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Restos with longevity (outside your neighbourhood)

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divirtual Aug 28, 2003 02:44 PM

I'm getting somewhat tired of the "snap recommendations" on this message board, where we're getting overly general recommendations (and some disappointment about reality). In particular, check you the "My 2 cents worth..." link below, started by Nina, with a last response by neighborguy.

Thus, I propose a challenge to Toronto chowhounds.

(1) Name a restaurant that has been around for more than 5 to 7 years, that you have patronized at least 3 times with a guest, that is at least 9 minutes away both from your home and your place of work.

(2) Describe outstanding some outstanding features of the place.

(3) Relate why you continue to go back there.

I hope that this separates the real chowhounds from the poseurs! Debate on these impressions are welcomed!

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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  1. d
    divirtual RE: divirtual Aug 28, 2003 02:55 PM

    I'll respond to my own question to demonstrate my seriousness!

    My family of four, when we have out of town guests, often find that we pick the New Treasure Restaurant, which is at 150 Dundas Street West (in the basement), near Chestnut. This is despite the fact that the restaurant has probably changed hands at least 3 times over the past decade! (It somehow doesn't seem to have impacted quality).

    What's outstanding there? Actually, this is a pretty standard Chinese restaurant, but it's reliable. We usually get two or three orders of mussels in black bean sauce (at something like $3.99 per order), and crystal fold (minced pork and vegetables, which you wrap in a lettuce leaf -- my kids call these Chinese tacos!) The price is moderate for Chinese restaurants (cheap for family meals) and the service is good.

    Why do we go back again and again? The main reason is location and convenience. This isn't near our home (which would be the Broadview Chinatown), but we seem to have a lot of visitors in town that stay at the Marriott Eaton Centre or downtown Sheraton, or are visiting Ryerson University. No guest has ever gotten lost finding it, and we usually find parking on Chestnut Street. There's never a wait for a table, and there are usually two or three other tables full when we go.

    Is this a destination restaurant? In the "big night out on the town", no. However, we do drive across town here to have casual meals with family and friends.

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    1. d
      divirtual RE: divirtual Aug 28, 2003 03:06 PM

      This place is well known to U. of Toronto students (on Bloor Street West, between Spadina and Bathurst, and is an institution. (I'm not there frequently enough, but the reviews suggest it's always the same waitresses).

      Country Style is an old-style Hungarian restaurant, where I go when I want a nice Wiener Schnitzel. Not high cuisine, but filling food (good on a winter day). It's a good alternative to Chinese food when one of the kids needs to get out of the house.

      What's outstanding? They do Hungarian food, and not much else. There's no surprises here. Strudel, if you like it.

      Why return visits? This is down home, casual place that seems to be run by honest hardworking people, and the clientele seems to cut a wide cross-section of Torontonians. (Last time, I remember a couple of city public works type, and some real estate agents at the next table). I wouldn't expect to see any movie stars there (but I'm sure that they would get the same service everyone else does).

      6 Replies
      1. re: divirtual
        g
        Guy Middleton RE: divirtual Aug 28, 2003 04:11 PM

        But do they still have poppyseed strudel? I remember eating really yummy poppyseed strudel there 20 years ago.

        1. re: divirtual
          h
          Heather RE: divirtual Aug 28, 2003 05:08 PM

          Isn't Country Style the only Hungarian restaurant left in that area? I used to enjoy Korona, the Blue Cellar Room.... At least the Elizabeth Delicatessen is still standing - I pop in once in a while for their dobostorte.

          I do like the stick-to-your-ribs food, the no-frills service/decor and the no-bullshit clientele at Country Style. Their cabbage rolls rock. A long time ago, my dying roommate frequently asked me to pick up some popsicles and Country Style's chicken paprikas & dumplings for dinner, because that was the closest thing to simple, nurturing food for him.

          1. re: Heather
            m
            mikeb RE: Heather Aug 28, 2003 05:33 PM

            My favourite Hungarian along Bloor was L'Europe, but it too has since disappeared. Country Style is a good substitute, though, for all the reasons stated and more.

            I also like this restaurant because I can take anyone there. Even friends and family who don't like "spicy" food can find something on the menu that they like. Their wine list is anemic and I must admit I don't think that their chicken paprikas is the best out there, but the Wienerschnitzel can't be beat. It is a massive portion and always tender.

            1. re: Heather
              s
              sunnyside RE: Heather Aug 28, 2003 11:34 PM

              There is also Tuske (I think it's called Tuske) in the neighbourhood, located on Bloor across from Honest Ed's, west of Bathurst, that serves up homestyle Hungarian food. It is even more "rustic" than Country Style, and they have it set up with take out in front, and tables in the back. The prices are even lower that Country Style, and the goulash and pastries are great.

