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Feb 25, 2014 05:10 AM

if michelin came to Toronto

So the SO and I were talking about this, who would chowhounders recommend? We had a short list going and these are mostly based on reviews from you guys, but I'd love to hear what more experienced hounds think!

Splendido (despite our not great experience)
Bar Isabel (with some tweaking)
Sushi Kaji (I think that's the one I'm thinking about)
Kaiseki hi-Zen hashimoto

Not in Toronto
Langdon Hall
Statlander's (spelling?)

I'll edit my mistakes in a few minutes. :) Lets try to keep this positive! We bash our city enough without bringing it into a hypothetical, maybe list! :)

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  1. Several of the above fall short on their wine list - which is a consideration for 'fine dining'.
    But in the spirit of 'worth a visit and maybe a detour' I'll add:
    Auberge de Pommier,

    33 Replies
    1. re: estufarian

      I agree with the wine, but it's a fairly easy fix, with the right resources, which is why I included them. We have a decent amount of sommeliers in this city, I'm not sure why fine dining places can't up their wine lists.

        1. re: estufarian

          I think that the owner's wine knowledge more than makes up for the lack of Sommelier.

      1. re: estufarian

        Given that Michelin gave 3 stars to a restaurant in NYC that was BYO only at the time I think we can assume that wine list isn't the criteria it once may have been.

        1. re: bytepusher

          Based on that restaurant's wine list now, it should lose a couple of stars! They discontinued BYOB at the time I visited.

          1. re: bytepusher

            I think long and well cured wine lists and fancy environments are no longer mandated requirements for a Michelin star. It used to be but I've seen and been to a few 1* places that are lacking in environment and wine. My favourite example of that is the Hong Kong hole in the wall dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wan.

            Anyhow, I do wish Canadian chefs and restaurants get recognized eventually by Michelin but I believe another CH'er (Charles?) mentioned that consistency is needed and that is the Achilles heel of a few Toronto restaurants. Michelin reviewers go back many times to see if they are giving the same 'wow' factor over and over again.

            I wonder if Omei's lobster would enough to garner some attention... perhaps not a star but at least a few 'bows' in their charming category.

            1. re: Nevy

              I agree (though I question whether some of those places deserve their stars). Toronto has issues with both consistency across menus and across visits.

              My honest opinion is that we're very strong in the sub-Michelin star range, but our upper-end food scene isn't good enough (with a couple exceptions) yet...

          2. re: estufarian

            Shoto, yeah, but probably only a single. I actually think my best Daisho meals were probably one star, but it's not an star-worthy restaurant.

            I really don't see George - my meals there have been poor at best. Dated (ie. not classic, but 1990s dates), inconsistently executed, mediocre ingredients.

            Isabel is a favourite as it does what it does better than anywhere else (my opinion of course), but I don't think it's a starred restaurant, but if Minetta and Spotted Pig have stars, I guess there's a case.

            Edulis I think would get a single. Scaramouche. Maybe Canoe. I guess there's a case for The Grove.

            Mostly, I think if Michelin came to town, we'd have no threes (maybe Hashimoto, but I haven't been), maybe a couple twos (though most of our potential twos strike me as good ones), and a small handful of ones.

            1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

              If Michelin award Hashimoto 3*, then ALL the 3* in Japan will give back theirs' in protest!! Ha!
              Whilst by Toronto standard, Hashimoto is consider good and unique but it's Kaiseki is no where close to the splendor and standard offer by 3*s in Kyoto, Osaka or even Tokyo!!
              Here lies the HUGE problem!! How does one 'normalize' the stars worldwide?!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                For sure. You could say that about a lot of over here-over there comparisons (French 3 stars in NYC vs. French 3 stars in Paris).

                Like I said, I haven't been to Hashimoto, but, on paper, it looks like our most reasonable candidate for three.

                It's hard to find the multi-star candidates here.

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  Michelin is not fair. It should have a separate category for cities in which the restaurants specialize in steak, salmon and chicken breast.

                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                    Ok Vinnie... that quip was deserving of at least 1 star :)

                    1. re: Nevy

                      Toronto needs Michelin three star restaurants like Czarist Russia needed the Bolshoi Ballet.

                    2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                      But even though TO restos specialize in offering steak, salmon and chicken breast on 4/5 menus, sadly, our salmon can't compete with the salmon being served in Vancouver, where it also turns up on 4/5 restaurant menus with steak and chicken breast. And our steak doesn't compare with Calgary's, yet another Cdn city specializing in the trifecta. I do think our salmon is better than the salmon found in Regina, and our TO chicken breast is usually better than the chicken breast served in Ottawa.

                      1. re: prima

                        Disagree on steak. The Alberta stuff is overrated - cumbraes best is competitive with creekstone and other top us producers. It dominates the canadian comp.

                        1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                          I'm not talking about the AB beef vs Cumbrae's beef vs US beef. I'm talking about the quality of the preparation of steaks in Calgary vs Toronto. I think your average Calgarian restaurant kitchen cooks a better steak than your average Toronto restaurant kitchen. YMMV. I do think Toronto restaurant kitchens are better at vegetables than Calgary restaurant kitchens.

                          1. re: prima

                            I actually think Toronto does steak better than most cities in Canada. More restaurants in TO cook better than most restaurants in other cities. Of course, it depends how you like your steaks cooked. And, I also think Cumbraes is better than any other producer in Canada as well.

