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Hidden gem brunch

Agree with MargieEv--Blake House is consistently good, friendly, welcoming, and efficient at brunch time. Plus their eggs are always cooked properly (no small thing in a town where hard-cooked "poached" eggs are all too common). And the rosti potatoes are never soggy--always a nice crispy finish. The fruit accompaniment could use a little more creativity and quality control, and the hollandaise could use more a little more lemon juice, but those are relatively minor quibbles.

Dinner near the Manulife Centre

Seconding Wow Sushi. Outstanding and reliable, one of my neighbourhood go-tos. (I recommend their chirashi dinner, which is pretty much a weekly takeout for me; the iceberg salad is way below unremarkable, but the freshness, quality, and assortment of the fish more than make up for that, IMO.)

Did Metro stop carrying Claussen pickles?

And Fiesta Farms had a good supply of the spears in stock as of two Saturdays ago.

Osteria Dei Ganzi

Thanks for this review, abigllama--it's timely, because we've been trying to choose a neighbourhood walk-to venue to celebrate an anniversary. We've looked at Ganzi so often and said "we really should try this place," but for one reason or another we haven't been there yet. So your review is just the nudge we needed!

Will report back after the event.

The Stone Cottage Inn / now Pub (Kingston Rd)

In the late 70s (maybe all the way into the early 80s), we used to drive from the Beach to eat at the Stone Cottage. They served very good, fresh, carefully prepared Middle Eastern food at a time when there weren't many such choices in Toronto. I remember the lamb dishes as being particularly well executed (they would cook the lamb rare when I asked--not something that was routinely done in those days), and I also remember that they served a dish referred to on the menu as "Smarty"--the owner's euphemism for brains (although in retrospect I think maybe they were really sweetbreads).

The décor was darkish, kind of mysterious, and (for the time) exotic. Upstairs there was a lounge (like a shisha lounge, with some low tables and floor cushions), where the owner would offer his regular customers after-dinner Egyptian cigarettes and coffee. That tells you how long ago this was! Although the place always seemed to be doing a good business, towards the end of the original owner's tenure (I think it was then--memories are hazy), a belly dancer entertained on Friday and Saturday nights--maybe because business was declining by then, after more Middle Eastern restaurants had opened.

We stopped going there when the ownership (and food quality) changed--can't even remember what year that was. Julesrules, it's so interesting that you should ask about this place--I was just thinking of it the other day and wondering whether the building was still there or whether the site had been redeveloped.

The Stone Cottage as it once was is on the list of restaurants that I miss to this day, along with The Balkans, the Copenhagen Room, Fenton's, Troy's, and other venues long gone.

Zaza at Church and Isabella is open

Stopped in on Sunday during their soft opening for gelato (finally chose zuppa inglese, delicious) and cannoli (lovely light, rich filling and a nice crispy shell). This branch of the Yorkville establishment is a welcome addition to the neighbourhood, and it should help to increase pedestrian traffic on Church north of Wellesley. We'll definitely be returning frequently. (The address is 585 Church Street.)

Where to buy Honeycup Mustard in Toronto?

Coming late to this thread (I see you've found it already), but for anyone else who's looking for this product, Pusateri's on Church Street near Maitland (south of Wellesley) carries it.

Need help with Yorkville Dinner Recommendation

Mideastro seems to have a low profile, but I've had several oustanding lunches there. Seriously good food and service, in my experience at lest. Can't comment specifically on dinner, however--maybe someone else can.

It's at the less frantic end of Yorkville, across from the new Four Seasons. 27 Yorkville, east of Bay, 416-477-2427.

Reither's on Church

Agree 100 percent about Pusateri's (and I would add the cheese shop and Cumbrae's). I wonder how many neighbourhood residents who used to frequent the independent merchants on Church are now shopping instead at the giant Loblaw's in the former MLG. (Loblaw's holds no attraction at all for me, but I suspect--can't prove--that I'm part of a tiny minority.)

Reither's on Church

I am saddened to have this news confirmed. I had hoped that the info on was mistaken.

You're right, magic--this is a terrible loss for the street. As an urbantoronto poster said, who knows what will take its place (nothing independent or small-scale, most likely, given the increasing development pressures on Church).

Reither's on Church

Thanks, Prima--subject line changed as per your post above. I don't want to be responsible for scaring anyone (more than I have already). Thank you.

Reither's on Church is reporting (in the neighbourhood node forum) that Reither's on Church Street near Maitland has closed. If true, this is very sad news for the neighbourhood--Reither's has been a fixture for a long time, and many of the products that itcarried are not readily available elsewhere downtown. And the people there were very helpful and pleasant.

