Adios!

Hello friends. Well, the time has come. I’m once again leaving the Motherland and am returning to Australia. Yes, I’m moving back to fair Brisbane, and (at this stage at least), I won’t be back to Toronto save for a few holiday visits over the years.

What does this mean? I’m sure you’re panicking. I mean, how will Dufflet’s survive? Who will stake out Bulldog every weekend? What will happen to the general economy??

Have no fear – EatDrinkToronto will still be up and live, I (obviously) just won’t be posting. If you’d like to do a guest post, by all means email me (eatdrinktorontoATgmailDOTcom).

Apart from that, my next post will be on my next visit to Toronto in the future.

Keep abreast of what I get up to down under with EatDrinkBrisbane, or BrewQuest.

xoxo

The Pilot

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It was brutal out there on the streets last Friday night. There were crowds. Angry patrons. Overheated bodies. Dehydration. Begging was rampant; bribes weren’t far off. The smug few who won the battle cooled their heels in comfort, ignoring the defeated stares of passers by.

I’m talking of course, about the quest to get a seat on a patio in this city. My recent experience in the entertainment district was enough to swear me off trying ever again.

Then I heard about The Pilot. A rooftop patio, you say? Well, surely I can make an exception…

Luckily, at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, The Pilot’s ‘Flight Deck’ had plenty of seats. We relaxed on the large deck, complete with an outdoor bar, and lapped up the sun.








The Pilot patio

The Pilot has a decent beer list, although it’s a little slim on craft or rare brews. Still, there’s a good handful (Weihenstephaner, Red Stripe, St Ambroise, Cracked Canoe), as well as a reasonably priced wine list.

D got a St Ambroise Pale Ale (around $7) and I had a glass of the Pinot Grigio (around $9). We also munched on an order of sweet potato fries ($7.95), which were super crispy and addicting. They came with a tasty chipotle mayo which gave just a little bit of spice.

Service was very friendly while we were on the Flight Deck, although a little off at times (we were charged for two serves of fries; we had to ask for water a couple of times before actually getting it). To be fair, as soon as we sat down a massive function arrived, and the waitstaff were run off their feet.

While the view on The Flight Deck isn’t the best – it’s only a few flights up after all – it’s such a lovely, relaxing space. The open air bar makes me feel like I’m on holiday in Mexico, which is greatly helped with the absence of eye-level street traffic. There’s a tonne of seating and a fair bit of shade available too (thanks to some umbrellas).

So, forget the crowds down on Queen West and try something a little different the next time you’re seeking a patio. Save your sanity; check out The Pilot.

The Pilot
Bar/Restaurant

22 Cumberland St (Bloor and Yonge)
Toronto

P: 416-923-5716

http://www.thepilot.ca

The Pilot Tavern on Urbanspoon

Te Aro

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You know how there’s a little tension between Canadians and Americans? Well, maybe not tension, but there’s…something there.

There’s not really the equivalent of that in Australia. Some might think it’s Aussies VS. New Zealanders, but in reality all we do is claim any famous New Zealander is Australian (see: Sam Neil, Anna Paquin).

Te Aro outside

I can now add one other thing that we share with our NZ neighbours: making a fully sick coffee, bro.

We went to Te Aro solely because D had heard they do flat whites. As this is only the second place is the whole of Toronto (that we know of) that makes this coffee drink (similar to a latte, but not as milky), we had to go.

I was pleasantly surprised at Te Aro’s space – first of all, it’s huge! There’s plenty of seating inside, and the street-facing patio is massive.
We grabbed a flat white (D) and a cappucino (me), as well as a salted choc chip cookie (we).

Te Aro cookie and flat white

The cookie was chewy and soft, with massive chunks of chocolate in it – excellent.

The coffees were even better. D’s flat white topped most of the ones he’s had in Australia, and my cappucino is now firmly on my ‘Best Coffee in Toronto’ list.

Forget Sam Neil. New Zealand should be bragging about Te Aro instead.

 

Te Aro

Coffee Roasters/Cafe

983 Queen St East (between Carlaw & Pape)

Toronto
P: 416-465-2006

http://www.te-aro.ca/

Te Aro Roasted on Urbanspoon

Burger’s Priest

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The Burger’s Priest has been on our hit list for awhile. What sealed the deal was a recent lunchtime at my workplace.

My co-workers trooped into the kitchen, carrying sacks of burgers and fries from the establishment. I sat there as they chowed down on the most delicious-looking burgers, while my feeble salad looked less and less appealing.

When D and I arrived on a recent Saturday afternoon, we were ready. We’d been warned about lineups, but the slew of people outside the store were mainly just waiting for orders. We ordered a cheeseburger (~$5) and a double (~$7), and got our food in about five minutes.

We ate in the nearby Ashbridges Park (Burger’s Priest does not have eat-in facilities). Our burgers looked downright pornographic:

Burger's Priest cheeseburger

 

 Burger's Priest Double

 

It’s like a photo of Men’s Health’s ‘Eat This, Not That’, but a picture of the ‘Not That’ section. Glorious!

The verdict? Do they live up to the hype? Well, sort of. If you’re looking for a bit of a nasty, cut-above-fast-food burger, The Burger’s Priest delivers. The meat patty is super fresh, and I love that, but aside from that – eh. It honestly tastes like a meatier, fresher McDonald’s cheeseburger.

Is that a bad thing? Well no, not necessarily. But why did I pay $5 for this again?

I’m torn. The beef is terrific, the buns are insanely soft, and the folks at the grill work quickly. I guess it’s just down to your expectations: I was expecting more of a ‘gourmet’ burger (along the likes of Big Smoke, or even Hero), and instead it’s like an upscale junk food burger.

There’s a time and a place, though. I’m sure my next Priest visit will involve a hangover.

The Burger’s Priest

Take Out Burgers
1636 Queen St East (Queen & Coxwell)
Toronto

Closed Sunday

Ph: 647-346-0617

http://theburgerspriest.com/

The Burger's Priest on Urbanspoon

Quick Bites: May 25

Momofuku is coming to Toronto! – August
I am wildly excited about this. Momofuku, if you haven’t heard, is a brand of unique restaurants in New York City. I’ve been to their Milk Bar, and I’m still dreaming about the cereal milk ice cream and crack pie (yes, cereal milk! Genius!). Three Momofuku restaurants will be opening downtown at University and Adelaide come August. Acadia’s Matt Blondin is already confirmed to join the Toronto Momofuku team. I’m just crossing my fingers that they find room on the menu for crack pie. I need my fix!

Doors Open Toronto – May 26-27
Doors Open Toronto celebrates the city’s architecture and culture, with more than 135 historically significant buildings opening their doors to the public, for free. One such participating establishment is the Karma Co-op, a popular members-only food co-op in the Annex. Karma is the oldest co-op of its kind in Toronto, and is usually only open to members and prospective members. Take a peek while you can!

Luminato – June 9 – 10
Luminato is a city-wide celebration of creativity, arts, entertainment, and food. One event on the agenda is The President’s Choice 1000 Tates of Toronto™, a street food event that showcases the diverse cuisine of Toronto. The Distlilery District will play host to guest chefs, who will be recreating recipes from their childhoods. Each dish is priced at $5, and can be paired with wine or beer. Participating chefs include those from Dufflet’s, Luma, The Boiler House, Vertical, and Torito Tapas Bar.

 

Quick Bites: Mother’s Day Edition

Another Mother’s Day is rolling around, which means the usual frustration I feel at not having a mom close by to shop with/complain to/have ego inflated by is only magnified.

Damn you, 20 hour flights and $2k airfares. If you’re lucky enough to have your momma around, here are a couple of restaurant ideas for Mother’s Day in Toronto.


Globe Bistro – Prix Fixe Brunch
Momma T is so hardcore she has not one, but TWO breakfasts. The woman needs her fuel. That’s why I think she’d love the Mother’s Day deal Globe, Earth, and Earth Bloor West are offering – a prix fixe brunch for $29, or a three course prix fixe dinner for $35. The brunch menu features dishes like scones, crepes, smoked rainbow trout, and my favourite – desserts. Check out the Globe Bistro website for more info.


Splendido – Prix Fixe Brunch
Well, clearly moms like their brunch. Splendido is also offering a prix fixe brunch menu this Sunday, between 11am – 3pm. For $70 per person, you can dine on such dishes as house cured Atlantic salmon, brioche crusted halibut, and – of course – desserts. A glass of sparkling rose for the moms is also included.


The Drake Hotel – Brunch
The Drake is offering a prix fixe brunch as well as a family-style brunch. The prix fixe option is $28, and the family-style option includes a concert by soul singer Melissa Bel, and is $32.


Mother’s Day Cruise
So, you want to go the extra mile, huh? Maybe you’re the middle child, and you always got ignored. Maybe you’re the eldest, and you were spoiled like hell until your siblings came along. Or maybe, you’re the youngest – like me – and it doesn’t matter WHAT you do, because you got babied like anythting and you know you’re the favourite.

Middle and eldest kids might want to check out Jubilee Queen Cruises. The cruise company is offering two packages – Lunch (2.5 hours) or Dinner (3 hours). Along with a meal, you’ll get a tour of the Harbour and the Toronto Islands. Check out the Jubilee website for more info.




I’ve already posted a note on EatDrinkBrisbane, but I think she deserves a second one…Happy Mother’s Day, Momma T. Kisses!

Banh Mi Boys Review

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A strange thing happened to me recently. I got a craving for Banh Mi.

What’s funny about this? Well, prior to this craving, I’d never had Banh Mi before. Weird, huh? I knew what they were – Vietnamese sandwiches, typically filled with pork and pickled veggies on a French roll – but I’d never had even a nibble.

This shows you the power of Banh Mi. Before I had even eaten one, the idea of it had manifested in my mind and I knew I had to have one. Inception.

I finally fulfilled my craving recently at Banh Mi Boys.

Banh Mi Boys outside
This Queen & Spadina cafe is wildly popular. We were lucky to grab a seat when we were there, but be prepared to either hover around like a schmuck, waiting for a seat, or wolf your food down on the street – it’s a very small space.Banh Mi sandwiches

We ordered a grilled pork Banh Mi ($4.99), and a pork belly Banh Mi ($5.99). Food at Banh Mi Boys is cooked fresh to order, and along with sandwiches they offer Asian-inspired tacos, steamed bao, and sides like kimchi fries.

After a short wait, we ripped into our sandwiches. I was initially surprised at the size of them – they were quite substaintial, maybe eight inches long or so?

D and I took a bite of our respective sandwiches and that was it. We started at eachother, eyes widening, mouths busy chewing. This was one of those times when we used that special skill that all couples and BFFs have – eye talking.

Through a series of eye bulges, blinking, and squints, we conveyed to eachother how freaking AMAZING these sandwiches were. We couldn’t talk. We were busy eating.

The sandwiches were both packed with tender pork, tangy and slightly crunchy veggies, and a very light mayo. A sprinkle of corinader pushed them over the edge, and it was like my mouth was experiencing the best of every Asian dish and every sandwich I’d ever had.

The pork belly was tasty, but we both prefered the grilled pork. I was seriously impressed with the value of these sandwiches – if you compare it to, say, Subway (even though that’s insulting), Banh Mi Boys is way better value.

They also had awesome staying power – I didn’t get hungry again for hours – yet I didn’t feel all bogged down with bread.

Banh Mi Boys, you’ve made your way into my head successfully. I will be back!
Banh Mi Boys
Sandwich shop/cafe

392 Queen St West (Queen & Spadina)
Toronto

Ph: 416-363-0588

www.banhmiboys.com

Banh Mi Boys on Urbanspoon

Quick Bites – April 18

This week’s Quick Bites is all about grog, my friends. Spicy IPAs, smooth wheats, sweet reds…I hope you’ve had that salad for lunch, because things are about to get boozy up in here.

 

Cask Days IPA Challenge – April 20 – 23

I’m so excited for this! Bar Volo is hosting the fourth annual IPA Challenge this weekend, featuring Ontario IPAs. The $10 entry fee includes a glass and challenge score card. There are four rounds over Saturday and Sunday, then whatever beer is left over will be sold as $5 pints on Monday night. Check out the website for more details.

 

The Only Cafe Spring Beer Fest – April 27-28

Spring is here! Don’t you just want to prance through a field of flowers, throwing glasses of stout up in the air in joy? No, you don’t. That’s a waste of beer. Especially if it’s one of the drops featured at The Only Cafe’s mini beer fest. Admission is free; you can buy sample tickets for $1 to enjoy tastes of a variety of brews. Participating breweries include Unibroue, Railway City, Double Trouble, and Great Lakes. For more info, visit the website.

