BAR ISABEL: Small Plates, Big Flavours
416 532 2222 | $5-21 Sharing Plates | 797 College St A restaurant heavily-inspired by a trip to Spain, France and Italy from two former head chefs at Black Hoof with an ingredient-first approach and an emphasis on simple, delicious sharing plates…how could this not interest you? Clearly, this place needed to be tried, so I went with five hungry friends to taste as...
ELECTRIC MUD BBQ: Another electric success
416 516 8286 | $10-14 Sharing Plates | 5 Brock Ave (special thanks to kiki’s BFF for the menu shot) I don’t usually come this far west, but St. Patty’s day seemed like a suitable occasion to venture to Electric Mud. I would have been here sooner or later given my healthy appreciation for its sister restaurant Grand Electric, but some pretty unanimous early...
HAWTHORNE: Not The Dinner I Had Hoped For
647 930 9517 | $16-28 Mains | 60 Richmond St E After having gone to one of Rose & Sons first dinner services, I started to develop a tendency to try out other restaurants making their supper time debut. Hawthorne had been very popular for the lunch crowd over the past few weeks and was just beginning to offer a new menu in the evenings, so I decided to drop in with a...
ROSE & SONS: Hell of a Second Service
647 748 3287 | $15-25 Mains | 176 Dupont St. So by now, I think it’s already pretty evident I had an amazing meal at Rose & Sons. This new comfort food restaurant from Anthony Rose, formerly of The Drake, is the first of three new openings he’s planning over the next little while, and if Rose & Sons is any indication of their eventual quality, this...
JABISTRO: Ambitious concept, awkward delivery
647 748 0222 | $16-55 Sushi, $7-18 Bistro By all indications, the people behind Guu can do no wrong in this city. The first location (Izakaya) is still ultra-frequented, the second location (Sakabar) appears successful, and their recent foray into ramen (Kinton) is a prime contender for the best and busiest noodle joint in the city. All this said, their most recent opening is...
HAPA IZAKAYA: Fresh Fish Steals Show
647 748 4272 | $5-13 Small Plates I’ve read some polarizing things about Hapa thus far. Before it opened, people lauded it as another hiqh quality izakaya in the mold of Guu, but more recent opinions have labeled it more pedestrian and used the dreaded word: ‘fusion’. I decided to drop-in anyways and give it a shot. Food The menu is basically split into...
SANSOTEI RAMEN: Go Early, Leave Happy
647 476 3833 | $9 Bowls + Extras It’s noon, your office is freezing, you have a ton of noodle options around, but you want THE bowl of noodles. You turn to a coworker, your go-to-foodie, looking for a nugget of wisdom. She tells you, “if it’s ramen you crave, Sansotei’s the place”. Jovial with this surefire recommendation, you race to the...
MOMOFUKU NOODLE BAR: More than ramen
647 253 8000 | $12-16 Bowls Having already reviewed (and enjoyed) Daisho, it was only natural that I stop in to Noodle Bar to sample what continues to draw lines of folks outside the Shangri-La hotel. We ended up waiting about 20 minutes on a Friday - not bad - and got to sample a few things off the menu. I won’t call this a complete review since we just didn’t...
RICHMOND STATION: Subway Oughta Stop Here
647 748 1444 | $21-$26 Mains Did you watch Top Chef Canada Season 2? If so, you’re pretty familiar with Chef Carl Heinrich’s style: well-executed, comforting, and far-from-convoluted. This rings true at Richmond Station, the newly opened project from Chef Heinrich and partner Ryan Donovan, both former faces of Marben (another favourite of mine). Opening only about...
STRADA241: Italy in China
647 351 1200 | $12-$17 Pizza & Pasta Haven’t heard of Strada241? Neither had I ten minutes before I decided to go check it out. The Rubino brothers, of Rain and Ame, opened this spot up in the center of Chinatown last week, and I happened to spot it on Toronto Life. It was close to work and I was in the mood for pizza, so naturally I walked over with a couple...
MOMOFUKU DAISHO: Fam Style Gets Progressive
647 253 8000 | $6-16 Small Plates, $23-27 Mains Momofuku fever has hit Toronto pretty hard since its much-anticipated openings over the past week. Noodle bar gets mobbed at lunch daily and I’ve heard it’s been tough to get a reservation at Daisho or Shoto. Thankfully, I managed to scoop up a table for 4 and invited a few friends to taste the creations of David...
WESLODGE: Potential Behind The Yellow Doors
416 274 8766 | $17-34 Mains Does King West have enough restaurants? Yes. Does it have enough good restaurants? Debatable. East of Spadina? There’s serious room for improvement. While Weslodge isn’t precisely east of Spadina, it’s close enough to get folks who work downtown excited. I kept hearing people say they wanted to try the place with ‘the big...
