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Suggestions for a Saturday birthday lunch, downtown & child/baby friendly

I share a birthday with my best friend and we've always celebrated our birthdays together. As we've aged life changes and they've now got two little ones (2 1/2 and a newborn) so we've stopped the fancy dinners and parties of yesterday in exchange for a low key lunch with a smaller group (6 plus the toddler and babe). Since he's got his hands full I've taken the job of planning this year.

I'm looking for something downtown (hopefully central) that can accommodate us for a Saturday lunch. All cuisines are welcome and we're an adventurous sort but we do need to make sure there are some vegetarian/gluten free options for one guest.

In the past we've had great success at Chinese restos, Middle Eastern and Indian places.

Normally since the introduction of the children to our group our go to is Asian Legend or someplace similar in Chinatown. There is something for everyone, it's loud and I find they are generally tolerable of kids and babies. But I just got this in response to that suggestion "Asian Legend may be too busy and distracting for (toddler) she's more focused when coralled into a booth."

I'm trying really hard to be a nice and understanding childless person but seriously?!

So now we need to add into the equation booths. Or places that aren't "distracting".

So Chowhounders you are my last resort - please help save me so I don't have to go to Marche again for my birthday.

(Suggesting they get a sitter is not an option unfortunately.)

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  1. No booths but Beer Bistro may work.

    1. Here's a reasonable jumping off point if you're concentrating on the gluten-free aspect. Perhaps another could recommend something from the list.
      http://www.glutenfreeontario.ca/toron...

      1. Asian Legend has partitioned private rooms downstairs. Each has a large round table that seats approximately 12 people. To reserve these rooms, you must agree to spend $150 (I believe, please check).

        1 Reply
        1. re: happy_eater

          That's what we've always done in the past - and I love those rooms - I'm not sure why now it's a no go. But that's what it is.

        2. Libretto has great food and is extremely kid-friendly, particularly the Danforth location (which takes reservations). They can make pizza with spelt crust and there are a few gluten-free items on the menu. I've been there many times both pre-baby and with my now 11-month old, and have always found the food and atmosphere great. My daughter loves their pizza, too :)

          1 Reply
          1. re: bunnylicious

            I second this. We go here regularly and last year we were with a larger group with kids... they gave us the table at the bottom of the stairs. It was a little quieter at the time (than it is upstairs) and it allowed us to relax while the kids enjoyed themselves too.

          2. Table 17, Beast, Stockyards, Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches, Delux, Bonjour Brioche, Lil Baci, Luma, Bannock, Lamesa, Barque, Swatow, Rol San, Origin, Mildreds Temple Kitchen, The Rushton, Hadleys, Caplanskys, Farmhouse Tavern, Cafe Belong, Stack, 417. Hope those help :)

            9 Replies
            1. re: AndrewWalshe

              You're kidding right?

              Table 17 was one of the noisiest restaurants acoustically I've been to in a while, something about the way the room is there's this constant dull roar of everyone else's conversations.

              Stockyards? They don't even have tables

              Rol San, that's like the place that's already been turned down (Asian Legend) on steroids

              I think the only one on that list that has potential is Cafe Belong especially if you can request the table that is in the back corner which often seems to have strollers parked at it when we go for lunch, but it's not exactly downtown.

              1. re: bytepusher

                Thank you BP! I started to type a reply and stopped b/c I thought it would be just too snarky but come on! Who thinks that Luma would be a good pick for little kids?!? Maybe Canteen but not Luma - and I don't think Luma even does lunch.

                However, it was actually the Stockyards rec that made me take notice. I mean have you even been in there Andrew? Where would they sit???

                  1. re: JennaBean

                    I have proposed Canteen to the group so we will see - the added bonus is maybe after the kids leave we can go catch a flick! Being able to make a reservation and have space is key.

                  2. re: bytepusher

                    And Bonjour Brioche doesn't take reservations and would be a nightmare for a large group for a Saturday lunch.

                    I don't really think Origin works for little kids either.

                    And Stack isn't downtown.

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      C'mon now, that was a random name generator list of restaurants, couldn't you see that? :)

                        1. re: Chester Eleganté

                          lol

                          Sorry.. that's all I have to contribute. You made me lol, Chester.

                      1. re: bytepusher

                        sorry you didn't mention anything about acoustics. Good point on the Stockyards tables. I like Rol San and Swatow, not familiar with Asian Legend. Cafe Belong's great.