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Best Dishes 2014

Here's another vote for the smoked crispy duck, mentioned above, at Chuan Yu-Home (a.k.a. Gourmet Paradise). Add to that a dish I feel compelled to order every time out at Sun Star, a mid-level Chinese spot specializing in seafood, on Finch Ave. between Bayview and Leslie. My favourite's not a seafood dish, though. It's the Taiwanese-style spicy mixed, a veggie dish with distinct taste and mouthfeel.

Jan 23, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

$100 for two, all in.

Of those mentioned so far, I've recently done both Tabule and Le Paradis for under $100 a couple, though I've ordered wine instead of cocktails (seems to me the price of a glass of wine is ordinarily just slightly less than a cocktail nowadays). It's especially easy to do Tabule under $100 on Mon. and Tues., when you can bring your own wine for $0 corkage. And I'll add Stack, a solid, noisy, somewhat upscale bbq resto, on Yonge St. north of Lawrence Ave., to the list. I've never popped more than $100 there. But agreed, it's getting harder to find a decent non-ethnic non-burger spot for under $100 a couple. I find most places that used to be under $100 a few years ago are now in the $125-$150 range.

Chowhound's top 10 in GTA- 2015 version

From what I can see as I drive by the soon-to-open York Mills and Upjohn Me Va Me, it'll be mainly a takeout operation - which doesn't much interest me. It probably won't have the stylish flair, atmosphere, alert service, breadth of menu and attractively-priced small wine list of the much larger, well-designed Bathurst and Rutherford location. But we shall see - when it eventually opens. For sure, a five-minute drive would be preferable to the half hour it takes me to get to Bathurst and Rutherford Rd.

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

Chowhound's top 10 in GTA- 2015 version

I don't know which were the best restos in Toronto last year. I only know the ones I went to most often because I found them most satisfying, most value-oriented - and because they weren't too tortuous to drive to from my little hutch in York Mills. Which leaves out most of those probably-good but mainly-downtown joints mentioned above, I suppose.
1. Scaramouche Pasta Bar
2. L'Avenue
3. Trio (Italian)
4. Me Va Me (Bathurst and Rutherford Rd.)
5. Diana's
6. Yang's (on north Bayview Ave.)
7. Sun Star (Chinese)
8. Gourmet Paradise (a.k.a. Chuan Yu-Home)
9. Universal Grill
10. Tabule (Yonge St.)

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

' La Croisee ' - Leaside's new French Bistro with cozy, romantic ambiance and delectable Burgundian Food!

I thought this thread was about La Croisee, which I never got around to because I was so satisfied with the nearby L'Avenue. No matter. Allow me to wade in to this entertainingly meandering sidetrack about letting wines breathe or not. At my price level - I rarely go above $20 at the LCBO, else I get a nosebleed - I've found that letting wines breathe doesn't mean a damn. There's no difference. How statistically significant my experience is, I knoweth not. So I just uncork and pour, and everything seems to work out. I also recall reading many studies over the years in which wine buffs have also found that letting most wines breathe - through decanting or any other means - does absolutely nothing at all for the wine. An exception: wines with sediment, which usually means wines way beyond my price level.

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

Looking for the best smoked meat in Toronto

Allow me to step in here in defence of Steeles Deli. I've been going there for years and have noticed little - if any - difference in the quality of the fare since the new owner took over. Keep in mind that, though it calls itself a deli, Steeles Deli is more of a diner - with a Jewish tilt. Deli sandwiches are a small part of its menu. Agreed, other delis - Moe Pancer's, Centre Street Deli, Caplansky's among them - do deli sandwiches better, but Steeles Deli's deli sandwiches are quite acceptable at the price, which is somewhat lower than its competitors. It's in the rest of its menu that Steeles Deli satisfies - liver and onions, soups, assorted salads and appetizers, ribs, flunken, that sort of stuff. Diner fare. And as at many diners, it helps to know what to order. Not every item in its vast menu is a winner.

Jan 02, 2015
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

2014 Restaurants and Food Store OPENINGS - Part II

Actually, Scratch Kitchen IS open on weekend evenings - Thurs. to Sun., according to the chef-owner, Michael Tucker. Though the menu in the evenings isn't up to much - just choices and variations upon the breakfast and lunch menus. In short, light stuff. The most substantial menu item might be a steak sandwich. Okay if you're just looking for a nibble - a sandwich, a cheese plate, some oysters, that kind of stuff.

