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Buffet-style: priced by-the-pound, or fixed container size?

Hey. I’m curious if people have suggestions for places in Toronto (mainly downtown and/or west end) where you get to choose and/or serve your own food, but that are *not* all-you can eat buffets. I’m thinking of stuff like:

- Places where it’s “all you can fit in a container of a fixed size” (eg: the Chinese and Thai places at McCaul market, where you can get all the food you can put in a Sm/Med/Lrg box, for $5/$6/$7)

- Buffet places that charge by weight (like Commensal)

- (To a lesser degree) Places like Zyng on Yonge below bloor, where you can choose as many veggies as you can put in a small bowl, and they cook ‘em up for you.

- Places like those “salad bars” they have all over Manhattan, where you can choose between a million different hot and cold dishes, assemble your meal, and then pay by weight at the cash. I love those, but don’t think I’ve ever seen one in Toronto.

I like being able to get lunch somewhere where choose what I want to eat, but buffets lead to a greater temptation to over-eat, and also tend to not be so cost-effective if you want a smaller meal.

Any suggestions?

(I tried various searches on “buffet” and “salad bar”, but not of them really turned up what I’m looking for)

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  1. Definitely check out Whole Foods at Hazelton Lanes. They have a wide array of salad-bar type options (not just salad though; hot dishes too) which are priced by weight. Or, you can have a three-item meal at a set price (I think $7.99ish but can't remember exactly) with a protein, a starch and a veg. I've found their food to be generally quite tasty. You can take away or eat it at tables they have there. An added bonus is that they're now using biodegradeable containers, so you don't leave with styrofoam guilt.

    3 Replies
    1. re: torontofoodiegirl

      Yes but Whole foods buffet is very pricy.. I had a small conatiner with a piece of chicken some pasta and rice and it was over $10 and it was not even full...

      1. re: torontofoodiegirl

        torontofoodiegirl: Thanks! That's a great idea.

        OnDaGo: Thanks, too, for the warning about price. Money's not my top concern. I'm okay to pay a few bucks extra if it's a nice selection, etc.

        I'll check out Whole Foods for sure.

        1. re: torontofoodiegirl

          I love the WF salad bar, but it's definitely a treat lunch in terms of cost. I like big salads and they often set me back about $12 there.

        2. I also love those kind of places for lunch. My suggetsion is Marcello's (there are two locations on the path - I tend to go to the one at King and University). You can get the most delicious, fresh, hot and cold choices. When you go to the South East corner of King and Uni, go through that glass entrance and down the stairs, and it's right there.

          2 Replies
          1. re: canadianbeaver

            canadianbeaver, I'm going to be around King/University today! I'll check out Marcello's. Thanks!!

            1. re: ManInSuit

              (I went to Marcello's, but I went at 3:00, and they only do the buffet till 2:30. I'll try next time I'm around there).

          2. There's a Brazilian/Portuguese by-weight buffet place called "Kilo Buffet" or something similar on Dundas just east of Dufferin. It opened a couple of weeks ago, and I've never been so I can't vouch for the quality, but it might be worth checking out.

            2 Replies
            1. re: gregclow

              Some quick googling suggests that that's a common thing in brazil, where it's called a "Restaurante por quilo" ("por quilo" = "by the kilogram"). http://gobrazil.about.com/od/fooddrin...

              Who knew?

              1. re: gregclow

                I took a peek in there the other day. It seems to be the usual over-cooked Portugese fare that is prevalent along that Dundas strip. Very small selection too.

              2. There is a Chinese place in the Eaton Centre (I think it's still there?), but I have never been and cannot testify to its quality. And I think the restriction was only on take out because I remember seeing signs saying "You must be able to close the lid!"

                3 Replies
                1. re: Pincus

                  Yeah that's the sort of place (well, one of a couple sort of places) I'm looking for. I've been around the Eaton Ctr a bit, and don't recall every noticing this place. Can anyone out there confirm? Share details?

                  1. re: ManInSuit

                    There is one such place at the St. Clair subway, north exit, under the Ziggy's. About 4 kinds of starches like fried rice and Singapore noodles, 2 veggies, 4 meats like General Tso chicken and oyster beef, and some other stuff like chicken wings and spring rolls. Small container (about 4" x 8") is around $6.

                  2. re: Pincus

                    That Chinese place isn't there anymore.

                  3. Most 'Kitchen Table's' have by-the-weight DIY salad and hot food bars. The food is nothing spectacular, but some of the KT's have quite a bit of variety.

                    There's also a grocery store on Woodbine north of Steeles that had a huge DIY salad bar by weight, but i can't remember the name.

