All stories by Caroline Aksich

The Dish

Restaurants

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Farmhouse Tavern is the latest Toronto restaurant to open a spin-off

(Image: Farmhouse Tavern/Facebook)

(Image: Farmhouse Tavern/Facebook)

Why have one great restaurant when you can have two? That seems to be the logic behind Toronto’s new run of culinary spin-offs. In just the last few months, Buca begot Bar Buca, The County General launched County Cocktail, and now Farmhouse Tavern, the Junction Triangle spot known for serving côte de boeuf on giant wooden slabs, is opening Farmer’s Daughter, a new eatery located just down the street at 1588 Dupont Street. Similar names aside, the new spot won’t have much in common with its progenitor. “There aren’t going to be any antiques, no chalk board, no knickknacks,” says owner Darcy MacDonell. The sleeker, more feminine decor will complement a very on-trend menu of light, seafood-focused dishes crafted by ex-Daishō and Libertine chef Leonie Lilla. The new spot opens in May—just in time to make good use of its roomy, 40-seat patio.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Tavern by Trevor, a new spot for brunch and bar snacks (deep-fried foie gras!)

Introducing: Tavern by Trevor
Name: Tavern by Trevor
Neighbourhood: Entertainment District
Contact Info: 147 Spadina Ave., 416-546-3447, tavernbytrevor.com, @tavernbytrevor
Owners: Mike “Yuker” Yaworski (owner of Wide Open) and Trevor Wilkinson, the man behind Trevor Kitchen and Bar on Wellington
Chef: Trevor Wilkinson

The Food: Wilkinson calls his food “new Canadian cuisine.” Menu-wise, that translates into over-the-top comfort dishes drawn from a bunch of different global cuisines: Japanese-inspired shrimp tempura, for instance, and Cajun po’boys, plus a handful of rejigged Canadian classics, like bison-and-pork tourtière and pork-belly poutine. In an extremely haute take on the jalapeño popper, hunks of foie gras are deep-fried and served with ice-wine grape jelly.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: S. Lefkowitz, Toronto’s first all-hummus restaurant from the owner of Ezra’s Pound

Introducing: S. Lefkowitz

Name: S. Lefkowitz
Neighbourhood: Trinity-Bellwoods
Contact Info: 913 Dundas St W., 647-346-8448
Owner: Ezra Braves, who closed the Dundas West location of his coffee shop Ezra’s Pound to open the hummuseria

The Food: At Toronto’s first hummuseria, the chickpea dip isn’t just an accoutrementit’s the star of the meal. Owner Ezra Braves blends re-hydrated organic chickpeas into a protein-packed dip, which he serves warm with pita bread. Plates of hummus come drizzled with olive oil and topped with things like braised beef, warm olives, boiled eggs or tahini, plus a dusting of harissa powder.

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The Dish

Coffee and Tea

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A new coffee shop brings fresh-baked croissants (and cheesy bacon rolls) to the Roncey strip

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

The savoury bacon bun from Extra Butter. (Image: Caroline Aksich)

For awhile it seemed like Roncey was in danger of losing its indie-coffeehouse cred, what with the recent closure of Alternative Grounds and the influx of corporate beverage behemoths, like David’s Tea and the much-maligned Timmy’s. Brand-new arrival Extra Butter hopes to prove that there’s still room for small business on the busy strip. “Extra Butter is a shop that the community made,” says co-owner Cassie Germann, who met her business partner, Ian McPhedran, while working down the street at Cherry Bomb. “If you ask for it, we’ll try to find it.”

The cozy shop, which takes its name from a luxuriously oily blend of Dark City coffee, has five tables and a cool, Art Deco aesthetic, with faux-tin wall tiles and a collection of covetable Italian vintage chairs. In addition to standard espresso beverages, the café turns out an enticing lineup of made-in-house pastries, including croissants, breakfast tarts and a savoury spin on the cinnamon roll, stuffed with bacon, cheese and maple-mustard sauce. Smoothies and sandwiches are in the works, as is the shop’s namesake beverage: an experimental coffee-and-coconut butter concoction that’s currently in the development phase.

