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O & B Cafe on Front Street - if I choose to eat here, will it be as disappointing as Canteen in Bell Lightbox?

O& B Cafe isn't all that great, my experience is generally mediocre oversalted production line versions fo what could be good dishes. However the wine prices are reasonable and the decor and vibe are good so I tend to use it as a default for business meetings where drinking might be more important than eating.

Iberian Ham (Jamon Iberico) in Toronto?

I believe Cheese Boutique has had Iberico in the past...

The Real Jerk?

We really like Tropical Joe's too. Exact same feelings about their food as in your comments + at food court prices.

I've seen people coming in and hauling off 3-4 party trays at a time. Probably for church or picnic. Anyway, they've got a following.

Yung Sing Bakery will be closing for renos

well my memories of YS go back 30-35 years when I'd get sent there with some spare bills to bring back weekend morning snack food. In my memory everything tasted great.

But nostalgia couldn't keep me going there. My memory has things still tasting good 20 years ago, but there was a point maybe 10-12 years ago where almost everything other than the buns became a greasy disaster.

Unfortunately, all the bakeries downtown are working to a price point today (a very cheap price point) where real quality is impossible. YS of 30 years ago was certainly better. YS of 10-12 years ago may have had a higher quality of ingredients but something went horrendously wrong with the frying.

None of the downtown bakeries is worth for more than getting a large quantity of stomach filler for hardly any money at all. If you go with that understanding they're all a good deal. But none of it is real Chinese bakery/pastry if you know what I mean.

Ematei - Any recent visits?

go there regularly. it is not really a sushi/sashimi place.

things that we regularly eat are the drinking snack sort of stuff (gizzards, hearts, chicken skin, etc.). also usually order items like smelts, grilled fish, fried oysters... last time we were there they had silverfish which was very good.

whenever we see large groups there they usually have a big Japanese-style hotpot going.

much of the food is similar to things from my childhood and is good - but i have noticed a bit of a heavyhand with saltiness levels lately.

Caplansky's - You have got to be kidding me!

For me, the problem is that when Caplansky's smoked meat is good I find it decent and enjoyable, but when it's bad, it really verges on unacceptable.

Something has to be going seroiusly wrong with the process, quality control, meat supply or something to have so much quality variation.

The Chinese food truck at U of T

I seem to remember this truck from long, long ago (not with the same guys). As in 21-23 years ago, maybe?

Wanted a cheap dinner last night and thought I'd walk up and get something from them.

I got Singapore noodles. Girlfriend got beef and veg on rice. They were both something like $5.50 for what could basically be two lunches each (four lunches total for $11.00). Even for dinner eating the entire serving is probably more than is really necessary. So lots of food for your $5.50.

Singapore noodles: by absolute standards it is not very good (no real heat and no complexity to what heat there is or to the curry, missing all the traditional goodies and flavouring components like the tiny dried shrimp, etc.) But as a $5.50 quick Toronto dinner it's really very good. Definitely better put together than many of the restaurants on Spadina, the Spring Rolls type places and so on.

The best way I can describe it is Singapore noodles done by someone who knows how to do proper Singapore noodles, but is cooking down to a $5.50 selling price and cooking down to requirements for not carrying stock of "esoteric" ingredients in the truck. It's really quite well done for the price.

It's funny - cooking "down" what's supposed to be street food to begin with, to a price.

The beef and veg on rice wasn't so good though... mushy rice, with a strange "whole grain" taste to it (that's the best way I can describe it). Nothing special about the beef or veg. Just a decent amount of food for the price with nothing to really recommend getting it again. The rice just wasn't good.

Didn't detect any MSG in either dish.

My suspicion is that the noodle dishes and soups may be better than the rice dishes.

Anyway it's decent cheap eats

Anyone been to British Style Fish & Chips recently

We go pretty regularly and like the current owner's (Chinese guy) fish and chips better than the previous (Indian) guy.

I guess it's a matter of personal preference, but we found the previous cooking to always be greasy beyind belief. The current guy's chips remind me of Ottawa chip truck fries from long ago, though they're not as meaty a cut. Good fries if you're opposed to the thin cut really, really cooked Toronto ideal. The halibut is on the pricey side, but it's always been very well done for us. Big, well cut pieces, clean tasting, crisp on the outside but soft inside and not overly greasy batter, and juicy but firm fish.

