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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!

              1. ellenost, please do let us know how you made out.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                  My trip is scheduled for the end of May, and I plan to report back. Thanks again!

                  1. re: ellenost

                    Scaramouche and Splendido.......hands down. You can get ADP style food anywhere in NYC, but these two spots will impress!

                    1. re: franpelyk

                      Do you have a preference between the two restaurants?

                      1. re: ellenost

                        I find the menu and plating at Splendido to be more innovative than the menu and plating at Scaramouche, but I've found the food I've ordered at Scaramouche to be more delicious than the small number of dishes I've ordered at Splendido (I've only dined at Splendido once, almost 2 years ago). I would think Splendido is probably the board favourite for fine dining and tasting menus, but I prefer the food and service at Scaramouche, despite its somewhat dated atmosphere.

                        1. re: prima

                          To me delicious trumps innovative, but when I find the rare restaurant that can blend the two, I become a major fan.

                            1. re: prima

                              I agree with prima. I've only been to splendido once, I said at the reservation that it was birthday (they're 3 days apart) and our anniversary. The service was proper, but wrong (gave us the wrong water, seated us where they were aerating wine, at my shoulder etc.) My main was good at first, but inedible half way through. We played $350 for that meal and I still kick myself for it. We would have been better off cooking at home. It was really disappointing.

                              1. re: LexiFirefly

                                Having been a half dozen times or so, the majority of which while Lee was still at the helm and while those encounters were always top notch, on the same level as a Scaramouche or an Auberge of the world, the same cannot be said for the few visits since Lee's departure; during which numerous execution flaws were clearly evident.

                                Besides one small miss step in the past dozen+ visits to Scaramouche (which was promptly resolved) while they do not offer extreme innovation (innovation itself is relative and one could argue they are in fact, innovative), they do offer consistently well executed techniques and ultimately, an excellent end product.

                  2. I'd probably drop Auberge from your list and follow Estufarian's advice and try something that is more uniquely Toronto. Auberge is "correct" but ulimately uninspiring. Bar Isabel and Actinoite are great choices for something more uniquely "Toronto". Edulis is worth considering too.

                    43 Replies
                    1. re: WillinTO

                      Based on watching the Munchies episode on Momofuku and the chefs visit to Edulis, I'm wondering whether I should change my dinner reservation from Splendido to Edulis. Understand that I won't be able to get the pressed duck (does look wonderful), but thinking about the 7 course tasting menu. Would appreciate people's thoughts. Thanks.

                      1. re: ellenost

                        How far out are you? If you contact Edulis in advance they may be able to get you the duck.

                        I think Edulis offers something unique that you can't get in done better NYC so I would advocate switching your reservation. Which isn't to say that Splendido is a bad restaurant, it's not, but it wouldn't compete with the high end in NYC. Edulis is a different kind of restaurant.

                        1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                          My visit to Toronto is in about 5 weeks, but I understand that the restaurant requires a party of 3-4 to order the duck which won't work for me since I'm traveling solo. I had read that Edulis and Splendido ranked very high on your Toronto survey.

                          1. re: ellenost

                            Yes. Both rank highly.

                            Splendido is a more traditional fine dining restaurant. Local ingredients cooked with good French technique and a few modernist touches. You've had this kind of food in New York done better. Which isn't to say that Splendido does it badly - it does it well - but it's not a unique restaurant or something particularly different from what you get back home. It's more of a one Michelin star restaurant than a two or a three.

                            Edulis is something different. It's not as haute as Splendido. It's like a Toronto version of a French or Spanish countryside restaurant in an expensive auberge. Excellent and rare local ingredients, older style cooking with very good technique but still with a rustic edge. More European in style than New American. Professional but less formal service. It's hard to think of an NYC analogue. I think Edulis is better than Splendido, but others find the opposite.

                            My view would be that if you want something less common, in North America at least, then Edulis would be your choice. If you're looking for a more familiar, higher end experience, then your choice is Splendido.

                            I hope that helps.

                            1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                              I appreciate your very detailed comparison. I may switch my reservation to Edulis. Thanks very much.

                              1. re: ellenost

                                You originally asked about ‘fine dining’. Splendido qualifies – Edulis doesn’t – it’s more farmhouse.

                                I’ve tried Edulis 3 times and none of the meals were memorable although they were mostly respectable. It’s a ‘good local place’; family run. I hear the tasting menu is a better bet than the a la carte, and I find that believable based on my a la carte experiences.

                                If you step outside ‘fine dining’ I’d suggest Bar Isabel (it’s NOT a bar, despite its name) if you can get a reservation. It’s much more typical of what is happening in Toronto right now. Both Bar Isabel and Edulis are a short taxi/transit ride from your hotel. Or you could walk to Richmond Station which is also an advance reservation, although I don’t particularly like the room.

