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Burger Stomper and Milkshake Bar - Danforth Ave

I realize I'm a bit late since I forgot about this thread. But if you're waiting for "a higher end Indian resto" and haven't yet been to Aravind, you're possibly not paying enough attention and definitely missing out. Aravind is south Indian, which isn't well-represented in Toronto. No heavy curries, and more modern presentations of classic dishes. And the best part is that the food is presented in individually-plated portions, so it's not the boring and overdone giant bowl of whatever for the table to share.

Seriously, check it out. Well worth it.

Burger Stomper and Milkshake Bar - Danforth Ave

Surely, this falls under the category of 'trolling' rather than a serious comment. But I'll take the bait anyhow...

Aravind, Allen's for one of the best burgers in T.O. that's not smashed on a grill and a great beer list, Pachuco for interesting Mexican, Pan for Greek that's not meh, Mambo Lounge for Cuban tapas, Pizzeria Libretto.

Danforth may not be the hottest spot in Toronto for destination dining, but it's certainly not the Beaches. If you can't find something worth trying west of Pape, you're not trying very hard.

Niagara Street Cafe

The flipside of the "change the name" argument, of course, is that since Anton Potvin bought the place in 2004, the Niagara Street Cafe has had two amazing chefs in the kitchen (Michael Caballo until 2008 and Nick Liu since then), along with a lauded wine program built by Anton himself (he's a sommelier). The Niagara Street Cafe name is well-established in Toronto as a place that offers great, innovative food and solid wines. For many people, it's not just a restaurant, but a brand.

If it's true that Steve Gonzalez is the new tenant and Anton the landlord, I think the ideal scenario would be for the name to remain, with Steve putting together a new menu of innovative food, and Anton continuing to oversee the wine list. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of months.

non-Winterlicious prix fixe menus in Toronto, Winter 2012

Table 17 in Leslieville has a table d'hote on Sundays and Mondays. $32 for three courses. Also on Sunday (and maybe Monday as well?), it's BYOB with no corkage fee.

Tomasso's on Eastern Avenue

Agreed. The prices, relative to the portions being served, are great. I'm Italian, and I love Tommaso's for exactly the same reasons I love going to eat at my Zia's: the food is delicious and uncomplicated, the way Italian food is supposed to be; the portions are generous; and the hosts are friendly and casual.

I haven't had the lamb, but I suspect the well-cooked and thin chops were a conscious choice rather than a bad day in the kitchen - it's not uncommon for Italians to serve lamb well-cooked (though I agree that it should have some charring, and they shouldn't be dry).

If anything, I think Tommaso would do well to cut his menu down a bit. Their antipasto rustico and formaggi e salumi plates are great and plentiful, they have four pastas that they do extremely well (their cacio e pepe is the best version in Toronto), and the veal scallopini are great.

In the end, it's an authentic trattoria akin to what you'd find in the average small Italian town - a few great dishes are great, a few are just on the menu for the sake of variety, and the wine simple and satisfying.

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Tommaso's
400 Eastern Ave, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

New on Queen East??? - Ruby Eats, Tavern, Olive & Olive

Olive & Olives is an offshoot of a Montreal store of the same name that's been around for a few years. Their focus is on showcasing high-end olive oils, primarily Spanish (in my opinion, the most flavourful region for olive oil). I've been into the Toronto location once and chatted with the owner, Mia, who seems very nice and determined to make the place as big a success here as it is in Montreal. They have a cooking space in the back where they're planning to hold product tastings and food demonstrations from time to time.

New on Queen East??? - Ruby Eats, Tavern, Olive & Olive

Belmonte Raw: http://belmonteraw.com

It's raw food and a juice bar, from what I understand. No idea of an ETA, except that the buzz on their Twitter account @BelmonteRaw suggests it's imminent.

The Moogarita: A Beef Cocktail

Feb 01, 2011
TOFoodFan in Recipes

Queen Margherita

Pincus, QMP is definitely still worth a visit if you haven't been yet. I've experienced two off nights there in the past few months - one where the pizza was good but not great, and one where there was absolutely no char on the crust so I had to send it back to the oven. Still, every restaurant is going to have an off night once in a while.

