Sierra Grill

 2901 Bayview Ave (Bayview Village)

Food is a big part of my (Jewish) identity. This place has food and I mean large portions. Located at Bayview and Sheppard, in the parking lot of Bayview Village, a posh mall with designer names and posh labels, Sierra Grill, formally known as Sunshines is a Jewish paradise of food, flavour, and fun. The food is not “Jewish” per se, but most of the clientele is Jewish and the preparation and style of the food is “Jewish style”, schtuppy, rich, large portions, and filling. The menu had Jewish jargon, so that was comfortable. Known as the best and largest salad bar in Toronto, I opted for the salad bar as a meal and my partner opted for a large Seafood medley with unlimited salad, potatoes, all for $16.95. Entrees are between $12.95 and $18.95 and the salad bar as a meal is only $12.95. I was stuffed as I gorged on sauteed vegetables, like eggplant, zucchini, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and green peppers. I also took advantage of the many other salads like chick pea salad, cous cous salad with vegetables, and many stir fried vegetable dishes. In addition to the salad are a variety of fruits, fruit salads, breads, desserts, soups, marinated and sauteed vegetable dishes. I was so stuffed, I felt full for the next two days. The ambiance is loud, like a mall. The tables are far apart- enough for intimate conversation, but be prepared to speak loudly. There were no lineups and reservations are not required. The restaurant is very large and sits over two hundred people. The salad bar consists of five areas, and the food is fresh, colourful, not greasy, and very flavourful. It is not super spicy but not bland either. The prices are a bit high but the portions are large and be prepared to be stuffed. Drinks are expensive but large quantities. Overall, it was too loud and had that “food court” ambiance. The decor is pleasant, very “dining room” type of theme- woody, bright lights, and people everywhere.

Lotus Garden [closed October 2005]

393 Dundas Street West

Nov 2005 Update: Lotus Garden closed in Oct 2005. They plan to open up again somewhere else soon.

Located at the edge of Chinatown, near the corner of Dundas and University. This restaurant serves strictly vegetarian Vietnamese cuisine, with seitan and tofu as the main ingredient for some marvelous dishes. Recommended; the ginger “chicken” and the BBQ “pork”. Ordering is very simple. Patrons fill out the order form themselves and all dishes are assigned a code. I have been many times and ordered the tasty veggie cold rolls, the deliciously spicy hot and sour soup (it’s red!), and the vegetarian chicken curry dinner with strips of vegetarian chicken, beef, and tofu chunks. They also have vegetarian shrimp and duck.

Very affordable, laid back, casual dining. Limited seating and ambiance is nothing special. Dishes look and taste remarkably like meat dishes. They accept Interac and VISA but not Mastercard.