Archive for the ‘resto reviews’ Category

Sushi Inn

I’m a fake critic.

Third party claims. And by third parties, I mean friends. And by fake critic, I mean they claim I love everything I eat.

Until tonight.

Tonight, I “finally” experienced disappointment.

Sushi Inn. Yorkville.

Yes, deliberate insertion. Who assumed it would be fantastic (or at least half-decent) merely based on location? I DID. Shame on me. Wrong assumption. It was bad. So bad, didn’t even want to take pictures. I know. Serious, right?

It pains (not this time), but forgettable:
Yam Tempura, Spicy salmon maki, Spicy tuna maki, Dragon B (aka Red Dragon)

Q: When does locale compensate for poor quality? It doesn’t. To describe in one: sloppy. Rolls so loose, they don’t stand a chance with your chopsticks. Rolls that just fall apart. Rolls so lacking in presentation. Teeny, tiny rolls. Yep, even the Dragon B…all smoke, no fire. Bits of shrimp tempura, avocado, salmon, tobiko…naked & exposed for the world to see… or rather, our judging eyes.

Did they run out of sushi rice? Did they try a new rice vinegar? Did they bypass the fresh fish market? Did they hire a new sushi chef apprentice? Sigh. Endless questions.

And the best part… IT WAS PACKED!!

No words.

[Sidebar]: T & I  were particularly distracted by the couple sitting next to us, who appeared to be on their – hmm, wild guess – 2nd date, eating quite possibly the s-l-o-w-e-s-t meal of all time. One udon noodle at a time. Agonizing. Yet, bizarrely fascinating.

Ok, meanie rant is over. Starved. Need a midnight snack.

How’s that for a scathing review? I feel dirty.

120 Cumberland St.


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N & I were searching for the greatest little patio over the long weekend. Timely, this post is not. Pls forgive, life has been a bit of a whirlwind! Anyway, we were about to brunch. Our favourite activity :)

Queen W. was our neighbourhood for the day, and two places immediately came to mind: Saving Grace or Swan. Unfortunately, no patio for Saving Grace, and Swan didn’t particularly appeal to N.

Ruthless in our pursuit for sun and good food, we wandered off and found ourselves at the Hoof Café. Be still my heart. Literally. Suckling pig benny, rabbit buckwheat pancakes, tongue grilled cheese, side of bone marrow… you know, your everyday brunch menu. Have wanted to try for AGES, but alas, no patio and stuffed with carnivores. Another time.

With that, I suggested La Bréhandaise. Deliciously simple, quintessentially French, with a great, secluded patio around the back. N was happy. She had been dying to try their savoury galettes (buckwheat crêpes)…and I could already taste their sweet dessert crêpes.

photo cred: Stephen Chung

What I’ve come to realize – if ever in doubt, overwhelmed by options or completely undecided b/c everything looks so good – ask your server.

And so, we looked up trustingly at John. Without hesitation, he rhymed off his favourites…food confidence, could anything be more attractive?

We ordered, and while we waited, enjoyed the sun and sipped their newest hard cider from Bretagne. Served in traditional bolée cups, the Coat-Albert was refreshingly light…happy gals we were that day.  

photo cred: Stephen Chung

Galettes were lightly filled, folded, topped with an over easy egg and choice topping.  Initial reaction? Deflation. Ouch. Why? Buckwheat : filling ratio. Where was the rest of it?! Tasty, but disappointingly sparse (or authentically thin – whichever way you want to look at it). And then…the salad. Iceberg lettuce? Deflation x 2. Hrmph! Why why why. When it’s so easy not to do it…why?

Slightly mollified when John said the magic words – “sweet crêpes, ladies?” Absolutely. Hmm, salted butter caramel or caramelized apple or strawberry coulis & whipped cream? No, what we wanted were bananas, warm chocolate sauce, & a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Oui, s’il vous plaît. Satisfied smiles.

Food photos are taken by John, who also served as our photographer for the afternoon. Really, he hijacked my camera. But, who am I to complain? Gladly handed over.

