Touhenboku, the ramen upstart that plunked itself down on Queen West last year, only to expand almost immediately with a second restaurant at Yonge and Eglinton, is getting ready to open location number three. The news comes from Spotlight City’s Suresh Doss, who tweeted about it earlier today (it was later confirmed via Twitter by the Touhenboku crew). Shrewdly avoiding the city’s noodle-clogged core, the chain’s third outlet will be housed in the Distillery District, which—like the dorky kid who comes back from summer break with a whole new swagger—has pretty much completed its transition from cheesy tourist trap to legitimately great hangout. According to Doss, the new spot is likely to open pretty soon—possibly before the Distillery’s Christmas market pops up in a month and a half’s time.
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Name: Buca Osteria & Bar
Contact Info: 53 Scollard St. (entrance is through the Four Seasons courtyard on Yorkville Ave.), 416-962-2822, buca.ca, @bucayorkville
Owners: Peter Tsebelis, Gus Giazitizidis and Rob Gentile of King Street Food Company
Chefs: Executive chef Rob Gentile and chef de cuisine Ryan Campbell
The Food: Billed as the coastal cousin to Buca on King Street, the seafood-heavy menu includes pizzas, pastas and pescatarian charcuterie, plus daily whole-fish options, like an entire raw branzino that’s expertly sliced and plated tableside. (According to partner Peter Tsebelis, Buca’s seafood is both “sensible” and “traceable,” meaning that care is taken to ensure that the fish served have been harvested in ways that aren’t environmentally destructive.) Similar to Bar Buca, the restaurant serves pastries and specialty coffees during the day, and brunch on weekends. Starting next week, a multi-course tasting menu will also be available. Read the rest of this entry »
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The new restaurant in the Thompson Hotel is ultra-polished and styled after an airy Riviera brasserie. It’s run by the Chase Hospitality Group and radiates—for better or worse, depending on your dining tastes—a corporate vibe. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve never tasted flavoured whisky before. What should I expect?
It tastes like whisky, but with one flavour in the forefront. “When you sip Wiser’s Spiced Torched Toffee, you’re still getting the oak, caramel and vanilla notes, but the toffee flavour dominates,” says Livermore. Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced is made from the distillery’s Barrel Select whisky, with just a touch more honey flavour added to the recipe.
Flavour vs. traditional — what’s the difference?
When you sip Crown Royal Maple Finished, it tastes like whisky that’s got a pronounced maple edge. Canadian Club Maple tastes like Canadian Club, but with a tad more maple on the tongue. “[And] like all Canadian whisky, it must be well-balanced and flavourful,” says Livermore.
What’s driving this trend?
“People are more curious to try new things these days, whether it’s spicy food or new cocktails,” says Livermore. Flavoured whisky offers a new taste experience, whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to whisky. “It also tends to be a bit smoother” notes Livermore, “making it the perfect way to get into whisky if you’ve never tried it.”
Neat, mixed, on ice —how do you serve it?
“Any way you want”, says Livermore. Like all Canadian whisky, these whisky blends can be enjoyed neat or on ice, or mixed into a cocktail. For example, Crown Royal Maple Finished offers a fresh, sweet twist to a Manhattan or Spicy Sour cocktail. “I like to sip the Wiser’s Torched Toffee neat,” says Livermore, “but it also goes really well mixed with ginger ale or cola.”
- New FORTY CREEK SPIKE HONEY SPICED
Built upon the award-winning Forty Creek Barrel Select, this whisky brings honey to the forefront, along with vanilla and cinnamon. Slightly sweet, it makes for a refreshing highball cocktail or can be sipped neat after dinner.
Reg: $27.95 | NOW $26.95
SAVE $1.00 | 750 mL | 397109
Canadian Club is one of the world’s best-loved whiskies. The Maple takes the classic recipe — clean, crisp and full of toffee and caramel — and amps it up with a maple note.