                                Or to confuse the issue even more – a 15-20 minute cab ride will get you to a couple more places that might interest you.

                                Chiado is a very fine dining restaurant (sorry no tasting menu) that IMO is the finest Portuguese food I’ve had anywhere. It actually appears more ‘French’ in both service and prices, but is authentic. I find the modern style dishes better than the traditional ones.

                                Actinolite is still ‘under the radar’ but IMO (after Shoto) serves the best tasting menu in Toronto. It’s super seasonal, so its winter menu was a bit boring – but you’ll be here in May when the pickings will be much more interesting.

                                1. re: estufarian

                                  Sorry for the confusion, but I didn't want to start a new thread. Watched the Munchies episode showcasing Momofuku and the chefs' visit to Edulis. Even though the Momofuku visit was for the pressed duck which I wouldn't be able to order as a solo diner, I looked at their menu, and it looks quite good. When I saw that Edulis was very highly rated by the Toronto Board, I began to wonder about switching my dinner at Splendido to Edulis. Thanks for your recommendations.

                                  1. re: ellenost

                                    No confusion - just trying to emphasize that they are completely different styles. I hope a few others chime in with their views. I have only been to Edulis with 'foursomes'. As a single diner your experience might be different.
                                    I'm sure everybody here wants to maximize your enjoyment of our great city.

                                    1. re: estufarian

                                      Estufarian I was reassured by your opinion on Edulis - I've only been there once, with a foursome. We ordered the whole a la carte menu because it gave us more dishes to try than the tasting menu. The food was very good and the evening pleasant, but so far from mind-blowing that I've been confused by all the glowing recommendations. I would also think Splendido or Chiado would fit the bill better (or presumably one of the newer hotspots, just haven't got to those myself yet…).

                                      1. re: estufarian

                                        This is good discussion.

                                        estufarian and I disagree over the relative merits of Edulis - I've had the carte blanche, he hasn't, which may matter but I don't really think it does - but we both agree that it's a very different experience than Splendido.

                                        It is more "fine dining" or at least a bit more formal than the other places estufarian mentioned. I think it's much better than a good neighbourhood place, but serves country style European food at a very high level. Few places I've been to in North America do that. My last meal there in the fall featured a rabbit sausage with foie served in a reduced stock with foraged mushrooms. A rustic plate for sure, but also very well made technical food, with luxury qualities. They're willing to use very high end ingredients - truffles, foie, etc. - on this kind of menu like, well, a European country hotel.

                                        Really, the only way to decide whether it's totally awesome like I say or merely quite good as Estufarian says is to give it a shot.

                                        1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                          I agree wholeheartedly. I've eaten there 8 times, and had both a la carte dishes and the tasting menus. For anyone suggesting it's a simple ''local" place serving "respectable" food is beyond me, especially when they haven't experienced the tasting menus.

                                          1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                            But it's not a fine dining place either. It's unique, if only because it's so traditional.

                                            1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                              Sometimes people get swept away by fancy molecular food or fancy table cloths. I don't need innovation everywhere I go, just well executed food made with a high level of technical skill.

                                              1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                Yup. And great technique + great ingredients is hard to find. And this isn't "figs on a plate" New American food either; it's very eurocentric, meaning things like proper sauces, foie and truffles, real suckling pig (St. Canut, stunning), etc.

                                  2. re: ellenost

                                    When will you be in town, Ellenost? I suspect that a few Chowhounders would happily join you to share the pressed duck, if you are so inclined. I haven't yet been to Edulis, but if I'm in Toronto at the same time as you, I'd jump at the chance to sample the dish. I live a few hours from Toronto, but I'm in town every couple of weeks or so.

                                  3. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                    In my opinion Edulis is kind of like the Toronto's version of London's 'St. John'. Both serving rustic, tasty food that's kicked up a notch. Offals, marrows, whole animals...etc. However, Edulis food is less refined and rough with an edge. It is definitely NOT fine dining though!

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      I'm thinking now that I'm not as interested in a "white tablecloth/classical background music" dining experience as I might have been when I originally started this thread. What I am most interested in is food executed extremely well that is both delicious and creative with service both attentive and friendly. With this clarification, how do Splendido and Edulis compare? I do appreciate everyone's opinions. Thanks.

                                      1. re: ellenost

                                        As I hoped, a discussion on Edulis has brought out the differing views.

                                        What perturbs me is that my impression differs from many palates I respect (and also, of course, some others agree). Clearly there's a Jekyll/Hyde personality to this restaurant.

                                        As to ingredients, I'm surprised at the boosters - I found the opposite. Maybe fresh - but certainly I didn't detect premium.