La Jugonaise: Galette with egg, ham, Emmental & creamy mushrooms

La Saint Glennaise: Galette with egg, ham, Emmental & onion compote

Pléneuf: Crêpe with banana & hot chocolate sauce

Simple fare and tasty. Sweet crêpes… infinitely more satisfying. Would love to know your thoughts – agree or disagree? By the way, the chocolate sauce, strawberry & raspberry sauce, salted butter caramel & crème Chantilly are homemade.

942 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON

Closed Mondays.

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Fried chicken & waffles.

Most unusual combination.

Or not ;)

It was one of those days. And Harlem was just the place for a little soul food. A classic Southern gluttonous experience of finger-licking good.

You’ve never seen a table so excited to scan a menu. Scan it we did…over and over again. Appetizers: catfish lafayette or bayou baked brie? Entreés: jambalaya or braised short ribs? Sides: mac n’ cheese or corn bread? We debated like it was our last meal. And frankly, felt like it was gonna be mine that day.

Two words: Red wine.

Sigh. No further story. With too many options swirling, we did the next best thing and asked our lovely server. Without hesitation, her response – “chicken & waffles”.

Really! Well, now. Someone had to order it.

Hand up.

Verdict: Insanely good. Absolutely hit the spot. Dare we say, perfect?

Perfect for what I needed on that painfully…painful day. Any other day and enthusiasm would’ve been muted. But to be fair, will definitely come back for round II.

…once we’re able to button our jeans up again.

Stand-out dishes:

Catfish Lafayette
(seasoned deep fried morsels of succulent fish w/ a great sweet & hot sauce + jerk scallion mayo)

Cajun Tempura Fried Okra
(part of 2% of population who loves okra. don’t care. pair that w. a crispy tempura batter, satisfying!)

Honourable mentions:

Southern Fried Chicken & Waffle with a chipolte-coriander-lime maple syrup
(crackling skin & juicy meat, combined with sweet waffles smothered in syrup…comfort food at its best)

Sweet potato fries
(with that wickedly good chipotle mayo)

It pains, but unforgettable:

Braised short ribs seared & slow simmered in rich thyme-molasses-scotch bonnet pepper & veg stew
(N enjoyed, but wasn’t blown away & it was a little too fatty for our liking)

Fried Plantains
(sticky…in a “hold pls, need to unlock jaw first” kinda way)

Until next time:

Hot Crab & Crawfish Dip with chili-garlic toast

Harlem Jambalaya
(shrimp, chicken, smoked sausage, catfish & crab meat w. seasoned rice)

Blackened Catfish
(J’s dish. Too busy licking fingers to try…next time.)

Great, casual, easy vibe. Serving Cajun & Creole, Harlem (Underground) is good.

Too good. Once-in-a-quarter-let-it-all-go-good.


Harlem Underground
745 Queen St. W
Harlem East Side
67 Richmond St. E

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Last dining experience? 24 days ago. Don’t ask how I remember… it’s disturbing, I know.

After a glorious 6-week binge (there’s no other word), wallet cried mercy.

And so, it ceased. Regretfully.

But we’re back! And what better restaurant to try than Union? On the list for months & much-anticipated… with no tastebuds. Ok, slight exaggeration, but how does one manage to be stuffy and runny at the same time?! Never understood.

Anyway, NG was duly forewarned and off we went!

Tiny restaurant. Great space. Effortlessly casual. Free-drawn mural covering one expanse of the wall. Open-kitchen. Yes.

photo cred: Robert Brodey

Menu is startlingly small, but it’s not about quantity. Nearly half of the menu changes according to what’s available at the markets that day. Chef Teo Paul’s dedication to fresh and local.

And since NG is currently doing a nineteen-day sunrise-to-sunset Bahá’í fast, we had the added element of pure appreciation for food that night. Heightened senses to offset sniffly senses. Great partnership. ;)

What I didn’t have, was the new camera. For shame. Regardless, verbal depiction of our experience – hope you enjoy.