GUU IZAKAYA: Always reliable Japatapas
416 977 0999 | $3.50 - $9.80 Small Plates I’ll start by saying this review is way overdue given that I’ve written almost 70 of these since last September. If you’re a reader of the blog, chances are you’ve already been to Guu because it’s massively popular and has been since it opened in 2009. I’d been a couple times before, but finally got...
VERTICAL: Banker bar...with chops?
416 214 2252 | $19-25 Pasta/Risotto, $25-50 Mains Eating in the financial district during weekdays is usually an exercise in banker avoidance. When the business model is built around alcohol sales on the patio, it’s hard to find somewhere that puts great emphasis on food. I was skeptical about Vertical for this very reason, but I think it’s safe to say you can eat...
WINE BAR: Not bad for a forgotten destination
416 504 9463 | $5-$16 “Tapas” So to be completely honest, I didn’t know much about Wine Bar before deciding to go there. Upon further inspection, it was once a celebrated Jamie Kennedy restaurant and also home of Scott Vivian (now of Beast). Today, there’s very little buzz about the place, but it’s conveniently located near Union so I managed to...
BARQUE: More than a BBQ sweetspot
416 532 7700 | $24 Sample for One, $42 Sampler for Two I’m admittedly a little late on the Roncy bandwagon. This was my first restaurant visit out on the west side and I’m happy I took the trip. There are a few supposedly good options including Hopgood’s Foodliner, The Ace, and The Westerly, but Barque felt most summery and frankly the dinner menu literally...
BAR HOP: Where 99 beers happens
647 352 7476 | $10 - $22 Mains Where in the city can you find a beer menu like this? I counted 99 on the menu online and found several of my favourites including Schneider Weisse. I’m truly a sucker for wheat beer and it looked like some effort was being put in to avoid settling at mediocre ‘pub food’. For those reasons and more, I dropped by this spot just...
LAMESA: Contemporary Filipino Tasting
647 346 2377 | $35 Five-Course Tasting I was immediately drawn to the concept at Lamesa for two reasons: it’s a five-course tasting that changes nightly for $35 (win!) and it’s rooted in Filipino cuisine, an under-represented food culture in the Toronto restaurant scene. That was all I needed to know, so I grabbed a group of eight friends and ventured over to the...
ND SUSHI: Look past the sign
416 551 6362 | $3-$12 lunch rolls, $9-$19 boxes I’ve eaten a lot on Baldwin Street. Having tried almost every spot of interest, you start wondering about places of no interest at all. My coworkers and I have consistently walked past ND for one reason: the sign yells everything but “we have excellent Japanese cuisine!”. We’d walk down the street to...
EDULIS: Western Europeish on Niagara
416 703 4222 | $9-$32 sharing plates Niagara Street Cafe occupied this same spot just off King West for years, but as of about a month ago, it was reborn as Edulis. What does Edulis mean you ask? It’s a type of porcini mushroom. Who knew? Learn something every day! The new menu caught my eye, so I decided to bring eight friends to descend upon the restaurant and chow...
HAWKER BAR: More punch and slow down please
647 343 4698 | $6-$9 Snacks, $9-$12 Plates Fun new concept: Someone tells you there’s a new spot opening up serving Singaporean street food! Sounds really interesting right? We thought so. For a little Dish Duel reunion, Stella, Amy, Jess and I met up at Hawker Bar in hopes of getting through the vast majority of the menu. We succeeded…in record time too. Read...
F'AMELIA: Outstanding meal in Cabbagetown
416 323 0666 | $12-$15 Pizza and Pasta I’d read a little bit about F’Amelia late in 2011, but admittedly forgot about it until this spring. I tried recruiting them for Dish Duel at that time because I’d read positive reviews, but again things didn’t work out. My most recent exposure was Toronto Life putting them into 2011’s top new restaurants,...
GUSTO101: Decent Italian 101
416 504 9669 | $12-$15 Pizza and Pasta I’ll be the first one to admit I’m wary of ‘trendy’ new Italian restaurants in King West. As the area gets more and more saturated with restaurants, I get increasingly skeptical. A friend of mine said she’d enjoyed her last visit, so I brought of bunch of friends to check it out on a Friday night. Photo...
MANPUKU - It's IN the Grange?
416 979 6763 | $2-$12 dishes I eat in the The Village by the Grange at Dundas and McCaul pretty frequently. If you’ve never been, the food court inside this ‘mall’ is full of independent vendors serving mostly ethnic-specific foods and very few chains. What I learned recently is that there’s actually a sit-down Japanese restaurant inside called Manpuku...
THE GROVE: Wows and early kinks
416 588 2299 | $20-$26 Entrees It’s been a few weeks now since The Grove opened up in the increasingly competitive Dundas West strip, and I decided it was about time I dropped in for what appeared to be some delicious British delights. The buzz from chefs in the area and some folks who beat me to the punch had been exceedingly positive, so my expectations were high....
