Churrasco Of St Clair‎

679 St Clair Avenue West
 (416) 658-0652

Affectionately known, at least to my family, as “Churassco”, this Portuguese eatery has been a take-out staple for many years in the mid town area. The term churassco actually refers to the way in which the chicken is prepared. I could not describe to you in earnest how that is, all I know is that it is delicous.

Walking into this establishment, located just east of the intersection of St. Clair and Christie, a blast of hot air hits you as dozens of butterflied chickens are visibly being grilled in plain view of the salivating customers. Orders of half or quarter chicken are available, each of which coming with a generous serving of small round potatoes and a heap of white rice. Chicken sandwiches are also available but they work better for lunch. Ribs are available though I have never tried them. If you like spice, be sure to ask for some hot sauce to dip the chicken or potatoes in. The potatoes are also particularly delicious and it never hurts to order an extra helping (unless of course you are watching your carb intake).

Advertisements

Brass Taps Pizza Pub

 495 Danforth Av (416) 466-3403
157 Roncesvalles Avenue – (416) 536-6678
221 Carlton Street – (416) 966-9440
934 College St. (416) 533-4333

Some places specialize in specific type of food. Brass Taps is a toned down, casual version to Il Fornello. If you decide to dine at Brass Taps, don’t go for the burgers, wraps, or pub fare, since it’s just mediocre. Go for the gourmet pizza and the excellent Sunday brunch.

Centrally located in Greektown at Danforth and Logan and on the cusp of Little Italy at College and Ossington, this pub is known for its gourmet pizza (many different varieties and you can even build your own pizza and choose your own crust!) . Some Brass Taps Pizza Pubs play cheesy 80’s music and some hard rock and roll. Decor looks like your typical pub- bar stools, woodwork, and a large bar with an extensive selection of wine, beer, and hard liquor.

Also contains comfortable seating with large tables and booths as well.

They serve brunch Sundays from 11:30am-2:30pm and the menu is fairly extensive. I usually order granola with fruit and yogourt but since the menu has recently changed (perhaps due to new management?), I decided to have the Garden party egg white omelete.

The service is prompt and portions are big. I went with three friends and they had a mix of different items, French toast club sandwich with banana, peanut butter, and nutella, my other friend had a bagel with provolone cheese and red pepper, and another friend had a pizza frittata, which is an open faced omelete on top of pizza dough with pizza sauce and veggies.

All of our dishes arrived fresh and were under $10.00. Average price for brunch items was $5.95-$7.95. I received the wrong egg-white omelete, (I got a mushroom and cheese egg-white omelete). I told her kindly but timidly that I got the wrong item, so she re-ordered the omelete for me for free. Woo-Hoo.

The egg-white omelete was big and fluffy and had a lot of sauteed vegetables, and it came with roasted potatoes in a rosemary, garlic, and herb saute, and it came with four slices of toast. I did not eat the toast or potatoes but I was very satisfied with the egg-white omelete.

Soft drinks are expensive so be warned but portions are big, the 80’s music was absent that day but the overall ambiance was friendly and accomodating. I was thoroughly impressed. The server’s name was Shelley and she was super nice. Looks are deceiving because I would have never thought that this place served brunch- it simply looks like a pub. Many locations in Toronto. Extensive selection of vegetarian meals and excellent vegetarian pizza dishes. Please note that even though Brass Taps all share almost identical menus and the same name, they are not affiliated with each other. In sum, this beats the overpriced trendy il Fornello by a long shot. Some locations like the Little Italy location (on College street) offers free concerts (my friend Christy and I saw Shaye perform there), and other events. Very friendly service. Accepts all cards.

