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Group dinner along the 401 from Bayview to Markham Road

Origin would be way, way out of the less-than-$20 price range. The appetizers may be less than $20, but certainly not the mains. However, Windfields, on York Mills Rd. just east of Leslie, which you've mentioned, seems to be just what you're looking for. It's essentially a diner, with a menu that goes on and on forever. I don't think there's anything on the entire menu that's more than $20. The nosh is quite acceptable, if not outstanding. Substantial portions, decent service, a huge dining room that can easily accommodate groups. And lotsa parking in its plaza. The Greek specialties are pretty good.

about 17 hours ago
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The Dr. Laffa story. What clowns!

I've had quite satisfying laffas at Me Va Me at Bathurst and Rutherford Rd. (one of several Me Va Me outlets). It seems to be a well-run small chain - at least, it hasn't gone bankrupt (yet); and at a smallish joint on north Dufferin St., called Mr. Laffa, in effect a copycat of the original Dr. Laffa. Ba-Li Laffa, on Bathurst St. north of Steeles, is okay, but nothing special - mind, I've only been there twice, so maybe it has upped its game in the past year or so. But none does it better than Dr. Laffa did it in its early days, when it cared about such things. When I first tasted its laffa, so superior was its taste and texture that I wondered if I'd ever bother with pita for a sandwich again.

The Dr. Laffa story. What clowns!

It's regrettable. Dr. Laffa started about four years ago on a loading dock in a light industrial area near Steeles and Dufferin. The space was minimal. The menu was short, modestly priced, refreshingly different - for Toronto - and well executed. It quickly became wildly popular with transplanted locals nostalgic for a reasonably authentic Israeli resto. It stumbled only slightly in a move across the street to larger premises. But it seemed clear that these guys were rookies underneath it all. Someone even had to remind them that offering free tap water was the law - they couldn't insist that customers had to buy bottled water if they wanted water at all. It's hard to tell from the Canadian Jewish News story, cited above, which partner was the most incompetent/avaricious/lackadaisical - or if they were just a couple of bumblers who got in over their heads. No matter. They had a good idea, and within four short years they botched it. I can now get a better laffa sandwich at a couple of other laffa joints around town anyway.

Jul 29, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Surprisingly different food at Forget Me Not Vietnamese Restaurant

Haven't been to Hung Long. But I've been to Pho Con Bo, as well as Pho Mi Asia across the street from it. Both are quite good at the price - I'd give a slight edge to Pho Mi Asia, though Pho Con Bo is less of a madhouse - but I think Forget Me Not is superior, if 10-20% more expensive. Most everything seems to be done with more finesse at Forget Me Not. So it's worth it - if you don't mind paying an extra buck or two for most basic dishes.

A place to eat, in the Downsview area for 10-12 people.

You can easily do Suliko for $15-$20 per person, all in, at lunch - if, as suggested, you confine yourselves to the lunch special. But if it's dinner at $15-$20 you're wanting, it'll be more difficult. Mind, it can certainly be done at dinner, if you stick to the soups, salads, starters and appetizers, most of which are substantial - and quite shareable. Just stay away from the mains. (The starter dishes are, in my view, better than most of the mains anyway.) And you can bring your own bottles of wine for a $3 corkage fee per bottle - up from $0 corkage of just a few months ago. It might be worth a shot to call the resto, tell them your budget, and see what they can put together for you.

Jul 18, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Source of cukes for pickling?

It may not be what you'd call a hidden gem, but a relative, who pickles cukes every year in mid-August, has always gotten his at Highland Farms - now called Coppa's after a name change, but still essentially the same store - on north Dufferin St. between Finch and Steeles. It's always wise to phone ahead for these things, though.

Jul 17, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Help Please - Lunch around North York Civic Centre

Without access to a car, you're pretty much pinned to that strip of Yonge St. between Sheppard and Finch. Many of the suggestions above, while certainly worthy, might be too awkward and time-consuming to get to and back during the lunch hour. And it seems as if you've already discovered some of the more acceptable ones within walking distance: Owl of Minerva (Korean), the cafe at Whole Foods, Kinton Ramen. The aforementioned Buk Chang Dong, a branch of the original on Bloor St. West, might be worth the hike. Limited menu, but good value. The suggested Sababa, incidentally, isn't at Yonge and Clark (Clark is several lights north of Steeles), an impossible trek for the car-less. It's on Steeles Ave., in a plaza somewhat west of Yonge, also an impossible trek. (The falafel is indeed quite good, though.) Maybe it'd be wiser to simply pack a lunch most days. Otherwise, you're left with what seems like 264 Korean restos (some much better than others) and the Wendy's in Empress Walk. Most everything else is, as already intimated, adequate, but hardly chow-worthy.

