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Using TTC from Don Mills & Sheppard - HELP.

estufarian Sep 12, 2013 11:22 AM

I have a recurring commitment that will leave me at Don Mills & Sheppard around 6:00 in the evening (without a car) and hope to hit some chow-worthy places for solo dining (not take-out).
Not interested in Burgers or Sushi - what's interesting that I can reach relatively easily by TTC from that starting point and that isn't readily available downtown (my usual haunts)?
Searching that location on Chowhound suggests it's a wasteland!
Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. KhaoSanRoad RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 11:41 AM

    origin north?

    i happen to be in the area right now, with car. but unfortunatwly wont be at 6pm. (ive opted for a la carte at taros)

    - khao san road

    5 Replies
    1. re: KhaoSanRoad
      estufarian RE: KhaoSanRoad Sep 12, 2013 12:31 PM

      Actually had an exceptional meal at the original Origin last week (best since they first opened) - so a definite possibility to compare - Thanks.

      1. re: estufarian
        estufarian RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 05:43 PM

        Indeed did make it there tonight.

        This is obviously the logical place to respond, but if a separate thread pops up I’ll copy this over.

        First it was a pretty good start to my 3 months of scouring the area. However, because I was at the original Origin last week, the comparison is ‘interesting’.

        Totally different feel.

        Downtown is noisy, bustling with an excitement, and the food was very good with a competent wine list. Service is professional (for the most part). Bare brick walls seem to enhance the noise.

        Origin North is sedate, modern, much quieter (dare I say ‘suburban’) and the clientele skews much older. Service is enthusiastic, but unpolished. Servers/workers here are much younger than downtown. Ceiling baffles muffle the noise.

        Open kitchens at both places, although downtown is at the centre of the action so one can interact with the food preparers. North has the kitchen off to the side, with the Mozzarella bar also to the side. Interaction with the kitchen is difficult.

        Wine list is fairly different. Downtown I narrowed my choice down to 3 bottles, which I discussed with the server. North didn’t have a single wine that I thought matched the food (not totally fair, a bubbly would work, but the one I liked wasn’t available by-the-glass). So major difference there.
        Food up North is very similar to downtown but a few dishes were missing (although most, perhaps all, North dishes were available downtown).

        So, if I was equidistant from both I’d choose downtown – although North is certainly competent; just lacks a bit of WOW! Factor.

        I was asked how I’d enjoyed my dishes and pointed out some minor issues (I only had one dish in common, so not a totally fair comparison, except that one dish in common had a tortilla (at North) that was dried out at the edge – although no problem with flavour). I also commented on the less-than-exciting wine list and it was confirmed that the list was compiled differently for North as they served different demographics (my shorthand, not their words). That seems fair enough – the purpose must be to make a profit, and it makes sense to offer stuff that turns over.

        HOWEVER (and the capitals are now going to be underlined) it’s apparent that the menu is substantially identical (missing a few items), so I’m now wondering why a menu can be transferred relatively unscathed, but a wine list can’t. (I didn’t compare the cocktails – don’t know if they changed). Is this some social behaviour which I was totally unaware of? Of course it’s Claudio Aprile’s money, so my thoughts are purely academic – I’m not risking anything.

        And one other strange ‘thought’. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get there so I checked available reservation times on Open Table. I could get either 6:15pm or 7:00pm (but no other interim or earlier times). It turned out that 6:15 was about right, and the place was maybe 5-10% occupied when I arrived and marginally busier at 6:30 and 6:45 – certainly below 25% occupancy. So why no other reservations available before 7:00 (incidentally about 70% occupied at 7:00)? If I had been a bit later I might well have skipped Origin North altogether, as I rarely have the inclination to wait for a seat (ironically one of the few is Khao San Road who made this suggestion). Exactly what is the point of ‘suggesting’ that there is limited/no availability?

        And, despite the above, I’ll be happy if future places are as good as Origin North.

        1. re: estufarian
          Googs RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 05:56 PM

          About the wine, I think restaurateurs are still getting used to the shifting demographics out this way. I'm often forced to order flavourless pinot grigio because at least I can't taste the factory. If I owned a place, I'd think people out here sure must love pinot grigio. I have hope it'll change with enough demand. Please, for the sake of all of us, keep bugging Origin North.

