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Need to impress a VIP client from Las Vegas - recommendations?

I'm taking a client who oversees events for one of the largest casinos/hotels/restos to dinner. He's a vegetarian, doesn't want anything pretentious, wants something that has a good vibe, delicious food and feels like Toronto (i.e. something that he wouldn't find in LV).

I was thinking Susur, but they're pretty booked up. I've got possible reservations at Scarpetta (but think this may lack the vibe I'm looking for and have never eaten there).

Any recommendations?

UPDATE: I need to book on a Monday - love the suggestions so far, but all but one are closed on a Monday.

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  1. Scarpetta has a location in Vegas, that won't impress.

    Maybe woodlot? They have a veg menu and to me read very Toronto and won't read pretentious.

    Or L.A.B. Vegetarian chef and something a little different.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bytepusher

      I agree with Woodlot. Or Enoteca Sociale. Both have good food, good veggie options, a fun local vibe and relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere.

      1. As a Montreal vegetarian food snob my vote goes to L.A.B.

        1. Haven't been yet but another possibility is Ruby Watch Co. except for it's location.

          1. Thanks for the suggestions so far! To add complexity to the mix, the dinner is planned for Monday night and most of the restaurants mentioned are closed. Sigh*

            4 Replies
            1. re: ready2spark

              Yours truly on ossington & dundas, veg tasting menu. Something more extravagent? Splendido. Call ahead and they'll arrange a veg tasting menu.

                1. re: ready2spark

                  I understand Cafe 668 (I think) at the corner of dundas and claremont to be an excellent veggie resto.

                  1. re: ready2spark

                    Enoteca is open on Mondays! But it's not as veg-centric. Just good food. Very relaxed. Nice wines on the Enomatic (usually a few interesting bottles on there). Bustling, but conversation-able.

                    Splendido is fancy-pants, but it can be a bit over the top if your visitor is looking for not-vegas and more local. That being said, Splendido's veg dishes have always been fantastic and/or the star of the night. Desserts are super strong these days as well. Fairly quiet, also conversation-able.

                    Acadia might be an option (the right vibe, interesting/localish food) - though you'd have to call ahead to see if they can do vegetarian (depending on what kinda veggie guy he is). Loud at peak times. Reservations are hard.

                    1. What about an Indian or Ethiopian restaurant? You'd have plenty of options, even on a Monday night.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ggom1

                        I get to Las Vegas often enough to know that the best half-dozen Italian restos in Toronto are, overall, better than the best half-dozen Italian joints in Las Vegas. The top one or two in Las Vegas are very, very good and quite over the top (and expensive). But there's nothing Italian in Las Vegas, that I'm aware of, quite like the comparatively low-key and imaginative, if somewhat noisy, Enoteca Sociale. If they don't already have a veggie entree or two on the menu, I'm sure the versatile kitchen could put together a veggie dinner for your guest. Las Vegas is also rather weak on Middle East restos, which suggests your guest might be intrigued by Tabule, on Yonge St. south of Eglinton, and/or Jerusalem, on Eglinton Ave. west of Bathurst St., both solid examples of Middle East cuisine, with plenty of veggie choices. I don't know L.A.B., except by (its very good) reputation.

                      2. Just the perspective from someone who is a non-meat eater (I'm a pescatarian). While the option of having the kitchen put together a vegetarian option works on some occasions for me, as a rule, it is preferable to get to choose from a menu that has multiple options. Sometimes I just don't feel like eating what even a very capable chef would conjure up ... it would kind of be like a meat eater going to a restaurant and only have one item on the menu that they could eat. So you may want to consider restaurants that typically have lots of options for non-meat eaters, and in my dining experience, Italian is one of the most versatile for this.

                        LAB would ordinarily be my rec on this, but unfortunately it is closed on Monday. L'Unita may be a good alternative, the room has a nice ambiance and if you're inclined, it has a nice selection of local wines too. And while it may not be "avant-garde", the pasta bar at Scaramouche has nice ambiance and a great view of the city,

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CocoTO

                          CocoTO, FWIW I think your suggestions are spot on.

