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Need help with Yorkville Dinner Recommendation

I'll be in town in a few weeks for just the weekend with my SO and wanted to spend the first night exploring the Yorkville neighborhood. I am trying to find a good place for cocktails and dinner that won't break the bank. One and Pangea looked good but more expensive than I want. Can you wonderful Toronto hounds recommend something a tad more reasonable?

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  1. Caren's Wine Bar is lovely. Avoid One and Pangaea. :)

    1. Always skip One unless for patio drinks....

      Pangaea is the best bet in the hood, but out of your price range.

      in no particular order:

      Jacques Bistro Du Parc
      Carens Wine & Cheese Bar
      Hemingways (patio is a happening place)
      Yamato (I like it but it gets mixed reviews here)
      just to name a few....

      3 Replies
      1. re: ingloriouseater

        Hemingways is a good bet in Yorkville? Are you checking to see if we're reading your posts? :-)

        1. re: prima

          not for food, but for the patio action...

          1. re: prima

            Just commented on the "Worst in Toronto" thread and forgot Hemingways. Yes, a million dollar patio, but the food is like high school or hospital cafeteria food... I ALWAYS have this argument with friends who want to go there... Great patio, but LOUSY food. But after many drinks (it's the curse of the patio), it somehow hits the spot. Agree that One is only for people watching and drinks... Gotta try this Caren's. Creme Brassiere is quite elegant. Can't beat their omelette. As I perused the posters, I see the OP is open to other places. I know it's not a foodie's shangri la, but you can't beat the patio at the Drake for fun... sorry, but when you're having fun, the food becomes secondary; HOWEVER, I still think the Drake's food is decent. For other options, definitely Ossington. The Foxley's crispy shrimp and sticky ribs - HEAVEN!!!!!! Libretto pizza - you can verify that with many other posts. Hope you report back OP.

        2. If you want pizza and pasta Ciao is an ok spot but my go to in the hood is Caren's.

          1. Caren's for sure!

            One has a great patio, great for people watching. Please don't eat there.

            7 Replies
            1. re: CocoaChanel

              Also agree with Carens. Its kind of sad that thats all I can recommend in the hood, and the last time I went I wasnt really that enthralled. I feel its gone down hill over time but still, there isnt much else to take its place sadly.

              1. re: hungryabbey

                Yeah, choices are limited in Yorkville.

                Two other options for the OP are a couple of blocks up Avenue road: L'Unita and Malena. My last meal at Malena was a bit disappointing, but I know they've continued to change up the menu with the new chef, so perhaps it's better. I love the room, and the bar is a nice place to have a drink before dinner.

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  Yes. I havent been to l'unita, but my meal at malena was on par with Carens, and I kind of think I like the atmosphere at malena better UNLESS you are going to eat outside at Carens, in which case their back patio probably gives them the edge.
                  Food is fine at la societe, but the outdoor dining experience is nice. If the weather is good when the OP comes I would recommend sitting on their patio for drinks.
                  Does anyone have any info on the people of Queen and Beaver opening a spot in Yorkville?

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    Back patio at Carens is one of my favourite hidden spots in the city.

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      It's to be called The Oxley and is located at 121, Yorkville. It's to be an upscale gastropub to cater, according to one of the owner's, for those who live in the area who don't want to have pricey, three course dinners every night. It has both a front and back patio. It's supposed to open around now.

                      1. re: ER2

                        I saw something on twitter about a soft opening.. does anyone have an update on whether or not this place is open?

