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Three new openings at Yonge & Lawrence--anyone been?

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  • illy May 15, 2009 08:06 AM
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Three places have opened this week on Yonge, North of Lawrence--Milagro Mexican restaurant, an organic bakery/cafe (can't remember the name), and a diner-type place, closer to Loblaws (also don't know the name--sorry!).

Milagro didn't have a menu in the window...I'm hoping it'll be a bit cheaper than the one downtown, but I somehow doubt it. It took them over 5 months to open, which is shocking, considering the space was previously a restaurant.
I could barely see into the bakery, but the Diner looks cute on the inside, and seems to have all day breakfasts, burgers etc.

Has anyone tried any of these places yet? WOuldl love to hear from you.

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  1. Is Milagro open yet? No signs of life when I've driven by.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snarf

      Looked like it might have been open yesterday.

    2. It feels like I've been waiting for Milagro to open forever. I didn't know about the other two spots, so thanks for the heads up! I'm hopeful -- three of the many things this strip has been lacking are Mexican, a bakery and a casual breakfast spot. Fingers crossed. I will check them all out this weekend.

      32 Replies
      1. re: TorontoJo

        Looks like La Bamboche is opening a larger space on Avenue between Lawrence & Wilson, too!

        1. re: phoenikia

          Happy news! It would be nice not to have to go south of Eglinton for a decent bakery. I think I'm going to go check out the bakery and the diner right now. Clearly it's a slow work day for me.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Look forward to reading your comments on the bakery & diner!

            1. re: TorontoJo

              OK, so the bakery is called Organic Oven, and it's right next door to Milagro. It's really a cafe (they are advertising for a barista), rather than bakery. They have a full menu of coffee and tea drinks and a few smoothies. In terms of the baked goods, it specializes in gluten free, dairy free, vegan, sugar free, etc. goods and fair trade coffee. There are no "regular" baked goods (you know, the kind with all the yummy, unhealthy stuff in it). All baked on site. Mostly cakes and muffins. I bought a gluten free, vegan chocolate muffin and carrot muffin. They *look* homemade -- unfrosted, crooked tops, different sizes, etc. None of which would matter if they're good. Sadly, my chocolate muffin was very dry, which is a pity. I have a vegan chocolate cake recipe that is ridiculously moist and I was hoping the muffin would be like that. The carrot muffin fared slightly better, I'm guessing because the carrots themselves added moisture, but nothing to swoon over. Given that I can bake better than this at home, I won't be returning. If you are vegan, diabetic or have celiac's disease, this place will probably be a godsend. If not, well...hopefully the coffees are good enough to keep the traffic up.

              The diner is called Hazel's Diner, and it's on the East side of Yonge, just south of Teddington Park. It's two doors North of Cravings. It's a cute, simple interior. The menu has the usual breakfast suspects -- the standard breakfast (2 eggs, meat, homefries, toast) is $6.95 regularly, but only $3.99 from 7am to 11am. There is a fairly long list of burger options. They say "7 oz., hand packed", which I take to mean they make their patties on site, rather than buy frozen, pre-made patties. There was a nice variety of salads, as well. Prices looked reasonable, especially given the location. The best part is that they open at 7am Mon - Sat, and at 9am on Sunday. We will be there for breakfast tomorrow to try it out.

              Checked out the menu at Milagro. Appetizers range from $7 - $12. Mains range from $17 - $24. The variety on the menu looks really nice. This is not a tacos and burritos kind of menu. I saw things like beef tenderloin in a chipotle cream sauce with caramelized onions, a few ceviches and some shrimp tacos that looked good. This may be dinner tonight.

              In other news along the strip -- there is a real patisserie opening up. It's on the West side of the street, didn't notice the cross street. But it's right on a corner and it's called Patisserie Sebastian. Fingers crossed.

              And unbelievably, YAIR is opening in the old Ristorante 101 spot. Yes, it's true. Yet Another Italian Restaurant is open along this stretch of Yonge. It's on the same block as Sapori and Trio and across the street from Gamberoni. It's called Sorrento. We'll see how long it lasts.

