by Alec Kinnear
If you’d like to celebrate a special occasion or simply wish only the best of the best for you, your friends and family, our choice of Toronto’s most expensive restaurants could help you with your search. Although Toronto isn’t especially famous for its fine dining, you can be sure that these venues will satisfy even the most discerning gourmets. While it’s always questionable whether the price really matches the quality of service, you should still get ready for some of the freshest ingredients turned into brilliant dishes by expert chefs whose artistry and craftsmanship challenges perfection itself — hopefully. Try them out yourself and let us know how your experience goes!
Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto East is quite a unique restaurant. Its chef, Masaki Hashimoto, clearly understands how to please wealthy Torontonians and he invites them to spend some memorable, peaceful moments with delicious food in exquisitely Japanese style. He assures us his restaurant raises the bar of tradition and authenticity, serving sophisticated, 400-year-old recipes. Virtually everything on the menu is imported from Japan.
Most of the dishes you’ll find here are sculpted or carved into flora and fauna shapes that are carefully designed to mirror the season, and since most Canadians lack a developed understanding of Japanese culture, it’s possible some of us are just unable to appreciate all the small nuances in Hashimoto’s culinary masterpieces. As the seating is limited to a maximum of ten people, you’ll need to make reservations at least week or two in advance. To ensure perfect satisfaction, guests are sent the pictures of the dishes that they had via email. However, this intricate and extravagant fine dining doesn’t come very cheap; expect to pay about $800 for a dinner for two with drink and tip.
Canoe Restaurant & Bar is renowned for its excellent views of Toronto and even more amazing food. If you’re lucky enough to get some of the best spots, you’ll have an opportunity to observe the beautiful night-time lake vista and the city lights while enjoying an amazing culinary experience. The menu at Canoe is brilliant and focuses on local products. Adventurous customers can choose some of the more unusual plates, such as tongue and marrow tortellini, but even more conservative guests will be satisfied by the choices here.
One customer explains that every bite you take in this place is like a party in your mouth that leaves you hoping to return soon. The restaurant also participates in the Summerlicious and Winterlicious promotions, which always bring some special seasonal gems on the menu. In addition to the top-notch food, the service is fantastic. The waiters are very friendly and professional and seem to know your wishes before you even tell them. Canoe could be a great place for anniversaries or other special occasions that call for an exceptional venue.
North 44 could be selected as one of the top restaurants in North America without controversy. The venue, with its name inspired by Toronto’s latitude, has been voted Toronto’s Best Restaurant by Gourmet Magazine and often wins prizes for excellence from Wine Spectator. There’s no doubt that North 44 is expensive (mains usually cost between $31 and $53), but it’s also one of the most innovative fine dining venues in the city.
Executive chef Mark McEwan does his best to keep up the first-class decadence of his restaurant. For years, he has been creatively combining ingredients of highest quality to achieve the complex flavours and refined textures for which North 44 has become so famous. Just to give you a sense of McEwans’s creations, guests can try dishes like roasted beef tenderloin with seared foie gras, pomme purée, black truffle, glazed pearl onions, and madeira jus or roasted lamb loin with braised shoulder, jalapeño gnocchi, and peas. Meals can be accompanied by a stunning choice of vintage wines, port wines, or fine whiskeys and cognacs. The restaurant’s design features clear lines and neutral tones accented by ample lighting, and the venue can accommodate up to 90 guests including its private salons. North 44 also offers offsite catering for both casual and formal events.
C5 Restaurant boasts an amazing location in the beautifully designed pinnacle of the ROM’s new Crystal addition. Daniel Libeskind’s jagged metal design is an excellent background to C5, which manages to be a true restaurant within a museum — not just a museum restaurant, as one commenter put it. At lunch, museum guests stop by to supplement their cultural experience with a bit of fine dining and in the evening, well-dressed customers flock in to enjoy a refined dinner.
The executive chef of the venue, Terry Corrado, likes to say that his menu is like Toronto cuisine itself: inspired by tastes from all around the world mixed together in an innovative fusion. Some customers object that the portions are slightly too small and after paying $300 for two, you still might not be full. On the other hand, gourmet restaurants are generally not renowned for providing huge portions. The service here is top form and does everything to make everyone’s visit memorable. Complete brunches are available on Sunday from 11:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. for $55 per person, including tax, tip, and a glass of wine. The average main course costs about $20.
Scaramouche is among the most critically acclaimed venues in Toronto, winning a full range of awards, including Toronto Life’s “Best Desserts 2009” and “Toronto’s Best Restaurant” by Gourmet Magazine twice over. Scaramouche is simply the gold standard of Toronto’s dining scene, and even though the feel and design of the restaurant is a bit dated and perhaps too strongly reminiscent of the 1980s, it’s a beloved classic everyone loves and happily revisits.
The menu is very diverse, including delicious pastas, the freshest seafood delicacies, and the best cuts of meat — all exquisitely prepared with a touch of influence from French cuisine. Visitors should take great care not to skip Scaramouche’s famed desserts and to try at least some of the housemade ice creams or excellent pastries. In addition to the amazing food, the view of Toronto here is a stunner, and all visitors can look forward to the attentive and friendly service that makes the overall experience even better. Expect to pay $25 and up for an entrée.