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  • k

i think today was the opening day - has anyone gone yet? i'd love to hear what people's reports before i make my trek up there (mostly out of curiosity since i live nowhere near don mills:)).

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  1. Monday, June 15 was actually opening day, and I did make my way there only to find it still under construction, paper in the windows, etc. I did speak with someone who said, "Thursday, we're keeping our fingers crossed!" but even she seemed sceptical.

    I will be really surprised if they open today.

    1. This was the question on my mind as well, as we debate what to do for lunch in Don Mills today. Naturally I came here first! Then decided to try the novel idea of actually calling Shops at Don Mills. The nice woman who answered the phone had a well-rehearsed response that the Grand Opening has been postponed until tomorrow.

      6 Replies
      1. re: julesrules

        It's now tomorrow.

        Here's an article...


        Let us all hope this works during recessionary times.

        Edit: I'm off there now (10:00) - didn't realise it opened at 8-00. I wrongly assumed it would run 'mall hours'.

        1. re: Paulustrious

          It opens to-day at 8.00 according to the sign on the door.
          Peeked in last night, and everything was set up, including ready made foods?
          Hope that this is not a bad sign.
          Really nice setup for fresh produce.

          1. re: Paulustrious

            The story in the Post seems to link affluent Lawrence Park to Don Mills and Lawrence.
            That is a big mistake. Lawrence Av. East has a gap between Bayview and Leslie. Most shoppers from Lawrence Park will stay on Yonge St. or Bayview.
            McEwan's shoppers will come from a much different mould, ethnic Don Mills.
            Good luck, Mark!

            1. re: jayt90

              Article in Toronto Life (with pics), "First look inside Mark McEwan’s gourmet grocery store."

              The 20,000-square-foot space is predominantly occupied by counters serving charcuterie, baked goods, seafood and cheese, as well as shelves of house-made (there’s a large kitchen upstairs) sauces, pickled vegetables, soups and prepared meals made from McEwan’s restaurant recipes. There will also be a counter selling chocolates stocked by the Belgian chocolatier Galler, which McEwan discovered while vacationing in Florida a year and a half ago. The store will also be selling the chef’s new line of kitchenware.


              1. re: jayt90

                You seem to forget York Mills Bayview - Leslie
                Bridle Path etc.
                More affluent than Lawrence Park.
                Very short drive, much closer than Pusateris
                I am stopping by tonight on my way home.

                1. re: erly

                  No, I am mindful of that area, but the Post article is not, as it leans on hopeful information from McEwan, who links Lawrence Park and the Don Mills Plaza.
                  While patrons from Post Road or Leslie/York Mills may pretend to be richer than Lawrence Park, there are not nearly as many of them.
                  I don't like the demographics McEwan has chosen to live with, but I hope he proves me wrong.

          2. There were film cameras all over the place and many helpers and servers.

            You'll probably all be going there yourselves but things that struck me...

            The staff are knowledgeable and (at least on opening day) helpful and pro-active.
            A large number of artisinal Ontario and Quebec cheeses. Also some very interesting French cheeses, small goat cheeses, raclettes and a whole bunch I have never heard of.
            Best selection of balsamic and olive oil. They even had balsamic at $500 for about 1/3 pint if you want to splurge.
            Good meat counter and the butchers were prepared to butcher to order. Their meats look excellent although a tad pricey. The only thing that worried me is that they were a little too red and had not been hung - but that tends to be what NA customers want...brown is too old.
            Food-to-go looked really good - pity I wasn't hungry. Soups, sandwiches, roast chicken, cold counter of mixed veg etc. That section was lot smaller than I had been led to expect. I was expecting more get-your-dinner-party-here stuff.
            Seafood - drooled at the crablegs. No live fish. You can buy coated and seared salmon steaks if the creation of that dish stretches you. Mainly high-end fish in the form of steaks.
            Certain sections you might expect to be bigger (eg, hot sauces) but I suspect they don't want to compete with Asian stores and their price point.
            Bread - not a lot but looked good. No shelves of Wonderbread. Bought a beautiful looking ciabatta.
            Fresh prepared rillettes and other meat products. A few local pates.
            Nice little coffee nook - and I think you can eat there.
            Odd thing is I can't remember the pasta.
            'Home-made' stocks, soups, tomato sauce at 7-10$ per 1ltr preserving jars.

            All in all, well worth a visit. I really want this place to succeed. Well done to Mr McEwan for this venture. This is a place you can walk round and formulate a menu in your head. The only thing it is missing is an Internet service to look up recipes after you get the idea :-)

            1 Reply
            1. I liked it but somewhat pricey. I use a Ritters chocolate bar price to see how competitive a store is. Some places have Ritters for $1.99, but $2.29 now seems to be the rule. However mcewan is $2.89.

              Having said that, the store is a good size (not too large) and there are many wonderful ingredients. Beautiful flowers. Great selection of cheeses. Many sauces and condiments.
              Great food to go too. Edo Sushi is there as well.

              Also like that the store is not crowded or dark like Pusi's.

              Will do for the occasional nice dinner fixins in these times rather than dining out.

              One thing I would like would be some recipe sheets that incorporate two or three of the store's products. As it is now, you look at all the sauces/condiments and think they sound yummy, but then wonder what is the best way to use them to produce a fabulous dish.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DUH CAR

                In terms of prepared foods, would those of you who attended say that there is more of, or less than, what I would find at Summerhill Market, for example?

                Right now I'm reading that it's mostly soups, stews, condiments...

              2. I was disappointed today. The prepared foods did look great and the store is beautiful, but everything else was just like a regular store. I mean, Aunt Jemima... really? I thought this store would be above that type of product.

                1. I went by today....

                  Nice looking store... tho some of the products seemed awkward to carry... pizza pops? really?
                  The produce looked good, but not strong labellings for organic or non-organic sections. They did have fresh ontario strawberries...
                  The meat is mostly provided by Beretta Farms http://www.berettaorganics.com/
                  They also carry australian Wagyu beef (at $80/lb I think
                  )They didn't have much options for game meat. Tho their duck breast came in at $10/lb or less, cheeper then the healthy butcher and Cumbrae's

                  Their Seafood is provided by Diana's http://www.dianasseafood.com/

                  Their prepaired food didn't look extra appealing, to be honest, whole foods looks better to me...

                  The best part of the store was they carry Galler Chocolate, almost 1/2 their line, and expecting more... I will be coming back for some more...

                  friendly service too...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: flying101

                    So are most of their counters run by outside sources ? Edo does the sushi, Diana's runs the seafood, and beretta runs the meat? Or are they just the suppliers for McEwans?

                    I'm looking forward to visiting the store next week.

                    1. re: Nick06

                      The staff behind the counters at the sea food and meat counters are from McEwan's (also strange side note, the staff name tags list their first and last names? Strange to me)

                      I saw the Diana's Seafood staff bringing in the stock and the butcher told me that most of the meat is from Beretta. they must also use other suppliers for some of the imported meat.

                      Also the deli meats counter had a lot of berreta cold cuts along with national brands, very few 'house made' cold cuts.. that was another disappointment. I didn't buy much today, will make a proper grocery run another day, just really poked my head around.

                      I went in with super high expectations, but left feeling that the reg stores I shop at still satisfied my needs better, if that makes sense?

                      1. re: flying101

                        At least two (maybe all) of the people behind the cheese counter were from a distributor or supplier, I believe. They stayed away from the deli stuff which was behind the same counter.

                    2. re: flying101

                      Is the meat behind the glass from Beretta? I didn't see any labelling along those lines, but admittedly, I didn't ask. I did see some Beretta vacuum sealed packages in the open refrigerator just beside the butcher counter.

                    3. My first shopping at mcewan, and it is love at first sight.
                      The prepared foods varied in appeal.
                      The Quiche looked wonderful, but didn't buy one.
                      They even have Squab in their ready to eat section.
                      Beautiful Black Truffles for the real splurge.
                      More tempting to me than the Chocolates
                      Large selection of Caviar, but not much different from what is available elsewhere, and nothing like the perfect Giant Mallasol Caviar from the USSR
                      We tried a few things.
                      The winner.. the Hummus.
                      So much better than the supermarket stuff, and better than Arz.
                      The Octopus salad, just a little bite, but not chewy. Really good.
                      The Mashed Potatoes taste like homemade, with no chemical aftertaste.
                      The Bean salad good, but not anything much different from others.
                      The loser, the Chinese grilled ribs.
                      No bite, and fall of the bone (which we don't like, and did inquire about before purchasing)
                      This is probably due to inexperience.
                      Excellent variety of ready to use sauces and condiments.
                      Bought some dry aged rib steaks, a little cheaper than Pusateri and Cumbrae but they are for another day.
                      They carry Fresh Australian lamb (our favorite) along with Canadian Lamb.
                      Even Baby Pork.
                      The meat section is fantastic.
                      Bought Canadian Strawberries at a reasonable price, but refused to pay $6.00 for Driscolls tasteless raspberries.
                      Picked up some x-large cherries at $6.00 per pound.
                      Produce looked fresh with a good variety, e.g. three types of eggplant.
                      To me the Porcini is the King of all mushrooms, and rarely if ever appear in Toronto.
                      I had asked Pusateri on a number of occasions to bring them in, but they never did.
                      Also splurged on a fine quality French Olive Oil, no longer available at Pusateri.
                      Many freeze dried Italian egg Pasta, which I will try
                      Purchased Organic Chicken Breasts threw them on the B.B.Q and they were perfect.
                      Won't need to go to Clements Saturday morning if I need Poultry later in the week.
                      I shop Dianas for fish, but have never seen fresh Dover Sole there, or anywhere else for that matter for several years.
                      Expensive, but they looked divine.
                      Good, and clever choices of fresh whole grilling fish..
                      Two big disappointments, but one I am sure will be rectified.
                      The dairy department (with the exception of the wonderful cheese) is extraordinarily ordinary.
                      I don't need mcewan for Gay Lea which I wouldn't touch even at a Supermarket.
                      Our dessert of Canadian Strawberries and a wonderful though a tad expensive Riopelle Cheese as smooth and creamy as I have ever eaten was divine
                      No pure organic Free Range Hormone and antibiotic eggs.
                      So I still need the Saturday trek to the market for Harlans eggs.
                      However I mentioned this and was told that it would be rectified, and I believe them.
                      The Bakery is O.K., but a bit of a disappointment, as the croissants were sub par , and tasted like the Thuet or Supermarket type.
                      I want my Croissant to flake all over me and the pull of the inside to burst with butter.
                      Poor selection of bread, but I expect than many were sold out by 6.00 as it was so busy.
                      Cakes looked nice but not a wow or a great variety, possibly because of the hour.
                      I will hold my judgment, but don't need Ace's breads at Mcewan.
                      Didn't get much further than that as e were hungty.
                      Will explore further on my next trip there.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: erly

                        You have a better memory than me.

                        I would not make a special trip to visit the pastry area. The bread selection was limited but good. The ciabatta I bought was how I like it, chewy flavourful mouth exercise.

                        1. re: erly

                          Erly, not sure if I understood your point on the porcini? Do they sell them, or were you commenting on your hopes of them selling them in the future. It is not Porcini season yet, but I will check in when it is in season.

                            1. re: icey

                              Hi Icey,
                              I indeed purchased an extra large Porcini.
                              It is Porcini season in Europe, and the giant Spanish Porcini, which are amazing are available from the end of April on.
                              I didn't inquire as to where they originated, as I was just so happy to find them.

                              1. re: icey

                                They were sold out (or not restocked) earlier today. Simlarly for bluefoot mushrooms (mentioned above) and also chanterelles and morels.
                                They did have a couple of other varieties that I wasn't too familiar with.

                                1. re: estufarian

                                  Thanks everyone. Did not know that the season for porcini was that early. My in laws who live in Northern Italy forage for porcini in Italy and Austria, usually around late August and all the way through September.
                                  Erly, is there any difference between a Spanish Porcini and say, the ones that are found in Italy/Austria?

                                  1. re: icey

                                    Hi Icey,
                                    Had the Porcini last night.
                                    Beautiful flavor, and the distinctive "custard" center.
                                    It was a "wow".
                                    I am no expert on Porcini, but I spend some time each May in Como, and eat at a small family run restaurant 3 or 4 times on every trip.
                                    They are moderately priced, yet their specialty is Porcini and Truffles.
                                    In May it is always the giant Porcini, from Spain which they grill whole as an app. that I order, and I am in Heaven.
                                    I go to Como only occasionally in late September, and they serve the Italian, which are not quite as large, but excellent none the less.
                                    Give me either!

                                    1. re: icey

                                      Porcini are cepes, or cep in Catalan. The mushroom is found as far away as Thailand, so traditional Fall sources may be changed by global shipping. The light tan fruits are the same variety everywhere. If you are lucky, you may find the negro variety, rare and sought after.

                                    2. re: estufarian

                                      Go for the bluefoot if you can find them. Quick fried in a little bit of butter, they end up with this amazing texture. Slightly crispy without breading, but then this slightly nutty medium mushroom flavour. They take on hints of other flavours well, too.

                                2. So, I also went today.

                                  There were oversized macarons (well, much larger than at Rahier, for example) in the bakery section, and I purchased the caramel and vanilla options. I did ask if their kitchen made them, and the staffer told me no, but that most things were made by their kitchen. She did not know where they were made, but she said I could call them back later, and she would find out for me. I have not done this, though. Now, I am no macaron expert, but I am hoping someone who is will hop on over there, try them out, and let me (and others) know how they compare. To me, they were overly sweet, with not enough buttercream, but then I love buttercream... They were nicely crispy on the outside with a good interior chew to them, but I'm not sure they're worth it at $2.00 each...

                                  The prices in the meat department were most reasonable, in my opinion, given the inflated pricing of so many other items (which was, granted, to be expected). But then, I haven't tasted any of it, and didn't really gather much information about the source, etc.

                                  There was quite a selection of prepared foods, both self-serve and full-serve. I overheard someone comment the price was $2.50 for 100 grams, and I'm not sure how that compares to prepared foods at other shops.

                                  One thing that stunned me was the take-out sandwiches priced at $9.99. No doubt quality bread and quality ingredients, but it's a sandwich, and until someone convinces me it's worth the price, I am not indulging.

                                  I must say I overheard many people raving on their cell phones about the new store, suggesting people hurry on down to see how amazing it is. A gentleman by the prepared food section encouraged his wife to stand closer and bask in the savoury aromas.

                                  That said, there were a number of junky things I would never have expected to find there--D'Italiano buns, Map O Spread (now that looks toxic), and other items already mentioned.

                                  I would definitely stop in from time to time for a great loaf of bread, a unique dessert, or some picture-perfect produce (especially if company is coming), as McEwan is conveniently right on my route home. But don't see myself doing regular shopping there. Then again, only time will tell...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Full tummy

                                    I haven't been but from what I have read so far this sounds like just another Whole Foods-esque joint. Anyone want to comment on that?

                                    1. re: radiopolitic

                                      I am not a Whole Foods fan, and will tell you there is absolutely no comparison.
                                      mcewan is in a league of its own.
                                      Unbelievably helpful staff.
                                      Couldn't find the Hummus,mentioned this to DH. Must have been overheard, and a member of staff hunted me down and led me to it.
                                      I also forgot to mention that they do not charge for shopping bags, as they are recyclable paper, and that a very nice young man took our groceries to the car.

                                  2. Went there this morning. Bumped into Mark himself. Showed me around and recommended the fresh scallops in the shell from the seafood section. Great choice! Shucked a few just now, ate with a couple of drop of lemon juice as suggested by the chef himself! Yuuum! Fresh and sweet!
                                    Also bought the banana cream pie which TO star rated an A+.and the lemon meringue pie. Both really good but I prefer the latter. Guess I just put on an inch to my waist line by eating them for lunch! And I've got a huge Father's day dinner coming up later!!

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      We were also there today. We don't need to worry ourselves over whether or not he'll survive. The place was PACKED, and he seems to be doing just fine.

                                      We had a little suishi snack while there and it was yummy. Bought some of the hummos mentioned above, a baguette, a lovely little round of Grey Owl goat cheese, some of his housemade smoked salmon, fabulous looking red grapes and went on our way. Oh yeah, couldn't resist the Galler chocolates. They had some on sample and liked described above - excellent.

                                      Hubby wouldn't allow me to cruise the olive oil selection....always dangerous!!!
                                      And I forgot to check out the banana cake, which is probably a good thing.

                                      Oh and those sandwiches, I couldn't forget how someone posted above how people were picking them up, and putting them back down. I saw the same thing happening, real turn off. I imagine MM will get that straightened out pretty quickly and come up with either some other way to display or package.

                                      1. re: millygirl

                                        "We don't need to worry ourselves over whether or not he'll survive. The place was PACKED, and he seems to be doing just fine."

                                        To be fair, milly - any place with as much buzz as this place has had is gonna be packed the first weekend. Probably the next few weeks as well.

                                        The question is whether there will be enough people coming through the doors once the buzz dies down. Is it enough of a destination to keep people from outside the area coming back? If not, are there enough people IN the area to support it? As will any other business, it all remains to be seen.

                                        1. re: gregclow

                                          As a suburbanite (Whites Rd and the lake) I often plan shopping trips to SLM, Kensington Mkt., and Dufferin Grove Mkt. I rarely consider Pusateri, or Bruno, and have never visited Whole Foods.
                                          Mark's store has parking, is not far away from the N.E. burbs, and solves a lot of problems. Too bad I learned Diana's is a supplier, because I know I can do better there, unless he gets exclusives, like Dover sole.
                                          I look forward to visiting, after the initial hubbub dies down.

