As I live in the area I'm curious what people think of the stretch of restaurants on Baldwin between Beverley and McCaul. I've tried both John's Italian Cafe and Konichiwa and found them both good. I'm particularly curious about the two Indian places.
Here's my take on the places I've been:
Matahari Grill: Absolutely superb. Probably my favourite restaurant in Toronto. I can't recommend it highly enough, and now that I've moved, I miss it dearly.
Margarita's: Unappealing, poorly done Mexican food. Went once, and would not go back.
Thai Paradise: Decent for mediocre, North Americanized Thai. I used to get takeout from here regularly when I was stuck working late at U of T, as it's fairly cheap and they have a few good dishes on the menu. Overall, though, since Mengrai opened, I've found little reason to return.
John's Italian Cafe: A few okay dishes for extremely North Americanized Italian food (the lasagna and Caesar salad was edible), but some absolutely disgusting offerings as well (the thought of the veal parmigiana still makes me feel slightly nauseated). I suspect the popularity of this place stems almost exclusively from its patio.
Gateways of India: Fantastic. While the service was so-so, I really enjoyed the food here, far more than any of the restaurants on Gerrard E. My favourite Indian that I've had in Toronto.
Jodhpore Grill: I've only been for the lunch buffet. Small number of dishes, but they were all nicely prepared and surprisingly good for buffet offerings.
I also went to the Chinese place on the end (at McCaul), whose name I can't remember. The prices were great, but the food was boring and uninspired. Additionally, they claim to use no MSG, but I'm quite sure that they cook with a lot of Campbell's chicken soup broth, which contains lots of it.
Additionally, while I can't remember the name of the other Japanese restaurant (not Konnichiwa) on Baldwin, but I stopped in there for lunch a couple of times and quite enjoyed it, too.
I really wish that I'd tried Konnichiwa before leaving. Next time I'm in Toronto, I'm going to check it out.
Wah Sing: Best place for Chinese lobster, though the rest of the dishes are overpriced, esp when you consider how little you can pay at any of the other Chinese restaurants nearby. Wait staff are very friendly and helpful.
Fujiyama: decent Japanese & Korean. Huge lunch menu, decently priced. Polite service.
Hana (Korean): decent, great (cheap) lunch specials, always busy then. Good service.
Hwa Sang: Chinese...also famous for their lobster but WS (upstairs) is better.
There's another place upstairs from Hua Sang, also Chinese but not worth it, unless all you want is a cheap lunch.
John's: Never understood why people love it so much.
Sambuca: love it; great lunch menu, service is good, food is fresh. Owner very nice.
Mata Hari: not bad but what's all the fuss about?
Thai Paradise: many noodle dishes way too greasy and overall the food is really nothing to get excited about. The low end of mediocre at best.
Gateway to India: great lunch buffet. Heard Jodhpore is also really good but haven't tried it.
Dim sum is available at the Chinese seafood? resto on the SW corner. Decent.
Margaritas: If you have tons of time to kill and need to eat, this place will do just fine as service is very slow and can be very inattentive. As far as the taste and quality of the food go, don't bother unless you're not finicky about your Mexican food.
Chinese bun place: super-cheap and super-greasy.
Cafe la Gaffe: LOVE IT, esp at lunch (but VERY busy at that time). Service & quality are good, food is very fresh. I especially love their salad with lardons which also comes with warm brie on French bread. YUM.
La Bodega: pretty good. Not a lot of French to be found in this area that I know of but worth a shot.
'Hope that helps.
PS: vorpal you've been to a lot of places there for someone who doesn't live here!
allabouttheCHOW (or anyone else), have you been to Cafe la Gaffe recently? I used to enjoy dining there, but my last experience was utterly horrendous, both in terms of service and food. This was way back in August 2006, and I have never had the urge to return, but I might if people are finding the quality has improved.
For those who enjoy vegan food I had a good meal at the Vegetarian Kitchen once. It is obviously vegan though, so if you don't like that kind of thing you may not like the restaurant. I thought it was better than some of the other options in the city (i.e. Fresh).
I'm a huge La Gaffe fan. rarely had a satisfactory meal there - its usually quite excellent. nothing mind-blowing on their menu, but they do things well and the flavours are quite great.
was last there 2 months ago and it was still up to par. we usually go there every 2 months or so. we love their chevre salad and, while i rarely order pasta at a restaurant, their pesto chicken is excellent.
John's - people go there for the patio. otherwise, nothing else redeeming.
Yung Sing Chinese Pastry - a Toronto institution. if you have a heart condition, do not go there :) the tempura sweet potato and tempura chicken are excellent, as are their buns (bbq pork and curry beef are my faves), sesame balls and egg tarts.
Margaritas - go there ONLY if you want to consume margaritas. they are the sweet, fruity type and are quite good on a hot summer day. the food? ate there once, had the nachos and, well, let's just say that they didn't sit well at all.
other places i've been to - not overly great, although i still haven't tried Matahari (was told its great but slow)
hi basileater: the last couple of times I went were within the past six months. not sure of any changes in ownership or the like but I was happy with the service (I find that when the owner--or one of them? is around, he makes sure things are done right, which is something I really adore about the service: they seem eager to please, which is not terribly common) as well as the food. I was tempted to have lunch there yesterday but I would have arrived just as the last few seats available during lunch would have been filled! :(
My favorite restaurant on the strip is the Eating Garden. Not pricey, decent Cantonese food. And the service is always quick.
I work near this strip and go there fairly often, but have not tried all the restaurants.
I don't remember the names of all the Chinese restaurants, but the first one on the corner is ok. Tastes like Chinese take out. I think the next one is Kowloon dim sum or something like that. They have good rice. The portions are generous and the food is ok. Again, tastes like Chinese take out.
I really do not like John's Italian Cafe. The food is blah and bland, and the service is poor. We waited forever to get our bill, after several requests.
My friends and I love Konichiwa. It's consistent, tasty and the staff are friendly.
Margarita's is not super Mexican food. Also a bit blah. I would recommend sitting upstairs in the summer time with pitchers of sangria.
Thai Paradise is decently tasty.
Gateways of India - lots of variety in the lunch buffet. But it's very mainstream stuff.
Cafe le Gaffe - nice food, the staff are great, the set up in the back is a bit dodgy though
Yung Sing Pastry - nasty, nasty, nasty greasy pastries. can't do it
There is the Japanese restaurant near the Chinese restaurants. Decent lunch specials.
The vegetarian place, don't remember it's name. Really enjoyed the food. I should go back.
The Korean place downstairs - also decent lunch specials. Large portions.
All in all....nice strip for the variety. Most of the food is not spectacular, but good selection for lunch. And the atmosphere during the summer time is great!
I finally got round to trying Gateway To India for a Valentine's dinner last night. We were very impressed. We shared samosas as an appetizer and shared a chicken tikka masala and a chicken vindaloo as the mains along with naan. The samosas were good, if average, but the two mains were fantastic. We were particularly impressed with the vindaloo which, unlike at other places, was not so fiery hot that you couldn't taste the other flavours underneath.
The naan was cheap, tasty and light. For drinks, we each had a mango lasse.
No complaints about the service either, the waiter was there when he needed to be, no more and no less. And unlike in other Indian restaurants I've been to, he wasn't trying to upsell us.
The total, including tax and tip, came to $43. I would definitely go back.
Completely disagree with you cheeser about Yung Sing. That's a sweeping over-generalization you've made. They have a wide variety of dim dum-type offerings and all are not greasy. Some may be more oily than you care for (they have a variey of deep-fried things), but the baked goods are not greasy in my opinion.