Toronto restaurants near Yonge & Carlton

Hair of the Dog is just a couple of minutes' walk from where you are--at 425 Church Street. Friendly service, casual ambience, not fine dining but the food is usually reliable. Too bad the weather isn't warmer, because they have a pleasant patio too.

If you feel like walking a bit farther up Yonge, Fire on the East Side is at 6 Gloucester (just north of Wellesley).

I've had good meals at both these places.

Spaghetti alle vongole

Thanks, prima--Il Posto is another convenient Yorkville possibility. Looking forward to trying these two suggestions.

Spaghetti alle vongole

Thanks, 1sweetpea--that's a very convenient location for me, so I look forward to trying Vittorio's. I'll report back!

Spaghetti alle vongole

I too would love a rec for this. Have been disappointed many times in many venues. The standard for me personally was set by the original owners and chefs at Ci Vediamo in the Beaches, sometime back in the 20th century. Perfect al dente spaghetti, lots of fresh clams, a white wine sauce that managed to be both delicate and assertive at the same time, generous amounts of flat-leaf parsley and fresh garlic, served piping hot. But that standard didn't last long (maybe owing to the departure of a chef??), and subsequent changes of ownership made things much, much worse, IMO anyway.

Mercatto on Toronto Street used to do a good (not outstanding but credible) version, but I haven't been there for a while. Up-to-date recommendations for this simple yet apparently hard-to-achieve dish would be much appreciated.

Caffe Bacio in Yorkville

BlogTO had this interesting article:

It sounds as if it could be a welcome addition to the neighbourhood. Fingers crossed.

Did Metro stop carrying Claussen pickles?

I scored a jar of Claussen's pickles yesterday (December 1) in the just-opened Loblaw's store at Maple Leaf Gardens. For Claussen's fans who live downtown, this is great news. Hope they continue to carry them!

Bubble tea in TO and GTA

I'm looking forward to trying this place. Sadly, yesterday they had no taro, which is my flavour of choice at the moment.The very nice person behind the counter apologized told me to come back in a day or two, and I definitely will be doing that.

Thinking of going to Splendido for Thursday dinner ... still good?

Awesome indeed, and so is DDN's help/support.

In the process of cancelling a reservation because of an emergency, I ran into a technical problem (caused by the tech at my end, not at DDN's). Jeff, DDN's support person, communicated with me promptly, courteously, and extremely helpfully. Plus he followed up to make sure that all problems were resolved. If that level of attention and reliability is indicative of the DDN plan as a whole, I'm all for it.

I will definitely be rebooking through them as soon as possible. What a great opportunity to try out some venues that I too have been putting off because of the prices.

Did Metro stop carrying Claussen pickles?

Thanks, Kagemusha. I'm going to try the Loblaws in the Bloor/Christie area as soon as I can manage to get over there. I did try to push at Longo's but got only blank looks. Guess I will have to escalate to a higher-level manager. Thanks again for the tip re west end Loblaws.

Did Metro stop carrying Claussen pickles?

The Loblaw's (Bloor St. Market) in Manulife and the Longo's at Bloor and Park Road definitely do not carry them, at least as of last weekend (the most recent time I looked). The little convenience store in the Queen St. Bay store used to carry them, but doesn't any longer. Nor does the Metro at College Park. Nor does Pusateri's on Bay at Yorkville, although they had a sticker for Claussen's on the refrigerated-pickle shelf for a few days, or the Pusateri's on Church. I've looked in so many places (and asked so many store personnel, who are beyond clueless) without success. I even tried to go to the Kraft website to see whether I could inquire there, and was informed that they didn't answer queries about where to buy products.

I am in severe Claussen's withdrawal, and although I've tried other varieties (some recommended by Chowhounds), there is just nothing that compares. Kagemusha, if you've seen them recently, could you please post the specific location? Provided that it isn't somewhere unreachable by TTC, I would be willing to travel a great distance to find Claussen's dills.

Bumpkin's--any recent visits?

I owe abigllama a big thank-you for reminding me that attitude counts. Three of us went to brunch at Bumpkin’s on Sunday and had a great time. We all ordered a crepe: my friends chose seafood, and I chose spinach-mushroom-crab. The servings (accompanied by salad—spring mix, strawberries, cantaloupe, balsamic vinaigrette) were smallish but surprisingly good. The menu described the crepe as prepared with a béchamel sauce and topped with tomato sauce (huh?); once the server assured us that the kitchen would be happy to omit the tomato sauce, all was well. My friends said that all the advertised seafood was present in the crepes (too much conversation going on at our table for me to taste a sample of theirs). I was pretty astonished to find that the crabmeat in my crepe, though modest in amount, was actually crabmeat and not the extruded pink-tinted pollock that I’d been expecting. The crepes were nicely thin and eggy, and the spinach and mushrooms were the real thing. Real emmenthal atop the crepe, too.

