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Best Toronto fine dining with tasting menu AND a view and/or great service/decor

For a Saturday evening in mid-March, celebrating a major milestone birthday with 5-6 family members who are extremely worldly adventurous eaters who prioritize phenomenal food quality, but also appreciate refined atmosphere, a spectacular view from a high floor (or of the lake), professional service akin to American fine dining standards, etc. Either a tasting menu or chef's table OR amazing a la carte (mains over $40). One person is allergic to shellfish but everyone is willing to do the same tasting menu otherwise. If tasting menu is unavailable, the mains should be more varied than the usual steak.

Debating among: Stock (view), Toca, Scaramouche (view), Splendido, Hashimoto at JCCC (if they can accommodate the seafood allergy), or even Opus or C5. Can't consider Canoe due to Saturday restriction, and not interested in revisiting Colborne Lane primarily because it doesn't fit the "fine dining in refined atmosphere or with view" requirement. And Kaji is just too close to home and probably too seafood-dominant.

Unfortunately, we can't leave Toronto to visit Langdon Hall, Eigensinn Farm, winery restos, etc. The restaurant must be within 30 minute drive of downtown.

Please help narrow the choice!
http://www.stockrestaurant.com/home
http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Propert...
http://splendido.ca/menus/
http://www.opusrestaurant.com/TheMenu...
http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com/...
http://www.kaiseki.ca/english/compone...

A place that includes amuse bouche, sorbet, petits fours or other "gifts" from the chef, offers foie gras (not the usual pan seared or terrine), fresh truffles, or other hard-to-find or exotic ingredients, and showcases a composed, complex cooking style (versus simple grilling, for instance) would be a bonus. Good champagne also welcome.

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  1. Scaramouche, Splendido or Auberge du Pommier are going to be your best options. I would cancel C5, Opus and ToCa from that list. Stock will probably need more time to become polished.

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Macallan 18

      Thanks!
      http://www.oliverbonacini.com/OliverB...
      Auberge du Pommier menu.

      What did you eat at Scaramouche, Splendido, and Auberge under their current chefs that you found outstanding? Do any of those 3 have a chef's table or tasting menu?

      And what is "wrong" with Opus specifically? (I have only been there for dessert).

    2. I think you should consider 'George' as well!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Charles Yu

        Thanks Charles, but when I went to George a year ago, it was less than impressive.

        Are there any other brand new or newer fine dining restaurants I haven't listed that are also worth considering?

        1. re: Food Tourist

          I was also less than impressed with George, despite all the hype. Was highly disappointed. Tried it twice, same result.

      2. Scratch Toca. It's horrible. I would concentrate on Splendido or Scaramouche - But I'm not certain how Splendido fits your "spectacular view" requirement (as Scaramouche does).

        Splendido has seasonal tasting menus, I'm not certain whether Scaramouche currently does. I think they're currently featuring Lobsterlicious, although it may be over by now. Splendido has much better food (although some may disagree to some extent), but Scaramouche has a much better view (although the decor is significantly dated).

        I've also heard that Auberge is worth a visit since their new Chef took over, but have not been as yet (although, I do not believe they have an outstanding view, either).

        C5 is passable and confusing, and features mostly mediocre dishes. It's akin to a high-end cafeteria. The culinary skill just isn't there - although it does have a great view.

        Opus and Stock I've not been to, so cannot comment as such.

        "A place that includes amuse bouche, sorbet, petits fours or other "gifts" from the chef, offers foie gras (not the usual pan seared or terrine), fresh truffles, or other hard-to-find or exotic ingredients, and showcases a composed, complex cooking style (versus simple grilling, for instance) would be a bonus. Good champagne also welcome."

        - Splendido does all of this very well, but they currently aren't serving any petit fours. OTH, if you make any special requests, they are often able to accommodate in most instances.

        Also, here's a link to their currently offered winter game menu:

        http://splendido.ca/menus/menu_winter...

