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need hip, trendy, delicious resto recommendations please

d
daniz Mar 22, 2012 02:44 PM

Can anyone recommend dining options for me and my husband on a Saturday and Sunday night in TORONTO? We will be in town for a quick anniversary getaway and are looking for some hip, trendy options. Cuisine genre is open. We love it all. Atmosphere- love a busy, loud, sexy vibe and definitely love great food.

Price doesn't matter, but prefer a downtown NY crowd over an uptown NY crowd any day. We are in our early 30s and also love a few cocktails, too!

Thanks!

  1. t
    TeacherFoodie Mar 22, 2012 02:56 PM

    Buca is very good. The bread knots are so delicious. Try the deep fried pig's ears if they have them. Their pizzas are good as well. I had the bigoli (duck pasta) and friends had the rissotto (you have to order for two) and everyone loved their food. It's a very trendy place in Toronto and it's definitely loud in there!

    If you do go, it's a bit strange to get to, as you have to walk down an alley, so be sure to have good directions!

    1. b
      bytepusher Mar 22, 2012 03:17 PM

      The Downtown restaurant scene mostly skews the direction you are after with the obvious exceptions of the hotel restos like TOCA and $tock and a few fine dining places like Nota Bene.

      +1 for Buca or Gusto 101 around the corner from it, the Black Hoof and it's affiliated Cocktail Bar across the street. Grand Electric if you don't mind lining up, Keriwa, Parts & Labour (gets mixed reviews here but has always worked for me), Enoteca Sociale, Woodlot, Campagnolo. All the usual suspects that get discussed here a lot are mostly going to fit what you want.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bytepusher
        p
        piccola Mar 23, 2012 08:47 PM

        To this I'd add The Westerly or maybe The County General.

        1. re: bytepusher
          CocoaChanel Mar 24, 2012 08:07 AM

          Another +1 for Buca

          1. re: bytepusher
            t
            TeacherFoodie Mar 24, 2012 02:29 PM

            I went to Campagnola for the first time last night. There were 5 of us and we went with the tasting menu. You have to ask for the tasting menu. You could also just order a bunch of things and share them (and the cost could likely end up being similar, depending on what you want to try). I liked this restaurant a bit more than Buca and our friends said they liked it better than Enoteca Sociale. We had squid that was excellent and an amazing sweet potatoe pasta. Everything else was very good. Our server, Sylvia, was fantastic.

          2. h
            helenhelen Mar 22, 2012 10:46 PM

            guu izakaya? (definitely loud!)
            yours truly? (go later for the late night menu if you want louder)
            woodlot?

            2 Replies
            1. re: helenhelen
              s
              szw Mar 24, 2012 09:41 AM

              When does the last night menu start and do you know how much $$? Also, reservations necessary?

              1. re: szw
                h
                helenhelen Mar 27, 2012 05:44 PM

                i think you can order from the snacks menu at any time. when i had gone there, my boyfriend ordered 5 dishes from there as his dinner, while i got the veg tasting menu. all prices are really cheap for the creativity that you get. yours-truly.com is the website, i think... something like that

            2. l
              LexiFirefly Mar 23, 2012 05:55 AM

              I'd recommend Bestellen, 1 month old, super trendy and way more of a Downtown NYC scene. It can take a little while as they are still working out some kinks but they have a wicked cocktail list to help pass the time! It's sure to become a must hit spot on here soon!

              2 Replies
              1. re: LexiFirefly
                ingloriouseater Mar 23, 2012 09:28 AM

                what do you mean by a downtown NYC scene? is their a resto in lower manhattan that it is akin to? as for their wicked cocktail list do they have another-larger list other than what is on their website?

                1. re: ingloriouseater
                  l
                  LexiFirefly Mar 23, 2012 12:42 PM

                  The clientelle and servers were all very hip beautiful people the night i was there. Also the mural and the ageing fridge that you often see the chef running in and out of, reminds me of the meatpacking district in Manhattan. I haven't seen the drink list online but the food menu is larger so I'd assume the same for the cocktails. I had a "Little Lady and it was delish! Sorry for the confusion earlier i was at work and trying to type it out ASAP!

              2. e
                eppicurious Mar 23, 2012 06:58 AM

                Gio's in Leslieville is loud, has a great vibe, and the food is excellent.

                1 Reply
                1. re: eppicurious
                  b
                  bytepusher Mar 23, 2012 01:15 PM

                  Gio's is OK as a neighborhood joint goes but it's frankly pretty far from the kind of thing the original poster is really looking for.

                2. b
                  burlgurl Mar 24, 2012 04:03 PM

                  Origin is an idea...tapas and very trendy/hip/buzzing place...always packed so reservations are a good idea

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: burlgurl
                    g
                    gwanderc Mar 24, 2012 07:32 PM

                    I would agree with Origin. It definitely hits on the notes you are looking for.

                  2. miketoronto Mar 25, 2012 08:16 PM

                    Origin fits your request to a tea, exactly where you should go. Buca is also be a great spot which fits your wishlist.

