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I would totally agree. Same 3x3x3 menu style with a small but well-curated wine list (decent value Gruner met our needs). After ordering we were informed the chef had also been roasting some pigs heads and could quickly pan fry some cheek for us. A better dish in 2014 was not to be head, with melting fat and dense piggy flavour sealed by crunchy, crackling skin.

Of the printed menu, we also enjoyed the confit chicken and wild mushroom medley. The salty granola of the latter dish included sprouted lentils and toasted smashed almonds that played nicely with the creaminess of the egg and the bouncy, buttery mushrooms. A bavette main was the best non-Jacobs steak I've had all year, cooked raw (without us asking or being asked) with a charred, thin crust.

Service was prompt and efficient, although if the chef delivers his dishes personally, you will be lucky if he mumbles more than two ingredients before shuffling off. He's not holding court at a swishy cocktail party, but lucky for us he's holding the fort at one of Toronto's best restaurants for value, taste, ambience or otherwise. I've only been once, but have made two additional bookings. Go now.

Dec 11, 2014
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Seriously Curious about Sushi Yasu. Any reports?

I'd echo all of yakionigiri's comments. Shari was average which is unfortunate for the decent neta they've sourced (actually fell apart a couple of times). That said, I would have preferred a bit more non-fish variety (hotate, tobiko and anago were the 3 exceptions - was craving any kind of shrimp or ika etc). We actually got shima-aji twice. Tamago was dry, bland and unimpressive. Standouts were the hotate (fat medallion that was lightly torched but still permitted a bit of sweetness) and what I believe was marinated akami that had a nice dense, fulsome flavour. Curiously, the chef only mentioned the names of the neta in halting English. We had to clarify what part of tuna in one instance.

I don't want to sound overly negative. It was quite good value for the amount of food you got (about 20 "courses") but it's not the reverent temple of sushi I was hoping for. Zen is still tops in my books but it's indeed quite a drive for downtowners or west-enders.

A quick comment on service: there was only one host/server who was very sweet but very scattered. While she was unfailingly polite and gracious, she rarely refilled our sake, didn't offer more water, and forgot my tea. She seemed a bit frazzled to deal with only 10 diners, or 4 groups. That said, there was a rowdy group of 4 at one end who seemed fairly demanding. They provided much of the volume in the room which is otherwise small and intimate. I think they gave license to the rest of us to talk louder than we otherwise might in the gallery-like space (which frankly I was ok with - I prefer buzzy spots which is why I'm partly nervous about a Hashimoto outing).

I'll go back but with my expectations in check.

The Old Toronto Restaurants you make the wishes for the comeback

Perhaps bytepusher could organize a Top 5 or 10 list of CH's favourite closed restaurants?

Here's my list:
1. Susur
2. JOV Bistro
3. Spice Room
4. Mercer Street Grill
5. Cuisine of india
7. JK Wine Bar
8. Oddfellows
9. Copper Grill
10. Atelier Thuet in Liberty Village

Feb 14, 2014
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO: Wahoo

If you haven't tried it, Foxley on Ossington makes a great wahoo ceviche.

Jul 31, 2013
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Cool City Oyster Yard

I've been twice now and had very much the same experience the second time as the first.

1st visit
- oysters (selection of all, 6 on offer)
- octopus

2nd visit
- oysters
- sardines
- oyster po' boy

Both times the oyster were quite fresh and featured a nice East/West selection (Lucky Limes, Kumamotos, etc), but several had small pieces of shell in them which is always unpleasant.

The octopus was excellent. Wonderfully tender with the right amount of char crunch and flavour. The chorizo provided surprising but pleasant spice and the accompaniments (piquillo peppers, pepitas, peas and fennel) were in appropriate proportions and complemented the octopus nicely.

The sardines had their bones expertly removed such that sufficient meat remained. Perfectly grilled with very little oil and key lime such that the dense, rich flavour of the sardine was apparent.

The po' boy was quite decent, served on a baguette with a tangy but slightly too creamy slaw for my tastes. The oyster was slightly over-battered but still maintained some inner delicateness.

