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CH Best of the GTA for 2012 - Results

The masses have spoken
Here are the top ... 11

1) Khao San Road-----------------------------------------22 votes
2) Enoteca Sociale-----------------------------------------17 votes
3) Marben-----------------------------------------------------11 votes
4=5) Woodlot, Splendido, Buca-------------------------10 votes
6-11) with 8 votes each:
Harbord Room
Black Hoof
Burger's Priest
Pizzeria Libretto (Ossington)
Guu Izakaya (Church Street)

And honourable mentions, the next 5

Campagnolo
Grand Electric
Cava
Porchetta & Co
Beast

As always, a interesting list
Last years winner, the Black Hoof still holds a spot
Guu and Splendido also repeat

163 separate restaurants got at least 1 vote

Last year's 2nd place, Lai Wah Heen only got 2 votes this year

Last year we nominated a restaurant that had already closed, this year we've nominated a takeout counter.

If you want to compare, here are last years results
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/765205

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  1. Thanks for doing the hard work in compiling and presenting the results! Need to get myself out to Khao San Road already!

    1. Thanks, bytepusher! And for anyone who wants to see the voting thread:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/827413

      1. Interesting to note there are not any fine dining restaurants listed except for Splendido. Last year's list had many more. My prediction is that things will swing back for next year's list.

        1. Thanks for all the work.
          But I just don't believe that all those people have visited Enoteca Sociale under the new chef and also rated it Top 10 in Toronto.
          But, perhaps (if you volunteer next year) you could just remove the restriction that one must have eaten there UNDER THE CURRENT CHEF.I believe that strongly handicapped the Black Hoof this year.

          7 Replies
          1. re: estufarian

            The reason I put that restriction in is that I don't view this as a retrospective thing, and that's why I used the 2012 labelling, the point of doing this as a group is to build a list of recommendations for the coming year based on the group's collective recent experiences. In that context it makes no sense to include places that have already closed or already made major changes.

            1. re: bytepusher

              No problem - it's your list.
              But your #2 is way too high given your own rules as the chef changed in November.

              1. re: estufarian

                I've been to Enoteca at least 5 times since November. The menu, nor the quality of the food has changed greatly. It's as good now as the six previous months prior to that - and the exec chef changed, not the chef de cuisine. Also - I doubt most are aware there was a change.

                I don't know if the same holds true for the Hoof, as I only went there once (which was enough for me).

                1. re: justxpete

                  That's fair enough - for Enoteca.
                  But same situation at Hoof - Grant was effectively 'Executive' chef for many months before leaving. The chef de cuisine was essentially unchanged, yet the 'rules' in the original poll thread specified that one MUST have eaten at the Hoof after Grant left.
                  Just a 'sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander' issue.
                  All credit to anyone doing the work for something like this - just trying to point out that last year's winner seems to have been 'unfairly' handicapped by this year's rules - and I have no 'right' to specify the rules.
                  Oh, and I've had private emails from people that 'admit' they hadn't eaten at Enoteca Sociale after the chef change (including some who weren't aware of the rule!).

                  1. re: estufarian

                    Also fair enough - but if most of the voters haven't been there in a year, isn't that significant in of itself? (I believe Grant left early last year, did he not?)

                    I also think that rule was an amendment as the list grew (but not certain).

                    1. re: justxpete

                      No, the rule was in the original post.
                      And probably I've spent too much time on this,so I will no longer cause a distraction.
                      Let the winners celebrate.

                      1. re: justxpete

                        @jxp He announced his exit from BH in late August.

            2. thanks for all the effort you put in much appreciated.