For my money, QMP is the best Vera Napoletana pizza experience you're going to have in Toronto. The toppings on Libretto's pizzas are amazing, but their crust is usually far too thin (can't be picked up and eaten without falling completely apart), and their sauce has no flavour. QMP's cornicione is bang-on 99% of the time and the dough has the right salty-sweet balance, and their sauce is perfection.

Coffee oil - any ideas?

Hey millygirl. Did you end up making the ice cream? Thoughts? Have you found any other interesting uses for the coffee oil?

Dec 03, 2010
TOFoodFan in Home Cooking

Coffee oil - any ideas?

This is an old posting and you may not even have the bottle of coffee oil anymore. But in case you do, I thought I'd chime in. I recently bought a bottle of coffee-infused olive oil and have used it to make ice cream. My bottle also came with a coffee oil ice cream recipe, but since I already make olive oil ice cream on a regular basis, I just used my own recipe and subbed in the coffee oil. It tastes pretty great. My recipe is here: http://communaltable.wordpress.com/20...

Also, I recently tried the coffee oil drizzled over some avocado and tomato slices with a sprinkle of salt, and the flavour combo was great.

Sep 01, 2010
TOFoodFan in Home Cooking

Has anyone tried Sophie - Logan and Queen East

My wife and I have had brunch here three times over the past couple of months, and it's been consistently good each time. It's a simple menu, but everything is fresh. Quiches are delicious and light with a rotating lineup of different fillings (prosciutto and leek was one of the features this past weekend). Fritattas, savoury galettes, tourtiere and other interesting options often show up on the menu - this weekend there was a tomato tart tatin, which sounded interesting though I passed in favour of the quiche.

Mediocre drip coffee, unfortunately, but they offer french press and espresso drinks. Great baked goods too - my wife and I usually end up splitting a muffin or scone since we can't resist the flavour combos (blackberry-lemon, peach-raspberry, etc). Sure, the portions aren't huge, but at less than $10 for a piece of quiche and a side salad, I'm not complaining. A great neighbourhood place that deserves more attention.

Sky Blue Sky Sandwich Co

This place has been on my list for a while, in part because of all the positive press and buzz it's getting. Finally got around to trying it today. I really enjoyed the sandwich I had, and I'm pretty surprised at the negative comments here.

I went with the Casino Queen - a couple slices of smoked turkey topped with a balsamic onion marmalade, bacon, and avocado, on their brown bread. A solid sandwich - the flavours went really well together, and the made-in-house brown bread was delicious. My one quibble is that the bacon wasn't as cooked as it should be - mostly crisp, but the ends were soft.

I got a huge sandwich and a homemade pumpkin pie cookie for six bucks. No, it's not gourmet fare, but I'd much rather pay $6 here for a well-made sandwich than pay $8-10 at Subway for mass-produced crap.

Overall, not a place I'll travel from the east end to the west end for often, but one I'll go back to next time I'm in the area.

Sweet Indulgence on Coxwell closed?

I'd only been into Sweet Indulgences a couple times, but everything I tried was pretty amazing. It's a shame that they're gone, given that they'd apparently been around for more than 20 years.

But there's a shift going on in East York right now that will likely (unfortunately) bury more of these longstanding businesses in the coming months/years... namely, more bakeries/restos/other food places opening along Danforth East, where they're easily accessible to both motorists and transit users. The old retail villages along Coxwell/Donlands/etc aren't drawing the same traffic as they used to.

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Sweet Indulgence
1040 Coxwell Ave, Toronto, ON M4C, CA

East York
1039 Pape Ave, Toronto, ON M4K3W1, CA

Where to find spring ramps downtown

Bought a bunch at St. Lawrence Market this past Friday. Most of the produce stalls were selling ramps. This was my first experience with buying and cooking ramps, so I didn't quite know what to expect. I sauteed them in a bit of olive oil with some baby bok choy that I'd separated. So good. I'm definitely going to have to head back down to the market a couple more times before ramp season is done for the year.