Jul 14, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Salade Nicoise?

Well, I finally got to the doubly-recommended Jacques Bistro du Parc for their Salade Nicoise, and while it's a quite respectable Nicoise ($19), and a most pleasant Yorkville resto happy to lay on the anchovies, I just can't get my head around the substitution of salmon for the traditional tuna. I understand why they've done it - the retail price of tuna is almost triple salmon's - but tuna's mouthfeel is what I'm used to and tuna is what I must have (along with lots of anchovies, of course) in my Nicoise. So the search continues. The also-recommended Bar Centrale's online description looks promising, with tuna, and both anchovies AND anchovy dressing. Maybe DT Bistro. Maybe the Senator. La Societe: sorry, but $29 for a mere starter salad is pushing it. I'd sit still for $25 tops. Most of the other recommended joints, though intriguing, would, for me, require too much of a safari to get there. Any other suggestions will be seriously considered. C'mon, don't be shy.

Jun 30, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Recommendations for clean, healthy, 'upscale' breakfast or brunch in North Toronto or North York?

No responses yet?

Well, just so you won't feel completely ignored, let me suggest the recently-opened - about six months ago - Scratch Kitchen. It's on the east side of Yonge St. at the City Limits (south of York Mills Rd.), a couple doors south of the neighbourhood's Loblaws supermarket. It started out specializing in breakfast, brunch and lunch, and recently added dinner. Opens at 8 a.m., except Mondays, when it's closed. Good quality ingredients, but healthy? I dunno what's healthy any more - the parameters keep changing - only what's tasty. Novel? I dunno what's novel either, given the copycat breakfast menus you see around town. Take a peek at its online menu and decide for yourself. Attractive surroundings, personable staff. Prices consistent with the upscale neighbourhood. Parking can be tough around there, but I simply park in the Loblaws lot and walk over. If I feel guilty about that, maybe I'll even buy something at Loblaws afterwards.

Dr laffa closed?? Looking for Lebanese/middle eastern tonight!!!

Your back is clearly to the wall. So I'll suggest Ba-Li Laffa, in a strip plaza on Bathurst St., a couple blocks north of Steeles - though I don't think it's as good as Dr. Laffa was at its peak. But Dr. Laffa is no longer at its peak, as I've read recently - the owners split and are, so I'm told, at each other's throats - so Ba-Li is a viable alternative. Bi-Li copycatted many of the same items from the Dr. Laffa menu, so you needn't feel adrift. Most items are competently executed, especially the starters and appetizers. I didn't care for the laffa I had there, but perhaps it has improved in the intervening months. Good seating, acceptable service, and, if I recall correctly, it's licensed. A busy spot (at least when I was there). There's a second outpost of Ba-Li Laffa, also on Bathurst St., but south of Wilson (close to Baycrest Hospital), but I've never been at that branch.

Jun 08, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Some love for Paese...

I get to Paese 4-5 times a year - it's only a short drive away from my lodgings - and you've got it pretty well pegged. It's a reliably consistent neighbourhood Italian spot with a pleasant vibe, good service from an easy-going staff - and good food. Mind, it's no match for some of the better, more innovative Italian restos south of Bloor, but at least - for those of us living uptown - it's handy. For sure, it beats most of the competition within a 15-minute drive of Bathurst St. and Wilson Ave. (and there are a lot of Italian restos within that l5-minute drive). As the OP has noted, most dishes seem to be a buck or two more than expected, but I suppose the place has to make up for just about the most generous BYOB policy in Toronto - $0 corkage six nights a week. This, despite its own pretty good wine list. Invariably busy. The locals - me included - like it a lot.

Jun 08, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Good Sushi in Vaughan

I'm not a sushi guy - bewildered as I am by too many mid-level joints around town that seem almost interchangeable - but my son and his friends, who live in Vaughan, are. And they advise me that Aroowha, in a plaza on Rutherford Rd., about halfway between Bathurst and Dufferin (at the southwest corner of Thornhill Woods Drive), is the best they've experienced so far (in Vaughan, mind). Whether they actually know what they're talking about, I knoweth not. But they certainly talk a good sushi game, as do most sushi buffs with strong opinions on the merits of this or that sushi resto.

