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Dating (and dining with!) a less adventurous eater

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Hey CHers!

So I figured it may be a good idea to get a list going (and please point me in the right direction if there already is one) - my SO is a meat and potatoes type of guy, while I'm more adventurous and love trying new things. He's gotten comfortable with Thai, and fortunately likes KSR and SukhoThai, but I find it very hard to think of places that will provide him with some "safer" options, and me with something a little more unique. I don't want to push him too far out of his comfort zone, so it'd be awesome if you could help me come up with a list of places so I don't have to wrack my brain for ideas every time we want to eat out.

I'll get things started with the few coming to mind immediately...I know that if I wanted just mediocre food, I'd have my pick of places (and chains!), but I'd like to aim a smidge higher!

Pizza Libretto
Sidecar

What are some other staples I can take him to?

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  1. enoteca sociale would be great

    1. haha I've definitely gone through this as well. Try:

      Marben
      Harbord Room
      Beast

      I think bistros are great too. They usually always have steak frites for the less adventerous and will often have more interesting plates as well

      4 Replies
      1. re: tygrr_lily

        thanks for the ideas - isn't Beast more head-to-tail dining?

        he does like steak, so as long as there's a couple of options that he can choose from, I won't feel terrible. The thing is, he'd prob go somewhere he hated just for me, and I'd much rather find a compromise with somewhere we'd both enjoy!

        Any more suggestions? I'm sure other people who've been in the same situation will find it handy!

        1. re: apple_pie

          Beast is head to tail, but they usually have a couple more conventional items too. Like the current menu has beef striploin, gnocchi, and duck confit which are all pretty friendly. I've gone with ppl that really liked it but would refuse to eat at Black Hoof

          The portions are also pretty big and heavy - very man friendly :).

          1. re: tygrr_lily

            Thanks for the input, I'd held back on trying it for that reason, but I think he can definitely find something to try, and who knows, maybe even be a bit adventurous!

            1. re: tygrr_lily

              big portions is good to know - i want to go there, but my husband is all about the biomass & hot sauce, less impressed by smaller amounts no matter how amazing...

        2. My first thought was Libretto...since it's where I went with my SO on our first date. Although- he can sometimes be an adventurous eater- he has all types of allergy (including peanuts, shellfish, and egg yolks), AND he's also a staunch meat and potatoes guy who's not big into sauces (see egg yolk allergy).

          Le Select is good option. Though- the frites in their steak frites are fried in peanut oil. so if you're working with a peanut allergy- then you're out of luck.

          What is also great is to share something both of you have never tried before. For us- that was peking duck. Brilliant in Markham does an amazing one. Chinese isn't very far out of most people's comfort zone.

          My guy also loves Korean bbq.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jinxie

            All great ideas - I also hadn't thought of Korean bbq, I'm sure that he'd enjoy that. Libretto is where I was thinking for this week.

          2. I've found Nota Bene, Globe Earth, Biff's, Jump, Carisma, Pan, Mezes, Folia Grill and Le Select (seconding Le Select) work well with plainer palates.

            1 Reply
            1. re: prima

              Second this answer. I was going to say "any restaurant in the Oliver-Bonacini group" and you listed 2 of them (so I'll add in Auberge du Pommier and Canoe).

            2. If I may, I think you may be taking the wrong tack. Instead of limiting yourself to very specific places to go, try thinking about the very few places you definitely can't go.

              While you may be unable to omakase at a Japanese restaurant, there are cooked alternatives that will likely appeal to him and sushi dinners for you. Indian may be too strong for him now, but a tandoori chicken and well made pullao are almost always welcome. And c'mon, who doesn't like a samosa?

              It sounds to me like the differences between you and your SO will be won over the more you share together. Who knows? You may find a meat and potatoes place that appeals to you. Now you go out there and be adventurous right alongside of him!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Googs

                I agree with this... my parents took us everywhere when we were kids and there was usually an option that worked.. quite often rice and meat (teriyaki, tandoori, etc).
                However I do understand about trying to find common ground. something that excites you both. My husband will eat most things but in the end, still prefers the pub. I always liked beer but it became our common interest and I developed much more of an appreciation for it. After 10 years together I am getting pretty sick of pub food, but I still love beer! Is this an interest you could possibly develop together?

                1. re: Googs

                  My boyfriend is pretty picky and we manage at Japanese restaurants. He doesn't like fish (raw or otherwise) but will eat the cooked dishes and some of the veggie rolls. As long as there are a few "safe" options, you'll be fine -- and he may get comfortable enough to branch out once in a while.

                  1. re: Googs

                    Good point :) I think you're right, in most case there must be something he'd like, and maybe he'll even try something new with me

                  2. I always found Greek to be a great intro for fussy eaters (as it's pretty "meat and potatoes" in nature to begin with). I like Messini on Danforth. Been reading some interesting stuff on here about Folia Grill.

                    1. La Tournesol might suit you both. It has a prix fix @ $29 .Dupont half way between Spadina & Bathurst on the North side. It is small, quite romantic and can accomodate a meat & potatoes, plus a little more adventurous taste.

                      1. thanks for all the great suggestions everyone! I'll keep checking this thread whenever I'm stumped about where to eat!

                        1. My mom is a picky eater, so I usually pick a french bistro like Le Select. Anything with steak frites and a basic salad is usually "safe".

                          1. having been married to your SO's twin for 19 years, I sympathise! I agree that Japanese is usually safe, steak houses and the like of course, french, italian, some asian, some indian, most bistros, and many of the mainstays in Toronto (North 44, Scaramouche, etc. which are more $$, and perhaps not as adventurous, but generally good food).

                            If in doubt, scan the menu if possible in advance (online, walking by a window etc) and see if there is a 'safe' option (I can pick out my husband's choice before he walks in the door).

                            Greek has been iffy for me, but kudos to those who have had success! Spanish/portuguese are possibilities as well (there is a great portuguese restaurant, Adega, on Elm that has lots of meat as well as fish options (something else hub wont eat).

                            Pub options have not fared well for us (is that natchos and beer pub or steak and kidney pie pub?).

                            We both would like to try Eigensenn's Farm and Ortelon, among others, but it is silly to fork out money for food that only one of you will eat. I just need a spy for the daily menu at Ortelon so that we can go when there is an acceptable option for him available. Statlander is unlikely to email me advance menus so that I can pick and choose.

                            Good luck! It can be done!

                            1. Enoteca Sociale is my fave Italian restaurant...he'd prob be okay with a simple pasta. It's a great date restaurant, and they have a patio now. The food is AMAZING. But it gets busy. Make a reservation!

                              1. Pizzeria Via Mercanti in Kensington is yummy too. :)

                                1. Given how many places have menus online, I would think it relatively simple to hand him a menu and say "Hey, I'd love to try this place, does anything on the menu look good to you?" And if he can find something "safe" on there, give it a go.