Chopan Kabab [Chopan Kebab] [closed March 2005]

798 Danforth ave
(416) 778-1200

*closed March 2005*

Located right at the edge of the trendy Danforth, east of Pape, this place is known as the only Afghan restaurant in Toronto. Prices are really affordable and dishes resemble Indian cuisine. Appetizers include Bolani (stuffed pastry with potatoes and seasonal vegetables), Mantu (steamed dough filled with ground beef, onions, and spices topped with yogourt and beef gravy), ($1.49-$2.99) as well as many types of vegetable salads and soups. ($2.99)

Mains include a selection of kababs (skewers of beef, tekka (lamb), chicken, lamb kidney, all $9.99-$11.99). Combo dishes include rice, two side vegetables, chatnee sauce, and bread. (all $9.99). Karayees are meat dishes served with Afghan salad, bread, and chatnee sauce. Karayees come in Lamb, Ground Beef, and Chicken, all between $14.99-$15.99. Complete dinners are $9.99 and include meat, rice, bread, and two side vegetables. Some dinners include lamb, ground beef, with rice and vegetables while other dinners include beef and onion dumplings or a lamb or Afghan beef soup with potato and salad.

I remember not having any choice but to have two vegetable side dishes. Both were good but resembled two vegetable curry dishes. One was composed of carrots and peas and the other was composed of other types of vegetables. We sat cross legged on a carpeted platform without a conventional table. The ambiance and decor was interesting and service was nice. The restaurant was empty and we wanted to try it out. The two vegetable side dishes I ordered were indeed good and my friend ordered a lamb dish which came with rice, bread, and two vegetable dishes. He was quite satisfied but I was not. Drinks include a traditional Afghan drink called Dough ( like an Indian lassi- a yogourt drink with mint, cucumber, and salt), as well as a selection of a traditional teas and coffees. Desserts include traditional Afghan ice creams, puddings, rice pudding, and Baklava (I did not know Baklava was Afghan) all $1.49-$5.99.

Unfortunately I do not think I will go back to Chopan Kabab due to the lack of vegetarian options. It seems all I could get were peas, carrots, and potatoes. I was hungry and unhappy. Accepts all cards and takeout.

Hello Toast (Now called Toast on Queen- Nov 2005)- Mark

Now called Toast on Queen- Nov 2005
993 Queen Street East
phone number: 416-778-7299

Hello Toast is located in the heart of Leslieville, at Queen and Pape. This small, trendy spot is a fun place to come to every time. The decor is beautiful, with deep red walls, adorned with colourful vibrant artwork, exposed brick walls, antique toasters surround, and little toaster caricatures on the ceilings. The tables are small and cramped together, giving it an intimate look and feel. Try to sit in front where there a comfy lime green couch.

With a funky (but small) brunch menu and a dinner menu with an assortments of Thai, French, and Italian dishes, Hello Toast is a hidden gem in Leslieville.

Hello Toast is a packed into two cosy two rooms, a main dining area and a back room with exposed brick and antique fridges. Food and ambiance are ecclectic and ambiance is trendy and alittle chi chi poo poo. Expect a lot of people-watching. Very gay friendly. Weekend brunch is super busy. Expect lineups from 12:00-2:30pm sometimes.

Dinner mains include a varieites of pasta dishes ($14–$15), risottos, and meat dishes like a roast pork tenderloin wrapped in apple and brie in puff pastry ($18- 23). For dessert, there is an apple tatin topped with vanilla ice cream.

Brunch items are between $7.95-$12.95 for brunch and portions are large. I always have the granola with fruit and yogourt. Staff are friendly and tables are small and placed quite close together. Although there are few vegetarian egg-free options, I really enjoy Hello Toast. Most of the menu consist of egg dishes with smoke salmon, pancakes, and sausage/pea meal bacon dishes. There are 4 varieties of eggs and smoked salmon. Substitutions are not allowed. Expect long waits for your food. Liquor licensed. Accepts all cards.

Hot House Cafe

35 Church
(416) 366-7800
This super trendy, fusion restaurant is located in Saint Lawrence Market, at the corner of Church and Front. The place contains a medley of popular Italian dishes, specialty Asian influenced stir-frys, and Cajun fare. Brunch is $15.95 and consists of a buffet of an assortment of different kinds of food- not restrictive to brunch food. The place is quite expensive and although food is good, it’s nothing unique or special.