        5 Replies
        1. re: justxpete

          re: Scaramouche I believe Lobsterlicious is still running, but it's only available Mon-Thu, and the OP mentions a Saturday. http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com/...

          re: C5 I had lunch at C5 last week, and found the food to be tastier than I remember on previous visits. Corbin might have something to do with this improvement, or if I might have ordered the right thing (their chicken pot pie) on the right day.

          I agree with justpete that C5 isn't in the same league as Scaramouche or Splendido, but the lunch I ordered was certainly better than passable or mediocre. As far as I understand, C5 is only open for lunch and special events these days, so the venue might not work for the OP's group.

          Maybe Mistura would work for the group? No view, but good food and good service.

          -----
          Mistura
          265 Davenport Rd, Toronto, ON M5R1J9, CA

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

          1. re: prima

            We've been to C5 twice in recent months, and were let down both times - although, the service on one occasion was impeccable - we both remarked that the service was far better than the food. Last time, I had the Cornmeal crusted chicken sandwich, and it was almost inedible. The chicken was dry and the cornmeal was tasteless. It was under-seasoned, and over-all, a very mediocre "dish". The SO had the vegetable cassoule, the veggies weren't cooked properly, and was also not seasoned properly. When you miss basic things like that consistently, it indicates to me that the kitchen probably isn't tasting food before it goes out. But, perhaps we've been unlucky, and you were fortunate - but I would hesitate visiting C5 on yet another occasion.

            1. re: justxpete

              That sounds awful. I would hesitate to return if those had been my experiences, too. Guess C5 is hit or miss. Hopefully someone in the kitchen reads Chowhound, and will start taste-checking the food before sending it out.

              1. re: justxpete

                Is C5 still opening for dinner? Their website mentions only Lunch and only shows a Lunch menu??

                1. re: ParkerQ

                  No, I believe someone else mentioned that they're lunch only (which I wasn't aware of).

          2. Don’t think you can achieve everything on your list, so need to prioritize.

            If the view is important, then Scaramouche is easily the best bet – except the best views are from the two-person tables by the window. For a 6-top you’ll probably be on the 3rd ‘tier’ up – still a good view, but over the heads of the smaller parties on the lower tiers.

            For food, Splendido and Opus are way above the others (both have excellent service) – view at Opus exists, but I wouldn’t go there for that.
            Splendido has a seasonal tasting menu – Opus doesn’t do a ‘formal’ tasting menu, but will do one ‘with prior request’.

            C5 is now closed for dinner.

            Toca was unexciting. Stock menu is so ‘standard’ it looks boring – probably won’t even try.

            Haven’t tried Hashimoto in its current location, but found the old one was almost entirely fish and vegetables.

            George has been ‘up-and-down’ – again would pass (unless summer when the courtyard is spectacular).

            1. From your list the only place that stands out IMO is Splendido. If you call in advance and have a conversation about what you're looking for, I'm sure they would fit the bill.

              1. Okay, I made a reservation at Scaramouche for 6 people but they couldn't give us the lower window level on either night I requested more than a month in advance. The menu looks fairly "safe". Is there a menu item that stands out as amazing or uniquely delicious and memorable?
                http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com/...

                7 Replies
                1. re: Food Tourist

                  I would only go to Scaramouche over Splendido if the view is *much* more important than the food - otherwise you're making a mistake.

                  1. re: justxpete

                    I dined at Splendido a couple of months before Splendido changed owners when Nota Bene opened. It was a 8/10 at best. Has it improved with the new owner/management?

                    1. re: Food Tourist

                      Dramatically. Less stuffy, better food. Pay a visit in the interim and judge for yourself. If I want to impress anyone with food in Toronto, I always take them to Splendido. It hasn't failed me yet.

                  2. re: Food Tourist

                    I don't think there are any 6-top tables on the lower window level. When I've dined there, usually groups are seated further from the windows, and most of the lower window seats are reserved for couples.

                    I like their seafood. The descriptions might sound conservative, but I've found the food to be very flavourful and interesting. I didn't try Scaramouche until a few years ago, because I thought the menu seemed plain and a little boring, but once I tried it, I kicked myself for not giving it a try sooner.

