looking for the BEST.....
micro brewed beer
high quality small batch ice cream
retail source for smoked fish
Tall order, MarkG...
I can't speak to the challah, the micro-brewed beer or smoked fish, but for the other items on your list:
Dim Sum - I love the huge and bustling Bright Pearl Seafood Restaurant at Spadina and Dundas St. W. (www.brightpearlseafood.com). They serve dim sum all day but, obviously, for the experience go during the day on weekends. Unbelievable choices and great service. Don't be afraid to ask the servers for items off of the dim sum menu if you don't see them come around on the carts - they're happy to oblige.
If you want a quieter, less intimidating experience (and a patio in the summer!!), there's a small place on Baldwin St., on the South side, just before McCaul St. It's about two or three store fronts in (I can't remember the name, unfortunately). They have great food and you just tick the items off yourself on the dim sum menu, so you don't have to figure out what everything is as it rolls past you on carts. It's great for beginner Dim Sum eaters and the food is delicious. While you're on Baldwin, check out the Vietnamese bakery across the street and a little further West. It's been open forever and they have the best beef buns in the city. My favourite are the curry beef variety - unbelievable.
Indian - I'm of Indian descent so I feel confident telling you that in Toronto (i.e. not Missisauga/Malton etc.), the best place to go for Indian food, bar-none, is Lahore Tikka House at 1365 Gerrard East, at Highfield (the Indian area runs on Gerrard from Coxwell to Greenwood). There is absolutely nowhere better for authentic meat dishes and naan in and around the city. If you're looking for curries specifically and you're not picky about decor (neither of these places is particularly swanky, mind you), then go to Chandni Chowk at 1430 Gerrard St. E. It's ghetto but the Chicken Tikka Masala is to die for.
Any of the restaurants on this strip are worth checking out. There's so much diversity in Indian cuisine that I can't go into any more detail here.
Farmer's Market - Dufferin Grove Park has a farmer's market every Thursday from 3pm to 7pm, all year round. http://dufferinpark.ca/home/wiki/wiki...
Ice cream – I love Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe at 712 College St. It's a Toronto stalwart and has unbelievable quality and selection.
Good luck and let us know if you decide to visit any of the suggested places.
Challah bread-Harbord Bakery hands down, sorry but nothing else in this city makes the grade.
As far as Dim Sum, I love City Inn, but many others on this board talk up Lai Wah Heen, but since I haven't tried, I can't recommend.
Indian-also heard good things about Lahore (again never tried), but I've always loved Dhaba on King. Although I have to admit I haven't been recently (over 6 months), so if anyone has anything to report, please do...
For Challa I love the Epi one. Really very tasty. The texture is excellent.
For Smoked Fish I would have to go with Caviar Direct downstairs in the St Lawrence Market. I find that their fish is consistently excellent. Try the Indian Candy (smoked Maple Salmon) you won't be disappointed.
Ice Cream - there have been many discussions on this one but I still have to go with Ed's on Queen Street in the Beach. Some of the best ice cream I have ever had.
For high quality ice cream, I love Gelato Fresco. It may not be small batch, but it's great. In particular, the 0BF (0 butterfat) chocolate, the chocolate raspberry, and the creme caramel.
For challah, Harbord is #1, with St-Urbain and What-A-Bagel (regular sesame or raisin) tied for second.
The absolute best challah is the "extra-special" challah available every Friday at Kosher Quality Bakery in Montreal (Victoria Ave., south of Van Horne). Hot from the oven, with a crisp crust and perfect interior, it's the ultimate challah. I would always buy two, because it was impossible to not dig into the paper bag on the drive home.
You can actually buy Kosher Quality Bakery Montreal Challah at the Superstore at Dufferin and Steeles. It's sold frozen so you have to defrost, raise and bake it but it is definitely worth it - unbelievable! They have different kinds too - regular, raisin, whole wheat....yummy!