Wine list was short but with some nice, fairly-priced selections for $30-50.

Overall, the food and drink was quite enjoyable. But here's why I will likely never return.

The service was utterly atrocious, with both times vying for the worst service I've had all year in Toronto. Incredibly slow to take drink and food orders, everything had to be repeated, never any drink refills, completely forgotten items (first time we ordered sardines and the po' boy which never came, asking to have them cancelled was unacceptably awkward, nothing was ever comped and we were ultimately charged the sardines and po' boy which had to be challenged), and the food in general took a long time to arrive. On our second visit we witnessed one of the servers publicly demean and argue with another server in front of all the customers. You just don't do that.

Much of the menu and vibe is cheesy and awkward ("paellapalooza", branded t-shirts hanging up) and while I appreciate the urbanity of the setting, the parking lot view does get tired.

The kitchen had admirable technique with a sold if perhaps not daring menu. It's unfortunate that everything else about this place fell apart.

Jul 22, 2013
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

From Toronto, looking for hot spots in SF

Rickybobby seems like a fun, drunken affair featuring fast food with top notch technique. Love it. And CH reviews of Mission Chinese seem mixed to mediocre so I may drop that off. Have done Hakkasan in Miami and was not impressed (except for their insanely good steamed BBQ pork truffle buns).

Got Bar Agricole for Sat evening. Menu seems from the same "family" as State Bird (both sounds great).

AQ is booked all weekend but I've snagged a Sunday lunch reso.

Sad about Saison - menu looks tremendous. Next time.

Feb 13, 2013
vidkid in San Francisco Bay Area

From Toronto, looking for hot spots in SF

For State Bird (menu looks most unique and exciting), their website indicates no availability for the next 60 days so I'm guessing some tables and/or the bar are reserved for walk-ins?

If we're keen on Italian, seems like Cotogna, Locanda, or Delfina will fit the bill. For more modern American/French, Zuni, Rich Table, Frances or Nopa.

Very helpful. Thanks all!

Feb 12, 2013
vidkid in San Francisco Bay Area

From Toronto, looking for hot spots in SF

Hi SF CHers! I'm from Toronto and visiting SF with a friend this weekend (Fri-Mon) and am curious as to what are the best, super-lively restaurants (no-reservation, 2-hour lineup places are totally fine).

Any cuisine, any price range, preferably in the city. They need not be "too cool" places. For example, if Chez Panisse had an upbeat vibe (and might have a table on short notice), please recommend it.

I've been to a few spots on previous trips - Fleur de Lys, Baker & Banker, Incanto, Michael Mina - but only B&B or Incanto *might* fit the bill.

I'll be checking out Mission Chinese one night, but would love your suggestions on other spots. Thanks very much!

Feb 11, 2013
vidkid in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowhounds best 10 restaurants in GTA - 2013 voting

Sushi Kaji
Harbord Room
Guu Izakaya (Church)
Grand Electric

Jan 29, 2013
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Ursa Restaurant

As of a few days ago, they served bread and butter ($5), but I'd hesitate to call what they bring out "bread". It's more of a health food cracker (but still quite tasty). There were two kinds of butter: one rather skinny and stringy and the other churned in a small dish (along with some fleur de sel). I can't say either butter was tremendous, but I'm not sure if either were the same that you've previously enjoyed.

Dec 20, 2012
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)


I attended a function in their private dining room about a week ago for a large party (~30 people). I must say the food was quite decent (if not particularly creative or inventive, as with all of Pangaea's dishes I find) but the delivery time was horrid. Our main courses took an hour longer than their planned time. A few participants actually stepped out to get sustenance nearby. The main restaurant was completely full, but if you can't provide service on time, don't set such an expectation.

Nov 24, 2012
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Only desserts

If indeed you plan to spend a few hours lingering over dessert, I might suggest going later or sitting in a lower-traffic spot within the restaurant. You might also want to phone ahead to the restaurant and explain your dilemma. If they're nice and accommodating, problem solved.

I might suggest that sitting at the bar at, say, Splendido for desserts and coffee might be a nice compromise.

