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Avenue & Lawrence update.

1. The old Second Cup/Great Canadian Bagel that we all thought would become a Coldstone Creamery is not; it is actually a bank. Too bad, so sad.

2. Honey's Beestro is under new ownership; new menu & better service. Anyone been there?

3. The old Locavore (and then something else forgettable for about 10 min) is yet another new restaurant: and authentic Italian place that got a good review in the North Toronto Post. Anyone know anything? I hope it sticks as it seems that place is becoming a bad luck location.

4. A new restaurant-Kitchen. Looks chic with a small, focused menu. Anyone been there?

Moral of the story: lots of new places for me to try...which one should I try first?

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  1. Is it a new menu for all of the Honeys Beestros or just that one? Because isnt it a chain?

    1 Reply
    1. re: hungryabbey

      The sign outside the restaurant just says, "New Menu" so I don't know. Maybe it is just the old menu with new daily specials?

    2. La Cascina (in the late unlamented Locavore's spot) looks terrific and I've seen some great customer reviews already. Trying it next weekend.

      18 Replies
      1. re: buffytvs

        How about the Vault? Everytime I walk by there is either no tables or one table and this is pretty consistant throughout the weekend around 7:30-8:30. Anyone been? I would love to see them make it as it looks like a real nice restaurant.

        1. re: gogomiser

          I've been to the Vault once. The food was fairly good; nothing wrong but not 'special' enough to make a trip for. I'd certainly recommend if in the area. Service was fine too. Absolutely no complaints - all 8 in my party said they'd happily return.

          1. re: estufarian

            Weeks ago, my husband and I were walking on Avenue Rd. and were captured by Vault. We went inside to check it out and a very nice waiter who was setting up for the evening hour kindly showed us around. The interior was lovely and we thought, what a nice place to take my M-I-L for Mother's Day. We booked a reservation for brunch there and then.

            The waiter told us there was no menu available yet for MD but to contact them closer to the day. When the restaurant called us to confirm our reservation 3 days before May 9th, we asked for a copy of the MD Brunch Menu to be emailed to us. The person w/ whom we spoke stated she would do so. She never did, however.

            Arriving there on MD, the anticipation was great and my M-I-L was so touched we had taken her to such an elegant looking place. We were hesitant about not having seen the menu but were hopeful it would be in keeping with the tasteful and elegant decor.

            As soon as I saw the menu, I knew we had made a mistake. There were very few items that were truly "brunchy". It was almost as if they had taken their regular "brunch menu" and added Mother's Day at the top. The 3 identifiable brunch dishes were: smoked salmon and spinach omlette, French toast brioche with sausages and a bacon and cheddar quiche. Everything else seemed to heavy for a designation of brunch. Pasta with seafood? Striploin? And so on it went. There was no evidence that any creativity or care had been taken by the chef or the owners to truly make up a distinct brunch menu for a celebration such as Mother's Day.

            My husband and his family are Jewish so the actual available brunch choices were paltry. No one wanted the smoked salmon omlette - like enough with the smoked salmon already. My husband, his parents and brother all ordered the Brioche French toast sans whipped cream and the sausage on the side (to be consumed by my very non-dietary adherent husband - smiting to follow).

            The French toast came on a plate with a dice of fruit salad in a tiny glass cup. It looked sad. My M-I-L wondered if it was challah, not brioche. Too bad it wasn't rounded brioche french toast for something a little distinct. The chef could have at least cut the 2 slices on a diagonal and artfully arranged them with a sprinkling of icing sugar and a sprinkling of plump berries that gave the dish visual presence.

            As the shiksa of the group, I ordered the bacon cheddar quiche. When I bit into it, in was STONE COLD. I alerted the waiter and asked him to return the quiche to the kitchen to be heated. The quiche was whisked off on a plate and I was left to munch away on my frites (which were good BTW as was the coffee).

