There are things that go better together like peanut butter and jam, baseball and hot dogs and my favourite – dinner and theatre.
Toronto is ranked the third greatest city in the world for theatre that ranges from casual movies at TIFF Lightbox to formal ballet at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. In between are family plays, exciting musicals, dramatic dance performances and formal opera. It stands to reason that not one restaurant fits all occasions and the best options aren’t necessarily the most popular. So I teamed up with Expedia Canada to share a list of my favourite eateries that just go better with theatre.
It doesn’t get more theatrical than Montecito co-owned by movie producer Ivan Reitman (Ghost Busters). The secret back entrance allows celebrities to move from TIFF Lightbox behind them to the restaurant and you never know who you’ll find dining there. The food is brilliantly delicious partly because of their use of local producers and partly because of Chef Jonathan Waxman’s light California style that Chef Kim Haugen executes with complete brilliance. Try the Kale Salad, it’s hand-massaged for tenderness and dressed in a light anchovy pecorino dressing that takes you to the south of Italy with every bite.
Nota Bene is a block away from the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts and the menu is equally impressive listing thick slabs of Roasted Wild Halibut and succulent Perth County Beef Tenderloin. Many of the foods are sourced locally, all are prepared creatively and each hold their own surprise twist by Chef David Lee. My favourite (yet not local) is the Calamari A La Plancha with their house-made XO Sauce for that savoury grab and just enough bracing coriander for real drama. It’s pretty delicious.
Towering above Roy Thompson Hall (and a few short blocks away) is 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower. What I love here is the tried-and-true, traditional dishes that Executive Chef Peter George pampers with flavour, tenderness and a clean style that makes you take notice. I can never decide between the Wetzel Farm’s Duck Breast with Beamsville Sour Cherries or the Ontario Lamb Sausage with Minted Summer Peas. These may sound like heavy dishes but the brilliantly clean style of George has them eating more light-weight and both are perfectly suited to pre theatre dining.
Fine dining chef Elia Hererra brings her family recipes from Vera Cruz, Mexico to Los Colibris on King Street a few doors down from the Princess of Wales Theatre. While Los Colibris is a high-end Mexican restaurant with authentic (and exquisite) Mexican cuisine and a tequila bar downstairs, it can also be as casual as tacos on the patio – El Patio. To enter the patio, venture down Pearl Street but if you blink, you’ll miss the patio behind the shipping containers reincarnated into the patio bar and kitchen. Get the Guacamole with house-made Taro Chips and a frothy Margarita post-theatre or a pre-theatre dinner of Mixiote de Cordero (braised lamb shank with ancho chipotle) at Los Colibris.
There’s something for everyone at Wahlburgers on Blue Jays Way including episodes of Wahlburgers, the reality show playing on the giant screens. Thick, meaty burgers are sandwiched between a soft, eggy bun that succumbs to the burger when bitten for a solid mouthful of beef. Thick, boozy milkshakes separate the adults from the youngsters and comfort food sides satisfy everyone’s soul.
If you’re looking for great theatre to go with delicious food, check out Best Theatre in Toronto!