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Please help me plan the ultimate 3-day dining experience in Toronto. Specifics within:

Hello all, I am visiting Toronto and would like to surprise my mother who lives there with an amazing series of dining experiences. So far I have decided on Splendido for Saturday dinner, 360 for Sunday lunch (so she can marvel at the view) and am considering the Sultan's Tent for Sunday dinner (so she can see a bellydancing show). I am trying to think up Monday ideas for lunch and dinner and am coming up short.

Some examples of places I have visited multiple times in the Toronto area and enjoyed include: The Queen and Beaver, Nota Bene, Crush, George, and Rogues, the latter which is in Mississauga. I was pleased with the food and wine choices at these and am interested in similarly good suggestions that will be new to both of us. Examples of what I am not interested in include Panorama (not crazy about the food), chain restaurants (though I do like the Mississauga Ruth's Chris location), or Medieval Times (a wonderful show but the food is not great).

What else I am looking for:
- either a fun experience with competent to above average food (such as my 360 choice above) or a phenomenal taste adventure with impeccable presentation (such as my Splendido selection)
- we both love fish including sashimi, and red wine. Since we will be drinking I prefer locations near public transit for stumbling convenience but I am willing to cab us short distances
- Ideas in downtown Toronto only
- I am in my 30s and she is in her 60s. If there are lounge / upscale bar suggestions, we would like an older crowd and - probably impossible to find in Toronto - classic rock or country music

Also, having never been to the Sultan's Tent, would this be a decent experience or a let down? I really want to dazzle my mother with the most exciting dining experience in her life. She deserves the best!

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  1. For the "meal with a view" dinner, I'd recommend Canoe over 360 - not only is it one of the best in the city for food, the view is pretty good too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: non sequitur

      The problem is that Canoe is closed on the weekends

      I got dragged to 360 a while ago and while the food was better than the complete tourist trap crap I was expecting it was pretty average. If you still want to go with the experience I would have a plan B if the weather is poor, no point in paying for the view on a rainy day.

      Skip Sutan's Tent, Instead Tabule apparently sometimes has belly dancing and the food there is much better, there's nothing about the dancing on their web site so you will need to call them for the details.

      If your mom is actually interested in Belly Dance I would check the events listings on http://www.discoverbellydance.com to see if they have something on for your surprise weekend, the site lists mostly classes but they do two Gala shows a year and have much more casual "belly dance haflas" at the dance studio every couple months, the latter are very casual, the audience just sits at the back of the studio, some of them on the floor but the quality of the dancing is quite good and there are homemade Egyptian snacks at the intermission.

      1. re: bytepusher

        Tabule does have belly dancing at both locations on Sat night. Hands down SO MUCH better than Sultan tent. Really whatever you do, don't go there. Please.

    2. Where are you and your mother from?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

        My mother is in Toronto and I am in Halifax

      2. Sultan's tent is horrible. Don't go.

        If I were taking someone to the 'ultimate 3 day dining experience' in Toronto, I'd probably take them to Splendido, Bar Isabel, Edulis, and/or Shoto. Since you've already selected Splendido over Shoto (and I would do the same), you might want to go to Daisho at the Shangri-la for lunch. It's a neat space. If you're insisting on going somewhere with a view, I would go to Canoe over 360. But, I'd probably just go to the CN tower separately and skip both 360 and Canoe all together.

        2 Replies
        1. re: justxpete

          Agree with you justxpete - but Bar Isabel I have been told by friends who went is incredibly noisy, so the OP's guest, who is in her 60's, might not enjoy that.
          I would vote for Scaramouch - very civilized, and also Chiado, both expensive but both worth the civilized dining experience. She's worth it, and she won't come away with tinnitus! And yes, take her up the CN Tower, and have a drink up there, but leave the dining to places at ground level.
          Unfortunately, all the "hot" places in Toronto are incredibly loud - I'm amazed that the staff don't put in ear damage claims to WSIB.

          1. re: KitchenVoodoo

            You make a good point. Bar Isabel is significantly noisy. And yes, Scaramouche would make a good sub the view.

        2. I concur CN Tower is really not worth the food. The Chase Scaramouche and Stock all have views of the city. I have not dined at Stock, but I would place Scaramouche ahead of the Chase in terms of quality of service and food. Edit - I am assuming a meal with a city view is a priority.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Apprentice

            Fortunately the OP knows Toronto but I still must add that the Scaramouche view is nothing compared to 360 or Canoe.

            1. re: chowfinder

              I'm just giving options for far superior food - with a "decent" view, since 360 is not a choice I would make (to each his own of course). As noted by bytepusher, Canoe is closed on weekends.

          2. My favourite place for the most scenic view of Toronto is Toronto Islands. I think a fancy picnic is best, but a Monday lunch at The Rectory could be great (they are open 7days a week now) - it'd be quiet and I think the views both on the ferry and at the restaurant are always precious and make me love the city just a little bit more.

            Like others, I would highly NOT recommend Sultan's Tent. The food is bad and service horrendous.

            For live entertainment, and if you both enjoy seafood, I would recommend Lisbon by Night on Dundas W. It's rather "homey" than "upscale" but the food, atmosphere, and service are all much much better than ST. They have live music/dance every friday and weekend. I was there more than a year ago, and really enjoyed my seafood bisque, the hospital staff, and the live fado entertainment.

            1. The only other venue I can think for an elevated view of Toronto is Stock @ the Trump Towers. I would suggest doing the Sunday brunch as I believe people have expressed positive reviews in the past when I was looking at Sunday brunches.

              If you like fish, have you tried Chiado? It's a wonderful Portuguese restaurant that specializes in seafood. It's really quite great and the service is top notch.

              Would your mom like to have a hibachi dinner? It's a 'show' and they would have a lot of fish selection in addition to sushi should you be interested. There's the Benihana in the Fairmont Royal York and also there's one in Yorkville, Yamato. It's been a long long time since I went to either one but I do remember Yamato being more traditional and better quality but less 'flare' or 'Las Vegas gimmicky'.

              1. I'd opt for Osgoode Hall or Hart House Gallery Grill for lunch if either of them are open on the Monday that you'll be dining. Jacobs could be an option for Monday night - they have a piano bar and you can still order the full menu if you sit in the bar. Or maybe JaBistro for lunch/dinner - if it's nice weather, they have a patio.

                1. If you can get into Edulis, it would be my top pick. It is small and casual but definitely more "cozy" and not bar-like and loud. I am only in my 40's and already too old for Bar Isabel (great food but I do not want to stand in line for food or have to eat with a circus going on around me - been there, done that, I'm not 20 anymore!). If your mom likes tapas, Cava also has terrific food and is a much more civilized experience (although the interiors of Bar Isabel are admittedly gorgeous and Cava is a little bland looking). If she likes Italian, Buca is also excellent and though it is not really a "show", the people watching and the style/servers are fun.

                  1. what a nice idea!

                    we took my MIL to 360 for her 65th birthday (her request). the food and service were mediocre. HOWEVER, more importantly, my MIL got dizzy from the movement. sooooo... not sure you'd want to take your mom there.

                    i concur with the other hounds ... canoe is lovely. tell them what your plans are when you book and the staff really go out of their way to make you feel special.

                    and please don't take your mom to sultan's tent! ick.

                    1. I would go up the CN Tower for the view and then consider the Sunday Brunch at the Ritz or even Deq.