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Best craft beer joints in Toronto

You won't go wrong with Lister's list. There's great craft beer all over the city these days, but for sheer variety and enthusiasm Bar Hop is my current favourite (and great food too). Volo remains Toronto's original beer geek destination for good reason. C'est What often gets overlooked these days but they're a great spot for specifically Ontario craft beers. Thirsty and Miserable has that unique casual Kensington Market vibe so it could be a fun place to take someone who's more used to your typical corporate pubs.

Mill Street Brew pub/beer hall is all right for what it is, though quite touristy so avoid peak tourist hours.

There's a trio of bars called Town Crier, Sin & Redemption and Prenup which are all run by the same people and have enormous (70+) tap lists, but they are very European-centric: great if your friend is big into German and Belgium wits and whatnot, but these are beers you can probably get around the world, unlike the Canadian and Ontario focus of the places above.

And please, whatever you do, don't get talked into taking him to the perpetually overrated Bier Markt.

Jan 21, 2015
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2015 RESTAURANT Closings in Toronto? To June 30...

Too bad, I enjoyed my one visit there, although it was years ago. Considering the recent events that happened there maybe they'd be smart to re-open under a new name for a fresh start?

Jan 08, 2015
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where to buy wild or healthy shrimp year-round in Toronto?

Try Hooked with locations in Kensington Market or Leslieville. They sell only sustainable or "responsibly grown" fish and shellfish. Right now they have prawns from BC and wild shrimp from Baja, although I imagine their selection will also change with the seasons. http://www.hookedinc.ca/

Edit: I started typing this response a while ago and now I see Tatai beat me to it! So basically, I second Tatai's suggestion :)

Dec 31, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Little India/ East End Ideas

It's not clear if you are specifically looking for Indian food. If not, check out Mr. Ciao for pizza fritta. http://mrciao.ca/ (but check their hours, not sure if they're open today, New Year's Eve.)

Dec 31, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Lunch Queen & Yonge with picky kid

Senator Restaurant just south of Dundas on Victoria St. Classics include burgers, grilled cheese and hot dogs, but it's definitely above average diner food.

Toronto ramen

Yes, I've bought these from Sanko a few times over the years and they are pretty decent for make-at-home "instant" ramen. But now there are about 10 ramen shops between my home and Sanko, so it's easier just to visit one of them. Choice is good!

Dec 25, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Restaurants not having websites only Facebook

This goes way beyond restaurants and bars.

As a web developer, of course, I heartily dislike this trend for partly selfish reasons. Facebook is dominating the web now to the point that for many, Facebook *is* the web: they don't open a browser, just a Facebook app, and they browse and share content, watch videos, email and chat all within that closed ecosystem. When you're on a smartphone, there's not much difference between looking at a Facebook page and a mobile web site because there's no extra real estate for creativity.

Overall I think it's unfortunate to see the web voluntarily migrating from an open free market to a commercial enterprise that doesn't have a viable competitor.

But Facebook is convenient, and I understand its appeal for users and businesses (I'm on there every day) and that's the way things will continue to go at least for the time being. Many restaurants seem to have inexplicable difficulty creating and maintaining even a basic website, so this might be better for them.

Dec 18, 2014
Gary in Not About Food

Leslieville pubs or other casual dinner options

- We like Aft quite a bit, though it's fairly meat-centric.

- We've had several great experiences at County General Riverside, the menu is quite varied and changes often: it's not super cheap but definitely still casual.

- We ate at the Comrade once, during the summer when they'd just revamped their menu and it was good. Not sure if that's still the case, it seems quite quiet most of the time when I walk past.

- Always thought the food at Prohibition was pretty decent, but only during the daytime or dinner hour, not later when it turns into a pseudo nightclub and the bouncers come out.

- I've never heard much good about Boots & Bourbon, though I'm mostly offended by their beer list, myself :)

Distillery District Recommendations

Touhenboku is in the former Cafe Uno location, which is approximately across from the sake brewery. According to a tweet I saw it just opened a couple days ago, but it sounds like a soft opening thus far, with a limited menu of sushi and apps that doesn't (yet?) include ramen. I suspect they just wanted to be open in time for the insanity of the Christmas Market that runs for the next three weeks or so. I look forward to having convenient ramen in the hood come January.

Nov 30, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
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Globe Review of America in the Trump Tower

The review is the best. The best.

Anyone been to Cluny in the Distillery yet?

Looping back here since we've visited Cluny twice since I posted here asking about it back in July.

Our first visit was stellar. The server was great -- professional but personable -- and the decor is stunning. The place has an energetic (but not deafening) vibe. All four people in our party enjoyed our meals. We also shared a few apps, and augmented some things with fois gras. I had the steak frites and it was one of the nicest steaks I've had in years. We spent more at the bakery counter on the way out, picking up some nice croissants and delicious apple bread. The place wasn't cheap, but in general the experience was well above average and it felt unique in Toronto.

