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Nota Bene...worth it?

rstuart Oct 16, 2012 07:11 PM

My mother is coming from Ottawa for her birthday in November, and I am trying to figure out where to take her. I've taken her to Frank's kitchen before the last time she was in town for her birthday, which she loved. She also enjoyed Woodlot, Sidecar, and Grace. For some reason, her favourite restaurant in Toronto is Kalendar... which I have no doubt we'll go to that week-end anyway!
I was considering Enoteca Sociale (which I've been to and really enjoyed), but worried that it wasn't "celebratory" enough for her birthday, so instead booked Nota Bene. It seems fairly pricey, and after doing some reading on the boards, I wonder if it's worth it. Thoughts? Advice? I am starting to suffer from analysis paralysis!

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  1. y
    ylsf RE: rstuart Oct 16, 2012 08:20 PM

    I haven't been before myself but I hear a lot of talk about it having a real "corporate" type feel.... Based on what she likes, I would suggest you consider a smaller spot.. If you are looking to spend in the range of Nota Bene then maybe consider Splendido. Or, wait for other people who have actually been to Nota Bene to let you know :) I know there are fans here and it is on my list of places to try eventually.

    1. jlunar RE: rstuart Oct 16, 2012 08:41 PM

      Nota Bene is fine, a little fancy pants and very trendy/polished in that business lunch way. It's what I'd consider a "safe" restaurant.

      1. meatnveg RE: rstuart Oct 16, 2012 08:58 PM

        Take her to Richmond Station?

        1. CocoaChanel RE: rstuart Oct 17, 2012 04:44 AM

          I don't know if I would bother with Nota Bene...

          The ambiance is ok...

          I was there for lunch about 8 weeks ago or so. The food was meh -- bland, overpriced.

          I had the fish taco salad - the salad itself had no flavour. Taco salad is a bit of a misnomer - it has a few shredded strips of a taco that were deep fried, for crunch. The fish - 2 or 3 small, small piecs of some sort of white fish (maybe 1-1.5oz total) that was deep fried ans greasy -- oil wasn't hot enough.

          My dining companion had the steak frites - the steak was overcooked. twice. (she sent it back; it came back overcooked)

          How about Volos for seafood? - same general area as Nota Bene

          Or Pangea in Yorkville - ot's been about 6months since I have been there for lunch, but the food has always been very good.

          1. m
            magic RE: rstuart Oct 17, 2012 05:59 AM

            I went once a few years ago and haven't been back since. It was ok, nothing great. Not a very warm feel.

            I think you're better off going to Scaramouche, especially for a birthday.

            1. c
              Cat123 RE: rstuart Oct 17, 2012 07:11 AM

              Agree that Nota Bene is perhaps too safe and sedate for a birthday. I personally find it too boring and corporate.
              I like most of the same places your mom does and recently really loved a dinner I had at Keriwa. Mistura is also nice for a special occasion. Also on my list to try are Edulis and Beast, both of which I think would be suitable.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Cat123
                ylsf RE: Cat123 Oct 17, 2012 07:19 AM

                And for the OP don't bother looking up Keriwa unless you want to spend $300 on a prix fix menu. They are no longer doing a la carte dining which is a shame because I really enjoyed my meal there too.

                1. re: ylsf
                  Cat123 RE: ylsf Oct 17, 2012 08:48 AM

                  Wow - didn't know that - this is really too bad. I loved that place but would never think of spending $300 a head there.

                  1. re: Cat123
                    rstuart RE: Cat123 Oct 17, 2012 02:39 PM

                    Eek! No, we're not $300/head type diners.. it would give my poor mother a heart attack! Splendido looks great but I didn't care for any of the current mains, and it's actually a bit pricier than I was looking to spend. Mistura looked really nice, although it is also quite spendy. I am willing to spend it, it will just make her anxious, which defeats the purpose. I am still considered Enoteca though... or I guess possibly Campagnolo? Both closer to me.. this is what I meant about analysis paralysis!

