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Nice, romantic restaurant for anniversary with girlfriend.

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Looking for a nice place to go for the first year with my girlfriend. Nice setting is important, good food of course (since I am coming to chowhound), and service would be a plus.

I'm still a student, so i'm looking mains under 25, 30 top?

Any suggestions would be nice. Was thinking about canoe, but out of my budget, scenery would have been nice haha.

Thanks CHers!

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  1. would buca fit the bill?

    2 Replies
    1. re: .alias

      I wouldn't call Buca at all romantic

      If you like seafood/oysters, I find Starfish (adelaide st) and Zee Grill (Mt Pleasant) much more romantic. I also think 93 Harbord is very cozy and in your price range.

      1. re: CocoaChanel

        What about Nota Bene?

        Not overly romantic, but somewhat posh and in the price range?


    2. My suggestion is La Bodega on Baldwin. There's also a nice romantic feel walking down that street.

      1. My favourite for a romantic dinner is still Weezie's. Perfect for a pair on a budget too. When you book your table, ask for the one in the southeast corner of the room. You get a pretty view of the parkette and church across the street and you can canoodle in the corner. Apps, mains, and wines are all very reasonably priced. Service was terrific last time I was there say about a month ago. This summary is helpful:

        1 Reply
        1. re: Googs

          Googs- noticed I repeated your suggestion. Your reply wasn't posted when I started writing mine. I agree, Weezie's is a great choice for a nice dinner, with mains under $30.

        2. Weezie's, Tati Bistro, Le Paradis or Simple Bistro might work.

          The atmosphere on the patio in the evening at Elle M'a Dit on Baldwin is somewhat romantic, although the furniture is basic. Their menu is within your budget. The patio at the Boulevard Cafe is also romantic.

          If you order carefully, Scaramouche's Pasta Bar might work with your budget.

          4 Replies
          1. re: prima

            I think your choices are pretty darn fine too. Don't forget that both Tati and Simple are with DiningDateNight.com. .alias could have another 30% off everything AND a terrific night out. I'd still pick Weezie's over them though. There's just something about the place.

            1. re: Googs

              Le paradis is definitely a good call.


              1. re: justxpete

                Oh yes! +1 on Le Paradis.
                I had forgotten about that spot.

                1. re: CocoaChanel

                  Very romantic and a lovely place, "The Corner House" but not sure if it is within your price point...check it online....The place is lovely, both in the Summer...sweet little patio and in the Winter a cozy warm atmosphere...I think the food to my taste has been very tasty, well executed, nicely plated and combined with good service...a winner!

          2. It falls on a Sunday! i've been meaning to try weezie's for a long time, but it seems like it's never open. I will take a look at Nota bene and le paradis, I know she likes italian food, hence I was thinking about Buca

            1. I just realized Nota Bene and Buca are both close sunday... Crap, didn't even realize...so any recommendations on a restaurant on a sunday?

              9 Replies
              1. re: .alias

                Are you sure Buca is closed on Sundays? It looks like there are some tables available next Sunday, and the following Sunday, on Opentable.

                Starfish, Le Paradis, Tati Bistro, Enoteca Sociale, Ascari and Paese are also open Sundays. Check www.opentable.com for other places open on Sunday for dinner. ;-)

                1. re: prima

                  urbanspoon said it was, i'll take another look....My mistake, it is open on sundays!

                  I'm leaning towards Buca or Le paradis right now. Enoteca is also an option

                  Would you guys recommend buca or enteca for italian?

                  1. re: .alias

                    I like both Buca and Enoteca. Both restaurants are a contemporary Toronto take on Italian, using lots of locally sourced ingredients. I like the atmosphere a little more at Buca. I've had great service at both places.

                    I stick to appetizers/antipasti, carpaccio and flatbreads at Buca, and avoid Buca's pastas and desserts.

                    I've liked pretty much everything I've tried at Enoteca, but I especially like their appetizers/antipasti.

                    1. re: prima

                      which one do you think would fit romantic dinner more haha. I read on Enoteca's site that its a candlelight setting, would it be better?

                      The girlfriend loves pasta haha. Why is it that you avoid the pastas at buca?

                      1. re: .alias

                        CocoaChanel mentioned above that she doesn't consider Buca romantic.