We ate inside because the weather was iffy, and I’m glad we did because abigllama’s description was spot-on: several rooms, each evoking a different mood. We sat in the dining room at the back, with windows facing on the park. Definitely non-chic décor: two gigantic crystal chandeliers, full-length murals (sort of Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte as reinterpreted by a Greek resto mural painter), purple tablecloths—charming, or at least we found it so. Best of all, the tables were spaced far enough apart that we could hear each other but not the neighbouring tables. Service was efficient and polite.

Brunch for three, including one glass of wine, one orange juice (no coffees), tax, and 20 percent tip came to under $65. I wouldn’t bring foodies here, but I would bring unpretentious friends with, as abigllama suggested, the right attitude. Thanks to all for your input--much appreciated.

Bumpkin's--any recent visits?

I really like your suggestion re stopping in for a cocktail, abigllama--that would satisfy the nostalgic impulse and still let us enjoy FOTE for dinner. I walked past Bumpkin's on the way home last night, and I was struck again by the attractiveness of the building and the location. Now I'm curious to see the inside. Thanks for this!

Bumpkin's--any recent visits?

Thanks, camp1980. Stuck in the past is exactly where we don't want to be. My guess is that my visitor is now ready to rethink her choice. :-) I'm a big supporter of Fire on the East Side, so we're likely to be dining there, enjoying it as always, and observing Bumpkin's from a safe distance across the street.

Bumpkin's--any recent visits?

Thanks for the info, iMarilyn--I'm pretty sure that she remembers it from Cabbagetown. (Truthfully, I didn't remember it at all until she mentioned it, and at first I thought she was talking about the Groaning Board. Ah, the lacunae of the 1970s.)

Bumpkin's--any recent visits?

An out-of-town friend is visiting. She remembers Bumpkin's from many years ago and wants to go there for dinner or lunch while she is in Toronto. I searched the board but couldn't find any reviews.

Although the meal pricing is 21st-century, much of the menu on the website appears to have been devised in 1973. (Frog legs--really? And duck a l'orange, surf-'n'-turf, avocado vinaigrette, "curried shrimp"--you get the picture.) Nothing interesting about the wine list (except that the website doesn't show prices).

The restaurant itself is in an attractive setting (on Gloucester, beside the chain of parks that runs south from Charles just east of Yonge, right across from Fire on the East Side). It has a pleasant-looking small patio out front.

I'm trying to keep an open mind on the ground that the execution of of the dish is what matters. ChefDB shows the same person as owner/chef for many years. That could be good or very, very bad. Has any one had any recent experience at Bumpkin's? All information gratefully received (though I fear the worst).

Church Street

Thanks, abigllama. Even though another burger place and a chain pub might not be the most creative choice, it will certainly be good to see Zelda's space in use again. Now if only the beer store's ugly parking lot would morph into an attractive neighbourhood restaurant or independent pub (along the lines of Bar Volo or Hair of the Dog, for instance), I would be pretty happy. But I know that's not gonna happen.

Church Street

The former Voglie is now Sugo Trattoria. I had an earlyish Friday-night dinner there a few weeks ago--very friendly service, good food, and a nice windowside table overlooking Church.

I had beef-cheek risotto (the weather was still pretty cold then, so the dish was rich and substantial enough to be comforting), and my guest had the coppa di pesce misto. Both dishes were properly prepared (the risotto was better than Romagna Mia's, and the seafood in the pesce misto was perfectly cooked,).

The only disappointment was my dessert--zeppole, which sounds more interesting on the menu than it is in reality (essentially, deep-fried dough sticks served with a chocolatey sauce--meh.). My guest had house-made tiramisu, which was much better. One appetizer, two mains, two desserts, a bottle of wine, one cappucino, tax, and tip brought the bill to around $140 or $150, IIRC. I'd definitely go back there.

No idea what's going on at Zelda's--I just walked by there on my way to work this morning and noticed that at least half of the space seems to be under construction.

2011 Food and Resto CLOSINGS

They were open yesterday (Sunday, March 6). Didn't go in because I was with a group, but the shop looked its normal busy self when we passed by. Could it be that you saw those white awnings that they pull down over their windows every night? I would hate to think that Cumbrae's is closing even for a short time!

481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA