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Visiting Toronto, desperately seeking advice!

My husband and I will be visiting Toronto for about 5 nights, this is our first visit to Toronto. I am a great foodie who's been starved of good restaurants for a year and have a lot of catching up to do. We'll be at the Marriott downtown on Yonge, so I need suggestions within a reasonable radius, as husband will be at meetings until pretty late. We are not looking for cool places, good food and ambience come first..

Please can you suggest somewhere not too pricey but with superb dimsum.
Ditto for really good portuguese alcatra, thai food, modern western food with clean flavours, and really fresh well-prepared seafood in a casual atmosphere.

I desperately need to hang out at european-style cafes with cosy ambience and good coffee, soft seats, and magazines. Husband needs somewhere with good beer/wine and ambience, not too much noise, to hang out in during evenings.

Good shopping spots where I can buy all those foodie bits and pieces to take back with me (spicy sausages, various spices and pastes, massa malagueta, the stuff to make the milk curdle so I can make my own fresh portuguese cheese, patés, maple syrup, chinese/SE asian ingredients, good coffees and teas sold by weight, great cheeses, etc. etc.

A friend suggested I ask for help from all you foodies, thanks in advance!

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  1. You will be relatively close to both the St. Lawrence Market (go early!), and the Kensington Market. Your concierge should be able to direct you.

    1. Are you staying at the Marriott Bloor/Yorkville (on Bloor) or the Courtyard (Yonge and College)... note a huge difference, but significant enough for quick, in-the-nabe dinner recs??

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rabbit

        Good point, Rabbit. I belive I'm at the Yonge/College Marriott (475 Yonge Street ).

      2. I'll take a stab at a few of these:

        Seafood: Starfish, Adelaide @ Jarvis. Wonderful, fresh oyster selection, fabulous prepared fish dishes, frites to die for.

        Thai: common thread on this board is that Mengrai Thai is the best in the city right now--I'll let someone else sell you on that.

        Modern Western food: I love Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, on Church at Jarvis, small plates concept, organic, seasonal.

        Husband evening: Roof Bar at the park Hyatt, Avenue/Bloor. Cozy. Fireplace. Well mixed cocktails. Spiced nuts. Yum.

        Asian Ingredients: Closest would probably be Chinatown, on Spadina between Dundas and College, there are 4 or so large grocery stores on the east side. Farther out would be T&T on Cherry Street, massive superstore--if you have wheels, would be an interesting trip.

        Second St. Lawrence and Kensington--you can visit Kensington at the same time as Chinatown.

        A good resource for Toronto is the places tab at the top of this board. It will give you addresses, and links to what we've been talking about.

        Have fun!

        8 Replies
        1. re: Minnow

          WELCOME TO "HOG TOWN"-OLD YORK
          Look for a Timothy's European Style Coffee shop. It's a Canadian chain with exceptional atmoshere, cafeine beverages, music, reading material and friendly folks.
          Don't miss the Timothy experience while in town.
          A taste of Toronto.

          1. re: fruglescot

            Try the Timothy's at SE corner of Bay & Queen...on the ground floor of the Bay....comfy seats!!

            1. re: T Long

              Sorry, you're sending the OP to a chain coffee shop? In a city full of so many other options? Sheesh!
              For a little taste of Middle Europe, go to the Coffee Mill (99 Yorkville), Toronto's original Hungarian cafe, where the waitresses are old enough to remember the tanks of 1956. Have a palascinta with your coffee. Bring your own magazine. You won't regret it.

              1. re: estragon

                Hey Estragon, this Coffee Mill, it doesn't have a cake called "lublab" or "lubdab" does it?

                1. re: moh

                  Sorry, the word is "ludlab", it is a pastry involving sour cherries. Apparently there was a place in MOntreal called Coffee Mill that was Hungarian, and served amazing Ludlab.

          2. re: Minnow

            A hearty 2nd on all of Minnow's suggestions. One thing though... As much as I love the Roof Bar at the Hyatt, the Consort Bar at the King Edward Hotel is a wee bit closer to her hotel. Either way, martinis all around!
            http://www.starwoodhotels.com/lemerid...

            1. re: Googs

              The Consort Bar is nice... but the TVs are distracting, and the spirits selection is poor. I'd stick with the Park Hyatt.

