introducing

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Introducing: Blackbird Baking Co., a new Kensington bakery backed by The Spotted Pig’s April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman

Good morning, breakfast foccacia. We love you. (Image: Jackie Pal)

Good morning, breakfast foccacia. We love you. (Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: Blackbird Baking Co.
Contact Info: 172 Baldwin St., Toronto., 416.708.3475, blackbirdbakingco.com, @bbirdco
Neighbourhood: Kensington Market
Owner: Simon Blackwell, David Castellan & Cynthia Leung (of SOMA) and April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (of The Spotted Pig)
Baker: Simon Blackwell 

The Food:  Crusty multigrains, wild-yeasted sourdough baguettes, and airy focaccias like the Morrocan – a perfectly stretched and dimpled dough dusted with za’atar, black cumin and crunchy sea salt. Simon Blackwell, owner and head baker follows traditional techniques, like hand-mixing all of the starters, kneading the dough by hand and relying on the intuitive touch of the “bakers hands” to know when the dough has reached its perfect fermentation. Other offerings include, daily sandwiches like the ham and cheese squeezed between chewy foccacia and mini breakfast foccacias topped with cheese, herbs and a freshly cracked egg in the middle, which is then finished in the stone oven. Soon to arrive are the Pizzete’s – small Italian pizzas. Chocolate hazelnut cakes, a selection of sweet or savory scones and sticky buns are available daily for the pastry-inclined customer. 

The Drinks: San Pellegrino sparkling fruit beverages and water. 

The Place:  Wanting to restore the retail space to its original, pre-Cobs charm, Simon and his team stripped the walls to reveal red bricks and intricate flaws from former businesses, like original tenant Lottman’s Bakery.  A wood and iron shelf displays boules, batards and baguettes in vintage stoneware and wine crates, along with a variety of grains from CIPM above, while the opposite wall offers other local artisan products like honey. Light floods into the intimate space thanks to floor to ceiling windows and double glass doors are left open, allowing the smell of freshly baked bread to waft across Baldwin St.

The Numbers:
• 400 sourdough loaves baked everyday
• 240 °C, the set temperature of the stone oven for baking all of the sourdoughs
• 1:00am, arrival of the first bakers to mix the baguette dough and turn ovens on
•11 hours, the average daily work hours of a baker
• 2 collaboration breads with breweries, including using Bellwoods Brewery’s spent grain
• 1:00pm, the time Blackbird sold out of bread on opening day
• 3 years, the time Simon’s sourdough starter has been fermenting

The Dish

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Introducing: Market Street Catch, the less chaotic Buster’s Sea Cove spin-off

(Image: Jackie Pal)

(Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: Market Street Catch
Contact Info: 14 Market St., 647-391-8140, marketstreetcatch.com, @MarketSt_Catch
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence Market
Owner: Tom Antonarakis, owner of Buster’s Sea Cove food stall and food truck.

The Food: All types of seafood, including octopus, calamari, smelts and salmon, are displayed on ice—so fresh you may spot a fin twitching. Favourites like the halibut and chips from Buster’s Sea Cove and the fish-taco plate from its food truck are all available at Market Street Catch. New items that you won’t find at either sister location include pickerel, arctic char and an oyster po’ boy. Three large chalkboards display a variety of ways to eat the day’s catch: via roll, poutine, fried or grilled. (Yes, lobster poutine.)

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Introducing: Rakia Bar, a new outpost of the Slavic restaurant occupying the old Hrvati space

Introducing: Rakia Bar, a new outpost of the Slavic restaurant occupying the old Hrvati space

Name: Rakia Bar
Contact Info: 690 Euclid Ave.rakiabar.com, @RakiaBarTO, 647-350-4227
Neighbourhood: The Annex
Owner:
Dušan Varga, owner of the Leslieville Rakia Bar outpost
Chef: Dustin Peck (The Auld Spot, Politica)

The Food: Traditional Balkan fare like ćevapi (“ché-vap-ee”), grilled mixed meat kebabs, and sarma—that’s sauerkraut leaves stuffed with a pork-beef mix (imagine a Polish cabbage roll, but tangier). Baka might not approve of the Canadian spins of Slavic fare like a rabbit goulash poutine, but vegetarians will be thankful for the hearty veg-friendly options like a meatless stuffed bell pepper.

