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The Dish

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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The Dish

New Reviews

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

Farmer's Daughter

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

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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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The Dish

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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The Dish

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.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Cellar Door, a serious southern Italian restaurant at Lakeshore and Islington

Introducing: Cellar Door

Click to view gallery (Image: Renée Suen)

Name: Cellar Door
Contact Info: 3003 Lakeshore Blvd. W., 416-253-0303, cellardoorrestaurant.ca, @cellardoorTO
Neighbourhood: New Toronto
Chef/Owner: Robert Rubino, a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) graduate who trained abroad at Michelin-starred restaurants like Ristorante San Domenico in Bologna, Italy, and L’Atelier Joel Robuchon in Paris, France
Pizzaiolo: Rodrigo Palacio

The Food: Wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas and other dishes from Rome and Calabria, a region in Southern Italy. A rustic, Calabrese-style pasta combines thick-cut buckwheat noodles with clams, scallops prawns, mussels and preserved chilis. Unlike most Italian chefs, Rubino cooks his food without butter or oil, and then adds a splash of good olive oil prior to serving.

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The Dish

Food Shops

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Pop-Up Pick: a quaint fruit stand wedged between condos on King West

(Image: Fresh City Farms/Facebook)

(Image: Fresh City Farms/Facebook)

The vacant lot at 369 King West, across from Mountain Equipment Co-op, will eventually become yet another downtown condo. Before that happens, though, it’s providing one of Toronto’s most densely populated urban areas with a little slice of countrified heaven. For the second year running, Fresh City Farms has teamed up with developer TAS and natural-cosmetics shop The Detox Market to transform the strip of dirt and asphalt into a temporary agrarian idyll. This year, the 500-square-foot space has been outfitted with raised vegetable beds, herb gardens and a quaint wooden fruit stand. Berryfresh Fruit Co. will be on site every day this summer selling whatever’s in season (currently: sour cherries, strawberries and golden raspberries). You don’t have to shop, though—locals are encouraged to grab a seat and soak up the good vibes.

M-F, 8-7, Sa-Su, 10-6, 369 King St. W., facebook.com 

The Dish

Stat

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Ontario craft beer is booming

$50,200,000

—Total LCBO sales of Ontario craft beer in 2013-2014, according to a recent five-year trend report. The number represents a 220-per-cent increase over sales for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which totaled $15.7 million.

The Dish

Restaurants

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This new food truck serves burgers named after the seven deadly sins (well, five of them, anyway)

(Image: Burgatory/Facebook)

(Image: Burgatory/Facebook)

Toronto has a new ecclesiastically themed burger shop (the other being The Burger’s Priest), and this one’s on wheels. Burgatory is one of the city’s newest food trucks. Its name is a mash-up of “purgatory”—i.e. the state of limbo where, according to Catholic doctrine, souls go to “achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven”—and “burgers.” And the religious allusions don’t stop there: each of the truck’s five burgers is named after one of the seven deadly sins. The Sloth Burger, for instance, is topped with Velveeta and Hickory Sticks, while the Pride is a portobello patty on brioche. (Perhaps due to lack of compatible burger ideas, the two leftover vices—lust and gluttony—refer to doughnuts and combo meals, respectively.) You can check out the full menu here.

The Dish

Drinks

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Steam Whistle debuts dial-a-bottle for downtown Toronto

(Image: Mihnea Stanciu/Flickr)

(Image: Mihnea Stanciu/Flickr)

Here’s a potential solution for people who don’t live in reasonable proximity to an LCBO or Beer Store, or for anyone who’s just incredibly lazy. Steam Whistle Brewery has introduced a new beer-delivery service, and it’s 100-per-cent free (the delivery part, at least—you have to pay for the beer). There are other alcohol-delivery outfits in Toronto, but they all change a premium for door-to-door booze. Steam Whistle’s service is somewhat limited for now: it operates on Thursday and Friday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the delivery area is fairly circumscribed (it doesn’t extend east of Yonge or west of Bathurst). Also, unlike some of those shady dial-a-bottle operations from the late-90s, the Steam Whistle version is unlikely to be useful in the underage-drinking department (a rep for the brewery confirms that drivers will check the IDs of anyone who appears to be under 30). Still, the service could be helpful in unexpected beer emergencies. The options include a 12-pack of bottles for $25, a case of cans for $50, or, for $23, a ten-beer “Can Van” (bonus: it comes in a fun box that looks like a van). [Via BlogTO]

 

The Dish

New Reviews

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Review: Peoples Eatery (mostly) lives up to the buzz

Review: People's Eatery

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

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Peoples Eatery 1 star½
307 Spadina Ave., 416-792-1784
Peoples Eatery 1 star½
307 Spadina Ave., 416-792-1784

The owners of 416 Snack Bar have replicated the bourbon-jacked buzz that made their first place so fun. Peoples fills up in the after-work hours with Bay Street freshmen and chic young women flaunting bandeau bras, sleeve tattoos and status handbags. The dishes, made by the wandering former Top Chef contestant Dustin Gallagher, are divided between Chinese-American snacks and Jewish deli staples to represent the neighborhood’s dual heritage.

