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Jul 11, 2007 09:57 AM

Specific Toronto Requests

I will be visiting Toronto for the first time this summer from Northern California and have a few requests for my Canadian neighbors (or neighbours).

1) What restaurants serve good horse dishes?

2) Where can I find coffee from Cuban coffee beans?

3) Where is the best place for a poutine fix?

Any other recommendations on special (not high-end) places would be appreciated. We have many excellent ethnic places out here, and it seems that there is no unique Toronto food. I do not have access to horse and Cuban coffee, so those are a must try.

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  1. 1) The Horse tartare at Batifole on Gerrard near Greenwood is great and the restaurant as a whole can be easily recommended. The other place that I know of with horse on the menu is La Palette. But, I haven't been their in a long time and it doesn't seem to garner much praise these days.

    2) No Idea

    3) Jamie Kennedy makes a great version at his wine bar -- it is worth having. Some people will recommend a particular chip truck in front of city hall -- I'm less sure this is worth confusing with good poutine.

    4) I would endeavour to have peameal bacon while here. It is quite distinctly Canadian at least (and available as an option with breakfast just about everywhere). If you're near the St. Lawrence market, try the peameal on a bun at Carousel bakery.

    I'm also sure there are at least a few ethnic options that Toronto is uniquely blessed with. e.g. Chiado is really great higher-end Portugeuse; there are more than a couple great Ethiopian places, etc . . .

    6 Replies
    1. re: Atahualpa

      Does JK do the poutine with cheese curds? I just remember them using some sort of grated semi-hard cheese the time I had it there... and I have to admit that the use of curds makes the foie gras poutine at Au Pied de Cochon tops in my books.

      1. re: Blueicus

        Well, technically it is NOT poutine unless it has cheese curds.

        Ya, every poutine in this city looks and tastes RIDICULOUS after you've had the foie version at APDC.

        1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

          Fois gras poutine?!?! That sounds good enough to die for. Is that place in Toronto? I can only find one in Montreal.

          1. re: Sacto_Damkier

            Unfortunately, no. Au Pied de Cochon is in Montreal-IMO the true die-hard foodie city in Canada.

            A trip to APDC is, by my standards, a must for all foodies. The atmosphere, the food, the wine, is what I believe to be the best in what a restaurant can and should be. And the food is truly to die for, and definitely not for the calorie conscious. I'm headed back out to Montreal in the fall and I cannot wait to eat there again!

            Don't want to bash TO too much (I'm starting to lighten up on the resto scene here). I would also second Atahualpa's suggestion for horse tartare at Batifole-delicious!

            1. re: Sacto_Damkier

              It's served with two sauces, a pretty traditional gravy-like concoction and one that appears to be "mounted" with foie gras.

          2. re: Blueicus

            I seem to remember curds ... but, its been a while.

        2. I can help you with #4.
          Try The Rebel House on Yonge, just north of Bloor.
          It has a well recieved poutine and a lot of other great fare as well. Mostly Canadian centric ingredients and an outstanding selection of local microbrews.


          1. For a bit of a different take on poutine I would recommend Utopia on College. Their poutine is made with veggie gravy and contains goat cheese and mushrooms.

            1. Look at to find places with Cuban coffee -- unfortunately it looks like their cafe locater page is broken.

              Or you can buy the beans at Thomas Hinds along with your Cuban cigars.

              1. For horse, I second the recommendation for La Palette in Kensington Market. They often offer Quack and Track, a small horse steak with a side of duck confit. Their prices are quite reasonable and the food is about as authentically French bistro as possible outside of Montreal. Do reserve ahead, tho - it's a small place, and you might be disappointed if you just drop in.

                I haven't seen Cuban coffee beans around. However, you may have some luck with Moonbean (also in Kensington Market). They tend to carry a wide variety of interesting beans, some of which are also fair trade.

                7 Replies
                1. re: tartiflette

                  Just to clarify, at La Palette, there is the Quack and Track, but you can also have a larger horse steak on its own.

                  1. re: hungry_pangolin

                    Does La Palette offer a horse steak frites? That and a nice Bordeaux would be really nice right now.

                    1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                      Actually, not so much for Bordeaux, but for other regions (Cahors, Minervois, etc), La Palette has an interesting wine list. Just make sure that you get the more extensive one. as I recall when I was last there (in December?) the horse didn't come with frites... mashed, perhaps.

                      1. re: hungry_pangolin

                        That begs the question, what wine goes well with horse? Hopefully if the horse steak is a special request off the menu, it can be made with frites.

                        1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                          Horse is not at all gamey, is quite lean, and if anything, has what I would describe as a a slightly 'sweeter' flavour than beef. It really is quite wonderful, and it is a shame that the in US the pro-Trigger lobby is making obtaining this flavourful and healthful meat less accessible. Anyway, the wine pairing is what you would have with beef, though I'd avoid most pinot noirs unless they have that lovely barnyardy quality. Because of the leanness of the flesh, I like something juicy and 'quaffy' (which is not to say inelegant or rustic). I usually have a Cahors (I have a weakness for malbec), but something like a Rhone, Minervois, Corbieres would go well. I haven't had the horse tartare (going to Batifole for a birthday soon!), so I'm not certain to recommend as a partner, but my instinct is to go for something a bit lighter. For steak tartare, I love (when I can get it) Dole, a pinot noir/gamay blend from the Valais in Switzerland. I hope that helps. AND, please post your post-game analysis. Enjoy your stay with us!

                          1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                            Personally, I usually skip the wine and go with a bottle of Chimay Red instead. It's a genuine Trappist beer with a perfect balance of sweet/bitter, which stands up nicely to the flavour of the horse.

                            1. re: tartiflette

                              I generally don't drink beer with my meal, only because I find it bloating (I do feel deprived in that regard). I agree with your nomination of Chimay, though. Delicious on its own, its flavour profile would match nicely, I think. La Palette does have a very good beer selection... not a mere afterthought.