JUMBO EMPANADAS: Want more corn pie!
416 977 0056 | $4.50 empanadas, $8.50 corn pie I had never heard of this spot in Kensington Market until today…probably because I’ve yet to really wander around here until today (shameful, I know). If you’re looking for a frame of reference, it’s across from Agave y Aguacate supposing you know where that is. We almost went there until a friend of mine...
BANH MI BOYS: Worth the wait if you're craving
firstname.lastname@example.org | $5 - $8 sandwiches I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard someone mention Banh Mi Boys over the last month or so. It opened in December 2011, but has been closed for the past couple months for renovations. Post-reopening, lines have characterized the lunch hour here at Spadina and Queen West as people hustle to get their hands on some long-awaited banh...
BIFF'S BISTRO: Another O&B spot disappoints
416-860 0086 | $16 - $36 mains I’ve talked a bit about being disappointed with O&B restaurants because my first time at each of them always seems to be underwhelming. I find the service is always good, the selection seems appealing and the spaces are beautiful…the only problem is I never really like the food. Luma had changed my mind a bit after returning...
FOXLEY: First four-star, want it all over again
416-534 8520 | $5.00 - $22.00 sharing plates If you’re a foodie in Toronto, it’s kind of embarrassing not to have dined at Foxley. All your foodie friends have told you it’s awesome, you’ve heard chefs say it’s awesome, it’s been there for years, but for some reason you STILL haven’t gone. I was just like you, but now I’m not....
SLICED: Tasty but I'm still hungry
416-971 4000 | $4.75 - $12.75 full sandwich square When I first heard there’d be a new gourmet sandwich shop opening up close to work that served Ravi Soups, I had to walk over that very same day. I love Ravi Soups and wanted a second location as close to me as possible, this was the next best thing. Check out my thoughts below. Food So the shop concept is that nearly...
LOIRE: Showcase dish and more
416-850 8330 | $21-28 mains Before heading over to Loire, I’d only heard vague details about it, not nearly enough to make it a must visit. All thanks to Dish Duel, I had my eyes opened to this great bistro on Harbord that I’m sure to revisit. Photo Credit: Food Junkie Chronicles Food Chef Dupoire’s menu is 15 dishes deep and not necessarily as traditional...
DON DON IZAYAKA: Run run from the kimchi
416-492 5292 | Ton of variety, can eat cheap or not If you’ve ever been to Guu Izayaka, you’ve wished there was more than two locations in the TO area (wish I’d had this blog when I ate there). No one’s really come up with something as potentially captivating, until Don Don came along with promises of awesome izayaka. Was it? Keep reading to find out. ...
BRUDA: Decent, but no wows until dessert
416-927 0222 | $16-24 mains I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Bruda unless you’re an avid reader of Toronto Life or following Dish Duel. This place just opened at the end of last year and is still relatively unknown in the Little Italy area. The ‘European’ menu looked interesting to me, invited them to participate in Dish Duel, and next thing you...
GEORGE: Clean, refined, and holy chocolate
416-863 6006 | $19-28 per course (reco 3 courses) When you talk fine dining in Toronto, inevitably George comes up in the conversation. It’s been a staple in the scene since 2004 and you don’t see very many reviews/mentions anymore, but trust that this place is still humming. As part of our Dish Duel tasting, we took a stroll over to see what George is all about. ...
ARIA: Stunning style and snapper to match
416-363 2742 | $16-22 pasta, $27-38 pesci, $35-47 carni Chances are, unless you’ve been to the ACC in the last little while, you’ve never heard of Aria. And even if you were in the area, you probably didn’t know much about this shining jewel across the street from the Real Sports Bar. Yes, it’s almost intimidatingly good-looking from the outside, but...
CAVA: My new favourite spot
416-979 9918 | $3.25 - $22 tapas, $32 paella Over the last few months I’ve really been meaning to head up to St. Clair and visit Cava. This is definitely a destination restaurant because you’ll NEVER find it by wandering by. It’s tucked in a little strip mall just north of the intersection: you need to be looking to locate it. My friend suggested it a few...
ACADIA: Elevating without taking the soul out
416-792 6002 | $16-26 mains To say there’s a lot of buzz for Acadia would be a gross understatement. Chef Matt Blondin and the staff have received a ton of critical acclaim over the course of its first year and the concept is unique enough to distinguish it from the increasingly crowded new TO resto scene. Thankfully, they put their hand up for Dish Duel, and I had the...
L.A.B: Quirky menu both subtle and bold
UPDATE: Unfortunately LAB closed in March 2012. Rest in peace! 416-551-5025 | $19-22 primi, $22-34 secondi Ever since I heard Toronto had it’s own take on wd50, I wanted to check out L.A.B. (stands for Live and Breathe) on College just west of Bathurst. Was glad to make it one of my first stops on the Dish Duel tasting schedule. Food The menu at LAB is not quite as...