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The Dish

Quoted

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Toronto chef Matty Matheson: “We don’t want a 45-year-old food writer to understand what the fuck we’re doing”

“First time I got a review, I was like, Œoh, you get reviews? Like I didn’t even fuckin’ understand that stuff…We don’t want a 45-year-old food writer to understand what the fuck we’re doing.”

Matty Matheson, the notoriously hard-partying (but recently reformed) chef and owner of Parts and Labour in Parkdale, speaking to the Chefs Feed Network about why he isn’t interested in the opinions of middle-aged restaurant reviewers. You can go here to watch the full three-minute interview.

The Dish

Recipes

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Recipe: Campagnolo chef Craig Harding’s incomparable spaghetti all’amatriciana

Toronto Life Cookbook Recipe: Spaghetti All'Amatrciana
Toronto Life Recipes | Entrees
SPAGHETTI ALL’AMATRICIANA
By Craig Harding
Campagnolo
SPAGHETTI ALL’AMATRICIANA
By Craig Harding
Campagnolo

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Toronto has two new downtown food-truck hubs

Introducing: Hogtown Smoke

(Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

No thanks to city council, Toronto food-truckers seems to be doing okay. More than okay, actually. In the past couple weeks, they’ve banded together to form two semi-permanent snack venues, both set up on private lots. On the east side, there’s Food Truck Alley, a Wednesday-through-Friday lunchtime hub located on a wedge of asphalt at Queen and Jarvis streets (there’s currently only room for two trucks at a time—so, baby steps). Servicing the west side is King West Eats, a larger operation that’s open seven days a week, for lunch and dinner, in a parking lot near Adelaide and Brant streets. It’s not exactly an east-west rivalry (Toronto food truckers are a pretty tight-knit bunch), but downtowners will have to decide where they want to pledge their lunchtime allegiance. Or, you know, just go to whichever one is closer to work.  A complete Toronto food-truck calendar is available here.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Eastside Social, a new Maritime-themed restaurant near Queen and Carlaw

Introducing: Eastside Social

Click to view gallery

Name: Eastside Social
Neighbourhood: Leslieville
Contact Info: 1008 Queen St. E., 416-461-5663, eastsidesocial.ca
Previously: Italian bakery and brunch spot The Upper Crust
Owners: Former Ruby Watchco co-owners Cherie Stinson, of Restaurant Makeover fame, and her husband Joey Skeir
Chefs: Chris Mentier (Céilí Cottage) is helming the kitchen with the help of Stefan Skeene (Ruby Watchco)

The Food: Born-and-bred Haligonians Stinson and Skeir wanted to bring Maritime cuisine to Toronto’s east side. Rather than sticking to straight-up Scotian food, the menu lists coastal fare from spots around the globe, including Peru (sea bream ceviche with pink grapefruit), Portugal (cod croquettes), Mexico (surf-and-turf tacos) and New England (clam chowder). There are also a few contemporary British dishes, like a Yorkshire-pudding poutine swimming in rich demi-glace.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Fine China: Susur Lee’s Luckee is a crowd-pleasing slam dunk

For his new dim sum hot spot, Luckee, Susur Lee scaled back his signature esoteric fusion in favour of good old-fashioned Chinese food

Fine China

Clockwise: Luckee’s glowing sign is a beacon on this sleepy block of Wellington; Luckee was designed to evoke an old Chinese drugstore, with tiled floors and apothecary cabinets; Diners can perch on red lacquered stools and watch Susur at work in Luckee’s open-concept dim sum kitchen

Luckee 2 star
328 Wellington St. W., 416-935-0400
Luckee 2 star
328 Wellington St. W., 416-935-0400

As weekend rituals go, the leisurely dim sum pig-out is hard to beat. I’ve chop-sticked my way through the encyclopedic menus of Markham strip mall banquet palaces, waited for a table with a lake view at Queen’s Quay Terminal’s Pearl, and arrived underdressed for the crystal chandelier and gold leaf Versailles that is Crown Princess on Bay. For years, I had a standing appointment with a group of old friends at Spadina’s suspiciously cheap Bright Pearl, before it closed in a cloud of steam carts and rumours of sanitation violations. Dim sum is the best cure I’ve found for a hangover—all those greasy dumplings and watery pots of steaming tea, and everyone too busy ­grazing to keep up a serious conversation. In general, I’m not too fussy about where I go—at reputable spots, one siu mai is as springy as the next. I mostly measure the quality of a dim sum place by how frequently the grannies (and they’re always grannies—it must be a law) circle your table with their trolleys.

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