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Need (3) Recs -- Money No Object

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SO and I will be in TO in about a month and we need recommendations for one breakfast, lunch and dinner in the central downtown area. Although we will have a car, we'd rather not drive anywhere as time is a factor, so nothing more than a modest cab ride.

We have no budget. We don't care what any meal costs, we just want the best that TO has to offer. I'm considering Splendido or George for dinner. Not sure which is better. We've been to Scaramouche, Opus and North 44 in the past. I'm hoping the experts can give us their wishlist for a 24-hour culinary tour de force. Also, if you have any suggestions for drinks before or after dinner, please don't hesitate.

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  1. Splendido is an excellent choice. You might consider Canoe for lunch.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Phoenix

      I wasn't aware that Canoe was open for lunch. Thanks Phoenix.

      Will you be here on a weekend or weekday, Grimaldi?

      And yes, Splendido is the best that Toronto has to offer (although some may disagree and offer Scaramouche as an alternative). I'd suggest to go for dinner and to have the tasting menu..

    2. lunch for me is lai wah heen.

      dinner splendido tasting menu for the win.

      5 Replies
      1. re: aser

        We were thinking about Splendido for dinner and Canoe for lunch. If that is the consensus, I think we're good to go. Any ideas on a great breakfast place, and a place for cocktails? We'll be in town on a weekday, midweek.

        1. re: grimaldi

          great breakfast midweek? i think your best bet would be one of the older hotels. king eddy? royal york? even tundra at the hilton has some really great offerings but the very business crowd might take away from the atmosphere. not a ton of top end restos open for breakfast on a random weekday.

          1. re: grimaldi

            No problem with that choice in theory - but as they're the same day please reconsider aser's suggestion of lai wah heen (for dim sum).
            Not sure that Canoe & Splendido are sufficiently different (both fine dining) to give you enough variety.
            The dim sum lunch at Lai Wah Heen (a la carte) is possibly the finest in North America (OK, possibly some equals on west coast) and is totally different from the other places you are considering.

            And I'd also choose Splendido over George (although the George Patio is a great space).

            1. re: estufarian

              Agree wholeheartedly that Canoe and Splendido aren't that far apart in terms of a dining experience to warrant being 2 out of your 3 meals. Lai Wah Heen is a great rec or perhaps Agave Y Aguacate for inspired Mexican street food in Kensington Market. Not sure if you have time to meander in between meals but a walk around Kensington/Chinatown is always a fun way to spend a couple of hours (and there are lots of snacking opportunities along the way). For your breakfast, I'd again recommend something more casual - St. Lawrence Market for the ubiquitous peameal bacon on a bun or Lady Marmalade for tasty food in a retro-kitsch environment. And if you can squeeze in an extra mini-meal with a late afternoon or late night snack at Black Hoof or Guu, all the better. Enjoy your little visit.

            2. re: grimaldi

              You could also do lunch at George which would be my pick over Canoe. Canoe has a good view but I'm not a fan of the space overall and the back courtyard at George is perfect for a beautiful lunch.

          2. Drinks: On the patio at One (Hazleton Hotel) in Yorkville
            I also like the back bar (Deq ?) patio at The Ritz for drinks
            Most of the rest of the "drinks" places I frequent are financial type - not everyone's thing

            George at lunch (on the patio, of you can)
            +1 for Canoe at lunch

            I much prefer Scaramouche over Splendido for dinner

            10 Replies
            1. re: CocoaChanel

              Thanks for the fantastic suggestions. I would like to throw in someplace with an ethnic tinge, and Lai Wah Heen seems like a perfect fit. I considered Buca, but the reviews are either love it or hate it and I don't want to take that chance. Also considering Black Hoof for a little pre-dinner snack and/or cocktails, but we may or may not get out of there with an appetite for dinner.

              1. re: grimaldi

                Go to Bar Chef for a pre-dinner drink - esp if money is no object. It's an experience.

                1. re: justxpete

                  Agree with this, it's something different and unique in the city and the molecular drinks are a cool experience if you are willing to drop the money on them.

                  1. re: justxpete

                    Spirit House is also doing some great cocktails these days.

                  2. re: grimaldi

                    Actually thought of mentioning the Hoof Cocktail Bar (across the street from the Black Hoof) but speculated that it was just a bit too far out of the downtown area. While the Black Hoof is indeed worthwhile, it is closed Tue & Wed (which I think are your days in town).
                    Or could go to either AFTER your meal if so inclined. Cocktail Bar open daily until 2am. Hoof itself open to 1:00am (except Tue/Wed).

                    1. re: estufarian

                      I realized Black Hoof's hours after I posted, which is probably for the best since we wouldn't have that much stomach real estate to play with. Hoof Cocktail might be the way to go, although Bar Chef does look interesting before or after dinner.

                      I guess breakfast is the weakest meal as it's on a weekday. We were really hoping for one of those places that just does awesome French toast and omelets in a cute little setting. Every city seems to have them, and I'm sure TO does too, but only on weekends.

                      1. re: grimaldi

                        Toronto definitely needs to step up its weekday brunchy brekkie options - but you have a few choices. I really, really like Lady Marmalade and I think it fits the bill for what you're craving. Good coffee too. Other options - Gilead Cafe (airy cafe - though food is more yoghurt, granola, pastry, oatmeal type, not french toast), Saving Grace, Bonjour Brioche, Bar Centrale. I think all of these spots open at 8am on weekdays (later for Saving Grace).

                        1. re: peppermint pate

                          For breakfast, I'll add Lola's Kitchen, Le Petit Dejeuner and Aunties and Uncles..

                          1. re: TorontoJo

                            I would have added Lola's but when I double checked their website, I saw their hours had shifted - looks like they've added dinners but (sadly) dropped their weekday breakfasts.

                            1. re: peppermint pate

                              Oh, boo! I didn't know that had shifted either. :|

                2. for drinks, Toronto Temperance Society is tops for me right now. it has a membership thing going on, but if you nicely explain your visiting situation, I'm sure they'd let you in. the space is very quiet though. i've found barchef to turn into a weird, loud frat boy lounge at some point and the drinks to be nice but not enough to overcome the atmosphere. spirithouse is my other go to, but they run rather sweet. i find black hoof cocktail bar runs a bit on the bitter side. toca at the ritz is pretty nice, i find their barrel aged gin a fun liquid to play around with and they scotch sorbet they whipped up for me a fun experiment.

                  sorry can't offer some thoughts on the rest.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                    Do you prefer Toca over Deq?

                    1. re: grimaldi

                      i haven't been to the back bar of the ritz. some friends are familiar with the guys at toca so we end up there.

                    2. re: pinstripeprincess

                      TTS is good - but bar Chef is a better experience. Ive never seen it turn in to a loud "frat boy" bar -which is odd that you have because I don't think college and/or university students could afford to drink there.

                      1. re: justxpete

                        "frat boy" as in the grown up ones who haven't grown out of acting like that. the place was a mess. clearly waitresses hired for their assets, messy bartenders, wrong orders, sticky sticky sticky. the place was rammed and playing club music. wasn't that keen on yelling my orders over their phalanx of bottles at the front of the bar.

                    3. Would be interested to know what you opted for and your feedback!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jmeggs

                        If that message was to the OP, his/her trip isn't for another month :)

                        1. re: ylsf

                          As soon as we get back we'll update this thread so you know how things went. We used to go to Toronto all the time, living so close. Now, we're in the States and haven't been back in years. I'm sorry we only have a single day to check things out, or else a healthy weekend would've been just up our alley. Anyway, there are too many good choices and only 3 1/2 meals to play with. Decisions, decisions.