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St. Lawrence Market
92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

March 15 Toronto Star update on Food Cart Program

Agreed. NYC is a city of best practices and success stories, particularly when it comes to food. This is true because the city is run by people who understand the importance of creating an environment where simple things like diverse food carts can exist, and then standing back and letting the vendors succeed, or fail, on their own.

The fact that one of the people overseeing Toronto's program - Kyle Rae - said last year about food carts "I'm afraid it's a fad ... they should be seasonal at best." clearly indicates that our municipal "leaders" don't understand the basics of how to build a thriving city. Why should a Toronto street food vendor have to struggle under the financial weight of a $30,000 City-mandated cart and $2,500+ rent to set up on a street corner, when $400 in fees is sufficient investment for vendors operating just 500 miles south of us?

Mar 21, 2010
TOFoodFan in Food Media & News

Amuse Bouche Restaurant: Definitely not amused

We did voice our concerns; specifically, I told the waiter that I felt the pork dish (main) in particular was somewhat "uninspired" for a tasting menu. Two things I need to mention here for context: 1) as per my notes above about the poor service, we were only asked about our thoughts on the meal after the final course was removed from our table; and 2) given that it is a tasting menu (chef's choice style, as per a proper tasting menu), I had no intention of sending anything back unless it was really under/overcooked. When I did offer my comment, I received a stunned sigh, and a "you should have said something earlier." Since I was done at that point and didn't want to get into a whole "If you'd asked me earlier I might have told you earlier..." counter-arguement, I just left it.

Tasting menus regularly offered at higher-end restaurants are supposed to be a showcase for the kitchen's best efforts (unlike, say, a promotional tasting menu during Winterlicious, which is focused more on value than showcase). I would reiterate that if a restaurant isn't able to put equal or greater effort into tasting menus as they do with their a la carte dishes, they should just eliminate the option entirely.

Amuse Bouche Restaurant: Definitely not amused

Went to Amuse Bouche last night for my birthday dinner, after having it on my must-try list for more than a year. Not at all impressed. Here's my long review of the night.

My wife and I both got tasting menus; the 4-course for her, 5-course for me. One of the dishes posted on the “seasonal menu” on the website that I was dreaming about – foie gras with sweetbreads – was absent. The waiter told me it had just been taken off the menu, but that the kitchen had foie gras and could prepare it specially for me. I was happy.

Sadly, the happy feeling didn’t stick around long. It’s not that any of the dishes we had were bad. They were just unmemorable, and particularly uninspired as part of a tasting menu.

The meal opened with bowls of seafood chowder served with croutons. The chowder came out in good time following our orders (a trend which would not continue). My wife and I agreed this was the best dish of the night. The broth was rich and creamy, without being too heavy. The seafood, while not plentiful, tasted fresh. And the smoky flavour (smoked paprika, I think), was fitting without being overpowering. Still, while it was a good chowder there was nothing special about it, and I was surprised it was featured on a tasting menu.

After the chowder, we waited. And waited - a good 20 minutes until the next course, a beef carpaccio served only to me (as I had the 5-course). I’m normally not a huge fan of carpaccio, but enjoyed this. The beef was fresh, and was served with a smoked Montforte cheese – which tasted great on its own, and worked fairly well with the beef – and what I believe was described as a cognac cream, the flavour of which was so muted it really could have been anything).

I finished the carpaccio (sharing with my wife, of course!), and waited some more. Another 20 minutes, if not more, and out came our requested foie gras dish – two very small slivers, seared, one on a plum compote, the other on a berry. I love seared foie, and I’ve been fortunate enough to never have a poorly-prepared piece – until last night. One of the slivers was seared perfectly. The other (on both our plates) was undercooked, mushy, and almost bordering on inedible.