                        2. I like the idea of Enoteca, call way ahead of time if you have it and ask about the possibility of a vegetarian tasting menu with matching wines.

                          That kind of buzzy unpretentious local spot is exactly what LV can't really duplicate.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: childofthestorm

                            I go to Vegas quite a bit. If your client likes Japanese, wouldn't Kaji be the place that he/she would not be able to get at home? That should impress.
                            I have never gone myself. But based on the reviews on this board, wouldn't omakase at Kaji be something that would impress a foodie? In vegas, your client would have access to Joel Robuchon, Scarpetta, Bouchon, and all the fancy 'American'/ French fine dining usual suspects. If I had someone to impress who is adventurous, I would take them to fine dining Japanese or Chinese. Or maybe Canoe - something that they would not have access to in LV.

                            1. re: caitlink

                              great restaurant -- sadly closed on Monday. Plus if the client is a true vegetarian, he won't eat fish, which really limits things there ...

                              1. re: CocoTO

                                Take him to Jerusalem on Eglinton for the most unpretentious envirornment and the most tasty Middle Eastern food he`ll ever have (and tons of vegomatic options there) and then to the Park Hyatt rooftop bar fancy schmantzy drinks to top off the evening.

                          2. To say Jerusalem is the "...the most tasty Middle Eastern he'll ever have..." would be an insult to Middle Eastern cuisine.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: radiopolitic

                              Not in my books. I've never tasted better and I've tried it all over the world.

                              1. re: Flexitarian

                                Don't get me wrong here - Jerusalem is a serviceable restaurant but such blanket statements are ridiculous.

                                There's better Middle Eastern in many cities across North America and definitely better Middle Eastern in the Middle East.

                                1. re: radiopolitic

                                  I see. I guess your blanket statement is not ridiculous then, lol.

                                  1. re: Flexitarian

                                    It's a simple matter of geography and ingredient quality. A lone restaurant on Eglinton in Toronto isn't going to even compare to the best the Middle East itself has to offer for food from that region. It would be absurd to think otherwise.

                                    I've eaten at Jerusalem quite a few times and it isn't bad but it certainly isn't anywhere near the best in the world. They offer very pedestrian Levantine food - limited selection and muted flavours.

                                    1. re: radiopolitic

                                      Well you included North America in that too which doesn't have geography going for it so your argument falls flat. Anyway, I disagree. Jerusalem has some of the best Middle Eastern food you are ever going to taste, and it's not pedestrian nor has muted flavours.

                                      We don't have to agree and that's what's great about Chowhound. We all have our opinions.

                                      1. re: Flexitarian

                                        I like the food at Jerusalem, too. Especially the fried eggplant and fried tomatoes.

                                        1. re: Flexitarian

                                          I've not personally been to the middle east, but have been to both Jerusalem and Tabule. I think Tabule wins, hands down - so I'm extremely skeptical that Jerusalem has the best middle eastern food in the world, when, IMO, it's not even the best in TO. My apologies, but that's an absurd statement. My SO has travelled extensively to the middle east, and to her, Jerusalem is no comparison to the food in the middle east, by any means.

                              2. Origin or Colborne Lane are another two options for you.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: thebutcher

                                  The OP's client asked for unpretentious.

                                  1. re: Googs

                                    Neither of those restaurants are pretentious by any means. If you want pretentious, go to Canoe or One.

                                2. fressen on queen west is my vegan go to place

                                  1. If you are willing to spend $300 per person to impress this VIP, then Hashimoto's kaiseki (Japanese fine cusine) restaurant is excellent: he won't find it in LV (Raku Grill's kaiseki does not compare); the food is sublime; it's a unique experience that allows you to develop an intimate business relationship (only a dozen customers when full); it is not pretentious; and you can request vegetarian when they ask you for food preferences and allergies. Depends on what your events/banquet manager VIP wants in a "vibe" and "feel like TO", of course. But having been involved in opening a few large hotels (that host conventions, events and banquets) in a past life, that's where I'd consider taking him. People in such jobs tend to be overdosed with the glitz and vibe of hotel and event life -- and so they appreciate the opposite to get away from it at times. Note that Hashimoto's requires advance booking of a week, at least. Not sure if they're open on Monday, but they once opened the restaurant for only the two of us in the middle of a bad snow storm.
                                    http://www.kaiseki.ca/english/

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Tony N.