Extra Butter, 283 Roncesvalles Ave., 647-340-7791, facebook.com

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: The Citizen, an unusually sophisticated sports bar in Brant House’s former digs

Introducing: The Citizen

Name: The Citizen
Neighbourhood: King West
Contact Info: 522 King St. W., 416-703-2800, thecitizento.com, @thecitizen_to
Owners: An anonymous cabal of investors
Chef: Amanda Walti, previously chef de cuisine at Origin on King Street

The Food: The menu breaks down into gussied-up bar snacksjalapeño croquettes with tarragon-ranch sauce, for instanceand fancified pub dishes, like a compressed cube of smoked mac ‘n’ cheese topped with quarter-inch-thick slabs of seared pork belly.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Starving Artist, the gourmet waffle house’s new St. Clair West location

Introducing: Starving Artist, the gourmet waffle house’s new St. Clair West location

Name: Starving Artist
Neighbourhood: Corso Italia
Contact Info: 1078 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-901-7079, starvingartistbar.com
Owner and chef: Bryan Jackson, owner of the original Starving Artist on Lansdowne Avenue. He also owns Kitch, the casual lounge at Dupont and Dufferin

The Food: “Everything is made of waffles, on waffles, between waffles or made in a waffle iron,” warns the restaurant’s menu in extra-large type. A handful of dishes are unique to the new location, including “waffle bacon”—i.e. strips of bacon baked into golden waffle fingers—and a fried-egg brunchwich sandwiched between two mini waffles. For dessert, the Split-This brings a waffle-encased banana topped with ice cream, whipped cream and strawberries.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Come and Get It, the Queen West pop-up’s new permanent digs

Introducing: Come and Get It

Name: Come And Get It
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Contact Info: 676 Queen St. W., 647-344-3416, comeandgetit.ca, @ComeAndGetIt416
Owners: Jon Polubiec (Mistura, Windsor Arms and Prego)
Chef: Adam Brown, who trained under Libretto chef Rocco Agostino at the Silver Spoon on Roncey

The Food: Fans of the pop-up will be happy to know their favourite full-size meals are still available for lunch. Like before, customers choose a flavour profile (e.g. mango jerk chicken, chipotle short rib) and then order it as a sandwich, a poutine, a salad or a naan wrap. At night, the restaurant transforms into a cocktail bar, and the same flavours are translated into snack-size skewers, sliders and mini-poutines.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Scaddabush, a 6,500-square-foot Italian restaurant in the Aura condos from the owners of Reds

Introducing: Scaddabush
Name: Scaddabush
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Contact Info: 382 Yonge St., 416-597-8838, scaddabush.com
Owners: SIR Corp, the same mega-corp that owns nearby Reds Midtown and Duke’s Refresher, as well as the first Scaddabush location in Mississauga
Executive Chef: Steve Silvestro

The Food: The simple Italian menu includes pizzas, house-made pastas, sandwiches and traditional appetizers, like calamari fritti and a caprese salad made with hand-stretched mozzarella. Half-pound beef meatballs come three ways: over spaghetti, on a bun or “straight-up,” with crostini and cheese sauce.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Grasshopper, a new vegan restaurant near U of T where nothing costs more than $10

Introducing: Grasshopper

Name: Grasshopper
Neighbourhood: University
Contact Info: 310 College St., 647-340-3666, grasshopperrestaurant.ca
Owners: Roy Qian and Oliver Chen
Chef: Roy Qian

The Food: The mostly vegan menu specializes in hearty comfort food—minus the meat, dairy and at least some of the grease. The lineup includes faux pork and “chick-un” banh mi sandwiches (made with seitan), four different veggie burgers and a meat-, dairy-, soy- and gluten-free mac ‘n’ cheese.

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The Dish

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Introducing: The Greek, a modern Mediterranean snack bar on King West

Introducing: The Greek

Name: The Greek
Neighbourhood: King West
Contact Info: 567 King St. W., thegreektoronto.com
Owners: Camp 4’s Gani Shqueir, Andrew Ullman and brother Michael Ullman, who co-owns nearby Bloke and 4th and EFS
Chef: Greg Bourolias

The Food: Unsurprisingly, The Greek specializes in freshly prepped Greek food, including salads, skewers, pitas and snacks. Greg Bourolias, the 23-year-old chef de cuisine, designed his menu to appeal to condo dwellers and 905 club hoppers alike. Both have been lining up for his deep-fried halloumi sticks and over-the-top Greek poutine, which comes loaded with slow-roasted pork and a creamy, feta-infused sauce. For dessert, little cups of extra-thick Greek yoghurt are drizzled with honey or house-made black cherry jam.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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The Chase: a bachelor discovers that $1.2 million isn’t enough for the house of his dreams

The Chase: a bachelor discovers that $1.2 million isn't enough for the house of his dreams

(Image: Erin Leydon)

The buyer: Bryan Ward, a 33-year-old product developer at an automotive and household goods manufacturer.