TUTTI MATTI: Elevated, not entirely successful
416-597-8839 | $21-23 primi, $24-30 secondi Guess I’m on a bit of Italian streak recently, but seeing as there’s so many in this city can you really blame me. Was looking for somewhere in the entertainment district, that wasn’t sitting on King across from Lightbox, and wasn’t doing Winterlicious. Tutti’s just one block up on Adelaide near Spadina, so that fit the bill for me and a...
ENOTECA SOCIALE: Would reco, not rave
416-534-1200 | $13-21 pasta Along with Buca, a lot of folks would claim this as one of the best and most authentic Italian restaurants in the city. Having had way too many people ask me about my experience here (non-existent), it was time to head over and get a good sampling. Food The menu is composed of two main sections: sharing plates and pastas. Food is roman-inspired, very...
ST. LAWRENCE MARKET: Pies and Tarts
So this clearly isn’t a restaurant review, but instead a post about one of the cooking classes I recently attended at Toronto’s awesome St. Lawrence Market (seen in all it’s glory below). The view from the Miele Market Kitchen where class takes place. The Pies and Tarts class was one of the Saturday classes from 12:00-3:00pm, so what better activity than to browse through...
HARLEM: Couldn't get into it
416-368-1920 | $16-23 mains I’d heard some good things about Harlem, and hadn’t really had any riffs on ‘soul food’ before. Figured this would be a good spot. Photo Credit: Food Junkie Chronicles Food The CD shaped menu lists a variety of starters and mains, many of which actually sound tasty. Most items have a southern/cajun spin on them. Was especially...
416-979-1990 | $13-29 ‘mains’ Yes, I know the title is cheesy and ridiculous, but I really really like this place. I went for my birthday a few months back and everything I tasted made me smile like a complete goof. Having finally returned, I’m happy to write this review and spread word about this spot you aren’t likely to walk into unless you know it’s...
OSTERIA CICERI E TRIA: Classic and simple
416-504-1992 | $12-30 entrees Visited Bettola, its conjoined semi-twin earlier in the year and decided to give the Osteria try…just to say I’d been to both. Classic and simple is how I’d describe it. Food Here’s what I wrote for Bettola below. I’d write this paragraph again for Osteria almost verbatim: “Menu reads like a run-through of Italian...
FRANK: Don't forget about this place
416-979-6688 | $16 -$24 lunch mains As far as good restaurants go in Toronto, I feel like people forget this place exists at the AGO. People know about C5 in the ROM, but otherwise the fact it’s in a museum seems to hide it a bit. Been meaning to stop by the Frank Gehry-designed spot, found a good reason to, and off we went. Photo Credit: Lost at A Minor Food The Frank...
BUCA: Maybe my best meal of the year
416-865-1600 | $21 -$70+ mains I’d be very surprised if you haven’t heard of Buca yet. The Jamie Oliver tweet, the constant praise, the mysterious alleyway on King West. I’m embarrassed to say yesterday was my first time, but having lost my Buca virginity, here’s my lengthy take on the experience. Right side photo credit: Ian Mile Design Food You’ll...
DT Bistro: Oh Christmas Tree...
416-916-8155 | $14 -$26 mains Friend of mine who lives nearby has been telling about this place for months. Was a little far north for me, but with a car at our disposal, a friend and I headed over to taste dessert and more. Photo Credit: DTbistro.com Food The menu shows that this place isn’t just about desserts. Some quality pasta dishes, mains with duck, ribs,...
SWISH BY HAN: Rimmed out by Han
647-343-0268 | $7 -$30 Dishes Have walked by this place a few times and thought the menu looked pretty encouraging. I have yet to go for Korean downtown outside of some of the chains, so I was excited about this spot. Food The menu is split into dishes (sharing plates), and different ‘sets’ that either come cooked (ssam) or are self-prepared on a table top BBQ or...
PARAMOUNT: Not quite
416-366-3600 | $8.49 -$16.99 Mains I’ve heard a lot of good things about Paramount in the past couple months and hadn’t stopped in until a friend brought me there for lunch today. I’ll say that I didn’t hear anything specific about it, just that it was good. Some things were great, but I admit I’m a bit disappointed. Video credit: Paramount Website ...
RAVI SOUPS: Much better than it sounds
647-435-8365 | $7.99 -$10.99 Soups and Wraps Been giving a lot of three-star ratings recently, which is a credit to a lot of the food in this city. Who knew an awesome soup and wrap place was literally beside Khao San Road? It doesn’t have a ton of curb appeal as you’re walking by, but you’re missing out if you’ve never walked in. Wasn’t going to review...