They're my favourite in the Queen E. area, but if your preference runs to Harbord Fish and chips style (more Toronto'ish fries; crisper batter) you'd probably like Reliable better.

B&B is inexpensive compared to everybody else, and it's Joanne Kates's favourite (if that means anything). IMO they're great value for the area ($5.50 for fish and chips) and their fries are pretty good, but I can't help getting this little bit of Captain Highliner chunky fish fries feeling whenever I eat there because they have this standard square cut so that your fish always looks the same from one year to the next.

Folia Grill for souvlaki & other grilled food at Pape & Cosburn

Think we caught them on an off-day. Orderd biftekia, pork souvlaki pita, and the zucchini.

The biftekia had no noticeable herbs. It was along the the lines of what foodeydudey described: salty and somewhat tasteless (except for salt).

The pork souvlaki pita was decent flavour-wise (except again too salty), but the pork needed more tenderizing as it was unacceptably chewy even taking into account the cut.

The zucchini would have been good, except it was too salty.

This was all a take out order, so no opportunity to bring up the salt issue.

The oversalting was to the point that we could not finish the biftekia.

They are very nice people and the restaurant is comfortable and looks good. Prices are good too, but I guess (in our case at least - haven't read anyone else complaining of too much salt) the food consistency is subject to some degree of variability. Or maybe we didn't get the regular cook?

Queen Margherita Pizza

that's what we've gotten at libretto too: raw... yech

Queen Margherita Pizza

We finally made the trek a few blocks west to try QMP... we really, really like their crust and felt it to be far superior to Libretto. As others have reported, Libretto in our experience has been a thinner, less cooked crust versus QMP being thicker, chewier (in a good way) and more cooked (even though it's chewier at the same time).

QMP crust is perfect for the both us (equals me who tends to like "Canadian pizza" a la Danforth Pizza House and for GF who is Italian with a capital I).

Service was pleasant and prompt, the owner's came round to each table to see how things were and spent at least a couple of minutes talking to everybody. The room is very nice though I'd worry about what it's going to feel like in the winter with all that single pane glass.

There is one thing that bothered me though, and I think it verges on not acceptable in a proper quality control environment. Several pieces of ham and mushroom on my pizza were chunks of not fully sliced pieces, e.g. a mushroom sliced 8 times but the slicer didn't go all the way through resulting in an 8 slice one piece chunk if you know what I mean. The pizza makers' eyes ought to be sharp enough to spot it when there are several "chunks" of ham and mushroom on a pizza!

We will be going back so I will watch for this occuring again.

The mozzarella used the day we were there was of very. very good quality.

Perfect crust! (for what we like)

We'd prefer QMP to Libretto.

Danforth Pizza
920 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1L9, CA

New Yorker Deli hours?

8-9 years ago they were decent... based on my memories I went for brunch a few months ago and it was terrible.

Mind you it was packed, so a lot of people like it, but for myself it was so bad I would never return.

Chicken noodle soup: was really nice 8-9 years ago. This time it was watered down Lipton soup for $5.00 a small bowl. Disgraceful.

French fries were frozen.

Potato pancakes/latkes were frozen and not good at all.

The fries and latkes were perfectly cooked for frozen stuff and served piping hot, but I really didn't go to the place to be eating lousy processed food. Awful

Corned beef hash wasn't a disaster, but it was nothing memorable.

Service was fine and friendly.

Such a disappointment going there with good memories of the food only to be so thoroughly disappointed.

The soup disaster alone would have been enough for me to never return. Imagine remembering good homemade soup and getting a small watered down Lipton chicken noodle instead - and being charged $5.00 for it to add insult to injury.

I'm still mad at them.

Caplanskys on College St - impressions?

Have now been to new location several times.

Really like Caplansky's full fat but one thing I feel that would help them (other people might disagree) is cutting the meat less chunky. I'm not talking machine-type slicing; all I'm saying is not as chunky. Chunky cutting was the same at the old place.

ISO downtown dim sum

On our last trip to Rol San (last week) we noticed a "shift" in how things are done. the way I'd describe it is changing how they make things to cater more to the "bigger is better" crowd.