              1. re: Heather
                a
                airsy RE: Heather Aug 29, 2003 11:18 AM

                If it is Hungarian you crave, you must check out the schniztel at Paprika on Bathurst north of Lawrence. The service is slow, but the schniztel is fantastic and when it is so large that it hangs over the sides of the plate. The bean soup is also quite good at this authentic Hungarian joint.

                Link: http://reviews.degrassi.ca

                1. re: Heather
                  a
                  airsy RE: Heather Aug 29, 2003 11:18 AM

                  If it is Hungarian you crave, you must check out the schniztel at Paprika on Bathurst north of Lawrence. The service is slow, but the schniztel is fantastic and when it is so large that it hangs over the sides of the plate. The bean soup is also quite good at this authentic Hungarian joint.

                  Link: http://reviews.degrassi.ca

              2. h
                Heather RE: divirtual Aug 28, 2003 04:40 PM

                Ah yes, the "great food and a cool vibe" recommendations can be rather...cryptic.

                Don't know how long it's been around, but I've been going to Le Paradis (166 Bedford, north of Davenport) for 15 years. Outstanding feature? As soon as I walked in for the first time, I knew I belonged there. You smell the searing of meat, you hear the din of lively conversation, you see the flickering of candles. It looks and feels like a simple Left Bank bistro, without being forced and self-conscious about it. No trendoid music that you can't identify, and no chrome/brushed stainless steel anywhere. I usually frequent cheap Asian restaurants with hazardous washrooms, because I don't give a shit about decor. However, if I need to feel cosseted as opposed to merely fed, I head straight for Le Paradis (if I can get a table, of course - the place is always packed).

                I keep going back because the unchanging menu is simple and old-fashioned (no tall food, no Vongerichten-esque wasabi touches): roast chicken, merguez & frites, lamb, pork chop, steak & frites (the steak can be occasionally gristly), trout. The appetizers are the usual: salad (green or Caesar), soup, the rest I can't remember. Desserts include sorbets, crème caramel, chocolate mousse - nothing fancy. But simplicity is the point of going to Le Paradis. I especially love dining there in winter - walk in from the cold, have a kir, await the comforting food, and feel cosseted. And eating a $20 three-course prixe fixe dinner in a lovely and cozy joint is a rather nice and economical way to treat yourself, no?

                There are three sections in the restaurant: the narrow front section (parallel to the bar), the raised back section, and the sunken room to the right. I've sat in all three sections, and the back section feels the most comfortable. The front section has too much traffic, and the sunken room is near the washrooms.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Heather
                  d
                  divirtual RE: Heather Aug 28, 2003 05:47 PM

                  Heather, thank you very much for your contribution. This is almost the first review I've read in months for a restaurant that I'm not familiar with, that I would actually like to try! (I don't remember Bedford north of Davenport, but I'll take your word that it exists!)

                  You're the type of chowhound that I've been seeking on these boards!

                  1. re: divirtual
                    j
                    Jonathan C. RE: divirtual Oct 7, 2003 11:20 AM

                    I liked Le Paradis for what it is, namely a decent French bistro. Having said that, sometimes people get carried away in their enthusiasm and say it is a fabulous restaurant (I am not referring to anything in particular that has been posted in the past, more of a general comment with respect to people who have referred me there). I've certainly had better french bistro food although not in Toronto (I only moved here six months ago). I would say it about on par with Le Select Bistro but cheaper. The price/value ratio I thought was quite good. In general, I would say it is a fine place to go for the occasional casual dinner. No pretensions and good basic food.

                  2. re: Heather
                    g
                    galloping gourmand RE: Heather Sep 10, 2003 02:36 PM

                    We have been dining there at least once a month for the past several years. The food is consistently good, although not haute cuisine. I have eaten virtually all the items on the menu and have never been disappointed Service is friendly and attentive, even when they are quite busy, which is almost always.
                    The value is the best that the city has to offer, both with regard to food and wine.
                    Don't go without a reservation

                  3. j
                    jordan RE: divirtual Aug 28, 2003 05:34 PM

                    What annoys me more than the "snap recommendations" are the people ask the "where can I find the best (whatever) in Toronto?" questions without sharing their own experiences so far in their quest. And the "I am located at this intersection in Scarborough, where should I eat" query - surely you would have some suggestions to offer in return, since you live/work there.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jordan
                      a
                      airsy RE: jordan Aug 29, 2003 02:54 PM

                      I just got a new job in this area and that's why I asked where to eat. But since you ask, here are three recommended places in 10 minute vicinty of Warden/Eglinton.

                      Niji Sushi - Midland/Ellesmere

                      This narrow restaurant serves up several tasty looking lunch combinations. The one platter I tried was actually called "Lunch Combination" and came complete with tempura (sweet potato, onion, shrimp), 6 sushi rolls (tuna, squid, salmon), glass noodles, plain rice, and a cucumber/radish salad. If that wasn't enough, the meal started with cold noodles (served in ice), miso soup, seaweed in a spicy reddish sauce, and fried tofu. All of this for only $11.95! After the meal we were even provided with two nicely cut oranges which were served as an aparatif (I think) or maybe it was just desert.