Our second visit a month later was more mediocre. They seated us at a really awkward table that stuck into the main entrance walkway, even though we'd made our reservations over a week in advance. Our server was friendly but a bit nervous and surprisingly blunt in his comments. We started with a few cocktails and they weren't the best. Our friend seemed to like her main, a giant ravioli. My wife's main (an escargot dish) started out fine but by the halfway point became so salty she couldn't finish it. I ordered poorly, the "crisp Erie perch" which I did not expect was going to be chopped into tiny chunks, battered, and fried like fish and chips. It tasted fine, if a bit Captain Highliner, but was also too heavily salted. This time, the very high final bill was a bit less fun to pay considering the experience was pretty mediocre overall. On leaving we again visited the bakery again and picked up some chocolate croissants, but these proved to be undercooked and very gluey on the inside when we ate them the next morning.

So in the end I'm torn on Cluny -- it can be great, but it's huge and permanently very busy with a huge staff, so I can imagine that consistency will be difficult to maintain over time. I will go again, but will probably order more cautiously, stick to a beer and some steak frites and maybe some oysters.

Nov 23, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
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Not-to-be-missed in Toronto

Last weekend whole grilled sea bream was a special, so it's still there -- sometimes. We had a great dinner, amazing oysters and various fish mains were all excellent. Only the fish and chips was a bit on the oily side, otherwise our table enjoyed everything. The vibe is really not very different from Starfish, from what I recall. Mains will cost between $18 and $29 but if you start splurging on oysters or shellfish it could go much, much higher. Portions are moderate so you'd probably want an app or dessert with most.

Nov 22, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

Pearl Diver opened last week. The menus are now up on their new website. Definitely less seafood-centric but most of it sounds pretty good: http://pearldiver.to/pearldiver/

Nov 08, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

TO's best Pierogi

On the topic of pierogis, a new restaurant called Loaded Pierogi opens today at the foot of Church St. near the Esplanade, in the former Great Burger Kitchen spot beside Hank's cafe.

http://loadedpierogi.com/

Someone please try it and let me know if I should go or not, I don't know why but I feel skeptical about it.

Nov 05, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Which of these two Tapas places?

I've not been to these two, but enjoyed tapas at both Torito and Carmen, so I'd recommend investigating those options. Torito has been around for many years in Kensington Market, Carmen is a more recent Queen West spin-off by the same owners.

Oct 28, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2014 Restaurant and Food Store OPENINGS!!

A new casual Italian place called "Uncle Tony's" is going in on Wellington St near Church St, in the former Swish by Han space. The chef will be Carlos de Veyra formerly of Woods restaurant.

Oct 24, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Spring Rolls on Front

Been dragged to a few Spring Rolls over the years, and this particular location is the worst of the worst. Asian food such as this is a virtual crime in Toronto where there are so many better options.

Oct 24, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Coffee quest: Is there a Toronto equivalent of Vancouver's Cafe Artigiano?

I tried this Artigiano location a couple weeks back. I had an Americano, it was pretty decent but I didn't notice anything about it that made it better than other options within walking distance like Fahrenheit (best consistent coffee in Toronto) or the Rooster on King East, for example.

But I have to give Artigiano a bit of a thumbs down on the atmosphere, it reminded me of a (nice) cafeteria or fast food joint, not really a cozy place to sit and relax. It's kind of the opposite of Dineen coffee a few blocks north, which has a beautiful decor and meh coffee.

Oct 15, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The Cabbagetown is becoming the new Ossington

Don't forget Kingyo and Zakkushi.

Sep 05, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

PicNic Wine Bar on Queen East in Riverside/Leslieville seems to be closed. I first noticed the windows papered over a few weeks ago, today I crossed the street to read the notice and it was simply a "thank you for your support" message. It didn't say unequivocally that they were closed forever, but it sure looks that way.

Sep 01, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Anyone been to Cluny in the Distillery yet?

Just bumping this up a bit to see if anyone has tried Cluny more recently than the July reviews in this thread? Once the summer tourist hordes die down in September we're thinking of giving it a shot, just making sure it's going to be worthwhile...

Sep 01, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

What is the worst item you bought at the LCBO in 2014?

Hands down: Trafalgar Mead Braggot.

http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo/product/traf...

I've had mead and I've enjoyed it. I've had ale and I've enjoyed it. So something that expertly combines the best of mead and ale should be good, right? Maybe a nice malty beer with a hint of honey? No. Make that a disgusting sour concoction with a strong medicinal alcohol aftertaste. No sweetness from the mead, no maltiness from the beer, just... ugh.