            The waiter returned w/ said quiche and I touched it to test the temperature. It was warm on the top and still cold on the bottom. When I advised him that it was STILL not to my liking, he explained that the chef told him to tell me it was a dish meant to be served cold. What?? A cold egg quiche? No thanks. It's arrogant that a chef should advise me as to how I like to eat my quiche. If I asked for a medium steak and he made it rare, should I eat it? No. If I like my eggs scrambled and the chef believes an egg should not be compromised this way, should I have them sunny side up?

            I told the waiter that it was not my experience to have ever eaten cold quiche. I told him to return it to the kitchen and that I wanted a fresh piece this time.

            A few minutes later, the waiter brought back my pathetic quiche remains, wobbling on a little plate, obviously torture-nuked. It was the same piece even after I distinctly asked for a fresh one. What a let down. The whole event was disappointing. We were all unimpressed.

            The hostess/manager eventually came to apologize and appropriately, my dish was removed from the bill. She offered a free dessert platter if we returned for dinner. Uh, let me think...NO THANKS. You only get one shot to make a first impression. I am not going to give you a second chance after ruining our Mother's Day celebration with the offer of a dessert tray.

            I only wish we had gone to Celestin. We have had many wonderful family brunches there - they do it right.

            PS - Vault has no website where we could have had the opportunity to view the menu. Come on people. It's 2010!

              1. re: estufarian

                I stand corrected. They DO have a website. There was no link from Toronto.com. I didn't know the resto had a "last name".

                No brunch menu that I could find.

                Thx for the info, estufarian :-)

              2. re: Mitzimouse

                No offense, but perhaps if you have dietary concerns in terms of being Kosher, you should have checked out the menu ahead of time. I do agree with you about the chef being wrong in saying "that is the way it is served, cold" but how would you suggest heating up something like quiche if not nuked. A warming oven would take longer but dry it out maybe even more.

                1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                  she made several attempts to check out the menu ahead of time....

                  1. re: todc1996

                    Yes, we made many attempts to see the menu. Went in blind because we didn't want to be rude and cancel at the last minute. Agree, there is nuking and then NUKING! It looked like it went through the "Is this hot enough for ya Lady?" setting - as if to make a point. Oh well. It's an experience to put behind and move on to other offerings.

          2. re: buffytvs

            Interesting.... My friend gave La Cascina a scathing review and sent an email around describing her bad experience and urged us not to go there. Sorry this feedback isn't firsthand.

            1. re: sherry f

              Have her post it here (or copy and paste with her permission) so we can all hear about it. It is just a "new place" kinks thing or does it just stink?

              1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                This Is her review of La Cascina (posted with her permission of course). sge is a real foodie and a great cook, so I trust her.

                La Cascina

                Four of us arrived at 8pm on a Saturday night. There were 2 other tables. We had to ask for bread(stale) and wait for it. Believe me, I am not a complainer, I rarely send back, it has to be very poor service, food and this time poor attitude. We were told that they came from Woodbridge, and now they are in mid-town. In other words, they were bringing the authentic Italian experience here. Well, guess what, if they couldn't make it there, why do they think they can make it here?
                We ordered the Charcuterie platter as an appetizer for the four of us. It was an embarrassment. There was not enough for one person. We complained, thought there must have been a mistake. The owner/wife came out and said it is the highest quality, if you went to the best restaurants in Toronto , this is what you would be served. I sent it back.

                The four of us ordered the same salad. It came in a bowl to share which was fine, but it was the wrong salad. I am not exaggerating, it was a bag of romaine dumped into the bowl, with very little of anything else. We sent it back. They brought us the one we had ordered, but it was not very good. There was no fish listed on the menu. My DH wanted fish, but they were out of fish, I guess the special. We later found out from the table behind us who had fish, that there was a piece left. I understand that the special can be sold out, but all fish? DH and I shared a pasta Bolognese. We asked what kind of meat was used in the sauce, they said beef, My DH later found out it was lamb. It didn't matter because there was very little of it in a very watery sauce. One friend had a ravioli special which was okay, I don't remember what the other friend had.