            2. re: Minnow

              Some of JKWB's food is too salty. Stayed away from the hanger steak as it is heavily over-salted. Otherwise, atmosphere is ok with fair pricing.

            3. Welcome welcome!

              For dimsum, use the "Search this board" feature above - not my expertise, but something is done well here.

              Modern Western Food with Clean Flavours - Can we say enough about Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar? IT's small plates, but the flavours are really innovative with an homage to Canadian treasures. Also, for seafood I love Quince. It's uptown from you, but accessible by subway. They prepared whole fish in a wood-oven. Lovely atmosphere mixes casual with romantic and hip.

              i am not sure for Cafes, but 7 west off Yong st on Charles or Cafe Nervosa in Yorkville are both nice ambiant locales with lots of nooks and crannies (and big chairs if I recall correctly!)

              As for shopping look NO FURTHER than the St.Lawrence - there are amazing cheese stores, butchers, fish purveyors, a great spice store in the basement, bulk stores, and (I'm told) amazing fresh pastas and sauces. Just don't go on a Saturday, unless you can get there early, because it gets really busy. if you want to really talk to the vendors, go another time, and plan to spend a good 2 hours exploring. You'll definately find maple syrup here too.

              T&T is totally amazing for Asian goods. They run a shuttle bus on the weekend from downtown, and you can get dim sum there too! Search the board for more info on that.

              Have fun and enjoy!

              -----
              Quince
              2110 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A5, CA

              Jamie Kennedy
              9 Church St, Toronto, ON M5E1M2, CA

              St. Lawrence Market
              92 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E, CA

              7 West
              7 Charles St W, Toronto, ON M4Y1R4, CA

              Cafe Nervosa
              75 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R1B8, CA

              T And T Supermarket
              1 Promenade Circle Thornhill ON

              2 Replies
              1. re: LemonLauren

                I just wanted to add a comment about St. Lawrence Market on Saturday - it is actually my preferred time to go. It can be crowded - I agree with LemonLauren - however, on Saturday there are two markets open, the 'permanent' market in the south building (which LemonLauren described - it is very fun to visit), and the farmer's market in the north building. At the farmer's market you'll find butchers (including a great place for sausage), vegetables, fresh herbs, game meat, cheeses, baked goods, jams and preserves. There are tables outside this building on Saturday as well - there is a vendor where I regularly buy my maple syrup.

                By the way, on the ground level of the south building (at the southeast corner) there are also artisans who set up tables with art and crafts. I also really like this corner of the building (inside I mean) - there is a shop selling all types of sprouts, a shop selling a range of hot sauces, a bakery and two foodstands I like: one sells Greek food, the other sells great Italian sandwiches.

                1. re: Toronto_food_guy

                  i'm a little too lazy to skim through all the posts thus far... but in case you didn't know, all of SLM is closed on Sundays. so definitely do not plan to try to go then. i love the chaos of saturdays.

                  plus, while utterly simplistic... i think the portuguese chicken at SLM is some of the best in the city and you might as well get a little if you're going to be there.

              2. Dim sum: definitely try out Lai Wah Heen and/or Grand Chinese Cuisine. The former is in the downtown core; the latter in Mississauga. Both are stellar places for dim sum - pricey, but well worth it.

                Western Food: I second Jaime Kennedy, also Lee is worth trying out in my opinion (King St. West) for some great Torontonina fusion at a reasonable price.

                Shopping for food: St. Lawrence is great; Kensington Market (South of College, just West of Spadina) is another place to look - definitely grungier, less polished, but fun nonetheless and right next to Chinatown which is always a good time.

                -----
                Lai Wah Heen
                108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                Lee
                603 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                Grand Chinese Cuisine
                655 Dixon Rd, Toronto, ON M9W1J3, CA

                1. Oh wow, lots of great suggestions! And what's even better, you guys seem to agree about quite a few, which means they have to be fab, so these are going straight onto the must-absolutely-do list!
                  Keep 'en comin' - and thanks sooo much!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                    For good coffee near your hotel, try B Espresso Bar on Queen, just east of Church (www.bespressobar.com) they serve Illy Cafe there. For atmosphere, try Kalendar on College at Euclid. If travelling out east to Leslieville area (Queen East) There are so many good cafe options: Dark Horse, Bonjour Brioche, Mercury Espresso Bar, Tango Palace (my favourite) to name a few. It's a really cool, up and coming area with lots of antique stores and cafes.

                  2. Yum, can't wait!
                    Anybody know where I can get a good portuguese alcatra? Good sushi/sashimi?

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                      T&T is definitely worth a visit....but the dim sum isn't very good.

                      For most of your shopping needs, the St. Lawrence Market has got everything. Vendors to visit include Schefflers and a couple places in the basement, don't know their names, but there's a coffee place and a food store that sells a whole bunch of different ingredients. Bad descriptions, but you'll know when you see them.

                      Not sure where you can get alcatra, but there's a churrasco place in the Market where I'm sure you could ask. Portuguese restaurants are in the Western part of downtown, so a bit of a hike.

                        1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                          In downtown, Ichiriki has both good raw and cooked Japanese food at Church and Bloor, order the daily fresh from the black board.

                          http://www.torontolife.com/guide/rest...

                          1. re: skylineR33

                            I find Ichiriki has far too heavy a hand with the wasabi. You can feel the freshness in your mouth, but you can't taste it.

                            1. re: Googs

                              I only have sashimi in there, it is very fresh. You may be right.

                              It is also relative I guess. Recently I had a meal at Kaji with my foodie friend from Japan and he actually think the wasabi in the sushi is too strong and spicy. It is not as fresh as the wasabi comes with the sashimi course. Probably it is soaked in the rice for a bit too long to decrease it's freshness.

                          2. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                            Most Portuguese restaurants in Toronto specialize in either seafood (like Chiado, Adega or Cataplana) or churrasquierra (Bairrada's http://www.bairrada.ca/menus.html , as well as lots of independent take-out shops). I checked the online menus at Chiado, Adega and Cataplana (probably the best Portuguese restaurants in TO), and none of them have alcatra on the menu. The only beef I saw on the menus was either tenderloin or steak. http://www.chiadorestaurant.ca/
                            http://www.adegarestaurante.ca/dinner...
                            http://www.cataplana.ca/dinner.html
                            I haven't seen alcatra (Portuguese pot roast) on any menus, but I'm mostly familiar with the seafood restaurants.

                            Maybe call one of the restaurants, to see if they know of anyone serving alcatra?

                          3. Hello,
                            Here are a few favorites (all of which have websites you can check out)

                            -Terroni- great southern Italian (3 locations in Toronto I would suggest either the Queen St location or the Courthouse location). Be prepared for a slight wait (15-30 mins)

                            -Cluck Grunt and Low (Great BBQ joint on Bloor St just west of Spadina)

                            -Le Select- French Bistro casual (On Wellington ave.)

                            -I agree with Starfish- great fresh seafood. (As fresh as you’ll find in Toronto)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: FrancoYYZ

                              I second Terroni (the Queen West location). If you want a funky casual place with great food (best pizza in the city, very authentic Southern Italian thin crust style) and a good, reasonable wine list, there's no better... And you can tromp around on Queen West, which has a number of other good places to check out (other restaurants, non-food retail stores, The Healthy Butcher, delis...).

                            2. For the best alcatra, come to my house.

                              Honestly, roast, specifically an Azorean one, is just not something you see very much at Portuguese places. Maybe as a special.. maybe.. but it's pretty rare.

                              Some of the best Portuguese restaurants were mentioned already above. And they're a bit of a trek from your hotel. The closest Portuguese to you would be Churrasco of St. Lawrence.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: NovoCuisine

                                NovoCuisine, can I take you up on your offer? :-)
                                Husband comes back pooped every evening, so long treks are out unfortunately, although I am still planning on Kalendar, come hell or high water.
                                Anyway, I wondered if you'd care to share your alcatra recipe so I could try to recreate it when I get back home? I lived in the Azores for some years, about 10 years ago, and miss the winey alcatras. Have the earthenware alcatra baking dish but no recipe! Thanks,

                                1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                  Hi - Please post any recipes on the Home Cooking board. Thanks!

