A Year of Chow - Your 2007 Picks
First Merry Christmas to all Toronto Chowhounds...hope you all have some great Chow!!
Now...let's all share our good chowtimes during 2007. As for me, the year was marked by some really good chowmoments at the following
Caribbean Palms on Don Mills in Flemingdon Park - really good jerk chicken and boneless chicken rotis
Love Siddharta for yummy a la carte Indian
Like the take out sushi and dim sum for quick hits from the new downtown T&T
Still looking for some great dim sum restaurants...have tried a lot of places but am still looking...HELP??
Love shopping at Summerhill market for special treats
Thanks fellow TO Chowhounds.
My Best Picks:
Every 'game' dishes from both George and Splendido's chef tasting menu! Both chefs did not miss a beat!! The elk and venison were particularly memorable!.
The 'Pan seared wild Florida Grouper with creamed corn ravioli, chanterelle and beurre blanc cream sauce'. from Starfish. Hands down, the best tasting fish dish of 2007. The West Virginicas oyster from the west coast also deserves a special mention. Great tasting chewy/meaty oyster. Who needs French Belons?!
The ' Sea bass filet with wood fungus in a Chinese rice wine sauce' and ' Stirred fry shredded sea eel with yellowing chives' , both from Shanghai Bund, shared top honours for the yummiest non-western food dishes. Pity, Shanghai Bund went down hill after my last visit.
PS: My worst meal - The Filet Mignon and Chicken combo entree from the Eglington Grand Banquet Hall. Tough, ultra-dry and tasteless! Chewing my leather belt yield better sensation!!
Coming back to TO after 5 years in the culinary wasteland of Montreal (unless you like bagels and poutine and french food, which I don't) , i have spent the last year discovering lots of new places of all sorts of ethnic origins, particularly ones that fit my budget (under $20 for mains ideally) and diet (lots of healthy veg and fish based options). here are some favourites:
SABABA - walking distance from work for me and a frequent drive-by stop for picking up incredible lentil soup and fallafel
BUTLER'S PANTRY - affordable, rib-sticking comfort food with all four corners of the globe represented, great for a pre-drinking meal in the summer on the sweet patio
SUSHI ISLAND - AYCE goodness, especially the black/brown rice rolls, just be careful about the lines and upcharges
UTOPIA - best burgers in the city, amazing nachos, decent friends and rice and beans side dish, and yummy burritos, sandwiches, etc. great for a young crowd wanting a busy, happening vibe
MEZETTA - tapas with a mediterrenean flair, featuring all sorts of dips, stews, skewered meats, plus traditional stuff like moussaka and vine leaves. BEST BAKLAVA IN THE CITY
JAIPUR GRILLE - lovely for a nice (romantic) dinner, complex Indian spicing and the best appetizer platter i've ever had!
QUINCE - lovely spot, romantic and low-lit, great menu with nouveau variety (fish in particular) and classics like steak frites, amazing service, great date spot
93 HARBORD - wonderfully serene yet stylish space serving middle eastern influenced fare with incredible complexity and layering in the flavours. and i lied before, theirs is the best appetizer platter.
WHOLE FOODS - for a mini-lunch on free samples
SUMMERHILL MARKET - well worth the treacherous bike ride for the variety and the prepared salads - the picco de gallo salad is my staple, really good tabule also
IL GELATIERE - say what you will, the maria flavour is so good it makes me cry
ST LAWRENCE MARKET - mustard, honey, salsa, bacon, cheese, cheese, cheese...oh and the date square in the north market - killer
BRICKWORKS FARMER'S MARKET - a relatively undiscovered gem, and the best spot for a picnic
that's a smattering...still on a quest for more affordable, happening, young and hip places for a meal with the girls or the guy, but for now, i like my haunts :)
Here's a link to the Brickworks website: http://www.evergreen.ca/rethinkspace/...
I think my favourite Chowfind this year was Tabla for great Indian food.
I enjoyed re-discovering Takesushi for fresh and delicious sushi in the financial district.
I continue to enjoy middle eastern at Tov Li and Sofra. I also continue to enjoy Pomegranate on Queen East for a great bacon and eggs brunch.
For a better than usual food court lunch, I was pleased with my burrito bowl last week from Z-teca - it included braised beef which was quite delicious.
I was happy to find Aroma and Manic for a good coffee or latte - and surprisingly, I enjoy the latte at Hollywood Gelato on Bayview.
For great delivery, I am pleased to have found Thai Spoon in Richmond Hill. It's a regular now when I feel like a great pad thai or some spicy chili chicken.
oh that's too bad. I was afraid that might happen. It was a great little place, but it never seemed to catch a whole lot of buzz, which is surprising to me given the other choices in the area. It was a great option. I will miss the "big boy" breakfast with eggs bacon, baked beans, fresh fruit, bread and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. The service was always very pleasant there as well.
Good-insight, i'll have to try this Summerhill market all you chows have been raving about.
In 2007 I have found some affordable, hip spots....definate date night potential :) or nights out with the friends....
Tomi-kro (Leslieville) - must try the lobster maki rolls.
Torito (kensington) - yummy tapas.
The Rushton (St. Clair) - sweet potato frites!
I have to agree on the Brickworks suggestion. One of my best chow moments has having an amazing locally sourced BLT from one of the vendors there and having it as a picnic. The atmosphere was wonderful.
Also Mercury Coffee and fresh beignets from Cajun Corner on a Saturday morning.
