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2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

Went in there when it first opened, nice little store but my first thought was "how can this possibly make enough money to stay open?" So I'm not surprised.

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

Have you ever been censored by Chowhound moderator? I have many times!!

It's happened to me before, early on when I did things like mention theoretical food poisoning, but I soon realized that the strict moderation is what kept Chowhound on topic and useful.

I have to say that on the Toronto board lately the moderators seem to have vanished, and every thread now has long meandering off-topic threads, complete with jokes and insults and idiocy, to the point that I return to Chowhound less often. When I open up a thread that seems interesting more often than not it contains no actual food or restaurant reviews,

Mar 14, 2014
Gary in Site Talk

Upcoming Toronto Visit

If you're looking for an upscale pub option with an interesting menu, the Oxley is in Yorkville, very close to your hotel. Not cheap but in my opinion better and more interesting than the Irish Embassy (which is very loud) or P. J. O'Briens (where regulars get friendly service, everyone else, notsomuch.)

Mar 07, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Bindia dishes? Located near St Lawrence market

We tried this place a couple months ago, not long after it opened. It's part of the beautiful new little "restaurant row" on Market St but I don't think many people have discovered that strip yet. That should change this summer when the tourist hordes descend.

We picked up food to go, so I can't really judge the table service. The people we dealt with seemed helpful enough. The decor inside is very nice, a bit of that slightly formal vibe most Indian restaurants seem to have, but with a few modern touches.

The butter chicken, biryani rice and pakoras were quite tasty, and we enjoyed them all. However we also got some sort of vegetable curry that wasn't at all what we were expecting. Perhaps we ordered wrong but it was kind of thin and bland and had little cubes of vegetables like peas and carrots in it. Wouldn't order that particular dish again. Maybe the seafood options are more interesting but my wife is allergic to shellfish and we played it safe.

The biggest knock was that the prices seemed to be on the higher side for what you get, and we used a coupon, too. There are a lot of places in the area where the two of us could eat in for the same price or less including a couple beers.

All in all it was fine, and it's good to have an Indian option in the neighbourhood, but we haven't felt a need to rush back.

Mar 07, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

World’s Biggest Bookstore to become restaurant row

This restaurant row makes sense from a business perspective and will do very well with tourists and visitors, though it likely will attract larger chains and won't be a "foodie" destination. That's fine, there's lots of room for everything in Toronto.

This is the core of downtown, a stone's throw from the Eaton Centre, Dundas Square, the giant Aura condo, and Ryerson University. The subway station is right there and people visiting the area by car will have already parked in one of the underground garages nearby, they won't want to drive again to eat.

As for the area being dangerous, that's silliness, downtown Toronto is one of the safest of any large city. The unfortunate Jane Creba shooting was almost 10 years ago, and the more recent food court incident was a (very stupid) settling of a private score that could have happened anywhere. 50,000 people a day pass through Dundas and Yonge, more people than the population of most towns in Canada, that's why many things happen near there, good and bad.

And skyscraper shade? Well, tall buildings are all over downtown, and restaurants everywhere with patios are booming, I see no reason why this spot would be different.

Feb 13, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

Too bad, but I'm not surprised. That location has seen a string of failed restaurants and pubs over the past decade. It's surrounded by offices and condos and lively areas but (im)perfectly positioned in a bit of a pedestrian deadzone because of the one-way traffic on the Adelaide speeding to the DVP.

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

2014 Restaurant and Food Store CHANGES and CLOSINGS

Looks like Olé Olé, the Mexican/Spanish reincarnation of Kultura on King St East is finished. There's a landlord seizure notice on the door and uncleared tables inside strewn with dead flowers. Only lasted a few months, it was never busy.

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

Chipotles in adobo sauce?

I agree these are hit-and-miss to find. Sometimes grocery stores have them, sometimes they don't. Our Sobey's recently cut back its little Tex-Mex section and no longer have them. I managed to find a large can at the Rabba at Front & Sherbourne recently, on the bottom of an end of an aisle nowhere near any related products. We divided and froze them for future use, since one or two of those things go a long way in most recipes.

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

2014 Restaurant and Food Store OPENINGS!!

Noticed signs in the window this week for a new location of South St. Burger Co. on the northeast corner of King St East at Princess St. This is right near Betty's bar, across from the former Toronto Sun building.

The location was formerly Visitor Parking, a furniture store, and it seems pretty big for a burger restaurant. Could do okay with a lot of new condos in the area, though, as well as George Brown students. Would be nice if it was licensed.

Jan 17, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where to buy Mexican Chocolate?

Perola's on Augusta Ave in Kensington Market does sell bricks of imported Mexican chocolate, which I used a few years ago in a moderately successful attempt to make mole. I recall they had a few different brands. Definitely a good place to start, and even if they don't carry exactly what you're looking for, they'd probably have some suggestions on where (or if) you can find it in Toronto.

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

Rice - which type and where?

