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Toronto restaurant recommendation - Page 53

post #781 of 981
I went to Frank's Kitchen last night and it's obvious why it's become so popular. The food is very high quality and the preparation of everything is spot-on, yet the prices are very reasonably. Everything I had was fresh, well presented and just really flavorful.

Have a bit of a hang-over so that's as much as i want to type right now.

We had appetizers, mains and dessert, a glass of wine each, and i had 2 lagavulin 16s after dinner and it came to $220 with tip for 2. It's definitely going in the regular rotation.
post #782 of 981
A step down in price point / classiness, but Easton's Charcuterie in Kensington has the most amazing pea meal bacon sandwich I've ever tasted. I'm not even a fan of pea meal sandwiches, ordinarily, but this thing was incredible. Though I think it's only available on Saturdays. It's also a very good charcuterie store.
post #783 of 981
Originally Posted by fwiffo View Post

Saturday dinner I spent $500+tip at George for a 4 person tasting course. No wine except a couple by the glass. We asked to be out in two hours for a concert later in the evening and the service staff delivered. Amuse bouche was a piece of a soft shelled crab. First course was some other crab and what looked liked chick peas, stir fry or something. Mine was the salmon tataki. Second course was a veal tenderloin with foie gras on a potato latke, you also had the choice of a quail on squash with foie gras. And the third was a water buffalo with a perogie or ribeye. Although they do ask if you have food allergies up front, I think it would have been beneficial for them to ask if you eat raw stuff and what level of cooking do you prefer your red meat. As it stood, some parties couldn't finish the centre of some of the beef and I switched for the salmon tataki to accommodate. Some of the meat was also rather tough. For the veal it could be cut with a fork because of the fatty cut but the water buffalo was tough. You really needed a proper knife. Foie gras was divine.
Otherwise, the pacing of the meal was okay - there was a long wait between the first and the second entree but after that it came at a nice rhythm. The cheese plate was neat but heavy and the dessert came with two sampler plates or a single apple tort. Because they knew we were going to Roy Thomson, they offered to call a taxi as well which was a nice touch.
Friday lunch was spent at BLD. I had the pappardelle shrimp. I didn't like the shrimp with the shells on in a pasta bowl (how the hell am I supposed to cut it?) and I thought the sauce wasn't spectacular. My dining mate had the seared tuna salad. She likes the ginger twist on it - from when I last came here the portions seemed to have increased including the tuna. Don't come asking for spanish coffee because they give you a latte foam or something on top of the usual brandy coffee mix. $50 + tip including a few glasses of wine.
Friday dinner was spent at Side Car. Romaine hearts in some of kind of cream dressing, steak and frites (they offer a 12 oz portion now, seems like everyone is increasing) and copious amounts of scotch and cocktails. Here they were also pitching pappardelle - as something new. Interesting for me. ~$240 tip included.
Thursday dinner at Epic meeting up with someone visiting town. It was 10pm so we had something "light" which included a cheese plate, lamb popsicles and calamari. The calamari batter was light. Lamb popsicles - okay not worth the cost of one entree at George and the cheese plate was pretty big and almost a meal by itself, although the selections skewed towards older aged cheeses. $153 + tip and a couple of whiskies.
In other news, I read in the Globe that Grant van Gameren, contrary to Toronto Life's report that he was working at Lucien, has been working behind the scenes at Entoeca Sociale and is now head chef there. There's also a candid account of his time at Black Hoof and how originally it was supposed to be just charcuterie and cheese plates with no hot food.

Have you been to Lucien? i've walked by it every week and been tempted but haven't gone yet.
post #784 of 981
Originally Posted by GQgeek View Post

Have you been to Lucien? i've walked by it every week and been tempted but haven't gone yet.

Apparently I did recently. This was last year's review. But that was before the owner announced van Gameren and Guy Rawlings were revamping their menu. Like most places on that street (Bravi, Trevor's Kitchen), I find they try to be the quaint bistro for the corporate crowd.

Monday lunch at Dynasty in Yorkville. Took me a little time to find the place once I left the subway but I finally found it. Got seated next to the front door but the good thing was the maitre'd would come over and help out. 6 dim sum items came within 30 minutes so it was pretty efficient. Getting the cheque, however, took 15 minutes. Oh well. The menu is exactly the same as before when they were on Bloor Street. The space is newer but still quite sterile; clean for a Chinese place but sterile. $45 + tip.

Wednesday was another work lunch at Bannock where I had the worse possible chicken chef salad. I think the turkey cold cuts were so sour they were bad. Chicken was so dry I almost thought I was eating from Subway. And in spite of the fact that I asked and passed on any garlic dressing because I wanted to avoid having Caesar salad breath after lunch, the dressing was still heavily laden with garlic. Luckily I didn't pay for that one.

