I was at The Saint for brunch the other day. We had the devilled eggs (every table has the devilled eggs), duck scramble and duck confit benedict. Barely any duck in the duck scramble but otherwise very filling. People keep moaning about the service at this place and to be honest it wasn't too bad.
I also tried Rock Lobster on a Thursday night. I have no idea why this place needs a second location. I strolled in a little before 9pm on a Thursday and it was dead. I almost thought the kitchen was closed. We had the lobster poutine (I couldn't tell it's lobster), lobster mac and cheese, scallops and the lobster tacos. The most filling and flavourful was the mac and cheese. I could have done without the poutine. You can get better tacos somewhere else. I only brought one person so unfortunately we couldn't try anything else. Choice for hard liquor is almost none unless you choose spirits that they use to make their cocktails. Maybe I need to check the Queen Street location to see if it's a better vibe.
I also stopped by Yakitori bar in Baldwin village for dinner. There are only two girls who run the whole place. When I came in, it was seat yourself. I feel sorry for the two Indian girls sitting on the patio. I was one table away from the bar in a 30% full restaurant and I barely got service without leaning over and hollering at the bartender (who doubled as bus boy, waitress, etc.). This was on a Thursday too so I struggled to understand the staffing. We had the kimchi poutine, which I completely don't get. It tasted like a poutine. The skewers were hit or miss. I didn't try alligator as I was with a South African mate and he's tired of reptile meat. I'd say the mushroom and red meat skewers were not bad. The chicken and seafood ones need work or seasoning. They also took an inordinate amount of time to show up. We had baby bibimbap as a side. Is it dol sot bibimbap that comes with the hot stone bowl? Ours was basically cold and only saved by the hot sauce they gave us. All in all, it felt like a Korean sports bar with all the televisions in there. School has started and I have to say the place is swarming with attractive girls from the universities.
I also went to Destingo at Queen and Bathurst for a late lunch. Yes it has an enormous patio that is the same size of the restaurant. I'm not sure how they will deal with this in the winter. It's open seven days a week, breakfast, lunch and dinner - which usually means you do a lot of things and none of them terribly good. I'd say it's close to home cooking. I had a frittata, dining mates had pappardelle mushroom pasta, and a margherita pizza. Frittata was nothing to write home about. The pasta was pedestrian and drenched in sauce. I've heard about the watery sauce or lack of drainage from yelp. The pizza was just a thin crust pizza with a crust that is utterly inedible. I brought a child there and she eats everything, but if she's losing her baby teeth trying to eat the crust you know something is wrong. We had the beef carpaccio to start; seared on the outside and not too much pepper. We also had mussels which surprisingly were okay. Prices aren't very high and I can see people treating this as a local neighbourhood haunt.
People always criticize I go west for food so I picked out two places on the east side in Leslieville. Bistro 896 - which was built on the remains of Le Canard Mort. It still has some French dishes and some fusion stuff. We stuck with the traditional French fare, which wasn't terribly good. Plating was cookie cutter - how my duck breast and my dining mate's salmon looked exactly the same with interchanged meat was strange to say the least. Choice of wine was also a little disappointing and on a Tuesday night it seems one man runs the whole place. Most patrons there were going for the happy hour burger and fries so I'm not sure what kind of clientele they were cultivating. If you're going for a cost effective date, this might be up your alley. Since everyone was ordering fries, I left the place smelling like frites.
I then went down the street to Swirl Wine Bar. Everyone keeps saying how hard it is to find this place. It's just upstairs. It's not like Good Night bar or something where you have to text message someone to get in through an alley with marked up graffiti doors. The place is quite interesting. You want to bring a girl here. It's like a flat on top of store converted into a what could be best described as someone's living room. There are books all over the walls. There is a television playing Mad Men on mute. The Irish bartender is sitting in the back reading a book or something. If you open the drawers of the sewing tables, you can find sticky notes of people's wishes inside. As I said, a nice place for girls to go. Food here consists of things that can come from a fridge typically in a mason jar. We split a dessert and a bottle of wine. Quite reasonable prices. Would I come again? Not with a crowd. Maybe as I said for two girls to catch up or just a leg of a quiet date.