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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

BUSINESS LUNCH
Reds Bistro & Wine Bar
Located in the Financial District, Reds has long been a meeting place for some of Toronto’s most dynamic power brokers. The two-level restaurant features a fine dining room—good for impressing a new client—and more casual wine bar. Regardless of where you’re seated, you’ll have access to an eclectic carte of locally sourced cuisine, more than 30 international cheese selections, and over 70 wines by the glass.
Honorable Mention: Jump

Milestones Grill & Bar

CANADIAN/AMERICAN
Canoe
This flagship of the upscale Oliver & Bonacini dining empire is arguably Toronto’s best known and best loved restaurant, as well as a major proponent of regional Canadian cuisine—think Alberta lamb, Nova Scotia lobster and venison from the prairies. The 54th-floor dining room received a million-dollar makeover earlier this year, giving never-beens and regulars alike yet another reason to make a reservation.
Honorable Mention: 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower

FAMILY DINING
Milestones Grill & Bar
With its large menu of globally inspired dishes, chic yet welcoming atmosphere, and affordable prices, it’s not hard to see why Milestones is a hit with diners of all stripes. Two spacious downtown restaurants—and three others to the north and east—feature a bevy of signature favourites and seasonal fare, plus, for a limited time, a special selection of apps and entrees inspired by Top Chef Canada.
Honorable Mention: Earls

FINE DINING
Nota Bene
It’s not your typical stuffed-shirt establishment, but chef David Lee’s cuisine definitely makes Nota Bene worthy of a fine dining designation. At this lively restaurant, chef Lee and his team dole out eclectic Canadian and internationally inspired dishes that could include his famous Yucatan hot and sour soup, tangy hamachi ceviche, decadent Wagyu burger and much more.
Honorable Mention: North 44°

Scaramouche

HOTEL DINING
Hilton Toronto
Eager eaters at this hotel, directly across from the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, have their pick of two excellent options: Tundra and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The former has seasonal offerings—many using fresh Canadian ingredients—like truffled Alberta bison and pan-seared Atlantic salmon, while the latter serves up always-sizzling cuts of beef in a comfortably classic environment).
Honorable Mention: The Drake Hotel

INTERNATIONAL
Origin
In a city as multicultural as Toronto, it’s easy to get inspired by different flavours—the hard part is turning fusion cuisine into a success. With a menu of small plates ranging from a Chinois duck wrap, spicy Spanish fries with manchego cheese, and miso-glazed black cod, it’s no wonder Origin, an energetic Old Town hub, has earned a reputation for turning out mouth-watering global fare.
Honorable Mention: Ki Modern Japanese & Bar

ROMANTIC
Scaramouche
Whether you’re looking to impress on a first date or celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary, Scaramouche is hailed for going above and beyond to ensure your meal is a memorable one. Crisp linens, discreet, white-glove service, delicate French-influenced cuisine and a stunning view of Toronto’s night-lit skyline are just the most notable aspects of a magical evening at this midtown institution.
Honorable Mention: Ici Bistro

Harbour Sixty

SERVICE
Splendido
Things have been dialed down a bit at Splendido since the Harbord Street staple changed hands in 2009. And though it’s no longer the exclusive preserve of the city’s champagne set, it continues to offer the best possible service. Friendly staff are all too happy to recommend favourites from the locally sourced menu (after offering chic leather stools for ladies’ purses) and a long wine list. Another hallmark of professionalism: you’ll note that dishes are always served from the right and removed from the left, and it’s rare that your glass will be left half empty.
Honorable Mention: Bâton Rouge Restaurant & Bar

STEAK/SEAFOOD
Harbour Sixty Steakhouse
The ritzy, opulent ambience of Toronto’s historic Harbour Commission building is only part of what makes Harbour Sixty one the city’s most acclaimed steakhouses. On the menu, you’ll find a world-class selection of steaks, including USDA Prime filet mignon, bone-in rib-eye, porterhouse (and double porterhouse!), New York strip steak and Kobe beef, plus market-fresh seafood such as Atlantic lobster, pan-seared halibut, oysters and beluga caviar.
Honorable Mention: Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco

WINE LIST
Crush Wine Bar
Toronto is home to many restaurants with great wine lists, but few make your tipple as sexy, accessible and enjoyable as Crush Wine Bar. Though French-inspired food fills the menu, the wine list is its own beast. Sommelier Mark Moffatt offers extensive local and international wines, theme-based flights and even wine appreciation nights with demonstrations such as how to open a bottle of champagne with a sabre!
Honorable Mention: Via Allegro Ristorante

Opus

VEGETARIAN
Fresh
What began as a mobile juice bar has become three always-busy vegetarian restaurants, featuring signature smoothies and shakes, of course, but also extensive eat-in and take-out dining menus. Gone are the days when tofu was made to look and taste like chicken, steak or even barbecued pork. At Fresh, the ingredients speak for themselves, with bold flavours inspired by culinary traditions from around the globe.
Honorable Mention: Vegetarian Haven

LES CLEFS D’OR GOLDEN PLATE AWARD
Opus
Chosen by members of the Les Clefs d’Or concierge society, this award recognizes outstanding service, food quality and ambience. Opus delivers consistently on all counts—the Yorkville institution has long been a favourite of diners seeking the utmost discretion and comfort, plus dishes ranging from magret of duck with foie gras to venison tenderloin. The wine list, too, is world renowned, and features more than 2,500 separate vintages.

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