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Restaurants

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The new downtown Pizzeria Libretto is almost a reality

Zagat Toronto spoke to Libretto co-owners Max Rimaldi and Rocco Agostino, who confirmed that the new downtown location—housed in a PATH-accessible office tower at 155 University Avenue—will open sometime in September. The new spot will be similar to the Ossington and Danforth locations, with a few decorative concessions to the area’s expense-account-wielding clientele. “Instead of vinyl seating it’ll be leather seating,” Agostino said. “Instead of barn board it will be refined wood.” The menu, however, will stay the same.

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Openings

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Introducing: Little Sister, a new Indonesian snack bar from the owners of Quince bistro

Introducing: Little Sister

Click to view gallery

Name: Little Sister
Contact Info: 2031 Yonge St., 416-488-2031, littlesistertoronto.com, @littlesisterto
Neighbourhood: Davisville Village
Previously: Lucca Fine Linens, a fancy home shop
Owners: Michael van de Winkel and Jennifer Gittins, who also own Quince Bistro
Chef: Michael van de Winkel

The Food: Chef van de Winkel grew up in Amsterdam and spent time working as a chef in the Dutch Navy. There, he learned to cook a colonial-era Indonesian meal called rijsttafel (Dutch for “rice table”). Years later, he continued the tradition in Toronto, where the colourful feasts were a huge draw at his midtown bistro, Quince. Now van de Winkel and co-owner Jennifer Gittens have moved the Dutch-Indo cuisine to a venue of its own. At Little Sister, the menu sticks mainly to the kind of snacks you can eat with your hands: croquettes, skewers and Indonesian-style rendang tacos.

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Food Shops

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Jellyfish gelato is available now on Queen West

Sweet Olenka, the Etobicoke chocolate shop turned Queen West pop-up, has broken away from the pack in Toronto’s race to to find the weirdest ice-cream flavour possible. According to the Star, owner Olenka Bazowski recently debuted a seafood-flavoured cone. Bazowski makes a jelly out of pulverized jellyfish and maple syrup, mixes it with miso-flavoured ice cream and then flash-freezes the blend, turning the jellyfish component into “sweet and crisp” beads. She ranks this particular experiment as “level 3 weird.” Scary to think what a five would be.

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Step by Step

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How do you make a fancy dish from dirt?

How do you make a fancy meal out of dirt?

Click to view gallery (Image: Jenna Marie Wakani)

Since it opened in 2012, Actinolite, a small restaurant on Ossington near Dupont, has evolved from a neighbourhood bistro into a high-concept tasting room. Chef and owner Justin Cournoyer makes biweekly foraging trips into the wilderness around Toronto, seeking out herbs, berries, lichen and, oddly enough, soil. Using an hours-long process developed by former sous chef Michael Lehmkuhl, Cournoyer distills the tastes and scents of the earth into butter, which he uses for the opening dish of his seven-course tasting menu. Here’s how he does it.

See how Actinolite cooks with dirt »

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Stat

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Toronto spent tons of money on food and drinks during the World Cup (Montreal, not so much)

38.42%

—The percentage that debit and credit card sales at Toronto restaurants, pubs and fast-food outlets increased during game time in the final week of the World Cup, at least according to data collected by electronic-payment processor Moneris Solutions. Montreal wasn’t quite so into it: over the course of the tournament, bar and restaurant sales there actually decreased, by 6.15%.

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Free Stuff

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PayPal wants to fund your morning coffee run for a week

CoffeeIt’s easy to get grumpy and confused about all the new payment-related apps out there (what’s wrong with old-fashioned debit?), but here’s a reason to consider downloading one in particular. PayPal Canada wants to give you $125 to spend at a bunch of Toronto coffee shops ($5 per person at 25 different downtown cafés until July 31). The only catch is that you have to download the free PayPal mobile app and “check in” to each shop in order to redeem the digital vouchers, which really isn’t such a huge hoop to leap through for free coffee and snacks. The list of participating places includes respected indie outfits like Fika in Kensington, Sense Appeal on Spadina and two different locations of Jimmy’s Coffee (you can see the full list here). Just think—if everyone in Toronto takes full advantage of the deal, that’s approximately $348,892,500 worth of free stuff.

July 21-31. Various locations, paypal.ca

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New Reviews

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Review: Pain Perdu nails the bistro basics

Introducing: Pain Perdu, a traditional French bistro in Lawrence Park
SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Pain Perdu 2 star
3185 Yonge St., 416-488-0081
Pain Perdu 2 star
3185 Yonge St., 416-488-0081

At his new north-end restaurant, a ­spin­off of the beloved Pain Perdu bakery, chef Evaristo De Andrade sticks to tradition and nails the bistro basics: moderately priced, simple French food in a warm setting. Buttery squid ink risotto is served with smoky grilled rings of tender calamari. Savoury French onion soup has deep layers of flavour, even if the onions could use a touch more caramelization.

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People

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Daniel Radcliffe really likes The Burger’s Priest

Daniel Radcliffe really likes The Burger's Priest

(Images: Daniel Radcliffe/Joella Marano; Burger: The Burger’s Priest)

At the red-carpet premiere of his new romantic comedy The F Word, which happened last night at the Scotiabank Theatre on Richmond Street, Daniel Radcliffe identified The Burger’s Priest as his favourite Toronto restaurant. (Or, possibly, the only one he’s eaten at? This isn’t the first time he’s spoken publicly about the place.) “In terms of places I like, Burger’s Priest, I just recommended it to somebody. Like, it’s amazing,” he told a reporter for Now. He was also quick to point out that he’s totally in the loop about the Priest’s well-publicized “secret” menu. When asked if he’d ever heard of it: “Yes, of course. What, you think I’m ordering off the normal menu? Come on!”

