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Hidden away, independent cafes, worth making a special trip to visit.

These guys get 10 points in my book for having Almond Milk as an option along with soy milk and regular cow's milk. Much appreciated from someone with a strong dairy intolerance!

John's Italian Cafe - A Little Gem of a Place

Sometimes restaurants have opulent and sophisticated exteriors, but end up being disappoinments in the food department. And sometimes modest-looking little places blow your socks off with their quality, creativity, and service.

John's definitely falls into the latter category. This little place, located on an otherwise relatively deserted stretch of Bathurst St. just a few blocks south of Dupont St. is unassuming enough. But order a nice selection off the ever-changing menu and prepare to be amazed. While it calls itself an Italian restaurant, the few times that I have been there it featured a selection of Latin American-inspired dishes in addition to some quality Italian mainstays, and also some creative combinations of the two. The food is incredibly good quality, fresh, and cooked in an open-concept kitchen that you can see from the dining area. The service has been accommodating and friendly every time I have walked through the door.

Between that and their decent selection of wines, John's has fulfilled as promised on three lovely occassions so far. I look forward to my next visit.

Sweet & Spicy! New Chineese restaurant at St-Clair & Christie

On your recommendation, I ordered delivery from this place. Twice. Hoping that perhaps the first time they were just having a bad day or something. They weren't. I'm sorry, but I have never had more tasteless, undercooked, measly portioned, cold Asian food.

Sage West; College/Ossinton – A quick review

Noticed this place while cycling by the other day...seems pretty classy. However, inattentive waiters are a pet peeve of mine. What did you mean by "erratic" service?

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

Thank you sweetpea! In that case, Bacchus, it would seem to me from the ingredients on the veggie plate that apart from the inerja, everything else is gluten-free. However, as sweetpes said, I don't know whether there were any sauces or thickeners added, so a quick chat with the waitstaff might be best. The food tasted pretty clean though...

EGG-citing DEAL~! Boom Breakfast (Toronto)

I have been several times to both the College St. location and the St. Clair W. location. There is always a long line-up unless you go in the middle of the week, and even then it is packed. Once or twice, I waited in line and the hostess came around with little muffin and juice samples for those waiting in line, which I thought was a nice gesture.
The food is good, but not exceptional. The food presentation is colourful and attractive, a more modest version of Chez Cora.
Overall I would say that it is great for a relaxed, homey breakfast but not exactly haute cuisine.

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

I am a bit ignorant as to what other ingredients have gluten other than wheat (I was told to keep away from wheat specifically). If you can tell me what other ingredients you are avoiding I can tell you whether I noticed them in the dishes or not...

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

We asked about lunch specials and were told "Actually everything is on special right now because we are new." I don't know if that means that a price increase is lurking in the near future, or if there will not be a difference between lunch and dinner menus.
The menu did not mention a 30 minute wait for coffee, nor did it name a price for the ceremony. The server seemed to hesitate slightly when she said that they had Ethiopian coffee, perhaps assuming that we knew what we were in for.
I enjoyed the food at Zagol more than that at Lalibela. I think I know what you mean about the food at Lalibela being too fresh...I didn't find that to be the case here. The green beans, carrots, and potatoes were lovely because they seemed to have been cooked long enough to have the flavours merge nicely. Collard greens, even when cooked well, tend to be a bit crispy, but these were cooked more than Lalibela's in my opinion. The only thing on the plate that I wasn't crazy about was the spicy red lentil stew, whose spices tasted a bit too musty.
However, stews tend to be a matter of personal preference, so I suggest you give it a shot and post your thoughts...

Worth noting too is that they offered us free glasses of wine. We declined, but noted that "House" wine on the menu is unidentifyable, and $22 per litre. Consume at your own risk.

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

So I want to follow up on my original post, because I stopped by Zagol today for lunch with a friend. Here's the scoop:

After being greeting just outside the entrance by a schizophrenic-appearing street person in a red beret who then proceeded to shout colourful obscenities into the street, we made our way into the spacious and somewhat empty dining area. Just so you are aware, this place has only been open since last Saturday, so very new. As a result, the menu is somewhat limited (this will be increasing however as they get busier and more established). We were offered the standard choice of veggie platter or meat platter, and decided on the veggie platter. Someone on this thread commented on speed of service (or lack thereof) so I would like to corroberate that service, while friendly and helpful, was extremely laid back and relaxed. If you are looking for a quick lunch this is not the way to go. But I digress...after a slightly longer wait than normal, an absolutely heaping platter of delicious smelling food was brought out. More than enough for two. I would especially recommend a mixture of spiced green beans, carrots, and potatoes, the yellow lentil stew, and the collard greens. My dining companion, for whom this was a first foray into Ethiopian food, thought it was all exceptionally good, though was slightly horrified at having to eat with his fingers (I told him to suck it up).
According to the waitress, the inerja is made mostly out of barley and teff, with a little bit of wheat.
Following the meal, my dining companion wanted a coffee. He was offered cappuccino, or a latte, but decided on Ethiopian coffee since he wanted the complete experience. Being a regular of Lalibela, I was in the mood for the black tea with cardamom in it. We ordered, and after another long period of time the waitress brought out a tray with a beautiful clay flask full of coffee set on a handwoven basket, a pot of smoking frankincense (incense), cardammom seeds, and my tea.
The incense, while lovely at first, then became too smoky, to the point where they had to crank the door of the restaurant open to get some fresh air. The coffee resembled a thin turkish type coffee and was reasonably good.
Then came the bill. We would have been gleeful at having spent $12 on ample lunch for two if we did not suddenly see that the coffee performance had just set us back $11 alone, almost the price of our meal!
The verdict: This is a wonderful laid-back restaurant with great food and great potential to become the newest popular Ethiopian place on the strip. But unless money is not an issue, skip the Ethiopian coffee!

