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Tour of the nieghbourhood - the good the bad the ugly - so who's done one?

So has anyone ever taken on a food tour of their own ‘hood/street – basically trying every single resto. on your local strip? When we were walking down Roncesvalles during the Polish Festival we were approached by a residents’ association rep. who advised us of upcoming plans to replace the streetcar lines on Roncy. He stressed that it’s going to be critical to keep frequenting our local merchants during the upheaval so that they can actually survive. (Look at the St. Clair example for how devastating it can be to businesses.) So we decided to embark on a taste tour of every single resto – from diner to fine dining. And then we decided to start now rather than wait for the construction (well we were hungry.) So far we’ve only hit Chopin (great perogies, potato pancakes and cabbage rolls); Friendly Thai (weird curry phad thai and even weirder waiter); and Boho (This has always been a favourite of ours, admittedly not because the food is sensational but because it’s our local place – the staff greets us by name, and it’s comfortable and reasonable. There’s a new chef now – the former chef’s sous. Highlight of the evening was the bread pudding with brandy sauce – chef’s (grand)mother’s recipe. Oh was that ever good!!) There are certainly a few dodgy polish beer joints that should make for some interesting evenings ahead. Anyway just wondering if anyone has done a similar neighbourhood tour and if you really stuck it out and went to every single place whether you actually wanted to or not!?

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  1. Bah, if a restaurant is good enough it will survive any "upheaval" from track repairs. When the track development was done on both Spadina and St. Clair it was only the crappy, not worth going to places that didn't survive. And good riddance too them.

    1. I have an on-going thread on restos near my office (between Summerhill and St. Claire): http://www.chowhound.com/topics/389530.

        1. re: deelicious

          I think Buddha Dog may not even last that long. I walk past it almost every night and I think the most people I've seen inside is around 3. I have a morbid fascination with looking and taking note of the lack of customers. But given all the reports they're getting exactly what they deserve.

          1. re: jamesm

            That's funny... I too have a morbid fascination with looking inside restaurants and noting the lack of customers, and I think I even react and sound like my mother... giving a little disapproving head shake (or is it a nod or turn) and a little tsk tsk... I am embarrassed to say that after 20 years in my hood (Yonge and Lawrence), I've yet to go to Coppi, a neighbourhood staple, or Wildfire Grill, but I've been taking blind dates to Gamberoni for about 20 years - that should make up in volume for the places I missed. I promise I will fulfill this mission before I leave the hood...

        2. I'm slowly eating my way through Mimico/New Toronto. It's getting worse with each bite. Ah, the ups and downs of being a chowhound in search of greatness.

          Roncesvalles is better - Chopin is excellent (especially if you love dill). I hear the Thai food at Vicky's Fish 'n' Chips (Sue's Thai Food) is worth the drive. I'll try it and report back. I was disappointed with the "heat and serve" food at Fat Cat wine bar last fall. Most of the eastern european delis on that strip serve up tasty treats.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Food Tourist

            Finally made it to Sue's Thai Food on Roncy...underwhelming. Ate pad thai with chicken, chili chicken noodles, and beef jungle. Pad thai was sweet, beef jungle was fairly decent with some tasty mushrooms (and cilantro). Chili chicken noodles were ho-hum, made better by chile condiment. Thai coffee seems to consist of regular drip coffee with condensed milk. Really bad atmosphere. Won't be back.

          2. "It's getting worse with each bite" - ha, don't i know it!

            i've tried a lot of brunch places in the area roughly king/queen, west of spadina, east of beaconsfield. below is a copy of what i wrote in another post.