This was specifically present in the wrapped dumpling type dishes (steamed or fried); looked like steroid versions - huge! They honestly appeared to be twice the old size, and in going to the larger size things like getting thicker, more doughy, less refined wrappers and plainer/simnpler fillings (e.g. less fresh chives, less ginger) were the rule.

It's still a good place for pretty inexpensive dim sum, and the more traditional stuff that I like (tripe, chicken's feet) haven't suffered from the gigantism we experienced (on the other hand it's hard to see how giant-sizing tripe and chicken's feet would appeal to anyone).

It's an easy-going place. Not pretentious, service is efficient and can be friendly. When I was a regular several years ago they used to even recognize me and give me priority seating. All sorts eat there: families, students, young couples, white people and for a Chinatown joint it is definitely on the clean side.

They're a higher volume, cheaper prices sort of place so as far as ordering goes, you're going to get your checklist and pretty much be expected to figure out what you want on your own - but since you're not a stranger to dim sum and everything's on there in English that' shouldn't create any problems.

Good luck introducing your friend to dim sum.

Queen Margherita Pizza

exact same thing last time at libretto - pizzas raw in the middle! no problem with service though

if queen margherita is good that'll make 2 pretty decent pizza joints in the immediate neighbourhood - we think Giorgio's is good for traditional Toronto pizza

St Clair and Yonge - breakfast spot

Depending on how big of a breakfast you want (i.e. if just bagels will do) the wood oven bagel place a little bit north of the Home Hardware is good and they are open early.

There's also a breakfast place underneath the Scotiabank with $3.99 two eggs/toast/coffee / sausage or bacon. It's nothing special whatsoever, but for $3.99 there's no point complaining.

Where to buy GOOD eggs in Toronto or GTA?

I can immediately taste anything with omega 3 in it. It tastes just like fish oil. My girlfriend did a blind test on me with various items (omega 3 added and no omega 3) and I can pick out omega 3 with 100% accuracy.

The question I always ask her is: "Why would anyone want to eat an egg (yoghurt, butter, pasta, etc) that tastes like cod liver oil?"

Duck breast in TO

Sobey's St. Clair carries duck breast, fresh cornish hens, buffalo and occasionally venison, but call ahead if you are going.

I've never bought the duck, but I'm pretty sure it's Brome.


People in different age groups will remember the size of a "normal" market chicken very differently. I'm early 40s and almost all the chicken I see today (even the small ones) would have qualified as "big" when I was young.

I've seen some chicken pieces at local Loblaws and No Frills that qualify as "mutated" - so big they make my jaw drop, e.g. thighs bigger than a man's fist.

If the smaller size of the Metro "Traditionally Raised" chicken is indicative of the chickens not being "mutated" into unnatural gigantism I'm all for it.

basa labelled as sole

The Star had a story on fish mislabeling a while ago. One of the most common is tilapia sold as snapper (I'd been seeing this one at cheap sushi joints long before The Star story).

Another one that they came across, but I'd never seen until this weekend, is basa sold as sole.

Looking at it before buying it I couldn't help thinking "that's very weird looking dover sole" but at $5.99lb and at a major store I figured okay I'll buy it since it's going in stew and basically all I want is the least expensive fish in the store.

So when I was getting ready to put the fish in the stew I had a good quick feel and inspection:

1) veiny, sort of cartiliginous feel/look
2) reddish streaking and slight brownish tint to the meat
3) division of muscle/meat sections (don't know a better way to call it - the individual fillet parts?) not similar to sole
4) too thick/meaty
5) doesn't smell like sole

After cooking I knew for certain it is not sole by the taste, texture and appearance - the texture and way the fish separates is nothing like sole, the taste is something like catfish and appearance is again slightly brownish and thick/meaty.

This is only one consumer's experience, but if I've encountered fish mislabeling at one of the more major stores then others probably have too.

Buyer be warned - if it doesn't look like top grade tuna trust your instinct it isn't. If it doesn't look like sole it isn't. If it doesn't look like real red snapper it isn't, etc. etc.

Dec 07, 2009
herbs go karts in General Topics

New poutine spot - Poutini

As someone who grew-up in Quebec and loves chip trucks and poutine, I've been wanting to try Poutini!

IMO, it's okay and better than Smoke's Poutine but there's still a lot missing.

I think FrankDrakman's post comes close to nailing it - there's something about the fries. The fries just don't taste like Quebec chip truck fries.