I think it depends what you are doing with the rice. If you're having it with Asian foods then you'll probably want something similar to Jasmine rice, which is fairly sticky (if not rinsed) and has a nice aroma for eating plain on the side. If you're having it with Indian food like curry, or if you're making Biryani, you'd usually want Basmati rice, which is longer grain and less sticky. If you're making Italian risotto, you need a starchy shorter grained rice like Arborio.

Beyond that, there are a million varieties so it probably depends on what you like. If you're in an experimental mood check out Rube's Rice at the St. Lawrence Market, Rube is gone (RIP) but they still have a vast selection of rices so you can just buy small quantities in bulk to try out without obligating to a $20 bag up front.

Jan 04, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Where is good BBQ food in Toronto?

Triple A Bar at Adelaide and Jarvis does very-respectable-for-Toronto BBQ in a Texas style, that is, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chili (authentic Texas - no beans!), fried chicken & waffles, as well as various rotating daily specials. I find the ribs to be hit and miss (sometimes great, sometimes just okay) but the rest of the menu is very consistent and always prepared with care and attention to detail. Decent beer selection and the place is run by super nice people. http://tripleabar.ca/

Nov 09, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Truly best espresso in 2013

This is extremely subjective, there is no "truly best" of any food or beverage.

Personally, I strongly second JonasBrand's recommendation of Fahrenheit. In terms of taking their espresso very seriously while also being very cool and non-pretentious Sameer and company are the clear winners.

I enjoy the coffee and ambiance at both locations of the Rooster Coffee House. The Black Canary at Sherbourne & Adelaide makes very consistent and drinkable espresso (although I almost always get Americanos there, I drink them black, and I have tried their espressos a few times.)

When I'm in Leslieville I like Mercury Espresso.

When I'm inside the St. Lawrence Market I like Pasta Mia (on the lower level, south-east corner).

When I'm in the west end, I like Jimmy's on Portland St.

When I'm in Kensington Market I like Moonbean.

I personally have not enjoyed most of the coffees I've tried from Dark Horse (neither the Spadina, John St. or Riverdale locations), Sam James in the PATH (acrid a la Starbucks), the new Academy Coffee on the Esplanade (weirdly vegetal/sour and never the same twice), or Dineen Coffee at Yonge & Temperance (all style, no substance). But others name these as their go-to spots, so who am I to judge?

Nov 06, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Harlem Restaurant

We used to like this place and went regularly, but then it slowly went downhill. Our last visit was for a weekend brunch about six months ago and we were the only people in the place. The waiter screwed up our order then disappeared for 15 minutes before bringing us burnt bacon. The rest of the meal was mediocre. We've never gone back since.

Oct 24, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Distillery District Recommendations

Yeah I figured it was a parent company thing. No big deal, I can enjoy some of those beers, but these days where everybody seems to have a decent microbrew selection it just stood out to me.

Jul 29, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Distillery District Recommendations

We tried El Catrin last Friday. Aside from being rather patronizingly asked "This is a tapas menu, do you know what tapas is?" at the beginning, the service started out quite good but then fell off later as they got busier. The menu is fairly adventurous with fusion-y Mexican dishes and only a few nods to Tex-Mex. They have lots of tequila-based cocktails on offer but we stuck with draft beers, oddly served in either 15 oz or 23 oz glasses. The beer list covered many of the familiar mainstream Mexican beers along with few others that seemed to be chosen via dartboard (Blanche de Chambly, Sleeman Cream Ale, why not.)

The Baja fish tacos and the tuna & watermelon civiche were both phenomenal, we both agreed we would order either again in a flash. Pulled chicken sandwiches had nice flavour but were ruined by stale buns. We ordered hastily with a dish called "gringas" without reading the details, it turned out to be pork quesadillas featuring a very nippy cheese that overwhelmed all other flavours. Perhaps cheesehounds would love them but not me. Finally, the churros were nicely fried with good accompanying sauces (a goat caramel, strawberry and chocolate) but I wish they weren't so heavily coated with tooth-crunching sugar because it made everything just too sweet.

In all the food was pretty decent (I'd order 3 of the 5 dishes again) and the patio decor was really cool (we didn't go inside) but prices are definitely on the upper end for what you get. We'll give them a few more tries before passing permanent judgement.

Jul 29, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Distillery District Saturday night ... which of the restos is best?

This comes up fairly often, here's a not-so-old thread:

I'm with the general consensus which is to either visit Weezies just a bit north at King and Power (definitely make reservations: http://weezies.ca/) or Pure Spirits within the Distillery itself.

I would recommend avoiding the Mill St brewpub/beerhall for your purposes as they are hectic with mediocre food. The Boiler House restaurant has closed as it is currently being converted into a Mexican restaurant. Tappo seems to get pretty mixed reviews, though I've never been myself.

Jun 24, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Toronto Taste - Is the Foodie Revolution over?