                    Kama Kama Indian Resto on King had a dinner buffet to-go option (at least they did a year ago). They give you a box and you fill it yourself from the buffet. You can easily feed 2 people with one box!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Sinfulia

                      >There's also a grocery store on Woodbine north of Steeles that had a huge DIY salad bar by >weight, but i can't remember the name.


                      1. re: Pincus

                        Good to know about the Kitchen Tables. I don't think I've ever been to one, but apparently they're all over Toronto ( http://www.thekitchentable.ca/ ) Good to know about Kama Kama, too. "huge DIY salad bar" sounds perfect, but Woodbine north of Steeles is too far to go for lunch. :)

                        1. re: ManInSuit

                          Le Commensal on Elm St for vegetarian/vegan buffet meal. The shepperd's pie is delicious but they don't have it on the buffet too often.

                          1. re: ManInSuit

                            The Kitchen Table that does that sort of buffet is in First Canadian Place, but I find it really expensive and the food mediocre. And they serve the same thing everyday, and until 5, so they do tend to reuse (i.e. put out the stuff from the day before). It's kind of gross, IMO.

                      2. Try out Longo's salad bar in the PATH under BCE Place at Wellington and Bay...good and fresh and lots of variety

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: tochowchick

                          Great! I had no idea there were all these market salad bars hidden in the PATH: Longo's, Marcello's, the Kitchen Table... Good to know! I

                          1. re: ManInSuit

                            Just a note...because I love these things so much/work in the area...the Longo's one is good, but keep in mind there's nothing hot and that the cold stuff tends to be tasteless. It is really impressive when you get there, you'll get excited...really great looking...and I've been there about 10 times because I just WANTED it to be amazing. Because it looked so amazing! But I found the food blah for the price (most expensive of all three places). However, it's not a bad choice by any means. I would say Marcello's first because they have hot stuff too (like hot pastas, chicken, meatballs, vegetables, stews), then Longo's because they have healthy choices (fruit, seafood, nuts) and then Kitchen Table because you are desperate. :)

                            1. re: canadianbeaver

                              Longo's does have a hot food buffet (it's to the left of where the cold buffet line starts) - usually they have things brisket, salmon, veggies, rice, roast chicken, pasta, potatoes. I usually get a piece of salmon and then go over to the salad bar. I really like their spinach salad with mandarins, cranberries and apples.

                              1. re: midtowngirl

                                But you can't serve yourself, can you? It's priced the same as the cold?

                                1. re: canadianbeaver

                                  Yeah, at the BCE (Brookfield/Oxford..gah!) Longo's you can serve yourself. Dunno how much you're looking to spend, but you can easily go over ten bucks without trying. The fatty chunks of brisket is the best thing there. I don't find most of it that appealing though.

                                  If someone is looking for best value, the Kitchen Table offers a rotisserie chicken leg and thigh for $1.49. Pair that with an Ace demi-baguette sitting next to the meats and you've got the base of a tasty lunch. Also, that Longo's marks down their soups to a toonie or occasionally a loonie after 7pm.

                        2. Lots of great suggestions. Here's an attempt to sumarize all the places from the thread so far:

                          - Whole Foods
                          - Marcello’s
                          - Longo’s
                          - Kitchen Table

                          - Brazilian/Portuguese place called "Kilo Buffet" @ Dundas & Dufferin
                          - Chinese place in the Eaton Centre (No longer)
                          - Chinese places at the St. Clair subway, north exit, under the Ziggy's
                          - A few places at St. Patrick Market (Chinese & Thai)
                          - Le Commensal on Elm St

                          Any others?

                          1. Yes I am 3 years late to this discussion but...

                            Any indian restaurant that does a lunch buffet will allow you to take a 'buffet to go' option.

                            They give you 1 container for dishes, a foil pack of naan, and a small container for dessert. Depending on the restaurant, the size of the container varies (Little India on Queen has the large ones, Mt Everest on Bloor has small ones...the rest I never go to becuase they suck).

                            Also, Woo chinese on the 5th floor of the AMC theatre building (yonge-dundas, north-east corner) has the same deal.

                            The chinese place in st.clair centre is still there.
                            Whole foods is one of the better options, pricey but cutting down the down is as easy as:
                            - take your own dressing
                            - don't take gravy (there'll be plenty anyway)
                            - sample it before you buy it, their hot dishes are a hit and miss
                            - buy a piece of fruit rather than take from the bar

                            Mt Everest Restaurant
                            469 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S1X9, CA

                            1. There's this place on the top floor of Cumberland terrace, near the salad and soup place, and these Korean ladies cook a whole bunch of wonderful Korean dishes. You pay for the container, and then you fill it up.

                              I'm so sorry, but I can't remember the name of the place.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: focioncroci

                                I think it's called something like "Spring Garden".