                    1. d
                      disgusti Mar 25, 2012 09:52 PM

                      acadia is doing my favourite food right now and has a pretty good atmosphere if you want to actually chill out and enjoy a great meal
                      yours truly is good for cocktails and the food is decent but not mind blowing
                      grand electric if you really want a 'hip' place but it's really not particularly incredible food. it's good and it's a fun vibe but service is spotty especially considering people are waiting 2+ hours to eat there
                      woodlot, campagnolo, enoteca sociale are options as others have said

                      1. d
                        daniz Mar 26, 2012 02:02 PM

                        Thanks, all! Have Bestellen for Saturday night and Origin for Sunday night reserved. Now, just one more favor:

                        1. Any cool imbibing spots for 30 somethings for a Saturday and Sunday night?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: daniz
                          miketoronto Mar 26, 2012 08:42 PM

                          The Bowery would probably be right up your alley and is literally steps from Origin.

                          1. re: daniz
                            l
                            LexiFirefly Mar 27, 2012 05:11 AM

                            For Saturday night you are a hop skip and a jump from Ossington, also if either of you like bourbon The Emmett Ray is like 2 blocks away, porobably the best bourbon selection in the city. Not many cocktails though. If your looking for Dancing theres Cold Tea in Kensington, great cocktails and music and sort of exclusive feeling although it is a giant painted cement room so your probably looking for something fancier. If you want trendy though it's the way to go! I'm not the best for things around Origin but there are a few threads about where to go for drinks around there already!

                          2. b
                            burlgurl Mar 26, 2012 03:20 PM

                            You may want to check out barchef for cocktails...probably the best cocktail place in town...but you pay for it! Almost like molecular gastronomy of drinks...cool place to check out.
                            Also The Drake hotel is a good place...

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: burlgurl
                              d
                              daniz Apr 2, 2012 08:35 PM

                              Thanks for all of your recommendations. We really loved Bestellen. It was a terrific meal and having eaten at some of the finest steakhouses in North America, I have to say that the strip steak was one of the best I've ever had. Atmosphere was great and service was solid but the waiter did struggle to make after dinner drink spot recommendations for us and we ended up getting lost in the cab trying to head to his recommendation of Cocktail Bar?!? Luckily, I remembered barchef and we redirected the cab there. The cocktails all kind of tasted the same, but the "show" and the service made up for that. I ended up going "off the menu" and had the best Mint Julep I've ever had. It was fun atmosphere, too and the best door guy ever, Tony, kept us entertained and made some great drinks and dancing recommendations.

                              Also visited the lounge at The Drake on Sunday night and played a super fun game of Plingo! It was a fun surprise and we ended up keeping the night rolling by taking in some live entertainment at The Dakota--a great recommendation from the staff at The Drake.

                              Origin was mediocre at best. The concept just seemed a little "tired" and the flavors really weren't there. Worst "deviled" eggs I've ever had and I couldn't get past the fact that the floor was not swept under the table next to me even at first seating. The service was efficient if not a bit austere. Wouldn't return--it just wasn't "fun" and the food was average. It all sort of tasted the same, overspiced, or bland. Could have been an off night, I suppose.

                              Nonetheless we had a great time on our trip and I thank you all for your recommendations!

                              1. re: daniz
                                b
                                bytepusher Apr 3, 2012 09:36 AM

                                I'm always a little surprised when traveling in the states when local dining companions start asking the server for recommendations for after dinner drinks. It's not really something people expect here, not that it's never done or considered rude but it's just not done as commonly as it seems to be in the US so servers won't be expecting it and will struggle.

                                1. re: bytepusher
                                  d
                                  daniz Apr 3, 2012 11:46 AM

                                  Yes. In the big cities in the US the service industry insiders are considered to be the bartenders, chefs, and waitstaff are often the best to go to for recommendations. They have friends who work at other establishments and this often gives them a unique perspective on the different restaurants. They certainly know if the food is top quality and the kitchen is clean. As a former restaurant manager, one qualification for our staff was that they were "in-the-know" about the local eateries and bars. We often arranged for trades to allow them to dine at other well known restaurants to facilitate par tof their training. We often expect our servers and bartenders to be better educated in food and bev than the paying customer.
                                  Afterall, they are the salesperson and the ambassador to the kitchen.

                                  Again, no offense was meant by any of my feedback. I did think that this site was one of honest "no-hype" reviews and information sharing. We had a great time and immensely enjoyed your recommendations. I was merely sharing anecdotes about our experience as I thought was encouraged by Chowhound.

                                  1. re: daniz
                                    b
                                    bytepusher Apr 3, 2012 12:05 PM

                                    No offense was taken and honest feedback is always welcome here, I was just pointing out a difference in the usual service culture here that was probably behind one of your observations.

                                    1. re: daniz
                                      ingloriouseater Apr 3, 2012 02:02 PM

                                      the only caveate is that i want to recommend my fave hangs to good customers (wait until they pay to recommend). i wouldn't want to burden my fave places and friends in the industry if the customers are douches...

                                  2. re: daniz
                                    l
                                    LexiFirefly Apr 3, 2012 02:42 PM

                                    They're also a really new place and a lot of the staff are from downtown. My bet would be he didn't know the area very well, not an excuse but a lot of them are still training.

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