              I also noticed an organic goods store along the way as well. Didn't stop in, though.

              All-in-all, it's a busy time in the Yonge/Lawrence area.

              1. re: TorontoJo

                Thanks for taking the time to check out all these places;)

                I'm happy to have a new non-chain coffee shop in the neighborhood, but will remember to avoid the muffins;) Hopefully Patisserie Sebastian will have some seating, too.

                Will be nice to have a new diner nearby, so breakfast doesn't have to mean a trek down to Goodbite. TorontoJo, have you ever tried Harry's Charcoal Broil? I've never ventured inside, and haven't seen anyone mention it on CH.

                That Ristorante 101 space has seen many restaurants come and go. I wish the new owners all the best with that space.

                1. re: phoenikia

                  Funny, Goodbite is where we go for our diner breakfasts as well. I tried Steve's over at Bathurst and Wilson last weekend. Meh.

                  And no, I've looked at Harry's several times driving down Yonge, but haven't ventured in. I suppose I really should, as I'm always lamenting the lack of good greasy spoons in the area.

                  Have you or anyone else tried "Le Gourmet Shawarma"? It's another one of those spots that I've noticed, but not tried. Curious as to the quality of their shawarma and falafel (if they have it).

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    I've tried Le Gourmet maybe 4 times, most recently about a month ago. Nice man working there. Their garlic sauce is super garlicky- a little too much for me, but maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. Le Gourmet's shawarma are pretty good , and the portions are generous. They have a combo plate, with the shawarma served with rice, turnip pickles, and your choice of 2 or 3 sides (tabbouleh, salads, hummous , potatoes). This is my favourite thing to get, rather than the shawarma in a pita. The food is a little on the salty side, but I've found that to be the case with pretty much every Middle Eastern restaurant in the city.

                    I still like shawarma at Barakat in London and Yakamoz on Wilson a little more, but I'm happy to have Le Gourmet in the neighbourhood. Haven't tried their falafel.

                    Le Gourmet and Ciccio Sanwiccio are my favourites for a take-out meal that costs less than $10 in the area.

                    A little farther afield, but a good source for take-out taboulleh and other salads is Ararat on Avenue. I picked up some tabbouleh, babaganoush, various pickles, superfresh pita and other goodies yesterday. Forgot how much I like that place!

                    1. re: phoenikia

                      Thanks for the info. I will have to try it and Sanwiccio. Leftover shawarma from Yakamoz was my breakfast today. :) I'm glad to hear that Ararat is open -- I noticed a "for lease" sign on the door the other day but wasn't sure whether it was for Ararat or the place above it.

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        Please do try Ciccio's. The chef's are so funny, my kids call them both Nonno Ciccio (grandpa ciccio). It's fast and they make half'-portions of pasta. I have to say their tomato cream sauce is pretty decent and the portions are huge for full orders of pasta. I've had their grilled zucchini (I skip the eggplant) sandwich and I really like it. Overall, a nice quickie place, in and out in 15 minutes if you eat fast. Chasing a toddler, that comes in handy.

                      2. re: phoenikia

                        Oh I love Barakat in London. I went to school in London and I always felt that the only redeeming thing in that town is Barakat.

                        1. re: phoenikia

                          Walked in Le Gourmet Shawarma for the first time today. The smell as I walked by its open door was fantastic. I went in, just to snoop, I had no intention on eating there today. Just a scouting mission. Food looked and smelled really good. Nice assortment of fresh veggies, shawarmas looked good. It was odd though, the lamb/beef shawarma looked medium rare. I've never seen that in shawarma before.

                          Anyways, it looked pretty good, might check it out tomorrow. Or very soon at any rate. The guy, who seemed to be the owner, seemed real nice.

                          1. re: phoenikia

                            Is Le Gourmet a sit-down place or fast food lay out? I don't care if it's not fancy but just wondering if two adults and an infant would be OK for a sit down meal?