                Nobody came to ask us how everything was, however, the chef/owner came out and spoke to the "fish" table, directly behind us in a very small restaurant.
                I haven't had such a bad dining experience in a long time.

                Living at Yonge and Eg is an eye-opener. We have seen many restaurants come and go. We don't understand why some are still here. We tried Agostina twice and will never go back. La Vecchia has been off our list for a long time. Lolo is uncomfortably loud, so go if you don't like the people you are with because you can't hear them. Alize--we stopped going so long ago, I can't remember why. Il Sogno near Davisville, was good for a bit, then really went downhill with their food and service. They closed, and now reopened with a new menu.
                Balsamico is new and good. Amore and Grazie are reliable for neighborhood eateries. That's why, I don't understand why La Cascina didn't make an effort to ask us what they could do for us after we complained, sent back, etc. They came from Woodbridge? Big F@#^*%G Deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                -----
                Grazie
                2373 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P2C8, CA

                La Vecchia
                2405A Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P2E7, CA

                Il Sogno
                1993 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S 1Z8, CA

                Lolo Restaurant
                2590 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P2J3, CA

                1. re: Ben M.

                  I tried LC out a few weeks back and I'd say it was a mix of some very tasty dishes and some that were only so-so. As an aside, I don't eat chicken but I found it very odd that they say they never serve it. The staff were very friendly and accomodating to a fish/veg diet, even offering to order certain lower mercury fish if I gave them a bit of warning (the fish they made for us was wonderful).

                  1. re: Ediblethoughts

                    They never serve chicken? Bravi! Hooray for them. It reminds me of a soundbite of Vittorio's: he didn't serve chicken because there were no good chickens to serve. He said that about 25 years ago when his osteria was on Yonge near Blythwood. Maybe the same decision prevails at LC. I admire the nerve. A lot of chicken on the market is second-rate, and when you go out, shouldn't your food be first-rate?

                    1. re: Doopsylalolic

                      It's certainly a very brave choice---given that for so many people, chicken is there go-to food (you know, beef, not healthy, lamb too gamey, can't quite bear to eat fish so chicken is where they go).

                    2. re: sherry f

                      You make me think twice about going to LC. It could have been a bad day or the Chef was not in the mood, but I don't want to take a chance. There are quite a few good restaurants in the area. I gave up on La Vacchia quite a while ago. Alize is far too expensive for what it has to offer. I find Grazie to be a loud pizza factory that does not offer anything special. Again, there are many other good spots around. I'll try Balsamico... Thanks for your input.

                      -----
                      Grazie
                      2373 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P2C8, CA

                      Alize Restaurant
                      2459 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4P 2H6, CA

                      Balsamico
                      2029 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S 1Z9, CA

                      1. re: sherry f

                        Y&E. ? Lots of choices but what is really worth a visit and our money? We never tried La cascina and it seems we won't. La Vecchia saw us for the last time when they served us a sticky tasteless plate of 4-formaggi gnocchi. We sent back both plates; no apology, full bill. We tried Alize for brunch. Slow service, nothing special, except the bill... Never again, we won't be fooled twice. Coquine serves a good Caprese salad, when the chef is in a good mood. The tomato slices were about half an inch thick and it would take a magnifier to see the bocconcini. I sent it back and I got what I wanted (thin timato slices and a good amount of bocconcini), without any problem. We had been trying the mussels but the supposedly french fries were absolutely lame, greasy and slumping over the dish. We went to the Green Papaya and asked if they served fried crabs. We got a very rude answer, meaning 'NO'. What else is to be tried? Simple Bistro, Tabule are still our favorites. Let us know what else is good around here. Thanks!

