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Splendido

Mothers Day Dining: 5 Fabulous Toronto Restaurants for Mom

BY CRAIG MOY

Mothers Day Dining Toronto Restaurants Brunch

The Drake Hotel features a Mother’s Day prix fixe and more (photo: Connie Tsang)

It’s likely that your mom has cooked you more meals than you (or she) can count. Return the favour by treating her to a fabulous Mother’s Day dining experience at one of these great Toronto restaurants.

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Hot Dining: Uncommonly Good at the County General

photo by Nikki Leigh McKean

There are a lot of fun, lively eateries to be found along Queen Street West. The one that you’ll particularly want to visit on a warm spring day is The County General. Run by the owners of ritzy Splendido, the restaurant offers its predecessor’s thoughtful service and high-quality cooking in a more casual, wallet-friendly package. Here, hip locals fill the bright dining room and street-side patio for lunch, dinner, brunch and late-night nosh including a buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich ($14), pork tacos ($15) and banana bread French toast ($14, brunch only). Choose your drink from the all-Canadian wine list, or go for that Southern vibe with a glass of premium rum or bourbon.

Staff Picks: 10 Cold-Weather Cocktails

 

photo by Emurray

It seems that winter has finally arrived in southern Ontario. To keep cozy, it’s wise to layer—a truism as applicable to cocktails as it is to sweaters and long johns. Go beyond the simple shaken-or-stirred and discover some of Toronto’s most flavourful artisan libations, guaranteed to give you a warming glow. (more…)

Hot Dining: Book a Table and Save

Splendido

Typically, a reservation saves you a table at a restaurant, but now your booking can also take a chunk off your bill. With the online service Dining Date Night, you pay $10 to reserve a table at a participating establishment, and receive 30 per cent off your final tally. Unlike a prix fixe menu or daily specials, you can order whatever your taste buds desire and still come out with more money in your wallet. Crush Wine Bar, Splendido and Maléna are just some of the Toronto restaurants taking part.

Tops in Taste: Toronto’s 2011 Where to Dine Awards

From quick and casual eateries to fine dining experiences inspired by global cuisines, Toronto has many hundreds of excellent restaurants. Only a handful, however,
can be true consensus favourites, and the winners of our annual Where to Dine
readers’ choice awards.

Canoe (photo by Kristina Doyle)

AMBIENCE
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar
Six locations of the popular steakhouse ensure diners can get a grilled-to-perfection sirloin, T-bone or filet mignon practically anywhere in Toronto. The brand’s most notable venue is in a circa-1868 mansion on Jarvis Street—the immaculately adorned interior is a conversation starter. Two other restaurants in the heart of downtown offer a more modern vibe for business lunches and pre-show dinners.
Honorable Mention: Auberge du Pommier

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH
Cora Breakfast & Lunch
Down-home country-kitchen dishes are the draw at this group of restaurants, originally from Quebec. Fresh fruit and eggs in various preparations comprise the majority of the menu, from the “10 Star” omelette—filled with ham, sausage, spinach, tomatoes and much more—to the “1990s Harvest” of cinnamon French toast with an egg, bacon and a mountain of seasonal fruit.
Honorable Mention: Fran’s (more…)

You Are Here: Harbord Street

With welcoming restaurants, cozy, independent cafés and specialty boutiques, this short strip offers a bit of small-town charm in the big city.

View You Are Here: Harbord Street in a larger map

CAFFEINE FIX Award-winning barista Sam James has long been a driving force behind Toronto’s indie java movement. His eponymous Sam James Coffee Bar is known for its personal service and superior beans. Order a classic espresso, find a new favourite like a soy or chai latte, or select the science lab–style siphon coffee for a true artisanal experience.

Sam James Coffee Bar

CREATIVE CERAMICS Clay Design has offered its high-quality, Canadian-crafted wares at the corner of Harbord Street and Brunswick Avenue since 1980. From mugs to vases and everything in between, pottery lovers are certain to find that perfect piece for the kitchen or dining room. Resident artists are pleased to offer knowledge on different styles, shapes and functions.

TREAT YOURSELF Chef Donald Duong has catered to the Queen of England, Pope John-Paul II and Barack Obama; his talents are evident in the delectable creations at DT Bistro. Take your pick of numerous sweet treats including cakes, tarts, strudels and parfaits, or savour brunch, lunch and dinner in the bistro’s casual-chic environs.