Foie gras finished, and more waiting. Either Amuse Bouche has decided that 20-25 minutes is the appropriate amount of time between the time one course in a tasting menu is removed from the table and the next arrives, or the kitchen and service was so off on this particular night that things just didn’t flow. Given that everything came out at the appropriate temperatures, though, I suspect that (inexplicably) the former is true. Our meal was three hours from start to finish - I've had 9-course tasting menus in less time.

But I digress. The next course, the main, was easily the biggest disappointment of the evening. Three medallions of pork tenderloin were served atop a mustard-based cream sauce, alongside one brussel sprout cut into quarters, and three carrots sliced paper thin. While the pork was cooked properly, the presentation and flavour were mind-bogglingly underwhelming for a restaurant that has a reputation for innovative and creative twists on French-inspired food. I really could have cooked this at home, and was quite taken aback to have it come out on a tasting menu. More surprising was that the a la carte menu had a pork dish on it that was described as “Wellington” style (their quotes, not mine); I was expecting puff pastry or some other interesting twist. I got nothing.

Aside from being underwhelmed by the pork, I was also somewhat surprised at the selection of this dish: after three heavy, fatty dishes, I must admit I was expecting a fish main.

Dessert was fine – an assortment including a couple of mousses, a flourless chocolate cake with blueberry ice cream, crème brulee. Again, really nothing memorable.

Service alternated between mediocre and absent. Due to work schedules and snowy roads, I arrived at the resto about 20 minutes before my wife, and the waiter brought bread and asked if I’d like a drink. I ordered a cocktail, and proceeded to wait 15 minutes for it.

After our waiter took our orders, it became a guessing game of who would visit our table next. It wasn’t that we had one waiter and one runner bringing us food. It was that we had one waiter who we saw randomly through the evening, and two or three other employees bringing us our dishes. When the dishes were brought, they were placed in front of us, with the server only briefly describing what was being served, and at such a low volume that we constantly had to ask for the descriptions to be repeated.

Our water glasses were filled when we sat down, and then weren’t refilled at all throughout the evening, until I finally flagged down someone carrying a jug in desperation. I’d finished my wine after course #2 of 5, but nobody ever asked if I’d like another. Again, it was only after I asked for another glass as my main – course #4 – was served that I actually got more.

Even in the most high-end of restaurants, I don’t want or expect kid-glove service. That said, what I do expect when I’m spending more than $200 on a tasting menu dinner is to build a rapport with my server, such that I feel able to ask him or her questions about the dishes if I choose to. I also expect water to be filled, and wine glasses attended to. Amuse Bouche falls woefully flat in these areas.

Overall, this was the first meal I’ve had in Toronto in years that left me truly disappointed, especially considering how long Amuse-Bouche has been on my “must-try” list. The dishes other patrons were served, obviously ordered a la carte off the menu, looked fairly interesting. Perhaps the secret here, then, is to order off the menu. Of course, that begs the question – why offer tasting menus if you’re not going to take them seriously?

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Amuse-Bouche
96 Tecumseth St, Toronto, ON M6J2H1, CA

Traveling Solo, need some help!

My wife and I were in NYC this past weekend for a way-too-quick visit (translation: not enough meal times), and I had to make a point to visit Momofuku Ssam and the Doughnut Plant during what would be less-traditional eating times for me if I wasn't on vacation.

Stoped in at Ssam late Saturday night for cocktails and an order of pork buns. The cocktails were good but nothing to write home about. The pork buns were every bit as great as they're said to be - big chunks of pork belly sandwiched in a steamed bun with thin slices of cucumber and hoisin sauce. The cuke worked nicely to offset the fattyness of the pork belly. I may have to attempt the recipe from the Momofuku cookbook so I can have my fix when not in New York. Would be a good place for solo dining at the bar.

We stopped at the Doughnut Plant about 5pm on Saturday, and the line snaked well out the door. Took a good 30 minutes to get inside. Given the wait, we ended up ordering a bunch of doughnuts (after intending to get one each) so we could at least taste a variety. Favorites were the coconut cream-filled, and the passion fruit. Apparently they make all their fillings from scratch, and it shows in the taste. They're great doughnuts, and I'm glad I tried them. But they're still just doughnuts - I probably wouldn't spend 30 minutes in line for one next time.
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www.be-log-blog.blogspot.com

Feb 24, 2010
TOFoodFan in Manhattan

Stanton Social........

