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Workhorse restaurants near Queen & Bathurst?

It's easy to stay up-to-date on the restaurants that're trendy, upscale or somehow notable.

But I want to find new non-notable, workhorse, weekday-after-work places, near where I live at Queen & Bathurst.... Here's a starter list.

- Any favourites to add?
- Any particular dishes to recommend?
- Any (restaurants/dishes) to avoid?

Johny Banana
The Paddock
The Banknote
KiWe Kitchen
Le Select Bistro
Irie Food Joint
Tarot Grill

Thanks for your additions/impressions.

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  1. There is another thread on King and Bathurst spots:

    I was going to suggest the Wheat Sheaf. While I like Butler's Pantry, the one on Queen St. West is not known for paying attention to customers.

    Also quite like Fressen and I am not a vegetarian. I prefer their brunch over supper.

    1. Are Terroni and the Swan too far afield? One of a Kind Pasta?

      Bar Wellington?

      (and yeah! to the Paddock, le Select and the Sheaf)

      5 Replies
        1. re: hungryabbey

          I do not understand the appeal of One of a Kind. Granted I've only eaten there once but even though I live around the corner I have never been tempted to try it again.

          I recommend Terroni, San, the Swan, the Epicure, Pizzaiola (pizza Bianca).

          1. re: crawfish

            I agree. I loathe OOAK, maybe more than I might if I wasn't constantly battling friends trying to take me there ;-)

            1. re: spigot

              OOAK..boooo!...a few great salads, well priced too, but the pasta is lousy, not worth going out for...especially with Terroni steps away...

        2. re: Rabbit

          I ate at Bar Wellington twice last summer, brutal food, whatever they were passing off as chicken was semi transparent and tough as leather like it'd been cooked the day before and not covered overnight, both times in different dishes, no need to go for strike 3...

          The paddock, proper cocktails, I like it there too, I dunno if it is still the way but there used to be an off menu burger and sweet potato fries to be reconned with, ask for it!

        3. Shanghai Cowgirl - I liked the trash trailer sushi
          Queens Head has surprisingly good food of the burger, fish and chips variety
          I love Terroni but they are slow, overpriced and the staff don't really make you feel welcome
          I love San, no complaints
          Can't stand Hacienda, terrible attempt at Mexican
          Never liked Squirly's
          What about farther afield like Oyster Boy and Swan. Swan lunches are cheap and lovely
          Epicure but stick to the burgers, etc

          1 Reply
          1. re: Calam1ty

            The burger at Squirly's is pretty good, though the slightly soggy side caesar comes automatically. However, at $9.25 for a cheeseburger and boring salad, you could do better. It's a good place for a pint of KLB raspberry wheat ($5). Washrooms are scary.

            I won't be returning to Coca. $8.50 for a tiny dessert (fried "custard" with smidgen of honeycomb).

            Salmon at OOAK is decent.

            Swan's short rib is better than Rosebud's.

            Terroni on Queen drives me crazy. I much prefer the Yonge/St. Clair location. Better pizza there.

          2. Thanks folks. I'm gonna annotate my earlier list then add some questions................

            Lalot - lots of people don't like this place, but I do. Good drunken chicken, good beans.
            Nice martinis. Don't sit near the door in winter.

            Johny Banana - Lots of threads on this place, many people dislike it. I think it's pretty good.

            Cinquecente - This is one of my weeknight stand-bys. Service is hit-and-miss, but the food is good and it's friendly. Don't order the chicken with (IIRC) goat cheese and cranberry: it's scary-pink.

            Siddhartha - Stand-by. Good buffet.

            The Paddock - IIRC they do roasted and grilled meat well. Haven't been there in a long time. Good drinks, okay patio in summer.

            The Banknote - Horrible boring steaks, okay pizza. Not awful.

            Jalapeno - I think it's overpriced and hit-and-miss. Wish it were better.

            KiWe Kitchen - Haven't been yet. Anyone??

            Le Select Bistro - Love their steak frites. Good pate appetizer. They make a nice lemon drop martini :-)

            Irie Food Joint - I go here when I'm bored of everything else locally. Slightly unusual Jamaican food (e.g., fresh fruit in some dishes, etc.). Not bad.