Jun 05, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Superb Suliko Lunch - Steeles and Alness

Unlike VVM, I've never taken lunch at Suliko, but I sure do like their dinners. The joint was bustling last night, but the attractive, somewhat secluded patio - with a nice view past the parking lot of the Home Depot across the street - was relatively quiet. You won't be wowed by the nosh, but you'll leave eminently satisfied - and not much lighter in the pocket. With a zero-corkage BYO bottle of wine, dinner for two can easily be done for about $50-$55, all in. Some items - like the soups, salads and appetizers - are, in my view, tastier than others. Forget Suliko's version of the laffa, though. I've yet to try the khinkali, which seemed to be a popular item last night at other tables. Standouts: harcho soup, kavkaz salad, lamb stew. Substantial portions, easily shareable. Much smoother service than the last time I was there. Jolly atmosphere. Kinda hard to find if you don't know the neighbourhood. Just off Steeles Ave., three stoplights west of Dufferin. Turn north off Steeles, then a quick right in to Suliko's own parking lot.

Jun 03, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Le Paradis

Le Paradis endures because it's consistent. It delivers the goods most every time at its modest price points. There may be better French bistros around town, but they're all much pricier - and none offer better value than good old Le Paradis. I've been going, off and on, for decades, and it rarely disappoints. It satisfies. At dinner's end, I walk out of Le Paradis, content, refreshed and exhilarated, assured that all's right with the world.

Salade Nicoise?

I'm familiar with United Bakers' version of the Nicoise. It is indeed nice, simple and comforting, as described. And attractively priced (for a simple Nicoise). But no anchovies, even if you ask politely. Which tends to take the zingy fun out of the Nicoise. So I order the rather bland Nicoise at United Bakers only if my back is to the wall. As for the bagel that comes with it, to me that's not a bagel. It's white bread - masquerading as a bagel. Soft, mushy, the lamest bagel on Bathurst Street.

The butter packets are acceptable enough, I suppose.

Salade Nicoise?

I'm with prima on this. I suppose a classic Salade Nicoise is an easy dish at first glance, but chasing around to get all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and the actual salad is, to me, a production I'd ordinarily rather not spend time on. Best to leave this dish to the economies of scale that the professional has. The pros can do it for, say, $20 on the menu, which is less than I'd spend shopping for the ingredients. And I'd have no cleaning up to do, or leftover ingredients to grow stale in the fridge while they await the next time I yearn for a Salade Nicoise. To me, Salade Nicoise is a good excuse to eat out.

Great lunch today

VVM has it right. I tried the Polish sausage at the Wilson and Dufferin Costco outlet yesterday. It was quite lame. Served luke-warm. No discernible taste. And now, no sauerkraut or onions to kick the sausage up a bit. Just mustard and relish, also with no discernible taste. And with all Pepsi drinks now at the soda fountain, my favourite mass-market root beer, Barq's ( a Coke product), which at least has some root beer-ish bite to it, has been replaced by Pepsi's much-too-sweet Mug root beer. The price was certainly right - $1.50 (plus tax) for the sausage and unlimited soft drink refills - but, essentially, as VVW has pointed out, even at that price it wasn't worth the calories.

May 27, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Salade Nicoise?

That's it? Just four nominations for a decent Salade Nicoise to be had around town? What's the world coming to? The golden age in Salade Nicoise in Toronto is clearly in decline. I suspect the main culprit is the price of tuna.

But, gamer that I am, I'll work with what I've been given. The most get-to-able for me is Jacques Bistro du Parc, where I haven't been in years, but to which I'll venture once again - though I lean more to the traditional tuna than Jacques' substitution of salmon. Still, Jacques guarantees anchovies, which seals the deal. Thanks to the twin great minds, prima and millygirl.

The other nominations are just as worthy, I'm sure, but The Sparrow may just as well be in another country, given where I'm in residence. And Joy Bistro's timid list of ingredients doesn't include anchovies, which for me makes it a no-go zone. While the gutsily admirable Le Paradis will doubtless have anchovies when it does a Nicoise, but it doesn't always have a Nicoise on the menu. A fickle joint is Le Paradis.

Other nominations will be gratefully accepted. But it's doubtful if Jacques can be topped.