Perhaps, in a way, the war is over and we won. This is subjective but I feel like over the past decade the quality and variety of food available at regular restaurants around the city has improved a lot. Even the mainstream chains and fast food industry have improved and opened their eyes to the fact that people don't just want the same old bland stuff. 10 years ago we had McDonald's and KFC, now we have Banh Mi Boys serving pork belly baos and kimchi poutine. 10 years ago we had the Firkin and a few imitators plunking frozen burger patties and fries on a plate, now we have the Queen & Beaver serving duck, sweatbreads and goat curry. 10 years ago a bar that poured a Sleeman's along with the domestics was cool, now the Molsons and Coors and Labatt's taps have been pushed out in most downtown restaurants by microbrews of every description.

Obviously there's still a place for foodie festivals and new things, but there are a lot of options out there these days and it makes sense that the popularity of individual events will rise and fall accordingly. This is a sign of great overall success, not failure.

It's a bit like when that cool obscure band you loved to see at your local dive bar hits it big and is all over the radio and TV: you're happy for them but you no longer have that feeling of being in on a great secret.

Jun 10, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Craft Dogs - 95 King Street East

Thanks for the detailed review! I'm very interested to try this place as an occasional lunch option since I can walk there. I know some will probably not be happy with that price point for "just a hot dog" but if the food is half as good as you described it sounds like it may be worthwhile.

May 28, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Two Months in Toronto

Even better, the new location of Bahn Mi Boys is now open at Yonge and Gerrard, a very short walk from Bay & Gerrard. Absolutely delicious casual cheap eats, be sure to also try the bao steamed buns and the tacos in addition to the bahn mi sandwiches.

May 04, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2013 Food and Restaurant CHANGES and CLOSINGS

Yeah, they're converting them all over to their new "Cool Britania" look, I think attempting to attract a younger crowd. The Flatiron Firkin in the St. Lawrence Market area is also undergoing reno this week, the inside has been gutted.

Apr 24, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

ISO: Inexpensive, quality sweet potatoes accessible by transit

They're on sale for 77 cents per pound at No Frills this week. I picked some up today at the Front/Sherbourne location, they didn't look dried or moldy and seem fine from the outside, though I've yet to use them.

Mar 30, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Most Overrated Restaurant in Toronto

I'm about as easy-going as it comes, but I agree with the Bier Markt call. The Esplanade location is is ridiculously overrated with obnoxious security who think they're running a nightclub and a beer list that looks reasonable on paper but in reality is usually half out of stock. For some reason people visiting from the 'burbs seem to thing this place is great, but in reality there are many better options nearby. I gave the place 3 or 4 decent tries and now I refuse to return, when my friends insist on eating there I just pretend I just suggest meeting them elsewhere for drinks afterwards. Blech.

Mar 22, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Lamb burgers vs. Hamburgers

C'est What pub at Church and Front St East has had a lamb burger for decades, long before the current burger trend. I know some people swear by it, though I've never tried it myself. But the food in general at C'est What has been quite good the last year or so, they went through a slump a few years back but it seems they turned things around. It's best to visit around lunch or on a weekday, though, not on a Fri or Sat evening when it gets quite chaotic with the bar scene.

Mar 19, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Zakkushi is open!

I enjoyed everything so make sure to just order some of the sample platters to start, mix it up, then on round two order more of your favourites. For me that was the Wasa Beef, which is beef and wasabi, a great combo for anyone who enjoys horseradish with their roast beef.

Mar 14, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Innis and Gunn on draught

Sin & Redemption at Dundas and McCaul had it on tap last time I was there several months ago, and it's still on their website beer menu. Their sister pub the Town Crier down near John & Adelaide often has a similar tap list so they may also carry it.

Mar 07, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Single Origin Coffee Beans in Toronto

I'd check out the Merchants of Green just east of the Don Valley Parkway on Queen Street (http://www.merchantsofgreencoffee.com/) as well as Moonbean coffee in Kensington Market. It might also be worth investigating Pilot Coffee Roasters, formerly known as Te Aro, which distributes beans around many indie cafes in Toronto (http://www.pilotcoffeeroasters.com/)

Mar 06, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Toronto Ramen Roundup?

I've not tried them all but from what I have tried:
1. Sansotei
2. Santouka
3. Kenzo

Excited to see Raijin ranking so highly as it's close to me but I've not yet had a chance to try it. Does it suffer from the same lineups as Sansotei and Satouka?

Mar 05, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Restaurant Just South of Yonge & Sheppard

A thread titled simply "restaurant" probably won't get much attention on Chowhound, since all the posts are about restaurants. I'd put the intersection and more info in the title.

Unfortunately I can't help you with your question since I don't spend much time in that area. Have you tried Google Street view to look for the restaurant you seek? And http://parking.greenp.com/ will map all the lots in the area.

Feb 13, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Buster's Cove inside the St. Lawrence Market ... the best place for seafood!

Yes, this place is stellar, I particularly enjoy the hallibut sandwich, and I actually really like their coleslaw *and* their curly fries. The menu is not cheap but the quality is good and there's an attention to detail that goes beyond what you'd expect. The lineups are perpetually insane but they have an efficient number system that minimizes the hassle for customers.

And good news for those in the Financial District: apparently they're opening a location in the PATH soon!

Feb 11, 2013
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)