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Toronto Trip Report

curiousgeo May 16, 2013 02:27 PM

After visiting Montreal, we arrived at Union Station to begin our Toronto visit, our first time here. What a great city. Reminds me of New York in a way, just cleaner and not so condensed, built out not up.

I had planned a ramen dinner at Kinton or Santouka our first night, but we hit those high Spring temperatures so decided against it. We settled on the Oxley Pub where we enjoyed a fisherman's pie and brick chicken over a bed of spinach and mashed potato. Both dishes were very well done, simple but delicious, perfect with a pint of cream ale.

Lunch the next day was at Dynasty for dim sum. I expected a good, but not great meal and we were pleased with our choice. This would easily be the best dim sum restaurant where I live. Everything came piping hot, fresh out of the kitchen. We had the shrimp dumplings, scallop dumplings with baby bok choy, crispy taro balls, Shanghai dumplings, steamed char siu bao and egg custard tarts.

We ended up wandering around trying to decide on dinner that evening when my wife stated she wanted to eat some pizza. No idea where that came from, but ok. We ended up at Ciao, again in Yorkville where she enjoyed a nice pizza and I had the fresh pappardelle with lamb ragu. A surprisingly good meal, totally unexpected.

The next morning was raining and a bit chilly, more in keeping with the weather we expected. The choice was walk 10 minutes in the rain to Sunset Grill or half a block to Over Easy. Over Easy turned out to be a good choice. Hot coffee in a nice container, followed by French toast on challah bread and smoked meat hash with poached eggs. Both were delicious and well done, a great breakfast spot.

Our final meal was at Chiado and was the best meal of our entire trip. We started with the complimentary bread and olives, followed by a nice salad of crisp mixed greens. My wife ordered the grilled dorado on a bed of spinach with lemon risotto. I had the grilled grouper with a saffron tomato risotto. Both dishes were excellent, beautifully presented and delicious. The dorado was meatly, oily with a nice crispy skin. My grouper was moist and flavorful, some of the best fish we've had in a long time. Definitely worth a return visit.

Thanks to all of you for your help in answering my questions while planning our trip. We had a great time and ate very well.

  1. prima Jun 5, 2013 06:24 AM

    Nice trip report.
    Good to hear the grouper was good at Chiado.

    1. Davwud May 19, 2013 08:03 AM

      Thanks George

      I've always loved how people come visit, report back that they had a great eating experience and all us Torontonians can do is talk about how lousy the food is in this city.


      10 Replies
      1. re: Davwud
        ragged25 May 29, 2013 01:00 PM

        Great report curiousgeo, I'm glad you enjoyed your time in Toronto.

        Davwud: I just came back from a trip to Paris, Athens, Santorini and Istanbul and by the end of the trip, I realized that us Torontonians have it pretty good in terms of food. I don't know whether it's because our restaurants don't get the exposure or media attention, but we sometime take our restaurants for granted.

        I went for lunch at Spring in Paris and it was a great lunch but it was 117 euros for 2 with just one glass of wine. Spring was featured in NY Times and has garnered great reviews on chowhound and other sources and it required reservations a month in advance. All things taken into consideration, my wife and I felt like better food can be had for less here in Toronto.

        So I do agree with you, we need to appreciate what some of the chefs are doing here in Toronto and enjoy, we have it good and we don't even know it!

        1. re: ragged25
          estufarian May 29, 2013 01:58 PM

          I agree with you on Spring. I think the reviews are complimentary because good English (American?) is spoken and it resembles a Californian resto.
          The big thing other cities have over us is the wine pricing. I've been able to buy wine in 3* restaurants in France (including tax and tip) for less than it retails for here. Plus they often have some age (10 or more years) whereas here wine tends to be the most recent vintage (some exceptions on vintage but NONE on price!).
          So food is a good deal (and often comparable) here, but DINING is completely different.

          1. re: estufarian
            ragged25 May 29, 2013 04:22 PM

            Good point estufarian, when you take the dining experience as a whole, other cities are definitely more refined and a notch above.

            I think where Toronto excels and people don't really realize is that we are so diverse and have a wide spectrum of ethnic expertise throughout the city. Pretty much any style of cuisine is well represented and easily accessible and very authentic.

            I just came back from Istanbul/Greece and was craving some baklava and those cravings were satisfied by a quick visit to Patisserie Royale and I actually prefer them over ones I had there. Different styles i know as Royales are more middle eastern style but nonetheless baklava.

            And the Turkish delight we brought back are available at Highland Farms apparently lol.

            1. re: ragged25
              prima Jun 5, 2013 06:21 AM

              If you like syrupy Greek-style Baklava, Select and Serano Bakeries serve reasonably good versions. I usually get the bite-sized baklava or the deep-dish baklava at Serano. Both bakeries also sell Turkish delight (loukoumi) that is made in the bakery. http://www.seranobakery.com/website/index.htm

              The Hazer Baba brand of packaged Turkish Delight , that's sold everywhere in Turkey, and at Highland Farms, is also found at various shops on the Danforth (Burak at 982 Danforth http://www.blogto.com/grocery/burak-d... as well as some Greek stores), at Marche Istanbul, at Ararat on Avenue Road, and sometimes at Winners, if I recall correctly.

          2. re: ragged25
            Davwud May 29, 2013 02:29 PM

            "we sometime take our restaurants for granted"

            Replace restaurants with anything and you have a typical Torontonian.


            1. re: Davwud
              trombasteve May 29, 2013 03:00 PM

              I get pissed off by people relentlessly making anything and everything here out to be bad, but I think it's going a bit far to say that's typical.

              I think it would be more accurate to say - the annoying ones also happen to be the loudest and the most (questionably, often) self-assured.

              1. re: trombasteve
                Davwud May 29, 2013 03:08 PM

                Well I tend to disagree in principal I can wholeheartedly agree that those who know the least most assuredly know it the loudest.


              2. re: Davwud
                radiopolitic May 29, 2013 03:56 PM

                + infinity

                :( sadly

              3. re: ragged25
                radiopolitic May 29, 2013 03:56 PM

                Just out of curiosity where did you go in Istanbul and Athens?

                1. re: radiopolitic
                  ragged25 Jun 4, 2013 08:21 PM

                  We were in Santorini and Athens and ate generally at smaller tavernas. We tried to stay away from tourist traps and in general had good meals. In Santorini, we ate at Salt and Pepper and Naoussa and had great meals at reasonably prices. Both had great reviews on Tripadvisor. In Istanbul we had a great meal at Imbat, again great meal at very reasonably prices.

                  As the OP's post, I'm very used to the diversity of Toronto and it's something I love and so should the rest of us Torontonians.

            2. redhead May 16, 2013 04:23 PM

              Great report! Thanks. Had forgotten about Chiado, but sounds like it is worth a visit!

              1. t
                TeacherFoodie May 16, 2013 03:11 PM

                Glad you enjoyed your trip and thanks for reporting back. I went to Chiado a few years ago and loved every part of the meal there. Great choice.

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