Friday lunch was a redux to Modus. We split the proscuitto starter, which actualy was a hefty cup of arugula with a few pieces of proscuitto on top. It could easily pass as an entree to be honest. I had the pickerel and my dining mate had a halibut. The fish was a healthy portion. No bones. Some puree vegetables to go with it and seasoned and seared enough to make you want to eat the skin too. Waiter had no clue about the cheese plate for dessert, and disappeared when I wanted a digestif. $140 + tip including a couple glasses of pinot grigio and then mysteriously for an Italian place, they had no more by the glass so we switched to a chardonnay. Coat check was a mess. Our waiter ended up getting our coat because there was a queue for the hostess.

Friday dinner was spent at e11even. Ironically, Joanne Kates just published her review of the place. The menu barely changed since I was last there and I agree with her that there are too many red meat dishes; if all you want are steak, prime rib, pork tenderloin, this is the place. Trying to look for something else smaller is almost impossible. I tried the linguini which came with a cream sauce, bits of bacon, and a sunny side egg?! My dining mate had the maple burger, but he didn't end up eating all of it because it was too sugary. We ate at the bar while watching the Leafs game. I like how the bartenders get off shift and then promise to get you something but then never come back. We also asked repeatedly when last call was and over the span of one hour kept getting the answer "We should already be closed." It was the night of Prince's concert so there were a lot of eccentric characters including some woman with a mink at the bar.

e11even apparenly has the best washroom in Canada. Hmm, I didn't think it was that great when I left on Friday. Pizzeria Libretto is now open in the Danforth. Liberty Belle Bistro shuttered, which means I'll have to go somewhere else for crepes.
post #785 of 981
Monday - very boring work lunch at Milestones at Dundas square. Tuesday quick lunch at Obika, salumi & cheese & white wine - I have a weakness for buffalo mozarella. Wednesday was a boring work lunch at Sheraton. Wednesday night I went to Acadia with the wrong person because he refused to eat any pork or fish for religious and personal preferences respectively so the tasting menu went out the window. I had the cod appetizer to start and my dining mate had the soup. Mine was like delicately fried fish cakes but his looked like some weird souffle soup; although the menu said it was almond milk the server said it was walnut milk. Anyway, very interesting. I then had the tuna - which in retrospect, I should have had something else given my cod looked pretty much the same without the batter. My dining mate had a delicious looking braised beef that was fork tender. For dessert I had the pudding, which came in the same soup bowl and separated similarly with two layers. Dining mate had a dressed up poached pear. I know everyone said this place was very busy but on a Wednesday night you could walk in and get a table very easily. Hostess remembered my name, washroom was cramped (you will open the door and hit the person at the sink) but all in all, even though complaints are abound that the place is spartan, I liked it. It's a simple setup. I had a few of their cocktails, whiskey sour and I forget what else for digestif; not much in the choice of brandies, cognacs and ports though. $180 + tip. I'd go again. Very down to earth place and good presentation.

Thursday was some Christmas buffet I'd rather forget. Thursday night I had oyster, steak frites, whiskey and coganc at Biff's with a commuter. $200 + tip. Friday afternoon, did sashimi for two at Yuzu with some fried oysters. Somehow I convinced myself that was detoxing.

I was walking by Little Italy and saw Smokeless Joe on the street. Unsure whether it was officially open or not but I remember it being by the club district.

Oh well, back down to the US next week.
post #786 of 981
I did afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms on Tuesday. I got the 3:00 PM seating on one day's notice. I was disappointed we were not placed in the large dining room but instead had the tea room. It's an intimate set up - more akin to the space you would get in Europe than in North America. We had the complete tea for $47 or something each person. It came with sandwiches, petit fours, scones and a goat cheese something appetizer. The full tea option gives you a glass of sherry or champagne to start. You can get stuffed on this pretty easily and since they know it, they bring you little boxes for take away. All in all, the tea goes on for 60-90 minutes depending on how loquacious your companions are. Your server comes by about two or three times after the food comes out to top up the hot water. It's all loose leaf and inevitably some leaves get through the strainer. Everyone has their own choice of tea but it's hard to take a taster of someone else's without another cup. The sandwiches were okay. The scones and the cream or butter they give you is divine. But I can't imagine eating it every day without getting a coronary. The little desserts had delicate craftsmanship but I didn't think they tasted very remarkable. Crowd was full of tourists and older anglophiles. I was a little disappointed the servers do not wear white gloves but service in the hotel itself is nice - valets opening doors for you and such. $150+tip.
post #787 of 981
I only got back on Wednesday so Thursday lunch was spent at Estiatorio Volos - my second time there. It was the only place in the financial district with an opening at 12:30 for six people. Cheque was $340 + tip at the end. Service was confused and poor. Let's start with bringing a bottle of flat water that barely covered the party of six. Then after cocktails came, he collected the wine glasses - still no specials or anything yet. When we ordered wine forty minutes into our seating, he trucked them back out and finally took our order after forty five minutes. He did mention the specials, after half the table gave their order. We shared some appetizers like calamari, some kind of zucchini thing - I didn't eat any of it. I had the sea scallops - first bite had sand. Other people had lamb or rabbit. We rounded off with flourless cake and baklava. None of the food was amazing but the worse was when we switched from pinot noir to cabernet and one of my dining mates still had cabernet by the glass in her wine and he poured the rest of the pinot noir in there. I am terrible with wine but even in my intoxicated state noticed there was a big difference in color of both liquids.