                            1. re: Ediblethoughts

                              Mostly fast food lay out, with a couple small tables in the back for people to eat in.There's no table service. I've always gotten take-out.

                              1. re: phoenikia

                                OK. Thanks. Oh well, maybe if I'm by myself at some point..

                              2. re: Ediblethoughts

                                yup, there are table and chairs. it's a very casual atmosphere but perfectly clean and respectable

                                i find the shwarma "okay"... good but not great. it is a good lunch option for the area though. i also find it a bit pricey compared to most other shwarma places... but i guess if you factor in the area and high yonge rent fee it makes more sense.

                                1. re: tygrr_lily

                                  I was thinking about a veggie plate--you know felafel, tabbouleh salad, lentils/rice, etc.

                              3. re: phoenikia

                                I second the Le Gourmet. Very nice people there. Their baclava is a nice small bite for a sweet craving after I have their veggie plate. I find it fresh and flavourful enough for the convenience and location. I like the extra garlic myself. I wish they offered a couple of persian desserts too. They speak Farsi and are very kind.

                              4. re: TorontoJo

                                Harry's is the last remnant of a chain from the 70's. The original was in the current Lake's location, which was forced out when David Wood's success made the rents jump.

                                Tried it a year or so ago out of nostalgia, and didn't try the full menu. Burger was competent, condiments were lowest common denominator, fries and onion rings were ok. More of a time warp than a chow experience, but then I haven't tried the whole menu.

                            2. re: TorontoJo

                              Arg! gluten-free, dairy-free. sugar-free?? I hate to say it, but how long before this place closes? Didn't the owners notice that the Low Carb grocery store (which carried this type of stuff) closed only a few months ago? Obviously, there is not enough demand for this type of bakery. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but ...
                              Looking forward to trying Milagro and the diner.
                              The organic food store is called Organic Abundance. It opened about 2 months ago. I've only been in there once, just for a quick look--they have a pretty good selection of organic packaged items and dairy/frozen items. The fresh produce looked ok, not great, but like I said, I just popped in quickly. I really should go back.
                              Does anyone shop there on a regular basis?

                              1. re: illy

                                I'm not sure I agree. I think there is definitely demand for this stuff. The issue is that there is demand for *good quality* gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free. The stuff that tastes like cardboard, low-carb stuff, etc. will definitely not last. But if a place sells stuff that tastes great, it will do quite well.

                                1. re: SMOG

                                  I would love to find a good gluten-free bakery that sells delicious stuff! As it is, I end up buying different gluten-free breads/baked goods from different stores and stick to tried and true products. I have cheat days but most of the time I try to eat gluten-free for health reasons. I'll give Organic Oven a try when I'm up there. I noticed on their website that they started as a bakery in Brampton and this is their first gluten-free cafe.

                                  1. re: always_eating

                                    I was at Organic Oven today. I tried both their carrot muffin and their chocolate no-sugar muffin. Normally I don't like the store bought gluten free products, I find them too grainy. However theirs are same-day baked, and not stored for days, it was quite tasty for a healthier treat. Their regular coffee was fresh, all their containers are either compostable or recycleable and they clearly show how to use it. Even their straws. I really appreciate that.
                                    They now offer free wi-fi. I wish them well, there are a lot of children facing allergies of all kinds in the area, finally a place where they can actually try something.
                                    The staff are also very nice and because the coffee is fresh, I am starting to bail totally from my old Starbuck's bean purchases. If they would start retailing fresh locally roasted coffee beans (I mean fresh, as in no more than a day or two), I'd never go back to Starbucks for coffee.
                                    Nice to have alternatives. I hope we see a real INDIE coffee shop blow people away with fresh roasted beans.

                                    1. re: Idas

                                      Thanks for the report. I'll have to check them out when I'm in the neighbourhood. How's the seating? Is it a place you can lounge around for awhile leisurely eating/drinking and doing some work on the computer/reading?

                              2. re: TorontoJo

                                Thanks for the review! I work here and it's nice to find more lunch options as well

                                Patisserie Sebastien is at Yonge and Fairlawn, I believe. I drive by it everyday, and it seems like the progress has been slooow. I'm crossing my fingers it will be a good one when it opens!

                                1. re: tygrr_lily

                                  Yes, it is Fairlawn.

                                  It's been in construction mode for months, though I'm not sure how much has actually been completed.

                                2. re: TorontoJo

                                  Just had breakfast at Hazel's Diner. Got there around 9:15 and they were hopping. Clearly, we're not the only ones that have been wanting a good diner in the neighbourhood. DH ordered the breakfast special and a coffee, I ordered the perogies with onions, bacon and sour cream and an orange juice. DH said it was a better-than-decent cup of coffee. My juice was fresh squeezed, though she said they buy it from Fresh and Wild. Breakfast special was 2 eggs, bacon, home fries and toast. It was a solid rendition of a standard breakfast, and at $3.99, a very good deal (though the price doesn't include coffee). My $9 perogies were tasty -- not homemade, but I'm ok with that -- pan fried, seasoned with lots of pepper and served with generous portions of fried onions, bacon and sour cream.

                                  The space is still a work in progress, as they've only been open for 3 days. They have room for a few more tables, which I think they will definitely need, given the traffic I saw this morning. There is a need for some soft surfaces to absorb sound. Right now, it's quite echoey and a couple of kids with piercing screams made themselves very known to the entire restaurant.

                                  Service was sweet and well-meaning. DH's plate had clearly been sitting too long waiting for my perogies and everything was barely lukewarm. They apologetically took it back and immediately made a replacement.

                                  I think they'll do very well. I wish them the best. We'll certainly be back to try other items on the menu.

                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                    Any omelettes or pancakes?

                                    1. re: Ediblethoughts

                                      Yes, lots of omelettes, also pancakes and french toast on the menu. Omelettes looked good as they passed. One thing I noted is that they have both home fries and hash browns on the menu. I'm looking forward to trying the hash browns, as they are not easy to find in Toronto.

                                      1. re: TorontoJo

                                        Thanks! Will add this place to me To Try list!.

                                    2. re: TorontoJo

                                      Good to hear the breakfast experience was positive at Hazel's, TorontoJo. I'll be sure to try it out sometime soon. Maybe this weekend!

                                    3. re: TorontoJo

                                      I had a croissant at Patisserie Sebastian and a pot of tea. Very nice people, very tidy and good croissant. They serve a proper pot of tea for under 2$ and their croissants are 1.9 , cheaper than Rahier, and I believe La Bamboche?
                                      I am looking forward to seeing their quiche offerings and other lunch foods.
                                      I plan to order a St. Honore cake from them soon.
                                      I hope to remember to post how they do.
                                      Good value for the area for sure. Looking forward to see what La Bamboche offers on Avenue in comparison.

                                      1. re: TorontoJo

                                        Organic Oven is a cafe front for a bakery that's existed for a while.

                                        It's a little bit misleading to think of it as a cafe or a bakery. I've been there twice now, and I don't think they've quite found their niche yet.

                                        The food is all gluten free, a lot of it vegan as well. The goods tend to be dry (because of this), and slightly more expensive than what you'd expect at a normal joint like this. ($4 for multigrain bagel with butter)

                                        The drip coffee's not very good, but I'm not sure about their espresso options. Very nice staff--willing to explain options to you and talk gluten-free options.

                                        I haven't seen that many gluten-free options in this city, so this looks like it'll be a nice outpost for those who need their carbs but can't get them the usual way. Free wifi, also.

                                3. Milagro is terrific - much more intimate than the downtown location, and great mexican food. We have only eaten apps, but we were very pleased with those - pristine seafood, everything nicely spiced. Beautiful guac, lovely carpaccio. The service is attentive, professional, and friendly.

                                  This is not an expensive night out - two of us were stuffed (we probably shared 5 appetizers), we each had thee drinks, and the bill was $106. I think that they're going to make a fortune there - Highly recommended.

