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Mar 13, 2008 07:24 PM

Something different downtown AND a deli

I am bringing my daughter (at 13 an experienced foodie in her own right) to Toronto next week on a business trip. We have the long weekend and I want her to have some fun and new experiences. I am looking for two things (as the title suggests). I am looking for an interesting dining experience...something different, odd even. I am also looking for a Schwartz's Deli type experience (ala Montreal) in TO. Ideas? What is the best corned beef joint (with history of course) in Toronto. I prefer downtown as we are staying there, but I will hop a taxi just about anywhere for good food. Hell, for the right place I will rent a car or charter a plane. Price is no object. Thanks!

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  1. I'd forget about the deli. It isn't worth your time on a short visit from Montreal. No Toronto deli is really great, and there isn't a Schwartz experience anywhere in the area.

    If you absolutely must go, avoid the downtown delis altogether. Shopsy's and Dunn's are poor and Mel's is appalling. Further north, Pancer's on Bathurst and Katz's on Dufferin are decent, but you won't suffer from withdrawal when you go home. You want pastrami - not smoked meat - at both. Hand sliced with extra spice at Pancer's; medium with "sauce" at Katz's.

    Centre St in Thornhill has the best smoked meat, but it's just Lester's old fashioned. Centre St is related to Montreal's Deli Snowdon (which is much better). You'll find a mountain of info if you search this board. Sorry I can't be more positive.

    You'll likely get many good suggestions for other genres. We excel with "ethnic" eats in Toronto. You'll find splendid Chinese in the northern suburbs.

    1. For, "different, odd even", you could go to Colborne Lane and introduce your daughter to molecular gastronomy. Be sure to order the liquid nitrogen icecream prepared at the table. It's quite a loungy atmosphere, so early evening might be the best time to go.

      4 Replies
      1. re: dragonflygrl


        Colborne Lane
        45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

        1. re: dragonflygrl

          LOL to embee...We are from Edmonton (not Montreal)...but have been to Montreal's Schwartz' good deli within many miles of our house! We love the idea of molecular gastronomy (mom and I tried without success to get into the Fat Duck-Blumenthal's gastonomica near London - last summer and had some exposure in a private cooking school in Italy - where the chef had trained with chefs at El Bulli in Spain - last year). My daughter, though, has never tried anything of that genre so that will be a must try this trip, thanks dragonflygrl! I assume though that by loungey you don't mean adults only!

          1. re: foodiesnorth

            Whoops. Okay then, the three delis I mentioned are where you go. Mind you, I've heard you can get Nathan's franks and Carnegie pastrami in Alberta, neither of which we have here.

            1. re: embee

              I haven't been, but there are a lot of write-ups on Lai Wah Heen at the Metropolitan Hotel downton. .From what I understand, high end dim sum. It incorporates foie gras, even.

      2. Another vote for Colborne Lane... really interesting eating, but not "smart" at the expense of being delicious. I would not describe it as loungey - people don't go there just to drink - so I wouldn't feel weird about bringing a 13 year old foodie.

        Deli... agree with the other posters that you're not going to find anything with food - and especially character - like Schwartz's or Ben's (RIP). But two suggestions anyhow. The New York Deli at Bay and Bloor has very good food, and it's extremely central if you're at the ROM or in Yorkville sight-seeing. Yitz's on Eglington (west of Yonge) is pretty authentic, and the neighbourhood is good for shopping. Probably the best delis are Bathurst and Lawrence-ish, but I don't have a solid recommendation.

        Kensington/Chinatown might be fun (there are some great little stalls in Kensington doing empanadas/papusas etc., and the Caribbean bakery is one of my favourites... get the really black rum cake!).

        Although it might sound silly, if you're really into food and have a car then a trip to T&T might be entertaining (especially if the weather turns sour). It's worth it just to check out the fish counter - and you could grab lunch there too.

        1. Hi Foodienorth,Where are you coming in from?I would like to make a couple of reccomendations to your odd/different request but knowing where your from might help.As for Deli if you want to check out Katzs deli you can take the subway to Yorkdale mall from downtown and then walk/cab from there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: tromeo

            We hail from Edmonton. We have tried so many odd foods (we even devote nights to "crazy food" tongues and rattle snake anyone as well as medieval nights, ethnic nights and other food them nights)? My wife and I just tried out O'Noir (the dark restaruant) in Montreal and our family lives for fun and interesting food experiences. So, the food and/or the experience can be interesting or odd. T&T is something we have at the, gulp, West Ed Mall. It is one of the few reasons we venture there. Got a whole pig there once - without the middle bits (read: snouts and tails..."crazy food" night item)

            Two suggestions both in the downtown vicinity

            "LA Marche" at BCE Place 42 Yonge St 416 366-8986 for a unique dining experience with great aesthetics for your daughter. Colourful, aroma filled space with serving stations that you visit, have your favourite foods prepared before your eyes and have your passport (bill) stamped. Touristy but definitely fun dining.

            For a unique deli type experience I would recommend "

            "The Black Camel" for an Angus beef "slow roasted" brisket sandwich with a variety of savoury toppings. I like the horseradish. Apparently, the owner says, it's a traditional ancient method of meat preparation from Europe.
            Jump on the Yonge street subway and exit at Rosedale Stn. and follow your nose to
            #4 Crescent Rd (Just outside the subway exit)
            416 929-7518
            Great dining in town and enjoy your stay.

            4 Replies
            1. re: fruglescot

              IMHO...Le Marche is something you would probally find at the west Edmonton mall, for that and the fact you are from Edmonton I'd skip it...

              1. re: Recyclor

                Same for T&T, they are in the mall, and two are in Calgary.

              2. re: fruglescot

                Since your daughter is already a foodie, I would strongly advise against Marche. The food is mediocre at best, you have to serve yourself and then you have to pay a built-in service charge on top of it all. And it ain't cheap for the experience. The best part is the space. BCE place is a beautiful, soaring space, but you can visit that without having to eat at the restaurant. As a side note, the hockey hall of fame is in BCE place.

                ETA: since you're interested in Colborne Lane, you might enjoy reading this recent review:

                There's a link to photos of the food, which should give you a good sense of what you'd be in for. Obviously, you wouldn't have to do a 15-course tasting menu with your daughter!

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  I agree. It's not even Marche anymore really. It's Richtree. And it's nothing special.

                  For something different, if you don't have Korean, I would recommend going to a Korean restaurant in Korea town, on Bloor, west of Christie. I like Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu for the dolsot bi bim bap which comes with all the korean sides.
                  Another option is going to Ethiopian House (Irwin St. near Yonge and Bloor) or Dukem (Danforth and Donlands) for Ethiopian.
                  As for Deli, I am confident that if you are from Edmonton, you will enjoy the deli at Centre Street Deli or Pancers.
                  Neither of the above are fancy but they are different and delicious