                        -----
                        Tabule
                        2009 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 1Z8, CA

                        Alize Restaurant
                        2459 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4P 2H6, CA

                        La Vecchia
                        2405A Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P2E7, CA

                        Simple Bistro
                        619 Mount Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S2M5, CA

                        Coquine
                        2075 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A4, CA

                2. My wife and I went to Safari tonight. She had the fish tacos and loved them, I had a nice, decent sized blackened chicken curry dish and was more then satisfied as well. Slightly more upscale then the Firkin, which is more to my tastes. Other then mediocre service, not sure if our guy was a waiter the rest of the time, it was a good value.

                  -----
                  Safari Bar & Grill
                  1749 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M 3Y8, CA

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Spreader

                    Casa Mia Trattoria is renovating. That's the place behind the Harvey's, next to No Frills.

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                    Casa Mia Trattoria
                    352 Melrose Ave, Toronto, ON M5M1Z4, CA

                    1. re: Doopsylalolic

                      Love that place. Its hidden and romantic and delicious! I love that you can have a romantic dinner out front and yummy pizza takeout for the kids on the side.

                      1. re: Doopsylalolic

                        I think it's turning into something "Lounge" we got a postcard in the mail last week.

                        1. re: girlstar

                          I stopped by today to see what had happened to my fave neighbourhood restaurant, and as I feared, it is far from Casa Mia, in fact it looks like an adult nightclub...I loved Casa Mia, great food, very friendly service and a good wine list. Does anyone know where the owner has moved to? He must have spent quite a bit of money on his beautiful patio with the big fountain, and the pizzeria out back...I am so disappointed!

                          -----
                          Casa Mia
                          88 Dunlop St W, Barrie, ON L4N1A6, CA

                          1. re: Gracebay

                            It's called Luna Lounge, I think they serve food too in addition to being a nighttime lounge.

                            1. re: girlstar

                              Went by on Saturday on the way home from dinner out for a night time drink. Interesting place and something that the perhaps the neighbourhood needs - somewhere local to go for a drink, music and tapas style food. Lots of patio/lounge space and fairly nice. Did not try food. Stop by and check it out if you are local.

                      2. re: Spreader

                        Fancy menu and expensive for what it is. IMO.

                      3. Also, what about the Patisserie on the south side below The Bagel House. It always looks busy; anyone been there?

                        -----
                        Bagel House
                        1548 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                          Isn't that the new outlet of La Bamboche? The first is on Yonge, south of Eg (on Manor? can't recall, but just next to Coquine).

                          -----
                          Coquine
                          2075 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A4, CA

                          La Bamboche
                          4 Manor Rd E, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

                          1. re: TorontoJo

                            Yes, that is the one I am talking about.

                            1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                              I haven't been to this one, only to the original. The offerings are lovely to look at, but they've never done anything for me. I find them rather "meh". There is a green tea poundcake that I recall being rather tasty. But that's about it for me. Their macarons are way too sweet.

                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                re La Bamboche, my wife reports an acceptable croissant - the passionfruit/chocolate thing she brough home for me was far too rich and sweet for my tastes, so I'm not qualified to comment there...

                                re Honey Beestro, we had good steak sandwiches there once under the old management, but didn't make a habit of going. Walking by the other day, I noticed the new sign said "eric is back" or something like that - a charismatic bartender or something along those lines?

                                -----
                                La Bamboche
                                4 Manor Rd E, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

                                1. re: gimel

                                  I, too, have no idea who Eric is. Perhaps the mystery of "Eric" will bring people in?

                                  1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                    Eric used to be associated with The Twisted Bagel which didn't last long with or without Eric...he's a nice young man who has a solid background in the business, not a Chef but a very capable person who has been at several 'cafe' type eating places....I think 'management' is more his forte, not the actual 'cooking' end of things....He's earnest and I wish him well.

                                  2. re: gimel

                                    Re Bamboche, I went there when they first opened. It was good but it seems to me that it's not keeping up the good job. The croissants are not the best in town; the pound cake contains too much baking soda and last Christmas they did not have many choices of ''buches'', the traditional French Christmas cake. I went to Thuet and I got a wonderful, well decorated Christmas cake.