Having had a great meal and evening here during a visit to NYC in 2007, I'd hoped rumours of its decline were exaggerated. Went again this past weekend, and unfortunately, iFat's summary is indeed pretty accurate. The drinks were as solid as I remember them (particularly the blood orange-jalapeno margarita), but most of the food fell flat.

I remembered the french onion soup dumplings from last time, and they're still good, but they don't have that wow factor that, as iFat mentioned, you expect at that price point. Also had the red snapper tacos and duck confit and black bean empanadas, both tasty but not amazing. The one thing that was memorable was the charred squid lettuce wraps. The char on the squid was outstanding - I could have eaten a couple orders of these and been happy.

But the biggest disappointment for me was the foie gras. I love foie gras dishes, and had an interesting and tasty one here last time (some sort of PB&J riff, as I recall). So I ordered their latest foie dish, seared, on an apple chip atop a vanilla risotto cake. Way too sweet, to the point that it overwhelmed the flavor of the foie. The texture of the risotto cake was gluey and just didn't work.

If I lived in NYC, I'd probably visit the Stanton Social the odd time for a night out with friends. As an occasional tourist who's had one great experience and one underwhelming one, I won't be back for a third visit.
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www.be-log-blog.blogspot.com

Feb 24, 2010
TOFoodFan in Manhattan

Eat, Drink, and Give - Tonight (Feb 9th) at RTH, Toronto - food charity event for Haiti

I was there last night, and it was great. So many amazing restaurants participating - Cowbell, Cava, Globe, Splendido, Tutti Matti, etc., etc... And of course, wineries galore, from Niagara and elsewhere. Unlike a lot of "tasting station" oriented events, where the crowds make it difficult to circulate and try as much as you'd like, the vibe at Roy Thomson Hall was relaxed and the flow was seamless.

There really was more food than one could reasonably expect to try in one evening. Some highlights for me: chicken liver parfait on brioche from Splendido, headcheese from Treadwell in Niagara, French onion soup dumplings from Veritas, and the macarons from Bobbette and Belle.

I'm surprised at the lack of discussion on this board about this event; consdering the near-sellout, I'd have expected a whack of Chowhounders. If anyone did go, I'd love to hear impressions.

My full review at: http://be-log-blog.blogspot.com/2010/...

Celena's Bakery at Woodbine & Danforth opening Sat Feb 6th

This is just a few blocks from my house and our neighbourhood suffers from a serious lack of quality breads, etc., so I'm excited to try Celena's. Think I'll wait a few more days in the hopes their supply catches up to demand.

If Lazar is right and they close at 5pm, I hope those are just temporary hours. One of the reasons Danforth East lacks vibrancy is the abysmal operating hours of many of the retail food shops in the area. During the week, a neighbourhood bakery needs to be open through rush hour, so commuters on their way home from work can stop in for a loaf or a pie.

Caplanskys on College St - impressions?

Finally made it to Caplansky's today after a year of trying to swing a visit. Was there around 10 am, which was unfortunate in that I was limited to the sandwich-less breakfast menu. But it forced me to try a part of the menu I might have otherwise neglected.

I went for the smoked meat hash - scrap bits of smoked meat grilled up with onions and potatoes, and served with two sunny side-up eggs and challah toast. After waiting so long to pay Caplansky's a visit, I can say I was definitely not let down. If this was leftover smoked meat, I can't wait to taste the real thing.

Coffee was good and the service was prompt and friendly (as it should be at 10 am with only 3 tables seated, but still worth noting). About the only thing that didn't live up to expectations was the challah toast with my order, which tasted far more like ordinary toasted white bread than I was expecting... though after that much food, I wasn't overly concerned about toast.

Check out the full review and a photo of my meal on my blog at http://be-log-blog.blogspot.com/2010/...