                                        For me, the best dining includes (as well as taste) complementary aromas, and an attempt to include texture variation within the dish. Neither of these two preferences of mine were satisfied at Edulis (although I can accept a proposition that a 'family' run restaurant should not be required to fully realize these), so it entered my 'OK' category - nothing was really bad.

                                        My biggest disappointment was the upsell (don't recall the price) for some 'freshly grated truffles' to be added to a dish. VERY strong recommendation from server/owner saying the truffles were particularly good.

                                        First, the truffles were added/grated in the kitchen (not the biggest deal, but if an 'extra' charge then I'd have liked them served at the table) but the MAIN criticism was that they had ZERO (emphasized) aroma. I know Eastern European truffles at a 'bargain price' have been made available to local chefs - and these were likely sourced that way. If one is not using 'accepted' origins, then the customer deserves to be told about this. In addition I found similar veggies/sides served regardless of dish ordered (understandable if low cost/neighbourhood.

                                        Simply put I expected more for my money!

                                        OK soapbox over!

                                        Much as I love Splendido (for me, it and Shoto are the go-to places for fine dining), there are multiple similar places in New York. So given the choice between the two for a visitor from Manhattan I'd choose Edulis.

                                        But if asked to recommend places for that same visitor, Edulis wouldn't be in my top 10 (or maybe 50). #1 would be Chiado (which IS white tablecloth/classical) but provides an experience I haven't found in Manhattan.

                                        1. re: estufarian

                                          I'm scheduled to dine at a well-regarded Portuguese restaurant named Louro in Manhattan. It is not "white-tablecloth" restaurant, more rustic/casual. You may wish to add Louro to your list of restaurants to try when you are in NYC (unless you've already dined at Louro).

                                          1. re: ellenost

                                            Louro is already on my list. Actually had it reserved earlier this month (was in NYC for a Madeira event), except a last-minute reservation opened up for Ko, so I switched. But the menu didn't strike me as particularly Portuguese - more International (or perhaps lack of focus). No mention of espada (or espetada for that matter). And a strange lack of cod dishes, surely a staple on every Portuguese menu - although admittedly it's not a favourite of mine anyway.

                                            Incidentally meal at Ko was excellent, although quality varied by dish. More variable than Shoto, but higher highs and lower lows. But wine pairings were the best I've had there.

                                            1. re: estufarian

                                              At my last dinner at Ko (mid-March) I was seated next to the sous chef at Louro, and I promised her that I would try the restaurant again (had tried it last year for one of their "nossa mesa" dinners (uni was the theme), but I found it too crowded but liked the food. Louro is the restaurant in NYC that's receiving the most attention for being Portuguese (but it sounds like it's more Portuguese-inspired).

                                              As you can imagine, Shoto is the "jewel in the crown" for my dining in Toronto. I am very much looking forward to see how Chef Mitch has evolved his menu. Actually looking forward to seeing how all of the Momofuku TO restaurants have evolved from their NYC counterparts. Really enjoyed seeing Chefs Sam and Mitch in the Munchies episode since I got to know both of them from Ko (and Chef Sam also from Ma Peche--too bad Chef Sam will be away on vacation the week I'm in Toronto). It's as a result of viewing this episode that I became curious about Edulis.

                                            2. re: ellenost

                                              Chiado serves a few traditional Portuguese dishes, as well as relatively simply prepared, flown-in-from-the-Mediterranean seafood. Chiado's atmosphere and service-style is much more formal than Louro's.

                                              When I've dined at Chiado, I've preferred the simply prepared fish and shellfish dishes to the more traditional Portugese mains that Chiado has chosen to keep as standards on their menu. http://www.chiadorestaurant.com/menus... I love Portuguese food, but I prefer Portuguese mains offered at Montreal's upscale Ferreira Café, which I try to visit almost every time I visit Montreal, to the few Portuguese mains I've tried at Chiado. Of course, this is just a matter of taste. I regretted ordering the assorda at Chiado on my last visit, which I found heavy and boring. I have enjoyed all the Portuguese desserts I've tried at Chiado. For top-quality, flown-in from the Mediterranean seafood in Toronto, I've been happier with the flavours and preparation at Joso's, a restaurant in Yorkville serving traditionally prepared, Croatian-style seafood.

                                              I would think Aldea (which I haven't tried yet) is more similar to Chiado than Louro in terms of more formal service and atmosphere, but Aldea's menu and atmosphere is still considerably more contemporary and progressive than Chiado's. Chiado doesn't change its menu much, and it, along with Scaramouche, is one of the last fine dining restaurants with relatively formal service in Toronto that has stuck with its own formula, and hasn't followed the trend of somewhat more casual, upscale dining.