          Pataki's comparison:

          1. re: Googs
            estufarian RE: Googs Sep 12, 2013 06:09 PM

            Hadn't seen that!
            “People who understand modern cuisine and what’s happening in the world of progressive cooking are excited by it. Those who don’t think it’s smoke and mirrors and a gimmick.”
            It's a gimmick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
            So I guess I don't understand modern cuisine! Or exactly where the mirrors fit in.

            But I do understand that wine is an important component of a meal (strangely no mention of that by Pataki). But then Claudio wouldn't allow corkage for wines at Colborne Lane (to non-preferential customers) - and that was my main reason for avoiding that too.

            I actually think Claudio does a much better job at Origin than he ever did with modernist cuisine.
            FOR FULL DISCLOSURE: I did try a pinot grigio once.

      2. re: KhaoSanRoad
        syoung RE: KhaoSanRoad Sep 26, 2013 01:48 PM

        Definite NO to Origin North. Been there 2x, once for lunch and once for dinner. For lunch I had the Rigatoni pasta with chorizo. It was soaked with sauce that was overly salty. I could do better at home. For dinner, I had the Chinois Duck in crispy tortilla. It was OK at best, more sauce than duck, almost fast-food like. The only good dish was the Spicy Spanish Fries that we ordered on the side, but at $17, it's very pricey.

        Overall: Expensive sub-par food. Reviews on Urbanspoon and Yelp are negative and I agree. I won't be going back again anytime soon.

      3. Googs RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 12:13 PM

        Without burgers and sushi and assuming you wanna stay on the subway line, you're kinda beat.

        If you don't mind the bus, the closest thing to a chow-ish experience you'll get around there is take the Don Mills bus to Lawrence, go to the Shops at Don Mills, don't eat there, keep walking until you hit Congee Queen. However, there are those who like some of the Shops at Don Mills restaurants, so don't take my word for it.

        15 Replies
        1. re: Googs
          KAYLO RE: Googs Sep 12, 2013 12:22 PM

          Congee Queen behind shopsatdonmills IS excellent, but perhaps not so different from what you can get elsewhere. My preferred shopsatdonmills bite is Mark McEwan's Fabbrica, but again, your favorite artisanal pizzeria/informal Italian downtown is just as good. But hey, if 6:00 pm is dinnertime, ya gotta eat!

          There are a zillion Korean places north of Yonge and Sheppard, hence easy by subway and likely where you'll be changing to come downtown, and perhaps one of the North Yorkers can suggest a favourite? I've been meaning to eat my way through that strip myself.....

          1. re: KAYLO
            estufarian RE: KAYLO Sep 12, 2013 12:39 PM

            Don't like Fabbrica (although meets my criteria). Find it overpriced and I have a vicious reaction to the overpowering perfumes worn by the host(es)s!
            But agree that it could be time to give this one more try - a long time since I've been.

            I've exhausted the Korean strip too. The same commitment used to leave me at Yonge/Finch, but with the traffic tie-ups North of Sheppard we've switched to Don Mills this season. (Not trying to be mysterious here - I drive the car up and hand it over there for AmuseGirls trip to Markham - but it's not chow related).

            1. re: estufarian
              prima RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 01:42 PM

              Have you dined at Linda lately? The prix fixe is a good option when dining solo.
              Island Foods is also on the Don Mills bus route.
              Peking Man is on Sheppard near Leslie. I've never been, but it had been on my wishlist for Peking Duck iirc several years ago. Might be a decent option for the area, on the subway line (although it's probably still a bit of a walk from Bessarion).

              1. re: prima
                estufarian RE: prima Sep 12, 2013 05:45 PM

                Linda is definitely on my list for one future night. I'll look up Island Foods - for some reason I'd assumed it was take-out.

                1. re: estufarian
                  prima RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 07:07 PM

                  Island Foods on Don Mills has a fast food- style atmosphere, with several tables.

                  I prefer the roti at the Mr.Jerk in the Peanut Plaza north of Sheppard, but Mr. Jerk is a take-out only. Mr Jerk's goat roti is the best goat roti I've tried in TO.

                  1. re: prima
                    estufarian RE: prima Sep 13, 2013 07:28 AM

                    Island Foods now added to the list.
                    There's a Mr. Jerk on Wellesley (? same ownership) which I can walk to from home, so probably won't try the Peanut one.

          2. re: Googs
            estufarian RE: Googs Sep 12, 2013 12:32 PM

            I'd already considered Congee Queen - problem is that as a single diner I can only try 1 or 2 dishes - prefer to go with a group. But certainly a fall-back.

