Toronto Restaurants

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Nathan V.
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Toronto Restaurants

#1 Post by Nathan V. » February 11th, 2019, 1:16 pm

Search didn't turn up much, so I thought I'd start a new thread.

Looking to head to Toronto for a long weekend and don't know much about what to expect. Would love to find out about any places that have particularly good wine lists without sacrificing on food.

Given the diversity of the city, we'd be interested in any culinary expression of that diversity even if wine isn't a key component.

TIA.
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C. Mc Cart
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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#2 Post by C. Mc Cart » February 11th, 2019, 2:12 pm

High-end? Mid?
Chris

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#3 Post by Nathan V. » February 11th, 2019, 4:30 pm

C. Mc Cart wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 2:12 pm
High-end? Mid?
We run the gamut and are willing to pay freight if it's warranted. We're maybe not expensive steak house with expensive Napa and Bordeaux people, but we'd go to a steak house if they had Rayas on the list that had never been marked up...
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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#4 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » February 11th, 2019, 5:18 pm

Bar Raval with its Gaudi like interior is nice, but it’s a bar. Good food and sherry.
Locals will have Chinese recommendations.

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#5 Post by C. Mc Cart » February 11th, 2019, 5:29 pm

on the list that had never been marked up...

That and Toronto are super rare if not impossible. Expect almost everywhere to be minimum 2-3x. Sometimes you'll find ally great stuff at less. Especially the older cellars

Not impossible to find something interesting especially with US dollars, but bargains will be few & far between although more likely at the older places like Barberians or Bardi's.
Best lists with good food would include Barberians ($$$$ steak house), Paris Paris has interesting off-beat selections, but not old ($$-$$$ bistro), Opus ($$$$), Terroni, Italian obscure ($-$$), Enoteca Sociale ($$-$$$). Bardi's is a tiny old school steak house with a deep cellar as well.
If you can swing it, a table at Alo or Edulis are worth the effort (or sit at the bar), but both require serious advance planning.
Toronto is actually a great restaurant town. My list above are the stand-by's. Places like Ascari Enoteca, Campagnolo, George, Bar Isabel are all good meals/ nights out.

Hopefully a few guys will add on.
Chris

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#6 Post by C. Mc Cart » February 11th, 2019, 5:34 pm

Tom mentions Chinese. Place along Dundas St. just across from the Art Gallery (AGO) in the middle of (the downtown) Chinatown named Asian Legend. Amazing food, and if you're in the city and don't want to drive an hour to Markham (the largest suburban Chinatown) is close enough to cab or Uber to.
They have $10 corkage. Well worth bringing a nice bottle or two of Champagne or red Burgundy for. Bring stems and a corkscrew though - otherwise you're drinking out of libby glasses.
Chris

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#7 Post by Peter Muto » February 11th, 2019, 6:08 pm

The short answer is that as an American you will be disgusted by every wine list in this city. Bring your own or drink beer, we have some of the best craft breweries in North America.

As for restaurants, I think you just missed Alo, they use Tock and take two months of reservations so through to April is fully booked. Edulis is a little easier but need a month or so. Both are highly recommended.
If you like new nordic ala Canadian Atinolite is fantastic. I think they keep getting better as they mature.
I hear nothing but great things about Brothers, and DaiLo which is a great restaurant emblematic of Toronto, Chinese-French fusion.
I love Buca, they are still doing great things. Dandylion is a great experience, simple decor, stripped down but extremely thought out dishes.
It's hard to beat the view at Canoe which is a classic serving progressive Canadian cuisine.

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#8 Post by RichardFlack » February 11th, 2019, 6:44 pm

Alo has an outpost in Yorkville, I haven’t been but good reports and might be a bit easier to book. It’s regular menu vs tasting menu.
+1 on Edulis.
Actinolit highly regarded by most but I’m personally not a fan, three visits and it lacked the “magic”. (Which Edulis certainly has).
Ascari has an interesting affordable wine list as well as tasty food in noisy setting (had, i should say, I haven’t been for several monks and their sister restaurant Gare de L’Est wine list at a recent visit has been “streamlined”)
Pukka on St Clair W outstanding Indian , a recent discovery for me.
Scaramouche also excellent high end food and wine but not cheap. Their wine bar is affordable.
Hopefully others will chip in with advice on ethnic cuisines, Toronto has amazing variety but you may not find thecwines you seek.

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#9 Post by Nathan V. » February 12th, 2019, 6:09 am

Thanks everyone so far, I'll be looking into reservations as soon as we can get child care nailed down.

From folks responses about wine lists, does everyone allow corkage? Should I bring wine with me from the states (conveniently, I have a wine check) or is there plenty to be found in shops there?

