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Salisbury Steak

Ah yes, Salisbury steak, the only dish my public school cafeteria could do right. Nowadays, most joints that have it on the menu are diners (aside from the spots listed above, I suppose). Trouble is, most places muddy the recipe, confusing it with meat loaf and/or chopped steak, so that you eventually can't tell much difference between such similar dishes. The best I can come up with is the chopped sirloin at Steeles Deli, a diner of sorts near Yonge St. and Steeles Ave. West. Tasty enough, and comes with the requisite gravy - which is essential for Salisbury steak - but still, isn't quite a Salisbury. So I'd also be interested in some spot around town that does it correctly. I'd be there in an instant.

Jerusalem on Eglinton West

Combine the salad and the rice? I must try that next time my aged relative drags me to Jerusalem. Perhaps it'll improve both dishes, because alone they're kinda bland.

Agreed, though, the sautéed tomatoes are pretty good. But I don't share your reverence for the kafta. Its spicing is too timid for my taste. That's my quibble with most of Jerusalem's offerings - not enough zing!

Sep 11, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Jerusalem on Eglinton West

Jerusalem, in my view, isn't what it once was. I've been going, off and on, since it opened decades ago, and though it's still acceptable enough, it has been surpassed by Mashu Mashu, a 10-minute drive east, and Tabule, a 20-minute drive further east, as well as about a half dozen more imaginative Middle Eastern spots in north Toronto and Thornhill. But Jerusalem endures - it's well-run, the prices are right, and it remains popular with the locals. An aged relative lives just a few blocks away, and she insists - INSISTS! - on a regular Jerusalem fix. So I've found myself there a half dozen times in the past year. A dreary house salad. French fries not up to much. Starters - where a Middle Eastern joint should shine - mostly kinda lame. The kabobs are okay, but kabobs are easy. I don't think the menu has changed in years, if not decades. Competitors offer much more interesting menu choices. But why should Jerusalem change? It doesn't have to - It's busy most every night.

The dinner for two, with a little of this, a little of that (it's about $40, I think) - no, I've never had it.

Sep 11, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

The Old Toronto Restaurants you make the wishes for the comeback

Memory grows furtive with the years, alas, but I lived briefly in that neighbourhood in 1960, and seem to recall Findlay's Dairy being situated almost on the southwest corner of Lyon Ave. -now called Marlee Ave. - and Hopewell Ave., which is just south of Roselawn Ave. Findlay's, which I could see from my apartment balcony, was one of the better ice cream parlours in town at the time.

Sep 11, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The Old Toronto Restaurants you make the wishes for the comeback

Wow! I'd forgotten all about Hall's Dairy till you mentioned it. Sweet memories. It was my young son's (and my) favourite after-dinner dessert joint, happily situated just a short drive away. Wonderful milkshakes, as you've noted. And infinitely better ice cream cones than you could get anywhere else in the city at that time. Not just vanilla, chocolate and strawberry either, which is all that any other ice cream parlour offered. The charming couple who owned it eventually retired to outside Toronto, if I recall. They said it was getting to be too much work, and wanted more time to paint - he did the landscapes which decorated the walls of the dairy bar - and enjoy themselves in their latter years.

Sep 10, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

BERO has closed

I went to this guy's joint once, and thought it was pretty damn good. I'd have gone more often, but it was too much of a schlep - I try to keep my dinner forays to no more than 20 minutes of driving. Whether he's got a big ego, or no ego, or whatever ego, I care not. The guy can cook, and that's what important with me. He can be whatever jerk he wants to be (if, indeed, he is a jerk). It's what's on the plate that counts, nothing else.

Ribs that don't fall off the bone

The Universal Grill's ribs are fall-off-the-bone nowadays? I never noticed. But then, I haven't been there in a few months. I always liked to think it was my still-functioning teeth that were separating the meat from the bone. No matter. Fall-off-the-bone or not-fall-off-the-bone, they're damn good ribs. Tasty, and satisfying. I've been going there, off and on, since the joint opened. I'd go even more often if I could find a place to park within striking distance of the restaurant - say, within at least two blocks. Like estufarian above, I'm also partial to Stack's ribs. The much-beloved Steeles Deli does decent ribs as well - the owner insists he doesn't boil them in advance, thereby hastening the process and tampering with the texture. There may be better ribs than Universal Grill, Stack and Steeles Deli out there somewhere, but I haven't found them. And with those three in my portfolio, I've no intention of chasing all over town to discover what I may or - more likely - may not be missing. There are a lot of disappointing rib joints around town, both fall-off-the-bone and not-fall-off-the-bone.

