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Queen Margherita Pizza

Just went last night aroudn 9:30 or so. Place was packed to the gills but we luckily snagged the only free table.

the set menu was a great deal. At $25 for antipasti, your choice of pizza and salad, it was a lot of food. The prosciutto with arugula, butternut squash and shaved parm was a great balanced started. The porchetta and hot peppers pizza was amazing. As was the margherita. Yeah, I prefer more basil on mine but it was excellent.. And, no folks, the pizzas were NOT raw in the middle. Nor were they overly soupy. Must have been an off night last week?

Service was excellent and attentive. They run a really tight ship there.

New coffee bar opening at Jones and Gerrard

the best part is they probably only chose one roaster.

Best ESPRESSO in Toronto

Dude, that's fine for you to have your taste and opinions. I was just getting frustrated about people calling their macchiatos and americanos "espresso" when it's not, really.

I'm not sure why you think trying to find the optimal roast is silly. Can you please tell me why Classic is so bad? It just got an amazing write up in fresh cup magazine. But it's pointless to argue with you abotu this since you think doing research is silly.

Best ESPRESSO in Toronto

Does that mean party at foodyDudey's house? :)

It's not THAT hard to find a decent espresso in this city. I was just pointing out some of my faves. Blogs, I've heard wonderful things about LIt on college as well.

Will put Bisogno on the list too.

Best ESPRESSO in Toronto

Jwhitereview I would put voulez vous in the same category without hesitation. I'm not sure if you've had their espresso but it's amazing. This is the product of shopping through 50 different roasters and taste testing to an insane degree. Have you tried their espresso? Sean is insanely passionate about coffee and it shows

. Black Cat is not as amazing once you try different roasts. Again, I find Black cat great but it's really bitter on the finish. This is coming from a guy who used to buy a lb a week of that stuff for home. You really do appreciate a cleaner roast once you have the good stuff.

Best ESPRESSO in Toronto

Alvino, I'd love to know what you classify as optimal espresso? I'd highly recommend you check out Voulez Vous. I've had a lenghty discussion with their roaster on just this dilemma which seems to be quite prevalent in BC roasts as well.

The Voulez Vous and Te Aro seem to be going more for the Italian mode with zero bitterness. Sort of a 3 on a dark roast scale that goes to 5.

But this post was more for me to find new places people are digging. So please weigh in on your faves.

Best ESPRESSO in Toronto

YES! I totally forgot to check this place out. I've heard all the top baristas have been trained by him in this city. Thanks, Oatsie!

Best ESPRESSO in Toronto

Hello all, it's been a bit frustrating reading through this board whenever the almighty espresso question comes up. The majority of the posts seem to be judging a cafe on their Americanos or Lattes. I can appreciate that everyone has their preferences but I find it impossible to judge the espresso when all the other elements are mixed in.

So, what are your favourite spots where you can enjoy a beautifully pulled shot without adding sugar or water or milk?

These are my faves in the city:

Voulez Vous Cafe - The spot I have been to the most this is partly due to it's proximity to my house. But due to an inconspicuous storefront, I was not expecting such a high quality shot. It was only after talking to the insanely friendly barrista and co-owner Sean, that I realized the extent of their quality control. Trying 50 different roasters and sampling 30 shots a day for over a month to come to the perfect blend, shows. More in the Euro vein of clean subtle flavours that you can literally scoop the crema off with a spoon. Crazy good and insanely strong.

Sam James - blew me away and I have only been once but I have bought their beans. Using the Toi Moi & Cafe roaster in Montreal, it's delicious and complex too. Also, Sam James is one helluva nice guy.

Cherry Bomb - Their shots were wonderfully balanced. Nice on the palette and a subtle ending. Really deceptive since they're longer than I would like my shot to be but they work perfectly.

Te Aro - It took me a couple of visits to appreciate this place. They air roast their own beans and the quality control is high. This is a roast which has flavours that are all but lost in a cappucino and latte. Its' really clean and a little nutty but not overbearingly so.

Mercury Organic Espresso Bar - I have been here many times. I love the vibe but they were kind of in a rut serving the Black Cat beans. I haven't had the opportunity to sample their new custom blend in store but I have bought the beans. I only have an aeropress at home so I can't comment on it yet but the beans are amazing.

So anyone want to weigh in with their favourites?

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Mercury Organic Espresso Bar
915 Queen St E, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A, CA

Cherry Bomb Coffee
79 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R2K6, CA

Voulez Vous Café
1560 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

Timothy’s Tikka House-any good?

I guess I remembered it being much better than it was. We had it last week with takeout and it was "solid" but nothing exceptional. The lamb biryani was by far the best of the dishes. I get a lot of flak, but I much prefer lahore tikka house, greasy claims be damned!

New coffee bar opening at Jones and Gerrard

YES! I'm assuming it's an offshoot of the Main and Gerrard location. That used to be the 2nd Mercury Espresso shop but, due to an amicable split with the owners, they renamed it grinder. They are really intense about their espressos. Not sure which beans they use but if I remember it was the Black Cat blend.