Dec 12, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The Costco Thread - Ontario - 2014 - October to December

The above-mentioned Lacey's chocolate-macadamia cookies are quite acceptable, but I much prefer another Lacey's cookie product, namely its chocolate-ALMOND cookie. It's the best cookie I've ever ingested. My local Costco near Wilson and Dufferin used to carry the chocolate-almond version around Christmas till a couple of Christmases ago, when it abruptly switched to the chocolate-macademia - Costco has a habit of doing this to products I've become attached to. So boo-hoo!, no Lacey's chocolate-almond cookies for me again this season - unless someone can tip me off as to whether another Costco outlet around Toronto may be carrying them. Any sightings? I would be much obliged.

Dec 08, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

The Costco Thread - Ontario - 2014 - October to December

I saw it today (Friday) at the Wilson Ave. and Dufferin St. Costco outlet (on Billy Bishop Way) at $6.99. It's ordinarily $9.99, but goes on sale quite frequently. It's regularly carried in the same refrigerated section as the yogurts.

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

Restaurant recommendations in Toronto---Chinatown

By "Chinatown", I assume you're referring to the strip of Chinese restos on and around Dundas and Spadina, within striking distance of where you're staying near the University of Toronto. But other Chinatowns have sprung up since your student days here, and the best of them can be found in the far, far northeast reaches - difficult to get to without a car, and lots of time, and patience with never-ending road construction. That's where you'll find the must-visit joints you're looking for. Practically, however, the above-mentioned Rol San and New Sky are probably your best values, lively and popular with students, though often wildly inconsistent. If you'd like to go a cut or two above, you might try Yueh Tung, a good, solid spot, specializing in Hakka-style cuisine - though it touches on just about every style of Chinese nosh as well. It has been around so long that it was doubtless around when you were a student in Toronto, and it's still justly popular. Downtown, across the street from its original location, up a flight of stairs, on Elizabeth St. - where Toronto's very first Chinatown existed - a few doors south of Dundas St. Probably not that far from your lodgings this weekend near the U. of T. Good service, which you don't always find at Rol San and New Sky. Cleaner, too.

Nov 27, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

$7.90 for cup of takeout soup!

I suppose there is a logic to buying soup to take out, but it's a logic that eludes me. With some exceptions, soup is supposed to be hot, is it not? So why buy it to take out, when you run the risk of it cooling off considerably before you get it to its destination?

Agreed, though, $7.90 is a stiff jolt, even for Epi Bakery, which knows how to charge, along with the other high-rent joints on that strip of Bayview Ave. south of Eglinton. (That price includes tax, I'm guessing.) For split pea soup, try Tov Li, on Bathurst St. between Lawrence and Wilson, where a tasty, decent-sized bowl will set you back $3.45 (no ham in it, though - Tov Li is strictly kosher). Less than half the price of Epi. I wouldn't drive across town for it, and Tov Li isn't the most charming spot in which to eat it - cafeteria-like, though lively, it's quite utilitarian - but still, pretty good value compared to Epi. But then, Tov Li's not on Bayview Ave.

Nov 20, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Duo Pâtisserie & Café - Markham - Quality Viennoiseries, Macarons, and Cakes North of the 401

I've tried Rahier's pastries at other outlets - including the above-mentioned Pusateri's at Bayview Village - and have found, not surprisingly, that Rahier's pastries taste much, much better when you get them just-baked from the source, the Rahier's shop on Bayview Ave., which opens at 7 a.m. most mornings. It's just a 10-minute drive for me to get them home or, even better, to scarf them down immediately at a table on the premises, along with a first-rate coffee. Mind, if I lived anywhere near Duo Patisserie, I'd be giving it a whirl - the closer the better in the pastry game, especially with croissants - though I'd also be campaigning for an earlier morning opening.

I think I recall Eric, Duo's major domo, from his time at Rahier, and, if it's the same guy, he seemed to know his stuff.

Surprisingly different food at Forget Me Not Vietnamese Restaurant

I was just there for lunch earlier this week, so can tell you that Forget Me Not Cafe is closed Monday, but open every other day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It's the same menu for both lunch and dinner.

