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Sushi making classes in Toronto?

Loblaws has a hands-on sushi course (actually, they have two - one beginner and one intermediate). A couple of girlfriends and I decided to check it out as an alternative to the usual dinner-and-drinks outings, and we had a great time.

The price was really affordable as well, esp when you compare to some of the alternatives like George Brown or the LCBO. The downsides: only the larger Loblaws locations have classes, and it can be hard to figure out when/where they're holding the next class, since the website will only let you view the schedule on a per-location basis.

Accessible Resto near College/Spadina?

Thanks for the suggestion - this is exactly the kind of place I had in mind.

Unfortunately, the website mentions they'll be closed for the long weekend, but I'll definitely be keeping it in mind for the next time we want to take her out for a nice lunch.

Accessible Resto near College/Spadina?

Chowhounds, I have a challenge for you...

We're planning on taking out my grandmother for a nice Thanksgiving lunch as a litte treat, since she rarely gets a chance to eat a nice meal now that she's in a nursing home. However, there's a catch - my grandmother has limited mobility and requires a wheelchair to get around.

I'm looking for a place that meets the following criteria:
* level entranceway - even a single step will be a problem for us
* tables that are spaced far enough apart so the wheelchair isn't an obstacle
* washrooms on ground level
* reasonably-priced food

Ideally, we need a restaurant on either College or Harbord between Spadina and Bathurst, as that's what's within walking distance of the nursing home (my grandmother does not feel comfortable with car rides). Kensington Market is also an option if anyone has any recommendations, though I'd prefer to avoid it if possible since it can get very crowded on weekends.

I should mention that I've already reviewed the listings in both Now and Toronto Life's websites, but I know from experience that several of the places listed as "accessible" are in fact very difficult to navigate with a wheelchair (for example, Free Times Cafe has a step at the entrance and the tables are too close together to get the wheelchair through easily).

I know this is a very challenging request, but I've always found Chowhound to be a great resource - hopefully the 'hounds can come through for me once more. :)

Do you ever CHOOSE to go where the food is iffy?

I'm usually willing to forgive mediocre or outright bad food if the place has a good beer list and a nice patio. I'm more than happy to order up some greasy nachos (or some other borderline edible app), a couple of pitchers of beer and park my butt on the patio for a few hours to have a good chat with friends. There's just something infinitely more satisfying about that combination that a fantastic meal indoors just can't give me, and that I'll purposely seek out several times during the warmer months.

Mind you, I won't step foot in those places in the wintertime when the patio is closed. Sitting indoors with greasy food and a pitcher of beer just isn't the same.

May 05, 2008
tartiflette in Not About Food

Need veggie-friendly resto near the Phoenix (for tonight)

'Hounds, I turn to you once again for your wisdom and impeccable taste in food. :)

A group of us are heading to the Phoenix for a show tonight, and we're hoping to grab a bite to eat in the general vicinity beforehand. For those who aren't familiar with the venue, it's located on Sherbourne near Carlton, though we're willing to roam anywhere between Parliament, Bay, Queen and Bloor in search of good eats.

What we'd like to find is someplace casual, not too expensive (mains under $20, if possible), and with good food. There will be five of us.

The requirements are these:
1. We've got one vegetarian, so the menu must have a reasonable selection of veggie friendly dishes (preferably something more than just a pasta option and a handful of salads).
2. Another friend has a peanut allergy, so Thai and Vietnamese and other peanut-heavy cuisines are off-limits. Epi-pens tend to bring the good times to a grinding halt.
3. Lastly, yet another friend is not particular adventurous when it comes to food, so we'd prefer to stick with more "mainstream" foods lest he end up starving (sadly, this rules out Ethiopian, which would have been a good bet otherwise).

Other than that, we're pretty flexible. Challenging, huh? Hopefully I'm not asking for the impossible. :(

Decent Poutine along Yonge/Dundas...

You'll hit paydirt if you walk about 10 minutes south-west.

Common agreement on these here boards is that you can get a very reasonable poutine from the blue truck parked in front of Nathan Phillips square. Otherwise, there really isn't much worth speaking of in that area, besides the aforementioned NY Fries.

Looking for Restaurant in Annex

Not to nitpick, but Joyce's is hardly the place I'd go if I wanted to treat someone to a nice dinner and a glass of wine. It's more of a West Indian takeout joint, and the closest they get to alcoholic beverages is ginger beer.

As far as my $0.02 go, my vote would be for Messis, as others have already suggested. I've yet to have a bad meal there, and the atmosphere would definitely be conducive to a festive gathering.