Caplansky's -- mishap in the kitchen sets off explosion

I was in for breakfast today. I thought about staying away since it was my first (and long-anticipated) visit, and having heard about the mishap I thought they wouldn't be fully back in the swing of things. Couldn't have been further from the truth... everything was great.

Review on my blog: http://be-log-blog.blogspot.com/2010/...

Best of Danforth Thread

Best Indian - Haven't found one yet, but only for lack of trying. Judging by this thread, I'll try Sher-e-punjab and Makkah

Best Italian - 7 Numbers, best in the city

Best Thai - Jean's Vegetarian

Best Chinese - Number One Chinese (ok, it's actually on Pape)

Best Mexican - Haven't found one yet.

Best Pub - Allen's

Best Meal under $100 - Globe, if you're not drinking. Otherwise, 7 Numbers

Best Wings - Haven't had Danforth wings...

Best Pizza - If we're talking strictly places on the Danforth, then Gerrard Spaghetti and Pizza House; for places that deliver in the area, Bona Pizza (unless it's a bad night. Then it's just mediocre pizza)

Best Greek - Pan for upscale; Messini otherwise

Burrata in Toronto

From what I've tasted, the difference between Canadian-made and Italian-imported burrata is night and day. As pinstripeprincess says, good Italian burrata will be soft, slightly sweet, creamy and with a milky, though not necessarily chunky middle. While I've had a couple of good domestic versions, the majority I've had so far range from pretty good, to not great at all, the latter too often having a 'slightly spoiled cream' flavour. Given the difference in quality, I'd much rather pay $30-40 for the real thing and share it with a couple of lucky friends, than pay $15 for a local product that just isn't going to cut it.

Where to buy Za'atar?

Spice Trader is on Queen West, not East, and they do indeed have za'atar.

fennel pollen in TO?

I bought some a couple weeks ago at The Spice Trader, 805 Queen St. W. Something like $15-18 for a 1 oz tin, if I remember correctly (I don't have access to my spice collection at the moment). While at the Spice Trader, pop downstairs to The Olive Pit, too, for an amazing array of olive oils.

Danforth Gems

Having bought a house in the Danforth East area in February, my fiancee and I have enjoyed discovering some of the hidden gems of the area.

Globe is up at the top of my list, though I wouldn't necessarily put it in the 'hidden gems' category.

I'm shocked that nobody's mentioned 7 Numbers Danforth yet. Being Italian and not being able to visit my Italian aunts' places for dinner all that often, the fact that the food here always tastes just as it would in the home of any great Italian cook makes me happy.

Mambo Lounge, as mentioned, is good for Cuban-style tapas and great mojitos. Every so often (and frequently this winter and summer), they run a $20 special that buys you 4 tapas and a mojito or beer.

I discovered Sarah's a couple months ago, and am really surprised to hear people on this board tell others to avoid the food. No, it's not great, but it's serviceable. I usually go for the mussels (several flavour combos, some very good, some just okay). And they have a great, extensive beer menu and good fries, which is a pretty decent weeknight patio combo in my books.

Nobody has mentioned Walima Cafe (www.walimacafe.com) yet. Great Moroccan place between Coxwell and Greenwood that opened early this year. It's small and hidden away on the 'other' side of Danforth, but it's gotten a fair bit of justifiably good press from Toronto Life, Eye and the Star recently.

Another thing you'll find on the east end of Danforth is a number of Ethiopian places. So far, I've only been to Rendez-Vous, which is very good and run by a very friendly group of people. But I plan to hit Dukem soon, as well as the newly-opened Lalibela.

I tried Relish just recently, after several recommendations from this board and from others, and was surprised to find the majority of the dishes we tried really unremarkable. I'm willing to try it again, though, since we may have hit it on an off night.

Chowfind: Marrakech (Moroccan) 1326 Danforth

Any chance this place is licensed? We recently had dinner at Walima Cafe, also Moroccan and just down the street from this place (1450 Danforth). The food was amazing, and the only thing that would have made it better was a glass of red wine.

Either way, I'll have to check this place out since it's in my neighbourhood.