Outstanding dishes:

Sticky ribs: pork ribs on the bone with smoked & bruised pork belly

(If you like ribs. love ribs. lukewarm about ribs. hell, even if you hate ribs. You MUST try.
Sauce. Ridiculously good. That’s all)

Fresh fish: White fish w/ roasted vegetables & seasonal greens

(Succulently flaky, moist, tender, and boldly-seasoned. Rarely used for fish, but it fits. And the roasted vegetables…perfect accompaniment)

Honourable mentions:

Elk sliders w/ miran galangal glaze & pickle on challah

(Meaty & juicy with a bite from the pickled pickle. Slight disappointment with the toast – think high end hamburger bun, visual letdown)

Sides: Frites & winter-style potatoes w/ yogurt, radish & chives

(3/4 of the way through our meal – surprise! oh my. just perfect for dipping into that sweet, slightly spicy, wickedly good rib sauce)

Until next time:

Haddock cakes – Charcuterie – Crispy Polenta Gratin – Roast Bird – Soup du jour – Plat du jour
(for the adventurous. oh so exciting!)

…clearly need to go back.

And another reason? Laissez-faire Saturdays.
Cue east coast oysters, in-house charcuterie, artisanal cheeses & vino. H-E-A-V-E-N.

Every Saturday from noon–5:30pm

Who’s joining me this weekend?

72 Ossington Ave
Toronto, ON

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Tutti Matti

It’s becoming a bit of a tradition at O – birthday lunches at Tutti Matti.    

And we were back, celebrating our lovely M last Friday.     

Getting nine people out the door, at the same time, on time, for a reservation – a feat in itself. Best part, the restaurant is next door (literally). And, bless them – we’re forgiven each time. So, shortly after 12:30pm, we walk in.      

And our eyes widened.     

Packed. Every table, every seat. Conversations swirling. Cutlery clinking. Lips silently smacking. The restaurant was humming. Ahh, Winterlicious. Alida Solomon’s cooking.   

Some of us opted in, some opted out…pourquoi?     


You know what I’m referring to. When a dish is that good, it inspires loyalty. So, why deny yourself the pleasure? I would never judge. And if I did, throw “arctic char. black cod. Foxley” back in my face.   

That’ll teach me.     

On the other hand, we thought we knew every pasta on the menu. Oh, were we mistaken!  6 days later, still thinking about them. That’s right, plural.     


Stand-out dishes:     

Pappardelle con stracotto
(changed my life. well, for 90min. And for a few others as well.)    

hand cut pappardelle with pulled brisket, tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs


Tortelli di asparagi
(complete surprise. “WOW.” one bite, that’s all it takes. sweet deliciousness in each tortelli)    

tortelli: ricotta and mascarpone cheese, pumpkin, mint with butter & sage


Tagliatelle con cinghiale
(inspires loyalty in many,  you’ll be next – i guarantee it.)     

hand cut pasta, wild boar stew, porcini mushrooms



Honourable mentions:    

Fettucine aglione
– hand cut pasta with organic tomatoes, garlic and extra virgin olive oil –
(one of my personal favs. simplicity wins.)    

Carpaccio di manzo 
– beef carpaccio served with fresh arugula, shaved parmigiano reggiano –
(earlier claim still stands. best carpaccio in the city)    

Zuppa di Funghi e Ceci
– chickpea and mushroom soup –
(plentiful & delicious, served in the greatest soup bowl)    

Open-faced panini: Dado   

bufala mozzarella, oven roasted tomatoes, basil



It pains, but easily forgettable:    

Fettuccine di piero
– hand cut pasta with meat sauce –
(simply pales in comparison to the others)   

Gnudi di Spinaci e Ricotta
– spinach and ricotta “naked” ravioli in butter & sage –
(disappointingly naked. that’s all.)   


fyi: you’ll never look at pasta the same way again.  Alida makes sure of it.   

364 Adelaide Street W.

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Last last Friday eve (timely, this post is not), we had a much-anticipated ladies night.   

Why? Because it had taken us months to get together. And 5 out of 7 live in the city. For shame.   

Restaurant chosen? After much debate, Politica.   

