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Nibbles 'n' Notes around Toronto


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A collection of recent eating notes (full post w/photos: http://www.bit.ly/a3yopl)

swirl.jpg

Swirl’s got a new jar on the menu – boudin noir. Quite a nice take on the traditional sausage. We’d gone early in the evening (for once) and I was able to get some decent shots of this great space. You can check out the updated gallery for those (scroll to the bottom!). It’s ultra-girly in the daylight vs. plain girly in evenings.

Finally got around to trying Negroni’s fare. While the card is pretty much just sandwiches, I thought their white anchovy crostini was extra yummy. I went on a Sunday night and it was a quiet space frequented primarily by couples. Would think it’s a nice third-date place. Not enough distractions for a first-date though.

Had a celebrity-chef sighting at the most unlikely place – Cho Sun Ok, up in Thornhill. Chef Marc Thuet and company was up there for what I think is the best cold noodle in the city. And I believe his party was to be seated at the table I had just vacated. There was definitely a double-take in the parking lot as we left the restaurant.

So, the Black Hoof has this Wild Boar Belly with Rhubarb jelly and pistachios on the menu right now. This is a great mix of salty, sweet, smokey, crunchy, chewy, and toasty. This also qualifies as dessert to me after you drench a delicious morsel of boar in the jelly and coat it in pistachio. So I did a re-order when it came time for sweets. So good. So stuffed. As usual.

For me, Splendido’s desserts always pale in comparison to their mains, but not so this night. Ordered the apple cobbler and it was really just that perfect. Crunchy and crumbly topping over a just-soft pile of apple swimming in its cinnamon bath. Also, Splendido’s European Retreat returns. This is the five-course Friday lunch that I missed out on last year. I also spied their foie gras parfait in baby canning jars at About Cheese for $19.95.

Went for a weekend lunch/brunch at Simple Bistro a couple weekends ago. Decent local lunch spot. But what really got my attention was their Black Forest Cake. I have bad memories of trying grocery store versions, with their dry and stale chocolate cake topped with terrible cherries and oily cream. But Simple Bistro’s version is moist with with just enough chocolate. Elegantly draped with a thin piece of marzipan, this dessert was sided with burnished dark cherries (not LED red!). Really good.

Patisserie Sebastien joins the other patisseries in the area and has a couple of desserts that I don’t usually see. The St. Honoré was one (not pictured), a pile of cream puffs coated with hard caramelized sugar. It’s like a baby croquembouche. And the other – the Religièuse – makes me think of Boston cream pies in the shape of Russian orthodox churches.

You might have heard about a wall falling down in downtown Toronto a couple weeks back. Yeah well, that shut down a couple restaurants, including the popular Thai restaurant, Salad King. I manage their Linda website (and the temporary Salad King one too) and was told it would be closed for several weeks at least. Glad no one was hurt!

Anyone else got anything interesting to add or good eats recently?

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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Enjoyed a burger at Globe Earth a couple weeks ago. Thought it was better than the last burger I ordered at Globe Bistro.

Also enjoyed the grilled octopus, the buffala ricotta agnolotti, the loukamades and the chocolate marscarpone cannoli at Malena. Was not wowed by Malena's Fritto Misto or the chilled crab claw with dill "avgolemono".

What did you order besides the Black Forest Cake at Simple Bistro? I'm thinking about doing brunch there in the near future.

Edited by phoenikia (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

I'll be in Toronto for a couple of days in July, staying around Dundas West and Ossington. My husband and I will probably be dining with our friends in the evenings, but I'd like to get some recommendations for lunches: Portuguese; French; Ethiopian; a good pub with a burger they're not afraid to ask you how you want done and hand-cut fries; and a good pho shop are all on my radar. Also; North American style bakery - muffins, cakes, squares and cookies dominant, not so much of the French-style patisserie.

Would Globe Earth satisfy my burger requirements? And when you say Simple Bistro is good for lunch, what do you recommend?

Also: while we're gaining weight, we'd may as well add poutine to the pile - any good ideas?

