For a Nice Dinner

Intimate birthday party and third date approved

You need a restaurant to impress your dinner guest. Maybe it’s a third date. Maybe it’s a birthday party. Maybe it’s a business client that you want to entertain over a great wine menu. The following restaurants will ensure that you have a good time, but more importantly, that you look good choosing it. Average price between $60-100 a person. 

Tried and True: 

  1. Edulis: Be warned, there are only two options on the menu: smaller and larger prix fixe. A cozy spot with a seasonal menu of wild and foraged foods used to create elevated Canadian dishes with a bit of Western European flair.
  2. Alo: If you’re really looking to impress (and can score a reservation months in advance), Alo is simply the most exquisite contemporary French fare you can find in Toronto.
  3. Enoteca Sociale:  A very intimate and very Italian wine bar with an edited list of small-plate (or as the Italians would say, the right size) pastas and other things. Lowly candlelit and very moody.
  4. Brothers Food & Wine: It’s so small you might just walk past it without realizing this is one of Toronto’s best restaurants for contemporary Canadian cuisine. Located right beside Bay Station, and reservations are definitely required.
  5. Piano Piano: This is one of those “phoenix from the ashes” restaurants where a chef (Victor Barry) closes his old restaurant to make room for something new. Italian, but with a twist. The service is excellent.
  6. Buca: Italian, Italian, Italian. Rob Gentile has created a landmark for Torontonians with his Buca empire, and all of them are great.
  7. Café Boulud: Daniel Boulud’s restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel has undergone a revamp and it looks and tastes better than ever.
  8. Richmond Station: Carl Heinrich’s project from his Top Chef Season 2 win is still going strong, and this place is perfect for almost any occasion. They are particularly good at taking care of your guest’s dietary restrictions.
  9. Miku: A large-scale Japanese restaurant featuring clean lines and excellent service, this place is perfect for a special occasion. It does lend itself better to corporate than cozy. 
  10. JaBistro: An excellent little spot for aburi sushi in the Entertainment District.
  11. Ruby Watchco: The menu changes daily, and you can only eat what Chef Lynn wants to serve. It’s a great Canadian experience in Toronto’s East End if you’re up for a little adventure.
  12. TOCA: Ritz Carlton’s own upscale restaurant uses some of the freshest ingredients (they have their own cheese cave in the restaurant) prepared with an elegant Italian focus. 
  13. Byblos: Pan-Mediterranean dishes designed to be shared, set in a beautiful space. It’s my favourite of the Iconink restaurants in Toronto.

Honourable Mentions:

  1. Boralia: For those looking for a truly unique “Canadian” experience without the poutine.
  2. Ardo: A relatively low-key Italian restaurant known for small-scale, authentic bites.
  3. Stelivo: An unassuming Northern Italian Restaurant located at Queen and Spadina decked out in black and white. The neighbourhood isn’t the best for special events, but the food is very nice.
  4. Marben: Contemporary Canadian with a bit of Spanish flair. The architecture is also key.
  5. Campagnolo: A revolving menu of relaxed Italian fare offered in a chic setting, with a cocktail bar (however, not as good as it once was without head chef Craig supervising).
  6. Estia: This is another Iconink restaurant with a menu representing the upper part of the Mediterranean Coast. They have a good wine program, bread program, charcuterie program, and everything else required for a successful meal. It’s a bit “Yorkville-ish”, but you can’t deny it’s beauty.
  7. Nota Bene: There are not many upscale restaurants on Queen Street West, but this one screams upper crust, in a nice way.
  8. Pukka: If you’re looking for Indian fine dining, you’ll find it here (or go to its sister restaurant Concession Road down the street for great French fare).
  9. Bosk: The ultra-modern Asian-driven menu here is as beautiful as the Shangri-La Hotel in which it is situated. They also have some of my favourite restaurant washrooms in the city.
  10. Leña: A breath of fresh air attached to the Eaton Centre, this place does upscale South American food set in a beautiful space.

On my Radar: 

  1. Giulietta: Looking forward to trying out one of the newest Italian places with lighter but quality fare.
  2. Mira: Chef Stuart Cameron’s newest project is most likely a good thing.
  3. La Palma: What a beauty of a space and just across the street from Chef Craig Harding’s former spot, Campagnolo.
  4. Canoe: Yes, I have had their food. No, I have not been to a proper sit-down dinner, and it’s really time that I go soon.
  5. Montgomery’s: Hopeful for this place to wow with its simple Canadian fare.
  6. Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse: The best steakhouse in the city, confirmed and double confirmed.
  7. Dandylion: Another Contemporary Canadian favourite that I hope to visit very soon.
  8. Canis: Must. try. soon.
  9. Grey Gardens: I hear it’s one of the best things to pop up in Kensington Market in a long time.
  10. Atlas Restaurant: Upscale Middle Eastern.
  11. Charbrol: This looks like the perfect bistro edition to Yorkville.
  12. Skippa: seasonal Japanese food in an omakase style.

Last updated: January 2019