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          Went for a casual dinner on saturday. The decor in there is similar to the Q + B. Its very British, and very comfy, with a nice big fireplace that I know I am going to be all over come fall. The servers were all very cute, and attentive, and filled out water glasses consistently.
                          They have a great drink menu, and I wanted something sweet, so I had a blackberry mojito which was really delicious. The SO went with the Whisky Sour, which they did really well as well with lots of frothy egg whites (the one he ordered on Friday at Scarpetta had none).
                          We tried:
                          Melted Brie, Fennel and Honey on Toast- The brie was a stronger one, so it could have used a bit more honey to balance it out. But in general, I loved this, and it was a great snack for any time of day.
                          Squab and Rhubarb-Pippall Chutney- served with these little hickory sticks-type crisps, which made this dish a really nice balance of salty and sweet.
                          Fish and Chips- Really nice light batter and perfectly cooked fish, but the star of the dinner was no doubt the chips. We both agreed that these were some of the best fries we've tasted in a long time. They reminded me of the chip truck we visit on our way up to the cottage, which is always an awesome food memory to channel. they were super crispy outside, yet really fluffy and moist inside. Really, it doesn't get much better than this.
                          Cheddar and Bacon Burger and Chips- I'm not one to order a burger at a restaurant, but I was so glad that I did because this one was really good. Not a huge burger, but perfectly sized if you want to thoroughly enjoy those fries. I appreciated that they will cook them to the diners' requested temperature, so I went with medium (but would try medium rare next time). Even at medium, it was incredibly juicy and flavourful with just the right amount of fat. The cheese added a nice sharp bite, and the bun (while maybe a wee bit small for the patty) was buttery and delicious. My only complaint would be that the thick-cut bacon on top could have been cooked a little bit more for me (I actually don't like crispy bacon, but because it was so thickly cut, a lot of the fat had not yet rendered so it was a bit chewy).
                          Crunchy Walnut Maple Tart and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream- So I went with the sticky toffee pudding last time at the Q + B, which I adored (its favourite dessert, so I am a bit of a STP expert). However, I do try not to re-order (and thus, re-review) the same dishes, so I opted for the walnut maple tart. While not as good as the STP, it was really a delicious dish. The tart shell itself was flaky and perfectly sweetened (and I usually don't like pie/tart crust), and I loved the intense crunch that came from the caramelized walnuts on top. I could have used a bit more chewy-gooey factor from the filling (mmm like my favourite butter tarts from Flaky Tart), but you know, I'm not going to be too picky.
                          Chocolate Ice Cream- A very rich, dark chocolate flavour with a creamy consistency. I was a bit disappointed that the Oxley didn't have all of the cool ice cream flavours offered at the Q + B (they only had vanilla, chocolate and blue cheese cherry), but maybe they will work those in slowly.
                          So for 3 cocktails, 2 apps, 2 mains and 2 desserts, the bill was $130 including tax and tip. Pretty damn good for the amount of food we got. This is definitely our new choice for drinking and eating casually in the hood. Patio in the summer, fireplace in the winter. Pics on the blog (accessed from the site).


              2. Mideastro seems to have a low profile, but I've had several oustanding lunches there. Seriously good food and service, in my experience at lest. Can't comment specifically on dinner, however--maybe someone else can.

                It's at the less frantic end of Yorkville, across from the new Four Seasons. 27 Yorkville, east of Bay, 416-477-2427.

                1. Has anyone tried Creme Brasserie in the Renaissance Courtyard? http://www.cremebrasserie.com/

                  Nice to see they have a Cobb Salad on the menu.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: prima

                    I was there in November for an impromptu late meal. The food was good and service was friendly. It was definitely one of my better yorkville dining experiences. I had the steak and it was a delicious piece of meat that was perfectly cooked.

                  2. Yorkville is surprisingly a tough place to nail down.
                    I would go for cocktails at Avenue, One, Park Hyatt or Sassafraz for fun...
                    As for dinner... depending on the "scene" you're looking for,
                    Feiramosca on Prince Arthur has good food, reasonable prices (the last I remember)
                    Sushi Inn for decent sushi at reasonable prices - not much atmosphere though...
                    What about Dynasty on Yorkville? Haven't been there, but I would imagine it's fairly reasonable. Hemingways food kind of sucks, but the patio is fun...
                    Wait.. The Pilot! Yes, I forgot. Amazing poutine, a fun local joint, jazz, cozy, great patio... friendly people.
                    For next to no atmosphere but decent food at great prices, there's King Palace on whatever that street is that runs to the south of Canadian Tire... Transfer some wine into another bottle and take your take-out into the park on Cumberland.
                    What about the Coffee Mill?
                    Yamato or Asuka also for sushi
                    Anything in Hazelton people?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Moimoi

                      I'm afraid Avenue closed three or four weeks back as part of the general closure of the Four Seasons at the Yorkville/Avenue Road location. I'm told that there will be a similar place at ground floor level when the new Four Seasons opens at Bay/Yorkville but that won't be until sometime in July.

                    2. Le Paradis. A classic!!! Love it always!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Moimoi

                        The reason I wanted to head up to Yorkville is because when I was last in town (10 years ago) I really liked the "neighborhood" feel- like Greenwich Village in NYC or Lincoln Park in Chicago. If it is not a great place to hang out and drink and eat on Friday night, can you guys recommend a better plan? We will definitely be downtown on Saturday night...

                        1. re: kathrynanne

                          Depends on what you're looking for. Ossington/Queen West West is more my kinda place. Much more low-key, no so much see and be seen. Better food and drink options IMO.

                          1. re: JennaBean

                            Definitely agree. I live in Yorkville but trek all the way to the west Queen/Ossington area every single weekend for food.

                            1. re: hungryabbey

                              Oh My! I would not utter Yorkville in the same breath with Greenwich VIllage! It's not fun and funky, and skews rather...mature. Maybe leslieville (ascari enoteca?) or queen east east/riverdale (table 17?) HOw old are you, OP, and what time of night are you planning to be traipsing about? Yorkville has its charms, and I second the suggestion of patio drinks if the weather is good, then split a Peking Duck at Dynasty on the terrace while people-watching, but Mideastro is a bit on the pricey side too if you have a fair-sized appetite and want a real meal.

