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Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

By "stay tuned," I mean I've got a few great ones for upcoming packages on great suburban eats. Of course I hope to find more. Which was the point of my original post here. So far I'm striking out, I guess.

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

Stay tuned. Meantime, the way your original post sounded—the one in which you called it "surreal" that my list doesn't include a single Cantonese place—I got the sense that you know hundreds of brilliant Cantonese places in Scarborough. Like I said, I'd love to hear what they are.

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

That's all you've got? Maple Yip?
Let me know when you come up with somewhere outstanding.

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

I've been to a few mediocre, 1980s-style Cantonese places in Scarborough. But no, I don't know of any outstanding Cantonese there. Do you? Like I said, I'd love to hear about them.

Chowthoughts on Nuttall-Smith's latest review

Hi Charles, this is Chris. Hit me: where's great in Scarborough that's totally unique, best-in-class or extremely close to it for Cantonese in the GTA, i.e. so good that you'd advise strangers to get in their cars and make a special trip from 30 minutes away. If there's something I missed, I'd love to know about it.

Anyone been to Canoe Restaurant in Toronto? [moved from Manhattan board]

Canoe absolutely is not the same as you'll find in NYC. The other places you recommend are good, skylineR33, but Canoe is just about the only restaurant in the city that makes a serious effort to offer a truly "Canadian cuisine:" wild game from the arctic, takes on tourtiere, seafood from the west coast. I always send out-of-towners with a bit of cash there, because the food represents the country's foodways well and because the cooking/service/view are always very good to excellent (except when it's foggy).

Diana's Seafood opening restaurant

Zen Sushi. I'd kill to live near it. Yup, it's in Scarborough.

Pat Riley at Amuse (in the beaches)??

I just want to clarify: you're going to take your business client to College St., which is jammed with souped up Mustangs and 905 girls in full teen prostitute regalia and most of the restaurant patrons look like extras from The Jersey Shore, but you won't go to a quaint old converted house in the beaches with a proven chef executing an interesting menu because you're worried one of your fellow diners may be wearing a track suit?

Joanne Kates still misses Ruby Chinese restaurant (moved from Ontario board)

I'll second the give the man a break sentiment for sure, but Chez Piggy!?

Local strawberries - am I the only one disappointed this year?

The more rain you get, the worse the strawberries get, and all the rain of late has coincided exactly with the start of strawberry season. I got the first day's crop in Prince Edward County a week-and-a-half ago, just as the storm clouds were moving in. They were incredible—concentrated flavour, juicy, I actually said the words "oh my god" as I had the first one, and ran back for another two pints. I'm fairly certain they're the last good strawberries I'll have this year.

caterer at the enoch turner schoolhouse

Sorry to pile on, but I have to underscore, there is a 15 per cent kickback to the venue from the "preferred caterers" that you're never told about. I know this because I had my wedding there and the caterer later told me about it. Had a great time and it's a nice room, but by the time you figure in how much you're spending in hidden, useless fees (my catering bill was $14,000, so the kickback was $2,100), it's one of the most overpriced venues in town. Try the St. Lawrence Town Hall. It's owned by the city, so no "preferred caterers" (i.e. you can get whomever you want), no kickbacks.

Lardon Restaurant, Old Silver Spoon Location.

It's really good. Room so plain you'll want to slit your wrists. And very earnest service. But the guy can cook.

A Great First (& Second) Impresssion at L.A.B.

Thank God I'm not the only one. This was one of the worst meals I've had in the city in a couple years. I'm all for new, interesting, risk-taking cooking, but this wasn't any of that. It was technically awful (gummy, cloyingly sweet risotto), boring (sweet potato pierogies that tasted like gerber's stuffed Pizza Pops), intellectually lazy (silver leaf on a mushy overcooked carrot! Yeah! How original!), full of one liners (not a green salad! Wow! It's not green! But it tastes like . . . salad!), and uncomfortable (our waiter, named Chris, could not have been less interested in our table). It's not WD50 or anything like it. It's not even in the same galaxy as WD50. It's just awful.

Am I the only one who thinks Sam Sifton sounds an awful lot like Ruth Reichl? (moved from Manhattan board)

Ok, damn, I saw the subject heading and was about to defend Sifton. I think he's become far, far more readable than he was when he started. But then I read daveena's "skinny jeans on a fat hipster" line and started laughing so hard that I forgot what I had set out to do. Then I realized daveena's sort of right. His writing is still a bit uncomfortable.

ISO Meyer Lemons

They were everywhere until about a month ago, and way cheaper than ever before, like $2.99 a pound. Looks like they've finally reached a critical mass. But the season's pretty much over now. Maybe you can find some very soft (but still good for juicing and the zest) on Roncesvalles, at the organic produce store near Garden Ave.

