Belly Busters

3447 Yonge Street
(416) 489-6051

This hole-in-the-wall submarine shop along Yonge St. just south of York Mills has legendary status amongst my brother and his friends. They especially like to “hit” this place late at night when they are red-eyed and suffering from a bad case of the self induced munchies.

After hearing the praises of these subs for so long I popped in for a take-out order one rushed Friday evening before heading up north to the family cottage. Trying to remember four separate sub orders for people with selective tastes was not an easy task; but with the help of the owner who also prepared the submarines I was able to get everything right. I have a soft spot for restaurants where the owner also prepares the food while cohorting with the patrons. It shows a sense of pride, dedication and intimacy that is missing from larger restaurants (see Mystic Muffin review)

I must admit, I am not the biggest sub fan, but my turkey/bacon sub was generally quite good. Really, I only have Mr. Sub and Subway to compare it to so I can say this is the best out of those three.

Now Lounge

189 Church Street
(416) 364-1301

The first time I went to the Now Lounge, I was taken there by my employer who was attempting to woo me into accepting a full time position. I was impressed by his apparent insight in treating me to a funky meal at this my favourite local newspaper’s establishment. I also enjoyed the photo exhibit adorning the walls of this lounge cum restaurant which came to realize was a continuously changing feature of the joint. Part and parcel of the company’s culture, I was told, was the tolerant attitude they shared, owing to the store’s location on Church St., down the way from the gay village. I took this bit of news positively, though I don’t know why a company’s location should have anything to do with tolerant values. The delicious grilled vegetable sandwich with goat cheese didn’t hurt matters and by the time I graduated University I firmly secured my place amongst the cogs of corporate machinery.

Now Lounge became somewhat of a lunch staple at my downtown workplace as subsequent visits continued to please………… until suddenly the chef quit and the restaurant closed down for “retooling” for what seemed like forever. When it re-opened months later with little fanfare and a much shortened menu, the tasty grilled veggie sandwich that I had once enjoyed was gone as was my satisfaction level. I reverted to eating a plate of nacho chips with sour cream, salsa and cheese. The service also declined and on more than one visit I was forced to ask my waitress how much longer it would take for my food to arrive.

Despite the decline in general quality, the laid back ambience and the photo exhibits continued. On one occasion during a “twins exhibit”, a co-worker from the same company quipped that Now was the first “gay bar” he had been. Maybe Now’s decline in quality and clientele owes to the fact that I no longer work at the same place.