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Your best reccomendation in Toronto

Hi. We'll be in Toronto for 3 nights starting April 27. I'll be honest and say that due to a pretty busy schedule, I have not done much restaurant research yet. We are staying at the Four Seasons and plan on having a light meal at the bar the night we get in. Other than that, we have no restaurant plans which is not really like us. At this point, we would usually have at least a short list of places to try. That said, what would your best reccomendation be for dinner? Budget is not a problem, nor is type of cuisine, though Italian is our favorite. We live in New Jersey in the US but do most of our dining out in Manhattan. Thanks!

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  1. There are so many great restaurants to choose from and I am sure there will be plenty of people jumping in to offer suggestions, so I will give you a couple of my favorite Italian places to consider: Campagnolo and Ascari enoteca. Both are pretty popular so reservations recommended. Enjoy your time here in the city!

    1. Unfortunately, most of the places near your location are more noted for high prices than for quality – but if budget is no problem……

      I have one solid recommendation (cab needed) which is Chiado – a Portuguese restaurant that is French in everything but the food itself. I find the ‘modern’ rather than ‘traditional’ dishes to be better, but everything is well-prepared. Their Portuguese wine list is spectacular (but pricy) – overall the finest Portuguese food I’ve had anywhere (including Portugal).

      Others may differ, but I’d avoid Italian here. They just don’t match up to Manhattan.

      Another choice is Momofuku Shoto – if you’ve been to Ko in Manhattan you’ll know the format, but the Toronto version has developed its own personality and is every bit as good as the original (OK maybe the wines aren’t as good!).

      And if you want a place for a leisurely lunch, on the third floor of the Holt Renfrew store on Bloor(near your hotel) there’s Holt’s Café. It’s an oasis in that area. Not cheap but full value.

      2 Replies
        1. re: canadianbeaver

          I can't do it, but if you can do this, do this.

          Burns is the chef at Luksus in NYC. I had a great meal there in February - creative, technical, delicious. He's a Canadian guy and cooked for years at Noma, Fat Duck and Momofuku Labs. This is a great opportunity to try the food of a great Canadian chef for those with the time and cash.

      1. What are you looking for trendy, funky or old school classy? I am assuming that since you are staying at the Four seasons price is not too much of an object... Also keep in mind a good number of restaurants are closed on Mondays so double check that when deciding.

        3 Replies
        1. re: pourboi

          Thanks for the responses so far. We will have a car, so traveling out of the neighborhood is not a problem. As for ambiance, "old school" classy is always fun, while "funky, trendy" is not really our scene anymore; I just find that to be a bit of a turnoff actually. Our favorite restaurants here in Manhattan tend to be somewhere in between: Gramercy Tavern, Union Square, Maialino, Otto and all the Eataly restaurants, for example.
          Also, don't let our staying at the Four Seasons fool you. Off-peak rates are actually reasonable, especially for the smallest rooms. :)

          1. re: ttoommyy

            Note Bene (https://notabenerestaurant.com/) is at University & Queen, it is classy and is always rated high. They also just opened up a sister restaurant that is their take on Southern BBQ called Carbon Bar (http://www.thecarbonbar.ca/). Mondays they have a gourmet Fried chicken special.. I would stick to some of their no-traditional BBQ items as the chefs "fusion" food is top notch.
            Canoe (http://www.oliverbonacini.com/canoe.aspx) is at the top of an office tower and has a great view over the lake and again is rated near the top of every Toronto list. They also have some "local" Canadian dishes that you may like to try...

            1. re: pourboi

              These all sound wonderful and from what I can see on the map, not too far from our hotel. Thanks.

        2. When you say 'we', how big is your party?

          If you have a car, then choices can be infinite!!

          If you are open to ALL cuisine and price is not a problem, I will definitely try out some 'GREAT CANTONESE FARE'!! New Jersey is great for Northern, Shanghainese and Taiwanese Chinese food. But their Cantonese food, though good, by America standard, pales in comparison to Toronto's.
          If your party has more then 3 individuals, I would head north on Don Valley Parkway/Highway 404 to Richmond Hill and try out the 'Giant Lobster 3,4 0r 5 ways' at 'O Mei' or the relatively new and classy ' Yang's Seafood, Markham'. Both of which, I have reviewed and gave thumbs up to! As far as I know, nothing like that in New York, all the way to San Francisco!!
          If you don't want to drive that far, at least have a 'Dim Sum' lunch at 'Lai Wah Heen'. Better Dim Sum than the Michelin 1* Hakkasan!

          18 Replies
          1. re: Charles Yu

            We are just 2 people, but I will check out your suggestions. Thanks.

            1. re: ttoommyy

              Splendido, Scaramouche, Nota Bene.

