Jump to content


Photo

Toronto, at the moment


  • Please log in to reply
286 replies to this topic

#16 Sneakeater

Sneakeater

    Advanced Member

  • Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 41,434 posts

Posted 18 August 2011 - 04:06 PM

I THOUGHT NOT!
Bar Loser

MF Old

#17 GordonCooks

GordonCooks

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,630 posts

Posted 18 August 2011 - 09:08 PM

I miss Toronto but it's just not cost prohibitive lately with the exchange. The places I would go to are 500.00-600.00 a meal (ouch!) And, yes, there are a lot of mid-range choices but how much Neapolitan pizza can one eat in life? NY & Philly are much cheaper lately.

I do miss the Toronto esthetic though, money can't buy that.
Jazz is musical improvisation; it is the art of the moment. In the recording of jazz, the inspiration and inventiveness of this moment is made permanent by technology, giving pleasure many years after the performance.

Photography is jazz for the eye. - William Claxton

#18 Adrian

Adrian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,537 posts

Posted 18 August 2011 - 10:32 PM

I miss Toronto but it's just not cost prohibitive lately with the exchange. The places I would go to are 500.00-600.00 a meal (ouch!) And, yes, there are a lot of mid-range choices but how much Neapolitan pizza can one eat in life? NY & Philly are much cheaper lately.

I do miss the Toronto esthetic though, money can't buy that.


And (at least in terms of Western food) not worth it when compared to the options elsewhere in Canada, let alone NYC. The top end is hollow these days, even if you are a fan of Canoe. North 44 is charging $40 for ahi tuna. It's a joke. Still, I'm excited to try the new Hoof venture when it opens, Ortolan, Woodlot, Ici Bistro and and a few others. I wish that someone would open something with some sort of ambition here, however.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#19 GordonCooks

GordonCooks

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,630 posts

Posted 19 August 2011 - 02:37 PM


I miss Toronto but it's just not cost prohibitive lately with the exchange. The places I would go to are 500.00-600.00 a meal (ouch!) And, yes, there are a lot of mid-range choices but how much Neapolitan pizza can one eat in life? NY & Philly are much cheaper lately.

I do miss the Toronto esthetic though, money can't buy that.


And (at least in terms of Western food) not worth it when compared to the options elsewhere in Canada, let alone NYC. The top end is hollow these days, even if you are a fan of Canoe. North 44 is charging $40 for ahi tuna. It's a joke. Still, I'm excited to try the new Hoof venture when it opens, Ortolan, Woodlot, Ici Bistro and and a few others. I wish that someone would open something with some sort of ambition here, however.


Back in the old days of Avalon, Centro, Easy & The Fifth (w Marc Thuet), Susur, JK Wine bar, Scaramouche (still very good)

All very "Toronto" in my book for reasons unexplained.
Jazz is musical improvisation; it is the art of the moment. In the recording of jazz, the inspiration and inventiveness of this moment is made permanent by technology, giving pleasure many years after the performance.

Photography is jazz for the eye. - William Claxton

#20 Adrian

Adrian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,537 posts

Posted 19 August 2011 - 03:02 PM

Tell me about it. I first cut my teeth on fine dining restaurants in Montreal and Toronto. Wasn't a huge fan of JK Wine Bar but appreciated what he was doing. Susur was ambitious, flawed and really interesting. Flawed, in this case, is somewhat of a compliment - when Susur failed it was because he was reaching for the stars and narrowly missing. Splendido too was really hitting its stride. I remember a special dinner there with Cumbrae (just after their expansion to Bayview) showcasing some really excellent products. It's kind of unfortunate what became of both Susur and David Lee.

Oh and California Sandwiches owns Torissi for lunch. Maybe I'll post on that later.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#21 prasantrin

prasantrin

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 5,276 posts

Posted 19 August 2011 - 11:02 PM

I miss Toronto but it's just not cost prohibitive lately with the exchange. The places I would go to are 500.00-600.00 a meal (ouch!) And, yes, there are a lot of mid-range choices but how much Neapolitan pizza can one eat in life? NY & Philly are much cheaper lately.

I do miss the Toronto esthetic though, money can't buy that.


Which places in TO are 500-600/meal? I was researching places for a recent trip, and I didn't find any prices approaching that. But maybe they're places that aren't as well-known?

#22 Adrian

Adrian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,537 posts

Posted 20 August 2011 - 12:45 AM


I miss Toronto but it's just not cost prohibitive lately with the exchange. The places I would go to are 500.00-600.00 a meal (ouch!) And, yes, there are a lot of mid-range choices but how much Neapolitan pizza can one eat in life? NY & Philly are much cheaper lately.