            1. re: estufarian
              KhaoSanRoad RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 01:24 PM

              congee queen has dropped significantly in quality over the past 2 years

              - khao san road

              1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                Googs RE: KhaoSanRoad Sep 12, 2013 02:07 PM

                I hadn't noticed a quality drop, but maybe I've been lucky. It's been good for me.

                estufarian, I've been able to get CQ to downsize a dish to make room for more. Specifically, the House Superbowl Congee which, in it's original size, is enough for an entire family or Mormons. If you ask nicely, they can be pretty accommodating.

                1. re: Googs
                  estufarian RE: Googs Sep 12, 2013 05:46 PM

                  Still think I'll hedge my bets there, and go with a larger group. IMO the hot and sour soup no longer stands out - and that was the original dish that drew me there.

            2. re: Googs
              KitchenVoodoo RE: Googs Sep 12, 2013 10:03 PM

              I hang my head in shame for once again, on my hungry way back from work, buying exorbitantly priced BAD food from Mcewan. I very much doubt that he ever tastes the rubbish that is being churned out in his take away food section. $12.99 for shrimp dumplings - zero flavour except for the very obvious "off" taste - we threw them away and had to gargle the bad taste away! Even the cat fled, the odour was so vile!
              In a previous post I ranted about Mcewan's so called lamb curry - no spices whatsoever, and gross mouthful after mouthful of gelatinous fat and tough goat meat. ($15)
              As for P.F. Changs - don't get me started - if you like everything saturated with sugar, go there, and drop a LOT of money for something you could whip up at home. (Crispy beef & steamed rice $30). Ambulance ride for diabetes emergency $40!
              Same with Linda's - appalling sugary ketchup loaded Pad Thai.
              Perhaps the uber wealthy Bridle Path folks like sweetness in everything they eat. How else to explain why these dreadful places keep operating?

              1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                prima RE: KitchenVoodoo Sep 12, 2013 11:38 PM

                Crispy beef and pad thai are almost always sweet, greasy dishes. That's why a lot of people order them, and that's why what you ordered was saturated with sugar. If you ordered other dishes at Linda or PF Changs, they wouldn't have been so sweet.

                I like the soups, curries and Thai Islamic noodles at Linda.

                1. re: prima
                  syoung RE: prima Oct 27, 2013 02:59 PM

                  Agree 100% with KitchenVoodoo!

                  PF Chang is to Chinese food what Olive Garden is to Italian food. Over-priced and over-processed and some dishes aren't even Chinese food. I'm surprised there's no Chop Suey on the menu. Enough said.

                  I disagree that pad thai is almost always sweet and greasy, or as KitchenVoodoo put it, "appalling sugary ketchup." This concoction is not real pad thai.

                  Also, Linda is not 100% true Thai food anymore. Their ingredients are more like Thai-Chinese fusion, which I guess makes some sense since the owner is Chinese. If you want good real Thai food, go downtown to Mengrai Thai.

                  1. re: syoung
                    prima RE: syoung Oct 27, 2013 06:44 PM

                    Most Pad Thais I have ordered in North America have been sweet and greasy. I haven't had Pad Thai in Thailand, and I don't plan to visit Thailand any time soon, but I've tried around 3 dozen different Pad Thais over the last 20 years, and most have been a good source of oil, sodium and sugar. Fried noodles are bound to be on the greasy side.

                    Linda has always had a Chinese chef, and I like the food he creates, whether it's Thai, Thai-by-a-Chinese-chef or fusion. Linda and its free parking are way more convenient for me than Mengrai, so I'm much more likely to dine at Linda than Mengrai.

                    When I want Thai food downtown, I head to Sabai Sabai or KSR.

                    I don't expect to find 100% true Thai food anywhere in Toronto, and I wouldn't recognize 100% true Thai food anyways, since I've only eaten Thai food made for people living in North America. I'm happy with what I order at Linda, Sabai Sabai and KSR.

                2. re: KitchenVoodoo
                  pakmode RE: KitchenVoodoo Sep 13, 2013 01:53 PM

                  You should have returned the item back to McEwan's. They take this pretty seriously and are pretty good about their customer service.

              2. t
                tochowchick RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 01:16 PM

                You could take the Don Mills bus south and get off south of Eglinton and go to Caribbean Palms in the Flemingdon Park plaza and get some decent roti and/or jerk chicken...or continue on and get off after the bus turns onto Overlea at Thorncliffe Park Dr and go to Bamiyan for some Afghan food...quite yummy...