Located inconspicuously between Queen West & Libery Village, tucked away on Strachan, it was completely different from what I had expected. The resto pic from dineT.O featured a brightly lit, casual, Mediterranean-style space. What we walked into was warm, intimate, & darkly romantic.   

The perfect date spot.   

I was about to have a date with 6 beautiful ladies.   

photo cred: kingwestrestaurants.blogspot.com


Over a few bottles of vino, shared appetizers & our entrées – we traded stories, updates, escapades of the single life (and there were lots), relationship insights, woes, travel plans, career advice…imagine it all.     

The food was delicious, but will be honest, not outstanding. Ranging from fair to excellent, the sea bass was the highlight (for me personally).   

And remember, I’m a highly visual person. Beautiful presentation makes me love a dish that much more.   

As romantic as the ambiance was, could barely make out what was on the plate. Didn’t know if I was cutting into lightly grilled peppers or sea bass. You should never have to guess.   

Unless, you’re at O’Noir.    

Add a few more candles please, and we’ll be back to give it another try.  


Stand-out dishes:   

Sea bass with grilled market vegetables, asparagus, mini potatoes   

photo cred: TT


Honourable mentions:   

Osso bucco
Pisa salad
– baby arugula, fennel, apple & artichoke, golden raisins, pine nuts, gorgonzola cheese, white balsamic pink peppercorn dressing –  

It pains, but easily forgettable:   

Avocado & buffalo mozzarella salad
Oven baked tomato, roasted red peppers, zuchinni & topped with buffalo mozzarella (think veggie lasagna, without the noodles)
Soup of the day: Leek & potato topped with old cheddar   

Until next time:   

Stuffed calamari (with apple & fennel sausage)
Truffle wild mushroom parpardelle   

And any one of their pizzas (just feast your eyes on those ingredients):   

– danish brie, anjou pear, candied walnuts, proscuitto, topped w. arugula & house dressing – 

Politica’s Brother
– basil pesto, spicy Italian sausage, red onion, roasted red pepper, goat cheese –  

– gorgonzola cream sauce, proscuitto, grilled chicken, roasted garlic, asiago, old cheddar – 

– basil tomato sauce, artichoke hearts, rapini, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes mozzarella – 

Gamberi Diavolo
– basil pesto sauce, spicy tiger prawns, shaved red onion, baby spinach, mozzarella –  

127 Strachan Ave

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Sharing good food with friends. The best. 

Sharing good food with a friend you haven’t seen in 3.5 years…even better. 

But of course, not completely out of touch. Impossible not to know a snippet of their life, if that news feed algorithm or semi-stalking works as it should. Wait. The algorithm, not the stalking. 

Anyway, instead of the “i can’t believe how much time has flown by” conversation starter, we dive right into the good stuff. 

Our passions. 

Well, you all know mine. 

His? Ideas. Opportunities. Action. 

Plate after plate, story after story – the combination was heady. TJ, you’re heady. Or bait. Enjoy either reference. 

The setting: Torito. Kensington. Tapas bar. 

photo cred: ACRiley.com



Stand-out dishes: 

White bass ceviche with corn & yam
(tender chunks of white bass in insanely good cilantro-citrusy juices…the love only grows stronger) 

white bass ceviche


Shrimps al ajillo
(succulent & saucy… yep, my greatest description yet) 

shrimps al ajillo



Honourabe mentions: 

churros w. dulce de leche
(“like beaver tail, but 100 times better!” “wait, like those cinnamon sticks from taco bell but 1,000 better!” – ok, NOT our greatest descriptions) 

churros w. dulce de leche


Piquillo peppers stuffed w/ salted cod & tapanade sauce
(would not have ordered…but ohh, the power of reviews. now, you go & try!) 

Grilled flatiron steak, gallega chips & fried egg
(medium rare) 

Roasted quail, pomegranate glaze & sweet squash
(too salty for my taste, but mixed w/ glaze & squash and it redeems) 


It pains, but easily forgettable: 

Crab croquettes w/parsley aioli 

crab croquettes w/ parsley aioli


Braised beef tongue & cheek
(tongue & cheek. cute eh? not so much on the tongue action. PASS. 
won’t even attempt to describe texture. never again.)

braised beef tongue & cheek



Until next time: 

Andalusian spinach & chickpeas stew
Chilean tripe stew 

Yes, we ate our way through half the menu. But, these two stews warrant a visit back. Along with a repeat performance of the ceviche & churros.  


fyi: all food photo cred goes to TJ & his MannLanders wit. 

