taste of the danforth
I was at Taste of the Danforth last night - ended up ordering fried calamari from Mezes ($5), a lamb rosemary phyllo pie ($3) from the Ouzeri, and a custart tart from Europa ($2)....
Mezes: The calamari was unusually rubbery and tasted slightly off in the first few pieces, but I hit one piece at the end that was absolutely off. Considering the volume they are serving, and the popularity of the restaurant, I was surprised this would happen, esp. the first night of the T of D.
Ouzeri: The phyllo on the pies was perfect- flaky and buttery without being heavy or greasy. The filling in the lamb rosemary phyllo pie was ok, but the chicken rosemary pie my friend ordered contained more meat, and was tastier...And I usually like lamb more than chicken!
Europa: The custard tart (pasteis de nata) was fine, but I was surprised when I handed the employee a toonie, and she gave no change. I mentioned I thought they were usually $1.25 at Europa and she said that they are $1.25 during regular business hours, but the price is raised to $2 during taste of the Danforth. Although I have recommended Europa several times on the board, I was disappointed that they would try to profit from the public like this during the taste of the Danforth. Especially considering the volume of sales is incredibly increased during a street festival, and considering most bakeries in Little Portugal charge around $1 per tart (or even less). My friend was disappointed with the baklava she bought at Europa- it was literally soaking in syrup, and she ended up eating only a bite or two before discarding it.This might be the result of a baklava being made by a non-Greek (the owner of Europa is Portuguese).And, we might be a little more critical of baklava, being of Greek descent. Caffe Demetri was selling waffle cones for only $2, and several places were selling their souvlaki at either the regular price, or even lower prices than usual. The line-ups were considerably shorter closer to Pape- if you're hungry when you get there, head east.
I've noticed gouging too on a few occasions. This really goes against the spirit of what these food festivals are supposed to do--introduce people to new foods and restaurants.
We gave up on Taste of the Danforth years ago. It's become too big and in some instances, lost the spirit that Zengarden refers to. Visit Greektown and try the restaurants but not during this festival. Generally, you'll have a much better time and get a true sense of what's good or not.
I was at TOtD last night as well.
Gouging was rapant-$3 for a grilled corn on the cob!!
However, the large serving of cuttle fish for $4 was worthe the price as was the delectable spit roasted quail. I paid in time however since the line up snaked toward the delicious smell of roasting meats for about a block.
After living near the Danforth and subsequently moving to Little India, my advice to people about ToftheD is this:
Wait until after this weekend, then go sit on a patio on a lovely evening (at any one of the restaurants previously, recently mentioned on this board), without the throngs of people and mediocre, touristly, overpriced food. THAT is the true Taste of the Danforth.. (same goes for the Jazz Festival in the Beach skip it for another weekend, minus the decent food... sadly not the Beaches' strong point...)
I still suggest going to Taste of the Danforth- I just wanted to warn chowhounds which opportunists were gouging the crowd.
I wish I had ordered the grilled ortikia and cutttlefish like another poster...it's the only time that you'll find Greek restos grilling that stuff outside!