Where to eat near the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts
While the Four Seasons Centre is in the heart of downtown, it’s also in the heart of overpriced tourist traps and mediocre chains. The COC is performing La Bohème and Simon Boccanegra throughout the month, and no one should hear the fat lady sing on an empty stomach. Here, the best bets for a pre- or post-show snack.
Place: Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W. (at York. St.)
Time: Weekday performances at 7:30; Saturday performances at 2 and 4:30; Sunday matinees at 2.
1) Act One
Nota Bene, 180 Queen St. W. (at Simcoe St.), 416-977-6400, www.notabenerestaurant.com
With a special prix-fixe menu only available on days when the Four Seasons has a performance, David Lee’s latest place is a reasonable yet luxurious option. The two- or three-course meal ($27 and $35) includes a light starter of greens or butternut squash soup, followed by mains, such as braised short ribs or pasta with a truffle-scented bolognese, and ends with sorbet or panna cotta. Pre-theatre menu available from 5–6:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.
2) Act Two
Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 145 Richmond St. W. (At University Ave.), 416-955-1455, www.ruthschris-toronto.com
Located inside the Hilton Toronto, this carnivorous palace serves up buttery portions of beef ranging from the petit filet mignon ($39.95) to the cowboy rib-eye steak ($51.95). The sides ($8.95) include their famed creamed spinach and mashed potatoes; with such generous portions, they’re perfect for sharing. Dinner is served until 10 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and 10:45 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. A prix-fixe menu ($54–$64) is available before 6:30 p.m.
3) Act Three
Lai Wah Heen, 108 Chestnut St. (at Dundas St. W.), 416-977-9899, www.metropolitan.com/lwh
While the dim sum crowd congregate in Chinatown or the Pink Pearl at Queen’s Quay, in-the-know diners looking for a less chaotic brunch come here for traditional siu mai ($6 for four pieces) or chef Terrence Chan’s spin on old-time favourites ($3.50–$8 per dish). Dim sum is served weekdays from 11:30–3; on weekends, 11–3.
Art Square Cafe, 334 Dundas St. W. (at McCaul St.), 416-595-5222, www.artsquaregallery.ca
Those who aren’t hungry enough for a pre-theatre menu but don’t want hunger pangs during the final act should come here for a quick pre-show bite (though the Four Seasons’ snack bar does have decent, albeit overpriced, mini subs). Located just across from the AGO, this tiny gallery and café serves sweet and savory crepes ($4.50–$11.50) and profiteroles ($5.25 for four). Open everyday from 10–10 p.m.
5) Curtain Call
Beerbistro, 18 King St. E. (at Victoria St.), 416-861-9872, www.beerbistro.com
While the name doesn’t exactly scream La Bohème, this casual eatery is a short walk from the Four Seasons and features an extensive beer menu (we’re talking more than 100 choices) and dinner service (featuring $16 mussels and $15 pizzas, both cooked with beer) going into the wee hours (until 1 a.m. Monday to Wednesday, 2 a.m. Thursday to Friday, and 11 p.m. on Sunday). For those attending a weekend performance, lunch is served from 11–4.