                                              I loved my meal at Louro last spring. I would think Bar Isabel might be closer to the Louro experience, but I still haven't made it to Bar Isabel. Bero is another Iberian-influenced, contemporary option that has been well-received by this Board.

                                              I haven't found restaurants that I'd compare to Louro in Toronto. While I like Patria and Cava, which offer some contemporary dishes influenced by Spain, and would include both in my top 20 restaurants in Toronto, the flavours in the 7 or 8 dishes I tried at Louro wowed me in a way I haven't been wowed in Toronto in a long time.

                                              1. re: prima

                                                Late comer to the conversation. I have been to Chiado and Aldea and never to Louro. My guess is their websites paint a pretty accurate picture of the differences of each restaurant. Ellenost has stated a lack of interest in white table cloth/ classical music background type fine dining. My experiences at Chiado with the food have been mixed. The menu even 10 years ago felt dated. I don't know if they have changed much, but it seemed the menu was designed to limit the amount of staff needed in the kitchen. Main courses all shared the same vegetables and starch. The fish may be top quality and perfectly timed but the accompaniments are an after thought and in no way support or elevate the main ingredient. A poached pear at Chiado is basically just that and straight out of the fridge.
                                                Aldea on the other hand was, as noted, more contemporary. I would happily chose Aldea over EMP or Jean George. I still dream about the arroz de pato and it is this type of rustic dish, which has been elevated to fine dining quality, which I find more interesting and lacking at Chiado. So my two cents is skip Chiado.

                                                1. re: dubchild

                                                  Agree, if ellenost is not interested in a white table cloth dining, I'd probably skip Chiado. Whatever music was playing last time I was there was in the background and not memorable, sort of the equivalent of fine dining Muzak. The service is on the more formal, 'old schoo'l waiter side for Toronto.

                                                  I agree that relatively little thought is put into the accompaniments, which I also noticed was also the case at a number of traditional, finer dining restaurants in Lisbon and Porto. For me, the way to get around this, is to make a meal of the first courses and/or tapas from the Senhor Antonio menu, which doesn't currently seem to be posted on their website.

                                                  When I order dessert at Chiado, I always order the Natas do Ceu, described as "delicate creme layered on crumbled lady fingers soaked w/almond
                                                  liqueur, topped with egg nectar", or Molotof, described as "light meringue of egg whites served with vanilla cream sauce", since I poach pears quite frequently at home. Poaching pears is a great way to use any leftover Port.

                                                  1. re: prima

                                                    What is this 'leftover port'? I'm not familiar with it.

                                                    1. re: estufarian

                                                      Maybe I should have written "Poaching pears is one more way to enjoy Port."

                                                      1. re: prima

                                                        +1 for Cafe Ferriera. It is excellent.

                                                2. re: prima

                                                  I was hoping you'd jump in here as I knew you'd been to both Louro and Chiado.

                                                  My biggest learning is - I must go to Ferreira Café!

                                                  I also like Joso's for fish - I rank Joso's and Chiado as my best (upscale) fish experiences in Toronto - but recently have always chosen Chiado - different fish choices, plus Portuguese wines are among my favourites.

                                                  And sorry I dumped Louro at the last minute. The only meal I had 'free' was Sunday lunch before flying home and the Ko lunch is the best around - Louro will be a weeknight on my next trip!

                                                  1. re: estufarian

                                                    Ferreira also has one of the best Port collections in Canada, estufarian. They import some Ports that can't be found elsewhere in Canada. And the pasteis de natas are baked to order.

                                                    1. re: estufarian

                                                      I still have to give Ko's lunch a try. :)

                                                      1. re: prima

                                                        Ko is relocating to a different and larger space, soon, really soon, by some accounts it was supposed to have happened already but that was wishful thinking

                                                        I'm certain it will still be excellent but it will not be the same thing

                                                          1. re: bytepusher

                                                            If you've ever been stuck at the seats furthest from the entrance, it can only be a 'good thing' that it's not the 'same thing'.

                                                            1. re: estufarian

                                                              After 50+ dinners/lunches at Ko over the past 6 years, I've probably sat in every seat. To me they're all fine. Looking forward to their new location, but will miss the original location (it is my "home away from home").

                                                        1. re: estufarian

                                                          The best analogue to Chiado in NYC or Montreal is probably Milos - hyper fresh fish flown in from Europe and cooked very well.

                                                          1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                            I love Milos, but I find it to have a completely different experience than Chiado.

                                                            Milos serves simply prepared, Greek-style seafood, as well as good quality lamb and vegetable dishes, in a casual yet upscale, somewhat minimalist taverna setting. Chiado offers a more formal dining experience, with some relatively fussy dishes, in addition to the simply prepared seafood. Chiado comes across as more conservative and traditional restaurant to me.