                                  Hazel has a Lesliville kind of vibe. We went there for breakfast. It was quite good - I had eggs benny with a side salad with thyme dressing, and it really hit the spot. There was just a thin coating of browned hollandaise, not the gloopy mess you see in some places. The greens were pristine fresh. I wouldn't cross town to get to this place, but I'll certainly walk a couple of blocks.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: rbp foodie

                                    I had dinner at Milagro on Saturday night and overall enjoyed my dinner. I had the shrimp tacos as an app, my friend ordered a half order of guac and a small tuna ceviche. She loved the ceviche. The guac was seriously bland until we added some salt and lime. But it was made with fresh ingredients, so with the bit of doctoring, it was very good. The two shrimp tacos were very nice -- 3 plump shrimp (in each taco) in a mildly spicy adobo sauce with some cilantro and a few tiny pieces of pineapple. I got a bit of grit with at least one of the shrimp (ick), but the rest were fine. I ordered the cochinita pibil -- a lovely, piquant pulled pork served with some really tasty refried black beans and a pile of addictive habanero pickled onions. I ordered a side of rice, which was simple and good, except for the occasional piece of overly dry rice which kept interfering with my textural enjoyment. My friend ordered the lamb barbacoa. She seemed happy with it, though it looked rather plain.

                                    The sangria was nice -- reminded me of the sangria at Frontera Grill in Chicago. Much more tart than sweet, which is a nice change from the fruit punch that some places serve as sangria. It was missing a splash of something -- maybe some triple sec.

                                    Service was pleasant, the manager (owner?) in particular was helpful and accommodating. I think the kitchen was a bit overwhelmed with their first Saturday evening. It took at least 45 minutes to get our mains after we leisurely ate our apps. If I were in a hurry, I would have been annoyed. But I wasn't, so I just enjoyed the conversation. The sound levels in the restaurant got to be overwhelming though and it got quite difficult to hear each other talk.

                                    The appetizer menu is extensive and really appealing, so I could see making a dinner out of several of them. The app and mains are quite generous in size, so it's difficult to finish a full entree. I'll definitely go back. I get the feeling that this location will be much more successful than the downtown location. This neighbourhood is starved for non-Italian and non-French choices and the average resident isn't going to blink at the prices, so I'm predicting consistenly packed houses.

                                    1. re: TorontoJo

                                      Great review, TorontoJo. Thanks for mentioning the sound levels.

                                  2. There are a couple of other openings nearby. I don't know when they are scheduled to open.
                                    Agostino's (2497 Yonge St) is Franco Agostino's latest project.
                                    The other is Cam's Place (2655 Yonge St.) is a "local, 2-storey restaurant/pub offering elevated traditional comfort food". And, yes, the special mistake was in the original text on the website. ;-)

                                    http://www.camsplace.net/

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: toveggiegirl

                                      Agostino's is closer to Eglinton - where Chakra used to be. And it's been open for the last couple of weeks or so.

                                    2. Went to Organic Oven today. Nice place and very nice people. They have great looking cakes, although we didn't try them. We had a latte with rice milk, macchiato espresso, couple cookies and took home a few loaves to try (banana bread, corn bread, etc). Also tried a couple gluten-free bagels, toasted vegan non-dairy butter.

                                      Everything we had was very good. From all the gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free stuff I've tried before, this was the freshest. The corn bread is moist and flavourful. The cookie was crunchy and tasty (not too sweet); although the texture is hard to describe, it reminded me sort of like layered philo dough, but quite the same as refined as a "regular" cookie, it was was still good (not sure if it was intended that way or not). The bagels were also good, but the cinnamon raison was far better than the multi-grain. I would have liked them to be more toasted. The multi-grain was a little on the bland side. The vegan butter, which I have absolutely no idea what is made out of, tasted just like regular butter.

                                      I'd really like to try a cake slice next time. I would skip the multi-grain bagel, but would get everything else again.