I went there in late summer 2002 and I ordered the Oriental Cashew Stir-fry which was amazing. It was not too oily, but had a lot of vegetables and was served on a beautiful large dish with cashews. It was $12.95.

Below is a review of many of the items served at HotHouse Cafe. Some appetizers include the Steamed P.E.I. Mussels($8.95), Deep-Fried Calamari ($6.95), Coconut Shrimp ($8.95), Louisiana Crabcakes ($7.95), and Devilled Brie ($8.25).

Salads include the House Greens ($3.95), Caesar Salad ($3.95sm / $7.95 l), Greek Salad ($3.95 sm / $7.95 l), Oriental Spinach Salad ($3.95 sm/ $7.95 l), Sun-Dried Pesto Chicken Salad ($8.95), Salade Gourmande ($8.95- Mixed Lettuce, Crumbled Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Roasted Red Peppers & Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette), and the Warm Chicken Salad ( $8.95)

Burgers and Sandwiches are served with salad, soup, or HotHouse fries. Burgers include the Char-Grilled HotHouse Burger ($7.95) – w/ bacon and melted cheddar ($8.50), w/ sauteed mushrooms and mozzarella ($8.50), w/ goat cheese & roasted red peppers ($8.95), w/ black pepper, caramelized onions, gorgonzola cheese, and pesto mayonnaise ($8.95). Sandwiches include the grilled vegetable sandwich – ($9.25), chicken parmesan sandwich ($9.95), HotHouse chicken club sandwich ($8.95), New York steak sandwich ($12.95), and the “Mojo” Pork Loin Sandwich ($8.95)

HotHouse serves up a large variety of pasta dishes. They are served with a loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread. Pastas include linguine bolognese ($7.95 / $10.95), lasagna al forno ($10.95), HotHouse penne ($7.95 / $11.95), smoked chicken ravioli ($13.95), cajun shrimp fusilli ($9.50 / $12.95), jambalaya ($9.50/ $13.95 -consisting of shrimp, chicken breast, spicy Italian sausage, peppers, red onions, chili peppers & herbed tomatoes), pollo pesto fusilli ($8.95 / $12.95), and fettuccine puttanesca ($9.50 / $13.95), roasted garlic penne ($9.50 / $13.95), linguini alla manarolo ($ 8.95 / $13.95), and penne alla nonna penne ($ 8.95 / $12.95)

Gourmet mini pizzas include the il diavolo ($10.95)- consists of chicken, spicy Italian sausage, diced jalapenos, garlic, tomato basil sauce & mozzarella, the frutti di mare (sounds like seafood of the ocean) ($11.95), consists of shrimp, scallops, roasted red peppers, pesto, and asiago cheese, the americana ($9.95), salsicce ($10.25)- with spicy Italian sausage, red onions, roasted red peppers, olive oil, asiago cheese & fresh herbs, the calabrese ($ 12.95) with tomato basil sauce, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, Italian salami, virgin olive oil, and gorgonzola, and the margherita ($10.25)- with olive oil, fresh sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, asiago & parmesan cheeses, with fresh basil

Main entrees are the principle dishes. They are more expensive, larger, and more substantial. Main entrees are served with a loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread and a choice of baked potato, sundried tomato & roasted garlic mashed potato, or rice pilaf & fresh vegetable of the day. Some main dishes include grilled New York sirloin ($18.95), the grilled New Zealand rack of lamb ($18.95), the supreme of chicken ($16.95), grilled atlantic salmon ($16.95), veal con senape ($19.95), Thai noodles- (like Pad Thai) ($13.95), five-spice chicken stir-fry ($14.95), and 12 oz. Rib Steak ($19.95)

Some Vegetarian entrees include the Cheese Cappelletti ($7.95 / $11.95), the Oriental Cashew
Stir Fry ( $12.95), the Butternut Squash Ravioli ($11.95), and the Penne and Portobello Alfredo ($11.95)

All desserts are $6.25. Some desserts include the HotHouse Cheesecake, Chocolate Utopia Cake, Super Caramel Crackle, Tiramisu, Baked Deep-Dish Apple Pie, Chocolate Chip Banana Cake, Mixed Fruit Torte, Gelato Fresco, and Tartufo.

