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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)

Mr. Ciao Pizza & Pasta - 598 Gerrard St E at Broadview

We tried them during a soft open a few weeks back, but they had pretty much the full menu on offer. The "fried pizza" was really good, not at all what I thought -- for some reason I pictured a sort of panzerotti or pizza pocket thing dunked in a deep fryer. On the contrary, it's a fairly normal pizza where the bottom crust/dough is lightly fried before baking, which gives it a fluffy crispy texture and a richer more savoury flavour, at least to my tastebuds. We also tried a few other things: a very good pesto pasta and some fried olives which were enjoyable in moderation.

It's the same very friendly people who run the Triple A bar, this place has a similar vibe but a bit more family friendly. And they have a patio. Definitely heading back.

Jul 03, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

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)
1

Market Street Redevelopment... new restaurants coming.

There is an official website for this redevelopment here:
http://tastesofmarketstreet.com

Olive & Olive was the first to open and I go there every few weeks for certain tasty canned olives that we first found at their Leslieville store. They focus exclusively on olives and olive oils and related things, we'll see if that's enough considering the Market is right next door.

We've also tried Bindia, and while it didn't blow us away and was a bit on the pricey side, we plan to give them another shot when we're craving curry. There are essentially no other Indian food options in the area.

Market Street Catch opened recently and it's a spin-off from Buster's Sea Cove in the South Market. We had some fish tacos and fish and chips there the week they opened, and aside from a being a little oversalted they were quite good. The menu is pretty extensive for those who are adventurous with sea food.

A beautiful-looking outlet of Balzac's Coffee just opened a few weeks back. I'm not really a fan of their coffee but man do I love their decors.

And just this week, Evolution Food Co. is supposed to be opening. From what I can see, it's a restaurant that offers "healthy" food like salads and lean meats along with a juice bar and yogurt bar.

Barsa Taberna really seems to be getting mixed reviews in their early days, I'm intrigued by the space but will wait. They seem to have initiated an identity crisis by being a sort-of-but-not really tapas joint.

I think the big game changer will be Pastizza, which will have its own building at the south end of the street. I think that will be the restaurant that determines whether this strip will be a legitimate restaurant destination for Torontonians or just a tourist trap that survives solely on proximity to the Market.

But for now, I think this is the one of the best things that's happened in Toronto for a long time. It makes so much sense and really adds to the historic feel of the area. Kudos to all these restaurants for taking a chance on these new spaces. I hope they all do well.

Jun 03, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Monk's Table Sliding?

I tried that Monk's Hearth place during its brief existence and it was one of the more laughable pub experiences of my life. I chalked it up to newness and thought maybe I'd try it again in a few months, but then it closed.

Jun 03, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

black irish whiskey & oyster bar - whole fried clams coming when?

They're advertising a soft opening "sneak preview" tonight and tomorrow on their Facebook page. Not sure what it will entail, whether it will be a full bar and menu or not. Will probably drop by to check it out.

May 30, 2014
Gary in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

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
1

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)
1

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)
3

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)
1

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)
1

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)
2

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:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/885936

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)
3

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)