                        I avoid the pastas at Buca because the pastas I've tried at Buca have not tasted very good. I've tried maybe 10 pastas, and always end up wishing I just stuck with flatbread. Of course, some people like the pastas at Buca. I also haven't liked their desserts because I haven't found they taste as good as I'd expect at that price point. I think Buca's flatbreads, crispy pigs' ears, bread knots, carpaccio taste great.

                        I was trying to be somewhat diplomatic by mentioning which dishes I avoid. If you search "Buca", you'll find some other Chowhounds have mentioned hits and misses. I really like Buca's flatbreads and service, but I really don't like their pasta :-)

                        If your gf likes pasta, go to Enoteca Sociale on Dundas W or maybe Enoteca Ascari in Leslieville.

                        1. re: .alias

                          Enoteca is. Not really a "candle-light" setting. I'm not certain they even have candles. Its generally a significantly raucous and noisy place. The dining room is somewhat small and the noise carries well - although as Pima mentioned, they do have some great pastas.

                          If I were you, however, I'd stick with a French bistro.


                          1. re: justxpete

                            Agree with justxpete- I'd probably go to a Bistro, although Enoteca Sociale is somewhat less energetic/loud on Sundays. Most French bistros have several pastas on the menu. Le Select (open Sundays, nice patio and could be romantic), Le Paradis and Tati have pastas on the menu.

                            Why don't you show your GF the online menus of a few places mentioned in this thread that are open Sundays, and have her choose the restaurant, since we don't know what kind of pastas she likes? Buca doesn't have an online menu, but often tweets specials in their twitterstream. The other restaurants mentioned in the thread that are open Sundays have online menus.

                            1. re: prima

                              What about Campagnolo? I love both enoteca sociale and Campagnolo but find that the latter is 1) more intimate and romantic. They definitely have candles. 2) they have better pasta I think. I have been to both recently and both were great in terms of both food and service. The benefit of enoteca is that they have a bigger menu and you can review to make sure there are things she likes. But there are usually a few fresh pasta dishes at Campagnolo and their burrata with roasted grapes is so delicious.

                    2. re: prima

                      Enoteca is a bit loud and noisy and isn't being on the quieter side a key ingredient of having a romantic dinner? Actually more than a few of the places mentioned are loud and noisy. The quietest of any is going to be the Scaramouche Pasta bar but then do you really want to tell your girlfriend (esp since it's only the first year of your relationship) to choose items from the menu 'carefully' with your budget in mind.

                  2. I would consider Edulis. The place is cute and romantic and it is in your pricepoint. I haven't been yet but it is getting great reviews.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Cat123

                      It's awesome, but make sure you call early enough for a res!

                      1. re: jlunar

                        I found it less than awesome - what particularly irked me was a relentless upsell. But it is more romantic (OK bistro-like) than most places mentioned above.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          I thought the food was really tasty, enjoyable, and well-priced. Definitely a revisit for me. Didn't notice a relentless upsell on my visit, but that would have bugged me too. Certainly would have affected my opinion on things!

                          1. re: jlunar

                            so many options! I'll definitely look into the bistos listed then and take a look at some menus. thanks guys!

                    2. Hey guys, what do you think about sidecar??

                      20 Replies
                      1. re: .alias

                        I love Campagnolo but the menu is adventurous so you should definitely take a look before you reserve.. Enoteca is amazing but the decor leaves a little something to be desired and I agree it's noisy. What about Actinolite? Excellent food, wonderful service, cozy neighbourhood joint.

                        1. re: .alias

                          Dude, take her to Edulis and be done with it. Trust me. You can thank me later.


                          1. re: .alias

                            I think you'll find that Sidecar is well-loved.

                            I have on more suggestion. Consider celebrating on a day earlier in the week when all of your choices are open. You won't have to turn yourself inside-out trying to find the best table available on a Sunday. The whole city can be yours. You can still make the anniversary special with a simple surprise, say a box of Soma chocolates perhaps for Sunday.

                            1. re: Googs

                              Unfortunately i work monday to friday until 9, and I think itd be preferable to go on sunday rather than sunday since it's so close. I know I'm limiting my choices, but it's just a small thing I know she will enjoy. I'm leaning towards Sidecar, considering Edulis. Sidecar seems like a solid choice especially with the prix fixe menu.