                                                            The simply-prepared, flown-in, market priced, high quality seafood at Milos is comparable to the simply-prepared, flown-in market priced high quality seafood at Chiado, but I don't think the restaurants have anything else in common.

                                                            I think each restaurant's chosen
                                                            website design successfully conveys the vibe/atmosphere/experience/Chef's approach I've experienced at Milos http://milos.ca/restaurants/montreal/... and Chiado http://www.chiadorestaurant.com/.

                                                            1. re: prima


                                                              But the wheelhouse of both restaurants from a culinary perspective is the seafood. Milos has composed dishes as well.

                                                              I would say that Milos is a better comparison in terms of what you're going to eat at Chiado than Louro or Aldea (definitely Aldea).

                                                              1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                                That depends on what one likes to order. The food at Milos would only compare to the food at Chiado if the customer was sticking to the simply-prepared fish at both Milos and Chiado (or Joso's or Ferreira Café).

                                                                Chiado doesn't serve most of the dishes I usually order at Milos.

                                                                I believe I mentioned upstream that the food at Chiado is nothing like the food at Louro.

                                                                Happy Easter!

                                                          2. re: estufarian

                                                            Looking at Louros menu online, the only portuguese reference I see is Piri Piri shrimp. In the about section Louro is defined by its chef (who is Portuguese) as North American cuisine.

                                                            So not really a Portuguese restaurant in any sense of the word besides the chef being of Portuguese descent, no use comparing it to Chiado, Aldea or Cafe Ferreira who wear their Portuguese influences on their sleeve.

                                                      2. re: estufarian

                                                        We really, really disagree here. I found no upsell at Edulis and ingredients were near the top - St. Canut pig (rare outside of Quebec, true suckling, EMP uses it sometimes), Chantecler rouge chicken, excellent butter, foraged mushrooms, etc. Never done truffles there, but I've heard they use perigord for black when available.

                                                        There's no excuse for an upsell to poor truffles, however.

                                                        1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                          The truffles I've had there were definitely Périgord.

                                                          1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                            Please remind me of the season for these - I'll try and match up with my visit to Edulis.

                                            3. re: ellenost

                                              The pressed duck is incredible. The best duck dish(es) I have had besides EMP. If there are other TO hounds willing to join you, I highly recommend it. Otherwise, go for the carte blanche.

                                          2. Hello ellemost,
                                            If you can find the time, addition company and transportation, I would suggest you bring along a nice bottle of off dry J.J.Prum or Scharzhofberger Riesling and head north to Richmond Hill and/or Markham for a great Cantonese meal!! Nothing like that in NYC!!
                                            A Kabinett or Spatlese would go fantastic with the 'O Mei lobster dishes - especially the sauteed tail with House Special Secret Maggi Sauce!

                                            The Scaramouche, Splendido, Auberge...etc all have their similar NYC equivalents. Think The Modern, Rouge Tomate, Bouley...etc.
                                            However, If you have to pick one from the group, I would go with Splendido. Apart from good food by Chef Barry, they also have some 'interesting Canadian Riesling' in their wine list!!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. I heartily agree with what estufarian has to say.

                                              To be honest, my feeling about fine dining in Toronto is that our "best fine dining restaurant in town" class hasn't recovered from David Lee leaving Splendido and Susur closing up shop. Scaramouche kind of slid into that spot by default, as a lovely, workmanlike fine dining restaurant and Splendido seems to be pushing all the time but keeps having the economy and other factors fight against it. Shoto left me very flat a December; one of my two big disappointing meals of 2013 - both from very famous high end restaurant groups. I thought that Daisho was the best restaurant in the terrordome, but haven't made it over since Blondin's departure. Unfortunately (major opinion alert), I simply don't see much value in Western fine dining here if you can spend those dollars elsewhere, like in NYC, Chicago, Montreal or SF. I'm sure that's a minority opinion here.

                                              As with what estufarian has mentioned, our real strength now is in a growing mid-to-upper-mid-range. Bar Isabel is my favourite - two meals there in the past two weeks have reconfirmed that (there's a honey and sobrasada crostini with honey where they do the Ko-shaved foie overtop that's just insane). They keep improving the menu and, yes, the winelist has been upgraded (though I always enjoyed the winelist).

                                              More in the fine-dining style, Edulis is my other pick. It's in a lovely, very Toronto style location down a quasi-residential street on the first floor of a house and cooks a kind of Franco-Spanish-cum-Southern-Ontario kind of food that I find very resonant. Very little, if any, modernist touches or presentations, but good saucing, excellent charcoal cooking and some of the city's best ingredients handled with a delicate touch. It's also a restaurant that's unafraid of using traditional luxury ingredients like truffles and foie, but in a more elemental, rustic way than at the more fine dining restaurants. They also have a duck press, which is sweet.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                I almost feel guilty (it passed quickly) in adding something after your kind compliment, but my last 2 meals at Shoto have been amazingly good. I think it's now grown out of its 'Ko' shadow and the food is now distinctive from the parent (although clearly the same style). It's been a couple of years since I last visited Ko but it's a short-list candidate for April this year.
                                                And I find Edulis more home-style than fine dining - but I know I'm in a minority on that front.