I drank a tiny bit of it, coerced my wife try a sip so she'd understand how ludicrously horrible it was, and then dumped the rest down the sink. I have no idea if this was what the product was supposed to taste like or whether the bottle had somehow gone off, but I wasn't about to try it a second time to find out.

The only worthwhile thing I got for my $10 was the fact that after I scraped off the label I was left with a kind of cool brown ceramic jug to put on a shelf next to our plants. Consolation prize.

Aug 28, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Nam Sandwich Shop

I'd not heard of this place, so I just looked it up. Seems it's on Queen West just across from Trinity Bellwoods.

http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/nam...

Will definitely give it a shot next time I'm out that way looking for a quick lunch.

ISO: Grocery shopping bags with short handles (in Toronto)

Wow, I thought my wife and I were the only people with this problem! Trying to hold too-long bags up in the air is hard on the arms after a few blocks. The worst is when you go to step up on a curb and the bottom of a bag hits it and breaks something inside.

Sobey's sells some good re-usable bags:

- The best are the smaller square two-tone green ones they sell that have a zipper across the top. They're mostly suitable for smaller trips, but they hold more than you'd think at first glance because they have square edges and flat bottoms. The zipper is also handy to help keep food cool in the summer, or if you need to visit additional stores and don't want to look like too much like a shoplifter.

- Second best at Sobey's are the bigger bags that are mostly white with dark green trim. They have a short height but are really wide and square-bottomed so they hold a lot and are comfortable for carrying.

Aug 16, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

County General Riverside

We've been twice to this place in recent weeks and been really pleasantly surprised.

The first time we just had drinks on their narrow patio. The beer list is interesting (though all bottles and cans) and the mixed drinks are above average. "The Hardware" was particularly good, it's a variant on a Boulevardier and a really nice balance of sweet and bitter.

The second time we tried a variety of snacks and small plates, including the fried green tomato, beef salad cold rolls, dark wing duck and the steak tartare. All were tasty and well-balanced, we were surprised (in a good way) by the Asian flavour profile on many dishes -- something about the name "County General" brought vision of US-south cooking. The duck had a nice hoisin glaze contrasted with a carrot/ginger slaw that worked really well. We closed out with a cinnamon-rollish dessert that wasn't too sweet.

The place seems to fill up quick, even on a weeknight, and we noticed a very mixed crowd of younger, older, and new parents with babies. Definitely a great neighbourhood spot, I wish I lived a bit closer.

Glancing around the room, the kale salad seems to be a winner.

Aug 14, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

What is the new place beside Lady Marmalade in Leslieville?

According to Google and Google Maps, Lady Marmalade is at 898 Queen St E, and the restaurant beside it is at 896 Queen St E. This is now occupied by a restaurant called "Braised", which replaces former occupants Le Canard Mort and Bistro 896. http://braised.ca/

Aug 14, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Local Beer Recs?

Kensington Brewery's "Fruitstand Watermelon Wheat" is an interesting one, a lighter refreshing beer that's suitable since it's August -- they brewed it as a one-off last summer and demand was so strong they brought it back again this year.

http://www.kensingtonbrewingcompany.c...

Aug 06, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Sweet Japanese Curry at Yonge and Gerrard

We finally checked this place out today. It's the real deal. The curries were delicious and complex, and the pork and chicken cutlets were perfectly fried. Very similar to Go! Go! Curry! in NYC, perhaps even a bit better. Wonderfully friendly and enthusiastic owners. It's actually nice quiet spot down in the food court, once you find it!

Aug 01, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Anyone been to Cluny in the Distillery yet?

Glad to hear this sounds promising. We're holding back on visiting because I heard it's run by the same people as El Catrin which also looks beautiful but had mediocre and very expensive food both times we visited. I'm concerned Cluny might be similar, but perhaps they're destined for something better....

Jul 09, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Great food, informal atmosphere

I think there are very few restaurants in Toronto these days where a jacket and tie would be expected, as the trend in recent years is for good food in a more relaxed environment.

But I think for a good recommendation we'd need a few more details, like how much you're looking to spend, what age range you'd feel comfortable with (ie. do you seek a restaurant filled with 20-somethings and loud ironic 80's rap music, or somewhere more "adult", for example?) and whereabouts you're looking to be geographically.

Offhand for decent food-centric restaurants with fairly professional service and non-stuffy environment/dress codes, you might be interested in places like Origin, Daisho at Momofuku, Nota Bene, Carbon Bar, all of which are more or less within a reasonable walk or drive of the downtown core. Most would have mains priced in the $20-$30ish price range, or smaller sharing plates that would add up to similar.

Jun 05, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
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