Cultureguru's Weblog

Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Toronto weekend

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A conference Jean was attending happened to fall on my birthday weekend; hence, we went to Toronto for my birthday. Jean had to be there Friday morning. He didn’t find the prospect of driving himself in too appealing, but train service from Kitchener has gone from bad to worse. So he took the Greyhound. I did the same after work. It went well for both of us (though mine had the inevitable rush hour clog at points), and return bus tickets for two was likely less than parking and gas would have been.

We had fun texting each other on my bus ride over, until his phone died at an inopportune time; just as we were trying to meet at the station. Happily we managed to find each other before too long, even without the tech.

Jean was staying at the conference, the Metropolitan, which has a well-regarded restaurant: Lai Wah Heen. So we just ate there the first night. Basically, they offer high-end Chinese food: It’s a beautiful room with white linens, with a menu of stir-fries, soups, dumplings, and fried rice. So there isn’t a whole lot of creativity in the dishes, per se, but everything is impeccably prepared, and the service is very good. And you can get a few premium ingredients, such as foie gras and duck in the fried rice.

Scallops stir-fry from Lai Wah Heen

Nicely prepared scallops, with glass of Cave Spring Riesling

Jean had to continue conferencing the next morning, so after a Starbucks breakfast, I walked over to the St Lawrence Market. Similar idea to the Waterloo one, really, but more international. I came back with some olive oil, cheese, and blackcurrant honey.

After a quickie Thai lunch, we did some more walking around Toronto, including the near-mandatory stop at Mountain Equipment Coop. I bought a dress (since I can’t seem to resist buying dresses…).

Cow from financial district

Financial district of Toronto

Dinner reservations that night were for Nota Bene, which seems to be a bit of trendy place right now. It was busy, but we were seated in a reasonably quiet spot. We found the food a bit uneven. Jean’s appetizer of venison pate, while my lobster salad certainly wasn’t bad, but wasn’t greatly flavorful.

Lobster salad at Nota Bene

Lobster salad at Nota Bene

But my main course of rabbit mushroom pasta was really quite delicious, and I ate every bite. Jean, on the other hand, found that his scallops were overdone.

Scallops at Nota Bene

Must say the scallops *look* good, though

For dessert, most unusually, I didn’t particularly feel like the sweet stuff, and I suggested the cheese plate! Neither of us had complaints about that course.

Cheese plate at Nota Bene

Cheese platter

Sunday we breakfasted at the hotel (expensive but quite good), then headed to the AGO. They didn’t have any particular special exhibits on; just some photography by Patti Smith—small Polaroids that didn’t really impress Jean. But it’s always nice to look at the Canadian collection.



We met up with my sister and brother-and-law there for lunch (or brunch) at Frank Restaurant. We all enjoyed that meal, and did some catching up.

Then back home together on the bus, which also went quite well.

Full gallery of photos

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