                    1. re: rstuart
                      millygirl RE: rstuart Oct 18, 2012 06:12 AM

                      I'm thinking that's $300 for the both of you not pp.

                      Somone below mentioned LeSelect and agree, great choice. Food and service are both excellent and nice atmosphere.

                      1. re: millygirl
                        justxpete RE: millygirl Oct 18, 2012 07:13 AM

                        No, it's $300 pp, but that's including the wine pairings. Absurd, IMO. Keriwa has always been good, but always over-priced as well. Now it's extremely over-priced.

                      2. re: rstuart
                        prima RE: rstuart Oct 18, 2012 10:53 PM

                        Campagnolo can be noisy. I find it noisier in a more abrasive way than Enoteca (which tends to be loud in an energetic way), perhaps due to Campagnolo's minimalist design and hard surfaces.

                        I was happy with a recent dinners at Cava and Ici Bistro. I've also been happy with my dinners at Biff's over the past couple years.

                        1. re: prima
                          Cat123 RE: prima Oct 19, 2012 09:57 AM

                          I had forgotten about Ici. If space is available it would definitely be near the top of my list.

                2. t
                  todc1996 RE: rstuart Oct 17, 2012 07:00 PM

                  Nota Bene is on diningdatenight.com 30% off the entire bill including booze...makes the prices more palatable...i've never had a bad meal there. i actually find it a nice place to linger and i do find it celebratory....it's a big, open, sleek room. different than your above, previous experiences.

                  1. ComerDemonio RE: rstuart Oct 18, 2012 03:25 AM

                    I am not a fan of NB at all. To add to your paralysis, I would suggest Marben, Le Select, or even Gusto 101. Of these three I like the food and atmosphere at Marben the best. I only put Gusto 101 on the list since she liked Kalendar and I sort of feel that the two places have the same kind of energy.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: ComerDemonio
                      rstuart RE: ComerDemonio Oct 18, 2012 06:08 PM

                      I've been to Le Select, and liked it but didn't love it.. . The menu at Marben does look really good.. do they have good desserts too? We are definitely dessert people...

                      1. re: rstuart
                        ComerDemonio RE: rstuart Oct 18, 2012 06:39 PM

                        I have to say I can't remember ever having had dessert at Marben but I am more savory than sweet and I'm usually too full at the end of a meal to indulge myself further. There are no desserts on their on-line dinner menu so I'm afraid someone else will have to comment.

                        1. re: ComerDemonio
                          rstuart RE: ComerDemonio Oct 18, 2012 07:01 PM

                          Even if we don't go for her birthday, I've definitely added it to the list of places to try!!! I think that I've only ever had brunch there..

                        2. re: rstuart
                          ggom1 RE: rstuart Oct 19, 2012 05:23 AM

                          I haven't been to Marben under the new chef but I really liked the desserts they used to have (and like ComerDemonio I'm not usually much of a dessert person). The ice cream sandwich is fun and they used to do a chocolate dessert in winter that was really good (I remember thinking it'd be something like mousse in a cup but instead it was more liquidy and my overall impression was that it was 'liquid awesome' lol).

                          1. re: ggom1
                            rstuart RE: ggom1 Oct 27, 2012 01:43 PM

                            We ended up switching to Marben.. looking forward to it!

                      2. justxpete RE: rstuart Oct 18, 2012 07:17 AM

                        What about the new "Richmond Station"?

                        The food looks great: http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/ric...

                        Also, Carl did great work at Marben, and won the most recent season of Top Chef Canada.

                        Once this cold goes away, I'm there!


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: justxpete
                          rstuart RE: justxpete Oct 18, 2012 06:09 PM

                          That definitely looks like somewhere I'd like to try Pete!

                        2. Charles Yu RE: rstuart Oct 19, 2012 06:15 PM

                          Just in case you are adventurous and interested, Nota Bene will be serving a tasting as well as a la carte " GAME MENU ", specially designed by Chef David Lee, starting this November!!! Menu will feature Venison, Partridge, Pheasants and more...!

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