Another great option would be Serra on Bloor St W near Spadina. The menu is pretty straightforward Italian, mostly pizza and pasta. The food is quite good, though, and prices are mid-range ($15-$25 for mains). Also, they have a very reasonable wine list, including several wines by the glass.

Bye Bye Roy Square

Sigh. Yet another interesting Toronto neighbourhood gem bites the dust courtesy of your local friendly developer. Fear not, locals... I'm sure their generic street-level retail will include a Starbucks, a dry cleaner, and a Lululemon to replace the interesting variety of ethnic foods you could previously buy at that corner.

I'll definitely miss Banana Leafs. They were one of the last remaining places in the Yonge/Bloor area that offered healthy, tasty and generously portioned food for reasonable prices. :(

Pantheon on Danforth - my little review

I'm starting to feel unloved. I've been twice now, and both times no cake for me.


'50s looking diner in Toronto?

Actually, the Bus Terminal Restaurant is so named because it was actually a bus terminal once upon a time - "theme" kind of implies that it's not the real deal. They've done a good job of keeping the original feel of the place without going too kitsch. Food's not half bad either.

But IMO, the granddaddy of all authentic 50's diners in TO is most definitly Mars at Bathurst and College.

Finally found my way out of pizza-delivery hell - I'm BONA-fied!

I'd been leery about La Grotta since I hadn't heard much either way, but seeing as this is the second thumbs-up I've seen, I might just have to bite the bullet and try it out. It is just around the corner from me, after all... which means I can always take a quick walk back and spit on their doorstep if it's really awful. :)

Are there any particular topping combos that you found were particularly good?

Reliable Fish 'n Chips - Queen St. East

Just curious... what makes you feel that the cod should've been halibut? Was it just not as excellent as the halibut, or was it genuinely bad?

I'd love to know, as I just spent 2 weeks in St John's stuffing my face with as much Cod n' Chips as I could eat, and it was a revelation to me after years of being a halibut devotee. I just found that it had better flavour and texture, though much of it probably had to do with the fact that the fish was probably swimming in the ocean just hours before hitting the fryer.

I'm actually rather excited at the concept of getting Cod n' Chips so close to home, but I'd rather leave my warm memories untainted by a crappy product and just go with my usual halibut. :P

Breakfast/brunch by Union Station

Dang. I take it back. Unless I'm reading the website wrong, they only have brunch on Mondays, Tuesdays and weekends. I guess they've scaled back on breakfast service on Wed-Fri to accomodate the dinner service.

Sorry. :(

Breakfast/brunch by Union Station

I can't really comment on either of the restaurants you mention, but given that hotel brunches tend to be pricey to start with and that the King Eddy and Royal York are two of the most expensive hotels in town, I'd say you're looking at something about 10x the cost of a McDonald's meal (albeit for 10x the class).

If you're up for a 10 minute walk, you might want to check out Le Petit Dejeuner on King near George. It's one of my favourite places for brunch in the city, and one of the few that serves weekday brunch. It's not as posh as the King Eddy, granted, but it's a very fun and "Toronto" place to go if you're with out-of-towners.

Menu (and other info) here:

Marcel's or Saint Tropez

IIRC, the two are essentially one and the same, though there are slight variations in the menu and pricing. Le Saint Tropez bills itself as a more casual type of joint, but you'd never know it since the prices are on par with the "classier" Marcel's upstairs.

Heck, they even used the same web designer when they put together their webpages:

St. John's Bakery

During the summer, they were selling wild blueberry scones that were to die for. We managed to snag a couple from their stand at the Brickworks Market, neither of which survived the trip home. Perfect texture, not too dry, and with just the right amount of sweetness to match up with a cup of coffee.

Mind you, blueberry season is long past now, but I'm sure they'll have switched to a different flavour that's more seasonally appropriate or are using frozen blueberries to bridge the gap. Two giant thumbs up.

Review of multiple restos in Leslieville/Riverside

I blame residual brain-freeze from the profiteroles. :)

Review of multiple restos in Leslieville/Riverside

Agreed on the assessment of Batifole. It's our new personal favourite too.

The Boy and I both had the prix fixe menu. He had the escargot and blanquette de veau, and I had the wild boar terrine and baked bass, both of which came with a mixed green salad and fries with tarragon aioli. I loved everything - my only complaint is the fries, but not because they were bad.. it's just that they didn't live up to the quality of everything else and I've had MUCH better in crappier restaurants.

