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

Closings

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RIP Mr. Greenjeans
(Image: Lynda W./Yelp)

(Image: Lynda W./Yelp)

 

The Eaton Centre restaurant’s popularity peaked around 1994, when a vocal jam session in the on-site Sing Your Heart Out booth was an essential part of any amazing fifth-grade birthday party. As for the food, who really remembers. (Well, Yelp does, which could have something to do with the restaurant’s closure.) Management shared the news over Twitter yesterday afternoon, thanking staff and patrons for 34 great years. Anyone born in the early 80s (or earlier) should start feeling ancient right about…now.

The Dish

Quoted

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Toronto food trucker Zane Caplansky: “People who go in parks are unemployed people”

“People who go in parks are unemployed people, people walking their dogs or people looking to score sex or drugs—not people looking for food.”

Zane Caplansky, the outspoken deli owner and food trucker, explaining to the Star why last summer’s attempt to turn Toronto parks into food truck hubs wasn’t successful. Caplansky is one of several food truck owners refusing to pay an equal share of the $50,000 fee owed to the city as a result of the pilot program (Caplansky says he only participated in the program for a few days). According to the Star, organizer Suresh Doss and his website Spotlight Toronto are on the hook for the outstanding $36,000 debt.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Sukhothai coming to Dundas West
(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

 

Toronto has dozens of lackluster Thai restaurants, and just a few good ones—most of which are owned and operated by Nuit and Jeff Regular, the husband-and-wife team behind Sukhothai, Sabai Sabai and Pai. According to BlogTO, they’ll soon be adding yet another Southeast Asian spot to the lineup, this time on the trendy stretch of Dundas between Gladstone and Dufferin. The third location of Sukhothai, the Regulars’ original Thai eatery, will take over the huge space at 1442 Dundas West, previously occupied by short-lived brunch spot The Guild. For the area’s sake, here’s hoping they can make it work—decent Thai take-out is nothing to sneeze at.

The Dish

Food Events

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Pop-Up Pick: eat fried-ramen sandwiches and teriyaki pie on Dundas West

(Images: Imanishi/Instagram)

(Images: Imanishi/Instagram)

Looking for a different kind of midweek dinner plan? Well, here’s an option: this evening, from 7 p.m. onwards, roaming Japanese restaurant Imanishi will be popping up at Churchill, the Dundas West cocktail bar known for letting rootless food businesses co-opt its kitchen. Imanishi specializes in Japanese-American snacks, mostly of the greasy-fast-food variety. Tonight’s short menu, priced between $4 and $8, includes soy-and-sesame fried chicken, teriyaki pie and something called a “yakisoba dog,” which basically sounds like a fried-ramen sandwich. If you’re tied up tonight, don’t despair: Imanishi’s Churchill dinners appear to be a regular arrangement (check for updates on their Instagram feed).

Tues., Sept. 2, Churchill, 1212 Dundas St. W., @imanishi_japanese_kitchen

The Dish

Nightlife

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Andy Poolhall closes on College
(Image: Andy Poolhall/Facebook)

(Image: Andy Poolhall/Facebook)

 

Any Torontonian between the ages of 25 and 40ish has survived at least a few sweaty dance parties at the Warhol-themed corner bar on College Street. The spot opened as Ciao Edie back in 1998 before being amalgamated with the space next door and renamed after the iconic pop artist. Unfortunately, Andy’s dancing days seem to be over, at least for the time being. According to a recent post on the bar’s Facebook page, penned by resident DJ Denise Benson, co-owners Michael Sweenie and Scott Lane have decided to step away from the nightlife industry because of a recent health scare. “They appreciate everyone who contributed to the nearly 16-year-adventure that has been Ciao Edie and Andy Poolhall,” writes Benson. “Thank you for the many wild nights, and great times had together!” There is a small glimmer of hope for Andy fans: Sweenie is apparently in talks with “a few potential new partners.”