                              1. re: .alias

                                Sidecar isn't nearly as romantic as Edulis, IMO. Sidecar is bright and exposing, Edulis is quaint, quiet and French. Since you're looking for something romantic, side car isn't really the way to go. If you wanted a nice dinner with great cocktails, yes, but side car is hardly a place to take somewhere for an anniversary.

                                1. re: justxpete

                                  I'll second Actinolite, it's one of the few places I walked in and said "wow this room is really pretty." And I don't even care for decor and ambiance.

                                  Woodlot also does pretty good pastas.

                                  With that said, your shortlist so far should only be Edulis, Le Paradis, and maybe Campagnolo. Most other places are too loud, too casual, or over budget (the idea of having to watch what you order just screams unromantic IMO).

                                  1. re: Inkou

                                    You know the other place that has great cocktails and a prix fixe menu on Sundays is Union on Ossington. Don't know if that's special enough though.

                                    1. re: Inkou

                                      I wouldn't call ACTINOLITE romantic by any stretch...food was very good as was service but certainly not 'romantic'...I'm sorry but I need some dim (?) lighting, and some sound baffle from all that wood (certainly not alone .... so many TO restaurants...the noise just revereberates from all those wood floors). Is there a really intimate, quiet place with 'good' food and attitude?.....I have only one place that I frequent for that kind of 'nice evening'....The Corner House....used to be Auberge du Pommier but I haven't been since their reno

                                  2. re: .alias

                                    I like Sidecar but to me it is Wed night pop in kinda place when you don't want to cook or it is a good place for a bigger group that needs some middle of the road selections and price point. To me is isn't special the way you want something to be for an anniversary.

                                    1. re: JennaBean

                                      I'd argue that depends on your budget and dining out habits. My boyfriend and I went to Sidecar for our anniversary because it's a step up from where we normally go -- usually casual places like Zocalo and Hopgood's. Sidecar feels intimate, which is a big part of the "special night" atmosphere.

                                      1. re: piccola

                                        That's fair. I'm a fine dining person for special events. I love the patio at sidecar but it is often a place I go with the girls for a night out and not my bf for a romantic dinner.

                                        1. re: JennaBean

                                          I suppose it depends on how one defines a romantic restaurant. Setting aside such things as price and star rating, I define it as a place where the food is thoroughly enjoyed by both members of the couple, lighting is dim (candlelight preferred), and service is unobtrusive yet always there when you want them. It matters not if the room is large or small as long as you feel as though you're the only two there. In short, it inspires conversation, laughter, and relaxation. Fine dining is nice, but not an essential element.

                                          1. re: Googs

                                            well said 'Googs"!!

                                            1. re: Googs

                                              I fully agree. I just find my times at Sidecar are loud and booze filled! :-)

                                              1. re: Googs

                                                you guys have a great point, wasnt too familiar with the ambiance at sidecar. Looks like its time to pick something else haha.

                                                Any italian recommendations besides compagnolo? just in case she ops against french?

                                                1. re: .alias

                                                  Ascari, Paese, Buca and Enoteca Sociale (already mentioned in this thread a few weeks ago) are open Sunday. Both Pizzeria Libretto locations are also open Sundays, as is Zucca.

                                                  Since you seem to want as many options as possible, I'll mention some other Italian restaurants open on Sundays:
                                                  Paganelli's by Romagna Mia
                                                  La Forchetta
                                                  La Vecchia
                                                  II Mulino (expensive)
                                                  Sotto Sotto (expensive)
                                                  One (expensive)
                                                  Mangia + Bevi
                                                  Vecchio Frak

                                                  1. re: prima

                                                    Camarra's is too far and too pedestrian for a special occasion. That isn't to say it's bad; just not occasion worthy. Mangia + Bevi falls into that category too. Terroni might make the evening miserable if the young lady asks for anything other than what's on the written contract also known as their menu. La Vecchia is awful, just awful.

                                                    Have you been to Paganelli's? I have such strong doubts about the place, I stick to my former neighbourhood trat, Fusilli.

                                                    1. re: Googs

                                                      I'm just listing what's open, Googs. A number of very good, open-on-Sunday Italian recs were mentioned to the OP a few weeks ago. Several (Buca, Campagnolo and Enoteca Sociale) have been discussed in detail, yet the OP is still looking for Italian options, so I'm letting him know what's open.