Reg: $25.95 | NOW $24.95
SAVE $1.00 | 750 mL | 394320
New WISER’S SPICED TORCHED TOFFEE
Aged for three years, this whisky is both slightly sweet and lightly spiced for an unforgettable flavour. Add a dash of water or an ice cube to bring out its fruity aromas and caramelized toffee notes.
$27.95 | 750 mL | 394346
JIM BEAM RED STAG HARDCORE CIDER
Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey Infused with natural flavours. Proprietary infusion process expertly blends the flavors, keeping the whiskey smooth and not too sweet. Distinctively fruity yet the familiar, rich nose of Jim Beam Bourbon shines through.
Reg. $27.95 | NOW $26.95
SAVE $1.00 | 750 mL | 398438
New CANADIAN CLUB 100% RYE
Raise this rye to your mouth and you’ll taste the caramel and toffee goodness that Canadian Club is known for. Except here, you’re also getting a much bolder, spicier character, thanks to the high rye content. Sip in cocktails or on the rocks.
Reg: $26.95 | NOW $25.45
SAVE $1.50 | 750 mL | 390583
WISER’S SPICED VANILLA
J.P. Wiser’s® Spiced combines the uncompromising taste of J.P. Wiser’s® whisky with a hint of vanilla. A great tasting, versatile whisky, perfect for mixing with cola, ginger ale, or alone as a shooter.
$27.95 | 750 mL | 292243
People often call Canadian whisky rye, but true rye has much more rye grain than you find in a blended whisky. In the U.S., where most rye comes from, the whisky must contain at least 51% rye grain. A “high rye,” such as Alberta Premium and George Dickel, contains 100% rye.
Why the sudden resurgence in ryes?
It has a lot to do with the bourbon boom. People began to realize that whisky can be sweet or spicy, subtle or bold, and that you can enjoy whisky many ways. I’ve been a bartender for more than 11 years, and it wasn’t until about five years ago that someone ordered a Sazerac. So we’re seeing a revival of both classic cocktails and classic spirits, such as rye.
Do all ryes taste the same?
The Bulleit rye is rich and oaky, with lots of vanilla, spice and heat on the palate, which I love. It’s great neat, or add a cube of ice to mellow it a bit. George Dickel is a bit more fruitforward and is a fantastic sipping whisky. Canadian Club 100% and Alberta Premium are both big rye whiskies, with lots of spice and caramel.
What can I expect from a rye cocktail?
Dryer than bourbon, rye adds a leaner profile that blends really nicely in a cocktail without overpowering the drink. Most classic cocktails — such as the Manhattan, Old-Fashioned and
Sazerac — originally called for rye whisky. High rye is a return to pre-Prohibition whisky. “It’s definitely my favourite whisky,” says Saye.
If this “pop-up food market” on Queen West is actually a legitimate event and not a cruel joke, it could be a unique opportunity to eat some extremely silly food, like candied spam doughnuts and vegan turducken. That’s a pretty sizable “if,” though, because the event is being hosted by none other than Khao San Road owner Montgomery Wan—the guy who, for reasons unknown, has spent the past year pretending that the storefront he’s in the process of renovating at 785 Queen West (which we think is going to be another Thai eatery, although that’s not totally clear) is connected with a fictional trio of bros called “The 3 Game Changers.” (For the full backstory on the yearlong prank, see here, here and here.)
According to a recent post on the Game Changers’ blog, the pop-up market will take place at Wan’s mysterious Queen West premises on Saturday, October 18, and nine Toronto restaurants will be taking part, including Barque, Banh Mi Boys and Matt Blondin’s upcoming restaurant Junk. What’s more, each restaurant will apparently be adopting one of Wan’s fake culinary concepts, with Khao San Road standing in as Thai Tanium, the latest in a long string of silly aliases. (It’s not clear whether attendees will actually be able to sample specific dishes listed on the multiple fake restaurant menus dreamed up by Wan, who seems to have an unusual amount of free time on his hands for a successful businessman.)