Aug 18, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

AYCE Salad Bars

I haven't seen a stand-alone salad bar in Toronto in years, if not decades. The classic salad bar that I recall was usually part of the menu of a mid-level steak house, in which the price of the main course allowed you to attack the salad bar as often as you wanted. Sometimes, it was a soup-and-salad bar. The closest you can get to it now, I suspect, is a flat-price Chinese buffet, like Dragon Pearl, on York Mills Rd. east of Leslie St., which has a respectable salad bar station, along with the usual stations for soups, roast beef, Chinese-style entrees and other Asian specialties. Its salad bar is, in my view, slightly more interesting than that of the Mandarin group of buffet restaurants. I'd also be intrigued to learn if there's a classic salad bar still operating around town.

Aug 18, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Bread Lovers Rejoice ! (and get your car keys).

While in Cobourg yesterday, I couldn't resist checking out MillStone's Bread's much-praised - by OP PoppiYYZ, who seems to know his/her bread - Vollkorn loaf ($8 a loaf, but you can get a half loaf for $4.25), and sampled it at breakfast this morning. It is indeed a tasty, distinctive loaf, and, as noted, dense and mighty, mighty rich. Almost cake-like. Not something I'd use as sandwich bread - it'd overwhelm almost any filling you could put in it - but quite okay on its own, lightly buttered. Immensely satisfying, though I don't think, after two slices, I'll feel like having lunch today, and maybe not even dinner. So it's one slice at a time from here on in. It toasts nicely. The staff advise you that it'll keep up to three weeks in the fridge. I'll get about 10 slices from the half-loaf I bought, which makes for more than 40 cents a slice, in my view an acceptable price to pay if you like an unusual bread every now and then.

The bakery is an attractive little spot, with, understandably, a wonderful smell. I had to control myself to not scoop up one or two other loaves - on sight and smell, the baguette and the French loaf were especially appealing - because I correctly assessed that the Vollkorn by itself would keep me supplied for at least a week. A good find. Too bad I only get to Cobourg about once a year. And an 80-90-minute drive from Toronto is kinda far to go for bread.

Aug 14, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Help

It seems to me that the OP is zeroing in on the strip of restos along Yonge St. between the Lawrence and York Mills subway stations. In which case, the Miller Tavern is ideally located, with a free attached parking lot and a short walk from the York Mills station. There's a table in the comfortable upstairs dining room that accommodates groups from eight to 12 or so. But I don't think you can do it at $20 a person. More like it would be $25-$30.

Stack is a lively, well-run spot, a short walk from the Lawrence stop on the subway. Parking on the streets off Yonge. All-day menu of soup, salads, and sandwiches in the $10-$12 range. tastily done. The area at the back of the resto should be able to handle your group. Could get noisy, though. Still, a fun place.

The layout of the Abbot makes it problematic that it could accommodate your group. Six maybe, but not 15. Good food, though. I've never been to the suggested ViPei Bistro, almost across the street from the Abbot, but the brunch menu is well within your price range. It's a smallish place, however, and with a group of 15 you'd essentially be taking over the place.

I've also never been to Bistrot92, much beloved by our esteemed Vinnie Vidimangi, but travelling west along Eglinton from Bathurst St., either by car or TTC, is like negotiating your way through a battle zone nowadays. Still, I'd be intrigued to learn if the chef - as Vinnie suggests - could pull off a tailored-to-measure lunch/brunch for a group of six to 15. At $20 a pop. It might be an adventure.

If I could suggest a joint off the Yonge St. strip in question, it'd be Via Cibo, a light-Italian (meaning, nothing too complicated) spot in a plaza at York Mills Rd. and Leslie St. Easy parking almost at the door, and a 10-15-minute bus ride east along York Mills from the York Mills station. It's a well-run, offbeat place with a tasty all-day menu, part cafeteria, part stylish dining room. You order up front - salads, sandwiches, sides, pastas, personal pizzas, all well-executed and made mostly from scratch - pay your bill, then take a seat in the attractive dining room. Your food gets brought to you within about five minutes. Easily within your price range. First-rate service by a charming staff. There's a well-designed communal dining counter in the middle of the room that can comfortably handle your group. Or you could occupy several tables at the back of the room.

Aug 14, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Momofuku restaurants at ShangriLa - why no prices on on line menus?