To finish, we split the two desserts included with the menu (frozen chocolate profiterole and ). There was a small group of Parisians at another table having a great time and raving about the food - so even the experts agree. :)

Hidden gems in Chritie-Dupont area?

Aside from Faema, there's really not too much in your immediate area that's worth checking out (I should know... I lived in that 'hood for 3 years and bemoaned it constantly).

However, if you're up to making a short trek north to Christie and St Clair, you've got some fantastic options:

To start you off, there's Mezzetta, which serves middle-eastern style tapas/mezes. It's got a great ambiance and laid-back vibe, and is very affordable to boot. Bonus - live jazz some nights of the week!

A couple of doors east is Churrasco of St Clair, which (in my opinion) makes the best churrasco in town. Takeout only, but it would be a short drive home from the sounds of it. A lot of the locals must agree with me, because there are some loooooong lineups around dinnertime Friday and Saturday night.

Heading a couple of blocks west, you'll find Ferro. Their menu consists mostly of salads/pizza/panini, it's a bit pricier than other neighbourhood options but everything I've had there is excellent and the ambience is tres romantique.

Another must-try is Pain Perdu (on the north side, a wee bit west of Christie), which run by French expats. It's a great choice for brunch or if you're just in the mood for a quick coffee and pastry, though there isn't all that much seating. There's been some debate here about the quality of their croissants - personally, I quite like them and make a point of getting a chocolatine any time I find myself in the area.

If you spend a bit of time exploring, you will likely find a few other hidden gems. There's a small South/Central American community in the area, so it might be worth checking out some of the restaurants serving latin foods.

681 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C1A7, CA

Churrasco Of St Clair
679 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C1A7, CA

769 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C1B4, CA

Pain Perdu
736 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C, CA

Best Piri Piri Chicken in T.O.?

For great takeout churrasco, my #1 favourite has always been Churrasco of St Clair at the corner of St Clair W and Christie. The only downside is that it's takeout only, no eat-in.

Churrasco Of St Clair
679 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C1A7, CA

Cat at restaurant?

Really? The now-defunct Cobalt on College St had a three-legged cat that would often be seen sleeping by the window during the day (while the lounge was closed).

Then again, Cobalt served drinks only and no food, so that might explain why that wasn't an issue.

Oct 18, 2007
tartiflette in Not About Food

Syrup (or sauce) recommendation for licorice ice cream?

I recently had a cone of strawberry anise-seed ice cream, which was a surprisingly delicious combo. Since anise and licorice are fairly similar in flavour, I'm guessing a simple strawberry compote would go well, especially if they're macerated in some Pernod for maximum licorice-ness.

Oct 12, 2007
tartiflette in Home Cooking

Help Me Organize My Recipes Please! [Moved from Home Cooking board]

I'm in the same camp as vorpal. My entire recipe collection is stored in a handful of Word docs - one for desserts, one for mains, one for apps and one for beverages. Each recipe is tagged with categories, and I can also do keyword searches for ingredients if I'm in the mood for something particular (or if there's something in the fridge that needs to be used up).

I had been using a file folder system that I started way back when I was a chowpup of 12, but as I got older I started moving frequently and realised that I didn't enjoy having to lug the collection around from one place to the next. So about 5 yrs ago I decided to switch to digital to lighten the load.

The downside is that it did take a few months to input all my recipes from hard copy, but now that it's done, it's really quite low maintenance. It also helps that most of my favourite magazines have started archiving their recipes on the web, so it's a simple cut and paste job rather than data entry nowadays.

Oct 12, 2007
tartiflette in Not About Food

Mambo Lounge

I figured I'd revive this thread, since I finally got around to checking out Mambo Lounge last night and was thoroughly impressed.

My friend and I decided we'd do a tapas-style meal rather than ordering mains. The price is $6 per dish, or 4 dishes for $21 - some of the portions can be small, but I found that four per person is the perfect amount of food and allows for an interesting variety of flavours. I was particularly impressed by the garlic shrimp, which consisted of three large shrimp which had been sauteed in garlic butter with chunks of mango and pineapple, and a cumin lamb dish, which turned out to be a minced lamb ragout on a grilled portobello.

The mojitos are as good as advertised, minty and fresh without being overly sweet. Even better, our server gave us each a snifter of dark rum when we asked for the bill, which I thought was a very nice closure to a lovely meal.