                17 Replies
                1. re: tochowchick
                  juno RE: tochowchick Sep 12, 2013 02:20 PM

                  My, but that's one helluva shlep from Don Mills and Sheppard by bus down to Flemingdon Park. In my view, a decent roti just ain't worth it. More efficiently, your best bet is the aforementioned Origin North, a stand-alone in the parking lot of Bayview Village, at Bayview and Sheppard. Then you could hop the subway home. As I've never been to the place - the prices scare me off - I'm waiting for some kamikaze pilot to test-drive it for me to see if it's actually worth it. Care to test-drive?

                  Less efficiently, there's the new Peruvian resto, Pisco, on Yonge St., where I've also never been but which several friends insist is pretty good, even very good. A Peruvian resto with tablecloths yet! They're clearly going for the fine dining crowd, though the prices don't seem too, too fierce. There's a menu online. I'd get off at the Lawrence subway stop and stroll up Yonge St. for a few blocks. It's close to the barbecue joint Stack.

                  If Congee Queen's quality has dropped in the past couple of years, I haven't noticed it in the dishes I usually order. But like you, I agree that Chinese joints are not places to go alone. You need a crowd (or at least a hungry AmuseGirl). Still a pretty damn good hot and sour soup.

                  1. re: juno
                    estufarian RE: juno Sep 12, 2013 05:50 PM

                    I looked at the menu at Pisco when I was early meeting AmuseGirl for dinner at Stack recently.
                    Looked interesting BUT the prices scared me away. Am waiting for someone else to fire the golden bullet on that one!
                    (and note my comment above on the soup).

                    1. re: estufarian
                      juno RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 08:04 PM

                      It turns out that you were wise to shy away from Pisco. I, however, wasn't so wise, because I was lured there tonight by a friend who'd already been there several times, and praised it heavily. This night, though, we were mightily underwhelmed. It's a handsome resto, but the menu, as my surprised friend noted, had been heavily edited since the joint opened a few months ago. Just five starters and five mains. Gone were some of the classic Peruvian dishes, like lomo saltado. A stiff jolt for the starters - a couple of them were up there in main-price territory. And the mains? Stewy-type things. Mine was lamb, my friend's was fish, neither particularly distinctive (considering the price). Only one other table occupied. Maybe the locals know something I don't. Kinda depressing. I'll give it a pass till someone tells me the menu offers more choice. The pisco sour cocktail was tasty, though. It was just about the only thing that told me I was in a Peruvian restaurant.

                      1. re: juno
                        estufarian RE: juno Sep 13, 2013 06:53 AM

                        Thank you for taking the bullet.
                        The whole 'feel' didn't seem right, so maybe there is a sixth sense (and I don't mean umami).

                        1. re: juno
                          warlock RE: juno Sep 15, 2013 06:17 AM

                          thanks for taking the bullet Juno....whoa...Peruvian with no lomo saltado is almost blasphemous .....

                          1. re: warlock
                            TorontoJo RE: warlock Sep 15, 2013 06:53 AM

                            Agreed. And when they did have lomo saltado on the menu, they were charging $25 for it, which is exactly why I never went myself. If you're looking for a decent lomo saltado, the Peruvian vendor at the food court at Plaza Latina (9 Milvan) has a tasty version for around $12 (I think).

                    2. re: tochowchick
                      estufarian RE: tochowchick Sep 12, 2013 05:47 PM

                      Last time at Bamiyan wasn't that great - it's closer to my home anyway. I now go to Faley's in the same plaza.

                      1. re: estufarian
                        hal2010 RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 08:38 PM

                        Maybe I didn't order the best things at Faley but I found it all to be heavy, deep-fried stuff in super-salty gloopy sauces with all the subtlety of flavour of KFC. After eating it I asked myself if perhaps I just don't like Hakka cuisine.

                        1. re: hal2010
                          KitchenVoodoo RE: hal2010 Sep 12, 2013 10:17 PM

                          Oh I feel sorry for you, I too ordered from Faley, seriously lovely people but they must have dumped a kilo of sugar into my crispy beef! Inedible! And deep fried in thick coating.

                          1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                            estufarian RE: KitchenVoodoo Sep 13, 2013 07:01 AM

                            I agree about that dish. Soaked in sugar.
                            My favourite dish right now (last week) was the Spicy Indian Fish appetizer.
                            Because many of the dishes have that chili-red colour (and spicing) we tend to stray (culinarily) a bit so had an excellent Singapore Rice Noodles (with Chicken & shrimp).
                            And (as I mentioned on the main Faley thread) if you pay $1 extra you get wok-fried (as opposed to deep fried) on any dish.

