Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Torontarazzi

2009 May 19

Spotted (Monday 9 p.m.): Adam Giambrone, on the patio at Cafe Diplomatico, enjoying the Victoria Day holiday.

I ♥ Toronto pseudo-celebrities.

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The NY Times Does Toronto

2009 May 18

In yesterday’s Sunday edition of the New York Times, an article appeared fawning over the city of Toronto.

The featured journalist, Danny Lee, makes a few suspect claims (streetcars trolleys run like clockwork??), and he seems to be so enamoured with the West End (West Queen West/College/Ossington) that almost all his recommendations take you there.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty glowing review of our beloved city.  The only thing is, who is reading this?  I might guess that most people reading the Sunday NY Times would be more interested in cocktails in Yorkville than at Sweaty Betty’s.  But I digress.

What it all comes down to is that TZero is actually a great, interesting, diverse city that can be an attractive destination for people even from one of the greatest, most interesting and most diverse cities in the whole world.

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.

Superbanal

2009 February 28

As I sometimes like to mention, I work in a fancy restaurant that various celebrities, from A to Z-list, sporadically frequent.  Tonight, I played host to one Michael Cera – star of acclaimed television show (and future feature film) Arrested Development, as well as movies Juno, Superbad and Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist.

The Brampton native, with his friends and family, was pretty underwhelming.  He showed up in much-too-short skinnypants, and talked about things such as how he thought Slumdog Millionaire was cheesy, and (at length) how to correctly calculate a tip.

Seeing celebrities up close kind of ruins the magic for me.

PR-type by Day, Passionate Home Cook by Night

2009 January 27

My friend Amanda has a (relatively) new blog, mise en place, about cooking and eating in Toronto.

On a related note, Amanda and I share the passion for going out for breakfast.  Recently we discussed our favourite breakfast spots in the city, and her list was full of places I’d never been to.  Her #1 place was simply called B and was located in the Roncesvalles area.  B has sadly closed down.  Her other recommendations are still around, however.  I’ve already checked out the French bakery Le Gourmand (Queen/Spadina), and she also suggests Zoë’s Bakery Cafe (King West),and The Epicure Cafe (Queen West).

Happy eating!

Quote of the Day!

2008 November 21

“I threw my shoe at the car, and yelled ‘I am not a prostitute!'”

– my waitress this morning at Boom Breakfast & Co, recounting a typical morning in her neighbourhood of Parkdale.

Breakfast Crawl: Boom Breakfast & Co

2008 November 21

I haven’t done a breakfast review in a long time, although I still eat out in the morning on a pretty regular basis.  I’ve lived in Toronto for a while now, and I’ve learned which breakfast eateries are of high quality, which have convenient hours, and those whose prices keep me coming back.

Probably my most regular destination for breakfast in the city is Boom, which really excels in all the above categories.  Plus it’s right around the corner from my house (as well as at two other locations in the city – although I’ve only been to the original spot.)

The Boom website claims that it aims to offer an “eggceptional” customer experience every time you visit – and it does.  Boom operates in a comfortable diner setting with an open kitchen and an extremely friendly team of staff-members.  As I go there so frequently, the main servers as well as one of the cooks pretty much know me by name and most of the time remember exactly what I usually order.

Although they have a large and diverse menu of morning delights (many of which I’ve tried), I usually go for the regular 2 egg breakfast.  As with any respectable breakfast establishment, you can choose your eggs any style you’d like, you have the choice of the 3 normal (very high-quality) breakfast meats, and breakfasts feature excellent wedgie potatoes (or sweet potato fries), a few different choices of toast, and a roasted tomato garnish.  The breakfast I get also includes bottomless coffee (on weekdays), although most of the other things on the menu require you to pay an additional $2 for your brew.  Although I resort to the boring, regular meal, my roommate swears by the T.O.P.D. Special Sandwich and the Threesome.  They also do pretty great smoothies – my favourite being the Honey Bee (including blueberries, bananas, yogurt, and honey.)

