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artificialard's Profile

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Le Pain Quotidien - Coming to Toronto?

Agreed with estufarian. Have had to go there many a business lunches and *still* don't understand the big deal about the vaunted bread. It tastes completely unremarkable but not at all stale, just like any standard loaf from Loblaws.

I do enjoy the fennel in that house salad.

Jun 01, 2009
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Osogood Sandwiches - actually good sandwiches!

I've *scheduled* a trip to Osogood next week and am actually excited to try more of the baked goods, which I'm usually completely uninterested in.

Ha my sole motivation for posting that review was to drum up more business to make sure that the place sticks around!

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Osogood Pastry
874 College St, Toronto, ON M6H, CA

May 30, 2009
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Good Bars

If you just go a smidge earlier (say 11-something) than you should be fine for the Drake. Aser we hang in the same 'hood! Though I do like those places I wouldn't really call them 'nice' if you're looking for something a little more special for a birthday (although they're quite fun).

Really any 'nice' place you're going to have gross old guys hitting on people...

May 27, 2009
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Good Bars

I'm a Chinese-Canadian and I pretty much live my nights in west side bars and have never felt at all out of place, even though it is more typically a Caucasian crowd here (though with many Asians still). If anything I find Torontonians are more interested in foreigners and are happy to make conversation even with those with imperfect English. I'd encourage you to think about what kind of vibe, theme, music she's interested in and go from there.

Also how old is the crowd? I always felt C Lounge was more of a 'young professionals' 30+ crowd which may or may not be your vibe.

Circa's a huge club that tries to cultivate an 'experience' which can be fun in clubland. I'd personally recommend The Drake's Sky Yard which is a fantastic deck on the west side.

May 26, 2009
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Simply: "Must try" places to drink

Thanks for the suggestion, Manhattan's are a favorite of mine so I'll definitely go back for that. Just last week I went and the Manhattan's were on the menu but I had a 'Summer Time' which was a rum concoction with fresh fruit juice and other great things. They really care about making a balanced cocktail with interesting and complex flavors there.

May 26, 2009
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Osogood Sandwiches - actually good sandwiches!

Everyone seems to be dishing out sandwiches these days but I've found it's hard to find a place that actually pays attention to all the little deals that make a great sandwich. So I was really happy to find this odd little place on College between Dovercourt and Ossington. The whole cafe is virtually a walk-in closet but they've managed to fit in a small bar near the window for a few seats and even a lower counter with some toys and books for kids.

It seems to be run by a nice Asian lady and there's some great variety of sandwiches, the combination look both varied and exciting - I had the chicken and apple but the spicy crab and meatloaf also caught my eye.

I had:

Chicken and apple sandwich ~$7 - Was superb! The bread was a nice fresh multigrain filled with a very generous mix of chicken salad, apple, peppers, sprouts, and lettuce. Very, very fresh and I really liked how everything was chopped up into nice chunks so you can taste what you're eating but not so large that you couldn't take proper bites. I can't recall a more pleasant 'homely' sandwich I've had outside recently.

I also couldn't resist a pumpkin square ~$3 that was also very nice, a substantial layer of pumpkin filling on top of a tightly pressed crust that was very buttery. The crust could be a little lighter so I could actually break it with a spoon but I was happy to just stuff bites in my mouth.

There was also other great little treats, a blueberry tart, cookies, and mini rice crispy squares (obviously for kids).

While the 'look' of the place looks a little dilapidated (handmade marker on paper for signs, odd little bins holding all the goods) I'd very much recommend this place to anyone looking for a fresh baked treat or even more so a great sandwich. A few signs also advertised the fact that she made everything from scratch, which is admirable, yummy, and healthy!

May 26, 2009
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Simply: "Must try" places to drink

Lot 16 just beside The Drake is my 'go to' place for a chill bar. They always have some fun drinks, from a 'dirty' Shirley Temple to a wonderfully intricate gin caesar with 5 different garnishes. But it's really the ultra-friendly and laidback staff but who still give great service. I always feel comfortable there and I'm not the kind of person that always chats up the bar. Not too expensive too.