Yes, this is indeed a first-world problem. That's what this site is all about: first-world problems like where to eat, what to eat, how much to pay to eat - and what information a restaurant website should include. There are undoubtedly more significant issues in the great wide world out there. You can find them on sites that deal with third-world problems. Go to them if you wish. But here, we specialize in first-world culinary problems, and I kinda like it that way.

Momofuku restaurants at ShangriLa - why no prices on on line menus?

You're right. Beer and liquor prices are no longer listed on the Miller's Tavern's north Toronto website, as they used to be. I must admit It has been awhile since I peeked at the website because, as an every-now-and-then customer, there was no need for me to do so - I almost know the menu, wine, beer and alcohol list by heart. But despite what pourboi suggests, ALL wine prices are listed, including those sold only by the bottle (except for those rare wines on the so-called cellar list). Simply click on Wine List to discover the details.

The point is: the Miller Tavern has a first-rate informational website. Would that more restos had the same. I too would like a resto to primarily spend its creative energies on its food, but it doesn't take THAT much more energy to keep the website current and detailed. (There's an Italian resto south on Yonge St. from the Miller, that has a menu and wine price list that's more than two years old, and bears only a vague resemblance to today's actual menu in the restaurant. First-time customers are in for a rude shock.)

As-complete-as-possible disclosure is always appreciated - it can even help bring in new customers.

Aug 05, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Momofuku restaurants at ShangriLa - why no prices on on line menus?

One of the more annoying quirks of online menus: many restos are reluctant to divulge their prices. Or, if they list menu prices, they don't reveal their wine, beer and alcohol prices. I suppose there's some sort of market psychology behind that, and I'd be intrigued to learn what it might be. Surely, if prices change, it's not all that hard to change the prices on the website. If I'm considering a resto for a first visit, I'll often want to know the price structure. And if I don't find it on the website, I'll probably go elsewhere.

Note: an example of a solid resto website: Miller Tavern, an acceptable-enough resto near where I live in York Mills. All prices for both food and alcohol are meticulously listed, and promptly changed when necessary. There are many others. Just as there are many, many sloppy websites with prices, and menu offerings, months - even years - out of date. I feel obliged to avoid such joints. If they can't get the little details of their website straight, I start to wonder about their ability to properly run a resto.

Aug 05, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

LCBO Vintages Aug 2 release notes of the "best" wines under $25

A useful and helpful list for those of us swamped by about 100 new Vintages listings every two weeks. It would be even more helpful if you noted the country of origin each and every time. Some are obvious, but many others aren't. This extra info would save me chasing all over the large Vintages section of my local LCBO in search of a wine that could be from Chile, but maybe Argentina, or possibly Spain - or even Portugal. Still, thanks for the concise format that zeros in on the more affordable bottles.

Aug 01, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Help me find great Filet Mignon at St. Lawrence Market

I've never patronized pourboi's suggestion - I think it's called Witteveen Meats, though it might be Carnicero's - but both displays are certainly attractive. But I know La Boucherie, and it's first-rate. Let me add Whitehouse Meats, where I usually buy, to your list of possibles. You're looking at a big bill for a prime cut of meat, so it'd be prudent of you to check out each place and get a competitive quote from all three. I suspect there's not much difference in quality, so you should be able to dicker on price.

Jul 30, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

One local's guide to Niagara-on-the-Lake and surrounding area (long!)

Thanks for this, Jo. It has saved me one helluva lot of wild chasing around, uneven research, uneducated guesses and other inevitable outsider faux pas when next I venture into Niagara. Though I knew some of your choices from your previous posts, this puts it all nicely and concisely together. (Alas, if only you were still around to tip me off on where to go and what to eat in your previous bailiwick in and around North Toronto.)

Anyone been to Dragon Pearl Buffet recently? Or better quality Chinese buffet recommendation?

As it's not far from where I live, I get to Dragon Buffet, on York Mills Rd. just east of Leslie St. (most recently this week), when I'm not sure what I want to eat, or not particularly particular, or with several others who aren't sure what they want to eat. In short, it's ideal for a group like yours. It's a large, well-run spot - can't compare it to Dragon Legend, where I've never been - with good service and a wide range of acceptable fare (for a buffet). Perpetually busy with a mainly Chinese clientele - groups, families and such - who seem to be enjoying themselves. It takes a few visits before you get the hang of what's good and what's neither here nor there. I like the hand-pulled noodle soup, the salad bar and some of the Chinese hot table dishes, especially the chicken wings, the green beans and a couple of other veggie dishes in that section. The sushi bar isn't up to much, but is at least edible. I don't care for the duck, BBQ ribs or the dim sum at all, but others seem to like it. The roast beef station does a decent roast beef and a few of its side dishes are okay as well. Pastries are mostly tasteless, but the fruits - watermelon, pineapple, melons and such - are an all-right way to finish anyway. Well-trained staff remove used dishes from tables almost immediately, and keep the water glasses filled. It's 20% off for seniors over 65 (similar to other Chinese buffets in town). Tuesdays offer substantially lower prices for everyone, at least till the end of July. Prices higher on weekends. over-the-top decor will have you chuckling. Heavy chairs may make it tough for older diners to push back when they're ready to tackle the buffet for another round. I've seen a few who've needed help from younger relatives.

