Toronto Life - The Dish

The latest buzz on restaurants, chefs, bars, food shops and food events. Sign up for the Dish newsletter for weekly updates. Send tips to thedish@torontolife.com

The Dish

Restaurants

Comments

The Bristol Yard is closing (and then reopening, with a new menu)

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

In the great British gastropub wave of 2012, The Bristol Yard stood out as one of the best—especially at brunch on weekends, when cozy Cumberland sausages and egg-stuffed breakfast pies were a welcome change from standard eggs benny. Now the Christie Pits pub is closing. “We loved this location and we loved being in the community here,” owner Davy Love wrote on the restaurant Facebook page. “Unfortunately we just outgrew this spot and are now planning something much bigger with a few added ‘twists’ in another area of Toronto.” According to Now, that “something much bigger” is a new restaurant called Bristol and Bombay, a pub and curry house with the same brunch menu as the original Christie spot, plus a lineup of spicy vindaloos and other authentic Indian curries (the location is still unconfirmed). Love’s timeline definitely seems ambitious: he serves his final brunch at the Yard on May 4 and plans to welcome people to his new digs in time for the World Cup on June 12.

The Dish

Food Shops

1 Comment

More details emerge about Mark McEwan’s new downtown food shop

(Image: Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic)

(Image: Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic)

In February, we reported that local celebrichef Mark McEwan was opening a downtown version of McEwan’s, his swanky Don Mills grocery store. At the time, we knew it would be somewhere in the financial core, but we didn’t know precisely where. Now we do. According to a recent report from Post City, the fancy food shop will be housed in the ground floor of the TD Centre, at 66 Wellington Street. The PATH-friendly location will make the store a convenient lunchtime destination for Bay Street bankers and the area’s other daytime residents—at least, the ones who don’t already have reservations at Bymark, McEwan’s subterranean dining room, which happens to be just around the corner. Befitting the target clientele, the 5,000-square-foot space will be more like a gourmet cafeteria than a full-on grocery store. It will have a coffee bar, a buffet zone and a menu of sandwiches, salads and other midday-appropriate meals, as well as casual seating for 100. For now, though, discerning lunchers will have to stick with Kupfert and Kim: McEwan’s doesn’t open until spring 2015.

The Dish

Food TV

Comments

Masterchef Canada Recap, episode 14: “I will shed blood, sweat and tears to win this title”

Masterchef-Canada-Contestants-14First off: apologies for last week’s nonexistent recap. It fell victim to Toronto’s streetcar tracks and their penchant for hurling unsuspecting bicyclers over their handlebars and into the ER. While this Masterchef Canada recapper was having her distal radius bone wrenched back into alignment, Masterchef Canada everyman Mike was having his dreams of $100,000 and a stylish lucite trophy yanked forever out of reach. That left us with four remaining contestants: Kaila, Tammara, Eric and Marida—two of whom were eliminated this week in the lead-up to next week’s final cook-off.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Restaurants

1 Comment

Solved: the weird mystery of the restaurant at 785 Queen West

gane

(Images: Three Game Changers)

The upcoming restaurant at 785 Queen Street West has had us baffled for months now. According to this website, the business is the project of three inexperienced Western grads—the Three Game Changers, as they call themselves—and it has changed concepts no less than six times since September. (One recent scheme: “the world’s first food truck INSIDE a restaurant.”)

As it became increasingly clear that the situation was a parody of Toronto’s obsession with food trends, we made it our mission to find out what’s actually going on—because there really is a restaurant opening up at that space. Then a clue appeared on the City of Toronto’s website: a new business licence for an eating establishment called Dear Jools at the address in question.

Since an owner’s name was not provided on the city’s website, we obtained a corporation profile from the Ontario government. According to that profile, the administrator of the corporation behind Dear Jools is an individual named Montgomery Wan. Could this be Monte Wan, the current owner of the perpetually delicious Khao San Road?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Drinks

3 Comments

QUOTED: the VP of Mac’s Convenience on The Beer Store’s “unseemly” new ad campaign

(Image: Ontario Beer Facts/screenshot)

(Image: Ontario Beer Facts/screenshot)

“The video released last week by The Beer Store is such a low blow to the 70,000 men and women that work in a convenience store in Ontario. Are the foreign owners of Ontario’s beer monopoly so afraid of competition that they need to resort to demonizing and attacking the hardworking men and women that work in our stores?”

Tom Moher, vice president of Mac’s, speaking about this piece of artfully directed pro-Beer Store propaganda, a screenshot of which is above. Moher was quoted in a Mac’s press release, issued yesterday in response to the thinly veiled attack ad, which basically portrays convenience-store owners as seedy, amoral creeps intent on plying Ontario’s impressionable youth with booze. (Here’s our second-by-second rundown.) Moher went on to defend Mac’s responsible-selling record, claiming that the company’s stores have a 95-per-cent success rate when it comes to checking IDs, according to mystery-shopper tests conducted by an independent third party. He then turned things around on the big, bad booze cartel. “We challenge the Beer Store to make their internal numbers public,” he said. “What penalties does the Beer Store face for infractions? Who enforces the Beer Store?” All good questions.