                              2. If you like JK Wine Bar, then lunch at JK Gardiner (or a Friday night dinner) is another option.

                                For a good Italian espresso, Il Gatto Nero (on College St.) is one of my faves. Excellent range of Portuguese food in that area too (from churrasqueira across the street to Chiado across the street).

                                Also may want to check out Pain Perdu, on St. Clair West if you want to just linger during the day. May fit the bill for the European-style cafe that you're seeking. Excellent quiches, patisserie, croissants, etc. (Note: I don't think they have a liquor license.)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: littlegreenpea

                                  Sorry, I meant that Chiado is down the street (west of Il Gatto Nero).

                                2. GOLDEN THAI
                                  105 Church Street Toronto, ON M5C 2G3
                                  416 868-6668
                                  Seats: 100
                                  Daily Specials
                                  Dinner Suggestions
                                  Hours: Mon - Fri 11:30 am - 10 pm
                                  Sat. 5:00 - 11:00 pm Sun 5:00 - 10:00 pm

                                  I would recommend this restaurant. It has a really nice cozy atmosphere for couples
                                  and the service is great. Lots to choose from their menu too including great food.

                                  Go to www.thairestaurantstoronto.com and check out the "restaurant directory"
                                  tab which lists 19 restaurants including Golden Thai. In particular, Bangkok Garden
                                  would be another restaurant with their authentic Thai food and large selection of International beer. You can also check out their website www.bangkokgarden.ca

                                  Enjoy,
                                  Passionate1

                                  1. Hi,

                                    Have you heard of Le Marche Movenpick? I would suggest this place for a truly
                                    unique experience. Here is their website: www.richtree.ca

                                    Le Marche Movenpick
                                    181 Bay St.(BCE Place
                                    )Toronto, ON
                                    M5J 2T3

                                    Telephone:
                                    416-863-0108

                                    Hours:
                                    Mon - Fri - 6:30am to 6:00pm
                                    Sat - Closed
                                    Sun - Closed

                                    I would recommend this place out of all the locations as it is the only one of its kind out of all of them. You can choose to sit in any one of the European/French style
                                    rooms or any where else and watch them make your food in front of you at each
                                    "market station". There are different stations from Steak, sausages, cornish hens
                                    to a Pasta station to a Caesar salad station to a Seafood Station to Pizza to French
                                    food to Japanese food. There are amazing desserts of all kinds, whole cakes, and
                                    singe portions and there is even a wine bar and an oyster bar. There is also a
                                    cappucino/coffee station with all kinds of different selection of sugars. This is
                                    truly a different concept and they even have fresh parmesan cheese for your
                                    salad. You can also purchase bottles of wine here and there is a flower shop too.

                                    The only drawback is that they are not open on the weekends as it is in the
                                    bottom of a beautiful office tower.

                                    Lastly, beside this so-called restaurant(no waiters), there is a magazine store with
                                    many many magazines. Hope you get a chance to go during the week.

                                    Enjoy,
                                    Passionate1

                                    1. Correction -- Le Marche Movenpick I was talking about is this address:

                                      42 Yonge St.
                                      Toronto, ON
                                      M5E 1T1

                                      Telephone:
                                      416-366-8986

                                      Hours:
                                      Every day of the year
                                      Mon - Thurs - 7:30am to 12:00am
                                      Fri & Sat - 7:30am to 2:00am
                                      Sun - 7:30am to 12:00am

                                      And notice that they are open on the weekends. Please ignore the other address.
                                      (181 Bay St.)

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: passionate1

                                        Richtree? REALLY? i would say that its an interesting experience, with the marketplace setting and all that but i've always found the food to be very mediocre and nothing exciting. it's def not something i would recommend to someone coming out of town when there are so many other exciting places to eat.

                                        1. re: passionate1

                                          I agree with most of the reccomendations in this thread, especially Chiado. Chiado is expensive, but well worth it for Portugese fine dining. There is a less expensive, tapas style menu in the attached bar area called Senhor Antonio(sp?).
                                          I would not reccomend Marche Movenpick though. The food is sub-par and if you only have a few days in Toronto there are many better places to explore.