                                                1. re: estufarian

                                                  I'm in agreement with you that Shoto is fully out from under Ko's shadow and to my taste is superior at this time, my last two meals at Ko (in 2013) while good were missing something, it's too strong to say they were going through the motions but it was headed in that direction, hopefully the reboot into the new space (which may have happened by April, but is by no means a sure thing) will reinvigorate things there.

                                                  I'm also with you on Edulis and I think Michael Caballo no less would agree with you, it's supposed to be country cooking inspired by Spain and France and a little bit of Italy. Doesn't make it less delicious though, some of the best meals I've ever had are the backwater country/small town places one manages to squeeze in between the fancy ones.

                                                  1. re: estufarian

                                                    I've only been to Shoto once in December, so I'm hesitant to state anything unequivocally, but I found that there were a number of conception and execution problems within the meal. I think the elements of a great restaurant were there, but it wasn't cooking as a great restaurant on my visit. The pairings, though, were very smart and very good. It's much more comfortable than Ko.

                                                    Edulis is a bit odd. It's got a lot of elements we associate with fine dining - pressed ducks! truffles! fancy meats! multi-course menus! - but it's really serving a rustic, European style cuisine (if I wanted to be really flattering, it's a more proper and Protestant tribute to the kind of Europhillic cooking you find in Montreal). The family style courses drive this home, but it's more "fine dining" than, say, Black Hoof or Hopgoods. I find it more traditional in terms of service than, say, The Grove, but more fine dining? What does that even mean, anyway? Regardless, it and Isabel are the two restaurants I hold out to tourists as really getting Toronto right now.

                                                    Not going to get to Ko on my next NYC trip in a couple weeks, unfortunately. It'll be a quirkier slate (and I can give you the rundown for your trip planning, should you want it).

                                                    1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                      Obviously this isn't the place to discuss this. If you go to my profile you'll find a contact address. I have a medium-short list and would appreciate any comments (and probably relevant, several were recommended by ellenost on the Manhattan board).

                                                2. Splendido is the most consistent, innovative restaurant in Toronto. If you want the best that TO has to offer, the answer is easily, and comprehensively, Splendido. You might also consider Shoto, but since your NYC Ko is only arguably better, you may want to deviate.

                                                  They are currently ramping up their food and service after a recent decline - and by the time you visit in May, they should be at the peak of their performance once again.

                                                  Scaramouche is great, but essentially boring.

                                                  Bar Isabel and Edulis are also each definitely worth visits, as others have mentioned.

                                                  18 Replies
                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                    Thanks for your feedback. Shoto and Daisho are my #1 and #2 reasons for visiting Toronto since I regularly dine at Momofuku Ko and Momofuku Ma Peche in NYC, and am a long time fan of both Chefs Sam Gelman and Mitch Bates from their tenure at Ko (and Chef Sam also from Ma Peche).

                                                    I may end of trying to get reservations at both Splendido and Scaramouche to do my own evaluation since they both sound wonderful.

                                                    1. re: ellenost

                                                      Ah - my apologies. I got caught up in the discussion and missed that in your initial post. 'Ko' was just 'here' a couple of weeks ago for a guest visit (one night only), and they did indeed produce some amazing dishes.

                                                        1. re: bytepusher

                                                          Chef Peter Serpico (formerly from Momofuku Ko) opened a restaurant in Phildelphia named "Serpico". I was in Philadelphia last week and had the 10 course tasting menu for US$85; it was excellent. Very creative and delicious. None of the dishes on the tasting menu are on the a la carte menu and are a bit more cutting edge. Service was excellent too.

                                                          1. re: ellenost

                                                            Different Peter, I was referring to Peter Jensen who moved from Ko to Shoto with Mitch

                                                            1. re: bytepusher

                                                              Sorry for the confusion. Hope to see Peter Jensen at Shoto when I dine next month. He was also very nice to me when he was at Ko (actually, everyone at Ko has been very nice to me for the past 6 years--guess that explains why I'm such a big fan of the Momofuku restaurants).

                                                        2. re: ellenost

                                                          Just wanted to steer you to other possibilities
                                                          Here's David Chang's opinions on several things Toronto.


                                                          The restaurant that DC visited most frequently is owned by a regular poster here, who doesn't typically promote his place. It's walking distance from your hotel and regularly hits the Chowhound Toronto Top 10 list.
                                                          More in the Ssam category, but it's also in my top 10 Toronto restos. So strongly recommended also.

