Food Spy: Where to eat on Canada Day

Obviously, Canada Day means tourist attractions will stay open but for those who don’t want to have dinner at the Eaton Centre or lunch at Casa Loma, here’s a list of some of our favourite restaurants that will be pulling overtime on our nation’s birthday.

AAA Bar, 138 Adelaide St. E. (UPDATED)
Amaya Indian Room
, 1701 Bayview Ave.
Bannock, 401 Bay St. (UPDATED)
Bar Buca, 75 Portland St. (UPDATED)
Barque Smokehouse
, 299 Roncesvalles Ave.
Bent, 777 Dundas St. W.
Bindia Indian Bistro, 15 Market St.
Bite and Sip, 571 Bloor St. W. (UPDATED)
Burger’s Priest, 3397 Yonge St., 1636 Queen St. E., 1599 The Queensway, 7887 Weston Rd. #6, 463 Queen St. W. (UPDATED)
Caplansky’s, 356 College St. (UPDATED)
Cardinal Rule, 5 Roncesvalles Ave.
Chantecler, 1320 Queen St. W.
The Dakota Tavern, 249 Ossington Ave. (UPDATED)
Dr. Laffa, 3023 Bathurst St. and 401 Magnetic Dr.
Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen St. W. (UPDATED)
Drake 150, 150 York St. (UPDATED)
Emma’s Country Kitchen, 1108 St. Clair W.
Fabbrica, 49 Karl Fraser Rd. (UPDATED)
Fancy Franks, 326 College and 904 Bloor St. W
Fin Izakaya, 55 Eglinton Ave. E.
Fishbar, 217 Ossington Ave.
Glas Wine Bar, 1118 Queen St. E. (UPDATED)
Guu, 398 Church St.
Guu SakaBar, 559 Bloor St. W.
Happy Hooker, 887 Dundas St. W.
Hitch, 1216 Queen St. E. (UPDATED)
Hogtown Smoke, 1959 Queen St. E. (UPDATED)
Holy Chuck, 1450 Yonge St and 4421 Hwy 7
House on Parliament, 454 Parliament St. (UPDATED)
Ja Bistro, 222 Richmond St. (UPDATED)
Kinton Ramen, 51 Baldwin St., 668 Bloor St. W., and 402 Queen St. W. (UPDATED)
The Lakeview, 1132 Dundas St. W. (UPDATED)
La Créole, 810 St. Clair W. (UPDATED)
Lee, 603 King St. W.
Mata, 1690 Queen St. W.
Milagro Cantina, 5 Mercer St., 783 Queen St. W., and 3187 Yonge St. (UPDATED)
Mitzi’s Café, 100 Sorauren Ave.
Monarch Tavern, 12 Clinton St. (UPDATED)
O&B Canteen, 330 King St. W. (UPDATED)
O&B Cafe Grill, 33 Yonge St. and 2901 Bayview Ave. (UPDATED)
One, 116 Yorkville Ave. (UPDATED)
Oyster Boy, 872 Queen St. W.
Pizzeria Libretto, 221 Ossington and 550 Danforth Ave.
Pukka, 778 St. Clair W.
Rock Lobster Food Co., 110 Ossington Ave., 1192 Queen St. E. and 538 Queen St. W.
The Saint Tavern, 227 Ossington Ave. (UPDATED)
Stack, 3265 Yonge St. (UPDATED)
Starfish Oyster Bed, 100 Adelaide St. E.
Union Restaurant, 72 Ossington Ave. (UPDATED)
Von Doughnuts, 713 Danforth Ave. (UPDATED)
Wind Up Bird Cafe, 382 College St.
Yakitori Kintori, 668 Bloor St. W., second floor (UPDATED)
Yours Truly, 229 Ossington Ave., (UPDATED)

Retail booze
Amsterdam Brewing Co. (Leaside location till 9pm, Queens Quay location till 11pm)
Steam Whistle  Brewing, 255 Bremner Blvd.

 

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments section.

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What The Food?: What’s the deal with automatic gratuities for groups?

Welcome to What The Food?, a column that explains why things are the way they are in Toronto’s dining scene. Last time, we looked at why many restaurants no longer offer free bread. This time, we look at the controversial but increasingly common automatic-gratuity policy for large groups of diners.

 

We’re all familiar with the fine print at the bottom of menus saying that there will be an automatic gratuity charge of 18 per cent for large parties at restaurants. It’s supposed to ensure that the server doesn’t get stiffed when he/she is taking care of a table of 10.

But hold up: Do so many large groups tip so little that this became an industry standard? Do I still have to pay the 18 per cent if the service is crap? We try to find out what the deal is with this common practice.

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New Order: The Workshop

Cuisine: Canadian/American.
Neighbourhood: Roncesvalles.
Signature: Cheese.
Price: $4-$24.
Open: Tues.-Sun., noon to 11 p.m.

The place: The sister spot to Halton Hills restaurant Latitude Food and Drink, The Workshop fills the space that Fat Cat Wine Bar left. There’s cheese (of course) alongside a menu of small plates (all of which feature cheese), wine, and a short beer list. Almost everything served comes from local suppliers (cheese is sourced from the Cheese Boutique) with the exception of a few ingredients—the silky smooth and salty Normandy butter, for example. If weather permits, ask to be seated on their secret garden-like back patio—it might be the best al fresco dining Roncy has to offer.

Eat this: The lamb burger, $9.