                          2. re: hal2010
                            Googs RE: hal2010 Sep 13, 2013 08:41 AM

                            See, to me that's just Hakka food. Heavy, salty, spicy, goopy, greasy, and cheap. I don't get the appeal.

                          3. re: estufarian
                            KhaoSanRoad RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 10:23 PM

                            i hit faley a couple days ago for lunch. had the chili chicken dry, the ginger chicken and the crispy beef.

                            chili chicken was good but salt, the ginger chicken wasnt to my taste but maybe very well "hakka". the ginger beef was ok.

                            - khao san road

                            1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                              KhaoSanRoad RE: KhaoSanRoad Sep 13, 2013 06:32 AM

                              edit: i meant crispy beef not ginger beef.

                              - khao san road

                            2. re: estufarian
                              disgusti RE: estufarian Sep 13, 2013 06:15 AM

                              Yeah faley was going to be my recommendation for that area even tho it's not really that close. Faley is awesome don mills sucks

                              Surprised to hear that you guys found the food sugary - the chili chicken and the crispy beef were both great while I found the ginger beef lacking, but nothing overtly sugary really. Either way it's not quite as good as Lin garden but if I'm in that area I'd definitely continue to fuck with it

                              1. re: disgusti
                                estufarian RE: disgusti Sep 13, 2013 07:03 AM

                                I prefer it to Lin Garden.
                                At Lin Garden I only seem to get 'hot' or 'not' - nothing in-between.
                                However both use better quality ingredients than most low-end competitors (in particular, the shrimp at Faley have excellent texture).

                              2. re: estufarian
                                pakmode RE: estufarian Sep 13, 2013 01:55 PM

                                I actually prefer the new Afghani restaurant that has opened up beside Bamiyan, in the old Raby's and Country Style Donuts location.

                                I think it's called Afghan Express.

                                1. re: pakmode
                                  estufarian RE: pakmode Sep 13, 2013 02:45 PM

                                  Haven't tried that.
                                  When I went to Faley's last week I looked in and it was empty. Bamiyan Kabob was pretty busy. That message didn't encourage me to give it a try.

                            3. estufarian RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 05:54 PM

                              On my drive up to Fairview to drop off the car, I noticed Casa Manila, on York Mills, just west of Don Mills.
                              Has anyone tried this - a Chowhound search doesn't help - except to confirm it's been there for 5 years, without anyone giving a detailed review (2 comments: One says 'fatty'; the other says best Filipino in Toronto).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: estufarian
                                KhaoSanRoad RE: estufarian Sep 12, 2013 10:28 PM

                                ive been to casa manilla many times. its ok for the price point. but ive had much better (full disclosure: we have a few top notch filipino cooks on our team). i prefer a small takeout shop on overlea.

                                - khao san road

                              2. KhaoSanRoad RE: estufarian Sep 13, 2013 06:42 AM

                                not sure if it still exists, but there was an excellent szechuan place in the plaza at midland and sheppard. is that within your ttc range?

                                the pinoy place i mentioned earlier is in a plaza with a subway. its only a buffet counter so dont expect dine in. but the stews are quite good there. not sure their operating hours either.

                                - khao san road

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                                  estufarian RE: KhaoSanRoad Sep 13, 2013 07:21 AM

                                  Bus straight along Sheppard (and back) makes it easy. The downtown Szechuan have been disappointing (R.I.P. Peter and the various incarnations of his mentor, Paul).
                                  Last good Szechuan meal I had was at Szechuan Gourmet at Steeles & Bathurst.
                                  Can you (or anyone else) recall a name of the place at Midland?

                                  I might even try that next - if I strike out, I can still continue along to Brimley for Malaysia Gourmet - a long-time favourite.

                                  And I'm not averse to eating at a counter (as opposed to 'dine-in') but I tend to avoid food that is served from steam tables. Occasionally it's OK, but more commonly the steam wilts everything to the same texture - a turn-off for me. And I NEVER order chicken from a steam table - the CDC in Atlanta don't need me as a repeat customer.

                                2. KhaoSanRoad RE: estufarian Sep 13, 2013 06:50 AM

                                  is warden and finch close enough for you? nanthas is good food, but again no dining room.