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You're in the right place for Pho! Pho Linh is my personal fave, but there's also Golden Turtle and Pho Tien Thanh on Ossington that get a lot of love.

http://www.foodpr0n.com/2009/08/11/my-favourite-pho-linh/

Personally, I'd avoid poutine in Toronto. It's more of a fad then anything else. That being said, if you're never going to Quebec, then there's Smokes and Poutini, where all they serve is poutine. I really don't like either. Had a good poutine out in Queen East at Great Burger Kitchen, but I don't think it's worth the trek across the city to eat it.

http://www.foodpr0n.com/2010/04/07/leslieville-is-sprouting/

You're also just down the street from The Hoof Café, which I think has some very good and interesting food. Note: if you can, eat at The Black Hoof (dinner only) as well. Two of my favourite places to eat in Toronto right now.

http://www.foodpr0n.com/2009/12/22/the-hoof-cafe-in-toronto/

http://www.foodpr0n.com/2010/03/03/international-pig-day-black-hoof/

For good cupcakes, I like The Wedding Cake Shoppe (859 College Street, Toronto, theweddingcakeshoppe.com) just up the street from you. It's primarily a storefront for their cake making, so this is not a full-service bakery. I think it's just cupcakes, tea/coffee, and maybe some cookies. Not even sure about the last one.

Dufflet (787 Queen Street West) has some of the more N. American-style cakes/bars that you would be looking for, as does Wanda's Pie In The Sky (287 Augusta Avenue). Moreso at Wanda's, I'd think. Dufflet carries primarily cakes and less of an assortment (I think - it's been a while since I've gone).

As for Simple Bistro, I probably wouldn't recommend going there from where you are. It's a good local lunch spot, but not a drive-across-the-city lunch spot. There are some food/menu shots in the flickr set below.

Logo

Pizzeria Libretto is also right nearby you and does lunch. Not sure if you want to eat pizza though!

Map o' places (incomplete) http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=100866790085696303995.000477e94cca9a173da3e&z=11

Edited by jenc (log)

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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I would also recommend Pho Phuong on Dundas W near Brock http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/phophuong They have some other food on the menu besides pho, including broken rice dishes, and crab. There's a Portuguese bakery across the street that serves decent pasteis de nata (custard tarts), too.

Leah's on St. Clair West at Wychwood (near Christie) has lots of N American baked goods- squares, butter tarts, crumbles, etc, and it's a short walk to the Wychwood Barns, where a farmer's market takes place on Saturdays.

For good burgers that are closer to you, you might want to consider the Harbord Room on Harbord, or Nota Bene on Queen just west of University. I like the Harbord Room burger a little more than the Globe Earth burger, which I like a little more than the Nota Bene burger. All these burgers run somewhere between $15 and $19.

If you're looking for a good burger that is under the $10 mark, I've been happy with the burgers at Craftburger on King West (which is set up more like a fastfood joint than a restaurant). I like the avocado & blue cheese burger at Craftburger. http://www.craftburger.com/

Edited by phoenikia (log)
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Thanks for the great suggestions; sorry I'm so clueless on Toronto geography; I'll consult Google Maps. I'm looking forward to hitting the ground running since Toronto's such a great eating city. Actually, the Black Hoof looks like it might be a great place to treat our hosts to dinner, not only for the food, but based on a running "pig" joke we have with them. Does their menu change frequently?

Wanda's Pie in the Sky also looks the ticket. Pie.

You're in the right place for Pho! Pho Linh is my personal fave, but there's also Golden Turtle and Pho Tien Thanh on Ossington that get a lot of love.

All pho suggestions look ace, it'll probably come down to geography which one we go to. We can get really good pho in Shanghai, but I have no upward limit to my pho consumption really. I see that you note in your blog that the pho at Linh is a fresh noodle - does that mean it's a raw noodle, not a dried one? This is very important to me in a real bowl of pho.

Leah's on St. Clair West at Wychwood (near Christie) has lots of N American baked goods- squares, butter tarts, crumbles, etc, and it's a short walk to the Wychwood Barns, where a farmer's market takes place on Saturdays.

Sounds excellent as well. I'd love to hit a Farmer's market, too, but we'll be there from a Sunday to a Wednesday.

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You're in luck- there are several smaller farmers' markets in the west end that operate during the week.

Sorauren Market (near Dundas and Sorauren) is on Monday afternoons http://westendfood.coop/ and Trinity Bellwood Market is on Tuesday afternoons, http://www.tbfm.ca/ . There's also a market which will be taking place near Sick Kid's hospital downtown on Tuesdays. I would think the Trinity Bellwoods market would have more selection.