276 Augusta Ave

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The things we do for food. 

Including wait outside in -18C weather. 

Yep, that’s right. Hesitated for half a second. But, N & I are like-minded…and stubborn as anything. 

And her reaction to the french toast…EPIC. Worth it. If only we had a video camera, I’d replay over & over again. Warmed my frozen little toes right up. 

latte bowls


Menu was smaller than expected, with daily specials written in chalk on the blackboard. Debated the omelette of the day (chorizo, asiago, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions), but ended up getting one of their signatures, which immediately caught my eye when we finally squeezed ourselves in 20 min later. 

The croque madam: lightly toasted brioche layered with ham & gruyere, topped with an over easy egg, sliced baquette and fresh greens… ahhh, why people rave about this place. 

croque madam


For dessert, snuck in a few bites of the thick french toast. Sweet deliciousness. Could not get over how GOOD it was…and I don’t even like french toast. Honestly, if we could’ve captured that first moment. 

french toast


According to the couple sitting next to us, the quiche was the best quiche he had ever had. Wow. Ok, already planning next visit. 

And though there was a line-up, we weren’t rushed out. In fact, we were offered a platter of decadent-looking cakes & tarts. Twice. Declined once, almost accepted the second. 

Final sips of our latte bowls, happily stuffed – we wandered outside both wanting to explore the neighbourhood… stopped. looked at each other. realized it was still -18C & said “are we crazy?!” 

Charming & tiny – seating less than 30 ppl – this Leslieville brunch spot is a clear favourite. Couldn’t even tell you when a good time would be to go. Ask the morning people. 

fyi: cash only 

812 Queen Street E.  
Open: Tues-Sun (8am-4pm)

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O & K’s mantra of the night —  

“Don’t be deceived. We’ll eat our weight’s worth…and more.”  

Forget the set-up, no time to mince words. It’s late & won’t be able to sleep until posted. Remember? Save draft mode doesn’t exist. Must share experience now…and plus, body is still recovering from the onslaught it just received.  

photo cred: spotlighttoronto


So, why didn’t we stop after the 6th dish? Because, we’re gluttonous souls.   

3.5 hours, 8 dishes, 4 glasses of vino later… INCROYABLE.  

Service? Fantastic. Say hi to Kyle if you go. Ms. Le & Mr. Dey sent you.   


Stand-out dishes:   

Jamón iberico
(as my Dove chocolate wrapper instructed ‘ignore the price tag’, so we did. oh YES.
proscuitto has nothing on you.)

jamón iberico


Pinchos of gamay-poached foie gras with prune plum chutney
(jaws dropped. pause. best EVER. period.) 

Smoked kingfish ceviche with a friseé salad
(yes! ceviche-streak is going strong) 

kingfish ceviche


Eggplant with queso fresco, honey and tomatillo sauce
(surprise “wow” dish of the night)  



Honourable mentions:   

Torta of duck breast & anchovy
(first taste & “Oooo, so good” of the night)  

Forty-eight hour beef cheek with white pureé & chimchurri
(just slather & let melt)  

48 hour beef cheek


Braised oxtail tamal with pasilla chile sauce 
(10 pts for presentation)   

braised oxtail


It pains, but easily forgettable:   

Chickpea morcilla
(“if this was our least favourite, I can handle it.”)   


Until next time:
Pinchos of avocado & wild salmon machaca
Four oysters on the half shell with tomatillo salsa
Cauliflower & chickpea tagine with medjool dates & spanish saffron
Octopus anticucho with lentils & romesco
Clams with chorizo & fresh bay leaves
Quail & porkbelly a la plancha with calabacitas   


fyi: all food photo cred goes to O.Dey & his far-superior mobile device.  

1560 Yonge Street

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