                                                      While Camarra's is too pedestrian for you, it might not be too pedestrian for the OP. .alias, if you've been to any Italian restaurants lately, which ones have you enjoyed?

                                                      I haven't been to Paganelli's since it was Romagna Mia.

                                                      My favourite new school Italian is Campagnolo, and my favourite classic Italian (but not open on Sundays) is Carisma. On a Sunday, I'd probably go to Zucca, if I didn't want to deal with the scene at Campagnolo.

                                                      1. re: prima

                                                        So you're in the same boat with Paganelli's? I do fondly remember the good days of Romagna Mia. The rebranding into Paganelli's made me wary.

                                                        About Camarra's, like I said, I'm not implying that it's bad. I have fond memories of it as well. I think the OP is still killing himself trying to get it right. I wouldn't suggest Camarra's as the place to lay down his hard-earned's if he only has one shot at it.

                                                        Beau and I have been going French when we go out lately. The last Italian joint we hit was Remezzo's which won't be any help to the OP. We went for a combination of convenience and nostalgia reasons. It didn't disappoint on either count.

                                                        I'd agree with the downtown/midtown picks in your last paragraph. I sure hope the OP decides soon before he has a nervous breakdown.

                                              2. re: JennaBean

                                                Makes sense. It's always interesting to see how different people interact with the same space!

                                    2. I'd go with Sidecar. Great cocktails, very reasonably priced and well-executed prix fixe menu, very solid front of house and a sublime back patio. Or ask nicely for a booth upstairs - nice and private. Tell them it's your anni when you make the reservation.

                                      1. I really wish Campagnolo had more info on their site. It's not really helping me decide to go there. Hows the setting guys?

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: .alias

                                          Campagnolo is LOUD. Shout-at-your-dining-companion-across-the-table loud.

                                          1. re: TorontoJo

                                            All restaurants are loud these days. There are always large tables of loud people where ever I go. It's the condo dwellers, they travel in packs.

                                            1. re: crawfish

                                              This is an edited post:

                                              I find neighbourhood restaurants in less hip neighbourhoods ( north of Bloor, on Danforth, on Mt Pleasant, on Avenue Rd, on Bayview, on St Clair W, on Eglinton West) tend to be quieter than any of the trendier restaurants I've visited on Dundas W, Queen W, King W, Ossington, etc.

                                              My neighbourhood has packs of moms with strollers and packs of teenagers on summer vacation. By saying packs, I'm not saying they are necessarily the loudest group in a restaurant, I'm just saying they travel in packs. Whether the condo-dwellers are the loudmouths in the restaurant probably depends on the percentange of condo dwellers dining in the neighbourhood and their average age. The mostly 40+ condo dwellers don't seem especially loud in my neighbourhood.

                                              1. re: prima

                                                I'll take a pack of well-behaved toddlers over even just one adult who doesn't know enough to shut the hell up thank you very much.

                                                1. re: Googs


                                                  1. re: Googs

                                                    hahahaha that's very funny but I'm on the total other side of that because the adult I can, have and will tell to knock it off. Well I would like to do that with other people's kids it isn't so acceptable. As as result I almost NEVER go out before 8 p.m. on hopes of ensuing adults only spaces.

                                                    1. re: JennaBean

                                                      :-) Once, when I was being seated at a popular Greek restaurant, I quietly asked to be seated at a quieter table further away from a large group with a screaming toddler at a popular Greek restaurant. I got the stink-eye from the employee, for asking to be seated further from the toddler!

                                                      I agree, I find it easier to ask adults to keep their own voices down. I only tell kids I already know to be quiet.

                                                  2. re: prima

                                                    If you opt for the already-mentioned Le Paradis, try to reserve a table in the side room (on the northern side of the restaurant), which is somewhat quieter, and more relaxed (in short, more romantic) than the rest of the restaurant. With a half-litre of wine, two can eat well at Le Paradis for well under $100, all in. Given Toronto's mid-level resto prices nowadays, a helluva good deal. The bill can escalate startlingly above $100 at many of the other good joints mentioned above. Campagnolo, Enoteca Sociale and Il Mulino - all good Italian spots - are particularly dangerous for someone on a budget.