                                          1. re: gregclow

                                            I agree that it's too soon to tell if the business is going to stay as busy as it's been. I went yesterday and enjoyed it but I live in the Beach and won't realistically be shopping there on a day to day basis. I may visit on Saturdays occasionally but it's not anywhere near where I normally travel. I'm sure I'm not the only one who went out of my way due to curiosity. However, we picked up some great oysters and beautiful black cod so I definitely think it's worth another visit.

                                        2. re: Charles Yu

                                          So, hubby dropped by McEwan yesterday to pick up a few things. Love the fresh wood ear mushrooms, and the other things you can't buy elsewhere. While hubby stood in line at the bakery area, a woman in front of him seemed frustrated that they had no pies. Hubby was to bring home a dessert, anything that struck his fancy. He chose the coconut cream pie, and I am now wishing he had chosen the banana option. The crust on the coconut cream pie was damp and dense, "like cardboard" -- Hubby's words. The filling and whipped cream were very dense also, and quite flavourless, alas. Aside from the few pieces of toasted coconuts sprinkled on top, there was no coconut flavour. Definitely not satisfying.

                                          We will keep on dropping in and hoping that the issues improve... There is a lot to enjoy, but there is still work to be done.

                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                            I am hoping that Mark McEwan reads Chowhounds.
                                            Went last night to order a Chocolate Torte Birthday Cake, and was told that they don't write on cakes, and the Lady suggested that I purchase the cake and write on it myself.
                                            Also needed to wait a few minutes to be noticed as the ladies behind the counter were having a private conversation.
                                            The great charm of my first visit was the attentive service.

                                            1. re: erly

                                              One of the problems at the bakery section is that there are a whole lot of yummy goods on top of the display. Now, it's always nice to peruse, but when it prevents you from making eye contact with the staff (who seem to all be much shorter than the tops of the packages), that is a problem. The first day I went in and purchased macarons, it took the ladies about five minutes to package them for me; when the server finally came around the display to hand them to me (it would have been impossible for her to hand them to me over the laden display), she apologized and said they weren't in the system yet and so they had to figure out how to label the box. I had no problem with that, it's a new shop. But, it would have been better if she had been able to communicate more easily with me, as I was standing there wondering what was up...

                                              As to writing on the cake, that is too much... That's quite a loss for them, if they continue to stand by that policy.

                                            2. re: Full tummy

                                              Fresh wood ear mushrooms are easy to find in this area, and safe to pick.
                                              Maybe Mark has found a local picker.

                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                Most of the interesting mushrooms are packaged, labelled as from 'Ponderosa'. Not sure if I've seen that label before.

                                                1. re: Snarf

                                                  That particular brand is also available at Loblaw's at Queen's Quay. Quelle suprise when I saw them! I had just made a comment earlier that day that we'd have to hit a specialty grocer to find morels... We were so delighted to have morels, porcini, chantrelles, etc available we posted about it last week. Don't know how long it'll last though. Seems seasonal to me. The display was wrapped in an Ontario Foods banner.

                                                  http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.

                                          2. My two cents-I went there on Saturday just to check it out and again on Sunday with my wife as she was curious. I too saw Mcewan there on both days-looking very intense

                                            The thing that struck me was that the prepared food section is wonderful while the rest of the store, frankly was just ok-certainly pusateries has a much wider selection and even Brunos seems to have as much if not more

                                            The place was really busy around the prepared foods and the sushi. I went ,on both days around the middle of the day so people were eating

                                            But as I wandered around the prepared foods I kept hearing the same thing...

                                            "Its not cheap."

                                            As well, and this struck me, while the place was very busy, the check out lines were not. They had quite a few open but still there were cashiers with absolutely no one in front of them.

                                            Finally, most of the people I saw were eating the EDO sushi not the prepared foods

                                            Anyway this is what I saw-I guess we will see....

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: alfie

                                              my partner and i went on the weekend as well. since we were there, we picked up some nice oysters, and a piece of fish for dinner, but i doubt we will be coming back. this is far from where we live and there was nothing there that was outstanding or unique enough for us to warrant the trip. i've read mcewan's statements about the store not being a 'supermarket' but really, what else is it? it feels like a supermarket, and it looks like a supermarket, although smaller than a 'metro' or 'loblaws'.

                                              what bugged me throughout the store was the almost total lack of signage identifying where the food is from. some produce had it (but not all), but nothing on the meat or fish.

                                              we also were not impressed with the fish and meat selection - very middle of the road anglo-canadian, for lack of a better description. where were the organs, the cheap but flavourful cuts of meat etc? at fiesta farms i buy regularly sweetbreads, pork hocks, pork and beef tongue, lamb organs etc)? on the day we went, the fish was almost all fillets, only a couple of whole fish, nothing live. the store definitely does not have a very diverse palate in mind.

                                              overall, we were quite underwhelmed. our regular shopping places will remain fiesta farms, st.lawrence mkt and healthy butcher, supplemented by farmers' markets in the summer. it's unlikely we'll be visiting mcewans again. now, if he were to open another location at king and bathurst, as one article suggested, we probably would go there occasionally, just out of convenience. but even then, it would not become our main grocery store.

                                              1. re: Kasia

                                                I definitely agree with you about lack of signage. I especially felt this about the meat. Each cut had a label identifying it, the price, and the grading, but beyond that, nothing. Like, was it aged? How and how long? What are the principles they follow when sourcing their meat? There were no little postcards or flyers giving such information, and I feel that if nothing is provided/advertised, then many will conclude it is conventionally farmed (as, if it is not, why not promote it?)... And, btw, perhaps it is conventionally-farmed.... I still have no idea.

                                                Also, I noted that there were only six cash registers for the groceries, and one for the prepared foods. Seems a small number of registers, but even so, the only register that was busy on Friday was the prepared foods one.

                                                Now, it's the first week, and it's impossible to tell how things will pan out. I hope he has/develops a winning formula...

                                                1. re: Kasia

                                                  You have to admit, he is merely stocking for his intended target market. I don't see people living in these areas buying tripe or a big fat beef tongue anytime soon.

                                                  They want their fillets.....

                                                  1. re: aser

                                                    aser hits the nail on the head. You think some Bridle Path resident is going to make something with pork hocks?

                                                    1. re: grandgourmand

                                                      Too true,
                                                      I buy both Tongue and Tripe.
                                                      My kids won't eat either, and my grand kids would think that this was disgusting.
                                                      Too many generations away from their European roots.
                                                      But, Sweetbreads are rather "Trendy" in France at the moment, so possibly we will see them in his meat counter.
                                                      He was certainly dead on with the latest trends with his selection of fish.

                                                      1. re: grandgourmand

                                                        i guess it you only imagine euro canadians as the residents there, then no. but i know quite a few well to do asian canadians who eat things like tripe fairly regularly at home. and yes, some of them live in the vicinity of mcewans and would have no objection to the price point. they would definitely be unsatisfied with what the store has to offer, however.

                                                        1. re: Kasia

                                                          I know it's a generalization, and there are a few that would appreciate broader offerings. But it shouldn't be a big surprise considering it's difficult to find any of these things at most mainstream butcher shops in Toronto. All the high end ones focus on the prime cuts because that's where most of the demand is (excl. Healthy Butcher, I guess).

                                                          If you're McEwan, who doesn't butcher the whole animal (I don't think) so may not want to maximize the economics of a whole carcass, do you really want to risk losing the sale of a 19.99 lb or whatever for filet in exchange for $3 a lb for kidneys (just making up the numbers)?

                                                          For the record, I like the off cuts as well and would be disapointed not to see them. Fiesta Farms is great for that stuff...like you said. TOo bad, it's not convenient for me. In case you haven't tried it yet, I bought some of their homemade Cottechino there once (sausage made of various pig parts and ground skin) and it was excellent.

                                                          1. re: grandgourmand

                                                            he should be getting the whole cow, pig, etc.. with an operation his size now and if he is going to be making chacuterie, and sausages, and stews, and soups, and chili etc as prepared food why not get the whole animal.. Plenty of things to use the non prime cuts for...

                                                            1. re: OnDaGo

                                                              I don't disagree...I just don't know if that's the case. Anyhow, I still don't think his target market is going after tripe or pork hocks. I think they want the safe and secure prime cuts. Anything else might scare them off.

                                                          2. re: Kasia

                                                            McEwan's store is in the heart of the most affluent Japanese area. Philipine, East indian, West Indian, Chinese, are all within striking distance, north south and east. We'll see how he does with them..

                                                  2. Am I the only person who was totally underwhelmed by this place, as well as by the looks -- and taste -- of the prepared foods? I was there on opening day, at around 1 PM, with four other members of my family. We were starving, so picked up a bunch of items (all pre-packaged) to share, including a couple of sandwiches, some potstickers, soup, chili, and sushi.

                                                    The sandwiches (a chicken, a tuna, and an Italian) were totally devoid of seasoning and were thus tasteless. As mentioned in other posts, the sandwiches are wrapped in a way that about a quarter of each sandwich is open at the top and are thus unhygienic. The potstickers were okay, but meagerly filled. The meat chili was good, but lacked salt. The sushi was dried-out looking, which was surprising considering Edo owner Barry Chaim was hovering behind the counter (and generally acting as a greeter at the store entrance).

