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Review of multiple restos in Leslieville/Riverside

I recently moved to the area and have been making my way through the local restos...from from Jilly’s onward :)

Here are some impressions so far…

Prohibition/Booze: I have eaten here a few times…the $15 hamburger is good but I was a little disappointed that it was smaller the third time that I had it (though the price was the same). The philly steak was also good but the wings were just about the worst that I have ever had. Ok, they are new and still experimenting but those should not have gone out. The best dessert is the flourless chocolate cake (supplied by It’s the Icing on the Cake).

Coyote Willie: Awesome Mexican food at a cheap price…I had chicken enchiladas, an incredibly good pecan pie and a drink for $14. Clearly you do not go here for the atmosphere though.

Burger Shoppe: Ok I guess but really for those who have a taste for the “conventional”.

Dangerous Dan’s: You either love the ambiance or hate it (I am in the former camp) but there is no denying the burgers (especially the Greek burger) are good…and HUGE! I haven’t been brave enough to try the 24oz burger with three layers of cheese and bacon, served with poutine. The wings weren’t that great though.

The Real Jerk: Good food (big portions) and friendly service but I am not so crazy about the atmosphere. My favourite dish was the Jerk Pork…I was also pleasantly surprised at the heat level of their Real Jerk sauce (I estimate 150,000 SHU)…also good grapenut and coconut ice cream (from Greg’s on Bloor?)….avoid that flan thing!

The Citizen: I went there on opening weekend..I don’t remember what I had but I left satisfied…I had a good chat with the owner (they also own a resto on Queen West)…seems like they know what they are doing.

Jimmy’s Place: Granted, this is not exactly the same crowd as the newer more upscale restos but it was pretty good…and CHEAP! Tuesdays and Thursdays are ½ price wing nites and I had wings, a huge bowl of fries, a can of pop, and extra sauces for $10 TAX INCLUDED! The wings were better than the more expensive restos reviewed above.

Kubo Radio: I love the feel of the patio (pink/purple chairs) but the service was horrendously slow and the duck/beef burger was average at best. I’d still repeat but only in patio weather.

Lil Baci: A new resto owned by its neighbour Kubo Radio….possibly the thinnest pizza I have ever seen..in fact, it was so thin and slippery that I had a hell of a time cutting it (had to revert to eating with my hands)…I don’t anticipate a repeat.

Bonjour Brioche: The “Centro” of breakfast places…it seems that you go here to see and be seen rather than for the food…not that the food is bad (it isn’t) but it is a notch below Le Petit Dejeuner. I have the same thing every time (smoked salmon omelette with caviar over rosti)…at least it is consistent.

Toast: Solid breakfast food…just as good and pricey as Bonjour Brioche but with a more laid back atmosphere.

Joy Bistro: Ok now THAT was not worth $55…enough said.

Stratengers: Isn’t this billed as a “top” pizza place? It was good…but top? Wasn’t “special” enough to merit a repeat.

Leslie Jones: I went here despite some bad reviews on Chow Hound…I don’t know why it got bad reviews as I had a good experience. I had the tomato/leek soup with feta cheese, braised beef with green peppercorn sauce, and homemade chocolate torte…all courses were good, as was the service. Not crazy about the “cash only” policy though.

Edward Levesque’s Kitchen: WOW, everything here was bursting with flavour….no subtlety about this place (those who do not like strong flavours stay away). I had the onion puree soup, linguine with buffalo mozzeralla, roast tomato, and awesome garlic chips and the avocado/pistachio ice cream for dessert. Service was incredibly good…I could do without the jazz music.

Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant: Good food but really small portions. I could have easily had my entire dinner all over again…and still have room left. I had the gnocchi appetizer, the pulled pork wrapped in ribeye and covered in goat cheese as the main dish, and chocolate torte for dessert. This would probably be my first choice to bring a friend in from out of town.

Batifole: A new personal favourite! I loved it! Really reminded me of being back home in Montreal…I had the escargot, horse meat tartare and crepes in Jack Daniels sauce (with fresh pecans)…I will DEFINITELY repeat

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  1. Gorgeous report... I am not an east-ender, but I keep wanting to do the food tour... at least now I'll know where to go.

    Thanks -
    Rab- bit!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Rabbit

      wow that was fast :)

      thanks! I hope to visit TOMI-KRO next...


