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Jun 15, 2007 09:08 AM

Help! Patio on Baldwin? John's, Thai, La Gaffe???

Trying to pick a patio for tonite on Baldwin...somewhere semi-cheap, has good veggie options (not all veggie though I do like Vegetarian Haven), and is loungy enough, where a few can gather afterwork for a couple of drinks and a bite?

I've heard mixed things about John's Italian.

Anyone tried Thai Paradise?

I've been to Cafe La Gaffe - had bad service though I didn't think the food was bad...

Any suggestions for a fave? Also do you know if you can reserve a patio table?

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  1. I gave up on John's a while ago. Back in the day the 'za was pretty good, but it has been in decline for some time. Cafe La Gaffe has been the subject of some recent postings (say, since March) that would have rated it B- at best, and mostly worse than that. Vorpal (check his profile) speaks highly of Mata Hari, and he seems to know whereof he writes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hungry_pangolin

      Thank you for those kind words!

      MataHari Grill is excellent (, and I highly recommend it for its food, but the patio consists, unfortunately, of a couple plastic tables and chairs with a somewhat obscured view of Baldwin, so for patio goers, it's probably not the best bet.

    2. Do not eat at John's! Ugh the food.

      I like Bodega and La Gaffe but haven't been to either in a while.

      If you just want casual what about Margarita's?

      3 Replies
      1. re: hoagy294

        I'm not a big mexican food fan and last time I went to Margaritas I found the food pretty bad, sorry!

        1. re: shylo

          Agreed. I had high hopes for Margaritas, but was quite disappointed by it. John's has a nice patio, but that's generally where things end. Out of the couple of times I ate there, I found the lasagna to be acceptable (although no better than, say, a frozen PC lasagna), and the veal parmigiana to be utterly disgusting (both in presentation and taste) and largely inedible.

        2. re: hoagy294

          John's needs a visit from Restaurant Makeover ASAP!

        3. Bocca on Baldwin has a nice patio, and their food is semi-decent, although I can't vouch as to whether they have veggie options.

          3 Replies
          1. re: foodie_wannabe

            I found the food at Bocca to be heavy on the salt and oil. As well, on a separate occasion when we were looking for a patio where we could sit and have coffee and dessert with friends who lived in the neighbourhood, we were very rudely told that our business was not welcome because we weren't intending to order a full meal. It was 10PM on a Thursday night and there was only one other occupied table on the patio. We've been to numerous other restaurants after prime dinner hour, looking to do only dessert and coffee, and we've never been turned away, and especially not with the tone of voice and condescending look this particular "host" used with us. We've not been back since.

            1. re: Juniper

              I'm a big fan of Konnichiwa, specifically the ramen and the eel, but both of these things are not exactly summer cravings for me.

            2. re: foodie_wannabe

              I went to Bocca last night with my wife and another couple, and all of our food was less than mediocre. Doughy pizza, overcooked seafood, stodgy risotto, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee tasting pasta. Not to mention the lazy service. The only thing I'd recommend is the mushroom crostini app, which was fantastic. Everything else exuded the vibe of a kitchen that just doesn't give a shit.

            3. Thai Paradise ( is one of my staples, as it's very reasonably priced and as a U of T grad student, very conveniently located for me when I realize how late it is and need to get a bite to eat. It's not particularly authentic, but far moreso than most of Toronto's Thai offerings, and the food is generally good to very good, although I've caught them on a couple off nights (even then, things were better than passable). I've introduced a lot of friends to this place, and they're all hooked.

              Best off, the staff here, IMO, is fantastic. The owner, Ada, is passionate about her restaurant and dishes and will make you feel right at home. If you go more than a couple times, they'll all grow to know you and take the time to chat with you. Really friendly bunch.

              Decent patio. Not of the calibre of John's, probably, for seeing and being seen, but the food is so much better that it's worth the small penalty here.

              Dish recommendations: the pad see eew is generally very nicely done, and my friends all rave about the garlic shrimp (I'm not a huge shrimp fan, unfortunately). The basil beef / chicken is tasty provided you ask for it a little extra spicy (otherwise I find it slightly bland). The cold spring rolls are usually excellent and the best I've had in the city (fresh Thai basil inside makes for a very nice flavour), and the vegetarian spring rolls are good as well. All my friends say that their pad thai is their favourite in Toronto, although I'm quite sure they still use ketchup (although I suspect considerably less than other places, and I wasn't completely turned off of it). As for dishes to avoid? The chicken in peanut sauce is dull and uninteresting. The pumpkin soup comes in a huge portion and is just too bland to finish. The desserts are lacklustre: go grab something elsewhere if you've got a bit of a sweet tooth after dinner. Oh... and I should point out that all the curries here (except for, I believe, one green curry) are of the musaman variety: you will not find red curry, panaeng, etc. anywhere on the menu, strangely. I haven't tried any of their vegetarian dishes, but I believe they have a fairly reasonable selection.

              I would recommend this place for a try if you're on Baldwin and specifically looking for a pretty good meal for a decent price on a reasonably nice patio, but I wouldn't advise making a special trip out to eat there.

              I hope this made sense; I was given a whack of painkillers today by my doctor and my brain isn't entirely tuned in right now! Please let me know if you go and what you think; I'd love to hear.

              1 Reply
              1. re: vorpal

                Thanks vorpal! I already made a reservation - they gave me a hard time about reserving a patio table for 6 people after 6pm (630) but said if I get there right at 6pm she'll do her best - I can't blame them too much it being so nice outside! I could hear the woman speaking cantonese to someone in the background about what she should tell me...funnily enough I speak cantonese! Hopefully we score the patio table and I was eyeing the pad see eew on the menu...and I love shrimp!

                Will post a review if all goes as planned.