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

Food Events

2 Comments

Pop-Up Pick: get in on the big, fat, delicious joke with nine great Toronto restaurants

3 Game Changers

(Images, clockwise from top left: Come and Get It/Facebook; Poutini’s/Facebook; Fidel Gastro/Facebook; Signe Langford)

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

The Dish

Free Stuff

Comments

Free tacos tomorrow on the Danforth

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

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

The Dish

Restaurants

3 Comments

California Dreaming: Montecito delivers grown-up food to the Entertainment District

Celebrity chef and farm-to-table pioneer Jonathan Waxman and his director-pal Ivan Reitman bring a grown-up restaurant to Adelaide Street West

The Critic: California Dreaming

Ivan Reitman, who owns a condo in the TIFF tower, wanted a good restaurant nearby—so he opened one. Two signature dishes: roast chicken and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man–inspired baked Alaska (Image: Reitman by Raina and Wilson)

Montecito 2 star½
299 Adelaide St. W., 416-599-0299
How our star system works »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dish

Restaurants

3 Comments

Carl’s Jr will find a home on Queen West

(Image: Robert Banh/Flickr)

(Image: Robert Banh/Flickr)

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.

The Dish

Openings

Comments

Introducing: Mr. Flamingo, a new resto-bar on Dundas West with a surprisingly sophisticated menu

Introducing: Mr Flamingo

(Image: Gabby Frank)

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 »

The Dish

Openings

Comments

Introducing: Tinto Bar De Tapas, a bold new addition to Bayview Avenue

Introducing: Tinto

Name: Tinto Bar De Tapas
Contact Info: 1581 Bayview Ave., 416-485-1581, tintobardetapas.com
Neighbourhood: Leaside
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 »

The Dish

Stat

Comments

The LCBO may be for sale

$11,000,000,000
$11,000,000,000

—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.

The Dish

Restaurants

Comments

Pop-Up Pick: an Italian feast at Drake One Fifty from an award-winning Montreal chef

(Images: Drake One Fifty, Igor Yu; Nora Grey dishes,

(Images: Drake One Fifty, Igor Yu; dishes, noragraymtl/Instagram)

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.

Tues. Oct. 21, 6 p.m., Drake One Fifty, 150 York St., 416 363 6150, drakeonefifty.ca, facebook.com

The Dish

Restaurants

1 Comment

After a year’s worth of pranks, this restaurant on Queen West is finally opening

3 Game Changers

(Images: 3gamechangers)

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.

The Dish

Openings

Comments

Introducing: The Borough, a stylish new gastropub on the Danforth

Introducing: The Borough

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

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 »

The Dish

Food News

Comments

Brit restaurant critic Giles Coren graces Toronto with his taste buds

Million-Dollar

(Screenshots/Million Dollar Critic)

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.

The Dish

Food Events

Comments

Buy tickets today for Hunt Camp’s fourth game-meat feast

(Image: Hunt Camp/Facebook)

(Image: Hunt Camp/Facebook)

Hunt Camp, the semiannual dinner series hosted by Junction Triangle restaurant Farmhouse Tavern, is the stuff adventurous carnivores’ dreams are made of: past iterations of the $200-a-head meal have included plates and platters heaped with all kinds of interesting animal parts—roasted rabbit hearts, whipped trout livers—prepared with care by former head chef Alex Molitz. This fall’s version of the event may be a bit different, since Farmhouse recently lost Molitz to the Hinterland winery in Prince Edward County, but one thing’s unlikely to change: as in previous Hunt Camp “seasons,” this month’s meals will likely sell out quickly. There are currently two confirmed seatings (October 22 and 29), with only eight seats available per meal. Anyone who’s interested may want to set up some kind of reminder for 8 p.m. tonight, which is when the restaurant will begin taking reservations for those 16 coveted spots.

Wed. Oct. 22 & Wed. Oct. 29. $196.50 (tax & tip incl.). Farmhouse Tavern, 1627 Dupont St., 416-561-9114, HuntCampTO@gmail.com, facebook.com

The Dish

Restaurants

2 Comments

Swish by Han is closed; a new restaurant from the owners of Woods is moving in

(Image: Caroline Youdan)

(Image: Caroline Youdan)

Swish by Han was the upright Dr. Jekyll to Ossington snack bar Oddseoul’s Mr. Hyde. The two Korean-fusion restaurants, both owned by brothers Leemo and Leeto Han, attracted different crowds, with Swish luring a straighter-laced kind of diner (the kind, probably, who’d frown upon a food business that doesn’t have a website, a telephone number or obvious business hours). Unfortunately for those people, Swish is no more. A few weeks back, telltale brown paper appeared in the windows at 38 Wellington Street East, along with the less-than-informative message, “Coming Soon.”

We weren’t able to reach the Han brothers for comment, but we’ve got some intel from another source: Carlos De Veyra, the chef at nearby restaurant Woods, told us that he’ll soon be running the kitchen at a new casual Italian restaurant in the former Swish space. (The business, it turns out, was sold earlier this year to Woods owners Robin Singh and Byron Messier, who also own Pravda Vodka Bar a few doors down on Wellington.) “It’ll be pizza and pasta,” said De Veyra. “We’re putting in marble bar tops and a mobsters’ booth in the corner.” (A mobsters’ booth, apparently, is a big circular booth with a really tall back.) The restaurant doesn’t currently have a name, but it likely will have one soon enough. De Veyra says it’s scheduled to open in just six weeks.

The Dish

Food Shops

Comments

Bobbette and Belle’s pretty pastries are heading uptown

 (Image: Bobbette and Belle/Facebook)


(Image: Bobbette and Belle/Facebook)

Bobbette and Belle, Leslieville’s prettiest patisserie, is soon to open a second location at 3347 Yonge Street, just north of Lawrence Avenue. The bakery is known for its macarons, dainty fruit tarts and fabulous cakes, which range in style from impeccably prim wedding stacks to less traditional creations, like an eerily realistic slab of bacon, or this barbecue-themed birthday spread. According to a recent post on the business’s Facebook page, the new shop will be making its grand debut on Saturday, October 11.

The Dish

Step by Step

Comments

How do you turn raw cocoa beans into picture-perfect truffles?

How do you turn cocoa beans into fancy truffles?

(Image: Giordano Ciampini)

David Castellan and Cynthia Leung, the husband-and-wife team behind Toronto chocolatier Soma, have been breathing new life into old machines since 2003. That’s when they opened their tiny chocolate factory in the Distillery District, and began magicking raw cocoa beans into impeccably smooth slabs, bars and truffles. Castellan, a former pastry chef, took a course on chocolate-making before committing to the new business. “I learned to make chocolate from the bean, which no one else was doing at the time,” he says. Even a relatively simple product, like Soma’s dark almond cluster truffles, involves a fairly labour-intensive manufacturing process. Here’s how they do it.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement