Date night, an exciting idea for all. If you are single, dating or married the prospect of date night is exciting. Working through a 40 hour work week, dealing with annoying co workers and customers can drive us crazy but knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you will have a few moments of joy with someone you actually like can get you through the week.
When you have kids the importance of date night is magnified. Usually it is planned from weeks, sometimes month out. For example my wife and I have tickets to Lauryn Hill in July and bought the tickets months ago. (please Lauryn – keep it together until then)
With all of the anticipation and build up to the day or evening, when things don’t go according to plan the mood of the home can get sort of stressful…
Here is a quick account of the hours leading up to my wife and I heading out for date night:
Me trying on a minimum of 5 outfits. I cant wear that its too dressed down, cant wear this because it looks like something I wear to work, cant wear this one because I was foolish enough to think that I could wear a nice shirt without my son mistaking it for a napkin. Finally I figure out what Im going to wear, feel good about things and wife walks in and says “So I thought it would be cute if we could match tonight” so back to the drawing board…
The kids can sense it, they know their parents are going to have fun without them. Normally, the bedtime routine takes 30 minutes; when we have dinner plans the bedtime routine takes a minimum of 3 hours. (they refuse to sleep for the babysitter) This results in multiple frantic calls to the restaurant to change the reservation (is the kitchen open until 2 AM?)
Once we do get into the car, we get to the highway and are hot with the reality that the Gardiner Expressway (for those of you not from Toronto its the highway leading into the city) has heavy traffic 24 hours a day. Panic and stress set in as we realized we have to call in yet again to push our reservation. (Can I just order on the phone so the food is ready when we get there?) and don’t get me started on finding parking…
With all of that said once we do get through all of that, Toronto has many amazing places to eat and drink.
So that brings me to the point of this post, giving some game to my follow dads who want to impress their partner or my young peoples who are trying to fool their dates into thinking they have style and class.
Here are my current go to Date Night Restaurants…
Chubby’s Jamaican Restaurant – 104 Portland St.
One of Torontos hidden gems! The restaurant is located in a nondescript white house in the King West area but once you enter the building you are transported to a modern tropical oasis.
The first thing that hits you as you walk in is the island vibe, from the classic reggae and 90’s R&B (y’all know I love that) booming from the speakers to wicker pendent lights hanging above the bar to the art work spotlighting Jamaican culture, no detail was glossed over in the design. The servers also help to add to the experience as they are informative and friendly which aligns in Chubbies causal welcoming vibe.
As for the food, the menu is chalked with traditional Jamaican dishes like Jerk Chicken and Oxtail but head chef Donavan Campbell also puts a North American twist on a number of “New Style” dishes. You will find items like the Chubby Burger (Jerk Seasoning, Mango Salsa), the Coconut Herb Crusted Sea Bream and the Grilled Shrimp Wraps.
Make sure you leave room for drinks! (you thought I was going to say desert) They offer an assortment of island inspired cocktails that will meet the needs of any patron. The must have drink is the Calabash Bay which is a blend of spiced rum, amaretto, pineapple juice and coconut cream. It comes in a hollowed out pineapple and tastes as good as it looks; this drink is made for two but throw away the second straw ( Two reasons: 1. to save it all for yourself or 2. to drink out of the same straw as your date. If they are will to risk getting in contact with your germs they really likes you.)
Some of my favourite menu items:
- Pepper Shrimp
- Caribbean Veggie Stew
- Jerk Pork
- Rum and Raisin Bread Pudding
Lee Restaurant- 601 King St West
Chef Susur Lee of Iron Chef and Chopped Canada fame and Drakes Restaurant Frings, has curated a unique palate pleasing menu. Lee meshes Asia cuisine with other world dishes to create a truly unique experience.
The dish that will have you posting to Instagram #foodporn is the Singaporean- Style Slaw. This flavourful salad is tossed at your table and includes 19 ingredients perfectly blended together, plus you have the choice of adding Salmon, Tuna or Beef.
The ambience of the restaurant is also top notch with its exposed brick and wood beam roof. Lee is a great place for dinner or too to get drinks and an app before moving on to your evening’s entertainment ( I don’t know much about that, one drink for me and its home time)
Some other favourites off the Menu are:
- “Luckee” Shrimp Cheung Fun
- Cheeseburger Spring Roll
- Sambal Satay
- Watermelon & Ontario Goat Feta Salad
- Signature French & Chinese Tong Yuen
Barque Smokehouse – 299 Roncesvalles Ave.
Located in the heart of Roncesvalles, Barque offers the city something that it has been lacking for a long time – Authentic Southern BBQ. Barque offers an intimate dining experience that is casual and group friendly.
They offer the traditional BBQ menu favourites like ribs, chicken, pulled pork and wings but you will also find some unexpected items such as duck tacos or Korean BBQ Nachos. This variety of options keeps the restaurant fresh if you make multiple visits. The assortment of sauces and rubs also keep things interesting and tasty. You will also find some amazing sides; my personal favourites being the Cajun Mac’ Cheese and the Hush Puppies.
My suggestion would be to order the “Meet Meat Platter” this way you get to sample a number of items on the menu, it is suggested for 4 but if you still order when its only 2 of you I wont judge you. (maybe I will a little bit from afar)
Some other favourites off the Menu are:
- Jumbo Smoked Chicken Wings
- Smoked Pulled Lamb Shoulder
- Barque Caesar Salad
- Cuban Corn