I'm going to try to hang around the Black Hoof more too. Much has been made of it's food but they have some great cocktails made with all fresh ingredients, muddled liquors, and innovative mixed (using tea, herbs, etc.) The bar area is very long and it's still very active during the week. And they pretty much have the best bar food in the city I'd imagine.

May 26, 2009
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Yet Another Black Hoof Review (YABHR)

I figure there should be an acronym since we all enjoy writing about this place so much. I haven't had the time or inclination to go out to to a place for the food in awhile, figured the Black Hoof was the perfect salve to a tiring day.

Went at 8PM on a Monday, was told it would be a 30 minute wait when it took a whole hour to get seated... A little unreasonable of an estimate but we were in the right mood to wait. The layout is lively with a long bar introducing the small dining room with very closely placed seating and thus a little loud with the hard surfaces all around.

Dishes came in good time:

Bread (small) $2 - Thuet bread, good. Decent portion with +10 half-slices

Charcuterie (small) $16 - Magnificent! An exercise in enjoying the purest form of a variety of flavors. We had duck prosciutto, chicken liver mousse, chorizo, salami, rabbit, pork neck, and a few others. Everything was shaved razor thin and presented like still art, while there were favorites each item was distinctive and the whole experience was an awesome tasteventure. Cute little house-pickled vegetables and a grainy mustard served to help break the palette along the way.

Marrow $5 - I haven't had it before just presented on it's own in the bone. Served with a few slices of bread and sea salt. A fun but unassuming little dish.

Scallop ceviche with dried pig's ears - About 8 scallops were ceviched whole served with a salsa on top and a twigs of dried pig's ears. Competently put together but both items were a little bland and the dry sticks of pig's ears didn't seem to jive with the pool of ceviche it rested on. Would pass on it.

Raw asparagus salad $9 - I thought it looked surprisingly large until I realised it was 'cause they shaved the asparagus using the meat slicer but it's used to great effect. A thin vinaigrette and proscuitto are thrown in for taste. Good but too much prosciutto oversalted an otherwise nice 'recess' from the meat orgy. I do hope they keep vegetarian item(s) on the menu.

Foie gras on brioche $20 - A very generous serving (2 'lobes') served on top of a delightful slice of crisp buttered brioche. Seared perfectly with a slight crisp that I would gladly hold as a standard for any future order of foie. The buttering of the brioche seemed a little unnecessary given the obvious chunk of fat it was supporting. A little onion relish superbly added contrast and cut through the heavy flavor.

Summertime cocktail $11 A concoction of rum and other fruity fun fresh things. My friend had a great cocktail of gin, tea, and other items. Both very great and made of fresh ingredients and infused liquors.

Wine list looked great but didn't partake due to it being a Monday. Will definitely order a glass of the malbec next time and they have an 'end of the bin' wine list that looked like it would be very fun to try.

Service was surprisingly excellent, more attentive for a place of this stature than I can remember for a long time: water always filled, we were seen to make sure how we were after each course, and everything came in great time.

All items above with tax before tip was shy of a $100 for 2.

Not so much 'cheap' as a good value for a unique foodie experience, It's rare that I have no complaints about a restaurant but beyond the waiting time hiccup I don't. It would be nice to have a more expanded menu but I understand the Hoof Cafe will have the facilities to offer that. While I might not return for a whole meal for awhile (the menu is small enough that it can get tiring) I think this is just a fantastic place to go for a drink and a nibble with friends. The great cocktails and wine list with small plates that almost demand sharing make it a perfect hangout.

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Black Hoof
928 Dundas St W, Toronto M6J, CA

May 25, 2009
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

What is your favourite upscale Saturday lunch location?

Agreed on Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner - very sharp dining room, graceful and unencumbered service, and some excellent lunch fare.

Nov 17, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Obama cookies?

I read that the Queen of Tarts is selling presidential candidate cookies and I thought it'd be fun to bring them to work tomorrow. Roncesvalles is hard to get to though so I'm wondering if I can find Obama or Palin cookies anywhere else? Pref. downtown westward towards the core?