                                          1. re: passionate1

                                            i would never send someone to richtree marche if they wanted something exciting and AUTHENTIC. maybe if they were toting a bunch of whiny kids or hard-to-please teenagers, and were made of money. but no, no, no to Marche!

                                            1. re: LemonLauren

                                              Actually, if you just want coffee and dessert, it's not a bad choice. Agree the mains don't deserve much attention. Pick up some reading material at the magazine store noted above, sit back, and enjoy the show. It's also worth it just for the stroll through BCE Place, which is one of nicest pieces of architecture in Toronto, IMHO.

                                            2. re: passionate1

                                              PASS on Richtree. There are so many other delicious and unique suggestions on this thread.

                                              Richtree/Marche can be fun but the food isn't great. Desserts hit the spot though. If you were out late in the evening and had a sweet craving and were in the area I'd suggest Richtree... but not really as a destination spot.

                                              Plus the service charge included in the bill always angers me.

                                              WON
                                              http://whatsonmyplate.wordpress.com

                                              1. re: wontonfm

                                                Richtree is not good in Canada. The fake ambience seems great, but a cursory inspection reveals it to be of the canned variety, with poor and rushed servers who dont know very much about what they are peddling, and badly organised stores. However, Marche franchises abroad are usually very well done, and I would not hesitate to eat there.
                                                talking about service charge - can anybody tell me about tipping in restaurants/cafes here? How much, is it mandatory, etc?

                                                1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                                  Tipping is not mandatory, per se, but is expected, as servers here are paid less than $3/hr. There is no "standard", but for basic service, 15% of the pre-tax bill is generally considered the minimum. Some people (myself included) tend to tip on the post-tax amount. For good service, I'll generally tip 20% on the post-tax amount. Extraordinary service gets more (but is rare in Toronto!).

                                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                                    Little off topic, but servers in Ontario are actually paid almost $7. My understanding of Richtree is that they tack on a 15% service charge (for standing in line and getting your own food)

                                                    1. re: camp1980

                                                      Thanks, camp1980, for the clarification. Shows you how long it's been since I've been a server! :)

                                            3. I am new to chowhound so I hope that I don’t offend anyone, but I would say that with the exception of the 7West café, I do not think that any of the suggestions are close to your hotel; that is within a 10 minute walk and with this weather, you may not feel like hiking about. There are a lot of good suggestions a short taxi ride away, but any place on Dixon Road or in Thornhill is too far.

                                              The Jamie Kennedy suggestions are great. If you are sight seeing on your own, I suggest having lunch at his restaurant in the Gardiner Museum.

                                              http://www.gardinermuseum.on.ca/

                                              If you like museums, the newly renovated ROM is across the street and the Bata Shoe Museum a subway stop away. It is more interesting than you might think! You are also on Bloor Street, the location of some $$$$$ clothes shopping and near to Yorkville, where you will find Dinah’s Cupboard on Cumberland Street. She has spices by the ounce, lots of teas and coffees, condiments and all sorts of other goodies. Its not what I would call a good place to linger over coffee - but she does have really great take out coffee and food. Around the corner on Bay is Pusateris, another gourmet grocery.

                                              http://www.pusateris.com/index2.htm

                                              Another good place for lunch in this neighbourhood is the restaurant in the Holt Renfrew department store on Bloor Street. There also is a café in the lower level but the stools don’t make for long lingers.

                                              If you would like to check out a pub, Allens on the Bloor/Danforth subway at Broadview Station has better than average pub food and a big selection of ales etc. With next week being St Patrick’s Day, it will also be lively.

                                              http://allens.to/

                                              Just east from Allens on the Danforth is Greektown and there are lots of restaurants. My favourite is Christina’s; sometimes they have belly dancing.

                                              http://www.christinas.ca/

                                              One of the good things about your hotel location is if you would like to take a streetcar ride, also known (sometimes sarcastically) as the Red Rocket, it can lead to good eating. 10 minutes west to Spadina on the Carlton/College line takes you to Chinatown and a few steps from the often mentioned Kensington Market; further west is Little Italy. If you go about 25 minutes east you are in Little India if you like Indian food.