Keep in mind, there’s probably a 40 per cent chance that this whole thing is another prank (the name of the event, “Bro Appetit,” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence). Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Sat. Oct. 18, 11-3, free admission (items $5 or less), 785 Queen St. W., 3gamechangers.wordpress.com
Last spring, Danforth taqueria Tilde promised free food to anyone who was willing to help them renovate their new business. Now that it’s up and running, the restaurant’s got an even better offer. According to a recent press release, anyone who shows up to Tilde’s slightly belated “grand opening” celebrations this Thursday or Friday will receive two free tacos—no heavy lifting required. (Tilde refers to its tortilla toppings as “contemporary,” and the flavour combinations are definitely interesting—curried fish with coconut salsa, for instance, or stewed beef and potatoes.) Since tacos—even free ones—can hardly be consumed without beer, Tilde’s freebies will be accompanied by free samples from partner breweries Mill St., Great Lakes, Black Oak and Wellington.
Oct. 16-17, 6-9. Tilde, 699 Danforth Ave., 416-469-8226, tildetaco.ca
Celebrity chef and farm-to-table pioneer Jonathan Waxman and his director-pal Ivan Reitman bring a grown-up restaurant to Adelaide Street West
299 Adelaide St. W., 416-599-0299
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The staff at the newly opened Montecito restaurant escort a statue of the Stay Puft marshmallow man, forever associated with Ghostbusters, from table to table, so everyone gets a chance to meet him. He’s pasty and portly, his lips frozen in a clownish grin. He must be the most photographed food celebrity in the city. On the nights I ate there, couples posed for phone pics in mock horror, as if a blob of exploding marshmallow was about to land atop their heads.
The U.S. burger chain, best known for its unwavering dedication to the axiom “sex sells,” has reportedly chosen the location of its first Toronto restaurant. According to a building application unearthed by BlogTO, the city’s first Carl’s Jr. will be housed in the former HMV building at 272 Queen West, at Beverley Street. For those who aren’t well versed in Carl’s Jr. lore, the chain’s signature menu item is the Six Dollar Burger—so named (without a ton of foresight, it seems) because $6 was around the price people expected to pay for a fancy restaurant hamburger back in 2001. The burger chain’s northern expansion plans, which were unveiled last March, will see 30 outlets opening across Ontario in the next six years.
Name: Mr. Flamingo
Contact Info: 1265 Dundas St. W., 647-351-1100, mrflamingo.ca
Neighbourhood: Little Portugal
Previously: Portuguese restaurant O Lagar
Owner: Mikey Apples, who also owns the basement bar Bambi’s (located directly beneath the restaurant), and former Happy Child co-owner Fan Zhang
Chef: Fan Zhang
The Food: Chef Zhang’s CV includes a job at an oyster bar, a stint as a sushi chef, and a three-year run at the Niagara Street Café, where he finessed his French cooking techniques under executive chef Nick Liu. All those influences are evident on Mr. Flamingo’s short menu, which balances simple bar snacks—pickles, potato chips—with sophisticated mains. Zhang boosts his dishes with ultra-luxurious ingredients—baked oysters are topped with lobster and flying-fish roe, and a massive veal t-bone comes showered with truffle shavings. The most intriguing option may be the seared tuna starter, which is served over a pool of “movie theatre popcorn sauce.” Read the rest of this entry »
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Name: Tinto Bar De Tapas
Contact Info: 1581 Bayview Ave., 416-485-1581, tintobardetapas.com
Previously: The Mad Italian Gelato Bar
Owner: Nota Bene alumn Otta Zapotocky, who also owns L’Avenue bistro across the street
Chef: Robert Leonard, who previously worked at Lee and Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
The Food: “Everyone’s calling us Basque, but we’re not,” says owner Otta Zapotocky. He characterizes the food as a mix of French and Spanish, with a dash of Latin American. There are subtle Asian notes, too, like a starter of blistered shishito peppers and a soy-spiked baby octopus dish. Tapas options are divided between hot (chorizo mussels, bacon-wrapped dates, escargot) and cold (ceviche, carpaccio, charcuterie). Read the rest of this entry »
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—The amount of money offered by a consortium of investors (led by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and including Toronto-based private-equity investment firm Onex Corporation) to purchase a majority stake in the LCBO, as reported by CTV News. The multi-billion-dollar bid, if accepted, would give the investor group a 75 per cent stake in the liquor-store monopoly, but it wouldn’t change much else—the Ontario government would continue to control and regulate the sale of booze.