                                                    As for the prepared foods sold in the showcases, nothing looked terribly appetizing. As someone mentioned, everything was laid out the night before; by my estimation, everything might have been laid out a couple of days before. Shrivelled roast chicken is not a favourite in my household.

                                                    I wish McEwan well, but I can't see anyone making this a destination on a regular basis. The prices are horrendous and most of the grocery items are mundane. I'll probably give it another shot in about a month.

                                                    12 Replies
                                                    1. re: Tatai

                                                      For what it's worth the parking garage is terrible - too narrow and most are driving SUVs that they can't maneouvre so getting in and out when busy is going to be an adventure.

                                                      The LCBO next door is not great- they didn't have Alexander Keith's premium white which was advertised in this week's LCBO flyer. Not that it was sold out - they just didn't have it.

                                                      The area is more affluent than people give it credit for - the homes around Donalda GC range from 700 to 1.5M. There are a ton of infill mansions sprinkled in and round Leslie and Lawrence. And as mentioned above it is as close to Pusateri's if not closer for the Bayview-York MIlls hood. If the store fails, I don't think it will be the demographics of the neighborhood that kill it.

                                                      1. re: victor page

                                                        The suishi was wonderful. Not dry at all. Very fresh and tasty.

                                                        When we were there, besides us were a group of ladies doing lunch. Chowing down happily on salads and tea. Seemed to be quite enjoying themselves.

                                                        Victor is bang on. TO has many wealthy people. These folks are not price checking or comparison shopping. And they will drive to great lengths to get what they want. This is MM target audience. Pusateri's could use some competition.

                                                        1. re: victor page

                                                          Yes that parking garage is a PITA. Terrible layout and quite narrow.

                                                          1. re: always_eating

                                                            is that the only parking available there?

                                                            1. re: auberginegal

                                                              The shops at don mills own the parking garage, but there is also street parking and valet for a reasonable $5

                                                              1. re: Mmmmmm1982

                                                                However, there isn't much street parking right in the vicinity of McEwan. Not sure how the valet parking would work when you're laden down with groceries. Is there a valet booth/staffer right by the entrance to McEwan?

                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                  Is there a valet booth/staffer right by the entrance to McEwan?
                                                                  --> Yes, there is.

                                                                  1. re: DUH CAR

                                                                    I was asked if I wanted my bags carried to my car. I think it was a standard instruction to staff, as I'm not the sort of person who would appear to be challenged carrying a few pounds worth of groceries.

                                                                2. re: Mmmmmm1982

                                                                  There is lots of outdoor parking.
                                                                  I have been using the lot on Don Mills Rd. (beside the Bank and Anthony's) just below Lawrence.
                                                                  No problem, and around the corner from Thuet.

                                                          2. Anybody have the scoop on the bread? I heard they were doing a huge production with a company from Quebec to produce Artisinal bread in the Ontario Market then I see pictures of the store and they are selling Ace or Freds (I forget which).. Anybody know if they will be distributing bread to other places?

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: OnDaGo

                                                              They were selling Fred's the other day but I wasn't paying much attention to the breads so I don't know if they had other types as well.

                                                              1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                They were selling Ace when I was there, and as I have stated this was the most disappointing area along with Dairy.
                                                                I can get croissants that taste bland at 3 for $1.00 at Sugar Cafe.
                                                                They will need to improve this area.
                                                                The butchers are very friendly and you just need to ask.
                                                                This is a service oriented shop.
                                                                I purchased some 30 day dry aged Ribs, at a very reasonable price.
                                                                Have not tried them yet, but the Star (I think) gave then a rave.
                                                                They are not on display at the counter.
                                                                You need to look up at the refrigerated counters overhead.
                                                                I can't even see a comparison to Brunos for quality products, and when it comes to lux, mcewan has Pusateri beaten hands down.
                                                                Pusateri doesn't even carry a French Olive Oil, and when they helped me pick (an expensive) substitute, it was nothing like what I required.
                                                                I am surprised by the lack of Organ meats as well.
                                                                As for the fish, they have been very clever, and the fish they chose for grilling were the current favourites of the high end restaurants.
                                                                It won't be my everyday Market, but they will be seeing me a lot.

                                                                1. re: erly

                                                                  One slight correction - Pusateri's does carry at least one French Olive Oil, Moulin Jean Marie Cromille Huile D'Olive. I've seen it as recently as last week. It's very good IMO. Be careful though, they have an unfiltered virgin version displayed in front of the extra virgin versions. It's approximate location is mid-top, right side.

                                                              2. re: OnDaGo

                                                                I think Toronto Life said he was using Boulart. When I was there Friday I did see Fred's. Not sure if there was any Boulart since there wasn't a lot of bread left at the time I went. A search of Boulart's website shows they supply bread to a number of Ontario markets already. Honestly, I have never noticed them but will probably try their bread at least once to see if I like it.

                                                                1. re: always_eating

                                                                  got boulart from fiesta farms... their pricing is premium but i liked their baguette. straight out of the paper bag without some extra heat for crusting and overall warmth that brings out other flavours it was good in all aspects of texture (good reasonably thick crunchy crust... deliriously soft airy interior with a bit of chewiness) but was a bit raw on the interior and really lacked a bit of richness or salt. still decent yestiness.

                                                                  had a pain perdu one before that that was total trash.... ok crust but no airy soft interior. virtually just... bread. this one made me think of old pain perdu except for the flavour. it would be great with butter though. absolutely fab.

                                                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                    Okay, now I will have to try Boulart with a rave like that!

                                                              3. was there for a quick walk around today and thought i'd add a few thoughts.

                                                                the store is really really lovely. i thought it would feel move overwhelming but it's so well laid out and products arranged very nicely that i quite enjoyed it. i find the pusateri's a bit cramped and difficult to navigate at times that i really like this element though it doesn't really feel like there is a significantly larger amount of product short of the prepared food sections.

                                                                prepared food is definitely pricey though the hot table area could be a bit economical if all you chose were the meats. i did though pick up a fregola and chickpea salad that was quite delicious and i think well worth the $9 as i'd only need half for a protein rich lunch.

                                                                oh.. that australian wagyu is certainly curious but right beside it were some really nice cuts of usda that was minimally less marbled that i'd be more likely to jump at for half the price.

                                                                i did pick up a macaron... ah the frustrating eternal search... and they are from the bobbette & belle macaron catering shop. i was unimpressed. it wasn't necessarily too sweet but the thick shell and wet interior wasn't appealing, no chew. they were obviously a few days old because they did taste a stale and the flavour was a bit synthetic and weak. i thought i had also picked a hazelnut one... as that is how it was described when i asked for all the types but it was a poor pistachio cookie filled with a chocolate cream that was studded with hazelnut instead.

                                                                other than the misdirection with the macaron, i though that the staff were very helpful and not pushy which is definitely appreciated. so all in all it was nice but i don't ever really shop at places like pusateri's and this store is looking for at least that kind of clientele. i really enjoyed the plaza though and would likely go as part of a half day experience shopping around.

                                                                19 Replies
                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                  Thanks PSP for the report on the macarons...I was waiting on someone to comment on them before I made it up there to look around (hopefully this weekend). I'm sad to hear that they are unimpressive - I was really hoping that they would be great!

                                                                  1. re: pinkprimp

                                                                    I think they were marginally better when I had them on Friday (I'm thinking they were fresh, then), as they definitely were chewy -- it was probably their defining feature, well, that and sweet... And, at that time, I wouldn't describe the filling as wet at all; then again, I had only the vanilla and caramel flavours...

                                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                                      i think that perhaps my choice of flavour was also a bit of an issue but then again it was more the combination i was disappointed with as pistachio is generally what i use to test macarons and gelato.

                                                                      see, the cookies had a fully formed shell that was smooth but completely matte (i expect just a little bit of gloss from the whites) and so i didn't want to say they were undercooked per se, so wet was the next best term. but if you looked inside the cookie they were certainly undercooked with a very thick batter consistency but certainly not a wet meringue texture that i expect. the egg whites hadn't really cooked or set. they definitely did not tug back in any form or fashion... just collapsed really.

                                                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                        Sounds like I need a Ph.D in macarons, haha!!! I'm no expert, having only tried some Toronto options.

                                                                        I must admit that I didn't pull the macaron apart in any way... Have you had the B & B macarons before? And were the McEwan stock in line with that experience? Just wondering how much of the unpleasantness was due to old age... (the macarons, not you, haha!)

                                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                                          nope, never tried a b&b macaron before. they only do large orders (i think a minimum of either 300 pcs or $300) and i don't know anyone who is as obsessed as i am so it's an astronomical price for a large amount.

                                                                          the thickness of the shell still turned me off... mine was at least 1mm thick and that is not right at all.

                                                                          also.. i think macarons have a bit of an edge of personal preference to them and all the delicacies i associate with sushi in a sense. i think unless you have a truly revelatory experience with one then for the most part they're just ok.

