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Toronto restaurant recommendation - Page 56

post #826 of 973
I'd been to Ossington at least 10 times before leaving the GTA. And aside from fall / winter, I always found it hotter than fuck in there. Seriously, I've had 5pm dinners there just to avoid the collective build-up of body and restaurant heat that just mugs you later in the evenings. I swore there were ac ducts in there. Anyways, damn good pies.
post #827 of 973
I read that people found the Danforth location oppressively loud and the seafood entrees unique to the chef who works there not worth trying but this might be a good week to go as I'm back in town and I work primarily for US folks.

I am going to make a solo journey to Spirit House too. I have been meaning to go there with company but it fell through twice.
post #828 of 973
Apparently Spirit House has not "officially" opened yet.

I showed up a little bit before 6:30 PM and was one of two parties at the bar. The place attracts two types of people from what I can tell - the foodie type who will yammer on about Bar Chef, Toronto Temperance, Hoof Cocktail Bar, and some random people who happen to come in and go for a few bottles of beer before of after some engagement. The barrel aged drinks have to be consumed all at once so it's best to bring some friends.

I tried an old fashioned which came with a circular ice cube, a Manhattan which they offered to do on the rocks (why?!) and a couple of scotches. They're definitely less fastidious about the "rules" than some of the other posh bars in the city. Duck poutine seems popular there and I had it as well, although I can't say it's worth going back for. The food menu was populated with fish tacos and sliders; nothing out of the ordinary. They have a TV there tuned to sports and a random playlist of increasingly deafening music. After 9pm it turns into a louder spot.

I didn't get a table so I can't comment about the service, although a bartender did break a glass on us and had to replace some of the drinks. $120 + tip.

They're planning to officially open in September.
post #829 of 973
I went to Hawker Bar yesterday for lunch. We split the chicken satay (a special version of the pork satay on the menu) and the son in law eggs, and then I had the rendang curry and my lunch mate had the vegetarian laksa. We started off with their gin cocktail called Fresh Material. It's rather like a mojito but with a cucumber taste. The soda is not very fizzy so you can down a few of these quite quickly. It takes awhile to come out too since the waitress, bartender and maitre'd are all in one.

Chicken satay was okay - the pieces of chicken were moist but rather fatty. Satay sauce was a little runny for my taste. Son in law eggs - boiled egg and then fried. It's runny and interesting but $7 for two is more like an amuse bouche. The entrees are more substantial. Rendang curry came with some ox cheek and coconut rice - good, wouldn't say it was great. Not very very spicy. Laksa was more spicy but I found it to be too rich to eat on its own but maybe that's me.

Service was okay but I can see it getting out of hand once it is fully occupied. Our waitress spent time to explain the dishes to us. I know there were complaints the "snacks" here run at around $7 and the entrees $10-15 (except a fried whole sea bream but I detest fried fish). If you're hungry stick with the entrees. Those expecting $2 prices a la Singapore should go elsewhere. I'd come back if someone requests this place specifically but otherwise I don't think I would by myself. I skipped the Hainenese chicken rice since it was universally panned.

$80 + tip.

Oh I have to mention one thing about Spirit Bar - they ration water. You get a tiny glass that's smaller than their old fashioned and they bring out a bottle of water and top it up every so often. Typically at bars I get a massive water goblet and a smaller liquor glass but this place is the opposite. After you buy a few drinks, they'll put the bottle of water in front of you though. I didn't feel like I indulged in the fountain of youth afterwards.
post #830 of 973
This is in the suburbs near the airport but I tried Culinaria on Wednesday for a business luncheon. The space is quite small and the combined culinary school and restaurant set up reminds me of the George Brown space downtown. The outside looks like an old brick house but the inside is rather contemporary although it still hues to a white table cloth set up. The servers were quite young and with two large parties attention was inconsistent. Portions are rather big but I started off with a carrot puree soup, and barramundi fish. It allegedly came with a spicy salsa but it ended up feeling more like a tropical fruit dressing on the side. Lunch mate had a chicken entree that looked unremarkable and salad to start. The salad looked the size of an entree with dressing that looked to be 4/5 olive oil. A couple of cocktails, a glass of wine and a port to finish ended up being $135 + tip. Ominously, there is a sign in the front that says they will serve only one alcoholic beverage per customer per hour. Happily for us, this was just a warning.

I somehow ended up at Biff's Bistro on Friday for lunch because I wanted to try Osteria 55 but found out it was closed for renovations. It reminded me how much I hate going to restaurants that run summerlicious and lo and behold, I order a la carte but they gave me the crepe madame that was on the summerlicious menu. I got the "extras" from the a la carte in two side dishes (an egg and side salad). The only good thing was we sat indoors and the indoor waiter was quite attentive as there were fewer people inside.

Saturday for dinner I was at La Societe after a show. We split the foie gras appetizer, escargots and a petite seafood tower (oysters, tuna tartare, shrimps, calamari) with a party of three. Finished off with a creme brulee and the "lemon bombe alaska" or some mix of those words - no idea how that's actually bistro food. $215 including tip. There are a lot of children in strollers on a Saturday night whether it's on the patio, downstairs or in the actual restaurant. The bar is probably the best solace if that sort of thing bothers you.
post #831 of 973
very good reviews fwiffo, keep it up.

had holy chuck the other day, shouldn't have bothered. overpriced and mediocre, just like priest
post #832 of 973
Cheers. I'm not always in town so that's why it's slowing down a bit.