                      Armenian Kitchen - Victoria Park between Eglinton/Lawrence

                      Serving traditional and authentic middle eastern fare.
                      For lunch, I settled on a typical vegetable platter with hummous, baba ghanoush, tabouleh salad, and labouneh - a thick, yogourt dip and pita. The hummous was smooth with tahina, the baba was creamy and garlicky but not overly so, and labouneh which I had never tried before was a wonderful addition. The pita bread was fresh, flat and soft and tabouleh salad was a good contrast to the dips.

                      Vietnam Noodle Star: 4188 Finch Ave. E

                      Starting with some simple small spring rolls that were slightly oily but crunchy we were quickly deluged with the rest of our order. A massive bowl of vietnamese beef noodle soup was enough to share between all of us though I had to resort to a fork to scoop up the rice noodles. My favourite dish was a beef curry that reminded me of a red thai coconut curry with a slight kick to it. We were also served beef and pork satay skewers which we could dip in an oily peanut sauce and a plate of delicious fried pork with white rice and veggies.

                      Link: http://reviews.degrassi.ca

                    2. k
                      Kasia RE: divirtual Aug 29, 2003 11:55 AM

                      There are many places I have made into "my favourites" over the years, but I've decided to write about Terroni. As most on this list will probably agree, it is hardly a hidden gem, since its popularity seems to have no limit. For me the original Terroni on Queen W. is special because of how I "discovered" it. I was walking around town with two friends for hours, and we were dying to find a place and just hang out. Having been overstimulated with the noise and crowds in the busy parts of town, we decided to retreat to then-quieter Queen West (this was just the beginning of Queen West west becoming the hip destination). As west-enders, we thought we knew every place in the area west of Bathurst, so we were quite surprised to come across Terroni. As it turns out, they just opened and we were about to become some of their many longstanding regulars.

                      The place was dead, and we chose the back table, to get away from the sun at the front. For the first 1 1/2 hours, we just drank their house red wine and espressos. The staff never hurried us, and we generally were left alone to chill. We got hungry, so we ordered some pizzas, one of which was the basic tomato-mozzarella, and we were HOOKED! Our loyalties to John Classic evaporated in a second, and I for one have never wavered in my love for Terroni pizza. It has become one of my favourite items to take out, even though it means a trek from Bloor and Lansdowne (hardly convenient as fast food).

                      I have been going to Terroni for years, because I love its atmosphere, because they serve some of my favourite things, and because it epitomizes what I consider a successful small eatery: doing one thing really well. Of course, the place has become very popular and it's often packed, but that just meant adjusting my visits (there is usually a lull in business in the couple of hours after lunch period and before dinner). Their pizzas are excellent, and since my first visit I have become a fan of their carpaccio, which is so thinly sliced it really melts in your mouth, and funghi assoluti (a salad of grilled shitake over arugula, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with parmagiano reggiano). They use good ingredients, and portions are ample. While there are booths and small tables, I prefer to sit at the bar so that I can watch the pizza maker. The original Terroni is always one of the places I go to with newcomers to Toronto.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Kasia
                        d
                        divirtual RE: Kasia Aug 29, 2003 12:18 PM

                        Kasia, thanks for your review. This is another place I'll need to try!

                        I've actually been at the Terroni on Victoria Street (south of Dundas), because it's a good location to meet people in the business district. (You remind me that it's also a shining light, around the Eaton Centre black hole of restaurants).

                        I've only been at this branch of Terroni at lunchtime. My advice is: don't arrive at 12:05 p.m., and expect to be seated for a quick lunch! It's a great place, but totally packed between noon and 1:30 p.m. The waitresses are great, the food reaches the table relatively quickly, and I enjoyed the sandwiches I've had, but there just aren't enough seats in the house!

                        1. re: Kasia
                          h
                          Heather RE: Kasia Aug 29, 2003 02:01 PM

                          Terroni! Yes, the original location rocks. Love the wonky patio at the back during summer and the vodka & freshly-squeezed blood orange juice during winter.

                          The Victoria Street location just isn't the same. It's terribly crowded and un-relaxing at lunch (and as divirtual says, don't go there a minute past noon), not to mention it seems more expensive than the Queen location. (Actually, this location doesn't feel all that different from Mercatto, another busy Italian restaurant in the area with the same type of business crowd and a similar pizza/pasta/panini menu.) For me, the Victoria Street Terroni is a good choice for lunch with colleagues, but not a place to go with friends on my own time.

                          Anyone been to the uptown location (Yonge south of St. Clair)?

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