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Openings

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Introducing: Nuit Social, a new charcuterie bar on West Queen West

Introducing: Nuit Social

Name: Nuit Social
Contact Info: 1168 Queen St. W., 647-350-6848, nuitsocial.com
Neighbourhood: Little Portugal
Previously: Low-key snack bar Happy Child
Owner: Tino Bianchi
Chef: John Rosal, formerly the executive chef at Modus

The Food: The menu is divided between “social boards” (pick-your-own charcuterie, cheeses and olives) and “social plates” (shareable snacks). Meats and cheeses are sourced from all over the world—there’s soppressata from Richmond Hill, salami from Milan and a rosemary-rolled sheep’s cheese from Spain, plus a varied assortment of olives, including a Peruvian option. Traditional Italian plates (arancini balls, crispy artichokes, citrus-braised octopus) round out the menu, which will continue to evolve over time (for instance, chef Rosal is planning to add some Asian dishes, like maple-soy glazed short ribs).

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The Dish

Free Stuff

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Free poutine in Yonge-Dundas Square

 (Image: Smoke's Poutinerie/Facebook)


(Image: Smoke’s Poutinerie/Facebook)

Wander down to Yonge-Dundas Square this weekend and you’ll not only score some free food, you’ll also get to watch other people cram that same food down their throats for sport. The fifth annual World Poutine Eating Championship, which takes place on Saturday, October 4, will involve two separate feats of digestion—an amateur gobbling contest at 2 p.m. followed by the real-deal professional event at 3 p.m.—plus free poutine from Smoke’s Poutinerie for all spectators. At last year’s event, a guy named Joey “Jaws” Chestnut set a new record by consuming 24 pounds of gravy-soaked fries (48 regulation-sized boxes) in 10 minutes, which could be a spectacle worth seeing—and a rare opportunity to eat tons of poutine while knowing for sure that you’re not the grossest person around.

 

Sat. Oct. 4, 10-4, Yonge-Dundas Square, smokespoutinerie.com

The Dish

Drinks

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Globe-Trotting Whiskies: fermented grain mashes from everywhere but Scotland

Where to Drink Now: Globe-Trotting Whiskies
Everyone knows that Scotland produces some of the best whisky on the planet, but the British isle isn’t the only country making excellent grain-based spirits. Distilleries from unexpected locales—including India, Taiwan and South Africa—are barrel-aging brown liquors infused with flavours and aromas that are distinct to those regions. Here, five world whiskies worth sampling.

Circle Red 1
Amrut put India on the map as a bona fide producer. The Fusion single malt is spicy and tropical with bold peat flavours typically found in a scotch. $78.25. LCBO 220756

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The Dish

Closings

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Ursa on Queen West is closing (or rather, hibernating)

(Image: Liam Mogan)

Ursa’s elk tartare. (Image: Liam Mogan)

Jacob Sharkey Pearce, co-owner and chef of Ursa, announced on Facebook today that his high-concept Canadian kitchen will be shutting its doors at 924 Queen West. Despite some excellent dishes, Ursa always seemed a bit somber next to the strip’s other dining options (Fonda Lola’s family-style Mexican feasts, The County General’s Korean bar snacks), so the news doesn’t come as a total shock—not everyone wants to pay $30 for a wee little entrée, no matter how exquisitely garnished with foraged juniper berries and ox-eye daisy buds. There’s reason to believe that the closure may not be a permanent shutdown; in his very earnest goodbye note, Pearce characterizes the situation as follows:  “It’s now time to hibernate and gather strength for the spring…When we surface from our slumber we will continue the task of discovery—finding better ways to eat and to live.”

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Essen, a new spot on Dundas West for brisket, smoked salmon and matzoh-ball ramen

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Name: Essen
Contact Info: 1282 Dundas St. W., 416-534-0407, essentoronto.com
Neighbourhood: Little Portugal
Previously: Quinta
Chef/Owner: Leor Zimerman, who closed his Portuguese-French bistro Quinta earlier this year and reopened the restaurant as Essen.

The Food: Essen serves the kind of food you would’ve eaten at home, if you’d been raised in a Jewish household with a French-trained chef for a mom. Ashkenazi and Sephardic dishes are unfussy but prepared with care by Zimerman, who likes to tweak traditional Jewish staples (matzo ball soup gets a ramen makeover, for example). Though à-la-carte options are available, meals are designed to be eaten family style; Zimerman suggests ordering a main (beef brisket, roast Muscovy duck breast), a veg (tsimmis roast carrots, braised cabbage) and a side (duck fat fries, pearl couscous). Essen isn’t strictly kosher, but they don’t serve pork or shellfish, and meat and dairy never mix.

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The Dish

Free Stuff

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Free beer and burgers in Parkdale

(Image: Christopher Stevenson)

(Image: Christopher Stevenson)

Parts and Labour, the rowdy restaurant and bar responsible for at least some of the intermittent griping about “Partydale” and its community-destroying ways, is throwing a big noisy party tonight in honour of chef Matty Matheson’s new Vice Munchies series, Keep It Canada. According to some shouty tweets from Matheson, free beer and burgers will be available to those who attend—which is pretty exciting because (1) hey, free food; and (2) Parts and Labour’s gooey bacon cheeseburger is one of the best in the city. Brief word of advice: anyone planning to attend might want to swing by early, seeing as “the entire world” has been invited.

 

Thurs. Oct. 2 (doors open at 8 p.m.), Parts and Labour, 1566 Queen St. W., 416-588-7750

The Dish

Sponsored Content

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Platinum Dining at Luma Restuarant

setting-top

American Express Platinum members were treated to an exclusive night showcasing an eclectic assortment of Toronto food trends. For Taste from Platinum at Luma, Chef Michael Wilson put his signature spin on street-level culinary trends of recent memory.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Alcoholism is no joke for the LCBO

“The LCBO has no sense of humour.”

