dark lighting and possibly clubby music (if I recall).

                    1. re: derekw

                      Thanks for the heads up about the music. The private room in the basement looked nice, but loud music will make my mom crazy. I'll see who calls me back tomorrow!

                      1. re: looz

                        it's not loud downstairs at all. it's cozy. and their poleta fries are so delicious. I really like the space.

            2. Sassafraz has a private room/floor.

              1 Reply
              1. re: eco987

                and really terrible food and questionable service