I do miss the Toronto esthetic though, money can't buy that.


Which places in TO are 500-600/meal? I was researching places for a recent trip, and I didn't find any prices approaching that. But maybe they're places that aren't as well-known?


I think it was a slight exaggeration by Gordon. You can pretty easily get to $500+ for two at Canoe, Scaramouche, Colborne Lane, etc depending on whether you go tasting and what wine you order. Hashimoto is $300 a head and they're doing full on Kyoto kaiseki and importing from Japan. People say it's quite good. I'm sure you can do sharks fin or bird's nest at Lai Wah Heen and get there too. My view is that none of the high end Western joints are worthwhile. The Asian ones may be. I haven't been.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#23 GordonCooks

GordonCooks

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,630 posts

Posted 22 August 2011 - 09:19 PM


I miss Toronto but it's just not cost prohibitive lately with the exchange. The places I would go to are 500.00-600.00 a meal (ouch!) And, yes, there are a lot of mid-range choices but how much Neapolitan pizza can one eat in life? NY & Philly are much cheaper lately.

I do miss the Toronto esthetic though, money can't buy that.


Which places in TO are 500-600/meal? I was researching places for a recent trip, and I didn't find any prices approaching that. But maybe they're places that aren't as well-known?

A couple of tasting menus or even apps w entrees are 100.00 plus from Canoe, ByMark, Coleborne, etc. A "good" bottle of wine is over 100.00 (mostly more and maybe drinks before, after) Dessert, taxes, 20% (at least )tip? I somehow managed to spend 500.00 at Biff's and I even brought a bottle with me.
Jazz is musical improvisation; it is the art of the moment. In the recording of jazz, the inspiration and inventiveness of this moment is made permanent by technology, giving pleasure many years after the performance.

Photography is jazz for the eye. - William Claxton

#24 Wilfrid

Wilfrid

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 69,566 posts

Posted 22 August 2011 - 10:43 PM

I had plenty of fun eating and shopping in Toronto when the Canadian dollar could be bought for 60 cents.

#25 Adrian

Adrian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,537 posts

Posted 25 August 2011 - 03:07 PM

You're all going to TIFF right? You worldly, high falutin New Yorkers, will be trekking out to the provinces for the one, shining, glistening moment in September where Nick Nolte stumbles drunk out of Soto Soto and across Avenue Road at 4 AM?! Armed with nothing but your wits and a copy of NY Mag, endeavoring to try the hot new restaurants listed here? And what's the first one on the list? Ortolan? Do they serve it there? Plumped and drowned and eaten whole? No, of course not, that's illegal (no Ortolan extensions given out this year). What it is is hot and new. So, worldly New Yorkers heading to the provinces, should you go?

No. If this is the "kind of restaurant Toronto does best" my hometown needs a rethink because this shouldn't do. It serves exactly the food you expect a small, no reservations, woody place in an ish neighborhood (payphones stop working at 6:00pm to hinder business transactions) to serve - seasonal! farm-to-table! chalkboard menu! - and it does so competently. It employs the standard tricks that pump up check size: shared plates at the start, small portions, and lots of sides. Socca is topped with a good creamy burrata and is a touch oily. Skirt steak is a little too chewy. Gnocchi with chanterelles are flavorful if a tad heavy. Cooking is surprisingly precise - the skin is crispy on the sea bream, the pork is just pink. Not quite enough peaches on the otherwise nice lavender panna cotta. And yet it's nothing.

Have these guys been to Gramercy Tavern? Blue Hill? Franny's? Joe Beef? The Black Hoof? These places have a clarity of vision, something to say or, at the very least, ingredients worth a premium. Ortolan has basic competency and good, greenmarket ingredients. What about this concept (lord knows it can't be the ROI) made these two young, by all accounts talented, cooks halt their training at more technical, established, professional places to open this? Were they so inspired by pretty okay ingredients that they felt the need to showcase them in a simple, competent way!?!?!? Did they have an idea to serve their own, derivative, version of exactly the same type of food that every small new bistro in town is serving?!?! That's what the L'Astrance guys were thinking right? Or those Roberta's kids? Or Susur Lee twenty years ago, at Lotus, with twelve tables, serving what was apparently the city's best food?