                                                          1. re: estufarian

                                                            Thanks for the article, and now I understand a "tweet" that I received.

                                                            1. re: estufarian

                                                              OMG!! David Chang is a fan of 'Asian Legend'?!! If that is his yard stick for measuring those type of Chinese cuisine, guess someone has to bring him up to Markham/Richmond Hill to show him the REALLY good northern Chinese stuff!!

                                                              Chowmeet with David Chang anyone?! Ha!

                                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                I read the linked article cited by est'n http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/...
                                                                David Chang comes across as a bit of a barbarian.
                                                                Why does he do so well financially? That he gives the people what they want isn't an answer: what do the people want as presented by DC?
                                                                What do you think of the pie recipe in the article?

                                                                P.S. I made a mistake. The pie is Chang's but it appeared in another article. Here is the link. http://pradaforbreakfast.wordpress.co...

                                                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                  Have you ever eaten at any of David Chang's restaurants? Honestly, this post (among many, many others on this board in particular) is the reason I've stopped wanting to contribute. I read this and my upcoming move to Belgium doesn't seem fast enough.

                                                                  1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                    No. That is why I am asking. If I had eaten at a M. I would be telling not asking.
                                                                    So please tell me.
                                                                    Your departure to Belgium will be a great loss to all of us.

                                                                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                      David Chang is a chef and he likes to swear. In fact, I have a big potty mouth myself and I'm far from a barbarian. Why not try Chang's food for yourself? That's the only objective way to determine whether you will like it.

                                                                      I'm pretty certain my departure to Belgium will be completely inconsequential to anyone on this board. But thanks.

                                                                      1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                        I wasn't referring to the swearing.
                                                                        I can excuse the swearing. Perhaps he is otherwise inarticulate, he grew up watching too much TV, Tourette's or whatever. Who knows.
                                                                        I did not ask whether I would like the food. I asked for opinions as to why he is so successful.
                                                                        I looked at the recipe for the pie in the article. I think that I know what it is and I can't say that I would be eager to make it.

                                                                        Your departure to Belgium matters if only because of your potential return. Please do come back and teach us if only a small part of what you have learned there.

                                                                        P.S. I made a mistake. The pie is Chang's but it appeared in another article. Here is the link. http://pradaforbreakfast.wordpress.co...

                                                                        1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                          On the contrary chowfriend! Every departure means something to this fraternity and this board! My experiences with the Asia board is a great example! A perfectly interesting board disintegrating and fragmented in front of one's eye by departure of key members!

                                                                          Anyways, farewell and enjoy the Moules and Frites, Chocolate and Waffles! If by chance you are in Brussels, in addition to eating in the Brussels 'institution' - Comme Chez Soi. do try out the 2* 'Sea Grill', lovely and elegant seafood! I also had a most enjoyable meal at the seafood bistro - La Belle Maraichere. Because it was fall, I had some great 'game' there. Venison and Elk! Yummmm!

                                                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                            Thanks Charles. Your input and knowledge on the great Canto food in the North end of the city has been invaluable on this board. In fact Asian food is what my husband and I will miss most when we leave Toronto.

                                                                            We are moving to Brussels. But I'm most looking forward to eating at In de Wulf in Dranouter.

                                                                            1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                              BMS, I hope you and your husband find some Asian restaurants you like in Brussels. I haven't ordered Asian food in Belgium, but I have been lucky to enjoy some delicious Chinese and Japanese meals in Paris and in northeastern France. While the handful of Chinese meals I've had in France might not have compared to the very best of Richmond Hill, the food was better than any Chinese food I can find in Ontario outside the GTA. Au Plaisir d'Orient, Hong Kong Delight and Beijingya look like good places to start in Brussels (ChristinaMason, a frequent poster on the Home Cooking Board, mentions some specific dishes she liked http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7151... )- they certainly look more interesting and more promising than Chinese restaurants I've found lately in southwestern Ontario. :)

                                                                              1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                                Strongly suggest checking out the 1* Chinese place in Antwerp Lam and Yin. Really solidly executed food.

                                                                                In de Wulf should be fantastic as well.

                                                                                Ciel Bleu in Amsterdam is also very fun.

                                                            2. Thanks to everyone who replied. I just called Splendido to find out when they start accepting dinner reservations for May, and the very nice gentleman said he could do it right now, so I'm booked for dinner at Splendido. I promise to report back.

                                                              1. As I'm reluctantly getting ready to leave your lovely city, I thought I'd report back that I dined at both Scaramouche and Splendido (in addition to Shoto, Daisho, Noodle Bar, and Khao San Road).