                                  - khao san road

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: KhaoSanRoad
                                    estufarian RE: KhaoSanRoad Sep 13, 2013 07:58 AM

                                    The original criteria suggested 'not available downtown'.
                                    I can think of one (at least) Thai place downtown that is probably better.

                                  2. j
                                    julesrules RE: estufarian Sep 13, 2013 07:13 AM

                                    Mr Jerk in the Peanut Plaza for takeaway jerk pork. You can eat it on the subway ;)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: julesrules
                                      estufarian RE: julesrules Sep 13, 2013 07:55 AM

                                      Already ruled out (see response to Prima). And if I'm eating on the subway I can take my own food with me!

                                    2. g
                                      garfield RE: estufarian Sep 14, 2013 02:31 PM

                                      There is an ikbal kabab at Parkway Forest - 5 mins walk from Fairview Mall.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: garfield
                                        estufarian RE: garfield Sep 15, 2013 11:38 AM

                                        Thanks - I regularly shop at the Thorncliffe Iqbal (although the restaurant is patchy), but still worth a visit to this one.

                                        1. re: estufarian
                                          estufarian RE: estufarian Dec 26, 2013 03:16 PM

                                          I've now visited this one - thanks would never have known it existed without your post.
                                          Definitely a step above the food court at Fairview, so a real alternative. However, strictly a neighbourhood place, with competent food - and fairly priced.

                                      2. syoung RE: estufarian Sep 14, 2013 08:16 PM

                                        There's a place on York Mills between Don Mills & Leslie (in the same plaza where you have a Longos, McDonalds and LCBO) called "via Cibo" serving Italian food cafeteria style dining but the food is quite decent. There website is at http://www.viacibo.com/. It's surprisingly good.

                                        To get there from Don Mills/Sheppard, you take the subway to Leslie station and then take the Leslie 51 bus south to York Mills.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: syoung
                                          smfan RE: syoung Sep 15, 2013 07:00 AM

                                          It will be easier to take 25 south change to 95 local westbound at York Mills.

                                          1. re: syoung
                                            estufarian RE: syoung Sep 15, 2013 11:40 AM

                                            May be worth a visit. I have an aversion to tomatoes, so tend to avoid 'home-style' Italian (but am fine with Northern dishes).
                                            So now on my 'reserve list' after I've tried some others.

                                            1. re: estufarian
                                              juno RE: estufarian Sep 15, 2013 01:51 PM

                                              If you go to Via Cibo, there are enough dishes - mostly sandwiches, but also pastas, pizzas and and such - without tomatoes that will allow the tomato-averse to survive an outing there. And because they make everything pretty much from scratch, you can, I suppose, always ask them to hold the tomatoes in any one dish. Despite its dreary strip mall setting, Via Cibo is - as syoung suggests - quite decent, perhaps even better than that. A cross between a cafeteria and a chic, well-designed sit-down Italian eatery. You order at the counter, take a seat - and, after five-10 minutes - they bring it to you. Comfortable seating, and - for the single diner - a long communal counter. Because it's an all-day menu, it's rather expensive for a quick lunch - you won't get much change from $20 - but ideal for a casual light-ish dinner. The average main is about $12, sides at about $4. Fresh ingredients, good service, nice presentation - and tasty. Unlike many fast-food joints - and Via Cibo is essentially fast food - you get real cutlery and tableware. Some beers on tap and in bottle, and a few basic wines by the glass and half-litre. I'd lean towards Via Cibo over many of the sit-down, overpriced Italian dives along Yonge St. north of Lawrence Ave.

                                              1. re: juno
                                                estufarian RE: juno Sep 15, 2013 07:51 PM

                                                Thank you - it's moved up the list.

                                                1. re: estufarian
                                                  estufarian RE: estufarian Oct 25, 2013 02:40 PM

