During our recent visit to the Toronto waterfront; we had the occasion to visit several outstanding restaurants and pubs. Here’s a summary of the establishments we visited.

Toulà is the main dining room of the Westin Harbour Castle – and to make it even more special – it’s a rooftop restaurant with spectacular views of the harbour, Centre Island and downtown Toronto. While the views are terrific – once our food arrived we spent little time looking at the view. The menu features a generous offering of Tuscan dishes. One member of our group had a number of food allergies, and after making some notes, our waiter returned with several options, which she subsequently reported to be delicious.

For my part – my Caesar salad was generous in proportion, crisp and just what my taste buds had expected. I ordered a veal chop on our waiter’s recommendation and it was easily the best I had ever tasted, barely needing to use a knife. Described by our waiter as the Fred Flintstone size – it was indeed a hefty portion. Members of our group ordered Atlantic salmon, pasta, and lamb and Cornish hen dishes – all reported to be excellent. The chef prepared a platter of beef medallions and steamed vegetables for our colleague with the food allergies.

The restaurant has an extensive wine list, and dessert was accompanied by à variety of Italian coffees. Toulà is an easy recommendation, and while it is certainly a “special occasion” restaurant – don’t limit yourself. Toulà has its own website with the full menu and prices; www.toularestaurant.com

Ciao in Yorkville – This is a definitely a place to see and be seen. Located on Yorkville Avenue, across the street from the uber-luxurious Hazelton Hotel, Ciao is caters to the rich and famous, and those working very hard to get there. Spread over three levels, you don’t realize that you’re in a restaurant with a capacity of 250, because each level maintains an intimate (and occasionally boisterous) atmosphere. Décor is urban chic and funky; with exposed brick walls, and earthy butcher block tables. You need more than a good location to satisfy this demanding clientele and Ciao delivers the goods with its extensive Italian menu. All pastas are made in-house and fresh daily. Dining at Ciao is an event, and I recommend that you allow time to enjoy their cuisine at a leisurely pace, with time for an espresso and perhaps an aperitif. Very cool – I enjoyed the food and the people watching. www.ciaowinebar.com

360 is the name of the CN Tower restaurant, which revolves 360 degrees during the course of you meal. Diners have a separate elevator, whisking you up to the top of Toronto. The views are absolutely spectacular, and the food was delicious. I had Cornish hen, and the generous serving was excellent. You might not expect it, but Restaurant 360 has a wine ‘cellar’ containing over 5,000 bottles and giving diners a choice of 550 labels to select from. Maitre D’ and Sommelier James Muir (a transplanted Montrealer) told us that they also maintain another 20,000 bottles in their ground-level cellars. For connoisseurs of wine and cognac, James showed us a bottle of ‘Black Pearl’ Louis XIII cognac that customers can order at $1,600 per ounce!

Chef Peter George has been with 360 since 1995, and under his leadership the restaurant has won numerous awards, including Distinguished Restaurants of North America; and a Best of Award of Excellence from the prestigious Wine Spectator Magazine. www.cntower.ca/en-CA/360-Restaurant

We tried a few other pub-style eateries that are ideal for lunch or a light dinner – especially if time matters because you’re attending a show. The Water Mark Irish Pub opens their harbour-side terrace from April through to early October. Inside, “The Mark” has all the flair and warmth of an Irish pub, complete with fireplaces, cozy nooks, and outstanding Irish Pub fare. Their everyday motto is “Thank Guinness It’s Friday” Lots of fun, and a great spot with teenagers who could roam the Harbourfront area while you enjoy a coffee.
If you have a desire for deli-style nourishment – the place to go is Shopsy’s. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Shopsy’s is a Toronto icon, located at 93 Richmond St. in the Sheraton Centre. They also have a location on Centre Island. I had a smoked meat sandwich (the waitress cautioned me that it was different than a Montreal smoked meat), and it was excellent! Cole slaw, dill pickle and fries – it’s all good. www.shopsys.ca

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