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Introducing: Dundas Park Kitchen, a new takeout sandwich shop in Roncesvalles

Introducing: Dundas Park Kitchen

Name: Dundas Park Kitchen
Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles
Contact Info: 2066 Dundas St. W., 647-351-4793, dundasparkkitchen.ca/, @DundasPark
Owners/Chefs: Husband-and-wife team Alex Tso, former head chef at Amuse in the Beach, and Melanie Harris, pastry chef at Aria next to the ACC

The Food: Soups, salads and sandwiches, like marinated eggplant on focaccia with squash hummus, olive salad and onion jam. Take-out dinners consist of whole roast chickens with sides like chickpea salad and coleslaw. Homemade cookies, cakes and galettes for dessert.

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Introducing: Origin North, the new uptown tapas restaurant from Claudio Aprile

Introducing: Origin North

Name: Origin North
Neighborhood: Bayview Village
Contact Info: 2901 Bayview Ave, www.originnorth.com, 416-479-8833
Owner and Chef: Claudio Aprile (Colborne Lane)

The Food: The international menu of small plates veers Italian with dishes like mascarpone-sweet pea risotto, chorizo-and-smoked-tomato parpadelle, and a dedicated mozzarella bar (as at the King St. location) serving crostini topped with mozzarella di bufala and fiore de latte.

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Introducing: Jelly Modern Doughnuts, a new gourmet doughnut shop on College Street

Jelly Modern Doughnut

Name: Jelly Modern Doughnuts
Neighbourhood: Harbord Village
Contact Info: 376 College St., 416-962-2053, jellymodern-toronto.myshopify.com, @JellyModern
Owners: Rita and Rosanne Tripathy
Pastry chef: Grayson Shermon

The Food: Pastel-pretty doughnuts with glazes, fillings and toppings that are mostly made in-house. The menu changes daily, but flavours like maple bacon, s’mores, peanut butter cup and salted caramel are permanent fixtures. There’s also a rotating doughnut of the month; for June, the Hollywood Bollywood: a salted caramel doughnut topped with Indian-spiced caramel corn and deep-fried carrot curls.

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Introducing: Common Goods, a new food court housed in shipping crates at Harbourfront

Introducing Common Ground

(Image: Lee McVittie)

Name: Common Goods (Blue Goose, Lobster Roll and Sully’s Honest Dogs)
Neighbourhood: Harbourfront
Contact Info: 235 Queen Quay West
Owners: All three restaurants are co-owned by Blue Goose Company, Jim Bailey and Michael Sullivan (Victor)
Chef: David Chrystian (Victor), for all three restaurants

The Place: Common Goods is a cluster of reclaimed shipping containers housing three separate restaurants: Blue Goose, Lobster Roll and Sully’s Honest Dogs. Tucked beside the Power Plant Art Gallery at Harbourfront Centre, the crates are designed by Montreal firm Muvbox and painted with cartoon cows and lobsters. Each fully equipped crate kitchen is solar-powered.

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Introducing: Craft Dogs, a new place for artisanal street meat on King East

Introducing: Craft Dogs

Name: Craft Dogs
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence
Contact Info: 95 King St. E., 647-748-2033, craftdogs.com
Owners: Craig Smith, Brian Morin and Kathleen McGinn (Beerbistro)

The Food: Handmade hot dogs with organic hormone-, antibiotic- and preservative-free ingredients. The French fries are cooked in beef and duck fat and the condiments, like smoked ketchup and smoked-pepper mayo, are made in-house.

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Introducing: Valdez, the new Latin American restaurant from Top Chef Canada alum Steve Gonzalez

Introducing: Valdez

Name: Valdez
Neighbourhood: King West
Contact Info: 606 King Street W., www.valdezrestaurant.com, @thevaldezTO
Owners: Steve Gonzalez (Origin, Top Chef Canada)
Chef: Steve Gonzalez

The Food: Latin American street food, including fried empanadas, squid ink ceviche and a milky dessert made with dulce de leche. An adobe pork dish requires 48-hours notice and feeds eight.