Mediocre meal at Golden Turtle

I wouldn't say it's quite that bad, but I've never found it to live up to the hype. I've had good pho there, decent pork, totally forgettable spring rolls. But I don't think it's much different than, say, Pho Hung, on Spadina.

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Pho Hung
350 Spadina, Toronto, ON M5T2G4, CA

Good restaurants omitted by Toronto's leading food guide

Sorry, sloweater, but your conspiracy theory makes no sense. There are, oh, 500 places in the food guide. Have you counted how many of those advertise with Toronto Life? Less than 100, I'd estimate. I wonder instead if it's that the food guide is produced by humans, on deadline?

Costco mussels any good?

I don't know why you'd bother buying mussels there. They're practically free no matter where you get them. And if you've ever eaten a bad mussel, you never really forget it. I'm not anti-Costco at all: it's a great place for a lot of stuff (hardware, canned tomatoes, maple syrup that isn't a complete rip-off . . . ). But when I'm buying arch-perishables that can put my dinner guests on their hands and knees toiletside for three days straight, I'm going to head to a reputable fishmonger every time.

Mildred's Temple Kitchen - What a Disappointment

THe place has gone to crap, crap, crap. Had dinner there a couple of months ago, and didn't finish most of what they brought. Brunch is still good, but far from jammed the way it was at the old place. They're on my deathwatch list.

Sex at Mildred's Temple Kitchen

If you've been to Mildred's lately, you'll understand why they're resorting to this sort of stunt. It's gone to pieces, dinners especially. The food is brutal, and the place isn't full like it was in the last location—not even close, and not even for brunch.

Does anyone find Sifton readable?

I've knocked him (albeit with a fair bit of sadness) in other threads, but I think he may finally be hitting his stride. His piece this morning about eating in Vancouver is beautifully written, and smart, without his usual empty affectation. And I'm starving after reading it. I wonder if it's because a piece about Vancouver doesn't matter in the usual ways: NYC isn't going to be close-reading it as much as they do his reviews so he's relaxed. Anyway, I'm hoping he can channel this tone into what he does every week.

Charcuterie in Ottawa....Murray Street

I second that. It's pretty fabulous.

Arrogance at Allen's on the Danforth

I have to add my voice to the chorus. Allens' food is pretty good (albeit really, really pricey) and the room is nice. I'd love to like it, because, honestly, it's a decent pub with a good beers list in a city that's not exactly lousy with them. But the management's opinion of the restaurant far, far exceeds reality, judging by the way I've been treated there a couple of times. They're rude. Dismissive. Unwelcoming. And they act as though if you don't know everything about the place already you don't deserve to know. To whit: Allen's "famous" hamburger. Their hamburger is good. But it's also not on the menu, I suppose because the menu is so jam-packed with $30 and $40 entrees that they don't have room anymore for the $12 one. So if you're a regular and you know about the burger you'll order it, off menu. It's the best thing there. If you don't know about the burger? Well, enjoy that $40 plate, sucka.

Sifton in da house

I hate to pile on here. I really, really want the guy, and that Wednesday section to succeed. I love that section. I can't imagine a Wednesday without it. I don't know anything about Sifton—don't have anything against him. But damn, he really is unreadable. I'm too annoyed by the third paragraph of every thing he writes to keep slogging. He's got to relax. Spend ten minutes listening to how real people actually talk. And his editors have got to put a leash on his preciousness. This isn't The Great Gatsby. It's restaurant reviewing. It's even possible to do it in a literary way without being totally effete. Those columns aren't doing anything for his credibility, or for the section's.

Voir's Sparrow review (moved from Quebec board)

My god, who cares? The reservations policy is ridiculous. The reviewer subverted it. I'm sure the reviewer also didn't reserve under her own name (tsk, tsk, how disrespectful to lie about one's identity to a restaurateur!) and probably also lied when the server asked how everything was. That's what decent reviewers do, because they're there to serve readers, and not restaurateurs. If that shakes somebody's faith in the reviewer's paper, then best stick to martiniboys and other pay-to-play "reviewers."

Western Canada Foodie Tour—Best New Spots?

I Love All Seasons in Nelson. One of my all time favourite places. Schedule: most of July, pretty loose timing, but we'll probably spend a few nights in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Calgary, and up to a week in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, plus stops along the way . . .
I just read the Vancouver Magazine list. Promising for sure . . . though I wonder a lot of the time if the big magazines miss some of the good spots . . .

Western Canada Foodie Tour—Best New Spots?

The wife and I are planning to spend a month on the road in July, eating and drinking and golfing (and meeting with clients . . . there has to be some work involved) our way from Winnipeg out to Vancouver Island. We've done this for the last two years now, so we've been to a lot of the "bests." What we want to do this time is to go to the best of the new places. What are the can't miss new places out west of Winnipeg?