In spite of some of the 'slagging' this place received, I have to say that my experience(s) at BANJARA made it this year's find for us....we have never had a problem with the service or attitude and have had consistently good (and some times great) meals. I know it is not considered 'high end/gourmet but ...I simply want good food , consistently well prepared and pleasant service. It more than meets my criteria for those very reasons. On the other hand, I must say that a dinner at The Universal Grill was probably the worst meal I have had this year (maybe for several years!) Granted we went on a Tuesday evening..is this supposed to be an 'off night?' From start to finish it couldn't have been worse...dry, overcooked ribs, goat cheese appetizer (which was wonderful in the past) seemed to be a leftover from Saturday night...it was greasy, and the taste was off...the polenta colour was brown instead of golden...just awful.totally yuck! Don't get me started on the Liver which had that unmistakeable odour of 'old'....
My other good discovery was GLOBE...loved it and have been back several times.
Bistro 990 still has the Steak Tartare to die for but the crowding in the room is a nightmare...best to go at lunch unless it's a scene you wish to be seen in!
Happy to finally be back 'online' (in my own apartment...YEAH!!!)
BEST WISHES TO ALL IN THE TORONTO AREA.....from the Beach (not really) in Ocho Rios, Jamaica....
Indeed. Banjara...had great meals at Canoe, JK, and elsewhere. Though the best thing that happened day to day foodie wise was Banjara got back into the game...after a bit off a rough spot, through fall and winter it has been consistently really really good and occasionally great. so count that as another vote for BANJARA, the closest thing to really good indian without the drive to brampton !
I didn't discover Chowhound until late Jan 07, and I can't believe I wasted all those years of being single, and then married w/ no kids and eating out at random places, argh!).
Some of my favs from the year have been:
- Cafe Michi and Zen: restored my belief in good quality Japanese food in Toronto
- Tak Wor and Maple Yip (thanks to Charles Yu): for good homey Chinese food
- Jules Patisserie: endured a 20 min drive every second sunday morning to get their amazing pain chocolat and almond croissants
- Il Gelatiere: after we hit Jules...
- JKWB: for some lively kitchen viewing fun injected back into your meal
- Spring Villa for sunday morning discount dim sum: we stopped going there lately, since you can't get a seat if you arrive after 9:45am... crazy!
- Saving Grace: fresh and innovative breakfast/bunch, just wish their location was bigger
- Oh Geul Boh Guel: blown away by the number of Korean banchan side dishes they can give you.
Still on my "to try" list includes George's tasting menu, Globe, Quince, Thuet, Celestin, Kaji, Solo Sushi-Ya, Miyabi... the list goes on and on, just too bad I have a small child now and another one on the way. 2008 is not going to be a good chow year for us. :(
Favourites of the new openings:
L'Unita for keeping it simple in Yorkville. Finally!
Mengrai Thai for proving that great Thai food CAN be found in a pretty room Toronto and doesn't need to be fused.
And of the old:
Weezie's for being sensitive to their customers' demands. Keeping the neighbourhood favourites on the menu and switching it up just often enough that even if you live a block away you have to keep coming.
mississauga's been good to me this year.
nirvana's - all you can eat lunch buffet, indian, but not halal
pho mi 99 - very good pho, takes credit card too
kumai - hit and miss, mostly miss, ... but seriously good food with otherwise very poor service at lunchtime
vietnam noodle star - still my favourite pho spot, and we just discovered that they make a killer pineapple banana milkshake
silver star/fantasy star eatery (whatever they're called), at glen watford - has the best stir fries
another place in mississauga: our union held a meeting at this banquet hall and the food there was a-maaaaaaaaaaa-zing. i believe it was called the mississauga banquet hall or something similar to that. located at the intersection of hurontario and something, one light just south of the 401, on the north east corner. in the same plaza as nirvana and kumai, actually.
their potatoes - soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. i have not had potatoes that good in my life. well cooked, soft and moist. and chicken cooked in tomato sauce was nice and firm and moist and yummy. pasta was done al dente. no complaints for a union meal, at least.
Have to say we really enjoyed O-Mei in Richmond Hill (north side of Hwy 7, just west of West Beaver Creek). We tried their enormous lobster four ways, and it was a real treat, if pricey.
I can't pick a single favourite place/meal as 2007 was a year full of amazing eats in Toronto for us. There were definitely way more hits than misses so I consider myself lucky... even more surprising was the fact that we had our first kid early in the year (March) but still managed to get our chow on. Having my wife's 2006 bonus in the form of an expense account this year and access to good babysitters (ie. mom/in-laws) certainly helped. :-)
If I had to narrow it down my favourite meals in 2007 would be Colborne Lane, Auberge de Pommier, Scaramouche, Susur, Lucien, C5, George, Amuse-Bouche, Splendido, and Harbour 60... these pretty much take the cake (not in order). Also had a few great meals at Globe, Tomi-Kro, Batifole, and a bunch more but the ones listed previously were certainly the best of the best. Looking forward to another great year of eats in 2008!
Donair and Kebab House Turkish Cuisine in Kitchener (next to Taka, on Bleams at Homer Watson).
Banjara for eat-in only on Bloor between Ossington and Christie, Toronto.
Colborne Lane, Toronto.
Bulldog latte, Toronto.
Taste of Afghanistan in the Downsview market food court.
Bungeoppang (fish-shaped stuffed waffles) and cinnamon sugared pancakes prepared outdoors at Galleria supermarket/mall on Yonge north of Steeles.
Kwality Sweets, Brampton.
Peter Cellars Pub at Mono Cliffs Inn in Mono Centre, outside Orangeville.
Woodenheads in Kingston.
Le Club Chasse et Peche and Fairmount Bagels, both in Montreal. I realize Fairmount is as old as the hills but it was my first time making a pilgrimage there in 2007 despite being a former resident of that great food city!
Voyager Estates winery restaurant in Margaret River region, Western Australia.