Nov 15, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Blackhoof - how long is the wait on Saturdays?

In my experience, between 7-9:30pm on a Saturday you'll have to wait on average 60-70 mins. Of course depends on a variety of factors such as your party size, weather, etc. If it's just two of you and you don't want to wait, the later the better (as well as if you're ok with sitting at the bar, that helps).

Nov 09, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Help me with my Richmond Hill food tour

Ah, Big Mouth Kee! I loved this place but haven't been in over 7 years.

I distinctly recall the incredible fried eel - still the best I've ever had. Not to hijack this thread, but besides the typhoon shelter crab, what else might you recommend aser?

Nov 02, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ONE restaurant in Hazelton hotel any good?

Depends on what your execs are like. The private room at One is very show-offy and the crowd is certainly a see and be seen group. I would never dine there on my own tab (food is heavy, greasy and salty and altogether imbalanced) but your average exec might not notice.

C5 is a great recommendation though it's a more reserved environment. The food is also more haute and sophisticated though I've often found portions to be on the small side. However they cater well for large groups (I was there once as part of a group of 20).

In similar category to One is La Societe. The food is marginally better (if the kitchen is not overworked and if you order correctly) but the scene is also boisterous and showy.

Nov 01, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Ici Bistro... also over there

Excellent, thanks for the fast response. I'll make a reso and report back.

Nov 01, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Ici Bistro... also over there

Any recent reviews of Ici? While reviews on this board have been almost universally positive, a number of my friends who I typically trust for recs have been quite disappointed on several fronts (quality and value primarily). They refuse to go back. I'm wondering if they drew the short straw on their various visits.

I'm keen to check it out because I've found CHers to be a generally reliable bunch provided that you can parse posters' individual comments (i.e. "Super good! Mmmmmm" is not a terribly informative review).

Nov 01, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Terroni - Yonge Street

Are you referring to Bar Centrale located at 1095 Yonge Street (just south of Scrivener Square)? It's run by the Terroni group. It opened a few months ago and has had bad to mixed reviews.

I understand there will also be an actual Terroni on the 2nd floor (perhaps this is what you've heard of). Whatever the estimate, restaurants are notoriously bad for opening on schedule so 5 different answers might have the same likelihood of being correct.

Oct 31, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Cannelles in the GTA?

Just want to point the OP to an alternative viewpoint that I posted in another thread on Nadege's caneles. I've generally been a fan (though I acknowledge there have been the occasional consistency issues):

Oct 31, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Nadege Patisserie is Bad

While I don't know if they use silicone molds or not, the white tops are not a definite indicator of their use. One can slather sufficient butter or beeswax to brown the tops to get the desired crispiness, though I find that approach will often yield overly burnt caneles.

Having discovered and devoured tons of caneles in Paris when I was working there, I never once came across mini-sized ones as at Nadege. I must say though that they are usually tremendous: crispy on the outside and soft and custardy on the inside.

On the rare occasion I've found them to be a bit soggy, but I think that's a function of their freshness. I'm pretty sure they make them several times per day, if you get the oldest ones you risk some sogginess. I'd suggest you give them another try.

Having said that, I haven't been terribly impressed with the macarons or pain au chocolats at Nadege. In the former case they're usually too dense and imbalanced and in the latter case I would echo kwass's comment that they're often like biting into a bun or dinner roll.

EDIT: It seems the negative review I responded to has been deleted. All the same, I hope this is helpful.

Oct 31, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

bars/pubs/lounges/places for drinks where 40somethings aren't out of place, where conversation is possible without straining your voice, and the music isn't turned up to nightclub levels between 10:30 pm and midnight....

I would highly recommend the Black Hoof's Cocktail Bar. However, it's a small spot so if you're looking for a busier environment, look elsewhere.

Oct 29, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)


Well after 2 weeks of non-stop calling, I finally got through at 1:20pm CST today and spoke to a nice guy about making a reservation for 2 for either Nov 18 or 19. Unfortunately the only slot they had available was on Nov 18 at 5:30pm which is when our plane lands. We're on the waiting list and I was told we would be ready to come by with an hour's notice.

