Toronto’s restaurant scene offers a wonderful “underground” of private dining spots that set very intimate, exclusive backdrops for client entertaining, discreet negotiations, working lunches, and celebrations.
TSEvents e-news spotlights a few of these hidden culinary gems:
Reds Wine Tavern
A new moniker, Reds Wine Tavern, and a complete interior redo re-launched the Financial District’s Reds Bistro and Wine Bar last fall. Gone is the former white-linen dining approach. In its place, a lively, smart casual setting for Bay Street’s players to kick back in. Warm paint, natural woods, communal tables, eclectic accents and lighting fuse perfectly in an environment that entices exploration of the extensive wine menu (77 wines by the glass!) and delicious, new shareable plates from Chef Ryan Gallagher, a past Top Chef Canada contestant.
Upstairs features two private dining spaces as well as a semi-private 14-seat Chef’s Table, a coveted spot for personally presented plates by Chef himself. The Bay Room, with sliding privacy doors, is an intimate setting for up to 12 seated. The Adelaide Room with exposed brick and unique hanging bulb fixtures seats up to 30 diners. Customize food-and-wine packages including engaging tutored tastings.
The recent addition of the Shangri-La Hotel to University Avenue’s streetscape gives Toronto diners Bosk, the luxury hotel’s signature restaurant. Meaning “small wooded area,” Bosk lives up to its definition with a beautiful, bright, open space adorned by ornamental wood fretwork walls and ceiling, and distinctive green and clear glass balloon chandeliers.
Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the street, perfectly situated in the city’s cultural corridor with the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts up the road and TIFF around the corner. Sliding latticework doors enclose a lovely private room for up to 30 people, with comfy, pillow-throw strewn banquettes. Internal door sliders can split the room in half. Chef Damon Campbell marries his kitchen time at Shangri-La’s Malaysian and Philippines outposts with Toronto’s cultural diversity for modern-contemporary cuisine inspired by international flavours and local, seasonal ingredients.
Ignite a group’s joie de vivre at Zazou Lounge, an exclusive private dining and event salon which shares the same King Street address as sister French restaurants Marcel’s and Le Saint Tropez. The second-floor Entertainment District venue, accessible via private street-level entrance, is ideal for French-inspired soirées of up to 200, with reception and bar-lounge front of house and a 50-seat dining room in back.
Colour-blocked wall panels of vibrant red, violet, green and teal, plush sofas, fireplaces throughout, and French jazz on the sound system make for a stylishly cheery ambience. Full in-house audio-visual and configurable furnishings accommodate various layouts and activities including, as one group recently requested, an indoor game of pétaqune (boules). Prix-fixe menus plus over 30 different canapés available by the dozen are an easy way to take a culinary tour of France.
Diners entering The Cellar, Splendido’s private dining room, do a double take at the gorgeous green vista of rolling vineyards that greets them. The “picture window” is a stunningly realistic photograph of Niagara’s Hidden Bench winery stretching across a full wall of the lower-level space. Embraced by the restaurant’s glassed-in 5,000-bottle wine cellar, the setting is tailor-made for serious wine-and-food experiences.
Roomy yet intimate, The Cellar is ideal for private gourmet dinners for six to eight people, but spacious enough to seat 36 and host receptions for up to 75. Audio-visual and projector screen are available for business meetings and presentations. A dedicated kitchen and bar serve the room. Go prix fixe or work with Chef-co-owner Victor Barry to customize.
Harbour Sixty Steakhouse
Expense accounts and meat lovers come together at Harbour Sixty Steakhouse, the luxe restaurant housed in the historic Harbour Commission Building that fronts Lakeshore Boulevard. Opulence spreads throughout the three-level venue, from the dramatic interior design, resplendent with lavish touches of silk wallpaper, an onyx bar, mother-of-pearl wall accents, crystal chandeliers and imported marble flooring, to the finest quality steaks and seafood cooked to request and meticulously plated.
Five private dining rooms range in size, seating groups from 10 to 50. Each space boasts its own distinctive personality. The Commissioner’s Room, seating up to 20, is a majestic showstopper with grand high ceilings, detailed wood paneling and fireplace mantel. Three magnificent chandeliers grace the elegant Louis XIII dining room. Illuminated wine cabinetry stylizes the Vintages South Dining Room, perfect for groups of up to 26. Open up to the Vintages North Dining Room for one large private reception and dining room for up to 50.
A favourite dining destination for over 16 years, Yorkville’s Pangaea Restaurant offers a tranquil and welcoming nature-inspired setting with warm woods, soft colours and lofty 18-ft. ceilings. Chef-owner Martin Kouprie was one of the city’s first restaurateurs to profile regional and organic ingredients in simple but creative taste experiences. Chef de cuisine Joel LaBute pitstops for fresh produce and supplies from farms along his daily commute in from his home in St. Catharines, ON.
Accordion doors enclose the restaurant’s spacious 50-seat private room near the back of the main floor dining area. Upstairs, a glassed-in nook seating 14 overlooks the level below. Excellent acoustics and laptop-linkable flat screen make the second-floor space a popular choice for lunchtime presentations. Sommelier Benjamin Hardy leads passionate and informative tutored wine tastings. Chef-presented meals can be arranged. Add in signed copies of Kouprie’s cookbook as takeaway gifts.
Earth Bloor West
Restaurateur Ed Ho knows the value of private dining options, offering three exclusive spaces within his Earth Bloor West location. Swathed in natural materials, woods and textures, the expansive three-storey resto takes its cue from fresh, local, seasonal ingredients for a la carte or customized event menus.
Generous-sized private dining spaces accommodate groups small to large. Above the wine bar, the mezzanine makes for a lovely private niche for 25, while the main floor’s back dining room holds up to 55 diners. A large, lower-level event space seating 220 has its own separate entrance, prep kitchen, full bar and stage. The room and fixtures echo upstair’s décor of natural hues and reclaimed barnwood. Its open floor concept is set-up friendly for a wide range of event uses including corporate dinners, classroom style presentations, concerts and cocktail receptions.
Experience the magic a true Italian family-style feast can have on a crowd gathered around the rustic harvest table in Enoteca Sociale’s private wine cellar-dining room. Partially enclosed by the restaurant’s wine racks, the lower-level space is a simple and relaxed setting for a dozen diners. A window to what’s aging in the adjacent cheese cave gives the room a unique pantry feel.
Food, wine and the room’s intimacy fuel spirited around-the-table camaraderie and conversation. Restaurant menu selections are divine, but better to give Chef Luca Gatti a free hand in creating the cellar’s signature five-course family feast. Each course delivers a hearty selection of traditional Roman cuisine – two to three choices per — deliciously crafted and playfully presented on helpee-selfee platters set on the table by attentive, enthusiastic wait staff. Mangiare!