                                                                I much preferred Splendido for the food and service. There was nothing "wrong" with Scaramouche. Service was pleasant and attentive. Food was very good (foie gras terrine/lobster special/lemon cream dessert). I was seated at a very nice table with a lovely city view. Unfortunately nothing "wowed" me.

                                                                On the other hand, as I entered Splendido, the GM, Jeff greeted me with "you must be Ellen". After that and for the next 3 1/2 hours, I was made to feel like a welcome friend and not some visitor to a new city. I chose the longer tasting menu, and everything was delicious and creative. Splendido's sommelier was delightful.

                                                                Bottom line: Splendido would be the restaurant to which I will return when I visit Toronto again.

                                                                Thanks for everyone's recommendations.

                                                                12 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ellenost

                                                                    Can you shed some light on the menu and dishes? I've not had a chance to try the menu in its current iteration as yet.

                                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                                      I'll give a detailed post with photos after I get home. Having my final (for this trip) meal at Noodle Bar savoring the delicious smoked chicken ramen that we don't have in NYC. Here's a photo. Thanks again to everyone!

                                                                      1. re: ellenost

                                                                        I'm sure you have them in NYC - but make sure you have the rice cakes if you're there.

                                                                        Glad you enjoyed your visit.

                                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                                          Noodle Bar secret - the kimchi stew with rice cakes is always available as an off menu item.

                                                                        2. re: ellenost

                                                                          I'm glad you had a good time.

                                                                          The smoked chicken ramen is so disappointing though... One note broth, poor texture noodles, eh toppings except the egg which is so common now that it doesn't surprise or please.

                                                                          Even when I'm really in the mood for ramen and eating at Noodle Bar, I force myself to avoid it and pick other options (like the kimchi stew).

                                                                      2. re: ellenost

                                                                        The following is my menu and photos at Scaramouche:

                                                                        Amuse (sorry can't remember but it was very good)

                                                                        Foie gras terrine, duck breast pastrami, French figs, pickled grapes, sea salt brioche, sour cherry syrup, maple jelly

                                                                        Lobster special (1 1/4 lb removed from shell), gnocchi, white asparagus

                                                                        Lemon cream, yogurt sorbet, blood orange segments, elderflower jelly

                                                                        Very much enjoyed my dinner at Scaramouche, but in comparison to my other meals (both lunch and dinner), it was the "safest" of my meals (this was a term used up thread). Service was very nice and attentive. Water glass was refilled every time it reached the halfway mark. Food was executed extremely well. Flavors were excellent for the foie gras and lobster. I found the dessert a bit weak. I know I should have ordered the coconut cream pie, but I've never been much of a fan of any cream pies.

                                                                        1. re: ellenost

                                                                          The following is my menu and photos at Splendido:

                                                                          I chose the 10 course menu (even though I had promised myself to go with the 5 course menu after a very delicious and filling unplanned lunch at Khao San Road). I was asked whether I had any allergies, to which I said I had no allergies, but requested no sweetbread, rabbit or olives (really hate olives).

                                                                          Snacks: cornet (be careful, it leaks on the table from its stand requiring (not by me) a napkin being placed on the table to cover the stain); salmon cracker; oyster; prawn; scallop (beneath the shell in the photo).

                                                                          Smoked oyster, potato and chive (did not get the caviar supplement).

                                                                          Green asparagus, pickled egg yolk, oyster espuma and lemon (the most creative egg in shell presentation).

                                                                          White asparagus, preserved lemon, morels and creme fraiche.

                                                                          Bolero carrots, ginger, coriander seed and pumpkin oil.

                                                                          Victor's foie gras parfait, rhubarb, pistachio and brioche.

                                                                          Pickled trout, ramps, cultured cream and fennel.

                                                                          Beet dish (not listed on the restaurant's menu and didn't take notes).

                                                                          Scallop (think it had black olives). Least favorite dish. This was a substitution for the sweetbread dish.

                                                                          Rib eye cap (my favorite beef cut), cipollini, porcini mushroom, sweet onion purée and veal jus.

                                                                          Perrier Robert cheese. (Adore soft/runny cow's milk cheese)

                                                                          White asparagus and white chocolate mousse, candied lemon, goat cheese and goat yogurt sorbet (no discernible asparagus flavor-only shaped liked asparagus).

                                                                          Petit fours.

                                                                          I chose a 1/2 bottle of Reichsgraff Von Kesselstatt 2001 Auslese from Mosel that paired beautifully with my meal.

                                                                          Excellent meal, and my second favorite bested only by Shoto.

                                                                          1. re: ellenost

                                                                            Additional photos of the beet dish and ribeye cap.

                                                                              1. re: ellenost

                                                                                There is no actual white asparagus in that dish. It's a play on it. (Victor and I had this dish together a couple weeks ago)