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Something different downtown AND a deli

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foodiesnorth Mar 13, 2008 07:24 PM

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!

  1. e
    embee Mar 13, 2008 07:58 PM

    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. d
      dragonflygrl Mar 13, 2008 08:05 PM

      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
        d
        dragonflygrl Mar 13, 2008 08:13 PM

        link.

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

        1. re: dragonflygrl
          f
          foodiesnorth Mar 13, 2008 08:29 PM

          LOL to embee...We are from Edmonton (not Montreal)...but have been to Montreal's Schwartz's.....no 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
            e
            embee Mar 13, 2008 08:50 PM

            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
              grandgourmand Mar 14, 2008 04:34 AM

              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. Rabbit Mar 14, 2008 05:14 AM

        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. t
          tromeo Mar 14, 2008 09:41 AM

          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
            f
            foodiesnorth Mar 14, 2008 05:24 PM

            We hail from Edmonton. We have tried so many odd foods (we even devote nights to "crazy food"...duck 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)

          2. fruglescot Mar 14, 2008 10:59 AM

            HOGTOWN WELCOMES YOU FOODIESNORTH
            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)
            http://www.blackcamel.ca
            416 929-7518
            Great dining in town and enjoy your stay.

            4 Replies
            1. re: fruglescot
              Recyclor Mar 14, 2008 11:17 AM

              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
                jayt90 Mar 14, 2008 12:44 PM

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

              2. re: fruglescot
                TorontoJo Mar 14, 2008 12:08 PM

                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: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/496055

                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
                  pescatarian Mar 14, 2008 12:15 PM

                  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

              3. g
                grilledcheese Mar 14, 2008 11:54 AM

                I would recommend C5 in the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the Royal Ontario Museum.

                It's on the fifth floor of this:
                http://www.rom.on.ca/crystal/index.php

                And it has been getting excellent reviews:
                http://www.torontolife.com/guide/rest...

                The crystal opened last fall and it is one of the city's many new and radical/controversial/beautiful/ugly/interesting pieces of architecture.

                It is right smack in midtown, Avenue Rd & Bloor St.

                As for a deli, we don't really do a good deli here. That's not a Toronto thing. It's more of a pub town.

                7 Replies
                1. re: grilledcheese
                  fruglescot Mar 14, 2008 12:36 PM

                  DOUBLE TEAMING
                  Well, grilled cheese and pescatarian upon reconsideration I suppose I agree with you about the revised and renamed Richtree selection. It is heavy on gimmick, novelty and decor and the young woman is described as a foodie sophisticate. I suppose I should be grateful that you didn't trash my "Black Camel" suggestion.as well. Does that mean it meets your approval?

                  1. re: fruglescot
                    pescatarian Mar 14, 2008 12:47 PM

                    I have never been to Black Camel for deli, so I can't comment on that - but if I want jewish deli like I grew up with (in Toronto and without going into what that means about me account for good deli which I believe is pretty good), I go to Centre Street or Pancers.

                    1. re: fruglescot
                      jayt90 Mar 14, 2008 12:50 PM

                      Does the Black Camel have good pulled pork? Every time a BBQ opens it gets trashed by the Hound!
                      edit to ad: I checked the reviews, and it seems as if the preference is for brisket, then pork, and finally chicken. Many think the BBQ sauce is too sweet, like most commercial sauces. I wonder if they make their own. I guess 'll have to visit.
                      http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

                      1. re: jayt90
                        TorontoJo Mar 14, 2008 12:52 PM

                        Black Camel isn't a BBQ joint, it's an upscale sandwich shop. Very tasty sandwiches, a tad on the pricey side, but still yummy.

                        1. re: TorontoJo
                          grandgourmand Mar 14, 2008 01:16 PM

                          The black camel's pulled pork is not that great. I think too sweet. And the texture is more like meat you'd pull out of a slow cooker.

                      2. re: fruglescot
                        g
                        grilledcheese Mar 15, 2008 12:09 AM

                        I did not comment on your post.

                        1. re: grilledcheese
                          fruglescot Mar 15, 2008 02:14 AM

                          AN INNOCENT BYSTANDER
                          You're of course correct, grilled cheese. My apologies. It's toward Toronto Jo that I should have directed my comment. I wont be too hard on him since he did, actually, endorse my Black Camel suggestion.The man does know where to go for a tasty beef sandwich

                    2. f
                      foodiesnorth Mar 14, 2008 05:25 PM

                      My heartfelt thanks to all! I plan to go over all suggestions with my daughter.

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