The Dish

Drinks

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The new Bellwoods brewery may not have a bottle shop flavour-of-the-month-cold-ones-gta-beer-03

Among the things people generally expect from their neighbourhood nanobreweries, some way of buying bottles to bring home is pretty high on the list. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that will be a feature of the new Bellwoods facility at Dupont and Dovercourt. According to local beer expert Ben Johnson, there’s a provincial rule that restricts small brewers—meaning those who produce fewer than 25,000 hectolitres of beer annually—from operating more than one retail bottle shop at a time. Since Bellwoods already sells bottles out of its Ossington location, and since its total beer production levels will likely never surpass the 20,000-hectolitre mark, the rule will probably prevent the new location from having a retail component. Johnson spoke with Bellwoods owner Mike Clark, who called the rule “crazy” and said he’s already met with area MPPs to try to get the current laws reviewed.

The Dish

Food News

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What’s the deal with the Tree Top African Café on Dundas West?

(Image: Google Maps/screenshot)

(Image: Google Maps/screenshot)

If you live anywhere near Kensington Market, you’ve probably spent some time wondering about the Tree Top African Café at 620 Dundas Street West. There’s a lot to wonder about: the bushy straw awning, for instance, or the fact that even though it bears the name “café,” it’s never actually sold any food or beverages (or really existed at all, at least according to Google). Lately, though, there’s been some activity in the space (fresh Gatorades in the fridge; chalkboards above the counter), so we decided to do a little sleuthing, and we’ve come up with some answers—and a surprising update.

First, the backstory: the business was purchased in July 2007 by a man named Saikou Saho, who also owns the African drum store next door. He’d noticed a dearth of West African food in Toronto and wanted to fill the niche by opening a casual café. His plans were put on indefinite hiatus, though, when he stumbled into a bunch of municipal red tape, which is why the rustic wooden signage went up but no business ever followed.

Now for the update part. Saho tells us that the Tree Top African Café is finally ready to make its grand debut. He’s got a new partner on board—Toronto-based musician Njacko Backo—and a plan to supply the neighbourhood with coffee, sandwiches and simple West African dishes (steamed-millet breakfast bowls with yogurt; a starchy dish called foufou made with cassava flour). The café will officially open next month, leaving the city with one less vacant storefront to be mildly confused about. Case closed!

The Dish

Restaurants

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U.S. fondue franchise eyeing the GTA
(Image: The Melting Pot/Facebook)

(Image: The Melting Pot/Facebook)

 

American fondue chain The Melting Pot announced earlier this week that it’s “actively seeking franchisees to bring its interactive dining experience to Toronto.” The experience—which is currently available at 135 outlets across the States and Mexico, plus a single Canadian location in Edmonton—involves, as one might expect, dunking various skewered things (breads, meats) into pots filled with cheese, broth, oil or chocolate. (There used to be a Melting Pot location in Richmond Hill, but it closed last year.) This jokey vid provides a primer on the melty wonders potentially in store. [Via Eater Toronto]

The Dish

The Ridiculist

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Six downright silly soft-serve cones from La Carnita spin-off Sweet Jesus

sweet-jesus-intro

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

This wasn’t the summeriest summer ever, but that didn’t stop the team at Little Italy taqueria La Carnita from debuting a new soft-serve side business. The Sweet Jesus pop-up menu, created by executive chef Jonathan Hamilton and his wife Sasha “Frozen” Bogin, has found a temporary home at Home of the Brave, La Carnita’s spin-off diner on King West. (Come spring 2015, the ice cream biz will become its own irreverent entity.) These towering cones (all priced between $3.50 and $7) channel the CNE with their carnivalesque intensity—they’re injected with gooey sauces and topped with everything from roasted marshmallows to tufts of freshly spun cotton candy. Here are all six of Sweet Jesus’s signature cones, ranked in order of sweet-and-sticky silliness.

See all six soft-serve cones »

The Dish

Food News

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Tim Hortons debuts weird Buffalo-sauce doughnut; Gawker calls Canadians “food-confused”

(Image: As Eaten on TV/Twitter)

(Image: As Eaten On TV/Twitter)

The orange beauty above is a Tim Hortons Buffalo Crunch doughnut (a yeast doughnut dunked in Buffalo sauce and crusted with corn chips). It’s being served this weekend at The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, and some people are weirdly incensed about it. Here’s what Gawker had to say, in a post titled “Is Canada Mocking Us With This Fucking Doughnut”:

This Frankenstein swimming pool…proves that Canadians have a bizarrely passive-aggressive but thoroughly performative sense of humo(u)r. The Buffalo Crunch doughnut is only an embarrassing repeat of the grotesque pizza cake, another misfire by the food-confused Canucks. What are you guys doing up there? Leave our food mashups alone.