 

Wine Picks & Pairings App – Out Now

I have no idea what goes with shiraz, or whether I should drink merlot or pinot grigio with my fish. Luck there’s an app for that…Natalie MacLean recently released a free mobile app that helps users find the perfect wine matches. There’s also a special section related to drops for those upcoming Mother’s Day brunches and Father’s Day BBQs. Check out Natalie’s website for more info on how to download.

The Rebel House Review

Rebel House burger

When it comes to going out at night, I’m really not a West-Queen-West kind of girl. Plonk me on a patio in a cosy neighbourhood pub, and I’m a happy kid.

That’s why I love The Rebel House in Rosedale. It’s a super-comfortable, casual pub with heaps of seating, a large patio, and friendly staff. And they have excellent beer! And Spearhead on tap! And they’re close to a subway station! Queen may be trendy, but let’s face it: your only transportation option being the streetcar or crawling through traffic in a cab is not appealing.

We went to Rebel House for dinner for the first time recently. D and I were on a mission: we wanted cornbread and wings. So, we ordered the mac and cheese (which came with cornbread – $11.95), as well as a pound of wings ($9.95).

Our pal F was visiting from Australia, and his mission was to try poutine. He ordered it ($8.50), plus a half pound of wings ($5.95).

And what was DD’s mission? The girl wanted some beef. She ordered the Buffalo Burger ($11.95). Easy.

D’s boss had been telling him of the virtues of The Rebel House’s oven-baked wings that afternoon, so we had high hopes. They didn’t disapoint. These wings were absolutely awesome! We dove into the suckers and had the sweet, slightly spicy sauce smeared all over our chins and hands.

Rebel House wings

I like these wings because they’re baked, then grilled. Call me crazy, but in Australia we don’t fry the crap out of our chicken – we cook it really well until it’s falling-off-the-bone tender, then we smother it in a delicious, rich sauce -just how Rebel House have done.

The mac and cheese was ok – I prefer a more old school, yellow-cheese sort of mac, and this version was a bit more grown up with more of a bechamel sauce. The cornbread was fantastic though. Across the table, the poutine and burger disapeared pretty quickly.Rebel House mac and cheese

The four of us kept exclaiming throughout the whole meal how damn good it was. There’s something so satisfying about a sunny patio, a good beer, and a delicious spread of pub grub.

Being able to just waddle up the road, wearing flip flops and dressed casually, isn’t so bad either.

 

The Rebel House

Pub

1068 Yonge St (Yonge & Roxborough, just north of Rosedale station)

Toronto

http://www.rebelhouse.ca/

 

Rebel House on Urbanspoon

Quick Bites: April 5

We’ve got ribs, we’ve got beef tartare, we’ve got chef nominations. It’s a mixed, random bag this week – blame the Easter eggs. The sugar is clouding my ability to create themed Quick Bites posts.

Oh well. Enjoy!

 

Parts & Labour Launches New Catering Menu
Last night I went along to the launch of Parts & Labour’s new catering venture. I’ve never eaten at the actual Parts & Labour restaurant, but a few bites of their catering menu had me planning a visit in my head. I tried some of their canapes – Beef Tartare on a potato chip (!! This was unreal!), and veggie spring rolls – as well as a crapload of cheese and salami from an antipasto table. I then waddled over to the Noodle Station and tried pork noodles topped with peanuts, fresh lime, and cilantro. Gahh. I was a happy girl, but I wish I could have tried some of their other menu items (like sliders, gyoza, brisket sandwiches, or bahn mi). If what I tried last night was anything to go by – these guys are going to clean up in the catering world.

Casey’s Grill Coupons – April 2-22
It’s the fifth anniversary of the Feed the Soul campaign, and to celebrate, Casey’s is giving a $10 coupon to each guest who supports the campaign. Feed the Soul has raised $250,000 over the past five years for food banks in Ontario and Quebec. From April 2-22, every guest who purchases a rib entrée (mmm!) will receive a $10 coupon that can be used to try the Casey’s summer menu in Ontario, and the core menu in Quebec. Plus, Casey’s will also donate $1 to the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) and Banques alimentaires Québec!

 

Terroir Hospitality Symposium’s Award of Excellence – April 23
In partnership with GE Monogram, these awards celebrate people in three categories: chef, beverage professional, and front of house. Do you know someone in the Canadian hospitality industry who deserves one of these awards? Well, then nominate them! Nominations close April 9, and can be made online.