Nov 15, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

NY Hound in TO (North York/Yorkdale area) for the weekend Needs some decent recs

I've leave the downtown choices to those who know them better than I. Just be aware that, given the road construction around town nowadays, trying to drive downtown from around Yorkdale Plaza is hell, and can take the fun (and the romance) out of any foray south of, say, St. Clair Ave.

I know the uptown choices, though. And as others have suggested, Auberge du Pommier is the top pick - if you're prepared to sit still for about $250 a couple (with wine). The other suggested uptown choice, Paese, on Bathurst St. just north of Wilson Ave., is one of my favourites. Paese is a first-rate neighbourhood Italian joint, with a number of tasty non-Italian dishes for those who don't feel like eating Italian. A stylishly-designed spot, with good cooking and personable staff. Easy nearby parking, both in its own lot or, if that's full (it often is), on nearby residential streets. A nice added touch: you can bring your own wine for $0 corkage any night but Saturday. Though Paese's own wine list is pretty good as well. (About $75-$100 a couple if you bring your own wine.) Paese is, understandably, locally popular - and usually quite busy. Nice atmosphere. Is it cool? I dunno. I gave up noticing the coolness factor long ago. Paese attracts a mixed age range, some of whom may be cool - I noticed a couple of local musicians at the next table last time I was in there - classical musicians, mind you. As for your romantic aspect, I suppose it's kinda romantic (for North York).

Deli Restaurant in the old Park Plaza.

I recall a ground-floor resto in the Park Plaza called Murray's. But it wasn't what I'd call a deli. It was more along the line of what Fran's used to be. And I recall it being from much earlier than the late '80s. More like the '50s. Entrance from both the hotel and, for non-guests, from Bloor Street.

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

Lots of high profile new restaurant closings, anyone know why?

I'm with justxpete on this. There's not much difference in service standards between Toronto and anywhere else. And service is usually pretty good. I don't think I've experienced bad service in years, if not decades, in Toronto - or anywhere else. No matter at what price level, from modest diner to fancy joint, most every service person I've encountered is at least trying to please. Some may be more experienced at the game than others, but they're all trying to do the job as professionally as they can. And that's good enough for me.

ISO Saturday brunch in North Toronto

Steeles Deli: an inspiring choice. Even though I've never even had brunch there. I've had breakfast, I've had lunch, and mostly I've had dinner over the years at Steeles Deli, which is, in effect, a diner with a Jewish twist. I didn't even know it did brunch, perhaps because I've never done brunch at Steeles Deli - or anywhere else. Brunch isn't my thing. But I looked at Steeles Deli's online menu and, sure enough, there's a listing for a weekend brunch. Where did that come from? No matter. If the quality is the same as for the other meals, you'll do well there - and at a good price. If you're more than a group of four, it might be wise to reserve. The joint is, understandably, popular. Easy parking in the plaza, just west of Yonge St., on the north side of Steeles Ave. West, across from a Canadian Tire store. Good diner-style service.

Oct 20, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)
1

Don Mills......any hope?

Free parking at the Prince for resto patrons? Quelle surprise! Thanks for the tip. But the Prince sure keeps it a secret. There's nothing on the website, and nothing on the lot (mind, it has been a couple of years since I last deigned to park on the premises) to indicate this. I guess you have to be in the know. Still, useful to be aware of this piece of info. Much appreciated should I whimsically decide to take a flyer on the Prince's rattlingly expensive restaurants.

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

Surprisingly different food at Forget Me Not Vietnamese Restaurant

I've probably driven by the forgettably-named Forget Me Not Cafe, in a small, scruffy strip plaza on Wilson Ave. west of Dufferin St., dozens of times without noticing it. But g.m.'s glowing review, above, encouraged me to pull in last night - beware, incidentally, of the deep gullies in the parking lot, into which a car could disappear, never to be found again - and g.m. has the joint pretty well summed up. It's a stylish, clean-lined little place, unlike many of its vaguely down-at-the-heels Vietnamese competition in that part of town, and, most important, it's pretty damn good. Some dishes that I'd never seen on a Vietnamese menu in Toronto. But I went for a classic, the bun bo hue, a rich, flavourful soup (with a pig's foot, or was that a knuckle?), and a couple of starters. All nicely, even artistically presented, and done with a light, refreshing touch, the way Vietnamese cuisine should be. The cooking is, in my view, superior to the nearby, value-priced, insanely-popular Pho Mi Asia, which I also like, but it's also 10-20% more expensive than Pho Mi Asia. Worth it, though. Only a few other tables occupied. The charming, helpful server told me her mother's the chef (it's a family business) and the chef clearly knows her stuff. Aside to VVM, who enquired, above, about MSG: MSG doesn't affect me, so I don't know. But like the better Vietnamese chefs, this one seems to depend more on herbs, spices and fresh vegetables than quick-fix flavour enhancers.