Bonus points if someone can recommend good dim sum.
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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#10 Post by C. Mc Cart » February 12th, 2019, 6:20 am

Not all allow corkage. The ones with the best lists typically do not. Best to confirm ahead of time.
I would definitely bring a few bottles.
Chris

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#11 Post by Nathan V. » February 12th, 2019, 7:24 am

C. Mc Cart wrote:
February 11th, 2019, 5:29 pm
on the list that had never been marked up...

That and Toronto are super rare if not impossible. Expect almost everywhere to be minimum 2-3x. Sometimes you'll find ally great stuff at less. Especially the older cellars

Not impossible to find something interesting especially with US dollars, but bargains will be few & far between although more likely at the older places like Barberians or Bardi's.
Best lists with good food would include Barberians ($$$$ steak house), Paris Paris has interesting off-beat selections, but not old ($$-$$$ bistro), Opus ($$$$), Terroni, Italian obscure ($-$$), Enoteca Sociale ($$-$$$). Bardi's is a tiny old school steak house with a deep cellar as well.
If you can swing it, a table at Alo or Edulis are worth the effort (or sit at the bar), but both require serious advance planning.
Toronto is actually a great restaurant town. My list above are the stand-by's. Places like Ascari Enoteca, Campagnolo, George, Bar Isabel are all good meals/ nights out.

Hopefully a few guys will add on.
So, I started to check out the Bardi's list (http://www.bardis.com/wine-list/) but it doesn't look current. Barberians looks up to date, but you weren't exaggerating about the prices, even with a relatively strong dollar. I suppose there is value at the very top end, but I don't really play there.

My take given this info is that we're better off taking in the diversity of cuisine rather than trying to bargain hunt one of these steak house wine lists which is pretty much what y'all local shave been saying.
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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#12 Post by Peter Muto » February 12th, 2019, 9:29 am

That would be my suggestion. If you want something a little off the wall, Patois is Jamaican-Chinese, and super yummy though anyone over 40 would stick out there.
For dim sum, I'm not an afficiando, but agree with Chris, Asian Legend is great. Lai Wai Heen is high end dim sum with European service and some ingredients (e.g. foie gras)
This is a pretty good list and I don't take much issues with it
https://torontolife.com/food/restaurant ... staurants/
Quetzal is closed right now, it may re-open by the time you visit. Too bad Boralia is closed that was uniquely Canadian.

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#13 Post by Sanjay Shampur » March 14th, 2019, 1:00 pm

These are my favorites

Alo
Edulis
Opus (best value in the city for $100 - $500 range wines), I eat there a lot but play at the lower end of the rage : $90 - $200, and the owners are very knowledgeable
Brothers
Chabrol ( they recently added larger dining room)
Tanto (Spanish/Argentinian)
Chiado (Portuguese, excellent sea food)
Salt Wine Bar (chiado’s More casual sister restaurant)
Ufficio
Veloute Bistro (east end, corkage is$30)
Core Restaurant (new, very good, corkage is $30)
Cava (no corkage Sunday’s, half priced wine Monday’s)
I avoid all Buca restaurants because their wine markups are the worst in the city and they gouge you for every penny

Hope you enjoy your visit

Cheers, Jay

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#14 Post by Jon Chan » March 20th, 2019, 9:53 am

I'll caveat the popular restaurants on this list, with a focus on food:

Alo - without going there but it arguably is the best restaurant in Toronto with international recognition. However, if you've been to a starred restaurant, this sits comfortably at 1 star.
Edulis - it was great for the city. Very homey feeling. Warm.
Canoe - closed on weekends for private events.
Auberge du Pommier - a bit north of Toronto. French version of Canoe. No view.
Dandelyon - it is a focused menu. Really focused. The last time I went it was 3 apps, 3 mains and 2 desserts. Each one of them had a vegetarian option, meaning if you are a meat eater, you are likely going to have at least one vegetarian dish.
Scaramouche - went once, they forgot the salt.

+1 on:
Salt Wine Bar - Fun, casual.
Cava - Old Chef that made it magic has since left, but still magical.

To add to the list:
My wine crew swears by Le Select Bistro. Not sure for food, wine, or corkage.

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#15 Post by Otto Dobre » March 20th, 2019, 10:14 am

I really enjoyed Lavinia. They have a house white and red that are very good and very cheap.

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#16 Post by Nathan V. » April 1st, 2019, 2:37 pm

To wrap this up, thanks to those who made recommendations. The hospitality on offer was excellent across the board.

