Restaurants & Bars 4

My first time in Toronto - dining experiences

atcpa | May 31, 201201:01 PM

So here I am at the airport on the way home after a wonderful week in Toronto. You have a beautiful city, and we enjoyed every moment. Of course, for me, the best moments were the ones spent around the table with friends enjoying some amazing food. Here are my experiences:

On our first night in town we wanted to have a beer centric dinner, and my preference was Beer Bistro. However, my friends weren't quite on board with my food selections just yet. We ended up at 3 Brewers, and it was a fine welcome to Canada. The seasonal beers were good, and the food was just what we needed after travelling. Nothing exciting....just decent eats. The next morning we met at Eggspectations for a working breakfast at 7am. There really aren't many places open that early from what we could find. My classic eggs bennie was good, but a colleague had the eggs Benedict with guacamole which was even better. The cook was working hard for us since we were a table of twelve waiting outside the door at 6:55.

Saturday night we ventured to Chinatown, and picked a dumpling place with an older couple making dumplings it he front window. It ended up being a great choice despite the fact that I'm not sure of the name of the place. We all decided that the beef and noodles dish was the best beef and noodles any of us had ever had. Dumplings, soup, and a few bigger dishes...dinner for 7.....$69. I could get used to that!

The next night is when things got interesting. Again, a group of seven ventured out looking for a table without a reservation. Who knew that the restaurants would be so busy on a Sunday night? It's not like that at home in Milwaukee, WI. We walked into a rather empty Buca, but we were told that it would be 2 1/2 hour wait for a table. So as we left there and turned the corner, we stumbled upon Gusto101. What a find! The hostesses greeted us with warm smiles, and despite a crowd, we ended up getting a high top table right away. The house wine is perfectly drinnkable at $1 per ounce. We started with Tuscan fries, buffalo mozzarella salad, and grilled octopus. The highlight was definitely the octopus. It was tender and smoky and was enjoyed by everyone at the table. We all passed our plates around during the main course, and the consensus was that the mushroom fetuccine was the favorite. My personal favorite was the Estate pizza - a cold pizza with arugula, sun dried tomatoes, and, I believe, ricotta (I've eaten so much since then I can't even remember what was on it!). We shared two of the dolce platters for dessert, and each one of us found something to enjoy. The s'mores brûlée was a hit with the majority. So, we called it serendipity that we secured a table at such a trendy place, and we went back to our hotel full and happy.

Monday - hot dogs at Rogers Field. You all need to go enjoy a baseball game! I can't believe how empty that stadium was!

Tuesday - I met a friend and Toronto local at Spice Route. They would not do the prix fixe for just two people, but we granted liberty to our server to bring us what would be good. We asked for a price point of $50 each for food, and she picked some good dishes. The standout for me was the thinly sliced beef that you cook on a rock. Since I never even looked at the menu, I have no idea what it was called. The novelty of cooking the meat on a hot rock won me over.

Weds - last night was the highlight of my food adventures. After reading here on chow a recommendation for the tasting menu at L'Ouvrier, I had our concierge make us a reservation. I will admit that as we drove away from downtown I started to worry about where we were going. My fears were overcome when our sweet and attentive server brought me my first drink - aperol spritzer made with prosecco and a garnish of grapefruit (among other things) - yummy! Our courses we as follows: oysters, buffalo mozzarella salad, tuna tartare, tortellini, duck confit, and a peanut butter panna cotta. Highlights? The tuna and duck were both excellent! The drink pairings were also very good, and I did not feel as if they were small pours. We have one couple in our group that are not adventurous eaters, and the kitchen did make an accommodation for the non-seafood eater. They willingly tried every dish, though, and I think even they were pleasantly surprised. It was a very fun night for all of us.

Thanks to all of you Toronto hounds! Without you guys I would never have found our two best dinners (even though Gusto was a fortunate accident)! If any of you ever come to Milwaukee I'd be happy to reciprocate the recommendations!

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