                                                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                            Yes, even fresh, as I think mine were, it wasn't revelatory. Which I would expect, at that price ($2.00), for something that size.

                                                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                              i agree. the shell is too thick. i tries raspberry and passion fruit...they were probably the worse macarons i've ever had in Toronto. The taste is okay but the texture is completely off. I have no problem with paying $2 each but they sucked as macarons.

                                                                              The mini cupcakes on the other hand were delightful! they were made by mcewan.

                                                                          2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                            Hopefully I can make it up there this weekend (contingent on whether or not I can drive) and try them for myself. I am considering starting a little notebook with notes on macarons across the city.. ;-)

                                                                          3. re: Full tummy

                                                                            The chew from a macaron is perhaps one of my favourite food textures!

                                                                            Hmm...do you think that they were just coming across as sweet because of the flavours (caramel, vanilla) and weren't as "delicately" flavoured as they should've been? I found that to be the case at Davids as well. It might as well been a big blob of sugar!

                                                                            1. re: pinkprimp

                                                                              I have no idea... Maybe it's just me. I always find meringuey things on the sweet side.

                                                                              As to flavour, I did feel they were a little weak.

                                                                              1. re: pinkprimp

                                                                                david's were much more sweet than the B&B ones....

                                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                  I finally went last night and tried a few of the macarons. I don't know if I was setting myself up for disappointment but when I looked into the case and everything was so pretty, I really thought that the macarons would be at least half decent.

                                                                                  I tried the passionfruit, the green one with chocolate and nuts and vanilla. Like yours, mine were really "wet" inside, and beside the intital crisp when I bit into it, were just a sugary, wet paste. Oy. At least the filling was nice.

                                                                                  Marshmallows were tasteless and chewy. I had both coconut (the girl told me it was vanilla! Good thing I'm not allergic!!) and strawberry. It was honestly like chewing sunscreen and air freshener scented packing peanuts.

                                                                                  I enjoyed the pain au chocolat and the croissant; they were really buttery, had a nice chew and the chocolate filling was nice and smooth. However, it lacked the crispiness on the outside, and didn't have the distinctive layers inside.

                                                                                  Cornbread was depressing- dry and *really* crumbly. Tried to eat it with a fork but it broke before it hit my mouth.

                                                                                  Can't wait to try my other goodies tonight! Smoked trout, rabbit rilette, truffle aioli...

                                                                                  1. re: pinkprimp

                                                                                    they do look good don't they? the shell is a bit too matte though which is a slight indication that something isn't quite right.

                                                                                    perhaps we will find redemption in this new french patisserie on queen west. they are still in the construction process but moving along quite swiftly.

                                                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                      oh god. an endless flash intro that I can't skip... T_T
                                                                                      For the impatient like me: 780 queen st. W (out by Trinity Bellwoods)
                                                                                      Look forward to checking it out. Competition for Clafouti?

                                                                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                                        Yes, as I was looking at them, I did remember you mentioning that they were matte and not glossy!

                                                                                        Wowza to Nadege- I pray that the store decor is not like the website (ie; "Loading...the ooh la la" and the sexual innuendo)

                                                                                      2. re: pinkprimp

                                                                                        Do you know if they make their own pain au chocolat and croissants?

                                                                                        1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                          Sorry, OnDaGo. They didn't have any signage for the danishes, croissants, pain au chocolat, etc. and the lady behind the counter was busy with another couple so I didn't get a chance to ask.

                                                                                  2. re: Full tummy

                                                                                    I agree with your macaron assessment (bought my caramel one on Friday too). The cookie had a chewy bite to it which was nice but the filling was just way too sweet. Cloyingly so. Didn't really taste the caramel. But I would try another flavour just to see if it's the same deal.

                                                                                2. So does the store carry the exotic products (caviar, truffles, high-end cheeses and butters, spices, ect.)?

                                                                                  How vast and of what quality is the fish selection?

                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Eastwind

                                                                                    Yes! Russian Beluga Caviars, Fresh Spring Truffles, tons of wild mushrooms including Chanterelles and Poccinnis, Mega bucks EVOO and 50+ years old Balsamic vinegar...
                                                                                    Large quantity of 'wild caught' fish from Florida, west coast and Europe. Wagyu beef at $79.95 a lb....etc

                                                                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                                      Sounds tasty. The beef is dry aged, correct? Do they carry dry aged, USDA Prime?

                                                                                      1. re: Eastwind

                                                                                        If they offer Canada prime dry aged, I'm there!

                                                                                        1. re: jayt90

                                                                                          Had a 30 day dry aged rib steak tonight from there. Rib in, 12.99 per pound.

                                                                                          1. re: Snarf

                                                                                            Good price but sounds like Canada AAA

                                                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                                                              Can't recall the grading, but it was darned good and was definitely well aged.

                                                                                    2. re: Eastwind

                                                                                      For me, what separated the store from Pusateri's was the relative breadth of dry ingredients from Asia and Mexico.

                                                                                      With the exception of a few items (e.g. mushrooms) I find pusateri's produce section much better, especially the variety of Pusateri's organic fruits.

                                                                                    3. So, I have experienced a McEwan customer service crack. Last night, shortly after 8 p.m., I tracked down the phone number of the store and called to determine whether they sell a particular cut of meat, as I need a quantity for the weekend. The voice mail is set up so that all the buyers come first and the managers of the different sections come last. It is a long wait to get to the meat manager, and just pressing 0 took me to McEwan's executive assistant, rather than a live person. Called back and pressed the code for the meat manager; it rang, and then went into voice mail. I knew there was a chance nobody would return my call that night, as it was about 3/4 hour before closing time. But, when I have called Pusateri's, Healthy Butcher, Fresh from the Farm, or any number of stores for stock information, I've never had trouble speaking to someone. I hoped that someone would be checking their voice mail before packing up for the night, which is good policy. No such luck. It is now 3:20 p.m. the next day, and I still haven't received a call back.

                                                                                      They could perhaps take one of the excess people they have walking around the shop asking if everything is o.k., and set him/her up with a phone.

                                                                                      1. So I went there yesterday and have mixed feelings.. Love the meat and fish counters and the preserves. I think the Grocery section has a bit too many mainstream items. I am very disapointed with teh bread area.. it is very tiny and there is not a true artisanal bread oven anywhere and no space for them to make housemade bread as far as I can see so I guess they will continue just to sell others bread that you can get at any other store.. (Freds, Ace)..

                                                                                        Now my biggest complaint is I bought a small piece of their Cottechino for $13 and when I sliced into it the middle was not cured in fact it was RAW PORK! you could stick you finger right in it... It looks like the put it in the counter before it was fully aged. If I did not have to rent a car to get back there I would return it, but I really have no need to go back there..

                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                          I hope you intend to call them up to complain and to ensure they pull it from their shelves before other people purchase it and potentially get sick. You're also within your rights to ask them to issue a refund of the purchase price on your credit card.

                                                                                          1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                            OnDaGo, if you are talking about the Cottechino (or Mussetto) that we eat in Northern Italy, then it is supposed to be raw, and not aged. It has to be boiled or steamed, and then you can finish cooking it in saurkraut, or you can just eat it sliced with some horseradish. Did they advertise that it was supposed to already be fully cooked?

                                                                                            I was there on Saturday afternoon, and purchased a few things. Don't have time now, but will post my review probably tomorrow.

                                                                                            1. re: icey

                                                                                              Yes, and if you boil it, make sure you prick it...I had a couple burst on me.

                                                                                              The other way to eat it is alongside lentils. Yum.

                                                                                              Icey, is cottechino the same as mussetto?

                                                                                              1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                From my dad's home town, "muset" is how we say it in dialect, but I was always told that the correct Italian word for it was cottechino so I am pretty sure it is the same thing.

                                                                                                1. re: icey

                                                                                                  the reason I ask is because "muset" in french mean "snout"...and there's a sausage called musetto, and I'm trying to find the recipe. I want to make cottechino, but only in the fall, as it's a pretty rich sausage.

                                                                                                  Not sure if you're looking, but if you are, I picked some up at Fiesta Farms once, at it was really tasty.

                                                                                                  1. re: grandgourmand

                                                                                                    Good question, I think that cottechino is the same as mussetto (a big fat sausage), but it is not the french muset!

                                                                                                    You're right, it is pretty rich, but I love it any time of year. However, I am really lucky as my dad makes them every February and then we store them (I believe in the freezer, in a bag of water). What do you eat your with? My favourite is the "saurkraut" that my grandmother makes with turnips called brovada.

                                                                                                    1. re: icey

                                                                                                      I've only had it once...and I had it with lentils, which is a traditional method on New Year's day.

                                                                                            2. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                              The guy specifically told me that you can eat it as it is either on a baggette or just slice and eat.. he did not say anything about cooking it or even refridgerating it!!! Also he made it seem like he was the one who actually made it!