A juicy lamb patty comes topped with a slab of golden-brown halloumi, and a dollop of cooling goat yogurt raita. A bed of asparagus provides a hit of pepper, and the milk bun it all comes on is perfectly pillowy. It’s a rich burger indeed, but the mint in the dressing and the brightness of the arugula lighten things up. It’s really the best baaa-ng for your buck. (Sorry.)

Still hungry?

Take flight with cheese! Design your own cheese board from 25 different varieties, or leave it up to the Workshop and choose one of the pre-designed cheese flights ($17). On one particular day, the Quebec board of choice included a creamy Riopelle, a ripe Grey Owl, and a nutty, salty Mont Jacob, along with all of the necessary accoutrements—candied pecans, slices of crisp Granny Smith apples, and crunchy crostini to name a few.

331 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-785-2123, workshopbylatitude.ca

 

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Office Taste Test: Doritos Roulette chips

Here at The Grid, we get a lot of odd things sent to us: Recently, we’ve received a picture frame full of Skittles to promote a world record for selfies, butter warmers from Subway because they now have lobster sandwiches, and a bag of Doritos packed in a box that also doubles as an altar with flickering LED lights. The latter also came with a picture of me that appears to have been scorched (photo below).

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Crumbs June 25 to July 2

Welcome to Crumbs, the online version of the weekly restaurant-news round-up that appears in The Grid’s print edition. Check this page regularly—we update it to keep you on top of what’s opening and closing. Here’s last week’s edition.

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New Order: The omakase at Yasu


Amidst the frenzy of shared-plate restaurants currently opening up in the city, it’s refreshing to have the structured, almost ceremonial meal offered at two-month-old Yasu (81 Harbord St., at Spadina). The Harbord Village sushi spot has just 10 seats and books only two seatings each night. Reservations are mandatory and walk-ins are not accepted. There is also no menu. Just take a seat, order a drink, and for $80 per head, the chef serves delicately made nigiri and hand rolls topped with colourful fish.

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Shop Talk: b.good Canada’s president on farm-to-table fast food


Later this summer, Boston-based burger, salad, and smoothie franchise b.good will open its first international location at 100 Front St. E. (at Jarvis, across from the St. Lawrence Market). Using local, small-scale suppliers like Greg’s Ice Cream and Silverstein’s Bakery, the burger joint is aiming to change the image most people have of quick-service restaurants. We spoke with b.good Canada president Todd Brooks about the evolution of fast food, going local, and the sustainability of his restaurant’s methods.

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Deals On Meals: Free buffet at Mandarin on Canada Day

News of Mandarin’s free Canada Day buffet was sitting in the inboxes of Toronto magazine and newspaper editors for the past two weeks (seriously, the press release was embargoed until Monday) and now we can formally announce that, once again, the buffet restaurant is giving out free meals to Canadian citizens next Tuesday, July 1, from noon until 8:30 p.m. at all locations.

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Vittles: the coco bread from Patties Express


Nostalgia can sometimes trump taste as sweet, fuzzy memories of childhood meals can make up a lot for crap food. That is why I was happy (and relieved) to see a line-up outside the almost three-month-old Patties Express (4 Elm St., at Yonge), a little takeout patty and coco bread shop opened by Daniel Cheung, whose father owns North York’s Tastee Bakery, a patty shop and Chinese bakery located on a little plaza across from my junior high for the past 27 years. (I went there at least three times a week.)

“We’ve always wanted to open a store downtown but the rent is very high in this area,” says Cheung. “The hardest thing is figuring out how to survive with paying rent that’s six times the rent uptown… We came across this space and thought that we could survive, not to make money, but to just use it as exposure.” Back when Cheung’s family was living in Hong Kong, he had an aunt who went to Jamaica for university. She married a Jamaican guy and that’s when the Cheung family was exposed to the world of patties. “When our family came to Toronto, we picked patties as our business.”


At lunch, you’ll see lines of office workers and the occasional Tastee graduate order coco bread and patties by the dozen, available in mild, spicy, extra spicy beef, chicken, and vegetarian ($1.89 each, $8.95 for half dozen, $14.95 for a dozen). Get the coco bread, a Jamaican specialty in which a fluffy, starchy, and slightly sweet bun sandwiches a just-baked, spicy beef patty. Upon the first bites, hot, finely minced and seasoned beef will start dripping down your fingers. Totaling in at less than $3.50, it’s a cheap and filling lunch option. “There’s no such thing as ‘best’ when it comes to food, but to be a favourite there’s one important thing: freshness. Everything is made on the day and these patties come out of the oven every 15 minutes and are gone in 45,” he says, just before he had to end the interview to bake more patties.

Patties Express fits in nicely with its neighbour—and fellow recent suburban transplant—Lucullus Bakery. Here’s a recent guide to what you can get there.—Karon Liu

 

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Closing Time: Zocalo

It’s a sad week for small businesses: First, Swirl Wine Bar announced that it was closing at the end of the month, and now Zocalo Bistro (1426 Bloor St. W., at Symington)—the cute-as-a-button Junction Triangle café by the tracks—has made the same statement. Co-owner Heather Braaten told The Grid via email that she and her partner Paul Hardy will be selling the business, and taking some time off, but may eventually “do it all again.” In the meantime, fans of Zocalo have until June 28 to grab a bite or one last brunch on the back patio. —Rebecca Fleming

 

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