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Nov 12, 2012 03:52 PM

Burlington restaurant suggestions for birthday dinner

I am looking for suggestions for a nice restaurant for my husband's 60th birthday dinner on Nov. 24 or 25 (Sat or Sun). We live in Ottawa, but our sons are at university in Toronto ans Hamilton, and with the Grey Cup on in Toronto that weekend, we thought Burlington would be a good place to stay and celebrate. We are looking for a good meal, nice surroundings, not over the top expensive, preferably downtown. We are very open to Hamilton too. Thanks, this is my first posting to Chowhound.

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  1. I always like the food at Earls at Mapleview Mall, but it can be very noisy there. Other choices would be The Alex on Brant Street, wine is quite pricey, they have small plates so you order 2 -3 servings. All food is excellent. The Alex opened another restaurant in Hamilton call Rapscallion which has a lot of unusual meats on the menu. Another choice is The Bistro on Plains Road near Wendy's, more of an older crowd than young. If you like Greek and want to get large portions and value for your $ for your hungry sons then try Sotiris on Harvester. Many friends are liking Ivy Bar on the South Service Road, I think it is like an Earls. If the boys are looking to get a drink at a happening bar then after to Joe Doggs on Brant. My daughter is in first year at Ottawa U and we are visiting on the 18th so if you have time, let me know what you would suggest. We are big foodies who love to experiment with food and try something different. We have been to Play but that's all we know in Ottawa.

    1 Reply
    1. re: YolandaFitzpatrick

      Thanks for all the suggestions, they are a huge help. Don't want to end up at Jack Astors in Ancaster again like at Easter. In Ottawa our favourite restaurants are Juniper and Domus Cafe for very nice, dependable meals. Domus is in Byward Market area, close to Ottawa U. Juniper is in the Westboro neighbourhood, nice area, quite trendy. Also nice area for more and more restaurants is the Hintonburg neighbourhood, we like Backlane Cafe, not as upscale as first two I mentioned, but good food and friendly. If you like vegetarian, the nicest is Zen Kitchen on Somerset West. It is vegan, very nice decor and service. They were subject of a series on W Network about setting up the restaurant. Other than Domus, all these places are west of Downtown, since we live in West End. We don't eat out frequently in Ottawa, so there are lots of well reviewed places we have never been to. Side Door in market area gets good reviews. Hope this helps!

    2. I would look at Spencer's on the Waterfront, Ancaster Old Mill, Blacktree or Quatrefoil.

      3 Replies
      1. re: TorontoJo

        I completely agree with Quatrefoil (in Dundas), Blacktree and Spencer's.

        1. re: TorontoJo

          +1 for Spencer's (and the rest TorontoJo mentioned). Spencer's is right on the waterfront, beautiful view & great food. Sounds like it fits your requirements.

          If you're open to something in Hamilton, a favourite of ours is Koosh bistro - right in the heart of Westdale village, about a 10 minute walk from the McMaster campus. A much more intimate space than Spencer's (reservations highly recommended); Italian with a unique flair, and always interesting weekly specials.

          I also highly recommend Rapscallion in downtown Hamilton - small plates, "meat-centric" blackboard menu - one of my completely favourite restaurants right now - and great for a special occasion. Dinner for four when we last went was about $200, including a couple of bottles of wine, dessert & coffee. Reservations essential, only open Friday-Sunday.

          There are lots of hidden gems in the area - I'm sure you'll find one and have a wonderful meal together.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            I'd have to agree with can't miss with any of those 4! I'd also maybe throw in the Carriage House in Burlington

          2. For an anniversary/birthday I'd want something memorable - which would lead me to Blacktree (and has done several times). I HATE their website but every meal has beeen special. It's probably the most expensive of those mentioned - but also probably the best.
            And surely he's worth it!

            The posted menu is deliberately understated - the composed salads (in particular) are spectacular.
            Apps $18-20.
            Mains around $40
            Dessert $11
            ALL worth it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: estufarian

              I fully agree with the suggestions by Torontojo and Estufarian. If you were ever to only do one restaurant in the Burlington area - blacktree is the one. I've posted a couple of review over the years... never been disappointed. I would also agree with The Alex on Brant, Spencer's on the Waterfront and Quatrefoile.

              I would not however, agree with Earl's at Mapleview Mall. I found it to be an overpriced, undervalued road house. It is popular with the 20 something hipsters but their cuisine is completely underwhelming. You said you did not want another Jack Astor's experience. Well, think of Earl's like a slightly upscale JA. It is a chain very similar to Milestones - another overpriced, underwhelming chain.