Not interested in McCain (they'd probably be crusty and stale).

Nov 04, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Best places around Ryerson University!

Mmm good call! It's a little further off at Queen and Church but certainly within walking distance. I'm not sure it's a 'value' place but more a more eloquent place than most to hang between classes.

Sep 22, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Late Night Eats in the West End

Mmm how west? I know Shanghai Cowgirl is a fun little diner that's up to midnight most nights up to 4AM Sat/Sun. Tequila Bookworm is a nice cafe serving sandwiches and such (also free wifi) open 'till 11 and 1AM on Fri/Sat. Both are between Spadina and Bathurst on Queen W...

http://shanghaicowgirl.com/
http://tequilabookworm.blogspot.com

Sep 20, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

St.Louis Bar & Grill?

I wouldn't recommend any of the locations given the choice but I occasionally am dragged there by relatives.

The only thing I order now is the 'madras wrap' which was a pleasant surprise the first time - it's a simple wrap but the sauce is nice and tangy with a little spice and the chicken is cooked nicely and moist. Not bad...

Sep 20, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Best places around Ryerson University!

FYI Manpuku is in the style of a 'noodle house' so they just serve bowls of (good) noodles in soup and rice, they have nice bar seating that's comfortable for eating alone.

Also in the Grange food court is 'Helena's Magic Kitchen' which is a place I really enjoy - they serve 'homestyle' kind of food like quiche, sheppard's pie, meatloaf, etc. It looks a little improvised but it's all very good, healthy, and fresh. They also serve big portions!

Sep 20, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Visa Infinite offer @ George?

I'm interested in the offer too! Although the wording leads me to believe it's subject to change so one person might get a different app then another... Hopefully VISA is able to get more of these over time...

Sep 20, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Japanese cookware store in Toronto? Shabu Shabu pot (nabe) in Toronto

If I recall there was a really large Japanese kitchenwear store on the topmost level (although I haven't been back for a few years).

I imagine Sanko on Queen W at Claremont would probably have not only the serving dishes but also the authentic ingredients - they're very nice, I've asked them about how to do a shabu shabu before and they took me through the sauces and typical ingredients. Likely more expensive then uptown though...

Sep 18, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

just opened - Just Us Cafe

Excellent! I'm always on the lookout for a place that serves decent grub and has wifi for working in.

Thanks Gary.

Sep 17, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Best places around Ryerson University!

Manpuku is fantastic, easily one of the more unique finds in the area at a great price but that's quite a bit out of the way.

We would always call it Whorvey's. I guess different years?

Sep 17, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

just opened - Just Us Cafe

The cafe has re-opened but I couldn't spot a clear sign (I always pass-by on the streetcar). Anyone know what the new place is called? Experiences?

Sep 17, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Politica

I'd say it's good but not *great* - a very serve-the-neighbourhood kind of place. Most times I've been there the food has been as expected but I just don't find the menu or dishes that interesting.

Given the choice I'd rather go to Swan, The Rosebud, or Niagara Street Cafe nearby but if you're just looking for an easy casual night out then Politica is great if even to avoid the crowds with decent grub.

Sep 17, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Manitoulin Island recommendations?

The Meldrum Bay Inn is at the very, very western tip of the island and has a pretty fantastic view. The food isn't chowish but just the staples prepared simply and deliciously. I don't remember having better butter tarts in my life!

http://www.meldrumbayinn.com/

Sep 17, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Saturday Afternoon Martinis

Wish at Yonge and Charles? Great 'martini' menu in a nice Miami-minimal kind of way. A little out of Yorkville though.

Cafe Nervosa is a great casual spot anytime though too!

Sep 12, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

good fancyish lunch place in gay village?

Wish at Charles and Yonge (on the east side) is very nice - they serve a decent brunch amongst a relaxed but cool Miami-minimal decor. Not exactly Chowish but my pick for the area...

Sep 08, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Breakfast around the Eaton Centre

B Espresso bar is a lovely modern-minimal kind of café with these french toast stuffed sandwiches that are delicious, amongst standard pastries and such. It is more of a serviced cafe than an actual restaurant though...