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, Toronto, Wedding

Gorgeous place, we had our wedding there, but you should be aware of a few ripoffs. First, they made us pay $75 or so for the "flowers" in the schoolhouse. The "flowers" are in fact plastic ivy which is ugly as sin. We asked if we could take it down. They said no. So we paid $75 for ugly plastic vines that are permanently a part of the place. I have a feeling the $75 isn't really for flowers.
Also, I love the way people always say they have "recommended" caterers like they're doing you a favour. They're not. Those four caterers are the only four you can choose from at that venue. And how does a caterer become so lucky as to be one of only four select caterers? By paying Enoch Turner a "landmark fee," which is the polite way of saying "kickback." It amounts to about 20 per cent of your catering tab.
So you get a great deal on the schoolhouse, you think. We did, too. And then without anybody telling us this before or afterward, we also paid Enoch Turner an additional $2,800, I think it was—20 per cent of our $14,000 catering bill. And all the sudden the place doesn't look like such a good deal any more. They made, oh, about $4,000 for a ten-hour rental.
This is Toronto wedding planners' and venues' dirty little secret, and not even the so-called "guides" to venues in otherwise recommended publications (Toronto Life—hello!?) will mention the scheme for fear of pissing off their advertisers.
There are a few places without landmark fees. The St. Lawrence Town Hall is a gorgeous venue and last I checked it was about $1,800. Seems steep.
But it's not expensive at all when you count other places' hidden costs.
Hope that helps.

Bloomfield/Harvest - Worth the drive from TO?!

"Worth the drive" is a tough one when you're driving from Toronto.
There's a lot of good places to eat in town.
I don't know that any of the restos in PEC are worth the drive in and of themselves, but I'd say that about all but two or three places in the region (Eigensinn and Treadwell's for sure). But there are some excellent restaurants. Combine them with some time at Sandbanks and visits to a few wineries and they very much are worth the drive and more.
The Carriage House is excellent. Small, with a really talented wife/husband kitchen team and beautifully rendered plates.
Harvest: I've experienced that bad service in the past (they were always a little overwhelmed), but my experience so far this season (I've been three times) is that it's much improved. Service is very good to excellent now. They've also trimmed down the menu significantly, to six mains, six apps, so the kitchen is much more focused, food gets out faster, and they're not flubbing dishes they way they did before. And Potters is an excellent chef. The food is pretty simple, but done beautifully. I'd kill to have a place like this in the city. I recommend this place all the time, and I'm confident doing it.
The Merrill Inn followed that focused/don't-try-to-do-too-much formula before Harvest did, and it's an excellent place as a result. Six mains, six apps, six desserts (or at least that was the case last year), all done really nicely, in a sweet little (if maybe too little) room. The perch is once of the best fish dishes anywhere.

Rosewater Supper Club - Like Missy said, Is It Worth It?

Truly one of the worst places I've been. Boehmer hasn't cooked anywhere good in a very long time. Before Rosewater he was "consulting chef" at the abominable Six Steps. Before that he was at Cluck Grunt and Low for a few months before they handed the reigns to Thuet.
I made some notes last time I went there. Here's how they went.
Rosewater has been a consistent culinary underperformer, burning through chefs and relying on its good looks to keep the out-of-towners and Christmas parties trundling in. Boemer’s time there doesn’t yet show any signs of turning things around. Though an appetizer of B.C. Dungeness crab and avocado salad with grapefruit sections works well, another starter, advertised (at $17), as pan-seared white gulf shrimp with spiced lemon garlic sauce, instead brings four shrimp engulfed in a sticky soy and shiitake reduction. A chanterelle mushroom risotto arrives clogged with taleggio cheese, a fine ingredient in itself, but which here overwhelms the mushrooms (and rice, and everything else about the dish) with an unmistakably corporeal pong; a parmesan tuile on top bears unappetizing droplets of fatty condensate, like you find on a hunk of warm cheddar. Arctic char comes overcooked but nicely juicy; the phoned-in boiled potatoes and blanched green beans do it no favours. A dish of Ontario lamb chops and saddle isn’t bad at first—the chops are suitably pink and flavourful. But then the saddle, grey as porridge and thoroughly overcooked, has roughly the same bouncy-chewy texture as one might expect from a raquet ball. Service is laughably amateur, from the busybody headwaiter (or sommelier, whichever the case may be) in the droopy pants and verging-on-untucked shirt, to an evidently inexperienced server, (who demands, upon being asked about a gruner veltliner—one of two—on the wine list, “The gruner what? I . . . Oh, are you sure we have that one?” and then, a moment later, “You said that’s an Australian white?”) A selection of four cheeses arrives refrigerator cold; the server announces, not long after depositing them on the table (and perhaps an hour too late), that diners should preorder cheeses so they have time to warm up.