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Best downtown-ish cheese shop?

A couple of my favourites are Chabichou on Harbord. How I miss this place since I moved! Wonderful selection of Euro and Quebec cheeses, especially unpasteurized. Very knowledgable and helpful staff who can certainly sort out a cheese plate for you. My new local is Leslieville Cheese on Queen West who are very nice, as well.

Osteria Ciceri e Tria on Victoria Street

If you see octopus/squid carpaccio on the menu, avoid it like the plague! I'll admit that the apps are really nice so maybe as an after work drink spot it would be OK as the wines are very nice. I just don't see any reason to go to a restaurant for just drinks and snacks. I like a complete meal and this place just doesn't live up to it's hype.

Osteria Ciceri e Tria on Victoria Street

I have visited Osteria 3 times since it first opened. It's a beautifully designed room with a long communal table surrounded by smaller tables that seat 2-4 people. Italian wines are sorted along one wall according to region. The first time I went was for lunch and the meal was great. I was impressed by the changing menu and the fresh apps were fantastic. It was a flurry of nice and clean tasting dishes from Italy, accompanied by a bottle of Prosecco. I could barely go back to work and almost fell asleep at my desk with a smile on my face.

My second and third trips to Osteria were awful experiences. I'll only tell you about the third one for the sake of brevity. We sat at the communal table next to some loudmouthed elementary teacher that reminded me why I hated school as a kid. Fearful of my last experience, I went for a simple lamb and maccheroni dish. I ended up sending this dish back twice because it was under cooked. How hard is it for an Italian joint to cook pasta? My server tried to explain to me that semolina pasta was supposed to be white and crunchy in the middle and she offered to give the kitchen a third try. As my girlfriend had already finished her meal I told her to forget about it and asked for my bill. I was not willing to get home to find yet another disappointing dish. When the bill came, they did not comp me anything, not even my beer. With two terrible experiences in a row, I'm never going back.

Take heed! Pass on this place. I wanted to like it but it's overpriced, overrated and lacking in quality control. Their sisters at Terroni are much better.

106 Victoria St, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

Early dinner near Massey Hall this Sunday

I like Mercado, a few blocks south of Massey Hall. The food is really fresh and good and it's not too expensive. Pizzas are about $13, amongst other things. It's not nearly as loud as Terroni.

Acme Burger - Bloor/Bathurst

As the wind swirls snow through the streets of Toronto, I feel the gentle nudge of hunger in my belly. I check the fridge and find it as vacant as my urge to cook for myself tonight. Fatefully, a new burger joint just opened up right across the street from my pad.

Acme Burger is clean and well-lit. I step up to the counter and, despite the backlit pictue of a greek salad forcing me to squint, I order a 6 oz. bacon cheeseburger burger with fries and a Pepsi. According to the girl at the order desk, a Sprite is extra. Like seasoned Quebec restauranteurs, these guys must hedge their bets by buying Pepsi futures.

I watch the 3 guys put the orders together. The grill guy drops the frozen advertised Angus beef patty on to the grill. It doesn't sizzle.

As my patty cooks, I check out the vast array of condiment compartments behind the sneeze guard: something that looks like dijon mustard (yes!), speckled mayo concoctions, canned mushrooms, house relish, tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, 3 types of cheese, olives and some other shit. The expediter pulls my bun out of nowhere and I'm glad to see it's a toasted, crispy, poppy seed egg bun. I'm not so glad when he tells me that I asked for cheddar (nobody asked and I didn't know I had a choice) and puts it on one side of the bun. How hard can it be to melt the cheese on the patty? I ask for dijon and he looks dumbfounded. I ask him for the hot mustard as I point at the suspect squeeze bottle. He understands and piles on some onions, mushrooms, tomato, lettuce, house relish at my behest. Pickles are delivered on the side just how I like 'em.

My fries land on the counter. I wait some more. They forget to put my bacon on the grill and are placing my burger on the bun when the expediter realizes the mistake. They scrutinize my order ticket as I take a closer look at the bacon. The grill guy lays something that resembles turkey bacon on the not-too-hot grill: heavily processed and two-dimensional. The processed 'bacon' is just barely warm when they drop it on my patty They stick a certified Angus beef pin in the top of the burger, place my components into a brown paper bag and hand my dinner to me.

I dodge angry cars, climb the stairs to my flat, put the Pepsi in the fridge for dessert and crack open the bag. I pour myself some red wine and get busy. The bun is good and crispy. The burger is predictably soft and soggy. Good thing I held off on the mayo. The fries have also gone soft on me from being cooked well before they served the burger and they taste like cheap oil. The only crisp I'm feeling is from the onions. I'm hungry enough, though, and devour the meal regardless of its shortcomings.

Price: under 10 bones
Rating: 2.5 toothpicks (out of 5)

I'd think twice before hitting Acme again. Mediocre ingredients and half-assed execution are just barely adequate for a lazy guy on a cold night. If you're going to push the Angus beef, you'd better light a bigger fire under your grill and avoid the canned condiments.