The Dish

Must-Try

Comments

Must-Try: junky movie snacks get an elegant upgrade at Richmond Station

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

No one has more fun in the kitchen than Farzam Fallah, the wildly inventive pastry chef at the Financial District hangout Richmond Station. To wit: the cryptically named Movie Snacks dessert, which turns out to be a quenelle of crunchy, buttery popcorn-rippled ice cream surrounded by weightless Coca Cola meringue, sticky almond brittle, fudgy chocolate cake and a tart cranberry-Pernod purée that tastes uncannily of Twizzlers. Like all Fallah’s plates, it comes arranged like an artful crime scene, splayed with pools, smears and crumbles that blend into a superfecta of salty, sweet, spicy and tangy. The dish is a refined riff on those nostalgic, junky flavours—yet somehow cheaper than a Cineplex Combo. $9.

Richmond Station, 1 Richmond St. W., 647-748-1444

The Dish

Openings

Comments

Introducing: Market Street Catch, the less chaotic Buster’s Sea Cove spin-off

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: Market Street Catch
Contact Info: 14 Market St., 647-391-8140, marketstreetcatch.com, @MarketSt_Catch
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence Market
Owner: Tom Antonarakis, owner of Buster’s Sea Cove food stall and food truck.

The Food: All types of seafood, including octopus, calamari, smelts and salmon, are displayed on ice—so fresh you may spot a fin twitching. Favourites like the halibut and chips from Buster’s Sea Cove and the fish-taco plate from its food truck are all available at Market Street Catch. New items that you won’t find at either sister location include pickerel, arctic char and an oyster po’ boy. Three large chalkboards display a variety of ways to eat the day’s catch: via roll, poutine, fried or grilled. (Yes, lobster poutine.)

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Trend Watch

Comments

Six ways to eat gooseneck barnacles, the weird sea creatures that are all over Toronto’s haute menus

(Image: Renée Suen)

At Marben, percebes are steamed in white wine and herbs. (Image: Rob Bragagnolo, Marben)

Gooseneck barnacles, also called percebes, are crustaceans that cling to rocks in places that have a strong crashing surf. In Spain and Portugal, they’re considered a rare and wonderful delicacy, thanks to their sweet flesh, which tastes a bit like a cross between lobster and clam. They’re also impossibly ugly (they resemble some type of prehistoric clawed beast) and extremely expensive, largely because gathering them is such risky and controversial work. In Europe, a single kilo of percebes can fetch almost $500. Their Canadian counterparts, which are hand-picked off the coast of Vancouver Island by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, cost over $20 per pound—if you can get your hands on them at all, which regular consumers generally can’t. Luckily, some of Toronto’s best restaurants are doing wonderful things with these odd-looking shellfish. You’ll want to hurry, though: percebes are only in season until the end of May, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

1. Bar Isabel
At his Spanish restaurant in Little Italy, chef Grant van Gameren serves percebes over thinly sliced raw artichokes with lots of butter and garlic. $20.
797 College St., 416-532-2222

2. Canoe
On Canoe’s spring menu, percebes are paired with pasta, shellfish mousse and sea asparagus in a coastal-inspired take on cannelloni. $26
66 Wellington St. W., 416-364-0054

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Openings

8 Comments

Introducing: Luckee, Susur Lee’s new haute dim-sum restaurant at the Soho Met

Introducing: Luckee

Name: Luckee
Contact Info: 328 Wellington St. W., 416-935-0400, luckeerestaurant.com, @LuckeeTO
Neighbourhood: Entertainment District
Owners: Celeb chef Susur Lee and Henry Wu, Metropolitan Hotel president and founder of Chinese restaurants Lai Wah Heen and now-closed Lai Toh Heen
Executive Chef: Susur Lee

The Food: Refined takes on traditional dishes from the Guangzhou, Hunan and Szechuan regions of China. The around-the-clock dim sum service sticks to classic Cantonese dishes prepared with subtle modifications, like minced chicken instead of pork in steamed shumai dumplings, or Italian prosciutto draped across a traditional Shanghainese ham dish served with osmanthus honey sauce and whole wheat buns. On the main menu, the Luckee duck comes with classic Peking-style garnishes and an optional foie gras supplement. The bar has its own menu of finger foods, like curried shrimp spring rolls and Kung Pao chicken wings.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Restaurants

Comments

The Dish Power Rankings: Easter Long Weekend Edition

The-Dish-Power-Rankings

In this week’s roundup: Everyone loves hummus, and David Chang goes to Hooters.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Openings