            In downtown some of my better choices for brunch:
            Saving Grace on Dundas west of Euclid,
            Czehoski if you can handle the sometimes crummy service on Queen west of Bathurst,
            Niagara St Cafe on Niagara at Wellington,
            Atelier Thuet in Liberty Village,
            Beaver Cafe on Queen west of Ossington
            Le Select on Wellington at Spadina

            also good/pleasant:
            Niche Cafe, Queen west of Bathurst,
            Swan, Queen at Crawford
            Bar One, if you can handle the sometimes crummy service, Queen at Shaw
            Musa at Dundas and Euclid
            Prague Deli on Queen/Bathurst

            Brassaii, King and Spadina, if only the portions weren't so small....
            Drake on Queen is sometimes good, sometimes boring but always overrated

            Standard stuff to nothing special:
            Foggy Dew on King
            Olde York on Wellington at Niagara
            Shanghai Cowgirl on Queen and Bathurst (the waitresses are amusingly grumpy)
            Mimi's on Bathurst at Queen (a little too home cooked for me)

            Places i wouldn't repeat:
            Butler's Pantry and Portobello Market on Queen,
            Sugar on Queen at Shaw (also overrated)
            Johny Banana, Bathurst at Queen, others like it but after 3 tries i'm still not sold.
            Fresh at Queen at Crawford (the spelt pancakes were good but scramble tofu isn't my thing so i find the menu small)
            Sadies' on Adelaide at Portland (the food is very sad and very bad, with great decor and service)
            Cora's at Wellington and at Steeles
            Eggspectations Eaton Centre (better in Montreal, awful in TO)
            Overeasy on Bloor

            5 Replies
            1. re: chocabot

              I had a good weekday brunch experience at Portobello Market at the end of August. Really tasty, perfectly cooked veggie omelette. The place is like a ghost town, though.

              1. re: Food Tourist

                I tend to roll into Prtague Deli but one morning this summer we headded over to Portobello, we sat amongst 3 other occupied tables, some with food some without, 10 maybe 15 mins later with no sign of any employees, we mosied back over to Prague...the atmosphere was depressing, as if it's gonna close for good at the end of that day...the eggs benny did look good as someone managed to get some...

                1. re: Recyclor

                  It was empty when i went too. mystery how it stays in business as everytime i pass there are only 3 tables occupied max.

                2. re: Food Tourist

                  Portobello Market served me the most disgusting grilled-cheese sandwich I've ever had. Worse than I ever thought possible. Soggy, tasteless, drenched with - of all things - tomato sauce. Its half-removed drop ceiling (the tiles are gone, but the frame is still there) and dusty grocery shelves at the back just scream "stay away." I don't know what I was thinking.

                  1. re: estragon

                    I have no clue how it has stayed in business this long!

              2. sochow,
                Thanks for reminding me of Chopin.
                Went last night for dinner, and hub. had the slow, beer roasted pork Hock.
                I tasted it and it was delicious.
                He eats this dish about twice a year, and a few weeks ago we especially went to his favourite for this dish (out of town), and they were sold out.
                You made him very happy.
                Pork Hock - $15., and it was huge.
                Served with the typical Polish sides.
                If you have not tasted Polonez's perogies, and Potato Pancakes, you should, as I believe that they are better than Chopin.
                Chopins mains are tastier, as are their salads and sides.
                You didn't mention Silver Spoon.
                Just curious why.
                We won't return because of a server issue, but, despite my irritation, I believe that they serve an excellent meal at a moderate price, and recommend it highly.

                3 Replies
                1. re: erly

                  Erly - I've never really warmed up to Silver Spoon - to be fair I have only been about twice and that was a few years back but it just didn't seem really imaginative. I'd give it another whirl around the dancefloor.

                  Polonez is on the to-go list, but you know, you need to take a few weeks' break between polish platters

                  1. re: sochow

                    Silver Soon is okay, food is priced from 10 to 30% more than their next door neighbor Boho, but seem to be getting better. The food quality seems to be better at Boho and the ambience is just a touch snootier at SS. My vote goes to Boho.

                    1. re: robgm

                      I don't know if it's still there, but when I lived in the area there was a really nice place called River. It was run by a bunch of at risk youth, and was on Roncey at Dundas W.