Both Poutini and Smoke cut their fries pretty thin, like frites instead of a traditional chip truck thicker/meaty cut, and I simply can't remember anyone in Quebec leaving the skin on. Tasting potato skin ruins everything for me.

The type of oil and way they are fried might have something to do with it too.

I'd go to either Poutini or Smoke's for a "Toronto" poutine, but it's really nowhere near as satisfying as a good Quebec poutine.

Is there a Toronto (or surrounding area) specialty?

Up until 12-15 years ago I still remember almost all grocery stores selling english-style back bacon and english-type smoked fish (e.g. kippers).

The back bacon and kippers are becoming a rarer and rarer find at regular supermarkets nowadays.

It's too bad because these are really good breakfast foods!

Especially with some cream of wheat or porridge and crunchy, green new pickles. Sort of like a Western food version of a congee breakfast.

I think Canada is losing much of it's traditional English and French-derived food heritage. Even butter tarts and chip trucks, which are probably the strongest populist holdouts, aren't anywhere as common as they were 25-30 years ago.

Loblaws for losers ? well, loses me anyway - off to Sobey's I go !

oh, apologies to Loblaws.

I've actually found several things that are more expensive at Price Chopper than at Sobey's - this could be a function of the specific locations I shop at though because I've noticed other Sobey's to be more expensive than mine.

For the locations I frequent, Loblaws is often catastrophically more expensive than the competition

Loblaws for losers ? well, loses me anyway - off to Sobey's I go !

The Queen's Quay and Leslie/Lakeshore Loblaws would be my locals.

Leslie/Lakeshore pretty much lost me when they had spoiled beef and quite obviously not so fresh vegetables and fish as a fairly regular occurance. It was pretty disgraceful. This has since improved substantially, but they lost me forever when I discovered that homo milk is about $1.50 less expensive per 4l at the Price Chopper across the street, and a tub of goat cheese that was $11.99 at the Loblaws was $7.99 at Price Chopper. To add insult to injury I'm told that Loblaws owns Price Chopper - so the price difference has to be intentional. It's like they're ripping us off because they think people that shop at Loblaws would never set foot in a Price Chopper.

Never had a problem with meat/fish/produce freshness at Queen's Quay, but they tend to be on the expensive side and have suffered from stock problems.

Most of my shopping is at Sobey's or in Chinatown. But I was once a farily regular Loblaws shopper.

I just can't get over the Loblaws/Price Chopper price differences on exactly the same items.

Chowfind at Main and Danforth

We gave Camino Bistro a try Saturday evening. Here's the rundown:

GF had the "Sea" menu consisting of an appetizer plate, Kingfish main and desert.

I had the beef stew special.

Appetizer plate: very good quality prosciutto, very good quality smoked salmon, some cold cooked/lightly pickled fish (not sure what it was), a small cup of chicken soup, and some short bread parmesan biscuits with dollops of fish mousse on top of them.

The prosciutto and salmon were served as is. The quality was high enough that this was fine. They were very good.

The cold cooked/pickled fish was interesting. It didn't have that much depth of flavour and was a bit fishy. If it had been a bit fishy with a few layers of flavour I think it would have been okay. But as it was I kept on thinking of gefilte fish.

The parmesan short bread with fish mousse was a hit. GF absolutely loved them. Just the right amount of cheese was used so that it accented the shortbread and mousse rather than overwhelmed it. Very nice.

The chicken soup (which was served as part of my beef stew special as well) was the equivalent of a decent home made chicken soup made by a mom that likes to go easy on seasonings. Lots of nice ingredients were in it, but the broth was somewhat lacking in flavour. Sort of like the broth had been made with a quarter of a chicken rather than a full chicken or two. Can't say it was bad or awful because it wasn't; it was just very restrained flavour-wise.

GF's grilled Kingfish main was nicely done. Good, meaty and tender. I felt the miso was more of a miso dressing as appearance/taste wise it was grilled then dressed rather than dressed/marinated then grilled. Still, a tasty enough piece of fish. The fish came with rice and lots of sauteed or baked vegetables, broccoli, onion, carrots, etc. GF liked it all. Fairly substantial.

My beef stew special on the other hand wasn't too substantial. I'll say that it tasted like a decent pub-type beef stew with the thick gravy and all that. The gravy tasted like some short-cuts had been taken (just didn't have that completely from scratch taste) but the beef was tasty and tender and all the root vegetables were good.