            Epicure - Frequent back-up if I can't decide where to go. Good burger, I agree Calam1ty, and okay steak. Really good stilton walnut salad. Stay away from the pastas and anything ambitious. I had truly horrifying veal medallions here once, with a grey glue-like gravy and a pile of mashed potatoes the size of my head. Service has been incompetent lately.

            Tarot Grill - Another ancient stand-by. Good chicken with mustard sauce. Undercooked, tough, dry osso bucco in a sauce that seemed completely unintegrated with the meat. Pizza tarts used to be good, now they seem unbalanced, with too many toppings. Very good martinis, very good salads, good brunch.

            Jules - Good for steak sandwich with frites. Overly stodgy croque monsieur. Good salads.

            San - I like it too, but can't remember anything I've ever eaten there :-/

            And................... some questions:

            - ZenGarden, Rabbit, why do you like the Wheat Sheaf, & what's good there?

            - And what do you like at Fressen? I had a kind of grim meal (gluten?) there once and never went back.

            - What's good at the Swan?

            - And Bar Wellington I've never heard of, what's it like?

            5 Replies
            1. re: spigot

              I had brunch at Fressen. Started with a vegan muffin amuse bouche, proceeded to a sweet potato/butternut squash soup, and then had a breakfast vegan tortilla concoction.

              Wheat Sheaf is all about the wings.

              1. re: spigot

                Missing in my opinion - Terroni for anything. Blowfish for the handrolls or duck. Shanghai for the burgers. Hacienda for chicken burrito (who cares if it isnt "authentic", its delicious). Prague for their soups and deli sandwiches. The Dew for the Blue Cheese Steak Salad. Old York has decent grub. Bar Wellington is at Portland and Wellington - great summer place for drinks, but I don't think much of the food at all

                Havent tried the bungalow yet.

                1. re: deelicious

                  I went to Terroni the other day and had a very bland meal. The mushroom appetizer, as usual, was great but my salad was sparse, to be generous and the roasted red peppers were so sweet that I might use the word repulsive to describe them and the the pasta was really boring and bland. This is my second visit and second bad experience since they expanded. We use to love going there. Not to mention it seems to have become popular for a family (kids) outing.
                  We love going to Swan, Fressen (hit and miss with the dishes though - phylo mushroom dish is really good) and Niagara Street Cafe - a little out of the area you're speaking of but a truly excellent little restaurant.

                2. re: spigot

                  - The Wheat Sheaf is a sentimental favourite. I go therer 2-3 times each year to watch hockey. Food is very standard roadhouse-y stuff... I usually have a burger or natchos, and both are exactly what you'd expect (satisfactory, not stunning). The Sheaf is a bit of an institution. I'd recommend going to watch the Leafs during playoff season if you're into that kind of thing - otherwise, I wouldn't actually suggest the Sheaf as a foodie destination.

                  - Bar Wellington is a better option if you want pub grub. Pretty room reminds me ever so slightly of the Beaconsfield. Good neighbourhood-y option right down the street from le Select. Feels like a bit of a secret. Patio in summer.

                  - The Swan is upscale comfort food. They also have oysters, but I have a gross allergy, so none for me. I usually go with chicken, steak, a chop. I find everything pretty well executed (although the last time I was here was a disappoint... I'm chalking it up to an off night). I especially like the Swan because it makes me feel like I'm in an Edward Hopper painting.

                  1. re: spigot

                    Sugar is great, but the service can be slow. Kei can be totally fabulous, but then the next time you go back, something's amiss....

                    Re Swan, their risottos are always delicious. The potato, char, avocado salad is great, as are the ribs, the duck, and yes, the oysters. :-)
                    Newish to Queen and Ossington are Sparrow and Foxley. Haven't been to the latter but Sparrow was great the last time out.

                  2. I had a nice meal a couple months ago at Little Tibet near Queen and Bathurst.

                    1. My standby - Coco Rice on King just west of Bathurst on the south side.

                      1. i've been transplanted a closer to this nabe and here are a couple thoughts... although i haven't taken too much time to eat out nearby since i moved.