Brothers Food & Wine was a great way to start our weekend. Went straight from the plane and had a late lunch. Had a bottle of Pearl Morissette chardonnay that was quite good. The food was fun and delicious.
Had a blast at the Raptors game.
A late dinner at Bar Isabel was really fun and included one of my favorite bites of food of the whole trip (Sobrasada & Foie Gras) as well as a new wine to me Telmo Rodríguez Pegaso Granito, which was excellent.
The next say we had Dim Sum at Pearl on the waterfront. The room was nice and it was an easy walk from our hotel, but the food was meh.
We got an early table at Grey Gardens and had a fantastic meal and two excellent wines including Marc Angeli's La Lune Amphora which is really hard to come by and was delicious.
We planned on having a late snack at a wine bar, but instead went to Rhum Corner for a cocktail, that turned into two and then a snack and then another Tiki drink. Maybe a bit too much fun.
Sunday we had Dim Sum at Crown Princess which was a riot, totally over-the-top decor but good dim sum. Fun.

Talking to the folks that worked at these restaurants we went to, it is really hard for them to put together the kinds of lists they'd like to given the state monopoly. Given that, I'd say the folks who put the lists together at the spots we ate are heroes, even if the prices for what we drank were higher than other major markets. What was on offer at the two LCBOs I stopped in was abysmal. I feel for Torontans.
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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#17 Post by RichardFlack » April 1st, 2019, 5:40 pm

Most of us don’t have tans until July unless we go south. (Torontans). [cheers.gif]

Glad you had a good time. Yes it’s hard fro restaurants navigating the LCBO and private import systems.

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#18 Post by Ramon C » April 2nd, 2019, 11:22 am

The LCBO extends to the whole province. Should feel for the Ontarioans.
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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#19 Post by Mike Grammer » June 20th, 2019, 9:56 am

Just tagging this as I didn't see it before. Jay keeps me pretty much in line with all the best and the brightest, but there are some restaurants on this list from you others that I haven't heard about. The restaurant scene really has exploded here in the last few years. Although too late for your trip Nathan (and (A) glad you had a great time, (B) reach out to us before you come next time and we can get together!), I'll add for those who may take a look:

Actinolite--I am one who is a big fan, chef Justin is doing some fine work--and continually improving. I like best his genuineness in wanting diner feedback.

Downtown, I have always liked Aroma for Indian--not super-top, but always dependably good--and if you tell them you want real Vindaloo, they will make real Vindaloo for you. Way out in the east end, Lahore Tikka House is a blast decor-wise (riotous colours and plastic tablecloths and such, you need to be in the mood of course), and very flavourful (though they tend to oil somewhat heavy). Pukka's pretty good too.

Mengra Thai is my fave Thai place in town. Chef Sasi is a genius. I think Jay will back me up on this, but we were just at Lotus of Siam in Vegas a few weeks ago. Mengra is better than that. Allen and Sasi are always very welcoming to us winos.

Jay didn't mention Giulietta which I've/we've enjoyed on numerous occasions.

Montecito--our friend Heather is the benevolent dictatress there, food has candidly been up and down (hopefully going back up soon) but she has worked *hard* to put together a really good compact wine list. It is my pied-a-terre, especially during TIFF.

Asian Legend is a chain---some of them are good, some of them are not. I've always liked Spadina Garden for their crispy ginger beef.

The best dim sum places tend to be in "2nd Chinatown" way up in the northeast end of the city. Not easy to get to for the tourist.

For the rest of Jay's list, I'm ashamed to say I haven't yet been to Chabrol, Tanto, Edulis or Brothers. I heartily endorse all the rest of the restos on that list.

Le Select Bistro was down for a while, but my last visit there was very good food and service, was glad to see that.

I've been to Alo with Jay twice. It has been one of my signature dining experiences. I've never been so aware of *texture* as part of the eating and enjoying experience. It *is* worth the tariff and the work to get a rezzie.

Jacob is really the top steakhouse for me, but super-pricey for the steaks. Good though. Barberian's, of course, has the superior wine list.

Haven't been to Byblos in some time, but their Mediterranean food has been very good in the past.

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Re: Toronto Restaurants

#20 Post by Josh Grossman » June 20th, 2019, 8:23 pm

Peter Muto wrote:
February 12th, 2019, 9:29 am
That would be my suggestion. If you want something a little off the wall, Patois is Jamaican-Chinese, and super yummy though anyone over 40 would stick out there.
For dim sum, I'm not an afficiando, but agree with Chris, Asian Legend is great. Lai Wai Heen is high end dim sum with European service and some ingredients (e.g. foie gras)
This is a pretty good list and I don't take much issues with it
https://torontolife.com/food/restaurant ... staurants/
Quetzal is closed right now, it may re-open by the time you visit. Too bad Boralia is closed that was uniquely Canadian.
Thanks all. We did Patois tonight and have reservations for Brothers tomorrow. What a great city.

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