      1. re: loftman

        Pop Bistro? Sushi Marche? Pulp Kitchen?

        1. re: cowhound

          haven't been to those yet...may go to Sushi Marche today (if it's open)

          1. re: loftman

            You should also try Le Cafe Vert. It's good. I enjoyed the food. But what sticks out was the service (former waitress from Pulp Kitchen), it has a nice quaint feel and the coffee was laced with cardamom which was very tasty. It's small though, so don't go with a large party.
            I used to love Pulp Kitchen. Haven't been in awhile though. I really like their Spiralina Smoothie and they make good lattes.

          2. re: cowhound

            I went to Pop BIstro a few weeks ago and quite enjoyed it. I had the chicken and a salad. and it was all very tasty. The service was very friendly and courteous. All in all a nice evening at a local resto.

      2. thanks I will try those as well.

        I did end up going to Sushi Marche...not quite as much selection as I am used to from a sushi place...it did have a unique taste (citrus?) and texture...i may repeat but not in a rush to do so.

        1. hey loftman! could you tell me more about jimmy's place? what's the address for it? i gather it's like a pub kinda place? i've been lookin' for a good wings place - seems like its one i should try! what else do you recommend? does it have the usual pub grub? burgers, pastas, salads, bruschetta, poutine type stuff?

          5 Replies
          1. re: jennjen18

            yes it definitely has those types of things on the menu...it is indeed a pub rather than a "wing place" (like Duff's, CW Coop or St. Louis). their chicken souvlaki is decent too...

            Jimmy's Place Bar & Grill
            Address : 755 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M4M 1H3
            Telephone : 416-462-3023

            thanks embee...what don't you agree with?

            1. re: loftman

              I have to disagree about recommending Jimmy's Place for wings. We tried it last night for the first time, and although it was not busy (one table and two customers at the bar), it took over 45 minutes to get our order. Just getting our drinks took almost 20 minutes. When the wings did arrive, they were very small, overcooked, and the sauce-to-wing ratio was way out of whack. All we could taste was the sauce. We chanced the poutine and what arrived was a huge plate (I do agree that their portions are enormous) with fries covered in tons of gravy and what seemed like melted kraft cheese all over the top. When we wrapped our heads around the fact that this was in no way poutine, but almost like cheesy fries in a bowl, we didn't so mind them. Reminded me of what my friends and I used to throw together on a Saturday night when we got the munchies. The bill on half price Tues: two orders of chicken wings, one order of "poutine" with two pints on tap: $22. Our verdict - we won't be back.

              1. re: torontogal

                then stay away from the wings at Prohibition LOL

                hmmm...too bad..to put things in context though, i had wings at Duff's (arguably the best wings in Toronto) last night and even though it was their "half price" wing nite, I still paid over $40 for my dinner (double what you paid...for 2 people!)

                BTW, I had the battered zuchini, 20 wings with Armageddon sauce (and extra sauce for the fries), a basket of fries, and a pitcher of diet coke.

                1. re: loftman

                  In no way was the comment a reflection of the price!! You're absolutely correct, we had 20 wings between us, a big plate of cheesy fries and a couple of pints, all for $22. All I was saying was no matter how low the price, the verdict was still the same: we won't be back. Bad food is bad food at any price. For us we'd rather pay more for something that tastes good, and where we recieve at least some semblance of service.

                  1. re: torontogal

                    oh i hear you...I'd rather pay $100 for a great meal (Barberian's) than $50 for a crappy one.

                    anyway, better luck next time...

          2. While I don't agree with all of your opinions, that was a great post. Thanks loftman :-)

            1. I just ate at Tomi-Kro...it was great! Here's what I had:

              Foie gras creme brule with lingone berry jam, cucumber, red onion pickle

              Filet of beef with wasabi mash, gorgonzola, and caramelized onion

              Whipped brie with dried fruit compote, balsamic glaze, and crostini

              service was very friendly...the atmosphere reminded me of Jamie Kennedy (where I ate 2 days ago)...at least the portions were bigger here :)

              3 Replies
              1. re: loftman

                Mmmmm... that all sounds heavenly! What are the prices like, if you don't mind me asking?

                1. re: vorpal

                  foie gras $14
                  Filet of beef $22
                  Whipped brie $8
                  bottled water $6
                  I think the Diet Coke was around $3-$4

                  1. re: loftman

                    I just ate at Tomi-Kro for the first time last night, it was superb.