                2. Speaking of Roncesvalles, has anyone tried Domani? Is it worth going? Feedback appreciated.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: blue bike

                    I can't get too excited about Domani, but it is quite decent for the hood, and we do go occasionally.
                    I don't get too excited about most Italian in Toronto, so it is worth a try.
                    As good as most in Little Italy.
                    Friendly service, nice atmosphere.

                    1. re: erly

                      I'd cast a vote in favour of Domani. It's nothing earth-shattering but the food is consistently good, occasionally better than good, and it's not overpriced. It would be my first choice on that strip but I should give Boho and Silver Spoon another try.

                      The Chef's Special (?) at Polonez is delicious - goulash on a potato pancake with various garnishes. You're not likely to need to eat again for some time.

                      I have not been to River in a long, long time. It wasn't very good then, how about now?

                      1. re: flipp

                        Went to Boho last night and even without great expectations we were pretty disappointed. Both trout and steak were undercooked and neither of us wanted to finish. Fries were passable. Baked camembert was underwhelming. Service was decent. The place was a little loud in the back, seems like they could use something to dampen the sound. Overall, if we'd paid half what we did I'd still feel ripped off - I've had better steaks in breakfast specials. Personally, I'd stick with Domani any day.

                        1. re: flipp

                          Boho has recently changed ownership. I think one of its long time waiters (and a good one at that) bought it along with some other backers. Early changes seemed a bit off-putting - lounge-y music was too loud and there was a bit too much chummy stuff going on with staff one night which led to some inattentiveness, and forget the grilled flatbread stuff - bring back the nice baguette and unsalted butter. I do hope that they'll get it together again: they never aspired to be fine dining - just a friendly neighbourhood bistro and we need more of those not less.

                  2. You may be surprised by some of the Polish 'Beer joints' - I seem to remember Stara Polska having pretty good tripe soup.

                    1. I haven't gone to every place, but it sounds like an interesting idea. Unfortunately, "every" place in my neighbourhood includes some divey-looking joints. But I could certainly skip those ones...Maybe I'll start on Woodbine and work my way down to Broadview along the Danforth.

                      Places I have tried in this stretch:

                      Liked (in no order):

                      Quattro Regazze
                      Gerrard Pizza and Spaghetti
                      Thai on Danforth
                      Mocha Mocha
                      Silk Road
                      Family Thai
                      Aji Sushi
                      Blue Water
                      The New York Cafe (Bless the good greasy spoon!)
                      El Sol
                      Astoria (little place with the patio out back between Broadview and Chester)

                      Not crazy about:

                      Tiny Thai
                      Valley Pizza
                      The Willow

                      Mr. Greek/The Friendly Greek/The Happy Greek/The Singing Greek/The Dancing Greek/ The Ebullient Greek/The Somewhat Quixotic Greek/The Unknown Greek/etc.

                      1. Stara Polska _ Old Poland
                        399 Roncesvalles Toronto

                        This place is run by a young man who learned all his cooking from his Babcia (Polish for Grandma) and he learned really well.
                        The food is very authentic for the first wave of immigrants after the war. We sampled every main course since there were 7 of us - just put it all in the middle and shared. Everything was like my own mom used to make and she was an excellent cook.
                        The salad had mixed greens, a small scoop of potato salad, a small scoop of salad beets - yummy and perfect portions. We tried the pierogi - tender with delicious stuffings - we tried them all. Then we had bigos, pork cutlets, stew, cabbage rolls, schnitzel - again all delicious.
                        Service was very friendly - we were celebrating 2 birthdays and they came and sang Sto Lat with us and brought our naleznicki (sorry about the spelling) with a red candle for each birthday person.
                        They are working on the decor - it might make you think twice right now but it's clean and the food is great and so is the price. They have authentic Polish beers - Zubr Zwiech, etc
                        Washrooms very clean.
                        We had 7 full meals, dessert and tons of coffee for $139!
                        Enjoy and support this small family run business.