                                                  Thanks to all of you for mentioning Via Cibo. Honestly I wouldn't ever have gone in there without your suggestion. Not only was it easy to get to (and home from) but the food was excellent, place was clean, service was friendly and I'll DEFINITELY return.
                                                  Yes, price is a little high in 'fast food' terms, but the value is certainly delivered.
                                                  All the food is cooked 'fresh upon ordering' i.e. no steam table (although clearly the proteins must have been pre-prepared and then chilled). I had the veal shortrib off-the-bone, which was pan-heated while the other ingredients were being freshly prepared. The salad was mixed AFTER ordering and the grana padano was shaved on just before serving. The Tuscan fries also had last-second shaving of the grana padano.
                                                  I found the layout a little strange - one orders the food right at the start of the line (from an overhead menu) and proceeds past the open cooking line (no need to stop there) right through to the beverage ordering register (very simple as all beers are same price, all wines are same price and 'specialty' coffees are same price). One also pays there and a dessert upsale is attempted (politely), then shortly after your meal is delivered by a server.
                                                  I initially wondered why the two registers, but then realized the food is being cooked while you are ordering the desserts/beverages/payment so it will be delivered shortly after one is seated.
                                                  Thus, take-out speed in a finer environment.
                                                  And the food was very good - actually excellent when one figures in price.
                                                  This was a wonderful discovery - thanks for the suggestion - my loyalty to Chowhound is renewed.
                                                  And how can I post without one criticism? I found the dessert choices boring. Mostly chocolate based with only a raspberry cheesecake for variety. Given the wonderful selection of harvest fruits available now I would loved to have a choice of apple or pear dish available. But a minor quibble - they just missed an opportunity to take more of my money.

                                                  1. re: estufarian
                                                    Googs RE: estufarian Oct 26, 2013 08:34 AM

                                                    In addition to just about every other food publication, there was this from The Star in July:

                                                    1. re: Googs
                                                      estufarian RE: Googs Oct 26, 2013 10:53 AM

                                                      Through experience I have learned to ignore Toronto Star recommendations (although this seems to be more of a financial article than a food and wine article - despite its heading).
                                                      At the same time I have learned to respect Chowhound recommendations (mostly).

                                                      And reading that it cost $3 million to develop a sandwich that is priced at $12, makes me question many things (including the accuracy of the report!).

                                                      1. re: estufarian
                                                        TorontoJo RE: estufarian Dec 26, 2013 05:43 AM

                                                        Another follow up in The Star about Via Cibo:


                                                        1. re: TorontoJo
                                                          estufarian RE: TorontoJo Dec 26, 2013 03:20 PM

                                                          Not sure that I believe that article 'fully'. But do maintain that it's the best place I've found of all the places I've tried (as a result of this request).
                                                          Still, have to admit that recently I've taken the subway along Sheppard (of course not in the past week) and am hitting Yonge St places. Most recently tried Estrella on Yonge N of Sheppard. It's really a bar, rather than restaurant, but the food was better than that in most pubs that I've tried.

                                                          1. re: estufarian
                                                            juno RE: estufarian Dec 28, 2013 08:37 AM

                                                            Via Cibo is a solid choice for modest mid-level dining - I've been there a number of times since I last posted on this thread - if you don't mind the cafeteria (though agreed, it's an upscale cafeteria) setting. Never been disappointed. But also agreed, that piece in the Star was kinda lame, the kind of article you get around Christmas time, when good copy editors take vacation time and aren't around to ride herd on naive feature writers who can't properly articulate.

                                          2. b
                                            bsv RE: estufarian Sep 14, 2013 08:45 PM

                                            At peanut near where the Mr.jerk is is a fish and chips place.
                                            Try the shrimp and chips with gravy (personally I like getting the gravy on the fries)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bsv
                                              estufarian RE: bsv Sep 15, 2013 11:45 AM

                                              Is this (Harbour Fish & Chips) eat-in or take-out?
                                              I'm guessing the shrimp are breaded (and I prefer my fries without gravy, but that's easy to order, so not a criticism).

                                              1. re: estufarian
                                                bsv RE: estufarian Sep 18, 2013 08:52 AM

                                                Mostly take out but I think they do have one table and chair, if you want to eat in.
                                                Yes, breaded shrimp and the fish is good too.
                                                I believe they make everything in house then freeze it to fry right.

                                            2. estufarian RE: estufarian Oct 18, 2013 03:59 PM

                                              Both an update and a bump.

                                              After trying Island Foods (not bad; steam table which usually destroys texture, but I had the Oxtail stew, which was tasty and relatively unaffected – although the vegetables were certainly overdone for my taste), I now realize that the ‘South on Don Mills Road’ route is very time consuming. I could essentially take the subway to the Yonge Line at Sheppard and choose anywhere on the north/south route and take less time overall. Or take the 25 bus to Pape for almost the same commuting time, and stop off at Folia Grill – which sort of confounds the criterion of starting at Don Mills & Sheppard.

                                              North on Don Mills only seems to be takeout (or at most 1-2 tables) so not promising.