Drake One Fifty has a history of welcoming talented out-of-towners into its kitchen. In July, the restaurant hosted a pop-up dinner by New York chef Justin Smillie, who treated diners to a preview of the menu at his new Manhattan restaurant. This time, the guest of honour is Emma Cardarelli, the chef and co-owner of award-winning Montreal restaurant Nora Gray. Cardarelli’s Italian cooking is more inventive than the stuff you’d get at a typical trattoria; she’s been known to deep-fry veal brains into crunchy fritters and replace beef with wild boar in a hearty ragu. Her Toronto pop-up menu, which she’ll be preparing on Tuesday, October 21 alongside Drake chefs Ted Corrado and Jon Pong, includes some equally interesting items, like rabbit porchetta, Jerusalem artichoke tortelloni and, for dessert, a frangipane tart with fennel seed ice cream.
Thai Tanium will maybe, possibly be the actual name of the mysterious restaurant at 785 Queen West, which has adopted multiple aliases over the past year—including Cakehole, God Bless ‘Merica and, our personal favourite, Wheels Keep On Truckin’ (a food truck inside a restaurant)—without ever actually opening to the public. The whole rotating-identities thing was an elaborate ruse by Khao San Road owner Montgomery Wan, who copped to the prank last spring when we dug up a corporation profile with his name on it. Based on a recent tweet from Khao San Road, it seems like the place might actually start operating as a restaurant soon, although perhaps not under the name listed on its business license, which is Dear Jools (that said, Thai Tanium does have a fairly ridiculous ring to it, and could certainly be another pseudonym). In any case, the confusion should all get cleared up on October 18, which is when the restaurant is scheduled to open. Unless that’s a joke, too. Sheesh.
Name: The Borough
Contact Info: 1352 Danforth Ave., 416-901-1429, borough.ca, @TheBoroughEY
Neighbourhood: East Danforth
Previously: Eritrean restaurant Elelta
Owners: Childhood friends Richard Zimmerman and Jason Ashworth
Chef: Jason Ashworth
The Food: Chef Ashworth’s menu sticks to cozy British comfort dishes, like miniature beef-stuffed Yorkshire puddings and bangers ‘n’ mash with braised cabbage. The restaurant is committed to using sustainable ingredients (hormone- and antibiotic-free meat, responsibly sourced seafood). It’s formed partnerships with local farms, whose names are scrawled on a blackboard near the kitchen. Read the rest of this entry »
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Earlier this year, London Times restaurant critic Giles Coren came to Toronto to film an episode of his new television series, Million Dollar Critic, which finally aired this week. The conceit of the show is that a single online review from Coren, the self-proclaimed “most powerful critic in Europe,” would be sufficient to bump any restaurant’s profits by a million bucks. During the course of his visit, Coren hung out with Rob Ford, went on an awkward date with Robyn Doolittle and sampled the food at a curiously random assortment of Toronto eateries, most of which probably wouldn’t top many residents’ best-of-the-city lists. But if Coren’s crew didn’t really seem to get what Toronto is about, food-wise (for instance, this from his assistant: “Torontonians always have hot dogs, late at night especially”), he at least had some nice things to say about a few of the city’s less attention-grabby establishments. Opus, the culinary dinosaur in Yorkville, was deemed “outstanding,” while Parkdale’s Small Town Food Co. got props as a scrappy up-and-comer. (Pakistani takeout shop King’s Place didn’t earn raves, but it did win a Coren-judged taste test against rival shop King’s Palace.) The lucky recipient of Coren’s official rubber stamp was Nathan Isberg’s Dundas West restaurant The Atlantic, which can presumably look forward to $1152.07 in future profits for every word of this review on The Huffington Post Canada.