Alain Delaet, owner of Belgium’s Brouwerij Huyghe, speaking to the Star about the Ontario liquor seller’s longstanding refusal to stock his most popular beer, Delirium Tremens, on account of its not-entirely-PC name. (Latin for “shaking frenzy,” the term refers to a set of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms experienced by hardcore alcoholics.) According to the Star, the LCBO blacklisted the beer in 2004 and has since refused to reconsider its decision, despite Delaet’s offer to change the label so that it just reads “Delirium.” The Beer Store isn’t such a stickler—the controversial bottles began hitting its shelves this week.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Kinton Ramen is heading uptown 
(Image: Dave Gillespie)

(Image: Dave Gillespie)

According to recent tweets from the restaurant, the fourth Kinton location will soon be opening at 5165 Yonge Street, near the North York Centre subway stop, between Sheppard and Finch. The Baldwin Village restaurant, which also has outlets on Bloor Street and Queen West, is following in the footsteps of ramen shops like Kenzo and Touhenboku, both of which have capitalized on their downtown success by opening spin-offs north of the Bloor Street divide. North Yorkers should prepare themselves for some weirdly competitive noodle slurping, including semi-regular timed eating events.

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: The Drake Devonshire, the Toronto hotel’s cozy (but very cool) lakeside spin-off

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: The Drake Devonshire Inn
Contact Info: 24 Wharf St., 613-399-1851, drakedevonshire.ca, @thedrakehotel
Neighbourhood: Wellington, Prince Edward County
Owner: Jeff Stober
Chef: Matt DeMille, formerly the chef de cuisine at Enoteca Sociale

The Food: Two years ago, former Enoteca Sociale chef Matt DeMille packed his bags and moved to Prince Edward County to reconnect with his roots. Soon afterwards, Drake Hotel owner Jeff Stober snatched up a lakeside property in Wellington, PEC and recruited DeMille to run the kitchen at the new countryside retreat. The hotel’s five menus focus on simple, crowd-pleasing dishes, like hearty sandwiches, fresh pastas and fish and meat sourced from local farms—the Drake’s upscale comfort food with an extra rustic touch. Brunch options include a breakfast burger, buttermilk pancakes and chili-maple glazed fried chicken with pecan waffles.

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The Dish

People

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Ten things Jamie Kennedy can’t live without

This month, the city’s most famous locavore releases his first cookbook in more than a decade. Here, the 10 things he can’t live without

Ten things Jamie Kennedy can't live without
01
My knife
I’ve been using a general-­purpose Global chef’s knife for a decade. I like the way it feels in my hand: a solid everyday work tool.

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The Ridiculist

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Ten mind-blowing baked goods on display at Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show

Eight bizarro baked goods at last weekend's Baking and Sweets show

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

The Wonut—a cross between a doughnut and a waffle—made its much-anticipated Toronto debut at last weekend’s Baking and Sweets Show, but it wasn’t the only eye-catching treat there. The Redpath-sponsored event (yes, the show was literally sponsored by sugar) united tons of the country’s most talented bakers and cake decorators, and some of their creations were truly incredible—weird, in many cases, but incredible. Here, ten awesome baked goods, ranked from least to most mind-blowing.

The Dish

Food Shops

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Delica’s gourmet lunches are coming to Queen West

(Image: Delica Kitchen/Facebook)

(Image: Delica Kitchen/Facebook)

Anyone who’s tired of waiting 20 minutes in the takeout line at Fresh may appreciate this: the strip of Queen West near Trinity Bellwoods will soon have a new grab-and-go lunch option. An “Opening Soon” sign recently appeared in the window of 920 Queen West (the space formerly occupied by lingerie shop Nearly Naked) announcing the impending arrival of Delica Kitchen, the café and lunch counter that already has locations in Rosedale and Leslieville. Delica is known for its big baguette sandwiches and wonderful baked goods, including doughnuts from owner Devin Connell’s side business, Paulette’s. Which is all just to say—next year’s Bellwoods picnicking prospects are looking better than ever.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Duggan’s Parkdale Brewery isn’t getting Jamie Kennedy after all

Top Ten New Restaurants 2009

(Image: Lee Towndrow)

Last month, we reported that Jamie Kennedy would be overseeing the kitchen at Duggan’s Parkdale Brewery, the new microbrewery-cum-restaurant that’s currently operating as a pop-up at 1346 Queen West. After local beer blog Canadian Beer News broke the story (citing brewery owner Michael Duggan as its source), a spokesperson for Duggan’s confirmed that Kennedy was expected to assume the executive chef role once the brewery opened in the fall.

Those announcements, it now seems, were a bit premature. According to a spokesperson for the chef, Kennedy has decided against teaming up with the brewery. “It was simply a leak—source unknown—that happened while Jamie was still weighing his decision,” says Joanna Dickins, communications manager for Jamie Kennedy Kitchens. “While Jamie was excited about the prospect, after careful consideration (and before signing the formal agreement) he decided it wasn’t a good fit for him and his company.”

The Dish

New Reviews

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Review: Mata serves good Brazilian bar snacks (and some of the best sliders in town)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Mata 1 star
1690 Queen St. W., 647-691-0234
Mata 1 star
1690 Queen St. W., 647-691-0234

Felipe Faccioli, Tulio Lessa and Patrick Fraser, sharing chef duties, cannily opened their South American restaurant during World Cup, projecting matches on one wall and serving bracingly strong cocktails of Brazilian liquor. Even if you’ve never loved the beautiful game, their menu, composed of elevated sports bar snacks, will win you over.

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