Definitely check out Monforte Dairy's cheese (from nearby Perth County) if you attend any of the outdoor farmers' markets!

Here's more information on farmers' markets around Toronto http://wx.toronto.ca/festevents.nsf/farmers+markets?openform

Kensington Market (which is a neighbourhood filled w ethnic shops, and where Wanda's Pie in the Sky is now located), and St.Lawrence Market (our covered market) are also worth visiting, and would be open during the week!

Edited by phoenikia (log)
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You're in luck- there are several smaller farmers' markets in the west end that operate during the week.

Sorauren Market (near Dundas and Sorauren) is on Monday afternoons http://westendfood.coop/ and Trinity Bellwood Market is on Tuesday afternoons, http://www.tbfm.ca/ . There's also a market which will be taking place near Sick Kid's hospital downtown on Tuesdays. I would think the Trinity Bellwoods market would have more selection.

Definitely check out Monforte Dairy's cheese (from nearby Perth County) if you attend any of the outdoor farmers' markets!

Here's more information on farmers' markets around Toronto http://wx.toronto.ca/festevents.nsf/farmers+markets?openform

Kensington Market (which is a neighbourhood filled w ethnic shops, and where Wanda's Pie in the Sky is now located), and St.Lawrence Market (our covered market) are also worth visiting, and would be open during the week!

Thanks! My husband went to uni at Ryerson, so we've definitely got trips to Kensington and St. Laurence scheduled, as they're two of his favourite places in Toronto. Kensington so I can fill my friends' cupboards with the best goodies from the one of the Chinese groceries there, and St. Laurence for raw milk cheese. And to visit the meat. Very interested in the Perth-based cheese, too. I have fond memories of driving up to my friend's cottage in Apsley and stopping in Perth for curd.

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As noted above, the Trinity Bellwoods farmers market is Tuesday from 3 - 7 pm and is about a two minute (or less) walk from Dundas and Ossington. It's pretty small though. Should be a bit more lively by the time you're in TO.

There's a couple of Ethiopean places on Queen a few blocks west of Ossington (Nunu and Addis Ababa). Not sure if either is open for lunch. There's a bunch spread out on Bloor west from Christie to Lansdowne. I think there's still one on College, just east of Bathurst. Again, I don't know whether they're open for lunch or not. There's one in Kensington market, and one on Irwin in the Yonge/Wellesely area.

Cheers,

Geoff

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And if you want to treat your hosts to dinner, or just want something in the neighbourhood try Boehmer on Ossington. Lots of local ingredients and the mixologist, Renata, is wonderful.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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And if you want to treat your hosts to dinner, or just want something in the neighbourhood try Boehmer on Ossington. Lots of local ingredients and the mixologist, Renata, is wonderful.

Lots of options on Ossington now.

I was going to mention Delux for lunch above but forgot - apparently the lunch menu swings a bit more to the chef's Cuban cuisine than at dinner. I have yet to try it (but this has reminded me that it is now open for lunch - might go tomorrow), and, it's on Ossington.

Cheers,

Geoff

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I was going to mention Delux for lunch above but forgot - apparently the lunch menu swings a bit more to the chef's Cuban cuisine than at dinner. I have yet to try it (but this has reminded me that it is now open for lunch - might go tomorrow), and, it's on Ossington

Mmm, Cuban cuisine sounds interesting. Do you know if it's near Ossington at Dundas?

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Yup - pretty much all the action on Ossington is in the area from Dundas down to Queen (the next major street).

There's a at least a half dozen restaurants worth considering in that strip (Delux, Bohmer, Tempo, Pizza Libreto, Paramour, the Vietnamese ones, and a couple more whose names escape me at the moment). And a tequila bar - Reposado - among another half dozen or more drinking spots.

The area west of there on Dundas has a few Portuguese joints, but I've never checked any of them out. There's also Lisbon by Night a few minutes walk east on Dundas. It's been there for ages, but again, I've never been.

You're also quite close to College St - the next major street north. there's a couple of Portuguese places on College not too far from Ossington. Cataplana and Chiado. Chiado is quite upscale and spendy, if you're looking for a splurge. Heading east from there gets you into "Little Italy" and probably a couple dozen Italian restos - along with a few other interesting things of possible interest, such as LAB which is a new place with a molecular gastronomy bent.

