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Nota Bene...worth it?

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. 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. 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. Take her to Richmond Station?

        1. 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. 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. 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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                        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

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

                2. 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. 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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                          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

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

                      2. 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

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

                        2. 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...!