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Introducing: Fika, a charming new café in Kensington Market from Victor Barry and Nikki Leigh McKean

Introducing: Fika

Name: FIKA
Neighbourhood: Kensington Market
Contact Info: 28 Kensington Ave., http://Fika.ca/, @Fikakensington.
Owners: Nikki Leigh McKean and Victor Barry (Splendido, County General)
Chef:
Victor Barry

The Food: Ready-made sandwiches, daily soups, pastries and specials. Most of the baked goods are prepared in Splendido’s kitchen, including the croissants and caraway rye and rosemary potato breads used in the smoked salmon smorrebrod and mortadella panini. Barry is planning to do pop-up specials, like smoked barbecue, on the patio for Pedestrian Sundays this summer.

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Introducing: Switch, the new downtown bar and rec room from Hanif Harji

Switch

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Name: Switch
Neighbourhood:
Downtown Core
Contact Info:
55 Colborne St., 416-901-9990, switchtoronto.com
Owners:
Hanif Harji (Patria, Weslodge)

The Food: A pan-global menu of sharing plates. Dishes range from finger snacks (cheesy truffle popcorn and spiced, smoked marcona almonds) to more substantial nosh (scotch eggs and haute dogs). The kitchen is open from 5-10 p.m. and reopens at midnight with a curated selection of snacks.

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Introducing: Woods, a fancy new restaurant in St. Lawrence Market from the former Modus chef

Woods

(Image: Megan Leahy)

Name: Woods
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence Market
Contact info: 45 Colborne Street, 416-214-9918, woodsrestaurant.ca
Owners: Bruce Woods and Robin Singh
Chef: Executive Chef Bruce Woods (Modus, Brasaii, Centro) and Chef de Cuisine Anthony Davis (Sidecar, Cowbell, The Roosevelt Room)

The Food: An eclectic menu with a farm-to-table ethos, including appetizers like wild Digby scallops and seared Quebec foie gras and mains from spaghetti and meatballs to roasted Muscovy duck breast with dried cherries and duck egg béarnaise. There’s also a bar menu (dishes are in the $10-15 range) for the after-work cocktail crowd.

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Introducing: Enzo Pizza Bar, the new make-your-own pizza joint on Queen Street West

Introducing: Enzo Pizza Bar

Name: Enzo Pizza Bar
Neighbourhood:
Queen West
Contact Info:
646 Queen St W., 416-366-0009, getenzo.com, @enzopizzabar
Owner:
Ryan Menchella

The Food: Customizable personal pizzas. Diners choose a sauce (white or red) and toppings (cheese, meat and veggies). There’s also a list of nine ready-to-order ‘zas, including the classic margherita and the more exotic filomena topped with würstel.

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The Goods

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Introducing: Gotstyle’s new Distillery District store, with clothes for men and women

Introducing: Gotstyle Distillery

Although Gotstyle’s new two-storey store in the Distillery District is still a work-in-progress, the stunning space—originally a stable building—already has the elements of a retail destination. Currently in soft launch mode, Gotstyle Distillery breaks from the menswear-only catalogue of the Bathurst and Wellington location with a range of fashion-forward women’s brands like Cuchara, Sashin and Babi and Rebecca Minkoff. The prices reflect the diversity of the wares, with some button-ups just clearing $100 and outerwear breaking the $1,000 mark.

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Introducing: British clothier Ted Baker London opens its first store in Canada at Yorkdale mall in Toronto

Ted Baker London is one of five reputed international brands to open its first Canadian store at the newly renovated Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto (the others are Loft, Kate Spade New York, Microsoft and Tesla Motors). The label started as a men’s shirt specialist in Glasgow in the late 80s, but has since expanded into accessories, shoes and women’s apparel. The collections for both genders—as well as the store’s Canadian-wilderness-meets-British-countryside decor—show a fondness for colour and pattern, subtle British-inspired details and a sharp sense of humour.

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