Cuisine and Cohen
Greetings to Toronto's Chow Hounds: My wife and I are U.S. Floridians who will be visiting your wonderful city 6/6-6/9/08, principally to lovingly witness Leonard Cohen's concert at the Sony-Hummingbird Ctr. Hallelujah...we are eagerly Waiting for this Miracle to Come. As devoted Chow Hounds, we have long appreciated the local knowledge and objective information available on these Boards, and thus seek your expert input to guide our culinary and nutritional explorations during this upcoming trip. We arrive at our hotel (Suites at 1 King W) approx. 7 pm Friday. Concert at 8 pm Saturday. Sunday is a "free-day". Departure Monday a.m. We would deeply appreciate your advice on Friday dinner (e.g. Bier Bistro or other followed by a late E.D. comedy show?), Saturday breakfast and morning/early afternoon activities (food-focused, of course...e.g. St. Lawrence and/or Kensington Markets?), Saturday pre-concert dinner (Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar or other ?), food supplies for a Sunday bike-ride & picnic at Toronto Islands, and Sunday dinner (Zucca?). We have some bias for less casual settings for this trip and thus tend to steer away from your steller upscale destinations such as Splendido; however, we could be convinced to go to a more formal place for Sunday dinner since we will have more time that day. We will be grateful for any info on restaurant logistics such as reservation needs, wait and travel times, etc., and any other details for gastronomic enhancement and take-home treasures. Thanks for your indulgence of this long post and your kind assistance.
"...and she feeds me tea and oranges that come all the way from China...."
One thing you should do for sure is Jamie Kennedy's before your Sat show. It's walking distance from the King Eddie and, although it gets very busy and there is always a waiting time in the evening (if you have to wait, they suggest you go to the Keg across the road and have a drink while you are waiting and then they call you on your cell phone) but it shouldn't be that bad if you arrive early enough before the show on Sat. Sat is a good day to go because you have to get out of the restaurant early anyway. They don't take reservations except for the dining room, but I think the first room you walk into, the main room with the long bars on each side with seats, is the best place to be. I'd go there no later than 5:45pm just to be safe. Maybe even call them to ask them what they think
The food is an incredible culinary experience. And, my favourite place to sit is on the left side in front of the open kitchen because then you can also watch the food be made and ask the very friendly chefs all sorts of interesting questions about the food they are preparing for you and for others you don't even know. If you are into wine, ask them to serve you the small glass of each wine that they have suggested be paired with each menu item rather than getting the same wine for the whole meal. The menu items change every day and are served in the tapas format (small portions on separate plates that are delivered as soon as they are ready) but 2 must-haves that are on the menu every time is the fries (yes fries! - share them, you'll love them) and the artisinal cheeses for dessert.
After your done it's about a 5 minute walk to the Hummingbird.
Enjoy and post your experience on here when you have been there and remember to take the menu with you when you leave (it's printed on paper and they don't mind).
Great advice on JK Wine Bar. I would just amend "fries" in favour of "poutine", which (at JKWB) is fries with some sort of cheese, some sort of meat, doused in a gravy. E.g. fries with braised short rib, smoked gruyere and a beef demi-glace. Decadent and delicious.
Beer bistro is a good choice for your Friday night, as it's very close to your hotel (ask for a room with a lake view).
For Saturday morning, I would recommend hopping into a cab, or taking the Queen St. streetcar East and having an early breakfast at Bonjour Brioche. It gets knocked on this board for the service, but I love the food and the very casual ambiance. It's very French (which may explain the service!) and it's one of my favourite breakfast spots in the city. Note: cash only! After breakfast, head to the St. Lawrence Market and shop for your Sunday picnic supplies. You will find all the produce, meats, cheeses, breads and condiments you could want there. Since your hotel has a fridge in the room, you'll have no problem keeping the food for a day. And please note the the Market is closed on Sunday, so you really need to hit it on Saturday. Plus Saturday is also the Farmer's Market in the North Building, which will have all sorts of wonderful things in June. If you are early risers, you could hit the SLM before breakfast -- they open at 5 am.
Sunday dinner can be a challenge because so many restaurants are closed. I need to check a few before recommending any!
Niagara Street Cafe is a good option for Sunday dinner -
Or, if your Sunday picnic gets rained out, consider Niagara Street Cafe for brunch. The Gallery Grill is also great for Sunday brunch -
Niagara Street Cafe
169 Niagara St, Toronto, ON M5V1C9, CA
7 Hart House Cir, Toronto, ON M5S, CA
For breakfast saturday, walk to the St. Lawrence Market, a true wonder, and a Toronto Gem, not to be missed. You can sample, and have peameal bacon sandwiches while you walk around.
Thanks to all for your generous and helpful replies! We hope to return the favor if you ever come to the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
Bonjour Brioche is just what we we are looking for to begin our day on Saturday. Following that, we will visit the Kensington and St. Lawrence Markets to stock up with foodie staples and souviners.
Special thanks for the tip on Naigara Street Cafe! This gem had escaped our notice in prior research and looks perfect for our Sunday dinner. (I would also favor Starfish but my wife does not "do oysters").
Thanks again for your Torontonian Hospitality!
One naive question: what is "peameal bacon"? I could return the favor of your explanation by discussing "grits", but I'm sure you know what that (those) is/are.
Actually, it is NOT the same as what is known in the US as Canadian bacon. It is a cured pork loin, rolled in cornmeal, and sliced and fried. "Canadian bacon" is cured and smoked, and known north of the border as back bacon. This is apparently a common misconception, because I've heard many Ontarians rant about their disappointment when they order Canadian bacon, thinking they're going to get peameal.
Brysburg, it's definitely a distinctively Ontario food, and it's quite tasty. You should try it while you're here. I agree with sloweater - if you're planning on a visit to St. Lawrence Market, it's something you should do while you're there.
Bonjour Brioche is a great idea. Instead of taking a cab, walk up one major intersection north of the King Eddie and then take the Queen St Streecar at 812 Queen St East. It's a much better way of getting a feel for the city than from a cab. I think you get off at the stop after Broadview (have exact change and I think it's $2.75 per person). It will take no more than 15-20 min total to get there from the King Eddie, if that. Then when you return, if you like walking, take the same Queen St Car east past where you got on to Bathurst St and then walk back west over to Yonge St (along Queen St) and look at all the little bohemian shops and upscale ones. have a coffee in a cafe along the way. When you get to past University Ave take a peek into Osgoode Hall (the big old building on the North side with the iron fence) and go inside the building if it's open to see a fine example of Old Toronto architecture. Continue from Osgoode Hall west into City Hall Square to marvel at a building that looks modern today, yet was built in the 60's. Just beside that, west of City Hall is Old City Hall, and then the next building west is our Eaton Centre Galleria Shopping Mall which, even if you are not into shopping, is worth taking a look at just to see the beautiful overhead Galleria Skylight.
Also, I do believe Jamie Kennedy takes limited reservations but I think it is only for the dining room, not the main bar/open kitchen area which you see when you just walk in.
Thanks for the detailed advice, Flex. Everyone has been very helpful. The American version of "Canadian bacon" bears little resemblance to your lucious Peameal Bacon. I can only imagine a Torontonian's dismay upon ordering Canadian bacon and being served a thin, dry disk of ham here in Florida!