Toronto - DINING & NIGHTLIFE
November 9th, 2009
With heure d'hiver starting and temperatures dropping, it's time to think about heart (and belly) satisfying dishes.
Serving up scrummy French-inspired comfort fare such as a truffled fonduto of melted cheese and poached egg and a pork and shrimp burger that is to die for, Union looks set to satisfy our tums all season long.
We start with a charcuterie plate ($15) of house-brined corned beef, pork rillette, country rabbit terrine and homemade sweet pickles before tucking into roasted chicken ($14) and melt-in-your-mouth ribs ($18). For dessert, we can’t resist the warm apple crumble served with a dollop of homemade vanilla-maple ice cream.
Now this is one union we're happy to join.
Union, 72 Ossington Ave., Toronto, 416-850-0093, www.union72.ca
October 30th, 2009
Double, double toil and trouble…
Too chilly to spend Halloween barhopping on a broom? Call your wicked witches over for a martini or two.
1 ½ oz. black vodka, chilled
1 ½ oz Korbel Champagne
¾ oz part Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur
Combine vodka and half of the Chambord in a martini glass, top with Champagne and pour the remaining Chambord over the back of a spoon to make it float. Thread raspberries and blueberries onto a cocktail skewer and serve with a witch’s cackle.
October 23rd, 2009
Buttery, salty and enduringly delicious, the grilled cheese sandwich remains unrivaled in the land of simple gastro-pleasures.
Add some jalapeno peppers, spinach and a dash of black olive pesto, and what you’ve got is a more sophisticated version. With a tag line that reads, “Just like you, the sandwich grew up,” this is what the folks behind The Grilled Cheese are striving for.
With combinations such as old cheddar, grilled portobello and roasted garlic or dill havarti, basil pesto, sundried tomato and onion, the offerings ($6) are simple and wholesome with a side of originality.
The space is small and cozy, with a decidedly Alpine feel. A moose clock hangs on one wall while mason jars stuffed with pickled veggies line another.
Open just in time for winter, it doesn’t get much better than rich, gooey cheese sarni on a cold, blustery day.
The Grilled Cheese, 66 ½ Nassau St., Toronto, 647-347-7762.
October 16th, 2009
If the scrummy smell of cake batter doesn’t lure you in, then the edible jewellery in the window surely will.
Run by a mother/daughter baking team, Parkdale’s Yummy Stuff is sheer bliss. Red velvet cupcakes, crumbly shortbreads, wholesome pies and delightfully tart lemon squares are a feast for the senses.
The sweet potato cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting topped with pecan praline is the perfect fall afternoon treat.
And don’t miss the much talked about chocolate oatmeal cupcakes with maple bacon frosting. Chocolate, maple and bacon—you’ve got to taste it to believe it!
Ask about custom cakes to order. Yummy Stuff, 1660 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-531-9732, www.yummystuff.ca
October 9th, 2009
It’s not just French women who don’t get fat. Italian women gorge on garganelli and guzzle Chianti and still stay svelte. The secret? They keep everything piccolo (Italiano for “small”).
The guys behind the Local Kitchen and Wine Bar have portion size just right. Little white dishes come laden with butter-soft gnocchi coated in taleggio and rapini. The breaded olives stuffed with rabbit are scrummy and the Ontario buffalo mozzarella is to die for.
All ingredients are sourced from local farmers using sustainable methods. Arctic char is fresh from Georgian Bay and the mozzarella is from Thunder Bay.
The atmosphere is decidedly local too. Vintage community newspaper covers one wall, a wild boar’s head hangs above the door, and old milk crates substitute as wine shelving.
“If I owned a restaurant, it would be exactly like this,” says the diner to our left.
What better compliment?
Local Kitchen and Wine Bar, 1710 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-534-6700, www.localkitchen.ca
September 25th, 2009
Quaff: To drink a beverage, esp. an intoxicating one, copiously and with hearty enjoyment.
There’s nothing boozy about the beverages at Quaff, but the teas, coffees and soft drinks at this new Queen West café are certainly enjoyable.
And with the refreshing limonatas and robust teas comes a selection of homemade pastries and panini and soups so good you could dive into them.
Eiffel chairs, distressed walls and National Geographic-worthy photography give this café a decidedly sophisticated feel.
Locals with laptops, Bugaboos and terriers will be quaffing here all day long.
Quaff, 668 Queen St. W, Toronto.
September 18th, 2009
All those school dinners of soggy scampi and rubbery sole put us off seafood for years. But these days, we can’t get enough of it.
For the freshest, loveliest pick of the sea, we head to the recently renovated Pisces Gourmet, where thick slabs of seabass, salmon and swordfish await. Crustacean lovers will be clamouring for the B.C. Dungeness crab and East Coast lobsters.
On our last visit we snapped up some East Coast halibut as well as some fine Ontario pickerel to barbeque. The selection of sauces, marinades and oils is hard to resist, and for the preoccupied cook, there are plenty of pre-made delights like marinated skewers of salmon and tuna and veggies.
Now that’s a catch.
Pisces Gourmet, 1097 Yonge St., Toronto, 416-921-8888.
September 11th, 2009
It’s the first thing we think of when we wake up and the one thing we can’t live without.
These days we’re getting our morning fix at Sam James Coffee Bar. Smooth and sublime, we’re addicted to his java. Sam James is a bit of coffee legend in this town, having culled his talent at places such as Dark Horse and Hank’s. This is his first solo venture, and the coffee crowd is piling in.
Pick from ‘old school’ (cappuccino, macchiato, espresso) or ‘new school’ (chai latte, vanilla latte) options and knock it back with a tasty pastry or two.
Sorry honey, we love you too, but our heart belongs to Sam.
Sam James Coffee Bar, 297 Harbord St., Toronto, 647-341-2572, www.samjamescoffeebar.com
August 28th, 2009
Kale and alfalfa sprouts may be food for life, but you haven’t lived until you’ve pigged out on pulled pork, fried chicken and chorizo fritters from the Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder.
Crispy, juicy and hot, theirs may be the best buttermilk bathed fried chicken ($12) in town. And don’t miss the melt-in-your-mouth beef ribs ($13) served only on Friday nights.
The healthiest thing on our table was a herby potato salad sans mayo ($5), a righteous alternative to the french fries ($5) and onion rings ($5).
We left ready to fast. But it was worth every artery-clogging bite.
Seating is limited. Call ahead for take-out orders as the ribs often sell out before 7 p.m.
The Stockyards Smokehouse and Larder, 699 St. Clair Ave. W., Toronto, 416-658-9666, www.thestockyards.ca
August 26th, 2009
“It's the old chicken that makes good broth.”
Anyone with a penchant for pasticcio and a taste for tarama should dip into Vefa Alexiadou’s simple and delicious new culinary tome.
In Vefa’s Kitchen, the Hellenic Martha Stewart shares classic recipes for dolmades, saganaki, moussaka and more. With over 650 recipes and 200 photos, this is the bible of Greek cooking.
Time to crack open the Retsina, blare out the bouzouki and picture yourself at a taverna in the Aegean.
At Type Books, 883 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-366-8973, www.typebooks.ca