The lower-level private room at Mengrai.
Here are 10 high-end, group-ready Toronto restaurants ideal for business meetings, events or dine-arounds.
Best Wine List – Via Allegro. Overseen by five on-staff sommeliers, the 5,500-label list comprehensively covers New and Old World wines, features at least 60 vintages by the glass and offers what the restaurant says is the world’s largest collection of Scotch (1,000 varieties) and Amarone (over 300). A perfect complement to the deeply satisfying rustic pastas, the menu’s strength. Two private rooms, seating 15 and 22, available.
Best Thai – Mengrai. Hailing from Northern Thailand, chef Sasi Meechai-Lim puts her highly personal stamp on exuberantly flavourful, haute-Thai dishes. Don’t miss Sasi’s Royal Cuisine Signatures, such as golden pumpkin soup; braised curry lamb with peach; and striped bass in tamarind/coconut sauce. Groups can take advantage of two private rooms, seating up to 26, and a special-event lounge hosting 75.
Best Hotel Restaurant – One (Hazelton Hotel). Meltingly delicate oven-roasted black cod. Silky, spun potatoes with chives. Swoonworthy peanut-butter brulee. Lemon-ricotta pancakes, at breakfast, that are carb heaven. Just another palate-pleasing meal in elegantly understated One restaurant, uber-chef Mark McEwan’s Yorkville outpost. Two private rooms, seating 18 and 60, are ideal for secluded group dine-arounds.
Best Steakhouse – Harbour Sixty. An August, 2009, renovation brightened and modernized the classy space. Steaks are first-rate, as are the shrimp cocktail, stone-crab claws, sides and desserts (especially the banana soufflé with dark-chocolate sauce). The cherry on the sundae, though, is a serving staff that is polished, knowledgeable and gracious. Six private rooms host nine to 50 people.
Best Ambience – The Fifth Grill. Tucked away on the top floor of a warehouse, The Fifth glows with a warmly intimate, upscale-loft vibe, thanks to soft lighting, a zinc bar and a flickering fireplace. On the plate, the mode is classic steakhouse, filtered through a French sensibility. In summer, the patio, offering a stunning view of downtown, is the city’s best. The 90-seat dining room is available for group buyout and can be combined with a pre-function component in the street-level Social Club.
Best Dim Sum – Lai Wah Heen. The kitchen brigade, led by master dim-sum chef Terrence Chan and head restaurant chef Ronny Lam, confects Chinese dumplings that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate. Served in the Metropolitan Hotel’s pleasant ground-floor room, it’s the best dim-sum lunch in town. Private room, seating 22, available for corporate business meetings.
Best Sushi – Sushi Kaji. Using ultra-fresh fish imported from Tokyo Bay, and drawing on rock-solid classical technique, sushi master Mitsuhiro Kaji crafts edible Japanese treasures. All of this unfolds in a spare but inviting, 35-seat restaurant in Toronto’s west end. There’s no à la carte menu, just chef’s-choice omakase menus. You lucky people.
Best Japanese Kaiseki – Hashimoto. Masaki Hashimoto is an artist who crafts seasonally driven, multi-course kaiseki meals of exquisite delicacy. Unique in North America, his new location, in Toronto’s Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, includes the ancient cha-kaiseki tea ceremony. Reservations must be made at least a week in advance, so ingredients can be flown in from Japan.
Best Fish Restaurant – Chiado. Daily, the freshest fish from Portugal arrives at the restaurant, where exec chef Manny Vilela prepares it simply and expertly. The rest of the modern Portuguese menu favours still more treasures of the sea and, at the adjacent tapas bar, tempting small plates. Groups can choose from the 50-seat tapas bar, the downstairs, 24-seat wine cellar or two second-floor rooms hosting eight and 10.
Best Creativity – George. Chefs Lorenzo Loseto and Fiona Lim’s upscale market cuisine blends high-end technique with seasonal ingredients into plates that are inventive, yet rooted in gastronomic good sense. Four private rooms, and private courtyard, available for sit-down and cocktail events; entire complex available for group-event buyouts Sundays and Mondays.