All of this is within a fifteen minute walk or so of Dundas and Ossington.

You'll have lots of options!

Should also mention that Black Hoof, Tempo, Libretto all don't take reservations and tend to have lineups.

Cheers,

Geoff

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At a guess, Black Hoof's menu changes about every 6-8 weeks or so, with some dishes rotating in and out. There was a horse heart and tongue dish there the previous week (really good) that wasn't there when I went with friends this past weekend. So, while I'm not sure how often it changes, it does get mixed up frequently enough.

If you go to The Hoof early (opening), you should be able to get a table no problems. If you have to wait, they'll send you across the street to their holding area, The Hoof Cafe. Drinks and snacks to be had there and popular in its own right.

foodpr0n.com 11/01/17: A map of macarons in Toronto // For free or for a fee - bring your bottle! corkagetoronto.com

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Ok, walked up Ossington today. Lunched at Libretto, which was almost full.

When I mentioned Tempo above, I meant Foxley - Tempo was the chef's old place (now gone) on College.

Union was the other place I couldn't remember the name of. Was open for lunch.

There's also Watusi, a new crepe place, Salt - which looks to be a wine bar with nibbles - may also be open by then.

Cheers,

Geoff

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The area west of there on Dundas has a few Portuguese joints, but I've never checked any of them out. There's also Lisbon by Night a few minutes walk east on Dundas. It's been there for ages, but again, I've never been.

You're also quite close to College St - the next major street north. there's a couple of Portuguese places on College not too far from Ossington. Cataplana and Chiado. Chiado is quite upscale and spendy, if you're looking for a splurge.

One of the best meals I had this year was in Macau, influenced by Portuguese cuisine. I've never had any "real" Portuguese food, but I'd like to try it - especially if there are any shops selling pasteis de nata.

Libretto sounds like it'll really appeal to my husband, who enjoys a nice Napoli-style pizza. Lots of options: no wonder our friends call their neighbourhood "hipster central".

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for all of your wonderful suggestions! I wish I'd had more meals in Toronto. We were handicapped by being jetlagged enough to screw with our appetites, which are usually prodigious, but we did our best.

We made it to The Hoof Cafe and Pho Linh, which were both spectacular, although in different ways.

We got the charcuterie ploughman's plate, the sausage and links, and some pork belly at the Hoof Cafe, which our friends had been wanting to visit, but who had always been stymied by queues at the weekend. We went on Monday at lunch, and got a table no problem. Informed service; succulent pork. Worth a visit. I wondered about a lack of menu aside from the chalkboard on the wall? They asked if we wanted drinks, but saw no other options presented other than the coffee. But later, we saw mimosas go out - perhaps we were meant to dialogue with our server? I'm sure if we hadn't been so jet-lagged, we would have sorted it out.

photo(15).JPG

Pho Linh was in a neighbourhood near a bookstore we had a plan to visit, so it worked out perfect for lunch one day. We were a bit late - around 1:30, which in Hanoi is right at the start of siesta, so usually a dodgy time to hit a restaurant. I got a little more worried as we walked up, as the surrounding pho restaurants on that street seemed empty. Pho Linh had their shades drawn against the heat, so I was cheered when we stepped in and the house was full. The pho was as good as any bowl I had in Hanoi, with the bonus of having even better quality beef. My husband and I both got bowls of pho bo tai, and then, to the great amusement of our server, a sinh to and a cafe sua da each. Hot soup and cold drinks was a recipe for messing with our stomach, but we dodged disaster, perhaps because it was so hot out, and we'd been doing so much walking. We also ordered some spring rolls - the ones pictured on the menu looked dry and unappetizing, but when they came they were appropriately crispy and sensibly sliced for ease of chopstick eating.

photo(16).JPG

We saw, but didn't visit Wanda's and Libretto, due to lack of appetite/time/other plans, so we're saving them for a future trip. We ate at the Lakeview the first night we got in, as it was the only thing in the neighbourhood left open. I cannot complain about the Vanilla-peanut butter shake I had; nor the poutine. Just the sort of food to land you solidly on Canadian soil.

Toronto is such a great eating city; I'd never get bored.

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  • 2 months later...

