Hot Pot - Danforth Mini Review
This is for the Hot Pot, Moroccan cafe on Danforth between Greenwood and Coxwell. Sorry, don't have an exact street number.
Went on the weekend. Lovely decor inside, especially in the back with the special group tent.
They have a regular menu on the wall and a small chalkboard with what is available on the day.
Had a tajine with kofteh (kefteh?) which were basically little formed balls of ground beef. Simple presentation in a small tajine with a nice tomato-based gravy, sweet peppers, zucchini, and tomato slices. Flavouring was good, a bit of onion in the meat, not very spicy at all, salted just nicely. Came with several slices of a serviceable baguette loaf to help sop up the gravy. I'm not a Moroccan cuisine expert, but I would order this again, especially on a cold day.
Had two cafe au laits, nice and tasty, and a pastry with pistachio filling for dessert. It tasted a bit like rose water was involved in its preparation. I appreciated the fact that it wasn't super sweet, I usually avoid Western pastries/cakes for that reason.
Bill was $15 including tip, and a very relaxing atmosphere. They have free wi-fi, so I can see spending some more time there with my laptop. Would like to try out their sandwiches and couscous offerings. This isn't a full blown restaurant, but for a cafe serving food, it was pretty darn good.
Finally went by on Friday night to check out if they served Tagines. Met the guy at the counter who said "I'm the menu" when I asked to see one. He told me the "used" to make them on the weekend" but gave me the impression that they don't anymore. Really disappointing, especially considering the entire place is decorated with Tagines. I guess it's just another east Danforth coffee/social club. Bah!!!
Would anyone consider this a family/child friendly establishment? We love Moroccan food but haven't been able to go out for any since we had our kids (both under 5years.)
We live nearby and it would be great if we could bring our kids there (don't worry -- we'd be outta there by 7pm at the latest.)
Based on one (not to be repeated) visit, I'd say no. First of all, there really is no food, Moroccan or otherwise. It is neither child friendly nor unescorted woman friendly. They permit smoking.
I'd suggest that you try Djerba la Douce (south side, somewhat to the east). While it isn't strictly Moroccan (they describe themselves as Tunisian/French/Italian/Moroccan fusion, whatever that is), they are definitely family friendly and the food is good (though some of it is extremely rich). Note that they are halal and unlicensed.
I went to HOT POT when it first opened and the decor was really interesting and the food WAS great. It's great that you did a review when it first opened. Now with the new owner, I think a new review is in order. They don't serve food anymore. Just coffee, mint tea and some sweets. The main reason to go to this place is to smoke shisha and chat with friends. It's more like a men's social club now. Maybe during the day it's more open and friendly but at night when I drive by... I see guys hanging out in front... not so friendly for a single girl out looking for coffee.
Yeah, that stretch of the Danforth has Italian and now Tunisian...all very old boy clubbish. Heck, I'm a boy and I don't want to go into the Italian places so I can empathize. I have to say I've only been to the Hot Pot when it's empty, maybe I would feel the same way if I had gone there when it's full.
Aw heck - I was very keen on this place when I first noticed it a couple of days after it opened. I hope the food returns.
However, I would like to say that I dropped in for a bit of wi-fi last night, and I have to take issue with a tone I hear in the thread - that this place is like some ol-Greek-guy club with blinds or something.
I was left to myself initially - the barkeep only spoke Arabic.
After a bit, the owner showed up, and I was served wonderful mint tea and a biscuit I'm sure I've only ever had in Marrakech.
I don't know about 'men's social club' tho. Yes, it is popular. There are mostly guys doing the shisha (in the back) - and I hate smoking, and I found it actually pleasant. In the front, there is a Danforth-style 'open front' to the street, with ornate seating/pillows. I found it kind of posh and welcoming - a place so visible, open, and attended by very courteous staff ('brother') I would think it as welcoming for a single girl out for coffee as any of a thousand places in Toronto, if not substantially more.
Yes, I'm a guy, but I didn't make any particular connections there with anyone but the owner. no chest-bumps over soccer on the bigscreen or anything. Did I have a certain background anxiety about 'the Other' that we're set up to be anxious about? Sure. But I gave it up an had a nice night out.
Did I mention the Oriental lady who came on shift at 9pm? Or the many younger guys, some with girlfriends... AND the wifi password contains the word 'Fez' - this outfit caters to the predominantly Arabic North - and there will absolutely be the cultural influence of that country. Which is also overrun by Europeans on vacation on a regular basis.
So, with respect, a place to keep an eye on, and not discard - I fervently hope for the return of the food, which made for a warmer, more inclusive environment.
I can't speak for your experience - only for mine. We were led to believe that they had good Moroccan food on weekends. My wife went in while I was parking. She was made to feel extremely unwelcome. She was glowered at and then completely ignored.
When I arrived and sat down at her table, the attitude lightened a bit, but we knew this was not a place where we wanted to stay. Nevertheless, we were hungry, so we tried to order.
The man who came to the table after I sat down was no longer unfriendly. He said that they did not serve food. Indeed, that they had never served food. (I don't know anything about possible ownership changes). When I asked about tajines that people had reported eating there, we were met with a blank stare. He suggested getting some food at a convenience store.
This place certainly isn't Greek. The clientele when we were there consisted of single men and couples, mainly mid eastern and Asian in appearance. The two (male) staffers looked mid eastern. I assume they were from somewhere in north Africa. There were no unaccompanied women, and single women were clearly not welcome, at least on that day. It was moderately busy.
Almost everyone was smoking - many the shisha in the back, but some cigarettes in both back and front. There were cigarette packs on many tables.
This is, indeed, a public restaurant and NOT a private social club, but it is acting like a private club. The smoking is not legal and potential customers who wish to avoid it need to know.
Our experience was that unescorted women were not welcome, and I could not contemplate bringing a child there. It may be very authentic, but potential customers need to know just what this authenticity means.
I'd love to have a Moroccan restaurant in the area, but we would never enter the Hot Pot again without reliable reports of an extreme change in its nature. YMMV.