The place is licensed, though you'd never know it - no mention of it on the menu, no query as to what I'd like to drink, and the small bar is hidden behind a corner of the serving station, which I didn't discover till I got up to leave. I'll ask for a beer the next time I'm there, and see what transpires. Note: it's at 883 Wilson Ave., not 803, as g.m. reported. But all is forgiven, g.m., when you've uncovered a winner.

Don Mills......any hope?

The aforementioned Via Cibo is good, but it may not be quite what you have in mind as a good-quality sit-down restaurant. It's an attractive place in a plaza at York Mills Rd. and Leslie St., and it's part cafeteria and part chic dining room. You select what you want from the menu at the cashier's station, pay your bill - and settle in at a table in the stylish dining room to await your choices. Most every dish is made from scratch, and as soon as it's ready they'll bring it to your table. Whatever they do - Italian sandwiches, pizza, pasta, salads (I like the cavolo salad) - they do quite well. The wine list is modest - several mainly-Italian reds and whites - and the price is modest as well. All in all, a good-value resto.

It's not clear - when you say "dinner with wine selection" - whether you're looking for a spot with a deep wine list and just one with a decent range of wines. If the former, then the previously-suggested Auberge du Pommier is your place. But be aware that it's $200-$250 a couple with wine, all in. If the latter, you might try Trio, a good, well-run Italian joint on Yonge St. just north of Lawrence Ave. In my view, it's the best Italian resto of about a half dozen Italian spots on that strip of Yonge between Lawrence and York Mills. Good, medium-sized Italian wine list, some quite expensive. About $125-$150 a couple. On that strip, there's also Wildfire Steak House. Steak houses don't interest me much, but Wildfire is pretty good of its type - judging from the times I've been there - and it has a long, long wine list. A comfortable, well-run spot.

Don't know Linda Modern Thai, or any of the restos in the Westin Prince, probably because I'm annoyed that the Westin charges for parking in its huge open-air lot. Hey, it's York Mills, few Chrissakes, not downtown!

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

Any recommendations for a Korean restaurant in North York?

My favourite near the Korean resto strip around Yonge and Steeles - is Cho Sun OK, which I first learned about on this board six or seven years ago. I've been going ever since. It's in a small strip plaza on the southeast corner of Yonge and Clark, several lights north of Steeles. Always busy with an almost-exclusively Korean clientele. It specializes in Korean soup/stews, along with some noodle and hot pot dishes. Tasty banchan, and lots of them. No BBQ. Kimchi Jjim (sliced pork loin with whole cabbage kimchi) seems to be a popular choice there. I've seen whole families seated near the back of the resto, where there's lotsa room. Good service. English spoken. The regulars are delighted to advise newcomers - just ask. That's how I worked my way through the menu. One of my little gems.

Oct 02, 2014
juno in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Looking for an uptown restaurant for a birthday dinner of about 8 to 10 people

The aforementioned Stack is a good choice. It's on Yonge St. between Lawrence Ave. and York Mills Rd., which, I suppose, qualifies as North York, which makes it within your designated area (I can never figure out where North York begins or ends any more). I get there a couple times a month. Easily within your price range. Well-laid-out, it's a lively joint - though it can get noisy. Burgers, salads, assorted BBQ sandwiches, a number of modestly-priced main dishes. It's hard for anyone to go over $20 (without alcohol) at that place. Well-run, alert young staff, good range of beers and wines at decent prices. The daily soup is usually good. Solid main-course salads (I'm partial to the Cobb) and tasty ribs. Parking on Yonge, or the nearby residential streets running off Yonge.

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)