              Buca is by far my most favourite high end superb Italian in the city.

              For casual mid-range Italian in a nice setting I really enjoy Terroni on Yonge Street just north of your hotel (5 minute car ride, 15 minute brisk walk).


              1. re: GRobin

                "Buca is by far my most favourite high end superb Italian in the city."

                Coincidentally, I just found out my husband already made reservations at Buca. Thanks! :)

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Excellent. I hope you enjoy it! Don't miss the nodini -
                  warm bread knots, olive oil, rosemary,
                  garlic, sea salt to nibble while you peruse the menu.

                  1. re: GRobin

                    I saw those on the menu and just could not get past the idea of the horrible garlic knots they serve here in the US at pizzerias. I'm sure (I hope!) they are much better than those though. lol

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      Oh no, they're nothing like that! Trust me!

                      1. re: GRobin

                        LOL I didn't really think so.
                        I am so happy that my husband went ahead and already made this reservation and it has been recommended here as well. Looking forward to my visit to Toronto; believe it or not, I have never been to Canada at all.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          I love the appetizers/first courses(esp crispy pigs' ears, nodini and carpaccio) and pizze( which I'd consider a little closer to a crispy flatbread/pastry than flatcrust pizza) at Buca, but I've been underwhelmed by the pastas and desserts I've tried. Maybe another Chowhound could mention recent pastas they've enjoyed at Buca. The pastas I've ordered/tasted have always sounded amazing in concept, but fell a little short.

                          sample menu from last fall (maybe someone can mention recent seasonal hits) http://buca.ca/buca_sample_dinner_men...

                          If you go to Holt's Café for lunch, they serve a great chopped salad (which I realize is healthy/boring if you're visiting from NYC, but great main course lunch salads are few and far between in Toronto!). http://s7d9.scene7.com/is/content/Hol...

                          I like the eggs benedict at Café Boulud (at your hotel), and I was happy with the one dinner and dessert I had at Café Boulud. I haven't dined at D Bar, yet.

                          If you're looking for seafood/Mediterranean food and don't feel like heading to Chiado, the seafood at Joso's, a Croatian seafood restaurant located at Avenue Road and Davenport, is of a similar high quality, and it's located within a 10 minute walk of the Four Seasons. The décor is eclectic and a little cluttered. I really like the grilled octopus and the spaghettini Leonardo, with octopus, shrimp and white wine. If you like squid ink pastas or risottos, they're also offered at Joso's. http://www.josos.com/menu/#dinner

                          I'd probably head to Scaramouche over Nota Bene, if I was visiting from NYC. I'm saying this as someone who has dined at Nota Bene more than a dozen times, and Scaramouche only thrice. Scaramouche offers valet parking (since you mention you've got a car), and it's located within a 10 minute drive of your hotel. Scaramouche serves high quality contemporary/continental food with Canadian sourced seasonal ingredients when possible, and the view is beautiful and memorable. Atmosphere-wise, Scaramouche is one of the few old school classy restaurants to be found in Toronto these days, apart from our old school classy steakhouse Barberian's.
                          dinner menu http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com/...
                          dessert menu

                          Hope you and your husband enjoy your visit, ttoommyy!

                          1. re: prima

                            Thanks! Will look into your suggestions. Much appreciated!

                            1. re: prima

                              I echo the rec for Scaramouche.

                              We are headed there tonight - I really like what they have done with their menu from a seasonal aspect (from what I see online).

                              I was curious however as it said that someone OTHER than Froggat was the Chef in the dining room - wonder if something has changed....

                              1. re: Sadistick

                                I ate at Scaramouche for the first and only time in February and was not that impressed. At that price point I would far prefer Jacob and Co.

                                I know lots of people who have enjoyed the pasta bar, though.

                                1. re: TeacherFoodie

                                  If I lived in NJ, and dined out in Manhattan frequently, as the OP mentioned the OP does, I probably wouldn't choose to dine at a top quality steakhouse like Jacobs & Co while visiting Toronto.

                                  I'd think dining at Scaramouche is a distinctly Torontonian experience, with its view of the city, that makes it a good choice for visitors to Toronto who are visiting from cities/regions with quality steakhouses.

                                  1. re: prima

                                    Yes, a steakhouse is not really what we are looking for. Thanks.
                                    btw...I'm a he. :)

                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                      Oops. I'm so sorry, ttoommyy. I made the correction.

                                      1. re: ttoommyy

                                        I was just saying that I wasn't that impressed considering the price. I wasn't recommending that the OP should replace it with a steakhouse.

                                    2. re: TeacherFoodie

                                      If you preferred a steak house, you should have said so!

                                      I had an excellent meal at Scaramouche last night, their app special of hand made fettuccine with baby east coast shrimp, spring peas, wild spring onions and an uni sauce was sublime.