Zagol Ethiopian Restaurant, 875 Bloor St. W. at Ossington Ave.

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

I am wondering if you know what inerja is made out of? I have a wheat allergy and I was curious whether you know if it is wheat or another type of flour.

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

Haven't been yet but I'll post price points here when I go...

Embrujo Flamenco, Tapas Restaurant - A quick review

Wow. Not often that a restaurant review invites extremes! My experience there was of decent food, though I agree that the portions are small for the price. It was relatively quiet during my visit but I can see how the ruckus of a flamenco night might make servers less than attentive...

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

Thank you guys, that's the one. Sounds very promising! I'll have to make a visit.

New Ethiopian Resto at Bloor and Ossington

I noticed a new Ethiopian restaurant that has recently opened just a few doors west of Lalibela (a pre-existing very good Ethiopian place), at Bloor and Ossington. I can't for the life of me remember the name of it, but it looked rather classier than most of the other Ethiopian restos on that strip. Has anyone been there who can comment? Or at least remind me what it's called?

Tati Bistro, Harbord just West of Spadina - A quick review

Thanks for the review, I wondered about that place.

Vannis : Italian, St.Clair & Christie - a quick review

I started a post awhile back searching for the best calamari, and when I read your post I had to go try Vanni's myself. It is spectacular! Crunchy calamari and shrimp deep fried but not at all oily, with some sort of lemon red pepper spicy aioli.
I reccomend to all calamari fiends!

Asian sans MSG???

As far as I know, soy sauce has natural glutamates, while fish sauce has artificial...

What's your most disappointing dining experience?

I would have to say Live on Dupont St. Meant to be one of the best raw food restaurants (there are few) in the city, and possibly the first, I couldn't have been more disappointed. The dish I had was cooked and couldn't even be considered raw, so it is not because I can't appreciate raw food. I had an asian thai dish meant to have sweet potato noodles with greens and got a few stringy noodles in tasteless broth with a piece or two of spinach. It was awful. And memory doesn't serve me on the price but I believe it was over 15.00.

King Lobster, recently opened on Spadina - a quick review

Good to hear about the MSG request - I just posted on that topic today. Thank you for the review...

Asian sans MSG???

Thanks for the tips everyone...Its amazing how much nasty crap passes for edibles these days. Anyone else have resto suggestions, preferably downtown TO?

Asian sans MSG???

It just occurred to me that I might post this here, as I can't be the only one with this problem. I am severely severely allergic to MSG, but I absolutely adore Chinese, Thai, and other Asian food. Once I went into a restaurant and asked them not to add MSG to the food, which they didn't, but neglected to mention that oyster sauce is full of MSG and served me the dish anyways. I almost ended up in the hospital. Lately, a couple of Chinatown restaurants I've been to have informed me that all the meat is pre-cooked with MSG so my menu was limited to veggie and tofu dishes. I want to be able to eat Asian food again without interrogating waitstaff and/or missing out on the really tasty stuff.
Does anyone know of restaurants that explicitly do not have MSG in any of their food? I would be extremely appreciative...


Actually, I just had an awful experience at the Terroni's on Queen St W. The service was slow and reeked of attitude, and small requests like an extra glass or side plate went unheeded for about 20 minutes. Most of us ordered pasta dishes, and when the waitress finally arrived to offer us parmesan cheese on the pasta, she announced that she could give it to any of us except the person who had ordered seafood pasta, because it doesn't go with seafood. The person looked at the waitress incredulously and said, "well, what if I want some anyways?" To which the waitress replied: "It doesn't matter, I can't give it to you." and stalked off. Needless to say, we were a bit flabbergasted - we are the ones paying for lunch!! Apparently the owner gets angry if the dish gets spoiled by parmesan cheese if it isn't meant to have it.
I have never been in a restaurant with such horrid customer service.

Watercress Soup

I have a friend who makes the best watercress soup I ever tasted. It takes him hours to produce. I had a comparable one (hard to do, since he is an excellent cook) at a little out of the way place called Bistro 134 which was lovely, but since then I have never seen it on a menu. I need my winter greens ;-) Any suggestions?

Tiramisu for the gods...

Who does it justice? So far, my favourite is from a little Italian bistro on Davenport Rd. called Salto. A huge square taking up most of a dinner plate, it had absolutely divine mascarpone and just the right amount of espresso.

Globe Bistro - quick update review

Thanks westwardho...I suppose the creative geniuses do need to be handsomely rewarded for their efforts somehow ;-)

Globe Bistro - quick update review

Colborne Lane keeps coming up on here. Where is it located?

Toronto's Tastiest Calamari?

Wonderful. I'll add Grano to the list.

Globe Bistro - quick update review

I was there not too long ago and was impressed, but one does tend to have to like experimental dishes. What struck me was the originality of the food combinations. Made me very curious about so-called "Nouvelle Cuisine". Can anyone suggest a similarly creative resto?

Toronto's Tastiest Calamari?

Thanks everyone for your input. I am going to have a calamari week and try a different place each night, and then report on my findings!

Toronto's Tastiest Calamari?

I am addicted to calamari, the lightly battered and crunchy kind that is not overly fishy, chewy, or oily. Seems not to be consistent, though...some places are good once and then horrible the next.
Any ideas? Preferably downtown T.O.?