Comments

Introducing: Fat Pasha, Anthony Rose’s new Middle Eastern hangout

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: Fat Pasha
Contact Info: 414 Dupont St., 647-340-6142, fatpasha.com, @fatpasha
Neighbourhood: The Annex
Owners: Anthony Rose, owner and chef of Rose and Sons and Big Crow
Chef: Kevin Gilmour, formerly of The Drake Hotel

The Food: Big, bold dishes infused with traditional Ashkenazi and Sephardic flavours. Case in point: a towering latke platter topped with salmon pastrami and a whole smoked pickerel head, or a broiled cauliflower stuffed with tahini, pine nuts and halloumi. If hummus is your thing, they have that, too: the creamy chickpea spread comes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil or topped with heaps of lamb shoulder or Swiss chard. For dessert, deep-fried sufganiyot (i.e. doughnuts) are piped with orange-blossom custard and finished with a splash of arak, an intensely anise-flavoured Arabic spirit.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Restaurants

Comments

The Critic: Rob Gentile’s new Bar Buca seduces with tripe, tendon and twists of pig skin

The Critic: There Will Be Blood

At Bar Buca, you can pick up a latte and pastry for the morning commute, return at lunch for offal sausage with poached eggs, and cap off the night with lightly battered snacks and a glass of chianti

Bar Buca 2 star
75 Portland St., 416-599-2822
Buca 3 star ½
604 King St. W., 416-865-1600

I’ve developed a taste for blood first thing in the morning. Rob Gentile, the chef at Bar Buca, mixes fresh pig’s blood into the batter for his crêpes. He then slathers them with a ganache-like concoction of dark chocolate, cream and Concerto (a spiced liquor) before rolling them up. The dish is a variation on a traditional Tuscan pancake called migliaccio, and the blood’s metallic tang turbo-boosts the sweetness of the chocolate. It’s ridiculously indulgent. Between bites I sipped a latte made with water buffalo milk, which Gentile orders from a farm in Stirling. I’ve never found a better coffee in this city.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Coffee and Tea

3 Comments

A new board-game café, hookah lounge and “bohemian tea house” is now open in Harbord Village

(Image: Bampot/Instagram)

(Image: Bampot/Instagram)

In Toronto, board-game cafés—once so daringly niche—have become superabundant. Bampot, the city’s newest social-gaming centre, has more ambiance than the standard venue. Its beaded curtains, Moroccan tiles and rattan wall coverings seem designed to court a slightly earthier, freer-spirited variety of gamer—the kind who likes to sip chai and smoke a hookah while plowing through an epic game of Settlers. Modeled after a traditional Czech tea house, Bampot officially opened last Monday, and the early reviews are positive. There’s a $5 cover for access to the café’s library of over 150 games, or $3 with a meal (recent specials included apple-lentil curry and carrot soup with curried croutons).

Bampot, 201 Harbord St., 416-537-5959, bampottea.com

The Dish

Food Events

1 Comment

Foodie Fortnight: the top five food events for April 16–29

(Image: Lou Dawg’s)

(Image: Lou Dawg’s)

In this edition of Foodie Fortnight: vegan Passover, free poutine and a Good Friday beer fest

Vegan Passover Dinner
For anyone in need of very last-minute Passover dinner plans: popular veg chef Emily Zimmerman is putting a kosher spin on her weekly drop-in dinner at Depanneur on College. For $16, droppers-by can grab vegan salads, grains and a slice of lemon-passionfruit-matzoh torte. Pay what you can after 7:30 p.m.
Apr. 16. Depanneur, 1033 College St., 416-828-1990, thedepanneur.ca

Rib-Eating Contest (+ Free Poutine)
Come to eat, or just to gawk: Deadmau5 and Rob Ford are expected to attend tomorrow’s fifth-anniversary bash at King West snack spot Lou Dawg’s. Free pulled-pork poutine from noon to midnight with purchase of a beer.
Apr. 17. Lou Dawg’s, 589 King St. W., 647-347-3294, facebook.com

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Random Stuff

25 Comments

VIDEO: New factual ad depicts horrifying alternate universe where you can buy beer in convenience stores

(Image: Ontario Beer Facts/screenshot)

(Image: Ontario Beer Facts/screenshot)

Yesterday, Ontario Beer Facts—presumably an independently operated special interested group with no corporate tethering whatsoever—released a totally impartial video depicting what is for sure going to happen if Ontario were to relax liquor laws to accommodate the sale of beer, wine and spirits in local convenience stores. The video, which is based on facts, depicts a group of child-aged men purchasing some beer and liquor from a convenience store, the first step in their long, sluggish march toward alcoholism, and the eventual collapse of Ontario as we know it. You can watch it below . (Trigger warning for: corrupted youth, facts.)

The video is shocking, wake-up-call type stuff, which draws its characterizations and conclusions from the indisputable reality of what happens when alcohol is more accessible. Because its precision and sobering veracity can be hard to swallow upon an initial viewing, we thought it’d be helpful to break down the video, step-by-step, and explain exactly what’s going on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement