Dinner for my bday: Ursa, Hopgoods or Grove
Help me decide on my birthday dinner. I want to go somewhere I haven't yet been, and have narrowed it down to these three. Price does not matter, just looking for great food, friendly service, and nice ambiance. Thoughts?
First, Happy pre-Birthday!
I think it depends on what day of the week you are going, and if you have plans after dinner.
Assuming these are your final three choices, I would say,
Ursa - if you want an innovative culinary experience, fun liquor pairing, and you have plans After dinner, since you probably won't be too full.
Hopgoods - if you embrace good, comforting carb, more meat oriented protein, knowledgeable bartenders on beer.
Grove - if you have picky diners (as they do a very good job cater to clients' needs), and if you want more of a family style dinner (it reminds me of Avec, Chicago) and if you need a place more to yourselves.
If it were my birthday and wanted to try something novel, I would vote for Grove. They are young and fresh. Not always consistent, but always fun, and never gives off that 'trying too hard' vibe.
All three serve relatively good food but none strike me as an ‘occasion’ restaurant – they’re essentially all neighbourhood places.
I’ve been to all three this year (with mixed results), but for a birthday, I’d probably step outside these – maybe Acadia – which is a completely changed restaurant now that Patrick Kriss is the chef. The food is lighter and more elegant. If you haven’t visited since the chef change, consider it as a place you haven’t visited.
In the order you mentioned them:
Ursa: Two visits, both examples of how not to treat the customer. Food was actually pretty good. Service was so bad the first time, took 6 months to try a second time (despite good food) and on subsequent visit the food was much worse and service slightly improved. But, packed so something’s attracting the people!
Hopgood’s: Probably the most casual. So much hype for the donair that I actually avoided this place until recently (despite the chef’s pedigree – having eaten his food several times before). But finally made it (ignoring the donair) and probably the most neighbourly of the three. Food was excellent (although portions are a bit meagre) and if it was in my neighbourhood I’d be a regular. Friendly, comfortable and casual. I will return.
Grove: Two visits – one when they first opened when everything was ‘fine but unmemorable’. Then went back to try again after their recent accolades, to find they were equally consistent. If you like it – great! But nothing I’d go out of my way for. Service was also quite good. Portion sizes also slightly smaller, but comparable to Hopgood’s.
fair enough, all. I guess I just go out every weekend wherever I want, whether that be splendido or burgers priest, so I am more interested in going through my ever growing list then revisiting but now that I think about it, I might have changed my mind.
So, three places I have wanted to revisit since the changes there are Acadia, Yours Truly and Keriwa Cafe. Now, of my 6 choices, which would you choose? (or is there another spot you would suggest?) We are going to edulis next week, I recently visited Momofuku's Shoto, Bestellen, Franks kitchen, grand electric, chantecler, barque, parts and labour, scaramouche, george etc. so none of those.
I know what you mean by wanting to try a neighbourhood restaurant for a special occasion. There are so many places that I walk by everyday and always curious about.
Of your six choices, I would (still) rank The Grove and Yours Truly as my top favorites.
On my last visit to Yours Truly (early Nov.), I opted for the vegetarian menu for the first time. I was totally blown away - splendid job on utilizing all aspect of the fall harvest. And I bet if you tell them it's your birthday beforehand, you are going to get an extra special dessert offering.
As for The Grove, last time I was there with one other companion, we shared 3 apps, 2 mains, and 1 bottle - 0 dessert. I was full. I agree that the food is not 'mind-blowing', but it's a quaint little neighbourhood gem, and it rarely gets too full, hence the more intimate atmosphere.