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Two nights in August

Hello Toronto. As a reward for visiting the in-laws, my wife and I are coming for a very short stay. Two nights, a Monday and Tuesday in late August. Don't know where we will be staying but we will have a car. I'll worry about lunch later when I've determined an itinerary. Lets do dinner! Looking for a French Bistro and a "contemporary" restaurant. I'd also like a steak option, just in case. With a couple cocktails, perhaps a bottle of wine, food, tip and tax, I'd like to keep the cost each night at around $200US plus or minus a bit. If there is some restaurant that is out of these parameters but you feel shouldn't be missed, please do mention it and why but the cost can't go up. Thanks!

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  1. Given you’re from out-of-town, I’m suggesting that you ignore most of the neighbourhood bistros that are often recommended here – there are many good ones, but not so outstanding that they’re worth a detour.
    Take a look at Acadia (you’ll have to skip the tasting menu – too expensive). It’s in transition right now – the heavier original (pseudo-Southern) dishes have been supplemented/slowly replaced with a lighter modern French-style cuisine that feels bistro – except the place is a bit more bustling and located in our ‘Little Italy’ area. Service is also casual but efficient (no tablecloths!).
    For a more classic bistro – actually more like a brasserie – then Pastis is a good choice.

    Both Monday and Tuesdays are ‘closed’ nights for many restaurants – but you might consider Black Hoof for a meat-centric meal – blackboard menu and no reservations (and no credit cards!) – closed Tuesday – if you arrive around 6:00 shouldn’t be a problem.

    Then, of course, we have a plethora of fine Asian dining – if that might interest you, the better places are in the suburbs – but just mention it and Charles Yu will respond (hopefully).
    I don’t think you’ll find steaks or finer dining to exceed what you can get at home. And our ‘gastropubs’ serve fairly basic (i.e. comfort) foods.

    1. One of my favourites is Fabricca. It is in a mall at the corner of Don Mills and Lawrence. I believe the exact address is on Karl Fraser Road. The chef is well know here - Mark McEwan and the food is outstanding. It is rustic Italian food. I have been there maybe 10 times and every time have loved the food and the service.

      Some particular favorites: olives (I know - you think olives but they brine them in house and they are fabulous!), the crostini with mixed mushrooms, the pizza with truffle cream (they import some sort of special flour from Italy and the chef had to get certified on pizza-making in Napoli - plus they have a wood-burning stove for the bread and pizza). The pizza is absolutely outstanding and not to be missed. Their baked pasta is excellent. Their salads look great but I haven't had one. They have some sort of pork loin on the dinner menu that the waiter explained to me was just like 'bacon.' Obviously that sounds irresistable so that will be ordered next time. For desert they have cannelloni which I thought was pretty mediocre - obviously it broke my heart that I had to be critical of one of my favourite restaurants but the cannelloni was tough and doughy - just bad. However, their salted caramel gelato is FABULOUS. Plus their biscotti is fabulous. After lunch or dinner, you can go across the street to McEwan's grocery store and buy some of those biscotti to take home. Well worth it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Corks73

        Note, the OP is from Chicago - while Fabricca certainly has a place in the dining panorama, it is faux-Italian - and very expensive too.

        My only meal there was marred by incompetent service and a server absolutely drenched in perfume.

        But certainly high-quality ingredients - and I ended up paying well over $200 (for two) - IIRC for 4 of us it was around $600 (without exceptional wine). I actually thought the food was good - but not value at those prices (or with that service)

      2. For contemporary I would suggest Buca, which is open both Mon & Tues and is in a fun area downtown. Went for a birthday and really enjoyed it. Enoteca Sociale is also fun and would definitely fit your budget, and Edulis might do for a bistro. Ici Bistro also gets a lot of love on this board.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Phoenix

          Edulis is CLOSED both Monday & Tuesday. So is Ici!

          1. re: Phoenix

            I second Buca for a fun and contemporary place.

            1. re: TeacherFoodie

              I third Buca. Great food and within the budget you're looking for!

              As for the French Bistro, I really like Le Select. It's well within your budget and the food is quite good. I love all the seafood plates from them. They also have a wonderful dish with bone marrow! I've never had a bad meal or service with them.

              Another contemporary restaurant you could do is Scaramouche Pasta bar and Grill (not the restaurant). It would fit into you budget if you're a little more conscious of the plate choices. I find the food quite delicious and service is always impeccable. They are open Monday and Tuesday.

              1. re: Nevy

                I also second Le Select. Nice atmosphere. I had the duck here.

          2. Coming from Chicago you probably don't need to seek steak. Ours are the same as yours, only smaller and more expensive. There is no excellent steakhouse in Toronto that a couple can get out of, wine, tax and tip in, for less than $ 200.

            1. If you want a cost effective steak options Ruth's Chris at the Hilton on Richmond and University has a 3 course special from 4:30pm to 6:30pm for $65 per person.

              http://www.ruthschris.ca/documents/CA...

              3 Replies
              1. re: ingloriouseater

                The steak in this option is a 4 oz. filet. They do a steak/frites option with a 6 oz.

                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                  add tax, tip, and wine, $ 200 for a small steak....

                  1. re: KAYLO

                    that would be 2 steaks, (11 oz each-as it states) , 3 courses for each person,