Trip from UK, need recs please
my husband and I will be travelling for 2 weeks in a kind of loop from NY through Boston, NH, Maine, Vermont and then probably into Canada from Kingston, stopping at Toronto and Niagara Falls, through Buffalo and back to NY. We have been though some of those places before but not Vermont Maine or NH. We are looking at a relaxed road trip. We like to eat interesting things, we are not looking for fancy restaurants, we are looking for one off type places that make you go "wow, aren't we lucky we know about this place". My husband has a thing about breakfast, is looking for scattered hashbrowns and sausage patties, is a huge fan of buffalo wings in hot sauce and adores BBQ. I will go 50 miles out of my way for an amazing chocolate brownie or in fact an amazing anything at all. We like Indian food and Vietnamese but can find those easily in London. We also like independent bars that have that trivia game 'Buzztime' if you know of a good one that we might pass by on our trip. Also interesting food markets or shops. We will appreciate all responses very much. If you think something is fun or tasty or interesting please do let us know. Thanks so much.
The home church of the Buffalo wing is the Anchor Bar on Main Street in Buffalo. BBQ is generally better in the US too, I have not been but have heard great stuff about Kentucky Greg's in Buffalo.
Toronto has a vast and diverse restaurant scene, your request is a bit vague, but we have a lot of interesting Chinese and Japanese restaurants if that interests you, with lots of chat in other posts. Niagara Falls is a challenge, but you may enjoy visiting a winery, there are many along the south shore of Lake Ontario between Grimsby and Niagara on the Lake (NOTL). They don't get a ton of press outside Ontario but some are excellent. Search this board for winery and/or NOTL.
Score me some Heady Topper or Hill Farmstead when in Maine and Vermont and we're friends for life!
So, first the bad news. your husband will be disappointed. BBQ is growing here, but it doesn't compare to US BBQ. Wings here generally suck, and the ones i love are atypical (OddSeoul does some of the best wings in the city, but they are asian style is honeygarlic sauce). old-school breakfast in Toronto? no clue.
Chocolate brownie - Sweet Escapes (Distillery) or Bobette&Belle?
Indian food - pass, esp if you're from the UK.
Vietnamese - lots of options, but you're better eating other food.
Buzztime at bars: to be polite, those tend to be the chain bars that are kind of, um, lame. not saying that your game is lame, but you'll see it at gross chains like East Side Marios and not at any of Toronto's must-see pubs or bars. just letting you know.
If in Toronto, stick to nationalities other than Vietnamese and Indian and you'll love it. there are a zillion threads of "I'm in Toronto for a week. Reco's?" on here and you'll see the same 20-30 resto names come up. start there and cater your choices based on your $$ and your tastes
I used to be a thoroughly addicted NTN player, and back in the day you could find it in some places that at least had character as dive bars but at this point in Toronto the only place for Buzztime that isn't a horrible chain fake English or Irish pub that is basically an insult to the idea of a proper pub is Occasion's Restaurant. It's in a residential neighbourhood in the east end. The food there is OK as a good local joint but nothing to travel across the city for.
You can't enter Canada at Kingston, you have to go a fair chunk further east to get a river crossing. I just advise you figure out a bit more about your route and be aware that Lake Champlain can get in your way. There are some really nice areas in the Adirondacks east of the lake but there are other bits of upstate New York you'll be passing through with a whole lot of nothing. Consider going North from Vermont to Montreal then turn east from there.
In Kingston there's a really good, family run Cambodian restaurant called Pat's
Between Kingston and Toronto there's an area called Prince Edward County, wine region, some interesting restaurants.
Your husband won't likely find US style sausage patties on this side of the border, in this country sausages come in links like over 'ome. In Toronto consider the breakfast at Rose and Sons, I think it will cover the right ground, then come back in the evening for BBQ in the back yard (called Old Crow) the BBQ snobs may turn up their noses but it's acceptable.
Amazing chocolate: Soma chocolate makers
Amazing variety: Kensington Market and Chinatown adjacent. Banh Mi Boys, Come and Get It, Jumbo Empanada, El Trompo, The Grilled Cheese, Wanda's Pie in the Sky, Fresco's Fish & Chips, Caplanskys Deli, etc.
Amazing variety II: St. Lawrence Market. Check hours of operation.
Amazing bar & food: Isabel's. Buzztime n/a.