I tried Feel Good Guru today. It's on Queen street across from Trinity Bellwoods park near the funeral parlour. Lunch mate had the Bangkok Doc, which was a vegan pad thai, and I had the No Bull Burrito. We also picked up some smoothies - I think mine was a hemp vanilla bean thing. The burrito was interesting. There's no meat but it has a spicy kick to it. They use nuts and some other things to give it texture. It's messy though. There's no starch either because the burrito bun is a big leaf. I enjoyed it but in spite of skipping breakfast, I was stuffed after eating that. I also tried a little bit of the Bangkok Doc which was served in a fast food style cardboard noodle box. It was a bit more citrus than what I was used to. I might actually prefer the kelp noodles from Rawlicious for this one. Altogether it was $48 + optional gratuity. There are five stools you can eat inside but they advertise themselves as a take away place. Unless you get one of the noodles, the sandwiches are all put together by hand so it can take awhile if there's a long queue. Plus, the server and the person at the till are all one person so when she's making something, prospective customers can do little more than get a word in. I also overheard they get their kale from the farmers market at the park.
post #833 of 973
Last night started out at Weslodge at around 5pm. This place was started up by the same person behind La Societe. The theme is a western style saloon complete with hipster bartenders who wear empty leather holsters with their waistcoats. I had the manhattan which comes with a house made tobacco tincture. From what I gathered it's a cigar soaked alcohol where they put ten drops to give a little bit of a cigar flavour. After one drink I had no idea whether it was there though. I tried to order a scotch egg but the kitchen was closed in spite of having double the amount of staff wandering in the kitchen (clear glass) and I'm pretty sure scotch eggs are all prepared in advance and they open for lunch. Oh well. The bartender apologized. We tried to get a high top table but were told it was reserved. The entire restaurant was empty so I'm not sure who they were reserving it for. All in all, it is a typical King West place - pretentious people, early evening mature crowd, cads in baseball caps and a stream of cougar women who need to put their big hand bags on your stool when you sneak out for a smoke.

Next I went back to Spirit House. It's less rowdy and had an older crowd. Cocktails were nice. I tried the whitefish tacos, which were pretty good - lots of Little Italy bars afterwards.

Today I went to Dog and Bear. I originally wanted to leave work early and go to The Drake's rooftop patio but they told me it was closed without telling me when they would be open. It has a typical pub menu but the beers are lacking. I saw an Englishman come in and ask for London Pride. They didn't have it. He asked for Guinness and the keg was off. I asked for fired smelts and they were sold out. This is a recurring theme. I settled for chips and some kind of beef gravy, but the menu has your usual full english breakfast, fish and chips, bangers mash, etc. Nice portraits of British monarchs but they seem to try too hard to be British without really pulling it off. Bartender was bubbly though. TV was loud.
post #834 of 973
Dinner at Grand Electric a few days ago. Overpriced, overhyped, and stupid; but the tacos are not bad if you avoid the other menu items. Also their cocktails suck, but good beers.
post #835 of 973
Went to Museum Tavern on Saturday night. The inside is classic french bistro, reminds me of La Societe without all the extra extravagance. Service was very good but the food was hit and miss. There don't appear to be many true appetizers on the menu. A soup and small chop salad, but after that you're looking at salads which cost the same as mains and that was odd. It has a lot of casual pub food like fish and chips, burger, etc. but also your standard french stuff like chicken and steak frites. My steak frites was done perfectly medium so I was happy but the small chop salad left much to be desired. Desert menu was lacking.

I love the atmosphere of this place but I'm a sucker for red leather booths and bistro chairs. The lighting was one level too high for Saturday at 9pm and the place had no more than a handful of parties dining out. Maybe it's a better lunch place, but I also find Yorkville deserted come late summer so who knows why. The bar area is very nice but the bathrooms are single room so if this place was busy I bet there would be awkward line ups in the hall. The appetizer thing really throws me, why so few normal appetizers? Price for mains is only about 10% less than La Societe and the wine menu is non-existant so I'm not sure what crowed they are looking to attract, especially since it's off the beaten path of Bloor/Cumberland/Yorkville.

Maybe things will pick up when Museum House and Exhibit are full of occupants, but can this place last that long?
post #836 of 973
Looking forward to this opening by the Shangri La
http://www.torontolife.com/daily/daily-dish/rumours-rumblings/2012/08/14/momofuku-toronto-kitchen/
although will probably be stupidly busy for the first 6 months.
post #837 of 973
working stiff, 3.50 for the best tacos north of the 49th parallel is expensive? i mean, I'm used to paying 1.25 in LA but shit, these things are gringo-certified and local. the only complaint i have about GE is the golden era hip hop gets annoying after a little while if sitting in the front. i felt like someone was about to start breaking.

museum tavern, went there, ate well, added up quickly and i wasn't completely sold but its good and around the corner, much better option than the duke of york or bedford academy food-wise, albeit slightly pricier.

i need to try more of david changs food, i had his ramen, it was one of the worst bowls I've ever had.
post #838 of 973
I want to try La Carnita. Just haven't made it out there - been going to old haunts and double checking places (Weslodge, Spirit House, etc.). Wvrst has turned into a family place - saw a bunch of kids running around while their parents have a pint. Children in a beer hall.

I should be able to spend a good chunk of time in the city this week.

I don't get all the excitement about momofuku - why should I look forward to it?
post #839 of 973
I went to La Carnita. It was pretty good, more expensive than Grand Electric (which sucks). In my opinion La Carnita is the go-to Mexican restaurant for Torontonians too afraid to go into Parkdale or wait in line somewhere too "hipster" for them. I didn't notice anything particularly amazing about it, but it was a good restaurant. The key lime pie paleta was a nice way to end the meal.

Also, as an aside, Banh Mi Boys is amazing. Cheap and so delicious.
post #840 of 973
Quote:
Originally Posted by fwiffo View Post

I don't get all the excitement about momofuku - why should I look forward to it?

because it's something from "new york", age old trick, has always worked on us naive canadians
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