                    If I was dining there in the near future, I'd try the Dungeness crab ravioli, the lobster or the partridge.

                    My friends that like coconut cream pie love the Scaramouche version. Lots of posts on this Board re: that pie. I prefer their seasonal desserts.

                    suggestions at Scaramouche thread:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778866

                    recent Scaramouche thread:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/830045

                    1. re: Food Tourist

                      "by the window" tables at Scaramouche are 2's and 4's. There isn't enough room for a 6 by the window the way the floor plan works.

                      And I have always had the opposite experience to JustPete's :) I much prefer Scaramouche to Splendido

                      1. re: CocoaChanel

                        The hostess said she could put those 2-tops together to make a 6-top BUT that they were all "promised" (already reserved) on the two nights I was requesting.

                        1. re: Food Tourist

                          Interesting - thanks :)
                          Mr. Vuitton and I were at a 2-top and the space looked like it would have been very tight for a 6 (just given configuration)

                    2. My food friend Kitchen Therapy went to Splendido for a Christmas season dinner with her hubby after Nutcracker. I got the whole story last night. They were underwhelmed. Basically, their main criticism was that all the food and dessert were unfortunately, "overwrought". Too much going on, not enough complementarity on a single plate, e.g frozen nougat dessert with too much else added (mini meringue kisses, cocoa cream); grape granita and toffee crunch on another dessert didn't make any sense. They also had a socially inept server but that wasn't a primary complaint.

                      Is the champagne cart a thing of the past ownership?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Food Tourist

                        Champagne cart was from David Lee era of Splendido, IIRC!

                        1. re: Food Tourist

                          Those are more a pastry chef's dessert as opposed to a Chef's dessert. It introduces some of the complexity of savoury in to sweet. Not everyone is able to appreciate it.

                          Champagne cart ended with the change of ownership.

                          1. re: justxpete

                            I have also been to splendido a few times over the past 6 months and I did have a dessert with the granita and toffee, which was actually carmailzed white chocolate. I loved it myself. And speaking of desserts I have ate at numerous restaurants in TO, and none as far as fine dining even come close to what splendido has going on. And as far as desserts I would say their desserts are the most complex in the city as well as the best visually plated desserts in the city.

                          1. re: prima

                            Scaramouche was very good. Good overall service. At first they seated us in the furthest corner from a view; when I gently complained, they immediately and graciously moved us to our previously-promised table on the upper level closest to the windows. The lower level by the windows could certainly accommodate a table for 4, maybe even 5.

                            There was a cod brandade amuse bouche, though the server placed the wrong amuse in front of my BIL who is deathly allergic to seafood. Luckily, I noticed and had them correct it in time.

                            Wine/champagne was good, as expected. Got a Billecart-Salmon rose champagne and a burgundy grand cru I think. Food was very good, though not always excellent. My truffle and fennel salad had a very generous amount of tasty black perigord truffle slices. My partridge with foie gras main was lovely. Mom's foie gras terrine seemed to lack taste though the small amount of duck with it was delicious. Dad very much enjoyed his spicy asian steelhead salmon. The daily soup was beluga lentil. Dad's half-size pasta with truffles was also very tasty.

                            All in all, we were very pleased and would return to eat there in a heartbeat! No, the view wasn't much, especially on a foggy/cloudy night, but we certainly could see the Four Seasons old hotel, the CN Tower, etc. We were amazed by the effect of descending into a restaurant from the ground floor and yet having a high view!

                            Sadly, there were no mignardises or gifts from the chef. For dessert, we shared some coconut cream pie on puff pastry crust (huge and rich) and the new dessert menu's chocolate cremeux with roasted cashew ice cream which was perfectly delicious. Apparently, they had just launched the new dessert menu that day. The matching Maury dessert red wine was a perfect complement. http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com/...