Dessert wines include the Framboise, Southbrook Farms from Ontario ($5.95), Cave Springs “Indian Summer” Late Harvest Riesling from Ontario ($6.95), Iniskillin RieslingIce Wine from Ontario ($8.95), and the Galiga e Vertrice Vin Santo from Tuscany ($8.95)

HotHouse can get really crowded on the weekend and weeknights. The ambiance is trendy and chi chi poo poo. It’s spacious with a lot of comfortable, spacious, non-congested seating. Dining area sits over one hundred people.

The Sunday brunch, offered between 10am-3pm offers a buffet and live jazz for $15.95.
Traditional brunch fare like fresh eggs, bacon and sausage, or have the breakfast chef prepare a “designer” omelete. In addition, other brunch items include the hip of beef, seafood specialties and Italian favorites. HotHouse brunch also offers salads such as the baby shrimp salad, Greek salad, pasta salad, and traditional garden salads. Further, the buffet also includes a selection of cheeses, fresh fruits, bagels, croissants and muffins. Last but not least, HotHouse Sunday brunch also has a dessert buffet, including a vareity of cakes, tarts, and pies, all basked by the in-house Pastry Chef. They accept every card under the sun.

For more information , visit http://www.hothousecafe.com

Sakawaya Japanese Bistro

867 Danforth Av
(416) 778-6894

Sakawaya is a Japanese bistro at the corner of Danforth and Jones (my ‘hood). The place is quite cosy, sitting only about ten tables. although I’ve only been about three or times, I can remember eating many appetziers to get full since I do not eat the vegetarian sushi (I stay away from rice). The deep fried tofu is simply delicious, the miso soup is excellent, rich and aromatic. For the picky vegetarian, I usually order some Japanese snacks like grilled vegetables, deep fried tofu steaks, miso soup, and more vegetables on skewers. Ordering 2-3 appetizers add up to $12-$15 but it’s like ordering a full meal.

Complete meals including drinks, dessert, and appetizer are $30 per person, including all taxes and tip. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday 5:30 pm to 1 am, Sunday 5 to 10:30 pm. Closed Monday and holidays.

Magic Oven

 6 Wellesley St.W.                                                                                                             T:416.929.7888                                                                                                                         

798 Danforth Ave.
T: 416.462.0333

127 Jefferson Ave.
T: 416.539.0555

270 Dupont St.
T: 416.928.1555

788 Broadview Ave.
T: 416.466.0111

The place contains a funky variety of pizza combinations, with health in mind. It offers a variety of specialty pastas, salads and chicken wings. Owned by an East Indians, the place has non-mainstream varieties of pizza that depart from its Italian roots. Magic Oven’s focus is on take-out so don’t expect wonderful ambiance. We usually eat across the street by the grassy area next to Broadview subway station.

They deliver as far as Woodbine (going east) and as far as Yonge (going west). and Eastern (going south) and Summerhill (going north). Pizza varieties differ in colour, flavour, spice, and ethnicity. The menu is online at http://www.magicoven.com/menu/MagicMenu.pdf. The pizzas are come in Organic Spelt and Gluten free varieties and contain Organic Non-Dairy and Rennet Free Cheese. Some are Dairy Free and Vegan. The pizza I ordered was extremely healthy.

It was made thinly with organic spelt flour and sauteed spinach. artichokes, olives, sun dried tomatoes, green and red peppers, and onions, without any cheese. That is the slice of pizza I chose. There are a large selection of soft drinks, juices, desserts, and East Indian and West Indian speciality sodas. Most of the food is made before your eyes, with the exception of some of the popular pizza slices. There are many options for the vegetarian and the vegan.

Gate 403 Jazz Club and Restaurant (Gate 403 Bar & Grill)

403 Roncesvalles Avenue
(416) 588-2930

Located right in the heart of Roncesvalles Village in the west end of Toronto, I visited this bar/cafe one afternoon in the summer of 2002 with my aunt Susie. We were hungry and we had some time to eat before seeing our movie at the Revue cinema across the street (we were seeing the movie About a Boy).

This place is really cool. It is dark inside and it resembles a small neighbourhood bar/pub/cafe with friendly staff. Gate 403 has live Jazz music, and good affordable bar/pub/ food as well as full meals. I ordered the grilled vegetables topped with tomato sauce. It was excellent. My aunt had a caesar salad and she said she really liked it. Since this was also a bar, be prepared to be around smokers (like my aunt). I would definitely go back because the overall vibe is a friendly, laid back, non-pretentious ambiance.