CASUAL GOURMET Childhood friends Jean-Charles Dupoire and Sylvain Brissonnet pair well as the respective chef and sommelier at Loire. Named for the region once called the “garden of France,” this restaurant nods to French culinary tradition, but its dishes are thoroughly modern and utilize many Ontario-sourced ingredients.

Splendido's front-of-house bar

CROWDED HOUSE The diminutive Harbord Room pays homage to Canadian-style cuisine in bar bites and contemporary staples made with seasonal, organic products. The formula must be working: the dining room is often packed with enthusiastic foodies enjoying chef Cory Vitiello’s favoured fare. As the weather warms up, request a table on the secluded back patio.

PREMIUM VENUE One of Toronto’s top fine dining destinations, Splendido specializes in locally flavoured delicacies that are sure to excite the senses—chef Victor Barry’s offerings include a foie gras parfait, liguine with mussels and clams, and suckling pig boudin noir. It’s a great special-occasion spot, and groups can reserve the private “Cellar” to dine amongst the restaurant’s collection of wines.

2010 Dining Guide: Nosh from Nearby

Cowbell is a favourite for locally sourced, sustainable fare (photo by Derek Shapton)

It’s no surprise that some of Toronto’s top-rated restaurants are devotees of the local food movement: sourcing from nearby artisan farms and producers ensures freshness, which in turn guarantees flavour. Any discussion of “slow food” in this city begins with chef Jamie Kennedy, whose Gilead Café & Bistro serves modern Canadian fare that lets his farm-fresh ingredients shine. Tastefully simple, too, are the artisan meats butchered in-house and served at such restaurants as Cowbell and the Black Hoof—the latter’s charcuterie is legendary, as are the bone marrow–filled beignets at its sister space, Hoof Café. Slightly less meat-
centric is chef Teo Paul’s contemporary country cooking at Union—though you’d be remiss not to order the elk sliders.

Of course, using homegrown ingredients doesn’t mean a chef has to forsake global influences. Local Kitchen and Wine Bar preaches respect for one’s ingredients through exceedingly fresh Italian small plates, while amongst chef Victor Barry’s contemporary offerings at Splendido are a handful of traditional pastas plated with family-farmed accompaniments. High-end, internationally inspired cuisine made with Toronto flair can also be found at long-standing favourites like elegant George and Globe Bistro.

October Editor’s Picks: Dining

Splendido1. When acclaimed chef David Lee left fine-dining destination Splendido to focus on a new endeavour, Toronto foodies understandably questioned whether the award-winning Harbord Street staple would survive. They needn’t have worried. Now co-owned by chef Victor Barry and manager Carlo Catallo—both of whom were integral to Splendido’s past success—the restaurant has re-opened with a bright new look and a tasty, more affordable dinner spread. A cross-Canada photographic mural and a prominent display of preserves replace chandeliers and gilded mirrors in the dining room. On the menu, locally sourced mains like Yorkshire pork chop ($32) from Cumbrae Farms and Lake Huron pickerel ($26) are complemented by chef Barry’s fresh-daily pastas, and lovingly presented by the exceptional servers for which Splendido has long been known.

10-09-HotDining(YUZU)2. This city’s reputation as a raw fish–lover’s haven continues to grow as Japanese restaurants such as Yuzu stake their claim on the local sushi scene. Situated on the edge of the financial and entertainment districts, the cozy boîte offers both bankers and theatre goers an extensive selection of sashimi, maki and more. Of course, freshness is key when it comes to uncooked seafood; if co-owner Bruce Bu’s other hidden gem of a sushi house, Japango, is any indication, high-quality ingredients are assured. And be sure to try one of Yuzu’s signature cocktails, given a kick with a splash of premium sake.

The Queen & Beaver.

The Queen & Beaver

3. It’s easy to eat well (and affordably!) at the latest nosh spots to open near downtown’s Yonge-Dundas Square.

>> French import The 3 Brewers is known for its five made-in-house unfiltered beers, but its brasserie-style fare, including crisp Alsatian tartes flambée ($9.95 to $13.45), is equally satisfying.

>> Thoroughly British, The Queen & Beaver offers dishes like cider-braised leg of duck ($17) and beef short ribs ($23) amidst rustic, club-like ambience.

>> Expansive Woo Buffet Restaurant & Lounge presents a fusion of Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines—everything from dim sum nibbles to barbecued pork ribs—as part of a lavish buffet spread.