Has anyone been wowed in TO lately?

I recently tried Queen Margherita Pizza and South of Temperence. Found Queen Margherita Pizza to be fine, but much preferred the more contemporary/innovative type of pizza served at Buca.

Very underwhelmed by the food at South of Temperence, which seems to be more about scene than food or drink. Ordered the short rib sweet potato fry poutine (not good), the fish tacos (not traditional but the fish was fine,liked the jicama slaw, not sure why they would add cheddar to a fish taco), the seared ahi and avocado sandwich (which was welldone rather than seared)and an oversweet,not very tasty mojito.

Pleasantly surprised by a tart & fresh tasting mojito at Nota Bene, but found the food quite average (lobster salad, followed by the octopus/scallops, and a shared order of frites). This is my 3rd visit to NB, and all visits have been pretty much the same.

Had enjoyed the Wine Bar post JK two times in the spring and early summer, before Scott opened Beast. My visit last weekend was ok, but the food wasn't as tasty as what I experienced before Scott left. The frites were very average, more like chip wagon fries, the scallops were somewhat overcooked, the cheddar and apple salad contained no cheddar (which was brought in a cup after we notified the server), the fried calamari were ho-hum. I liked their current mushroom risotto, which was better than most I've ordered lately. The pavlova was sort of a deconstructed version- a flat meringue "cookie" served next to some sliced peaches and a spoonful of whip. Tasted fine, but I prefer the traditional approach. Our server was very attentive for the first hour, but was close to impossible to flag down in the last 20 minutes.

Have to say the best tasting meals I've had in TO lately have been downmarket meals- a hot chicken sandwich with onions, hot peppers and green peppers at California Sandwiches on Dufferin, and a Greek omelette at Detroit Eatery.

Edited by phoenikia (log)
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  • 3 months later...

You might have heard about a wall falling down in downtown Toronto a couple weeks back. Yeah well, that shut down a couple restaurants, including the popular Thai restaurant, Salad King. I manage their Linda website (and the temporary Salad King one too) and was told it would be closed for several weeks at least. Glad no one was hurt!

Anyone else got anything interesting to add or good eats recently?

For those who haven't heard - the entire building has burned down in what is apparently a case of arson.

They did mention on the news that Salad King is moving to new digs on Yonge St.

Black Hoofed last night with my buddy Dave who runs the Piggy Market in Ottawa. He came down pretty much just to try out the Black Hoof. I'm delighted to say he wasn't disappointed. We tried almost everything on the menu that didn't have nuts or come from the sea except the tongue and foie on brioche (2 separate dishes). We both thought the duck heart tartare was the highlight. In fact, we thought about ordering it again, but in the end we opted for bone marrow. Also had charcuterie, olives, pigs head tacos, glazed pig cheeks and I think that's it. They were all delicious.

Cheers,

Geoff

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Glad to hear Black Hoof is still a going concern. What's on their charcuterie plate these days?

I'm not going to remember it all. There was a duck prosciutto, a bison salami with blueberries, mortadella, a spicy (smoked paprika?) thingey, capicolla (maybe?), a smear of duck mousse and maybe one or two others.

Cheers,

Geoff

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Glad to hear Black Hoof is still a going concern. What's on their charcuterie plate these days?

I'm not going to remember it all. There was a duck prosciutto, a bison salami with blueberries, mortadella, a spicy (smoked paprika?) thingey, capicolla (maybe?), a smear of duck mousse and maybe one or two others.

Cheers,

Geoff

Oh, wow. Were the blueberries a part of the sausage? That sounds incredible. I've had water buffalo sausage, but never bison. And you can't go wrong with duck prosciutto.

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Glad to hear Black Hoof is still a going concern. What's on their charcuterie plate these days?

I'm not going to remember it all. There was a duck prosciutto, a bison salami with blueberries, mortadella, a spicy (smoked paprika?) thingey, capicolla (maybe?), a smear of duck mousse and maybe one or two others.

Cheers,

Geoff

Oh, wow. Were the blueberries a part of the sausage? That sounds incredible. I've had water buffalo sausage, but never bison. And you can't go wrong with duck prosciutto.

Yeah, the blueberries - I'd assume dried, were part of the salami. You could taste them, and it was very tasty indeed.

Cheers,

Geoff

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