              2. This is such a great comprehensive thread, I'm going to add some place links -

                744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

                730 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1H2, CA

                Kubo Radio
                894 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1J3, CA

                Lil' Baci
                892 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1J3, CA

                Coyote Willie
                689 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1G6, CA

                Real Jerk
                709 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1H1, CA

                Dangerous Dan's
                714 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1H2, CA

                Jimmy's Place
                755 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1H3, CA

                Bonjour Brioche
                812 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                993 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1K2, CA

                884 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M4M 1J3, CA

                1130 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1L1, CA

                Leslie Jones
                1182 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1L4, CA

                Edward Levesque's
                1290 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1C4, CA

                Gio Rana's
                1220 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1L7, CA

                1214 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1L7, CA

                Cafe Vert
                946 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1J7, CA

                Pop Bistro
                686 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1G9, CA

                Sushi Marche
                1105 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M1K7, CA

                8 Replies
                1. re: JamieK

                  Oops, had a hitch with Prohibiition because it doesn't come up in Canada411.

                  696 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                    1. re: loftman

                      Judging from all the rave reviews about Tomi Kro I must return. It seems it has much improved since I last visited almost 2 years ago. The foie gras brulee sounds to die for.

                      1. re: millygirl

                        Perhaps Laura Prentice has taken over the kitchen again at Tomi Kro? Anyone know? It would explain the uphill ride they're on and the downhill slide Gio Rana's is on.

                        1. re: Googs

                          When did Prentice leave Tomi-kro? Hasn't she been there a couple of years?

                          1. re: Edith S

                            Maybe they are connected in some way because the night we were there she seemed to be going back and forth between the two the entire evening.

                            1. re: millygirl

                              I know that Prentice had been chef at Gio's for a while, and there was an uptick in their food at the time. I believe she and/or her husband were/are among the owners of Tomi Kro. But they move around so much that I have no idea the of the current arrangements. I don't think there is any ownership overlap between Gio's and Tomi Kro, but I don't really know for sure.

                            2. re: Edith S

                              Other way around. Since I follow the chef, not the restaurant, and in light of the comments made on this post I wanted to see what brought about the recent fluctuations. I noted on ChefDB that there's no acting chef listed past 2006 at Tomi-Kro. I also noted that, according to the same source, Ms. Prentice is listed only until 2006 at Gio's. Hence the question, is she now cooking rather than consulting for Tomi-Kro? I'll have to check it out again if she is. All of this is for nought, though, if ChefDB simply needs updating.

                  1. Agreed on the assessment of Batifole. It's our new personal favourite too.

                    The Boy and I both had the prix fixe menu. He had the escargot and blanquette de veau, and I had the wild boar terrine and baked bass, both of which came with a mixed green salad and fries with tarragon aioli. I loved everything - my only complaint is the fries, but not because they were bad.. it's just that they didn't live up to the quality of everything else and I've had MUCH better in crappier restaurants.

                    To finish, we split the two desserts included with the menu (frozen chocolate profiterole and ). There was a small group of Parisians at another table having a great time and raving about the food - so even the experts agree. :)

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: tartiflette

                      "two desserts included with the menu (frozen chocolate profiterole and )."

                      Was the second dessert so low calorie it doesn't have an alphabet to describe it? :)

                      Thanks for the list, Tomi-Kro sounds like a great plan soon, and also I am happy people went to Kubo Radio before I did. Sounds like not the best place for a relaxed meal.

                      1. re: Pincus

                        I just got back from having the East End Eats Out prix fixe menu at Batifole, and the other dessert was a cognac infused creme brulee.

                        Oh, god... the dinner was spectacular. I have a strong aversion (which I wish I could overcome) to anything that comes out of the sea / freshwater, but I caved on my dinner companion's insistence that I try one of her escargot, and it was exquisite. I was begging her for a second. The terrines - particularly the wild boar - were delicious. We followed up the appetizers with the veal in dijon cream sauce (for me) and the bass (for her), both of which were rich and generously portioned enough to leave us feeling stuffed. Prior to dessert, we received tiny pears in an apple brandy, which was a nice palate cleanser, and then we feasted on the frozen chocolate profiterole and creme brulee.

                        Nothing skimpy about the portions, and we left feeling so full that we had to roll out the door. Unbelievable value for a mere $35 per person, especially as the service was flawless. Our bread basket and water glasses were never empty throughout the evening, and I'm known for eating a lot of bread and drinking a huge amount of water.