                            1. re: Food Tourist

                              It is lowerig that this is the best our "world-class" city could offer, as what FoodTOursit sought is widely available in any other city in the world...and in many remote backwaters as well. In his prime, I could always depend on Susur to knock the socks off my most sophisticated visitors, but as I watched this thread I kept thinking that I had absolutely nothing to add. ANd elsewhere in the past three months, I've had several meals that would have met all of the criteria and then some. BUt , sad to say, none in TOronto.

                              1. re: KAYLO

                                Scaramouche doesn't offer the best food in Toronto - not by a long shot. Splendido does. Just doesn't have "the view".

                                1. re: justxpete

                                  While I believe Splendido might serve the best scallops, continental-style seared tuna and passionfruit genoise in town, the monkfish they served me last week was beautifully plated but overcooked! ;-) The hen of the woods mushrooms were beautifully plated, and the dish was interesting conceptually, but not especially tasty (to me).

                                  I realize you mentioned before that you order beef and chicken the most frequently at Splendido. Maybe I should've ordered beef or chicken, but I wasn't in the mood for beef or chicken that night.

                                  Splendido gets my vote for most interesting continental fine dining in TO, but Scaramouche gets my current vote for tastiest continental fine dining and best service.

                                  Based on all the recs on this board, I'm guessing Splendido is probably the best fine dining restaurant for beef and chicken in TO.

                                  Our service was good at Splendido, but not great.

                                  After reading many reports and comments on Chowhound and other forums, and after talking to some friends who have had very good experiences at Splendido, I get the impression Splendido takes care of its regulars. Which is great if you're a regular, but not always so great if it's your first visit. I've only visited Scaramouche a handful of times, but they've always made me feel very welcome. While our servers at Splendido were courteous, I didn't get the same feeling at Splendido.

                                  I don't think any one restaurant in Toronto serves "the best food" in Toronto.

                                  YMMV

                                  1. re: prima

                                    What did you find lacking of the service, out of curiosity? And you're right, I'm not able to assess the 'normal' service objectively, because I am treated a bit differently (as any other restaurant treats their own regulars).

                                    Even though I predominantly order beef of chicken for my mains, my SO does not - and we typically have a couple appetizers as well, and share often - so I dont think it's the best resto for beef and chicken solely, I think it's the best restaurant all around. They've also ramped up their game of late, striving to be the best restaurant in Canada and introducing various complexities and cooking techniques to their dishes. Charles Yu's thread re: Riesling dinner is a good representation of that (see pics).

                                    I find the decor at Scaramouche fairly dated, and I think the food is good, just not great, while I find the opposite at Splendido. I also find the service at Scaramouche to be unremarkable - neither exceptionally good nor bad. However, admittedly, I've not been to Scaramouche in quite a while, so perhaps it's time for another visit.

                                    1. re: justxpete

                                      I don't think it's possible to assess service objectively, beyond whether the server got the order right, removed from the right, decrumbed the table (or not), etc.

                                      What was lacking was the server making us feel completely welcome. The service felt a little cold. Maybe I eat in too many Italian restaurants, where I've become accustomed to warmer service with more smiles. While being warm to the clients is not a server's duty, I think it's a nice touch. There was a very minor service glitch (completely forgiveable- mistakes happen) that a coffee that was ordered at the outset of the meal never was brought to the table during the first 2 courses. My friend waited patiently, expecting the coffee to arrive at some point. When the server was politely reminded of the coffee order, when the rest of us were ordering coffee with dessert, it seemed the order was news to him.

                                      We experienced good service, it just wasn't exceptional service.

                                      I agree that the decor is dated at Scaramouche. I prefer the decor at Splendido.

                                      Maybe I've just been lucky with service at Scaramouche.

                                      If you revisit, I hope you experience very good service at Scaramouche. I would think service at both restaurants varies, depending on day and server.

                                      This is just an observation, but it seems that a number of posters who rank Splendido ahead of Scaramouche (or rank Splendido as #1) are usually male, and the few posters who rank Scaramouche ahead of Splendido are usually female. Maybe Splendido serves dishes that tend to generally wow men more than similar dishes might at Scaramouche. Maybe the service style at Splendido is the type of service men appreciate more, and the service style at Scaramouche is the type some women appreciate more? Maybe the service style given varies at each restaurant depending on the client? The service has seemed more old school/charming when I've dined at Scaramouche. The atmosphere seems a little stuffy, but I've been impressed on my visits that the service hasn't been stuffy.