Megas

402 Danforth Av
(416) 466-7771

Loud and crowded, located right on the Danforth near Chester subway station, this large spacious restaurant serves up traditional Greek fare. Trendy and hip, with young beautiful people, all dressed up, expect crowds and noise on the weekend. The decor is tasteful and not kitschy. The menu is vast and there are about 4-5 vegetarian selections. I had the spanakopita dinner with vegetables and Greek salad. Appetizers are between $5.95-$8.95. and entrees are between $9.95-$16.95. There does not seem to be a drink menu, as soda pop is not advertised but you can order non-alcoholic beverages. Contains a vast wine list. Patrons can dress up or be casual. Place is family friendly but most people are couples, singles, and groups. Summer terrace large and spacious. I went with a few friends and this was my first time, but two of them come in from Montreal and Ottawa specially to eat on the Danforth and they choose Megas for their fresh food, nice presentation, and normal prices. Spanakopita is slightly greasy, just wipe with your napkin. Free butter beans as an introductory appetizer. Bread w/ butter is white and caky (don’t eat it, wait for the main course)

Congee King

 4271 Sheppard Ave E # B
(416) 293-1888

Prior to eating Congee for the first time, I was warned that it was “poor man’s chinese food”. This immediately set off alarm bells. But in the spirit of trying new things, I happily agreed on trekking out to this Scarberian establishment.

Congee is essentially overcooked, mushy rice that is supposed to be very healthy and passes for breakfast in China. To me, it resembles cream of wheat in both look and taste. My grandmother used to transform cream of wheat into her own creation we termed “Smiley Face”. She would sprinkle dabs of Quik cocoa powder for eyes, nose and mouth and then add sugar on top of that. She would tell me to eat my smiley face from the outside in so as to go from cool to hot. What a smart lady.

But I digress, substituting shrimp for the chocolate and sugar is simply no match. Congee ends up tasting like unsweetened cream of wheat even when dipping pieces of sweet bread in it like Congee King provides.

I’m not sure if this restaurant, as implied in the name, serves anything else. If you are looking to try something new, be my guest and try Congee at the King, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Imperial Buffet

24 Lebovic Avenue
(416) 288-9699

1881 Steeles Avenue West
(416) 650-9848

3120 Dixie Road
(905) 848-8388

There is good Chinese food, and there is fake north american ripoff Chinese buffet. Imperial Buffet definitely fits the bill of the latter.

Serving everything from barbequed, short ribs and stir fried noodles to french fries and onion rings, Imperial Buffet takes the prize for the worst faux Chinese food I have ever eaten. Eating there reminded me of my days of turning my less-than-cultured nose up at anything Asian. However, you can’t really consider this Asian per se owing to the large amounts of “North American” food that found its way into the buffet.

I have never eaten at the Mandarin but am told that it is similar. I don’t plan on dining there anytime soon. In short, unless I am completely out of Scarborough lunch spots I will never go here again.

Gamberoni

3238 Yonge St.
(416) 482-3063

Before I discovered the vast array of foreign foods available in Toronto, I used to think of “international food” in the context of Italian and other. Going to Gamberoni was an easy way for my parents to introduce my young tastebuds to a different culture without me whining that the restaurant smelled funny.

After a long hiatus from Gamberoni, I returned there a few months ago (sometime in 2003) and realized I still liked this place. With a distinctly traditional feel, Gamberoni recreates a homestyle Italian atmosphere while keeping true to the food.

A regular order for me here, which may not appear on the chalkboard menu, is the traditional veal parmagiana with pasta and vegetables. I am not particularly fond of the watery pasta or the tasteless vegetables but the veal is delicious. So are the typical appetizers of caesar salad and bruschetta.

Kimling Chinese Restaurant

Kimling Chinese Restaurant
2173 Lawrence Ave. E.
416-285-0289

Out in Scarborough, at the nexus of the Universe where Danforth meets St. Clair; I have discovered a “new” type of food.  Hakka Cuisine is a mix of Indian and Chinese. The word “hakka” actually means nomadic, which to me implies a mix when it comes to food. This may not be new for you but I had never heard of this style before.

Out of the few Hakka restaurants I’ve tried, Kimling, located just east of Birchmount on Lawrence, is the best. In a clean, small square room, Kimling offers a wide variety of lunch special dishes for $4.50 + tax. The portions are quite large and equally as filling.

I shared an order of curry chicken and diced chicken with red pepper as well as getting an appetizer plate of vegetable pakoras. The chicken dishes would have been more than enough even though the pakoras were admittedly delicious. I found the curry chicken to be a bit bland though nothing a little bit of hot sauce at the table couldn’t fix. The red pepper chicken was tasty and spiced just right.

If you can’t settle on one Asian cuisine, try them both by eating Hakka.