                                    3. re: Sadistick

                                      What exactly did you see?

                                      Here is what it says on the "about us" page:
                                      KEITH FROGGETT
                                      EXECUTIVE CHEF/PARTNER

                                      And on the main page: KEITH FROGGETT
                                      Keith is considered one of the country's finest chefs and has presided over the Scaramouche kitchens for more than 25 years.

                                      Now I know what you are referring to: on the menus& recipes ->restaurant page it mentioned the chef: CAROLYN REID

                  2. I would recommend Jacob and Co. and Richmond Station - my favourite meals in Toronto. I have also enjoyed Buca, Campagnolo, Ascari Enoteca, and Queen Margherita Pizza (my favourite pizza in the city).

                    1. Our dinner at Buca was last night. It was wonderful. The food, the service and the space were all perfect; it was exactlly what we were looking for. I don't have time right now to go into a full review, but a few outstanding things we did have were the lambs brains, pasta with duck offal ragu, a selection of salumi and for dessert, the zuccotto, which was amazing. Thanks to all who recommended Buca.
                      We got to chatting with our server and asked her for a recommendation for tonight. Scaramouche, which has been suggested here, was one but that is not the type of meal we are looking for tonight. Her favorite is Bar Isabel though, which looks perfect for us for tonight. Any comments on this restaurant? Thanks!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        God luck with a reservation - typically booked weeks ahead.

                        1. re: estufarian

                          Good to know. Never thought about that. Is there a bar where we can eat? What about walk ins? Thanks!

                        2. re: ttoommyy

                          If there is a wait , there's a great Scottish pub called The Caledonian just a bit west of there. One of the best scotch selections in the city for a pre or post drink!

                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            So glad you enjoyed Buca. I was hoping you'd post your thoughts. If you can go to Bar Isabel early, then absolutely try for walk in availability. It's so crappy out that you might luck out. Also worth considering are Bent and Actinolite. Enjoy.

                            1. re: GRobin

                              I wanted to expand a little on our night at Buca. We are home now and I keep thinking about it. That's how good it was! Someone in this thread mentioned how coming from eating at Italian restaurants in Manhattan that I might be disappointed in Buca. No way! We eat at a lot of the better Italian restaurants in NYC and while we have a few we love, there are none quite like Buca in its combination of menu, space and vibe. If we lived in Toronto, we would be there at least once a month. The only other Italian restaurants I can compare it to are in San Francisco.

                              On a side note, when it came time for the pasta course, things were taking a bit long, but as we were enjoying the night we did not say anything. The vibrant Italian gentleman who had seated us stopped by at one point to let us know our pasta would be out shortly. When it did arrive, my husband noticed that his was not as hot as mine was. You could see the steam coming off of mine, but not his. While it was no where near cold, it was not very hot. My thought was that it was held while they were finishing mine. He's not one to complain, but I am of the mind that a restaurant should at least know when there is a misstep. That said, I did let our server know and she immediately offered to have the kitchen remake the dish. We declined as the pasta was absolutely delicious, just not at the right temp. It really did not bother us. She apologized again and that was the end of it, as it should have been. When it came time for the check, we noticed that my husband's pasta was not on it. Nothing was said; it was just done. THAT is a sign of a very good restaurant that understands customer service.
                              On the same note, while my husband went to the restroom and took a little tour of the restaurant (that salumi room is wonderful) I did a little watching of the workings of the restaurant, being a big fan of the industry. I noticed the couple at the table to our right had ordered one pasta to share. While the kitchen did not split it the waiter did it at the table. He meticulously portioned it out using a fork and tablespoon, twisting each individual portion into a perfect "nido" (nest) as he did so. Yet another sign that Buca knows what it is doing.

                              I may sound over zealous about our night there, but we were quite impressed by the food, service and ambience!

                            2. re: ttoommyy

                              Bar Isabel is one of my fav spots in Toronto right now. If you go early, you should be able to snag a seat at the bar, as they do have walk in spots available.

                              1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                How early?

                                Thanks to all for your responses. We may just eat at dbar here at the hotel depending on the weather. We got pretty waterlogged seeing the sites earlier today and dinner without travelling is pretty appealing right now. We ate at dbar the first night we were here and it was excellent. We had steak tartare, country pate, boudin blanc and a rhubarb tart for dessert; all delicious.

                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                  We wound up eating once again at dbar and it was terrific. We split the chicken galantine, the lobster salad and the merguez sauasage. For dessert, we had the warm baked Madeleines. All was top notch as was the service. What better way to end our stay in Toronto than eating great food, watching the NY Rangers lose and enjoying a great vibe at the bar!

                                  Thanks again to all!!!