Jul 01, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Good restaurants open on Sunday around Bayview and Finch?

Another vote for Sun Star, a good mid-level spot with a devoted local clientele, which can get busy on Sunday nights. Best to go early (about 6 p.m.) or later (after 8 p.m.) on Sundays, though waits during prime time are usually not terribly long. I'm partial to the Taiwanese style spicy mixed ($6.50). if you're not sure what to order from the vast menu, ask the regulars at the next table. They'll be happy to advise.

Jun 22, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Fresh Tuna $3.99/lb

I wouldn't mind getting to the bottom of what constitutes "fresh" in the fish business. Diana's, the fish and seafood purveyor, makes quite clear which of its products are "previously frozen" and which are "fresh", which to me means it has never been "previously frozen". Perhaps there's a middle ground, in which fish being shipped long distances are packed "on ice" - therefore technically still fresh upon arrival - rather than "in ice", which would qualify it as frozen. Can any fish/seafood scholar enlighten us?

In any event, $3.99 a pound for tuna, no matter what species, fresh or previously frozen, is worth taking a shot at - at least once.

Jun 22, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Fresh Tuna $3.99/lb

Tuna loin at Diana's, on Lawrence Ave. East - in my view, the best fish market in town - goes for $15 a pound (a.k.a. $14.99) and barbecues quite nicely. And it is, presumably, fresh, never frozen. (Diana's so-called sushi-grade fresh tuna, which is a distinct step up in quality, is $20 a pound.) I've tried previously-frozen tuna loin at several Chinese fish markets attached to ethnic supermarkets, usually at $10 or so a pound, and find it not as tasty as the fresh, with a muted, lesser mouthfeel - though certainly acceptable at the price. If the tuna loin at Sunny Foodmart is indeed fresh, not previously frozen, it's a mad buy at $3.99. Even if it's previously frozen - more likely, I'd suggest - it's still a pretty good buy.

Jun 21, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

When can we expect fresh strawberries in Toronto

Pretty good Niagara-grown strawberries have been available the past two weeks at the newish farmers' market just off Avenue Rd. at Roe Ave., between Wilson Ave. and Lawrence Ave. West. The market runs on Thursdays between 3 and 7 p.m. "Picked that morning!", the vendor insists. It's $6 for a small basket. Not at their peak yet, but flavourful, and good for this time of year. Infinitely better than the U.S.-grown strawberries I've been getting recently at nearby supermarkets (though infinitely more expensive, naturally).

Jun 16, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

New Farmers' Markets Around the GTA

There've been a number of new, once-a-week, smallish farmers' markets popping up lately around Toronto and environs, in offbeat spaces you didn't think it was possible for such enterprises to exist. But exist they do, featuring presumably local food and artisan products. I'd be intrigued to find out which ones are worth seeking out, and which vendors there are worth paying attention to. The nearest startup to me: on Avenue Road at Roe Avenue, between Wilson Ave. and Lawrence Ave. West. Thursdays between 3 and 7 p.m. Started June 5, goes till Oct. 30. About a dozen vendors, of which the best one - for me, anyway - is the fruit vendor from Niagara. Good strawberries at $6 - better, given past lousy weather, than we have a right to expect at this time of year. Also the Harvest Goodies booth for salsas, especially the hot green salsa at $6. There's a sausage maker I haven't tried yet, and a baker of sourdough breads that I'll get around to eventually. Most everything seems to be about $1 or so more than competing items at brick-and-mortar shops, but I suppose that's standard procedure at these local showcases. People gotta make a living. Small attached parking lot, usually packed, but beware of of the gestapo prowling the neighbourhood, dealing out parking tickets to those who rashly venture to park on adjoining side streets with complex, myriad parking no-nos. There's one nearby residential block where you can't even stop without risking a $60 ticket! Kinda takes the fun out of the festivities.

I'd be interested to learn of the best (and maybe the worst) of other small local farmers' markets around town.