                        johny banana - better than my first visit. decent mole, not sour unlike others i've had in toronto. a bit watery on the horchata but overall like it a lot more now and will be back. was excited to see a cactus dish on the menu but completely underwhelming because of the huge stick of cheese sitting on top of it. pretty nice although thick corn tortillas and that it comes with most dishes is fantastic.

                        lalot - seems to be boarded up/papered, new establishment? reno in the works?

                        tequila bookworm - service issues seem to have gotten much better with the new locale and i absolutely LOVE the waffles. airy, slightly crisp, a good amount of sweetness. lovely. don't bother with the carmelized banana version, it ends up being a light caramel sauce over fresh cut banana slices

                        little tibet - i tried it and didn't love it. the momos were nice enough and quite plump but i'd rather head up to mount everest or some such to get a tibetan fix. just didn't really blow me away although the spice pot did.

                        prague deli - looooooooove their creampuff.

                        coca - big fat no after their price increase from the initial visit. was just worth it at that price point and now it's completely not worth it.

                        czehoski - they seem to have a better priced bar menu after like 9pm or something on weekends and you can get a trendy burger with fries for $8. similar items abound for relatively cheap considering the resto. it wasn't mind blowing but good solid burger.

                        seoulcity - pretty good option. after you get over that it is NOT korean but korean influenced... love the rice dishes and i think the apps tend to rule the roost of the menu - salmon over the chive pancakes are yum! stay away from the soup wonton things as it's overly salty, dry and fairly bland and lacking depth in flavour.

                        terroni - i'll deal with their ridiculous service, never get one of the "special" wines, avoid their orichette and i'm quite happy. crispy pizza crust the way i like it. that mushroom salad is awesome when it's not overly oily and the carpaccio is always good.

                        further away:

                        torito - love love love. just keeps getting better and constantly rated high but it's pricepoint puts it here. love to drop in to munch, sup and chat.

                        chinatown - anything... ANYTHING!

                        tutti matti - if you're going to go as far as jules i'm going to take you as far as this resto. it can be buoyant, chaotic and peaceful depending on everyone else in the resto but the food is solid. although sometimes a bit sparse especially when you order gnudi.

                        oysterboy - they're slowly moving into the over-rated category for me. i've had enough oyster shell pieces tucked beneath my raw mollusk that i'm done with raw raw raw. fish and chips are great but i don't like paying almost $20 for it when said and done. had a creamy crab pasta that just ended up being gross. take me to starfish instead any day.

                        even further... julie's cuban. love the atmosphere, food is good and i really love how it's tucked away.

                        want to try:

                        indus junction

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                          and, borrowing from the other thread, if its not too far, foxley on ossington.

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                            Service issues resolved at Tequila Bookworm? Not hardly. I was there for lunch today. Eight people ordered sandwiches, soup, salads. The food did not show up for an HOUR. And the sandwiches still did not come with the ordered condiments -- we got a saucer of mustard, etc. Unacceptable.

                            1. re: betsy

                              that's a shame. my most recent experience was slower but they were very nice about it all. the lemon dilled potatoes in the poached salmon salad were fantastic.

                              1. re: betsy

                                Did you call and let them know you were coming with a party of 8? It could make things go smoother if you do that when bringing that many to a small restaurant.

                                1. re: Lea

                                  It shouldn't have been a big deal. The restaurant was not full at all, and we were at two separate tables in any case. I can see maybe waiting half an hour, but a full hour to bring a bowl of soup is just crazy.

                            2. I'm supposed to meet someone at a place called Inside Out or something similar today which is apparently on Queen west of Bathurst... yet I can't find a listing for it! Help I have no idea where I'm going... =P

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: finalfashion

                                Maybe it's the Hideout you're supposed to meet at. Queen and Augusta

                                1. re: TOfoodie

                                  L'hacienda is also good. Nice patio.

                              2. Johnny Banana's, I LOVED the food, except the tamales (but I think I just don't dig those things, I gotta stop ordering them when I go for mex!), I left hungry, they had no license when I was there last but I think that has changed...avoid KiWe, food is dreadful, the lazer cut steel elements of the decor are by far the best thing about the place...San is good, cheap too...Irie is my favorite for takeout along there, is quite cheap like that, I end up blowing the budget on their incredible rum punch whenever I sit down...