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Jan 31, 2014 01:08 PM

NYC Hound's First Visit to Toronto -- Fine dining recommendations

I'm a NYC Hound and am visiting Toronto for the first time at the end of May. The purpose of my visit is to dine at the Momofuku restaurants (Shoto/Daisho/Noodle Bar). I'll be staying at the Shangri-La for convenience to the Momofuku restaurants.

I would love to add one (or 2) fine dining dinners, and have narrowed my selections down to:

Auberge du Pommier

All opinions about the above 3 restaurants are greatly appreciated (including how far away these restaurants are from my hotel since I will need to take a taxi).

Thanks very much!

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  1. First thank you for your many recommendations for NY - currently planning a trip there (again) in March and waiting for the earliest dates at a couple of places you recommend (but don't want to go off on a tangent here).
    Totally agree with Shoto - IMO the best place in Toronto right now.
    For fine dining all 3 of your choices are excellent - but different.
    Splendido at its best rivals and sometimes exceeds Shoto. It has stumbled a bit recently with significant staff turnover and a 'friendly' splitting of the two house partners, with FOH leaving to take the sister restaurant (more approachable downscale) and BOH staying on. This change occurred this month so I'm giving them time to settle in before re-trying, but my last meal, in December was great texturally - it was the service that had slipped. I'd follow the chef anywhere (but don't need to as he's stayed on) Closest of the 3 to your hotel..
    Auberge du Pommier has grown by leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. It's now easily the best restaurant in a small chain, but is 'safe' rather than exciting (based on my last meal there last month). But still very high quality. It's the furthest from your hotel but easily accessible by transit.
    Scaramouche 'goes on forever'. Service is excellent. Food is always good, but one doesn't look for cutting edge - totally reliable.
    I'd suggest choosing any 1 of the three, but they are too similar to hit more than one.

    As a further choice, I'd recommend trying a more trendy or younger place who will show you a bit more of what is 'trending' (although I don't particularly like that word).
    Bar Isabel is the hot place and deserves the kudos - sort of Spanish by-way-of whole beast dining. More of a bar scene than a wine scene but can't argue with the product. Also fairly close.
    On the locavore front, my favourite is Actinolite - but that's a bit further out. Tasting menus only - (a short and a long) based on what is fresh on that day. I always put myself in the chef's hands anyway (before he switched to tasting menus) and with the wonderful selection of ingredients in May, that should be spectacular at that time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: estufarian

      Thanks very much for your very helpful response.

    2. Scaramouche Pasta Bar (don't let the name fool you, pasta is not the focus in this section of the restaurant).

      Fabulous food. Impeccable service. Lovely view. Reasonable prices when compared to most other fine dining spots in Toronto, and less expensive than the "main restaurant" section. Both sections are great, but I simply prefer the style of food served in the Pasta Bar. And it's less expensive so that's a bonus!

      7 Replies
      1. re: magic

        Agreed, but fine dining being requested and all and based on the provided criteria...for consistently well executed plates, Scaramouche (dining room) is your best bet.

        I have seen too many flaws at Splendidio since Lee left, and Auberge is going to be quite a hike for you.

        @ Scaramouche - Gnocci app is fantastic, as is their Foie terrine, he does great fish, but I also love his duck main, and my wife's 'go-to' is their Truffle hand made pasta.

        1. re: Sadistick

          Thank you very much. Auberge du Pommier is now out of the running. I'll be watching the on-line menus of both Scaramouche and Splendido (realizing, as in NYC, some restaurants don't always have their current menus listed) to see which one appeals to me more (love foie gras, duck, soufflé, anything with maple). Since I'll be dining solo, do you think one restaurant would be better for a solo diner (definitely want to be seated at a table since I'll be dining at counters at the Momofuku restaurants).

          1. re: ellenost

            Just so you are aware, the counter seating at Shoto is substantially more comfortable than the current setup at Ko (you get a bit more space, the stools are not as austere and actually have a short back on them)

            1. re: bytepusher

              Ko is scheduled to relocate this year to larger space so I'm hoping for stools with backs. Last night I had the wonderful Kappō dinner at Momofuku Ma Peche that is also a 10 course tasting menu at the Chef's counter and the stools have backs. I had heard that due to the very narrow space at the present Ko, they couldn't get stools with backs since there wouldn't be enough room to pass behind the seats.

            2. re: ellenost

              When the time comes, if time permits and you would like company, I don't mind driving down to join you for a mini-chowmeet. ( may be other hounds like Estufarian would like to join too? ).
              I might need to pick your brain for luncheon and dinner places idea for my upcoming Summer NYC trip with a big group!?!!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Always happy to meet other Hounds! I saw your post on the Manhattan Board; let me know if I can be of help for your NYC trip.

                1. re: ellenost

                  I'll be talking to Charles too about New York.
                  But his biggest area of expertise is the Asian area, particularly north of the city (he has many other areas) and if you meet up with him, you owe it to yourself to travel for that one (or find a friendly downtowner who can give you a lift). Perhaps better handled off-line. Charles last Chowmeet attracted close to 50 participants (over 2 nights) who braved the flooding to head out to the far 'burbs.

        2. I've only been to Noodle Bar here, but can tell you it's fantasic.

          I've been to Ssam Bar in NYC and Noodle Bar here is probably on, or close to, that level.

          Have fun on your trip!

          1. Scaramouche is by far my personal favourite ( most others prefer Splendido). It is perhaps 15 minutes by cab. (Non rush hour). I have never had a disappointing meal there. Get the coconut cream pie for dessert. Delicious and not sweet. It is as large as your head, so sharing is a good idea. :)

            Splendido would be 10 minutes by cab.

            Auberge is quite far north. I have not been in some time, so can't comment.

            1 Reply
            1. re: CocoaChanel

              Auberge is the furthest of the 3, but fear not ellenost, it's not too bad.

              And you can also get there easily by subway.

            2. Thanks for the additional responses. Looks like I'll have a delicious trip to Toronto!