That moribund strip needs more stuff like this. Thanks for the heads up, TOveggie!

Voulez Vous Cafe (Queen & Ashdale)

Oops, many apologies. I am quite fond of the location, too. I have only had swill from Tango and Ideal at that location. Not here to start a flame war but I didn't want to return to those places.

Voulez Vous Cafe (Queen & Ashdale)

I'd seriously give it another shot before calling Mercury better. Believe me, I'm a hard core Mercury fan but this is something much different. They sourced their own beans from around the world and opted to go for a local organic roaster.

I have been twice now and the shots pulled have been phenomenal. The crema is so thick, you can pull it off with a spoon. Very complex falvour profiles here. Also, extremely strong coffee. You've been warned :)

This is my new fave spot in Leslieville.

Queen Margherita Pizza

To have the words "Authentic Napoletana Pizza Ovens" in bold fonts on the windows.... they'd better deliver. In this day and age of Libretto, you can't just bandy those words about.

Thai Take Out in the Beach or Leslieville

Jilly, the only Thai I've really enjoyed in the area has been Jean's Vegetarian Kitchen on the Danforth @ Greenwood. Personally, I'm a fan of the faux meats but I understand it's not for everyone. What you really want are the green and red veggie curries. Fabulous and incredibly tasty. Get some fried bananas with honey as well as coconut rice.

If anyone recommends other thai places in the area, please let me know!

Gerrard and Jones suggestions?

Collegiate lunch is sad and the burgers didn't justify the CBC best of toronto hype. It looks like the place PT Anderson would shoot a scene in. All wood paneling.

Pizza Pide is amazing, however. Don't forget First Break Coffee on Carlaw south of Gerrard.

And (my current obsession) Chino Loco's burritos at Queen and Greenwood.

ISO - Choice Brand Russian Caravan Tea

I'm not sure where to buy it but the Windsor Arms serves a great cup of it. Hard to describe but imagine a great cup of smoky goodness! It's extreme but wonderful.

Restaurant Openings, 2009 (Toronto)

I would prefer that location east of Leslie but that seems extremely ambitious (turning an auto garage into a pub) are you sure it isn't going to be where Kubo was? I read THAT's also becoming an irish pub called The Roy. I'd love to have some fresh oysters within walking distance, tho :)

places to eat in Burlington/Oakville

How could you omit Pane Fresco? incredible sandwiches with baked bread that rivals Brick Street and Gilead Cafe.

Caplansky's Amazing Smoked Meat Sandwich

Yeah, I love the charm of the Monarch! I hope they stay there for a while. This coming from a guy who has to drive 45 mins from Leslieville to get there. Zane has taken some cues from the old school ambiance for sure.

New burrito place at Queen and Greenwood

It's called Chino Locos Tasty Good Burritos and it is excellent. I was wary of the "chinese-burrito" fusion but they've melded the flavours really well. I'm a burrito purist but their "off 'da hook" burrito with spicy beef and edamame beans/chow mein was addictive. i spoke with the owner last week and he said they're getting lamb shank in this week. I'm glad a suitable replacement to Ghali's has opened up in that space.

New Leslieville Restaurant

It's excellent. The best part was (as of last Friday) the owner's parents were cooking! Loved the curried chicken sate. On vermicelli, of course!

Does Caplansky's have a takeout option?

Yeah, but I'd call way in advance or get there early. By 5:30 last Sunday they were sold out of meat. I was lucky enough to score some excellent poutine, though.

Fresco and Company

Agreed. I was excited by the concept when they opened up their Beaches location. It's a weird, weird concept. Food was nothing spectacular. And all that packaging??

The Inspired Cook on Queen E. ??

I should clarify that the catering place is an eyesore and not the Inspired Cook. D'oh.

The Inspired Cook on Queen E. ??

Great for them but it's an eyesore. The little strip of shops (Film Buff, Red Rocket etc) after it are aesthetically great and this place takes away from the hard work of the other shop owners. Ah well. The cooking classes sound great for newbies. Here's a description of the upcoming classes:

The Breakfast Club:
Saturday February 2, 2008
Time: 11:30am-1:30pm
Class Type: Hands -On

Introducing a class specially designed for the person who loves the smell of freshly baked goods on a beautiful weekend morning. Master a selection of quick and easy brunch favorites from variations of scones/biscuit to cinnamon crunchies and muffins. In this two hour hands-on lesson you will understand dough consistency, mixing methods and most importantly "mise en place" (chef term for preparation ahead of time). Tracey Freeman, pastry chef, culinary instructor will show you how to treat family and friends to a morning delight! Discover how brunch can be a fun and novel way to entertain.