                                              West along Sheppard includes Bayview village, and Origin North is not as good as the downtown one.

                                              Given that my original objective was to explore places in the area around Don Mills & Sheppard, that seems to only leave Sheppard EAST of Don Mills as prime territory. Anywhere there would be much faster than a commute from my midtown location. So can I ask people what there is along that routing?

                                              A Szechuan place was hinted at (? Name) and there is certainly Gourmet Malaysia. Any other recommendations?

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: estufarian
                                                T Long RE: estufarian Oct 18, 2013 04:15 PM

                                                Michi Cafe @ Pharmacy & Sheppard. Closer than Bayview Village.

                                                1. re: T Long
                                                  estufarian RE: T Long Oct 19, 2013 03:54 AM

                                                  Thanks - how extensive is their 'non-sushi' menu (can't find menu on-line)?
                                                  My original request specified 'not Burgers or Sushi' but if they offer some other Japanese dishes I'd certainly be interested.

                                                  1. re: estufarian
                                                    T Long RE: estufarian Oct 19, 2013 11:04 AM

                                                    I don't think their non-sushi menu would be considered extensive. However my spouse (non-sushi lover) happily accompanies me when dining there and always finds something to her liking. A Japanese curry comes to mind, but hopefully someone else more observant will chime in. This is the place that offers a selection of cakes with their set menus. Sorry about not picking up on your earlier "no Sushi" comment....

                                                    This link may help: http://www.foodspotting.com/places/80...

                                                2. re: estufarian
                                                  estufarian RE: estufarian Nov 4, 2013 12:48 PM

                                                  An update - made it to Gourmet Malaysia last week, but my worst meal ever there.
                                                  ALL the dishes seemed sweet and the Mee Goreng also tasted of tomatoes - could it be they're now using ketchup in this (and other) dishes?

                                                3. m
                                                  mrsyumyum RE: estufarian Oct 19, 2013 06:30 AM

                                                  Too bad you say no sushi, because my top pick would be Taro's Fish House which is along the Sheppard line. I would say the best options would be if you do not mind taking the bus hit up Shops on Don Mills for Bier Market or Joeys or subway to Yonge/Sheppard for Korean food like Joons

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: mrsyumyum
                                                    estufarian RE: mrsyumyum Oct 19, 2013 02:23 PM

                                                    I've already done all (most anyway) of the Korean places - a similar commitment left me at Finch and Yonge in the past - we've moved to Don Mills because of the road works on Yonge north of Finch.

                                                    And the Shops on Don Mills are just as easy for me from home, plus more time consuming than stopping anywhere on the Yonge subway line anyway.

                                                    Hence my desperation!
                                                    I have a feeling that Stack is going to see a lot of me!

                                                  2. justinisthebest RE: estufarian Oct 26, 2013 09:37 AM

                                                    if you're into Jamaican food, the jerk pork at Mr. Jerk in the Peanut Plaza is the best I've ever had in Toronto.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: justinisthebest
                                                      estufarian RE: justinisthebest Oct 26, 2013 10:55 AM

                                                      Thanks - but as indicated above in the thread, I'm not interested in take-out (especially in Fall weather), plus I live within walking distance of the Wellesley Mr. Jerk.

                                                    2. Full tummy RE: estufarian Dec 26, 2013 07:05 PM

                                                      I pretty much read through the posts but didn't see anyone recommending Galleria. It's in the plaza on the south side of York Mills just west of Don Mills. There's a buffet area with plenty of seating, where you pay by weight of the food. And there are a variety of other items in the take out area that you could also eat in the seating area around the buffet. I have never ordered a chicken here, but many Chowhounds have commented that the fried chicken (which must be ordered in advance by 1 hour, I think) is superb. That, some kimchi, and some steamed rice would make a great meal.

                                                      Oh, and you can get some groceries at the same time!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Full tummy
                                                        estufarian RE: Full tummy Dec 27, 2013 09:12 AM

                                                        Hadn't realized they had an 'eat-in' option.
                                                        I'll check it out.

                                                        1. re: estufarian
                                                          juno RE: estufarian Dec 28, 2013 08:45 AM

                                                          The Galleria Korean supermarket is kinda fun to wander through. And though I haven't tried the Korean fried chicken there - I have a favourite spot on north Yonge St. for that - I have tried a few other dishes on the cafeteria-style menu. Pretty good. But be aware that the seating area is very, very utilitarian. And not all that cheaper than a sit-down restaurant.

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