Why do this? It's not a bad restaurant. Far from it. If I lived in Bloordale Village, and I might yet, I'd go frequently for bite when I'm lazy or when I just want to go out. I just don't understand the dullness of concept, the lack of energy on the plate. You're young (I'm young)! Aren't you inspired or excited? Don't you want to refine your skill working among the best? Or must you get away from that world because you have to unleash some primal scream to announce your arrival? Or maybe you don't need broadcast but merely sign your own corner of the world with something uniquely yours? Something a little different and very lovely? This can't be that, press clippings and praise aside.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#26 Adrian

Adrian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,537 posts

Posted 18 September 2011 - 03:59 PM

Pretty good performance of The Price at Soulpepper last night. Take in a play if you're ever in Toronto, the distillery district is a cute little yuppie Disneyland. Like Fort Point in Boston with no one actually living there. Anyway, Gilead Cafe for dinner before hand. Jaimie Kennedy is some sort of celebrity chef here. I don't know why. He cooks good fries and that's about it. Anyway, you guys in New York think Osteria Morini is bland? Blue Hill is bland? You don't know bland. This place was the 4'33" of flavour. Lots of nice things pickling in jars on the wall and some people dressed up for the theater. The wines were all Ontario, showcasing the distinctive terroir of 401 exhaust fumes. Blackboard menu too. Some lady eating with a small pot of salt in front of her and reading a book. Good call, lady, good call. Pleasant enough place to eat a meal, I'll just never go there again.

Brickworks farmer's market yesterday morning as well. Think of the Union Square farmer's market except in an abandoned brick factory in a reclaimed quarry in the middle of a vast, wild, urban ravine. Breakfast? Sourdough bread, properly made scrambled eggs (some poor school high kid over the pot stirring like a mad man for my enjoyment), aged cheddar, bacon, $7. Stunning produce right now. Tomatoes are just at the end of peak. Heirloom everything: baby zucchini, carrots, squash, and on and on. Mushrooms galore. Ontario sweet corn, almost too sweet this year. Beautiful, but it still needs salt.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#27 Adrian

Adrian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,537 posts

Posted 22 September 2011 - 03:09 PM

Take this for what you will: Over the last year, Toronto has seen the opening of a new Neapolitan pizzeria, a porchetta sandwich shop, and a meatball only restaurant. Porter Air has also expanded the number of flights to New York.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#28 Suzanne F

Suzanne F

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 16,749 posts

Posted 22 September 2011 - 03:56 PM

Take this for what you will: Over the last year, Toronto has seen the opening of a new Neapolitan pizzeria, a porchetta sandwich shop, and a meatball only restaurant. Porter Air has also expanded the number of flights to New York.


Well, at least the latter statement is good news.

I don't want to seem obsessed with this, but . . . -- Sneakeater, August 13, 2014

 

notorious stickler -- NY Times
deeply annoying and nitpicking -- Molly O'Neill, One Big Table


#29 Adrian

Adrian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,537 posts

Posted 10 October 2011 - 03:01 PM

No dining out worth mentioning recently. Instead, a quick coffee round-up.

My general disappointment with food in this town has given way to a realization: this is a really good coffee city. Why? I have not an idea. Food here has been pretty boring as of late, although Keriwa Cafe looks really interesting, hopefully I make it there soon, and the cocktail scene is likely the worst among any major city in the US and Canada (off the top of my head, not having any experience on the West Coast, NYC, Boston, DC, and Atlanta are all much better. Montreal just doesn't care). The coffee here is really good so long as you put in a measure of effort. And I haven't even been to Sam James Coffee, which people are telling me is the best. The only downer here is that all places are using standard store bought milk, no crazy rich farm to table shizzle. On to the quicky reviews:

Lit: A couple locations (Roncesvalles, College, Queen West), they are the one place in town serving Stumpbucks. They're not pulling shots as consistently as Stumptown in the Ace, but you know what you're going to get in terms of flavor.

Bulldog: One near Yonge and Eglinton, one on Church. Good, rich tasting coffee, maybe not as subtle and complex as some of the others. The two guys doing the latte art at Yonge and Eglinton are incredible. They use a custom roasted blend from some local guy. The signature drink, The Bulldog, is a double latte with too much milk. Go with a macchiato.

Dark Horse: Queen West, Chinatown, and Leslieville. I found the espresso here a little sharp. Still quite good and some swear by it. I believe they're doing pour-overs as well.

Mercury Espresso: Very good Leslieville joint. Also do siphon, chemex and pour-over. They use Terroir coffee to a good result. I prefer it to Dark Horse down the street.

Hula Girl: Unremarkable but fairly local. Wasn't impressed with the espresso - a little to bitter, a little bit of ash tray. The drip coffee here (I know, I know) is good.

Crema: Junction, Bloor and Bay, Spadina, Bathurst. Killer. Among the best I've had anywhere. Deep, rich, complex flavor. They've got a siphon and a Clover as well.

See, quick and useful.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#30 Adrian

Adrian

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 7,537 posts

Posted 18 October 2011 - 03:30 PM

Ugh.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.