Archive for the ‘Kensington Market’ Category

Breakfast Crawl: La Palette

2009 March 9

La Palette is unassumingly located at the northern border of Kensington market, where one might not expect to find a classic French bistro.  It’s not fancy, but the food is great and the atmosphere is very charming.

Apparently this place is a gem of a dining location, offering a small wine list full of great values and delicious and authentic French cuisine.  I’ve only been there for brunch, and for that it’s proved to be pretty great.

On my first visit I opted for the croque madame, which was savoury and delicate.  It quite a while ago though, so I’ll focus on my more recent experience.  This weekend I went for the Omelette La Palette – with brie, roasted peppers, and something else that I can’t recall.  The omelette was not the best one I’ve ever had (plus I rarely opt for an omelette at brunch anyway.)  It seemed to be made with about 2 eggs and was not overwhelmingly filled up with stuff – hence me not even remembering what was in it.  My date, however, had the Pain Farci – thick challah French toast stuffed with fresh berries and mascarpone.  It looked amazing, and based on her enthusiasm tasted as much.  Additionally we had the grilled camembert as a first course (a multi-course brunch, whodathunkit?) which was a great starter.  It was served with grapes and an apple coleslaw.  Mmmm.  The coffee was also good, although not included in the price of breakfast which is a big pet peeve of mine.

On the service side of things, the Garçon was very nice and was patient as we spent about half an hour sort of talking and sort of deciding what we were going to have.  He basically told us we could wave him over when we were ready, but he would be by occasionally to fill up our coffees and waters in any case.

The décor is kinda fancy-French-restaurant and kinda Kensington.  Our colourful tablecloth was well-worn but beautiful, which I guess could act as a metaphor for the market or anything therein.  Additionally, there are a bunch of really beautiful French cookbooks lining the place which we flipped through while finishing up our meal.  There’s also a nice little patio that’s open in appropriate weather.

All in all, La Palette is a nice brunch location that I’ll return to, but not every weekend.  It’s a tad pricy and there are a lot of breakfast spots that I love which are closer to my house.  They do have good food and the atmosphere is very enjoyable.

La Palette is located at 256 Augusta Avenue, just south of College Street.  It’s open for brunch Saturday and Sunday only from 11 – 4.  If you need to call the restaurant for some reason (i.e. a dinner reservation) you can reach them at 416.929.4900.

Paging Dr. Wembley

2008 June 5

I was browsing around Kensington Market this afternoon. As I walked into Exile (20 Kensington Avenue), the lovely salesgirl looked at me and giggled. When I asked what it was, she said that after the last time I had come in the store (3 weeks ago, I was looking for some surgical scrubs for my medical party) she and her co-workers had decided that I was a soap opera star. I thought she meant that I resembled an actor on General Hospital or something, but when I queried as to who it was she said, “No – we created a fake persona for you.” Apparently they called me Dr. Kendall Wembley, and then made up a brief but detailed backstory for my character. As it goes, I am currently in a coma, and my twin brother has just arrived on the scene (also played by me) who may or may not actually be my twin sister. Whew!

I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or frightened.

Hey Apathy!

2008 April 28

Mike Parsons is a local artist who works mostly in black ink with bamboo pens.  His work has been showcased at OCAD, and can often be seen around Kensington Market (specifically at the Kensington Mall.) 

I bought a copy of this print today for $15.  It conjures up an image of what Toronto’s downtown core may have looked like tomorrow had the Ontario government not ordered striking TTC workers back to their posts.

Another reason to love Kensington

2007 October 1

While shopping through Kensington Market on Sunday, I came across the most adorable thing:  Jesse & Mimi, the kids of some guy having a yard sale, were selling hand-drawn portraits of anyone willing to sit still for about 5 minutes.  Cost = $1!  What a deal, and what a great idea!  Not only is this a way better score for the customer than a crappy cup of lemonade, but the kids probably made a tonne of cash on tips alone.  I really wanted to get my portrait done, but there was a bunch of people already waiting in line and it was towards the end of the afternoon.  I’m willing to bet that Jesse & Mimi have really great parents; they encourage their kids’ entrepreneurial spirit and also their creativity.  I really wish I had one of the drawings to post here.  If anyone happens to have one of these gems please send it to me so I can showcase it!

Motorist Vs Courier

2007 August 14

I just found this photo essay on a blog called Citynoise, dating back to January 26, 2006. This is freaking amazing (which is why close to half a million people have looked at it.)

Here’s what the photographer, Hool, wrote about the lead up to this crazy altercation . . .

i did not see the beginning of this, but the report goes as follows:
motorist throws food out of window. courier, disliking littering, picks up food and throws food back in car. motorist dumps coffee on courier. courier scratches car with key. road rage ensues.

the courier is female. i ‘got away’ with taking pics by just doing it openly. nobody noticed me because the focus is obviously on the altercation at hand.

i followed the motorist back to his car to photograph his license plate number. he proceeded to open his trunk, take out a baseball bat, and charge me. i walked away, and was one of only two witnesses to stay at the scene and give a statement to police.


Does this annoy anyone else as much as it does me?

2007 July 18


A statue at the entrance to Kensington Market, on Dundas Street.  What exactly is it supposed to mean/represent?

Breakfast Crawl: Mars Restaurant

2007 July 18


Going out for breakfast is really one of my passions.  I love the general consistancy of the breakfast meal – I can go pretty much anywhere to get my eggs and breakfast meat, and it’s the minor details that make the experience range from lackluster to superfantastic.  Having lived in Montréal (in my opinion, the world’s best breakfast destination) for 4 years, I have high expectations.  I also lived in Kingston for a year, a city which claims to have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in North America. I went out for breakfast a lot while I was there last year, and I was pretty sad to leave after compiling a list of great places to recover from a hangover. That being said, after living here for only a couple of months, I’ve found Toronto to be more of a weekend brunch type of place than a breakfast city. I have had some good morning meals so far, but it’s hard to find places to go, as a lot of restaurants aren’t even open in the a.m.  This morning I went for a walk, not really intending on going out to eat. Before I knew it though, I found myself in front of Mars Restaurant – a place I’d passed many a time. Located just to the East of College/Bathurst, Mars claims to have “out of this world” food, and all-day breakfast. Today I just couldn’t resist. The “greasy spoon” is really a sub-genre of breakfast establishments. Some people who love going out for breakfast hate greasy spoons. I happen to love them. They usually have delicious food, pleasant (or pleasantly snarky) staff, and, most importantly, cheap prices.  Mars measured up in all of these catergories.  The decor was classic diner-style, and since alone, I opted to sit at the bar.  I loved watching the waitress take my order, and then yell it to the cook, who was standing about 3 feet away.  In this case, I had a pleasant server, and the only snarkiness was from the chef when I tried to start up a conversation with him while he was cooking.  I settled for the complementary newspaper instead of conversation.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could have my eggs poached as well as choose rye toast.  Often those options are too “specialty” for some low-budg places.  The food turned out to be great, and my bill (including a bottomless cup of coffee) rang in at $5.77.  Not bad at all.  I’ll definitely keep this place in my rotation.  It’s not one of those places that you rave to people about, but it’s a great local staple (having been established sometime in the early ’50s) that will always be there when you it need to greet the weary-morning-you any day of the week.

Mars Restaurant is located at 432 College Street, and is open 7 days a week from 7 a.m.