I consulted CH before and during my visit to Toronto, so wantd to share what happened. The top two were places I heard about from CH – thank you!
Le Paradis – solid classic bistro food at a very good price in a reasonably attractive setting. We went for an early dinner twice, on a Tues and a Thurs. Overall service and food slightly better on the Tuesday, when they were less busy. We had the rabbit, and the bavette (cooked rare as requested); and the other night, the pork loin, and the fish stew. All were very good, and tremendous value. For dessert, we tried both Marquis and the crème caramel. The Marquis was good – darkish chocolate full of hazelnut chunks and semi-frozen. My personal favourite was the crème caramel, a large serving, that did not “weep,” and was garnished with a tasty strawberry. 2 mains, 2 desserts, 2 glasses of wine – a bargain at around $70.
Dessert Trends was also a stand-out, for pastry and coffee.
We had the:
Hazelnut truffle (choco-hazelnut mousse pyramid on a chocolate biscuit base) The biscuit stayed crisp even with the fruit coulis decorating the plate – superior baking!
Hazelnut mousse: a round, hazelnut chocolate mousse, slightly ligher choco than the above.
Dark chocolate symphony: layers of light as air chocolate cake with choco mousse in between, wrapped in chocolate, like a parcel.
These were very fine pastries – beautiful to look at, great to eat. Very different from Duffrets - I would say more refined and higher quality. Around $7 a pastry, $4 a coffee. Help was a little bit disorganized but very nice.
Harbord House – there are more upscale places on Harbord St (Loire etc) but I liked the look of the menu and I am always interested in seeing what can happen at a low-mid range price as opposed to the more expensive places. Did not disappoint – the food was varied and thoughtfully prepared – for example, different side dishes done up for each of the mains. The server explained the red wines for us - – and we were having a glass, not a whole bottle. Friendly and very good. An app, 2 mains, 2 glasses of wine, came in at around $80.
Amadeu was also good (Portuguese) – we had the pork and clams, and the server helpfully let us substitute side dishes. 2 mains and a half carafe of wine, 2 coffees and 1 dessert (a good crème caramel...but smaller than Le Paradis!) around $85.
Thank you chowhounders again for your help – (and btw, Toronto is a great used book town.)