According to Global News, the doughnut was invented by a Syracuse franchisee (who is, admittedly, Canadian by birth) and it’s not going to show up on Canadian menus anytime soon.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Yunaghi, the Japanese tasting restaurant that replaced Ici Bistro on Harbord

yunaghi-intro

(Image: Renée Suen)

Name: Yunaghi, Gastronomie Japonaise
Contact Info: 538 Manning Ave., 416-588-7862, faceboook.com, @yunaghi_toronto
Previously: Ici Bistro
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Owners: Yurika (who used to work at Ryoji), and Yasuko Miyata
Chefs: Executive chef Tetsuya Shimizu (formerly the sous chef at Yours Truly and chef-consultant for Ryoji’s recently overhauled menu) and sous chef Koichi Fujioka (Hapa Izakaya in Vancouver)

The Food: Shimizu studied traditional kaiseki—the highest form of Japanese cuisine—for 12 years in Japan before moving to North America. At Yunaghi, he uses French techniques to create modern Japanese food that you won’t find at a ramen shop, izakaya or all-you-can-eat sushi joint. Expect a refined tasting menu ($68 for seven courses; $80 for nine) comprised of dainty, complex dishes like black sesame tofu with wasabi and brown butter powder, or white asparagus dressed with almond glass chips and a paste made of tofu and Grana Padano cheese. For those who’d rather not commit to multiple courses, à la carte options are available on request.

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The Dish

Step by Step

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How do you turn jellyfish into ice cream?

(Image: Giordano Ciampini)

(Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Olenka Bazowski, the owner of Etobicoke chocolate shop and ice cream parlour Sweet Olenka’s (which recently opened a temporary Queen West offshoot), is surprised by the popularity of her miso-jellyfish ice cream. “It sells out like crazy,” she says. “It’s weird.” Bazowski invented the Cnidaria-spiked cone as a twisted form of payback after she was stung on the ear a few years ago in Cuba. “It was the most painful thing ever. It blistered and hurt for a month and a half. I thought I was going to die.” So, how do you turn a gelatinous sea mammal into a tasty frozen dessert?

See how Sweet Olenka’s makes ice cream from jellyfish »

The Dish

Food News

5 Comments

Burger King buys Tim Hortons; everyone makes the same joke

 

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The Dish

Closings

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The Coffee Mill closing after half a century
(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

 

The midtown institution began churning out sandwiches and goulash in 1963, back when Yorkville was overrun with banjo-strumming stoners and barefooted mystics. Later, it became a hangout for luminaries like Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields and Leonard Cohen. Now, the 51-year-old business (and the neighbourhood’s least pretentious patio) is closing. According to the Star, the reason for the closure is pretty much what you’d expect. “Not many people come anymore,” said Mashi Kerenyi, who’s worked at the restaurant for 18 years. “They go to Queen West, King West or the Distillery District.” The Coffee Mill will serve its final meals on September 7.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Thoroughbred, a tri-level snack bar and restaurant in the middle of the Entertainment District

Thoroughbred-intro

Name: Thoroughbred Food and Drink
Contact Info: 304 Richmond St. W., 416-551-9221, tbto.ca
Neighbourhood: Entertainment District
Owners: High school buds Ariel Coplan and Jacob Fox, and Robin Kemp
Chefs: Ariel Coplan, the former executive chef at Nyood

The Food: The restaurant is divided into several sections, each with its own menu. The main floor serves smaller plates (fried sweetbreads, kung pao cauliflower), while the second floor offers a more traditional menu of burgers, mains and playful apps, like airy pea fritters served with house-made ricotta and macerated carrots. The chef’s table is reserved for family-style meals, the most lavish of which may be the “Ain’t No Party Like an East Coast Party”—a $250 feast of lobster, clams, mussels, chorizo and sides.

Read the rest of this entry »

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