                                                                                              1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                                That's terrible! They should definitely know what they are selling as that is supposed to be one of their strong points. Thankfully, OnDaGo, you have chowhound, and you have purchased a really delicious product, so if you don't think it has spoiled yet, steam it off and you will have a wonderfully flavourful, rich, with slightly sticky product that I'm sure you will enjoy. I would suggest that you still write them a letter and tell them about your experience as this could potentially be dangerous.
                                                                                                On a side note, I have seen people in Italy take a very fresh salami, and spread it on some bread, but it was definitely slightly aged, and NOT raw.

                                                                                                1. re: icey

                                                                                                  definitely...probably had some wank at the meat counter who thinks he knows more than he does. it's basically a raw sausage.

                                                                                              2. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                                I am starting to wonder if what I got was even Cottechino as the pictures online I see of it do not look like what I bought.. What I got was a fat sausage that looked cured on the outside and had a dark brown colour with that white powdery stuff i associate with fully cured sausages. Any ideas?

                                                                                                1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                                  From my experience with cotecchino, it does not have a white powdery mould on the outside like a cured sausage. However, what still worries me is that you think there's raw pork in the middle. Is it dark brown outside? What colour is it inside? Is it a nice red or even a shade of pink that you would associate with salumi or is it a light brownish colour that I would associate with a raw cotecchino.

                                                                                                  1. re: icey

                                                                                                    It was pink and soft you could stick your finger through it yet there was a hard rind around it..

                                                                                                    1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                                      If it was soft and PINK then I would guess that it is very fresh salami, one that had not aged very much and therefore, can be spread onto a baguette and be eaten uncooked.. The one thing that is a bit disconcerting is that the fresh salumi that I have had were fresh through and through and did not have a hard rind around it. As I am by no means an expert, you should eat it at your own risk, or you can cut it in rounds, and saute in a hot pan with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. This is to die for and I absolutely love this preparation.

                                                                                                      1. re: icey

                                                                                                        The hard rind is definitely not a sign of good aging. If the humidity is too low in the curing room the outside will dry up forming a hard 'case' before the inside can dry/cure properly.

                                                                                              3. Picked up a few items..
                                                                                                Pureed Califlower soup...delicious! I wish I picked up another jar..
                                                                                                Braised Rib flatbread..nothing special..a little bland
                                                                                                a made in store brioche..too dry
                                                                                                bagels..bad choice. I'll stick to the much better bagels places around!
                                                                                                in store carrot cake...very dense and hardly any icing (my favorite part)

                                                                                                I wouldn't make a special trip for their prepared items.. but a lovely looking store!

                                                                                                1. Went to McEwan's on Saturday around 1 pm and the place was PACKED! I was quite impressed by the store, in the sense that it just looks to clean and beautiful and I had the urge to try 1 of everything that was on offer. I was actually surprised at home many things they were sampling but I know it works because I ended up purchasing some of the things I sampled.

                                                                                                  I started off with 1 olive ciabatta from Boulart. It was not as crisp as I am used to having a ciabatta crust however, I have never had a more soft and tender bread. It was delicious with a really intense olive flavour. It was $1.99, very reasonable.

                                                                                                  I then went to the seafood counter for the 1 thing that I had travelled here for: live scallops in the shell!!! I bought 6 of them for $2.29 each. The man behind the counter who served me was wearing a chef's jacket, and was really attentive. He did not want to wrap up the scallops in just paper or in a plastic tray as he felt they might not be able to breathe, so he went into the back and came out with a little plastic green container, (you know the ones that you usually buy strawberries in?), and placed my scallops in there topped with ice, then wrapped very loosely in butcher's paper.
                                                                                                  I ate the scallops that night gratinee in the oven and they were awesome. Sweet, sooo soft and the roe that was attached to some of them was delicious. I will definitely be back for them.

                                                                                                  I also sampled a really nice soft goats cheese topped with soft red and green peppercorns that burst in your mouth. It was approximately $14 for a little round. Beside it, I sampled a really refreshing 2007 Cave Springs Dry Rieseling, and I ended up purchasing that next door at the LCBO and drinking it with my scallops that night.

                                                                                                  Finally, my last purchased was a small little box of smoked sweet paprika for about $7.50 but I haven't tasted it yet.

                                                                                                  I was curious about the porcini, but I couldn't find a price and couldn't find anyone in the produce area to look up a price, and really didn't want to go through possible shock at the register, so I will save that for another day.

                                                                                                  I will be back in the future for sure as I am curious to try the prepared duck confit. I cannot afford to come every week, however, this is a place that I can go to for little treats once in a while. Although a word of caution, please read OnDaGo's experience with Cottechino there this weekend. I am hoping it was a one time error on McEwan's staff's part.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: icey

                                                                                                    Went Monday night about 7:15pm (closes at 8:00pm). Not busy at all. Clean and new-looking, but I guess I was expecting more. Basically just a high-end small grocery store, similar to Whole Foods. While there are some gourmet products, there's also Wonder bread and various other products you can buy in any old grocery store. Produce didn't look esp. great. Plenty of red meat on display. Bakery seemed OK, but again nothing new or special. Didn't try any of the prepared foods.

                                                                                                    My first time visiting the Shops at Don Mills. While it might be nice to wander on a summer's day (although there are still plenty of vacant storefronts), on an overcast weekday evening it seemed dull and deserted. I wish them well, though, on the shopping concept.

                                                                                                  2. I also went on Saturday.
                                                                                                    Grabbed a truffle, it was a good price at only $40 for a nice sized one, but the quality wasn't great. It was a bit dried out and surprisingly bland, and very little aroma. Maybe I was expecting too much.
                                                                                                    Also picked up one of those 2 inch thick Australian wagyu striploins. Possibly the best steak I've ever had. Much more marbled and tasty than the similar offering at Bruno's. It was so big and rich that I split it with two other people and was satisfied.
                                                                                                    I served that along side some of fresh morels, also from McEwan. They weren't in the best shape but I was happy to have them after missing out during their local season. Also they were only $6 for a carton.
                                                                                                    I'm definitely going to sell some organs so I can shop here more often.

                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: graydyn

                                                                                                      I have mentioned Australian Wagyu here several times.
                                                                                                      First time I tasted it was in Bangkok, and it was far better than any steak that I have ever eaten.,including the Kobe in Japan.
                                                                                                      However my Japanese experience was probably a Tourist Trap.
                                                                                                      I also prefer fresh Australian lamb.
                                                                                                      $40.00 for a truffle is very inexpensive.
                                                                                                      I have paid that much, and more in Europe.
                                                                                                      I hesitate to purchase one now after your comments.
                                                                                                      Did you shave it very thin to bring out the flavor?

                                                                                                      1. re: erly

                                                                                                        There is no point of comparing any wagyu beef without knowing the grade of the beef.

                                                                                                        1. re: skylineR33

                                                                                                          I've never had Australian wagyu that compares to Kobe. Aussie wagyu is also available at Famu in J-Town, at lower price/kg than at McEwan, in case anyone is interested.

                                                                                                          1. re: tjr

                                                                                                            have you had the wagyu from J-Town? is it worth it, compared to say, going to cumbrae's for their regular steaks (or if better for comparison, any other places that sell wagyu in the GTA). i've never tried a wagyu steak before, and want to have the right expectations should i decide to shell out for the pricier meat!

                                                                                                            1. re: auberginegal

                                                                                                              I have purchased Wagyu from both Thuet and Cumbrae.
                                                                                                              Thuets was from Japan.
                                                                                                              Cumbrae is a cross.
                                                                                                              Not impressed with either.
                                                                                                              I much prefer Cumbrae Black Angus aged and marbled, or USDA Prime.
                                                                                                              You need to know what to look for.
                                                                                                              Evenly marbled throughout, and purplish color.
                                                                                                              Last Winter I purchased a USDA cryovac boneless rib eye roast from Costco, and it was perfect!
                                                                                                              ... and tjr and Skyline, I have no doubt that Kobe is the "King" of Beef, but last time that I was in Japan, about 10 years ago I had not yet discovered Chowhounds, and depended on the Hotel to recommend a restaurant.
                                                                                                              We paid $$$$$$ for a decent but nothing special steak.

                                                                                                              1. re: erly

                                                                                                                I am not too sure if Kobe is the "king" of beef, it is definitely one of the most expensive one. It is very hard to make comparison, Kobe beef has a relatively mild beef taste than typical Australian Wagyu. Some people prefer the stronger taste Aust. Wagyu, other prefer a smooth kobe tenderloin, others prefer a super fatty Matsusaka striploin ..... not to mention there are different grade in each kind of these beef, A M5 grade Aust. Wagyu is different from a M9 ...

                                                                                                                1. re: skylineR33

                                                                                                                  It's all about personal preference! My cousin, for instance, will only eat eye of the round steaks or fast-fry steaks cooked well-done, and dislikes the flavour/texture of anything else. I prefer Matsusaka to Kobe.

                                                                                                                  Just look at the debates on corn-fed vs. grass-fed beef or rib vs. strip vs. tenderloin, or degrees of doneness; even from the same type of cow there is no clear cut winner on what is best.