Thanks all for your help and fingers crossed that we'll get the call. I'll probably have to lug a couple bottles of wine around all evening just in case we get phoned :)

Oct 20, 2011
vidkid in Chicago Area


Thanks all for the tips. I'm also a desk-sitter and call several times per day, but due to the time difference, 11am CST is 12pm EST which is often when I take my lunch. Looks like I might be missing the brief window. I'll report back when I'm successful.

Oct 20, 2011
vidkid in Chicago Area

Newbie to DiningDateNight ...

Made a 9:30 reservation on a Thursday at Splendido a few weeks ago for a party of six. The website was quick, easy, and no fuss.

When we arrived at Splendido, I mentioned we booked through Dining Date Night and they indicated their acknowledgment. Dinner was quite nice but when the bill came, we realized the 30% was not removed. I politely and quietly mentioned it to our server who quickly returned with the revised bill. Aside from the slight awkwardness of the exchange, it was handled as professionally as possible and indeed we received a 30% discount. Just remember to tip based on the non-discounted total.

Oct 20, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Boulud in Toronto?

You're right estufarian. Even though Vij has two restaurants, they're next door to each other and Vikram often hits Rangoli at lunch at Vij's at dinner so there's terrific quality control. Opening a Toronto outpost would stretch him too thinly (though I wish he would export his frozen curries to Toronto - they're better than much of what you can get in a restaurant here). I suppose I'm just lamenting the unfortunate higher-end Indian dining market we currently have in Toronto. Defies logic.

I might add Alain Ducasse to your one-entry list of successful multi-city chefs. My meals at the Plaza Athenee in Paris and Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo are among the very best meals of my life. I've never tried his London, NYC or Tokyo outposts but from what I've heard, they're very good, but not at his peak performance (despite the Michelin stars).

Oct 19, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)


I'm from Toronto and will be visiting Chicago for a weekend in mid-November. Schwa is at the top of my dining to-do list. I've read all related threads and various blogs on how to get a reservation at Schwa but this is ridiculous. I've been calling every single day about 4 times per day starting at 10am CST for the past 2 weeks. Every single time I get a "voicemail is full" response.

I'm guessing that the only counsel you can provide is "have infinite patience", but I am missing something? Are they closed because Carlson broke his foot or the sewage is acting up again?

Oct 19, 2011
vidkid in Chicago Area

Boulud in Toronto?

+1 for Vij's outpost. Toronto has a large and vibrant Indian population and no truly excellent Indian restaurants (granted, Vij's dishes are not all traditional Indian, but they hew close enough to key ingredients, spices and techniques). There is unquestionably a market in Toronto for such a restaurant.

As for neta, the top NYC establishments fly most of it in from Japan so "availability" is really just a function of ability to pay which, granted, NYC diners are both more able and inclined than Toronto folk. I think there is room in Toronto for one top sushi chef who imports many of his/her ingredients (interesting aside: I don't know of one top female sushi master), though places like Hiro would certainly suffer.

Oct 19, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Lucien: Scot Woods out, Grant Van Gameren in.

I don't dispute your first paragraph but it's unclear what direction Lucien will go in.

You're assuming that Grant and Guy bought out (or into) the existing owner(s). I suppose that's a not unreasonable assumption considering their pedigree but the OP only said they're "heading up the kitchen", hence my curiosity as to whether this is a short-term or long-term station for them.

Oct 18, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Lucien: Scot Woods out, Grant Van Gameren in.

I believe Grant was sous-chef at Lucien before moving to the Black Hoof. I wonder if this is just a temporary gig until he raises enough capital to launch his own restaurant or if he plans to remake Lucien with Guy in their own image. In either case, perhaps a visit to Lucien is in order in a few weeks.

Oct 18, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO Shark Fin Soup

Thanks all for the recs. I've been meaning to check out Casa Imperial for a while so this would be a great opportunity.

Oct 16, 2011
vidkid in Ontario (inc. Toronto)