                                                2. re: TorontoJo

                                                  For me it is not loud just buzzing. Grand Electric is loud and I love that when I'm in the mood.

                                              2. Looking into Edulis more than Le Paradis, the girlfriend has been to Le Paradis and i'm hoping to take her to somewhere new.

                                                Really considering changing the date to the saturday to try Weezie's. I've heard really good things about the food and atmosphere. Along with that, it's a close walk to the Distillery District, which is a place I'd like to go with her, as our first date was there.


                                                18 Replies
                                                1. re: .alias

                                                  I know a lot of folks like Weezies but I think it is average at best.

                                                  1. re: JennaBean

                                                    And do you really want to go on a romantic date to a place called "wheezies"!?!

                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                      Guess you didn't watch the Jefferson's growing up? Part of the reason I like Weezie's is that it reminds me of George and Weezie.

                                                      Weezie's is a good, solid, reasonably-priced option near the Distillery.

                                                      Not sure if Delux was already mentioned. I thought Delux was quite good for a bistro. Of course, it's really inconvenient if you're planning to go to the Distillery.

                                                      If I had a special occasion and needed to keep mains under $30, I'd probably choose Edulis over Weezie's, mostly because I haven't had a chance to try Edulis yet.

                                                      When is the anniversary, .alias? I hope you let the Board know where you end up!

                                                      1. re: prima

                                                        RIP Sherman Hemsley, who played George Jefferson.

                                                        1. re: prima

                                                          It's Aug 19th, so planning ahead!

                                                          yeah the distillery is close to weezie's which is good for my plans. But traveling isnt a big deal, there's just a lot of thigns I want to fit into the day =p

                                                      2. re: JennaBean

                                                        .alias, the Distillery-Weezie's combo is, without-a-doubt, my favourite romance and hand-holding combo. If you do decide to go, don't forget about the southeast table.

                                                        @ Jennabean: With sincere respect, if you haven't been to Weezie's lately, you should. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the last time you were there was last year. I read about the drop-off back then. All I can say is that there was, in fact, a temporary rough patch that would have knocked anyone off their game. Life happens. The focus has returned and the results show on the plate. Please do consider going again next time you're in the neighbourhood. I'm grateful that Constance is back to being her fab chick self.

                                                        1. re: Googs

                                                          I was there about three months ago. Not my pick. Again it was just ok I just chose not to write about the same place with the same outcome. It is okay for a hood spot but nothing special IMO.

                                                          1. re: JennaBean

                                                            That's too bad. I went last year after reading the negative reports and could definitely see what people were talking about. I chose to say nothing since, as you say, it had already been said.

                                                            I've been twice this year, the last being about a month ago, and was once again wowed. Great food, great service, nice view. I do agree that it's a neighbourhood, more than a destination, restaurant. Then again, I feel that way about the vast majority of places. Oh well. More for me.

                                                        2. re: JennaBean

                                                          I completely agree. No atmosphere and meh food.

                                                          1. re: hungryabbey

                                                            late to the party, but how about JAM Cafe in Cabbagetown?Not Italian, but meets the other criteria. I think the m ost romantic table is the deuce with two high-backed upholstered chairs at the south end of the front room.Cozy rather than showy, however, and with a quiet clientele. But really, how rowdy are SUnday nights at any of the restaurants already mentioned? Most of them will be great, all will be fine, and you make your own romance.

                                                        3. re: .alias

                                                          Just looked at yesterdays menu. Wouldn't walk around the block to eat there.

                                                          1. re: Herne

                                                            Who's menu?

                                                            1. re: Googs



                                                              1. re: Herne

                                                                i think the menu looks worthy of a walk around the block...i haven't tried it but now i will....they sound like enjoyable people who love life.

                                                                1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                                  They certainly do sound like enjoyable people and I find the menu does not reflect such a view. But everybody to his/her own taste--especially with food I guess.

                                                                2. re: Herne

                                                                  I've been to Edulis twice. Loved it both times. Service was exceptionally friendly and charming. Can't wait to go back.

                                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                                    thank you. this place wasn't even on my radar but now i must try it...i love trying new places.

                                                                    1. re: ingloriouseater

                                                                      The food is quite good. Went once in the first couple of weeks it opened and have been meaning to go back. Very date-worthy IMO.