                                              I don’t think that there is a lot of what most would consider to be good restaurants near your hotel. Byzantium at Church and Wellesley is very nice though. Be advised that it is in the gay village, but it has a diverse clientele and neither I nor my friends have ever felt unwelcome or out of place when eating there. The dining room is pleasant, the food is good and they never rush you . Frommer’s review from the New York Times

                                              “An attractive but low-key bar-restaurant, Byzantium attracts an affable gay and straight crowd. The cocktails are both excellent and reasonably priced (try either the Red Velvet or the Black Orchid -- they are as delicious as the names are dramatic). You can follow drinks with dinner in the adjacent dining room, where the cooking is top-notch.”

                                              As for coffee the Coffee Mill is wonderful; it is a bit hidden away in a passage between Cumberland and Yorkville and there are others around, but like most other places there is always Starbucks. The one in the Beaches at Bellefair, should you decide to come that far east on Queen Street is quite comfy with several big chairs and couches.

                                              From my travel experience, I always have lists of places but for some reason things quite often don’t work out and I just stumble into places which for the most part seems to have worked quite well. Most of Toronto’s good restaurants are found in neighbourhoods rather than in the downtown business/retail core. You can always go to someplace like Queen Street East, between Broadview and Greenwood (Joy or Edward Levesque) or Queen Street W. (west of University, east of Bathurst) and check places out. They probably will not be extra- ordinary, but then not all that bad either. On Queen West I like the Queen Mother, but it might be considered a bit funky. Le Select is a couple of blocks south on Wellington Street and does have an old world charm. If you get stuck, you can check out Toronto Life magazine or it’s restaurant guide. The reviews for the most part will not be too out of line. And if you have buckets of money you should at least read the reviews and consider going to Susur, Senses, Splendido, Theut, or Scaramouche (perhaps the pasta bar).....

                                              http://www.torontolife.com/guide/rest...

                                              So have fun and wear boots.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Janetf

                                                Hey Janetf, I loved your suggestions and the way you carefully considered my location and explained how to get from one point to another!
                                                I had no idea I was so close to the Gardiner Museum, and that there was a JK there, and will be heading there today for lunch and browsing at Dinahs and other nearby stores and museums. Pusateri's totally rocks, among other things I got their freshly pressed before my eyes OJ and I had been planning on heading out to Phipps but found their cakes here, yum!
                                                Am working my way down your list, thanks again!

                                              2. again... getting lazy but for the beer/wine rec for your husband i would suggest bar volo http://www.barvolo.com/ which is seconds from 7 West so you could essentially separate and meet up if you wanted. on a personal note though, i think 7 West is horrendous and for the late night crowd simply because we don't have anything open past 11pm often!

                                                starfish would be perfect for your seafood needs though they do tend to specialize more in the oyster category but have delicious cooked fish items. you'll find better service at the bar though sometimes it's nice to slink down into their booths.

                                                mengrai thai is getting the buzz on the board but i've found real thailand at bloor/spadina to certainly suffice quite well. otherwise you might be quite disappointed at our thai options. just search previous threads and you'll read many ch rants.

                                                jkwb would be most ideal for your modern western food except that i consider it rather like comfort food at times. the focus is local organic though there might be some small moments of straying. beware of salt overloads and keep a carafe of water nearby. love the atmosphere and open kitchen bar style they've got going on. it's like a friends home that i just love to lounge in.

                                                1. Thank you everybody for your very kind help! I am packed and ready to leave for Toronto. Have made sure I have my fat pants! I am soo looking forward to this, and hope to post my experiences when I get back.

                                                  1. Been here for 24 hrs and having a blast, tks to you guys! Now for some food reporting:
                                                    One nondescript dinner at a (new?) thai place on Yonge close to our hotel. Papaya has quite good green shrimp curry but godawful pad thai and coffee. Slow service, a couple of very young (self-taught?) waitresses. What a waste of a dining experience!

                                                    Saturday morning we headed off to B Espresso Bar, which was great. Good coffee, not as good hot chocolate, great sandwiches, newspapers, relaxed atmosphere. Loved it, could feel myself mellowing... apparently they are slow on weekends, and open until midnight on thursdays, so will be checking it out again. Excellent suggestion, thank you!