Really I can't complain about my part of the meal because the price was only $14.99 for bread, a big bowl of the soup, and the stew. Less expensive and better than at a pub.

Dessert was the one real let down. While the creme brulee was probably tasty enough at one point, it was served cold and had that cold/mealy mouthfeel. I expected better.

The by-the-glass wine prices are very reasonable - - so we ended-up having a glass of wine each, her meal and my meal for about $52 before taxes/tip.

The other thing is that while the decor/atmosphere is a bit rundown/non-hip, it's also very relaxing and unpretentious. The wait staff and Hiro make you feel very welcome and comfortable eating there. It's very homey and nice.

As the OP said: it's not spectacular but it's definitely a great value and a good place to eat. A definite find.

Hottest/Spiciest Dish in Toronto

When Biryani House was in Roy's Square, their vindaloo (lamb) was pretty exceptional, I thought.

It didn't even have a hot taste for the first couple of minutes eating. At 3-4 minutes the hot started to become apparent. At 5-6 minutes it was getting hot, but pleasantly so. At 7-8 minutes it was hot. By 9-10 minutes it was explosively, drenched in sweat hot. I have no problem with hot and spicy, but this was right on the limit of "I can't take this, I've got to go home"

What made it so good was the layering of heat and taste. It tasted different at every point of hotness, until it finally hit the ultimate heat level.

A very sophisticated dish.

I don't know if Debu's vindaloo has ever been as good as it was at Roy's Square - when he was on Wellesley I went a couple of times but things had changed.

Terroni - Mediocre food and BAD Sevice

The issue, I believe, isn't so much the no substitutions no matter what policy - it's their holier than thou, sanctimonious, and perhaps somewhat fake "true to the food" given reason for said policy

There seem to be several of us here who are either married into Italian families, have an Italian boyfriend or girlfriend, or who have just been around Italians a whole lot....... and our impression is that the real Italian attitude would never be so stuck-up and the only time you'd run into trouble is if you're not eating enough.

When it comes to eating, Italians are about giving you joy, not grief!

So the problem is, it seems like a whole bunch of fake attitude designed to cover-up a dollar/cents business policy, e.g. no diet soft drinks equals less SKUs to keep track of, no substitutions equals more efficient kitchen, no balsamic with your olive oil equals cost savings.

Terroni - Mediocre food and BAD Sevice

Totally agree, I used to live and work in New York, and believe me the service I've experienced in Toronto restaurants - Terroni being a prime example - is many grades below New York.

This has nothing to do with the waiter/waitress not making a lot of money, or having a lot of customers. In thousands of restaurant/eating experiences in New York from deli-counters to $$$ meals, I've only ever encountered one truly horrible service experience.

At Terroni on the other hand...

It's a matter of having a bad attitude

Terroni - Mediocre food and BAD Sevice

I like their pizza but...

Yeah, these people are ridiculous and I'm pretty sure all their "being true to Italian food" stuff is a bunch of mullarkey.

My girfriend is Italian with a capital "I" and she has no problem putting balsamic vinegar in her olive oil for bread dipping. In fact, it's her preference to put balsamic in the oil.

And the other real Italian thing I find is that Italians don't really care what you do, as long as you eat a lot and have a full belly.

If you don't want anchovies fine, if you don't want capers fine, if you want to hold the onions fine, if you want to add extra cheese fine - just as long as you eat a lot.

Authentic Taiwanese Food in Toronto?

This would be really great to find good Taiwanese food!

There was a steam table type place on Dundas between Beverly and Spadina that had Taiwanese food, but they closed shop quite a while ago.

There are many things that I remember from growing-up that I would really like to eat now:

pressed mullet roe
ginger steamed clams
the stew with beef, chewy sun dried salted veg and eggs
soft garlic steamed egg
that really salty pickled vegetable sliced up in congee with some of those tiny, tiny little salty dried fish pan fried and sprinkled on top
the drunk chicken cooked in rice wine
Taiwanese sticky rice
tomatoes coated with soy sauce and brown sugar and broiled
scrambled eggs cooked with soy sauce, fresh basil and tomatoes

If there was a place that did all the Taiwanese home cooking stuff well, I'd be there for a big meal every week for sure.