$60 per person
Enjoy your brunch with a nice cup of coffee from The Red Rocket
10% coupon to shop at The Inspired Cook
Take home Recipes

Menu:
Raisin Scones, Cheddar cheese scones
Easy Cinnamon Crunchies
Yummy oakmeal muffins

Salads for the Soul
Tuesday February 5th, 2008,
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Class Type: Hands -On

Have you over eaten this holiday season? Focus the New Year on balance and healthful culinary techniques. Erin Martin, Chef of Stonehouse Grill will put together a richly textured menu designed to introduce you to the basics of salad preparation and various salad dressings. In this two hour hands-on lesson, you will not only learn different salad types and dressing pairings but also what Chefs obsess about the most - proper knife skills. Discover the right way to use and care for your knives; understand the difference between knives and practice efficient dicing and chopping. Learn the proper techniques to creating a healthy and delicious salad options for an appetizer or a main course.

$85 per person
2 in 1 class, salad recipes and knife skills
All tools required for hands-on class including your own knife and board
Enjoying an evening learning and dining on healthy and delicious menu
10% coupon to shop at The Inspired Cook

Menu:
Basic vinaigrette recipe and variations Ancient grain salads
Quinoa and lentil salad with roasted peppers, mint and a curry-lemon vinaigrette
Rice noodle salad with asian pear, mango and sugar peas in a spicy peanut sesame dressing

Oysters 101: Shuck ‘em, Suck ‘em, Eat ‘em Raw
Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
Time: 7:30 to 9:30
Class Type: Hands -on

Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Share a fun evening with fellow romantics and oyster lovers. Learn about our favorite bivalve, and get hands-on training from one of Toronto’s best. Bronwen Clark, front-of-house manager of Rodney’s Oyster House will get you into oysters—literally! While chef and food writer Signe Langford will show you how to whip up different and delicious mignonettes—that’s fancy food-talk for the yummy sauce you put on an oyster. Wash it all down with Sea Legs, a perfect white for oysters, created by and exclusively for Rodney’s in tandem with Cave Spring. Bronwen will tell you all about it.

$60 per person
6 impeccably fresh oysters, a glass of Sea Legs, a 10% off coupon from The Inspired Cook, a voucher from Rodney’s Oyster House for a complimentary taste of their new Low Tide menu, and two hours of priceless fun and knowledge.

Vegetarian
Tuesday February 19, 2008
Time: 7:30-9:30pm
Class Type: Demo

Whether you're a vegetarian yourself, have vegetarian friends, or just want to venture into new culinary territory, vegetarian cuisine offers a wide range of delicious dining options. In this demonstration class Chef Erin Martin from Stonehouse Grill will introduce you to the basics of vegetarian cooking and selecting the proper beverage (wine/beer) to pair with a vegetarian meal. Working with staple ingredients of the vegetarian pantry, including vegetables, grains, legumes and tofu, you'll learn to create a meal that's ideal for family dining or entertaining.

$60 person
Spend an evening enjoying fine food, delicious wines/beer, lively conversation and the splendid company of good friends.
10% coupon to shop at The Inspired Cook

Menu:
Chick pea, paneer and sweet potato curry
Cauliflower and spinach in tomato-cream curry
Pinenut-saffron pilau
Coconut-pomegranate pilau
A quick look at raitas

Game for Game?
Tuesday February 26, 2008
Time: 7:30-9:30pm
Class Type: Demo

Join us for a unique dining experiencing using game meat, known to be lower in saturated fats then other red meats. In this cooking demonstration you will learn how to prepare special dishes with pheasant and venison. Discover the variety of spices to use with this meat and learn how to select a wine to pair with the assertive flavours. Chef Erin Martin from Stonehouse Grill will teach you how to shop for game meat and show you recipes to warm up a cold winter evening.

$75 person
Spend an evening enjoying fine food, delicious wines, lively conversation and the splendid company of good friends.
10% coupon to shop at The Inspired Cook

Menu:
Roasted rack of venison with warm blueberry chutney
Pheasant braised in wild mushrooms, herbs and cream
Goat cheese-chive mashed yams

Please register at The Inspired Cook Inc.
1378 Queen Street East
Toronto, Ontario
416 461 8886
All classes are pre-paid

Kubo Radio now delivers

Yes Lil' Baci is under the same management but I actually had a pleasant experience there. The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and the thin crust pizzas were really good. Maybe they're trying not to screw up their rep for this place like they did with Kubo? I wouldn't write this place off just yet.

I Deal Coffee coming to east end?

Where the Carribean Dutchpot last was on Queen/Ashdale they are opening an I Deal Coffee. Anyone know anything else about this? I just passed by today and saw a help wanted sign for experienced barristas. Awesome!

Ghali Kitchen Open!!

Actually, he's been pretty steady with opening after 5pm. I'm pretty sure he closes at 9 or so but this week he's been open every time I've walked by at about 5:30 or so. Had it last Sunday and was still amazing as usual.

New Bakery in Leslieville

Went today (Sunday) at 3pm and you could only see empty baskets in the entire store. They were completely sold out 2 days in a row. I was really craving a baguette today too. Guess you've gotta get there right at 8am. Crazy!

Toronto Life's Best List

Golden Star for the burgers and (if he's still there) the rapping owner. The banana shakes and fries are amazing, too. It's way out there for downtown people, tho.