Dining Out 2.0 - The Reboot

Going out to eat is one of the most celebratory events of the day and week. So despite the almost daily restaurant openings continuing into next week (a week before Christmas!) and all of the holiday events you'll be attending at various restaurants and bars around town, even the specialness of having someone else's hand-crafted fare can start to feel a little rote by this time of year.

So for those looking for different and exciting ways to dine out, I've got a few fun suggestions:

Tasting Menus

A chef's tasting menu is one of the best ways to experience a restaurant. Here, the chef gets the opportunity to try new ingredients and techniques that might not follow the format of the restaurant. 

And chances are many of the courses won't ever find their way onto the regular menu, and the menu will change so often, that sea urchin that chef made for you? Only a select few will every have it.

Chef Tables

Getting to see the kitchen in action is like dinner and a show. Depending on the restaurant, you'll get to interact with the chef and staff and chances are, you'll learn a new technique, such as how your pasta is presented in an Instagram worthy pile or how to infuse rosemary quickly into a leg of lamb or ensure crisp chicken skin every time.

Two of the most unique are TOCA at the Ritz-Carlton, where the dining table is right in the massivekitchen, with the pass just a few feet away, and Chef Corbin’s Savoury at The Westin Harbour Castle (pictured above), where the room seats just ten guests, and it's your very own private dinner party.

Sunday Supper

Mondays are hard enough to get ready for without having a meal to shop for, prep and cook and huge pile of Sunday dinner dishes to do, so head somewhere that does Sunday Supper for a great comfort food meal, without any of the cleanup.

Go old school with the 3-course Sunday Supper at The Saint ($29) and at The Queen and Beaver, every Sunday evening, they serve Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

Or head to Lamesa, for their incredibly unique dinner that you eat with your hands.

Afternoon Tea

While everyone is shivering, lining up for brunch, why not revel in the quietude and elegance of Afternoon Tea? Between the fine tea sandwiches, decadent pastries and large pot of tea, you’ll be relaxed and satiated, and with a whole afternoon and evening still ahead of you.

Most of the city's hotels offer a tea, but to get in the holiday mood, head to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for their lovely Nutcracker Tea.

Join a Supper Cub

I wrote about social supper clubs last week, and this is a great way to discover restaurants you haven’t been to. And you’d be amazed with what you learn by dining out with such a diverse groups – cooking techniques, other restaurants to visit, where to shop for ingredients and cookbooks to covet.

The Depanneur hosts the Rusholme Park Supper Club several times a month. A chef is invited to to prepare a multi-course dinner. They push the tables together for 20 guests to "dine together, along with the cook, in an informal, family-style, B.Y.O.B. dinner party." 

Kalofagas Greek Supper Club hosted by Peter Minaki is wildly popular, and Massimo Brunos’ Supper Clubs have everything from an Italian Chrimstas dinner to one focused on Sardinia in January.

Restaurant Themed Dinners

Themed dinners are a great way to indulge in your favourite destinations, movies and books. Whether it’s a “Big Night” Italian dinner or enjoying foods from the Mediterranean coast, you get to fully envelop yourself in something outside of what the restaurant normally offers.

Ristorante Boccaccio has themed dinners such as their recent one featuring Calabria, and Jubilee Queen Cruises holds their meals on a boat. Dinner on the water? How cool is that?