Sep 06, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Good eats in the King/Dufferin Area?

A big + on Sushi 930. It's just great sushi that's fresh and tasty, I haven't found takeout sushi that's better anywhere in Toronto. It is mostly a takeout affair though and you may want to call your order in ahead as it does take sometime.

Sep 05, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

delux on ossington

Remember that episode of Seinfield with the Japanese people sleeping in the chest of drawers? It was the dining table version of that.

Sep 01, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

delux on ossington

Went to Delux again last night:

Starters were the crab salad and the oysters on the half-shell. I thought the salad would be boring but it was a pleasant surprise - a good mix of crab meat mixed with other elements (can't remember) for good texture and taste (a mild citrus and herb), a very nice presentation of accompanying avocado and beets. A great summer dish. There were 6 oysters, 2 kinds that were also good although I'm not an oyster connoisseur people I was dining with did remark that the already added garnish (a cider I think) was a little too strong for the oysters themselves.

For mains I had the chicken which was about a quarter laid on top of ratatouille and with a side of spinach folded into 2 small crepes. It wasn't the most exciting dish but excellent execution: the chicken was perfectly done with a good crisp of the skin but incredibly moist on the inside and had a nice buttery taste to it. The ratatouille brought great flavor from the produce and the crepes added a bit of whimsy to the dish.

Others at the table had the lamb shank and bouillabaisse which were both similarly well-executed but didn't bring anything incredibly new to our palettes. The Boillabaisse was a nice exercise in minimalism - the plate is deceptively small but had a very high quality of select seafoods (monkfish, clams, mussels, etc.) and I thought there could've been more broth but it still carried a very intense flavor.

For desert we had a walnut and plum cake (maybe the same as last time) that was once again one of the most delicious deserts I've had in a very long time, and I don't usually order desert. Toasted walnuts, sweetly reduced plum sauce with the tartness of the plums, a crispy outside cake that falls away to a great fluffy core. Amazing!

Service was fairly good on a busy Friday night. My own big beef was the fact that they seated the 3 of us at a table that's really for 2, although the banquette seat extended around the corner table so there's 3 seats. It was incredibly cramped and we're a diminutive Asian family but 2 of us on the outside still had to sit in almost a diagonal posture to fit properly. I understand you need to fill your tables to capacity and this is maybe understandable if we just walked in and you wanted to give us a table but I had made the reservation a week before so I expected to be seated a table that I could comfortably sit in!

Still all the food was excellent although I've pretty much exhausted the menu at this point - I'm hoping that they introduce some specials for the entrées or change the menu seasonally. Highly recommended!

2 apps, 3 entrées, a $30 bottle of wine, one desert and tax = ~$135. Entrées are $19-30-ish.

Aug 23, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Mission Burrito

Agreed with downtown. The original Mission burrito may very well be better tasting but the steaming method used here left a poor texture and soft feel to the burrito that didn't hold up well when eating. The flavor was bland compared to Burrito Boyz (I'm not much of a burrito fanatic but I generally am happy with BB) at the same price and for some reason just left me with a vaguely unsettled feeling the rest of the day. Our whole office went everyone's opinion was surprisingly the same - merely serviceable, but not something one would seek out deliberately.

Aug 23, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

FOOD AT THE EX

I haven't been to The Ex for awhile but always read about the crazy food served at the State Fairs in the US - do they have that at the CNE? Particularly crazy fried (object)! Fried Mars bars, fried Coke (!), fried pickles, etc.

I think that's be amazing and I would go just to taste something like that. I think Chowhounders would appreciate unconventionally *new* tastes even if they're not the epitome of culinary sophistication.

Aug 20, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Grace on College - I guess I don't get the buzz

I didn't have such a terrible time but there's definitely better places in that price range and area (i.e. Rosebud, Delux, Foxley, etc.) such that I don't see a particularly good reason to go to Grace...

My problem was somewhat a somewhat generic menu with competent but uninteresting flavors and a terrible time waiting for the food (+1 hour)...

Aug 14, 2008
artificialard in Ontario (inc. Toronto)