              1. Great list, Buca needs more love though.

                2 Replies
                1. re: themiguel

                  Oh nuts, I blame the fact that I posted this before I had a coffee, Buca should have been on the list

                  1) Khao San Road-----------------------------------------22 votes
                  2) Enoteca Sociale-----------------------------------------17 votes
                  3) Marben-----------------------------------------------------11 votes
                  4,5,6) Woodlot, Splendido, Buca---------------------------------10 votes
                  7-11) with 8 votes each:
                  Harbord Room
                  Black Hoof
                  Burger's Priest
                  Pizzeria Libretto (Ossington)
                  Guu Izakaya (Church Street)

                  Thanks for the kick to double check the list

                  Hopefully the moderators will correct the original as I can no longer edit it

                2. Thanks for all the hard work bytepusher! Great run-down.

                  1. Excellent effort, great list. There are only 2 spots named that I've yet to try and they're now top of my "to do" list. Thanks bytepusher.

                    1. Thanks for the hard work.

                      My only complaint is the under-representation of Cantonese resto's. It's still the strongest cuisine in Toronto, imo. The first thing I would recommend to any visitor.

                      Then again, understandable, this board is white-centric.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: aser

                        i would love to eat at the cantonese spots. but they appear to all be way out in the burbs, and inaccessible w/o a car. so, for me, they may as well be on mars.

                        looked at that way, toronto (the city) appears to be surprisingly weak for chinese. if you know great cantonese spots that are TTC accessible i am by all means eager to hear about them!

                        1. re: autopi

                          I live in the burbs. I voted for Lee Garden on Spadina, just North of Dundas http://www.leegardenrestaurant.ca/ last year and would have included it in my top 10 this year (if I had voted.)

                          1. re: T Long

                            I voted for two Toronto Cantonese restaurants, at different ends of the price and style line: Lai Wah Heen is wonderful Cantonese, though high end, and Rol San is great for quick, crowded, noisy lunches on Spadina (great dim sum).

                        2. re: aser

                          For what it's worth, here are the votes for Chinese restaurants (not sure all of these strickly fit the Cantonese label)

                          Northern Dumpling Kitchen 5
                          O Mei 2
                          Win's Seafood 2
                          Lai Wah Heen 2
                          yang's 1
                          Brilliant 1
                          Casa Imperial 1
                          Casa Victoria 1
                          Emperor 1
                          Fishermen Clubhouse 1
                          Maple Yip 1
                          Spring Villa 1
                          Lai Toh Heen 1
                          Rol San 1
                          Very Fair Chinese Restaurant 1

                          I think that's everything but I may have missed a couple that did not have obvious names

                          Out of the 389 votes cast that's 22 votes given, so my read on that is that this isn't "vote splitting" it's general disinterest in this cuisine by this particular oddball community.

                          1. re: bytepusher

                            I voted for John's Chinese BBQ, which you didn't list.

                            I don't think the poll indicates general disinterest in Chinese food, it mostly indicates what restaurants are trendy or hipster heaven right now.

                            A lot of Chowhounds love dim sum, Indian food, shawarma, souvlaki, hot veal sandwiches, roti, steak, Ethiopian, goulash, bi bim bap, etc., but the restaurants serving the best of those foods are also undermentioned, apart from a random mention here or there. Doesn't mean the community is disinterested in those foods, it means most of the 38 or 39 people who responded to the thread were focused on the "it spots".

                            1. re: bytepusher

                              Your analysis is irrefutable, especially considering that 10 of those votes are coming from 1 person and Northern Dumpling not being Cantonese. Yes, the listings of the 39 individuals show that as a group, these are not Cantonese food lovers. Also enlightening considering the play this subject gets on this board. Food for thought!

                                1. re: T Long

                                  You expanded eloquently on what I felt, in words that are less inflammatory than "white-centric". I agree with you 100%, the board doesn't consider Cantonese restaurants to be top tier food in Toronto. Perhaps there's a "white guilt" factor in pointing this out, people become defensive.

                                  There is still good food on the list, not taking anything away from the ones that made the cut.

                                  1. re: aser

                                    This listing is a fun exercise, but we should not take this or ourselves too seriously. I chuckle though that this group has voted Northern Dumpling as the best Chinese Restaurant (by a wide margin too) in the GTA.