                        My only complaint is that the restaurant was very uncomfortably warm. By the end of the meal, I was desperate to leave to get some fresh air.

                        Glad you decided to pass on Kubo. Out of three experiences with them, one was mediocre and the other were insultingly bad, both in terms of service and food. No one should pay money for that.

                        1. re: vorpal

                          The weather was unseasonably warm last night, and I think most places are suffering with how to properly control the temperature inside. Seems odd to put the air conditioning on at the end of October. The place I was at last night was very warm also.
                          I never thought escargot came from the sea. So I did a little search just to check: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escargot

                          1. re: pescatarian

                            Fascinating! I had no idea that escargot were land-based snails. When I thought snails, for some reason, I always thought fresh water. Thanks for pointing me to that Wikipedia page.

                          2. re: vorpal

                            i'm glad you've made the switch vorpal, after your first experience at batifole i thought you would forever be disappointed in toronto restos but batifole is a serious gem.

                            the escargots are a must have for each visit, i sop up every last bit of the father's sauce with their delicious bread.... i hardly find a baguette better than theirs and eat mounds of bread because it's so tasty.

                            as a note about the escargots. yes they are land based, and you can in fact take snails from your garden and keep them in a jar at home feeding them organics and healthy things for two weeks to make your own. a few bloggers have done the experiment. although, i'm unsure if there are particular types of snails you should avoid in canadian yards.

                          3. re: Pincus

                            I blame residual brain-freeze from the profiteroles. :)

                        2. A couple more to add:

                          Soma: I finally went to Soma but this should not be considered a typical experience as it was a "special" night...my friends were DJing and it was PACKED like I have never seen..in fact, they actually ran out of many dishes by the time that I got there at 9PM. It's not really fair to judge them on the slow service under the circumstances. On to the food...the appetizer was an utter disappointment...sold as a salad with cheese but in actuallity the cheese was part of the dressing and totally unperceptible...the mac and cheese main dish was good as was the chocolate pudding/brownie for dessert ($35).

                          Velvet: What is it with "cash only" policies in this neighbourhood, sheesh! Anyway, while I liked the exposed brick, there was something about the atmosphere that I did not like. I also wasn't crazy about having to wait forever for my burger and the bill. The food itself was average.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: loftman

                            Velvet was so cheap just a few years ago that the cash only policy didn't grate. The place was extremely uncomfortable, and fairly gloomy, though rescued somewhat by the brick walls. The atmosphere has gradually improved, but ain't there yet. Mainly, they didn't much care. They seem caught between the area's old (Newell's/Jim's/Gale's) and new (Starbuck's/Cafe Vert/Brick St) residents. An attempt at an "upscale" weekend brunch failed dismally.

                            The primary cook, a Greek woman - I don't know whether she's still there - produced startlingly good pub food and some Greek dishes better than anything on the Danforth (though a lousy "Greek salad"). When she was off, food quality suffered. Service was always slow, in part because almost everything was cooked to order.

                            We stopped going when the prices started to creep up. They haven't become "expensive", but one day we realized that two large meals plus two beers no longer cost less than $25. At their current prices, a better ambiance plus credit/debit are easily available.

                          2. I used to live directly behind Joy/Kubo/Barrio and miss the neighbourhood dearly. (This report brings me back!)

                            My boy and I were shocked to discover last weekend that Joy is no longer open for breakfast mid-week? Can anyone confirm? Also, any word on whether Barrio's still open? Their food (albeit bar nibblies) was always fantastic and reasonably priced.

                            1. After our disappointing try with Jimmy's Place for wings, we thought we would brave one more recommendation, and off to Coyote Willie's we went.

                              Fantastic place! The food really was awesome. I ordered the beef and chorizo enchilada and it was really delicious. We couldn't believe the quality of food you get for the price. And the servers/owners are very kind and extremely attentive.

                              Coyote Willies' definitely gets a "thumbs up". Thanks for the recommendation, Loftman!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: torontogal

                                no prob, glad you liked it...too bad you did not try the homemade pecan pie....it was darn good!

                                1. re: loftman

                                  Okay, I've gotta get back there. Coyote Willie was one of the first reasonably okay restaurants around here, but we gave up on them after several meals that could have come from cans (though they likely didn't).