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Restaurants

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Best New Restaurants 2015: #20, Patois

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Patois | 794 Dundas St. W., 647-350-8999


I wouldn’t have thought it wise to mess with chow mein until I had Craig Wong’s bastardized version with churrasco-roasted jerk chicken, the spice heat rocketing through the crisped noodles. Like Nick Liu and Fan Zhang, he’s one of a new cohort of chefs, many from the burbs, who are light years past “ethnic” food. He’s chasing the flavours of his youth, pairing pierogi-style pot stickers with kimchee-flavoured sour cream, burgers with Chinese pineapple buns, steak with oyster sauce, and battered green beans with shreds of nori. It’s a delicious and totally Toronto mash-up.

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People

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Q&A: Alvin Leung, MasterChef’s Michelin-starred—and Chinatown-bound—bad guy

(Image: Claire Foster)

(Image: Claire Foster)

If Peoples Eatery wasn’t a sign that Spadina’s Chinatown was changing, then the presence of a triple Michelin–starred chef in the neighbourhood just might be. Alvin Leung—the self-proclaimed “Demon Chef,” and the mean guy on MasterChef Canada—is teaming up with the CTV show’s season one winner, Eric Chong, to open R&D. Set to open in April on Spadina just south of Dundas, it’s a development that’s bound to be interesting, at the very least: Leung, the creator of Hong Kong’s lauded Bo Innovation (where he serves “x-treme Chinese cuisine”), has previously drawn dish inspiration from prophylactics. We sat down with him to chat about being a self-trained chef, yelling as a management technique and his blue-hued hair.

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Free Stuff

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Pie Squared celebrates Pi(e) Day with free pies

(Image: Raina and Wilson)

(Image: Raina and Wilson)

Saturday, March 14 marks Pi Day (get it, 3.14?) and midtown snack shop Pie Squared is celebrating by giving away its pastry pockets. For one hour only, starting at 3:14 p.m. (obviously), customers can get a free pie to satisfy their hunger in that meal-less stretch of time between lunch and dinner. All of the spot’s periodic-table-branded pies are up for grabs during that hour, including the steak and cheese (Sc), Moroccan vegetable (Vm) and the southern pulled pork (Pk). There’s a limit of one complimentary pie per customer, but, if that isn’t enough, pies will be sold for only $3.14 each throughout the rest of the day.

366 Bloor St. E., 647-350-2743, piesquared.com

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Closings

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Swan Restaurant goes under

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

Queen West’s Swan Restaurant, open since 1997, will no longer cure hangovers with its caesars and smoked trout eggs Benny. Owner Damian Heath tells us that the restaurant was operating at a loss and it officially closed yesterday. Two very harsh winters in a row didn’t help much. “Torontonians aren’t very apt to go outside in cool climes like their Saskatchewan relatives,” he said. Heath opened the spot after the owners of the diner previously in Swan’s space died, and he has watched Trinity-Bellwoods go through plenty of change over the course of 17 years. “It was a rough neighbourhood and it’s been a long journey—there was a crack house where Fonda Lola is and the Candy Factory wasn’t even built yet when I started. It’s been interesting to watch. I didn’t want this to end, but it has.”

The Dish

Restaurants

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North of Brooklyn is moving into Get Well

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

A beautiful union will take place this weekend between craft beer, thin crust pizza and vintage arcade games that don’t want your quarters. North of Brooklyn Pizzeria is opening its third restaurant in the Dundas West arcade bar, Get Well, which’ll let guests satisfy their beer-driven hunger while playing a riveting game of Dig Dug. To celebrate the marriage, North of Brooklyn is selling slices for only $1 on Sunday, March 15 and Monday, March 16 between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m. at the new location. Go toast the happy couple with a pint and a slice.

1181 Dundas St. W., northofbrooklyn.com, @northofbrooklyn

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Closings

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This End Up goes down

(Image: Peter Andrew)

This End Up in June 2014 (Image: Peter Andrew)

Dundas West sandwich shop and cocktail bar This End Up, popular for its secret sauce–laced burgers on sesame-seed buns, will serve its last Better Mac this Sunday, March 15. Owners Karen Young and Adam Urquhart have sold the building and, after three years in operation, are closing their restaurant. In an emailed statement, Young extended “heartfelt thanks to each and every one of our customers.  We greatly appreciate all your support and friendship over the past three years. Thank you for letting us serve you.” It’ll be business as usual from now until they close—minus weekend brunch; they’re open those hours, but not serving items from their brunch menu—so fans of the kitchen’s Big Mac taste-alike, Korean chicken wings or kimchili cheese fries have until Sunday to get their fill.

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Food Shops

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Roselle Bakery butters up Corktown

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

Corktown may be losing a wine bar, but a new bakery has moved into the neighbourhood to help residents cope with the loss. Roselle Bakery sells its butter-laden wares on a quiet stretch of King East that’s experiencing some growth thanks to the hood’s new condos and the nearby Canary District development. The people behind the pastry, Stephanie Duong and Bruce Lee, are both graduates of George Brown’s (pastry and culinary arts courses, respectively), and they’ve honed their skills overseas in Paris and Hong Kong. Their calorific creations: perfectly petite banana cream eclairs; Earl Grey shortbread cookie-and-cream sandwiches; sea salt caramels made with raspberries and Stirling butter; and something called cloud cookies—pavlova numbers dotted with rainbow-coloured confetti—that are sure to be a hit with Corktown’s younger crowd (as anything with sprinkles usually is). Sweet crêpes are available on weekends. Duong says savoury galettes and light lunch items are coming, in case anyone feels they need to eat something of substance before moving on to dessert.

