the-chase-dining-room

Toronto’s top 5 expensive-but-worth-it restaurants

Blow your budget on the city's best meals
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Blow your budget on the city's best meals
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With February coming to a close, many of you have likely received your bonus.

The responsible among you will be making self-satisfied squirrel-like noises as you tuck the cash away in an RRSP. This column is not for you.

Rather, this column is for the profligate. For those of you looking to celebrate a busy year or an elevation to partnership, I present five restaurants that will be more than happy to separate you from your money.


Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto
6 Garamond Court | 416.444.7100 | kaiseki.ca

Kaiseki serves up traditional Japanese cuisine that is part gourmet cooking and part art form. This is the pinnacle of Japanese dining, which explains why the cuisine has lasted more than five centuries. It also explain the price: the dinner menu is a flat $300 — drinks not included (you can eat lunch for $200). Dinner features eight courses and, at the end, a complimentary tea ceremony. This is the ultimate in slow food: expect dinner to last between two and three hours. You’ll also need to make a reservation at least a week in advance.

The Chase
10 Temperance St. | 647.348.7000 | thechasetoronto.com

Sure, a half-chicken dinner with fries from Swiss Chalet costs around $12, but it’s just chicken. To really experience poultry, venture out to The Chase where it’s not just chicken: it’s chicken whole roasted with foie gras, prunes, armagnac and brioche. Indeed, this chicken is so precious, that after it’s roasted, servers bring it tableside for inspection. If it meets your approval, they spirit it back to the kitchen to be sliced and diced by a professional. You’ll pay $71 for this expertly roasted and carved bird. The Chase’s offering is for two, so it may not be fair to compare it to Swiss Chalet. Oh, and it doesn’t come with fries.

Jacobs & Co.
12 Brant St. | 416.366.0200 | jacobssteakhouse.com

Part restaurant, part lounge, this King West steakhouse has been a staple of the well-heeled since it opened in 2007. Their menu is full of pricey items, but big spenders will want to try the 16oz Black Tajima striploin priced at $328. Bigger appetite? Upsize to the 24oz ribeye for $492. For some perspective, that’s almost $200 more than the monthly lease payment of a Mini Cooper.

BarChef
472 Queen St. W. |416.868.4800 | barcheftoronto.com

While the stable of cocktails at $25 apiece might take your breath away, the $45 Manhattan is sure to cause you to hyperventilate. Like most of New York, however, you’re paying for the experience. And what an experience. The vanilla hickory smoked Manhattan uses Crown Royal Special Reserve, vanilla infused brandy, sherry and vanilla bitter, and smoke. And more smoke. Its preparation is a showstopper — ice picks and open flame are involved — and its arrival at your table is no less breathtaking: the drink comes inside a smoke-filled bell jar, nestled on glowing embers of scorched hickory. When the jar is lifted, smoke curls wraithlike around the table. It’s so hypnotizing that the cost seems downright reasonable.

Pangaea
1221 Bay St. | 416.920.2323 | pangaearestaurant.com

This Yorkville restaurant is renowned for its simple, earthy, back-to-nature approach to food. The usual adjectives apply: local, organic, seasonal and so forth. It also has some of the most expensive tea in Toronto. The priciest teas are grouped under a heading that says “Rare.” One selection, “Organic Blooming Mushroom Tea,” is a green hand-formed and high-grown tea from Nuwara-Eliya, Sri Lanka. I admit I don’t know much about tea. But I assume that being hand-formed and high-grown makes it worth the $13 price tag.


Kirsten Thompson is a Toronto-based research lawyer and commercial litigator. Since her call to the bar in 2000, she estimates that her restaurant to courtroom ratio has been approximately 14:1. Thoughts? Comments? Ideas for a review? Email her. Follow Judge Foodie on Twitter: @Judge_Foodie