May 25, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Salade Nicoise?

Just when I get a hankering for Salade Nicoise, one of my favourite warm-weather restaurant dishes, I've discovered that it's no longer on the menus of where I've happily partaken of it in the past: Diana's, which - as I learned while there last week - has replaced the Nicoise with some lame pretender only distantly related to the almighty Nicoise; and Coquine, where I haven't been in a while, but whose website doesn't list its at-one-time reliable Nicoise in any way, shape or form. My plea: where can a gentleman, now bereft, get his injection of Salade Nicoise around town? (Heavy on the anchovies, please.)

May 24, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The Old Toronto Restaurants you make the wishes for the comeback

Ah, yes. Dai Nam, on the northeast corner of Spadina and Sullivan. My first experience with Vietnamese nosh. Everything on the menu was wonderfully flavourful. It was a regular lunchtime stop for my work colleagues and I. If I recall, the couple that ran it later moved their act to the far east end of Toronto. But, as often happens, the magic (and the remarkable prices) of that original location was lost.

May 21, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Ready made (fresh or frozen) burgers?

Michael N is absolutely correct. Even an incompetent in the kitchen like myself can easily make his own burgers from ground meat (I get mine at Nortown Meats at York Mills and Bayview). Add a little salt and pepper, as he says, then shape it into patties with your own little hands. Throw them on the grill, and you're in business. Better - and cheaper - than any pre-made patties. I've never understood why anyone would buy those pre-made things anyway.

May 18, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

How To Chose A Restaurant In Toronto (Or Anywhere Else)

A most entertaining list on how to defend yourself against lousy, overpriced restos in Toronto (or anywhere else). I most agree with your No. 1 - beware of restos with websites that don't list prices, and that includes wine, beer and cocktail prices. Also strongly agree with your No. 2. To me, a no-reservations policy means a resto is mainly interested in neighbourhood trade. So I won't be driving out their way so fast. Though I kinda disagree with your No.13. To me, Joanne Kates is an old pro who knows her stuff. She has tipped me off to some good joints over the years (and, because no one bats .1000 in this game, she's steered me to occasional duds). Besides, you don't have to agree with her picks to enjoy what she has to say. Overall, though, yours is a useful battle plan for eating out in this town.

May 10, 2015
juno in General Topics
1

Moe Pancers Deli is GONE

As mentioned above, Pancer's Emporium, on north Dufferin just south of Major Mac, has the Pancer name - but no longer has an actual Pancer connected to it. It's a Pancer's in name only. No matter. It's pretty good, if not exactly Schwartz's-of-Montreal quality. The newly-opened Pancer's, on Bathurst St. just north of Wilson Ave., which had pooped out under non-Pancer ownership, is now back in action with a gaggle of Pancers - led by Lorne, grandson of Moe and son of Stan - overseeing the operation. Service was kinda shaky/chaotic there the first week or two in April, but things seem to have settled down. It's now a solid, satisfying deli - though, once again, not Schwartz's quality (or atmosphere). Still, for those in the neighbourhood hungering for a decent pastrami sandwich, it'll do. Anyone living in mid-north Toronto no longer has to shlep uptown to Centre Street Deli or downtown to Caplansky's. Good soups and deli sandwiches, though the fries could use some work - Pancer's Emporium does them better. But then, the fries were never all that good even in the heyday of Moe Pancer's, when Stan ran the joint. Some things never change. I'd swap the fries for the potato salad instead.

Easy parking both in front and behind the plaza.

May 09, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

" Concession Road " now open! - Any one tried it yet?!

I liked this place from the get-go, if only because, for the first time in decades, I was able to park on the street - in this case, busy St. Clair Ave. West - DIRECTLY in front of the restaurant I wanted to get in to. Just steps to the front door: heaven. It helped that the nosh was pretty good, too. Like Charles Yu and Wino in Training, I also missed having a bread basket to sop up the assorted sauces. Note: the fiddleheads side dish has now been bulked up with brussels sprouts, which are tasty enough, I suppose, but when the menu says fiddleheads, I want ONLY fiddleheads uninterrupted by some minor-league veggie. Brussels sprouts, which I can get any time, only distracts from the business at hand.