                            FYI, I spent 9 months living in Calgary.

                            1. re: justxpete

                              Yessir. We're talking about a pretty rarifies group here as well. Maybe the day to day beef is better in Calgary, idk.

                              1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                Maybe. I don't know either. I tend not to eat common product

                                Calgary does a few things better than us though - schawarma, and Bahn mi being two of them. Oh, and Stampede is a riot.

                              2. re: justxpete

                                I agree TO does steak better than most cities in Canada, as does Montreal, Calgary and Winnipeg. I guess the difference for me, is that steak is often the best thing to eat in Calgary or Winnipeg (or Saskatoon or Regina), whereas Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal do all sorts of other dishes well, so I rarely would choose steak over other foods when dining in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal.

                                FWIW (not much),I spent longer than 9 months living in Calgary. LOL. Should I also mention my cousins are ranchers who do not supply Cumbrae's? Or that a kid I used to babysit worked in a slaughterhouse? LOL.

                                You eat more steak than I do, so I'll defer to you.

                                1. re: prima

                                  Mention whatever makes you feel good - but yes, I eat more steak than most. :)

                    3. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                      Hashimoto may qualify as a 1. Splendido (at its best) and Shoto might be 2's, but definitely 1s. Grace in Chicago just got a two, and Splendido has been better in the past.

                    4. re: estufarian

                      I have nothing more to add, just that your list and Lexi's list would be good candidates. Perhaps the only one missed would be Edulis, but I know how you feel about it! ;)

                      1. re: justxpete

                        I don't recall any Michelin stars serving family style meals!

                          1. re: Apprentice

                            Yes, and I've been to a 1* Michelin Indian resto in London, in fact!

                            1. re: justxpete

                              Yeah I know they exist, there are 3 in NYC - but i wanted to know what Estufarian classified as "family style"

                              1. re: Apprentice

                                I mean that if two (or more) people, at the same table, order the same dish, then a single platter containing both portions is served.
                                The extreme example in Toronto is Ruby Watchco, where there is no choice anyway. But at Edulis this also happens - even if the diners are diagonally opposite (two visits where this doubling up occurred).
                                I guess 'orders for two' e.g chateaubriand, also technically qualify, but that's clear when ordering.

                                At Indian restaurants, one typically orders dishes to be shared - as opposed to double orders being served on the same platter.

                                1. re: estufarian

                                  Ok thanks I understand your distinction now.

                                  1. re: estufarian

                                    Although this may be technically correct, I think principally, we're splitting hairs.

                                  2. re: Apprentice

                                    You seem well versed in matters of Michelin!

                              2. re: estufarian

                                I'll be pedantic and take a lighthearted comment seriously, but, outside of Asian starred restaurants Craft is the big example of a family style Michelin restaurant. Places like Carbone and Peter Luger would also qualify.

                          2. Hopefully not construed as 'bashing' - I am not sure Bero, Bar Isabel or Splendido (post David Lee, that is) would get a star based on experiences I have had in North American and European 1*+ restaurants.

                            I would however, add Scaramouche and Canoe to the list.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Sadistick

                              Not bashing at all! By bashing I more meant general nastiness or "trolling" if you will. :) also those three were more based on popularity on this board. I even said I didn't have a great experience at splendido, but I knew others would want it on the list. Bero and bar Isabel need some tweaking, as they are still fairly new, but I think they have potential.

                              1. re: Sadistick

                                Scaramouche would be a candidate for 1*, but I can't agree with Canoe. There service is utterly mediocre. The food can be good, however, when not boring.

                                1. re: justxpete

                                  Directly from the guide. Criteria for awarding stars and all. According to the guide, 'service' is NOT a selection criteria. ( Taken with a grain of salt!! )

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    Maybe not exceptional service, but if the service is mediocre, it may have a negative impact. I could be wrong, though.

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      I knew I had read that too. Thanks for finding it and setting the record straight!

                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                        Now I understand better how that HK dim sum place got their star. It certainly didn't look like it had much going for it from the comfort, service or decoration angle. I also suspect it didn't have much of a wine list.

                                  2. in my experience, 2 and 3 star restos are in a clear category.
                                    one star restos on the other hand, have a massive range, with variations on service, dining experience, wine/alcohol programs, and food served.
                                    i think there definitely are restos in toronto that would merit one star consideration.

                                    and if not that, i think a bib gourmand list would generate a lot of interesting dining for toronto.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: afong56

                                      Does anyone know what are the requirements for Michelin? Like many of you based on restaurant visits there does seem to be a range in criteria. Without knowing what they are looking for, based on my visits to restaurants abroad I could argue just about any Toronto restaurant should be included.

                                      1. re: dubchild

                                        No one knows for sure, the chefs have a "guesstimate" of what is required. Watch the documentary 3 stars, I found it interesting.

                                        1. re: Apprentice

                                          I gotta say 3 stars was really boring. Very scatter brained footage, poorly edited.

                                          Whereas this is far better done.


                                        2. re: dubchild



                                          (but not necessarily in that order)

                                      2. This is really great guys! Keep it up!

                                        1. I wonder if we could change this slightly to be "if Michelin came to Canada"

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: justxpete

                                            Go for it, but then it will probably get moved. I thought about it but wanted to see what my neighbourhood hounds thought. :)