Jun 13, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

L'Avenue Bistro, Leaside - Any one been recently? How good is the food?!

GRobin has assessed L'Avenue accurately. A narrow menu, but what it does, it does well. One of the better French bistros around town. But I've found it's not at its best on summer Saturday nights, when it's packed solid, both inside and on the patio, and both the service and the kitchen suffer, making for erratic delivery of dishes, overcooked fish, that sort of stuff. But I suppose that goes for any popular joint on Saturdays. Haven't tried the Spanish seafood soup.

Jun 13, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Best whole wheat sour dough or whole grain raisin/other dried fruit bread?

Forno Cultura, an Italian bakery on King St. West near Portland, makes a sourdough and whole wheat seed bread called Filone Integrale ($5) that's mighty tasty. Among the most flavourful loaves I've ingested in a long time.

Chowfind: Suliko –Georgian- Steeles Ave W and Dufferin

I regret to learn that Suliko's $3 carrot cake dessert, which was, in my view, the maddest buy in resto desserts throughout the GTA, has been bumped up in price to $4.55. That'll teach us to praise, praise again, then praise once more this enjoyable nosh. Management could clearly not resist a 50% price increase.

Jun 07, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Need North York recommendation for a 50th wedding anniversary dinner

Quince, mentioned above, is a good choice. I'd have mentioned it, but the OP indicated a preference for Italian, and Quince is more French bistro-ish. Limited menu. (Free corkage on Mon. and Tues.) Zucca, also suggested, is indeed better than Paese, as it should be - it's substantially more expensive. Imaginative menu, quality execution. But you can run up a pretty big bill there, and the OP suggests his/her crowd is price-sensitive. Suliko, off Steeles Ave. west of Dufferin, is an inspired choice, and certainly the best value buy so far on this thread, but Georgian nosh might be construed as too extreme for a group unfamiliar with the cuisine, and more comfortable with solid mid-level Italian. Good place, though, and easy parking. (I didn't know you could bring your own wine for free - there's nothing about it on its website. Thanks for the tip, Vinnie). Coppi? Haven't been in a while. After its last makeover, with all those hard surfaces, it's quite noisy. With prices trending upwards. Wildfire is essentially a good steakhouse, but not for the price-sensitive.

Jun 02, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Need North York recommendation for a 50th wedding anniversary dinner

If they blanched at the price of Scaramouche, they'll certainly do so at the well-regarded Auberge du Pommier, recommended above - even though your inlaws presumably won't be paying the bill that night. I guess they're price-sensitive no matter who's paying. So let me suggest Paese, an Italian joint on Bathurst St., just north of Wilson Ave. I've been going there for years, and have never been disappointed. Stylish, relaxing atmosphere. Good service from old pros. Just a tad above mid-level pricing - you can check out the menu prices online. Popular with a fussy older crowd that lives nearby. No corkage on bring-your-own-wine every night but Saturday. It's not great, but it's pretty good (certainly better than Paesano's) and, more to the point, consistent. The menu straddles the line between traditional and more modern Italian dishes, so there's something for everyone. Paese has its own parking lot and, if that's filled, there's easy parking on the residential streets off Bathurst.

Don't know Kwan, Origin and, like Otonabee, haven't been to Grano - after a couple of dud dinners - in years. Right around the time I discovered Paese.

Jun 01, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Bread Lovers Rejoice ! (and get your car keys).

Thanks for the correct translation. I learned something today. It's the "korn" part of the word "Vollkorn" that had me simplistically guessing it was a corn bread. My friend from Cobourg should be delivering a loaf of it to me on Tuesday, and we'll see how it matches up in taste against the wonderful filone integrale at Forno Cultura.

May 16, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Bread Lovers Rejoice ! (and get your car keys).

To me, it means there is only one Forno Cultura bakery. There are no others. No branches. Nor is it a part of a chain, or a franchise operation. Most everything on its premises is made in house.

May 16, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Bread Lovers Rejoice ! (and get your car keys).

The tastiest loaf I've sampled in a long, long time is the filone integrale (sourdough and whole wheat seed bread), $5 from Forno Cultura, a smallish one-off Italian bakery on King St. West, just east of Spadina. I was tipped to it by an article in the Globe and Mail some months ago. But I'd be intrigued to taste the Vollkorn recommended by the OP (I'm guessing it's a corn bread loaf). Any loaf that presumably sustains taste the second and third day must be thoroughly investigated. Happily, a friend in Cobourg - who doesn't eat bread - has promised to bring me a loaf of it the next time she ventures into Toronto.

May 14, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1