                          2. re: kathrynanne

                            Agree with the others that Yorkville hasn't had a Village vibe, nor a neighbourhood vibe, for a LONG time. I think that Ossington/Queen West is a much better combo - there are lots of cool shops along West Queen West that you could check out in the later afternoon, then go somewhere on Ossington or nearby to eat (lots of threads on this - a few suggestions are Pizzeria Libretto, Enoteca Sociale, Yours Truly, Delux, Fishbar, The Saint, Black Hoof) and then you could have drinks at The Drake, Painted Lady or maybe the cocktail bar across from Black Hoof (forget the name, never been). Alternate options would be Kensington Market or Leslieville for closest to Village vibe with various food and drink options. Enjoy!

                        2. Ossington is a hipster "it spot" kind of neighbourhood. You won't see many customers over 50. Not sure what age bracket the OP fits into. Yorkville has a lot of overpriced restaurants that don't deliver much, but it has some gems like Jacques and The Coffee Mill, and Mistura, Le Paradis and L'Unita around the corner close to Av + Dav. The OP might also want to visit Summerhill (upscale), which has Pastis, as well as the 5 Thieves (Oliffe, Harvest Wagon, etc).

                          While I like some restaurants on Ossington, it isn't a go-to neighbourhood for me. Quite a few restos are all hype, and some have servers with attitude problems and poor service skills. Ossington is a 45-50 minute subway/streetcar ride for me, and I haven't been wowed by too many restaurants on Ossington, and I'm disappointed if I travel out of my way to end up having a mediocre experience.

                          I'm more likely to take visitors to the Danforth (Greek, as well as pubs, and Aravind for Indian, Globe Bistro for continental), W Queen W (west of Bathurst- somewhat artsy but not as hip as Ossington imo) or Roncesvalles (Polish, and some cute yuppie-ish spots).

                          Agree with other posters that Leslieville (more yuppy) is also currently a neat neighbourhood to explore, as is Kensington Market (more artsy).

                          What kind of food do you want to eat, kathrynanne?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: prima

                            My SO and I are in our mid-late thirties and definitely want something a little hip. Maybe W Queen West is a better fit? As far as food goes, I really don't want Asian, or Middle Eastern. We eat that all the time. A little bistro, or Italian place, or a chef-owned spot would be ideal. Thanks for all your good ideas so far!

                            1. re: kathrynanne

                              I'm in my late 30s. My favourite relatively hip spots include Enoteca Sociale (Dundas W), Buca (King W) and Campagnolo (Dundas W), which aren't on Ossington, but are attracting young at heart 30somethings and 40somethings, and take reservations. I've got L'Ouvrier and Yours Truly on my wishlist. On Ossington, I've liked the bistro food at Delux.

                              I haven't been to Black Hoof, but it probably should be on the short list (as others have suggested). Black Hoof doesn't take res'ns, and there's often a wait.

                              Black Skirt on Queen W might also be worthwhile. Haven't been.

                              1. re: prima

                                Yah, we loved black skirt. Its not much of an atmosphere, but the food when we went was very good.


                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                  Going there this weekend. What is good there?

                                2. re: prima

                                  We can't get reservations at Buca, and the other 2 looked good, but I ultimately ended up reserving our first night at Sidecar and our second night at Marben. After all the lukewarm feelings I decided that Yorkville wasn't worth it, and probably not how I remembered it. Black Hoof is ( I am sure) very good, but Iron Chef Michael Symon is a local boy and we don't want meat-heavy nose-to-tail on our visit. Aside from a "thrifty" lunch at Village by the Grange, the only remaining question mark is breakfast/brunch (I kinda hate that word) somewhere downtown-ish. It seems like the Senator has a good breakfast and great atmosphere, but it is pricey for what is on the menu. Then there is Petite Dejeuner, which I am sure is delightful, but it is not cheap and is yet another charming bistro brunch, with the hungry patrons in line to prove it! There are a few things that annoy me to pieces in my hometown, and any place I visit, and it is lining up to pay 20$ for glorified eggs in a quaint store-front with a tin ceiling. I actually looked at Sneaky Dee's (sp?) and thought that sounded kind of promising is a grungy, R'n'R kind of way.

                                  1. re: kathrynanne

                                    Depending on your CHowhound-y chops, Saturday morning breakfast downtown I suggest a pea-meal bacon sandwich (main floor) and a stroll through the two floors of the St. Lawrence Market, then cross the street to the annex for the Farmers Market. Some people prefer the breakfast counter downstairs, where you have a chance of grabbing a seat......... definitely not a gracious over-priced hollandaise sauce in sight.