                        1. I notice nobody mentioned Shalamar (I do hope he's still there), good Indian food in the middle of Roncy, good enough to skip the trip across Gerrard. At lunch they give you three options: you can have a curry of beef, chicken or vegetarian (the heat is to order). I quite like the like it or leave it attitude, because the quality has always been spot on, and it's one of the very rare spots in the city to serve Fullers ESB on draught, mostly for the Cricket teams that use High Park. Cricket, curry and beer, how can you possibly go wrong? Besides, I can cook Polish food at home.

                          1. Oh what a brave idea! We live near Dupont & Davenport and I rather shudder to contemplate... would a lovely night at Mistura make up for some of the scary looking diners in our 'hood? I will see if we can work ourselves up to the idea...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: JToronto

                              I live by the U of T Scarborough campus and can't really say we have a ton of standout places around here. Saying that I have tried most of the local joints/dives/greasy spoons within a couple of kilometers.

                              Fratelli Village Pizzeria - Excellent wood oven pizzas and a great calamari starter. I also enjoy their tiramisu for dessert.

                              Highland Fish & Chips - Decent value if you take out, halibut, haddock, cod. A thin slightly oily batter. Hand cut fries. Pretty good stuff.

                              Cheetal Indian Restaurant - Excellent value, and very solid food. A little oily and I wish they'd fix that issue. Personal faves are the chicken vindaloo, chicken tikka masala, chicken tikka, reshmi tikka, aloo gobi, paneer makhni. They have a solid naan as well. Most dishes are available in beef or lamb as well as chicken. I would recommend taking out as the 'dining room' is also the takeout waiting area. They have tried to make it more inviting but it's not really an eat in place. 4 people can easily eat for $35.

                              Amigos - This place opened within the last year to replace Purdy's pub. They serve what seem to be pre-fab meals (Sysco or GFS supplied I would assume). I have eaten there a couple of times and while the food has been tasty, it lacks that home cooked taste I'd expect from a pub.

                              The Amazing Ted's - A Scarborough institution and seems very busy every morning. I have eaten breakfast there a few times, and it was a typical diner to me. Nothing mind blowing... I think it's nostalgia that brings people back. It hasn't seemed to change in the many years I've been here.

                              House of Wong - Canadianized Chinese food, a large menu and servings seem to stay hot forever. I've been here many, many times for takeout. I've recently noticed that the flavours of their many dishes don't seem to stand out as much as they did before. Most items are made with celery, onions and thinly sliced carrot and the flavours seem muddled nowadays.

                              Fossil and Haggis - A large variety of beer on tap and some of the best chicken wings in the city. Their hot wings are not really that hot, so if you like heat you might be disappointed. Their burgers have good flavour but are a little dry. Oysters are served here from Rodney's once a month as well (not sure of the exact day of the month).

                              Shamrock Burgers - A Highland Creek institution, my family used to come all the way here when we lived by Woburn C.I. Great homeburgers and thickly battered onion rings. They used to cut their own fries but now they bring them in (probably because of the second location in Brooklin) and they aren't nearly as good as they used to be. Stick with the homeburgers and onion rings.

                              Malt 'n' Salt Fish & Chips - A little less expensive than Highland and fish portions are a little larger. I believe they have a Mon-Wed haddock special for $5 IIRC. The batter they use in very crispy and not at all oily, fries are nice but not quite as good as Highland.

                              Port Union Bakery - Good danish and excellent Filipino style empanadas. I love their Boston cream donuts, a thick chocolatey layer on top and stuffed with filling, so good.

                              Tugsey's Fish & Grille - Ate once and won't go back, the fish was very fishy and tiny portions, the chips had too much skin left on and made them taste almost bitter.

                              Lamanna's Bakery - Beautiful looking cakes and a solid (albeit small veal sandwich). Very nice individual pastries and tarts, thier 'lobster tail' pastries are something I've never seen before anywhere else. They have a unique texture and a nice taste.

                              Wow, after saying we don't have many good places around here, I guess we do. From this list I'd totally recommend Fratelli, and Cheetal. The rest are solid but I wouldn't make a special trip from the other side of town for.