There are some other noteworthy things about this place.  They always have a variety of current newspapers to read including varying combinations of the Toronto Star, NY Times, Globe & Mail, National Post, Now Weekly, and Eye Magazine.  The background music is always a great mix of oldies but goodies, and although there are some recurring songs, you’ll always hear something you don’t mind humming along to.  This  morning they played Lola, by The Kinks, which reminds me of one summer I was in high school for some reason.

The only thing I can really think of that isn’t ideal about this place is that with a normal breakfast you only get one slice of toast.  However, if you kindly ask for an extra slice, they will include it at no additional cost!

Boom also has a customer appreciation program where you get stamps for breakfasts and take-out coffee:  Buy 10, get one free.

This is pretty much as near as you can get to a perfect breakfast joint: local, good-value (breakfasts run $4-10), tasty, with friendly servers (especially one girl with platinum blond hair.)  Boom is also open for lunch.

Boom Breakfast & Co has 3 locations:
808 College Street, 1036 St. Claire Avenue West, and 174 Eglinton Avenue West.
The College Street location is open daily from 6am – 4pm, while the other 2 open at 7am.

The Blog I Wanted To Write

2008 March 14

This morning I came across a blog that I thought more than once about creating myself.  Oh well, just more proof that there’s not that much original stuff left to do.

Click here to check out Breakfast in the City, which reviews and comments on just about any breakfast place in TO.

Medium crab bisque, hold the Nazi

2007 October 12

Today I went for lunch at this great little takeout spot on Ossington: Le Bar à Soupe.

lebarsoupe-customsize_158168.jpg

This place is kind of like the restaurant from the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld, execpt for the fact that the staff was pleasant – quite pleasant, in fact.  First of all, it’s takeout only – they have some wicker chairs by the window that you can use, but they don’t have the means (ie silverware and flatware) for people to legitimately dine in.  This led to the one beef I had with the place, and I’ll just get it out of the way right now – the soup is served in styrofoam.  Keeps the soup hot, sure, but bad for the enviro.  That being said, the good far outweighs the bad.  The format of this joint is a rotation of soups so that three are offered each day: one with meat or seafood, one vegetarian, and one vegan.  Today I had the black bean soup (veggie) which included crispy chips and a thick slice of bread.  At first I thought the consistency seemed a bit thin, but after tasting it I realized that it was just right.  A dollop of fresh cream and some cheese floating on top finished this delicious meal off really nicely.  Another thing that’s great about this place is its location.  It happens to be in very close proximity to my home, and brightens up the blooming Ossington food strip.

Here is the weekly menu, for the month of October 2007.  One can only assume that it will change, at least slightly, on a monthly basis:

Monday:
Chicken with corn and red pepper
Butternut squash bisque (vegetarian)
Leek & thyme (vegan)

Tuesday:
Meatballs & rice in tomato broth
Creame of potato with Cantal cheese (vegetarian)
Curried carrot & apple (vegan)

Wednesday:
Cream of lentil with french white sausage
Vanilla cream with spiced bread (sweet – vegetarian)
Broad beans, leek & carrot (vegan)

Thursday:
Hongarian goulash (beef)
Curried wheat with green peas & mimolette (cheese) (vegetarian)
Mushroom & celery with garlic (vegan)

Friday:
Manhattan clam chowder
Black beans with crispy tortillas (vegetarian)
Caramelized apple with cider (sweet – vegan)

Saturday:
White beans & sausage
Tomato & blue cheese with basil (vegetarian)
Pear simmered in BEaujolais with spices (sweet – vegan)

12 oz: $3.75|16 oz: $4.50|20 oz: $5.25|32 oz: $7.75 (all + taxes)

Le Bar à Soupe is located at 164 Ossington Avenue (2 blocks south of Dundas), and is open Monday to Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: noon to 7 p.m.  Closed Sunday, holidays.  416.533.9825

Quote of the Day!

2007 October 11

Man (alone, reading newspaper, and speaking to me and the woman next to me out of the blue): “Even the damn Bikers are suing these days, when they get shot.”
Woman: “It’s a free country.”