                                                    Then off to SLM. Loved it! Yes, it was saturday noon-ish, but it had a great vibe.The fresh fruit 'n veg section seemed a little big on enthusiasm but not as energetic as expected. I guess there is only so much you can do with carrots, spuds and parsnips! Coming from the tropics, I find myself constantly dehydrated by the central heating everywhere and this section had very little by way of good drink options. There is a vendor selling sour cherry juice, stay clear of it!
                                                    The other section (fish, meat, crafts etc) was just what I needed, I certainly got my fix here from the sights, sounds, samples, smells... Bought my maple syrup from the guy on the pavement somebody mentioned, bought forbidden and other rices, lovely honeys and a whole slew of other gourmet goodies to be savoured when we get back back home. Unfortunately our hotel room had no minibar/fridge, so I could not pick up as much cheese and fruit to indulge in while here. This is now remedied (hotel has put in a mini-fridge) and I will return and stock up on parma, sausages and other perishable goodies to take back with me. Had tremendous fun here, great suggestion!

                                                    Question: I have been hoping to find fantastic fresh local apples, perhaps even heritage varieties, but nothing so far. I know we are at the end of the apple season, but still?

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                                      I just realized that no one has recommended the Distillery District to you yet. It's a great place to spend an afternoon wandering the shops (don't miss the Sandra Ainsley Gallery for mind-boggling art glass displays). For a break, stop in at Balzac's for a coffee and go upstairs to the loft and put your feet up and read the paper. If you're looking for great hot chocolate, go to Soma around the corner and have their Mayan hot chocolate. Amazing stuff, either as a shot (incredibly intense) or mixed with steamed milk or water. And for amazing sandwiches and baked goods, stop in to Brick Street Bakery. And if you are a beer fan, stop in at the Mill St. Brewery and get free samples of a few of their beers.

                                                      Not sure about the local apples, it is nearing the end of the season, and many of the true local heritage varieties are not the kind that will last indefinitely. I would check Pusateri's downtown or Whole Foods. But hopefully someone else can chime in with a good recommendation.

                                                      1. re: TorontoJo

                                                        It'll be pretty much impossible to find heritage apples right now since they aren't in season, and as TorontoJo mentions, they wouldn't be the type of apple that would last indefinitely.

                                                        Ontario apples are harvested in September and October, so none of them are going to be "fresh" in March, and many types of apples are past their prime this time of year. Some Ontario-grown "mainstream" varieties of apples (such as MacIntosh, Golden Delicious, Mutsu, etc) are available yearround at many grocery stores, but in my experience they tend to be a little soft/mealy this time of year, although they are fine for cooking. Ontario apples are often found in a clear 5 lb or 10 lb bag that's labelled with Foodland Ontario and the variety of apples. Sometimes the bags of Ontario grown apples are not found in the same part of the produce section as the loose apples. I would just ask someone working in produce if you're having trouble finding the apples.

                                                        That being said, Harvest Wagon at 1103 Yonge is probably Toronto's best (but also most expensive) shop for fruits and vegetables. If you are looking for heritage produce or unusual varieties, that is a good place to start.

                                                        http://www.harvestwagon.com/home.htm

                                                        1. re: phoenikia

                                                          . . .

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                                                          Harvest Wagon
                                                          1103 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W, CA

                                                          1. re: phoenikia

                                                            It's precisely because Mutzu, GD, MacIntosh etc are available all over the globe, identical in all their plastical perfection that I crusade for locally grown foods wherever I go. Did you know that a survey undertaken by apple farmers among school kids in Denmark some years ago revealed that the only apple they knew was the ubiquitous GD. They had never even tasted Granny Smith or Cox Orange, not to mention heritage varieties!
                                                            I do realise this is the very end of the apple season.. just thought I'd ask. Mmm, the fantasy of a new apple variety... am heading to harvest Wagon and Fiesta Farms this morning.

                                                        2. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                                          This is very much outside of the areas recommended to you so far, but Fiesta Farms, which is an independent grocer that focuses on local food, had a number of local/heritage type apples when I was there yesterday. They actually were having a demonstration from an apple grower's association. It is located on Christie, north of Bloor Street. An added incentive to make the trip is that it is just north of Little Korea, which has a number of korean places (including walnut cakes... yum), and a good korean/asian grocery.

                                                          1. re: Minnow

                                                            . . . .