                                      Japanese Vegetarian ( shojin ryori) is amazing stuff, no fish, but Kaji is closed and Hashimoto unlikely. Hey, for unpretentious, it's hard to beat Guu Izakaya on Church Street. Just have to line up at 5:00 pm to get in. Lots of small dishes, although many are, sadly, fish-based. Still, plenty of salad, eggplant, natto, tofu, noodles, etc.

                                      hey, it's MONDAY! Let us know waht you decided. And for Middle Eastern, the Paramount on Yonge across from the Eaton Centre is extensively vegetarian, and SOME Chowhaounds, myself included, think it's GREAT!

                                      1. re: KAYLO

                                        The website says Hashimoto is open.

                                        1. re: KAYLO

                                          Kaylo, there are one or two Izakayas in Vegas. I would ask you to explain why you feel Hashimoto is "unlikely" but the OP doesn't personally prefer Japanese. Hashimoto, though, isn't typical Japanese restaurant cuisine or environment..

                                          iMarilyn, you're right.

                                      2. I read your "non-pretentious, good vibe and feels like Toronto" criteria to mean a bit more cozy and casual, with a vibe that he wouldn't find in Vegas. I agree that Scaramouche and Splendido are great, and Splendido in particular has wowed me with their vegetable preparations, but LV is filled with high-end restaurants. I also don't find those restaurants to have a real "vibe" to them.

                                        It would be helpful to know if your vegetarian client eats fish or not. If not, I'm sticking with my original recommenation for Enoteca Sociale - I've been there with vegetarians on two occasions and had loads to tempt us off the main menu. Here's a link to the current menu with a number of interesting strictly vegetarian dishes (eg. rutabaga mezzaluna with pickled black trumpet mushrooms and lemon maple butter), a handful more that could easily be converted to vegetarian and even more if fish and seafood are part of his repertoire.

                                        If fish and seafood are in the mix, then I agree that Guu (original location) would also be a great option.

                                        Both are open on Mondays. Will be curious to know where you end up and what your guest's impressions were so please report back.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: peppermint pate

                                          CocoTO's suggestion was for Scaramouche Pasta Bar, not Scaramouche proper. Totally different vibe. Not disputing your ES recommendation. Just putting a finer point on the Scaramouche discussion.

                                          1. re: Googs

                                            Point taken. And don't get me wrong, I like the Pasta Bar (prefer it to the main dining room). But I personally wouldn't classify it as a place with a "good vibe", which I suppose could mean different things to different people - to me, it reads as a buzzier and perhaps more youthful energy than the Pasta Bar. Same with the desire to feel a local flavour and be distinct from the myriad of LV eateries - again, the skyline view is admittedly great at Scaramouche but in my view, it's not as distinct from the higher end spots in Vegas as some place like Enoteca Sociale or Guu.

                                            1. re: peppermint pate

                                              Agree with both Googs and pp ... way prefer the pasta bar to the restaurant proper at Scaramouche ... but I will push back and say that while not "avante-garde", it definitely has a vibe (perhaps different from "buzz") and when I was there a few weeks ago it had a real mix of people and ages. All is moot, however, as it seems the OP has made his choice

                                        2. Thank you everyone for your recommendations!! I really appreciate the help. Given that Enoteca was fully booked and Woodlot, L.A.B. and a few others were closed Monday and I'm personally not a fan of Japanese, I've gone with Origin. I have been there before and the food/atmosphere was good. I would have loved to go to Enoteca - it'll be on my hot list moving forward, given all of the great reviews. Thank you all once again!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ready2spark

                                            FYI, Enoteca and Woodlot reserve a few (communal) tables and the bar seats for walk-ins. If you're open to this kind of a seating arrangement, and go early enough, you'll definitely get a spot or if you go anytime, and don't mind a glass of wine first, you'll get in as well - likely without that big a wait on a Monday night. I like Origin but I think all of the other spots you mention are closer to your VIP's stated preferences. But have fun and eat well wherever!