                                    -----
                                    Thuet
                                    609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                                2. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                  Yes it is La Bamboche. I orderded deesert fromm them for a large party I had in January (50 guests) and they were all gone within minutes and my guests loved them. Same with the macarons that are very very close to the famous french macarons. Believe me I just got back from Paris and know pastries. Issue with them is the decor that is pretty cold, not inviting-no choice of sandwiches and on top of it they only make them with croissants instead of a nice baguettes like any French bakery would. La Bamboche-if you read this please take into account the sandwich issue as a few of my friends had the same comments. Would love to go back but lunch choices have to be better. Take a hint from La Boheme on Yonge St.!!!! You would attract a lot more people.

                                  -----
                                  La Bamboche
                                  4 Manor Rd E, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

                                3. re: TorontoJo

                                  La Bamboche - Very good baguettes and rather good croissants. Their pound cake burns your tongue for too much baking power in it. And do not expect any fancy Christmas cake. For that you have to go to Dufflet or Pusateris.

                                  -----
                                  Dufflet
                                  787 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                  Pusateri's
                                  1539 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                                  La Bamboche
                                  4 Manor Rd E, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

                              2. Went to both the Vault and La Cascina last week.

                                1) The Vault. Appetizers (crab cakes and mussels were outstanding). My cassoulet was somewhat dry, but my friend's short ribs were pronounced perfect. Did not try dessert. Wine list is incomplete --look in the vault before you eat, not after, if you want something special to drink -- according to their web site, you can also BYOB. Service was okay without being exceptional. Their menu changes in about 2 weeks, so I'll definitely go back.

                                2) La Cascina. Fascinating experience which we loved, but it won't be to everyone's taste. This is not your standard Italian restaurant. There is no fixed menu, as they insist on everything being fresh daily; if you want something specific, call them in advance, and they'll try to make it for you. Otherwise, you take what's there when you go.

                                We had the mixed antipasto -- the cold part was fairly routine, but the hot dishes were very interesting. My veal with lemon was superb, as was my friend's steak, which was served grilled, sliced, and served on a bed of salad. My wife's home-made pasta with tomato and basil was also good. A nice, fresh green salad big enough for two complemented it all very nicely. There were only two entrees offered (so we tried both) and several pastas. Dessert offering was minimal -- they need to work on this. Wine list decent, but not wide-ranging.

                                The owners are the chef and his wife, and we met both of them during the evening. The service was very attentive. We've been looking for a new favourite spot since Richlee's was sold, and since this is a 2 minute walk from our front door, I think we may have found it.

                                3) Safari After years of ignoring this place, we've been there twice in 10 days, and wondered why we don't go more often. Upmarket pub food -- good salads, sandwiches, pastas, nice weekend brunch menu. Lots of interesting Austrian beer on tap, and a nice patio for sunny days.

                                4) One of our sushi spots has turned into Pizzaiolo, which gets reasonable ratings from people who've been to its Queen St. location. Haven't tried it yet.

                                5) Fun'l Fun MY wife insisted on trying it once. I guess if $20 waffles are your thing, you'll like it. Mostly seems empty when I walk by there, and I really can't see it surviving the year.

                                6) Honey's didn't appeal to me in either incarnation so far, and still doesn't. I'd take the Firkin across the road long before this, or the old tried and true Karbouzi (Greek) and Satay on the Road (Thai mostly) just steps away.

                                -----
                                Richlee's
                                1959 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M4A3, CA

                                Satay on the Road
                                2003 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M, CA

                                Karbouzi
                                2048 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5M4A6, CA

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: buffytvs

                                  I had a horrible meal at Safari and I just LOVE Satay on the Rd. I want to go to Lulul lounge someday soon. I love Yogurty's. I live on Lytton and Avenue Rd. very close to Lawrence.