Thursday afternoon was spent bouncing from one pub to another. Did you know Duke of X pubs have reserved tables (in a pub?) at hour intervals (get out of this table by 4pm, this table by 5pm)?

Friday lunch was spent at Rodney's By Bay - cheese plate, crab cakes and grilled shrimp tapas style with some vodka martinis and pinot grigio at the bar. $133 + tip. Cheese plate was small but I felt really full an hour later. Cheeses also tended towards the strong & pungent side which was not my lunch mate's favourite. There was a massive queue at this place starting at 2pm so luckily I went back to the office and returned later to go to County General near Queen and Ossington (yes, Inigo is closed now across the street). Both of us ate the reuben sandwich with fried egg on top. Couple of things the reviews have been saying - yes all the sandwiches are loaded with grease either from ingredients or spreads or whatever. They'll leak on to the wooden board. Since I had a suit & tie on, I ate it with the fork and knife. You can get sandwiches cut up and shared though - but I only found that out after another table did that. Fries used to come in a transparent glass. Now they come in a tin cup. Many people had complained the glass made the fries soggy quickly. Brisket was nice - it doesn't have chunks of small fat but chunks of fat at the end. I found the overall sandwich erred on the salty side though. The cocktail menu is the first thing you'll see and it errs towards the brown stuff; rum and bourbon. Couple of rum cocktails, vodka martinis ended up being something around $100 + tip. If you bring a female date, it's best to go to either the bar or go straight into the restaurant. The front door is not insulated very well and there's a lot of traffic being a smaller establishment. I might come back for lunch and try the fried chicken everyone was talking about.

Wandered over to my other bar had some smoked nuts from Barque's and capped off the night with Lagavulin - the rest of the night was a blur wandering the Annex and then I ended up at Chinatown at 2am and some time later at home.
post #788 of 981

I think L'Unita will fine for the dinner. Even it is Italian restaurant there are variety of food is available.  It is one of the very famous restaurants in Toronto. I think it has started Indian Dishes also. It is on Avenue road which is not far from the city.

post #789 of 981
Thursday was at Enoteca Sociale - this is the van Gameren era as I had never been there before. Had a few glasses of white - haven't the foggiest idea what they were. I'd say in general the service is enthusiastic but they had some rough edges like giving people the wrong entrees. I had the black cod which came out to be more like a stew in a metal pot with a ladle you can share with other people. There was a je ne sais quoi factor about it. Very hearty and fresh. The chick peas didn't feel like they were melting in that brew for hours before the restaurant opened. Tuna tartare was a disappointment. Too much black peppercorn that overpowered any other taste to it. We also had the grilled octopus, which was big enough it can be shared. ~$150+tip.

Friday night was supposed to be at Campagnolo but I could only get a seating at 6pm or 9pm or 6:15pm at the bar, so my cousin complained and I ended up going to Hush. I did forewarn him it is the same chain that opened Gabby's. He had the prime rib poutine and some kind of pasta. I had the thai soup and salmon salad. What to say about the soup. They advertise they make all their soups from scratch. They should change that to singular - one soup because they only make one and it's not so much a soup as it is a lightweight congee with all the things they put in it. The salad was huge with plenty of strawberry vinaigrette layered on top of it (not tossed inside) and a salmon that is about 3-4oz. I didn't mind since I was stuffed going there anyway. I had cocktails for the night. Just like the Open Table review says, they run out of stuff. I asked for Johnny Black, I was offered Johnny Blue. I asked for Glenfiddich 12 year, I was offered Glenfiddich 18 year. I asked for Crown Royale, finally they bring out a Glenlivet in a brandy glass - with rocks! The servers are hired for their looks but certainly not their hospitality. Given the crowd, it appears to attract pre-show dates. ~$120+tip.