                                                                                                          2. re: skylineR33

                                                                                                            That's a good point. I made the purchase based solely on the fact that the steak looked really good, but in the future it's probably worth while to inquire for more information before buying such pricey beef. Now I'm feeling curious about who's selling which grades.
                                                                                                            I wonder if one could get additional info in writing, seeming how the Wagyu industry is riddled with lies and deception.

                                                                                                            1. re: graydyn

                                                                                                              "riddled with lies and deception" ya right... it is all symantics.. in Japan they have specific wording to describe the meat but in North America there are no rules. Just like we can legally call "Baby Duck" - Champagne (much to France's dismay) any meat coming from any cow that has some Wagu breed in its genetic blood line can be called Wagu AND / OR Kobe and there is nothing legally wrong. It is all a matter of marketing.. I am not saying this is right I am saying that this is the state that we have right now.. Just like if I go to a restaurant and order a coke and they give me pepsi there is not deception just symantics.

                                                                                                              Now if someone tells you this is Wagu from Kobe prefecture and it is A5 quality and they give you a Angus / Wagu cross from Alberta then there is deception. But having a Kobe Burger on a pub's menu is just marketing symantics..

                                                                                                              1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                                                                It really all isn't semantics or marketing (or legality), it's about deception. We don't really need to go into this again, it has been beaten to death already.

                                                                                                                But, just to add a correction: Baby Duck does not label itself as champagne: it says sparkling wine right on the bottle (I'm pretty certain; I haven't examined a bottle of Baby Duck for a while).

                                                                                                        2. re: graydyn

                                                                                                          graydyn, I'll add another best to the meat counter. Grilled up some lamb ribs last night. I was suspicious of their appearance in the store being accustomed to butchers who use lighting to greatly enhance appearance. As I removed them from the package at home I could clearly see they appeared exactly the same. Once I put my hands on them I knew what I had. The meat was dense to the touch the fat just the right sort of firm. They grilled up perfectly on the bbq. Marinating them is completely unnecessary. Easily, eeeeasily the best lamb ribs I've ever purchased.

                                                                                                        3. It looks like they're definitely paying attention to criticisms. The unfortunately groped sandwiches of the past are now contained in a plastic seal inside the previous paper sleeves.

                                                                                                          There were porcini and bluefoot today. The porcini were 7.99 a container and the bluefoot 3.99 .

                                                                                                          Some of the prices seem to be creeping up, though, and the pates have jumped from 22 per kg (when they first opened and were all labelled as 'misc meat') to 40 per kg.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Snarf

                                                                                                            Re: prices, beware...(see below)

                                                                                                            I finally got into McEwen for the first time this weekend and had mixed feelings. I agree with previous posters that it's not too different from Pusateri's or Whole Foods (though I note that Whole Foods would never carry Wonderbread or some of the other crappy products that McEwen and Pusateri's do), so I was a bit disappointed. However, I should note that I enjoy shopping at both WF and Pusateri's (though not for my primary grocery items) and will probably similarly enjoy McEwan.

                                                                                                            We didn't try any of their prepared foods, but some looked quite yummy (I was especially tempted to try the flatbread with braised short ribs and caramelized onion...mmmm). We purchased some Canadian striploin that was priced fairly reasonably, I thought -- it proved to be excellent.

                                                                                                            We spent a fair bit of time at the cheese/deli counter, enjoying the helpful knowledge imparted by the staff and really enjoying the samples of some of their products. We took home some of the Niagara Prosciutto, which was gorgeously buttery with a delicious flavour. We were also very impressed by samples of their house-made charcuterie. Their chorizo was delicious (but there was none left to take home) and we also sampled and loved a few of their cured/dried (?? not sure of the correct terminology) sausages. We kind of wondered why the four varieties of sausages weren't labelled in any way...Well, the reason became quite obvious when we decided to purchase a package of two pretty small sausages (maybe about 6" long x 1" in diameter each) and the guy who was helping us slapped the price tag on -- $18!! I know it's house-made, but it seemed rather steep for a very small amount of pork. That being said, we thoroughly enjoyed the sausages, but won't be making them a regular feature on our dinner menu... I thought it was pretty sneaky not to label them or mark the price on them in any way when pretty much everything else at the counter (most of which was more reasonably-priced) was clearly marked.

                                                                                                            Overally, an enjoyable visit, but not as special as I'd hoped...

                                                                                                          2. Does anyone know the Mcewan's supermarket operation hours have already changed this week. I went there tonight and I just noticed that now it closed at 8 pm instead of 9 pm from Mon - Fri. I just forget to check the store opening hours. Its operation hours have not updated yet on www.Shopsat DonMills.com store directory. Please see enclosed photos that I copied it from the website. I don't believe it closed an hour earlier in summer time. Now I can't enjoy to do evening grocery shopping there after work. I hope it won't be closing at 6 pm in Fall/Winter?

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: urbantoronto

                                                                                                              Not a good sign. Not even a month and they're cutting hours? I can't think of any other grocery store that closes at 8pm.

                                                                                                              1. re: sbug206

                                                                                                                Summer Hill Market is?
                                                                                                                In fact most specialty stores are closed b4 8pm...

                                                                                                              2. re: urbantoronto

                                                                                                                With staff costs of about $2000/hour, he can hardly be blamed for making adjustments to store hours. It's still very early days for this store. I imagine there will be many more changes over the coming months.
                                                                                                                Was there yesterday, Friday, late afternoon & the place was fairly busy. Quite a few customers at the front of the store, but the entire back grocery section was completely empty. Aisles and aisles of inventory & not a customer in sight.
                                                                                                                2 sandwiches (Boulart, par-baked bread. Good but hardly unique)
                                                                                                                1 jar Jardiniere - quite delicious
                                                                                                                1 jar Spicy Pickles - possibly the worst pickles I have ever had. Really mushy & so salty I choked
                                                                                                                1 box Sammie cookies - pretty good, but $10 for 4
                                                                                                                1 pkg Edo sushi - okay, but Edo??
                                                                                                                2 pcs Pork Belly - spectacular!
                                                                                                                1 marshmallow - god awful, nice flavour but horribly rubbery
                                                                                                                1 pkg Chicken Potstickers - bland, waste of calories
                                                                                                                1 Chicken Pot Pie - great flavour & texture, good puff pastry, but almost NO CHICKEN
                                                                                                                Total bill $95

                                                                                                                Given the scope of the undertaking, it's not surprising that the store has lots of kinks to work out. I'll certainly go back from time to time to watch the progress, but at the moment it's completely underwhelming. I had hoped for an experience similar to the first time I ever went into Dean & Deluca, Harvey Nichol or Fauchon. Perhaps my expectations are simply too high.

                                                                                                                1. re: Prok

                                                                                                                  And, re. the potstickers - tremendously expensive. I didn't count exactly how many were in a $10.00 package, but it seemed to me about 8 or 10.

                                                                                                                  Shame they were bland.

                                                                                                                  I was in a couple of weeks ago looking for hors d'oeuvres for a party I was hosting the following day. Frozen ones. In the vein of mini quiches and spanakopita. But, there was nothing to be found, and a staffer suggested the potstickers, some ravioli, and sushi. I couldn't stomach the prices of the former two, and I won't eat, let alone serve, refrigerated sushi. Made my own potstickers and had been wondering until now if the McEwan ones would have been better---sounds like no.

                                                                                                                  There are lots of good things at McEwan, tho, but it's just not good when you have to sift through the other stuff; I don't relish watching a big wad of cash fly out of my wallet for a package of disappointment.

                                                                                                              3. Wow... I guess the recession isn't hitting people that hard around here.. Dude opens up a high end boutique food store (to go along with the other 50 we have in our city) and there's 150 posts about it in a month?


                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: SocksManly

                                                                                                                  We have 50 large scale high end boutique stores in toronto? I am having a hard time counting them past one hand?

                                                                                                                  1. re: flying101

                                                                                                                    Yeah seriously! Hey socks where are the other 42 hiding out?

                                                                                                                2. We made a special trip there after reading about it in the Globe and Mail and it was hit and miss. We were amused by the banners hanging from the ceiling printed with, well, rather obvious pronouncements from the Master, like "crusty bread is really nice with a good soup." We got:
                                                                                                                  - 2 grilled panini sandwiches - a cuban and a meatloaf sandwhich...both excellent
                                                                                                                  - 1 duck confit leg - a nice treat -
                                                                                                                  - 1 key lime caramel -unusual, very fresh and limey tasting
                                                                                                                  - 1 special "North 44" rib steak, $28.99 a pound...okay, but really not that special or worth the price....there are many better to be had in TO
                                                                                                                  - 1 small angel food cake + berry coulis on the side and 1 molten brownie - both excellent...AFC was light and tender, brownie rich and made with high quality chocolate but not too sweet
                                                                                                                  - 1 package of mixed mushrooms, chanterelles, matsutake, etc. ($8.00, which was okay until I saw the *identical * package at Loblaws for $6.00)
                                                                                                                  - 1 small package of house smoked salmon - nice taste but zero texture...it was so soft, it was virtually a paste

                                                                                                                  There seemed to be a lot of other "food tourists" there as well....although the prepared foods counter was a little busy and there were lots of people milling about, virtually no customers at the checkouts. It's a nice shopping experience, but I was pretty disappointed with my $30.00 steak (I've had many at half the price I enjoyed a lot more) and didn't find the selection that impressive...organic strawberries and key limes? Nope and nope. It won't be a destination shop for me like others in Toronto are.