                                      It wasn't bustling, but had a fairly steady light stream of people coming in. Most people were buying a bunch of things. Some were sitting at tables. They offer free wifi and signs say that more products are on the way. I look forward to them!

                                      1. Organic Oven has a website:
                                        http://www.organicoven.com/

                                        1. We went to Milagro a few weeks ago and, while we were impressed with the food, the service was HORRIBLE! I don't think they expected a full house that night, but it was pretty pathetic. They ran out of menus, so the hostess gave us drink menus when she sat us and said she would be back soon with dinner menus. She came back and asked us if we had a chance to look at the drink menu, we said "yes", so then she took them from us and didn't give us dinner menus. After about 10 minutes, our waitress FINALLY came to the table and asked if we had ordered drinks. We said no one had been to the table to take our order, she asked us where the menus where, so we told her they were taken from us and had never received the dinner menu.

                                          After sorting through that, the service became marginally better, but they definitely weren't ready for a Saturday night rush.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: clelacheur

                                            We were there on a Saturday night about 2 weeks ago; might have been the same night clelacheur describes. Luckily, we had reservations and were seated immediately; got our menus right away, too, although the hostess said something about having snagged them.

                                            Service did drag out but, to be fair, the place had just opened a week or two earlier. Most of the food was quite good, although the hot dishes came out lukewarm.

                                            For appetizers, we had the octopus ceviche and the taquitos Rosarito (shrimp). Both were very good. For mains, we had the chicken enchilada with salsa verde (Tacuba on the menu) and the lamb barbacoa. The enchiladas were delicious and the salsa verde was divine; very good refried beans were served alongside. The lamb barbacoa was a big disappointment -- just a plate of strongly flavoured shredded lamb. No sides except for tortillas to wrap the lamb in. We ordered a side of rice with fried plantains; quite good.

                                            The food was good enough for us to want to return. The noise level in the restaurant, however, will likely make us stay away. It was horrendous.

                                          2. VERY surprised to see these positive replies re: Milagro - I made a post about them - here's the paste:

                                            We had a large party at Milagro's new location near Yonge & Lawrence last night.

                                            Being a huge fan of Mexican food in both cooking and eating, I have come to learn over the years what to expect from GOOD Mexican food.

                                            Our reservations were at 8:00 and the restaurant was packed when we got there, good vibe, very loud (which was fine for our situation, and we knew it would be going in).

                                            Our waitress was very pleasant and appeared fairly knowledgeable.

                                            We started off with their Guacamole. This is where things started to go downhill.

                                            The highlight of the dish were the chips themselves, nice thicker than usual, freshly fried crispy chips - the low and star attraction, was the Guac. Besides avocados there was Cilantro, and Tomatoes. After trying it I immediately asked for extra lime wedges and some hot sauce to try to save this poor incarnation of Guac, and although I did give it a little bit of an extra lifeline, it still was extremely bland.

                                            The only decent item I had that night was the Taquitos with the seared beef, smoked bacon, and home made chili sauce - nice flavours, good heat - but still, $10 for 2 small 3 bite'ers...not exactly sufficient bang for the proverbial buck.

                                            I also had to try their Carnitas - very oily, under seasoned, lack luster dish (what flavour!?)...not impressed at all.

                                            We then ordered some shrimp taquitos, decent, edible, again, not enough citrus or heat to cut through the rich shrimp and avocados.

                                            Also tried the lamb main, again, a dish with a few scoops of shredded under seasoned (surprised if there even WAS any seasoning on this dish!) lamb with onions and cilantro to top your tacos with.

                                            Typically if I run into a similar situation while dining out, I would have said something to the manager, but given we were there to kick the night off, have numerous rounds of tequila shots (I lost count after the 4th round) the food was not our main attraction that night, and I did not feel like getting into it at that point...quite not like me!

                                            These guys are trying on the front end, that is plain to see and are doing quite a good job at it, its just too bad that the kitchen staff cannot back up the great front end job with some tasty food.