The Globe published best restaurants of 2011 or rather I reckon it's the same list Joanne Kates does for Post City. Anywho, the selections:
Campagnolo, Porchetta, Khao San Road, Guu Sakabar, Tofu Village, Keriwa Cafe, Modus Ristorante, County General, F'amelia, Enoteca Sociale

I can say I've only been to half of them. Was going to try F'amelia in Cabbagetown and of course I never made it to Guu. I'll never go to Khao San Road again after waiting 2 hours for a lunch there once.
post #790 of 981
Finally made it out to Campagnolo. Literally, I crashed the place at 6:30ish and found two nice seats at the bar. The two not so nice seats have their backs facing the door. The bar is too low making the hooks underneath the bar useless as your coat will just drag on to the ground. The decor is pretty barren. They don't even have a coat room, and the place was booked all Wednesday night so walk ins meant bar seats. I'm not sure if the sofa is a reserved table but it'd be pretty awkward to eat there. There were also seats in front of the kitchen which I reckon need reservations. There is a list of cocktails - most of which mix three spirits together so I found it rather complicated. I had the octopus to start, which was pretty tasty although I think the cocktail ruined my taste buds a bit; not quite as good as Enoteca Sociale though. I then had the braised lamb shank for dinner. Dining mate had the trout. The shank was fork tender and the portions are reasonable, not huge, just enough. The dessert offered two choices - a chocolate torte looking thing and something the bartender called a Sicilian thing that looks more like a pudding with what I thought was tapioca in it. I had the latter and didn't think it was all that remarkable. I might be convinced to try again if I could book a proper table next time and maybe lay off the cocktails and go for a wine. It's an extremely loud place to hold a conversation. Cheque came to around $200.

I also tried Yours Truly on Ossington - it's right next to Libretto. I showed up either too late or on the wrong day to do their $45 prix fixe menu so I settled for some snacks (deviled eggs, some fried thing) and a couple drinks. This place is loud too and packed on a weekday even at 11:00pm. I ended up sitting at the communal picnic table near the front. Again, the place has minimalist decorations similar to Campagnolo or Acadia or really any of the new restaurants in the past year. Given that there are a few bartenders and the chefs run the dishes out to you, I'm not even sure it's capable of serving a proper meal so I might skip the prix fixe next time. It's open till 2am daily.

I tried this place...Yully?..Yu something - it's at the corner of Yonge and Richmond. It's a Japanese place with a huge space. I don't know if it's the cold weather, but even with it being a hop skip and jump from the underground, it was pretty empty at lunch. I had sashimi there and the presentation wasn't all that innovative. No attempt to sear or mix it up with interesting garnishes. $45 - most of the price probably went to the rent.
post #791 of 981
I travelled most of the week. I had to pick up some tickets from Hart House so I stopped by Hart House Gallery Grill for lunch. 12:30 pm - no tables available until 1:30 which is their last seating, so I ate at the bar. They took time to lay out a full setting for me. Entrees came out extremely quickly. I had the calamari schnitzel, which was very interesting but probably not very healthy. It was served on some spinach and green beans. Dining mate had the arctic char which she shared a piece with me. We then had savoury for dessert, some cheese that I forget from charlevoix and a goat's cheese. The charlevoix one was amazing. I could eat that all day. More crackers would be nice though. Campari, two glasses of wine and two scotches = $128 + tip. Not a bad way to kill an hour's time.

Globe has a review on Grand Electric in which Kates raves about a Mexican place. Can't remember the last time I had decent Mexican in Toronto, although queueing 30 deep at 6:00 PM in the cold is not exactly what I want to do at Queen & Dufferin.

Not Toronto related but Schwartz's has been sold to a new owner this week.

So happy that Winterlicious is finally over and the Jack Astor's crowd can go back to wherever they were eating before.
post #792 of 981
I went to Grand Electric the other night, and let me tell you fuddy duddies, it was great. The wait was an hour and a half but my friend and I just had beers at a bar down the street. For about $100 we had the tuna ceviche and their salad (which is way better than you'd imagine), the baja fish taco, pork belly taco, and beef cheek/tongue taco. My friend said the tongue was a strange texture (to be expected) but I liked the cheek. Also, I can't remember what it's called, but the "special" they have is this amazing Mexican stew/soup with pork and hominy in it, and it was delicious.

If you dig loud rap music in a hip joint with really good tacos and beer (and for some reason a gigantic whiskey list) it's the place for you.
post #793 of 981
Originally Posted by tomgirl View Post

I went to Grand Electric the other night, and let me tell you fuddy duddies, it was great. The wait was an hour and a half but my friend and I just had beers at a bar down the street. For about $100 we had the tuna ceviche and their salad (which is way better than you'd imagine), the baja fish taco, pork belly taco, and beef cheek/tongue taco. My friend said the tongue was a strange texture (to be expected) but I liked the cheek. Also, I can't remember what it's called, but the "special" they have is this amazing Mexican stew/soup with pork and hominy in it, and it was delicious.

If you dig loud rap music in a hip joint with really good tacos and beer (and for some reason a gigantic whiskey list) it's the place for you.

post #794 of 981
^^ Pozole?
post #795 of 981
Originally Posted by Spatlese View Post

^^ Pozole?

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