We had very warm and attentive service through the night from our server, who I suspect is also the owner. Bill for two of us including three drinks, dessert and coffee came to just over $100... affordable enough to splurge on from time to time, but I won't be making it a regular haunt until I get a couple more raises at work. :)

Thanks, bluedog. This one's a winner!

My one kvetch... capps turned out to be $7 each, which is surprisingly pricey (the average cost in town these days seems to be $4-$5). Combine this with a limited dessert menu, and my suggestion would be to opt for coffee and dessert somewhere else on the strip.

Coffee beans - any recommendations?

I quite like the Kicking Horse Cliffhanger espresso beans. The flavour is very smooth and even a little bit sweet, which is what I personally like in an espresso... though it's versatile enough that we've also used it with our French press and a regular perk coffeemaker.

It's a bit pricier since it's fair trade, but you can usually find it for around $15 for 454g bags in larger grocery stores, or you can buy online.

Quick fruit jams, jellies, chutneys

I made sour cherry freezer jam earlier this year. It was my first experiment with jam-making, and I'm so glad I took a chance... it was incredibly easy. I essentially chopped up the fruit, stirred in some sugar and lemon juice, then added the pectin and let stand as instructed. You don't even need to fuss with pots full of boiling water to sterilize glass jars, since any old plastic container does the trick.

I got my recipe from a box of Bernardin Liquid Pectin. They included several other interesting freezer jams that I plan on trying out once we're done with the cherry.

Oct 11, 2007
tartiflette in Home Cooking

Good Eats at Bay/Bloor

Sorry, I have to disagree about Saigon Sister. Service is beyond awful - I've often been left waiting for upwards of twenty minutes just to place an order with a server nowhere to be found, and have often had to ask repeatedly for the bill.

Bad enough when it's after work for drinks or a nibble, but it's a definite deal-breaker when I'm on the clock and need to be back at my desk within an hour.

Food is passable, but it's pretty much style over substance - I guess they hope a pretty plating and trendy molded plywood seating will distract you from the fact that you can get a better rendition at half the price down the street at Ginger.

I really only go because it's a friend's favourite and she insists on choosing it when we meet up. Even then, I downright refuse when lunch is involved.

Girls night out

I had a lovely girls night out at Blowfish a little while ago, which is located at King/Bathurst.

Their menu consist of sushi and Japanese fusion, and they have a great selection of sake and sake-based cocktails if you're interested in experimenting. If your pescatarian friend isn't into raw fish, there's a really interesting selection of vegetarian maki rolls to choose from, as well as several cooked fish and seafood dishes.

It's probably around the upper end of your budget (we paid around $100 pp, but that includes tax, tip, and two $12 cocktails apiece).

Wine list and menu here:

668 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M7, CA

Good Eats at Bay/Bloor

I'm in the same neck of the woods... it's hard to find affordable AND good, but a few spots deliver.

My faves:
Le Gourmand (in the food court below The Bay): great quiche and salad combo for under $10, but show up before 12:30 or else it'll be gone. Their meatloaf is also quite good, though the sauce is a bit sweet - combo with a salad is a wee bit more than $10 after tax.

Okonomi House (Charles St, between Bay and Yonge): several different types of Japanese pancakes aka okonomi yaki for under $6 - add a miso soup for $2 and you've got yourself a meal. You can also opt for the yummy chicken teriyaki served with a heap of bean sprouts for about $8.

Ritz (Roy Square) - you can get a small jerk chicken dinner for under $5 at lunchtime or spring for the large for a couple bucks more. Their rotis are usually enough to stretch over 2 meals. Worth waiting in the inevitable lineup.

Banana Leafs (Roy Square) - Thai food that's made when you order it, rather than sitting on a steam table a-la-Spring-Rolls-Go. It's not all that authentic, but it's well priced and very tasty. Most combos are under $6 if I remember right and include soup, salad and rice to go with your stir-fry.

As for the remainder of Roy Square, skip the Biryani House as it's had a steep decline in quality over the last year or so, and make sure you've packed some Pepto if you visit the falafel place on the corner.

Lastly, there's a pretty decent salad bar in the grocery store on the lower level of the Manulife centre. You can also get a few hot dishes to go, like roasted chicken and lasagna and such.

Okonomi House
23 Charles St W, Toronto, ON M4Y2R4, CA

Le Gourmand
2 Bloor St E, Toronto, ON M4W, CA

Good Eats in Sherbrooke?

Poutine and pho under one roof? Sounds like my version of heaven! :) Thanks for the suggestion... I shall definitely have to give this one a try.