362 King St. E., (416) 368-8188, roselleto.com@roselle_to

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Drinks

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Serious Crush: 10 spots that deliver exciting wines and never-snooty service

Serious Crush: Ten spots that deliver exciting wines and never-snooty service

The definition of a Toronto wine bar has morphed dramatically over the past few years. Classic wine-only bars are increasingly scarce, while restaurants with excellent by-the-glass lists and accompanying small plates are proliferating madly. My favourites all offer the wine bar experience, which to me means you can walk in without a reservation, sit at the bar or a nearby table and explore interesting wine guided by smart staff, then move on to the next place in the neighbourhood—or ­hunker down if you really like what you find.

The Dish

Trend Watch

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Nine would-be food trends, from cold brew coffee to pie-flavoured yogurt, at Canada’s biggest restaurant trade show

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(Image: Renée Suen)

What was popular in restaurants across the country last year? Craft beer, locally sourced food, and kale (along with its leafy green cousins—we’re looking at you, chard), according to the results of Restaurants Canada’s annual chef survey.  As for what’ll come next, that’s up to the vendors at this week’s Restaurants Canada Show—or so they hope. And with the number of Toronto chefs in attendance (Susur Lee, Donna Dooher and John Bil to name a few), it’s quite possible that what’s on the tables at this year’s show will end up as answers on next year’s survey. Here’s some of what could be the next big thing.

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Restaurants

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The Chase empire expands to Yorkville with Kasa Moto

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

As if opening four restaurants (The Chase, The Chase Fish & Oyster, Colette Grand Café and Little Fin) in less than two years wasn’t enough, Chase Hospitality Group is adding one more: Kasa Moto, which will serve a menu of contemporary Japanese cuisine overseen by chefs Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga (Kingyo) and Daisuke Izutsu (Don Don Izakaya). The newest addition to the growing Chase family is slated to open this spring at the corner of Yorkville and Hazelton, where Remy’s used to be. Sticking with the “business downstairs, party up top” trend, the second floor will be home to Bar Moto, which will act as both an event space and private dining area, and there’s also a rooftop terrace—home to something called Montage for a very brief time—that’s sure to be a hit come summer.

The Dish

Closings

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Marky and Sparky’s gets smoked out of the Junction

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Marky & Sparky in May 2013. (Image: Caroline Aksich)

No longer will the intersection of Runnymede and Annette smell of hickory smoke: the co-owner of Marky and Sparky’s Smokehouse, Marcus De Simone, has closed his southern barbecue joint. De Simone cryptically explained on Facebook that the closure has something to do with a court order, and that he’s going to move his business ever-so-slightly west—this time, minus Sparky, his former business partner and the owner of neighbouring Butcher by Nature, Frank DiGenova. De Simone is promising that Marky’s BBQ will open March 15, at which point neighbourhood residents will have to follow their noses to 383 Jane St. in Baby Point (formerly the home of Mad Mexican’s taco shop) for their fix of de Simone’s brisket sandwiches and pulled pork platters.

The Dish

Closings

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Rosedale loses Le Petit Castor

(Image: Jenna Marie Wakani)

(Image: Jenna Marie Wakani)

Le Petit Castor, a midtown restaurant that was half pub, half club, quietly closed last weekend. Open since 2008, the one-time hot spot, best known for its potent Pink Panther cocktails, was a place for Rosedalians to cut loose after dinner, when the tables were cleared to make room for dancing. Calls to the bar went unanswered and unreturned, but owner Luke McCann announced via Instagram that he has sold the business. Meanwhile, the precocious beavers on Le Petit Castor’s cutesy Flash-driven website continue to canoe and skydive like nothing’s up.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Come and Get It is selling sandwiches for a toonie today

(Image: Come and Get It)

This week marks Come and Get It’s first anniversary as a permanent restaurant, and to celebrate, the former pop-up is practically giving away sandwiches today from noon until whenever they sell out (or 4 p.m., whichever comes first). Those willing to stand in line during their lunch hour can buy any sandwich off the snack bar’s menu for only a toonie. There’s a limit of two per customer, but if you do the meal math, that still means a sandwich-based lunch and dinner for under five bucks. If you can’t make it to Queen West today, owner Jon Polubiec says to keep an eye on the restaurant’s Twitter account, where   they’ll be announcing daily specials (and some nightly drink ones) until Friday.

676 Queen St. W., 647-344-3416, comeandgetit.ca, @ComeAndGetIt416

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Toronto Life Events

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Best Restaurants Event 2015

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Join us at Toronto Life’s inaugural Best Restaurants event in celebration of the top 20 most exciting new restaurants as featured in the April issue. For one-night only, Toronto Life brings together the city’s top chefs of 2015 for a special curated menu of food and drink. Skip the line-ups and eat your way through the list of Toronto Life’s Best New Restaurants of 2015. Plus, enjoy beer pairings from Iain McOustra, brewmaster at Amsterdam Brewery, and local, fresh hand-roasted coffee from Muldoon’s.

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Closings

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Gilead Café and Wine Bar is closing next month (but if anyone wants to keep it open, it’s for sale)

(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

On Thursday, Jamie Kennedy announced through a tweet that Gilead Café and Wine Bar, his cozy bistro hidden down a Corktown laneway, would close at the end of next month. A day later, the chef had another announcement: the restaurant and everything in it was up for sale, right down to its “three-litre continuous feed ice cream maker.” The restaurant, open since 2008, underwent a redux early last year, bringing back evening dinner and drinks service after kiboshing it for event space in 2012. It’s up to the new owners whether or not the Gilead name stays, but just in case the new folks aren’t french fry lovers, fans of chef Kennedy’s frites (he’s one, himself) have until March 31 to get their fill.