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Free Stuff

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Here’s where to score a free wiener tomorrow

(Image: Fancy Franks/Facebook)

(Image: Fancy Franks/Facebook)

National Hot Dog Day isn’t an officially sanctioned holiday, and it isn’t exactly “national” in scope, but it is an opportunity to eat free food. Tomorrow, July 23, College Street restaurant Fancy Franks will be giving away free hot dogs on its patio from noon to 7 p.m. What’s more, it’s for a good cause: proceeds from all non-wiener-related sales (e.g. drinks, merchandise) will be donated to SickKids Foundation. Owner Angelo Economopolous promises a festive atmosphere, including face-painting, cotton candy and a clown, as well as potential appearances from Olivia Chow, John Tory and Rob Ford (okay, two clowns).

July 23, 12-7. Fancy Franks, 326 College St., facebook.com

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Restaurants

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Cold Arts: 10 next-level ice creams and sorbets

Chefs are taking house-made ice creams and sorbets to new heights, goosing them with herbs, spices and savoury flavours to wildly delicious effect. Here, our picks for the city’s top 10 frozen desserts.

See all 10 desserts »

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Food Shops

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Another longtime Kensington butcher bites the dust

(Image: James Saper/Flickr)

(Image: James Saper/Flickr)

Anyone strolling through Kensington Market recently may have noticed a conspicuous lack of goat heads and sheep carcasses hanging in the window of Kensington Meats, the decades-old butcher shop at 63 Kensington Avenue. That’s because the little storefront—known for its low prices and dependable inventory of less-popular cuts (ears, testicles)—appears to have closed. It’s the second old-school market butcher to shut down in the past few years, the other being European Quality Meats and Sausages, which ended its 50-year run in 2012. Around that time, Kensington Meats owner Elizabeth Manso told the Grid that business had slowed, but that she hoped things would pick up. Apparently, that didn’t happen. With the shop’s closure, there are now just two dedicated meat sellers in the market: Segovia on Augusta (known for its expansive chorizo selection) and Sanagan’s, everyone’s favourite hipster butcher.

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Openings

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Introducing: Braised, a new Leslieville bistro from the owner of Lolita’s Lust

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Click to view gallery (Image: Caroline Aksich)

Name: Braised
Neighbourhood: Leslieville
Contact Info: 896 Queen St. E., 416-519-6280, braised.ca
Previously: Bistro 896, which lasted less than a year in the space
Owner: Sam Scanga, who also owns the Danforth stalwart Lolita’s Lust
Chef: Candace Chase (Trinity Taverna)

The Food: As the name implies, most of the food served at Braised undergoes some form of braising (i.e. searing, followed by simmering in liquid) before being plated. The menu veers toward traditional Euro fare (bruschetta, calamari, braised lamb shoulder), but chef Chase flexes her creative muscles with some less conventional dishes, like braised pork-cheek croquettes with cranberry coulis and tartar sauce.

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New Reviews

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Review: Ambitious menu but spotty execution at Farmer’s Daughter on Dupont

Farmer's Daughter

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Farmer’s Daughter 1 star½
1588 Dupont St., 416-546-0626
Farmer’s Daughter 1 star½
1588 Dupont St., 416-546-0626

Darcy MacDonell, the owner of the queue-drawing Farmhouse Tavern, has opened a low-budget room across the street to catch the overflow. The menu, created by Léonie Lilla, who previously worked at Daisho, delivers artfully composed ­seafood dishes that often sound more interesting than they taste.

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Openings

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Introducing: Pai, the new Thai clubhouse from Nuit and Jeff Regular

Name: Pai
Neighbourhood: King West
Contact Info: 18 Duncan St., 416-901-4724, paitoronto.com, @PaiToronto
Previously: A Golden Griddle
Owners: Sukhothai and Sabai Sabai owners Jeff and Nuit Regular, with Janet Zuccarini (who also owns Gusto 101)
Executive Chef: Nuit Regular

The Food: Thai food experts Nuit and Jeff Regular are slowly introducing Torontonians to Thailand’s full panoply of regional cuisines. They serve central-Thai food at Sukhothai, northeastern Isan cuisine at Sabai Sabai and now, at Pai, traditional dishes from the country’s far-northern tip, which is known for its particularly fragrant and spicy food. Options include a gingery gaeng hunglay curry with oxtail, a pork-and-offal salad, and a DIY papaya salad with salted crab. (The plates are served family-style, and eating with your hands is strongly encouraged.) A simpler menu of bite-sized snacks (e.g. pork rinds, mussels) is available at Bebop, the casual, all-day snack bar.

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Restaurants

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The Burger’s Priest is coming to Mississauga and Guelph

(Image: The Burger's Priest/Twitter)

(Image: The Burger’s Priest/Twitter)

Earlier this summer, The Burger’s Priest owner Shant Mardirosian promised that a new outlet would soon be opening in an undisclosed “university town,” which, as it turns out, was sort of a lie. In fact, The Priest will be landing in two new university towns: Mississauga and Guelph. The Mississauga location, which is scheduled to open in late July or early August, will be housed in a strip mall at 129 Lakeshore Road East, in Port Credit (about a 15-minute drive from U of T’s Mississauga campus). The precise coordinates of the Guelph shop are still under wraps, but it’s also expected to open by the end of next month. One small piece of advice for excited suburbanites: based on the lineups at the chain’s recent Etobicoke launch, it might be prudent to wait a day or two before attempting to feast at the Priest.

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