                                                                                                                  1. I live within walking distance of the new McEwan's, good luck to 'em I say,they're going to need it, the current Don Mills demographic is Tim's and McDonalds, forget the Bridle Path, there's not enough of 'em, as for people in Lawrence Park they don't shop in Don Mills. Until the new condos are built to the south of the shops, three to four years? This store will need some very deep pockets. As an afterthought, I buy my fish From Diane's Seafood just a short drive down Lawrence at Warden, why pay the mark-up

                                                                                                                    1. Finally checked out mcewans today and picked up a few things. I agree with others about the layout -- light and spacious with lots of room to move about even when it gets crowded.

                                                                                                                      The Boulart olive ciabatta was delicious. I have never had such good olive bread, so moist and fresh and full of olive flavour.

                                                                                                                      Plain green olives with pimento were a bit mushy for me, I prefer olives that are firm with a bit of crunch but the marinade was quite tasty with a good kick.

                                                                                                                      Saucisson slices were tasty and nicely salty, went well with the bread.

                                                                                                                      The veal meatball prepared dish with garginelli pasta was quite good with a rich tomato sauce and fresh oregano. I thought $14 was a bit much for the size of the portion but it turned out to be fine for two of us for lunch along with salad and bread.

                                                                                                                      Enjoyed quite few samples as we wandered around the store. At the cheese counter we were offered tastes of three different kinds of cheeses – Italian parmigianno, Evantural cheese from Northern Ontario and Hercule du Charlevoix, which we ended up buying a chunk of to take home. Also two kinds of cheese with wine pairings around the corner from the cheese counter.

                                                                                                                      There was a guy offering samples of Mad Mexican products, all good. Ended up taking home the dried morita salsa. (and I know I can get his stuff at SLM)

                                                                                                                      More samples of pizza/ciabatta topped with tomato, prosciutto and goat cheese.

                                                                                                                      Ended up with samples of chocolate/nut bark at the pastry section. Almost had a full meal with all the samples.

                                                                                                                      All and all, an interesting experience. Apropos of the comments above about Wonder Bread, I was taken aback to see Cheese Whiz on the shelf. Wouldn’t go back regularly as the place is too pricey for me and some of the the mark-ups, as noted elsewhere on the board, are ridiculous. But would definitely go back for that bread.

                                                                                                                      14 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: JamieK

                                                                                                                        That Boulart bread is not exclusive to McEwan's. It's available elsewhere in Toronto. I buy it at my local independent, unpretentious, owner-in-the-store supermarket; I find the raisin-walnut and the multigrain ciabatta to be mildly addictive.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Tatai

                                                                                                                          I realize Boulart is not exclusive to mcewan's. But when I looked up the places where the breads are sold, none are convenient to me except for the Don Mills location. Although I think perhaps their website is not up to date.

                                                                                                                          I'm definitely going to try some of their other breads.


                                                                                                                          1. re: JamieK

                                                                                                                            JamieK, you may have missed it on their website due to poor layout. It's available at Metro. Perhaps you have one of those near you even if you don't have a local independent, unpretentious, owner-in-the-store (phew... puff... puff...) supermarket.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Googs

                                                                                                                              Yup, thanks!, I could go over to the Metro at Vic Park and Danforth. But it may be more fun to go back up to the Shops ;->

                                                                                                                              Most of the independent groceries in my neighbourhood are owned by long-established Italian families who are so unpretentious they've never heard of Boulart.

                                                                                                                              But there's a new place (if it's still there) that I have yet to visit called Plank Road Market (formerly Michael’s Meats & Deli) , which is owned and operated by a young couple who apparently carry St John's bread and may be amenable to something like Boulart (although they may be too small).


                                                                                                                              1. re: JamieK

                                                                                                                                I dropped by the Metro at Bayview & Eglinton today and they don't have Boulart, at least not in name.

                                                                                                                                I notice the logo on the Boulart website is not just Metro but Metro Irresistibles. So I guess the Boulart bread is sold under the Irresistibles label? as well as IGA Sensations?

                                                                                                                                1. re: JamieK

                                                                                                                                  I don't think so. They have Moisson. Two brands?? It certainly wouldn't be sold as their private label.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                    no, you're right that doesn't make sense. The plot thickens, at least, to my befuddled brain.

                                                                                                                                    On the Moisson website, which seems to be seriously dated, found reference to Métro, Loblaws, Sobeys et Costco and in Ontario:
                                                                                                                                    A&P et les supermarchés Dominion ainsi que les magasins Ultra Food & Drug stores dans la région du Grand Toronto

                                                                                                                                    But at the bottom of the our-products/where-to-find-them page on Boulart there are, inexplicably, the Metro Irresistibles logo plus the IGA Compliments Sensations logo.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JamieK

                                                                                                                                      Metro has Premiere Moisson and Boulart under their Irresistable brand. The Boulart product is Metro's private label. Their ciabatta baguette is great!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cutehinano

                                                                                                                                        One thing that's great about Boulart is that most of their bread varieties are available in various sizes/shapes. As I mentioned before, I think they're great, with a wonderful chew and flavour. I often warm them in the oven a bit to achieve the perfect crust that's sometimes lacking. (They're baked in-store and I think some retailers package them up before they've cooled completely.)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cutehinano

                                                                                                                                          okay, so if I buy a Metro Irresistibles baguette, is it made by Boulart or by Moisson?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: JamieK

                                                                                                                                            The only Metro Irresistibles bread that I know for sure is made by Boulart is the ciabatta baguette (there is a demi version as well), because the photo on the Boulart site is identical to the actual product. Whether it's Boulart/Irresistibles or Premiere Moisson - they're both bake offs. Do people seriously think the Premiere Moisson stuff is coming from Montreal??

                                                                                                                                      2. re: embee

                                                                                                                                        Both Irresistables and Moisson are sold, in the same area, in my Metro (Whites Rd.). There is no way of knowing whether Boulart is sold under the Irresistables label. Moisson seems to be sold under its own label, not Irresistables.
                                                                                                                                        I assumed Irresistables was private label, possibly bake off, so I did not buy. Looks good, however.
                                                                                                                                        Some of the Moisson loaves are marked down at 6PM day of sale, and good buys.

                                                                                                                                        I have to talk to the manager as they have offered, by email, to replace herbs that would not grow. I'll try to find out more about the bread.
                                                                                                                                        One thing for sure: their St. Viateur bagels come in frozen, are buried with the regular stuff, and stale despite the excessive price (Was it $6 for 6? Too high!)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                                          I've hung around my local Metro for over 20 minutes (looking suspicious) waiting for the $2 off sticker on the Irresistables Chocolate Walnut bread. It's excellent! The package does say 'Product of USA'.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Tatai

                                                                                                                                By that, do you mean Fiesta Farms?

                                                                                                                            2. I went their for the first time this past weekend (Sunday) . Staff was friendly, some interesting products including some I haven't seen at other stores.

                                                                                                                              One thing I noticed was the $9 smarties ice cream. The same ice cream is selling for $4 this week at No Frills and event the regular price is cheaper than McEwans (why are they carrying mainstream Nestle ice cream anyway when there is a big Metro in the same plaza).

                                                                                                                              I live out of town so I won't be returning often but that plaza has a lot of cool/interesting events so I am sure I will be back in the area and when I am I will go and check out the store.

                                                                                                                              In the end I spent about $150 or so including a great piece of tuna (although, probably over priced). I often don't see fresh duck breast in the stores I shop at so I picked up one there too. I also haven't seen fresh currants at stores before so I picked up some white and red ones (again, probably over inflated at $4.99 a small container but I don't know another source for them and I wanted to try them)

                                                                                                                              Will stick with Whole Foods for more frequent non-grocery store shopping (one closer to my place)..

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: ylsf

                                                                                                                                Last time I was there they wanted $35 for Berthiault Epoisses which was available in Kensington (Global?) for $15.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ylsf

                                                                                                                                  They actually had fresh currants (and maybe even gooseberries? I didn't look at the label) at the Don Mills Metro yesterday. About the only interesting produce they did have, though. I ended up with bananas and dried mango which is pretty sad for August!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: ylsf

                                                                                                                                    I've been there a few times to buy meat for summer bbq's and each time we were there, I'd say about 95% of the action was in the prepared foods, fresh fish and meet area. I don't know why anyone would overpay for the same ice cream, frozen pizza, potato chips, etc. at McEwan that you can find elsewhere at more reasonable price.