                                    1. re: T Long

                                      I don't think of NDK as the best Chinese restaurant -- I just really, really like dumplings. :)

                                    2. re: aser

                                      really?!?!? white guilt? are you kidding me??

                                2. re: aser

                                  In terms of Cantonese, maybe this board is "white-centric" for a reason. The owners of Chinese restaurants do a lot to make their food inaccessible to us white folk. For the most part, they shield us from the stuff they eat by writing menus in Cantonese. Moreover, they are sometimes dismissive when we ask. They likely think that what they offer in Cantonese will be offensive to their white customers. It would be nice to have the choice. Sorry if I generalize too much, as 'm sure there are many examples where the above doesn't happen.

                                  1. re: acd123

                                    Right, blame can be cast on both sides. Apathy by media/bloggers towards ethnic restaurants due to lack of hipster appeal. The restaurateurs being xenophobic, maintaining stereotypes. I for the life of me don't understand why O'mei choses to continue pushing their whitey menu to foreigners when their Chinese menu features some superb dishes.

                                    I wish I could say there's a definitive solution to this, alas.....

                                    1. re: acd123

                                      great point. I love Cantonese food but almost never go to these restauranrts without a Cantonese speaking DC, with very few exceptions like lobster 4 ways at OMei. that is why I always try to get the 'insider' posters here to tell me what exactly to order in these places, which interestingly almost never produces results (I even tried that on this year's top resto thread, and got no reply!)

                                  2. Thanks for this! I've been away for a year so didn't vote; most of these are new to me but from "what I hear" few seem to be "fine dining" - can any hounds help me decide where to start with trying new places I might like? I like calm, quiet, course by course places - not sceney/trendy $20-burger jumped-up cafes... (from this list I like Harbord Room and Cava, didn't so much like Black Hoof or Marben, haven't tried the others... also like Batifole which was at least mentioned, always found Chiado a bit dull)... any I should try?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: JToronto

                                      I liked my dinner this past week at Carisma. Classic Italian, attentive service, calm & quiet on a weeknight.

                                      For upscale Greek food, including dishes that aren't found on the Danforth, and the best grilled octopus I've found in Toronto, I recommend Volos. They are happy to seat you at a quieter table, if you make a request.

                                      If you haven't visited Scaramouche recently, it's still great. I like it more than a lot of the newer upscale restaurants I've visited.

                                      -----
                                      Carisma Restaurant
                                      73 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C 2V8, CA

                                      Estiatorio VOLOS
                                      133 Richmond Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2L3, CA

                                    2. I will revisit this list periodically throughout the year and update the status of the top 11 and the next 5

                                      So we do have one change already, #3 Marben, Chef Carl Heinriech has left the restaurant, he will be appearing on Top Chef Canada 2 (taped last year but not yet aired) and has announced he will be opening something else sometime this year. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader if you want to take this as a Top Chef 2 spoiler or not.

                                      1. Interesting that Thai food and Izakaya is accessible but cantonese is not :-) .. and that for $6 you can get a full pound of cantonese siu yuk crispy roast pork, not just a little sandwich.

                                        And before you judge, I'm a white guy from Scarborough, who likes great food and doesn't mind exploring new things, rather than sticking to old fears and stereotypes. Yes, I've found things I didn't like, but I've also found some ofthe best food and nicest people in restaurants that are cantonese, thai, sri-lankan, guyanese, vietnamese, pakistani, lebanese, korean, etc.

                                        Personally, I do not visit most of the restaurants on this year's list without a gluten-free hipster friend in cycling gear or an artisanal backyard farmer driving a hybrid SUV to translate for me :-)

                                        Ha! OK, I'm just pulling your chain, but get out and experiment, people, don't just follow the crowd and be safe, and especially don't wait 'til somebody glamourizes a traditional dish with a a fancy name and charges you 300% more for an inferior product before you try something new!