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Lunch and a Stroll

30 May

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Bye Bye Bloor West, Hello Rosedale

22 Apr

Last month, our company’s offices moved from Bloor West Village (where we’d been located since I started working there three years ago) to the strip of Yonge St. between Rosedale and Summerhill subway stations.

The change has been significant.  Living as I do in the east end of town, the new location is welcome firstly because it cuts down on my commute time by almost an hour a day.  And the new neighbourhood, while a little pricier than Bloor West, is cheery and full of the energy that comes with loads of people walking up and down Yonge St. all day long.  (It doesn’t hurt that spring has sprung, filling patios and putting a little extra jazz in everyone’s step).

Though I wasn’t very familiar with Bloor West prior to starting at the firm a few years back, I will be missing some of the local businesses that were in and around the old digs.  Here are some of the neighbourhood shops I came to be thankful for:

Alfredo’s – Local grocery store with a deli and everything. Very handy for last minute lunch purchases of all kinds.

Java Joe’s – Slightly quirky folk but the panini I used to think was expensive and only got as a treat every so often is looking mighty reasonable relative to a panini in midtown!

The Pastry Chef – Sadly this lovely little bakery has recently closed due to the owners retiring (maybe not so sad for them!)  These guys supplied all our office birthday cakes and satisfied all sorts of early morning and late afternoon cravings for sweets. Local chatter says the place will now be occupied by a dentist’s office, which makes me wonder: why wouldn’t a new bakery come along to buy the old business with its ready-made clientele that’s been built up over the years…?  I asked myself the same question when Peter’s Place closed down.  This seemingly very successful greasy spoon with the most wonderful characters closed last year when the owners decided to retire, but nothing has yet sprung up in its place.  Again, someone could have probably set up a great business coming in where this one had closed down (because its closure was certainly not due to lack of interest in burgers, greek food and all-day breakfast from us local folk).

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Good eats… at recession prices!

22 Apr

Boxing Day pricing seemed to kick in earlier and continue on later this past holiday season than in any other year in recent memory—retailers’ response, one can safely assume, to the economic downturn and to the threats it posed on consumer spending.

Now, six months or so into this “recession,” or “depression” — it’s hard to keep track of what they’re calling it these days — there are a number of signs, at least in our neighbourhood of Little Italy, that discounts aren’t just for retail anymore.

On College Street alone, there are a number of restaurants offering limited-time menu specials, giving all of us a little extra incentive to eat out instead of in.

  • Boom! Breakfast & Co. | 808 College Street | $3.99 Egg-O-Nomic Bailout Breakfast, Mondays through Wednesdays until May 31, 2009
  • Il Gusto Ristorante | 796 College Street | $15 prix fixe menu, includes house salad, any pasta on the menu, dessert (offered weeklong, until further notice)
  • Sorriso | 588 College Street | $21 Winter Feature prix fixe menu, includes soup or salad, main course and dessert, Sundays through Wednesdays

This is just to name the ones I happen to have noticed—there are likely other restaurants on the strip (and elsewhere in the city, for that matter) offering similar menu specials.

The cynical among us may identify the reference to the recession as a clever marketing trick, but in this case, I prefer to call the possibility of eating out for less: a win-win situation!

Holiday Highlights

7 Jan

The streets of my neighbourhood are dotted with Christmas trees tonight—tomorrow morning is the last day the City picks up those final green remnants of holiday cheer. It’s one way to mark the end of the season.

The holidays were short, but lovely. A few highlights, expressed in weblinks:

Of breakfasts, brunches, and petit déjeuners…

8 Oct

In Montreal one of my favourite things to do with friends on a Sunday morning—or any day or time, really—was to go for brunch. In undergrad, we got our breakfast fix at places like Oxford Café on Ste-Catherine, Place Milton in the McGill Ghetto, and Moe’s, a 24-hour diner near Concordia’s downtown campus. At Oxford there is a menu item called something like Elvis’ Breakfast which is french toast with bananas, peanut butter, and maple syrup. That’s my idea of delicious. (Maybe it’s just me and Elvis.) Place Milton and Moe’s are greasy spoons that serve cheap, tasty food, and still have their charm.

In grad school, my breakfast tastes got a little more refined. We’d have poached eggs served in avocado or mango at Senzala, morning glories and goat cheese & pear crêpes at El Dorado (‘the-place-across-from-L’Avenue’) or we’d beat L’Avenue‘s notorious lineup by brunching on a weekday. There and at La Grand-mère poule there are so many breakfast choices it takes half an hour to decide.

Since I’ve been back in Toronto, I’ve been enjoying trying out breakfasts around the city. Kilgour’s on Bloor has always been one of my preferred places for Eggs Benny; they serve one with roasted red pepper. Yum. I recently checked out Boom! Breakfast & Company in Little Italy. The fries are great and the service friendly.

Another new discovery is Aunties and Uncles, near College and Bathurst. The potato salad with just the right amount of dill is a nice twist—you wouldn’t think potato salad with breakfast, but in fact, it’s delicious.

Stroll down Dundas Street west of Bathurst on a Saturday morning and you can’t miss Saving Grace, rumoured to be one of Sarah Polley’s favourite breakfast joints. On a weekend, count on waiting at least twenty minutes for a table after marking your name on the sign up sheet at the entrance—it’s worth the wait. I’ve been there twice now: I had one of the day’s specials, a pumpkin frittata, the first time around and an old cheddar sandwich on raisin bread from the menu on the second visit (I was more impressed by the former, mainly because, despite the rave reviews, I felt like I could have easily made the sandwich at home). The Vietnamese iced coffee was very much to my liking (though my friend was disappointed—it was not as bitter as the coffees at her favourite pho places in Montreal and Toronto). Continue reading