Hashbrowns and sausage patties are more of a southern US thing. In the NE, we like home fries and sausage links. Even the sausage links vary from place to place.
I would recommend a visit to Kensington market for a nice walk around, and try some tacos, maybe at seven lives. or one of Toronto's somewhat famous burritos at big fat burrito (yam and steak is good).
if time permits a trip through Scarborough (if you are coming from Kingston) to lawrence east. and a shawarma at Ibrahim's or Shawarma Empire, is among the best in the city. Also Eglinton east. you can try good south Indian/sri lankan at Anjappar chettinad and have a good Ghee Masala paper roast dosa.
A strong second for Soma Chocolate in the Distillery district ,which is an attraction in itself. We usually have a sorbet /gelato tasting on site, and carry about half of the most unusual dark candy options out with us for later. Also, the pea-meal bacon sandwiches at the St. Lawrence market are uniquely Canadian and always delight my Euro visitors.
Oh! AND STEAK. The beef here is worlds away from what you are used to and again, a winner with our Euro friends and family. Also our Japanese guests. Ask the Chowhounds for the best unstuffy and best value steakhouses. (My husband always goes to a very very pricey one and that's not what you're here for. But the steaks here are reliable at any price point.)
And, promise me you will NOT order any fish in Toronto. Don't do it. Even the meanest shop in London has better, and the best fish houses
in London are as though from another planet.
My favorite one-woman artisanal bakery here is Olya Bakery Cafe, on Parliament just up the road from the Distillery. At any moment she may only have two or three items plus one in the oven, but all are extraordinary. As a couple we usually order one each of everything she has ready, plus we wait for what's coming out next. Her scones and croissants are truly amazing. But nothing keeps; she uses no fake ingredients or preservatives of course! It is NOT a cafe; there are 3 stools and an espresso machine. Her baking and a cuppa. Nirvana.
That's all she wrote.
Regarding your comment on 'Beef', especially the use of such adjectives as ' worlds away', I beg to differ!!!!
I used to live and work in London, Paris and other European cities for over 15 years. During these time, some of the ' European' beef that I had eaten such as Longhorn and Galloway from Yorkshire, Black Angus from Scotland, Charolais from Burgundy and Muesli/red wine fed Wagyu from Spain can easily rub shoulders if not top any North American beef offer in Toronto steakhouses, be it Angus Prime from Alberta or US prime from Kansas or Wagyu from Australia.
re: Charles Yu
Agree. Good English beef is at least as good, if not better, than good Cdn or US beef.
If the OP is in the mood for fish in TO, I recommend Starfish, Joso's, Chiado and Zee Grill. For Chinese seafood, I recommend O'Mei, in the 'burbs north of TO. The fact fish can be stellar in London, UK, is not a good reason to avoid ordering all fish in TO. What I've ordered at Joso's tasted better than much of the seafood I've ordered in London. If I had to choose between J Sheekey and Joso's, I'd choose Joso's.
Thanks so much. We will definitely get the pea meal bacon sandwiches in the market. Also sorbet and gelato. Both are right up our street. We wont eat fish ;o) husband is not a huge fan and I judge everything against my own baked seabass... I completely understand your comment about steak. 15 years ago we always used to go to Outback steakhouse as it was the only decent reasonably priced place in the UK to get a great steak cooked exactly how we ordered it. The chain left the UK as with all the cheap pubs people wouldnt pay Outback premium prices for a decent steak. Sad days. I will ask chow about steaks as you suggest. We tend to eat steak only at home or in Asia which sounds really funny but we found the best steak of our lives in Penang. That's how much we look everywhere for a good steak! The bakery sounds nice. Perfect for us, we need only 2 stools and an espresso machine to be happy. Thanks again x
If you go to Niagara Falls, breakfast at The Regal Diner should satisfy your husband. Home fries, not hash browns, but really excellent home made sausage (the sausage butty with a runny fried egg on it is my favourite breakfast sandwich anywhere).
For quirky, one-off spots, go to The Pie Plate in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It's actually a great little spot for lunch (good pizzas, meat pies, quiches, etc.) with seriously awesome pies. And brownies. :o)
In previous years we have had even more ambitious plans involving driving across the country etc! By relaxed I mean we dont need to get anywhere by any particular time, so if we should find a decent restaurant, next to a fine bar with Buzztime trivia game, around the corner from a great breakfast place, well we might just hang out there for a while...