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                                                            Fiesta Farms
                                                            200 Christie St, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                                                            1. re: Minnow

                                                              I was also there yesterday. The samples were excellent - but not all the display items were consistent. For example the demonstration Empires were great - but the display versions were mealy.
                                                              But indeed they did have at least 1 variety I'd never seen before (whose name I can't recall).

                                                            2. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                                              NEVER ON SUNDAY OR A MONDAY
                                                              If you are planning to go back to the St. Lawrence Market just don't plan to return on a MONDAY They're CLOSED

                                                              If your interested
                                                              "Rodney's Oyster Bar" might delight your fancy.at 469 King Street West (Back Patio).Always fresh as they get them from their own oyster beds. Stick to the fresh shucked oysters or clam chowders.

                                                            3. Mmmmm to all of the above! Oh, the choices, the choices!

                                                              Another question: where can I have a good afternoon tea experience? Choice of teas, savoury and sweet foods, cozy, good service, and a fireplace would be fab!

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                                                There's the Red Tea Box on Queen W. Not sure about the fireplace or food selection though, as I haven't been in a while.

                                                                1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                                                  Good traditional afternoon teas served at Epic in the Royal York Hotel and at the King Eddie Hotel
                                                                  http://www.epicrestaurant.ca
                                                                  http://www.starwoodhotels.com/lemerid...

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                                                                  King Edward Hotel
                                                                  37 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

                                                                  Epic
                                                                  100 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J1E4, CA

                                                                  1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                                                    Hi there! I definitely suggest The Windsor Arms hotel for afternoon tea. I went there with my mom a while back and the room was lovely, the food delicious and the service was impeccable. Best experience I've had in the city for sure!

                                                                  2. Oh, and I had better report back on another of the recommendations above: The Coffee Mill.
                                                                    This place seems to have been a cultural institution in Toronto but is today located in a small mall. It just wasn't what I was looking for. Sturdy cafe chairs, classical music, lots of framed photographs but not much ambience. The coffee is just coffee, the hot chocolate is okay. I asked for no whipped cream and was given a blob of milk froth on mine for decor, which was nice. We decided to order the goulash soup and a wiener schnitzel. The soup was decent, with bits of tomato, celery, small dumplings, hunks of pork. The schnitzel was deepfried!!!! and served with very sour sauerkraut and some generic mashed potatoes. Decided not to order the palascinta after that.
                                                                    Being waited on by grandmotherly women with bouffant hair was quite profoundly unsettling somehow. I'm still not quite sure why, but it made me very uncomfortable for some reason.

                                                                    It was fun though to watch the middle-european families come in for lunch, all 2-3 generations of them, obviously regulars. And visitors from central europe would probably love to visit it to see how immigrants from there and foods have evolved.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: HaveSpoonWillCook

                                                                      So nice to hear you're having a good time here in T.O. I would definitely agree that Windsor Arms is the place for high tea, and it's so close to your hotel. I would also agree that you should check out Harvest Wagon for the apples, and they have such a great selection of other fruit and veggies. There is also a cheese shop, and the summerhill LCBO someone else mentioned above. For great pizzas, panini's, soups and salads you can go across the street to Caffe Doria. Excellent thin crust style and really nice vibe. They also do really nice lattes. I've just given you our weekend ritual, minus the high tea. Enjoy!!

                                                                    2. Cafe Nervosa for a late lunch was excellent. Quiet, very diverse clientele (mom with three kids, japanese couple, gaggle of biz men, 3 generations of women... loved the vibe, the light pizza crust, the friendly efficient service. Somebody mentioned that the pizzas are innovative, not so, but still good.
                                                                      Had a laugh when leaving, one of the waiters was eating something very interesting, and it certainly had not been on the menu, so I stopped and inquired. Turns out the poor man needed a break from the italian food at work and at home, and had asked the cook to whip up something asian for him! I can imagine the cafe is a really cool place to hang out during summer, when all the windows are open!
                                                                      Mortons was fab. We ordered food in the bar, not just the bar snacks, makes for a more casual meal. Friendly and professional bartender keeps the conversation and drinks flowing perfectly.
                                                                      I am enjoying TO! Have not seen much, but what the heck. I live to eat!