Acceptable wine prices - though I don't think I'll ever come to terms with wine markups in most Toronto restos - and decent selection, including by the 5 oz. glass. Agreeable service. Kinda noisy as the place fills up, but not unbearable. Dinner for two, with wine and/or beer, will run you about $150, all in. If I could be reasonably confident of getting that parking spot again, I'd be back for sure. Otherwise, it's hell out there on St. Clair, looking for a spot to deposit your car.

Apr 30, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Pain Perdu Yonge and Lawrence closed???

Yes, Sebastien peddles baguettes. But they're not particularly distinctive. You can probably do better (and cheaper) at the in-house bakeries of any nearby major supermarket.

Note: intrigued by mention of Danielz Bakery on this thread, I logged on to its website, and noted, with some fascination, that not only is its address not listed, but neither is the city in which it's located. When an outfit can't get such basic details sorted out, it makes me wary of their actual products.

Apr 21, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Pain Perdu Yonge and Lawrence closed???

The Wine Cellar? Perhaps you mean The Burger Cellar, on Yonge St. (several blocks north of the late Pain Perdu), which does indeed have a few attractively-priced bottles, but an unremarkable menu that specializes in something I can easily do myself at home: namely, burgers. Though you're right about Miller Tavern. The $1 corkage on Mondays is nice, but the nosh doesn't seem to have much zip - unless you're game for a steak, which they do well enough. Most dishes there are, in my view, overpriced, which undercuts the appeal of that $1 corkage. What the Miller has going for it is a pleasant setting on the edge of a park, a comfortable dining room, smooth service and its own parking lot (which is often packed, meaning that it must be doing something right that has nothing to do with the food).

Apr 20, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Pain Perdu Yonge and Lawrence closed???

If true - that Pain Perdu is out of action - it's too bad. The nosh was acceptable enough, but I found the wine prices to be highly inflated, even by the murderous wine-price standards of that murderer's-row strip of restos on Yonge St. between Lawrence Ave. and York Mills Rd., where its tough to get a drinkable bottle for under $45 (plus tax).

Perhaps the OP, bemoaning the "first and only authentic quality French bistro at Yonge/Lawrence", is unaware that there were one or two other solid French bistros at the same address on Yonge St., joints that started out strong but eventually, for one reason or another, pooped out. Maybe it's just a bad luck address (for French bistros). No matter. There are several other decent bistros within a respectable driving distance.

Apr 20, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Haymishe Bakery - Signs of life?

I long ago gave up on Haymishe ever returning to the land of the living. I now get my rye (with seeds) at Bagel Plus, in a plaza on the northwest corner of Bathurst and Sheppard ($3.50). How does it compare with Haymishe's version. Actually, I can't remember Haymishe's rye any more. But I find Bagel Plus's rendition eminently satisfying.

Apr 17, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The Old Toronto Restaurants you make the wishes for the comeback

The hotel is still there, but Three Small Rooms - where I first tasted Caesar salad made tableside (wonderful, with lots of garlic and anchovy, unlike most of today's wimpy Caesars) - is long gone.

And Top of Tony's: I remember it well. The last place to throw me out because I wasn't wearing a jacket (at lunch, yet!). If I recall correctly, the menus handed to women discretely didn't have prices listed. Only the men at the table got the menu with prices attached. Don't recall the Sea Tangle Sandwich, though.

Apr 11, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

AYCE Chinese: Any recommendations?

You might like Dragon Pearl, which you've mentioned, on York Mills Rd. east of Leslie St., which I regard as superior - though slightly more expensive - to most of the Mandarin outlets. Though its AYCE buffet has a salad bar (good), sushi station (acceptable, and much, much better than Mandarin), dessert bar (fresh fruits good, some pastries okay) and roast beef station (decent), Dragon Pearl's Chinese offerings are quite edible, with some dishes pretty damn tasty (for steam table offerings). A good range of choices, with many of your Cantonese favourites well represented. You'll think you're back at Sai Woo back in the '80s. Good soups with hand-pulled noodles. I'm partial to the chicken wings, and the ribs (when they're not too fatty). Some spicy dishes. I get there every few months, when I can't decide in advance what I feel like browsing on that night. Comfortable seating, good service. Busy, and wildly popular with the local Asian crowd, which is puzzling - given that there are some good mid-level Chinese restos within a short driving distance. Maybe the locals also can't decide what they feel like nibbling on that night, but want the widest possible choice once they get there and their whims are more focussed. Sometimes, only an AYCE buffet will do it for you.

Apr 07, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)