                                2. re: KAYLO

                                  OK I'll bite.
                                  Where were those places in the past 3 months.
                                  I've had a couple of great meals (and Splendido qualifies on that point) - but none with great views.

                                  1. re: KAYLO

                                    I fully agree. We have restaurants in Toronto with fantastic food but so-so service and decor. Acadia's food (like the rainbow trout main course) in a Scaramouche atmosphere - now that would be a great fusion! In everyone's haste to downscale fancy restaurants in Toronto, we lost a lot more than tablecloths and sorbet palate-cleansers! Why do we put up with good restaurants only serving simple (e.g grilled) food? What happened to complex, composed dishes with exotic ingredients that create a memorable WOW food experience AND with attentive service and classy atmosphere?

                                    By the way, my Dad ordered a 3 cheese platter which never arrived. When we reminded the server and cancelled the order, he apologized and then brought a comp 1 cheese platter anyway just so Dad could at least try the goat/sheep/cow cheese.

                                    Also, re decor/atmosphere at Scaramouche: we found it lovely and not dated. The pasta bar being right beside the main restaurant creates a nice buzz and overall relaxed feel.

                                  2. re: Food Tourist

                                    Happy to hear it was a good experience. Thanks for the detailed report.

                                    I haven't received mignardises or gifts from the Chef at Scaramouche when I've dined there, either.

                                    1. re: prima

                                      Does any restaurant in the GTA offer those little "extras" like palate cleansers, mignardises, a round of free drinks (or refills on wine pairings), etc.? Has anyone eaten at Auberge du Pommier or Canoe recently and do they offer anything (food, decor, service, etc.) better than Scaramouche for instance?

                                      1. re: Food Tourist

                                        I've eaten at Auberge twice in the last few months and have had the following extras: amuse, mignardises (macarons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/6... ). No intermezzos, that I've experienced. Dessert has been good, mains have been decent-to-good. Plating has been quite well-done. I've always like Auberge's decor and the service has been as expected for fine-dining.

                                        I did have a gripe with their tea service. Some of their teas are loose-leaf, but others are bagged. Now, I have no issue with bagged, but... Higgins & Burke? Really? I know Luma has nicer bagged earl grey, so I'm not sure why low-grade H&B was being served... They tell me (I emailed them - it bothered me that much) they're looking to replace that.

                                        1. re: jlunar

                                          Nice photo!

                                          You know, most adults don't know or don't care what's trendy or popular right now. They want old-school service, decor, tablecloths, warmth/romance or atmosphere to impress corporate clients, and world-class food and wine. I realize that most restaurant owners in Toronto are trying to make a decent reliable living but does everyone have to downgrade so drastically in an effort to stay alive and make a profit?

                                          1. re: jlunar

                                            Good to know Auberge has been serving mignardises.

                                            Has anyone seen mignardises anywhere else in Toronto recently?

                                            1. re: prima

                                              Jacob's & Co., Splendido, Ici Bistro.

                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                Thanks.

                                                Do the mignardises usually come with Splendido's tasting menu, rather than the a la carte menu? Or does Splendido also sometimes provide mignardises to people who order a la carte?

                                                We received wrapped, take-home shortbreads, but we didn't receive any mignardises.

                                                1. re: prima

                                                  I've had three different mignardises over the last few weeks, macaroons last week, strawberry gelee this week, and a grape gelee three weeks ago. Rumor has it, French macarons will be next. They come with all dinners, including the short bread cookies. They may not have been doing the mignardises when you were there. Its a relatively new (old) thing.

                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                    Thanks, justxpete. Their recent mignardises sound interesting.

                                          2. re: Food Tourist

                                            Frank's kitchen does offer extras but I'm not a fan of that place.