The story: After 10 years on Bayview north of Eglinton, Ward was fed up with the round-the-clock roadway din. His two-storey, 65-year-old house had also grown frumpy with age and was in need of a hefty cash injection. Ward wasn’t interested in living through a renovation, so he set a budget of $1.2 million and began his search for a modern, low-maintenance detached home. A year and a half later, the disillusioned bachelor realized that what he’d thought was a healthy budget wasn’t quite enough, and he started looking at semis. Finally, a luxuriously renovated Victorian caught his eye, and he quickly got over his fear of attachment.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Agave y Aguacate, a permanent reincarnation of the beloved Mexican food stall

Introducing: Agave y Aguacate

Name: Agave y Aguacate
Neighbourhood: Baldwin Village
Contact Info: 35 Baldwin St., 647-748-6448
Owners: Mexican-born chef Francisco Alejandri and furniture designer Keyvan Foroughi
Chef: Francisco Alejandri, who trained at Scaramouche, Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar and Chiado before launching the original Agave y Aguacate food stall in Kensington Market’s El Gordo food court

The Food: Inventive Mexican dishes, some of which will be familiar to fans of Alejandri’s now-defunct food stall (which celeb chef Anthony Bourdain once called “some of the most amazing Mexican takeout north of the borderany border.”) Current options include chicken tinga tostadas, flank steak salad and lengua de res—i.e. beef tongue in mole sauce. Lunch and brunch service will begin in the New Year.

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Introducing: The Carbon Bar, a massive Southern bistro on Queen East from the owners of Nota Bene

Introducing: Carbon Bar

Name: The Carbon Bar
Neighbourhood: Moss Park
Contact Info: 99 Queen St. E., 416-947-7000, thecarbonbar.ca
Owners: Yannick Bigourdan, David Lee and Franco Prevedello, the same trio behind Nota Bene on Queen West
Chef: Former Splendido chef David Lee, who is also the executive chef at Nota Bene

The Food: The contemporary American menu takes cues from Southern, Latin American and Texan cuisine. It’s divided into bar snacks, appetizers, sharing plates, “fixins” (i.e. sides) and wood-fired meats, which are slow-roasted in an actual wood fire pit. For 29 bucks, the Pit Master Platter brings beef brisket, pulled pork ssäm, jalapeño sausage and pork ribs, which have quartz-pink middles and heavily charred exteriors.

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Introducing: Wind Up Bird, a new café, restaurant and community hub from the owner of Yakitori Bar in Baldwin Village

Introducing: Wind Up Bird

Name: Wind Up Bird Café (the name alludes to the Murakami novel)
Neighbourhood: Harbord Village
Contact Info: 382 College St., @WindUpBirdCafe
Owners: Claudio Gaudio, Yumiko Kobayashi and Sang Kim, who also owns Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food Co., both in Baldwin Village
Chef: Yumiko Kobayashi

The Place: A café, restaurant and community hub that hosts a raft of food-related programs for kids and adults (Comfort Food for the Broken Hearted, for instance, is a singles club for chefs, writers and musicians).  The space is bright and cheery, with chartreuse booths and framed illustrations from popular kids’ books on the walls. There’s a small stage at the back for recitals, lectures and poetry readings.

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The Dish

Food Events

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10 deliciously festive (and just plain delicious) snacks from the Toronto Christmas Market

toronto-christmas-market-2013-intro

A bag of cinnamon-dusted beaver tails from The Beer Hall

There’s one place in Toronto that’s unabashedly keen for the holidays: the Toronto Christmas Market. Twinkling with thousands of lights and dotted with fire pits, the Distillery District’s annual cheer-fest is, well, cheery. There’s the dazzling, house-sized tree, the old-timey carrolers and the rows of wooden huts selling ornaments, tree-toppers and quaint stocking-stuffers like beeswax candles and matryoshka dolls. And then there’s the food. Snagging a table at nearby El Catrin may be a near-impossible feat, but the market stalls offer all the essentials for a make-your-own feast. We did some culinary reconnaissance (on the coldest day of the year, no less) to help you make a beeline for the best goodies. Here, the top 10 treats.

Toronto Christmas Market, Nov. 29–Dec.15, The Distillery Historic District, 55 Mill St., torontochristmasmarket.com

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